I am often presented with a quandry when faced with a story idea for Stargate SG1. I enjoy writing fanfiction (in all my fandoms) which does not contradict canon, but pushes the limits of extrapolating from reality without coming right out and saying "no, that piece of canon never happened."
No, I'm not talking about anyone dying. I'm talking about a thing called fraternising, and the regulations against it. Additionally, there is the problem of "this is the military and despite anyone's pretensions about homosexuality, we don't like it and don't want it."
I love the idea of Jack and Daniel being in the same room together. They can be doing anything - talking, not talking, being naked, not being naked. Slash, gen, I don't care. They're adorable and I want as much of them as I can get. So when I see an episode that says to me "there is a missing scene from this episode wherein Jack and Daniel are naked in bed talking about the ramifications of recent events" I want to write it down and share.
Then realism rears its ugly head and I stop. If Stargate is set in this (our) reality, then I honestly do not see the two of them being together as a couple. Friends, brothers, yes. Lovers? No. Even if they were both interested, I don't see it being possible given Jack's background as a career military officer. I certainly don't see other members of the SGC being happy for them, or willing to pretend they don't know. The way the current US military culture is, as soon as they had sex then several things would occur which would, essentially, destroy SG-1 as a team (if not Jack's entire career).
But I really like the way they interact. I think Jack and Daniel really are great friends and get along well and, for my own personal interest, it is very, very appealing to get them naked together. My own inner culture doesn't agree with US military culture, and if I were designing the world I wouldn't have taboos and restrictions about men sleeping with me, and people serving together but not allowed to sleep together. When I write fanfiction, there isn't anything stopping me from re-painting the world to be that way. Except for one thing.
Stargate, the show, is not set in "alternate reality 12a." It is set in our reality. It is presented such that we can pretend to believe this is really happening (at least as far as the early seasons go. One can argue that by season 8 things are occuring which make it less likely the general public would not notice something odd was going on.) So any type of social reconstruction violates my basic desire to not so blatantly contradict canon*.
Now, Stargate offers an easy out. The Mirror gizmo which allows travel between alternate realities gives us a simple method of saying "but this is a world only similiar, but not exactly like the one we're seeing. In this world, gays in the military is OK." All well and good, but this needs to be communicated to the reader. One way is to simply say so in the header. The other is to build it into the story and show that this is a slightly different world.
Buidling it into the story turns the story into a much longer beast than a missing scene story might require. And telling the readers in the header might be a cop-out. The reason is that setting a story in a "slightly different world" is pulling the fanfic away from the world of *Stargate*, not just from our own. Any story which is not exactly like what we see on the show, requires some sort of story-telling to explain what the difference is.
Saying that "there is no fraternisation rule in the military and homosexuality is acceptable" does more than just allow Jack to marry Daniel. It redraws the entire society in which they live. Even if it doesn't occur directly in the story, there are questions which need to be answered so that I, as a writer, can know whether or not the consequences affect the events in the story. Does this acceptance of homosexuality mean that Daniel never dated Sarah? That he refused his marriage to Sha're? Why did Jack get married and have a son - is he bi? Sworn off girls after the divorce? Are there several married couples at SGC? Are Sam and Janet married, too?
For a short piece of fanfic, it may seem unnecessarily complicated to deal with all these variables. But for myself, a good story is one in which the world in which the story happens is real. it might not be *this* world, but it is a (potentially) real world. People behave as though we were looking into an alternate dimension and seeing real people doing these things. Elements of their world may be different from ours, but everything that happens makes some sort of sense, or at least can be traced back to its causes. If Jack and Daniel get married in the Gateroom, there has to be some sort of reason why this is acceptable and not against regulations and not career-suicide and not a threesome wedding with Teal'c.
If the characters live in a world where gays get killed, beaten up, and booted out of the military, then positing that gays at the SGC can live openly and freely requires some kind of explanation. I don't really care what the explanation is -- the elite selection process weeds out close-minded bigots, or the members of SG1 are so valuable that they get away with anything, or they only really have sex on other planets and no one knows they really *are* having sex. But it has to be there, somewhere. There has to be some reason why what's happening in the story could be real.
Otherwise I feel like I'm asking the readers to close one eye and not look at the big pink elephant in the living room. Some readers may be perfectly willing to do so. Others may not. But as a writer, I feel as though I've failed the story somehow if I don't get that elephant outside (and repainted) where it belongs.
*This does not necessarily include my AU stories, where I turn people into centaurs. But even then, I like to stay as close to not contradicting canon as I can. Admitedly, I cheat sometimes and set a story in an early season before they demonstrate without a doubt that Daniel is NOT a centaur. Ahem.