Disclaimer: I wish it were, but sadly, none of it is in my possession.

Hikaru Sulu's grandfather had often told him that the eyes were the window to the soul. If that were true, Sulu wondered, what did it say about the boy standing before him, studiously avoiding eye contact? The boy that his Academy instructors and Advisor had made his roommate as they set Sulu to watch out for the boy, to help him out and give him guidance, to be big brother to him.

And by the way, they had said, he doesn't speak English very well. But you understand, you speak English as a second language too, don't you?

No, he had wanted to snap. He had grown up here, in San Francisco, closer to the Academy than they lived now. It had been Japanese that he had struggled to learn, mainly because his grandfather had wanted him to. And he certainly didn't speak Russian!

"Hi." Sulu said to the boy, not sure what else to say. "I'm Hikaru Sulu, your new roommate." He held out a hand to the boy, and was just a bit surprised when it was accepted.

"Pavel Chekov." A thick accent blurred the words, and with a start Sulu realized it was the boy's name.

"I'm supposed to show you around and stuff." Sulu said uneasily. "This would be our room." He pointed. "There's your bed, and in there's the bathroom. Sorry it's so messy, I'm not really all that big on cleaning."

The boy looked about the room slowly, taking everything in, and Sulu wondered if he had actually been understood. Then he nodded to himself, apparently satisfied by something he had seen.

"So do you prefer Pavel, or Chekov? Most people call me Sulu, they have a tendency to mispronounce my first name." Sulu continued, refusing to be unnerved by the silence. The boy shrugged. "Well, classes don't start till next week, so that gives us plenty of time to get settled in. It's after noon, and I haven't had lunch yet, so why don't we go get something to eat?"

He moved toward the door and the boy followed him. Together they made their way to the cafeteria, ordered their food, and found a table in a corner. They ate quietly, the boy studying the area and the people in it intently.

"So, Pavel." Sulu said, and the boy turned his attention back to his companion. "They said you got in a fight with another kid." He said casually. "My Advisor, yours too, actually, said that you were nearly kicked out before the semester had even begun. That that's why you're stuck with me this year."

The boy shrugged, still not meeting Sulu's eyes.

"You know, if it happens again they will expel you." Sulu said.

The boy furrowed his eyebrows as if thinking hard, then sighed. "He started it." He said in that thick accent, and Sulu tried to recall if his Advisor had told him the boy spoke little English, or no English.

"It doesn't matter. Whoever gets caught throwing the punch is held responsible." Sulu said. "You're supposed to be better than that, and able to control yourself." The boy nodded and muttered something, and Sulu allowed himself to smile. "It wasn't that blonde know-it-all who's been irritating people since yesterday morning, was it?"

That startled a laugh out of the boy, a short burst of surprised amusement.

"So what did he do to make you do what the rest of us have been dreaming about?" Sulu asked conspiratorially, leaning forward.

"He assume I could no speak English." The boy said. Sulu frowned, and the boy held up a finger to hold off any comment. "He vas talking, I did no talk back. He assume I no speak English, I did no vant to talk to him. So he say inappropriate thing about people who do no speak English. Since he insult my grandmother, I hit him."

Sulu took a moment to mentally translate that and be sure he understood what had happened. "So your grandmother doesn't speak English, then?" He asked.

The boy nodded. "Da. Is right." He frowned for a minute. "Why come you do no act like eweryone else?"

It was Sulu's turn to frown. "What do you mean?"

"You do no correct me. Eweryone else act like my English is no good."

"Well, it isn't very, but it's still understandable. That's what counts, isn't it? They have universal translators in the service for language barriers, and you get better as you practice and hear it, and you don't seem bothered by it, so why should I care?" He tapped idly on the table. "Besides, it's annoying when people expect you to speak a language that isn't your own, perfectly or otherwise."

The boy looked confused. "Eh?" He asked.

"I'm Asian. People assume it's all Japanese, and they assume I grew up speaking Japanese, and learned English later. I actually studied Japanese in high school, and grew up a couple blocks down the road." He said with a grin. "So you speak what you want. If I don't speak it, I suppose I'll eventually catch on."

The boy looked up, and met Sulu's eyes for the first time, and Sulu blinked. His eyes, at least, were a window to his soul, and in them Sulu read amusement, relief, and happiness.

"My friends call me Pavel, by the vay." He said, the slur in his words not quite so pronounced as before.