Notes: Thanks to Allthinky for beta'ing. Whatever I want to say, she makes me say better.
And to Leviathan0999, for roping, er, dragging, er, *getting* me into this fandom.
This is a missing scene from the episode 'A Few Miles West of Nowhere'. It follows on a scene where Kelly and Scotty, on a mission to the fictional hick town of Bracket, USA, are lured into a dry riverbed in the dead of night to eavesdrop on a protest meeting. There is no meeting - it's a ruse by the townspeople, who stand on the banks and stone the two agents into unconsciousness. Yeah, you read right. It's pretty horrific, and great TV.
The sensation of regaining consciousness with a pounding head, usually from being struck with a blunt object, wasn't new to Scotty. He'd come to in dark alleys, locked rooms, exotic forests, any and every location you cared to think of.
It just took a while to get a fix on where you were and who'd knocked you out this time, was all.
Something soft was under his head – fabric, and he could make out Kelly's familiar scent. Which meant Kelly had pillowed his jacket under Scotty's head as he usually did when Scotty was knocked out.
Good, good. So, both him and Kelly, alive and conscious. And together. That was, however you sliced it, a very groovy start to the rest of the—hmm, evening, it looked like, or night. Sand and stones under his body, like a dry riverbed. Stars above. Outdoors.
His fuzzy mind continued taking in details, his focus narrowing to a hand caressing his temple, cool fingers stroking his aching head. He should be embarrassed, but it was kinda nice.
He sighed, and the hand withdrew. "Welcome to Bible class," came the sardonic voice from above him.
Memory came flooding back, and he started. "Th—"
"They're gone." Kelly reassured him sharply, then his voice settled into its familiar groove. "I would strongly recommend strict economy of movement, my dear sir, unless you wish to aggravate—"
Scotty ignored Kelly's warning, rolling up to a sitting position, regretting it, groaning. "Man…!"
Kelly's tone was still deceptively mellow, but there was a hardness underlying it. "Think any of them was without sin, Apostle Paul?"
"Oh, man—" He wasn't even up to the banter, burying his face in his hands. The ache in his body wasn't too bad yet, although he knew from experience that tomorrow would be a different story. But that wasn't what chilled his blood.
Perhaps there was such a thing as the collective unconscious. He'd always considered it iffy at best – the idea that either humanity as a whole, or else a certain group, a certain population, a certain race, could recognize certain things without having ever seen them, feel things as familiar that they'd never actually felt, just by the images in the minds of their ancestors, passed on from generation to generation…
He'd seen it tonight.
It had happened because he and Kelly were city slickers, he knew. It was insularity, not the other thing, he told himself. It was because of the atomic plant—he knew that! But the sight of the mob of white men, ranged at the edge of the cliff with their guns and torches in a long, gleeful line, silhouetted against the night sky, throwing their stones with such deliberate cruelty, and laughing, laughing—it had swept through him like a chill storm-front, echoes of a thousand memories, heard and read though never seen or experienced. And it wasn't something anyone white would understand. Nothing Kelly would understand.
He couldn't make a joke to save his life. He raised his head, wondering how he was going to shake it, how he was going to hide it, how he was going to explain it away, this sick, miserable feeling, the burden that had settled within him—
But then he looked up, and saw the same terrible understanding already there in Kelly's eyes.
Scotty couldn't speak. His throat worked as he tried to tear his eyes away from that grief-stricken, silent gaze, older than Kelly's years, old with the weight of the world that had settled as suddenly on Kelly's shoulders as it had upon his.
And a thread of the burden lifted as he flooded with the realization that he wasn't alone. Not even in this. Kelly was in here with him, and the dumb, overused, mendacious cliché that skin color didn't matter was actually true, if only in here, inside this space that he and Kelly shared. Room enough for everything in here. Even the collective unconscious. It was all there, here in Kelly's eyes.
He cleared his scratchy throat, almost embarrassed by the depths in the earnest gaze. "Catch your death," he said, motioning imperatively towards Kelly's wadded-up jacket on the ground.
"Your wish is my command, sir," Kelly said slowly, reaching for his jacket without looking at it, not breaking eye contact for a second, his gaze searching now. He was saying clearly, We're in this together. I'm with you. Do you get that?
Scotty nodded slowly, slowly. Nothing had changed, but suddenly he could relax into this shared, comforting space as he saw in Kelly's eyes the shared grief, the shared outrage, the shared trip to a place they tried to forget even existed, that had nothing to do with them, but had suddenly come to life and reared its ugly head in stereophonic sound and living color. "Why didn't they send…" he muttered, "…plague of flies?"
"Out here, they wouldn't notice it anyway."Kelly exhaled, his tone searching for levity. "Should try being out in the fields with a picnic basket in the middle of the day, man. Bible plagues had nothing on my uncle's farm."
"Is that so, Li'l Abner." Scotty made to rise, stumbled. Kelly steadied him, lurched. Leaning on each other, they began the arduous process of staggering to their feet.
"Yes indeedy. Have you ever known me to speak untruth?"
"You're a spy, sir, and as such, by your very occupation, it behooves you, on occasion, to tell a lie." Upright, they stood, steadying one another for a moment.
"Behooves? Now, my dear sir, in truth—"
"Behooves," Scotty said firmly, standing up and taking a few tentative steps back whence they'd come.
Kelly's tone was all urbane amusement. "I've never been behooved before."
"First time for everything." Scotty stumbled and Kelly lunged forward, supporting him.
"Steady on there, Pard. Ah do believe yew got a few more knocks than Ah did."
"No, I didn't." The last thing he wanted was for his grim theory to be confirmed. The last thing, and Kelly's awful cowpoke impression only re-awakened his sense of that gulf. Besides, did it matter which one of them the men had aimed for more than the other? They'd both been attacked. They were on the same side here.
"Wanna compare notes…?"
He knew Kelly just wanted to check on him, but it felt like he was driving a wedge between him and the only— "No, I do not—" He jerked violently out of his partner's grip. The move flung Scotty into a graceless pirouette and he thudded to the ground at Kelly's feet.
"Sorry. Sorry." Kelly bent to retrieve him, but didn't make any funny comments, just helped Scotty up with that shared sadness in his eyes again, only now it was overlain with an expression that was crushed, yet accepting, as though he somehow deserved the rebuke. As though Scotty thought for one moment that just because of the color of his skin, Kelly bore any similarity to those… those… Scotty felt like a heel.
"Hold it…" Still unsteadily clinging to his partner's supporting arm, he muttered, pitched loud enough for Kelly to hear, "Compare notes my Aunt Matilda! You just wanna say you got more bruises than me. Sibling rivalry's really gettin' out of hand, man…"
He felt Kelly go still, felt the long seconds in which he didn't breathe, felt the understanding of what he was saying filter through his partner, felt the shaky exhalation coupled with the tightening of the hand on his arm. When he finally spoke, his "Oh?" was tentative, little more than a breath.
"You betcha. Mom would chew us both out. 'I thought I raised you boys better!' " He thought it was a pretty decent imitation, himself. "Comparing her kids was never her bag, y'see."
Her kids. Scotty could practically hear him rolling the phrase around in his head. "That's not… the kind of observation you hear every day," Kelly finally said.
"Well, maybe you ain't been listening."
Another deep breath from Kelly. "Maybe."
"Gotta listen up, you know, or you tend to miss things."
"So I've heard."
"'Course, getting stoned by a mob makes one miss things, sometimes."
He let his seriousness show in his tone. "Not the important things, though, not never."
Kelly swallowed. It was a moment before he spoke again. "Not—not never is a double negative, man," he gulped, his feigned disbelief covering a multitude of feelings Scotty could recognize anyway.
"I believe that in the list of extenuating circumstances," Scotty assumed his professorial tone, "allowing one to use a double negative in times of stress, is the running of a gauntlet of hostile rednecks throwing stones."
"Ah, see, Chester, you relax the rules once, you open up a slippery slope. One little stoning, you slip a little, let it slide, who knows where you'll end up?"
"At the motel, I hope," Scotty said lightly, taking another tentative step forward, Kelly at his elbow. "In a nice hot bath. I'll even drive."
"Well," and Kelly's tone was steadier, "I wish you would."
Scotty was surprised to find his heart considerably lighter as they limped back through the ditch to the car. Who knows where you'll end up? He didn't know how or which path it would take, and he wasn't entirely sure, even, where he would end up, but he'd lay dollars to little green apples that he knew who'd be at his side.