Yorktown was safe.
It took Pavel few tries to finally understand it. Yorktown was safe. His goddaughter Demora was safe. Everyone in Hikaru’s family was safe. Pavel could breathe in relief since his friends were all alive and safe. But where was his oldest sister? Where was Olga? Surely she’d survived from Krall’s attack? Maybe her escape pod had just landed somewhere further away and she had gotten lost? Pavel really hoped that the search parties that had been sent to the planet they’d been stranded to had found her.
After all the commotion from Krall’s attack had died down, Hikaru asked Pavel to come to stay at his home with him, Ben and Demora. He and Pavel slipped away before Bones could order them to come to a medical facility to have a physical examination done on them; they really didn’t want to be poked by anything.
As soon as they arrived to the Sulu flat, Hikaru started stomping around the flat quite aggressively. Ben handed Demora to Pavel immediately and walked to the room Hikaru had gone to. Pavel walked inside the apartment, put down his backpack and put on some music that Demora liked. He then sat down on the sofa right next to Demora and let her talk about her adventure today. (“And you and papa saved us all!”) While listening to Demora’s story, Pavel thought he’d heard soft crying from the room where Hikaru and Ben were.
“What is it, uncle Pasha?” Demora asked. “You look worried.”
“I’m just a bit tired”, Pavel answered. “How come you aren’t tired? You had an impressive adventure today.”
“I’m pumped!” Demora exclaimed. “Baba told me that when I use energy, I get more energy, so because I used a lot of energy today, I have twice as much now!”
Pavel chuckled tiredly as Demora jumped on his lap and started explaining how she had been carried by Ben around Yorktown while they were evacuating. Not soon after, Ben opened the door to the room where he and Hikaru had been and Pavel could see Hikaru sleeping. For a second he thought he could see tear tracks on Hikaru’s face but then Ben closed the door.
“Is papa alright?” Demora asked.
“Oh, he is”, Ben reassured Demora as he lifted her on his lap while sitting down on the sofa. “He’s just very tired and he was scared for us while saving us so he needed to sleep very badly. I told him he has to go see dr. McCoy tomorrow – by the way, you’re going with him Pavel – because he got hurt when they were stranded on the scary planet.”
“You were stranded?” Demora asked and turned to Pavel. “Were you hurt?”
“I fell down a few times but I’m fine”, Pavel told and tried his best to smile reassuringly. He felt like his smile was more like a scared grimace.
“You know what?” Ben asked. “I think it’s time for our little Demora to go to bed so I can have a little chat with uncle Pasha before he goes to bed too because he looks ready to fall asleep at any minute now. You can go brush your teeth and change and go to bed on your own? I’ll come to read you a bed time story after I’ve talked with uncle Pasha.”
With that Demora dashed off to her room while Ben looked at Pavel worriedly. Before Pavel could say anything, Ben was already speaking.
“Don’t give me that look, Pavel; you are going to dr. McCoy tomorrow”, Ben told. “You look like you could faint any minute now and Hikaru told me someone sucked energy out of him! He literally had a panic attack back there and threw up everything inside him. Neither of you is really alright and I just honestly want to make sure you both will be alright. If you don’t want to take care of yourself for your own sake, then do it for Demora to still have her uncle. And besides, dr. McCoy will murder me if I don’t make both of you go to him.”
“How is he?” Pavel asked quietly after a pause. “I didn’t really get to talk to him after the rescue mission and while we flew Franklin here… Is he alright?”
“He’s alive and breathing but I can’t help but worry”, Ben admitted. “He couldn’t let go of me until he was asleep because he’d been holding down the panic ever since he found out that the person who attacked you was going to attack Yorktown as well…”
Pavel nodded and pressed the thumbnail of his right hand to his left arm. Ben realized that Pavel was shaking too and sighed.
“You should talk if something is wrong”, he told. “But I know I can’t force you. The visitor’s bedroom is yours to use, the bed is already made and waiting for you. Feel free to eat whatever’s in the fridge, there should be some frozen stroganoff in the freezer too. Anyway, Demora is waiting for her bed time story so I’ll be going and you probably should go to sleep as well. Good night and sleep as long as you like.”
“Thank you”, Pavel whispered quietly enough for Ben to not hear it. Thank you for caring.
The next morning Pavel and Hikaru got the longest lecture from dr. McCoy ever. He was furious with them having just disappeared without coming to him to be checked. Especially Hikaru wouldn’t hear the end of it when Bones heard that Krall had used his energy-consuming powers on him. (“You’re alright? And I’m the fucking captain of the Enterprise!”) When it came to Pavel’s turn to be checked, Bones had forcibly calmed himself but was still glaring daggers at Pavel.
“Jim was worried sick when you two just disappeared”, he grumbled while waving one of his gadgets near Pavel. “You better tell your sister to come get checked too, kiddo, we can’t have all of you being so stubborn.”
“But… I haven’t seen her since we boarded the Enterprise”, Pavel protested. He felt like someone had poured cold water all over him. “I thought someone in the crew had maybe found her?”
“Wait a minute, she wasn’t there when we rescued the crew?” Bones asked. “I thought we had found everyone…”
“Maybe she just landed somewhere further away where she wasn’t found?” Pavel suggested hopefully. The small voice in the back of his head told him he was probably wrong but he shut down that voice.
“Well, they’ve sent out search parties to find whoever may not have been found”, Bones said. “We’ll tell you when she’s found so don’t you worry; just try to rest now since we won’t be going anywhere until the Enterprise is repaired and that might take a while…”
Pavel chuckled nervously and exited the makeshift office that the Starfleet had given to dr. McCoy before he could tell Pavel to come back. He went to Hikaru who had been waiting for him while chatting with Scotty.
“How come you’re so pale?” Hikaru asked. “Did dr. McCoy threaten you with hypos or something?”
“No, I’m just a bit tired”, Pavel lied. “Guess the strain is only now hitting me.”
“Did they say anythin’ about your sister?” Scotty asked while draining another cup of tea. “Hikaru told that she wasn’t imprisoned by Krall and she wasn’t with us at Franklin either. Jaylah told me she hadn’t seen anyone like that in the escape pods we found either so she might have gotten lost?”
“Dr. McCoy told me that they’ve sent search parties to find whoever hasn’t been found yet”, Pavel told quietly. “They’ll tell me as soon as my sister is found.”
“I hope she’s found soon”, Scotty said. “Uhura is cranky when she can’t debate with her.”
Pavel smiled tiredly and looked at Sulu in hopes of him telling that they’d be going. Sulu understood the look and told Scotty that they had to be going since Ben wanted their opinion on what feel they’d be eating and Demora wanted to spend time with her papa and uncle Pavel. They left and took the turbo-train to the apartment building where the Sulus lived. (Oh, how Pavel hated those trains; they made his insides turn like someone had put a hand in there and shook them.)
The following few days were filled with Pavel and Hikaru looking after Demora while Ben went to his office to work there for once since he usually worked at home so he could look after Demora when Hikaru was away. Pavel kept draining their stroganoff supply with Demora and Ben kept making more. Pavel couldn’t explain how grateful he was for the stroganoff that made him feel like he was home with his family again so he tried to say it how Demora would have said it. (“Like thiiiiis grateful!” he exclaimed while stretching his arms as wide as possible. Hikaru laughed so much that he almost choked on thin air. Ben hugged them both.)
Four days after Pavel and Hikaru had had their medical examinations, the doorbell rang and Sulu went to open the door while Pavel continued to look for Demora who he’d been playing hide-and-seek with. He could vaguely hear dr. McCoy and Hikaru talking about something and then Hikaru was calling for him to come to the living room and that dr. McCoy needed to talk to him.
“Have you heard about my sister?” Pavel asked as he rushed to the living room. “Has she been found yet?”
“Well, she has been found”, Bones told as soon as Pavel had sat down. “But she was in the wreck of one of the broken escape pods. She’s dead, Chekov. We need you to come identify her body so we can inform your family. I’m really so sorry; I really had hoped she would be found alive…”
Pavel had gone completely still and a bit too pale for McCoy’s liking. His eyes were so wide McCoy couldn’t help but wonder how they didn’t pop out of their sockets. He put his hand on Pavel’s shoulder and Pavel lowered his gaze. Bones could feel Pavel trembling slightly and he honestly wanted nothing more than to comfort his young friend with a bone-crushing hug.
“Jim’s waiting for us”, he told quietly. “You won’t have to be alone if you don’t want to… We’ll just go to the medical facility and then we’ll get you back here…”
“Alright”, Pavel whispered. “I just… I have to find Demora first… We were playing hide-and-seek…”
“I found her”, Hikaru told quietly from the door to Demora’s bedroom. “I can come with you if you need me to. We can take a nice little walk with Demora and then we’ll go have some ice cream.”
Pavel nodded shakily and stood up. Bones followed suit and Demora skipped to Pavel and took his hand.
“What kind of ice cream will you eat?” Demora asked, not knowing of the bad news Pavel had just received.
“I’ll… take blueberry flavor”, Pavel whispered. Olga liked blueberry, he thought. Maybe she’ll come to us to share the ice cream with me…
The gang exited the apartment and caught the elevator downstairs where Jim Kirk was waiting for them. His face fell comically at the sight of Hikaru and Demora. (“The public transport beaming can only transport two people at the time”, he explained.)
As soon as they all had been beamed to the Starfleet medical facility, Kirk and McCoy showed Pavel the way to the morgue while Hikaru had taken Demora to a nearby park to wait for Pavel. Pavel tried his best to think that it wasn’t the morgue where they were going; it was just a hospital room. Olga would be just fine with only a few bruises. Bones glanced at Pavel for a few times when he realized that Pavel’s breathing was far too shallow and fast.
“We’re here”, Kirk said. “Would you rather be there alone or do you want either of us there with you?”
“It’ll be easier with you two in there”, Pavel whispered. “It’s… It’s not my first time seeing a dead family member but it’ll be easier if there is someone there.”
McCoy felt like his stomach had fallen completely out of his body when he heard the statement. He had forgotten that Pavel had been there when his youngest sister had died when he’d been only ten years old. McCoy had never really thought about it that way but now he realized that Pavel had indeed seen the unmoving dead body of his older sister.
Kirk patted Pavel’s shoulder and opened the door to the morgue. It was surprisingly cold in there and even though McCoy knew that it was to preserve the bodies, he couldn’t help than to think that it was colder than usual. Kirk had gone to one of the beds and was removing the sheet from the upper body and face of one of the bodies. As soon as her face was uncovered, even Bones who had seen Olga Chekova only a couple of times could tell that the body was her.
“It’s her”, Pavel whispered and then raised his voice for a bit. “It’s Olga. Can I go now?”
“Yes”, Kirk sighed. “You can go; I’ll take care of the paperwork. I’m so sorry, Chekov.”
Pavel had already covered half of the length of the corridor when McCoy registered what Kirk had said. Kirk was gently covering Olga’s body with the sheet and mumbling something. (McCoy could have sworn that it was a prayer of some sort. Was Kirk religious?) McCoy could hear the elevator’s signal beeping at the far end of the corridor. He could never make it to the same elevator with Pavel. Should he stay with Jim or go after Pavel? Dammit, he was a doctor, not some cell that could multiply itself!
Outside the building, Hikaru saw Pavel leaving it and walking towards one of the commercial buildings. Hikaru turned to Jaylah, who had found him and Demora and started to play with the latter, and asked her to look after Demora. He left the two and started walking where Pavel had gone.
Pavel had entered the building – which, he found out, was a shopping center – and taken the stairs to the lower layers where no one would come to talk to him. Scotty had mentioned that the area would be off-limits but when the Starfleet found out that the Vulcans liked areas like that, they had opened them to people, yet almost no one ever went there. He thought that he could be alone in there, at least until he almost stumbled over Spock who was sitting near one of the pillars holding the place together.
“Mr. Spock!” Pavel almost exclaimed. He had barely managed to keep his voice down and yet it echoed in the closed area.
“Mr. Chekov”, Spock greeted. “What are you doing here?”
“I was hoping to be able to come here to be alone and think”, Pavel answered as he sat down. “I didn’t think there would be anyone here…”
“This indeed is a good place for thinking”, Spock agreed. “I hope my presence will not disturb your thinking.”
“I don’t think it will”, Pavel said with a small smile. He drew his knees to his chest and leaned his head on them. The quietness and the soft sound of Mr. Spock breathing were surprisingly calming to him.
Pavel’s thoughts wandered to Olga yet again. Had she died fast and painlessly? Had she known she was going to die? Had she been in pain? What had her last thought been? Had she remembered the sunflower fields near their house or the churches in downtown? Or maybe the synagogue they’d sometimes visit with their mother? Maybe she had remembered a memory from the time before Pavel was born. Or maybe she had thought of father and Galina and maybe she’d known that they’d meet again very soon. He tried, if possible, to take even less space than he already did by leaning even deeper to his knees.
“Is something wrong, Mr. Chekov?” Spock asked. “You are never quite that quiet nor do you never try to make yourself so small. Has something happened?”
“I’m alright”, Pavel muttered stubbornly. He knew he was being stupid but the little voice in the back of his head kept telling him that as soon as he said it, Olga’s death would become real and he just wanted to live in a lie for just a little bit longer. He squeezed his arms as if the pain would keep Olga’s death from becoming real.
“Mr. Chekov, you are clearly showing signs of high anxiety and stress”, Spock told. “Therefore it is illogical for you to say that you are ‘alright’. If you wish to talk about your feelings with someone, I can listen to you if you wish me to.”
“I’m fine”, Pavel said a little bit louder. He tried to hide his face even more when he realized he had started to cry.
“Pavel!” someone shouted from behind. After just a moment, Pavel realized that it was Hikaru calling his name. There was a sound of someone sliding down right next to Pavel and the next thing he knew was that someone was hugging him.
“It’s alright Pasha”, Hikaru mumbled. “It will be alright; we’re all here…”
“Has something happened?” Spock asked. Pavel felt how Hikaru jolted at that.
“Jesus Spock, you scared me”, Hikaru said. “Chekov’s older sister died after Krall attacked the Enterprise. They just found her body and Pavel had to go identify it and as you can see, he isn’t taking it well.”
“I am very sorry for your loss, Mr. Chekov”, Spock said after a pause. “I very much enjoyed debating with her; she had a great knowledge about a great number of things. I shall miss her presence aboard the Enterprise.”
Pavel heard someone move and soon there was someone else sitting next to him and placing their hand on Pavel’s shoulder. He realized that it was Spock’s hand and that it was the most comforting gesture he had ever seen Spock doing to anyone. He couldn’t really stop trembling and breathing so shakily even though even Spock was trying to comfort him so he just kept hiding his face somewhere in between his knees and Hikaru’s chest.
“What’s wrong, uncle Pasha?” Demora’s voice asked from behind the trio. Pavel’s shoulders jolted up and he turned to see Demora and Jaylah standing right behind him.
“Demora, what are you – Jaylah, I asked you to look after her!” Hikaru exclaimed.
“I looked after her”, Jaylah said. “She followed you and I looked after her.”
“Did something happen in the hospital, uncle Pasha?” Demora asked. “Did you get hurt? Aren’t hospitals supposed to make people un-hurt?”
“Sometimes hospitals can’t do that”, Pavel explained quietly. “And then other people get sad because their friends can’t be un-hurt… And my sister was hurt very badly and the hospital couldn’t fix the hurt.”
“Did she die?” Demora asked. “Like papa’s mother?”
“Yes”, Pavel answered quietly. Demora hugged him with such a ferocity that he would have fallen down if Hikaru hadn’t been behind him to catch him.
“Your sister is with my grandmother now”, Demora told. “She’ll get the best cinnamon rolls and cheesecakes in the world.”
“Aren’t my cinnamon rolls and cheesecakes as good?” Hikaru joked.
“Nah-huh, not really”, Demora told. “Grandma’s were better.”
Jaylah looked at Chekov who was still hugging Demora. She sat down next to him so that their shoulders touched each other.
“I’m sorry about your sister, Pavel Chekov”, she said. “I was told she was a nice person.”
“She was”, Pavel said. “She always knew how to comfort people and help them… I’ll miss her…”
“I had a sister too”, Jaylah told. “Maybe she is with yours now. I hope they will befriend each other.”
“I hope so too”, Pavel whispered and leaned his head on the side of Jaylah’s head. She put her arm around his shoulders and ruffled Demora’s hair.
“Montgomery Scotty told me that this makes people feel better”, she told and made Pavel chuckle. “I do not understand why, but I think it is true.”
Suddenly there was beeping from Sulu’s pocket and he cursed. He took out his phone and raised his eyebrows.
“Kirk and McCoy want to see you, Pasha”, he said. “And to be honest, I’d like to go outside too. The quietness in here creeps me out.”
“We should go then”, Pavel said. “Will you come with us, Mr. Spock, or will you stay here?”
“I shall go with you”, Spock said while standing up. “I have things I wish to talk about with Jim and this seems to be a good moment.”
“Can we have the ice cream now, papa?” Demora asked with excitement as they started walking towards the exit. Jaylah looked confused.
“What is ice cream?” she asked. “Why are you so excited over it, Demora Sulu?”
“It’s cold and sweet food”, Demora told with a huge grin. “And you don’t have to say the ‘Sulu’ part of my name. Just Demora is enough.”
“Why would you eat cold food?” Jaylah wondered. “Is food not supposed to be warm to be safe?”
“Not all foods are like that”, Spock explained. “In fact I rather enjoy this human food called sushi which is cold and raw fish served as mouthfuls with rice, seaweed and some sort of vegetables. I think you might enjoy it a lot, Jaylah.”
“Can I eat it here?” Jaylah asked.
“I can make loads of it”, Sulu told. “Demora, what do you say if we invite Jaylah, Spock and some other friends over and have a sushi party?”
“Only if we have the ice cream first”, Demora declared. “We left home over half an hour ago and I still haven’t got the ice cream! I want it now.”
“That sounds fair”, Hikaru sighed as they exited the building. They saw Kirk and some other people sitting on a park bench. As soon as Pavel saw them, he cursed under his breath in Russian.
“What is it?” Hikaru asked. “Do you know them?”
“Yes”, Pavel said and breathed deeply. “They’re my brothers Anatoli and Aleksei. What the hell am I going to tell them about Olga?”
“I think that captain Kirk has already told them”, Spock said. “After all, he sees it as the captain’s job to do.”
“There you guys are”, McCoy’s voice said from behind them. “It seems like Chekov’s brothers are here; Jim’s telling them about Olga right now. I think we should go to them soon…”
“So you don’t know how they reacted?” Pavel asked, his voice slightly trembling.
“No, I don’t”, McCoy said. “I’m sorry, kiddo.”
“It’s fine”, Pavel mumbled and started walking over to the bench where his brothers were sitting with Kirk. He had to breathe deeply a few times before he could greet his brothers. As soon as he had managed to get any kind of voice out of him, one of the twins was already up and hugging him.
“Oh, thank god you survived”, he said and hugged Pavel even tighter. “Thank god…”
“Don’t suffocate him, Aleksei”, the other twin, Anatoli, said. “Pasha, why didn’t you tell us that you had been stranded after you got here again?”
“Uh…” Pavel started but before he could continue, Kirk had started speaking again.
“We all had a short adjustment period after we got back here”, he explained. “Your brother was living with his best friend’s family and spending time with his goddaughter and worrying about Olga.”
“Yes… I actually forgot you were coming here”, Pavel whispered. “I had a lot on my mind…”
“It’s alright”, Aleksei said as he let go of Pavel. “So, is Demora here? I’d love to meet her finally.”
“She’s over there with her father, Hikaru”, Kirk said while pointing to the nearby ice cream booth. “Why don’t we go to get some ice cream too?”
“Let’s do that”, Aleksei agreed and started following Kirk while Spock who had been standing nearby with McCoy followed them. Pavel walked a few steps behind everyone else with Anatoli.
“You alright there, Pasha?” Anatoli asked quietly. “It’s almost eerie that you haven’t started shouting or anything like when Galina died. Do you want to talk?”
“I’m fine”, Pavel answered while rubbing his eyes. “I’m just tired of this… I’m so tired of someone always getting hurt and everyone leaving… Why can’t the really good people ever stay alive?”
“I wish I knew”, Anatoli said. “But remember to talk to me or Aleksei if you feel like you need to talk.”
“Yes”, Pavel said quietly, “I will.”
They had finally arrived to the ice cream booth where Hikaru had ordered a bunch of ice cream. Demora trotted to Pavel to give him the blueberry ice cream he had said he wanted. Jaylah was eating something that looked like either lemon or apricot ice cream and making the weirdest faces Pavel had ever seen. As soon as she spotted Spock, she went to him and started explaining how good the “cream ice” was. Spock had a small smile on his face and he started explaining how ice cream was made. Aleksei had found Demora and was introducing himself and Anatoli to her.
“Hi there”, he said, “I’m Aleksei Chekov and that guy who looks a bit less as handsome as me over there is my younger twin, Anatoli. We are uncle Pasha’s older brothers.”
“I’m Demora!” Demora told. “Uncle Pasha is my godfather. Are you my uncles too?”
“I think they are”, Hikaru laughed and shook Aleksei’s hand. “Nice to meet you. Pavel has told me bits about your family but I don’t really have the full picture. Would you like to come over to my family’s apartment later today? We are having a sushi party.”
“Oh, we’d love to”, Aleksei told. “I don’t really eat raw fish so I would appreciate it if there was an alternative without fish.”
“There will”, Hikaru laughed. “Our captain is allergic to basically everything so I’ll make few alternatives for him and my husband is allergic to fish so there will be few alternatives without it.”
“That’s settled then”, Aleksei told with a smile and turned at Anatoli who was sitting further away with Pavel. “Hey, Anatoli, we are going to a sushi party today!”
“Who said you can decide?” Anatoli retorted.
“We were invited by Mr. Sulu and little Demora”, Aleksei protested. “Come on, we will get some good sushi and meet some of Pasha’s friends.”
“Fine”, Anatoli said and turned to Pavel. “Beware, he might tell every single embarrassing tale he has of you. If you need to run, just tell me.”
Pavel chuckled at the comment. Maybe everything was going to be fine after all.
At least with time, it was.