Leap of Faith
An M7 / Quantum Leap xover
Disclaimer: No one, including Sam, Al, and the Seven, belong to me.
Notes: This story makes the assumption that most readers know about the ideas in Quantum Leap and the M7 ATF AU. Thanks Mel.
In a flash of light, Dr. Sam Beckett became aware. He was standing next to a warehouse with a pair of binoculars in his hands. Not knowing what else to do, he raised them to his eyes. Looking around, he saw nothing unusual, just a bunch of empty warehouses. He almost dropped the binoculars when he heard a voice in his ear, "Delta Three to Delta One, do you see anything?"
Sam looked around and brought his hand up to the headset he was wearing. He wasn't sure how, or if, to respond. Again the voice called, "Delta One, I repeat, do you see anything?" this time with a bit more urgency. Cautiously Sam responded, "Nothing yet." This seemed to satisfy the voice and it stopped asking questions.
"Where the hell are you, Al?" Sam wasn't too concerned about the absence of his partner. Some leaps took him longer to get there, and this one seemed to be starting off slow. Of course, Sam had often found that could change any second. With no sign of Al, Sam began to look for clues to his current situation. He was wearing a Kevlar vest, dressed entirely in black, and carrying a fairly large handgun. Okay, so he was probably in law enforcement of some kind.
From behind him came a familiar noise, the sound of the Imaging Chamber door opening. He turned and saw his best friend and "guide," Al Calavicci, step out of the lighted doorway and walk over to him. "How's it going, Sam?" The Rear Admiral was dressed in a colorful suit and carried an unlit cigar.
"Tame for once. I seem to be almost alone here."
"Not hardly. There are six other members of your team scattered around the area providing back up to another team. You're Chris Larabee, the leader of ATF Team Seven. Your men work out of an office in the Federal Building."
"And?" Sam prompted.
"And as far as Ziggy can tell, it's damn near a 100 percent chance you're here to save a member of your team from being killed."
"On this mission?" Sam questioned anxiously, he'd rather not have the 'moment of truth' so soon in a leap.
"No, calm down," Al told him. "Today is strictly backup and nothing's gonna happen. A couple guys from another team are in that warehouse," Al pointed to the building that Sam had been facing when he leaped in. "In about two minutes you'll get a call for 'all clear' when they successfully complete their sting."
Sam released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "So when am I supposed to save this guy?"
Al pushed some buttons on his colorful 'remote.' Nothing happened. Frustrated, he smacked it on its side then smiled as the information came through. "Okay. It happens in two days, early morning. Your team is ambushed on a mission trying to arrest a gun smuggler named Bishop. Everyone is banged up a bit, and one guy doesn't make it."
"Delta One, the way is clear, thanks for your help," Sam's headset squawked.
Sam passed on that information to Al, who instructed the leaper how to relay the all clear to his team. "Okay, since I'm going to be meeting these guys, I'd better know their names." Sam headed toward where Al said he was to meet his team.
Al agreed, "Let me see if I can get the descriptions to come through." He fiddled with the remote.
Sam saw the men gathered ahead about forty yards away. "C'mon, Al. I need the names."
"Here we go. The huge guy is Josiah Sanchez. Buck Wilmington is the tall guy with the mustache next to him. John Dunne is the youngest man, and Nathan Jackson is the black man leaning against the back of the vehicle. Ezra Standish is the gentleman standing directly in front of the van."
"That's only five," whispered Sam. They were getting closer and he didn't want his team to see him talking to himself.
"Vin Tanner must be coming." They had arrived at the van, so Sam couldn't say anything more to Al.
"Everyone all right?" Sam questioned the group.
"Hell, yeah, Pard," Buck answered. "We was just getting a bit bored waiting around out there."
"It's better than the alternative when there could be a chance of someone getting hurt," Josiah stated.
Nathan snorted. "Especially with this group. We could use a peaceful assignment."
"Mr. Jackson, where's your sense of adventure?"
"I've had enough adventure for a little while, Ezra."
Sam looked around the group making sure he fit the names with the faces. He remembered he was still one man short. "Aren't we missing someone?" he asked.
"Right here, Chris," came a voice from right behind him.
Sam jumped a little and turned around. "You sure know how to sneak up on a person," he said to the longhaired man who'd showed up.
Vin looked at Chris. There was something off about him. "You okay, Cowboy?"
Sam looked around and answered, "I'm fine. It's just been a long day." He turned to the rest of the team. "Let's get back to the office." Sam saw Vin still watching him and hurriedly got into the passenger seat of the van, while Josiah took the wheel.
Al had stood back, monitoring the interplay, and now moved to talk to Sam before the van took off. "I'm going to go talk to Larabee. I'll meet you back at the ATF office later." He punched a few keys on his remote and the imaging chamber door opened, and slid shut behind him.
Sam caught Vin staring at him on the ride back to the office. He tried to allay Vin's suspicions by smiling at him, but that only seemed to make Vin frown more. Sam turned back and decided to stare out the window and remain silent for the rest of the return trip. He listened to the men insult each other and was more than a little relieved when they reached the federal building. Josiah pulled the van into the garage and everyone piled out.
Sam thought quickly about what should be done at the end of a lawman's assignment. He grabbed two things out of his Swiss-cheesed mind, and went with them. "All right, guys. I want Vin and John to take the weapons back to the armory. The rest of you start on your reports." Everyone had been moving toward the elevators, but stopped and turned to stare at 'Chris.' Sam realized he'd done something wrong, but didn't know what, or how to fix it. In this type of situation, he'd found the best way to deal with it was play dumb. He walked straight past the men and into the open elevator.
Since Sam didn't know which floor the offices were on, he situated himself in the rear so one of the others would have to push the floor button. The six men surreptitiously watched their leader as they rode up to their floor. The longest and most silent elevator trip ever ended with a ding. Sam saw there were only six desks so he knew one of the doors must lead to his office; it was just a matter of picking the right one. One of the three rooms had a big picture window with a kitchen beyond, so that was obviously the break room. He had a fifty- fifty chance with the two others. He walked past the desks and headed to the door on the left. He opened it and saw a long table with a dozen chairs around it. Oops, he thought. Conference room. He backed out and headed to the other door. He glanced around and saw Ezra and Vin watching him in confusion. He smiled nervously and practically ran into his office.
Ezra looked over at Vin and raised his eyebrows. Vin shrugged.
"What is wrong with him?" asked JD. The five men gazed questioningly at Vin.
He looked right back at his teammates and said, "I reckon he's a mite tired." Vin had no idea what was going on with his best friend, but he was going to figure it out. "C'mon JD, let's take the guns back that we borrowed."
Sam leaned against the door to "his" office. This was going to be harder than he thought. Looking around the office, he noticed it was very tidy. Not empty, though, he thought, seeing a spur on the desk along with a picture of the team on a fishing trip. Noting that there were seven men in the picture, Sam studied it to find out what he looked like now. He hadn't yet been able to view a mirror, so he was at a loss. He looked at the seventh man, whom he'd not yet seen, and assumed he was Larabee. He had blond hair, and a piercing gaze, but was smiling with the rest of the gang. He had his hand resting on the shoulder of the longhaired agent, Tanner. That would explain why Tanner had been looking at him funny. They must be good friends. Sam would have to be careful not to slip up around him.
Sam heard Al coming in, and turned to face him. "So who do I need to protect?" the leaper asked his old friend.
"Me!" Al responded vehemently.
Sam laughed at his friend's frustration. "What are you talking about?"
"That jackass, Larabee. He's completely uncooperative. He refuses to help us at all, just keeps demanding to see his men and be released."
"Didn't you tell him what's going on?"
"I tried, but it was hard to talk over him yelling at me and cursing. I figure next time I take some jarheads in with me, we gag him, and make him listen."
Sam let Al finish his rant before asking the question again. "So who do I have to save?"
"Vin Tanner; he's the sharpshooter. He's going to be too busy watching out for the rest of the team, and is ambushed. By the time the rest of the team can get to him, it's too late."
"So what happens?"
"Larabee is inconsolable, and he refuses to come to work anymore. Apparently he lost his wife and son in a car bomb a few years ago, and this was the last straw. The team splits up, and everyone goes their separate ways."
Sam was surprised; Larabee and Tanner must be close, almost like brothers. He thought back on the loss of his own brother, Tom, and vowed that he wouldn't let that happen to Larabee. "So I've got to keep Tanner alive," he told his holographic partner.
Vin returned from the armory with JD. He sent the kid over to talk with Buck and continued on to his boss' office. He didn't know what was going on with Larabee, but he aimed to find out. As he raised his hand to knock on the door, he heard Chris' voice from inside. It sounded like he was carrying on a one-sided conversation; maybe he was on the phone. He heard the phrase: So I've got to keep Tanner alive. Vin decided enough was enough. He tapped on the door and let himself in.
To his surprise, Chris wasn't on the phone, or even near it. He was in the middle of his office gesturing to the empty air. Vin entered his friend's office and closed the door behind him. "What the hell is going on, Cowboy?" the sharpshooter demanded.
The object of his attention whirled around, eyes wide with shock. "Hey there, uh, Vin," he stammered. "I was just, uh, coming to talk to everyone." He smiled slightly, then remembered that Al had told him the real Larabee was grumpy, to say the least. He turned his grin into a frown and ordered, "Why don't you go inform the team there's a meeting in ten minutes in the conference room."
Tanner's eyes narrowed, "Who were you talking to?"
"Me," Sam tried to pull his innocent act. "I was just talking to myself, sorting things out in my head."
"Are you feeling all right? You've been acting strange."
"I'm fine," reassured Sam. "I've just got a funny feeling about this mission."
Tanner looked like he wanted to say more, but he just nodded and left. Sam released his breath in relief. "He knows something's up, Al."
"Tough. There's no way he could guess what's really going on. Now go in there and save that kid!" Al poked at the remote, opening the door to the imaging chamber. "And I have a date with Tina," he reported with a sly smile, exiting.
Vin informed his teammates about the meeting and then went to sit at his desk. Ezra was questioning Nathan about a medical documentary he'd watched the night before on The Learning Channel, so the sharpshooter had a few moments to think before the meeting.
His friend had been acting odd all day, ever since the backup mission earlier. Vin was worried, but Chris hadn't actually done anything wrong, he just wasn't acting like Chris. The sharpshooter looked around the office at his fellow team members, who seemed indifferent to Chris' manner. Vin decided to keep his concerns to himself for now. Hopefully his best friend would snap out of whatever was wrong, soon. He stood up and followed the others to the conference room.
"I just wanted to catch you before you all left for the day," Sam reported, glancing around at the six men encircling the table. He cleared his throat nervously and continued. "There will be a slight change in the assignments for Thursday morning's meet."
"This late? What's wrong with the plan we already set up?" asked Sanchez.
"There's nothing wrong with it," Sam assured the agent. "I just feel there's a weak point we have to take care of."
"What point?" inquired the youngest.
"Maybe if you were quiet long enough, JD, he'd tell us," Wilmington scolded.
Sam realized the mistake he'd made earlier. John Dunne goes by his initials. "Okay, you two knock it off," he said at the squabbling partners. "JD, I'd like you to go solo in the surveillance van, while Josiah backs up Tanner."
"Mr. Larabee, why have you chosen to change the directions at this late stage?" Standish inquired, slicing straight through Sam with his clear green eyes.
"I just have a hunch," the leaper replied.
Sam was relieved that Team Seven knew better than to dismiss their leader's hunches.
He finished the meeting quickly and sent everyone home. He wanted to make sure he was the last to leave, in case he had trouble locating Larabee's vehicle. Luckily he'd found the ATF leader's wallet and keys in a desk drawer earlier, and looked up the directions to his house on the Internet. Thank goodness for the Internet! It looked to be a straightforward route.
After checking to make certain everyone had left, Sam made his way to the elevator, punching the button for the garage. Stepping off, the leaper saw a few cars and one large black truck. Pushing the button on the remote key chain, the lights on the truck flashed. Grinning, he headed toward the vehicle. He stopped for fast food on the way home, not having eaten anything since the leap. Reaching the ranch, he was a little surprised at the size of the place.
Parking the Dodge next to the house, he heard horses in the barn and knew he'd better take care of them before he settled himself. During his numerous leaps, he'd had a few occasions to work with equines, and was familiar with the necessary care. He set about his tasks with determination. Sam found that Larabee kept everything organized and easy to find, so within an hour he'd cleaned and fed the horses, and entered the house.
Sam always felt like an intruder, especially in cases like this where he was alone. When he had people around, or a family to deal with, his mind was occupied sufficiently so he didn't have time to think. Now, going through a stranger's house and belongings, he felt as if he was trespassing.
Any further rumination was cut off by the sound of the imaging chamber door. "Hi, Al," he called to his partner as he turned to greet him.
"Don't 'Hi, Al' me. What did you do?" the older man demanded, waving his cigar in Sam's face.
"What are you talking about? I did what you told me to do, protect Tanner."
"But now the young kid is killed!"
"Dunne will be wearing his headphones in the van, and be so focused on listening to the deal, he fails to hear someone sneak up on him," Al continued to read the report off the remote. "Wilmington blames Larabee for putting Tanner's safety ahead of Dunne's, and the team breaks up."
"So I just traded one life for another. Now what?"
"You're so much help, Al, thanks." He watched his holographic friend pace through the living room furniture. "Have you tried to talk to Larabee again?"
"He refuses to talk to me. He just curses, and he even threatened to shove my remote somewhere, which will remain unnamed."
"Okay. I'll go over the mission tomorrow, and fill in any holes."
"I'll go back and see if I can get any better info on the bust. And," the admiral waggled his brows, "maybe finish my date with Tina."
After his friend left, Sam resumed his contemplation. If he had to admit it, he was jealous of the camaraderie he'd seen so far on this team. He'd leaped into other units, and into families, but he was never a part of them, always remaining just on the outside. Yes, he had Al, Gooshie, and Ziggy, but he was separated from them as well. But his team was always there for Sam; that he knew, no matter what. And that would be enough.
Sam was tired. Leaping always seemed to drain his energy, not to mention the stress involved during each new undertaking. He walked upstairs, finding the master bedroom easily. Dr. Beckett quickly got ready for bed, sinking beneath the covers, sighing. He was asleep within minutes.
The next day dawned bright and early for Sam. He was awake and up before the alarm rang, and made his way into the shower. He stepped out, wrapped the towel around his waist, and looked in the mirror. The leaper had been too tired last night to wonder about his current persona, but now the questions were at the forefront. The face in the mirror was the same blond man as he had seen in the picture on Larabee's desk. Sam moved his head from side to side and saw Larabee's head respond in kind. Deep green eyes stared back at Sam, and he tried to smile. That looked feral to Sam, so he resumed the frown. The ATF leader was handsome, Sam supposed, if the lean, hard look was in.
He walked over to the closet, wrapped in his towel, to choose his wardrobe. He'd noticed that most the men, save for Standish, dressed fairly casually, and figured that it was the standard fare. Attempting harder to fit in, he scanned the clothes available.
Lots of black.
Sam sighed and grabbed a shirt from the end and a pair of jeans. He slipped into the clothes, slid on a pair of boots, and snagged his jacket off the hook he'd hung it on the night before, and walked out the door.
Buck, Vin, and JD were already in the office when Sam/Chris showed up wearing a pair of black jeans with a tan suede shirt. Sam said good morning to his agents, announced a meeting at ten, and went to his office to work on the mission's plan.
JD stared openmouthed after his boss. "What the heck was he wearing?"
"I think that was the shirt Mary gave 'im last Christmas. But I don't recall 'im ever wearin' it before," the ladies' man mused.
"Is she coming to visit today?"
"Not that I know of, kid."
Vin just sat, thinking.
Ezra, Nathan, and Josiah turned up shortly after Chris' arrival, and JD filled them in on Chris' attire and the scheduled meeting.
"What do you suppose this one's about?" asked the medic.
"One can never know," his partner answered.
"Perhaps Mr. Larabee will dance the Lambada?" offered Ezra.
"Doubtful," Buck lamented. "It is the forbidden dance."
"Let's go over the game plan," announced the leader, starting the discussion.
"Bishop and his cronies will come to the east-end warehouse on Fisher Avenue at approximately six tomorrow morning," Buck stated.
Ezra continued, "Mr. Wilmington and I will arrive shortly thereafter with our currency, and enact an exchange for their weapons."
"How many men expected?" Vin asked.
"Mr. Bishop likes to travel with an entourage of five men, heavily loaded."
"I'll be up in the rafter by four, making sure there's no double cross." Vin nodded to JD next to him.
"And I'll be alone in the van, recording the entire setup."
The profiler took over, "I'll be inside hiding, and covering Vin's backside." He grinned when Vin turned in his chair to eye his own ass.
Nathan looked to Chris, "Then you and I will be standing by outside for the signal to move in. And, of course, Team Three will be backup."
"That sounds great," Sam told his men. "Except for one thing." He heard the team groan in unison. "It's another hunch."
"Hell, Pard. Any more hunches and we'll have to postpone in order to enlist another team to backup our backup," Wilmington chuckled.
"I'd like Josiah to be with JD in the van," he motioned to the big man. "I don't like the idea of him being in there alone. Nathan will go and watch Vin's back, while I wait outside."
Silence met the leaper's request. The six men exchanged glances, but didn't respond. "How's that sound?" Sam ventured to ask.
"Fine, Chris," Nathan declared. "We'll go over the arrangements, okay?"
"Good, all right." Sam picked up the mission brief and returned to the relative safety of Larabee's office, leaving his team to make plans in the conference room.
"Gentlemen. What are we going to do?" Ezra asked, after their leader departed.
"About what?" Vin asked in return.
Josiah looked directly at the sharpshooter. "We all can see there's something wrong with Chris."
"He's acting weird, Vin," the youngest added. "You don't think he's started drinking, do you?"
"Chris ain't no alcoholic, JD," Vin defended. "And he don't smell like liquor."
"I don't think he's drinking," Buck concurred. "He may be headed for a nervous breakdown."
"Maybe someone slipped him something?" Nathan added.
"Yer all nuts. Chris is having some problems, sure, but if we go off half-cocked, Travis'll take away his command." Vin made eye contact with each of his teammates. "Do any of you want to work for someone other than Chris?"
None of the agents wanted that.
"So what do you suggest, Mr. Tanner?" the undercover agent asked.
"Give 'im time. We'll watch and take care of him, and maybe find out why he's acting loopy."
"We can only protect him for so long, Vin," warned the medic.
"I'll do whatever it takes."
Sam leaned back in the desk chair and sighed. Hopefully it was all taken care of, and he could relax a little. No such luck. His holographic partner was yelling at him once again.
"Now what, Al?"
"Now you, or rather, Larabee, dies."
"What? How can that be? You'll be there to watch my back."
"Apparently it won't be enough. I don't know, maybe something goes wrong."
"It's time to get Larabee's help."
"He won't cooperate."
"Tell him the truth. Let him know that Vin or some other team member will die if he doesn't help. If he won't listen, tie him up and make him!"
Al returned within an hour to relay the instructions from the real Team Seven leader. "Tell them everything."
"You've got to be joking, Al. What will that accomplish?"
"He says we're going to fail if we try to do this alone. He says, and I quote, 'Team Seven is a team, first and foremost.' All of them work together, that's how they get things done."
"I can't believe I'm even thinking about this. They're going to lock me away."
"It's better than being dead, Sam."
When Sam was finished with his explanation, no one spoke. Sam waited, and still no one spoke.
"It makes sense."
Shocked faces turned toward the Texan.
"No, it don't, Vin."
"I believe Mr. Larabee has finally disconnected from reality."
"I know it don't make sense, really. But I do know one thing," Vin pointed at Sam. "That ain't Chris. I'd rather believe in this time travel thing, than him being a pod person."
JD started chuckling.
"He's right," Josiah stated with finality. "We are a team, and that's how we'll deal with this: together."
"Well, all right. Let's make ourselves a plan!" Buck crowed.
Thursday morning, Team Seven, along with Sam, executed the plan. JD called it, "The Protective Circle." Everyone watched everyone else's back. No one so focused on himself that he was unaware of what was around him. Al dropped in to help, just as Martin Bishop arrived with the guns.
Ezra and Buck purchased the weapons, and Bishop and his men were arrested. One of his men was caught sneaking around by both Nathan and Sam. He was taken care of directly, and Team Three came forward to help them wrap it up.
The excitement was over, yet Sam wasn't leaping. He looked around at the six men congratulating each other over by the surveillance van. "Why am I still here, Al? Everyone will be all right, right?"
"Yeah, they all are okay, for now." Al looked over at the gathered ATF team. "I think you're needed over there."
Sam Beckett walked over to the van, stopping in front of the agents.
"We wanted to thank you, Sam." Vin extended his hand, clasping the leaper's forearm in a hearty shake. "We owe ya."
Sam smiled and returned the grip. "You're welcome. It was a pleasure to work with you."
"Look us up if ya ever get back this way, Sam. You're part of our team now," Buck told him, shaking his hand.
One-by-one, the other Team Seven agents came forward, saying their goodbyes. Ezra gave a two-fingered salute. Sam stepped back and returned the salute. The last thing he saw before his leap was the respect shining through the eyes of the ATF agents.
Chris Larabee saw his men gathered around the van. "What the hell y'all standing around for? Let's get this mess taken care of."
Vin grinned widely, "Yer back."
Chris looked at his best friend, confused. "Back? I've been here with you the whole time, Tanner."
JD shook his head. "But you weren't, Sam was."
"What are you talking about, who's Sam?"
"He's a doctor of quantum physics who leaped into your body to make sure no one from our team was killed on this mission."
At their leader's incredulous look, the others jumped to the youth's defense.
"It's true. He kept changing the mission until we were sure no one would be left out as a target."
"And he had you wearing tan."
"And you smiled a lot."
The blond walked away from his men, shaking his head. "I think this case has been a little hard on y'all. You're starting to hallucinate."
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org