Daniel didn't know whether to try and stop Sam or what, but Jack took that decision away from him.

"Let her go. She needs time to understand this," Jack said and gingerly rose to his feet. "Let's go talk to Hammond," he added.

"You know, Jack, I'm beginning to think that me coming back here wasn't such a hot idea. I kinda figured you guys had... well... sort of missed me, but..."

"We have, Daniel," Jack interrupted him. "That doesn't mean that we can just put aside a year of mourning without such much as the bat of an eyelash. Sam missed you a lot. No matter what we were talking about, she would always revert back to talking about you. Give her some time. She'll come around."

Daniel eyed his friend for a moment, uncertain about how to interpret all of this. "But... with you I feel like we've picked up where we left off."

Jack carefully pulled his jacket over his right shoulder and made a face. "That's because I was the only one who had a 'close encounter' with you right before you died, Danny. Don't you get it? To Teal'c and Sam and Hammond and everybody, you were dead, gone, history, no return, no second chances."

With a slight frown, Daniel had to admit that he hadn't thought about that. "Well... I guess," he agreed and turned for the door only to be met by the broad chest of Teal'c.

The Jaffa eyed Daniel with his usual calm, not a twitch, not a blink. "Daniel Jackson," he said.

Daniel realized instantly that you had to know Teal'c very well to detect the underlying tone of surprise. "Uh... hi, Teal'c," he said somewhat hesitantly. "You're not gonna hit me or something, are you?"

That caused Teal'c to arch an eyebrow. "It is customary to hit those that return from the dead?" he asked.

Daniel was somewhat confused by that statement until he heard Jack snort with laughter behind him. Glancing back at him, he frowned. "What?" he asked.

Jack grinned broadly. "Ah, he just cracks me up," he replied and stepped up beside Daniel. "Teal'c, it seems that Daniel has decided to return to us. How's that for a surprise?"

"I am indeed surprised, O'Neill," Teal'c agreed, then turned his attention back to Daniel. "It is good to have you back, Daniel Jackson," he added and grabbed Daniel's hand in a hearty handshake.

"Well, I'm glad you two at least seem marginally happy to see me," Daniel replied with a slight grin. "And it's good to be back... however much 'back' I am, considering that I've been gone for a year and..."

"Enough talk, Danny. Hammond is gonna throw a fit if we don't turn up soon. Let's go talk to the man and make him understand that you are back," Jack interrupted again. "Let's go, campers."

***

Hammond looked from O'Neill to Teal'c to Carter and then once again stopped short at seeing Jackson sitting there as if nothing had changed. He had gotten used to seeing other men, other aliens, just others, sitting in the chair that Jackson now occupied and it was a bit eerie to see him sitting there again. O'Neill looked uncomfortable, but Hammond was certain that was due to his wound. Teal'c didn't look any different than he usually did. The only one in the group giving off a distinct signal of being confused and uncomfortable was Carter. She didn't even glance in Daniel's direction, just sat there with a stern look on her face.

Once again, Hammond turned his attention to Daniel Jackson. "Would you care to explain this to us... to me?" he asked. "Because, I'm not entirely certain I understand what is going on here. You died... or whatever you want to call it... and you've been gone for a full year. How is it possible that you are now back among us?"

Jackson fiddled with the edge of the table and made a face. "Well, you see, sir, it's kind of hard to explain," he said after a moment. "I'm not entirely certain myself, you see. Memories are... different when you are... incorporeal, as it were."

"Incorporeal?" Hammond asked with a frown. This place would never make sense to him, nor would these four sitting around this table with him. He respected and liked all four of them, but he was getting a little tired of being faced with situations he couldn't understand all the time. "I knew I should have retired six years ago," he muttered under his breath and shook his head a little. "I am not so much interested in the how right now as I am in the why, Dr. Jackson. You have been declared dead before, granted, but this... we saw you... leave. You told the Colonel that we should let you go. And we did. Yet here you are, one year later, seemingly unchanged... and very much alive. Would you please enlighten me as to how that is possible?"

"They can take human form if they want to," Carter inserted, her tone of voice detached. She didn't look at any of them, just stared ahead of herself.

"I beg your pardon?" Hammond asked, turning his attention to the shell-shocked Major.

Carter glanced at him. "These... beings that he joined. They can take human form if they want to. Once they do, they're stuck in human form until their physical body dies," she explained.

"Yeah, that's.... that's exactly right," Jackson agreed. "But... there was more to it than that..." he tried, but Hammond stopped him by raising a hand, his eyes still on Carter.

"How do you know that?" he inquired.

"Remember that alien that followed her home once?" O'Neill inserted. "The invisible one that built a stargate in her basement?"

Hammond nodded. "Oh, yes, that one," he agreed. "Are you suggesting that Dr. Jackson joined these beings and became like them?"

"It's a theory, sir," Carter replied, still without even as much as glancing in Daniel's direction.

"And... a good one, too," Jackson said, leaning forward a little. "Because it's true."

"How can that be true, Dr. Jackson? I assumed that these... beings were of another race," Hammond said, still not entirely sure he knew what was going on.

"Well... not exactly. Or rather, yes, but... any race can join them. It's... uh... like ascending to a higher plane of consciousness. In... uh... a manner of speaking," Jackson tried to explain.

Hammond eyed him for a moment, then sighed and leaned back on his chair. "I suggest that the lot of you take some time off. A week sounds about right. Go do whatever you need to do, get yourself reestablished in this... uh... physical realm, Dr. Jackson, and please try to come up with a way to tell me what really happened that makes just a little bit of sense to me, all right?" A thought popped into his head at that and he once again looked directly at Jackson. "There's one thing I would like to have an answer for right now, though," he added. "What the devil were you doing in the J. Edgar Hoover building in the first place? How did Maybourne get his hands on you?"

To everybody's surprise, Jackson blushed all the way to his hair roots and ducked his head a little. Obviously, the question of how he had ended up in Washington was either embarrassing or painful. Either way, Hammond wanted a reply.

"Dr. Jackson?" he asked.

"He wouldn't tell me either, sir," O'Neill inserted and turned his attention to the decidedly beet-colored younger man. "I'd like to know that, too."

Pressured into to telling them, Jackson stared intently at the tabletop for a moment. "I... have never... seen the Hoover building from the inside," he finally said quietly.

Carter finally glanced in his direction. "So, you figured it would be a good idea to go in there while you were invisible?" she asked, disbelief thick in her voice.

Jackson shrugged lightly. "Well... yeah."

"Oh, this is rich," O'Neill said. "Let me guess. You materialized while you were in there?"

Jackson nodded without a word and cleared his throat.

Despite the pain his injury had to cause him, O'Neill started laughing. Even Hammond felt compelled to do that, although he didn't. "You have got to be kidding me," O'Neill sputtered. "I suppose your clothes didn't materialize with you, huh?"

Hammond felt the need to stop this mockery before it got totally out of hand. "I think we get the picture, Colonel," he said a little sternly.

"I'm sorry, sir," O'Neill managed and sniffed, "but, damn, Danny. You're timing has always been way off. Glad to see that hasn't changed." Leaning forward a little, he eyed Jackson with a grin. "I would have given my right arm to see that," he added.

"I bet you would," Jackson grumbled, deeply embarrassed.

"That's enough," Hammond said sternly and gave O'Neill a withering look, which somehow always did the trick. Satisfied that the good Colonel wouldn't embarrass Jackson any further for now, Hammond once again turned his attention to the blushing younger man. "So, I take it you were captured there, then?"

Jackson nodded. "It was... kind of inevitable," he replied, a look of discomfort on his face. But then something seemed to occur to him because he frowned and looked directly at Hammond. "How... did you know where to find me?"

Hammond had been expecting that question and had already started to think it wouldn't come. "Well, I was informed..." he began, but O'Neill broke in.

"... by an unnamed source," he said, arching an eyebrow.

Hammond gave him another glare. "O'Neill," he warned and the Colonel raised both hands in a deprecating gesture and leaned back on his chair. "I was informed that Maybourne was in possession of something belonging to the SGC. I just had no idea that this source meant you."

Jackson glanced from one to the other and then returned his attention to Hammond. "I never saw... Maybourne," he confessed, "but I did figure that he had to be behind it. Why else would the Federal Bureau detain me and not tell anyone where I was?"

"Because you were... dead?" O'Neill asked.

"Well, I'm not, am I?" Jackson asked back.

"But you were," O'Neill argued.

"I was not," Jackson shot back.

"Yeah, you were," O'Neill returned.

"Would you two stop it?" Hammond insisted.

"I wasn't," Jackson said.

Hammond rolled his eyes. Nothing had changed. Not even the fact that Daniel Jackson had obviously been dead for a year could change these two and their attitude towards each other.

"Were too," O'Neill said quietly.

Hammond noticed how Carter was watching this little exchange with nothing short of confusion and wondered what was going through her head. She didn't seem exactly happy to have Jackson back among them.

"No, Jack, I wasn't. Not in the classic sense," Jackson argued.

"Classic sense? Who's talking about 'the classic sense' here? You were dying of radiation poisoning, Jacob was trying to heal you, you told him to stop, you died. You've been dead for a year. If that's not dead, I don't know what is," O'Neill countered and Hammond could clearly hear that the fun had gone out of this little exchange.

"All right, enough. We all know what happened, Colonel. It was painful for us to watch and I am certain it must have been very painful for Dr. Jackson to go through. I cannot claim that I blame him for choosing this way out," Hammond stopped them before they could get into more than a verbal argument. "As it were, Dr. Jackson, we are all happy that you have returned, but your sudden appearance causes some legal issues we have to deal with first and foremost. I cannot imagine that Maybourne is going to give up so easily, which puts me in a very awkward position, to say the least. Currently, you are considered to be dead, which generally means that you are not a part of the SGC and therefore not under our protection. Maybourne is in his good right to demand that we hand you over. Therefore, we have to act quickly."

"In... what sense... General?" Jackson asked, a little confused.

"In the sense that if we open up your personnel files at once, thereby effectively reinstating you into the SGC, Maybourne can't lay a hand on you. If we, however, receive an order to turn you over to him before the file is reactivated, we have a problem that I quite frankly cannot think of how to circumvent," Hammond explained and then turned his attention to Carter. "Major, would you do the honors?"

Carter gave him a startled look. "Me, sir? I don't have access to the personnel files," she instantly said.

"Maybe not, Major, but I'm sure you can find a way around it," Hammond replied with a vague smile. "The sooner the better."

With a slight sigh and a nervous glance toward O'Neill, who shrugged lightly and made a face when the movement obviously hurt his shoulder, Carter rose and stepped up to the computer to work her magic. Hammond had never understood how she could get around those security measures in the computers, but never the less, she always seemed to manage to get the information she was after. He had long since realized that it would be a very bad idea to tick this lady off.

It took her in all five minutes to reactivate Jackson's personnel files and he was thereby immediately covered by the SGC. And she finished not a moment too soon. Mere seconds after she let off the keyboard and turned around, the door to the meeting room flew open and Maybourne, accompanied by three heavily armed marines, stepped into the room.

"Good evening," he said with a smile, then nodded to the marines. "There's our boy. Take him into custody."

The second Maybourne had turned up, Jackson had scooted out of his chair and withdrawn to the rear of the room. And before anybody could make any moves toward him, O'Neill, Carter and Teal'c had taken up position in front of him.

"You are out of line, Major Maybourne," Hammond snapped. "You have no jurisdiction here. Especially not where a member of the SGC is concerned."

"He's not a member, General. He's an imposter, pretending to be Daniel Jackson," Maybourne replied. "As far as I know, Daniel Jackson is dead."

"Does he look dead to you?" O'Neill asked, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder.

"That," Maybourne said, pointing at Jackson, "is not Daniel Jackson. I'm telling you, he's an imposter."

"You know, Major Maybourne, it's funny you should say that," Carter said. "Because, if you'd cared to check your files, you would know that Daniel Jackson has been reinstated in the SGC. Two days ago."

O'Neill glanced at her with a frown, then grinned. Hammond couldn't help a small smirk himself. She was a crafty one, that one. "Dr. Jackson's death was a mistake," Hammond inserted, causing Maybourne and his men to stop short. "A gross error in judgement, as it were," he added.

Maybourne stared at him. "General, you do know that lying about that sort of thing is a rather big offence, don't you?"

"Nobody is lying. We were merely misinformed," Hammond replied. "Now, I would greatly appreciate it if you and your goons would leave here right now. You have no rights in this facility and that's as far as it goes."

"Oh really?" Maybourne asked. "Well, can you prove that he has been reinstated?"

"Major?" Hammond said and turned his attention to Carter. "Would you show the man?"

"Certainly, sir," she agreed and did as she was told.

Maybourne stared at the reopened personnel file for a moment, then returned his attention to Hammond for a moment before finally focusing on Jackson. "You got lucky this time," he said, pointing a finger at him. "Next time, you won't be so lucky." With that, Maybourne and his men left again.

For a brief moment, there was nothing to be heard apart from the hum of the air conditioning. Then O'Neill smiled. "Well, that went well," he said.

"This time," Hammond agreed. "For the time being, Dr. Jackson, I think you should remain within the confines of the SGC. You never know what Maybourne may attempt to do," he added.

"All right," Jackson agreed. "It's not like I have anywhere else to go anyway," he added and glanced around at the others. "I assume my apartment is... gone?"

O'Neill brushed his left hand through his hair, his complexion having turned decidedly pale since he had gotten up. "Well, yeah," he replied and eased back down on his chair. "We sort of believed you were gone for good this time."

"I still have some of your stuff..." Carter began, but trailed off. "I mean, we have a box with some of your belongings still on base," she added, correcting herself.

"If it's a question of not having anywhere to stay, you can always sleep on my couch," O'Neill suggested.

"And I still believe it best if he stays on base for the time being. Just in case," Hammond replied. "Now, I don't think we'll get much more out of this situation right now. I'll make the necessary arrangements to have you reinstated as a citizen of this country... if you intend to remain, that is."

"Yeah, of course. That's why I came back... essentially," Jackson replied and settled back down on his chair.

"Good. We'll talk more about this later," Hammond said with a nod. "Dismissed."

***

Teal'c eyed Jack thoughtfully after Hammond had left the room. "I do believe it would be best if you returned to the infirmary, O'Neill," he finally said.

Jack nodded. "Yeah, I'm getting kinda woozy here," he agreed and rose unsteadily to his feet again.

"I shall accompany you," Teal'c said and opened the door for the unsteady Colonel.

The door swung shut behind them, leaving Daniel and Sam alone in the room. Sam just stood beside the computer, idly running the tip of her right index finger over the keys without pressing any of them.

Daniel watched her for a moment, uncertain how to talk to her. She was angry with him and he couldn't quite understand why. Sad would have been understandable, upset too, but he didn't get the anger. "Sam," he tried, but she instantly shook her head.

"No, I don't want to talk about it. There's nothing to talk about," she said.

Daniel rose again and took a step closer. "I realized that you're upset, Sam. I just don't understand why you're angry. You know as well as I do that I had no choice at the time," he tried.

Sam settled a burning gaze on him and he was briefly thankful for that she didn't have the ability to kill with her eyes. He would have been a heap of dust right around now. "No choice? My father was healing you. You could have stayed. You could have..." She trailed off and averted her gaze.

"Maybe, Sam, but do you realize what kind of a life I would have had if I hadn't gone?" he asked. "The majority of my skin had dissolved by that time. Even if Jacob had managed to stabilize me, he wouldn't have been able to return me to..." He broke off and cleared his throat. "I was in a lot of pain, Sam. All I wanted was to get away from it. I'm sorry if I hurt you with that, but I really didn't see any other option at the time. And... well... if it's any consolation, I didn't fit in with them anyway. That's why I came back. However little I may like to admit it, this is where I belong."

She stared at him with an intensity he found almost unsettling. Then she shook her head lightly. "You didn't have to do what you did, Daniel," she said, her tone hard. "You didn't have to rescue them. All you had to do was warn us and get the hell out of there. But you chose to sacrifice your life for a world that didn't give a damn about you. For heaven's sake, Daniel, they blamed it on you. And they still do. We have severed any connection to them for that very reason. They're incapable of handling the technology they have now. They may be more advanced in the field of technology than we are, but they have no clue how to handle it."

Daniel pursed his lips in a thoughtful expression and briefly tried to come up with a way to defend what he didn't really feel like defending. "If I hadn't done it, Sam, the whole planet would have been laid waste. Everybody would have been killed. Us included. There wouldn't have been time to get away."

"That's not the point, Daniel," she said, exasperation in her tone of voice. "The point is that you did something that not even Jack would have done. And he does some pretty stupid things sometimes. You got yourself killed over nothing."

It was impossible for Daniel not to get hurt by her words and he didn't really know how to respond at first. "You know, that's what I tried to tell them. That I shouldn't go because my life amounted to nothing and I had nothing to give them," he said, unable to keep a slight tinge of sharpness out of his voice. "While I was here, I was nothing. Well, guess what, Sam. I was nothing among them too. I don't fit anywhere."

"That's not true, Daniel. We have needed you on so many levels ever since you left. How many times don't you think we've run into races we couldn't talk to? Writings we couldn't decipher? And all these so-called scholars they've sent our way didn't help either. They couldn't do a fraction of what you can. They don't have the brain capacity to comprehend other races like you do," she exploded, throwing her hands up in a helpless gesture. "Jonah joined us for awhile, you know. Hammond thought he could replace you. But he couldn't. Jack didn't like him, Teal'c found him annoying and I... I can't stand him, Daniel. The chemistry was gone. Our team efficiency is down to fifty percent of what we used to do. And it's not because we're getting old or careless or whatever. It's because we need that one key ingredient and that's you. So don't tell me you're life amounts to nothing. You have expanded our universe beyond anything that anyone on this world could even imagine. You're the Neil Armstrong of the twenty-first century. Don't you get it?"

Daniel just stared at her while her words slowly settled into his mind. He'd had no idea that she felt that way about him, that she considered him to be this valuable. "No, Sam, I don't get it. If I'm so valuable, how come you never told me."

"Because we are human, Daniel. We never say the things we should say until it's too late. We always expect others to know how we feel about them. It's a universal constant when it comes to how we deal with each other and you know that. How many times over the years have you told Jack that you give a damn? Or me, for that matter? Or Teal'c? How many times have you let Hammond know what you think of his leadership? It's normal human behavior to assume that others know what you feel about them. Don't use it as an excuse, Daniel. Because it's not an excuse. It never will be," Sam said and dropped down on a chair. "I love you like a brother. I've had a closer relationship with you than I've ever had with the man I call brother. We're family, Daniel. The four of us and Hammond, too."

"Just because you consider it a universal constant that we don't express our feelings, Sam, that doesn't mean that you can use it as an excuse either," he replied quietly. "I'm not blaming you and I wish you would stop blaming me. We're supposed to be friends, right? Well, I made a bad decision a year ago and I'm trying to amend it. I came back, didn't I?"

She stared at him for a moment, then shook her head in a slow, deliberate manner. "I can't deal with this right now," she said and walked out on him.

Daniel just stood there and felt left out and alone, a not uncommon feeling in his life. For a time, he had felt that he belonged among SG1. The SGC had been home, his team members his friends. For a time, he had belonged. And right now, he wasn't so certain that he would ever get that back. Going with the ancients had been a mistake. He had become aware of it almost at once. It had taken the ancients a little longer to realize it, too, but unlike humans, they had no qualms about expressing their innermost emotions. They had indeed asked him to go back, to reclaim the life he had lost because he wasn't done with it. He couldn't let it go and he had seen the wisdom of their words, but the thought of returning to a life where he had been unfulfilled and felt useless and unhappy most of the time had not been a big draw.

But, nevertheless, he had done what they had asked him to do. He had found the probe and had followed it home. For a while, he had hovered around his friends, trying to find a way to come back to them, but he hadn't been able to figure it out. He had been sent back unfulfilled and he had started to fear that he would remain in this state forever, that he would never be able to find a place to belong. Throwing caution to the wind, he had decided to make the best of his present situation. There were places he wanted to go and because of his incorporeal state, he had figured that he would be able to go just about anywhere.

And he had. Area 51 was no secret to him any more, nor was Fort Knox or the Pentagon or any other larger organization within the country he had been born in. His latest endeavor had been out of pure curiosity and he had not expected the memory of Sam's friend to pop into his mind in the middle of everything. Sam had told him back then that this invisible alien had become corporeal because he wanted to be with her. Well, Daniel wanted to be back with his friends and he had suddenly realized that his desire to be what he had once been was the key. Unfortunately, there had been no way to reverse the process once he had formed the idea in his mind and within seconds, he had taken form.

The memory of his embarrassing reentry into the world made him blush once again. How could he explain to Sam and the others that going with the ancients had been a dream come true, which in a sense had turned out to be nothing like he had expected it to be. Once again, he was reminded of the old saying: Be careful what you wish for, it may come true. Well, his wish had come true and it had been disappointing at best.

Glancing down himself, he sighed. It would take time to learn to be a lumbering human again, but he figured that he did belong here. This was home, no matter how much heartache it brought with it.

***

It took Jack a few days to get back to his feet, but he realized rather quickly that having a little downtime was actually a pretty good idea. Daniel was with him most of the time and the kid was pretty upset about the fact that Carter seemed to shun him like the plague. Jack wasn't too sure why she responded the way she did and he had promised himself to get to the bottom of this. With his shoulder healing just nicely and Janet having gotten over her obvious shock at seeing Daniel again, things were slowly getting back to normal.

Teal'c was the one among them who was the most rational and therefore accepted Daniel's return without question. Jack found it easy to warm up to the idea and Hammond was moving heaven and earth to reintroduce Daniel to the world. And it was all working out, too. The only thing that was still weighing the kid down was Carter's attitude and Jack couldn't say that he blamed him.

Flexing his right shoulder despite Dr. Fraiser's advice to keep it still for a few more days, Jack felt more alive than he had in a long time. There was still pain and he would need to retrain his arm a little, but apart from that he felt just fine. To accommodate Daniel as much as the good doctor, Jack had stayed on base for the duration and had gotten the whole story from Daniel about his ascension and his subsequent return. What had at first sounded hilariously funny was now serious business to him. Daniel had experienced a rather traumatic return to the land of the living and Jack was slightly concerned about how it would affect him in the long run. Daniel assured him that he had no side-effects from that embarrassing episode, but he wasn't too fond of talking about it either.

"Shouldn't you keep your arm still?" Daniel asked. "I mean, Janet said..."

"Janet said," Jack interrupted with a frown. "Look, I've had injuries before, Danny, and I've never had any permanent damage from any of it. I know when to sit still and when to move. Janet is a hen. She'll worry herself to death some day."

Daniel made a face and then scrubbed a hand over his face. "I wish I could find my glasses. I can't see very well without them," he said.

"Ask Sam. She may know where they are. I doubt she threw them away," Jack replied, not immediately considering what he was saying.

Daniel gave him a look. "Uh... no, I don't think so. Sam's not talking to me right now," he said and looked away.

With a slight frown, Jack eyed Daniel for a moment. He had noticed the somewhat cold shoulder that Sam seemed to be giving Daniel, but he had somehow hoped it would have passed in the meantime. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"She's angry with me," Daniel confessed. "For dying. She thinks I should have hung on or something."

"Oh, for crying out loud," Jack mumbled and rose. "I'll talk to her about that," he added and left the temporary office Daniel had been assigned until they could clear out his old office.

Jack didn't notice the look of concern on Daniel's face when he left and even if he had, he probably wouldn't have stopped this endeavor anyway. The matter of fact was that Sam was acting irrationally and he wasn't going to let it go on without finding out why.

***

Sam glanced at the door when Jack stepped in and she could tell by the look on his face that he was going to get pushy. For a brief moment, she considered what to do, but figured it might be good to just weather the storm. Besides, she could handle Jack most of the time, so why not now?

"Carter," he said with a nod. "What'cha doin'?"

"Working," she replied, not intending any particular tone.

"Really? Well, that's a surprise, considering that you never work," Jack said, sarcasm thick in his voice.

Sam couldn't help smiling a little, but she managed to hide it from him by turning her back on him. "Something wrong?" she asked instead.

"No, nothing in particular," he said and picked one of her gadgets up. "I was just... you know... shooting the breeze with Daniel and it sort of came up that he misses his glasses. You wouldn't know where they are, would you?"

Sam had known all along that Jack would eventually get in the middle of this. He always interfered. "I don't know. There's a box in his old office with some of his stuff. It might be in there," she replied.

Jack put the gadget down again and glanced around the room. "I'll tell him that," he said, then turned to fully face her. "Carter, what the heck is going on? I thought you'd be happy to have Daniel back."

Sam made a face and briefly closed her eyes. How could she make him understand how she felt? She didn't even know herself. Confused beyond reason, she was waging a daily battle with herself to find out how to feel about Daniel's return, and the way it looked right now, she was losing that battle. With a soft sigh, she settled down on her chair and let her shoulders droop. "I don't know, sir. I... can't get my mind around to the fact that he's... back."

The slight frown creasing Jack's brow told her how confused he was about her attitude. "What's not to get, Carter? He's back, he's himself in every way. What more do you want?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "Some kind of... verification that he's really Daniel, that this isn't going to be... some kind of... I don't know... letdown in the end."

"Well, Doc Fraiser is just about ready with all the blood works and stuff. If nothing's out of the ordinary, will that convince you?" he asked.

Sam glanced at him, uncertain of how to respond. But then she nodded and bit her lower lip. "Yes, I think so."

"Good. Because I'm one hundred and ten percent certain of who this guy is. He may have been on a spiritual journey or whatever for the past year, but he's back and he's fine," Jack said, the conviction strong in his voice.

Sam found herself wishing desperately that she could be as certain. "I don't know," she mumbled. "I want Daniel to be back, but... I can't handle it if we find out that he's not who he seems to be."

Jack stepped up behind her and grabbed her shoulders, giving them a light squeeze. "I know how you feel, Carter. But I would be willing to give my right arm on this one. That's Daniel. There is no way any... clone or whatever could make such a convincing display of confusing the heck out of me. And he does that, you know." He just stood there for a second, his hand still on her shoulders, and probably waited for her to respond. Then he tightened his grip on her shoulders again. "Give the guy a break. You're tearing him apart with this cold-shoulder-routine. I guarantee you that this is Daniel. The same annoying geek who keeps reminding us how stupid we are by being leaps and bounds ahead of us."

Again, all Sam could do was smile vaguely. Somehow, her CO always got under her skin. For a brief moment, she closed her eyes and tried to push those feelings away that rose in her every time she allowed herself to think of him as anything other than her CO.

"If you won't do it for Daniel, will you at least do it for me? I can't stand seeing you two going at each other like that," he added. "Or not go at each other like that, as it were. Come on, Carter. Play nice."

She considered his request for a moment. "Is that an order, sir?" she asked, pushing the subject.

"No, Carter, it's a request. From one friend to another. Just give Daniel a break, okay? When Fraiser proves that it's Daniel, then I'll make it an order. I understand your reluctance to accept this as real, Sam, but... I would bet my life on that this is Daniel," he replied.

For a moment all she could do was just sit there and feel the warmth of his hands seeping into her far too strained shoulder muscles. Then she finally nodded. "All right. If Janet clears him, I'll give him a break," she promised. "Just note that I'm not happy about it."

"Duly noted, Major," he said, gave her shoulders another brief squeeze and released her. "Would you give that box of stuff to Daniel? I think I'd better go see Doc Fraiser now," he added.

Sam frowned at him as he headed toward the door. "Are you all right, sir?"

He stopped by the door and glanced back at her with a somewhat pale smile. "Yeah, just peachy," he replied, grabbed his right shoulder with his left hand and left. Sam would have had to be blind to not notice the blood stain forming on the front of his t-shirt. Damn that man and his stubbornness, she thought and rose. His insistence that he was fine had led to the reopening of the wound. Janet was going to have his head for that.

***

Daniel frowned at the ancient Egyptian vase sitting on his desk, one of the few things Jack claimed to have forgotten to turn in, and ran the tip of one finger over the smooth surface. Being back sure wasn't what he had expected it to be, but he was beginning to realize that maybe he was suffering of a case of high expectations when it came to the world and space around him. Nothing was ever what he had hoped it would be. Well, with the exception of Jack. Jack had responded in more or less the same manner as he had thought he would and that was always something. Teal'c had been happy to see him too, although he hadn't seen much of the Jaffa over the last few days.

Before he could decide what to do next, the door opened behind him. Expecting it to be Jack, he turned around and froze when he saw Sam standing there with a box under one arm. "Uh... hi," he said, uncertain about how to approach her.

Sam met his eyes dead on, a first since his return, and then walked over and set the box down on his desk. "This is some of your stuff," she said and reached inside to retrieve something. "Your glasses. Jack said you missed them."

Tentatively, he reached out and grabbed them. A brief, mandatory polish on the front of his t-shirt followed. It was something he didn't even think about, but he could tell that it affected Sam somehow. He put the glasses on and already felt the impending headache lessen. "Thanks," he said. "Sam..."

"Before you say anything, I would just like to state a point here," she interrupted him. "I've been wrecking my brain over the last few days, trying to understand why I'm reacting to you the way I do and... it's fairly simple. I don't believe you're you."

Daniel arched an eyebrow. "Uh... who else should I be?"

"I don't know. That the problem," Sam said. "You look like... you. You even sound like... you. But... I can't believe it's..."

"Me?" Daniel finished for her. "What would convince you? I mean, I'm not in possession of my wallet, so I can't show you a driver's license."

"That's just the thing, isn't it?" Sam asked, her expression a little tight. "You can't prove it. If I understand correctly about this... materializing, you have gotten a whole new body with everything intact. So, any scars you had previously will not be there. Nor will any of your teeth be capped or have fillings. The only thing that might prove who you are is a blood test..."

"... which Doc Fraiser is about ready to reveal the result off," Jack said from behind her. He stepped inside, his hands in his pockets, his whole attitude that of a father who was tired of hearing his kids fight over a toy. "What'cha say we mosey on over to the infirmary and hear her verdict?" he suggested.

Sam turned back to face him. "Are you all right, sir?"

"Yeah, just fine. Doc Fraiser slapped a new bandage on my shoulder and nearly nailed me to the wall with that stare of hers and a reprimand about how I wasn't supposed to overdo it," he said and gave her a crooked grin. "Now, off you go. Both of you. Let's hear what the good doctor has to say."

***

Janet Fraiser was ready for the lot of them when they arrived. She had gotten over her initial shock of seeing Daniel again and was pleased to have him back. After the initial surprise had subsided a little, she had insisted on doing various tests to prove his authenticity, as it were, and she was now ready to give them all the results. She knew of the friction between Daniel and Sam and also how Hammond felt about the whole issue.

Teal'c and Hammond were there already, talking quietly about the upcoming mission, and from what Janet could hear, Teal'c was trying to convince Hammond to let Daniel come along. Hammond was reluctant to make any type of commitment before he knew for certain that the man he might send with them was indeed Daniel Jackson.

When the rest of SG-1 turned up, Janet once again had to remind herself to stay calm as she turned to face the lot of them. "Now, I've just received the last result of the tests and I think you'll all be happy to know that there is no doubt that this is Daniel," she said, waving a hand at him. "Everything is where it's supposed to be and there's nothing abnormal about anything. Dental records, blood works, the whole deal fits. So, unless any of you have something unusual to report, I can only confirm that... this is Daniel Jackson."

Daniel grinned and so did Jack. Teal'c looked pleased and Hammond had that smug expression on his face which Janet knew to be relief-based. The only one who wasn't smiling was Sam. Janet caught her gaze and gave her questioning look, which Sam chose to ignore. Instead, she turned to face Daniel. For a moment, she just stared up at him, then she stepped forward and hugged him.

Daniel looked a little taken aback by that, but was quick to wrap his arms around her too. "I'm sorry, Daniel," Sam said and leaned back, tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry I doubted you."

In the usual spirit of understanding, Daniel gave her a vague smile. "It's okay," he said. "I don't blame you for doubting. It's pretty incredible, no matter how you turn it."

"That's exactly what it is. But, then again, we seem to experience small miracles every day and here's another one," Jack inserted with a smile. Glancing back at Hammond, he arched an eyebrow at the general. "So, what do you say, sir? Any chance of getting Danny back on the team?"

Hammond eyed him for a moment, then nodded once. "Since everything seems to pan out, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't once again be a part of SG-1," he said and finally smiled. "Welcome back, Dr. Jackson," he added and stuck a hand out to the younger man.

Daniel grabbed it while still holding onto Sam with the other. "Thank you, sir," he said, then glanced at Jack. "And thanks for being in the right place at the right time, Jack."

"Hey, I aim to please," Jack replied. "And I never doubted you in the first place."

"Yeah, right," Daniel replied with a slight smile.

"Well, I didn't," Jack insisted.

"Yeah, you did. You asked me who I was. Or are you going senile already?" Daniel retorted.

Jack gave him a dark look. "Are you trying to be funny? I'm not laughing, you know. And I didn't doubt you," he insisted.

"Yeah, you did," Daniel said.

"Did not," Jack countered.

"Did too," Daniel replied.

"Oh, for Pete's sake," Hammond exclaimed. "Would you two stop it and get back to work?" he added, sighed deeply and left the infirmary.

"And I didn't," Jack continued.

"Yeah, you did," Daniel opposed him.

Sam stepped back, the first genuine smile on her lips, and Janet couldn't help feeling that all was right with the world when those four were together. Her work was done for now, so she stepped back to let them all get back into the swing of things. She briefly met Daniel's eyes and couldn't help smiling at him. If that wasn't Daniel Jackson, she would resign immediately.

The End