Lt. Jasmine Mendes knew the counselor had placed a hand on her shoulder, for support, but she didn’t feel it. She did feel her husband’s anguish at her admission. Even across subspace, she could see how the news had stricken him, devastated him.
As she had known it would in all the scenarios she had thought out, as she had debated whether to tell him or not. She had decided not to. What good would it do to wound him like she had been wounded? What selfish joy could she derive from dragging him into her pit of misery?
So she had carried it around with her, the pain and the guilt, and it had warped her, turned her cold, numb, and afraid of the future.
There were times when she could briefly escape herself and see and hear the terrible way she treated her husband, but felt powerless to change it. In a way she wanted to push Terrence away. She wanted to bear this agony alone. She deserved it.
Jasmine should’ve taken the maternity leave that her captain had offered right before the mission into the Tyra System, but she planned to do so right after. She hadn’t thought the Dominion was going to be all that tough despite what she heard. And she was on the Mandela, a Galaxy-class ship, the best line in the Fleet.
Once the battle for Tyra had been enjoined Jasmine had quickly learned the error of her ways. She had seen little combat during her time in the service and nothing like the demonic fury of the Jem’Hadar.
The Mandela had almost made it out of that abattoir intact, the Dominion had largely fallen back after they had wiped out most of the Fleet and claimed the system. However, one or more of the overzealous monsters had hit the retreating Mandela on a strafing run, shredding what remained of its shields and slicing into Main Engineering. Plasma coolant tanks burst and theta radiation spread through the section, entangling her in its lethal grip. The plasma coolant took away her arm, but the radiation murdered her child and the possibility of having another.
Life had lost something that day, and Jasmine doubted she would ever be able to recover it. So why drag down Terrence, whose future remained so bright?
“Jasmine,” Terrence was quiet, his voice somber. Her heart had fluttered at seeing him again. Broad shoulders, jutting chin, sparkling black eyes, and smooth walnut brown complexion. So strong, so confident…but so sad. She knew the war had taken its toll on him as well, had turned him into something he never thought possible, had made him the author of acts that would haunt him for the rest of his life. He deserved a chance at a happiness she couldn’t give him.
“Jasmine, I love you.” He declared. “And I love you even more now, because of what you’ve been able to come back from, and all by yourself.”
“You-you’re not mad at me? For keeping this from you?” Terrence had told her about a previous relationship with a married woman, Dr. Nya Chace, with whom he had served early in his days on the Cuffe. Their relationship had produced a child, but Chace had terminated the pregnancy once she decided to get back with her husband.
“Listen,” he paused, gathering his words. “I wish you had told me. I wanted to be there for you. This is something we could’ve faced and overcome together.”
“Oh Terrence,” she said, “I couldn’t, I wouldn’t subject you to that.”
“But why,” he cried, his voice clotted with pain.
“No, not after…what happened before,” she said, hoping he would understand. His eyes widened in reply.
“That…had nothing to do with you. That wasn’t your fault.”
“What are you referring to Captain Glover?” T’Luce inquired, reminding Jasmine that the woman was still in the room.
“That’s none of your business,” Jasmine barked, prompting a harsh chuckle from Terrence. She wasn’t going to completely pull out all of Terrence’s skeletons, or her own.
“That’s my girl,” he remarked. But she knew, sadly, that she no longer was.
“Terrence,” she began softly, “I didn’t treat you fairly. I was cold and distant,” she admitted. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize,” he said quickly, “You should never apologize for that. Especially after what you went through,” he declared, “But now that it’s out in the open, we can move on from this, together.”
“No,” Jasmine shook her head. “We can’t.”
“I don’t understand,” he frowned. “I don’t love you any less; your scars mean nothing to me. I just want you back.”
“Terrence…dear, our problems are deeper than even what happened to our child,” Jasmine remarked. “You know that.”
“I-I…what do you mean?”
“It was always a tempestuous pairing. We were so opposite, yet not so opposite at all it seemed,” Jasmine replied wistfully, as she remembered their early courting days from Deep Space Five.
“We complemented each other,” Terrence offered. “We accentuated each other.”
“Yes,” she nodded. “We did for a time, but maybe we are just too different for this to work. Especially if we don’t have something like children, our own family, binding us together.”
“Jasmine, if we really want to make this work, we can,” he stated. “I do, but the question is, do you?”
She sat back, not sure how to respond. She looked to the counselor, but the Vulcan merely looked at her with open curiosity. T’Luce was curious about her answer too. What good you are as a counselor, Jasmine huffed. She was glad she didn’t have to pay the woman for her time, another benefit of living in a moneyless economy.
She sighed and gathered herself. She gazed straight at her husband. “Terrence, I could tell you maybe, and that’s how I feel, but that isn’t the right thing to do. I need time, I need space, I need to understand who I am now, what I want now since I can’t have a family with you. Since I can’t be the wife and mother I had wanted to be. And it would be wrong to ask you to wait around for me to find the answers I need to seek. So…I still want the divorce.”
“Jazz, please,” Terrence was shaking so badly, his teeth chattered. “D-Don’t do this.”
“I have to,” She said, touching where his face would be. “In time, I hope you understand.”
“My God Jazz,” he replied. “How could you expect me to understand that? That you want to end our marriage? That you want to leave me,” he said, now looking away. He sniffled.
“No,” he turned back to her, his eyes burning coals. “You’ve had your say. Now, it’s my turn. I love you, I’ve loved you since before even I knew how to describe that tightening in my chest and that heat across my skin whenever I was in your presence. There’s been no one in the galaxy, except you, that would ever make me think about settling down, of altering my career plans, but that is what I had wanted to do with you.
And I’ll do that, for you. I’ll leave Starfleet right now. I just want to be there for you, with you.”
“I’m not finished,” he exhaled, his body deflating. “But-but I haven’t been honest with you either.” His dead eyed look pinned her to her seat. “As much as I want to rail against your decision to end our marriage, you might be right.”
Jasmine was stunned. Terrence never gave up on anything, or anyone. Ever. “Terrence…”
“Jazz, Jasmine,” He said, his eyes boring into her. “I haven’t been faithful,” he said the words plainly, clearly, in his command voice. But Jasmine still hadn’t heard him.
“It…happened several months ago. Only once…with Dr. Cole,” he said, his voice cracking as his eyes lost focus. He lowered his head. Jasmine couldn’t believe it. She had met the winsome medic in passing, and she and Terrence had seemed to be quite friendly, but she never would’ve imagined that something like this was going on.
“Only once? Like that’s supposed to make it okay?” She balked. Her bluster covered the hot knife digging into her stomach.
“I know, I know it doesn’t,” he said quickly, “But that’s the truth, and we both knew it was wrong as soon as it was over. That’s why she left the ship.”
“How dare you bring me onto the same ship you had her on! Is that why you did it, you needed a new playmate?” The blade continued ripping into her insides. At the moment she prayed it would hit a vital organ so she didn’t have to hear any more from Terrence.
“Of course not, I wanted you with me because sleeping with Rieta brought it home how much I loved you and needed you in my life.”
“Hell Jazz, it wasn’t like you were much of a wife to me then.”
“Bastard! And-and after what I just shared with you.”
“I didn’t know, I didn’t know that at the time,” Glover’s voice was raw with agony. “All I knew, all I felt was my wife pulling away from me, pushing me away, not wanting us to be together. Rieta was…she was just different. We bonded during the war…and I let it spiral out of control.”
“And you’re telling me this now?”
“I want us to be together,” he said, “but it has to be based on trust, all around. You were honest with me and I wanted to be honest with you.”
“Terrence, I knew you were capable of many things, but nothing like this. I never could imagine you a cheater, as someone who would betray his vows…as someone who would hurt me like this.”
“I didn’t either…until it happened. But it was one night…one time. I know, God I know what a mistake it was. I want another chance, I need another chance, please give me another chance.” He was up now, hovering in front of her. Terrence lowered to one knee to be eye level with her. “Please…” She had heard Terrence beg more in this counseling session than she had ever in her life. She knew he loved her, and that knowledge melted her heart. But Jasmine also knew that love sometimes just wasn’t enough.
She reached out to him, her hand hovering over where his heart would be parsecs away. “I’m sorry Terrence, but this is for the best. For both of us, it would seem. I need to find my way again, and maybe you do to.”
“That’s not what I wanted to hear,” he admitted. “It’s what I’ve been dreading hearing, even if I it could feel it coming.” He reached out, attempting to clutch the hand over his heart. She pulled it away. Terrence stood up and resumed his position.
The sparkle was gone from his eyes, and his expression was impassive. But Jasmine knew him well enough to know how crushed he was, and how he was trying to put on a brave front. “I-I’ll sign the papers and send them to you in the morning.”
“Thank you Terrence, it really is for…” He deactivated the link. The concluding words died on Jasmine’s tongue. She crumpled over as the knife sliced her open. Deluged in tears, she couldn’t talk, she barely could breathe. She knew she was a mess, and that her emotional meltdown must have been disgusting to the Vulcan counselor, but the other woman kindly said nothing. In fact, T’Luce calmly waited for her to right herself again. The counselor waited a long time.