Pairing: None; Chekov, ensemble
Summary: Chekov was fast-tracked at a young age, but life caught up with him one day.
A/N: For devohoneybee , who always listens, but this time, shed a tear.
Chekov was a wunderkind at an early age, able to manipulate numbers and formulae at a pace that had amazed his instructors. Fast-tracked, he set his sights on Starfleet; he'd always wanted to go into space. It was inevitable, like the sun and the moon, his family said--little Pasha was destined for the stars.
Starfleet grabbed him with greedy hands as soon as they could; Pavel was fifteen. He tested out of most lower- and mid-level physics and math courses, rolled through the minimum amount of history and soft sciences they allowed, and cut his teeth on as much higher-level physics and math as he could jam into his schedule. He flew past the rest of his class in stellar cartography and transporter theory, and Starfleet protocol and history was absorbed in his sleep; it wasn't as if he hadn't been reading and planning on his path for over eight years.
Those who were skeptical about his age and maturity were in the small minority; Pavel handled everything they threw at him with a wide-eyed eagerness and a genius-level mind. They fast-tracked him into an Ensign position and slotted him for the new fleet flagship, Enterprise. When Enterprise readied to respond to a planetary distress call in lieu of its official pomp-and-circumstance maiden voyage, Pavel Andreievich Chekov sat bright-eyed and ready at his station on the bridge, excited to be tasked for such a responsible position. He felt confident he was ready for anything Captain Pike needed from him.
Until he watched that one signal degrading and disappearing on the transporter screen, saw the newly solidified figures of Spock, his father and a few other Vulcans, all dirt- and dust-splattered, hollow-eyed with obvious, painful shock...and the weight of responsibility fell hard on his thin shoulders, roiling in his stomach.
Silence echoed loudly in the room for long moments, everyone still as statues as disbelief warred with horror on all faces. The silence was only broken when the comm chirped.
"Bridge to Mr. Kirk. I've engaged sublight engines to avoid getting caught in the gravitational well being created as...as...." Lt. Pierson's voice faltered.
As Chekov worked to keep his gut from emptying, he heard James Kirk clear his throat and shift, reaching over Pavel's shoulder to the comm button on the panel. "Hold station at a safe distance, Lieutenant." Kirk's voice sounded horribly raw. "And scan the area immediately to look for any ships out there. We might be able to use transporters to effect rescue. Relay that information here as soon as you can. Kirk out." He ended the comm and pushed another switch. "Kirk to transporter chief, please report to transporter room one immediately."
"Aye, on my way."
"Sulu, they could probably use you on the bridge after you clean up," Kirk said quietly.
"Give me your jump suit, I'll take care of it," Sulu offered just as quietly.
A hand fell on Pavel's shoulder, warm and startling, as Kirk leaned on him while stripping the suit off quickly. A rustle, then footsteps padded out of the room. Kirk cleared his throat again. "Captain, perhaps everyone should clear the transporter pad. Uh...sickbay might be a good idea."
Pavel had never seen the Vulcan officer look so shaken or emotional before. Devastated. He looked devastated. His whole planet just died. His mother....
Spock blinked at Kirk as if he was only just registering his presence. "Sickbay. Yes, Mr. Kirk, that...that is logical."
The med tech who'd been summoned earlier to check out Kirk and Sulu stepped forward. "Please, follow me." She refrained from touching the elderly Vulcans, but hovered closely as they stepped down from the pad. Slowly, they walked from the room as if in a trance, the Captain at the rear. He hesitated beside Pavel and Kirk.
"I, I should be on the bridge. There are--"
"Captain. Spock," Kirk broke in. "Pierson, Uhura and Sulu have it covered for now. Let Dr. McCoy check you out first."
Spock frowned, his eyes tracking Kirk's waving hands. "I will go and make sure my father and the elders are settled properly, then I must get to the bridge. You, however, must receive treatment for your hand."
Pavel glanced up to see Kirk's fingers red and swollen from some injury. Kirk glanced down at his hand also, as if just noticing it.
"Okay." He grimaced as he flexed his fingers. "I'll be right behind you once the chief gets here."
Spock nodded. "Very well." He paused, as if to say more, then simply walked out of the room.
Pavel thought of his mother, safe at home back in Novgorod. His hands started to shake and he fisted them tightly against the edge of the controls. He had lost a woman, lost somebody's mother, lost Spock's mother. His skills weren't good enough. They'd sent him out here not fully prepared. There had been other things he could have tried, Bozhe Moy, he'd just killed a woman--
"Stop it." Hands rattled his shoulders, snapping his head back up.
Kirk stood over him, gripping his shoulders tightly. "Chekov, whatever you're thinking, you've got to stop it. You saved Spock, you saved five other elders, lives that would be gone right now if you hadn't acted quickly. You saved Sulu and me. You're going to save more people in the future. Right now, you're going to pull yourself back together and get back to the bridge, because, Jesus, it's not over yet. We all need to keep our heads together. You hear me, Chekov?"
Chekov took a deep breath, nodding. "Aye.... Aye, sir. Thank you."
Kirk snorted. "Jesus, Chekov, thank you. I'd have been nothing but bug splatter in one more second. Now go...here's the chief to take over the board."
Chekov nodded again, scrambling out of the seat. He met the eyes of the man walking in the room and nodded, moving past him and out at a fast walk.
Kirk's words echoed in his head all the way down the corridor to the bridge. By the time he'd murmured to his replacement and slid into his seat, he was actually starting to believe them a little.