Kordieh had stopped short in the corridor before he had gotten far. It was well into the evening, ship time, and likely Darquin was off-duty. Kordieh wondered where he might be. At a loss as to what else to do, he decided to page Darquin’s link.
The comm system answered with a sudden burst of distant laughter as Darquin answered. “Darquin, go.”
“Chief, it’s Kordieh. I’m sorry to bother you, but there’s something I just learned, I need to tell you.”
“Sure, no problem. Still in Medlab?”
“Just outside my quarters, actually. I go on shift at 2400. I can meet you somewhere.”
“Let’s try the Station House. We can go into my office.”
Kordieh chuckled. “I was going to go there anyway — until I realized the time. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
“Okay, see ya there. I’ll tell ’em you’re coming.”
“Acknowledged. Kordieh out.”
Apologizing to Yoshino and the rest of the band, Darquin left for the Station House and called ahead to make sure the late shift let Kordieh wait in his office. He arrived a few minutes later in his leather jacket and jeans, with a jet-black guitar slung over his back.
Kordieh started to get to his feet when Darquin entered the office, eyes widening at the attire and the guitar. “I didn’t know you played, Chief,” he began.
“I kinda got drawn back into it,” Darquin said, chuckling. “Everything okay?”
“I think so,” he said. “I wanted to tell you that I received a message…. from Ryath.”
Darquin set the guitar behind his desk and took a seat in front of it. “Direct to you?”
“Yes,” Kordieh said, following suit. “It appeared at first as an incoming StellarCom. But when I opened it, it …. she …. appeared as a hologram. And once it played once, the message was gone.”
“Well, definitely not Centauri spam.”
“Nothing.” Darquin picked up his bottle of water. “What did she say?”
A flush crept up Kordieh’s cheeks. “Actually …. most of it was personal. I think … I think she is attracted to me.”
Darquin’s quick sip ended in a sudden slurp. “Am I old enough to hear the rest?”
“I hope so.” Kordieh took a slow breath and blurted, “I need your advice.”
“Um, okay…where do we start?”
“I … well, I confess I’m attracted to her too. Despite the fact she broke my nose for me…. which she apologized for in her message. Anyway, I wonder if someone should talk to her when she gets back here, before she sees me again. I don’t think she knows … my history.”
Darquin tried to keep a straight face, grimacing as if in thought. As soon as he felt himself grinning, he put his hand over his mouth. “Sorry, I’m not making fun of you or anything.”
“What is it?” asked Kordieh, clearly confused.
“C’mon, it’s Ryath we’re talking about. She can probably vape someone down to their shoes. And you’re worried about her?”
Kordieh’s eyes widened, and then his flush deepened. He hung his head for a moment. “No …. ” he said finally. “I guess I was worried more about what she would think of me.”
“She’s doesn’t know already?”
“I don’t know. She could have read my record, I suppose.”
Darquin grinned. “Our personnel files must be her nighttime reading by now. She’s gotta know. Well, look at it this way. If you talk to her and come clean on your own, then she’ll know you want to be honest with her. That oughta count for something.”
He nodded. “She should know the whole truth. Then … she can make up her mind.”
“And it’ll show you’re…y’know, acting in good faith.”
“I guess I’m just afraid of what she will do.” He snorted, a rueful sound. “Probably on account of the dream I had right before I got the message.”
That got Darquin wondering whether a techno-mage could control someone’s dreams. A few spacer legends intimated as much, but they weren’t exactly reliable sources. He decided not to mention it.
“Anyway … is that the key to it? Act in good faith, be honest?” Kordieh said.
“Not as many lies to remember. Always a plus.”
Kordieh smirked at that for a moment. “I have no idea what women really look for. Except for Katia, I never had a woman look at me twice. And I’m not sure, in retrospect, if she was really looking at me at all, if that makes sense.”
“True. Her heart’s in the right place, but she was mixed up, man.” As soon as Kordieh started contemplating the deck, Darquin changed the subject. “But what are women looking for? Respect, honesty, a real friend. Basically the stuff we want.”
Kordieh nodded, brightening. “That, I think I can deal with. I — I don’t think the Council anticipated something like this happening. Does having a relationship with a techno-mage violate my parole, would you think?”
Darquin bit his lip. Double-entrendres about messing with hardware were dying to get out. “I don’t think so.”
“Was there, ah….” Kordieh grinned. “Never mind. I really appreciate this. I feel like such a child sometimes. And this isn’t quite the sort of thing Chaplain Sinthann can help me with, much as he might like.”
“Dunno. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him much.” Darquin glanced back at his guitar. “I guess it always feels like being a child. Especially when it matters.”
Darquin shrugged. “Sometimes I think it’s just me, but….”
Kordieh nodded, genuinely smiling at last. “Fair enough. I really appreciate this, Chief.” He moved to the edge of his seat. “I should probably be going. There are a few things I need to do before I go on duty.”
“No problem. I gotta put this ol’ girl away.” He picked up his guitar. “You know where to find me!”
Phoenix–“Take It Easy” © 2003 Jamie Lawson & Joe Medina Babylon 5 tm and © 2002 Warner Bros.