Samantha Carter wasn't at all sure that she was getting her point across to the General. He just stared at her with a slight frown after she had told him her theory on what could have caused the probe to pick up a shadow on an obviously dead world.

"Are you suggesting, Major, that a being of the same caliber as that... alien you once encountered came back through the stargate with the probe?" he asked.

"Well, theoretically, sir, it is possible," she said. "I mean, we saw a shadow on the monitor, but there is no life whatsoever on P4X421 and that is, by far, the best explanation I can give you."

"It couldn't have been a cloud passing overhead?" Hammond wanted to know. "Or a ship for that matter?"

Sam just stared at him for a moment, completely taken aback. She had been so concerned about solving this problem with her mind still on Daniel that she had grasped for all the farfetched explanations and overlooked the obvious. "Uh..." she tried, but was unable to continue.

"That would sound like a reasonable assumption, General Hammond," Teal'c inserted.

"Thank you, Teal'c. Major, I suspect that your thoughts are elsewhere at the moment, am I correct?" Hammond asked, giving Sam a somewhat stern look.

With a deep sigh, Sam settled back on her chair. "Yes, sir," she confessed.

"Care to explain?" Hammond asked on.

"Well, sir, I..." She didn't know exactly how to explain to him that her thoughts had been very preoccupied with Daniel lately. Not that it didn't make sense. It was almost a year since he had died and anniversaries for that sort of thing usually distracted her. "It's almost a year since..." she tried again, but couldn't go on.

"What I believe Major Carter is attempting to say is that it is almost a full year since Daniel Jackson left us. It is on all our minds," Teal'c explained for her.

"I thought so," Hammond said with a nod. "And I understand. I just wish you had told me, Major. I could have sent another team."

"Yes, sir," Sam replied, unable to argue that point with the General. She had messed up. If this had been a rescue mission or something a little more severe than checking out a shadow on a monitor, she didn't know what could have happened.

Hammond nodded once. "SG-1 is hereby on leave until further notice. Go do whatever you need to do to remember and honor the memory of Dr. Jackson and report back to duty when you're ready."

With a slight nod, Sam rose from her chair at the same time as Teal'c did. "Thank you, sir," she said, saluted him and left the room.

Hammond rose too, watching her go. "Will she be all right?" he asked Teal'c, who had remained behind.

"I believe so, General Hammond," Teal'c said with confidence. "It is a difficult time for all of us. We will take the appropriate time to remember Daniel Jackson," he added, nodded once at the General and left too.

***

Hammond returned to his office with a certain sense of despair. Losing Jackson had been a hard blow to the team, but he had never really considered how hard a blow it had been. Carter seemed to be the one most affected. The only one on the team who had shown very little public response to Jackson's demise had been O'Neill. Not that the General really considered that odd. O'Neill was known for his tough exterior. Heaven only knew what was going on behind that shell of his.

Before he could decide on another course of action, his phone rang. With a sigh, he picked it up. "Hammond here."

"Sir, this is O'Neill. We've got a bit of problem here!"

The connection was bad and it very much sounded like O'Neill was driving rather fast. "O'Neill, what is going on?" he demanded.

"I sort of ticked off some feds, sir, and they're kinda trying to..." He was interrupted by what sounded like a gunshot and Hammond heard O'Neill cursing loudly. "Sir, I'll have to get back to you," he added and the connection broke again.

Hammond pulled the receiver away from his ear and stared at it with a frown. What the hell had O'Neill done now? He just couldn't send that man anywhere without him getting into trouble. "I should have sent Carter with him," he grumbled and hung up again, still wondering what that had all been about.

***

Daniel glanced out the rear window and ducked when another salvo of bullets took out the remainder of the glass and tore out a big chunk of the upper left corner of his seat. "Jack, don't you think we should..." he tried, but Jack once again interrupted him.

"Not now, Daniel. I'm trying to get us out of this one alive," he hissed through clenched teeth and tore the wheel around, ripping the jeep onto the freeway, where he floored the gas pedal again and wove in and out of traffic. Another salvo of bullets hailed down on the car. "Bastards. This car is brand new," Jack snarled.

"... get out of the way," Daniel finished his sentence to himself and flinched when more bullets hit the back and sides of the car. "These guys are really persistent, aren't they?" he added.

"Ya think?" Jack retorted. "Talk about jeopardizing the public. I'm gonna launch an official complaint about the FBI when we're back home," he added.

Fortunately, traffic was rather light on the freeway and soon the jeep's superior engine power allowed them to put a whole lot of distance between themselves and their pursuers. Jack was worried, but not overly so. The fact that these guys were so insistent on getting Daniel back was more than proof enough that they thought he was who he claimed to be. And that was good enough for Jack.

To make it more confusing for anybody still on their tail, Jack changed their direction three times before he once again brought them onto a rather straight line toward home, the Cheyenne Mountain.

He was quite aware that Maybourne wouldn't give up so easily, so he remained weary of any pursuers even as he did slow their speed down a little. "I think we have to ditch the car and find another way of getting home," he said after a while.

"And... what way would that be?" Daniel asked, looking a little surprised at that suggestion.

"I suppose we could always 'borrow' another car," Jack replied. "I mean, the jeep stands out like a sore thumb right now, don't you think?"

Daniel made a face. "Steal a car? I don't know, Jack. I just returned and already you want me to steal a car?"

Jack almost jerked and glanced over at Daniel. To him it felt as if the last year hadn't happened right now. They had simply picked up where they had left off. Except of course for the fact that the FBI hadn't been hot on getting their hands on Daniel before. "I don't want 'you' to steal the car, Danny. I'm just venting ideas here."

Once again, Daniel glanced out the back. "Maybe we should... uh... forget about that for now?" he asked, nodding toward the rear of the car. "I think we're still being followed."

As if to confirm his words, another salvo of bullets bombarded the rear end of the car. "God dammit," Jack hissed and floored it again. The jeep roared forward, picking up speed fast.

Daniel watched the other car pick up speed as well and cowered down on his seat. "Jack... uh... I think we better..." he started, but before he could finish, another hail of bullets hit the car. Jack let out a grunt and jerked forward at the same time.

"Shit!" he snapped. Not usually one to go all out on the harsh language, Jack fought the wheel for a moment, trying to straighten out their course. "Shit, shit, shit," he hissed under his breath, valiantly trying to ignore the explosion of pain in his right shoulder. He quickly realized though that if he had to keep on driving, they wouldn't be going anywhere fast. "Daniel, you're gonna have to drive."

"Are you kidding me?" Daniel exploded, his expression relaying his discomfort at the whole situation.

"You wanna live?" Jack snarled, sending him an angry glare. Daniel merely nodded. "Then you drive," Jack added, finding it hard to focus on telling Daniel what to do while he felt faint from the pain of the shot wound.

"I severely doubt they'll call off the chase while we pull over and change seats," Daniel said, glancing at the advancing car behind them.

"We're not going to pull over," Jack said, wondering if Daniel had ever seen any of those movies where the pursued changed seats while driving. He hadn't seen all that many of them himself, but he knew it could be done. He had actually done it in real life, many years ago, but it had been during a training exercise and nobody had been hurt at the time. He had no idea if he would be able to move, let alone climb over into the other seat without passing out. But they had to do it or they would get caught.

"Are you nuts?" Daniel virtually yelled at him. "We can't..."

"Shut up and do it, Daniel. I don't wanna die just yet, okay? And I think you've been dead more than your share already," Jack snarled. "Get a move on. I can't drive for much longer."

Uncertainty shining in his eyes, Daniel unbuckled himself and slid over toward Jack. "Are you sure about this?"

"Yes," Jack insisted.

Somehow, they managed it without driving the jeep into a ditch or getting killed in some other heinous way. The car didn't lose any of its momentum, nor did Jack pass out, and Daniel displayed a hitherto unknown ability to drive like a maniac.

They drove around for hours, trying to shake their tail, and eventually they somehow managed to do just that without being aware of it until later.

It had gotten dark in-between and Jack once again sent a glance backward to see nothing but empty road behind them. "I think you lost them," he said, the fingers of his left hand wrapped tightly around his thudding shoulder. He was losing blood and knew he needed to see a doctor soon, but he would be damned if he would let Maybourne and his boys recapture Daniel. "That was some pretty fancy driving you did there, Danny. I didn't know you could drive like that," he added and glanced over at Daniel, who was virtually hugging the wheel, eyes narrowed, while he stared out at the road ahead of them. He didn't see too good without his glasses.

"Didn't know I could do that either," Daniel confessed. "I guess I feel the same way as you about dying right now," he added and gave Jack a sideways glance. "How's the shoulder?"

"Oh, it's just fine. I may need a transfusion when we get to the mountain, but apart from that, everything's just dandy," Jack replied and made a face when he shifted and thereby disturbed his shoulder. "Why is it that every time I get close to you, I get hurt?" he wanted to know with a crooked grin. "And where the hell have you been for the past year? We all thought you were dead, Danny."

Squinting even more than before, Daniel leaned closer to the windshield. "Well... I kinda was," he replied after a moment. "And then maybe not. I guess I was kinda... I don't know... dead but not dead."

"Well, that makes a whole lot of sense," Jack said with a sarcastic tone to his voice. "Not that I should find that at all surprising, of course. I've never understood half of what you say anyway. Which kinda proves to me that you're the real thing."

Daniel made a little tilt with his head, a sort of half-shrug, while keeping his eyes on the road. "Of course I'm the real thing," he said.

"I believe you, Daniel. But I'm not so sure anybody else will. How the hell are we going to explain this to General Hammond. Or Sam, for that matter? She's been pretty upset about you dying on us... again. We all thought it was for good this time. And here you are, alive, apparently well."

"Well, it's a long story, Jack, and I'm not sure I can explain it in a way that makes sense... even to Sam," Daniel said and again glanced over at him. "We should get you to a doctor or something," he added.

"Janet will do. And we're not that far from the mountain anyway. There is no other way to go. It's the mountain or back to Maybourne," Jack replied and briefly closed his eyes. "So, you came through a Russian stargate, huh?" he asked after a moment.

Daniel frowned and glanced over at him. "No, I didn't. I came in through the stargate in the SGC almost eleven days ago," he argued. "I was just... kinda invisible at the time."

Jack arched an eyebrow at him in sheer surprise. "Invisible?" he asked. "Sort of like that alien that had a crush on Sam some time ago? That kind of invisible?"

"Yeah," Daniel agreed with a small smile. "That kind of invisible."

"So, how come you didn't stay in the mountain and materialized there?" Jack asked. "Or whatever it is you did?"

That again made Daniel frown. "I don't know, really. I was kinda... distracted there for awhile. It's a strange state to be in, really. I mean, you're totally aware and all, but... things aren't the same. I kinda missed the feel of the ground beneath my feet and... and the wind. It's kinda hard to feel the wind when it goes right through you."

"Sounds nice," Jack muttered. "So... Daniel... why'd you come back? You were sort of given a chance to be something more there. I kinda figured you'd stay out there with the rest of them glow worms."

For a long moment, Daniel drove in silence, but then he glanced over at Jack and shrugged, a look of embarrassment on his face. "I wasn't ready," he finally said.

"Ready?" Jack asked. "For what?"

"Being among them. It takes a lot of... control, of patience. And I didn't have enough of either. So, they kinda suggested that I should... you know... go home, think things over," Daniel explained.

That caused Jack to arch and eyebrow again. "They kicked you out?" he asked, clarifying what he thought Daniel was saying.

Daniel shrugged lightly. "I guess... you could call it that, yeah," he agreed somewhat reluctantly. "But I agree with them. I wasn't ready, aren't ready. I shouldn't have gone in the first place. It was just so tempting."

"I guess," Jack said, not really agreeing. He had always been in favor of the hands-on approach and it was kind of hard to touch anything when you were incorporeal. "And, there was the added incentive of the pain you were in and all that."

"Yeah, I guess that didn't exactly sway me in the right direction," Daniel confessed and finally pulled the jeep onto the road leading up to the mountain. "Almost there," he added.

"You know, there's on thing I don't get in all this," Jack said, feeling a little too tired all of a sudden. "What the hell were you doing in Washington? And how the hell did Maybourne get his hands on you?"

Daniel remained almost morosely silent for the remainder of the trip and didn't even glance at Jack until they reached the entrance to the mountain.

***

Sam had been given the order to take time off and she had planned on leaving, but somehow she hadn't managed to get out of the SGC. Instead, she had once again found her way back to Daniel's old office, now used for storage space, and had settled down with a box of his belongings she wouldn't let anyone touch.

With a sad little smile, she picked up his glasses and sighed deeply. "Guess I'm grasping at straws here, huh?" she whispered and glanced around, hoping somehow to get that feeling that he was around again. But there was nothing. The room was empty, devoid of his presences, and it made her feel sad. Daniel was truly gone. Even though Teal'c kept insisting that Daniel was better off wherever he had chosen to go, she still couldn't shake the feeling that he had died way too early.

Some kind of commotion out in the main corridor made her briefly glance up from her box. She wasn't interested in what was going on out there, though, and returned her attention to the contents. Carefully, she replaced the glasses and looked through the rest of the items, meticulously memorizing all of them for the hundredth time.

***

Dr. Janet Fraiser was used to the SG-teams coming back in more or less ruffled condition and Jack O'Neill had seen his share of injuries over the years she had known him. But it had always been because of some alien aggressor. Now he was virtually being dragged into the infirmary by two men, a bullet hole in one shoulder.

One cursory examination told her what she had feared the second she had realized he had been shot. The bullet was still lodged in his shoulder and he had lost a lot of blood.

"Get me a saline drip," she snapped at one of the nurses. "Colonel, I'm going to give you something for the pain and then we'll have to see if we can't get that bullet out of you without too much hassle, all right?" she added and he merely nodded with a disgruntled expression, alas a very pale one. Studying his complexion, she shook her head. "You also need a transfusion," she went on. "You've lost too much blood. When did this happen?"

"Uh... this morning... kinda," someone answered for him.

Being totally in healing-mode, Janet was completely ignorant to the fact that Daniel Jackson had just replied on behalf of Jack O'Neill. It didn't even for a second register with her that she was talking to a dead man. "Thank you," she said instead without even looking at him and went about her business with her usual tenacity.

First she had to assess the damage done by the bullet and that was definitely not one of Jack's favorite events. When she moved his arm to see how mobile it still was, he let out a yelp and looked about ready to punch her in the face for that. Despite the obvious threat of violence, Janet smiled. That was a good sign. It meant he wasn't as badly injured as she had feared he might be.

"All right, let's get that bullet out right now," she said and set to work with her staff.

Within half an hour the bullet was removed, the wound cleaned and stitched up, and the good Colonel was in bed with a saline drip in one arm and a transfusion in the other. He was also out cold for the time being.

With a shake of the head, she once again checked his signs and, satisfied that everything was going to be okay with him, she dropped her guard and allowed herself to relax a little. At that moment, a strange thought entered her mind. With a slight frown, she turned her attention toward the doorway and stopped short.

She had long ago believe that nothing could shock her any more, especially not after she had started working for the SGC. She had seen the men and women from the various teams pull back from the brink of death, impossible feats in most counts, but she had rarely seen anyone brought back from the dead. Especially not a year after they had died. And therefore what she was looking at was totally impossible in her opinion. Her mind immediately started to throw up barricades to prevent her from acknowledging that she was staring openmouthed at Daniel Jackson.

He gave her one of those quirky little smiles of his as he stood there leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. "Hi Janet," he said.

Somehow, hearing him say her name was too much for her. Janet was not squeamish, never had been, but this was beyond her reality, beyond what she could comprehend and she simply passed out from sheer surprise.

Daniel rushed over to her and scooped her up to place her on an empty bed. "Gee," he muttered. "If I'd known I would cause so much trouble by coming back, I might not have bothered."

***

General Hammond stared at Jack O'Neill with nothing short of annoyance. The whole base was in an uproar because Maybourne's people had turned up unannounced and started searching for someone. They had been unwilling to say who and Hammond was totally ticked off about the whole thing. One thing he knew was that Jack O'Neill had to be involved in this somehow.

After hearing about Jack's return and some oddly befuddled explanations of how he had managed to drive all the way from Washington with a bullet in his shoulder, Hammond had decided to talk to the man himself. The good doctor had suddenly taken ill, according to one of the nurses, so he was confined to talking to Jack alone.

Jack, who was still pale enough to rival the whiteness of his pillow, was at least sitting up and awake when Hammond stepped inside. "What, if I may ask, has happened now?" he demanded.

"Well, sir, that's an interesting little story, that," Jack replied, his usual cocky self despite his injury. "You see, sending me to Washington was one of your brighter ideas, sir," he added.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean, Colonel? I sent you to Washington to gather information about what Maybourne might have 'procured' from this facility. I did not ask you to 'steal' it back," Hammond said, his tone dark.

Jack shrugged lightly with his left shoulder. "Well, sir, I couldn't really leave... 'it' there," he replied.

"What was it then? What was so damned important about it that you got yourself shot over it?" Hammond asked. He sure as hell would never learn to understand this man fully.

Jack stared at him for a moment and then shifted his gaze to a point past him. "Well," he said and made a face.

Hammond frowned, figuring that whatever it was O'Neill had retrieved that it was in the infirmary with them. Turning his head to follow O'Neill's line of sight, he froze when his gaze settled on the man standing just inside the door, leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.

Daniel smiled a little and raised a hand in greeting. "General," he said. His smile was replaced by a somewhat worried expression. "You're not gonna faint, are you?"

Hammond turned around to fully face him, for the longest of moments incapable of coming up with an appropriate response. He didn't know what he had expected, but this wasn't it. "Dr. Jackson?" he asked, his voice full of disbelief.

"Well... yeah," Daniel replied with a brief tilt of the head. "Who'd you think I was?"

Hammond was very rarely speechless. It had happened once or twice when O'Neill had pulled an extra stupid stunt, but in general, he was prepared for the worst. But this was not one of these times. To say he was flabbergasted was an understatement. It took him a full minute to regain some margin of composure and all he could come up with by then was a very obvious and quite stupid statement in his own opinion. "Aren't you supposed to be dead?"

"Well... yeah," Daniel replied somewhat hesitantly. "But... you see..."

The only plausible explanation for this that Hammond could come up with, and it made fairly little sense even so, was that O'Neill had pulled the same stunt on him once more, claiming that Daniel was dead when he really wasn't. "Is this what I think it is?" he demanded, cutting Daniel off in mid-sentence as he turned back to face O'Neill, who looked a lot like he'd just had an epiphany.

"Yeah," he agreed and grinned sheepishly. "Kinda."

Turning back to face the presumably deceased Dr. Jackson, Hammond's eyes narrowed. "Are you telling me that the Colonel once again told me that you were dead when, in fact, you were not?"

Daniel frowned, a look of surprise on his face. "Well... uh... no," he said. "I... well, I guess I was kinda dead... but then again... not really. You know?"

"No, I do not know. Would you care to explain yourself so I can actually understand what you are saying?" Hammond demanded, but changed his mind about that almost at once. He knew that what he was about to hear would make no sense at all. "Never mind that now," he added and turned back to face O'Neill. "Are you well enough to attend a debriefing in one hour?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," O'Neil replied. He was still pale as a ghost, but Hammond was certain that if the man couldn't handle it, he would say so.

"Good. Then I want to see you all in one hour. That includes you, Dr. Jackson," Hammond said sternly and walked out on them to head back to his office. What ever the hell was going on here, he was going to get to the bottom of this. And if he found out that O'Neill had once again covered for Jackson, he would raise some hell about it.

***

Samantha didn't exactly know how to handle the information she had received about what was going on. Some said Jack had been shot, although nobody really seemed to know how or why. Others said that Janet had passed out in the infirmary without any plausible explanation. It all sounded a little weird to her, so instead of heading home as she had been told to hours ago, she went straight to the infirmary and was appalled to find out that the rumors had been right. Jack was about to get out of bed, but his right arm was in a sling and he looked like death warmed over.

"Colonel," she exclaimed and rushed inside. "What happened?"

Jack gave her a look and hissed when the nurse helping him into his shirt got a little too eager. "Ouch," he snapped. "Bullet wound here. Could you take a little easy, please?"

"Sorry, sir," the nurse apologized.

Turning his attention to Sam, Jack smiled crookedly. "Maybourne's people weren't too happy about me nosing around," he confessed.

"So they shot you?" Sam asked, totally taken aback. "Isn't that a little extreme?"

"Not really, no. I found what they had... uh... 'snatched' from us, in want of a better word, so I... 'snatched' it back," he said and turned a little.

A little confused by his wording, Sam just stared at him. "It must have been pretty important for them to take it in the first place," she said. "So, what was it?"

Jack nodded toward the door.

"You want us to take it outside?" she asked, somewhat surprised.

"No, turn around, Major," Jack said.

There was something about this whole deal that made Samantha very apprehensive about turning around. She knew she was in for a shock. She just didn't know how big a shock it was until she turned around and found Daniel Jackson standing there, a small smile on his lips. For the longest of moments, Sam had no idea how to respond. Seeing him was a dream come true, but it also felt totally impossible. Sure, he had been declared dead before, several times as it were. They had all mourned his passing, had even had a wake for him, but he had always come back. But he had never been so totally gone as he had this time around. The memory of his demise still hung heavy on her mind, of how terrible he had looked in the end with all the bandages covering his face and how he had given up and become something else. Jack had tried to explain that event to her, of how he had communicated with Daniel, who had asked Jacob to not heal him, he didn't want to stay.

All those feelings welled up in her when she laid eyes on him again and, to her own surprise, the most prominent feeling among them was anger. She was angry with him for giving up, for letting go, for leaving them all behind. "Daniel?" she asked to confirm that her eyes weren't betraying her.

"Hi Sam," he said and raised a hand in greeting.

Sam couldn't handle this right now. Mere moments ago, she had still mourned him, had missed him dearly and wished desperately that he would be back. And now that he was, all she could feel was total confusion and anger. With the ability to speak temporarily suspended, she glanced back at Jack, who gave her a I-don't-know-how-to-handle-this-either-look and shrugged lightly with his left shoulder.

"Look, Sam, I realize this must be... well... a surprise... but..."

Hearing him talk was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Without further ado, Sam rushed from the infirmary, unwilling to accept what she had just seen. She needed time to digest this, to realize that what she had seen was real.

***