Guilt Is Always Jealous

Characters: Dunstan Kordieh, G’fen

The day after the battle with the Centauri, Dunstan Kordieh was trying not to hover over the sole patient in Medlab. It wasn’t that she had been unkind, simply that — like so many others aboard the Phoenix — Manaar Rashid simply wanted to retreat into her own thoughts, to find her own escape from grief.

He checked over the new supply of plasma-synth one more time, then looked up, to see G’fen standing in the doorway of Medlab.

“Hey Dunstan, got a minute?” G’fen hadn’t been feeling quite up to par since the accident. He’d decided that talking to his friend was what he needed.

Kordieh took in his friend’s downcast demeanor. He’d never seen the Narn look like that. “Sure, what’s going on?”

“Nothing much, just thinking about what happened to … ” he stopped short. There was no reason to continue. “Anyway … what time are you off?”

“Officially, not for a couple hours. Practically, there isn’t a lot to do right now. We could talk in the supply room if you want. It’s private enough.”

“Okay…” The two headed through Medlab to the supply room. Inside, Kordieh shifted a large crate and a stepladder for seats, then looked G’fen over. “Everyone’s been very upset over what happened,” he said. “The pilots, worst of all.”

“Yeah, I was out there with them … ” There was a short silence. “Anyways, we haven’t seen much of each other since the fighting began. How’ve ya been?”

“It’s been quiet. Healer Daanike has always been very kind — and I hope to settle things with Doctor Brannon soon.” He paused, looking again at his friend. He took a deep breath, then spoke quickly. “What’s wrong, G’fen? I know what happened in the fight has everyone all twisted up, but –”

G’fen was silent for a short moment. “I guess … I guess I feel responsible.”

Kordieh had to catch himself from doing a double take. “Responsible? How could you be responsible for what those Centauri ships did?”

“Not for what they did, but for her getting in the line of fire … ”

“I never heard exactly what happened. Can you tell me?”

G’fen looked gravely at his friend, then sighed. “I was serving as gunner with Cat Rosha and I told her that I had a good shot … apparently not good enough. The Centauri were about to blow us out of the sky when … when Ayeshalan took the hit for us.”

“Oh, my friend, no wonder you feel so terrible.” Kordieh lowered his head. He chewed at his lip, trying to find the right words. He’d never had to deal with anything like this before.

“You must know,” he began, hesitant, “that she knew what she was doing. Ayeshalan made her decision. It wasn’t your fault.”

“But I was the one who put her in that position!”

Kordieh looked a little confused. “But you said … you said you had a shot, right? So you were just doing what you needed to do, as well.” He paused a moment, then added in a softer tone, “Or is there something I’m missing?”

For no apparent reason, G’fen went on the offensive. “She had to be the hotshot. Always better than everyone else. Better than the Narn … ”

Kordieh leaned back in his improvised seat, as if to duck a blow. “I … I don’t understand,” he said in a voice barely above a whisper.

G’fen’s voice was nowhere near a whisper. “Oh, come on, you had to have noticed! How she said her race was better than the Narn!”

Kordieh paled, but took a deep breath and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, G’fen. Did something happen between you and Ayeshalan before she died?”

“Yeah, that damned Minbari said her race was better than mine!”

“Good grief,” Kordieh murmured. “That’s terrible. Are you sure it wasn’t some kind of mistake?”

G’fen was just becoming annoyed with the whole conversation. “There was no doubt. You can ask Darquin, he was there!”

“All right, all right,” Kordieh said quickly. “I don’t doubt you, honestly. I just have one question.” He took a deep breath, bracing himself. “If that’s the way she felt about you … why would she sacrifice her own life to protect you?”

G’fen was dumbfounded for a second. “Um … Oh, I don’t know. That isn’t important at the moment!” he shouted.

Kordieh silently reminded himself that he was still in the middle of Medlab — if this all went horribly wrong, it wouldn’t take the healers long to reach him. The most frightening thing was, the thought was at least partly serious. “Well then, what is important at the moment?” he asked, flexing his fingers nervously.

Shouting, G’fen began, “What is important is – ” Abruptly his voice lowered to normal. “… that we need to do something fun!”

Kordieh’s relieved sigh blew through the small room like a spring breeze. “Well, that I can absolutely understand,” he said. “It’s been so grim for everyone. What should we do?”

G’fen smiled. “When I first heard that the ship didn’t have any alcohol … I decided to bring some aboard…”

Kordieh’s dark eyes widened a bit. “I haven’t had a drink in a long time,” he said. “You can imagine on Minbar, it’s hard to come by. Maybe when we’re both off duty tonight –”

He fell silent as G’fen’s link chirped, demanding attention.

G’fen sighed. “G’fen, go.”

The voice was one he had heard only a few times since coming aboard. “Report to Shok’na-li Morgan in bridge conference room one, immediately.”

“Understood,” he said, closing the channel and turning to Kordieh. “That’s never good … let me tell ya. I’ll be back when you’re off duty.” G’fen left Medlab, headed toward the bridge where Morgan was already waiting.