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Into the TARDIS | Back to the Future

The kink meme has eaten me. FML.

So I went to post a prompt about surrogate mothers that you should totally think about writing, and then I scrolled up and saw this adorable kitten!Chekov prompt and fell in love with it.
I didn't expect it to run to almost fifteen thousand words and take three days to complete (and that's with me devoting most of my time to writing it.) This thing is an Epic Beast and I have enjoyed every minute of writing it.

Title: Second Chances (or: Kitten!Chekov and his Good Deeds Quest)
Fandom: Star Trek
Pairing: Scotty/Chekov
Rating: R (for angst, swearing and death-related themes. No explicit sexy times.)
Warnings: character death (but that's the point), and adorable kitten hijinks
Summary: Written for this prompt in st_xi_kink . Chekov dies too soon, Q gets involved and, as always, Spock has a special soft spot for kittens.
Notes: There is one OC in this. My sister refused to read it unless it had Tim Roth in it. I've also included references to a few other fandoms - have a happy shiny fun time spotting them all. Also, in the scene with the space anomaly, I totally just took a plot device and ran with it. I know not of that which I do speak.





The collision did not hurt as much as Pavel expected it to. There was some initial pain, a little bit of burning agony as shrapnel tore through every exposed body part he had to offer and flames engulfed his body and began to char his pale, virgin skin... but then it all dissipated into a vague tickling sensation and Pavel found himself standing, all limbs intact, in a blank field of nothingness.

Of course, nothingness is nothing if not indescribable, so it's better to just imagine being surrounded by whiteness in all directions and floating in the middle of it, unencumbered by such pedestrian notions as gravity. Unless you're privileged enough to belong to the Q Continuum, that's as close as you're ever going to get to understanding what true nothingness really is.

There was no dark-haired man in his mid-thirties wearing command gold floating in the white expanse in front of him. And then, suddenly, there was.

Pavel looked down at his hands and up at the... (he checked the gold braid at his cuffs)... Captain suspended in the air before him. He didn't look much like the traditional portrayal of a deity, but Pavel supposed that one of the prerogatives of being omnipotent was what you chose to look like.

"Oh, how quaint," the Captain said. "You think I'm your God." His voice was not at all how Pavel had expected; it had an element of grandeur to it, yes, but it was far more nasal and pompous than a deity should sound. As the initial shock of finding himself quite obviously deceased wore away, Pavel began to question whether this really was God after all, or merely His messenger.

"Of course, the way you understand it, I might as well be God," the Captain droned on, either oblivious to Pavel's internal doubts or choosing to ignore them. "I am omnipotent after all, and omniscient, and all of those other boring 'om's that seem to fall by the wayside."

He swept his gaze over Pavel with a look of contempt. "You're younger than you should be," he said, raising one of his bushy eyebrows, "But you'll do." He put his hands on his hips and thrust back his shoulders. "You can call me Q. I'm here to make you an offer you can't refuse."

Pavel licked his lips, a small frown creasing his forehead.

"So... I am not in heaven?" he asked.

The Captain - Q - chuckled, his whole face crinkling with mirth, and it struck Pavel as heartless that this being could find such amusement while he lay dead in a burned up shuttle.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry," Q said, his face quickly snapping into a frown. "How rude of me." He frowned thoughtfully for a second before suddenly brightening and exclaiming: "Oh, I have just the thing to cheer you up!"

He snapped his fingers and the nothingness turned into a cargo bay on board the Enterprise; the one they used for weddings and other official ceremonies. The entire crew seemed to be assembled there, their eyes fixed on Captain Kirk, who stood at the front, his body rigidly formal as he delivered a speech. Only his eyes betrayed the grief that he saw in the rest of the crew... Pavel began to search out his friends in the crowd and found Uhura sobbing quietly into a handkerchief as she leaned on an ever-impassive Spock.

They were at his funeral, then. Pavel concluded that he must be invisible, because no gasps of fear and disbelief distracted the captain from his speech as he delivered a few final words of condolence and turned towards Pavel's direction.

Turning on the ball of one foot, Pavel found himself standing next to a coffin that he could only assume was his own. It would be empty, of course; there wouldn't have been anything left of his body to salvage, and the metal alloy of which it was made was light enough to be carried by two strong men. Scotty and Sulu, his two best friends (in life, he reminded himself. Death was a new adventure; he must be prepared to leave these men behind...) stood on either side of his coffin, one hiding his grief while the other openly wept.

It was Scotty whose face was streaked with tears as they lifted the coffin and carried it to the forcefield that separated the mourners from the vast expanse of space. Pavel walked by his side, so tempted to reach out and brush away those tears, but he stayed his hand. This was his last chance to memorise every inch of the man's face, usually so expressive as he argued his latest crazy theory or drunkenly declared Pavel to be the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.

The coffin slid through the forcefield and was carried out into space. Just before Sulu turned away, Pavel was certain he saw his friend bite down hard on his lip. Scotty stayed for a moment longer, watching Pavel's empty coffin drift further and further from him until the bulkhead slid firmly closed.

"Why did you show me this?" Pavel asked quietly, his eyes trained on Scotty's slumped shoulders as he turned away, probably to drown his sorrows in that foul tasting whiskey he brewed in one of the turbine sectors. The world around him faded back to white, and he was floating again, faced with Q's smugness and fake Captain's stripes.

"Ah, well, I'll admit I may have been manipulating you a little bit there," Q said casually, as if they were discussing the non-existent weather. "You see, as I said, I have an offer to make you - a proposition, if you will - and I really can't have you refusing and putting the stability of the multiverse in jeopardy."

If he hadn't been so shell-shocked, this might have interested Pavel somewhat, but he wasn't having the best of days and all he really wanted was to know how it was going to end.

"What is your offer?" he asked wearily.

Q smiled, pleased at his acquiescence. "Oh, you're so much easier to get along with than Jean-Luc," he beamed. "Now look, it's very simple. You're a good Jewish boy, right?"

Pavel nodded dully, feeling that it was expected of him.

"So you'll be wanting to get into heaven, won't you?"

Pavel frowned at this. "So there is a heaven?" he asked, doubtfully. Despite his faithful adherence to his mother's beliefs, the scientist in him had always taken the teachings of his faith metaphorically, never quite believing the specifics to be real. The very idea that there existed a place undetectable and unreachable by living humans, after all that travel through time and between universes, seemed unlikely.

"You never know until you find out," Q said cheerfully. "And really, I think you'll like my proposal. All you have to do is five good deeds, and we, that is to say I, will let you into heaven. Any questions?"

Frowning, Pavel allowed this new insanity to percolate his thoughts. He was, quite definitely, deceased. He'd just witness his own funeral. He was hanging in a big wide expanse of nothingness with a being who claimed to be omnipotent. Said being was offering him a place in heaven, and all he had to do to get there was five good deeds.

Actually, he did have one question.

"If my body was destroyed in the shuttle crash, how am I to do good deeds?" he asked.

"Ah!" Q grinned, snapping his fingers again. "Now this is the bit you'll like. I'm quite positive you'll appreciate the chance to say goodbye."

He felt himself shrinking and was one hundred percent certain that this could not end well.

*

Being a kitten wasn't at all a terrible experience. There was an exciting newness to the world, a vastness of possibility, endless things to pounce and chase and bite and run in circles around. Overhanging creepers were particularly fun to attack with outstretched claws and shred to pieces. In fact, the planet that Q deposited him on offered enough distractions that when the Enterprise finally arrived, as Q promised it would, Pavel had almost forgotten about his Good Deeds Mission.

It wasn't until a platoon of standard issue Starfleet boots trampled through the undergrowth where Pavel was sleeping that he realised the ship was in orbit at all. After blinking sleepily at the tree-trunk thick legs that passed him, he decided to give chase. Shoelaces were something he'd been especially looking forward to when he forgot about being a kitten for long enough to think about what he would do when he finally met up with his crew.

The away team didn't notice him until they stopped to rehydrate and check out some of the local wildlife. Having spent two and a half weeks terrorising said wildlife, Pavel felt that he could be an asset in this investigation, and he stepped forward to offer his help. Perhaps this could be his first Good Deed.

One of the botanists squealed with delight upon seeing him, a sound that he would barely have been able to tolerate as a human. To his feline ears, it sounded like the whine of a sonic emitter right before it exploded (and Pavel had once been unfortunate to be in the room when this happened - it had been ten days before he'd been able to hear anything again).

To his disgust and dismay, he was scooped up into a pair of blue-clad arms. When he realised what the soft, warm pillows that cushioned him were, though, his objections faded a little and he snuggled a little closer, to the young woman's apparent delight. Words such as 'cute' and 'adorable' were being thrown around, and although this wasn't the first time such adjectives had been used to describe him, he'd never gotten such an enthusiastic welcome before.

"It's me, Ensign Chekov," he tried to tell them, but all that came out of his mouth was a loud purr. It seemed that doing his Good Deeds would prove more difficult that he had first thought. For one thing, how could he ensure that he would be allowed back on the ship if he couldn't explain to the Captain who he was?

"Oh, can we keep him?" the woman holding him asked as she stroked the top of his fuzzy golden head with one finger. Pavel thought that the next voice he heard was the deep rumble of Commander Spock, but the finger was scratching behind his ear now and it really did feel too good to be scientifically possible.

Then the soft cushion of breasts was gone, and Pavel was being passed from one warm pair of arms to another. These were also clad in science blue, but felt harder and more masculine than the previous ones. They smelled different too, and Pavel thought that it was more than just the difference between male and female... but it was the heat pouring off of them that made him certain that he was now in the arms of Commander Spock, the last person he expected to want to cuddle a kitten.

"It would not be logical to bring such a creature on board without knowing what pathogens it may be carrying, or whether it poses a threat to the safety of the crew," Spock said as he regarded the kitten that he held in his arms. Pavel turned his head upwards and stared back at him, eyes wide and green.

"However," Spock said softly, reaching out hesitantly with his index finger and rubbing it against the soft spot behind Pavel's ear. "I cannot deny that further study of the animal may prove... fascinating."

Pavel nearly exploded from purring.

*

Once on the ship, Pavel's existence became less about excitement and exploration and more about pacing his cage and receiving visitors. Every member of the crew seemed to want to visit him for one reason or another, whether it be to run tests on him or cuddle him or sing to him (and if he thought Uhura's singing was beautiful before, he had a whole new appreciation of it now that he could hear pitches beyond the reach of human ears).

Sulu came to see him during Gamma shift and fed him leaves from a plant he was experimenting with. Pavel had eaten hash brownies more than once at the Academy, and the high he got after attacking those leaves and rubbing his nose in them was similar. He wondered whether helping Sulu with his botany project counted as a Good Deed, but he guessed that he would probably have to look harder to find people in need of his help.

Chasing his tail for hours had been fun, though. He'd once been high on LSD and spent four hours playing with a tribble, just poking it and giggling. Now he was the tribble, (well, sort of,) and the experience was much the same. In fact, come to think of it, being a kitten was a lot like being on drugs 24/7, complete with euphoria and paranoia but minus the hallucinations.

In short, Pavel was enjoying himself. The only downside to being locked in a cage with a forcefield around it (and he didn't really blame Spock for the added security after the incident with the tribbles) was that the one person he really wished would visit him was conspicuously absent. His constant stream of visitors didn't talk about their chief engineer very often, but Pavel lived for the brief mentions of his name in conversation.

Captain Kirk had come to see him on the pretence of helping Nurse Chapel administer his shots (and ow, hyposprays didn't hurt any less than when he'd been human. Thank Q for neutering him before he'd been released into the world of the living, because the thought of putting his balls at the mercy of 'I'm a Doctor, not a veterinarian' McCoy was not at all appealing). Pavel didn't know whether the Captain's true intention was to get some snuggle time with the ship's new mascot or to flirt with the pretty nurse, but it was thanks to this visit that he finally got his first proper news about Scotty.

"Captain, you know I can't violate doctor-patient confidentiality," the nurse said as she jabbed another hypo into Pavel's violated little kitten neck. He mewled in protest, but shut up when he heard her next words. "But I'm worried about Mr Scott. He hasn't been... well, let's just say he isn't doing himself any favours. I don't think he wants to get better, if you see what I mean."

The Captain's fingers stroked over his back and Pavel spared a thought to wonder what the Captain would think if he realised who he was caressing.

"He's grieving over Ensign Chekov," the Captain said, "I think that much is obvious to everyone. Are you saying that he doesn't want to... to move on, to get over him?"

Nurse Chapel lay a hand on the Captain's arm. "You've witnessed first hand how death can affect people. What happens when someone goes into denial and won't allow themselves to go through the grieving process."

Pavel's first thought was that she was talking about Commander Spock and his mother, but then he remembered that the Captain lost his father on the day that he was born. He realised that she must be talking about his mother, or another close relative. Someone whose life was ruined because they lost someone close to them and couldn't let go.

It was his fault that Scotty was pining. He was probably sitting in the engine room with a bottle, singing mournful Scottish songs. Pavel could picture him, as clearly as if he was sitting beside him, passing a bottle between them and feeling the callouses on Scotty's palm as he slid a hand underneath Pavel's uniform shirt. The Captain was worried about him for now, but how long would his pity last? How long until he was discharged from Starfleet for being a miserable drunk?

Pavel couldn't let that happen. He took the rest of his shots without so much as a protest, barely feeling the soothing stroke of fingers over his fur as he focused on the image of a miserable Scotty and planned his escape.

*

It turned out not to be as difficult as he had first imagined. Two days later, a pair of Lieutenants came down to the zoology lab on a date; she was obviously a cat lover, and he had obviously brought her to see Pavel in the hopes of getting into her pants. At first, Pavel had seen right through him and thought it unlikely to work - give a woman a kitten and she'll play with the kitten rather than tear her clothes off and fall at your feet. Apparently, though, she was more into the guy than Pavel had first thought. Their hands bumped as they both reached up to stroke Pavel's head, and before he could say 'hey, where's my head rub?' they were sucking on each others' tongues as if they only had minutes left to live.

He would have hidden under a table and looked disgusted, but Pavel had some escaping to do. Once uniforms started to come off, he was able to get his paws on a communicator and press the button to turn it on. He couldn't speak into it, of course, but all he needed was for someone to hear the breathless moaning coming from the humans in the room and send in a med team.

As McCoy ran through the doors, much to the Lieutenants' surprise and embarrassment, Pavel slipped between his feet and made a run for it. Before anyone could tear their eyes away from the scene in the zoology lab and actually look for him, his fluffy tail was disappearing around a corner.

Plan successful. Now to find an entrance to the jeffries tubes and make his way to Scotty. Unfortunately, this was the part that proved less successful. Pavel hadn't made it ten metres down the corridor before he heard footsteps and voices ahead of him. Looking frantically about for somewhere to hide, he darted into an alcove and pressed himself into the shadows just as a pair of boots came around the corner.

"...not that he doesn't respect me," said a female voice that Pavel recognised as Uhura's. "It's just that he talks to me as if he still thinks he can get into my pants."

"Yeah, yeah, I've noticed that," said a different female voice, probably that Orion girl, if the smooth green skin at the top of her boots was any indication.

"And it's not as if he had a chance to begin with," Uhura continued, "But now he definitely doesn't have a chance, because, you know. Spock."

"He definitely knows that the two of you are together?"

"Oh, I think we've made ourselves clear."

Their voices were getting further away, but Pavel was intrigued enough to follow at a safe distance behind.

"He just thinks he can get away with it because he's the Captain now, you know?"

"Yeah." Pavel saw a mess of red curls bob up and down as the Orion girl nodded.

"And I don't want to complain to 'Fleet Command, because he's an excellent Captain and I don't want to get him court-martialled for harassment." Uhura made a sound of frustration at the back of her throat. "I just want some respect; is that too much to ask?"

The Orion girl said something in reply, but they were too far away to hear any more. Pavel took a different turning and found himself an access panel that had been left open. He soon discovered that cats were as good at climbing ladders as he had hoped they would be, and he was soon making his way through the jeffries tubes that ran through the inside of the ship like blood vessels.

*

When he got to engineering, things turned out to be worse that he'd thought.

He expected to find Scotty drunk or moping or shouting at someone, but as he climbed out of a tunnel and onto a walkway that circled engineering, the entire section was quiet and Scotty was nowhere to be seen. Pavel hoped that he hadn't hidden out in his quarters, because not only would that require him to make another epic journey in which to find him, but it would also mean that Scotty was worse off than he'd expected.

It turned out, though, that Scotty wasn't moping at all. Pavel nearly jumped out of his fur with fright when that strange looking little alien - Keenser, he thought his name was - jogged past him and shimmied down a pipe with the ease of a monkey, dropping to the floor twelves metres below as if he'd just hopped out of bed. As Pavel's fur began to flatten back down, he padded to the edge and saw Keenser hand a spanner to a pair of legs sticking out of a console. A hand reached out and took it without saying a word, and Keenser stuck around for a second as if about to say something, before shrugging and ambling off looking dejected.

Pavel stood on the walkway watching the pair of legs for several minutes. If those belonged to who he thought they belonged to, then Scotty seemed to be doing just fine. And if that was the case, why was Nurse Chapel worried about him? Something wasn't right, and he couldn't do anything about it by standing around up here. Q may have sent him back to do Good Deeds, but his mission couldn't have been further from the front of his mind as he began to search for a way down.

In the end, Keenser helped him. Yes, there was a ladder, but it was high and Pavel was scared and he knew cats were supposed to land on their feet and have nine lives and all of that, but now was not the time to test those theories. Being carried one-handed by a leathery monkey-alien was not the most dignified way to go, but at least Pavel knew for a fact that Keenser was vegetarian.

Keenser set him down on ground level and gave him a pat on the head for good measure before walking off to do whatever it was that he did. Tinker with things in hard to reach places, Pavel supposed. Rescuing lost kittens couldn't be his day job.

Gathering his thoughts, he remembered what he was supposed to be doing and stalked his way over to the well-worn, greasy boots that stuck out from under the console like the whiskers that sprouted from his cheeks. Pavel stopped when he reached the sole of the left boot, and batted at the shoelace experimentally. When this produced no immediate results, he stuck his claws out, batted at it again and managed to get himself stuck.

"Scotty, I'm stuck!" he called out, finally getting the man's attention with a loud, pained mrooowrl! The boot kicked at him angrily, and he cried out again, this time convincing the engineer to stop what he was doing and find out what the problem was.

"Get off me fuckin' boot, ye manky beast!" he growled, jerking Pavel's paw out of his shoelace and kicking him halfway across the room. Pavel mewled pitifully, but provoked no sympathy from the usually jovial man. Swearing under his breath, Scotty crawled back under the console and, from the sound of it, began to hit things with his spanner.

Scotty was kicking kittens. There was something seriously wrong.

Clearly, his original plan of cheer-Scotty-up-by-being-an-adorable-kitten was not going to work. Fortunately, Pavel was nothing if not persistent. Trusting that Keenser wouldn't betray him to the Captain, Pavel decided to hide out in engineering for a while until he could figure out a) how to fix Scotty and b) how to do five Good Deeds so that he could go to heaven.

He made himself a nest behind some empty crates with one of Scotty's discarded uniform shirts and an old boot that he sharpened his claws on. Keenser came by with scraps of meat once a day and sat with him for a while while he fixed things like tricorders and communicators. Pavel enjoyed the company; there were plenty of engineers around, going about their business, but none of them knew he was here and he didn't dare show himself for fear of capture. Spock was probably panicking about bringing him on board and would either want to submit him to rigorous testing or throw him straight out of an airlock for the trouble he'd caused.

But for all the come-and-go of the engineers under his command, Scotty hardly ever seemed to leave engineering. If he needed food, he'd disappear during gamma shift, when the ship was quietest, and come back laden with enough vacuum-packed sandwiches to last him another few days. He even curled up to sleep in his office; Pavel knew this because he'd snuck in there one day and watched Scotty grab a bottle of scotch, crawl under the desk, ball up his jacket as a pillow and drink himself to sleep.

Pavel had crept out from behind the neglected plant in the corner and curled up beside Scotty's head. He must have done some good, because he woke up to find Scotty stroking the soft fur between his ears and muttering an old Scottish lullaby. The next time Pavel woke up, though, Scotty was gone.

Watching him work was frustrating, because every time Scotty kicked something in anger, or threw his spanner across the room, or did something dangerous like rush in to fix a coolant leak with his bare hands, there was nothing Pavel could do to calm him down. If he was human, he would call out to him to be careful, or put a hand on his arm, or distract him with kisses until he forgot what he was angry about.

The Orion girl - Gaila, Pavel learned her name was - tried to talk to him. She was closer than any of his other subordinates to being his second in command, and Pavel got the feeling that they'd had an easy camaraderie, before this sudden depression. It was clear from the hint of desperation in her soft, lilting voice that she wanted him to cheer up as much as Pavel did; she tried bringing up warp theory, gossiping, asking about his feelings, even offering sex, but nothing produced a response. He never even swore at her or told her to go away, just nodded in response to anything she said and gave her orders when necessary.

After a week, Gaila seemed to give up on him. The Captain came down to see him and they talked in Scotty's office, but whatever tactics the Captain had employed to get him to open up must have been ineffective, because he emerged from Scotty's office looking lost, and Scotty didn't emerge at all.

It wasn't until Scotty nearly killed himself that he let Pavel in. They'd had a bit of a run-in with a Klingon ship, a few critical systems were damaged, and Scotty wouldn't rest until he'd fixed them himself. The console that was supposed to switch off a system he wanted to work on was non-responsive, so he climbed up seven metres of scaffolding to reach the manual release switch.

Pavel had been among those who rushed to his body when he fell. Not only had he been electrocuted when he tried to pull the switch, but there were several burns along his right arm, and his hipbone was broken as well as half the bones in his left leg. Pavel felt himself scooped up and carried along with the med team who arrived to take Scotty away in a stretcher, and he hoped if he was thrown out of an airlock, Q would at least be able to tell him whether Scotty was OK before sending him to hell, or leaving him in limbo for the rest of eternity.

*

Thanks to karma, or possibly thanks to the fact that it seemed to be Nurse Chapel who was carrying him, Pavel ended up in sickbay with Scotty's unconscious body and the rest of his entourage. McCoy appeared from out of nowhere with a gurney, shooed away the engineers who had drawn to the scene like butterflies and dragged Scotty away into surgery.

"And get that cat out of my sickbay!" he shouted just before the doors slid closed behind him.

Nurse Chapel handed Pavel over to the nearest engineer, who happened to be Gaila, and followed the doctor into the surgery room. Everyone stood around in silence for a while, before they all noticed, apparently simultaneously, that there was a baby animal in their midst.

"So that's where he got to," one of them cooed as Pavel was tickled under his chin.

"D'you think he was hiding out in engineering, all this time?"

"Maybe he likes the warmth and darkness."

"He was right there while I was reconfiguring life support and I had no idea!"

"Who's a clever boy? I wonder how he's survived for so long."

"D'you think someone was feeding him?"

As much as Pavel appreciated the attention, he had more important things on his mind right now, and being crowded was not helping his anxiety. He wriggled away from their hands and asked to be left alone, but Gaila just held him tighter, fearing that he might run off again.

"Leave him alone, he's scared, bless him!" she snapped, pulling him away from the crowd of red shirts. "No wonder he hid away the entire time he was in engineering."

Pavel snuggled into her cleavage and purred. Gaila could be his friend, he decided. Now if only he could persuade her to let him see Scotty.

"What're you going to do with him?" someone asked. "The Doc said to get him out of sickbay."

Gaila drew herself up and clutched Pavel tighter. "There are few things I'm scared of in this universe," she said, "And Leonard McCoy is not one of them."

Someone patted her on the back, there were a few muttered encouragements, and the rest of them filed out of sickbay under the glares of the assistant nurses. Gaila promised to call engineering with an update when she found out more about their chief engineer, and she sat down on a biobed to wait, with Pavel curled up on her lap.

"I hope he'll be OK," he purred. She stroked between his ears and all the way down his back, ending with a flick across his tail. Her nails, though neatly cut, were not polished or manicured as Pavel would have expected. Engineer, he reminded himself, and felt a little silly for assuming such a thing of her.

"I hope he'll be OK," she sighed, and Pavel re-assessed his earlier judgement. Gaila was definitely his friend.

Scotty spent four hours in surgery, and by the time McCoy emerged, hair sticking up in all directions and scowl twice as deadly as usual, Gaila had fallen asleep. Her stomach had turned out to be a nice place to nap, but Pavel had been keeping an ear open for the doctor's return, so he was ready to needle her awake when the time came.

"Ow!" she protested, blinking sleep out of her eyes. "Oh." She looked up to find McCoy standing over her, eyebrow raised. "Hello."

"Did I or did I not say 'get that cat out of my sickbay' four damn hours ago?" he asked.

"I think you did," Gaila said, sitting up and moving Pavel so that he was balanced on her knees. "And I think I disregarded it."

"Any particular reason?" McCoy asked, crossing his arms.

Gaila placed a protective hand on Pavel's head. "The kitty stays with me, Doctor," she said. "Now tell me whether Scotty's going to be OK."

McCoy looked like he was about to argue, but his shoulders sagged and he breathed out sharply through his nostrils, and Pavel knew that he'd be staying.

"He'll be fine," the doctor growled, running a hand through his hair. "Skin graft, a few bones re-set, few days recovery - he could do with a decent night's sleep for a change - and he'll be back to his pissy new self."

He sighed, something in his eyes hardening. "The rest, I can't fix. Man's got issues; he'll have to work through them on his own."

Gaila nodded, and McCoy dropped a hand onto her shoulder. "I know you've been tryin'," he said softly. "You've been doing a good job. Trust me, he'll get through."

"Thank you." Gaila looked up and smiled. McCoy lifted his hand from her shoulder and the scowl found its way back to his face.

"Now go get some rest, Lieutenant," he ordered. "And take that thing with you."

*

Pavel didn't mind being taken to Gaila's quarters too much, not now that he knew Scotty was going to be OK. She put him down on the bed and he averted his eyes as she undressed and pulled on a tiny pair of shorts and t-shirt, talking to him all the while in her soft, musical voice.

"I'm so glad he's all right," she said as she slid under the covers and patted the bed next to her, "But it's no good to him if he's going to keep being so reckless."

Pavel settled in next to her and purred his agreement.

"I've tried to get through to him, but he just acts like I'm not there." Gaila curled onto her side and stroked his ears when he pushed his head against her hand. "I can only hope he comes to his senses soon. I want the old Scotty back. He called me a pretty wee bairn and taught me how to swear in Gaelic."

"He taught me how to cheat at cards," Pavel remembered fondly. "And I showed him the proper way to drink vodka." The gentle massage of his ears was making him drowsy. "And... he called me Pasha in his lovely accent." He yawned, showing all of his teeth, and settled down with his nose tucked into his tail. "I wish he'd call me Pasha again," he said sleepily.

*

He woke the next morning to the sound of the shower and decided to hide under the bed until Gaila was fully dressed. It wasn't that he would have minded seeing her naked, it just didn't feel polite to do so without her informed consent.

He heard her emerge from the bathroom, and some rustling and zipping sounds that told him he was probably safe to emerge. When she got down on her hands and knees and started calling "kitty?", he came out from under the bed with a cheerful "good morning" meow.

"Oh, there you are," she said. "I didn't know what kitties eat, so I asked Nyota and she said you'd like this."

A bowl of tuna twice the size of his head was placed in front of him and Pavel could have died of happiness.

"Well, it looks like she was right," she said as he shoved his face in the bowl and made happy noises. "Eat up quick, I just got a message from Nurse Chapel and she says we're allowed to visit Scotty for a little while."

Pavel demolished about two third of the tuna before his concern for Scotty began to outweigh the overruling power of his stomach. Gaila put the bowl back in the replicator and picked him up, settling him back into his place of honour in her cleavage. He would have felt guilty for taking advantage of her like this if he hadn't known for a fact that she made a habit out of inviting people to cup her breasts and comment on how nice they were.

They were stopped twice on the way to sickbay so that Pavel could be fondled by passing crewmen, but Gaila always moved him on as quickly as possible; she was as anxious to visit Scotty as he was, after all.

"Gaila," Doctor McCoy said by way of greeting as they entered sickbay.

"Leonard," said Gaila as she breezed past him, heading for the recovery room. He made a grand, sweeping gesture as if welcoming royalty and turned back to his chart with a raised eyebrow and a look of amusement.

Nurse Chapel was sitting at Scotty's bedside when they entered. She stood and offered Gaila her chair, giving her a soft smile and saying "he hasn't said anything since he's woken up, but maybe you can get something out of him," before she left them to it.

Scotty looked up at them from the bed with a blank expression, the scowl that had graced his gentle features for so many weeks finally absent, but so was the kind smile and look of bemusement that Pavel wanted to see so much.

"I um, I was going to bring you some grapes, but then I remembered that you don't like them," Gaila said hesitantly. Scotty turned towards the sound of her voice, but said nothing. A look of sadness passed over Gaila's face and she started to stroke her thumbs over Pavel's back as if searching for comfort.

"I brought you a kitty..." she said, scooping Pavel up and holding him out to the bed. At first it looked like Scotty was just going to stare at him until Gaila's arms gave way from tiredness, but then there was a rustling movement under the covers and his hands emerged. He reached out slowly and took Pavel in his big, warm calloused hands, turning Pavel to face him and looking down at him with sad eyes.

"Hello," he said, his voice sounding rough as if he hadn't used it for days. His hands were patchy, half old, tanned skin and half new from the graft. A thumb came down to gently stroke under Pavel's chin, and he thought he saw the beginnings of a smile on the Scottish man's face.

"'m sorry I kicked ye," Scotty said, voice suddenly thick with emotion. To Pavel's surprise, he realised that Scotty was blinking back tears. "I havnae been meself lately."

"That's OK," Pavel told him. "It's my fault. If I hadn't gone and got myself killed-"

"Pasha," Scotty whispered, and for a moment Pavel thought that Scotty had recognised him, but then he realised that he was just naming the kitten. Still, he was touched that Scotty would name it after him; as he watched the man struggle with the tears that tried to spill from his eyes, it occurred to him that he hadn't realised how much Scotty cared for him until his death.

"So are you talking now?" Gaila asked, reaching over to stroke between Pavel's ears.

"Only to you and the cat," Scotty said grumpily. "Everyone else can go fuck themselves. A man doesn't move on in a day, ye know."

"It's a start," Gaila conceded, and Pavel purred his agreement. She stayed for a while longer, taking the chance for a proper conversation now that her friend was actually talking to her again. They discussed the improvements to the shields that Scotty had been working on, the recent fight with the Klingon bird of prey and several of Gaila's recent sexual conquests. The conversation turned to Pavel briefly, and he felt Scotty's hands tighten against his tiny body as he finally opened up about his feelings.

"I've been selfish, making everyone worry about me when they ought to be remembering him," he said quietly, looking down at the kitten he held in his lap. "He wasnae with us for long, but he was a damn fine navigator, and a wonderful friend."

Gaila patted his hand as his voice cracked at this final statement. He nodded her away and cleared his throat; Pavel thought that after all this time, maybe he needed to get all of this off his chest.

"He was too young," he said sadly. "Too young for an old sod like me, I dunno what he saw in me, but... too young to die. An' too good."

"Don't cry," Pavel mewled as a big, salty tear splashed onto his head. Scotty chuckled and wiped his eyes, probably assuming that Pavel was protesting about getting wet.

"Look at me," he said, sniffing loudly and wiping his eyes on a corner of the bedsheet. "What'd he think if he saw me now? Pathetic, I am."

"I would think that you're a good man," Pavel said, pawing at Scotty's stomach. Gaila said something to the same effect and found him a box of tissues.

Scotty took a deep, shuddering breath that nearly knocked Pavel off his paws. "I never even... he didn't even know..."

His hand found Pavel's back, and it calmed him somewhat. "He didn't even know that I loved him," he said miserably.

Pavel's soft meow wasn't anything more than a sound of sadness. He rubbed his head against Scotty's hand, wanting to offer comfort and reciprocation of feelings, but not knowing how to make him understand what was being given.

"Look at him, I've upset Pasha." Scotty scratched behind his ears apologetically. Gaila, having listened to him pour his heart out without interruption, patted him on the arm.

"I'm sure he loved you too," she said. "Wherever he is now - heaven or an ascended plane of existence or whatever humans believe in - I'm sure he's sad to see you like this and wants you to move on."

Scotty offered a small smile. "That's not yer way of comin' on to me, is it lass?" he asked, some of the twinkle returning to his eyes.

She giggled and slapped him on the arm. "You're a dirty old man, Mr Scott," she said, standing a planting a kiss on his cheek before she turned to leave. "Look after him for me, Pasha."

"Bye, Gaila," Pavel said as the doors closed behind her. Scotty picked him up and kissed the soft fur on top of his head, and he closed his eyes happily, drinking in the man's smell and the prickle of his stubble.

"I love you too, you know," he purred as they curled up together to sleep.

On to part 2