Disclaimer: Star Trek does not belong to me. I am making no money for this. Thank you very much for reading it anyway, even though I am not an owner.

Montgomery Scott sneezed twice and wiped his nose with an old-fashioned checkered handkerchief. A ritual he'd been repeating ever since he'd set foot in engineering and one his right hand, Keenser, had noticed was becoming more intense.

The small alien watched his work partner with concern. The chief engineer hadn't been himself for a few days and finally he started to show symptoms of actual illness. In addition to the sneezing every few minutes, he was coughing a great deal. Keenser climbed up on a short storage cage to look Scotty over more closely. He noted that he was pale, with a red flush over his cheeks, which bespoke of a fever. "C'mon, get down from there. D'ya wanna hurt y'rself? I cann'a have that on m' hands too. Th' captain's already 'bout t' hand me me walkin' papers if I don'a get the warp core repaired." He coughed then moved to lift his small friend down. Quickly, Keenser brought his hand up to Scotty's forehead and made a displeased noise.

Scotty batted it away and set Keenser on the floor. "It's non'a y'r concern." He knew he was running a fever, but there was nothing he could do about that at the moment. The ship was stuck at warp two and wouldn't go up any further. That was his main worry at the time.

After a couple of hours of Scotty trying to figure out the ship's problem Kirk's voice sounded over the comm. "Bridge to engineering. Scotty, what the hell is going on down there? Are you anywhere near fixing my ship or are we going to spend all of this five year mission limping to one planet?"

Scotty coughed and sniffled, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. "I don'a know sir. I've run ev'ry test imaginable on 'er. She's'na givin' me much t' work with."

Kirk sighed heavily, trying not to allow the bridge crew see his annoyance. He got to his feet, deciding that if he was going to have words with his chief engineer, he'd best do it both in person and in private. "Mr. Spock, you have the conn." He needed to try to get to the bottom of this. Scotty was not the type to just… sound defeated the way he had over the transmission.

Keenser had been following Scotty around like a worried puppy ever since he'd discovered the man's fever and he was the first to see the captain walking toward them with a very frustrated look on his face. He tugged on Scotty's shirt and pointed.

"Aw bloody hell." Scotty made a face, and then stood up straight and met Kirk half way. "Can I help ya Sir?"

"You can tell me what the hell is going on down here. I mean, you can fix that warp core with a piece of masking tape and a paper clip. One-single-paperclip. What's different now?"

"I cann'a tell ya if I don'a know. Believe me Captain I have tried ev'rythin' I can think of, but…" He turned away and sneezed into his elbow.

"Bless you." Jim said in a very off handed way, not noticing the bags under Scotty's eyes, or the flush to his cheek. "Look, I hate to push people who generally know what it is they're doing, but seriously, we need to get this ship underway before she dies all together. I mean, she's brand new and we've already wrecked her once. Starfleet is gonna start to think that I order my team to wreck her because I like to see them squirm."

"T' be fair," Scotty's voice was icy as he drew himself up to meet Kirk's eyes. "I ne'r wrecked her the firs' time. She was like that when I came back."

"A technicality. The point is I want to have a higher warp capability by the time the day is over."

"Ay Sir." Scotty tried to keep up the wounded pride act, but he was just too tired to do so. His shoulders sagged as he turned away from Kirk without being dismissed. Then he sneezed three times.

That caught Jim's attention and he glanced down at Keenser, who was staring at him during the whole exchange. "What? I just want my ship moving again. Don't look at me like that."

Keenser shrugged then jerked his head in the direction of the retreating engineer. He made a soft, sad noise and looked at Jim again.

"Any captain would expect this from his crew. I'm not being unreasonable." He followed the alien's eyes to the back of Scotty's head and watched as his shoulders shook and he jerked forward, obviously sneezing again. "God, fine, you really know how to present your case, you know that?" Jim rolled his eyes and broke into a very light jog, the small engineer on his heels. "Hey, Scotty?"

"Sir?" He had his wrist pressed to the underside of his nose and he looked beat. How had Jim missed that before?

{Well now I feel like the galaxy's biggest jerk.} He thought to himself as he ran his eyes quickly over his body. Slumped shoulders, flush high on the cheeks, paler than Spock… God, how the hell did his not put this together before now? Montgomery Scott was not the type of man to just roll over when things got a little hard and his captain talked a little more harshly to him than he should. That wasn't the way he worked. Kirk swallowed and ran a hand through his hair. "Scotty, how long have you been feeling sick?"

"Sick Sir?" The innocent act fell very flat when he started to cough, then sneeze three times again.

"Yeah, sick. Listen to yourself. You sound like hell. Why didn't you tell me you were too sick to work on this? I could have found someone else to do it."

"Ya cann'a fly a ship on excuses Captain. Plenty'a time f'r me t' be down f'r the count after I get her up an' runnin'." He swiped at his forehead and looked down at his shoes, waiting for Jim's reply.

"Scotty," Jim reached forward and put his hand on Scotty's shoulder in what he hoped to be a reassuring way when he felt the heat through his shirt. "My god…" He put his other hand on Scotty's forehead and shook his head. "You're burning up. Okay, well you made this easy for me. You're relieved of duty until Dr. McCoy says that you have a clean bill of health. Report to sickbay. Keenser, go with him, make sure he actually goes. I'm gonna tell McCoy that you're on the way."

Scotty opened his mouth, then closed it. There was nothing he could say now that Jim had ordered him to sickbay. He turned around and sneezed into his hands. "Scus me. Right then, I'll be goin' down t' sickbay then." He sighed and handed his PADD over to Jim. Keenser followed suit.

Jim shook his head. "Bless you. Just… I want you to take care of yourself. If you don't, how can you take care of our ship?" He gave him another friendly clap on the back.

Scotty jerked a nod, feeling a bit like a chastised child. "Lemme go talk t' Johnson, he's been itchin' t' get his hands on th' warp core an' show me what he can with her."

"Johnson's a good engineer. If anyone can take your place he'd be a good choice." Jim gave him a slightly tight smile and walked away, his hands behind his back.

Keenser looked at Scotty then motioned for him to go talk to Johnson about fixing the warp drive. He rubbed the back of his neck. "Johnson, can I talk t' ya for two seconds?"

"Yes sir." The man stood up straight and tucked the PADD he'd been working on under his arm. "What do you need?"

"I need ya t' look afta the warp core f'r me, if ya would. I gotta take m' leave." He turned away and sneezed, smothering it in his elbow.

"Yes sir, feel better." Johnson eyed the core with trepidation. He wasn't sure how he felt about trying to fill Scotty's shoes, but he'd try.

"I cann'a believe he's got me comin' down t' sickbay wi'all I have t' do. Soon's I get th' core fixed I can be sick. Na before. Does that make sense?" He looked down at Keenser questioningly.

The alien looked at him, tilted his head and shook it firmly. He'd seen Scotty sick on Delta Vega and frankly, he never wanted to see the engineer like that again. The medical facility had been well stocked but Scotty still took a long time to recover. He wasn't sure if it had been because there were no doctors or if it was just because Scotty caught a hard bug to shake.

"Are ya serious? I don'a need t' spend m' whole afternoon in sickbay. I got work t' do." He stepped through the doors of sickbay, where McCoy was waiting for him, tricorder in hand.

"Alright, Jim told me you were on your way. It's not as if I have anything better to do than making sure you don't kill yourself." He guided Scotty over to a biobed. "Lay down will you. Why you didn't come to me before you were ordered to is anyone's guess. You're running a fever of thirty-eight point nine, you know that?" He scowled and shook his head. "I swear; I'm surrounded by people who have no damn clue how to take care of themselves."

"I canna afford to be sick right now." Scott sneezed and wiped his nose on his handkerchief, earning himself an even deeper scowl.

"I'm burning that thing. It's unhygienic and repulsive." He held out a metal receptacle with one hand and a box of tissues in the other. "And you don't get to tell me that you can't get sick. You're human, you get sick. Even that half Vulcan has his sick-days." McCoy skimmed down Scotty's charts and frowned. "Scotty, it says here the last time you were sick with, well, anything was almost two years ago. Is that right?"

"Yeah 'tis. I ne'r get sick." He sounded proud of that fact.

"Yeah well, that's a blessing and a curse. You don't have a lot of immunity to strong viruses built up, so when something hard hits you, you can't really block it. It has to be a tough bug to break through to get you, but when it does you get like… this, don't you?."

"That is'na th' mos' comfortin' thin' ya ev'r said t' me." Scotty closed his eyes, nodded in agreement to the good doctor's assumption and coughed hard, sniffling.

"I guess sometimes I'm not the most comforting person. Had you come down to see me when the bug first started I'd try to be more sympathetic. Now, go to sleep, will ya? I got some blood to categorize."

Scotty relaxed and closed his eyes while Keenser watched over him. "I canna believe I'm stuck here. I should be fixin' our ship right now, not nursin' some fever I can shake soon's I fix her." He grumbled to the small alien, who simply shook his head. "Ya don'a have faith in me, ya know that?" He nodded and stood on tiptoe to pull the covers up to his friend's chin. He pet Scotty's forehead and sat down to watch him sleep.

Scotty was more than half way to dozing when he sat up quickly, making his head spin. He sneezed three times before fumbling for his communicator. "Scott t' engineerin'." He coughed hard and rubbed his temples. "Johnson, come in, d'ya hear me?"

"Sir," the young man's voice crackled over the commlink. "I thought you were supposed to be resting."

"Time'nough f'r that soon's I tell ya what t' do f'r th' core t' get her up'n runnin' again." Scotty sneezed again and reached for the tissue box. He hated tissues. They irritated his nose more than the illness he was suffering from. He winced as the paper ran under his nose. "'Scuse me. 'Nyway ya need t' be rechargin' the dilithium crystals whilst monitoring the antimatter reactor. Once she hits fourty-three percent, try warpin' higher th'n warp two." He sneezed again and curled up on the bed, ignoring the glares he was getting from the good doctor and Keenser. His reputation was still in tacked, and that was all that mattered to him. He gave Keenser a small, almost apologetic smile. "There, now'th't th't's done, I'm allowed t' lie here and be sick."

The alien nodded and pat his hand again, sighing to himself. Humans were so very confusing. And Scotty was the most confusing one of all. Still, he loved him and would take care of him as well as he could.