Ladies' Night Out

by Peanut

Okay, so it seems like I'm on a short "fun-fluff" run. I'm working on the more complex stuff, I promise, but these little guys keep on biting! Enjoy!

It had been a long workday for Erika Slate. Not only did she spend hours reconfiguring the main database, but Donovan had managed to fry the hard drive in one of the labs. Naturally he had blamed her, and she was left cleaning up after him once again. Finally finishing her last calculation, she wearily sat back in her chair and looked at her watch. She was shocked to see that it was nearly ten at night. Grabbing her coat, she turned off the office light and headed out the door.

*That man,* she thought angrily as she walked down the quiet hallway. Donovan's ineptitude had managed to keep her after work every day this week. Attempting to ease her frustration, she began thinking up different ways of dismembering him. Chainsaws were dancing through her head when a noise from inside one of the labs caught her attention. She stopped at the door and peeked inside, her heart racing in the hope that it was Lieutenant Hunter. Instead she saw Jo hauling a large metallic disk toward a container on the floor.

"Hey, Jo. Late night?"

Jo started and turned around. "Oh, hey, Doctor Slate." She set the piece down and wiped the sweat off her face. "Yeah, I needed to stop at Quark for some parts for the Big Guy. I'm just finishing up now, finally. You must be exhausted as well." She turned back around and lifted the machinery part almost effortlessly.

Erika was rather tired. However, as she watched Jo she realized how little time she had spent getting to know her since they met a year ago. "Actually, I'm feeling rather spontaneous. Want to grab a drink somewhere?"

Jo settled the disc into its container and grinned. "Wow, Doc, I didn't know you had it in you. Why not? I know a really great place nearby."

Jo's recommendation was only a couple of blocks from Quark. She guided Erika to a small brick building with a neon sign on the front flashing the word "Rowley's". Erika opened the door and they walked into a smoky and dark bar. Jazz music played softly in the background. A sign inside proclaimed it was Ladies' Night and as a result the place was filled with women. The bartender, a ruggedly handsome man, looked up as they entered and waved enthusiastically at Jo.

"Hey, Ed," Jo said, winking at him. "Two of my usuals."

The women sank into a cozy booth in the corner and Ed brought over two beers. Erika's reserved attitude quickly vanished due to the bar's relaxed atmosphere and Jo's easygoing demeanor. They started listing their assorted complaints against Donovan and the conversation became more personal as the drinks disappeared. Soon they were exchanging gossip and laughing hysterically.

"So his commanding officer mistook him for a woman?" Erika gasped between fits of laughter.

"Yep," Jo said, wiping away the tears in her eyes. "Don't tell Dwayne I told you this. He'd kill me."

"Dwayne in a dress. Doesn't sound too flattering."

"Erika, with a body like his I bet he could make even a dress look good."

Erika didn't doubt it. Dwayne kept in perfect shape and she had always admired his figure. Recently she had even been sneaking glances at him during meetings to help pass the time.

Flushing, she changed the subject. "He's so great with Rusty. That man has infinite patience when it comes to him."

"Yep, I've seen him sit in Big Guy and talk to Rusty for hours," Jo said. "I don't know how he does it. I can only stand a few minutes with the kid. No offense," she hastily added.

"None taken. Even I feel the same way sometimes, yet Dwayne never seems to need a break."

Jo leaned back and smiled. "Just when you think there aren't any good men left."

"He's handsome, brave, sensitive, and wickedly funny," Erika said, ticking the points off on her fingers. "What is he, an alien?" She laughed and grabbed her glass.

"Yeah, what a guy," Jo sighed looking upward. She started as if from a dream and looked at her companion enviously. "Too bad he only has eyes for you."

Erika was in the middle of finishing her drink and she choked on the last bit. "Really?"

"What are you, blind?" Jo shrieked.

"How come he hasn't said anything to me? Or asked me out?"

Jo rolled her eyes. "Trust me. I've seen him stumble around with women before. The more he likes them, the less likely he is to say anything about it." She turned to signal Ed and ordered two more beers.

Erika paused thoughtfully. "He did seem rather stiff when we went to the Shareholders' Ball. I thought he was just concerned about that blob reappearing."

"Nope. It was because he was so close to you. He had a smile on his face for days afterwards. Garth and Mack teased him so much he turned bright red and threatened to toss them overboard."

"Hmm. Interesting."

Ed walked over with the drinks. He set them down and paused to dart a glance at Jo. She smiled at him. "Thanks, Ed." He returned the smile and went back to the bar. Jo went on. "Besides, he gave you a personal Big Guy signal activator. He doesn't just hand those out like candy."

Erika pulled out the device from around her neck and eyed it like it was a diamond necklace. She turned to Jo with a tipsy grin on her face. "All I have to do is hit this switch, and he'll come running," she boasted. Suddenly, her hand slipped and hit the activator button.

"Erika, you set it off!" Jo cried, stifling a laugh and trying to be serious. "Quick! Hit the cancellation switch!"

Erika fumbled with the unit for a few seconds before managing to hit the proper button. She blushed with embarrassment. "Whew. Do you think anyone noticed?"

"I doubt it. It was only on for a few seconds. I bet our computer didn't even register it."

"You're right. Dwayne is probably in his quarters sound asleep."

"Ah, now that's an image..." Jo started mischievously.

She was interrupted by the beep of Erika's cell phone. Perplexed by who would call her at this hour, Erika flipped it open and held it up to her ear. "Hello?"

She was startled to hear Dwayne's voice on the other end. "Hey, Doc, I saw your signal go off. Is there a problem?"

"Um, no." She paused and held her hand over the mouthpiece. "It's Dwayne," she loudly whispered. Jo covered her mouth to suppress a laugh. Erika choked down a snicker and she turned her attention back to the phone. "Nothing you couldn't fix, Lieutenant," she purred. Jo leaned her head back and roared with laughter.

There was a long pause on the other end. Erika could picture Dwayne's confused expression as he tried to figure out exactly what was going on. "Is that Jo? Where are you?"

"At some bar." Erika answered nonchalantly. "Apparently, it's one of Jo's favorite hangouts."

"You mean Rowley's?"

"Exactly. Tonight is Ladies' Night."

"Ah," Dwayne replied, apparently understanding the situation. "Are you sure you're all right? Do you want me to come down there?"

Erika thought about this. Part of her desperately wanted Dwayne to come down and sit next to her while another part insisted that she had no idea what to do once he got there. Besides, what if Jo was wrong? What if he didn't have feelings for her? She would end up making a complete fool of herself. "Thanks for the offer, but we're doing just fine. I'll let you know if we have any more...problems."

He laughed. "Well, if I'm not needed, then let me wish you ladies a good night."

"Goodnight, Lieutenant," Erika said and hung up. "Poor guy," she said, embarrassed. "He just wanted to make sure I was fine and here we are laughing at him."

Jo snorted. "Your signal goes off for five seconds and he's ready to come and save you." She shook her head. "You've definitely got him under your spell. Why didn't you invite him down here?"

"I...don't know," Erika faltered.

"Come on, take a risk!" Jo said. "What you need to do is grab him and...." She stopped as Ed again approached their table, wiping a glass with his towel.

"Anything else for tonight, ladies?" he asked, his eyes solely on Jo.

"I think we just need the bill," Jo said, looking at Erika for confirmation. Ed nodded and left.

"Talk about being under someone's spell," Erika said, indicating Ed. After all the grief she had received tonight she was thrilled to finally turn the tables on Jo.

Jo grinned, undaunted. "Yeah, but unlike you, I'm going to do something about it." She got up and walked over to where Ed was standing, striking up a conversation. A minute later, he wrote down something on a napkin -- his number, no doubt. Jo returned to the table with the napkin held up in triumph. "Stick with me, Erika, and I'll teach you the tricks of the trade. He'll be yours in no time at all."

Erika pictured herself working up the nerve to ask Dwayne out and blushed fiercely. She wished she had Jo's confidence with men. A beep sounded and a piece of paper was ejected from a slot on the table. Erika grabbed the check before Jo could respond. "This night's on me."

Jo leaned back and waved. "Fine by me. You're the one with the big salary, remember?" She halfheartedly hid a yawn and stretched.

Erika eyed the bill and instantly paid it by waving her credit chip over it. The women gathered their items and rose out of the booth. With a final wave to Ed, they left the bar and stepped out into the crisp night air.

Pulling on her coat, Erika looked over at her companion. "Jo, we should do this more often."


Arm in arm, they walked off into the night.


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