Across the Road
ST:TOS, Arc of the Wolf
2286, just before ST:IV
They are all Paramount's, not mine.
Notes: It's... something. I don't even quite know what. It's also out of context. The song is 'One Step Closer' by U2.
The days passed much the same way; mostly with him asleep through the worst of the heat, then awake again in the comparative cool of the evening to work through the night. Often he had some help; sometimes he worked alone. Almost always he felt tired and out of breath. He might have wondered where all his energy went, that ceaseless, restless, driven hum under the surface, but he already knew the answer.
And still, he got up in the evening to work, and still he went to sleep after the sky had become bright and still and hot. There was no variation, not in the outside world or inside of himself.
It wasn't even that he felt bad. He just felt tired. Old.
If it had been an entirely new feeling, Scott might have had more problems dealing with it, but it wasn't. It was familiar, and even strangely comforting in that familiarity. He didn't have a future to speak of. He didn't even really have a present, in all honesty -- work, sleep, eat, work, repeat.
That only left a past he couldn't really bear to look at, and the soul deep knowledge that he kept fighting on because it was all he knew how to do.
The rest of the crew was in a wide array of emotional states. Admiral Kirk spent a good deal of his time brooding alone, or in the company of a strangely quiet McCoy. McCoy had been recovering some of himself over the time that they took asylum on Vulcan, but it was a slow process. Scotty figured that having to host another person in your head and then having that person returned to their own probably would
require some serious recovery time; still, he was certain when he saw McCoy that he wasn't the only one who felt old and tired and lost.
Spock was little more than a shadow of himself much of the time. Of all the numb stretches in the past several months, the pinpoint of joy at Spock being alive again was a memorable one for Scotty. For any number of reasons, really. For everyone's sake; even his. For the Admiral's sake, in not having to live with the death of his best friend. For McCoy's sake, for regaining sole possession of his mind.
Scott was certain that Spock would recover. He didn't know how he knew it, but he did, as certainly as he knew that he would be able to get the stolen Bird-of-Prey shipshape.
The younger members of the crew seemed to fare the best, and that was little surprise. Sulu sometimes fell into a melancholy mood, and Scotty often found himself listening as the would-have-been Captain talked it out, but then the melancholy would fade back to a determination. Chekov talked a lot of cynicism it was obvious he didn't feel, when he worked, and sometimes cracked a dry joke. Uhura seemed to be the steadiest of the lot of them -- she also made the best use of her time, studying the culture and language and customs of Vulcan in depth when she wasn't helping to work on the pirated Klingon ship.
For his own part, Scott just worked and slept and played a role that had become so ingrained that he wasn't even sure sometimes if it was a role, or who he really was. He'd grin at the jokes, listen to the melancholy, chatter about engineering, and reply dismissively "I'm all right," when asked in the usual polite conversation how he was doing.
It was the truth. He was still breathing, and so long as he was breathing, he was fighting.
And so long as he was fighting, he was all right.
It was the only defiance he had left to give the universe, and a strangely merciful universe demanded no more of him than that. Keep breathing. Simple enough.
The days and nights passed the same way. He let them go without any struggle to define deeper meanings or find some greater purpose. His was to fix the ship and to fill a spot on the crew; no more, no less. It was comforting too, in its familiarity, just like being lost.
He didn't think about his Enterprise
often. Only sometimes, she whispered in his dreams; the last song, the last few bars of the refrain, the last view of her streaking across the sky. Better than a breaking yard, he had thought. Better to burn bright for a moment, than be dismantled piece by piece. That left him only a grim pride and quiet longing, as his only home flared bright and then burned out.
He didn't think about his nephew often, either. Only sometimes, in his sleep. He barely had gotten to know the lad, and then Peter was gone. It wasn't that it didn't hurt; God, but it did. But then reality came right back in, and Scott had his own role to play -- fix the ship, fill a spot on the crew. No time for grief. No strength, really, left to survive that grief if he did take the time for it.
No future, no present, only a past that he couldn't go back to and the certain knowledge that breathing on was the only defiance he had left to give.
The night fell and he headed back to the Bird-of-Prey, limping for a short time until his old legs warmed up enough and his hip stopped troubling him. Sulu was there, dressed in coveralls, ready to start work on the helm controls.
"How are you?" he asked amiably.
Scotty didn't even hesitate to reply, with a good-natured grin, "I'm all right."
And it was the truth.