Such a Time as This

by Val Evenstar

Author's Note: On a totally random whim, I am simultaneously publishing this and 'The Uncanny' because I've abandoned the SG-1 universe for to long. Both of these were written... a year ago? It's been that long? Anyway, at the time I had no idea what a Mary-Sue was. The main character of this story does have some Sue-ish characteristics, but by no means is she romantically involved with anyone. Period. So I'd define her as an OC. Both of these start out pretty slowly but get into some good action, if I do say so myself. And this one is quite heavily infused with my Christian beliefs. I hope you enjoy the story, though; and please do let me know what you think!

Miranda stood on her little stool behind the serving counter. It was Saturday, and lunch time; traffic through the mess was thick. She leaned down and opened the little fridge next to her, searching for another can of pickles. When she straightened up, she was gazing into a pair of sparkling blue eyes.

Miranda smiled. "Hello, Colonel Carter. Tuna fish again today - hope you don't mind."

The colonel smiled and held out her plate. "It's fine, Anda. You need a ride home today or is Cassie picking you up?"

"Sergeant Bates already offered... Hi, Colonel Mitchell, Teal'c, Dr. Jackson."

"Hey, Anda," replied Dr. Jackson, reaching for a sandwich.

Teal'c also reached towards the counter, but instead of picking up a sandwich, he lifted Anda into the air!

She gasped as the room tilted violently and then settled as she found herself seated on Teal'c's broad shoulder. Anda clutched his jacket convulsively as she looked down and saw the ground way too far away for her liking. "What's going on?" she demanded, her voice slipping into a higher register. "I have to work... and I'm scared of heights!"

Dr. Jackson and Colonel Mitchell grinned up at her. "Happy birthday, Anda!"

"What?" she asked, dazed. Her birthday? Oh... how had she forgotten?

"Hey, everyone - it's Anda's birthday today!" announced Colonel Mitchell.

People started getting up from their tables and making their way over to congratulate Anda.

Behind her, Airman Bensen, who was in charge of the galley, was grumbling as usual. "What are you doing with my assistant? How am I supposed to work the lunchtime rush without her? Put her down, Teal'c, this isn't a circus - though you could be the strong man and she could be the dwarf. I've only got an hour before I have to cook -"

"Airman, give her a break!" said Colonel Carter. "Go get the cake, will you?"

"Cake?! Why would I make a cake for her, when she -"

"It's in the fridge. At least that's what Dr. Lam said - and of course you didn't bake it, that's why we chose it."

"Yes, ma'am," Bensen said sulkily as he headed towards the fridge. Anda smiled to herself. Bensen had given up the argument with Colonel Carter so easily - and maybe not just because she outranked him. Anda had always thought Bensen didn't really mean it when he yelled at her. He certainly didn't like her, but this proved that he at least tolerated her.

The room spun again, and Anda gripped Teal'c's shoulder. "Can you put me down, now, please? I really am afraid of heights!"

"It's your birthday, Anda - and besides, f he puts you down no one will be able to see you," said Dr. Jackson.

Anda didn't think that that would be so terrible. She watched as Dr. Lee took some candles out of his pocket and put them in the cake.

"Eighteen today, Anda?" asked Dr. Lam.

Miranda looked down and smiled at the doctor. "What, did Dr. Lee put on too many candles?"

"No - and I hope you don't mind me saying that you look a lot younger. When you're older you'll appreciate that kind of comment."

Anda made an impish face, and then belatedly realized that it had only made her look like a 13-year old.

"OK, Teal'c, you can put her down now," said Colonel Mitchell as he finished lighting the candles.

Anda welcomed the feel of solid ground beneath her, but then reluctantly got up on a chair when people complained that they couldn't see her.

"Happy birthday to you... Happy birthday to you!"

Anda smiled as she looked around at all her friends singing. Even Bensen was joining in! And you wouldn't get this anywhere else, at another job or even at school, she told herself. Then she blinked back tears as she felt a rush of gratitude for all these wonderful people who had taken the time to talk to her, help her with her homework, and be her friends, even though she was so much younger than them and she only worked in the cafeteria.

"Happy birthday, dear Anda! Happy birthday to you!"

They clapped and cheered as Anda leaned forward to blow out the candles.

"Make a wish!" "Come on, you only have eighteen of them to blow out!" "Happy birthday!"

I wish, she thought, that there will be something I can do, one day, to thank all of them...

She blew. The candles flickered. Puzzled, she blew again, and then started back when the flames changed color!

"They're trick candles!" she cried, and blew again. This time the flames turned green!

"Made them myself!" said Dr. Lee.

Anda laughed and blew again. This time the candles went out.

She plucked them out and reached for the knife. "Thanks, Dr. Lee. Can I borrow these for Cassie, or do they only work once?"

"Oh, they're one-timers. Besides, Cassie would need more, wouldn't she?"

"Yeah, but they are so cool!" Anda finished cutting the cake. "Cake time, everyone! I hope there's enough..."

"Wait." Colonel Carter stepped up, holding a small box wrapped in silver paper. "Can't have a birthday without presents, right?"

Anda returned Carter's hug as she took the box. "Thank you! I wasn't expecting any of this, you know."

"Could have something to do with this being a surprise party," drawled Colonel Mitchell.

Anda carefully removed the paper, and found a small jewelry case inside. She opened it and drew out a small green pendant on a delicate gold chain. "It's lovely!"

Carter grinned. "Cassie said you'd never had any jade, so I took the liberty of selecting some. Here, hold it up to the light."

Anda held it up, and gasped. Etched inside the thin green pendant was a beautiful filigree cross!

"Oh, thank you, it's perfect!"

"Custom made," said Carter, obviously proud of her selection. "All the others were eight-fold paths, but since you're not Buddhist..."

"It's wonderful - thank you so much, everyone!" Then something suddenly occurred to her. "Why isn't Cassie here? If she'd known about this, she -"

"She thought it would spoil the surprise if she came," Colonel Mitchell explained. Then he lowered his voice as he said, "Listen, Anda, I wish we could have a proper party for you, but this'll have to be shorter than usual because we all have to get back to work or Landry'll -"

"Or Landry will what?" came a very familiar voice from behind them.

The look on Colonel Mitchell's face was classic, thought Anda, as she scrambled to her feet. If she hadn't been so startled she might have laughed out loud.

"General," said the Colonel as he snapped to attention.

Anda came to attention, too - one of the many things she'd learned from working in the base.

"Why wasn't I invited to this little shindig, Colonel? It looks like fun."

"Your invitation must've gotten lost in the mail, sir," Mitchell replied, sounding a little guilty.

"Actually, General, this whole thing was my idea," said Dr. Jackson.

"I see." Landry looked around, then smiled at Anda. "At ease, people. Why's everyone just standing around? This is a party!"

Anda grinned as the atmosphere once more became festive. She was sure she had the best job in the world.