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It was her favourite place to sit, one that helped her relax and unwind and put the days events out of her mind for as long as her schedule would allow.

Not today, though.

Her mind was plagued with thoughts and fears, doubts and insecurities, all raised by the arrival of the woman who'd left just an hour before.

She supposed she should be excited - even thrilled - at having evidence that alternate realities existed. The scientist part of her was doing internal somersaults and back flips at the thought of the journal she could write now she had seen the proof with her own two eyes few would be able to read it but that wasn't the point. The scientist in Sam Carter was drooling metaphorically at the prospect but it was the scientist who occupied the majority of her mind as she sat there alone.

It was a rare occasion as both the scientist and the major faucets of her personality had taken a backseat. Sitting there, her mind a mess of intricate confusion, Sam knew without a doubt that this was why she so often hid behind her roles and responsibilities: on the odd occasion when she didn't, she had no choice but to accept how insecure and lonely she was beneath it all.

Usually, she could convince herself otherwise and make believe she was what passed as 'normal'. Meeting the other Samantha Carter had disturbed that belief, though, and she found she couldn't sit and get on with everything as normal - not without some time to process all that had happened and all she now knew.

The scientist part of her could have been an influence but she was sure it was plain, old-fashioned curiosity for the most part. Either way, she found she couldn't stop herself from wondering about the possibilities that were out there, even worrying to some extent about the choices both she and her counterpart had made.

She couldn't say Doctor Carter led a fuller, happier life than herself. She hadn't asked and the Doctor hadn't said. The only thing they'd talked about with enthusiasm had been their work and their mutual goal to help save her world. Their world, in a way.

Two differences were all Sam could be certain of. Tree including their differing tastes in hairstyle. Doctor Samantha Carter was just that, a Doctor of physics, and she had been married to Colonel O'Neill. The military had seemingly never tempted her and that alone was enough to motivate Sam's - *Major* Carter's - imagination.

If Doctor Carter had never joined the Air Force, what was the state of her relationships within her family? Was she closer to her brother than to her father? Did she even have a brother? Was her father even alive? Was her mother? Had her mother encouraged her away from the military path in favour of a safer career in science?

Was she as lonely as Major Carter was, or had she ever been?

She supposed that the answer would be no - would have been no, until recently at least. Doctor Carter had had a husband, a best friend and constant source of comfort. Someone to turn to in the middle of the night, someone to ward away the cold, heavy emotion that being alone caused.

It didn't matter to Sam who her husband had been, not really. It wasn't something she allowed herself to think about or dwell upon. All thoughts and the feelings associated with them to do with being romantically involved with, *married* to Colonel O'Neill were forbidden and therefore banished to some deep recess in her mind where they'd stay until such a time when there was too many such thoughts to ignore.

She wondered what it was like to have someone, though. Not just friends - she had a few of those - but a special someone to share things with, the things that couldn't be shared with anyone else.

Intimacy. Companionship. Understanding.

Three basic elements that would keep the loneliness at bay. Three things Sam had never had before - not even with Jonas Hanson, her former fiancÚ, not really. They'd had intimacy in its physical form, companionship and understanding in the early days but as the set date had approached, all three factors had become increasingly irregular and eventually altogether absent from their relationship.

Before Hanson, Sam had gone through two semi-serious relationships, 'semi' meaning that although they were exclusive and lasted for ten months and two years respectively, she hadn't committed herself one hundred percent. Probably not even fifty percent if she was honest with herself. At the time, her studying and work had been the first and most important priority, in a list that had changed very little over the years. It hadn't caused problems, anyway. One of her partners had been military and equally focused on his career, the other had been a scientist she worked with on various occasions who understood and shared her enthusiasm.

Friends, like lovers, came and went. If they didn't share either science or the Air Force as a common interest, they were more likely to have lost touch or interest. The friends she did contact on a fairly regular basis, the ones she didn't work with, all lived in different states so maintaining face-to-face social contact wasn't an issue. That was there the telephone and, in recent years, the Internet came in handy.

Still, Sam spent a great deal of her free time alone, putting in overtime wherever possible, secluding herself in her lab in between missions. Even when she was told to go home, she worked in the basement of her house on various experiments and work-related tasks. She wondered if Doctor Carter did the same, if it was a trait shared by most if not all people by the name of Sam Carter.

Whatever the answer, she mused as she stood and brushed strands of loose grass from her pants, it didn't really affect her.

In this universe, her reality, nothing much had changed. Colorado was still intact as were the other major towns and cities, the Goa'uld hadn't attack and he Asgard were still looking out for Earth. She hadn't lost a husband because she'd never had one to lose in the first place.

She was Doctor-Major Samantha Carter and she was alone, as always.

Nothing in the foreseeable future would change that.

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End Notes: Feedback, again, would be appreciated. mailto:Jo@ram32.freeserve.co.uk

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