Fic: Top Secret part 21/21 (QL/XF/L&C, MSR, Lois/Clark)

Georgetown Hospital
April 1, 1995

Carmen looked up as the strange man entered her hospital room with a sheepish grin on his face. Approaching the bed, he pulled a carefully wrapped bouquet out from behind his back. “These are for you.”

The psychic smiled a little, uncomfortable with the sense she was getting from him. “Thank you…I think.” She took the flowers from him and stared at them with a creased brow and a frown. “Might I ask why?”

“For saving my life,” was the simple reply.

“Oh.” Was that how I ended up in the hospital?

When she looked up again, he was studying her. “Something wrong?”

Carmen shook her head. “No…I’m just a little…embarrassed. I–I don’t remember you. I’m sorry.”

“What do you remember?”

Carmen closed her eyes for a moment as she searched her memory. “I had gone downtown…to the FBI Building. I don’t know why, but I felt I was supposed to be there. I needed to find someone, but I didn’t know who or why. Then…there was a bright light…” Her voice trailed off.

“You don’t remember calling my name?” he asked, seeming disappointed. Carmen shook her head.

“I don’t believe I know your name. I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right…” there was a dullness in his eyes that hadn’t been there when he walked in. His mouth twisted into a wry grin. “But you can still keep the flowers.”

She smiled. “Thank you.”

He turned to leave the room and Carmen got a glimpse of a woman waiting for him on the other side of the glass. She froze, eyes widening in recognition.

She hadn’t been completely honest with her visitor–she did remember bits and pieces of the day she was missing, but what she remembered could only be described as trading souls with another woman. She had seen another face in the mirror, and had been told that, for the time being, someone else was taking her place to set something right.

The redhead was that someone else.

“Are you all right?” Scully asked, reading the morose look on her partner’s face as he emerged from the hospital room.

“She doesn’t remember anything,” he replied.

The other agent’s expression softened. “I’m sorry.”

Mulder grimaced in frustration, turning back to gaze through the window at the dark-haired beauty. “Yeah, so am I.” He didn’t say anything else. He didn’t tell her that the woman he’d just spoken to had been like a completely different person, distant and polite, not the one who had seemed to know him as well as…

As well as his partner.

Other than Scully, Carmen was one of the only people he’d ever really connected with on an emotional level.

Well, there was no point in mentioning now that he’d foolishly thought there was a reason she’d saved his life. That perhaps in some odd way, they were connected…

With a sigh, he turned back to his partner. “Hey, Scully, feel like checking out the cafeteria with me?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Do you mean to suggest that the two of us actually eat there together, instead of one of us waiting for the other to recover from something?”

He grinned in response. “That was the general idea.”

His smile was infectious. “Sure. Chances like this don’t come around too often.” She turned in the well-known direction of the hospital cafeteria.

Still smiling, Mulder let his hand drift down to rest on the small of her back, as it did almost automatically whenever they walked somewhere together.

Project Quantum Leap
January 30, 1996

Admiral Al Calavicci set the phone down with a satisfied sigh. Even though he hadn’t exactly been forthcoming in explaining his reasons for the request he’d made, the Committee had approved Mack Sherman’s appointment to the position of head janitor on Project Quantum Leap. Of course, he hadn’t really doubted they would. Sam…the one from their future…wouldn’t have Leaped out of the old janitor if it weren’t going to work, he was sure of that. With a sigh, the Admiral leaned back in his seat, his eyes restlessly roaming the walls of his office. Even though he hadn’t admitted it earlier, it *was* hard knowing that Sam was still going to be Leaping around four years from now. But at least he knew his friend would still be alive… He frowned. Actually, with time travel, even that could still change.

“Ziggy,” he spoke softly. “Enter Mack Sherman’s name into the personnel files for the Project.”

“I have already done so,” the computer replied smugly. “In the meantime, Admiral, I think you might want to begin heading towards the Imaging Chamber–Doctor Beckett has Leaped again.”

Al smiled wryly. “I’ll be right down…”

June 14, 2000

“Admiral, you’re wanted in the personnel office,” Ziggy informed Al dutifully.

He frowned, running a hand across his mouth. “What for?”

“The new technician has arrived.”

New technician? They hadn’t hired a new technician. Unless…

“Ziggy, is this person here as a result of Sam’s Leap?”

“Yes, Admiral.”

“All right. I’ll be right up.”

There was no sign of the state of near-panic the Project had been in before he stepped into the Imaging Chamber for the last time on this Leap. Which wasn’t surprising; except for himself and Ziggy, no one knew that things had ever been any different. The threat of takeover by Abruzzi and Zoe had vanished in the moment that Scully had arrested Heinrich, and the chance of anyone else making such a threat had been destroyed along with the tape by Clark’s heat vision. All was peaceful and, he reflected with a smile, Alia was safe. She would never have had to endure the torture that Leaping had been for her. He only wished he could have told Sam that…

The door to the personnel office whooshed open at his approach. Verbena and Donna looked up at him with matching smiles from where they had been discussing something with the young woman who he guessed was the new technician. At the sound of the door, she turned, and Al stopped short in the doorway, his mouth dropping open in astonishment.

“Al,” Verbena began, placing a friendly hand on the young woman’s shoulder. “I’d like you to meet our new Imaging Technician…she’s another one of those MIT geniuses, not unlike Dr. Beckett…”

A genuine smile, without fear or pain, crept slowly into the familiar blue eyes of the young technician Beeks was introducing.

“…Alia Abruzzi.”

February 2, 1996
Washington DC

For some reason, Mulder and Scully decided to have lunch at the Blue Moon Diner the Friday after they returned from New Mexico. It was strange, being there together the way normal people went to a restaurant. In fact, the residual memories were so strong that Scully was briefly startled to hear her partner call her by her own name, and Mulder had to be steered around the bar, since he’d forgotten he couldn’t just walk through it. Ironically enough, they were even led to the same booth they had occupied years (or days) before.

Scully ran her fingers thoughtfully across the table, her brow creased in concentration. “This feels so weird. I’m having a sudden urge to play with beads I’m not wearing.”

Her partner laughed, leaning back against the cushions of his seat and watching her with an unusually unreadable expression on his face. “I know. You still look like a double exposure.”

“I want to sort of put it out of my mind, as if it never happened,” she confessed. “I mean, I never even believed time travel was possible, let alone that I’d ever do it. And up until we came here, I could barely remember it. It was almost like a dream…”

“But are you glad you did it?” Mulder asked in complete seriousness.

“Of course I am,” she retorted. “Do you honestly think I would ever regret saving your life?”

His eyes caught a glimmer of mischief again. “I don’t know. Would you?”

Scully just glared at him, the expression rendered fairly ineffectual by the smile with it. “I haven’t yet, but if you keep trying to make me, you might succeed.”

“What can I get for you two?” a waitress interrupted.

Mulder quickly held up his hand to silence his partner, his eyes twinkling. “Allow me. Root beer and a grilled cheese sandwich for the lady, a cheeseburger and iced tea here.”

The waitress departed without comment and Scully sighed. “Mulder, that sandwich is not very nutritious, and I’m not exactly trying to hide my identity from you anymore…”

He just stared at her innocently and made no move to reorder. Finally, she gave up with a disapproving shake of her head. “You’re incorrigible.”

“But lovable?” he quipped in return.

She opened her mouth to reply, but a sudden look of surprise had come over his face and he stared fixedly at a point behind her head. Turning and realizing that he was staring at the juke box, she focused her thoughts on the music filtering through the diner, an amazed smile spreading over her face. Mulder, you were right–there IS a conspiracy.

“Well, what do you know, Scully, they’re playing our song.” He grinned.

Turning back to him, the other agent returned the smile and slipped out of the booth. “Dance with me, Mulder?”

He took her hand, and they moved out into the middle of the floor, slipping into each other’s arms with the comfortable familiarity of two souls woven of the same cloth but different colors, not quite a tapestry, but always intertwined at the fringe.

You have to believe we are magic
Nothing can stand in our way…

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