home :: fanfiction :: links :: livejournal :: recs :: about

Harsh Reality
what might have been
by Raven

G, gen. Alternate reality theory; or Daniel annoys SG-1 in the commissary.

SG-1 were in the commissary drinking coffee.

That was, except for Teal’c. He had insisted on sticking with water, despite the team’s efforts to wean him onto decaf. It was early in the morning, and the team were all on leave following their rescue of Thor, but for one reason and another they had all converged here at about the same time. It was a sunny morning twenty-eight levels above, but down here day and night merged together. That was probably the reason for the high caffeine intake among Stargate personnel.

“The problem,” Daniel said suddenly, “is that all the pressure is suddenly on us.”

This remark, coming as it did out of a dead silence, and not seeming to be related to anything in particular, was the reason for a thoughtful silence among the other three members of the team.

After a pause, Sam said, “What?”

Daniel looked serious. “You know your alternate reality theory?” he said.

Sam smiled slightly. “Well, it’s not really mine, and it isn’t a theory any more since you proved it, but…”

“But you do know what I’m talking about?” Daniel said.

“I have a vague idea, yes,” Sam said, allowing only the slightest trace of sarcasm to tinge her voice.

“So there’s an infinity of universes, each one different, and each one dependent on choices and outcomes, right?”

“Yes… Daniel, what are you getting at with all of this?”

“There’s a universe out there where you never joined the military, isn’t there, Sam?”

“Of course there is,” Sam said, confused. “We’ve seen it.”

“And I’ve seen two of them,” Daniel said. “The first time I went through the quantum mirror, you weren’t in the military in that universe either.”

“All right…” Sam said. It was clear she still had no idea where this was going.

“And I wasn’t a part of the Stargate programme, and neither was Teal’c.”

“Daniel, somewhere on the horizon, is there a point to this?” asked the astrophysicist.

“I’m getting there! I was thinking about what your counterpart said, Sam…”


Daniel tended to enjoy the discussions he had with the other scientist, but he wasn’t smiling any more. This was something serious.

“Daniel!” Sam was almost worried. She had paid very careful attention to everything Dr. Samantha Carter had to say, because it was herself she was listening to, another version of herself, a personification of everything that might have been. Sam wondered what she was missing.

“She said she was searching through the various realities with the mirror,” Daniel said gravely. “In nearly all of them, Earth had been taken over by the Goa’uld. It seems like we’re doomed.”

“Not nearly all of them!” The new voice made Sam and Daniel sit up and turn round. Jack was sitting there, watching them. “Hey,” he said, suddenly defensive, “I don’t pretend to know as much as you two do about this stuff, but if there’s infinite possibilities, anything can happen, right?”

“Right,” they agreed.

“So there’s millions of universes out there where we never killed Ra and pissed off the Goa’uld in the first place, isn’t there? There’s millions of them where Daniel never opened the Stargate. So they’re not all doomed.” Jack was quite pleased with this argument.

“There are universes out there where I was never born,” Daniel said, “and there’s alternate realities in which none of us were.”

“But that’s not the point,” Sam said. “Why have we not been defeated by the Goa’uld? Why are we different?”

“That’s what I was thinking about,” Daniel replied. “And the only answer I can come up with is this – it’s our differences themselves that make us different.”

“What?” Both Sam and Jack spoke at the same time.

“In order for the Goa’uld to be defeated, I have to join the Stargate programme,” the archaeologist explained. “And before you start calling me egotistical, it’s not just me. Sam, you have to join the military. Teal’c, you have to turn against Apophis.”

“We’ve got the best chances, haven’t we?” said Sam softly.

“Yes,” Daniel said, “but the pressure is all on us.”

“Wait!” Jack said suddenly. “Why are we holding the flag for all the universes out there? We’re only responsible for one reality – our own!”

“With all due respect, sir,” said Sam, “if that were true, would you have helped Dr Carter and Major Kawalsky signal the Asgard?”

Jack paused. The point had evidently not occurred to him.

Suddenly, Teal’c spoke. He had been silent so far, listening to his friends’ conversation, but he could be silent no longer. “What of the alternate realities in which the Goa’uld do not exist? Would they not be required to help us?”

“This is getting complicated,” Daniel said quietly. “No, Teal’c, I don’t think they would be required to help us. How can you help fight an enemy you’ve never seen or heard of, for people you don’t really know in the proper sense of the word?”

“All right,” Sam said, “let’s put it like this. We don’t help save an entire universe. That’s not what we’re here for. We save people. Individual people, like Dr. Carter and Major Kawalsky. Every so often, we save the planet. That’s as far as it’ll go.”

“It’s overrated,” Jack said thoughtfully.

“What is?” Daniel wanted to know.

“Saving the planet.”

There was another of those thoughtful silences.

Jack broke it, saying, “Does this mean there’s alternate versions of us having this exact same conversation right now?”

“Yes,” said Sam mischievously, “and there’s a lucky universe where Daniel never started us off talking about this.”

“There’s an alternate version of me who could be bothered to think of a good reply to that,” said Daniel lazily.

“That’s just the point,” Sam said. “There’s an alternate version of you doing anything you could possibly imagine.”

“I’m not sure I want to know details, thank you.”

A moment passed before Sam realised what he was implying. “Daniel!”

Daniel laughed softly. “That aside, there are realities just like ours, some slightly different, and some where Earth’s history is completely altered.”

“Like, there could be a world where, I don’t know, there was no Middle Ages,” Sam said wistfully, and Jack looked at her sharply.

“What would that mean?” he asked.

“We would have reached the same state of development as the Tollan,” she informed him solemnly.

Jack whistled. “Sweet!”

“There could be worlds where literally anything could have happened,” Sam said. “Hitler could have won the war! We might all be speaking German!”

Jack raised his eyebrows at that thought. Once he realised what he’d done, he decided he’d been spending way too much time with Teal’c lately.

“Anything could have happened,” Daniel declared again. “Columbus could have been shipwrecked and never discovered America, Lord Caernarvon could have died of malaria and never stumbled into the Valley of the Kings…”

Sam smiled at the example Daniel had chosen, but her blood chilled at the next comment.

“In one of these alternate worlds, your ancestors may not have rebelled,” Teal’c said gravely. “The Ancient Egyptians could still be living lives of slavery under the Goa’uld.”

There was another silence. None of them felt quite comfortable with that remark. There but for the grace of God…

“You know,” said Sam suddenly, “there was a time when I thought this was just a theory. I didn’t have to believe it…”

“But you had heard of the idea!” Daniel protested. “I fell into an alternate reality without a clue about what was going on!”

“It was a theory, Daniel,” said Sam patiently. “Even Communism works in theory.”

The remark was as baffling as it was true, and it was slightly difficult to think of a response for. Jack decided the subject had to be changed, at least slightly, before his pet scientists launched into another argument he would have to pretend to make neither head nor tail of.

But before he had a chance, Daniel said softly, “Is it possible we’re the only ones who have come into contact with other realities? What about our allies? The Nox, the Tok’ra, the Asgard?”

“The Asgard probably haven’t,” Sam said instantly. Daniel was surprised. “How do you figure that out?”

“Think of it this way,” she said confidently. “We know the Asgard are suffering from genetic degradation, right?”

Daniel realised she was wreaking revenge for his earlier irritatingly lengthy method of making a point, and said, “Yes,” with the minimum possible amount of inflection.

“Then isn’t it quite likely they would have considered using their counterparts from other realities, who are not clones of themselves, to help with their research into controlled mutation? So that means they haven’t come across the technology in the quantum mirror, or it hasn’t occurred to them to look into the theory.”

 Jack calculated he had understood around one word in five, and waited for Daniel to reply.

“I guess that does make sense,” Daniel said slowly, running over the argument in his head. “Yeah, I see what you mean.”

Sam smiled. “Thank you.”

There was a silence, which Jack broke by saying contemplatively, “I wonder why she never joined the military.”

“Dr. Carter, I presume?” Sam said. Daniel giggled at the reference, and then stopped abruptly as Jack glared at him.

“I don’t know,” Sam said slowly. “Why did Daniel choose not to join the programme? Why did Teal’c stay with Apophis? We’ll never know.”

“I think perhaps I was dead,” said Daniel unexpectedly. “When my parents died, I mean. Perhaps I died with them.”

“Perhaps. And perhaps you got drunk, depressed, decided enough was enough, and ended it.”

Off Daniel’s startled and rather hurt look, Jack shrugged his shoulders defensively. “Hey, it could happen! Somewhere out there it has happened!”

“And somewhere out there the exact same thing happened to you, sir,” Sam said blandly. “Not meaning any disrespect, of course.”

“Of course,” said Jack sourly.

Daniel laughed. “Are you sorry I brought this up, Jack?”

“I’m sorry about a lot of things, Daniel, most of them involving you…” stated Jack, letting the sentence trail off as ominously as he could.

“Much as I’d like to continue with this,” Sam said, “I have work to do. See you later.”

“Wait for me,” Daniel said. “I’ll come with you.” Setting down his mug, he followed her.

After the departure of his scientists, Jack breathed a sigh of relief. He looked up at Teal’c, who was inspecting the discarded coffee mugs. Clearly, he had his priorities right.


– – – – – –


SG-1 were in the commissary drinking coffee.

That was, except for Teal’c. He had insisted on sticking with water, despite the team’s efforts to wean him onto decaf. It was early in the morning, and the team were all on leave following their rescue of Thor, but for one reason and another they had all converged here at about the same time. It was a sunny morning twenty-eight levels above, but down here day and night merged together. That was probably the reason for the high caffeine intake among Stargate personnel.

Jack sighed deeply. He was remembering a time where he had thought life was not worth living. He was remembering the feel of a gun in his hand, the subtle difference in holding it away from you, and holding it pointed directly at your own heart. He was remembering the first encounter with an academic he had despised with all his might, the adventure that had followed and how a fairy tale ending had shattered into many sharp-edged pieces.

He remembered a friend he had loved.

Jack was sitting at a table with Samantha Carter and Teal’c. They drank their coffee in silence. No-one broke the silence with a seemingly irrelevant remark. No-one sparked off a discussion about what might have been. No-one spoke.

Daniel wasn’t there.


comments, compliments, rotten tomatoes...