beatrice_otter: All true wealth is biological (Wealth)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Title: Unreal Things
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter 
Fandoms: Battlestar Galactica/Stargate: SG-1
Spoiler Warning: BSG in its entirety
Characters: Daniel Jackson, Ellen Tigh
Written for: multiverse 2009, June 17
Original Prompt: Battlestar Galactica/Stargate Universe: BSG's Daniel turns out to be Daniel Jackson.
Word Count: 2312
Summary: Daniel knew what his mother looked like. He’d seen her in pictures. He saw her die. But he didn’t see her in his dreams.
Rating: PG

When Daniel was young, when he first went into foster care, he had nightmares. And he didn’t remember much about his life before his parents died. Facts and dates, but not real things like how his mother smelled or what stories his father told him. Not what the Egyptian sun felt like beating down on his head, nor the feel of dirt and sand ground into his skin. Shock, said the social workers and child psychologists. Quite understandable. Poor thing, he watched his parents die right in front of him.

Except the woman in his nightmares had blonde hair, not brown, and she was slender instead of stocky. She wasn’t his mother. Daniel knew what his mother looked like. He’d seen her in pictures. He saw her die. But he didn’t see her in his dreams.

In the nightmares, he’s big. Grown-up. And there’s a man, but he’s not Daniel’s father. He’s older, and Daniel doesn’t know his name but he knows he’s afraid. The woman, the one with blonde, curly hair, is afraid too, though she’s trying to hide it. Daniel is sick, and there are a lot of men there, and they’re all sick too, and Daniel knows that they are all him. It doesn’t make sense, but dreams never do.

“Are you getting enough sleep?” his foster-mother asked one morning, not long after he was delivered to her house.

“Hm?” he said, looking up from his Wheaties. He took a bite, absently. He wondered how she’d known he wasn’t sleeping—he didn’t wake up screaming like Nancy did in the girls’ room. “I have weird dreams.”

His foster-mother sat down next to him, cheerful bright dress clashing with the worn and dingy kitchen table. “Oh, Danny, of course you are. If you get scared, you know Billy and Wally are in the same room, and I’m right across the hall—you can come get me if you really need me, and are careful not to wake up—”

“Not nightmares,” Daniel said, trying not to get irritated that she couldn’t remember he didn’t like to be called Danny. “Just … weird.”

“Oh,” she said, frowning. She brightened. “I have a book on dream interpretation, I could help you look it up if you want.”

“Thank you,” Daniel said politely, “but I can read.” Better than most kids his age, they said at the school when he was tested to see what grade level he should go in. In math and science, he already knew everything they teach at the elementary school, and he read at a high school level. But things like history and social studies he knew practically nothing about—apparently his parents didn’t think that geography and the Revolutionary War and American government were important things to teach him about while on digs in Egypt.

“Oh,” she said. “Well, I’ll get it out, and when you’re finished with your breakfast you can read it, okay?” She ruffled his hair—he didn’t mind at all—and went off to break up Wally and Billy before they got into a fight. Again.

She found him later in the day. He was alone in the living room with the book on dreams spread out on his lap. August sun streamed in through the open window.

“Is the book helping?”

“No,” he said without looking up.

“I’m sorry to hear that. You don’t have to read it, if you don’t want to. It’s such a nice day, you should go out and play with the other children.”

He finally looked up, and caught his breath. Her hair was just the right shade of yellow, in the sun, though it should have been curlier. Then she would have looked just like … just like … he didn’t know any blonde adult women. His mother had straight brown hair. He shook his head to clear it. “I like reading,” he said. It was the truth, though he hadn’t known it until he sat down to read after breakfast.

“I can see that,” she said with a smile, “but the sun’s out and before too long you’ll be stuck in school all day. If you’re worried about being bullied, I’ll be out there and will make sure …”

“No,” Daniel said, “I’m not worried.” For all the other boys tried to intimidate him when he first arrived, it didn’t take long for him to convince them to stop. He listened to the sound of the other children playing. It sounded very … childish to him. But he couldn’t think of a way to explain that—after all, he was the youngest. They were supposed to find him childish, not the other way around. “I’d just rather read,” he said at last.

“I’m sorry we don’t have many books in the house,” she said. “I bet your parents had a lot of books.” She didn’t wait for an answer, which was good because Daniel wouldn’t have known what to say. “How about we go to the library tomorrow?”

“Okay,” Daniel said. He’d learned early on not to say when he didn’t understand something. Usually it was things he was supposed to know already. Like what a library was.

So, the next day the whole group went on a trip to the library. It was eight blocks away from there house, right next to the park. Once there, Daniel’s foster-mother turned him over to the librarian while she went to the park with everyone else. The librarian explained everything, got him a card with his own name on it, and asked him what he’d like to look up, if he wanted a story or a book of non-fiction.

Daniel blinked. He had no idea what to ask for, what was even possible. What did he want to know? The book of dreams hadn’t helped, so there probably wasn’t anything in the library about the blonde woman he kept seeing. If he couldn’t figure that out, he wanted to know why he couldn’t remember much. He wanted to know what he should know. He wanted to know why all the chairs felt too big—had his parents had a small chair just his size? Was that why the adult-sized chairs felt strange? He kicked his heels and stared past the librarian’s desk to the rows and rows of bookshelves. “I’d like to read anything you have about my parents,” he said. “They were killed in an accident at the museum, a few weeks ago. Doctors Melburn and Claire Jackson.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” the librarian said, leaning across her big wooden desk to pat his hand. “Well, it was probably in the papers—but I wouldn’t want to show you anything that might upset you …”

“Please?” Daniel said, biting his lip. It hadn’t seemed that important before, but now he wanted so badly to know. To know anything about them, anything that might make them seem real, anything that might make it feel like he belonged to them and they to him. He already knew he didn’t belong with anybody else on this planet.

“Well, all right,” she said at last. She hauled herself up—she was a bulky woman, and the flowing dress she wore made her look even bigger. Daniel slipped off his chair and took the hand she offered him. “Do you know the date they died?” she asked.

It didn’t take them long to find it, and Daniel read it three times, fingers tracing every word. It talked about the big exhibit his parents had been setting up, how innovative it was supposed to be, what a shame it was that such brilliant scientists were killed so young. It hinted at rumors of foul play, despite the police verdict, how old, worn ropes were substituted for the new ones the Museum had bought, how the chain holding the main weight of the stone had problems nobody had noticed until it was too late. There was a picture of the stone that had killed them, and a picture of the three of them from a couple of years ago. Daniel didn’t remember it being taken, didn’t remember the tent they stood in front of. He recognized his parents, but oddly enough, didn’t recognize himself.

“You sure changed a lot in a few years,” the librarian said.

Daniel kept staring at the picture. The people in it still looked like strangers.

“You know, it says that your parents wrote some books on ancient Egypt,” she said, shaking his shoulder until he looked up at her, frowning. “They’re probably too advanced for you, but would you like to see if we have a copy of one of them?” Briskly, she folded the paper back up and returned that issue to its place in the stack.

“I’m a very good reader,” Daniel said, pushing down his irritation. He looked—was—eight. People were going to underestimate his intelligence until he was bigger. He needed to get used to it.

It turned out the library did have a copy of one of his father’s books, and it turned out the librarian was right, and it was too advanced for him; but that was largely because of its specialized technical vocabulary, and that could be fixed by a dictionary and an encyclopedia. When he left the library that day, he had his father’s book, an introductory archaeology text (from the adult section, not the children’s section, over the librarian’s protests), a general book about the Ancient Near East, and a travel book about modern Egypt. By the time he’d finished them, the library had received another of his father’s books and one co-written by both his parents through inter-library loan.

He learned a lot about Ancient Egypt, and his parents’ work. He thought about it all the time, started dreaming about it, slowly started finding hazy images in his head he thought were memories of living with his parents on dig sites. He started having nightmares about his parents being crushed to death, and stopped dreaming about the curly-headed blonde. By the time he was moved to another foster-home, a year later, he was thoroughly obsessed with ancient civilization in general and Egypt in particular.

His next foster home was much like the first one: messy, but not dirty, with a foster-father who was rarely there and a foster mother who was overworked but tried to be cheerful and do her job well. The first difference he noted was that in a corner of the living room, tucked behind the garish orange sofa, was a piano. His fingers wiggled at his side; they itched to caress its keys. He stayed were he was, seated on an overstuffed recliner. He didn’t know the rules here, yet.

“Why don’t you try it out, instead of just staring at it?” his new foster mother asked. Her hair was brown, with lots of gray in it, and curly like the women on TV. Like the blond he doesn’t see in his dreams much, anymore. It doesn’t look anything like the picture of his mother he was finally able to get.

Daniel didn’t say anything; before he’d arrived here, one suitcase with all his possessions in hand, he would have said he didn’t know how if anyone asked. But after staring at the battered wood for the last ten minutes, he wasn’t so sure. So he went over and sat down, fitted his hands over the keys in what he knew was the correct position. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Yes. He knew how to play. His fingers started moving over the keys, tracing out a melody and harmony he knew well. It faltered in places—his hands didn’t always stretch as much as he thought they were able to.

“That’s beautiful, Daniel. I’ll have to give you some lessons.”

He loved the lessons, but didn’t stay in that home long. The next place … he learned to keep his head down. After that was a house where he was given art supplies and allowed to paint and draw as much as he liked. A few homes later, he was encouraged to sing in the church choir. As much as Daniel enjoyed the arts, he wasn’t always in houses where they were possible. But there was always a library he could get to. And sometimes, staying in the library was much safer than spending much time in his “home.” (Daniel was never physically hurt or molested by any of his foster families or any other foster children in the homes he stayed in. He knew other children weren’t as lucky. But the library was always safe, and the library always had something knew to learn.)

By the time he graduated high school (two years early, and it would have been earlier if the social workers and counselors hadn’t thought “peer socialization” so important), he’d forgotten there was a time when he didn’t remember his life before foster care. His great passion was archaeology, and he rarely bothered to make time for artistic hobbies. And he’d forgotten about the blonde, even in his dreams.

***

By the time he’d been in the Stargate Program a few years, resettling human-looking alien refugees was a semi-regular part of his job. This was a larger population than they’re used to, and technologically advanced, and usually they didn’t have to dissuade refugees from trying to settle on Earth, but it was still fairly routine. He and Jack were walking through their warship with their president and military commander when Daniel heard his name called. He turned towards the voice.

“Daniel?” A middle-aged blonde, curly-haired, wearing a skirt and high heels, stared at him. “Daniel, is that really you?” Her face was white with shock.

“Ellen?” he said. But what he thought, as memories he didn’t know he had cascaded through his brain, was Mother.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-17 04:29 pm (UTC)
fignewton: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fignewton
I know nothing about BSG or Ellen or anything, but I love your take on young Daniel and how he developed his love for archeology. Marvelous.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-17 05:07 pm (UTC)
fignewton: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fignewton
I had to read that three times to make sense of it. :) Not quite sure how an eight-year-old kid can be a robot and grow up, but... eh, never mind. I liked young!Daniel, and that's all that matters!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-18 09:37 pm (UTC)
lizardbeth: (Cylon raider)
From: [personal profile] lizardbeth
oh, interesting. I'm so glad you found a way to make this work, since it's such a natural xover between the two. And Wee!Daniel is spot on.

re: your comment above, I figure there's no particular reason the cloning process in the Seven/Eight can't be halted in the middle to produce a younger body, since we know so little about how they're made (sort of like Mini!Jack, come to think of it). Tigh at least was apparently sent to Caprica in a younger body than he had on Earth. I've theorized that Sam was sent as a teenager, just to give him the time to produce a track record as a player that being a pro would require (a theory likely to be upended by The Plan, but I still think it's logical).

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-19 07:34 pm (UTC)
selenak: (Catherine Weaver by Miss Mandy)
From: [personal profile] selenak
Having only watched about five Stargate episodes, plus the movie, I'm just familiar enough with who Daniel Jackson is to find this idea of him as the lost model fascinating. And the elusive memories of Ellen feel just right.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-24 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tafkarfanfic.livejournal.com
THANK YOU!!!!

My friends and I joked about how Daniel from BSG would have to be Daniel Jackson. You took what was a joke for us and turned it into a complex, intriguing story. And you left me wanting to know what happens next.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-03 06:51 pm (UTC)
larawander5: (fanfic writers xover)
From: [personal profile] larawander5
Yeah! I am not the only one that thought that when Ellen was talking about "Daniel" *emits high pitch squee noise* I am so glad that I am not so crazy.

There is going to be more right? *makes a puzz in boots face* Are we going to get Daniel's reaction to being a cylon? He has a doctorate in anthology which is is study of human culture, what does it mean to him that he is not even human. The fact that he was living on a higher plane of existence for a year, that has to mean something.

Oh why do you always put these ideas in my head!!!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-09 05:27 pm (UTC)
bluebrocade: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bluebrocade
Oh, wow. I love it.

Oh dear, I never commented on this?

Date: 2009-10-26 06:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kuonji14.livejournal.com
Long rambling story: When I watched that episode in BSG, I was really thrown by how they introduced Ellen's 'lost son'. They made such a big damn mystery about it that I thought his name had to be significant. Except of course then they give us pretty much no info about what he looked like, and I couldn't see how his name was symbolic of anything (the only obvious symbolism being Daniel and the Lions, and the BSG world makes almost no reference to Christianity, so I didn't think that was it) -- so being a SG-1 fan, I kept having Daniel Jackson's face stuck in my head when I tried to imagine the lost model. It was rather annoying, to tell the truth.

So then I wondered if other people had this problem/idea, and I asked on stargate_search if there was a fic about this, and lo and behold someone pointed me here. :) And I'm so glad, because this story turned out to be much better than anything I would have imagined!

Love Daniel's calm acceptance of his confusion, and his gradual growing up, loved how his 'genius' is explained (of course!) by his ancestry. And even the odd piano in his apartment is explained. :) Delightful. Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-09-26 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is fantastic and a really wonderful way to make this concept work!

*bookmarks*

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