Three days never felt so short.
At least he’d (miraculously) convinced Pavel to skip school with him so they had that last day all to themselves.
He tries to remind himself of this now, when all he’s plotting is Mariko’s death.
It’s not her fault. Not really.
He’s repeating it like a mantra as she drags him into her room, shuts the door.
“You had sex!” Her tone is triumphant – she does like figuring things out – and – could it be? – impressed.
“Huh?” Hikaru doesn’t have to fake the stunned reaction.
“You. Had. Sex.”
“How can you tell?” he blurts out, still stunned.
She waves her hand at him. “There’s something different about you.”
He looks down at himself – all looks normal. “How is that something you can even tell? Looking different, that isn’t even a real thing.”
She crosses her arms. “Well, am I right or not?”
Hikaru glances at the door, lowers his voice. “Fine. Okay. I don’t know what kind of freaky intuition you have.”
“Try not to sound so excited about it.” She smirks and sits on the bed, pats a space near her. He complies.
“Talking to my sister about sex, especially sex I may be having, is not something I want to do. Ever.”
Mariko rolls her eyes.
They sit there in silence for a few minutes before it clearly gets to Mariko.
“Well, do I get to meet…” she eyes him speculatively, “…him?”
“Seriously, what kind of X-Men powers do have?” Hikaru’s beginning to believe Mariko’s IQ scores.
“Relax. I haven’t gone all mutant on you. I’ve suspected that you’re gay for a while.”
Oddly, Hikaru does relax. Not because of her words but because of her tone: calm, matter-of-fact, accepting.
“Uh, good?” he attempts.
“Well?” Mariko prompts.
“Well, what?” He’s genuinely confused.
“Are you going to tell me about him?
“Uhhh.” It’s not that he doesn’t want to tell her about Pavel. It’s just that their close proximity will make things awkward. Very awkward. There’ll be no way of avoiding the sister-boyfriend meeting.
He settles for vague.
“He’s new. Smart, freaky smart like you. Honest, calls me on my shit. Nice. You know.”
“Ah yes, you paint a vivid picture.” She elbows him. “Fine, be a cagey little shit. Are you happy at least?”
Hikaru doesn’t even need to think about it. “Yes.”
They sit in much more comfortable silence for a few more minutes before Hikaru stands up to leave. His hand is on the doorknob when she throws the shot that pierces through him like ice.
“You know, you’ll have to tell mom and dad.”
“I told my parents.”
There’s that icy feeling again. Hikaru sits up so fast he feels a bit lightheaded. “What?”
“I told my parents,” Pavel repeats slowly, like Hikaru’s the ESL. “About you and I. Last night during our Skype chat.”
“You… ah, that’s… uh… yes, so.” Hikaru used to know how to speak before Pavel came into his life.
“Yes.” Pavel nods, as if Hikaru’s said something coherent. “They were pleased, mostly.”
“Mostly?” Hikaru parrots.
Pavel shrugs. “Mom is not happy that we live in the same house. Dad would like to meet you, over Skype. But they seem good. They are not surprised. I told them I am homosexual last year.”
“I see.” Hikaru doesn’t see. How does everything seem so matter-of-fact in the Chekov household? “How did they take it when you told them you’re,” he rubs his knee, “gay?”
Hikaru’s feeling of Really?! must be showing on his face because Pavel continues: “They said it was no surprise, I never had girlfriends. My Uncle Andrei is a gay, is that the word here?”
Hikaru nods. Wordless still.
“So they already know about such…things.” Pavel places a hand on Hikaru’s. “They are professors, no not the word. Well, they are professors, but I mean, they are intellectuals. They read until they understand.”
Pavel’s hand is warm.
Hikaru leans back again – they’d been lying back against the headboard. He takes a few moments just breathing.
“That’s good,” he says, finally. “I’m not sure it will be like that with my folks.”
Pavel shifts and puts his arm around Hikaru. “You do not know that. Your parents are good people.”
“Yeah,” Hikaru sighs. “This will just be so… foreign to them.”
“Did we tell you, Hikaru,” his mom passes him the beans, “that your cousin Evie is studying to be a teacher?”
It’s a simple question. Not complicated at all. But Hikaru’s brain is far away in the oh-fuck-how-do-I-tell-my-parents-I’m-gay land of panic.
“Um, er, oh teacher?” Hikaru manages vaguely.
“Oh really?” Pavel leans in, as if this is the most fascinating news he’s ever heard. “What will be her specialty?”
He gulps some of his water, then notices his dad eyeing him. He swallows too quickly and it goes down the wrong way. He’s saved from him dad asking him anything by his mother rushing over to comfort him, and remind him how to correctly drink a beverage.
He barely manages to resist an eye roll.
As he leaves the dinner table and walks upstairs to his room, he feels like he’s sneaking around.
Even though he’s moving in plain sight.
He doesn’t feel he can exhale until the next day when he’s doing just that in Jim’s car.
He passes the joint to Jim. “God, I needed that.”
“I know.” Jim takes a while to thoroughly inhale. “You’ve been more uptight than Mr. Spock lately, and only he can make it sexy.”
Hikaru rolls his eyes.
They pass the joint back and forth until it’s finished.
“Pavel told his parents about us.”
“They took it well.”
“Should hope so, Pavel’s always going on about their greatness.”
“I don’t think my folks will react… well. At all.” Hikaru sighs. All the tension is back.
Jim fiddles with his lighter, turning it off and on. “But you want to tell them?”
Even though it’s phrased like a question, it’s clearly not. “It feels,” not wrong, but maybe, “dishonest not to.”
“Should have known you’d have some noble reason like that.” Jim slings his arm around Hikaru and pulls him close. It’s awkward with the parking break between them, but Hikaru doesn’t move away.
Hikaru rests his head against Jim’s shoulder and wishes for this moment to never end.
It does end, of course, the way that moments do.
“Okay,” Jim pulls back, looking serious, “here’s what you need to do. Don’t break it to them all at once. Do what I did with mom, first tell them you’re a big ole queer. Give them time to get used to it. If you can time it the day before a long business trip, I advise it. Once some time has passed, then tell them about you and Pavel.”
“That’s…” Hikaru thinks through the plan, “really smart.”
“Well,” Jim stretches, “I am a genius.”
Some of the tension leaves Hikaru’s shoulders. “It could actually work.”
“Duh,” Jim says.
The timing is good. Pavel had been studying at Nyota’s and stayed for dinner, so it’s just the three of them. Hikaru and his serious-looking mom and dad.
Hikaru now realizes what an effective buffer Pavel has been.
His mom is actually asking him if there’s something he wants to tell them. How do they know these things?
“What? Why?” Hikaru manages.
“I thought something might be bothering you.” His mom puts down her water. “You’ve hardly touched the Udon, and it’s your favorite.”
It’s true, it is. His mom adds just the right amount of salt, it’s addictive.
Hikaru genuinely feels hot around the collar and tugs at his t-shirt. “Actually, it’s good you asked,” he says around a suddenly dry mouth.
His dad lays down his spoon.
It’s like a standoff, over Udon. Not exactly a showdown at high noon, but somehow that’s exactly how it feels.
“Okay, so.” Hikaru runs a hand through his hair. “This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and, well,” he decides to just go for it, “I’m gay.”
Hikaru swears he can hear a clock ticking, even though they don’t have any analog clocks anymore. Maybe it’s a neighbor’s.
He should say something else, but can’t think of anything other than, “I used to be about 88 percent sure I was gay, but now that I’ve fucked a boy? One hundred.” And that doesn’t seem quite appropriate.
“Gay,” his mom says, nodding. “Okay, thank you for telling us.”
His dad nods.
Hikaru exhales. He hadn’t even realized he was holding his breath.
“We just want you to be happy.” His mom looks him in the eye. “Are you?”
Hikaru nods, not trusting himself to speak.
They all go back to their bowls.
Hikaru eats his soup, blinking furiously.
He helps with the dishes and when he’s done, his mom gives him a quick hug and pats his shoulder. “You’re a good boy,” she murmurs.
Maybe he should have told them he was gay sooner. Maybe they would have cut him some slack.
Nah, never would have happened.
He’s retreating to his room when his dad waves him into the study.
His dad hands him a picture.
“Is this grandma? Your mom?” He’s never been big into the family photos.
His dad nods.
“This was taken a year before the war.” He doesn’t have to say which one. “Before they were sent to the Internment Camps.”
“She’s young. Like 13, maybe?”
“Somewhere around there. She didn’t talk about it much.”
“I can’t even imagine.” It’s the kind of history Hikaru doesn’t like to think about.
“So long ago. Sometimes I think things have changed, but when I watch the news I wonder.” His dad shakes his head.
Hikaru doesn’t know what to say. He gazes at this serious girl standing beside a fishing boat.
“When the government apologized,” his dad pauses, “your grandparents invested the money for their grandchildren.”
“Really?” This is news to Hikaru.
“It’s paying for your sister’s education, and will pay for yours.” Hikaru can hear the unspoken, “so don’t screw it up.”
“That’s, wow. Great to know I don’t have to worry about big student loans.” Seeing his dad’s look, he hastily adds, “But don’t worry, I will study hard. Now and in the future.”
His dad nods.
Before they can do their usual hug avoidance, his mom comes in. “Hikaru, I’ve just remembered that that actor from the Star Trekking movies, George Takei, is gay! I’ve always liked him!”
“Yeah, he’s great. I like him, too.”
Hikaru leaves chuckling.
It’s only when he’s back in his room that the other shoe drops.
He still has to tell them about Pavel.
When Pavel sneaks into his room later, Hikaru hugs him tight.
For the first time in a long time, they just lie there, no kissing or anything.
It’s actually not bad.
Pavel wants to be there when Hikaru tells his parents about them. Of course he does, he loves this honesty crap. And is all about integrity.
Hikaru may respect the hell out of Pavel’s integrity, but he questions the wisdom of them revealing the news together.
Still, it’s not like he has a better idea.
It’s a week and a half after Hikaru’s gay revelation, and they’re just finishing dinner.
Pavel brushes his foot against Hikaru’s, and he knows it’s time.
He takes a long drink of water. Hydration is important, he thinks slightly hysterically.
“So, uh, mom, dad, we, uh, I mean, Pavel and I…” Pavel nods at him, smiles. “We want to tell you something.”
“Oh?” His mom furrows her brow, like she did the one time Mariko wasn’t top of her class.
“Well, you see, Pavel and I are dating. We, um,” he glances at Pavel who smiles again, “like each other a lot.”
His dad is the master of poker face right now. Lady Gaga would be proud.
His mom picks up her water glass, then puts it back down.
“I am sorry. I do not wish to be ungrateful for your hospitality.” Pavel sounds formal, awkward.
His dad stands up. “Pavel, could you give us some privacy? Jane and I need to talk to Hikaru alone.”
“No, that’s not – ” His dad shoots him a look, and Hikaru stops talking.
Pavel nods. “Of course. Thank you for dinner, Mrs. Sulu.”
They sit in silence, as if they’re all listening to Pavel walk down the hall, into his bedroom and close the door.
“Hikaru,” his dad is frowning, “this is serious. You can’t be ‘dating,’” his dad actually uses air quotes, “a kid – a guest – living in our house.”
“He’s not a kid, he’s sixteen.” Hikaru’s not really sure that’s the winning argument.
His mom places a hand on his. “It’s not appropriate.”
“But his parents know!” Hikaru’s pretty sure this isn’t the winning argument either. “And they’re okay with it.” That may be exaggerating, since it didn’t sound like they were too keen on the cohabitation thing either.
His dad sighs and it somehow makes Hikaru see all his dad’s wrinkles. “We’re not okay with this situation.”
“But, I think – ” Desperation is building inside him.
“No.” His dad’s voice is firm. “Your mom and I need to discuss how to proceed. You’re excused.”
It takes all of Hikaru’s will power not to burst into Pavel’s room (and possibly hysterics). Instead he slips into his own room and closes the door.
It’s just not the kind of situation for slamming even though Hikaru has all this energy inside him. Like at this moment he’s sure he could single-handedly lead the football team to victory, just ploughing through the opposing linebackers as if they’re nothing.
Instead he paces.
And clenches his fists.
It’s a long night.
It’s three a.m. and his brain has worked through every awful “what if” scenario. Each one has Pavel farther away from him than the preceding one.
With no solution or sleep in sight, Hikaru tiptoes out of his room and into Pavel’s.
Not surprisingly, Pavel is awake.
He slides onto the bed beside Pavel, careful to avoid creaking bed springs.
He takes Pavel’s hand.
Pavel squeezes his hand and is silent.
There’s nothing to say.
After the tense silence of breakfast, it’s actually a relief to be at school.
Jim sauntering towards him, like he doesn’t have a care in the world, is the best thing Hikaru’s seen all day. Pavel just tore himself from Hikaru’s side to go to his English class and Hikaru feels like a part of him is gone forever.
“Hey, Hikaru, so Bones and I – oh god, who died?” Jim peers at his face. “Oh god, who died?”
Hikaru doesn’t think he can talk about it, but it all comes out in a tumble of words. Somehow, Jim parses the mess and responds by wrapping Hikaru in a hug. He should be embarrassed but only feels grateful.
Jim is in the midst of formulating an insane and improbable plan that involves Bones impersonating Jim’s mom (who’s unhelpfully away on business) so that Pavel can stay at Jim’s place, when Hikaru figures out the (at least temporary) solution to his problems.
He holds up a hand. “I’ve got a better idea. Well, actually a horrible idea. Definitely the worst idea ever, except for yours.”
When Hikaru was eight he got in trouble for hitting his sister. All he recalls about the incident is his deep sense that an injustice had been done. And that his only recourse was to run away.
In other words, he filled his backpack with an impractical assortment of toys and comics, and walked two blocks to the Uhura home.
He remembers the way they invited him in and how Mr. Uhura made him the best tasting grilled cheese sandwich. He remembers dipping it in ketchup and grinning across the table at Nyota.
He remembers that warm smile now as he approaches her, lead in his gut.
She looks up, a book in her hand, and frowns. “Hikaru.”
It’s not promising, but he remembers Pavel’s words when they arrived to school – “It’ll be okay, Hikaru” – and knows that he has to make it so.
“Uh.” Of course that doesn’t make him suddenly eloquent. “So my parents – well, Pavel and I – you see, we’re – ”
Nyota holds up a hand. “Hikaru, I’m going to stop you there. I heard what happened from Pavel.”
Hikaru breathes a sigh of relief.
“Are you okay?” She sounds like she really wants to know.
“Me?” Hikaru’s panic mode hasn’t extended to how he feels. “Worried about Pavel. Sorta freaking out.”
“Yeah.” She nods. They stand there for a second, her arm moves towards him but stops and she tucks some hair behind her ear instead. “Is there – ? Let me know if I can help.”
“Actually,” Hikaru takes a deep breath, “there was something I wanted to ask you.”
Two weeks pass, but with everything that happens it feels more like two months.
His parents don’t have the full-on meltdown he’d imagined. Rather, they remain calm and rationally investigate the best options for Pavel.
It turns out Mr. Spock can be quite useful in this kind of situation, and helps them find a new home for Pavel: Jim’s. Not only is Jim delighted by getting to interact with Mr. Spock (“one sexy motherfucker”), but he also seems pretty happy to have a roommate. Against all odds, Mrs. Kirk returns home at the height of the Pavel Housing Crisis and agrees to the plan.
Even more improbable, the whole Housing Crisis results in a second positive interaction between him and Nyota. Still awkward, maybe, especially on Hikaru’s part, but nice.
His conversation with Mariko is more dramatic.
“Oh. My. God.”
Hikaru holds the phone away from his ear.
“Pavel? And you? You and Pavel?!”
“Yeah.” A smile creeps on his face.
“You and the boy living in my room. Oh my god, my bed,” Mariko chokes out.
“Whoa, whoa, it’s cool.” He holds his hand up, even though she can’t see it. “Your bed is the safe virginal temple it always has been.”
“Don’t worry, now that mom and dad know, I’m sure they won’t leave us alone in the house ever again.”
“You never know, they’ve been pretty cool about all this.” He can hear music and laughter in the background, dorm life sounds loud. “I swear they’re easier on you than me. Probably because you’re a boy.”
“What?!” Hikaru snorts. “As if I could live up to perfect princess you. They got me an exchange student because they felt my A minuses weren’t good enough. Although that turned out differently than they’d hoped.”
It’s Mariko’s turn to snort. “Mom and dad: the accidental matchmakers. Maybe I’ll move back home and we can get another exchange student. I’m visualizing a tall basketball player type.” The background noise gets louder. “Okay, gotta go. Later, loser.”
He had to go anyway, Pavel is coming over dinner tonight. This won’t be weird at all.
It’s actually not that weird. It feels like all the other family dinners, except for the last awkward revelatory one. Pavel is politely inquiring about his parents’ days, and they about his.
“Ms. Marcus says my English is very improved. I can move to regular English classes!” Pavel beams.
His parents beam back.
“Wow, that’s great!” Hikaru realizes he’s beaming, too.
“Glad your hard work is paying off,” his dad says. The emphasis is likely for Hikaru’s benefit, but right now Hikaru can’t care.
“Yes.” Pavel nods. “Especially since my parents and I have talked about me staying here for university. The situation at home is…” Pavel looks down, folds his napkin. “… concerning. It is best for me to not return, right now.”
“I agree.” His mom is also nodding. “You’ll be much safer here.”
Hikaru joins in the nodding. Of course, his reasons are far less altruistic.
They end up back at Jim’s, like old times. Only it’s Pavel’s place, too, now. One of the Fast and the Furious movies is playing. They’re not paying attention.
“You sure you want to do all that,” Jim swings his arms, sloshing beer on himself, “again?”
“Still not sure the knee will be up for it, but if it is, and the physiotherapist is optimistic, then I’m definitely playing baseball.”
Pavel sits up from where he’d been curled against Hikaru. “Oh! I will get to see you playing the small ball game!”
Jim chokes on his beer. McCoy actually laughs. Out loud.
Hikaru chokes on his beer. He’s never heard McCoy emit such an obvious sound of amusement before.
Pavel looks simultaneously bewildered and amused. Bemused.
“Er, yeah, baseball,” Hikaru emphasizes. “The best game ever. The game of skill and teamwork.”
“The game of the small balls,” McCoy says, raising his glass as if giving a toast.
Jim laughs and slaps Hikaru on the back. “Don’t worry man, we’ll be there cheering you and your small balls on.”
Hikaru shakes his head.
“Oh, balls, I get it!” Pavel exclaims, triumphant.
Hikaru kisses him on the cheek, and mock glares at McCoy and Jim. “You guys are the worst.”
“You just want to be one of the jocks again.” Jim shakes his head, face the picture of tragedy. “The king of the school.”
He grabs Pavel’s hand and squeezes. “Nah, I already am.”
This is the year Hikaru plays sports again.
When he realizes Jim Kirk may be the best friend he’s ever had, or ever will have.
When he kisses a boy at the school dance.
When he comes out to his parents, and the world doesn’t end.
When he feels invincible.
This is the year Hikaru falls in love.