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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.

"I'm late."

"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.

"That bad?"

"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."

"Aye, maybe."

"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."

"No details?"

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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