The bell over the door tinkled as a group of men and women entered the Pie Hole.
"All I know is that they said a team had already been there. Everything was already packed and had been collected and that we were supposed to come here. And if I'm here, I might as well sample the local delicacies," the tall, grey-haired man said to the blonde woman, who promptly rolled her eyes. "Don't you agree, T?"
"Indeed," said the mountainous black man. "I have read many wonderful things about the cup pies served in this eatery and am anxious to try them." He turned and took a seat in the nearest booth, watching as the rest of the group slid in as well.
"Hiya," the diminutive blonde dynamo that was Olive Snook said as she approached the table. "What can I get for you this fine day?"
"I require cup pies," the man who reminded Olive of an even larger version of Emerson Cod declared.
"Ooh, which kind are you going to try, muscles?" the black-haired woman seated next to him asked.
"All of them," he replied succinctly.
Olive looked at him in shock for a moment before her training kicked in and she regained her composure. "What about the rest of you?"
"Do you have any chocolate pie?" the woman asked.
"How does our world-famous quadruple choc-tacular pie sound?" Olive asked with pride.
"Wonderful!" the woman exclaimed. "I'll take one."
"A slice for the lady it is. And for you, sir?" she asked the brown-haired man seated next to her.
"Not a slice," the woman interrupted. "The whole thing."
Olive looked at the trim woman again in shock.
"I'll have a cup of joe," the man on the end said.
"Me too," said the grey-haired man.
"How about today's special, our coffee-flavored Pie au Café instead?" Olive asked them.
The first man shook his head and replied, "No thanks, Ma'am. Just the coffee."
"Sounds good to me," the older man replied when Olive turned towards him. "I'll have both. And I'll take a piece of that rhubarb pie sitting on the counter and smelling oh-so-delicious."
"Jack!" the blonde next to him objected.
He gave her his best innocent eyes in return. When she frowned, he put on a pair of puppy dog eyes that Olive thought would have melted even the hardest heart. The woman sighed and finally nodded.
"Sam'll have a slice of Vala's chocolate pie," the man added.
The growl from the raven-haired woman caused Olive to look askance at her. For a second, she could have sworn the woman's eyes actually flashed as she glared daggers at the man.
Jack quickly raised his hands in surrender. "OK, bring Sam her own slice," he amended his previous order as he handed a credit card to Olive.
Olive took a look at the card and then replied "Coming right up, Mr. O'Neill."
"General," Jack responded without thinking about it.
Olive snapped off an attempt at a salute as she turned to fetch their desserts. "Coming right up, General O'Neill, sir."
"How come I'm not allowed to dress like that on your world?" Vala asked after Olive had gone into the kitchen.
"Not now, Vala," Cameron hissed, unwilling to have this argument again, especially in public.
Vala started to pout and turned to Teal'c for backup. She was met with nothing but his usual stony face. Before she could plead further for support, Olive returned with their servings of pie and coffee.
"Is it just me, or does this seem a little… off?" Jack asked after a few bites of his rhubarb pie.
"Indeed, O'Neill, there is something disquieting about these desserts," Teal'c replied as he polished off his first cup pie. "They are delicious, but I also sense that there is something peculiar about them."
Vala looked up from where she was practically inhaling her second slice of her pie, unmindful of the dollop of chocolate whipped cream on the end of her nose. "If there's something wrong, I don't care. This pie is divine! I'm sure it would be worth its weight in weapons-grade naquadah…"
Cam shook his head, but didn't say anything.
A few minutes later, they saw a shadow cross the table as an abnormally tall and thin man stepped into the light. "How is everything?" Ned asked.
"Wonderful!" Vala exclaimed through a mouth full of her pie, earning her a jab in the ribs from Colonel Mitchell.
Ned smiled. "I'm glad you're enjoying my pies."
"Yeah, they're great," Jack added, "But there's something that just feels… wrong… about them."
A panicked look quickly crossed Ned's face.
He was rescued a moment later by Chuck, who came up to stand beside him. "Don't worry, Ned. They'll understand. In fact, let me introduce everyone. On the left, we have: Teal'c of Chulak; Vala Mal Doran, space pirate extraordinaire; Colonel Cameron Mitchell; General Jack O'Neill; and Colonel Sam Carter. SG-1, this is Ned, and I'm Charlotte Charles, but you can call me Chuck."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow at the introduction. Vala preened over hers. Everyone else stared at her in shock.
"I think we need a little more privacy so we can talk more freely," she said as everyone continued to stare at her. Looking around and noticing that there were no other customers, Chuck turned to Ned and squeezed his hand. "Send Olive home and we'll close for a while."
"Are you sure?" he questioned.
"Yes. Now go," she said, giving him a little shove.
"Alright, what's going on?" Jack demanded as Ned turned and left to try to convince Olive to head up to her apartment.
"I'll explain everything soon. Let's wait for Ned first. In the meantime, can I offer anyone something more? Coffee, another slice of pie? It's on the house," she said.
"I'll take another cup of coffee, ma'am, and a slice of lemon meringue, if you've got some," Cam said.
She gave him a bright smile. "Coming right up!" she said as she returned to the kitchen.
Jack watched as Ned finally ushered a protesting Olive out the door and flipped the sign to Closed. Ned took a quick, nervous glance at the table before also heading into the back room.
"OK, something weird's definitely going on around here and I intend to get to the bottom of it," he told the rest of his table.
"Indeed," Teal'c intoned.
A minute later, Ned and Chuck returned from the kitchen. Ned set the plate with the slice of pie in front of Cam while Chuck poured him a refill. She set the pot on the table behind them and pulled up 2 chairs to the booth. As she and Ned took a seat, Jack started in on them again.
"Would you care to tell me what's going on now?" he loudly demanded.
"I think I can answer that," came a very familiar voice from the opening front door.
Before he could continue, a former space pirate had vaulted over the back of the booth and wrapped herself around the man. "Daniel!" she yelled in relief just before she kissed him hungrily.
"If I'd known I would get that response…" he said when his mouth was freed again. "Hi guys," he added with a cheerful wave.
And then Vala punched him. Hard.
"Ow!" he objected. "What was that for?"
"You scared me! I thought I'd lost you!" she cried as she buried her head in his embrace.
"You very nearly did," he honestly stated. "If it wasn't for Ned, I'd have been a goner for good."
"Ned?" came a chorus of disbelieving cries from around the table.
The Piemaker flinched at the loud voices. He gave a self-conscious half-smile. He felt Chuck reach over and put her hand comfortingly on his back and gave her a real smile.
"How?" Jack asked.
"He can bring things back to life with a touch," Chuck explained.
"Really?" Sam said, her eyes alight with excitement. She opened her mouth again but was cut off.
"It's not without its consequences," Chuck quickly interjected. "A second touch renders the life gone forever. He can also only bring a life back for 60 seconds. If they are not touched again, another matching life force is taken. For the fruits in your pies, a planter full of flowers was sacrificed. In order to bring me back to life, someone else had to die."
"He brought you back?" Cam asked.
"Yes, he did," she replied. "And someone else had to die to readjust the balance."
Vala blanched as she turned to look at Daniel. "So in order for Daniel to come back, someone else had to die?"
Chuck and Ned exchanged a glance. "We're not sure," Ned admitted. "We don't think so, though."
"Why not?" Jack asked.
"Because I ascended again before my minute was up and he could touch me dead again," Daniel answered.
"So, it's possible that an ascended being died, but we really don't know," Chuck added.
"Maybe we got lucky and Anubis is really gone forever?" Jack said hopefully.
"We may never know for sure," Daniel said with a sigh. He took a look at the booth and the seating arrangements before he spoke again. "Cam, can you move over to sit next to Sam before we continue? I don't think Vala's going to be letting go of me any time soon."
"Sure," Mitchell said as he got up and walked around the couple seated at the end of the table. After refilling his cup, he plopped down on the other bench. "It's good to have you back, Jackson."
"Thanks," he replied. "Anyway, I retook human form after I had ascended and came back here with Ned, Chuck and a private investigator named Emerson Cod who is still out searching for my murderer. On the way out of the morgue, though, I stumbled and fell into Ned. When I didn't go back to being dead, we were all quite surprised. Chuck also realized that if she could ascend then she could finally be free to touch Ned again."
"After we got back here and I checked in with General Landry, I helped Chuck to ascend. I ascended first and then gave her the knowledge necessary to do it herself so that the Others wouldn't prevent her from ascending. Apparently, she got some of my memories and knowledge in the process, which is how she knew all of you. As soon as she succeeded in ascending, we both retook human form. And a few hours later, you guys showed up."
"So let me get this straight," Jack said when Daniel finally paused. "Ned brought you back to life with a touch, you ascended, descended, found a second touch wouldn't kill you, ascended again, gave Miss Charles all of your knowledge, helped her ascend, and then both came back again."
"More or less, yes," Daniel agreed.
"And I'll bet the fact you violated your non-disclosure agreement by revealing government secrets never crossed your mind, did it?" he asked pointedly.
"Oh, come on, Jack!" Daniel objected. "They've been keeping their own secrets for so long that I'm sure they can keep ours, too. I didn't intentionally tell them anything about the SGC anyway. Besides, it was for true love. Can you honestly tell me that you wouldn't have done the same thing if you could never touch Sam again?"
Jack glared at Daniel but didn't say anything.
"That's what I thought," Daniel said triumphantly.
Sam decided it was time for a subject change. "Is there any way that we could study your ability, Ned? I'd love to know what exactly happens that lets you bring people back to life."
"It's no use, Colonel Carter," Chuck answered. "I have the knowledge of the ascended Ancients, and I still can't figure it out."
"But still, I'd like to try," Sam persisted.
"Wait, she doesn't have Swiss cheese memory like you did, Daniel?" Jack interjected.
"No. They let her keep all of her memories," Daniel whined.
"And my clothes," Chuck added with a mischievous grin.
Vala perked up, pulling her face out of the pie that she had resumed eating when she sat down. "They sent Daniel back naked again?"
"As the day he was born," Chuck answered with a giggle.
"How come I always miss the free shows?" Vala pouted.
Before anyone could respond, the doors to the café burst open and in walked Emerson Cod. He spotted the group seated around the booth and turned towards them. "Alright, I've solved your case," he bellowed as he approached. "Now where's my money?"
"Who did it?" Daniel asked curiously.
"This guy," Emerson said as he withdrew a photo from a pocket in his jacket. He slapped it down on the table. It was a still from a security camera showing a man dressed as a bellboy outside of Daniel's hotel room. He had a cart with a carafe of coffee that he appeared to be delivering. He was pouring a vial into the carafe as the picture was taken. Emerson brought out another couple photos showing the man's face clearly.
"Where can we find him?" Jack demanded.
"He was from a temp agency," Emerson replied. "They had two temps in today. One girl was from the Jolly Fats Wehawkin Employment Agency. The guy was from an agency called 'Trust Us Temps.'"
Jack rolled his eyes and pulled out his wallet, handing a couple bills to Teal'c. "Remind me to never again bet against the big guy," he told Sam, who barely stifled a chuckle.
Jack turned to Daniel. "So, they poisoned your coffee, huh? I told you that drinking all that coffee would kill you someday!"
"So, now that you have your information, when do I get my money?" Emerson persisted.
"I'll take this information back to the Pentagon and look into it," Jack replied. "They'll cut you a check after it's all been verified and the man has been found."
"So I still don't get my money?" Emerson complained. "This day just gets better and better."
"Meanwhile, we need to figure out what to do about Ned and Chuck," Jack continued, ignoring Emerson's aside.
"I'd like to do some tests on Ned," Sam said quickly. At his look of panic, she clarified her statement. "Non-invasive, I assure you. I'd just like to take readings of everything as you reanimate some things. We may not be able to find anything, but I'd like to at least try. As for Chuck, if she has all the knowledge of the Ancients, she could be a very valuable asset for us as a civilian consultant. Her knowledge of Ancient technology and their culture could prove invaluable!"
"I'd love to help and to learn everything I can about other cultures around the galaxy," Chuck said brightly.
Sam beamed at her.
"However, I don't want to uproot my life here," she added.
Sam's face fell.
"I think I have an idea, though," Chuck continued. Seeing as she had everyone's attention, she continued. "With a little help, I think I could build an Ancient transporter so I could work with you and still live here."
"Dead Girl's getting a job? Hallelujah!" Emerson cried.
"Well, this all sounds well and good, but I'll have to talk with the Joint Chiefs and the President," Jack said. "We'll let you know what they decide. Until then, you can't tell anyone about any of this."
"Oh, don't worry about me. I don't plan on telling anyone anything," Ned said forcefully. Chuck nodded in agreement.
"As long as I get my money, my lips will be sealed tighter than Fort Knox," Emerson added.
"Well, with that settled, I think it's time to go," Jack said, trying to usher the group to the door.
"Can I get one of those chocolate pies to go?" Vala asked as she got out of the booth.
"I'll go get one from the back," Ned replied.
While they waited, Chuck hugged Daniel, Sam and Vala. She shook hands with Jack and Cam and gave a perfect Jaffa arm grab to Teal'c.
Emerson just stood and looked gruff and disgruntled.
Finally, after a few minutes, the group from the SGC headed for their homes. As they exited the Pie Hole, they could hear Jack asking Daniel a question.
"Does Oma or someone else up there have a thing for you?"
"What makes you think that, Jack?" Daniel responded, confused.
"Well, why else would you keep getting sent back to us naked?"