I took a deep breath and stepped through the gate to what I hoped would be my home. For a moment I thought I'd gone back to the other place as I faced the phalanx of guns in front of me. Then I heard Sam yell, "Daniel!" and she ran forward, and hugged me. I held her tight, almost squeezing the life out of her.
"Space monkey!" Jack cried, the greeting covering up what I knew was genuine worry. "Where the hell have you been?"
"It's a long story."
They sat round the briefing room table in silence as I told them of the alternative universe, of the differences, and the similarities. However, I don't know why, but I left out all references to Sam and Jack's relationship there. I told them Sam and I weren't married there, but I didn't tell them that their Sam and Jack seemed to have a special...connection. Or what Doctor Frasier had told me about Sam and Jack being together in at least two other worlds. I just kept quiet, and watched as the others discussed my adventure. I had always known that Sam and Jack were close, but I'd never suspected that their closeness had any romantic implications. Now however, I became hyper-aware of their every move. I watched as she tried to explain quantum theory to him, and how she smiled when he got confused. I watched as he directed his jokes to her. I watched as the two of them exchanged glances every now and again. I watched as he touched her lightly as he left, just a brief brush on her shoulder. I watched, and grew suspicious.
I lay in my bed that night, wide awake, listening to Sam's steady breathing beside me. I remembered what Doctor Frasier had said. 'You see, they're together everywhere. Every other universe but this one. And we always assumed that this meant they would get together in this one too. You've just shaken that up'.
Or rather, they had shaken me up. Perhaps Sam and Jack were meant to be together in this one too? Perhaps things were wrong here too? I moved over, and put my arm round Sam. She smiled in her sleep as she cuddled up to me. I thought of the other Sam and Jack I had seen, how much they cared for each other, how reluctant they were to tell the other, and I knew what I had to do. I held my wife in the dark, for the last time, as the tears slipped slowly down my cheeks.
I was up before her, the next morning, and I found Jack in the briefing room, coffee in hand, staring absently through the window at the gate. "Hey Jack." I called, far more casually then I was feeling. He jumped, then acknowledged me with a wave of his hand. "Is everything ok?" I asked.
He tried to maintain his composure for a second, then shook his head sadly. "Sara and I have split up." he said.
I felt a sudden coldness in the pit of my stomach. "I'm sorry. Why did you...?" I stammered.
"No reason." he shrugged. "When we got back together, I thought it was what I wanted more than anything in the world. I was wrong."
"I think what I really wanted was the relationship we'd had, rather than her." he said slowly. "But that relationship...that love had faded. We both just realised that finally."
"Oh." I said slowly, turning the conversation round and round in my head. I knew Jack would never have cheated on Sara, that wasn't his style, so I guessed what he told me was the truth. He'd finally realised that what he felt for Sara wasn't love. But what had made him realise that?
"Jack?" I said slowly, aware that even now I could stop, go back to the way things were, try and forget what I knew the truth was.
"Do you love my wife?"
The emotions flickered across his face rapidly, my stomach twisting even more with each one. First disbelief, then speculation, then revelation, then finally defeat.
It was too late to stop now.
"I see. Does she love you?"
"I don't know. Danny, nothing's ever been said, or done!" he called out after me, as I left.
I walked slowly down the corridor, not willing to rush what I knew what would be the final steps in my marriage. It had been a good marriage. I loved Sam dearly, more than life, more than I can possibly express in words alone. She had saved my life after Sha're had died, and when our relationship had moved a step further, I had willingly followed, rejoicing in the knowledge that this beautiful, bright woman loved me. It had never occurred to me at the time that our romantic relationship began at about the same time as Jack had gone back to his wife.
I don't think Sam meant to hurt me. But ever since the death of her father, she had needed someone, she couldn't bear to be alone. When the man she had loved had left her, what was more natural than that she had turned to her best friend? And to give her credit, I believed that she really did think she loved me. For a brilliant woman, Sam's remarkably dumb when it comes to her own feelings.
I turned the corner and watched her for a moment, fiddling with her beloved UAV with Lt. Simmons staring at her adoringly, as usual. I remember telling her that Graham had a crush on her. I couldn't believe she hadn't noticed how he stared at her with puppy-dog eyes, or how he got jumpy every time she was around. But then again, I hadn't noticed before yesterday how she glowed every time jack entered a room, or how he smiled gently at her.
"Sam." I said quietly.
"Daniel!" she cried, turning and smiling at me.
"Can I talk to you a second?" I asked. She nodded, and followed me out, to our quarters.
"What's the matter?" she asked, as soon as we there.
"I didn't tell the truth about the other realities. It's just one tiny difference, unimportant really, but I thought you'd might like to hear about it."
She smiled, a questioning look on her face.
"In the other two universes that they visited, their Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter were either engaged, or married. In the one I visited, although they weren't together, it was generally acknowledged that they would be, and soon."
I watched her. Her face had turned pale.
"Danny...." she started to say.
"Jack and Sara have split up." I said quickly, before she could say any more. She stood still, taking in this news, shaking slightly as it sunk in. I felt a lump form in my throat as I watched the sudden hope flare across her face, only to be brought under control again.
"Daniel, it was a different reality, and it doesn't mean things are the same here."
"Do you love him?" my voice cracked as I asked a question I'd hoped never to have to ask.
"I had nothing to do with Sara and..."
"Because he loves you." I said quickly, as the first tear rolled slowly down my cheek. She looked at my face in horror, but underneath it, I could see the sparks of a wonderful, beautiful joy rising, like it had been with me and Sha're.
"Daniel, I love you.." she said, walking towards me.
"Stop!" I cried, and the tears flowed freely now. "I know what you're trying to do, and I love you even more for it. But you can't spend the rest of your life healing others, taking care of people who need. You have to live your own life, you have to go to him."
"Daniel, when I promised to love and honour...."
"I know, you meant it. I believe you did. And you have loved, and honoured me. But I release you from your vows. You're free to go. Please, go to him!" I cried, sobbing uncontrollably. She stayed for a second, then she left. I collapsed in a heap on the bed she'd left only that morning. I done the right thing, I knew I had, but oh God, it hurt.
Two months later, and everything is mended, at least on the surface. SG1 is still together. I couldn't leave my friends, even though it hurt for a while. But when I told General Hammond that Sam and I were divorcing, I told him that we were still friends, still close, and we are. It's more brother and sister now, at least on her side. I watch Jack and Sam, how they have each made the other a complete person, how they always needed and loved each other, and I wonder sometimes if the Sam and Jack I met on the other side of the mirror have this yet. I'm happy for them, truely I am, and I know it is only what was meant to be, but I miss her. I see her every day, she's beside me everyday, but the worst way to miss someone is to have them sitting beside you and knowing you can't have them.