Summary: (2268) - Scotty gets sent on an unorthodox mission.
Categories: Original Series Characters: Kirk, James T., McCoy, Leonard (Bones), Scott, Montgomery (Scotty)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Friendship, Het
Warnings: Adult Situations
Series: Arc of the Wolf: Uncategorized, Arc of the Wolf
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes
Word count: 7277 Read: 4761
Published: 16 May 2013 Updated: 16 May 2013
1. Chapter 1 by SLWalker
2. Chapter 2 by SLWalker
3. Chapter 3 by SLWalker
"You do realize it could be a trap, don't you?"
"Aye," Scotty answered, drawing it out in amusement.
McCoy was not amused. "And that this is highly unorthodox?"
"Ye sound a wee bit like Mister Spock, Doctor."
McCoy's face twisted into pure sour lemons, and he crossed his arms, 'hrrmphing' in the back of his throat. Scotty, in the meantime, just triple checked to make sure he was armed, dressed accordingly and otherwise looked the part -- five o'clock shadow, civilian clothes and an actual holstered phaser at his hip. Subterfuge wasn't really his strong point, and this really was a rather unorthodox mission he was going on, but he was the best man for the job. Therefore, he would go, meet the contact, retrieve the prototype for the shield-busting projectile, and come back to the ship.
"You look like a freebooter."
Scotty looked down at himself, then back up again. "Aye, that's sort o' the point."
As if on cue, Captain Kirk came in. Not too surprisingly, he looked disgruntled that he wasn't the one who was going planetside. But over the past few years, the captain had made enough of a reputation for himself that he would be a little too recognizable.
Well, that and he wasn't an engineer.
"Are you ready, Mister Scott?" he asked, fists on his hips.
"Aye, sir," Scott answered, formally, then went up and stood on the platform. "Retrieve the device, verify its authenticity, rendezvous with my Starfleet contact at the shuttleport and meet ye at Cynan II's Federation consulate within twenty-four hours. If all goes accordin' to plan."
"Right. We'll be there for seventy-two hours, if it doesn't."
Kirk nodded, then looked at Kyle, "I'll signal when it's time to energize. Make it quick."
Lieutenant Kyle nodded back. "Yes, sir."
The world resolved from gold sparkling to downright grimy reality.
The Enterprise being in orbit of Cynan III would have tripped alarms below amongst the freebooters, so the plan was made to have the Enterprise harass some ship under cover of a safety-check -- something that was within their realm of authority -- and then meander away, looking for all the world like a big, slow policeman who only bothered for the sake of being petty. The window of opportunity was only about ten minutes, long enough to confirm paperwork and run a not-particularly indepth scan, and then she would continue to her destination.
Ten minutes was more than enough to drop her Chief Engineer into a deserted back alley.
The truth be told, Scotty would have rather stayed on the Enterprise in most circumstances. He didn't shy away from going planetside, but he didn't really revel in it, either. But this time was, admittedly, different. Therefore, he couldn't feel too put out by it.
The city of Kriptr was dark in the night, and the residential buildings rose up high on either side of him, some windows lit, some dark. Underfoot was the damp cobblestone alley, and he could smell the street-vendors cooking in the market just down the next block and a half.
Even at this hour, the festive yellow and orange lights and various strains of music carried, setting off the green sort of cast of old stone and industrial concrete and time.
It wasn't exactly his scene, but it wasn't exactly not his scene, either. Not something Scott could quite explain to anyone, at least not aloud, but he got them, the people who lived here. Hell, if not for a handful of different decisions in his early life, he might have ended up one of them eventually.
For the large part, they were people who worked for a living, regardless of on which side of the law, and he could respect that. They lived hard, played hard, and aye, some died hard. But even amidst the freebooters who made up this city's underbelly, there were families -- mothers, fathers, children -- of any number of Federation species. Beyond the freebooters were regular merchants and cafe-owners and school teachers and powerless bureaucrats, and above them all, the benevolent Federation, too far away to hold much sway out here.
Scotty shook his head to himself, and headed for the market; alert for muggers, of which there no doubt were, but not particularly worried. The old-style phaser at his hip wasn't his only weapon; the new one inside of his coat was another, and beyond that, he had his fists if he needed them.
The market was chaotic, but it didn't take him too long to find the cafe he was looking for. He couldn't actually pronounce the name of it, but he could recognize the sign, anyway, and that was good enough. Once he was through the doors, he was sure he was in the right place.
There were a handful of humans, a couple of Denobulans, a Caitian and a Kzinti male in an argument. They all paused in their conversations for a moment to eye him, then went back to what they were doing. Which was pretty much exactly what he wanted.
Scotty weaved his way through the narrow spaces between tables up to the counter, where a harried looking Rigellian slammed down some silverware and a glass of debatable cleanliness. "What?"
Friendly sort, Scotty thought. "I'm lookin' for Neva," he just said, leaning on the counter casually.
The Rigellian narrowed his eyes briefly, then held out his hand. Once he had the slip of platinum and checked its maker's mark, he nodded his head towards the door around behind the counter. "Through there."
Bribing people wasn't exactly new. Despite Cynan III being a Federation world, platinum went a whole lot further than credits did.
At least it was the Federation's money he was spending.
Scotty just shrugged to himself and headed around the counter, into the back. A little surprised, frankly, that there wasn't any checking of his credentials -- all the effort Security went to in order to make him a regular terran ID without Starfleet encoding apparently was going to go to waste.
The room he walked into looked sort of hastily moved into, but his observation there lasted all of two seconds before his mouth went very dry and he felt his heart start beating a lot harder than he thought it would on this trip.
I'm in trouble.
She was definitely not the kind of contact he was expecting.
"Sorry, habit," she said, one eyebrow going up, smirking. "I'm guessing, given the look on your face, you're not here for the usual reasons."
Scotty had a fair idea right then what the usual reasons were, and shook his head, not quite able to get his mouth working just yet. He felt a little like a bomb had gone off right behind his eyes, and out front, he could hear the Caitian and the Kzinti go from arguing to an all-out brawl. Despite that, he couldn't really tear his eyes off of the Orion woman in front of him.
"It'll go away in a few minutes," she said, smirking even more broadly. She held out her hand. "I'm Neva. And I need your ID." A beat. "The real one."
"Scott," he said, trying to blink off the pheromones that had him sweating and a little twitchy, digging his regular Starfleet ID out of his coat's inside pocket and handing it over. "Sorry, I wasn't expectin'..."
"Obviously." She shifted his ID to her other hand, and used the first to shake his -- her skin was warm, and soft -- and then let go and inspected his ID, before handing it back over. Then she just turned around and moved into the room beyond that one, the fringe of her outfit set swaying by her hips. "Come on."
Scotty huffed out a breath through his nose, following. "A bit of a risky disguise, isn't it?"
Neva turned around, then grinned -- it tugged on his heartstrings where the smirk didn't -- and then upnodded. "Let me see... former Orion slave girl turned prostitute? Can you think of a better disguise, Starfleet?"
She had a point. He conceded it with a shake of his slowly clearing head.
"Have you got the payment?" she asked, as she turned back to her chest of drawers.
After another moment of trying to drag his mind back on task, Scotty nodded. "Aye. Have ye got the package?"
"Of course." She pulled a box out; deceptive box, if what was in it turned out to be real. "So, tell me: Why an engineer and not security?"
Scott started pulling bars of platinum out of pretty much every pocket of the coat that wasn't occupied with a phaser, setting them on the small table off to the side. Despite himself, he had to grin back at her. "I spent not quite ten years as Captain Pike's chief engineer."
Neva's eyebrows went up, and she grinned again, sudden and bright and wide as she stepped over to the table, setting the box down on it. "I know that name. Then again, I don't think there's anyone in the Syndicate that doesn't. And how is the great enemy of Orion trade these days?"
Must not have heard the news. Scotty shook his head as he set the last bar of platinum on the table, offering her a rueful smile. "Hopefully livin' a good dream."
"That bad?" she asked, her face falling.
How exactly this woman made him feel like he was talking to an old friend was beyond him, but there was no particular reason to keep that from her. She was a Federation citizen, it wasn't as if she couldn't look up the information herself. "He was in an accident." Even a couple years after getting that news, it still felt like being kicked right in the gut to think of it. Scotty took a deep breath, and let it back out slow and measured. "Ended up injured savin' a cadet crew, took a massive dose o' delta ray radiation. He lived, if ye could really call it that." Thank all merciful for Spock's plan.
Neva winced, and reached out to pat his shoulder. "I'm sorry. He was legendary. They would curse him in one breath and praise him in the next."
"Aye." There honestly wasn't much more Scott could find to say about it. Pike had a particular penchant for going after the Syndicate, and after Article 1 was ratified, they had a period of a few glory years where it seemed that was the Enterprise's specialty. Oh, plenty of exploration, too, but anytime the chance came up to shake down a supposed Orion cargo carrier under even the most flimsy of lawful pretense, Pike took it. He had an uncanny eye for smugglers, and used it.
Scotty estimated there were probably thousands of Orion slaves, in the end, who were freed in those years, and most of them by Captain Pike.
Not even that long ago. But it was a different world, anyway.
"Speaking of the Syndicate," Neva said, stepping over to open the box, "they will probably miss this."
"Aye?" Scotty asked, pushing the pile of platinum bars over. "Mind if I...?"
"Have a look, Starfleet." She pushed the box over, then stepped around him to start checking and counting the platinum.
It wasn't easy to ignore her brushing past him, but thankfully the box provided a good distraction. Scotty lifted the device out, and immediately he could see that it very likely was authentic.
There had been scuttlebutt about the possibility of one of the usual suspects coming up with a device that, when loaded into a projectile weapon, could scramble Starfleet shields. Not only would they have the explosive power, but they'd be able to punch through defenses like a bullet through butter before detonation. It was a compact thing; processors, and what looked like an energy converter. From what he could see, it would basically use a torpedo's power to create an energy field meant to cause the scrambling effect necessary. Provided they input the right values, anyway; doubtless somewhere, right now, a spy was gathering just that information.
Scotty figured that technological cold wars had probably been around since the first caveman came out with the wheel, and they weren't going to stop anytime soon. He also knew enough about such things to know that Neva had just put a massive spanner right into the works of whoever came up with this.
It was very distinctly Orion in design, as well. Scotty knew what Orion design looked like; another bonus of working under Captain Pike's command was a number of commandeered ships, and all of the time in the world to take them apart, reverse engineer, and then share his findings with all and sundry at headquarters. More than a few times, the good captain -- an engineer himself -- would come and help.
"I think we've got ourselves a deal," he said, shaking off the melancholy enough to grin at her.
Neva grinned back. "I think you're--"
And that was when everything exploded.
There weren't all that many ways to react to an explosion.
Thankfully, Scotty knew most of them by instinct, and apparently, so did Neva.
He was grabbing the device off of the table and shoving it into a handy pocket, even as she grabbed hold of the nearest handbag and arm-shoveled the platinum into it, and all of that before the ringing had fully faded from his ears. Whatever it was that blew up was further back in the building, and neither of them wanted to hang about and find out who decided to come calling.
"Where you followed?!" she hissed, making for the opposite direction of the explosion, which just happened to be the front door.
"No! Friends o' yers?!" he hissed right back, following and pulling the phaser off his hip to cover their retreat.
"I sure hope not," she muttered, shoving past the Rigellian, who was yelling in his native at her.
Everyone else was conspicuously absent. Whether they were in on it, or just in on something and not wanting caught up in something else, Scotty didn't know and didn't care.
They burst out into the market, and then Neva reached back, grabbed his wrist and started dragging him through the crowd; he barely had time to reholster his phaser before he was going along for the ride.
The market didn't appear to take much notice to the chaos left back at the cafe. The crowds were lighter, though, than they had been. Neva seemed to know where she was going, which was more than Scotty could claim; he had studied the maps, but he couldn't compare to someone who lived there.
Even so, he was sort of surprised when she dragged him back behind a market stall, then crouched down.
As far as Scotty was concerned, they were still far too close to whomever decided to try to blow them to smithereens, but the minute he went to tell her that -- quietly, mind -- she clapped a hand over his mouth and whispered in his ear, "If it's my friends and not yours, they're going to be in more than one place."
Working with Neva was going to be a trial. Even being quite effectively shut up, her scent was enough to immediately make at least two-thirds of his nerve endings spark to life and make him feel heady. Especially that close up. Adding in the adrenaline, and Scotty was proud of himself for being coherent, let alone capable of action. Albeit dizzy-feeling action. He managed to wrench his head to the side, whispering back, "I know I wasn't followed."
"Pity," she answered, on a breath.
It probably was a pity. The only people who could have possibly followed him would have been Starfleet. Her, on the other hand -- the entire Orion Syndicate, all of whom would be very, very displeased about that device falling into the wrong hands.
Scratch the probably. It absolutely was a pity.
"Gotta plan?" he asked, at some short length.
Neva peeked her head around the corner, taking in the crowd. After a moment, she pulled back. "Follow me, and don't get distracted."
Scotty nodded, resolutely, but he couldn't help his next thought:
I'm in a lot o' trouble.
The plan, shared over two blocks and a couple of alleys, was to make it to the subway and then take a train to the city center, and they would then try to catch a taxi and reach the spaceport above ground, where they were less likely to get ambushed. But if they really were surrounded, then going to the nearest, easiest to reach subway station might be suicidal, so they had to go out of their way. Then, the additional problem with that plan was that it left them exposed on the surface until they did reach the other station, and while there was ample cover, they were still dangerously visible.
The market was the easiest place to hide, in the crowd, but it was also the most obvious. Especially given where they left from.
That was how they ended up in the likewise busy clubbing district, some six blocks later, and how Scotty ended up with the exceptionally warm arm of an Orion woman inside of his coat, around his waist, making it absolutely clear why Neva had admonished him not to get distracted. Because no matter how much he didn't want to get blown up, or take disruptor fire, or how much he did want to get to the spaceport and meet his contact, there was just no way not to get distracted by that, and by the scent of her hair, and the silky smooth of the skin on her shoulder, where his arm rested around her, and--
--she pinched him in the side hard enough to make him yelp. "Don't. Get. Distracted."
"Ow," Scotty protested back, vehemently and maybe, honestly, a wee bit petulantly. "That's easy for you to say."
Neva scoffed, but she patted his side where she'd pinched him. "Don't knock yourself, Starfleet, it's not that easy."
Well, that was enough to make him blink and forget about the pinch. He raised his eyebrows. "Really?"
Neva smirked, the sort that was hiding a grin, and didn't look over. "Don't let it get to your head, either."
"Ye say a lot o' 'don't', if ye haven't noticed," he said, but only after he failed to stop himself from grinning.
"Men. What can I say?" She wove them expertly between couples, out partying and some of them quite drunk. "Just act natural, and we'll both try not to get distracted."
Easier said than done, but Scotty could honestly find no complaint with that.
They survived boarding the subway, and while they didn't let their guards down, it was still a relief. Most of the riders were party-goers heading home, or shift workers headed out to work the graveyard shift, and Neva was the only Orion on the train. Not that the Syndicate couldn't afford to hire assassins of other species, but that was probably less likely.
At least, Scotty hoped so.
Neva crossed her arms, leaning back in the ratty seat, and Scotty just absently scraped at old marker graffiti on the long faded steel of a window pane with a nail. Outside, in the darkness, occasionally a green light would flash past.
"How long have ye been out?" he asked, watching bits of marker flake off against his thumbnail.
Neva looked over; in the harsh white lights of the subway car, she still looked beautiful. But older. Probably fairly close to his own age, he guessed; her hair was raven, still, and with hints of green and violet, like the wings of birds, and her eyes were startlingly blue, but there were fine lines in her skin that lower lights hadn't revealed.
Somehow, it made him like her all the more.
"Long enough," she answered, with a shrug. "Not long enough, too."
"Was that really yer cover?" Scotty tipped his head back in the direction they'd left behind.
"Sure," Neva said, smiling a little bemused smile. "Like I said, what better cover?"
"I'd think it'd bother ye, wouldn't it? I mean..." he trailed off, not quite sure how to say it.
"Having sex with men for money, after having to have sex with men for years under contract?"
Neva laughed, reaching over to pat his arm. "No, Starfleet. Believe it or not, not all cultures are quite as hung up on it as yours can be."
"Aye, but the exploitation--"
Neva cut him off with a look, then turned to face him, pressing her lips together. Her eyes, bright and sparkling, were not quite filled with mirth. But a cousin to it. "It's not exploitation when it's my choice. Now, it is. If I happen to get paid for it, all the better, but it's definitely my choice. But even before, when I was under contract, it's not like you adorably naive Earthmen think it is. Or, it wasn't before it was outlawed." She shrugged, then, and leaned back. "In some circles, it was bad. But in most, it was an honorable profession. I trained under the finest lodubyal ot. I learned dance, conversation, art, music; I learned to serve, to entertain, to be gracious and seductive. I learned self-defense. I enjoyed it; until my master sold my contract to his business partner, I was quite happy, and quite well off. Unfortunately, his business partner was a Tellarite."
Scotty couldn't imagine a life like that; where someone owned someone else. The mere notion of slavery made his skin crawl. Even so, there was nothing deceptive in Neva's voice.
She must have noted his incomprehension. "On Earth, you had them. They were called geisha. Or courtesans. Or any of a host of other names. It was not freedom, but more... what's the term? Indentured servitude."
It was still over Scotty's head, but he tried to wrap his brain around it. He still didn't agree with any of it, and not even with her seemingly romantic and benevolent idea of it, but she believed in it, and that was enough to make him at least want to try to understand where she was coming from. It was in sharp contrast with what he had caught glimpses of, particularly in the time after Article 1 was signed.
"It changed everything," Neva said, and for a moment he wondered if mind-reading was one of the things she was taught. She gestured, though not at anything in particular. "It became criminal, and so it became hidden; what was once celebrated became something for dark alleys and dark dealings, and the lodubyaln paid the price. The men were not ready to give up what they felt was their right, no matter the Federation's edict. Of course, now it must all end." She slumped a little, tiredly, looking off into something only she could see. "Of course, I will help it end. Still, I miss dancing."
The train slowed to a stop; loaded new passengers, offloaded others. "Is that what this is?" he asked, finally, nodding towards the bag where a small fortune's worth of platinum sat.
Neva slid a glance over sidelong. "Maybe, Starfleet. Just maybe."
To that, Scotty could only nod.
The rest of the ride to the city's center was uneventful; they both ended up lost in their own thoughts, though they managed to maintain enough vigilance not to be ambushed. Offloading and finding a taxi was another thing entirely; in this district, primarily business in nature and certainly more upscale than the market district they'd left behind, Neva's skin color and Scotty's general state of looking like a freebooter was enough to deter cabbies from slowing down when they were hailed.
Scotty was reasonably sure he was more the cause than she was. Mostly because no one went by her without doing a double-take.
The city itself was set up in a ring pattern; everything radiated out from the business district, which gave way to industrial or residential or other commercial areas. Per regulation, the spaceport was outside city limits, so if they didn't find a ride, it was a bloody long walk. Nothing Scotty would shy from, but definitely enough of one to put him past his window of opportunity with his Starfleet contact. And procuring other transport wouldn't exactly be easy, if that was the case.
"If I were a criminal, I'd hotwire a skimmer," he said, trudging along the now rain-slick sidewalk.
"We could try the subway again," Neva said, but she didn't sound too enthused with the idea herself. Mostly because there was one transfer point for the whole of the city -- Central Station, which they'd left themselves -- and only one train from there which went directly to the port, a high speed service with no stops. If there were assassins watching, and there probably were, they'd be watching that train.
"How long before daybreak?"
"Five hours. Then the shuttle buses start running again."
Scotty huffed out a sigh. Well, five hours of hanging about wasn't the worst thing. At least the company was charming. He shoved his hands into his pockets and balanced on the curb, one step in front of the other. "Could be worse, I suppose."
Neva pushed her wet hair out of her face and then grinned. "We could be reduced to bits of flesh back at the cafe."
She was good at getting him to smile. "Aye."
"And if we wait until daylight, it will be busier."
"Aye." Scotty glanced over. "Where will ye go? Ye can't exactly go back there."
Neva shrugged, a sort of delicate move, then wrapped her arms around herself. Without thinking, Scotty slipped out of his coat and put it around her shoulders; it was only about fifteen seconds after he did it that he realized she could probably stun him and walk off with the device, and the platinum, and his type 2 phaser, and his IDs, both of 'em, without much effort.
Neva apparently had no such plans, though; she just shot him a grateful smile and slid her arms properly into the coat. "I don't know, Starfleet. Somewhere." She nodded out towards the city with her chin. "I'm good at landing on my feet."
"Ye know, ye could come with me." Then, realizing how that sounded, he amended, "I mean, I could take ye on the transport I've got arranged, get ye offworld."
"Mm. No, but thank you." Neva crossed her arms; the juxtaposition between the heavy, slightly ratty coat and the relative lack of the rest of her clothing was somehow endearing. "I have a few ideas."
"Aye," she answered, eyebrow up, smile on her face.
So much trouble.
They had no better luck with the cabbies, and no better luck beyond that but to find a place to wait out the night and the rain. Which ended up being another all-night cafe, though at least of some better caliber than the one Neva had been working out of. Outside, the rain went from spitting to a torrent; inside, at least it was dry, if not strictly warm and cozy.
And at least the coffee was good.
Neva tended to elicit looks from all and sundry; less, in the market district, which seemed a good deal more diverse, but even then she attracted attention. She didn't so much seem to notice, though. Or, she noticed and didn't particularly feel like acknowledging it. Nor could Scotty blame her; he had never in his life been one to gain much notice outside of his intelligence, but he had a feeling that it would get annoying quick.
Luckily, the many rumors about Orion women were enough to keep people from acting stupid about it. Namely, that they could cut parts of you off and present them to you before you had time to realize you were bleeding.
It seemed a wholly strange contrast to the reality of her sitting there, wearing his coat, sipping tea and looking tired. Beautiful still, but tired.
"We should get a hotel room," she said, looking out of the window.
There was a thunk, and then searing hot on his lap, and it was right about there Scotty realized he'd dropped his coffee.
Neva actually looked startled as he jumped up, trying to swipe the rapidly cooling liquid off to absolutely no avail and managing to keep that noise of pain in his throat. Then she started laughing.
Burned a bit -- literally and maybe a wee bit non-literally -- he grabbed a napkin, mopped off the seat and did his best to ignore the few other patrons and the waiter looking at him like he'd just danced the bolero. "Funny to you, maybe..."
"Just a little," Neva said, schooling her laughter, though not her grin. "I'm flattered. I don't think I've ever gotten that reaction before."
Scotty sat down with a huff, crossing his arms. But it was only about five seconds before he found himself smiling back at her. He'd sort of lost track how much of that was pheromones and how much of that was just the fact that he liked her. "Really? In yer line o' work, not one man's damaged himself fallin' all over ye?"
"Not like that," she answered, chuckling, reaching across the table to use her own napkin to mop up what was left of the coffee on its surface. "Most men show up for different reasons, Starfleet."
He wasn't quite sure what to say to that, so he didn't try.
Neva set aside the coffee-soaked napkin, then folded her hands to rest her chin on them. "No, you're something different."
"How's that, then?" he asked, resting his crossed arms on the table.
Neva looked off for a moment, thoughtfully, then focused back on him with a little, warm smile. "In my line of work -- all of my lines of work -- they watch me, and they lust. They see a green Orion animal woman, fierce and sensual, and they picture all of the things they want to do to this green Orion animal woman. The married ones often hate themselves. The kind souls who would rescue me from my life see a poor, sorry victim, but even they have their fantasies. Oh, repressed, to be sure, but fantasies anyway. But you, Starfleet..." She reached over and tapped the tip of his nose. "You see me."
His mouth was dry again, and pretty much every cell of him wanted to follow that fingertip back to her side of the table, so Scotty wasn't wholly sure she was reading him accurately there. But he managed to answer, voice a little rough, "I think ye're bein' a bit too forgiving, if ye think I haven't noticed ye."
"No." She leaned in closer, and without a thought, he did too. "No, you have. But -- and this is the important part, so pay attention -- but you see me despite it. Not because of it."
If she got much closer, he thought he might faint. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he wondered if she was ratcheting up her pheromones intentionally, or just instinctively. Either way, the effect was dizzying.
"Excuse me," a voice broke in, though it wasn't quite enough to actually make Scotty look over, no matter how annoying it was. "You're disturbing the other patrons."
Neva leaned back, and then smiled at the small woman who had appeared. "I'm sorry. Please, give them my apologies."
This was how Mister Scott, Chief Engineer of the U.S.S. Enterprise, on a covert mission to retrieve stolen prototype technology from the Orion Syndicate, ended up in trouble:
He woke up late.
They were kicked out of the cafe, presumably by the owner's wife, who was none too pleased with the male patrons turning into walking hormonal time-bombs. It was still raining, and still dark, and Scotty was still dizzy and having a Hell of a time trying to shake off the effect himself. Neva, in the meantime, was thoroughly amused with the whole thing, leading the way and somewhere in there she managed to get hold of his hand -- how did that happen? -- and that definitely didn't make shaking it all off any easier.
He certainly wasn't feeling the rain. Or the cold. Or really anything except the heat of her hand, strong and fine, gripping his.
This all could have been overcome, but after walking a couple of blocks, she pulled them into a side alley and pressed him against a wall, and at that point, his heart was beating so hard he was sure it could be targeted from orbit.
Neva's eyes were bright, and warm, and she was grinning. Amused. And sweet, too, in a way. It took her a few repetitions to get through to his brain, which was understandably trying to step out to lunch on him. She said, "We have four hours. I want you."
Scotty blinked a few times, hands automatically on her waist (without his permission), and tried a bit dazedly to ask, "T' do what?"
Neva laughed, shaking her head, and then she kissed him.
That was pretty much that.
When he did wake up, the sunlight was streaming through the window of the hotel -- the one he only half remembered checking into -- and Neva was sleeping with her head on his shoulder. It had been a very, very long time since he'd slept next to a woman, and pretty much everything in him wanted to just drift back off, holding onto the soft-sweet feeling of it. His head ached a bit, probably from proximity to a bomb blast the night before, but otherwise he felt really good.
And then he realized what the sunlight meant and groaned, reaching up with the arm not pinned under Neva, to slap a palm to his face. "Oh, bloody Hell."
"Hm?" Neva asked, and the notion of getting out of that bed became about fifty thousand times worse when she shifted closer, sliding a leg over his hips.
"For... oh." Her eyes snapped open, and she sat up; the sudden chill where her body was made him shiver.
At least that made it easier to get up, and feeling more'n a little off-balanced, Scotty managed to drag himself out of bed and start getting dressed. A glance at the chronometer told him he had all of a half-hour to make it to the spaceport, before he was on his own. "Have about a half-hour."
Neva was getting dressed herself, even as she was grinning. "If I could get you there in twenty minutes, we could do that again."
"If I thought ye could, I would." There was no sense in being dishonest about it.
Scotty had never had an affair with a friend before. There was friendship, and then there was romance, and he'd never had the twain meet before. It was a surreal thing, getting dressed and looking at the incredibly beautiful woman who had proceeded to light him up like a roman candle the night before, and not feel the giddy, in-love feeling, but something more mellow, and warm, and affectionate, and happy. He wasn't so sure he quite knew how to parse it, but he knew that he didn't regret it.
Neva finished dressing, and he was only a moment behind; she returned his coat, and once they were squared away, they left the hotel hand in hand.
The spaceport was, predictably, busy. Bustling business people, travellers, tourists and aye, freebooters too. Scotty didn't feel very out of place, but he did gain more attention than he necessarily wanted, and all of that was because Neva was holding his hand.
He was fairly sure they were wondering what the hell someone like her was doing with someone like him. Nor could he blame them. He was a wee bit boggled by it himself.
And despite not really wanting the attention, he wasn't about to let go.
"Where will you go, after this?" she asked, as they wove their way through concourses and towards the terminal he needed to reach in less than ten minutes.
"Back to the Enterprise," Scotty answered, feeling a pang for the idea of leaving her here, never to be seen again. "I don't suppose--"
"Not a chance, Starfleet." Neva smiled, giving his hand a squeeze. "Besides, we've been followed for the last five minutes. Someone needs to draw them off so you can escape."
"What?!" Scotty stopped, but then Neva used her grip on his hand to give him a yank forward, forcing him to jump-step to catch up. He looked at her, nearly running into someone headed the other way, dropping his voice. But still incredulous. "Why didn't ye tell me?!"
"They won't make a move until we reach the terminal. Too many people." Neva didn't seem the least bit worried about the circumstances, here. "In the meantime, relax."
"If ye think I'll just leave ye here to fight off God knows how many assassins--"
"I have no intentions of fighting. Believe me, I have a plan." She looked over and gave him a wink. "It includes getting you off-planet safely, and me out of the clutches of my enemies. You're just going to have to trust me."
The part he really hated was that he did. She was capable and clever, and she'd managed to evade capture this long. Even so, he also hated the idea of leaving her to do it alone. "Is there any way I can help ye, or...?" he asked, and it actually bloody hurt to consider doing as she asked. He wasn't one to leave friends in trouble, not even friends made on the fly.
"Definitely." Neva grinned up at him. "When I tell you to run, run. Don't stop, don't look back and don't ask questions."
"There ye go with the 'don't' again," Scotty muttered, but it was only half-hearted. "Will I see ye again? Or hear from ye?"
"I'll see what I can arrange." She kept them going forward at such a pace that when she did stop, he nearly ended up face-first into the floor.
In a whirlwind, dizzying moment, her mouth was on his, her hand was on his hip, and his phaser went with it. The kiss was fierce and bright and heart-pounding, and on his part, a little heart-aching, too.
She broke it off, and still lip to lip whispered one word: "Run."
Scotty hesitated only a split second, and then he did.
"Cutting it a little fine, aren't you?!" the pilot asked, as he was just about ready to close the doors on his small cargo-carrier; Scotty didn't answer until after he all but dove into the ship, then turned back to try to see back to where he left Neva.
"Aye," he said, just as the doors closed.
"Buckle in, Lieutenant Commander, it's going to be a really fast take-off."
He did. He had heard the chaos left in his wake, and he'd heard that old phaser he'd carried fire, and Scotty couldn't begin to guess at what kind of trouble he might end up in over this. But mostly, he just worried about Neva. Every instinct he had screamed for him to go back and get her, and every bit of the considerable respect he had gained over the course of their brief friendship told him to trust her and do as she'd asked.
He didn't have a choice now; take-off rattled his teeth and made his headache come back from where adrenaline had driven it dormant, and then they were underway.
He unbuckled once they hit orbit, went up and sat in the co-pilot's seat, and checked to make sure he had the device.
It was still where it had been. Right where he'd left it.
"Dammit," he said, to no one in particular, leaning back in the seat and looking out the viewscreen.
"Aye." But not how he thought.
The ride to Cynan II took for-bloody-ever, and by the time Scotty walked into the Federation Consulate, he felt about as wiped out as he probably looked. Captain Kirk looked up, and then looked at the chronometer, before simply commenting, "Right on time, Scotty. How was it?"
"Successful, sir," Scotty answered, not able to find another word for it right yet. He took the device out of his pocket and held it up. "Verified. More detail, I couldn't give ye yet."
"Good." Kirk nodded, then crossed his arms, leaning against the reception desk. "I don't suppose you know something about an Orion woman, wielding a phaser, escaping from Starfleet Security after causing a disturbance on Cynan III? Her compatriots were captured, but she managed to get away."
"I heard some commotion, but I didn't see what happened, sir," Scotty answered. Subspace certainly traveled fast. But his was an honest, if selective, answer. And something inside of his chest released. She got away. Her pursuers were caught, and she got away.
He barely managed to keep the sigh of relief to himself.
Kirk nodded, then took the device. Smiled as he looked over it, looking pleased. "Now that we have this, they'll have to start all over. Good work, engineer."
"Thank you, Captain."
"Head back to the Enterprise; I'll be up shortly."
"Aye, sir," Scotty answered, taking the offered communicator and flipping it open. "Scott to Enterprise; one to beam up."
"Oh! Scotty, I meant to ask..." Kirk gestured to his hip. "Where's your phaser?"
Scotty opened his mouth to answer, though he wasn't exactly sure how he would, when the transporter beam engaged. He made a mental note as the world dissolved into gold sparkles to commend Lieutenant Kyle on his timing at some point in the near future.
The report took several hours, several non-descriptors, and several careful edits to finish. Then, he had to get a shower, and shave, and get into his regular uniform. The first thing he had done when he was back aboard was check in at Engineering, and after he finished his tasks, still feeling a bit wiped out, he went back there.
His office was soothing, after all of that, and he didn't really get much work done, but he did have a cup of coffee and he did lean back in his chair, and he did think of Neva, and that was when he smiled.
McCoy, who often came by these days to raid his private coffee stash, showed up right around the time he was smiling, breezing in and then stopping at the door. "What's got you in such a good mood?"
Scotty raised an eyebrow, then gestured permission towards the Mark VI coffee maker. "Ye should learn to knock, sometime."
McCoy snorted, moving over to get himself a cup. "You'd lock me out."
"So, how was the unorthodox mission? Jim seemed intrigued by your report."
Scotty thought about how he could possibly answer that, and ended up with just a shrug. "Unorthodox about sums it up, Doctor."
Despite himself, Scotty smiled and just shook his head. No, no details. He wouldn't kiss and tell, for one, and he wanted to shield Neva's identity for another, and finally, he just didn't want to share it. Someday, he hoped they crossed paths again. Friends, or more than, or just voices in the dark catching up. In the meantime, though, it was good.
And this time, his coffee stayed on his desk.
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