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.
Chapter Notes: Scotty, trying to cope with what happened on Argelius II, at least long enough to get home.