Crew Quarters, C Deck, 2020 hours, July 8 2151

Jean was just putting on some sweatpants and an old, comfy shirt when her door comm rang. "One second!" she called out, hoping whoever it was would hear her and be patient.

There weren't many people on board who might show up at her quarters unannounced, especially in the evening. One of them, however, was Commander Charles Tucker III. After ranting at him in Decon about his behavior on the mission, she really didn't want to see him at her door. Christ. If its Trip, I'm screwed. She finished pulling on the shirt and walked over to the door. After chewing on her lip briefly, she nervously triggered the door open.

The face she saw, though, wasn't Commander Tucker's. She was relieved, if surprised, to instead see Lieutenant Reed standing in the hallway.

He seemed uncomfortable, as though he hadn't intended to find himself at her quarters. "Um, Ensign, I was wondering... if you weren't planning on doing anything this evening..."

She smiled and shook her head, gesturing for him to come in. "Free as a bird. Please."

He nodded quickly, his mouth almost twitching into a smile as he stepped inside. He hadn't been in her quarters since their first day on board, when he had helped her to find her way there. Now he couldn't help but notice how homelike everything looked. She had wall hangings, art, plants, and even decorative coverings draped over the lockers to make them seem less plain and boxy.

Never underestimate a woman's ability to redecorate.

Before he got too far in admiring the décor, he was stopped by a warm, furry thing bumping up against his leg. Reed smiled, looking down at the young tortoiseshell cat. "Hello, Merri." He briefly stroked her head and she began to purr, her tail twitching into a question-mark shape.

Jean smiled at him. "I'm surprised you remembered her name, sir."

One corner of Reed's mouth remained quirked up in a smile. "She's only one cat, Ensign. Remembering her name isn't much of a challenge."

She rolled her eyes at the joke but her smile didn't falter. However, after a pause, her happy expression started to fade. "I didn't see you at dinner."

He shifted uncomfortably. After clearing Decon he'd all but disappeared, even though he knew that Jean would want to talk to him. He owed her a proper conversation and proper thanks, but first he'd wanted to spend some time alone in his quarters. It'd ended up being about five hours before he'd found himself at her door, without a plan or a clear idea of what he wanted to say.

"I ate in my quarters. I needed some time to think."

She nodded, her mouth twisting into a sympathetic half-smile. "I'll bet. Would you like to sit down?"

She gestured to her desk chair, then to the oversized armchair nearby which was large enough to comfortably seat two people. Her desk was just below the oblong viewport, and the armchair backed up against a wall which faced the main door out of her quarters. Even in friendly environs, he preferred to have a defensible position and a view of the exit. He opted for the armchair, nodding his thanks and groping for an explanation for his sudden appearance.

However, before he had thought of anything to say, she spoke up. "When I was in high school, I had this idea that if I went to bed right after watching a scary movie late at night, I'd have nightmares. I never did, of course, but I always thought it would happen."

Reed just looked at her, not sure where this story was headed. He sat down, settling in and hoping the 'why' would become clear fairly soon.

She sat down on her bed, continuing. "So, what I'd always do was flip around until I found something else to watch, so that the last thing in my head before I fell asleep wouldn't be the scary movie." She gave him a significant look and he was still puzzled by the apparently random topic, but as she went on comprehension started to dawn.

"Of course, what inevitably happened was that I'd end up finding a scarier movie to watch. I'd either watch it all the way through and go to bed early in the morning, or I'd stay up all night, worried that I'd have nightmares from the scarier movie, or I'd fall asleep on the couch during the movie and end up not having the nightmares at all. One time, a time I stayed up, I ended up watching 'The Shining' after sunrise the next morning."

Reed had got her drift by now. She knew that he wanted to get his mind off of the mission before he fell asleep. She understood that he wanted to be thinking about something else for the next few hours. Once again, she was making things easy for him in her own special way. A way which involved a story and sharing information about herself. It was a way that involved absolutely no pressure and no judgments, and which could easily spawn a friendly conversation.

"Were you alone?" He leaned back against the wall, finding, to his happy surprise, that there were pillows forming a head rest. He realized that she must have added those, since the standard setup was just an oversized armchair.

She nodded. "Yeah. I'd stayed up all night alone, watching 'Aliens' and then I think 'The Abyss', so I was twitchy before it even started."

Reed shook his head, fighting a smile as he pictured an adolescent Jean watching the Stephen King–based movie in that state. "That can't have gone well."

Jean smiled unhappily. "Oh, it didn't. You know the scene in the mysterious room?"

He looked thoughtfully at the far wall and gave his head a slight shake. He'd watched the movie years before, but he didn't remember it too well. He just remembered that it was very suspenseful, strange, and disturbing at some points. "Not really. I remember something about the man finding a beautiful woman in there, but then he kissed her and she suddenly became old and hideous."

"I'll take your word for it. I've never seen that part."

He looked confused. "Why not?"

She leaned forward, elbows resting on her knees. Her expression was shy, almost embarrassed. "Promise you won't laugh?"

He nodded solemnly. After today and how kind and supportive she'd been, the last thing he wanted to do was violate her trust. "I promise, Jean."

She chewed on her lower lip, looking furtively from him to the floor and back again every few seconds. "I was hiding behind the couch."

He stopped himself from laughing, but only just. Hiding behind a couch? God, that was just... funny wasn't strong enough a word. Reed bit down on his lip, trying hard to stop from grinning at the image. Jean, hunkering down behind the protective barrier of furniture, peeking out every so often to see whether it was safe to emerge. His shoulders shook a little with contained mirth.

Jean rolled her eyes at him. "Fine, laugh it up."

Reed didn't have to be told twice. He let out a rich chuckle, only intending it to be one, but a whole unauthorized series of them spilled out. "S-sor-sorry, Ensign," he said when he'd managed to get a hold on himself. He glanced over at her, expecting her to be annoyed, but she was smiling ruefully.

"That isn't it, either. I missed other parts 'cause I kept pacing in and out of the room, hugging a throw-pillow to my chest like it was a teddy bear."

Now Reed couldn't stop laughing, shaking his head as he pictured it. "Wh-whi-which c-came first, the pa-pacing or hiding?"

"Pacing, I think. It was intermittent during 'Aliens', damn creepy movie. We're never watching that for movie night if I can help it. I held that pillow so tightly my arms hurt afterwards."

His laughing slowed down and finally stopped. "What was the scariest part of 'The Shining' that you did see?"

"The little girls." She shuddered. "I hate those little girls. They're just so damn creepy. 'Come play with us, come play with us'," she mimicked. "Little creepy Alice in Wonderland look-alikes."

Reed nodded. "Weren't they dead?"

"Yeah, their father had killed them for being disobedient or something. 'I corrrrrected them' was what he said in the freaky red bathroom."

He was suddenly serious again. "At least my father never went that far."

Jean briefly debated asking him to elaborate on that further, but apparently decided not to push her luck. "Good to know he's just a cold, judgmental, deeply unpleasant ass-hat and not a murdering scoundrel." She smiled at him, moving over from the bed to sit on one of the chair's upholstered arms. "Because otherwise he would have deprived me of an excellent friend."

Reed tensed slightly. He didn't especially like it when she said things about his father. She had never met his Stuart Reed, but during the course of becoming friends with Malcolm she had apparently picked up on the subtext of the lieutenant's strained relationship with his father. She knew that Malcolm's aquaphobia was the reason he hadn't carried on the Reed family tradition of joining the Royal Navy and that his father had all but severed communications with him when Malcolm joined Starfleet, and as she had told him during their Saharan survival training, 'I don't have to be a practicing psychologist to know that you have some kind of issues with your dad.' He still wasn't exactly sure how it had happened, but out in the desert Jean had got him talking about some of the crueller things Stuart had said when he and his son were still on speaking terms. She'd listened sympathetically, and when he was done she had made it abundantly clear that she didn't agree with Stuart Reed's opinion of his son. She was appalled by the things that the elder Reed had said to Malcolm while he was growing up, especially when it came to Malcolm's character and value as a person, and he really, deeply appreciated that she was so firmly on his side and thought so highly of him, but he didn't feel comfortable with how casual she was about insulting his father. He certainly wasn't close to the man and didn't take personal offence, but it still went against his sense of propriety. He didn't feel that he owed his father anything, but in a deep, secret corner of his heart, he still wanted the man's approval, if not his love. Love seemed to be something that Stuart Reed was incapable of, after all, so Malcolm had given up on earning that years ago, but he held onto the hope of earning his father's respect someday, and he knew that even permitting a friend to be disrespectful was not the way to achieve his goal.

"I wish you wouldn't say things like that, Jean. It's inappropriate."

"Even the part about how you're an excellent friend?" She shook her head. She did look slightly penitent, though. "I'm sorry, sir. I just don't understand why you defend someone who told you for years that you're a worthless coward. It's patently false, and even if it wasn't, it isn't something a father should say to his son under any circumstances."

His mouth jerked into a half smile at the sentiment. The fact that she felt so strongly about his father was somehow very satisfying. It felt good to hear someone else saying the things which he'd been thinking for years, but the insults... "Thank you, Jean. Still, though, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't –"

"Okay, okay." She held her hands up in token of surrender. "I'll be nice. Besides, it isn't nice to attack someone in absentia."

He let his shoulders relax again. "I'm glad we can agree."

A mischievous glint appeared in her eyes and, seeing it, he studied her carefully. "I'll wait until I can talk to him face to face, and then I'll tell him exactly what I think of his parenting skills."

Reed tensed up again until she put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Kidding, sir. I was only kidding."

He shook his head. "That was not funny, Ensign."

"I dunno, sir. You should've seen your face." Her smile disappeared. "Seriously, though, I don't like anyone who makes my friends think less of themselves, just as a general rule, but I'll try to keep my tongue in check, if that'll make you happy."

He just nodded, leaning his head back against the wall and letting his eyes close.

"So," she tapped her hands on her knees. "Do you want to talk more, or would you rather watch something?"

Reed's eyes opened slowly and he thoughtfully studied the ceiling for a minute. "Watch something."

She nodded, seeming to have expected that reply. "Romance, comedy, action or drama?"

He shook his head. "Your choice. I'm not particular."

She looked at him sidelong and scrunched her mouth to one side. "That's an understatement."

He sat up slightly, narrowing his eyes at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

She shrugged. "Just, you aren't too picky about food, you don't seem to have set opinions about music... generally speaking, you aren't particular."

He crossed his arms, looking vaguely annoyed, and completed the visual with a mock-scowl. "Well," he shook his head, "I particularly don't want to watch a romantic comedy with you right now."

Jean grinned, tilting her head in amusement. "Fair enough. And I think we've had enough drama for one day." She didn't mean it as a complaint and hoped that he wouldn't perceive it as one. "No drama rules out 'West Wing' and 'ROME', and I'm in the mood for 'Buffy', but I'd rather wait until Trip's here to watch it with us."

Reed bobbed his head, smiling a little. "So, NCIS, then?"

Jean nodded. "NCIS." She was halfway to her desk, intending to pull up the file when she stopped in mid-step.

His smile faded and was replaced by a worried expression. "Something wrong?"

Jean turned back, facing him again with a mischievous grin on her face. "You know what?"

Reed just shook his head, relieved at seeing her smile, but a little confused by the sudden change. "What?"

She walked over to a cabinet near her bathroom and took out two tumblers and a bottle of something. She swirled the bottle around for a minute and Reed sat up, watching her closely and wondering what she was up to. "Jean?"

She flipped on her monitor, scrolled around and found the next episode of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. She had got him into the show shortly after they became friends during survival training a few years before, and ever since then they had been meeting up once or twice each week in the evenings to watch a few episodes and unwind after a day at work. Occasionally an emergency at Starfleet Medical would delay Jean, or an R&D project would distract Reed, but they always managed to make the time. However, while Reed was officially assigned to R&D, he was also occasionally sent on missions for Section 31, and that cut into the time they could spend together. He'd never told her about his Section 31 activities, of course, being under strict orders to maintain silence with anyone outside the programme, but keeping it from her weighed on his conscience.

At first he had enjoyed the excitement of fire-fights and espionage, but having to run off at the drop of a hat and perform increasingly unsavoury tasks for his unscrupulous superiors finally lost its appeal, and being hand-picked by Jonathan Archer to be Tactical Officer on Earth's first warp 5 vessel was not only an honour, but a perfect way out from under Harris' thumb. Both he and Jean had been pleasantly surprised to find that they were assigned to the same crew, and at first they planned to resume their pattern of evenings together, but ever since their premature launch Reed's focus had mainly been on getting the Armoury and weapons systems up to scratch, so their friendship had taken a backseat to shipboard duties over the past few months. After their conversation on the planet today, however, he had resolved to start making time for her in his schedule again.

She put the tumblers down on her desk, opened the bottle and poured some dark liquid into each glass. After closing the bottle, she grinned at him even more, her eyes twinkling. "I don't feel inclined to make any accommodations for Mr. Tucker right now. Do you?"

Once the show was all set to play, Jean carried the glasses back over, giving one to him and keeping one for herself. He smiled into his glass, taking a quiet sniff of the drink and hoping to work out what it was. He could smell orange juice and something else, a subtle odour he didn't recognize. Instead of further trying to identify it, he thought about her question for a moment before looking up at her again. "No, I don't."

Jean smiled approvingly and sat down next to him on the couch. She turned to him and raised her glass. "To surviving today's mission."

Reed started to raise his glass, but not knowing what was in it made him reluctant to join her in the toast. "Jean, what are we drinking?"

She gave an annoyed sigh, probably because his ever-present caution was throwing a damper on her plans, and she patted his arm reassuringly. "Screwdrivers made with pomegranate-flavored vodka."

He nodded his understanding, still a bit less relaxed than he'd been before she poured out. "And you're giving me alcohol in your quarters because…? Not that I don't appreciate the hospitality, but-"

Jean raised her eyebrows, biting back a chuckle. "I'm not trying to seduce you, sir, if that's what you're getting at. Besides, if that was my agenda, I would've poured us some wine. It was a rough day for both of us, and I'd like a drink." She shrugged, seeming self-conscious as she looked down at the cushions instead of at him. "Just thought you could use one, too."

Reed smiled, leaning back against the couch and starting to relax again. "Thanks. Now," he looked into the glass, then back at her. "What are we drinking to?"

She tried to get comfy on the couch without crowding him. "Surviving the mission. That's a good first toast."

He raised his glass, clinking it with hers. "To surviving."

They both took generous swallows which, nonetheless, barely emptied the tall glasses.

Jean smiled at him over the rim of her glass. "I was really proud of you today."

He shot her a wary look and put aside his drink on a small table. "I thought we weren't going to talk about the mission."

She put her drink down too, shrugging one shoulder in a sheepish gesture. "Yeah… but it's important that you know. You did good, mister."

He shook his head in a tired protest. He really hadn't wanted to talk about this, to re-hash how cowardly and unprofessional he had been out there. "Jean… how can you say that?"

She just laid her hand on top of his and smiled gently. "Because it's true."

He got up, shaking his head as he paced over to the oblong viewport which ran above her desk and he stood there, staring out at the stars. He leaned his hands on the edge of the desk and watched as myriad stars passed by. Many of those stars were most likely the centre of planetary systems, and he couldn't help wondering how many of those alien planets had lakes or oceans.

"Malcolm," Jean's voice at his elbow startled him out of his reverie and he jerked slightly. She smiled a tiny bit at his surprised reaction and rested a warm hand on his shoulder. "You faced your greatest fear today and you didn't crack."

He huffed bitterly and looked away from her, letting his head hang slightly and trying to find his voice. "I fell to pieces," he ground out miserably. He took an uneven breath, still not ready to see the pity which he was certain would be on her face. "If you hadn't been there, I don't know— "

"No, you didn't." Jean cut him off, giving his shoulder a not-so-gentle squeeze. "You only lost your head a couple of times when we were actually in the water, and you pulled yourself back together quickly each time. Sure, I helped, but you did all the hard work."

He gave his head a tiny shake, desperately trying to get a grip on his emotions. He had promised himself that he wouldn't do this, that he wouldn't let himself be reduced to a whinging mess. Why couldn't she understand why this was so difficult for him? It wasn't as though he had very much practice opening up to people, so he had literally no idea how to strike a balance between making a full breast of the matter while at the same time not making a bloody fool of himself. Even if he knew how to find that happy medium, admitting to anyone, even to her, how afraid he had been on that wretched mission wasn't something he was prepared to do.

"I don't know what I was doing down there… it certainly wasn't my job, whatever else it was. God only knows what Captain Archer thought was going on. Fine security officer I am, needing to be rescued from my own damned neuroses." He shook off her hand and moved a few steps away, trying to put some distance between them.

She wouldn't have it and moved to stand next to him again. "Malcolm, look at me."

He reluctantly dragged his eyes towards her only after she nudged his elbow with her own, and he was pleasantly surprised to see pride and affection shining from her eyes. "There wasn't really anything for you to do down there, and aside from wondering what my problem is, Captain Archer and Commander Tucker are none the wiser. Your secret is safe and so are we, so just let yourself be happy, okay?"

He lodged a half-hearted protest as her warm, earnest smile started to melt the last of his resolve. "Jean, you don't underst- "

Jean lightly rested her hand over his mouth, quieting him, and shook her head in fond annoyance. "Utterly impossible." His eyes went wide in surprise, but before he could protest or stop her, she wrapped him in a hug and held him close, chuckling into his shoulder, "You, my dear sir, are utterly impossible."

She loosened her hold a little and leaned back just enough to look him in the eye. "Now, you listen to me, and you listen good. You are a good man. You're a fine officer and a great friend… okay, the friend thing needs some work and you're much better company when your hull plating isn't polarized, but aside from that…" She drew him close again as she trailed off.

Reed gave a dry chuckle at the hull plating quip, and despite his better judgement, he found himself hugging her in return. The warmth and solidity of her was comforting, somehow. He didn't know why that was, and he had never really understood why Jean was a self-described 'hugger', but he was certainly beginning to see the advantages of being on the receiving end of that kind of affection.

"Now," she said to his neck, her breath warm against his skin, "what don't I understand?"

He shook his head against her and swallowed hard. "I can't."

She ran a comforting hand over his back. "Sure you can. Talk to me."

Reed's breath left him in a ragged sigh. "I… wasn't brave down there. I was…" he grimaced, forcing himself to say the shameful words. "I was half out of my head with fear."

She nodded against his shoulder, giving him a friendly squeeze. "I know."

He pulled back from her, shocked. "You know? How did… Then why did you say… Why are you — "

Jean offered a lopsided smile and held up a hand to quiet his sputtering protests. "I saw how scared you were, but what's that old quote? 'Courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in spite of it. The brave man is he who feels afraid and who conquers that fear.' You were afraid, but you kicked fear's sorry ass by jumping into that water and swimming ashore. You did what you had to do, and that is why I'm proud of you." She closed the gap between them, drew him close again and hesitantly rested her head on his shoulder.

He was surprised and strangely touched by the trusting gesture, and after a moment he closed his eyes, content to just enjoy the comfort she was offering.

They stood like that for almost a minute before she spoke again. "Now, can we go back to the couch?"

He took a steadying breath and then nodded into the crook of her neck. "Yes."

"Okay." She let him out of the hug but kept hold of one of his hands.

He smiled to himself, realizing why she hadn't let go. "Making sure I come with you?"

She smiled and gave the hand in question a squeeze. "Yup."

He squeezed back, oddly comforted by the feeling of her small hand gently urging him along. "Jean?"


Reed's voice dropped to a whisper. "I was bloody terrified."

She smiled softly, still holding his hand, and turned to look at him. "And that's okay. As long as the fear doesn't control you, its nothing to be ashamed of."

He shook his head, staring at her in profound confusion. "Why are you so patient with me?"

"I dunno. " She handed him his drink and grinned as they sat down again. "Guess I've gotten attached to you."

He nodded, happy enough to accept that answer, and took a swallow of his drink, only glancing over when she made a thoughtful noise. Her expression became more serious and she fiddled with her glass before looking up at him. "I'm patient with you because you're worth it, Malcolm."

He started to feel something which Jean referred to as 'the warm fuzzies' set up shop in his chest, and he smiled warmly at her. "I'm very attached to you too, Jean."

She patted his arm, smiling back. "Then I'd better not go anywhere." She clinked their glasses together and had a mouthful of her drink. "Malcolm? About time we started that show, don't you think?"

He nodded, taking a gulp from his own glass. "Absolutely."

An hour of telly and two drinks later, Reed muttered to his glass, "Let's toast to old friends, like Commandah Thickhead Tuckah and Captain Impulsive."

Her mouth fell open and she stared at him. "You liked that!"

He looked confused. "What? I mean, what do you mean?"

She shook her head as a smile started to creep over her face. "When we were in Decon and I was reading Trip the riot act, I was almost sure I saw you smirking a tiny bit. You liked that!"

Reed sighed, swirling his drink around in his glass. "Now Ensign," it doesn't hurt to remind her of her rank, "when you were dressing down Commander Tucker," reminding her of his rank won't hurt either, "I happened to agree with most of what you were saying. It was a reckless idea on the captain's part made worse by Commander Tucker's negligence, and you were quite right that we were fortunate not to lose anyone because of it, but I did not enjoy hearing a subordinate scold her superiors. I thought it was a most inappropriate and unprofessional thing to do."

However, Jean didn't seem to buy it. She rolled her eyes and jabbed an accusing finger at him. "You liked it, sir. Their foolishness put you in a situation that you didn't need to be in. Are you telling me that hearing them brought to account for it didn't give you the least bit of satisfaction? Because I don't believe that, not for one minute."

Reed sat back, squinting at her a little in the darkened room and wishing that she weren't so bloody observant. "I don't know what you're talking about, Ensign. As I said, I agreed with what you were saying, but after a certain point I felt it was inappropriate."

Jean took a sip from her glass, narrowing her eyes as though sizing him up. He had a sneaking suspicion about what was going through her mind. More likely than not, something to the effect of 'the force is strong with this one. His powers of denial are impressive, no doubt, but I shall not be defeated!'

"Nope, I don't believe you. You liked hearing it and seeing them squirm. They knew that they deserved to hear it. You saw how they didn't even try to argue to defend themselves!"

He cocked his head at her, silently lifting an eyebrow.

"Okay," she shrugged, deflating slightly. "Maybe I was a little too zealous," he nodded in agreement, "…but that doesn't mean I was wrong," she finished, looking defiant.

Reed traced the rim of his glass with a fingertip, glancing up at her hesitantly. "I don't suppose your zealousness had anything to do with me?"

It was Jean's turn to look confused. However, her confusion seemed to be mixed with a good deal of suspicion. "How do you mean?"

Reed shrugged and kept playing with his glass, still looking up at her every so often. "Well, in Decon you made a point of saying that none of us should have been forced into that situation, but just now you said that I, specifically, didn't need to be in that situation."

She bit her lip very lightly, and he wondered if that meant he was on the right track. "You didn't need to be, but what does that have to do with anything?"

He was looking at her steadily now and beginning to suspect that he was actually right about this. "You also said that hearing them 'brought to account' should have given me some satisfaction, and that I should have enjoyed 'seeing them squirm'. Jean, were you..." he shook his head, only half believing that he was having this conversation with someone. "Were you going for them on my behalf? As a sort of recompense for today?"

Jean looked away, as though suddenly finding the opposite wall very interesting. "I don't know what you're talking about, sir. I felt that they'd been stupid and reckless and it could've gotten us all killed. None of us should have been in that situation." When she looked back at him now, her eyes were fierce but slightly wet. "You especially."

Reed's eyes widened and his mouth hung open a tiny bit. It had been for his benefit. The realization came with a sudden rush of warm feeling. His mouth closed again and he began to smile. She wasn't the captain's pit bull, as she'd claimed, to be used when he didn't want to do the dressing down himself and really go for a crewman. That reasoning didn't work, since she'd included Archer's reckless and irresponsible idea in the scolding. She'd been trying to watch out for him even after they were safe again.

His smile grew. "Thank you… but you really shouldn't have done that." He cleared his throat, trying to sound formal, but was dismayed to find himself sounding officious. "It was inappropriate and you might have got into trouble."

She shook her head, smiling and not seeming at all put off by his by-the-book attitude. "Not with this captain. I've pretty much got the measure of him by now. He's a little bit of a pushover. Maybe you've noticed?"

Reed didn't want to grin, he really didn't. Maybe it was the vodka, maybe it was the friendly company, or maybe it was the fact that he'd thought the same thing about Archer more than once; that the captain was lax in a way which left him open to misuse by the crew – a tendency which unfortunately didn't extend to taking advice from his security officer – but Reed found that his face was being stretched in a wide smile worthy of Phlox. He stopped fighting it and asked, certain of the answer now, "so it was for me, or on my behalf, at least."

Jean shook her head, also failing to fight back a grin. "Sir, just shut up and drink your alcohol."

He raised his glass as though toasting her. "Yes ma'am."