"Carter, if you could hang back for a moment?"
Sam frowned, but nodded, waving Daniel and Teal'c out of the room. "I'll catch up with you guys later."
She was a little frustrated with Jack for insisting they wait to go off-world until SG-3 could be scheduled to go along with them, but this was the first mission SG-1 had been assigned since Colonel O'Neill's promotion to general and the week-long lockdown that had come with Anubis' incorporeal visit, so she'd been trying not to take it personally. It would be nice if there was another explanation, though.
Jack's eyes tracked to the door, watching as the others left, then gestured impatiently when the new administrative assistant hung back, fingering the folder in his hands as though wondering if he'd missed something.
"Sir?" Gilmor gave him a puzzled look.
"Didn't you say SG-5 and the trade representatives were here? Go on; I'll be right there."
"But sir, the schedule...."
Jack made a shooing motion. "This'll just take a moment, I promise. I'll catch right up."
The new guy frowned, but nodded and left, closing the door behind him, leaving Sam frowning at her former team lead and new commanding officer. "What's going on, sir? If you have concerns about my ability to lead the team...."
"No, it's not that. Exactly." Jack waved that concern away, studying her with a slightly furrowed brow. "I have to admit, when I agreed to sticking with a three man team, I wasn't really thinking about the fact that there would only be... three of you."
Sam considered that, parsing the disgruntled look on his face. She'd known Jack O'Neill for going on eight years now, and knew what he looked like when he had news to impart that he wasn't yet sure about himself. "You were thinking that if you did agree to add anyone to the team, political pressure meant it was likely to end up someone like Colonel Vaselov, with an impressive military record and more time in rank than I have," she said slowly, thinking it through. "You wouldn't be able to justify adding a junior officer or another civilian instead."
"It nearly did come to that when we lost Daniel," Jack admitted with a shrug. "Luckily-- depending on how you look at it-- we happened to have a neutral alternative on hand, and a strong argument presented on his behalf. The Russians ended up getting a new team of their own instead, and we went on more or less the way we had before. Just... with Daniel 2.0 for awhile, instead of the original model."
Sam's brain froze up for a moment as she tried to connect the dots, and came up with a certain sixteen-year-old who was supposed to be attending high school at the moment. "You're not talking about adding your clone to the team, are you?"
"Ugh, no. I wasn't suggesting the literal O'Neill 2.0, though from what Hammond has to say, the President's suggestion isn't all that far off. Personality-wise, anyway. It's ether her or status quo apparently, so. Walter said she's supposed to arrive this afternoon; give her a look-over, and SG-3 will play escort tomorrow, and then we'll see what we see, all right?"
Sam thought she did see; there was something odd about the specialist that he didn't want Gilmor looking too closely at-- and probably reporting back to someone outside the base about-- before Jack had a chance to assess her himself, both directly and by proxy through SG-1. "Okay," she nodded. "I'll tell the others. Who is she, exactly?"
Jack opened his mouth, then paused and gave her a tight smile that she also knew all too well: If I've gotta suffer, then I'm sharing the load. "Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. Fifteen hundred hours, Carter. Let me know how it goes."
And with that, he turned to follow Gilmor out the door himself, without even giving Sam a chance to retort. Leaving her to air her objections to an empty briefing room.
Some things really had changed since Jack's promotion... but some things really, really hadn't.
Sam sighed, then went to find Daniel and Teal'c and fill them in.
Two hours later, a small blonde woman turned away from the window overlooking the gateroom and lifted her eyebrows at the three of them.
"So... you're the ones who've been saving the world a lot," she said, giving them a bemused smile. "After talking to Riley, I was afraid you'd all turn out to be gung-ho types like his team, but this, I can do."
"I'm sorry?" Sam frowned slightly as she approached the woman, extending her hand. "We were told we'd be meeting someone here, but I'm afraid the general didn't give us your name."
This was the President's suggestion for filling the empty slot on SG-1? And someone Hammond thought of in the same breath as Jack? She wasn't one to judge by appearance, but young, petite, and stylish was not exactly a typical description for a member of the SGC.
The woman's smile widened, and it made her look even younger; not quite as much as Jack's clone, but probably of an age with the youngest lieutenants on base. "Not the first time someone's done that with me. He's the troublemaking type, isn't he? I think they get a kick out of other people's reactions. Hi, I'm Buffy Summers."
"Buffy, as in...?" Daniel put in, eyeing her like a member of a baffling offworld culture.
"As in not short for anything, raised in California, got tangled up in an ex-boyfriend's Army special project, my people were into a different kind of homeworld defense long before your little light-show over Antarctica, pleased to meet you, Buffy Summers. Wow." She made a face at herself. "That was almost Willow levels of babble. But yeah, that's why I'm here."
If she'd been part of a special project the President also knew about, that explained the connection... but still not her personally. "Pleased to meet you, Ms. Summers," she replied with a tight smile, shaking her hand. "I'm Colonel Samantha Carter."
"Oh, please, call me Buffy; I'm definitely not a Ms., it makes me want to look around for my mom. And you must be Dr. Jackson?"
"Daniel, yes." He shook her hand next, still eyeing her intently.
Buffy eyed him right back. "My, uh, mentor, Giles-- you'd probably know him as Dr. Giles, or Rupert?-- anyway, he had interesting things to say when I told him I'd be meeting you."
"Dr. Giles from the British Museum?" Daniel's eyebrows rose further. "Dare I ask... 'interesting'?"
She laughed. "Words like stubborn and idiosyncratic and egotistical might have been thrown around. But also lots of impressed Briticisms; please don't ask me to repeat them."
"Maybe you can put me in touch with him instead?" Daniel looked intrigued. "He said some things the last time we got into a discussion that... perhaps have a different complexion, in light of a protégée of his being sent here."
"Sure, no prob," she replied brightly, then turned last to Teal'c. "And you, big guy? No offense, but I thought there were supposed to be two civilians already on this team, and so far? Zero for three."
He eyed her assessingly a moment, letting her see he was doing it, then gave her a bow. "I am Teal'c, former First Prime of Apophis," he said. "But it is true, I hold no rank among the Tau'ri."
"Good, 'cause neither do I," she said, an equally speculative glint in her eye. "Maybe we can spar later on?"
She seemed entirely serious about that, despite the utter disparity between their heights and physical mass; and underneath her light-hearted conversation, her body language was... well, it did remind Sam of Jack, oddly enough. A predator under the disarming surface.
"Indeed," Teal'c replied.
"There'll be time this evening to explore the gyms and other public areas of the base; though our first mission will be tomorrow morning at oh-nine hundred," Sam offered, curious now to watch that happen. "Usually there's a longer training period, but I think General O'Neill wanted you to get a taste of things before the president visits in a few days."
"Let me guess, some kind of milk run?" Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Uh, a simple recon mission, yes-- how'd you guess?"
"He'd be better off not trying; those are always the ones that do not pass Go, do not collect $200." Her eyes flicked to Sam again, then Teal'c, then Daniel; and Sam got the abrupt impression that she'd been evaluating them as much as they were evaluating her. "Then again, if somebody's gotta do it, might as well be the best, right?"
O'Neill 2.0, huh? Whatever happened, whether Buffy Summers ended up a long-term teammate or not, Sam doubted this mission was going to be boring.
"Welcome to SG-1," she replied with a crooked smile. "I think you're going to fit right in."