Hikaru Sulu raised an eyebrow at the kid in his dorm doorway. "You lost, bud?"
Confusion passed the boy's face. Milky skin and blonde curls made him look young; he may have been 15. A pack upon his back and a suitcase in one of his hands, the boy blushed and lingered in the doorway. "Zis ees room 3A?"
"Yeah," Sulu replied. His eyebrow quirked up higher. "What are you looking for? Your older brother my room mate? He isn't here yet." It was his first day at StarFleet Academy. He'd claimed the best bunk and desk for himself and only felt a little guilty about it. You snooze, you lose. Hikaru put a shirt on a hanger and hung it in the closet. When the boy in the door shifted his weight awkwardly and didn't answer, Hikaru sighed. "What's the matter- don't you speak English? I asked if you're looking for your brother."
"I speak English," the boy replied. "I am assigned to room 3A, too. Right? I theenk I am your roommate."
Hikaru blinked dumbly. "You?" He dropped the clothes he'd been unpacking. "Let me see your paper." He motioned to the paper in the boy's hand. "Paper. Now."
The boy offered it eagerly. "Zey didn't say I'd have a roommate." He grinned excitedly before entering the room and dropping his suitcase. "Wow!"
Sure enough, the kid – Chekov, Pavel Andreievich, Russia, age 13?!, admitted to StarFleet Academy with special permissions – was assigned to be his roommate. Hikaru let his hand and the letter drop to his side. "You're 13?"
"Thirteen, yes," Pavel replied. He climbed into his bunk and peered down over the size. "Zis is so cool!" He vaulted back to the ground and flung open his suitcase. "Zis is going to be so fun!"
"You know most cadets go to college before they come to the Academy." Hikaru stared in disbelief at the kid – six years his junior. His enthusiasm and youth already annoyed Hikaru. "I'm just saying right now that I'm not going to let you copy my work. I'm here to focus on my own work. I'm not a babysitter. I'm the youngest in my family so I don't know how to deal with kids." He gave a stern glance to the kid, who rejected it and continued smiling like he'd won a prize at the carnival.
"I graduated college," Pavel shrugged. "I won't need to copy your work. I got top scores." He nodded and beamed. "Vhat is your name?"
"I'm Pavel. What are your classes?"
Hikaru begrudgingly pointed to the schedule taped above his desk. "Knock yourself out."
Pavel's nose wrinkled and his face set in serious concentration.
Realizing the boy was trying to translate and interpret the saying, he sighed. Hikaru shook his head. "It means go ahead. Take a look."
"Ohh!" Pavel nodded and bounded across the room to the schedule. He slung his backpack off of his shoulders and dug through it feverishly. "I theenk zis is ze same as mine!" Once his own schedule was in his hands, he held it up triumphantly. "Zey are!" He turned back to Hikaru. "I already haff a friend!" He grinned. "We can go to class together. Right?"
"Yeah," Hikaru agreed half-heartedly. He turned back to his suitcase and cursed his luck. A kid. It took effort not to sigh in dismay. All summer he'd been dreaming of the adventures he'd have at Academy, the shenanigans, the parties, and of course being number one in every class.
Across the room, young Pavel Chekov was grinning as he began to unpack. "I'm awfully glad to be your roommate, Hikaru!"
"That makes one of us."
Later that night, Hikaru climbed into his bunk and flopped into the bed with a sigh. The first day orientation events had been an awkward mess of ice breakers and team building exercises. Everything he hated. The sooner he could end the day, the better.
"Are we going to bed?" the squeaky Russian accent came from below him.
"I am," Hikaru snapped. "Do whatever you want."
"Well, to be completely honest, I've alvays had a bed time until now." Pavel crawled up the ladder and peeked into his roommate's bed. "How late do you stay up? Do you feel rested? I don't want to fall asleep in class, but it's nice to have so much extra time to read!"
Hikaru rolled over to face the wall. "I don't know. Whenever I want. Go to sleep."
"Okay!" Pavel's voice was full of enthusiasm, as if Hikaru had just told him to have candy for dinner, not go to bed.
"Okay. Good. I'm getting up to work out early in the morning. I'll try not to wake you."
"Vork out?" the boy exclaimed. "I'll come! I like to run. Yes, we better sleep eef we are getting up early to run!" He flipped out the lights and clumsily made his way into his loft.
Hikaru rolled over and faced the wall. "I work out alone."
"Oh," Pavel replied, clearly hurt. "Okay. Good night, then." His sheets rustled as they boy rolled over and settled in to get comfortable.
The silence and darkness should have been the perfect sleeping conditions. That's how Hikaru liked it, after all. Quiet. Still. No fans running. No music playing. Yet something nagged him until he sighed again. Was that palpable disappointment from his new roommate? "You can work out with me," Hikaru announced.
Pavel's sheets rustled violently. "Really?" the boy exclaimed. "Great! That would be great! See you in the morning!"
Reminding himself to quit sighing so much, Hikaru closed his eyes. A kid, he mused. Of all cadets to get stuck with a kid, why me?