((This is my first Enterprise piece. Neither the characters nor the show belongs to me. I just enjoy it so much, I wanted to borrow them for a bit. They belong to Paramount.

Very minor spoilers. Takes place after Season One's 'Silent Enemy'.))

Happy Birthday

Reed groaned softly to himself, then crawled into the shaft once more. The phase cannons were driving him bloody crazy. In fact, the past 48 hours had been driving him bloody crazy. He was certain of his calculations. He'd double, triple, even quadruple checked them. Of course there was a risk that the feedback from the cannons would disrupt the engines. But there was an even larger chance of the Mutes (as he'd learned to call them), blowing them all back to Earth in now shot as space junk. And the only reason Commander "Keep-Your-Shirt-On" Tucker didn't see that was because he was so bloody obsessed with his engines. 'Just like I'm obsessed with my weapons,' he realized. Reed sighed softly as he continued to work on his calibrations. 'But the difference between you and Commander Tucker is that he has managed to stay away from his obsession long enough to make some friends on board,' the snide voice in his head said, as if lecturing him. 'When have you ever let your guard down long enough to make friends?' He thought back to the incident with Hoshi in the messhall. Someone tries to build a bridge of friendship with him, and what does he do? Find a way to blow it to pieces after the first three stones had been placed. He wondered idly what she thought of him now. 'She probably thinks you're a presumptuous pig, Malcolm,' the small voice told him. Shrugging it off, Reed climbed out of the shaft to check the status of the cannons. The monitor blinked some new information, catching his attention. His eyes never leaving the screen, he called out, "Commander Tucker? Our friends have returned." 'It's now or never.'

* * *

"Cheers," he echoed, as the three clinked the glasses. Malcolm took a drink from the glass, slightly surprised by the fact that it was good. Actually, considering his grumpy state earlier, everything was good, with one possible exception, but he didn't seriously expect anyone on board to know. At that moment the doors to the Armory opened, and Hoshi Sato strolled in, carefully carrying a rather large storage box. Reed felt his face redden slightly when she saw her, and hoping no one would notice, glanced quickly down at the ground. Thankfully, she had come in to speak with the captain, so he took another gulp from the glass to calm his nerves. 'Bloody hell. Why must I always be so nervous the moment a woman walks into the room?'

"While we have you here Malcolm..."

* * *

He was touched by the effort put in by the three officers, but he had the impression that Hoshi had done most of the work. Every time he asked them how they had found out, they snuck glances in Sato's direction and she was the one that responded with that vague "We have our sources." He wouldn't doubt that any longer. Reed knew that the cake was far too large for the four of them to finish, so he made the comment of putting it in the messhall for the rest of the crew to enjoy. The captain volunteered to do it, and after cutting out one more slice, Archer took it to the mess, with Tucker trailing him.

That left Malcolm alone with Hoshi. He cleared his throat before speaking. "Eh...Will you allow me to walk you to your quarters, Hoshi?" She smiled at him softly.

"I'd be honored, Lieutenant." He sighed almost imperceptibly...anyone else, he would've gotten away with it, but he spoke up before she could comment.

"I would like to give you my sincerest apologies about the...incident in the mess hall the other day. When we're off duty, I would be honored if you'd call me Malcolm." She looked up at him, surprise showing on her face.

"If that's what you'd like, Lieu--Malcolm."

Reed felt a slight pang of disappointment as they reached her quarters. "This is my stop," she told him unnecessarily.

"Right. Well, in any case, I would like to thank you directly for the surprise. I just hope it wasn't too much of a bother." A playful smile formed on her face.

"Whatever bother it was, it was well worth it to see the smile on your face." Quickly, she walked over to him and standing on her toes, pecked him on the cheek. As she entered her quarters, she looked back at him. "Speaking of which, you should smile more often. You have a great smile." Then, giving him a small smile of her own at his immobility, she spoke once more. "Happy Birthday, Malcolm."