Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by SLWatson, Nov 23, 2008.

  1. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    This section picks up one year after On the Nature of Wind. In order to really understand this, you should have probably read that. Especially since the first story spoils the ending of that tale.

    It's also the last 'complete' part of the broad story arc that I have done so far; I doubt I'll post the rest yet, just because there are so many gaps where big things happen that the stories I do have done have little context. It may be a long time; right now, my ability to write well seems to have abandoned me.

    Nonetheless, if you're interested in reading them out of context, you can find them here. There are some Pike-era pieces, and some classical TOS-style fanfic that doesn't require a ton of context to enjoy. Even a bit of Christmas fluff. All listed in chronological order, to boot.

    True Bearings is probably one of my favorite parts, if only because it was written rather easily. It's still close to the ground, and most of it is strongly character-based. It has some really light, warm parts in it; likewise, it does have its occasional gritty moments. Mostly, it's about the process of discovering what it's like to be a part of a family.

    "A true bearing is measured in relation to true north..."
     
  2. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Time

    Title: Time
    Rating: PG
    Words: 3523
    Timeline: 2244
    Disclaimer: Scotty belongs to Paramount, Corry and family belong to yours truly.
    Notes: One year later finds Scotty and Corry doing the best they can to keep their heads up in the mess they got into. Originally posted here.

    --

    The Lunar Spaceport was about the most dirty place in the solar system. Unlike the beauty that was Spacedock, or the utterly organized chaos of the San Francisco Fleet Yards, the Lunar port was a rough, dark, somewhat grimy platform in space. The only area that boasted anything like clean living was in the tourist center, and the rest of the damn place was just... well, greasy, really. Kind of like living in a really bad dive.

    It was, sometimes, hard to remember that he was an engineer and not a grease monkey, but usually all it took to make him stop questioning his entirely debatable circumstances was to remind himself that he could be in prison instead.

    It was far better to be a free grease monkey, Scotty figured, than be a prisoner. It was at least honest work. Further reasoning lead him to the old conclusion that he had gotten himself into it, and that eventually he'd be able to work himself back out of it -- in the meantime, he'd behave himself, work hard and thoroughly appreciate that he at least was wearing a Starfleet uniform and not a prison one-piece.

    Still, on days like this one, it was kind of hard not to bitch.

    He dropped to sit on the floor of his barely-closet-sized quarters; covered with muck from badly maintained personal vessels, he knew better than to sit on his bunk. He'd made that mistake once, on a tired day, and ended up having to buy all new bedding, rather than wait however many weeks it took to requisition it. At least he had coveralls to wear over his uniform; he had a bad feeling that if he ruined the uniforms, he'd probably end up in really deep trouble.

    The monitor light was blinking, and once he managed to peel himself out of his coveralls, he got up, absently scratching at the back of one leg with a socked foot. Thumbing the switch, he waited forever for the outdated network to bring up his messages.

    All right. Two new schematics, one tech journal, one letter from his aunt...

    And one outbound assignment.

    Scott grinned a bit to himself, scrolling down to open that message. He was in the rotation pool for shipboard assignments, but it wasn't nearly as often as he liked when he got one. And almost always, he ended up just staying within light of Sol, then it was right back to Lunar and right back to crawling around the guts of these bloody pieces of junk.

    "Cargo Transport, Vulcan, U.F.P. C/V Nickelplate: 16 days..." He grinned wider. "About bloody time." And then he saw the estimated time of departure and the grin vanished.

    Eight hours.

    "Oh, sonuva --" That left about ten minutes to get properly cleaned up, two hours to get to Earth, however much time to pick things up, two hours to get back to Lunar...

    He grabbed a clean uniform, dashed out, then skidded back in to grab his boots off of the floor.




    It had been twice since Corry was 'exiled' to Vulcan that Scotty had been back to South Bristol, and both of those times were because his best friend practically begged him to go. Neither time had been very comfortable, but he went anyway to check on the family and report back. It wasn't in the least that Corry's parents didn't write to him, but Cor wanted an outside report on how they looked, and Scott was willing to bite the bullet and go do as he was asked.

    One thing he never failed to complain about in his head, though, was that South Bristol was about as secluded as a place could get. And cab fare was a fortune from the transport station in Augusta, too. If not for the fact that the people were pretty friendly, Scott would have thought the town was xenophobic, but they were nice people. They just liked peace.

    Which was why he was in danger of missing this damn assignment.

    He still took a few precious minutes to steel himself enough to walk up to the door. This was the first time he'd come here of his own volition, and he was half-expecting to get pitched into the street on his ear. But finally, realizing that standing there was going to cost him this run, he went up and knocked.

    It was a moment before Corry's mother answered the door; he'd stepped as far back on the steps as he could, and when she opened it, she frowned in puzzlement. Before she had a chance to ask, though, Scotty leapt into it. "Ma'am. I, uh... well, I got an assignment to Vulcan, and I wanted to know if ye had anything ye wanted me to take to Cor. Er, Andy. Yer son." And then he promptly mentally kicked himself. "Idiot."

    Melinda blinked in surprise. "I... you're... all right." She half-smiled. "You came all the way from where?"

    "Lunar spaceport, ma'am." At least that was easily answered. "I don't have much time, though."

    "You'd better come in, then." She stepped aside and gestured to the door, and then frowned again when he shook his head. "We still don't bite."

    "Aye, I know, but..." Realizing that he had no really good excuse to turn down the offer, though, he winced and stepped through the door. "Sorry, ma'am."

    She eyed him a moment; ever since the court martial, she had been measuring him every single time she laid eyes on him, and Scott sometimes had to wonder what she was looking for. Though, really, he couldn't blame her -- he didn't think that the fact that he and her son had become two out of four of the first cadets ever court-martialed in Starfleet history was all that endearing. She was never stand-offish, or impolite, but the scrutiny was more than enough to make him study the floor.

    "I'll just be a few minutes; I was going to send his birthday presents via the post, but since you're going that way..." And with that, she headed up the steps.

    Once she was out of eye-shot, he relaxed a little bit. His own family had kind of gotten to the point where they did little more than shake their heads in disappointment; they hadn't wanted him to go into Starfleet, and then when he insisted, they pushed him until he gave in to go into command and not engineering, and then when he'd been booted out of command, they'd been suitably unhappy. And finally being informed that he was court-martialed, convicted and was going to be spending three years on corrective action (glorified grunt work in entirely inglorious places) had sort of broken any indignant fury they had over his actions.

    Corry's parents, though, still cared a great deal about what happened to their son. And Scotty cared enough to try to be worthy of being even peripherally involved with this family.

    Melinda came back down the steps with her arms full of packages. "Are you going to be able to carry these, or should I get a bag?"

    "I can manage, I think," Scott replied, though he wasn't exactly sure.

    She shook her head and then went to get an old duffle bag out of the hall closet, which she immediately packed the presents into. "How have you been?"

    "Workin'," Scotty said, automatically, leaning briefly around the doorway to the kitchen to check the clock on the wall. He winced when he saw the time. This was going to be razor close.

    "No, how have you been?" Melinda asked, zipping the bag and standing, then holding it out.

    "All right, I suppose." What did that really matter? He took the bag, frowning a little.

    She nodded and gave him that look again, that measuring look, that 'mother trying to figure out if her son's best friend was a bad apple' look, and it was hard not to go back to studying the rug underfoot.

    And then she did something that froze him in mid-thought and damn near made him drop the duffle bag in hand.

    She hugged him. Wrapped both arms around him, gave him a kiss on the cheek, then stepped back and this time it wasn't such a measuring look she gave, but a sort of warm one. "Be careful out there, okay?"

    Scott nodded, still shocked, and gestured with his free hand. "I... uhm, I've gotta go." And with that utterly useless reply, he was back out the door.

    It really did take most of the ride back to Augusta to get over that.




    The Nickelplate was forty years old and it was still in better shape than most of the vessels Scott had been working on of late. It was, at least, manned by a steady crew and the only reason he'd gotten a temporary place onboard was because one of the regular engineers had fallen sick. She sure wasn't the Constitution, but compared to doing courtesy service maintenance on a slew of private vessels at Lunar, she was a step up.

    At least he didn't spend pretty much every hour covered in crud; he was able to work in his normal uniform, sans coveralls, and do a bit of what he had been born to do.

    The sixteen day trip was the most relaxing time he'd had in awhile; he cringed when he saw that they'd only be in orbit around Vulcan for an hour and a half, but still, at least Cor would have a familiar face for that long. Corry's letters were downright sparse, leaving Scotty to be the one doing all the talking, which he only did because he knew perfectly well that Corry's schedule for the Vulcan Science Academy was so marathon that Cor was lucky to have time to breathe, let alone run long conversations.

    So somehow, against his usual nature, Scott found something to talk about. His favorite topic was cargo-carrying to the Fleet Yards, where he got to admire the four new Constitution-class ships being built or finished out, but there were a few occasions he managed some non-engineering talk, and even the odd occasion where he ended up rambling about things that occurred to him about life itself.

    It was almost like meditation at the end of the day, really.

    Vulcan, on the other hand, was not relaxing. Just walking from the port to the Academy was enough to make Scotty wish that he could drop on one of the obsessively manicured stretches of grass and gasp for air for a few minutes. It was incredibly hot, the gravity was a little higher than he was used to, and the air was thinner -- overall, it was one of the least human-friendly places he'd been to yet.

    He wasn't enamored in the least with the planet, the architecture or the people. Even as close as he played his cards, the idea of living so... so coldly was just beyond his comprehension. Not a single smiling face -- even the two or three humans he saw along the way (when he wasn't trying to stay conscious) looked like they'd had their personality removed.

    That made him worry a bit, though. He'd known when Corry had shipped off that it would be hard for someone that outgoing to survive in a place that frowned on excessive anything, but the idea of his best friend becoming a robot was enough to really bother him.

    Well, he'd find out soon enough. He took enough time before approaching the desk at the main entrance of the Academy to catch his breath (didn't work well enough), then asked where Corrigan was. After a few moments of checking the computer, the secretary replied impassively, "Ensign Corrigan is currently in class and will not be released for two hours, thirteen minutes and six seconds."

    Well, Hell if he was going to come all the way to Vulcan just to hear that. Scott put on his best poker face. "I'm afraid ye'll have to call him out o' class. I've got a serious, time-sensitive experiment for him and it can't wait that long."

    It was the truth, in a way. The experiment being whether or not Scott could make passable New England Clam Chowder on a jury-rigged stove in an engine room while attending to his duties, and the time-sensitivity being whether or not the sealed container keeping it fresh would continue to do so in the brutal Vulcan heat.

    The secretary rose one of her elegant eyebrows, and then stood and disappeared into one of the other rooms.

    Scotty smirked to himself after making sure that no one was looking.

    So far, so good.



    --
     
  3. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Time

    --


    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?"

    "Yeah."

    "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.
     
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Time

    I hope he learns to make some sort of connection here--it sounds to me like he's guilting himself more than she actually holds him responsible.
     
  5. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Time

    A bit, in a way. Looking back at how Scott pretty much lived in fear of disappointing his own family --

    --it makes sense. Yeah, he did make massive headway in ONOW in really learning how to one: connect with people and two: decide for himself what life would be about. But still has some lingering twitchiness; that's a whole lot of conditioning he's gotta shake off.

    Though, you gotta give the boy credit for not ducking and running when Melinda dragged him in for breakfast. ;) That was a whole lot harder for him, than her.

    This is definitely the set where you see that kind of learning happen. Which is a big reason I do love it so much.
     
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Time

    I look forward to seeing the rest. :)
     
  7. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Breathless

    Title: Breathless
    Rating: G
    Words: 497
    Timeline: 2245
    Disclaimer: Yet again, Paramount's.
    Notes: A book or two made the claim that Scotty was in charge of building the Enterprise, but seriously... he woulda been 23 when she was launched, and even as good as he is, he sure isn't good enough for Starfleet to put a young pup in charge of their newest ships. So, this is my sensible alternative. Originally posted here.

    --

    It wasn't so much that he actually minded zero-g, it was that first step that he really didn't like. That first weightless moment, and the stab of vertigo that went with it. After that, he didn't really have a problem and acclimated quickly. But it still took a force of will to take that first step into nothingness.

    Scott had his eyes closed. That was not proper procedure in EV exercises, but he just couldn't force himself to push off the platform and keep his eyes open at the same time. It had to be one or the other.

    He took a deep breath, then shoved off. His boots automatically demagnetized when he left the platform, and in an instant, he was free-floating in space with only a tether to keep him somewhat secure. Not surprisingly, he had to really make an effort to quell the urge to turn around and scramble back to what was perceived safety.

    He did it, though, and stayed still for a very long moment. Honestly, he was glad to be out here. This sure beat the work he'd been doing -- while he was still a glorified grunt, now he was a glorified grunt who had the honor (even if it only felt like that to him) of UV painting the markings on the hull of a Constitution-class starship.

    The vertigo passed and he opened his eyes.

    His breath out was rushed and loud inside of the helmet, and he didn't even hear it.

    The U.S.S. Enterprise towered over him, her white saucer section high above, her engineering hull directly adjacent. Nothing to obstruct the view of her in the dry dock. Her hull was illuminated somewhat from the lights of the Yard, but also some from Earthshine.

    And starlight.

    He just stared. He couldn't move; didn't want to move. Wasn't really sure he was breathing, either. Stayed perfectly still, in case moving would cause her to wink away like some dream he'd once had.

    Wondered how feeling this small could... could...

    "My God..." he thought, or said, he didn't know which.

    It took the lieutenant that was in charge of this assignment three tries before Scott even heard the worried voice in his helmet. "Ensign?!"

    Took another two prompts before he could even try to reply, "Aye, sorry sir."

    "Are you all right? You sound like you're out of breath."


    Scott nodded, though it never really occurred to him that no one could see it. "Aye, sir." Didn't take his gaze away from the Enterprise. "She's beautiful," he said, not even to anyone, just into the void, and it didn't touch the depth of how it felt to look at her.

    "Yeah, she sure is something," the other officer said, showing that he didn't get it. "We better get to work. She can't be official without her marks."

    Scott only nodded again, taking one more moment to just look up at the ship, suspended in space. She looked limitless. Infinite.

    A dream. His dream.

    He never had to close his eyes to jump off of the platform again.
     
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Breathless

    This is just gorgeous--like a painting or a film, very engaging to the senses. It has that same lyrical feel I love in the works of Diane Duane when she gets to describing the Enterprise. :)
     
  9. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Breathless

    I've drawn for this one, too. ;) It's short, but I couldn't draw it out to be any longer; so much of what he feels is on such a subconscious, indescribable level that there's really no quantifying it in words. Thank you!
     
  10. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Breathless

    Getting caught up on all my reading and I'm enjoying the beginning of this tale. I like your portrayal of Scotty--you give him a complexity and a deepness that the series really only hinted at. I wonder how much the various comic book portrayals of Scotty--especially the DC series--have influenced you? I know DC did, by and large, an excellent job in fleshing out the show's "secondary" characters--especially Scotty and Chekov--turning them into far more than the caricatures they were often portrayed as in the series.

    Very nicely done--this series is very much a breath of fresh air--I love coming back to your work after a hard week or so at work.
     
  11. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Breathless

    Thanks so much! Believe it or not, most of what I drew from is on-screen canon and the occasional book; I've never read the comics. Well, at least for Trek. ;-) One book was Kobayashi Maru because it painted a very vivid picture of a young Scotty, who was very different from he was in canon and yet absolutely rang 'true' in characterization, and the other was Vulcan's Glory, but mostly for the secondary cast of characters and the definitive beginning of his time on the Enterprise. Also took at least a few things off of Doohan himself -- the rougher childhood, the cooking thing, etc.

    Most of it, though, is just a whole lot of asking questions and then waiting for answers. Scotty was such a terrific character in TOS; he had good moments of comedy, but he also had his good moments of drama. He was sharp a lot of the time,yet painfully oblivious on occasion; one moment he could be jacked up manic and the next, he'd be an iceberg. He always looked like he was buzzing with energy, even when he was standing perfectly still. And his body-language is just a trip -- I dunno how much of it was subconscious on Doohan's part, and how much of it was acting choice, but he really did paint an awesome picture of someone who says a whole lot without ever saying anything... if you know his language.

    This is all just me trying to figure it out -- a lifetime of observation, seven years of questions, and over 200,000 words of waiting for answers. ;)

    Thanks again for the comment! I'm thoroughly glad you're enjoying it; it may not ever be what most people would expect when they try to imagine a backstory for him, but I sure hope always rings 'true'.
     
  12. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Faithful

    Title: Faithful
    Rating: G
    Words: 1253
    Timeline: 2245
    Disclaimer: Scotty belongs to Paramount, Corry and his lot are mine.
    Notes: After two years away, how do you go back home? Originally posted here.

    --

    It was a strange thing that waiting for something you'd been dreaming of for two years could be such an ambivalent process. How it could be filled with hope and fear, and exhaustion, and trepidation, and joy. As though the very thing that you ached for was something to be afraid of.

    Maybe it was the change again. Or, maybe it was just that he had time to think about it now.

    Andrew Corrigan looked into the blazing red light of a Vulcan sunset, and waited.

    He had hoped that his parents would decide to make the trip, but they had responsibilities at home and had told him that they'd meet him in Augusta. It was sixteen days from Earth to Vulcan, at least with standard travel, and sixteen days back. That was a lot of time for them to spend in space, just so that he would have some company on the flight. Rachel was in college, though lately it seemed like she had been spending more time than not doing everything but coursework, so Corry knew not to expect her either.

    Scotty had likewise said he doubted he could get there; he was still working part time at Lunar, and the rest of his time was dedicated to the San Francisco Fleet Yards. Still not doing much more than providing manual labor and a warm body, but if his letters were any indicator, he was utterly enamored with the Constitution-class ships he was helping to finish out, and the Enterprise in particular.

    Corry had, in the past few years, grown to appreciate how Scott could manage to say a good deal with very few words, provided you understood his language. He could ramble for hours about machinery and give an utterly passionate discourse on the latest engineering feats, but on occasion he would say something that transcended the words themselves.

    Of the Enterprise, and getting to be there when they fired up her warp and impulse drives for the first time since she'd been completed, Scott only had one simple thing to say that spoke volumes of his wide-eyed wonder:

    "She sings, Corry."

    So Corry didn't particularly expect his best friend to drag himself away from the Fleet Yards. Besides, sixteen days after spending two years on a desert world with controlled people surrounding him would probably be a good chance for him to actually re-acclimate to being human. It wasn't that he hadn't come to really admire and even like some of the Vulcans that he worked and studied with. He found that, despite their rigid control, many of them were compassionate and even generous people.

    But he had never stopped aching for Earth. For the ocean. For his family.

    He took a breath and waited. The skimmer would be there soon. He wondered how long it would take him to get used to breathing real air again; it had taken him months to get used to the heat and thin oxygen here. He wondered if he would fall back into the life he'd come from; back into South Bristol, back into the little joys and sorrows that accompanied everyday life, back into the world. Into his own life.

    The skimmer finally pulled up, and he put his bags in the back seat. One more look at the Vulcan Science Academy; it was such a beautiful building, the perfect functional artistry. But he wouldn't miss it.

    He climbed into the front seat and watched the scenery pass by once they started moving. He still felt ambivalent. He wished he knew why he felt that way; it was kind of unnerving. In his head, there were four years or more worth of training that he had completed in two years, and all he could seem to think of was whether or not they had repainted the swing bridge yet.

    The spaceport was surprisingly quiet; the rare times he'd come over here, half hoping to find some humans to share jokes with, were usually very busy. But tonight, it just seemed kind of quiet. The air took on a chill with the nightfall, and that added to the impression. Corry climbed out of the skimmer, more on auto-pilot than anything, and started unloading his bags.

    Someone reached past him, pulling out one of his suitcases, and he was about to say something when he saw who it was and froze.

    "What the Hell'd ye pack in here, anyway? Bricks?" Scotty grumbled, without an edge, setting the bag on the curb. Then he eyed Corry for a moment, failing to stifle a grin. "What? Ye'd think ye haven't seen me in a year." His idea of a joke, apparently.

    Corry blinked. "I... you... I thought..."

    "I'm always engineering somethin'," Scott replied, half-shrugging. Then he grabbed another bag. "Plan on helpin' with these?"

    "Yeah." Corry shook off the shock for a moment, still halfway reeling. Between the mixed feelings on reclaiming his life and the exhaustion from the past two years, this little surprise was almost enough to knock him over. "How'd you manage that?" he asked, pulling the last of his luggage out of the skimmer.

    "Hm. Lots o' hard work, some luck, and a bit o' conduct unbecoming an officer."

    "Do I even wanna know?"

    "It wasn't that bad. A little wager on somethin' that I was pretty certain of." Scotty chuckled, shaking his head. "Ye look like someone just smacked ye in the head with a pipe."

    "No, I'm..." Corry let a breath out in a rush. "Geez, I just didn't except you to be here, y'know?"

    "Aye, I suppose." Managing to get about half of Corry's luggage in hand, Scott waited.

    After a moment or two, Corry got the rest of it, letting the silence fall while his tired mind tried to process everything. It wasn't for a second that he wasn't thrilled that his best friend had shown up to take him home, but it was such a real reminder that this was really it. He was really going back to his own life. His own world.

    It was starting to sink in by the time they got to the C/V Millay; Scott chattering on aimlessly about what he'd been up to, Corry being wryly amused at the role reversal. Not surprisingly, it was almost all engineering talk -- even less surprisingly, Corry only half tuned into it, glad for the familiar voice even if he didn't have the brain power left to parse out the words.

    Corry was just finally starting to feel like himself again when they went up the gangway, and then he got slammed into all over again.

    Standing there, smiles going from easy to brilliant, and tearful, were his parents.

    He stared, just stared, disbelieving, half-believing, forgetting what that whole breathing thing was about. He hadn't seen them in two years. Two years. Even with the letters, and the vid messages, it had been two years. But they were there.

    "A little late," Scotty said, with a half-smile. "But happy birthday."

    Corry told himself he wasn't going to break down and bawl, that it would be completely embarrassing to sob after two years on Vulcan. He tried hard not to, too. But his breath was already catching in his throat when he dragged his best friend in for a quick, fierce hug, and by the time he got to his parents, he was crying almost too hard to breathe.

    So were they. He had no idea how long they stood there, all tears and relief and laughter. How long he let the pent-up longing for home vent. How long he cried for his family.

    A few more minutes on Vulcan no longer mattered.

    Corry was almost home.
     
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Faithful

    Wow...very moving!

    I also like that you recognize the fact that reverse culture shock can occur--after spending that long in a foreign culture, undoing all the effort you spent in the adjustment isn't as easy as it seems.
     
  14. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Faithful

    Yeah, it can. Poor Corry has this real natural kind of exuberance that he had to keep pretty strictly controlled for a long time; this was actually really hard to write, because he was so ambivalent when I wrote it. Scared. "How do I just go back home?"

    Thanks so much for the comment!
     
  15. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

    Joined:
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    San Diego
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Faithful

    And I think you convey it quite well. I liked this a lot. I read during my lunch break today; good job!

    Rob
     
  16. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Faithful

    Thank you very much!
     
  17. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Perfectly Good Sunday

    Title: Perfectly Good Sunday
    Rating: G
    Timeline: Fall 2245
    Words: 1510
    Disclaimer: Scotty belongs to Paramount, Corry doesn't.
    Notes: A bit of a light, easy-going fall-based piece.

    --

    "Lemme see. We can transport around the planet, send messages halfway across the galaxy with no real time lag, cure most diseases and fix most injuries..." Corry paused there to lean on the rake handle, wiping his forehead off with with his sleeve. "But I'm still stuck raking leaves."

    Scott grinned to himself, tongue-in-cheek, as he worked on building his own pile of leaves. The property was somewhat less rocky and tree-covered than a lot of those on West Side Road, but there were still enough trees to keep the both of them busy for a few hours. It wasn't exactly a volunteer situation -- they had been planning on going and kicking around Boothbay Harbor, and maybe trying to pick up a couple dates for the evening -- but then Cor's dad had handed them a pair of rakes, smiling, and that was that.

    Corry had been complaining about it since then, albeit without a whole lot of real bite. "Coulda gone out, maybe picked up some late-season tourist girls, but noooo."

    Going over to Boothbay Harbor with Cor was a guaranteed good time. Not because there was anything there Scotty wanted to do, exactly, except maybe pick up girls. But because it was funny watching Corry do his thing. Cor made no distinctions on what region or planet they came from; he'd turn on the charm and smile in a winning manner, and before the hour was out, he'd usually have at least a few interested in a dinner-and-dancing date.

    But it was when Cor tried to pick up a local girl that the real humor started. Apparently he had a reputation in the area, all the way from his native South Bristol, to New Harbor, to Boothbay Harbor and even some whispers that people as far away as Portland knew what to make of his romantic overtures. And even with him having been gone for two years, and his four years in Starfleet before that, the reputation had yet to fade.

    After getting shot down by a local lady, Cor would almost inevitably sigh, "Just because you kept your options open in high school..."

    He never finished the statement, but he didn't really need to. Then he would shake off the rejection and move onto another prospect, usually targeting someone wearing a t-shirt that only a tourist would wear. They, unlike the girls of Midcoast Maine, didn't know of his apparently open-optioned past. Plus, they were completely taken with his so-called local color, a projection of the region that Corry helped along by throwing a bit of 'Mainuh' into his voice.

    "Playah," Scotty said, with a smirk, after one of those girls had walked away giggling with a couple companions, having made a date to meet Corry at the local dance hall in another two hours.

    Corry had rolled his eyes. "I'm not a player. I'm just... uh, giving them an authentic experience."

    Scott crossed his arms, raising an eyebrow. "Authentic, ayuh. Take 'em out, have a lobstah..." He notched up the smirk there. "...or a wicked whoopie."

    "I hate you."

    The scene was pretty common, near so much that it was almost a tradition now. The hunt, the rejection by eligible local girls, the acceptance by tourist girls that would be gone in a day or a week, then a date where Corry was a gentleman the entire time, though not without being open to the hopes that maybe she'd like him enough that he wouldn't have to be gentlemanly after the dancing ended. Scotty figured it was just one of a number of ways that Corry was trying to get back into the swing of his own life -- reminding himself that he was still himself.

    Scott usually ended up on the sidelines, and was pretty content there; sometimes he managed to get a girl interested enough that he could stumble around on the dance floor with her, but he wasn't sure that the anxiety and nervousness he felt anytime that happened was worth the distinction of actually having a date.

    So, as amusing as going to Boothbay Harbor was, he didn't really mind being given chores by Corry's dad. There was something kind of relaxing about raking leaves, even this many of them.

    "How can you be smiling at a time like this?" Cor asked, dragging Scotty back to the present and immediate world, though it was still not all that biting. "Perfectly good Sunday, a few tourist girls still around, and you're happy raking leaves."

    "Why not?" Scott asked back, eyeing his leaf-pile for a moment. It was pretty impressive, and he'd been careful shaping it to get the maximum height possible while maintaining as much stability as he could. Well, given that it was a giant pile of dry leaves, anyway; there was only so much structure you could get out of such a building material.

    "Didn't you get sick of this growing up?"

    "Didn't do it growin' up." He hadn't had any chores, except when he was staying with his uncles; everything he had done while growing up in Aberdeen had been necessity, nothing more or less.

    Corry looked like he was about to comment on that, but then he didn't. He just went back to raking, a thoughtful expression on his face. Since Scott wasn't sure what to make of that expression, he went back to raking himself. They were about half done with the yard, though the occasional gust of cool wind was enough to set them back a little bit.

    He didn't mind it. It was a warm, clear day after a cold, crisp night and color was everywhere, in nearly everything. And while he would have to head back to Augusta either late tonight or absurdly early tomorrow, in order to get back into orbit for work, he was in no hurry to do anything but this now.

    "I realized something," Corry said, after another ten minutes or so of quiet, where the only sounds were dry rustling and steady raking.

    Scott glanced over. "Aye?"

    Cor dropped the rake next to his own, rather haphazard pile of leaves. "Yeah. If you've never raked leaves before, then you've never jumped in a leaf pile before."

    Scotty blinked.

    "I mean, that's the only real reason to rake leaves." Cor tilted his head, and there was a bit of a predatory gleam in his eyes. "Sure, they make good compost and it's unsightly to leave them laying all over the yard, but the real reason to rake is to jump in the pile."

    After a slightly alarmed look at the large, reasonably well-structured leaf pile that he'd built, Scott looked back again. "Not a chance."

    Corry made a show of stretching his arms and legs out, a somewhat dramatic gesture. "Oh yeah. That's the perfect pile for it, too."

    "If ye wanna jump in leaves, jump in yer own," Scott replied, tossing his rake aside and getting ready to stop the inevitable assault that was about to take place on his hard work and careful construction. "I didn't go to all this effort just to have ye--"

    Cor didn't seem to think any more arguing would change the basic facts. Scotty cut himself off when Corry made a dash towards the structure that Scott was perfectly willing to use his own body to shield. He just turned a shoulder into the attack, knowing that even if he couldn't stop his best friend from wrecking the leaf pile, he could at least make it (hopefully harmlessly) punishing.

    They collided with a startling amount of ferocity and an equally surprising lack of real pain -- both of them checking at the last second so they wouldn't really hurt each other, and both of them flying through the air for a split second before crashing into the pile of leaves and sending up a veritable cloud of them to sway and spin to land again in a less structured manner.

    Corry was the first to speak, laughing, "Yep. Perfect pile."

    "Bastard," Scott replied, without the least bit of insult, brushing a few stray leaves off of his face and sitting up to look around at the mess that had been made. "Ye know, this took me hours--"

    "--just two!"

    "--and ye destroyed it in two seconds!"

    Corry put his arms behind his head, grinning up at the half-empty trees above. "That was the point!"

    Scotty sighed, shaking his head, not exactly sure why he could feel a smile creeping up on him; looked at the mess, all the bright bits of color scattered without pattern in a radius around what was left of the original pile. Looked at his best friend, grinning contentedly at having made a mess of things, even though it meant they would have to rake it all up again, and that they wouldn't make it to Boothbay Harbor tonight for Corry to pick up a date.

    Hours of diligent work, for a moment of relative insanity, in a total disregard for structure and pattern.

    Scotty took a deep breath, then let it out with a chuckle and fell back to mirror Corry's pose, looking up at the bright sunlight filtering through what was left of the leaves on the trees.

    Maybe that really was the point.
     
  18. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Perfectly Good Sunday

    What a nice bit of light fun! :)
     
  19. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    NE Ohio
    ^Thanks!
     
  20. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends

    Title: Bookends
    Rating: PG-13
    Words: 7468
    Timeline: 2246
    Disclaimer: Scotty is Paramount's property. Everyone else is mine. Wanna borrow 'em, just ask.
    Notes: If you believe that the 23rd century is a perfect utopia and none of the things that exist now will exist then, then this isn't the story for you. It is, however, a reasonably optimistic tale. It's not tightly scripted or plotted, it's just another of those 'life is close to the ground' stories that's more about the characters than anything else. Originally posted here.

    --

    The air was so cold that the snow underfoot crackled sharply with every step. On the patches of road that had been cleared, there was still a frozen cast to everything; the whole world was mostly painted in monochrome. Aside from the bright bits of color from store signs, South Bristol was buried in the kind of gray-toned quiet that could only accompany winter.

    There were a few times that Scott cursed his own decision to walk, but he doubted that even if he could rewind time and make the choice again, that he would do anything differently. It had become something of a personal tradition to leave the cab at the swing bridge and walk onto Rutherford Island, and along West Side Road. At first, he'd done that mostly as a method of burning off a little energy so he wouldn't be quite so nervous walking up to the house, but now it had become more of a chance to...

    He wasn't really sure why he did it. Except that in a place that seemed to be fixed, there was something both comforting about its lack of change, and likewise something just as comforting in watching the seasons change around it.

    Not quite so comforting was just how cold it was, though. The air was downright biting, and there wasn't even really anything more than a tickle of a breeze. Even in two layers, plus a coat, plus good boots, he'd halfway lost touch with his legs and he was pretty sure his hands would refuse to do anything until they were warmed up again. Aberdeen and Belfast could get a bit chilly, but Scotty had never quite known what the words 'wind chill' meant until he first met winter in mid-coast Maine.

    In as such, he didn't really get to enjoy any of the scenery; he had his head down and his collar up and was mostly focused on the entirely solid ground underfoot.

    Even despite the walking, and the fact he'd been here a fair number of times now, he still had to brush off some measure of hesitation when it came to actually knocking on the door. It certainly wasn't that Corry's parents ever made a big deal of him showing up -- if anything, he thoroughly appreciated that when he did, they just treated it as though it was a perfectly common thing to have this relative outsider around. Their lives were like the town itself; steady, for the most part, routine and comfortable. In retrospect, it was a lot easier to see why Cor had been such a wreck when his father had been sick. It was a giant rock thrown into an otherwise calm pond.

    Still, it was considerably less nerve-wracking to knock now than it had been a couple years ago.

    Melinda opened the door; that wasn't much of a surprise. Corry's mother was a stay-at-home type, a breed that Scott had never known in his own family, though she freelance wrote magazine articles about various aspects of that lifestyle and had earned a respectable income for it.

    "Cold enough for you?" she asked, giving him the usual once-over to make sure he was alive and in one piece, even if it was a very cold piece.

    He'd gotten better at not ducking under that look, even if it did still feel a bit strange. "No, ma'am. I can still feel about a third of my body," Scotty deadpanned back.

    She laughed, then, taking his coat once he managed to coordinate himself enough to get it off. Though she didn't fail to give a bit of a disapproving look at the fact he was only wearing his uniform shirt, and a work shirt over that. "Andy's running a little late. He had to track down one of his professors to turn a paper in."

    "I'll have to thank him for tellin' me about it," Scott said, offhandedly, absently flexing his hands to try to get some sense of feeling back into them. Corry's habitual unwillingness to give advanced warning for things hadn't been changed by two years on Vulcan.

    She chuckled again, stepping off into the kitchen once she'd hung his coat up. "He was pretty excited about some of the research topics that are up for grabs down there. I'm just hoping that he thinks twice before bringing some of them home, though. There's only so much I'm willing to donate my kitchen to furthering Starfleet's knowledge-base."

    Given that Scotty had been involved in a few of those kitchen-based lab tests, he could more than easily sympathize with her on that. He was willing to do just about anything Cor asked of him, but that didn't mean he particularly liked playing lab assistant, especially since biochemistry held no real interest for him.

    After a few moments warming up by the door, he finally took a couple steps into the kitchen, though he didn't really have much else to say.

    "I guess that when he gets further into it, he'll probably have to spend more time in a proper lab." Melinda didn't seem put off by holding a mostly one-sided conversation; she just set about preparing to make dinner, pausing only to put the teapot on the stove. "I think I'll like reaching into my fridge for eggs and not having to move petri dishes."

    Scott nodded, not sure if she saw it or not. He usually felt more comfortable in the kitchen than he did anywhere else -- the only other place where he felt pretty much at home was the recliner that had unofficially become his in the livingroom, where he had a very bad habit of nodding off while Corry gave a heartfelt dissertation on cells and things that were, in Scott's mind, completely boring.

    It was all pale yellow and white, completely different than his mother's kitchen, classically plain and it felt like morning in there most of the day. Except in the late hours, when there were only the lights on over the sink, and then it felt mellow and mild like evening. The only contrast was the kitchen table, old hardwood, though usually there was a white cloth on it. Frankly, he was shocked that Cor's mother put up with lab testing on that table -- it had to be a century old.

    She talked idly about things, and he made it a point not to tune her out, even though his mind was devoted more to introspection than anything else. He didn't indulge in it that often, but these people seemed to provoke it. It was a mystery to him why, just as much as it was a mystery that he let himself be drawn into the routines here, even if it was only for short periods of time amidst the much longer stretches of work.

    "Here, sit down," she said, after outlining her latest writing projects, and Scott obeyed it without a pause. That was another thing he had figured out gradually over the past year or so -- that in a manner almost disconcerting, Corry's mother could tell him to do something and he'd answer it more willingly than he did orders from his commanding officers. Didn't understand that one, either.

    On the other hand, the fact she gave him a cup of lemon tea with a little honey in it might have had something to do with it. "Thanks," he said, immediately holding the cup two-handed in an attempt to finish thawing his hands out.

    "You're welcome," Melinda replied, ruffling his hair up, then going back to her dinner-making ventures.

    He didn't bother fixing the mess she'd made of his hair. Random, casual affection in this household was the rule, and not the exception. Scott still wasn't all that good at accepting it, but he'd had little choice but to get good at enduring it. Well, sort of enduring it. It was nice, but it was very foreign as well. A pat on the shoulder or a hug hello or goodbye came as easily to these people as everything else seemed to.

    At least it didn't make him want to bolt out the door anymore, though.

    "I'm hoooooooome," Corry sang out from the front door, dragging Scott out of his train of thought, and making him grin. Corry loved to call him melodramatic; Scotty loved pointing out that it was the pot calling the kettle black. "Man, is it cold out!"

    "It'll be cold in if you don't close that door," Melinda replied, smiling to herself. Then the click of the door closing made her shake her head.

    Cor shed his coat in record time; unlike his best friend, he was wearing more like four layers, and he had his own skimmer now that ensured he didn't have to do any walking if he didn't want to. He breezed into the kitchen, kissed his mother on the cheek, then promptly dropped into a chair at the kitchen table, addressing both of them and neither of them at once, "It's supposed to get even colder tonight, too. I should go out, I still haven't shaken off all that Vulcan dust."

    "That's mad," Scott said, shivering briefly at the thought. It was far too cold for him in the daylight, let alone after the sun was down.

    "It is not." Corry grinned, setting his gloves on the table, then leaning back again. "Just because you're part reptile doesn't mean we all are. But hey, it might do you some good. Toughen you up a bit, get some proper Maine blood into your veins."

    "Ayuh," Scotty said, and smirked when Cor winced.

    "No late night, sub-zero ventures." Melinda handed her son a cup of tea, giving him a pointed look at the same time. "He's not dressed for it, and you both have to go to work in the morning."

    "Guess I'll entertain myself with the thought of testing the cryonic capabilities of island winter, since I won't get to put it into practice."

    "Bastard," Scott muttered, hoping it was loud enough for Cor to hear, but not his mother.

    Corry grinned, mouthing back, "I know."

    "What're you two doing tonight, anyway?" Melinda asked, unaware of the two taking mild, age-old potshots at each other behind her. "And should I bother making you dinner, or not?"

    "The plan is..." Corry stood up, taking a deep and unnecessarily dramatic breath before saying, "I am going to make science history! I am going to push the bounds of reality, making mankind rethink their entire place in the universe! I am going to--"

    "What he's sayin', ma'am, is that we're probably goin' to sit here talkin' about what to do with ourselves, and that we're gonna end up watchin' bad movies in yer livingroom the rest o' the night," Scott said, speaking up loud enough to cut Corry off. "That's the rough translation, anyway."

    "--I am going to strongly reconsider testing the cryonic capabilities of island winter on certain parties in this room right here and now," Cor continued, unfazed.

    "And that's him sayin' that I'm right."

    "All right, dinner for four," Melinda said.

    There was a long pause, while Corry looked as sinister as he could manage (which was about as sinister as one of those baby seals or whatever animal it was with the big, heartbreaking, liquid eyes), and then in true form, he shrugged. "Okay, I'm gonna go put a vid on."




    It wasn't really that they didn't go out and get themselves into trouble; in fact, since getting back from Vulcan in mid-September of the year before, most of their days off and some evenings besides were spent doing something. Sometimes barhopping, sometimes working on Corry's schoolwork, sometimes working on that skimmer, sometimes just wandering around. Scott had even been talked into sailing a few times when it was still fall on the family's little ketch, and found out that he got seasick just as easily as ever. But he still, inevitably, let Cor talk him into going out on the sea again.

    If most of his existence had been more about endurance than anything else, about living by the day or the moment and moving forward without much connection to a past, then South Bristol was where he suddenly had something to measure his life off of.

    Scotty blamed it on the chair.

    The recliner was big, built for Aaron Corrigan's tall frame, and since he was close to half a foot shorter than Corry's dad, he had a lot of room in it. It was also absurdly comfortable. In the morning it caught the eastern sun, and it was more positioned for reading a book in the afternoon than watching the vidscreen at night.

    He told himself, every single time, that he would not get so comfortable in that chair that he'd end up sleeping there all night. And every single time, he ended up nodding off anyway. So, for about four months now, he'd ended up knocking out there not quite two dozen times, and it was after the first dozen that he'd sort of figured it out.

    It was one of those mornings where the sun was coming through a frosty window, very low and yellow still, that he'd drifted back to his senses to the sound of Corry's mother making breakfast in the kitchen. Buried in a fleece blanket, his boots set neatly beside the chair (which couldn't have been his doing; he was no better about putting them away nicely now than he had been as a cadet) and the realization was just as drowsy as the process of waking up.

    Even before the Lady Grey, before everything, back over that Thanksgiving break he hadn't even wanted to take, he'd slept in this same spot knowing somewhere that he was safe. And for a moment, he felt the time, and the same things, and the different things.

    Then he'd promptly pulled his blanket back over his head and fell back to sleep until Melinda woke him up for breakfast.

    Nonetheless, he didn't protest to himself quite so hard after that about the possibility of spending the night in a recliner. It was more of a token argument than the real thing; even on the mornings where he'd have to wake up before it was decent in order to beat it back to work, he didn't really regret it.

    This was one of those nights. He wasn't much for watching movies or anything else, and never had been. It was in the middle of some really badly made one where Corry was ranting theatrically about the impossibility of biochemistry creating radioactive zombie Vulcans that he put up his token protest for all of two minutes and then dove headfirst into oblivion.

    He didn't even know exactly what woke him up again. Just that something had, something in the back of his head, something half-familiar and all worrisome.

    The kitchen light was on, but it wasn't morning; a quick look at the clock built into the vidscreen told him that it wasn't more than two hours or so after the last time he remembered it being. He managed to drag himself out of his warm little enclave there, and was still rubbing at his eyes when he stepped into the kitchen.

    Corry looked like he was wide-awake and all distracted, that look that echoed back to when he found out his father was sick, but there was no sign of anyone else. He nearly leapt out of his skin when he turned around and saw Scotty there, though he didn't yell out. After a moment, staring, he breathed out hard, "Cripes, you scared me."

    "What's goin' on?" Scott asked, squinting a bit from the kitchen light.

    "Just... nothing you need to worry about." Which, of course, had the exact opposite effect. Corry picked his skimmer keys up from the kitchen table. "Go back to sleep, Wolf. I'll be back before morning."

    Without giving himself time to think about it, Scott leaned out of the kitchen, grabbed his coat off of the peg it was hanging on in the hallway, then eyed Cor. "So, where're we goin'?"

    Corry's expression went from half-distracted anxiety to wholly exasperated. "Scotty..."

    "Corry." There could be no doubting that tone.

    After a very long, silent moment where they measured each other's conviction, Cor sighed. "It's Rach. She called, and she's in some trouble, and I'm just gonna go down to Boston to get her, okay?"

    "What're we waitin' for?" Scotty asked, raising an eyebrow.

    "Damn you," Corry said, though it was far more resignation than curse. He shook his head, still scowling a bit. "Go get your boots on, then." And with that, he stalked out of the kitchen and headed upstairs.

    Not having the vaguest clue of what was going on, Scott went and did just that. He was already back in the hall and about to drag his coat on when Corry came back down and threw a sweater at him. "Put that on."

    He did as he was told, though he had to roll the sleeves up a bit. "No cryonics tonight?"

    There was a pause and then Corry shook his head with a slight, wry grin. "Not tonight. Maybe tomorrow."

    Scott nodded, pulling his coat on. "After work, though."




    --