Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Tomás Darquin
Stepping into the barn was like stepping into another life, but instead one of ancient history, for Kim it was her own past. Simpler times winding around her with the warm, sweet scent of hay and the restful quiet of the horses in their stalls. She was loath to break the moment and lingered on the threshold as if the light on her back had turned to amber, fixing her in place.
Kim blinked, startled, and looked to the young man who had spoken. She didn’t recognize him at all, or he her, and they squinted at each other questioningly.
She cleared her throat, shattering the moment. “Sorry. I was looking for my g– Shawn Peterson. Is he in?”
“He is, but there’s no riding today miss, I’m sorry to say. Maybe tomorrow.”
“Actually, that’s not why I’m here.”
“Raul, who is it? Did you tell them we’re closed today?”
Kim stiffened as she heard Shawn’s rumbling voice from somewhere back in the stable. It was the voice she’d hear in the past, when she’d done some sort of mischief. The young man, Raul, seemed unperturbed by it, even amused.
“I did, and I don’t know yet. I had not gotten around to asking yet,” he called back, then lifted his brows at Kim, prompting her to answer up.
“Kim,” she replied. “Kim Matsumoto.”
Shawn had better ears than he was playing at, and suddenly he was in the aisle, his expression one of disbelief, ready to be angry. Kim was once used to tempting his anger on a daily basis, but now she feel silent, more apprehensive than she’d been in any of her assignments as a ranger.
Already unbalanced, she could have bolted when he suddenly moved toward her. The last thing she saw was an enormous grin, before she was engulfed in a hug that lifted her clear off the ground. Her breath left her in a startled gasp, and she could only dangle doll-like, gone dumb with amazement.
“My god, you’re alive! When did you get here? Are you in trouble?” He put her down but kept a grip on her shoulders as if she might try to escape.
Kim couldn’t help but laugh then, her paralysis broken. “I guess I deserve that. No, I’m not in trouble for once. I wish I it could have been sooner but…” She waved shortly at the sky. “The wars’ only just over.”
The inspection she was favored with spoke his thoughts clearly enough. Doubt and mistrust, but resignation as well. Loyalty to family was more important than opinions, a fact of his nature that had saved Kim a few dozen times over. Hopefully it would serve her again.
“It’s a long story, grandfather, but I promise it’s not trouble. For once something’s gone right.”
The story went back further than Darquin was ever asked, but then there were questions only Kim could answer. What happened with school, and her disappearance. How she’d conflicted with her brother over Mars, while hedging around her own telepathic ability. Then the explosion of the Shadow war and the Vorlons and finally the Alliance and the civil war. Even as used to war, and all it’s abominations, Shawn was stunned. The first thing he latched on was the closest to his view of reality.
“But the Minbari…”
Kim sighed. He could accept Shadows and Vorlons, but not an alliance with the Minbari. “They’re not all as you’ve seen.”
“That’s easy to say.”
“Minbari died too in that war, and yet they’ve accepted us.” Kim grimaced at him, then she felt a little guilty. He was the one who had lost two children to the war, countless friends, and nearly his own life. Death could not so lightly be put aside. “Can you at least believe I am doing it for us as much as the others? Without the Alliance, Earth and so many other worlds would have been so much rubble by now. Times are changing, but not who I stand for. I wouldn’t have chosen this if I didn’t think it was right.”
Shawn scrubbed a hand over his short hair, quiet. Behind in one of the stalls, Raul was pretending he was focused on horse grooming, never mind that he’d been working over the same horse for over an hour. After being introduced, and Kim reminded he was a cousin, Shawn seemed willing to pretend he wasn’t there either. Kim held her tongue and just hoped embellishments of her story wouldn’t end up across continents before nightfall.
Shawn heaved a huge sigh, and nodded slowly. “I know you wouldn’t, Kim. And I suppose they helped you when we couldn’t, but I can’t trust them, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able too.”
“I don’t trust some of them either, especially in the warrior cast, but…” Kim refrained from mentioning she felt the same way about a lot of humans. Now wasn’t the time for moral arguments. “It’s the right thing to do.”
“Then if you say it is for you, then it is. It’s all I care about.”
Kim could have cried at that moment. She hadn’t allowed herself to believe until then that she’d had anyone to go back to. “Thank you.”
“You’re my granddaughter,” he said, and to him it was all that mattered. He clapped her shoulder, and steered her gently but firmly out of the stable. “We should get in before ‘Nessa sends a search party. Now you said you didn’t come alone?”
“Tomas Darquin. We serve together on the same ship.” At his expression, she added hastily, “A friend.”
“I’m not going to terrorize your friend, Kim,” He said, sounding amused. “I’m just curious.”
Kim didn’t trust the sudden lightening in his mood, and she groaned inwardly. Maybe it would have been better if some things hadn’t gone back to normal. It might take months to make it up to Darquin at this rate.
(c) Copyright 1999 Alida Saxon and Joe R. Medina. All rights reserved.