SPOILER WARNINGS: This story contains recaps of plot lines in Sliders episodes "As Time goes by", "Eggheads", "The Guardian" and "Exodus" and "The Unstuck Man" (although the recaps are not told in that order of original production and screen dates, but in order of relevance to the events unfolding in this new fanfiction story).
Previously on Sliders…
In 1996, Quinn Malory, Wade Wells, Rembrandt Brown & Professor Maximillian Arturo had slid into a world, which was still 1996, but which had rotated faster on its axis, so that the characters were the age that their counterparts on all other earths had been in 1984. The cars, the culture, and the buildings of this world were all as the Sliders had remembered them in 1984.
There Quinn had arrived just in time to watch the funeral of his younger double's father. Quinn was 24. His double was 12. He had made the acquaintance of Heather Hanley at the funeral. She was the double of the woman who had been his Home Room teacher at the school where he had been relentlessly bullied by a child thug named Brady and his gang, until he had struck Brady with a baseball bat, leaving the boy with a limp for the rest of his life. Using the alias of Jim Hall to talk to Heather Hanley over dinner about young Quinn, Quinn had briefly courted and kissed his teacher's double, who was only 21 in this world.
Against the advice of the other Sliders, Quinn had intervened in young Quinn's life, training him to defend himself with martial arts until the day of the baseball bat fight. Watching from the front fence of the school, Quinn had watched young Quinn throw down the baseball bat and fight off the first two attackers, punching Brady in the chest and kicking the next bully just a little lower. All of the boys and girls who'd witnessed the incident were talking about it that day.
But time had been running out. Quinn and the others were due to slide out of that world and into another. Heather Hanley didn't understand Jim Hall's need to leave, just as she hadn't understood the way he spoke of young Quinn's future with such certainty. Yet his predictions had come true. Brady and the others had been back in school by the crucial Friday of the predicted third fight, their suspensions over. She had fallen rapidly in love with Jim, touched by his concern for young Quinn and his apparent interest in her. Jim had told her that, at young Quinn's age, he had had a massive crush on a teacher who looked exactly like her.
Jim had said his farewell to her and then walked around the corner to step into the vortex portal opened by the timer. Heather had come running around, calling for him to wait, and seen him standing in front of the open vortex.
"My name's not Jim," he had called, "It's Quinn."
She had watched him step into the vortex and vanish, and then seen the vortex close.
Adult Quinn had gone on to visit other worlds, and helped Maggie Beckett's people evacuate some of their population to a new world by scouting worlds with an improved timer. One of those worlds had been proportionately giant sized, with all the people giants too. They had arrived on a golf course, and not stayed long enough to meet their giant doubles, and quickly slid back to Maggie's world.
Eventually Maggie had been widowed, and joined the Sliders and formed a relationship with Quinn, until their romance had been cut short by a sliding accident that merged Quinn with his non-identical double, until the essence of her Quinn eventually died. She never felt anything for the new Quinn, but he became a slider until they found the way to free all earths from their arch enemies the Cromags.
Now the story continues on the world that resembled the past…
Heather Hanley stood in the empty quiet street grappling with all of the things that had happened that week. She suddenly understood that this older Quinn who'd called himself Jim was in fact so close in physical resemblance to the facial features of her student Quinn, that he could well be the same person from the future. Had he come back in time to help his younger self? No. That couldn't be possible. From what little she'd studied of time travel, it was not possible for a person to meet their younger self without causing major repercussions.
Heather thought over what Jim/Quinn had said. He had claimed to have had a crush on a teacher "who looked exactly like" her. He was not referring to her, but to someone who resembled her. She remembered theoretical papers she'd once read written by Stephen Hawking and Maximillian Arturo. Both scientists had maintained that parallel earths existed, but that there was no way to reach them. Yet this Quinn Malory had come from another earth, and was clearly older. Maybe his world was out of time phase with hers and more advanced in technology. Quinn hadn't had to leave because of personal choice reasons. He hadn't abandoned her. He'd been drawn back by the inevitable principles of science.
But her Quinn wasn't. She knew now, that the boy in whom she'd taken a special interest, the gentle vulnerable, sensitive intelligent child who had been skipped two grades because of his advanced scientific intellect, would one day grow to be the image of the man she'd fallen in love with over the last week.
There was only nine years' age difference between them, and she knew from his older double, that this boy had a crush on her, and that he would remember it vividly twelve years later, that those feelings would not fade or leave him, and that he wasn't destined to have any other partner in the meantime.
She would help him to become that person.
In the weeks ahead, she realised that there was no more need to protect him from bullies. The whole school had quickly learned of the way Quinn had decked the two worst bullies that day on the lawn. All through high school, even in the years when she was no longer his teacher, Heather would talk to Quinn about his interest in science, and began to get his mind thinking about the possibility of exploring parallel earths. As she predicted, by his year 11 of high school, he mentioned that it would have become an important subject on his mind anyway. In fact, he had already started applying himself to the means of inventing a device which might open a portal to a parallel earth.
One day she approached him again and said, "Quinn, would you like to go for a soda with me after school? There's some things I've been wanting to tell you for some time."
Quinn accepted, and met her at a little known café, as she thought it unwise that they be seen leaving the school together. The culture was changing, and people were becoming paranoid about the possibility and ramifications of teacher/student involvements.
"Quinn," she said, "Do you remember Jim Hall?"
"He was the best friend I ever had. I never got over his leaving," said Quinn, "I lost him so soon after I lost Dad."
"He had to leave," said Heather, "I didn't fully understand it at the time, but what I'm going to tell you will have a profound impact on your memory of everything Jim Hall did to help you. The day you stood up to those bullies, I saw Jim leave this world through a vortex, which took him to a parallel earth. He came from a parallel earth, where everyone was 12 years older than their counterparts on our earth."
"So it's already been proved possible?" said Quinn.
"Yes. Jim hall said something just before he left. He said his name wasn't Jim, but Quinn."
"Do you mean he's an older version of me?"
"He was. I've never seen him again. It took me a long time to connect this, but I briefly caught a glimpse of him talking to a friend of his, presumably from that other world. The man was an older version of the science lecturer Maximillian Arturo, who teaches at the university you're thinking of applying for when you matriculate. I believe that they worked together to invent a sliding machine. You could do it too."
"It's such a responsibility," said Quinn.
"Yes, but one you're up to. You may even do it sooner if you start thinking about it now."
"I'll try," he said, "It all makes sense now: why Jim knew so much about me and why he was so keen to help. I remember that he knew all about the bullies, secrets that only they could have known. He knew their future, because he'd seen it on his own world."
"There's something else, Quinn. He told me that, when he was your age, he had a crush on my counterpart from his world."