Chapter Two

Disclaimer: I do not own Thor or Quantum Leap.

When Sam returned to the room he'd left Loki and Thor in, he found the pair pointedly ignoring each other's existence on the other side of the room. Well, at least they weren't trying to kill each other again.

They both looked up when Sam came back into the room so apparently he would need to start this off.

"Don't mind me," Al said as he walked into the room.

"You're still here?" Sam asked, startled. Usually Al didn't stick around after giving him his instructions.

"Of course we're still here, Father," Thor said, frowning. "We were supposed to wait for you."

"I wouldn't miss something like this for the world," Al replied. "Especially since we just found you again."

Sam forced a smile. "Right, well, who wants to tell me what was going on right before I had to catch you from falling off the Bifrost?"

No one said anything.

Sam did a silent 'eenie meenie miney moe' in his head.

"Loki, why don't you go first?" Sam asked.

Loki glanced up at him. "What does it matter? You already know what happened."

Not really, though he probably should.

"I want to hear it from you," Sam said in his best authoritative voice.

"Oh, nice," Al complimented.

"King Laufey and a few of his men somehow found their way to Asgard," Loki told him. "When I discovered this I immediately rushed to your side. They had knocked Mother over and Laufey was talking about how he was going to kill you. I killed him instead."

That was in line with what Frigga had told him.

"I suppose I owe you my life then," Sam said. "Thank you."

Something passed through Loki's eyes, gone too quickly to identify. It seemed that now that Loki had been given some time he had decided to play things close to the vest. In some ways it might have been easier to deal with the more openly vulnerable Loki but he'd needed the time to try and understand more about what was going on and he couldn't have passed up the chance to reunite with Al for the world. Maybe Loki being calmer could be a good thing.

"As your son, it was my duty and privilege," Loki replied evenly. "You were still asleep and, as acting king of Asgard, I knew that I had to act. Jotunheim had already attacked us once by sending people to steal the Casket on the day that was to be Thor's coronation and then they threatened us with war when Thor barged into Jotunheim to 'teach them a lesson.' And then they nearly killed you. This couldn't be allowed to continue and so I…" He steeled himself. "I decided to settle the problem once and for all and destroy Jotunheim."

Al whistled. "Destroy his own people? This kid's got more problems than I thought."

Thor looked like he was about to explode.

Sam nodded his way. "Thor?"

"Although I will admit that at first I did not really…understand about the banishment, once I failed to lift Mjolnir-" Thor began.

"That's his hammer, I think," Al supplied. "Only the worthy can wield it."

"I began to understand. Loki told me that you were dead and that it was all my fault and that Mother never wanted to see me again so I'd have to stay on Midgard forever," Thor said, glaring daggers at Loki.

Loki shrugged. "I may have exaggerated."

"Exaggerated?" Thor thundered. "You outright lied to me!"

"And that certainly wasn't very nice," Sam spoke up. "But you know the truth now. Loki, why did you lie to him?"

"He had been locked up by the humans and seemed entirely directionless," Loki replied promptly. "I was hoping that by telling him what I did I could motivate him to try and make up for what he believed that he had did. I thought this shock would provide the wake-up call that he needed and here he is now, just one day later, appropriately matured."

"You are such a liar!" Thor cried out.

"I don't expect thanks," Loki said with a long-suffering sigh.

"Then what happened, Thor?" Sam asked.

"You can't honestly believe-" Thor started to say.

"It doesn't matter whether I believe or not," Sam cut him off. "What happened next?"

Thor closed his eyes briefly. "I had decided to try and be a better person and to live out a good life on Earth when my friends showed up. They told me the truth about what had happened on Asgard and begged me to return. I would not have done so except that Loki had sent a destroyer after them. No one died but most of the buildings were hit and people could have died."

"Loki?" Sam asked, turning to Loki.

"As their king, I forbade them to go. They left anyway to try and depose me and that's two counts of treason right there," Loki said, unmoved.

"But they're your friends," Sam said, confused.

"Not after this they're not," Al predicted.

"They made their choice," Loki said coldly.

"Who are you?" Thor demanded, staring at Loki as if he'd never seen him before.

Loki smiled grimly. "That is the question, isn't it?"

"That it is," Sam agreed. "But we'll get to that. Thor, what happened next?"

"I told Loki to leave them alone and just kill me. The destroyer walked away and for a moment I did not think that he would do it but then he sent me flying through the air. I was badly injured but…" Thor's tone turned grudging. "But that destroyer could have done a lot worse. I doubt that, even had that not proved my worthiness to wield Mjolnir and I regained my powers, I would have died."

"I was never intending to kill you, Thor," Loki told him quietly. "I just needed you to stay put and your treasonous friends were making that difficult."

"Our treasonous friends," Thor corrected.

Loki stared at him. "That's really the part that you want to correct?"

"I returned to Asgard and confronted Loki in your chambers, Father. He blasted me through a wall and told me he was going to destroy Jotunheim. When I got to the Bifrost, he had the controls frozen so that I could not turn them off and the entire realm would have been wiped out. I really had no choice but to destroy the Bifrost," Thor concluded. "Loki leapt to try and stop me but he was too late and we both went flying. That's when you showed up."

Sam was quiet for a long moment, trying to figure out how to even start with this.

"Good luck, Sam," Al told him, sounding vaguely amused.

Well, first thing's first, he supposed. Genocide was just not a good idea and by far the most serious thing that had happened.

"Loki, why were you trying to destroy Jot-the Frost Giants?" Sam asked finally, deciding it was really best to not even try with that pronunciation.

Loki's answer came quick, prepared. He had clearly been anticipating this question. "You know better than anyone the toll defeating Jotunheim in the first war took on Asgard. I was trying to avoid having another war when it did not seem like one could be averted through any other means. Even now, a war may not be averted."

"The king is dead," Sam pointed out.

Loki raised an eyebrow. "Yes and that will sow chaos and confusion for awhile, particularly if they do not realize this at first and believe him to be simply missing. But should they find out, should Laufey have told anyone where he was going…Well that might just fan the flames of war even more."

"These were your actions!" Thor exploded, apparently physically incapable of remaining quiet any longer.

"And the must be dealt with," Loki said simply. "Though if you'll remember what started all of this-"

Not wanting to wait for them to finish bickering, Sam interrupted, "But Loki…genocide."

Loki's face was somber. "Yes, genocide. It is not something to be undertaken lightly but it seemed like the safest course of action. And the Frost Giants are monsters."

Sam wasn't sure what Odin's feelings, expressed or otherwise, were about Frost Giants but he did know that being told he was a monster would certainly not help matters with Loki and no child needed to be told that they were a monster by their parents. "I don't agree with that."

Loki wouldn't look at him. "So you said."

Thor seemed to pick up on the fact that something deeper was going on than he was aware of. "What…?"

"Do you want to tell him?" Sam asked gently.

"I'm surprised he doesn't already know," Loki responded curtly.

"I'm sensing some serious sibling rivalry here," Al noted.

"This is your secret, Loki," Sam said firmly. "And it's up to you if you want to share it with your brother or not."

Thor was looking more and more curious but he said nothing.

Finally, Loki nodded to himself and stood. "It doesn't make a difference." He closed his eyes and his skinned turned blue.

Sam tried not to look as startled as he felt.

"I'm guessing that's what a Frost Giant looks like," Al noted. "He's not very, well, giant-like but I guess he could be a runt."

Thor was gripping the chair he sat on so hard it was leaving a mark.

"Well, brother?" Loki asked condescendingly. When he opened his eyes they were red. "Do you have a better grip of the situation yet?"

Thor shook his head helplessly. "I must confess that I really don't."

"Well I'll tell you," Loki informed him, pleasantly enough. "Apparently I am a prince after all, just one of Jotunheim. I was abandoned to die for being too small and Father took me back with him to try and use me to ensure Jotunheim's good behavior, never mind whether I'd want to go back to that cesspit."

Sam shot Al a look demanding to know how much of that was true.

Al shrugged. "I don't know, I wasn't there! From what I've seen of Odin, he probably could take in a baby with the intention of doing that. Whether he could raise him for hundreds of years and never tell him while still planning on doing that is another story, however."

"Loki," Sam said firmly.

Loki turned to look at him. "Did I miss something?"

"You missed a great deal," Sam insisted. "I noticed that you didn't mention the fact that I couldn't just leave a child to die or that my plans have changed. I noticed that you didn't mention that I love you and you're my son."

"Your son, perhaps, but always the lesser, always in the shadows," Loki said darkly.

"Please tell me that he's not trying to claim that being the un-favorite makes it okay to commit genocide," Al requested.

It was so hard to remember not to answer him but, well, the last thing he needed was to convince his 'sons' that he was crazy and so he just shrugged.

"I don't think any parent ever intentionally sets out to have a favorite child or to love one child more than the other," Sam said slowly. He wouldn't know, really, since he only had the one child that he had only met once and not as himself but that seemed right. "If I ever made you feel that way, Loki, then I'm truly sorry. I don't believe that I loved Thor more or favored him over the years but I acknowledge that you may have seen it differently." A thought occurred to him. "And, if you'll recall, Thor was the one to be banished earlier this week and not you."

Loki frowned, seeming to concede the point. He abruptly turned back to Thor who was gaping like a goldfish. "Well? Don't you have anything to say?"

"I don't understand," Thor managed to say.

"Well I've already explained it," Loki snapped.

"Thor," Sam began.

Grateful for the distraction, Thor immediately glanced his way.

"Do you believe that your brother is a monster?" Sam asked bluntly.

"Of course he does," Loki said contemptuously. "And I'll bet he's glad, too, glad that he finally understands why I could never live in your perfect little world."

Thor turned back to Loki. He said nothing for a long while as his eyes roamed over Loki's Frost Giant features. "No," he said finally.

That seemed to puzzle Loki. "No?"

"No, my brother, you are not a monster," Thor said again, his voice growing stronger this time.

"You seemed to hold a different opinion when I was destroying Jotunheim," Loki pointed out.

Thor looked uncomfortable. "Well, as you pointed out, I would have done the same thing not long ago. I changed and you can change, too."

"Oh, isn't that lovely?" Loki asked sarcastically. "I'll be welcomed back if only I change!"

"You wouldn't have to change much," Sam pointed out. "Just maybe stop attempting to wipe out entire species."

Thor nodded his agreement. "It's really not hard to avoid, Brother."

"I'm a Frost Giant," Loki said frigidly, looking furious and like Thor was being thick on purpose.

Thor shrugged. "Nobody's perfect."

Sam winced. "What he means is that just because you're adopted doesn't mean that we love you any less."

Loki turned around to stare at him. " A-Adopted? Really? Is that what you're calling it?"

Sam frowned. "You aren't my or your mother's biological child and yet we took you in and made you a part of our family. That sure sounds like adoption to me."

"You can't just adopt a member of another species," Loki protested.

"Current evidence suggests otherwise," Thor argued.

"It's not adoption if your biological parents don't know about it," Loki insisted. "In fact, it might actually be kidnapping."

"When they left you to die, I think that just about terminated their parental rights," Sam said dryly. "Loki, look, I get that you're upset right now and you have every right to be. Your whole world has been turned upside down and you have to face some truths about yourself that you'd rather not face."

Loki waited for him to finish.

"Still, being upset doesn't give you the right to hurt other people, let alone wipe out entire races," Sam concluded.

"But they're monsters," Loki objected.

"They have the right to exist," Sam said firmly. "Why do you think I didn't wipe them out myself?"

"Loki, Father is right," Thor said, going over to stand in front of his brother. "Your heritage may have been hidden from us but ultimately, it changes nothing. You are still my brother and you always will be."

"How can it not change anything?" Loki demanded. "It changes everything."

Sam knew the answer to this one. In fact, he'd often annoyed people by pointing this out back before this whole mess had started. In more recent times, needlessly needling people had seemed like a terrible idea as he'd often had enough trouble. "It changes nothing because if you are a Frost Giant now then you have always been a Frost Giant. The only thing that has changed is your perspective."

"The fact that you were born a…" Thor trailed off, taking a deep breath. He was clearly not as comfortable with this as he was pretending to be but he was still determined to put his own feelings aside for the sake of his brother. Thor was not actually his son, of course, but something in him swelled with pride at that. "A Frost Giant might explain why you were never able to keep up when it came to the traditional way of fighting but that's alright."

"'Alright'?" Loki echoed mockingly. "It shows that I don't belong in Asgard on a very fundamental level and you think that that's alright?"

"You'll never be the typical Asgardian warrior, true," Thor acknowledged. "But that's okay. We have plenty of those, that's why it's called the 'typical Asgardian warrior.' Instead, we have you. You and your magic. I jest about your tricks and perhaps you take that more seriously than you should but I know for a fact that we would not have made it out Nornheim without you."

Loki looked almost pained. "You don't mean that."

Thor steeled himself and then placed his hand on Loki's neck. Immediately, it started to burn. "I do."

Sam jumped up, not sure what was happening or why or how to stop it.

But he needn't have worried. After a moment, Loki's blue coloring melted away and he looked like the man that Sam had first met.

"No one has to know, do they?"

Sam was startled to realize that Loki was talking to him again. "About what?"

"About…" Loki gestured vaguely to himself. "Everything?"

"They'll have to be told something to explain about the Bifrost," Sam reasoned. "But aside from that…No. We don't have to tell them anything you don't want to, son."

Loki didn't quite smile but there was something like hope in his eyes that had been empty before.

Then the world dissolved around him.

Sam opened his eyes to see Verbena Beeks standing over him with a professional expression on her face and a clipboard in her arms. He was lying on an examining table in a place that was suddenly very, very familiar.

He closed his eyes and smiled.

"Hello, please try and remain calm," Verbena told him. "You are part of a government experiment and will be returned to your home, unharmed, in just a few short days. We ask that you bear with us until then."

Sam opened his eyes again and sat up, swinging his legs around to the side of the bed.

"If you'll please report your name and year," Verbena requested.

"My name?" Sam asked innocently. "That's Sam Beckett. As for the year…Well, I couldn't tell you for sure but I'm hoping it's still 2001."

Verbena's mask of professionalism dropped in an instant. She dropped the clipboard as her arms shot out towards him before she pulled them back. She ran a finger through her hair. "Dr. Beckett?"

"Is that a yes on it being 2001?" Sam asked hopefully.

Verbena laughed then, more out of relief to see him than because his question had amused her. "Yes, Dr. Beckett, this is still 2001."

"I leaped home…" Sam breathed.

"And about time you did, too," Verbena said, almost giddy in her relief. "It was starting to get a little ridiculous."

Sam laughed himself. "You're telling me. Is Al here?"

Verbena shot him a strange look. "You'd rather see the Admiral and not…?" She trailed off.

"My wife and daughter?" Sam helpfully supplied. "No, I want to see them, too. Believe me, I want to see them, too. It's just…I think I'm on firmer footing with him."

Verbena nodded. "I understand. The Admiral's usually here. Ziggy, if you would?"

"If I would what?" Ziggy inquired.

Sam gave her puppy dog eyes. "Please, Ziggy."

A moment later, "The Admiral has been informed and he's on his way down here." Sounding miffed, she continued with, "He implied that if I were relaying faulty information then he would take me apart and sell me for scrap metal."

Sam grinned. "Oh, it's okay, Ziggy. You know he doesn't mean it."

"I will remember this," Ziggy threatened.

Sam waited in anticipatory silence while Verbena did some standard tests to make sure that he had come back fine.

Finally, Al came charging in. "Sam?"

"I'm back," Sam confirmed.

Al put a hand on his forehead. "Oh, thank God. I was starting to wonder if we'd get you back in my lifetime. I wonder what changed this time…"

This time he had realized that he had some rather pressing responsibilities back home that he couldn't just continue to ignore? "I don't know."

Al reached out and touched Sam's shoulder, just to prove that he was real. Sam had been about half a minute away from doing the exact same thing to Al.

"Everything appears to be normal," Verbena reported, moving towards the door. "I'll let everyone know that you're alright."

"Don't let everyone crowd him!" Al instructed.

Verbena nodded. "I'll tell them to save it for the party tonight."

Sam groaned. "There's going to be a party tonight? But I just got back!"

"After six years of this, Dr. Beckett, it is going to be the best damn party that any of us has ever seen," Verbena said, a hint of a threat in her voice.

Sam winced. "Oh boy."

Al grinned. "Sounds exciting."

"So what happened?" Sam asked. "Did Thor and Loki work it out?"

Al shrugged. "They must have because you came back."

"You don't know?" Sam asked, surprised.

"I'm not psychic, Sam, and this did take place ten years in the future," Al pointed out. "We'll just have to trust that you wouldn't have leapt out of there if Odin couldn't handle whatever came next."

"That reminds me…how, exactly, did you mange to keep Odin here?" Sam wondered. "I mean, he didn't have a Swiss Cheese Brain and he's apparently super-strong."

"He…quickly decided that he wasn't going to just wait quietly in here," Al admitted, wincing a little. "But he was willing to let us explain the situation to him. He wasn't happy, to say the least. He was actually insulted that a stranger – and possibly because you're human – thought that they could deal with his sons better than he could. Still, he was stuck with your aura and ten years in the past. He didn't want two Odins in Asgard at once and even if he waited, the Bifrost in his present was destroyed so the only way he really had of going home was waiting for you to be finished."

Sam whistled. "I am really glad I didn't have to deal with that one."

"No, you just had to prevent Armageddon," Al retorted.

Sam frowned pensively. "Do you think I succeeded?"

"I hope so," Al told him fervently. "But if not…well, apparently even the first steps towards that path don't happen for another ten years so it's really not our problem."

"Al!" Sam cried out, half-scandalized.

"What?" Al asked him innocently. "What more can we possibly do to prevent that?"

Sam sighed, knowing that he was right.

"Beth's dying to see you again," Al said conversationally. "Of course, you've never properly met her, have you? Not since you stopped being Jake."

"I'm sure I'll love her as much as you do," Sam assured him.

Al laughed. "Hopefully not quite as much."

Sam coughed. "Yes, right."

"When Donna gets here, I'd mention the fact that you remembered her before you came home," Al advised. His eyes turned serious. "Listen, Sam...What you did for me...Beth, my girls, they really make up my life. I can't even imagine going back to my old life even though I know that it was only a year ago that I ever had anything different."

"You already thanked me, Al," Sam said softly.

"I just wanted to let you know that I...If it had meant that you never would have come home...I would have wanted you to get your happy ending instead," Al said, not quite able to look at him. "After everything, you deserve it."

"You deserve it," Sam countered.

Al laughed. "Alright, so we both deserve it! I'm glad that we were able to get both in the end."

"It's karma, I think," Sam confided.

There was a scramble at the door as Donna and a member of the Project he had seen in passing (though not in reality, just in his memories) showed up together.

She looked like Abigail.

Poor, dead Abigail who he had barely known and yet who had given him the only child he had. The only child that he knew that he had, at least. And now he would never get the chance to know her. It wasn't as if he ever could have told her the truth, though, not like with Sammy Jo who worked here at Quantum Leap. There was a painful feeling in his chest.

Sam didn't have time to say anything before Donna had launched herself into her arms and kissing him senseless.

He vaguely heard Sammy Jo remark, "I really hope this isn't a case of mistaken identities."

"No, it's Sam," Al assured her. "And present-day Sam, too."

Sammy Jo giggled. "Can you imagine if he was sixteen again? Or even pre-Donna?"

Donna pulled back. "I would know my husband anywhere."

"Really?" Al asked challengingly.

Donna turned back to Sam, her arms still around his neck. "Did you or did you not leap into a college professor and take me to see my father after he walked out on the family?"

Sam's eyes widened. "I-I did," he admitted, surprised.

"You always did remind me of him, at least during those days," Donna said dreamily. "I had thought he was a pig before and he proved himself a pig afterwards but…I never understood until you went leaping."

"You were never th-" Al started to say.

"Al!" Sam cut him off.

"What?" Al asked innocently.

Sam turned to look at his beautiful daughter. "You look just like your mother."

Sammy Jo smiled wryly at him. "I might as well since I inherited so much from you."

"She's taken to calling Ziggy her big sister since she found out," Donna informed him. "Despite the fact that Ziggy was created well after the 1960s."

"That is true," Sammy Jo acknowledged. "But since Dr. Beckett here is my father and he was, what, thirteen when I was conceived and my mother never knew, I must have been conceived after Dr. Beckett started leaping. Ziggy was built before he started leaping. Therefore, Ziggy's older."

"The timeline was changed after Ziggy was built, yes," Al agreed. The three of them sounded like they had had this argument many times before. Sam wondered what other stupid little everyday details he had missed. "But ultimately, in our present timeline you are years older than Ziggy."

"Ziggy remembers the other timelines," Sammy Jo pointed out. "Did the person talking about the budget really change in the middle of a sentence?"

Al nodded gravely. "Good thing, too, because he was about to cut us off."

"Project Quantum Leap has always been well-funded," Donna protested.

Al rolled his eyes. "Yeah, this timeline."

"I swear," Donna said, shaking her head. "I never know if I should take you seriously or not."

"That is a common problem," Sam remarked.

"I think that it is obvious when I'm being serious or not," Al announced.

Sam laughed. "Well, hopefully you would."

Sammy Jo was staring hungrily at him.

"What?" Sam asked, self-consciously.

She just smiled at him. "Oh, nothing. I just can't believe that you're back, Dr. Beckett."

Sam winced. "Do you have to call me that? I am your father, after all."

"This is the first actual conversation we've ever had," Sammy Jo pointed out. "I think it's a bit early for that."

"We've spoken before!" Sam protested. Not often but he'd been there when they'd hired her and occasionally spoke to her in the hall.

"Ah, but did we?" Sammy Jo asked, raising an eyebrow. "I remember it happening and maybe you do, too. Still, since I didn't even exist until after you were gone, technically it never happened."

"I think you're missing the point of alternate timelines," Al said, sounding a little annoyed. Sam knew why, too. He wasn't going to appreciate an implication that his life with Beth had never happened. Sam wondered if anybody besides him and Ziggy knew about what had originally happened. Probably not. Al did have his pride, after all, and Beth would be devastated to know that she gave up on him too soon.

Sammy Jo crossed her arms. "You interpret alternate timelines your way and I'll interpret them my way."

Donna distracted him by kissing him again.

He looked questioningly up at her.

"Oh, no particular reason," she said, answering his unspoken question. "Just that I've only gotten a chance to do that once in the last six years. I can't even begin to imagine how long it will be before I feel that we've adequately made up for you being gone for so long."

Sam could feel a goofy grin forming on his face. "I think I can live with that."

Donna playfully rolled her eyes. "Hardly a surprise, Dr. Beckett. It is an experiment, after all."

"Experiments have more than one trial," Sam pointed out.

Donna's smile widened. "Oh, I'm well aware. And the more trials the better."

"Thank you," Sam said abruptly.

Donna looked confused. "For what?"

"You're still here," Sam replied.

Donna's confusion didn't abate. "It's only 1:30. We didn't clock out that early the day before our wedding."

"No, I mean…for still being here. With me," Sam amended. "Thank you. I wasn't sure…I wanted to be, don't get me wrong, but it is a lot to ask. You didn't even know if I'd ever make it home."

Donna took his hand in hers and placed it over her heart. "I knew."

"Six years, Donna, and I didn't even remember you for most of it," Sam continued, unable to meet her eyes. He might never have returned if he hadn't remembered. "All those women…and Sammy Jo!"

"Sam, don't you dare apologize to me for that brilliant young woman!" Donna exclaimed.

"That's not exactly the reaction I was expecting," Sam admitted. "Though I wasn't apologizing, exactly. I just…"

"I know," Donna said simply. "And Sammy Jo and I bonded after she figured out who she was."

"How did she figure it out?" Sam wondered.

Donna shrugged. "I don't know how she first got suspicious, maybe it was because of her total recall ability and status as once-in-a-generation mind and your matching accomplishments. What I do know is that one day she just asked Ziggy if she was her big sister. Ziggy said yes."

"Oh, boy," Sam said, removing his hand from Donna's so he could run it through his hair.

"Be glad you weren't there that day," Donna advised.

"Oh, believe me, I am," Sam assured her. He looked at her again with something like awe. "Six years, Donna."

"Well," Donna said slyly, glancing at Al. "Some people were very supportive."

"Oh, they were, were they?" Sam asked, also looking Al's way.

Donna nodded anyway. "Whenever he thought I was feeling the pressure he came over and provided some, uh, friendly encouragement."

"What kind of 'friendly encouragement'?" Sam asked suspiciously.

"Uh-uh, Donna, remember we signed a non-disclosure agreement!" Al exclaimed, tuning back into their conversation.

"I know, I know," Donna assured him, raising her hands in a placating gesture.

"Do I even want to know?" Sam asked rhetorically.

"No, you really don't," Sammy Jo assured him.

Sam threw his hands in the air. "So even you know!"

"I was a witness," Sammy Jo explained. "All good contracts have witnesses."

"Whether the law requires them to or not," Al muttered.

Sam had already been feeling content but a great wave of bliss came over him just then as it hit him, really hit him, that he'd come home and would be staying there. Better be staying there.

"Oh, I missed you all so much!" Sam exclaimed suddenly.

"Me?" Al asked. "You saw me every day you were in a leap."

"Me?" Donna asked. "You didn't even remember me."

"Me?" Sammy Jo asked. "As far as I can tell, we only met briefly when I was eleven."

"All of you," Sam insisted fondly.

"That's real good, Sam," Al said, exchanging a glance with the others, "because after just what we all went through fixing things after that little stunt of yours, we are never letting you out of our sight again."

"Ever," Sammy Jo added emphatically.

"Though maybe just one of us will be fine if need be," Donna said meaningfully.

Al sighed in mock-disappointment. "As you wish."

"Careful," Donna cautioned with a teasing grin, "Beth will get jealous if she hears that you've been saying that to other girls."

"Ah, but see, there's 'As you wish' and then there's 'As you wish'," Al explained.

"Can anybody explain to me what's going on?" Sam asked.

"Princess Bride," Sammy Jo explained. "And that came out in 1987 so you really have no excuse."

"My excuse is that it's called 'Princess Bride'," Sam countered.

"Give me a week," Al declared.

Donna laughed. "Give me two days."

"That's not fair," Al protested. "You have certain advantages to help your cause that I don't."

"All's fair," Donna replied.

"So it sounds like I've got one to three stalkers from now on," Sam said, shaking his head in amusement. "I can live with that."

"For now, maybe," Sammy Jo agreed. "Give us time."

"Oh, is that a challenge?" Al asked eagerly. "Count me in."

"And me," Donna quickly added.

Sam's face was beginning to hurt from all the smiling he was doing and he didn't think that he'd ever been this happy. And if these three never wanted to leave his side again, well there were worse fates. Many, many worse fates – some he had even helped avert over the years.

"Challenge accepted."

It's the End so Review Please!