Mixed Signals, Pt. 1 - Matsumura

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Mixed Signals, Pt. 1 - Matsumura

Postby Red » Fri May 12, 2006 12:43 pm

Reaching with one hand to ring the door chime, and smoothing down her hair with the other, Charlotte Matsumura paused on the doorstep to Malcolm Alexander’s family home. After weeks of hearing the steady thrum of environmental systems and propulsion plants, it was incredibly quiet there. It’s also incredibly dark, she thought, noting the extinguished lamps on either side of the massive, carved doors. Am I late?

The doors parted after a long moment, revealing an older man in a black and white suit. “May I help you?” he asked.

His eyes scanned her attire with a critical eye, and Charlotte straightened. “I am here to see Lord Alexander,” she answered. If there was a hint of upper class accent creeping into her voice, she really couldn’t help that. It simply happened when she was annoyed. “He is expecting me.”

The butler stepped aside and allowed Charlotte entrance. He closed the door behind her. “And whom shall I say has arrived?”

“Charlotte Matsumura.”

This, at last, seemed to strike some memory for the old boy and he offered a slight smile. “Of course, Miss Matsumura,” he said. “His Lordship is still preparing for the dinner party. Would you care to wait in the study?”

“That would be lovely. Thank you.” Charlotte forced a smile. Okay, so I’m really early...

No words passed between them as the older man led Charlotte to Mal’s study. It was the typical English affair, complete with fireplace, polished wood floors, Oriental rugs, and countless leather-bound volumes lining ceiling-high shelves. Once she was safely inside, the butler turned to exit. As he did, however, Alexander burst into the room. His hands were at his throat, fingers trying to manage a tie, as he wandered the house in his white shirt and dress slacks.

He blinked. “Ah, hallo, Charlotte.”

Charlotte chuckled. She’d only ever seen Malcolm on his terms – casual attire, visiting her parents’ home, or in full ‘Fleet regalia as her boss. This was the first time she’d seen him flustered in his “lord of the manor” mode. She gave a courteous nod. “My Lord,” she said. An impish gleam danced in her eyes.

…to which Malcolm narrowed his own. “That’s quite enough of that, Charlotte. There will be enough people here, brown nosing and seeking to curry favor, that using my title will be the last thing I need from you. Malcolm works very well, and if you really must address me by title, at least call me ‘admiral’.”

“Understood…Admiral.”

Satsified, Malcolm turned to the butler. “Chapman, please advise cook that we’ll be one less at dinner. It seems Dame Judith has come down with another one of her mysterious ailments.”

“Of course, My Lord.” The brief hint of amusement in his eyes, shared with his patron, was gone in a blink. “I will pass the message on.” He paused, bowing slightly to Charlotte. “Pardon me, miss.” He then backed silently out of the room.

The doors closed and Alexander returned his attention to Charlotte. She fought a blush as his eyes swept over the black cheongsam dress, approval apparent. “You look...stunning,” he said.

“Thank you…sir.” She swallowed. “You look, ah, a touch under dressed.”

“Bloody last minute cancellations,” he said, his voice almost a growl. His fingers resumed action on his tie, though they found no conclusion. “And bloody ties! Why can’t they go out of style and stay there?”

Charlotte chuckled, but crossed to him, placing her purse in a nearby chair. She reached up and took control of the tie, swatting his hands away. “Because like everything else in our lives, Admiral, fashion runs in cycles.” There was a moment of silence as she deftly tied the black silk into a near-perfect double Windsor.

“Unfortunately for you,” she continued, “they just happen to be in style again.”

The admiral smiled down at her as he smoothed his hands down the length of the tie. “Yes, but fortunately for me, you were here early and know how to tie one of the bloody things. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She paused. “Does this mean I have to attend all your parties now, to make sure you’re properly dressed?”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Charlotte wanted to cringe. Old family friend or no, it was no way to address a senior officer in her chain of command. And, dear God, she thought hastily, am I actually flirting with Mal? Her tone and the accompanying grin certainly seemed to indicate so. Oh, for a rock to crawl under!

For his part, Malcolm paused, looking at her. His eyes twinkled with humor – he clearly took her meaning as a joke and not an insult. But mingled with the amusement was something else; it was as though he were confused, as though he were seeing her for the first time. This mix lasted only for a heartbeat, and was then gone; there was only humor left. He laughed aloud. “Yes, well, that would definitely set the gossips atwitter,” he said.

Charlotte gave a taut smile, still trying to get a grip on the whirling mass of emotions inside. “It wouldn’t be the first time, she said, deliberately keeping her tone light.

Mal gave a snort of laughter. “No, I don’t suppose it would be.” A rueful grin curved his lips as he paused a beat. “I apologize for dragging you into this… I thought this might be a bit more comfortable than headquarters.”

It was Charlotte’s turn to give the wry grin. “Yes, well, aside from the two dozen nobles between you and I, I should be quite comfortable.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that too much.” Alexander glanced at a nearby mirror, checking the job she had done on his tie. Charlotte wasn’t sure she appreciated at all the mischievous gleam in his eyes as he looked back to her. “I’ve taken care of everything.”

***
MCAPT Katja Romany
USS Daystrom
=/\=
LCDR Charlotte Matsumura
Starfleet Intelligence
USS Phoenix

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