The door opened behind Sam and after a moment, someone leant on the railing beside her. "Unnerving, wasn't it? Seeing someone who could have been you."
She knew that her need for 'fresh air' would be understood by her team-mates. She'd hoped they would respect it.
She was glad he hadn't.
"There but for the grace of God," she said, her words barely audible in the blowing wind. "Daniel, do you ever think about what might have been if we didn't...if we weren't..."
"If we weren't who we are?" He hesitated, staring out over the park below his apartment. "Sometimes. Not too often – I try not to."
"You try not to?"
"Because...because sometimes I wonder if there's a Daniel Jackson out there who got his wife back. Or a Daniel Jackson who's living peacefully on Abydos with Sha're. No Goa'uld to fight, no war to wage... Only the villagers and the pyramids and the sand..." He snorted, "Listen to me, all maudlin. I dealt with Sha're's death three years ago..."
"But seeing her – or another version of her..."
"It brings it back a little." Beside Sam, there was a pause. "She still loved him. After everything he'd done to her..."
"After everything Klor'el had done to her..." She interjected.
"I wonder if..."
"She did." Sam was sure of it.
He turned to look at her, she felt his eyes on her profile. "And you?"
She took a long shuddering breath. "She was Apophis'...wife..." While they'd been in the other reality, she'd carefully not thought about it. Avoided the thought even when she looked at her alternate self, the long blonde hair braided and curled under the headdress, because the idea of a Goa'uld – a more ruthless, merciless version of Jolinar – in her head was...terrifying.
Daniel snorted, "In Dr. Carter's world you were Jack's wife... And don't pretend you weren't uncomfortable with that, Sam! You could barely look Jack in the face for a fortnight after we returned her and Kawalsky..."
There had been other reasons for that, but Daniel didn't know them and didn't need to know them. "That was different," she protested. And it had been. Even the discomfort of finding an alternate self married to her commanding officer's alternate wasn't comparable to finding an alternate self possessed by a Goa'uld and wife to the Goa'uld who had started out as their greatest enemy.
He touched her shoulder, "Sam, whatever reality you're in, you're strong. I bet Captain Carter fought the Goa'uld like crazy..."
"And I'll bet that she and the others make it through the maze under the hammer," Daniel continued inexorably. "And she's not you. What happened to her didn't happen to you."
"It could have."
It was strange to be discussing this topic with Daniel from this point of view. She would have expected it to be the other way around: Daniel arguing that it could have happened, while the scientist in her argued that it hadn't. It was like Teal'c's assertion that the only reality of any note was their own: a simplified view of the way the universe – the universes were put together.
"Sam, we are who we are. Who we need to be in this world."
"I know," she said. "But still..."
He smiled and nodded when she didn't continue. "But still." He understood her trepidation. Another gust of wind shivered through them. "Sam, you're you and I'm me. We are the sum of our choices – and if we don't choose to go inside soon, I think I'm going to freeze to death."
It was hard not to smile at his forthrightness. As First Prime O'Neill had observed, six years as SG-1 had changed them all significantly in many different ways. At the very least, Colonel O'Neill's personality had rubbed off on all of them.
As if on cue, the Colonel bellowed, "Are you guys coming inside, or are we gonna have to come out and get you?"
Daniel grimaced, "You had to bring along the beer, didn't you?"
Sam smiled in spite of herself, banishing the thought of Captain Carter struggling with the Goa'uld possessing her. Daniel was right. They were who they needed to be in this reality and it was enough. To think about all the permutations of possibility would drive a person insane. "It's okay, Daniel. I'll drive him home."
"You'd better. He's not fit to drive himself home and I don't want him snoring on my couch at four in the morning."
"He's uncomfortable with what happened to his counterpart, too, you know."
"I know. But he'd never have come out and talked about it."
She caught his arm as he turned, "Daniel... Thanks."
He hugged her, quick, warm and brief. "Back atcha," he murmured, letting her go. "Now are we going inside...?"
The door opened, "Are you guys...?"
"We're coming, Jack!" Daniel sighed, "Just as soon as you step back from the door so we can get in!"
And they went inside to the warmth of the apartment and the companionship of good friends.
- fin -
-- End of Mirror Mirror --