Jack walked through the archway leading out of the bar side of the watering hole the new specialist had picked, wondering if he'd heard the meeting time wrong. In his limited experience with Initiative types, they either had iron livers or had mastered the art of nursing a single drink for hours; if their jobs didn't always take them into over-21 territory directly, they tended to spend a lot of their free time there regardless, decompressing and trying to forget. And according to what he'd learned, Buffy Summers had been part of that crowd. Used to date the current guy in charge, as a matter of fact.
But no; there she was on the restaurant side, nursing a plate of nachos and what looked like an iced tea. Jack sighed, then slid onto the opposite bench seat in her booth, setting his pint glass down on the table.
"Summers," he said, nodding a greeting.
The pocket-sized blonde Hammond had 'suggested' to fill out his team, courtesy of the President's recommendation, looked up and gestured to her plate. "General O'Neill! Good timing. Help yourself to the nacho-ey goodness; I think my eyes were bigger than my oomph."
She did look a little weary around the edges. That was the kind of thing that happened, after the week they'd all had. But Jack didn't believe for a second that she couldn't finish the whole plate if she wanted. She was just being polite.
Considering he'd made very little effort to be polite back, that was probably a good sign. Jack reached for a cheese and beef-laden chip and crunched on it thoughtfully as he considered why they were there.
"Mmm. Good stuff. Almost as good as the scent of intrigue lingering in the air. Something you didn't want to bring up around Gilmor?" He lifted his eyebrows.
Summers made an amused noise and sipped at her drink before answering. She wasn't going to out-nonchalant him that way, but darned if she didn't have good game. "Whatever Gilmor's deal is, it's got nothing to do with why I'm there. But I figured you probably had a reason for not spilling the World Is Older Than You Know beans to your old team, so."
Oh, so they were finally going to talk about the way she'd reacted to Camulus when she and SG-1 had come hurtling back through the wormhole? Jack had been working up to faking the snake out that they were going to trade him back to Ba'al for SG-1, and the look on both her face and the Goa'uld's when she'd followed the rest of the team through the portal had been... memorable.
Or he supposed it could be about what had happened off Earth, on P2X-887; according to Sam, Summers was the sole reason they'd made it out of Anubis' ex-base of mazelike doom as quickly as they had, and for a woman who preferred melee weapons to P-90s, she'd taken down almost as many of Ba'al's ambush team as Teal'c had on their way back to the gate. Not what you might expect out of a woman who was maybe five foot four and a hundred pounds soaking wet.
"Maybe I don't trust them with the information," he suggested, mildly.
"Yeah, no, I've met your team," she said, flashing him a bright smile. It made the fine lines around her eyes crinkle up; they were almost the color of green BDUs.
Was she normally a smiling sort of person, then? Curiouser and curiouser. Definitely not what he'd been expecting of a supernatural powerhouse in miniature form.
"True," Jack conceded, smiling wryly back at her. "The base really isn't the best place for that sort of conversation. According to General Hammond, when he took over Homeworld and was made aware of the former project under Sunnydale, it had a lot of support in some unexpected places. Anyone recognizes your face, we can't do anything about that. But I'd just as soon not link you with the Initiative anyplace that's potentially on camera, or where someone might overhear. I only met Major Finn the once, but he was clear about the fact that the last thing your people need is more... interference."
"You met Riley?" Her eyes widened. "And he had something positive to say? I wondered, when the government guys reached out to Giles to recruit me for one of your teams. I wouldn't have thought he'd write me up as a team player."
Jack took a sip of his beer, thinking, then decided it couldn't hurt to sound Summers out on that, either. "I didn't talk to him about you directly. I was evaluating the teams to report back to Homeworld. But there was an interesting comment from him, in your file. Said he might not always agree with your decisions-- but he knew you'd learned how to make the tough calls."
The last vestiges of her smile faded at that; though she looked more distantly sad than angry. "Now, that I believe. Someone must have told him who walked away from Sunnydale-- and who didn't."
The tone of her voice said it wouldn't do any good to push her on it further; ah, well. That was something he'd have to look into more, later. "Anyway. Regardless of how you got here-- here you are. Kicking Jaffa ass. Snarling in Goa'ulds' faces. And putting our former First Prime into the mat, from what I hear?"
Summers relaxed a little as he veered away from the topic of her past, animated again as she defended Teal'c. "To be fair-- he did knock me into the wall first. He's got some moves I've never seen before; I'd love to spar with him more on a regular basis."
"I'm sure he'd love that," Jack replied, snagging another chip. Teal'c didn't exactly have very many sparring partners on his level around here, and somehow he doubted Summers did either. "Good to hear you're starting to bond with the team. But I'd rather hear more about these Older Than You Know beans before we get into that. Preferably before we end up getting served chili surprise."
"Ooh, good one," she snorted. "I'll have to remember that. Really, though, it's not much? I just wasn't expecting it to be so obvious that these Gold guys don't have a human soul."
"You could tell?" That raised his eyebrows again; sure, they had Sam and Teal'c, who by virtue of their past involvements with symbiotes could detect the naquadah in a current host's blood, but Buffy had taken one look at Camulus and known without any such history. If that was something that could be taught, or at the very least taught how to detect, it would be worth each and every moment of frustration he'd suffered since taking over the big chair at the Mountain.
She nodded, solemnly. "And the sense-y thing isn't really something I'm good at, for a Slayer; so if I can tell, it would be super-obvious to anything else supernatural. I don't know if it's because he's an older one, or because the host is so suppressed, but I almost couldn't tell there was anything human about him at all; it was all buried under this-- gross, oily, pushing-away feeling. Like the wrong ends of a magnet facing each other." She gave a delicate shudder.
"That's... definitely something worth leaving the Mountain for," Jack replied, taking another heavily-laden chip. "We'll have to test you against a Tok'ra, and a Jaffa with a symbiote, see if it is the host thing. If you can do that reliably... huh. Think any of your other friends might want a job?"
"That probably depends on how my job works out," Summers reminded him, yawning. "I've only been here... how many days has it been, again?"
"Ask me tomorrow, after the President leaves-- and hopefully takes Gilmor with him," he said. Then he narrowed his eyes. Sense-y thing; pushing-away feeling, like? "You really are the me, aren't you? In your group. After I read your file, I thought they got it wrong, and you were the Teal'c; the badass type fighting for a cause. But you're not; you're the me."
She tilted her head, furrowing her brow at him. "Huh, that's weird. I heard Colonel Carter say something to Dr. Jackson about O'Neill two-point-oh, earlier, too. But she didn't explain what she meant."
Yeah, no; he wasn't in the mood anymore. "Oh, you know what she meant, if I'm right. But if I am-- then why did you take Hammond up on it? You must've had other responsibilities."
She frowned, evaluating him right back, then relaxed a little, shrugging. "You'd be surprised, actually; I'm better at my actual Slay-job than the bureaucracy thing, and there's other people who can do that better than I can. But if you want the woo, bean-spilling answer...."
"Well?" Jack gestured impatiently. Really, he got enough of this kind of circumlocution from Daniel.
"Visions," Summers concluded, with a wry smile and another sip of her tea.
"Visions. Really," he said, flatly. Great. He knew better than to discount them, even without the woo stuff; the Ancients had had more than one way to induce something like that. "What kind of visions?"
"Flame-y walls of death? Echoey condescending voices sneering about unbelievers? I figured it was your snakey guys until I met Camulus, but...." She wrinkled her nose. "I'm thinking now, probably not?"
Great; more godly types waiting in the wings, that was just what they needed. Jack could feel the headache worsening already. "Well, that's... just all kinds of ominous," he said, draining off the last of his beer. "Welcome to the SGC, then, Ms. Summers."
"I passed my audit, then?" She perked up, smirking at him. "...And how's yours going?"
"You're going to give me so many headaches, aren't you," he replied, shaking a finger at her. No one was supposed to know that, not even-- officially-- him. Hammond was going to give him so much crap the next time they talked.
"Depends. Is it a day ending in 'y'?" she replied, cheekily.
Jack snorted, then signaled the nearest waiter. "Just so you know, my next beer's going on your bill."