Rust by SLWalker

(2238) From the Mirror Universe side arc, this is the immediate sequel to Another Man's Treasure by Teddog. Jenna Richmond comes to find that a whole lot can change in a year.

Categories: Mirror Universe Characters: Richmond, Jenna (Mirror), Scott, Montgomery (Mirror)
Genre: General, Het, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 2160 Read: 1481 Published: 02 Feb 2009 Updated: 02 Feb 2009

1. Rust by SLWalker

Rust by SLWalker

His face was streaked with dirt and dried blood, and whatever else he got himself into; even the black t-shirt he was wearing showed some of it. And he smelled like those things, too -- like blood, sweat and rust, which was not exactly pleasant, but...

...but not unpleasant, either, in a weird way. He didn't smell like a boy, even if he still had some of the lines of one. And the mix between blood, sweat and rust was very distinctly male. Grown male.

Jenna felt like slapping herself. But she managed to keep her composure when she stepped further into the little sickbay. "Short trip?" she asked, giving him a grin.

"Jenna!" Scotty grinned back, then immediately winced. His face looked busted up, mostly his bottom lip and chin, and he probably wasn't doing himself any favors by smiling back at her.

Tabitha had the same idea, and sighed in exasperation, "Don't do that." Then she went back to cleaning his hand up.

He looked suitably chastised, but his eyes still were lit up bright while he sat patiently on the table, apparently too focused on Jenna to really suffer much from having his wounds cleaned. "Aye, but I got away with some fairly good parts. Had to split 'em up with the group, but I got us a tricorder, and a few other things that might be useful."

Jenna wasn't much of a rebel; in fact, her only real part in the rebellion came from the fact that she just happened to be an engineer on a rebel ship. As such, she didn't join in on raids, and some part of her felt a little fierce at the idea that Scott had gone on one himself. Especially since he came back bloodied up, even if it was minor.

She didn't voice that, though, just hopped up to sit on the table next to him, on the opposite side Tabitha was working on. He watched her the entire way, with that look he'd been giving her more and more of late, like she was just the person he wanted to see come through a door.

That look was about as worrisome in her mind, as the fact that she found the smell of blood, sweat and rust on him, all male, to be more... more attractive than repulsive.

Tabitha, who had been a bit motherly towards both of them, obviously was finding their body-language worrisome herself; she didn't shoo Jenna out, but she gave Scotty a sharp look and an attention-getting tone, "Montgomery Edward. Eyes forward, and stop moving around."

He did as he was told, but Jenna smirked at the flash of defiance that crossed his face as he did. She thought about pointing out to Tabitha that, since they only used pain-killers on serious injuries, it might not be a bad thing for Scott to be distracted right now. But that would get her kicked out, so she didn't speak up about it.

"Well, maybe next time you decide to go raiding, at least you can try to find a dermal regenerator," Jenna said, trying to keep her tone more fitting to a colleague than anything else, maybe failing.

"One we have works. Just... not well," Scott replied, not looking over at her, but she could see him wanting to. Then Tabitha hit a particularly sore spot on his hand and he flinched.

Life on these ships was bare-bones at best. The dermal regenerator had been repaired and rebuilt so many times, it (like medicine) was only used when it was absolutely required. Sparing the battered equipment was just a part of how things worked. They were lucky to even have surgical glue to seal wounds with, and often enough had to resort to something even more old fashioned: Stitches. Jenna wondered if that would be the case here.

"I'm going to glue this one, and I don't want you to use your hand for the next few days," Tabitha said, now that the jagged cut on Scott's right hand was clean and rust-free. Jenna foresaw a tetanus booster and an evening spent pulling Scott's shift in the engine room, since he would probably be camping out in the head, sick as a dog. "Keep it dry, too."

"All right," he replied, stealing a look at Jenna while Tabitha closed the cut, then started wrapping it up.

She raised her eyebrows at him, having to struggle to keep the smile off her face. That look... yeah, it was dangerous. It hadn't been last year. The wiry, heart-broken fifteen-year-old that Scotty had been last year provoked far more innocent feelings than this. He still was the kind of sweet you didn't find often in this life, but there was a smolder there now, an unmistakable slow burn, that kept making her think of him in considerably more physical ways than was necessarily proper.

Tabitha finished wrapping his hand up, and he barely managed to look forward again before the medic caught him. Jenna did the same, but Tabitha's piercing look was evidence enough that she was well aware that they'd been communicating, however silently, in some ancient universal language.

"I'm going to have to stitch your lip," Tabitha said, but even her prior disapproval didn't change the fact that when she said it, she did so gently and sympathetically. "Looks like just two or three, at most."

The color left Scott's face in an instant, so fast Jenna was surprised he didn't faint. If she weren't wincing herself in sympathy, she would have almost found that amusing -- he carried himself, despite some boyish quirks, like a fairly confident man most of the time, but that adult confidence ran out at the idea of having his lip sewed up. She couldn't blame him in the least; Hell, she was pretty sure that no matter how old someone got, it was a pretty universal fear.

He had his shoulders so tense that it looked almost like he was trying to hide his head like a turtle. She used that as an excuse to touch him; moved on the table so she was mostly behind him, and stopped pretending that it was all just trying to be a good pal.

Tabitha gave her a look, and Jenna tipped her head up a little, challenging. She loved the medic, as much as you could love anyone in this world where you might lose them any minute, but this was getting kind of ridiculous. Okay, yeah. He was sixteen. She was almost twenty. But it wasn't like Scotty was just some school-aged kid who couldn't handle things. In a crisis, he could rattle off orders evenly and keep his head in ways that she had seen older men fail at. He could hold a mature, intelligent discussion.

And there was absolutely nothing school-boy about the strong shoulders under her hands.

Just like there was nothing school-girl about the way her own body reacted to the instant responsiveness of his. As though her fingertips issued commands he had no choice but to obey; some of the tension left, and he relaxed a little, leaning slightly into it. Not the responsiveness of other guys she'd known, who were always trying to guide her hands into their pants -- something pure and undiluted, like she could direct that new power he'd accumulated in the last year, even if she wasn't so sure she'd ever be able to control it.

Tabitha still didn't approve, but she didn't intervene, either. Just went about getting her equipment in line. Medically speaking, she probably saw the sense in having a more relaxed patient.

Physically speaking, Jenna kept working on Scott's shoulders, even though she was getting her hands dirty in the process. Working her thumbs along the lines of his shoulder-blades, she could feel his breathing slow and even out, more tension ease. Still smelling like blood, sweat and rust. Feeling like something raw and strong; young, new, but fully and entirely male. She swallowed, her own youth clouding her head some, reminding her that she was more than susceptible to that kind of slow burn, that dangerously attractive smolder that he had. Reminding her of the overwhelming desire to get physical with someone who responded so amazingly to everything she did, from her expressions to her hands.

The wonder at what it would be like to be a part of that.

Jenna ended up sticking around for the whole ordeal; Scotty had a hard time holding still, but had done so. She knew that it had to hurt like Hell, but despite the fear that came back and the tension that even she couldn't do much about when he was having his lip stitched up, he didn't cry out or jerk away. She wondered how much of that was his strength, or her hands.

Or the combination of both.

After a tetanus booster, and rattled instructions, he left; before he did, Jenna gave him a kiss on the cheek, on the cleanest spot she could find, and then turned back to face Tabitha.

"He's barely more than a child," the medic said, without preamble.

"There are no children in this universe," Jenna replied. A mix between bitterness and wisdom. "The Cap expects him to be a man, be the chief engineer of this ship. Why can't he conduct his private life in the same way?"

Tabitha's mouth tightened a little. A gentle woman, kind, but Jenna knew that she still believed in a universe where a sixteen-year-old's biggest concern was going to the movies or working on their first skimmer, and a twenty-year-old's biggest concern should be college and innocent life experiences.

Maybe there was a universe like that one.  But this wasn't it.

"He's a good man, Tab."

"It's not just him, Jenna," Tabitha replied, and Jenna could see the concern and love in her eyes, even with the disapproval. "You're talking about him conducting himself like a man... are you ready to conduct yourself like a woman?"

That gave Jenna a moment's pause. In her job, she already did. In her personal life... she'd been in relationships, mostly short flings while they were in a port of call, and one or two long-distance romances that broke up because they couldn't be maintained. Tabitha had a point -- Scott was the first potential lover in her life that would be there constantly, and if things went bad, there were very few places to escape from one another on the Ci Bach.

It wouldn't just require him being a man. It would require her being a woman.

Still, she thought that it just might be worth that.

"Yeah." Jenna nodded, tipping her chin up again, but this time not a challenge. "For him? Hell yeah."

A week later, and all that was left of the raid was a slightly better functioning ship, a repaired tricorder, and two scars. They'd been running ragged that past week, doing some repairs with the new broken pieces Scotty had procured, nevermind keeping ahead of the usual breakdowns that plagued the old ship. There wasn't even time to talk about anything but engineering; their lives had been little more than work, some exhausted sleep, and some food that was usually bolted down fast and not enjoyed.

"That's it," he said, carefully sealing the case of the tricorder they'd both been picking at during their opposing shifts. "Still can't believe they'd just... throw it away like that, ye know?"

"Yeah," she replied, sitting across from him. Tired, but again with enough free time to admire the view. "Guess it must not take much for the Empire to decide something's too broken to fix."

"Aye." He set the tricorder aside, then gave her a grin. A still new scar on his bottom lip, a little right of center, which looked like it would be a permanent flaw. "Ah well. We got somethin' out of that, at least."

She reached across the table, brushing her fingertips over that scar, probably tickling him some. But it still caused the bright, almost firelight in his eyes to burn a bit hotter, and like some kind of feedback loop, his response made hers.

She didn't try to say anything else, just crossed around the table and straddled his lap; saw a flicker of shock and surprise to go along with the heat in his expression, and could feel his shoulders, where she rested her arms, tighten in a way that had nothing to do with pain.

Thought, briefly, about the waste of the universe, a universe without much in the way of childhood, in a world where they had to make due as well as they could with broken pieces and parts.

And as she kissed him, and he ran his hands up her back, making her shiver, she thought about the new, raw, young things they managed to salvage with blood and sweat from the rust.
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