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She Had Gotten There

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Jordan brushed her greying hair out her eyes and looked down at her reflection in the cheap mirror, trying to objectively see what the Naval doctors saw. She was still slim, though her taut muscles had been whittled away in places and replaced with skin that sagged just slightly, and a few wrinkles. Of course, that was bound to happen when one had spent most of their sixty years roughing it with a bunch of warrior men-children. Her scars each stood out against her mostly-clear skin as lighter reminders of what she had survived to get to this point.

Some she couldn't recall receiving, but most she remembered with deadly accuracy. This one was from an IUD that hit her caravan. That one from a drunk in a bar who had pulled a knife on what he saw as an easy mark. The one by her collarbone was from a secret op in Cambodia. This one was courtesy of Urgayle, as was the one on her brow. The one next to it was from her C-section. And, of course, the large one across her ribs, where the tubes had been stuck when they had to inflate a collapsed lung. There were more, of course, but these were the clearest from her current vantage.

It was amazing, really, the variety of stories behind her scars. Even for a Naval Officer. Even for one assigned to serve in a combat zone. When she allowed herself to, Jordan could drift back in her memories and recall each and every one. She could feel the pain, sharp or dull, short or lasting, of each injury. She could feel hot shrapnel tearing and cool knives slicing. She could hear the crunch of bones and cartilage. She could remember dragging broken arms through the jungle, and limping through the desert. She could remember holding her newborn daughter in tired arms, and the wonderfully sweet, sandy, bloody taste of victory over the Master Chief.

Each scar could be conjured up in her mind, fresh as the moment it happened, if she wished, but Jordan rarely allowed herself to sink that deeply into the past. The past was where memories and pain and regrets resided, and she believed that it was where they should stay. She had always found it more productive to concentrate on the present, and the future, and let the past stay tucked away where it belonged. It was one of the things that made her a good leader, according to the Navy.

But today, as she pulled her uniform back on, she paused for a moment to consider those scars that told as much about her life as the medals on her jacket. More, even, if one really thought about it. Medals had to be acknowledged by superiors before they could be awarded, but scars simply happened, whether anyone saw them or not.

Buttoning her blouse up tightly and pulling her hair back into its neat bun, Jordan was nearly ready when her aide peeked into the room. "Rear Admiral, Ma'am, they're waiting for you."

Jordan smirked and gathered her cover. She might have gotten to where she was the hard way - and her scars were proof of that - but she had gotten there.