Characters: Yoshino Marina, Dr. Kim Matsumoto
Yoshino Marina sat in one of the study carrels in the tech center of the Anla’shok training center, poring over one article after another. The Minbari had some rather nice intrusion tech, which she thought she’d be able to put to good use – once she could understand it all. At first she didn’t even recognize that another person had entered the room.
It was noticing a familiar presence that brought Kim to step into the room. “Hello, Yoshino. Good seeing you away from the ship,” Kim said cheerfully.
“Oh, hello, Kim,” Yoshino said, turning away from the screen to face her friend. “Believe it or not, except for helping Margaret with the installation of the gunnery pods, I haven’t been on the ship since we docked.”
“Well that’s an excellent change from the last time we were in.” Not in any rush to leave, and without any other worker there to disturb, Kim sat herself down in the available space next to Yoshino.
“I’m trying to find out if the Minbari have any choice bits of intrusion software I haven’t seen yet. My last hack into Shonichi’s accounts just got closed out.”
“Oh? What are you trying to get into there?”
“I’m just trying to keep track of his movements. He’s bound to send someone after the swords sooner or later, and I want us to know about it.”
“That’s true, on all counts. If there is anything I can do… you will let me know? It’s unfortunate most of my contacts are archeological in nature.”
“Of course. I plan on keeping you, the Captain, and Chief Darquin up on all this.” She paused a moment. “This reminds me … I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something since we docked, but you’ve been busy.”
“Yes, a little.” And Kim was glad she was the telepath, not Yoshino. “What did you want to talk about?”
“As I told Margaret, you’re one of the people who seems to know him best Darquin san, that is. I’d like to get to understand him better.”
“Oh. You know I expected something technical, rather than– ” Kim abruptly stopped and regrouped. Her own reaction surprised her, until she realized it was feeding off what she was sensing. Yoshino’s strong attraction to Darquin was unmistakable. “What would you like to know?”
Yoshino lowered her head a moment, thinking. The obvious question, at the front of her mind What does he think of me? remained unspoken. “I know that during our mission to Abbai, he was very troubled. I know a little of why, but not all. Do you think … do you think he would be willing to hear me out, if I were to speak to him?”
Kim stuck to what her ears heard. “I believe so. Troubled, but not unreasonable that I’ve seen.”
“I’d be tempted to ask more about his past, but that’s not fair to ask you, really. Maybe … what sort of things does he care about, that you can see? Like the music.”
“MUSIC, in capital letters. I wouldn’t have to turn on any music if I had the room next to his,” Kim joked, then made an effort to offer up more than wit. “He’s a good pilot, and he spars well in the gym, but I can’t really say I’ve seen him take up any other sort of… personal activity, though.”
“Did you know that he joined the band?” Yoshino suddenly caught her breath. “Goodness, maybe you don’t even know that I did!”
“I didn’t even know there was an official band!” Kim exclaimed, looking Yoshino over then with interest. “Don’t ever let someone tell you a telepath knows all.”
Yoshino grinned. “I guess a couple of the Storm Squadron pilots started it. It’s called Sea Change. Eddie Kriechbaum overheard me singing to myself and convinced me to try out. And all of us got together to buy Darquin-san a guitar from Abbai, which convinced him to join us. He’s an incredible player.”
“I didn’t realize, but that’s great. All of it.”
She flushed slightly, suddenly embarrassed by her own enthusiasm. “We’re going to try and play for the crew after we set out on our next mission. I hope you’ll have a chance to come hear us.”
“I’d enjoy that. Consider me there.”
“Good.” Yoshino paused a moment, her thoughts turning back toward Darquin. “Margaret had suggested that perhaps I should invite him to dinner after a rehearsal. Would that be a good start? Or perhaps it would be better to invite him and other friends, for a gathering, first?”
“Here’s a thought… I’d already hoped to get a few people together for dinner before we have to go. Why not come? And maybe we can catch him as well.”
“That sounds wonderful!” A conspiratorial grin crept across her face. “Tell me, have you a place in mind?”
“I do, actually. Do you know of The Inoruann?”
“Yes, that’s a good place. Minbari, and I think it’s the worker caste that runs it.”
“I think so, and being so convenient to the space port, I expect they’re used to diverse traffic.” Kim grinned suddenly. “Not much of a party if we’re afraid of eating flarn the wrong way.”
“And I thought tea ceremony was frightening.”
Kim laughed. “And both of us have had some experience with formality. I don’t think Meg would tolerate too much of that on what’s supposed to be shore leave.”
Yoshino smiled. “Perhaps not. I don’t know her as well as you, of course.”
“You seem to be getting somewhere, if you’re calling her ‘Margaret’.”
“She said something about having been too distant. You know, this reminds me of something else. I have reclaimed my own name. Marina.”
“Marina. I’m glad. I was never… comfortable with the other,” Kim admitted. “It didn’t seem right.”
“That’s true, it wasn’t. My artist convinced me that it was time to stop torturing myself.”
“I seem to have missed a lot. When did you manage to get in contact with him again?”
A tinge of grief crept through Yoshino’s thoughts. “He was the same who told me about my swords. On the Day of the Dead.”
“Oh…. I’m sorry. I did not intend–”
“No, no,” Yoshino said quickly. “It was truly for the best, his visit. You haven’t upset me, please don’t worry.”
“If you’re certain.” Kim stretched out her legs and crossed them at the ankles comfortably. The computers waited unused behind her. “The Day of the Dead didn’t go by quietly for anyone I think.”
“No, it seems not.” The unspoken question floated at the top of Yoshino’s mind, although Kim could have guessed it even if she weren’t a telepath.
And Kim wasn’t ready to answer it just yet. The answer wasn’t one that could be left at a single statement. “Well, I suppose I’d better take care of this. I think I’ve been hiding out long enough this week,” Kim said with a quick smile, shifting away.
“I don’t suppose you can tell me about Nichols-san?” Yoshino asked, managing to affect a look of wide eyed innocence.
Kim’s skin might not have been as translucent and pale as Yoshino’s, but it showed a blush just fine for all that. “What has Meg said already?”
Yoshino grinned. “That you and he were very close, and that you’d been apart for a long time. So you were getting reacquainted.” She covered her mouth with one hand for a moment, then added, “She seemed to delight in teasing you. Even when you weren’t there.”
“And one of these days I’m going to manage to return the favor.” Kim sighed, but there was a laugh in the sound. “‘Boyfriend’ sounds too juvenile. Lover? That’s the kind of word that’s difficult to introduce a person by, but… it’s true.” She smiled in a happy, embarrassed sort of way.
“Congratulations.” Yoshino smiled warmly, reaching out to pat her friend on the shoulder. “I’m very happy for you.”
“Thank you.” Kim smiled, then grinned ruefully. “I’m actually glad I met you first. Meg’s bound to indulge herself next time we meet – and it doesn’t help Will’s an old friend of hers, ripe for teasing. I need time to brace myself,” she managed to joke.
Yoshino smiled back. “It’ll be all right. Perhaps between us, we can find some … ammunition to get a bit of your own back.”
“I would dearly like to see that happen. As it stands now, I’m just tempted to lock her or myself away in a closet.”
“Her first. You have nothing to hide from.” Yoshino’s grin became conspiratorial. “And we’ll figure out something. Trust me.”
“I am feeling better about this. Thank you,” Kim laughed.
“Good. Maybe I’d best get back to my research here, and let you do your work too. You will tell me when the party is?” The excitement tinged with anxiety came through even in Yoshino’s voice.
“I will, very soon. Then we can both invite him. I don’t think we can fail.”
“Thank you, Kim. I owe you.”
“Not at all. This is between friends.” Kim stood. “I’d better go. I’ll be in touch soon, I promise.”
She nodded bowing. “Abayo.”
Kim smiled, bowed slightly and took herself out of the room.
© copyright 2002 Jamie Lawson and Alida Saxon