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Charlotte Matsumura

Setting the Standard

Setting the Standard

CDR Malcolm Alexander (NPC)

Sensei Ronin Matsumura (NPC)



Time in the field with a partner was somewhat akin to living with a roommate: Each operative learned the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the other, and either grew to hate him or her with the flaming passion of a thousand suns, or an unbreakable bond of friendship was formed. For Malcolm Alexander and former partner Ronin Matsumura, the latter was true. Mal considered himself lucky. Matsumura and his wife, Elisabeth, became something of a second family to him – an important cornerstone in his life when his own family seemed to desert him.


That time together and the resulting bond also meant that he had learned to read the fairly inscrutable Matsumura – no small feat in itself. That was why, as the two friends sat in a small café near the waterfront, Mal watched Ronin swirl the dregs of his tea in a petite cup. His lips were pursed, golden eyes narrowed; Mal could hear the wheels of thought grinding. He was just about sure he knew why.


"All right," the commander said finally, "I'll bite. When you're this quiet, you're either mad as hell or thinking too bloody much. Which is it this morning?"


Matsumura's lips twisted to a grimace, his eyes casting a glance at his old friend. "Perhaps a little of both," he replied. There was a brief pause as he visible considered his next words. "Charlotte says her orders had been...delayed...for eighteen months."


Mal nodded. "So I'd heard."


"So I remember a time when our orders were...delayed... for eighteen months."


Alexander considered his own cup. Calm as he may have been under the aim of a disruptor, he dared not look his friend in the eye. "You think she's been recruited, then?"


"Strongly suspect." There was a pause. "But you knew."


"Knew?" Mal echoed, and Ronin nodded. There was a bitterness there Mal recognized, a bite to his friend's tone he had not heard for over twenty years. The last time it had crept into conversation had been as his friend struggled with the very real possibility of medical retirement. To hear it applied now, to the possibility of his daughter joining Fleet Intelligence, wasn't surprising. "No. I suspected Roane would approach her, but I had no way of knowing."


Matsumura narrowed his eyes, fingers tightening visibly around his teacup. "But you didn't try to stop him; to talk to her."


"Not to put too fine a point on it, Ronin, but she's an adult. Much as you – or I – would like to protect her, she's capable of making her own decisions." He sipped his tea and grimaced. It was cold. "You made the same decision once, and for very similar reasons. Would you really expect Charlotte to do any less?"


Rubbing his right hand absently over his clean-shaven head, Matsumura grunted his response. His brow furrowed and he frowned into his tea. "The reality of the field was...different than we expected."


"And you had ample opportunity to leave before you did, old friend; we both did. Yet we stayed. Why?"


"I...wasn't sure at first. But I came to realize it was a necessary job, one that needed to be done." He gave a snort of sarcastic laughter. "And I was good at it."


Mal studied his friend's expression, noted the concern in eyes that usually masked emotion so well. "She will be, too -- you do realize that?"


"She will be magnificent," Ronin replied.


An impish grin played across the other man's lips and Mal chuckled. "Magnificent? As a rook, I'd simply hope for good, possibly excellent – both of which require living through the experience."


Matsumura grinned over the rim of his cup. "She's my daughter. She will be magnificent."


Mal smirked. "As you say. And, as much as I enjoy seeing you in Father Bear mode, I have a meeting with Clark in a few hours. I should train for a while...possibly work out some of the aggression early."


His friend's grin widened. "Good. You can find out where he's sending her."


"You're not at all interested in what corner of the galaxy they'll banish me to?" Alexander regarded Ronin with brows raised.


"At the moment? No."


"Fine," Mal said with a resigned sigh. "I'll pump the bastard for information. On one condition."


"And that is...?"


"You don't beat the hell out of me. The last takedown on Monday bloody well *hurt*."


With a laugh, Matsumura clapped Mal on the injured shoulder. The commander winced. "Getting soft in your old age, Malcolm," he said. Tossing his napkin onto the table, he continued smirking, and headed for the door.


Mal sighed. His napkin joined Matsumura's on the table. "You have no idea, old friend." He followed the taller man into the world outside.



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