Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Klevetati Yoshino
A bomb may have transformed a great deal of the ship, but when Kim arrived to see her newly restructured Science Labs, what the engineers and designers had worked upon the place was even more startling.
The only thing to detract from the wonder were the crates. Stacks of them on and around every available table, the new and old side by side in their respective lab spaces. It was a depth of organization that was admirable, but bound to be confusing for one thing: she hadn’t been there to organize it. Some of her assistants might be glad to be spared her brand of organization, but Kim was adrift.
“Cursed for my absence,” she said to no one in particular, and laughingly asked, “I’m really supposed to know where everything is before we get there? This should be interesting.”
“We actually tried not to move too much around. But I can help you go through it, if you need me to.”
Kim looked back, started to hear Yoshino’s voice attached the muddy presence she’d felt enter the labs behind her. “I’m sorry, I was…” she shrugged lightly and smiled, “talking to myself. Now after that less than polite arrival I gave you, I’ll say it’s good to see you again.”
Yoshino let her shoulders loosen a bit. “It’s good to see you too. I missed you, and everyone.”
Kim waved to her office, beyond the crates and examination tables. “Care for a seat?”
“Please.” She walked over and claimed a seat in front of the desk. Trailing not far behind, Kim took the second one beside it, turning it slightly before sitting herself. “I have been … working far too hard, I think.”
“Well, if it’s any help, the place looks the better for it. I haven’t been so impressed since I was first assigned here after its commission.” Kim looked at her friend more closely then, matching appearance to the confused tangle of emotions that had made Yoshino, mentally, almost unrecognizable after nearly three months’ absence. “But I’d have to say I agree with you there. Didn’t you take any time off?”
Yoshino looked away, past Kim’s shoulder. “Off the ship? No.”
Kim sat back, surprised. Here she had spent her first day back mourning over her return to duty, just to learn Yoshino hadn’t even had that much to enjoy in leave. “Not even for a day or two?” she asked, reluctant to believe it was possible.
Yoshino shook her head, clearly distressed but not knowing how to express it. “Where could I go?”
“Well Minbar for a start. Or Babylon 5 if you wanted to be away….”
The operations chief just sighed. “The place isn’t the problem. It’s the person. It doesn’t matter where I go, I’ll still be the same.” She looked at Kim. “And in the past few months, here alone, I’ve realized I don’t like what I am very much.”
Kim frowned, dismayed. Until then, she always thought Yoshino to be the steadier of them. “How can you say that? You’ve done so much since you became a Ranger.”
Yoshino nodded, trying to keep bitterness out of her voice. “Yes, I have. I’ve taught myself tech, I’ve run ships, I’ve helped rebuild this ship … reliable, dependable, give me the job and forget about it. I know we’re supposed to be invisible and all, but that much?”
Kim opened her mouth then closed it again, taking a moment to think. It didn’t take scanning to feel the raw edges to the subject she was about to touch. “I don’t think anyone meant to treat you like that. What would you like to do about it?”
Yoshino sighed a little, hanging her head. A blush splashed her cheeks with crimson. “I’m sorry. I’m being terribly rude. And … that’s the worst part. I don’t know what to do. I feel like a spoiled child ….”
“Don’t. You have a reason to be upset, and if it spills over… it’s forgiven. You have forgiven me that much and more a few times,” Kim said quickly. A slight smile emerging, she tapped her own nose then, reminding of where she had hit Yoshino in during their last gym sparring. “I want to help if I can. You deserve that much from me.”
“If you do have any suggestions, I’d be grateful. I mean, it sounds silly to say, ‘I want to have an adventure,’ but that’s what it feels like. The closest I’ve done so far is to get myself fully qualified on the Zen’thas. I should talk to Morgan about that, in fact.”
“Certainly. It’s always good to know what our resources are out there.” Realizing just how she’d said it, Kim hastily corrected herself to say, “I mean, there’s no reason you couldn’t get out there with some real duty flight time– we aren’t chained to our specialties after all.”
Yoshino nodded, taking it in the spirit it was meant. At least Kim was trying to understand, and to help. “True. I have to keep thinking about this … working on it.” She offered a smile. “I lived my whole life this way, until now.”
Kim returned it briefly. “I know about falling into old ways. Well let’s just call it what they are: ruts. As for adventure, why not? Anyone who doesn’t want one once in a while isn’t being honest. Or alive.” She paused, considering for a moment. “Would it really help?”
“Having never really been there, I can’t say for certain, but I can’t help but think it would. Maybe … maybe soon, we will have a chance to find out.” Yoshino looked around, ready to steer the conversation away from herself. “Until then, it wouldn’t be fair to ignore the promises I’ve already made. So what can I tell you about this space?”
Kim chuckled and self-deprecatingly said, “Everything?” Then before the subject could entirely get away, “I can give you a promise too, if you’d like it. Something interesting comes up, I’ll do what I can to see you get it. Supposedly I have some seniority around here…”
Already standing, Yoshino smiled and bowed. “I would be grateful. The hardest part will probably be making sure I see the chance when it is right there in front of me.”
“Well, as I have a gift for trouble — which so often adventure is tied to, it should be no trouble at all for me to stumble upon it.” Kim grinned, relieved to feel her friend’s mood break even a little. “Someone would probably thank you to spare me from it.”
Yoshino smiled. “Then we shall watch each other’s backs.”
“Good.” Kim stood and proceeded her out to the common space again. “Now about these new isolabs…”
(c) 1999 Jamie Lawson and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.