Title: Dressed to Kill

Author: MJ

E-mail: mjr91@aol.com

URL: http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/mj/

Date: 09/25/03

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Rating: Pretty much G

Summary: Officers, dress uniforms, problems on board ship, the usual. Humor.

Archive: ENTslash, coffeeslash, Archer's Enterprise, Reed's Armory

Author's Notes: Thanks to Kipli and Kyrdwyn for reviewing this and snickering. Thanks to Helyn for the "sex on a stick" line about this very idea and for her take on the denouement. Kipli, Kyr and I agree. And thanks to Brian for helping research the, er, fashions involved here, and for checking out family lines with me. This was based on some conversations I had over a year ago, discussing the possible ENT origins of a fondly-remembered TOS character's uniform habits.

The silence was deafening, but for the sound of a mug crashing to the mess hall floor. No one spoke, no one moved. Eyes were riveted. A more attentive observer might have seen jaws dropping around the mess hall along with forks and breakables, but Malcolm Reed didn't. He walked up to the drink dispenser in desperate need of caffeine and oblivious to the silent chaos around him as he placed his order. "Black tea, hot." Taking the mug he'd filled, he strolled out of the mess hall and towards the armory. There were still a few things he needed to do there before everything was finished.

Hoshi Sato turned sharply to Liz Cutler in his wake. "My God."

"Yeah, I know." She glanced about at the surrounding damage.

"That was…that was…damn." Sato reached up to rub her neck as her eyes followed Reed.

"You're a linguist. Words, Hoshi, we need words."

"I don't have any. How about you?"

Cutler conceded defeat. "Me neither."


It was highly irritating to a man of Malcolm Reed's exacting nature that something so simple should go wrong at such an awkward time, or that he should be shorthanded in the armory at that moment. He could have done much of the work himself, but as the Ortholian delegation was scheduled to visit the bridge and then join the Captain and other senior officers for lunch, he was in dress uniform as requested. He hated to wreck his dress uniform; he'd brought only one. And it took more time and effort to have every detail in exact place, every minute item just so—he was not going to start changing now. Reed hit the comm button.

"Captain, I need a couple of hands in the armory. The aft torpedo calibration slipped and I'll need some manual adjustments to be made."

There was one moment's silence. Then the response came. "Malcolm, I just buzzed engineering. Trip's volunteered to come down himself to handle it but I said no—we're due to dock with the Ortholians shortly and I need all officers to be ready. However, Rostov and a few of the others are on their way down."

"I only need two men, sir."

"According to Trip, everyone in engineering right now asked to volunteer, so he's sending four of them to avoid a stampede."

"He must be coming down on them hard today, sir. Thank you." There was no other reason why everyone should be attempting to desert their posts—but from what Reed had gathered around the ship, although his friend Commander Trip Tucker might be the most genial person alive on a good day, his occasional fits of temper in engineering made Reed's worst days look comparatively cheerful.

That belt was pinching slightly; Reed adjusted it carefully. It didn't do to have one's dress uniform have the slightest item moved out of place. Rostov, Kelly, and two other engineering crew entered the armory. "Sir," Rostov began. "We heard we might be able to give you a hand, sir."

"Very good. If you'll all come around, let me show you what's needed." Reed began a detailed explanation of the calibration procedures, pointing out minutiae that he deemed crucial, blind to the scrutiny Rostov and the rest were giving him. He was merely annoyed that Kelly seemed so unfocused on the task at hand. "Are you paying attention, Kelly?"

"Uh, yessir. Sorry, sir." She tried putting more effort into the instruction, although her gaze kept wandering exactly where the others' did.

Nonetheless, for all of Kelly's lack of discipline, things seemed well enough in hand. Reed determined to stop by engineering to thank Tucker and to see if the ship's chief engineer would join him on his way to the bridge.

Why did things always go wrong on a day when everything was so busy? Kelly had been inattentive giving a hand in the armory; now Novakovich, passing Reed in the corridor, was walking into bulkheads as if he had no coordination whatsoever. Phlox plainly needed to give the man an examination. And why on earth, with everything there was to do, those two ensigns were just standing there staring vacantly like village idiots, wa completely baffling.

He entered engineering, oblivious to Liz Cutler, in a corridor outside, signaling the bridge. "Captain, I think we have a serious problem. Now we're getting injuries," she commed, looking over an accidentally battered Novakovich, who was looking past Cutler, eyes still unfocused, babbling incoherently.


Reed looked over at Trip Tucker, the chief engineer, as he gave a few remaining instructions to his assistant, Lieutenant Hess. Tucker wore his dress uniform surprisingly well, Reed thought, quite satisfied that the engineer was not going to disgrace the ship on this formal contact. Tucker nodded back at Reed, then blinked. "Hey, Malcolm, you sure 'bout that?"

The armory officer gazed back placidly. "My dress uniform? Absolutely. It's precisely within Starfleet regulations. I admit it's a variation, but it's plainly detailed. Admiral Campbell was very specific in outlining the details."

Tucker nodded slowly. "Admiral Campbell, huh? Well, I guess that figures, don't it?" He tugged at his own dress jacket. "It kinda makes me feel underdressed, though. You almost look like you're in the formal dress uniform."

Reed shook his head, chuckling. "Hardly. No bow tie."

"Uh, yeah." Tucker handed a padd to Hess. "Here, everything's on this. You ready to go?"

"Certainly." Tucker and Reed exited, missing the sight of the padd slipping from Hess's hand as she watched them exit, her eyes trained firmly on Reed.


The two officers entered the bridge and promptly felt themselves under Jonathan Archer's close scrutiny. Reed nearly squirmed at the degree of examination he felt himself undergoing from the captain. Still, he reminded himself, he couldn't help it if no one else on the ship was sufficiently concerned about dress uniforms to realize how important details were. Admiral Campbell had been absolutely correct about it, of course.

Captain Archer shifted uneasily as he looked over the two men. "I'm glad you're early, gentlemen. I'd like to see you in my ready room, Lieutenant."

Reed looked over at Archer in concern. "Of course, sir." He followed Archer into the ready room and immediately fell into parade rest.

"Malcolm," Archer sighed, easing himself into his desk chair, "I've gotten several messages from Crewman Cutler. There are some problems this morning."


Archer consulted a list. "The mess hall this morning. Five cups and three glasses were broken when people dropped them. Another two crewmen dropped their trays."

Reed furrowed his brow. "That's odd. I didn't notice any particular spatial anomalies that might have caused that."

Archer continued. "Kelly jammed her finger as soon as you left the armory."

"I should have been called, sir. But I did note to her that she wasn't paying attention to the directions."

Another glance at the monitor. "Novakovich has a black eye."

"From walking into the bulkhead? I'm not surprised. I thought Phlox might want to check his balance. He seemed a bit unsteady when I passed him in the corridor." Archer shook his head. "Five other crew dropped padds in the corridors. And not one but two crew have whiplash."

Reed was nonplussed. "*Whiplash,* sir? I don't quite understand."

"From turning their heads too quickly, Mr. Reed." Archer leaned back in his chair and sighed. "Malcolm, every single one of these incidents has the same source."


"I'm afraid you're responsible, Malcolm."

The shock was evident on Reed's face. "I'm afraid I don't understand, sir."

Archer shook his head and stared at the ceiling for one moment. "Malcolm," he sighed. "What are you wearing?"

Reed looked down at his clothing. "Starfleet dress, sir, British standard variation, Admiral Campbell's directive of 2149, as attached to the uniform regulations." That was easy. He felt much better on this safe ground, though what it, or he, had to do with the unfortunate propensity of his shipmates to have turned into clumsy buffoons on such an important day he didn't know.

"Er, right," Archer agreed. "Now, Malcolm, have you checked your uniform?"

"Sir?" God forbid there was a missing button, or some embarrassing omitted detail, or—no, please, nothing adhering to his footwear. He looked down at his feet quickly, relieved to see that nothing ridiculous was trailing. Please, let there not be some ripped spot he had failed to observe.

"Your uniform, Malcolm. Did you look at yourself before you left your cabin?"

"Yes, sir. May I ask—?"

"Malcolm," Archer said quietly. "Your dress uniform. It's—ahem—how shall I put this?" The captain appeared to grope for words. "It's…distracting."

Reed blinked. "Robertson hunting modern is a very sedate tartan, sir. And it *is* the Reed family's clan. Admiral Campbell was quite specific regarding use of clan tartans."

Archer shifted nervously, or what appeared to be nervously, and crossed his legs. "That may be, Lieutenant, but apparently it—how did Ensign Sato put this before she hurt her neck—brings out your eyes astonishingly. And as for the rest of the matter…"

It was unusual to see the captain having difficulty finding words, given his propensity for speechifying. It was, in fact, distressing. "Sir?"

"Damn it, Malcolm, you look like sex on a stick in that thing." Archer was on his feet now, coming closer. Judging by the look on his face, the rather odd expression was apparently a good thing. Perhaps, noting the obvious reason Archer had been crossing his legs, it was a very good thing.

"I beg your pardon, sir?"

That was the last phrase Reed was able to say for several moments, as Archer explained the point physically by grabbing him and kissing him until there was nearly an oxygen crisis for both of them. "Are you going to tell me what you're wearing under that, Lieutenant, or am I going to have to find out for myself?"

Reed wriggled out of his lover's clutches. Very carefully, so as not to disturb his uniform, of course. "I can't believe you didn't know I owned this version of the dress uniform."

"I wish you'd told me so I could have ordered you to get one that didn't make you look like that. Unfortunately, there isn't a potato sack version of the dress uniform."

"I could change," Reed offered. "I do have one pair of the standard dress trousers."

Archer grabbed him again. "Not on your life. Just don't wear it again. Uh, anytime soon, that is. At least, not outside of one of our cabins."

"Mmm. Is that an order?"

"Only if you want it to be…"

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