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As most of the simulated daylight filtered away, so, too, did the most of the party guests.

Scotty still wasn't quite sure who had been the first to sneak out, but he suspected it was either the Hulus, or Chekov. He'd never know for sure, however, because he'd found Jaylah drinking by herself . . . and despite the wide array of empty alcoholic drinks—she'd apparently taken it upon herself to try everything—she didn't seem the least bit drunk.

He'd tried not to beam at her with pride, but, frankly, she drank almost as well as a Scott.

Perhaps that was what had motivated him to share his personal supply with her. She could handle the light-weight drinks, so surely she could handle something stronger—namely, his scotch?

She'd knocked back the scotch with all the ardor of one of his mates back home, and it had taken everything he had not to touch her. He thanked god that she hadn't seemed to notice.

It was then, however, that he was finally forced to admit to himself that what he'd written off as healthy respect back on Krall's planet was something more. She understood him in ways most women or men couldn't, sure, but it was more than that. He'd thoroughly enjoyed teaching her about his technology, even though her music hurt his head, and interrupted his thinking.

She frustrated him, she drove him crazy, and she was so damned beautiful that his heart hurt every time he looked at her.

And now, into the wee hours of the morn, he had two empty flasks and a sleeping woman in his lap, and he didn't know what he was supposed to do. Jaylah had sprawled across the couch and his lap as if she owned both.

Perhaps she did.

He swallowed. She's bleeding drunk, he reminded himself, shifting as much as he dared to free his more personal self from her. She's bleeding drunk, and you're a bloody fool. It’s a sair ficht for half a loaf.

And it had been a hard fight, and he had only gotten half of what he'd wanted. She was safe, and the captain had made sure she'd have a home with Star Fleet. That was all Scotty had the right to ask for, anyway.

He thought about allowing her to sleep a wee bit longer, but there was no way she could be comfortable. Instead, he'd do the damned honorable thing and take her to her quarters before toddling off to bed himself—alone.

You're too old for her, mate, he told himself firmly, trying to shift her upright enough that he could stand. You're like an older brother to her; you cannae be more.

So, he'd play the part of an older brother, and help her to her new quarters before he toddled off to his own room. And if she did seek him out again after the party, he'd remind himself that she loved engines and technology, same as he did, and force himself to act the role of a mentor until the new ship was finished, or until she shipped off to Star Fleet Academy.

He'd wouldn't act on the feelings coursing through him. Not even tonight, when she'd rested so beautifully in his arms.

"Do you require assistance?" Spock asked as Scotty stumbled to his feet a moment later.

"I'm not drunk," he grumbled, rubbing the feeling back into his legs. He didn't have to look up to know that Spock had raised a brow, but as Scotty straightened, he saw the look in Nyota's eyes.

Not at him, but at Spock.

"Off ye go." Scotty waved a hand towards both Spock and his lieutenant. "We're both fine."

Spock looked like he might protest, but Nyota wrapped her arm around his waist and dragged him off before he could speak.

Scotty sighed with relief, but then he caught the captain's smirk. "Oh, off with ye!" he snapped, reaching down to gently pull Jaylah into his arms. "I'm putting her to bed. To sleep!" he added, disgruntled, as the captain's smirk grew. "Good night, captain."

He began walking towards the door, doing his best to ignore how Jaylah curled against him in his arms. Somehow, in her sleep, she'd wrapped her arms around his neck, and several of her fingers had begun stroking the back of his neck in an absent, repetitive motion.

"Have a good morning, Scotty," the captain replied, grinning as he pat Scotty's shoulder.

Scotty cursed to himself as he left, knowing full well what the captain had seen, but refusing to give in.

The journey to Jaylah's room was shorter than he'd have liked, and he found himself hovering just outside her door. One more minute, that was all he'd ask for, and then he'd do everything right and damned proper. He just wanted one more minute to feel her, to watch her sleep, because he had the feeling that she hadn't properly slept since her family had died.

She trusted him enough to sleep besides him, and that trust was like a punch to his gut.

He swallowed as he fumbled to open her door. As he made his way inside her sparse quarters, he heard her whisper, "Montgomery Scotty?"

Her voice was hoarse from sleep, but it went to his core all the same, and he shuddered. "Go back to sleep," he told her, feeling her begin to stir in his arms. "You're home now."

"I am not sleeping," she informed him, her eyes suddenly opening to meet his own. "We are alone now."

"Aye," he agreed reluctantly, "but I cannae stay."

He glanced away, searching the room until he found the bed. Without a word, he walked over to it, and gently set her down. Her arms, however, refused to unwind themselves from around his neck.

"Jaylah," he began, but she interrupted him by the simple motion of tugging her fingers in his hair.

"No." She pushed herself off the bed, and with a fluid move, she rolled them both until she had him pinned to her bed. "You will not leave me, Montgomery Scotty."

Scotty swallowed, but the sudden lump refused to leave his throat. "Aye," he agreed after another moment, because he could refuse her nothing, and he understood why she wouldn't want to sleep alone in an unfamiliar place. "I'll stay on the couch 'til you fall asleep."

Jaylah lowered herself until she was hovering inches from his lips. Unable to bear the temptation, Scotty licked his lips and turned his head to the side.

"I said I won't leave," he reminded her, hoping she'd move. She was practically pressed against him, and he wasn't sure how much longer he could force himself not to move. His fists clenched and released, and then grabbed hold of the sheets as he fought to stay perfectly still.

"I do not want to sleep." She shifted above him, just enough that if she moved any lower now, he wouldn't be able to hide from her how he felt.

His hands moved to her hips to hold her in place. "You will," he told her, trying to gently coax her off with his hands. She refused, however, to let him lift her. "You've had plenty to drink tonight. I don't envy you the headache you'll have tomorrow."

"I am not drunkthat is what you said earlier," she reminded him, propping her hands on his chest. "I am also not drunk. I have not slept, either, Montgomery Scotty."

He heaved a sigh as he met her stubborn eyes once more. "Aye, you slept the last hour away."

She smirked, and it damn near took his breath away. "No." She began fiddling with the collar of his shirt with both hands, and this time, he forgot to breathe. "I lied."

He gaped as he processed her meaning. "What do you mean you bloody lied? You sprawled all over me and practically snored!"

Jaylah sniffed. "I do not snore." She reprimanded him by tugging him up enough by his collar that their lips touched, for just a moment. When he tried to move away, he found that her grip would not allow him.


She kissed him.

It was by no means an experienced kiss. At first, the pressure was too rough, and her teeth knocked into his. When he pulled back in surprise, however, Jaylah followed him down onto the bed, and gave him a second kiss that was much different than her first. It was still awkward, as though she couldn't quite figure out whose lips should go where, but it was more gentle than her first. After a few moments, she seemed to discover a rolling press motion she liked, because she began to hum against his lips.

And despite the fact that she was clearly humming a metal song, it only took another moment for him to cave and kiss her back. One hand left her hip to cup her face, to angle her for a better kiss, but she didn't let him take charge of the kiss for long.

She suddenly licked his lip, twisting her body until her hips fell in line with his. As she moved against him, he moaned and rocked back against her, his body slowly thrumming in need.

At his moan, her tongue slipped in with his, and he tasted alcoholscotch, bourbon, and even whiskey, and it was enough to remind him of why he shouldn't be doing this with her.

He abruptly broke the kiss, turning his head away so she couldn't trick him into another, even though he shook with the need to kiss her again, on her lips, along those delightful markings of hers, and anywhere else he could reach

"No," he told her softly, more full of regret than he ever recalled being in his entire life.

She froze and released him. "You do not want this?"

Her voice was so bloody hesitant that it just about killed him, and he sought to explain before he hurt her feelings. "Alcohol impairs judgment," he explained, but she refused to meet his eyes. "I donna want you to do anything you'll regret later."

She was silent for so long that he opened his mouth to babble out a more elaborate explanation, terrified that he'd somehow managed to undo the easy friendship that had developed between them.

"This alcohol, how long does it impair?" she asked, rolling off of him.

He paused to think about the answer. "A few hours; maybe a little more depending on how much we drank." He used the word we, hoping to soften the blow. He figured that once she woke up with a clear head, she'd feel a wee bit silly for kissing him, but in the meantime, he didn't want to make things worse.

"So we sleep now, Montgomery Scotty," she told him firmly. "In a few hours, we will wake, and see how impaired your judgment still is."

He gaped at her as she suddenly curled herself around him. "Me?" He coughed as her hand came dangerously close to part of him that still hadn't fully settled back down. "I'm not bloody impaired!"

"Sleep, Montgomery Scotty," she breathed against his neck. Her breath was warm, and he barely kept himself still as she tucked her head into his shoulder and neck.

He glanced down at her, once again sprawled over him. Her right hand rested on the band of his pants, and her leg had wrapped itself around his knee to dangle off the edge of the bed with his own feet.

"You want to sleep like this?" he asked, incredulous. "You cannae be comfortable."

She couldn't be, because he scarcely was. If she insisted on sleeping, he'd get absolutely no sleep himself, because all he could think about right then was if her lips moved just a wee bit more, she'd reach the most sensitive part of his neckand if her hand shifted lower, a centimeter at most, she'd find out that alcohol had nothing to do with why he'd kissed her.

She nipped the bare skin of his neck, right where his neck met his shoulder, and he barely stifled his gasp.

"Sleep," she commanded, but her voice had a sleepy quality to it that it'd lacked earlier. He realized she was falling asleep in his armsagainand he couldn't bring himself to get up and move, even though the voice in his head was screaming that now was his chance.

Instead, he closed his own eyes. Soon, he'd get up and do the honorable thing. For now, his arms wrapped themselves around her, and without quite knowing when it happened, he fell asleep himself.