Title: Patient’s Name: Scott, Montgomery
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Disclaimer: Borrowing the character, that’s all.
Summary: FH!verse one-shot. Part of a series.
Other Cases: Uhura, Nyota | Chekov, Pavel | Sulu, Hikaru
Patient’s Name: Scott, Montgomery
“[…] Kirk has tested each one of them, as they arrived—though Scotty is the exception because he was here before Kirk and that was a very, very long time ago.” – A World of Crazy
Just start talking. Talk as if someone is listening and plans to reply to each of your questions. (How does that clock know what time it is? Is rain clear or blue? Will Momma get mad if I take another cookie?) It’s simply, really, and a game Monty loves to play. Until, that is, someone does join the conversation. It’s a small dark little man with a craggy voice (like a smoker) and a face to match.
The person introduces himself as Keenser.
Monty is six years old, curious and accepting of his new friend.
What does it matter if no one can see him but Monty?
The adults think it’s funny—that he’s funny—when he talks to Keenser. Momma even sets an extra place at the kitchen table that very first night, says “Sure, baby, one for you and one for Keenser.” He likes the way his mother’s eyes smile, when she leans over to kiss his forehead; he thinks she smells like flowers (however flowers are supposed to smell; really nice, he guesses).
His other friends don’t find Keenser good company, because they cannot see him and are bad at pretending that they can. Monty stubbornly refuses to ignore his new friend—even if he’s old (he’s wise)—so his best friend Danny pushes him down (he won’t cry, he won’t because Keenser is watching) and calls him stupid.
At school, it’s no better; as soon as the other first-graders learn of his “imaginary friend” from Danny, they laugh at him and won’t include him in games. That is no fun, not the jeers or name-calling. It’s not his fault Keenser refuses to show himself to other people. Monty’s special is all. Very special, and he nurses his little hurts with that knowledge.
Daddy doesn’t think it’s so funny, like Momma, but says nothing; later he and Momma raise their voices over it and Monty has to hide his head under the pillow and whisper secretly to Keenser how much he doesn’t like yelling. For the first time, Keenser seems sympathetic to his little boy feelings. His friend squats down in front of him, as Monty peeks from under the pillow and says it’s okay to be scared.
He believes, then, that Keenser is a good friend—and will be, for a long time to come.
As he grows up, he learns that most people do not look fondly upon his “imaginary friend.” In school, he keeps quiet in the back of the classroom and scribbles his questions down to Keenser in a notebook. That’s how they communicate—Monty writing, as to not draw attention to his friend who isn’t supposed to be with him, and Keenser talking all he wants because nobody but Monty is privileged enough to have his friendship.
Momma goes from tolerant and amused to worried. Sometimes she asks questions in a very quiet voice, “Is Keenser with you today, Monty?” or “I wish you’d tell me why he is your friend. Or maybe Dr. Vandenburg. Can you tell him?” He tries to be honest with his mother, even though his answers hurt her sometimes and that makes him sad.
Dr. Vandenburg is another story. Monty does NOT like him, the way the man tries to poke into his private thoughts (secrets with Keenser) and he does not like the way the doctor’s office is always cold. (And there’s that little jar of candy, but the candy is old and tastes like a medicine Monty has to take when he’s sick.) But Monty has to talk to the doctor (Is he really a doctor?) once a month because his dad won’t take no for an answer and drags him out to the car. It’s a stubborn struggle they go through every time, but Monty always gives in when his father starts getting angry after he begs not to go and his mother holds a hand to her mouth. Dad usually apologizes later for being upset and Monty forgives him. Their relationship isn’t bad, he admits to Keenser one night before falling asleep, it’s just awkward.
He keeps getting older and more stubborn about Keenser. Never talks about his friend to anyone but close family, who sometimes just laugh or sometimes go really quiet, depending on the person; there’s one particularly aggravating cousin who wants Keenser to come out of the closet. Monty’s tried explaining that Keenser doesn’t live in the closet, but that does no good because Cecy just wants to laugh at him.
Social activities are hard, because he feels that he has lost the ability to communicate with his peers. No one understands the sort of wise things that Keenser does, and no one pays much attention to Monty so long as he remains that silent kid who does C-average schoolwork and doesn’t really bother anybody. Doesn’t mean he forgets to notice others; no, not at all. He’s a watcher—sees the kind of groups the kids form around him. And girls get more beautiful as they grow up, radiant like the sun in a sweet kind of way (except when they laugh at him like all the rest). Just when he thinks no one will ever notice him but Keenser—that sixteen is a lonely age, a dark-haired girl with too much eye-makeup and a small smile sits next to him in math class. She’s nice and silent like him, spends a lot of her time drawing funny faces in her textbook. He pretends to ignore her but it’s hard (and suddenly he doesn’t spare a thought for Keenser). The day she actually greets him—after two weeks of sitting side-by-side—his heart goes bump in his chest and that’s a new experience.
She seems to think he writes stories in his notebook and he never tells her otherwise (rarely speaks). She seems to think he’s shy (okay, he is) and that’s that a sweet thing. Her name is Mira—pretty name, that—and she asks him out on a date. He scribbles yes in his notebook, shows her and her eyes smile like his mother’s.
It’s the only date they ever have because while it starts out well enough—Scotty carefully driving his father’s old car and Mira in her pink sweater, with glittering eyes—Keenser won’t leave them alone. He’s there, in the backseat, waiting while they stop for a bite to eat at a local diner. He’s still waiting, silent (for once) and watching, when Mira gets Monty to stop the car along the side of the road and leans over to kiss his cheek. His hands might have trembled but he kept clutching the steering wheel really hard.
She says to him, “You’re strange, but that’s okay, Monty.”
Then Keenser calls, out-of-the-blue, she’s lying to you and he is so surprised—and upset—that he half-turns and yells “She’s not a liar!”
That’s that, and Mira is startled. Doesn’t understand. He cannot lie (lying is wrong) and attempts to explain but she still doesn’t (won’t) understand. “He’s saying a-awful things about y-you, and I just c-can’t—”
No use. Monty drops his head down and offers, “I can take ya home.” It’s a whisper, but she hears it well enough. Mira tells him that she does want to go home. So the date ends, rather sadly when it could have been sweet (but for Keenser) and Monday the chair next to him is empty. It stays that way until Keenser waddles up, climbs into it and apologizes for hurting his chances with Mira. Monty eventually forgives him.
Things improve somewhat when he’s an old seventeen (old to him) and his father discovers that Monty has an intuitive feeling for the family business. So they start bonding over various jobs—which is fine because Keenser never comes along for those trips (he thinks they’re boring) and Monty gets to spend time piecing thing together. That soothes him, somehow; he understands how the system supposed to work, can direct its flow as he pleases. It’s a matter of proper sealant, a few well-placed bolts and a map of right angles. It’s easy, good. His Dad thinks it’s good too and that’s even better.
The problem starts when Keenser decides he doesn’t want to stay home when Monty goes on jobs. It’s early in the morning and he’s fishing out a wrench from a toolbox for his father when a familiar shadow comes barreling around the corner of the client’s house. It’s his friend, who stops two feet away and watches him with those beady dark eyes.
He almost drops the wrench. “Keenser, what’re ya doin’ here?”
Keenser smiles and Monty is distracted from his friend’s reply when his father calls out from the basement, “Need that tool, son!”
“A’right!” he calls back. Before he goes down into the dark, he tells Keenser to go back home ’cause he’s busy.
Keenser never does leave. Not after that.
He tries to ignore him, but finally gives in. After all, hasn’t Keenser been his faithful companion since grade school? Haven’t they always shared everything, even the darkest secrets? (No one knows more about Monty than Keenser does.) So he tries to do his work and entertain Keenser at the same time.
His father isn’t happy, and Monty’s sorry that he is unhappy. But Dad just tells him, “Keep quiet when the customer’s around.”
He does. He really does, but then something bad happens. He’s chatting away, working on a set of pipes, and fails to see the shadow in the doorway. Keenser blinks, lets him know that he’s not alone (Dad’s gone on an emergency job), and suddenly there’s that old woman nobody likes—no matter what his Momma says, nobody likes Ms. Tate ’cause she’s mean.
That’s the beginning of the end, because the woman causes problems in the neighborhood and later with the local authorities. She insists to her friends that “that Scott boy ought to be locked up, everybody knows Bella and Henry cannot keep him straight.” She makes him sound dangerous when he’s not; it makes his Momma cry awful hard when people come to the house and ask questions. Even his father is sad.
His mother pleads with him to lie, to “pretend everything’s alright, pretend you’re okay, baby.” He wants to try, for her sake, but lying’s wrong. When the questions get repeated, time and again, and people watch him like he’s a bad person (scare him), he looks for Keenser (for help) and they just sigh, keep writing on their pads.
Monty is taken away from his family and placed in a big old building called Fleet Heights. They want him to swallow hard little pills and talk to strangers about Keenser. It’s a cycle of days that depress him; it’s three months before he gets to see his mother’s face again. She is as unhappy as he is, he can tell.
Things change when a kind-faced man named Pike takes over for the retired supervisor. Mr. Pike introduces himself, begins to spend time with Monty, attempting to talk about things other than Keenser and “you know you’re crazy, face it.” He almost believes that one day he’ll actually talk back. Then Pike is gone for a long period of days and when he finally reappears, the man looks grey and much too old. Monty doesn’t know how to approach him, so he doesn’t and just sits in his room with Keenser. It’s lonely, but no one bothers him overly much.
Life has a way of changing, in the blink of an eye, Monty knows. The day that Pike suddenly stops by his room, knocks politely and asks, “May I sit with you, son?” Monty is sure that something is about to happen.
“I have a… new patient arriving soon. He’s young, much younger than you.”
Monty nods to show that he understands.
“And he’s lonely like you are. It would mean a great deal to me, Mr. Scott, if you would meet him.”
He doesn’t think that patients are supposed to interact with each other (at least that’s what Puri told his parents, he remembers) but Pike is nice enough.
Keenser is watching them both, and when Monty asks the silent question, the little dark man gives his approval. Okay, then.
Pike smiles (it’s tired, that smile) and thanks him.
Turns out the boy’s name is Jim. Jim is lonely, has to be Monty thinks that first time he sees James Kirk. He is strapped to his bed (Monty doesn’t know why) and has his eyes closed. Monty takes extra care to make noise announcing his presence; that face is so thin and sad (devastated) that it hurts Monty to look directly at him.
The eyes open and reveal blue like the summer sky. The boy (has to be years younger than Monty) speaks in a quiet voice, “Are you real?”
“W’ats y-your name?” The voice is slurred, probably from too much bad medicine. He watches as the kid pulls at his straps once, tiredly, before giving up.
He doesn’t know why but it seems okay to answer that soft question. “M’name’s Montgomery,” he mumbles.
“Oh. I’m Jimmy—Jim. C-call me… Jim.”
He nods again.
They are silent, then, until Pike comes in and ushers Monty out into the hall. “You’ll come back tomorrow?” It’s not an order, he understands, but still a plea.
So he does. He keeps visiting Jim until the boy is finally released, able to get up and move about. They never do talk much, until one day when Jim awkward settles beside him at the cafeteria table. (The child’s still painfully thin, doesn’t eat much.)
Monty ducks his head.
Those blue eyes are watching him. “Are you crazy too?”
How to answer that? “Keenser,” he says shortly and knows that that makes no sense.
“Who’s Ken-Keenser?” The way Jim says that name is funny so he repeats in slowly until Jim can say it just right. There’s a small smile—like a hint of something bright peeking out—on Jim’s face. “Keenser. Okay, who is he?”
Monty tries to explain (like always), “He’s my friend.”
“Where is he?”
Monty drops his head, mumbles and points at Keenser across the table. “There.”
Jim stares across the table for a long time. “Oh, okay. Hello, Keenser.”
Yes, Monty was right. Things are changing (inexplicably); for the first time since he was a child, someone greets Keenser too. Then Jim turns back to him with that tiny little (growing) smile, “I don’t like Montgomery; it’s long. What’s your nickname?” The kid offers, “Jim is short for James.”
“Name’s Monty,” he replies but Jim is wrinkling his nose and shaking his head. What’s wrong with Monty?
“Sounds like a horse’s name.”
He stares. “I’m not a horse.”
“So what’s your name?”
There’s a brief pause, then finally, “Scotty.”
“Yeah.” The kid—Jim—leans in closer. “Scotty, wanna be the first to join my crew?”
“You’ve got a crew?”
“Not unless you join. It’s a starship crew.” Those blue eyes are watching him, bright (so bright), even though the face is pale and hollow. Jim adds, “Keenser can join too.”
Well, that’s alright then. Yes, Monty—no, Scotty—knows that where there is an end, there is a beginning too.