Warning for all my readers who don't expect a S/J fic from me - this idea wouldn't leave until I wrote it. I will get back to my normal Jack centered gen fic, especially General Jack, in a few days now I have this out of my system.
Wives and Other Follies
"Have you found the report I was looking for, Lieutenant?"
Jessica O'Brien started and glanced up guiltily, realising far too late that her boss was standing alongside her desk, looking down at the magazine she had open to the movie star gossip page.
How in the heck did he do that? After all these years she thought she had honed her hearing to the point where she could hear a superior officer's footsteps at twenty yards. But, no – this latest in a long line of bosses got her every time. She would have thought he did it on purpose, perhaps as a joke, if it wasn't for the look of exasperation he currently had on his face.
She pulled the bulky file sitting in her in tray towards her, covering the magazine in the process.
"It just arrived from Records, sir. I was about to bring it in." She waved desperately at her coffee cup. "As soon as I'd finished my morning break." Then she pretended not to notice the piercing glance that turned to look at the clock on the wall before hovering over the dregs of obviously cold coffee in the flower covered mug.
"I'll take it now, Lieutenant. I need it for the meeting."
There wasn't the glimmer of a smile from the normally friendly officer. Jessica held the file out and watched as the general placed it in his briefcase before leaving the office. She sighed, moving the computer mouse and opening the Word document she had been working on, the magazine abandoned. The juicy gossip about the rich and famous would just have to wait until lunchtime.
An hour later the pile of completed letters in the general's in tray had grown impressively and Jessica allowed herself a tiny smirk of satisfaction at the thought of his face when he saw how many he'd have to read and sign. She wasn't vindictive, she actually liked her new boss, but she was human and she didn't like being caught goofing off any more than the next person.
The general's meeting had another thirty minutes or so to run, just time for a much needed coffee and a quick read before she was due to go on her lunch break – it worked out well.
Jessica had just managed to find the page she had been reading when she had been so rudely expected to work when the phone rang. She noted that it was an outside call and schooled her voice into a suitably pleasant tone.
"Good morning, Homeworld Security."
The voice on the other end of the line was slightly tentative.
"May I speak with General O'Neill?"
"He is out of the office at the moment, may I ask who's calling?"
There was a small hesitation. "I normally get straight through to his voice mail when he isn't at his desk."
"This is his secretary, ma'am. If you'd like to leave him a message I'll see that he gets it." Jessica picked up a pen, wishing that the general had remembered to activate his voice mail before he left, then she wouldn't have to take messages when she had far better things to do. She waited, the pause growing longer.
"This is his wife. Could you ask him to call me on my cell when he gets back?"
Jessica straightened. "I'll give him the message as soon as he returns, Mrs O'Neill." As she spoke she mentally reviewed her previous words and breathed a sigh of relief. She had been professional and polite.
A brief farewell and Jessica turned back to the glossy goings on in Hollywood, but she soon found her attention wandering. She'd known the newly appointed general was married - in fact her fellow secretaries had done nothing but talk about O'Neill's private life since he had arrived in Washington. Not that there was much to discuss – they'd all agreed that the man was an absolute hunk but the fact that he was only recently married had put a serious dampener on their enjoyment. Their only consolation was based on the few snippets of information they could find out about him, which included the fact that although it was O'Neill's second marriage it was his wife's first. Jessica and her cronies had decided that the new Mrs O'Neill must be one of those quiet, mousey women that had nothing going for her except an ability to cook and clean.
Jessica had checked the general's desk for photos, but it had been sadly lacking in any personal touches, leading the gossip around the water cooler to head towards an image of a slightly overweight woman in her late forties – perhaps a member of the historical society in the general's old town, or even, and this was Jessica's idea, one of the librarians at the local library. General O'Neill always seemed to have a book handy to pick up in quiet moments when Jessica brought him his coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. Yes, they agreed that the local librarian was the most likely candidate for Mrs O'Neill's previous career before becoming an Air Force wife.
For a second Jessica almost felt sorry for the woman, then commonsense prevailed as the thought of what it must be like to have a man like General O'Neill for a husband. Nope – she wasn't sorry for the woman at all.
Jessica closed the magazine and, tucking it under her arm, headed for the cafeteria, the few words she had exchanged with the general's wife changing into a long, revealing conversation as she walked.
At least there was something new to tell the girls today.
Jason Vesland looked up from the recent copy of 'Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy' and stared in astonishment at the woman seated nearby. Doctor Carter wasn't normally given to profanity, in fact Jason thought this was the first time he had seen her be anything other than professional.
"Sorry." The woman in question gave a small and slightly embarrassed smile of apology as she placed her cell on the table alongside her.
"Is there something wrong?" Jason felt compelled to ask the question, even though he knew the answer he would receive.
"No, nothing important." Then to Jason's surprise she continued, "I was trying to reach my husband to let him know why I was late getting into town, but he's in a meeting."
"Ah." Jason thought for a second, knowing that something more was probably expected of him in response, but he couldn't for the life of him think of anything else to say. He decided on a nod and a smile, hoping they would suffice, and then went back to his reading.
A few more minutes passed. Jason finished his swiss cheese on rye, his attention completely taken up with a very interesting article on a new method for judging the synchronization of the rotation of binary stars. Reaching without looking for his coffee, he managed to catch the edge of the cup and end up with a flood of lukewarm brown liquid completely soaking the magazine. He leapt up, narrowly avoiding the spill as it ran off the table edge and on to the carpet.
"Oh, hell! The cleaners are going to be so unimpressed." He stared in consternation at the brown stain. The Institute had only been fitted out in its premises for a month and everything was new, and, surprising for a government organisation, cheerfully decorated in bright colors.
The stain stared up at him accusingly from its smart blue and green surroundings.
"Don't stress, Doctor Vesland, it was bound to happen eventually." Samantha Carter crouched and began patting at the patch with a handful of paper towels. "Here, I grabbed these from the kitchen. You deal with the table and I'll see what I can do about the carpet."
Working together the two scientists managed to do a fairly good job of damage control. The dripping magazine was deposited in the trash, the table was spotless and even the stain on the carpet was reduced to an almost unnoticeable darker shade in the mass of color.
Finally Jason stepped back, wiping his hands on one of few remaining towels. "Thanks so much, Doctor Carter." He glanced at his watch. "But I've taken up all of your break. We've got a team meeting in five minutes and you haven't even finished your lunch." He nodded towards the abandoned container on the other's table, an apple and a yogurt clearly visible.
The woman smiled back at him. "Please call me Sam." He smiled in return and muttered a "Jason."
Doctor Carter continued speaking as she gathered up her belongings, "It's okay, Jason. I had plenty to eat on the plane. I was meant to be meeting my husband for lunch but I wasn't able to confirm details."
"Won't he be worried?" Jason rarely met his own wife during a work day but he could imagine how concerned he'd be if they had made arrangements and he didn't hear from her.
Sam shook her head. "No, I left a message for him to call me, so he knows there's no problem. He's used to my rather hectic schedule recently."
As they waited for the elevator Jason reviewed what he knew about his new colleague. Not much really, except that she was taking an extended leave of absence from the military establishment from which the Institute was getting most of their new research material, although she still had some overlapping duties as liaison with the base. He had heard the guys talking, he could hardly miss it considering the furore Carter's arrival had caused, and although he couldn't say he had been part of the speculation he couldn't help himself listening. Apparently she was married – that had hardly been a surprise considering her wedding ring – but something she said had led the guys to the conclusion that the marriage was recent. He seemed to remember some talk of an overheard conversation between Sam and one of her few female colleagues. Whether it was from the same source or another one, they had also found out that her husband was much older than Sam, and some sort of office worker here in Washington. His mind flittered across the information, picturing a balding, somewhat boring man, but then he dismissed the image with a mental shake. What did it matter who Samantha Carter choose to marry. It didn't affect her ability to get the best results from her team, so she could set up house with the seven dwarves for all he cared, with Snow White thrown in as an added extra.
Jason shifted uncomfortably, the mental image he had just created causing him a measure of embarrassment. That was one daydream he wouldn't be sharing with the guys. No, no way. They were bad enough already. Sometimes Jason thought the scientists he worked with were worse than his wife when it came to gossip, and throw in a few ribald jokes and next thing Jason knew they would degenerate into infantile sniggering.
The ride up to their floor was short, and Jason soon found himself back at his desk searching hurriedly for the reports he needed for the meeting, Doctor Samantha Carter forgotten.