"Okay, so, uh." Kirk cleared his throat. "Time to say good-bye, Ensign."
Chekov regarded him miserably, blinking away the tears in his eyes.
Kirk shifted uncomfortably. He could almost see the accusatory glares he'd get when he got back to the bridge. Like it was his fault Chekov had to give up his fricking space-bunny.
How was he supposed to know the "Starfleet employee" they were supposed to escort to Station Zeta was actually an official inspector? Or that she was a particularly nasty one? Really, it was Chekov's fault for visiting her with Zaichik in the first place. "I feared she was lonely!" Stupid adorable Chekov.
Now here Kirk was, forced to tear the tiny honey-colored bunny from its father's bosom and hand it over to a brutal dead-eyed bureaucrat, who would probably end up eating the poor thing's still-beating heart just to laugh at the sheer evilness of it all, judging from how she was already tapping her foot impatiently on the transporter pad. Kirk wondered if he could somehow signal the engineer to accidentally beam her into the station's septic systems.
"Captain?" said the inspector, eyebrows raised in annoyance.
Kirk gave her a tight smile before turning back to Chekov.
"Listen, Pavel," he said in a low voice. "I hate this as much as you do. And if you refused, I'd understand and I'd do everything I could for you" -- he paused for a second, imagining himself in full dress uniform at Chekov's court-martial hearing and orating with passionate gestures over to the bunny, and shook his head -- "but I think this is it."
Chekov hugged Zaichik more closely and sniffled. "Is okay," he said in a whisper. "I just wish Mr. Sulu had been here, to say good-bye."
"Captain, if you would?" The inspector looked disgusted with Chekov's tears, further cementing Kirk's hypothesis that she did in fact lack a soul. "I am on a schedule."
Chekov looked down and murmured something in soft sad little Russian to Zaichik, before he swallowed and stepped past Kirk.
The inspector sucked her teeth and held out her hand. Zaichik made a little sound of distress and tried to burrow further into Chekov's arms. Chekov took the bunny gently between both hands, struggling not to cry, and --
Lieutenant Sulu came barrelling through the doors of the transporter room at full bore and crashed into a bulkhead.
"Hikaru!" cried Chekov, thrusting Zaichik into Kirk's arms and rushing over to help.
"Lieutenant?" said Kirk.
"What is the meaning of this?" demanded the inspector.
"I'll tell you the meaning of this." Sulu snapped to his feet, swaying a little but stable with Chekov's support. Kirk had seen that look on his face before, when he'd stared down homocidal Romulans on Vulcan. "Regulation 152.6 only restricts Starfleet officers from ownership of personal fauna."
The inspector crossed her arms. "Your point?"
Sulu marched over and thrust his PADD into her face.
The inspector gave him a nasty look, but scrolled down. All of a sudden her expression of impatience turned to outrage.
"What?" she exclaimed.
Sulu just smirked.
"This is ridiculous. Clearly you've just forged an entry."
"Check the database yourself if you don't believe me."
Glaring at him, the inspector did just that, keying in something on her wristband computer, and Kirk took the opportunity to grab the PADD for himself, balancing Zaichik with one arm.
Displayed on the viewscreen was Starfleet's official taxonomic database, opened to the classification Lagomorphus zaichus, with a picture of a closed-eyed grinning Chekov holding Zaichik in his arms. Common "Zaichik" bunny, read the entry. Species: unclassified flora.
"That rabbit is not a plant!" exclaimed the inspector, apparently having found the entry again on her own.
Sulu crossed his arms and regarded her coolly. "With all due respect, Inspector, I don't think you're qualified to make that claim."
"Where did you find a botanist with this kind of clearance?" hissed the inspector.
"Wouldn't you like to know," said Sulu with a sneer.
"Well then!" Kirk boomed, getting between the two of them. "All's well that ends well, wouldn't you agree, Inspector? No, I insist," he continued, speaking over her when she tried to interrupt, "I insist, the pleasure was all ours. Bye, now."
She was still trying to protest as she dematerialized.
The second she disappeared, Kirk barked out a laugh and swivelled on his heel.
"Ha! Sulu, that was -- oh. Okay."
He turned back to give his frantically making-out helmsmen a little privacy. Though he was a little curious as to how Chekov could actually climb Sulu like that.
"Um, so," said Kirk to the ceiling, walking to the door in a wide berth and trying to ignore the wet smacks and whimpers. "Me and Zaichik will see you later, then."