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Disclaimer: The characters from Scarecrow and Mrs. King are the property of Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. I have borrowed the characters without the consent or knowledge of Warner Brothers or Shoot the Moon. The characters of Quantum Leap are copyrighted to Bellisarius Productions. This story, however, is copyrighted to the mentioned author. This story is for entertainment purposes ONLY. If you would like to add it to an archive, please just let me know.

Author’s Notes: I want to extend a very special thank you to Jan for betaing this story for me. I also want to thank Ceeg for giving me permission to build on what she had already written in her SMK/QL crossover stories. If you haven’t already read them, you should, as they are really quite good. "Scarecrow Leap", "A Leap for Byron", and "Never Happened" by Ceeg. Additionally, there is another story that takes place between Ceeg’s stories and this one called “Three Little Spies and a Leaper” and was written by Dottie.

The idea for this story came from a discussion that Jan and I were having about Amanda during Billy’s Lost Weekend. We both thought it was interesting how Amanda’s demeanor changes dramatically during the cab and museum scene, and then at the end, she’s back to the Amanda we all know and love. After talking to Ceeg, who wrote three of the QL/SMK crossover stories currently out there, she thought I should try my hand at writing this story. So, thanks to her prompting, this story is the result of her urging.

Some dialogue and situations have been taken from “Billy’s Lost Weekend” which was written by Tom Chehak, and slightly rewritten or adjusted to fit within this story
The Kalahari Leap

Part 1

Billy Melrose stood in the Agency bullpen, watching half of his best pair of agents as she worked her magic on the computer in front of her. He glanced over at the tired face of Lee Stetson, who sat on the edge of the desk, watching Amanda pull up list after list on the screen. Lee and Amanda had spent the better part of the last forty-eight hours trying to help him put together the pieces of his lost memory. He couldn’t remember much of what happened to him after all of his staff had left the office last Friday night. Every now and then he would remember images, but the images didn’t make sense. He kept having flashes of a Doberman pincher that turned into a dog’s skeleton, a red carpet and a bear. Just the day before, he remembered a girl, Lanni, and was surprised to run into her in the street, but even more surprised when it turned out that the woman was impersonating the real Lanni, who, according to police reports, had turned up dead on Saturday as a Jane Doe.

Now, they were here, in the bullpen, trying to find out what exactly the Kalahari List was. He knew it was something very important, because a woman was dead and his memory of the last forty-eight hours was gone, and to make matters even more interesting, someone was playing games with is memory, trying to get him to remember exactly what the list was and where it might be. With his hands on his hips, he watched as Amanda brought up the information on the last item on her list.

Amanda let out a small sigh as she stared at her computer screen. “Zebra list was an FBI operation during prohibition.” She turned and looked apologetically towards her boss.

“We’ve tried every variation of Kalahari list on the books and still can’t get anywhere.” Frustrated, Billy turned and faced his office.

Lee looked at his friend sympathetically. “Well what about the street?”
“No,” Billy turned back to look at Lee, “nothing!” He waved his hand in the air. “No word.”

“Billy you need some sleep.” Lee gave his boss a concerned look. “You’ve been going at this for forty-eight hours straight.”

“Well, so have you.” Billy’s voice softened as he gazed at his best agent. “Go ahead and knock off.” He looked over at Amanda and then back towards Lee. “You’ve done everything I could ask.”

Amanda shook her head. “No sir,” she glanced at her section chief with a determined look on her face, “we haven’t found the Kalahari List.”

Billy sighed. “I’ll go put on another pot of coffee.” He turned and headed towards the bullpen doors.

“I’ll second that.” Lee rose from his seat on the desk and moved to stand behind Amanda, placing one hand on the desk, and the other on the back of her chair.

Billy paused as he passed the edge of the cubicle. “Oh, before I forget,” he turned around to look at the pair, “I just want you both to know that your relationship, whatever it is, is fine with me.” He gave them a meaningful, kindhearted look. “We all look for something and when we find it, I think we should hang on with everything we’ve got.” He smiled and bounced his hand gently on the top of the cubicle wall, before turning and heading out of the bullpen.

Amanda glanced up at her fiancé with a slightly stunned expression, and found him looking at her with an equally amazed expression. “I wonder where that came from?”

Lee shrugged. “Perhaps this whole situation is making him re-evaluate things. You know, look at things in a different light. He was telling Francine and me about how he originally had plans to be a lawyer, and was wondering if he made the right choice in careers.”

“I can’t imagine this place without Mr. Melrose.” Amanda looked back towards the doors that their boss had just left through. “At least we know we’ll have one person on our side when we’re finally ready to announce our engagement.” She glanced back at Lee.

Lee looked at her with a slightly confused expression. “You don’t think that most of our co-workers will be happy for us?”

Amanda gave Lee a gentle smile as she affectionately patted the hand that was resting on the back of her chair. “Let’s see. First there are all the girls in the steno pool. I’m sure they’ll all be so jealous that I’m the one who finally managed to make an honest man out of you that they’ll probably be giving me dirty looks for months,” her smile grew bigger as she winked at him, “then there’s Francine, I’m not so sure she’s my biggest fan. Sure we get along when we have to, but I just have a feeling that she’ll try and find a way to ruin it.” Her expression turned serious. “And let’s not forget Dr. Smyth. I can almost guarantee he won’t be throwing confetti our way.”

Lee bent down so that he could be eye-level to his fiancée. “Amanda, do you really care what everyone around here thinks?”

Amanda shook her head and smiled reassuringly at him. “No, sweetheart, I don’t. I only care that you love me and that you know how much I love you. Knowing that we have Mr. Melrose’s blessing, even if he doesn’t know the true nature of our relationship, is just a bonus.”

Lee looked back towards the glass windows of the bullpen to make sure that no one was walking by. Of course, since it was pretty early, he didn’t expect anyone else to be here, but he wanted to make sure just in case. Assured that there were no eyes watching them, he leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Amanda’s lips. “I do love you, you know.” He whispered as their lips parted.

“I know.” Amanda smiled at him, then, as she glanced back towards the computer screen, she frowned slightly. “Lee, do you think that Mr. Melrose will lose his job if we can’t find out what the Kalahari List is in time to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.”

Lee shrugged. “I doubt Billy will lose his job. He’s pretty well-respected around here, and if we can’t find the list, there’s no telling that whoever was after the list in the first place would be able to get their hands on it without Billy’s help.”

“But what if they do, get their hands on it, I mean,” Amanda gazed at her fiancé with concern, “and it turns out the list was really important and lives are put into jeopardy?”

“I honestly don’t know.” Lee shook his head slightly. “I don’t think they’ll fire Billy over it, but I do know that it’ll affect him big time. Look at how he’s beating himself up about all of this now.” A movement in the hallway caught his eye, and he stood up as he saw Billy enter through the glass doors with a very excited look on his face.

Billy walked over to the desk Lee and Amanda were still situated in front of. “They just called.” He leaned down and typed on a series of keys on the keyboard in front of Amanda. “They helped me remember a phone call from that agent.” He said as he pointed to the computer screen.

Lee looked at the name currently displayed on the monitor. “Jack Monroe?” He glanced back up at Billy with a confused expression on his face.

Billy stared intently at Lee. “I talked to him Friday. He was running…he was running and he needed help.”

Amanda typed something and then glanced back in her section chief’s direction. “His case status is empty.”

“That’s because he was working on a blind trust operation. No records, no reports, no questions.” Billy paused and then, as he remembered something else, punched his right fist into his left hand. “The Kalahari list. Only three people knew about that: Monroe, Lanni and myself.” Noticing the questioning looks of his agents, he continued, “It’s a list of our African operatives. Lanni tipped Monroe that someone working in the Estoccian Embassy had it on the market.”

“And he couldn’t get it.” Lee concluded.

“Right.” Billy’s eye’s lit up, as more of his memory returned. “Right. He was made, which meant that somebody had to go into the Embassy and get it out of the safe. I went in his place.” He shook his head. “I didn’t make a clean break.” He looked to the side, feeling slightly guilty.

Amanda gave Billy a questioning glance. “Does that mean that you hid it somewhere before the police picked you up?
Leaning both hands on the desk, Billy’s expression was disheartened. “There were over a hundred names on that list. That’s a lot of telegrams to the next of kin.” Standing away from the desk, he looked from Amanda, and then to Lee, who had cleared his throat and was now staring intently at the ground. Billy pushed his troubled thoughts to the back of his mind and decided it was time to get back down to business. “All right, the phone call said to meet on ‘D’ Street, near the corner of Third.”

Lee knew his boss and friend was expecting to go alone, and there was no way he was going to let that happen. “Let’s go.”

“Hold it, hold it…it’s six a.m. The streets are practically empty this time of the morning. If you try to trail me, they’ll spot you like that.” Billy snapped his fingers to emphasize his point.

A slight grin appeared on Lee’s face. “No…they’re not completely empty.” He watched as his friend glanced first at him, then down to Amanda’s curious look, and then back in his direction, and Lee’s grin grew a little wider. “What time did they say to meet you?”

“The person on the other end of the phone said to meet them in half an hour.” Billy looked at his watch. “I’d say right now we have just over twenty minutes.”

“Okay.” Lee glanced over at Amanda. “There’s no time for us to go home and get changed. We’ll have to head down to properties and see what kind of outfits we can come up with.” He reached out his hand to assist her up from her chair.

With a skeptical look on her face, Amanda accepted the offered hand. “Are you going to share your brilliant plan with us?”

Lee grinned. “Amanda, think. What, or should I say who, would be out driving the streets at all hours of the day and night.” He watched as the same idea occurred to her.

“Cab drivers.” Amanda turned a brilliant smile towards her partner.

“Exactly. Now, time’s a’ wasting.” Lee started towards the bullpen doors and Amanda fell into step beside him.

Billy headed towards his office. “I’ve got an extra suit in my office. I’ll change and meet you in the foyer in ten minutes.”

Lee nodded. “See you then.” He held the door open for Amanda and followed her out into the hallway.

Part 2

Amanda stared at the rows of clothing hanging on the racks. She had ridden in many cabs over the years, but all the drivers had been men. What exactly would a female cab driver wear? Knowing that a cab driver wouldn’t be wearing a dress, she grabbed a pair of blue jeans and suddenly she stood frozen in place as an aura of blue light surrounded her.

Just as quickly as it had appeared, the blue light disappeared, and Dr. Sam Beckett found himself staring at a row of woman’s clothing, and holding a pair of woman’s jeans. Looking down, he noticed he was currently wearing a skirt. “Oh, boy.”

“Amanda, come on, we don’t have much time. Pick something and let’s head over to the bathrooms and get changed.”

A spark of recognition dawned in Sam’s mind at both the voice speaking, and the name mentioned. ‘Amanda? Amanda King.’ “Um, Lee?” He sure hoped he had remembered the voice correctly, and it was Lee Stetson he was talking to, if not, he’d probably have a lot to answer for. He was amazed he was even able to remember that much with the Swiss cheese effect the leaps always had on his brain. “What exactly would be appropriate?” He decided it was best to play dumb, and hopefully Lee or whoever it was would give him some clue as to what kind of clothing he was supposed to be choosing.

“A-man-dah” Lee’s impatient voice echoed through the room. “Find a basic top and jacket. Perhaps a baseball cap. Anything that wouldn’t make you look out of place. You’re going to be sitting behind the wheel of a taxicab. What does it matter?”

‘Yep, I definitely leapt into Amanda. And that’s definitely Lee waiting for her, no one who knew the man could mistake that agitated tone of voice for anyone else.’ A small frown crossed Sam’s face. ‘Too bad I won’t be able to see her on this leap. It would have been nice to catch up with her.’ Shaking his head, he got back to the task at hand. “Cab Driver? What the devil would a female cab driver wear?” He mumbled to himself as he spotted a blue top with orange and dark blue stripes. “I guess this is as good as anything.” He took the shirt off the rack and then grabbed a Dodger’s cap, his favorite team, from a nearby shelf. “Okay, I’m good.” He said a little louder as he made his way towards the entrance. Reaching the doorway, he noticed that Lee was already heading down the hallway towards the bathrooms. He approached the men’s room door and was about to follow Lee in, when he quickly remembered that he wasn’t exactly supposed to be a man.

Entering the correct bathroom, Sam glanced at his reflection in the mirror. It was nice to see a friendly face staring back at him, even if it wasn’t his own face. Now he only wished Al would leap in and let him know what he was doing in Amanda’s body. He sure hoped he wasn’t there to save her again. Not that he minded, really, it would just be nice to know that Amanda wasn’t in trouble on this leap.

Not knowing how long it would be before Al found him, and knowing that Lee would probably barge in here if he took too long, Sam entered one of the stalls. Trying his best not to stare at Amanda’s anatomy, he quickly changed out of her current clothes and into the ones that he had picked out from the racks. As he straightened the top out, he started to pull her necklace over the neckline and paused when he noticed the diamond ring hanging next to the diamond-studded heart. ‘Hmmm…I wonder…Well if Lee realizes I’m not Amanda, like he did the last time, I’ll have to remember to ask him about it.’

Stepping out of the stall, Sam folded Amanda’s clothes and headed over to the lockers that lined the far wall. Choosing an unused locker, he placed Amanda’s clothes inside, closed the door and took out the key. Putting the key in one of the pockets of the jeans, he then placed the Dodger’s cap on his head. ‘If I remember Lee correctly, he’s probably chomping at the bit wondering what’s taking Amanda so long.’ He examined himself once more in the mirror before heading out of the bathroom. Sure enough, standing right outside the ladies’ room door, with his arms folded across his chest, was Lee.

“What took you so long?” Lee uncrossed his arms, and walked over to meet her. “Amanda? Since when are you a Dodger’s fan? Don’t you think that’s going to be a little conspicuous? We’re in D.C. which means that an Orioles or Red Skins cap would be more appropriate.”

Sam opened and then closed his mouth. ‘D.C. – not L.A. Damn!’ “Um…it was the first cap I found. I can run in and swap it...”

Lee shook his head. “We don’t have time. We have to meet Billy upstairs.” He reached out to grab Amanda’s hand.

At the same instant that Sam put his hand in Lee’s, the familiar holographic door opened, and Al stepped out.

Al punched his keypad. “Sorry, Sam. I would have been here sooner, but I was busy catching up with Amanda in the imaging chamber. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, she is such a lovely woman.” He looked up to see Sam’s hand linked with Lee’s. “Ah, yes, Amanda wanted me to get to you as soon as possible. She wasn’t sure if Lee would make the connection with you before he got very angry with you for not being her. Apparently things have progressed between the two, and he’s even more protective of her now than he was before.”

Lee, however, had noticed a change in Amanda’s grip on his hand the minute the fingers had linked together. It wasn’t the soft gentle hold he was used to. Punching the elevator button, he quickly turned Amanda to look at him. “Amanda?” He took the cap off her head so he could look into her eyes.

Sam tried to grab the hat back, but it was too late. He knew Lee had realized he wasn’t Amanda.

“I know you aren’t my Amanda, but I know you, don’t I? …” He gave Sam a hard, determined look, as a memory flashed in his mind. “Dr. Beckett?” His voice was cautious. He watched Amanda’s head nod up and down. Lee ignored the now opening elevator doors, and concern crossed his features. “Amanda’s not in trouble again, is she?” The minute he had realized that Amanda wasn’t really Amanda, and that it was Dr. Sam Beckett, his mind had wandered back to the last time Sam had leaped into Amanda’s body.

Sam shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I was just about to ask Al why I’m here.” He motioned his head in Al’s direction. “And, just because I leaped into Amanda doesn’t mean she’s the one in trouble.” He then turned to look at his holographic friend. “Al, do you know why I’m here?”

Al punched the keys on his handlink. “According to Ziggy, you’re here to help save a Billy Melrose. He goes on some search for something called the Kalahari list and is confronted by the men who wanted the disk originally. Amanda and Lee are following him, but something goes wrong and they don’t get to him in time. Billy gets shot and the men get away. The loss of the list destroys hundreds of people’s lives, and Billy loses his job. Ziggy says there’s an eighty percent chance you’re here to make sure Billy doesn’t lose his job.”

As the elevator doors began to close, Lee put his hand out, forcing them to open again and stepped inside. “What’s Al telling you?” Concern for Amanda’s well being still evident in his voice.

Sam followed Lee into the elevator. “He says I’m here to help save a Billy Melrose’s career.”

Lee handed the baseball cap back to Sam as the elevator doors closed and the car began its ascent. “Billy’s career?”

Sam pulled Amanda’s hair into a ponytail, and then, accepting the cap from Lee, he put the ponytail through the back of the cap, and pulled the hat down over his head. “Al says I’m here to help keep something called the Kalahari list from falling into the wrong hands. According to our computer, history shows that the list gets into the wrong hands, and as a result this Billy Melrose loses his job.”

Al punched in a few more keys, as he ‘floated’ up with the elevator. “Sam, Ziggy also says that if you aren’t successful, Mr. Personality here,” he points in Lee’s direction, “and Amanda don’t make it down the aisle. Apparently, Billy Melrose is their direct supervisor and without his support, the head honcho of the Agency, a Dr. Smyth, finds out about the true nature of their relationship and sends Lee on a permanent overseas assignment. They never get to see each other again.”

Sam’s eyes widened. “All the more reason to make sure we keep the list out of the wrong hands.” He had grown to care about Amanda, and had felt the connection between her and Lee from the first time he had leaped into her life. He also realized that he had been right earlier, the engagement ring on the chain around Amanda’s neck was from Lee. He only wanted the best for Amanda and was now more determined than ever to make sure history got back on the right path. He saw Al nodding in agreement, and then suddenly, he realized something was missing. He cocked his head and glanced at his friend curiously. “Al, where’s your cigar?”

Al laughed and shrugged slightly. “Ah, well, Amanda asked me if I would mind not smoking around her. She says she’s not a big fan of it, and besides, she keeps telling me it’s bad for my health.”

Sam chuckled. “Ask her what her secret is. I’ve been trying to get you to quit for years.”

Lee had been watching the exchange with interest. “Is Al talking to Amanda?”

Sam turned his attention back to Lee. “No, not at the moment. But apparently Amanda has managed to get Al to drop his nasty cigar smoking habit, at least in her presence. She’s one special woman.”

A silly grin appeared on Lee’s face. “She sure is.” His voice was full of pride and love as he spoke about his fiancée.

Al nodded in agreement. “I’m going to go back and talk with Amanda, maybe she can help come up with a solution. I’ll be back soon.”

“Al…” Sam growled. “Come back here, how am I supposed to…damn.”

“What? What did Al say?” Lee reached over and, grabbing him by the shoulders, turned Sam to look at him, worry and concern etched across his face. “Something happens to Amanda, too, doesn’t it?”

Sam shook his head and was about to respond when the elevator doors opened. ‘Saved by the bell.’

They stepped out of the elevator and into the hallway. He looked around at the gray-white walls. They were definitely in a government facility. Everything looked clean and institutional-like. He then turned his attention towards Lee, hoping the other man would direct him, as he had no idea where he was.

Lee looked at Amanda curiously, forgetting for a brief moment that it wasn’t Amanda, and that Sam had no idea where he was going. As realization dawned on him, he tilted his head in down the hallway. “This way.” He walked around the corner and towards another elevator. Pushing the button, he waited for the doors to open. “Sam, what happens to Amanda?” His hushed tone was urgent and demanding.

The elevator doors opened to reveal a coat closet. Sam turned questioning eyes towards Lee.

“It’s a camouflage.” Lee shrugged as he pushed the coats aside. “Just get in.” He followed Sam inside the waiting car. “Now, tell me what Al said.”

“Nothing happens to Amanda.” Sam kept Amanda’s eyes averted from Lee’s. ‘Nothing physical, anyway.’ With nothing else to occupy his line of sight, he focused on the coats hanging in the closet. “What year is this? I mean it’s sometime in the mid Eighties if I guess correctly, and these garments look like they came from the Seventies. Don’t you ever upgrade the ‘camouflage’?”

Lee shrugged. “Not my department. And nice diversionary tactic, by the way. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you really were Amanda.”

Before Sam could respond, the doors opened. He followed Lee out of the elevator and watched as Lee closed the closet door behind them. ‘No wonder they have coats hanging, anyone coming in who shouldn’t be here would think that was a coat closet.’ As he turned around, he glanced around the room, taking in the décor of the foyer they were now in. Suddenly a heavyset, dark-skinned man rose from the bottom step of a staircase to their left, causing him to jump slightly.

“It’s about time. Do you realize we have five minutes to get over to the rendezvous point?” Billy glanced at his watch, then glared at the two agents in front of him. “What took you two so long?”

Lee glanced sideways in Sam’s direction and ran a hand through his hair. “Uh, Billy…”

Sam looked at the man he had been sent here to save. “It’s my fault, really. I couldn’t decide on the best outfit for the part of the cab driver.” Having spent time with Amanda, he knew she would do anything to keep Lee from taking the blame.

Billy smiled kindly at Amanda and winked. “No problem. We do have to get a move on though. I had Leatherneck bring up two cabs from the motor pool. They should be out front by now.”

Lee looked over at Sam. “I’ll take Billy in my cab. You follow me, and then when we get to ‘D’ Street, you can find a place to park, giving you a clear view of Billy.”

Sam nodded and sighed with relief. He was glad Lee had made the realization that Amanda probably knew her way around the streets of D.C., but he surely didn’t. He followed Lee and Billy out the door and into the street. As Mr. Melrose had mentioned, two yellow cabs sat parked alongside the curb.

Lee waited for Billy to climb into the backseat of the first cab, before walking around towards the driver’s side. He glanced back and watched as Sam walked around the front of the second cab, heading towards the driver’s door. “Don’t forget to put your ‘Not in Service’ sign on. You don’t need to be picking up any customers.” He called out as he opened his door.

Sam nodded and, opening his own door, climbed into the driver seat. As he put the key in the ignition, he said a silent prayer that he could make everything turn out okay. He knew from the connection he had witnessed between Lee and Amanda that the two seemed to have fate on their side. That little bit of knowledge made him feel a little better. If fate was involved, then things definitely had to work out for the better.

Part 3

Sam sat behind the wheel of the DC cab chewing a piece of gum and watching as Lee pulled up to the curb across the way preparing to drop Mr. Melrose off at the pick up point. He glanced down at the copy of the Washington Post sitting on the passenger seat and was about to pick it up when he noticed the back door of Lee’s cab open and Mr. Melrose stepped out. He watched as Mr. Melrose approached the front of the cab and then leaned inside the passenger window, making it look like he was just paying his cab driver, when, in reality, Amanda’s boss was probably giving Lee some last minute instructions. Picking up the newspaper, he decided to do a little reading of what was going on in the world, and keep up his cover of a cab driver, just sitting around while off duty. As he opened the paper, he caught sight of one of the headlines: ‘Police officer shot trying to apprehend robber’. He shook his head, why was there so much violence in the world. Then again, if there wasn’t, people like Amanda and Lee wouldn’t have much of a job.

With thoughts of Amanda’s job, Sam glanced around the interior of the cab and wondered how he was going to be able to protect himself, well Amanda really, and Mr. Melrose too, if things got dangerous, since he didn’t appear to have a gun on him. Then again, it didn’t surprise him that Amanda didn’t have a gun on her person. He had leaped into Amanda’s life enough times to know that she wasn’t someone who liked violence any more than he did. It wasn’t like he was a stranger to how guns worked or how to use them. He had leaped into enough people that had been carrying a gun to be familiar with their use. He vaguely remembered leaping into a soldier, who had been part of his brother’s unit over in Vietnam and no matter how hard he tried to forget the memory of leaping into Lee Harvey Oswald still haunted him. For some reason, he had almost been consumed by the madman’s maniacal thoughts. The memory of almost shooting President Kennedy was something he would never forget, no matter how Swiss cheesed his brain got. Although he hadn’t been able to stop the assassination, at least he had leaped out in time and hadn’t been the one to actually pull the trigger. His dark thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Lee’s voice coming over the walkie-talkie.

“I’m coming back your way. Keep your eyes open.”

Sam watched as Lee’s cab passed by his, and turned the page on his newspaper.

“I’m going to the end of the block and then turning around.”

Sam subtly nodded in response and turned another page of the newspaper. A picture of a man being honored for some great deed caught his eye. Not because he recognized the man, but because the man had a cigar in one hand and it suddenly dawned on him that he hadn’t seen Al since right before they had met up with Mr. Melrose in the front lobby of the Agency. ‘What the devil is keeping him? Surely any information that Amanda could be giving him shouldn’t be taking this long? If I get separated from Lee, I’m really going to need Al to help me keep tabs on Mr. Melrose.’ As he turned another page, he looked over the paper and saw a white stretch limo slowly approaching the area where Lee had left Mr. Melrose. He watched as the limo stopped in front of Amanda’s boss. Reaching over he picked up the walkie-talkie, and as he observed Mr. Melrose climb into the limo, he pushed the button on the side of the device. “He’s in the limo.”

“I have him, stand-by.” Lee’s response came over the walkie-talkie.

Sam watched as the limo passed by and a feeling of anxiety washed over him. Lee had instructed him to wait, but he had this overwhelming urge to follow the cab himself. Knowing that it would probably not do any good to take matters into his own hands, he stared down at the open pages of the newspaper instead. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a figure approaching, probably looking to catch a ride. He began to put the paper down, ready to tell the potential client that he was off duty, when Lee’s voice came over the walkie-talkie again.

“Amanda…I mean Sam, that’s the shooter from the park yesterday. Get out of there…NOW!”

Sam didn’t quite understand what Lee meant by shooter, but he had heard the urgency and concern in Lee’s voice. Not needing any further prompting, he threw the walkie-talkie onto the seat and, putting his cab in drive, quickly peeled away from the curb. Glancing up into the rearview mirror, he caught sight of Lee’s cab speeding in the direction of where he had just been, and watched as Lee’s yellow vehicle started chasing the shooter down. Realizing that Lee would be otherwise occupied, he decided that it was now up to him to catch up to the limo carrying Mr. Melrose. “Come on Al, I need you now…where the heck are you?” As if reading his thoughts, the little door appeared and Al was walking through it. It always caught him off guard to see Al, just walking in, especially into a moving vehicle. “Where have you been?” he growled.

“Relax, I had Ziggy monitoring things. Amanda was telling me what her boys were up to, and about her recent engagement to Lee.” Al replied as he punched a few buttons on his hand held. “She also made me promise to tell you she that says hello, and that she’s sorry that she’s the one you leaped into, she would have liked to catch up with you in person, or as she put it, ‘well not in person, but…well he’ll know what I mean’. She’s such a charming woman.”

Sam smiled briefly at the mention of Amanda, but then quickly turned serious again. “Al, I need you to get me a location on Mr. Melrose. Lee was supposed to be following him, but something came up.” Al nodded and then disappeared. “Hurry, Al.” He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he scanned the area, trying to see which way the limo had gone and trying to get an idea of where exactly he was.

Al popped back into the cab. “The limo’s stopped at a stop light at the corner of Constitution and Seventh.”

Sam nodded and turned onto Fifth Street and headed down towards Constitution Avenue. Reaching the intersection with Constitution, he waited for the light to change and then turned right. Fortunately the streets were still quite empty and he spotted the limo two lights ahead. “There it is. Thank goodness.” He then picked up the walkie-talkie and clicked on the talk button. “Lee, I have the limo in sight.” When he didn’t get a response, a wave of nervousness washed over him. “Lee, come in.” He glanced nervously at Al through the rearview mirror. “If anything happens to Lee…I have a feeling I may be stuck in Amanda’s body forever, not to mention I’ll feel extremely guilty.”

“Why would you feel guilty, you were sent here to save Mr. Melrose?” Al began punching buttons on his hand held.

“Because I would, especially since Lee’s Amanda’s fiancé.” Sam tried to push the panic away. “Al, what are the odds that Lee doesn’t make it?”

Al punched a few more buttons on his link to their base of operations. “Ziggy says that Lee’s fine, but we need to hurry because Mr. Melrose’s chances of surviving are about fifty-fifty.”

Sam kept his distance behind the limo as he pushed the talk button on the walkie-talkie again. “Lee, come in.” He watched as the limo pulled up to the curb, and having seen the sign a block back, he realized they were taking Mr. Melrose somewhere within the Smithsonian Gardens. He parked the cab across the street, keeping his distance. He spoke into the black device again. “Come in Lee, are you all right?” He glanced at Al with a worried expression on his face. “Al, you better zero in on Lee…”

Before Al could respond, Lee’s voice came over the walkie-talkie. “Stick with the limo. Right now you’re all Billy’s got.”

“Not a problem. By the way, they’ve stopped and we seem to be at the Smithsonian Gardens.” Glancing back at the limo, Sam caught sight of Mr. Melrose stumbling out and then watched with curiosity as Amanda’s boss started running. “He’s running.”

“Stay on him. I’ll meet you there.”

Sam was just about to put his cab in drive when he saw two men and a Doberman Pincher get out of the limo. He watched as one, the taller and broader of the two, ran down the sidewalk and then the other man unleashed his dog and smiled as the Doberman took off in pursuit of Mr. Melrose, before following the path the dog was now taking. “Al, I don’t suppose Ziggy can find out the names of those two men?”

Al punched a few more buttons on his hand held and the door back to their base opened. “I’ll be back as soon as I find out that information.”

Sam nodded and then, assured that both men were out of sight, he quickly put the cab in drive and pulled up behind the limo. Putting the vehicle in park, he climbed out and took off in the direction Mr. Melrose had just gone. A slight feeling of panic came over him when he couldn’t seem to locate any sign of Amanda’s boss. Just then he heard a dog barking and took off in the direction of the sound. Reaching the end of a row of rose bushes, he caught sight of Mr. Melrose running up the steps of one of the museums on the grounds.

Sam stood back and assessed the situation. He could see the second man, who had released the dog, casually watching Mr. Melrose, while the broader man came running up a little closer to the stairs. Neither man, however, seemed very anxious to catch Mr. Melrose. It was almost as if they were watching and waiting, which made sense based on what Lee and Mr. Melrose had mentioned before they had gotten into the cabs earlier. These men were after the Kalahari list, which Amanda’s boss had hidden somewhere, but he couldn’t remember where. Chances were that these two men were waiting to see if Amanda’s boss suddenly remembered where he had secreted the list. Just then the holographic doorway appeared and Al stepped out.

“Sam, according to Ziggy, those are the two men who you were sent here to stop.” Al looked at his friend. “With Amanda’s help, we were able to pull up a picture of them. She somehow figured out that they were at the Estoccian embassy when Mr. Melrose would have originally taken possession of the list, so we pulled up the records we could find from that time. The one closest to the steps right now,” he pointed in the direction of the broader man, “his name is Kimambo. The other man, the one who is apparently the leader, is named Rashidi.”

Sam nodded and whispered, “Well, did Ziggy say whether I should try and apprehend them now, or wait?”

Al punched a few buttons. “Ziggy says that if you approach now, there’s a seventy-five percent chance that Amanda gets wounded and both men get away. However, they kidnap Mr. Melrose again, and manage to get their hands on the list and dispose of him in a very unpleasant manner. So, no, I would suggest you just watch and see how things play out.”

Sam nodded again. “It would probably make more sense if I did wait till Lee got here anyway.” He watched as Mr. Melrose tried to enter through the main doors, but then turned, with a confused expression on his face.

“I would definitely wait for Lee to arrive before approaching those two. Uh, oh, Mr. Melrose is on the move again. Guess the museum’s not open today.” Al watched as Amanda’s boss ran back down the stairs.

Sam was tempted to immediately follow, but didn’t want to take a chance of being spotted by Kimambo and Rashidi. He waited till all three men had rounded the corner, then took off in the same direction. “Al, you better zero in on Mr. Melrose, and holler if there’s trouble.”

Al nodded and then disappeared. Within seconds he reappeared right in the path of Mr. Melrose, who seemed to run right through him. He watched as Mr. Melrose headed towards what appeared to be the back entrance to the museum. “Sam! He’s this way, and you better hurry up. I don’t like the looks of Kimambo.”

Sam turned the corner and saw Al waving his arms. He watched as the two Estoccians entered the museum through the back doors.

“This way, Sam, hurry.” Al continued to wave Sam over.

As he reached Al’s position, Lee came rounding the corner of the building from the other direction and Sam pointed towards the double white doors, letting Amanda’s fiancé know which way their boss had gone. “He went through there.”

Lee nodded and began moving towards the steps leading down to the doors. “Okay, stick close to me.” He paused at the top of the stairs and handed Sam a gun. He noticed the hesitant look on Sam’s face and sighed. “You’re going to need it, but hopefully you won’t have to use it. Amanda’s not big on guns either. Look, we don’t know what’s waiting for us in there, and I’m not taking a chance of you not being armed.”

Sam reluctantly took the small weapon and then turned towards his friend. “Al, you should probably go on ahead and try and scope things out for us.” He watched as Al nodded and then disappeared, before following Lee down the steps.

Lee opened the door and ushered Sam in ahead of him. “Any sign of Al?”

Sam shook his head as he looked around. Just then Al reappeared. “Which way did they go, Al?” he whispered.

Al pointed down the hallway. “That way, Kimambo and Rashidi are keeping their distance, trying not to spook Mr. Melrose, so watch your step.”

Sam glanced over towards Lee. “Al says we want to go this way, but to take it slow, Mr. Melrose’s shadows are keeping their distance.” He began walking down the hallway that Al had indicated. Reaching the end of the corridor, he turned back towards his friend. “Which way now?”

Al shrugged. “I’ll go find out and shout when I find him.”

Sam caught Lee watching him expectantly, just then he heard Al yelling. “He says he’s over in the dinosaur exhibit.” Looking around he caught a sign pointing the way. “That way.”

Lee nodded, and stepping out into the hallway, he looked both ways. Feeling Amanda’s familiar hand on his shoulder, but knowing that it was Sam behind him, he glanced over his shoulder with a slightly annoyed expression. Fighting the urge to tell Sam he was too close, he focused his attention on the main objective instead. Moving with stealth, they reached the entrance to the exhibit and he nodded towards the other wall, hoping that Sam would take the hint. If Amanda had really been with him, she would have known instinctively that he wanted her to take up position on the other side of the entrance. He mentally sighed with relief, when Sam did just as he had wished. He watched as Sam looked into the exhibit, apparently looking and listening for Al. This whole situation was so bizarre. They were taking their cues from a man that he couldn’t see or hear.

Sam shrugged, and moved into the exhibit room, with Lee following and they quickly made their way to the other side. Once he reached the other side, he peered down the hallway and sighed with relief when he saw his holographic friend waving them on. “Al’s just on the other side of the main room,” he whispered.

Lee nodded and ran quietly out of the exhibit in the direction Sam had indicated. As they reached the main hall, he took up position behind one pillar, while Sam took up position behind another. Peering around, he saw the coast was clear and nodded towards Sam to continue forward.

Al waved them closer and pointed down the hallway he was standing in front of. “He’s in the wild animal exhibit, which is in the first opening on your right. There are two entrances to the room by the way, so be careful.” He pointed down the hallway behind them.

Sam nodded and then, leaning closer to Lee, spoke in a very quiet voice. “Al says he’s in the wild animal exhibit, first entrance on the right. He says that there are two entrances. If I move quietly enough, I can go around and come in from the other side.”

Lee hesitated slightly. If it really had been Amanda staring back at him, he would, without hesitation, tell her to stay close so he wouldn’t have to worry about her no matter how well she could take care of herself, however, knowing that Sam wouldn’t let anything happen to Amanda any more than he would, Lee nodded and whispered, “Okay, but be careful.” He watched as Sam headed down the hallway towards the second entrance. ‘If he lets anything happen to Amanda, I’ll kill him.’ He then turned and walked down the hallway. Stopping to the right of the entrance, he took a quick peak inside to assess the situation. At the end of the entrance stood the two Estoccians, waiting to make their move.

Billy sat at the edge of the bear display and, reaching behind the railing, he put his hand into the stuffed bear’s mouth. His fingers instantly found the disk and he pulled it out. He brushed lightly over the coveted item and then stood up. He began heading back towards the entrance and stopped when the two Estoccians entered the room.

Rashidi saw the disk in Melrose’s hand and smiled ever so slightly. “It’s a shame we didn’t catch you last Friday. It would have made our customers a lot less anxious.”

Billy stared at Rashidi and suddenly everything became so much clearer. “You caught me after I hid the disk.”

Rashidi subtly nodded. “Of course. And then we spent the weekend trying to pump the information out of you. Now, may we have the disk?”

Billy reluctantly handed the disk over to Kimambo and a barely noticeable smile crossed his lips when he noticed Lee entering the room.

Lee trained his gun at Rashidi’s back. “Now, may we have it back?” He caught sight of Rashidi pulling his gun and turning quickly. Shaking his head at the Estoccian, he steadily waved his own gun at the man. “Uh, uh, uh. Both of you…drop your weapons.” Both Estoccians complied and he nodded towards Rashidi. “Now you, kick them over here.” The Estoccian complied and Lee tilted his head in the other man’s direction. “Move it over.” Kicking both guns further away from the Estoccians, he glanced over nodded at his boss to get the disk back. “Billy.”

Billy nodded in understanding. “Got it.” He reached out to grab the disk back from Kimambo but stopped suddenly when the Estoccian let the item fall to the floor. He bent down to retrieve it just as the other man did the same. He noticed instantly, that instead of going for the disk, Kimambo was reaching around his ankle. Catching sight of the gun strapped to the other man’s leg, he launched himself at his former captor. Kimambo proved to be faster on the draw and a shot rang out. Billy stumbled backward, clutching his arm where the bullet had entered.

Lee quickly jumped at Kimambo and, with the butt of his gun, knocked the Estoccian out.

Rashidi took advantage of the distracted men and quickly picked up the disk and began running towards the other side of the exhibit.

Sam saw his opening and, with his gun trained on Rashidi, stepped right into the Estoccian’s path. “It’s over. If you don’t mind, I’ll take the disk.” The Estoccian reluctantly reached out and passed the disk to him. Sam accepted the disk and then nodded his head in Mr. Melrose’s direction. “Go ahead.” As soon as the Estoccian turned and started walking, he followed close behind, with his gun still trained on Rashidi.

Lee finished handcuffing Kimambo to one of the display railings and then quickly walked over and, grabbing Rashidi by the arm, led him over to the same spot. As he pulled out another pair of cuffs, he turned to congratulate Sam on a job well done, but paused. Sam was standing somewhat frozen in place, and there was an almost distant expression on Amanda’s face. Then, suddenly, he saw Amanda’s head start looking around as if just awakening from a strange dream. He smiled as he realized that his Amanda was back and Sam was gone.

Amanda took in her surroundings and then quickly noticed the feeling of cold steel in her hand. Bouncing the gun in her hand, she glanced at the disk in her other hand and then looked up towards Mr. Melrose. Her expression grew concerned when she realized that her boss had been shot, and immediately moved towards him. For a brief second she wondered if she was responsible for Mr. Melrose’s wound, but then she realized that the gun was still cold, so, thankfully, no shots had been fired from her weapon. She’d just have to wait until she was typing up Lee’s report to find out what exactly had transpired while she had been in the imaging chamber.

Billy smiled at Amanda as she approached. “Did you get it?”

Unsure of what her boss was asking about, Amanda decided to play it safe and nodded. “Here you are, sir.” She passed both the disk and gun to her boss, hoping that one of the two items was what he had been asking about. She then glanced down at his wounded arm. “I’m going to call an Ambulance.” Before her boss could say anything else, she turned and ran out of the room in search of a phone.

Lee finished securing Rashidi to the railing and then, with his gun still aimed at both men, he backed up and sat down next to his friend and boss.

Billy smiled as he kept his gaze trained in the direction Amanda had just gone. “She’s going to be just fine, Lee.” Turning back towards Lee, he repeated, “Just fine.”

Lee smiled knowingly. “I know.” He then sighed with relief. ‘We all are. Thank you Sam.’ He then turned and looked at Billy. “How do you feel?”

Billy turned and looked at his agent. “I feel like beer and steaks at Randy’s”.

Lee chuckled. “That sounds good.” Glancing briefly in the direction Amanda had gone, he smiled. ‘I sure have a lot to celebrate.’


Amanda moved closer to her fiancé, taking comfort from his arm around her, and stared at the blazing fire in the fireplace. Leaning her head on Lee’s shoulder she sighed contentedly. “I’m so glad you were able to fill in some of the holes with this case. It was so weird. One minute I was reaching for a pair of jeans, the next I’m in the imaging chamber talking to Al and then what was really a few hours later, I was in the middle of my conversation with Al, and suddenly found myself standing in the middle of the wild animal exhibit at the museum.”

“I’m glad you have such a quick mind and were able to at least pretend you knew what was going on.” Lee smiled knowingly. “I don’t know what we would have told Billy if you hadn’t and started bumbling about.”

“Me too.” Amanda nodded. “I’m just glad that my brain didn’t totally go all Swiss cheese, as Sam calls it, and that I vaguely remembered talking to Al.”

Lee removed his arm from around her shoulders and inching sideways slightly, turned so that he was now facing his fiancée. “I have to say, it was really weird looking at you and hearing your voice and knowing that you…well I guess your essence wasn’t there, but that it was really Sam. The last time I was too distracted dealing with Chang, Petrovich, worrying about you and trying to stop World War Three to really think about it. ” He leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips. “You have no idea how glad I am to have you back, and I truly hope we never ‘see’ Dr. Sam Beckett again, at least not until we reach that point in the future when he actually exists. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that he was sent here to make sure our future proceeds as it should…”

Amanda giggled. “You’re cute when you ramble.” She placed a quick kiss on his lips. “But I know what you mean. Although, you have to admit it is kind of nice to know that we have our own personal guardian angel looking out for us.

Lee grinned devilishly. “Someone must really like me, because he sent me two angels.”

“Two?” Amanda looked at him quizzically.

Lee leaned closer to her. “Yes, Sam…” he placed a kiss on her nose, “and you.” He then placed a tender kiss on her lips.

Amanda gave him a small, loving smile. “Oh, Lee, I love you.”

“And I love you.” Lee grinned. “I can’t wait to get you away from here and away from all the annoying interruptions. I’m looking forward to having you all to myself for an entire weekend.”

Amanda inched closer to him. “It is going to be wonderful…just the two of us, away from everyone.”

Lee nodded. “You know what?”

Amanda eyed him curiously. “What?”

“Pine Top just received eighteen inches of new, fresh powder.” Lee leaned his arm on the top of the couch and began caressing Amanda’s shoulder.

Amanda’s eyes widened slightly in anticipation. “Really?”

Lee grinned. “Yep.” He leaned closer to her. “And I’ve got the skis.” He placed a kiss on her lips. “And I’ve got you.” He kissed her lips again. ‘And I’m never letting you go.’

The End

(of course Billy enters and interrupts, but all ends well.)
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