Table of Contents
Scotty had Sulu on his home turf, so the new admiral relaxed and let his old friend play host. It was obvious to anyone watching that Scotty was enjoying himself immensely. Turning towards Sulu, he smiled broadly. "The only fittin' place for such a grand occasion is MacLaughlin's. T'will be a real treat and I'm doin' th' buyin', so hold on ta your credits; they'll do ye nay good ta' night!"
Hikaru just grinned and let Scotty lead on. The two wound their way through the streets as Scotty noted various points of interest. Finally, they stopped in front of what Sulu recognized as an ancient pub. The exterior was done in rough hewn oak timbers which framed stark white plaster with hand rolled glass in the windows and stained glass panels in the doors. The two entered the pub while Scotty was talking about the history of the 'public house.'
As the engineer had described, the inside was just as pleasing to the eye. Scotty pointed to a booth in the far corner, "Take a seat, laddie and I'll be right with ye." Then he ran off towards the bar, located centrally in the establishment. The place was about three quarters full and it seemed that everyone knew, and liked, Scotty.
Sulu was sure Scott and his friends were putting together some sort of special celebration. As Scotty busied himself with the arrangements, Sulu eased back into his seat and tried not to notice. He was thinking about just how happy he really was. Things just couldn't get any better. A long career in Starfleet, which had begun on the old Enterprise, had been highlighted by a number of special events like the V'ger and Whale Probe incidents, barely escaping a court martial after the destruction of the original Enterprise and his first command in the Excelsior. Now he would be taking the Enterprise B out!
Most of all, though, Sulu remembered James T. Kirk. The senior officer had taken an immediate liking to the young helmsman and trusted his judgment on tactics and strategy skills implicitly. Many times during their service together, Kirk counted on the young helmsman and Sulu never disappointed the captain.
When the original Enterprise was destroyed, Sulu felt empty, as if he had lost an old friend. When it looked as if the senior officers would be put in the brig for causing the ship's destruction, and participating in its theft, Sulu considered leaving the service; an honorable way out and it would spare his family the agony of disgrace.
Ultimately, they did manage to win a reprieve and received a new ship assignment, but all along he had his sights set on a command of his own. His dream, to command Excelsior, had to be postponed temporarily due to his part in the theft of the ship, but eventually it was his. Sulu loved to command and his record with Excelsior was exemplary. In the five years he commanded the grand ship, he established new records in the exploration of space and first contacts with new cultures, life forms and governments.
It was while he was commanding the Excelsior he had learned of Kirk's death. Nothing, not even the loss of the original Enterprise, had affected him so much. Almost all of Kirk's words of encouragement and advice came to Sulu in a single moment. He remembered also that he wanted to personally attack the Romulans and make them pay -- dearly! In due time, he did manage to make a personal peace with his feelings, but he never forgot his mentor and friend, Captain Kirk.
Now, with Scotty's help, he would be taking the newest Enterprise out for a shakedown before accepting duty at Starfleet Headquarters. It was time to come home. His parents were getting to the point in life when time was getting short and Sulu's sense of family was very strong. His family had always been very important to him, and now, it was past time to face the fact that they weren't immortal. With a position at the Admiralty, he could carry his career to its logical conclusion. He was very fortunate that Starfleet Headquarters was located in his home town of San Francisco.
So now he was content. A good assignment, another stripe on his sleeve, all the honors and recognition he could hope for and a chance to help complete the family circle. He was the 'traditional son,' coming home to care for his parents.
Suddenly, Scotty came rushing over to where Sulu was seated, with two people in tow. The first was an attractive lady, dressed in what was obviously a work uniform for the pub, a waitress -- or, more appropriately, barmaid, which was the traditional term that Sulu had heard Scotty use. The other person was an older man, older than Scotty probably, also dressed in traditional work clothes. The man resembled Scotty in general build, but the stranger was a bit more muscular. His hair was snow white, but his most unusual feature was a full-sized, handlebar moustache.
All three of them were wearing a smile that suggested a friendly conspiracy. The young lady spoke first, in a voice almost too quiet, considering the noise level of the pub. "Admiral, 'tis a real honor ta hae ye here tonight. My name is Margaret, but everybody calls me Maggie. Montgomery has told us abou' your promotion and your new ship assignment. If you need anything, just let me know." She gave Sulu a wink and a smile, followed by a quick curtsy. She then hurried back to the main bar and busied herself with a tray full of drinks.
Sulu was so intent on watching the attractive barmaid, he almost forgot about Scotty and the other man. They were acting like two young school kids and very enthusiastic.
"Admiral Sulu," said Scott, emphasizing the word admiral, "I'd like ye ta' meet Angus Preston MacLaughlin, th' owner o' this fine establishment and a first rate bartender, too." Then he added quickly, "I hae ta' say somethin' like that, ye should see my bar tab!"
With that said the two burst into laughter so contagious that Sulu joined in.
Angus slapped Scotty on the back in a gesture of a long friendship. "A real pleasure ta' serve ye both. What'll ye hae?"
Sulu looked the owner right in the eyes and without blinking or smiling said, "A pint o' ye best stout dark and cold, please."
Again, Angus slapped his brother-in-law on the back. "Ye trained him well, Monty!"
Admiral Scott looked positively shocked but recovered. "Make it two, Angus, and dinna be slow. And keep 'em comin'!" Scotty then sat down hard opposite Hikaru and continued grinning. "That was impressive; he'll be talkin' about it for years ta come."
He hated to put a damper on Scott's enthusiasm but Sulu reminded his old friend about the time limit. "It's going to have to be a short night Scotty; I still haven't seen my own family yet, remember?"
The Master of Yards looked a bit disappointed, then suddenly brightened up. "Then I'm real honored ye came ta' see me first! I'll hae ye out o' here in time ta' make lunch in San Francisco wi' ye family, just as promised!"
"Fair enough, Scotty."
No sooner had Sulu accepted Scott's promise, Maggie showed up with two large tankards in one hand and a small pastry in the other. In the center of the pastry was an oversized blue candle and the light from the flame gave the barmaid a slight ghostly appearance. Once again, Sulu studied the girl so closely that he failed to notice the small group that followed her, until they broke out in song.
"For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow and so say all of us --" The group went on for many more verses until the candle was almost out, then they resounded with a number of cheers and yells.
Starfleet's newest admiral sat embarrassed, then reached out for the tankard before him. Raising it up in a gesture of good will, the small crowd became quiet. He then gave a proper toast, "To friends," he said looking at Scotty, "both old," and then to the crowd, "and new!"
He tapped his tankard against Scotty's and took a long drink to shouts of, "Here, here!"
After he had put the tankard down, he noticed that everyone else had joined in with drinks of their own. Then people came up one at a time to offer various words of encouragement, some in Gaelic or Scots. Finally, after a seemingly endless stream of 'well done' and 'congratulations,' he turned to face his old friend. "Thanks, Scotty, that was great. I should have taken you up on one of your invitations long ago." Then he pointed to the tiny cake now covered completely with blue wax, "Care to help me with this?"
They both laughed at the sight and Scott pushed the pitiful dish to one side. "Maybe later."
"So tell me, Engineer, is the new Enterprise going to be as difficult as the '01-A was?"
Scotty was horrified at the suggestion. "Nay, not on ye life! In fact, I'll bet ye she gets a one hundred percent ratin' on her shakedown."
Sulu took another swallow from his tankard and eyed the older man with skepticism. "A hundred percent, are you sure about that?"
"I'll stake my reputation on it; more if ye like."
Sensing a real opportunity in the making, Hikaru pursued the line of questioning. "Like what exactly?"
Montgomery Scott became as serious as his friend had ever seen and spoke in a voice that was almost a whisper. "Ye see that black box over the bar, next ta the mirror?"
Following his friend's pointed finger, he noticed a moderate sized black lacquered box in a class case. "I see it. What's in there?"
Scotty's voice took on an almost reverent tone. "Only th' greatest treasure in all o' Scotland."
"Well, what is it? Gold, jewels, what?"
"Actually, more valuable than that!"
Sulu's look of surprise and keen interest delighted Scotty to no end. "'Tis a bottle o' five hundred year old genuine Scotch whiskey!"
Shaking his head in disbelief, he laughed at the revelation. "Is that all?"
The engineer kept up the strategy. "I'm surprised at ye laddie. Do ye nae ken a real treasure when ye hear o' it?"
"Okay, Scotty, what's it worth, in hard credits?"
"Well, I heard Angus say if he ever did sell it, he wouldna' take less than ten thousand credits."
Whistling softly, Sulu commented, "That is a treasure. So if I took this bet and I won, you'd buy that for me?"
"Not that it could happen lad, but aye. What I expect is, that ye'll end up buyin' it for me! Done deal?" The overly eager Scotsman offered his right hand for a handshake as a way of sealing the bet.
Responding likewise, Sulu took the hand and smiled. "Done, Yardmaster; easiest bet I ever won!"
"Dinna be so sure, laddie, dinna be so sure." The twinkle in the Scotsman's eye was covered as he raised his tankard and took a long draught.
As if on cue, Maggie showed up with two fresh tankards and placed them in front of the two men and removed the empties in one fluid motion, due no doubt to years of experience.
The former helmsman smiled a thank you as she left and the two men sat silently for a few moments until curiosity got the best of the new admiral. "Scotty, you said that the owner of this pub is your brother-in-law, Angus Preston MacLaughlin, correct?"
Looking at his friend with a bit of hesitation, Scott answered quietly, "Aye, that I did. Why'd ye ask?"
"Not related to Peter Preston, is he?"
Scotty's voice became sad and quiet, as if Sulu had struck a sensitive nerve. "Aye, his father; but that particular nightmare is all behind us now. My niece, Dannan, and I hae been back on speakin' terms for a long time and even my sister seems ta' hae forgiven me. Still, it was a very sad chapter in the family's history."
Sulu was horrified. "Scotty, they didn't blame you for his death, did they?"
A heavy sigh was followed by words spoken in a reflective mood. "Aye, they had put th' lad in my care. They all had a difficult time wi' his loss. Everyone thought that I could hae done a better job o' lookin' out for one o' th' clan."
"Anyone who knows anything about space duty realizes that there is always a risk. Besides, dealing with a madman like Khan is --"
Again, a heavy sigh, then Scott explained, "It's okay; all is forgiven now and th' family is just fine." Changing the conversation's direction, he smiled slightly and admonished his old friend, "It's nay time ta be sad. Let's celebrate your new success instead." He finished the statement with a long drink from the fresh tankard.
"Very well, Mister Scott." Sulu then joined his friend in another drink then studied his friend for a moment. "You know, Scotty, since you've been back in Scotland your brogue has really become noticeable."
Leaning forward, as Scotty admonished his friend in a near whisper, "Dinna let anyone hear ye say that while ye're in this pub. The word brogue is actually used to describe what an Englishman sounds like when tryin' to speak Gaelic or Scots!"
Hikaru looked dumbfounded. "But I thought --"
"It's okay, laddie, a common mistake. Let's enjoy ourselves!"
The night went on for quite a while and Maggie made several more visits. Each time, Sulu studied the lady and was beginning to become quite taken with her. She was of average height with dark hair and sparkling blue eyes. It seemed that every time Sulu saw her, she was smiling. Some day he would have to return and visit with Maggie when he had a little more time and a bit more privacy. His thoughts of Maggie were distracted by Angus who was shouting across the room.
The pub owner had an old style pocket watch on a long chain and was tapping on it, then pointed to Sulu and nodded towards the door. "It's time, Monty!"
Scott looked at Sulu and drained his tankard. "Ye better be gettin' along. We can use th' yard's transporter."
"Thanks, Scotty, that would be just fine."
The two friends got up slowly and started towards the door. Angus came out from behind the bar and approached the pair. In his right hand was a small square of paper. Sulu thought that it was the tab for the evening and in an effort to share the cost with his friend, he began to search for his datacorder.
The engineer reached out and grabbed his friends arm gently. "Now, Admiral, I told ye not ta' worry about that."
Angus folded the paper square in half then placed it into Sulu's hand. "That's Maggie's address and holo comm number. Excuse th' informality, but she's a wee bit shy and really took a likin' ta you. I thought ye might like ta get in touch wi' her."
Sulu was surprised and delighted. "Thanks, Angus, but make me a promise, will you?"
He pointed a finger towards Scotty, "If this old barfly gets too far behind on his tab, just give me a call. I have connections with the Judge Advocate's office. We'll get him thrown into debtor's prison or something equally appropriate."
The smile on Sulu's face changed into a broad grin and then the three men broke into a healthy dose of laughter. The two Starfleet officers then headed outside through the heavy antique oak doors. The day had changed into night and a heavy fog had blanketed the city. With the fog came a definite temperature drop.
"Thanks again, Scotty, it was great. I'll see you again tomorrow, mid-afternoon yard time. We can work out some details on the launch schedule and the shakedown procedures. That okay with you?"
"Aye, let me signal the yard office." He produced a standard communicator and set it for the proper channel. "Scott ta Yard Command." Scotty winked at the admiral. "Hae ye home in a jiffy. Do ye hae the coordinates?"
"Yes." Sulu reached into his tunic and produced a small datacorder and brought up transporter coordinates for his parent's house. "Here, Scotty, use these."
The communicator chirped once then a voice came over the speaker. "Glasgow Yards, duty office. Admiral Scott, I thought you'd be home by now. Coordinates show that you're still at MacLaughlin's, again." There was just a bit of delight and sarcasm in the voice.
Scotty's good natured manner changed abruptly. Just a bit red in the face, he spoke with a definite firmness in his voice. "Mister Randolph, d'ye think ye could handle a wee transporter assignment for a Starfleet VIP? Admiral Hikaru Sulu needs ta visit his parents in San Francisco." Taking the datacorder from his friend, he waited for the inevitable reaction from the duty officer.
The voice at the other end became very business like at the mention of Sulu's presence and rank. "Aye, sir! Do you have the coordinates?"
Montgomery Scott read off the series of numbers slowly then waited for confirmation. Methodically the transporter technician repeated the coordinates and confirmed the settings. Smiling, he handed the datacorder back to Sulu. "Okay, ready ta go. Next visit, plan to spend a wee bit more time. Angus sets a fine table."
"Okay, Scotty, I get the picture. Now let me get going before my parents celebrate another birthday!"
"Transporter, one ta beam up. Scan my position, transport person one meter, due north."
"Got him, sir. Ready when you are."
Hikaru Sulu smiled at his friend again, "Very efficient staff you have, Mister Scott!"
Scott just winked and spoke into the communicator. "Transport now."
He felt the familiar tingle and then Scotty, the wonderful old pub and the Glasgow fog began to fade from view.