His first look at Corry in a year was a blur of blond, blue and black, but he didn't quite have time to process it before his entire attention was focused on not ending up on the ground.
Really, Cor must have checked himself before running full-out into his former roommate, but it still took the screeching of service boots and some flailing not to land on the floor. By that point, two things occurred to Scott: The first being that Corry must be pretty acclimated to this climate, and the second was that he hadn't become a robot.
"What are you doing here?! I can't believe it, I thought that something was really weird about them pulling me out of class, and I had no idea what to expect, but--" Corry cut himself off about a millisecond before Scotty was about to tell him to slow down, then grinned and pulled the nearly off-his-feet engineer back upright. "Man, is it good to see you."
Despite nearly taking a header into a polished stone floor, Scott couldn't help but laugh at that one. "I'd never've guessed." He gestured to the bag and crate that he'd luckily set aside before he got bowled into. "I'm playin' delivery boy." And then he noticed the three or four Vulcan students who had stopped and were watching them. "And apparently, freakin' the natives out."
Corry was beaming, obviously not caring what the natives thought. "Delivery boy? Don't tell me you really have a time-sensitive experiment of the utmost importance."
"Sort of. But yer mother asked if I'd bring yer birthday presents," Scott replied, then raised an eyebrow at the Vulcan audience, demanding, "What?!"
Looking almost offended, the students headed away in a most logical manner. Corry laughed, shaking his head, "They're not that bad, but man, do you have any idea how hard it is to get through a day without so much as a smile?" His expression fell a little. "My brain's on fire, I swear. I mean, they give logically portioned rest periods, and they've given me a little extra time because I'm only human, but..." He took a breath, then shook his head again. "I didn't even remember my birthday was coming up."
Scotty frowned. Cor did look beat, despite his exuberance. "Good thing I reminded ye, then, isn't it?"
"Yeah, yeah it is." The moment passed and Corry grinned again, shifting right back into high gear. "So, how long're you here for? I can probably get away with spending a few hours doing something other than studying."
Sometimes, he really hated being the bearer of bad news. Scott shook his head. "'Bout a half-hour. Between the walk here, and waitin' while they called you out, and then takin' into account walkin' back."
Corry tried pretty hard not to look crestfallen, but it wasn't a perfect try. "Ah well. Wanna go sit down for a few minutes? You look like you need to."
"That'd be nice, aye," Scotty admitted.
It was a good bit cooler in the shadows of the garden, and that said something, because it was still pretty oppressive. Plus, everything was very neat. Very organized.
"I'm sorry that I haven't written much," Corry said, between bites of the soup that he'd near gone orbital over getting. "By the time I get done answering all of Mom and Dad's questions, and making sure Rachel knows she's pretty enough for college, I'm usually so tired I can't see straight."
"I don't really expect much," Scott replied, all but clinging to the bottle of water one of the Vulcan garden-keepers had handed him. That had improved his opinion of this planet immeasurably.
"Yeah, but I feel bad." Cor smiled, shaking his head. "'Cause you go to all this trouble to send me these long messages, and then I turn 'em on, promptly tune you out and go to sleep."
Scott ended up laughing so hard that he made himself dizzy all over again. Once he got half-a-breath back, he said, "Good God, man, I'd be disappointed if ye did anything else!"
By then, Corry was laughing too.
"That's fine, there's nothin' that interesting in 'em to begin with."
"Sometimes you get interesting," Corry said, after he'd stopped chuckling. "Your rants about how people should take better care of their ships are downright colorful."
"I've got probably about thirty hours of those in my head." Scott took a long drink of his water, then checked the time and winced. "And about ten minutes before I have to drag myself back to the Nickelplate
"Hang here a minute, I've got some stuff to send home to Mom." Cor got up and headed out before Scotty could protest.
Luckily, there was less to carry back to Earth than there had been to carry to Vulcan; two light packages, and Corry kept the duffle bag all of his birthday presents had been in. That would, hopefully, make the walk back to the port a little easier.
Even after a whole quart of water and sitting in the shade, Scott wasn't looking forward to it, but he didn't have much of a choice. Plus, it was hard to want to leave Corry there -- he doubted that Cor got to be himself all that often on this planet.
Corry must've been thinking along the same tracks. Looking out into the dry, red heat, he said, "There's never enough time, Wolf, is there?"
The nickname made Scott smile; Corry was the only one left who still called him that, and every time he heard it, he felt a little like he had only just stepped onto the decks of the Lady Grey
, with everything in the universe still well within his reach. It was really hard to believe that had only been just over a year ago. "There is. Just... not right now, ye know?"
"One year, Cor. One year, and ye can transfer back to Earth. Go sailin', have normal classes, and winter," he made a joking face at that, "with yer twenty-odd inches of snow..."
Corry nodded, his expression fading from a sort of tired look to a more easy one. "And standing on the swing bridge after the lobster fleet goes out, or getting coffee at the cafe..."
"Aye, just like that."
"Hey, Scotty... do me a favor, okay?"
"Name it," Scott answered, though he half-wondered what he was getting himself into.
Corry looked back at him then. "Go back and see my parents when you can?"
"I'm hardly a substitute," Scotty said, grinning wryly.
"No... no, you're not," Cor said, and for a moment it sounded like teasing, until he finished, "You're you, and that's why."
He didn't have time to ponder on that, or even really ask about it. It was still hard to leave, though. "Time I go, Cor."
"I know." Corry gave a half-smile. "Take care, Wolf."
The metal railing of the swing bridge was very cool in the pre-dawn, early September air, and the sunrise was about a half-hour away, give or take. Though, the fishing fleet was on the move; across the bay, he could hear the shouts of people preparing their gear, getting ready to head on out.
Scott didn't get to linger long on the bridge; boats always had right of way through the Gut, and a foghorn blast made him retreat to the other side. But for the moments he had stood there, he could see why Corry liked it. Sure, the bridge was massively outdated, but there was something...
Something kind of optimistic about looking across a working harbor and seeing the glowing running lights of boats, and the slow rise of dawn, and the timeless routine of generations. It was the first real look he'd ever had of this town, not from the perspective of someone who was only there because he had to be, but because he actually wanted to be.
It was a bit of a hike to the Corrigan household, but the lights were already on in the kitchen. He still didn't really like the idea of walking up and knocking, and he still hadn't quite puzzled out everything about this family of... of entirely incomprehensible New Englanders, but he'd told Corry that he would and so he did.
Cor's mother looked less surprised this time, even despite the early hour. "Good morning."
"Ma'am," Scott replied, holding out the packages Corry had sent back with him. "Yer son asked me to bring these."
"I know, he wrote and told me he'd be sending them," she said, with a chuckle. She took those in one arm, then got the other around his shoulders and didn't give him much of a chance to slip away. "C'mon, we're just about to have breakfast."
There was a split second where Scott thought about planting his feet and then getting out of there. He would never figure out exactly why he didn't do that. And eventually, he stopped asking himself.
He nodded once, and went along.