Sulu was the first to notice Chekov in a dark corner of the sickbay, poring over a thick stack of basic sex education pamphlets. Or at least, he assumed he was the first person to notice. Maybe he was just the first one brave enough to ask Chekov why he needed Sex Education 101.
“Hikaru!” Chekov exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
The correct answer to that question was I think Nurse Chapel's hot, so sometimes I make up injuries when I know she's on duty. He wasn't about to say that though.
“I was looking for you,” he said instead. “You missed the after dinner poker game.”
“Ah, yes. I was...absorbed in my research. To tell the truth, it is not going well.”
With a disgruntled sigh, Chekov tossed the pamphlet onto the table between them and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands.
“They are more alarming than informative,” he muttered without removing his face from his hands.
Sulu picked up the discarded brochure and flipped through it until he discovered a photograph of an oozing, swollen penis. At which point, he threw it down on the table and closed the cover hastily.
“Uh, yeah, alarming is the word.” He picked the brochure up again, more cautiously this time, and inspected it for a copyright date. If it was paper, it had to be ancient. “Look, Chekov, I think this is kind of outdated. I mean, if you keep up with your vaccinations and take some basic precautions...”
“With the help of modern medical technology, the chances of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection are relatively low,” Chekov recited impatiently. “Yes, yes, I know.”
Sulu gestured at the rest of the pamphlets, one of which was open to a diagram of the male reproductive system.
“But you know all of this, right? Like how a man and a woman -- ”
“It is not biological problem,” Chekov declared, looking a little defiant. “I understand how the act is performed.”
“Then what is the problem?”
“I was thirteen when I came to the Academy. And I was not so tall, and my voice had not changed. Everyone else had already tried...things. Many things, I think, with different people. And I cannot ask these people questions who already know so much. I'm supposed to be genius, you see?”
“Yeah,” Sulu said. Chekov's words had come out in a rush, and to tell the truth, Sulu couldn't quite see how everything was connected. But he understood the pride and fear and feeling inexperienced. He was actually sure every male in the entire galaxy understood that, which made it kind of stupid that they all pretended not to. But how to put that into words while Chekov was looking at him expectantly...
“My dad wasn't really around when I was a kid. I mean, my mom was awesome, and my aunts, and my grandma, but...”
“You did not really have role model to answer your questions?”
“Right. My mom said I could ask her anything, but you know, I was fifteen. And I had this aunt who was young and a lesbian, and I wanted to ask her stuff, but I worshiped her so hard...” He trailed off, remembering his twenty-three-year-old aunt and her glamorous girlfriends. He wanted nothing more than for her to think he was smart and mature and worth her time, and he could never have admitted to her how confused he was about girls and sex and dating. Which, okay, was maybe how Chekov had felt about absolutely everyone at the Academy. He cleared his throat.
“Look, Pavel, if you have questions, you can ask me.”
Sulu hoped to god he didn't sound as terrified as he felt. Because Hikaru Sulu was not a role model or a sex god. Yeah, he'd gotten laid, maybe not as much as the captain, but a lot. Being a bad ass pilot with a homemade sword and martial arts skills was good for that. But that did not mean he was qualified to provide the sum total of a seventeen-year-old's knowledge about sex. He tugged at his collar, wondering if he should have just called Gaila when this whole thing started.
“Anything?” Chekov asked, looking wary.
Sulu forced himself to look the younger man in the eye.
If it were his sister, seventeen years old, off by herself on a starship...he would kill anyone who touched her. Or who even told her what sex was. No, that wasn't right. He would kill anyone who left her alone to figure it out.
Sulu thought his offer was pretty generous, considering the amount of potential discomfort and embarrassment involved, but Chekov still looked miserable.
“The problem is, I do not have exact question. I need guide.”
“Like a tour guide?”
Sulu felt his voice growing high-pitched, the way it sometimes did when he was scared, even though he tried really hard to prevent it.
“No. I do not want to be defiled in Risan sex shop. I want systematic and empirical guide. You know, like for the warp field navigation class. But for sex.”
Chekov smiled as if this were the most logical request a human being could make, and Sulu wondered if he was better off sending the kid to Spock.
“Okay,” Sulu said slowly. “Guide to having sex with...” He faltered. He didn't want to sound insensitive, and according to Starfleet diversity training, he shouldn't make assumptions about who – or what – Chekov wanted to have sex with.
“Well, what sort of being doing you want to have sex with, exactly?” he finished lamely.
Chekov narrowed his eyes.
“Not being. I do not wish to have sex with non-corporeal entity. I am not Captain Kirk, you know.” He paused, considering. “I wish to have sex with women, human women. Maybe others later. But I think now is best to focus on one category. So tell me, what do you know?”
Sulu squirmed uncomfortably. He had never been the kind to brag about his conquests, and having this conversation made him realize the sheer impossibility of distilling sex into some kind of how-to manual. He didn't want to let Chekov down; the kid had been there for him in all kinds of life-threatening crises, and he figured that he owed him more than just a shot of vodka and a pat on the back. Which didn't make the question any easier to answer.
“Well, the thing is, it's not the kind of thing you can make a guide for. Different women like different things, and different people are good at different things.”
He stood up, gathered the multi-colored brochures, and tossed them into a recycling tube so they couldn't frighten any more innocent or confused young ensigns.
“Come on Chekov, the only way you're ever going to understand this is by getting out in the world and doing it. The answers aren't written down. We're going to get you laid.”
Not that he had even the slightest clue how to do that.
In the end, Sulu did what he always did when he didn't know how to do something: he asked Gaila. A lot of people thought she was all about sex, but she knew more than that. How to assemble phasers with her eyes closed, how to jury-rig navigational systems without explicitly violating Starfleet regulations, and how to obtain all kinds of goods and services that were not technically legal in the Federation. In other words, Gaila was cool.
She answered the door on his first chime even though she was only wearing a bra and panties. A metal bra and panties. Sulu realized earlier how wrong he had been: Gaila wasn't just cool, she was awesome.
“I need some help,” he said without preamble. Gaila could always sense when people wanted something anyway. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him appraisingly, and he could practically hear her calculating what sort of profit she could make on this.
“It's not what you think,” he said hastily, even though he really did want that antique Romulan fighter jet she had mentioned a few weeks ago. He just wasn't clear on whether possessing it could get him kicked out of the fleet. “I need to get my friend laid.”
He ducked just in time, and Gaila's hand sailed over his head, just barely ruffling his hair. She advanced toward him, glaring so hard he thought he might vaporize.
“Not that!” he exclaimed hastily. “I mean...I know you're not like that. I just need advice. I don't know how to get a socially awkward seventeen-year-old boy genius laid. He keeps talking about empirical data and systematic guides and stuff.”
Gaila looked confused.
“Are you talking about Chekov? Why don't you just have sex with him? That's the polite thing to do, right?”
“Uh...I...not for humans.” He did not, as a rule, have sex with people his sister's age. He wasn't sure whether Gaila understood that sort of thinking, so he added, “Anyway, he wants to have sex with women first. He's dividing the project into categories.”
“Hm. Someone like that needs a procedure to follow, but sex can't be reduced to an instruction manual...” Her words faded to unintelligible mumbling, and she began pacing in front of the six long windows that lined her wall. Sulu wanted to ask how an ensign had finagled a single berth with a view, but he was distracted by the sight of her bottom in the metal underwear. He wondered how she put it on, or, more importantly, took it off...
“I've got it!” Gaila exclaimed. “How do you plan a mission?”
Sulu rattled off the steps without even thinking.
“Define objectives, identify mission parameters, determine methodology, develop contingency plans.”
“Exactly!” Gaila bounced, which she always did when she was excited, and her breasts jiggled in the metal bra. Sulu forced himself to look away. “You can do that for sex too! He can decide what he wants to do first, and who he wants to do it with, and when... And he can come back to you and report when he's finished. You'll be his sex captain.”
Sulu was never going to be anyone's sex captain, but he didn't correct her; her smile was far too bright, and her eyes were far too excited. Not to mention he had a feeling that Gaila thought being a sex captain was very, very admirable, and he wanted her admiration. A lot.
They developed the mission plan in Sulu's quarters over a bottle of vodka two days after they learned that two men with sword and a broken phaser were not a match for six Klingons with blaster rifles and bat'leths. The downside was that they groaned like old men every time they moved or breathed; the upside was that medical leave was an awesome opportunity to get drunk with no repercussions.
“Mission objective: to engage in sexual activity, including but not limited to intercourse, with human female,” Chekov said, his accent even more pronounced than usual after hours of drinking.
“Parameters: all parties must be honest about desires and intentions. Alcohol consumption is permitted, but neither party should become intoxicated.” Chekov glanced up from his padd, where had been outlining the mission on the standard form. “Sounds wery official, no?”
Sulu nodded, and the room began to spin slightly in response. It really wasn't fair how Chekov could drink so much and still talk and write and make sense and stuff. Sulu poured him another shot. Chekov downed it without hesitation and returned the glass to the table with a decisive clink. His accent was bordering on incomprehensible now, but his hand was still steady as he wrote on the padd.
“Methodology: to go on at least three dates with kind, attractive female.”
They had decided on this much earlier, when both of them were still sober. People hooked up on starships all the time, but since this was Chekov's first time, they figured it would be safer if an emotional connection were established first. The Enterprise rumor mill could be pretty vicious, and if something embarrassing happened, they didn't want someone who would kiss and tell.
“Contingency plan: to have one night stand on shore leave with non-Starfleet personnel.”
Chekov snapped the stylus back into its holder, looking satisfied. He poured them both another shot.
“I am highly qualified Starfleet officer. I have never failed to achieve my mission. One month from now, I will no longer be virgin.”
Sulu raised his glass in the air.
“To getting laid.”
They both downed their shots.
Sulu fell asleep.
“I have found target,” Chekov declared triumphantly two days later. They were still on medical leave, though by then, they had forsworn vodka. Sulu barely looked up from the diagram of the antique Romulan fighter jet he was perusing; by now, he had heard Chekov assess the physical and emotional characteristics of just about every woman on the ship, and it was getting old. Chekov continued undeterred.
“Her name is Tonia Barrows. Yeoman Tonia Barrows.”
“She has really nice legs,” Sulu said.
“I am attracted to her smile and her sense of humor.” He paused. “Also, I like red heads.”
“I would say her hair is more auburn.”
Sulu still wasn't looking up from the fighter jet. If only he could find a place to store it. A very, very secret place to store it...
“This detail is unimportant,” Chekov said. “It is important now that we construct plan for research.”
By research, Chekov really meant using the last of their medical leave to conduct surveillance, which was actually just a euphemism for inconspicuously stalking Yeoman Barrows. Admitting that creeped Sulu out though, so he tried to take Chekov's advice and think of it as research. In two days, they had learned that Barrows ran in the gym before every shift, that she ate scrambled eggs for breakfast, she usually skipped lunch, and she liked to hang out in the ship's holograph gallery in the evenings. They also confirmed that she really did have nice legs, although Chekov continued to pretend not to care about that.
They even came up with a really good plan. Chekov ran in the mornings too, and although Sulu felt dirty for admitting that he'd noticed, Chekov also looked damn fine in a pair of gym shorts. They decided that Chekov would work out in the morning, then join Barrows on her run. Hopefully, he could jog ahead of her long enough for her to notice his best assets, at which point she would eagerly agree to visit the holo gallery with him at the end of her shift.
Then, the day before they could execute the plan, Sulu, Dr. McCoy, Captain Kirk, and Yeoman Barrows beamed down to an unexplored Earth-like planet. It was idyllic until the planet read their minds and delivered their wildest – and most dangerous -- fantasies. Sulu got some really cool twentieth century guns, Kirk got into a fist fight with an Academy rival, and Dr. McCoy got stabbed in the heart while trying to defend Yeoman Barrows from a knight on a horse. Not even Gaila thought Chekov could compete with that, so they decided to initiate the contingency plan: have a one-night stand on shore leave.
“It will be alright,” Chekov said, looking at Sulu's sorrowful face. “Shore leave is not so far away.”
Sulu didn't have the heart to explain that he was really disappointed because he'd been to a planet with the ability to fulfill wishes and he had received neither a fighter jet nor Gaila in a metal bikini.
One day later, Starfleet received the incident report from the mind-reading, dangerous-wish-fulfilling planet and banned recreational missions to unexplored worlds.
Two days later, Chekov realized that this meant there would be no shore leave for six months.
Three days later, Chekov formed a brief but powerful crush on Yeoman Rand.
Five days later, Yeoman Rand kneed Captain Kirk in the groin when some sex pollen made him slap her ass. Captain Kirk threw up in an inconspicuous corner of the bridge.
“I do not think I will try to have sex with her,” Chekov whispered, crossing his legs protectively.
“Yes. Wait for shore leave,” Sulu said, nodding emphatically. “Six months isn't too long.”
They got a lucky break when a Klingon attack damaged the Enterprise badly enough to demand six days in dry dock. Sulu hurt for the battered hull and broken engines. Chekov looked delighted.
“The mission continues,” he said with a wink.
Two days into their shore leave, Sulu awoke at 0130 hours to the sound of his urgently ringing door chime. He tottered sleepily to the door, grateful he hadn't fallen asleep in his underpants.
Chekov stood on the other side of the door, looking forlorn.
“What happened?” Sulu asked, eying the half-empty bottle of vodka dangling from Chekov's right hand. Another one, completely full, was nestled in the crook of his elbow.
“I met girl. As you said, I took her back to my guest quarters. You know, with big window. And I offered her wine -- not wodka – and I told her about the starlight and the snow back at home in Sankt-Peterburg. I have not seen the snow on the banks of the river two years now, you know...”
Chekov heaved a great sigh and took a drink from the open vodka bottle without dropping the other one resting in the crook of his elbow. Sulu thought it was an impressive move, although now wasn't really the time to say it.
“She was going to have sex with me. I know it.” Chekov's voice dropped almost to a whisper. “But Hikaru, I...I could not operate my pants.”
“The zipper...it became stuck. And I tried for many minutes to open it myself because I knew that if she helped me, I would...” Chekov closed his eyes. “Please, do not make me say it.”
Sulu eyed the two bottles of vodka.
“I guess she helped you, huh?”
Chekov nodded, looking forlorn.
“The stimulation was too much.” He bowed his head and passed Sulu the full bottle. “Please, let us never speak of it again.”
Neither of them remembered the rest of shore leave.
Disaster struck on Chekov's first away mission, and Sulu could do nothing but watch from the bridge.
“Tricorder readings indicate significant dilithium deposits one hundred meters down. We are going further into the cave.”
Chekov's voice, already distorted by kilometers of rock, was barely intelligible through the communicator. Sulu turned toward the captain's chair, already certain that something was wrong. The roof of the cave collapsed before he had a chance to speak.
Kirk let Sulu go to sickbay as soon as the away team was beamed aboard, even though his shift wasn't over for another four hours. He stood at the edge of the bed, watching Chekov's steady heartbeat pulse on the monitor overhead. A heavy hand came down on his shoulder, and he spun around, ready for a fight.
“I'm not leaving till he's awake... I mean, I'm not leaving till he's awake, sir,” he said because Dr. McCoy was a superior officer. Even if he had no intention of obeying him. He resisted the urge to tell the doctor that he'd brought his sword and no number of security goons were a match for him.
“I know that, Lieutenant.” McCoy looked dryly amused. “That's why I brought you this chair.”
He sat down, feeling stupid.
“You need a blanket, don't take one off the biobeds. Chapel's got extras in the back.”
Sulu nodded dumbly, barely registering what else McCoy said. Something about coming to his office of he needed a talk or a drink. But he couldn't tear his eyes off the slow, steady rise and fall of Chekov's chest. His annoying little brother had somehow morphed into a best friend and an equal. And, against all odds, he was still alive.
Chekov awoke early in the morning, which Sulu noticed instantly because he had never gone asleep.
“Hikaru.” Chekov's voice was barely audible over the beeping heart monitor. A smile lit his face, and his eyes sparkled in the glow of the computer consoles. “A most wondrous thing has happened.”
“You're on a lot of drugs.”
“Yes, this is true,” Chekov said seriously. “But that is not why I am happy. I am happy because of something that happened in the cave.”
Sulu raised his eyebrows. Maybe Chekov had hit his head, or the pain had been bad enough to make him hallucinate.
“Do you know Yeoman Ross?”
“Yeah, the one who was on the mission with you. The casualty report said she wasn't injured.”
“She was not. Did you know that she is also only seventeen? And very beautiful?”
“Is this story going where I think it is?”
“Yes.” Chekov looked positively triumphant. “We were trapped together. Very, very close together. And I became to have a...physical reaction that was very embarrassing. So finally I told her the truth that I am virgin and she is beautiful and I think I am going to die.”
“That's a hell of a pick-up line.”
Sulu was a little jealous. Chekov's story already sounded a lot better than having your pseudo-girlfriend storm off in a rage because you only lasted thirty seconds and she didn't get to have any fun. Not that that had happened to him.
“She thought so also.”
“But Chekov, how did you... I mean, your leg is broken, right? And your ribs?”
The kid was a stallion.
“She was on top,” Chekov said matter-of-factly. “Also, I have learned that you should not have sex while you have internal injuries. Dr. McCoy said I might have bled to death.”
“Wait. How did Dr. McCoy know you had sex?”
“Ah.” Chekov reddened slightly. “We were not completely clothed when we were beamed aboard.”
“That sounds embarrassing.”
Actually, it sounded like a really, really awesome story.
“It was worth it. I would do it again. Many times.”
Chekov fell asleep with a grin on his face. So did Sulu.
One year later, at 0300 hours, Sulu's door chimed. Gaila groaned sleepily beside him. On his bedside table, the lights of a miniature Romulan fighter jet blinked blue and gold. It was made from scrap metal from engineering, and Gaila had given it to him when she asked him out several months ago. Until recently, he hadn't known that her proposal came about two hours after Chekov told her that he'd lost his virginity in a cave-in because of Sulu's advice and support.
Careful not to awaken her, Sulu tottered out of bed, pausing to pull on his boxer shorts.
Chekov stood on the other side of the door. His hair was rumpled and his uniform was torn, but he looked oddly satisfied.
“I believe I have collected enough empirical data about women,” he announced. “Now I shall begin having sex with men also.”
Gaila sat up suddenly in Sulu's bed. She never could sleep through even the mention of sex, Sulu thought fondly. She looked from Sulu to Chekov and back again, bouncing a little on the bed.
“I think that is an excellent idea, Pasha,” she said, fluffing the pillows invitingly.
Sulu suspected that his life was about to get a whole lot more complicated. He decided he did not mind.