Rumor Mill - Blair/Matsumura/Alexander

Duty and Personal Logs from the Phoenix Crew.

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Rumor Mill - Blair/Matsumura/Alexander

Postby Red » Wed May 17, 2006 8:35 pm

Rumor Mill
LCDR Charlotte Matsumura
With guest, Professor Elisabeth Blair
...and NPC ADM Malcolm Alexander
***

Charlotte Matsumura stepped quietly into the hospital room, eyes fixed on the figure laying in the adjustable biobed. Her mother was looking considerably better these days -- still somewhat swollen, but the color was slowly returning to her cheeks. "Mom?" she said quietly.

The dark-haired head turned slightly, and Elisabeth Matsumura stirred from a light doze. Blinking twice, she realized that she was not hearing things. "Lottie..." Her voice sounded slightly weaker than she would have liked, but she had been sleeping and it was more from that, than anything else. Still, a smile spread across her features, albeit a somewhat careful one to keep from aggravating a swollen lip. "It is so good to see you. I...I’ve missed you." It was her way of saying she had been worried without really using the word worried.

Returning the smile, Lottie eased into the room, crossing and taking the empty seat nearest the bed. She felt her own sense of relief -- some of it for her mother's smile, some for having missed the elder woman and simply being glad to see her. "You're looking good."

"I still feel as if...I must look better than I feel." Liz' hand twitched slightly upon the blanket; some of the lingering neurological difficulties included unexpected muscle spasms in her right hand. Carefully she smoothed her palm over the blanket; glad that her legs were covered. Despite the matter of factness of modern medicine, she knew her legs were still not...particularly aesthetic as yet. She looked at her daughter with the sort of anxious pride that only a mother of a military officer could have.

Charlotte gave something of a lopsided grin, even as she cringed inwardly. Her mother spoke slowly, concentrating on her pronunciation. It would take some time, it appeared, for all the swelling to go down. Her gaze drifted down, eventually landing on the small PADD which lay on the bedside table. She frowned as she saw the local gossip sheets had been downloaded onto the color screen. "Oh, Mum," she said. "Please tell me you've not stooped to reading this...tripe." She picked up the PADD and watched her mother's reaction with an amused twinkle.

Elisabeth simply raised her eyebrows, saying nothing at first, before replying--with a very similar twinkle--"Desperate circumstances require desperate measures, love." She shifted very carefully. "I have been waiting on your father to bring me something more...educational to read." 'Educational' usually meant a real book, with real pages, something her mother loved to do. "However I have found it...somewhat entertaining." The raised eyebrows dropped a bit, but a more curious look replaced the twinkle. "The rags are all abuzz about a dinner party over at Mal’s."

Charlotte nearly choked. As evenly as she could manage, she replied, "Is that so?" Her eyes glanced to the offending story, displayed on the screen.

"Yes, it seems that ‘Lord Alexander’ has a secret lover." Elisabeth summed up, pressing a button and handing it back to Charlotte. "There are rumors of a hidden wedding, all sorts of rubbish." She glanced at her daughter, her eyes narrowing. "Are you all right, Lottie? You seem a little pale...When was the last time you got any sleep?"

"Oh, I'm fine, Mum," Lottie answered. She scrolled through the column, seeing what had been reported. Her tone was a little distracted as she read. "It's just been a busy few days, meeting with Mal, my team...pouring through some briefs."
She looked up at her mother. "I, ah, don't suppose they said where they got some of this information? It doesn't say a lot here, other than she was a commoner."

Elisabeth frowned just slightly; that was a slightly unusual question for the circumstances. "Well...I don't recall...I do think one of writers was actually at the party..." Her eyes widened briefly. "One of the articles spoke of the commoner as...'an Asian beauty.'" She lifted her eyebrows again, this time in surprise. "Charlotte is there something to this?" There was a knowing--but gentle--tone in her voice.

“Only in that I'm the 'commoner,'" Charlotte replied. She grimaced. "Mal invited me over to discuss some aspects of a case we're currently investigating. When he did... Well, he's just say that I was seated at his left hand, and not at the end of the table." She shook her head. "I've no idea where the 'secret marriage' comes in. Though, I suppose we were alone for five minutes. Perhaps it happened then?"

That garnered a soft snort. "Not likely, unless you managed to squeeze in a honeymoon when no one was looking." Elisabeth replied cheekily, but then her expression softened. "Be careful, Lottie," she said softly. "These are just rags, but sometimes people pay attention to them." She sighed. "What on earth was he thinking? He should have known that would be taken out of proportion." She looked at Lottie curiously. "It is being taken out of proportion, right?" It wasn't that she disbelieved her daughter; she was simply protective.

"Hm?" Lottie looked up from the PADD. "Completely out of proportion...and context. I mean, I *did* dance with him, but there was nothing beyond that." At least in view of anyone else...

"Well, as I don’t see a ring on your finger, I am inclined to believe my daughter over a gossip rag." Her eyes sparkled a little teasingly. "Just be careful." She reiterated. "After all, he’s still your commanding officer. And old enough to be your father!" Elisabeth chuckled slightly, until a little residual soreness reminded her to slow down, and she winced, then smiled, again cautiously.

"I know, Mum. I know." Inwardly, Charlotte shook her head. Did she ever know! That was the source of her sleepless nights, and definitely of her discomfort at that exact moment as memories of her moment on the balcony with Mal played through her mind's eye once again. After their discussion the next morning at her flat, she wasn't yet sure what might happen the next time she saw him.
...Or, moreover, what might happen the next time they found a few moments alone.

"Besides, do you think he has time for a relationship, as busy as his job keeps him?" She forced a smile, hoping it appeared geniune. "You have upstarts like me constantly stirring up trouble."

Elisabeth's smile broadened impulsively, followed by a slight wince as once again, it gained her a split lip. "I will be so glad when that stops happening." She shook her head and fingered the tiny cut briefly. After that, she simply held out her hand to Charlotte. "It is so good to see you, love." Elisabeth knew that she had to let it go for now and trust Charlotte to make the right choices. Even when she, as a mother, worried. "That job keeps you both busy, it seems." She said carefully, not wishing to tread on her daughter's toes. "I hardly think anyone regards you as an upstart. Not when you reach your level of command." There was warm pride in the latter statement.

Charlotte slipped her hand into her mother's and squeezed gently. "You'd be surprised," she replied. She offered a smile. "And it really is wonderful to see you. I was...so scared before." Shaking her head, she swallowed, and her smile was fragile. "I've never seen you so weak before, Mum."

"I had you." Elisabeth said firmly. "And your father. Here." She drew Charlotte's hand closer, near to her heart. As she did so, her hand spasmed again, briefly tightening her hold on Charlotte's fingers. "I'm sorry, Lottie. Doctor Callander still isn’t certain why the nerves in my hand are still doing that; they haven’t found any serious damage in my arm or hand itself. There are still some mysteries to us after all, I suppose."

She brought her daughter's fingers up to her cheek briefly before looking at her daughter fully in the eye. "You must promise me something, love."

Charlotte looked to her mother, brows knitting. "What?"

Elisabeth placed her other hand over top of the one she held. "Stop blaming yourself." She said matter-of-factly. At her daughter's startled expression, she simply nodded. "Of course I knew." She said, again practically yet soothingly. "Why else would you work yourself to death and be unable to visit me but twice? You think this is your fault."

Her eyes dropped to the blankets now covering her mother's legs. She'd never liked medical centers much -- especially as much as she saw them in her line of work -- and the fact that her mother had been here for weeks had not helped that particular phobia. That, combined with her own guilt *had* meant she'd only seen her mother twice now. But they were working on it; they were closer now than they had been that first, miserable afternoon.

"Lottie, love." Elisabeth's voice softened in that manner that only a mother had. "You did not do this to me. Your responsibilities did not do this to me. Blind hatred and revenge did this to me. I do not blame you. Please, do not blame yourself." She noticed the anxious look Charlotte cast to her legs, and she realized her own self-consciousness had kept her from letting her daughter see the truth. Slowly, she pulled the blanket back.

The legs were no longer the shapely, comely things that had caught her father's attention and still had. The damage had been extensive enough that despite modern advances there were still scars -- and then there were the neuro-stimulators that continued to help her while the nerve surgeries were taking place. "They want me to get up and walk for short distances every few hours." She said softly. "Would you take a walk with me to the end of the hall, Lottie?"

Charlotte swallowed, forcing herself to look at her mother. Rage began to burn once again beneath the surface. How could she have forgotten? How could she have detatched herself so much that she didn't feel *this* any more? Her eyes were a blaze with affection and that suppressed anger as she offered a geniune smile to Liz. "I'd love to, Mum."

That was more like it. Fire, like her father. Not guilt. Elisabeth held out one hand, using the other to shift about. Her legs were still very...stiff, and did not always respond properly to the stimulators. Sometimes she felt as if she was wielding a pair of tree limbs instead of appendages. Two more surgeries had been scheduled to attempt further nerve repair, but she did not speak of that now. Neither did she speak of the fact that her next 'walk' was not for another hour or so. This was more important.

Lottie grasped her mother's outstretched hand firmly. "Lean on me, Mama. Unless you're feeling ambitious, we'll just do a lap around the room." Given the extensive damage, the idea of her mother trying too hard, trying to fast, made her more than a little nervous.

"The hardest part is always getting up." Elisabeth said as cheerily as she could, as her feet at last reached the floor. She forced her expression to remain relaxed; she still felt phantom pains and sometimes rather intensely, straight up her back. But with Charlotte's aid, she managed to push up from the bed and stand upright. "It takes a little getting used to...actually feeling each impulse." The pulses from the stimulators did not quite completely mimic actual nerves; often Elisabeth was aware of when each unit "fired."
Stiffly, she took her first step, coordinating thought and movement, feeling Lottie tighten her grip anxiously.

"Easy, Mum," her daughter cautioned. "If you're not feeling up to it, don't push it. I want you well, not trying to run the Corps Marathon."

Elisabeth chuckled at that. "The Corps Marathon was never exactly a lifelong goal, love. A single lap will do." As long as it keeps you fighting. She thought to herelf. Allowing Charlotte to help, she took another step..and a third. By the fourth she was again used to the rhythm, and doing a little better. "So what did tear you away from your busy social schedule to come see me?" She teased lightly.

"Isn't it enough that I wanted to see my mother?"

Liz squeezed her daughter's hand, taking another shaky step. "If that's all it is, yes." She replied reassuringly. "I have the feeling, though, that you have something on your mind." She glanced at Charlotte. "I don’t mind that, either. It’s not a burden to talk to my daughter."

Lottie pursed her lips, narrowing her eyes in thought briefly. "Something's happened -- something I'm not quite so sure about yet," she began slowly.
"I'm not even sure I'm ready to talk about it, really."

Concern in her almond-shaped eyes, mingled with confusion, she looked at her mother. Silently, she implored her not to ask too many questions. Would it be enough to know that she would come to her, when the time was right?

Elisabeth recognized that look...and that tone. "Very well, love. We can talk about what is troubling you another time." She continued the slow walking, until her right leg abruptly gave out, and she stumbled awkwardly into Charlotte. Again, the right... That her right side seemed substantially weaker and less responsive than her left aggravated her greatly.

"Really, Elisabeth! Swooning already?"

"Over a nobleman? Please." Elisabeth replied tartly, but there was humor in her eyes, despite her knee refusing to cooperate and stay locked long enough to stand upright; she sagged again with a frustrated sigh against Charlotte.

Mal, humor lighting his eyes, rushed to support her weight on the opposite side. He looked to Charlotte. "We'll move her back to the bed."

He intertwined his fingers with Liz's as she leant heavily on he and Charlotte, and the two eased her back over to the bed. Once there, he shook out his hand. "Quite a grip, Liz," he said, then looked to Charlotte. "She takes after you."

Lottie shot him a warning glance, and hoped he was referring to the occasional sparring matches she, her father, and Mal engaged in. "It seems I get it from *both* sides."

Elisabeth might have pursued it a little further, except for the current phantom ache that she was attempting to suppress; she had just gotten done putting some fire back into her daughter; she did not intend to strip it away by making her feel guilty. In the end, she looked a little pale and was gripping the blanket tightly with her left hand; Mal knew her well enough and so did Lottie, to understand she was in some discomfort.

Charlotte watched her mother with a worried glance, frowning briefly before turning to the admiral. "In the neighborhood?" she asked.

Mal gave a nod, smiling slightly. "I was. I haven't been as attentive a friend as I could be, and thought I might stop by. I don't want to intrude again, however, so, I'll just --"

"You weren't intruding -- you're *not* intruding." Lottie winced, realizing she jumped in a little too quickly, a little to eagerly. “What I mean is that we're glad to see you...right, Mum?"

"Ri...Right." Elisabeth replied warily, feeling a subtle shift in dynamic that had not been there earlier. Was she imaginging things? She shook her head slightly to herself; it was good to see her friend. "I'm glad you decided to rectify your error, Mal." She said finally, despite her hand still wrapped tightly in the blanket.

"The least I could do." His eyes flitted briefly to Charlotte, his smile flickering, and then his gaze began casting about for another focus.
They landed on the PADD. "Oh, Liz! Not you, too!"

"I was bored." Liz defended herself coyly. "Besides it was rather provocative to read all about your romantic, secret wedding to an 'unnamed Asian beauty.'" She could not resist teasing her old friend, and besides that, it might draw the attention away from the worry she saw building in two sets of eyes. "I am all right." She finally gritted out. "They say the ghost pains will go away...eventually."

Charlotte lowered herself into her chair while Mal reached and dragged another chair to join them. He flopped inelegantly into it, shaking his head. "Really, dear professor, I thought you were above that." He gave a chuckle, then sobered. "And I am glad you're all right. Ronin said the surgeries have gone exceedingly well."

"Apparently better than expected, yes." There was finally a glimmer of frustration showing through, despite that famous British reserve. "But not well enough for them to remove the stimulators...yet...And you see how graceful it all is." Elisabeth waved toward the portion of the room where her knee had decided to be uncooperative. She huffed just a bit. "I want to tend my roses this spring...at this rate, they'll be wild."

"Not at all, Mum," her daughter assured her. "I've looked in on your roses, and they're doing just fine. And I think Papa can be trusted to look in on them from time to time."

Elisabeth managed a soft chuckle. "As long as he doesn't decide to prune them like those bonsai trees of his." She exhaled slowly as the ache eased and reluctantly admitted to herself that she should have waited before attempting to walk again. "It's taken me years to coax some of those bushes back." She glanced over at Mal once again. "Has there been any progress on finding out...who did this?" She motioned to her legs, now covered up once again.

The admiral nodded. "There has been," he replied. "Slow progress, but progress none the less." He glanced to Lottie. "I can't, however, discuss an ongoing operation."

Elisabeth nodded stiffly. She did understand that; she lived with it on a daily basis. But in this instance, it didn't mean she had to like it any better. "It's good you're moving forward." She acknowledged, before catching the glance between Mal and Lottie. "With the case." She amended lightly.

"Speaking of... I really should be getting back to the office." He stood, smiling down at Liz. "I'll stop in again this evening. Tell Ronin I'm sorry I missed him?"

"I will." Elisabeth promised, reaching up with her left hand. "Take care, Mal, love. Talk to you later, and ...thank you for stopping by."

"It's what friends are for. I'll see you this evening." Mal smiled, reaching down and patting her hand. "Charlotte, I --"

Lottie rose from her seat, smiling what she hoped was a geniune smile. Behind it, other emotions fought just below the surface. "I'll see you to the lift," she said. She looked to her mother. "Be right back, Mum."

"All right, Lottie." Elisabeth said softly, perhaps a bit more tired than she wished to admit. But she was glad for her daughter's visit. By the time the two had exited the room completely, her eyes had drifted closed.
MCAPT Katja Romany
USS Daystrom
=/\=
LCDR Charlotte Matsumura
Starfleet Intelligence
USS Phoenix

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Postby Adml Mansur » Wed May 17, 2006 9:55 pm

Is it just me, or is the temperature in here rising? :twisted:
Fleet Adml. Isa M. Mansur
Commanding Officer, SF RES Golden Eagle ARRV 580320

"If the sword shatters, take its fragments to the forge." ~~ Ancient Romulan Proverb
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