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Story Notes:
So I'm not sure how I went this long without sharing this one... I wrote it for the Veterans Day compilation we did for redwolffclaw, and then I just apparently forgot to repost it myself. *shrug* So you get it now. :D (And if you want more to read, go look at the other stories posted by penname The Veterans Day Committee!)

Standard disclaimers apply. I've also never lived through an earthquake, so the descriptions within are all second-hand (as well as my research about the actual 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake). Hopefully it holds up, but if not… well, you'll see why I think I can maybe get away with a few discrepancies. Just read on to find out… and maybe don't judge me too harshly? O:)


"I don't see why we have to write a report about some old earthquake anyway," Shawn frowned.

Gus gave him a look across the table. "It's Santa Barbara history."

Sighing, Shawn leaned forward so he was practically draped across the Spencers' kitchen table. "But it's so boring! Why can't we write about something exciting, like time travel?"

There was a pause as Gus flipped a page in his notebook. "Because we're studying the 1925 earthquake in history class. Come on; let's get to work. Our assignment is due Monday. Did you at least do that research you said you'd do? I did mine: fourteen deaths due to causes like walls falling on cars." He made a face. "Thirteen's an unlucky number; kind of weird that the death toll of such a deadly natural disaster was only one away from it."

"Yep," Shawn sounded less like he was agreeing and more like he was inattentively nodding along as he handed over three wrinkled pieces of notebook paper. "Here. The, uh, mainshock happened at 6:44 AM on June 29. The magnitude was 6.8, and there were three strong aftershocks that morning." He grinned proudly at his knowledge.

Meanwhile, Gus was studying the scrawled notes on Shawn's paper. "I can barely read this," he complained, wrinkling his nose. "It's an important piece of our heritage, Shawn. Who knows how our lives might be different if it hadn't happened?"

Looking less impressed at the question than Gus had thought he might, Shawn just reached for a pencil. "Come on; let's do this. The sooner we finish our report, the sooner we can get to the arcade!"


No one, least of all Shawn, expected the day to take the turn it did. Granted, as detectives, anything could happen at any time, but their days had been quiet recently. Looking back, Shawn would wonder why he let himself become so complacent with all of the experiences he had under his belt.

But regardless of why he did, he did, and it all culminated in where he was at the current moment in time, racing down an alley somewhere along State Street and wondering how far behind him the others were. When Gus had suggested - strongly - they wait for backup before going in the warehouse where they suspected the robbers were hiding out, Shawn had laughed it off and gone in anyway. To Gus's credit, he had followed. Apparently, he hadn't wanted to leave Shawn alone without at least some help. Or maybe he hadn't wanted to be alone without at least some help.

Then there had been a flurry of movement and a figure darting for the far exit. Shawn had immediately recognized one of their suspected bad guys and yelled for Gus to call Lassie and Jules before giving chase.

And that was how, five minutes later, Shawn found himself in pursuit of a fleeing robber and really wishing he'd spend more time working out every day.

Between his nearly breathless state of being and his focus on the ground he still needed to cover to catch up, he was not prepared for when he rounded the corner just ahead and became quickly - and much-too-intimately - acquainted with the broad side of a 2x4.

He barely had time to wonder who left those just lying around before everything went black.

"Mister? Mister!" The sound of a kid's voice drifted through the haze around him. "Hey, Mister, you okay?"

With a groan, Shawn slowly pried his eyes open. It was the last thing he wanted to do, and the pounding in his head only increased with the effort and the sudden brightness. There was a small figure bending over him, thankfully blocking some of the light from his vision.

"You okay?" the boy asked yet again, although he sounded much more relieved than he had a moment before.

As Shawn started to reply, he suddenly paused. Under any other circumstances, he'd have already taken the time to study the kid in front of him. However, thanks to the haze in his head, he'd been a little slow to really look around. Now, he found himself very confused. "Wait, where am I?" he asked slowly. There was an increasingly strange feeling in the pit of his stomach that he couldn't quite explain, but something was definitely - off.

The boy's frown deepened. "An alley off State Street," he offered. "Behind the bakery."

"Wait - State Street?" Shawn knew his confusion was evident in his expression. He knew he'd been running down an alley along that particular road, but he really didn't remember any of his current surroundings. And why were there no AC units in sight? And - why did this kid look like he'd stepped out of that acrobatic musical that Gus had watched on Netflix five times in the past week?

And why couldn't he remember how he'd gotten here?

"Yeah - in Santa Barbara," the boy replied slowly. He was looking increasingly unsure about talking to the man in front of him. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Swallowing against the dryness in the back of his mouth, Shawn nodded quickly. "Right. Santa Barbara. Um - thanks."

Giving him one last look, the boy nodded once. "Sure, mister. See ya." Then he turned away and hurried out of the alley.

Shawn took a deep breath to steady himself. The good news was he didn't feel as woozy has he had a few moments before. That was a start at least. Now to find out what was going on. He was a detective; he could figure this out. He reached for his phone to call Gus to come to pick him up, then paused and frowned as he felt his empty pocket. He was sure he'd put it in there -

Trying not to panic, he patted all of his pockets now, but the device was nowhere to be found. A quick glance around him turned up nothing, and Shawn sighed heavily. He must have dropped it somewhere along the way, although he couldn't remember having lost it. But he had been moving quickly and trying to catch a fleeing felon. If it had fallen out of his pocket somehow, he might not have stopped to notice. He'd just have to find a phone to call Gus, then he could retrace his steps and find his device.

As if nothing else that had happened so far was weird enough, the even weirder part came when Shawn stepped out of the alley onto the main street. He blinked as he took in the sight in front of him. State Street stretched out ahead of him, but it wasn't exactly as he remembered it. Or rather, it was, but that was the problem. It was what he remembered from twenty-three years ago - when he was doing research for a school assignment. The scene that stretched before him was almost exactly identical to the photos in the History of Santa Barbara library book. Of 1925 Santa Barbara.

What was happening?

There had to be an explanation for this, he decided. Maybe he'd somehow forgotten half of his day and accidentally stumbled into a tourist town like Old Sonora. They had old-looking buildings and streets and paid actors dressed up in historic costumes. Maybe there was another town like that one that Shawn had just never heard of before. After all, he hadn't heard of Old Sonora before Lassie had dragged him there. This was - probably just like that.

Only a few people were strolling by on the street; it must still be too early for most folks, Shawn decided. The people he did see, though, made him tilt his head in confusion as he glanced around. He didn't even stick out very much, other than for his Chucks; he'd opted for a plaid shirt with his blue jeans that morning, and a number of the men walking past had similar outfits. However, some were more decked out in fancy 20s-style clothing, and the women all were definitely wearing different attire than what Jules wore.

Shawn started down the street, moving slowly as he studied his surroundings. The sun was just rising behind the buildings on one side of the street, bathing everything in an orange light. That confused him, too. He really could not remember what he'd done the whole afternoon and evening before, and he definitely didn't remember going home for the night. Had he and Gus stayed out on a case? And if so, where was Gus? Had Shawn been on a stakeout of some kind by himself? And that was why he was sleeping in the alley? Maybe he'd just been up so late the night before that he was just waking up super groggy. It felt kind of like a hangover - maybe he'd been out drinking? But that wasn't something he usually did -

Shawn was just at a loss for how else to explain things.

As he looked around, Shawn couldn't get over the incredible detail to everything. Whoever was in charge here was doing a great job. Speaking of that, Shawn needed to find the office so he could call someone to come and pick him up. Hopefully, Gus would be able to fill in some of the blanks in Shawn's mental timeline. It was more than a little disconcerting because Shawn normally remembered everything. So exactly how he'd ended up in a reenactment of ye olde Santa Barbara was more than a little confusing.

Then, a discarded newspaper on the street caught his eye as he went past. If he hadn't caught a good glimpse of it, he might've just walked on past. However, he'd happened to see the day's paper that morning, when Gus had brought one into the office, and it had looked quite different than the one now at his feet. Leaning over, Shawn picked up the crinkled wad of folded news sheets, flipping them over so he could read the upper half. His eyes widened slightly as he took in the headlines of the copy of The Santa Barbara Daily News he was holding. What really caught his attention wasn't the headline, though. It was the date.

June 29, 1925


Either this town was going to the extreme in their commitment to detail or - Shawn didn't even know what. What other explanation could there be? Unless -

"Dude," he said aloud to no one in particular, glancing around again. "This is just like that old show - well, more than one," he corrected himself. He tilted his head then; if Gus were there alongside him, his friend would be arguing that this was not a show. But then, at least, Shawn could argue with his friend and poke at Gus's logical side. Maybe then they would find a way to explain all of this. Or if nothing else, debate which show this was most likely to be.

Shawn straightened his shoulders and started across the street, eyes peeled for a sign that would indicate where an office was located.

Deep in thought, he allowed his surroundings to fade out, but suddenly, the sound of a blaring car horn hit his ears. He had a split second to notice that it didn't sound like a normal car horn before something plowed into him from the left and threw him to the ground.

For a moment, Shawn thought he'd been hit and wondered why nothing hurt like he imagined it should if he'd been slammed into by a speeding vehicle. Then he realized the blaring horn was still going. He opened his eyes as a blast of air blew against his face just in time to see the black car whiz past him.

"Are you okay, sir?" a man's concerned voice came from just off to his left.

Shawn looked over to see a young man around his age with his hand extended. "Yeah, thanks," he replied with a nod. He accepted the offered assistance and let the stranger pull him to his feet. "I think I just bruised my elbow is all."

"Good to hear," the man said with a nod, shaking hands once Shawn was firmly on his feet. "Carlos Murphy, at your service."

"Shawn Spencer," Shawn returned distractedly. He shifted to watch the car continue down the street on its way; the driver hadn't even stopped after the two pedestrians had gone tumbling along the street. "Dude, who drives those kinds of cars anymore?"

Carlos raised an eyebrow. "'Dude'?" he asked. Then he frowned further. "And that, my friend, is one of the newest Model T vehicles available. I'd more ask who drives those here than 'anymore.' I haven't seen one on the streets before. Probably some rich guy trying to get to work on time."

"Oh -" Shawn shook his head in an attempt to clear it. The headache was still pounding away, and all of this confusion did nothing to make it go away.

Catching onto the confusion on the other man's face, Carlos studied him up and down. "You're - not from around here, are you?"

Shawn smirked at that. "Uh, you could say that." The pieces all seemed to be pointing to one answer to his predicament, although he had no idea how it could be the answer. That was a question he wasn't sure he could answer - or how anyone could.

The only other question was if this was a Quantum Leap type of situation or something more like Back to the Future. And, either way, how was he supposed to get home?

"So what brings you to Santa Barbara?" Carlos asked.

"Hm?" Shawn turned his attention back to the conversation. "Oh, just, uh, passing through."

"You're out awfully early to just be traveling," Carlos observed. "Most folks are still at home in bed at quarter to seven."

The man's last words froze Shawn in his tracks. He slowly looked back over at Carlos as the wheels turned in his head. "Wait, what time is it?"

"Um, if you want to get exact -" Carlos pulled a pocket watch from his suit jacket, "then it is precisely - 6:42 in the morning."

Shawn swallowed. "And it's what day?" Quantum Leap was looking more and more like the answer to his second question right about then.

"June 29 -" The furrow on Carlos's brow grew even deeper. "Mr. Spencer, should I help you to the doctor? You may have bumped your head just now, you know -"

"June 29, 1925?" Shawn interrupted.

Now the other man was really looking at him strangely, and he even backed up a step involuntarily. "Sir - I have to insist you go see the doctor," he said, recovering his composure. He put a hand on Shawn's shoulder and started to guide him to the boardwalk. "Please. It's the least I can do."

Shawn shook his head as they stepped up off the street. "No, it's fine. I'm fine." He looked around quickly, taking in the few pedestrians heading up and down the sidewalks and the cars driving along the street. The tight feeling in the pit of his stomach was growing exponentially more sickening as the seconds passed. He knew this date, this time. It was -

The earthquake.

No sooner had the thought popped into his mind when the ground shook violently. Shawn barely caught himself as his balance was suddenly upset.

Carlos hadn't had the benefit of realizing this was coming, even a split second early like his companion, and he fell to the ground with the rolling motion of the street under his feet.

Recovering his footing was a tricky balancing act, but Shawn spaced his feet apart and then leaned toward Carlos. Now he was the one extending his hand to the other man to help him up from the ground. "Here, grab my hand!" he called.

Around them, Shawn could hear the rattling of window panes in the nearby storefronts and the loud creaking of the buildings and paving as they strained and groaned.

Carlos reached up and took Shawn's hand, and Shawn grunted as he hauled the other man to his feet. It wasn't an easy task, as they both had to fight to keep their footing. The street underneath them kept pitching and rolling, and there was an increasing cacophony as the structures started to give way.

Shawn glanced up and paused for a split second in awe as he observed the tall exterior of the store as it vibrated intensely. In the blink of an eye, it was as if the structure began to disintegrate right in front of him, and a large chunk of stone crashed to the ground right beside where the two men were standing. "We have to get away from these buildings!" he yelled, pulling Carlos with him.

The other man seemed to be in a daze as he stumbled unprotestingly behind Shawn. It felt like an eternity to take even one step, but Shawn knew that was just the shock playing tricks on his mind. It had happened before in life-or-death scenarios, where his entire world seemed to slow down to the microsecond. Eventually, it would speed back up to a "normal" setting.

A particularly loud growl of brick grinding on brick caught his attention, and Shawn glanced up to see a large section of the building coming down toward them. He yanked on Carlos's arm and threw them both out of the way. The segment of the building's wall hit the sidewalk right where they had just been standing.

It was a miracle they kept their footing as the ground continued to roll, but they did, although they narrowly missed getting hit by several more pieces of falling rubble before they got to the center of the road and clear of what was now every single building around them crumbling to pieces. Wood, stone, and bricks crashed into the ground, leaving craters as they pounded down like a deadly rain. The sounds of glass crashing and breaking accompanied the rest of the chorus of destruction.

Carlos blinked in confusion, glancing around as his faraway look began to clear away. "What's happening?" he asked Shawn, his eyes widening. "This is an earthquake, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Shawn replied with a nod. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is, dude."

The ground seemed to be finally slowing from its roiling, and Shawn released the breath he had been holding. It was hard to tell just how much time had passed, but, by now, the structures that had just lined the streets were reduced to piles of rubble, and Shawn could now hear a chorus of chaotic and panicked voices rising as the rumbling of straining construction began to fade.

Taking a deep breath, Carlos swallowed hard. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been here!"

Shawn clapped him on the shoulder, not quite sure what to say to that. "Well - at least I was."

"Come on; we have to help!" Carlos's attention was now focused on the rubble around them. "There were people in those buildings!" He started for the sidewalk, now fully in control of his legs again.

Squaring his shoulders, Shawn followed. He might not know why he was here, but Carlos was right. People needed help, and Shawn could at least lend a hand. Maybe he'd figure out why he was there along the way or maybe he'd have to still work at figuring that out, but he wasn't going to just stand around when there were people trapped and probably dying. Taking a deep breath, he hurried to follow behind Carlos as they ran for the closest building.

Shawn glanced down the street, noting with absent fascination that there were several cars crushed underneath fallen buildings. Distracted as he was, he didn't notice the shadow above his head until he heard Carlos yell his name. He glanced up just in time to see a portion of a wall that was still standing coming right at him, then the world exploded in a flash of light and then went dark.

Shawn groaned and shifted as sounds slowly started to filter through his unconsciousness. He swallowed, feeling his throat sticking and his head pounding. It felt like there was a whole band section of tiny drummers in his skull, and he really didn't want to deal with any of that right then.

"Hey, man, you okay?"

The question interrupted any thoughts he had of just keeping his eyes shut and lying - where was he? The street? It certainly felt like asphalt under his back.

"Can you hear me?"

There it came again. Shawn grunted and squinted one eye open. Who was bugging him anyway? Couldn't the guy see he just wanted to sleep?

"That's it! Come on; open your eyes." The figure leaning over him came into focus slowly. Still with only one eye, keeping the other closed against the intrusive sunlight, Shawn looked the man up and down. He was wearing an EMT uniform and a worried expression, which slowly resolved itself as he watched Shawn taking him in. There was something oddly familiar about him though -

"There we are," he smiled. "Can you tell me your name?"

"...Shawn," Shawn mumbled.

"Good. And what day is it, Shawn?"


The EMT nodded in approval and then turned to reach for something. Just then, Shawn's gaze landed on the man's name tag. Murphy.

"How's it looking, Carlos?" a voice called from behind the EMT.

Shawn blinked as a tall woman also dressed as a paramedic crossed his line of sight. "Wait - Carlos?"

The man nodded at Shawn's question. "That's my name. Here, let's check your reflexes."

A flashlight beam hit Shawn's eyes then, causing him to jerk back involuntarily, but Carlos kept a firm hand on Shawn's forehead and shone the light in his left eye.

"I was named after my great-grandfather, actually," the man said conversationally as he moved to check the right eye. "He moved to Santa Barbara back in the early 1900s. Lived through the earthquake and everything."

"Huh," Shawn grunted.

"Yep. He actually was right near here when it happened. Said he almost died in it, too." Carlos's tone was one of friendly rambling without expecting any actual replies as he continued his check, then he sat back on his heels. "Well, you seem to be okay!" the man chirped cheerfully. "But we're going to take you to the hospital just to be sure, all right?"

Shawn just nodded and sank back to the ground. His head hurt too much to concentrate, but he couldn't shake the feeling tumbling around in his stomach. Had what he thought happened just happened?

"Shawn, you're lucky it wasn't worse," Gus scolded, shifting in his seat in the hard hospital chair. "You really could be looking at more than twenty-four hours for observation, you know."

Shawn just nodded distractedly. His thoughts were still on his dream - if that's what it had been. "Hey, Gus, remember the Santa Barbara earthquake? The one we did our report on in Mrs. Chadwick's class?"

"What?" Gus frowned. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Ah, nothing - I was just thinking -" Shawn tried to formulate a coherent thought amidst all the unbelievable details still swirling around in his brain. "You know how all those people died? What was it - fourteen?"

"Thirteen," Gus corrected quickly.

"No," Shawn frowned, distracted from what he'd been about to say, "pretty sure it was fourteen."

Gus raised an eyebrow. "No, pretty sure it's always been thirteen."

"No, but it's fourteen," Shawn insisted. "Remember, when we were researching stuff for our report? You specifically said," and here he heightened the pitch of his voice, "'Thirteen's an unlucky number; kind of weird that the death toll of such a deadly natural disaster was only one away from it.'"

His friend still didn't look convinced. "I know your memory is usually better than mine, but I am pretty good at historical facts," Gus returned. "And it's thirteen, I'm sure of it. Look," he said, tapping at the keyboard on his phone. He tilted the device toward Shawn. "Wikipedia says so."

Glancing at Gus's phone, Shawn squinted at the bright light of the screen. "But - huh," he trailed off. Then his eyes widened, and he looked back up at Gus. "Dude -"


"Nah, never mind," Shawn shook his head, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. "I'm sure it's nothing. Guess I just remembered it wrong." He ignored the funny look on his friend's face and settled back into the pillows.

Once he got past this headache and could put together his thoughts - Gus was never going to believe him.

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