I escaped to the Starbase, knowing that it was very possible that I could bump into Stephen. Thankfully, I did not see the man, but I did see Sonora in the distance. She had a small child with her, a little girl. I thought Sonora looked right at me, but she turned on her heel and walked off into the opposite direction.
After grabbing a snack in a Klingon restaurant, I returned to the Defiant, hoping that Sisko had calmed down.
I did not see Sisko as I crossed the bridge, nor were any of my other friends on duty. I found Miles and Julian in the mess hall, playing tongo.
"Mind if I watch?" I asked.
Julian nodded, "Please, sit."
Neither was very good at the game, but I noticed what they lacked in skill, they made up in enthusiasm.
"Full consortium," O'Brien said, throwing down his cards. I shook my head patiently.
"No," I said. "That's not right. You've got a total monopoly there. That's even better."
"I'm never going to get this game," the chief said in despair.
I tapped his shoulder gently, in a comforting gesture.
"Another round?" the chief asked. Bashir shook his head and got up. I stared after the doctor, wondering what was wrong with him.
"Commander, could you please explain something to me about this game?" O'Brien asked as he laid his cards down on the table. I nodded and briefly went over what each card meant.
I got up from the table and walked over to where Bashir had found himself a spot near the window.
"What are you looking at?" I asked softly.
Bashir shrugged, as he indicated the starbase glowing silver just off the port side.
"Nothing," he said.
"Well, you know, you could leave the ship. Sisko said we could."
"I know, but there's nothing really out there for me, you know?"
"You could try."
"Try what? Play darts? Wander around sampling the different cuisines? Meeting wonderfully attractive and exotic women?" Bashir shook his head. "I don't think so."
"Look, there's no telling how long we're going to be stuck on this ship. When we leave next week, well… that's it, Julian. We might not be coming back for a long time."
"Well, maybe it's because I think it's all artificial there," Bashir answered. "It's like the war doesn't even exist when we leave this ship. At least here, I've tethered myself to some kind of reality."
"If you like reality," O'Brien joined in. "You know, Julian, I found a great holosuite program. Kayaking through the Grand Canyon. It's spectacular."
"Maybe some other time."
I shrugged and O'Brien offered an apologetic smile.
I felt bad for Julian and wished there was something I could do for him, but I knew it would be up to him to pull himself out of his current emotional doldrums. Instead, I knew there was something I had to do.
It was almost as if Sisko was expecting me. He immediately poured out a raktijino as I settled uncomfortably in the lone chair.
"You really should pull rank and get some nicer quarters," I said casually and also as a way to ignore the earlier tension between us; to be honest, I hated being at loggerheads with my old friend. Sisko nodded.
"This is fine for now," he answered.
"Benjamin, I'm sorry."
"Sorry? For what?"
"For yesterday. You were right. You offered me an answer and I didn't like it, so I got mad. I'm sorry about that."
Sisko smiled enigmatically, "Perhaps I was a little hard on you."
"A little? You practically accused me of infidelity!" I burst out. "I have no intention of betraying Worf, Benjamin."
"But you thought about it."
"What do you mean?" I asked softly.
"You thought about it, what it would be like to be with Stephen again. Didn't you?"
Benjamin didn't answer; instead he sipped his raktijino, peering over the rim of the mug at me.
"Okay, maybe you are right… a little," I said slowly. "I won't deny that I feel something for him. I'm just not sure what it is. It's something very primal, very atavistic."
"I rest my case."
"I hate it when you're right. But I told him today to stay away from me, Benjamin."
"Do you think he will?"
I shook my head, "No, I don't think so. I really don't think so."
That night, in my cramped quarters, I thought about the first time I had seen Stephen, how he had immediately stood out among all the other cadets at Starfleet Academy. Everyone - especially the women - had flocked around him, and though I thought he was attractive, I never thought I had a chance with him.
He first spoke to me on a Wednesday (funny the details you remember) when I was hunched over my books in the library. He sat down from me, slinging his backpack on the table, so that it slid over and nudged my book off the table.
"You're Jadzia," he had said by way of greeting. "Hi, I'm Stephen. I like you. Want to go out?" I had been taken aback, stunned by his brashness, stunned that he had noticed me.
Of course I had sputtered out a feeble, "All right."
"Great," Stephen had stood up then. "I'll pick you up tonight. At eight. I know this great place for dinner. We'll have a great time. Trust me."
Now, as I lay in bed, I thought about how silly I had been then, so trusting to go with Stephen. And then, for four years, to tag after him, basking in his glow. There were times then I had felt as if I should break free, that my relationship with him was all wrong, but something had prevented me from doing so.
And now, that same feeling was seeping through me, that feeling of utter helplessness when Stephen was around.
I knew that I should avoid Stephen now but somehow, I knew that even my best efforts at evasion would be futile; Stephen had found me and I knew in my heart, he would not honor my request that he stay away.
They say a woman's intuition is never wrong and mine certainly has never let me down. Sure enough, Stephen Lam found me once again as I was strolling through the arboretum on Starbase 357.
"Langorian violets," Stephen said quietly, as he swooped down and gently snapped off a velvety bloom. "For you, Jadzia."
I took the flower carefully; its petals shuddered at my touch.
"Like you," Stephen said, fingering each petal softly. "I remember touching you like this."
I shook my head, "Stephen, stop."
Stephen looked absolutely miserable then, an expression of self-pity which I had never seen before.
"Won't you let me forgive myself for the way I treated you?" he asked softly.
I laughed at him then and walked off. I could hear Stephen behind me, his black shoes softly crunching against the dirt paths. Finally, I turned in exasperation.
"Are you going to follow me all the time?" I asked him.
"Perhaps. Until you give me what I want."
"Well, I'm sorry. It's too late. You're married and I'm engaged."
"Engaged?" Stephen's voice shook slightly. "But-"
"Yes, engaged," I laid deliberate stress on the last word. "I love him."
"Where is he then?" there was a challenge in Stephen's voice, something that made me realize that he was jealous.
"He's with the Klingons," I said softly.
"He's a Klingon?" there was a note of amazement in Stephen's voice. I nodded proudly.
"Commander Worf. The only Klingon in Starfleet. Maybe you've heard of him."
"That surprises me. You couldn't even stand the smell of Klingon food when we were together and now you are marrying a Klingon."
"So I see."
We walked in silence for several minutes. I tried not to think of the tension between us. It used to be that my whole world used to lie in the pools of Stephen's eyes and now I could only think about how repulsive - and strangely attractive - he was to me.
"I used to dream of this day," Stephen said quietly. "The day when you and I would be reunited. When we could be together again. Like this. Just you and me and no one else."
"I suppose you should have thought about that before you married Sonora."
"That was never supposed to be a forever deal!" Stephen burst out. "I married her because I had to. Don't you understand? I didn't want to but I had to! There's never been anyone other than you, Jadzia. Never."
"I find that hard to believe."
"It's the truth. It was only because of the baby…" Stephen fell silent.
I turned to him, almost in shock. Of all the betrayals, I had never suspected Stephen of this. Suddenly, the pain inside was very raw.
"You…" I could not get the rest of the words out.
Stephen kept going, "But I always thought that… Jadzia, when I saw you on the Defiant, I really thought that it was going to be okay. That we were going to be together again and I didn't care about Sonora. Only about being with you."
"Did you really think I was going to wait for you?" I asked softly.
"No, but I didn't think -"
"That's right, you didn't," I snapped back. "You never did. You never thought about how I would feel that day when you told me in the same breath that you loved me and then seconds later that you were going to marry Sonora Lyse." "That was a mistake."
"I've never stopped loving you."
"Is that a line you use often, Stephen? Is it?"
With that, I dropped the violet, its petals scattering to the ground below. I lifted my foot ever so slightly and ground the remains of the blossom into the dirt.
"You've changed," Stephen said.
I leaned closer to him so that my lips were very close to his cheek, "Does that excite you, Stephen?"
He was breathing harder now, "I am surprised."
"Good," I told him. With that, I turned and left the arboretum, secretly gloating over my self-proclaimed victory over Stephen Lam.
We took the Defiant out a couple more times before O'Brien was satisfied. Finally, Sisko set the date for our departure; we would leave in three days.
"Everything looks good," O'Brien reported as we made a wide arc around Starbase 357.
"Good," Sisko nodded.
I twisted around to look at my old friend, noting that he appeared more relaxed. Even O'Brien seemed more easy-going, now that the Defiant was operating at optimum levels. Only Bashir concerned me. I decided once we returned to the station, I would have a good, long talk with Julian.
To be honest, I was glad we would be leaving Starbase 357 and more importantly, I would be leaving Stephen Lam and his insufferable wife, Sonora, behind.
To prevent meeting Stephen or Sonora, I chose to stay on the Defiant during our last days in dock. I spent that time with Julian and to my relief, Bashir's mood began to improve a bit. He even talked about retaking Deep Space Nine.
"I suppose we could do it, don't you think?" he asked hopefully.
I knew Kira and Odo and the others who had been left behind concerned Bashir, so I nodded. If there was a way, I knew Sisko would find it.
And as for me, I was hoping and praying to see Worf again. I hadn't heard from him in over a week and secretly, I wondered if his silence was a punishment, condemning for those feelings I still had about Stephen.
"That's crazy," I said to myself in the stillness of my quarters. "You don't feel anything for Stephen. He's just a big annoyance in your life and soon he will be gone."
When my eyes closed, my dreams were of Worf.
Of course, I could not remain closeted on the battleship the whole time. On the last day, Sisko asked me if I could take care of ordering some supplies. I agreed.
After taking care of Sisko's errand, I decided to take a stroll on the Promenade. I had seen a gorgeous dress in the window of a shop and I wanted to try it on.
Inside the shop, I fingered the silky, floaty material. The shopkeeper, an attractive Betazoid named Marisol Grey, immediately offered it to me to try on.
"It looks perfect for you," she said.
I nodded, thinking that the effervescent blues and shimmery lavenders of the fabric would bring out my eyes.
"Perhaps for a special evening?" Marisol asked, as she handed me the garment.
I clutched the material in my hands, thinking how wonderful it would be to wear this dress for Worf when we were finally reunited.
"Try it on," Marisol urged.
I went into the dressing room and quickly changed into the dress. The dress had a low scoop neck with thin straps. The material lightly skimmed over my breasts and then clung to my torso, before flaring out at the waist. The material itself was almost ethereal in its lightness.
"Tholian silk," Marisol told me as I posed for her in this amazing dress.
"It's lovely," I said.
"You're wondering if he'll like it?"
I laughed, "He certainly will be surprised. I rarely wear clothes like this."
"You've been separated for a long time?" Marisol asked as she adjusted a strap on my shoulder.
"Four weeks now. Four very long weeks."
Marisol gazed at me knowingly, her luminous dark brown eyes filled with an empathy that frightened me.
"You're worried," Marisol said softly.
"About Worf? Yes, very."
"No, not about him. About the other one. What is his name?"
I almost whirled around in shock, feeling humiliated at this intrusion. Marisol held up a hand.
"I'm sorry, but your conflict is brewing close to the surface. You still have feelings for this other man."
"Stephen? No. Not really. I'm just really angry at him."
"But that's not what I feel from you."
"Then you're feeling wrong!" I snapped at her. Marisol shrugged as she handed me a filmy blue scarf.
"This goes around your shoulders," she said quietly. "It's a wrap."
"What do you mean?" I asked apologetically.
"You are conflicted. You don't love him, this Stephen. No, that I'm sure of."
"That's a relief," I answered without a trace of irony.
"But you do feel a certain amount of passion for him."
"Is there a difference?"
Marisol nodded, "I think so, yes."
I fingered the dress, letting the silky material run through my fingers.
"He was my first lover," I admitted. "The first man who ever looked at me as something more than… he looked at me as if I was a woman."
"And that's important to you."
"Yes, at the time it was. And I believed he loved me too."
"You loved him completely and devotedly."
"Of course. Is there any other way to love?" I asked softly. I twirled one more time, eyeing myself in the mirror. In a vain moment, I let the scarf slink slowly down my arms until it rested gently in the crook of my elbows.
"What will you do?"
"Nothing," I admitted. "His betrayal was complete and nothing can take back what he did to me. Nothing."
"But you're not sure?"
I laughed at her, "Why are you contradicting everything I say? It's almost as if you want me to betray my promise to Worf. It's almost as if…"
"As if I sense your need?" Marisol asked gently.
I nodded, "Yes. Exactly."
Marisol didn't say anything; it was as if she had elicited the response she had been hoping for.
"I will take the dress," I said softly. "Wrap it up for me, please."
I had to try on the dress one more time that evening. It was a guilty pleasure, in a way, as I never bought such fine and delicate clothing before. But to be honest, I loved the sensual feel of the fabric over my skin and I could not wait until Worf saw me in it.
I took a round in my cramped quarters, thinking how wonderful it was to have such a lovely thing to wear.
"You silly girl," I chided myself. And then I came to the realization that I had not had such vain or silly thoughts since the joining. As just plain Jadzia, I had often indulged in such frippery, such frivolity… because Stephen had liked it. I closed my eyes, thinking of a light blue silk chemise I had worn one evening, a delicate number that Stephen had loved immediately.
"It brings out your eyes," he had told me gently, as he had run a finger down from my chin, my neck, before finally resting somewhere on my chest. "You are lovely in it."
And of course, I had been thrilled, because it was very rare I did something that pleased Stephen. And it was that night, when seduced by what I thought was love in his eyes, I had given myself completely to him.
I shook my head now, almost in anger at my own naiveté. Four years! Four years of my life wasted.
The spell of the beautiful dress was immediately broken by that distant memory and I could feel my anger bubbling up.
Thank God we're leaving tomorrow, I thought. Then I never have to see him again.
The door chimed then.
"Come!" I called, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand.
Stephen entered. I recoiled.
"What are you doing here?" I whispered.
"I had to see you before you left," Stephen said. "May I come in?"
"You are already in," I pointed out.
Stephen was near me in two quick strides. He placed his hands on my shoulders and I tried to break free, but his grip was too strong.
"Jadzia," he whispered and I was instantly mesmerized by his voice, his hands, his eyes.
Again, I pulled away, but he held me fast. His arms slid down from shoulders, down my back, before resting on my waist. He pulled me closer to him until nothing but the fabric of our clothes separated our bodies.
"What are you doing?" I asked him, my voice barely louder than the sound of my heartbeat.
"I'm going to kiss you," he answered as he leaned closer to me. I tried to turn my head away but at the last moment, he turned my head up to meet his lips. For a moment, I thought his arms were Worf's, that I was kissing Worf. But then my eyes flew open and instead of dark eyes, I was staring into stormy blue-gray eyes.
Stephen broke away, his fingers gently tracing the neckline of the dress. I remembered that touch so well, the touch that had marked me Stephen's during those four years. I pushed my hands against his chest, trying to push him away from me, but his hands held me firm against the wall.
"Did you like that?" he asked in an almost taunting tone.
I could not speak. It was almost like old times again, when I had known no desires except for his, a time where "no" did not exist. And even if I wanted to now, I could not back away from him and he knew it.
"Good," he answered and his lips were once again on mine.
The next morning, I woke up with my heart beating furiously in my throat. I pulled the blanket up to my chest; Stephen was gone. On the floor lay that gorgeous dress, a painful and shameful reminder of my betrayal.
My betrayal. The words hung heavy in my heart as I slowly got up, still wrapped in the blanket. My body ached from anxiety, consternation, fear, horror - all of those crazy emotions wrapped up inside of me. I made my way slowly to the mirror and stared at myself. My hair tumbled around my shoulders.
"I love your hair like that," Stephen had told me.
Or was it Worf who loved my hair loose?
I closed my eyes, as my fingers wandered to the base of my throat, to the red patches there. I could sense the tenderness in the skin beneath my trembling fingertips. It was almost as if Stephen had branded his touch into me.
"Oh God," I said. "Oh God, what have I done?"
I sat on the bed, pulling my knees up to my chest. I kept thinking to myself, it was only a kiss, it was only a kiss. But oh so many kisses and I had fallen so fast too, without even thinking. I didn't even know when I had found the strength to push him away.
I still could see myself, fumbling for my comm badge even as I stared into Stephen's face, noting his expression of horror, disgust.
That should mean something, I told myself. It should. But I could not convince myself of that. I pressed my hands to my face, trying hard to feel something other than my own intense sense of shame. Somehow, all memory of the night kept flooding back into my mind and I could not, however hard I tried to, push those thoughts away.
I got dressed and went up to the bridge; there was plenty to do before our departure this afternoon at 1500 hours.
Somehow, though everyone seemed normal, I felt different. Inside, every inch of me was shaking. As I looked at my friends' faces, I noticed they looked as they should; a little pensive, because the Klingons were losing so badly. Still I had my own shame and I wondered if they could sense what I had done. No one said anything and Sisko, as always, seemed calm and authoritative. O'Brien was openly joyful about the state of the ship's systems.
"Everything is back online," O'Brien told me. "Your friend, Stephen Lam, he is an excellent engineer. He was here late last night working on the phase inducers."
"Oh was he?" I asked without a shade of irony in my voice.
Only Bashir seemed unusually quiet. Again, I felt that pang of guilt for not attending to my friend's problems, but I quickly pushed it away. After last night, I had other things to worry about. A moment later, Sisko placed a hand on my shoulder.
"A moment of your time, Commander," he said. "And you too, Doctor, Chief."
O'Brien and I exchanged a look and followed Sisko.
"The Klingons are not doing well in the Garida Cluster," Sisko said as we all sat at the back table. "The Cardassians sent in reinforcements and the High Council is stretched too thin as it is to send more back up."
"We cannot lose Garida," Bashir said. "Otherwise we're opening the door for the Cardassians to come swarming into Federation space."
"What about the Federation?" O'Brien queried as he took a sip of his coffee, double sweet and double strong Jamaican. "Can't Starfleet send any reinforcements?"
"They may send us out there," Sisko acknowledged. "But nothing definite yet. Martok sent word that they are holding their own so far."
I let out my breath, a little too loudly I think, because everyone looked at me.
"Anything from Deep Space Nine?" Bashir asked.
Sisko shook his head, "No."
I knew my old friend was worried, not only about the friends we had left behind, but also Jake. Leaving Jake behind had been very difficult for Benjamin, but he hardly discussed it with anyone, not even with me.
"Knowing Kira, she's up to something," O'Brien said with a forced smile.
Sisko nodded, "We will get the station back, doctor. It's just a matter of time."
Sisko pushed a PADD towards me.
"Run a full diagnostic, Commander. We should be prepared if Starfleet does send us to Garida."
Sisko dispensed other instructions to O'Brien and then to Bashir and then dismissed us. I immediately went to the helm to begin work. The work was fairly routine and monotonous, so my thoughts began to wander. I thought about Kira, Odo and the others. I thought about Worf on Martok's ship and the danger he was surely facing. I thought about Stephen and my own reactions to him. Reactions I simply could not explain or understand.
I completed the diagnostics of helm control and nodded my approval to Sisko.
"It looks good," I told Sisko softly. He smiled at me.
"Are you eager to get underway, Old Man?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered with a ferocity I hoped he could not decipher.
"Dismissed," Sisko said. "Get some rest, Commander. We leave at exactly 1500."
I left the bridge, grateful for the privacy to live inside my own head for a while, time that I could use to sort out what had happened last night and worse - what I was going to tell Worf. I walked as if there was glass strewn in my path and so lost was I in my thoughts that I did not hear the footsteps behind me.
I whirled around as Julian's hand clamped down on my shoulder.
"What are you doing?" he screeched at me.
"What are you talking about?" I asked as calmly as I could.
Julian stared at me, searching my face for something.
"This one time I'm going to ask you to tell me the truth," he said quietly. "Will you, Jadzia?"
"I always tell the truth, Julian," I laughed slightly. "You know that."
"Not this time you're not. If you think that I don't know what's going on, well, then, you're mistaken."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm talking about you and Lieutenant Lam."
"I have nothing to do with the lieutenant. You know that."
"Do I?" Julian's hostility spilled into his voice and I found myself pressing against the smooth walls of the Defiant, trying to escape from the sheer force of his anger. "Don't make this mistake, Jadzia."
"What mistake, Julian? What mistake do you think I'm going to make?"
"Are you so stupid that you can't remember that there is a man out there who is in love with you?"
"You're crazy, Julian."
"I'm not and from what I've seen, you've betrayed Worf."
"No! You know that I love Worf."
"Do you? Because it looks as if you're falling in love with Stephen Lam."
"What Stephen and I had… it was years ago. I have no feelings for him, none whatsoever. I'm sure of that."
"Are you?" Julian shot back. I gasped at the venom in his voice. Julian looked at me with those eyes which were rapidly beginning to frighten me. "I saw Stephen last night, Jadzia. I saw him leaving your quarters. I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I saw him and now I don't know what to think."
"Julian…" I whispered. "It's not what you think…"
He did not answer; instead he released my shoulder and stalked off. I found myself slumping against the wall, feeling as if all energy and life were leaving me.
"Oh God," I whispered, still in shock over this strange encounter with Julian. "Oh God, what will I do?"
The fact that Julian knew chilled me to the bone. I knew I could trust Julian not to tell anyone else, but if he had seen Stephen leave, I was sure the others had also.
I entered my quarters in a fury. I found the dress still lying on the floor and with all my strength, I picked it up and flung it against the wall. I then whirled around and found an old PADD and threw that also. The metallic object clattered to the ground, split into several large pieces. My fury spent, I sank to the floor, my hands pressed to my face.
I don't know how long I remained in my quarters, but eventually, energy replaced inertia and I found myself wrapping up the dress. I would return it before we left because I knew I never wanted to see it again.
At the store, Marisol Grey slowly unwrapped the dress.
"I understand," she told me quietly. "You can't wear it for him now."
I bit my lip before answering, "No."
"It was beautiful on you."
"Please," I said heavily. "Please don't. I just want to go away. I want to get away from this place. And take that away, I don't care what you do with it. You don't even have to refund my money, just take it away. Destroy it if you have to."
Marisol looked at me compassionately and then reached across the counter to take my hand.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
I nodded dumbly, not knowing what I was going to say to someone who could already sense everything I was feeling, thinking.
Marisol took me by the hand and led me into a backroom, separated from the main shop by a vibrant green curtain. Inside this backroom, the walls were covered with a soft maroon material. Shelves, filled with everything from durable grays to silky soft lavenders, lined the walls. Marisol led me to a table in the center of this small room and sat me down on a cast iron chair.
"He came to you, this Stephen," she said softly.
"Did you want him to come?"
"No, not really," I answered. That at least was the truth.
"What happened then?" her tone was gentle but prodding.
"He told me he was going to kiss me and then he did. And then Stephen asked if I liked it and I didn't know what to say. And then he kissed me again and again…" I closed my eyes. "Finally, I was able to reach for my comm badge to call security, but he left then before I could."
"And you're worried about your lover?"
"Worf? Yes. I don't know what I'm going to say to him."
"Do you love Worf?"
"Of course I love him. I love him dearly, madly, passionately. He is everything I have ever wanted in a man, everything that Stephen isn't."
"But you don't love Stephen."
"No!" I cried in exasperation. "That's why I don't understand. That's why I don't know why I did what I did. Why I betrayed the only man who has ever truly loved me and accepted me for who I am. This man who I am supposed to marry."
"You are afraid."
"Afraid of this commitment you are making. This commitment to Worf."
"That's not true. I know that Worf is the man for me, that I want to spend the rest of my life with him. That's not in doubt. It never has been."
"Before Worf, there was Stephen."
I nodded, "I won't lie. I've had many lovers. Stephen was only the first. He was the one who first noticed me, who noticed this shy girl who was afraid of her own shadow. And though I could never speak for myself, Stephen always could. I loved that when I was with Stephen, people noticed me. I wasn't the smart girl in the back of the classroom, no. I was Stephen's girl and I guess, that was automatic acceptance."
"And you needed that then?"
"Yes," I nodded. "I did. It wasn't until just before I was joined that I found the self-confidence that I had been lacking throughout my life. Somehow, I had found my voice but by then it was too late. Stephen was gone."
"Do you think he left because you were so quiet?"
I shook my head, "No. He left because I wanted to be joined. He couldn't handle that. He didn't think joining was natural."
"And that's the only reason? I know you're holding back on me."
I grinned, "It's tough confessing to a Betazoid, you know? My fiancé, Worf, he used to be involved with a Betazoid, half Betazoid, that is. He would tell me how hard it was to keep secrets from Deanna, because she immediately suspected any deceit."
Marisol was not amused; but then, nor was I.
"What else?" she asked gently.
I took a deep breath.
"Stephen cheated on me. With another woman. The woman who is now his wife. He just told me, just yesterday, that he had to marry her. That she was pregnant and so he had no choice."
"Were you aware of this?"
"Of his infidelity? Slightly, yes. The pregnancy, I did not know about."
"How does that make you feel?"
"Why don't you tell me how it should feel?" I asked coolly. "I don't know really and it's not that important now."
Marisol shrugged, "It might be important. Maybe not today, but sometime, it might be. Do you think Stephen needed to confess his infidelity?"
"I think so. I think he wanted me to know what he had done and he wants my forgiveness," I sighed. "Unfortunately, I've given him more than I ever intended to and I don't know why."
Marisol looked at me with compassion, "I hope you know what's in your heart."
"There's no conflict. That's clear, isn't it?"
"Yes," Marisol told me. "It's very clear to me that you love him."
The way she mentioned that last word, that him, made me shiver slightly.
"Who?" I whispered.
Marisol shrugged cryptically, "Come. I have left my shop much too long and you must return to your ship."
On my way back to the Defiant, I caught sight of Sonora Lyse. From a distance, her hair did not seem so golden and her figure not that perfect. She was standing near a railing, a baby on her hip and a little one playing at her feet. On the other side of her was a young boy, perhaps about eight or nine years old.
I approached Sonora.
"Hello, Sonora," I said softly. Suddenly I felt very awkward, thinking that after eight years, our positions had been reserved. Now it was I who was the other woman and I was not sure how that made me feel.
Sonora turned and I was amazed at how fatigued she looked, at the faint traces of darkness rimming her eyes and the strands of gray running through her hair. Suddenly, Sonora Lyse looked very thin and frail to me; amazing, since only a few days before she had seemed as she always had, healthy, strong, indomitable.
"There's no need to pretend, Jadzia. I know. I know Stephen was with you last night," Sonora spoke softly, with very little emotion marking her words. "I only wondered how long it might be."
"I didn't ask him to come."
"No, I didn't think so. But he's always loved you. Always."
Sonora sighed and looked down over the edge of the railing. It was quite a descent, I thought, as I followed her gaze. Below, miniature people were strolling, unaware of us peering down at them.
"At least that's what he thinks," Sonora continued. "I don't think Stephen knows what love is and he always wants what he cannot have. From the moment you arrived, he has talked nothing but of you and how happy he is to see you again. It will wear off, I assure you. His love, I know, is fleeting and cannot mean much to anyone."
"Nothing happened last night," I told Sonora firmly. "Nothing."
But she did not seem to hear me.
"He married me because of Evan," Sonora looked to the older boy. "Whatever else he may have done, Stephen always knew his duty, the honorable thing to do. He would not abandon this baby."
"It is all right, Sonora," I said quietly.
"I suppose we could say the score is even now, couldn't we?"
"That's not what happened, Sonora. I wasn't looking to get back at you. No, I wasn't looking for revenge. I do not want your husband, I haven't in a long time. And you have to believe me, nothing happened between us last night. He did visit my quarters but that is all. Whatever happened between you and I, that was in the past and is irrelevant now. You must believe me that I never wanted to hurt you. Never."
Again, Sonora did not seem to hear me. She seemed lost in her own world, focused on the tiny figures below. I wondered what she was thinking; the calmness on her Madonna face seemed almost eerie to me. I shivered.
"Sonora?" I almost pleaded.
Sonora shifted the baby on her hip and then in a sudden gesture, she handed me the little girl.
"Amata," Sonora said quietly. "This is Amata and this one here, this is Pieta. We had another one, a little boy, Jaren, who died shortly after birth. After Jaren died, I don't think Stephen really looked at me again the same way. It wasn't my fault, Jadzia, but it was there, between us. I think that's when he started thinking about you again."
"I don't know what to say."
"It's all my fault," Sonora's eyes glazed over. "From the very beginning, I used the children to win Stephen's heart, but that never worked. You want to know why? Because his heart always belonged to you. It always did. Even during those days, those final days at Starfleet Academy, when I thought that Stephen would finally come to his senses and realized that he loved me and not you, you still came first. On our wedding day, Stephen was thinking of you. We fought terribly that day. It was a terrible honeymoon and so, I guess, after all this time, you both got what you wanted."
"No," I said. "I don't want him. You misunderstood."
"You think?" Sonora asked.
I was confused by Sonora, confused by what she was trying to say. I knew the man Stephen had been, that yes, he had less than loyal and steadfast. I could not believe he loved me, not after all this time - rather, I believed he was obsessed by me. Obsessed by what he had lost. And I think Sonora was confusing love and obsession.
I tried to hand Amata back to Sonora, but the girl's mother refused. Sonora moved a little away from me. The other children, Evan and Pieta, had disappeared into a candy shop of some kind. Bajoran, I think.
"Do you want him?" Sonora asked. "Because he's yours."
"No. I'm getting married. I told you that."
"Even after what has happened?"
"If Worf will have me, yes."
"Will you tell Worf?"
"I don't know."
Sonora nodded, "Stephen always wanted to tell you about me. He had a lot of guilt and then decided it would hurt you too much."
"I never thought that Stephen really thought about my feelings that much."
"He is a self-centered, arrogant bastard," Sonora said with unexpected violence. "He had you, but wanted me. And when he had me, he could only think of you."
"I don't think that's true. Stephen sacrificed for you. He gave up his rank so that he could serve with you."
Sonora laughed bitterly, "Is that what he told you? No, Stephen was demoted because of what Starfleet refers to an incident with an ensign. Somewhere, Stephen has another child, another boy I think, with this woman. I don't even remember her name." I felt sick to my stomach. The child in my arms was starting to feel heavy, but still, Sonora refused to take Amata.
"No captain would take him," Sonora said. "It was only because of me he is still in Starfleet. My father called in some favors and had him assigned to here to Starbase 357 with me. Of course, I thought I could keep a close eye on him if we were serving together. I was wrong."
"He is a good father," Sonora said unexpectedly. "He takes care of his children. His weakness is for women, always has been. You know that better than anyone else."
"I always meant to ask you why you stayed with him. I would not have."
"I don't know," I shrugged. "It wasn't all bad and when I was with him, I felt like I was someone. Someone special. Not because of the way he treated me, but because of the way others viewed me."
"If it had been me," Sonora declared, "I would have left. And I would leave now, if I could justify taking the children with me."
For the first time in all the years I had known Sonora Lyse, I felt compassion for the woman and something bordering on respect.
"I know I made a mistake," Sonora continued. "But don't think I'm not used to this, Jadzia. If you continue with Stephen, know that the pain has already been inflicted and nothing he and you could do would hurt me much more than I've already been hurt."
Sonora took a couple steps away from me, placing her hands heavily on the railing.
I felt the need to reassure Sonora, to tell her that I had no designs on her husband, that last night had been a horrible mistake, an amazing loss of control on my part.
"I don't love him," I told her. "He never could accept what I wanted or who I was. That hasn't changed. I think he's in love with an idea, he wants what he can't have."
"If not you, then someone else," Sonora said. "But never me and I have accepted that."
I said nothing; suddenly the view produced a feeling of vertigo inside of me. My arms tightened around the child in my arms. She looked at me almost in surprise and began to cry. Sonora reached over and took Amata from me.
"I'm glad we have this conversation," Sonora said softly. With that, she gathered up her other children and walked away.
Go to Part IV
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