Adultery Hurts
Adultery Hurts
Summary: It /really/ hurts Zaharis when he sheds some light on past indescretions in the Zimmermann marriage.
Date: 52 ACH
Related Logs: None
Players:
Zaharis..Rhea..

(Fade into Adele's townhouse on the Carina…)

Zaharis chose a time when Adele was off doing her clinic stuff and Reece was out accumulating more bruises. He let himself into the townhouse and kicked off his boots, heading for the kitchen to get into Adele's rationed stock of drinks while he waits for Rhea.

Rhea doesn't keep Zaharis waiting long. She gets herself admitted to the townhouse after knocking and everything and strides inside. She's pretty comfortable about barging in here now. The Spawn's tenancy here has made her as frequent as guest at the townhouse as she was on the PAS. "You know when Adele's getting back? Maybe we can all head over to whatever passes for a commissary here. Have dinner together. If you're off long enough." The idea makes her smile. She's in a good mood.

Zaharis is holding two glasses of "juice", made from water and some kind of powder. Also rationed, so he didn't use very much. Ew. He hands one to her and heads over for one of the living room couches, sinking down into it. "Couple hours, not sure. And yeah, that might be nice…we were talking about trying to have you and Carter over here for dinner, but that was before we remembered neither of us can cook."

Rhea sips the powder-juice. She doesn't even flinch at the taste of rationed stuff anymore. Save for coffee. She'll always mourn weak coffee. She sinks down on the couch next to the CMO, shrugging. "Maybe Reed cooks. Not likely, though. Navy life takes care of that for you. Unattractive as the Mess sometimes is, it gets the job done. Reece told me Adele tried to cook for him a couple times." She laughs. "I think we've both convinced her it's not necessary. The Sprocket's a trained military scrounger."

Zaharis smirks. "Yeah, bread and peanut butter for all." He pulls one of his legs up, resting the ankle atop the knee, and settles back. Juice gets swirled in glass a bit. "Had a good night, I hope?"

"Yeah," Rhea answers simply. A faint smile on her lips. "It was a good day all around. I feel like things are finally settling. Into whatever passes for settled around here. You? Adele show you the hospitality of this fine house of hers, or did you have to book it back to Genny?"

"Stayed overnight. Booked the whole evening out, knew I wasn't going to want to go back," Zaharis sips his juice and glances around. "Settling, yeah. Guess it is. Just find myself waking up sometimes and wondering how much of an illusion it might turn out to be the next time I blink."

Rhea shrugs. "An illusion? I don't know about that. It's all real enough. Too real. When I stop to think about it, I wonder where we'll all be six months from now. I guess there's not much point to that kind of thinking these days, though. The way things stand. Anyway. How are things with you and Adele?"

"Fine," Zaharis replies, in that slightly stilted way of his that tends to crop up when someone asks a personal question. Or maybe just dancing around the issue waiting in the wings is awkward. "She seems happy lately. That's all I really care about."

"You're good together," Rhea says. "I've tried to keep my nose out of you and her, Jesse. I like her. Just…be happy, okay?" She's perfectly comfortable, for her part. Relaxed. Content. But she's unaware of exactly what's waiting in the wings. "Anyway. We were supposed to have ourselves a conversation."

"Yeah." Zaharis shifts on the couch, turning more to face her. The cup is set down on his knee and he glances at the almost-clear juice concotion before looking back at her. "And I don't even really know where to start. You asked me about Justine."

"I just want to know who she was. You seemed to think it was important, when you were delirious," Rhea says. She still holds her glass, gently swirling it to try and spread the 'juice' flavor around as much as possible. "You talked about her. Mentioned her name, at least. You seemed to be talking to Ephraim, when you were on about it…I've never met anyone named Justine."

Zaharis taps his fingernail against the rim of the glass. "Yeah, I know. You didn't know her." He's silent again for a little while. "Rhea, listen. This…this isn't my story to tell. I haven't said anything ever because it was on someone else to tell you this. They didn't. Whether or not I agree with that isn't relevant, it's…that you deserve to know. You're letting go of things and you deserve to know." Courage building. Yes.

Rhea's eyes narrow at Zaharis. Some of her relaxation fading. She's getting a vibe this conversation isn't headed anywhere pleasant. "Jesse, if you've got something to say to me, just frakking say it. Someone else? Who? I'm a big girl. I can take it. I'm sure I've taken worse these past couple months."

Zaharis looks up from his glass, and there's a hesitation before he starts. "About two years ago, when you had just taken the position up here. Ephraim was still on Picon and so was I. Justine was a nurse on the base." He rubs his thumb over his cheek, making himself look at her eyes. "Ephraim…had an affair with her."

Rhea was idly swirling her glass again as Zaharis was speaking. Her wrist stops abruptly. Fingers slipping. The glass drops. It doesn't break on the carpet but the liquid spills. Rhea doesn't even seem to notice. She's staring at Zaharis. Hazel eyes wide. Expression more incredulous than anything else. That was the last thing she expected, and she can't even process those words as an understandable language. "What?"

"He had an affair, Rhea," Zaharis repeats quietly, as though the repetition were needed to make it real. "It didn't last very long." His tone isn't defending Ephraim with those words, just saying. "Couple months, then he called it off."

Rhea stands, shoving herself off the couch. So she can loom over Zaharis. "You're lying," she says firmly. Why she thinks he would do this is anyone's guess, but she doesn't seem to be thinking that through. "You're lying. What, Jesse? This supposed to make me feel better about frakking another man? What the frak!? Look, Ephraim and I weren't perfect, okay? And neither of us were exactly vestal virgins but we never…You don't just frak up thirteen years for that. You *don't*."

Zaharis doesn't recoil from her anger. He sits back as she stalks up on him, looking up at her. "I'm not lying to you. He knew he frakked up, Rhea…he almost tore himself up over it. He tried to do everything after that to be a good husband again." The good times. The wanting a daughter. Everything Rhea's told him about.

"Two years ago…" Rhea murmurs. Actually thinking about the timing makes her face fall. Yeah. That's about right. She takes a deep breath. Forcing herself to remain calm. At least outwardly. "What was she like?" she asks. Tone frighteningly neutral.

<Trait Roll> Rhea rolls Willpower and achieves a degree of Good (4).

Her calmness doesn't make Zaharis relax in turn. He knows better, and he licks his lips. "She was…I don't know, twenty-something. Brunette. Not stupid but kind of naive. Romantic type, she…just hung on everyone she could."

"Just hung on, did she?" Rhea spits. "Yeah. Sure sounds like she was good at that. Romantic?" She snorts. "Yeah. Must've been a real bodice-ripper come true for her. Frakking a 35-year-old married accountant. That was sure as frak *my* dream when I was twenty." She gives her long dark hair a fierce toss. "Was she prettier than me, Jesse? Did she shine his boots for him? Was she a better frak? C'mon. You told me this much. Might as well get it all out."

"It wasn't about Justine and it wasn't about him wanting her over you," Zaharis says, keeping his eyes up. "It was about him. He made a mistake, Rhea. He frakked up and he knew that. He thought he'd completely failed as a husband, and he…" His voice trails off. He can't explain what was in the man's head. "I don't know."

"You don't know?" Rhea repeats quietly. She snorts a laugh. "You seem to know a frak-lot more than me, Jesse. Frak. I was so screwed up about what I thought I'd done to my marriage. And so grateful my *darling* husband had been a big enough man to forgive me." She laughs again. There's no humor in the sound. "It was all crap, wasn't it? The plans we made. Picon, me teaching for the Engineering Corps, another baby…" There are tears in her eyes. She swipes them angrily off her cheeks. "It was all just guilt and desperate scrambling to cover his own ass."

"Yeah, it was guilt." Zaharis finally stands up. He doesn't take looming very well. "It was a lot of guilt because he knew how bad he messed up. If he hadn't loved you he wouldn't have cared at all to try and make it right again." He exhales tensely. "Look, I'm not…defending him. He was wrong. No matter how bad things might have been, he was wrong. He could never bring himself to tell you the truth because he thought you'd leave him."

Rhea tenses, hands on her hips, glaring up at Zaharis as he stands. There are still tears running down her cheeks, but she's more angry than anything else right now. "And what's your excuse? You've been serving on Genny with me for, what, Jesse? Seven months now? Eight? You should've frakking told me. I had a right to know. I had a right to know what was going on in my own frakking marriage!" She takes a deep breath. Forcing herself to stop crying. "But I get why you didn't. He was your best friend. And I was just your dead best friend's shrew of a wife. That's what we are to each other, right, Jesse? In-laws."

"I wasn't willing to let him out of his responsibility to tell his own wife that he frakked up," Zaharis answers her, keeping his voice as level as he can. "That's what I told him when I found out. He didn't do it. I'm sorry that he was too much of a coward and he didn't do it."

<Trait Roll> Rhea rolls Strength and achieves a degree of Good (4).

"You son of a bitch…!" Rhea sniffles. It's unclear whether she's talking to Zaharis or her departed husband. Her shoulders sag and, for a moment, she looks tempted to start sobbing on his shoulder. But, instead, she hauls off and hits him. Not a light slap, either. She punches him. In the face.

Zaharis reacts a second too late to avoid the punch, and it connects perfectly. His head whips back and to the side and he stumbles back against the couch arm, the heel of his hand coming up to press his nose shut. Blood's dripping down his lip and onto his fatigues shirt. He's silent, just looking at her, then he turns on his heel and starts past her towards the door, very tensely. "I will tell Carter to call you."

Rhea cradles her hand. That kind of hurt. She looks profoundly not sorry about Zaharis' bloody nose. "Don't you dare tell him a frakking thing," she spits after him. She takes a few deep breaths, looking ready to vacate the townhouse herself before Adele or Reece get home. Though she'll wait until Zaharis is properly gone. She doesn't terribly want to share a shuttle back to the battlestar with him.

Zaharis doesn't answer, letting the door slam. He's gone!

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