Variations on a Theme

by Val Evenstar

When he turned seventeen, Pavel Andreievich Chekov dropped out of Starfleet Academy.

His advisor had raised an eyebrow when Chekov had announced his decision. He was, by now, used to the Russian's spontaneous and, to his mind, rather haphazard way of doing things. Two years ago Chekov had come in determined to command his own ship before he was twenty. Over the course of the next four months, he'd switched his concentration to engineering, then mathematics, then command again, and finally back to math. He'd skipped the required lower level courses, declaring that he would only take them when he absolutely had to, and rushed on to the advanced coursework. Lieutenant Richards glanced at the list of requirements in front of him and then at Chekov's schedule. Only the required math courses were left. The kid was bored, so he was dropping out.

Richards chuckled to himself. This was the first time he'd met a cadet who was leaving before he reached the age where most was cadets were admitted.

Across the desk from him, Chekov scowled. He must've interpreted the chuckle to mean that Richards wasn't taking him seriously. That was, Richards had to admit, partially correct.

"If you just stay and finish out these classes – you could do it in one and a half years, with summer courses – you'd be an officer when you graduate. Higher pay, more latitude in picking your work, and more leave time," he advised.

"Or I could enlist now. I would get my choice of assignment anyway, as much as any officer does, because I've had training that everyone else hasn't. And it would be much more exciting!"

"Or they could put you on grunt duty cleaning out labs, especially if you insist on thinking you're smarter than officers twice your age." Richards could hear Chekov thinking, but what if I am? He sighed. "Now since I can already see that you're not going to listen to me, let me tell you something. Yeah, you're young, impatient, and too smart for your own good, and you want to get away from this old man who's lecturing you like he thinks he knows something. Here's a surprise: I actually do. You're a damn fool for throwing your degree away, and if you can't swallow that Russian pride of yours and listen and learn from old folks like me, you're going to end up mouthing off to a Klingon someday and ending up mincemeat." If the Klingon could actually understand Chekov's accent, that is. "Possibly the only good thing about you dropping out is that I only have to see your sorry face one more time, Cadet."

"One more time, sir?" Chekov said sourly.

Richards handed him a data pad and said, "You still need parental permission. Get this signed, and you can leave. Dismissed, Cadet."

Chekov gave a barely passable salute, grabbed the pad, and left, his normally pale skin bright pink. The door had just closed when Richards heard a torrent of Russian that he bet wasn't gratitude for his advice.

A/N: This started off as a oneshot and then grew a little too large.

This is partly me taking advantage of fiction to complain about how much being 17 in and 18 and above world sucks.

And this is partly taking a look at a new/old character – in the series, the only really notable thing about Chekov is that he's Russian and good for some comic relief now and then. Other that that, he's really quite random. In the movie, I suppose they had to make him a genius in order to get him in the script at all, if they wanted to stick to the canon ages. But it was a pretty interesting new take on a familiar (yet rather underdeveloped) character, so I thought I'd see if I could reconcile the two a little more.