A/N: I got one (1) ask on Tumblr about these movies on Sunday and I plunged right back into my obsession, whoo boy I missed this fandom. I started a different fic with the main triumvirate and I just slipped right back into their characterizations and it felt so amazing. But this is not that one (idk if that one'll get posted, and if it does it'll be a Thor crossover). This is the one where I indulge my love of Scotty being the crew's therapist - he might be used as comedic relief, but he is 100% the glue that holds this family together and you can fight me on that
Scotty wove his way alongside the engine, heading for a rarely used corner of Engineering. No matter how advanced starships got, there were always those crannies that practically took a gymnast to reach. He just liked to slip into them occasionally to make sure the ensigns actually did their jobs properly.
"I should put more lights back here," he remarked to himself, squinting into the shadows to find where to put his feet. "I can hardly see- Captain!"
The cramped tunnel opened into a tiny room, lit by soft blue light. The panels Scotty had meant to check were directly across from the tunnel, but otherwise, there wasn't meant to be anything else in the room. Except, apparently, for the young man in the empty corner, back pressed to the wall nearest the engine as he stared blankly at his PADD.
Jim winced, briefly touching the bandage stretching across his forehead, dark bruises emerging beneath its edges. "Shh."
"Sorry," Scotty said, lowering his voice. "I just wasn't expecting you, is all."
Jim set the PADD on the floor and scrubbed at his eyes. "I know. I know, I should've told you-"
"It's your ship, lad," Scotty pointed out, taking a seat at his feet.
"But your engine room."
"Aye," Scotty agreed. "But you know I'd never kick you out."
"That was the old Enterprise," Jim pointed out, casting a rueful glance at the wall he sat against. "This one… she doesn't feel right."
"I get yer meaning," Scotty said. He gave the wall a pat. "She's a fine ship, but she's not our old girl. She'll feel like home, though, soon enough."
Jim leaned his head back, closing his eyes. "I need her now, though," he protested, his tone bordering on petulant.
Scotty let him have a moment to breathe, picking up the discarded PADD and tapping the screen back to life. A blank document greeted him. Blank, that is, except for a lone opening line: Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, I regret to inform you of the death of your son.
"Ah," Scotty murmured. "So that's what's got ye all twisted up."
"I should've been paying more attention," Jim said bitterly, one hand clenching into a fist.
"Edwards was doing his job," Scotty said gently, putting the PADD back. "Guarding his fellow crewmembers. It's what he trained for."
"He wouldn't have had to jump in front of that- that thing if I hadn't been paying more attention to the damn flowers."
"And you were doing your job – exploring. Things happen, Jim. You know that."
"Not since Krall."
And there's the kicker.
Jim furrowed his brows. "What?"
Scotty gestured into the corner. "Ye heard me – scoot."
Jim obeyed, and Scotty settled next to him. "You know Krall wasn't your fault, either."
He snorted, looking away. "I should've been able to tell she was lying."
"That lass had us all fooled, and you cannae tell me you wouldn't have gone into that nebula just in case she wasn't," Scotty retorted. "Ye've got a big heart, and that's what makes you a good captain."
"Sometimes I wish I didn't," Jim whispered, dropping his gaze to his fiddling hands.
"Never say that," Scotty scolded instantly, with enough ferocity to make Jim wince. He took a breath, calming his voice before continuing. "That heart of yours is why this family works – none of us would be here without it. And it's helped so many, from the strangest strangers to the newest ensigns to your closest friends. Dinnae regret it, lad. Dinnae regret anything that makes you great – that makes ye you."
Jim drew his legs up to his chest, hugging them tight, staring at nothing. "I wrote so many condolence letters after Altamid," he remembered. "To the point that- that I didn't feel anything anymore. Except… I did."
"Aye," Scotty murmured, remembering the days it had taken him to finish them all. The meals he had been dragged to where he only picked at his food, the movies he had sat through but didn't watch, the gatherings where he had only sat in the corner, typing away, just struggling through the endless pile of paperwork.
Scotty inched a little closer to the lad, just enough to let their arms brush. He gave him a light nudge, a tiny invitation that Jim could brush off if he chose. But Jim leaned in, laying his head on Scotty's shoulder, tilted carefully to favor his injury.
"Bones wouldn't leave me alone," he went on almost absently. "He didn't even try to stop Spock from helping me."
"Because we're here for you," Scotty reminded him, easing his arm free to wrap it around Jim's shoulders. "Always. No matter what."
"I know," Jim sighed. "And I guess I know none of that was my fault… but…" He picked up the PADD. "It's… hard. I hoped to never write one of these damn things again after that."
"Tell ya what," Scotty said, taking the PADD. "Right now, you go back to your quarters and get some sleep. And tomorrow, I'll help you with this. Deal?"
"I don't know if I can sleep."
"Och, you'll be fine," Scotty said. "I've got our old girl's purr recorded on me own PADD – ye can borrow it for the night."
Jim tilted his head up to blink at Scotty. "You have her recorded?"
"It helped me sleep on shoreleave," Scotty mumbled. "So, what do you say?"
"…Do I have to go back to my quarters?"
Scotty braced him before moving to stand, holding his hand out. "Yes."
Muttering under his breath, Jim took the hand and pulled himself up. He wobbled, squeezing Scotty's hand as Scotty grabbed his arm. "Perhaps ye should see the doc instead."
"No," Jim said instantly. "I'm fine."
"Mhm. Definitely to the medbay with ya."
He steered Jim into the tunnel, ignoring his protests that "I'm fine, Scotty, really." Only one of the newer ensigns paid them any attention as they left Engineering, the only one not in the know about Jim's hideouts on the old Enterprise. The rest continued their work, and if any of them looked ready to give in to Jim's pleas for help, Scotty shot them a glare and their attention quickly snapped elsewhere.
Despite hovering the tricorder over him and searching for every possible problem, the only medical orders Leonard gave were for Jim to get some rest in a dark room – under someone's watchful eye. Scotty volunteered, and the only detour they made was to his quarters to grab his PADD. Then it was off to Jim's quarters, where Scotty took up residence in Jim's reading chair while making sure Jim promptly prepared for bed.
While he was in the bathroom, Scotty set up the PADD. He did have a recording of the old Enterprise's engine sounds – that much, he hadn't lied about. But he didn't turn them on. Instead, he turned on the recordings he had already made of the new engines.
Jim squinted suspiciously at him for a moment.
He slept like a baby anyway.