Title: Music

Author: Kylie Lee

Author's E-mail: KylieLee1000@hotmail.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/kylielee1000/

Date posted: July 29, 2002

Length: ~5500 words

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Pairing: Reed/Mayweather

Type: M/M slash

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Reed and Mayweather go dancing. They have quite a lot of naughty fun on the dance floor.

Feedback: Yes, please

Disclaimer: Original material copyright 2002 Kylie Lee. Characters are Paramount's. They own it all. No money changed hands.

Series: Under the Disco Ball

Next story: Vodka on the Rocks

Archive: EntSTSlash, Archers_Enterprise

Comments: The title rationales are as follows: the first fics' titles are parallel notions based on the Prince song ("Dance, Music, Sex, Romance"). The second fics' titles are the name of a drink. The third and final fics' titles really begin with the word "Caught": thus, "Caught…between a rock and a hard place." Thanks to Kim, the Grrrl, and Kipli for beta-y comments. Dedicated to Kipli on the occasion of her birthday!

The low thrum of music was audible even on the lower level. Mayweather found himself tapping a leg in time to the music, swaying his shoulders side to side. This was his idea of a good time: hanging out. No, no more highly structured shore leave for him. He'd tried that last time and it hadn't worked out. He sipped his drink, which was nice and strong, and decided he liked it here. It was just as cosmopolitan as Risa, he thought, even if it was more industrial and less bucolic than that pleasure planet. Tonight: dancing, then dinner, in that order. Tomorrow: who knew?

Instead of splitting up during shore leave, like they had on Risa, the bridge crew had decided to hang out. T'Pol was on board *Enterprise,* running things, and *Enterprise* was away on a survey mission that had the scientists salivating but left nobody else with much to do. Tucker had suggested shore leave on this very planet, which was near the survey site, and apparently, he'd had no trouble talking T'Pol into talking Archer into it, although she'd had more work getting Archer to come along. Mayweather had run them all down the day before in a shuttle.

The dance floor was on the upper level, tables and dining on the lower level. Archer, Reed, Mayweather, and Sato were holding down a table on the lower level. If they left the table alone for even a second, one of the hovering crowd would descend on it, as they themselves had done to nab the table—they had only gotten it thanks to Sato's aggression and a well-placed elbow—and then they'd have to wait for another half-hour. Tucker was around somewhere; he'd gone off to use the lavatory about ten minutes ago but hadn't come back. Nobody seemed worried.

"Want to dance?" Mayweather asked Sato, drumming his hands on the table, swaying to the music.

Sato, who was sipping a drink as he spoke to her, raised her eyebrows over the fruit. "No thanks," she responded. "I'm hungry. Maybe after I eat something."


"You're asking me to dance, Travis?" Archer said, surprised.

"You and the rest of the table, sir," Mayweather said, smiling at his superior officer.

"No, thanks, I'll keep Hoshi company. I'm hungry too. Plus we waited too long for this table. I don't want to risk losing it."

"Malcolm?" Mayweather turned to the man sitting to his right.

"I'm your last choice?" Reed said, voice outraged, smiling to show he was kidding. He sipped an incongruous fruity drink, a twin to Sato's, then frowned at it. "I thought we were friends. How long have we known each other? Don't I rate being asked first?"

"Whine, whine, whine. Come on. I know you like to dance."

"Do you, Malcolm?" said Archer, surprised.

"Captain, you've seen me dance," Reed said. "Remember? At the party Crewman Cutler threw to celebrate our first contact with nonexistent rock aliens?"

"Oh, I remember that party," Sato exclaimed, her tone of voice implying that it had been some party.

"Was I there?" Archer asked.

"I thought you were," Sato said. "I'm pretty sure you danced with me. And I danced with Malcolm, too. You probably had some of that punch; that's why you don't remember. It was kind of…strong."

"Well, I just figured that Malcolm wasn't the kind of guy to really cut loose on the dance floor, is all," Archer defended himself.

"Just because he's focused at work doesn't mean the man doesn't know how to have a good time," Mayweather said.

"Thank you, Travis," Reed said, tone ironic. "But I can defend myself."

"Malcolm and I used to go out dancing with friends in San Francisco, before we got posted to *Enterprise,*" Mayweather volunteered. "I guess we don't have so many opportunities for night life on board ship. I'm planning on remedying that tonight." He turned back to Reed. "Come on, already. Do you want to dance or what?" Mayweather stood up, smiled winningly at the dark-haired armory officer, and held out a hand expectantly.

Reed sighed, took Mayweather's hand, and let Mayweather haul him to his feet. "I can deny you nothing, Travis. Captain, Hoshi, are you sure you don't want to join us?" Mayweather felt Reed squeeze his hand before he released it. "You could see that in fact, I do dance."

"I require no proof," Archer said. "Your word is your bond."

Reed laughed. "It certainly is. See you later, then."

"If Commander Tucker turns up, send him over," Archer called after them as they turned to leave. "Although he's probably found some girl. We won't see him for the rest of the night."

"Will do," Mayweather said. "Come on, Malcolm." They headed off, and as soon as they turned the corner and began mounting the stairs to the upper level, Mayweather draped his arm around Reed's shoulders. "See, that wasn't so bad," he said encouragingly to Reed as they ascended. "Now we've got ourselves some time alone."

Reed slid his arm around Mayweather's waist in return. "We could ditch them and head back to my hotel room," he said hopefully.

"Malcolm. That would be wrong." Mayweather squeezed Reed against his side. "It's only the first full day of shore leave. We can ditch them on day three, but not a second before that. I don't want to piss 'em off too early on in the game."

"Ensign, have I told you today how very, very nice you look?" Reed paused on the landing. They wouldn't be able to hear each other once they got upstairs. Mayweather steered Reed over to one side so the people behind them could get upstairs, and Reed grabbed the belt loops of Mayweather's jeans and pulled him close. "How on earth did you get those on? Or are they special spray-on trousers?"

Mayweather chuckled. "I had to lie on the floor and suck it in before I could zip 'em up," he confessed. In addition to his skin-tight jeans, he was wearing a long-sleeved silky white button-down shirt that set off his dark skin. "Lieutenant, you don't look too bad yourself." Reed was wearing black trousers that looked suspiciously like leather and a tight blue T-shirt; he'd left his light jacket downstairs at the table, draped over a chair. Mayweather leaned down and briefly kissed Reed, pulling Reed's hips to his. "Come on. Let's you and me get to dancing."

As Mayweather led Reed onto the crowded dance floor, the music struck them almost physically. It pulsed, impossibly loud, impossibly rhythmic, dancers swaying and jerking in time: couples, groups, a few lone men or women making the rounds of the dance floor. It was insanely crowded. He couldn't move without jostling somebody. Servers who were apparently adept at reading lips circulated, ensuring that alcohol and other intoxicants kept flowing. Mayweather found he was smiling. He loved to dance. And with music, atmosphere, and a mighty attractive man—he was in for a good time tonight. He took a quick look around and noticed that states of dress and touching were remarkably flexible. Several women appeared to be wearing nothing but body paint, and—were those four men doing what he thought they were doing?

Reed tugged his hand and pulled him closer to the center of the floor, which was made of some kind of frosted red, slightly translucent surface that emitted a faint glow; weird shadows were cast on people's faces because a light source was under their feet, adding to the sense of exotic unreality. Mayweather gave himself in to the music. The dancing was freestyle, and the other dancers were almost as much fun to look at as it was fun to look at Reed. The lights strobed and flashed, so people appeared to flicker, although mostly it was just dark and crowded. It was psychedelic and confusing and wonderful. He was totally anonymous, totally lost in the crowd writhing in time to the music. He couldn't tell if the instrumental music was one incredibly long piece or if song after song was playing, linked only by the beat.

After what seemed an eternity on the dance floor, but what was probably about fifteen minutes, he felt that beat slow slightly. On Earth, that was usually a signal for people to head for the bar. Here, it didn't seem to make an appreciable difference. Reed, responding to the slowing of the tempo, reached out a hand and pulled Mayweather in. Mayweather, breathing hard, let himself be pulled. Reed's body felt compact and hot next to his; they were both sweating from exertion. Mayweather put his arms around Reed and breathed in his scent: a faint spiciness mixed with the salt of perspiration. His arms tightened involuntarily, and Reed turned up his face and smiled at him, his hands coming to rest on Mayweather's hips. Mayweather ground his hips against Reed's and felt a stirring in his groin that resolved itself into a pleasurable hard-on. Reed, eyes meeting his, smiled. One of Reed's hands wandered around to his ass and settled there. After a moment or two, Reed increased the pressure.

Feet moving in time to the music, bodies pressed together, eyes locked, Reed's hand on his ass, Mayweather leaned down and captured Reed's mouth. Their tongues slowly swirled together in a dance of their own. Reed tasted like fruit—the drink he had left behind on the table, Mayweather realized, one that matched Sato's. It was probably the last time Reed would let her order a drink for him. Reed rubbed his erection against Mayweather, and Mayweather deepened the kiss. Reed responded almost desperately, tongue and mouth hard on his, body pushing against his as they continued swaying to the music.

Mayweather felt a hard pulse through his groin and realized he had better back off before they started something out here in public they couldn't finish. He drew his head back and set his forehead against Reed's. They were both panting. Reed's eyes looked dark in the flickering light, his pupils huge with arousal. Mayweather took in the sight of his lover, incredibly excited and unable to do anything about it, Reed's slight, muscular body singing with pent-up sexual tension inside clothing that was definitely, definitely too damn tight. Reed's hands slid up Mayweather's back and settled there demurely, and Reed turned his head and set a cheek against Mayweather's shoulder. Mayweather brushed Reed's hair with his lips as he drew him close. Their groins brushed together, less insistently now.

Mayweather took the opportunity to check out some of the other dancers. Despite the huge number of people on the floor, he and Reed weren't the only ones using the crowded darkness for some intimate touching—not by a long shot. He took in the sight of two women dancing together, the back of one pushed into the front of the other. The woman behind had one hand between her partner's legs, pressing into skin-tight leggings, and the other was on a bare breast. Her chin rested on her partner's shoulder. Their eyes were shut, and they swayed together seductively, hips swaying, clearly completely focused on each other, their world reduced to touch. And that couple there—wow. Mayweather's eyebrows rose. The woman had her legs around the hips of her partner, a man, whose hands were supporting her by her ass as she rocked back and forth against him. She was wearing a skirt, so he couldn't see exactly what they were up to, but he was pretty sure he knew.

He felt his cock leap at the erotic sight of the intimacy all around him. He felt the thrum of the music deep inside as it sped back up. The music, not his heart, was driving his blood now, pulsing it through his body in great surges. He released Reed, and both of them found the beat of the music, losing themselves in it, in the gaze of the other. He loved to watch Reed dance. They had gone out dancing a lot in San Francisco, as Mayweather had told Archer and Sato, but it was usually just the two of them, not always with friends. Mayweather watched the play of Reed's muscles in the strobing, red-and-blue light as Reed's arms rose and fell until he couldn't bear it any more, and then he put his hands on Reed's hips and pulled him in, kissing him hard. Reed matched his intensity, then put one hand on Mayweather's chest, on the bare skin revealed by his shirt, pushed himself back, met his eyes, and, laughing, shook his head. "No," he was saying.

"Yes," Mayweather told him, pulling him in again. Reed was warm and hard. He intensified the kiss, and when Reed tried to pull back, Mayweather, smiling, wouldn't let him. He played Reed with his body and his mouth, escalating the length and intensity of his kisses and strokes, until Reed stopped pulling away. The music was linking them, bridging any gaps between them, the bass beat pounding hard up through Mayweather's feet into his stomach. He knew Reed felt it too. The bass beat was simply the articulation of their desire for each other.

He brushed a hand against the ridge of Reed's cock, as if by accident, once, twice. The third time, Reed grabbed his hand and pressed it into his groin for a long moment before releasing his hand, calling him on it. When Reed let his hand go, Mayweather didn't move his hand away. Instead, he slid around behind Reed so that they were in the same position he'd seen the women in earlier: Reed's back pressed against his front. He kept his hand on Reed's crotch and pulled Reed against his body, exaggerating the side-to-side movements of his hips as he danced, rubbing his throbbing cock against Reed's ass while stroking Reed's bulge hard. He kept this up until Reed reached down and covered Mayweather's hand with his own, both hands pressing into his erection. Reed was hot and ready. He wasn't in a position to push Reed onto his hands and knees and slide into him, so he'd just have to do the next best thing.

He moved so he and Reed were face to face, then placed one leg between Reed's and pulled Reed up along it until the hard ridge of Reed's erection pushed against his hipbone. He steadied Reed with one hand while the other massaged Reed's ass. Then, in time to the music, he pressed Reed into him, over and over again. One of Reed's hands grabbed a belt loop and held on. The other untucked part of Mayweather's shirt and slid a hand up underneath, pressing flat against Mayweather's bare chest. Reed threw his head back and swayed it back and forth in time to the music, in time to Mayweather's hand, thrusting against Mayweather's leg and body, hand pushing hard against his bare skin. Mayweather was barely aware of the other dancers crushed around them. The world was Reed's tight, compact body, pleasuring itself against him.

Then that body was pushing harder into him, desperate, the ridge of Reed's cock demanding. Mayweather increased the pressure of the hand on Reed's ass, changed the angle so instead of pushing into Reed's ass, he pushed under an ass cheek and up, hard and rhythmic, driving Reed's erection against him. The music, impossibly, became even louder, but no one could hear Reed's cry as he came. Mayweather didn't relent, keeping the tempo of their movements exactly in time with the music. Reed rode his leg, head thrown back, and he climaxed, long and hard. The ecstasy on his face mirrored the ecstasy he saw in the eyes of the people around him as they abandoned themselves to the music. Mayweather kept Reed pressed against him when Reed's body grew heavy, kept moving. All around him, he saw people leaning down for kisses, hands groping, bodies rubbing. Mayweather thought maybe the music was making them all catch fire—but there were plenty of people just dancing. He was just focusing on the ones doing what he and Reed were doing.

Reed's eyes opened, and Mayweather leaned down and plundered Reed's mouth with his. Watching Reed come like that, wanton and abandoned, in public, had made him breathless and harder than ever. The captain had thought that Reed dancing was out of character; Mayweather knew better than that, but he hadn't imagined that the dark anonymity of the dance floor would permit Reed to go quite this far. He pulled back and smiled down at Reed. He liked it when Reed surprised him. Reed was gasping for air but had found his feet. Mayweather wished he could see Reed's eyes, but the light was too poor. He imagined them as they looked in bed, after Reed came, gray-blue and dazed with pleasure.

The thought of what Reed's eyes looked like right this second galvanized him. He tried to hold back, to let Reed recover his breath, but his heart was pounding, and Reed was too near. He kissed Reed deeply, hands coming around to stroke Reed's jawline, then bury themselves in Reed's hair as he lost himself in Reed's heat. Then he drew his mouth back and gasped, clutching Reed tight, pushing his erection against Reed's body. Reed's body was winding down as Mayweather's wound up, but connecting them was the beat of the music.

Mayweather was just about to suggest that they go ahead and ditch everybody after all, go back to Reed's hotel room or find themselves a bathroom stall or an alley or someplace even remotely private, when he felt Reed's hands on the button of his fly. There was a slight release of pressure around his waist as Reed unbuttoned his jeans. Reed slid his hand down and gently, then more firmly, grasped Mayweather's cock through the thick fabric. Mayweather was throbbing. Reed pressed his body against Mayweather's, his hand still between them, stroking Mayweather's cock. He turned up his face, and Mayweather met him halfway. He melted into Reed, focusing on the sensation of the man teasing him.

Then Mayweather felt Reed's fingers against his bare stomach. They squirmed down into his jeans. He cursed their tightness; Reed couldn't fit his hand in and rub his hand up and down his shaft. Instead, Reed's fingertips lightly brushed the head of his cock. He felt his cock jerk, sending a pulse of pleasure through his body, and he pulled Reed tighter. He rubbed his groin against the hardness of Reed's body, and Reed managed to slide his hand in just a little further. His hand, between Mayweather's stomach and his cock, pushing hard because of the tightness of Mayweather's jeans, stroked down about a third of Mayweather's length.

"Oh, god, Malcolm," Mayweather said against Reed's mouth. Mayweather circled his ass in time to the music and pressed his groin against Reed. Reed's hand against his cock felt exquisite. Reed couldn't really move his hand freely, so he moved his fingers side to side. His palm was against the head of Mayweather's cock. Mayweather moaned. He felt stretched tight. "Just a little more," he said, knowing Reed couldn't hear him. "Just a little more."

Reed leaned up harder into Mayweather, and his free hand found Mayweather's ass. The hand thrust down Mayweather's jeans stroked down and up, focusing on the head of his cock. The music throbbed and Mayweather gasped. Reed's tongue inside his mouth, Reed's hand on his ass, Reed's hand down his trousers and on his cock. In public. Reed's two hands stroked in tandem as his mouth sucked hard on Mayweather's tongue, escalating the pressure, the pleasure. The rhythm Reed used was the rhythm of the music. The rhythm wouldn't stop. The rhythm went on and on and on, until Mayweather's body gave in to the heat, the pressure, the music, gave in to Reed. His cock pulsed, and only the music and Reed's body supported him as he fell into orgasm. He groaned low in the back of his throat, a primal sound, as he came against Reed's hand, his hips thrusting hard, his ass rotating, the pleasure looping up with the treble of the music.

When he opened his eyes, Reed was smiling up at him, a devilish smile. He leaned down and kissed Reed hard, circling his lover's body around in a tight spiral. Nobody was paying any attention to them; they were just another couple engrossed in each other. He felt Reed's hand move in his trousers. Reed slid his hand over to one side, then around further: Reed was wiping the come off against Mayweather's underwear, he realized. Reed withdrew his hand, wet with Mayweather's seed. Mayweather took care of the rest of the mess by bringing Reed's hand up to his lips and gently sucking Reed's fingers, one by one, finishing with licks and kisses along Reed's palm. Then he bent down and kissed Reed again, sharing the taste of himself with his lover. They clung together, hot and spent, occasionally exchanging kisses, hips moving in time to the music, arms wrapped around each other.

Mayweather knew that once he cooled down, he would become uncomfortable, his come growing sticky and cold on his underwear and skin, but in the heat of the dance floor, it felt okay. More than okay. In fact, he felt much, much better now that he had come. Watching Reed in his tight, casual clothing all day, unable to reach out and touch him because they were being professional, even though they were off duty—it had been a strain. He decided that next time they had shore leave, he'd stick with Reed and let the rest of the bridge crew fend for themselves. That way, he could reach out and pat Reed's ass whenever he felt like it. He still regretted going rock-climbing on Risa, and it wasn't just because he fell off that stupid cliff and then got sick. Reed had had a little adventure with Tucker that Mayweather was sincerely sorry he'd missed.

Mayweather tensed as he felt Reed's hands on his trousers again, then relaxed as Reed buttoned him back up. His shirt was still partially untucked, so Mayweather pulled it all the way out. Reed slid a hand under it and stroked his sweaty, bare back with his fingertips. He took Reed's other hand in his own and held it against his chest, as if they were slow dancing, pulling Reed's body close, and they swayed to the music. Reed's hand brushed the small of his back tenderly, and Mayweather was overcome with his feelings for the man. He brought up Reed's hand and kissed it, then returned it to his chest, Reed leaning into him, head on the taller man's shoulder. Reed's touch, his body, his scent, his voice, his accent—they all conspired to drive him insane. Luckily, the feeling was mutual.

He didn't know if his Boomer upbringing had made him susceptible to Reed or what: on board the cargo ship where he had grown up, personal space was scrupulously observed. Mayweather wasn't used to being touched casually, although his parents were fairly demonstrative with each other and with their kids. But there was a time and a place for that kind of nonsense, their actions said clearly. Accidental touching on board the cargo ship resulted in a muttered "sorry." At home, you needed permission, implied or stated, to touch someone, even someone you knew extremely well. The ship was just too small.

But with Reed, it was all about touch. That was how he had first become aware of Reed's interest in him, back on Earth, while he was finishing up his advanced piloting certification after graduating from Starfleet Academy: the casual touches on the shoulder, on the arm, so surprising and electric to him. Then the touch had lingered, and Reed had smiled at him, a question in his eyes, and Mayweather had smiled back, an answer. Then, a day or two later, alone, Reed had reached up and touched Mayweather's neck, fingers caressing, and then their lips touched gently, then harder, over and over again. There were other encounters like that one, until one day, alone in Reed's rooms in San Francisco after running into each other during a night out, it was their bodies that did the touching. Mayweather could remember the dance of their courtship, could remember every warm brush of skin against skin as they seduced each other, the pressure branded into his very soul.

He leaned down again and kissed Reed, a long, lingering kiss. When they came up for air, Reed pointed to the steps, clearly asking, "Should we go back down?" Mayweather nodded and released Reed, retaining only a hand so they wouldn't get separated in the crush. When he turned to start forcing his way through the crowd, Reed behind him, he bumped into a man standing there, and when he raised his eyes to the man's face to give an apology that wouldn't be heard anyway, he realized it was Commander Trip Tucker, who was wearing a ridiculously loud shirt and a woman on each arm. He was afraid his face betrayed his sudden panic. Good god. How long had Tucker been there?

When Mayweather didn't move, Reed came up beside him, tucking a shoulder under Mayweather's arm and leaning intimately into Mayweather's side. He looked around curiously, then smiled at Tucker. Mayweather was impressed. Damn, the man was cool. He didn't mind getting caught dancing with Reed, or cuddling with Reed, or kissing Reed, as long as they were off duty, but he didn't want to get caught getting his rocks off in public. Reed and Tucker exchanged hand signals, and Mayweather let himself be carried off as all three of them headed to the steps, Tucker leaving behind the two women.

"Where're the captain and Hoshi?" Tucker asked when he could make himself heard.

"They wanted something to eat," Reed shouted back helpfully. "Aren't they at the table?" They started down the steps.

"I don't know, I haven't been back there since I ran into my two new friends outside the bathroom." Archer had been right: Tucker had gotten sidetracked.

"Don't you want to introduce us to your friends?" Reed asked. His voice was too innocent. Mayweather hid a smile.

"No, that's okay. I think they're really more interested in each other," Tucker said. "But what about you guys? It looked like you were having a lot of, um, fun on the dance floor."

Mayweather couldn't tell whether that remark was barbed or not, so he tried to play it as cool as Reed. "Yeah, Malcolm's been known to set a dance floor or two on fire," he said, deliberately not answering any implied questions. "Do you want to find the captain and Hoshi? Get something to eat?"

"Sounds good to me," Tucker responded.

"I'll see you there in a few moments," Reed said. "I'd like to visit the lavatory." Ah, no doubt to clean up, Mayweather thought enviously, wishing he'd thought of it first. At the foot of the stairs, Reed went one way and he and Tucker went the other.

Once on the lower level, they didn't have to shout any more. Before Tucker could say anything, Mayweather leapt in. "How long were you watching us?"

Tucker looked surprised, then guarded. "I don't know. A while, I guess. I wasn't really paying that much attention. You—you didn't see me?"

Mayweather eyed Tucker. Tucker seemed embarrassed. Mayweather wondered if it wasn't just he and Reed who had gotten into the anonymity of the dance floor. A little mutual blackmail might be in order. "Yeah, well, it seemed you got really very interested in those girls."

Tucker flushed slightly. "Yes. And no." His voice sounded final. "You and Malcolm looked really engrossed in each other."

"Yep," Mayweather said. He smiled. There was a pause.

"How—how long have you been—" Tucker trailed off.

"Engrossed?" Mayweather said helpfully.

"Engrossed, yeah."

"About a year and a half."

"Oh," Tucker said, eyes blinking in surprise. "I had no idea. Is it a secret or anything?"

"No, not really," Mayweather said. "We're just discreet."

"Not on the dance floor you're not," Tucker said.

"How long did you say you were watching?" Mayweather asked.

"Long enough," Tucker replied. "How long did you say you were watching?"

Mayweather smiled. He let it come out feral. "Long enough." There was silence as Tucker and Mayweather sized the other up. "Commander, can we just call it even?" Mayweather asked at last.

Tucker looked relieved. "Let's do that, Ensign." They shook hands solemnly and headed for the table. Mayweather wondered if Tucker's sticky underwear was as uncomfortable as his.

"Where have you guys been?" Sato asked as they sat down. It looked as if she and Archer were half done with dinner. Sato's entrée looked delicious. "Where's Malcolm?"

"Malcolm's in the loo," Mayweather said, in his best British accent. "He'll be back in a tick."

Sato laughed. "Oh, I see Malcolm's not the only one who can do accents, love," she said in her high-class British voice, her linguist's ear allowing her to nail it.

Archer got into the fun, but he upped the ante: he went Scots. "Trip, old man, good to see you again. Did some fine lady sweep you up and carry you away, despite that hideous shirt?"

"Lucky shirt, Captain, and it worked," Tucker said, sticking with Southern. "Well, temporarily. Oh, hello, miss." This last was said with a smile to the server.

"May I have another?" Archer asked in his normal voice, raising his glass, while Tucker scanned the menu.

Mayweather ordered after Tucker did, then ordered something pasta-y with seafood for Reed. The desperate look he'd seen in Archer's eyes when he'd ordered another drink led him to believe that the server's presence had been far too infrequent.

"I can't believe your bravery," Sato said when the server had gone. "I ordered Malcolm's drink for him when he was using one of those machines to get money, and let's just say he was not amused."

"Malcolm's a warm beer kind of guy," Mayweather informed her. "Don't kid me. You ordered that drink just to see what he would do, didn't you?"

"You see through me. It was worth it, though."

"Did everyone have fun on the dance floor?" Archer asked.

The pause was just a little too long.

"Oh, yes, sir," Mayweather said, just as Tucker said, "Yes, Captain, you have no idea how much fun it was on that dance floor."

"Good," Archer said heartily, giving Tucker a sharp look that Tucker responded to with blandness. Mayweather was encouraged. Tucker would keep his mouth shut.

Mayweather felt a light touch on his shoulder, and he smiled and turned to face Reed as Reed slid into his chair. "I ordered you the nearest thing this place has got to pasta with seafood," he informed Reed.

"Lovely, Travis. Thanks."

It wasn't an exchange his colleagues hadn't seen a thousand times before. But now Tucker was looking from one to the other as though it all made sense. Mayweather met Tucker's eyes and winked. "Now, when we've all eaten, we're all going up to that dance floor," Mayweather informed the table in general. "I've got a move I think you'll really like, Hoshi, if you can keep up with me."

"What's so funny, Trip?" Archer demanded, as Tucker dissolved into laughter.

Tucker shook his head and straightened up. "Nothing," he said. "Nothing at all."

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