General Jack O'Neill muttered in his sleep, his head
jerking from side to side in denial of the images that played like a movie
screen inside his head. "No."
churned on the bed inside his quarters at the SGC, tangling in the sheet
draped loosely over his body. Jack's eyelids twitched, betraying the rapid
eye movement that was physical evidence of his brain's dream state. Beads
of sweat popped out on his forehead, collected, and then ran down the side
of his face to pool in his ears. His already damp t-shirt clung to his
groaned and shook his head. "You've got me, send her back." His arms
jerked spasmodically, pushing against an unseen foe. A whimper escaped dry
lips. "No, you promised." His body twisted as he kicked futilely against
the tangled sheets.
echoed in the room. "Noo!" Jack abruptly sat up in bed, his eyes wide in
fear as he swept the empty room in panic. His raspy breaths almost drowned
out the sound of the blood pounding in his ears.
flew open, and revealed the SF that had been assigned to guard his door by
General Hammond. His gun was drawn as he swept the room with his eyes.
eyes were still wide with fear and confusion. "What?"
no one in the room except his charge, the SF relaxed his alert stance and
lowered his gun. "You screamed, General." He took another step inside the
room, leaving the door open. "Are you all right?"
huffed as he tried to get his breathing under control. "Yeah, guess so."
He scrubbed his face with his hands, wiping away sweat from his face. He
looked at his wet hands and then dried them on his boxers. "Bad dream,
that's all." He waved away any assistance as he untangled the sheets that
imprisoned his legs. Jack smiled in embarrassment as he rose on shaky legs
and walked toward the bathroom.
"Sir?" The male SF seemed uncertain.
turned. "At ease, son." He raised an eyebrow. "If you don't mind . . .,"
he gestured toward the open bathroom door.
"Oh, sorry, sir." The door snicked closed, cutting off the light from the
mechanically turned on the water in the bathroom sink, his mind far away
as he attempted to sort out the remnants of his dream versus reality. The
sound of running water caught his attention. He dipped cupped hands under
the steady stream to scoop cold water over his lowered face, which left
raised his dripping face to gaze at his reflection in the mirror. Haunted
dark brown eyes rimmed with blood-shot whites were underscored with dark
pouches. His high cheekbones no longer accented a lean face; instead he
stared at the face of a death-camp survivor.
'Crap! The Doc isn't going to like this. So
much for gaining back that weight and getting off restricted duty. It's
not my fault if the food they serve here tastes like crap, is
shuddered as he realized he hadn't looked that bad since Iraq. Jack
grabbed the hand towel and scrubbed his face roughly, and reveled in the
sensation as it grounded him to what was real. Towel in hand, he shuffled
back toward his bed and then stopped. The clock on the table read 0315
what's the use," Jack muttered as he headed back for the bathroom. Once
there he hung up the towel and stripped off his boxers and shirt. "There's
lots of important paperwork waiting for you anyway," he added with a wince
'Crap, just thinking about all that damned
paperwork and those requisitions makes my stomach ache.'
gulped and swallowed convulsively as bile rose from his stomach, scalding
his throat. Jack stared at the sink and splashed cold water on his face in
the hope that the insidious fear that cobwebbed his brain would disappear.
His brain retrieved the sickening details of his latest nightmare as
Fifth's words saturated and controlled his thoughts.
Fifth smirked. "I've still got the real Samantha,
Jack's eyes widened. "No, you promised to send her
Fifth's eyes glittered with rage. "Just like you
promised to wait for me? To take me with you?"
Jack searched the room and saw what looked like
Carter's evil twin cowering in the corner. He shook his head. No, that
wasn't how it'd happened. Was it? Fifth had kept his word and sent the
real Carter back. That had been their bargain, he would stay and endure
. . . whatever Fifth wanted in return for her freedom. But now, Fifth
was saying that he'd sent back her evil twin, and that Carter was still
here, with them. It couldn't be, could it? He sniffed the air and
inhaled that special fragrance that he'd grown to know and
Jack screamed. "No!"
He blinked his eyes and realized with a start that
he was still staring at the mirror, seemingly mesmerized by his gaunt
reflection. The water was still running in the sink. With a shake of his
head he turned it off, then ran a shaky hand through his hair.
He continued his own tirade and muttered. "You might
as well just shower and get back to work. There's no way in hell you'll
get any sleep now." He reached in and turned on the shower.
Jack stepped under the hot water and let it cascade
down his back as he leaned his forehead against the tiled wall. Tense
neck and back muscles responded to the pounding water and gradually
He sighed in relief. "God, I needed that."
Grabbing the soap and a washcloth, he worked up
a generous lather. Jack turned and soaped up his face and his hair. One
advantage to such short hair was being able to substitute soap for
expensive shampoos that usually smelled like a fricking flower shop
anyway. He sighed with pleasure as the hot water kneaded his scalp,
cascading down his back to drip off his buttocks and swirl down the
drain as it washed away more than just dirt.
His chest was next as he scrubbed his muscles
vigorously. His tense abdominal muscles gradually loosened under his
ministrations. He sucked in his gut, eyed his six-pack, and
'Not bad for an old fart, the crunches are
Though the Doc had complained that there was no
fat at all left on his body, warning him that his muscles would
deteriorate next if he didn't start eating, she'd even prescribed some
of those nasty tasting protein shakes for him. Jack had responded by
pouring them down the toilet in his quarters.
He lathered up his washcloth again and attacked
his legs and feet. The warm water felt good. Installing that shower
massage in his personal quarters at the SGC had been a great idea, he
mused. Josh had even insisted on installing it himself.
The pounding of the hot water combined with the
washcloth provoked a half-hearted arousal in his groin. The normally
welcome feeling brought with it evil memories.
Jack shuddered as the specters that haunted his
dreams revisited him. In revulsion, he scrubbed at his face and torso in
a vain effort to wash away the remembrance of how he'd been violated by
Carter's evil Replicator twin. When this attempt at cleansing failed, he
sighed and studied his reddened, almost raw skin, the clear result of
many such frantic scrubbings.
"Crap!" The wadded washcloth thudded against the tile wall.
Mesmerized, Jack watched the washcloth slide to
the shower floor and then turned and adjusted the knobs. A clicking
noise spun him around and he glared at the washcloth lying crumpled in a
heap in the tiled corner. Eyes narrowed, he nudged the wet terrycloth
rag with a wary toe. It slumped over, but did nothing more. Jack huffed
a pent-up breath, relieved that it hadn't sprouted metallic legs and
scuttled away like one of Fifth's pet bugs.
He looked up sharply when he heard the same
chirring noise and jumped when the showerhead spurted a jet of hot
water. "Holy crap!" he hissed dodging the too hot stream of liquid.
Warily, he extended one arm and shut off the hot water tap. Jack leaned
into the water and stood with legs apart, his arms propping him up as
the now frigid water hit his back.
Jack quivered as the cold water peppered his
back and then his upturned face. Fully awake and aware now, he twisted
the knobs off, jerked open the steamed up shower door and grabbed a
towel. With economic movements, he efficiently dried himself off, but
his mind was far away.
With a final scrub to his face and hair, he
draped the towel around his hips and snagged a can of shaving cream. He
smeared the creamy lather over his whiskers, then wiped off the steamy
mirror and began shaving. It wouldn't do to have a General with a face
that looked like Ho Chi Minh's casualty report, he reasoned.
He stuck out his tongue and grunted when it
wasn't covered in the furry substance his taste buds insisted was there.
Instead of just settling for brushing his teeth, he scrubbed his tongue
with the toothbrush too, in the hopes that the dead gopher taste would
dissipate. It didn't. Crap.
That necessary chore accomplished, he hung up
the towel and padded into the bedroom where his navy-blue BDU's hung in
As he sat on his bed and laced up his boots, he
thought about his schedule for the day. 'Sometimes I wonder if letting
them promote me to General was such a great idea. I never get to go
through the Gate anymore.'
Jack finished with one boot and then grabbed the
laces of the other. 'I'll just betcha that Walter O'Radar will be
waiting for me as soon as I get to my office. Sometimes that guy creeps
me out. Nobody should be that efficient.'
Jack bloused his pants and then stood and looked
at his reflection in the mirror. He looked like a scarecrow in his baggy
uniform. He flicked an invisible speck of lint from his shoulder and
tugged at his shirt. The image staring back at him didn't change.
'You look like an imposter, Jack. Those
stars on your collar still don't look like they belong there. The eagles
looked way better than those pointy stars. Stars mean you're "The Man"
and get you into trouble. There's nothing wrong with eagles, are
He smoothed his uniform and then shrugged as he
waved a dismissive hand at his reflection. "Aw, what do you know
General O'Neill, 'The Man' in charge of the SGC
and all the personnel assigned there turned and headed for the door. He
nodded to the SF outside his door as he passed; mentally shrugging off
the irritation he felt when he heard him fall in behind him.
'Hammond's orders, my ass, it's getting so
they won't let me take a crap on my own. Sure, I know what they said,
that I'm too valuable to risk and all that. It's not my fault that
someone is always kidnapping my ass when I least expect it, is
Jack rubbed the back of his neck and rolled his
shoulders as he walked, nope, the tight knot in his muscles was back. It
centered right about where he imagined the eyes of the SF following him
were. He resisted the urge to look behind him and searched for something
else for his sleep-deprived mind to latch onto.
'Gotta get some caffeine. The grade of
sludge they call coffee in the commissary should do the trick. It's high
test and probably could be used as jet engine fuel. They always keep a
pot brewing for us morons who are too dumb to know better or too keyed
up to sleep. Betcha I'll see Carter there too.' His brow wrinkled as his
step faltered. 'If it's really her.'
Whistling tunelessly, Jack stuck his hands in
his pockets. He stopped suddenly and smirked when the SF scrambled to
avoid colliding with him. "You up for some java?"
Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter was surprised to see
her CO, General O'Neill, saunter into the Commissary. Though, come to
think of it, she shouldn't have been. Their meetings were becoming all
too familiar as both of them fought with their inner demons.
She smiled a
greeting as he strolled to her table, hands in his pockets, looking like
he didn't have a care in the world. 'Yeah, right,
and Newton didn't get knocked on the head
with an apple, either.'
O'Neill draped his long elegant fingers on the
back of a chair. "This seat taken, Carter?"
"No, sir. It's all yours." Sam sipped at her cup
of coffee to smother her grin as Jack shot a look of distaste at the
hovering SF. "I heard the coffee here is to die for."
"I wouldn't go that far, but it's loaded with
caffeine and will do in a pinch, sir." Sam took another sip and winced.
It really was strong and was probably from the bottom of the pot. No
telling how long it had been brewing.
"Your coffee, sir." The SF smoothly set a
steaming cup and saucer on the table in front of O'Neill, and then
retired to a nearby table with his own cup.
O'Neill wiped his face and grimaced. "I could've
gotten it myself, you know."
Sam looked at her Jack, her CO, she reminded
herself . . . again. "They just want to help out, sir." She looked down
at her half-empty cup. "Think of it as one of the perks of your
His eyes crinkled as his grin showed off his
dimple. "No pun intended?"
Sam blushed and averted her eyes. "Are you
kidding? This is me we're talking about." She peeked through her lashes.
"No pun intended, sir."
The general picked up his coffee cup and eyed
its contents suspiciously. Predictably, he stuck his forefinger into it,
dipped out a bit of flotsam, and then flicked it away.
O'Neill raised one eyebrow. "What?"
"You're so predicable." Sam dipped her head and
toyed with a napkin.
She looked up, and noted his eyebrow was still
raised. "You and your coffee. What exactly is wrong with it?"
O'Neill looked nonchalant. "Oh, you know . . .
Sam smirked. "Stuff, sir? Is that the technical
term for it?"
"Nah, I leave that stuff to you. You're the
genius when it comes to technical stuff, ya know." He took a sip of the
brew and winced. "Strong."
Sam took a moment to study her CO, he looked
like he still wasn't' eating and from the bags under his eyes, he wasn't
sleeping either. Not really surprising considering that he was drinking
coffee with her when he should have been asleep.
'Sleep, yeah, as if you can talk, Sam.
You're not sleeping either, you know. Why else would you be here instead
of occupying a perfectly nice bed in your quarters? You can't even use
the excuse that you're working on some project in your lab, not since
you started getting freaked out whenever you even go near the place.
Holy Hannah, what's happening to you, girl? You've always been able to
deal with everything by working in your lab, now you can't even go to
there without breaking out in a sweat.'
Sam took an
absent-minded sip of her cooling coffee, lost in her thoughts. 'If
only you didn't start thinking about what
happened when Jack's evil twin bug person trapped you there. But every
time you go inside that place, that's all you see. Him, no IT and that
fake smirk IT had.'
Sam shuddered and coughed as the coffee went
down the wrong tube. She set the cup down and covered her mouth as the
coughs shook her thin frame.
A hand on her shoulder startled her. "Carter?"
She looked up into brown eyes that looked concerned. "You all
She coughed again and cleared her throat. "Um,
yeah." Cough. "Think so."
The hand left her shoulder and when she looked
up, O'Neill was back in his chair. "Well, you look like crap,
"You been getting any sleep?" She felt his eyes
bore into hers and her gaze dropped to the contents of her now empty
Sam cleared her throat. "Some," she whispered.
"Not enough." She looked up to see her Jack's
gaze fixed on her. He seemed concerned.
He continued. "You know Kay starts today."
Sam picked up her wadded napkin and spread it
out on the table top, concentrating on smoothing out the wrinkles with
her fingers. "So?"
"I'd like you to see her, Sam." Her fingers
missed a beat at his use of her first name. "I'm worried about you." He
paused. "Is that a crime?"
Her finger resumed her task of smoothing out her
napkin, one that had taken on extreme importance. She shrugged but kept
her eyes on the napkin. "I don't know. Depends."
Jack's voice was soft. "Depends on what?"
She paused to take time to pick her words.
"Depends on who's asking." Sam looked up. "My CO . . . or my Jack."
Her eyes watched as his gaze dropped from her
face to his cup. "Can't it be both?"
Sam smiled uncertainly. "I suppose."
Jack's brown eyes were back on her face. "So,
will ya go see her? For me?"
Sam felt all resolve and fear melt with the
force of her Jack's eyes on her. "Yes, Jack. I'll go. For you."
Jack smiled. "Good."
Sam resumed her study of her napkin, and bit her
lip. "Yeah, that's good."
"Yep, hunky dory, peachy keen." Jack huffed out a breath. "So."
Sam looked up, a question in her eyes. "Sir?"
"Working on any new doohickeys?"
Sam returned her attention to the already smooth
napkin. "Um, sure." She straightened out her shoulders and look up. "In
fact, I was just heading there." Her fingers traced the outlines of the
paper in front of her.
"Mind if I tag along?" Jack emptied his cup and
"What?" Sam's forehead furrowed in
concentration. She'd found another wrinkle in the napkin.
A tap on the table startled her as those same
long elegant fingers rested on the table by her napkin. "Earth to
Sam blinked guilty eyes and then raised her gaze
to her CO. "Oh, sorry, sir. I was just thinking."
"Nah, you?" Her Jack reappeared for a moment and
then was replaced by her CO. "C'mon. I'll walk you to your lab." His
fingers grabbed the napkin, wadded it up and crammed it into his coffee
Sam chewed on the inside of her lip as she
watched her napkin being taken from her. All that hard work . . . and it
hadn't been smoothed out yet. She paused a moment, her fingers itching
to take back what was hers, then instead stuffed her hands under the
"Okay, sir. Just give me a minute." She scooted
her chair back, which gave her a chance to collect her thoughts.
'Holy, Hannah. Does he know I can't go in there? That
I haven't been there for days?
She searched his face as she stood up. He seemed
relaxed, as much as he had been since . . . before.
'No, I don't think he does. He's just trying to be
supportive, that's all.'
'And why am I getting all worked up over a fricking
napkin? I mean, it's not as if it were a naquada reactor, or anything
important. Still though, it was MY napkin and he took it away from
Military training automatically taking over, Sam
fell into step with her superior officer as her mind grappled with
finding a way out of visiting her lab.
Her inner thoughts were interrupted by her
General's mutter of disgust. "Oh, for crying out loud. Does he have to
follow me everywhere?"
"Sure, I know Hammond said it's for my own good,
but I get tired of having someone tagging along with me everywhere I
go." Jack stuck his hands in his pockets, but not before she noted they
were clenched. "I wouldn't put up with it if anyone else but Hammond had
asked me to do it."
Not knowing what else to say, Sam wrapped her
arms around her torso and said nothing. She knew the bodyguard had come
about as a direct order, not a request, and that it had the full backing
of President Hayes. She also knew that Jack was fully aware of those
facts, and why the bodyguard was there. Sam was grateful that one hadn't
been assigned to her, because given that she'd been kidnapped too, it
wouldn't have been out of the realm of possibility to happen.
"He's just doing his job, sir." She replied
General O'Neill shrugged. "Yeah, I know he is,
but his job is driving me nuts."
Sam smothered a laugh with one hand and turned
it into a cough. "Sorry, sir."
Jack looked at her in disbelief. "Better do
something about that cough, Colonel."
She cleared her throat and licked dry lips.
Well, here we are, Carter's lab and chocolate
emporium." Jack waved her toward the closed door and then stopped as she
hesitated. "What's the matter?"
Thinking quickly, she stuck her hands in her
pants pockets and drew them out. "How silly of me, I forgot my swipe
card, can't get in." Pasting a false smile on her face she looked
"No problem, I'll use mine. One of the perks of
being "The Man" is that mine can get me into anyplace on the base." He
removed his card and ran it through the keycard slot. The door buzzed
and then clicked open. Jack turned the doorknob and motioned her inside
Caught with no other choice, she straightened
her shoulders. "Thanks, sir." She wrapped her arms around her torso and
shivered. After a moment of hesitation, she stepped inside and turned on
the lights. The neon lights flickers and hummed as they shed light over
what was once her safe haven, the one place she could go to escape when
reality got too tough to face.
Jack's voice behind her had her spinning in
place. "See, everything's where it should be."
She gagged as bile rose from her stomach; the
acidy taste of stale coffee making her feel nauseous. With one hand
covering her mouth, she barged past her CO.
"Excuse me," she mumbled, her voice muffled by
her hand. She ran down the hall, swallowing frantically to keep from
puking on the floor. Reaching the bathroom, she ran toward the nearest
toilet and knelt down in the stall as her guts emptied into the
porcelain bowl. She grabbed a wad of toilet paper and wiped her mouth,
then began retching again but nothing came up. Bent double, her face
supported by her arm across the toilet, she continued to retch, feeling
totally helpless and miserable.
After what seemed like forever, her stomach
calmed and she sat back, leaning against the bathroom stall wall because
she felt too shaky to get to her feet. Sam unrolled more toilet paper
and used it to wipe her forehead that felt cold and clammy.
A knock came at the stall door. "Colonel
Carter?" Sam wiped her mouth again and grimaced with distaste. Her mouth
tasted of bile and vomit.
"General O'Neill asked me to check on you. He
said you were sick."
Sam struggled to her feet, using the walls of
the stall as a support to hold up her still shaky legs. "I'll be all
right," she lied. "Probably something I ate."
She opened the door to see a concerned nurse who
looked like she didn't believe her lie. "He wants me to escort you to
the Infirmary, just in case, ma'am."
Sam smiled a wan smile that even she knew wasn't
convincing. "Okay, just give me a minute to wash up, okay?"
"Of course, ma'am." She unobtrusively took
Carter's arm and supported her toward the sinks.
"Thanks, I think I can manage the rest." Sam
turned on the water and let it run while she leaned against the sink,
letting it support her. She jerked in surprise when she felt a wet towel
brush across her neck and then her forehead.
Giving the nurse a wan smile of thanks, Carter
allowed it. "Thanks, I needed that. Guess I might as well head to the
Infirmary and get it over with, because quite frankly, I feel like
When they opened the door and stepped into the
hallway, the first person they saw was O'Neill, leaning against the
opposite wall, his fingers fiddling with the string of a yo-yo.
His fingers froze when their eyes met. "You okay?"
She averted her eyes. "Guess we'll soon find out, huh.
A male voice echoed down the hallway. "Oh, there
you are, General O'Neill. I've been looking for you." Jack straightened
up from the wall and pocketed his yo-yo. Carter watched as his face
smoothed into an impassive mask, but not before she saw a flicker of
annoyance in his chocolate eyes.
"Good morning, Walter. And what forms of torture
do you have planned for me today?"
Walter was armed with a schedule book and a cup
of coffee. The cup of coffee was given to O'Neill, but he adroitly swept
the schedule out of his CO's reach.
"You have a briefing of all Team leaders at 0730
hours. Plus you have the monthly requisition forms for supplies for the
commissary to review and authorize.
O'Neill rolled his eyes. "What, no toilet paper
"You'll get those tomorrow, sir," Walter
corrected with a reproving glance.
General O'Neill surrendered by raising his
hands. "I'm all yours." He shoved off, cradling his coffee cup. "Duty
calls, Carter." Then he turned to the nurse. "See that she makes it to
the Infirmary, I'll call and check on her later."
The nurse gave him a reassuring smile, but he
was already headed down the hallway, Walter and the SF beside him. "I'll
do that, sir."
Jack waved a hand in acknowledgement as he
continued down the hall sipping his coffee.
The nurse turned to Sam. "After you, ma'am."
Kay Dow let her mind wander, as she drove on
autopilot to her new job. She'd traversed this particular mountain road
often enough now to allow herself that luxury. She shook her head in
'My new job. No, not just mine. Josh's too.
And that's the greatest wonder of all, that my disabled husband is able
to work again, to feel useful. Face it, Kay; you might as well admit it.
This one classifies as a bona fide miracle. There was no way on God's
green earth that you could've known that a few meetings with a prisoner
all those years ago would end up turning into a life-changing moment.
No, make that life saving. If it weren't for General O'Neill's
intervention, Josh would probably be close to death. You knew he didn't
want to live like he was before, unable to work or be the breadwinner
for our kids and us. He's a proud man, you know that as well as
Kay slowed to take a hairpin curve and leaned
into it, chuckling as she imagined Josh rolling his eyes at her actions.
Once before, he'd laughed and asked her if her behavior helped her drive
better. Kay had smirked and told him yes. All the while realizing that
it had absolutely no relevance to how well her mini SUV took the
"I'm a woman and reserve my right to be
absolutely positively irrational and to change my mind for no
discernable reason at all." Kay had smiled in triumph as Josh shook his
head and muttered. "What's that, dear?"
"Ah, nothing." He'd tried to look innocent, and
The curve negotiated successfully, Kay's mind
drifted again. She was making this trip alone, Josh having different
work hours than she, he'd left about two hours before her, happily
babbling about the upcoming projects he'd be performing. Thank God he
was able to do them. He'd been battling depression and it'd been getting
the best of him in the months prior to his recovery. Without his ability
to be useful, she's watched him slip away, his physical and emotional
health in a steep nosedive that she feared could have only one
"And to think that we have a little naked alien
to thank for his return to the work force." Kay tapped her fingers on
the steering wheel and hummed to herself. "Someone must be looking out
for us, that's all there is to it. Even Josh admits it."
The music on the radio shifted to a well-loved
song, "You Raise Me Up". A pinched thumb and forefinger traced the beat
of the music, directing an invisible orchestra as Kay's voice soared
along with her spirit, almost as if she floated weightless among the
wispy clouds that hung in the blue sky.
"When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit a while with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be."
Her heart beat faster, brought there by the
soaring crescendo of the glorious music. She sighed as the song
'Okay, God, you win. It's been You all the
time, hasn't it? If You can help me make those left turns into heavy
traffic, then You'd have no trouble at all finding a way for us to
survive and keep doing Your work, right?'
Kay's brow wrinkled as she tried to gain
perspective on what she was doing, or about to do, since today was her
first official day to do what she'd always felt called to do. Counsel
and guide others to self-awareness.
'Is this where I'm supposed to be right now?
Are you placing me where I'm needed to do your work? If it is, all I ask
is the strength and wisdom to do your will. Is that a deal,
No lightning bolts struck her moving vehicle and
the clouds remained a fluffy white, so she took that as an affirmative
sign from on high. Kay shook her head and laughed, the green Jell-O, as
her friend, Jolene called it, was getting deep.
'Come one, girl. Get a grip. It's your first
day on the job, don't go screwing it up.'
Kay slowed as her goal came in sight, Cheyenne
Mountain Complex. She showed her new ID to the guard at the gate and was
waved on. She shivered with a mixture of delight and apprehension as she
drove inside and parked in a corner, pulling in so she wouldn't have to
back out when she left. It was yet another one of her quirks, one that
her husband approved of.
She noted with a smile that her husband's
metallic blue truck was parked nearby and knew without asking that he'd
parked there so he could get the extra exercise. Now that he could walk
without pain, he seemed to take every opportunity to take advantage of
his newfound physical health. It was like he'd been reborn as he quite
literally leapt at his new opportunity for life. She grinned as her body
reminded her of their night of romance.
Kay wriggled sensuously as she caught sight of
her reflection in the rear-view mirror. Her mirror image smirked back at
her. She couldn't help but note the flush of healthy vitality on her
face, one that didn't come out of a bottle.
'Yep, nothing wrong with that man of mine,
all his parts are most definitely in working order.'
She blushed at the erotic turn her mind was
taking her and sternly told herself to get her mind out of the gutter .
. . for now. There would be plenty of time for that . . . later.
Taking a deep cleansing breath, she stepped
outside her SUV, locked the door and threaded her way through the other
vehicles to the imposing arched entrance. Nervously, she used one finger
to push her thick glasses back up her nose. Then she checked her
clothes, comfortable slacks, top, and jacket in varying shades of her
favorite color, burgundy.
Straightening her shoulders, she heaved a sigh
and mumbled to herself. "Come on, Kay. You can do this."
The new ID badge clipped to her jacket and her
signature on the log allowed her access to the Complex. The other times
she'd been met by an escort, this was her first solo run into what would
in all probability be her home away from home. Her new work place, full
of wonders that would boggle her mind, a doorway to other worlds and
peoples that she'd been granted the opportunity to explore. She
repressed a giggle of excitement.
Kay hoped her eyes weren't too wide and tried to
affect a ho-hum attitude as she walked to the first set of elevators
that would lead to her new office. She signed the log and then entered
the elevator, bouncing back and forth on her heels as it
In the second set of elevators she blew out as
her ears registered the change in air pressure and complained. Wiggling
her jaw back and forth relieved the painful pressure as she reached her
Her first stop would be the morning briefing
with her new boss, Dr. McKenzie, a man that she had grown to respect in
their first few meetings. She'd been pleasantly surprised when the
psychiatrist had confided to her of his relief that she'd been recruited
to aid in the counseling of SGC personnel.
Her respect came from his unusually humble and
candid admission that he found himself to be out of his league when it
came to counseling, his primary training being in psychiatric
pharmacology. It had been her experience that not many psychiatrists
would admit to such a thing, especially to a so-called underling with
only a Masters degree under their belt.
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