He Loves Me Not

Disclaimer: Star Trek's not mine, nor (alas) is Scotty.

A/N - Please note that log entries here are in Stardate order - this is not necessarily the same order as video or DVD box sets, but makes more sense.

Personal Log, Stardate 2712.6

I know he knows I exist, because when he gives me an order he uses my name. Well, you know, my surname. "Aynsley, check the back-up control circuits for the impulse drive, " "Aynsley, fetch me a trident scanner and then double-check the readings on the monitor." That sort of thing. I suppose he knows what my first name is, because it's always on the duty roster: 'Susan Aynsley, Lieutenant jg', but he's never used it. Not yet.

Of course, I haven't been aboard the 'Enterprise' for that long - only a few months. But I try so hard to be helpful, to be on hand when he needs assistance with the warp coils or runs a routine diagnostic, and I pull extra shifts whenever he does. I go to the Officers' Lounge when I think he'll be there, and sit in a corner pretending to read my technical journals - half-hoping he'll notice the reading matter and comment on it; half-watching him talk with his friends and wishing I could be admitted to that exclusive little circle. I can't really hear what they're saying - there's always too many other people in there chatting, so I have to make do with catching the occasional word or phrase - but I'm pretty sure I can work out the gist of their conversations by now. He laughs a lot with Doctor McCoy and Lieutenant Sulu - and even sometimes with the Captain though, from the few phrases I've overhead, the two of them mostly talk about the ship. Spock doesn't come into the Lounge very often, but when he does you can tell there's a heap of mutual respect going on. I hate it when Uhura's there. She's so... familiar with them - touching Sulu's shoulder here, McCoy's arm there. When she ruffled Scotty's hair the other day, I had to get up and leave, because it made me wonder whether the rumour about them being 'Friends With Benefits' was true.

Granted, comforting myself with an entire 2lb block of Rigel's finest dark chocolate won't have done my waistline any good. But I'll make up for it in the gym tomorrow - I've promised myself.

Personal Log, Stardate 2814.3

Palmer, my roomy, says that I'm wasting my time hankering after my boss. I don't know how she figured out that I even like him, I mean, I only ever mention his name occasionally, and I'm careful to do it casually. You know, just in the course of normal conversation. Maybe she hacked into my personal log, she is in Communications after all - in which case, if you're listening to this entry, Palmer, I hope your ears drop off! Anyway, the point is, she said: "You're really not Mr Scott's type, you know. Stop mooning around after him and pay some attention to Lemli. He likes you."

"Well, I don't like Lemli," I said, "I don't share his taste in music for one thing. And I don't moon around after Mr Scott. I'm an engineer, in case you hadn't noticed. I'm supposed to be within shouting distance of the Chief."

"Sure you are," she said, all sarcastic, "Especially when he's off duty."

I'd have told her to mind her own business, only I'd bitten off a mouthful of Chocolate Fudge and was too busy chewing, so she twittered some rubbish about not wanting to see me get hurt. Like she cares!

I finished chewing. "How the hell would you know what his 'type' is anyway?" I asked - then had a momentary panic that perhaps she'd actually... God, no. Surely he had better taste than that!

Palmer gave me a pitying look. "I work in communications, remember?" she said. "What we can't find out isn't worth the knowing."

And she swept off to go do more eavesdropping.

So it's her fault I've eaten all that Fudge and polished off the best part of a bottle of red wine. Cow. I'm going to have such a headache in the morning.

Personal Log, Stardate 2823.9

I've broken open another block of chocolate, and found half a bottle of Amaretto to wash it down. But then, I've been too worried (and busy) to eat at all for two days, so any calories I take on board now don't really count.

We lost the Galileo. And for forty-eight hours we didn't know whether the crew were alive or dead. I suppose it's just as well that we had our work cut out in the Transporter room, trying to get the damn thing to work, otherwise I don't know what I'd have done. Whose stupid idea was it to send the Chief Engineer out there anyway? I was frantic!

At least I was there when we got them back - right alongside Lieutenant Kyle, who operated the main controls while I boosted the gain on the scanner and made sure the pattern buffers were shielded from the ion residue that was still out there. When the five officers materialised safely, I didn't know whether to pass out with relief, or jump for joy. I ended up doing neither because, while Kyle was reporting our success to the Bridge, Yeoman Mears squealed "We made it! We made it!" and promptly threw her arms around Scotty. Granted, he happened to be the nearest one to her, and granted McCoy and Boma joined the group hug a moment later, but when they finally stepped off the transporter platform it was Scotty who still had an arm draped around her. "Kyle, Aynsley," he said, giving me a smile that made my insides go all gloopy and start churning around, "That couldn't have been easy, especially with the ion interference. Well done, both of you."

"And thanks," added McCoy, "Never thought I'd be grateful to feel the transporter get a-hold of me, but this is one occasion where I'm happy to make an exception."

"Gentlemen," said Spock, whose only reaction up till then had been raising an eyebrow, "We must report to the Captain."

"Oh no you don't! Not yet, Spock," said the Doctor, "I need to check everyone over first - especially you, Scotty. You haven't had a proper rest for two days, and that Cortropine I gave you to keep you going'll be wearing off any time now. Come on - sickbay, the lot of you. Jim can come see us there if he wants."

And off they went, McCoy arguing with Spock that he wasn't going to make any exceptions, Boma shaking his head and muttering something about Vulcans under his breath, and Scotty and Mears still apparently joined at the hip. I spent the rest of my shift trying not to think about all those vids I've watched, where a spot of shared peril inevitably leads to the sharing of bodily fluids. Now I'm back in my quarters, and I just know that Tracy Mears isn't back in hers.

It's so unfair.

Now where the hell did I put my drink?

Personal Log, Stardate 2825.2

I sat in the Officers' Lounge for two hours this evening, hoping Scotty would show up. Mears, Palmer and Uhura were there, huddled in a corner like a coven – probably comparing notes, judging by the way they were giggling – and Doctor McCoy showed up for a while, with the Captain. But when Mears stood up to go, I figured I might as well call it a night and come back here.

What I hadn't reckoned on was having to share a turbolift with her – Mears had actually waited for me to catch up to her, would you believe? "I haven't seen you since you helped pull us off the Galileo," she said, once I'd started the lift going. "It seems kind of inadequate, but I wanted to say 'thanks', Lieutenant, for saving my life."

I couldn't think of anything to say other than "You're welcome." Which, I suppose, she was really – I mean, I wouldn't wish her any harm. Well, not serious harm. Maybe a minor amount of damage so that she couldn't lie down for a while, yes, but not death by decaying orbit. So I added a "Just doing my job," and skipped out of the lift as soon as the doors opened on Deck Six. Which was where her quarters were too. She gave me a smile as I looked back, and twisted the lift control, saying "Deck Four," just before the turbolift doors closed.

I toyed with the idea of shorting the lift circuits and leaving her stranded in there for the night, only I didn't have my toolkit handy.

Oh well. Maybe next time. Right now, I fancy a cream cake. Hope the replicator's up to the challenge.

Personal Log, Stardate 3192.0

Tracy Mears left the ship today, when we swung by Starbase 12 to pick up some high-ranking Ambassador. She's off to retrain as a navigator, and I was quite looking forward to being the one to send her on her way. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance because Scotty came into the transporter room with her. He was wearing his dress uniform tunic, all gold braid and medals - which I thought was a bit OTT for waving off a Yeoman, however obliging she might have been, till I realised the Ambassador would be beaming up right after Mears had left.

"Lieutenant, go and check the back-up relays, will you?" Scotty said, glancing my way.

Like an idiot, I told him I'd already done that, and he had to tell me to check them again then, while Mears started giggling. Yeah, yeah, I know - stoopid! - but it was Scotty's fault for... well, just standing there and making my brain short-circuit, really.

I did manage to grasp the hint the second time around, and took myself off to the Jeffries Tube around the corner for a few minutes, till I heard the Captain and Doctor McCoy coming along the corridor. When I got back to the transporter room, Mears had gone, and Scotty was fastening the top button of his tunic. He gave me a smile and said "thanks," though I'm sure he wouldn't have done either if he'd had any idea what I was thinking.

The other senior officers came in just then, all scrubbed and polished, and I scuttled behind the transporter console where I belonged.

The Ambassador - Fox, his name is - seems really nice. He even made a point of thanking me for beaming him aboard. Can't imagine why Scotty made that obscene gesture behind his back as they left - though the Doctor seemed to think it was funny.

Personal Log, Stardate 3193.2

Have just dug out a large box of Chocolate Liqueurs from my stash, as I am in serious need of cheering up.

I didn't even know I'd done anything wrong till Mr Scott called down to the transporter room an hour ago. All he said was: "Lieutenant Aynsley. My office. Right away." But I swear ice formed around the comm speaker, and Lieutenant Kyle looked at me as though I was a plague-carrier.

"Bloody hell!" he said, "What did you do?"

I didn't know. I racked my brain for an answer all the way to Scotty's office - which felt like a march of death, let me tell you - and I couldn't think of anything I'd done, or not done, that would have provoked the tone of voice he'd used in that call. There was plenty of stuff I'd thought about doing - to him, mostly - but I was pretty sure he didn't have the faintest inkling about that. So by the time I'd reached his office, I was all ready to deny any wrongdoing and pin the blame for whatever it was on somebody else.

"Reporting as ordered, sir," I said, standing to attention in front of his desk.

Scotty didn't even acknowledge me, except with a look that made me want to call someone for emergency beam-out. He just stood up and switched on the monitor screen on the wall behind him. "Computer: run transporter room log for stardate 3193.0" he said.

I watched the recording, which ran for about a minute, and when it finished I was no wiser as to why I was hip deep in do-do.

"Lieutenant Aynsley." Scotty turned from the screen to face me. His arms were folded, but his voice seemed calm - friendly even. I should have run right then. "Describe to me what happened in the log excerpt we've just seen."

"Well, sir... uh, Ambassador Fox and his aide entered the transporter room, told me to beam them down to Eminiar Seven and... I did. Then I called the Bridge to advise that they'd beamed down safely." Yep, that pretty much covered it.

"Very good, Lieutenant. Nothing wrong with your powers of observation. Now tell me what was wrong with that scenario."

"Errrr...ummm." It was no use. I mean, just being in the same room with him makes it difficult for me to think straight; but having him stand there glaring at me like that - I had no chance of making any sense.

"Alright, Lieutenant, I'll give you a clue." He put his hands behind his back and started to pace, slowly, back and forth across the few yards of carpet between his desk and the monitor screen. "On Stardate 3193.0, who was in command of the Enterprise?"

Well, at least I didn't need multiple choice for that one. "You were, sir."

Scotty nodded. "Nothing wrong with your memory either. So tell me, Aynsley..." He stopped pacing, dropped his arms to his sides and spun on his heel to face me, all in the space of about half a second, and then he yelled: "Why the hell didn't you remember that when a Federation Ambassador told you to beam him down to a potentially hostile planet?"



I parroted the first excuse I could think of. The only excuse I could think of. "I'm sorry, Mr Scott. I assumed the Ambassador had authority..."

"The Ambassador..." Whatever it was he was going to say about Mr Fox, he thought better of it, took a deep breath and changed tack. He wasn't yelling any more, but he didn't have to. I'd got the message. "If anything had happened to Ambassador Fox, Aynsley - and let me point out here that his aide actually got killed down there - who do you think Starfleet would have held to account for it? Him? No. You? No." He tapped a finger against his chest. "Me, Lieutenant. The officer commanding. Because whoever is in that command chair is responsible for the safety of this ship and everyone on board her. Everyone. Whatever their title, whatever authority Starfleet might have seen fit to give them, and however stupid they might be."

There was more. A lot more. By the time Scotty had finished tearing into me, I felt about as useful as a cracked dilithium crystal. "Consider yourself confined to quarters for forty-eight hours," he finished, at last, "And while you're there, write me a detailed report on the importance of the chain of command. Dismissed."

I turned to go, hoping I could at least make it as far as the corridor before I fell apart. And then he said: "Susan."

That did it. I didn't dare turn to face him. It was all I could do to gulp: "Yes, sir?"

"You're a good engineer. You'll be a better one if you learn from your mistakes. Report back to me here in two days."

So here I am, back in my quarters with only my chocolates and a large glass of brandy to keep me warm.

But at least now I know he knows my name.

Personal Log, Stardate 3289.9

I wonder if the Captain ever gives any thought to the amount of work he gives the Engineering staff? Does he have any idea how much effort was involved in preparing 210 ultra-violet satellites for permanent orbit around Deneva? We didn't even have 210 ultra-violet satellites on board, for heaven's sake! We had to recalibrate the 200 communications satellites we had in stores, and build another ten from scratch. Took us most of the day, and all we kept hearing from the Captain was: "Are those satellites ready yet, Mr Scott?" "Status report on the satellites, Mr Scott?" and "How much longer before the satellites can be deployed, Mr Scott?" Every time he called, of course, Scotty had to stop working, answer the hail and explain (again) what we were doing.

"Why doesn't he just tell the Captain to shut the hell up and let us get on with it?" I muttered, as the intercom whistle sounded again and Scotty stepped past me to answer it. I must have spoken louder than I intended, because he stopped, looked right at me, and told me to go answer the hail. "Me, sir?"

"You, Aynsley." He was actually grinning, but I didn't think it was remotely funny. The Captain wanted to talk to the Chief Engineer, not the oily rag!

The intercom whistle sounded again. "Better hurry," Scotty said, and I scrambled across to answer.

"Engineering, Lieutenant Aynsley," I said, hoping maybe it was the galley calling up to ask if we wanted more sandwiches. In which case the answer was 'yes, please!'

"This is the Captain. Tell Mr Scott I want a status report on those satellites, Lieutenant, right away."

I looked around. Everyone within earshot was clearly waiting for me to tell the Captain to shut the hell up and let us get on with it, but all I could manage was a feeble: "Uh, yes, sir."

Scotty jerked a thumb at the door and said, "Tell him I'm on my way," and I duly relayed the message.

"Thank you. Kirk out."

Lemli was chuckling as he handed me the sonic probe I'd put down, and shook his head. "Well that sure told him!" he said.

But once Mr Scott got back from the Bridge we didn't get any more calls after that. So maybe the Captain got the message after all.

Personal Log, Stardate 3468.2

OK, confession time. It was me who reprogrammed Lieutenant Palamas' food replicator preferences. Serves the cow right for breaking Scotty's heart - and to judge by the number of Engineers who think it's hilarious that she's projectile vomiting all over sickbay, I'm not the only one who doesn't like her.

Apparently, Doctor McCoy thinks her purple rash should clear up in a week or so, which is a shame - I think it suits her.

Personal Log, Stardate 3542.1

Today, I had my big chance – and I blew it!

I was working in the Jeffries tube outside main Engineering, helping to check whether that little tin freak Nomad had done any permanent damage to the warp drive, when I heard Scotty's voice in the main corridor. "Lieutenant Aynsley – a word?"

Oh, crikey, what had I done this time?

But I wasn't in trouble, for once. As I climbed out the Jeffries Tube, Scotty looked around as though to check no-one could overhear, and said: "I hear that you have the best stash in this quadrant of real Rigellian chocolate."

Just wait till I see Palmer, I thought, Can't she keep her mouth shut about anything? "Well, I… have the odd box or two," I said, wondering where this was going.

"Would you be prepared to part with one? For the right price?" said Scotty – and that was when I blew it. Right there.

Because, instead of saying something nonchalant like: "Oh, just buy me lunch some time, sir," or even "Just buy me a drink some time, sir", my imagination kept replaying the sort of price I was sure Scotty wouldn't be prepared to pay, and my entire brain stalled.

I don't know whether I looked dumb or just undecided, but either way Scotty obviously felt that he owed me some further explanation. "Lieutenant Uhura's still in sickbay, and I know she likes Rigellian liqueurs."

At which point two thoughts occurred to me more or less simultaneously: How does he know? and Even Carolyn bloody Palamas didn't get Rigellian chocolate! Which didn't help my concentration any. I mean, as though it wasn't enough that he'd actually died trying to save the woman from her own stupidity, here he was asking for some of my precious chocolate to take to her bedside!

So I gazed into those pleading brown eyes and gave him the only response he deserved: "I'll go and fetch a box now, sir, shall I?"

Personal Log, Stardate 3613.8f

It was my fault. Totally my fault, and right now if someone handed me a phaser set on 'disintegrate' I'd use it on myself.

We were running simulation drills in Engineering. Scotty had programmed a series of emergency scenarios, and we had to respond as though they were the real thing. Each shift went through the same process, all against the clock, and Scotty was going to give a case of Denevan whisky to the team that performed best.

But he won't be doing that now, because he's lying unconscious in sickbay, and Doctor McCoy can't tell for sure yet whether he'll be okay.

How could I have been that stupid? The only sorry excuse for an excuse I can come up with is that the last time I was in a simulation exercise it was back at the Academy, where doing something that dumb wouldn't have caused more than a few sparks and earned a ticking off from the instructor.

But this time I wasn't in a simulator. I was in a Starship engine room, with a real impulse drive, and real auxiliary power at my disposal. I have no idea how the 'simulation' hook-up on the main control console came to be disengaged, but it wouldn't really have mattered if I hadn't screwed up my next move. I switched to auxiliary power - without bypassing the matter flow for the impulse engines first. Scotty saw what had happened, and was running across to the emergency fuel release controls when the overload caused the entire assembly to give way, and the explosion lifted him off his feet and smashed him against a bulkhead.

After that, it was all yelling and running, blood and smoke, medics, the horrible mingled smells of burned flesh and engine coolant. It all kind of went on around me, almost as though I was watching a vid rather than being part of it. I couldn't move, couldn't think - couldn't take in what I'd done, it was too appalling.

I watched the medical team take a half-dozen engineers off to sickbay to treat their burns, while a crowd of technicians from Beta and Gamma shifts arrived and began to deal with the damage to the engines. Scotty was still just lying there by the bulkhead, and Doctor McCoy was kneeling beside him waving a medical instrument over him and taking readings on his tricorder. Then the Captain arrived, went straight over there, and knelt next to Scotty, looking as worried as I've ever seen him. He put the question I wanted to ask, but couldn't: "Bones - will he be alright?"

McCoy barely glanced up, his attention was so focused on what he was doing. "I don't know yet, Jim," he said, "Severe head trauma. I can't even move him till I've got him stabilised."

Kirk looked around at the mess I'd made. "What the hell happened?" he said, his question not directed at anyone in particular.

I answered him anyway. "It was my fault, Captain," I said, "I'm so sorry."

So now, I'm in the process of packing. I put in a transfer request before the Captain could boot me off the ship, and Kirk signed it without a murmur. It's really supposed to be recommended and counter-signed by my head of Division, but that's not going to happen before we reach Rigel tomorrow morning, so the Captain just squiggled his name in both boxes and said he was quite sure it wouldn't be a problem. I'd call that a diplomatic way of saying 'if Mr Scott were conscious, he'd probably recommend you be shoved out an airlock'. So I reckon a reprimand, a transfer to the USS Excalibur, and this terrible feeling of guilt and anguish is getting off lightly.

At least Doctor McCoy took pity on me - he's promised to keep me posted on Scotty's progress. "And if he's out for your blood when he comes round, I'll just recommend we stop by on Argelius for a few days," he said, patting my shoulder, "If that doesn't calm him down, nothing will."

Personal Log, Stardate 4729.4

You'll never believe who I just got a sub-space message from!

I came back to my quarters to check that everything was securely battened down before we go off to our War Games, and there was the message tab on the screen: 'To: Lt jg Susan Aynsley, USS Excalibur From: Lt Cdr Montgomery Scott, USS Enterprise'.

He says he'll see me in the bar at the Space Station after the M-5 exercise, and he'll buy me a drink to show there are no hard feelings about my trashing his engine room.

**sigh**. I think this is the happiest day of my life.