Moments in Time

Pairings: Sulu/Chekov

Authors Note: This " story" is basically where I'm going to put all my requested drabbles, so if you did ask for any, they'll probably end up here. That said, I can't make any promises about the regularity of the updates, but I will try to get most peoples' requests up here- apart from Broken, Orders, Rage or Lonely, which have already been posted separately through my account.

This oneshot was requested by momiji'sunusedhalo. Hope this is ok. Although the pairing will always be Sulu/Chekov (because they are truly AMAZING together) this oneshot is a pre-slash relationship. If you don't like slash, and are offended, I'd stop reading now. It gets more obvious from this point on. :-)

Warnings: Spoilers for the film (although why you're reading this if you haven't seen it I have no idea), Hints of slash.

Disclaimer: Don't own, never will. Enough said.

Guilt

"That should do it Scotty" Chekov said, getting up from where he'd been kneeling next to the transporters' transponder box and wiping his hands on the legs of his trousers.

"OK, Pav" the Scotsman replied, ginger scalp visible over the transporter station as he fiddled around the inner circuit board, disconnecting and reconnecting wires until he seemed satisfied "Can ye come round and test this baby now? It's ah long shot, but if w' can get through that magnetic field 'round that god awful wasteland, ah'll be a happy man."

"Aye" Chekov grinned, moving round to the monitor as Scotty finally replaced the access panel and got to his feet.

"That should do it" Scotty nodded, more to himself than Chekov "Let's hope your idea of recalibrating the transporter to account for the excess gravity on that screwed up mass of rock works"

Scotty looked genuinely irritated that he'd been dragged away from his usual duties and his replicated cheese sandwiches to sort out the transporter and Chekov bit back a smile as he listened to Scotty grumble on about the planet the away team was meant to be visiting as diplomatic overseers- although in Chekov's opinion whatever usually started out as a diplomatic meeting never seemed to end as such without some sort of trouble.

Scotty moved to the side to allow Chekov to access the monitor, the Russians fingers automatically placing themselves on the correct buttons, readying himself for a routine transport.

"On the count of three, then" Scotty said, placing an empty test canister from the cargo bay onto the platform as a test subject.

"One"

A jolt of memory flashed behind Chekov's eyelids, blinding him with its intensity. Slender fingers pressed frantically on the touch screen, desperately trying to get them all him range, trying to save them, trying to save her. Chekov could have gotten them out, should have gotten them out.

"Two"

Vulcan dieing before his eyes, rocks falling, millennia-old culture burning, destroyed and Amanda Grayson dieing along with it. Chekov's done the simulation a thousand times, could do it with his eyes closed, 'cept this time he failed, he screwed up and someone else paid the price.

"Three"

The look on Commander Spock's face is unbearable, empty, his hand outstretched and reaching for someone who isn't there, who'll never be there again.

The sense of failure in Chekov's chest is blinding, choking and all he wants to do is scream and cry because he couldn't catch her, couldn't save her because he wasn't fast enough. He killed her.

"Pavel? Pav?"

Chekov dragged his thoughts back to reality, blinded by the sudden light. Had it gotten brighter? His hands were trembling violently on the controls, and although the memories were fading from his mind for the moment, the blinding sense of failure still nestled in his heart, a dead weight, weighing him down, clasping his breath with icy tendrils and squeezing tightly, asphyxiating any hope, any excuses for his failure.

"Sorry…. Scotty. Vasn't zinking straight"

Scotty looked at him worriedly, moving away from the pad back over to Chekov.

"You ok, Pavel? You've gone as pale as ah ghost"

"I'm fine" Chekov lied through his teeth, breathing out the breath he hadn't realised he was holding shakily, his limbs feeling numb, like he hadn't used them in a while.

"Maybe ye should take a break" Scotty suggested, casting another worried look at Chekov's trembling hands, the Russians ragged breaths like he'd been running a marathon abating slightly as Chekov tried to calm down. "Go an' see Doctor McCoy"

Chekov didn't want to see Doctor McCoy, knowing that even a visit to the grumbling doctor wouldn't fix what was wrong, but if he had to choose between going to Bones and staying here with Scotty and his worried looks, he'd choose the former. It wasn't that he resented Scotty, after all he was only being a good friend, but Chekov didn't deserve his pity, the worry. The fact that someone cared just made him feel ashamed.

"Da, I'll go see him" Chekov said quietly, moving away from the console and deliberately not catching Scotty's eyeas he walked out in the direction of the Med bay.

*

"Well, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with you physically" Dr Leonard McCoy said thoughtfully, looking at the results displayed on his tricorder as Chekov put his shirt back on.

"Zhanks avay doctor" the Russian muttered, keen to get away from the sterile coldness of the med bay and the piercing look in McCoy's eyes. He couldn't cope with this now, not here. He needed time alone to collect his thoughts and block out the memories that kept coming back like resurfacing cancer in his mind. " I vill just be going now" Chekov got up off the examining table, planning on making a quick exit, but the doctor was quicker then that.

"Wait just a minute, kid" Bones continued, moving to stop the young man " I said that there wasn't anything wrong with you physically, but I haven't ruled out that there isn't an issue mentally"

Chekov almost froze, panic catching his heart in an iron grip. He knew what he'd done. The doctor wasn't stupid and sooner or later he'd put two and two together, if he hadn't done so already.

"Have you been ok, Pavel?" Bones said, his gentleness catching Chekov off guard. He didn't deserve the doctor's kindness or his sympathy. He was a murderer, and it was through his negligence that Amanda Grayson hadn't been transported aboard the Enterprise along with the rest of the Vulcan party. He should have taken into account the landscape and the turbulence, and the possibility that the ground could have given anyway beneath her. A blush of shame rose up in Chekov's cheeks.

"I have been fine, doctor" Chekov muttered, his sad blue eyes not meeting McCoy's for fear they would reveal his lie. He understood that the doctor would eventually prise the truth from him, but Chekov knew he couldn't talk to Bones about this. He respected the doctor and trusted his judgement, but he knew what he would say if Chekov confided in him. He'd tell him that it was all right, that it wasn't his fault in any way, but it was, Chekov knew it was. It had been his actions, his failure to do his job.

Chekov cleared his throat, well aware of the doctors gaze on him " I just haf not been sleeping, is all" That statement was at least true.

Bones, studying the teenagers pale complexion and bruise like bags under his eyes, could not deny the validity of the comment.

"Any particular reason?"

The vague remembered snatches of Chekov's nightmares, mirroring the flashback he had had in engineering ,rose up unbidden in Chekov's mind, but he washed them, replying in a quiet "No"

Bones sighed. He knew that something was wrong with the usually bouncy smiling navigator, but seeing the kid looking so lost and young made him reluctant to push him for more answers. He was obviously not the right person to help Chekov with whatever this was, but he didn't want to stand by and do nothing while this thing eat Chekov apart. It was obviously affecting the kid at work now, and that was serious enough to grasp the CMO's attention. It was his job to help the crew through any problems they may have, and he was going to do his job to the best of his ability.

"Alright kid" he said, regretting the words as soon as he spoke them. The kid wasn't ok, any idiot could see that. His eyes were dark, tired, lacking in their usual excitable gleam and there was something in place of his normal cheeriness, like a weight hanging heavy on his young shoulders. And as Bones looked carefully at Chekov, taking in the look in his eyes and the expression on his face, it suddenly dawned on him on what it was. Guilt. Shame. Self-hatred because of something he'd done. And as the jigsaw pieces clicked, Bones realised exactly what it was Chekov was feeling guilt over and he cursed himself for not seeing this happening sooner. Bones felt the same feelings when he lost a patient, but was old and wise enough to know that if there were anything he could have done he would have been able to save them. It was different for Chekov; for all his close-to-maturity, he was still young, doubtful of his abilities, and unaccustomed to the hazard of death on a spaceship. It had been unfair for McCoy to assume that Chekov would be ok after someone- Spock's mother- had been lost on his watch.

"Are you on shift next with Sulu?" he asked Chekov, and the Russian nodded although Bones noticed a little light come into the young mans eyes at the mention of Sulu. And as an idea came into his head suddenly, but he kept his face neutral as the gears in his brain went overtime. He might not be the right person to talk to Chekov but Sulu almost certainly was. He was Chekov's best friend and Bones seldom saw one around the ship without the other in tow. If anyone could help, Bones would put his money on the composed helmsman.

"Ok, Pavel " he said, fixing a look back on the Russian "I'm excusing you from duty for today. I want you to go back to your quarters and have a good solid eight hour sleep, go it?"

Chekov immediately looked panicked, his eyes widening and worried. He couldn't sleep, didn't want to, not when he knew that he would most likely wake up soon after from his nightmares, the image of Spock's broken face, hands outstretched and the empty lock-on grid in front of him.

"But, I am fine for duty…I vill…"

"No buts" Bones interrupted, stopping Chekov in his tracks "I want you back in your quarters in ten minutes understood?"

McCoy saw Chekov's shoulders droop, muttering a quick 'aye, sir' but not before the doctor caught the look of apprehension and …an emotion almost like fear in the Russians eyes. He watched Chekov leave his office, waiting a few moments until the kid's footsteps had died away before walking briskly over to the comm. pad, determination clear on his world-worn face.

"Kirk? It's Bones"

"Bones" came the ever-cheery greeting from the captain of the Enterprise "What can I do for my amazing CMO today?"

"Cut the niceties Jim, this is important" Bones almost growled, but held himself in check "We have a problem with our navigator and I need your help fixing it"

Kirks tone was suddenly serious, his tone always changing whenever one of his crew was in trouble "Chekov? Anything Bones, you know that"

"Chekov won't be coming in for duty today" Bones replied slowly, " but I'm going to need to borrow Sulu from you for a bit…"

*

Sulu had to admit; he was slightly confused about this whole business, as his feet took him at a steady pace down the carpeted corridor of deck four. It had started when Kirk had gotten that comm. message from Bones, he was sure of it, remembering the whispered conversation the two had quickly exchanged, and although he considered it a foolish notion, borne out of some latent paranoia, he swore that Kirk kept glancing over at him throughout his conversation, turning away whenever his eyes met with Sulus'.

After the conversation had finished, Kirk had paused for a moment, eyes vacant and expression thoughtful before announcing to Sulu that there had been a mix up with the rota's, and that Sulu had had to be temporarily moved to Beta shift, due to …Sulu couldn't even clearly remember what screwed-up excuse Kirk had given… something about a new crew-member learning the ropes. Sulu knew for a fact that they had picked up no new crewmembers since their last stop at the Star base near Io, which had been almost two weeks ago now, but he let it drop as Kirk told him that he wasn't going to be needed for the next fourteen hours, and had dismissed him from the bridge.

With suddenly so much time on his hands, Sulu had wondered what he was going to do. He'd considered going down to the botany labs, to check on some of the Tallian Lilies he'd been nurturing into growth, or taking advantage of his free time to get some fencing practice in, but he'd finally settled on going back to his quarters and picking up a book he'd been halfway through. He hadn't had a lot of time recently to get back into the story and he wanted to find out what happened in the end, which was why he was making his way back to his quarters.

On arriving back to his quarters, he settled in, intending not to go anywhere else for the next few hours. He got changed out of his uniform, pulling off his golden-yellow top and black undershirt and gladly exchanging it for a comfortable pair of synthetic-denim jeans and a loose navy t-shirt, settling down on his bed and picking up his padd, on which was stored the data file for his book.

It was about half an hour later, when he heard movement in the room next door. He hadn't realised Chekov was off-duty, Sulu thought as he listened to the restless movement. He hadn't seen him on the helm that day, being greeted by that gormless smile of Ensign Halin as he'd sat down at the start of shift, but he'd been told by the grinning three-eyed navigator- not as good as Pavel, Sulu had thought to himself irritably, that Chekov was helping Scotty out with modifying the transporter and that he wouldn't be back for the shift.

He must have gotten back early, Sulu thought to himself, smiling to himself. He hadn't seen a problem yet that Chekov hadn't thrown his all into, and with the combined effort of the Russian whiz kid and the genius that was Montgomery Scott; there was little chance that they hadn't managed to modify the transporter, probably using the most unorthodox methods in the book during the process.

Sulu was settling back into his book and getting comfortable again when he heard a noise from Chekov's room. He paused, listening out for another sound, when he heard it again, a low cry, halfway between a sob and a moan, coming from next door. As he listened, the sound got louder, more fearful and it sounded to Sulu like Chekov was having a nightmare. It was a bit of a strange time to be sleeping, but they all slept odd hours here on the Enterprise, and Sulu was up, the book forgotten as he made his way across the room to the door which adjoined the two rooms, knocking on the panelling twice.

"Pavel? Is every thing ok?"

Chekov was either unwilling or unable to answer, the low cries turning into shouts, as though Chekov was scared, terrified, shouting for something that Sulu couldn't quite make out.

Sulu was never one for barging into people's rooms without permission, but if ever it seemed necessary, it was now. He pushed the door open hard, grateful to find it unlocked, and was welcomed by the immediate sight of Chekov, writhing and twisting, his face contorted in desperation, shouting, begging, pleading for something to stop, to not happen, his hands reaching out.

"Pavel!" Sulu said loudly, rushing to Chekov's bedside and shaking the young man by the shoulders. The duvet had been violently thrown off the bed, kicked away by Chekov and heavy tears had began to flow down the Russians porcelain pale skin, carving two lines down his cheeks. "Pavel, wake up, please!"

Suddenly, Chekov let out a final cry, his body twisting before his fear-blue eyes snapped open, sitting up suddenly, his hands grasping hold of Sulu's arms as though he was using the helmsman as an anchor to the real world.

"Hikaru!" Chekov breathed out, his tone heavy with panic as he fixed a wild questioning look at Sulu. Without warning, the helmsman watched as heavy tears yet again began to run from the young mans eyes, looking oh-so vulnerable as small sobs started to hitch in his throat, his hands and body visibly trembling despite the heat regulated temperature of the ensigns quarters.

"Pavel, what's wrong?" Sulu asked worriedly, holding the navigator close as Chekov tried to form words through his tears, looking several years younger as he allowed himself to be taken into Sulu's comforting embrace, the helmsman wrapping his arms around the teenagers body and rocking him slightly, trying desperately to think of a way to sort this. Pavel was crying. Pavel Chekov, who always smiled, who always had a joke and a laugh ready for the graveyard shift, was crying quietly as though he was scared, frightened of reliving that dream, and Sulu could do nothing except hold the young man, hoping that being there would be enough. He wasn't any good at comforting, Uhura or Scotty would have been a lot better at this but unfortunately they weren't here. It was just him.

He would have thought that being so close, almost intimate, with a person who was primarily his best friend, as well as his colleague would have made him feel slightly awkward, or at the very least self-conscious. He'd never seen Pavel like this, looking so lost and scared, barely a trace of the smiling navigator he knew. It occurred to Sulu that there was obviously things he hadn't known or hadn't noticed about his friend that he should have done. Despite this, he couldn't sum up any feelings of awkwardness at this particular moment. As Sulu sat himself down on the bed next to Chekov, rubbing the Russians back in soothing circles as Chekov rested his head against Sulu's shoulder, the helmsman felt strangely peaceful, comfortable with the younger mans proximity. But now was not the time to think of these things as his immediate attention turned back to Chekov.

"Pav, come on," he whispered to the young man "come on, why don't you tell me what happened, ok?"

Tear streaks still lined Chekovs face as he looked up again at Sulus face, the warmth and concern in his colleagues face calming him down slowly as he began to speak in a whisper. Sulu had to strain to hear what he was saying, his voice trembling slightly as he tried to marshal his jumbled thoughts; like pieces of a jigsaw that were strewn across the floor in disorder, and the Russian trying desperately to put them back together, reigning in control of his emotions- although to be honest, Chekov had never been very good at hiding his feelings. As things went he was usually an open book, his heart worn on the yellow cuffs on his sleeves. But this was something different; something that went deeper then just a nightmare, and Sulu had failed to notice it.

"It vas the same dream, " he whispered in a hoarse voice, moving to wipe the tears away with the sleeves of his pyjama top " It's the destruction of Wulcan all over again and I still can't save her, no matter vhat I do. Every night 'Karu, I vatch her die again and it's my fault" tears were tentatively falling from Chekov's eyes again, but the Russian made no attempt to brush them away, staring at a point near the floor as he spoke as though unable to meet Sulu's eyes. "I'm a failure, 'Karu. If I was doing my job properly she wouldn't have died and now I have to relive the moment I murdered her over and over again…"

Chekov stopped for a moment, breathing in deeply, and Sulu felt his heart go out to the seventeen year old, his best friend aboard the Enterprise. Oh Pavel, Sulu thought with growing horror, realisation coming at him with the suddenness of warp speed. The Russian had been having these dreams for weeks, suffering in silence and Sulu hadn't noticed. He should have seen something like this; he knew Chekov and his ability to blame himself for every unstoppable misfortune he came across. Why had he thought this would be any different, that Chekov would react differently when he lost someone he felt responsible for? Sulu should have noticed this and suddenly all the small seeds of concern he'd had buried, unnoticed, sprouted and thrust themselves into the forefront of his thoughts. Chekov's tired eyes, the faraway look whenever he'd just been left to his thoughts, his seeming inability to talk to Spock without averting his eyes, as though he was ashamed of something. How could he have missed the obvious pointers to this? What sort of a friend was he that he couldn't even notice when something was wrong?

"Pavel, look at me" Sulu whispered gently, trying to catch Chekov's eyes. He had to fix this if nothing else had to make Chekov see just how wrong he was. "Ensign, that's an order" Sulu had never pulled rank on Chekov before and the words felt uncomfortable and leaden in his mouth, the command hollow and lacking in authority, but it did the trick Chekov's blue eyes looking up to meet the brown softness of Sulus. The helmsman tenderly drew Chekov's face upwards using one edge of his knuckle against the Russians chin, and no matter how much Chekov wanted to turn away from the care and compassion in those mocha coloured orbs, he found he couldn't as their gazes locked, each forced to look deeply into the others eyes. Sulu suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to kiss the Russian but quickly cleared the thought from his mind. Now was not the time to complicate things.

"Sometimes," he said quietly to Chekov " things just happen and there isn't a logical reason to explain it."

"But I could have caught her," Chekov muttered back as a reply, a blush of shame colouring his cheeks in a smudge of pink as he reminded himself of his failure "I've done ze simulations a thousand times, if I had just been quicker then I could have…"

"Life isn't a simulation, Pav" Sulu interrupted softly, resisting the temptation to brush away a wayward solitary tear that had fallen from Chekov's eyes. "You aren't always going to be able to predict what comes round the corner. All you can do is be as ready as you can and try your damned hardest with whatever life throws at you. And I know that you give your all to this ship, every single hour of every single day, and I think Kirk knows that too"

"You think?" Chekov asked quietly and Sulu had to try hard to ignore the pang of jealously he felt at the small amount of hero-worship he heard in Chekov's tone. Everyone knew how the Russian looked up to Kirk but that didn't mean Sulu had to like it.

"Pav, if he didn't think you were trying your hardest, do you think he'd still have you as Alpha shift navigator on the Federations flagship?"

There was a pause as Chekov took in what Sulu had said. Although the Russian was no longer crying, Sulu hadn't let go of him, and Chekov hadn't seen any need to move out of his current –very close- position. He certainly hadn't complained about it.

"And you?" Chekov whispered back, "what you zink?"

Sulu felt his heart lighten and tried to feel at all smug about the fact that Chekov was valuing his opinion over that of even the unfaultable Captain Kirk. Guaranteed, as a role model to the young man, Kirk definitely had his moments where many of his better qualities shone through, but that thought did little to take away from Sulu's pride.

"I don't think you should blame yourself," he said slowly, considering his answer carefully "Even Spock knows that you couldn't have done anything to save Amanda. It was just chance, Pavel, and it was just bad that it happened on your watch. I know you feel responsible in some way but you tried your hardest to catch her and I don't think her death means you failed in your job" Sulu took a breath "You saved me and Kirk, remember? If you hadn't caught us, we'd both have been dead"

"So you don't think I failed?" the question was so innocent that Sulu had to give a small smile, holding Chekov tighter

"No, Pav, I don't" You'll never be a failure, Pavel, not to me. Sulu thought inside, but chose not to voice his thoughts, at least for the moment.

"Thank you, 'Karu" Chekov whispered and in that statement managed to convey all the emotions he was feeling inside.

"Hey, that's what friends are for" Sulu smiled, despite the fact he'd much rather be more then a friend to Chekov, and he felt rather then saw the navigator smile back "If you ever need me, you know I'm always here for you"

"Da, I know, Hikaru" Chekov replied, one of his hands slipping into Sulu's, holding it tightly "I know"

Sulu tried not to let his mind over-analyse Chekov holding his hand – it's just a hand-hold you love struck idiot, he's not confessing his undying affections- and the two didn't speak for a while until Sulu heard the soft sound of Chekov's breathing and realised the Russian had fallen asleep against his chest.

He didn't have the heart nor the inclination to move him, so made himself a bit more comfortable, stretching his legs out and moving himself slightly, being careful not to disturb the sleeping seventeen year old. Chekov really did look beautiful when he was asleep; all worry free from his face and his expression innocent, as though he hadn't a care in the world

Stop it, you pervy old man. He's seventeen, you don't go there.

Sulu shook his head free from thoughts of Chekov, but before he too closed his eyes, he-very softly- pressed a loving kiss on the top of Chekov's dark blonde curls, glad that the navigator was too deeply asleep to notice. He may never be able to tell Chekov how he felt about him, but at least he had the small things like this moment to keep him going, Pavel sleeping softly against his chest with no nightmares invading his dreams.

"Sweet dreams, Pasha" he whispered to the darkness, as he closed his eyes, and waited for sleep to come.

-

Hopefully that was ok for you guys. As always , if you have any comments or story requests, feel free to let me know. For anyone who is reading 'From Perfect Strangers', I will be getting the third part up soon, and I'm sorry for the delay.