Jackfic Fiction Archive Story

 

Wives and Other Follies

by Flatkatsi




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.

xoxoxoxoxo

"Damn."

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.

Until now.

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.

xoxoxoxoxo

Wives and Other Follies - Part 2

Beatrice Ritson tapped her pen lightly on the highly polished coffee table, ignoring the irritated look her friend gave her. She put a typed sheet, covered in various scribbles, on to the table between them. "This guest list is getting rather long."

"I admit it's a little more extensive than usual, but there are perfectly good reasons for that." Angela Greenburgh nodded in thanks as her maid placed a fresh pot of tea beside the mass of notes and papers. She leaned forward, a long red nail pointing at the offending list. "You've probably heard me speak of Ross's secretary, Linda?" At Beatrice's nod she continued. "Well, she was complaining that the junior ranks are never included in any of the various functions the Pentagon holds. He asked me to be sure they were invited."

"The junior ranks? You mean the secretaries and clerks?" Beatrice sat forward and was quiet for a moment as she poured herself another cup, then her face cleared. "What did Linda threaten Ross with?"

Angela smiled tightly. "Apparently she has been a little", she hesitated as if searching for a word, "Awkward. Hence the somewhat expanded invitation list. This cocktail party is the perfect event. It's just a meet and greet to welcome the staff of the Institute to Washington There won't be a lot of senior ranks there, just those connected to the relevant departments that deal with the Institute"

"Exactly how many secretaries and such are coming?"

"That's the beauty of this plan. The Institute staff are mainly male - scientists and the like, and quite a lot are unmarried." Angela laughed as she caught Beatrice's eye. "No surprises there. We'll point the secretaries at the scientists and see what happens."

"Maybe it will stop them gossiping about our new general."

"O'Neill?" Angela grimaced at Beatrice's nod. "Ross mentioned that too. He told me that the man can barely step out of his office without an audience, but General O'Neill seems completely oblivious to all the attention."

"Isn't he newly married? Oliver served with him in the Gulf and was a bit taken aback to find he had remarried. He and his first wife divorced after their son died about ten years ago and O'Neill threw himself into his work. Oliver only just caught up with him last year at some meetings here in Washington, but he said he still seemed pretty focused on the job."

"Well, the post of Head of Homeworld Security was quite coveted. Ross was hoping to be appointed to it when Hammond retired - he's got years of seniority on O'Neill, but O'Neill has some sort of `in' with the President." Angela gave another tight smile. "I can't say I was upset - I hardly see my husband at all as it is."

Placing her cup back onto its saucer, Beatrice picked up the invitation list again. "Why isn't General O'Neill's wife listed here? Is she unable to attend?"

"Oh, but she is. You're looking at the wrong list" Angela took a sheet from under the others and passed it over. "This is the Institute guest list - she's under `Doctor Samantha Carter' Delicious, isn't it."

"She's a scientist?" Beatrice stared in surprise at her friend. "That hardly seems to fit with what Oliver told me of O'Neill - I had the impression he was an action rather than words sort of soldier."

"It seems he met her at his last posting, something to do with NORAD. I think she may have even been military if I remember correctly, but I could be wrong about that." Angela's lips twitched. "Perhaps she was his assistant. Could have been an office romance."

Beatrice smiled back. "His assistant? You mean like Ross and Linda?"

Angela's amused expression changed to one of annoyance. "Very droll. Let's get back to work. We still have a lot of arrangements to finalise."

The two women bent to their task, General O'Neill and his new wife no longer a topic of conversation.

xoxoxoxoxo

Jack O'Neill grabbed his dress uniform jacket from the hanger, hurriedly slipping it on as he bent to tie his shoes.

"I'm really sorry about this, Sam."

"For the fourth time, I've told you it's okay. I understand." Sam waited for her husband to stand, before tugging his tie straight and dusting a few almost invisible specks off his right shoulder. "It isn't like you planned this. I just wish I was going with you."

Jack stroked a finger gently against her cheek. "I wish you were too. It shouldn't take too long, you won't even need to save me some dessert."

Sam moved a little closer, her arms snaking around Jack's waist. "How long before you leave?"

"Any minute now, unfortunately. Not that I don't appreciate the gesture, but..." he returned Sam's hug briefly before holding her at arm's length, grinning. "...dressed like that I don't think you'd want to..." The rest of his words were lost as a beam of white light picked him up and threw him away from Earth.

"Have fun, Jack." Sam whispered somewhat wistfully, before turning and heading for the bathroom, untying her robe as she walked.

A quick shower later and she was shuffling the clothes in her closet, muttering to herself. She surveyed the choices with little enthusiasm, only grateful it was a cocktail party she was attending, rather than a formal dinner. She was also perversely glad that she didn't have to wear her dress uniform. Although she was comfortable in it, Sam was well aware that it wasn't the most flattering of outfits, and she wasn't averse to showing her husband how well she could scrub up at times. She finally decided on a recent purchase - a plain black dress overlaid with a spidery weave of copper thread.

Sam finished her makeup just as the cab pulled up outside the house. She had cancelled the official car after the Asgard had requested Jack's presence as representative of Earth at a short emergency meeting of their High Council. She didn't feel comfortable using the car when he was being transported directly to the party. It was just as easy for her to catch a cab and a lot less conspicuous.

Sam grabbed her bag from the bed and hurried downstairs. She was actually looking forward to the evening. It would be the first chance she had to socialise with her colleagues, and the first opportunity to meet Jack's staff. It was the perfect icebreaker.

Assuming her husband made it back from a far distant galaxy in time for dessert.

xoxoxoxoxo

Wives and Other Follies - Part Three

"It seems to be going well." Beatrice Ritson surveyed the large room with pleasure, one eye on her husband and his group of friends. Most of the guests had arrived, and she was finally beginning to relax and enjoy herself. Oliver had hooked up with Ross Greenburgh almost as soon as they'd walk in; leaving her and Angela to make sure the evening ran like a well oiled clock. Of course the Pentagon did have people whose job it was to organise these affairs, but the little details needed a woman's touch and the two general's wives had plenty of experience in making sure things worked the way they wanted them to.

Angela Greenburgh nodded in response. "Has General O'Neill arrived? I'm interested to see what all the fuss is about."

"I don't think he has - I asked Oliver to let me know if he did." Beatrice caught her husband's eye and received a quick shake of the head. "He must have been delayed." She took a delicate bite of her canap, expertly balanced along with a glass of white wine and a small plate complete with napkin.

There was only one thing wrong with the scene before her - the plan to get the scientists and the secretaries together didn't seem to be working very well.

Angela spoke as if she had read Beatrice's mind. "Who is that woman?"

"I have absolutely no idea."

The two generals' wives watched as the woman in question laughed at something one of the circle of men around her had said - a circle they were displeased to see not only included the Institute's scientists, but even some of their own men. Major Davis was almost attached to the blonde's left arm, and to the surprise of both the women, General Vidrine didn't seem immune to her charms either. The normally staid officer was smiling broadly in response to her laughter. For a brief moment Beatrice thought the general must have told a joke, but dismissed the idea as ludicrous.

"She must be a staff member from the Institute." Angela raised one perfectly curved eyebrow. "Unless she's a wife."

"Well, if she is her husband isn't taking good care of her. The men are acting like bees around a honey pot."

"She is quite pretty I suppose - in a blonde sort of way."

"Couldn't possibly be a scientist."

Both women nodded in agreement, red and brunette hair moving in time with the motion.

xoxoxoxoxo

Sam couldn't deny it - she was thoroughly enjoying herself. She laughed at the punchline to General Vidrine's joke, and lowered her voice so that only the two men on either side of her could hear.

"You don't have to guard me you know."

"But we do." Paul Davis threw a glance at the senior officer opposite him, and qualified his statement. "At least I do. I have strict orders from General O'Neill not to leave your side until he arrives. You wouldn't want me to disobey a direct order, would you, Colonel?"

"No, of course not." Sam patted Paul on the arm and smiled before turning her attention to the general. "I know Jack can't have ordered you to watch me, sir, you outrank him. What's your excuse?"

"Why do I need an excuse to spend some time in the company of a beautiful woman?"

Sam grinned at Vidrine's gallant reply, but refused to let him off the hook so easily. "General?"

"Jack may have said something about making sure you weren't thrown to the wolves."

This time Sam laughed outright. "Wolves? I hardly think my work colleagues qualify as wolves."

"I don't think he meant your colleagues, Colonel. I think he had some of his own colleagues in mind." Paul Davis gave a quick nod of his head towards a group of men in Air Force blue. "I gather the news of your marriage to General O'Neill isn't common knowledge."

Sam thought for a moment. "We haven't exactly kept it a secret, but I suppose we haven't broadcast the fact we served together either."

"Most of the men in this room have no idea you are not only Doctor Samantha Carter, a scientist currently working with the Institute, but also Colonel O'Neill, wife of General Jack O'Neill." General Vidrine pointed out.

Sam nodded. "I suppose you're right." She grinned again. "It's like I have a secret identity."

"I think your secret identity is about to be blown, Colonel."

Sam looked in the direction Paul indicated, seeing her husband striding across the room towards them. "He's earlier than I expected." Then she had a wicked thought. "Sir." She quickly spoke to Vidrine. "Could you please ask Jack to wait a while before he joins me? I want to spend a little more time with my colleagues before he drags me away from them. You know what he's like with scientists."

The general muttered his agreement and headed off to waylay Jack. Sam turned to Paul Davis. "You don't need to guard me now, Major. How about you mingle a little?"

Major Davis took the order gracefully and moved away towards the buffet table, his hunger clearly getting the better of him. Sam caught Jack's eye and smiled the special smile she reserved just for him, before moving towards a group of Institute staff.

**********

Wives and Other Follies - Part Four

"Oh my giddy Aunt! Will you look at that." Linda's exclamation had Jessica O'Brien looking up from her plate in surprise.

"What?"

"Look at what's just come through the door."

Jessica peered around, completely unable to understand her friend's excitement. "I don't see anything."

"Then you must be blind. That is one fine looking man."

The light finally dawned, and Jessica couldn't help laughing. "Oh, you mean General O'Neill. I told you he was cute."

Linda turned a stunned glance towards the other woman. "That's your boss? He isn't just cute, he's. . ." She stopped, obviously at a loss for words.

The tall, lean, grey haired officer moved further into the room, one hand brushing his hair down as he walked.

"His wife isn't with him."

"Maybe she was too shy to come - you know what those librarians are like." The two women giggled, their laughter coming to a sudden halt as the general's head turned towards them.

"Lieutenant O'Brien." He nodded a greeting, and came to stand with them. "Nice dress."

"Thank you, sir." Jessica felt a blush rise up and quickly turned to her friend, stumbling over her words to cover her embarrassment. "This is Lieutenant Linda Freeman, sir - General Greenburgh's secretary."

"Lieutenant." The general nodded pleasantly.

Linda gave a small nod and the conversation lapsed into silence. Jessica desperately sought for a topic to fill the uncomfortable pause. "Your wife isn't with you, sir?"

"She's already here. We travelled separately." General O'Neill nodded towards the far side of the room, but too quickly for Jessica to see who he was indicating. "I was just heading over to her, but I think I'll grab myself a drink first." He smiled. "Ladies."

"Sir."

Jessica watched as her boss walked towards the bar. As the figure blended in with the mass of other dress blues she turned to scan the crowd in the area O'Neill had pointed to. "I can't see anyone that looks the way I imagine the general's wife to be, can you?"

"I have no idea." Her friend's voice had a decidedly dreamy quality. "I think I've been struck blind."

Jessica burst into laughter.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

"Good grief, can one person be allowed to have that many medals?"

Jason Vesland wasn't the only one to turn at their fellow scientist's question. Some sort of high ranking officer was walking towards them - a colonel or something he supposed, but he still hadn't managed to get the ranks and insignia straight yet. The man's jacket was certainly dripping with little ribbons and shiny metal things, but Jason couldn't see any real reason for the fuss - he'd recently helped to show the Joint Chiefs around the Institute and their medals equalled the ones worn by this man, and in some cases surpassed them.

It almost seemed as if the officer was coming towards them, but he turned away after a short conversation with that general that had been sitting with them until a few minutes ago, and moved off towards the bar.

The bar.

Jason gave his wife a swift glance, making sure she was occupied with her friends, and headed that way himself. He could do with a drink and he'd be damned if he would wait any longer for a waiter to reach him.

The bar area was crowded with Air Force personnel, and Jason found the only empty spot was next to the man he had been watching. He sidled into the small space, trying hard not to bump the elbows of those on either side of him, and waited patiently. It didn't take long, however, to realise that waiting patiently wasn't going to get him a drink.

"Excuse me." Jason raised a hand, trying to attract the busy bartender's attention, not very successfully if the way he was completely ignored was anything to go by.

"A beer please." The man beside him didn't raise his voice but the reaction was instantaneous. The bartender was standing opposite them in seconds.

"Yes, general. What type?"

"A Guinness thanks, and whatever my friend here is wanting."

Jason had to think hurriedly as the surprising move caused his mind to go totally blank. He finally managed to come up with an answer. "Ah. . .I'll have a Guinness too, thanks."

"Another Guinness fan, I see." The officer smiled pleasantly at him.

Jason decided to be honest. "No. Actually I've never had one before."

Two bottles and glasses were being placed on the counter as he spoke. The other man poured his beer carefully and took a sip before sighing with evident enjoyment.

"I'll be interested to see what you think then. Guinness is a bit of an acquired taste."

Jason tipped his beer into the glass and took a mouthful. "It's certainly different. Got more of a body than the normal local beers." He took another sip as his companion watched. "I like it."

"Jack O'Neill. Pleased to meet you." The general extended his hand, smiling, and Jason took it, shaking it firmly.

"Jason Vesland. Likewise."

"You're with the Institute?"

"Yes. You're with the Air Force?"

His companion laughed. "The uniform gave it away I suppose."

"That and the fact you got served so quickly, General."

"Rank does have its privileges - occasionally."

They lapsed into silence as each took another swallow of their drinks. The crowd around them had grown in the few minutes since they had been served, and Jason grunted in annoyance as he was jostled for the second time in as many minutes. He noticed his companion wasn't having the same problem - the space around the general was still clear, almost as if he had an invisible force field to fend off junior officers. Perhaps he did, Jason decided, maybe one of those shiny badges was its on button. He'd probably be researching its applications when he got into work on Monday.

Another bump jerked him out of his musings at the same time as his drink came dangerously close to spilling over the top of the glass. He glared at the offender, realising that he hadn't even been aware of the near accident. Jason turned his attention back to the general to find O'Neill giving him a commiserating half smile.

"I think we should find somewhere a little less crowded. Why don't I get us both a refill and cede the victory to the rabble?"

Jason agreed immediately and, fresh drinks in their hands, the two men soon pushed their way out of the throng, O'Neill easily clearing a path with Jason following closely in his wake. Finally reaching a clear space, they stopped. The party was in full swing, the volume of sound rising in proportion to the number of people that filled the large room. Jason looked over to where the main group from his workplace had gathered, noticing that the two senior officers that had monopolised Sam Carter earlier in the evening hadn't returned. They had, however, been replaced by several more junior ones by the looks of it.

Vesland realised General O'Neill was looking in the same direction as he was. He thought for a fraction of a second - the man seemed pleasant enough, and he was obviously someone with influence at the Pentagon - probably even someone who the Institute would be working closely with in the near future. There was no harm in being friendly.

"Would you like to join us?" He gestured towards the group.

O'Neill's eyes narrowed, and for a moment Jason wondered if he had done the right thing, a slight shiver running down his spine at the almost hungry expression on the other man's face.

"No thanks, I have some people I have to talk to first. Maybe later?"

Jason found himself rather relieved.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Wives and Other Follies - Part Five (Unfluffy)

Jack fought to keep his face impassive as he watched Vesland cross the room. He knew that even though Sam had her back to them she was aware of his every movement. He had seen her watching him ever since he had arrived - nothing obvious, just little glances and small smiles exchanged before turning her attention back to the people surrounding her.

He identified several of the Air Force officers around her as members of his own department, and assumed the civilians were her work colleagues. There were a few women scattered through the group, some clearly the wives or partners of the men they were with, others probably fellow scientists of Sam's. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves if the good natured laughter was anything to go by.

It wasn't until Vidrine had let Jack in on Sam's secret identity remark that he realised that very few people in Washington were aware of their relationship. They had chosen to keep their marriage as low key as possible, especially with Sam still technically posted to the SGC, even if only in an advisory capacity. Her frequent trips back to the Mountain, combined with the amount of work Jack had to cope with to get up to scratch in his new position, had meant they had little time for socialising here in Washington.

Most people wouldn't have recognised the wicked smile that ghosted across Sam's face, but Jack had had more than enough experience over the years to know the way her devious mind was working. He'd leave her to her fun for a little longer.

**********

"There he is." Beatrice Ritson grabbed her friend's arm, heedless of the slight tear she made in the delicate fabric of the other's dress.

Angela Greenburgh opened her mouth to complain at the other woman's actions but shut it almost immediately. Beatrice's husband had given them the nod when General O'Neill arrived at the function, but they had lost track of him when he disappeared into the mass of bodies at the bar. Now she was startled to find him almost at their elbows.

"General." Beatrice pulled her along, her voice shrill as she tried to attract O'Neill's attention. "General O'Neill."

He stopped and turned to them enquiringly. Angela took a moment to appreciate his appearance, and decided that she really needed to get Ross on that diet.

"I'm Beatrice Ritson, General Oliver Ritson's wife. I'm so pleased to meet you at last, General, Oliver told me all about your time together in the Gulf."

"He has?" O'Neill raised an eyebrow and it looked like he was about to say something more, before his frown cleared and he smiled. "Mrs Ritson."

"This is my friend, Angela Greenburgh." Angela smiled pleasantly. There was a slight pause, then Beatrice added "General Ross Greenburgh's wife."

This time General O'Neill looked completely blank and Angela knew he had no idea who her husband was. She filled the gap in the conversation smoothly.

"You and your wife must come to the next dinner party we are planning." She lowered her voice. "We tend to restrict the guest list to only the most senior of officers. I understand you've recently married - perhaps Mrs O'Neill might like to join our Bridge Club. We met every Wednesday."

"Very kind, Mrs Greenburgh, but I doubt she'd have time, although I certainly will pass on the invitation. Sam's an excellent bridge player."

"Really?" Beatrice was annoyed, although she was concealing it well, and Angela knew why. Her friend was the top bridge player in their group and was plainly feeling threatened. "I didn't know secretaries played a lot of bridge."

Angela cringed. It was one thing to speculate in private about the new Mrs O'Neill, but it was quite another to act like their speculations were fact, especially in front of her husband.

O'Neill's smile disappeared completely, and Angela's eyes were drawn to his as they glared down at her friend. She backed away slightly, trying to disassociate herself from Beatrice as she recognised what she was seeing. General O'Neill had changed in the fraction of a second from a good natured man to the sort of soldier she had tried to avoid over the years.

"Secretary? Why would you think my wife was a secretary?" He waited as if expecting an answer, but continued when none came. "She's a colonel in the United States Air Force, currently seconded to the Institute." He nodded towards the blonde that had been attracting so much attention all evening. "That's my wife over there. Now if you'll excuse me, I have important people to talk to."

He turned and walked away before they had a chance to reply.

It wasn't until O'Neill was out of earshot that Beatrice spoke.

"Well, really!" Beatrice's indignant exclamation summed up Angela's feeling to a tee. "I didn't expect that."

"No," Angela agreed "Neither did I. I thought General O'Neill's wife was meant to be much younger than him. She looks to be in her late thirties at least."

"Yes, exactly. And the hair. . . "

"Bottle blonde?"

"Definitely."

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Jack stalked over to the table where he'd spotted Paul Davis, only to find the major had vanished. Probably looking for a drink, Jack mused, wishing he had a refill for his now empty Guinness.

He found his eyes drawn to Sam as his ears caught her familiar laugh. At least she was enjoying herself. The group she was with looked a lot more lively that the stuffed shirts over on this side of the room. He didn't even want to think about the two harridans he had just left struck speechless. Maybe he should take Vesland's offer and go join Sam - it wasn't like he needed an excuse.

"Quite a looker, isn't she?"

Jack spun, finding a fellow general at his shoulder, probably that moronic woman's husband, Greenspoon or something.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Oh, come on now - I saw you looking at her. I thought I'd go introduce myself and see if anything eventuates and I don't want to have to fight off the competition."

Oh for crying out loud! What was it with this party? Jack decided that if this was what normally went on at one of these Washington shindigs, he and Sam would be accepting no further invitations. This guy was actually warning him off his own wife.

He raised himself up to his full height, towering over the self important little two star general in front of him. Quietly, but with a depth of meaning that couldn't be mistaken, he fiercely ground out his words.

"That `looker' is my wife"

Enough was enough.

Once again he didn't bother waiting for an answer. He headed for Sam.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Wives and Other Follies - Part Six. (Unfluffy)

Jason had almost reached the spot where his friends and colleagues were gathered before they noticed him.

"Jason. About time you got back." A short man wearing small rimless glasses turned to greet him.

"We were beginning to think you'd got lost." This time it was Eva Chin who spoke, her black hair shining in the bright lights.

Jason smiled back. "Well, I had to fight my way through the madding hordes at the bar, but I managed it." He halted on the edge of the group, pointing back to the man he had left several minutes earlier. "I was talking to General O'Neill. Nice man, despite being military."

"What section is he with?" One of the team leaders queried, clearly trying to decide if he was worth cultivating.

"I don't know," Jason answered honestly. "I didn't think to ask."

He was surprised when Sam interjected. "He's head of Homeworld Security."

"He's the new guy in charge? We should take the chance to get to know him better then, we'll be working closely with his department in the future." Most of the people around them nodded in response to Eva's comment, Jason included.

"I did invite him to join us." Jason couldn't help a trace of smugness from entering his voice.

"Well it looks like he's taking you up on the offer. Here he comes now."

Sure enough, Jason was surprised to see Jack O'Neill striding towards them.

**********

Sam could see that something was wrong the minute Jack made his way through the crowd to her side, barely acknowledging Jason's stuttering attempt at a greeting. His face was blank, but she knew it was hiding barely concealed anger. She didn't know what had happened to upset her husband like this, but she knew she had to deflect him immediately, before he did or said something he'd later regret - if he hadn't already done so.

She pulled him to her, giving him a quick hug, and reached up to kiss him lightly on the cheek as she whispered in his ear. "I'm glad you're here. I was beginning to get bored."

For a second, he tensed, before his rigidly held muscles loosened and he returned her hug, lowering his mouth to kiss her gently on the side of her neck.

She relaxed for a moment, savouring the strength she felt as Jack's arm tightened around her, then straightened, smiling.

"Thanks for finding Jack for me, Jason."

"Jack?" Doctor Vesland frowned. "You two know each other?"

"You could say that." Jack interrupted. "I'm her husband."

"Husband?" Jason seemed to be becoming increasingly bewildered, a state that appeared to be catching by the looks on the faces around them.

"I don't use my married name at work," Sam explained, taking pity on the man standing in front of her, "but yes, Jack's my husband."

**********

The image of a short, fat, balding office worker crashed into pieces in the face of the tall, distinguished Air Force general, taking its place on the floor with that of the dumpy, mousey librarian.

In their place, General and Doctor O'Neill smiled at each other, and began mingling, finally together and intending to stay that way for the rest of the evening. They headed for the buffet table first - after all Jack had just travelled millions of miles without even being given a packet of peanuts.

**********

"That's so sweet." Linda whispered to her friend as the general and his wife walked past them, hand in hand.

"Isn't it." Jessica nodded, making a mental note of everything she saw so she could report back the tiniest details to the girls who hadn't been on the invitation list.

Then something much more interested caught her attention - the group of civilians the general's wife had been sitting with. "You know, some of those guys don't look half bad."

"Um . . ." Linda nodded her agreement, ". . .but they're scientists."

"Come on, Linda - don't be a snob." Jessica pulled her friend after her, heading for a particularly attractive young man. "What's good for the general is good for the secretary."

The End

Wives and Other Follies - the Fluffy Version Part 4A

"Good grief, can one person be allowed to have that many medals?"

Jason Vesland wasn't the only one to turn at their fellow scientist's question. Some sort of high ranking officer was walking towards them - a colonel or something he supposed, but he still hadn't managed to get the ranks and insignia straight yet. The man's jacket was certainly dripping with little ribbons and shiny metal things, but Jason couldn't see any real reason for the fuss - he'd recently helped to show the Joint Chiefs around the Institute and their medals equalled the ones worn by this man, and in some cases surpassed them.

It almost seemed as if the officer was coming towards them, but he turned away after a short conversation with that general that had been sitting with them until a few minutes ago, and moved off towards the bar.

The bar.

Jason gave his wife a swift glance, making sure she was occupied with her friends, and headed that way himself. He could do with a drink and he'd be damned if he would wait any longer for a waiter to reach him.

The bar area was crowded with Air Force personnel, and Jason found the only empty spot was next to the man he had been watching. He sidled into the small space, trying hard not to bump the elbows of those on either side of him, and waited patiently. It didn't take long, however, to realise that waiting patiently wasn't going to get him a drink.

"Excuse me." Jason raised a hand, trying to attract the busy bartender's attention, not very successfully if the way he was completely ignored was anything to go by.

"A beer please." The man beside him didn't raise his voice but the reaction was instantaneous. The bartender was standing opposite them in seconds.

"Yes, general. What type?"

"A Guinness thanks, and whatever my friend here is wanting."

Jason had to think hurriedly as the surprising move caused his mind to go totally blank. He finally managed to come up with an answer. "Ah. . .I'll have a Guinness too, thanks."

"Another Guinness fan, I see." The officer smiled pleasantly at him.

Jason decided to be honest. "No. Actually I've never had one before."

Two bottles and glasses were being placed on the counter as he spoke. The other man poured his beer carefully and took a sip before sighing with evident enjoyment.

"I'll be interested to see what you think then. Guinness is a bit of an acquired taste."

Jason tipped his beer into the glass and took a mouthful. "It's certainly different. Got more of a body than the normal local beers." He took another sip as his companion watched. "I like it."

"Jack O'Neill. Pleased to meet you." The general extended his hand, smiling, and Jason took it, shaking it firmly.

"Jason Vesland. Likewise."

"You're with the Institute?"

"Yes. You're with the Air Force?"

His companion laughed. "The uniform gave it away I suppose."

"That and the fact you got served so quickly, General."

"Rank does have its privileges - occasionally."

They lapsed into silence as each took another swallow of their drinks. The crowd around them had grown in the few minutes since they had been served, and Jason grunted in annoyance as he was jostled for the second time in as many minutes. He noticed his companion wasn't having the same problem - the space around the general was still clear, almost as if he had an invisible force field to fend off junior officers. Perhaps he did, Jason decided, maybe one of those shiny badges was its on button. He'd probably be researching its applications when he got into work on Monday.

Another bump jerked him out of his musings at the same time as his drink came dangerously close to spilling over the top of the glass. He glared at the offender, realising that he hadn't even been aware of the near accident. Jason turned his attention back to the general to find O'Neill giving him a commiserating half smile.

"I think we should find somewhere a little less crowded. Why don't I get us both a refill and cede the victory to the rabble?"

Jason agreed immediately and, fresh drinks in their hands, the two men soon pushed their way out of the throng, O'Neill easily clearing a path with Jason following closely in his wake. Finally reaching a clear space, they stopped. The party was in full swing, the volume of sound rising in proportion to the number of people that filled the large room. Jason looked over to where the main group from his workplace had gathered, noticing that the two senior officers that had monopolised Sam Carter earlier in the evening hadn't returned. They had, however, been replaced by several more junior ones by the looks of it.

Vesland realised General O'Neill was looking in the same direction as he was. He thought for a fraction of a second - the man seemed pleasant enough, and he was obviously someone with influence at the Pentagon - probably even someone who the Institute would be working closely with in the near future. There was no harm in being friendly.

"Would you like to join us?" He gestured towards the group.

O'Neill's eyes narrowed, and for a moment Jason wondered if he had done the right thing, a slight shiver running down his spine at the almost hungry expression on the other man's face. Then his misgivings disappeared as the general smiled.

"I'd like that."

**********

Jack fought to keep his face impassive as he followed Vesland across the room. He knew that even though Sam had her back to them she was aware of his approach. He had seen her watching him ever since he had arrived - nothing obvious, just little glances and small smiles exchanged before turning her attention back to the people surrounding her.

He identified several of the Air Force officers around her as junior members of his own department, and assumed the civilians were her work colleagues. There were a few women scattered through the group, some clearly the wives or partners of the men they were with, others probably fellow scientists of Sam's. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves if the good natured laughter was anything to go by.

Their approach was beginning to register with some of the people, and Vesland sped up a little, smiling as he spoke. "I didn't ask which department you worked for, General."

"Homeworld Security."

"There's a new guy in charge, isn't there?" Vesland was obviously coming to the correct conclusion, so Jack decided to make it easy for him.

"That would be me."

"Jason. About time you got back." A short man wearing small rimless glasses turned to greet them before Vesland could respond.

"We were beginning to think you'd got lost." This time it was a woman who spoke, her black hair shining in the bright lights.

Jason smiled back. "Well, I had to fight my way through the madding hordes at the bar, but I managed it." He halted on the edge of the group, Jack stopping beside him. "May I introduce General O'Neill, Head of Homeworld Security." The scientist's voice had a certain hint of smugness, but Jack couldn't fault him for that - he was feeling just a little smug himself.

Vesland's words elicited a chorus of polite greetings from the civilians, accompanied by slightly embarrassed nods from the junior officers. Then the introductions proper began. Vesland started with a couple of middle aged scientists and their wives, passed quickly over a junior researcher, and stopped for a moment at the head of one of his own teams. Jack exchanged a few words with each, taking the opportunity to sip his beer between them, putting the empty glass on a nearby table just as Vesland got to Sam.

It wasn't until Vidrine had let Jack in on Sam's secret identity remark that he realised that very few people in Washington were aware of their relationship. They had chosen to keep their marriage as low key as possible, especially with Sam still technically posted to the SGC, even if only in an advisory capacity. Her frequent trips back to the Mountain, combined with the amount of work Jack had to cope with to get up to scratch in his new position, had meant they had little time for socialising here in Washington.

Most people wouldn't have recognised the wicked smile on Sam's face, but Jack had had more than enough experience over the years to know the way her devious mind was working.

"This is Doctor Samantha Carter, General O'Neill."

Jack took a step forward, taking the hand Sam was offering him, and brought it up to his lips, kissing it lightly. "May I say how beautiful you look tonight, Doctor Carter?"

"Why thank you, General O'Neill." Sam grinned and moved closer, putting a hand up to rest on his chest. "May I return the compliment, sir?"

Jack's heart began to beat faster and he moved slightly, making Sam's hand drop between them. "You certainly may." He snaked his arm around her waist, pulling her forcefully towards him.

Jack could feel the tension in the air around them as they became the focus of every eye, and he decided to go for it, his lips locking with his wife's in a very sensual kiss.

***********

Wives and Other Follies - the Fluffy Version Part 4B

"There he is." Beatrice Ritson grabbed her friend's arm, heedless of the slight tear she made in the delicate fabric of the other's dress.

Angela Greenburgh opened her mouth to complain at the other woman's actions but shut it almost immediately. Beatrice's husband had given them the nod when General O'Neill arrived at the function, but they had lost track of him when he disappeared into the mass of bodies at the bar. Now she stared in amazement as she looked to where the other woman was pointing.

O'Neill was in that same group they had been watching all night, standing next to that woman. Annoyance flashed through Angela's mind as she saw him take the hand that was held out to him and kiss it.

Then she felt all the air leave her body as she gasped loudly, stunned as the General plastered himself onto the blonde's chest and pulled her in for a passionate kiss.

"Well, really!" Beatrice's indignant exclamation summed up Angela's feeling to a tee.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

The main thing Jason Vesland felt as he watched the Air Force general grab Doctor Carter and kiss her, was panic. Sam had said her husband was delayed, but what if he had arrived and was watching? There could be a scene. This was all his fault. He'd been the one to introduce this obviously crazed soldier into their circle. He would be the one to take the blame for it - asked to explain just what he had been thinking when he practically dragged the man over. He might even lose his job over this. Then what would his wife say?

He was a dead man.

He winced and waited for the expected reaction from his female colleague. A slap perhaps? A shove away?

Then he realised that not only was Sam not retaliating, she seemed to be a willing participant.

Jason's worry turned to awe as the two finally unlocked their lips. Carter was grinning at the general as if he was the best thing since sliced bread.

Boy, but the man was good. If that was the reaction a chest full of medals and a uniform could get, Jason concluded, then he was joining up tomorrow.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Sam leaned into her husband as he put an arm across her shoulders, knowing they were the centre of attention. She hadn't really expected Jack to be quite so willing to play along with her little game, and was just a tiny bit worried about the reaction of the other senior officers around the room to his show of very obvious affection. Then she spotted General Vidrine standing with a group of fellow generals and saw him raise a glass in salute. She felt Jack nod and knew he was returning the gesture.

Hell, she thought - after so many years of sticking to the regulations they were entitled to let their hair down sometimes. She relaxed for a moment, savouring the strength she felt as Jack's arm tightened around her, then straightened, smiling.

She turned her head slightly and whispered into Jack's ear, enjoying the smell of his familiar aftershave. "Should we put them out of their misery? Doctor Vesland looks like he's going to faint."

"Um. . . " There was a pause while one of Jack's fingers stroked down her neck. "Then we go home?"

Sam smiled at the tone of anticipation, but didn't reply, stepping away from her husband instead.

"Thanks for finding Jack for me, Jason."

"Jack?" Doctor Vesland frowned. "You two know each other?"

"You could say that." Jack interrupted. "I'm her husband."

"Husband?" Jason seemed to be becoming increasingly bewildered, a state that appeared to be catching by the looks on the faces around them.

"I don't use my married name at work," Sam explained, taking pity on the man standing in front of her, "but yes, Jack's my husband."

xoxoxoxoxoxo

The image of a short, fat, balding office worker crashed into pieces in the face of the tall, distinguished Air Force general, taking its place on the floor with that of the dumpy, mousey librarian.

In their place, General and Doctor O'Neill smiled at each other, and began mingling, finally together and intending to stay that way for the rest of the evening. They headed for the buffet table first - after all Jack had just travelled millions of miles without even being given a packet of peanuts.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Wives and Other Follies - the Fluffy Version Part 4C

"Who is that woman?"

General Ritson flinched at the shrill tone and took an involuntary step back as his wife and her partner in crime appeared in front of him, their expressions a curious mixture of indignation and jealousy. He looked in the direction Beatrice indicated.

Jack O'Neill was walking across the room, arm in arm with the same lovely woman Oliver had been surreptitiously watching all evening.

"I have no idea, but I assume she's O'Neill's wife." Jack had always attracted the ladies, but Oliver remembered him as a one woman man, totally devoted to his wife and child. Yes, there was no way the Jack O'Neill he knew would be showing so much obvious affection to anyone other than the woman he married.

"Wife? I thought General O'Neill's wife was a scientist." Angela Greenburgh glowered at the couple.

"Yes" He decided to share some of the information he had just heard about the new Mrs O'Neill, "She is. She's one of the Air Force's top researchers. Came first in her class in the Academy and even served as a pilot in the Gulf. She was promoted to Colonel over a year ago and looks to be on a fast track to general. Pretty impressive record." Oliver watched the pair stop to talk to a man he recognised as Major Davis, and found himself envying the other general. A beautiful, intelligent wife, a position that kept him in the view of the President - everything that Oliver himself didn't have.

"I didn't expect her to look like that."

Oliver didn't even look at Angela as she spoke, preferring to concentrate on the large whiskey in his hand. He let the women's conversation wash over him as his wife replied.

"No, neither did I. I thought General O'Neill's wife was meant to be much younger than him. She looks to be in her late thirties at least."

"Yes, exactly. And the hair. . . "

"Bottle blonde?"

"Definitely."

Oliver shut his eyes momentarily, wishing he was anywhere but where he was. Somewhere nice and quiet - another planet would be good. He sighed.

He should have joined NASA.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Jack could hear the whispers as they passed, and for a second he wondered if he had done the wrong thing. The Air Force was a conservative organisation with conservative views, and two senior officers embracing in public wouldn't be on the top of the list of things expected at a function such as this.

"Sorry." He muttered the apology, worried that Sam's silence was caused by embarrassment.

"What for?" Her hand tightened on his.

"I've put you in an awkward position with the other wives. Did you see the look on the faces of those two women we just walked by? They're Angela Greenburgh and Beatrice Ritson, Oliver Ritson's wife. They won't be inviting us to any dinner parties in the near future."

"I don't care what they think, Jack. Their opinion isn't really important." He looked at her, to find her smiling back. "It isn't like either of us have time to socialise, and I was never going to be the typical military wife anyway."

Jack smiled back, pulling her closer as he realised she was right. It was funny how saving the planet several times put everything else into perspective.

"There's Paul Davis. Why don't we go find out all the gossip while everyone else gossips about us?" He steered them towards the Pentagon liaison, happy to see a friendly face.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Jessica had found herself gasping at the sight of her normally staid boss kissing a woman so publicly, but as soon as the embrace ended she compared notes with Linda and gave the kiss a rating of ten out of ten on the scale they had developed over the years while movie watching. It almost rivalled Rhett and Scarlett for first place in their opinion.

"Wow, I wish I was her." Jessica had that dreamy look she normally reserved for Hugh Jackman.

"Hey - that's my boss you're talking about." Jessica started laughing, then stopped as a sudden thought hit her. "Ewww. He's old enough to be your father."

"So - he's obviously had lots of practice. And not just in kissing"

Jessica screwed her face into an expression of distaste. "And again, ewww. Thanks for that thought, I'm the one who has to work with him you know. I won't be able to look him in the eye."

"It wouldn't be his eyes I'd be looking at."

"Will you shush." Jessica felt herself blushing with embarrassment. "Anyway, that must be Mrs O'Neill. At least I can put a face to the voice now."

"That's so sweet - that two people can still be so affectionate even at their age." Linda whispered to her friend as the General and his wife walked past them, hand in hand.

"Isn't it." Jessica nodded, making a mental note of everything she saw so she could report back the tiniest details to the girls who hadn't been on the invitation list.

Then something much more interested caught her attention - the group of civilians the general's wife had been sitting with. "You know, some of those guys don't look half bad."

"Um . . ." Linda nodded her agreement, ". . .but they're scientists."

"Come on, Linda - don't be a snob." Jessica pulled her friend after her, heading for a particularly attractive young man. "What's good for the general is good for the secretary."

The End