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Old January 7 2009, 09:13 PM   #1
SLWatson
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January Challenge - Across the Road

Title: Across the Road
Series: ST:TOS, Arc of the Wolf
Timeline: 2286, just before ST:IV
Words: 970
Disclaimer:
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.

Lost.

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.

Last edited by SLWatson; January 7 2009 at 09:23 PM.
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Old January 7 2009, 09:19 PM   #2
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Is this your Jan entry? Cause I'm willing to concede now if it is....
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Old January 7 2009, 09:20 PM   #3
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Mistral wrote: View Post
Is this your Jan entry? Cause I'm willing to concede now if it is....
LOL! It is, but no concessions allowed.
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Old January 7 2009, 11:44 PM   #4
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Nobody seems to write internal struggle and anguish quite like you do. While readings this I was actually thinking: Damn, I should try something like this once.

Very nicely done.
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Old January 7 2009, 11:46 PM   #5
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

CeJay wrote: View Post
Nobody seems to write internal struggle and anguish quite like you do. While readings this I was actually thinking: Damn, I should try something like this once.

Very nicely done.
One brilliant author who goes well above anything I can hope to is Norman Maclean who wrote 'A River Runs Through It'. If I have any competency at it, it's only because I've studied a true master.

Thanks so much, CeJay.
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Old January 8 2009, 01:18 AM   #6
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Wow, great little story. Excellent writing. I have the feeling we already have a winner for this contest...
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Old January 8 2009, 01:22 AM   #7
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Count Zero wrote: View Post
Wow, great little story. Excellent writing. I have the feeling we already have a winner for this contest...
LOL! I doubt it. There are so many excellent authors here that I'll be lucky if I place in the top three. But thank you very much for the vote of confidence.
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Old January 8 2009, 02:34 AM   #8
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

I love how you are able to so believably get inside the quiet moments for the Trek characters. Scotty's reaction to the loss of the Enterprise is never shown in the movies but it must have been a powerfully emotional experience for him - but I can completely believe he would hide all that because there was work to be done.

btw - thank you for entering so early - you've inspired me to think of a story (whether I'll get it written is another matter).
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Old January 8 2009, 02:47 AM   #9
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

trampledamage wrote: View Post
I love how you are able to so believably get inside the quiet moments for the Trek characters. Scotty's reaction to the loss of the Enterprise is never shown in the movies but it must have been a powerfully emotional experience for him - but I can completely believe he would hide all that because there was work to be done.

btw - thank you for entering so early - you've inspired me to think of a story (whether I'll get it written is another matter).
Thank you very much, and I hope you manage to get yours written! I'll definitely look forward to it.
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Old January 8 2009, 07:16 AM   #10
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Very well done...a very fitting experience reading this with the song playing.

Trampledamage and CeJay really hit the nail on the head...I repeat their comments.
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Old January 8 2009, 07:17 AM   #11
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Very well done...a very fitting experience reading this with the song playing.

Trampledamage and CeJay really hit the nail on the head...I repeat their comments.
Thank you!
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Old January 8 2009, 11:20 AM   #12
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Very nice story, not often we get into Scotty's head. Well done
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Old January 8 2009, 06:58 PM   #13
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

Starkers wrote: View Post
Very nice story, not often we get into Scotty's head. Well done
::coughs:: I spend an absurd amount of time wandering around his headspace. It's more than a little fascinating -- just when you think you've got every single thing figured out, some other facet comes to light.

Thank you very much!
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Old January 10 2009, 02:02 PM   #14
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

A fitting tribute to both Scotty and James Doohan. The old warhorse who's always there, always reliable, who never gives up, and never asks for any praise or recognition for what he's done--the mere fact that the job is done is good enough for him.
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Old January 10 2009, 03:26 PM   #15
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Re: January Challenge - Across the Road

That was simply beautiful and serenely touching. An emotional time for all the crew but again you've just nailed down the external and internal Scotty. Much praise and congratulations for a fine piece of writing and an excellent song choice.

Early days I know but we might be 'One Step Closer' to a winner ...
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