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Oh, how I hate bloody Christmas.

This is supposed to be a properly-run ship, staffed by professionals. And, I'll give credit where it's due, for most of the time, it is. More or less. Though now and again, people who should know better apparently suffer some kind of amnesiac attack and use the slenderest excuse for totally inappropriate behaviour.

Easter, for instance. (And don't imagine for a moment that I've forgotten that prank with the bunny-tail, Commandah Tuckah. I've been biding my time, and yours will come. Just as soon as I find something totally and utterly humiliating enough to be worthy of the occasion of my revenge.) Bloody chocolate eggs proliferating all over the Bridge like some alien disease, and stupid fluffy yellow chicks perching on top of the helm station and simpering out of the dessert cabinet! While as for the bunny-ears! Just as well nobody did turn up in the Armoury wearing a pair. I suppose I should be thankful that the idea didn't occur to the captain. Though I'm sure any court-martial worth its salt would have agreed with me that that was provocation beyond anybody's endurance.

But Christmas. Christmas is worse.

It wouldn't be so bad if the symptoms of mania restrained themselves till Christmas Eve. I even could put up with Trip singing 'Please, Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas' at full volume outside my cabin door if it was only a forty-eight hour window of insanity.

Me? A kill-joy? Certainly not. I've done my Christmas shopping, thank you. A Reed is always prepared. And I'm sure Hoshi will really enjoy being slipped out of what I've bought her. (Er, computer, erase that last sentence. Way too much information. Got carried away for a moment.)

Christmas carols. *Sigh.* As soon as November's upon us I have to start factoring choir practice into the duty rosters because Captain Santa Claus says it's Good For Crew Morale. Well, it's not bloody good for my morale. I didn't pick my staff on the basis of how well they could sing!

And you can bet your bottom dollar that somebody will start wanting to play a musical instrument to accompany them – presumably something they had lessons on in school and haven't touched since. We had that with Crewman Andrews last year. Somebody (at a guess, somebody who couldn't tell B Flat from B Silent) had told the twit he had 'a touch' with the tenor sax. When I heard him practising with it in the cargo bay I thought Enterprise was under attack by a horde of castrated cats, and threw the ship into Tactical Alert on the spot. For God's sake, I'm the security officer. I ought to be notified when loud unusual noises are going to be produced.

Which leads me to the personnel problems.

There are regulations about the consumption of alcohol on board, which is only right and proper. This is a starship full of delicate instrumentation and complex matériel, and for some mysterious reason the people we run into out here aren't likely to be properly civilised about things like bloody Christmas. The last thing we need is half the crew hungover on the morning of December 25. What if a Bird of Prey turned up just to convey some special festive wishes in our direction? I can imagine it now. 'Sorry, captain, just keep them talking while I run down to the Armoury to load the torpedoes, my staff are feeling a bit off colour today.'

O God. And there'll be the party, of course. Oh yes. The party. And Trip will insist I turn up for it. Last year I did everything bar nail my cabin door shut and the bastard still got me down there. Haven't I mentioned already that I'm not a kill-joy? If they want to have parties they can have parties all day long, just include me off the guest list.

Now, you'd have thought T'Pol would be in my corner over this, wouldn't you? After all, if you were going to pick a planet where parties were not par for the course, at Christmas or any other time, then I defy you to produce a more viable candidate for the top spot than Vulcan. But no, Trip apparently produced some cock-and-bull story about the Conga being an ancient American cultural practice, and all the captain had to do was keep his face straight when he got her to practise the steps. I don't know how he did it, but he managed. That should raise a few eyebrows at the High Command if they ever get hold of the tapes... I don't know why it is, but T'Pol seems to believe every whopper Trip Tucker comes out with.

And party poppers. How often do I have to tell them not to let party poppers off right behind an armoury officer? And shouting 'Die, you Klingon dog!' is NOT a mitigating circumstance, whatever the captain said. Lax. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Discipline on this ship is Far Too Lax.

And I still don't know what Travis put in that punch last year. I only had a small glass just to be sociable (Trip again, blast him). Reeds – at least sober Reeds – do not dance on tables and consent to wear stupid hats. And making up an impromptu version of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is a long and venerable tradition in the Royal Navy, I'll have you know.

Which leads me to the mistletoe.

Now, I have no problems with the existence of mistletoe per se. A harmless enough plant, unless you happen to be an apple tree I suppose, and as its traditions go back to pre-Roman Britain I always regard it with a moderate feeling of approval. Due to a chronic and unavoidable shortage of apple trees in outer space it has to be synthetic of course, but it's still a touch of home, you might say. With its right and proper place in the scheme of things.

Yes. I said right and proper place. Not hung in bloody festoons all over the Mess Hall, so a chap can hardly move without being pounced on. And I blame it on the punch. Before I had that stuff I was perfectly professional in my behaviour; I treated the whole affair as an exercise in evading hostiles. Tactfully, of course. One is a gentleman, and a gentleman has to be tactful. I even remembered to practise restraint when I was kissing Hoshi. Towards the end of the evening, though...

Thank God I'm the security officer. I have access to the official recordings. Though Trip and his bloody photography are a different matter. Threatening to punch a senior officer's nose through the back of his head unless he hands over the evidence is not regarded as strictly professional behaviour in Starfleet.

Nor is sniggering in odd corners the day after, come to think of it, but there was more than enough of that going on.

Oh, and that reminds me. Memo to self: conduct experiments as a matter of urgency to see if it's possible to construct an EM field to contain giggles. There is a high degree of difficulty in maintaining a properly professional air of indignation at being serenaded by an inebriated Commandah Tuckah outside my cabin door when Hoshi will insist on giving the game away by giggling. The problem was, she was wriggling at the same time, and that was even less helpful as I recall. Well, not helpful insofar as sounding indignant went. It certainly helped in other departments.

Second memo to self: Send request to Captain Archer that Christmas be cancelled. I'm sure if I can dredge up some evidence of it being a threat to ship's security I can swing it.

Third memo to self: Cancel second memo. For reasons that totally escape me, Captain Archer regards the party as a Good Thing. And this 'Mister Paranoid' label he keeps attaching to me is getting really tiresome. Trip stuck a label saying 'Mount Crumpit' on my cabin door last year; even though I didn't know what it meant (and I still don't – it's something to do with some American excrescence called the Grunch or something), it appeared to cause unseemly amounts of amusement, to judge by the guffaws of passers-by before I snatched it off in righteous wrath and flushed it down the loo...

Fourth memo to self: Persuade Hoshi that the ship's 'sweet spot' is a far more interesting place to spend Christmas Eve in than the Mess Hall. Urgent sub-memo: circulate ship-wide warning that the sweet spot is strictly out of bounds for the duration of Christmas, and install security devices just in case anybody gets suspicious. I have enough bloody problems with Trip without Travis getting in on the act.

Fifth memo to self: cancel all previous memos. Just go down to Sickbay on December 1 and ask Phlox to sedate me till Boxing Day. Yes, I know I hate Sickbay as well, but there are some times a man just has to suffer.

Oh, and make that the second of January, Doctor. I've just remembered what comes a week after Christmas.

O God.


I hate bloody parties.

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