The Stuff of Legends
By Eilidh17

 

Doctor Jackson never left Cheyenne Mountain.  It’s not quite as simple as that, but I can’t deny feeling the echo of his presence all around the SGC for over a year now.  In the shadows of the doorway, I look at the man we brought back from Vis Uban and wonder….  I wonder if this is the man I’ve heard so much about, the legend I was expected to replace on SG-1.  It was always going to be a tough call, but I tried.  In the aftermath of his death, and the year that followed, my real introduction to the ‘legend’ of the SGC was more akin to the Earth metaphor, ‘a baptism by fire’, rather than an insight into a man respected by those who knew him.  In the quiet of this lab, I can’t help thinking he looks so lost.  I want to feel smug but I can’t.  Daniel has suffered so much and I’ve always felt I was to blame. 

His has his back to me at the moment, one hand resting on his hip while the other is in constant motion, dancing over the spines of the books lining my office bookshelf.  Occasionally he stops to pull one out, flipping it open and absently turning the pages before putting it back and moving on to the next.  Checking the time on my watch, I cringe knowing I’ll have to break into his solitude to gather my briefing notes. 

Lingering for as long as I can, I sigh quietly, push off the door jamb, and step into the room. “Doctor Jackson?”

Jumping slightly at my intrusion, Daniel drops his hand down from the shelf and turns towards me, a frown creasing his face briefly before relaxing into an expression I’ve taken to recognizing as familiarity. 

“Oh, uh, sorry, Jonas, I was just…” he trails off, waving one hand towards the bookshelf while pushing his glasses up higher on his nose.  “I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, not at all,” I offer in quick return as I toss my armload of research files onto the bench top.  “Ah, anything familiar to you?”

“W-What?” Daniel glances sideways at the bookshelf and shrugs, the depth of his frustration playing out in the wry smile he offers. “I… no. Not really.  I get flashes, but…” 

“But?”

“But?” He pinches the bridge of his nose and mumbles, “I don’t know.  They don’t make sense.”  His frown deepens as he turns away from me, and dragging out another book, he stares at me questioningly, “Do you know what deja vu is?”

“The feeling of having done something before but knowing you haven’t?”

“Yes,” his hoarse whisper gives away his internal struggle and I wince in sympathy.

“And these flashes are like deja vu to you?  You recognize the feeling but the images don’t match what you brain is telling you?”  I deliberately turn my attention towards the files littering the bench top and busy myself sorting through their contents. 

“No, well, yes.  It’s more than that though.  It’s like seeing events through someone else’s eyes and not quite understanding what’s happening.  I can see myself doing things, saying things, reacting to what is around me… what’s happening, but it’s like… I don’t know.”

Daniel turns away again and faces the bookshelf, replacing the book he had and choosing another.  “I look at this book,” he says presenting it to me, “and the language is familiar, the words make sense, but I have no idea what it is I’m reading.”

I can feel his frustration building as he speaks faster and faster, flicking rapidly through the book, and never spending more than a few seconds on any page.

“How can I know a language just by looking at it when in my mind I’ve got no recollection of even learning it?  Why is it I can remember a language, but struggle to recall the names of people I’ve apparently known for years?”

I hold up a hand, waving it slowly up and down, to force him to calm, and as he catches my movement I can see him visibly relax.  Closing his eyes briefly, he appears to center himself, and putting the book back on the shelf, slumps down into the nearest chair.

“You okay?” 

“I guess.  It’s all just a bit-”

“Confusing?”

“I was going for frustrating, but that’ll work just as well.” Peering over the top of his glasses, Daniel reaches out towards the top file, tapping it lightly before pulling back.  “What are these for?”

“We’ve got a briefing scheduled with the General this morning to go over the survey results from Vis Uban.”

“We?”

“As in, SG-1.”

“Oh.”

“It’s… classified.”

“Right, meaning?”

“Meaning, you have to have the right level of security clearance to attend.”

“I don’t? No… I don’t, but I did once… right?” 

“Uh, huh.”

Legends are a tricky thing. They can become more than what they have a right to be, or less than is fair. Doctor Jackson never left this rock because he was never allowed too.  Daniel will always be the presence here and I was naive to think otherwise, but I get it now, I learned. His memories make him seem small, vulnerable, but with each recollection comes growth, and while I ponder over what will become of me, he is slowly growing back into the man he was before. 

Gathering up my briefing folders and sneaking a quick look at my watch, I point to the door to let him know I’m leaving.  “Briefing starts at oh-eight-hundred hours if you’re interested.”

Lip twitching with the barest of smiles, he slides his gaze between the bookshelf and the clock on the wall. “Thought I wasn’t cleared to attend?”

You aren’t, Doctor Jackson, but according to the legend, you were never that good at following orders.   Here’s hoping that’s one thing you remember.

 

The End

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