Gladys and A. Short. On being an agent's wife.
Hauptfeldwebel - A's rank in the manga. The equivalent of a Sergeant Major in the US military. The man in charge of all the lower enlisted who passes along orders and serves as assistant to the unit's commander.
The boys are usually late coming back from a mission. There are a lot of factors behind that and all the wives and families are used to that. Bad weather, flight delays, last minute paperwork... The phone calls don't start to roll in until after at least three hours have passed. And then Gladys becomes a busy bee.
First on the line is usually Frau H. Frau B is more practical and puts her son to bed before calling. Z's sister will put in a call before midnight as will N's father. Gladys fields all the calls good naturedly, reassuring the family members that things are fine. And she squashes the little thought inside herself that says probably. She trusts A to take care of his men and she trusts the major to take care of her husband. Her face is lit by a smile as she thinks of how A would reply to that. He would retort that it was the other way around thank you very much.
It's not long before dawn when the Eberbach butler calls and her coffee is beginning to cool. She speaks into the phone as she walks across the kitchen to reheat it. The cordless is a new purchase that she is thankful for. It certainly makes it a great deal easier to run her small home business of making salads and desserts. A had suggested it once jokingly, reaching over her shoulder to steal a bite of potato salad. She had slapped his hand before letting him pull her in for a kiss that had only begun as tender...
Several weeks later, she had begun the business in earnest with her husband's full support as he recovered from a gunshot wound to the stomach.
Gladys passes along the information she had heard only an hour before when she had put in a call to the chief. There were some last minute extraction difficulties but everyone had been accounted for. A military plane had been sent so they would be returning on that instead of a civilian aircraft. Yes, she agrees, the major will certainly bring everyone back safely. She fingers the gold band on her left hand as she waits for the water. Of course he will.
She makes a quick call to Frau B, not needing to glance at the phone-tree posted one next to the phone. The two women had gotten together over a luncheon in Cologne one day and made the list. It really was a god-send, cutting down on the amount of time that the Hauptfeldwebel's* wife had to spend on the telephone. The news about the change in aircrafts is given out and then her coffee is done. She returns to the living room, nudging the cat over so that she can pull out the television remote.
She pets the feline's fur. It really was little more than a kitten and she could still remember the day A had brought the little bundle of fur home. His cheeks had been tinged with red as he had explained that E's cat had given birth to several kittens and the man had been desperate to find good homes for them. She hadn't been able to turn either of them away, what with two pairs of pleading blue eyes turned in her direction. The dog had been jealous at first but soon had taken the new arrival to heart when it realized that padding everywhere after the master of the house was not going to be impended by the tiny kitten.
By six her mother calls, asking if her daughter would like her to come over and sit with her. Gladys repeats that she is a grown and competent woman and that while the offer is welcome, it is not needed. She has already grown tired of the news and infomercials about things that she cannot live without and muted the television. The cat has long since crept into her lap and the silence is broken only by the occasional purr. Her novel started well but the current chapter was dry and boring. She sets it down, not bothering to mark her spot. The dog has wandered over as well and claimed a seat beside them on the couch. She should really scold it; no sense in encouraging such a bad habit. But she is so sleepy and simply cannot find the heart to do so right now. The NATO office would be open in a couple more hours. She will call again then. Perhaps some new information has come up. Perhaps... Her eyes drift shut again, this time beyond her power to stop them.
She doesn't stir as the key is fitted in the lock or as the knob turns. Not even the exhausted footsteps thudding through the entryway or the dog leaping up to greet them wake her. Her eyes only open at the feel of her husband's large, rough fingers slipping against her forehead as he tries to brush her hair away from her sleeping face. He blinks and tries to apologize for waking her. The cat manages to escape from her lap and Gladys stops him, knowing if she lets this one apology through he will begin to apologize for a million things: for being late, for being gone too long, for being gone at all. For working in such a demanding field with long hours and large risks. They will never stop and she doesn't want any of them. She does not need them. She doesn't know if he understands this but he quiets and tucks her into his embrace. This she accepts gladly, happily, hugging him back tightly. And this is the thing that she needs in her life.