Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Billy Nichols
Kim blinked at the monitor as the ISN report closed. Funny how it really feels over now. It had been a day since the fighting had ended, but only now reality seemed to sink in. What wasn’t surprising, except perhaps to her, was what she did next.
A voice command turned the screen over to Stellarcom, and she waited, fingers drumming impatiently as the relays worked to make a connection.
Earth and its circling ships weren’t the only ones captured by the ISN report. In his quarters on Babylon 5, Billy gave a violent start at com’s interruption. “Yes?” He dropped his feet down from the sofa to the floor
“Incoming signal from…” The computer paused briefly in what one might fancy as surprise, and not a system trying to deal with communication overloads. “Earthdome relay.”
Well, that only covers a whole planet. In the hesitation, the channel opened, and Kim only saw a bare wall on the other end.
“Billy? Did this get through?”
Billy stood quickly. “No, right here. Everything all right?”
He caught sight of Kim’s brief smile just in time. “We were lucky, but yes, we’re all right. Everyone’s going to be able to walk on Earth in a few days.” She sounded as stunned as she looked. “We’re doing okay.”
“Really?” He stepped closer to the screen.
“Honest.” She ran her fingers back over the wild mess of her braid, smoothing it as best she could, but there was no way to hide she’d called at her first chance.
Billy’s belated realization startled out a shy smile. “Thank you.”
“What? Oh….” Her voice lost it’s usual assurance for a moment. “Well, are you getting ISN?”
“Yes, just now watching it. I…” He shook his head. There wasn’t any way to describe what he was feeling.
“I didn’t think it’d happen. Not deep down. It’s… I’ve never been this close to Earth in years.”
Billy throat tightened and he laid a hand on part of the screen, wishing he could touch. Kim shook her head after a moment, breaking from her sad reverie. “Anyway, I just wanted you to know we came through all right.” She found a shaky grin. “Want me to bring you anything back?”
Billy dropped his hand, self-conscious. “Real air?” he joked.
Kim laughed. “I’ll bring you a jar, but I don’t know how well it’ll keep.” She drew back from the screen herself, sinking back into a chair, exhausted under the elation.
Billy suddenly sobered. “Seriously…. Have a cousin on Earth, had just decided to look him up when this all started. Know you’ll be busy, but…”
She quickly interrupted before he could talk himself out of his own request. “No, no, I’ve got time. It’ll probably take me a few days, but it looks like the captain’s actually giving us leave. A couple weeks at least, she said, maybe even a month depending on what’s going on here. You want me to find him and give him your address?”
“Please, if you can. The family’s from Ireland. Wish I could give you more.”
“Don’t worry. It’s going to be a lot easier on Earth than you trying to do it from Babylon 5. It’s going to take weeks to update the records… What’s his name?”
“Peter. Peter Riordan. He’s only a bit older than I am, if my tree’s right.”
He watched as she scrambled around, and after a bit produced paper and then a pen. She spelled it out as she wrote it, “P-e-t-e-r R-i-o-r-d-a-n.”
Billy nodded. “Appreciate it.”
He hesitated. “I’ll let you go. Look like you need to try to sleep.”
“In theory, but practice…?” Kim chuckled, “Really, I’m fine. I just got here from a training session — never stops around here, you know. But I think I’ll try for a bit.”
Billy’s mouth quirked. “What I said.”
“And you. Pot calling the kettle black, as they say.” Her tone remained light, but it didn’t dim the honesty behind it. “I’ll let you know as soon as I can if I find anything.”
“Thank you,” he said sincerely. “Take care of yourself.”
“I will. You too.” Kim smiled, and lightly touched the screen before reaching down to close the link. For a moment Billy was able to mirror the illusionary contact in good-bye. As the logo replaced her image, he found himself glad that his thoughts — moreso his wishes — couldn’t be read across so much space.
(C) Copyright 1998 Alida Saxon and Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.