This is my first posted Sliders piece, written for the occasion of Kyrie Daniels' birthday. Kyrie is not only my fellow Tomorrow's Future author, she is also the person who introduced me to Sliders.

Despite this, this story is not on the Tomorrow's Future timeline. I leave Sliders pieces in TF to the professionals. :)

It's Not Home, But...
by Estirose
copyright 1997

I sit down near the display of Lincoln's hat. It isn't much to look at, but at least I have the chance to stay still for a moment. I should be in the line with the rest of the guys, but I don't feel like standing up and being squashed by the line inching along the exhibits.

Besides, if anyone was going to apprehend us, it's hardly going to make a difference whether we are standing in line or not. The crowd isn't thick enough. I guess the cameras weren't pointing the right way when we came out of the storeroom.

That's okay. We've been running for the past three worlds and it would be a good thing if we didn't have to do it this world. I'm exhausted, and I know the guys feel the same way. Of course, them being guys, they're the ones standing up and I'm the one sitting down.

This world seems to be very much like our own. Okay, so I wouldn't know who the president is here, but the currency is dollars and the one dollar bill has Washington on it. The only change I've seen so far is that it's co-sponsored by the Tucker Automobile Corporation.

I suppose that I might want to go back to the guys. They might spot other differences, something critical when you don't want to break the law for something that's perfectly legal back home. It's always the minor things that catch you. We don't have a lot of time on this world, and it's foolish to take chances.

Of course, this could be one of those worlds where we don't have to worry. One that's very close to our own, with a few exceptions. It's good to have a place to relax for once, even if we only have six hours. I don't think we're going to do something stupid like break into that Morris Minor at the beginning of the exhibition. It probably doesn't even run.

I miss the everyday things of my world. I miss my family. I even miss working at Computer Hell for Hurley. Okay, so I don't miss that. But I miss everything else. In that way, these near-worlds are doubly hard, once you know they aren't. They're even hard when you don't know if they're home or not. I bet Quinn will want to check his gate once we get out of here.

For me, I just want to go home, go to bed, and pretend this never happened. That I haven't spent over a year travelling universes, hoping I can reach home. I can wake up, go to school, go to work, not fearing that some psychotic is going to kidnap me or fall in love with me or whatever. Okay, so that can happen in any world, including my own. But these things never happened to me at home. I never knew how reassuring having ID and knowing that I did exist in the system was.

I'm sure the others would too. The Professor would probably like to go back to teaching classes and not worry about post-wormhole collisions anymore. Quinn would like to get home too, I'm sure, if only to fix his machine so that he can still explore whenever he wants and be reassured that he's going to be able to come back home. I'm sure Remmy is missing his family, at the very least. He'll come home with some valuable information on how to restart his career.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to come to a world and I'm not going to want to leave it. One that's like this, close to our own. I wonder if this means that I'm beginning to lose hope of any chance of going home. I don't think I've reached that stage yet, but it's always discouraging.

Still, I've got a right to find a relationship wherever I can. Someday I might find a smart, intelligent guy that's perfect for me on some world that may or may not be like home. Nothing against the guys, I love them very much, I don't think I'm in love with any of them. I think I was in love with Quinn once, but a year of travelling has given me perspective on him, both by being with him for so long, and for seeing so many of his doubles.

That's another thing. I've seen so many cases of what could have gone differently. I look at several of my doubles and wonder what went wrong. I guess it can happen to anyone, but the rest of the universe doesn't have to see these choices firsthand month after month after month.

Does my double exist here? Would she be at this exhibit? If I got up, would I meet her, or someone who knows her? Would I be swept up into her world, or would I be fortunate enough to just be a random encounter, a tale where my double and her boyfriend would joke about her being two places at once? Maybe someone she knows is here, in this crowd, staring at me but deciding that I'm just a look-alike.

One thing that I can safely say is that sliding plays havoc with everyone's social life. Not only with us, the travellers, but with everyone that we touch in the worlds we go to. You can't form a relationship with someone on a world without knowing that you will probably leave them a short while after. Knowing that if you leave them behind, you'll never see them again. Sure, you can meet their doubles in another universe, but it's not them. It's not the person you fell in love with, just as your doubles are not the same as you. Much alike, yes, but not always the same memories.

I want to go home. I really want to go home. I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss everything. I think I'm really starting to lose hope that I will get there someday. I've grown tired of spending a couple of hours or days or months in one location, and then jumping in that wormhole and hoping maybe we'll get home this time around. I want to find a place to call home, whether it's actually the world I originated from or not. I know that I must never give up hope, but it's hard.

A shadow falls over me. I look up, startled, but relax as I realize it's just another visitor. He's kind of cute, even if he's a bottle blond. "Hi," he says.

"Hi," I reply, someone shyly. I smile, hoping I haven't scared him away.

"Hey, is anybody sitting here?" he asks, indicating the seat next to me.

"No, go ahead," I tell him. He sits down gracefully.

"Hi, I'm Frank," he says, smiling.

"Wade," I offer. I look covertly at the guys. They're moving along, slowly as ever. I have time for a casual conversation. A long one.

It's what I need, a normal, casual conversation between strangers that will never see each other again. The only relationship I can have now, really. Still, in times like this, it's the little things that make even the strangest worlds seem like home.