"Din Lugh"

A Star Trek-the Original Series (TOS) fan-fic/Alternate Universe (set mainly after "Wrath of Khan").

A/N: This story is Scotty-centric, and I do not own any rights to these "Star Trek" characters and tales. I am using a timeline of my own design that runs with movies II-V, more or less (notice that I ignore ST-"The Motion Picture"). I started writing this fan-fic more than 30 years ago and only recently decided to dust it off a bit to see where it takes me.

Summary: Scotty has family members elsewhere in Starfleet and the Klingons would love to capture one or any of them.

Rating: T for now; may change in later chapters.

Pairings: MS/NU, others as needed.

Chapter 10/?

The Five Stages of Grief

Connor sat bolt upright in bed, groaning and wondering why he had gone to sleep fully clothed. His next coherent thought was momentarily postponed as he dashed to the bathroom, retched and vomited into the toilet bowl. He stayed as he was, steadying himself over the sink until the wave of nausea passed and then he rinsed the sour taste in his mouth out with cool water from the faucet. For good measure, he splashed more water on his face and ran his fingers through his hair. When at last he looked in the mirror, he was a bit surprised by the tired, drawn face staring back at him. He grabbed the nearby towel and leaned to get a closer look in the mirror.

"Oh dear," he murmured to his reflection, touching the puffy bags under his bloodshot eyes with the towel as he dried his face. "That's not a very good look for you, boyo."

Connor stripped off his shirt and trousers, tossing the rumpled clothing into the laundry chute and he stood there in his underwear while he drank a full glass of water. Rummaging around in the small cabinet behind the mirror, he found and immediately swallowed three anti-inflammatory capsules to abate the headache that was starting.

As he padded around in his bare feet, he saw his collie Montgomery, rolling around on top of the disarrayed bed sheets, making doggy-noises of pleasure as he rubbed his back on the soft cotton-blend material. Connor laughed softly.

"What in the world did we get into last night, Monty? I feel like I've been beaten wi' my own arms and legs," he whispered to the dog, who ignored him as all four paws stretched comically into the air. "Yeah, thanks a lot for the sympathy, pal. Silly bugger."

The young man shook his head at the dog's antics, chuckling to himself. When he finally made his way toward his computer workstation, he found the three empty bottles: one liter of bourbon and a liter and a half of single-malt Scotch.

Connor raised his eyebrows, giving a low whistle as he took up the two used shot glasses, carrying them to the bathroom to rinse them in the sink; he rested them upside down on the small towel. He drank another full glass of water while he was there and was actually starting to feel better; not quite hungry or sleepy but closer to normal.

"I won't be doing that again any time soon," he told Montgomery as he collected the empty liquor bottles and dropped them carefully in the recycling chute. His natural sense of order kicked in as he now moved around the tiny cabin, neatly stacking his books and computer cartridges at the workstation. He checked the digital chronometer on the end table as he plopped down on his small sofa, noting without surprise that it was just a few minutes after two in the morning.

He sat quietly for a long time, his eyes coming to rest on the photo cube that sat on the coffee table; facing him was a picture of his parents, their arms wrapped around each other in a warm embrace, taken around four or five years ago. He smiled at them, more than a little bit sadly as he recalled that it was he who took the photo at their wedding anniversary party.

"I miss you," Connor said aloud in a clear, strong voice, speaking directly to the photo. "I wish you were here with me." He sighed heavily and got lost in his thoughts. By the time he stirred again, nearly an hour had passed and his back felt stiff.

He stood and stretched, reaching both arms far above his head and thinking he should probably get back to bed, or at least take a shower. Trouble was, he knew he'd only toss and turn for hours; Monty had already gone back to sleep and he smiled at the dog whose legs twitched and paddled in some fantastic canine dream. Stepping over to his closet, Connor quickly pulled on a gray t-shirt and loose cargo pants, a germ of an idea developing: he needed a middle-of-the night workout. It took him only another two seconds to grab his padded gloves (but no shoes) and he was out the door.

-/-/-/-/-/-

Sweat dripped down his forehead and neck thoroughly soaking the front and back of his t-shirt, and Connor ignored everything but the heavy bag on its stand directly in front of him. In his ears he wore tiny receivers, and he'd programmed them to play (very loudly) the heavy metal rock music favored by his rather large friend in the MMA class, Ivan Blasic. He stepped back slightly, rolling his shoulders and neck to loosen sore muscles and then resumed the rapid punch and kick combinations in time to the pounding beats.

As late as it was, the Rec Deck was not completely empty; a starship as big as Enterprise was a space-travelling city in its own right and it ran 24/7. He was alone in the dojo though, and was able to lose himself in the vigorous, repetitive exercise. His breathing was steady, exhaling sharply as he landed punches; the steady thwack of his padded gloves as they struck the bag echoed in the brightly lit room.

Connor pulled up short when he saw a red-shirted senior crewman step out of his peripheral vision and he hurried to remove a glove and turn off his music. "Beggin' your pardon, sir. I didn't know there was a class in here…"

Chief Dan Borden raised one sardonic eyebrow, resting a hand on the top of the heavy black bag. "Having a late night, Mr. Scott?"

Connor chuckled and shook his head, blushing as he tucked the earpieces that he'd hastily removed from his ears into a cargo pocket of his slacks. "No, sensei. I just… I couldn't sleep."

Borden nodded slightly, accepting the explanation without batting an eyelash. "It happens," he said mildly and then he smiled. "You look a little bit surprised about something, son."

"I've never seen you in uniform, sir, I mean other than in here for our classes," replied Connor, indicating the insignia on the left breast patch. "Communications division?"

The man grinned. "You didn't think I earned my pay teaching you knot heads how to keep your balance all evening, did you? Yes, I head up the Communications gamma shift. Mainly keeping the boards on the secondary bridge working properly and translating incoming messages as needed." He shrugged, amused at Connor's reaction.

Scott chuckled again, tapping his gloves against the bag. "I had no idea, chief, although I guess I should have. My apologies."

"No offense taken," said Borden, dragging a wooden bar stool from the side of the dojo. He perched on it comfortably and folded his arms across his chest, indicating the heavy canvas bag in front of the youngster with a jerk of his bearded chin. "Don't let me keep you from your practice; I'm just here on a mid-shift break."

Connor dropped his hands to his sides and bowed from the waist. "Aye-aye, chief." And with that, he resumed the punching and kicking combinations on the stationary bag. It wasn't long until Borden was murmuring instructions, changing the commands as he usually did with the MMA class sessions. Connor followed along naturally, his body moving from muscle memory, even when he was ordered to switch from left to right or back to front; it felt smooth and instinctive and it felt even better now that his mind had gone completely calm. He had no idea how long he'd been at the bag when Borden called for a break.

They walked companionably to the side of the dojo where the water bottles were usually kept. Connor lowered himself to the floor to stretch while he drank thirstily from the bottle he'd grabbed and Borden found a seat on the low wooden bench, leaning back against the wall. The older man watched silently, recognizing the signs of Connor's distraction even if the youngster didn't recognize them in himself.

"You look like a man who is fighting off some pretty big demons tonight," observed the chief after a minute or two had passed.

Connor hesitated for a handful of heartbeats, nodding. "Aye, you could say that, sir." He unfastened and pulled off the padded gloves, setting them off to one side and stretching his right leg fully to the front as he brought his nose down to the knee. "I had a test with Dr. McCoy today, er rather, yesterday. A Sigmund or whatever it was called." He grimaced unconsciously.

Borden grunted in agreement, his jaw tightening slightly. "Not very pleasant if I remember mine correctly."

Connor's eyes widened as he realized that Sensei Borden knew exactly what the Sigmund exam was for. He sighed. "It helped me to remember what happened to my folks back home. To be honest though, I'm not sure if I'd rather forget or remember." Scott couldn't look Borden in the face just then so he pressed his forehead all the way to the floor, stretching his lower back and hamstrings.

The chief was silent for so long that Connor thought he had left the dojo. He hadn't. When he looked up, Borden's green eyes were glistening with a few unshed tears.

"Seems like a very long time ago, but I had a son your age… are you sixteen already?" Borden swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat.

"I will be sixteen in August," Connor replied quietly, a little awed at the revelation.

The chief nodded. "Casey. He wasn't quite as tall as you but strong, really strong. He took after his mother; her name was Lena." Borden shook his head, a sad smile touching his lips as he took a deep breath before he continued. "We were on our way out to a listening post along the Neutral Zone, Klingon not Romulan, and our transport ship had mechanical problems. We were just drifting in space when the battle cruiser fired on us. You've met them too, haven't you?"

"Klingons attacked my Dad's research outpost, it was called RL-995," said Connor, his voice soft with understanding. "Did your wife and son die when the Klingons came on board?"

It was Borden's turn to look slightly surprised and he nodded once, to himself, in comprehension; he shook his head in answer to Scott's question. "Actually, they never boarded us. I picked up a transmission from their chain of command indicating that a new gunner on the ship just wanted some target practice. He or she shot us clean in half and not everyone made it to the escape hatches."

Connor flinched. He felt inexplicably honored and humbled that his sensei was sharing this very painful, very personal story with him. "It's not fair, is it chief?"

"Rarely is, Connor. You speak Klingon?"

"Aye, sir. All three dialects."

"Thought so, me too. That was how I picked up the transmission in fact, unfortunately this was more than twenty years ago and the technology has changed quite a bit. I could only receive messages and not send them… and then the escape pods only had distress beacons so Starfleet to find us for the rescue. They were designed more for safety in the crash landing part."

"What did you do after you were rescued?" Connor asked, curious.

Chief Borden laughed sardonically. He nodded toward the punching bag in the center of the room. "Pretty much what you are doing right now. And then I quit drinking too."

Connor blushed, glad for the exercise to help him sweat out all of the alcohol he had consumed. "Does it help, chief? Does it ever… feel, I dunno, better?"

Borden bent and clapped him on the shoulder. "Eventually. I want you to look up something when you get a chance, as part of your academic preps."

"Aye-aye, sir. Of course I will."

"Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a grief counselor, an expert in the twentieth century," Borden said. "I think you should read some of what she wrote. It still applies, even today."

Connor got to his feet, picking up his boxing gloves and tucking them under one arm as Borden turned to leave. "I'll find it, sir. And chief?"

Dan Borden paused mid-stride, his eyebrow rose in a question.

"Thank you."

TBC