Most relationships, Pavel Chekov discovered, began with a collision. Being either two antique cars, a space shuttle, or the bodies of two beings--that was how he found love. Through an impact, of all things. Then again, how much more perfect can first impressions get? You could judge everything from the way the other person handles the situation. Whether they gave you their contact information for the damages caused on your vehicle or executed a swift hit-and-run and you meet them face-to-face for the first time in court, character was on instinct.

Pavel Chekov knew that the man who picked up his PADD that had fallen from his hands when they had collided in the corridor was destined to be his soulmate. It wasn't that simple since of course he hadn't the slightest clue of that fate at the time. Plus, at fourteen, Pavel was mainly interested in completing Starfleet Academy--not dating older men. However, that was going to change.

It all started with Hikaru Sulu picking up Pavel Chekov's fallen PADD.

Biting his lip, a young Russian boy walked close to the wall along the corridor of the Starfleet Academy Administration Building. His eyebrows were narrowed as he studied the campus layout on his PADD in hand. The school was massive in his opinion, much larger than the universities and colleges he had seen in Russia. Well, from what he had heard upon coming to America was that everything was larger. Frankly, he didn't mind whatsoever. The bigger the better, his Papa had always said.

Maintaining his furrowed brow, Pavel rounded the corner of the nearly-deserted corridor and ran headlong into a taller boy. Well, with further examination Pavel realized this was a man rather than a boy. The boy/man was Asian, handsome, and in his late teens. Pavel didn't even notice the PADD laying discarded on the floor as he stood almost in awe of the boy/man. Something about the guy...turned him on, oddly enough.

"Hey, sorry, didn't mean to run into you," said the Asian stranger as he stooped down to pick up Pavel's PADD. The guy's accent was surprisingly all-American.

"Nyet. It's okay," Pavel shook his head with a tiny blush as he took the PADD, "I wasn't watching where I was going. My fault."

The stranger peered over at Pavel's PADD once more, "Maps?" he asked, "You're new here too? I just arrived day before yesterday."

"Da, I arrived this morning on the transport shuttle," Pavel nodded, barely concealing his bubbling eagerness. His mind jumped to conclusions automatically. If he was new also, maybe they would be in some of the same classes or had the same lunch! Maybe they could be friends?

"My name is Hikaru Sulu," the older teen extended his hand, almost literally cutting through his thoughts.

"Pavel Andreievich Chekov," Pavel shook Hikaru's hand, all the while swelling with pride at his noble name and also mentally sighing Hikaru...

He hadn't had many relationships in his short life, so this was considered as a crush wasn't it?

Pavel had always been scrawny, or "lean" as his Papa described him. His muscles were wiry, but could handle most challenges that were thrown his way. Not too many were. He was a benefit with his brains, not his brawn. Besides, the adults had thought when he was a child that he was too cute for manual labor. That changed when he was accepted into Starfleet Academy.

Then he was using both brains and brawn to his advantage. Including the notorious cuteness.

"C'mon, just a few more flights," Hikaru Sulu's voice floated down to him. Pavel glanced up the stairs to his new friend who was holding the other end of the couch. They were currently on the eighth of the nine floors of the Magenta Dorm that was stationed on the grounds of Starfleet Academy. Pavel and Hikaru were roomates by chance. See, the system paired together the same gender by random. Since they had been close in enrollment, the pair had been stuck together. Then they were assigned room H4 on the ninth floor and was expected to move in on their own accord. For the rest of their academic careers, they would sleep in the same room unless one dropped out or requested another room. Pavel hoped Hikaru would stick with him since he was the only friend he had. Classes began in a week, so Pavel knew virtually no one else.

Dorms at the Academy came furnished with two bedframes complete with two mattresses. Sometimes the previous tenants left behind chairs or maybe a worn-out couch, but Pavel and Hikaru had no such luck. Thus, they were hauling a very heavy couch up very steep stairs. Hikaru had briefly mentioned that his mother had given him the couch and the two armchairs that had made the perilous journey up the stairs hours before.

With one last effort, Pavel dropped the couch once they had hit the top if the stairs. From there, they dragged the piece of furniture to the door of the last room on the hall. Then Hikaru made a concerned face, "I don't think it's going to fit."

"No?"

"No," Hikaru confirmed with a sigh, "We'd have to cut into it to get it inside sideways."

"Are we going to carry it back down?"

"Hell no," Hikaru chuckled lightly at the absurdity of that endeavor, "I have an idea."

Motioning Pavel to keep pushing the couch, they moved it to where the end of the railing was. Then they sat down hard, sweaty from the days work. The breeze from the altitude blew at them as they simultaneously leaned back.

"You know what, Hikaru?"

"What, Pavel?"

"I can see Russia from way up here."

Within the first month of class, Pavel had already made allies. His friends came in two handfulls. Hikaru was excluded due his prior introduction nearly two weeks before class began.

Two of his new friends were Alex Vicci and Alexis "Lexi" Vicci, Italian twins from Florida. Then there was a pretty girl named Emily Clark who was somewhat mysterious. After Emily was Brian Yorktown, a quiet bookworm in Pavel and Hikaru's Federation History class. Lastly was Landon Smith, Ginger Young, Jasmine Darbus, and Ken Harlingen that was a part of Pavel and Hikaru's lab team for physics.

Never before had Pavel felt so surrounded by people that liked him for who he was. None of them had prejudice against him for his mathematical talent, accent, or his youth. All of them were at least three years older and up. However, nobody in their group cared about age. All of them were either from America or had immigrated during early childhood. None had a qualm against his Russian heritage or accent. Pavel felt accepted for once in his life, that he wasn't too different.

The group stuck together like glue. Hikaru and Pavel hardly went anywhere without the other. They had their own "corner" of the library on the second floor where they met every Monday and Wednesday for a study session. Every day they met at every meal. Nothing was reserved from group knowledge. There were no secrets, nothing hidden.

Until one day at the very end of the semester after final exams, Pavel had nothing to hide. Then that changed.

"I'm terribly sorry, Cadet Chekov, but I have to deny your request for Advanced English. I am convinced that you would perform poorly under the extreme challenge of that course due to your lack of grammar skills and correct spelling of basic English. The only way that you'll be able to accel to Advanced English is if you take the Remedial course."

Pavel's heart sank with those words that his English proffessor spoke. Remedial? He had always known that his pronunciation and grammar was lacking, but to be that far off base? Seriously, a remedial class?

"Yes, Sir," Pavel answered dejectedly, feeling like he wanted to cry. He contorted his face into a thin mask, struggling to conceal his disappointment.

"Here is the information on the Remedial course," the proffessor handed him several papers and sent Pavel on his way.

The cold wind whipped at him as he walked down the path toward Magenta Dorm from the Linguistics and History Building. He shoved the papers into his pockets before his fists joined. Pavel kept his curly head down as he walked, knowing that if he told his Papa or Hikaru, he would feel even more ashamed. Russians were supposed to be good at everything, his Papa had told him when he was a small child. He was supposed to be good at everything. What was the point of being a genius if he wasn't to genius standards? He had never boasted about his intelligence to his friends or anyone for that matter, but revealing this weakness would be devastating to his pride. Or his ego included.

Dejectedly, Pavel climbed the numerous flights of stairs up to the top floor of Magenta Dorm. Hikaru was sitting on the couch outside their door once he arrived. The American was trimming a plant he had grown in that semester's botany class. It was Hikaru's pride and joy (except for Pavel, of course) and received attention every day. Hikaru glanced upward with a smile once he heard footsteps approaching, "Hey, how's my favorite Russian?" Then Hikaru frowned at Pavel's deeper frown, "Whats wrong? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Pavel waved off Hikaru's concern casually with a small smile that didn't quite reach his eyes as it normally did, "Just a leetle tired."

Hikaru didn't look convinced whatsoever and persisted with, "No, that's bull, what's bothering you?"

Pavel's fake smile disappeared, "Eet ees nothing, okay?"

Taken aback by his friend's unusually abrupt tone, Hikaru let the matter drop. For now.

"Uh...okay," he answered, attempting in vain to keep the hurt out of his voice. Upon hearing the pained tone of his best friend, Pavel's voice softened, "I'll tell you about eet later, alright?"

Hikaru nodded and went back to caring for his beloved plant. He would definitely find out what was up with Pavel Chekov. No question about it.

Christmas came by to visit a few days later. Pavel's Papa had business in China, so he wasn't available for Pavel to visit. As usually, another holiday would pass without it being memorable. Or so he thought. Hikaru invited him to dinner at his mother's for five out of the seven days of the week for three weeks during the holidays. Momma Sulu was a sweet, kindhearted lady with gray-streaked black hair. Her voice was always gentle, though sometimes stern when it came to Hikaru. Pavel was adopted into the family of two as a surrogate son by the end of the first dinner.

New Years was a blast. Along with their pack of classmates, the Cadets bar-hopped clubs, sports bars, and beer joints through the night collecting free drinks by some drunk in a merry mood at nearly every place. The festivities didn't end at midnight, oh no, they lasted through to the sunrise.

Or the point where they either fell asleep or passed out and made their roomate drag them home.

Hikaru was definitely more trashed than Pavel, seeing that the others had attempted to limit the teen's consumption until they were drunk enough to just let him be. Not quite as hungover, Pavel insisted that Hikaru drank all of the water forced at him by the Russian. By the end of the day, Hikaru was in tip-top condition due to Pavel's ministrations.

Class began in early January without further incident. Pavel had several classes with Hikaru, but not English. His Remedial English class was at 7:30 pm on Tuesdays, unfortunately when Hikaru didn't have a class.

That first night was a challenge getting out of their dorm room.

"Hey, where're you going?" Hikaru asked from the armchair with a book in hand as Pavel made for the door with his bag slung over his shoulder. The young Russian froze and turned back slightly, "I'm going out."

"Where? You never go out alone."

Pavel cursed Hikaru's overly analytical side to his personality for a brief second.

"I...uh...I have a date," Pavel replied quickly, thinking of the most plausible answer in a rush.

Hikaru leaned forward in his chair, eyes wide, "With whom?"

"Uh...Emily," he responded, his mysterious brunette friend coming to mind first. Emily was nice enough to go on a date with him if he asked, Pavel supposed. Plus she already did like him more than she did the others.

"Really?" Hikaru grinned, giddy with the news almost as if he were a middleschool girl with juicy highschool gossip.

"Really."

"Well, have fun then," Hikaru shrugged, settling back into his armchair, "Tell me about it later, 'kay?"

"Okay."

Pavel gave him one last small (fake) smile before disappearing out the door. Inside, he felt ridiculously terrible for lying to Hikaru--he hadn't done that before, not even a white lie. He quickened his pace once he had traversed the many flights of stairs down to the landscaped path that led to the educational buildings. His guilt conscience kept calling him bad names in Russian all the while.

Three hours later, Pavel emerged from the English Department building and headed back down the path to Magenta Dorm, humming under his breath. Once he entered the shared room, he spotted Hikaru asleep with the book on his chest open. Pavel gently plucked the novel from Hikaru's grasp and set the bookmark on the page, closing it silently. He set the book on the coffee table and went to his bed, hiding the English textbook under his bed beneath it's home of dirty clothes.

Hikaru didn't need to know about it just yet.

For hundreds of years, various common colds and the flu overtook the people of San Francisco. Starfleet Academy seemed to be the hub of the illness activity. Hikaru seemed immune while most of his classmates were dropping like dead flies. Including Pavel Chekov.

So Hikaru, being the good roomate, stayed with his friend as much as possible when he was out of class. He honestly had to since Pavel kept trying to sneak out to go to class. Hikaru didn't believe Pavel's weak explanation that he felt better for a second. From the usually bouncy curls lying flat, dark circles under his eyes, the extremely pale skin, cough that sounded like nails scraping a chalkboard, and the fact that Pavel couldn't even stand for more than a few minutes because he was dizzy--Hikaru knew he was definitely not in the condition to leave the room.

Around rolled Tuesday, Pavel's "sneaky day" as Hikaru referred to it. He knew his friend had been lying to him for four out of the past five Tuesdays. Every time it was some different excuse.

First time it was Emily. Hikaru had asked how the date had went the next day and Pavel hadn't wanted to talk about it. Then he asked Emily and she had claimed no such date had ever occurred. Hikaru had been perplexed, why had Pavel lied to him?Deep down, he knew he shouldn't be too pissed because Pavel probably wanted his privacy about something that night without interrogation. However, the lie had Hikaru annoyed.

Second time was the next Tuesday where Pavel had said he was getting a haircut. Hikaru had accepted that explanation, but the guilty-as-sin look on Pavel's face made him wonder. It made him look like a puppy that had peed on Mommy's new carpet. Of course he was adorable at the same time. Three hours later, Pavel came back with a bit shorter hair. Though, Hikaru wanted to know why a simple haircut had taken three hours. He hadn't even gotten that many curls taken off. Pavel then spun a tale that involved a bald man, a pair of tweezers, and a wig. Needless to say, Hikaru had dropped the subject.

The third occurrence was two weeks after since the week before Hikaru was out himself. Pavel hadn't came for dinner in the Mess Hall close to Magenta Dorm where they ate everyday. Then he hadn't shown up that night. Finally, Pavel arrived at their first class claiming that he had been locked in the library all night when he had fallen asleep studying. Hikaru would've found that alright to believe if it wasn't for the fact that the library opened in the middle of the first class which they were currently in. Plus, it looked like Pavel had taken a shower and changed clothes since then.

Fourth time, Hikaru was convinced that Pavel's Tuesday escapades were not a coincidence as he had convinced himself they were. Pavel's excuse: went swimming down at the bay with a friend. Pavel didn't like swimming and didn't even know anybody who lived at the bay.

So once Pavel fell ill on a Tuesday, Hikaru had a plan to find out where the kid was going every week. He stumbled on the answer by chance. Hikaru, after making sure Pavel was tucked in nice and neat and had everything he needed, went to the administration office.

"Hi," he said, approaching the secretary's desk, "Can you print a schedule for my roomate? He's sick and I wanted to go by his classes and pick up text work."

The secretary, a blond named Mindy by her nametag, smiled a little, "Thats very nice of you to do that for your friend. What's your roomate's name?"

"Pavel Chekov, ma'am."

"Okay. I need your name as a record of pulling the schedule, Sir."

"Hikaru Sulu."

"Okay, Mr. Sulu, I'll be right back to retrieve a copy of the schedule."

A moment later, she returned with a piece of paper for which Hikaru smiled and thanked her. Once he left the building, he glanced down at the courses. One caught his eye, it was an English course.

Pavel waited until Hikaru was gone to get up and grab his shoes and coat. He pulled on his boots, wincing at the strain in his aching muscle. Then he shrugged on his coat. The last thing on was his bag with his textbooks. His vision swayed as he went out the door. The cold air whipped at him immediately as he stepped outside on the ninth floor. Pavel automatically wanted to go back inside to the warmth and safety of his bed. However, his irrational side (even though it tried to convince him it really was rational) decided it would be better to keep on going since he had made it that far. He had to get to class one way or another, he reasoned.

Pavel began down the stairs, cursing under his breath in Russian with his raspy, scratchy voice. His head pounded and his vision went from swaying to fuzzy to one great blur. Vertigo and nausea swept over him in a rush. Then his legs couldn't support him a few flights down when he was on the seventh floor. Fearful of falling over the stair railing to his death, Pavel sunk to a sitting position on the stairs. He leaned against the cold metal bar which was the railing and closed his eyes, soon falling asleep.

Hikaru was angry, confused, and irritated as he walked back toward Magenta Dorm. Why would Pavel not tell him about Remedial English? Conflicting emotions warred inside his mind. Part of him was upset and perplexed on why Pavel would keep something like that from him when he was his best friend. Another part of him was pissed off. Why the Hell hadn't Pavel told him? Why did he keep having to lie? Why couldn't he tell him one damn thing when Hikaru told him everything?!

He was still making up his mind to either kill the kid or forgive and forget after one damn good explanation when he reached the seventh floor stair landing. Spotting the familiar head of curly hair, all other emotions were temporarily pushed aside and replaced by concern.

"Pavel?" Hikaru asked, kneeling beside him. After the young teen didn't wake to that, he lightly shook him, "Pavel."

Hazel eyes blinked open, confusion in the midst, "Hikaru?" Pavel asked tiredly.

"Yeah, kiddo, it's me," Hikaru sighed. It was hard to be mad at Pavel when he was looking so vulnerable and wholly fragile.

"I'm not 'kiddo', eets Pavel...Pavel Andreievich...Chekov," Pavel answered stubbornly, stifling a yawn in the middle of his name as he closed his eyes again.

"Whatever you say, kiddo," Hikaru answered tiredly, lifting the Russian up.

"What are you doing?" Pavel asked, protesting by weakly swatting at Hikaru's hands.

"Taking you home, Princess Pavelina," grumbled Hikaru as he held the younger man to his chest and grabbing the teen's legs in his arms. Hell, all of Pavel Chekov was in his arms. Pavel snuggled against him, arms around Hikaru's neck and buried his face in the older man's chest.

A moment later, Hikaru heard his friend's muffled voice moan, "Don't feel good, 'Karu..."

"I know," Hikaru replied softly as he traversed the stairs, "We'll be home in a minute."

As soon as they arrived in their room, Hikaru laid Pavel down on his respective bed. Carefully, he pulled off his boots, setting them on the floor and hung up Pavel's coat. Then Hikaru gently tucked the huge comforter around Pavel, making sure at the same time that his pillow was comfortable. He moved to leave, but a cold pair of fingers grasped his thumb.

"Don't go," Pavel pleaded with a puppy dog pout and sad, shining eyes.

Hikaru was silently drawn back down to the bed, sitting next to his best friend as Pavel laid there. The cold fingers released his thumb and a moment later Pavel was curled up against Hikaru's leg, head resting on his thigh.

Distractedly, Hikaru ran his fingers through Pavel's curls, stroking him almost tenderly. After a few long minutes, he heard (rather felt) Pavel's breathing even out. Hikaru laid the sleeping teen's head back on his pillow and without consciously thinking, brushed his lips against Pavel's forehead.

Any reprimand could wait until Pavel was feeling better.

It was 3 am when Pavel woke up with a violently churning stomach. He rushed as quickly as he could to the bathroom, falling to his knees in front of the toilet, dry heaving thin air. Eventually he laid on the floor, coughing spasmodically. Then he heard footsteps approaching. Looking upward, he saw Hikaru standing above him before kneeling beside him to feel of his forehead.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," Pavel apologized in a whisper as Hikaru's hand went from his forehead to his cheeks.

"Don't worry about it," Hikaru answered lowly, "Feels like you have a fever."

"Russians don't get sick."

"This one does," Hikaru answered, helping him up, "C'mon, I'm taking you to the doctor."

"Don't wanna go...hate zhe doctor..."

"I'm not sitting around watching you feel awful," Hikaru replied firmly, but yet with the gentle tone Pavel treasured.

"Then don't watch."

"Please? Let me be selfish and let me want to make you feel better? Do it for me?"

Pavel sighed, finally relenting, "Okay, 'Karu."

Minutes later he had managed to get Pavel's coat and boots on and carry him down the stairs. Pavel insisted that he was alright enough to allow him to walk on his own. They ended up in the position that Pavel was leaning heavily against Hikaru's side while the older man had his arm tight around Pavel's shoulders, holding him upright.

Finally they arrived at Starfleet Medical on campus. The nurse immediately took the teen to an examination room due to the number of nonexistant patients. Hikaru then fell asleep in the waiting room.

Suddenly he was being shaken awake.

Eyes snapping open abruptly, Hikaru stared into the face of an attractive medical student.

"Hey," said the student, "I have the results of your buddy's tests."

"How is he?"

"He has a more severe strain of this season's flu and Doctor Bryant wants to keep him here for oberservation of his reaction to the medicine we gave him. You can pick him up tomorrow afternoon."

"Oh," Hikaru said, glancing at the student's deep brown hair and tired eyes that shouldn't have been so mature for his young age. Hell, he wasn't too much older than Hikaru, "Thank you, Mr....?"

"McCoy. Leonard McCoy."

Hikaru waited a week until Pavel was completely well again before deciding to bring up the lingering topic on his mind. The fires of fury that had caught his mind ablaze had died in the time spent caring for his best friend, but the puzzlement remained. He wanted answers. One way or another he would obtain them.

It started at dinner.

Hikaru took Pavel out to an Italian restaurant one evening after their last afternoon class claiming that his health needed celebration. It was partially true, but this was mainly about him seeking answers.

They had nowhere to be that night so Hikaru took his time. After dessert, Hikaru cleared his throat, "Pavel? Could we talk about something?"

Pavel studied his face, eyes widening at Hikaru's partially nervous expression, "Eet ees something bad eesnt eet?"

Hikaru swallowed, "Kinda. I want to know why you've been lying to me for over a month."

The young Russian's already pale skin turned a deathly white, "You know?" he whispered in embarrassed shock.

"About your Remedial English class and you not telling me about it? You lying every Tuesday so I wouldn't know?"

"Yeah, zhat," Pavel nodded, lowering his eyes, "I'm sorry, Hikaru."

"I'm not looking for an apology, I just want to know why you would lie to me. I tell you everything, Pavel, why can't you do the same thing for me? Am I not worthy enough? Am I not considered your best friend?"

"You are my best friend!" Pavel cried out, jerking his head up as the patrons at the neighboring tables bore their eyes at them in irritation.

"Then my question still stands, why did you lie?"

"Because...because..." Pavel's cheeks turned pink in frustration, "I didn't want you to think any less of me!"

At that point, the waiter came back with their change and they carried their discussion outside on the road leading to the Golden Gate Bridge.

"You didn't want me to think less of you?" Hikaru asked, seeking clarification, "Pavel, you know I think of you as a genius. You're so bright and intelligent, how could anybody think any less of you?"

"I didn't want to ruin that image of me you had in your head," Pavel answered softly, lowering his eyes to stare at the cracks in the concrete sidewalk.

"My image of you is beautiful," Hikaru answered without thinking, the reply came to him from somewhere else than his conscious mind, "And just because you have a little trouble with your second language doesn't mean anything to me. You've been speaking English for a year now, right? Kid, you speak it pretty damn well."

"Thanks."

"You're welcome," Hikaru answered gruffly, "What I'm trying to say is that everybody has their little thing they have a bit of difficulty with. English is your thing. You're still brilliant."

Pavel looked over at him, "You mean eet?"

"Yep."

"I appreciate eet," Pavel answered after a long moment of contemplative silence, "My Papa wouldn't have understood. He would've thought I was a failure because I wasn't perfect in every way. I was afraid to tell you 'cause I didn't know if you'd react the same way."

"Now you know."

Three months passed without a major incident. Summer was upon them and no classes were to be taken. They were home free for three months until the fall semester began early September. Of course Hikaru and Pavel kept their dorm since they were active students. Often they invited people over for parties and small celebrations.

Then they went out.

Hikaru usually kept an eye on Pavel when they attended various social events at local clubs hosted by their classmates. He made sure the young Russian didn't drink too much Vodka. The consequences of neglect of Pavel Chekov and the bottle of alcohol were too many to count.

First, there was the fact that Pavel was underaged by a few years. Eighteen was the standard drinking age even though Starfleet overlooked it if there weren't any accidents associated.

Second, Hikaru was always on edge when Pavel drank a lot. He had to take care of both himself and a wily teen in a drunken state if things got out of hand.

Third, when Pavel drank too much alcohol, it was sad. Going into morbid memoirs of his short life, Pavel would recount memories of his deceased mother. Frankly, Hikaru's soft spot couldn't take the overwhelming sadness in Pavel's dewy doe eyes.

So a careful eye on the Vodka bottle was prudent.

There was one time in mid-June that they had a memorable time in an average bar with loud music and cheap liquor. In this bar, named Desperado, was all kinds of people. San Francisco natives, Starfleet Cadets, Starfleet officers offduty and out if uniform, hookers, an array of alien races in tiny congregations--just anybody who you could imagine just short of Admiral Archer himself.

Pavel and Hikaru squeezed themselves together at the bar, vodka for Pavel and Bud Lite Classic for Hikaru. After a couple of minutes, Hikaru excused himself to go talk to a pretty girl he had had in a class that semester that was currently across the room.

A mere minute later and partway through his drink, Pavel felt a hand lightly stroking his curls and a husky male voice in his ear, "Hey, you're kinda cute."

"Cute?" Pavel asked as he turned on his stool toward a dark haired man much older and muscular than he.

"Yeah, sweetheart, your curls make you look like a little boy," the man twisted his lips into a smile and Pavel could smell the abundance of consumed alcohol on his breath as he leaned in again to whisper, "I like little boys."

Pavel tried to get up from his stool as shock coursed through his body. He stumbled back once he stood, but the burly man caught his arm, pulling Pavel to his chest. Petrified with fear, Pavel wanted to scream Hikaru! but his chest tightened up and his lungs refused to cooperate. Fortunately, his savior appeared at that moment.

However, it wasn't Hikaru Sulu.

"Hey, cutie," called an angry voice behind them, "How bout you pick on somebody your own size?"

The man holding Pavel captive spun to where they were facing a blond haired man with a certainly pissed off expression. At first Pavel was relieved that he had somebody on his side. Then he remembered that the newcomer had said to pick on somebody his own size. This blond was definitely not the same size. At least he was bigger than Pavel.

"How about you let the kid go?" the blond suggested, "Lets settle this you and me."

The man, who Pavel was being pressed up against, practically flung him aside. Pavel was sent crashing to the floor, banging his head along the way.

Positioned on the floor, Pavel heard a familiar voice say, "Jim, c'mon, let's just go. Can't you just walk away from this? I really don't want to patch you up again."

"You're right, Bones," returned the blond, Pavel assumed he was 'Jim', as he turned away, "He's too much of sissy to take me on."

Then the real mayhem began.

"I don't think you have any clue how stupid that was. He was at least three times your size and he let the damn kid go! Couldn't you have just shut your mouth for once? We wouldn't be in this state if you had, you dumbass," Bones McCoy growled at Jim Kirk as he examined the various cuts adorning the blond's face. Bruises and blood wasn't anything new to Jim Kirk, neither was Bones' incessant ranting and raving. Usually it made him feel human to hear Bones complain like that and have his mortality thrown back in his face in a fight, but today was different. For one, he wasn't in the mood. Second of all, he was pretty sure he had broken a knuckle and it hurt like one massive sonofabitch.

"C'mon Bones, what was I supposed to do?" Jim asked, finally defending his actions, "He is a pedophile preying on young guys and girls, yourself included, and I couldn't help punching the lights of that bastard. You know I hate pedophiles."

"I know," Bones answered, softening at Jim's passionate argument. What the younger man had said was definitely characteristic of him. James T. Kirk was considered as a guy that "got around" for lack of a better term, but he had strong morals. He wasn't one to prey on teenagers, malign somebody or take advantage of anybody in the name of a sexual rampage, and he absolutely loathed anybody who violated that code of conduct. Bones McCoy didn't know whether Jim felt that strongly because of a past incident where he was abused or whatever the Hell had happened. However, what he did know was not to cross the line with Jim Kirk.

"I think he punched the daylights out of you you, Jim," Bones told him less harshly than his usual sarcastic comments. Of course he didn't agree with Jim on the younger man throwing himself in the direction of a fist constantly, but he couldn't argue with Jim on moral issues.

"Whatever," Jim snorted, laying back on his bed when Bones was finished patching him up, "I totally won that fight."

Bones merely rolled his eyes and called in their two guests to Jim's section of their dorm.

"C'mere," he gestured abruptly to the Asian and the...Russian?

The pair obediantly approached. As diligently as Bones had treated Jim, he patched up the guests. Hikaru had gotten into the fight and threw a few punches after all Hell broke loose. Pavel had managed to escape almost unscathed as the party of four made their retreat to Starfleet Academy and the dorm of Leonard McCoy and Jim Kirk.

"You have some damn bad luck, kid" Bones commented to Pavel after he had finished cleaning up the teen's injuries.

"Goes with being Russian," Hikaru responded dryly before Pavel had an opportunity to answer.

Frustration outshined most of the other human emotions. Pavel wasn't immune to this particular feeling. In fact, he was drawn to it. A small warped glass bottle was buried deep down and inside that bottle was the anger accumulated from his "failures" and the irritation of an overwhelming schedule. Not to mention he was going through mood swings often accompanied with turning fifteen. As per his professor's instructions, he had one more semester of Remedial English and at the same time take the course he had missed in the previous semester. So Pavel often sat out on the "porch" on the couch reading, studying, practicing anything he could so he may get ahead. Of course he had a high "A" in Remedial, but it was a midway "A" in the regular course.

To make matters worse he was always distracted. By people of all sorts. It wasn't just girls he was attracted to it was also guys. Especially Hikaru, his best friend. So Pavel isolated himself to near-hermitage so he could study in private where dirty thoughts couldn't consume his mind. It was actually working until one day Hikaru came home.

With a girl.

Her name was Rebeckah, but everybody called her Beck. She was highly intelligent, beautiful, and interested in botany. Beck seemed perfect for Hikaru, Pavel knew, no wonder he was never interested in him. He had Beck. So now it wasn't Hikaru and Pavel time, it was Hikaru and Beck time. That spurred more frustration since Pavel didn't think it was quite so fair that he had to compete with his best friend's girlfriend for his best friend's attention. That infused jealousy which was frustration's rival.

Eventually after a month of failing to keep himself inserted in Hikaru's life, Pavel gave up. He stayed out late at night, surrounded by the rest of his friends. Hikaru stayed over at Beck's room most days of the week anyway, so it wasn't like he noticed. Pavel didn't bother going to the same Mess Hall that they had been going to for over a year for every meal. Instead, he went to the one by Emerald Dorm where the outcasts ate. That's what he was now. An outcast. Hikaru had kept him anchored in with people and Pavel had relied on him too much.

At the end of the semester, he received his grades. Aced Remedial English and had an excellent score in the regular class. Victory was his, but he didn't tell Hikaru. Beck wouldn't understand and they were inseperable. There wasn't much of chance of Pavel telling Hikaru in confidance.

Pavel then found a new home called the computer lab. There he met several old and new friends. It was the Spring Semester of the second year where he met a green-skinned Orion beauty named Gaila. She ran with another pretty woman named Uhura and from them Pavel reconnected with James T. Kirk and Bones McCoy. Jim was chasing after Uhura while Bones was always running after Jim, making sure he didn't do anything too stupid.

Gaila, despite her outward appearance, was a complete nerd. She knew all that was about computers and various technology. Pavel immediately clicked with her and by the end of the semester they were spending long hours in the lab working on different side-projects. Pavel was now roomed with Brian Yorktown who didn't care if Pavel was out or not. He was a hermit bookworm after all.

Eventually Gaila struck it up with Jim and they were "together" by Pavel's sixteenth birthday. For some reason, that didn't bother Pavel that much. Gaila still hung out with Pavel and sent him to Uhura if he needed company that night. Uhura was nice, they talked and she taught him Andorian. Bones would come in, sit on the couch and brood in his dark way, but they didn't mind. It was a small family and Pavel was the baby of the group.

Though, it still felt empty without Hikaru.

One night the group of Pavel, Uhura, Bones, and lip-locked Jim and Gaila went out to the San Francisco botanical garden and were strolling along down the paths of flowers when Pavel caught sight of a familiar man. Uhura must have noticed him also, for she grabbed his arm, "Its Hikaru Sulu...do you see what he's doing?"

Pavel's heart stopped when he saw Hikaru drop to one knee in front of a pretty girl he recognized as Beck.

His heart thudded so hard that he felt as if it would explode. From the distance, he could still see the glinting object Hikaru pulled out of a box.

A ring.

Frustration and jealousy that he hadn't felt since leaving Hikaru's dorm washed back at him in a rush, mingled with sadness and hurt. How could Hikaru care about Beck so much instead of him?

"Pavel?" Uhura glanced over at him, surprised to see the tears on the teenage Russian's cheeks, "Pavel!" she called as he sprinted away.

For once in his life, Pavel Chekov felt completely alone. Even surrounded by Uhura, Bones, Jim, and Gaila, plus countless other friends he felt isolated from everything going on. His best friend, no matter how much he tried to deny it, was getting married to a girl. He hated Beck. He hated her more than he had ever hated anything or anybody in his entire life. Jealousy was his common companion that was eating away at him daily. He had urges at times to bash in Beck's pretty little face whenever he saw her with Hikaru somewhere. Pavel knew that was impossible wistful thinking since Hikaru would probably kill him and hate him forever. That would be going in the opposite direction than he intended. Though, he had to admit that it would feel good.

For the second time in his life, Pavel Chekov became isolated from the rest of the world. Sure, he was present for dances and going out to bars, but mentally he was somewhere else. Probably planning the death of Rebeckah Mulligan, that was the likely explanation. Pretending became easy for him, so was lying. If anybody asked if he was okay, his response was always "Da, I'm alright." or if somebody asked if he wanted to go clubbing, he would answer, "Da, I'll come." It was so simple to feign attentiveness in class and answer questions as if he was really paying attention. Pavel supposed that was another advantage of being a genius.

The only person who could see straight through his fa├žade was Uhura. She wouldn't take any of his cheap answers, but not push him about it. Pavel managed to have that sort of truce for over a semester plus the summer and then through his seventeenth birthday. Then Uhura began to call him out on it, tired of his keep-away game. She knew that he wouldn't back down if he was confronted by her full-blown scrutiny, so one day she called him into her apartment. It was early morning before class and she had the Kobayashi Maru first thing in the morning.

Pavel entered the partially clean room. He could tell where Gaila's half ended and Uhura's began. Awkwardly, he took a seat in the chair that Uhura gestured to. She merely pointed to the seat as if she was the Ghost of Christmas Future and he didn't dare disobey.

"Pavel," she began, "We need to talk."

Pavel gulped. It was never good when somebody said something along those lines and disastrous when it was the exact phrase coming from a woman full of wrath.

"Jim did eet," he responded immediately, blaming the brash frat boy without a problem. It was usually either Jim or Gaila's fault, never himself or Bones for some reason. Most likely because the other two men were not up for crossing Nyota Uhura.

"No, it is something that you did," Uhura answered firmly, planting herself between him and the door so that he couldn't bolt for the door, "You've been in a funk ever since you saw Hikaru Sulu proposing to Rebeckah Mulligan. Either you tell me or I tell Hikaru what a immature child you've been for the past few months."

Pavel gave her the "oh no you wouldn't" look, knowing fully well that she would do exactly as she claimed.

Thinking about his answer for a long moment, he stared up at her, "I don't know," he eventually replied, "I feel abandoned by Hikaru seence he was my best friend. He's going to marry vhis girl after vhe Academy and leawve me behind. He's already left me behind for her."

"Oh? From what Hikaru told me, you're the one that was withdrawing from him so he went out to get a girlfriend so he could have somebody to hang out with," Uhura answered pointedly, staring him back down.

"When did you talk to Hikaru? Why didn't you tell me?" Pavel shot up in his chair.

Uhura ignored his questions and instead continued, "You left him first, Chek. What else was he supposed to do? You were too busy studying to have time with him so he went out and got a girlfriend." Pavel got out of the chair, pacing angrily while Uhura sustained her argument, "He's not going to get married until after the Academy and who knows, maybe they could break up or he falls for somebody else. It's up to you to be the man he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Understand?"

"Yeah," Pavel nodded, almost lost in thought by that point. What she had said was true. Maybe he did have a chance after all. Maybe it had been him that screwed up in the first place. Everything began to fall into place until Uhura cleared her throat, "Well, I've got to go, Kobayashi Maru today," she smiled sweetly, knowing that he had gotten her message, "See you later, Chek."

"Later, Uhura," he nodded after her. Five minutes later, he found himself planning exactly what he was going to say to Hikaru. He was going to get this right or so help him he was going to become a nudist hermit on the most backwater planet in the universe he could find. There was nothing standing in his way. Or so he thought.

Two days later he was aboard the USS Enterprise with a rank of Ensign and at the helm of the Federation's flagship vessel with Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu by his side. Proclamations of eternal love would have to wait.