Stardate 2260.126, 0530 hours, Deck 5, Scotty’s Quarters
The alarm buzzed. Len groaned and rolled over to hit it. She rolled back into her spot and curled around Scotty. He was nice and warm and she just didn’t want to get out of bed. She lay there for a few seconds, then sighed and flipped back the blanket. She had to get up. The whole point of getting up at 0500 was so she could avoid anyone in the hallways as she snuck back to her quarters.
Len kissed his shoulder and sat up. She missed sleeping here. It had been two weeks since she’d moved back into her assigned quarters, and this was only the third time she’d spent the night since then. She hated this. She couldn’t wait until they were safely heading into deep space and could become “official”. Not that most of Engineering and a significant portion of the rest of the crew didn’t already have suspicions. But all they needed was some bureaucrats in Starfleet to get wrapped up in their precious Rules and Regulations, and she could find herself re-assigned to another ship and lose Scotty for the next five years. Getting up at 0530 wasn’t so bad compared to that.
Len got out of bed, carefully adjusting the blanket so she wouldn’t wake Scotty. She retrieved her clothes—yesterday’s uniform—from the pile on the floor and got dressed.
“Yer not leaving without a kiss, are ye?”
Len smiled and went over to Scotty’s side of the bed. She leaned down to kiss him and he slid his hand up her leg to caress her. She missed having this every morning, so much. “Love you,” she said mumbled against his mouth.
“Love ya, sweetheart,” he said sleepily.
He gave her a slight pinch and she giggled and skipped away. “I’ll see you in about an hour.” She blew him another kiss and went out into the living room and to the door. A quick check of the corridor—empty—and she crossed the hall to the turbolift. That was one thing in their favor: the lift was right across from his door.
When she entered her quarters, she nearly tripped on a box when she went inside. Her dads had sent a bunch of her stuff a few days ago. They themselves would be here in two days to say goodbye to her, along with her Aunt Donna.
Len showered and put on a new uniform, then went to empty a few boxes while she waited for Alpha shift to start. She slid the clarinet case under the chair next to her bed: she was going to have to pull it out at some point and make sure it was still in playable condition. She hadn’t touched it in seven years and she would probably be lucky to get a squawk out of it at the audition for the music group next month.
The first box was full of yarn and needles. She hadn’t knit anything since before graduate school, but that at least didn’t require an audition to take up again. She moved the balls of wool into a drawer under her bed along with the needles. She had no idea if she could even get more yarn from the replicator, so her hobby would be short lived once she ran out of yarn.
The next box was full of framed replacements of photos she’d lost in San Francisco. Mostly family photos, a few with Chekov as well. At the bottom was one that was more recent, a photo that Greg had insisted on taking during her dads’ visit for her birthday. It was on the boardwalk of the Taylor Institute, the bay behind them, and she and Scotty had an arm around each other. They were both smiling at the camera and it made her stomach flutter at how happy they looked. Sadly, it would have to stay in a drawer until they were ‘official’.
Len sighed and put the photo of Scotty and herself into a drawer. This was really, really, really going to suck for the next month or so.
0930 ours, Deck 19, Engineering
Len was halfway through creating the crew schedule for the first week of the mission when her comm beeped. “This is Lieutenant Amell.”
“Hello, Lieutenant. This is Lieutenant Canningham in supply. I would like to request someone to come down and check out a replicator. It seems to be misbehaving.”
“Sure, Lieutenant. Someone will be down in a few.” She closed the comm and looked at today’s schedule. Most of maintenance had been working overtime to finish the last minute upgrades. There was no point in dragging someone away from that for a simple replicator malfunction. She could handle that herself and besides, she needed a break from schedules.
She grabbed her tricorder and a small toolkit, then headed out of the office and down the stairs, passing Keenser on the way. “Could you tell Scotty I’ve gone down to supply?” Keenser gave her a quick nod and Len continued on to the turbolift. “Deck 22.”
Deck 22 mostly consisted of tanks of goo—organic and inorganic—and industrial size replicators. The quartermaster’s office was around the corner from the lift. A bored looking ensign was sitting at the requisitions desk.
“I”m looking for Lieutenant Canningham,” Len said.
The ensign nodded his head to the side. “She’s in her office, Lieutenant.”
Len went to the half-open door further along the corridor. Inside was a stark contrast to the industrial setting of the rest of the deck. There were fabrics everywhere in the office: stacked on shelves, draped over racks, swatches stuck all over the walls. In the center of it was a beautiful woman. Her lithe form looked out of place in the severe red uniform dress. Snow white hair curled over her shoulders and down her back, and it flowed around the woman as she gracefully moved around the room pinning more swatches to the walls.
Len knocked on the door. “Lieutenant Canningham?”
The woman swirled around to look at her, her hair swirling with her, and Len imagined she’d look like a fairy if she wore some of the silky fabrics in her room.
Len blinked as she looked at the woman’s face. She…wasn’t human, but Len couldn’t quite put her finger on why. “I’m Lieutenant Amell, from Engineering.” She held up toolkit and tricorder. “To fix your replicator.”
“Ah, thank you, Lieutenant!” The woman hurried past her and Len followed, out into the corridor and further back to where there was a bank of massive inorganic replicators. She led Len to the third one in the row. “This one isn’t working.”
Len waved her tricorder over it. There was no power detected in the machine at all. She used a magnetic screwdriver to open the control panel and expose the machines innards. The problem was obvious: a connector wasn’t seated correctly. She snapped the plug into place and ran her tricorder again. Success!
Len closed and sealed the panel, then rebooted the replicator. She set it to replicate a d20 die—it was the traditional thing engineers selected for a replicator test, but Len had no idea why. A red die appeared in the replicator. Len reversed it to recycle and the die dematerialized.
“It was just a loose wire,” she said. “The maintenance crews have been in a rush, so someone must have missed it.” She’d let Chief Orci, the head of maintenance, know about it. They really didn’t need sloppiness with only three days left before launch.
“Thank you so much, Lieutenant,” Canningham said. “I didn’t expect you to come down here yourself for such a little problem.”
Len smiled. “I needed a break from scheduling.” She remembered her thoughts from this morning and waved towards the replicator. “Can you replicate yarn? For knitting?”
“Oh, you knit!” Lt. Canningham broke into a huge smile. “I don’t think there is any yarn programmed in, but I can try modifying a few rope programs to see what I can get.” She turned to return to her office and Len followed.
“Thank you, Lieutenant. And there’s no rush,” Len said. “I have enough to last me a few months.”
“I would love to see your work,” the lieutenant said as they entered her office. “And please, call me Gwaloth.”
Len smiled. “I’m Len. And I really don’t do anything more exciting that socks.”
“Socks are important in this form.” Gwaloth smiled, a little too wide. “Oh, I’m a Wraith, by the way. I know humans are not too familiar with my people, as we are not yet officially in the Federation. But I married a human, so here I am!”
Len knew Wraiths were shapeshifters and their default form was a sort of giant slug. Which was hard to believe for the beautiful woman in front of her. “How long have you been married?”
“Ten years, now,” she said. “We met when a Federation delegation visited my homeworld. He intrigued me, because he instantly accepted me for who I was.”
Len smiled and thought of how Scotty had supported her even when she a mess from dealing with the trauma of San Francisco. “I know what that’s like.”
“Oh?” Gwaloth cocked her head to the side. “Yes, you do look like a woman in love. Will he be on the mission?”
“Yes,” Len said. “Except we can’t really say anything about it yet. There are…complications. And until we can work those out, we have to keep it a secret.”
“I see,” Gwaloth said.
Len’s comm beeped. “Lieutenant Amell.”
“Len, where are ya lass?” Scotty’s voice burst over her comm.
“Down in supply. Didn’t Keenser tell you?”
“Haven’t seen him. He’s probably up in the pipes again.”
Len giggled. “I’ll be back to the office in a few. Was there something you needed?”
“Well…no. Just wondering where ya were. I’ll see ya soon.” He cut the comm.
Len smiled and slipped her comm back in her pocket. She looked up and sucked in her breath. Gwaloth was grinning at her.
“Don’t worry, Len,” the Wraith said. “I won’t tell.”
1145 hours, Deck 6, Mess Hall
Gwaloth waved to her across the mess hall. Len abandoned the line to the replicator and went to greet her new friend. The Wraith was sharing her table with a dark-haired human woman dressed in a blue uniform.
“I was going to contact you after lunch,” Gwaloth said. “I managed to replicate some yarn for you, a wool and a light cotton. For your socks.”
“Oh, thank you.” Len hadn’t expected Gwaloth to work on it immediately.
“It just fascinated me so much, I had to start right away,” Gwaloth said. “I will keep experimenting to get other fibers, perhaps a silk next.” She glanced at the woman next to her. “Oh, this is Carolyn Paul. She crochets, so she’s also interested in the yarn. Carolyn, this is Len Amell. She is the Assistant Chief Engineer.”
“Nice to meet you, Len,” the woman said with a smile. “I’m a teacher. Creative writing.”
“Nice to meet you, Carolyn,” Len replied. She hadn’t really thought about that, but they would need teachers on this mission if there were families.
“We should start a group. For knitting and sewing,” Gwaloth said. “I think it would be quite enjoyable.”
“Sounds like fun,” Len said. She wasn’t sure she’d make it into the music group, and she really should make more friends other than Scotty, Keenser, and Chekov. She could ask Emily and Carol if they were interested, too.
“Will you join us for lunch?” Carolyn asked.
“Oh, thanks, but I can’t,” Len said. “I just came up to grab something for me and Commander Scott.”
Gwaloth’s mouth twitched into a knowing smile. “At least for a cup of tea?”
“Sure,” Len said. She supposed she could take some time to chat. Scotty was engrossed in making some adjustments to the warp core. He wouldn’t even remember it was lunch time unless she brought it to him.
She went back to stand in line for a replicator and got herself a peppermint tea, then rejoined Gwaloth and Carolyn. She sat down at the table.
“Should we meet once a week, or once a month?” Gwaloth asked.
“Once a month, I think,” Len said. “I have…other responsibilities…” Not only work on the warp drive simulator, but free time with Scotty was now precious. “I’m also trying out for the music group next month.”
“I am, too,” Carolyn said. “What do you play?”
“Clarinet,” Len said. “Or I can play bass or contrabass if they need it.”
“I play flute,” Carolyn said. “I probably don’t have much of a chance, but I figured, why not?”
“Same here,” Len said.
There was suddenly a loud clatter, someone dropping a tray. Len jumped in surprise, but it didn’t affect her like it would have a year ago. Carolyn, on the other hand, instantly curled in on herself. She was pale and her eyes were wide with fear. Len knew that feeling too well. She wondered if Carolyn’s fear had come Admiral Marcus, too.
“It’s okay,” Gwaloth said soothingly to her friend. “Just a tray.”
Carolyn nodded and sat back up. “Sorry,” she said to Len. “I, uh, was in a car accident not too long ago. Loud noises…”
“You don’t have to explain,” Len said. “I was in therapy for eight months after San Francisco. My apartment was destroyed.”
She shared a look with Carolyn, empathy between people who had to deal with too much shit in their lives.
“How about in the evening, the first Wednesday of the month?” Carolyn said.
Len and Gwaloth both nodded in agreement. Len finished her tea and checked her comm. It was 1230 already. “Sorry, I need to go. It’s getting late, and Scotty gets cranky if he doesn’t eat the lunch I have to remind him to eat.”
Gwaloth and Carolyn both giggled. “Goodbye, Len,” Gwaloth said.
“See you later, Len,” Carolyn added.
Len waved to them and went back to stand in line at the replicators.
1230 hours, Deck 19, Engineering
“I’ve joined a knitting group.”
Scotty paused, fork halfway to his mouth. “A what?”
“Knitting,” Len said. She made the motion with her hands, of needles and yarn. “I met Gwaloth—Lieutenant Canningham, the Quartermaster—today. She figured out how to replicate yarn for me. And her friend Carolyn Paul—she’s one of the teachers—crochets. So we’re going to get together and…knit and crochet.”
“Will ya have time for that? Ya have yer research, and that music group…”
Scotty looked a little…worried. “It’s only once a month.” Len smiled at him. “Don’t worry, I’ll still have plenty of time to spend with you.”
“I’m not worried,” Scotty protested.
Uh-huh. “You should do something,” Len said. “We can’t spend every night reading technical journals together. What did you do before you met me?”
“I…read technical journals.”
“Right.” Len sighed. She was going to feel guilty about going out if he was sitting in his quarters by himself. She understood wanting to spend time alone, she had done it all the time before they started seeing each other. But if he was going to mope about her being off with friends on a regular basis, he needed to find something else to occupy him. “You could spend time with Pasha?” Chekov was essentially her other little brother. It would be good for them to…bond. Or something. “Maybe he could help you with some projects in engineering?”
Scotty snorted. “No. He’ll break my ship again.”
Len rolled her eyes. Scotty just wasn’t going to let that go. “Fine. Then maybe—?”
“Ya don’t have to find things for me to do, Len.” Scotty sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. “I’m quite capable of amusing myself while yer off with yer girlfriends. In fact, I’ll be busy this evening and you will have to find something else to do.”
“Oh?” That was surprising. Len thought he would have wanted to spend his last night of real free time with her. What could he be doing? Without her.
“Now who’s lookin’ worried,” Scotty said with a smirk.
“I’m not worried,” she shot back. Damn it.
The smile fled from Scotty’s face. “I’ll be visitin’ Dr. McCoy this evening with a bottle of whisky,” Scotty said. “He’s saying good-bye to Jo this afternoon.”
“Oh.” She grimaced. “Poor guy.”
Scotty nodded. “Yer welcome to wait in my quarters though. I won’t be too late.” The smirk came back. “You can read some technical journals to pass the time.”