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12 April 2008 @ 09:55 pm
The Grass is Always Greener (the Known Temptation Remix) [Stargate: SG-1; Daniel Jackson, team]  

Title: The Grass is Always Greener (the Known Temptation Remix)

Summary: No reality is perfect.  No matter what it may look like on the outside.
Rating: PG
Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Word Count: 2774
Spoilers: none
Remix of:Ignoti Nulla Cupido” by [info]melayneseahawk, for the Remix … Redux VI.



Sam jerked back in shock as the device they’d never been able to figure out, the one that looked like nothing more than a slab of Naquadah, came to life with a view of a lab different from hers, followed by the sudden appearance of a man—Daniel?—out of thin air.  She blinked; that thing had been sitting in her lab for over seven years, now, and this was the first time it had done anything.  Unobtrusively, she hit the panic button for the silent alarm under her lab table; better safe than sorry.

“Daniel?” she asked, studying him.  He didn’t look quite right—the wrong haircut, for one thing, and he seemed a bit … off.  When were the guards going to get here?

He frowned at her.  “Yes, but,” he glanced around at her lab, “not your Daniel.”

“What do you mean?” she asked curiously.

“Well, the quantum mirror sent me somewhere by accident.”  He gestured at the device, standing next to him.  “And—damn.  Looks like it turned itself off.  I don’t suppose you have a control device for it laying around somewhere?”

Sam shook her head.  “Not that I know of.  What exactly is it?”  She couldn’t decide which she wanted to study more, the technology or the man in front of her.  Actual proof that alternate realities existed?  This would keep them occupied for months.  Years, maybe—it could revolutionize physics!

Daniel raised his eyebrows.  “You don’t know?  It’s a quantum mirror—you can use it to travel to alternate realities, except I wasn’t planning to make any trips today—I’m not even sure how the thing was activated.”  He gave her lab a more thorough study.  “How are things going with the Goa’uld?”

“We’re winning,” Sam said.

“Any other enemies out there?”

“Not any major ones.”  Sam sidled out of the way as she heard the tramping of airmen coming down the corridor outside her lab.  The alternate-Daniel watched her do it, hands in his pockets, knowing look on his face.  Had he already realized she’d called for security?  Their Daniel probably wouldn’t have.

“You’re more fortunate than you probably realize,” the other Daniel said as they waited.  “Most realities … haven’t been that lucky.”


1.       Jack O’Neill

Jack O’Neill wasn’t too sure what to think of this “Daniel Jackson” who came through that weird mirror thing they’d never figured out.  Supposedly, he came from some sort of alternate reality.  Carter believed him, which was good enough for Jack.  The other Daniel had described this world like a dream, saying other worlds were nightmares compared to it.

“What do you think, T?” he asked over lunch in the commissary.  He’d always been bemused over how much Teal’c ate, and then he’d lost Junior and now it just seemed weird to watch the big man eat a relatively normal-sized helping.

Teal’c looked at him before glancing over to where the two Daniels (and that was just wrong) sat jabbering away at each other.  “It is interesting to hear tales of what might have transpired, had circumstances been different,” he said.

“But you don’t think it’s … odd, knowing what happened to another you in another … reality?” Jack pressed.

“Ours is the only reality of consequence,” Teal’c said, turning his attention back to his meal.  Jack knew better than to get between a Jaffa and his food, and turned back to his own meal.


That night, after his family was in bed, Jack gave Sara a peck on the cheek before wandering through the house.  Their daughter Audrey was snoring gently, surrounded by pillows and lace.  Her room was a bit … pink for O’Neill’s taste, but eight year old Audrey loved it.  Ryan nestled in his bed, clutching a well-loved teddy bear in his arms.  Madeleine was in the nursery, looking as adorable as ever.  She’d need a real bed, soon; that crib was getting a bit small for her.  That other Jack O’Neill, he must be one sorry son of a bitch.  Satisfied that everything was okay, Jack double-checked the perimeter and the security system before heading back to bed with Sara.  No incursions, no problems.

There’d been a letter in his mailbox when he got home from work, no return address given, just a few lines long.  It was from his contact, demanding information on the alternate reality mirror thingy.  Jack hated having to deal with the NID.  They were rotten to the core, and they made his skin crawl.  He tried to minimize the help he gave them, and he damn well shielded his family and his team from them.  But he’d have done a damn sight more to keep his kids safe, if he had to.


2.      Daniel Jackson

Daniel took copious notes while his alternate-universe doppelganger was available, and recorded as many conversations as he could.  He knew he was practically salivating at the other man’s knowledge, knew there was no way he’d get approval to visit most of the worlds the other Daniel described.  No military value to them, and the SGC had never even paid lip service to valuing cultural or historic research for its own sake.  Still, just knowing it was out there, knowing that once the Goa’uld were defeated and the Gate went public he could maybe get a research grant or something to study alien cultures, living or dead—that dream made his work a hell of a lot easier.

“So, this ‘ascension’ you’ve spoken of—ascended beings really know everything?” Daniel asked his counterpart over lunch.  The formal debriefing had mostly concentrated on what they were capable of (practically everything) and what they were likely to do (practically nothing), not the interesting things.

“Not exactly,” the other Daniel replied.  “I mean, they do know a lot more than we do about practically everything.  And they can find out pretty much everything they want to.  But they’re not omniscient and they’re not all-seeing, and they don’t know the future any more than you or I do.”

“But they do exist on a higher plain of existence,” Daniel said.  “And you’ve seen it.”  He shook his head in wonder.  “It must be amazing.”

“Well, I suppose so,” his counterpart said.  “Except you can’t actually do anything with all that knowledge and power, which makes it pretty frustrating, too.  I hardly remember anything from my time as an ascended being, but I wouldn’t go back.  Not for long, anyway—I’m pretty sure I’d get kicked out again, and a lot faster this time.  Because I’ve lost what illusions I had about ascension and ascended beings, and I don’t particularly care about their rules any more.”

“I see what you mean,” Daniel said, and the conversation turned to other topics.

Later that night, Daniel lay in bed with his arms around Sha’re, and thought about how glad he was to have her alive and safe with him.  He wouldn’t trade her and Charlotte for anything in the world.  But maybe, after the Goa’uld were finally dealt with and the Gate declassified and there was time for real research, he’d go to this Kheb place.  See what he could find out about Oma Desala, the ascended beings, and the Ancients.


3.      Samantha Carter

Sam Carter spent a lot of time in her lab while Daniel was interrogating, well, himself.  After finally having some information about the mysterious naquadah device that had been sitting in a storage closet for the last few years—which they now knew was called a “quantum mirror”—well, it wasn’t something she was about to leave any time soon.  It was doing things now that it hadn’t in all that time and she really needed to study it as closely as possible, particularly if they were going to destroy it or weld a cover on it like General Hammond was thinking, now that he’d heard just how many universes out there were worse than theirs and might use it to come calling.  She would have worked through lunch if Janet hadn’t come and dragged her out to the commissary.

Once they had their food, Sam led the way to the two Daniels—she was curious about the one from the alternate universe, and if she kept working on that mirror, this might be her only chance to see him before he went back to his own universe.

“Sam!” Daniel—she thought it was their Daniel—said as she and Janet approached their table.  “I see Janet dragged you out of your lair for lunch.  Daniel Jackson, this is Major Sam Carter.  I believe you met, briefly, when you arrived.”

The alternate Daniel raised both his eyebrows, just like her Daniel did when he was truly surprised by something—it didn’t happen often.  “Major?” he said.

“That’s me,” she said with a smile, plopping her tray down next to him.  Janet circled the table to sit across from her.  “You sound surprised.  Why?  Is your Sam Carter not in the Air Force?”

“No, Sam’s in the Air Force,” the alternate Daniel replied.  “It’s just, she’s a Lieutenant Colonel, now.”  He kept glancing at Janet as he spoke.

“Really?”  Sam shook her head.  “Huh.”  She took a sip of her coffee and cradled the mug in her hands, more interested in the conversation than the unpalatable commissary fare.

“Yes,” alternate Daniel said.  He frowned, as well.  “You know, we once met a Sam Carter from an alternate universe who was a civilian scientist with the program.  Our Sam was shocked at the idea of not being military.  You seem to find the idea … normal.”  He squinted at her hands.  “Major Carter—are you married?”

“Yes,” Sam said with a smile.  “Two years next month.  To Pete Shanahan—he’s a wonderful guy.”

“I met him a few times, when Sam was going out with him,” alternate Daniel said.  “She broke up with him.  You sound happy with him, though.”

“We are very happy,” Sam said.  “I’m thinking of switching from an SG-team to R&D so we can start trying for children.”  She’d hate to give up field work, but pregnant women weren’t allowed through the gate.

“Cassandra would be so pleased to be an auntie,” Janet said with a grin.

“I’m sure she would,” Daniel said, “but we’d sure miss you on SG-1, Sam.”

“So, you’d be transferring to Area 52?” alternate-Daniel asked.

“Hm?  Oh, no.” Sam shook her head.  “The Springs is a much nicer place to raise a family.  Besides, it’ll keep us closer to my team and his family.”

“I see,” alternate-Daniel said, leaning back in his chair.  He shot another glance at Janet, and changed the subject.


It wasn’t until later, lying awake curled up next to Pete, that she let herself explore the idea of herself as a colonel.  She’d joined the Air Force in the first place to get into NASA, then found out where the space action really was and found herself at the SGC instead.  She was a scientist first and foremost, and a career officer only secondarily.  That’s why she was willing to transfer off SG-1, that’s why she was willing to take the research post here at the SGC rather than at Area 52, which had a broader diversity of research and was a different posting, and as such looked better on an Air Force record when it came time for promotions.  She loved working at the SGC, didn’t want to leave her team, and having a family was much more important to her than promotions.

So why was she lying here in the dark trying to convince herself of all that?


4.      Teal’c

Teal’c paid little attention to the “alternate Daniel Jackson.”  This made him a distinct rarity in the SGC at the moment.  Even now as they ate, O’Neill watched the alternate as he ate with Daniel Jackson.  Teal’c saw little point in it.  For all the commotion the man’s appearance had raised, he would be gone soon, and he neither posed a threat nor possessed knowledge likely to help with the destruction of the Goa’uld and the building of a free Jaffa nation to replace them.  Master Bra’tac had contacted him a few days earlier with the distressing news that the Hak’tyl and Rak’nor’s faction of the Free Jaffa were coming to blows over a variety of reasons from matters of deep strategy and philosophy to the most trivial of slights.  He possessed some influence over Rak’nor, but the leader of the Hak’tyl, Ishta, was a fiery woman who paid little heed to his words.  Perhaps she would respond better to a woman?  Drey’auc might be willing to act as ambassador to the women of Hak’tyl.

“What do you think, T?” O’Neill asked.

Teal’c looked at him, then at the men he was watching.  Neither had moved significantly since he had sat down.  “It is interesting to hear tales of what might have transpired, had circumstances been different,” he said.  He had heard a few stories, although he had not sought them out; doubtless, much entertainment would be made over the next few weeks retelling and embellishing them.

“But you don’t think it’s … odd, knowing what happened to another you in another … reality?” O’Neill said.

This was what Teal’c did not understand about his teammates’ reactions to their visitor.  “Ours is the only reality of consequence.”  They did not seem to realize that what had happened in another reality was irrelevant to what happened in this reality.  They could not affect it; it could not affect them, but such disregard for practical realities seemed to be a central fact of their lives.  There were larger concerns than frivolous stories of things that had never happened in this reality, but you would not know it from the words of any member of Stargate Command this day.


That night, as Teal’c waited for his son to come home, half an hour after the curfew he had been given, Teal’c made up his mind.  He would send Drey’auc and Ry’ac through the Stargate to the Free Jaffa camp.  Drey’auc would be pleased; she liked their home on Earth but had never fit in with the Humans they lived among.  Ry’ac would be vocally displeased; he was too human, too enamored of an easy life with no hard truths to be faced, and did not care to spend time among his fellow Jaffa.  Perhaps Teal’c had been wrong to bring them to Earth with him; perhaps they would have been better off staying with Master Bra’tac after being forced to flee Chulak.

There was no point in dwelling on such things now.


5.      Jonas Quinn

Jonas Quinn was never a member of SG-1.  He never even made it to Earth.  Like all citizens of his planet, he was killed when the bomb Daniel wasn’t there to stop went off and caused a chain reaction in the planet’s naquadah deposits that cracked the planet open like an egg.

No member of the SGC was killed; the diplomatic team that had been negotiating with the Kelownans had come back to Earth for further instructions and a refined list of trade goods and technology to be offered in exchange for naquadria.  After all, it wasn’t their problem if the Kelownans wanted to flirt with mutually assured destruction.

When the Gate failed to engage to send the diplomats back for the second round of negotiations, there was some disappointment—the naquadria had been very promising—but nothing more.  It was added to the list of addresses to be retried regularly and the diplomatic team got a few extra days of stand-down to finish the paperwork while they waited for their next assignment.


6.      Cameron Mitchell

Cameron Mitchell was never a member of SG-1, either.  He was shot down over Antarctica; he survived the crash but wasn’t found until it was hours too late.  His body disappeared into an NID lab to be autopsied to see if his prolonged contact with various alien devices such as inertial dampeners had any lasting consequences.

They gave his family a sealed casket full of sand to bury and told them it had been a training accident.


7.      Vala Mal Doran

Vala Mal Doran was freed from Qetesh by the Tok’ra and took up life as a thief and con artist.  She never met anyone from Earth, never stopped running from herself, never found a family or friends or a place to belong.  She was eventually killed by a deal gone bad.

Merlin’s cache in Avalon, beneath Glastonbury Tor, was never discovered.  The Ori were never alerted to the presence of humans in the Milky Way Galaxy.


AN ENIGMA GAVE A PARADOX A VERY SPECIAL HUG: reading your workmelayneseahawk on April 20th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
Oh my. This is a fantastic spin on the original story. Thank you!
beatrice_otterbeatrice_otter on April 26th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it! My reaction, whenever I find out who I'm remixing (this is my third remix), is to go through their stories and freak because there's absolutely no way I can remix any of their stories for one reason or another--and then I'll get a really cool idea and it'll come out great despite my initial panic. (If you're wondering, in your case it was that all your stories are either slash or pre-slash, and I don't write slash. At all. But I found an angle that really intrigued me.)
beatrice_otterbeatrice_otter on April 27th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
By the way: one of the reasons it was so important to me to do a good job for you was that you were the remixer assigned to me last year, and I so enjoyed your remix. (I didn't know if you remembered that.)
AN ENIGMA GAVE A PARADOX A VERY SPECIAL HUG: reading your workmelayneseahawk on April 27th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Yes, I'd just realised that! Funny coincidence, yeah?

(Re: the remix I wrote for you last year, I was in a similar situation: I don't do much het, so panicked about that for a bit. And then when I picked the story I liked, I was worried the slash bent my brain added wouldn't be your style.)
beatrice_otterbeatrice_otter on April 27th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't notice any "slash bent" added to the story last year--you did a good job writing outside your comfort zone, and that's not easy.
liz_marcsliz_marcs on April 21st, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
Oooo, nice one. It's a nice twist on the idea that the "our world" is better than someone else's. Sure, they've all got their little disappointments and frustrations, but at the end of the day, they're all better off.

Fantastic twist.
beatrice_otter: Choicesbeatrice_otter on April 26th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
The grass is always greener on the other side of the road. No matter how good you've got it, you always think somebody else has it better.

And they don't all have it better. Sam is kind of ambiguous, to me--I'm not sure if she's marrying Pete and stepping down from an SG team because it's what she truly wants or if it's what she thinks she wants. Jonas, Cam, and Vala are all dead. The NID has more power/influence in this universe, which is dangerous to all of them. Teal'c's people are freer than in our universe, and his wife is still alive ... but at the cost of his son not really thinking/acting like a Jaffa anymore. There are always trade-offs. Over all the universe is a better place ... but that doesn't mean that it's better for everyone, or that it's not without its costs.
Karen T: SG1 - the teampoohmusings on April 24th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
Ooh, nice. Very poignant to read all the different ways this particular AU has been "nicer" (for lack of a better word) to the various characters and yet not. At all. Great job.
beatrice_otter: Honorbeatrice_otter on April 26th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
In our universe, the main conflicts are huge ones with a cast of thousands, battles and ships and (relatively) clear lines drawn between good guys and bad guys. This AU, the battles are quieter and internal and not clearly drawn at all. In some ways, those ambiguities are harder to deal with and fight.
Nicparanoidangel42 on April 24th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
I do like how this starts of seeming like a perfect reality where everyone's happy and then you see that it's not all roses and for some of SG-1 it's much worse.
beatrice_otter: Heart's Desirebeatrice_otter on April 26th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I get suspicious of places that are described as perfect, because you know what "Utopia" literally means? Nowhere. It does not exist in the current world. There are always costs.