Kirlas Trem stripped off her uniform’s jacket and tossed it onto the sofa in the living area of her suite, leaving herself in her red undershirt and black slacks. Her earring sparkled in her right ear, the clasp holding the chains to the rim of her ear a silver in contrast to the gold of the stud and chains. A single moonstone rested at the center of the stud.
Each part of the earring was a gift from someone who had changed her life in some way.
Rather than grumble about her assignment – Cardassians! – she made her way to her prayer mat. She knelt there, drew a breath. Centered herself. She was never certain if the Prophets heard her prayers, but she had long since settled on the conclusion that it did not matter. She knew her faith, found comfort in prayer that humans might find in contemplation or Klingons in song and ceremony, and that was enough.
She did not remember the Occupation. She had been too young when the Cardassians left her homeworld. But her parents remembered, her aunts and uncles, her childhood vedek, her family’s friends. She had grown up with those memories all around her, and with the scars the Cardassians had left in Bajoran souls and on Bajoran land. Heard her older brothers waking from nightmares of the Cardassians years after they were gone.
She did remember the war, sitting awake with her parents and holding her baby brother in her lap and waiting to hear news of the battles Starfleet and the Emissary fought to keep her safe. Those nights had reinforced to her how frightening the Cardassians were.
They had also sparked in her the determination to join Starfleet.
The door to her quarters hissed open, and she heard quiet footsteps behind her. She performed the last rituals of her prayer and rose, folding her prayer mat and turning.
Kirlas Sivar – just Sivar, to most he knew, though he had formally taken her family name at their marriage – was a tall man, his eyes sharp, his voice deep. He was solid, unmoved by the emotions of the moment but passionate when he judged something or someone worthy of his passion.
Three things met that high threshold, he told her the night she proposed. The first he had found as a child, when he discovered the epic poetry of the Second Surinian Age of Vulcan. The second he had found as a teenager, looking through textbooks as he sought a field of study and found himself fascinated with geophysics.
The third, he had met at a cafè in San Francisco, just in sight of the Golden Gate, when he was in town to attend his mentor’s guest lecture at Starfleet Academy. She’d smiled at the memory of that chance meeting, the brief conversation over coffee that had turned into a walk in Golden Gate park which had, in turn, led to her only late arrival to a class in her four years at the Academy.
“Trem,” her husband said with a slight inclination of his head.
“Sivar.” Trem smiled, then stepped forward. Sivar’s arms were around her in a moment, and she exhaled, letting the tension that had built since the briefing finally fade completely. “Cardassians.”
He needed to hear no more. Rather than speak, he guided her to the sofa under the wide viewport, sat her down, and kissed her forehead before making his way to the replicator. A moment later, he returned with a tray. A gingerbread latte and a jumja stick for her, a steaming mug of tea for himself. He placed the tray on the table before the sofa and drew her once again into his arms.
She spoke quietly, told him about the briefing, the mission. Her swirling emotions, her understanding that whatever hurt and fear she had around the Cardassians did not mean that those on Alim bore responsibility. He listened, not speaking, fingers brushing her arm or the back of her neck to encourage her to continue. When she finished, he gave her another moment to see if any more words were coming, then he spoke.
“Your worry about the actions of the Cardassians is warranted,” he said quietly. “Your anger and pain at what they did to the people you love and the world of your birth doubly so. But your doubt in yourself is not. You are competent, intelligent, and disciplined. More importantly for this mission, you have a talent for seeing the needs of others and finding ways to meet them, regardless of your own feelings. You will perform brilliantly on this mission.” He paused a moment, placed her coffee mug i to her hands. “And you will return here, and if you need to laugh or to cry, I will join you in doing so.”
Trem shook her head with a quiet laugh, cuddling closer to her husband. “I would not have believed, before I met you, how much of a comfort it would be to have someone cry with me.”
He dipped down and kissed her, then she took a sip of her coffee. What the replicator produced was nowhere near as good as what she’d had at that little cafe in San Francisco, but the hint of gingerbread and the smell of him still brought back the memory of that day. The most important day of her life.
She closed her eyes, basking in the peace of her marriage.