Kim Matsumoto slipped into the Observation deck, drawn by curiosity. It was as much for the announcement as what she was sensing that encouraged her to enter. Yoshino, working her way through the press of people, both human and Minbari, saw her friend and called out. “Kim!” She moved toward her.
“Caught me.” Kim spoke before seeing Yoshino, turning with a smile. Then a slightly surprised expression emerged as she saw her friend’s clothes. Striking green, patterned satin complemented Yoshino’s shining white hair and the brilliant colors across her arms and shoulders.
With an almost girlish glee, Yoshino explained, “I borrowed the dress from Doctor Trassano. Do you like it?”
“Beautiful. Hand it to the Centauri to make such rich fabrics.” Kim smiled, then glanced past. “And organize parties.”
“Everything has come together wonderfully.” Yoshino gestured toward the back of the room. “Something to eat or drink, perhaps?”
“Something to drink would be welcome.” Kim made a slow drift toward the tables. “So you have been working on this as well?” It wasn’t hard to guess, following the indicators, among them an understandable pride her friend found in the work.
Yoshino explained, “I offered to help Doctor Trassano. As I told her, organizing logistics for things like this is stock in trade for Operations. And it gave me something to do while the teams were down on the planet….” She spoke a bit more softly, so only Kim could hear. “Besides worry about you.”
Kim’s head bowed slightly, either in embarrassment or thanks. Perhaps both. “It was… interesting. Much of what we saw, and what I sensed down there, I’ve never encountered before. Some of it, I’ll be happy if it’s the last time.”
“I saw some of the preliminary reports. Are you all right, then?”
Kim accepted a glass of fruit juice. “Yes, I think so. It all passes…. Did anything happen besides this, while we were gone?” She chuckled at herself. “I can’t leave work at the door.”
“Just this. Though just before I came here, I let Captain Hale know that we have located a possible home planet of the tech raiders.”
Kim frowned. “I wonder why they’ve not noticed us if we can find them?”
“Either they are otherwise occupied, and have not looked for us, or they have noticed us and have not troubled themselves to act.” Yoshino paused and looked around. “In either case, there is time yet to concern ourselves with it. Now, it really is time to leave work at the door.”
“I give in,” Kim said, laughing quietly.
Yoshino grinned widely. “Good! Now, let’s see….” Rising to her tiptoes, she looked around the crowd.
“What have you got in mind?”
“We need to find dance partners. I don’t want to let this music go to waste.”
“Dance?” Kim’s voice was almost a squeak, and most certainly a protest. She’d been intending to be a wall flower.
“Yes, why not?” Yoshino spotted someone across the room, near the improvised stage. “Aha!”
“Well…” began Kim.
“Come on!” Yoshino grinned wickedly. “You’re not going to make me drag you over there, are you?”
“I’ve been wondering how well these new boots would grip.”
Yoshino laughed and led Kim back toward the stage, almost propelling her toward a slightly bemused Security Chief. “Anla’shok Darquin! Doctor Matsumoto here says you are at the top of her dance card!”
“Yoshino!” Kim hissed under her breath, then looked at Darquin. “Ah…”
They could see Darquin’s eyes glaze over for a moment before he answered. “Sure!” He turned to Kim and shrugged.
But Yoshino had already turned aside, spotting new quarry. “Anla’shok DeVries! A moment, if you please?”
Darquin said softly to Kim, “I guess ‘Yoshino Klevetati’ translates to ‘Dolly Levi.'”
Kim replied, “I don’t know who that is, but don’t I think it’s necessary.” She looked after Yoshino moving out on to the dance floor. Her friend was now in hot pursuit of Storm One. “I feel rather sorry for him,” she said, fighting down the smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth.
“Don’t worry. If it gets out of hand, we’ll shack her up with his copilot.”
Kim laughed. By now, Yoshino had succeeded in coaxing a somewhat awkward DeVries onto the dance floor. Kim smiled, a laugh not long stilled by the look in her eyes.
“Would you like me to show you a few dance steps?” Darquin offered.
Kim bit her lip. “I hope you’ve got sturdy feet. It’s been over a decade.” Despite the warning, she stepped away from the edge of the floor.
“Eh, I’m used to hazard pay. All we have to do is make it through this song, and after that, maybe she’ll leave you alone.”
“Maybe,” she said, taking a deep breath.
Copyright (c) 1998 Jamie Lawson, Joe R. Medina and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.