Characters: Klevetati Yoshino, Dr. Kim Matsumoto
Kim moved carefully, her side pulling uncomfortably even in the least strenuous situations. She wasn’t even going to try and get that box of data crystals out of the top cabinet. Even as uncomfortable as it was she did not move to leave the Science Labs. She had enough of beds and staring at walls to last her quite some time. That more rest was precisely what the doctor had ordered failed to make a dent on her intentions.
Kim only wished there was something to do with her time.
With a faint scowl she surveyed the pristine desk with it’s carefully ordered trays of crystals and her datareader. “Damn Minbari efficiency anyway,” she muttered, and uselessly occupied herself with rearranging things. She was in no condition to help with the wounded, or the repairs and that was just about all there was to do on the way to Babylon 5.
She felt more than heard the entrance into her offices and looked up curiously. It wasn’t her junior, she knew that much. How they managed to constantly be in different places since his coming aboard was beyond her ability to comprehend — or duplicate — even if she wanted to.
No, this was a woman, human and … Albino, Kim realized, looking at her. She was more Asian that Kim was, but her hair was palest white, her skin a near match with its lack of pigmentation.
“Doctor Matsumoto?” The woman bowed, holding her sleeves together. Kim straightened up from her lean against a desk and returned the bow automatically, falling back on old customs without thinking.
“I am called Klevetati Yoshino. I came aboard at Minbar.”
Kim nodded, suspecting as much. She couldn’t have missed someone of her appearance for long on the Phoenix. “How may I help you…?”
“I have…a somewhat unorthodox problem. I am hoping you can help me. Is there any sand aboard that I might use?”
Kim blinks stupidly for a moment. “Sand?” she repeated with bemusement.
“Fine gravel…even wood chips would do, I should think.”
“I… see.” Am I feverish? Kim looked around her labs, even knowing then that there was nothing of the sort. “Perhaps if I knew the use, I could better assist.”
“Of course. The attack on the Ranger compound came so quickly, I was only able to carry away two things: my swords, and Kuri here.” Yoshino opened one deep sleeve, allowing a white-and-chestnut bobtailed cat to be seen. Kim stared at the cat.
“And the sand is for…oh!”
“Precisely. Fortunately for me, she isn’t finicky when it comes to food. But there’s only so many copies of Universe Today I can shred.”
There was a suspicious twitch at the corners of Kim’s mouth. “Yes, I imagine so. Ah… Kim made a more serious attempt at a search, turning away. She opened cabinets and finally ducked in the supply room.
Yoshino shook her sleeve gently, allowing the cat to walk out onto Kim’s desk. “She’s my best friend, at the moment. I couldn’t leave her behind, when I brought her all the way from Earth.”
“No, I understand that,” came Kim’s voice, a little muffled by distance. “I’ve never stayed anywhere long enough for pets myself, but I can understand.” Suddenly Kim was laughing, a wheezing sound. “Ow, oh.”
Yoshino looked toward the room with quick concern. “Are you all right?”
Kim came back in, carrying a bag with some pain, but obvious amusement barely contained for the sake of aching ribs. “Oh, I’ll be.” She hefted the bag on to the desk, the contents shifting like gravel.
“And this is?” Yoshino asked.
“I think this will do nicely; it’s ah… for absorbing hazardous materials.” Kim broke helplessly into another laugh.
Yoshino was smiling. “I’m glad it’s not a bother. I was afraid I would just annoy you with my…request.”
“No, I don’t mind in the least,” Kim assured, holding out hand to the cat.
“Thank you. From both of us,” Yoshino said and Kuri bumped her head against Kim’s hand. Kim scratched at the cat’s neck and under her chin.
“Welcome. Are you among our staff now, or leaving with the rest at Babylon 5?” Kim inquired.
“I’ve been assigned to Operations, so I’ll be staying.”
“Welcome,” Kim repeated with a shift of meaning, then smiled. “I see my monthly supply report is going to get interesting….”
“Once we reach Babylon 5, I should be able to obtain some of this myself,” Yoshino said. Her tone would have sounded too formal to some, but Kim was once quite familiar with the culture that made Yoshino.
Kuri purred, an audible rumble in the quiet labs. Yoshino stroked her with her three-fingered left hand, the disfigurement drawing Kim’s curious glaze for a moment. But Kim was too polite to ask and looked away before her glance was noticed.
“But do not hesitate to ask again,” Kim said, before there could be a long silence.
“Thank you. Let me know if ever I can repay the favor,” Yoshino said. “Now, perhaps, I should go visit our chief of security…before he finds out about our additional passenger from someone other than me.”
“Well, as it is not the only animal aboard I’ve heard of, I should imagine it would not prove a problem. But probably best to do so.”
Yoshino coaxed Kuri back into her sleeve, and hefted the bag of granules to her shoulder with the other hand. “I hope it isn’t. In any case, please feel free to visit me if you wish.” She sighed softly. “I would welcome a friend.”
Kim was little surprised by the admittance, and even at herself a moment later when she bowed slightly and spoke a few words in Japanese, finding words after years of disuse. “Go-shinsetsu ni domo. Arigato, Yoshino-san.“1
Yoshino flushed slightly and smiled, responding in the same and bowing as best she could with the bag on her shoulder. “Taskete kudasat-te arigato, Matsumoto-san.”2
“Do itashimashte,”3 Kim returned and watched as Yoshino turned and left.
1That’s very kind of you. Thanks, Ms. Yoshino.
2Thank you for your help, Ms. Matsumoto.