Characters: Tomás Darquin, Dr. Kim Matsumoto
It's time to go again To your blue room Got some questions to ask of you In your blue room – Passengers, "Your Blue Room"
Kim finally found Darquin at the gym, knowing it was the right place before she even stepped inside. The emotional turmoil pushed into her like a storm front, the air heavy and close.
Wearing his old EarthForce sweatsuit greys, Darquin was smacking the hell out of a practice dummy in the empty gym. There was no technique or thought. Just numbing, brute force. Kim’s eyebrows rose, and then dropped in concern.
She came up behind him unnoticed, speaking from a safe distance with a voice as crisp as ever she’d heard from her own father on the practice mats, her stance to match. “Ikari, Darquin-san.”
Darquin stopped, a little startled, then saw Kim.
“You sure got my old sensei’s attitude down,” he snapped breathlessly. “But it still sounds like one of my old girlfriends.”
Kim’s mouth curled. “Temper and tongue.”
Darquin sighed. “Okay, sorry.” A resentful, half-hearted concession.
She walked around him and ran a hand over the indents where the stuffing had been compacted. “You’ve got strength, but no control,” she observed casually.
Darquin sighed. “Yeah, I know. I’m losing it.”
Kim turned to him. “I’ve heard.” She watched him turn pale, then spoke her next thought to better gauge his response, before her courage ran out. “But not from you, until now.”
He closed his eyes for a moment, swearing under his breath.
“I can understand if you don’t want me to.” Kim said quietly. “But you should go to someone. I’m not the only one on board, after all.”
“No kidding. After scrolling through every other bio on file, this place looks like a fraggin’ telepath convention!” He took another swing at the dummy.
Kim stepped back to dodge the blow. He had every right to feel such a hostility towards telepaths–PsiCorps–but it wasn’t going to help anything. They were just days from Babylon 5, and likely into new tasks. Such a vulnerability couldn’t be left unaddressed. “Dar–Tom.”
He kept his eyes on the nearest floor mat, turning his head just enough to make it apparent that he was at least trying to listen, his jaw muscles flexing.
“I want to help. I was the one who opened it, after all.”
Darquin looked up at her, dropping the attitude. “I just thought… I could handle it.”
“I know. And I’m not one to preach on the subject either.” She smiled faintly.
Darquin shrugged. “Sorry about the remark.”
Kim waved it off dismissively. “I provoked it. My father had that exact tone. Drove me nuts.”
“I’m getting there myself. I-I-I don’t mean….I hope not, anyway.”
“Not crazy. Confused. Repressed memories are bad enough, but you’ve got overwritten memories. It’s messy.”
Darquin tapped his head. “But I can’t exactly take this mainframe out of the net.”
“Not advisable, no.” Before offence can be found, she added, “But we could work to repair it. And, well, you know where to find me….”
“Yeah…but I can’t keep going to you for help. That’s not fair.”
Kim’s eyebrows lifted. “I made the offer willingly. I don’t recall starting a ledger.”
“No…I guess not.” He paused, then pointed to the dummy. “Aw hell, I’m screwing this up anyway.”
She made no comment to that, just shook her head.
He pointed again. “I mean, if this guy were really Minbari, I’d be flailing my arms all over the place trying to get a piece of him. And all he’d have to do is smack me in the head with a fighting pike.” He pointed between his eyes. “Just once, right here.”
Kim chuckled. “I’ve fought like that before. Temper and no brains, and been put on my rump as soundly as you describe. Though it usually only took a finger’s push by my father once I’d worn myself down.”
“No comment. I’ve pushed my luck as it is.”
She laughed outright at that. As the laughter came tumbling out, Darquin smiled a bit, able to let himself off the hook now.
Kim composed herself again and said, “Well, whenever…?”
“I need a shower. Five minutes. Any time after that’s fine.”
Darquin sighed, thinking. “My quarters, I guess. I’m imposing on you as it is.”
“I’m not going to argue it any further.” She looked at her wrist. “I’ll shut down my station and meet you in ten?”
“Sure. I’ll just make up for the extra lab work tomorrow. How’s that sound?”
Kim peeked in before stepping through the opening doorway, and then stopped just inside.
“It’s okay, come on in,” Darquin said quickly. “I can get you a chair.”
Kim nodded and came in a little further, trying not to be nosy as she looked around.
The room was not quite spartan; a basket full of data crystals next to a reader; framed photos of old friends and relations on every table; a wooden katana leaning on wall beside his bed. Even as she entered he was putting down a pitcher of water on the nightstand by the bed, along with two glasses. He moved one photo to put the pitcher down and Kim caught a brief glance of a woman in EF pilot’s uniform.
“Um, I got some water just in case,” Darquin said.
Kim smiled, trying to reassure and unclasped her hands to wave at the couch. “Same as before?”
Darquin nodded absentmindedly, grabbing a chair as he crosses the room. Kim relieved him of it and gave him room to lay down, sensing a bit of stalling in his actions.
He stretched out on the couch. “So, uh, did you want to focus on anything? Otherwise, I had an idea.”
Kim straightened her chair and sat. “You probably know best what is needed.”
“I’m not sure if it’s best, but I want to know who that other person was with Mom.”
“So what’s the idea?”
“Maybe he was there when it happened. The memory wipe. Maybe we see him there.”
“So I look for the face?”
“Um, if it’s possible.”
Kim was hesitant now. She had no doubt it was possible, but it would require more than the light coaxing of their last session. “It…may take some forcing, but if it’s there, it can be found.”
Darquin looked up at the ceiling, trying to settle in. “Okay. I saw his face over my mother’s shoulder–“
“I need your hand,” she gently interrupted.
Darquin looked up at her, inhaled deeply, then gave her his hand. She took it firmly this time, and before he turned away again, said, “You need to look at me.”
Darquin paused, then made eye contact, trying not to seem afraid. For a moment he saw her eyes, smoky-grey, focus hard on him, *into* him. Then the grey swallowed his consciousness.
He heard himself say, sounding so distant, “Back to the rain?”
“The bloody rain.”
Darquin felt her presence settle like a weight in his bones, her awareness watching through his eyes. It was not a passive touch this time. She searched his mind herself, finding what was needed, holding it, controlling it — him. She brought him like a cued vid to that Jeep out in the rain, and the man holding Darquin’s mother back.
“Ahhh, okay,” Darquin said, voice trembling.
Briefly, only half controlled, Kim projected emotion. Apology and reassurance.
Darquin steeled himself. He had wanted this. “It’s okay…where is he?”
Her emotions disappeared again, pushed away. She searched and brought that picture of the man to them both, closer this time. The memory was like a vid, flat and sharp images, focusing as a dreamer couldn’t, holding that moment and memorizing. Darquin felt like the passenger this time, sight pushing toward the man’s face, drawing out the detail on the image. Something about the contour of the man’s chin, the eyes….A deja vu feeling crept over him.
Kim sighed when nothing snapped as it did last time. The implants hadn’t cracked enough. She’d have to push, though she had vainly hoped….
We have go back, she mindspoke.
I need to look. It won’t be easy.
The approval was in his thoughts long before he said it. “Yeah.”
Okay. Slowly at first she pressed, but with each moment, commanded more of him, searching back. Even as that first image remained, held aside to direct and focus, she flickered back through the images of his past.
Darquin somehow began to feel the man’s presence. So close. Kim felt it with him, growing. It left a ghostly imprint. Or something only seen out of the corner of the eye, only to disappear when you turned to it. Kim pressed harder, beginning to perceive a…wall? Weight without substance, strength without shape.
Darquin saw a pair of eyes half-fading into view, like a poorly focused camera.
“Something back here,” he said.
Kim pushed, willing the barrier to break, spreading herself along the wall another had made, looking for the weaknesses. Not knowing the key, she could not force her way through in one place, so she trickled through the cracks like rain, one and then another and another….
A little sound came. Low groans.
“Someone’s here!” Darquin said and mentally winced under the glare of the man’s eyes as they came into sharp focus.
“They look the same…!”
Kim didn’t let him to look away, holding onto every bit, forcing her way through the wall now at a hundred tiny pinpoints. She barely felt Self now, a distant shadow as she focused to the fight.
Darquin felt himself divided, sensing the formation of the wall while something reached through his skin to break through. There was noise without sound, an invisible collision of forces. And he felt that he could drown in it.
“It’s happening again,” he moaned.
Steady, came Kim’s mindvoice, a caution to herself as much as him. Growing exhaustion was now her most tangible link back. She began drawing on her reserves.
Darquin saw nothing but white ceiling now, but it was not his quarters on the Phoenix.
Then he heard a man speak: “It’s not too late.”
“My mother–I can hear her too,” Darquin said just as the muffled sounds became clear.
His mother’s voice: “Do it…before Juan comes back.”
The vision changed as the baby he had been turned to see his father come through the door. Darquin’s father moaned out to his god with dread as his mother begged the other man in black to hurry.
The strange man came into view again, fixing his eyes on the baby’s. The invisible wall formed in his past, within his head, then everything came down like a pitch-colored avalanche, ending in darkness and the anguished groans of Darquin’s mother and father.
For a moment Darquin lay stunned in darkness. “They did it.”
Shocked, Kim was frozen for a moment, then as gently as possible she retreated from his mind. She blinked to find her sight again and distantly, lets go of his hand.
Darquin’s hand fell against the couch, letting it slip against the foot of the couch, over the floor.
Kim returned to herself, more slowly than last time, an effort reconstruct herself, much less her barriers. She breathed slowly, carefully, unable to help him before she could get command of herself.
As if his parents were there, as if communing with invisible gods, Darquin spoke. “You told him to do it…and you left me alone.”
Kim straightened from an uncomfortable slump –how long had it been?– and leaned over Darquin. His eyes were wide open, shining with aborted tears, unable to see the ceiling overhead. Kim couldn’t find anything to say, and hesitated to touch after the invasion. Darquin slowly pulled his hand off the floor, folding his arms over his chest, shivering but covered in sweat. He blinked as he gathered himself.
“I’m still here,” he said.
Kim’s mouth opened and closed without voicing anything. How could she say something so empty as, “I’m sorry”?
Darquin tried weakly to sit up, fighting the urge to slip into a fetal position and Kim finally touched him, helping him up.
“I’m still not sure… if I really–” He wiped away a falling tear a little too quickly. “I guess I did.”
Once he was sitting up, she sat back herself, giving him room. “Do you want me to go?”
He paused to think. “Not right now. I’m not sure what’ll happen. I mean, if….” He shrugged helplessly.
Kim smiled weakly, trying to ease him. “I’ll stay. Whatever you want.”
“Well, I, uh–” Determined, he staggered up and went for the pitcher of water. “–didn’t want to keep you here all night, away from the galley ‘n’ all.”
“I’ll live. What about you?”
Darquin carefully poured water into an expertly cupped hand and splashed his face. “Sure.”
Kim sighed and stood, forcing herself to keep her feet. She slowly paced to get feeling back, but nothing but sleep was going to fix the exhaustion.
Darquin poured a glass, looking at the picture by his bedside, wearily bringing it up to his heart. “I’d better let you go.”
Kim glanced at him, accepting the sudden change of mind. “All right,” she said, quietly heading for the door.
Trying to sound like his heart was in it, he said, “See you later, okay?”
Kim paused. “I’ll be here.”
Darquin nodded vaguely. “Thanks.”
Kim turned around to the door again to hide her grimace. She didn’t feel like she’s done any favors. “Welcome.” She touched the doorpad and slipped out into the hall.
“Kim?” Darquin looked up, not aware of the door. She was already gone. “I’ll be okay. In a while….”