It had to be clean.
These things were always too messy. This had to be a severance. Simple. Easy. A division.
Samantha Miller didn't want to be with him any more, and that was all there was to it. And it was mutual, Jordan wasn't any happier than she was in the relationship. But they couldn't seem to pull the trigger.
So things limped on. She spent more time at work. He spent more time at work. She hung out more with her friends, he spent more time with his. It got to the point that they only saw each other as they went to bed. And sometimes not even then.
Sam was almost certain she wasn't the only one who had been sleeping around.
So when they had a Saturday that they couldn't otherwise occupy, they decided to spend it doing something they figured they could both use. They drove to a professional building on the edge of town in silence, got out of the car in silence, took the elevator to the third floor still in silence, and approached an office with a nameplate reading "S. Grey."
They sat apart in the empty waiting room.
"Jordan and Samantha?"
Both of them looked up. The voice was calm, calming, even. The man it belonged to had come around the corner. He seemed to be in his mid-thirties, with dark hair and brown eyes. "Please, do come in."
They complied in silence.
The inner office was in the middle of a hallway, with presumably a second entrance further along in case parties needed to enter and leave separately, or need to come in without public scrutiny. The office itself was comfortable but professional, walking the line between a living room and a treatment space. The counselor quietly indicated a round glass-topped table with three chairs.
They sat at three equidistant points.
"Samantha and Jordan," he said, and the two of them nodded. "My name is Sterling Grey. I'm here to help."
"Thank you, and Sam, please."
"Sam, of course." He smiled. He had a kind smile. "Now, I've spoken to you both separately, Sam after you made the appointment, Jordan the day after, and the two of you are here on a Saturday afternoon because things aren't going so well between you."
Jordan nodded. "Uh, hasn't been for a while, I guess. But it's not like we're... fighting. There's just..." he shrugged. "I think we've both known a while that things aren't what they used to be."
"To the point that I don't... I don't think that either of us think it's recoverable."
Sterling nodded. "But you're still together."
Sam and Jordan looked at each other. They both gave small shrugs. "It's hard to leave a relationship," Sam said. "Especially when there isn't anything wrong, exactly."
Sterling leaned back a bit in his plastic chair. "Of course. So you sought help."
"That's pretty much it," Jordan said.
Sterling let out a breath. "What I'm about to tell you doesn't leave this room. Not in your notes, not in recordings, not even in your memories." His voice had changed. "You are in the presence of an individual of power, a villain known as Silver Tongue, and my voice has you bound to your chairs."
Sam started. There was a sweetness in the air, a hint of strawberry licorice. She could smell it, taste it. Something seemed... off. Different. She could see Jordan was just as confused. The counselor stood up and started pacing slowly, back and forth, but Sam was more focused on the scent in the air than the words he was saying. She unbuttoned her sweater in the warmth. Jordan shifted uncomfortably, but was nodding; Sterling was addressing him directly, so it wasn't really important for her to pay close attention. She pushed the sweater off her shoulders and onto the back of the chair. It took her a moment or two to undo her jeans, and a little more to wriggle out of them; she was still stuck to the chair, and she was being bombarded with other things to hold her attention, namely Jordan's growing relaxation and comfort and the increasing intensity of the strawberry scent.
By the time she had slipped her shoes off and pushed her jeans to the floor, Jordan was on his feet and shaking hands with Sterling. The relief on Jordan's face, the sheer happiness that was there was something that she hadn't seen in months, and it made her happy, too, to see the man she had once loved happy. She stood up as well, her head spinning with strawberries and sugar, and took him in a warm embrace.
"I'm sorry things didn't work, Sam," he said, rubbing her back. His eyes were damp with tears, but he was smiling.
"I'm sorry, too," she replied, smiling back. And, "It's good to see you... unstressed."
"You too." He kissed her cheek lightly and looked in her eyes. "I'll take the car, I'll start packing up, alright? I'm gonna crash at Phil's for the night, we can sort out the stuff later."
Sam nodded, letting Jordan go. "That'll be great." She turned to face Sterling. "Is he really going to forget what... you just did to us?" she asked as she pulled off her shirt.
"The moment he walks out that door, yes," the counselor confirmed. "You will, too, though we have a little more to work on, you and I."
"I'll let you get to it," Jordan said, moving towards the door.
Sam unhooked her bra and let it drop. "Sounds good to me."
He paused as she slipped her panties off, drinking in the sight of her. He shook his head wistfully, but headed out into the hallway all the same. The door closed behind him with a powerful finality.
Sam looked down at herself. "I ... suppose that I've been undressing for your pleasure?"
Sterling chuckled. "Entirely. But, you're my last appointment for the day, and Jordan does need some time to get his affairs in order."
Sam walked slowly towards the supervillain. "I'm guessing you have some ideas for how to spend that time."
"A few, yes."
He spoke, and her thoughts dissolved into strawberry scent.