For once, everyone belongs to Paramount. I am, of course, making no profit.
Notes: Prompted by my friend RenArcher; Spock, McCoy and Scott meet as children. Kinda. Probably not what she had in mind (given the age gaps between them), but hey. Of course, none of the involved parties know each other. Originally posted and best read here.
The port was rather chilly; the temperature kept to a more galactic standard, which tended to be cooler than what was comfortable for humans. On the other hand, it would probably be even more uncomfortable for those from a hot climate, and still too warm for those from very cold places, but it was as close to a 'norm' as could be agreed upon. It was also quiet; there had been a few shuttle malfunctions, necessitating a layover for a couple dozen people in the hours when most transit shuttles were gone already.
He was sure that, if they only would let him sit down the with the shuttle, he would be able to figure out what was wrong. Well, with enough time and maybe some schematics or computer access. But he knew that if he had those things -- time, knowledge and tools -- he would be able to eventually figure it out. It didn't yet occur to him that realistically, he had no hopes of being able to provide a fix for a complex piece of equipment like that in the amount of time it would take the station's techs. In his mind, it would be a much bigger and more complicated piece than a toy of the same build, but still entirely fathomable.
At least when it came to mechanics, Montgomery could fathom things, could understand them, and finally, could fix them.
The reality of it didn't let him get away, though; he put his feet up to rest on the edge of the bench, wrapped his arms around his knees in a silent, instinctive attempt to feel warmer, and rested his chin on them. In that reality he was a ten-year-old in a spaceport, waiting while his mother tried to book alternate passage or a hotel room. It was a fairly secure area; he wasn't the only child there. He only really took a distant notice of the other two when he couldn't further debate on what had malfunctioned with the shuttle.
The first was a baby. Well, a toddler. Held by a human woman, but the toddler had pointed ears and that faint greenish cast that pegged him as a Vulcan. The woman looked very tired; she was dressed in fairly exotic but simple clothing, dark hair pulled up into a simple style. Despite her rather classy appearance, though, there was a warmth and love she practically radiated, holding onto the drowsy but still observant child wrapped in a colorful blanket. Nothing aloof. She was plainly waiting, and comforting both herself and the toddler as she waited. Maybe a care-taker.
The other was a little older. 'Bout five or six, a wiry child with somewhat curly brown hair. Looked tired too, but the boy was swinging his legs under the bench where he was sitting next to a large pile of luggage. It was a fair guess that his parents or guardians were probably trying to do the same thing that everyone else was -- find a way out of here, or a place to sleep.
"I'm hungry," that boy said, not really directed at anyone, just a brief moment of complaining.
The woman looked over at him with a smile, and the toddler she was holding turned his head as well. "I have some energy bars," she said, and the warmth was still evident in her voice. "Would that work?"
There was a long moment where the boy looked like he was extremely self-conscious for speaking up in the first place. Embarrassed. Not quite to the level of mortified.
"It's all right," she said, with that same patient smile. "I have plenty."
"I'd be much obliged, ma'am," the boy answered, cordially and with an accent that sounded... well, kind of slow and drawn out. It sounded like a line that had been rehearsed before; manners that were repeated so many times that they were well on their way to becoming a fundamental part of his speech. Still looked a little sheepish, too. He stood and made his way over to her, not quite hesitantly.
She managed to shuffle the toddler she was holding enough to reach into the carry-on bag she had over her shoulder. "What kind? Strawberry?"
The little boy lit up, and that was all the reply she needed. She chuckled, a pretty sort of sound, and pulled out the right bar to give to the child. He gave her an almost formal bow in response, or half of one. "Thank you, ma'am."
"You're very welcome," she said, and then turned her attention to the ten-year-old who had been silently observing this exchange. "How about you?"
He felt in that moment like he had just become entirely visible, and it was a disconcerting feeling. Without thought, he drew his knees tighter to his chest, shaking his head before he realized that he'd have to do better than that. It was hard for him to raise his voice enough to actually be heard, but he managed, "No, ma'am, I'm fine. Thanks."
"Are you sure?" she asked, raising an eyebrow slightly. Not a mean look, but a... he wasn't sure what kind of look it was. Not threatening. Just more disconcerting.
He nodded again, not quite looking at her, not quite looking past her. "Aye, I am."
She looked at him a moment longer, then offered a half-smile. He got the distinct impression she was going to say something else, but then someone else joined the small gathering. A tall man, Vulcan, in formal clothes. When he stepped into the hall, all eyes were immediately on him; he carried himself like someone that was afforded respect without conscious volition -- he had a presence, not entirely tied to his height. He spoke to the woman, quietly, and she nodded and spoke back in the same low tones. His face was impassive, calm. He carefully took the toddler, who immediately got comfortable again on one shoulder of the man who had to be his father.
The woman took a moment more, after the man turned to leave, to step over and set an energy bar on the bench. "In case you change your mind," she said.
Montgomery felt his face flush; there was an instant war there between gratitude and pride. A certain sense of being affronted or... something. Not quite insulted, but still a little angry or flustered or something along those lines. He wanted to thank her politely and tell her that he did mean it when he said he was fine coolly -- that he was a bit hungry didn't matter or enter into the equation -- and trapped between those two warring feelings, he wasn't able to say anything. He just rested his chin back on his knees and hoped that she wouldn't say anything more.
She didn't seem to be looking for a reply, though, just turned and followed the tall man carrying the toddler. That left the two remaining children and a few adult stragglers; dignitaries, technicians, professionals. Security guards at the end of the hallway.
The other boy had pretty much gobbled his energy bar down, and threw the wrapper away in a nearby receptacle. After that, he peered back across, and looked like he wanted to start talking. Tired still, but apparently feeling better for some food. "She was nice," he said, some of his formality dropping now that it was an adult-free conversation. "Dad says that good manners make good people."
Montgomery had no desire whatsoever to debate on manners; the woman was nice, but he still felt a little bit like his pride had been insulted, and he really didn't want to discuss anything with anyone. In as such, he didn't reply to that comment.
The other boy must have gotten the idea that his friendliness wasn't making any impression fast, and he made a sour face. "Something to that idea, I guess," he grumbled, intentionally loud enough to be heard.
It was impossible not to blink, and even smile a little at that. Not because it was funny, exactly. But just because it was somehow neat that the boy who apparently believed that good manners were a hallmark of civilization wasn't afraid to toss those aside for the sake of taking a verbal potshot when he felt insulted. In the weirdest way, it was almost admirable.
He didn't take the bait, just stood up and took the energy bar the woman had left over, offering it to the other child. It was pretty obvious that the boy was still hungry, and it was just as much a way to soothe his own pride a little. "Here."
"She gave it to you," the boy said, with a vaguely shrewd look.
"I dinna want it." He half-shrugged. And he meant that.
There was a long pause, then the boy took it, the insult fading from his expression. "Thanks."
Mercifully, by the time he finished the second bar, the boy's father turned up. Yet another weary traveler, an older man with hair that looked like it had gone too gray too fast. After a few minutes of coordinating the luggage, he spoke to his son and then headed down the hall. The little boy waved when he left, and Montgomery waved back.
The spaceport went quiet again; the rest of the stragglers drifted away, leaving him and the security guards down the hall, and some new thoughts about what was wrong with the shuttle even though he honestly didn't have the faintest clue. But it gave him something to think about, something to get lost in. Something to chew over that would keep his mind off of the chill, or his own tiredness, or any before or after.
He settled into his own thoughts, and waited.