She was still pink from the shower, maybe that was what made her truly notice. She had slipped her underwear on and was crossing to the other chest of drawers when she had glanced in the mirror...and took a step back.


Twenty years of the Air Force was written all over her body. Of course, she knew logically how many times she had been shot, stabbed and hit over the years but, for whatever reason, it hadn't sunk in until that moment. That innocuous Tuesday morning when she getting ready for work.

She had pink scars, silver scars, scars still healing, scars healed badly from quick-fixes in the field. Jagged, angry welts that had been infected, had to be dug deeper and stitched. Criss-crossed marks where new injuries intersected old; wounds she had had to stitch herself with a mouthful of a branches and curses. First, second, third degree burns from staff blasts and zat guns aimed true over the years.

She felt tears spring into her eyes and didn't really know why. She was a survivor. She had gained these indelible reminders by experiencing things most people could only imagine came from computer animation. She had fought and beat enemies far worse than anyone on Earth had ever dreamed of. She was alive.

But, God, at what cost?

Part of her scoffed at her sadness. So, what, no more bikinis? That would be a big loss to her daily wardrobe, what with all the vacations and beach breaks she took.

How would she explain them to a lover? Could she explain them? How would they react? Yeah, she's all blonde hair, blue eyes and athletic build but get a guy in her bedroom and then what?

She thought of Jack and was annoyed at herself for it. A mental debate began about how he had been with her for most of the scars, knew she had them so wouldn't be bothered by them, surely. But he was a man; a man who fantasised about Uma Thurman and Mary Steenbergen and other leggy women with perfect skin and no bullet wounds.

She traced the largest wound - the scar on her thigh from Anubis' Super Soldier. When she ran for her life through the ruins of the Alpha Site, the adrenaline pumping through her veins like molten metal; thick, settling deep in her stomach with bubbling nausea and a dark weight. She could feel it all over again, just as real as that day, and she tried to not associate it with how she viewed her body.

She chose jeans over her skirt that day.