PG, gen, humour. Back on the home front, all is not well.
It was like a sixth sense, or even a seventh one, or maybe more
like the way a person’s name always catches their attention even from the
other side of the room. Sam wasn’t even looking at the briefing-room window,
but she recognised the way the light was playing across the wall in front of
her, and she was on her feet and on her way to the control room by the time she
heard the familiar announcement.
“Unscheduled gate activation! Incoming traveller!”
“Close the iris,” said Sam softly to the technician, and in the gateroom the
panes of metal spun neatly into place.
“Who is returning, General Carter?” asked Teal’c with all his usual
solemnity, coming up the stairs.
“I have no idea,” Sam said, staring at the dialling computer. It flickered
as it registered an incoming transmission.
“It’s SG-1,” said the technician, then looked nonplussed. “SG-1?”
Sam considered for a moment, then pressed her hand down on the iris control
panel. Down below the control room window, the defence team stood to attention,
aiming their weapons resolutely at the newly visible event horizon.
It shimmered. A man stepped out, and there came the sound of a dozen guns being
cocked. “Put your hands on your head!”
Sam stood still for moment, just watching, then walked briskly down towards the
gateroom. Behind her, Teal’c kept pace. As the heavy doors opened to let her
through, she shielded her eyes for a moment. “Who are you?” she said
The man stared at her, eyes wild. “Daniel Jackson, SG-1.” He pointed to the
patch on his arm, then suddenly acquired an expression of resignation. “Oh,
god. Not again.”
“SG-1,” Sam repeated, and nodded to herself. “Come with me, please,” she
said, and her voice brooked no argument.
“No,” he said calmly, stepping away from any member of the defence team who
attempted to lay a hand on him. “You’re not going to haul me in. I can tell
you now I’m not a Goa’uld.”
“I do not believe you,” Teal’c said, and zatted him.
Once he had been sedated, given an MRI, certified free of Goa’uld infestation
and had blood drawn for good measure, Janet sent the newcomer to the briefing
room, where his presence had been specifically requested. “You’re the worst
patient I’ve ever had,” she grumbled, then amended, “Maybe second
Daniel nodded understandingly and went.
Sam looked up as he entered. “Your test results confirm you’re human,” she
said, wondering when saying something like that had begun to feel normal.
“Still, I didn’t think you should be wandering around the base.
“Let me guess,” he said, sitting down. “You have no idea who I am.”
“Daniel Jackson, linguist, expert on cross-cultural pollination,” said Sam
serenely, staring at him as intensely as she could whilst remaining polite.
“Laughed out of academia eight years ago for some pretty radical theories and
last seen en route to the Pegasus galaxy.”
His head landed on the desk. “Alternate reality,” he said. “It always
happens. I touch something I shouldn’t, and bam, I’m in another universe.”
Sam smiled broadly. “I hoped you would say that. I’ve theorised about this
before, and I wondered if any alien race had actually come up with technology
that used the idea.”
“I’m glad someone’s happy about it.” He paused, and his eyes narrowed.
“You’re not under attack by the Goa’uld, are you?
“No.” Off his look, she asked: “Should we be?”
“Just checking. Wait.” He had lifted his head again. “Did you say the
“The lost city of Atlantis,” Sam said. “You’ve heard of it?”
“Yes!” Daniel looked straight at her. “It belonged to the Ancients. When I
was one, I found the tablet in the pyramid at Abydos and we tracked it down to
Antarctica before we realised the city wasn’t here at all.”
“It was in another galaxy,” Sam agreed. “Wait, you were an Ancient?”
“Kind of.” Daniel took off his glasses. “Technically, I ascended to a
higher plane of existence. It’s a really, really long story.”
“I can imagine.”
“Yeah.” The subject change was natural, immediate. “So I take it you’ve
never met me before? The other me, I mean?” He paused, and she knew to six
decimal places what he was thinking.
“In passing, when the Atlantis expedition embarked. Certainly not eight years
ago. In fact, Dr. Jackson, while the Stargate programme was aware of your
existence beforehand, your recruitment on the Atlantis expedition six months ago
was due to a recommendation made by one of the base physicists.”
“No.” Sam wondered at his assumption, then realised: he likes me, he
respects me. And I – she – likes him. “His name is Rodney
Daniel squinted. “You mean Sam’s lemon chicken guy?”
She laughed. “Excuse me?”
He had the grace to look embarrassed. “Sorry, that’s just what Jack and I
called him. Our Sam, I mean the Sam that exists in my world, she’s the one who
actually knows him. I don’t think I’ve ever met the man.”
“Ah.” Sam sat back in her chair and thought about it. “Dr. Jackson, I
really hope you don’t mind me asking, but are you in any kind of long-term
He frowned, but he answered the question. “Not at the moment. My wife died
some years ago.”
“Your wife,” Sam repeated, and there was just the faintest shred of
disbelief in her tone.
“Yes... I’m sorry, is that a problem?”
“The version of you in this universe has never been married,” Sam said
diplomatically. “And I doubt he ever will be.”
“Wait a moment,” Daniel said. “When I came through the gate, how did you
know I wasn’t him? Is he still alive?”
“As far as we know, he is, but we’ve had no contact with Atlantis since they
left. You’re slightly different from him.” She only realised it as she said
it, but it was true. This version of Daniel Jackson stood straighter and looked
people in the eye. “Oh, and you’re wearing an SG-1 patch.”
“Ah.” Daniel sighed. “If he’s still alive, then I ought to leave here as
soon as possible. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a visitor like me
before” – she shook her head – “but there are these things called
cascade tremors. They happen when there are two of the same person in the same
world. It’s sort of like the universe sneezing.”
“Do you know how to get back to your universe?” Sam asked, and tried to hide
the note of regret.
“There’s a planet.” He put his glasses back on. “It’s got a big mirror
on it that looks like a slab of rock. Have you been there?”
“It doesn’t sound familiar,” she said.
“We called it a quantum mirror,” he persisted. “It lets you travel between
universes.” He drew one of the notepads on the table towards him and began
“You memorised the coordinates?” she asked.
He didn’t look up. “You have no idea how often this sort of thing happens to
me,” he said wryly, then pushed the pad across. “There.”
“We’ll run it through the computer,” she promised, and rose. He followed
her to the doorway, where they were both met by Teal’c.
“I wish to apologise for shooting you, Dr. Jackson,” the Jaffa rumbled.
“It appeared necessary at the time.”
“It’s okay, Teal’c. I’m used to it.” Daniel blinked. “You didn’t
call me Daniel Jackson.”
“I do not understand.”
They descended the staircase into the control room, but while Sam stopped at the
dialling computer, her guest wandered across to one of the other computers and
sat down in front of it.
Once again, her internal voices pointed out the wisdom or lack of in allowing
civilians into military operations. Out loud, she said: “What are you
He didn’t say anything. She left the gate address with the technician and
moved to look over his shoulder. He was pulling up the personnel files, rapidly
typing his own name.
“Last place of residence, Massachusetts,” Daniel read. “Formerly
California. Texas. Michigan. Cairo. New York. Oxford.” He looked up at her.
“Sorry, just morbid curiosity.”
“I think I’d do the same,” she said, and meant it. And then, because she
had to ask, “What’s it like, your world?”
He shrugged. “Mostly like this, I guess. I’m on SG-1 of course, and so are
you, and Teal’c and Jack...”
“You mentioned him before.” She gave up any pretence of hurrying him along
and sat in the chair next to him. “Who is he?”
“You don’t know him.” Daniel’s voice was still, quiet. “Colonel Jack
O’Neill. Team commander of SG-1.”
“I know him.” Sam knew her own voice matched his, but for different reasons.
“You call him by his first name?”
“He’s my friend,” Daniel said, still quietly. “I’ve known him a long
She held his gaze and didn’t think about what he had that she didn’t.
“Ma’am,” called a voice, and she turned. It was the technician behind her.
“Ma’am, I’ve found it.”
“Show me,” she ordered, and Daniel joined her in crowding round the
computer. The conversation they hadn’t had hung in the air, and she wished she
could swat it away like she would a fly.
“The planet does exist,” said the technician, “and a team did visit it
some years ago, but it was deemed unsafe. The surface is radioactive.”
“Teal’c saw a Goa’uld symbol, right?” Daniel asked. “He must have told
you to turn back before you found the mirror. That’s where I need to go.”
Sam wondered at his blithe disregard of outside considerations. “If it’s
“Don’t worry,” he interrupted. “I won’t be there long and besides,
it’s worth the risk if I can get home. And the sooner I go, the better.”
She nodded. “Cascade tremors. You mentioned them. Although I’d like to have
“I hope that’s just scientific curiosity and not a genuine desire to make me
suffer,” he said, but he was smiling.
“What, are they painful?”
Sam nodded. “Sergeant, are any teams expected back in the next hour or so?”
“Then dial up the planet.” She stopped, her air of authority deserting her
suddenly. “Dr. Jackson, it’s been a pleasure meeting you.”
“You’ve already met me,” he pointed out as they began moving towards the
gate room. “The real me, in fact.”
“Yes,” she said, but there was no certainty in the word. “I hope you reach
“So do I.”
Neither of them said anything as they made their way down. The last chevron lit
up as they entered, and the rippling light made Daniel’s eyes seem even more
blue. He lingered for a moment, then began clambering up the ramp. At the edge
of the event horizon, he paused and turned back.
“About him,” he said. “The other Daniel Jackson.”
“Yeah?” she asked.
“He sounds like a total flake.”
She laughed and he disappeared. The surface of the wormhole flickered and
stilled, as if no-one had ever been there.
After a minute, she went back towards the control room, step by careful step,
and Teal’c met her in the corridor. “He has departed?” he asked.
“Yeah.” She stared at her boots. “Teal’c, I didn’t think I was
supposed to like men outside of the military.”
Teal’c said nothing, merely looking wise. Behind them, the Stargate shut down.