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Into the TARDIS | Back to the Future

Here's part two of the Epic Fic That Ate My Life; you know the drill.





Nurse Chapel turned up twice while Scotty was sleeping to check his vitals. She was careful not to wake him, but cats were light sleepers, so Pavel was awake to hear her soft words of concern as she noted down the readouts and checked his temperature the old fashioned way, with a hand placed against his forehead - something she'd picked up from McCoy.

The second time she came to check up on him, Pavel decided he'd had enough of sleeping. He'd been cooped up in one place or another for too long, and it was about time he did some exploring. Making sure that Scotty was still sound asleep and wouldn't be waking up and missing him any time soon, Pavel hopped off the bed and landed like a ninja before slinking out of the door like he owned the place.

McCoy was in the main sickbay, doing his rounds. He didn't notice when Pavel stalked through the room, changing his course to curve around the beds on the far side of the room so that he was less likely to be spotted, but when he jumped up onto a work surface to explore the shiny things that had been left lying around, something clattered to the ground and the game was up.

"Fucking animals!" McCoy growled as he stomped across sickbay, hands outstretched in a way that did not suggest cuddles and scritches. Pavel swore and leaped onto the nearest biobed, scrambling away from those hands in a desperate bid to escape, but he got his claws caught in the sheets and was helpless to stop McCoy from grabbing him by the scruff of the neck.

"I ought to throw you in the medical waste disposal," the doctor grumbled, "But for some reason, everyone else around here thinks the sun shines out of your ass."

"I'm cute and adorable!" Pavel protested. "Please don't kill me."

"But that doesn't mean I have to put up with you in my sickbay." McCoy carried him into his office and dropped him on his desk. "Now stay there until I can find someone to take you off my hands. If you try 'n escape again, I won't hesitate to sedate you."

"Stay here. Right." Pavel looked up at him with wide eyes. "Why are you so angry all the time?"

"Don't give me that look," McCoy muttered. He ran a hand through his hair, looking stressed as usual, and took a moment to close his eyes and sigh as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. There was a whistle from his terminal and Uhura's voice said:

"Message for you from Earth, Doctor. Unknown sender."

McCoy glanced at Pavel for a second as if wishing he wasn't there, then pushed a button on his terminal. "Put it through.”

Pavel spared all of three seconds to feel guilty about eavesdropping before creeping forward to sit by McCoy's elbow as the doctor slumped into his chair and turned the terminal towards him.

A woman's face appeared on the screen, beautiful in middle-age with neatly styled blonde hair and a look of intelligence in her eyes. Her expression seemed distant, as if she would have greeted him with emotion once but no longer had any to give.

"Leonard. I hope you're well," she said, sounding like she'd rehearsed this speech before turning on the recorder. "I saw on the news that your ship had a run-in with some Klingons. Joanna's worried about you, and I think it would help her sleep better if she heard from you."

McCoy's hand twitched on the desk in front of him, reaching out for something that wasn't there.

"Just to remind you, it's her birthday next month and she expects a present from you," the woman continued. "Please don't just send money this year, Leonard. You're missing out on enough of her childhood, you could at least put some thought into her birthday present." She sighed, and rushed through the next part as if in a hurry to finish a chore. "Joanna's doing well at school; she's getting straight A's in maths and science, and I haven't heard anything else about bullying, so I assume that's been put to a stop. I'm fine, the horses are fine, your child support payments are coming through as usual, so... call me if there's anything else. Bye."

The screen went blank and McCoy lifted his hand to his eyes, rubbing over his face as if he could scrub his features away and become someone new. "Fuck," he muttered.

"I didn't know you had a daughter," Pavel said, putting a paw on top of the doctor's hand, only to have it shaken away.

"Leave me alone, you flea-bitten pest."

Pavel was about to point out that he had been forbidden from leaving, when the door chimed and Nurse Chapel called out from the other side: "Doctor, we need you out here. Lt Mitchell's gone into shock again."

"No rest for the wicked," McCoy muttered, pushing himself away from his desk and striding out of his office with his business face on, not noticing that the kitten had slipped through the doors behind him before they had time to slide shut.

Pavel watched as he approached Lt Mitchell's bed, grabbed his chart and demanded "why wasn't he given his shot half an hour ago?" before grabbing the nearest hypospray and realising that it wasn't the one he wanted.

"It wasn't there with the others; I assumed he'd been given it," another doctor said. He received a sharp whack around the back of the head with Lt Mitchell's chart for his trouble.

"Why aren't you helping me look for it?" McCoy demanded, scrabbling through the hypos on the nearest surface and discarding them when he couldn't find the one he was looking for. "It was clearly marked with a green label - we have five minutes to get it in him before he stops breathing. Slow down with that thing!"

This last remark was directed at Nurse Chapel, who was using an air bag attached to a mask to keep the Lieutenant breathing while everyone else either panicked or helped search for the hypospray that would presumably save Lt Mitchell's life. Pavel realised that he was one of those doing the panicking, snapped out of it and started to prowl around the edges of the room, looking under cabinets and behind consoles.

"Two minutes and he's on a ventilator!" McCoy snapped, shoving his hand into a tray full of instruments on the off chance that the hypo might be in there, and pulling it away with a pained hiss. A nasty looking cut ran down the length of his palm, the blood already soaking into his sleeve.

Pavel had reached the edge of the surface he'd jumped up onto earlier when it occured to him that the clattering sound he'd heard earlier might have been the hypo they were looking for. He dodged the feet of half a dozen nurses, stuck his head under a cabinet and saw a glint of something green.

"One minute!"

The gap was too narrow to be reached by a human hand, but if he batted at it with an outstretched paw... the hypospray almost rolled away from him for a second, but he batted at it again and it rolled out from under the cabinet. He looked down at it.

"Hey, I found it!" he called out, but no-one was listening to the cries of a kitten when a man's life was in danger. It took him a couple of tries, but he managed to get his mouth around it, and he jumped up onto Lt Mitchell's biobed, startling Nurse Chapel into dropping the bag mask thing.

"What are you... oh!" She picked up the hypospray from where Pavel had dropped it on the bed and waved it in the air. "The kitten found it!"

"The fuck are you talking about?" McCoy snapped, snatching it from her and jabbing Mitchell in the neck. "Don't stop ventilating; he's not out of the woods yet." He shot Pavel a curious look before shouting, "All right, crisis over! Everyone get back to work!"

The room cleared faster than a plate of live worms at a Klingon banquet, leaving Pavel, McCoy and Nurse Chapel alone with Lt Mitchell, who seemed to be breathing fine and was quite happily sedated.

McCoy scowled at Pavel. "You're telling me the kitten found the hypospray and jumped up here to give it to you?" he asked the nurse in a low voice.

She nodded and shrugged helplessly. "Maybe it's some kind of intelligent alien kitten," she suggested.

Rolling his eyes, McCoy picked Pavel up, more gently this time, and carried him over to an empty bed. He found a medical scanner and ran it slowly up and down Pavel's body, frowning at the results that came up on the screen.

"Looks like a normal feline to me," he said. "No abnormal brain functions, everything inside normal parameters. Must've been a fluke."

Pavel had a suspicion that Q might've had something to do with the readings, but he kept quiet. If Spock got wind of this, he'd probably end up dissected, or put through a bunch of tests, or something else not-at-all-fun that would keep him from spending time with Scotty.

McCoy disinfected the cut on his hand, ran a dermal regenerator over it and wrapped a bandage around his palm with an air of distraction. Nurse Chapel watched him patiently as she cleared away the mess that had been made in the search for the hypo. Finally, he said "Do you suppose seven year old girls like kittens?"

"I should think so," she replied.

"Hmm," he mumbled. To Pavel's surprise, he reached out to scratch behind his ears for a second before retreating to his office to 'make some calls'.

"I think he likes you," Nurse Chapel said. Pavel wasn't sure that McCoy liked anyone save for maybe the Captain (and probably his daughter), but Nurse Chapel knew the doctor better than he did, so he took her word for it.

Deciding that he'd had enough excitement for one day, he padded back to the recovery room to curl up with Scotty again. The engineer had slept through everything and was snoring softly as Pavel settled down on his chest and let the rise and fall of his lungs lull him to sleep.

*

When Scotty was released from Sickbay a few days later, Pavel went with him, riding on his shoulder like a fluffy, golden parrot. They were greeted in engineering like heroes, Scotty still retaining some of his sullenness, but finding it difficult to sulk with a kitten sitting behind his left ear.

Now that he was no longer in hiding, Pavel took to exploring the engineering section while Scotty was at work. He found that if he sat on top of a console and looked inquisitive, people tended to sort-of unconsciously explain things to him as they went along. He learned how to re-route the power from various sections throughout the ship, how to take apart and put back together several instruments he used every day and took for granted, how to reconfigure a replicator so that everything tasted like broccoli, how to re-wire a broken conduit and how to wire a motion sensor to a laser projector so that it would provide an exciting chase for an inquisitive kitten.

That last one had been Gaila's idea.

Keenser seemed to have missed him more than Pavel would have expected. On the first day he was back, the funny little alien man tracked him down and fed him scraps of bacon while making a sort of humming noise that Pavel took to be singing. After that, he started turning up every so often, patting Pavel on the head, saying "good kitty" and disappearing up the nearest pipe before Pavel could even begin to purr.

Scotty was still avoiding most people, but at least now when he got a little heavy with the spanner, Pavel was there to wind his way around Scotty's feet and meow his distress. His calming influence seemed to be having an effect, because more often than not, the arm holding the spanner would relax and Scotty would look down at his feet with a soft expression and a muttered, "get out of it, ye silly wee thing."

He was still pulling longer than normal shifts, but he would go to his quarters to sleep rather than curling up in his office, and he'd take Pavel with him. Sometimes he cried himself to sleep, one arm hooked around the kitten's tiny body and the other fisted in his pillow, but he had Pavel's soft purrs to soothe him to sleep, and he was no longer drinking himself silly at the drop of a hat.

When he could get away with it, Scotty kept up the same routine of raiding the mess hall during the midnight shift and carrying off as many sandwiches as he could manage, but Pavel was getting better at figuring out when his food supply was low and alerting Gaila. She would then drag him off to the mess with Pavel in tow and make him sit down for a normal meal in the company of normal people. It was these times that Pavel enjoyed the most, because he got to see his crewmates outside of engineering. Kirk was there with stories of alien princesses and away missions gone wrong, and Spock would cut in every now and then to correct him on the more outrageous details. McCoy always had a complaint about one patient or another - usually Kirk - and Uhura gently teased them all, playing them against each other until everyone was laughing.

None of this seemed to have much of an effect on Scotty, who seemed as impassive as ever when faced with company, but they eventually began to wear him down. They were having lunch with Sulu and a Yeoman called Janice Rand, when Gaila suggested that Scotty start up his poker night again.

Pavel used the subsequent silence to steal a piece of chicken from Sulu's plate. All eyes were on Scotty, and he could tell that the man wasn't comfortable with it, but when he placed a paw on his hand and smiled at him in that special kitten way, the corner of Scotty's mouth twitched upwards a little.

"Are ye sure that's such a good idea?" he asked. "As I remember it, I could thrash the lot of ye in my sleep."

"Bring it on, old man," Sulu spoke up. "Or are you too scared to put your credits where your mouth is?"

Scotty sighed the sigh of the long-suffering. "Aye, I suppose it's about time I put you all in yer place," he said. "Same place as usual, 2100 tomorrow night. Tell the others. And don't expect this to become a regular occurrence."

"Does this mean you'll be starting up your still again?" Sulu asked.

"I wouldn't bloody count on it, ye cheeky bugger," Scotty scowled, crossing his arms over his chest.

*

Poker night took place in an alcove in the turbine sector which Scotty had appropriated to build his distillery. In any other ship, this would be a highly secret and illegal operation, but on the Enterprise the secrecy was slightly undermined by the fact that the Captain was Scotty's best customer, and was invited to poker night.

They settled in around a piece of fiberglass balanced on top of some crates, holding their cards close to their chests. They could just as easily have held poker night in the conference room, but it was the look of the thing that mattered. Pavel circled the table, checking out everyone's cards. Scotty currently had a pair, but Pavel wouldn't count on it staying that way between now and when he showed his hand. Kirk had bupkiss, but would probably bluff right through to the end anyway, as a matter of principle.

Gaila had two pairs, but hadn't quite grasped the concept of a poker face. Peoples' eyes tended to gravitate more to the region of her chest anyway, so Pavel didn't suppose it mattered. Sulu and McCoy had nothing, and folded as soon as the checked their cards. That left Lt Commander Roth, who was keeping his cards close to his chest. Pavel didn't know much about him apart from that he was department head of "high temperature and energetic materials technology". And he could play the piano, too.

Pavel made his full circle of the table and planted himself, sentry-like, between Scotty and Gaila. The Orion petted him absent-mindedly as she switched between flirting with Sulu, Kirk and McCoy. A betting war was escalating between Kirk and Roth, with Scotty and Gaila in the middle, matching every bet. The Captain and the explosives expert were locked together in a staring contest, vivid blue eyes meeting sparkling green as they tossed down credit chips and traded manic grins.

When Pavel thought the betting was perhaps getting out of hand, he stalked across the table and flicked his tail in Kirk's face, causing him to break eye contact.

"Yeah, yeah, all right," Kirk said, grinning sheepishly. "I call it. Show me what you got."

With a confident smirk, Roth spread out his royal flush in front of him and leaned back, flashing a pair of pointy white canines as his smile widened. Kirk snorted and threw his pair of sevens down with a little flourish in the Lt Commander's direction. Gaila laughed merrily and showed her two pairs, which had somehow turned into a full house, but still wasn't enough to beat Roth's lucky break.

All eyes turned to Scotty.

"Weeeell," he said, fondling his cards. "Isn't that shiny?"

"Damnit man, just show your hand already," McCoy said. "Let's see you cheat your way out of that."

With the tiniest flick of an eyebrow in the doctor's direction, Scotty flipped his cards over and spread them, laying out a royal flush in spades. Gaila burst into peals of laughter and Sulu joined her with a rich chuckle of disbelief.

Lt Commander Roth stared at Scotty for a second, before throwing his head back and laughing as if he'd never heard a joke before.

"He cheated!" Kirk protested as Scotty divided the winnings into two piles and Roth gathered up his half with a salute for the engineer.

"We still haven't figured out how he does it," he said. "For pulling that off, he deserves the credits."

"I thank ye," Scotty said as he shuffled the deck and passed it on to McCoy, who was still scowling, but more with amusement than anger. Pavel purred and nudged Scotty's hand with his nose. He was improving, a little bit every day. Soon he'd be back to his normal self again and Pavel could move on to heaven without worrying about him any more.

*

Confident that Scotty was slowly getting better, Pavel decided to turn his attention to his smaller engineer friend. Keenser was something of an enigma, especially given that he didn't talk much, but Pavel was pretty sure the alien was depressed about something. His beady black eyes had something of a sad glint to them, and he no longer clambered around engineering with as much enthusiasm as he'd used to.

Pavel found his nest one day when Keenser was late bringing him his scraps of meat. For the first time since he'd found himself in this kitten body, he used his nose to scent the little alien out, and found him curled up in a cargo space below the engine nacelles. He had bundled up a standard issue bed sheet and was stroking it and making sad little noises.

"What's the matter?" Pavel mewed softly, crawling into the small space and stretching out alongside his friend. "Are you hurt?"

Keenser put his hand on Pavel's back and closed his eyes. His sad noises turning into the same strange humming that he'd made before when he petted Pavel, and he seemed to calm down a little. Pavel allowed himself to be pulled into an awkward hug that ended up with his paws stretched out behind Keenser's head.

"You want a friend, don't you?" Pavel realised. "Don't worry. I'll find you a friend."

"Good kitty," Keenser said quietly. His humming and Pavel's purring almost matched in pitch, but didn't quite fit together. He waited until Keenser fell asleep and wriggled away from the softly snoring alien, determined to find some way to fix him.

*

"Hey there, Pasha," Scotty said as Pavel slinked past him.

"I'm on a mission," he meowed, rubbing his back against the outstretched arm that was offered to him.

"Well, isn't that nice," Scotty said absently. "Have fun with that, whatever that might be."

"Keenser's sad," Pavel told him. "I'm going to find him a friend."

"Good luck with it," Scotty said, patting him on the head and picking up the spanner that never left his side.

"See you later," Pavel said, making a beeline for Scotty's office.

"Bye then," Scotty mumbled with a mouth full of spare wires.

He had some trouble getting into Scotty's office, but he'd learned by now that if he scratched at a door and meowed pitifully, someone would take pity on him eventually and let him in.

"You're not going in there to pee on the plant again, are you?" Gaila asked as she let him in.

"I'm on a mission," he told her.

"You're very vocal today," she said. "I'll leave the motion sensor on so that you can get back out again, OK?"

"Thank you, Gaila." The door swooshed closed behind him and he took a second to adjust to the darkness of the office. He blinked, and it was as if someone had switched a light on; everything was a clear as day to his kitty eyes. He jumped up on the desk and located the bundle of fluff that he was looking for.

"I'm on a mission," he told the tribble. It cooed at him and he felt suddenly, inexplicably, happy. It didn't seem to mind when he picked it up with his mouth. Maybe tribbles didn't have nerve endings with which to feel the pain of sharp kitty teeth. They were something of a mystery, tribbles.

He made it back to Keenser with only one 'what the hell is Pasha doing with a tribble?' and deposited the lightly trilling ball of fur in the warm empty space that Keenser was curled around.

The tribble shook excitedly and began to trill at a lower key. Keenser's humming started up again, rising and falling until it matched the tribble's pitch perfectly and they were singing in unison.

"You're very strange," Pavel told his friend as he backed out of the nest and left them to it. He hoped that Scotty wouldn't miss the tribble too much. He had Pavel now, after all.

*

He didn't see Keenser for a while after that, apart from a few glimpses now and then of a small figure swinging in and out of scaffolding or scampering up some pipes to repair something. The food scraps that he'd used to bring Pavel were now regularly left in the corner where Pavel had hidden out when he'd first snuck into engineering. If they did happen to cross paths, Keenser stopped for a second to pat him on the head and say "good kitty" before going merrily on his way.

Who would've thought that something so simple as a tribble could have solved his loneliness?

It was only a week after this that Scotty finally caved into pressure and started up his distillery again. He wasn't exactly the jovial man that Pavel remembered from when he was human, but he was at least socialising again, a sign that he was finally trying to move on. He couldn't be expected to heal overnight; Pavel was just glad that his death was no longer holding his old friend back.

Now that the 'still was running again, engineering had more frequent visits from people outside the department. Sulu came to visit on the pretext of bringing a new kind of plant sap to be used as an experimental machine lubricant, and left carrying a couple of unlabelled glass bottles containing a different kind of vegetable product altogether. The Captain was down one evening at the end of Beta shift, to 'check on the engines' and Doctor McCoy seemed to have turned over a new leaf regarding house calls.

Uhura even turned up one day while Gaila was showing Pavel the best way to strip and clean a sonic screwdriver. They both looked up to the sound of her boots as she climbed down a ladder.

"Hi Nyota!" Gaila called with a little wave. "What brings you down to the bowels of the ship?"

Uhura smiled and came over to where they were sitting. Pavel turned so that he wasn't looking up her skirt. "I was, uh, wondering if I could have a chat with Mr Scott," she said, clasping her hands behind her back.

"The still's in turbine sector three," Gaila said, pointing. "Just talk to Ensign Frye, she's been put in charge of distribution."

Uhura laughed. "Actually, it's not about that. I was wondering, uh... well, you'll find out if he says it's OK."

Gaila looked up with interest, the sonic screwdriver forgotten. "He's in his office," she said, squinting as if she could figure out what her friend was up to by somehow reading her mind.

"Thanks," Uhura said with a bright smile. "See you later, Pasha."

They watched as she strolled off. "What's gotten into her?" Gaila asked. Pavel had been about to ask the same thing himself.

It turned out that Uhura had wanted to ask if she could take Pavel to the bridge for the day. Pavel hadn't realised it, but he'd been the source of much discussion throughout the entire ship; having a ship's cat was a novelty to the crew, and it hardly seemed fair that engineering got him all to themselves. Captain Kirk had eventually pulled rank and sent Uhura down to request the cat's presence on the bridge.

"He agreed, but reluctantly," Uhura said as she scooped Pavel up from where he was examining the screwdriver parts on the ground (read: batting at them and startling when some of them lit up). "I promised to bring him back at the end of Beta shift."

"Better make the most of him while you have him, then," Gaila said, waving at Pavel, who was once again comfortably nestled into a pair of breasts. He could really get used to this form of travel. "Bye, Pasha. Be good for the captain."

"Bye Gaila," he said. And then, to Uhura: "Is Sulu on duty? Who have you replaced me with at the conn? Will you let me press any buttons?"

"Hey, it's OK, we're just going to the bridge," she said soothingly, assuming that he was distressed. This was far from the truth; the last time Pavel had been on the bridge was before his death, and he was excited to be at the command centre once again.

"Can I sit in the Captain's chair?" he asked as they entered the turbolift.

*

"Hey there, it's our newest crewmember," Kirk said as the turbolift swished open and Uhura stepped out onto the bridge, Pavel peering excitedly over the top of her arms. "Welcome to the bridge, little guy."

"Captain," Spock spoke up. "I doubt that the feline can understand-"

"Hello, Commander," Pavel said as Uhura stopped at the science station and held him up to Spock's face level. Clearly, she was aware of Pavel's super ninja ability to stop the Vulcan mid-sentence. "Thank you for bringing me on board."

"Say hello to the kitten, Spock," Uhura said, her tone bordering on warning. He reached out hesitantly and pressed two fingers against Pavel's forehead. Pavel was startled somewhat when Uhura giggled.

"Greetings, Pasha," Spock said softly. Then, obviously feeling illogical, he straightened up and turned back to his station. "I trust none of you will allow the presence of the feline to interfere with your duties," he said stiffly.

Uhura smiled and pressed a hand against his shoulder before moving on. Pavel got a good view of the line of consoles that spanned the wall before he was being turned to face the Captain's chair.

"C'mon, it's my turn to hold him," Kirk said, reaching out with grabby hands. Pavel was lifted and placed in his arms, which turned out to be gentler than he'd expected. He didn't know whether Kirk had ever had pets of his own, but he certainly knew how to treat a small animal with care.

One big finger was scratching behind his ear now, unerringly finding that sweet spot that made Pavel go all melty. In his periphery, he saw that Sulu had turned away from the conn and was watching the Captain with amusement. Manning the nav. station - his old station, Pavel thought wistfully - was Lt Reilly, a man he'd met in passing but never really gotten to know.

"Look at his little ears," the Captain crooned. "They're so fuzzy and tiny."

"You certainly seem to have a way with him," Uhura said, her voice full of amusement.

The Captain smirked as if debating whether to make a pussy joke. He must have decided it was too obvious, because he settled for, "I have a way with all gorgeous creatures," which was still a little weak, in Pavel's opinion. Not to mention sexist.

He stuck his claws in. Kirk yelped. He was quickly passed back to a smug Uhura, who petted him indulgently.

"I guess you can't handle him as well as you thought," she said, carrying Pavel to her workstation. He turned to look back at an indignant Kirk and purred loudly for good measure.

Uhura started to show him all the controls on her station and what they did, but then she picked up a transmission, and Pavel was free to explore the bridge as he wanted. He circled the science stations for a few minutes, rubbed up against Spock's leg until he was patted on the head and pushed very firmly away, and circled back around to attack Kirk's shoelaces when he disrespectfully called Uhura by her first name.

With Kirk's bewildered glare bouncing off the back of his head, he stalked over to the conn and jumped up onto Sulu's station.

"Hey, buddy," his friend said, batting his paw away when he reached out to push a button. "No no no, we don't engage the primary thrusters when Hikaru is trying to plot a course."

"Oh, are those the thrusters?" Pavel said. "My bad."

"Cat's not getting in your way, is it?" Kirk asked. "Coz I can have him removed from the bridge..."

Several of the bridge crew snorted, and even Spock looked around with a raised eyebrow and a look that could almost be called amusement.

Sulu smirked. "Course laid in, Captain."

"Right, well." Kirk shifted in his seat. "Engage."

Pavel shot him an apologetic look as they entered warp. He didn't want to undermine the Captain's authority, but he was in an unique position to defend his crewmate's honour and, really, the man brought it upon himself. Pavel hadn't noticed how many times he hit on Lt Uhura during the course of a shift until now.

With their course set, a lull fell over the bridge as everyone went about their duties. Pavel ended up sprawled over Lt Riley's console, watching the familiar computer screen upside down as it projected data about the space they were passing through. Every so often, Riley would reach out and twitch his tail away from the screen, and it would inch its way back again of its own accord.

He was drifting off, in that drowsy place between sleep and almost-sleep, when they were wrenched out of warp and the red-alert klaxons sounded.

There was no indication that the space anomaly was there until they were right on its proverbial doorstep. That was one of the annoying features of space anomalies; they were anomalous and therefore had a tendency to appear without warning. The other annoying feature being the way that they interfered with the ship's magnetic field in a dangerous and life-threatening manner.

It was the shuttle accident all over again, and Pavel was not yet ready to die for a second time.

"Shields up!" the Captain shouted, grabbing at the arms of his chair as the ship rocked. "Status report!"

"Sensors indicate a large anomaly directly ahead," Spock said tensely, or at least as tensely as a Vulcan could manage. "The exact specifications are uncertain, but it appears to be interfering with the ship's systems."

He turned around in his chair. "Captain, I do not suggest raising shields. Considering the effect that this anomaly is having on the ship's magnetic field, I believe that raising the shields could-"

Pavel felt it coming and jumped away from the console, but Sulu did not possess his intuition. Sparks flew from his station as electricity coursed through his body, his face contorted with shock and pain until he fell back into his chair, over a split-second after it started.

"Hikaru!" he shouted, leaping back up onto the console and ignoring the warning lights that flashed all around him. Sulu was unconscious, but still alive. Beside him, Lt Riley's hands sped over the console as he tried to determine what they were up against.

"We're being pulled in!" someone shouted. The main lights went out, and then flashed back on and settled into the dim illumination of auxiliary power. Pavel smelled smoke and the foul tang of ammonium phosphate as the captain shouted orders to re-route power to engines and "get us the hell out of here!"

Riley scrambled to re-route power while attempting to alter their heading with the other hand. He was panicked, knew that he couldn't do it fast enough, so when Pavel jumped in and began to key in the course correction himself, the Lieutenant didn't try to stop him. The engines shuddered under the stress of the magnetic forces trying to pull them apart, but Pavel could feel the ship gather itself up beneath his paws, and with a dozen klaxons blaring from all over the bridge, they went into warp.

The ship seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as it limped on at warp three and quietly licked its wounds. Pavel spared a thought for Scotty and everyone else in engineering; had any of them been hurt? There were a lot of systems down there that could have exploded; plenty of opportunities for hull breaches and coolant leaks. Even if no one had been injured, engineering would have a lot of cleaning up to do.

The lights came back on and Pavel found that everyone was staring at him.

"Did the kitten just-" Kirk started to ask, and then everything went bright and shiny.

*

"Hello again, my little Russian genius."

He was human again, and floating in that big white nothingness. Strange... he'd become accustomed to four paws and a tail; long limbs and opposable thumbs didn't seem right, and despite the fact that he was suspended in mid-air, Pavel couldn't shake the idea that he was going to fall over at any second.

"You again," he said, almost startled to hear his words come out in Russian instead of a high-pitched mewl or steady purr. He frowned. "Did I die again?"

Q smiled indulgently. "Oh no, quite the opposite," he said, waving a hand dismissively. "You performed quite well, although I must admit there was a boring bit in the middle where all you did was follow that Scotsman around like a love-sick puppy." He grimaced, making it abundantly clear that he had no stomach for romance. Pavel thought that explained a lot about him.

"Still!" he exclaimed cheerfully, rubbing his hands together. "You got your focus back in the end, even managed to save the Enterprise into the bargain. Not bad for sewenteen years old, eh?"

"But..." Pavel was at a loss for words. After almost two months spent back on the Enterprise as a kitten, he'd almost forgotten about his quest. "But what about my five Good Deeds?" he asked. "There was Lt Mitchell in sickbay and the thing just now with the space anomaly, but I don't see how-"

"Of course you don't," Q interrupted. "You're only human, after all."

Pavel frowned at him again and crossed his arms over his chest. "Well, why don't you explain it to me, then?" he retorted.

Q sighed wearily. "If I must," he said, an impatient look crossing his face as if he was being forced to deal with a child. He started to tick off the good deeds on the fingers of one hand. "One: saving Lt Mitchell's life and inspiring Dr McCoy to buy his daughter a kitten for her birthday in the process."

"I don't see-"

"Yes, well I think we've established that," Q said. "Receiving that kitten not only restored Joanna McCoy's faith in her father but also gave her something with which to develop a nurturing nature. She grew up to become one of the most skilled Doctors that Starfleet will ever have seen."

Pavel was a little lost amongst all the tenses, but he nodded, and Q carried on:

"Two: reuniting Lt Keenser with his tribble. Don't interrupt!" he held out a hand before Pavel could open his mouth again. "The Lieutenant's species view the tribbles as fertility icons. It's a crude form of idolatry, but it has some foundation in science; the bond formed with the tribble, as you witnessed with Lt Keenser, is the basis for an asexual fertilisation process that will allow the Lieutenant to become pregnant."

He looked like he expected Pavel to interrupt again, but he just took this new revelation in his stride. He'd just spent two months as a kitten, after all.

"Your precious 'Scotty' confiscated the tribble while he was storming around engineering in a sulk," Q continued. "Lt Keenser had been pining for it ever since, and you reunited him with his one chance of happiness. Touching, isn't it?"

"Yes, actually," Pavel replied, a little put off by Q's sarcastic tone.

"Yes, well." Q waved that dismissive hand again. "Three: getting that Scottish oaf to snap out of the funk you put him in by getting yourself blown to pieces. Very inconsiderate of you, by the way. You have no idea how stressful it is to maintain an alternate universe. Constantly tweaking the little details to keep the whole thing from falling in on itself. I had a hell of a job getting that idiot Kirk into Starfleet in the first place, you know... and then making sure he ended up on Delta Vega; I almost missed and put him on one of Endor's moons."

Q suddenly realised that he'd been rambling and cleared his throat a little. "Forget I said that," he said. "Good Deed number four was your little women's rights movement on the bridge there. Very moving. I don't suppose it occurred to you that Nyota Uhura would become one of Starfleet's most celebrated female officers. Women will be following her example for a hundred years; it's thanks to her that they got rid of those miniskirts and women started wearing trousers again." He sighed. "Enjoy them while you can; the next generation won't have a bare leg in sight."

"And number five was diverting the ship's course and preventing it from falling into the anomaly," Pavel said, eager to get on with this and move on to heaven already. If those were really the last moments he'd have on the Enterprise then he didn't want to spend a moment longer with this impostor in Captain's stripes, a reminder of what he was leaving behind.

"So much more than that, naturally, but yes, that's the gist of it," Q said. "Q forbid that the Enterprise be destroyed before things really start to get interesting. We have plans for that ship."

"And what about me?" Pavel asked. Although his body felt perfectly normal, his mind ached; he was mentally exhausted by this whole ordeal and felt in need of a long holiday. If that meant the rest of eternity, then so be it.

"Ah, not so fast," Q replied. "Our plans for you aren't over yet. Why do you think we went through this whole farce in the first place?"

Pavel's forehead wrinkled. "To send me to heaven?"

Q laughed then, a wild, genuine laugh. "Oh, my dear boy, that little quest was just my little entertainment to pass the time. It gets boring, being omnipotent, and besides, the continuum wouldn't just let me bring you back to life without some form of trial."

"So... you turned me into a kitten for your own twisted amusement?" Pavel asked, just to be clear.

"Awww," Q made a face that he probably thought was cute. "You're so adorable when you're angry. How could I resist? It didn't make so much of a difference, anyway."

Feeling insulted and suddenly very insignificant, Pavel opened his mouth to give Q a piece of his mind. Before he could unleash his anger on the infuriating being, however, Q snapped his fingers and was gone.

The world coalesced around him, and this time there was two very obvious differences between this and his funeral. For one, everyone could see him.

Secondly, he seemed to be completely naked.

*

After the initial embarrassment of finding himself curled up naked in the Captain's chair with the entire bridge crew staring at him, Pavel had adjusted fairly easily to being a) most definitely alive and b) human shaped again. There had been a myriad of questions, but the Captain had waved everyone away and bundled him off to sickbay, where he had slept for two days straight.

When he woke up, the first thing he saw was Scotty drooling in a visitor's chair next to him. He wasn't particularly surprised to hear that he hadn't left Pavel's side for the entire time he'd been asleep. Pavel's throat was dry at first, but he managed to croak out Scotty's name.

"Hey there, lad," the older man said softly when he awoke and saw Pavel watching him. "It is really you, I s'pose?"

"It is really me," Pavel replied. He reached out for Scotty's hand, feeling small and fragile as his hand was encased in the bigger one. The grafted skin from his burns was barely distinguishable, now, from the rest.

"Gaila reckons that kitten we had living in engineering was you," Scotty told him. "It disappeared on the bridge in a beam of light, same as when you appeared a few minutes later. It had your name and everything. Well. I called it Pasha, after you."

Pavel smiled at him and squeezed the hand holding his safe. He wasn't quite ready to say 'I love you' in anything other than Kitten, but he knew that Scotty would get the gist.

"And what do you believe?" he asked.

"Oh, I dunno," Scotty sighed, squeezing back. "Seems a bit mad, doesn't it?"

He laughed weakly, as if not quite sure whether this was real. "I'm just glad to have you back."

"And I am glad to be back," Pavel agreed. "Although I was not really gone. It is a long story," he said in response to the curious look Scotty was giving him now. "But I will tell you, if you have time to listen."

"For you, Pasha. Always."

He explained everything as best he could, and Scotty didn't question him so Pavel supposed that he believed him. Doctor McCoy came by to grumble at him good-naturedly and promise that he didn't have to talk about what had happened if he didn't want to. Later, there were questions from the Captain and the Admiralty, and he gave them an abridged version of events, seeing no need to bring his transformation into a kitten and his Good Deeds quest into it. As far as they were concerned, he was kidnapped from the burning shuttle from a powerful alien race and held captive for two months. They put him on light duties for the foreseeable future.

His mother was not impressed by his cheating death, but then Mama was hardly ever impressed by anything. She enquired as to whether he was eating enough, berated him for not settling down and marrying a nice Jewish girl and then quite happily ran through a litany of everything that had happened while he'd been dead.

Things were settling in, back to normal, or as normal as they could be on the flagship of an interplanetary peacekeeping armada. Keenser gave birth to twins and named one after him. Pavel started visiting Gaila in engineering, where she would show him how to take things apart and put them back together. After a couple of weeks, he moved all of his belongings into Scotty's quarters.

And a lone Q watched over them and bemoaned the humanity of it all.

Comments

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secretsolitaire
Aug. 22nd, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
I adored this. Chekov as a kitten works unsurprisingly well, LOL. So many lovely details -- poor grieving Scotty, and Jim trying not to make the obvious "pussy" joke, and Bones being all gruff but not actually getting rid of the kitten, and Chekov having a one-kitten women's rights movement on the bridge...yes. Enjoyed muchly. :-)
dirty_smudge
Aug. 22nd, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)
Bones was sort of modelled on my Dad, who (after a kitten strolled into our house one day) told us it couldn't stay and then was seen bending down, petting in and saying "hewwo".
chris_king_2005
Aug. 22nd, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)
Chekov and Kitten!power just works for me.

devo79
Aug. 22nd, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
I'm not a cat person but damn I still loved this so much!
You seem to nail life seen from a kitten's eyes perfectly.
storm_of_roses
Aug. 22nd, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
SOINIC SCREWDRIVER FTW.

Great story! I am amused.
devo79
Aug. 24th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
*runs away screaming*
petulant_min
Aug. 29th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Awww!!
so sweet and funny.
lol at the replicater and the general Qness of it all :)
dirty_smudge
Aug. 29th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
I am fond of general Qness. Thanks for reading ^___^
ashlan
Sep. 12th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
Dude. crack with content. awesome. Your portrayal of depressed Scotty made me cry. :( And I'm so glad you included Gaila and Nurse Chapel - the ship just seems so much more alive when it's more than just The Bridge Crew. :) Rock on.
dirty_smudge
Sep. 14th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't do pointless crack ;)

I agree about the ship seeming more alive - TOS had a lot of extras just randomly walking around the ship, and it made the ship seem like more of a community rather than just the Kirk, Spock and McCoy show. Then there's the fact that Gaila and Chapel are The Awesome ^___^
little_tristan
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who looked at Chekov and saw kitten. What a great story!

~der Tanzer
not_sally
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
So awesome! Loved this fic and the utter adorableness of it all.
katmarajade
Feb. 21st, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
This is so damn fun! Wow, I'm grinning like so hard right now! I love that kitty cat!Pasha's favorite mode of transport is breasts, I love Gaila, I love the distillery and poker nights, I love kitty!Pasha laying the course for them, and I love this line the most: I had a hell of a job getting that idiot Kirk into Starfleet in the first place, you know... and then making sure he ended up on Delta Vega; I almost missed and put him on one of Endor's moons." I had to stop reading for a few minutes because I was laughing SO HARD. Endor indeed. Loved this!!
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