Montgomery Scott downed yet another glass of hard liquor in one the few establishments in Scotland that served no synthehol.
The young man behind him still pleaded. "Uncle, please. She wishes merely to speak with you upon ancient concerns. She has not much time left."
Had Starfleet not required Shuttlecraft Goddard to come in for certification, Captain Montgomery Scott would be nowhere near Earth. Too many memories. He had only visited Jim Kirks body once, since its retrieval from the simple but respectful temporary cairn Picard had laid it in. Why he had come to his hometown was beyond him. But he had a clear answer for the man behind him.
"Lad, ye have no uncle. Eighty years before your birth, your great-grandmother and her mother said as much to a stranger who came to their door. The only uncle ye ever had was Peter Preston, and he is long dead."
"Aye. This I know. It is this she wishes to discuss with you. Please, do not make me drag you there. I could, if ye make me."
Scott looked him straight in the eye, cocking his own in defiance. "Its poor grammar youre using, lad. Its nae whether ye could drag me. Rather, tis ye could try!!"
Not entirely for reasons of decorum, the young man backed off. "Then ye will not speak with her?"
"If the bloody Commodore Jessa Preston, Retired, wants to speak with me, then Ill merely have my heart and liver and lungs replicated, and mailed to her so she can pin them on the wall. I know my trip aboard the Jenolen deprived her of that joy in life."
"I should tell her nothing, then?"
"Nay, lad. Tell her go to Hell. While shes there, read up an old report. A report on the death of Cadet Peter Preston. An extensive report that cleared Captain Kirk and myself of all charges. A report thatdespite the fact that the presiding admiral was one of Jim Kirks self-avowed enemiesyour great-grandmother still told her mother had been tampered with in our favor. We didnt have a friend within sight of that investigation. But still they cleared us. Aye, but any explanation that did not suit her version of events was just wrong on its face. Wish her good reading by hellfires light for me, wont ye, lad?"
The young man cleared out before he could respond in kind to Scotts words. Bitter and drunk, Scott made for the Goddard to sleep it off.
Montgomery Scott awoke slowly, but was suddenly startled when he found he was not in the shuttlecraft. He glanced around at his surroundings.
"Och. Wonderful. My sisters house. How charming this would beif I ever had a sister."
He got on his jacket, and got up to leave. He decided to head for Deep Space 9 a month early. Geordi LaForge had asked as much of him, to help Miles OBrien get that patchwork house in order. There was nothing for him, here. But a woman well over a century old stood in the doorway.
"You had a sister. She re-owned you before her time came."
Scott was not impressed. "Well, now. Was this a final act of charity for the dead? Did ye then disown her, for being in league with Captain Kirk? Commodore Preston, get out of my way. I am a stranger here, and those memories of how I became a stranger in my ancestral home are still fresh in me mind. So find another special prosecutoryour sixth?and have him dig up Jim Kirks body for quartering. I dinna ken ye."
As he walked away, Jessa spoke again. "As the years took her more and more, your sister asked me why I was not a captain sooner."
"Aye. So what did ye tell her? That Kirks friends kept you down?"
"Itried to. But then she cut me off, saying that in the anti-Kirk backlash she read of, no one would dare try such a thin. So I was forced to tell her th truth."
"Which version? The one where Jim Kirk knew about Khan Noonien Singh beforehand? Or the one where Saavik seduced your younger brother, clouding his judgement? You were quite inventive in your day."
"The truth that declared me vindictive and unreliable for launching another investigationthis time of the original reports supervisors. By the time I was done, I had alienated Kirks supporters and his detractors both. Your sister asked me how long I had known that ye were not at fault. When I answered, she took you back into her heartand banished me, but with the provision that if I could gain forgiveness from your spirit, then I would gain it from hers as well."
She stood silent.
"Before I can grant you forgiveness, I must know if ye ever apologized to young Peter Kirkwho became a doctor, no less!--for the things you said at his uncles funeral."
"Some years ago. Hes a good man, like another Peter I know might have been had Khan not killed him."
Simple words, but they lifted some of the burden from Scotts heavy heart. They did not lift everything, though. "Jessa! Why could you have nae said these things a century ago?"
Her eyes were done with tears, but still they were sad. "Will ye grant me peace, Montgomery Scott?"
His heart thumped in his chest. "Aye. We are kin again. I forgive ye your anger. Now I must go."
She stopped him again. Jessa spoke in a halting voice. "Montgomery, please! Hold your Jess! And I am so verra cold."
He took her into his arms, and, suddenly, the old woman in his arms felt a century and quarter lighter. Montgomery Scott heard his sisters exhortations not to shake the baby. Tears are hard to break through, but in the end they are only water, and blood will out.
A month later, Jessa Preston died. But her uncle made sure that her mothers house was not sold, and used it as his own when visiting Earth, working to keep the family together. In dreams, as always, he stood outside his sisters home after Peter Prestons death. But now, his sister and his Jess invited him in, and they talked about the life of a fine young man, who stayed at his postno matter what. To him, it seemed almost a matter of family pride. In this, he would always remain alive in their hearts.
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