March 2011 Challenge: "Night Catches Us"
Submitted for the Challenge theme: "Epic Fail"
Captain Terrence Glover swallowed hard as the dual images resolved on the holographic communicator pad. He had spent a substantial sum to secure usage of the holo-communicator. The technology was rare even in the Federation, which made it nearly nonexistent on the infrequently policed border between the Orion Syndicate and Klingon Empire.
Terrence didn’t want to think about the debt he now owed and who he owed it to. All that mattered was the result. He gasped, breathless, as his wife Jasmine stood before him. The woman was striking, tall, chocolate, with hazel eyes. She had changed her hair since last they met. The austere bun had been replaced by a sleek bob, hiding her forehead and flaring out behind to her neck. She was so lifelike, Glover fought the urge to reach out and push back errant hair strands covering her left eye. “Jazz,” he whispered, his voice choking with emotion.
“Terrence,” she said flatly. He hoped that it was just a quirk of the communication device that made her sound so remote. Though deep down he suspected otherwise. The last time they had talked, on her ship the Meharry, Jasmine had asked him for a divorce. He had been so stunned, so hurt, that he hadn’t been able to respond.
It had taken him days to accept what she had proposed, but he could never do that. He had refused and he had demanded, asked, and finally begged for her to reconsider. Jasmine had at first been adamant.
Forgoing his pride, Terrence enlisted Pell Ojana, an old friend for him, and a new friend for Jasmine. The Bajoran had been reluctant to get involved, but he knew she would. And it was because of Pell’s efforts that Jasmine had at least conceded to marriage counseling.
The second person on the pad was a petit, severe looking Vulcan. “Counselor T’Luce, I presume.”
The woman dipped her head slightly. She was sitting in a chair. “You presume correctly Captain Glover.” Jasmine had insisted on discussing their marital problems with a complete stranger, someone totally objective, and Terrence couldn’t disagree that no species he had thus encountered was better than Vulcans at being impartial and objective. “Shall we begin,” T’Luce said. The counselor gestured to Jasmine and that’s when Terrence noticed the couch behind his wife.
Just seeing Jasmine again had so captivated him that he hadn’t paid attention to her surroundings. Terrence hoped his estranged wife was similarly distracted. He didn’t want her to known about the seedy, vole hole he was in right now. Nor did he want her to know about some of the questionable things he had been doing as part of his search for his father.
In June, his father had disappeared. As soon as Terrence had been released from Jaros II, after voluntarily joining his crew to show how much he appreciated them breaking the law to save his life, the captain had set out to find him.
Admiral Samson Glover was a predictable man, and for him to go off, without leaving any way to contact him, Terrence knew something was wrong, or that Starfleet had sent him on a dangerous mission. Of course, Command wouldn’t tell him anything so he had resolved to find out for himself. The war and what his crew had done for him had reinforced in Terrence’s mind that you had to take care of your own.
If things didn’t go well with Jasmine, Samson and his long distance Uncle Sheldon would be the only family Terrence had left. He had failed Jasmine, but he would be damned if he let his father get entangled into something he might not be able to handle.
“Captain Glover, would you care to start?” The Vulcan prodded. Terrence hadn’t realized a chasm of silence had formed since T’Luce had first suggested they commence.
“Well, I, uh,” he said, his nerves getting the best of him. He had never been one to share his feelings, unless around intimates. He paused, took a deep breath, and pulled it together. Terrence knew he was going to have to do this. He had to open up, he had to show Jasmine how much she meant to him. He didn’t want to face the future without her.
“I guess,” he paused again. “I don’t want a divorce,” he said, his emotions surging to thrust everything on his mind and heart out at once. He pushed back against that impulse. He needed to order his thoughts. He needed Jasmine to understand. “I know that things have been tough, really for the last several years. But we were at war, hardships were plentiful, for everyone.” Jasmine didn’t react. She just sat there, looking at him, or off into space. He really couldn’t tell.
“Go on,” T’Luce said after a short time.
“I thought things were going fine,” Terrence said, his voice hitching. Memories of the night he had spent with Dr. Rieta Cole slashed at him. They had finally given into their mutual attraction and it had been a catastrophic mistake. He hadn’t been able to muster the courage to tell Jasmine he had betrayed her, and now he was afraid admitting it would totally ruin his chances to save his marriage.
Jasmine had already been ready to bolt without even knowing about his infidelity. T’Luce leaned forward, her pointed ears twitching. She caught the hitch, he realized with gloom. Terrence froze up, waiting for the inevitable question, but thankfully it didn’t come. He proceeded slowly, “I know Jasmine thinks having children with her are important to me, well I can’t lie, it was. But the war changed a lot of things.”
“But it didn’t change that, you know it,” Jasmine charged, her voice heated. “I’m damaged goods to you, aren’t I Terrence?”
He reared back as if punched, “How could you even think such a thing? Much less say it?”
Jasmine shook her head. “I’m not even a full person anymore,” she tapped her artificial arm. She had lost her real one early in the war.
“You’re my wife,” he declared, “And I don’t want that to change, ever.”
“Really?” T’Luce asked, the question a well placed danger. Terrence gulped.
Here it comes, he realized.
“What do you mean by that question Counselor?” Jasmine asked.
“I see that the captain is expert on making pronouncements, but do you feel his actions match his declarations?”
“Well,” Jasmine pondered it, “I don’t know.”
“How can you say that?” He asked, exasperated. “I even got you on Aegis so that we could be together.”
“I’ve read both of your profiles,” T’Luce said. “Neither of you spent much time together before or after your marriage.”
“Our courtship was haphazard,” Terrence admitted. “And a couple little things like two wars overshadowed building our marriage.”
“I see,” the Vulcan replied, tapping her sharp chin. “Do you concur Lt. Mendes?” Terrence’s heart seized in his chest. Jasmine had already gone back to using her maiden name.
“I guess,” Jasmine ventured. “No, Terrence is correct. There was very little time to build a foundation for our marriage. We were pulled every which way, and then the incident,” his wife faltered and Terrence’s heart thudded in his chest.
“The Tyra System,” T’Luce remarked. “Would you care to discuss it?”
“No, she wouldn’t,” Terrence snapped. Jasmine’s iciness thawed and she granted Terrence a small smile.
“It’s okay Terrence,” she said quietly. “I lost my arm in the Tyra System. The Dominion assault there was brutal.”
“I am aware,” T’Luce said. “I counseled several of the survivors.” Jasmine nodded at the woman, apparently in understanding. “Please excuse my interruption,” the counselor added before Glover snipped at her about it.
“It…it left me feeling not whole, as…less of a woman,” she admitted. “I’ll never get over seeing the scarring, the burns for the first time,” Jasmine’s voice cracked and she lowered her head. Terrence reached out to her, his hand slicing through the photonic projection.
“Oh Jazz,” he muttered.
“Not just the amputated arm, but the theta radiation, it…it left me barren,” Jasmine said, her voice choking with tears.
“Jasmine,” Tears streaked Terrence’s face. “I love you. I don’t care about having kids.”
“But I do,” she snapped, her hazel eyes flashing and her nostrils flaring. “I wanted us to be a family.”
“We are a family,” he pleaded. “Jazz, please just give me…”
“No, no you don’t understand,” she shook her lowered head, her voice sounding like it was coming from an infernal pit. Her whole body shook. “I-I never told you…how could I…”
“Jazz-Jasmine, I don’t understand,” he began.
“I…,” she paused, to loudly suck in air. She looked at him, her eyes rimmed in tears. “I was pregnant.”