Things get dicey in the first regular episode, "The Enemy Within," as only two female characters speak: Sam Carter, and the masked surgical nurse whose complete dialogue consists of two lines: "Scalpel" and "Large clamp", if I'm not mistaken. I couldn't think of a way to get Sam talking with this unnamed and mostly-unseen nurse about something other than the (male) patient, Kawalsky, so I decided to make use of a woman who showed up in the episode (and later showed up in another) but never got to speak: Colonel Kennedy's aide.
(She's there between Teal'c and Colonel Kennedy--for those who have not rewatched the episode in the last few weeks, Colonel Kennedy was there to decide Teal'c's fate, and nearly succeeded in dragging him off to be an NID research subject; his aide's biggest moment in the spotlight was when Jack insisted upon spelling Teal'c's name, apostrophe and all, for her.)
Gen. Sam. During "The Enemy Within."
942 words. PG.
Beta thanks to splash_the_cat
Not for the first time, Sam cursed the fact that dress blues did not include name tape.
The cafeteria on Level 22 had been slowly ramping up service now that the Stargate program was looking to have a permanent and growing presence; if you wanted to eat during an actual mealtime, you didn't have to go up past Level 11 anymore. Now was evidently not a mealtime--the place was half-lit and deserted--but there was coffee, and that was enough for Sam.
She poured her cup and turned to look for a quiet corner to sit in, and only then realized that the room wasn't entirely deserted. Colonel Kennedy's aide was sitting at a table toward the back; she'd looked up and seen Sam, and she was smiling, though she remained seated. Sam could see the insignia on the aide's perfect dress blues--the woman was a captain, like Sam herself--and she decided they could probably forego saluting, so she didn't have to figure out which of them should be saluting which.
The aide said, "Captain Carter," in a mildly inviting tone, and then there was nothing for it but to cross the room and join her. Not for the first time, Sam cursed the fact that dress blues did not include name tape.
"Captain," she returned, forcing a smile of her own as she walked over. She didn't think they'd been introduced, so maybe it was just that Sam should have known the name of Colonel Kennedy's staff--or maybe it was just that the woman had read the reports and thus knew Sam's name, and it would have been perfectly appropriate to ask for hers. Walking across the cafeteria, smiling, and carrying her coffee all at once was nearly the limit of Sam's calculating ability, at this point; she didn't have much left over for awkward social negotiation with fellow officers. She'd slept maybe three nights of the last six, trying to help Daniel with the refugees and working out how to get the gate dialing computer to compensate for interstellar drift.
The math and physics were pretty straightforward, but the gate computer's dialing program was patches built on patches. She'd meant to clean up the code, once she got it working, and then she'd been off to DC, and now it had been a solid two minutes and Sam was still standing by the table. The captain whose name she didn't know was drinking coffee and reading a file, politely ignoring her.
Sam shook her head and took a fortifying sip of her coffee before she finally sat down. There was nothing else to do now--well, maybe she should be sleeping, but that would require heavy drugs at this point, and cost a lot of time, so coffee seemed more efficient. Colonel O'Neill was sitting with Kawalsky, waiting for him to wake, and Teal'c was back in a cell, waiting for whatever Colonel Kennedy would decide to do with him, and Daniel had gone to sit quietly in the dark somewhere without dead bodies, and Sam...
Sam was drinking coffee next to, if not quite with, Colonel Kennedy's aide.
The captain looked up from her file, glancing sharply from the ceiling to the walls to the door. Sam took a quick sip of coffee as she felt herself snap to proper alertness. "Captain, you're not claustrophobic, are you?"
It hit people at weird moments--somebody would work down here for a week before losing it completely because they couldn't get topside fast enough.
The captain looked over at Sam, blinked once behind her glasses like she didn't understand the question, and then shook her head.
"Oh, no. No. It's just that every time I think I've sat in on an inquiry about the most insane thing we could possibly be doing under a classification above top secret, I sit in another one, and the bottom drops out."
Sam grinned. "It's amazing--have you seen the wormhole engage yet? It's incredible, theoretical physics becoming actual right in front of your eyes. And then you step through and--you really don't feel anything, it's really just like stepping through a doorway, except for the freezing cold. There's something strange going on with inertia, too--we don't step out of the gate with the same momentum as we step in, I'm going to have to start gathering data and see if we can correct for that somehow..."
"And then it's all aliens and gunfights," the captain interposed firmly, and it finally penetrated Sam's brain that insane might not have been an expression of enthusiasm.
"Hey," Sam said sharply, "the Stargate project is the greatest area of scientific inquiry the world will ever--"
"The project is not in question," the captain sighed, looking down at the file. "Or at least it's safely above my pay grade. Thank God."
Sam let her mouth shut, and took another look at the tired woman sitting alone, drinking her coffee and staring sightlessly at a file. A few years on without a promotion, a more severe haircut--she could be Sam herself back at the Pentagon. She could be Sam a week ago, sent out to the Mountain and seconded to some Colonel for some crazy project. Except Sam got to see the universe, and this woman... she just got to see the paperwork.
Sam tried to think of something to say, to make the captain understand--and then the alarms went off and before she could consider sitting out a crisis for once, she was on her feet. The captain whose name she didn't know called out something behind her, but Sam was in a hurry to find out what had gone wrong now, and never heard what she said.