"Excuse me, sorry" Chekov muttered as he accidentally walked into someone. It was his own fault of course, it was late and he was lost in thought as he walked down the corridors of the Enterprise, on his way to the rec room. As ever, Chekov hadn't been looking where he was going and when he rounded a corner, he walked straight into one of a group of three men walking in the opposite direction.

"Watch where you're going, kid" one of the men growled, the four ridges on his nose and the earring dangling from his right ear highlighting him as a Bajoran.

"I am sorry" Chekov repeated, trying to get past the three men, who suddenly seemed to have moved so they were blocking the corridor.

"Hey! What makes you think you're going anywhere, pipsqueak?" Another man challenged, human this time with blonde hair, grinning maliciously and pushing Chekov away as he tried to push past him.

" Let me through, please" Chekov said, getting irritated. He was meant to be meeting Sulu in the rec room and he didn't have the patience to cope with three officers looking for a quick joke. They were obviously drunk, the Bajoran was unsteady on his feet and even with his distance, and Chekov could smell alcohol on their breaths.

"Here that, guys?" the blonde laughed, " I think the Ruski's trying to say something"

"Can't tell" the third one, with black hair laughed "Must be saying summat' foreign. Doubt he's even speaking Federation Standard"

"Look. Just go avay" Chekov growled, beginning to get angry now, trying to push his way through the three of them, but the blonde officer pushed him back sharply onto the floor.

"I think the Ruski could do with learning some manners," the Bajoran growled, but before the three men could do anything, a voice spoke out interrupting them

"Is there a problem?" Chekov almost breathed a tangible sigh of relief as he looked up and saw Sulu, his hand outstretched to help him up which the Russian gratefully took.

"No, sir" the black haired one saluted sarcastically "We were just going to teach this kid some manners. Needs to learn his place"

"This kid" Sulu replied, becoming angry at the way they seemed to be treating Chekov "clearly outranks the three of you"

"All the more reason" the blonde one grinned "Now, lieutenant, why don't you just go about your business and leave us to deal with ours"

"Not bloody likely" Sulu growled

"Unless you want to get involved too" The Bajoran said, and there was a hint of real menace in his voice "I mean I know you need to look good in front of your boyfriend"

Sulu tensed, and was about to bite back when Chekov put a hand on his arm.

"Don't bother" he muttered, "Leave it"

"Good in bed is he?" the black haired one asked Chekov "I suppose, being jailbait, he doesn't have too many expectations when it comes to performance. " He ran his eyes up and down Chekov, his eyes lighting up in an unnerving fashion "bet I could show him a good time. Better then what he's getting"

Sulu growled, his eyes flashing angrily, and the only thing he wanted to do is hit them for saying what they were, for threatening Chekov like they had been. The Russians arm tightened on his arm and Sulu turns his head round to look into Chekov's pleading eyes.

"Don't," Chekov whispered "They aren't worth it." His hand pulled at Sulu's arm, trying to lead him away "Come on, just leave it"

"Ok" Sulu muttered, fixing Chekov with a reassuring look "OK, we'll go" They turned to move in the opposite direction down the corridor.

"Hey where'd you think you're going?" The blonde called out after them

"They're running away like little girls. Knew all Ruski's were cowards " Sulu felt Chekov tense beside him but the ensign kept on walking. "Didn't know the Japs were the same mind. They should have shot all your lot when we had the chance"

That comment, directed at Sulu, was enough to make Chekov stop in his tracks, turning around and walking back towards the black haired one who had spoken.

"What did you say?" Chekov growled, his eyes flashing with steel and if the three had been sober, they may have seen that it was dangerous to continue this conversation

"You heard me, jailbait" the black one crowed, happy at getting a reaction out of the Russian "Should've shot all those slanty eyes when we had them all in POW camps. Shouldn't have stopped shooting faggots like you on sight but then…."

The rest of the insults the black haired man had prepared were lost as Chekov reacted to his last statement about the Japanese. Sulu wasn't even born in Japan and the Russian may have possessed a thick skin and a dislike of unnecessary conflict, but as soon as they insulted Sulu, all of that went out of the window, and Chekov didn't even think as he lashed out, his fist connecting with the black haired officers nose.

------------------

"Jesus, Chekov" Kirk said as the Russian was sent into his office. It was late at night and normally Kirk would be in bed or drunk by this hour, but security had sent a message up to his quarters telling him that there had been a situation on deck four involving five officers, jolting him from his state of semi-sleep. As Captain, it was his job to deal with such things which was why he was sitting at his desk in the ready room, a cup of replicated coffee at his elbow, looking at a battered but triumphant Chekov, who was sporting a bust lip and a bruised cheek. Although that was nothing compared to the other guy's involved; McCoy had already been on the comms informing him of the superficial injuries that had been inflicted. It was little more then bruised ribs and broken noses, but still, rules were rules.

"OK, Chekov" Kirk asked tiredly "Who started the fight?"

"I did sir" the Russian replied, with no trace of shame in his eyes. Kirk had already known that Chekov had started it, he'd gotten most of the details from the other participants of the fight; Sulu had been evasive when it had come to that question, but the other three officers involved had been all to willing to point the finger of blame. Kirk had to admit; he'd been surprised, when the black haired officer that Chekov had hit, Yeoman Malachy had told him that it had been the Russian who'd given him the black eye and broken nose. Yeah, the kid had spirit, but he had seemed too polite and sensible to go around starting fights, like Kirk had done when he was seventeen.

"You could have just walked away," Kirk said, but the Russian shook his head, saying fiercely

"I could not. Was a matter of honour. Zhey insulted Hikaru" Kirk was taken aback at the anger in his words and the honesty. There was no doubt in Kirk's mind now that the Russian had spirit, and the fists to prove it. Kid may have been small, but from what Kirk had seen he packed one hell of a punch.

"Chekov, whatever they did, you can't just going round hitting people" Kirk said, although truth be told, he's just a little bit proud of his navigator for sticking up for himself. He's surprised that the fight didn't start sooner. From what he'd heard from Sulu, the three guys had been harassing and threatening Chekov before Sulu had intervened and even then the Russian had restrained both himself and Sulu. As soon as Sulu's honour was threatened however, it seemed that no restraint in the world would do.

"With all respect, sir" Chekov replied stiffly "I'd do it again, if zhey are going to say things like that"

Kirk sighed. It was late and he didn't want to deal with this in the morning "OK, Ensign. You can go now"

A look of confusion crossed Chekov's face "Sir? But I broke regulations…"

Kirk waved his query away "I'm not going to bother with punishing you. In my opinion, they started the fight and should have been prepared for the consequences." He lowered his voice " I'm not speaking officially, but as a friend, and I think you did good today. You stuck up for yourself like a man. I'm not condoning violence," he warned, as he saw Chekov smile slightly "but I think in this case, you're off the hook"

"Zank you, sir" Chekov grinned

Kirk waved him away "Dismissed, Chekov. Get out and down to McCoy for those injuries before I change my mind. There's a comfortable bed calling me and I intend on answering"

"Aye, sir" Chekov saluted slightly, a grin still fixed on his face before leaving the room, leaving the room looking a little happier but in Kirks opinion, a little older. The kid had grown up since joining the Enterprise, and it was obvious now. Kirk watched the Russian walk out before shaking his head in wonderment, considering when it was that Chekov finally became the man he was always going to be.