Summer in Riverside meant storms, and not just any storms, but the sort that bred tornadoes and threw out hail the size of golf balls and flooded the city streets. This wasn't a problem, in general, for the shipyard itself, because the parts were machined and assembled in a half-subterranean plant that was built to withstand even the most powerful cyclones and ringed by special drainage trenches which fed the English River through underground waterways. It did make life interesting for Starfleet personnel living in the shipyard barracks, though.
For Jim it was a new return to an old routine. Riverside had grown when the shipyard had gone in, upgrading from sleepy Midwest farm town to almost awake Starfleet waystation, though that hadn't changed much of the town proper. On his last visit he'd found a few shops and bars and restaurants that had been there when he'd left were gone, replaced by something new and different, while others remained in new hands, and still others stood as sentinels against the ebb and flow of time, run by familiar names and faces.
It was easy to avoid the town by sticking to the shipyard, so he did that for the entire first day, and everything was fine. He had meetings with the command crew, then some remote video conferences, and then spent quality time with his tablet and a round of reports. It was the most normal day he'd had in months.
He should have known it wouldn't last.
He took his lunch on the second day out in a field that abutted the shipyard. The storms were in rare form, and there were severe weather warnings for every county for fifty square miles. It wasn't a concern for him; he knew how to spot a tornado, where all the shelters were, and how much time he had if a siren sounded.
Scotty, however, completely hated it, and had spent most of his time in his room or in the plant. So when he crashed Jim's private picnic, Jim suspected an ulterior motive.
"Captain. Enjoying the, ah, view?"
"Mr. Scott." He offered Scotty one of his remaining sandwiches, which Scotty declined with a shake of his head. "Just keeping an eye on things."
"I prefer to pretend they're not there, myself."
"Hard to ignore it when they're like this," Jim said, and nodded to the west in particular. In the distance, an enormous supercell's mesocyclone dominated the horizon; the broad, curving column of white and ash gray and deep blue spread flat along the top into rippling mammatus clouds, and terminated in a torrent of dark rain a few thousand feet off the ground at its base. Scotty stared at it and swallowed.
"Don't worry," Jim said, and took a long drink from his water bottle. "That's just a supercell still."
"...just?" Scotty asked.
"Trust me, the sirens'll go off long before anything touches down. They've got this vortex tracking system that can't miss, have for forty years now. Had to, or they'd never have put a shipyard here, it'd just get torn up every time the weather acted up. We're completely clear of the main drag." Belatedly, it occurred to Jim that the existence of a 'main drag' was worrisome all on its own if one wasn't familiar with such things.
In a low voice, like he might draw the storm's attention, Scotty asked, "Were you ever caught in one?"
"A few times. There's shelters all over here." He gestured around them with the water bottle. "See those big posts with the lights?"
"Oh, those god-awful fluorescent things you can see for miles? Got one of them like, twenty feet from my room."
"Yep. Bunkers, in case you're stuck outside and can't get clear."
"Christ on a crutch. How the hell do people live here." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Scotty seemed to be preparing an apology, but Jim shrugged and shook his head.
"How do they live anywhere? You put up with something for long enough and it's just normal." He wondered what that said about him, that he was used to storm shelters. "That said," he cleared his throat, "San Francisco wasn't exactly a step down."
"No, indeed. Quite a lovely little spot, really. Though the fog and the damp get kind of old."
"Yeah, they don't really get a Spring." Jim's gaze wandered out over the field. "How long until the new core's ready to go up?"
"Should be ready Saturday.” Scotty snorted. “Tomorrow, if I can't convince Pavel to take proper breaks." When Jim gave him a sideways look, a note of castigation slipped into Scotty’s voice. "That boy's going to work himself to death."
Jim grimaced and stared down at the ground. "I'll talk to him."
"I sure hope you do more than just talk."
Jim flicked a brief glance at Scotty, and that seemed to warn him off toeing the line any further. As if to offer an olive branch, Scotty said, "I imagine Spock and McCoy aren't much better off."
Jim's laugh sounded hollow even to his own ears. "Spock keeps giving me his bullshit line about Vulcans not needing as much sleep as Humans, like 'not as much' means 'any'. I told Uhura to tell me if he pushes it too far and won't listen to her. Bones, though..." He sighed. "Not sure what to do about him."
"A piece of advice, Captain: let Spock handle him." Jim frowned. "He's your First Officer. It's his job to help you manage the crew. McCoy might be your friend, but that's not all he is."
It bothered Jim that he'd never even considered asking Spock for help with McCoy. "Ah, thanks, Scotty. That sounds like a good idea."
"Oh, I wouldn't go that far--I mean, you've seen them go at each other, I'm sure. But it's better than you trying to recover and take care of other people at the same time. Let someone else do some of the work."
Something was clawing at Jim's thoughts, and he needed to not look at it, so he said, "I will. Thanks."
"You're welcome, Captain." Scotty tipped his head back at the shipyards. "Time to get back to it."
Jim nodded, and Scotty left, picking his way through the field with care.
He hadn't even thought of asking Spock to help him with Bones.
Jim gathered up his picnic and went to find Chekov.
Chekov was in the machining shop, going over specifications with the machinists. It wasn't hard to get him to drop whatever argument he was embroiled in, because when Jim walked up everyone fell silent, and Chekov turned to regard him with wide eyes.
"Captain! It is very good to see you."
Scotty hadn’t been exaggerating. Chekov looked like he hadn’t slept or eaten in a week: his skin was sallow and there were dark circles under his eyes.
"You too, Mr. Chekov." He gave the machinists a smile. "Is it okay if I borrow Mr. Chekov for a few minutes? I'll bring him right back."
No one objected, and Jim and Chekov stepped into one of the small side offices. They were built to block out the sound from the shop proper, which was a feat of engineering even Scotty praised on a regular basis. The floor still vibrated every now and then, but the screams and droning hums and dull thuds cut off when Jim shut the door.
Chekov started talking the second the door was closed. "Is everything alright, Captain? We're working very hard to have the warp core ready in time." He looked nervous, and Jim hoped this wasn't going to make him work harder, because that wasn't the point.
He'd meant to start out with asking him to not exhaust himself into an early grave, and instead wound up saying, "Listen, Chekov, before we talk about anything else, I need to tell you that--I'm sorry."
Chekov's nervousness morphed into horror. "Sorry, sir? For what?"
"For putting you through everything that happened." Chekov's eyes widened further as Jim went on. "Your first day heading Engineering shouldn't have involved trying to manage a warp core that was being sabotaged by equipment I was warned could be dangerous to bring on-board. It was a ridiculous thing for me to ask you to do, and I apologize."
"Captain, I--it was not your fault. Admiral Marcus was trying to, as you say, sabotage us. You could not have known that."
"I know. It's hard to accept that, but I know. But that doesn't mean I don't owe you an apology. Marcus' plan doesn't excuse my own mistakes. Not the one where I didn't recognize something was wrong with his orders, and definitely not my refusal to listen to the people who did."
Chekov swallowed, turning his tricorder over in his hands, then said, "Apology accepted, Captain."
Jim wanted to smile and reassure Chekov, but his own words were echoing in his head, growing louder every passing second.
I didn't listen to the people who told me something was wrong.
He realized Chekov was waiting for him to do something, so he nodded, forced a smile, and asked, "Is there anything else you need? Aside from more sleep."
Chekov blushed and looked away. "Mr. Scott has been telling me to rest more, but it is hard to when the ship still needs so much work, sir."
Jim thought of McCoy refusing to take some time off, and something twinged in his chest. At least the Enterprise deserved the attention. "Yeah. I think I know what you mean." Chekov regarded him once more, and Jim told him, "We've got time, though, and the last thing I need is you at Starfleet Medical from exhaustion. Scotty and Bones will kick my ass if that happens."
"I see, sir," Chekov murmured, and ducked his head. "I will take more time to rest."
"Okay. I don't want to appoint someone to make you do it, but I'm sure Sulu or Keenser would be happy to."
Chekov's blush was much stronger this time. "Ah, no sir, that will not be necessary."
"Okay." Jim flicked a glance at a window, and saw the horizon was almost entirely obscured by thick, dark clouds. "Take care, Mr. Chekov. Comm me or send a message if you need anything."
"I will, Captain, thank you."
Jim turned to go, his next destination certain.