They had prepared him as well as they could, but a crash course in Earth politics, the Enterprise
’s defenses, and the Xindi situation was just not going to be enough. “Yanno,” Jenny commented, “when we beam you over, maybe you’ll just leap again.”
“I doubt it,” Sam replied, “I always have to do something first. What about Daniels’s stuff?”
“Yes, that,” Malcolm said, “We could try.” He glanced over at Commander T’Pol.
“Yes,” she said, “let us make the attempt.” Everyone else departed.
The four of them walked over to cabin E-14, which had been Crewman Daniels’s old quarters. Once his roommate, Craig Willets, had been moved out, months before, the cabin had been locked. It contained some of the time traveler’s equipment but it had not been disturbed. Malcolm worked the combination on the heavy lock on the door and got it to open. “Jennifer, you and I had best wait outside.”
Sam and T’Pol walked in. “It just looks like a guy’s bunk,” he commented.
“Here,” she said, showing Sam a hand-held device that was roughly rectangular in shape although the top part was rounded a bit. “This seems to have been some form of scanner.”
Sam stared at the greyish device, which had a small screen. He sat down at a desk in the room. “Oh, God.”
“What is the trouble?”
Sam just sat there, and started to weep. “It’s not the same thing. Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t know anything about that device. But, God, Al used to carry around something like this. It was a handlink to Ziggy.”
“And this is a similar-appearing device? Do you believe it would work in a similar fashion, Doctor?”
Sam thought for a while. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. But this is, you gotta understand, Commander. I’ve been away from my family for a decade, and more. Maybe even a lot more time, because it all seems elastic, like maybe time doesn’t really pass for me the way it does for someone like you. But this, it reminds me. I remember my best friend, Al. And I remember, oh God, I remember Donna. Don’t you, don’t you understand my feelings? Don’t you care
at all?” He looked up at her, standing nearby.
“Doctor, no one explained to you, but my species, we practice a form of emotional suppression. We are not without feeling. We are simply less demonstrative.” Yet despite the fact that it would be better not to touch him, she lightly put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. And instantly, T’Pol’s touch telepathy was engaged.
She saw him leaping, into a dark-skinned man seated at a segregated lunch counter in the old South, and into Lee Harvey Oswald, and into Elvis Presley. She saw him in the jungles of Vietnam and on the ledge of a building, saving a suicidal woman.
She took her hand away. The jumble of sights, and the cacophony of sounds, had been in her mind for less than five seconds. “I believe you, Dr. Beckett, and without reservation. I am sorry that this is your existence now.”
“Thank you,” he whispered. “We should go. These things belong to Daniels – whatever they are. They can’t help us now.” He followed her out of the small bunk and dried his eyes.
Malcolm looked at them. “I take it there was no help to be found in there?”
Sam shook his head, but T’Pol contradicted him. “There was one success. I was able to confirm Dr. Beckett’s story. We will have Ensign Sato attempt to contact Degra in an hour, and arrange to transport the doctor to that ship.”
“Well, that’s a spot of positive progress,” Malcolm observed as he put the big, heavy lock back on cabin E-14’s door. “Ensign Crossman, why don’t you take our guest to wherever on the ship he wishes to go until then? Commander, I take it that’s permitted?”
“Of course,” T’Pol replied. “I will inform Commander Tucker of your brief absence, Ensign Crossman.”
Jenny nodded and Reed and T’Pol departed. Jenny looked at Sam. “Well, you heard the man. Anyplace in particular you wanna see?”
“Archer’s quarters,” Sam replied, “or do you think that’s too personal? I just, I wanna see a little bit about what makes him tick. Does that make sense to you?”
“Of course it does,” she said, “after all; he’s having conversations with your
friends. I think it’s only fair.” She took him to the captain’s quarters.
“It’s funny,” Sam remarked a few minutes later, thumbing through Archer’s clothes in the closet, “but the process of leaping means that I get the clothes and the person I leap into, well, I guess they get whatever I was wearing when I first started out.”
“So it’s something out of style?”
“Maybe,” Sam smiled.
“Where do the other people go?” Jenny asked.
“They used to go to Project Quantum Leap. I get the feeling they don’t anymore, except for Archer, right now, of course. I have to believe that those other people are all right, but of course I don’t really know. We had – they have – somebody has – a waiting room.”
“Maybe there’s another one. You know, with old magazines and a potted plant that needs watering,” she joked.
“Probably.” He smiled, and the skin around his eyes crinkled.
“What’s it like? Leaping, I mean.”
“Well,” he sighed, “your identity gets pretty messed up. You stop being your own person, but that’s kind of how it’s got to be. You fall in love with whoever they love; you dislike whoever they don’t like. You get their taste in clothes, their food preferences, and even their speech patterns. Because I don’t have a guide these days, it’s all rather confusing. I go from place to place and person to person, and I’ve only got my own wits about me, when I try to figure out where and when I am. The people aren’t always friendly. This has been a damned lucky leap, far as I’m concerned.”
“You must speak about a thousand languages.”
“I speak whatever the, I guess you could call them the host
– I speak whatever they speak. Then I go someplace else and I’ve forgotten all that. All I remember are the highlights and now, increasingly, I remember more and more about my first
– I mean earlier
“You said first
“Yeah, I suppose I did. Jenny,” Sam said, “I sometimes wonder if I’m dead. Does that make any sense to you?”
“All I can go on is what I see before me,” she pointed out, “I’m an engineer, remember? If you were dead, I get the feeling Dr. Phlox would’ve noticed that, know what I mean?”
“Probably, yeah.” Sam turned back to looking at Archer’s possessions. “I like the artwork. And this model is pretty neat.”
“That looks like a kid’s toy,” Jenny commented. “I bet he had it when he was little. His father built our engine. Or, rather, Henry Archer designed it.”
“Holy cow. See now, there’s another place where we differ; my father was a farmer in Indiana.”
“Have you been to the future? I mean our future.”
“No, and I wish I had now. I’d know how your war turns out. Truth is; this is the first time I’ve been past 2004, ever. I had wondered, at times, whether that was some sort of hard ending, that time had ended and that was that. Of course I was mistaken,” he smiled again.
“Then this really is a different kind of a leap,” Jenny commented, “if it’s close to a hundred years later than you’ve ever gone before. Maybe this is your last leap.”
“Who knows? It could even be that it’s all going to change again. Or this is some sort of fluke. I can’t help feeling that it has something to do with Archer, although God only knows what.”
There was a communications chime, and Jenny answered it. “Got it; Crossman out.” She looked at Sam. “Hoshi managed to get a hold of Degra.”
“I guess it’s show time.”