Past Tense Means You Used To Be Nervous

Characters: Margaret Morgan, Yoshino Marina

The bridge of the Phoenix hadn’t been so torn apart since her battle in Vorlon space. At least this time, she was safely in dock, and the disarray would, perhaps, assure success in future battles. Yoshino Marina looked around the controlled chaos that was the construction of tactical weapons chambers, looking for Margaret Morgan.

She found the Phoenix’s first officer leaning inside an open panel, checking a bank of relays. “Anla’shok Morgan? May I be of assistance?”

Morgan turned to look, then straightened up. “Anla’shok Yoshino.” Her mouth quirked at the question. “Yes – anywhere you wish,” she said, waving a hand to take in the whole of the bridge.

“Perhaps somewhere close by … where you can direct me?” Yoshino suggested. “I haven’t had time to go over the plans for the chambers, I’m afraid.”

“I cannot claim to fully understand them myself yet, even though I have.” She considered, then led her over to one place, to show her what to do.

Yoshino paid close attention to Morgan’s directions, and just before setting to work, asked, “When you are ready to take a break, perhaps we could talk a little bit?”

That surprised her. “Of course. I was planning on one in a few minutes.”

Arigato. I’ll be here when you’re ready.”

Mystified, Morgan smiled, bowed, then went back to what she had been working on.

Yoshino worked on another section of relays. Her mind bounced back and forth between the work of her hands, testing the power conduits to make sure they could accept the new load, and the questions that had brought her to Morgan in the first place. She felt like a silly schoolgirl again, but she didn’t know what else to do.

“Yoshino,” Morgan repeated, not unkind.

“Ah! I’m so sorry,” she said, turning around and standing up. She had been so absorbed in her work, and her thoughts, that Morgan had to speak twice to get her attention.

“No worry. Would you like some tea?”

“Thank you, that would be very nice.”

Morgan indicated her office, let the door shut behind both of them. She had a thermos of tea ready, poured out two mugs, handed one to Yoshino with the invitation, “Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you. I hope you don’t mind the intrusion. I … just needed to talk to someone.” Her voice betrayed her nervousness, but she didn’t sound unhappy.

“Of course not. How can I help?”

Yoshino spoke as if she was continuing a thought. “I wanted to talk to someone who knows him well, and Matsumoto-san seems to be out of communication for the moment.”

Morgan was even more confused by that. “‘Him’ who?”

“Darquin-san.”

That startled her. “Why?”

The response startled her even further: Yoshino blushed to the roots of her pale yellow hair. “I … I would like to get to know him better,” she said. “Since I hardly know anything about him, I don’t know where to start.”

“Oh.” Then Morgan had to hide a bit of a smile. “I am not sure where to start either. What would you like to know?”

Yoshino thought about this a moment, deciding to begin with the first real talk she’d had with Darquin, over a year ago. “He seems very fond of music. Though we don’t always have the same taste in rock bands. I don’t suppose you know where that might have come from?”

Morgan shook her head. “Not entirely. And … It seems mood-driven, with him. In a different mood, he might like what you do.”

Yoshino nodded. “Mood …” she said thoughtfully. “During our first mission together, he was so strong. As if nothing could disturb him, like a Zen master. But he’s been so troubled lately.”

“He has been. From a combination of things.” Morgan hesitated, then added in a quieter tone, “He has been in need of a good friend.”

“I … I would like to be that,” Yoshino admitted. “The problem is, I have been so troubled myself, I think I may have become unapproachable.”

“Not if you want to change it. And … you cannot be unapproachable if you are the one approaching.”

She nodded. That was only logical. And it was what she wanted. “Do you have any idea how I might begin?”

Morgan couldn’t stop the tired laugh. “I haven’t thought about this kind of thing in years.” But she then she considered the question. “You are both in the band now?”

“Yes. He plays guitar, and I sing.”

“The next time you practice, invite him to a meal, or even just for tea.”

She nodded. “I’m not sure if we’re going to have any rehearsals while we’re in dock, but I’ll remember that.” She smiled. “Thank you. I feel as if I’m making you into a nakodo.”

Morgan shook her head. “What is that?”

“A go-between. Someone who arranges an introduction between people who are looking for a marriage partner. Very old tradition in Japan.”

That made her laugh again, quietly. “I do not mind, for friends. We all should have someone to cling to, in the dark, at the very least.”

“I hope we can be better friends as well, you and I.” She leaned forward, setting her empty cup on the table. “If you wish, you may call me Marina.”

“I am Margaret. And I would like that. I have been… too private.”

“As have I, Margaret.” She smiled. “Is there more work on the chambers I may help with?”

Morgan sniffed. “Plenty.”

“I’m not doing anything else, really. I’d be happy to help.” She grinned. “Besides, the sooner we’re done, the sooner we will be ready to depart on a new mission … and Sea Change will start rehearsals again.”

“Ah. Ulterior motive, I see.” She couldn’t resist teasing her.

Yoshino blushed again, the rush of blood to her cheeks almost glowing through her pale skin. “Yes. I also like to sing.”

“Good. Everyone must have a hobby.” Then, to deflect the teasing, she said, “I look forward to hearing you.”

“I’ll enjoy performing for you.” She stood up, pulling back her hair and quickly twisting it up into a knot.

“Is there anything else I can do? I don’t feel like I accomplished anything.”

Yoshino smiled. “You have. You’ve given me the chance to talk. I think I needed that. And I don’t think either of us are the sort to just sit and gossip.

“Although …” she added a moment later, “Do you know what has happened to Kim?”

Morgan had been about to agree, but stopped. She didn’t bother to hide this smile. “Ie. She is… reacquainting herself with a friend.” It was an attempt to be politic, but not much of one.

“Ah. Then I shall wait a few days before trying to call on her again.” She chuckled, lifting a hand to her mouth.

“You may have better success then.”

Yoshino nodded, smiling as she finished pinning up her hair.


Copyright (c) 2002 Jamie Lawson and Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.