In the Distance

Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Billy Nichols


The bridge was a flurry of activity for which Kim barely had a second to look up and observe beyond the boundaries of her console.

“Bring us about to face them,” Hale ordered, “Viewscreen up and get those weapons online.”

Then Yoshino, “Captain. We’re getting another power surge from the planet. It’s massive –”

Kim finally snatched her moment and quickly closed her eyes. Not again.


 

It was dark, the air cool and impossibly perfumed with the scents of growing things somewhere out of sight. She was in a bed, wrapped in blankets that must have been what was making her feel so heavy and uncomfortable. Had she slipped into her past again, on Earth?

Pushing the blankets back didn’t reveal limbs still gangly with youth. Far from it. She sat up sharply, mouth opening and closing in disbelief.

Someone stirred beside her and Kim looked with shock on the face of Billy Nichols. “Lass? ‘S it time?” he asked blearily, blinking.

“You’re… I’m…. I’m pregnant?” was all Kim could gasp out.

Billy shook his head to clear it and scrubbed a hand through hair that was already standing up at all angles. He looked at her with a face changed, pinched with worry. “You have been. Two weeks late now.”

“Billy? What?” She looked around if the room could give some clue, but other than a few objects on the table or shelves, she didn’t recognize the place either. “I don’t understand.”

Billy caught her hands, gripping tight. The solid warmth there, along with the faint murmur of thoughts made it impossible to imagine him to be a dream. “Lass, what’s wrong?”

“I’m not supposed to be here. You’re on Babylon 5, I’m on the Phoenix. This isn’t happening.”

“It’s been a long time since that was the case,” he said, frowning with confusion.

“No. That’s now. We were –” Kim shook her head helplessly, unable to explain. “And I barely know you!”

Kim didn’t need telepathy to catch the brief stab of hurt she brought. Billy let go of her hands, moving toward the vidcomm. “I think I should call–” Suddenly he stopped and stared hard at her as if he were trying to remember something. Kim missed it entirely as she put her legs over the edge of the bed and tried standing. A moment later she was leaning on an arm braced on the headboard. Standing wasn’t making her feel any better. In fact, she felt like laying right back down until the pains went away.

“This is just too real,” she groaned.

“You told me about….” Billy said slowly, across the room. Then he was there, easing her down to sit on the edge of the bed. “Kim, this is your future. It hasn’t happened to you yet.”

“The future. When? How?”

Billy sat down beside her, and squeezed her hand reassuringly. “It’s … been a while now. Just rest. It should all go back in a minute or two.”

“But –”

“Shh.” Out of a habit that was his own, but wildly unfamiliar to Kim, he leaned over and kissed her lightly on the cheek. “It’ll be all right.”

If she’d had a moment to think, she would have tried to scan him. She would have tried to do a lot of things. As it was, she lifted up her free hand and look with bemusement at the ring there, secure and worn into its place.

Billy’s smile was shy. “Know I have no claim on you, but…. Be careful.”

“I didn’t think. I mean… me?”

“You, love.” He wouldn’t elaborate.

“I –” Kim’s breath caught in a gasp, her discomfort sharpening painfully. Her thoughts were pushed immediately out of mind. “I think –”

“What?” Billy’s confusion quickly changed and his hand moved to her stomach. “Is it–?”

Kim nodded tightly and lifted her head to look at him.

He was smiling, a tender expression she would never have hoped for in her future. He opened his mouth to speak, and she thought she heard the words —


 

— and her fingers collided hard with the cut crystals of her console on the Phoenix. Gasping as if she’d just run and marathon, she pressed her scrapped fingers into her side, until the sting eased.

Beside her, Meg leaned against her board, letting out a long breath. “Diw,” she muttered. “What next?”

“You had to ask that question, Meg, didn’t you?” Kim scolded breathlessly.

Meg through her a glance or glare – sometimes it was hard to tell the difference with her friend — then quickly straightened to her duties. “I’m reading weapons charged, but they’re not firing,” she reported to waiting ears.

“Then why aren’t they firing? Get our weapons online,” Hale ordered. “And I want to know what the Hell’s been hitting us. ASAP.”

Kim shook her head and bent back to the task. She’d have to figure it all out later.


Copyright (c) 1998 Leslie McBride and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.