The thing was, that he, Pavel Chekov, for the most part, loved what he did. Navigating could be hard, sure, but it was fun. He knew a good amount of people who would call him crazy, but it was. Yes there was a lot of calculations involved, and yes they were involved almost constantly. Yes, if he messed up one little number the consequences could be catastrophic, even life-threatening.
All of the above were, in point of fact, some of the main reasons that he loved navigating so much. Running the numbers came almost naturally to him and unlike almost everyone he knew, he enjoyed the calculations. The more complicated and challenging the better. More to the point he was good at it, really good, and he was faster and more accurate than most people well over twice his age. And unlike most of the geek-types he knew, Pavel loved the action, loved when it got exiting and just a bit dangerous and when doing his job and doing it perfectly could be the difference between living and dying.
The numbers were his lifeblood and the action set it alight.
The thing was, Pavel Chekov never got the numbers wrong. He didn't screw up. Most of his 'peers' at the Academy and even some of his instructors, had taken this as a point of consternation because he was, after all, only seventeen. So, Pavel went through his years at the Academy more or less on his own, and looking after himself because no one else would.
The thing was, when he finally found people just as crazy and (he suspected) as smart as him, it was also the one of the worst crises Starfleet had ever faced. Certainly the worst crisis Vulcan had ever had.
The thing was, Pavel had done all the calculations perfectly, had pulled off what officers far senior to and far older than him couldn't, had saved people, had steered this magnificent ship, had done his job.
The thing was, it hadn't been enough.
The thing was, people had still died, far too many.
The thing was, Chekov had a lost a woman, Spock's mother by a hairsbreadth of time; hadn't been able to save her.
The thing was, he'd had to help compile a list of everyone they'd lost, most of whom had been his classmates.
The thing was, Pavel Andreievich Chekov loved his job, but sometimes he really, really hated it.
This was one of those times. He didn't blame the Keptin, of course. Jim Kirk, just like everyone else on this ship, had done his damned best to get every single one of them out alive and, with the exception of those lost in the explosions or died later of their injuries, he'd succeeded.
Besides, Pavel liked the guy. Kirk came with a dose of crazy that appealed to his own, and he didn't treat Pavel like little kid who couldn't do anything. He liked all the people who'd gotten thrown into this cobbled together bridge crew, and he had a feeling (not only stemming from words of the old time travelers) that he'd somehow, in the past two days of chaos, heartbreak, and mayhem, managed to find himself a family.
And now...Now he and Lt. Sulu had to deliver the agonizingly long list of the dead to their Captain and crewmates. In the chaos that followed the revelation that not one but two of their crewmates had been on Tarsus IV they hadn't been able to get a copy of the list to Kirk.
(So damned many names, it hadn't taken Pavel and Lt. Sulu much time at all to figure out that it would be much more efficient to create a list of those who'd lived and whoever left on the list of the deceased. They'd both cried over those names: those they'd known and those they hadn't.)
After most everyone else had gone back to their jobs following the surprise Old Scotty incident (Both of the Doctors McCoy had bundled the Keptin back to medbay, Lieutenant Uhura in tow while Commander Spock had gone off with his older counter-part and the rest of the olds went off to see the engine room), Pavel made to leave the transport room only to jolt back as Lt. Sulu gently grabbed hold of his arm.
"Vat is it?" he asked, "Ve both hev vork ve need to get beck to."
"I know," Lt. Sulu told him, looking rather like he was watching someone wind up to kick a puppy, "It's just-we need to get that list to the captain."
Oh. Right. Yes, they did. Unfortunately.
"Damn zat ebet list," Pavel snarled, even as he walked to the door to find the lift, "zhizn' ebet meya."
Lt. Sulu caught up with him before he'd left the transporter room.
"We are going for that list, right? Which I completely agree with you about by the way, damn that ebat thing."
Starled, Pavel actually laughed a little. He thought that Lt. Sulu might actually be nervous, something that never happened around him (Pavel tended to be the nervous one in any given social interaction). He didn't need to be, anyway. He hadn't once treated Pavel like a kid, so he already liked him.
"Eet ees ebet Lt. Sulu, not ebat and da, of course ve are. Ve must, face the music, however much ve might not vant to."
Sulu grinned, something that seemed to light up his face, despite how exhausted he (all of them, really) he was.
"Your English is way better than my Russian. Incidentally, what was it you were saying just then?"
Pavel could feel his cheeks heating up and just knew that he was blushing.
"Somzing zat my mozer vould vash my mouth out witz soap for even thinking end notzing I'm going to be teaching to you."
Feigning great offense, Lt. Sulu put a hand to his chest and actually pouted. It was a truly ridiculous expression
"That is hurtful, Ensign Chekov, I am hurt."
Sulu danced around until he was walking backwards just in front of Pavel (who was fighting the urge to laugh again at his antics) and started walking backwards.
"You know what I think?"
"No, but I get the feeling zat you are about to tell me."
Another grin, this one almost wicked.
"I think that you won't tell me what you just said because the Russians have weak swear words and you're ashamed."
No, scratch that, that was a smirk, and it was definitely wicked. It was on now.
"Oh, please, as eef Japanese swear words are any good. Besides. Profanity was invwented in Russia."
Lt. Sulu looked surprised (pleasantly so) and whipped back around so that they were walking side by side again.
"Is that so? I'll have you know that the art, and yes I do mean art, of swearing in Japanese has been around for a lot longer than-"
And they were off, and needling each other's cultures became asking each other more became debates about flying became debates on the practical applications of a sword in this century. By the time they reached the conference room, they were on a first name basis (compiling the list had been so awful that they'd barely spoken a word to each other for the duration), Pavel was absolutely certain that this was the start of an absolutely beautiful friendship, and he'd also managed to very nearly forget what they were retrieving.
They both fell silent when they saw the PADDs and the horrible heavy feeling that had come over Pavel when he'd lost Spock's mother came back.
"Well, let's hope that Old Kirk didn't mess up our list, or we'll have to compile it again," Hikaru quipped.
Pavel glared at him.
"Do not even joke about zat."
Hikaru's face fell from the forced smile it had been in.
"Yeah. Sorry. I just-"he broke off. "Sorry."
Now he looked as though he was the kicked puppy. Pavel patted his arm gently.
"Eet ees ok. Let's just get zis over wit."
Hikaru blew out a sigh.
He reached over and picked up the PADDs, handing one over to Pavel, who took it with shaking hands and glared at it. He'd never hated a piece of machinery so much in his life. It was bad enough for him to have to make the list and catch a name here and there of someone he'd known but...They'd done most of the sorting by Cadet number and besides. Pavel had never been the most social of Starfleet Cadets, he'd been too young, too smart for most people.
Keptin Kirk, on the other hand...He hadn't seemed to know much of anyone outside of Doctor McCoy very well, but he'd at the very least, at some point, exchanged greetings with very nearly every person who'd been at the Academy while he was. He'd known these people, at least in passing and he was going to be the one writing the condolence letter for every single one of them because he was the only captain in the entire fleet that had gone out who had come through alive and (comparatively) unscathed.
And Pavel was the one bringing him this list as if the man hadn't had enough emotional turmoil in the past...day? Two days? Pavel actually wasn't sure at this point, but the point stood that Pavel was fairly certain that the man could have noting even slightly emotionally turbulent happen to him in the next year and he'd still be feeling this without any casualty lists.
Pavel hadn't even realized that he'd been standing there, frozen, looking that the PADD in his hands until he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw Hikaru, looking at him-actually he couldn't tell how Hikaru was looking at him because he had, inexplicably gone blurry. Except-no, it wasn't inexplicable at all bacause without even realizing it, Pavel had started crying.
"Oh," he mumbled, hating the fact that he could feel his face heating up again, "Sorry."
He wiped furiously at his face.
"It's, uh, it's fine."
Hikaru's voice sounded choked and so, now with clear vision, Pavel looked back up and saw that Hikaru's eyes were red too.
"Yeah. C'mon lets-lets just get these where they need to go and then we can work 'til we drop and then have a breakdown while we're supposed to be sleeping, how does that sound?"
"Terrible," Pavel answered honestly, "But better zhan anyzing else I cen think of at ze moment."
That got him another grin, this one shaky, and this time it was Hikaru leading the way out of the room. There wasn't any banter this time, or even any conversation. Joking about anything just felt wrong and Pavel was fairly certain that if he tried to talk about anything in any way seriously, he was going to have his breakdown ahead of schedule.
This walk seemed infinitely longer, despite the fact that Pavel was nearly certain that the Medbay was closer to that particular conference room than the Transporter Room. The silence was actually rather oppressive but Pavel found that to break it seemed almost...disrespectful, as if by doing this, he and Hikary were holding some sort of wake for the dead.
He was still trying to shake off that truly morbid thought when they arrived at their destination. They both stopped, staring at the door, neither really wanting to go in. Finally, Hikaru sighed.
"Well, it's like you said earlier, isn't it? We've gotta face the music, even when it sucks."
Suddenly, inexplicably, Pavel found himself fighting down the corners of his mouth as they tried to smile, because while the general meaning was the same, that wasn't what he'd said, exactly. This time, they walked through the door together, and guess what?
The thing was, sometimes Pavel really, really hated his job but he was starting to realize that as long as he had someone in it with him, it wasn't so bad.