"Sir?" he asked. "If I may?" Even though he was a junior officer making a request of a rear admiral he spoke with confidence; there was no hesitation in his voice.
Grissom scowled before nodding at him to continue. The file showed Anderson had been born and raised in London, but he had almost no discernible regional accent. His generic dialect was likely the product of cross-cultural exposure through e-schooling and the info nets combined with a steady barrage of panglobal entertainment vids and music.
"I just want to tell you what an honor it is meeting you in person, Admiral," the young man informed him. He wasn't gushing or fawning, for which Grissom was grateful; he simply stated it as a matter of fact. "I remember seeing you on the news after the Charon expedition when I was only twelve. That's when I decided I wanted to join the Alliance."
"Are you trying to make me feel old, son?"
Anderson started to smile, thinking it was a joke. But the smile withered under Grissom's glare. "No, sir," he replied, his voice still sure and strong. "I only meant you're an inspiration to us all."
He'd expected the lieutenant to stutter and stammer out some kind of apology, but Anderson wasn't so easily rattled. Grissom made a quick note in his file.
"I see it says here you're married, Lieutenant."
"Yes, sir. She's a civilian. Lives back on Earth."
"I was married to a civilian," Grissom told him. "We had a daughter. I haven't seen her in twelve years."
Anderson was momentarily thrown off balance by the unexpected personal disclosure. "I...I'm sorry, sir."
"It's hell keeping a marriage together when you're in the service," Grissom warned him. "You don't think worrying about a wife back on Earth is going to make it harder when you're out on a six-month tour?"
"Might make it easier, sir," Anderson countered. "It's nice to know I've got someone back home waiting for me."
There was no hint of anger in the young man's voice, but it was clear he wasn't going to be intimidated, even when speaking to a rear admiral. Grissom nodded and made another note in the file.
"Do you know why I scheduled this meeting, Lieutenant?" he asked.