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Chapter Notes: Scotty's no longer quite alone in his nightmares.

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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.


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