And now instead of talking about TV I shall share with you some Chekov/Sulu fic!
Title: But One Day We’ll Float
Fandom: Star Trek XI
Word count: 1,576
Disclaimer: Sadly not mine, in any way.
Summary: Sulu almost can't remember the time before the war. He almost doesn't recognize Pavel Chekov.
Notes: Thanks to savoytruffle for her invaluable beta and awesome feedback!
Inspired by this picture. The title is from the PJ Harvey song We float.
They haven’t seen each other in two years.
Two years and… something.
Sulu stopped keeping count sometime in the first year when the war with the Klingons consumed all his thoughts, leaving no room for that funny thing named Pavel Chekov.
A distant, dissonant memory belonging to a time when everything was brighter and shinier and people would touch and laugh. And Sulu would, fuck, smile.
The war may be over, but Sulu’s smile hasn’t come home. Just one casualty among so many of a victory barely won. He’s First Officer now, on a ship that’s not the Enterprise and the only one he’s even seen is Jim, in flashes over communications.
Sulu tugs at the bow tie tight around his throat, wondering why he even bothered. A fucking black tie banquet. Like there’s anything to celebrate.
He doesn’t recognize Pavel at first.
It’s Spock that catches his gaze – standing tall and ramrod straight, impossible to miss – and then it falls naturally to the man beside Spock and, shit, that can’t be Pavel.
Not with short cropped hair and his hands in his suit pockets, so comfortable like it’s his uniform.
Sulu doesn’t tell his feet to move. They carry him toward Pavel like they have a life of their own. His eyes take in his old crew: Bones, a drink in one hand, his other arm slung over Jim’s shoulders. Jim gesticulating at Spock and Spock taking it in without reaction. Nyota sitting to the side, engrossed in her PADD. Scotty tossing back a shot like it’s water.
And then Pavel, standing, shoulders back, attention on Jim and Spock.
They’re all there, but they’re not the same.
Not the way Sulu remembers them. It’s like some life has been drained from them. He sees it in the slump of Nyota’s shoulders, the scars on Scotty’s face and the dark circles under Pavel’s eyes.
He’s about to turn around and walk away, go back to his room so he can drink in peace, but he stops at the sound of his name.
Although it was Pavel who called him, it’s Jim who greets him with a hug.
“Hikaru,” he says, slapping Sulu on the back. “Man, it’s good to see you.”
Sulu feels like he’s choking, like everything is closing in on him. He sees flashes of Klingon prison bars and pulls back from Jim abruptly, sucking in breath. “Yeah, you too, man.” And he still can’t get enough air because he’s staring into Pavel’s eyes. Were they always green?
All this time it was blue in his dreams.
So this is what losing your mind feels like.
“Hikaru.” Pavel speaks and moves slowly, like Sulu’s some alien wildlife he doesn’t want to spook.
Sulu plasters a grin on his face and pulls him into an awkward half-hug. “Pavel.”
It’s the first time he’s said that name aloud since the day before he left the Enterprise. Chekov didn’t see him off. Still hurt even though Sulu didn’t have a choice, he was following orders.
He should just retire, find some small isolated colony, start a vegetable garden, and forget there’s a universe out there.
The thought must show on his face because the rest of them greet him without hugs and Pavel guides him over to a chair, apart.
He pulls up a chair of his own and sits beside Sulu. Almost too close, but Sulu can still breathe so it’s okay. Pavel hand rests on his shoulder, so light, he almost can’t feel it. But he can, warmth travels through him like that first sip of coffee in the morning.
“It is okay that you’re sad,” Pavel says. “I am sad, too.”
Sulu meets Pavel’s eyes and sees his own pain reflected back. Even the bright Pavel Chekov Sulu once knew wasn’t left untouched.
Of course he fucking wasn’t.
“I just wish you weren’t. So sad.”
The words are so soft, Sulu isn’t sure they were actually spoken, but he doesn’t ask Pavel to repeat it. He fumbles in his pocket for his bottle of pills.
When he has them out, Pavel’s hand closes over his and he opens them for Sulu. “Your leg?”
He nods. Pretending that’s it.
So Pavel heard about Sulu’s injuries then.
Sulu’s heard nothing about Pavel all this time.
“What about –?” He swallows the pills instead of finishing his sentence.
Pavel’s smile doesn’t reach his eyes. “I am fine.”
Sulu wants to tell Pavel he hopes he really is fine. That even though Sulu can’t be okay, he wants Pavel to be.
Sulu doesn’t say anything. Because apparently he doesn’t have any courage left for the things he actually gives a fuck about.
Pavel doesn’t say anything either.
Sulu breathes in, breathes out. Keeps it even and calm.
They watch the speaker’s podium being set up in silence.
The silence continues when he walks back to his room, Pavel still at his side.
Sulu thinks they must have agreed on this turn of events but can’t remember the last thing he said.
Did he mumble something about drinks?
Or maybe he just suggested sex flat-out. It fits with the way Pavel’s stripping off his jacket and tie.
He should say something. Maybe ‘I miss you’ or ‘I need you.’
Or, ‘How are you even here?’
Sulu decides to do something, anything. He closes the distance between them and places his hands on Pavel’s shoulders. “I…” He’s forgotten how right his hands feel touching Pavel. They should always be right here.
“It’s okay,” Pavel breathes in his ear. His arms wrap around Hikaru’s waist. “I know.”
He doubts Pavel does know. But then he is a genius and since Sulu doesn’t feel like running or pushing Pavel away, he rests his head on Pavel’s shoulder.
They stay like that, swaying as if to music.
Sulu hears the hum of a vacuum out in the hall, the steady beating of Pavel’s heart and his own breath as he exhales.
For a moment Sulu feels like he’s stepped back into a time where Pavel still had curls and was the brightest thing in the universe. Where everything makes sense and all he needs to do is press their lips together and nothing could ever go wrong.
He kisses Pavel, knowing that’s not true. Knowing this is probably it for them. One last time.
But if this is it, Sulu’s not going down without a fight. Something in him always fights, even when all he wants is to give up.
He slides his tongue into Pavel’s mouth and it doesn’t feel like giving up. He grips him tighter and it doesn’t feel like fighting.
He remembers Pavel being softer. He’s firmer, stronger, now.
Like he can hold Sulu up.
Sulu sinks into him and lets Pavel pull him to the bed.
Lets Pavel take the lead even though it was always Sulu before.
Lets Pavel kiss his cheek, his neck, his ear. Feels the hot breath.
Lets his hands push off Pavel’s shirt to touch the still-soft skin underneath.
Lets himself pretend they’re young again.
Young and in love.
He feels something like happy when Pavel hands him the lube and lays out beneath him.
It’s the best thing Sulu’s seen in years.
He remembers how pushing into Pavel used to feel; like he’d discovered the secret to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all that good shit. Like he was special, privileged, lucky. He almost feels it again, like he’s twenty-two and it’s not just Pavel, but his whole life that’s spread out before him.
Like in that whole life all he wants is Pavel.
He still wants Pavel.
Never stopped wanting. Maybe just forgot how for a while.
Right now he can’t understand how Pavel isn’t always consuming his thoughts, pushing out all the bad and leaving only this.
He’s forgotten that he can actually feel this way. Feel good.
“So good, so good,” Pavel gasps. “Hikaru.”
Sulu comes, flashing back to Pavel at seventeen, their first time. Pavel glowing with sweat, his curls wild, eyes gleaming with the most brilliant smile. Like Sulu is everything he ever wanted.
He knows he’ll never be that to anyone. Not anymore.
And no one will be that for him.
He wishes Pavel could be.
That he could draw a line from his heart to Pavel’s and they would be okay. But Sulu knows that while his heart may be beating, pumping blood, it doesn’t do anything else.
When he blinks his eyes open Pavel is sitting up against the headboard, drinking water. He offers it to Sulu when he sees that he’s awake.
A few minutes pass and Sulu feels himself sinking into sleep again when Pavel asks, “How long were you there?”
Sulu knows exactly what he’s asking. He closes his eyes. He sees the cold, dark walls of his cell, the gray skies and barren ground of the prison yard. “Ten months, five days.”
Pavel exhales, like he was holding his breath waiting for the answer. “A long time.”
He feels Pavel stretch out beside him, rest a hand on his shoulder.
“Maybe.” Sulu opens his eyes and meets Pavel’s which are just a few inches away. “I don’t know.”
Pavel shifts and rests his head over Sulu’s heart, his arm draped over his chest.
Sulu drifts off to sleep hearing his words echo in his head.
Maybe. I don’t know.
Note: The line, “That he could draw a line from his heart to Pavel’s and they would be okay,” is very closely based on this line “And I draw a line/To your heart today/To your heart from mine/A line to keep us safe'” from PJ Harvey’s One Line. This song was very much a theme song for me for this fic.