It was a sight that only a rare few were privy to; Captain James T. Kirk, banged up all to hell and still in her dirty survival gear, leaning against a wall with her face in her hands. Her lithe frame shaking with quiet sobs for all the lives they'd lost on their latest mission.
Altimid was hell, to put it mildly. Their ship was ripped to shreds. Their crew picked apart. Those who put up too much of a fight were quickly put down and everyone else, save a few, were captured. Some, like Syl, were needlessly killed as an example of Krall's power.
Scotty had been one of the lucky ones, hiding himself in a torpedo and launching it to the planet to avoid capture. Jim had been lucky too, her Kelvin pod keeping her her away from the fray of Krall's minions grabbing up their people. Though, neither of them felt lucky.
As the captain and the chief engineer, the lives of everyone on the Enterprise were their responsibility. One they both took seriously. He's laid awake many a night thinking of modifications he could make to make the ship safer and things he could do that would protect them all. He also knew that she was awake most nights too. The entire senior staff understood Jim had a habit of overanalyzing her actions, even when things turned out okay. It was one of the reasons he agreed to join the crew, and one of the reasons he stuck it out despite the shitstorm that always seemed to be hanging over her head.
It took Scotty a second to realize that Jim was looking at him, curiosity etching her features as he stood lost in his thoughts. Her bright blue eyes were red rimmed and there was a slight discoloration on the right side of her face, no doubt a result of her fight with Krall at Yorktown's epicenter.
"You okay?" she asked quietly.
"Better than you," Scotty told her. Somehow, he had managed to come out of this whole thing needing nothing more than a hot shower, a good meal and a stiff drink. Jim, on the other hand, was going to have to spend some time in medical.
Stepping closer to her in two strides, Scotty lightly ran his fingers over the blossoming bruise forming under her eye before cupping her face in his hand. It was a bold move, especially coming from him, but this thing between them had gone unaddressed for too long. Unlike Jim, Scotty didn't always have the right words, but he had hoped that his actions spoke for themselves. If she noticed, he'd never really know; Jim was, in some ways, harder to read than Spock.
Leaning into the contact with a sigh, Jim looked up at him with a knowing smile. "That took you long enough. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever gonna go for it."
"Ye mean, ye knew?"
"I suspected but Bones figured it out before I could put it all together myself. He thought you would've said something a while ago. It's not like I can run around professing my love for people under my command, the brass looks down on that kind of thing," she told him.
"Ye… But… I…" He wasn't exactly sure what part of that to address first.
"Yes, I knew. Bones sees everything. I love you too. I kinda thought you knew that," Jim said, almost as if she were reading his mind. "I guess I was actually more subtle about it than you were, if that makes you feel any better."
"Not really, lass."
"I didn't think so." She chuckled. "You are very stubborn, Mister Scott."
"Me? Look who's talking."
"Everybody already knows I'm stubborn. We all would've died a few times over if I wasn't," Jim pointed out. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"Because the thought of ruining our friendship wasn't worth the risk," he said. And the idea that she didn't feel even remotely the same wasn't something he was willing to face.
"But you're willing to risk our friendship now?"
"I thought I lost ye, lass. Again. Once was bad enough." Scotty closed his eyes for a second and took a deep breath. "When the ship when down. Then those seconds between ye hitting the switch and Spock catching ye. I cannae..."
"You can't get rid of me that easy and you know it."
And he did know it, they all did. After everything that they'd been through in the last five years, there was one inescapable truth of the Enterprise; Jim Kirk doesn't quit. She once told him that the most important thing her mother taught her was perseverance, and it showed.
"Still," he told her, "yer not invincible, Jimmy."
"I am when you're around."
Shaking his head, Scotty pulled Jim into his arms. "I thought I was the cheesy one there, lass."
"You are," she muttered, her cheek pressed against the old leather jacket he had acquired on the Franklin. "That doesn't make what I said any less true. Every time I don't know what to do, every time I think I lost my way, there you are to pull me in the right direction."
"Speaking of pulling ye in the right direction, ye might wanna have medical take a look at yer ribs."
"I know, I know," Jim said with a yawn, her adrenaline starting to wear off. "Will you stay with me?"
"They couldn't pull me away if they tried," he said, his arms tightening around her ever so slightly.
"I'll remember you said that, Montgomery."