I wrote this piece in about two hours. I have no idea where it came from and quite frankly, if I did, I’d be too embarrassed to say.

Thanks to Fidelma and Rita for the beta.

The Explanation

Sharon H.


Charles Philip Morton felt his heart hammering in his chest and fine beads of sweat were popping out across his forehead. He was willing to swear the temperature in the room was a sweltering 105 degrees and he wanted desperately to shed his heavy khaki jacket but the ice blue eyes staring at him had him pinned in his tracks and he could not move.

Admiral Harriman Nelson, Chip’s employer and friend, was standing by Chip’s desk. Sitting on top of the desk was a small green and white shopping bag with the name of a rather upscale boutique printed on the side. The contents were half drawn out of the bag, the green silk and lace creation held up in the hands of the man now aiming the icy glare at the executive officer.

The item in question was a nightgown, picked out by Chip as a gift for the current lady in his life, one Serena Harrison - who also happened to be, among other things - Harriman Nelson’s only child. Chip would never have considered something like this as a gift before, but Serena had actually picked it out as they were wandering around downtown one weekend. Her favorite color was green and she had spotted it in a display window. It was a week before Valentine’s Day, and with Serena scheduled to head to southern Florida for three weeks, Chip had gone back and made the purchase, intending on surprising her after dinner this evening.

What Chip hadn’t counted on was the admiral finding the lacy design. And now Nelson was watching him, looking for an explanation--an explanation that centered on Chip’s intentions toward his daughter. Considering the nature of the item in question, Morton’s plans for his boss’s offspring were painfully obvious.

Nelson cleared his throat, holding up the emerald green gown for Morton to see. Not that Chip didn’t know what his purchase looked like, but having Nelson display it was a little unnerving for the blond. “Mister Morton, would you care to explain yourself?”

Chip swallowed, his throat feeling as dry as Death Valley. “Ah, well, you see, sir. Serena and I, we—we were walking around last weekend, downtown. I’ve been busy with the refit, Serena was working on the Florida project and this was the first down time we’d had in a few weeks.”

Nelson continued to stare, his eyes like points of blue flame. Chip wanted to melt into the floor but he stayed as solid as the moment he found the admiral with the gift bag. He had left it beside his desk, thinking no one would bother with it. Only he hadn’t considered a visit by the admiral while he was out of the office. He must have gotten curious. I should have left it in the car. What was I thinking, bringing it to my office? I am so dead. The admiral is going to skin me alive. I’ll be lucky to make it out of here in one piece.

Chip was still pinned by Nelson’s electric blue gaze. The admiral was clearly waiting for a complete answer. Morton felt like he was ten years old, caught with his hand in the cookie jar ten minutes before dinner. He fought not to fidget, flashing back to Plebe Summer.

The admiral continued to stare, waiting for his answer.

“We were wandering down the street and we walked by this one shop and Serena saw that…that…” Chip’s words trailed off as his voice failed him. He was simply unable to say the word nightgown to his employer—Serena’s father.

The admiral held the item up, turning it to face him, his eyes going over the fine lace on the bodice. Slowly he dropped silk and lace garment back into the gift bag. “The word is negligee, Mister Morton. I know perfectly well what it is.”

“Ah, yes, sir. Well, she saw it in the window and, you know Serena, sir, she loves the color green. And I thought, well, I mean…that is, she won’t be home for Valentine’s Day and we haven’t exactly had much time together lately and I… ah…she really liked that…negligee, sir.”

Nelson continued to glare. There was the slightest twitch in the muscle of his cheek as he pinned the younger man with his gaze. Chip felt like a fish in one of the admiral’s specimen tanks. He swallowed again, trying to dislodge the knot in his throat.

“Mister Morton, I am fully aware that my daughter’s favorite color happens to be emerald green. I am also aware that you happen to find my daughter attractive in the color green. I am also completely aware that, while you intend for my daughter, my only child, to wear your gift to her, I am also completely aware that your final objective is to separate my only daughter from whatever attire you find her in, regardless of the nature or color of that attire.”

Chip was silently begging for the floor to open up and swallow him whole. Where was an alien invasion when you needed one? Wasn’t this the point where the mad scientist should burst through the door to announce his scheme for world domination? Where was the hideous mutant monster? Chip simply could not find the words to answer his employer. How does one explain that, yes, his primary objective was to get his boss’s daughter into the same undressed state that she entered this world in?

“Perhaps you misunderstood me, Mister Morton. I asked you a question.”

“Yes, sir, you asked me to explain myself.”

“Yes. I’d like an explanation as to why you are here, in your office, at seven o’clock at night when I happen to know that there is a lovely young lady out there who would more than welcome your company on the night before she leaves town for three weeks.”

Chip stopped breathing as the admiral’s words sank in. Like water soaking into the dry sponge, Chip understood that his career was not about to come to a grinding halt and he was not going to be chopped up for fish food. He felt a grin beginning to spread over his face, a grin that the admiral mirrored.

“Ah, yes, sir. I’ll just…that is, I’ll be going now…”

“Oh, Chip…” Nelson began and Morton froze.


“Don’t forget this.” Nelson held out the gift bag by its handles, extending it toward Morton. Tentatively Chip accepted the bag and carefully backed toward the door.

Nelson couldn’t help the smile. “And, Chip?”

“Yes, sir?” Morton managed to squeak, two steps away from escaping.

“Have a pleasant evening.”

Chip felt his heart summersault, fall into the pit of his stomach, and then catapult back into his chest. “Yes, sir. I will, sir, ah…thank you, sir.”

Nelson had to force himself not to burst out laughing. “Dismissed, Commander.”

“Yes, sir,” Chip managed and he vanished out the door. Nelson wasn’t sure he even bothered to open it. Maybe he oozed under the crack between the door and the floor. Harriman began to chuckle. Softly at first, then picking volume until he was laughing so hard he had to sit down in the nearest chair.

“Admiral?” Lee Crane’s concerned voice called out to Nelson from the doorway. He was on his way out for the evening and passed Chip’s office as he headed for the stairs. He wasn’t expecting to find Admiral Nelson laughing his four stars plum off in Chip’s office.

Nelson wiped his eyes, still watering, and glanced up at Lee. “I’m fine, really, Lee. It’s just not often I can catch our esteemed executive officer off-center. While I don’t much like to take advantage of someone, I have to admit, that was fun.”

“Ah, sir?” Lee was clearly confused. Chip wasn’t even in the room. What on earth had the admiral done that had him laughing so hard he was red in the face?

Nelson scrambled to his feet and walked toward Lee, clapping him on the back as he headed for the door. “The next time you see Chip, ask him if he found anything revealing about his weekend.”

Lee watched as Nelson walked out of Chip’s office, still chuckling. “Must be a genius thing,” Lee muttered as he quietly followed his employer, fully intending to get to the bottom of whatever Nelson found so darn funny.