Chekov thumped his head against the rocky outcrop.
"Laddie. You keep doin' that and you won't be able to solve all those problems for Mister Spock." Scotty's lilting voice wafted up to him from below. The Chief Engineer was panting slightly as he mounted the rocky cliff that led up to the plateau where Chekov sat.
Chekov bit his lip in frustration. The bruise on his neck throbbed, reminding him of the previous night. He thumped his head against the rock. It didn't help. Nothing could banish the feelings of suffocation which wrapped themselves around his chest in a duranium vice.
"Mister Scott. What are you doing up here? I thought you were trying to work on the shuttle craft." Chekov refused to meet the warm eyes that peered at him with concern.
"Well, I canna make the thing go without a complete overhaul. We're stuck here until the Enterprise comes and picks us up." Scotty sat down with a grunt. "Phew. That was a quite a climb. I'm not as young as I used to be."
Chekov huffed. "You're not old, sir!" he protested. Scotty brushed his hands off on his trousers.
"I'm no spring chicken, lad. My days of flittin' about mountain sides are numbered." He looked up, and reached a gentle hand to lightly probe the dark purple bruise on the side of Chekov's neck. "I'm no spring chicken indeed. But I know that wasn't from the crash."
Chekov pulled the collar of his shirt up, feeling the blood rush to his face.
"Pavel." The softness of Scotty's voice drew Chekov like a moth to a flame. "I know what's happenin' between yea and the captain."
Chekov felt like he had been punched in his stomach. "Wha...what things?" He cursed the thickness of his accent as panic flooded him.
"That you and the captain have been spending time together. And not doing computer equations either." Scotty took a deep breath. "I know what happened on Tarlus Five. It shouldn't have happened. He shouldn't have sent you."
"It was his decision. He's the captain," Chekov protested.
"A captain who should know better than to send a navigator into a situation for a security guard. It was the wrong decision and you wouldn't have gotten hurt." Scotty sighed as Chekov flinched. "Are you still seeing the doc?"
Chekov studiously examined his fingers. Dirt had gotten under the nails and he picked at them. "Yes. He thinks we'll be ready to stop the counselling though."
"Does the captain know?"
"No!" Chekov grabbed Scotty's arm in a fierce grip. "You can't tell him! You can't!" When he realized that he was shouting at a superior officer, he quickly let go and ducked his head.
"Chekov. You haven't told him everything have you?"
Haunted eyes peered up at him. "How much do you know?"
"Enough, lad. Enough. I've seen it before."
There was a moment of silence, broken only by the sweeping of the cool breeze across the barren landscape, rustling the scant brush on the plains below and whipping clouds of dust around the shuttle craft.
"Pavel. I'm your friend. We've been friends for a while now. And as a friend, I've got to tell you. This has to stop." Scotty laid a hand on a trembling knee. "The captain...he's a good commander. He's a brilliant tactician. He's fearless, brave, foolhardy, and a good man. But he's a bad lover."
Chekov eye's widened.
"He should never have approached you lad. Never."
Chekov fought back a hitch in his breath. He knew that the captain shouldn't have asked him to be with him. He was the captain, after all. Whereas Pavel was just an ensign, green, naive and totally inappropriate.
"Mister Scott....I...I don't know what to do." Pavel squeezed his eyes shut at the utter helplessness in his voice. He sounded pathetic, weak, spineless. It was no wonder the captain shouldn't be with him.
A strong finger on his chin lifted his face until he was looking into deep brown eyes, radiating concern and warmth.
"Leave him. Tell him that you can't be with him. Don't let him command you to stay with him. You don't love him do you?"
Pavel was taken aback by the question. How could Scotty ask that question? This was Captain Kirk they were talking about.
"But...he...he's the captain..." Chekov felt lost. What was Scotty driving at?
"But do you love him, laddie. And I don't mean worship. That's clear beyond words. When you kiss, do you feel like the world would end if he suddenly disappeared? When you're in his arms, can you think of no where else you'd like to be? Does the mention of his name send warmth from your toes to the tip o yer head?" Scotty at up on his knees, bringing Chekov up with him. He placed his hands on either side of the bewildered ensign's face. "Does he do this to you?"
The kiss was gentle, soft, asking. There was no insistence, there was no intrusion. And Pavel felt himself melting into the strong arms of the one man who had been a rock for him over the last month. Scotty broke away, supporting the listing young man by the forearms.
"No." It was a whisper. Chekov absently licked at his lips.
"Doesn't sound like love to me." Scotty stood up, pulling the stunned yong man to his feet. "Come on, laddie. Let's see what we can salvage from the shuttle. Maybe the replicator's workin'. I could use a hearty meal."
Chekov followed him down the mountain, grinning from ear to ear at the promise of a future.