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Monday, March 2nd, 2015 10:35 pm
Written for Time Travel Alphabet Soup, and rather unimaginatively titled. In a missing scene from Moebius, Sam argues with Daniel, or maybe with herself. 800 words. Rated PG, with a warning for canonical major character deaths.

M is for Moebius

"Where does the greater arrogance lie?"

Sam paused, fingers stilling, then deliberately continued to smooth out the sand where she'd laboriously scrawled her equations. She'd had this conversation too often lately.

"We can't erase our presence here as easy as that, Sam." The voice was probably gentle enough, but the underlying edge of tension scraped against her nerves.

"No," she agreed, blinking eyes that had been too dry for too long. "It's too late for that. But we can still try to minimize the damage."

"Bit presumptuous, isn't it? Deciding that our set future matters more than the possible futures of millions."

"It's even more presumptuous to decide which millions of lives matter," she said quietly, her gaze fixed downwards. She didn't need to look up to visualize Daniel's knitted brows and stubborn expression. "We don't have the right to choose."

"What's worse, then? Letting everyone suffer for a future we hope is still out there, or trying to twist things to make a better future and running the risk of making it even worse?" Sam thought she felt a shift in the air, visualized Daniel's restless hands sketching aimless patterns. "Maybe the arrogance lies in assuming that what we do really matters in the long run. Maybe time is more resilient that we think."

"And maybe," Sam told the floor, "this is too great a focal point to get blurred over the centuries."

Ra was still here, the revolt crushed. Was their failure only a prelude? Would another uprising take place, a year or a decade or a century from now? Maybe it was arrogance to assume that their presence here mattered so much. Maybe the weight of history would drown out their floundering in the sands of the past.

Or maybe their restless impatience had sent a deadly ripple through time that would destroy the hope of Earth's future as a planet free of Goa'uld oppression.

"We might have destroyed the future." Forcing herself to say it aloud didn't make it hurt any less.

"We might have destroyed a future, Sam. It might not even have been ours. And isn't it arrogance personified to insist it was the optimal one?"

Grains of sand sifted through the tiny grill overhead, drifting through the air and settling on the stone floor.

"We can't trade this Abydos for the one that's lost," Sam told Daniel - told herself, really. She didn't want to think about Abydos or the Tok'ra or the Land of Light or Langara or the Tollan or anyone else. "If we don't know the rules, the best we can do is nothing."

"The Ancients believed in non-intervention, too," the soft voice pressed relentlessly. "I rejected that twice, no matter what it cost me then. Were we wrong to reject it now?"

Sam choked back a laugh. "You'll have to define 'now' for me," she muttered, and barely stopped herself from looking up at him.

Silence returned to the small room, broken only by the soft susurration of breathing.

"We come by our arrogance honestly," Daniel said at last. "We're convinced we understand what we're doing, that we know the risks. But even our precautions might be worse than useless, because we just don't know. I can't trace the physical signs of a history that hasn't happened yet, Sam, and you can't find the math to resolve the paradox of how we might stop a future that includes our traveling to this time. It was probably wrong for us to come here, I know. But if we never believed in ourselves, we'd never have walked through the Stargate in the first place." There was a long pause, then, more gently, "You still don't regret that, Sam, do you?"

Her dry eyes were suddenly burning with unwanted moisture, and Sam swiped them angrily away. "No," she whispered, her voice hoarse and rusty. "I don't."

She didn't.

When long minutes passed and Daniel said nothing further, Sam finally dared to look up from the floor.

Daniel wasn't there.

Of course he wasn't. Her cell was as empty as it always had been for the last six days, since Jack had been killed. Teal'c was long gone, Daniel missing - still alive, she hoped, although there was no way to know.

She swallowed, feeling the scrape of her parched throat, and deliberately bent down over the sandy floor again. Slowly, awkwardly, she began to draw equations on the floor, trying once more to calculate the probability of time and history unspooling themselves to right the mistakes they'd made. She tried not to hope that her mind would conjure Daniel again, one last time.

Six hours later, the Jaffa came to remove the rebel from her prison and take her to the site of execution, where she would be slain for the glory of Ra.


End note: this fills the Hallucinations/Visions square in my bingo card. For obvious reasons, I didn't want to specify that in the author's notes above.