Title: Dress Blues (a.k.a. Because Rita Asked)
Author: Kim Q
Rating: PG
Length: Vignette
Flavor: sentimental

Author's Notes: This is a companion piece to "Anticipation" but is best read after that story. Edited photo that inspired this is at the bottom of the page, but it's really Rita's fault. <g> Very slightly edited from the posting on the Sub Pen.

"Are you sure this is really necessary, Katie?" Lt. Commander Chip Morton, XO of the fantastic submarine Seaview, grumbled as he struggled with the unruly strip of white fabric. His normally nimble fingers seemed to have lost the capacity to tie a simple knot! Giving up the fight he glowered at the smirking honey blonde who had talked him into this blasted monkey suit.

Fortunately, Katie Doyle, N.I.M.R.'s Director of Administration and head of Special Projects, was completely impervious to the laser blue glare. Reaching up with a steady hand to tame the stubborn silk, she carefully settled the bowtie neatly into place above the crisp white shirt. "You said you wanted to make this memorable, right?"

"Yes, but I feel stupid! Why can't I just wear my dress whites? They're fancy enough!"

The former ONI agent suppressed a smile at the plaintive note in Chip's voice. Though the man was a battle-tested naval officer of unquestioned skill and courage, at the moment he sounded like a ten year old. "Chip, you were going to take Kaia out to dinner at La Chanteuse followed by the Woman's League Valentines Gala before the new mission threw off your plans, right?"

"Well, yes, but..."

"Dinner dress blues would have been perfectly appropriate for such an elegant evening and you know it!" Katie brushed a minute speck of dust off an otherwise pristine dark blue lapel and tweaked Chip's rebellious collar into submission.

"But you and Angie are supposed to make sure she gets this recorded proposal during the morning of the 14th! Not the evening! What if Admiral Nelson sees me? Or worse..." Chip's voice dropped to a horrified whisper. "...Lee! Do you know how he'd rag on me?"

"You know very well that Admiral Nelson is at a briefing in Washington," Katie said, raising one elegant eyebrow at Chip's uncharacteristic worrying. "And Lee is using his rare day off to work on his Cobra with Commander Montgomery. Once Lee and Jimmy* get to talking cars they'll be occupied for hours! You've got plenty of time to record this, change back into your khakis and hide the evidence."

"I suppose you're right." Chip sighed in resignation, nervously adjusting the miniature medals that hung on the breast of the formal jacket.

Katie smiled indulgently at the fretting man. Only close friends ever got a glimpse of the very human man hiding behind the mask of extreme efficiency worn by Seaview’s exec and she considered herself very fortunate to be in that select circle. That friendship had been an unexpected but very welcome side benefit of her growing romantic relationship with Lee. Chip had ended up becoming a surrogate older brother, complete with teasing and the occasional insight into the proper care and feeding of one Lee Benjamin Crane.

Just as Chip was finally starting to relax, fiddling around with the recording equipment set up in the conference room and adjusting the microphone, a knock at the door made him nearly jump out of his perfectly polished black dress shoes. "Who could that be? No one is supposed to know about this!"

"Settle down, Chip. That's just Angie. I know by her knock."

"You have secret knocks?!" The bewildered look on Chip's face almost caused Katie to lose it completely.

Fortunately for Katie's composure, Admiral Nelson's raven haired executive secretary stepped into the room, quickly closing the door. Catching sight of the exquisitely elegant exec in full dinner dress blues, Angie froze for a long moment. "Oh my...!"

Seeing the most peculiar look on Angie's face, Chip began to panic. "I knew it! I look stupid! I should change..."

Angie picked her jaw back up off the floor and took a deep calming breath. The poor man was so nervous! "Chip, you look anything but stupid. Trust me." She grinned impishly up at the tall exec. "Stunning, handsome beyond all reason, perhaps, but not stupid." Turning her attention to the memo pad in her hand, she graciously gave the blushing blond a moment to recover.

"Now, I've got the name and number of the florist...you wanted a dozen red roses, right?" At his confirming nod she continued down her checklist. "Okay. The conference room has been booked for the entire morning...Katie will be setting up the video and TV...the ring box and your letter are locked in my secure drawer. I just need to know when you want everything delivered."

"Oh nine hundred should be fine, Angie."

"Oh nine hundred it is then!" With an air of satisfaction, Angie jotted one last note then tucked her pen into the spiral of her memo pad.

"Ladies..." Chip said earnestly, his expressive blue eyes reflecting his deep gratitude. "I don't know how I can ever thank..."

Katie held up a hand to forestall any more words. "No thanks necessary, Chip. That's what friends are for. Besides..." Her eyes sparkled with mischief. "It's not that often we get a mission on behalf of Cupid instead of the ONI!" At his amused snort, she reached out and gently poked his arm. "Just don't forget to change back into your khakis. If you go out of this room looking like that, the productivity levels of the steno pool may never recover!"

Another charming flood of red crept up the neck of the fair haired exec, causing the two women to exchange wicked smiles as they headed out of the conference room. Just as they were about to quietly shut the door, their smiles turned sentimental as they heard Chip begin to speak, his voice warmer and deeper than they had ever heard before. "Hello, Kaia..."

With happy grins, the co-conspirators left him to his future.


*Susan Flannery played the fake Edith Nelson in "Traitor" and was referred to as an 'intelligence operative'. She also played Katie No-Last-Name in "Time Bomb" and seemed to have an inordinate knowledge of espionage so I've made Katie the Director of Special Projects at NIMR and gave her the last name of Doyle from my Irish ancestry.
*Commander James Montgomery, USN (ret), head of N.I.M.R.'s Marine Support & Repair Facilities, is my little tribute to James Doohan who played Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery Scott on Star Trek.

© 2008 Kim Q. All Rights Reserved