Chapter six

Jolene sat back on her heels in front of the full-length mirror in her quarters, examining her face. It was free from any makeup, framed by wet hair pushed back by her fingers. She had always found something fascinating in studying herself, some comfort in knowing that even if the world seemed to be confusing she had herself, every wrinkle and blemish, cataloged and charted.

She didn't know why the android even had an apparent moral code. He didn't even feel, for God's sake. Right and wrong should be irrelevant.

Lieutenant Yar, though, she though. She supposed it would be enough to have a heart-to-heart discussion over the other woman's animosity, just to right things in the eyes of whomever might be watching. Mostly just Data, she thought.

Of course, no matter what she did, Yar would always feel the same way towards her. Jolene knew the psychologies of women extensively well. It was obvious Yar cared about the android. Jolene knew, deep down, that that she had been here long before her, but in her world, women were a dog-eat-dog species.

"Every man for himself," she muttered, watching her reflection as she raised an imaginary mug eye-level, clicked it to the mirror, and took a sip of the air resting in her grasp. It was an old joke that had turned in to something of a motto over the years.

For the first time in her life, though, Jolene Charter had a rival. That was something to consider.

It wasn't that Yar was prettier, or that the two women even could compare to each other. No, in was in that Data seemed to have equal preference for both of them. That was something Jolene had never seen in a man before. It was always competition. But with this one, there was the chance he didn't want either one of them. Any competition would just be a game of pretend.

She didn't know if androids could feel or not. It was a philosophical question that begged for more time than she wanted to spend thinking about it, but it certainly did seem like Data acted like more or less a normal man with some amount of interest in her, albeit infinitely more polite than even the most chivalrous man who'd gotten mixed up with her.

It was hard to get her head around.

Contemplation aside, Jolene knew a challenge when she saw it. When she had entered Starfleet Academy, she had only the faintest notion of the power she could exert over people, with a carefully crafted demeanor. It took her several months to realize she had all the men at her fingertips, if she painted them just right. It came naturally to her.
After the revelation came to her and she took full advantage of her charms, she easily became the bane of her female classmates' existences. They hated her, but most of them were too serious about earning their way in to a successful career to let it consume them.

Was it such a bad thing, though? She tilted her head back in the mirror, examining the line of her jaw.

Her face appeared to have remained the same. Jolene rocked back on to her feet and stood up. Some of the feeling had left her legs; she walked around until they were comfortably tingly and attended to her wet hair, wringing it out with a towel as much as it allowed before twisting it up and securing it with a discreet clip.

Looking at her bare face one more time in the smaller mirror in the bathroom, she applied her makeup with a well-practiced, expert hand. Foundation. Powder. Contouring. Blush. Eyeshadow. Liner. Subtle lipstick. Mascara.

She blinked when she was finished, looking in to the mirror at her reflection. The face staring back at her was her weapon, her strength. It had taken years to construct it so flawlessly. A little wisp of orange spiraled lightly off to the side, having escaped the confines of the twist.

Glancing at herself one more time, Jolene left the bathroom. She had business to do.