A/N: Someone actually made it to the final chapter, even after I was so mean to our beloved team? Woohoo! Thanks for reading!
"Sir," Sam said nervously, poking her head around the doorframe, "You wanted to see me?"
"Come on in and close the door," Jack said gently, not looking forward to this conversation.
"Is everything all right, sir?"
"Sit down, Carter."
Worried about what was to come, Sam plopped down in the nearest chair. Her worry increased when Jack got up and moved around his desk to sit in the chair beside her. Watching him warily, she noted that he seemed lighter than he had in the last two weeks, as if a load had been lifted off his shoulders, but at the same time, he seemed tense.
"Some people came through the gate this afternoon, making some pretty wild claims about their identities," Jack began, trying to broach the subject carefully without dancing around the issue. As far as he was concerned, the sooner Sam learned Daniel and Teal'c weren't really dead, the better.
"After speaking with them, running a whole lot of medical tests and speaking with Doctor Lee about the possibility of alternate realities, we've managed to confirm that they are who they claim to be, and that they belong in this reality."
"Sir, who were they?"
Taking a deep breath, Jack dropped the bombshell on her: "Daniel and Teal'c."
"No, I saw them," Sam said vehemently, standing up so quickly she knocked her chair over. "I saw them, I felt them die! I watched their bodies disintegrate, there's no way…"
"Sam, I wouldn't tell you this if I wasn't absolutely sure they were our Daniel and Teal'c," Jack soothed, standing as well. Grasping her shoulders, he caught her gaze and held it. "It's our Daniel and Teal'c, Sam, I swear."
"How can you be sure?" she asked quietly, not willing to believe him only to have her world fall apart again if it turned out he was wrong.
"Beyond the medical proof, they know everything our Teal'c and Daniel should know about everything they should know about. They know things that no imposter could have thought to ask them for, right down to the colour of Jell-o you like and the fact that there are no fish in my pond," Jack explained. "Plus, when I'm with them, I can feel it; they're our Daniel and Teal'c."
"Ba'al zatted them three times, nothing could bring them back from that," Sam argued. She knew what she'd seen; she was positive that her version of that last mission was accurate, so how could what Jack was telling her be possible?
"Ba'al made adult clones somehow. We think he used Asgaard technology to do it, but we can't be sure."
"Sir, I want to believe they're still alive as much as you do…" Sam said sadly, shaking her head.
"They saw what Ba'al did to you," Jack interrupted. "He let the real ones watch the whole thing. Sam, they know details that there is no way they could possibly know if they weren't there."
"Why would Ba'al go to all this trouble? What did he stand to gain?"
"As far as we can figure, Ba'al needed you to believe that Teal'c and Daniel were dead with no chance of resurrection so that when he released you, you would come home and convince us that they were gone for good. Then he would be able to torture the originals for information about the Free Jaffa and the Ancients for as long as he wanted, without having to worry about the SGC staging a rescue mission," Jack reasoned, sharing the conclusions he had drawn. "We think the… 'fun' he had putting you through hell was an added bonus for him, not his main goal."
Sam stood silently, staring intently into his eyes. She was searching for some clue that he had doubts about what he was telling her. Try as she might, she couldn't find any trace of skepticism, just honest to goodness belief that their dead friends were still alive.
"How did they get out?" she asked hesitantly, starting to believe that maybe he was telling her the truth after all.
"A Tok'ra operative in Ba'al's court sent word to your father when you were all captured. Dad staged a jail break, but Ba'al had already sent you home, so he sprung Daniel and Teal'c. They've been trying to make it home on a damaged hat'ak for the last week and a half."
"My dad's okay?" she asked hopefully, sagging with relief when Jack nodded. "Does he believe it's our Daniel and Teal'c?" Another nod. "And you really believe it?" A third nod. Sam couldn't stop the tears that sprang to her eyes.
"C'mere," Jack murmured, pulling her in for a hug, relieved that she was convinced. He bit back a smile when her arms squeezed him tightly, reveling in the fact that they were sharing a hug under happy circumstances for once; there had been far too many teary embraces in the last few weeks.
Hiding her face in his shoulder, Sam took a few deep breaths, trying to overcome the urge to bawl. With some effort, she succeeded, though when she raised her head again, her cheeks were streaked with the tracks of many tears, happy ones this time.
"Where are they? Can I see them?" she whispered hopefully, her head tilted up so she could look at him properly.
"They're in the briefing room, and you can see them whenever you want," Jack replied, glad to see a spark of life back in the blue eyes staring pleadingly at him.
Disentangling himself from her, Jack put a hand on the small of her back and ushered her out of his office and into the briefing room. At the sound of the door opening, the three men in the briefing room had turned to face Jack's office, all relieved when both Jack and Sam entered the room.
Without a word, Sam walked straight up to Daniel and threw her arm around him, squeezing as tightly as she could, her other arm held out expectantly, waiting for Teal'c to move closer. As soon as he was within reach, Sam wrapped her arm around him too. For their part, Daniel and Teal'c both held Sam in crushing hugs, not that she seemed to mind. Sparing a quick look at Jacob, Jack saw the older man was wearing a smile to match his own. Both were relieved that the reunion was going as well as they'd hoped it would.
When the group hug ended long minutes later, Jacob stepped forward to engulf his daughter in another hug. Relief that he really was okay quickly replaced her surprise at his presence in the briefing room. When Jacob tried to let go of her, Sam snaked an arm around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder, clearly not wanting him to step away just yet.
"I know we're all pretty worn out," Jack announced, "But if this doesn't call for a celebration, I don't know what does. How about pizza and beer at my place tonight?"
"Who's buying?" Daniel asked pointedly, crossing his arms expectantly.
"From the look on your face, I'm guessing that would be me?"
"I'm in!" Daniel agreed, a triumphant smile lighting his face.
"As am I."
"Dad?" Jack prompted.
"Sure, why not," Jacob replied, smirking. "After all, how can I turn down good old Earth beer when you're buying?"
"Everyone go take care of anything that needs to be taken care of, and we'll meet at the elevators in two hours," Jack instructed, turning to head back into his office until he overheard a single sentence that stopped him in his tracks.
"So I hear congratulations are in order," Jacob stated, wrapping an arm around Sam's shoulders and leading the others out of the room.
"Why?" Sam asked, confused.
"That's still what we say on Earth when someone gets engaged, right?"
"Ye… Wait! How do you know about Pete?" she demanded, ignoring Daniel's snickering and the smirk on Teal'c's face.
"Jack," Jacob replied simply, knowing he was landing the other man in hot water.
A/N: Well, what did you think? Take a minute to write a review and let me know!