Summary: (2229 - ) All of the little bits written that fit Arc of the Wolf canon, but don't slot neatly into the storyline itself. Most of them are free writes, and offer alternate POVs or stylistic diversions or just a bit of humor or fluff or introspection. In chronological order.
Categories: Original Series Characters: Corrigan, Andrew (Corry), Hanson, Abigail, Scott, Montgomery (Scotty), Spock, Uhura, Nyota
Genre: Drama, Family, Friendship, General, Humor
Series: Arc of the Wolf: Uncategorized, Arc of the Wolf
Chapters: 9 Completed: No
Word count: 6313 Read: 16866
Published: 25 Jul 2013 Updated: 14 Jan 2016
1. Flock of Seagulls by SLWalker
2. Sty-n'-Fly by SLWalker
3. Regard by SLWalker
4. Wicked by SLWalker
5. Enduring by SLWalker
6. Case Closed by SLWalker
7. For the Hundredth Time... by SLWalker
8. Touchstones by SLWalker
9. Outside by SLWalker
Flock of Seagulls by SLWalker
Andy Corrigan comes up with a story that comes back to bite him in the rear.
"They'll eat your soul," Andy whispered, as they watched the large number of seagulls presiding over the running of the alewives. Well, okay, maybe presiding wasn't the word. There was only one reason the large gulls were there, and it definitely wasn't to gently direct the fish to their spawning grounds.
"They will not," Jas answered, but he shuddered anyway when one of the gulls hopped close to the bridge they were laying on to watch.
"Oh yes. When you least expect it, they'll come flying outside your bedroom window at night, and you'll hear their feathers swishing against the glass, and the next thing you know--"
"Andy, stop it!" Jas's voice was a little quivery.
Andy thought about making fun of him, for being a baby, 'cause he was nine and what nine year old was really afraid of seagulls?
So it turned out, it was Andy, who woke up in the middle of the night because he'd dreamed of a flock of them brushing wings at his window, and wailed all the way into Mom and Dad's room, where he crashed into the bed between them and refused to move until morning.
Of course, he never told Jas about that part.
Scotty, working at Lunar, on a particularly foul day.
They were some of the finest engineers in the galaxy.
What the hell they were doing on Lunar was a mystery.
Whether Scotty would be able to survive the heckling, even moreso.
The dark, ill-lit, grease-stained deck well matched the dark, ill-lit, grease-stained engineer, and his mood was little better than that. Scotty had a healthy respect for the Tellarites as engineers; they were pragmatic and efficient, often eschewing pomp and pointlessness and always aiming for that perfect balance of simplicity and durability that any good engineer would have to. He thought very well of their designs, and even this ship he was busy working on was mechanically solid, needing only courtesy maintenance rather than repair.
He was also coming to the conclusion that the only reason a Tellarite would bring it to Lunar would be to torment any non-Tellarite tech working, and this time, that was Scotty.
"Wrong size, you pink-skinned son of a Targ!" the Tellarite yelled, as he picked up his spanner.
Scotty tightened his grip on it and could feel his knuckles creak. "It's not the wrong size."
"It is! Next you will be trying to use a grease gun on the coolant port!" the big-bellied Tellarite laughed. Why he was sitting there and not doing something else was beyond Scotty.
He steadfastly kept his mouth shut. Got his spanner on the bolt... and it was the wrong size. He ground his teeth together, and retrieved the right one -- off by a tiny fraction, an off-size because heaven forfend that everyone use the Fed standard like they should.
"Poor eyes, you squishy little fluid-filled sack of hairless flesh."
That was rich, coming from a Tellarite. Scotty tightened down the bolts, and then cast about desperately to see if there was anywhere else he could possibly go to get away from this and still fulfill his duties, but it was proving to be impossible. Harris was waiting -- just waiting -- for him to screw up, and Scotty knew the score on that one, and he was fairly sure the reason he was on this assignment was the continued punishment he'd been enduring since he started here, but he was also a wee bit worried his temper might give before he was done.
Not much more. Refill the coolant lines, grease all bearings, check all hull lighting. He could do this.
"You are too slow, human! A Tellarite could have had this all done an hour ago! Do those squishy little digits fumble too much on the tools? Perhaps you should be returned to your mother's teat, to finish maturing!"
Scotty was moving before he thought about it; spun around and bared his teeth. "If ye'd left me the hell alone, I'd have had it done an hour ago, too!" he snapped back, his spanner in hand, and he was vaguely aware he looked about ready to brain someone with it. "But no, instead I have to listen to some overbearing, overconfident deck jockey commentin' and complainin' instead o' gettin' off his ass an' doin' somethin' with himself. If ye dinna like it, then goddamn do yer own maintenance, ye pig-headed, loud-mouthed snot!"
The Tellarite... laughed, heartily. Which was not what Scotty expected, as he stood there and breathed hard. An hour. An hour of being heckled and now he was being laughed at.
"Mister Scott!" Harris's voice rung out across the deck, as he walked across it with his pristine uniform and that delighted, cold glitter in his eyes.
Scotty dropped his head and he wasn't quite sure in that moment whether he wanted to laugh or cry. Figures.
"Is it your habit to insult our guests?" Harris asked, sharply. "If I remember right, your assignment was to service this vessel, not engage in insults!"
"No, sir," Scotty gritted out, in the most polite manner he could possibly manage. Which wasn't terribly good, but damn, did he try.
"You! The strutting, preening pigeon covered in droppings!" the Tellarite interrupted. "Leave the boy alone, he was doing a fine job."
What?! Scotty thought, but didn't dare say. He knew that Tellarites liked to argue, he knew that, and he knew that they liked to sling insults, but he had been reasonably sure that he was getting it both barrels for an hour straight because the Tellarite really did find his work lacking, even if he wasn't sure why.
Harris opened his mouth to reply, then closed it. His thin lips twitched. "My apologies, Captain Loak."
The look he gave Scotty on his way back out was, decidedly, 'This isn't over.'
Scotty groaned to himself once Harris was out of earshot, and made himself a solemn promise that no, he was not going to brain himself with his spanner just to avoid this whole, awful bloody day. He would do his job, and he would get through this, and that was that.
The Tellarite -- Loak -- heaved himself up and ambled over, heading for the toolkit. "Come on, Squishy, time is wasting."
"Who's fault is that, then?" Scotty griped back, giving up any pretense of human politeness, but he turned back to the ship himself and took the next spanner handed over by Loak.
"Yours, of course, and those fumbling meat sticks you call fingers."
"Maybe if ye didn't keep yer ship like a garbage pit, ye wouldn't need to waste time here; suppose those hooves make cleanin' up hard."
"Much better." Loak gave him a behooved pat on the back, then got to work. "For a barely-sentient sack of gelatin."
"So says Captain Sty-n'-Fly." But despite himself, and the day, and the work, and the inevitable punishment he'd get from Harris later, Scotty cracked a little smile anyway when Loak heaved another laugh.
Cor's father, Aaron, reflects upon the unlikely but not unwanted addition to his family. Set loosely around Bookends.
That chair had covered a lot of distance in its life; went from his bedroom in high school -- the one now belonging to his oldest child -- to college, to storage, to his dorm room in Belfast in the Academy, then back again to an apartment in Damariscotta, overlooking the brick and street of the downtown. And now, back in the home it started out in.
Aaron rarely sat in it these days. He'd been thinking of having it replaced; it didn't match any of the rest of the living room furniture, and it was getting a little bit ratty. It had been reupholstered twice in its life to date already, and the springs didn't quite have the same amount of spring. It wasn't so much sentimentality as it was a lack of time that had stayed its execution; there wasn't enough time between assignments in the SCE to waste on getting rid of a chair, and it always managed to slip his mind in those times when he was home. And now that he was retired from Starfleet, and there was time, the chair was no longer his to decide upon.
He leaned on the door frame to the living room, his coffee in hand, and regarded the kid sleeping in it. And marveled, honestly, that anyone could be that comfortable sleeping in a chair like that. Scotty wasn't sprawled in it, he was curled up with his arms tucked around himself, and his head on the arm rest, one leg kicked out and the rest of him taking up as little space as humanly possible. To Aaron, it looked like a recipe for a neck and back ache, but then again, he wasn't in his early twenties anymore, either.
Andy brought home a lot of people over the years; more, even, than Rachel did. His cadre of friends was large and impressive, and there were several times as he was growing up that Aaron would walk into his house and find a dozen kids raiding the fridge, tracking mud all over the floor, and his son right in the center of it directing his troops. Andy had his best friends, the ones he would host sleepovers for and hang out on the living room floor with, chomping down popcorn, laughing too loud, making crude jokes, and then sprawling in a mess of blankets and adolescent limbs, snoring and surrounded by crumbs. He never had any trouble making friends; Aaron had always been on the quiet side, all of his life, and there were many a time when he looked at the boy growing up to look like him and marveled at the fact that he was such a social butterfly.
His own friends were few and close, and he kept them close; refused to allow time, life, distance or events tug those friendships apart or weaken them.
It was gratifying to see that aspect of himself in his son, personified by the young man asleep in Aaron's old chair. Unexpected, but gratifying. More brothers than friends, now -- Aaron had never thought one to be stronger or weaker than the other, merely different -- but something other than he had seen in his son before. Protectiveness, and sensitivity, and admittedly some overbearing possessiveness, like an older lion cub trying to drag a younger one around by the scruff of the neck. It was endearing, and it was also funny, especially when they squabbled about it.
His wife, too, had essentially decided that Scotty was hers, and Aaron had no trouble following the lead of the two more gregarious members of his family. He couldn't always claim to understand it, but he loved them for it, and did his best to back them up on it. While he never planned on having more children to care for and be responsible for than Andy and Rach, he accepted that he now did.
He wondered if the boy in the chair realized it yet; that this was his home, now, and how much he was loved by the people in it. He didn't know if Scotty understood or not, but seemed to respond to it anyway.
Which was why Aaron's chair wasn't his anymore. And would remain, ill-matched and slightly ratty, in the living room.
He didn't say anything, as Andy came down the steps sleepily and automatically went to pick Scotty's boots up from where they were laying on the floor, setting them beside the chair, and he didn't say anything when Melinda came down the steps, looking awake and ready to start the day, to pause and throw the fleece blanket back over from where Scotty had kicked it off.
She looked at Aaron, standing in the door, and grinned a warm grin, tipping her head towards Scotty in a silent gesture of motherly pride and self-directed amusement. Would you look at that?
Aaron grinned back just the same, then wound an arm around her when she came over, with one son stumbling around behind them looking for his coffee mug and the other asleep, peaceful and safe, in a recliner.
The aftermath of Lobster Wars, from Melinda Corrigan's point of view.
"Ow. Ow. Ow."
"Are you sure you don't need any help?"
There was a thump and a miserable whimper on the other side of the door. Melinda winced, by proxy, but she still couldn't claim that she felt too sympathetic towards her oldest child. He did bring it onto himself.
"Maybe release these? After I get done patching myself up."
Somewhere, probably laughing his head off on the way to Augusta, Scotty was doubtless congratulating himself on a job well done. Here, Melinda was leaning against the door while Andy was inside, trying to gather up ten small lobsters and take care of his own bruises from the ambush... the one wherein all ten of the lobsters were dumped over his head while he was taking a shower earlier.
Melinda thought about asking him if he'd learned his lesson. She had spent a little too much time listening to Andy brag about how he woke Scotty up with a lobster in his face, and while she wasn't going to chastise him -- she figured they'd work it out themselves -- she had mentally sided more with Scotty in that particular case.
She had to admit, Scotty's answer to it was excellent. Wicked, and excellent.
Finally, Andy opened the door, carrying a box of ten agitated little lobsters, still looking kind of disheveled. He looked at his mother, then down at the lobsters, then back at his mother again. Then, his composure cracked and he whined, "Mom, did you have to laugh so hard about it?"
Melinda pressed her mouth into a line, reaching up to order her son's still-messy hair. "Andy, I love you very much."
Andy rolled his eyes a little, mirroring her expression. "But you think I had it coming? Ten lobsters, dropped on me in the shower?"
Melinda tried so hard to stuff it down, but it bubbled up from her throat, and then she was laughing all over again. "Absolutely."
Scotty's no longer quite alone in his nightmares.
He manages about two hours, usually, on average. Doggedly, refusing to give up, he lays down and tries to sleep and almost never falls there easily or quickly, listening to the quiet of either his bedroom in South Bristol or his couch in Boothbay Harbor until the world drifts off. And sometimes those initial moments are relief, but most often, they're not.
Scotty has never had an easy relationship with sleeping, at least not since he was somewhere on the south side of twelve, and really not always even then, but for long stretches there he had forgotten that. He learned to sleep again in Basic; in what should have been difficult, in what should have been uncomfortable, he found something not unlike salvation in the strict control and routine and duty-bound life. Basic was a world apart from Aberdeen, a world where he had a purpose that wasn't just his own survival -- that was Starfleet's job to worry about -- and just had to do what he was told, learn what he was told, and know that his squad mates would watch his back while he slept because that was their duty, and that he had a duty to be rested to do the same for them. By the time that six months was over, he could sleep and had, just about anywhere. Crowded barracks to space station floors to foxholes.
And off and on, through the years, that old dance with the vulnerability of closing his eyes and having to put faith in the notion -- of all things -- that he would wake up in essentially the same shape as he closed them in would play out, here or there. Oddly, even getting a lobster in the face once wasn't enough to make him jumpy; that, he still blames on his chair, and the unwavering love of a family that he still sometimes fears, even after all of this, he can never be good enough for.
Off and on; after the Sun, it was months before he could shake it off, and in those nightmares, he curled up tight and woke up hurting and stiff, still-recovering body protesting, and it was somehow odd that the few times he woke up and found himself wrapped in another mother's arms were the ones that hurt the most and felt the safest all at once. It was in those moments that every possible conflict played out in his head, too; he could not remember a time in his life when he had ever been held as such, and he could not brook that at age twenty-six he should need such things, and he could not cope with the fact that Melinda Corrigan could just fold him in like he was a wee lad still, and he could not make himself shove away, either, and so every time she looked at him with steady love and steady patience and shushed him like a child, the child he never quite got to be, he ended up sobbing himself to sleep in her arms, and safe there, the nightmares were kept at bay. It was in those moments he cried for his own mother, too.
It was months, but he learned to sleep again, steadily in South Bristol and then steadily on the Churchill, and all of that was shattered at the end of a Klingon disruptor and the bodies of his crew and where staying alive and keeping Cor going -- and he was dying, no mistake -- was all he had and almost gave up at the very end; if they both wouldn't make it home, then neither of them would. He could not live with any alternative. He knew that. He knew that now. He would never forget that.
Which is why he manages about two hours, usually, on average.
And then it's blood and terror or bodies or darkness or watching his brother dying, but it's something, maybe not every night but close. And he doggedly keeps trying, because if he doesn't manage to beat this, he'll never be cleared for duty again, but he can't. Everything in him screams that he cannot afford that vulnerability, because everything might end while his eyes are closed. And more'n a few times he's woken up tangled in a blanket, or on the floor, and once he even ended up smacking his head off the coffee table, which scared him and Abby and Corry enough that they all three spent the rest of the night curled up around coffee mugs on the couch watching bad vids, once Cor got done mother-henning him and once Abby got done moving the table further away from the couch.
And he's not the only one, because Cor has nightmares too, and sometimes his wake Scotty up all the way out on the couch before his own can get to him, and he can hear Abby's voice talking him down off the ceiling and back to sleep, and he clings to that voice himself after awhile.
But every once in awhile, too, there's something else. When he's in South Bristol, Cor's mother -- in his own head, slowly filtering in, sometimes his ma'am sounds a wee bit like Mom, but he can't make himself say it -- has just as little trouble folding him in at twenty-eight as she did when he was twenty-six, and as he's starting to realize she would have at any age, without reservation, because is that what mothers are supposed to do? He isn't sure, but regardless of age he feels safe there, in those moments.
And sometimes he wakes up with Abby right there, and falls back to sleep using her leg as a pillow, her arm over his side and her petting him with the other hand, and his last images in low light are her, peering off into the darkness with sharp storm-cloud eyes, standing sentry for whatever invisible enemy might swoop down upon them. There is only one person in the world that he trusts more.
And those nights, round about two hours on average, when he wakes up disoriented from blood or terror or bodies or watching his brother slip that last bit away, he wakes up with that brother's hand gripping his, and poor Cor sleeping sitting next to the couch in what has to be the most uncomfortable position in the known universe to sleep in, and Scotty breathes until he's breathing the same rhythm, and until he's reassured himself that Corry's pulsebeat is steady and strong and not fluttering or fading, and then he curls that hand that has his back to his own chest, stuffs his face in his pillow, and cries himself back to sleep.
He and Corry don't chase each other's nightmares away because they share the same ones. They just endure together.
Phil Boyce solves a mystery.
Every once in awhile, Phil had an interesting case. Most often, this was related to landing parties -- encounters with alien flora or fauna, accidental brushes with unknown diseases, occasionally surly natives. But sometimes there was an interesting shipboard case, too. For instance, he'll never figure out how Crewman Meres managed to get a fork buried halfway into his thigh during a routine security drill. Or how Ensign Slowe ended up covered in semi-sentient goo in the labs. But he did figure out how Lieutenant Becker ended up straining his back -- hand-to-hand practice with Number One -- and he did figure out why Crewman Mu had to shave off all of her hair --an improperly used shower gel picked up on shore leave.
This was an interesting case.
Lieutenant Montgomery Scott, one of the last people Phil ever expected to walk into Sickbay, came in before his shift started, face an interesting shade of red, looking decidedly disheveled.
While Scott was not nearly as jumpy as he used to be, he usually had to be ordered through the doors by the Chief. He was a relatively infrequent visitor; minor knicks and cuts and scratches were not, in any engineer's mind, reason enough to bother putting down their tools to get fixed up, and Scott in particular was both annoyingly and admirably stoic in the face of even non-minor injuries that probably should be looked at, which usually led to Cait rolling her eyes and sending him to Sickbay to look either abashed or sullen, depending upon how much work needed to be done in Engineering.
What Scott never did, though, was walk in of his own accord.
"What can I do for you, Lieutenant?" Phil asked, picking up his tricorder while said lieutenant, whose fair face was turning evermore red, stood cradling his wrist.
Scott cleared his throat and pointedly looked anywhere but at Phil. "I think... I think I sprained my wrist, sir. Could ye fix it? I mean, before-- before my watch starts?"
"Sure, have a seat. Worked the afternoon watch, too?"
"No, sir," Scott answered, managing to lever himself up onto a bed with one arm, blushing so hard even his ears had turned red.
Phil's eyebrows made for his hairline like the fastest little furry caterpillars in existence, but he didn't comment, and firmly forced them back to their neutral setting. "Oh. All right. Let me have a look."
Scott obligingly held out his arm, and Phil scanned it. Sure enough, it was a sprain, though not a particularly bad one. Enough to interfere with work, though, so Phil went to get a tissue regenerator and a brace, and while he was busy fixing the wrist as far as it would go in one treatment, he was also puzzling over the abrasions his tricorder had picked up that Scott wasn't apparently bothered enough by to disclose. To Phil's mind, it looked a little like the lieutenant had taken a fall and skinned his knees and elbows. Which could account for the blush -- how does someone trip on a starship when everything's going right? -- though not perhaps the strength of the blush.
"All right, keep the brace on during work for two days, no lifting or weight bearing," Phil said, not allowing his idly curious thoughts to make it so far as into his voice, fitting the lightweight brace and then velcroing it closed. "Got it? Come back tomorrow so I can check on it."
"Aye, sir," Scott said, surprisingly demure given his usual impatience. "Thank you, sir."
"You're welcome," Phil said, automatically, and he was still chewing it over when the lieutenant beat a hasty retreat.
Interesting case, indeed. And then, it got even more interesting.
Yeoman Fiona Langley, one of the people least likely to get injured on a starship, came into Sickbay before her shift started, walking gingerly and looking decidedly disheveled, about ten minutes after Scott left. And when she looked up at Phil, she wasn't blushing, but she did look rather sheepish. "Doc? I think I might have pulled a muscle in my back," she said, smooth face drawn in a grimace. "Can you fix it?"
And in that moment, Phil knew the score.
"All right, Yeoman, have a seat and I'll see what I can do for you."
She managed to get up on the bed, her blonde hair half coming out of the girlish ponytail she usually wore it in, and tried to sit up straight, which just ended up making her wince. The scan revealed that she had, indeed, pulled a muscle. Not too badly, but enough that even with a round of regen, she'd probably need to take the night off.
"All right. I can regen the muscle fibers, but you'll need to call off tonight," Phil said, not having failed to note that Langley had also somehow, not-so-mysteriously, ended up with skinned knees.
"Yes, sir," she said, some of the tension on her face easing as she leaned forward. "I didn't even realize how much it hurt until I tried getting a shower."
"Mm. Well, it'll be better by tomorrow night, though I'd recommend you avoid any strenuous -- or overly enthusiastic -- activity," Phil said, running the regenerator over the pulled muscle in her back. "In addition, I'd also recommend from now on that you take more caution when it comes to starship carpeting. Next time you and a certain lieutenant cross paths, you might pass on that information."
Langley instantly turned pink, but she bit her lip around an entirely self-satisfied grin. "Yes, sir."
Rug burn. Kids in love. Case closed.
For the Hundredth Time... by SLWalker
Scotty, Spock, a transwarp beaming formula and a well-orchestrated dance. Written for lil black dog.
"For the hundredth time, Commander--"
"It has been a mere three times you have repeated yourself, Mister Scott. Not one hundred."
Scotty resisted the urge to slap his palm to his forehead -- by some miracle -- and settled instead for rubbing his eyes. "It feels like a hundred," he said, drumming his fingertips on the notebook where he had been playing with a bunk theory for transwarp beaming for the past three years or so. Not something he ever expected to come into practice in his lifetime, and not something he would advocate for, but it was something to stretch his brain on. And Spock had shown a surprising amount of interest in what was, to Scotty's mind, a total lark.
He also had the feeling Spock was needling him right now, because while they still often could find themselves at cross-conversations -- even after what, a decade and a half of working together? -- he knew full well that Spock did have a sense of humor, and often it was even drier than Scotty's. Which was pretty impressive.
"I believe that these values could be modified considerably less conservatively."
"Aye, maybe if we want to beam someone through time. D'ye have any idea how long the re-materialization sequence would take? Ye might as well be usin' a transporter as a stasis field at that point, Mister Spock, because ye're not gonna be showin' up on the platform anytime soon." Scotty poked the page, playing up his own agitation just because he knew full well it would garner him a raised eyebrow and a likewise insincere look of superiority. "And the point o' this is to save time."
"Indeed, Mister Scott. Even taking into consideration the amount of time to re-materialization, you would be saving exactly five point two-three minutes." Spock raised an eyebrow and looked -- not jokingly, of course not, not him -- smugly superior, then took Scotty's pencil and copied the equation below the original, substituting in the new variables. "Here. I believe you will find I'm correct."
"Oh, no doubt," Scotty said, rolling his eyes in the most theatrical manner he could manage. "But that still wasn't the point."
Spock leaned back slightly in his chair, looking somehow even more smugly superior. "Then, if I may, what was?"
Makin' you feel better after that whole mess with yer father nearly dyin', Scotty thought, but definitely didn't say. Instead, he had to come up with some other reason, and stood up in a right and proper huff, every bit of bad acting ability he had. "I thought that ye might be able to share some insight into this formula ye seem to show some interest in, but if all it's gonna save is a mere five point two-one--"
"--five point two-three," Spock corrected.
Scotty knew that, but even so. He threw a hand in the air, grabbed his notebook and marched for the door. "I don't know why I bothered."
He left Spock back there looking quietly not-amused (because he was a Vulcan, right?), and perhaps still a little superior, and didn't grin to himself until after the door was closed.
Scotty, trying to cope with what happened on Argelius II, at least long enough to get home.
The transport was in fair shape; just another connection in the long string of embarking, disembarking, aiming true for Earth and trying to grapple with the fact that he wasn't aboard the Enterprise. Scotty had taken precisely two long-term vacations away from his ship mid-mission in his career; the first for a birth, and this one for--
--for a death. His own. And for three others. Kara, Lieutenant Tracy, Sybo.
The transport was in fair shape; her engines were smooth and steady, but he had a hard time right now not listening for the Enterprise's harmonies and melodies. Seventeen years now, absent time in refit or repair, and usually he did all right even when he was aboard someone else's ship in the short term, but right now, he kept listening for the Enterprise, even though he'd left her of his own accord, abusing the Hell out of his large bank of accumulated personal leave time. The captain had approved it after raising both of his eyebrows looking more'n a wee bit shocked by the request; he had requested it three days after Argelius II, which was exactly the amount of time it took him to stop shaking long enough to do anything besides work, which, of course, had been the only way he managed to remain functional during that three days; work, and the knowledge that he was going to go home, to his other home, for a little while because--
--because he had to.
So, the captain approved his leave and then he had to wait a couple more weeks so that they'd be anywhere near a transfer point, and then he got himself killed.
Scotty didn't remember that part. Funny enough, despite being spooked by it some, it was a whole lot easier to cope with in his head than Argelius II had been. Mostly because he didn't really remember it.
And because he didn't have to wash blood off his hands after it.
He crossed his arms tighter over his civilian coat, pressing his right shoulder against the bulkhead, and stared out at the streaked view of warp speed. Grateful it was a high speed transport -- not cheap, but he didn't want to waste time -- and still wishing it could go faster. Then again, he was fairly sure even the Enterprise at maximum warp couldn't outrun what was chasing him.
The transport was in fair shape; the hum of her warp and impulse drives, tandem, through the deckplates under his feet, but he kept listening for the Enterprise. Seventeen years. Seventeen years, and he knew every note, every melody and every harmony, and the way they blended, and how sometimes they sang so perfectly that the hair on the back of his neck would stand up, following the current through the soles of his boots, the buzz through his skeleton, and the hum through his spine. There was no song like it, in the universe.
And he'd left her.
Scotty hunkered down a little into his coat, trying to breathe off the panic. He could feel it all down his arms, from his chest, and he knew that if he gave into that particular compulsion, he'd be back in his tiny temporary cabin scrubbing his hands red.
He'd already done that more times than any sane, rational officer of the line would ever do.
He'd left her. His ship. His song. He'd left her. He'd left her, and aye, his engineering crew was damned good. The best. But with all they were facing, all the time it seemed without a break, it was hard to reconcile. Every bit of the Chief in him, at war with every bit of the rest of him, the part that couldn't sleep for more'n an hour or two without jerking awake in a panic and the part of him that needed to get away from her, long enough to get himself back together. To go back to his island, to go back to his family, and God help him, to start really considering exactly what he was going to do with himself.
The transport was in fair shape; he kept going back to that, in his head, a touchstone that she was running fine and that she wasn't the Enterprise. Both of which he needed to remind himself of. His head was muddled; he still had a pretty steady headache from exhaustion and a concussion that would be awhile yet in healing, and he couldn't keep a bloody grip on anything, right now, except that if he didn't retreat, he wouldn't survive. And every bit of the officer in him was telling him to buck up, to go back and just deal with it, and he couldn't.
He ground his teeth together, like he'd done a million times in the past few weeks, and he held on by his fingernails until he could breathe right again, and he outright refused to fall apart sitting in a high speed transport surrounded by civilians.
Every bit of the Chief, of the Starfleet officer, pulling backwards for his ship and home.
Every bit of a man who'd had his body used as a murder weapon, who'd been killed and resurrected, driving forward to safety and home.
Three hours later, after having startled out of another cold, dark nightmare, he scrubbed his hands practically to bleeding and then spent the rest of the ship's night with his penlight in hand to try to chase it all away, hanging on with everything he had to everything he could so he might just make it home.
The transport was in fair shape. Maybe she'd even be fast enough.
She didn’t know whether she would call it sad or beautiful, looking at it as it sat there tethered to the floating dock in the fine, steady rain that came down cold. Uhura was one of the few of her former bridge crew who had no interest in sailing, so there wasn’t much that she could say about the sailboat, except that the elegant curve of the hull and the well-tended lines and woodwork were pleasing to the eye, and the way the world was grays and more grays around it made it feel somehow melancholy.
“Do you ever actually sail the boat?” she asked, looking over to where Scotty stood next to her, obstinately outside of the weather shield that was currently keeping her dry from the rain that was plastering his silver hair down to his head like a helmet. It was a good-natured question, and even though their romance had began and ended with the ease and self-awareness of maturity long since, she was still angling for a trip out on the water.
Not for the trip itself, even, but for the company of an old friend.
“Oh, no,” he said, crinkling his nose briefly, then palming the water off of his face with a long-practiced motion. “Never was much of a sailor, really.”
Uhura, of all people, could read layers of communication. She looked back at the boat, and she didn’t bother to ask why he bought it and restored it, if he never planned on sailing it. Even if she didn’t know the story, it was written in the beautiful restored lines and in the gray melancholy of the rain. “Well, Mister, if you’re going to insist on bringing me out here to show it to me and then not taking me out on it, I’m going to insist on something warm to drink.”
That chased away the tired shadows in his eyes, and Scotty grinned back easily, offering a wet arm without concern for her to take gallantly. “That, I can do. I’ll have ye know that I make a mean hot chocolate.”
She took his arm, even soaked, with grin of her own. “That, you can do.”
It was the last time she saw him, before he left on the Jenolan the following year, and she always felt it somehow fitting; the last thing he restored, saved, sitting melancholy in the rain, and his warm, good-natured company over cocoa after.
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