I can't express enough humility to everyone for following this story all the way through! I started out thinking five, or six chapters, then ten, and it's turned into an 80,000 word monster! I've enjoyed every word—and each and every review, comment, and yes, even criticism, has spurred me on. Deeply, I appreciate you all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
She'd dreamed of her mother. Odd, since she hardly remembered exactly what Mama had looked like. Her memories included a pale woman with dank hair and a false smile. And a constant smell of hopelessness. The scent of despair.
She hadn't known what to expect after her senses had failed. Had only known that she was no longer whole, somehow. And so she'd waited for something momentous to happen—or even something mundane. She'd heard stories of out-of-body flights—tunnels and lights—angels and demons. Instead, she'd languished for long, unsettling moments in vast silences and blank nothingness. She'd waited—setting in. But instead, after the darkness had waned, she'd had visions—vivid, tangible, and real. And so very, very exquisite.
She'd dreamt like that before—but in those nighttime jaunts, she'd been a child, climbing with painful care up onto her mother's sickbed, one knee and then the other, hands braced so as not to jostle the patient. Settling gently with her own child-like hip pressing against the thin one under the threadbare quilt. In those dreams, she had smoothed back her mother's hair and sung her silly songs she'd learned in school or in church, and then—each and every time—her mother's eyes had closed and Glinda had listened to the final rattling breaths and bid her goodbye.
Sometimes, she could feel the frail bones in her mother's hand long after she'd awoken—as if she had truly just been holding her mother's palm in her own, fingers entwined, skin to skin.
But this dream was more.
She'd succumbed to the blackness, felt her body give out. Just before she'd given up hope of something else, she'd blossomed, somehow. To say she'd seen a light and flown toward it would have been too simple. It had been a rising, a release, and a revelation all at once. Beautiful—to be let go, to be able to let go—and then such freedom. There had been a light, a pinpoint through a welcoming darkness, and she had made the conscious effort to turn towards it.
She'd known it would be the right choice. How she'd known this was unattainable. The certain knowledge had cascaded over her that answers would be found within its glow. It had merely beckoned her with such golden sincerity, and Glinda had been so cold. She'd needed the warmth. Yearned for it. And obedient to its call, she'd moved without hesitation. Without regret.
How? She didn't know. Unfettered by her body, her soul had just risen. It didn't occur to her to mourn, or sorrow—she'd accepted it. Her progression had been beautifully simple.
And at the end there had been a woman. Whole—without the pallor that had defined her during those last days in her farmhouse bed. Her eyes alive with joy—and peace—and a poignant sort of tenderness that Glinda felt she'd never fully understand. And her voice—vibrant, melodic, luminous.
"You don't belong here, Glinda."
"Why not, Mama?" And Glinda had wondered why it felt so natural to use the childhood appellation. "Where do I belong, if not with you?"
But her mother had only smiled—sad, haunted. And the hand on Glinda's face had felt corporeal, even though it wasn't, as had the arms that had held her close. She'd remembered that feeling. Unconditional love. Before the sickness had robbed their family of all vestige of life.
"Go home. You're needed there." Her mother had set her away, palms warm on Glinda's arm. Tilting her head, she'd nodded slightly—her teeth worrying at her bottom lip.
"Go home Glinda. They need you."
Like water, blue, but then not.
Light, and a sensation of complete warmth that seemed weirdly at odds with the glow. Such a blue should be cool, not heated. Glinda scowled on a memory that she couldn't hold—something having to do with a dock, and a farm and a hazy summer day and a pond. Ducks. There had been ducks.
Happiness. Happiness so completely fused with sorrow that she couldn't tell where one emotion ended and the other began. And she caught the meaning without searching for it—knew that if sadness wasn't evident in her life, then neither would be joy. That melancholy existed as a foil for elation. That the blueness of the air around her existed for something else—something unattainable—immortal—effervescent. Twice, now, the charged electric-blue beam had changed her life. She reached to pinpoint in what way—
But the memory faded before she could place it. And she wasn't entirely certain if the past it contained had belonged to her or to the phantom in her dream. That woman who had gently pushed her away again. The mother she'd never properly known.
She'd cracked open her eyes as an experiment, just to prove that she could. And immediately, Glinda had been struck by the radiance. It had taken a supreme effort for her to place other senses—the warmth, the distant hum of some sort of engine she'd never heard before—and then the other sounds.
"I know—how weird is that?"
"My secretary is a farm girl from Kansas. And her name is Glinda?"
A feminine laugh—and then a muffled moan—sweet, somehow, instead of passionate or pained. "You can't make this stuff up."
"I'm sure someone could, but then I would doubt their sanity."
Glinda opened her eyes wide. She lay flat—on her back—the blue light flitting around her in a gentle mechanical strobe. Above her loomed an unfamiliar institutional-like ceiling—unremarkable fluorescent fixtures—and gleaming in her peripheral vision shimmered the silvery sheen of stainless steel.
Without meaning to, she recognized it. Knew what it meant.
Her eyes fluttered closed again, and she tried, but found herself unable, to swallow the gasp that gathered near the back of her throat.
"Pinky?" A shuffle of shoes on the floor, and then the General's face appeared over the edge of the sarcophagus. His face relaxed into a cautious smile. "You okay?"
She assessed herself, and then nodded. "I believe so, sir."
"Here." He extended an arm and clasped her forearm with his wide, strong hand, then levered her up. Pausing, he held her steady as she gathered her balance around her, and then helped her step over the side of and out of the box. "We've been waiting for you."
Glinda frowned. "Oh? Waiting to do what?"
"To move on. To finish—things."
Glinda glanced over to where the Colonel sat on a chair next to the wall. She'd bathed—changed into military basics—obviously meant for someone much larger. The black T-shirt tented itself across her belly, and she'd rolled the hems of the dark blue pants up twice. Her hair gleamed as it spread— damp around the edges—across her shoulders. Still bruised, her face had been doctored. A tiny butterfly bandage showed starkly white against her bruised cheek, and her lip glistened with what Glinda assumed to be ointment of some sort. And her eyes—troubled, full. Concerns roiled within their depths.
And yet, she looked strong, and steady, and content as she stood and crossed the room to stop next to her husband. "How are you?"
Glinda thought about it before answering. "Well, it appears that I've not been vanquished."
"No, you haven't." Sam smiled. "Although it was close there for a while."
Glinda nodded, glancing behind her towards the large metallic box in the center of the steely floor. Everything in the room seemed to be metallic. Walls, fixtures, ceiling. And the noise—droning, deep, and constant.
Like a 747, or a C-47. But, as she looked around in what she hoped was shielded curiosity, she saw no windows. No sky. If she had to guess—
But surely not.
Gumption held firmly in hand, she opened her mouth on the inquiry. "Where exactly are we?"
General O'Neill's mouth twitched upwards a dram. "Do you really want to know?"
"Yes." Glinda nodded. "I do."
He tilted his head and squinted slightly as he took a breath. "In orbit."
"In orbit. Well, of course we are." Glinda faltered, despite herself. Why, after everything else that had happened to her, should that surprise her? But it did. "And how, exactly?"
Her boss sucked in a breath between his teeth before glancing down at his wife and shrugging. "There was beaming involved. But not by Scotty, because that would be a cliche."
The Colonel rolled her eyes with a little smile. "We're aboard the George Hammond. Colonel Archibold was kind enough to bring us onboard utilizing an Asgard transportation apparatus that immediately dematerialized our corporeal forms and—"
"Sam." The General leaned sideways, nudging his wife with his shoulder. "Does she really need to hear this?"
Colonel Carter paused, and even around the bruises, Glinda could see a faint blush tinge her face pink. "She might like to know—"
"She doesn't." O'Neill shook his head. "Really doesn't."
Glinda scowled. "Perhaps she does, sir."
But the General's expression brooked no argument. "Shower. Clean clothes. Infirmary. And then some food—or whatever approximates that particular commodity on this heap. And after that, if you're still desperate to know exactly how we came to be up here, you can ask. But let's take care of first things, first, shall we?"
And Glinda smiled at her boss, nodding. "Yes, sir."
The General had told her that she could take a few days off, but Glinda had graciously declined. She supposed it was the farm girl in her—the old-schoolish portion of her psyche that persisted in believing that one could work one's way through strife.
And strife it had been.
Sitting on the cot in the Hammond's infirmary, her hair a tight mess of wet curls that dripped on the military-issue clothing she'd been given, she'd been asked about any lingering effects of her ordeal. It had surprised her to realize that she'd awoken feeling oddly refreshed. Even so, she acknowledged that it had been eerie to open one's eyes to a pool of blue light when the same vehicle had also taken her life from her.
And Glinda split no hairs about the fact that she had, indeed, been dead.
Two shots. She'd been hit by both of them.
Daniel had shot Jenkins before he'd been able to do it a third time. She'd discovered while aboard the orbiting vessel that a third shot from the curious alien weapon would have rendered her situation rather frighteningly permanent. But indeed, she had been—what? She hesitated, still unable to conjure the exact appropriate term for what had happened to her. Sleeping in God? Crossing over? Kicking the proverbial bucket?
Farms—wasn't there a saying about the purchasing of farmland?
The General had favored, "Pining for the Fjords", but Glinda still had not figured out quite what that particular euphemism meant. She had inquired, but he'd only muttered something about dead parrots and pythons before his wife had cast him a quelling sort of look and he had pressed his lips together on a smile. Jack O'Neill was, from time to time, a thoroughly ineffable fellow.
But still, she supposed that it must have been quite the hullaballoo.
Bodies everywhere—several still breathing, although wounded. Even more not moving, not breathing. Clones and humans—Fitch, and Phil, and Jenkins—all gone.
The survivors had been treated and were being held in the brig on board the huge vessel. Whiny Dave had immediately cooperated with the questions and investigations, but the other survivors had clammed up. Glinda still didn't know exactly what their fate would be. The bodies of the dead had been left in the barn.
Glinda had chosen the coward's way out there—she simply hadn't thought much about that portion of the aftermath. Stoically, she'd forced from her memory those she'd seen fall, lifeless. She hadn't once spared a moment's concern for the man that she herself had taken down. Her part in his demise certainly had no bearing on the fact that almost immediately upon her return home, she had entered her kitchen and found her own meat tenderizer in its place in her orderly kitchen drawer. And it certainly counted for exactly nothing that, without a second thought, she'd carried it out to the recycle bin and tossed it in.
She had no use for animal protein so tough that pounding on it with steel mallets was necessary for consumption, anyway. Sublimation sometimes proved to be its own reward. And, she had more room in the utensil drawer, now. So, really, win-win.
The General's Ba'al had been trusted with guarding those of the goon squad that had been overpowered before the final, deadly showdown. And then, after Glinda had been—taken out?—killed?—mown down?—the Colonel and Doctor Lee had put their entire efforts into completing the work on the sarcophagus. They'd had it up and running within minutes, and then Daniel and the General had lifted her in, and shut the lid.
Glinda herself had been more than slightly appalled to discover that the perniciously arrogant Goa'uld with the questionable grammar had been the means by which they had gotten the contraption working to capacity. He'd brandished the paper on which the formula had been written as if it were a winning Powerball ticket, his self-satisfied smirk lifting the edge of his razor-thin mustache while his dark eyes gleamed.
From the instructions there, Colonel Carter had been able to readjust crystals and redistribute loads of some sort in order to bring the two technologies on line. To Ba'al's credit, he hadn't gloated. And to Glinda's, she'd collected herself enough to thank him after she'd discovered his part in her resurrection—knowing all the while that her words lacked true warmth. Amazingly, he'd been kind enough to not rub it in.
She supposed that it was all part of his attempt at becoming more human—stuck as he was now on Earth.
The General had not been happy about that. But those higher than he in the Pentagon food chain had denied the Goa'uld's request to take the newly completed sarcophagus to another planet to establish his new domain. Ba'al would, however, be given a new identity and allowed to live as any other human on Earth—at least, any other human constantly being watched by the military. And, now that Ba'al had utilized its regenerative powers himself, the sarcophagus and attached Telchak device would be sent to Area 51 for storage and study.
To be honest, Glinda still did not know for certain what had been already been done and what still remained to be accomplished. She'd watched the compound be destroyed from space—seen the beam as it had left the Hammond and streaked towards a point on the planet below. Her inquiries as to why such measures were deemed necessary had been met with stern grimaces and terse, blunt rebuffs.
Phrases such as "cover story" and "plausible deniability" floated around her, then. And Colonel Carter had quietly explained that the cloning equipment and Goa'uld symbiotes still remaining in the barn had to be destroyed in order to assure that the problem would not resurface. And, in the past, they had always had good luck with the excuses of meteor showers or gas explosions.
Glinda had been trying to make sense of it all.
Without much success.
Because how did this sort of thing ever become normal?
The question had been circling in her mind since her return home. Ever since she'd been cleared by the ship's medical officer and summarily beamed back down to Earth, flanked by the General and the Colonel. They'd rematerialized in her parlor, with Daniel waiting just inside the front door, her destroyed purse on the table just to his left.
And after gathering her promise to call if she needed anything, they had, quite reluctantly, left her alone in her home.
Where she'd floundered, if truth was to be told. She'd showered again. Dressed in her own clothes. Watered her begonias. Made a pot of tea that she'd had no intention of consuming. Poured it down the sink, and then made some more.
Finally, late that night, she'd found herself on the threshold of her sewing room, the moonlight spreading itself across her cutting table like icing. And there, gleaming silver and yellow, her old rotary cutter sat atop a freshly ironed fat quarter, just where she'd left it only a day or so before.
For a moment, she'd hesitated. But she'd needed—something. Proactivity, perhaps, or simply a release of whatever had been pent up inside her. And, propelled forward by the demons at her back, she'd lifted the cutter, flicking the blade open, and making a quick cut on the fabric. And then another. And one more—and still another—
Without thought or precision, she hacked at the material, hard, determined, the blade cutting deep furrows into the mat beneath. She ignored the wetness trickling down her cheeks and chin, the rush in her head, her heart. Each swipe of the blade excised something indefinable—something beyond classification. And only when the quarter yard of fabric had been reduced to little more than a random pile of threads and fluff did she stop. Automatically, she pressed the locking mechanism to sheathe the blade, and then laid it down. Gathering up the mass of fibers in her hands, she turned and deposited it into her waste basket.
And for whatever reason, that had been enough.
And so she'd slept and awakened, and showered and dressed. During breakfast, she removed all the necessary items from her ruined purse and moved them back into an old favorite handbag. Her car had been waiting in her garage—Daniel's work, she supposed. She'd driven to the Pentagon and parked in her customary space in the vast lot, and entered the building, passing through security and walking down the long hallway to her office door. The turning key had been soothing, somehow, and the click of the lock opening more than mildly satisfying.
The office seemed like home. Desk, cabinets, chair, potted plants in their corners, green vinyl couch along its wall. The files she'd left in the center of her desk were slightly off kilter—as if someone had shuffled through them. In the back of her head, she could see the General performing just such an examination when he'd realized that she was late back from lunch. When he'd been trying to discover where she'd gone.
Six steps from the door, she came to her desk. After depositing her purse in the bottom desk drawer, she sat and reached for the files and took up where she'd left off, color coding the folders and attaching her neatly printed labels. She scooted her chair over to the file drawers on the other side of her office and started opening drawers and inserting the new folders into the orderly rows of older ones.
Rolling the chair back over to her desk, she pulled her pad of paper to the center of the work surface and reached towards her phone, pushing the message retrieval key even as she selected a pencil from her wire-cage pencil holder. There were four—three for the General, which she dutifully recorded complete with date and time stamps, and one for her.
Jo Louise—her friend from down the hall, wondering where she'd gone after lunch and hoping all was well.
Glinda snorted. If only! Delete.
Making a mental note to walk down the hall and chat with her friend during her break, she then turned to fire up That Infernal Contraption in order to check her electronic mail. Once she'd pressed the button on the tower, she sat back in her chair as the motor inside whirred to life.
Odd, how normal routine could bring one back to a sense of self.
The office lay close around her—quiet, and calm, and familiar. A quick look at the clock caused her to stand and cross to the coffee pot on the table on the far wall. Lifting the carafe off its warmer, Glinda turned towards the water dispenser, bending to fill the receptacle at the little red spigot. Her actions were little more than habit. Things she'd been doing throughout the 37 years she'd been working at the Pentagon. Business. Organization. Messages and answers. Caring for her boss, taking care of his needs.
Saving his wife from being taken over by aliens.
Bashing villains on the head with kitchen gadgetry.
She stalled, and her hand shook itself off the lever, bringing the flow to a halt with a sputter of droplets. With a stern harrumph, Glinda brought herself back to the present and completed the process of making the General's coffee. Once it had begun to percolate, she sat herself back down at her desk and clicked open her inbox and began to prioritize the order in which to answer the messages she found.
Again, the office fell into silence. Too quiet. Her hands stilled again on the keyboard, and she stared down at them in frustration. Flexing her fingers outward, she stretched her hands, then started again, but still couldn't bring herself to shut the thoughts out of her head.
Memories. Fear. Feelings. Blue lights and gunfire.
The door behind her jostled open, and Glinda had never once felt so grateful for an interruption. Turning, she was surprised to see the Colonel enter, followed closely by General O'Neill.
Rising, Glinda found herself frowning. "Sir. Ma'am. You're here early."
The General shrugged. "We had an earlier appointment. Sam wanted to come with me to say hi."
Ruefully, the Colonel grinned and held up a hand. "Hi."
The motion was just random enough that Glinda found herself smiling back. "What kind of appointment?"
"Well." The Colonel looked up at her husband, who was pulling off his jacket. "We went to see my obstetrician."
"What did you tell him about your injuries?"
"Car accident." Said so casually—she was obviously well versed in making up cover stories. "But he ran some tests and did an ultrasound, anyway."
Glinda rose, her hand rising to rest, flat-palmed, at her midsection. "Oh my. Is everything—"
"Yes. Yes. It's all okay." Sam moved forwards, reaching into her pocket as she neared the desk. "I just wanted to come by and show you something." She extended her hand, a diminutive square pinched in her fingers.
Glinda accepted it without pause. It was another of those small, filmy photographs—only sepia toned, rather than grayscale. And instead of a legume in profile, she saw a tiny face, one hand scrunched against a cheek. A baby.
She looked up, a strange heave making her feel balmy and vibrant inside. "Yours?"
"You said something—in that basement." The General spoke as he hung his jacket on the tree. Turning, he smiled as he walked towards his wife. "When you told me that Sam had felt the baby move."
Glinda tried to remember her exact words in that instance, but came up gloriously blank. With a tiny shake of her head, she said, "I'm sorry—I don't—"
"You said, 'he'." The General's hand found its way around his wife's back to rest on her hip. "How did you know our baby was a boy?"
Glinda bit her lip, trying to hide the smile that begged to be loosed. "I don't know, sir. Just a hunch."
"Well, it's a correct hunch. I could show you the evidence, but Jack says it's creepy." Sam rolled her eyes, her meaning clear.
"It is. Poor little critter has no privacy in there. And that ultra-whatever tech person was only too willing to take pictures of his whatchamadiddle."
"That whatchamadiddle has a very clinical, appropriate name."
"Which doesn't need to be bandied about." The General frowned. "There are protocols for this sort of thing. She put an arrow pointing at it on the picture. Who does that?"
"So you're going to be one of those parents?"
"What kind would that be?"
"The kind that never uses the anatomical term for body parts and functions, but instead insists on utilizing outdated nicknames that are confusing for the child?" Her brows inched ever sky-ward. "You know the kind. Their kids enter fifth grade still thinking they were found under a cabbage leaf."
"I'm just saying that there are inside words and outside words. Inside the doctor's office, and outside it."
"It's the same body part."
"Whatever." Sam sighed, shaking her head with a playfully exasperated look at her spouse before turning back towards his secretary. "Anyway, we just wanted to bring that by and show you. It's the kind of thing that you share with family."
Glinda ducked her head, then, to hide the pleasure she felt sure shone through her smile.
"Pinky?" His voice was gentle. "You okay?"
It took her too long to answer—she knew—but an amalgam of conflicting, difficult emotions seethed below a very thin veneer. She found a modicum of control before raising her face again to meet the gazes of these two wonderful, dear people. "Family?"
The General nodded, his eyes narrowing. "Well, yeah."
And she stared down again at the little picture in her hand, and knew. Knew that they were in earnest. That somehow, she'd become more than just a secretary to them, just as they'd burrowed their way into her heart, as well.
A single silver curl bobbed over her left eyebrow as she nodded. "Well. Thank you."
Some pointed communication passed silently between Sam and O'Neill, and the Colonel rounded the desk to stop at Glinda's side. She was back in jeans, and a smart-looking blouse that showed off her tummy. She looked well, and hale, and except for the bruising on her cheek, completely normal. And beside this vision of health, Glinda felt terribly ordinary—hopelessly plain.
And then Glinda felt the other woman's hand give her arm a tiny squeeze.
"You know, I know that what happened to us was traumatic." Matter of fact, and yet gentle, Sam's voice flowed between them like honey. "I know that you were forced to do some things that you must feel terrible about."
But Glinda couldn't speak. The curl bobbed again in answer.
"And, we've been talking, and wanted to tell you that there are ways that we can help you with those memories."
Glinda looked up, meeting Sam's blue gaze with her own green one. "How?"
"There's a device that we came into possession of several years ago. It has the ability to take away memories and replace them with other ones. You'd simply forget that any of this happened."
Her knees weakened, and Glinda found herself lowering her body into her chair. What a blessing that might be—to not see those images whenever she closed her eyes, to not feel that fear, that worry, that anger. To be free of the terror.
But then her mind returned to the basement of the farmhouse, and standing in a precarious shadow holding an ugly lamp. She'd felt strong, and vital, and capable. She'd become something she'd always yearned to be—someone who acted rather than being acted upon. In all her sixty-seven years, she'd never managed to accomplish that—never felt as if she were engaged in her own destiny. Everything had always happened to her instead of because of her.
And if she erased the memories, she would lose that. Lose the budding friendship with this lovely, talented woman, lose the new sense of self that she'd achieved in those woods, and in that barn. Throw away the knowledge she'd gained about herself—things she'd learned that she could do, could be.
Not for all the world. She couldn't conceive of such a tragedy as to lose all that she had found during the most difficult, and the most enlightening, day of her entire life.
"No." Standing, Glinda shook her head with a tiny smile. "No. But thank you. I'll be just fine." And all of a sudden, with a start, she knew that she would be.
The Colonel pulled her close in a tight, impulsive hug, and Glinda returned it with earnest. Brief, yet meaningful—and then she pulled away and took a step backward. "Well, then, Glinda. I'll be in touch. We'd like to take you out to dinner this week some time—the two of us and Daniel and his wife. And I still owe you a case of those rotary cutters. And thank you so much. Without you—well—it wouldn't have ended well."
Glinda smiled and nodded before casting a look at her boss. His face was open, and satisfied, and content as he snared his wife on her way to the door for a lingering kiss and a familiar, one-armed hug. And then, with one last look behind her, the Colonel breezed out the door, her strong strides echoing down the hall.
"She's wonderful." Glinda couldn't help herself. The words had tumbled out of her mouth before she'd even realized she'd uttered them.
"She is." The General drew himself upright a sighed, then stepped past the desk and towards his own door. "Well, back to work."
"I've left your messages on your desk, and forwarded you several e-mails." Settling back onto her chair, she turned her head to follow his progress towards his office.
"Did you get the new budget requests?"
"Yes, sir. And already sent in the preliminary data."
"And I'll bring in your coffee in a few minutes."
With a nod, O'Neill opened his door and stepped across the threshold of his office, only to poke his head out a moment later. "Pinky?"
"Check your top drawer. I left something there for you."
And then his door clicked shut.
Glinda hesitated, staring at the door before turning back towards her desk. With a peek over her shoulder, she fit her fingers under the lip on the bottom of the drawer and pulled.
There, atop the neatly organized divided compartments of pencils, staples, and pens, rested a wide, flat box. Velvet, and black, with a gold rim. Like the box she'd been given at the jeweler's when she'd bought her graduation pearls.
Her fingers skimmed the soft surface before grasping it, and slowly she drew it out and laid it on the desk in front of her. With tentative fingers, she lifted the lid, and then stopped, stunned.
Within were twin gold stars, neatly pinned onto a velvet card nestled in the box. General's stars. And from the fact that they were slightly worn, their points dulled somewhat, she knew that they'd been O'Neill's. And below the stars, a patch. New, stiff, pristine. Gray embroidery on a black background—a stylized 'V' with a '1' superimposed in the center. And on the top, at the apex of an arch, the letters, 'SG'. She recognized it immediately. 'SG-1'. His team. Their team. And now, seemingly, hers.
She closed her eyes and allowed it to engulf her—this keen sense of belonging.
Glinda didn't know how long she sat there, her fingers lightly touching the patch, the stars. But the smell of coffee eventually intruded on her reverie, and she closed the box with a tiny snap before standing and making her way across the office to the pot.
Cream, sugar—just a touch. She stirred with a slim red straw as she walked to the General's door. Knocking quietly, she turned the knob and let herself in, stepping between the twin chairs to stop at his desk. He looked up from a catalog of some sort, brows high.
"Coffee, General O'Neill." She leaned forward and set it just to his right. "And thank you, sir. So much."
He smiled and reached for his cup, watching her as she pivoted for his door. She'd just reached the threshold when he called her name, and she turned to face him.
"You earned them."
And Glinda nodded, considering. "I did." More a revelation to herself than to him.
And then she closed the door quietly behind her and returned to her seat. With efficient, quick hands, she tucked the box back into her top drawer, sliding the tray home as she scooted her chair closer to her workspace.
The icon on her e-mail was blinking, as was the little light on her phone. She'd missed a call, somehow. And that request for bids on the new module designs wasn't going to write itself.
But first—she searched on her desk and found the little sepia-toned ultrasound picture. Deliberately, she flattened out a crinkled corner and then slid it under the glass blotter on her desk top to protect it from getting ruined.
She'd go out at lunch and buy a frame for it.
And maybe, if she was feeling peckish, she'd stop and get herself a big salad.