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Someone to Lean On

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Chapter 1: The Morning After

Pavel Chekov woke up in an unfamiliar room, in an equally unfamiliar bed. That was his first clue. He shifted his body and felt the sheets slide against his bare skin, shivering as cool air touched his bare shoulders when the sheets slipped off. That was his second clue. The third clue was the taste in his mouth, sour with vodka, semen, and some other flavor he couldn’t identify. Something just a little spicy, yet sweet at the same time.

Running his fingers through his own curly hair, Chekov considered the situation. He’d clearly gotten very drunk and hooked up with someone. Since he was in an unfamiliar room, it wasn’t with his roommate Jason, which happened whenever neither of them had managed to find someone. The taste of semen in his mouth told him that he wasn’t with his on-again off-again girlfriend Erica.

“Vell sheet…” he muttered under his breath, his Russian accent even thicker than normal when clouded by sleep and a very likely hangover. Now he was going to have to sneak out of this guy’s room. Chekov was acutely aware that he was still a couple months shy of his 17th birthday, very much underage, and he knew that whoever he was with could react badly in the light of day, not to mention newfound sobriety.

Chekov twisted to look at the sleeping figure next to him, and he couldn’t help but gasp. Lightly bronzed skin, soft-looking black hair feathered across his forehead… Apparently Chekov had managed to hook up with the most gorgeous Asian man on the planet. And then he felt himself shudder as memories rushed through him, of frantic lips and grasping hands and sweat-slicked bodies moving together. A smile crossed Chekov’s face for a moment, but it faded as his head began to pound. Or maybe it had always been pounding, but it had been lost in the haze of sleepy confusion.

Rolling back over, Chekov started to push himself upright, then collapsed back into the pillow as his head spun and his stomach turned. Damn hangovers… far too much vodka last night. Thankfully not enough to black out the memories of mind-blowing sex though. His stomach heaved and a few dry coughs racked his body.

The man next to him stirred. Chekov froze, holding his breath, hoping that the other man would stay asleep. He gagged, praying he could force his legs to propel him to bathroom before emptying the contents of his stomach.

The handsome Asian stirred again, rubbing his forehead and mumbling sleepily. “Mmm… the hell… never going to party again…” he growled. Chekov stared, unable to tear his eyes away. Finally deep brown, almost black, eyes fluttered open blearily before locking onto him. “Hey… um… good morning, I guess,” the man said finally.

“Uhh…” Chekov tried, wondering what the fuck the proper protocol was when dealing with a one-night-stand on the morning after. But before he’d made up his mind about what to say, his stomach heaved again and he clapped his hand to his mouth as he gagged again.

The Asian’s brilliantly dark eyes widened. “Oh shit!” he exclaimed, nearly launching himself off the bed. He grabbed a wastebasket from somewhere near the foot of the bed and stepped quickly to Chekov’s side, making it just as the first wave of vomit began leaking through the Russian teens’ fingers.

Chekov had never felt so mortified in his life. Tears pricked at his eyes as he emptied the contents of his stomach. His companion, to his credit, didn’t even flinch, just held the wastebasket in place and soothingly rubbed his back and urging him to get it all out of his system. After several agonizing minutes, there was nothing left to purge, and Chekov was left dry-heaving for another minute before letting his head drop. The sour scent of vodka-filled vomit had him dry-heaving again. As he coughed, he spotted his t-shirt on the floor and reached out to grab it, using the garment to wipe his hand and his mouth before finally daring to lift his head to look the other man in the eye.

“I am so sorry,” he whispered, terrified of the reaction he was going to get.

The corner of the Asian’s mouth twitched a little. “Am I that bad?” he asked, feebly attempting to make a joke.

Chekov’s eyes widened. “Vhat? Nyet! Nyet, you are…” He paused, not knowing what to say, and feeling like ‘gorgeous’ and ‘perfect’ were a little much right now. “I… too much wodka last night… I am so sorry…” he gasped again.

“You’re sure?” the man said. Chekov nodded meekly. The man took the now-soiled t-shirt and the wastebasket and walked off, probably to dispose of them in the recycler. Chekov quickly took the opportunity to slip into the bathroom to wash his hands and rinse out his mouth. He splashed a little cold water on his face and tried to steady himself before stepping back out into the bedroom.

The Asian man was back, and wearing gray Academy sweats and a dark blue t-shirt. He was digging through his dresser drawers and not looking in Chekov’s direction. Chekov quickly retrieved his underwear and pants from the floor and then sat down to put on his socks and shoes. The jeans he’d been wearing were thankfully still clean and presentable-looking, but he was minus a shirt now.

His companion finally turned to face him, though he couldn’t quite seem to meet Chekov’s eyes. “Here, you can wear this. You can keep it; I have a million like it.” He held out a black t-shirt with the name of a local high school on it. Chekov had seen several other Academy cadets wearing similar shirts when not in classes.

“Oh… thanks… um…” He paused, racking his brains for the name of the man he’d just spent the night with and coming up empty.

The Asian closed his eyes for a half-second. “Hikaru,” he said finally.

“Oh. Um… Pavel,” Chekov said, suddenly feeling even more shy and awkward than before, which he hadn’t realized was possible.

“Pavel…” Hikaru nodded slowly. He had the strangest expression on his face. It was almost… resigned. “Um… shit, I don’t even know how to ask this… How old are you?”

Chekov winced. He’d had a feeling that this was going to come up. “Eighteen?” he tried nervously, hoping that maybe Hikaru would want to be in denial enough to not press the point. No such luck though, seeing as Hikaru’s dark eyes had narrowed even more, glaring at the Russian in front of him. “Sewenteen…” he whispered. A skeptical eyebrow rose. Chekov winced again. “…In a couple more months.”

Hikaru looked a little dazed at that knowledge. His fist clenched, but he took a deep breath and his face remained perfectly composed. “Okay… good to know. Um… So… Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Fine. I’m fine. Too much wodka last night. Dat is all.” Chekov stared up at Hikaru, willing him to look him in the eye. When he actually did, Chekov grinned one of his patented sweet adorable grins that always seemed to make people around him melt. It seemed to work on Hikaru too since he actually got a half-smile out of the serious-looking man. “My head doesn’t feel right though,” Chekov admitted.

“I thought as much,” Hikaru agreed. “You want me to make sure you get back to your room okay?”

“Nyet, you do not haff to!” Chekov exclaimed. “I haff… I haff been enough of a problem for you already dis morning.” He stood up too quickly, and swayed on the spot. Hikaru caught him easily.

“Is that your final answer?” he asked. Chekov knew he was blushing as he stared down at the carpet.

The walk to Chekov’s dorm room seemed to take an eternity as he leaned against Hikaru, but he found that he didn’t really mind. After getting over the initial humiliation, he found he didn’t want to leave behind the comfort of the other man’s arm or that lovely sweet scent that surrounded him… But they were at his room and Chekov was fumbling for the access code when the door opened and he was greeted by his roommate.

Jason was a true California surfer-boy type with white-blonde hair and ocean-blue eyes that were normally sparking with laughter, but right now he took one look at the sight in front of him and practically dragged Chekov into the room. “Dude, where the hell have you been? Who’s this?”

“I’m nobody. See you around, Pavel,” Hikaru said, and then he was gone.

“What the fuck, Pav?” Jason exclaimed.

Chekov blinked. He knew he probably owed Jason an explanation, but all he wanted to do was fall into bed and sleep for the rest of the day, or at least until this headache went away.

“Haven’t I told you a thousand times? You don’t just hang out in the morning! You get outta there, man! You don’t let them bring you home!” Jason was saying.

Chekov nodded absently as he staggered into bed. His head hit the pillow and he was soon asleep, trading in Jason’s lecture for visions of Hikaru’s beautiful bronzed muscular body.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu’s first thought when he woke up that morning was to help the young man in his bed before he got sick all over Sulu’s bedroom. But the second thought as he comforted the distressed youngster was to slowly realize how very VERY young the man really was. He’d felt the bottom slowly drop out of his stomach as the young man looked up at him. This wasn’t a man, this was a BOY… barely out of childhood by the look of things. So pale, with bright red spots on his cheek from the exertion of emptying his stomach. Sulu thanked the deities for his own strong stomach that didn’t instantly try to empty itself when the sickly-alcoholic smell reached his nostrils.

The boy had the most enchanting dark brown curls Sulu had ever seen and he had surprisingly vivid memories of running his fingers through those curls all night, pulling on them in the heat of passion, getting his fingers tangled in their softness. It nearly made him hard again, but thankfully the teen was too sick and embarrassed to notice.

When he finally did look up, Sulu’s heart nearly melted as he met those insecure hazel eyes. He hated himself thoroughly now for debauching this kid, this child who shouldn’t even have graduated high school yet. Sulu’s lips moved almost mechanically as he tried to gauge how the kid was feeling, and also tried to pretend he wasn’t still absolutely mesmerized. And the kid’s Russian accent… devastatingly adorable. Sulu wasn’t even the slightest bit surprised when the kid explained that he’d been drinking vodka. Of course he had. He was Russian. Did they drink anything else over there?

Sulu had to get out of the room, so he hurried out into the kitchen of his apartment to get rid of the vomit-filled wastebasket and stained shirt in the recycler. Once out of the bedroom, he attempted to gather his shattered composure.

Sulu was never going to a party again! Ever! He normally avoided those types of gatherings, but a couple of fellow TA’s had decided to drag him along to this one, and he had gone because it had seemed like a half-decent way to kill a night. And that one guy had been there… Daniel, or David, or Darryl, or whatever the hell that guy’s name was… This guy had been trying to get into Sulu’s pants for the last three years and had been plying him with drinks all night. And Sulu had been half-convinced that maybe giving Daniel-David-Darryl a chance was a good idea when they’d gone out on the dance floor and it had been so crowded out there and so confusing with all the gyrating bodies and flashing lights… and somehow he’d lost track of Daniel-David-Darryl and wound up grinding against this skinny curly-haired young man. And the younger man was very drunk and waving around a vodka bottle and actually kissed Sulu right on the lips! Right there on the dance floor! It had been as intoxicating as if Sulu had drunk right from the vodka bottle. And it hadn’t even occurred to him to notice just how damn young that kid was because he was at a Starfleet Academy party and the kid was wasted on vodka and who expects a teenager to be at a party like that anyways? And so they’d danced for a while longer and then they’d gone straight to Sulu’s apartment and locked themselves in his bedroom, and… well! It had been a fantastic night right up until all that alcohol wore off and Sulu regained his sanity.

Shaking himself out of his reverie, Sulu walked quickly back into his bedroom and found it empty. The sound of running water from the bathroom answered that question, and Sulu quickly pulled on sweatpants and a t-shirt and tried to figure out exactly what he was going to do about this situation.

Before he’d really had time to collect his thoughts, the kid emerged from the bathroom again, looking way too sexy and adorable to even exist. Sulu quickly looked down at the dresser, suddenly remembering that the kid’s shirt had been thrown out. Finding a suitably generic shirt for the kid, Sulu gathered up his courage and turned around to find the teenager staring shyly up at him with those heart-stopping hazel eyes. Sulu had to look away. He could not afford to find this kid attractive anymore, he just couldn’t… “Here, you can wear this. You can keep it, I have a million like it,” he said quickly, hoping it didn’t sound like he was babbling or terrified or upset…

“Oh… thanks… um…” The kid looked suddenly tongue-tied. And then it hit Sulu. They’d never actually introduced themselves at any point during the grinding on the dance floor, or after that kiss, or on their way to his apartment, or… He was going to stop thinking about this now.

“Hikaru,” he said.

“Oh. Um… Pavel,” the teenager replied. His cheeks reddened even more. It was clear he’d never experienced anything remotely like this awkward morning after and Sulu felt even more disgusting than before. This kid was way too innocent. Never mind that he’d been drinking and dancing at a wild house party, this was a whole different level.

“Pavel….” Hikaru paused. Fuck, he was just going to ask. Maybe he was just tormenting himself, but he had to know how badly he had fucked up last night. “Um… shit, I don’t even know how to ask this… How old are you?”

The teenager winced. He seemed to understand exactly where Sulu’s thoughts were at. “Eighteen?” he suggested meekly. Sulu grimaced. He would not allow his feelings to be spared right now, and he tried to communicate that using only his eyes. He must have been successful because Pavel blushed. “Sewenteen…” he whispered. Sulu couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow, because really? And sure enough, the kid winced again. “…In a couple more months.”

Sixteen. Motherfucker. He’d seduced a sixteen-year-old. Fucking really? Sulu realized he’d been clenching his fist and he quickly relaxed it. “Okay… good to know. Um… So… Are you sure you’re okay?” He was operating almost on autopilot again. He needed to get this kid the hell out of here and never think about him again.

Sulu realized that Pavel had been speaking again and quickly looked at him, trying to pretend he’d been listening. When he met those beautiful hazel eyes, the boy grinned. It was so sweet and adorable, Sulu couldn’t help but return the smile even though part of him wanted to go off and commit hara-kiri for defiling something that adorable and innocent. “My head doesn’t feel right though,” Pavel was saying.

“I thought as much,” Sulu quickly agreed. “You want me to make sure you get back to your room okay?”

“Nyet, you do not haff to!” And Pavel actually sounded shocked that Sulu would suggest such a thing. “I haff… I haff been enough of a problem for you already this morning.” He jumped to his feet, looking like he might bolt right out of the apartment, but then he swayed and would have fallen over if Sulu hadn’t stepped forward and caught him.

“Is that your final answer?” Sulu asked wryly, and he was rewarded by Pavel’s cheeks seeming to catch fire again, and he really couldn’t decide whether to ruffle his hair or pin him down to the bed again. But that was a VERY dangerous line of thought, especially since he now knew the kid’s true age, and soon they were walking through the hallways towards Pavel’s room. Sulu was a little embarrassed about walking through the halls at this hour with someone who was clearly feeling the effects of a night of excess, but he ignored it and concentrated on helping the young Russian.

When they reached the boy’s dorm, the door opened almost at once. A handsome blonde whose blue-eyes were slightly bloodshot from lack of sleep stood in the doorway. He grabbed Pavel, and Sulu could have sworn he felt the boy grab slightly at his t-shirt before they were yanked apart and Pavel stumbled into his own room.

“Dude, where the hell have you been? Who’s this?” the blonde exclaimed angrily. Sulu couldn’t tell if this guy was a boyfriend or just a really freaked-out roommate, but he decided at once that he wanted no part in whatever might follow.

“I’m nobody. See you around, Pavel,” Sulu said quickly, and he practically bolted off down the hall, trying desperately to banish the memory of those giant hazel eyes that had been practically pleading with him to stay. He hurried off to his apartment and stumbled into the shower, trying to wash away the previous night’s excesses. But not matter how much he scrubbed; he couldn’t get rid of the smell of Pavel’s skin, the feel of those silky-soft curls, and the taste of vodka from their first sloppy kiss on the dance floor of a house party.

Chapter Text

It had been a couple of months since Pavel Chekov had woken up in Hikaru’s bed. He hadn’t seen the handsome Asian since that fateful day, and Chekov simply wasn’t sure how he felt about that fact. On one hand, he realized it was probably good. Their parting had been awkward… very awkward… and Chekov would just as soon erase that particular morning from his memory forever. And certainly Hikaru would not want to share a bed with an underage teen again. Yes, it was definitely for the best that they not meet again.

And yet… Whenever Chekov closed his eyes, all he could see was that faintly bronzed skin, those mesmerizing dark eyes… Chekov had a crush, big time, and he was drowning in his own obsession. He fantasized about Hikaru constantly, and often caught himself staring off into space when he was supposed to be doing schoolwork. It didn’t take long for Jason to call him on it.

“Are you fantasizing about that hot Asian again?”

Chekov was yanked out of his fantasy, which had involved his tongue and Hikaru’s very well-toned chest. “Huh?”

“That hot Asian that you hooked up with a couple months ago? Seriously, smoking hot. No idea how you managed to land that guy. You should get some kind of award for it. But seriously, man, why are you still hung up on him? You know he’s gonna run as fast as he can in the opposite direction if he sees you again.”

“Da, I know,” Chekov agreed.

“So why are you still daydreaming like a lovesick teen over him? You have Erica, man! You shouldn’t need to fantasize about anyone else when she’s around!”

Chekov glanced sharply over in Jason’s direction. Jason rarely spoke about Chekov’s sometimes-girlfriend, except to inquire if this was one of the weeks where they were together or one of the weeks where they were apart. This was certainly the first time Chekov had had any hint that Jason might be… attracted to Erica.

In all fairness, Erica was incredibly pretty. Petite with poofy blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, she would have looked amazing hanging off of Jason’s arm, trailing alongside him down to the beach to lay in the sun while Jason surfed. But she’d never glanced twice at Jason, and he’d never shown an interest in her… until now. Chekov was confused, but he had no time to get lost in this train of thought as the door chime sounded.

“PASHA!!!” Erica squealed, hurling herself into the room as soon as she was let inside. She threw her arms around her boyfriend and kissed him happily. “Are you ready to celebrate your birthday?”

“You know dat my birthday is not until tomorrow, da?” Chekov asked.

“You’ll be seventeen at midnight. Close enough,” she said with a shrug. “Jason’s coming too, right?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Jason replied with one of his devil-may-care grins. Erica linked her arm with Chekov’s and the trio hurried off to dance in clubs and drink at bars until they collapsed.

After a wild night of fun and youthful mayhem, they wandered back to the boys’ room. They got to the door and Chekov turned to say goodnight to Erica, but she pushed her way into the room too. Chekov was confused. Jason was with them still, and Erica and Chekov had never hooked up with Jason around. But to Chekov’s surprise, there they were in his room, and Erica was kissing him and pulling his shirt off and Jason was just lying there on his bed, enjoying the show. And then Erica was taking off her own shirt and placing kisses down Chekov’s chest and stomach, and then she turned to Jason with the most endearing ‘what are you waiting for’ expression. And then Jason was stripping off his clothes too, and Erica was looking up at Chekov and asking what he thought of his birthday present and before long the three of them were rolling around on Chekov’s bed together and for a little while, there was no place he’d rather be.

But then morning dawned and Chekov’s first thought was of Hikaru. And his second thought was of Erica and Jason. But how could it not be when the two of them were curled up together with his arms around her waist and her hand on his thigh? And Chekov was quite alone on the other side of the bed and suddenly the room seemed too small and stuffy and he had to get away. Taking a shower didn’t seem to help at all, so he threw on his jeans and went for a walk to clear his head.

Happy birthday indeed. He was seventeen and far from home, his girlfriend and his best friend were cuddled up in HIS bed, and he was at a school that was just like all the other schools where fellow students teased him because of his intellect, and the guy he wanted to sleep with again had vanished from his life as quickly as he entered it. Chekov couldn’t help but smile ruefully. Today was a hell of a day for teenage angst to decide to rear its ugly head.

His wanderings took him to the Academy gym, and he glanced idly through the window, and his heart nearly stopped. Hikaru was there, wearing karate pants and a sleeveless shirt and he was FENCING! Chekov couldn’t tear his eyes away as Hikaru moved, graceful as a dancer or a gymnast. The quick fancy footwork, the agile thrusts and parries as he bounded around the training dummy… Chekov’s heart melted a little as he watched, fingernails digging into his palms. Okay, this was probably the best birthday present he could have ever hoped to receive…

Realizing that he should really not be standing here drooling over a guy who would in all likelihood never want to see him again, Chekov reluctantly turned away. He’d barely started walking when he found himself surrounded by several older cadets. This particular group had tormented him more than once, but usually he was able to outrun them before they became too abusive. But this time they’d caught him by surprise.

“Well look what we have here… the boy wonder, out for a walk all by himself. Where’s your babysitter, little one?” one of the cadets taunted. He was taller than Chekov by at least a foot, and very broad-shouldered and solid-looking. Chekov took a few steps backwards and found himself against a wall.

“You know, you wrecked the curve on our last physics test,” another cadet said. “We shouldn’t be putting up with this from someone who still needs a glass of warm milk from his mommy before bed.”

Chekov knew there was no safe response to this, so he kept silent. The first cadet punched him in the face. Chekov turned with the blow and was able to deflect most of it, but his face still stung and he wasn’t quite ready when that same cadet stepped forward and grabbed a handful of Chekov’s unruly curls, yanking the teen towards him.

“What do you think, should we take him someplace a little quieter where we can really teach him a lesson about what happens to punk-ass children who think they can play with the big kids?” he asked. The others in his gang nodded and they started walking and Chekov was really thinking this might be the worst birthday of his entire life and hoping that they wouldn’t go too far so he could drag himself back to his room in a reasonable time after being pummeled when a voice spoke nearby.

“What the hell is going on here?”

It was a voice that Chekov had not imagined he’d hear again… the one that had haunted his fantasies, invaded his blurry memories of heavy petting and low curses as hips ground together… He managed to glance up, even as his head was still bent forward in the grasp of the older cadet. Sure enough, there stood Hikaru in those karate pants and sleeveless shirt that would be featured prominently in Chekov’s next fantasy… He was sweat-drenched and gorgeous and very VERY angry… Wait, angry? Yes, definitely angry, with one hand on his hip and the other hand clutching the foil he’d been practicing with.

“None of your business,” the cadet still holding Chekov’s hair snapped, but he sounded just a little nervous.

Hikaru’s eyes narrowed. “Cadet Roberts, unless you release that kid right now, I WILL report you to security for assault on a fellow student, and I WILL proceed to thrash you to within an inch of your life until they arrive. Don’t act like you think I can’t.”

The behemoth (Roberts, apparently, Chekov had never actually stuck around long enough to find out the names of his tormenters) finally let go of Chekov’s curls, and Chekov stumbled a little before regaining his balance. Hikaru glared at the other cadets until they walked off, leaving Chekov and Hikaru alone, regarding each other warily.

“Um… thanks,” Chekov said shyly, running his hand through his curls and massaging his scalp a bit. Hikaru’s eyes seemed to soften for a moment as he studied the Russian.

“No problem. I hate bullies. You okay?”

“Da. Dey had not done much besides taunt me,” Chekov said with a shrug, deciding not to mention the implied threat of a severe beat-down if Hikaru hadn’t shown up when he did.

“Well then how did you get that bruise?”

Chekov blinked, fingers moving automatically to the spot where Roberts’s fist had connected. “Dere is bruise?” he asked, rubbing the spot gently.

Yes, Hikaru’s expression had definitely softened. “It’s not that bad. Really. Do you… have to deal with those guys a lot?”

Chekov blushed. Only his second real conversation with this guy, and both of them were ranking among the top twenty most embarrassing conversations he’d had in his life... maybe even top ten! “Sometimes. Usually dey cannot catch me… I am too fast for dem.”

“You run from them?”

“Vell, I cannot fight dem,” Chekov said with a shrug and a half-gesture towards his slender frame.

“Are you fast?”

“Da. I ran cross-country back in Russia,” he admitted. “But I haff not done dis here at Academy.”

“Cool,” Hikaru said, one corner of his mouth turning up. “That’s really cool. But… they caught you this time.”

Oh, that was not a direction he wanted this conversation to go. Chekov stared determinedly at the floor. “I vas not paying attention. Dey surprised me.”

“I see.” And Chekov had the uncomfortable feeling that Hikaru did see… all too well. “So… um… what were you doing before those punks caught up with you?”

Chekov shrugged. “Just going for a valk.”

“At this hour? By yourself?”

“Da... I vas tinking about getting breakfast,” Chekov added as his stomach gave a rumble, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten in quite a while.

Hikaru’s tumultuous dark eyes narrowed. “Roberts and his gang might still be around. Where’s your roommate at?”

“Back at room. Probably still asleep. Vit my girlfriend.” Oh crap… Why did he say THAT??? Hikaru’s eyes had widened and his mouth opened a little. Chekov shook his head quickly. “I am sorry. Please forget I said anyting. I haff to go.” And he turned and started walking away when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Hikaru had somehow closed the distance between the two of them and was stopping him from leaving.

“Hey, I know it’s not really any of my business, but if you need to talk… or, you know, if you need some company…”

Chekov was so tempted to say yes. So incredibly tempted… But he could not do that, not to Hikaru… someone he barely knew, someone he wanted too badly to know… But something must have shown in his face because Hikaru just nodded as though Chekov had accepted his company.

“I really need to shower and change… but if you want to come back to my apartment… it’ll take ten minutes and then we can go grab some breakfast.”

“Dat… dat vould be wery nice…” Chekov admitted, because it really would be nice to spend some time in Hikaru’s company, and it was his birthday, damnit! It was about time he got something he wanted today. So he found himself walking alongside Hikaru, back to his apartment.

Hikaru seemed to be regretting the invitation by the time they got there because he looked very awkward as he glanced around the living room. “Um… yeah… you can just… um… look at whatever you want… Just, you know, put anything you pick up back where it belongs, okay? I’ll… be back.” And with that, he strode into his bedroom and slammed the door, leaving Chekov feeling rather awkward himself.

He walked across the living room to study Hikaru’s bookcase. It was packed with textbooks, which wasn’t very shocking. Many were botany textbooks, while the rest appeared to be related to physics and had a number of sticky notes sticking out from the pages. Chekov wondered why Hikaru had so many physical books when PADDs could hold so much more material. But there was something to be said for the feel of paper beneath one’s fingertips. Chekov couldn’t stop his own fingers from tracing the leather covers of a few books. The bottom shelf had several well-worn novels, and Chekov was amused to discover that they were Westerns and 19th and early 20th century-era crime noir. He pulled one of the most worn-out books and skimmed the back cover when Hikaru’s bedroom door opened, and Chekov nearly had a heart attack as he stumbled away from the bookshelf.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu could not for the life of him figure out what was wrong with him. At random times, he would close his eyes, and then he’d be assailed by the image of glimmering hazel eyes and soft slightly pouty lips and thick golden-brown curls. He’d gone to a bar the night before, hoping to drown those visions in alcohol, and maybe pick up someone who could help him forget that innocent teenager. But that plan had failed spectacularly.

He’d been nursing his fourth beer when the door opened again and Pavel had walked in. Sulu’s heart had nearly leapt into his throat, and he panicked. He was just wondering how fast he could settle his tab and bolt before he did something he regretted when he saw Pavel’s companions. The blonde surfer-dude roommate was there, leaning over Pavel like a protective guard dog. And the petite blonde girl next to Pavel was clinging to the Russian’s arm, leaving Sulu in absolutely no doubt about what their relationship was. Now Sulu relaxed. Pavel had plenty of other options tonight, if his roommate’s hand on the boy’s thigh was any indication. Sulu could enjoy his drink in peace without having to worry about making himself look foolish. But his eyes kept straying back to the trio. Pavel looked happy, but was it Sulu’s imagination, or did the boy look a little… distant? He shook his head. Now he was just fantasizing.

Eventually Sulu went back to his apartment. Alone. And he slept, but not well. He woke with a sense of restlessness, but he had the cure for that. Sulu dressed in workout clothes and went off to the gym, eager for some solo fencing practice. Just the thing to work off all that excess nervous energy that he seemed to have plenty of over the last couple months.

After a thoroughly satisfying workout, he walked out of the gym, debating what to do once he was showered and presentable. Really, he should be working on that big thesis of his… but that wasn’t really appealing right now. Before he could go any further down that train of thought, he spotted a familiar head of curls in front of him, being yanked about by an older cadet that Sulu knew well enough… a jock, one of those asshole bullies who thought he was such tough shit, but he’d had his ass handed to him more than once by different combat groups, including Sulu’s own fencing club. And now he and his cronies looked like they were ready to thrash Pavel right out of existence.

“What the hell is going on here?” he heard himself demand.

Roberts and his crew turned to face him, and he did not miss the flash of fear that shot across Roberts’s face. Pavel’s hazel eyes had a sheen to them, unshed tears from his hair being yanked about. There was a red mark on his face, with a rapidly darkening center, and Sulu felt his protective instincts flare up as Roberts tried to protest that none of this was Sulu’s business.

Barely holding back his temper, Sulu couldn’t resist threatening the older cadet, knowing that he could back up his own tough talk. “Cadet Roberts, unless you release that kid right now, I WILL report you to security for assault on a fellow student, and I WILL proceed to thrash you to within an inch of your life until they arrive. Don’t act like you think I can’t.”

And now Roberts’s fear was perfectly obvious, even as he shoved the teenager away and tried to act nonchalant as he walked away with his mates. Sulu watched them leave before turning his attention back to the Russian teen, whose relief was all too obvious on his youthful face.

Color rose to the boy’s cheeks as he looked up at Sulu with an expression that was nearly hero-worship, but not quite. “Um… thanks,” he said, touching his head and wincing a little as he touched the skin that had been so mistreated when his curls were yanked about.

“No problem. I hate bullies. You okay?” Sulu asked. The kid may have seemed okay, but Sulu wasn’t willing to rule out the possibility that he’d been kicked in the stomach or somehow mistreated in other ways that weren’t immediately obvious.

Pavel shrugged as he denied it, but something in his eyes… he’d been threatened, it was obvious even without it being said. The kid was an open book to Sulu, and he wondered for a moment if everyone else felt that way, or if it was just him.

“Well then how did you get that bruise?” Sulu found himself asking.

Pavel looked stunned as he touched his cheek, right where the red spot was. It was almost as though he’d forgotten about being hit during the encounter. “Dere is bruise?” he asked.

Okay, that accent was too cute. It should not be legal for someone to have an accent that was that freaking adorable. Sulu found he had to reassure him. “It’s not that bad. Really. Do you… have to deal with those guys a lot?”

And now the kid was blushing. Stupid… of course he was bullied. He was a teenage genius attending a prestigious academy with people several years older than him. And somehow the conversation had turned to Chekov being a runner and Sulu found himself unbearably distracted by the idea of the kid running, wind blowing back his curls and stinging his cheeks into an adorable shade of pink… And now the kid was embarrassed about something else, but for the life of him, Hikaru didn’t know what. He tried frantically to recall the thread of the conversation and not make it obvious that he’d been fantasizing.

“So… um… what were you doing before those punks caught up with you?”

Pavel shrugged. “Just going for a valk.”

Sulu was surprised. Pavel didn’t strike him as a particularly early riser, and surely he would use this time for running rather than just strolling around. “At this hour? By yourself?”

“Da... I vas tinking about getting breakfast,” Chekov said, although the rumble of his stomach might have influenced that answer just a little.

Sulu thought about the encounter with Roberts and his cronies. They would be feeling deprived of their victim. Surely they would not expect Sulu to hang out with the kid all day. They’d try to ambush him again later, and the cafeteria was a likely place for just such an attack. Again, protective instincts were rearing their heads and Sulu didn’t have time to stop and analyze these feelings. “Roberts and his gang might still be around. Where’s your roommate at?”

“Back at room. Probably still asleep. Vit my girlfriend.” And the way the teenager’s eyes widened and the frantic way his hand flew to his mouth, as though he could somehow stop those words from escaping even though it was far too late for that… It would have been hilarious if Sulu hadn’t been so stunned by those words. Hadn’t he just seen the trio the night before? What on earth…? But Pavel was speaking again and trying to run, clearly embarrassed beyond all human reason at the incredibly personal details he’d just revealed. And he looked so upset and young and vulnerable and Sulu couldn’t just let him go like that… And before he knew it, he’d reached out and grabbed the kid’s shoulder, stopping his retreat.

“Hey, I know it’s not really any of my business, but if you need to talk… or, you know, if you need some company…”

Conflicted… that summed up the emotion in Pavel’s eyes perfectly. He looked so eager, so desperate… yet something was stopping him, making him drag his heels. Pavel looked up at him with those huge innocent hazel eyes, practically begging Sulu to make the decision for him. So he did.

“I really need to shower and change… but if you want to come back to my apartment… it’ll take ten minutes and then we can go grab some breakfast,” Sulu said firmly, in a tone that suggested he would not be taking no for an answer.

“Dat… dat vould be wery nice…” And Pavel’s expression lit up like the sun and he looked so thrilled and Sulu’s heart nearly swelled with joy that he was the one who’d put that expression there.

They were only halfway back to Sulu’s apartment before doubt started creeping in. Seriously, what the fuck was he doing? All those resolutions to stay the hell away from this unbearably sexy not-legal-adult had flown right out the window. And did Pavel really get that this was not a trip back to his apartment for a quick fuck? Sulu did NOT need to be repaid for saving Pavel from those bullies (although the idea of Pavel being a damsel in distress was also very arousing). And was Sulu himself going to remember that hitting Pavel up for a quickie was a very bad idea?

Some of his anxiety must have shown, because Pavel looked surprisingly wary as they stepped into Sulu’s apartment. Sulu felt himself starting to panic as he quickly blurted out a few instructions that Pavel not move his things around too much before he practically ran to his room, nearly gasping for breath. Damnit, why was that kid so freaking hot? This jailbait thing… Sulu really didn’t appreciate it… Well, that was a lie; his very hard cock was proving that right now. Sulu stepped under the stream of hot water and quickly took care of that little problem, past caring that he was remembering Pavel’s giant hazel eyes staring up at him rapturously on that very drunken night.

Sulu dressed quickly in jeans and a blue t-shirt that was just a little too tight across the shoulders, which was probably a very bad idea… And then he finally felt ready to face Pavel, so he walked out into the living room. It didn’t surprise him at all that the kid was enamored with the bookshelf, although seeing The Maltese Falcon in his hands was a bit of a puzzle. Then Pavel looked up and saw him and actually jumped backwards, dropping the book and turning bright red.

“I am so sorry!” he yelped. “I should not… I should not hawe been looking through your books!”

“Why not? I told you to look at whatever you wanted,” Sulu said, bending to pick up the book and make sure that none of the pages had bent in the tumble.

“I… had thought you meant only textbooks. Dat is… is personal. Priwate book.” Pavel was practically stammering now, clearly under the impression that he had crossed some kind of boundary.

Sulu shrugged. “If they’re out in the living room, anyone can see them. I don’t mind if people know I have an unnatural fondness for Westerns and noir thrillers. If it was really that private, I’d keep it in my bedroom.” And he wished he could take those words back because now both of them were blushing. Sulu ran his fingers through his hair, making it stand on end, sticking in wet spikes. “So… um… brunch?” he said finally, needing to get out of this room.

Pavel nodded and they headed down to the cafeteria. Sulu’s theory about Cadet Roberts and his cronies proved correct as he spotted two of them loitering near the entrance to the cafeteria, but he gave them both dirty looks and they scampered away. Then they sat down across from each other at one of the tables and ate in silence for several minutes before Pavel cleared his throat shyly.

“Um… Hikaru?”

“Yeah?”

“…Vhy did you inwite me to eat vit you?” he asked, practically stuttering.

Sulu frowned. “Because… you seemed like you could use some company,” he decided at last.

Pavel played with his fork for a minute. “I do not need your pity,” he said finally.

“I wasn’t trying to offer you pity. You just… you seemed very alone. I thought the least I could do was offer to share a meal with you.”

“You are not feeling guilty, are you?”

Now it was Sulu’s turn to stammer. “Why would you ask something like that?”

Pavel shrugged. “You vere not happy ven I told you my age. It vould make sense.” The kid looked up from under those ridiculously cute curls. “But you do not hawe to.”

“Right, of course… Sixteen years old, but you have that supposed girlfriend of yours, and that roommate…”

Pavel winced. “I do not vish to speak of dem.”

Open mouth, insert foot. It had been intended as a snarky comment, but this was clearly a bad time for it. Sulu winced. “Sorry…” he muttered and quickly turned the conversation to classes and such and brunch ended without becoming too ridiculously embarrassing. Sulu walked with Pavel back to his building and the teen waved goodbye as he stepped inside. Sulu found himself waving back and wondering if just maybe there was a possibility for some sort of friendship with the adorable kid.

Chapter Text

A couple of months passed, and Pavel Chekov was really looking forward to graduation from the Academy. It was only a few more months before graduation and assignment to a starship, and Chekov could hardly wait for his first trip into space. And if he was looking forward just a little to being away from Jason and Erica and the sappy looks they shot each other whenever they thought he wasn’t looking, well, that was his own business.

Erica broke up with him less than a week after his birthday, although she and Jason did try to keep their fledgling relationship discreet. But Chekov found himself spending less and less time in their dorm room, opting to hide out in the library or roam around the Academy grounds. It was rather lonely for the Russian teenager, but there were a few bright spots.

Hikaru for example… Chekov wouldn’t exactly say he had a friendship with the handsome Asian, but they at least acknowledged each other when they passed in the academic buildings or on the grounds. It wasn’t much, but it was more than Chekov would have dared to hope for before.

This particular afternoon, Chekov was walking through the cafeteria with his tray of food, and he was having trouble finding a place to sit. It seemed everywhere he went, he could hear angry whispers or was pelted with bits of paper or food. The results of the latest exam had been handed out, and once again he’d destroyed the curve and was facing the wrath of his fellow students. As he lifted his hand to wipe away something sticky that had struck his cheek, he spotted Hikaru sitting alone a few yards away, watching him intently. Seeing that Chekov was finally looking back at him, Hikaru lifted his eyebrows and pointedly looked at the seat in front of him. Chekov knew how to take a hint, so he hurried gratefully over.

“Hi,” he said, trying to sound cheerful.

“Hey. You guys get an exam back today?”

“Da, how did you guess?”

One of Hikaru’s eyebrows crept up a little and he gazed pointedly at a clump of some kind of food stuck to Chekov’s shoulder. The Russian brushed it away quickly. Hikaru might have been hiding a smile behind the glass of juice he was drinking. “It’ll be better once you’re on a ship… and not in school, being graded and all.”

“Da, of course it will,” Chekov agreed. They sat in silence for several minutes before being interrupted by a tall curvy dark-haired girl, who shrieked joyously when she saw Chekov.

“PASHA!!! Darling, как дела?” [how are you?] she demanded. Her Russian was flawless, but spoken without a trace of an accent, and her rich green eyes were intense as she swooped in to hug him. “I have missed you, I’m sorry I haven’t seen you,” she continued, still in Russian.

Chekov accepted the hug from her. “Natalya, привет,” [hi] he said happily. “I’m well, and yourself?” he inquired, also in Russian.

“Ah, you know,” she said with a laugh, shaking her head and letting her dark curly hair flutter over her shoulder. She was a shockingly pretty girl, but Chekov wouldn’t have made a move on her if his life had depended on it. She was the daughter of a family friend and the only person he knew who spoke Russian as well as he did. Her parents were from Russia, but they had moved to America when Natalya was only a child and she had lost all traces of her accent. “I’m so sorry I missed your birthday, how was it?”

Chekov shrugged. “I have had better ones,” he replied. Natalya’s eyebrows knitted together.

“Yes, I heard that you and Erica are not together anymore,” she said softly. Her eyes flickered over to Hikaru. “And who is this? A boyfriend?”

Chekov knew he probably looked foolish, panicking like this… after all, he knew Hikaru didn’t speak Russian. But to hear Natalya actually say something like that out loud… “Nyet!” he exclaimed.

“Oh, you don’t have to hide things like this from me, Pasha,” Natalya said with a pout. “You are eighteen now, da?”

“Nyet, only seventeen,” he reminded her patiently. Natalya suddenly looked much too shrewd for his comfort.

Hikaru cleared his throat nervously. “Um… I guess I’ll talk to later, Pavel,” he said. “It sounds like you two have some catching up to do or something…” He trailed off.

“Ah, sorry Hikaru… Dis is Natalya,” Chekov said, quickly switching back to English. “She is… she is…” He paused. “Family friend,” he said finally.

“I’m practically his older sister,” Natalya said with a smile. “Except I’m absolute crap at keeping him out of trouble.” She stuck out her hand. “It’s nice to meet you…?”

“Hikaru,” the Asian replied, accepting her hand cautiously.

“Ah, I think I know who you are! Pasha, you told me about him, didn’t you, love? You chased off some bullies or something, right? Mum and Da keep saying that Pasha should come back to live with us instead of staying in a dorm, but I think living here has been good for him,” Natalya said, leaning over to steal a French fry off Chekov’s plate and winking at Hikaru.

“’Talya…” Chekov grumbled.

“Ah, right, sorry, I forgot we don’t like talking about how young we are,” she said cheerfully before launching into an animated discussion of her latest class in diplomacy and negotiations which was apparently her specialty. Then she practically interrupted herself when she saw a gorgeous young African-American woman and an equally lovely red-headed Orion woman. “Oh, there’s Nyota and Gaila! I have to go! I’ll see you later, Pasha!” she exclaimed, kissing his cheek. “It was lovely meeting you, Hikaru,” she said, kissing his cheek too. Hikaru’s eyes widened but he managed to not jerk away from her before she took off to meet her two girlfriends.

“I am sorry about her…” Chekov muttered, unable to keep a shy grin off his face. “She is…”

“Forward?”

“I vas going to say enthusiastic… but dat is da same…”

Hikaru shook his head, but he was smiling. “She’s interesting,” he said simply.

Just when it seemed that this lunch might be salvaged yet, a woman approached their table. Her dark brown hair was pulled in a stern bun and her expression suggested that she would tolerate no nonsense from anyone… ever.

“Professor Baskin…” Hikaru said cautiously.

“Mr. Sulu. You have not responded to my corrections of your thesis.”

Hikaru actually flinched. “My apologies, Professor. I need to do some additional research for that part on page eighteen…”

“You have time for your fencing,” and that word couldn’t have been dropped more acidly if she’d actually spat hydrochloric acid on them, “and you can’t find time to finish your thesis? And I suppose you’ve managed to find the time to finish your piloting simulations?”

Hikaru didn’t answer her, and her lips pursed. Then she turned her attention to Chekov, who had to fight to keep from physically backing away from her intimidating gaze.

“I wasn’t aware that you were acquainted with Cadet Chekov, Mr. Sulu,” she said, and her expression actually softened a degree.

“Mutual friend… just introduced us…” Hikaru muttered vaguely.

“Well you really ought to pick his brain. The boy is an absolute genius, and your thesis could only be improved by talking to him for a while. I expect the quality to improve considerably by the time you hand it back to me,” she said firmly.

“I vould be happy to…” And Chekov trailed off when he saw how tightly Hikaru was gripping his silverware.

Professor Baskin turned to walk away, but then she paused. “Mr. Sulu… I don’t suppose you would be willing to do a small favor for me?”

“What is it?” Hikaru asked warily.

“Well, I have been meaning to send a package to your mother, but perhaps you could…”

“Professor.” The word was ice cold as it fell from Hikaru’s lips. “I am not currently on speaking terms with my mother.”

“I see. Perhaps one of your sisters…”

“They are not speaking with my mother either.”

“Really, Hikaru…” Professor Baskin actually sounded irritated now. “Surely you three would have found…”

Hikaru stood up so quickly that he nearly upended his chair. “My sisters and I do not keep in contact with our parents, Professor. That is not going to change, and I’ll thank you not to ask about my mother again. Good afternoon.” He nodded once to Chekov and stormed out of the cafeteria, leaving behind an irritated professor and a very confused Russian teenager.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu made it all the way back to his apartment before he gave in to the torrent of emotions flooding him. He practically collapsed onto the couch, gasping for breath. He’d known that he was in trouble when Baskin was assigned to be his advisor, but he still hadn’t thought it would be this bad. And for all that to happen in front of Pavel too! His past continued to haunt him…

Shaking his head angrily, he poured himself a glass of sake and indulged himself in a few drinks. His first thought was to message Pavel and apologize, but Sulu was just a little worried about his slightly-lowered inhibitions. But his second inclination was to call up one of his sisters.

It was a no-brainer when trying to pick one to talk to. Although he loved both his older sisters dearly, it was Miko that he turned to when he needed to talk. Slumping in his desk chair, he called his oldest sister up on the vid screen.

Miko was a good-looking 26-year-old who had graduated from law school and started her career as a lawyer just a few months ago. When she answered the vid phone, she was still wearing a perfectly-tailored suit and her long black hair was in a neat bun. She peered at her brother through her tiny black-rimmed glasses. “Hikaru. How are you, dear?” she asked, breaking into a pretty smile when she saw him.

“Miko… how’s lawyering?” Sulu asked with a grin.

“Oh, ‘Karu, it’s going great! This is what I’m meant to do!” she exclaimed joyously. “How’s school going?”

“It’s… fine…” he said with a shrug.

“You’ll be graduating soon, right? Just a couple more months?”

“Yeah… And then it’s off this planet.”

“You’re so lucky! Space travel sounds amazing!”

“Yeah, it does. You’ll be there for the graduation ceremony, right?”

“Of course! I wouldn’t miss it!” Then her expression became serious. “You’re inviting Rina too, right?”

“Yeah, I’m inviting her.”

“Don’t forget to invite Fran.”

“Right… have you met her yet?”

“Oh, yes! Fran’s great. She’s really sweet and nice, and I think she’ll be a calming influence on Rina. I mean, we both know that she needs that kind of presence in her life. …When’s the last time you talked to Rina?”

Hikaru looked down at the desktop. “I called her on her birthday like I always do.”

Miko put her head in her hands for a moment. “’Karu… You speak with Rina maybe four times a year. If you talk six times, it’s a great year. This has to change. You have to move on.”

“It’s hard to move on from something like this. I don’t want to push her…”

“Neither of you are going to be able to move on if you don’t talk. You talk on her birthday, your birthday, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. That’s it, unless I invite you two over during Easter or for Fourth of July. You need to be able to talk more often.”

“I already told you, I don’t want to push her. She never calls me, I’m always the one who calls her. If she doesn’t call me… I’m not comfortable forcing myself back into her life.”

“Hmm… fair enough,” Miko agreed with a sigh. “I’ll talk to her… see how she’s feeling. If you want me to that is.”

Sulu shrugged. “Go for it. I know it means a lot to you. And it’s not like I don’t want to get along with her.”

Miko nodded. Then her eyes sparkled mischievously and Sulu knew what was coming next. “So, my dear little brother… anyone special in your life yet?”

Sulu frowned at her. Pavel’s face appeared in his head, but he shoved that thought away before he could let it slip. Miko was sweet and wonderful, but if she ever found out he’d slept with a teenager, even accidentally… well, given their past, he wouldn’t have blamed her in the least for beating him to within an inch of his life. Naturally, telling Rina about Pavel would be even more out of the question.

“No, Miko, I promise that I’d tell you if there was someone serious.”

“Oh, serious,” Miko said, waving her hand. “Saying you don’t have anyone serious is just code for ‘I’ve slept with a few people, but none of them came back because my weird personality scared them off forever’.”

“Oh, like you have room to talk? What happened to Brad? Or Andrew? Or Yao? Or Katie?”

Miko went bright red. “I thought we agreed not to talk about Katie! That was a very drunk mistake!”

Sulu couldn’t stop himself from grinning. “Then stop the Spanish Inquisition.”

“Fine,” Miko said, sticking her tongue out at him. “So did you want something, or did you just call to chat?”

“The second one,” Sulu said, leaning back in his chair a little.

“Okay then,” Miko said, and she proceeded to update him on her life since the last time they’d talked and the cases she’d worked on. She also told him that Rina had found a very nice job teaching art history at a university on the East Coast where she was living with Fran, her new girlfriend. Neither one mentioned their parents, and Sulu didn’t tell Miko that he’d really called because he’d needed to feel close to at least one of his sisters after Baskin’s callous remarks.

It was over an hour of idle chatter later when Miko finally declared that she needed to go make dinner and get some sleep, so Sulu wished her a pleasant night and shut off the vid screen. He thought about working on his thesis for a while, but the last thing he really wanted to do was think about anything related to Baskin, so instead he curled up on his couch, rereading one of his Westerns and trying to pretend he wasn’t thinking of golden curls and hazel eyes and a charming Russian accent.

Chapter Text

It was less than a month after that disastrous luncheon with Hikaru when Pavel Chekov filed into a large auditorium-style room with the rest of the student body. No one had seemed entirely sure why they’d all been summoned, but he quickly learned that it was because a student had been caught cheating on the Kobyashi Maru. Chekov slumped over in his seat, utterly bored by the proceedings and brooding over Hikaru’s disappearance from his life. From his seat, he also had a perfect view of Jason and Erica sitting together, holding hands and kissing and generally acting like a very loving couple. It was enough to make the Russian teen sick.

Chekov watched disinterestedly as Professor Spock spoke serenely to the animated cadet… what was his name? Chekov tried to recall, studying the boyishly charming cadet with messy hairy and eyes that were blue enough to be seen from his seat in the middle of the auditorium. But as much as he tried to distract himself, Chekov found himself daydreaming about Hikaru again.

Suddenly people were on their feet, stepping briskly out of the auditorium. Something had happened. A messenger had interrupted the disciplinary hearing. Chekov thought he caught the words “Vulcan” and “distress signal” and something in Professor Spock’s rigid posture suggested some level of agitation. The Russian teen found himself swept along with the flow of the other students down to Hangar 1 where all the starships were waiting to be boarded. Hardly able to contain his glee at finally being able to go into space, Chekov hurried over with the other cadets to hear which ship he’d be assigned to. He very nearly squealed with joy when he found that he was being assigned to the Enterprise under Christopher Pike as a navigator. He would have run straight there, but this was the maiden voyage of Starfleet’s new flagship and it would not do for him to behave like an overexcited child on that first occasion.

As he walked towards the ship, he could hear excited cadets calling out to each other as they found out who they’d be sharing a ship with and who they wouldn’t see until they were back on Earth. There were people hugging and talking excitedly everywhere, and Chekov felt his stomach drop a little. Maybe he should go find Jason and Erica… or Natalya. Maybe he’d even be lucky enough to see Hikaru.

He detoured, and he thought a heard a voice with a Southern accent saying “The board will rule in your favor… probably.” Not stopping to wonder what that was all about, the teen kept walking. He was near the Farragaut when he saw Natalya. She and the Orion woman he’d seen her with a few times before were hugging the African-American woman who was their constant companion.

“PASHA!!!” Natalya squealed, spotting him. “Nyota, have you met Pavel? Pasha, Nyota is like my best friend, and she’s on the Enterprise with you!”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Chekov said politely, holding out his hand. She grasped it and smiled warmly.

“Nyota Uhura. You must be Pavel Chekov. Natalya talks about you all the time, and you’re kind of notorious around campus. I think half the people at school have tried to place a curse on you or something.”

“Nyota! Don’t scare him!” Natalya exclaimed.

“Oh, he’s fine, he can handle it, right?” she asked, glancing at him. Chekov felt tongue-tied, not sure what to say to this gorgeous woman in front of him.

“Nattie, we should go, come on!” the Orion woman exclaimed, hugging Nyota again and ruffling Chekov’s curls. “Take care of our friend, okay? I’ll hold you responsible if anything happens to her, I don’t want to have to look for another roommate,” she teased.

“Gaila!” Natalya laughed. “Okay, let’s go. See you guys when we get back!” And the pair turned and joined the queue to get onto their ship. Uhura and Chekov started walking towards the Enterprise.

“Vat is your field?” Chekov asked, finding his voice at last.

“Communications and linguistics,” the girl said with an easy smile. “I’ve lost count of how many languages I’m fluent in.”

“Dat is amazing,” Chekov said. “No vonder you vere assigned to Enterprise.”

“After I had to bully Spock into it. He thought he could have me assigned to another ship. I can’t believe he really thought I would put up with that. Didn’t want to show favoritism my ass…” she added sulkily. Chekov wondered what on earth she was talking about, but he decided not to ask questions. He also decided that he would do his best to never EVER piss her off. Then he heard someone calling his name.

“Pav!!! Pasha!!!”

He turned and saw Erica waving at him. Chekov winced, but he couldn’t very well pretend that he hadn’t seen her. “Hey,” he said cautiously.

“Pav, listen, I…” she began, but then a warning light started flashing.

“We really need to get to our ships,” Uhura said briskly.

Erica nodded meekly. “You’re right. Pasha, I’ll comm you, okay?”

“Sure,” he said absently, trying to stay right on Uhura’s heels.

“Stay safe!” she called, waving to him.

Chekov knew it was petty, but he didn’t look back at her. They hurried onto the shuttle bound for their ship. Once they arrived, he was delighted to find that he’d been placed on the bridge. He quickly began familiarizing himself with the controls and wondering who had been assigned as the pilot. Hopefully it would be someone who didn’t treat him like a child… They would need to get along with each other on the long flight home after taking care of whatever had gone wrong on Vulcan.

“Report, sir,” a lieutenant barked out as he walked around the bridge making sure everything was ready.

“Hikaru Sulu, sir. I’m the pilot.” And with those fateful words, the Asian man that seemed to pop in and out of his life with alarming regularity plopped down into the seat next to him. Chekov couldn’t believe his eyes, or his ears. Hikaru glanced up and saw who was next to him. “Hey.”

“Hi,” Chekov said meekly as all chatter died down and Captain Pike took his seat, talking about the maiden voyage of the Enterprise deserving more pomp than they had time for at the moment.

“Launch sequence engaged,” someone said.

“All thrusters fired. Ready to disengage from spacedock,” Hikaru said, already lifting the ship off. A few moments later, the ship was moving ponderously through space alongside the other six ships. “The fleet has cleared spacedock, Captain,” Hikaru called back to Pike. “All ships ready for warp.”

“Set a course for Vulcan,” the rugged older captain said from his chair.

“Aye-aye, Captain. Course laid in,” Hikaru said, glancing over at Chekov for just a half a second too long.

“Maximum warp. Punch it.”

The rest of the fleet jumped off into the warp, leaving the Enterprise behind. The ship made a low growling noise, but it remained quite stationary. Hikaru frowned down at the console, trying to figure out what he’d done wrong. Chekov felt his stomach clench and he felt embarrassed on Hikaru’s behalf.

“Lieutenant… Where is Helmsman McKenna?” Captain Pike asked.

“He has lungworms, sir. He couldn’t report to his post. I’m Hikaru Sulu.”

“And… you are a pilot, right?” Pike asked with just a touch of sarcasm.

“Very much so, sir…” Hikaru said almost meekly. He poked angrily at some buttons on the console. “I’m… uh… I’m not sure what’s wrong here.”

“Is the… parking brake on?” The sarcasm was almost painful in Pike’s voice. Chekov winced involuntarily.

“Uh, no. I’ll figure it out… I’m just…”

“Have you disengaged the external inertial dampener?” Spock asked from his seat at the science station.

Two spots of color appeared on Hikaru’s cheeks and he gazed determinedly down at the console, pressing the buttons firmly, as though he could erase his errors by hammering away at those innocent buttons. “Ready for warp, sir,” he bit out.

“Let’s punch it,” Pike said mildly, letting the moment pass without further comment.

As they went into warp, Pike told Chekov to make a ship-wide broadcast, so the teen tapped away at the keyboard, which asked for a verbal authorization.

“Ensign Authorization code: nine-five-wictor-wictor-two,” Chekov said, stumbling a little over the difficult V’s.

“Authorization code not recognized,” the computer chirped.

Chekov felt his eyebrow twitch. He glanced up and saw Hikaru looking determinedly down at his console, but he could see from the twitch of his mouth that the pilot was biting the inside of his lip to keep from laughing. But since he wasn’t saying anything, then Chekov wouldn’t have to say anything about the parking brake incident, as he mentally decided to call it from now on.

“Ensign Authorization code: nine… five… wictor… wictor… two,” Chekov tried again, speaking as slowly and clearly as he could. This time the computer beeped in acceptance and Chekov began his announcement, explaining what little was known of the situation on Vulcan. When that was done, he got back to work making sure the ship was on course.

And that’s when a blonde man wearing all black rather than a colorful cadet uniform exploded onto the bridge, shouting about how they were racing towards a trap. Uhura was with him, and she seemed to be backing up Kirk’s story as she mentioned some transmissions she had intercepted. Pike was clearly impressed, and soon had her on the bridge since she could apparently distinguish between the Vulcan and Romulan languages (a rather impressive feat, Chekov had to admit).

It was painfully clear that they should all be prepared for an attack when they arrived at Vulcan. There was dead silence on the bridge, silence except for Hikaru counting down the time until they dropped out of warp. Then there was a moment of pure silence as they took in the sight of several destroyed ships. Then their own ship was rocked by a powerful explosion.

Everyone hit the floor. Hikaru was one of the first back into his chair. Pike tried to right himself. “Sulu! Status!” he barked.

“We can’t take another hit like that!” Hikaru exclaimed, fingers racing over the controls, trying to determine how badly they were hit. Chekov managed to regain his seat next to the pilot.

Then the face of a Romulan appeared on the screen, demanding to speak to Ambassador Spock. The commander in question looked puzzled, seeing as he wasn’t an ambassador at all. The Romulan seemed upset by this, and demanded Pike as a hostage instead. Pike agreed to the terms and gave the conn to Chekov before hurrying off with Kirk, Spock, and Hikaru, leaving Chekov to bite his nails.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu was riding high on an adrenaline rush. He’d been a little worried about having to work next to the young navigator during the mission, but the sheer chaos that had erupted around him had banished all of those anxieties from his mind.

A plan was coming together remarkably fast. Pike would head to the Romulan ship. They couldn’t use the transporter because something was blocking it on a drill. Kirk, Sulu, and an engineer named Olson would be parachuting down to the drill to disable it and regain the use of their transporter. Somehow all this resulted in Kirk being promoted to First Officer while Pike was gone, much to the barely-controlled annoyance of Commander Spock.

The trio waited until the right time to parachute. Kirk glanced over at the impassive Sulu. “What combat training do you have?” he asked.

Sulu simply smirked. “Fencing.” And then he enjoyed the look of disbelief on Kirk’s face. There was no time for further conversation as they leapt from the craft, plummeting towards the surface of Vulcan and the towering drill. Kirk and Sulu pulled their chutes at almost the exact same time, but Olson just kept plummeting. The wind roared in Sulu’s ears, nearly whipping away Kirk’s frantic screams for Olson to open his chute. Finally the young man opened his chute, but it was much too late… he slammed into the drill and there was a horrible crack… Olson managed a scream as one of his legs snapped like a dry twig, then he was whipped around… right into a plume of fire that incinerated him in an instant, ending his suffering. Sulu felt himself gag, but he couldn’t give into sickness now.

Kirk landed and started fighting a Romulan guard at once. Sulu skidded across the surface of the platform, nearly falling off and into the flames to repeat Olson’s fate, but his chute caught onto something solid and he hit the retractor like his life depended on it, which it did! Not even stopping to recover his breath, he pulled out a collapsible foil and flew at another Romulan, knocking him into flames and incinerating him. Seeing that Kirk had fallen off the edge of the drill and was clinging there for his life while another Romulan stood over him, Sulu ran like mad to get there in time. He stabbed the Romulan through the chest and tossed him off the drill and lunged for Kirk, managing to grab the blonde’s hand.

Kirk was gasping, his blue eyes snapping with the adrenaline rush. “Where are the chargers?” he gasped.

“Olson had them,” Sulu said furiously, feeling just a twinge of guilt over his angry feelings toward the recently-deceased cadet. Kirk just shrugged and pulled out his phaser, and Sulu copied him. They fired their phasers at the drill and were relieved to hear a tremendous groaning of metal, indicating that their mission was a success. Then both watched in puzzlement as something fell from the drill, plunging to the surface of the planet far below.

Suddenly the whole drill heaved to one side. Both cadets screamed and swore as they tried to catch their balance, but Sulu suddenly found himself falling. His chute had been abandoned on the drill, so he was utterly helpless as he plunged to meet the planet’s surface, but to his complete shock, Kirk hurled himself from the drill, free-falling towards Sulu just as fast as he could. Sulu stretched upward and managed to grab onto Kirk, pulling on Kirk’s chute to deploy it, but something snapped and their free-fall continued unabated.

The red rocks of Vulcan were roaring up to meet them and Sulu wondered why in the hell his life wasn’t flashing before his eyes like it always did to those characters in movies and books.

And then they slammed into a metal floor. All the breath was knocked from Sulu’s lungs as he lay there, wondering why the hell being dead hurt so damn much. That is, until he heard someone shouting in Russian, and Sulu realized that the metal floor belonged to the transporter of the Enterprise and there stood Pavel, who was practically laughing with relief.

“I told you I could do zat!” he was almost screaming, his whole body quivering as he stood at the controls of the transporter.

Sulu rolled onto his stomach and looked over at the blonde next to him, who looked just as stunned and winded as Sulu felt. “Thanks,” Sulu gasped. Kirk just nodded.

Spock barely even acknowledged them as he strode to the transporter. “The surface of the planet is collapsing. I must find the elders.” And with that, he was gone.

Sulu finally felt capable of standing, so he did so. He couldn’t help but smile when he noticed Pavel grinning at him. Kirk also staggered to his feet and they both leaned against the wall, trying desperately to catch their breath after the adrenaline rush and punishing fall. Sulu tilted his head back so it rested against the wall, blocking out all the sounds around him and trying to get his breathing back to normal.

When he opened his eyes again, Pavel was staring at the screen, desperately trying to track someone. But Sulu could tell from the darting eyes and shaking hands that Pavel was having some trouble. He could hear the teenager's breathing rate increase even from several feet away.

“Nyet… nyet…” he whispered. Then his voice rose as he worked frantically. “I’m losing her, I’m losing her!” he cried, and the panic in his voice seemed to cut into Sulu.

And then Spock appeared, along with several Vulcan elders, including a man who could only be Spock’s father… and Spock’s hand was outstretched, reaching for someone who did not make it, and the normally expressionless countenance on the Academy instructor’s face was now etched with grief, horror, stunned disbelief, and so much pain. And right in his line of sight stood Pavel, hands still poised on the screen, eyes wide with shock and fear. And then Spock turned away to the rest of the Vulcan elders, and Pavel fled the room.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov managed to hide himself away in a deserted corridor before finally breaking down. Try as he might, he knew that for the rest of his life, he would be haunted by the look on Spock’s face and the way his hand reached out for his mother who was no longer there…

But as much as Chekov wanted to grieve and berate himself for losing the woman, there was still the threat of the Romulans to deal with, and Chekov was still the primary navigator on the Enterprise. So he locked away all the agony, put it in a box in his head, and shoved it aside. He would deal with it later, once things had calmed down.

He stepped back onto the bridge, and almost instantly met Hikaru’s eyes. The Asian man was watching him, a concerned expression on his face and a question in his eyes. Chekov looked down, unable to meet his eyes right now. He needed to focus.

Kirk was back, and he and Spock were arguing furiously about whether they should chase the Romulans to rescue Pike or rendezvous with Starfleet. Kirk appeared to want to rescue Pike, while Spock was quoting regulations about meeting the rest of Starfleet. The argument was becoming heated, and just as Chekov and Hikaru rose to their feet to intervene, Spock’s hand darted out to grasp the side of Kirk’s neck, delivering a nerve pinch and dropping the blonde like a stone. Spock threw the young man over his shoulder like he weighed almost nothing and strode away, leaving the rest of the bridge crew bewildered.

A few minutes later, Spock returned. It was several minutes before Hikaru managed to speak. “Er… Mr. Spock? Captain?” he stammered. “What… um… What have you done with Kirk?”

“Cadet Kirk has been deposited where he will not cause any further trouble,” Spock said calmly. “If he is lucky, perhaps we will collect him from Delta Vega later. Set a course to rendezvous with Starfleet.”

Hikaru and Chekov exchanged glances. Although neither knew the blonde rebel well, the fact remained that he had saved Hikaru’s life at the risk of his own, and neither were entirely comfortable with marooning the young man. But Spock was a professor at the Academy and their acting captain, and neither rookie wanted to join Kirk on Delta Vega.

Chekov realized his hands were shaking. So much had happened in just a few hours. But as his hands darted over the familiar controls, he found himself soothed. There was something so comforting about this ship, and he briefly dared to hope that once all this was over and he had graduated from the Academy… perhaps he might be assigned here… His eyes darted to Hikaru for just the briefest moment, admiring the way his dark eyes sparkled as he concentrated. Part of him hoped that Hikaru would be the pilot he worked with… after all, the handsome Asian actually treated Chekov like an equal, not a child.

Hours ticked by, painfully slowly. Under Spock’s icy and barely-controlled gaze, talking was discouraged. Chekov and Hikaru communicated with only the most necessary words, and with quick eyebrow raises and hand gestures.

Just as Chekov found his eyes drifting closed and his mind wandering, a new light lit up on his console. He frowned at the light, trying to remember what it meant. Then it hit him, though the answer did nothing to dispel his confusion.

“Keptin,” he called, attracting Spock’s attention. “Ve have unauthorized access to vater main,” he called out.

Spock frowned, and he looked just as puzzled as Chekov felt. As he tried to pinpoint the location of the disturbance, he spotted Spock leaping to his feet and striding towards the door leading onto the bridge. The Russian teen glanced at Hikaru, who was already on his feet. Both young men followed their captain, and found an exhausted and agitated Jim Kirk, accompanied by a soaking wet man, standing in the doorway.

“Vat de hell?” Chekov choked out.

Hikaru made a confused noise, but cut it off as Kirk and Spock had begun to argue. And Kirk was taunting Spock, which seemed dangerous at the best of times…

And then Chekov couldn’t stop himself from yelping in alarm as Spock’s hand closed over Kirk’s throat, slamming him against a wall and looking more than capable of killing the irrepressible blonde.

Before anyone had to figure out the logistics of prying away an enraged half-Vulcan, a booming voice called Spock’s name, and everyone turned to see Ambassador Sarek standing there. Slowly reason seemed to return to Spock and he released Kirk, quietly agreed that he was emotionally compromised, and left the room as though nothing had happened.

“I like this ship!” the soaking-wet man exclaimed in a thick Scottish accent, a slightly deranged grin on his face. “You know, it’s exciting.”

Dr. McCoy had appeared sometime during the commotion. “Well, congratulations, Jim,” he drawled in his heavy Southern accent. “Now we’ve got no captain, and no goddamn first officer to replace him.”

“Yeah we do,” Kirk said, his expression suddenly serious. And everyone watched in amazement as Kirk walked across the bridge and sat down in the captain’s chair.

“What?” Dr. McCoy finally choked out.

“Pike made him first officer,” Hikaru said suddenly. Chekov whipped his head around to stare. Hikaru met his eyes for a moment and shrugged.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Dr. McCoy exclaimed, throwing up his hands.

“Thanks for the support,” Kirk said sarcastically as McCoy walked away, muttering something about irresponsible man-children who were going to kill them all.

“I sure hope you know what you’re doing, Captain,” Uhura said softly.

“So do I,” Kirk said, still surprisingly serious. Then he made a ship-wide announcement, declaring that he was now the captain of the vessel and they would be going after Nero rather than meeting up with the rest of Starfleet.

At the request of their new captain, Chekov started doing calculations on a transparent board on the bridge, only half-listening as everyone talked about the plan of attack.

“I’m telling you, the math doesn’t support…” Hikaru was saying.

“Keptin Kirk!” Chekov exclaimed suddenly.

“Yes, Chekov, what is it?” Kirk asked.

“Based on the fastest course from Wulcan, I haff projected that Nero vill trawel past Saturn. Like you said, ve need to stay inwisible to Nero or he vill destroy us. If Meester Scott can get us to varp factor four, and if ve drop out of varp behind one of Saturn’s moons, say, Titan, the magnetic distortion from the planet’s rings will make us inwisible to Nero’s sensors. From dere, as long as drill is not actiwated, ve can beam aboard enemy ship.” He took a deep breath, waiting nervously to hear what everyone thought of his idea.

“Aye… that might work,” Mr. Scott said, looking absurdly pleased by the idea.

“Wait a minute, kid, how old are you?” demanded Dr. McCoy.

“Sewenteen, sir.”

“Oh, oh good… He’s seventeen…” Dr. McCoy threw up his hands again in obvious disbelief that they were putting their fate in the hands of a teenager, even if he was a genius.

“Doctor, Mr. Chekov is correct,” Spock said quietly from the back of the group, and Chekov felt his knees go weak with relief. Having someone as brilliant and well-respected as the Academy professor confirm his calculations was more of a relief than he could possibly express, so he barely noticed as Kirk and Spock continued to talk, only snapping to attention when he realized that they were… bantering.

“I would cite regulation, but I know you will simply ignore it,” Spock was saying.

“See, we are getting to know each other,” Kirk said, some of his good cheer and care-free attitude returning.

Chekov and Hikaru promptly sat down at their stations, plotting their course to Titan. It took only a few minutes.

“All stop in three… two… one. Give me one quarter impulse burst for five seconds. I’ll do the rest with thrusters, on my mark,” Hikaru said.

“Aye,” Chekov confirmed, opting to trust Hikaru’s pilot intuition.

“Fire,” Hikaru said calmly before comming the transporter room. “We are in position above Titan.”

“Really?” the irrepressible voice of Mr. Scott queried. “Fine job, Mr. Sulu… Well done.”

Kirk’s voice came over the comm next. “Whatever happens, Mr. Sulu, if you think you have the tactical advantage, you fire on that ship, even if we’re still onboard. That’s an order.”

“Yes sir…” Hikaru said, his voice calm and professional, but his face slightly pale. Chekov licked his lips. Such an order could prove to be a death sentence for Kirk and Spock. It was a terrifying thought.

“Otherwise, we’ll contact the Enterprise when we’re ready to be beamed back,” Kirk continued, as though he hadn’t just told his bridge crew to condemn him to death for the sake of the mission if necessary.

“Good luck,” Hikaru said at last, though it sounded inadequate to everyone within earshot.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu would have been lying if he’d said that he wasn’t nervous as he watched the life signals of Kirk and Spock beam off the ship. And his adrenaline only heightened as Pavel spoke next to him.

“They haff actiwated the drill…”

“Communications and transport are inoperative,” Uhura exclaimed. “Sulu, please tell me you have them. Otherwise, we won’t be able to beam them back.”

Sulu stared at his console, trying to will the signals back into existence, but he knew it was futile. “Kirk and Spock are on their own now.”

What followed were several tense minutes, as Sulu desperately hoped that he wouldn’t have to engage the ship with two crewmembers, as well as Pike, aboard. And the entire bridge crew stood up and cheered when the life signals did reappear and were beamed back aboard.

Only a few minutes later, Kirk and Spock were back on the bridge, hailing the Romulan ship. Sulu couldn’t help but smirk as he watched Spock’s pacifist nature melt away as he icily suggested that the Romulans did not deserve mercy or compassion. But Nero was defiant, and Kirk just shrugged his shoulders, not bothering to argue further with the enraged Romulan.

“Arm phasers, fire everything we got,” he called to Sulu.

“Yes sir!” And Sulu was only too happy to comply with that order.

And with that, the ship was shot at, and it plunged into a black hole, vanishing from their universe.

“Sulu, let’s go home!” Kirk exclaimed happily.

“Yes sir!” But as Sulu punched the thrusters… the ship didn’t respond.

“Why aren’t we at warp?” Kirk demanded.

“Ve are, sir…” Pavel said softly.

Sulu swore under his breath, realizing that the black hole had ensnared them as well. His hands clenched on the edge of his station, wondering (not for the first time on the mission) if they were finished… Kirk was shouting into his comm, pleading with Scotty to do whatever it took to get them out of there.

“If we eject the core and detonate it, the blast could be enough to push us away! I cannae promise anything though!” Scotty exclaimed.

“Do it, do it, do it!” Kirk shouted as the bridge heaved and groaned, straining between the opposing forces of the ship’s warp drive and the black hole. Everyone on the crew was clinging to the nearest stable surface. Pavel had one hand clenched on the edge of the station, but the other grabbed for Sulu’s arm. Normally, Sulu would have had some reaction to that… but not this time.

And then there was a brilliant light behind them as the warp cores detonated, and everyone was slammed forward as the Enterprise lurched forward and flew to safety, the whole ship cheering with joy and relief.

Kirk leaned back in his chair. “Holy shit… Let’s not do that again,” he said finally. “Chekov, Sulu, plot a course back for Earth. It’ll take us a few hours to get there without warp, but at least we’re going home, right?”

Relieved sighs could be heard from all over the bridge as they plodded back to their home planet.

After a couple hours, Kirk determined that they were safe from the black hole and roving Romulans, and he decided that the current bridge crew needed to take a break, so he told them to take a few hours to eat and sleep, summoning replacements from other corners of the ship.

It had been a full day, perhaps a bit longer, since they’d left Earth to respond to Vulcan’s distress call. The crew was relieved to get some sleep. Sulu headed straight for his quarters, and was unsurprised that Pavel was trailing him. The pilot and navigator typically had adjoining quarters, usually connected by a bathroom.

Pavel was silent as he walked behind Sulu, fiddling with his PADD as he walked.

“You okay?” Sulu asked, glancing over his shoulder at the teen. The boy looked exhausted now that the adrenaline rush had faded.

“Fine… I am fine,” he said, shaking his head a little.

Sulu accepted that at face value, and he didn’t ask any more questions. They separated at their respective quarters, and Sulu fell asleep almost immediately.

Only four hours later, Sulu jerked awake from a nightmare about falling off that damn drill again. His heart was hammering in his chest, and his hands shook as he brushed his hair back.

“Fuck…” he cursed, taking several deep breaths. His hands gripped the sheets, reminding himself that he was safe, he wasn’t falling, he was on the starship and everything was fine.

Realizing that he would be lucky to get any more sleep, he staggered to the bathroom and splashed some water on his face before looking at himself in the mirror. The few hours of sleep had done some good, and he didn’t look like the living dead anymore at least. But his nerves were shattered; and he groaned and rested his head on his forearms as he contemplated going back to bed and risking the return of the nightmare.

The door on Pavel’s side of the bathroom opened with a barely audible swish. Sulu glanced up to see the Russian teen in the doorway.

The boy looked like he’d been to hell and back. His eyes had been somewhat red when they’d come down to their quarters, but now they were even more red, and rather bloodshot. His curls were limp and his face was pale.

“You okay?” Pavel asked.

“I think I should be asking you that,” Sulu pointed out, nodding to the mirror. Pavel looked, flinched, and turned away.

“I am not able to sleep,” he said by way of explanation.

Sulu moved away from the sink, leaning against the wall that hid the shower from the rest of the bathroom. Pavel moved to splash water on his own haggard face, absently placing a PADD on the counter. Sulu nodded to it.

“Looking for something to help you sleep?” he asked.

Pavel’s head jerked up and he stared at the PADD as though it might bite him. Quickly drying his hands, he grabbed the PADD and flung it back into his quarters, apparently unconcerned about whether or not it would survive the throw.

Sulu lifted an eyebrow at the odd behavior, but didn’t comment. Instead, he sank down onto the floor and rested his head against his knees. A soft noise in front of him indicated that Pavel had copied his actions.

“Do you… do you tink ve vill ewer… ewer get past dis?” the teenager asked at last.

Sulu looked up to stare into those bloodshot hazel eyes. “I think we’ll be able to live with it eventually. But tonight isn’t that night.”

“Did you haff nightmare?” Pavel asked softly.

“Yeah…” Sulu sighed. “I… I dreamed about falling off the drill.”

The boy looked even paler after hearing that. “I vas… I vas so scared ven dat happened,” he admitted.

“YOU were scared?” Sulu laughed. “God, my heart may never beat properly again!”

They were silent for a minute. Then Pavel looked up, and his expression was much more serious and somber. “May I tell you someting?”

“Sure, anything,” Sulu agreed.

“I… I cannot stop tinking about… about Meester Spock’s face… ven I lost his mother.”

“You can’t blame yourself for that. The cliff collapsed. It wasn’t your fault. Spock knows that. His father knows that. Every single person on this ship knows that.”

“I know… My head knows,” Pavel agreed. “But… Did you see the look on his face?” he asked, his voice dropping almost to a whisper.

“Yeah… I saw,” Sulu whispered back. It had been heart-breaking to see.

“Hikaru?” Pavel asked softly, and Sulu’s heart melted at the way the teen said his name. “Are you sure ve vill be okay?”

“Yeah… It may take a while, but we’ll be okay.”

Pavel managed a weak smile, and his legs uncurled a little, his feet almost but not quite touching Sulu’s. And they sat there in companionable silence until they were due back on the bridge.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov thought he was slowly losing his mind.

Now that the threat of Nero was over and it was back to life at the Academy, he finally had time to think about what had happened, and to really experience the loss of his friends.

It had been so hard to see Natalya’s parents. He’d seen them when they arrived to attend the memorial ceremony for the students and faculty members who had perished in the terrible tragedy. It had been nearly impossible to bear, especially when Natalya’s mother had grabbed him into a bear-hug and held him as though she’d never let him go as she murmured endearments in Russian. Knowing that he would never see the vivacious dark-haired girl again… it was like he’d lost a sister.

Wandering around the campus and seeing the people he barely knew… it hurt. Everyone had lost at least one friend. Seeing groups that had lost members, seeing heart-broken halves of couples… it was hard.

Professor Spock moved around the campus like a zombie. He would never have gone so far as to show emotion over the loss of his planet and his mother, but he went about his tasks so mechanically… And if Chekov looked at just the right moment, he sometimes caught the half-Vulcan professor staring into space, his expression blank, but his eyes filled with unexpressed pain.

Uhura was often seen with her professor, but she could also be seen wandering around campus looking lost and alone without Natalya and Gaila at her side. The trio had been inseparable, and now they were gone.

Even Kirk wandered around in a daze. He was often seen with Dr. McCoy, both appearing shell-shocked on such an empty campus. And the one person Chekov wanted to see, but never saw, was Hikaru. It was as though the Asian man had vanished from campus, and Chekov could never get the courage to comm him.

And then there was that hateful PADD.

Chekov jumped to his feet. He’d been lying on his bed, in the same dorm he’d shared with Jason all year. Jason’s parents, red-eyed and miserable, had been through to collect his things. Chekov could almost convince himself that he was okay in this room now that all signs of Jason had been removed, but it wasn’t really true.

He’d seen Erica’s parents as well. It wasn’t the first time they’d met, and Erica’s mother had clung to him tearfully. Obviously she was still under the impression that they’d still been dating… and Chekov let her think that. It didn’t matter whether she knew about Jason or not. Not really. It wouldn’t change anything.

Banishing that thought from his head, he staggered to the bathroom his room shared with the room next door (the occupants had also perished, so really it was his own private bathroom now) and splashed cold water on his face. Then he looked at his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were bloodshot, with dark shadows under his eyes. He looked exhausted and ill, which was accurate, he supposed.

Returning to his room, he finally thought to look at the clock. It was 3:14am…

Time had no meaning. Chekov barely ate or slept anymore. He certainly wasn’t eating regular meals. He didn’t even remember the last time he’d been in the cafeteria during a normal meal. He hadn’t attended classes in two weeks, ever since he told his professors that he wanted to take his exams early. They’d been accommodating, so he’d been studying on his own. He hadn’t attended any of his labs either. In fact, he spent nearly all his time either in the library or in his dorm room.

It wasn’t healthy, certainly. But Chekov didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to see or speak to anyone, because everyone he saw reminded him of someone who had died. He’d thought about finishing his degree, and then going home rather than going into space. With this degree, he could get any job he wanted back in Russia… but being in Russia would remind him of Natalya. But how could he stay with Starfleet when everyone he saw reminded him of the loss…?

Collapsing back onto the bed, Chekov automatically reached out and grabbed the PADD on his nightstand. He knew he shouldn’t watch the video again, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself… He’d watched it so many times, it was burned into his brain… and yet, he kept watching it, over and over again, sometimes ten times in a single evening.

He found the video almost automatically, starting it up. The pretty blonde figure of Erica filled his screen. She was wearing her cadet uniform, her blonde hair pulled back in a bun, and she appeared to have tucked herself into an alcove of her ship, out of everyone’s way. She smiled at him on that screen.

“Hi Pav! Listen, I’m really sorry that I have to tell you this news this way… I wanted to tell you in person, I really did! But there was just no time… Oh my gosh, I don’t even know how to tell you this, so look!” She held up her left hand and he stared at the class ring glittering on her hand. “Jason asked me to marry him!!!” she squealed. “Oh Pav, if you were here, I’d be hugging you so hard right now… I’m so excited, I don’t even know what to do!”

Chekov chewed on his lip. The first time he’d watched the video, only moments after parting from Sulu outside their adjoining rooms, he had felt like he’d been punched in the gut. He hadn’t been able to breathe.

“I’m sure you’re excited for me! I can’t even believe it right now! You have to help me with the plans! That won’t be weird, right? I’m sure Jason is going to ask you to be the best man, and honestly I can’t think of anyone better! You’re one of my best friends, so you know I want you to be part of this!”

Chekov kept chewing on his lips. It made him sick that she thought… after he had put so much energy into avoiding her and Jason…

“Oh Pav, I wish you were here right now! But at least I’m with Jason! I can’t wait to see you when this is all over though! I miss you… I feel like it’s been forever since we talked.” She reached towards the screen, then stopped. “I love you Pav, you know that, don’t you? Comm me back when you get this, and I’ll see you when we get home. I should probably go now,” she added as sirens began to wail. “Talk to you soon! Be good on the Enterprise, dear!” she exclaimed. “Bye!”

And the message was over, and only moments later… she had died. She had died when her ship was blown to pieces by Nero, like so many other people from Starfleet Academy.

Chekov realized his was sobbing, dry heaving sobs that nearly choked him. It never got easier. Maybe it never would.

He felt sick. He couldn’t breathe. His whole body was shaking. Rising to his feet, he began the slow automatic shuffle towards the bathroom door. Standing over the sink, he stared at his reflection for a moment before opening one of the drawers by the sink. Inside was a box of razor blades. Selecting a fresh one, he ran it back and forth between his fingers, staring at the sharp silver edge.

Then he cradled the blade in one hand while rolling up the sleeve of his shirt. Several white bandages were already wrapped around his wrist, concealing other wounds. Finding an empty expanse on his wrist, he gritted his teeth and drew the blade quickly across the pale skin. A hiss of pain escaped his lips, accompanied by the feeling of a weight being lifted off his shoulders as his intense emotional pain was transferred to physical pain.

He made several cuts in a small cluster, then stood at the sink, gasping, for several moments, watching his blood run down his arm to drip into the sink. Once the flow of blood had subsided to a trickle, he finally rinsed the cuts as gently as he could, applied some antibiotic cream, and wrapped a new bandage around his arm. Then he washed the razor blade, cleaned it with alcohol, and returned it to the box before walking to his room, collapsing into his bed, and falling into a dreamless sleep.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu stared at the three TA’s he was eating lunch with, sure that he had not heard that correctly. “What did you say?”

“I said that the Russian kid, Chekov or whatever, hasn’t been to his lab in two weeks. I really need to talk to the prof and let him know…”

“But…” he began, then trailed off.

“I know, it’s not like him at all. I’m kind of worried,” the TA admitted. “He’s one of my favorites… he’s never missed class before, he always has his work done early, and it’s actually RIGHT! It’s like a breath of fresh air, honestly… Some of the people in these labs, it’s like, how did you even get into this school?”

The rest of the TA’s were nodding in agreement and started trading horror stories. But Sulu didn’t participate in the discussion. He drummed his fingers against the tabletop, lost in thought.

It wasn’t like Pavel to miss class… The boy was brilliant, and he took his education seriously. Something must be wrong… but what right did Sulu have to go barging into the kid’s business?

After a suitable amount of time, Sulu excused himself, deciding to head for the library. He needed to work on a paper, and he would probably get it done faster in the library than in his apartment.

The library was mostly deserted. It was too soon for anyone to be studying for exams yet. Sulu wandered around for a while, looking for a suitable table, when he saw a familiar head of curls. He took a second look to make sure he wasn’t seeing things, but it was really Pavel, deeply engrossed in a textbook and chewing on his thumbnail. Sulu approached him cautiously.

“Pavel?”

The boy glanced up, hazel eyes bright with interest. Sulu couldn’t help but notice that the teen looked every bit as exhausted as he had on the Enterprise, even though they’d been back for almost a month. And Pavel looked like he was losing weight too. Sulu wondered how to broach the subject without sounding too parental or overbearing.

“Hikaru, hi,” Pavel said brightly. “Vat are you doing here?”

“Well supposedly I’m working on a paper,” Sulu said with a shrug. “We’ll see how that goes. You look busy, but… can I sit down?”

“Sure,” Pavel said, moving a pair of textbooks to one side. “And I am not so busy… I am taking exams early.”

“Really? Why?” Sulu asked as he pulled out the chair across from Pavel and dropping into it.

“Vell… I do not know,” Pavel admitted. “I had thought of going back to Russia… but I do not know anymore.”

Sulu wasn’t sure what to say to that. “What about your labs?” he decided at last.

Pavel actually looked guilty. “I haff not vanted to go… I haff been meaning to get exemption.” Then he paused. “Vait, how did you know…?”

“I know the TA of your lab,” Sulu said with a shrug. “He was talking about it earlier during one of our meetings.”

“Is dat vhy you came to find me?” Pavel asked, looking even guiltier.

“To be honest, I wasn’t looking for you at all right now. I really am here to do a paper,” Sulu said, propping his elbow on the table. “But I was gonna comm you and make sure everything was okay. I feel kinda bad that I haven’t checked up on you. Things have just been so crazy around here… you know?”

Pavel nodded. He seemed pleased that Sulu had even thought about him at all, and Sulu had a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach… a mixture of happiness and guilt. The kid was just seventeen after all, and Sulu really should have made more of an effort to make sure he was doing okay. They’d all been through such a traumatic experience after all.

They chatted inconsequentially for a few moments, with Sulu sharing the gossip he’d heard that the mysterious Mr. Scott had already been assigned as the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise and that he’d taken to tinkering with the ship at all hours. Before long, an hour had flown by, and Sulu cursed when he saw the time.

“Shit, I came here to write my paper…” he muttered. “I should go.”

“You can write it here, I do not mind,” Pavel said.

Before Sulu could decide whether or not to accept that invitation, Pavel reached over to grab a PADD and the sleeve of his cadet uniform slid up, revealing crisp white bandages.

“Hey, what the heck happened to you?” Sulu asked as casually as he could.

Pavel wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Is nothing… Just a minor burn,” he muttered, pulling on the sleeve on his shirt.

Sulu could feel one of his eyebrows creeping up to meet his hairline as he stared skeptically. “Is that a fact? Have you been to see anyone in medical?”

“No, it is fine,” Pavel insisted. “I… I am embarrassed I hurt myself in such a foolish vay,” he decided at last.

“Uh huh…” Sulu said. “Well, let’s take you over to Dr. McCoy. He’s a cool guy, and I know he’s not going to care how you hurt yourself. Come on.” And he grabbed Pavel’s arm, barely giving the boy time to grab his PADD and books before hauling him out of the library, ignoring his protests the entire time.

As Sulu had hoped, Dr. McCoy was alone in the clinic, and was perhaps a bit less grumpy than normal. “Hey there Sulu,” he greeted him. “And Ensign Chekov… To what do I owe the honor?” he asked, eyebrows rising on his ruggedly handsome face.

“Ensign Chekov says he burnt his arm, and I thought you should take a look at it to make sure it won’t get infected or anything,” Sulu said.

Pavel was now holding his arm protectively against his chest. “Dis is really not necessary…”

“Kid, if you’re worried that you’re wasting my time, don’t be. That damn fool brat we all had to call Captain on that ship is more trouble than any hundred others on this campus,” Dr. McCoy drawled with his pronounced Southern accent.

Sulu finally let go of Pavel’s arm, but that proved to be a mistake as the teen bolted away, a stammered apology for wasting their time thrown over his shoulder. Sulu fumed silently, glaring at the closed door to the clinic.

“Mind tellin’ me if that was about what I think it was about?” McCoy asked, sitting back down in his chair and gesturing for Sulu to take the other one.

“I wish I knew, Doc,” Sulu said. “I haven’t seen the injuries for myself, but the way he’s acting… I doubt it’s a burn, is all.”

The doctor nodded his agreement. “Have you talked to the kid before today at all?”

“No. I just happened to run into him at the library an hour or so ago.”

“Well, maybe you should reach out to him more… If he is havin’ trouble, it’d be better if he wasn’t alone all the damn time like he is now.”

“You have a point,” Sulu agreed. “I feel awful about this, I should have tried to talk to him earlier. I knew he was having a hard time when we were still on the Enterprise… I can’t imagine being at school has made things any better.”

“What about you? Those sleep aids helpin’ you at all?” McCoy asked shrewdly.

“I guess,” Sulu said with a shrug. “I don't like them, but at least they keep me from dreaming most of the time.”

“I figured those would work. I take them myself from time to time. And I don’t even want to try to count how many people I’ve prescribed them to since we got back. Seems like damn near everyone needs some pills to help get through this.”

Sulu shook his head. “It’s been hard on all of us.”

“That’s for sure,” McCoy agreed. “Well, thanks for bringin’ this to my attention. Let me know if you think the kid’s gettin’ any worse. Don’t want to add another casualty to our list, you know?”

“Don’t even say that,” Sulu said grimly, rising to his feet and heading off. He had a lot to think about now.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov should have been asleep hours ago. Ever since Hikaru had started to message him and spend time with him, Chekov had been making an effort to return to the real world, which meant more conforming to schedules and less lying awake until some ungodly hour of the morning. But some habits were hard to break.

At first, Chekov had been reluctant to accept Hikaru’s invitation to eat lunch with him, considering what had happened the last time they’d spoken… but he’d agreed anyways, and he was glad he had. Now they ate lunch together at least twice a week, and they got together one evening a week to watch movies together (and no, Chekov refused to think of these as DATES; that was a torture to exquisite to contemplate).

But even with the presence of a friend in his life, Chekov’s mind still felt unbearably fragile. In some ways, Hikaru made it worse because it was so hard to hide his continued attraction to the older man…

And here he was, at 2:53am, and he found himself reaching for his PADD again. That familiar video appeared and he closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at Erica, even as he mouthed the words of her little speech along with her.

“Hi Pav! Listen, I’m really sorry that I have to tell you this news this way…”

By the time the video was over, tears stung Chekov’s eyes. He should just delete the video, but somehow he couldn’t bring himself to do it. It was a terrible way to remember his ex-girlfriend, but they were also her last moments alive, and erasing that… it just felt wrong.

He forced himself to breathe. Once, twice… inhale, exhale… He closed his eyes, concentrating on his breathing, his heartbeat, the sound of his blood pounding in his ears… And finally he drifted off to sleep.

A week later, he’d finished his last final. Everyone else would be taking theirs next week. But Chekov wasn’t sure what to do with himself now. He still hadn’t decided whether to stay with Starfleet, return home to Russia, or think up a third option. Deciding not to worry about it tonight, he headed towards a nearby restaurant with a bar. Hikaru often hung out there, and Chekov was hoping that maybe they’d bump into each other.

The place was crowded with cadets trying to have something of a good time before buckling down and studying. As Chekov wove his way between tables, he spotted Hikaru’s familiar face. But he wasn’t alone.

Chekov’s steps slowed. He recognized the other man too. It was Dr. McCoy. Sliding behind a crowd of cadets, Chekov was able to listen to their conversation.

“…hasn’t done anything to make me worry. Maybe it really was just an accident. Or a phase that he got over.”

“I dunno… Suicidal thoughts don’t just go away on their own.”

“We don’t have proof that he DID attempt suicide though. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“Yeah, fine… Just keep an eye on him. I’m not convinced. Ya want another round?”

“You buying?”

“Yeah, what the hell.”

“Then sure. One more round. Then I’m gonna go comm Pavel and see how his last exam went.”

“He took exams early? Ya really better keep a close eye on him then. Ya know what they say about idle hands, right?”

Chekov had heard enough. He felt sick. He’d been so hopeful that Hikaru had actually wanted to be his friend, that they were moving past their awkward one-night-stand into something that could be more meaningful… and he was just spying for Dr. McCoy to make sure Chekov wasn’t suicidal. Hot tears pricked his eyes as he slipped out of the restaurant before he was spotted, and he collapsed onto his bed, feeling more alone than ever before.

It was nearly two hours later when Hikaru sent him a message.

“Hey Pavel, how did your exam go?”

Chekov thought for a moment before typing back. “It went well I think. Now I just need to figure out what to do after graduation.”

“I’m sure you’ll make the right decision,” was Hikaru’s only advice. Not very helpful.

“Are you still coming over to watch a movie tonight?”

There was silence for nearly ten minutes. Finally a message arrived.

“I can’t. I’m really sorry, but my first exam is going to be just awful and I really need to study. Maybe after exams are over?”

Chekov’s heart sank like a stone. So that was that. He recognized the signs of avoidance. The promise of future plans was meant to ease him, but they would never materialize. Now that Hikaru was satisfied that Chekov was mentally stable, there was no reason for them to keep spending time together.

“Okay. Good luck!”

Laying the PADD down on the nightstand, Chekov stared up at the ceiling until the pattern above him swam. He couldn’t think anymore.

Standing up, he walked into the bathroom and carefully unwound the bandages on his arm. The cuts were all healing nicely. A couple of them might scar, but most would never leave a mark. Reaching into the drawer, he grabbed a razor blade, found a patch of bare skin, and made a quick slice. But the flash of pain didn’t remove the twin dull aches in his head and in his heart.

“What’s the point?” he asked his reflection in the mirror. The pale exhausted figure had no answers for him.

There was no point, really. Every option for the future looked so bleak. He was tormented by the ghosts of his lost friends. Hikaru didn’t really care about him, not even as a friend. So why did he bother clinging to this life? There was nothing here for him anymore.

Chekov removed his shirt, wadding it up and tossing it back into the dorm room. Then he looked at his reflection again. He was so deathly pale, he was practically a corpse already. He’d been losing weight at an unhealthy rate. The dark circles under his eyes were so large, it looked like he had two black eyes. He looked like a man on death’s door already.

Twisting his arm, Chekov studied the cuts and their various stages of healing. The one he’d just made was shallow and had already stopped bleeding. He could easily see the pale blue vein snaking its way up his arm and towards his heart. As he stared, he moved automatically backwards to sit with his back against the wall across from the sink.

It was so easy.

The work of a single quick slashing motion.

Slicing lengthwise up his arm instead of crosswise, he opened the vein.

His entire arm became scarlet, a more vivid color than even the Starfleet security uniforms.

And his vision went black, as black as the black hole that had claimed Nero…

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu was feeling guilty. He had JUST gotten done talking with Dr. McCoy about how he needed to spend more time with Pavel to make sure that the teen was no longer harboring suicidal thoughts, and what was the first thing he did? Cancel their usual movie night, of course. But then, he’d never been good at listening to doctors.

Trying to ignore the PADD next to him, Sulu made himself focus on the textbook in front of him. But he couldn’t get Pavel out of his head.

Something was bothering him about the teen’s last message. It had been… short. That was unusual. He could be chatty, especially in a medium that let him communicate without an accent, though Sulu was secretly very fond of it. But there was definitely something wrong about that message… Was it mere disappointment? Sulu just wasn’t sure.

Unable to stand it any longer, Sulu sent a quick message. “Hey, studying is kicking my ass and I could use a break. Want to go grab a soda or something?” It wasn’t much, but it was a start… a small way to make up for ditching the poor kid.

He tried to focus on the textbook again, but it was no use. He couldn’t stop his eyes from wandering to the PADD, waiting for the response. The minutes ticked by… fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty-five… And now Sulu was worried. He knew Pavel wasn’t sleeping… and that was really the only reason it had ever taken Pavel more than a few minutes to reply.

Sulu felt a chill run down his spine, but he couldn’t explain why. There was no real reason to think anything was wrong… And yet… He could not shake the feeling…

Unable to remain in his apartment any longer, Sulu jumped to his feet and headed towards Pavel’s dorm room. The whole way there, he tried to reassure himself.

“He probably went for a walk and forgot his PADD… Or maybe he’s taking a nap… He really needs more sleep… He’s going to be there and he’s going to laugh at me for worrying… Maybe I’ll just pretend I wasn’t worried...”

Coming to the dorm, he pressed the buzzer, waiting for the door to open or for Pavel to speak on the intercom.

There was nothing. Only silence.

Sulu felt himself shiver. He really couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. He pressed a button, but the door was locked.

“Shit…” he muttered. Then he started to knock. But there was still no sound from the dorm. “Pavel? Are you there? It’s Hikaru. Come on, open the door.”

“Access granted,” the computer chirped. There was a distinct click as the door unlocked, then swished open.

“What the hell?” Sulu asked out loud. When did Pavel decide it was a good idea for Sulu to have unlimited access into his room? Any other time, Sulu would have allowed himself to become absorbed in the question and try to figure out the meaning behind it, but right now… he was really worried.

There was still no sound in the dorm. Everything was so still.

The room was nearly spotless. One bed had a slight indentation where Pavel had lain at some point. There was a single shirt crumpled on the floor near the closed bathroom door. And Pavel’s PADD sat on the nightstand, an icon blinking to indicate that there was at least one unopened message. Sulu approached it cautiously, and saw his own name.

Pavel had never seen his message.

Pavel had been away from his PADD for at least an hour.

But where the hell was he?

Looking around some more, Sulu spotted a pair of sneakers sitting under a chair out of the way. The hairs stood up on the back of Sulu’s neck. Pavel always wore those shoes around campus. Where the hell was he?

“Pavel?” he called. He didn’t know why he called out… There was no way the kid was here…

And then he heard a noise.

Sulu was sure he was hearing things. It was such a quiet noise, a soft little moan of a creature in pain, so soft he wasn’t sure he’d actually heard anything. And where could the noise be coming from? Sulu glanced under the twin beds and in the twin closets, but nothing was there.

“….Pavel?” he called again, more cautiously this time. Something was very wrong in this room…

And there was a noise again… so soft that it seemed like a figment of his imagination.

“The bathroom?” Sulu wondered softly. Perhaps that was it… perhaps Pavel had been in the shower and had fallen and hit his head or something… He approached the closed bathroom door and opened it cautiously.

Nothing could have prepared him for the sight he beheld.

There was so much blood…

Starkly scarlet against the white tiled floor… It was everywhere.

And in the middle of it all… lay the crumpled form of Pavel Chekov… one arm sliced open… and a razor blade clutched between his fingers.

“Oh fuck…” Sulu gasped. “Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck Pavel what the fuck have you done to yourself?”

The teen was unconscious on the floor, and Sulu still wondered if he’d actually heard any noises from the bathroom or if something else had drawn him here. Shaking himself out of his daze, he dropped to his knees next to the boy, one hand removing the razor blade from his grasp, and the other scrambling to find the pulse in the teen’s neck.

He couldn’t find it.

“No… no, no, no… Fucking hell, Pavel, don’t you do this to me!” he exclaimed furiously.

There was a towel on the counter, so Sulu grabbed it and wrapped it around the injured arm, trying to staunch the flow of blood. Then his fingers scrambled over Pavel’s milky-white throat, leaving bloody marks as he desperately sought a pulse. Giving up, he put his hand on Pavel’s bare chest, going straight for the heartbeat.

And he found it.

It was faint, but it was there.

Sulu exhaled, relief washing over him. Sure, this was still bad… but he wasn’t too late, there was still time. Grabbing his PADD, he commed McCoy.

“Sulu? Do you have any idea what time it is and how early I have to be at the clinic in the mornin’?” the very grumpy doctor demanded, his Southern accent even thicker when he was half-asleep.

“Doc, I don’t care right now, okay? You need to come to Chekov’s dorm room NOW!”

“What? Why?”

“NOW, DOC!!!” Sulu practically shouted.

Finally recognizing the very real panic in Sulu’s voice, the doctor quietly asked for the dorm number, which Sulu was able to give. Dr. McCoy promised to be there in a few minutes and then he was gone.

Sulu exhaled, carefully rearranging Pavel so the teen’s head lay in his lap. One of Sulu’s hands pressed the towel more firmly against the wound, while the other kept returning to the younger boy’s heart, reassuring himself that it was still beating.

“Fucking hell, Pavel, why did you do it?” he groaned. “Why… why didn’t you tell me something was wrong?” He bowed his head. “Why didn’t I see it for myself?”

He was only a little surprised to realize that hot tears were pricking his eyes.

And still Pavel’s life-blood slipped away…

Dr. McCoy could not get there fast enough for Sulu.

Chapter Text

For Hikaru Sulu, it seemed like an eternity, but it was really only a few minutes before Dr. McCoy burst into the dorm room. The bathroom door still hung open, and McCoy saw the bloodbath almost instantly. He swore rather colorfully at the sight before him.

Sulu knew how it must look. His heart hadn’t properly started beating since he’d first laid eyes on the pool of blood covering the bathroom floor, and the still form of Pavel Chekov in the middle of it all. He looked up to meet the doctor’s eyes.

“What the fuck happened here?” McCoy managed to gasp as he stared.

Wordlessly, Sulu pointed to the razor blade that still lay on the floor where he’d dropped it after prying it from Pavel’s hand.

“Shit…” was all McCoy was able to say.

“He’s still got a heartbeat at least,” Sulu said weakly.

“Not for long, he won’t,” McCoy snapped, slipping into professional doctor mode. He unwound the towel from the teen’s arm, made an irritated noise when he saw the damage to the arm, and immediately applied the vascular regenerator to heal the vein that had been so precisely slit.

“He… he’ll make it, won’t he?” Sulu asked.

“We’ll see… I’ll give him a hypo to stimulate blood production… We’ll just have to wait and see, but he’s hung with us so far,” McCoy said, sounding cautiously optimistic.

Sulu exhaled a breath he didn’t even realize he’d been holding.

“We’ll take him to the clinic where I can keep an eye on him,” McCoy said.

Sulu’s eyes widened. “The clinic? But…”

“But what?”

“If you take him, then…” Sulu bit his lip. “This will become official Starfleet business.”

“Sulu, a suicide attempt is pretty fuckin’ serious in my book, and he did a damn good job of it, don’t ya think? I’d much rather have that on record so maybe the kid can get some help ‘stead of bein’ left on his own to try this again!”

It made sense… yet the thought still made Sulu slightly ill. Or maybe it was the smell of the blood that was still everywhere and had soaked into his clothes and was all over his hands, and… just everywhere.

Seeing the unhappy look on Sulu’s face, McCoy relented a little. “Okay, fine… We’ll at least wait til he wakes up… But if he shows ANY sign of bein’ suicidal, he’s headed straight to the clinic to get some damn help!”

Sulu nodded weakly.

“So what are we gonna do with him?” McCoy wondered. “I’d take him back to my place, but I have to work at the clinic and I’m not comfortable leaving him alone… Jim comes by often, but I have a feeling you want to keep this as quiet as possible,” he said, lifting his eyebrows.

Sulu nodded. “We can take him to my apartment. I live alone, and I was planning on staying there to study anyways.”

McCoy nodded. “Sounds good. Take him back to your place and get him cleaned up. And get yourself cleaned up too. I’ll clean up here and grab some of his things.”

Sulu nodded his approval and gave the doctor his apartment number. McCoy gave Pavel the promised hypo, but the teen didn’t react to the needle at all. McCoy didn’t seem too concerned, but Sulu worried the whole way back. He was relieved that it was so late and dark… he barely saw any other students, and no one could see him well enough to see all the blood or Pavel’s unconscious body.

Back in his apartment, Sulu cleaned Pavel up as best he could, ignoring the red-tinged water as it slipped down the drain. He washed his own hands and threw away his shirt, making up his mind to burn the damn thing the second he got the chance.

Thankfully McCoy arrived minutes later and he shooed Sulu to the side, cleaning Pavel and dressing him in pajamas with the practiced clinical detachment only a true doctor could possess. Then Sulu scooped the boy up in his arms and laid him in his own bed. He’d sleep on the couch.

“Hey Doc, when do you have to be at the clinic?” Sulu asked, wondering if he sounded as exhausted as he felt. Now that the adrenaline and fear had mostly worn off, he was becoming very aware of how insanely early in the morning it was.

“I have a couple hours yet,” McCoy said with a sigh, gazing down at his own bloody hands.

“If you want a shower…” Sulu began.

“Nah… You take a shower. I’ll stay til you’re done, then head back to my place. I need to pick up my scrubs and replenish some of my medical supplies anyways.”

“Okay,” Sulu agreed with a nod. He was so exhausted…

“Chin up, kid, he’s gonna be fine… at least physically,” McCoy amended with a scowl.

Sulu didn’t even try to smile at that. He just walked into the bathroom, showering away the last traces of Pavel’s blood. Then he wrapped the clothes he’d been wearing in a towel and threw it all into the incinerator. He knew he’d never be able to wear those clothes again. After saying goodbye to Dr. McCoy, he carefully scrubbed the bathroom and the few traces of blood that had been tracked from the door to the bathroom. This led to him scrubbing his entire apartment until the whole place reeked of bleach because if he didn’t, he thought he might vomit.

But finally, finally… things were clean. Stepping into his bedroom, Sulu stood next to Pavel, just watching the boy breathe. His arm was a mass of white bandages and Sulu felt sick all over again. He ran his fingers through those soft curls, watching them tumble perfectly back into place. Then, realizing what he was doing, he took a step back. Then he turned and went out to the couch, berating himself all the while. He collapsed onto the couch, tossing and turning agitatedly as he tried to keep his mind from wandering… and finally fell into a restless sleep.

A knock at the door woke him up, and for one unreasonable moment, Sulu thought that someone had found out about what had happened and was coming to take Pavel away. But hearing more knocking, and some Southern-accented swearing, Sulu realized what was going on and he staggered to the door.

Dr. McCoy looked about as angry as Sulu had ever seen him. “Well, don’t you look like a jolly ol’ ray of sunshine,” he snapped.

“Thanks, Doc, you look amazing too,” Sulu said dryly. The doctor’s clothes were rumpled, there were shadows under his eyes, and his hair was mused. If Sulu didn’t know any better… but he did and this was not the time to make jokes.

“As well I should,” he snapped. “Damn fool kids and your damn fool bullshit...” he muttered as he stormed into the bedroom. He took Pavel’s pulse, quick and efficient as ever. “Well he doesn’t seem any worse than he did this morning,” the doctor muttered to himself. “We’ll let him sleep this off, and tomorrow I’ll check the bandage and use the dermal regenerator to clean him up. Nobody will ever know what happened.”

“Thanks,” Sulu said softly, crossing his arms and leaning against the doorframe. It hurt to even look at Pavel’s still form. He rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on.

The doctor’s expression softened. “You look pretty worn out… Do ya want me to stay a while?”

Sulu shook his head. “You haven’t slept yet, and you should. We’ll be okay here.”

“If you’re sure,” the doctor said, but he looked just a little relieved as he headed for the door.

Sulu shut the door behind him and rested his head against the doorframe. “Fuck…” he muttered. He didn’t want to fall asleep, but he was too exhausted to be awake any longer. And taking a sleep aid was out of the question… What if Pavel needed him? He would not sleep through that.

So he walked over to the couch and fell onto it, falling asleep in minutes.

And then the nightmares came.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Pavel Chekov opened his eyes. That was something of a surprise to him. He hadn’t planned on doing that ever again.

His eyes flicked in all directions, trying to figure out where he was. He wasn’t in his dorm, or in the Academy clinic. But there was something familiar about this place…

And then Hikaru walked through the door and it all came flooding back and he knew he was in Hikaru’s apartment, and he honestly thought he was going to be sick.

Hikaru’s eyes widened slightly. “Oh. Hey. You’re awake.”

Chekov stared at him for a moment, then turned his eyes up towards the ceiling. Hikaru hesitated in the doorway.

“Um… do you need anything?”

Chekov pretended he couldn’t hear the other man.

Hikaru shuffled his feet. “Um… okay then…” And finally he turned and left.

Chekov exhaled. He couldn’t explain it, but… he wasn’t ready to face Hikaru yet… or anyone. Well, actually it made sense… Some way, somehow… Hikaru had saved his life. And Chekov wasn’t entirely convinced he should be grateful for that.

Dr. McCoy showed up a short while later. Chekov gave short quiet answers to his questions about how much pain he was in and other symptoms, but when Hikaru walked in, Chekov promptly closed his mouth and didn’t say a word. McCoy looked bewildered, and Hikaru just turned and walked back out… and Chekov refused to feel guilty at the hurt that flashed across Hikaru’s eyes.

As he lay in bed that night, trying to think of anything except removing the bandages on his arm (which McCoy had expressly forbidden, and Chekov didn’t want to risk the doctor’s wrath), he heard noises from the living room. Hikaru… having trouble sleeping from the sound of things. And Chekov quickly squashed all his concern for the other man.

‘He doesn’t want you around,’ a mean little voice in his head reminded him. ‘He’s probably only keeping you here because McCoy told him to. And you didn’t even want to be saved.’

But he couldn’t make his ears block out the distressed noises coming from the living room. Nor could he block out the hurried footsteps and the retching noises that followed. Part of him wondered what was going on, and if Hikaru was okay. But part of him was trying to stay detached. He’d already let himself be hurt badly… he couldn’t allow it to happen again.

When Chekov woke up again, the apartment was dead silent. Hikaru wasn’t there, he was sure of it. And he felt slightly ill, realizing that he had been abandoned.

The door to the apartment opened, and the soft Southern-drawl identified the entrant as Dr. McCoy. The doctor puttered around for a short while, then walked into the bedroom.

“Hey there, kid. Still alive I see,” the doctor said.

Chekov made a noncommittal noise in response.

Dr. McCoy unwound the bandage. He’d used the dermal regenerator on the arm the day before, and the new skin was soft, pink, tender to the touch… and completely free of any marks. It was like a brand new arm, and Chekov had trouble looking at it.

“So how much longer are you gonna be givin’ Sulu the silent treatment?” Dr. McCoy asked in a mock-casual tone.

Chekov glanced down at his lap and didn’t answer.

Dr. McCoy was quiet for a moment. Then, “Ya know, you’re a terrible friend.”

Chekov’s head jerked up to look at McCoy, then his glance darted away again.

“Would ya mind tellin’ me just what ya hope t’ gain by pushin’ away your best friend, the man who saved your damn life?” McCoy asked, and there was an angry edge to his voice, true anger rather than his usual blustery gruffness.

“He is NOT my best friend,” Chekov muttered rebelliously, trying to pull his injured arm away from the doctor.

McCoy just gripped the arm harder, making Chekov wince. “Really now? How d’ya figure that?”

“A real friend vould not haff lied to me and ditched me.”

The expression on McCoy’s face was pure incredulity. “Have you lost your damn mind? He’s studying for his FINALS! Not everyone is a teenage genius like you! Us mere mortals actually have to study!”

“He still lied,” Chekov muttered.

“What did he lie to you about?”

“I thought he vas my friend. Apparently he vas just YOUR spy,” Chekov muttered, glaring at McCoy through the curls that fell onto his face.

McCoy just stared. “Wait… You think I asked Sulu to spy on you to make sure you weren’t suicidal?”

Chekov didn’t answer, but his stare became more pointed.

McCoy just rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. “First of all, I wouldn’t do that. If I’d had any proof, I coulda just summoned ya to the clinic for a psych evaluation. Second, even if I did ask him to spy on ya, ya shouldn’t take it out on him. Third, considering the wound I’m healin’ for ya… I’d say I’d have been pretty damn justified sic’in’ a spy on ya, don’t ya think?”

Chekov opened his mouth, then closed it again. He couldn’t really refute that.

“Now you listen to me, kid… That man who saved your damn life is worrying himself sick over you. I really doubt he’s slept since you did this to yourself. The least you could do is maybe acknowledge his presence once in a while or somethin’.”

Chekov swallowed. The doctor had a point.

“So you’ll talk to him?”

Chekov swallowed, then nodded. “Da… I vill.”

“Good,” McCoy said. Then he stood up. “You’re healin’ up pretty well. Keep takin’ it easy.”

Chekov nodded again, and McCoy left, leaving the teenager alone with his thoughts.

Chapter Text

Even though Pavel Chekov had promised Dr. McCoy that he would talk to Hikaru, he didn’t know what to say and so he found himself not saying a word when the other man returned from his exams looking like he’d been hit by a truck.

“Hey Pavel,” Hikaru greeted him with a wan smile. “You feeling okay?”

Chekov at least managed a nod, but his throat closed up and he couldn’t speak. He was still hurt and angry and confused and his thoughts were still too dark…

Hikaru tried to talk to him some more, but getting no response, he finally gave up. Chekov just stared into space, his fingers tracing the bandage covering the tender new skin on his arm. It was strange to know that there were no longer any cut marks there…

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but suddenly Hikaru was in the room, halfway between the door and the bed. “Hey… can I talk to you for a sec?”

Chekov just shrugged.

Hikaru took a step closer. “Listen… I know you hate me right now.”

Chekov’s head jerked up slightly, but he didn’t refute that.

Hikaru gradually inched closer as he talked. “You may hate me for weeks, months, years, whatever. But I’m not going to apologize to you. I don’t regret saving you because someday you’re going to be glad that I did. You may never tell me so… hell, you may never want to see me again. But you won’t always hate me for doing this, and that’s all that’s important to me.”

Chekov glanced up warily. Hikaru’s cheeks were slightly flushed. There was something… oddly personal about that speech. They stared at each other for a painfully long moment before Chekov dropped his gaze and Hikaru started backing away.

“I’ll be in the living room. Call if you need me.”

Chekov chewed on his lower lip. “Actually…”

Hikaru turned around quickly, almost eagerly. “Yes?”

“…” Chekov blushed a little. “Can… can you help me get up? I need to use the bathroom.”

Hikaru nodded and stepped next to the bed. He easily slipped Chekov’s uninjured arm over his shoulder, letting Chekov lean against him and shouldering his weight easily as they walked. Once they were at the bathroom, Chekov clutched at the counter, his legs supporting him, but only just.

“Call if you need me,” Hikaru repeated. Chekov nodded and closed the door, leaning against it and exhaling.

Hikaru’s bathroom was spotless, which was a bit of a change from the last time he’d seen it. Not that it had been strictly messy, but… this was so clean, it was unnerving.

Shaking his head, Chekov began opening drawers and checking the medicine cabinet. His heart sank. Hikaru had thought this through. There were no razor blades in the bathroom.

Chekov chewed on his lower lip. Then his eyes fell on an empty glass sitting at the edge of the sink. He filled the glass and brought it to his lips, taking a long drink. Then he stared at the empty glass, the leftover beads of water glimmering under the harsh bathroom lighting. And he let the glass fall from his hands, shattering on the floor.

Chekov dropped to his knees, quickly spotting the piece he wanted, nice and long with a good jagged edge, just like a knife. That piece was slipped into the pocket of his shirt, and then he began to slowly and carefully gather the rest of the shattered glass into a pile.

The door burst open and Hikaru stood there, alarm written all over his face. “Pavel! What happened? Are you okay?”

“Fine,” Chekov mumbled. “Just dropped my glass. I’m sorry…”

“No, it’s fine… they’re easy to replicate…” Hikaru said. “Here, let me help you back to bed. I’ll clean up the glass, don’t worry about it.” And he reached out, carefully clasping Chekov’s hand and guiding him out of the bathroom and back to bed. Chekov stared into space as Hikaru quietly cleaned up the fallen glass, and he closed his eyes as Hikaru passed through the bedroom. Hikaru hesitated at the doorway, then turned off the light and closed the door. Chekov managed to fall asleep quickly after that.

Chekov woke up a few hours later and lay in the darkness, listening. The apartment was silent. Hikaru must either be asleep or out… Either way…

Chekov shifted and sat up in bed, turning on the light on the nightstand. Then he broke Dr. McCoy’s only rule, unwrapping the bandage on his arm. The newly regenerated skin was so soft, still tender when he touched it. It was almost beautiful… and yet, the pristine condition angered Chekov. He was so broken… it was like this new skin was an insult.

“Dis time… I vill not fail…” he whispered to himself as he pulled the shard of glass from his pocket. He laid it against his wrist, admiring the effect as the light from the nightstand played on the glass and reflected onto the new skin. He was so absorbed that he failed to notice the bedroom door open.

“What the…!”

And Hikaru was flying across the room, faster than Chekov had ever seen him move before. One hand grabbed for the wrist holding the glass, trying to pull it backwards. The other hand darted between the glass shard and Chekov’s exposed wrist.

An angry hiss escaped Chekov’s lips and he tried to slip the glass around Hikaru’s fingers, but Hikaru was not playing around. He grabbed the glass directly and squeezed it… hard. Scarlet droplets oozed from Sulu’s palm and fingers, bright against the transparent glass.

Seeing the blood that was not his… Chekov froze. He was paralyzed, staring mutely at Hikaru’s injured hand. When Hikaru tried to pull the glass from Chekov’s fingers, the teen didn’t resist. He just sat in stunned silence as Hikaru quietly walked away.

When he returned, his hand was bandaged and Chekov couldn’t decide whether to stare at it or turn away from the sight. He felt sick. Hikaru perched on the edge of the bed, not saying anything. Chekov couldn’t speak either.

Finally Hikaru grabbed Chekov’s hand, placing Chekov’s fingertips against his palm and fingers. “Pavel… do you feel these scars?” he asked, his voice so soft that Chekov barely heard it even though they were so close and the apartment was so quiet…

He nodded. There were a few raised scars on Hikaru’s hands, and he could vaguely remember feeling them on his body that one night… at the time, it had not mattered; and if he’d thought about them at all, he’d assumed they were calluses rather than scars. “Vat happened?” he asked finally.

Hikaru’s eyes were haunted, slightly glazed over. He wasn’t really seeing Chekov… he was seeing something from the past.

“When I was thirteen… my sister Rina tried to kill herself by swallowing pills. She was fifteen.” Hikaru swallowed. “I found her in the bathroom… I called the police, and we got her to a hospital in time. I… I thought she’d be okay after that, but… a month later… I found her in the bathroom trying to cut her wrist with a knife from the kitchen.”

Chekov’s eyes widened. He felt suddenly ill.

“I… I tried to grab the knife from her… We struggled… we fought, really. The whole time… she was screaming that she was going to kill me if I kept trying to stop her.”

Hikaru paused, blinking back tears. Chekov gulped. The enormity of what he’d done was finally sinking in…

Hikaru cleared his throat, finally able to continue. “My oldest sister Miko heard the struggle and she called the police. Rina… she didn’t speak to me at all for about eight months.”

He stopped speaking again, licking his lips and swallowing hard. Chekov blinked, tears pricking his eyes. Hikaru finally looked him straight in the eye.

“I would have willingly died to save my sister from anyone, even herself… I’m not afraid to get hurt to protect people I care about. I hope you remember that later.” He stood up. “Hate me all you want, Pavel, but you’ll never be able to make me regret saving you.”

He started to walk out of the bedroom. Chekov finally found his voice.

“’Karu?”

Hikaru froze. Then he slowly turned around to face the teen.

Chekov licked his dry lips. He didn’t quite know how to ask what he wanted to ask. All he knew was that he didn’t want to be alone anymore, and he didn’t want Hikaru to be alone anymore either.

“Vill… vill you stay… here… vit me?” he stammered, his voice so soft, it was scarcely more than a whisper. At first he wasn’t sure if Hikaru had heard him as the Asian stood there. Finally he turned back around to face the bed.

“Yeah, okay,” he agreed softly. And he crossed the room and settled into the bed next to Chekov, close enough to touch but not actually touching.
Hesitantly, Chekov reached out to rest his fingertips on Hikaru’s palm, right over some of his scars. Hikaru hesitated a moment, then reached out to run his fingers through Chekov’s curls. Chekov made a soft noise of appreciation and closed his eyes, falling asleep almost at once.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu was dreaming.

He was thirteen again, and he couldn’t find Rina… And the bathroom door was closed and she wouldn’t answer his persistent knocks…

And he finally picked the lock on the door and there she was, attacking her wrists with that knife, blood spattering on the walls…

And he screamed for her to stop, and she screamed back that she couldn’t handle IT anymore and she was going to kill herself now and end IT…

And he grabbed the blade of the knife, barely feeling it as the knife cut down to the bone…

And she stared at him, so angry and horrified, like he was the devil himself… and she attacked him with the knife, trying to stab him so he would stop trying to help her…

And she pinned him down on the floor, her blood running down her wrists and dripping onto his arms and face, and her expression was downright deranged as she straddled his chest and held the knife up over his prone body…

And Sulu finally woke up, barely swallowing back the scream that tried to tear itself from his throat. His hands were clenching the sheets in a death grip and he was gasping for breath. Slowly he sat up, running a hand through his hair.

“Fuck…” he groaned. He’d had that nightmare last night too… Tears stung his eyes and he wondered if he should call Rina… or maybe Miko… just to reassure himself that things were fine…

“Hikaru?”

Sulu nearly jumped out of his skin. That was why he’d swallowed his scream, he remembered suddenly. “Jeezus, Pavel! I… didn’t know you were awake…” he decided at last, one hand moving to cover his racing heart. For a moment, he couldn’t remember why it was bandaged…

“Are you okay?” Pavel asked softly.

Sulu couldn’t look at him. “Yeah. I’m fine. Just… bad dream… I… I’ll be right back,” he muttered, sliding out of bed and walking out to the main room of the apartment.

After splashing some water from the kitchen sink on his face, Sulu checked to see if he had any messages on his PADD, then collapsed onto the couch. Realizing it was much too late to call either of his sisters, he thought about sending them messages, but then decided against it. They would only be worried, and he didn’t need to upset them with his nightmares. But he was rattled…

A noise next to him made him jump, and he turned to see Pavel standing in the doorway of the bedroom, clutching the doorframe to stay upright.

“Pavel, what are you doing? You shouldn’t be up yet,” he exclaimed.

“You are upset,” Pavel said. He looked unbearably guilty. “It’s my fault, isn’t it?”

“It…” Sulu began, then looked down. “It’s not…”

“You do not haff to lie to me… I am not a child…”

“It’s not really… I mean… It’s just…” Sulu shook his head. “It’s not your fault that I’m thinking of the past.”

“Da, it is,” Pavel argued. “I reminded you of your sister.”

“You didn’t know,” Sulu said with a shrug. And then he managed a weak smile. “Besides, I’m two for two… I saved her too, you know.”

Pavel wrinkled his nose, not appreciating the joke.

“Sorry, that was tasteless,” Sulu muttered, glancing in the direction of his bookshelf rather than look at Pavel anymore.

Neither one spoke. Pavel looked so pale and exhausted standing there.

“Go back to bed,” Sulu said at last, in as kind a voice as he could manage. “I’m fine, honest.”

Pavel just shook his head. “I vill stay up.”

Seeing no alternative, Sulu stood up and walked back into the bedroom with Pavel. Now that he was no longer riding that emotional roller coaster or adrenaline rush, the intimacy of the situation was unsettling to Sulu and he was perhaps a tad more tense as he lay down. Pavel seemed to feel no such reservations though. He wasn’t quite cuddling, but his head rested against Sulu’s shoulder, and Sulu would have been lying if he said it wasn’t comforting in a weird sort of way…

In the morning, Sulu was up early as usual. He didn’t have an exam that day, so he settled himself down at his desk to study, the bedroom door open in case Pavel needed anything. Dr. McCoy came by later in the morning to check up on the boys. The first thing he saw was Sulu’s bandaged hand.

“The hell happened to you?” the gruff doctor demanded.

“Nothing serious,” Sulu said casually as they walked towards the bedroom where Pavel was reading something on his PADD. “Pavel dropped a glass in the bathroom and it startled me and I cut myself on accident. No big deal.”

“You want me to look at it?” McCoy asked, giving Sulu a look that strongly implied that he would have no choice in the matter.

“Um, sure, I guess…” Sulu stammered.

Pavel glanced at both of them, hazel eyes only slightly puzzled… he had the good sense not to react to Sulu’s lie.

“Mind tellin’ me what the hell you took your bandages off for?” McCoy demanded when he saw Pavel’s bare wrist.

“Dey vere itching,” Pavel said, his hazel eyes now huge and brimming with innocence.

“Hmm…” the doctor muttered, pulling out his tricorder and running it over the boy. “Well, you seem to be recovering much faster than I thought you would… You should be on your feet real soon.”

Pavel managed a grin at that.

The doctor rounded on Sulu. “Bandage off. Now.”

With a long-suffering sigh, Sulu removed the bandage. Pavel made a soft noise when he saw the wound on Sulu’s hand in the more harsh light of day.

“That looks pretty deep. The hell did you cut this on?” McCoy muttered as he examined it. Without waiting for Sulu to answer, he frowned and looked at Sulu’s other hand. “Both your hands are pretty banged up… Ya want me to use the dermal regenerator?”

“No, thank you,” Sulu said stiffly.

The doctor looked puzzled. “You sure?”

“Yeah…” Sulu said quietly. Realizing that both Pavel and McCoy were staring at him, he added, “They’re… reminders. I… would prefer to leave them intact.”

“If you’re sure,” McCoy agreed quietly, giving the young man a hypo to prevent infections. “Keep it clean and let me know if it starts lookin’ funny.” Bidding the boys goodbye, the doctor left.

Sulu tugged irritably at the bandage. This was the worst part, waiting for the injury to heal… Then he noticed the distressed look on Pavel’s face.

“Vhy did you lie to de doctor?” Pavel whispered, hazel eyes now filled with all the guilt he must have been repressing earlier.

“Because I think you’ve got the message now…” Sulu said softly.

Pavel looked uncertain for a moment, then he focused on Sulu with a determined expression. “Vat happened vit your sister?” he asked.

Sulu blinked. “Well… we… er…” He rubbed his eyes. “It’s… complicated. She’s doing well,” he hastened to assure the teenager, “she has a great job as a professor on the East Coast, and she has a girlfriend that Miko approves of. Mentally, she’s doing quite nicely.”

“But… vat about…?”

Sulu glanced down at the bandages on his hand. “She and I don’t talk much… We’re getting a little better I think, but…” He shook his head. Pavel looked like he was going to speak again, so Sulu rushed ahead. “Do you need anything? I really need to get back to studying…”

“Oh, right…” the teen realized. “Nyet, I am fine. You study.”

Sulu managed a grin and he went back to his books. Only a few more finals to go before graduation, and then they would be assigned to a ship… Surely there would be less drama in space.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov was eagerly waiting to learn what ship he’d been assigned to. The brilliant seventeen-year-old had graduated with top marks (naturally!) and really, he ought to have his pick of ships… But there was only one ship he really wanted.

The Enterprise… yes, his short time there had been marred by tragedy, but he wanted desperately to return. He could not forget the feeling he’d had, navigating that ship with Hikaru by his side as pilot… It had felt so… so right.

Hikaru also wanted to return to the Enterprise, he was certain of that… though neither of them really talked about the future. Which was odd, since they spent so much time together… Somehow Chekov had never quite gotten around to moving back to his dorm room once McCoy had given him a clean bill of health. Hikaru hadn’t seemed to mind… the only awkwardness was centered on sleeping arrangements.

It was strange sleeping in the same bed with someone he was so desperately interested in, yet could not pursue… at least, not yet. Chekov had done some thinking while Hikaru had been taking his finals. And he had decided that he would not even consider whether or not he wanted to try to pursue Hikaru until he was eighteen, because it wasn’t fair to either of them if he made any attempts before then. So the obvious solution should have been that one of them slept on the couch, and that’s what they tried to do.

Except it never seemed to work out that way. Hikaru was still having nightmares… He’d woken up screaming more than once, whether it was about his sister Rina, or about falling off the drill, or other memories that Chekov wasn’t privy to… They were painful memories, obviously, but they seemed to occur less frequently if Chekov was curled up next to him.

And Chekov was getting benefits as well. He found that the dark thoughts that had been plaguing his brain since the defeat of Nero mostly went away when he was with Hikaru. Maybe part of that was guilt, but there was something about the other man…

The brilliant James Kirk would be captaining the Enterprise, it had already been announced. Chekov was thrilled, for the young man seemed exceptionally intelligent and quick-witted. He had already proved he was an excellent captain, and he would surely continue to excel.

Of course Dr. McCoy would be the medical officer on the Enterprise, even if he had to hypo every single admiral in all of Starfleet to make it happen. That was the Southern man’s most common gripe when he visited Hikaru and Chekov… Jim Kirk and how much the young man plagued him and made his life hell. At first, this had confused Chekov… but gradually he realized that the gruffness was a mask for a deep bond of friendship and affection.

Uhura was also trying to get onto the Enterprise. She’d received top marks in all her communications exams, and had probably mastered at least one new language during the last few months of school.

Supposedly there was some question over whether Mr. Spock would return to the Enterprise, considering the conflicts he’d had with Kirk already, but Chekov doubted there was much to worry about. Kirk had proved to be a capable captain, surely Spock had seen that.

Chekov was lounging on Hikaru’s couch while thinking these thoughts. Hikaru was sitting at his desk. He’d been chatting with his sister Miko, and Chekov couldn’t help but notice that the older man had very deliberately avoided both the fact that he had a new roommate and that he’d been having nightmares. Hell, he’d even taken pains to hide his bandaged hand from his sister’s prying eyes. Chekov had simply decided to stay quiet. It wasn’t his business what Hikaru said (or didn’t say) to his sister.

Hikaru had only just said goodbye to Miko when his PADD beeped. The pilot grabbed it eagerly. “Awesome! Finally got my ship assignment!”

“Really? Vich one?” Chekov asked.

“The Enterprise!” Hikaru exclaimed brightly. “I’m going to be the main pilot.”

“Congratulations,” Chekov said happily. The word had barely left his lips when his own PADD beeped at him.

Hikaru’s eyes lit up. “Open it! I bet that’s your assignment!”

Chekov gulped. He had a moment of wild panic during which he tried to imagine what life on a different starship from Hikaru would be like, and he didn’t like the prospect. But before he could panic too much, he took a deep breath and opened the message.

“Well?” Hikaru asked leaning forward slightly in anticipation.

Chekov couldn’t think with Hikaru staring at him like that. His dark eyes were glittering with interest and his tongue darted out unconsciously to wet his lips, so fast that Chekov barely had time to notice… but the slight wet sheen left behind on the lips practically screamed to him…

Mentally he slapped himself. Now was NOT the time to get lost in fantasies. And finally he looked down at the PADD, then back up at Hikaru. “Enterprise…” he breathed, so softly that it was like a prayer.

Hikaru actually jumped to his feet. “You’re serious?” he exclaimed.

Chekov nodded. “Chief nawigator.” And he absolutely wasn’t anticipating the enthusiastic hug that followed, though he really should have.

“That’s awesome!” Hikaru exclaimed happily, ruffling his curls. Chekov swatted at Hikaru’s hands, but not as hard as he would have if it had been anyone else…

Yeah, he still had a crush… He had it bad. But there would be time to deal with that later. They were going to be on the same starship, and the tentative friendship they had so painstakingly cultivated would have room to flourish there… at least, that’s what Chekov hoped.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

For the life of him, Hikaru Sulu could not figure out why Pavel seemed to be blushing as he stared down at his PADD before announcing that he’d been assigned to the Enterprise. Had he really been so nervous about ship assignments? For crying out loud, the kid had shattered several Academy records… he had his pick of ships. Sulu was just relieved that he’d made it on board the illustrious ship.

The next few days were spent in a flurry of packing and getting ready to head into space for their first mission. Sulu had to spend several frustrating hours on the vid phone with Miko… she knew that he was going into space, had known for ages that he would… yet now that she was being confronted with the reality… she couldn’t seem to let her baby brother go.

Finally in desperation, Sulu agreed to meet her, Rina, and Fran for a day-long visit before he left. He thought briefly about inviting Pavel before deciding that would be too awkward.

The visit was pleasant, and Rina even hugged him tightly before he departed, whispering in his ear for him to be careful. And he promised he would be even as his fingertips touched her wrists lightly, so soft and free of scars… whoever had treated her back then had been skilled. And he tried hard to avoid letting her notice the scars that he still bore, knowing it was likely to trigger attacks of remorse and guilt, and he didn’t want to put Fran through that… she was a very sweet girl and she seemed good for Rina.

That done, Sulu went back to his apartment for the last night. Everything he owned was in storage already, and the place looked strange… Pavel was there though, having emptied his dorm room at last while Sulu was gone.

“How vere your sisters?” Pavel asked. He was sprawled on the bed, and Sulu knew he had no choice but to join him, the couch having also gone into storage…

“They’re fine, though I thought they were going to smother me…” Sulu said ruefully. “It’s too bad you didn’t get to see your parents or anyone…”

Pavel shrugged. “It vas not so bad… I haff been avay so long already… Dis is not much different.”

Sulu tried to imagine a world in which he was not close to his sisters and didn’t mind not seeing them for months or years… He couldn’t do it. Seeing a message on his PADD from his mother, he deleted it without even reading it before kicking off his shoes and collapsing onto the bed next to Pavel.

“You vant to vatch a film?” Pavel asked.

“Sure,” Sulu agreed, leaning over to stare over Pavel’s shoulder at the screen of his PADD, barely noticing how Pavel pillowed comfortably into his chest…

The next morning, bright and early, the pair headed to the Enterprise at last. Uhura waved to them as they took their seats on the bridge, and Kirk gave them both cheerful nods, though he seemed oddly anxious and kept glancing at the door… It was then that Sulu noticed that Commander Spock wasn’t on board… But there was no time to dwell on that.

“Engineering thrusters and impulse engines at your command, sir,” Sulu called to the youngest captain in Starfleet history.

“Veapons systems and chutes on standby,” Pavel put in.

“Dock control reports ready, Captain,” Uhura added.

“Bones, buckle up,” Kirk called teasingly to Dr. McCoy, who shot him an annoyed glare. The grumpy doctor seemed to be biting his tongue harder than usual. “Scotty…” Kirk called into the comm, “how we doin’?”

“Dilithium chambers at maximum, Captain,” the cheerful Scottish brogue called, then they could all hear him yelling “Get down!!!” in an annoyed tone at someone in Engineering.

Kirk tried (and failed horribly) to repress a smile. “Mr. Sulu, prepare to engage thrusters.”

It was during that very brief time period when Kirk’s eyes were NOT on the door that Spock entered the bridge. Seeing him, Sulu glanced at Pavel, who was wide-eyed and unable to stop staring as the half-Vulcan approached the captain he’d so recently battled and then reconciled with.

"Permission to come aboard, Captain,” Spock said softly, in his usual precise clipped tone.

Kirk almost jumped as he turned, and a welcoming smile appeared on his face as his blue eyes sparkled in a way none of them had ever seen before. “Permission granted.”

Spock remained as impassive as ever as he spoke. “As you have yet to select a first officer, respectfully, I would like to submit my candidacy. Should you desire, I can provide character references,” he added with just the slightest quirk of his eyebrows to show that he might be teasing the captain, something Sulu was pretty sure Vulcans weren’t supposed to do…

Kirk grinned, obviously also picking up on the humor. “It would be my honor, Commander,” he said, his smile surprisingly warm. Then he glanced at Sulu. “Maneuvering thrusters, Mr. Sulu.”

“Thrusters on standby,” Sulu called out, feeling his whole body tense up in anticipation of liftoff.

“Take us out,” Kirk commanded.

“Aye aye, Captain,” Sulu replied. And the ship was zooming through space, Earth fading away behind them…

Sulu glanced over at Pavel. His navigator had an excited grin on his face as he stared down at his console, and Sulu was sure his own smile mirrored it. Their adventure was really beginning.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov was bored.

Oh, he didn’t REALLY mind waiting for Hikaru on movie night… Okay, maybe he minded a little… Sure, it kind of bothered him that Hikaru had the botany lab and his fencing to keep him busy while Chekov only had his running… but he really didn’t begrudge Hikaru his time on his hobbies.

Chekov took a deep breath, glancing over at his PADD. No, he reminded himself sternly, he was not going to give in and watch the video again. Instead he resolutely lifted up the book he’d been reading, ignoring the hateful device nearby.

All too soon, his fingers were drumming on the desk he was sitting at to read. He thought about going over to Hikaru’s room to wait, but he still wasn’t completely comfortable being alone in his best friend’s room, even if Hikaru had said a hundred times that Chekov was welcome whenever he wanted. He glanced at the PADD again and bit his lip.

It wasn’t often that his dark thoughts came back to invade his mind… The Enterprise was a rather busy ship and Chekov usually had something to occupy himself with. But in these idle moments, when Hikaru was busy elsewhere… Chekov ran his hands though his curls and decided it would be smarter to go to the botany lab rather than stay here alone.

Arriving at the science labs, he headed straight to Hikaru’s corner of the botany lab. He’d spent enough time there since they’d boarded the ship to get there blindfolded, so he was a little surprised to be intercepted by a petite redheaded girl.

“Pavel! Hi! What are you doing here? I didn’t know you were interested in science… Well, life science at least, I know you’re a genius when it comes to physics,” the girl babbled, one hand landing on his arm and creeping up towards his elbow.

Chekov stared at her hand for a moment in confusion as he tried to recall the girl’s name. Lisa? Louise? Lindsey? “Uhh…” he stammered.

She smiled at him, cute little dimples appearing on her face. She was way too eager, really… Chekov was uncomfortably reminded of Erica and the first time she’d propositioned him…

“Um, I am just looking for Hikaru,” he managed to say at last.

And that was a flicker of disappointment crossing her face. “Oh… I should have known,” she said sadly. Then she brightened up again. “You work alpha shift, don’t you? We should meet up for lunch sometime. I mean, that’s normally breakfast, one of the sucky parts of being on beta, you know, but still…”

“Err…”

“You should meet some of my friends here in the science labs,” she continued. “After all, us recent graduates really need to stick together, don’t you think?”

“Um… Eef you say so,” Chekov said, wishing she would remove her hand from his arm. It seemed rude to ask her to let go…

“Well, I should let you go and get back to my work,” the redhead (Lucy?) continued brightly. “Maybe I’ll see you for lunch sometime soon?”

“Maybe,” Chekov managed to say at last. And he finally pulled his arm away from her grip and stepped over to Hikaru’s lab bench.

The handsome Asian was gazing resolutely down at a plant and didn’t seem to be paying attention to anything else, so Chekov propped his elbows on the counter and waited for him to look up. When he did, Hikaru only gave him a quick half-smile before returning to his notes. Deciding to stay out of the way, Chekov retreated to a nearby stool and scrolled through his PADD quietly, occasionally glancing up to watch Hikaru work.

They’d been in space for over two months already, and they’d fallen into a very comfortable routine. Working together was nice, as was the dinner they often shared together. Many nights they would either go to the gym where Chekov would run and Hikaru would practice his fencing. They occasionally went to the common room to play videogames or play cards with their crewmates, and Hikaru often worked in the botany lab. But one night a week, they would retreat to Hikaru’s quarters to watch movies together, just the two of them. And it was absolutely NOT a date.

Although Chekov had not given up completely on his crush, he had forced all romantic thoughts to the back of his mind and simply enjoyed the company of the man he now considered his best friend. And Hikaru seemed to appreciate the company just as much. And if Chekov occasionally fell asleep during the movie only to be awoken by Hikaru and sent back to his own room, well neither of them mentioned it outside Hikaru’s quarters.

And sure, maybe they did touch a little more often than best friends probably should, but Hikaru didn’t seem to mind the occasional hand brushes, or when Chekov rested his head on Hikaru’s shoulder or chest (and was it his fault that the other man was so comfortable?). Chekov certainly had no reason to want this to change. They were comfortable with each other, that was all that really mattered. His eighteenth birthday wasn’t for nearly three months yet…

Chekov was snapped out of his reverie by a pair of fingers snapping only millimeters from his nose. “Huh?”

“Hey, there we go… What the heck, man? I’ve been calling you for at least a couple minutes,” Hikaru said with a grin on his face, though there was something a little forced about it, and Chekov couldn’t quite figure out what was up with that…

“Oh, sorry,” he said, feeling his cheeks heat up. “I vas just thinking….”

“Must’ve been some deep thoughts,” Hikaru said. “What brings you down here anyways? I told you I’d be done by 2030, and it’s only…” He paused to check the clock, “only 1957.”

“Oh…” Chekov muttered, scuffing one foot against the crisp lab floor. “I got bored,” he said, shrugging.

Hikaru’s eyes darted down, and Chekov followed his gaze down to his own hands, and he realized that the ring finger of his right hand was unconsciously moving up and down the palm of his hand, exactly where he’d cut Hikaru… Stuffing his hand into the pocket of his jeans, he shook his head quickly.

“Anyvays, are ve still vatching a film tonight?” he asked quickly, trying to cover that little action.

Hikaru was still watching him with concerned eyes. “Um… yeah. Yeah, okay, let’s go,” he said, turning to leave the lab. Chekov followed on his heels, resolving to pay more attention to his hands and wondering how many times he’d performed those little movements when his thoughts became too dark…

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu was definitely NOT jealous!

Nope, not even a little bit jealous of the way Leslie was hanging all over Pavel. After all, she had never bothered to hide her interest in Pavel, and he had no claims on Pavel; his best friend had every right to want to date someone who was only nineteen and really cute and he needed to stop thinking about it. Glaring almost sternly down at the plant in front of him, as though it was the reason for his rising frustrations, Sulu hammered down on the screen of his PADD with more force than necessary to make his notes.

Pavel finally broke away from Leslie and walked right over to Sulu, propping his elbows on the lab bench, waiting for Sulu to acknowledge him. Sulu forced a quick smile before returning to the hapless plant and PADD screen. After a few minutes, Pavel seemed to give up, retreating to his usual stool and settling in.

Sulu ignored the boy for as long as he could stand to, which was a surprisingly long time. Finally he concluded that he needed to get over this jealousy thing… There was no reason to believe that Pavel was interested in him anyways, and the kid was still underage… this was just asking for trouble. So he looked up and found Pavel staring off into space, hazel eyes glazed over in thought. Sulu lost himself in watching the boy for a few minutes.

Yeah, Pavel looked really good… so relaxed in the jeans and t-shirt he’d decided to wear during his off-duty hours, with those endearing curls tumbling every which way and those quick little hazel eyes that seemed to see everything except for how deep Sulu’s feelings ran…

Shaking himself away from that train of thought, Sulu called Pavel’s name. No response. Sulu blinked, then tried again. Still nothing.

This wasn’t really unusual, the boy could get lost in thought pretty easily… Sulu liked to tease him that his train was easily derailed, and Pavel always chuckled, though Sulu wasn’t completely certain that Pavel understood the joke. Sulu waited a minute, then called him again. Still Pavel remained lost in thought. With a sigh, Sulu laid his PADD on the counter and stepped in front of the boy, knowing exactly what to do to break the trance… He snapped his fingers, and watched Pavel blink and return to reality.

Not quite able to shake the jealousy he was still battling, he bit off a quip about how long it had taken him to get Pavel’s attention, embarrassing the teen. As they chatted, Sulu couldn’t help but notice the way Pavel’s ring finger was moving. Confused, he repeated the action on his own hand, tracing his newest scar… Oh…

Suddenly aware of Sulu’s scrutiny, Pavel realized what he was doing and shoved his hand into his pocket, quickly asking if they were still watching a movie that night. Sulu agreed, knowing better than to try to call Pavel out on his strange behavior. And although he kept a close eye on the teen as they watched their movie, the teen seemed to be actually paying more attention to his hands now, keeping them resolutely still.

Halfway through the second movie, Pavel’s head dropped onto Sulu’s chest and he was soon asleep. Hesitantly, Sulu ran his hand through those soft curls, smiling as Pavel made a contented noise in his sleep. As much as he objected to that action when he was awake, he sure did seem to enjoy it when he was asleep, or very tired. Sulu rested his hand in those silky curls and wondered if Pavel was really doing as well as he appeared to be…

The next day, they took their lunch break at the same time as usual. But as they walked into the mess hall, Sulu noticed Leslie and a few of her friends from the science lab, looking like they’d just dragged themselves out of bed. Leslie had spotted Pavel and was waving eagerly. Sulu swallowed his jealousy firmly and pointed her out to Pavel.

“Oh…” Pavel said softly. “She did say she vanted me to meet her friends…” He glanced uncertainly at Sulu.

“Go eat with them then,” Sulu said with a shrug. “You might make some new friends, eh?”

“Are you sure?” Pavel asked. “You vill not haff anyone to eat vit you.”

“No worries, I really need to read a paper on that plant I’m studying… some revolutionary stuff…” Sulu said vaguely. He gave Pavel another gentle nudge. “Go on, I’ll see you back on the bridge.”

After one more uncertain glance, Pavel finally walked over to Leslie’s table and was welcomed by all. After all, he worked on the bridge, it was like a magical land for the little science geeks, Sulu thought affectionately. He settled himself at an empty table and opened up the paper he’d mentioned, though he wasn’t really reading.

“Hey Hikaru, you okay?”

Sulu glanced up. “Hey Nyota,” he said, a bit of surprise creeping into his voice. “I’m fine, how about you?”

“Oh, no complaints,” she said with a bit of sarcasm, leading Sulu to wonder what was really going on with her. But before he could ask, she jumped ahead of him. “Did you and your boyfriend have a fight or something?”

“Huh?” Sulu asked intelligently, even as his brain went into panic mode.

“Pavel’s not eating with you. Did you two have a fight?” the pretty communications officer repeated gently.

Sulu shook his head. “No, we didn’t have a fight. I told him to eat with them, expand his social circle and all that. And he’s not my boyfriend.”

“If you say so,” she said, sounding way too amused.

Stomping down his rising irritation, he asked, “Where’s YOUR boyfriend?”

Her face clouded. “You really don’t pay attention the ship gossip, do you?” she asked.

“Uhhh…?”

“Spock and I broke up a couple weeks ago,” she said with a shrug. “It just wasn’t working… Plus I think he has his eye on someone else, but that’s not really any of my business.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Sulu said automatically. “Wait, does ship gossip say I’m dating Pavel?”

Nyota paused to consider that. “Not directly,” she said at last. “I mean, it’s not like anyone has ever seen you guys kiss or even hug or anything… And he’s underage…” She lifted an eyebrow as she said that.

“Yeah, I’m aware,” Sulu said dryly. “We’re just friends anyways.”

“So the fact that you can barely keep your eyes off of him, and that you’re wound up tighter than any coil I’ve ever seen now that’s he eating with other people, that all means nothing?” she asked.

“Pretty much,” Sulu said, taking a quick drink from his glass of juice to cover any emotion that might flicker over his face.

She still looked skeptical, but she let the matter drop and they had a very pleasant chat about ship matters. As they finished their meal, he offered to clear her tray, and when he returned, he politely took her elbow to help her to her feet, all perfectly gentlemanly. And she smiled that sweet smile and thanked him for the pleasant lunch. And as they started leaving the cafeteria together, Sulu saw Pavel watching the two of them and his expression was… oddly hostile. Leslie had her hand on his arm as she talked to him, but suddenly Pavel shook her off, said something that made her look completely confused, and then the teen was walking as quickly as he could towards Sulu and Nyota. Sulu glanced at the young woman next to him and could have sworn she was trying to repress a grin.

“Nyota, what…” he began.

“Hikaru, Nyota, wait up!” Pavel called, only a few paces away now. He caught up with them, and his hand unconsciously brushed against Sulu’s.

“Hey Pavel, have fun with the other geeks?” Sulu couldn’t resist teasing.

Pavel sniffed. “As if you vere not just as bad…” he muttered. “Dey vere nice I suppose,” he added as he fell into step next to Sulu. Nyota kept pace on his other side, still looking… smug? Was that right? Why would she look smug?

Sulu still hadn’t figured it out by the time they reached the bridge. But he shrugged it off and took his seat next to Pavel at their consoles. Pavel was fidgeting more than usual, and his right ring finger was twitching the most, darting up and down his palm.

“Pavel? Is… Is everything okay?” Sulu asked cautiously.

Pavel blinked, forcing his right hand to sit still on the console. “Da, I am fine,” he said softly.

Sulu let the matter drop… This wasn’t a conversation to have on the bridge, after all. But he silently resolved to go talk to Dr. McCoy later… The doctor was a fountain of good advice and even better whiskey. Perfect combination. Decision made, Sulu got to work, hoping that the rest of the shift would pass quickly.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov was silently fuming. His resolve to wait until he turned eighteen before pursuing Hikaru was shattering into a thousand pieces every time he saw Nyota sitting with Hikaru at lunch.

Chekov was suspicious that the one or two afternoons a week that he spent with the science lab staff was just an excuse for Hikaru to spend more time with the most attractive woman on the entire ship. Without fail, if Chekov sat with the people from the science labs, Nyota moved in to claim the seat across from Hikaru. And the sight made it hard for Chekov to see straight.

The voice of Leslie, the redheaded lab tech, was a faint buzz in his ear as he watched Hikaru and Nyota. They seemed to be talking casually, but it was hard to be sure. Hikaru could be hard to read when he wanted to be… And Nyota was an attractive single woman…

Chekov fumed silently. Really… what would be the harm of just letting Hikaru know that he was interested? In dropping a few hints that maybe after he turned eighteen… maybe something could happen…

“Pavel!”

His head jerked slightly and he realized that Leslie was glaring at him. “Huh?” he asked intelligently.

“You haven’t heard a word I’ve been saying!” she exclaimed indignantly.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “Just… a lot on my mind…”

Her expression softened immediately. “Oh, of course… It must be so difficult for you, being the chief navigator and everything,” she almost purred, her fingers dancing across his sleeve. She never could stay mad at him, even when his attention wandered like it had today.

Chekov stared at her hand, then at Hikaru and Nyota… and the pieces clicked into place almost audibly.

He stood up abruptly. “Please excuse me, I haff only just remembered dat I need to speak vit Lieutenant Uhura,” he apologized. The other lab techs said their goodbyes and he could not get over to Hikaru’s table fast enough, dropping down into the seat next to Hikaru with a relieved sigh.

“Hey man, what’s up?” Hikaru asked with a gin and a light touch to Chekov’s arm. Nyota saw the touch and she smiled, and Chekov felt more puzzle pieces appear in his brain.

“Nothing,” he said with a shrug, “I vas getting bored listening to all the science talk…”

“You? Bored? Of science?” Hikaru asked, his eyebrows rising skeptically. “Not likely. What’s really going on?”

Chekov felt heat explode across his cheeks and he knew he was blushing. “Oh… it… it is nothing,” he stammered.

Nyota put a hand to her mouth to try to hide a grin. Hikaru just looked confused.

“It’s not nothing, something must have happened,” he argued, his expression gradually turning to concern.

“It is just…” Chekov hesitated, not sure how much he should say in front of Nyota. He was saved from having to figure that out when said woman realized that they really needed to get back to the bridge. She walked a few steps ahead of her, and although Chekov did take a moment to appreciate the way her hips swayed as she walked ahead of them, he focused on Hikaru quickly, and was gratified to see that the other man also took only a quick look before focusing on the teenager next to him.

“Talk after shift?” Hikaru asked. “If you want to, that is… I didn’t mean to pry.”

“It is fine,” Chekov said with a shrug.

After their shift ended, they started walking towards the science labs, even though Chekov really didn’t want to go anywhere near there… But he really wanted to talk to Hikaru.

“So what’s up?” Hikaru asked him once they were alone, strolling through the corridors side by side as they often did.

“Vell… it is Leslie…” Chekov said with a sigh. “She… She is so pushy. I do not know how to tell her to go avay…”

Hikaru’s eyebrows went up. “You’re seriously not interested in her?”

It was Chekov’s turn to lift his eyebrows. “You are?”

Hikaru snorted. “As if. Not my type. But she is pretty cute and she’s obviously interested in YOU, so I guess I just assumed…” He trailed off and shook his head.

“Assumed vat?” Chekov pressed.

“Nothing, don’t worry about it,” Hikaru said.

Chekov moved quickly to get in front of Hikaru, stopping his progress. “I am not understanding… Vat did you assume about me and her?” he tried again.

Hikaru tried to sidestep him. “Look, it’s not important.”

Chekov blocked him. “Da, it is important.”

“Why?” Hikaru asked, trying to sidestep him again.

Chekov’s hand darted out, catching the other man’s sleeve just below his shoulder. “Vere you jealous?” he asked incredulously.

“Jealous? Why would I be jealous? It’s not like we’re dating or anything!” Hikaru protested, a bit of color seeping into his cheeks at that.

Chekov licked his lips. “Vould you like to be?”

Hikaru’s eyes widened and he took a step back. “Whoa, what? Where did that come from?”

Chekov shrugged. “Someting I haff been tinking about… I vas not going to say anyting until I vas eighteen…”

“Well, it’s kind of late for that, don’t you think?” Hikaru muttered, glancing at the wall over Chekov’s shoulder.

Images of their drunken one-night-stand sprang into Chekov’s head and he gulped. This was not the time to be having inappropriate fantasies. “Vell, I enjoyed it. But ve haff become such good friends… I did not vant to make it veird…”

“But…?” Hikaru questioned.

Chekov licked his lips again. “Seeing you vit Nyota…”

Hikaru tried (unsuccessfully) to cover his laugh with a cough. “Oh man, I knew she was up to something… Crafty woman…”

Chekov just shook his head. “So… vat do you tink? Do ve… Do I haff a chance?”

Hikaru ran his fingers over his forehead, brushing his hair back. “Jeeze, Pavel… I… I haven’t even thought… You’re still a minor, remember? I… I know it’s coming up, but… Jeeze, I wasn’t planning… I didn’t think… I had no idea…” He looked so lost at that moment.

Chekov just grinned. “Dat is okay. I vas not expecting an answer. But…” And he took a step closer to Hikaru, who took a step back. “I just vant you to be avare…” He took another step, and Hikaru took a step backwards, his back hitting the wall of the corridor, preventing further retreat. “…dat I vill be eighteen wery soon…” One of his hands landed on the wall just above Hikaru’s shoulder, and the other next to the Asian man’s waist. “And den dere vill be no more running from me… I vill vant an answer, okay?”

Hikaru was just a hair taller than him, so they looked into each other’s eyes easily. Hikaru’s eyes were wider than he’d ever seen them before, the dark pupils blown up with surprise… and perhaps desire, Chekov dared to allow himself to hope. Their noses nearly touched, breathing in each other’s exhales, the tension so thick between them…

And Chekov could not stop himself from closing the distance and kissing those slightly parted lips so close to his own.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu’s brain had shut down completely. At first he had simply been stunned and confused by the obvious desire that sprang up in Pavel’s hazel eyes. Then the aggression… shit, he’d never dared to fantasize that the adorably innocent teenager could even BE that dominating. Something in those sparkling eyes had made Hikaru retreat, and when he’d felt the cool metal wall at his back… Pavel had seen it, and he’s responded to Sulu’s inability to move with astonishing speed.

If he had wanted to, Sulu could certainly have pushed Pavel to the side and fled down the corridor to the science labs… Pavel was so slender and delicate, it would have been simple… But then there would have been the hurt in those hazel eyes to deal with, and Sulu really didn’t want to have to do damage control later… and maybe there was a small part of him that was REALLY turned on by this whole situation.

And then Pavel’s arms were on either side of him, blocking his retreat. Yeah, make that a large part of him was turned on as Pavel stood so close, their noses nearly touching as Pavel admonished him that someday he’d have to stop running away.

Sulu heard all that through a haze. He was mesmerized… Those soft curls, fluttering as he breathed… Those hazel eyes, so intent on him… Those lips… soft-looking, slightly pouty, just begging to be kissed… NO! No, no, no! He squashed that thought frantically as they stared at each other. But it was like Pavel had read his mind… and he twisted his head, and he closed the distance between their lips.

It was a charged kiss, sending shivers down Sulu’s spine, and jolts of electricity down to his fingers and toes. He couldn’t even move as Pavel’s lips worked lightly against his. All he could think about was that night on the dance floor… when this incredibly sexy young man had approached him and kissed him with no warning and Sulu had known at that very second that he was taking that amazing kisser home and getting him into bed if it freaking killed him…

This was the first kiss they’d shared since that night, so perhaps Sulu could be forgiven for the sudden and severe brain damage that he’d apparently undergone in the last few minutes…

Pavel nipped lightly at his lower lip, and Sulu’s lips parted further with a faint whine. Pavel’s tongue darted out, running across Sulu’s lower lip, practically pleading for more access. Still too shell-shocked to really respond, Sulu let his lips part further. Pavel’s tongue invaded his mouth, gently probing and prodding, trying to provoke a response…

And that tongue began to withdraw, and his teeth nipped at Sulu’s lip again, finally jolting him from his shocked state and he finally moved, meeting Pavel’s lips with his own, and Pavel was starting to press his body against Sulu’s, and where the hell was this going…?

“Ahem.”

Sulu’s eyes flew open. Pavel’s did as well, and it was a downright miracle that their tongues were in their own mouths or someone’s tongue probably would have been bitten. Both turned their heads toward the sound of the cough, and there stood Commander Spock.

‘Oh hell,’ Sulu thought desperately. This… this was not going to be good.

Instantly Pavel’s arms were back at his sides and Sulu was off the wall and they were side-by-side and facing the ship’s First Officer, who was definitely not impressed by what he’d stumbled upon. Not that Spock was impressed by much, but the way his eyebrows had drawn together… Oh this was really bad.

“I will not insult anyone’s intelligence by asking what is going on here,” Spock said dryly. “Lieutenant Sulu, you will accompany me to the Captain’s quarters.”

“Yes sir,” Sulu said promptly, spine straightening.

“Perhaps I should…” Pavel began.

“Ensign Chekov, you are dismissed,” Spock said coolly. “I suggest you continue to your original destination.”

Pavel gulped and started backing away from the intimidating half-Vulcan. Then he turned and soon rounded a curve and was out of sight, leaving Sulu alone to face his superior officer’s wrath.

Commander Spock turned and started towards the lift, and Sulu knew better than to be left behind. He followed obediently, wondering just how much trouble he was going to be in… Probably a boatload… Oh, this seriously sucked…

In an impossibly short amount of time, they found themselves at the door to Captain Kirk’s quarters. Spock buzzed for entrance.

“Yes? Who is it?” the Captain’s long-suffering voice asked resignedly.

“Captain?”

“Oh! Spock! Come on in!”

Sulu lifted an eyebrow at that, but he was NOT commenting. The door swished open to admit them.

Jim Kirk was sprawled on his bed, his head hanging off the foot of the bed, nearly touching the floor. His hands were pressed to cover his eyes, and they slowly slid up to force his hair into an even more mussed-up pattern than usual. Finally he opened his startlingly blue eyes and smiled, though the smile faded a little when he saw Sulu in tow, and a look of confusion appeared.

“Hey Sulu!” he said cheerfully, finally contorting his body into a sitting position. “What’s up?”

“Captain,” Spock practically snapped, his tone even more clipped than usual. “I have brought Lieutenant Sulu here for disciplinary action. It would be more appropriate if you would conduct yourself in a manner befitting a starship captain.”

Kirk blinked. “Disciplinary action?” he repeated bemusedly. A half-grin slid onto his face. “Sulu, you rebel, what have you been getting up to?” he teased.

“This is not a laughing matter, Captain,” Spock snapped. “I have just discovered Lieutenant Sulu in a compromising position with Ensign Chekov. This is far more serious than the simple starship pranks you are used to dealing with.”

Kirk actually looked stunned. “You caught Sulu and Chekov…” He paused, then made a vague hand gesture.

Sulu gritted his teeth. “He did not catch us doing… THAT,” he practically spat. “He caught us kissing, that’s all.”

Kirk visibly relaxed. “Oh, kissing… What’s a little saliva exchange between friends, eh?”

Spock’s expression seemed to darken, though Sulu could not pinpoint what made him look more foreboding since his expression hadn’t really changed. “Captain, may I remind you that Ensign Chekov is still underage, and that any sexual conduct between him and anyone over the age of majority is…”

“Yeah, I know, but… Kissing, Spock? I mean… come on,” Kirk protested weakly. “I’m not inclined to throw my pilot in the brig for a little kissing.”

“The type of kisses being exchanged were those of a rather intimate nature, and typically is only found in conjunction with a rather more intimate relationship,” Spock said carefully.

Sulu crossed his arms. “There’s nothing like that going on between us, sir.”

Kirk’s eyes darted between Sulu and Spock. He looked a little lost. Finally he managed a weak grin. “Wow, Sulu, I never took you for a cradle-robber… I figured that cute redhead that’s always trying to hang off his arm would be the one to debauch our innocent navigator…” He trailed off at the look on Spock’s face.

“Captain, the sexual molestation of a minor is not a laughing matter and I find your lack of concern very disturbing.”

Kirk gulped. “Of course I’m taking it seriously, Spock, but I…”

Sulu sighed. The captain was going to cave, it was perfectly obvious. “Captain, I will again insist that there is nothing sexual or even romantic about my friendship with Ensign Chekov… But since you have the word of a superior officer that there was misconduct on my part, I will accept whatever punishment you give me.”

Kirk looked surprised. “But… Sulu… these are pretty serious accusations… And they’d go on your permanent record…”

The words ‘permanent record’ made Sulu’s stomach lurch unpleasantly, but he stood his ground. “I understand that, Captain.”

Kirk sighed, massaging his temples with his fingers. “Well… this is unpleasant… But I guess I have no choice, I…”

The intercom at the door was buzzing frantically, over and over again in short staccato bursts. All three of them stared at the door with varying degrees of surprise and confusion on their faces.

“What the hell…?” Kirk mused. “Computer, open the door.”

And Sulu really wished he could be surprised that Pavel was the person who walked in the door… but he wasn’t. Not really. But he wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing for him.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov knew he must look at least a little ridiculous. Slightly breathless and flushed from his mad dash to his captain’s quarters, he was focused on one thing only… helping Hikaru.

“Keptin, vait, please!” he panted as he stumbled into the room.

The pure astonishment on Kirk’s face would have been pricelessly funny at any other time. Spock’s eyebrows lifted perhaps a fraction of an inch at the ensign’s appearance. Hikaru looked a little surprised, but not nearly as surprised as Chekov thought he would be. He was just a little gratified to realize that Hikaru must know, deep down, that Chekov wasn’t going to just abandon him.

“Ensign Chekov…” Kirk began, then he shook his head. A grin was tugging at the corner of his mouth. “You must have something awfully important to tell me, huh?”

Chekov took a deep breath, hoping his heart would stop racing. “You cannot punish Hikaru,” he managed to gasp.

Spock was surprised enough that his eyebrows rose a noticeable amount. “Ensign Chekov, it is not your place to decide what sort of punishment Lieutenant Sulu receives, even granting that you were the victim of…”

Chekov was already shaking his head. “Nyet, dis is not true. Keptin, you cannot punish him because…” He took another deep breath, “I am de one dat kissed him, not de other vay around.”

Kirk was definitely losing his battle with the grin that kept breaking out. “Is that a fact?” he asked, just barely keeping the laughter from his voice.

“Da, it is,” Chekov said, standing a bit straighter. “Ve vere talking and I told him I vas jealous of the vay he has been talking vit Lieutenant Uhura, and he said dat ve vere not dating, and I told him dat I vanted to be, and I stopped him from valking avay by grabbing him and I kissed him, so you cannot punish him because it vas my fault.” He said all that in a rush, mostly telling the truth, simplifying the story just a little…

Kirk could not stop himself from laughing now. “Oh my god, that is the funniest thing ever!” he exclaimed, nearly doubling over in peals of laughter. “Chekov, I never took you for the aggressive type! I always figured that you’d be the one captured and forced into a lip-lock, not the other way around!”

Hikaru seemed rather nonplussed by his captain’s reaction, as did Spock. Hikaru shot a quick glance at Chekov, who managed a half-smile. Spock just stared at Kirk.

“Captain, regardless of whether or not this statement is truthful, it does not excuse the actions of Lieutenant Sulu… Even if the kiss was initiated by Ensign Chekov,” and from the tone of voice, it was clear that Spock did not believe that this was the case, “the lieutenant was certainly reciprocating by the time I approached.”

Hikaru’s eyes half-closed at that. Chekov wanted to grin, remembering the elation that had raced through his body when Hikaru had finally (finally!) responded… He’d been so nervous, thinking he was being rejected… but Hikaru HAD responded to him… If they weren’t in front of Spock and Kirk, he’d be dancing for joy, or perhaps trying to coax another kiss from the handsome Asian…

“Yeah, but…” Kirk trailed off. Then his eyes lit up. “But is what Chekov is saying true? Was he…” Kirk’s grin widened. “Was he actually pinning Sulu to the wall?”

Spock blinked. “My vantage point did not offer adequate sightlines to determine if there was… pinning, as you put it… but the lieutenant certainly had his back against a wall, and Ensign Chekov appeared to be… preventing his departure,” he said at last.

Kirk nodded slowly. “Okay,” he said, plainly coming to a decision. “Listen, Chekov, the law is pretty damn clear… even though you were most likely the instigator, the law doesn’t actually make such distinctions. By all rights, I should be tossing Sulu in the brig and having him court martialed.”

Chekov gulped, glancing helplessly at Hikaru. He had never meant for this to happen, never thought about the consequences of his actions. Hikaru’s lips were pressed into a thin line, but he was ramrod-straight, ready to accept whatever punishment Kirk dished out. Chekov’s gaze darted back to Kirk, silently pleading with him.

“However…” Kirk began, and Spock’s nostrils flared about a millimeter as he realized that Kirk was about to let Sulu off the hook. “The law isn’t always correct… But you two need to be aware of how serious this is. That means absolutely no more of this. If ANYONE catches you kissing or whatever, anything that looks romantic in nature, I WILL take action.”

“Captain, I must object,” Spock began.

“We will discuss this later, Commander,” Kirk said, pulling rank on Spock for the first time that Chekov had ever seen. He belied the seriousness by adding, “Perhaps over a game of chess later?”

Spock thought for a moment, then inclined his head. “That would be acceptable.”

Hikaru shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “So… things are cool now?” he said slowly, just a bit of hope making its way into his voice.

Kirk nodded. “Yeah, we’re good. But no more make-out sessions until Pavel’s eighteen, got it? That goes for both of you!” he added, sending a mock-stern glare in both of their directions.

Spock cleared his throat. “With all due respect, Captain, do you really believe it wise to allow Lieutenant Sulu and Ensign Chekov to interact in an unsupervised setting?”

A muscle worked visibly in Hikaru’s jaw. “Are you seriously suggesting that as soon as we’re out of your sight, we’re gonna go off and…” He trailed off, making a vague gesture. “Christ, he’s seventeen! I’m not a fucking idiot!”

He was losing his temper… Chekov knew he should step in… But he couldn’t think of anything to say, and he was afraid to open his mouth without knowing exactly what was going to come out…

“No one said you were an idiot…” Kirk began.

“The likelihood that the pair of you are engaged in an inappropriate relationship, given the empirical evidence, is 93.785 percent,” Spock said flatly.

“What kind of empirical evidence?” Hikaru growled, and Chekov could swear he heard teeth grinding.

“Given your evident closeness, your lack of additional companionship during off-duty hours, the… obvious display of affection we have recently discussed, in addition to Lieutenant Sulu’s family history…”

“You shut the fuck up right now,” Hikaru snarled. Everyone in Kirk’s quarters was taken aback by the pure venom in his voice.

“Whoa, Sulu, what…” Kirk began.

“Lieutenant Sulu, your behavior…” Spock also started to speak.

“How dare you…!!!” Hikaru practically growled, never taking his eyes off the half-Vulcan first officer. “You actually think…!” He couldn’t seem to form complete sentences. Finally he turned and pushed past Chekov, out of the captain’s quarters, and out of sight.

“What the fuck just happened?” Kirk asked.

Chekov didn’t wait to see if Spock would answer. He ran out into the corridor. “Hikaru, vait!” he shouted.

But his best friend was gone.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu barely made it back to the bathroom adjoining his quarters and Pavel’s before emptying his stomach of its contents. His whole body heaved and shuddered, as though the horrible implication behind Spock’s words could be purged along with everything he’d eaten that day.

‘Calm down, calm down,’ he told himself. ‘You’re nothing like him, nothing like either of them…’ A few more dry heaves racked his body. “Fucking hell,” he groaned out loud.

His whole body seemed to crumple there next to the toilet as he took several deep breaths. But finally it occurred to him that Pavel would probably be back soon… And he wasn’t ready to face his friend just yet…

He stood up slowly, but his body shivered and shook, and he could barely stay upright. Going to the gym or the botany lab would be right out. Sulu rinsed his mouth and brushed his teeth, not looking at his reflection in the mirror, too frightened of what he might see staring back at him…

Then it hit him… And he stepped out of his quarters, relived not to meet any Russian teenagers as he moved through the quiet corridors. Soon he found himself standing at the entrance of the medical bay.

“Hikaru? What are you doing here?” a voice called as he entered. He glanced up to see Christine Chapel. They’d had a few classes together at the Academy, though he wouldn’t go so far as to say they were friends.

“Hey Christine… I… I was hoping to talk to Dr. McCoy if he has a few minutes. It’s not serious though, so if he’s busy, I can come back or… or something…”

She gave him a searching look. “Why don’t you wait in his office?” she said at last. “I think he could spare a few minutes for you as soon as he’s done with his current patient.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to be a bother…”

“Go wait in his office,” she repeated more firmly, and Sulu found himself obediently turning and walking into the CMO office a few paces away. Christine followed him, making sure he sat down in the chair opposite McCoy’s desk. “He’ll be here in a few minutes,” she said, shutting the door with a firm click.

Sulu would have chuckled if he didn’t feel so rotten. She was the most no-nonsense woman he’d ever met, and he guessed that served her well in the medical bay.

Closing his eyes, he pressed his palms to his forehead, noting that it was still a bit clammy and damp with sweat. No wonder Christine had looked at him the way she had… he realized he must look like absolute shit.

The soft clunk of a glass bottle hitting a wooden surface made him sit upright. Dr. McCoy was sitting down in his chair, a bottle of whiskey and two glasses sitting on the desk between them. Without preamble, the doctor said, “I talked to Jim a little while ago… Heard ya got into some trouble earlier.”

Sulu couldn’t stop himself from scuffing his toes against the floor. He tried to mutter a response, but everything he thought of just made him sound like a guilty schoolboy.

McCoy poured whiskey into each glass, nudging one towards Sulu, who picked it up. “So what part do ya want to talk about?” he asked.

“I… I don’t know…” Sulu groaned, his head resting on one hand, the other still clenched around the untouched glass of whiskey.

McCoy took a long drink from his tumbler. “Jim says Chekov chased ya down in the hallway.”

“Yeah…” Sulu said, his mind dashing back to that wild possessive look in Pavel’s eyes… “I… I didn’t even realize… that he felt that way.”

“You didn’t?” McCoy asked, looking surprised.

“Well… no… How could I have?”

McCoy took a sip of whiskey. “Well… ya did save his life, ya know. And then ya spent so much time tryin’ ta help him recover… You two are real close, any fool can see that.”

“Yeah, but…” Sulu trailed off. “I dunno, it was never something we talked about.”

“Damn bad luck that that hobgoblin showed up when he did, huh?” McCoy said, lifting an eyebrow.

Sulu just shook his head. “I don’t even know.”

“Look, Spock may have a bug up his ass about what he saw, but I don’t think you’d be that dumb, especially when the kid’s turning eighteen in just a couple more months,” McCoy said bluntly.

Sulu finally lifted his head long enough to drink half the glass of whiskey in one gulp, relishing the burn to his throat and stomach, still so raw from being sick… “There are some things you don’t know.”

“If this is about your parents…” McCoy hesitated.

Sulu’s head snapped up and he finally looked the doctor in the eye. “Most people don’t know about that. How do you…?”

McCoy shrugged. “I was in San Francisco for a medical conference during the trial. It was big news in the city, ya know…”

“Yeah… I know…” Sulu muttered. “Believe me, I know.”

McCoy’s expression softened. “I know it must’ve been hard for you. I remember spending a lot of time reading about the trial and thinking of my little girl, and just… just wondering how anyone could ever… ever do those things… to their own kids…”

Sulu closed his eyes for a minute. Then he opened them again. “I… don’t want to be like him.”

“You. Are. Nothing. Like. Him.” McCoy enunciated each word clearly and precisely, somehow losing every trace of his Southern drawl.

Sulu blinked. “But… Doc… you don’t understand… I…”

“I understand plenty,” McCoy said firmly. “I know it ain’t that easy, but I’ll say it anyways… Put it outta your mind right now.”

Sulu took another sip of whiskey so he wouldn’t have to say anything in response. McCoy was right. It wasn’t that easy. But he could try.

“Now go find that troublemaking brat that wants to be your boyfriend and talk this out like grown-ass adults, okay?” McCoy said.

“Yeah… yeah, okay. Thanks Doc,” Sulu said, draining the tumbler. He wasn’t sure how much he’d have the courage to say, but he couldn’t hide out in medical any longer. So he would go back to his quarters, try to process the events of the day, and he would talk to Pavel if that’s what Pavel wanted.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov was pacing around his quarters. Hikaru hadn’t been in his room… Chekov had gone over to check. And now he was desperately pacing and waiting for his friend to return.

“I knew dis vas a bad idea,” he muttered under his breath. “Dis is vhy I promised myself I vould vait until after my birthday…”

And now Hikaru was in trouble with Spock, who would definitely be keeping a close eye on both of them after today’s little incident… He was trying hard to be relieved that Kirk hadn’t seen fit to punish Hikaru for Chekov’s rare lapse in judgment. He had those lapses with alarming regularity around Hikaru though…

Halting his pacing, he tilted his head towards Hikaru’s quarters. He was almost certain he’d heard the whisper of a door opening and soft footsteps crossing the room. Chekov chewed on his lip. Part of him wanted to dash right over there and apologize… But part of him wondered if Hikaru was mad enough to throw him right out of his quarters. And he was scared to find out.

But finally he could stand it no longer, and he crept over to their shared bathroom. He hesitated at the door to Hikaru’s quarters, staring at the door as though it might bite him, wondering if he should knock or go right in. ‘Damnit, now everything is going to be awkward between us,’ he thought bitterly. ‘If only I’d kept my mouth shut, and kept my hands to myself…’

Hearing footsteps in Hikaru’s quarters, Chekov backpedalled as fast as he could, standing at the sink and pretending that he hadn’t just been staring intently at his best friend’s door.

The door swished open, and Chekov turned his head to finally get a good look at Hikaru. He looked like he might have a headache, and Chekov’s stomach twisted uncomfortably.

“Hey,” he said, feeling a little shy, and not knowing what to say. Asking if Hikaru was okay seemed just silly… and apologizing seemed necessary, yet not a good idea at the same time.

“Hey,” Hikaru said, just the barest edge of caution in his voice.

“I’m really sorry,” Chekov blurted out before he could think about it any longer. “I vas being stupid and not tinking about vat vould happen is someone saw us…”

“It’s okay, really,” Hikaru said, trying to stem the words pouring from Chekov’s mouth.

“It is not okay!” Chekov yelped, feeling hot tears sting his eyes. “You could haff been court-martialed and thrown in jail and it vould haff been all my fault!”

“Pavel!” Hikaru exclaimed, bringing Chekov up short. “It’s fine. Honest. Nothing bad happened, so let’s just…let’s just move on, okay?”

“But shouldn’t ve…”

“Talk about it? Yeah, probably, but I really really don’t want to do that tonight, okay?”

Chekov licked his lips. He really wanted to talk, but Hikaru was obviously not ready, so he nodded.

Hikaru exhaled, a look of relief appearing briefly on his handsome features. “Okay. Great. You… uh… wanna come over and watch a vid?”

“Sure,” Chekov agreed, relieved that he wasn’t being exiled for his impulsive behavior.

Hikaru grinned and turned back into his quarters. Chekov followed him. Hikaru sprawled onto his bed, hands interlocked behind his head and a sigh of contentment escaping his lips. Chekov perched cross-legged next to him and selected a cheesy sci-fi movie. As it was queuing up, Hikaru tilted his head in Chekov’s direction.

“Is that the only thing you regret, that you almost got me in trouble?”

“Vell… one more ting…” Chekov said, staring at those soft lips and wanting to taste them again. “I vish I had vaited until ve vere back here…”

Hikaru’s dark eyes met Chekov’s hazel ones and they stared at each other for a moment, tension thrumming in the air between them. Chekov shifted slightly, wondering if he dared lean in for another kiss. And then there was a knock at the door.

Hikaru blinked, his expression caught between relief and exasperation at the interruption. “Enter,” he called as Chekov casually shifted to a more appropriate position. And he was immediately relieved that he’d done so because in walked none other than Commander Spock.

Hikaru’s eyes rolled up to stare at the ceiling. “Commander, to what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”

“Since the captain refuses to take the threat of an illegal relationship between the pair of you seriously, I have taken it upon myself to observe your behavior and prevent opportunities for intimate encounters.”

“Wow, subtle,” Hikaru muttered. He gestured towards the vid being projected on the wall across from the bed. “As you can see, we’re engaged in the terribly nefarious activity of watching a cheesy movie.”

“And you are watching the movie from the same bed.”

“We’re both fully-clothed, on top of the blankets, with a good six inches of space between us,” Hikaru snapped.

Spock’s eyebrows moved just a bit. Chekov coughed nervously.

Hikaru got to his feet. “If you’ll both excuse me for a minute,” he said icily, stepping out into the hallway.

Chekov glanced down at the comforter he was sitting on, his fingers idly tracing random patterns across the cloth. Spock was still standing stiffly at attention, his eyes fixed on the door Hikaru had just departed from. The silence was awkward between the pair of them, but Chekov wasn’t inclined to break it, and Spock seemed in no rush either.

A few minutes later, Hikaru walked back in, trailed by none other than Kirk.

“Keptin!” Chekov yelped, completely thrown by his appearance. “Vhy are you here?”

“Sulu called me,” Kirk said with his usual easy grin, jerking his thumb in Hikaru’s direction. “He was making an argument that this kind of behavior is harassment, but I think an equally fine argument could be made that this is a great bonding experience for all of us.”

Hikaru blanched, and Chekov bit the inside of his lip to stop himself from smiling. Spock just stared at their captain.

“Captain, I do not think…” Spock began, but Kirk crossed the room and threw himself down on the couch, propping his feet on the end of the bed. He patted the seat next to him and gave Spock a pointed look. Spock made a noise that might have been a sigh of frustration, but he seated himself primly on the couch.

Hikaru glanced at Chekov, who just shrugged. Hikaru then returned to his former position sprawled on the bed, while Chekov remained perched cross-legged next to him. It was awkward sitting there with their two superior officers mere feet away, but Chekov was still pleased that Hikaru was even talking to him, and he grinned at Hikaru, who managed to smile back.

The movie was every bit as cheesy as advertised, and Kirk seemed to enjoy it, laughing uproariously at the terrible special effects and over-exaggerated acting. Gradually Hikaru also seemed to relax, though the little frown line between his eyebrows seemed to deepen every time Spock’s black eyes landed on him. Chekov made himself more comfortable on Hikaru’s bed, propping his head up on one hand, and making sure to keep space between himself and Hikaru at all times. Gradually his eyelids began to droop, and he found himself nodding off, feeling content and comfortable with his crewmates.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu was NOT HAPPY. First Spock had to be a meddling prick, then Kirk decided to make this some kind of weird double-date or something… But he couldn’t let himself be too angry because if there was company, then Pavel wasn’t going to be able to talk with him or ask any questions about the events of the evening. And Sulu needed more time to think. Really, he shouldn’t have even invited Pavel over, but seeing those huge hazel eyes, practically brimming with panic and desperation… He couldn’t reject that for fear that Pavel would read more deeply into it than he should.

He wasn’t really paying attention to the movie, only laughing when he heard Kirk’s uproarious howls, and Pavel’s soft chuckles. But he did start paying attention when a warm weight dipped down, resting partly on his shoulder and partly on his chest, pinning his arm to the mattress.

Sulu glanced down. Pavel had been sitting cross-legged on the bed several inches away, yet somehow had decided to use Sulu as a pillow even in his sleep. This was actually a pretty normal occurrence, and usually Sulu wouldn’t even have thought twice about it, but he could feel Spock’s eyes on him.

Kirk somehow picked up on the awkward tension, and he looked confused. “How did he move there? I swear just a minute ago, he was sleeping two feet away from you.”

Sulu managed a one-shouldered shrug. “I have no idea.” He uttered a muffled curse as he tried to move his pinned arm and realized that it was asleep and not moving anytime soon. “Damnit, Pavel…”

In his sleep, Pavel shifted a little, letting Sulu slip his arm free. He stretched it out, flexing his fingers and getting the blood flowing back into the limb. He pretended not to be looking at the couch, and therefore pretended not to see Kirk kick Spock’s leg and glare at him. Sulu didn’t know what he’d done to get Kirk on his side, but it was a relief to see. Still… there was no sense tempting fate. He laid his arm out flat on the bed, trying to keep it from falling asleep again.

But as the movie began to draw to a close, he found his arm moving to its normal position when Pavel fell asleep on him… draped loosely around his shoulders, in something that wasn’t quite an embrace, just a light touch that he liked to think reassured the teen that he wasn’t alone. His fingers threaded themselves in Pavel’s curls for a minute before resting on his shoulder again.

Kirk was watching with interest. “Damn, how come you get to do that? Does he really feel as much like a puppy as he looks?”

Sulu rolled his eyes. “He’s not a puppy, Captain.”

“Come on, Sulu, we’re off duty. If you won’t call me Jim, at least call me Kirk.”

Sulu shrugged. “Okay, Kirk. He’s still not a puppy though.”

Kirk grinned. Then he glanced over at Spock, whose eyes had finally closed and whose body had finally taken on some degree of relaxation. Kirk suddenly had a wicked grin on his face and he moved his hand and brushed the fringe of Spock’s hair with his thumb. The hairs fluttered for a moment, then fell right back into place, as though magnetically drawn there. He repeated the action while Sulu watched with growing horror.

“Captain, I must request that you cease your actions,” Spock said, though his posture didn’t change.

“Nope,” Kirk said, and emphasizing his point by brushing those bangs again.

“Captain Kirk…”

Kirk ignored him.

Spock’s eyes snapped open. “Jim. Please. Stop.” He sounded so ferociously angry that Sulu nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Good, you’re awake!” Kirk said cheerfully, not seeming bothered by Spock’s tone of voice. “We do have to be on the bridge bright and early, and Sulu may be a gracious host, but I don’t think he wants us to sleep here.” He stood up and winked at Sulu. “This was fun. Maybe next time, I’ll host.”

“Uh… yeah…” Sulu said, feeling a little confused.

Spock didn’t have to voice his objection to the plan, the direction his eyes were looking made it plain enough.

Sulu tightened his grip on Pavel’s shoulder and he gave the teen a gentle shake. Long dark eyelashes fluttered and sleepy hazel eyes were finally visible. “Hmm?” he mumbled.

“Wake up, Pavel,” Sulu said. “Spock’s being a good watchdog, and he doesn’t want you to stay in here where I could prey on your vulnerable sleeping body.” And he didn’t sound annoyed AT ALL.

Pavel managed a chuckle before he had to stifle a yawn. “Gotcha. Okay, see you on the bridge in the morning, Hikaru. Goodnight Meester Spock, Keptin.” And with that, he exited the room through the shared bathroom.

Spock nodded curtly to Sulu and stepped out. Kirk waved goodbye. And Sulu was by himself once again.

For a while he just lay on the bed, his fingers interlaced behind his head. But eventually he fell asleep, thinking that things might yet be okay.

Two days later, Sulu returned from the gym. Pavel had joined him there, and they’d enjoyed some sparring and racing. As they approached their quarters, Sulu’s PADD beeped. It was a message from his sister Miko, asking him if he was free to chat.

“Noting is de matter, I hope,” Pavel said, peeking over Sulu’s shoulder to read. At one time, Sulu would have swatted him away and told him to mind his own business, but lately they seemed to be sharing even more…

“Oh, I doubt there’s anything wrong. She probably just wants to chat. I haven’t comm’d home in a while,” Sulu said, feeling just a little guilty about that.

“Vell den you better talk to her. You should not let her vorry about you,” Pavel said with a disarmingly sweet smile. He waved as he stepped into his room, and Sulu waved back before heading straight to his desk and comm’ing Miko.

His sister had obviously been home from work for quite a while. Her long dark hair was loose and she looked young and sweet, just like ten years ago when she was eighteen… Sulu couldn’t stop himself from smiling when he saw her. “Hey Miko. Long time no see.”

“Yeah, and it’s all your fault, you know,” she said, sticking her tongue out at him.

Sulu laughed. “Fine, I deserved that. And I’m sorry.”

She relaxed and smiled sweetly at her younger brother. “Don’t be, really. It must mean you’re keeping busy and having fun on the ship. Too much fun to think of your poor earthbound sisters…”

“You just won’t let it go…” Sulu sighed. “I’ll make sure to bring you back something nice.”

“Make it multiple somethings. You know you’ll be gone for at least a year. You’re missing Christmas, my birthday, Easter…”

“You just can’t let up on the guilt trip, can you?”

“Never. I’m a lawyer and you’re my baby brother. It’s in the contract.”

“I never signed any contract.”

“You signed with an X the day you were born.”

“I should get a lawyer and contest this.”

“No lawyer, and you get to go against me.”

“Well now, how’s that fair?”

“It’s fair to me,” Miko smirked.

Sulu chuckled. “So how’s Rina?”

“She’s fine. I think she misses you.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah… I’m glad we all got to see each other before you left.”

“The mission will be over before you know it.”

“I hope so.”

They talked inconsequentially for several minutes when Sulu heard the swish of the bathroom door opening. He turned towards the door.

“Hey Pavel, what’s up?”

Pavel was only half-dressed, Sulu couldn’t help but notice. He was wearing a pair of gray sweatpants, but he had no shirt… the only thing covering his torso was a towel draped around his shoulders and stopping his hair from dripping on the floor. The teen brushed a damp curl away from his face.

“I am sorry to interrupt… but haff you seen my Academy sveatshirt… de dark blue one? It is not in my room, and I tink I vas vearing it here one night.”

“Yeah, it’s over here,” Sulu said, jumping up and opening the second drawer of his dresser, retrieving the neatly-folded shirt from the top of the pile. “Here you go.”

“Ah, tank you… Vat is da saying… good ting my head is attached?”

“Close enough,” Sulu said with a grin. Pavel turned and walked back out, and Sulu turned back to his sister, but he was taken aback by the venomous look on her face. “Uhh… Miko…”

Her hands were clenched on the edge of the desk and her lips were pressed in a thin line. “Goddamnit, Hikaru…” she whispered, and her voice was shaking.

“Miko, what? What’s wrong?” Sulu asked, feeling suddenly sick.

“Hikaru, how could you?” she nearly screamed. “How old is he? Sixteen?”

“What? No! Wait… No! Miko! Jeezus, no, I’m not sleeping with him!” he exclaimed.

“You really think I’ll believe that!” she exclaimed, an edge of hysteria in her voice. “You’re all flushed and sweaty, and he just came out of the shower… And you have his clothes in your room, and he was shirtless!” Her voice was rising as she spoke and Sulu tried to find room to diffuse the situation.

“Miko, please… just… breathe, okay? Please, it’s not what you’re thinking.”

“You wouldn’t tell me if it was true!” she screamed. “God, Hikaru, what are you doing? What’s wrong with you? You… just… How could you? Do you have even half a clue what Rina is going to do when she finds out?”

“Miko, it’s not like that!”

“I don’t believe you!”

“But we aren’t…”

“I don’t want to hear it! Fucking hell, you’re turning out just like HIM!”

Sulu thought his heart might have stopped. “Miko…”

She pressed one hand to her mouth, tears pouring from her eyes. “Goddamnit, Hikaru…” she sobbed. “How could you do this to us?”

“But…”

She just looked at him, tears making her makeup run, her eyes so full of hurt and betrayal. “I… I can’t… Goodbye, Hikaru.” And the screen went black as she cut the transmission.

“Damnit…” Sulu whispered. He tried to comm her, but she refused to pick up, and she had disabled her voicemail, so he couldn’t even leave her a message. “Fucking hell…” Sulu groaned, resting his head on the edge of the desk. Could his life get any worse?

He actually didn’t want to know the answer to that question.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov knew there was something VERY wrong with his best friend.

It hadn’t even been a month since Spock had caught them kissing in the hallway near the science labs, but the change in Hikaru was staggering. Chekov found himself uncomfortably reminded of that night they’d sat together in their shared bathroom, directly after defeating Nero. Even then, Hikaru hadn’t looked this bad.

He wasn’t eating, Chekov was sure of it. He didn’t eat during lunch, just got a small plate of food and stirred it around without actually taking more than a couple bites. Sometimes he didn’t even go to get dinner after their shift, but when he did, it was the same routine. He spent hours at the gym or in the botany lab, barely spending any time in his room. And he wasn’t sleeping, Chekov was sure of that too. What other explanation could there be for those dark shadows under his eyes, or the redness that threaded through them?

There were other little clues too. Although he was still perfectly professional on the bridge, there was a distance there that Chekov couldn’t explain. Whenever Chekov suggested hanging out, Hikaru would pull that same devastating smile and agree, but he didn’t seem to really be there. He no longer even argued when Spock would show up unannounced to check on them. Some fire seemed to have gone from him.

The worst part though was that every time Chekov tried to ask Hikaru about what was bothering him, Hikaru would just paste on a fake smile and assure him that nothing was wrong. It was more than a little aggravating since any idiot should have been able to tell that there was something wrong. Chekov was definitely not an idiot, and Hikaru knew that…

Hikaru had made an excuse and skipped out on dinner, so Chekov had eaten with several people from the science labs. Leslie had been all over him again, wondering why he was so quiet, but he had managed to put her off. Now he was walking back to his quarters, wondering if he should comm Hikaru and try (again!) to talk to him when he heard two familiar voices.

“…should really try takin’ these. Even Jim’s finally noticed, he was down in my office earlier askin’ if I was treatin’ you yet.”

“I already told you, I don’t like taking sleep aids.” And Chekov would have known THAT voice anywhere…

“Hikaru, this is not healthy. Somethin’ has got to change real quick.” Dr. McCoy was getting more and more agitated as he spoke.

“I told you, I’m taking care of it,” Hikaru said firmly. “Everything’s gonna be fine. Look, Doc, I gotta run, okay? Good talk.” And Chekov could hear quick footsteps heading away.

Dr. McCoy wasn’t pleased with that answer, muttering something about “damn fool kids” under his breath as Chekov approached cautiously.

“Dr. McCoy?” he said softly.

McCoy turned towards him. “Oh, hey Pavel. What can I do for ya?”

“Um…” Chekov said, not looking the doctor in the eye, “I vas vondering… if you knew… anyting about vat is wrong vit Hikaru?”

McCoy’s nostrils flared. “You mean he hasn’t said anything to you about it?”

Chekov shook his head.

McCoy looked ready to breathe fire. “Damnit… I don’t know what to do with that boy…” he fumed. He finally looked at Chekov. “Listen, ya know I can’t break patient confidentiality, but I don’t think I need to tell you he’s in bad shape.”

“Da, I had figured dis out,” Chekov said with a sigh.

McCoy seemed to hesitate. “Has he ever talked to you about… about his family?”

Chekov shook his head. “Not really… I know he has two older sisters, and dey are wery close… And he does not speak vit his parents, but I do not know vhy.”

McCoy swore under his breath, muttering something about talking that Chekov didn’t catch. The teen waited patiently for the doctor to stop ranting.

“Alright, I’ve had just about enough of this,” McCoy snarled. “Come on, kid, we’re gonna go talk to your friend.”

Chekov wasn’t going to argue with that. He hurried to keep up with the doctor as they moved along the corridors of the Enterprise towards Hikaru’s room. McCoy hammered urgently on the comm button with an intensity that had Chekov alarmed, but as he started to edge away from the agitated doctor, McCoy’s hand darted out to grab him.

“Oh no you don’t, you stay right here!”

Chekov gulped. “Okay.”

The door opened with a soft ‘swish’ and Hikaru was standing there. He looked even more haggard and exhausted under the harsh light of the corridor. “Hey Doc, hey Pavel. What can I do for you?” he asked, sounding only slightly surprised by the visitors.

“Can we come in and talk?” McCoy asked.

“Uh… I guess, sure,” Hikaru agreed.

As Chekov walked in, he saw that Hikaru had been trying to comm someone from his desk, but Hikaru closed it quickly before Chekov could see who Hikaru had been attempting to reach. Hikaru sat down sideways in the desk chair, one elbow propped on the desk and the other on the back of his chair. McCoy leaned against the wall, his arms crossed and a prominent scowl gracing his face. Chekov stood awkwardly near the bathroom door, unsure what his role in the impending drama was going to be.

“What’s up?” Hikaru asked both of them, his eyes darting from one to the other, and Chekov’s heart broke a little at how bloodshot his eyes had become.

“Hikaru, this has gotten ridiculous,” McCoy said sternly. “You cannot let this destroy you.”

“I told you, it’s gonna be fine,” Hikaru argued.

“And the fact that you can’t seem to make yourself eat or sleep shows that you’re fine how exactly?”

“Look, I’m just a little stressed,” Hikaru said, rubbing irritably at his eyes. “It’s nothing to freak out about.”

“Your puppy came to talk to me about you,” McCoy said, jerking his head towards Chekov. “He’s worried about you.”

Chekov made an indignant noise at being called a puppy, which made the corner of Hikaru’s mouth twitch.

“Yeah, what’d you tell him?” Hikaru asked.

“I told him that you two needed to talk. You SAID that you would talk,” McCoy added sternly.

Chekov looked from one to the other. “Talk about vat?” he asked.

Hikaru sighed. “Damnit, Doc, I am not ready to do this…”

“Yeah, and when ARE you going to be ready? You just waitin’ for him to find out from someone else, is that it?”

Hikaru looked horrified at the thought. “But… I thought…”

“I know. Spock knows. If Spock knows, you can be damn sure Jim knows. Don’t know how he manages to charm whatever he wants from that green-blooded…” McCoy made a huffing noise. “That’s not important right now though.”

Hikaru didn’t say anything, he just rested his head in his hands.

The door to the hallway flew open without warning. Chekov jumped a mile. Hikaru’s head jerked up in surprise and confusion. McCoy looked stunned, then furious.

“Damnit, Spock! A bit of warning next time, maybe?” he shouted.

The half-Vulcan First Officer regarded the trio with his impassive black eyes. “Fascinating…” he murmured. “This is quite an eclectic gathering.”

“No, it’s really not,” Hikaru said icily. “You’re just surprised that Dr. McCoy is in here. You expected Pavel to be here though, didn’t you? That’s why you never knock or buzz. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Just because I’m having some minor sleep issues doesn’t mean I’m totally oblivious to my surroundings.”

McCoy rounded more fully on Spock. “You’ve been popping in here unannounced? What happened to a reasonable expectation of privacy?”

“Lieutenant Sulu gave that up when he made the decision to engage in an illicit relationship with Ensign Chekov.”

Hikaru brought his head down to rest on his desk. “Christ… when did my life become so fucked up?” he muttered.

Chekov stared at Hikaru as McCoy continued to berate Spock about privacy and the concept of the door buzzer and why his actions were draconian. And then Chekov made a decision. He waited until McCoy paused for breath before speaking up.

“Excuse me, Meester Spock… You vill not be needing to do dese random checks anymore.”

Spock finally glanced away from his glaring match with McCoy. “And why is that, Ensign?”

Chekov took a deep breath, hoping that he was making the right decision. “Obwiously my presence is only making life more difficult for Hikaru… So I tink it vould be best for him if I stayed avay.”

Hikaru’s head snapped up from its resting position on the desk. “What?” he gasped.

“I haff other friends on this ship… I do not need to make life harder for him,” Chekov said, still addressing Spock. “So I vill not be in his quarters alone vit him anymore, and you can stop dropping in unannounced like dis and maybe he can haff some peace.”

Having said that, Chekov turned on his heel and exited Hikaru’s quarters through their joint bathroom, but he wasn’t fast enough to miss seeing the look of utter devastation on Hikaru’s face. And the door couldn’t close fast enough for him to avoid hearing McCoy shout, “Now look what you’ve done, you damn green-blooded hobgoblin!” But Chekov didn’t let himself turn around as he entered his own quarters, threw himself down onto his bed, and tried his best not to cry.

(A/N: How much would you guys have hated me if I ended the chapter right there? Soooo much, right? Luckily for you (and for my own health), this is not yet the end! Hooray! Read on!)

Chekov lay on his bed for over an hour, just trying to put his racing thoughts in order. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake the look on Hikaru’s face from his mind’s eye… He’d looked so shocked… and hurt… and alone… Chekov shivered involuntarily. It reminded him a little too much of the face that had stared back at him from the mirror of the bathroom at the Academy when he’d been cutting himself… He shook his head to banish those thoughts.

“Hikaru vould not really do someting so foolish…” he said out loud to reassure himself. “After all da tings he said to me… about his sister… Nyet. He vould not do it…” His voice sounded confident to his own ears, and he did feel a little better, though he still struggled to resist the urge to go check on his best friend.

He was startled from his thoughts by a knock at the door. At first he thought it would Hikaru, but then he realized that the knock had come from the door to the hallway, and Hikaru would have come through their shared bathroom. Pushing himself to his feet, he went to see who his visitor was.

Dr. McCoy was standing there. “Hey,” he greeted the teen brusquely, “you should go over and see Hikaru. Like right now.”

“Okay,” Chekov agreed.

McCoy blinked. “That’s it? No arguin’?”

“Vould you like me to argue vit you?”

McCoy shook his head. “No, of course not… I’m just not used to someone actually takin’ my advice without askin’ a bunch of idiotic questions. I could get used to this, actually,” he admitted with a wry grin.

Chekov tried to grin back, but found he couldn’t. “He’s my best friend. If you say I should go be vit him, I vill go.”

McCoy sighed, tipping his head back to stare at the ceiling. “He’s lucky to have you. Don’t know if he really gets that yet, but he’ll get there. Give him time.” He turned and started walking down the hallway. “Oh, by the way, I dragged the hobgoblin off to talk to Jim… I don’t think he’ll be botherin’ you guys for a little while… Jimmy really wasn’t happy when I told him what was goin’ on.”

Chekov blinked. He knew that the captain and doctor were very close friends, but McCoy really must have gone to bat for Hikaru and himself to get this kind of reaction. “Tank you,” he said, finding his voice at last.

McCoy shot a grin over his shoulder at the teen. “And you can pay me back by talkin' to him. By the way, I gave him a pretty strong sedative, so he might be a little loopy. I didn’t want to give it to him, but…” The doctor shrugged. “I just don’t think he oughta be alone.”

Chekov understood, so he nodded and went back to his room. Deciding that his sweatpants and t-shirt were perfectly acceptable to wear when visiting his best friend (and crush), he walked over and knocked on the bathroom door.

There was no answer.

Chekov frowned at the door, then decided to just go ahead and go in. After all, McCoy had told him to do so… and he had mentioned a sedative. So Chekov entered.

Hikaru was lying in his usual spot on the bed, his fingers intertwined underneath his head as he stared up at the ceiling with glassy eyes. Chekov couldn’t stop the little hitch of breath as he drank in the sight of Sulu’s lean muscular chest outlined so perfectly by that clingy t-shirt. His best friend was really too sexy to be allowed… Chekov hesitated there for a minute.

Hikaru blinked, tilting his head towards Chekov. “Hey…” he said softly, sounding more tired than Chekov had ever heard him.

“Hey,” Chekov returned, inching into the room.

“Didn’t really expect to see you again tonight,” Hikaru said.

Chekov looked down at the floor. “Because of vat I said? Hikaru, I did not mean any of it… Vell, I did mean dat I do not vant to make life difficult for you…”

Hikaru uttered a short bark of laughter.

“But most of vat I said vas just to get rid of Meester Spock… You haff enough going on vitout him nosing around…”

Hikaru glanced at him. “What do you know about what I have going on?”

“Noting really,” Chekov said with a shrug. “But you… Vell… You look like crap,” he said bluntly. “I haff been vorried about you.”

Something almost sad passed over Hikaru’s face. “I’m sorry. I owe you an explanation.”

“Do not vorry about it tonight,” Chekov said quickly. “You can tell me tomorrow. I trust you.”

“I don’t know why,” Hikaru said with a sigh.

“I don’t know, maybe because you haff saved my life?”

“You saved mine.”

Chekov sighed. “Dat vas different.”

“Not really,” Hikaru argued.

“But… you haff been there for me many times… Ven I really needed you… And I feel like I am noting but trouble to you,” Chekov tried to explain.

Hikaru sighed. “I would love to keep this discussion going… but whatever the doc gave me…”

“Nyet, I understand,” Chekov said quickly. “I just vanted you to know dat… dat you are still my best friend. Goodnight.” And he turned and started to leave.

“Pavel?”

Chekov turned back. “Da, Hikaru?”

Hikaru looked a little uncertain, which Chekov found unbearably endearing. “Um… do you want to stay for a bit?” he asked at last.

“Sure,” Chekov agreed, moving towards the bed now and settling on what was starting to become ‘his’ side from all the times they’d watched vids together. He settled himself on his side facing Hikaru as the other man pulled up the blankets and made himself comfortable. Finally he settled, lying on his side facing Chekov.

Hesitantly, Chekov reached out, brushing the silky black hairs off of Hikaru’s forehead. A contented sigh escaped his best friend’s lips and those dark eyes fluttered closed. Since Hikaru wasn’t objecting, Chekov continued his gentle petting until Hikaru’s breathing became soft and even.

Now Chekov hesitated. Should he stay? Or should he leave? He wasn’t sure what Hikaru wanted. Finally he rolled onto his other side, facing away from Hikaru, reaching one arm out towards the edge of the bed to pull himself out.

And then a warm arm reached out and encircled his waist. Chekov froze as Hikaru drew him closer. And he had to work to suppress a shiver as Hikaru’s nose nuzzled into the joint where his neck met his shoulder. Hikaru made another contented noise in his sleep as he nestled into Chekov’s neck.

Chekov couldn’t stop himself from smiling. ‘Guess that answers that question,’ he thought as he drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Hikaru Sulu was feeling very comfortable. His pillow was warm and comfortable, and it was kind of nice to realize that he’d just enjoyed the best night’s sleep he’d had in at least a month. But there was something a little odd about his pillow… It was a bit… bigger than he remembered… and it shouldn’t have been this warm… and something soft was tickling at his eyelashes… and sometimes his pillow did smell like Pavel when the boy spent an evening hanging out, but the smell was a lot stronger than usual…

Sulu’s eyes fluttered open and he discovered exactly why things felt off… He’d been nuzzling into Pavel’s neck as he slept, and his arm was still locked securely around the boy’s waist. Sulu instantly froze.

Pavel appeared to still be asleep, his long lashes hiding those soft and innocent hazel eyes from view… But as Sulu shifted, Pavel’s eyes opened, and they were much too alert for him to have been asleep the whole time…

“Oh jeeze!” Sulu yelped, sitting upright and releasing the teenager. “I’m sorry, Pavel, you should have woken me up!”

“Vhy?” Pavel asked, sitting up as well and rolling his neck. “It vas wery comfortable.”

“Yeah, but…”

Pavel ran a hand through his curls, making them stick out at odd angles. “Hikaru, if I had not liked it, I vould haff made you vake up and I vould haff left. But I did like it and I stayed and you should not be upset about it.”

“But Spock could have…”

Pavel shook his head, his eyes glinting with mischief. “Not anymore… Doktor McCoy is on our side… He talked to de keptin.”

Sulu’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?”

“He stopped by my room last night to tell me,” Pavel confirmed. Then he glanced down at his hands. “If I vas not sure ve vould not get caught, I vould not haff stayed… I do not vant you in trouble again because of me…”

Sulu couldn’t speak for a moment. “…Pavel… I…”

Pavel glanced up again, his cheeks dusted faintly pink. “Anyvays, ve really should get ready for shift, da?”

“Yeah, of course…” Sulu said. “And… after shift… You want to come back here? I owe you some explanations.”

“Sure,” Pavel agreed, getting off the bed and stretching, his t-shirt sliding up a bit to expose a strip of pale white skin on his back. Sulu tried not to stare.

“I could get used to sleeping like dat,” Pavel said, so softly that Sulu almost didn’t hear him. Then he was gone, vanishing into their shared bathroom. Sulu was just glad he was still sitting down.

Since Pavel was still pretending to be avoiding Sulu, they walked up to the bridge separately, and Sulu didn’t have to pretend to be upset about it… He was lost in thought most of the day, thinking about the conversation he’d be having with Pavel later… though he caught several glances from Spock and Kirk as he and Pavel carefully went about their business without speaking to each other.

Nyota cornered him at lunch. “Okay, what’s going on?” she demanded the second she took her seat across from him. “You’re a wreck, and Spock’s been all weird and on edge, and now you and Pavel aren’t talking and Spock looks really smug… What the hell is going on?”

Sulu sighed. He’d tried to keep Uhura out of it, not wanting to make her choose sides between him and Spock (he would almost certainly lose, and therefore lose one of his few friends on the ship), but as she continued prodding, he gave her a very brief explanation. Her eyes grew wider and wider as he talked. Even though he left out everything from his past, and glossed over the argument with his sister, she still looked horrified and she reached across the table to cover his hand with hers.

“Hikaru, I’m so sorry… I had no idea you were so stressed out. I wish you had said something to me, I would have talked to Spock and made him back off. I can’t believe Pavel’s resorted to avoiding you, that’s just not fair,” she exclaimed, her fingers stroking the back of his hand as she spoke.

“It’s fine, really,” Sulu said as calmly as he could. “After all, Pavel will be eighteen soon… then Spock won’t have any more reason to be worried when we spend time together.”

“Are you guys going to finally start dating for real?” Nyota asked, a mischievous smile on her face.

Sulu felt his cheeks heat up. “I… I… I don’t know…” he stammered.

Nyota tilted her head. “Really? You don’t know?”

Sulu shook his head. “It… It’s not that simple…”

“Seems simple enough to me,” Nyota said with a frown. “You like him. He likes you. Where’s the problem?”

Sulu glanced down at her hand still covering his and tried to think of an easy way to explain… He was startled out of his thoughts when she suddenly removed her hand. He looked up in surprise to find her grinning.

“Sorry, your puppy was giving me a really nasty stink-eye…” she said, more amused than concerned. Sulu glanced to his left where Pavel was sitting with the science geeks and winked at his friend, who suddenly became very interested in the plate in front of him.

“He’s so cute,” Nyota giggled. “You’re lucky he’s already shown interest in you… I can think of at least five people who would love it if you were out of contention…”

“Huh?”

Nyota grinned. “You didn’t know? He’s VERY desirable right now… Brains are sexy,” she joked.

“Ah, of course,” Sulu said with a grin, but mentally, he sighed. Yet more proof that Pavel would be much better off finding someone else. The trouble lay in convincing the teen…

After their shift ended, Sulu ignored Pavel and headed towards the lift, going to the gym to work out until he was almost too exhausted to move. He returned to his quarters and showered, reveling in the way his muscles ached from lifting weights. He’d skipped his fencing, his mind too wrapped up in other problems to appreciate the simple grace of his favorite exercise.

Dressing in a pair of sweats and a black t-shirt, Sulu was still patting his hair dry when he walked back into his bedroom and found Pavel sitting cross-legged at the foot of his bed.

“Hey,” Pavel said, looking almost shy as he sat there. “I hope you do not mind dat I came in vhile you vere shovering… You said before dat you did not…”

“I don’t, honest,” Sulu insisted, rubbing the towel through his hair a few more times before tossing it neatly into the laundry. He ran his fingers through his still-damp hair once before resolving to ignore the spiky tangled mess for now. Pavel was chewing on his lower lip as he watched, and his right ring finger was running up and down his palm again. “What?” Sulu asked him. “Do I have something on my face or something?”

Pavel’s cheeks went bright red. “Sorry,” he stammered. “I vas not intending…” He trailed off, staring down at his lap.

Sulu gulped. This was going to be harder than he thought. “Let me grab myself something from the replicator, then we’ll talk,” he said quickly. “You want anything?”

“Nyet, I am fine,” Pavel said.

“Alright,” Sulu sighed, keying in the code for a protein shake. Grabbing the drink, he sat down cross-legged near the head of the bed, and Pavel swiveled around to face him. Now that they were actually here and about to talk… Sulu realized he had no idea where to begin.

Something of his uncertainty must have shown on his face because Pavel leaned forward a little. “So vat is it dat you haff been vanting to tell me about?” he asked.

“Have you heard anything from anyone else? About me… or about my family?” Sulu asked at last.

Pavel shook his head. “I only know what you haff told me… vhich vas not much. You haff your two sisters, and you do not talk vit your parents. And… you did mention your sister… the one who tried to… to kill herself.”

Sulu chewed on his lower lip. “Yeah, okay… That’s what most people know, if they know anything about my family at all. Minus the part about Rina’s suicide attempts, but you’re a special case. And that’s the way I wanted to keep it.”

“You don’t haff to talk about dis vit me,” Pavel said. “I know you are not liking it.”

“Yeah, but if I don’t tell you… Spock or someone is going to. And… it’s one of those things… it’s gonna be bad no matter what… but I want you to hear about it from me… At least that way you’ll get the truth.”

The way Pavel tilted his head reminded Sulu of an inquisitive bird. “I am not understanding…”

“Yeah, I’m still no good at this,” Sulu sighed. “I haven’t voluntarily talked about my childhood with anyone... ever. Therapists don’t count, that’s hardly voluntary.” He stopped for a moment to try to collect his thoughts. “Fuck, I don’t think this will ever be easy to talk about… My father was an abusive child molester, and he preyed on my sisters,” he spat out in a rush.

Pavel blinked. He didn’t seem to know what to say. “Dat… dat is horrible,” he said at last, his voice edged with caution.

Sulu took a deep breath. The hardest part was over… at least, he hoped it was the hardest part. “Yeah, growing up in my house was a real blast,” he said sarcastically. “It’s… you never really know what it’s like to be truly helpless until you see your sisters being hurt every fucking day by this monster and there’s not a single thing you can do about it.”

“He did not… to you?” Pavel was struggling to figure out how to ask his question.

Sulu shook his head. “Maybe it would have been easier if he had. Watching him hurt my sisters… it tore me apart. Miko was the strong one… she’s the oldest, she’s five years older than me. She would just go crazy, throwing stuff at him and screaming… she’d lock me and Rina in my room so he’d go after her instead of Rina… But she couldn’t be around all the time.”

“And you saw all of dis?”

“Yeah,” Sulu said grimly. “That old bastard didn’t seem to give a shit if I knew. If I tried to stop him, he’d just beat the crap out of me.”

“Vat about your mother?”

Sulu scowled. “I hate her…” he hissed between clenched teeth. “That damn woman… living in a world of her own… She… she didn’t believe us.”

“Vat do you mean?” Pavel asked, his voice shaking slightly.

“She didn’t believe us… about the molestation, or about the physical abuse. She said we were lying, making things up to get attention… She covered for him for… years. So many years. She hid the bruises we’d get when we tried to fight with him. She ignored every word we said, told our teachers we were lying because our father grounded us or some shit. She… she just wouldn’t listen. She’d been in denial for so long. I don’t think she’ll ever really believe it.”

“But how is dat possible?”

“I’ve asked myself that question since I was old enough to understand what was going on,” Hikaru said softly. “Rina tried to kill herself a couple months before Miko turned eighteen. I told you about that. And then she tried again. She couldn’t handle it anymore. I… I understood… but I didn’t want him to win… and if she died, then he won. I couldn’t let her…”

Pavel reached across the distance between them, covering one of Sulu’s hands with one of his. The gentle touch was more comforting than Sulu had anticipated and his eyes fluttered closed for a moment.

“As soon as Miko turned eighteen, she went straight to the district attorney. She had… everything. She had all sorts of medical records… mostly for herself and Rina, but she had a couple of mine… like when I was ten and my father threw me against a wall and broke my collarbone when I tried to get him away from Rina…”

“Oh Hikaru…” Pavel whispered.

“Since Miko was eighteen, they couldn’t charge our father with any of his crimes against her, but they charged the shit out of him with crimes against Rina… and a couple for me too, child abuse or something… But there were a fuck-ton of child molestation charges and abuse and rape of a minor and all kinds of crazy shit. It was a fucking circus in San Francisco.”

“And your mother?”

“She refused to believe any of it. She testified that we were all liars. Even our father’s attorney couldn’t believe it. She ignored all the medical records, all my testimony, all of Rina’s, all of Miko’s… she brushed every word off. Said it never happened, that we were liars, that we were getting into fights at school or something, that our father was a good man who would never hurt his own kids…”

Pavel’s hand tightened reflexively over Sulu’s.

“He was found guilty of pretty much all the charges. Miko got custody of me and Rina until we turned eighteen and she got us the hell away from our mother. She called us… after the trial… wanting to know when we wanted to visit our father.” He grinned. “I thought Miko was gonna go through the roof. She never told Rina about the call. We still don’t speak to her, and we sure as hell don’t speak to our father.”

“How long vill he be in jail?”

“He got fifty years. He’ll get time off for good behavior, I’m sure… And he might even get parole. Since he only ever preyed on his own kids, and we’re all grown up and living far away… they might think he’s not a threat.”

Pavel looked like he was going to be sick.

“So that’s my happy story,” Sulu said with a sigh, leaning back to rest against the headboard, but managing to keep his hand resting comfortably under Pavel’s.

“But… vhat does dis haff to do… vit us?” Pavel asked at last. “Vhy vere you so vorried about Meester Spock telling me?”

Sulu blinked. “Come on, Pavel… use that big brain of yours. My dad’s a child molester… and you’re underage.”

Pavel blinked. “Oh… Oh!” His face contorted. “Dat is de most absurd ting I haff ewer heard in my life!” he exclaimed.

“You think so?” Sulu asked.

“Da! It is ridiculous!”

Sulu looked down. “For most of my life, I’ve been terrified of ending up like him.”

“But… you vould never…!” Pavel argued. “You saw how much it hurt your sisters… and you… you are not dat vay!”

“You seem awfully certain… considering we had sex when you were sixteen, I’m a little confused by your conviction.”

“Dat vas completely different,” Pavel argued. “Your father attacked your sisters and forced dem. And dey vere much younger dan me.”

“You were pretty fucking drunk when we got together. There are definitely arguments to be made…” Sulu began.

Pavel shook his head, and he leaned forward, narrowing the gap between the two of them. “Not de same ting. Besides… I vas de one who came after you.”

Sulu blinked, trying to remember the hazy alcohol-fueled night. “The first time I remember seeing you… is when we were kissing,” he admitted.

“And dat is vat happened,” Pavel said. “I… I saw you dancing vit another guy… You did not really look like you vere enjoying yourself… And I… I vanted you.” He blushed a little as he said that. “I… I vanted you so much… You looked so amazing, and I thought… I thought I vas better dan de guy you vere vit.”

“Well, I can’t really argue with that,” Sulu said with a sigh. “That guy was pretty annoying. The only reason I was even dancing with him is because I was stupid-drunk.”

Pavel smirked. “Vell, de wodka made me bold… So I valked up to you, but I could not tink of anyting to say… So I just kissed you. And you kissed me back. And ve danced, and den… ve left together,” he said with a shrug and a small smile. “So you see, I made de choice to go to you. It is not de same.”

Sulu couldn’t stop himself from smiling. “I’m… flattered,” he said at last. “I hope I was a good lay at least.”

“You vere…” Pavel mumbled, blushing scarlet. “I… I haff never stopped… being interested in you…” He swallowed. “I vas trying to ignore it… until I vas eighteen… but…” The hand that rested on Sulu’s was shaking.

Sulu closed his eyes. “Pavel… I…”

“Don’t say anyting yet!” Pavel exclaimed hastily.

“What? Why not?” Sulu asked.

“Because if you say something now, you are going to say nyet!” Pavel exclaimed. “I… Do not do dat… not tonight.”

Sulu’s breath hitched. Damnit, why did he find this kid so sexy? “Pavel, you have to listen to me though…” he begged softly.

“Please… please don’t,” Pavel said softly. Tears appeared in those hazel eyes and pulled Sulu up short. He rubbed his forehead with his fingertips.

“Only you, Pavel…” he sighed. “I just spilled my guts about my past and my messed-up family… and you’re the one in tears because you think I’m going to reject you.”

“But you are… and it vill not be because you do not like me… because I know you do,” Pavel whispered. “You vill say no because you do not tink you are good enough for me… and you are wrong… so wery wrong… but I do not know how to make you see dat.”

The tears continued to brim there… and finally one slipped free, sliding down his cheek. And Sulu reached out, touching his fingertips to Pavel’s face, his thumb catching the teardrop and brushing it away.

“Okay,” he whispered, leaning forward so that their foreheads were nearly touching. “I promise… We won’t talk about it anymore tonight.”

Pavel’s hand moved up to cover the one Sulu had placed on his face, holding it there as they drowned in each other’s eyes.

“I… do not vant to lose you…” he whispered.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Sulu whispered back. “No matter what happens… I’ll always be your friend. I promise.”

Pavel smiled. “Me too. I vill alvays be your friend too. I vill never leawe you. I promise.”

And Sulu smiled, his first genuine smile in so long… and he pulled Pavel into an embrace, feeling that maybe… finally… things might be starting to right themselves in his world.

Chapter Text

For the second morning in a row, Pavel Chekov woke up curled up a bed that was not in his own, in the arms of his best friend. And he really couldn’t have been happier.

After the conversations of the previous evening, Hikaru seemed to need company rather badly… and wild horses couldn’t have dragged Chekov out of the room when Hikaru needed him. So they had watched vids together and talked about inconsequential things and Chekov had fallen asleep curled up to Hikaru. And he woke up that way as well. Apparently Hikaru had just decided to let him stay over.

A soft sigh escaping his lips, Chekov let himself relax against Hikaru’s warm body. Hikaru made a soft noise in his sleep and his arm tightened around Chekov and his nose burrowed deeper into Chekov’s curls.

And then the peace was shattered as Hikaru’s alarm began blaring.

Muffled cursing made its way to Chekov’s ear as Hikaru attempted to bury himself under the blankets and pillows. Chuckling, Chekov rolled over and lifted a pillow off of Hikaru’s head. “De alarm means you are supposed to vake up, da?”

Hikaru groaned. “Not yet… Five more minutes…”

Chekov laughed. “I vill go get ready first den,” he said. Hikaru sighed, but released the teen. Chekov headed straight to the bathroom, quickly taking care of his morning grooming before heading back to his room to change into his uniform.

When he returned to Hikaru’s room, the other man was still burrowed into his blankets. Chekov couldn’t stop himself from laughing.

“Come on, Hikaru, you need to get up!” he said, finding his friend’s arm and attempting to drag him from the bed.

Hikaru groaned. “Damnit… Pavel…” he whined. Then his head snapped up. “Wait, what time is it?”

“Do not vorry, ve still haff forty minutes until shift.”

“No, that’s not why I was asking… Forty minutes? Shit!” And Hikaru jumped up, hurrying into the bathroom and leaving a bewildered Chekov sitting on the edge of his bed.

A few minutes later, Hikaru was back in the room, seeking out a uniform. He waved Chekov out of the room, so the teen headed back to his own room. But when he was not summoned back right away… he became curious. So he stepped through the shared bathroom, hesitating just before reaching the door to Hikaru’s room. And he could hear Hikaru talking, evidently having attempting to comm someone and failed.

“…and I just want to talk to you for a few minutes, that’s all. Miko, you know I would never do anything to hurt you or Rina, please just comm me back so we can talk.” He paused for a painfully long moment. “Please, I promise, there’s an explanation… it wasn’t what you thought, I swear. My shift starts in twenty minutes, but please… please message me or something, okay?” He paused again. “You know I love you. I don’t want to be fighting with you. Talk to you soon then…” And then there was silence followed by a heavy, almost heartbroken, sigh.

Chekov felt his stomach clench. Without pausing to think, he stepped into Hikaru’s room. Seeing the young man with his head resting in his hands and looking exhausted and defeated steeled his resolve. “Hikaru? Vat’s wrong?” he asked.

Hikaru’s head snapped open. “Pavel…! Uh… nothing… Nothing’s wrong. Why do you ask?”

Chekov just gave him an irritated look before sitting at the foot of the bed, his knees almost touching Hikaru’s as the other man turned in his chair to face him.

Hikaru sighed. “It’s really nothing… Miko and I had a… a misunderstanding. And she’s giving me the silent treatment. Once she stops being mad, she’ll let me explain…” He trailed off, and there was worry in his dark eyes.

“Vat happened? Vat vas de misunderstanding?” Chekov asked.

Hikaru turned his head slightly so he wasn’t looking directly at Chekov. “It’s not important.”

“It must be important ozzervise you vould just tell me,” Chekov pointed out as gently as he could.

Hikaru winced.

“You are not a good liar, Hikaru,” Chekov continued. “You haff a… a bad poker face. You do not hide your emotions vell.”

“Yeah, I know… Believe me, I know,” Hikaru sighed. “But it’s such a stupid thing, you really don’t have to worry about it…”

“Ven did you haff your… misunderstanding?” Chekov tried.

“It’s been almost a month,” Hikaru muttered.

Chekov tilted his head back, casting around for what happened almost a month ago. “You did not tell her about… um…”

“Kissing by the science labs?” Hikaru asked, tactfully avoiding assigning responsibility to anyone. “No way, do I look like an idiot?” He rubbed his forehead. “I don’t even want to know what she would have done to me…”

And that’s when Chekov remembered looking for his shirt in Hikaru’s room when he had been talking with his sister, and his eyes grew wide with alarm. “Oh… oh Hikaru…” he gasped.

Hikaru leaned forward and rested one of his hands on Chekov’s. “It’s not your fault, okay? You had no way of knowing… You didn’t know about our family yet or anything… Hell, even I didn’t know she was going to flip out like that. It was a stupid misunderstanding, okay? Don’t worry about it.”

“…B…but…” Chekov stammered.

“It. Is. Not. Your. Fault,” Hikaru repeated. “She… It’s just difficult, okay? For her… for all of us, really…” He paused, struggling for words. “To have one of those bonds… that’s supposed to protect you… and have it used against you, used to hurt you… It really fucks your ability to trust others. In her heart of hearts, she knows… she has to know I’m not like our father… but there’s always that nagging little voice that just wants to see the worst in other people and doesn’t want to get close…” He trailed off, staring at his hand over Chekov’s, like he wasn’t quite sure how it got there or if he should move it.

Chekov was shrewd enough to read between the lines, and also impressed that Hikaru had found a way to bring up his own reservations about… about them… even as he worried about his sister. Chekov carefully turned his hand over under Hikaru’s and gave it a light squeeze. “She is your sister and I am sure she loves you… It vill be okay.”

“I know it will,” Hikaru agreed, though the tone of his voice suggested that he was glad that someone else agreed with him. Then he winced. “Shit… we’re supposed to be on the bridge soon!”

Chekov cursed in Russian. “You are right,” he added. “Ve vill be late if ve do not go immediately.”

As they had done for the last couple of days, they arrived separately on the bridge and made a show of carrying out their duties professionally, with no time given over for side conversations. But Chekov was thinking hard… a little plan forming in his head…

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu was restless all that day, and that night as well. He and Pavel had agreed that the best way to keep up the illusion that Pavel was avoiding Sulu… was for Pavel to actually avoid Sulu. So he worked late in the botany lab, not even daring to message the teen, knowing that Spock was almost certainly able to read all messages between crewmembers.

Sulu had a hard time falling asleep that night. He was thinking about Pavel’s reaction to their conversation the night before. Sulu had been sure that such a conversation would drive them apart… that was why he had delayed for so long… and why he had decided to spit it all out… Like ripping off a Band-Aid, he had planned to convince Pavel he was an unsuitable boyfriend (and possibly even friend) as quickly and efficiently as possible. And that hadn’t happened… and Sulu was a bit off-balance as a result. He laid awake for hours, his thoughts a tangled jungle of confusing pathways.

And it was this insomnia that he blamed entirely on the events of the next morning. Because he only managed to catch a couple hours of sleep, he wound up sleeping right through his alarm clock going off. So he rushed into the bathroom, showering as quickly as possible before realizing he hadn’t even grabbed a fresh uniform. So he wrapped the towel securely around his waist before stepping out of the shower… just in time for Pavel to walk into the bathroom through his own door.

Sulu gulped, trying to pretend he didn’t notice the way Pavel’s eyes shamelessly raked over his bare chest. “Uh… good morning.”

“Da, good morning,” Pavel replied automatically, finally flicking his hazel eyes back up to Sulu’s face.

“Um… sorry, I overslept…” Sulu muttered.

Pavel just smiled that disarmingly sweet smile. “Oh, it is no problem. I still haff plenty of time to get ready. Excuse me,” he added, sliding past Sulu, not quite close enough to touch.

Sulu shivered, and the sound of the shower starting up didn’t help. Stepping over to the sink, he quickly splashed some cold water on his face and tried to get back under control. Autopilot took over and he quickly brushed his teeth and combed his hair before starting the process of shaving. Lost in the routine of morning grooming, he was jolted when he heard the shower shut off. Unfortunately, the process of shaving simply could not be rushed… and by the time he rinsed his face and turned to exit the bathroom, Pavel was stepping out of the shower area…

Sulu gulped again. Pavel really looked way too sexy for words. He was barefoot and bare-chested, clad in only his black uniform pants. His curls, made a much darker brown from the dampness, clung limply to his head and tumbled onto his forehead endearingly. His towel was slung loosely around his shoulders, but drops of moisture still clung to his chest, sliding enticingly down to caress his well-toned abs, and Sulu had to fiercely squash the urge to trace the path the water droplets took with his fingers.

One corner of Pavel’s mouth quirked up, and before Sulu could react, Pavel was standing much closer, their bodies almost touching but not quite. “You haff a terrible poker face,” Pavel said quietly. “Especially ven it comes to hiding how much you vant me.”

Sulu didn’t trust himself to speak, and his hands gripped the edge of the counter so hard, his knuckles became quite white as he tried not to touch.

Pavel apparently had no such reservations. Hesitantly at first, but then with more confidence, the teen’s fingers danced up the muscles of Sulu’s arms, slowly tracing the lines that so many hours at the gym had perfected. Sulu was absolutely breathless as he watched the tiny line of concentration form between Pavel’s eyes, so he wasn’t quite ready when Pavel tilted his head up and captured Sulu’s mouth against his.

His eyes nearly closed as Pavel’s lips found his, so caught up in the exquisite sensations. One of Pavel’s hands had settled on Sulu’s waist, just at the top of the towel. The other slid slowly across Sulu’s toned chest, more muscular than Pavel’s, but still lean and smooth. Sulu was frozen, paralyzed with uncertainty and indecision. Pavel’s teeth nipped lightly at Sulu’s lower lip.

“You can touch too, Hikaru…” Pavel whispered, his breath tickling across Sulu’s lower lip before recapturing his mouth and teasing at his slightly parted lips.

As though he’d been waiting for the words, Sulu’s left hand moved to wrap around Pavel’s slender body, pulling the younger man flush against him. Pavel’s skin was so soft under the calluses of his hands, softer than he remembered… Sulu surprised himself when the soft noise left his lips; not quite a whine, but something similar. The hand that had been resting at Sulu’s waist was darting artfully along the towel.

Sulu could have happily drowned in the sensations he was feeling. Pavel was nipping lightly at Sulu’s neck, and Sulu had tipped his head back to allow the teen better access. A vague voice in his head was hissing that he was practically naked and making out his nearly-as-unclothed underage best friend, but he was finding it very hard to care right then…

And then he remembered that they were due on the bridge soon.

“Pavel…” he gasped out, before biting his lip to stop a moan from escaping.

“Hm?” Pavel hummed as he began to explore Sulu’s collarbone.

“We… bridge… shift…” Sulu mumbled, not able to form a coherent sentence.

Pavel straightened up a little. “Oh shit… you are right…” he muttered, before uttering something in Russian that was probably a curse. “Perhaps ve can pick dis up later?” he asked, hazel eyes glinting mischievously.

“Uhh… well… I don’t…” Sulu stammered.

“It is wery easy to make me stop… All you must do is say de vord,” Pavel said seriously.

Sulu took a deep breath, finally regaining some of his composure. “Yeah… I know…” he said as he pried his right hand loose from the countertop. Pavel caught his hand, his fingertips brushing the scars on Sulu’s palm… They were still too close together, both panting slightly. Sulu removed his hand from Pavel’s back, but as he brought the arm back to his side, he brushed a stray curl off of Pavel’s forehead. Pavel leaned forward slightly and gave Sulu one last chaste peck on the lips, and then they separated, continuing to get ready for their shift as though nothing had happened.

By the time lunchtime arrived, Sulu was feeling drained. The buzz from the encounter with Pavel had faded away completely, leaving the cold reality in its place. As he mused on this, Sulu was surprised to find himself waylaid by Dr. McCoy at the entrance of the mess hall.

“We gotta talk, Sulu,” McCoy drawled.

“Will it take long?” Sulu asked.

“Long enough. Grab something to eat and meet me in my office, okay?”

“Sure,” Sulu agreed.

And a few minutes later, he was digging in to a sandwich while sitting on the patient’s side of McCoy’s desk.

“So what’s so important that you have to interrupt my lunch?” Sulu asked.

“Have you talked to Chekov yet?” McCoy asked.

“We’re friends, Doctor, we talk every day,” Sulu said, purposely being obtuse.

McCoy scowled. “I’m in no mood for your crap,” he informed Sulu.

Sulu sighed. “Fine, yes, I told him. Happy?”

“And how’d he take it?”

“Surprisingly well,” Sulu admitted quietly, dropping his gaze firmly to the sandwich.

McCoy frowned. “I’d have said that’s good news… but somethin’ tells me you don’t agree.”

Sulu didn’t look up or offer any explanation.

McCoy drummed his fingers on the desktop. “Sulu, it almost sounds to me like you were hoping that telling Chekov… would push him away.”

Sulu still didn’t respond.

McCoy sighed, rubbing his fingertips against his forehead. “Listen, I get it… I do. There’s all kinds of psychological trauma that goes along with the kind of abuse you experienced in your home. I know it makes it really hard to form bonds with anyone new. It makes sense… when one of the first and most sacred bonds you’ve ever formed ends up being so corrupted, why try to befriend anyone else if they’re only gonna hurt you…”

Sulu’s lips pressed together, forming a thin line.

“Damnit, Sulu…” McCoy sighed. “Am I gonna hafta spell this out for ya? Whether ya want to admit it or not, you’ve formed a real close friendship, and I don’t like seein’ ya toss it away just ‘cause you’re insecure.”

Sulu finally looked up. “That’s not why I want to push him away. Not really.”

“Then why?” McCoy asked, sounding almost helplessly frustrated.

“Because…” Sulu stopped and licked his lips. “He can do better. I don’t want him to settle for me just because he feels close to me because I stopped him from killing himself.”

McCoy tilted his head. “I don’t think you’re tellin’ me the whole truth… But I do understand your concern. You should try talkin’ to him. The kid may not even be eighteen yet, but he may be the smartest person I’ve ever met… He probably understands what you’re thinkin’ way better than ya realize.”

Sulu nodded and left the office, but as he walked back to the bridge, he couldn’t help but shake his head. “I hope not, Doc… I sure hope not.”

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov was sitting at his desk, drumming his fingers against the surface and trying to get up the courage to make the call to Earth. He wasn’t at all sure how the person on the other end would react to his call, and he WAS sure that Hikaru was not going to be happy with him for making this call…

Before he could psych himself out too badly, he keyed in the number that had taken nearly a full evening’s work to track down. And then he waited for the call to be answered.

A pretty (in a conservative, severe sort of way) Asian-American woman answered the videophone, her expression slightly puzzled. “Hello?” she said cautiously. Then her eyes widened slightly as she recognized Chekov.

“Um, hi. You are Miko, is dat right? Hikaru’s sister?” Chekov said, feeling a little more nervous now that he was actually looking at her.

“Yes…” she said cautiously. Her eyes were now narrowed, her expression a combination of annoyed and suspicious.

“I am Pavel Chekov… I am a friend of Hikaru’s.”

“So I noticed,” she said acidly. “How old are you anyways? You look like a fifteen-year-old.”

Chekov’s cheeks flamed. “I vill be eighteen in two veeks,” he said curtly.

“I knew it,” Miko groaned, rubbing her eyes. “I knew you were underage the second I saw you.”

“Eef you vould please listen to me…” Chekov tried again.

“Did Hikaru put you up to this? I may just strangle him…” Miko snarled. “Bad enough that he calls every day when I made it perfectly clear I never want to talk to him again…”

She seemed ready to go into a full rant, and Chekov had to cut this off. “Please. Hikaru does not know dat I am calling you. But I thought eef you vould not listen to him, perhaps you vould listen to me.”

“I don’t want to hear anything either of you have to say…” Miko began.

“Your brother and I are not haffing sex!” Chekov blurted out. When Miko looked surprised, he rushed on. “Ve are not haffing sex, ve are not dating, noting… ve are only friends.”

Miko stared at him for a moment. “I don’t know if I believe you,” she said at last.

“Hikaru told me… about your family…” Chekov said cautiously. “And I am wery sorry about vat you vent trough…”

“He told you…” Miko gasped. “He… he’s never told anyone…” She looked a little dazed.

“Vell, he told me,” Chekov said, a bit more boldly now.

“But… why?” Miko wondered.

“Vell, one reason is because I am his friend and he tought I should know,” Chekov said.

“Well…” Miko sighed, “you may very well be the first real friend he’s had… ever… That would be a big step for him.” Her sisterly concern was breaking through her anger, much to Chekov’s relief.

“I… I know he has a hard time making friends…” Chekov said quietly. “Ve haff had difficult circumstances…” His fingers reflexively clenched, his nails scraping against the top of the desk. “He has helped me deal vit some problems, and I haff tried to help him… It seems to vork vell for us.”

Miko actually smiled. “I really hope you’re telling me the truth, because that’s something I never thought I’d hear. He really needs a friend he can count on.”

Chekov decided to take the plunge. “Dere is another reason he told me about your family… I… I am… interested in him…” He blushed, staring down at the desktop. “I vas trying to see if he vas also interested in me… I vas so sure he vas… But he said he did not vant…” He paused, shrugging helplessly. “And dat is vhen he told me about your father. So dat I vould understand.”

Miko was quiet as he spoke, one finger pressed to her lips. “So he’s behaved himself then?” she asked at last.

Chekov smiled. “Da, he is de perfect gentleman… I cannot ewen get him to look at me sometimes. Besides, our superior officers are also… hm… shall ve say, concerned for my wirtue…”

Miko chuckled, a warm rich sound that reminded Chekov of her brother’s laugh. “So then I probably wasn’t wrong when I thought he was interested in you… But I was wrong about… about how close you are,” she decided at last.

“I tink dat is fair,” Chekov agreed with a nod.

Miko smiled warmly at him. “You seem very sweet… I hope Hikaru’s being a good friend to you. And I hope you’re being good to him.”

“I vould newer hurt him. Not ewer,” Chekov said emphatically.

“I hope not,” Miko said, just a trace of sternness in her voice. “He’s my baby brother, and I won’t hesitate to fuck up anyone who hurts him.”

Chekov grinned. “I promise, no hurting.”

“Good,” Miko said. “I’ll comm him in a little bit and make sure he’ll do the same to you,” she added, her eyes softening as she looked at him. “You seem so nice… I’d hate for Hikaru to hurt you, even on accident.”

“I tink I vill be okay, but tank you,” Chekov said. “I beliewe Hikaru vill be in his quarters in an hour, perhaps you vill comm him den?”

“Are you sure he didn’t put you up to this?” Miko asked.

“Nyet,” Chekov said, shaking his head. “He did not ewen vant to tell me about your fight… But he has been wery upset… and I hate seeing him hurting.”

A sigh escaped her lips. “You really are sweet… Okay, I’ll comm him in an hour. Thank you. And it was nice to actually meet you, Pavel.”

“Same to you, Miko.”

Miko disconnected the call and Chekov slumped in his chair. That had been an exhausting conversation.

Almost exactly an hour later, Chekov heard Hikaru return to his quarters. And then his heart leapt as he heard the some murmur of voices… A smile hovering on his face, he settled on his bed, his head resting against the top of the headboard so he could hear the muted hum of the voices.

When the sounds of talking faded away, Chekov got to his feet and padded through the connecting bathroom, poking his head into Hikaru’s room. Hikaru was sitting at his desk, one hand propping up his head and a lazy grin on his face as he chatted with his sister. The screen was turned so that Miko had a view of the doors, and she saw Chekov before Hikaru did. She smiled and gave him a small wave. Hikaru turned to see Chekov hesitating in the doorway.

“Sorry,” Chekov mumbled. “I did not hear you talking anymore… I tought you vere finished…” He trailed off, wondering if Miko had explained why she was finally breaking her silence with her brother.

“No, come on in,” Hikaru said, gesturing for him to enter. Chekov did so, perching tentatively on the foot of the bed. “I should have introduced you to both of my sisters ages ago, but this is Miko. Miko, Pavel.”

Miko smiled at Chekov. “We’ve actually already met, but thanks, ‘Karu.”

Hikaru blinked. “You have? When was this?”

“Earlier this afternoon,” Miko said, still grinning. Chekov just looked down at his lap, not sure what Hikaru’s reaction was going to be.

The pieces fell into place immediately. “Pavel! You… Why?” Hikaru finally asked.

“Because you needed to make up,” Chekov said softly. “You haff been wery unhappy lately. So… I called her.”

“’Karu, you’ve been holding out on me,” Miko said. “He’s so sweet. Why didn’t you introduce us before?”

Hikaru was visibly floored. “I… I thought…”

“You thought I’d be upset because he’s underage,” Miko surmised. “So you hid it, and then look what happened.” Hikaru looked like he was about to speak, but she cut him off. “Yes, I overreacted. I know. But you have to stop and think how it looked. If you had just talked about him from the beginning…” She shrugged.

Hikaru uttered a defeated sigh. “Fine, it’s my fault, as usual.” But he was grinning as he said it. “Whatever, I’m just glad you’re talking to me again.”

“No more secrets?” Miko asked.

“No more secrets,” Hikaru promised.

“Good. I already lectured Pavel about this earlier, but don’t you dare hurt him!” Miko said sternly. “He seems much too sweet, so I better not hear about you breaking his heart, got it?”

“Yes ma’am,” Hikaru said with a sarcastic salute, though his heart didn’t seem to be quite as into the joking now.

“You promise you won’t do anything until he’s eighteen?” Miko pressed.

“Promise,” Hikaru said, and Chekov nodded behind him.

“Okay,” Miko said cheerfully. “I’ll talk to you boys later. Bye Pavel, bye ‘Karu.” And she disconnected the call. And Chekov waited as Hikaru slowly turned to face him, silently bracing for whatever Hikaru’s reaction might be.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu didn’t have to be an expert in body language to know what his best friend was thinking at that moment. He looked astonishingly like a puppy that had, oh, torn up a pair of slippers, and was awaiting the inevitable scolding. For the first time, Sulu began to understand why so many of their crewmates compared the teen to a puppy and he had to bite down on the inside of his cheek to avoid cracking a smile at the hangdog expression on Pavel’s face. Instead he propped his elbows on his knees, leaning forward in his chair so that his chin rested on his clasped hands, staring intently at the younger man and waiting to see if he would break the silence.

Pavel fidgeted a little but didn’t speak. The silence stretched between them as Pavel stared down at his hands.

“So…” Sulu began.

“I'm sorry,” Pavel blurted out.

Sulu blinked.

“I crossed a line, didn’t I?” Pavel said, wringing his hands as he sat there, still not looking up. “You did not ewen vant to tell me about de fight, so you must be really mad since I vent and called her and interfered vit your personal life and…”

One of Sulu’s hands darted out to still Pavel’s hands, covering them and gently holding them in place. “Hey,” he said softly. “Calm down, okay? I’m not mad. How can I be mad? You helped me and my sister make up, I’m hardly going to argue with the result.”

Pavel fidgeted a little, almost pulling his hands away, but stilling himself at the last moment. “But you… you try so hard to keep your family… separate. From eweryting else. And I just… blasted trough all of dat. I should haff tought about vat you vould tink…”

Sulu ran his thumb gently over the top of Pavel’s hand, stopping the stammered protests. “For anyone else… Yeah, I’d be pissed off. You’re right. I do like to keep my family separate from everything else. My sisters mean everything to me, and I… I never wanted them to get tangled into my school or work or… anything. But,” he added, a rueful grin crossing his face, “you do seem to like shattering all the barriers I thought I had in place, don’t you?”

“I’m sorry…” Pavel whispered again, but he finally looked up to meet Sulu’s eyes. And this was less of an apology for interfering… and more of an apology for inserting himself so irreversibly into Sulu’s life.

“I’m the one who should be sorry,” Sulu whispered, brushing a stray curl off Pavel’s forehead. “I know I must be the most frustrating person in the world… with all my hang-ups and issues… Do you ever think you’d be better off with someone else?” he asked before he could stop himself.

Those hazel eyes widened. “Vhat? Nyet! Hikaru…”

“Just listen to me for a second…” Sulu said softly. “Don’t you ever think you’d be better off with someone who… who can give you everything? Because I… I can’t, Pavel, I can’t. There are always going to be these walls, I’ve spent my whole life building them up and I can’t just tear them down. This… this thing… you were worried about crossing a line with me, and you shouldn’t have to worry about that. A normal person wouldn’t have a hang-up like that.”

“But…” Pavel tried to say, but Sulu stopped him again.

“If you’re staying with me just because of… of how I…” He stopped again, unsure how to proceed, but Pavel had turned one of his hands over to trace the scars on Sulu’s hands.

“Dat is not it…” Pavel whispered.

Sulu took a deep breath, hating the way he shuddered as he did so. “God, I wish I could believe that.”

“But vhy don’t you?” Pavel asked, his voice just a low whisper.

Sulu wondered how they’d gotten so close, their faces only inches apart. Not answering Pavel’s question, he leaned back, standing up and starting to walk… away. But he made it only a step before Pavel’s hand was clamped down on his wrist. “Pavel, I…” he began.

The only excuse he had was that Pavel surprised him. Sulu never actually expected that Pavel would even try to hold him in place, much less pull him backwards onto the bed. So he really wasn’t ready when that was exactly what occurred.

Pavel was still sitting on the edge of the bed, his hand still clasping Sulu’s wrist. Sulu was lying on his back on the bed suddenly, his knees hooked against the edge and his feet resting on the floor. It took a second for air to return to his lungs. “Damnit, Pavel, what the hell?” he gasped.

“You vere trying to valk avay from dis conwersation,” Pavel said, as though that explained everything.

“I was just going to…” Sulu paused and trailed off, not sure where he had intended to go.

One of Pavel’s eyebrows arched up. “Uh huh…” he said slowly. “So wery conwincing.”

And then Sulu’s breath caught in his throat as Pavel nimbly twisted his body, slinging one leg over Sulu and coming to rest on all fours, the insides of his knees just barely brushing against Sulu’s hips. One of Sulu’s hands was still trapped in Pavel’s grip, but his other one went up… maybe to try to push Pavel off of him, maybe just to touch him… It didn’t actually matter what his plan was because Pavel caught the errant hand and pinned that one down too.

“Uhhh…” Sulu gasped before his brain started working again. “What are you doing?”

“Prowing a point,” Pavel replied.

“By pinning me to my own bed?”

“It got your attention, did it not?” And the grin on Pavel’s face was utterly disarming. Sulu had to take a deep breath, trying to bring his traitorous body back under control.

“I guess so,” Sulu was forced to agree as he tried to focus on not moving his hips. Pavel may have been hovering comfortably above him, but it was still tempting…

“So… you are trying to distract me from your real issues,” Pavel said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You cannot really be vorried dat I vill run off vit someone else,” Pavel said.

“Who says I’m worried?” Sulu argued. “I’ve accepted it. Damnit Pavel, you are absolutely gorgeous… and brilliant… and just… you’re amazing. And I’m not the only person that thinks so. As soon as you open your eyes and see that, you’ll lose interest in me and find someone who’s a better match for you and…” He trailed off at the shocked look on Pavel’s face. “What? It’s true. And I’m okay with that, I promise. I know I’m not good enough for you, and that’s fine.” He was going to say more but the look on Pavel’s face had morphed into something almost… hurt… and he couldn’t speak anymore.

“Is dat really vat you tink of me?” Pavel asked, his voice shaking a little. And his eyes actually looked a little moist.

Sulu gulped, licking dry lips nervously. “What do you mean?”

“You… you really tink I vould be so fickle?” Pavel asked.

“I… that’s not… I just meant… I just want you to know that I would understand if you wanted to pursue someone else, that’s all. I don’t want you to feel… like you’re tied down with me.”

“So you tink I either stay vit you out of gratitude… or pity…” Pavel said, turning the words over on his tongue, and in his mind if his unsettled eyes were any indication. Then his shoulders slumped a little, or as much as they could while still holding Sulu’s hands to the bed and supporting the rest of his body. “I do not know vhich is vorse.”

Sulu gulped, guilt pooling uncomfortably in his stomach. “Pavel, that’s not what I meant.”

“I know it isn’t. Vhich is vhy I vish you vould tell me vhat is really going on in your head,” Pavel said, stumbling his way over the mixed-up W’s and V’s as best he could while still keeping that concerned and upset look on his face. He shifted, his knees pressing just a little more against Sulu’s hips. While Sulu was distracted, Pavel guided the other man’s hands to a point above his head, managing to hold them both with one hand and using the other to cup Sulu’s cheek. “I am not seeing how you could still doubt my interest in you,” he added before leaning forward to gently press his lips to Sulu’s.

Sulu shivered as Pavel’s slightly chapped lips moved against his. If he wanted to, Sulu could easily break the hold Pavel had on him, especially now that the teen was distracted by the kiss… but he found he didn’t want to, not yet. He began kissing back, nipping lightly at the younger man’s lips, and reveling in the soft noises that escaped both of them.

Finally Pavel lifted his head enough to break the kiss and they stared at each other. Pavel’s pupils were blown wide, obvious desire written all over his face as he steadied himself by gripping Sulu’s shoulder. Their hips were aligned, but not touching… and again, it took all of Sulu’s self-control not to buck his hips up, just a little…

“You seem to have a thing for holding me down or pinning me,” he said at last.

Pavel managed a grin. “Vell it does keep you from trying to leawe me.”

“If I left you, it would be for your own good,” Sulu tried to argue.

“Oh, so breaking my heart is good for me?” Pavel asked.

“That’s not…” Sulu began, but he was cut off when Pavel kissed him again. This kiss was a bit more frantic, Pavel seeming almost desperate to prove… something. His devotion perhaps. When they broke apart again, both were panting. “Damnit, Pavel…” Sulu sighed. “Didn’t we just get done telling my sister that we wouldn’t do anything until you turned eighteen?”

“Vell, you told her. I only nodded. But I could hawe meant anyting by my nod.”

Sulu’s eyes narrowed warningly. “Pavel…”

“Besides, dis is not anyting, it vill not go anyvhere.”

“You seem very confident.”

“I am,” Pavel said with a smile. “I vill not do anyting too objectionable… and if I try, you can just stop me. It vould be easy for you to stop me now, but you haff not done it yet.”

Sulu sighed, knowing that it was pointless to deny that. “That’s unfair, you know that, don’t you?”

“Da, I know,” Pavel said with a positively wicked grin.

“You aren’t nearly as innocent as everyone seems to believe,” Sulu sighed.

Pavel leaned in closer, putting his lips nearly on Sulu’s ear. “Only vhen I’m vit you,” he whispered, his warm breath dancing over Sulu’s ear, and this time he couldn’t stop himself from shivering.

“Damnit, Pavel…” he gasped, one hand slipping free to tangle itself in curly hair and pull the younger man in for another kiss. Doing this was probably crossing the line of appropriateness, but… Sulu was finding it very hard to care just then.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov thought his life really might be complete.

Considering how things had been going between him and Hikaru… well, he’d really begun to wonder if Hikaru was ever going to initiate a kiss… but he finally had… and it was amazing.

A little sigh escaped his lips as Hikaru’s tongue invaded his mouth, and fingers tightened in his curls. Chekov ran his fingers down Hikaru’s jawline, then along the more delicate muscles of his neck, pausing at the hollow at the base of his throat, letting his fingers rest there for a moment. He had Hikaru’s other hand pinned above Hikaru’s head, and he ran his fingers lightly across that callused palm, intertwining his fingers with Hikaru’s.

It took a superhuman amount of effort to pull himself away from Hikaru’s very inviting mouth, and he studiously ignored the faint noise of protest. Instead Chekov nudged lightly against Hikaru’s neck, his tongue tracing the same path his fingers had followed a few moments before. A low whine tore itself from Hikaru’s mouth, and the way his head tipped back to further expose his throat indicated that these attentions were not unwelcome.

Chekov shifted carefully, still not letting their hips touch (knowing that Hikaru would certainly cut these activities off if that happened), and his free hand moved from the hollow of Hikaru’s throat to his shoulder and Chekov braced himself that way. Hikaru’s hand was still tangled pleasantly in his curls, and when he nipped lightly at the soft skin on Hikaru’s neck, he felt Hikaru’s fingers clench automatically. The light tug felt amazing, and Chekov quickly repeated the nip, and got the expected result.

“Probably shouldn’t… uhhhh… do that…” Hikaru gasped out, his eyes closed and his head tipping back even further.

“Mhm,” Chekov agreed with a hum as his tongue traced Hikaru’s collar bone. And when he nipped down on that, the reaction was immediate. Hikaru gasped sharply, the hand in Chekov’s hair moved to the back of his neck and seemed ready to push him away. Chekov slid his hand along Hikaru’s shoulder and was barely able to pull the hand away from his neck, managing to pin it to the bed close to Hikaru’s head. Of course, this meant it was harder for Chekov to brace himself at a respectable distance, and he slid downwards, his chest landing on Hikaru’s taunt abdomen.

“Pav…” Hikaru whined, seeming torn between desire and reluctance.

Chekov bit down more firmly Hikaru’s collarbone, worrying the skin between his teeth and sucking until he was sure there would be a brilliant purplish-red bruise. Hikaru’s breathing was harsh and ragged, and his arms trembled beneath Chekov’s.

“Fuck… that… God, just… Fuck!” Hikaru gasped, his eyes flying wide open so that Chekov could see that his pupils had dilated, filling in the dark brown irises almost completely, making his eyes even more black-looking than normal.

And Chekov knew he should really knock this off right now… Much as he wanted to deny it, they had made a promise to his sister just a few minutes earlier, and he still wasn’t eighteen yet… Both excellent reasons to wait… but he didn’t want to.

“You… Fuck, Pav…” Hikaru practically whimpered, and the low moan that left his lips nearly made Chekov come undone as well.

Panting, he pulled back enough to give Hikaru another quick kiss and then stopped to let both of them catch their breath. They stared at each other for a minute, both breathless and obviously wanting more. Hikaru’s eyes were just a little alarmed though, and that was all that kept Chekov from diving right back onto him.

“Is there… gonna be… a mark?” Hikaru panted.

Chekov knew there was, but he pretended not to know, letting go of one of Hikaru’s arms and running his fingers down Hikaru’s neck before peeling back the t-shirt a bit more than was strictly necessary. “Da…” he panted at last. “Dere is a mark already.”

“Ah shit…” Hikaru groaned, dipping his head back a little further to more closely study the ceiling… and exposing his throat to Chekov’s scrutiny. He couldn’t keep his fingers away from lightly stroking Hikaru’s fluttering pulse, and Hikaru lifted one arm, resting it against Chekov’s side, steadying him.

“Do not vorry,” Chekov said, his breath nearly regained. “I made sure… it is low enough… Your uniform collar vill hide it.”

Hikaru tilted his head to look at Chekov again. “You serious?”

Chekov nodded earnestly, biting his lip and enjoying how raw it felt thanks to Hikaru’s ministrations.

“You know where my uniform collar falls, and you made sure to…” Hikaru couldn’t finish the sentence before he started chuckling. “I should not find that so ridiculously hot.”

Chekov couldn’t stop himself from grinning as well. “Vhat can I say? You are de most fascinating ting on de bridge. I haff little else to study.”

Hikaru’s breath hitched, and something changed in his face... It was subtle, but it was there.

“Karu? Vat is wrong?”

“Nothing,” Hikaru replied quickly.

Chekov lifted an eyebrow skeptically. “You are lying to me. Vhy?”

Hikaru sighed, his eyes never leaving the ceiling. “It’s not important.”

Chekov’s eyes narrowed. “You better not be tinking dat I am better off if you leawe me.”

Hikaru flinched just a little at that. “I… well…” He closed his eyes. “You would be better off, you know.”

“I am not understanding vhy you tink dis,” Chekov said quietly, his fingers dancing lightly across the pulse on Hikaru’s wrist. It was racing, and Chekov’s was matching it. Something important was happening here, he was sure of it.

“No, you wouldn’t…” Hikaru sighed. “Fuck, I can’t put this off any longer, can I?”

“Vould you like to? I can vait,” Chekov promised.

“You’re too damn sweet for your own good,” Hikaru told him. “Can you… move… please?”

Chekov complied at once, releasing Hikaru’s wrist and swiveling his hips away from Hikaru, returning to his normal seat at the foot of his best friend’s bed. Hikaru propped himself up on his elbows, still looking just a bit breathless from their frantic make-out session. Without really thinking about it, Chekov reached out and gripped Hikaru’s hand, helping to pull him up to a sitting position. Hikaru glanced down at their clasped hands.

“You see, this is exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t even think about offering to help me, make my life easier.”

“Neither do you.”

“Yes I do, that’s the point. That’s the problem.”

Chekov waited for him to continue.

“Pavel…” Hikaru licked his lips. “How long was your longest relationship?”

Chekov gaped at him. He knew his cheeks must be bright red, but he couldn’t do anything about it. “Vhat kind of question is dat?” he blurted out.

“Please just answer it,” Hikaru said.

Chekov wrinkled his nose unhappily. “Somevhere between a year and eighteen months, I guess. Vhy?” He forcibly shoved away any thoughts of Erica and Jason.

“And how many partners have you had?”

“Including you?”

Hikaru nodded.

Chekov scowled. “Four.”

Hikaru nodded, not seeming surprised by that number. “I’ve had nine. You want to know how long my longest relationship was?”

Not even a little. “Da, you are going to tell me anyvays, so just spill it,” Chekov sighed.

Hikaru seemed to have to fight back a smile, but his expression sobered almost immediately. “Three weeks.”

“Tree…?” Chekov hesitated, sure that he’d heard that wrong.

“Weeks, yes. As in, less than a month.”

“Okay…” Chekov said slowly, turning that over in his mind. “Vell, obwiously you haff not found…”

Hikaru was already shaking his head. “No, no… This is what I’ve been trying to tell you… for weeks now actually. I just can’t do relationships.”

Chekov thought the bottom might have dropped out from his stomach and he had to swallow hard. “Oh…” he whispered. And he hated the guilt that he saw in Hikaru’s eyes, but he had to pull his own shattered heart together before he could deal with Hikaru’s emotions as well.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu had never felt like more of a heel in his life.

Seeing Pavel’s heartbroken face was more than he thought he was capable of bearing. But he managed it, and he didn’t let himself look away, watching every nuance of Pavel’s expression.

“It’s not anything to do with you,” he continued, hoping that if he talked enough, he could come up with some combination of words to fix the damage he’d just done. “I mean, you’re amazing… I love having you as a friend… and, hell, you can see right through me… you know I’d love to do unspeakable things to you,” he added, trying to joke.

Pavel was looking at him oddly now, and he wondered what he’d said that was so weird.

“But… I don’t know, I can’t explain it… something about making commitments and stuff… I run, Pavel. That’s what always happens. Someone wants to get more serious and I can’t handle it, so I take off. I think I broke up with one girl because she wanted to change her relationship status to “taken” on some stupid social networking site. And the three-week guy? I broke up with him because he wanted to make plans to go to prom together. I mean, who does that?” He finally allowed himself to look away from Pavel’s face and down at his clenched hands.

Pavel didn’t say anything for a minute. Then he asked, “So vhy haff you not run from me yet?”

Sulu blinked. “What?”

“Vell…” Pavel hesitated. “I tink I am understanding… You haff ze fling, or ze short-term relationship, but you break it off vhen you feel smothered, da?”

“Something like that, sure,” Sulu agreed.

“So vhy haff I not smothered you yet?” Pavel asked.

Sulu opened his mouth, then closed it. Then he tried again. “Because you didn’t act like you wanted to be in a relationship with me. You acted like you just wanted to be my friend.”

“And I do vant to be your friend,” Pavel agreed, “but is it not ze same ting? I vant your time, your attention, your interest… ze only ting ve did not do vas ze sex and ze intimacy.”

Sulu stared at him. The kid was making a scary amount of sense.

“You haff had plenty of chances to get rid of me for good… but here ve are, still together, still friends,” Pavel said quietly. “I rescued you, and you did ze same for me. You protected me from bullies, stopped me from killing myself tvice… You vatch out for me, you vant to spend time vit me, you let me sleep in your bed…” He licked his lips, but didn’t actually bring up the kissing. “So vhy vould it be different if ve started hawing sex?”

Sulu’s mouth opened and closed a few times before he could make a sound. “It… it just would, okay?”

Pavel clearly found that answer unacceptable.

“I… obviously I’m comfortable with being friends with you, you’re right,” Sulu agreed at last. “And that’s… safe. I can… I can maintain this friendship. It’s… surprisingly easy, actually… I enjoy it. But if we tried to be in a relationship…”

“You tink it vill not vork,” Pavel said slowly. “Vhat if ve vere just friends vit benefits? Vould dat vork better?”

“What? God, Pavel, no! You’re not listening!” Sulu exclaimed. “I value your friendship way too much to toss it aside for a quickie… or several quickies.”

“You vould rader haff nothing… den take a chance?” Pavel questioned.

“To keep you around? Yeah, I would,” Sulu said seriously.

“Vell dat is all vell and good for you, but vhat about me? I am crazy about you, and I do not know if I could…” Pavel paused, his eyes raking over Sulu carefully. “You are so tempting all of ze time. I am not sure I like ze idea of… of denying dis ting between us… just because you are vorried it vill not last.”

Sulu’s eyes closed briefly. “I’m not explaining myself properly, am I? That’s not what I’m worried about… Even if we tried a relationship and it somehow lasted for years, we could still break up down the road.”

Pavel shook his head. “I am confused. Vhat exactly are you vorried about den? If you are afraid of being hurt again, you know dat I vould newer…”

Sulu’s exhale came out sounding almost like a sob, making the teen in front of him jerk a little. Sulu leaned forward, tentatively cupping Pavel’s face with one hand. “Oh Pavel… I’m not worried about getting hurt… I’m really not. I can handle it. I just don’t want to hurt YOU!”

Pavel blinked, then stared wordlessly at him.

“I can be pretty damn insensitive when I break up with other people,” Sulu went on. “I break up with people for ridiculous reasons, and it never really goes well. I’m pretty sure all my exes just absolutely HATE me. I… don’t think I could bear it if I messed things up so badly with you that you didn’t even want to be my friend anymore.”

Pavel tilted his head, and for the first time since they’d started this conversation, he actually looked… pleased. “So you did not really care how much you hurt your ozzer partners?” he asked.

“No, I really didn’t,” Sulu sighed, remembering some of the callous things he’d said when dumping previous partners. “I’m kind of a selfish asshole sometimes… You haven’t really gotten a chance to see that side of me, and I hope you never do. Which is why we’re better off as friends.”

“You did not care about hurting dem… but you vill not date me because you are sure you vill end up hurting me?” Pavel asked, seeming stuck on this point.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying!” Sulu exclaimed. “And the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you!”

And to his astonishment, Pavel actually smiled at him. “Den ve vill be okay,” he declared, leaning forward to give Sulu a chaste peck on the lips.

Sulu couldn’t even move for a moment, he was so shocked. “What… but… How can you be so sure? Haven’t you been listening to a word I’ve said?”

“Of course I haff,” Pavel said with a smile. “I am not sure you haff been listening to yourself though. If you are already so vorried about vhether or not I vill be hurt… den you vill be careful not to hurt me. Just as I vill be careful not to hurt you.”

Sulu couldn’t even speak at this point. Pavel made it sound so simple.

“Ve can take our time,” Pavel continued. “I do not mind, really. I just… I do not vant to lose you because of… because of dis. Ve can work around dis.”

“You sound really sure of yourself,” Sulu said softly. “Why would you ever want to attach yourself to someone like me when you could find a much easier relationship…?”

“Relationships are not supposed to be easy,” Pavel said dismissively. “You are supposed to find someone you love and you are supposed to try to make it vork, no matter vhat. And dat is vhat I vant to do vit you.”

Sulu felt a little dizzy. “I don’t understand you… at all… How did you become so… wise?”

Pavel shrugged, a little grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I do not know. But I hope you understand vhat I am saying. You know I haff issues too, but you seem okay vit dem.”

“Sure, as long as I never catch you putting a razor blade to your wrists again,” Sulu said, just a little caustically.

Pavel nodded. “Da, I know. I promise, newer again, not ewen if ve break up in ze future. And at ze same time, I am ready to be here to help you. Dat is vhat people do vhen dey are in love.”

“I still don’t know why you seem so sure I’m in love with you,” Sulu said, trying to sound sarcastic and failing completely.

“If you haff as many intimacy issues as you say, you should haff pushed me avay a long time ago,” Pavel said bluntly. “You must haff found something about me dat you like.”

“Only one something?” Sulu asked, loosely grasping the teen’s shoulder and pulling him a little closer.

“Is dere more dan one?” Pavel asked just a little mischievously.

“They haven’t made numbers big enough to count all the things I lik… I love about you,” Sulu said, forcing the word past his lips with a little effort. And it was worth it to see the grin that lit up Pavel’s face for the brief moment before he pulled the teenager close, kissing him soundly.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov didn’t normally let people touch his curls.

Partly this was because the people that touched his curls tended to make obnoxious cooing noises, treating him more like a puppy or a very small child rather than the teenage genius he was. And partly this was because these people had a tendency to get their fingers tangled in the curls and PULL and it was uncomfortable. Or they just ruffled the curls and made such a mess of them… It was hard enough to keep his hair neat already, and he just really didn’t need to deal with people messing it up all the time.

But Hikaru… for some reason, Chekov didn’t mind those fingers in his curls, not even when they pulled. And he especially didn’t mind them right now… They were lying together on Hikaru’s bed, their legs tangled together and making Chekov feel warm despite the layers of clothes between their bodies, his head pillowed against Hikaru’s chest… and Hikaru was running his fingers through Chekov’s curls with a languorous slowness, gently untangling every knot he found, making sure his fingers never tugged on a single strand of hair. Chekov was slowly finding it in him to envy dogs and cats if this was how it felt for them to be petted by an attentive owner.

He had nearly dozed off under these gentle ministrations when Hikaru cleared his throat. “This may be a dumb question, but you… um… you don’t mind that I’m… with your hair?”

Chekov barely managed to open one eye, though he didn’t know why he bothered since Hikaru couldn’t see his face anyways. “You haff almost put me to sleep, does dat sound like I am hating dis?”

“Well, you don’t like when most people…”

“You are not most people.” And with that firm declaration, Chekov let himself relax again. For a moment, Hikaru’s fingers were still, but then they began to move again, so feather-light against his scalp that it felt more like a dream.

They were quiet for a while, when Hikaru whispered something. It took a moment for Chekov’s sleepy brain to process that the words he whispered were “Thank you.”

“For vat?” Chekov asked, his accent made thicker than usual by sleepiness.

“For…” There was a moment’s hesitation, during which those gentle fingers stopped moving again. “For… stopping.”

Chekov frowned slightly, trying to work out that enigmatic answer. Then he felt a grin tug at the corners of his mouth. “Vell, you are finally seeing my side of tings… I do not haff to tempt you anymore.”

Hikaru’s short bark of laughter surprised him a little, but from the way his fingers went back to stroking through Chekov’s curls, the answer had been enough.

“Anyvays, to… to do anyting… it vould be breaking trust of many people… who haff done a lot for us…” Chekov continued.

“Yeah…” Hikaru agreed quietly. “My sister… Dr. McCoy… even the captain. Anyways, your birthday is only a couple weeks away… It’ll probably take me that long just to get used to the idea of… of this.” He paused for a minute before adding, “I don’t know if I’ll ever stop pinching myself. I still don’t quite believe it.”

“Beliewe vat?”

“Believe that you want me that much… want to be… with me… knowing all that you know about me…”

Chekov finally moved from his very comfortable position so he could look Hikaru in the eyes. “Stop,” he said quietly. “Just… stop.”

“Stop what? Hikaru asked, confusion darkening his already almost black eyes.

“Stop acting like you do not deserve me,” Chekov replied bluntly.

Hikaru blinked.

“I may not be eighteen yet, but I tink I am smart enough to know vat I vant. And I vant you… all of you… all your secrets, all your problems, all de tings dat make you YOU.”

Hikaru’s hand moved to brush soft curls off of Chekov’s forehead. The very tip of his tongue appeared, wetting his lips as he prepared himself to speak again. “You are so gorgeous… and so brilliant… Why on earth would you want to attach yourself to me?”

“Because you…” Chekov hesitated for a moment, trying to decide what words he could use to wipe away the insecurity written all over his best friend’s face. He thought Hikaru was gorgeous and brilliant too, but parroting those words back to him just felt like it would cheapen this entire conversation. “Because even though you are insecure now, you do vant dis to vork. And you vill newer hurt me, not ewen if it kills you.”

“You’re really confident about things I’m not even sure of myself…” Hikaru said softly. “Why are you so sure?”

“Do you remember de night ve… met?” Chekov asked, hoping he wasn’t blushing.

Hikaru glanced away. “Not enough of it, but yeah,” he said, the tone of his voice carefully neutral.

Chekov wasn’t going to shy away from this conversation though. “I came on to you because I thought you vere hot. I did not expect to get attached. But I did. You vere different from others.”

Hikaru finally looked back at him. “I’m scared to ask but… how?”

Chekov smiled, that sweet endearing smile that he knew would make Hikaru melt every time. “You vere gentle.”

Whatever Hikaru had been expecting him to say, that clearly wasn’t on the list. “I… what?”

“You vere gentle,” Chekov repeated softly. “Ewery touch… ewery kiss…” He paused, shrugging helplessly. “Ewen den, not ewen knowing me, you did not vant to hurt me. I tink you care more dan you vant to giwe yourself credit for.”

Hikaru still seemed struck dumb by the revelation, for his mouth moved soundlessly for a moment before he finally shut it.

Chekov paused, wondering how far he dared to carry this conversation. “Vhen I… vhen I tried to kill myself…” he began.

Hikaru visibly flinched. “Pavel, can we… can we not talk about that? Please?” His eyes were haunted as he stared at a spot somewhere to Chekov’s left. “I… god, I still have nightmares about you… on that bathroom floor… and blood just… just everywhere, Pav…” He shivered and his arms tightened around Chekov’s shoulders.

Chekov winced, hating to see such pain on Hikaru’s face, and knowing he was responsible for putting it there. “Nyet, not dat time… vhat happened later… vit de glass… vhen you got your scar…”

“Oh…” Hikaru said, not really relaxing. He glanced at his palm. “Yeah… that wasn’t much better, if we’re being honest here.”

Chekov winced again. He was going to have to do a lot of work in the future to make up for those rash actions… He quickly covered Hikaru’s hand with his own, fingers idly tracing the scar he’d left behind. “Ewen stopping me from hurting myself… you vere still gentle. You could haff bruised me, it vould haff been… justifiable. But… you did not. You did not vant to hurt me, ewen vhen I vas trying to hurt myself.”

Hikaru stared at him, still unable to speak, dozens of emotions flitting across his face, too fast for Chekov to identify. Then without a word, he pulled Chekov close to him and just held him tightly. And if Chekov thought he felt tears fall onto the top of his head, he never mentioned it.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

After a conversation like that, there was no way in hell that Hikaru Sulu was letting his best friend (and sort-of new boyfriend, he supposed) return to his own room, so they spent another night curled up together in his bed. And Sulu wouldn’t admit it out loud right now (maybe someday, but not today), but he was having a hard time giving that up… It was so much easier to keep the nightmares at bay when Pavel was sleeping next to him, and Sulu was starting to wish he’d taken advantage of that a while ago.

Sulu managed to wake up before his alarm went off, and he just lay there, watching Pavel sleep. A fond smile crossed his face as he brushed an errant curl off Pavel’s forehead. Pavel made a pleased noise, and Sulu silently resolved to never… ever… break this boy’s heart.

His alarm started blaring a few minutes later, and the pair quickly got ready for their shift. As they walked up to the bridge, chatting about nothing in particular, they forgot all about their resolution to make Spock think they were avoiding each other, and so they entered the bridge together, taking their seats at their consoles in near-perfect unison.

And Sulu immediately felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as the full-force of a Vulcan glare was turned directly on him. Automatically, his hand moved to rub at the spot on his collarbone where Pavel had marked him. But otherwise he pretended not to notice Spock’s attention, and managed to keep chatting with Pavel as though nothing was wrong.

When they headed to lunch, Pavel was waylaid by Leslie and her friends almost immediately. Sulu couldn’t fail to notice that the feisty redhead was becoming more and more aggressive as Pavel’s eighteenth birthday approached, and he tried to pretend that it didn’t bother him.

“So what happened?”

Sulu glanced up to see Nyota sitting down across from him as she always did when she saw him eating alone. “What do you mean?” he asked her.

“I mean, you two have been going out of your way to avoid each other during your shift… don’t think we haven’t noticed… you never come onto the bridge together or leave together… until today.”

“Yeah, I know, and did you see that Spock almost shat a brick when he saw us together this morning?” Sulu pointed out, rubbing the back of his neck. “I swear, I have burns from that glare of his, it was that intense.”

Nyota chuckled. “Yeah, he’s good at that, isn’t he?” she said ruefully. “But he…”

“Don’t say that he means well, I get it, I just don’t want to hear it, okay?” Sulu interrupted her.

“Okay, okay,” she said, holding up her hands in a gesture of surrender. After a beat, she added, “So what changed?”

“Hm?”

“Well, you came onto the bridge together this morning. What happened?”

“Oh… We weren’t thinking about it, I guess… We were just talking as we walked up here, and we just… got caught up in the conversation, is all.” And Sulu really had to resist rubbing that spot on his neck just then.

“Hmm,” she hummed skeptically. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”

Sulu stared at her for a moment before going back to his meal.

“Something happened!” she insisted. Then one eyebrow went up. “You didn’t…?”

“No!” Sulu groaned, rubbing his forehead with the heel of his hand. “Jeeze, Nyota…”

“Well, it’s not that unreasonable… Have you seen the way he looks at you sometimes? Like you’re a perfectly cooked steak that he can’t WAIT to devour.”

Sulu rolled his eyes. “Thanks for putting that visual in my head. I really appreciate it.”

Nyota tilted her head a bit to one side and grinned that adorable grin of hers. “Aww, come on… It’s really cute that he’s got this adorable little puppy-love-type crush on you.”

“Hm,” Sulu grunted non-committedly.

Nyota’s eyes narrowed and she leaned towards him. “Hikaru. Sulu. You know you can talk to me, right? It can’t be anything that bad if you guys are getting along so well.”

Sulu sighed. “Last night, I may have essentially told him he should think about focusing his attentions on someone else, like Leslie or someone.”

Nyota sat back again, shock etched all over her face. “Hikaru, you did not!” she gasped. “You two are so good together… you could be the great love story of this ship…”

Sulu rolled his eyes again. “Yeah, cuz that’s what we’re going for… fulfillment of your soap opera fantasies…”

“No, that’s the one where McCoy or somebody has an evil twin that seduces me or something before wreaking havoc on the ship,” Nyota teased. When Sulu just stared at her, she went on, “But really, you guys are so close and you obviously like each other, why on earth would you try to mess that up before it even began?”

Sulu stared down at his plate. “It’s… I just have this… I’m not good with relationships, okay? And I told him that, and that I don’t want to hurt him or break his heart or whatever.”

“And what did he say?” she asked.

Sulu grinned. “That I’m completely ridiculous and obviously I’m crazy about him if I’m so worried about the intactness of his heart before we’ve even start dating.”

Nyota’s grin seemed to threaten to split her face. “I knew there was something I liked about that kid!” she crowed.

“What, that he’s a know-it-all and stubborn as a mule?” Sulu asked sarcastically.

“He’s wise and he’s not afraid to go after what he wants,” Nyota corrected him gently, reaching out to touch his hand. Her eyes flicked to one side. “Is he going absolutely ape-shit right now?”

Sulu glanced behind her, and Pavel was definitely glaring even though he almost certainly couldn’t actually see her hand on his. “Oh, big time.”

“Get him over here then. I want to congratulate you guys. I’m assuming you’re officially dating now, right?”

“Uhh…” Sulu stammered, rubbing the back of his head. “I… I don’t know if I’d say that exactly… I mean…”

“Yeah yeah, still underage… Come on, you guys can be PG while dating, right?”

“I’m not even sure I want to go that far with Spock watching me like a hawk every time I’m within ten feet of Pavel,” Sulu tried to joke.

Nyota shook her head. “Talk to Dr. McCoy or Kirk if you’re having trouble with him again. I know Kirk’s rooting for you guys too, he’ll make Spock back off.”

“Yeah I know,” Sulu agreed. After a moment, he added, “Thanks.”

She smiled, then tapped the back of his hand with two fingers. “So, you gonna call him over or what?”

“Oh, right,” Sulu remembered, turning his head to catch Pavel’s eye. It wasn’t difficult; the boy was still glaring at Nyota, but his face relaxed into a half-smile when he caught Sulu’s eye. Sulu grinned back and subtly nodded his head toward the seat next to him. Pavel was on his feet at once, murmuring what was likely a hasty apology to the rest of his table. Nyota removed her hand before Pavel made it to the table and she grinned when Pavel covered that hand himself.

“Hey Pavel,” she said, a note of smugness barely present in her voice.

“Hello Nyota,” Pavel replied brightly. Then he turned to Sulu. “Vhat did you vant?”

“Nothing really,” Sulu said. “Nyota wanted you, actually.”

Pavel turned a quizzical head in her direction.

“I just wanted to say congratulations on getting this ridiculous man to finally realize how much he loves you,” she said, spearing a bit of lettuce from her replicated salad.

“Oh…” Pavel said, eyes widening a bit and glancing between the two of them in confusion. “But… how did you…?”

“She’s a nosey meddler,” Sulu replied with a smirk. She made an offended noise and then they all laughed.

As they got up to leave, Leslie was standing near the doorway, and she gestured frantically for Pavel to come over. Pavel groaned softly.

“Ah… nyet… ‘Karu, how do I tell her to go avay?” he lamented.

Sulu chuckled. “You sure you want to get rid of her?”

The look Pavel shot him could have curdled milk. “She is alvays giwing me hints dat she vants to date me… and I giwe her hints dat I am not interested… but she does not take dem.”

Sulu rested his hand for a moment on the small of Pavel’s back. “Maybe your hints have been too subtle so far.”

Pavel looked up at him through those too-adorable long lashes. “You tink so?”

“I do,” Sulu agreed. “You should be blunter.”

“Any suggestions?” Pavel asked innocently.

Sulu bit his lip for a moment, undecided. But the hopeful look on Pavel’s face made up his mind for him, and he ducked his head quickly to give Pavel a chaste peck on the lips. It lasted for only a second, but the way the teen’s eyes lit up made that second completely worth it.

“See you on the bridge then,” Sulu said, his hand brushing Pavel’s shoulder for a minute before he turned away to catch up with Nyota (who looked positively ecstatic about seeing them kiss). And if the shocked/jealous/baffled look on Leslie’s face made everything even more worth it, well… Sulu wasn’t telling.

Chapter Text

When Pavel Chekov woke up alone only three days before his eighteenth birthday, he experienced a moment of panicked confusion. Now that he and Hikaru had come to an agreement about their mutual attraction, Chekov hadn’t spent a single night in his own room. Although they’d kept everything perfectly PG, it was still nice to be able to enjoy each other’s company without worrying about being judged by the rest of the crew.

It was a very careful balancing act for the pair, but especially for Chekov. Hikaru was naturally a cautious person, so it was extremely rare for him to do anything besides look, and maybe let his hand linger on Chekov’s shoulder or back for a second too long. But Chekov had many admirers on the ship, and the younger man wanted to let it be known once and for all that he wasn’t available.

So there had been the lingering glances, sitting close enough at lunch that their shoulders brushed while they talked with Nyota, and (on VERY rare occasions) a quick peck on the cheek or lips, usually given by Chekov to Hikaru. But there was never anything overt, nothing to warrant complaints to superior officers or (heaven forbid) Starfleet Headquarters… But keeping things kosher was taking its toll, and Chekov was relieved that soon they wouldn’t have to hide their love behind closed doors.

But if they had to be behind closed doors anyways… might as well make the most of it.

Chekov finally heard the noise of running water in the bathroom. So Hikaru had woken up before his alarm and turned it off so he could get ready without disturbing Chekov’s slumber. It was sweet, and Chekov couldn’t help but smile as he got out of bed.

Hikaru was just finishing shaving when Chekov walked in, and Chekov took the opportunity to admire his boyfriend’s shirtless and towel-draped physique. And his eyes lingered for an extra moment on the fresh bruise on Hikaru’s collarbone, dutifully replaced by Chekov whenever it started to fade. He enjoyed marking the other man as his, and the fact that it drove Hikaru wild only made it better. As of yet, Chekov was still unmarked, as they had decided by mutual consent that it was better to maintain plausible deniability. After all, a hickey on the underage navigator would be a bit difficult to explain away…

Chekov realized he was licking his lips and he stopped quickly before Hikaru noticed. Hikaru caught his eye in the mirror and finally turned his head.

“What?” he asked. “Did I miss a spot?”

So he’d been caught staring… at least he hadn’t been caught licking his lips… Chekov had to take a moment to swallow, and Hikaru waited for him to speak.

“Nyet… you did not miss a spot… You are just…” He hesitated a second longer, then took a few steps until he was just close enough to touch, though he didn’t yet. “You are just… stunning.” And he finally reached out, his fingertips brushing the smooth skin on Hikaru’s cheek.

For just a moment, Hikaru’s eyes fluttered shut and he leaned into the touch, then his eyes snapped open again. “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for shift?” he asked.

“Can I kiss you good morning first?”

A small half-smile appeared on Hikaru’s face, and his shining eyes were enough of an answer, so Chekov leaned in and kissed him. And he couldn’t resist kissing more than just his mouth, lips brushing against the smooth cheeks and stubble-free chin… feather-light kisses that teased and promised more than they satisfied either party. But Hikaru’s aftershave was intoxicating, and Chekov could have happily drowned in the scent, letting it overwhelm his senses.

Hikaru gasped as Chekov pressed his lips more forcefully against the dark bruise on his collarbone. He had turned completely to face Chekov while they kissed, and now his hands gripped the edge of the counter. Chekov took advantage of that, pressing his body against Hikaru’s, and yes, there was proof that Hikaru was finding all this very sexy…

A soft chuckle distracted him from placing kisses down the smooth planes of Hikaru’s chest. Chekov glanced up. “Vhat is funny?”

“Just…” Hikaru gasped as Chekov blew on a spot he’d just kissed. “Just that… no one would believe me… if I told them…” He finally pried his hands off the counter, sliding them up Chekov’s t-shirt, and the younger man squirmed at the contact. Soon the t-shirt was on the floor, and Hikaru’s fingers were dancing across Chekov’s bare back.

“Told dem vhat?” Chekov pressed when Hikaru fell silent again.

“Told them how aggressive you can be… and how unbelievably hot it is seeing you like this,” Hikaru finally panted out as Chekov’s tongue teased at first one nipple, then the other. “Damnit, Pavel…” he moaned, dipping his head back. “You should not be so good at this.” For a moment, his nails scrabbled against Chekov’s skin, seeking purchase and finding none.

Chekov smirked. “Dere are many tings I am good at dat I should not be. Vould you like to find out vhat one of dose tings is?” His hands danced along Hikaru’s hipbones, just on the edge of the towel wrapped around his boyfriend’s waist.

It took a moment for Hikaru to catch up. “Pavel, that is such a bad idea,” he said, though the breathlessness of his voice belied the words a little. He snatched Chekov’s hands, holding them still and not letting them remove the towel.

Chekov knew his smile was perfectly sweet and innocent. “It is not sex, so ve are still keeping to the rules. Besides… ve haff both been haffing a difficult time. Dis vill take de edge off.”

“It still counts as…” Hikaru began, but he shut up when Chekov’s leg slipped between his… Chekov’s thigh pressing against him, the towel creating friction that Chekov could only imagine was overwhelming. Chekov lightly pressed one finger to Hikaru’s lips.

“Hush. Let me.”

For just a moment, he thought Hikaru wasn’t going to let go of him… not that he really minded being pinned by those arms, made so muscular by fencing and working out. But slowly the grip loosened, and Chekov was allowed to slide to his knees in front of Hikaru. Chekov’s hands shook for only a moment as he carefully unwrapped the towel, and Hikaru bit his lip as his cock sprang free.

Hikaru gasped as Chekov’s fingers wrapped themselves around his cock, and the moan that escaped his lips when Chekov’s tongue traced the head was positively obscene. It took every ounce of self-control that Chekov possessed to keep going slowly, but he didn’t want to rush anything, not now. His tongue moved languidly down the shaft, soaking in the taste that was so uniquely and wonderfully Hikaru. For a moment, Hikaru’s fingers gripped Chekov’s shoulders, but then they were gone, and Chekov looked up to see Hikaru was gripping the edge of the counter instead.

Chekov barely resisted rolling his eyes and glanced up at Hikaru through his eyelashes, fixing him with a carefully seductive stare. “I vill not break,” he whispered, one hand covering one of Hikaru’s and bringing it back to his own shoulder. And he gripped Hikaru’s hip with one hand before taking as much of Hikaru’s cock into his mouth as he could manage. And he was rewarded by fingernails digging into not one but both shoulders. There was no pressure in either direction, no pushing or pulling; only the dig of very appreciative nails as a stream of curses left Hikaru’s lips.

Chekov pressed more firmly against Hikaru’s hip, guarding against what he was sure would be inevitable thrusting, but Hikaru was surprisingly steady, even if he was slowly going to pieces. The other hand moved to pump at the shaft even as his tongue danced over every inch he could reach. And when he sucked, he felt Hikaru shiver and heard the low whining noise he made.

It was over far too soon, in Chekov’s estimation. Then again, he wouldn’t have minded doing this all day, so perhaps he was a tad biased. But when he heard Hikaru’s breath hitch and felt the pressure from his fingers change, Chekov knew exactly what was coming, and he swallowed down everything, his fingers still working Hikaru’s cock as he shuddered through his orgasm. And then Hikaru’s hands were off his shoulders and Chekov could feel Hikaru sagging slightly against the counter… but he still managed to grip Chekov’s wrist in one hand, pulling the younger man to his feet and bringing him in for a kiss.

“Talented,” Hikaru murmured, his lips brushing against Chekov’s, they were still so close. “God, Pavel, you’re so unbelievably amazing.”

“Flatterer,” Chekov teased, kissing him again.

“Let me…” Hikaru began.

Chekov shook his head. “Nyet, dere is not time. Later, maybe,” he added with a sweet smile. Hikaru looked ready to fall to the floor, so Chekov left him to it, slipping into the shower and taking himself in hand before he could get to the business of getting ready for another day on the bridge. His head rested for a moment against the shower wall as he replayed every nuance of Hikaru’s expression… and somehow that was more erotic than any of his previous fantasies.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu was of the opinion that it was simply not right for someone to look that good on his knees… but Pavel was always full of surprises. That very talented tongue made him dizzy, and it had been a challenge not to start thrusting into that warm cavern that was Pavel’s mouth, but Sulu was absolutely a gentleman and that sort of thing just wasn’t done.

Somehow that gentlemanly streak didn’t stop him from leaving deep red scratches scoring Pavel’s shoulders and shoulder blades. But at least those would be easily concealed beneath the uniform shirt.

As the aftershocks of his orgasm wore off, Sulu couldn’t help but notice the small white trail that had managed to slip free from Pavel’s mouth. Between that and the scratches, he looked thoroughly debauched and Hikaru had to resist the urge to ruffle those curls to enhance the effect. There would be time for that later, he reminded himself sternly. But he did pull Pavel to his feet, kissing away the evidence, though there was little he could do about the slightly swollen lips. Tasting himself mixed with Pavel’s unique flavor was an experience that Sulu decided would also have to be repeated.

“Talented,” he heard himself sigh, even as he took another taste. “God, Pavel, you’re so unbelievably amazing.”

“Flatterer,” Pavel teased, kissing him back, but not quickly enough that Sulu didn’t see the little smirk that appeared and vanished in just a moment.

Hikaru was also a big believer in mutual satisfaction. Although he wasn’t sure how much time they had before shift, surely there was enough to reciprocate in some way… “Let me…” he started to say.

But Pavel was a step ahead of him (of course he was!), and already moving towards the shower. “Nyet, dere is not time. Later, maybe.” And that smile on his face left Sulu in no doubt that Pavel would be collecting on this promise, even if he hadn’t strictly agreed yet. Then again, saying the words weren’t necessary… and Pavel knew that.

While Pavel showered, Hikaru cleaned up (though Pavel had been thorough and little was required) and dressed, making sure that he was completely presentable and showed no signs of their little morning activities. And he was ready to leave when Pavel emerged, fully dressed, from the bathroom with only minutes to go before their shift started. They left Sulu’s quarters together and headed straight for the lift, which was deserted as they began their ascent to the bridge.

“Remember,” Pavel said suddenly, “Kommander Spock is a touch-telepath.”

Sulu couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “Pav, if you think that what we did this morning is worse than some of the things I’ve thought about doing with you, you’re crazy.”

Pavel looked at his, eyebrows going up and interest snapping in those hazel eyes.

“Trust me, I know better than to let Spock get access to my thoughts,” Sulu said with a rueful grin. “I’d rather not be thrown in the brig…”

Pavel nodded, but his eyebrows remained in place.

“And no, I’m not telling you about those fantasies. Not now, anyways,” he amended. “Maybe later.” And he ruffled Pavel’s curls just as the lift doors open, setting off a stream of Russian exclamations that made Nyota stare at both of them as they stepped onto the bridge. She grabbed her PADD and typed something into it. As they sat down at their consoles, Pavel’s PADD beeped at him.

“What does Nyota want?” Sulu asked, lowering his voice as much as he could and praying that Spock couldn’t hear them.

Pavel glanced back at their commander, then boldly scooted his chair until it bumped into Sulu’s, showing him the Russian letters gracing his screen. Sulu lifted his eyebrows expectantly.

“She is vanting to know vhat ve vere talking about in de lift,” Pavel said, a mischievous grin appearing on his face, one that Sulu was relieved that no one else could see.

“And what will you tell her?” Sulu asked.

And he couldn’t help but admire Nyota’s cleverness. Spock may have known many languages, but it was common knowledge that he was not fluent in most of the Terren dialects since everyone on Earth was able to speak Standard. Questioning Pavel in his native tongue insured that Spock would not be privy to the conversation… and might increase her chances of picking up some juicy gossip.

Pavel smirked, typed a few characters, and sent it back to Nyota. A moment later, she swiveled in her seat to stick her tongue out at Pavel… and Sulu, though he didn’t know why he had to be included in that.

“Okay, people, shift has started!” Kirk called out, shooting a glare at his communications officer, pilot, and navigator. It lacked any real venom though, and everyone just nodded to him. Pavel slid back to his seat, casually ignoring Sulu’s attempts to catch his eye. It was nearly forty minutes later before Sulu was able to speak to him properly again.

“Come on, what did you say to her?” Sulu hissed, still worrying that Spock would overhear them.

Pavel finally turned to face Sulu, and he leaned in close, so close that his lips brushed the edge of Sulu’s ear, making him shiver in his seat. “I told her to mind her own business,” he murmured in Sulu’s ear. At Sulu’s incredulous look, he added, “Vhat did you tink I vas going to tell her, dat I gawe you head in de bathroom before shift? As if!” he snorted.

The snort and the indignant look on his face, coupled with the way he’d said everything, pushed Sulu into an uncontrollable fit of giggles, and he had to clap his hand firmly over his mouth to muffle the sounds before Kirk had to reprimand him for not taking their work on the bridge seriously.

Yes, there were a great many things Sulu loved about the young man next to him…

Chapter Text

Hikaru Sulu couldn’t sleep.

Of late, that hadn’t been nearly as much of a problem for him as it usually was. Once he’d been plagued by nightmares every time he closed his eyes, but now he slept peacefully more often than not, his arms wrapped around his boyfriend, his nose buried in said boyfriend’s curls…

But tonight… tonight, Sulu simply couldn’t sleep.

They’d retired early that night. Pavel had fallen asleep almost immediately, but Sulu continued to fiddle with his PADD. Kirk had been sending him messages at ten-minute intervals for the last hour.

Remember, the ensign is still underage until midnight.

Spock wants to check on you. I’ll try to distract him.

The computer says Chekov is in your room. You two better be behaving.

After that particular message, Sulu had finally comm’d him back in frustration, saying that they had been watching a movie, but Pavel had fallen asleep, and would Kirk please leave him alone…

But of course Kirk would not make life so easy.

Spock doesn’t believe you.

I don’t know that I do either, actually.

What’s the Russian word for ‘milkshake’?

After THAT message, Sulu had stared incredulously at the PADD for a full minute before finally replying that he had no earthly idea, and he certainly wasn’t waking Pavel up for something so idiotic. He thought briefly of telling Kirk to ask Nyota, but he didn’t want to run the risk that Kirk would actually do that… and then she’d be out for his blood.

You should make sure to register your relationship officially with Starfleet tomorrow.

Sulu’s eyebrows went up, nearly touching his hairline. He’d thought relationships between crewmembers was acceptable as long as one wasn’t a superior officer. Even though he was technically a lieutenant while Pavel was only an ensign, Pavel was a member of the bridge crew, reporting directly to Kirk… this should have been a nonissue, and he told Kirk so.

Really? Is that true? I better ask Spock. Hang on a sec…

See, this is why he’s my First Officer! He knows all the rules I plan on breaking, might break, will break, or am just plain ignoring. Isn’t it great?

Sulu rolled his eyes and sat the PADD aside, fully intending to ignore any further messages in favor of TRYING to get some sleep. But it simply was not to be. The messages started coming at two-minute intervals instead of ten.

I’m going to keep on assuming that you two are being good until midnight.

You guys better not be late for shift tomorrow though. You know I really can’t excuse stuff like that.

Okay, I might excuse it ONE TIME… it IS a special occasion and all.

But I really would appreciate it if you were on time. And well-rested. As much as you can be at least.

Bones told me not to say this, but I’m going to anyways. Make sure you’re safe and all.

Bones is great, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to treat either of you for freaky STD’s.

Though you both seem like good kids, you’re probably clean. But still. Just a precaution.

If Bones says I have any STD’s, he’s lying.

But then again, you probably don’t care about that, do you?

Okay, really now? IT’S NOT MIDNIGHT YET!!!! SULU!!!

Irritated, Sulu finally grabbed the PADD and scrolled through the new message before rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand. He groaned and typed out a reply, furiously repeating that Pavel was asleep, that he was TRYING to sleep, no one was having sex before, during, or after midnight, and would Kirk kindly leave them the hell alone until shift in the morning?

But life simply isn’t that easy, especially when trying to deal with James T. Kirk.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

Sulu groaned, wondering why the hell Kirk was bringing up ancient history memes. But he wiggled out of bed and sat down in his desk chair. Then he snapped a picture of Pavel, curled up in his bed and sound asleep. He sent that pic to Kirk, followed by a pic of himself, fully clothed in his pajamas, scowling and flipping off the camera. He could practically hear Kirk’s delighted chortles already.

Okay, fine… I believe you. Go to sleep, Lieutenant.

Sulu rolled his eyes again before responding with a quick “Goodnight, Captain” and falling into bed next to Pavel again. He wrapped his arms loosely around the teenager and settled into his pillow. Pavel stirred sleepily, moving to pillow his head against Sulu’s shoulder.

“’Karu?” he mumbled sleepily, hazel eyes flickering open just a millimeter.

“Yeah, just me,” Sulu agreed quietly.

“Time is it?” Pavel mumbled, eyes already slipping closed again.

“Late enough,” Sulu murmured back.

“Hmmm…” Pavel hummed as he fell asleep again.

Sulu lay there for a moment, his fingers gliding slowly though those soft curls. Then he leaned forward, pressing a light kiss to Pavel’s forehead. “Happy birthday,” he whispered.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pavel Chekov didn’t feel any different when he woke up that morning. Intellectually, he knew that he wouldn’t feel different. He was only a day older, even if that day meant that he was a year older… It shouldn’t affect him in any significant way. And yet… he couldn’t help but feel just a little let down.

Hikaru was still sound asleep, his face pressed into the juncture of Chekov’s neck and shoulder. Chekov could have laid there forever, enjoying the closeness. It didn’t seem to matter how many mornings he woke up in Hikaru’s bed, it never seemed to get old.

Chekov had recently perfected the art of reaching towards the bedside table and grabbing his PADD without dislodging Hikaru. This gave him something to do while still maintaining the cuddling. And when Chekov opened his messages, he was delighted to find that he already had a number of birthday-related messages, some from other crewmembers and some from Earth. He tapped out responses to a few of them, then his eyes widened when he saw one from Miko Sulu. He opened it cautiously, wondering how many passive admonishments would be concealed in her message…

But he was pleasantly surprised. She wished him a happy birthday, politely inquired if he and Hikaru were still together, and cautiously extended some congratulations on their relationship being official if they were (and she was assuming they were, as her brother hadn’t said otherwise). Chekov was amused… obviously Hikaru hadn’t quite gotten around to telling his sisters that they had been official for a little while already. Then again… he wasn’t exactly surprised.

The message concluded with Miko adding that she was going to visit Rina and Fran in a few days, and that Chekov and Hikaru should make an effort to call so Rina and Chekov could be introduced at last… Chekov couldn’t help but grin when he saw that, and he wondered what Hikaru’s response would be.

The man in question stirred at last, sleepy dark eyes doing their best to focus on Chekov properly. Chekov leaned down to press a quick kiss to his boyfriend’s lips. “Good morning,” he said softly.

“Mhm…” Hikaru hummed, rubbing his eyes and yawning. “Time?”

“Early,” Chekov replied. He couldn’t resist teasing a little. “I haff been avake for ages… Vhy did you sleep so long, hm? Keeping secrets from me?”

Hikaru rolled his eyes. “As though I could ever keep anything from you for long. Kirk kept me awake, the bastard.” At Chekov’s raised eyebrows, he added, “He wouldn’t stop messaging me, put away the puppy dog eyes.”

“Vhat could ze keptin possibly haff to message you about so late at night?” Chekov wondered.

Hikaru snorted. “Wanted to make sure I wasn’t debauching the innocent navigator before midnight. After midnight would have apparently been fine. Happy birthday, by the way,” he added, leaning in to give Chekov a kiss.

Chekov wrapped his arms loosely around Hikaru’s neck, pulling him into a deeper kiss. As they kissed, their limbs became even more tangled, and somehow Hikaru wound up lying on top of Chekov, their bodies easily molding together. Chekov closed his eyes, biting back a moan as one of Hikaru’s hips inadvertently came into contact with his groin. But Hikaru stilled almost immediately, pulling back so they could look at each other.

It took Chekov a moment to catch his breath enough to speak. “Vhy are you stopping? Ve haff time for… someting.”

Hikaru nodded. “You’re right, we have time for something… we have time to make out for a bit and then get ready for shift.”

“Tease…” Chekov muttered.

“Pretty sure that’s you,” Hikaru said with a smile, giving Chekov a light kiss on the nose. “Besides… I don’t want to rush anything with you, Pav… Not this time.”

Chekov felt heat rush to his cheeks. Hikaru gave Chekov another quick kiss (on the lips this time) before untangling them both from the bedclothes.

As they walked up to the bridge together, every crewmember they met wished Chekov a happy birthday. And every single one of them would glance at the pair, a knowing look in their eyes. It would have been enough to drive lesser men crazy, but both ignored it as best they could.

When they arrived on the bridge, a chorus of birthday greetings assailed their ears. Nyota waved merrily from her station, her eyes promising that she would be giving them a thorough grilling over lunch. Spock gave them both a nod as they entered. And Kirk was unapologetically ogling Chekov’s ass.

Chekov had to resist rolling his eyes, knowing exactly what his captain was looking for. And his fingertips brushed over Hikaru’s hand as they sat down at their consoles. Hikaru’s fists were clenched, annoyance plainly visible in his eyes. But when Chekov smiled at him, Hikaru smiled back, and some of the tension seemed to drain away from him.

When it was time to break for lunch, Chekov found himself briefly waylaid by Spock. “Ensign,” the unflappable Vulcan said, halting the young navigator in his tracks.

“Sir?” Chekov asked.

For a moment, Spock seemed to be considering his words. “I suppose congratulations are in order, seeing as you have reached the human age of majority. Would I be correct in assuming that you are relieved that you no longer have to hide your… relationship… with Lieutenant Sulu?”

A few feet away, Hikaru also stilled, a subtle line of tension appearing in his shoulders. Chekov didn’t flinch though.

“Thank you, Kommander… But you should know dat I haff only ewer enjoyed a close friendship vit Lieutenant Sulu up to dis point. Anyting dat happens after today… vell, ve shall see,” he added with a smile.

Spock just shook his head. “I should have expected that everyone would want to carry on this polite fiction… most illogical.”

Chekov lifted an eyebrow. “Dere is nothing illogical about protecting someone you are in lowe vit, Meester Spock.”

Cool brown eyes seemed to pierce him for a moment, then Spock returned to his work, a clear indication that Chekov was dismissed.

Hikaru was waiting just outside of the bridge, and when Chekov approached, Hikaru quickly leaned in to give his boyfriend a peck on the lips. “Thanks,” he whispered.

Chekov only smiled, and they walked to the cafeteria together. There, still more crew members wished Pavel a happy birthday while carefully eyeing the interactions between the pilot and navigator. As they made their way to their usual table where Nyota was already waiting for them, Chekov glanced over at the table where all the science geeks sat. Leslie was there, watching him almost hungrily, but she didn’t seem able to approach with Hikaru at his side.

Nyota was smiling wickedly. “Well, the rumor mill has certainly been active about you two this morning,” she declared.

“I don’t see why,” Hikaru muttered, a faint edge of resentment simmering behind his calm façade. “We aren’t behaving any differently than normal.”

“Yes, but before, everyone was willing to pretend they didn’t see how much you two obviously wanted each other,” Nyota declared triumphantly. “Now that there are no restrictions, everyone’s just waiting to see when the sexual tension will boil over.”

Hikaru muttered something that was definitely resentful, and possibly about how everyone was staring at Chekov’s ass.

“Put it this way,” Nyota said, leaning forward conspiratorially. “If you keep this up for too long, everyone will just assume you were screwing each other silly behind closed doors ever since we got on the ship.”

Chekov made an indignant noise. “All dat self-denial, and ve could haff just gone ahead and…” He trailed off, grinning at the look on Hikaru’s face.

“Stop that,” Hikaru muttered, lightly smacking the back of the other man’s hand. “You know as well as I do that it’s really been only the last couple of weeks that have been…” He paused, a bit of color appearing on his cheeks.

Nyota’s smirk was even more ridiculously wicked than before. “So, Hikaru… does that mean you have a special birthday present in mind for Pavel for tonight, hm? Something like…”

“Not another word…” Hikaru growled softly. “Honestly… you’re such a child.”

Nyota’s perfectly-plucked eyebrows flew up. “That’s a new one.”

“Yeah, it may not be obvious on the surface, but inside, you’re a gossipy, dirty-minded little delinquent,” Hikaru deadpanned, spearing a vegetable with one of his chopsticks with far more venom than was truly necessary.

Chekov ducked his head so Nyota wouldn’t see the smile he couldn’t hold back… and he wondered if there were any supply closets nearby to drag Hikaru into. Snark that fantastic made the man more than deserving of some serious ravishing.

Chapter Text

When Pavel Chekov felt a small projectile strike the back of his head, his first thought was that this was entirely the wrong angle for Hikaru to be hitting him. So with his boyfriend ruled out as the likely culprit, Chekov turned slowly to face the only other person on the bridge who could be responsible. “Vhat is it, Keptin?”

Kirk’s eyes lit up, pleased he’d caught Chekov’s attention so easily. “Ensign, you received all my messages regarding your birthday party tonight, correct?”

Spock glanced up from his station. “Captain, this is a personal conversation. We have discussed that those do not belong on the bridge.”

“We have?” Kirk asked, one eyebrow twitching quizzically.

Spock’s eyebrows might have drawn closer together, or it might have been a trick of the light. “At length, Captain.”

“Huh,” Kirk mused, but the way the corner of his mouth twitched suggested that the innocent act was entirely farcical in nature. Spock plainly wasn’t fooled either, but his logical brain quickly deduced the futility of continuing this argument and his gaze returned to his own station.

Chekov exchanged a quick glance with Hikaru, but they had to look away from each other almost immediately to avoid bursting into giggles.

“Chekov,” Kirk called the ensign’s attention back to him.

“Da, Keptin?”

“So this works then?”

Chekov couldn’t help but smile. “Da, Keptin, I haff not made any ozzer plans for dis ewening.”

“Fantastic,” Kirk said brightly, tapping something into his PADD. Moments later, a ship-wide message was sent out, informing the crew that a birthday celebration for Ensign Chekov would commence at 1900 hours in the largest lounge area on the Enterprise.

Their shift ended a few minutes later, and Hikaru and Chekov started walked down to their quarters.

“Vhy vould de keptin tink I might haff different plans?” Chekov mused out loud. He glanced over at Hikaru, and was tremendously amused to see Hikaru’s flaming red cheeks.

“I have no idea,” Hikaru muttered. “Every person on this ship, starting with our captain, is a sick, twisted, dirty-minded…”

Chekov covered up his laugh with a cough. “It vill be a fun party though, da?”

“Especially if Scotty brings some alcohol,” Hikaru agreed.

Chekov rolled his eyes heavenward, picturing the chaos that would result.

After Chekov changed into a much more casual set of clothes (blue jeans and a comfortable dark green t-shirt), he crossed through the shared bathroom and entered Hikaru’s room without even knocking. And then he just had to stop to drink in the sight of Hikaru. His boyfriend was moving around the room, putting away laundry and generally tidying up, and he looked absolutely gorgeous in tight black jeans and a slim-fitting black t-shirt that hugged his body, giving special attention to his shoulders and waist.

“What’s up?” Hikaru asked, catching Chekov staring at him (yet again! Chekov realized ruefully).

“Just… just you,” Chekov sighed, perching on the edge of the bed.

Hikaru shot him a slightly puzzled look before bending to put some clothes into the lowest drawer. And if that gave Chekov an absolutely fantastic view of Hikaru’s ass… well, he wasn’t going to complain about that. Then Hikaru straightened up again. “What time is it?”

“Ve haff almost an hour until de party,” Chekov said, answering the unspoken real question.

Hikaru nodded, then turned around and moved to stand in front of Chekov. “I owe you a birthday present, don’t I?”

Chekov blinked. “I haff you, vhy vould I ask for more from you?”

Hikaru smiled, leaning forward to press a quick kiss to Chekov’s lips. After a moment, he managed to say, “One of the many reasons I… love you.”

Chekov didn’t bother trying to put words to his reply, he just wrapped his arms around Hikaru’s neck, pulling him closer. Hikaru obligingly leaned in closer, bracing himself against the bed with one knee. One hand caught Chekov’s head, cradling it gently as they continued to kiss. The other hand rested on the bed, his thumb just brushing Chekov’s hip. Chekov wrapped one of his legs around Hikaru’s, pulling him even closer, and somehow they wound up lying back on the bed, with Hikaru straddling Chekov. When they pulled apart, Chekov couldn’t help but observe how black Hikaru’s eyes looked and how they sparkled…

“We really shouldn’t start anything…” Hikaru whispered, slightly breathless. “Your party… you can’t be late.”

Chekov snorted softly. “You know nobody vill care.”

Hikaru sighed. “I do sort of wish everyone would get their noses out of our lives. Whether we’re having sex or not, it’s really not any of their business… especially not now.”

“Dey vill get ower it soon enough,” Chekov murmured, running his fingers through Hikaru’s soft jet-black hair. He could understand why Hikaru preferred privacy, Chekov himself wasn’t exactly thrilled knowing everyone was just dying to see confirmation that they were fucking… The thought made him shiver though. “Eef ve are not going to…” he began.

Never let it be said that Hikaru Sulu was slow on the uptake. “Right, of course, good point,” he said, shifting to a kneeling position somewhere around Chekov’s knees. As he pulled Chekov upright, one hand went to his waistline, and slightly cool fingers brushed against the strip of warm skin between Chekov’s jeans and t-shirt, making him shiver.

“Dis vill be a wery long ewening,” Chekov sighed.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

How they made it through the next half hour without tearing each other’s clothes off, Hikaru Sulu would never know for sure. He was practically shaking with repressed sexual energy by the time they started walking to the Observation Lounge. Pavel didn’t really look any better off; he kept glancing in Sulu’s direction, and those hooded hazel eyes were so laced with desire, it made Sulu want to scream. But they’d held it together for this long. They could behave like civilized human beings for a few more hours.

There had been a couple distractions to help them out. Sulu had finally managed to give Pavel his real birthday present, a textbook on warp physics by an eminent Russian scientist, in the original Russian. Pavel had been thrilled by the gift, and his enthusiastic thanks had nearly been their undoing, but they’d managed to keep their clothes on (mostly… Sulu maintained that he had no idea how Pavel’s shirt had ended up halfway across the room).

Upon arriving at the lounge, the pair were almost immediately separated as Pavel was mobbed by already-intoxicated crewmembers wishing him a happy birthday. Sulu shook his head ruefully and made his way towards the refreshment table where he was greeted by Nyota, looking classy in skintight jeans as she leaned against the wall next to the table where she could keep an eye on everything.

“So did you two have fun after shift?” Nyota asked mischievously.

Sulu rolled his eyes. “Do you have any idea how overjoyed I’ll be when you people find someone else to put under a microscope?”

Nyota just smirked at him. Sulu sighed and reached for a cup of punch, flinching slightly when he caught Spock’s cool steady gaze from across the room.

“So how long do you think it’ll be before Spock stops treating me like a criminal deviant?” he asked as casually as he could.

“He’s just irritated that you got away with breaking the rules with our poor innocent navigator,” Nyota told him.

“Innocent my ass…” Sulu muttered under his breath. Out loud, he said, “I don’t suppose it helps that we really did behave ourselves…” Mostly, but she didn’t need to know about all that.

“Probably not,” Nyota admitted, taking a sip of her own cup of punch.

“Ach, dinnae mind him, laddie!” Scotty declared, already swaying on his feet. Hikaru could smell the Scotch, though he wasn’t quite sure where the chief engineer was hiding it. Perhaps he’d spiked his own punch… “Ahm tellin’ ya, that Vulcan has an iron rod shoved up his jacksie th’s ev’nin’, an’ ye ken thank th’ capt’in for that ‘un!” The Scottish brogue was, if possible, even more intense when Scotty was intoxicated, and Sulu had to take a moment to puzzle out what the other man was talking about.

“What’s the captain done to Spock this time?” Nyota asked with a sigh.

“Look fer yerself, lassie!” Scotty exclaimed as he wandered off, waving his cup around dangerously as he shouted Gaelic phrases at seemingly random intervals.

Nyota and Sulu both turned back towards Spock, and they saw Kirk, also visibly swaying on his feet, grab Spock’s arm for balance, his hands heedlessly coming into contact with Spock’s bare skin. The Vulcan’s expression was rigidly stoic, but only just…

“Oooh,” Nyota hissed. “No wonder Spock looks like he’s about to have a cow. What the heck is Kirk thinking?”

“He isn’t,” Sulu replied, having heard plenty of stories from McCoy about how Kirk behaved when he was excessively drunk.

“Yes, that is Kirk’s problem most of the time, isn’t it?” Nyota observed wryly as the good doctor himself arrived to take Kirk off of Spock’s hands. But Sulu’s relief dropped off considerably as Spock turned and began approaching them.

“Shit…” he hissed under his breath.

Nyota just blinked at him innocently. “Just relax. You can’t get in trouble anymore, and it’ll be worse if you take off. I’ll stay here too, he’ll behave better if I’m here.”

“Thanks,” Sulu whispered before Spock reached them.

“Lieutenants,” Spock greeted them.

“Commander,” they returned in unison.

“Nyota, might I have a word with Lieutenant Sulu in private?” Spock asked.

Nyota took so long to answer that Sulu was sure she was going to say yes, so her answer surprised him. “Spock, whatever you have to say to Sulu… you should be able to say it in front of everyone.”

Sulu was sure he must have imagined that Spock’s nostrils flared, because really… Vulcans simply didn’t show that much emotion. Ever. But he didn’t argue with the stubborn woman.

“The captain has informed me that I ought to apologize to you for my behavior over the past few weeks. Although I feel that I was acting in Ensign Chekov’s best interests, the captain has advised me that my efforts were both misguided and excessively draconian, and that an apology would be the proper thing to do.”

Nyota’s eyebrows had crept up almost high enough to reach her hairline, and small wonder. It wasn’t every day that their First Officer apologized to anyone.

“That may be the most coerced apology I’ve ever heard,” Sulu couldn’t resist remarking, “but apology accepted nonetheless.”

Spock looked a little surprised, but his posture relaxed slightly and the three of them chatted over trivial matters for several minutes until their pleasant conversation was interrupted by a certain James T. Kirk.

“Heyyyyyy Spock,” Kirk slurred, wrapping his arms around the Vulcan’s upper chest, leaning his head against Spock’s shoulder. “I tricked Bones!” he added proudly.

“That cannot have been easy, given your current state of intoxication,” Spock muttered dryly.

“It’s easy when you have Scotty helping. Scotty’s awesome!” Kirk said, a smirk on his face, blue eyes clouded by alcohol but still positively mesmerizing.

“Indeed,” Spock said, remaining perfectly still, clearly trying to keep Kirk from making any contact with his bare skin yet again.

“Hey Spock? Did you apologize to Sulu like I said you should?” Kirk asked, his body swaying a little as he tried to focus on the group. He was staring directly at Sulu even though his questions were directed to Spock.

“Affirmative, captain. I did exactly as you requested, and he has accepted my apology.”

“Sulu?” The captain obviously wanted clarification, though Sulu was having doubts that their captain would remember much of anything in the morning.

“He did apologize,” Sulu agreed, deciding it was better for everyone involved if he left out the complete lack of sincerity.

“Yayyyy, see, I knew you could do it!!!” Kirk exclaimed, his arms tightening their hold on the Vulcan, squeezing him happily. A puff of breath left Spock’s lips, making a noise that would have been considered a sigh from any other being on the ship, but the exasperation on his face was still surprisingly minimal, considering Kirk was now clinging to him like a limpet.

“There you are, you damn brat!” McCoy exclaimed.

“Hi Bones!” Kirk exclaimed cheerfully, still clinging to Spock to stay upright.

“You damn kid, if you ever pawn me off on a drunken Scotty again, I’ll hypo you with every single medication I have on this ship, including the ones I know you’re allergic to!” the irate doctor practically shouted.

“No you won’t! You love me too much!” Kirk exclaimed. “You’re my best friend, you’re not allowed to be mean!” he added, sticking out his tongue petulantly.

“Like hell I’m not,” McCoy growled, but his voice lacked any real venom. “Now you’ve had more than enough fun for one evening, let’s go. Let go of the hobgoblin.”

In response, Kirk somehow tightened his grip still further. Spock glanced down at the arms circling his upper torso, made another noise that might have been a sigh, and reached up to carefully disentangle himself from the arms. It was the work of a few shorts moments to transfer Kirk’s arms to Dr. McCoy’s shoulders.

“Do you require further assistance, Doctor?” Spock asked, the tone of his voice practically daring McCoy to ask for any more help.

“I’ve handled him in worse states than this,” McCoy growled. “Y’all enjoy the rest of the party.” And with that, he was escorting the captain out of the lounge.

Sulu took a breath, then glanced around. Pavel was in the middle of a group of eager scientists, with Leslie right in the thick of it, her hands gripping Pavel’s elbow desperately. Sulu was seized by a desire to remove said hands using any means necessary, but he swallowed the impulse.

Scotty was now raucously entertaining several members of their security team with details of drunken escapades of past days, while Nyota and Spock were engaged in a conversation in Spock’s native tongue. Deciding that no one would miss him if he slipped away from the festivities, Sulu made his way towards the door. He was nearly there when he heard a voice hailing him.

Pavel was waving him over, and Sulu couldn’t resist the summons. “What’s up, Pav?” he asked as he approached the group. He watched Leslie tense up, her grip tightening on Pavel’s arm as though she were prepared to fight for him.

“You are leawing already?” Pavel asked.

“Yeah, I am,” Sulu said. He couldn’t resist… “I’m pretty tired. You know I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Leslie’s eyes widened, but she didn’t say a word.

“Ah, of course,” Pavel agreed innocently. “I had forgotten. You vill not be avake vhen I get back den?”

Leslie’s face clouded at that. Sulu wanted to burst out laughing, but he somehow managed not to. “Depends when you come back I guess,” he said serenely.

“Vell I vill try not to be too long,” Pavel decided at last. “You still haff not giwen me dat… ozzer present.”

Anyone who said that Pavel Chekov was innocent clearly didn’t know the kid that well. Sulu knew when he was being used, though he was finding it hard to complain at the moment, considering the variety of expressions crossing over Leslie’s face.

“Excellent point. Fine, I’ll try to stay awake. And if I’m not… well…” Sulu smirked. “You know how to wake me up.”

Pavel licked his lips, just long enough to make Sulu shiver. “See you soon den…” he said in that deceptively sweet and innocent tone before continuing his conversation with his group of science friends, as though they hadn’t practically just arranged an assignation right in front of all of them.

Sulu made it all the way to the privacy of the lift before he burst out laughing. Then he wondered just how serious Pavel had been when he’d insisted that Sulu stay awake…

Chapter Text

Politeness could only keep Pavel Chekov at the party for so long once Hikaru left. Thinking of his boyfriend alone in their room on the first night that they could legally do… anything… made Chekov shiver with anticipation, and he rather hoped he wasn’t being obvious about where his thoughts were at.

Still, even with his thoughts on Hikaru, he couldn’t fail to notice how subdued Leslie had become. She had been gripping his arm so tightly before Hikaru had arrived that Chekov had lost most of the feeling in his fingers, and he twitched them a bit to stimulate the return of blood flow now that his arm was free.

“Leslie?” he ventured to ask.

She flashed a pair of injured eyes in his direction. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Chekov fumbled for words, but he was saved when three of the girls nearby burst out laughing.

“Leslie, are you kidding?” one of them blurted out.

“Sweetie, are you blind?” a second asked. “Everyone on this ship knows about Pavel and Hikaru.”

“Yeah, it’s so cute how you guys act like you think we don’t know,” a third girl added, ruffling his curls like a puppy. Chekov mentally sighed, knowing there was no chance of explaining that he didn’t want her to do that.

Leslie’s lip quivered, and it was perfectly obvious that she’d almost deliberately turned a blind eye to their blatant flirtations. But Chekov couldn’t find it in his heart to be angry or annoyed with her. She looked so miserable already…

"I had assumed dat you knew…” he said slowly. “Eweryone else seems to know…” he added with a tiny frown.

Leslie’s mouth opened and closed soundlessly for a moment. Then she shook her head. “I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. Goodnight.” And with that, she dashed out of the lounge, trailed by several well-meaning friends who had doubtlessly tried to subtly discourage her crush and knew they’d wind up helping her get over an inevitable rejection.

Still, Chekov couldn’t help but feel just a little relieved that it was over. He made casual small talk for a few more minutes with his science team friends until someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned, and wasn’t exactly surprised to see Nyota.

“Where’s Hikaru?” she demanded.

“He said he vas tired and vas going back to his room,” Chekov told her, omitting the part where he’d agreed to join Hikaru later…

Nyota fixed him with a piercing glare. “Are you sure that wasn’t an invitation to accompany him?”

Chekov’s eyes widened. “Vhat? Nyet! He said…”

“I don’t care what he actually said!” Nyota exclaimed, hands gesticulating wildly. “The fact of the matter, Pavel Chekov, is that your boyfriend has been patiently waiting for this day, enduring the stress of hiding his interest in you, dodging Spock, trying to stay on Kirk’s good side… and finally it’s that day, and here you are, talking about whatever ridiculous theorems you talk about with your friends that you could talk about on any other day of the week…!!!” Steam was practically pouring out of her ears.

Chekov automatically took a step back, self-preservation kicking in. He held up his hands in a gesture of appeasement. “Nyota, please… please be calm… I vas going to head back wery soon…”

“Not soon enough, in my opinion,” she muttered. “Or Hikaru’s, I’m sure.” She took a step forward, landing squarely in his personal space, and spun him in the direction of the door. “Now march.”

Chekov hadn’t managed to take more than a step when Kirk wandered back into the lounge. The last Chekov had seen him, the very intoxicated captain was being escorted out by Dr. McCoy… But Kirk must have managed to give him the slip somehow because he was back. Chekov wasn’t sure how it happened, but Kirk crossed the room faster than should have been possible and threw his arm companionably over Chekov’s shoulders.

“Birthday boy!” he exclaimed, leaning into Chekov and making the young man stagger slightly as he tried to adjust to the extra weight. Then he glanced around, bleary blue eyes managing to be much more astute than they had any right to be. “Where’s my man Sulu?”

“He… he just left… a couple minutes ago…” Chekov stammered, still trying not to topple over.

Kirk turned the full force of that powerful gaze onto Chekov. Even drunk as a skunk, Kirk’s gaze was shockingly compelling. “So what the hell are you still doing here? Why aren’t you back there with him, fucking his brains out?”

Chekov’s jaw dropped and Nyota put a hand over her mouth, though Chekov guessed it was more to hide her smile than to express any sort of shock at Kirk’s way-too-personal question. “K…Keptin!” Chekov yelped. “Keptin, you are wery intoxicated! Vhy are you back here?”

“Please, James T. Kirk does not shirk from parties!” Kirk declared. “Scotty, do you have any more of that excellent scotch?”

“Should have known,” Nyota muttered, fixing a glare at the ship’s engineer as he tried to melt into the background.

Spock appeared next to them, and Chekov probably would have jumped if he didn’t have his hands full of dead-weight captain. “Captain Kirk,” Spock said in that especially clipped way of his that he only used when he was extremely irritated. “You have imbibed far too much of that alcoholic beverage this evening and you should be recuperating from your excesses in your own quarters. I was under the impression that Dr. McCoy had escorted you there.”

“Bones is sleeping!” Kirk whined, “and I was bored, so I came back here.”

Spock gripped the fabric of the shirt covering Kirk’s shoulders, easily transferring the arms to his waist instead of Chekov’s shoulders. “Would you like me to escort you back to your own quarters, Captain?” he asked placidly.

Kirk made a humming noise as he burrowed his face into the side of Spock’s chest. “You’re warm,” he mumbled.

The tips of Spock’s ears might have flushed green for a moment, but it was gone before Chekov could be sure. Instead, the First Officer of the ship turned and started guiding the intoxicated captain out of the lounge.

Chekov had barely breathed a sigh of relief when Kirk lifted his head and turned to face him. “Chekov, go back to your boyfriend’s room and jump his bones already!” he called across the room.

Chekov went scarlet and made several incoherent spluttering noises. Nyota was shaking with suppressed laughter. And Chekov could vaguely hear Kirk ranting incoherently about how Bones didn’t actually belong to Chekov and he hoped the Russian knew what he meant… Chekov rested his fingertips against his forehead for a minute.

“Now, see, if you had just gone back to Hikaru’s room when he left like you SHOULD HAVE,” Nyota admonished him, “then you would have been spared that little scene.”

“Da, da, I hear you,” Chekov muttered.

“Go!” Nyota insisted more forcefully, emphasizing her words by shoving him gently towards the door. “I’m going to go kick Scotty’s ass into next week for letting Kirk get so drunk.”

Chekov knew better than to try and argue, and he vacated the lounge as quickly as he could. The lift was mercifully deserted, and Chekov had a moment to compose himself… and he wondered if Hikaru would still be awake.

Chekov licked his dry lips, wondering where this sudden attack of nerves was coming from. It wasn’t as though they’d never had sex before… they’d done that before they even knew each other’s names. But still… there was something so very different now. This… this actually counted. This was a real relationship and they both wanted it to work… and for a moment, Chekov couldn’t breathe as he wondered how their lives were going to change.

A thousand and one panicked thoughts dashed through his mind. Maybe Hikaru would panic, change his mind, or even ask to be transferred to a different ship just so he never had to see Chekov again. Or, and Chekov could acknowledge his own youth and immaturity here, maybe HE would be the one to panic. His last relationship… it simply hadn’t ended well, and Hikaru DID have a lot of baggage, and Chekov was barely eighteen, was he really ready to take that on?

And he exhaled, a harsh laugh tearing its way free from his throat. Where was all this coming from? He was beginning to understand why Hikaru had dragged his feet so much before finally agreeing to at least trying to commit to him…

The lift had stopped, but Chekov made no move to exit right away, just leaning against the cool metal walls for a moment. This wasn’t about marriage, or even a lifelong commitment. This was two best friends who thought they could be something more and were willing to take that step, and to accept the consequences of that step. Above all, both of them wanted to keep their friendship intact. Which meant that no one would panic, and no one would run away.

Erica…

Chekov blinked. That vague thought about his ex-girlfriend had dragged her memory back to the surface. It wasn’t as sharply clear as it had once been… The Enterprise and his crewmates had dulled the edges of the hurt. But it was there… she’d left him for his best friend, tried to pretend that they were still friends and nothing had really changed, and died before anything could be resolved. And it had hurt… too much.

But things were different now. Chekov had people he could count on now, not just Hikaru, but all of his crewmates. He knew he had changed, grown up… become stronger. Even though he was sure that Hikaru would never do anything to hurt him that badly, Chekov was equally sure that if something happened… he could handle it now.

That settled in his mind, Chekov walked down the deserted corridor to Hikaru’s room. For a moment, he thought about showing Erica’s last message to Hikaru, then decided that it could wait. It wasn’t something that needed to be seen tonight. Tonight was supposed to be a celebration… of so many things. Chekov carefully put Erica’s memory away in a box, then locked that box into a corner of his mind. He wouldn’t think about her again, not tonight, not for a while. She was gone, nothing could change that. He had Hikaru now.

With that thought, he realized he was standing in front of the door to Hikaru’s room… the room that was practically his as well, considering he slept there most nights. He stepped in, and the door closed behind him with a soft swish. The lights were dimmed, and Chekov could just barely make out Hikaru’s form stretched across the bed.

Hikaru hadn’t even bothered getting undressed, other than pulling off his boots and socks. Perhaps he’d only intended to lie down for a few moments, but he was certainly sleeping now, his chest slowly rising and falling in the steady rhythm that never failed to lull Chekov back to sleep if he woke up in the middle of the night. That tight black t-shirt had ridden up a bit, exposing a taunt line of golden skin across his abdomen, and revealing just how low his jeans hung… exposing just a hint of the V of his hipbones…

Chekov felt his mouth go dry and he swallowed.

Black hair lay feathered across the pillow, stirring slightly and changing patterns with every soft breath Hikaru took. Those long dark lashes hid his even lovelier dark eyes from view, and his face was relaxed in sleep in a way that Chekov saw only very rarely when the older man was awake… There were no nightmares tonight, it seemed… at least not right now. Hikaru hadn’t had a nightmare in at least a week though… it was progress, and Chekov liked knowing that he was at least partly responsible for that progress.

Hikaru sighed in his sleep, his head twisting slightly, and he slid to bury his face into the pillow next to him… the one that Chekov always used. A second sigh, this one so content and at peace, slipped out, and Chekov felt his heart melt. Normally he would have simply quietly slipped into bed next to Hikaru, cuddled up to his boyfriend and enjoyed the feeling of being wrapped in that affectionate embrace…

But not tonight.

No, Chekov had been waiting far too long for tonight. So had Hikaru, even if the older man was a lot better at hiding it. So he kicked off his shoes, slid slowly onto the bed, wrapped one arm loosely around Hikaru’s shoulders, and began the careful task to kissing his boyfriend awake.

Chapter Text

Hikaru Sulu hadn’t even realized he’d fallen asleep until he realized there were lips pressing against his own and he hadn’t even known there was another person in the room. He gasped, eyes flying open, hands already moving to push the person away or defend himself or something, but there were already hands on his wrists, holding him tightly enough to keep him in place, but still surprisingly gently. And as Sulu inhaled, he caught that sweet scent that was so perfectly uniquely Pavel, and he caught his breath, his heart rate slowly returning to normal.

“Jeezus, Pavel… you scared the hell outta me…” he whispered huskily, finally pressing his lips to Pavel’s in return.

“Sorry…” Pavel murmured, kissing him again. He was kneeling next to Sulu, still loosely holding his wrists. Sulu was partly sitting up now, his weight resting heavily on his right elbow. “I… I vas not sure how to vake you up… and I haff newer tried dis vay.” His hands released Sulu’s now that he was properly awake, and Sulu finally sat up completely, one hand coming to rest on the back of Pavel’s head, fingers tangling themselves in those soft curls.

“It’s okay,” Sulu laughed softly. “I guess… I’m just not used to… this. Yet,” he added hastily.

“Dat is fine,” Pavel said, one hand taking advantage of its new freedom to come to rest on Sulu’s thigh. Sulu caught his breath.

“So… um… Your party over?” he asked lamely.

“I tink dere vere still people dere vhen I left, but…” Pavel shrugged. “Nyota and Kirk yelled at me.”

“What? Why?” Sulu asked, genuinely puzzled.

Pavel chuckled. “Dey vere tinking dat… ve vould vant to be… hm… spending time togezzer.”

Sulu felt his cheeks burning. And that thumb of Pavel’s that was caressing the seam of his jeans on the inside of his thigh was NOT helping.

“I vanted to come back,” Pavel said suddenly, eyes locked onto Sulu’s face, searching for… something. “Because… eweryone vas right…”

Sulu’s hand slowed in Pavel’s curls. Of course… it was such an inevitability, yet one he’d locked away in a dark corner of his mind, refusing to think about it…

Pavel’s hand inched tantalizingly along his thigh. “’Karu… Ve haff vaited a long time, but… I can vait longer, if dat is vhat you vant.” And sure enough, that hand stilled, waited… Pavel was waiting for permission to continue, always waiting for Sulu to man up enough to act on what he wanted, what he was so sure that he didn’t deserve…

And Sulu pulled Pavel in for a kiss. Because if there was one thing Pavel had managed to teach him, it was that Pavel certainly thought that Sulu was someone worth knowing, worth befriending, and worth dating. Whether things would ultimately work out for them or not, they’d certainly never work if they didn’t even try.

“Dat means…?” Pavel attempted to clarify.

“It means we’ve waited too damn long already,” Sulu whispered, inhaling the air that Pavel was exhaling like a life-saving elixir. And he placed one hand firmly on Pavel’s back, pulling the younger man closer. For a moment, Pavel’s hand tightened on Sulu’s thigh, then the warm weight was gone, coming to rest on the outside of Sulu’s other leg. And then one of Pavel’s legs was in between Sulu’s, not quite pressing into him, but definitely there…

Sulu hooked one of his legs around Pavel’s, drawing him even closer. Pavel leaned forward accommodatingly, their bodies easily melding together. When their groins briefly came into contact, Pavel let out a breathy moan, and Sulu lost no time slipping his hand up Pavel’s shirt to caress the velvety skin of his back. Pavel made a low whining noise, his grip tightening against Sulu’s leg, and Sulu obligingly pulled the shirt over Pavel’s head, tossing the offending garment aside. Their lips met again, teeth clicking together softly as their kisses became more urgent and needy.

Chekov’s hands slid with excruciatingly slowness up the muscled planes of Sulu’s sides, dragging the cloth of his shirt up along with them. Sulu tilted his head back, arms lifting to allow Pavel to remove his shirt. That was also cast aside, and Sulu found he suddenly had Pavel’s arms around him, their bodies pressing together almost desperately as Pavel nipped lightly at that sensitive spot of Sulu’s neck that drove him crazy every single time. Sulu kept his head tilted back, letting out a few unashamed moans as Pavel’s teeth worried the skin just above his collarbone.

“Fuck, Pav…” he groaned.

“Mhm,” Pavel hummed distractedly. One arm was still flung around Sulu, holding him close, but the other… that one was teasing its way down Sulu’s side again, making straight for the waistline of his jeans. The tips of his fingers danced across the cloth before moving to play with one of Sulu’s belt loops while his thumb… that digit began tracing the curve of Sulu’s hipbone and made him gasp. Pavel’s fingers were just a shade cooler than Sulu’s own skin, and it tickled deliciously and made him want more, everywhere.

Sulu wrapped his arms loosely around Pavel, one hand splayed between the younger man’s shoulder blades, the other resting on the small of his back. They fell backwards until Sulu was leaning against the headboard while Pavel was sprawled on top of him, one hand fumbling at the button of Sulu’s jeans while his tongue thoroughly explored Sulu’s neck, collarbones, and chest.

Sulu tipped his head back a bit farther, lifting his hips experimentally. The contact was electric, and Pavel’s hand was trapped in the middle, and one of them gasped… Sulu’s lower hand wandered downwards, finding that Pavel’s jeans were loose enough for him to slip his hand inside of them, and trace the elastic band of his briefs. Pavel shivered, then made a low noise of satisfaction as the button of Sulu’s jeans finally gave way. Then there was the sharp sound of a zipper being undone, and Sulu whimpered as the tight confines of his jeans eased a bit.

As Pavel moved to pull Sulu’s jeans off, Sulu realized the younger man’s hands were shaking… just a little… but it was enough. Something clicked in his brain, a ferocious protective instinct that made him want to hold this precocious, brilliant, eminently precious creature close to him, to never ever let him go…

Sulu removed his hand from between Pavel’s shoulder blades, bracing himself on the mattress. “Pav, do you trust me?”

“Da, alvays,” Pavel whispered breathlessly.

Sulu’s body may have been lean and unassuming when clothed, but he was comprised almost entirely of well-toned muscle, so it really wasn’t difficult for him to reverse their positions, flipping Pavel onto his back on the bed and straddling the younger man himself. Pavel gasped briefly, hazel eyes wide with surprise, but then he grinned.

“Don’t get shy on me now, Pav,” Sulu whispered. “I… I like you best when you know what you want… and how to get it.” And he cut off any response Pavel might make by kissing him soundly.

The tremor in Pavel’s hands was gone as he ran them down Sulu’s thighs, managing to shove the tight black jeans down to his knees from his prone position on the bed. Sulu kicked them off the rest of the way, letting them fall off the end of the bed. He was now nude except for a pair of black boxer briefs that clung to his faintly bronzed skin in all the right ways. Pavel couldn’t seem to stop staring…

“You are gorgeous…” Pavel murmured, and his cheeks darkened a little as he said it.

“No, that would be you,” Sulu murmured back, deftly unbuttoning Pavel’s jeans. The younger man didn’t even hesitate to lift his hips, and Sulu hooked his thumbs into the elastic band of Pavel’s briefs, pulling down briefs and jeans in one fluid motion, leaving Pavel beautifully displayed beneath him. He caught his breath, his brain struggling to catch up with the fact that this was the same boy who’d shared his bed over a year ago… He’d grown up, but… it was still so familiar… and the desire on Pavel’s face was exactly the same, and Sulu could only press his lips to Pavel’s again.

When their lips finally parted, they both hesitated, so close their lips were still nearly touching. Pavel licked his lips before asking, “How do you vant to…?”

“Like this… please…” Sulu answered, feeling suddenly shy about the request. “I… want to see your face…”

Pavel caught his lips again and their tongues danced around each other for several moments before Sulu was able to pull back enough to grope into the drawer next to his bed for the bottle of lube he knew was there. He squirted a generous amount onto his fingers, rubbing them together to warm the slick mess, but Pavel still twitched at the first feather-light touch. Hoping to relax him, Sulu began nibbling lightly on Pavel’s neck as he inserted his finger, and Pavel groaned softly and gripped the back of Sulu’s neck. Sulu felt himself shudder.

“Christ, Pav, you’re tight…” he hissed, praying he wouldn’t cum just from that feeling…

“Da, it… it has been a vhile,” Pavel gasped, eyes fixed on the ceiling as he adjusted to the minor invasion.

“We’ll just have to fix that then,” Sulu murmured, nipping Pavel’s neck again and inserting a second finger. Pavel made a feeble whimpering noise, but it turned into a more pleased sound as Sulu’s fingers began a measured scissoring motion.

Sulu hesitated a moment before adding a third finger, the action forcing him to change the angle, and then…

Pavel moaned, a positively obscene noise, and his head tipped even further back. Sulu was mesmerized by the delicate musculature of his neck, standing out in stark relief, so beautifully exposed. “’Karu… please… do not…” Pavel whimpered.

Sulu realized he’d stopped breathing at some point, and he exhaled slowly. “Sorry,” he smirked, not sounding the least bit sorry. Then it was his turn to gasp, as the hand that wasn’t gripping his neck had snuck its way up to palm his cock through the boxer briefs he still hadn’t removed. Pavel managed to smirk even as he went to pieces as Sulu’s fingers moved inside him.

“You are not… ze only one… dat can play games…” Pavel gasped breathlessly. “Now vould you hurry up and fuck me, please?” And to leave Sulu in no doubt what his answer ought to be, Pavel squeezed his cock again.

“Yes, alright, yes,” Sulu gasped. “You impatient little…” He didn’t have a chance to move, Pavel was already yanking down his boxer briefs. Sulu moved to grab the lube again, then hesitated. “Pav… I just remembered… I don’t have…”

Pavel’s eyes rolled up to the ceiling, praying for patience if Sulu had to guess. “I am clean, ‘Karu, and so are you, da?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

Pavel swore in Russian. “’Karu…Vill you please?”

Realizing that neither of them wanted to wait any longer, Sulu finally grabbed the lube. Pavel uttered a frustrated groan as Sulu’s fingers slid out of him, but Sulu was already lining their bodies up.

He tried to move slowly, he really did. But he’d barely penetrated Pavel before the impatient younger man got one of his legs behind Sulu’s and pulled him closer, forcing his cock in deeper, and they both gasped.

“F…fuck…” Pavel whined, a delicious mix of pleasure and pain coloring his voice.

“Did you really have to…?”

“I am fine, just…” Pavel shifted his hips slightly, wrapping his other leg around Sulu’s lower back, and completely changing the angle.

“Fuck…” Sulu gasped, his head dropping onto Pavel’s shoulder. “That feels amazing…”

“It vill feel ewen better if you…”

“Move, right,” Sulu agreed, already gently thrusting forward. Pavel’s encouraging moan was all he needed to pick up the pace.

Pavel was hot, tight, fucking wonderful… It wasn’t quite as uninhibited as their one drunken night of passion, but Sulu was definitely glad he was sober enough to appreciate every nuance of Pavel’s expression, feel every touch like a brand against his skin… Pavel’s nails traced thin red lines down his arm, and he didn’t mind one bit.

Everything seemed so vivid, every nerve in his body in overdrive. Pavel’s heels dug into the back of his legs and lower back as the younger man moved to meet his thrusts. It was harmonious and perfect and just the sort of thing that seemed like it ought to go on forever…

And then Sulu shifted again, changed the angle, and Pavel’s eyes rolled back in his head. A torrent of Russian flew from his mouth, interspersed with Sulu’s name, and likely including several curses, and probably more than a few invocations to a deity.

“Shit…” Sulu gasped, feeling Pavel tighten around him. It was intense… almost intoxicating… Pavel’s fingers were gripping his hair, heedless of how hard they were pulling. That steady stream of Russian was music in his ears. Sulu thought for a moment he saw spots of color dancing before his eyes. He knew his thrusts were becoming more erratic, but he couldn’t seem to control it… he was so close…

Sulu reached for Pavel’s cock, but his fingers had barely wrapped around it when Pavel came with several more noisy exclamations. It was all too much for Sulu, and he followed almost immediately, biting down on Chekov’s shoulder to muffle his own cries.

For several moments, they could only breathe. Sulu’s arms were shaking, but he was holding himself upright still, refusing to just collapse onto Pavel. Pavel’s legs were loosely wrapped around Sulu’s, and the blissed-out expression on his face made Sulu’s heart flutter, wanting to see that expression for the rest of his life… It was an unexpectedly intense feeling, but not unwelcome.

Pavel’s hand finally let go of Sulu’s hair, dropping to the bed with a soft thump. For some reason, that made Sulu want to laugh, but he held it in check.

“Worth the wait?” he asked once he had the breath to speak.

“Da, vorth it…” Pavel sighed. He appeared practically boneless, and Sulu couldn’t stop the fond smile from crossing his face.

The moment he trusted his arms and legs to support him properly, he withdrew from Pavel and started to move to the bathroom to find something to clean them up with, but his movements were unexpectedly halted when Pavel wrapped an arm around his waist.

“Pav…” Sulu began.

“Stay,” Pavel pleaded.

“I’m not…” Sulu began, but he couldn’t get the words out.

“Just… stay,” Pavel said, pulling Sulu back into his arms.

“I wasn’t leaving…” Sulu tried again.

“I know, but… stay anyvays.”

And so Sulu settled into his customary position next to Pavel. The younger man rested his head against Sulu’s chest, eyes already closed, nearly asleep. Sulu brushed those sweat-slicked curls away from Pavel’s flushed face and pressed a kiss to his forehead.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he murmured, tucking his chin comfortably into those soft curls. “I promise.”

“Good,” Pavel yawned. “I lowe you…”

Sulu hesitated. He’d always had difficulty with those words, especially during very intimate moments like this one. By the time he was able to say “I love you too,” Pavel had fallen asleep.

Chapter Text

It was vaguely reminiscent of waking up after that first time… minus the splitting headache and upset stomach, and with the pleasant addition of being curled up together rather than occupying opposite sides of the bed. Yes, Pavel Chekov decided, he definitely wanted to wake up like this every morning… perhaps with the absence of this annoying stickiness…

Hikaru was still sleeping, looking so relaxed and comfortable… Chekov didn’t have the heart to wake him. He pressed a quick kiss to his boyfriend’s forehead before slipping carefully out of bed and padding into their bathroom. He turned on the hot water rather than the sonics, opting for the luxury of soaking in superheated water and breathing in the steamy air.

Chekov stretched, wincing a little as he did so. Sitting at his console all day would not be the most fun experience ever… but a small price to pay, Chekov decided with a smile as he began shampooing his hair. He closed his eyes and tilted his head backwards, letting the hot water wash the suds out of his hair, scalding droplets splashing off his face. He arched his back, tilting his head further, and carding both his hands through his hair.

And then two hands covered his own. Chekov’s eyes fluttered open just as lips brushed against his, and he melted into Hikaru’s body without even a moment’s hesitation. “Good morning,” he murmured against Hikaru’s inviting lips.

“You could have woken me up,” Hikaru said softly, brushing a sopping wet curl off of Pavel’s forehead.

“I vanted to let you sleep,” Chekov protested. “Besides,” he added, wrapping his arms around Hikaru’s waist, “at some point, you haff to get used to de idea dat I vill newer leawe you.”

“You can’t make that promise,” Hikaru argued.

Chekov acknowledged the truth of that statement. “Den I vill newer sneak out on you. I vill not leawe you vitout saying goodbye.”

“I can live with that,” Hikaru agreed, a tiny smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Then he pressed his lips to the bruise he’d made when he’d bit down on Chekov’s shoulder as he’d finished… Chekov felt his knees go weak at the memory. The slight tremor didn’t go unnoticed by Hikaru either. “Aren’t you sore?” he asked, lifting an amused eyebrow.

Chekov fixed him with a glare. “I vill be fine, so hush.”

Hikaru made a humming noise, stroking Chekov’s cock between two fingers. Chekov shuddered under the touch. “You could still change your answer, you know…” Hikaru said softly.

Chekov exhaled, tipping his head back to catch more water droplets on his face. “Nyet… too late…” he whimpered.

Hikaru deftly opened a bottle of body wash and began a very thorough exploration of Chekov’s body, hands ghosting over the smooth slim chest and taunt abdomen, gliding tantalizingly past his cock and down to lean muscular legs. Chekov leaned against the side of the shower, his wet fingers scrabbling uselessly against smooth walls.

“God, you have no idea how many times I’ve wanted to do this…” Hikaru breathed into Chekov’s ear, their bodies molded together so perfectly as the water thundered around them.

Chekov couldn’t even speak, but it didn’t matter. Hikaru spun him gently around, nimble fingers dancing across the planes of Chekov’s back, massaging away any tension the younger man might have been holding. But Chekov couldn’t even imagine being tense at that moment, or ever again. Yes, it had taken months of misunderstandings, avoidance, dancing around their mutual lust and attraction… but it was worth every single second of the wait.

Hikaru sat the body wash aside, and a wicked smile crossed his face when he saw the bottle of conditioner that Chekov used to give his curls that extra healthy shiny glow.

Chekov blinked as Hikaru picked up the bottle. “Vhy…?” he began.

Hikaru just grinned. “Trust me. This stuff is best. Well, real lube, something with silicon in it, would have been better, but…” He shrugged, rivulets of water gliding down his body. Chekov couldn’t stop himself from tracking them before lifting his gaze to meet Hikaru’s. “Trust me,” Hikaru repeated.

“Alvays,” Chekov sighed, bracing his forearms against the wall as Hikaru’s hands lightly gripped his hips.

Shower sex could be an awkward adventure even on the best of occasions, but Chekov was still so loose from the night before that Hikaru was soon sheathed deep inside of him. Chekov moaned, arching his back slightly. There was a dull ache, but he ignored it, pleasure overwhelming the small amount of pain he felt.

Hikaru couldn’t seem to decide where his hands should go. They started on Chekov’s hips before moving up his chest and resting briefly on his shoulders before one arm wrapped around Chekov’s chest and the other hand neatly circled his cock. Chekov felt his knees buckle, but Hikaru was holding him tightly. One of Chekov’s hands slid to grab Hikaru’s arm, clinging to it like a lifeline. The other still grasped fruitlessly at the tile, seeking purchase and finding none.

“You know…” Chekov panted even as Hikaru thrust into him, “ve could do dis ewery day… and no one could say a vord against us.”

Hikaru groaned softly, his head dipping forward to brush Chekov’s shoulder. “Don’t… I can’t… I can’t think about that now…” And he pressed several kisses into the back of Chekov’s neck.

Chekov understood what Hikaru meant. It was a lot to take in, that they could touch each other whenever they wanted now, could exchange lingering glances and share quick kisses in the corridors, and it wasn’t illegal anymore. No one could say a word against them as long as they weren’t too overt, and Hikaru was not in danger of disciplinary action. The new freedom was intoxicating… and arousing.

Hikaru made a noise that might have been a chuckle. But before Chekov could inquire what has proved so amusing to his boyfriend, Hikaru shifted a little, striking a certain spot… and Chekov’s knees buckled so much that both of them nearly fell to the shower floor.

“Easy there,” Hikaru murmured, pressing closer to Chekov, bracing them both more firmly against the shower wall. This had the interesting effect of trapping the hand he was holding Chekov’s cock with, limiting his movements to some careful stroking, but the low noise Chekov made indicated that he approved. Those fingers that danced so gracefully across the console of their ship was doing things that Chekov could barely even process…

It was over too soon, Chekov would decide once his brain started working again. The change in position had given Hikaru a perfectly wonderful angle, and between that and those eminently talented fingers, Chekov had found himself finishing much too soon for his own liking. He could have spent the entire day luxuriating beneath that hot water, letting Hikaru have his hands all over him…

Hikaru came too, his arm tightening around Chekov almost desperately. For several minutes, they both stood there, leaning against the wall, panting from the exertion… almost afraid to move for fear their limbs would not support them.

“Vhere did you learn dese tricks?” Chekov panted, turning just enough to be able to look at Hikaru.

“A gentleman never tells,” Hikaru replied, kissing Chekov’s neck again.

Chekov found he was oddly okay with that.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

As Hikaru Sulu wrapped a towel around his waist, he found himself thinking about how lucky he was to have found this amazing young man… Pavel was an astonishingly generous lover, and it was something Sulu was still struggling to get used to. In his most poignant self-reflective moments, Sulu knew that he occasionally had the tendency to be a “get off and get out” sort of lover, though he’d been making an effort because… because he actually wanted that bright-eyed teenager to be happy, no matter the cost. And in his own head, he’d had the half-formed idea that Pavel would accept what Sulu gave him and brush him aside, just the way Sulu himself had done with past lovers. It would have been suitable karmic justice, Sulu thought ruefully. But whatever Sulu gave to him… Pavel was eager to return in kind. And so Sulu had been treated to a very sensuous massage once both of them had recovered from their post-coital bliss. Languid kisses had been exchanged, and Sulu wanted nothing more than to drag his boyfriend back to bed and remain there for the rest of the day, or maybe the rest of their lives.

But… their shift would be starting soon, and neither of them were dressed or even remotely ready. Sulu was having a difficult time caring as Pavel nibbled at his ear in the most enticing way.

“Ve haff somevhere to be, da?” Pavel murmured.

“I can’t remember,” Sulu sighed, one hand lightly grabbing Pavel’s shoulder to pull him closer.

“Hmm,” Pavel hummed, resting his cheek against Sulu’s shoulder. “You know dat ve can do dis after shift…”

“Mhm,” Sulu agreed, even though he still had a hard time believing it. It felt like a dream. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to him… Any minute now, surely something would happen, something to rip away this wonderful perfect fantasy world they were living in…

He ran his fingers through Pavel’s damp and messy curls and considered pushing the boy back to the bed, but then their PADD’s beeped simultaneously. They looked at each other, identical expressions of alarm appearing on their faces.

“Shit!” Pavel yipped. “Vat time is it?!”

Sulu moved faster, grabbing his PADD. “We have fifteen minutes.”

Pavel uttered several choice exclamations and dove for the pile of clothes lying crumpled on the floor. Sulu managed to grab his arm and spin him around.

“I moved a few of your things into my room last night before you got back,” he said with a grin.

Pavel’s smile lit up the entire room and they hurried to get dressed, grabbing the two nearest golden tunics and shoving them over their heads before sprinting to the lift. Sulu checked his PADD and realized that they would arrive with only a minute or two to spare. He shrugged his shoulders, wondering why the golden fabric seemed just a little tighter than normal. He glanced over at Pavel and the boy was fiddling with the sleeves, which seemed longer on him than normal…

And then Sulu saw the single lieutenant stripe on Pavel’s wrist.

He glanced down at his own wrist… the golden sleeve was blank He looked back up, and Pavel was staring at him, having just come to the exact same conclusion. As one, they glanced at the level counter, debating whether to stop the lift and switch tunics, but then Pavel shook his head.

“No time,” he said softly. “Ve vill be late.”

“Roll your sleeves,” Sulu advised, already tucking his sleeves so that the place where the stripe should be was not visible. Pavel nodded, rolling his sleeves casually. “Now a word,” Sulu added, hearing the gears turning in Pavel’s head.

“I vas not…!” Pavel protested. But he couldn’t stop himself from smiling.

“Not. A. Word,” Sulu repeated.

“You vere trying to be helpful…” Pavel said, unable to hold back the grin.

Sulu just shook his head as the doors to the lift slid open and they stepped out onto the bridge.

Kirk was already perched in the captain’s chair, his eyes fastened on the door to the lift. “Way to be EXACTLY on time, gentlemen,” he congratulated them. “I was starting to wonder if I’d have to issue some disciplinary action. I know yesterday was a special occasion, but some modicum of professionalism is still expected.” His azure eyes sparkled as he spoke, a grin not quite concealed behind the hand propped against his chin.

Sulu rolled his eyes and sat down at his console. Pavel offered up an innocent smile.

“Da, keptin,” he said cheerfully, “ve do our best to be professional.”

Kirk looked ready to say something, but a look from Spock clearly had him biting his tongue. Nyota shot them a look and winked, and Sulu knew they’d be in for it later.

When lunchtime arrived, Kirk waved Pavel over and Nyota grabbed Sulu’s arm and practically yanked him onto the lift.

“So how was your evening?” she demanded, dark eyes glittering with delight.

Sulu tried for a casual shrug. “It was… nice…”

Nyota snorted. “That’s it? Just… nice? How would Pavel feel, hearing you say things like that?”

Sulu rolled his eyes heavenward. “I’m not giving you details, Nyota, you’ll have to delve into the depths of your twisted imagination for those.”

“No need,” she said with a smirk, plucking at the sleeve of his tunic. “Did you get a demotion that I don’t know about?” she teased.

Sulu knew his cheeks were flaming. “Is it that obvious?” he hissed through clenched teeth.

“Kirk noticed,” Nyota replied.

“How do you…?”

Nyota tapped her perfectly-manicured nails against the edge of her PADD.

“Christ… you two were messaging about that on the bridge?!” he yelped.

The smirk on her face told him everything he needed to know.

“So Pavel is…”

“Being teased to death, yes,” Nyota said. “Don’t worry, Spock is there to keep Kirk from getting too out of line.”

“Not comforting,” Sulu muttered.

Pavel caught up with them before they entered the cafeteria, and they were able to switch tunics while Nyota nearly fell to the floor laughing at them.

“So how bad was it?” she demanded once the three of them sat down. Pavel had glanced briefly at the table where his science lab friends sat, but had decided to stick with his fellow bridge crew.

The teen nibbled at a fingernail. “Keptin Kirk asked many questions,” he said at last. “Most of vhich I did not answer.”

Sulu snorted.

“He said dat ve should set our alarm for earlier in de morning if ve are going to make a habit of morning sex,” Pavel continued. “And den Kommander Spock told him to stop.”

Nyota chewed on her lower lip, clearly trying to suppress her giggles.

Sulu groaned. “We are never going to get them off our backs, are we?”

“Oh now,” Nyota chuckled. “After all the sneaking around you two were doing… come on, be a man, take your licks.”

Sulu made an irritated huffing noise and wrapped his arm around Pavel’s waist. “You better be worth it,” he sighed, resting his forehead against the younger man’s shoulder.

Pavel just smirked. “You already know I am vorth it.”

Nyota’s sharp bark of laughter had many crew members staring. Sulu sighed. “I need better friends…” he sighed, pressing a quick kiss to Pavel’s neck to show he was teasing. And the hand that gripped his thigh told him that the message was received loud and clear.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov had always secretly enjoyed the ocean. It wasn’t something he’d been given the chance to indulge in much during his childhood in Russia, nor had it ever been a priority while he was attending school. His pale skin burned rather than tanned, and his slight frame was not flattered by swim trunks, especially not at the gawky and awkward age of fourteen, the age he’d been the last time he’d been to a beach.

Teenager-hood was mostly behind him now though. Free from school and growing into himself at last, Chekov was starting to think about beaches and oceans again. Supplementing the vague memories of a handful of visits from his childhood with the images from popular culture he’d seen hundreds of times, Chekov found himself daydreaming of a vacation. He could almost feel warm sun on his face, rough sand beneath his feet… Could hear the waves of the ocean… Taste some delightful fruity drink… And Hikaru, of course Hikaru would be there too.

Chekov unconsciously licked his lips. His boyfriend always looked fantastic, lean and bronze, with beautifully defined muscles. Chekov had seen the other man naked often enough to know that Hikaru would look amazing in any sort of swimwear. And Chekov wanted that desperately, wanted to lay on a towel on a beach next to that gorgeous man, rubbing suntan lotion on each other’s backs, drinking and laughing and watching the sunset…

Scotty swore, and Chekov’s eyes opened. He stared out the massive window in front of him at the murky depths of the ocean the ship was currently submerged in. That’s what had set off this latest fantasy. Oceans were lovely and mysterious things, and Chekov was secretly delighted that they were hiding out in the middle of one. Scotty was the exact opposite of delighted though, and he let everyone know with various curses and rants at regular intervals.

Chekov blinked, watching as a massive fish swam past. He glanced at the seat next to him, usually occupied by Hikaru, but occupied by his relief for the moment. Chekov drummed his fingers against the console, wishing he could comm his boyfriend and make sure everything was well. He’d accompanied Hikaru to the shuttle bay late the night before, as Hikaru had wanted to check on the controls. They hadn’t had the time to make any more mechanical modifications, but Hikaru couldn’t help but check the readings for the thousandth time. Both of them were worried about the shuttle’s ability to withstand the heat of the volcano they were trying to stop from erupting.

“Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is to hide a starship on the bottom of the ocean?” Scotty’s ranting interrupted Chekov’s train of thought. “We’ve been down here since last night! The salt water’s going to ruin the…”

“Scotty! Where’s Spock?” Kirk exclaimed, racing into onto the bridge, closely followed by a very agitated Dr. McCoy. Chekov could hear the low Southern-accented swearing, and he was nearly certain that the good doctor had just called Kirk a “foolish man-child who never stopped to think his plans through”.

One of Uhura’s subordinates was trying to keep the comms up and running, and a burst of static cut out just in time to hear Hikaru shouting that the shuttle “wasn’t built to withstand this kind of heat!”

Chekov gripped the side of his console so tightly that his knuckles went white but he managed to keep his face mostly impassive. At least, he was pretty sure he did, but Hikaru’s relief pilot was giving him a concerned look. Whether that was because something of his panic was showing despite his best efforts, or because it was common knowledge that Chekov and Hikaru were together, it simply wasn’t clear. Chekov glared determinedly down at his screens, twisting different dials to try to bring the images into sharper focus. The flickering outline of the shuttle was still there, along with the life signatures of Hikaru and Nyota on board. The life signature for Commander Spock was even more erratic, frequently vanishing in the swirling ash and lava of the volcano.

“We can’t stay here!” Hikaru was shouting, and Chekov knew he was talking to Nyota. She would be reluctant to leave Spock behind; they’d maintained their close friendship in spite of the utter meltdown of their romantic relationship. And Chekov felt his stomach clench, because he knew he was not imagining the sharp notes of guilt in Hikaru’s voice.
Chekov felt his hand begin to shake and he clamped it down on the console again. He’d let Spock down once before when he’d let the half-Vulcan’s mother die when their planet had been destroyed.

He knew how much this must be tearing Hikaru apart right now. After all, this was the same man who had flung himself from a massive drill to save a man he’d only just met, the man who would later become their captain. If he was so self-sacrificing for a virtual stranger, how tormented must he be over leaving behind someone he’d lived in such close quarters with for so long (even someone who had made his life so painfully difficult until very recently)? Things may have still been slightly awkward between Spock and Hikaru, but Hikaru certainly didn’t wish the First Officer any misfortune.

“Here they come!” someone shouted, and Chekov felt his heart leap into his throat.

“Pavel, I need you in the transport room, please, it’s our only chance to save Spock!” Kirk yelled, and Chekov took a deep breath. The captain was right, his duty came first.

“Da, keptin!” he said with a salute, and he ran to the transport room to help Scotty bring Spock back to them.

He’d spent so long aboard the Enterprise that he could anticipate her every move. He and Scotty ran through narrow corridors, dodging crewmembers and skillfully leaning into every lurch and roll of the ship (though of course Chekov was privately of the opinion that the ship would be moving much more smoothly with Hikaru at the helm). Between himself and Scotty, they found Spock down in the bowels of the volcano after the ship emerged from the ocean, rescuing the half-Vulcan before the lava could swallow him up.

Spock materialized onboard and immediately began moving towards the bridge at a rapid pace, the rigid set of his shoulders betraying that he was furious even as his face remained composed. Chekov darted after his superior officer, plunking down in his seat as the other crewmembers broke out into raucous cheers upon seeing Spock’s safe return with their own eyes.

Hikaru was already back in his normal seat, and Chekov slid his chair closer, his hand squeezing Hikaru’s knee in a gesture of both relief and welcome. Hikaru flashed him a quick smile, but they were unable to talk as they began piloting the ship back towards Earth while their captain and First Officer argued in the background.

The pair didn’t get a chance to properly speak to each other until much later, back in their quarters. Though Chekov wasn’t exactly shy about quick little gestures of affection and neither man made a secret of their relationships, all heart-to-heart discussions took place behind the closed doors of their quarters, well away from prying eyes.

“How’d you like living under the sea?” Hikaru teased as they walked back to his room together. “Still want to vacation on some tropical resort planet?”

“If anyting, it made me vant it more,” Chekov admitted. “But I do not beliewe dat Meester Scott vould like to visit such a planet. He vas wery vorried about Enterprise under ze vater.”

Hikaru couldn’t help but grin, Chekov’s accent never failed to bring a smile to his face. As they entered Hikaru’s room, Chekov turned to face the other man.

“Are you okay? Really?” he asked, silently pleading that Hikaru not lie to make him feel better.

Hikaru took a deep breath, a variety of expressions dancing across his face. “I hated leaving him like that,” he said at last. “I knew that he was prepared to die out there, but that doesn’t make it any better. I… I trusted Kirk. You know how he is, he never leaves a man behind.”

“Doktor McCoy said dat Meester Spock… he vould leawe us if dat is vat Prime Directiwe says he should do.”

Hikaru frowned a little. “Hate to say that the doc might be right, but… Listen, don’t worry about it. I’d always come back for you, and so would Kirk.”

“Dat is not vat I am vorried about…” Chekov began to argue, but Hikaru wrapped his arms around him, pressing his lips to Chekov’s forehead.

“It’s what I worry about sometimes though,” Hikaru admitted quietly. “The idea of something happening to you while we’re on some random planet… I know you want to go planet-side, but it scares me half to death.”

Chekov huffed softly even as he leaned into Hikaru’s embrace. “I am eighteen, I am not a small child,” he pointed out gently. “Besides, you did ze right ting. I know it vas hard for you to leawe Meester Spock, but…”

“Kirk had all our backs, like he always does,” Hikaru said firmly. “Now let’s get some sleep. We’ll be back on Earth before we know it.”

Chekov nodded. The pair of them stripped down to shorts and undershirts before crawling into bed. Hikaru suddenly looked bone-weary, and Chekov pulled the other man into his arms. Hikaru almost immediately pillowed into Chekov’s shoulder, clinging to him like a limpet. Chekov gently stroked his hair, watching with amusement as most of the silky black strands fell back into place.

“You vere brawe today, ‘Karu,” he whispered. “I am proud of you.”

Hikaru didn’t respond verbally, but the arm around Chekov’s waist tightened, and he clung to his boyfriend for the duration of the night, even if sleep was a long time coming for both of them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Hikaru Sulu found out about Kirk’s demotion from Dr. McCoy, which was not actually a surprise to him. The doctor had sent him a whole series of angry messages about how foolish Kirk was and what a traitor Spock was and what a bunch of assclowns the folks running Starfleet were, and Hikaru finally gave up trying to follow the other man’s train of thought.

Pavel frowned down at Sulu’s PADD. “Does Doktor McCoy really beliewe all of dis? I am fairly certain dat all of ze colonels cannot possibly be ze product of zeir mother’s relations vit a goat.”

Sulu snorted with amusement. “Nah, he’s just letting off steam. He usually rants to Kirk, unless Kirk’s the one he’s mad at. Lately I’ve become the next best option. Not that I mind. He was there for me when I needed someone to talk to.”

Pavel frowned. “You mean ven ve vere…”

“Before I told you everything about my family and all that, yes,” Sulu explained before Pavel could finish the thought. “He’s a good guy, so I don’t mind returning the favor.”

“It vill be odd being on Enterprise vitout Meester Spock…”

“Pike made a good captain, you know,” Sulu pointed out.

Pavel snorted. “He vas keptin for only a few hours before he vas taken as hostage. Ve do not know vat he is really like as keptin. Kirk is good keptin. And Meester Spock vas good officer.”

Sulu sighed. “Maybe it’s temporary. Starfleet felt like they had to put their foot down…”

“It just feels so wrong…” Pavel muttered. “Keptin Kirk…”

“Violated the Prime Directive,” Sulu pointed out. “But he did the right thing. He wouldn’t have been able to live with himself if he hadn’t.”

Pavel gently removed the PADD from Sulu’s hands. “Messages from Doktor vill still be zere tomorrow. You are mine for ze rest of ze night.”

Sulu smiled, letting Pavel straddle him playfully for a moment before pushing back, flipping the younger man onto his back. “Alright, Pav, you have my full attention,” he promised even as he grabbed Pavel’s cock through his pajama pants. Pavel pressed up against him with a low moan, and the pair of them passed the night much as they passed most other nights.

They woke the next day to hear of the dual attack on Starfleet; first the bombing of the archive followed by the direct attack on the Starfleet captains and the death of Pike. Pavel made one of the most distressing sounds Sulu had ever heard at the news, and both of them were grim-faced when they returned to the Enterprise, ready to chase after the fugitive responsible for the death of their former captain.

Sulu went straight to the bridge where he met Nyota and Spock. He tossed a salute to the half-Vulcan. “Mr. Spock, I didn’t expect to see you back on board for this mission.”

“It was a surprise to me as well, but… the captain requested my reassignment as one of the conditions of leading this mission,” Spock said quietly. Something was flashing in his eyes, something remarkably like worry, but Sulu wasn’t about to call him out on any show of emotion.

“Well, it’s a pleasure to have you back, Sir. The ship wouldn’t have been the same without you,” he said, just in case the emotion might be worry that Sulu had been secretly rejoicing in his assignment to another ship.

“I am certain that the day-to-day running of the ship would have continued as usual, although perhaps slightly different methods would have been implemented to keep order,” Spock began, then he paused. Sulu was certain he saw Nyota shift a little, almost as though she had kicked Spock’s ankle. Spock cleared his throat. “I am gratified to be back, Lieutenant,” Spock said after a moment’s pause.

And that, Sulu felt, was as close as any of them would get to hearing Spock say that he would have missed them. Nyota gave him a quick smile before she headed off the bridge towards the lift, and she passed Pavel coming out. The young navigator looked just a little wild-eyed. Sulu felt his spine straighten instinctively, wondering what could have Pavel looking so jittery. He plopped down next to Sulu, scooting his seat as close to his boyfriend as he possibly could.

“Keptin and Meester Scott are hawing a fight,” he hissed in Sulu’s ear.

Sulu tried his best not to snort because Pavel didn’t need that when he was obviously so stressed. “Pav, are you sure? Kirk doesn’t really argue with… with his crew,” he amended mid-sentence, remembering the spectacular bar brawls Kirk had participated in. “He doesn’t fight with his crew,” he reiterated more firmly. “He and Scotty are mates, they wouldn’t fight.”

“I know vat I saw,” Pavel insisted quietly. “Dis is not like Keptin.”

Sulu worried his lower lip against his teeth for a moment. He was fairly confident that whatever Scotty and Kirk had to hash out, they would manage it relatively quickly and they would get on with their mission. But he couldn’t ignore the nervous looks Pavel kept shooting him.

“He’s upset about Pike. The guy was his mentor, you know. And Kirk saw him die,” Sulu whispered back, hoping against hope that Spock superior hearing wasn’t making him privy to the conversation, as Sulu was painfully aware that Spock had also seen Pike die.

“Da, but…” Pavel paused as Spock crossed the bridge to stand near the lift. Kirk and Nyota emerged a moment later, and the trio shared a tense exchange of words before marching onto the bridge. “Kepin on ze bridge,” Pavel exclaimed, his voice remarkably steady and his face slipping back into his calm and professional mode. His leg pressed briefly against Sulu’s before he slid his chair back to its proper position.

Kirk took his seat in the captain’s chair, his expression as dark as anything Sulu had ever seen on the normally cheerful man’s face. The tension on the bridge was thick enough to cut with a knife.

Finally Kirk lifted his head, his gaze focusing right on Pavel.

“Mr. Chekov, you’ve been shadowing Mr. Scott. You are familiar with the engine systems aboard this ship?”

“Affirmatiwe, sir,” the young Russian said, his voice clear and calm, though his eyes suggested he was wondering why this was the question Kirk chose to ask him.

Kirk nodded. “Good. You’re my new chief. Put on a red shirt.”

Pavel’s mouth dropped open into a round ‘O’ of surprise. His eyes widened, but then he closed his mouth, setting his jaw firmly, refusing to betray his alarm any further. “Aye, Keptin,” he agreed as he stood up. Sulu watched carefully for any signs of trembling, but Pavel was steady.

“Retract all moorings, Mr. Sulu,” Kirk commanded, settling himself back in the captain’s chair. His expression was resigned.

Sulu felt his jaw clench. “Aye, sir,” he said with a forced calmness. Pavel hesitated at the lift, and they locked eyes. Pavel managed a weak smile, which Sulu returned, and he gave his boyfriend an encouraging nod. Pavel turned and vanished into the lift and Sulu let out the breath he’d been holding before preparing the ship for warp.

He wasn’t worried about Pavel, not exactly. There was an odd superstition about Starfleet crew who wore red shirts, that they were the most likely to meet their deaths on missions. Logically, Sulu knew that the crew who wore red shirts were from Engineering and Security. And since most deaths resulted from planet-side visits or from ship malfunctions, it was only logical, as Spock would say, that the crewmembers who met their deaths were the ones that were directly involved with these activities… that is, Engineering and Security. There was no curse on the uniform color, and plenty of crewmembers who wore the color had long and fruitful careers. But it didn’t prevent Sulu from feeling worried and almost ill without Pavel at his side on the bridge.

The ship was warping to the area of the neutral zone nearest to the planet Kronos in Klingon-controlled space, giving Sulu plenty of time for his reflections. But he was so lost in thought that he was completely unprepared when the ship dropped out of warp. He managed to catch himself on the console, but several other crewmembers went tumbling to the floor. Nyota swore violently in Telleric from where the sudden stop had knocked her.

“Mr. Chekov, did you break my ship?” Kirk demanded, trying not to sound too angry with the newly-appointed chief.

“Sorry sir, I do not know vat happened. The core overheated. I had to actiwate ze emergency stop. It must be a coolant leak. I need time to find it. Sorry, keptin.” Pavel’s voice sounded tinny and nervous from the bowels of the ship’s engines.

“Damnit…. Time to our destination, Mr. Sulu?”

“20 minutes,” Sulu replied instantly, having anticipated Kirk’s question and found the answer.

“Alright, we better hop to it.”

And with that, Kirk collected Spock and Nyota, preparing to disembark to Kronos to find the fugitive, John Harrison, and bring him in themselves rather than blow the planet apart with the torpedoes that Admiral Marsh had insisted that they use.

“I’m sure Engineering will have us patched up by the time we get back,” Kirk stated in response to Dr. McCoy’s baffled query about why they were still beaming down to Kronos from a crippled ship.

“Da, Keptin,” Pavel’s voice exclaimed from somewhere deep within the ship.

“Mr. Sulu, you have the conn,” Kirk told him as he started towards the lift. “Once we’re en route, I want you to transmit a targeted comm burst to Harrison’s location. You tell him you have a bunch of real big torpedoes pointed at his head and if he doesn’t play nice, you’re not afraid to use them. Is that a problem?” he asked with a tilt of his head.

“No sir,” Sulu said, standing up and moving slowly towards the captain’s chair. “I’ve just never sat in the chair before.”

“You’re gonna do great,” Kirk told him with an encouraging smile.

“Jim, wait!” McCoy exclaimed, following the captain to the lift. Sulu wasn’t exactly planning to listen in, but he definitely heard McCoy hiss, “You just sat that man down at a high-stakes poker game with no cards and told him to bluff. Now, Sulu’s a good man, but he is no captain.”

Sulu’s eyes narrowed. No captain? Surely McCoy knew him better than that. Sulu took his seat. He’d survived his crappy childhood with plenty of scars, but he was far from broken.

“Mr. Sulu, make sure that K’normian ship is ready to fly,” Kirk said through the comms.

Sulu activated the comm to one of the transport bays. “Acting Captain Sulu to Shuttle Bay Two. Please have the trade ship we confiscated during the Mudd incident last month fueled and flight-ready. Captain Kirk is en route to you now.”

Someone confirmed the order, and Sulu sat back to wait as McCoy reemerged on the bridge. Sulu made no comment about his friend’s lack of faith, and the good doctor didn’t express his doubts again.

After an appropriate amount of time had passed, Sulu nodded to the communications officer, and the transmission was activated. Sulu took a deep breath to center himself, then he sat up, his gaze sharpening and his thoughts focusing on the mysterious fugitive that Kirk, Spock, Nyota, and a pair of security guards were attempting to apprehend at that very moment.

“Attention John Harrison,” Sulu began, his voice low, steady, and firmly commanding. “This is Captain Hikaru Sulu of the USS Enterprise. A shuttle of highly-trained officers is on its way to your location. If you do not surrender to them immediately, I will unleash the entire payload of advanced long-range torpedoes currently locked onto your location. You have two minutes to confirm your compliance. Refusal to do so will result in your obliteration.” Sulu paused, his brows knitting together as he searched for an appropriate end to the message. “And if you test me… you will fail.”

There was dead silence on the bridge after Sulu finished his transmission.

Finally, Doctor McCoy cleared his throat. “Mr. Sulu, remind me never to piss you off.”

Chapter Text

Down in the engineering department, the whole crew had stopped to listen to the outgoing transmission, including Pavel Chekov. As he listened to Hikaru’s calm, commanding tones, he felt a slight shiver race down his spine. Staring off into the middle distance, he wondered how long Hikaru had possessed the ability to sound so terrifyingly in control… and how he could make Hikaru use that tone of voice again.

“Mr. Chekov?” someone called.

Chekov snapped back to attention. “Da, back to vork!” he exclaimed.

It took hours of crawling under hanging pieces of machinery and clambering along rickety catwalks before Chekov found the source of the problem. He’d heard snatches of conversation over comms while he worked, and he was dimly aware that someone named Kahn had been brought aboard (even though Chekov was certain that the man they’d been after was John Harrison), and that apparently Starfleet had a rather large problem with that.

He snapped back to attention when Kirk commed him. “Chekov, have you found the leak yet?”

“Da, keptin, ve haff found ze leak, but ze damage is substantial.”

There was a measured pause. “Any indication what caused the damage?”

“Nyet, sir, but I accept full responsibility,” the young Russian declared.

Again there was a long pause. “Something tells me it wasn’t your fault.”

Chekov was torn. On one hand, he was relieved that the captain wasn’t blaming him for the substantial damage to the ship or the fact that the repairs were taking ages. But on the other hand, if this disaster wasn’t Chekov’s fault, then what could have caused the problem?

One word darted through Chekov’s mind… Sabotage. But who would have wanted to cripple the ship? Chekov wished more than ever that he was on the bridge… that he could talk things over with Hikaru. He was sure he was missing something of the actions going on above his head, but there was nothing for it. Wiping the sweat from his brow and pulling his goggles down, he continued his work.

The next time he heard anything from the bridge, it was Captain Kirk yelling at Sulu to not drop the shields. Chekov had been dimly aware that Admiral Marcus was in the vicinity, so at first, he felt some measure of relief. If they were attacked by Klingons, there would be backup near at hand. But now he felt a chill. Something was very wrong with this situation.

“Mr. Chekov!” Kirk’s voice cut through the comms in that sharp “action is happening” tone that Chekov had become quite familiar with. “Can we warp?”

“Sir, if ve go to varp, ve run ze risk of seriously damaging ze core!” Chekov protested.

“Can we do it?” Kirk repeated, and there was desperate urgency in his voice. Chekov frowned. He wanted to tell Kirk that it was out of the question, that the ship couldn’t possibly sustain warp, that they were better off trying to fix the wretched thing for a while longer. But Kirk only took that tone of voice when he was desperate, so Chekov told him the truth.

“Technically, da, but I vould not adwise it, Keptin.”

“Noted,” Kirk said grimly. Then he added, “Mr. Sulu, set course for Earth.”

“Yes, sir,” Hikaru’s voice echoed faintly.

Chekov gritted his teeth. He knew there was a good reason for Kirk to take this risk, so he hung on grimly, still trying to keep the ship going for as long as possible.

Things went to hell quickly after that. They were forced out of warp, power was depleted. Kirk had gone on some crazy mission, but it was clearly failing. The ship was falling apart around them, despite Chekov’s best efforts. He wanted to scream in frustration, desperately wished that Scotty was here to give him a hand, though maybe it was for the best that the man couldn’t see his beloved ship going to pieces.

Chekov froze in the middle of trying to reset the ship’s stabilizers when he heard Spock firmly order the crew to abandon ship. Everyone stopped what they were doing. It seemed impossible that this beautiful ship was really going to fail them completely, that Starfleet had turned on them and was prepared to destroy them.

And then Chekov’s heart soared when he heard Hikaru’s voice. “All due respect, Commander, but we’re not going anywhere.”

He could just picture his boyfriend staring down his superior officer, firmly refusing to leave the ship. And Chekov whooped out loud, throwing his hands in the air and running off to the next task with new energy. Everyone around him was shouting too, less panicked and more exhilarated. They could keep the ship moving, they would stay the course.

And then Chekov heard the most beautiful sound in the entire world.

“I’m off this ship for one day! One bloody day!”

Scotty! Chekov tore across catwalks searching for the real engineering chief. Now everything really was going to be okay! Everything that Chekov had failed to fix, Scotty would put to rights.

And then the ship tilted hard. Chekov lost his footing, but wrapped his legs around a pole, just managing to catch himself. He held up his hands to shield himself from flying debris, and then he spotted Kirk and Scotty scrabbling their way towards the nearest edge. Stretching out, he managed to grab onto both of them.

“Chekov!” Kirk exclaimed, eyes lighting up with delight. He looked a bit worse for wear, but he was alive and ready for action.

“I haff got you, keptin!” Chekov exclaimed joyfully.

“Don’t let go!” Scotty yelped.

“Oh, Meester Scott, I am so wery glad to see you!” Chekov exclaimed as he hauled them back to safety. “I tried my best, but…. Dere must haff been sabotage!”

“Aye, there surely was, lad,” Scotty snarled. “And when I get my hands on the scum that decided it was a good idea to wreck holes in my lovely lady…!” He let the threat hang in the air.

The trio made their frantic way around the engines. Scotty was babbling about stabilizing the warp core, which even Chekov was struggling to follow, but he snapped to attention when Scotty mentioned the manual override switch.

‘I can flip ze svitch!” he exclaimed excitedly.

“Aye laddie, get to it!” Scotty exclaimed, and Chekov ran as fast as he could towards the deflector shield concealing the switch. Halfway there, the ship tilted again, sending the young Russian sliding down the catwalk, but at least he was sliding in the right direction.

“Oy-yoy! Oy-yoy! Oy-yoy-yoy!” he yelped as he tried to control his rapid descent. He nearly went flying, but managed to grab a railing and swing around to the switch and flip it.

At first, he wasn’t sure anything had worked. There was shaking, shuddering, some cries from people who had been injured in their painful tumbles… But finally the ship righted itself and began to make a noise that almost resembled its normal low humming sound. Relief swelled in Chekov’s chest, like a bubble about to burst.

He ran back to the warp core where he’d left Kirk and Scotty. Practically crowing in exultation, he could hardly wait to celebrate. They’d survived, the ship would be fixed soon, Scotty was back where he belonged, Chekov could return to his rightful place on the bridge… and to Hikaru.

And then he skidded to a stop. Scotty was strapped to a seat in the wall, his head lolling to one side, clearly knocked out. For a moment, Chekov felt wild panic. Who would have knocked out Scotty? That Kahn character had been left behind on that ship, no one on board would ever have wished any ill upon Scotty.

And then he looked at the door. The warp core lay behind it, with enough radiation back there to kill thirty grown men. And he saw Kirk slumped on the floor nearby. And he realized with numb horror what Kirk had done to save his ship, to save his entire crew.

Down the corridor, he heard footsteps. Chekov recognized the tread, measured despite the obvious hurry behind it.

Guilt flooded him, even though it made no sense. It wasn’t Chekov’s fault that Kirk had done this, he hadn’t even known what the captain was going to do. But he couldn’t bear to stand and watch as Spock lost another person he obviously cared so deeply about, not when Chekov should have been able to do something to prevent this death too.

And so he ran, ran away from Spock’s grief, and towards the relative safety of the bridge.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Spock had made his mad dash away from the bridge so shortly after all the systems started coming back online and the ship began to stabilize, it definitely caused Hikaru Sulu a bit of concern. Not enough to really stem the tide of celebration as the crew realized that they were not, in fact, going to die that day. But Sulu couldn’t help but stare at the lift door where Spock had vanished even as people shouted and celebrated around him. He caught Nyota’s eye and saw his own concern reflected there. Spock was so dedicated to his job, even in the face of difficulty or tragedy. He had refused to abandon the captain’s chair as he ordered everyone to flee the ship, so why had he left without so much as a word to anyone now that they were safe?

When the lift door opened again, Sulu was prepared for Spock to sneak back to the bridge, perhaps hoping that no one had really noticed his absence. He was even prepared for Kirk to show up to joyfully retake control of his beloved ship. He was assuredly not prepared for Pavel’s ashen face.

Sulu was on his feet in a heartbeat. “Pav, what happened?” he demanded, clasping Pavel’s shoulders. “Are you okay? You’re not hurt, are you?”

Pavel managed to shake his head, and Sulu gave the younger man a quick once-over to confirm this. He was filthy and a little battered, but he didn’t appear to be injured.

“Pav, talk to me, please,” he whispered, not caring that there was more than a hint of desperation threading through his voice.

“Keptin…” And Pavel swallowed heavily. “Keptin Kirk… Hikaru, he…”

Sulu stared, then shook his head disbelievingly. “No… No, Pav, you’re not…”

Pavel made a choked noise that was almost a sob, and Sulu pulled him into his arms, cradling the other man’s head and carding his fingers soothingly through those curls. Pavel’s hands clasped behind Sulu’s back and the two men clung to each other as Pavel struggled to swallow his sobs.

They’d kept their voices low, and no one seemed to be paying attention to them. To the casual eye, it likely appeared that they were just quietly celebrating the fact that they were both alive. Sulu pressed Pavel’s body close to him, offering up all the solid comfort that he possibly could.

Sulu glanced up when he felt a hand on his shoulder, and he found himself looking into Nyota’s concerned chocolate eyes. “Guys, what happened?” she whispered.

“Kirk’s dead, Nyota,” Sulu whispered back.

She gasped, trying to cover it with a slender hand. “No! He can’t be!” she hissed. “There’s no way… He just… He just isn’t.”

Sulu tilted his head just a bit to indicate Pavel’s quivering form, and Nyota’s lips pressed into a thin line.

“Spock’s going to kill Khan…” she whispered.

Sulu nodded. “I know.”

Pavel had calmed down by the time Spock appeared on the bridge. Their Acting Captain carried an air of icy anger about him and everyone slowly took their seats, eyes fixed firmly on the half-Vulcan. There was a level of despair settled on Spock that none of them had seen since Vulcan was destroyed.

“We are going to find Kahn,” Spock said quietly.

As the ship flew above Earth, they saw images of flaming wreckage.

“Scan the enemy ship for signs of life,” Spock commanded.

“Sir, no one could have survived that,” Sulu began.

“HE could,” Spock almost growled. And with that, he stormed off to the transporter room.

“Meester Spock is going to kill him,” Pavel whispered. He’d taken his place next to Sulu as usual, but his eyes were glassy as he stared at the screens in front of him. Clearly he was still processing Kirk’s death.

“Yes,” Sulu agreed, not even bothering to gloss over that fact. His jaw clenched as he wished he could join Spock in hunting the bastard down, but he knew that Spock’s half-Vulcan physiology was the only chance they had of catching the enhanced Kahn.

“Is no more zen he deserwes…” Pavel whispered, and Sulu just reached over and grabbed his boyfriend’s hand. It pained him to see the younger man so devastated and so hell-bent on vengeance, but this was almost more comforting than watching him spiral into grief and despair. They’d walked that path before and it had nearly damaged both of them irreparably. Sulu took a deep breath. He would be strong for Pavel and keep the other going, no matter what it took.

Spock’s mad dash after Kahn was brief, and it seemed no time at all before he had his hands on the enhanced human and was beating their captain’s killer into a bloody pulp. Sulu couldn’t bring himself to watch, so he turned from the spectacle, only to realize that Nyota had left the bridge. At first, he thought she must have left, unable to bear to watch Spock take a man’s life, but then he saw the familiar energy signature of the transporter beam, and she was standing on the low-flying ship with Spock and Kahn, screaming at Spock.

“Spock, stop! Stop!” she screamed, and something in her desperate pleading caught Spock’s attention. “He’s our only chance to save Kirk!” she continued desperately.

Sulu sat up straighter. Next to him, Pavel made a startled noise, and his grip tightened on Sulu’s hand. They both watched as Spock knocked Kahn out with a particularly vicious blow, then the trio was beamed aboard the ship. Sulu quickly commanded the rest of the bridge crew to dock the Enterprise above Starfleet Headquarters, and he and Pavel ran down to the medical bay.

McCoy was standing beside a cryo tube with a large hypo when they entered. Kahn’s unconscious form was being muscled into another cryo tube by several security guards. Spock was sitting on the edge of a biobed being examined by one of McCoy’s nurses, with Nyota standing nearby. She was wiping away a tear, and she flashed both boys a watery smile as they entered.

“Doc, what’s going on?” Sulu called.

McCoy turned, and Sulu felt a sharp spike of relief. Only a few short hours earlier, the doctor had nearly been blown to hell by one of the torpedoes that had contained Kahn’s crew, and Sulu hadn’t had a chance to see for himself that the man was perfectly safe. Angry as ever, naturally, and Sulu would have been worried if he wasn’t.

“Kahn’s blood… I used it t’ bring back a dead Tribble!” McCoy exclaimed, Southern accent even more pronounced in his excitement.

“You can use dis on Keptin Kirk?” Pavel exclaimed, sounding more than a little breathless. It seemed like a miracle, too much to ask for now after all they’d been through. There had already been so many miracles today, with the ship surviving its damage, and so few casualties.

“I’m damn sure gonna try,” McCoy said grimly. “We’re beamin’ down t’ the surface. Nothin’ left to do here now that Kahn’s contained, so go get some rest, boys. Doctor’s orders.”

Sulu glanced towards Spock and Nyota. Spock had received a few bandages, but otherwise looked perfectly fine after his tussle with the enhanced human. Nyota had wrapped her arms around herself, shaking slightly. Sulu was about to go to her when Spock stood, took the few steps to reach her side, and gently embraced her. It was so rare to see the half-Vulcan willingly touch anyone, but Sulu figured that even the stoic Commander was entitled to both offer and receive a little physical comfort after such a trying day.

McCoy glared at all of them. “Don’t any of you listen to your doctor? Y’all think I just give these orders for my own health? I assure you, my health would be a whole lot better if everyone on board would listen t’ me once in a while. We’ve been through hell and back today, now it’s time to get some rest. Move along! All four of you!”

Nyota gracefully rose to her feet, and Spock’s hand briefly caught on her sleeve before he released her. The half-Vulcan settled himself on one of the bio-beds, making it perfectly clear that he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. McCoy rolled his eyes, but didn’t actually comment.

Sulu glanced again at the cryo tube that held their captain’s unnaturally still form. Despite mentally berating himself not to get his hopes up too high, the excitement and hope in the air was infectious. McCoy’s idea had to work… it just had to.

Chapter Text

They could have headed down to the planet’s surface that night, but Pavel Chekov didn’t want to wait. Most of the crew members were boarding one of the transports that night, and it would take hours to catch one and then to find a hotel or a Starfleet barrack that could put the pair of them up for the night. On the other hand, remaining on the Enterprise that night guaranteed that they could spend the night in the comfort of their usual quarters.

Although Chekov still technically occupied his own room, he hadn’t spent a single night away from Hikaru since they’d started dating. Chekov had moved some of his things into Hikaru’s room, and Hikaru had moved some of his things into Chekov’s rooms to make space for their belongings. It had proved to be one of the more surprising benefits of having adjoining quarters.

Fingers threaded through Hikaru’s, Chekov tugged him gently along. They were both exhausted, but they needed each other more than they needed sleep at the moment. Although Chekov hadn’t consulted Hikaru about the plan to remain on board the ship tonight, he knew that his boyfriend wouldn’t object. Tomorrow, they could head down to the surface and figure out where they wanted to go. Maybe they would go to visit Hikaru’s sisters, maybe they would take quarters near one of Starfleet’s posts to be ready to depart when Kirk was well again. Chekov refused to acknowledge the possibility that Kirk would not survive, not when McCoy seemed so confident that he had found a way to bring their captain back.

Chekov didn’t even have to pause to think about the access code for their shared quarters, it was deeply engraved in his brain now. No sooner had the door swished closed behind them, then Hikaru was pulling at the scarlet material of Chekov’s over-shirt. Chekov leaned forward in an attempt to capture Hikaru’s lips in a kiss, but it was only the briefest touch of lips before Hikaru pulled back.

“Red isn’t your color, Pav,” Hikaru whispered, his tongue darting out to wet his own lips. “You just don’t look right in it.”

“Da, dis is true,” Chekov agreed quietly. “Gold is better. Is better vhen ve match.”

Hikaru nodded his fervent agreement. Having divested Chekov of the scarlet tunic, he buried his nose in the younger man’s curls. “You smell different too,” he murmured.

“Like ze engines,” Chekov agreed. He was sure that the smell of grease, oil, and smoke would be clinging to his body for hours, maybe even days. “I can take shower, eef you like,” he added.

Hikaru shook his head. “Later.” Peppering gentle kisses on Chekov’s face, he pulled the younger man closer to him. “I was worried about you, you know.”

“I can handle myself, ‘Karu,” Chekov pointed out gently, slipping his hands beneath Hikaru’s golden tunic. “I saved Meester Scott and Keptin today… before…” He stopped, shook his head, needing to trust that Dr. McCoy’s cure would save their captain’s life.

I know you’re capable, I do. That wasn’t the first time you saved Kirk’s life. And you’ve saved my life before, don’t you go thinking I’ll ever forget that. But… I like having you where I can keep an eye on you,” Hikaru admitted.

“You know dat if tings go bad…” Chekov began, thinking about those panicked moments when they all had thought that Khan would blow their ship apart.

“It’s stupid, I know, but I would rather keep you where I can see you,” Hikaru said firmly. “You can take care of yourself, you can save every single person on this ship, you can keep this whole stupid ship from falling to pieces because you’re brilliant and amazing, but at the end of the day… I just want you here. With me.”

“I vould razzer be vit you as vell,” Chekov informed him. “I vish I could haff been on ze bridge vhen you vere keptin.” He shot Hikaru a coy look. “You can be wery commanding.”

A dull flush darkened Hikaru’s cheeks. “I did what I had to do, Pav,” he said.

“I liked it wery much,” Chekov murmured, his voice a low purr in Hikaru’s ear.

Hikaru pulled Chekov flush against him. “Glad as I am to hear that, I would much rather forget about this mission. If we’re not going planet-side tonight, then I want to stay right here and make sure that you’re okay.”

“You know zat I am fine,” Chekov began to protest, but Hikaru was already dragging him onto their bed. Deciding that struggling would be pointless, Chekov devoted his energy to removing Hikaru’s gold tunic and undershirt, revealing the expanse of bronzed skin that Hikaru never seemed to lose no matter how long it had been since his body had seen proper sunlight.

“It just scares me sometimes. I know I must drive you crazy,” Hikaru said once he was shirtless and stretched out next to Chekov. The young Russian squirmed as his boyfriend’s fingers traced random patterns across his chest and stomach.

“Ve do a dangerous job,” Chekov tried, wondering if he’d ever be able to dig through to the heart of what was eating at Hikaru. “Ve haff had to save ze vorld. More zan once. And ve haff seen friends die. Too many.”

Hikaru buried his face against the juncture of Chekov’s shoulder. “I can’t stand the thought of losing you. Especially if there’s no way for me to protect you.”

The vision of Spock taking a seat on the biobed next to Kirk’s still form flashed through Chekov’s mind. He tangled his legs up with Hikaru’s, and the other man didn’t stir. So Chekov twisted his hips, surprising Hikaru. The young Russian managed to twist Hikaru onto his back, propelling himself to sit astride the Asian’s hips. Chekov’s hands gripped Hikaru’s shoulders, even as Hikaru’s steadying hands found their way to Chekov’s waist.

“We cannot live in fear, ‘Karu,” Chekov whispered. “Someday… someting vill happen and ve vill not be able to protect each ozzer. Dis is vhy we must appreciate ze moments like dis. All ze times ve valk avay. All ze nights ve are togezzer. Ve haff both had times ve could haff died, but ve are not dead yet.” He cupped his hand behind Hikaru’s head, and the other man came up willingly, his thighs dragging enticingly beneath Chekov as he sat up. Their lips met in a scorching kiss before Chekov forced himself back. “I lowe you. You cannot make me change dat.”

Hikaru wrapped his arms more securely around Chekov’s waist. “You know, we’re both likely to die young. Are you sure you still want to spend that time with me?”

“You ask dat question one more time, I vill make you regret it,” Chekov promised, biting Hikaru’s lower lip punishingly. “Ewen eef I knew dat ze vorld vould end tomorrow, I vould spend my last night vit you. I vill spend ewery night vit you, and I vill be holding your hand vhen ze vorld ends.”

Hikaru tried to speak, but he couldn’t seem to form words. But he surged upwards, and Chekov soon found himself flat on his back, unable to catch his breath as Hikaru almost seemed to devour him.

‘I could die just like this…’ he thought a little wildly. ‘And it would be the most perfect thing in the world.’

~*~*~*~*~*~

Hikaru Sulu blinked awake. It didn’t matter how many mornings he woke up in Starfleet barracks, he always experienced a wild moment of disorientation before he was properly conscious. Instinctively, he reached to his left, calming instantly when he encountered Pavel’s bare shoulder. The young Russian was still asleep, his breathing soft and steady in the early morning quiet.

Sulu reached out to grab his PADD, hoping for news of Kirk awakening. McCoy had promised that the captain’s vital signs looked good, and that his recovery seemed likely. They just needed him to wake up.

Pavel stirred then, twisting to wrap an arm around Sulu’s waist, cheek nuzzling into the fabric of Sulu’s sleep pants. “Anyting?” he murmured, his voice still thick with sleep.

“Not yet. Doc says soon though,” Sulu replied, ruffling the messy curls. Pavel managed not to whine in protest, but it was a near thing. “Come running with me?” Sulu asked after a minute of silence.

Pavel nodded, already pushing himself out of bed. The barracks didn’t feel right. Both men spent their days exercising, working in Starfleet labs, or helping Scotty tinker with the ship. Sometimes they had dinner with their fellow officers. And every night, they returned to their shared quarters and fell into bed together, sometimes to have sex, and sometimes just to sleep wrapped up together. It had been two long weeks on Earth, and Sulu was starting to wonder if it might be a good idea to go and visit their families. Kirk would need time to recover when he woke up, the Enterprise wasn’t leaving anytime soon. But he couldn’t help but feel like he needed to stay close to Starfleet, at least until Kirk was properly back among the living again.

They had just returned from their run, both flushed and sweaty, breathing heavily, but laughing every time they looked at each other, when both their PADDs chimed. Both their heads snapped in the direction of the devices.

“Do you tink…?” Pavel asked breathlessly.

Sulu wrapped his arm around his boyfriend for a moment before stepping away to grab his PADD. He felt his shoulders drop in disappointment, but he kept his voice light and cheerful. “It’s Miko, she’s inviting both of us to have lunch tomorrow,” he said, hoping his good cheer didn’t sound as fake as it felt.

By the time he turned around, Pavel’s expression was cautiously eager. “Da, I vould like wery much to meet her,” he agreed. “Ve haff talked so much, but…”

“It’s not the same as meeting in person, I know,” Sulu agreed. “Someday, you need to meet Rina too.”

“Is almost like I am part of ze family,” Pavel said with a laugh. “Does dis mean you vill vant to meet my parents next?”

Sulu gulped, and his nervousness must have showed, because Pavel laughed again, pulling Sulu into a breathless and sweaty kiss.

“We are disgusting and we need to shower!” Sulu laughed once he’d managed to tear their lips apart.

Pavel cast a considering glance at their bed, but Sulu shoved him towards the bathroom.

“Sheets cannot be wery clean after ze ozzer night!” Pavel protested.

Before Sulu could retort, their PADDs chimed again. Sulu glanced down at the device still clutched in his hand, and he froze.

Pavel paused, feeling the lines of tension radiating through his boyfriend. “’Karu? Vhat is it? Not… bad? Not your…?” He could not bring himself to ask about Sulu’s parents, for which Sulu was actually quite grateful for.

Sulu lifted his head, locking his dark eyes with Pavel’s hazel ones. “Kirk’s awake.”

The pair had never showered and dressed in their proper Starfleet uniforms so fast in their lives, even managing to avoid teasing each other in the shower. They raced each other across the campus lawns, gleefully ignoring the shocked looks of the staid professors. Shoes squeaking angrily against the crisp tile, they raced towards the room where McCoy had been keeping Kirk.

As they reached the door, Sulu caught himself on the open doorframe, one arm automatically snaking around Pavel’s waist even as the younger man’s weight crashed into him.

“You two do know yer in a hospital, don’t ya?” Dr. McCoy drawled in obvious frustration. “Can ya take it down a notch? Some people need their rest, even if they were being completely stupid little children a couple weeks ago.”

“I resent that remark, Bones,” Kirk said, his mouth twisting into a wry smirk.

“Do I look like I care?” McCoy demanded. “Don’t even think about gettin’ outta that bed!”

Kirk gave McCoy an exaggerated pout before turning his attention to his pilot and navigator. “So what have you delightful chaps been up to that delayed your arrival so much?” he asked, blue eyes gleaming wickedly as he studied their damp hair and flushed faces.

Pavel looked like he was about to explain, but Sulu knew that any explanation would be useless. “Classified,” he said with a shrug, guiding Pavel into the room with him.

Kirk looked a little too eager to continue that line of discussion, but McCoy was still glaring at his recalcitrant patient.

“You were in a coma for two damn weeks, don’t you even think about extertin’ yerself now! Those boys will still be all mushy and gooey around each other when you’re back on your stupid feet.”

“The doctor is right, Jim,” Spock said quietly from his seat next to Kirk’s bed.

“Dinnae look at me,” Scotty chuckled from his spot in the corner. “I jus’ wan’ed t’ make sure you’ll be comin’ back to our lady once you’re properly alive.”

“How dare you suggest otherwise? I will never let that beautiful girl get away from me,” Kirk said wistfully.

Nyota, perched on the foot of Kirk’s bed, winked at Sulu and Pavel as the crew members continued their easy banter.

Eventually, McCoy chased them out of the room with stern words (“Jim’ll still be here in the mornin’, you can be damn sure of that, now get out of here and let him rest!”), and Sulu, Pavel, Nyota, and Scotty all headed back to their quarters. Everyone noticed that Spock had stayed behind, but no one questioned that. If McCoy didn’t want him there, he’d let Spock know.

“It’s refreshing to know that we’ll be headin’ back ta space soon,” Scotty said as they left the medical unit.

Nyota nodded. “Now that the captain’s awake, we’ll be able to plan exactly how long until we head back to space.”

“Five year mission, remember?” Sulu added, one hand tangling itself up with Pavel’s just because he could.

“Aye, and I better make sure our lovely lassie is in the proper shape to get us through every one o’ those years,” Scotty said with a firm nod. He bid them all a good night before veering off the shuttle that would take him back to the ship bay. Sulu half-suspected that Scotty didn’t even have quarters on Earth, that he lived on his beloved ship full-time.

“You two have plans now that we know that Kirk is going to be okay?” Nyota asked them as they continued walking.

“Not yet,” Pavel said. “Ve vill be making plans soon, da?” he asked, glancing at Sulu.

Sulu nodded. “Tomorrow, we’re having lunch with one of my sisters. And Pavel wants us to go to Russia.” He licked his lips, which were suddenly painfully dry.

Nyota smiled, her dark eyes sparkling with glee. “Meeting the family then? Good way to spend your leave.”

Pavel’s cheeks turned a bit redder, and Sulu glanced down, then back up at Nyota. “Yeah, we thought so. Right, Pav?”

Pavel’s grin practically lit up the whole sidewalk around them. His grip on Sulu’s hand tightened, a mess of excitement and anticipation and anxiety. “Da. Is good plan. May be a vhile before ve get chance to do dis again,” he said, his accent becoming slightly more pronounced and betraying his nerves.

Nyota smiled fondly at the pair. “Well, good luck with that. Stay in touch,” she admonished them gently, before heading into the building she was staying in.

Pavel didn’t seem to be in any great hurry to return to their shared room, and Sulu was content to linger with him. It was late enough that the base was quiet, everyone settling in for the night or partying off base. The stars were sparkling with more fervor than usual, or that was how it seemed to Sulu. Pavel stopped walking after a few moments, his head tipped back to study the stars with undisguised awe.

“Ve do not get to see ze stars like dis anymore,” he murmured, somehow sensing Sulu’s unspoken question. “It is so different to see dem like dis… from a planet instead of a starship.”

They stood together, watching meteors shoot across the sky every now and then. Sulu was torn between staring up at the night sky and watching the silvery lights dance across Pavel’s hazel eyes. Finally Pavel looked at him, his expression shy in a way that Sulu hadn’t seen in a long time.

“Your family… You tink dey vill like me?”

“They already like you, Pav,” Sulu reminded him gently. “I’m more worried about YOUR family.”

“You do not haff to vorry. Dey vill like you because I like you,” Pavel said simply, and Sulu couldn’t resist drawing him into a kiss.

They kept it chaste for a minute, but then Pavel’s mouth started to move a little more urgently against Sulu’s, and Sulu remembered the way their teasing this afternoon had been interrupted. He cupped the back of Pavel’s head gently, and was gratified to find Pavel’s arms lacing around his waist in response. Suddenly, the tiny amount of space between their bodies thanks to their clothes was just entirely too much space, and Sulu forced himself to break off the kiss.

“Home?” he asked.

“Mmm,” Pavel hummed his assent.

They managed to walk back to their room without touching each other, not even holding hands on the way back for fear that this small point of contact would ignite a fire that they wouldn’t be able to quench. As soon as the door was closed behind them, they were kissing again. Often, Pavel took the lead, crowding his way into Sulu’s space, nudging him towards the bed or the couch or the shower. Occasionally, Sulu took the lead, often with a faint air of desperation as he backed Pavel up to a wall in his need to claim the younger man. This time, they were pulled to each other like magnets.

Sulu cupped the back Pavel’s head again. It was an instinctive action, every time they were against a wall or the shower, even when they were too close to the headboard. Pavel’s arms laced around Sulu’s waist again, though this time the hands slid underneath Sulu’s shirt, just resting against his skin. Sulu used his free hand to tug lightly at Pavel’s shirt.

“Off,” he whispered. “I need… There’s… It’s too much space,” he panted into Pavel’s mouth.

Maybe other people would have been confused by that, but his navigator had an excellent sense of what Sulu wanted at all times. Already, the young Russians hands were working to remove Sulu’s shirt. They broke for air long enough to lose their shirts and kick off their socks and shoes before they were back in each other’s arms.

“Bed?” Pavel suggested breathlessly.

“Mmm,” Sulu sighed, taking the opportunity to catch Pavel’s lower lip gently in his teeth, giving it a light tug. Pavel made a low noise, melting a little in Sulu’s arms.

Their kisses became deeper and more insistent, their tongues lazily competing for dominance without worrying overmuch about the outcome. Pavel’s hands has come to rest on Sulu’s hips, his thumbs stroking small circles against the flared bones rising up above the waistband.

They still weren’t close enough. Sulu wanted to crawl under the other man’s skin, merge their beings together completely, and never part from him. But he couldn’t do that, and he’d have to settle with showing his affection in every way he could think of. So he rolled his hips against Pavel’s, increasing the contact as much as possible, while attempting to steer him back towards the bed.

Pavel went easily, his fingers sliding into the waistband of Sulu’s pants to pull him along, as though Sulu wouldn’t be right there every step of the way. They fumbled their way out of the rest of their clothes before the back of Pavel’s knees hit the bed, and he wrapped his arms more tightly around Sulu’s waist in an effort to keep his balance. But Sulu was having absolutely none of that, and he threw his weight forward, sending both of them tumbling onto the bed.

They’d spent plenty of lazy mornings, or afternoons, or evenings, lazily making out in bed, but there was something more intimate about this. Their legs tangled together easily, a confusing jumble that assured that neither one of them would be getting up anytime soon. Their hands wandered across each other’s bodies as they had so many times before. Sulu had an intimate catalog in his head of every single freckle on Pavel’s body, every muscle, every plane, every curve, every scar. He knew that Pavel had an equally detailed catalog in his own head of Sulu’s body. There was something refreshing about touching his boyfriend though, like coming home after a long day. They didn’t touch each other nearly this much outside of the privacy of their own quarters, so in a way, that was completely accurate. Being able to touch like this meant that their day was over, that it was just the two of them as the rest of their responsibilities faded into the background for a while.

One of Pavel’s fingers ghosted across one of Sulu’s nipples, and he shivered, rolling his hips in response. This made Pavel gasp, as their cocks were currently trapped between their stomachs, pressed together and desperate for more friction. Sulu tried to remember how to breathe, then decided to forget about breathing in favor of continuing to kiss Pavel senseless. Pavel’s hips quivered against his own, and Sulu came to a quick decision.

Breaking the kiss, he tilted his head back to get a better look at Pavel, his pupils blown wide with arousal and his skin flushed. Pavel blinked at him, silently asking why Sulu had stopped kissing him. Sulu proffered his hand, palm tilted towards the younger man. “Lick,” he whispered.

Pavel didn’t hesitate, arching his head to carefully coat Sulu’s hand with saliva. Sulu watched him for a moment, unable to fathom why the sight was getting him so hot and bothered… unless it was a reminder of the other things Pavel had done with that wickedly talented tongue in the past. Deciding not to pursue that line of thought any further, Sulu occupied himself with nipping gently at Pavel’s neck, soothing the sting away with his tongue immediately afterwards. He was careful never to leave any marks though, mindful that Pavel might be embarrassed meeting his sister tomorrow with evidence of Sulu’s slightly possessive attitude all over his neck.

Once Pavel had licked Sulu’s hand to his satisfaction, Sulu readjusted, sliding his hand between their bodies to grip both of their cocks. The spit-slickness of his hand felt amazing as he pumped both of them. Pavel managed a few breathless whimpers against Sulu’s collarbone before Sulu swallowed the noises, capturing Pavel for yet more kisses.

It was perfect, Sulu decided dimly. The amount of skin-to-skin contact was deeply satisfying to something deep in his lizard brain, exchanging scents and body heat and who knew else. From head to toe, there was contact, and Sulu never wanted it to end.

He continued to stroke both of them, taking his time so that he could feel every little twitch that Pavel made, hear every tiny mewl and moan. Pavel’s toes curled against Sulu’s leg when Sulu ran his thumb across the head of Pavel’s cock, his stomach muscles twitched when Sulu turned his wrist, his fingers dug ever so slightly into Sulu’s back when Sulu lightly dragged his thumbnail along that sensitive spot on the underside of Pavel’s dick. His own pleasure had taken a backseat to cataloging all of Pavel’s reactions.

Pavel’s head titled backwards, and Sulu didn’t chase his mouth for once, wanting to hear the sounds that Pavel made as he came. He wasn’t disappointed, as several exclamations in Russian accompanied Pavel coating Sulu’s hand and both of their stomachs in cum. Sulu felt himself shudder, because that was hot as hell, but it wasn’t enough to push him over the edge. He continued to work Pavel through his orgasm until Pavel made a low whimpering noise in the back of his throat, indicating that he was becoming too over-sensitized for further contact. Releasing Pavel’s softened cock, Sulu stroked himself with a bit more vigor, replaying the sounds Pavel made again and again.

Recovering himself a little, Pavel tilted his head back towards Sulu, his breath tickling against Sulu’s cheek.

“Come on, ‘Karu…” his murmured, the familiar Russian accent sending a jolt down Sulu’s spine. “Made me feel so good… Vant you to feel dat good…”

Neither one of them was extremely interested in dirty talk. Sulu was still working on expressing his emotions towards his boyfriend, and Pavel just seemed shy about that sort of talk. This fact was confusing to Sulu on the occasions he thought about it, because really, how did that happen? Considering how oddly (but attractively) aggressive Pavel could be when he decided he wanted affection, it seemed that he wouldn’t really mind a bit of dirty talk. And it didn’t seem that he minded, just that he didn’t seem to know what to say. So hearing him talk in bed like this was driving Sulu to distraction, and it only took a few more strokes before he was also finished, uttering a few groans and appeals to deities, and coating both of them in another layer of cum.

Breathless and panting, they lay next to each other for several minute before Sulu got up and padded his way to the bathroom, returning in a moment with a wet cloth to clean themselves off. Then he settled next to Pavel again, and the younger man instantly had their legs tangled again. Sulu couldn’t resist planting another chaste kiss against Pavel’s slightly swollen lips.

Pavel hummed in quiet contentment. “Dat vas nice,” he murmured.

“Mhm,” Sulu agreed, already feeling himself drift off.

Pavel shifted briefly, and then Sulu felt a sheet fall across their bodies. They were quiet for a moment before Pavel whispered, “я люблю тебя… I lowe you.”

Sulu couldn’t help but smile. “I love you too, Pav.” And it made Sulu’s stomach swoop a little as he realized how easy those words were to say now.

The next day, the pair slept in later than usual. It occurred to Sulu that both of them had been carrying around an unhealthy amount of tension as they had worried about Kirk, but his newly-attained consciousness was such a relief. Kirk had woken up, he was going to recover, and they were going to go back to space as a proper crew. And so they slept, the weight of uncertainty lifted for the time being. Even the prospect of meeting Miko in person didn’t seem to have disturbed Pavel’s sleep, Sulu noticed when he awoke to find his boyfriend nestled into the crook of his neck.

It was easy to kiss Pavel awake, more difficult to keep that from moving on to other activities. But eventually they were both out of bed, dressed, and walking into the small restaurant that Miko had suggested they meet at.

Sulu hesitated just inside the doorway, and Pavel nearly ran right into him. Sulu could scarcely murmur an apology, as his attention was focused solely on the booth towards the back of the restaurant. He hadn’t seen his sister in person in over a year, but he had talked to her on the videophone often enough. But he still wasn’t prepared to see her like this.
Instead of wearing her long hair in its usual severe bun that she wore in court, she had it flowing loose over her shoulders. It made her look at least a couple years younger, but Sulu was thrown off balance by her companion. There was a man in the booth next to her, his arm thrown over Miko’s shoulder with the easy, casual affection that Sulu threw his own arm over Pavel’s shoulder regularly. His round, handsome face was focused solely on Miko, and he leaned in close to whisper something in her ear before pressing a kiss to her temple. She giggled, then turned to brush a few strands of his dark hair out of his eyes.

“I did not realize your sister had boyfriend,” Pavel said quietly behind him.

“Neither did I,” Sulu murmured back.

At that moment, Miko looked up and locked eyes with her younger brother. Her face lit up in a gleeful smile, and she lightly shoved the arm of the man next to her so that he would get out of the booth and allow her to greet the men approaching them.

“Hikaru! It’s so good to see you!” Miko exclaimed, standing up and embracing her brother.

Sulu couldn’t return her greeting. His brain had completely short-circuited. His beloved older sister, the dedicated career woman who had scarcely shown interest in finding romance, was heavily pregnant.

“And Pavel! It’s wonderful to finally meet you,” Miko continued, ignoring her brother’s shell-shocked expression and extending her arms towards Pavel, inviting him in for a hug as well. Pavel tentatively embraced her, eyes wide as he looked at Sulu, gauging his reaction to this new development.

“Is wery nice to meet you too, Miko,” Pavel said after a beat.

Miko took a half-step back, hands still on Pavel’s shoulders, and she looked him up and down. “I hope my brother appreciates what he has with you, dear,” she told him. Then she turned to face her brother. “Hikaru?”

“You’re pregnant,” Sulu blurted out, his brain unable to get past this obvious fact.

“Really?” Miko asked, arching an eyebrow and glancing down at her stomach. “I hadn’t noticed, dear brother, however did I manage without you?”

Sulu glanced at the man his sister had been sitting with. He was standing next to the booth still, a few paces away from the other three, waiting for the forthcoming introduction.
Miko took a few steps towards the other man, beckoning him over. “Hikaru, this is Andy. Andy, this is Hikaru, and this is Pavel.”

Andy took a step towards them, extending his hand. “Nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you, Hikaru.”

Hikaru stared at the hand held out towards him before his eyes flicked up to the other man’s face, to the cautious smile. “Interesting. This is the first I’ve heard about you.”

Andy’s smile faded a little. Miko’s eyes widened. “Hikaru, that’s not… that’s not true. I’ve mentioned him before, I know I have.”

“Not that often, you didn’t.” Sulu tried to rein in his mounting anger, but it was useless. “Never anything that made me think it was serious. Have you lost your mind? You were so pissed at me about Pavel, and then you turn around and pull this crap? Have you even told Rina?”

“Rina knows. I told her… a while ago,” Miko admitted, glancing down. “Besides… ‘Karu, this is different… It’s not…”

“Oh, bullshit!” Sulu exclaimed. “Don’t you dare stand here and tell me – “

Pavel grabbed Sulu’s wrist, yanking his arm down from where he’d started to point at his sister. “People are staring, ‘Karu,” he murmured. “Ve should sit and talk, da?”

Sulu took a deep breath, forcing himself back into a state of something resembling calm, and all four of them settled in the booth. Miko’s hands were clenched in front of her, but at least he hadn’t made her cry. Andy looked even more uncertain. Pavel ran his fingers soothingly over Sulu’s wrist.

“I’m sorry, ‘Karu,” Miko whispered. “I just… I wanted so badly to tell you in person. That’s why I told Rina first, she came to visit. It’s something... It’s important, Hikaru,” she said, leaning forward and reaching out to grab his hands. He let her because pulling back would have been incredibly mean. “This is important. To me, and to Andy, but also to you and Rina. It’s different for us, we all know that. It’s been so hard, but we’re all still together, all three of us. And this is just so important. I couldn’t tell you something like this over a call, not while you were in space, not while you were so far away.”

Sulu felt his walls begin to crumble under the intensity of her gaze. He glanced down at the table, and took a deep breath when he felt Pavel’s fingers trace his knee in silent reassurance. “And him? What’s the story here?” he asked, jerking his head towards Andy.

“Andy and I have been dating for a while.” Miko glanced at the man next to her, and a small smile crossed her lips. “I like him, but we’re not getting married. Not now. He’s going to… to be around. With me. And the baby. But we’re taking it slow, okay?”

Sulu licked dry lips, looking Andy over once again. He’d stayed quiet for a while, letting Hikaru process the situation. He’d been solicitous to Miko so far, even before he’d known her brother was watching. And his sister liked the man, obviously, or she wouldn’t have kept him around.

Sulu took another deep breath. Pavel’s hand still rested lightly on his leg, though the younger man hadn’t said a word since they’d sat down, waiting to see what Sulu’s reaction was going to be.

Sulu leaned back in his seat a little, feeling his shoulders relax as he consciously let himself settle down. Miko glanced at him, eyes wide and hopeful. “Okay then… If he’s going to be hanging around, I guess we should get to know each other. Tell me how you two met.”

And as Andy hesitantly started to answer, with Miko chiming in with additional details, Sulu let one of his hands drop below the table to tangle itself with Pavel’s, their shoulders bumping together as Pavel kept him grounded, holding him steady as his world shifted on its axis yet again.

Chapter Text

Hikaru Sulu took a deep breath, knowing that raising his voice wasn’t going to help him win this argument. “Miko, you’ve never wanted to live off planet,” he protested at last. “I can’t believe you’re even considering this.”

Tiny hands balled into fists, Miko stood with surprising grace considering she was nine months pregnant. Behind her, Andy made an aborted movement, resettling himself into something resembling parade rest as he realized that his girlfriend didn’t require his hand to steady her.

“I want to do what’s best for my family, Hikaru,” Miko said, her voice shaking just a little as she tried to keep her composure. “Andy’s been offered a really amazing job, he won’t get an opportunity like this if he stays on Earth. And I’m not letting our baby grow up without a father. I’m going with him. I’ll be able to get a job as a lawyer just as well at Yorktown.”

Sulu gave her a frustrated glare that plainly spelled out that he still didn’t approve of her plan.

Miko frowned at him. She looked like she wanted to walk over and place her hands on his shoulders and talk to him the way she did when she was trying so hard to be the adult in their little family, when he was an angry young teenager. Some habits never die. “I never talked about living off planet before because I needed to be here. Rina was here, and you were here, and you both needed me. And now I need to live somewhere else. Why is that so hard to understand?”

Sulu cast a resentful glance in Andy’s direction. He was still struggling to warm to the other man, still struggling to accept that his sister had kept such an important aspect of her life hidden from him for so long. Part of him screamed that he was being hypocritical for feeling this way when he’d hidden his budding relationship with Pavel, but then again, there were significant differences between their awkward courtship and Miko’s year-long serious relationship with a man she was having a child with. “What about Rina? Have you thought about what she needs?” he demanded.

“Hey, don’t drag me into this!” his other sister protested from her seat next to him on the couch. She shook her head, the short strands of her pixie-cut hair fluttering around her face, brushing against the teal frames of her glasses. The splash of color brightened up her face, and made her look so much younger than the giant black frames she had once hidden behind.

“You support her?” Sulu exclaimed, his voice cracking with frustration.

“Of course I support her!” Rina said fiercely. Her fingers fluttered along the seams of her jeans before she smoothed the cloth and stared Sulu down. “I know it doesn’t feel like it to you, but she and Andy have been together for a while, and they’ve been doing great. I…” She paused, visibly swallowing, then made herself continue. “I trust him to take care of her. And I trust her not to do anything she doesn’t want to do. Don’t you?”

Deflating a little, Sulu let himself settle back against the cushions of the couch. “You swear you’d tell us if something was wrong?” he said, not bothering to hide the icy look he shot Andy.

“Hikaru, of course I would. Get real,” Miko sniped at him.

“Being off planet is different from being here,” Sulu protested, trying to make her see why he was having so much trouble adjusting to this new development.

Miko ran her fingers through her hair. “I know, okay? But Yorktown is a Starfleet base. If I ever want to, it’ll be the easiest thing in the world to come back here.”

Sulu cast another glance at Andy. The other man was impossibly unflappable, and didn’t seem to mind in the least that all of them were talking about the possibility of Miko needing to leave him. The fact that Miko had told him enough about their home life had made Sulu extremely resentful at first, but then he’d realized that Fran had known for quite a while, and he’d made sure to tell Pavel before they’d officially gotten together, so it was probably only fair that the father of Miko’s unborn child should also be aware of the family’s dirty laundry.

“So, how are you and Andy planning to get to Yorktown, then?” Sulu said, deciding to table the argument, at least for now. Probably forever, if he was being honest with himself. His sister was ferocious once an idea entered her head, and this was just another perfect example.

“On the Enterprise,” Miko replied without even missing a beat.

Sulu studied her face for any signs of jesting, and found none. He glanced at Andy, but the other man looked equal parts solemn and earnest.

“Your captain is still recovering, and by the time your ship is ready to depart, the baby will be old enough for space travel,” Miko continued blithely. “Starfleet ships take ordinary civilians to other starbases all the time, so we’ll get off at the first one we arrive at, and make our way to Yorktown that way. Besides, it’ll give you plenty of time to bond with the newest members of our happy little family,” she finished with a winning smile.

“What’s the point of even arguing with you, you’ve already thought of everything,” Sulu said sarcastically. Pushing himself off the couch, he stalked past his sister and into the kitchen. His sisters were wise enough to let him go.

The sight in the kitchen calmed Sulu almost immediately. Pavel was sitting in a chair with his back to the door. His hands fluttered around like wild birds as he gesticulated while speaking to Fran. As soon as the argument had begun, the strawberry-blonde woman had dragged Pavel into the kitchen with her, clearly having decided that this was a discussion that should be confined to family only. Even though both Fran and Pavel were as close to family as could be, Sulu could understand the wisdom behind that decision.

Fran’s elbow was propped on the table, her hand supporting her chin. Her eyes were sparkling with mischief as she listened to Pavel.

“No, I understand,” she said with a firm nod. “But this is my entire field of study, okay? All the dead languages, how they evolved and how they decayed, that’s my bread and butter. Latin, Sumerian, Norn, Portuguese, Korean… they’re all lost, and that’s just what happens. Even Russia has some old dialects that are considered dead.”

“Da, of course, but you cannot seriously argue zat Russian vill be a dead language, the idea is absurd!” Pavel practically spat out.

“It happens, Pavel,” Fran said, her beaded bracelets clicking as she stretched out her wrist. “Trust me, though, people like me will make sure it’s never forgotten…”

“Nyet,” Pavel spat out, followed by a string of Russian that Sulu was certain was not complimentary. “Ze people of Russia vill not let our mozzer tongue fade avay as you haff described, it is inconceivable, zere are too many people who vill not permit dis.”

“Latin used to be the most common language…” Fran began, but Pavel was already shaking his head.

“Is nonsense language, only useful for classification,” the younger man said, crossing his arms stubbornly.

“Fran, what are you doing, winding him up like that? You’re not the one taking him home tonight,” Sulu said, finally stepping further into the room. Pavel turned, a bright smile appearing on his face. Sulu caught one of the other man’s hands, pressing the knuckles to his lips for a breath, and keeping their fingers entwined when he lowered his arm.

Fran tilted her head, one finger coming up to tangle itself into one of her wayward curls. “You should be thanking me, darling. Winding him up can only be good for you, don’t you think?”

“Rina, come put a leash on your girlfriend!” Sulu called.

“What’s the point, she’d just chew it up,” Rina said, standing just a few paces behind him. Sulu tried his best not to jump, and the corner of Pavel’s mouth twitched in amusement. Rina smirked at her brother before walking around the table. “Sweetheart, how many times have I told you not to rile the boys up like that? You know they can’t handle it.”

Fran laughed warmly, reaching up to pull Rina down onto her lap. Rina went easily, her head coming to rest in the crook of Fran’s neck. Sulu rolled his eyes exaggeratedly, but he was sure that he wasn’t keeping the fond look off his face.

Rina lifted an eyebrow at Sulu. For a moment, he was thinking of the three of them, living in Miko’s tiny apartment that she couldn’t really afford. Back then, he wasn’t sure that Rina would ever be able to look him in the eye again. She spent most of her time in the one bedroom in the apartment, while Sulu had slept on the couch, trying to pretend he didn’t hear his sisters crying at night, wishing he was allowed to comfort them.

But they had survived. And Rina was still sitting on her girlfriend’s lap, watching him patiently. “Are you back yet?” she demanded. “Have you done enough soul-searching for one night?”

Sulu ran his free hand through his hair, an exasperated sigh tearing itself from his lungs. “Alright, I’ll clear it with Spock or something, okay? I’ll help them.”

Rina smiled, and Sulu felt his heart lighten seeing his sister so happy.

“You’re sure you’ll be okay on your own?” he pleaded for the last time.

“I won’t be alone. Fran’s not going anywhere,” Rina reminded him gently. “And I’ll visit Miko at Yorktown, and you’ll both visit me here. It won’t be too different from living on opposite sides of the country.” It would, of course, but Miko was determined to keep her family together, and Rina was never going to stop her.

Sulu nodded, then tugged on Pavel’s hand. The other man stood at once, nodding to Fran. Something about the challenging tilt of his chin told Sulu that their argument was far from over.

Miko had sat back down in her chair near the couch. Andy hovered over her, his fingers gently tracing her cheek as he whispered something that Sulu couldn’t catch. But Miko’s cheeks were a dusky pink, so it must have been something affectionate. She tilted her head back a little, just enough to brush her lips against Andy’s, but then she looked over at Sulu.

“Are you boys leaving?” she asked.

Sulu nodded. “We should get back to base, but we’ll be back tomorrow.” He paused, then continued, “Captain Kirk is still indisposed, but I’ll see if I can talk to Commander Spock, okay?”

Miko smiled. “Thank you, Hikaru. It would mean the world to me if we could spend a little extra time with you before we arrive at Yorktown.”

“It would be nice,” Sulu agreed. The group bid each other goodnight, and Sulu and Pavel made their way back to their quarters in relative silence.

“Am I crazy for fighting Miko on this?” Sulu asked as they walked down the hall to their door.

“You vant to protect her. Is only natural,” Pavel answered, keying in their access code.

“And Andy… He seems like he’s good to her, doesn’t he?” Sulu continued as they made their way through the darkened living area, back towards their bedroom.

“He must be,” Pavel agreed easily. He removed his shirt, tossing the garment onto the floor near the closet. “Miko vould not be vit him if he vas not a good man.”

Sulu took his time peeling off his jeans and his shirt. “So you don’t think she’s just staying with him because of the baby?”

Pavel snorted as he removed his own jeans, as well as his briefs. “’Karu, ewen I can see dat dere is no point in trying to make Miko do someting she does not vant to do. If she is vit Andy, zen she is right vhere she vants to be.”

Sulu paused, then slid his boxer briefs off. “You’re right. I’m being a worrywart.”

“You are brozzer. Is your job,” Pavel informed him, leaning in to steal a kiss. “Fran on ze ozzer hand, she needs a good talking-to.”

Sulu laughed, gently nudging Pavel towards the bed. “You’re just sore because she insulted Mother Russia.”

“Is not polite to insult homeland,” Pavel muttered darkly, even as he let Sulu steer him onto the bed.

As Sulu grabbed the lube from their bedside table, he watched from the corner of his eye as Pavel considered. Then the young Russian moved so that he was kneeling on the bed, his hands gripping the headboard. Sulu felt molten lust shoot through his core as he watched his boyfriend put himself on display.

“You look so good like that. And you know it, don’t you?” Sulu murmured, brushing one lube-covered finger against Pavel’s hole. “You do this on purpose, you want me to look at you. To want you.”

Pavel’s answer was a low, needy whine as Sulu slid his finger inside. Pavel was still pretty loose from the night before, but Sulu would never allow them to have sex without making sure that Pavel was adequately prepared. He still feared hurting the younger man emotionally, but hurting him physically was something he would never do.

Sulu placed a gentle kiss right at the base of Pavel’s spine. “I could watch you like this all day,” he confessed as he watched Pavel rock back against his finger, craving more. Sulu was happy to oblige by adding a second finger. “That’s it, take it easy,” he murmured affectionately as Pave let out another keening noise.

He kissed his way gently up the knobs of Pavel’s spine, even as his fingers worked in a scissoring motion, opening the other man up. Pavel managed a few more whimpers, still rocking back against Sulu’s hand, seeking fullness, seeking pressure, seeking MORE. Sulu was only too happy to oblige, adding a third finger as he reached the spot between Pavel’s shoulder blades, nipping at the sharp edges of bone beneath Pavel’s skin.

“You take too long,” Pavel grunted, but any further protest was cut off by a gasp as Sulu twisted his wrist just so, one of his fingers gliding right along Pavel’s prostate, rendering him incapable of coherent remarks.

“You can’t possibly tell me you’re complaining,” Sulu replied, whispering directly into Pavel’s ear before nipping at that sensitive spot on his neck just below said ear.

“Newer,” Pavel sighed. “Unless you take all day.”

Sulu snorted in amusement, sliding his hand down Pavel’s chest. He could feel the slight stuttering gasps that indicated that Pavel was more than a little turned on, wishing that Sulu would just get on with it already. Sulu, being the excellent boyfriend that he was, was more than happy to oblige.

Still stretching Pavel out with his fingers, he ran his other hand down Pavel’s thigh before using that hand to slick his own cock up with plenty of lube. “Ready?” he asked, just barely managing to keep his voice steady. It didn’t matter how many times they were together, he would never get tired of slowly taking Pavel to pieces, even as Pavel pulled him apart even faster.

“Alvays,” Pavel gasped. “’Karu, PLEASE!”

Unable to deny him, Sulu slid his fingers free, gripping Pavel’s thigh. He could feel the other man shudder at the loss, but before he had time to truly miss the feeling of fullness, Sulu slid his cock in. They both froze for a moment, panting and losing themselves in the sensation of being joined. Sulu wanted desperately to bury himself in Pavel’s tight heat, but he made himself hold still, both hands settling on Pavel’s thighs and holding them both steady.

Pavel’s knuckles were white against the headboard, and his head was bowed, riotous curls hiding his face. Sulu waited, refusing to move until Pavel gave him the go-ahead. He knew it wouldn’t take long.

Pavel’s hips flexed, sinking back against Sulu’s cock. Sulu bit his lip, just barely swallowing a moan. Then Pavel rolled his hips again, sliding forward, then back again, taking in even more of Sulu’s cock. Taking the hint, Sulu also began to move, trying to time his thrusts with Pavel’s rocking hips, sliding his cock deeper and deeper with every thrust.

Pavel’s hands flexed against the headboard, then the muscles in his arms stood out for an instant as he pushed backwards against Sulu’s thrusting hips. His head tilted back, and Sulu barely caught a glimpse of Pavel’s profile – mouth open in a gasp, eyes half-closed in ecstasy, the flush of exertion staining his cheeks. It was entirely too similar to the flush that appeared when they were finishing a particularly invigorating run, something that Sulu had struggled with in the past. Conflating exercise and sex would create some very inconvenient situations once they were back on the Enterprise, but still easier than struggling with their budding attraction when said relationship was not permitted. Sulu was confident he could handle any future awkwardness now that they were allowed to be openly together.

Pavel moaned, a desperate sound that rang in Sulu’s ears. The younger man was definitely setting the pace now, pushing back so urgently that Sulu could scarcely keep up with him. His fingers dug into the muscles in Pavel’s thighs, trying to show how much he appreciated Pavel’s neediness, because he knew that words would fail him if he tried to speak. They often did, but especially in the midst of sex. The thought crossed his mind that he might very well be leaving bruises on Pavel’s skin, but he dismissed the thought at once. It wasn’t as though anyone else would ever see those marks. And even if they did, all that would prove was that Pavel belonged with Sulu.

Sulu’s eyes tracked a drop of sweat that was sliding down Pavel’s back, just to the left of his spine. He wanted to reach up and wipe it away, but he wasn’t sure he could move his hands at the moment. Pavel hadn’t let up the pace at all, and Sulu could feel himself bottoming out with each thrust. It was dizzying, and he could only fight to match Pavel’s movements.

They weren’t always this frenzied. Often, their sex was slow, tender, loving. But sometimes they were both too keyed up. Maybe Fran really had known exactly what she was doing. Pavel was almost always thrilled to indulge in Sulu’s occasional desire for a less sedate session of lovemaking, but it certainly didn’t hurt that Fran had been cheerily digging under his skin and insulting his Russian pride. How Fran had known to do this was a question that Sulu wasn’t sure he wanted to ponder.

“’Karu, god, dis…” Pavel paused, then a torrent of Russian poured from his mouth, words that Sulu was nearly certain were a mixture of curses and appeals to deities. He’d heard many of them before, though he rarely asked what they meant. Sometimes Pavel volunteered some translations, but many times, Sulu felt that Pavel didn’t even know what he was saying.

“Pav,” he groaned, desperation for release beginning to claw its way down his spine, pooling at his groin.

“’Karu, please,” Pavel begged again, and Sulu would never refuse Pavel anything. He managed to pry his stiff fingers away from Pavel’s thighs, wrapping one hand around his boyfriend’s cock. It only took a handful of strokes before Pavel was spilling over Sulu’s fingers. Pavel’s hips rolled backwards again as several eager and relieved pants and moans spilled out from Pavel’s lips. His forehead dropped forward to rest on the headboard between his hands.

Sulu couldn’t stop himself from gasping at the clenching around his cock as Pavel’s orgasm overcame him. He hung on through the aftershocks, then wrapped his arms around Pavel’s waist as the other man sagged a bit between them. “Good?” he asked breathlessly.

Pavel managed a nod. “Now you… Finish,” he panted.

It didn’t take long. Sulu had been trying to hold himself back, letting Pavel take what he needed. He was already so close that it only took a few more thrusts before he was falling over the edge himself.

“God damn,” Sulu panted, still holding on to Pavel, and praying his legs would continue to support him. “It’s probably a good thing we don’t do this every time.”

Pavel managed a breathless affirmation. Sulu gave Pavel’s hip a gentle squeeze in warning before he slid out. Pavel shuddered, obviously affected by the lack of fullness. Sulu tossed aside the pillow that Pavel had spilled onto, then made his way to the bathroom. He returned a moment later with a wet cloth, cleaning both of them as best he could. He may have spent a few extra moments just studying Pavel’s debauched form, glistening with sweat, red finger-shaped spots of his thighs. Sulu could have stared forever, but exhaustion was threatening to overcome him. So he fell onto the bed beside his boyfriend, who immediately pressed himself into Sulu’s side. Sulu wrapped his arm loosely around Pavel’s shoulders, reveling in the gentle weight and soft curls pressing against his shoulders.

“You good?” he couldn’t help but ask.

Pavel smiled, a lazy, fucked-out smile that Sulu reveled in, delighted that he’d been the one to place that smile there. “Obwiously. Vas newer in question. Go to sleep.”

Sulu exhaled, feeling supremely content with the world. Things were going to work out, he was sure of it.

“Lowe you,” Pavel murmured sleepily.

“Love you too,” Sulu murmured back, letting sleep sweep him away.

The jarring ring from his communicator startled Sulu awake far too soon. Having no idea what time it was, Sulu couldn’t even begin to question who it could be, or even whether it was too early to be receiving some kind of call. His hand scrabbled against the nightstand before he found his communicator, and he answered without looking at the name. “This is Sulu,” he mumbled.

“Hikaru, oh my god, wake up!” Rina was shouting in his ear.

Sulu twitched a little, opening one eye to glare at the tiny device shouting so loudly at him. “Rina?”

“Welcome back to the land of the living, now get your ass out of bed! Miko’s having the baby!”

“Shit!” Sulu yelped, sitting up rapidly. Pavel blinked dazedly up at him. “Okay, okay, I’m awake, Pav and I just need to get dressed, we’ll be right there!” Rina disconnected and Sulu buried his head in his hands for a moment.

“I… can’t believe this is actually happening,” he muttered.

Pavel sat up, pushing the sheets aside and grabbing Sulu’s wrist. “Vell, no time to vaste. Come on, ve need to shover, need to get ready.”

Sulu was more than happy to let Pavel guide him through the motions of getting ready. In a surprisingly short time, they were both showered and dressed, and Pavel was patiently but quickly guiding Sulu out the door.

Arriving at the hospital, they found Rina and Fran sitting in a waiting room. “Andy’s in there with her,” Rina said, answering Sulu’s question before he’d even figured out how to ask it.

“How long ago?” Sulu asked instead.

“We’re not sure, it was sometime in the middle of the night,” Fran informed him. “Apparently Miko knew that all of us would drop everything to run over here, and she figured that baby wasn’t coming for a while, so she didn’t let Andy call us for a few hours.”

Sulu snorted out a laugh. “Sounds like Miko.” He reached out and grabbed Rina’s hand, the one that wasn’t being gently held by Fran.

Hours passed in a mix of anxious silence and stilted conversation, and then it was late afternoon. Sulu thought he was going to explode, even with Pavel’s comforting presence against his side, but thankfully a nurse walked into the waiting area, headed straight towards them.

“Sulu family?” she asked.

“Yes?” Sulu asked, he and Rina both instantly on alert.

“Congratulations. Your sister is the proud mother of a healthy baby girl,” the nurse informed them with a broad smile.

“Can we see them?” Rina asked, her voice quivering with excitement.

“In a few minutes,” the nurse said agreeably.

“We have a niece,” Rina whispered as soon as the woman walked away. Then she laughed, a pure joyful sound that Sulu always treasured when he heard it. She threw her arms around her brother’s middle, and the siblings just held each other for a moment. Fran and Pavel congratulated them with hugs and affectionate kisses. Sulu accepted Fran’s kiss on the cheek before slinging his arm over Pavel’s shoulder. He couldn’t stop the smile that was threatening to split his face.

True to her word, the nurse allowed them back after only a few minutes. She didn’t even blink when Fran and Pavel moved to follow Rina and Sulu, clearly accepting that they were just as much family as the blood relations.

Miko was resting in a bed, her dark hair fanned on the pillow and a radiant smile on her face. Andy sat on a chair next to her bed, gently cradling a bundle of blankets. Both new parents looked up when the rest of the family entered the room, and Miko’s face lit up even more, something that shouldn’t have been possible considering how much she’d already been glowing.

Rina swooped in, embracing her sister warmly. “Oh, Miko!” she gasped. “Oh, what are you two going to name her?”

“We had a name picked out already,” Miko admitted, glancing over at Andy. “Her name is Kaylah.”

Andy shifted the bundle of blankets in his arms, his eyes never leaving the small form. Sulu took a moment to regret every second he’d ever spent convinced that this man wasn’t going to be a wonderful partner to Miko, and father to this child. Rina went to Andy’s side, leaving Sulu room to step forward to gently hug his oldest sister and whisper a congratulations in her ear. Then he moved towards Andy, who was standing up from his chair, vacating it for Rina. Once she was settled, Andy gently passed her the tiny bundle. While Rina cooed softly over her new niece, Sulu reached out, offering up a friendly handshake, which Andy accepted with a slightly sheepish grin. Taking a deep breath, Sulu took the last step forward so that he could see his niece for the first time.

Kaylah was even tinier than he’d expected, somehow. Only one hand was visible in the blankets, but the fingers and the fingernails were the tiniest things he’d ever seen. He was sure he’d seen dolls with larger hands than this baby. She already had a dusting of dark hair on her head, matching her parents. If her eyes had been open, he was sure that they would be the same dark brown as her parents as well. But she was still, resting up after her journey into the world. Her hand and some muscles in her face shifted every now and then, but she appeared to be sleeping peacefully. Sulu wasn’t sure that he’d ever seen anything so lovely before.

Rina took a deep breath. “I could hold her for hours, but… Hikaru?”

Hesitantly, Sulu reached out. Rina gently passed him the bundle of blankets. Sulu hoped that he wasn’t shaking too badly as he gently cradled his tiny niece to his chest. She was so light in his arms, so small, so fragile. Sulu was terrified as he held her, wondering how such a delicate thing could survive the world. But she had him, she had her parents, this whole loving family around her. He shifted a little, settling her more comfortably against his chest. Her tiny head turned, a soft noise leaving her before she settled back into a comfortable sleep.

Pavel hooked his chin over Sulu’s shoulder, one hand gently gripping Sulu’s arm. “She is beautiful,” he murmured. “You both must be so proud,” he added to Miko and Andy.

Fran had finally entered the room properly, settling herself close to Rina. Andy had also moved so that he could hold Miko’s hand. Miko looked anxiously at her baby brother. “What are you thinking?” she asked him.

Sulu took a deep breath. He was thinking about a lot of things. He was thinking about their amazing family. He was thinking about his future. He was thinking about his past. A tiny, easily ignored part of his brain worried about their parents finding out about Kaylah. Another tiny, less easily ignored part was thinking about how much this infant would grow while he was on this long mission. There were many things to wrestle with, intense thoughts about the present and the future that would require intense rumination, preferably with something delightfully alcoholic. But Miko was waiting for an answer, and Sulu wasn’t ready to start getting philosophical. He chose a safe answer.

“I’m thinking that I definitely need to talk about getting the three of you a place on the Enterprise so you can go to Yorktown.”

Chapter Text

As it turned out, being actually dead, and then being resurrected thanks to the blood of some kind of modified superhuman life-form was actually detrimental to a person’s health, and it would be several weeks before Kirk was ready to command the Enterprise again. His loyal officers were staying planet-side while they waited, none of them willing to take the chance that they would be on a mission with another crew when Kirk was cleared for active duty.

Pavel Chekov was doing his best to use the time well. He and Hikaru spent a significant amount of time with Hikaru’s family, of course. The siblings were already close, but Kaylah had drawn the familial bonds more tightly than ever.

Hikaru had even started to fully accept Andy once he saw how hard the other man was working to try to balance his girlfriend and their new daughter with completing the paperwork for his transfer to Yorktown. It was a dream opportunity for him, and Miko had been very supportive. She had already set herself up with a new job at a law firm in Yorktown, and she was more than prepared to keep their family together. Miko was not letting her daughter grow up without her father if she could help it, and although Hikaru had struggled with his sister’s decision, he’d ultimately come around to support her.

Chekov enjoyed the time spent with Hikaru’s sisters and their significant others, but he had also made sure to set aside time to visit his parents in Russia. He had planned to let Hikaru duck out of this particular visit, so it caught him by surprise when Hikaru insisted on going with him.

“But vhat about your sister and your niece?” Chekov asked, chewing on his lower lip as he watched Hikaru pack.

The older man shot a cheeky grin over his shoulder. “I’ll see more than enough of Miko when we’re taking them into space, and I’ll never be able to see enough of Kaylah. I don’t mind, I promise.”

“Da, but it really does not matter. You can stay if you vould razzer…”

Hikaru turned to face Chekov fully. “Pav. I want to do this. You’ve been looking forward to this, I know. And I genuinely want to meet your parents, okay? It’s going to be a really long time before we’re back on Earth, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity.”

Chekov couldn’t help the grin that lit up his face. It meant the world to him that Hikaru truly wanted to meet his parents because it meant that Hikaru planned on sticking around long enough for that to matter. Hikaru grinned back, then returned to packing.

When they stepped off the shuttle, the icy wind hit Chekov’s lungs like an all-too-familiar punch to the gut. He drew in a shaky breath, then another, as the arctic air stung his face and froze his lungs. By the third breath, he was breathing normally again, his body remembering how to handle the frigid temperatures.

Hikaru was still struggling, his eyes wide as he gasped against the sudden blast of cold. “How did you live in this?” he demanded, shaking snow out of his hair. Chekov chuckled at the futile effort.

“Vas not hard,” he laughed. “Ve stay indoors mostly.”

Hikaru snorted, drawing his parka more tightly around him. “Where are we going?” he asked.

“Dis vay,” Chekov said, tugging his boyfriend along. “My papa vill be vaiting at ze entrance.”

Sure enough, a robust man with dark curly hair was waiting next to a behemoth of a hovercar. The man threw his arms wide when he saw them approach.

“PAVEL ANDREOVICH!!!” he shouted, his accent even more pronounced than his son’s. Chekov shouted a greeting, and was swept up in a massive hug.

“It’s good to see you, Papa,” Chekov said in Russian, the words so breathtakingly familiar on his tongue, it made him want to cry. He hadn’t been back to Russia since his Academy days. This was the first time he’d returned home since Nero, since Kahn… Not since Hikaru.

“Your mama and I have missed you so much,” his father responded. “We’re glad you were able to come home.”

“Me too,” Chekov sighed, finally letting go of his father. “Papa, dis is Hikaru,” he added, hastily introducing his half-frozen boyfriend.

His father, thankfully, refrained from one of his overwhelming hugs, instead opting for a firm handshake. “Good to meet you at last, Hikaru. Call me Alexei, I insist.”

“Yes, sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you as well,” Hikaru responded, submitting to the handshake with good grace and only a slight wince as his fingers were crushed.

“Come. Home is close. And roads are clear,” Alexei declared cheerfully. “Last proper snow vas two or tree days ago. No problem, eh?”

“Da, let’s go,” Chekov agreed, as Hikaru nodded and climbed into the backseat.

Sure enough, the roads were easy to navigate, and Chekov found himself outside his parents’ cozy house for the first time in several years. His mother met them at the door, grabbing her son and kissing both his cheeks.

“Oh Pavel, it’s so good to see you,” she exclaimed, embracing her son. They were nearly the same height, so it wasn’t difficult for her to look into his eyes. “You need to call more often.”

“I know, Mama. I will try to do better,” he promised. He turned to Hikaru, who was following Alexei in after helping him collect their bags from the trunk of the hovercar. “Mama, dis is Hikaru. Hikaru, dis is my mama, Olga.”

“Pleasure to meet you at last,” Hikaru said, shifting his grip on the bags so he could extend his hand for a handshake. Olga blew right past the outstretched hand, however, giving him the same kisses on the cheek she had given her son.

“Pavel should haff brought you here sooner,” she declared warmly. “I should haff taught him better manners.”

Hikaru looked astounded as he followed Chekov into the house. Olga led them back to Chekov’s childhood room, and directed them both to leave their bags there. Hikaru looked even more astounded that they were being allowed to share a room, but Chekov wasn’t surprised. His parents were practical people who wouldn’t take issue with their adult son sharing a bed with his boyfriend, even under their roof.

After they spent some time talking, with Chekov catching his parents up on his adventures away from home, and Hikaru enduring their teasing grilling with good grace, Olga started preparing dinner. Alexei had just started talking about hockey when Olga reappeared.

“Pavel,” she said. Chekov looked up at her. “Could you please run to ze store? I haff a few tings I forgot. Hikaru can go vit you, da?’

“Sure, Mama,” Chekov agreed, taking her list. Hikaru followed, shrugging on his parka and burying his hands deep in the pockets of his coat, visibly bracing himself before Chekov opened the front door. And his look of dismay was absolutely comical when Chekov strode right past the hovercar, heading down to the sidewalk.

“Why aren’t we driving?” Hikaru asked once he’d caught up with Chekov.

“Store is only just down ze street. Faster to valk,” Chekov told him with a smirk.

“You’re doing this on purpose,” Hikaru declared, somehow burrowing even further into his coat.

“I am sure dat I haff no idea vhat you are talking about,” Chekov replied. He looped his arm through Hikaru’s, pressing into his side. “Come on, dis is not bad. Temperature is only a leettle negatiwe. Vould be much vorse if ve vere here in a couple months.”

“More than cold enough to be snowing,” Hikaru responded, glancing up at the soft, white flakes falling around them.

“Dis is not proper snow,” Chekov argued. “It is barely sticking to ze ground. Should be here during blizzard. Ve can barely get out of ze house.”

Hikaru shuddered. “Do me a favor, Pav. Don’t ever bring me here during one of your blizzards.”

“You haff no idea vhat you are missing,” Chekov protested. “Best part of snow is coming inside to fire in fireplace. Lots of blankets, hot chocolate, cuddling under blankets…”
Hikaru gave him a sideways look. “You’re making a better case for staying home.”

Chekov shrugged innocently. “Is nice to be outside in ze snow, but is also nice to come home.”

Hikaru nodded, and they reached the store. A whirl of snowflakes chased them through the door, and Chekov waved to the cashier, a woman he remembered from his many visits in his younger days. His mother’s list was short, and they were on their way back to the house in just a few minutes. Hikaru visibly shivered, tucking his gloved hands as close to his body as he could.

“Ve vill be home soon, do not vorry,” Chekov soothed him. “I promise I vill not take you outside too often, okay?”

Hikaru glanced at him, a sly smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I’m not worried. Once we get back to your house, though, I expect you to find a way to warm me up properly.”

A delighted laugh escaped Chekov, and he whirled Hikaru around to plant a proper kiss on his lips. Both of them had dry lips, already starting to crack in the cold, but the kiss still sparked with promise.

“You’re not going to train me to like the cold weather,” Hikaru said once they broke the kiss.

“Ve shall see,” Chekov replied, leading the way back to his parents’ house.

Later that evening, Hikaru sat on the couch in the living room, wearing a hoodie over his pajamas, and looking less than thrilled by his lot in life. Chekov padded in with a pair of mugs of homemade hot chocolate, one of Olga’s specialties.

“Drink, ‘Karu,” he said, handing over one of the mugs.

Hikaru did so, his eyes widening. “Wow. Beats replicator hot chocolate any day of the week,” he admitted. “This is amazing.”

Chekov nodded. “I haff tried to make it ze same vay from replicator, but it does not vork. Dis is one of ze tings I haff missed.”

“I can see why,” Hikaru said, taking another drink.

Chekov sat his mug on the table in front of them and sat down on the couch next to Hikaru. He leaned over to wrap his arms around Hikaru from behind, his hands slipping beneath the layers to settle against the bare skin of Hikaru’s stomach. Hikaru squirmed, but Chekov’s hands were warm from the mugs of hot chocolate, and Hikaru settled quickly, leaning back against Chekov’s warmer body.

“Why are you so warm anyways?”

“Is a surwiwal mechanism,” Chekov joked. “All Russians haff to be varm to surwiwe here.”

“Pavel is right,” Alexei laughed, walking in from the kitchen with a plate of cookies. “Ve are a hearty people.”

“Do not listen to either of zem,” Olga declare, ruffling both Hikaru and Chekov’s hair as she passed. “Zey are ridiculous.”

Hikaru had gone quite still when Chekov’s parents had entered the room, as though he suspected they would be told off for visibly cuddling on the couch, but neither of his parents batted an eye. Indeed, Alexei took a seat in one of the chairs next to the couch, and Olga settled herself comfortably in his lap. Chekov hooked his chin over Hikaru’s shoulder.

“Eat a cookie, Hikaru,” Olga insisted, reaching forward to grab a pair off the plate her husband had set on the table. She held one of them out, and Alexei took a bite, gazing into his wife’s eyes with exaggerated soppiness. She murmured a teasing endearment, smacking his arm lightly.

They continued chatting, with Chekov’s parents making every effort to speak Standard for the benefit of their guest, though they occasionally slipped into Russian without realizing it. Snuggled up to Hikaru and talking to his parents, Chekov felt a sense of contentment steal over him. He’d be excited to return to space, but spending time with his family like this was something he cherished, mostly because it had seemed so far out of reach not so long ago.

Eventually, Olga stood up. “Dis has been vonderful, but I tink it is time for bed. Goodnight, boys,” she said. Alexei kissed her hand as she started to walk away, and she kissed both Chekov and Hikaru on the forehead before she left the room. Hikaru accepted the gesture of affection again, though he still seemed astounded by it. It made Chekov smile to watch.

Alexei waited a few minutes, then he also stood up, stretching and yawning exaggeratedly. “See you boys in ze morning,” he said, following his wife back to their room.

Once his father was out of the room, Chekov tugged Hikaru to his feet. “Come on, ve should go to my room.”

“Why is that?” Hikaru asked as they rinsed their mugs in the sink.

“Because my room is on ze opposite side of ze house from my parents’. I insisted.” Chekov made a face. “Trust me.”

Hikaru snorted, his dark eyes glittering with delight. “Oh my,” he laughed.

Chekov laughed too, glad that this was something he could laugh about now. “Come on,” he said, tugging Hikaru to his room.

Once there, they both curled up in bed, limbs tangling together easily. Chekov lay half on top of Hikaru, who seemed in no hurry to dislodge him.

“You tink dis veek vill be good?” Chekov asked, his eyes already closed and his body sliding towards sleep.

“Yeah… Yeah, I think we’re going to have a great time here,” Hikaru agreed.

Over the next few days, Chekov’s parents continued to welcome Hikaru into the family, feed both boys insane amounts of food, and embarrass Chekov thoroughly with their affection towards each other. It was something that would have frustrated him as an immature teenager, but knowing how much work had gone into making their relationship this loving and secure, he now found them endearing. It didn’t stop him from blushing and covering his face when they were being especially lovey-dovey. Hikaru seemed bemused by the whole thing, but he took it all in stride.

With only two days left of their planned vacation, Chekov was a little surprised to find that his parents were leaving for the day, something that his mother referred to as a “retreat” that had been planned for weeks before the visit had been scheduled. Alexei and Olga had insisted that they could reschedule, but Chekov was equally insistent that his parents should go as they had planned.

“Hikaru and I are capable of entertaining ourselwes,” he told them patiently. Hikaru coughed, and Chekov kicked him in the ankle, but the accidental innuendo escaped his parents as it was in Standard rather than Russian. “You do not need to cancel on our account. Go, and haff fun,” he insisted.

As soon as his parents were gone, Chekov pulled on his coat, hat, and gloves. Hikaru watched him warily.

“And just where do you think you’re going?” Hikaru asked.

“Outside. I haff not been able to valk around in ze snow properly. And you are going to come vit me.”

“Wait, you want me to leave this nice, warm house?” Hikaru protested, even as he grabbed his boots.

“I vill make it vorth your vhile,” Chekov promised, draping Hikaru’s scarf around the back of the other man’s neck and using that to pull him forward for a kiss.

“I’m not sure that frostbite is worth any reward you come up with,” Hikaru complained, but he was pulling on his coat, and Chekov just smiled, holding out gloves and a hat for his boyfriend.

A short walk from his parents’ house was a small patch of woods, and that’s where Chekov led Hikaru. Away from the street, even their footsteps sounded muffled in the soft snow. Whiteness surrounded them, soft flakes continuing to fall all around. After a few moments, Chekov put a hand on Hikaru’s arm, making him stop.

“What is it?” Hikaru asked.

“Just… listen,” Chekov whispered.

Everything was so perfectly still. There were no human sounds, and no animal ones either. Not even a bird chirping. Above them, light gray clouds whirled, shedding powdery snowflakes down on them. Soft flakes surrounded them completely, muffling the sounds and creating a feeling of peaceful solitude. The light from the late afternoon sun that shone through was faint, but provided enough illumination for them to see easily. Staring up into the clouds at the swirling snow created an illusion not unlike flying through space, surrounded only by swirling stars. Only the faint creak of overladen tree branches broke the stillness around them. For a few moments, Chekov could pretend that they were the only two people left in the world. Such a thought would normally have made him feel melancholy, but right now, it felt so very right.

Chekov turned, drinking in the sight of Hikaru. The other man had his head tilted to one side, as though he was trying to seek out whatever distant sound Chekov had told him to listen for. Snow was scattered over his hat and on his shoulders, and Chekov reached out to brush some of it away. Hikaru turned his attention back to Chekov.

“Isn’t it peaceful?” Chekov asked, now only halfway paying attention to the beautiful wintery landscape.

“Could have stayed home and seen the same sight from our window,” Hikaru teased.

“Fine, smartass,” Chekov huffed, but he grinned. “I can take you to do someting fun zen.”

“Lead the way,” Hikaru said with a mock bow.

Chekov knew exactly where he was going to take Hikaru. It was late enough in the evening that the skating rink would be mostly deserted.

“Really, Pav?” Hikaru sighed when he saw the quiet rink. There were a few other people skating, but it certainly wasn’t crowded.

“Eet is fun!” Chekov exclaimed, paying the fee for their skates and dragging Hikaru over to a bench so they could lace up their skates. “Haff you ewer skated before?”

“It’s been…” Hikaru squinted out at the ice, “…a while. A few years. There are skating rink in San Francisco though, you know.”

“Feh. Zey are all indoors,” Chekov said, gesturing expansively to the snow-covered fence surrounding the ice. “Skating outdoors is much better.”

“We’ll see about that,” Hikaru teased, following Chekov’s lead towards the ice. He stepped confidently out onto the ice, only to immediately lose his footing and fall on his ass.

Chortling, Chekov moved to pull his boyfriend back to his feet. “You said you haff done dis before. You vere not lying, vere you?”

“I said it had been a few years!” Hikaru protested. “Let me find my feet, and I’ll be skating circles around you.”

“Promises, promises,” Chekov teased, skating a few circles around Hikaru just to prove that he could.

Hikaru managed a few more hesitant strides before getting bolder and lunging towards Chekov when the Russian got too close. Unfortunately, he still hadn’t found his feet, and his arms pinwheeled as he struggled to keep from losing his balance. Chekov swooped in, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend’s waist from behind, steadying him. Hikaru regained his balance, and settled his hands over Chekov’s.

“Thanks,” he said, a little breathlessly.

“Anytime,” Chekov replied. A number of corny lines about always being there to catch Hikaru when he fell ran through Chekov’s head, but they were all painfully cliché, and he shook his head to banish them, instead pushing off against the ice to continue skating with Hikaru in his arms.

“I know how to do this, I swear,” Hikaru informed him, though he still wasn’t trying to extricate himself from Chekov’s embrace.

“Da, I am sure you do,” Chekov agreed, not letting go as they continued their slow loop around the rink.

“Now you’re just enjoying yourself a little too much,” Hikaru sighed, squirming a little in Chekov’s gentle grip.

Chekov spun Hikaru around and slid his hands down Hikaru’s arms until their hands were loosely clasped. He spun them again so that Hikaru was facing forwards, and began skating backwards, pulling Hikaru along with him.

“Oh, you show-off!” Hikaru laughed. “Just because I didn’t grow up wearing skates like you did… Please tell me you never played hockey!”

“Is dat a joke?” Chekov asked incredulously. “Do I look like I vas good at contact sports?”

“Point taken,” Hikaru chuckled, lengthening his strides and forcing Chekov to skate faster if he wanted to keep Hikaru at arm’s length.

“Is it just me, or are you getting better at dis?” Chekov asked, starting to pant a little from the exertion.

Hikaru’s smile was positively devilish as he bent his knees, his strides becoming impossibly faster. “I warned you that I’ve done this before.”

“Hikaru! Vere you deliberately misleading me vhen you fell?” Chekov gasped in mock-horror, letting go of Hikaru’s hands and starting to turn to skate away from his boyfriend.

“I would never!” Hikaru exclaimed. Another stride and he caught Chekov’s hands before the other man had fully turned away from him. He reeled Chekov in easily, their momentum carrying them several more feet as Hikaru pulled Chekov close against the lean line of his body. “I told you it would take me a minute to find my feet.”

Chekov’s breath caught in his throat. They were pressed so close, he could feel Hikaru’s breath on his lips.

“You know, if we went back home, there’s all kinds of things we could do with your parents gone,” Hikaru breathed.

“Tings ve could haff done vit my parents in ze house,” Chekov said, feigning obliviousness.

“Hmm,” Hikaru hummed. “I don’t know about that. There are so many interesting ways we could warm ourselves up if we went home right now.”

Chekov tilted his head up to kiss Hikaru, biting his lower lip gently before retreating again. “Fine, you vin. Ve can go home.”

Hikaru chased him, kissing his nose briefly. “Thank goodness, I think my fingers are about to fall off.”

Chekov rolled his eyes heavenward. But he led the way off the ice where they returned their skates and headed back to his parents’ house. His parents weren’t due home for several more hours, so he set about starting a fire in the fireplace and dragging a few blankets over to the floor in front of the flames. Hikaru was peeling off his coat; his gloves, hat, and boots already stored safely by the door. The snow had never quite let up, so both of them were soaked with melted snowflakes. Chekov had shed his outerwear by the door, and set about removing his socks and his sweater, draping them near the fireplace to dry out. Hikaru joined him, teeth chattering audibly.

“If you vant, you can take a hot bath first,” Chekov pointed out, clasping Hikaru’s hands between his own, massaging them gently.

“I have faith in your fire,” Hikaru replied.

“In dat case, ve should continue getting out of dese clothes,” Chekov said. “You know dat body heat is easier to share if ve are both not vearing clothes.”

“You would say absolutely anything to get me out of my pants, wouldn’t you?” Hikaru teased, already shimmying out of said pants.

“Is not my fault dat you make it so easy,” Chekov teased back, shedding his own pants. He couldn’t help but notice that a few of Hikaru’s extremities did have an unhealthy bluish tint to them. “You should haff mentioned dat you vere so cold, ve could haff come back earlier,” he said contritely, massaging one of Hikaru’s hands again.

Hikaru used his free hand to drop his boxers to the floor. “I was having fun, Pav. So were you. I’m fine, don’t worry. You’ll warm me back up just fine.”

Having divested themselves of all their clothes, they settled down in the mound of blankets, and Chekov drew one of the warmest blankets over top of them. He had maneuvered Hikaru closest to the fire, and pressed himself up against every inch of his boyfriend’s body. Hikaru slid his arms around Chekov, trying to press them even closer together. Chekov splayed one of his hands over Hikaru’s back, reveling in the closeness. He tucked his head against the juncture of Hikaru’s neck and shoulder.

“Next time you want to cuddle, we don’t have to take a field trip into freezing cold weather,” Hikaru sighed into Chekov’s ear.

“But eet is much more satisfying to varm each ozzer up like dis,” Chekov argued playfully. “Of course ve can cuddle anytime, but you must admit dat dis is nice.”

“I could have done without the frostbite,” Hikaru sighed, one hand carding through Chekov’s hair. “But you’re right. This is nice.”

Chekov smiled against Hikaru’s skin. The delightful little shivers as his body tried to warm itself had subsided, and he was basking in the cocoon of warmth they had created. Hikaru still shivered occasionally, but the tremors were slowly becoming less frequent.

Hikaru hummed contentedly, eyes falling closed. “This is really nice though, seriously,” he murmured drowsily.

“Mhmm,” Chekov sighed, content with listening to Hikaru’s heartbeat and the soft crackling of the flames.

After a while, Hikaru nudged him a little. “We could go to bed, you know,” he murmured. And Chekov smiled, feeling the reason Hikaru wanted to move to their bedroom nudging against his hip.

“I am quite comfortable right vhere I am,” he informed Hikaru loftily.

“But if we go to bed, we can get nice and cozy and then not have to move for the rest of the night,” Hikaru protested.

“If ve go to bed, den ve haff to put out ze fire,” Chekov reminded him. Then he smirked, pressing his lips against Hikaru’s shoulder. “I bet I can entice you to stay here longer.”

“I bet you can too, but how do you plan to do that?” Hikaru asked, shifting a little to get a better angle to look down at Chekov.

Chekov sat up, the soft blanket sliding down his shoulder. The movement exposed Hikaru to the room, the firelight casting a warm glow over his skin. Hikaru shivered, but otherwise didn’t move from Chekov’s gaze. Chekov shoved lightly at Hikaru’s hip, and his boyfriend obligingly shifted to lay on his back. Chekov took full advantage of the slight change in position, swinging one leg over Hikaru to straddle the other man.

Hikaru’s breath seemed to catch in his throat, and Chekov bent to kiss him, teasing Hikaru’s lips with his tongue for a moment before sliding down Hikaru’s hips, his lips leaving a trail of fiery kisses down Hikaru’s neck, his chest, his stomach, his hips…

Pausing at Hikaru’s erection, Chekov licked his lips, considering. He exhaled slowly, and Hikaru twitched as the puff of air hit his waiting cock. Chekov couldn’t help but smile, and decided to be merciful. He swirled his tongue gently around the head of Hikaru’s cock, then took the head into his mouth. Hikaru managed a breathy moan, his fingers clenching the blankets underneath him. Chekov couldn’t control his smile as one of his hands splayed over Hikaru’s hip, gently pressing him against the blankets. He wanted desperately to watch the way Hikaru fell apart under his mouth, but the low noises of pleasure were just as satisfying in their own way.

Chekov wrapped his free hand around the base of Hikaru’s cock, giving it a firm squeeze just the way he knew the other man liked. Hikaru gasped sharply, one hand flying up from the blankets to tangle itself in Chekov’s curls. Chekov couldn’t help but moan a little at the gentle tug, but Hikaru didn’t push down, and didn’t pull his hair. Not hard, anyways.

Chekov obligingly slid lower, taking more of Hikaru’s cock into his mouth. He took several slow breaths through his nose, inhaling Hikaru’s unique scent, something he could drown in quite happily. His lips touched his own hand, still wrapped around Hikaru’s base, and he eased himself back, enjoying the slow slide of Hikaru’s dick through his mouth. He chased his own mouth with his hand, his saliva making the whole thing more slick and messy. Pulling all the way off, he let his lips slide gently against the head of Hikaru’s cock again, tasting the salty precum gathering there.

“Shit, Pavel,” Hikaru moaned as Chekov swallowed him down again. “How do you…?” he trailed off with a sharp gasp, his head tipping back to stare up at the ceiling. The muscles of his thigh corded beneath Chekov’s hand. Chekov stroked his hand reassuringly over the tense muscles, then started to properly suck. Hikaru managed to bite out an appeal to the heavens, but here on Earth, Chekov was relentless at wringing every ounce of pleasure from Hikaru that he could.

Hikaru groaned helplessly, his hand still kneading its way through Chekov’s curls, the other hand still scrabbling against the soft blankets around them. The icy weather outside had been forgotten, the combined heat of the fire and their bodies finally enough to ward off the chill of their outdoor activities. If Chekov squinted, he thought he might be able to see a bit of sweat starting to bead on Hikaru’s forehead or torso, but he didn’t focus on that for long.

As Chekov swallowed Hikaru down, a thought crossed his mind, so arousing that his cock twitched against Hikaru’s leg. He pulled off for a moment, a thin string of saliva still connecting his lip to Hikaru’s cock.

Hikaru’s eyes fluttered open. “What is it, Pav?” he asked, sounding slightly breathless, his cheeks flushed.

Chekov licked his lips, relishing the faintly salty taste as he considered how to word his request. “I… I vant to try someting. But I am not sure how you vill feel about it.”

Hikaru shifted, propping himself up on one elbow. “Come on, just ask me. You know the worst thing I can say is that I’m not interested. And I swear I won’t make fun of you or think badly of you, no matter what you want to do.”

Chekov nodded his understanding, though he still hesitated. “Someting I haff heard about before. It is called “sixty-nineing,” I tink.”

Hikaru exhaled, not a hint of judgement on his face. “I’m not sure that those work outside of pornos,” he said finally. “But if you want to try, we can try.”

Chekov pushed himself up and gave Hikaru a bruising kiss before twisting to lie next to his boyfriend, their feet pointing in opposite directions. Hikaru twisted his upper body, one hand coming up to trace Chekov’s cock with something akin to reverence. Hikaru never seemed to know exactly where to start when he went down on Chekov, and the young Russian decided not to bother waiting. Licking his palm to get it slick again, he went right back to his previous task of fitting as much of Hikaru’s cock down his throat as he could.

Hikaru let out of faint hiss of surprise, and the warm breath against his heretofore untouched cock caused Chekov’s hips to buck. He vaguely thought that the velvety skin his cock brushed against probably belonged to Hikaru’s cheek, but he wasn’t about to release Hikaru’s cock just to check on that theory. Instead, he gently relaxed his throat muscles, allowing another inch of Hikaru’s cock to slide into his mouth, bumping against the back of his throat. He kept his throat relaxed with effort, holding him there for a moment before sliding back. And it was a good thing he did so as Hikaru finally took the initiative to slide his tongue up Chekov’s shaft. Chekov made a faint whining sound, muffled by Hikaru’s cock, and he let the head pop wetly out of his mouth in order to moan his appreciation properly. Hikaru was currently treating Chekov’s cock as something akin to a very tasty lollipop, and Chekov was doing the exact opposite of complaining about that.

One of Hikaru’s hands landed on Chekov’s stomach, gently petting the soft skin as though Chekov were some sort of startled animal. It was then that Chekov realized that he was holding himself stiffly, caught up in the twin sensations of giving and receiving pleasure. Exhaling slowly through his nose, he made himself relax, and received a gentle stroke and Hikaru finally taking the head of Chekov’s cock into his mouth as a reward. Unable to help himself, Chekov raked his fingernails down Hikaru’s thigh, drawing a gasp from the other man. Chekov shivered at the sudden breath of air on his cock where before there had been warm suction. As soon as Hikaru’s lips closed around his cock again, Chekov dragged his nails along Hikaru’s thigh again. This elicited the same result, and he moaned his approval around Hikaru’s cock. Hikaru whined helplessly, his teeth nipping at the skin of Chekov’s inner thigh. His hand wrapped around Chekov’s cock, continuing to pleasure him even as he muffled his cries of pleasure by biting again and again at Chekov’s thigh. Every bite made Chekov whimper, the heady mix of pleasure and pain driving him to greater heights of arousal.

Even through the haze of arousal clouding his mind, Chekov continued to work at deep-throating Hikaru’s cock. He was close, his hand barely had room to grip Hikaru’s shaft before it met his lips. Breathing slowly through his nose, he inched down, letting his senses fill completely with Hikaru. All the beautiful things that Hikaru was doing to his cock took a backseat in Chekov’s mind as he let himself focus on that blissful moment where he held all of Hikaru in his mouth. It never lasted long, a few seconds at most, but Chekov chased it every time.

Deciding that he needed a little help if he wanted to take Hikaru’s cock completely, Chekov moved his hand from Hikaru’s cock down to his balls. The most feather-light touches would drive Hikaru wild, previous experience had shown.

Sure enough, Hikaru exhaled sharply, a low whine vibrating around Chekov’s cock and making him groan. A combination of the vibrations and the touching seemed to drive Hikaru a little closer to the edge. His hips began to move of their own accord. Normally when Chekov went down on Hikaru, he could use his weight on the other man’s hips and legs to hold him relatively still. But lying next to each other as they were, Chekov’s weight on Hikaru’s body was substantially reduced. The quick rabbiting of Hikaru’s hips forced his cock even deeper down Chekov’s throat. He knew his nails were digging into Hikaru’s thigh, but he couldn’t stop himself. Quick little breaths through his nose kept him going, relishing the way Hikaru fucked into his mouth with a desperation that Chekov only rarely saw. Hikaru held himself in control so often that any break in that composure, any moment given over to wild passion was cherished. Tears forced their way out of Chekov’s eyes, clinging to his eyelashes, and he would have laughed if he could.

It was better than he could have imagined, feeling Hikaru’s cock roughly bruising the back of his throat. Chekov’s nose occasionally bumped the wiry curls surrounding Hikaru’s cock, and he wanted to break free and catch his breath, but he also didn’t want this to stop. More tears leaked from the corner of his eye as he struggled to catch his breath, but it would be impossible until Hikaru was finished, and Chekov was happy to ride it out.

Hikaru’s thrusts were becoming more erratic, and he whined around Chekov’s cock before suddenly pulling off, once again biting at Chekov’s thighs to muffle his cries as he spent himself down Chekov’s waiting throat. Chekov swallowed it all down, not that there was another option given how far Hikaru’s cock had made it down his throat.

After several seconds, Hikaru’s breathing began to even out, and Chekov slowly eased his way off of Hikaru’s cock. His tongue continued to glide around Hikaru’s shaft as it withdrew, cleaning him with infinite care. Chekov was still gently licking the (likely over-sensitive) head of Hikaru’s cock when his boyfriend went back to working Chekov’s cock over.

It was almost too much, Chekov was surprised to realize. He was already feeling wrung out from the euphoria of letting Hikaru fuck his mouth with abandon, but his own cock was demanding attention now that it was ensconced in Hikaru’s mouth again.

Hikaru wrapped his own hand around the base of Chekov’s cock, sucking Chekov into his mouth and caressing every inch that he could with his tongue. Chekov couldn’t hold back his moans, and he didn’t really bother to try. His pleading noises guided Hikaru along, and Chekov gave himself over to the pleasure. His hips shuddered a little, though he didn’t fuck into Hikaru’s mouth the way his boyfriend had just done. Instead he let himself go limp as waves of pleasure washed over him. He felt fuzzy and over-stimulated at the same time, waves of bliss intertwined with bursts of overwhelming sensation clouding his mind.

He shuddered when he felt his cock bump the back of Hikaru’s throat, and Hikaru pulled back with a cough. But he settled down into the rhythm quickly enough, the heat of his mouth moving up and down Chekov’s cock in a steady rhythm. And then Hikaru hollowed his cheeks and sucked just a bit harder than he had been, and his tongue pressed against the bottom of Chekov’s cock, and Chekov couldn’t hold back any more. He managed to gasp out a warning, but Hikaru ignored him and sucked at his cock again, and Chekov came with a desperate groan. His hips bucked once, but then his whole body became pliant and loose as Hikaru tried to catch the rest of Chekov’s cum in his mouth. Chekov tilted his head just in time to see Hikaru release his cock, only for the last few droplets to spatter against his flushed cheek. With more cum leaking from the corner of his mouth and down his chin, Hikaru looked beautifully debauched, and Chekov resolved to kiss him senseless as soon as he could move again.

“That… was a good idea,” Hikaru said, a laugh threading through his voice.

“I haff many of dem,” Chekov teased. “Ve should put eweryting avay and go to bed,” he added after a moment.

“Mmm, I really like where your head is at right now,” Hikaru replied. Chekov groaned out loud at the bad double entendre, and pushed himself into a more upright position so that he could reach Hikaru’s lips to stop any more terrible jokes. Hikaru laughed against his mouth, and Chekov decided that he could put up with even the worst jokes in the world if they made Hikaru that happy all the time.

Hikaru stroked his thumb across Chekov’s cheek. “Tears, Pav?” he asked, his voice low and careful.

“Good tears, I promise,” Chekov whispered, his lips brushing against Hikaru’s with every syllable. “I vould do it again in a heartbeat, so you must let me, okay?” His whisper sounded scratchy and raw to his own ears, but Hikaru let it go, pulling Chekov into a deeper kiss.

“You’ll stop me if I ever hurt you, right?” he whispered, his other thumb coming up to stroke the traces of tears from Chekov’s other cheek.

“Only eef eet is a bad kind of hurt,” Chekov informed him. “I liked it, ‘Karu, I vant to do eet again sometime. I am not glass, I vill not break.”

“I know. Of course I know,” Hikaru murmured as Chekov moved to lick the trail of cum from Hikaru’s chin, cleaning him with infinite tenderness. Then he returned to Hikaru’s lips and they tried to devour each other for a minute before Chekov drew back, catching Hikaru’s lower lip between his teeth before finally parting from him completely.

“Ve should clean up before my parents get home,” he sighed.

Hikaru groaned softly. “You’re making me feel like a teenager again, sneaking around the parents’ house like this.”

“Did you ewer do anyting dis scandalous vhen you vere younger?” Chekov asked curiously as he began to fold the blankets into a neat pile next to the couch.

Hikaru snorted. “No, Pav, you seem to have a way of bringing out the devil in me,” he said as he gathered up their discarded clothes and started to pad towards Chekov’s bedroom.

“Good,” Chekov said, moving to put out the fire. “Den ve should go to bed now, and maybe later see vhat other devilment ve can get up to before ve haff to get up.”

Hikaru actually laughed that time. “I’ll hold you to that. I’ll warm up the bed.” And the coy look that he shot Chekov made the young Russian hurry up at straightening the living room so that he could follow Hikaru, as he wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

Chapter Text

Hikaru Sulu woke up feeling stiff, but sated. True to his word, Pavel had woken him up at some ungodly hour, they’d had sex, and then fallen back asleep in each other’s arms. But Pavel had already slipped away from their shared bed, and was likely already breaking his fast with one or both of his parents.

Yawning, Sulu climbed out of bed and snatched some clothes from the floor before making his way to the kitchen. Alexei was nowhere in sight, but Olga and Pavel were sitting at the table, both holding mugs of hot chocolate and conversing in Russian. Neither noticed Sulu right away, so he hung back for a moment to watch them. Pavel was looking very intently down at his mug, and Olga looked… sad.

The woman sat back in her chair when she said something in Russian and Pavel made no response. Then her eyes fell on Sulu and she smiled in welcome. “Hikaru, good morning,” she said pleasantly.

At that, Pavel sat up a little straighter and turned to face Sulu. “Dere you are, I vas vondering eef I should vake you,” he said. “It ees not like you to sleep so late…” A tiny smirk crossed the younger man’s face before vanishing again.

A few thoughts flashed though Sulu’s mind, mostly thoughts about how Pavel should know exactly why he was so tired this morning, the brat, but nothing he could say in front of his boyfriend’s mother. So he settled for ruffling the younger man’s curls. “Hush, you. Do we have any plans for today?” he asked. It was their last day in Russia, they would be heading back to San Francisco that evening.

“Da, I had some ideas,” Olga said, even as she stood up to fetch Sulu the breakfast that she’d been keeping warm on the stove.

Sulu sat down, eager to enjoy some more of Olga’s home-cooked meals. It was the first time he’d had consistent quality home-cooked meals since his childhood. After leaving home, things had been challenging for the three Sulu siblings. Miko had been too busy with college and working and trying to hold all three of them together at the same time to bother with cooking anything elaborate. And Rina had been too wrapped up in coping with their time living with their parents. Hikaru had occasionally tried to learn to cook, but he had mostly washed his hands of the whole thing and spent his evenings away from home. It was something he regretted now that he was older, that he hadn’t tried harder to reconnect with Rina or take some of the burden off Miko’s hands.

Realizing his thoughts had wandered, Sulu shook his head and applied himself to his food. He looked up at Pavel, and the younger man gave him a sweet smile, his foot nudging Sulu’s under the table.

Olga spoke again in Russian, and Pavel sighed before answering her. They continued speaking in Russian, which Sulu politely ignored. If it was something they wanted him to know about, they would have been speaking Standard.

The front door slammed noisily and Alexei strode into the kitchen, having shed his overcoat and boots in the entryway. For the first time since they’d arrived, he didn’t immediately greet Olga with an embrace and a kiss. He nodded in greeting to the three people in the kitchen and boomed, “So, are ve leawing soon den?”

“As soon as all of us are ready,” Olga said mildly. Sulu was pretty sure it wasn’t meant as a reprimand, but he finished his food with a guilty swallow.

Pavel seemed skittish as he put on his boots and coat. Sulu wanted to ask him about the change in mood, but he ended up helping Alexei bring their suitcases out to the hovercar. Evidently the Chekovs weren’t sure they’d be coming back before the boys had to be at the shuttle station.

The four went to Moscow, which they had visited earlier in the vacation, but Pavel insisted with a laugh that it was impossible for Sulu to have seen the city properly with just one visit.

“Ze glory of Russia can be owervhelming ze first few times,” Pavel was explaining, his arm looped through Sulu’s as they set off at a quick pace. Sulu glanced over his shoulder to see Alexei and Olga following them, but he couldn’t tell if they were speaking or not.

“You’re going to miss this place?” Sulu asked tentatively as they stared up at some large cathedral or something (he had zoned out a bit while Pavel played tour guide and was too embarrassed to admit it and ask for clarification).

Pavel chewed on his lower lip for a minute. “Not dis one specifically,” he said, eyes fixed on the spire above their heads. “I alvways miss Russia vhen I am not here,” he admitted after a moment.

Sulu cast a glance towards Alexei and Olga. They stood a few feet away, conversing in Russian. Alexei put his arm around Olga’s shoulders, and Olga leaned into the embrace. Sulu felt unaccountably relieved. He noticed Pavel was also watching his parents, and the younger man’s shoulders noticeably relaxed when he saw the embrace. Sulu wrapped his arm around Pavel’s waist, drawing him closer.

“I know we’ll be gone for five years, but when we’re back… we should visit again,” he said after a moment.

Pavel looked up, surprise and delight plain upon his face. “You vill come back vit me?” he asked.

“Of course,” Sulu agreed. “It’s inhumanly cold, but… it’s nice.”

“High praise,” Pavel sighed.

“Russia gave me you, so I have to give it some credit,” Sulu responded, pressing a gentle kiss to Pavel’s forehead. Pavel’s cheeks reddened, and Sulu was sure it wasn’t because of the cold.

After several hours of walking through the snowy streets, the Chekovs and Sulu had dinner before Alexei and Olga dropped the boys off at the shuttle station. Olga swept both boys up into tight hugs, kissing their cheeks.

“Pavel, you vill call as often as you can?” she asked her son.

“Da, Mama, of course,” Pavel promised, hugging her tightly.

“Take care of each ozzer,” she said as she looked at the pair.

Alexei hugged his son and murmured something in Russian, then looked down at Sulu. “You vill come to see us vhen you are back?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, if you and your wife will have me,” Sulu said, reaching out to shake his hand. To his surprise, Alexei hugged him as well.

“Good. You vill alvays be velcome,” the large man said gruffly.

After a few more goodbyes and hugs were exchanged, Pavel finally insisted that they needed to leave. Finally released, Sulu and Pavel found seats together and waited for the shuttle to depart.

“I’m surprised you even want to leave this,” Sulu admitted after a moment. “Your parents are really great, in case you haven’t noticed.”

Pavel looked startled, then pleased. “I am glad you tink so. Sometimes I… I do not know vhat to tink of dem.”

“What do you mean?”

Pavel shook his head. “Sometimes zey are so happy and so in lowe vit each ozzer. And vhen zey are happy, zey vant me to be as happy as zey are.” Pavel paused, his fingers playing nervously with a button on his coat. “Dat is part of vhy I did not come home… after Nero.”

Sulu paused at the detour in topic. “Pav…” he began, but the shuttle gave a shuddering groan as it prepared to depart.

“Later,” Pavel murmured, threading their fingers together.

Sulu quickly brought their clasped hands to his lips, barely touching his lips to Pavel’s knuckles. He could wait.

~*~*~*~

Pavel Chekov took a deep breath as he crossed the threshold back into their shared apartment. As much as he loved his parents, it was nice to walk into a space that was completely theirs. Even on the Enterprise, they had their shared quarters where they were (mostly) guaranteed privacy. His parents had respected their need for space, but it was still different.

But now Chekov had to talk with Hikaru about something that he’d never talked about with anyone before. And even though he knew that Hikaru had a troubled family history, the idea of talking about his own family drama made Chekov shudder uncomfortably. He’d made up his mind to talk to Hikaru though, and he wasn’t going to shirk from that. Hikaru had opened up about his difficult childhood and his struggles with relationships, and Chekov was not going to hide his own skeletons away any longer.

Hikaru tossed their bags onto the floor near the closet before shrugging off his heavy coat and sweater. San Francisco was still cool, but nowhere near as bone-chilling as Russia. Chekov slowly shed his clothes as well, keeping half an eye on his boyfriend. Once Hikaru had stripped down to his boxer briefs and undershirt, he collapsed onto their bed. It would be the middle of the night in Russia, and they were both feeling jetlagged, so Chekov stripped down to similar attire and curled up with his head on Hikaru’s chest. Hikaru immediately wrapped one arm loosely around Chekov, fingers playing with Chekov’s curls. He didn’t say a word, letting Chekov decide if he wanted to resume their conversation before their shuttle’s departure.

“You did not ask vhere my parents vent dat day… Ze one ve spent outside,” Chekov said at last. He felt Hikaru’s shrug underneath him.

“You would have told me if it was something I needed to know.”

It was Chekov’s turn to shrug. “Dey go to couple’s therapy. Dis vas some kind of… retreat, I tink.”

Hikaru didn’t say anything, knowing that Chekov would keep talking if he wanted to.

“Dey almost got a diworce,” Chekov said at last. “Vhen I vas getting ready to leawe for Starfleet. I vas not sure eef dey vould still be togezzer next time I came home.” He fixed his eyes firmly on the wall across from their bed, trying not to let himself think about the screaming and tears.

“They seem pretty happy now,” Hikaru said cautiously.

“Therapy is vorking vell,” Chekov agreed. “It took a long time before I realized just how unhappy dey had been. Dey fought a lot vhen I vas a kid, but I did not pay much attention. Papa took many trips, and Mama did not like dat.”

“Well, they’re obviously proof that therapy can work for couples if they’re both willing to try,” Hikaru said.

“I vas not sure if dey vould, but I vas glad dey vere villing to try,” Chekov reiterated. “Eef anyone could understand vhat it vas like, I tink it vould be you.” He paused, gathering himself. “Mama had an affair. Just a couple months before I left for Starfleet. Papa found out, of course.”

Hikaru didn’t say anything. Chekov felt the hitch in his breathing, knew that Hikaru was trying to reconcile the happy and affectionate couple he’d spent the past two weeks with and the new information that Chekov had just provided.

“I vould call dem vhile I vas in Starfleet,” Chekov continued. “At first, I vould only call one or ze ozzer. Dey vould tell me about therapy. Den dey vere able to talk to me togezzer. It… Dey vere so happy. I had not seen dem so happy in such a long time. And dey vould say tings to me, dat dey vanted me to find dis same happiness for myself.”

Hikaru’s fingers stilled in Chekov’s hair. He was an intelligent man, and he clearly knew that they were close to the real reason that Chekov had started this conversation beyond the simple “airing dark family history” thing that apparently people did in committed relationships.

Chekov tilted his head back so that he could look up at Hikaru as he spoke. “I tink all dis is vhy I did not vant to go back… Dey had had so many problems, and dey had finally found some happiness… And I did not vant to bring my harsh reality back to dem. Vhen… vit Nero… Dey vould haff supported me, obwiously, and dey vould haff done anyting dat I asked. And I could not come back. Not den. Vit ze marriage so fragile… I vould haff hurt zem so much, maybe broken zem. I could not do it…”

Hikaru sucked in a harsh breath. “They would have wanted to know, Pav. I… They clearly love you. And they would have found a way to make it work.”

Chekov sighed. “I know. I tink… Nyet. I do not know vhat I vould do today. Maybe now, after seeing dem togezzer, I tink… I tink dey could handle it. But back zen… I do not know. And if dey had stated to fight again… because of me, because of vhat I vas feeling… ‘Karu, I do not tink I could haff handled that. Maybe… maybe it vould haff all ended in ze same vay.”

Hikaru seemed to be unable to speak, so he just tightened his hold on Chekov. The Russian could have sworn that his boyfriend’s hands were shaking, but it was hard to tell. After a moment, Hikaru cleared his throat. “Your parents would have been pretty upset if you hadn’t come back to them at all, you know.”

“Dey vould not haff been happy if I had died at home,” Chekov protested. Seeing the stricken look on Hikaru’s face, Chekov wrapped his arms around his boyfriend’s middle. “It does not matter anymore. Ve cannot change ze past. And it is a good ting dat I haff you.” He gently pressed his lips to Hikaru’s neck. Hikaru tilted his head to kiss the top of Chekov’s head.

“Just… You know you’re not alone, right? You’ve never been alone,” he added hastily, evidently thinking he’d implied something he shouldn’t have. “But… You have people who love you, Pav, and if you start to feel overwhelmed or hopeless again…”

“I haff you, I know,” Chekov answered, his lips brushing against the warm skin of Hikaru’s neck as he spoke. “I cannot promise dat I vill newer haff feelings like dat, but…”

“I don’t expect you to,” Hikaru assured him hastily. “You can’t control those deep feelings, those kinds of emotions, believe me, I get that…”

“But I know dat you are here,” Chekov promised. “You vill alvays be here, ewen eef ve are not dating.”

Hikaru exhaled, and Chekov could almost feel the small smile he knew was directed at him. “Yeah. Always.” He pressed another kiss to Chekov’s curls, and they fell asleep curled up against each other.

~*~*~

Less than a week after they returned from Russia, Kirk was cleared to take his captaincy again, and soon Hikaru Sulu found himself in a dress uniform, joining his fellow officers in a line as their ship was cleared for launch again. Someone had decided that Kirk giving a speech was a great plan, but he was actually carrying himself in a manner that was properly reflective of his rank.

“There will always be those who mean to do us harm,” Kirk said from the podium. “To stop them, we risk awakening the same evil within ourselves. Our first instinct is to seek revenge when those we love are taken from us. But that’s not who we are.”

Sulu’s hand clenched around Pavel’s. He still felt a chill whenever he thought of his boyfriend being taken from him, but Pavel was right. They couldn’t dwell on the possibility that one or both of them might never come home. They needed to live. Their fingers interlocked, and Pavel squeezed back, a tiny smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

Stepping on the bridge that afternoon was like coming home. Sulu exhaled in relief, and he heard Pavel do the same next to him. Nyota was already at her station, and she nodded at them as they sat down in perfect unison.

“You boys ready for this?” she asked.

“As we’ll ever be,” Sulu said. He grinned as he watched her long fingers tap out an uneven rhythm against her console. “No need to ask if you’re excited,” he added.

Nyota’s perfect white teeth flashed at him. “Of course I’m excited. Five years. The longest mission ever attempted by a ship like ours. Don’t you love being a trailblazer?”

Pavel snorted. “At least ve vill not be called to sawe ze vorld again.”

“That’s what you think,” Nyota laughed.

Pavel looked like he was about to retort, but the soft swish of the elevator doors distracted him, his head turning towards them. “Keptin on ze bridge!” he exclaimed, unable to keep the glee from his voice.

Sulu couldn’t help but cast a longing glance at the captain’s chair. He wasn’t sure that he relished command the way Kirk seemed to. But there had been something intoxicating about having that much power. Occasionally he dreamed of the echo of his own voice, the stunned expressions of the rest of the crew. Most people didn’t expect that from him, and Sulu did live to defy expectations.

“It’s hard to get out of it once you’ve had a taste, isn’t that right, Mr. Sulu?” Kirk said as he approached the chair. He had a smile on his face though, fondness both for his place of command, and for his loyal officers.

Sulu smiled back at his captain. “Captain does have a nice ring to it. Chair’s all yours, Captain.”

Kirk gave him a nod, acknowledging the message contained in those two sentences. He checked in with Scotty and spoke to Bones and some of the other crew members, taking care of last-minute details before take-off.

Pavel leaned into Sulu’s space, his breath tickling the shell of Sulu’s ear. “Ready for another adwenture?”

“With you on my right?” Sulu whispered back. He glanced over Pavel’s shoulder, seeing Spock taking his place at Kirk’s right shoulder. The half-Vulcan commander gave the pilot a tiny nod. “I’m ready for anything the universe throws at us,” Sulu finished, his lips ghosting across Pavel’s cheek.

Kirk finished speaking to another crew member and turned to look at Spock. “Where should we go?” he inquired.

Spock’s expression would have been considered almost a smile if he weren’t part Vulcan. “As a mission of this duration has never been attempted, I defer to your good judgment, Captain.”

Kirk’s grin would have outshone the sun. “Mr. Sulu, take us out!”

Sulu took a deep breath, anticipation thrumming through his veins. “Aye, Captain.” And he engaged warp drive, sending them rocketing off to their next big adventure.

~*~*~*~

Pavel Chekov checked their coordinates once more. Assuming nothing happened to delay them or change their course, they’d be within hailing distance of Starbase Earhart in an hour. And then it would be less than forty minutes before Miko, Andy, and their baby would be teleported down the surface to await a shuttle that would carry them the rest of the way to Yorktown. He glanced over at the pilot’s chair, but Hikaru was down in their quarters, having been granted leave by Kirk to spend a few more hours with his family.

Chekov fidgeted in his seat. It had been strange to live in such close quarters with Hikaru’s family for the last three months, but he was going to miss them. Miko was sweet and affectionate towards the pair, unable to contain her joy at her brother’s good fortune at finding such a loving boyfriend. Andy and Hikaru still danced around each other with some wariness, but Chekov had been pleased to see an obvious lowering of hackles as time went on. And Kaylah… Chekov couldn’t help but smile when he thought of the baby and the way Hikaru was obviously enchanted with his little niece. Hikaru had already extracted dozens of promises from Miko that she would call them often so that Hikaru had a chance to watch the little one hit important milestones.

Feeling a presence behind his shoulder, Chekov let out a slow breath, trying to make himself appear relaxed. He watched the screen in front of him for another beat before turning around to see Spock standing over him.

“You are relieved for the day, Ensign,” Spock said in one of his best no-nonsense tones.

Chekov knew he must look startled, his eyes widening at the outrageous statement. “Kommander…” he began.

“I am well aware that you have another 86.4 minutes left of your shift, Ensign Chekov, but your incessant… fidgeting… is rather… distracting.” Spock spat the words out as though they were mildly distasteful. “The beta shift navigator has just arrived, so you are dismissed.”

Chekov stood up slowly, trying to figure out if he was in trouble. Spock’s expression was as inscrutable as ever, but he could see that Kirk’s head was turned away, his fist pressed to his mouth and cheeks pink with suppressed laughter. Keeping his expression appropriately neutral, he nodded to Spock. “Da, sir. Thank you, sir,” he said.

Spock gave him a slight nod before retreating to his own station. Kirk winked, and Chekov grinned back before hurrying over to the lift. He had to fight with himself not to run (though it would hardly be the first time the Enterprise crew would have seen him running through the ship), and eventually he made it back to the quarters he shared with Hikaru. He gave the access code and walked in.

Hikaru was sitting on their bed, a squirming Kaylah in his arms. Miko and Andy were nowhere to be seen, though Chekov was pretty sure he could hear them finishing their packing in the next room.

“Dey vill miss ze free babysitting,” Chekov said as he walked over to perch on the edge of their bed.

Hikaru’s grin widened and he sat up to give Chekov a kiss. “You’re back early,” he said happily.

“Da, I tink I vas annoying Meester Spock,” Chekov responded gleefully. He reached out, and was delighted when Kaylah grasped his finger in her tiny hand.

“I’m glad,” Hikaru replied. “You deserve to be here.” He adjusted his grip on Kaylah as she tried to lean further out of his arms. “Do you want to hold her?”

“Absolutely not, I vill not crack her head open right before she is supposed to leawe us!” Chekov yelped, nearly pulling back in a panic, but not doing so because it would have required taking his finger back from Kaylah. Even though he’d spent many hours over the last couple of months in the company of Hikaru’s family, he couldn’t shake the paranoia that something would go drastically wrong if he laid more than a hand on the baby.

“Pavel, we trust you not to drop her,” Miko said with a laugh as she walked in from the shared bathroom. “It’s really okay, you’re practically her uncle too.”

Chekov shook his head. “I haff no experience vith babies.”

“Practice makes perfect, or so Miko keeps telling me,” Andy said ruefully.

Hikaru laughed. “Come on, Pav, what makes you think any of us knew anything about babies before Kaylah came along?”

Chekov was ready to continue arguing, but Miko shoved his shoulder, clearly intending for him to sit next to Hikaru. Hoping his hands weren’t shaking too much, Chekov hesitantly reached out. Hikaru placed her gently in his arms, not moving away until Chekov gave him the nod that he did, in fact, have her safely in his grasp.

It made him a little dizzy, holding such a small, fragile human in his arms. Kaylah had stopped squirming around, seeming to sense that Chekov was nervous enough as it was. As his heart rate slowed a little after a few seconds without any sort of disaster, Chekov couldn’t help but marvel at how it felt to hold a baby that was depending completely on him to protect her and not drop her. He thought he might even understand why people said parents should hold their babies often to bond with them. Kaylah blinked up at him, and Chekov found himself grinning.

Hikaru wrapped his arm around Chekov’s shoulder. “See? Not so bad, right?”

“Not so bad,” Chekov agreed, leaning into Hikaru’s hold just a little.

“Rina is going to flip,” Miko muttered, and Chekov realized that she was taking pictures as fast as she possibly could. “Also, it’s kind of sickening how cute you two are with a baby, have you ever thought about becoming parents?”

Chekov’s eyes widened. Hikaru leaned forward, frowning at his sister. “Just because you and Andy jumped into this, doesn’t mean we’re going to, but thanks,” he said, sticking his tongue out at his sister.

Miko kicked his shin lightly. “Fine, spoil all my fun, but you know I’m going to be waiting for that announcement.”

“Luckily for us, we have to do a lot more prep work before we can start having kids,” Hikaru snarked back. Andy snorted and Miko rolled her eyes. Chekov ducked his head, both to hide his amusement, and to hide his confusion about the sudden conversation shift to a potential future for the two of them.

All too soon, Chekov handed Kaylah back over to her mother, and then joined them at the transporter that was sending the little family down to Starbase Earhart.

“We’ll be busy traveling, but I’ll call you once we reach Yorktown for sure,” Miko promised, kissing Hikaru’s cheek. “I’ll try to call as often as I can before then, but you know how things can be.”

“Yeah, I know,” Hikaru agreed. “Be safe, okay?” He hugged his sister tightly, then kissed Kaylah’s forehead. Andy reached his hand out to shake and Hikaru took it, using it to pull the other man into a brotherly embrace. “Take care of my girls, I’m trusting you with this,” he said sternly.

“You know I will, they’re my girls too,” Andy said, shooting a sappy look at Miko. Miko laughed, embraced Chekov warmly, then moved to take her place on the transporter. Andy followed, they waved, and then they were gone.

Hikaru’s shoulders slumped a little as he stared at the empty space, but he turned almost immediately to head back to their quarters, and Chekov followed. They went straight back to their shared room, leaving Chekov’s room empty for the time being.

“It feels weird knowing they’re gone,” Hikaru admitted once they’d settled in bed, Chekov pillowing his head on Hikaru’s chest as usual. “I haven’t even lived with Miko in years before this trip, but…”

“You got used to it,” Chekov said, understanding perfectly well what his boyfriend was talking about.

“Yeah,” Hikaru muttered. Then he sighed. “They’ll be happy at Yorktown. And we have a mission to complete. Five years.”

“A long time,” Chekov agreed, letting his eyes drift closed as Hikaru petted his curls.

“We should talk some time about what we want to do when this mission is over,” Hikaru said quietly.

“Go on anozzer mission?” Chekov suggested, though he felt a shiver run up his spine at the thought of what Hikaru might actually mean.

“Well, that too,” Hikaru agreed. “Anywhere the Enterprise goes, I’m sure we’ll follow. But…”

"Ve can talk about us some ozzer time,” Chekov said, closing his eyes against the maelstrom of emotions that were swirling through him. “For right now, dis is enough.”

“For now,” Hikaru agreed.

Chekov wondered what that meant.

Chapter Text

Hikaru Sulu gazed down at the latest picture of Kaylah that Miko had sent him. The little girl was three already, and was smiling brilliantly at the camera. He couldn’t wait to see her again in just a few short hours.

Pavel Chekov was sitting at his station, charting their progress to Yorktown. He glanced up and caught Sulu’s eye, his grin matching Sulu’s excitement.

“Not much longer,” the young Russian whispered.

“I can’t wait,” Sulu whispered back. “I’ve heard Yorktown is amazing.”

Pavel nodded, turning his attention back to his screen. Knowing that he’d alert Sulu if anything untoward was about to happen to their ship, Sulu let his attention wander a little, thinking of Miko’s last message. She would be working when they arrived at Yorktown, but Ben and Kaylah would meet them.

Their relief officers arrived, and Sulu and Pavel headed back to their room, having decided to eat in and catch a few hours of sleep before returning to the bridge to guide the Enterprise into Yorktown. Pavel was grinning as he sprawled on the couch and waited for Sulu to join him.

“What’s got you in such a good mood?” Sulu asked.

“You remember dat bottle of Jack Daniels I bought at ze trading post?” Pavel asked in return.

Sulu nodded. He’d wondered why Pavel had even bothered, the Russian always stayed true to his heritage and drank vodka like it was water. Jack Daniels was out of character for him.

Pavel dropped his voice, even though they were obviously alone in their quarters. “I know dat Doktor McCoy looks in my locker sometimes. I left it in dere for him.”

Sulu blinked. “Why?”

“He vill share vith Keptin.”

“Okay… Again, why?” Sulu asked.

Pavel rolled his eyes heavenward. “It ees almost Keptin’s birthday, ‘Karu.”

Sulu sat up straighter. “It is? Why hasn’t anyone said anything about it?”

Pavel gave him an exasperated look. “Because Keptin does not like to celebrate his birthday.”

It took only a moment for Sulu to remember why. “Right… Okay, yes, that makes sense, the death of his father would put a damper on any festive feelings, I guess. So… this was your way of buying him a birthday present? Wait, how did you even know?”

“You answer your own question, ‘Karu. Eef Keptin’s birthday is ze same day as his father’s death…”

“Got it,” Sulu said, feeling a bit silly for not making the connection sooner. Though he felt a bit less ridiculous when he realized that he was obviously far from the only one to have missed something so obvious if Kirk had kept his upcoming birthday under wraps for so long. He sat down next to Pavel, and was quickly buried under the weight of his boyfriend, who had apparently decided that Sulu was more comfortable than the couch cushions. Sulu quickly sat their plates on the side table before burying one hand in Pavel’s curls and kissing him. Pavel kissed back hungrily, and they spent several minutes pleasantly entwined, though neither of them moved to remove clothes or take their activities any further.

Sulu thought about all the things he wanted to talk with Pavel about. Even though they’d been on this mission for close to three years, somehow they’d never managed to have a conversation about where their relationship was going. Miko had put the bug in Sulu’s brain about that, asking if they’d thought of settling down, having children, etc. And despite his initial reluctance to pursue the relationship with Pavel in the first place despite his obvious attraction to the younger man, Sulu was beginning to wonder if maybe this was the sort of lasting relationship that really did lead to marriage and children and all that stuff. Or at the very least, if they wanted to pledge to be together, side by side as they roamed the galaxy for the rest of their lives. Like Kirk and Spock, Sulu thought ruefully. And that was a slightly terrifying thought, so he shoved it away.

But Pavel didn’t seem to want to have this conversation. He got skittish whenever Sulu tried to turn the conversation to the somewhat serious topic, usually finding an excuse to either leave the room or get Sulu out of his clothes, and Sulu had finally stopped trying to bring it up. He wasn’t sure why Pavel was the one dragging his feet now, after he’d fought tooth and nail to get into the relationship in the first place. It was something else to talk about, if the younger man would just let them talk!

Pavel pulled back from their kiss, his hazel eyes shining with happiness, and Sulu didn’t have the heart to wipe that look from his face by trying to have a serious conversation, so he just pointed to the food with a questioning look on his face. Pavel nodded, and they queued up a movie on Sulu’s PADD, cuddling together quite happily for the rest of the evening.

After they finished, Pavel got rid of the plates and came back to straddle Sulu’s hips and kiss him breathless before they moved to the bed. Sulu stretched Pavel out on the bed underneath him, fucking him into the mattress and holding him through both their orgasms. It was every bit as fulfilling as every other time they’d had sex, and Sulu had long since lost count of how many times that had happened. And sometimes their level of commitment to each other scared the heck out of him, but sometimes it made him want more. Holding Pavel close and listening to his low, even breathing, Sulu pressed his lips into Pavel’s shoulder blade and decided that he needed to man up and have a proper conversation with his boyfriend. Maybe after they left Yorktown.

After they napped for a few hours, the pair returned to their usual seats on the bridge so that Sulu could guide the ship up to Yorktown. As they fell out of warp and slowly approached the man-made base, Sulu heard Pavel let out a low whistle.

“Dat is impressiwe,” the navigator said quietly.

“Aye, she’s a beauty, isn’t she?” Scotty agreed, leaning against Pavel’s console and admiring the engineering marvel in front of them. Sulu had been a little surprised he’d ventured up from the bowels of engineering, but now it did make complete sense that Scotty would want a front-row seat to their approach to Yorktown.

“What a damn monstrosity,” Dr. McCoy could be heard muttering, but Sulu rather agreed with Pavel and Scotty. The base was a thing of beauty, a crystalline monument to the engineering feats of Starfleet. And his sister lived there with her daughter and boyfriend. For a moment, he thought they were really lucky to be able to live there, but then he reminded himself that what he really enjoyed was serving in Starfleet, getting to travel to new and exciting planets, never staying in one place… and with Pavel right there beside him for the whole adventure.

“Looks like a damn snow globe in space, just waitin’ to break!” McCoy snapped in response to something Spock had said, and Sulu glanced over to see Pavel casting a disbelieving eye back towards the good doctor.

They docked almost an hour later, and it seemed like the entire ship was disembarking. After so long in space, with only the occasional stop at trading posts, it was refreshing to have a chance at proper shore leave, and everyone was excited. Pavel had slowed for a moment to speak with some of the people from the science department, but Sulu didn’t want to wait. He was one of the first ones to enter the bright open spaces of Yorktown, and he spotted Andy and Kaylah almost immediately. He walked over as quickly as he could, and Kaylah uttered an excited shriek, breaking away from her father and throwing herself into her uncle’s arms. Sulu hugged her tightly, giving her several kisses as she laughed, then held her close as he stood up, giving Andy a quick one-armed hug.

“It’s good to see you,” Andy said. “Miko’s sorry she couldn’t be here, but…”

“She’s working, of course,” Sulu laughed. “It’s okay, I’m not at all surprised. And she’ll be along later, so it’s fine.”

“Where’s Pavel?” Andy asked, his eyes scanning the scattering crewmembers.

Sulu turned around to look, and he saw his boyfriend weaving through the crowd. He seemed to almost deliberately be taking a longer route, and Sulu had to roll his eyes. He was certain that Pavel had wanted to give him a private moment with his family, which was sweet, but Sulu’s family wasn’t complete unless Pavel was by his side as well.

“Sorry, sorry,” Pavel apologized when he reached them. Kaylah squirmed in Sulu’s arms to pat his curls, making Andy and Sulu laugh. Then they started walking through Yorktown, Sulu still holding his niece close. Although small ships darted about in the open air, and a looping monorail traced the lines of buildings, their destination was close enough to walk to.

“This place is amazing,” he said as they walked, trying to watch the people around them while also staring up at the brilliant glass and chrome structures that made up the starbase. Buildings and trees and water features clung to looping arches that seemed to spiral in all directions to fill the spherical structure, everything held tightly in place by some truly ferocious artificial gravity. Although it was dizzying to look up and see all the different angles people were walking, it felt completely natural to walk if one was facing straight ahead. It was a strange effect that made Sulu’s stomach swoop pleasantly.

“Miko and I were a bit overwhelmed when we got here too,” Andy told him as he led the way into one of the buildings. “It sort of makes me excited to take Kaylah back to Earth someday. She won’t know what to make of it.”

“She vill be most surprised by ze veather, and by ze plants and animals,” Pavel said, taking an extra moment to admire a water feature that seemed to cut through the entire city. The water was still and clear and looked very shallow, but looks could be deceiving, and Sulu wondered how deep the water truly ran in some places.

“We show her picture books and vids about Earth, but I’m not sure she truly believes that everything that we show her is actually real,” Andy admitted as he led them to a glass elevator. Everything on the starbase seemed to be made of glass, chrome, or some sort of gleaming white rock. It made the entire base look almost unreal, like something a science fiction writer would dream up.

Arriving at the apartment, Andy bade them to make themselves comfortable while he made dinner, so Sulu and Pavel played with Kaylah, acting out some of their tamer adventures with her dolls and making her laugh. That was how Miko found them when she breezed in.

“I actually got out of court on time today, it’s practically a miracle,” she exclaimed. “Oh, aren’t you two just darling, playing with my girl like that,” she added when she saw the trio sitting on the floor.

“Mommy!” Kaylah squealed, leaping up and running over to her mother. “Uncle Karu and Uncle Pavel were telling me about how they had to play a game against the Andorians or they were going to take Mr. Kirk away and make him stay on their planet forever. And Miss Uhura scored the winning goal because she’s awesome!”

“Is that so?” Miko said, looking skeptically at her brother.

“It’s an edited version,” Sulu admitted. “Although it is true that Nyota’s the entire reason that we won, it really was a sporting event. Just… not the kind you normally tell a kid about,” he added sheepishly.

“Eet vas not my idea to tell dis story,” Pavel said quickly, throwing up his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“Traitor,” Sulu hissed under his breath as Miko turned the full force of her glare on him.

“Hikaru Sulu, if I ever catch you telling my daughter some inappropriate story…” she began.

“Dinner’s ready,” Andy piped up, completely cutting off the brewing argument. Sulu wondered for just a moment if that had been on purpose, then decided that it was better not to know.

They passed a pleasant evening together, and Miko insisted that her brother and his boyfriend take the guest bedroom, which had already been made up in anticipation of their arrival. They fell into an exhausted sleep, only to be woken up by simultaneous beeps from their communicators. Sulu got to his first.

“We’re all being summoned back to the Enterprise,” Nyota said without preamble as soon as the call was connected.

“We just got here,” Sulu argued, already sitting up and looking for his clothes.

Nyota took a moment to study his bare physique before continuing. “I don’t have complete details yet, but I imagine we’ll be briefed as soon as we leave Yorktown. All I know is that apparently a ship is stranded out past some unstable nebula, and we’re supposed to find it and rescue the crew.”

“Sounds easy enough,” Sulu agreed, sitting the communicator down on the nightstand so he could start pulling on clothes. “What’s the catch?”

“What makes you think there’s a catch?” Nyota asked, lifting one perfectly-sculpted eyebrow.

“Do not be ridiculous, Nyota,” Pavel piped up, having already dressed and now peering around Sulu’s shoulder to look at their friend. “Dere is alvays a catch.”

“We’ll find out,” Nyota said crisply. “Get a move on, the sooner we head out, the sooner we can get back here to continue our shore leave.”

“Say no more, we’re on our way,” Sulu said, snapping the communicator shut. He went to say goodbye to Andy and Miko, hoping that she was right.

~*~*~*~

Pavel Chekov was pretty much always proud to serve aboard the Enterprise, but he was especially proud this morning as he and Hikaru walked up to ship and noticed the rest of the crew filing in. Despite the fact that they’d only had a few short hours of shore leave, and several crew members were visibly disheveled or hungover, there wasn’t a single noise of complaint. They’d been summoned back by the captain they all respected, and they were prepared to do their duty.

Arriving on the bridge, Chekov took his seat at his station next to Sulu, and they all waited for Kirk to begin the briefing. When Kirk asked Uhura to open a ship-wide channel, Chekov sat up a little straighter.

“Our mission is straightforward: rescue a crew stranded in uncharted space. Our trajectory will take us past an unstable nebula, one which will disable all communications with Starfleet.” Kirk paused, then added, “We’re gonna be on our own.”

Chekov glanced over at Hikaru, and they exchanged tired looks. Hikaru’s expression plainly said, “there’s always a catch,” and Chekov was sure his own face mirrored the same sentiment.

As Kirk continued talking, praising the crew for their diligence and excellence, Chekov charted the course while Hikaru piloted the ship. Chekov also took a moment to study the unfamiliar alien that was standing on the bridge with them. Through her brief conversation through the universal translator with Spock, Chekov learned that her name was Kalara, and she was the leader of the scientific expedition that had become stranded in the nebula.

As they flew past the nebula, Chekov couldn’t help the shiver that made its way down his spine. Lights not dissimilar to lightning flashed around them, and rocks that were even larger than their massive ship floated lazily past. He felt his fingers clench at the console when he saw two of those massive rocks floating towards them, but when he glanced at Hikaru, the other man’s expression was perfectly calm, only the smallest wrinkle between his eyebrows to show how hard he was concentrating on flying their ship. He ducked the ship between the two massive rocks, and they all heard the low thundering rumble as the rocks collided behind them. The Enterprise rocked slightly under the pressure from the shockwave, but Hikaru didn’t even twitch, just kept piloting them forward.

The entire bridge had gone silent shortly after they’d entered the field around the nebula. Something about the eerie flashes of light illuminating the giant ship-crushing rocks left everyone feeling a little intimidated. But the rocks were gradually becoming smaller, and farther apart. Chekov checked the monitors to confirm what his own eyes were already telling him.

“Readings indicate cloud density diminishing, sir,” he said, loudly enough that Kirk would have no trouble hearing him. He saw Hikaru nod in acknowledgement as well, knowing that his job was gradually getting easier. And then they saw the planet.

“Altamid is a Class M planet,” Spock said, already deeply engrossed in his own console, taking readings from the planet even as they slowly approached. “Massive subterranean development, but little to no life forms on the planet’s surface.”

Chekov’s screen lit up, a soft red warning. Frowning briefly at it, he turned back to Kirk. “Proximity alert, sir, ve haff an unknown ship heading right for us.”

Kirk frowned as well, knowing as well as the rest of them that the only ship that was supposed to be in the area was supposedly stranded on the surface of the planet below. “Lieutenant Uhura, hail them.”

“Yes, captain.” After a moment, the woman shook her head. “No response, but I am picking up some kind of signal…” She frowned, head cocked as she listened, then she spun around, her eyes wide. “They’re jamming us!”

Kirk straightened in his seat, this showed signs of being a hostile action. “Magnify, Mr. Sulu.”

Hikaru’s hand flew across his console, and they all watched as the indistinct dark image in their front window began to sharpen. It was a massive vessel that easily dwarfed their own ship. And yet, it seemed to flow like water, and Chekov realized with a jolt that it actually appeared to be hundreds and hundreds of tiny ships, not much bigger than their own escape pods, all moving as one giant swarm.

“What is this?” Kirk demanded, tearing his eyes from the screen and staring directly at Kalara. When the female alien didn’t answer, Kirk shouted, “Shields up!” And when the other ships fired at them, Kirk directed them to return fire.

Chekov checked his screens for damage reports, and shook his head in dismay. “Sir, our phasers are hawing minimal effect, and our torpedoes cannot track ze mowement.”

Kirk shook his head. “Fire everything we’ve got.”

Spock had moved from his console to stand closer to the captain’s chair. “We are not equipped for this type of engagement.”

Kirk gave him a look that plainly suggested that he was aware of that, but what choice did they have as they were being fired upon?

“Shield frequencies hawe no effect!” Chekov exclaimed as his screen sent up another alert.

Next to him, Hikaru swore. “They took out the disc! Our shields are inoperable!”

Kirk hated running from a fight, they all knew that. But their captain stared stone-faced out at the attacking ships. “Warp us out of here, Mr. Sulu.” Even Kirk knew when it was better to run.

Hikaru sighed, and Chekov could hear just the faintest touch of relief in his voice. “Yes, sir.” He slammed down on the shifter, and Chekov braced for the familiar rush of warp. Except nothing happened.

“Why the hell aren’t we moving?” Kirk exclaimed as the ship was rocked by another wave of enemy fire.

“I can’t engage the warp drive, sir,” Hikaru responded, slamming the shifter again and again in the vain hope that something would suddenly click into place.

“Scotty, I need warp now!” Kirk shouted into his communicator.

Faintly, Chekov could hear Scotty’s shouted reply. “I cannae, Sir, they’re… they’re gone!”

Chekov looked up, horror-struck by the implication. He looked over at Hikaru, only to see the other man sitting unnaturally still, eyes still fixed on his hand clenched around the shifter. With a visible effort, Hikaru lifted his head to stare out the front window at the incoming ships. Behind them, Chekov was vaguely aware that Spock and McCoy were getting into the lift.

No sooner had the doctor and commander vanished down the lift, then the ship was rocked with multiple impacts, far stronger than the impacts from the enemy weapons. The blows were so powerful that Chekov nearly fell out of his chair, but he grabbed the console tightly with one hand, the fingers of his free hand flying across keys as he hurried to access a damage report.

“I haff hull breaches in lewels tvelwe trough fifteen… Six, nine, tirty-one, and tventy-one, sir!” he exclaimed, still frantically typing as he tried to see exactly how bad the damage was. It was extensive, that much was obvious. Just the sheer number of breaches had damaged the ship tremendously. He dimly heard Scotty’s voice through Kirk’s communicator, shouting something about redirecting power to the impulse engines.

“I’m evacuating the crew,” Kirk said. “Do what you have to do, Scotty.”

Chekov went still. Surely they wouldn’t… He looked over at Hikaru, but the other man was still staring resolutely out the front window. If Hikaru was frightened by the turn of events, he wasn’t letting it show. The ship shook again under another series of impacts, and an alarm started to blare, the red warning light flashing above them just in case somehow the crew had missed that they were in some serious trouble.

Kirk’s communicator sparked to life once again, and this time it was Spock’s voice crackling faintly. Chekov strained to hear over the piercing whine of the alarm, and he thought he heard Spock say something about an artifact from their most recent failed diplomatic mission. Hikaru looked up sharply at the sound of phasers being fired over the speaker. He tensed, looking ready to leap to his feet and run off to help Spock. But he stilled again, obviously knowing that he would be more useful piloting the ship away once Scotty finished diverting power to the impulse engines.

Kirk stood up from the captain’s chair, walking to stand between Chekov and Hikaru, leaning in towards the speaker between their console, trying to hear Spock better. “Spock? Spock!” he shouted, growing just a little more frantic with each call. Chekov leaned in to try to hear Spock’s response, and he saw Hikaru do the same. Their eyes met and both sat back up quickly before Kirk saw them. It wouldn’t do to let the captain see that they were nervous about the situation.

Kirk straightened up, clearly vexed that he couldn’t get Spock to respond to him. He gestured to two nearby security members. “You two, with me. Sulu, you have the con.”

“Yes, sir,” Hikaru said, immediately standing up. He moved to sit in the captain’s chair, his face taking on a ferociously determined expression. It practically screamed of command, and Chekov took just a moment to appreciate the little display of awesomeness. He hadn’t been able to see Hikaru’s commanding presence in person the last time he’d taken the con. But Chekov quickly focused again as the ship rocked once more. There was a loud rumbling sound, and then the ship tilted dramatically.

“Yes!” Chekov exclaimed, a rush of relief slamming through him. “Ve haff one hundred percent impulse!” he shouted, fingers flying over the console again.

“Great work, Mr. Scott!” Hikaru exclaimed, and Chekov was pretty sure he was the only one who heard the relief in his boyfriend’s voice. “Maximum impulse towards the nubela.”

“Aye!” Chekov exclaimed, frantically pressing several buttons. Next to him, the relief pilot was also working to direct the ship. He engaged the shift, and they began to move, a painful lurch that nearly sent Chekov flying, though he just managed to catch himself. There was a ferocious ripping sound, and they all felt the ship lurch and heard the groan of tearing metal. The ship lurched again, and they felt the engines whine as they began to lose power.

“Kirk to bridge!” Kirk’s tinny voice called over the speaker.

“Ve are loosing inertia dampeners!” Chekov exclaimed.

“Systems are failing ship-wide, Captain,” Sulu explained. “Emergency bulkheads are sealing, but structural integrity is at eighteen percent and falling, sir!”

There was a painful pause as Kirk digested what he’d been told. Then, “Abandon ship, Mr. Sulu.”

For a moment, Hikaru didn’t speak. His face was stricken, but then the shocked look fell away, replaced by the calm face of a man in charge. “Sound the alarm.”

Nyota hit a button, and Chekov pressed his fist to his mouth, biting back a sob. His brow furrowed as he tried to control his roiling emotions, he really thought he might cry at the thought of abandoning their beloved ship. He swallowed hard, blinking back tears, and forcing himself to focus.

“We need to give the pods a chance to escape. Can you lead those ships away?” Kirk was asking through the speaker.

“Impulse engines are still trying to draw power from the warp reserves. We cannot move it until the saucer is separated,” Hikaru answered him.

There was more silence, then Kirk said, “I’ll handle it.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Hikaru said softly.

For a few minutes, no one said much of anything, just tried to keep their balance as the ship continued to be rocked by powerful blows from weapons or from additional ships breaching their hull. Chekov didn’t want to think about what the casualties looked like down on the decks below. The bridge tilted harder, throwing most of the crew to the floor.

“Anyone who isn’t essential to piloting this ship, get to escape pods,” Hikaru commanded. Several bridge personnel began moving to the pods, only to be thrown to the floor once again. Nyota stopped to help one of the crew members to their feet, and then vanished down a hallway that Chekov knew didn’t lead to the pods, but Hikaru was leaning over his shoulder and he couldn’t focus on what Nyota was doing right now.

“The saucer should be free by now,” Hikaru said, his chest pressing briefly against Chekov’s shoulder.

“I know, Mr. Sulu, ze keptin should be dere!” Chekov said, his fingers flying over the console once again, searching for Kirk’s location, or for something that he could do to get this ship moving again.
They lurched, and Chekov realized that they were caught by Altamid’s gravitational pull. The hold wasn’t strong yet, but they were definitely drifting closer to the ominous planet.

“Ah! Impulse engines are draving pover from auxillary generator!” Chekov exclaimed. But before he had a chance to act on this, the bridge was filled with green light, and an explosion rocked the console in front of him. A surprised yell tore itself from his throat as he hit the floor, and he looked up to see unfamiliar soldiers filing in, weapons at the ready.

A furious Hikaru was already on his feet, looking ready for a fight, but then the soldiers fell to the floor as Kirk arrived, shooting each of them in back.

“Keptin!” Chekov exclaimed, pulling himself back into his seat. He couldn’t help but be relieved that Hikaru hadn’t had to fight these soldiers, they were obviously well-armed and very dangerous.

Hikaru turned for a moment, studying Kalara. Chekov realized that she had done practically nothing since the attack had begun, but she was the leader of a scientific expedition, so surely there was nothing odd about that. Hikaru sat at his normal station next to Chekov, a frown line etched deep between his eyes.

“How many of our crew are still aboard the saucer?” Kirk demanded, taking his seat again. He looked slightly wild-eyed at this point, completely understandable for a captain about to lose his ship.

“None,” Hikaru said softly, staring at the screen in front of him. “If I’m reading this correctly… the intruders are taking them.”

Everyone still present fell silent at the grim pronouncement. Chekov gulped, pulling himself upright. “Keptin, ve are caught in ze planet’s grawity. Ve cannot pull avay.” They were too far gone, and with their engines so badly drained… even in the best of circumstances, they would have had a hard time, but now… He looked helplessly at both Kirk and Hikaru. Then all three of them stared out the front window, watching the approaching planet.

Kirk swallowed heavily. “Get to your Kelvin pods.”

“Yes, sir,” Hikaru said quietly.

“Aye, keptin,” Chekov echoed.

Hikaru’s hand landed on Chekov’s shoulder, putting a bit of gentle pressure on it. “Come on, let’s go!” he said.

Chekov nodded, following after him. They both stopped for a moment at the door leading away from the bridge. Kirk was lingering at his chair, eyes still fixed on the planet they were approaching.

Hikaru squeezed Chekov’s shoulder until the younger man looked up at him. “Get Kalara and make sure the captain gets moving. I’ll take care of the rest of the crew. Okay?”

“Da, I vill,” Chekov agreed, looking up at his boyfriend.

“We’re going to be okay. See you on the surface,” Hikaru said, pressing his lips quickly to Chekov’s. Before the younger man had a chance to move or respond, Hikaru was already moving, herding the rest of the crew towards the escape pods.

Chekov shook himself, then hurried over to Kalara, who was crouched against a wall of the ship, looking overwhelmed by the turn of events. He bundled Kalara into a Kelvin pod and made sure it launched. He looked around and saw that Kirk was heading towards the last two pods, so he felt safe to jump into his own pod and launch.

They had already broken through Altamid’s atmosphere, and were plummeting towards craggy mountains and thick trees. Chekov took a deep breath as his pod flew through the air, and he gasped in alarm as the Enterprise struck the first of the mountains, sending rocks flying through the air. Luckily, all of them missed his pod, and then his parachute snapped out, slowing his descent. As Chekov looked down, he watched the landscape racing to meet him, and he closed his eyes, bracing himself for the crash.

Chapter Text

The impact left Pavel Chekov feeling more than a little rattled. Luckily, the Kelvin pod was a sturdy thing, and he was completely uninjured. Climbing out of the pod, Chekov took stock of his surroundings. The woodlands around him were quiet, no sounds of any sort of wildlife. Perhaps it had been frightened away by their falling ship. Taking a moment to be thankful that they were on a Class M planet, meaning breathable atmosphere, Chekov began taking stock of the contents of his pod.

The first thing he found was a survival suit, which he quickly put on over his uniform. No telling what sort of dangers lurked on this unknown planet, especially since he was on his own for the foreseeable future. He had no idea just yet where to even start looking for the rest of the crew, but he would handle that in a moment.

He found a communicator next, though he didn’t try to hail anyone just yet. He also found a tricorder, which would be useful for tracking down the rest of the crew as well. Relieved, he slipped these into various pockets of the survival suit. There were ration packs, a survival kit, and a phaser. Checking to make sure the phaser was in working order, Chekov breathed a sigh of relief. At least he could defend himself if he came across the hostile forces that surely would be combing the area for survivors. Before he could turn his attention to the rest of the kit, he heard a voice.

“Chekov?”

“Keptin Kirk!” he exclaimed. Making sure that he’d grabbed everything he could from the pod, Chekov hurried towards the sound of his captain’s voice. It made sense that they’d land close to each other, since they’d launched their Kelvin pods at almost the exact same time. He moved quickly, but carefully across the rough landscape, only to see Kirk with his phaser aimed directly at Kalara, who had also landed safely.

“You knew we’d be attacked!” Kirk said to the female alien, fury obvious in his taunt posture.

Kalara held up her hands in a gesture of surrender. Finally, she lowered her head a little. “Yes. I lied. Our ship was attacked too.”

Kirk practically snarled. “Chekov, check the comms for survivors.”

“Aye, keptin,” Chekov said shakily, glad for something else to do besides watch this confrontation. He sent out messages on all frequencies, but his ears were met with nothing but static and silence.

“Chekov, are you picking anything up on those scanners?” Kirk asked after he had interrogated Kalara a bit longer.

Chekov was silent for a moment. He didn’t want to admit that he hadn’t heard a sound from anyone. It felt too much like failure. He felt so helpless as he wondered where everyone else was. Had the rest of the crew even made it off the ship? He knew that Hikaru had launched his pod successfully, but had he even made it to the surface? Where was everyone?
“Noting, sir,” he managed at last. “Vhat eef…”

Kirk shook his head, one sharp motion to dismiss the thought. “No. No. He was taking them. We have to find the saucer. You can use the scanning systems. They have more range than a tricorder.”

Chekov bit his lip. It was true, the Enterprise had a powerful scanning system. They had just used it on the enemy ships, and this new planet. If it still had power… “Aye, keptin, eet is possible.”

“Captain,” Kalara blurted out. Chekov had nearly forgotten that Kirk still had his phaser trained on her. “I was protecting my crew.”

Chekov looked at Kirk. The man’s stance was unwavering. Everything about him said that he was going to do everything he could to protect his own crew, this woman’s betrayal be damned. Kirk slowly lowered the phaser, and nodded towards the plume of smoke that marked where the Enterprise surely lay.

It was starting to get dark by the time they reached the Enterprise. Their poor ship rested in a valley below them, small fires dotting the area around her. And she was completely dark.

Chekov caught his breath, his stomach sinking. “Ze Enterprise… She may not ewen haff pover to ze bridge, keptin.”

“She still has a few tricks up her sleeve,” Kirk replied. “I’d bet on it.”

As they moved into the valley, they spotted a few enemy soldiers patrolling the area, clearly guarding the wreckage in case any survivors did exactly what they were doing and came back to the ship. Kirk covered their approach, and Chekov and Kalara dashed through the debris as quickly as they could, climbing up the wreckage towards the bridge.

“Keptin, it looks like dere is pover,” Chekov whispered as he spotted a faint glow.

“Alright, let’s get to the bridge and find the crew,” Kirk responded, and they made their climb as fast as they could.

The bridge was a complete wreck. Walls had partially collapsed, the front window was cracked in several places, several chairs had been thrown about, and Uhura and Spock’s consoles were smashed. But the center console, the one Chekov had sat at with Hikaru, was still intact. Chekov let out a relieved breath, scampering over and running his fingers over the smooth metallic surface.

“Ze console is intact, Keptin. I vill try to diwert pover to it,” he said, ducking below the console and shifting the wires around, trying to determine the best approach to solve the problem.

“Well, work fast,” Kirk murmured, pacing around the destroyed bridge. “Once we get this place lit up, we’re going to draw a lot of attention.

Chekov made a noise of acknowledgement, then uttered a grunt of triumph as he succeeded in powering up the console. Squirming out from underneath it, he hurried to scan the planet for the rest of the crew.

“What do you think?” Kirk asked. “Can you find them?”

Chekov chewed on his lower lip. “Aye, keptin. I am reconfiguring ze scanners and modulating frequencies to detect ze crews’ signals.” It would take a few minutes, but he was confident that he could find rough coordinates quickly, and then they could leave before they were detected.

Kirk nodded, then started walking through one of the doors leading off the bridge. He nodded to Kalara. “You’re with me. I left something behind.”

Chekov paused. He already knew that Kirk didn’t trust the female alien. She had known they would be attacked, but she hadn’t warned them. Hikaru had been suspicious of her during the attack as well, Chekov remembered. But Kirk was willingly bringing her deeper into the ship, ostensibly to watch his back. No, something wasn’t right. He tapped at the console a few more times, and finally found the coordinates he was looking for. Memorizing them at a glance, he pulled out his phaser and followed Kirk and Kalara deeper into the ship.

~*~*~*~

Hikaru Sulu found himself in a single-file line of crewmembers from the Enterprise. Most of them appeared uninjured, only a few needing to be helped by their fellows. Sulu decided that that was great news, it meant that any escape attempt wouldn’t be terribly slowed down by needing to help the injured, increasing their chances of success. He wished he could have grabbed the phaser that he knew was kept in every Kelvin pod, but after his pod had been swarmed by those cursed tiny ships, he hadn’t had a single second to snatch the weapon. They’d practically beamed him down to the surface, and a pair of soldiers had wrenched the pod open the moment they’d hit the ground, yanking Sulu out before he even had a chance to unbuckle his restraints, much less go for the weapon. He’d tried to fight them, but one of the soldiers had pointed a weapon directly at him, and so Sulu had decided to see what they had planned for him next.

They didn’t appear to be killing anyone just yet, which Sulu was too cynical to take as a good sign, as there was obviously a reason that they were all being kept alive. The base camp had a few small structures, but they were shoved down a flight of stairs, perilously steep and entirely without handrails, leading to a truly massive underground cavern. Sulu briefly recalled Spock mentioning that there were subterranean structures on Altamid, but the Vulcan had not displayed any maps, and so Sulu was both literally and figuratively blind in the dark warren.

Peering down into the darkness as his eyes adjusted, Sulu looked over the survivors. There were many, which was a relief, though Sulu knew not everyone could have survived the explosions or the initial invasion of their ship. He didn’t see most of the officers though. No sign of Kirk, Spock, Scotty, McCoy… Or Pavel. Or… no, there was Nyota. She was flanked by a pair of the soldiers, and coming in from a completely different direction than the rest of the crew. Sulu wondered briefly where she’d been, but was confident he would have a chance to ask her soon.

Sure enough, the entire crew was herded into a single giant room. The door dropped from the ceiling, hitting the ground with a harsh metallic clang. They all heard the clicks and whirs as an electronic lock engaged. Sulu frowned down at the lock, wishing Pavel was there. The younger man probably could have rigged something up to pick the lock, but Sulu was not so mechanically inclined.

Behind him, he heard a few choice Klingon expletives, and then Nyota was at his side. “You sound like you’re enjoying yourself,” Sulu said mildly, still studying the lock.

“Krall is such a piece of work,” she growled, practically quivering with ferocious indignation.

“I assume that’s who’s holding us?” Sulu said, standing up and turning to face her.

“He’s so smug,” she grumbled. “He thinks I’m ridiculous for sacrificing myself to save Kirk. And some nonsense about how the Federation is weak because we’re many species working together.”

“You sacrificed yourself for Kirk?” Sulu repeated, trying to decide if he was surprised or not. Although she respected Kirk as a captain and would have been proud to sacrifice herself for most of crew, it was also well-known that she held Kirk in low esteem as a person.

“Well, he was fighting Krall and couldn’t turn the wheel to separate the saucer from the rest of the ship,” she explained. “And I knew he had the artifact that Krall was looking for, so when Kirk managed to throw him back into the space with me… Well, I hit the button to cut us off, and finished breaking the ship apart myself.”

“Krall must have been pissed,” Sulu said admiringly.

“Oh, he was not happy with me at all,” Nyota agreed, looking just a little smug. “But he didn’t kill me, so that’s something.”

“That was reckless, Nyota,” Sulu couldn’t help but point out.

“Deal with it,” she snapped, though she softened it with a small grin. “Now, let’s see about getting the heck out of here. Did anyone manage to bring any tools in here?”

Naturally, no one had been able to smuggle any tools or weapons into their prison. Not even Keenser, and he could usually be counted on to have tools somewhere on his person, likely a product of being Scotty’s second down in engineering. But as Nyota spoke with the small gray alien, he sneezed, and they all froze as they heard the soft sizzle of his snot eating away at the rocks.

Sulu turned away from where he’d had his ear pressed against the door to study the guards’ rotations, and cautiously studied the damage. “If it can do that to solid rock…” he began.

“Think what it’ll do to the lock,” Nyota agreed, her voice rising in excitement. “Keenser, come over here.”

Sure enough, it was only a few minutes before Keenser had to sneeze again, and this time, he sneezed directly on the lock. They all heard the angry hissing and popping as the electronic lock was fried.

“That is one heck of a cold,” Sulu said admiringly.

“Nice job, Keenser,” Nyota said, patting the small alien on the shoulder. He nodded, then wiped his nose with a small sniff.

Sulu took a deep breath. “We have about fifteen minutes before the next guard rotation,” he told Nyota. “Come on.”

With the help of a few other crewmembers, they were able to yank the door up enough for the two of them to sneak out into the darkness. The rest of the crew remained behind, giving them a chance to figure out the lay of the land, possibly finding weapons and an avenue of escape.

There were almost no guards in the dark cavern, and only a few patrolling when they reached the surface. Sulu ducked behind some barrels as a pair walked past, then gestured for Nyota to follow him to a small structure that seemed to have several wires poking out of it. Electronics could mean anything, surely something helpful.

As they approached, Sulu noticed that the consoles were ancient, something he was pretty sure he’d seen in history texts. He squinted, wracking his brains before the answer came to him.

“This is a Magellan probe. The Federation was using these to find a way through the nebula,” he said at last. He tried to remember when the Federation had last tried to explore this particular nebula, but he couldn’t recall a stardate.

“What’s he using it for?” Nyota wondered, leaning closer to study the lines of code the screens were displaying.

Sulu wanted to give her a chance to study the consoles further, but he spotted a pair of guards that would surely see them if they remained out in the open. He pulled Nyota away from the screens, then gestured for her to follow him to the next structure, which was conveniently out of the guards’ line of sight. Nyota practically flew to the nearest screen, her eyes following the lines of code. She began to type, then uttered a soft dismayed noise.

“What do you see?” Sulu asked, nervously tearing his eyes away from the land around them to look over her shoulder.

“He’s been piggybacking on a subspace link between the probes,” Nyota said, her voice slightly baffled.

Sulu considered that for a moment. Just because the Federation wasn’t actively using the probes didn’t mean they couldn’t still send and receive information. “Can we use it to send a distress signal?”

Nyota frowned, then brightened a little. “I can try.” She typed for a moment, and Sulu continued to scan the area for guards. He didn’t see any, not a single soul. He listened, but heard nothing besides the click of keys and soft whirs of the machinery in front of him. Before he could properly decide if that was suspicious, Nyota straightened up. “Sent.”

Sulu studied the screen closest to him, and he felt his throat close up for a moment. “He has access to the Yorktown database,” he forced himself to say, picturing his family living there.

“What?” Nyota asked sharply, moving close to him to peer over his shoulder.

“Starfleet data files, ship logs… Including the Enterprise.” Sulu felt cold, and suddenly knew that the silence that he’d noticed in the base camp was definitely a bad thing.

“He’s been watching us the whole time,” Nyota practically growled.

Sulu reached out to grab her wrist, about to tell her that they needed to move, needed to run and hide, but they were too late. Several soldiers were entering the structure, weapons drawn and clearly meaning business. Sulu thought that one of the soldiers was Krall’s second-in-command, but he wasn’t sure. He started to step back, but more soldiers entered, cutting off all escape routes. He considered putting up a fight, but they were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. Yorktown was in danger, the crew needed him alive, and he still didn’t know where Pavel was. Next to him, Nyota raised her hands in surrender, and Sulu did the same.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov crept along the dark, twisted corridors of the downed Enterprise, following the faint sounds of Kirk’s voice. He still wasn’t completely sure why he was following the captain, but he was certain that both the captain and Hikaru had had suspicions about their guest, Kalara, and Chekov was loath to leave Kirk on his own with a possibly hostile being.

He sped up at the sound of a scuffle, and then he heard Kalara speaking. “Tell Krall I have the Abronath.”

Chekov nearly dropped the phaser, but steadied himself. First he typed into his communicator, putting an automatic trace on Kalara’s communications. If she was speaking with Krall, surely this would lead them straight to the base. Then he peeked around the corner, only to see Kalara standing over Kirk, who’d been shoved to the floor. She looked contemptuous as she moved to open a small locker.

“Do you believe every sad story you hear?” the female alien asked. Then she stopped, her entire body gong still as she looked up at Kirk.

“Not every,” Kirk replied, and he looked quite smug.

Kalara went for her weapon, and Chekov had seen quite enough. He stepped forward quickly, remaining far enough from her that he would be out of her reach. “Put ze phaser down. Please,” he added. No sense in being rude. He kept the phaser trained on her, and she lifted her hands in surrender, though she was obviously fuming.

Kirk exhaled, looking just a little relieved. “You get it, Chekov?”

“Aye, keptin, I traced ze location of her call.” He stepped forward cautiously, still keeping his phaser trained on Kalara as she sank to her knees.

Kirk stood up. “What does Krall want this thing for?” he asked.

She looked up at them. “To save you… from yourselves.”

Kirk frowned down at her, but Chekov’s ears had caught something, and he looked up just in time to see some soldiers moving towards them, weapons drawn. “Keptin!” he exclaimed, firing his phaser at the lead soldier.

Kirk swore, and both of them took off running. It was not particularly easy. The sharp tilt of the ship meant that sometimes they were running on the joint where the wall met the floor, and sometimes on the wall itself. The divots where doorways stood were treacherous, but neither of them lost their footing as they ran. They reached a hallway that went straight up, and so started climbing it like a rock face. Chekov wished for a moment that he was as physically fit as Hikaru, but he held his own well enough to make it to the doorway that Kirk had climbed into.

“You alright?” Kirk asked, clapping his hand on Chekov’s shoulder.

“Aye, keptin,” Chekov panted, catching his breath. He looked around, realizing that they had ended up on a narrow landing made of black metal. He peered down, and found that he was looking at one of the generators. “But ve are trapped,” he added, in case Kirk somehow thought they could climb down there. It was way too dangerous, Chekov knew. Aside from the twisted metal that had entirely too many sharp edges, there was bound to be fuel that had spilled, and it would take very little to set it off. Their pursuers wouldn’t even need to come close to hitting them with a phaser, they could just shoot randomly and surely hit some spilled fuel, which would consume them in an inferno.

Speaking of phasers… Chekov ducked as green light flew past them. Luckily the angle of the landing meant that the green light was directed up towards the ceiling rather than down towards the fuel.

“Can you get this thing started?” Kirk asked, squinting down into the darkness before returning fire.

Chekov stared in horror. “Are you intimating dat ve should engage ze thrusters?” he demanded.

“I am open to suggestions!” Kirk exclaimed, still firing at Kalara and the soldiers.

“O…kay!” Throwing up his hands in despair and making a gesture that he hoped adequately expressed his hopelessness at the situation, Chekov turned his focus to the manual override console perched on the landing. He tapped at several keys, studying the readings closely. Then he sighed. “Dere is a problem.”

“What?” Kirk demanded.

Chekov sighed, knowing that something insane and dangerous was about to happen. “Ze fuel ees primed, but I cannot get eet to combust.” He took a breath, threw himself past the open doorway, and stood next to Kirk, staring down again at the twisted metal below. He saw the realization appear in Kirk’s eyes, and watched despairingly as his captain’s stance changed, preparing to fire his phaser down into the darkness. “Keptin,” he said, feeling a little desperate now, “ve are basically standing on a wery large bomb! Eef you miss ze combustion compressor…”

“I’m not going to miss!” Kirk shouted over the sound of more phasers firing. Their pursuers were closing in, and Chekov understood the wisdom of acting sooner rather than later.

“Do you know vhat ze combustion compressor looks like?” he asked, dreading the answer.

“It’s a square, right?” Kirk asked, taking aim.

“No, eet is…” Chekov began, but Kirk had already fired. “…round.”

“That’s what I said!” Kirk exclaimed.

Chekov was about to point out that that was completely incorrect, but then a massive explosion shook the entire ship. Chekov watched in horror as a plume of flames flared out from the point of impact.

“RUN!” Kirk bellowed, and Chekov didn’t have to be told twice as they leapt from their small perch. Luckily the explosion had knocked Kalara and the soldiers off their feet, so Kirk and Chekov made it to another corridor and fled. It didn’t take long for the chase to resume though, and Chekov found himself ducking phaser fire and doing his best to return it. Kirk was a better shot, but Chekov did his best. They reached a massive gap where part of the ship had collapsed, and Kirk leapt across without even a second’s hesitation.

Chekov wanted to stop and evaluate the situation, but he could almost hear Hikaru telling him to just jump. Chekov wished for an instant that Hikaru was there, because he trusted that Hikaru would never let him fall… but his boyfriend wasn’t here, he was probably a prisoner at Krall’s base, and Chekov had the coordinates, and Kalara was right behind him, firing her weapon, and Chekov threw himself through the air, coming to land right next to Kirk. The captain clapped his shoulder, fired at Kalara again, and then pelted towards the bridge. Chekov followed, even as the ship began to rock alarmingly.

Against all odds, they had managed to start the thrusters. The ship was trying to get elevation, but a single thruster wasn’t going to do the job, so it just made the ship rock dangerously. Kirk and Chekov burst onto the bridge, both looking around frantically.

“Chekov! The glass!” Kirk shouted. Both of them fired their phasers at the window, splintering the glass. Kalara and the soldiers appeared, but Kirk and Chekov leapt into the air before their pursuers had a chance to fire their weapons. They hit the glass hard, but it was weakened enough to shatter on impact, and they both began to slide down the surface of the rapidly-tilting ship. Kalara and the soldiers followed without hesitation.

The slide was steep, and they hit the ground quickly. Chekov gasped, feeling a little breathless from the impact. Then Kirk was tugging on his arm.

“Chekov, move!” the captain shouted.

Chekov wanted nothing more than to just stop for a moment and catch his breath, but when he looked back up at the ship, he saw exactly why the captain was urging speed. The single working thruster had managed to propel the already-tilted ship so that it was nearly standing on its nose, and now gravity was doing the rest. The ship was creaking ominously, and soon would be hitting the ground once again, but this time it would be upside-down, and they were currently standing on the expected point of impact.

As they ran, Chekov spotted Kalara, who had hit the ground hard since the angle of the ship had become much sharper for her than it had been for them. She was aiming her phaser at them, but then she heard the creaking behind her, and she turned. And Chekov turned away, he didn’t want to watch that. She was standing right under the Enterprise, and she had no time to run. Traitor or not, Chekov didn’t want to see what their ship would do to her body. He just focused on Kirk’s back in front of him and he ran like his life depended on it, because it did.

~*~*~*~

Hikaru Sulu winced as he received a sharp tap in the center of his back from the weapon one of the guards was carrying. He had expected that both he and Nyota would have been taken back to their cell, or perhaps to their own private cell as Krall surely would have deduced that they were the troublemakers in the group. He would even have expected that they would have been summarily executed for escaping rather than Krall’s men taking the risk that they would manage it again. But so far, none of these had happened. Not that he was complaining, of course.

Uhura was a few paces ahead of him, also flanked by armed guards. She had already been through this before, after being taken prisoner by Krall himself on the Enterprise (Sulu still had trouble wrapping his head around that story. Only Nyota!), so she was walking more confidently than Sulu was. After all, Krall hadn’t killed her last time.

They were led into a dark room with tubes and chains hanging from what seemed like every square inch of the ceiling and walls. Many of them dragged along the floor too, and Sulu took his time stepping over each of them. He couldn’t tell if the tubes contained anything, though he thought he could hear faint dripping under the soft clinking of the chains swinging into each other. Uhura didn’t even look at her feet, just confidently crossed the room even though it was too dark to see more than a couple feet in any direction.

She finally stopped walking when she realized that Krall was sitting in front of her, coming to a halt so quickly that Sulu nearly walked right into her. He heard her catch her breath, and knew she was nervous, though she continued to hold herself confidently.

Krall watched them both, his face contemplative. “You think you know what sacrifice really means?” he growled out, his voice sounding almost rusty, as though he didn’t speak often. Or perhaps he didn’t speak Standard often and struggled to come up with the correct words.

Uhura hadn’t mentioned that Krall spoke Standard, and it took Sulu by surprise. She had only mentioned conversing with the alien being, but she knew so many languages that it would have been more surprising if they hadn’t been able to find a way to communicate.

“Federation has taught you that conflicts should not exist,” Krall continued. “Ha!” he almost choked on the ragged laugh that tore itself from his throat. “But without struggle, you will never know what you truly are,” he finished.

Sulu straightened his spine, refusing to show weakness before the alien. “You have no idea who we truly are. But you’ll soon find out.”

To his surprise, Krall made a funny choked sound that could have been a chuckle. “You mean that distress signal you thought you sent?” he asked, and Sulu felt a chill race through his body. It seemed impossible that they could have anticpated that a distress signal would be sent out, they should not have been looking for that sort of communication. “The coordinates were altered,” Krall continued. The rescue ships will be stranded in the nebula, and your base left open.”

The chill intensified, Sulu felt as though his limbs were suddenly encased in blocks of ice. “You’re going to attack Yorktown,” he breathed out, horror washing over him. He’d been suspecting something like after finding schematics for Yorktown on the consoles, but he hadn’t expected that it was something that would be occurring so soon.

“Millions of souls from every Federation world, holding hands,” Krall practically spat on the ground at those words. “It’s a perfect target.”

Sulu felt sick thinking of all the beings on that base. Miko, Andy, little Kaylah, completely defenseless against any attack if Yorktown sent ships to rescue the Enterprise, thinking they were in distress. Krall didn’t seem to have any goal besides destruction, mayhem. He wouldn’t be swayed by any pleas for mercy, or by any attempt at negotiation. He would just want to see their world burn.

“You’re wrong!” Uhura snapped, yanking Sulu back out of his own head. “There is strength in unity,” she added, head held up defiantly.

Krall ducked his head, making a huffing noise that almost sounded like a sarcastic laugh. “The strength of others, Lieutenant, is what’s kept me alive.”

Before either Sulu or Uhura could question that, the tubes and chains around them jerked sharply, revealing two Enterprise crewmembers, one male and one female. Both hung upside-down, tightly bound and gagged so thoroughly that they could neither move nor scream, explaining how they’d been kept so well-hidden.

“NO!” Uhura screamed. Sulu wasn’t sure if she somehow already knew what was going to happen, or if she merely guessed it. She lunged forward, but Sulu reached out, catching her wrist in a tight grip.

Krall reached out, grabbing the heads of the two crewmembers. Both suddenly began to writhe in obvious agony, faint screams managing to tear free from behind their gags. Uhura screamed too, lunging forward towards Krall, but Sulu held her tightly, pulling her backwards so he could hold her with both hands. Nothing good would happen if she tried to attack Krall now, he was certain of that. He could only watch in mute horror as the faces of their crewmates turned gray and dry, like mummies, their bodies becoming dry and lifeless. And Krall, his face changed, contorted, new colors bursting into existence and fading out again… He didn’t know what Krall was, only that he was dangerous.

Once the crewmembers were limp, mere husks drained of their life energy, Krall stepped towards them. His whole body shook, his face looked… different, somehow. Sulu felt sick to his stomach.

“Get the rest of the crew. Take them to the holding pen on the surface. I will speak with all of them together,” Krall growled. The soldiers grabbed Sulu and Uhura, dragging them away.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov looked up at the early morning sunlight above his head. He wasn’t sure how long their adventure at the Enterprise had taken, or how long they had been bumbling about in the dark woods, but the sun was welcome no matter what. Kirk climbed over a large boulder, and Chekov scrambled to follow him.

“How far are we from the coordinates of that call?” Kirk called over his shoulder. He’d asked this question several times throughout the walk, though not enough to be truly annoying. Chekov was eager to find the rest of the crew as well. Surely Hikaru would be with them, and Chekov knew he wouldn’t be able to completely relax until he was able to see and touch his boyfriend again.

“Still a vays,” Chekov panted, taking a moment to catch his breath before jumping down to the soft grass below. “Keptin? Vhen did you begin to suspect her?”

Kirk looked down for a moment, his expression frustrated. “Not soon enough.”

“But how did you know?” Chekov pressed.

Kirk smirked. “Well, I guess you could say I’ve got a good nose for danger,” he replied as he dropped down several feet into a narrow chasm between some boulders.

Chekov acknowledged the humor with a weak chuckle, then jumped down as well. They both froze as they heard a soft hissing sound, and looked down to see a dark brown gas floating up from some hidden vent near their feet.

“RUN!” Kirk shouted.

Chekov didn’t need to be told twice. Both of them tried to leap away, but the gas seemed to grab their ankles, wrapping its way quickly up their bodies, enveloping them and almost immediately solidifying. They were surrounded by a semi-translucent brown film, though luckily their faces were uncovered and they were able to breathe. Chekov took a few deep breaths to reassure himself of that fact. One of his hands was free, and he flexed it experimentally, but he was not able to bend it enough to try to break the film. Kirk appeared to be in much the same boat, and Chekov nearly groaned out loud. Suspended several feet in the air, and completely helpless, they had no choice but to wait for someone to come upon them. Since this bore all the hallmarks of a trap, Chekov could only hope that this trap was checked regularly, and maybe he and Kirk would have a chance to fight their way free once their captor arrived.

Chekov was pretty sure it was only a few minutes before he heard cautious footsteps on the rocks a few feet away. He couldn’t turn his head at all, but he flicked his eyes over, and he spotted a flash of white. The white shape slowly took the form of an alien being moving towards them, carrying a long silver staff. The alien was moving cautiously, as though unsure that they were truly caught. And there was another figure too, this one wearing red, an awfully familiar shade of red…

“Cap’in?”

And there was no mistaking that Scottish brogue. Chekov could have cried from relief. If Scotty was with this alien, surely they were friendly, or at least not dangerous.

“You know these men?” the alien asked, in an accented voice that was unmistakably feminine.

“Aye, lassie. That wee man there is Pavel Chekov.”

Chekov had to swallow before he could manage a weak “Hello.”

“An’ that handsome bastard is James T. Kirk. They’re my mates,” Scotty continued cheerfully.

“Good to see you,” Kirk said, sounding much more relaxed than Chekov had.

The alien with Scotty began to fidget with her silver stick, which began to glow bright blue after a moment of tinkering.

“What’s she doing, Scotty?” Kirk asked, a note of caution in his voice.

Even Scotty looked a little concerned. “Dinnae hurt them,” he said, sounding as though this were a real possibility, and really making Chekov wonder if she was truly on their side.

Kirk made another incoherent sound of protest as the alien approached them, but she jabbed her staff into the brown film below them, and it crumbled to pieces with no warning, sending Kirk and Chekov flying practically face-first into the rocks below. Chekov barely managed to throw his arm up in time to protect his face.

“You are free, James T.,” the alien said, one hand resting on her hip and looking as though she thought she’d done absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

Scotty had started moving as soon as he realized that they were free, and he pulled Chekov to his feet.

“Mr. Scott!” Chekov exclaimed, immediately pulling him into a friendly hug. It was the first real confirmation they’d had that anyone besides himself and Kirk had survived the crash. If Scotty was alive, surely others were as well.

Kirk pulled himself to his feet without assistance, brushing dirt off his survival suit. “Who’s your new friend?” Kirk asked, casting a speculative eye over the alien. “She sure knows how to throw out a welcome mat.

“Ah, this is Jaylah,” Scotty introduced her.

Jaylah crossed her arms. “I do not know what is a welcome mat,” she informed Kirk, looking annoyed.

Kirk looked ready to argue with her, but then he turned to Scotty instead. “Have you found anyone else?”

Scotty ducked his head. “No, sir, I’m sorry. You two are th’ only ones.” He paused, then looked back at Kirk. “What th’ hell happened up there, Jim? Why were we attacked?”

Kirk launched into an explanation of everything they’d learned from Kalara, and Chekov took the opportunity to warily study Jaylah. She was standing well back from the conversation, but the hands on her hips and the defiant tilt of her chin suggested that that was only because she didn’t particularly care about the nuances of their discussion. She caught Chekov watching her, and unflinchingly gave him a once-over, not a thought that either of them should be embarrassed about his staring. She was stunning, Chekov decided, though with entirely too much coiled tension in her body, like she was going to spring forward and shank someone in just a minute. Chekov decided that he never wanted to get on her bad side.

Once Kirk finished explaining that he’d given the troublesome artifact to Ensign Syl for safekeeping, Scotty suggested that Jaylah lead the way back to her ship because she was the only one who knew where all the traps were. Evidently Kirk and Chekov had been lucky enough to stumble into one of the non-lethal ones. The white-haired alien led the way back to what she called her house, and what Scotty assured them was a truly fantastic find.

And it lived up to the hype, Chekov decided when he entered the ship. It was unmistakably a Federation vessel, and one of the older models. But it had aged beautifully, and Chekov couldn’t resist tracing his fingers along the metal walls, admiring the craftsmanship that had allowed the ship to withstand time and elements.

“This is the USS Franklin, can you believe that?” Scotty exclaimed, gesturing wildly at the ship that had gone missing a century before. As Kirk and Scotty discussed the lost ship and Scotty explained the repairs that Jaylah had managed to make, Chekov moved to the console. Keeping half an ear on the discussion, he began typing, checking the specs for himself. The ship did seem to be close to fully operational, which was shocking considering how long it must have sat there, abandoned. The computer system was, naturally, ancient history, but Chekov was sure that he could coax it into doing almost anything he might want it to do.

Glancing up, he saw Kirk moving automatically towards the captain’s chair, only for Jaylah to sit down in it before he could, kicking her heels up over one of the arms. Kirk made a confused gesture, then turned towards Chekov, as though he hadn’t just intended to sit in his customary seat. Chekov bit the inside of his cheek to keep his amusement from showing.

“Mr. Chekov,” Kirk said. “Can you plug in the coordinates so you can track the crew’s location from the ship’s sensors?”

Chekov had been considering doing exactly that. He waved one hand in acknowledgement even as his other hand danced across the keys, calling up what he was looking for. “Aye,” he said to show he’d heard, then he sat down and continued to type.

“Mr. Scott, a tour?” Kirk suggested.

“Aye. Jaylah?”

The alien stood and led the way off the bridge, and Chekov very studiously did not look up as Kirk patted the back of the captain’s chair once Jaylah was a few paces away. Then the three of them were gone, leaving Chekov alone to his work. In a relatively secure environment, with decent technology, Chekov was hopeful that he could finally make progress figuring out exactly where the rest of the crew was… where Hikaru was.

~*~*~*~

Hikaru Sulu looked up at the morning sunshine. He and the rest of the crew had been moved to an aboveground holding pen, and Sulu couldn’t help but be optimistic. Surely being held on the surface meant that escaping would be easier. He was already scanning for the routes taken by guards and trying to determine any structural weak points in the fence.

At first, only he and Uhura had been in the holding pen, watched by stone-faced soldiers with weapons drawn. Uhura had been beside herself with rage over the fate of their fellow crewmates down in Krall’s lair, and she had hurled insults in a number of different languages, most of which Sulu could not translate. She had still been swearing at the guards (he was pretty sure she had been insulting their mothers in Andorian) when the rest of the crew was brought up. Sulu hadn’t expected that, but he supposed it made sense that Krall would have checked the door to their cell, and would have found it unlocked. Perhaps he thought that keeping the Enterprise crew somewhere where his soldiers could keep a direct eye on them would deter future escape attempts, Sulu thought with a wry smirk. They obviously were underestimating how determined this crew could be.

Uhura had finally calmed down once the guards had left the holding pen, and they had gotten to work immediately, discussing possible escape routes, which guards they could attack, whether they could steal any weapons. It was going to be challenging to get everyone out of the base camp, Sulu knew. There seemed to be few avenues of escape, and their brightly-colored uniforms stood out starkly against the dull rocks and gray structures.

They had made very little progress when Krall stormed in, his soldiers yanking the gate open at a single snarl from their commander. Before any of them had a chance to realize what was going on, Krall grabbed Sulu by the back of his neck, just at the base of his skull.

“You will tell me where it is! Now!” Krall roared.

Sulu froze, the image of the two Enterprise crewmembers, bound and gagged, with their life energy drained from their bodies, burned into his brain. It had looked singularly unpleasant, and he had a sick feeling he knew what his own fate was about to be.

Sure enough, when no one moved to answer Krall, he snarled, and Sulu gasped as pressure filled his brain. It was like the worst migraine, and the agony seemed to travel down his neck and along his shoulders. It was like Krall was squeezing him like a tube of toothpaste, and the pressure was forced to other parts of his body. His skin felt hot, then suddenly ice cold, blood pounded in his ears before falling horrifyingly silent. The pain was so overwhelming, he couldn’t even scream, he could only gasp from the shock. He’d already been forced into a half-crouch by Krall’s powerful grip, and his legs shook and started to give out. The world seemed to lose its color, turning alarmingly gray-scaled. Dimly, he could hear Uhura screaming for Krall to let him go. The rest of the crew was also crying out in alarm. They had not seen what he and Uhura had seen, but they could recognize something horrifying and dangerous when it stared them right in the face.

And then a voice rose up above the rest. Ensign Syl, a quiet little science officer who had never raised her voice in her entire life, was shouting at Krall. “Let him go, and I will give you what you want!” she screamed.

Everyone froze, shocked that the diminutive alien had raised her voice so authoritatively. Krall turned both himself and Sulu so that they were facing Syl. Her eyes were wide with fear at being faced so directly by Krall, but she stood her ground.

The pressure on Sulu’s skull lessened as Krall focused on Syl. Sulu was able to pull himself together enough to exclaim, “No! Syl, don’t!” Then he gasped again, sinking fully to his knees as Krall upped the pressure once again. He managed to glance down, and saw that blood vessels in his hands were starting to turn gray. He still felt white-hot lancing through his skull, but his extremities felt frozen. He wanted to be sick, but he didn’t think his body could manage even that primal function. He could barely breathe, his lungs and throat hurt when he tried to take a breath. Yet, even with the pressure in his skull threatening to overwhelm him, Sulu locked eyes with Syl, silently pleading with her not to give Krall the artifact. He had a terrible feeling that the fact that the artifact’s location had been unknown was the main reason they were all still alive.

“No!” Syl shouted again. Then the long crests on her heads, the ones that Pavel had once remarked reminded him of crab legs, began to slowly unfold. Sulu had always assumed that it was a joke of Pavel’s, surely the crests on her skull didn’t actually move… Except, evidently they did. Two by two, they flared up to stand out on either side of her head, reaching out towards the sky like hands raised in supplication. Krall’s second-in-command approached her, snatching the artifact from its hiding place on top of Syl’s head. He approached Krall, holding the artifact like something precious.

Krall dropped Sulu to the ground. He gasped, feeling like he’d just been trapped underwater for far too long. His vision began to clear, and he could feel the pins-and-needles sensation in his limbs. He used one arm to brace himself as he knelt on the ground, and he flexed the other hand and fingers, and everything responded well. The gray coloring that had marred his blood vessels was quickly fading. He wasn’t sure how, but Sulu thought he might have escaped permanent damage. If anything, perhaps he’d lost a few years of his life, but he could deal with that. Taking a few more deep breaths, he managed to pull himself to his feet and stand next to Uhura. She was quivering with fury, clearly spoiling for a fight. And she’d likely picked up on what Sulu had realized a moment ago. Now that Krall had the artifact, they were in more danger than ever.

Krall took the artifact, his stiff face twisting into an unpleasant sneer. “Lieutenant,” he said softly. Sulu shivered, but knew somehow that he was talking to Uhura, not to him. “Unity is not your strength. It is your weakness,” Krall finished.

Everyone was still, not sure how to respond to that dire pronouncement.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov tapped away at the console, trying to track the coordinates from the call he’d traced from Kalara. There was interference and he couldn’t be completely certain where the call had come from. But he thought he’d narrowed it down well enough to find the base camp, especially if Jaylah consented to help them.

His fingers froze over the keys as a new signal was picked up by his communicator. It was Starfleet, and that meant other survivors who were not being held by Krall! He ran from the bridge, trying to figure out where the tour had taken them. Then he saw that the hatch above his head was open, and he climbed the ladder as fast as he could. Arriving on the roof of the downed starship, he noticed with some interest that Jaylah was adjusting was appeared to be a system of crude image reflectors, camouflaging the ship from unwelcome eyes. He would have enjoyed studying the tech, but not now, not when there was at least one survivor out there, they could be injured, in danger… It could be Hikaru…

“Keptin! I intercepted a veak communications transmission, sir! Starfleet frequency!” Chekov exclaimed.

Kirk’s head snapped up, and he started moving as fast he could towards the hatch, with Scotty and Jaylah close behind.

“Can you lock on to the signal?” Kirk demanded once they were down on the bridge.

“Yes, but how do ve get to dem?” Chekov asked. His fears about injured or trapped crewmates instantly redoubled.

Scotty looked hesitant. “I have an idea, sir, but… I am goin’ ta need yer permission.”

Kirk lifted an eyebrow. “Why would you need my permission?”

“Because if I mess it up… I dinnae want it to be just my fault,” Scotty replied.

Kirk just stared at his chief engineer. So did Jaylah, clearly skeptical that anything with such a disclaimer could possibly work.

Scotty led the way to the ship’s transporter, an ancient thing that was obviously only designed to transport cargo. With Chekov homing in on the signal, Scotty modified the transporter to hopefully transport living beings safely. And when they locked onto the Enterprise crewmember signal and beamed them aboard, Chekov’s jaw dropped when he realized it was Spock, who was clutching his side, his uniform shirt stained dark green with his blood.

“Shit, Spock!” Kirk gasped, flying forward to pull Spock off the transporter.

“Dere is second signal,” Chekov reminded Scotty, and they quickly worked together to beam up the second person, who turned out to be a very peeved Dr. McCoy. Chekov spared himself just a moment of frustration that he still didn’t know Hikaru’s fate, but then he hurried to help Jaylah retrieve the medical supplies. Naturally, McCoy had to growl that they were ancient and primitive, but he also got straight to work trying to stop Spock from bleeding out in front of them.

As McCoy worked, Kirk fretted, and Scotty and Jaylah hovered nearby to offer what assistance they could, Chekov sank down into the seat behind the console. He watched the faint pulsing light of the dot that suggested where Krall’s base of operations might be, wondering if Hikaru was there, if he was injured too…

He worried his bottom lip between his teeth. Hikaru had wanted to have a conversation about their relationship, and Chekov was starting to regret not humoring him. Hikaru seemed happy in their relationship, but Chekov had his suspicions that if they started talking too seriously about commitment, Hikaru’s old fears would rise up and he’d start pulling away. And Chekov would rather live with what they had for the rest of his life rather than risk Hikaru panicking and transferring to another ship and vanishing from his life. Chekov was confident enough in himself by now to know that he would be able to pull himself together and live a happy and productive life without Hikaru, but that didn’t mean he wanted to. And so he dodged the conversations with decreasing subtlety, though part of him knew that he would eventually have to talk to Hikaru, even if only to explain that he didn’t expect a ring and 2.5 children to know that Hikaru loved him…

“We should wait until we’re absolutely sure,” Scotty was saying when Chekov finally tuned back in.

“No!” Kirk snapped. “We have to get the crew back now. Chekov has the coordinates that can lead us to Krall’s base, so we go!”

Scotty’s spine straightened. “With respect, sir, how de we know tha’ Krall was a’ the base when she called ‘im?”

“Or that the crew are even still alive?” McCoy drawled.

It was a valid point, but that didn’t come close to erasing the ferociously protective look that had crossed Kirk’s face. Seeing Spock injured by the enemy soldiers had only reminded Kirk that his crew needed him, and nothing was going to stand in his way, not even logic.

“Mr. Chekov,” Spock said quietly. He was on his feet, looking only a little shaky, and was mostly steady as he leaned over a console. “Can you reconfigure the search parameters in order to compensate for this formula?”

Chekov crossed over to Spock, peering at the formula that had been precisely typed. “Hm, aye, Kommander, but… Vhat is dis formula?” he asked.

Spock had an oddly far-away look in his eye as he answered. “It is Vokaya, Mr. Chekov. A mineral unique to Vulcan that emits a low-level radiation.”

Chekov nodded thoughtfully, deciding not to ask why there would be radioactive Vulcan minerals in Krall’s base camp. “I vill haff to filter out all ozzer energy emissions…”

“Spock, what the hell is a Vulcan mineral doing all the way out here?” McCoy grumbled.

Chekov attempted to tune out their conversation, but he couldn’t prevent himself from hearing that Nyota still wore a necklace that Spock had given her, despite their relationship being long-over. And Kirk was making a face reminiscent of sucking lemons, and… McCoy was also pretty irate, and wasn’t that interesting? Chekov wondered for just a moment if Nyota realized that the necklace could be used to track her, then concluded that it would be better for Spock’s health if he never asked her.

“I am detecting a wery trace amount of Wokaya,” he announced wonderingly as he stared down at the console.

Spock looked quite satisfied by that pronouncement. “Does the location match the coordinates you acquired from Kalara, Mr. Chekov?”

“Eet is a match, sir,” Chekov confirmed.

“Then this presence suggests that Lieutenant Uhura and thereby the rest of the crew are being held in Krall’s base of operations,” Spock concluded, echoing Chekov’s thoughts.

“Can you beam them out?” Kirk demanded immediately.

Chekov frowned, it was a problem he’d been working on ever since he’d first begun to narrow down the location of Krall’s base camp. “Nyet, sir, dere is some sort of geological interference dat is blocking ze transporting signal.”

Kirk almost smirked. “Then I guess we’ll have to break them out the old-fashioned way.”

McCoy looked ready to rip into Kirk for being a reckless man-child (as he did at least once a week), but Jaylah startled everyone with her outburst.

“No! You cannot go to this place! Everyone who goes there, he kills!” she exclaimed, her voice strained and upset.

“You’ve been there? You’ve seen it?” Kirk demanded, which Chekov felt was rather beside the point.

Scotty looked surprised. “Why didn’t ye say somethin’, lassie?”

Jaylah turned to Scotty, her expression stricken. “Because I know you will ask me to take you there. If your friends are there, then they will die, just like my family. And I will not go back to that death place,” she added vehemently.

“But if you’ve escaped, then ye can show us th’ way in! And th’ way out!” Scotty exclaimed, trying to soothe the distraught alien.

Jaylah was shaking her head furiously, her snow-white ponytail whipping back and forth in emphasis. “No! This is not the deal we made, Montgomery Scotty! If you choose to do this, you are on your own!” And with that, she spun on her heel and stormed out.

Scotty instantly moved to follow her, but Kirk fixed him with a glare. “Let her go.”

Scotty hesitated under the force of Kirk’s captainly glare, but then he shook his head. “She’s lost people too, captain,” he said softly. And he quickly followed after Jaylah. Kirk scowled, crossing his arms stubbornly. Chekov kept his eyes firmly fixed on the console, and Spock just watched the whole scene placidly. McCoy fixed Kirk was a particularly nasty glare, however, and finally Kirk wordlessly threw up his hands and marched after Scotty and Jaylah.

Spock leaned heavily against the console, his face somewhat ashen. McCoy crossed his arms, pointedly not looking at anyone.

“Doktor?” Chekov said hesitantly. McCoy looked up. “Vas dere… Did you see any sign of… anyone else?” he asked.

McCoy uncrossed, then recrossed his arms. “We saw a lot out there, kid. But no one from the Enterprise. No wreckage, no signs of life… nothing.”

Chekov nodded, ducking his head as he got back to work studying the rough map of the terrain generated by the scanners.

“Kid, no news is good news, right?” McCoy said quietly. “They were taking our ships, not destroying them. There must be a reason.”

“Dat is vhat I am afraid of,” Chekov said, too softly for McCoy to hear. Spock heard though, if the sudden tension in his shoulders was any indication.

Chekov was saved from further conversation when Kirk walked back in, followed by Scotty and a more subdued Jaylah. She didn’t acknowledge the rest of them, just quickly started rigging up a rough model of the camp with whatever materials were lying around on the bridge.

“The digging machine is in a tunnel going into the crater. That is how I got out,” Jaylah said, her voice rougher than it had been before.

“And that will be our way in,” Kirk declared. “The away team will wait at the other side of the tunnel, fall into Krall’s base, get inside the building, and break out the crew.”

Chekov chewed on his lower lip before pointing out the flaw in the plan. “Keptin, ve cannot lock onto anyone inside ze crater in order to beam dem up.”

“Well,” Scotty said thoughtfully, “I could rig up pulse beacons as pattern enhancers, that’ll get the signal out of the crater.”

“Aye,” Chekov agreed thoughtfully, already mentally constructing them in a way that would make the beacons small and portable, while still being powerful enough to transmit the signal effectively.

“How many people can the Franklin transport at one time?” Kirk asked.

Scotty squinted. “With a wee bit o’ modification, twenty. Max. But I’m not sure how long it would hold out.”

Chekov fixed Scotty with a stare. Just an hour ago, Scotty hadn’t been comfortable transporting a single living being. Scotty caught the stare, then shrugged. Now that they knew it was possible, Scotty must have ideas… And he did know more about transporters than anyone Chekov had ever met.

“Bones, Mr. Chekov, Jaylah, you’re on the away team,” Kirk decided. “Mr. Scott, modify the transporter. Do everything you can to get this ship operational.”

Chekov’s throat went dry at the thought of being on the away team. He was never on these rescue missions, there were usually plenty of eager, gung-ho people who were ahead of him in line… like Hikaru…

“Captain,” Spock said shortly, interrupting Chekov’s train of thought, “Mr. Chekov’s technical acumen makes him more valuable aboard the Franklin with Mr. Scott. It is thereby logical for me to replace him.”

Kirk gave Spock an exasperated look. “How is that logical, Spock? You just got back on your feet.”

The pair continued to bicker, and Chekov trailed after Scotty and Jaylah to help them get ready for the rescue mission. The sooner they had the beacons built and the transporter running properly, the sooner the away team could commence their rescue mission. Chekov cast his eyes up towards the ceiling, hoping that the majority of the crew was still alive… that Hikaru was still alive.

It wasn’t right, he decided, that he had left things the way they were between them. Yes, Chekov was frightened that Hikaru would get cold feet and try to pull back from their relationship if things got too serious. But Chekov was both patient and persistent, he had managed to keep Hikaru’s interest in the few months before he’d turned eighteen, and he had made Hikaru feel safe enough to confide in him about his traumatic childhood. They had already been through several challenges, and Chekov knew that he loved Hikaru enough to fight to keep him.

Chekov also knew that he’d gotten comfortable with their relationship. After working so hard to get their relationship off the ground, Chekov had forgotten one of his own cardinal rules. He’d learned from watching his parents, relationships took work. Hard work couldn’t always save them, but any relationship worth having was also worth working for. But their relationship had become easy, and Chekov had let himself get too comfortable, and he’d shied away from what he was sure was a looming conflict. And now Hikaru was, at best, a prisoner of their attacker, and Chekov knew he would never forgive himself if he couldn’t explain to Hikaru exactly why he’d been avoiding that particular conversation.

As Chekov mused, he also helped Scotty and Jaylah. The female alien had already proved to be a skilled amateur engineer, but Chekov still found reasons to be impressed by her talents. Scotty did too, judging by the way his accent thickened every time he looked at another new gadget that Jaylah had put together. For her part, Jaylah didn’t seem at all snobbish about her talent, it was something she had honed because her survival depended on it, and her desperation to get off the planet that had been nothing but a nightmare for her was blatant.

Finally they were ready for the rescue mission, and Chekov fidgeted unhappily as he sat next to Scotty at the teleporter controls. They had just sent their away team off, and Chekov was monitoring the signals desperately, even though he knew that he wouldn’t be able to tell Hikaru’s signal apart from the other crewmembers.

“It’ll be alright, laddie,” Scotty assured him, false bravado obvious.

Chekov nodded, because the alternative meant acknowledging that the crew could be dead, maimed, or worse. He drummed his fingers against the console, listening to the faint background noises from the communicators. Although he would not be able to hear properly unless someone was actively hailing them, he could still hear phasers firing, faint shouts, and the distant roar of Kirk’s motorcycle.

It took too long, in Chekov’s opinion, before the enhancer lit up properly. “I haff got dem, Meester Scott!” he exclaimed, relieved that their plan really was going to work.

“Good work, Mr. Chekov! Now, increase the signal! We’ve got ta grab ‘em twenty a’ a time!” Scotty exclaimed, fingers flying over the transporter controls.

“Aye,” Chekov acknowledged. Then he nodded, satisfied he’d captured the signals of twenty Enterprise crewmembers.

“Le’s hope this doesn’t get messy. Energize!” Scotty exclaimed.

The first group of crewmembers appeared safely on the transporter. Chekov exhaled, relief leeching off him as he realized that all of them were intact and relatively unharmed. He didn’t see Hikaru or Nyota among them, but he wasn’t surprised. They would, of course, be waiting until the rest of the crew was safe.

Twenty at a time, he and Scotty brought the crew safely onto the Franklin. They said little, nodding or waving in acknowledgement as the crew efficiently cleared the transporter to make room for the next wave. The only time that one of them stepped away from the controls was when Keenser arrived with more of the crew.

When Scotty saw his second in engineering, he was on his feet in a heartbeat. A delighted laugh tore its way from Scotty’s throat as he threw himself forward, looking ready to embrace the small alien. At the last second, he seemed to change his mind. Clearing his throat and assuming an expression of dignity befitting a Starfleet officer, Scotty solemnly extended his hand. “Good ta see ya, wee man.” Keenser just as solemnly took Scotty’s hand, shook it once, then stepped back several paces, but didn’t leave the transporter area. Likely, he was waiting for Scotty to finish so that the Chief Engineer could show his friend around the engines of their newest ship. Chekov hid a grin, pleased to see a truly happy reunion after the disaster this latest trip had been.

Finally they were hailed by McCoy, informing them that this was the last round of crewmembers, aside from Kirk and Jaylah, still tangling with Krall’s forces. Chekov’s hands started to shake, and he took a deep breath to steady himself.

“Energize!” Scotty exclaimed, and Chekov followed his commands, still keeping half an eye on Kirk’s signal, ready to beam him up at Scotty’s command. But the rest of his attention was focused on the transporter as the golden swirls of light announced the return of the rest of the crew.

Most of the crew streamed out just as efficiently as their fellows. Spock was leaning heavily on McCoy, clearly exhausted from the effort expended to save the crew. Nyota had also turned towards Spock, speaking rapidly to him. The Vulcan seemed quite alert though, and Chekov allowed himself to focus on Hikaru.

His boyfriend was alive, something that Chekov had never really doubted, but had desperately needed to confirm. His uniform was dirty, and he looked exhausted, like a few years had been taken off his life while under Krall’s thumb. But he was alive, and that was all Chekov needed at that moment.

Chekov looked desperately at Scotty, who nodded his head once. Chekov tore past the engineer and ran towards the transporter. He wanted to shout Hikaru’s name, tell him how glad he was to see him, but the words stuck in his throat. Instead, he threw his arms around the other man, burying his face in Hikaru’s shoulder.

Hikaru’s arms wrapped around Chekov’s smaller frame automatically. For a brief moment, Chekov let himself forget about everything else, and just let himself hold on to his boyfriend, and bask in the knowledge that they were both alive and safe.

Then Hikaru pulled back, leaning back enough to look Chekov in the eyes. “Pav, we need to get Kirk. We need… Yorktown. They’re going to attack Yorktown.”

Chapter Text

Hikaru Sulu tried to stay as close to Syl and Nyota as he could as Krall led them into the structure attached to the pen. Most of the crew had been left outside, but Krall’s soldiers hadn’t stopped Sulu and a few of the bolder crewmembers from following. Krall was gently holding the artifact that Syl had given him, his face oddly reverent.

“This is Abernoth. It was used by the ancient ones as a weapon,” Krall explained, his voice harsh, as though he didn’t use it often. “When they could not control its deadly power, they split it in two and ejected the two halves into space, hoping it would be lost forever.”

As he spoke, he walked away from his captives. Nyota was following him, brows furrowed in concentration as she listened to his tale. Syl trailed closely behind Nyota, still visibly shaken by Krall’s recent attempt on Sulu’s life. They were getting too far away for Sulu’s liking, and he stepped closer, only for a door to suddenly slam in front of him, cutting him off from Nyota and Syl.

The door was a massive structure, and he slammed his fist against it fruitlessly. It was too thick for him to hear anything that Krall or Nyota were saying to each other, and he could only watch helplessly through a small glass panel.

Nyota continued to follow Krall, clearly engaged in an animated discussion with their captor. Syl was lingering, not wanting to get too far from the rest of the crew. And then another door slammed closed, and Sulu banged his fist against the door once again in impotent fury. Syl was alone now in this room, with Nyota trapped with Krall on the other side.

And then, as Sulu watched in horror, a black cloud seemed to float into the room through the door Krall and Nyota had exited from. Syl’s scream was loud enough for Sulu to hear it even through the practically sound-proofed door. He watched helplessly as she ran towards the door where he could see Nyota standing, pounding her fist against the glass and screaming at Krall. Syl stretched her hand out beseechingly towards Nyota, then the cloud consumed her completely, and she was gone.

Sulu covered his mouth with one hand, feeling like he might be sick. The callous way that Krall had murdered two bound and helpless crewmembers in front of him and Nyota earlier had been sickening, but this… Such an icy, impersonal death for one of the most genuinely good people to walk the halls of the Enterprise… He looked up and met Nyota’s eyes across that chamber of death, and saw the same feelings of revulsion and horror reflected on her face.

And then the soldiers grabbed his arms, yanking him back outside and herding the rest of the crew along as well. But Krall had kept Nyota with him.

Shaken, Sulu leaned against the fence, clinging to the metal to stay upright. His head was pounding and he could barely see, but closing his eyes just brought the picture of Syl being consumed by the black cloud to the forefront of his mind.

“Lieutenant, what happened in there?” one of the science officers asked. “What happened to Lieutenant Uhura, and Ensign Syl?”

Sulu could only shake his head, unable to put into words what he’d just seen.

He didn’t know how long he stood there, trying to wrap his mind around the enormity of a weapon that could destroy living beings so efficiently, when he heard a low roaring that reminded him very much of a motorcycle, but that simply couldn’t be on a planet that humans had never set foot on…

And then he saw Kirk riding the motorcycle, a pretty albino alien clinging to his back. As he watched, Kirk slowed down, and the girl dismounted, dashing off. Kirk took off again, and soon Sulu was sure his eyes had stopped working because it appeared that at least a dozen Kirks on motorcycles were riding around Krall’s camp. Before he had time to really process that, Spock and McCoy were standing at the gate, picking the lock.

Sulu straightened up at once, meeting them at the gate as soon as it was open. “Commander,” he said to Spock, not bothering with any pleasantries. “Uhura, they took her.”

Spock’s lips thinned. Although he and Nyota had long since abandoned their relationship, they were still close friends, and Spock was not pleased to hear that she might be in danger. “Get the remainder of the crew to safety,” he said shortly, striding off to find her.

“Come on, let’s go!” McCoy exclaimed. “Move!” He gestured towards a large metallic circle, a metal disc clasped in his hand. Sulu snatched it from him. He immediately recognized Pavel’s handiwork, and he took a deep breath, pushing the sick terror to the back of his mind and embracing command once more.

“Stand in the circle,” he told the rest of the crew, handing the disc off to the nearest crewmember and taking a step back.

“No more than twenty!” McCoy called, checking someone’s injury to make sure that they didn’t require immediate aid.

One of Scotty’s engineering officers activated the device, and the twenty crewmembers vanished. Sulu couldn’t help but sigh in relief. They were heading somewhere safe, thank goodness. He immediately joined McCoy in herding the crew onto the circle, twenty at a time, to be transported to parts unknown. Every now and then, he looked around to watch as Kirk flew past on his motorcycle, and he saw the flashing white hair of his alien companion as she fought Manas, Krall’s second-in-command. Krall’s soldiers were shouting, but they seemed so distracted by Kirk that they were powerless to prevent the Enterprise crew from making their escape.

They were down to the last dozen or so crewmembers, and so McCoy and Sulu joined them on the large metal circle. Sulu braced himself for the familiar icy feeling of being teleported, but nothing happened. He glanced at McCoy, who was glaring mutinously down at his communicator.

“Ten seconds until transporters recharge, Doctor,” Scotty’s brogue coming in faintly through the comm.

“Wait for my signal!” McCoy barked.

“Doctor!” Scotty protested, but McCoy just made a disdainful noise.

“Damnit man, we’re not leaving without them!”

Sulu glanced around. He knew instinctively that McCoy meant that they weren’t leaving without Spock and Nyota, for surely Kirk had his own transporter signal beacon. And he agreed with the doctor that leaving the two officers behind was not an option. Even though Sulu wanted nothing more than to get away from this nightmare of a planet, he refused to do it at the expense of any crewmember.

Thankfully, before it became a pressing issue, Nyota appeared, with Spock at her side.

“You found her,” Sulu said, relieved that she had escaped Syl’s fate.

Nyota snorted. “I found him.”

Spock just shrugged, not arguing the truth of that statement.

Sulu looked around, and saw that they were being quickly approached by Krall’s soldiers, all holding weapons. “We need to go!” he exclaimed, wishing more than anything in the world that he had a weapon so that he could at least go down fighting and maybe get some of the crew to safety. Spock and McCoy had drawn their weapons at least, but before anyone could take a shot, Kirk came flying in on his motorcycle, whipping in a circle around his crew. They were quickly surrounded by something brown that Sulu at first thought was dust, but then he realized it was something he had never seen before. It appeared to be a gas or perhaps a very particulate solid, but then it solidified upon prolonged contact with the atmosphere, creating a wall that looked like brown glass all around them. Krall’s soldiers started firing their weapons, but the phaser beams bounced harmlessly off the surface of the strange substance. Sulu spared a second to wonder if Pavel had had a chance to examine this stuff, but then the transporter activated, and he watched the familiar golden light envelop all of them.

When they rematerialized, Sulu was taken aback to find himself on a starship. An old one, clearly, but a starship nonetheless. Baffled that there was a starship all the way out here, but accepting that of course the Enterprise crew would have found one if it was there to find, Sulu collected himself just in time to catch Pavel in his arms.

The younger man was wearing his Kelvin pod survival suit, and he looked tired, but none the worse for wear. Sulu wrapped his arms around his boyfriend, burying his nose in the other’s curls, just breathing and letting himself hold on. Sulu hated himself a little for not taking more time to worry about Pavel’s safety, but he’d been a prisoner and had been concerned about the survival of the crew whose fate he might have some say in protecting. He was sure Pavel would forgive him though.

Although he could have cheerfully stood there, just holding onto Pavel for hours, they had pressing matters at hand. They needed to get off this horrible planet, and they needed to get to Yorktown. Because Krall had been spying on Yorktown, and he hated the Federation, and now he had that horrific weapon… These facts had all been present in his brain, but the real implications crashed into him hard. He looked towards Nyota, who was standing close to Spock and McCoy, and he saw realization in her eyes as well. He pulled back, and Pavel let him, his hazel eyes shining with relief.

“Pav, we need to get Kirk. We need… Yorktown. They’re going to attack Yorktown.” Sulu could barely string the words together, the image of Miko and Andy and Kaylah swallowed up by a black mist and dissolving into nothingness was drowning him, but he needed to pull himself together.

Pavel’s hands moved soothingly up and down Sulu’s arms. “Da, ve are getting ze keptin, and ve vill go to Yorktown,” he promised. He gripped Sulu’s arm for a moment longer, then visibly pulled himself away, returning to Scotty’s side.

The chief engineer was yelling at Kirk to hit the beacon, but Pavel shook his head, there was no signal just yet. Sulu held his breath, but Kirk had a way of getting out of tight corners.

“Ah, dere eet ees!” Pavel exclaimed.

“Energize!” Scotty shouted.

And then the transporter room was filled with whoops of relief as Kirk and the albino alien hit the floor with a resounding thud, clinging to each other’s wrists for dear life.

“Okay, let’s never do that again,” Kirk groaned.

“I agree, James T,” the alien gasped, her voice heavily accented and her enunciation overly careful. Sulu raised his eyebrows, realizing that she was speaking very correct Standard without the aid of a translator, but he joined Nyota and Pavel as they hurried to help the pair to their feet.

“Captain, this thing he has…” Nyota exclaimed, but her voice shook, and she had to stop speaking.

Sulu broke in. “Yorktown. They’re going to destroy Yorktown.” And he surprised himself with how icy cold his voice was as he said that.

Kirk and the female alien were silent for a moment, then she turned to look over Sulu’s shoulder at Scotty. “You take my house. And you make it fly.”

Kirk also looked over Sulu’s shoulder in Scotty’s direction. “Scotty, can you get this this started?”

“What, started? Yes. Flying is certainly a different thing. These old vessels were built in space. They were not supposed to take off from the atmosphere.” Scotty’s accent became a little heavier as he studied his captain, seemingly searching for the words to make him understand.

“Make it happen,” Kirk replied, clearly not giving a damn what the laws of physics had to say on the matter.

“They’re called starships for a reason, captain!” Scotty exclaimed.

Kirk stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Why are you telling me this now?”

Scotty’s face twisted into a slightly chastised look of frustration. “Because I dinnae want to disappoint you, you know, in case you dinnae made it back.”

“How thoughtful of you, Mr. Scott,” Kirk said, his voice as dry as the desert.

“Captain,” Spock interrupted. He nodded towards one of the windows of the ship. Everyone turned to watch as a swarm of tiny vessels zoomed up into space.

“He’s launching,” Kirk observed, looking dismayed.

“The attack on Yorktown may be just the beginning. Armed with this bioweapon, he could rid it of all life, and then use the base’s advanced technology to attack an untold number of federation planets.”

A shadow passed over Kirk’s face, but it was gone almost immediately. “We’re just going to have to get this thing flying.”

“Ach, we cannae just jumpstart it, sir!” Scotty exclaimed, throwing up his hands.

But Kirk was staring right at Sulu as he said this, and the pilot nodded, understanding immediately. Kirk turned to look at Scotty, who looked stunned as he realized that their captain did, in fact, have a plan.

Several quick discussions about physics and the exact specs of the ship’s engine later, Sulu was following Pavel onto the bridge. Starship bridge design hadn’t changed too much since this ship was built, and the seats felt familiar at their console in the middle of the bridge. The only real difference was the extraordinarily clunky harness-type buckles they used to strap themselves into their seats. Knowing what was coming next, Sulu took an extra moment to make sure the harness was secure before he began studying the controls. Luckily, these were also similar to the Enterprise, and putting his hands on the familiar buttons and switches felt as much like coming home as being in Pavel’s arms did.

“Okay!” Pavel said with forced brightness, jarring Sulu out of his reverie. “All systems online. Dilithium chambers at sewenty percent and climbing. Primary subvarp engines are standing by.”

“Mr. Sulu?” Kirk said from the captain’s chair behind them. Sulu turned his head to look at his captain. “You can, you know, fly this thing, right?”

Sulu lifted an eyebrow and hoped his expression conveyed every ounce of deadpan that he was feeling at the moment. “You kidding me, sir?”

Kirk blinked at him, then nodded. “Fantastic. Scotty, how we looking?”

“Ready as she’ll ever be, sir,” the unmistakably skeptical chief engineer responded.

“That’s what I like to hear, all right,” Kirk said, cheerfully ignoring Scotty’s pessimism. “Bones, where are we with the crew?”

“I could use a functioning med bay, but otherwise we’re secure down here,” the grumpy medical officer replied over the comms.

Pavel leaned towards Sulu, or leaned as much as he could while strapped securely in his seat. “’Meester Sulu,” he whispered, slipping back into formal titles now that they were on the bridge and on mission, “ve hawe to achiewe terminal welocity in order for ze stabilizer to prowide lift. Are you sure dis drop is high enough to do dat?”

Sulu cast a slightly grim look towards his boyfriend. “We’ll find out.”

“Call it, Mr. Sulu,” Kirk exclaimed.

“Aye aye, captain,” Sulu acknowledged. “Mr. Chekov, be ready to hit the forward stabilizers on my mark, one quarter impulse.”

“Aye,” Pavel responded, his knuckles white on the lever.

The ship shook and groaned, low and fierce, but unmistakably lurched forward.

“One half impulse, Mr. Chekov,” Sulu said, his face set as he watched the readings on his console closely. The metal screeched in protest, but Sulu knew that the ship would hold.

“Aye,” Chekov acknowledged, and the groaning only intensified, and the ship shook and shuddered under the strain of moving after sitting in the same spot for an untold number of years.

“Easy, Mr. Sulu, let’s not break her in half!” Kirk said, his voice nearly as strained as the metal. Sulu ignored him, confident that the ship was holding, despite the unholy noises it was making.

The ship lurched forward again, balancing on the precipice of the cliff for what felt like an eternity before wobbling, tilting, and finally falling straight down to the ground below. Sulu heard Pavel’s sharp intake of breath, but he didn’t dare move his eyes from the console, not for even an instant, watching as the ship sped up even as the ground raced to meet them.

“Any time, Mr. Sulu!” Kirk yelled, but it was practically white noise in Sulu’s ear, nothing mattered but the numbers in front of him and the approaching trees and the adrenaline humming through his veins as he held the lives of his crew and the lives of all the citizens of Yorktown in the palm of his hand, even as his gripped his own controllers.

“NOW, MR. CHEKOV!” he shouted the instant they hit terminal velocity, so close to the ground, he needed Pavel to react to his voice the moment he heard it or they wouldn’t have enough lift and they’d crash to the ground, but Pavel had complete trust in Sulu’s judgement as well as fantastic reflexes, and they both hit their levers at the exact same moment. The ship screeched again, wobbled, then suddenly straightened up from its downward plummet to fly levelly. The crew was thrown back in their seats, and Sulu gasped as his harness slammed into his torso, knocking the breath from his lungs. But he recovered, turning towards Pavel and seeing the wonder etched on the younger man’s face as they broke through Altamid’s atmosphere, setting a course back to Yorktown.

“Ve did eet, you did eet, you really did eet,” Pavel whispered, his cheeks flushed with exhilaration. Then both of them turned back to the console, trying to force the ship to chase after Krall’s swarm at greater speeds.

“I’m picking up distress signals on every frequency coming from Yorktown,” Nyota said, quickly slipping back into professional mode. “Krall’s already started his attack.”

“Mr. Scott, what kind of weapons do we have?” He listened to the answer, though Sulu couldn’t hear it over the low whine of the ship’s engines. “Maybe we can lead them away. Give Yorktown time to get people to safety,” the captain said finally. Clearly he wasn’t satisfied with their choice of weapons.

Sulu glanced back. “We are horse and buggy compared to these things. We are barely holding together as it is, Captain.” He hated to admit it, but everyone could tell it was true. The ship had done well to break free from the atmosphere, now they were pushing it to the limit, and beyond. It would be a miracle if this ship made it to Yorktown even under the best of circumstances, much less while trying to chase down a much more advanced fleet of ships.

“Captain, the flight patterns of bees are determined by individual decisions. Krall’s drone formations are too complex not to rely on some form of unified coordination,” Spock said, frowning at his console. “I surmise…”

“Spock, skip to the end,” Kirk said impatiently. Spock’s lips pursed, slightly put out.

“What he thinks is that if we disorient the swarm, we can kick its ass,” Nyota put in. Sulu grinned, liking her train of thought.

“Precisely,” Spock confirmed.

“Scotty, can you beam me onto one of those drone ships?” Kirk asked.

Even with the whining engines and groaning metal, the entire bridge heard Scotty shout, “Have you gone completely mad?!”

“Yes or no?” Kirk snapped.

“No! Yes. Maybe!” was the agitated reply.

“Captain,” Spock interrupted, “I am familiar with the interior of those ships, that makes me more qualified for this away mission.”

“Spock, you’re still hurt,” Nyota protested.

“She’s right, Spock,” Kirk agreed.

“I acknowledge and respect your concerns,” Spock said, his impassive face going oddly softer as he looked at the pair. “Perhaps you will feel more confident if I were accompanied by someone with familiarity of both the ship and my injury.”

Kirk paused, looking torn between skepticism and amusement. “Oh, he’s going to love this.”

Pavel choked back a laugh, and Sulu was baffled until he realized that Kirk was hailing Dr. McCoy, and then he understood exactly what Pavel found so funny.

Chapter Text

Pavel Chekov was listening as intently as everyone else for the voices of Spock and McCoy from the drone ship belonging to Krall’s forces. The pair had been beamed over, despite McCoy’s vehement objections, and hopefully would be sending back a key for defeating the swarm.

Nyota went still, one hand going to her headset as she listened to the incoming transmission. “That was the signal! They weren’t jamming us, they were talking to each other!” she exclaimed.

“Well, how do we get them to stop talking?” Kirk asked.

“What about electromagnetic focusing?” Scotty asked. “We can use the transporter to disrupt the network.”

“The focus might be too specific,” Spock’s voice came over the comms for all of them to hear. “If we can plant some sort of disruptive communication signal inside the swarm, it might adversely affect their capacity to communicate.”

Chekov was already nodding. “It vould haff to be a frequency dey vill not anticipate.”

“It will cause a chain reaction that could wipe out the whole swarm,” Hikaru added, relief appearing on his face for the first time since he and Chekov had been reunited.

“Sir, a closed network like that might be susceptible to a very high frequency,” Scotty exclaimed.

“VHF…” Kirk murmured thoughtfully. “Radio. We can broadcast something from the ship to cut their links. Something loud and distracting.”

Scotty visibly perked up, his eyes bright with excitement. “Loud and distracting? Ah’ve got just th’ thing!”

Before very long, Scotty was hooking up what appeared to be a truly ancient radio to their speakers, with Jaylah hovering over him anxiously. “Do not break my music!” she exclaimed.

‘Break it?” Scotty asked, a laugh cutting through his voice. “You’re gettin’ an upgrade!”

Hikaru distracted Chekov from watching the banter with his tense utterance. “Krall’s ships are sixty seconds from breaking through.”

Chekov turned to look at the fragile-looking glass-like orb that held Yorktown. If the crystalline protective barrier broke, there were redundancies in place to protect the citizens from losing their oxygen or being sucked into unforgiving space. But there were no protections against the weapon. Hikaru had said little about the weapon, other than that it was capable of wiping out every living being in Yorktown. But Chekov knew his boyfriend, and knew that he was legitimately afraid of whatever Krall had in his possession.

Scotty swore out loud as the radio sparked and let off a muted bang.

“Let her do it!” Nyota exclaimed, standing over Scotty with her hands on her hips. Jaylah shot Nyota a considering look before diving into the mess of wires with supreme confidence. In only a few seconds, she leaned back with a smirk.

Scotty took her success in stride. “Captain, we are ready tae broadcast. The signal won’t travel far. We have tae get closer.”

“How close?” Kirk asked.

Scotty shrugged. “Very.”

Kirk accepted that answer. “Intercept course, Mr. Sulu. Put us right in the middle of that thing.”

Chekov watched the look of intense concentration slip back onto Hikaru’s face. He’d been wearing it a lot since arriving on the Franklin. “Aye sir,” Hikaru said grimly.

Chekov turned his attention back to the console. “Ze svarm ships are doubling back and forming an attack vawe, sir.”

Kirk looked pleased by the development, surprising no one. “We’ve got their attention. Hold steady, Mr. Sulu. Brace yourselves, everybody. Spock, stand by to drop out of formation. Scotty, are you ready back there?”

“Aye, sir.”

“Ready to broadcast at 57.7 Mhz,” Nyota added.

“Made your choice, lassie?” Scotty asked Jaylah.

The young woman nodded grimly. “I have the beats and shouting.”

Kirk’s grin was devastating. “Let’s make some noise,” he said softly as tiny ships swarmed around them, ready to dive in and utterly wreck their ship. Chekov felt a momentary spike of fear, these were the same ships that had so completely devastated the Enterprise, and the Franklin was being held together more by wishes than by actual physical construct.

Then the music started playing, a song that Chekov dimly recognized from late night ragers, an old classic… Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. He exchanged a glance with Hikaru, who looked surprised, but genuinely pleased by the selection.

“That’s a good choice,” Kirk murmured, echoing everyone’s surprise and delight.

As the music filled the bridge, Chekov couldn’t resist tapping his foot along to the beat, much as he tried to hold himself still. Watching the tiny ships around them swerve off course and crash into each other was nearly as satisfying as the music thrumming through his body. Glancing over at Hikaru, he saw that his boyfriend was even less restrained, first bobbing his head along to the beat, and then gradually moving his entire body in time with the pulsing music. Chekov tilted his head, hearing the echo of the music, and realizing that Yorktown had started playing the music as well, sending the swarming ships into a frenzy. Without their tightly-controlled method of communication, the ships veered off course, striking each other in brilliant firework displays. For a few minutes, there was nothing but fire and pounding music all around them, but finally the debris began to settle.

“You alright, Spock?” Kirk called into the comms.

“We are fine, Captain, but there are still three ships heading into Yorktown.”

Kirk’s face became grim once again. “It’s got to be Krall. Keep on him, Spock. Do whatever it takes to stop him from using that weapon.”

They guided the Franklin into Yorktown, cruising beneath the water of the river-like feature that Chekov had noticed during their first brief visit. He recalled wondering how deep the water really went, and apparently the answer was deep enough to accommodate a starship.

“Give me the schematics of Yorktown!” Kirk shouted, and Chekov called up blueprints immediately. “There, Yorktown headquarters!”

“Mr. Chekov, can you do a bioscan of Central Plaza?” Hikaru asked, his voice tight with worry.

“Aye, zey are clearing ciwilians,” Chekov assured him, wishing that he could offer more comfort right now, but know that the best thing he could do for Hikaru and his family was to continue doing his job.

“Bones, there’s a city plaza coming up, you have to make sure Krall heads for it. Just do it! Sulu, get us up there!” Kirk barked out.

“Hold onto something,” Hikaru said grimly. He yanked on several levers, and the whole crew was jarred as they exploded out of the water. The entire ship shuddered as the three enemy ships slammed into the belly of the Franklin, caught completely off-guard. They hit the water again with an almighty splash, but the forward motion and the added push by Krall’s vessels sent them flying forward until they were partly beached on the plaza.

As everyone caught their breaths, Chekov was typing at his console. “Keptin, I haff tree hull breaches from ze impact. Deck tree, ze cargo bay, and ze engine room.”

Kirk nodded, already on his feet. “Alright, Sulu and Chekov, check the cargo bay and deck three. We need confirmation that the weapon has been neutralized, and that Krall is dead.”

“Sir,” Hikaru acknowledged, also leaping out of his seat. Chekov followed, drawing his phaser even as followed Hikaru down to deck three.

The ship that they found on deck three was a crumpled mess, filling the area around them with smoke. Covering his face with his sleeve, Hikaru approached the ship while Chekov covered him with the phaser. After a moment, Hikaru shook his head, retreating to join Chekov. In response to Chekov’s questioning look, Hikaru simply said, “Dead.”

The cargo bay was practically pitch-black, only broken by a single flickering light. The smoke didn’t help either, and both men coughed as they searched for the ship. Following the smoke, they found the ship, and once again, Hikaru led the approach. This time, Chekov spotted a shape hulking near the ship, and he shouted a warning, firing his phaser at almost the exact same moment. Hikaru seemed to react on instinct, turning and firing in the same direction, and both phaser blasts hit the soldier, sending it crashing into its downed vessel, dead before it hit the ground.

“Thanks,” Hikaru said with a crooked grin, and Chekov nodded, feeling more than a bit grim. They still hadn’t found Krall, which surely meant…

“Sulu,” Kirk’s voice sounded over their comms. “Contact Yorktown security. Lock down the ship.”

“Shit,” Hikaru swore. “He’s loose on the ship!” And both of them bolted back to the bridge, with Sulu shouting in his communicator the whole way. They knew they’d be too late, the crew was already following evacuation protocol, and Krall had had ample opportunity to slip away.

Everyone split up shortly after, with Kirk chasing down Krall, Scotty and Jaylah heading to the controls for Yorktown, Spock and McCoy still flying about in their stolen vessel, and Nyota, Hikaru, and Chekov left behind to supervise the crew as everyone evacuated and was evaluated for injuries. They were a battered and weary crew, but they all mustered up a cheer when they received word from Scotty that Krall and his weapon had been safely neutralized, Kirk had survived his fight with Krall and near-ejection into space, and he, Spock, and McCoy were none the worse for wear after McCoy nearly crashed the alien ship onto the surface of Yorktown.

Chekov thought he would never forget Hikaru’s face when Andy appeared at the crash site, holding tightly to Kaylah. The pure relief etched there was beautiful to behold, and Chekov could only watch, spellbound, as Hikaru ran to embrace them. Miko arrived moments later, looking as though she’d run across the entire starbase to find her family. Watching them all embrace, tears of joy running down their faces, Chekov nearly wanted to look away. They had stopped Krall’s rampage, but somehow knowing that they had saved potentially billions of lives across the galaxy wasn’t nearly as potent as watching the faces of the people who were practically family to him as well. Chekov watched them until Hikaru turned, extending his arm in invitation for Chekov to join the group embrace, and he went willingly into their arms. There would be time later to digest what had happened, for now they would just celebrate being alive and together again.

~*~*~*~*

Hikaru Sulu clung to the reassuring weight of his little niece, not wanting to let go of her tiny body just yet. He’s been so afraid that his family would be slaughtered by Krall despite their best efforts, and he couldn’t quite believe that everyone in Yorktown was safe. Miko was sobbing in his ear, and Andy was murmuring comforting reassurances to all of them. And he could feel Pavel pressed against his side, and Sulu didn’t want him to move from there either.

“Everything’s fine, we’re all okay,” Sulu breathed out, shifting his weight to accommodate Kaylah as she reached out for her mother. Miko wiped her eyes before pasting a smile on her face as she reached out for her daughter.

“You made a mess, ‘Karu,” Kaylah said once she was safely in her mother’s arms.

Pavel snorted, but Sulu kept his face as solemn as possible. “We only made a mess because the bad man was trying to make a bigger mess, but we’ll get it all cleaned up,” he assured her. Accepting that answer, the little one began to squirm, ready to go back home now that the excitement was over. Andy grabbed his wiggling daughter and started leading her back to their apartment.

“Was it bad?” Miko asked, her hand clasping her brother’s wrist. “You both look…” She made a helpless gesture with her free hand.

Sulu glanced at Pavel, only to realize that his boyfriend’s eyes were fixed on him, waiting for him to answer the question. They hadn’t had even a moment to talk about their ordeal, didn’t have a clue what each other had gone through on that strange planet.

“It wasn’t good,” Sulu decided. “But we’re okay.” If he said it often enough, it would be true, he wouldn’t feel Krall’s hand on his neck, forcibly removing something that seemed very much like life energy. He wouldn’t see his own veins turning gray, wouldn’t see the twisted features of helpless crewmates killed in the exact same way he could have been if Syl hadn’t sacrificed her life for his. That’s what she had done, he was sure of it. She’d been marked for death the moment Krall had discovered she’d hidden his precious weapon right under his very nose.

Pavel and Miko were both still staring at him, and Sulu forced himself to smile reassuringly. Miko narrowed her eyes at him, but led the way back to the apartment and joined Andy in setting out dinner. Both Sulu and Pavel ate like they were starving, realizing they hadn’t eaten since the last time they were back at Yorktown. Then, though it was still quite early in the evening, Pavel trailed Sulu back to the bedroom they’d been given. They showered quickly, using real water instead of sonics, trying to scrub away the remnants of Altamid. After toweling themselves dry, they didn’t bother dressing, just collapsed onto the bed together. At first, they just lay with their legs tangled, trading lazy kisses as their hands wandered over each other’s bodies, checking for injuries, and reassuring themselves that they had both survived.

Sulu nipped gently at Pavel’s lower lip before ducking his head to bury his face in the crook of Pavel’s neck. The younger man ran his hand up Sulu’s back, then came to rest on Sulu’s neck, just over where Krall’s hand had gripped him, and Sulu couldn’t stop himself from shaking, reaching back to remove that hand and pinning it to the bed above Pavel’s head.

“What happened to you there?” Pavel whispered, his lips brushing the top of Sulu’s head with every word.

Sulu reached out, found Pavel’s other hand, and pinned that one above his head too. Only then did he lever himself upright enough to stare down at his boyfriend. Soft hazel eyes gazed at him with concern.

“Let’s talk about it later, okay?” Sulu whispered, fingers tangling themselves with Pavel’s. The other man nodded, and Sulu adjusted their hands so that one of his pinned down both of Pavel’s, then took advantage of his newfound freedom to wrap his hand around both of their cocks at once. Pavel moaned softly, his hips twitching a little under Sulu’s touch. They were both still a little damp from the shower, which wasn’t nearly slick enough, but Sulu kept moving his hand, while also pressing quick kisses to Pavel’s lips, face, and neck. Soon enough, precome was slicking his hand with every movement, and that made everything quite a bit more enjoyable. Pavel made the most wrecked sounds underneath him, little whimpers and moans that Sulu quickly smothered under more insistent kisses.

Pavel came first, his whole body arching up against Sulu’s, and his cries cut off under the press of Sulu’s lips. He continued jerking both of their cocks until Pavel’s soft noises became less about pleasure and more oversensitive. Releasing Pavel’s softened cock, Sulu continued his ministrations on himself, staring down at Pavel’s blissed-out expression before finally spending himself. Though he was tempted to leave the mess, Sulu knew that waking up would be unpleasant, so he grabbed a wet rag, cleaned them both, and then tossed the rag aside, mentally promising himself he’d deal with it later. Still feeling slightly hazy, he wrapped himself around Pavel, who had barely moved except to roll onto his side to accommodate Sulu. The young Russian was already nearly asleep, and Sulu decided to follow suit, burying his face again in Pavel’s neck until his boyfriend’s scent completely enveloped his senses and drove their last mission completely out of his mind.

It couldn’t last, Sulu knew that. Having gone to bed so early, they both were awake at an unseemly hour, and just lay tangled together, just breathing and existing.

“’Karu, vhen are ve going to talk about vhat happened?” Pavel asked after not nearly enough time. Then again, Sulu felt certain he wouldn’t be ready even after several months, maybe even years.

“Why do you want to talk about it?” he protested weakly.

“Ve haff alvays talked about it,” Pavel argued. “Bad tings happen vhen ve do not talk about it.”

Sulu said nothing, not sure if he should argue that this was a low blow or a valid point.

“I can start,” Pavel suggested. When Sulu continued to say nothing, Pavel took that as a cue and gave a quick summary of meeting Kirk, Kalara’s betrayal, meeting Jaylah, and the daring rescue mission. He downplayed his own work, but Pavel was crazy if he thought Sulu hadn’t recognized his boyfriend’s work the second he saw those transporters.

When he finished, Sulu took a deep breath. He was relieved that Pavel hadn’t gone through too much on Altamid, had been mostly safe aside from that run-in on the Enterprise. And he quickly raced through the capture, the escape attempts, Syl’s death.

Pavel was completely still when Sulu’s finished explaining that, too overcome to continue. “Vhy? Vhy did she do dat? Vhy did she tell him she had dat veapon?” Pavel asked, his voice shaking a little.

Sulu couldn’t begin to explain. But he had to try. “She… she did it to… She did it because Krall…” He gulped, fresh emotion washing over him. “You saw what Krall could do, right? Siphoning off life?” He felt Pavel nod against him. “He was going to do that. To me. He was killing me. When she stopped him. And then he killed her.”

Pavel was visibly shocked, eyes wide and mouth open. His fingers fluttered up to cup Sulu’s jaw, words failing him. “He… You… Hikaru…” he whispered helplessly. Then his expression hardened. “Did he hurt you badly?”

Sulu blinked. “It was… the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life,” he admitted. “But I don’t think it damaged me permanently.”

“Poor Syl…” Pavel whispered. They had not been close, but she’d always been friendly, and they’d always exchanged pleasantries. “I don’t… She saved you?” His fingers had landed on Sulu’s pulse point, and it seemed that the reminder of Sulu’s continued heartbeat was reassuring.

“She did,” Sulu agreed. “And I couldn’t save her.”

Pavel’s hand crept around to the back of Sulu’s head, pulling him into a tighter embrace. Sulu stiffened, again reminded of the contact between himself and Krall. But he took a deep breath, trying to make himself relax into it. Krall was dead, and he was alive, and Pavel was here.

And then they both heard a knocking at the door, and Kaylah calling out to them. “Uncles? Are you awake? Get up!” she shouted.

Pavel looked briefly alarmed, but Sulu just smiled. “Don’t worry, I locked the door,” he murmured, kissing the shell of Pavel’s ear. Then he pulled away, getting up to throw on some clothes. Pavel retreated to the bathroom just before Sulu opened the door, scooping up his still-knocking niece.

“Where’s Uncle Pavel?” she demanded when Sulu opened the door alone.

“He’ll be out in a just a second,” Sulu promised, scooping her up and walking towards the kitchen.

Miko was already there, drinking coffee and straightening her work jacket. She looked surprised when her younger brother walked in, and even more surprised that he was carrying her daughter. “Oh, Hikaru, I’m sorry. I didn’t even realize she was awake. I was letting Andy have a lie-in since she seemed to be asleep too.”

“It’s fine, Pavel and I were awake,” Sulu said, sitting down at the table and settling Kaylah in his lap.

“Da, vas no trouble to get up,” Pavel agreed, appearing in the doorway of the kitchen. His curls were in disarray, but otherwise he looked quite presentable. Miko smiled weakly at both of them.

“Still, this can’t be the sort of relaxing vacation you were expecting of your shore leave,” she said. “She’s a doll, but she’s still a toddler, and you guys didn’t come all the way here just to babysit.”

“Nonsense,” Sulu protested.

“You should find out how long it’ll take to get a new ship, and maybe spend some time in a hotel,” Miko insisted. “You’re always welcome here,” she continued, reading the look her brother was giving her, “but you should have some time to yourselves as well. I insist.”

Sulu glanced over at Pavel, who was sitting down with two mugs of coffee and a plate of toast. Pavel shrugged. “Ve can consider it,” he said.

Miko nodded as though everything had been settled. “I’ll find you a place. Just see how long you’ll be at the base, and maybe spend half the time at the hotel or something.”

Knowing it was useless to argue, Sulu nodded his agreement before helping himself to a slice of the toast.

True to her word, Miko did find them a lovely hotel room, something quite a bit nicer than Sulu probably would have picked, or that Starfleet would have picked for them. It had a truly massive king-sized bed, a tub that was large enough for half a dozen people, and too many amenities to count.

“This place is ridiculous,” Sulu said, setting down his bag.

“She vants us to haff a good time, it vould seem,” Pavel chuckled. Then he stepped right into Sulu’s space, their bodies nearly touching. “It vas wery nice of her to do dis for us. I tink it vill be nice of haff a leetle time togezzer. Avay from ozzer distractions.” His hand came up to rest on Sulu’s chest. “I haff spent so much time being vorried about you, it vill be nice to relax and know dat you are safe.”

Sulu blinked, oddly touched. “You were that worried?”

Pavel’s eyes narrowed a little, his gaze fixed on his fingers splayed across Sulu’s shirt. “Of course I vas dat vorried. Vhy not? You vere vorried about me, da?”

Sulu paused. Of course he’d been worried about Pavel, but… There had been Krall… and the crew… and the fear… and the escape attempts… and coming so close to dying… But Pavel had read something in his hesitation and now looked up to meet Sulu’s eyes.

“You vere not vorried?”

“I…” Sulu tried not to let himself pause again because apparently his silence had been an incorrect response. “I worried, of course I did, but… Pav, there was a lot going on where I was. Trying to stay alive and escape and all.”

“Da, I vas busy too. Trying to find you.” Pavel had taken a step back, and Sulu could feel the situation slipping out of his control.

“I know you were busy, and I’m really glad you rescued us. But I’m not… You weren’t THERE, Pavel, you hadn’t been taken captive with the rest of us, and there wasn’t a lot I could do! Worrying wasn’t going to make your situation any better, and I wanted to escape first, and then I could have worried about finding you!”

“So you only haff room in your head for one ting, making your plan?” Pavel asked, taking another step back.

“That’s not fair,” Sulu snapped. “I want you to be safe, but… I didn’t even know if you were alive, or where your pod had crashed, or anything! All I knew is that you weren’t with me, and that I couldn’t do anything about that while I was a prisoner!”

Pavel crossed his arms, seeming to struggle for words. He ducked his head, hiding his expression from Sulu, which only served to enflame him more.

“You have no room to talk, you know! If you’re saying this because you think I don’t care about you… You’re the one that’s spent the last few months changing the subject whenever I try to talk to you about…” The word marriage stuck in his throat, and he couldn’t force it out. “You were the one who was so eager to get into a relationship, but now you don’t want to talk about commitment! If you’re getting cold feet, just tell me, and quit playing around!”

Pavel looked up then, twin spots of angry red lighting up his cheeks. His eyes were dark with fury. “Do not turn dis around on me,” he snapped. “Eef you really tink my lowe for you is so fickle, den vhat are you still doing here?”

“That’s a great question,” Sulu snapped right back. “I’m going to take a walk.” And with that, he turned on his heel, striding out the door without looking back. He didn’t want to know whether Pavel reached out to stop him, or if he was just letting Sulu go.

Chapter Text

It was supposed to be a nice relaxing shore leave, their first one in months. They had both survived the horrors of Altamid, and they were staying in Yorktown for the foreseeable future, until a new Enterprise could be commissioned. Miko had been kind enough to book them a luxurious hotel room, so they’d turned off their comms and settled in for some real quality time together, well away from the prying eyes of the rest of the crew.

And yet, Pavel Chekov was sitting alone on the king-sized bed. And Hikaru was… somewhere else. Perhaps he’d walked back to Miko and Andy’s, perhaps he was just down in the bar having a few drinks, Chekov didn’t know. He tried to tell himself he didn’t care, but it was a lie.

They’d been arguing, and Chekov was still smarting over how quickly it had spiraled out of control. He’d been hurt to hear that Hikaru had barely thought about his well-being, even though Chekov’s rational brain told him that Hikaru had been in a direr predicament. Hikaru had been right when he’d pointed out that there wasn’t anything he could have done to find Chekov. And Chekov had been able to use his own worry to spur on his rescue efforts. Hikaru wouldn’t have had that luxury. But he’d still been hurt, so he’d lashed out, and he’d driven Hikaru to lash out in turn. And now they were having one of their few real fights.

Saying that their relationship had been a bed of roses over the last few years would have been a lie. They had their rocky spots, like any couple. But they always worked through it. Even when Chekov awkwardly deflected important issues. Even on the rare occasions when Hikaru would storm off to avoid confrontation, and Chekov would let him. Hikaru always came back… always. It was something that Chekov counted on, depended on really. Even as he sulked, he tried to pretend he wasn’t straining to hear that familiar tread coming down the hallway, back to their room.

Shaking his head, Chekov moved towards the bathroom, shedding his clothes on the white tiled floor as he moved towards the tub. He needed to relax, needed to lose the tension settling in his neck and shoulders. Running some warm water, he sank slowly into the soothing heat with a breathy moan of satisfaction. He sank into the water up to his neck, tilting his head back to rest it against the edge of the tub, and he sighed.

He’d been soaking for a comfortable amount of time when he heard the telltale swish of the door to the room, and Hikaru’s familiar tread hesitating nearby. “Pav?” Hikaru called, just the faintest note of uncertainty in his voice.

Chekov knew he should call out, but he was just starting to relax… opening his mouth now seemed like such an effort…

“Pavel?” More worried now. Then the door to the bathroom swished open, and Chekov lazily opened one eye to see his boyfriend standing there, eyes perhaps slightly wider than usual.

Now that he could see Hikaru in front of him, Chekov felt his annoyance rise to the surface again. “Go avay, I am still mad at you,” he said, settling more comfortably against the side of the tub.

One of Hikaru’s eyebrows went up, but he didn’t say anything for a moment. He took a few steps into the room and leaned against the sink, just drinking in the sight before him. “You could have answered when I called,” he said at last.

“Da, I could haff,” Chekov agreed, continuing to mostly ignore Hikaru.

“Don’t scare me like that again,” Hikaru muttered, crossing his arms and glancing away for a moment before sneaking another look at the tub.

Now Chekov focused properly on his boyfriend. “Did you tink I vas going to leawe you? After all dis time? ‘Karu…”

Hikaru didn’t answer at first. Then he looked at Chekov, carefully meeting his eyes. “I didn’t… not really. It was… a primal response, I guess you could say. If I had listened to my head… and my heart… for just a minute… I would have known you weren’t going to leave… Not over something small like that.” He paused. Chekov frowned, wondering what caused the small line of tension to appear between Hikaru’s eyes. But then a rueful smile appeared on his face for a moment. “I wanted to come back as soon as I walked out the door. I really am sorry, Pav.”

Chekov sighed, closing his eyes. “I know you are. I am also sorry.” He sighed. “I know dat I vas in ze wrong. At least until you opened your mouth.” Hikaru snorted quietly, but didn’t argue. “But I pushed too hard. I did not mean to. I really am sorry. And I know you are sorry. So, all is vell, da?”

Hikaru didn’t answer immediately, but Chekov heard the other man's footsteps crossing the tile floor, slowly approaching the tub. He waited, fully expecting to hear Hikaru removing his clothes and preparing to join him… but he didn’t. Instead, Chekov opened his eyes to see Hikaru snatch a bottle of shampoo from the low shelf next to the tub, open the cap and take a whiff. He made an appreciative noise.

“It’s not your usual… but I kind of like it,” he said quietly.

Chekov frowned at him. “Dat is hotel shampoo…. I vas not going to… I mean, I did pack…”

“I know,” Hikaru said, studying the bottle a little more intently than such an innocuous object deserved. Then he glanced over at Chekov. “Well, get your hair wet.”

“Vhy?” Chekov asked suspiciously.

“Because I asked you to?” Hikaru suggested innocently.

Chekov sighed, but ducked his head beneath the water long enough to get his curls sopping wet. He pushed them out of his face just as Hikaru’s hand landed on his shoulder, guiding him back towards the side of the tub. Chekov started to turn towards his boyfriend, but Hikaru met him halfway, leaning forward to capture his lips in a gentle kiss. It was over much too quickly though, and Chekov couldn’t quite stop the whine of disappointment.

“Shh,” Hikaru murmured, an affectionate smile crossing his lips. “There’ll be more of that later. Right now… just let me…” He squeezed a dollop of shampoo onto his open palm and then began to massage it into Chekov’s hair.

Chekov couldn’t quite stop himself from whimpering as Hikaru’s nimble fingers danced through his curly hair. The pressure was firm, but still perfectly gentle against his scalp, and not a single strand of hair was tugged as Hikaru worked the shampoo into every hair follicle. Even as he sank more deeply into the tub, he couldn’t stop himself from speaking. “You do not haff to…”

“I want to,” Hikaru murmured, one shampoo-covered finger tracing the delicate curve of Chekov’s ear. “You deserve to be pampered once in a while.”

“But… if dis is an apology…”

“It sort of is,” Hikaru agreed, now tracing down the front of Chekov’s throat, applying just a tiny amount of pressure to his Adam’s apple. “But I still want to do this… because you’re you, and you’re wonderful, and I don’t show you that enough.”

“But you do…” Chekov sighed. “You do by staying.”

Hikaru made a humming noise that Chekov hoped conveyed agreement before returning to shampooing Chekov’s hair.

“Dat feels amazing…” Chekov sighed, tipping his head back a little more. The very beginnings of his oncoming headache were vaporizing away under Hikaru’s deft touch. It was just the right amount of pressure, fingers moving in soft circles, tangling themselves in wet curls and untangling with infinite gentleness and only a minimum of hair pulling.

And then Hikaru dunked him under the water.

Chekov opened his mouth in reflexive protest but was rewarded with only a mouthful of water. His hands scrabbled to find purchase against the sides of the sunken tub with moderate success, and it was that leverage in combination with Hikaru’s hands at his shoulders pushing him back upright that led to Chekov breaking the surface again. Chekov spat out water, spluttering in indignation.

“You… you ass!” Chekov squawked, even as Hikaru snorted with laughter behind him. Chekov rubbed his hand across his face to brush away the excess water and twisted his body so that he could face Hikaru. His boyfriend was trying his best to look contrite, but his cheeks were red with the effort of suppressing laughter and his nearly-black eyes were glittering with his good-natured humor.

“I’m… I’m sorry, Pav,” Hikaru managed to snort, still trying with minimal success to keep from bursting into giggles.

“Do not say dat you did not mean to do dat,” Pavel threatened, pointing a finger reprovingly.

Hikaru ducked his head. “Just trying to lighten the mood.”

“Hm, I am pretty sure dat drovning your boyfriend is not a good vay to make joke,” Chekov said.

Worried that he had actually angered his boyfriend with the little stunt, Hikaru slid closer. “I’m sorry, Pav, you’re right, that wasn’t nice of me at all. Can we… maybe kiss and make up?” he asked with an almost sly smile.

Chekov let himself lick his lip as he pretended to contemplate the offer. Hikaru’s eyes were fastened on the movement of his tongue. Chekov finally reached out, one wet hand clenching the front of Hikaru’s black V-necked shirt and pulling him closer. Hikaru grinned in relief and leaned in, clearly hoping that Chekov was taking his suggestion literally. So he was especially unprepared when Chekov yanked his fully-clothed boyfriend into the water right alongside him.

Water splashed across the tiles and Hikaru’s hands scrabbled all over Chekov’s slick, wet skin before he managed to pull himself back out of the water. Black hair was now plastered to Hikaru’s skull, and he looked absolutely stunned as he blinked away the water and stared at Chekov, who couldn’t stop himself from grinning.

“Turnabout is fair play, ‘Karu,” Chekov told him, grabbing that soaking wet (and currently skintight) shirt again and this time dragging Hikaru in for a proper kiss.

“You little brat,” Hikaru gasped when they broke for air. “I oughta…” He cut himself off as he grabbed Chekov shoulders, attempting to force him back under the water, but Chekov was too quick, slithering out of his grip like an eel.

“I am brat?” Chekov exclaimed, splashing water in Hikaru’s face. “You started dis, do not lie!”

“I started it, and I’m going to finish it!” Hikaru declared, finally wiggling behind Chekov and wrapping one arm around his neck in a gentle chokehold, his other arm attempting to pin Chekov’s arms and forcing him forward towards the water.

Chekov quickly realized the futility of escaping this tight grip, as Hikaru had clearly learned his lesson in how hard it was to hold onto a slippery Chekov. So he threw all his weight backwards, and they both toppled backwards under the water. Hikaru’s grip loosened, and Chekov twisted himself around so that he was straddling Hikaru, trying to keep him pinned.

“I vill finish it!” he declared as Hikaru choked out a watery laugh, still thrashing beneath Chekov’s pinning hold. “Do you say uncle?”

Hikaru thrashed again, nearly unseating Chekov again, but the agile Russian gripped the edges of the tub and managed to stay in place. Hikaru’s hands gripped Chekov’s arms for balance and he finally went still. Both were panting and soaked from their battle, a red flush highlighting their cheeks as they stared at each other. Hikaru grinned boyishly up at Pavel, who felt his heart skip a beat.

“Yeah… yeah, uncle. Satisfied, Pav?” he asked, fingers tracing Pavel’s wrist.

Smirking Chekov sat back a little, his ass resting against Hikaru’s slightly splayed and still-clothed knees. Hikaru’s eyes traced down the length of Chekov’s smooth, nude body, and Chekov would have to have been blind to miss the hunger there.

“Da. I tink I like you right vhere you are,” Chekov declared, leaning down to capture Hikaru’s lips with his own.

“If we go to bed, I promise you can have me in this exact same position,” Hikaru wheedled.

Chekov pretended to consider this. “Vit less clothes?” he asked.

Hikaru’s grin was completely disarming. “Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Chekov gripped the much-abused shirt and hauled Hikaru upright, kissing him thoroughly. Then they both climbed out, realizing that their playful antics had emptied nearly half the tub. They both burst into giggles as they tossed several towels onto the floor to soak up the mess. Hikaru peeled the shirt off his body, and Chekov just watched as the bronze lines of the other man’s muscles were slowly bared for his perusal.

Hikaru’s hands went next to the waist of his pants, but Chekov stopped him, sliding the zipper down himself before shimmying the clingy pants down Hikaru’s lean legs. The boxers Hikaru was wearing were equally soaked and sticking to Hikaru’s skin, but Chekov made no effort to remove them just yet as he nudged Hikaru to step free from his pants.

“You’re such a tease,” Hikaru sighed, his hands fisting into Chekov’s sopping curls as Chekov sank fully to his knees.

“And you know you love it,” Chekov returned, his hands curling against the sharp V of Hikaru’s hips. Before Hikaru could reply, Chekov leaned forward, tracing Hikaru’s abs with his tongue. Hikaru made a soft breathy noise as he continued to gently grip Chekov’s curls.

Chekov dug his thumbs into Hikaru’s hipbones, continuing to explore Hikaru’s well-maintained abs with his tongue. He dipped his head a bit lower, his nose nudging against Hikaru’s cock and his warm breath ghosting against the fabric covering Hikaru’s thigh. Hikaru twitched as the heated air hit his rapidly cooling body.

“Stop teasing,” Hikaru begged, the last word coming out in a shuddering gasp. “Pav, please.”

Chekov just smiled against Hikaru’s boxers, then looked up to catch Hikaru’s eyes. Without breaking the eye contact, he straightened himself up, licking his lips. And then he opened his mouth, leaning forward enough so that his teeth gripped the waist of Hikaru’s boxers.

Hikaru’s breath caught as he watched Chekov pulled the wet fabric away from Hikaru’s skin. And with excruciating slowness, Chekov began to draw the fabric down around Hikaru’s rapidly hardening cock and past his thighs.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Hikaru Sulu had known that Pavel looked extremely pretty on his knees. The gorgeous younger man had never had a problem dropping to his knees in front of his boyfriend at the slightest provocation. Watching those gigantic hazel eyes peering up at him, framed by thick lashes, so full of innocence and love…. Those soft curls that made him look even more boyish, those curls that only Sulu was allowed to touch because Pavel trusted him to be only as rough as the Russian could handle… The way his lips would curve in a sly smile as he took Sulu’s cock in hand, the way his expression would become reverent as he brought Sulu’s cock to his lips, the way those lips flared around Sulu’s cock, and the way they would glint with saliva and cum if he brought Sulu to completion. The way Pavel would lick his lips in contemplation before tasting Sulu somewhere, his stomach, his thighs, his cock, it didn’t seem to matter, Pavel just seemed to love the way he tasted. Pavel was wickedly talented and terrifyingly devious when he wanted to be, and Sulu was more than happy to devote himself to the younger man. And even though they’d argued today, their first real argument in what felt like a lifetime, Sulu felt a warm sense of relief because Pavel couldn’t be too angry with him if he was so eager to strip Sulu’s boxers off with his teeth.

As much as he desperately wanted Pavel to suck his cock, Sulu took a heaving breath and cupped Pavel’s face in his hands as soon as the younger man had let the boxers fall to the floor and started moving back to his real interest. Sulu’s thumbs stroked Pavel’s cheekbones, mirroring the way Pavel’s thumbs continued to touch his hips.

“Pav…” Hikaru gasped breathlessly, “Pav, stop, let’s… let’s just go to bed, okay? Please?”

Pavel, good boy that he was, stopped at once. “If dat is vhat you vant,” he agreed, and Sulu gently pulled the other man to his feet and kissed him.

“It’ll be good. I promised you we’d go right back to our positions from the tub, didn’t I?” Sulu whispered.

Pavel shivered and then began pulled Sulu towards the bedroom. They continued kissing and touching each other as they moved, skin still wet and slippery beneath their fingers. Sulu hissed a command to the room controls, and the temperature rose a couple of degrees. Then he let Pavel spin them around and push him onto the bed. Sulu obligingly slid to the center of the bed, and Pavel followed eagerly, diving to capture Sulu’s lips once again.

“How do you want me, Pav?” Sulu asked in between breathless kisses.

“I vant you to lay still and let me ride you,” Pavel informed him.

Sulu barely managed to bite back a groan, one of his hands already groping for the lube in the bag next to the bed. Pavel batted him with his hands, driving Sulu to retreat to his prone position on the mattress.

“Still, remember?” Pavel’s question sounded more like a command than a question, and Sulu let it wash over him. Pavel taking what he wanted was something that never stopped being amazing.

Satisfied that his boyfriend wasn’t going to move, Pavel moved to crouch above Sulu’s spread legs. After coating his fingers generously with lube, Pavel reached back to start fingering himself, and Sulu swallowed with an audible click. As much as he would have loved the sight of Pavel slowly working himself open to accept Sulu’s cock, the slightly blissed-out expression on the young Russian’s face was even hotter.

“Pavel…” Sulu managed to whisper despite the fact that his mouth had gone dry.

“Nyet,” Pavel groaned out, pausing for a moment to catch his breath. “Do not touch.”

Sulu’s fingers clenched the sheet underneath him almost reflexively. “This how you’re going to punish me?” he asked, trying to sound petulant, but unable to stop the pleased curl of his lips.

Pavel shot him a coy look. “You ran off. And zen tried to drovn me. Tink you deserwe just a leetle punishment, don’t you?”

“I can take it,” Sulu returned, not arguing that he didn’t deserve it.

“Da, of course you can,” Pavel replied, leaning forward to gently peck Sulu’s lips. He pulled back before Sulu could even think about deepening the kiss. Then he groaned again, and Sulu bit his lip, wishing he could be stretching the younger man, crooking his fingers just how he knew Pavel liked it.

Breathless now, Pavel slid forward, his knees barely touching the outsides of Sulu’s thighs. Coating his fingers in more lube, Pavel ran his hand slowly up and down Sulu’s cock, making sure it was standing fully at attention, as though Sulu hadn’t already been almost painfully hard for several minutes now.

“Can I touch you yet?” Sulu asked, just to tease.

Pavel shot him a disdainful look. “Absolutely not. Hands to yourself until I say.”

Sulu pouted just a little exaggeratedly, just to make Pavel glare at him. But he couldn’t hold that expression on his face when Pavel squeezed his cock, not hard, but enough to make him pay attention. “Okay, okay,” he panted in surrender. “No touching.”

“Until I say,” Pavel reminded him almost gently. Sulu lifted an eyebrow, but then Pavel was sinking slowly down onto his cock, and that erased all coherent thoughts from his head.

“Fuck,” Sulu moaned, forcing his hips to stay still. Even though it had only been a few days, Pavel felt so tight again, and it took all of Sulu’s willpower not to just thrust up into him.

“Hmm,” Pavel hummed in agreement, sinking down another inch. Sulu forced his eyes open so that he could watch every little twitch in Pavel’s body, and he drank in the way Pavel’s eyes rolled back in his head a little.

“I like this view,” Sulu managed, sounding only a little ragged.

“You like me from all angles, do not lie,” Pavel teased, raking his nails down Sulu’s sides and making him arch his back and shudder. “Stay still.”

“Cruel. I can’t touch, I can’t move…” Sulu complained.

“Da, and you deserwe it, so be still,” Pavel admonished, pinching one of Sulu’s nipples in reprimand. Sulu flinched away, but couldn’t quite stop the way his hips stuttered at the treatment. “Be good, maybe I giwe you revard.”

“What could you possibly give me that’s better than what I already have?” Sulu asked, tipping his head back a little when Pavel clenched around his cock.

For a moment, Pavel was speechless in the face of such a blatantly sappy response, but then his hands were on Sulu’s shoulders, hauling him up for a desperate, sloppy kiss. Then he shoved Sulu back into the pillows before almost defiantly sinking down on Sulu’s cock until Sulu was fully sheathed inside him. “Must not be doing dis right eef you can still talk like dat,” he muttered.

“Oh, believe me, I’ll let you know if you’re doing it wrong,” Sulu retorted, and Pavel pinched both of his nipples that time. Then he tucked his knees firmly against Sulu’s sides and slowly rose up, until Sulu’s cock nearly slipped free, only to sink back down with agonizing slowness. One of his hands traced Sulu’s ribs, and Sulu nearly flinched, it was just barely on the right side of being ticklish.

“Dat is better,” Pavel soothed, and his free hand found Sulu’s hand on the sheets and tangled their fingers together. Then he moaned as his next thrust apparently dragged the entire length of Sulu’s cock along his prostate.

Sulu shivered again, wanting to thrust up and bring Pavel to completion with a litany of moans filling his ears. But Pavel had said no, so Sulu dug his heels into the sheets and forced himself to remain still.

“Mmmm… So good to me,” Pavel sighed, fingers now tracing their way down the sharp ridge of Sulu’s hip bone. “You vant to flip us? You could, you haff done it before. You vant to flip me onto my back and just force yourself deeper inside me and make me scream your name?”

“Fuck… yes… please…” Sulu gasped, a harsh whine tearing itself from his throat when Pavel deliberately clenched because it all felt so good, but it just wasn’t enough yet.

“Not yet,” Pavel whispered sternly. “Not yet. Still haff not been good enough.”

Sulu glanced down at Pavel’s cock, bobbing full and dark between his legs. “You’re about to cum, don’t tell me I’m not being good.”

“Ha! I am ze one doing all ze vork,” Pavel retorted, his hips shaking as he rose up and sank back down onto Sulu’s cock.

Sulu would have retorted that Pavel wouldn’t have to wait very long if he actually let Sulu help, but he knew better. He just lay back and watched the warm flush spread across Pavel’s chest, drank it in as Pavel took his own pleasure, and letting his own bliss wash over him like a slow-moving tide. Neither of them were going to orgasm with the tortuously slow pace Pavel had set, but that was fine, it wasn’t about racing across the finish line. It was the intimacy, seeing what he’d been frightened of losing, in some dark part of his mind that he shut away on Altamid.

“Come back, ‘Karu,” Pavel murmured, fingertips ghosting across Sulu’s cheek. “I need you here, vit me, okay?”

“I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Sulu answered, and the warm, loving smile that spread across Pavel’s face was worth a thousand deaths at Krall’s hands.

“Glad to hear it,” Pavel said softly. “So… maybe you fuck me til I scream, da?”

Sulu’s breath caught, and he hesitantly ran his hand up Pavel’s calf. Pavel tilted his head, waiting. Managing to breathe again, Sulu caught Pavel’s hips in his hands, and felt Pavel tense in anticipation of being flipped on his back. “Stay.”

Pavel blinked, nonplussed.

“Stay there. Touch yourself,” Sulu would have commanded, but there was too much of a plea in his voice. He felt Pavel go just a touch boneless on top of him, and took advantage by thrusting up, quick and hard. Pavel gasped, and the hand that had just started to circle his cock clenched, making the gasp peter out into a groan.

With Sulu now permitted to thrust up to meet Pavel’s movement, it didn’t take long for both of them to be gasping and shaking on the edge of completion. For a moment, time stood still as they balanced on the knife-edge of orgasm, then Sulu fell, almost in slow-motion, staring dazedly up at the ceiling as everything went just a little fuzzy around on the edges, and the sound of Pavel’s choked moan sounded as distant as the ocean’s echo in a sea shell.

When Sulu came back to himself, he was startled to see that Pavel had apparently gripped the base of his own cock to stave off orgasm, and had somehow not been dragged over the edge. They stared at each other, heartbeats echoing in Sulu’s ears.

“Why’d you stop?” he managed to ask.

“Vanted to vatch you,” Pavel teased, rocking his hips just a little. Sulu moaned, wanting to push for a second round, but being wise enough to know that it would be more painful than pleasurable. Smirking, Chekov readjusted his grip on his own cock and brought himself to orgasm only a minute later, painting Sulu’s chest with streaks of white.

Soft and pliant following the lengthy buildup, Pavel was easy to nudge down into the waiting blankets. After peppering his closed eyelids with feather-light kisses, Sulu forced himself in the direction of the bathroom. He took a moment to admire the white splatters contrasting with his flushed skin, and the rumpled bedhead that completed the debauched picture. Snatching one of the wet towels from the floor, he quickly brushed away the evidence of their coupling, then selected a different towel to bring out to Pavel.

The young Russian was still curled on his side, hazel eyes half-closed, but finding Sulu as soon as he emerged from the bathroom. A satisfied smile fluttered lazily across Pavel’s face as Sulu approached. Still too relaxed and sated to be of any real use, Pavel just allowed Sulu to manhandle him, cleaning him efficiently before depositing Pavel back into the best possible position for Sulu to wrap himself around his boyfriend. Once the sheets were pulled around their flushed bodies and Pavel’s head was comfortably pillowed on his chest, Sulu let his guard down. There were no threats in this warm, dimly-lit room that now had a faint scent of sex lingering in the air.

Pavel’s breathing was slow and steady, but too quick to indicate that he was falling asleep. The hurt feelings from the fight had been washed away, but both of them were acutely aware that they hadn’t taken the time to properly talk. A thousand thoughts darted across Sulu’s mind as he tried to decide what he wanted to talk about first. But what actually escaped his mouth surprised him.

“Pav, let’s get married.”

Pavel snorted, and Sulu didn’t have to look at him to know that the younger man was rolling his eyes. “Da, sure, okay,” he agreed sarcastically.

Sulu licked his dry lips, wondering where that had come from. He’d been wanting to talk about this for a while, but just blurting it out… But the more he let it linger, the more he felt the need to keep pushing. “I’m serious, Pavel. Marry me. Please.”

Pavel actually chuckled. “Sure, name ze date,” he chortled, nuzzling his cheek against Sulu’s bare chest.

Sulu thought he might lose his nerve if this went on any longer, and he had to swallow hard before he could force the words out. “Now. Right now. Let’s get dressed and go find someone to marry us. This is Yorktown, there’s gotta be someone who can marry us.”

Pavel was silent for several painful heartbeats. “You’re being serious.”

“As a heart attack,” Sulu agreed.

Pavel twisted and sat up so that he could look down at Sulu. “Hikaru, I need you to listen to me, okay? Listen to all ze tings I haff to say, you promise?”

Sulu nodded, unable to allow himself to think about why Pavel was scrutinizing him so closely.

“Nyet. Ve are not ready to get married yet.”

Sulu’s stomach dropped, and he looked away, shifting a little in their bed as he tried to decide what excuse he could use this time to escape the suddenly stuffy room. But a firm hand landing on top of his hand stopped him, and then Pavel’s other hand was cupping Sulu’s chin, forcing their eyes to meet.

“You are not listening to eweryting I haff to say. You promised.”

Sulu nodded, feeling numb and a little sick to his stomach. He should have known, should have picked up on the way that Pavel kept pulling back every time Sulu had even tangentially turned their conversations towards marriage, should have seen it coming and backed off, but how was he to know when Pavel had always been the one pushing so hard for their relationship to work?

“You do not vant to get married.”

“What?” Sulu snapped back to the present, staring helplessly into Pavel’s gentle eyes. “What are you talking about? Of course I do. Of course I want to marry you. I love you!”

“I lowe you too, but dat does not mean ve need to get married,” Pavel said with a shrug. “I haff alvays meant vhat I said, ‘Karu. I vant you to be happy. And if dat means dat you do not vant to get married, ve do not haff to get married.”

“But…” Sulu’s protest died on his lips. Pavel saw right through him, and he would know without Sulu even having to say it that his chest got a little tight with fear every time he thought about getting married. Not as much as it had, they’d had a stable relationship for several years now, and Sulu genuinely couldn’t imagine life without Pavel by his side anymore. “But that’s what you want, and why is it fair for me to get what I want, and for you not to get what you want?”

Pavel sighed, leaning close enough for their foreheads to touch. “I just vant to be vit you. I do not need ze ring and ze vhite picket fence and ze tree children and ze dog.” He paused, then added, “And maybe someday you vill vant to ask to me to marry you because you vant to, and not because you tink I vant to.”

Touched, Sulu reached out to cup Pavel’s cheek gently, his thumb skating gently over Pavel’s soft skin. “I think I can do that. Hopefully someday I’ll be wise enough to know the difference.”

“I beliewe in you,” Pavel replied, the gentle smile evident in his tone. “And I hope zat next time you propose, you find a better time zen right after a big fight. Not a good time,” he teased.

Sulu laughed, snatching a pillow and hitting Pavel’s shoulder with it. “You’re such a brat.”

“And you haff terrible timing, vat kind of person proposes right after a fight? Must be same person who tries to drovn me after a fight!”

Sulu hit him with the pillow again, and Pavel dove to try to tickle Sulu’s side, and they wrestled on the bed for a few minutes before flopping down side by side. There was silence except for their panting and the occasional breathless giggle.

“Vould Miko and Andy be able to come back to Earth if ve get married?” Pavel asked finally.

“Miko would tear off her own face before she missed our wedding,” Sulu laughed. “So she’ll cross the entire solar system if she has to. Would you prefer to get married on Earth?”

“It vould be easier for my parents. Dey haff newer left ze planet. My mama might, but my papa… I do not tink he vants to trawel.”

“Hm,” Sulu hummed. “We could do it. Or we could just elope. We could ask Kirk to marry us quietly. Secret wedding.”

Pavel nodded solemnly. “Da, ve should ask Keptin Kirk to keep a secret. Dat vay, it vill stay quiet for maybe four seconds before he tells ewery single person in Starfleet.”

“Good thing neither of us have family in Starfleet then.”

They stared at each other for a moment, then both burst into laughter. Breathless and still chuckling, Sulu leaned in to kiss Pavel, and they took turns swallowing each other’s laughter and enjoying the closeness because it didn’t really matter where they got married or who was there or even if they got married at all because they were together. No matter what Starfleet, their families, or their lives had in store, they’d be fine because they were going to fight to stay together, no matter what.