by Nostalgia

Dr Elesee, not Dr Beckett. There is no Dr Beckett at Project Quantum Leap. Not any more.

"Dr Elesee?"

And she turns and sees Tina hobbling towards her on too-tall shoes. What, she wonders, does Tina actually do? What is she for?

Donna Elesee (not Donna Beckett, don't call her Donna Beckett) smiles with her lips and tries to look attentive.

"I need you to sign this," says Tina.

Another invoice, another paycheque. Whatever. The Stallion's Gate facility is a drain on the federal budget. They should shut it down. One day they'll get around to shutting it down.

But she signs her name (Donna Elesee, not Donna Beckett - she's not called Donna Beckett) and hands the thin slip of paper back to Tina.

(What does Tina do? Are we paying Tina?)

Tina nods and smiles and teeters off back to wherever she came from. Donna heads back to Ziggy.


Donna Elesee has no children. She has Ziggy instead. She asked for children once and Sam said, "I don't have time. We don't have time. Can't it wait?"

Now there is no time and too much time and time is Donna's day job.

"Ziggy?" The room is white and sterile; Donna is its only living occupant. There are parts of Ziggy's brain that aren't technology, but they aren't really life either.

"Dr Elesee?" The voice is soft and soothing and almost sultry. Donna used to wonder if that's what Sam wished she sounded like. She used to hate Ziggy.

"Where's Sam?"

"Dr Beckett is in Lexington, Kentucky, on the fourteenth of April 1968. He's a housewife." Ziggy says the last part like it's funny. It does that sometimes. ("It, Sam, not she. It's an it.")

Donna still hates Ziggy.

Ziggy was supposed to be able to bring Sam back. That's what Ziggy was built for. That's why Sam spent every waking hour messing with computer code and hardware. That's why Donna was two weeks off filing for divorce when Sam Leaped.

Ziggy owes it to Donna to work properly.

She says, "Thanks."

1968. What the hell happened in 1968?

The launch of the Tet offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Donna Elesee has developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the past.

Sometimes she locks herself in the room with Ziggy and makes the computer play back recordings of Sam's voice. His absence has swung her a little closer to the 'good' side of love/hate.

Ziggy is the single-biggest expense ongoing at the Project. They could shut Ziggy down, do the research themselves with paper and a net connection, give Sam another few years to find his way home. All he needs is a little more time.

But Al suggested it once and Sam - swiss-cheesed, holier-than-thou Sam - vetoed it. All Sam has are Al and Ziggy. He couldn't stand losing one of them.

And Ziggy, of course, is his child. Wouldn't do to lose the closest thing the world still has to the brain of Dr Beckett. But then·

Donna knows about Sammy-Jo Fuller - Al respects her too much to have kept that from her. Donna sits with her sometimes in the cafeteria, buys her coffee occasionally. Sammy-Jo Fuller probably wonders what the hell she did to deserve the attention of the great Dr Elesee. (Not Dr Beckett. Samantha Josephine Fuller is the only Beckett round here.)

Sammy-Jo gets along with Ziggy, calls it "her".

"Donna?" She looks up and there's Al. Good old Al. Sidekick Al.

"Sam's in 1968," she says, because those are the nearest words.

"I know, I just gave him the basics. You know what the average skirt length was in 1968?"

"No. And I don't really want to know, so·"

"Let's just say shorter than Sam has the legs for." He slaps his hand down on a control interface. "Ziggy, how are those numbers coming along?"

"I can count faster when I don't have to humour you, Admiral."

Al looks up at Donna. "Why did Sam build such a smart-ass?"

"You know how many questions I've asked that involve the words 'why' and 'Sam'?"

Al doesn't say anything.


In the original history, so the irony goes, Donna wasn't married to Sam. Which means that all of Donna's memories of the past are memories that Sam made for her by changing her history. It means that before Sam Leaped she never had to tell anyone that her name is Elesee, not Beckett. It means that time changed and gave her a husband in place of an anecdote about a jilted fiancˇ.

Sam Beckett always gets what Sam Beckett wants. It's just that sometimes he has to build a time machine to get it.

Donna, of course, isn't supposed to know all of this. She's supposed to be ignorant and blissful with it. She's not supposed to know that she wasn't married to Sam and now she is, or that he's cheating on her before they even met, or that Dr Fuller gets her brains from her dad.

In the history Donna remembers, no one ever managed to keep a secret from her for long. In another history, what she imagines to the original history to have been, no one ever called her by her husband's name.


Once, sometime in the late-eighties, she thought about going hyphenated. Elesee-Beckett, Beckett-Elesee. But she'd grown so used to her own name that it seemed like a resignation.

"We can hyphenate the kids," she'd said, "Or we can change your name to Sam Elesee." He'd laughed, like it was funny.


She can remember only one occasion on which someone called him Dr Elesee. It made her feel a little more real somehow, like she wasn't just an appendage, some aspect of his personality that rejected his name.


When did it become a contest?

When she was suddenly married. When she was suddenly Dr Beckett. When Sam changed history.

Her name is Donna Elesee. She wants people to remember that.


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