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Author's Note: Beta'd by the always awesome boosette and inspired by the st_respect "First Date" challenge. We picked another entry for the team, but the art and fic were too much fun to create not to share with the rest of the class.

by LJC

Christopher Pike had some small inkling of the danger he was in—but he assumed if there was to be bloodshed, it would have been most likely from the ambassador's armed escort. Diplomacy was a bloodspot among some Federation races, and just because all most of the combatants had to hand were champagne flutes and shrimp forks, that did not mean he wasn't going to end up on one of Phil's biobeds before the night was through.

What he hadn't counted on, however, was the possibility that his imminent demise had nothing at all to do with the Argelian Delegation or the upcoming treaty negotiations, and everything to do with his First Officer who currently looked like she was ready to jam the stylus she clutched in her perfectly manicured fingers into his ocular cavity.

Quickly, he reviewed his behaviour trying like crazy to figure out what he'd done wrong.

When he'd met her in the turbolift she hadn't been wearing the same dress uniform she'd worn to every one of the last eleven diplomatic functions they had attended, with its green-gold tunic with gold braid all around the high collar and plain black dress pants. Instead, she'd opted for the rarely-seen-by-his-crew dress tunic, which exposed her neck and collarbones and miles of stocking-clad legs above her polished high-heeled boots. Her dark hair, which she usually wore twisted in a simple chignon for such occasions, was piled high atop her head in a crown of blue-black braids, with two curls escaping to brush the gold piping along the soft black uniform collar.

"You look... different."

"When I expressed my desire to wear the standard dress uniform for this occasion, I encountered a certain amount of resistance from one of my department heads. I take it you approve?"

"Very much so," he said, and before he could say anything else, the 'lift doors had opened. They entered the Observation Lounge where a long buffet table was set up overlooking the row of viewpoints where Argelius II floated out among the glittering stars.

It had taken every ounce of willpower he possessed as the night wore on not to wrap one of those blue-black curls around his fingers as they sat at the high table and listened to the Argelian trade minister go on and on about tariffs and shipping routes. He tried to pay attention to the conversation rather than the woman sitting next to him, all the while torturously aware of how the hem of her skirt crept up as she crossed her legs, and the sound of silk on silk.

He drained glasses of champagne without really noticing. It gave him something to do with his hands other than toy with the stiff braided collar of his uniform. He knew the environmental controls would be set at the low end of Earth-Normal, so he guessed there was an entirely different reason it felt warm in the cavernous space.

Eventually the plates were cleared away and the string quartet began playing a waltz. As couples took the floor, Pike watched his Exec walk across the deck to converse with the yeoman in charge of the catering, taking a PADD from him to sign several screens while the diplomats, their attachés, and the rest of his officers milled around, enjoying the music and ambience.

"Number One, are you angry with me?" he asked her.

She shrugged elegantly—just a minute dropping of her left shoulder as she tapped the stylus against the PADD. "Whatever gave you that impression, Captain?"

The yeoman glanced back and forth between the captain and XO and reached out for the PADD before scuttling out of the line of fire. Smart man, thought Pike.

"Okay—out with it. I know I did something wrong. It'll save time if you tell me what it is I should be apologising for."

She arched a brow. "You said, and I quote, 'it's a date,' in front of the entire senior staff at the briefing."

"This is an official diplomatic function—" He dropped his voice to a whisper, "not a date date."

"Tell me, Captain, what is a date exactly?" her blue eyes glittered dangerously. "I was under the impression it was when you made an appointment to meet socially with someone, usually in the evening, often encompassing dinner. And you wore clothing more formal than what you would normally wear, and sometimes engage in behaviour that you would not otherwise engage in. Such as dancing."

She poked him in the chest with the stylus. "I'm wearing a dress. And I've done my hair. I'm wearing impractical, uncomfortable boots, and make-up and scent."

He was close enough now that he could detect the light citrus perfume she had chosen which he had previously mistakenly attributed to the flowers in the centrepiece.

"And for you to spend the entire evening effectively ignoring me when you yourself referred to this as a 'date' I can only attribute to poor manners or disinterest on your part, despite my efforts in changing my appearance in accordance with Terran custom."

Pike blinked, feeling as if the deckplates beneath his feet had shifted and dropped away and he was in free-fall. "I'm on a date?"

"Yes. And thus far, you have conversed almost entirely with the Trade Minister."

"She had very interesting things to say about the negotiations..." he trailed off, suddenly conscious of exactly how big a hole he had dug himself. "So what you're saying is... I'm on the worst date ever?"

"That would be an accurate assessment." She sighed. "And it's too bad. Because in addition to wearing a dress and doing my hair, I am wearing appropriate undergarments."

Pike blinked. "Appropriate for what?"

"Not much." She leaned forward, her warm breath brushing his ear. "They were chosen more for aesthetics than actual structural support."

He swallowed and gallantly offered her his arm. "Number One, would you care to dance?"

Her lips curved in a smile at last. "Christopher, I thought you would never ask."


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