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Someone to Lean On

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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.