Author's Notes: As there seems to be some confusion about thisnarrative (which I admit is not in my usual style--it isn't even one story, but more like three individual ones), I feel I should point out that each of the following three scenarios is a separate POSSIBLE FUTURE. Each is essentially the same conversation, but colored by the different public responses to the Stargate program and the contributions of SG-1.


Divergence

"Regrets are idle; yet history is one long regret. Everything might have turned out so differently."
-- Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden

The door swung open with a swish of well-oiled hinges, admitting a figure bundled against the frigid air of the world outside. Jack O'Neill turned from his perusal of the crowd gathered outside, a smile lighting his face as the concealing layers of clothing were peeled away.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he greeted cheerily.

"Hi. Nice to see you, too," replied Daniel Jackson with a grin. "That never gets old, does it?"

"Nope, but apparently you do."

The aging archaeologist ran a hand through his short, gray hair. "Pot calling kettle."

"I blame all this on you," the retired Air Force general retorted, pointing to his own snow-white hair. "Seriously though, Daniel, why'd you brave hordes of your adoring fans to come see me?"

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Why? 'Cause you're not that young any more, Jack. A fall like that could have killed you!"

Jack turned his wheelchair away from the window. "It didn't," he answered simply. "I just--"

"Busted your knee again, I know," Daniel finished. "And now you're going to have to get it replaced."

The older man waved him off. "I'll be back on my feet in no time."

"Uh-huh."

"Seriously. Where's your security escort?"

"Waiting downstairs. I wanted to see you alone."

Jack raised an eyebrow. "This sounds ominous."

"It isn't," Daniel sighed, pulling up a chair. "Just getting nostalgic in my old age."

Jack snorted. "You're an archaeologist. Nostalgia comes with the territory."

"Yeah, well."

Rolling his chair across to Daniel and setting the brake, Jack leaned over to touch his arm. "What is it, Daniel?"

His friend sighed. "Remember when we were anonymous? Just ordinary citizens of Colorado Springs who worked 'up at the Mountain'?"

"Fame ain't everything, is it?"

Daniel rubbed the back of his neck. "Twenty-five years ago, I would have given anything to be able to tell my colleagues in the archaeological field that they were wrong, and I was right. Twenty years ago, I couldn't care less... I knew I was right, and that was enough."

"And now?"

"Now they bug me about everything. I'm an international--intergalactic celebrity. I can't even go to the grocery store without someone making a scene."

Jack nodded. "That's why you decided to retire off-world."

"Yeah, well, the galaxy's gotten a lot smaller in the last decade," Daniel sighed. "Thanks to the recent advances in communications, they can bug me even there. Did you know I now have a security detail off-world, too?"

The retired general winced. "Well, Danny my boy, you are the one who opened the Stargate."

"I know."

"And the one who introduced us to the Asguard."

"You were the one they liked better."

"So I got a ship named after me before you did. At least yours is still around. Still, you and Carter were the ones that first contacted Thor."

"Yeah."

"You're also the one the Nox liked."

"The Nox like everybody."

"I'm on a roll here, would you stop interrupting?"

"Sorry."

Jack looked smug. "You're the one that wrote the Tok'ra treaty."

"For all the good that did us," Daniel sighed.

"I may not have cared for their snaky butts, but they did occasionally help us with something. You also introduced us to both the Ancients and the Furlings." He rolled his shoulders and rubbed his neck. "Now me? I'm just a retired Air Force general with two bad knees."

"Jack!"

"Like it or not, Daniel, you're a hero. You were the voice of our team--our world--twenty years ago, and now yours is the face everyone remembers."

The archaeologist stood and walked over to the window, gazing down at the crowd assembled at the hospital's front door, eager to catch a glimpse of the galaxy's most famous man. "I just miss our days of anonymity," he lamented.


The door swung open with a swish of well-oiled hinges, admitting a figure bundled against the frigid air of the world outside. Jack O'Neill turned from his perusal of the crowd gathered outside, a smile lighting his face as the concealing layers of clothing were peeled away.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he greeted cheerily.

"Hi. Nice to see you, too," replied Daniel Jackson with a wistful smile. "That really gets old, sometimes."

"Hey, you started it."

The aging archaeologist ran a hand through his short, gray hair. "You're never going to grow up, are you?"

"Not if I can help it," the retired Air Force general smiled. "Seriously though, Daniel, why'd you brave hordes of your adoring fans to come see me?"

Daniel winced. "Why? 'Cause you're not that young any more, Jack. A fall like that could have killed you!"

Jack turned his wheelchair away from the window. "It didn't," he answered simply. "I just--"

"Busted your knee again, I know," Daniel finished. "And now you're going to have to get it replaced."

The older man waved him off. "I'll be back on my feet in no time."

"Uh-huh."

"Seriously. Where's your security escort?"

"Waiting downstairs. I wanted to see you alone."

Jack raised an eyebrow. "This sounds ominous."

"It isn't," Daniel sighed, pulling up a chair. "Just getting nostalgic in my old age."

Jack snorted. "You're an archaeologist. Nostalgia comes with the territory."

"Yeah, well."

Rolling his chair across to Daniel and setting the brake, Jack leaned over to touch his arm. "What is it, Daniel?"

His friend sighed. "Remember when we were anonymous? Just ordinary citizens of Colorado Springs who worked 'up at the Mountain'?"

"Oh, one of these conversations."

Daniel massaged his temples. "Twenty-five years ago, I would have given anything to be able to tell my colleagues in the archaeological field that they were wrong, and I was right. Twenty years ago, I couldn't care less... I knew I was right, and that was enough."

Jack removed his hand. "Daniel, you and I both know we can't take it all back. Time travel's been outlawed you know."

The archaeologist gave him an exasperated glance. "Why should that stop me? I'm already an international--intergalactic criminal."

"You're not a criminal, Daniel, you didn't do anything wrong."

"I can't even go to the grocery store without someone making a scene."

"That's why you decided to retire off-world."

"Yeah, well, the galaxy's gotten a lot smaller in the last decade," Daniel sighed. "Thanks to the recent advances in communications, people can threaten me there, too. Did you know I now have a security detail off-world?"

The retired general winced. "Well, Danny my boy, you are the one who opened the Stargate."

"Yeah. The one who unleashed the Goa'uld on Earth."

"The one who stopped Apophis' attack on us, too."

"Sure. That didn't stop Anubis from trying to wipe us out."

"You stopped him, too."

"That wasn't me."

"You're the one who came up with the solution for stopping the asteroid from colliding with Earth and the one who got Oma to take out Anubis."

"Yeah. But I also unleashed the Ori and their Priors, the Wraith, the Aschen, the--"

"You're really on a roll here, aren't you?"

"Sorry."

Jack looked pained. "Stop apologizing Daniel, none of those were your fault. I took full blame for the Aschen, remember? And the Wraith were the Ancients' mistake, not yours."

"Who opened the 'Gate to the Pegasus Galaxy again?" Daniel sniped.

"I hate this... this burden of guilt you seem to think you have to bear." He rolled his shoulders and rubbed his neck. "It never should have been shovelled on you, anyway."

"If it were only just me, Jack, I could handle it."

"Daniel, they've made a scapegoat of you! You were the voice of our team--our world--twenty years ago, and now yours is the face everyone remembers."

The archaeologist stood and walked over to the window, gazing down at the crowd assembled at the hospital's front door, hurling epithets and curses at the galaxy's most infamous man. "I just miss our days of anonymity," he lamented.


The door swung open with a swish of well-oiled hinges, admitting a figure bundled against the frigid air of the world outside. Jack O'Neill turned from his perusal of the winter wonderland outside, a smile lighting his face as the concealing layers of clothing were peeled away.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he greeted cheerily.

"Hi. Nice to see you, too," replied Daniel Jackson with a laugh. "One of these years, we're gonna forget why we started that."

"I'm not planning on it anytime soon. How else would I remind you that you started it?"

The aging archaeologist ran a hand through his short, gray hair. "Oh, I'm sure you'd find a way."

"I'll leave Post-It Notes if I have to. The color might be gone, but the gray matter's still there," the retired Air Force general retorted, pointing to his own snow-white hair. "I think. Seriously though, Daniel, why'd you brave hordes of your adoring fans to come see me?"

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Why? 'Cause you're not that young any more, Jack. A fall like that could have killed you!"

Jack turned his wheelchair away from the window. "It didn't," he answered simply. "I just--"

"Busted your knee again, I know," Daniel finished. "And now you're going to have to get it replaced."

The older man waved him off. "I'll be back on my feet in no time."

"Uh-huh."

"Seriously. Where's your security escort?"

"Funny. I can still get around this little planet without help, thank you. Besides, I wanted to see you alone."

Jack raised an eyebrow. "This sounds ominous."

"It isn't," Daniel sighed, pulling up a chair. "Just getting nostalgic in my old age."

Jack snorted. "You're an archaeologist. Nostalgia comes with the territory."

"Yeah, well."

Rolling his chair across to Daniel and setting the brake, Jack leaned over to touch his arm. "What is it, Daniel?"

His friend sighed. "Remember when we were anonymous, ordinary citizens of Colorado Springs who worked 'up at the Mountain'?"

"Yep. Your point?"

Daniel rubbed the back of his neck. "Twenty-five years ago, I would have given anything to be able to tell my colleagues in the archaeological field that they were wrong, and I was right. Twenty years ago, I couldn't care less... I knew I was right, and that was enough."

"And now?"

"It still doesn't matter. I'm just... just trying to make sense of things, ya know? This world--Earth--is a whole lot smaller than most people on it think."

Jack nodded. "That's why you decided to retire off-world."

"Yeah. It's so hard sometimes, knowing what I do now and unable to tell anyone," Daniel sighed. "Thanks to the recent advances in communications, I can share everything with the SGC no matter where I go, but then it all just gets filed away, never to see the light of day again."

The retired general winced. "Someday, Danny my boy, everyone will know you were the one who opened the Stargate, and they'll get to share in all we've--you've learned."

"I know."

"Probably won't be today."

"Probably not."

"And probably won't be tomorrow."

"Yeah."

"But someday. Soon, I hope."

"Someday, sure."

"I'm on a roll here, would you stop interrupting?"

"Sorry."

"You're the one who always goes on about 'legacies' and 'using the past to guide the future'."

"I just can't help but remember something Ernest Littlefield taught me, once. He asked me what the point of learning the secrets of the universe was if I couldn't share them with anyone," Daniel sighed. "I'd love to share them, Jack, make the last twenty-five years mean something."

"They do, Daniel. Earth is still here, still safe... still free. Innocent, even." He chuckled. "Okay, maybe 'innocent' is a bit of stretch."

"A bit."

"But you? You've seen it all, Daniel. You've died, come back, become one with the cosmos, come back... All that knowledge swimming around in that big brain of yours has made a difference already. Will make a difference again." He rolled his shoulders and rubbed his neck. "Your day's gonna come, Daniel, and when it does, you're gonna be a hero. You were the voice of our team--our world--twenty years ago, and yours is gonna be the voice everyone remembers."

The archaeologist stood and walked over to the window, gazing down at the people walking along the quiet street outside the hospital's front door, unaware he was looking down on them. "I think I'm gonna miss our days of anonymity," he lamented with a smile.


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