Title: Romance

Author: Kylie Lee and MJ

E-mail: KylieLee1000@hotmail.com, MJR91@aol.com

Authors' URL: http://www.geocities.com/kylielee1000/ and http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/mj/

Date: 08/15/02

Length: ~5,600 words

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Type: Slash M/M

Rating: R

Summary: While on shore leave, Archer and Reed cut it up on the dance floor.

Feedback: Yes, please.

Archive: Yes, at EntSTSlash, Tim Ruben, Archers_Enterprise, Allslash, Situation Room, and WWOMB; anyone else, yes, but ask first.

Disclaimer: Original material copyright 2002 Kylie Lee and MJ. This is not an attempt to infringe on Paramount's copyright. No money changed hands. Etc.

Spoilers: None. This is a stand-alone fic.

Series: Disco Ball

Next story: Scotch on the Rocks

Comment: Beta thanks to Cinmbria and Kim.

The low thrum of music was audible even on the lower level of the club. Malcolm Reed found himself tapping a foot in time to the music. 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 with Tucker and it hadn't worked out—it had been an unmitigated disaster, and it was the last time he'd let Trip Tucker come up with the ideas for what to do on another planet. 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 Tucker 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 Tucker's aggression and a well-placed elbow—and then they'd have to wait for another half hour. Hoshi was around somewhere; she'd gone off to use the lavatory about ten minutes ago but hadn't come back. Nobody seemed worried.

"Would you care to dance?" Reed asked Tucker, drumming his hands on the table, swaying to the music.

Tucker, who was sipping a drink that looked horribly like a Risan mai tai as Reed spoke to him, raised his eyebrows over the fruit. "No thanks," he responded. "I'm hungry. Maybe after I eat something."

"Travis?" Reed turned to the man sitting to his right.

"Malcolm? I'm only your second choice?" Mayweather said, voice outraged, smiling to show he was kidding. He sipped an incongruous fruity drink, a twin to Tucker's, then frowned at it. He hadn't had one of those odd orange-looking combinations on Risa, and this apparent variation didn't appear to agree with him. "I thought we were friends. How long have we known each other? Don't I rate being asked first?" "Fine," Reed sighed, "be that way." He grinned at Mayweather, knowing that his friend was teasing, and that he would have danced with Reed if Reed had asked again. However, it did give him a chance to move on…"Captain?"

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

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

"No, thanks, I should keep Trip company. And we waited too long for this table. I don't want to risk losing it."

"Whine, whine, whine," Tucker snorted. "Go ahead, Cap'n. I know you like to dance."

"Do you, Captain?" asked Mayweather, surprised.

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

"Oh, I remember that party," Tucker exclaimed, his tone of voice implying that it had been quite some party indeed.

"Was I there?" Mayweather asked.

"I thought you were," Tucker said. "I'm pretty sure the captain danced with Hoshi. And he danced with Elizabeth Cutler, 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 the captain wasn't the kind of guy to really cut loose on the dance floor, is all," Mayweather defended himself.

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

"Thank you, Trip," Archer said, tone ironic. "But I can defend myself. I used to go out dancing pretty regularly in San Francisco, before we got posted to Enterprise," Archer continued. "I suppose we don't have so many opportunities for night life on board ship. I might remedy that tonight." He turned back to Reed. "I believe you were asking me something, Malcolm. Would you like to dance?" Archer stood up, smiled winningly at the dark-haired armory officer, and held out a hand expectantly.

Reed took Archer's hand, and let Archer haul him to his feet. "I can deny you nothing, Captain," the tactical officer said wryly.

Archer turned to the others. "Trip, Travis, are you sure you don't want to join us?" Reed felt Archer squeeze his hand before he released it. "You could see that in fact, I do dance."

"No proof needed," Mayweather said. "The Captain's word is his bond."

Archer laughed. "It had better be. See you later, then."

"If Hoshi turns up, send her over," Tucker called after them as they turned to leave. "Although she's probably met some guy who speaks some interesting language and we won't see her for the rest of the night."

"Will do," Archer said. "Come on, Malcolm. We have reputations to maintain here," he said with a smirk as they headed off. As soon as they turned the corner and began mounting the stairs to the upper level, Reed moved back and let Archer climb the stairs ahead of him. The view from the rear was spectacular, as he'd known it would be. He'd deliberately asked Archer last; he'd known that he could get Mayweather to dance anytime, but he'd hoped that he'd be able to convince the Captain to join him by putting him on the spot. Now that the idea had worked, he was vaguely intimidated. He really hadn't thought much past "get Jonathan Archer alone on the dance floor" until now, and now was just a bit late to decide where he was hoping this would go, and when it would get there.

Archer paused at the landing, waiting for Reed to catch up with him. He smiled as Reed came up beside him and laid a hand on Reed's shoulder. "I don't know about you, Malcolm, but we might want to wait a few minutes until they play something a little slower. Maybe the dance floor will clear a little."

"Certainly." Oh, god, slow dancing with Jonathan Archer? This was not the best idea Malcolm Reed had ever heard. But it did hold some promise, especially since Archer had suggested it to him. He decided to press that advantage while Archer was relaxed, and while that hand was still on his shoulder. "By the way, Captain, have I told you today how very, very nice you look?" He smiled, as if to suggest, if necessary, that he was joking. However, he most certainly wasn't. He tugged the belt loops of Archer's jeans and pulled him closer. "How on earth did you get those on? Or are they special spray-on trousers?"

Archer chuckled. "I had to lie on the floor and suck it in before I could zip them up," he confessed. In addition to his skin-tight jeans, he was wearing a dark green knit shirt that made his hazel eyes even more green than usual and that clung to his shoulders almost as closely as Reed thought he might like to try himself, if the opportunity ever presented itself. Perhaps it might tonight. "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. Before Reed could respond, they heard the music slow slightly, and a few moments later, a few—not many—couples departed. Archer slid his hand down from Reed's shoulder to his hand, grasping it firmly and tugging. "Come on. Let's get to dancing."

As Reed followed Archer onto the dance floor, his hand in Archer's, 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 still 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. Reed 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 even if matters went no further than the dance floor. The fact that the man in question was Jonathan Archer, for once very relaxed and quite open to Reed's less-than-subtle comment about his clothing, made the possibilities even more interesting. It was shore leave; anything could happen, and often did, which reduced the consequences if things didn't work out. Things could happen on shore leave that, if they happened on board ship, would make working with someone else quite impossible afterward. Reed had seen that—had been there—before. 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 Archer's 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. 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. They were totally anonymous, totally lost in the crowd moving 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. Reed reached out a hand and pulled Archer in. Archer, breathing hard, let himself be pulled. Archer's body felt firm and solid against his, although Reed noticed that they were both breathing far more heavily than a mere walk onto the dance floor should have allowed. It was possible that Archer was as nervous as he was, and the only excuse a man had for being nervous when he'd just asked you for a slow dance was that he was afraid of letting you see just how interested he really was.

Reed put his arms around Archer and breathed in his scent: a faint spiciness mixed with the salt of perspiration. His arms tightened involuntarily, and Archer looked down and smiled at him, his hands coming to rest on Reed's hips. Reed allowed himself to settle against Archer's body as they moved, his hips now against Archer's, and felt a stirring in his groin that resolved itself into a pleasurable hard- on. Archer, eyes meeting his, smiled. One of Archer's hands wandered around to his ass and settled there. After a moment or two, Archer increased the pressure.

Feet moving in time to the music, bodies pressed together, eyes locked, Archer's hand on his ass, Reed looked up, expectantly. His mouth was going dry; he licked his lips, not so much as a signal but in an effort to keep them from feeling as if they were going to crack; the rest of him might shatter along with them. But Archer responded as though it were an invitation, leaning down and capturing Reed's mouth. Their tongues slowly swirled together in a dance of their own. Archer tasted like Scotch—the drink he had left behind on the table was the closest thing this planet had to the Earth whisky. Reed pressed his hips harder against Archer, and Archer deepened the kiss. Reed responded almost desperately, tongue and mouth hard against Archer's, body pushing against his as they continued swaying to the music.

Reed 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 Archer's. They were both panting. Archer's eyes looked dark in the flickering light, his pupils huge with arousal. Reed took in the sight. Archer was incredibly aroused and unable to do anything about it, his firm, muscular body singing with pent-up sexual tension inside clothing that was definitely, definitely too bloody tight. Reed's hands slid up Archer's back and settled there demurely, as he turned his head and set a cheek against Archer's shoulder. Archer brushed Reed's hair with his lips as he drew him close. Their groins brushed together, less insistently now.

Reed took the opportunity to check out some of the other dancers. Despite the huge number of people on the floor, he and Archer 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—Reed'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.


Archer felt his own cock leap at the erotic sight of the intimacy all around him. He felt the thrum of the music deep inside as it sped 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 realized that he loved to watch Reed dance. He remembered watching Reed dancing at Cutler's party, even as he'd been dancing with others himself. Why hadn't he asked Reed to dance with him that night? He'd only danced with women on board ship, though that wasn't usual for him. He had gone out dancing a lot in San Francisco, as he had told Mayweather and Tucker, but as his old friend knew, it was usually to the mostly male clubs, and not usually with friends. This was the first time since Enterprise had launched that he'd allowed himself the luxury of being this close to another man. Archer 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 Archer's chest, pushed himself back, met his eyes, and, laughing, shook his head. "No," he was saying.

"You don't want this?" Archer asked him, pulling him in again. Reed was warm and hard. He intensified the kiss, and when Reed tried to pull back, Archer, 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 Archer's feet into his stomach. He knew Reed felt it too. The bass beat was simply the articulation of their all-too-evident 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. "You know what I want," Reed rasped. "But this isn't quite the time or the place, is it?" Reed did want Archer, had been attracted to the man almost since the beginning of their mission, but had never found a suitable time or place to indicate his interest. And he'd thought, but hadn't been entirely sure until now, that Archer was definitely interested in him beyond their professional friendship. What Reed didn't want was a one-off with Jonathan Archer in a nightclub bathroom, or a fast dry hump on the dance floor, as a fair number of the dancers around them seemed to be doing. He wanted time, he wanted quiet, he wanted Jonathan Archer's incredible body entirely to himself. Archer didn't strike him, either, as the type who really enjoyed semipublic quickies, especially if he had any hopes of continuing a relationship. And Jonathan Archer was not a man to have a one-night stand with one of his officers; if Archer wanted him, he knew that Archer was serious.

When Reed let his hand go, Archer moved his hand away, but 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 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, his arms wrapped tightly around Reed's chest. He bent to Reed's ear. "We could head back to my hotel room," he said hopefully.

Reed shook his head, his hair brushing Archer's neck and face. "No. That would be wrong." Archer squeezed Reed against his chest. "It's only the first full day of shore leave. Later, after dinner. A couple more drinks with the rest, or another dance, and then we could leave…Jon?" He said the name tentatively, unsure of using it. The man might be pressing a very definite erection into his body, but he was still the captain of Reed's ship. The politics of the job title were tricky.

"Hmm? Question?" Archer nuzzled Reed's neck, and Reed leaned back into the embrace.

"No…I must confess…I wasn't sure about using your name," Reed admitted.

Archer moved so he and Reed were face to face. "We're all but making love on the dance floor, Malcolm. I think you have a right to it by now. And I'm not going to carry my rank to the bedroom with me, so get used to it." He kept one arm around Reed while his other hand 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. Reed threw his head back, and swayed it back and forth in time to the music, pushing against Archer's body, his other hand cupped around the bare skin of Archer's neck. Archer was barely aware of the other dancers crushed around them. The world was Reed's tight, compact body, molding itself against him.

All around him, he saw people leaning down for kisses, hands groping, bodies rubbing. Archer thought maybe the music was making them all catch fire—but there were plenty of people just dancing, not engaged in anything ranging from overenthusiastic displays of affection to actual sexual activity there on the dance floor. He was just focusing on the ones doing what he and Reed were doing.


Reed's eyes opened, and Archer leaned down and plundered Reed's mouth with his. Watching Archer like this, wanton and abandoned, in public, made Reed breathless and harder than ever. Mayweather might had thought that Archer dancing was out of character; Reed knew better than that, but he hadn't imagined that the dark anonymity of the dance floor would permit both of them to go quite this far. He pulled back and smiled up at Archer. He liked Archer's surprising him. Reed wished he could see Archer's eyes, but the light was too poor. He tried to imagine them as he was sure he would eventually see them, as they looked in bed, after Archer came, hazel green and dazed with pleasure.

The thought of what Archer's eyes looked like right this second galvanized him. He tried to hold back, but his heart was pounding, and Archer was too near. He kissed Archer deeply, hands coming around to stroke Archer's jawline, then bury themselves in his hair as he lost himself in Archer's heat. Archer melted into Reed, focusing on the sensation of the man teasing him.


Archer squirmed into his jeans, cursing their tightness. He felt his cock jerk, sending a pulse of pleasure through his body, and, since it was just barely physically possible, pulled Reed tighter. He rubbed his groin against the hardness of Reed's body. "Oh, god, Malcolm," he said against Reed's mouth. Archer circled his ass in time to the music and pressed his groin against Reed. Reed's insistent erection pressing through the fabric against his own cock felt exquisite. He was nearly ready to suggest that they go ahead and ditch everybody after all, go back to his hotel room or find themselves a bathroom stall or an alley or someplace even remotely private.

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. Archer brought Reed's hand up to his lips and gently suckled Reed's fingers, one by one, finishing with licks and kisses along Reed's palm. Then he bent down and kissed Reed again. They clung together, hot and sweaty, occasionally exchanging kisses, hips moving in time to the music, arms around each other.

Watching Reed in his tight, casual clothing all day had been painful. He'd been unable to reach out and touch him because he was always professional, even when he was off duty, and because until that night, he'd still seen Reed as hopelessly unavailable. Thank god he had been wrong. Archer 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 over and fondle Reed's absolutely incredible ass whenever he felt like it. He still regretted going off by himself on Risa, and it wasn't just because he had met up with a Tandaran spy who had given him the next best thing to a concussion. He knew about Reed's little adventure with Tucker; he wished that he'd been the one that Reed had been with, and that they would have been brave enough, or honest enough, then to have gone off together. But he knew now what he hadn't been sure of then: that Reed also wanted him.

Archer 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 Archer 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.

He knew that Reed's upbringing had been unusual for their day; Reed was probably one of the last products of traditional British military and upper-class childrearing, with absent parents, distant even when present, and boys' boarding schools in his past. Whatever the circumstances he had encountered before, his personal space was scrupulously observed now. Reed wasn't used to being touched casually. Archer had talked to Reed's parents once and could hardly imagine that they had ever violated the other's boundaries long enough to produce two children. How Reed had made it to adulthood without closeness, without real affection, Archer didn't know. He was sure only that he wanted to be the one who saw that Reed never lived that way again.

But with Archer, it was all about touch. That was how he had first tried to make Reed aware of his interest in him, as gradually and cautiously as possible. The casual touches on the shoulder when giving Reed orders, on the arm or on the back when they worked together, so electric to him. Glances while working; longer, more lingering gazes when off duty. He remembered touching Reed when he'd agreed to dance earlier. Their hands had lingered as they headed to the dance floor; Reed had smiled at him, and he had smiled back, and then Reed had suddenly asked him about the tightness of his jeans. It was clear to Archer, as it must have been clear, he thought, to Reed, that they both had the same feelings, that they had both felt this way all along, but it had taken Reed until now, when they were both together out of uniform, on a level playing field, to feel able to express his own interest in Archer. Archer realized that this dance was the actual acknowledgment of their courtship. He would 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?" Archer nodded and released Reed slowly, fuzzily contemplating water polo results in a heroic effort to bring his body back under control, and finally 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 woman standing there, and when he lowered his eyes to her face to give an apology that wouldn't be heard anyway, he realized it was Ensign Hoshi Sato, who was wearing a ridiculously tight pink shirt and pants, with a slightly green-skinned man on one arm and what Archer took to be a woman on the other arm. He was afraid his face betrayed his sudden panic. Good god. How long had Hoshi been there?

When Archer didn't move, Reed came up beside him, tucking a shoulder under Archer's arm and leaning intimately into his side. He looked around curiously, then smiled at Hoshi. Archer was impressed. Damn, the man was cool. He didn't mind getting caught dancing with Reed, or being close to Reed, as long as they were off duty, but a ship's captain had no business engaging in public displays of affection in front of his crew. Reed and Hoshi exchanged hand signals, and Archer let himself be carried off as all three of them headed to the steps, Hoshi leaving behind the other couple.

"Where're Travis and Commander Tucker?" Hoshi asked when she could make herself 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." Tucker had been right: Hoshi had gotten sidetracked.

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

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

Archer 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 Trip and Travis? Get something to eat?"

"Sounds good to me," Hoshi responded.

"I'll see you there in a few moments," Reed said. "I'd like to visit the lavatory." Happy to leave the rest of the probable upcoming conversation to Archer, Reed went one way and Archer and Hoshi went the other. Archer cursed Reed's slickness at evading the situation.

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

Hoshi 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?"

Archer eyed the ensign. She seemed embarrassed. Archer decided 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. "You seemed very interested in that couple."

She flushed slightly. "Yes. And no." Her voice was final. Then, more softly to her friend, "You and Malcolm looked really engrossed in each other."

"Yes," Archer said. He smiled. There was a pause.

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

"Engrossed?" Archer said helpfully.

"Engrossed, of course."

"About an hour."

"Oh," Hoshi said, eyes blinking in surprise. "I had no idea either of you…Is it a secret or anything?"

"No, not really," Archer said. "But I think it's better if we're discreet."

"Discreet? Not on the dance floor you're not," she replied.

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

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

Archer smiled. "Long enough."

There was silence as Archer and Hoshi sized the other up. "Captain, can we call it even?" Hoshi asked at last.

Archer, relieved, said, "Let's do that, Hoshi." They shook hands solemnly and headed for the table.

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

"Malcolm's in the loo," Hoshi said, in her best British accent. "He'll be back in a tick." Tucker laughed. "You see, Malcolm's not the only one who can do accents, love," she continued in her high-class British voice, her linguist's ear allowing her to nail it.

Mayweather got into the fun, but he upped the ante: he went Scots. "Hoshi, old thing, good to see you again. Did some handsome prince sweep you up and carry you away, despite that hideous outfit?"

"Lucky outfit, Travis, and it worked," Hoshi said, back to her normal voice, but smirking. "Well, temporarily. Oh, hello, miss." This last was said with a smile to the server.

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

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

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

The pause was just a little too long.

"Oh, yes, sir," Hoshi said, just as Archer said, "Trip, you have no idea how much fun it was on that dance floor."

"Good," Tucker said heartily, giving Hoshi an amused look that she responded to with blandness. Archer was encouraged. Hoshi would keep her mouth shut.

Archer 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, Captain. Thanks."

It wasn't an exchange his colleagues hadn't seen a thousand times before. But now Hoshi was looking from one to the other as though it all made sense. Archer met Hoshi's eyes and winked.

"Now, when we've all eaten, we're all going up to that dance floor," Reed informed the table in general. "I've got a move I think you'll really like, Travis, if you can keep up with me."

"What's so funny, Hoshi?" Tucker demanded, as she dissolved into laughter.

Hoshi shook her head and straightened up. "Nothing, sir," she said. "Nothing at all."

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