I've been an avid fan of Star Trek since I was about nine ("The Next Generation" got me hooked). And although I'm far from a Trekker, I did watch the movie through twice in one night after my dad bought it last week. What can I say? Bones is dreamy.

Disclaimer - I don't own anything. Not quite sure who does (there are so many people involved, the list is too long), but if I ever get a chance to meet them then I'm stealing the rights to McCoy. ;)


Sssss!

With a soft yelp, Chekov yanked his hand away from the access panel, hissing through his teeth at the hot pain that seared across his palm. The sizzling metal connectors crackled victoriously, a thin whisper of acrid smoke floating into the air, the fierce stench of burnt polymer wafting up into his face and making his eyes water. The release vavle at the back had looked innocent enough, but it was white hot to the touch. And damn, it had hurt.

"You alright, laddy?"

The hand on his shoulder was as gentle as the voice, but still Chekov jumped, startled by the engineer's sudden appearance. Exhaustion had dulled his senses of late; muffling his hearing, blurring his vision, filling his head with a cotton-like something that made thinking and walking and understanding unusually difficult. That was probably why he'd forgotten to divert the cell's power to the secondary bank. And now he'd have to go and bother sickbay about his hand.

Idiot.

"Laddy?"

Chekov turned towards the older officer, dropping his hand to his side and forcing a smile. The bedraggled and sleep-deprived engineer eyed him silently, a frown – caught somewhere between concern and disapproval – tugging at his soot-smeared forehead. The ensign immediately felt guilty. Poor Mr. Scott was still trying to get the warp coils back online and here he was, causing a fuss and making matters worse.

"I-I'm sorry, Meester Scott," he apologised, his words coming out in a rush as they always did when he knew he was in the wrong. "I didn't mean to distract you. I was trying to-"

"Did yih no' transfer the power?" Scotty asked curiously, peering around Chekov at the exposed panel.

The seventeen-year-old felt even worse. "I'm werry sorry, Sir. I didn't realise zat I had neglected to do so until I tried to adjust zee-"

He broke off as the engineer's hand moved down from his shoulder to his wrist, rotating his lower arm so that the palm was facing upwards, the smooth surface of the beat-red burn shining in the bright overhead lights.

"Yih cannae be of any help with a burn like that, lad," Scott said seriously, his accent thickened by fatigue. "Go on, away with yih to sickbay. The captain'll have ma hide if I let yih stay down here wi' that."

Chekov sighed sadly. "Aye, Sir." Then he straightened. "But I will be beck wery soon to feenish zee job."

The Scotsman winced, eying the ensign's tired features. "Not that I don't appreciate the help – because trust me, ah' do – but you've already done yer fair share o'work and...well..." He let out a heavy sigh and spread his hands, tilting his head to the side as he gazed at Chekov a little more intently. "Ach, lad, yer need yer sleep. Mubby you should call it a night. Ah' can find someone with a wee bit more experience to tackle the power cells, an' ut'll be done in a jiffy. Never you worry."

Although Chekov kept the smile in place, Scotty's words came as a punch to the gut. Nodding his head, he bid the engineer goodnight and turned towards the nearest exit, cradling his injured hand against his midriff.

He wasn't wanted. Not even now, when the repair crews were drowning in the ship's numerous problems and Captain Kirk himself was stepping down from the bridge to lend a helping hand where necessary. The captain was useful, he didn't make foolish mistakes that resulted in stupid injuries. Everybody wanted the captain's help. But Chekov's? No.

Their recent run-in with the Klingon cruiser had left the Enterprise a little worse for wear. Nowhere near as crippled as she had been following Nero's attack a five months ago, but the damage had been extensive enough that life support had temporarily been lost. And with the nearest Starbase a minimum of three days away from their current position, the crew were working 'round the clock to bring the warp engines and shields back online. Everyone was chipping in, leaving their usual posts to help re-seal a breach here or replace a power coupling there.

Well...everyone except Chekov, or so it seemed.

The only people aboard the Enterprise who could see past his age and acknowledge his intelligence were Sulu and the captain. But then again, Captain Kirk supported every individual, that was his job. And with Sulu's injuries, the pilot was currently unavailable to back him up when he tried to make a suggestion to the repair crews. He wasn't there to give him that encouraging smile when an idea came to mind during his duty on the bridge. Helmsmen Rogers was an admirable officer, but it was obvious that he thought of Chekov as an inexperienced cadet who wasn't ready to fill his uniform.

And, in all fairness, Rogers was probably right.

Feeling utterly miserable, the Russian teenager slowly made his way down to sickbay, his head hung low and his shoulders sagging. As he reached the desired corridor, he slowed his pace to an almost snail-like shuffle, smiling at the passing crew members if and when they looked his way, often pretending that he was intently studying a communications relay or an access panel if one happened to be close by.

Perhaps he would be in luck and Dr. Mojimba wouldn't be the medic on duty. At least that's what he told himself as he neared his destination, edging closer to the double doors, his back hugging the wall as though he were walking along a narrow precipice. But it did little to alleviate the cold tendril of fear curling its way up his chest.

Although his hand did throb dreadfully – to the extent, even, that he'd given up trying to move his fingers – he desperately wanted to avoid being treated by the junior doctor. Mojimba was only five years older than himself, but at six-foot-four, he easily towered above the teenager. And he had a habit of staring down his nose at Chekov whenever the ensign needed treatment - which, unfortunately, was a common occurance. It wasn't always his fault, mind; things just seemed to blow up around him, land on top of his head or explode in his face.

The doors slid open in front of him and he took a tentative step forwards, peering around the dimly lit sickbay. Only a few patients remained, the blue screens pulled halfway around each biobed, allowing Chekov to glance at the sleeping forms as he passed by. On the far side of the spacious room, a nurse stood beside a snoozing female patient – a young ensign, if Chekov wasn't mistaken - running a scanning device over her immobile body, seemingly oblivious to the teenager's presence.

It looked as though Chekov was in luck; Dr. Mojimba was nowhere to be seen.

"Ensign?"

He jumped, his head snapping round towards the door that lead to the CMO's office. A familiar figure stood leaning against the frame, arms crossed over his chest and brow crinkled in its trademark frown.

"Sorry to disturb you, uh, Doctor," Chekov stumbled, moving closer to the physician. "I was wondering if you could-"

"I discharged Sulu this afternoon," McCoy interrupted, grabbing a loose data-pad from a shelf beside the office door and slotting it into place at the end of a nearby biobed. "He's off duty for a couple of days, but he'll be fine. Although I'd prefer it if you let him rest for now; sleep's the best tool us humans have when it comes to healing. Go see him tomorrow, I'm sure he'd appreciate the visit."

Chekov shifted uncomfortably. "Ah...Zat's not what I came for, Sir."

"Oh?" The doctor paused, already back in his office, and glanced over his shoulder towards the ensign.

"I was wondering eef you could, ah...help me with zis?" He held up his hand, palm facing the doctor, and shrugged apologetically.

Bones' shoulders slumped and he rolled his eyes towards the ceiling. "God, Pavel, not again."

"Eef you are busy," Chekov murmured, feeling a blush prickling his cheeks, "eet can wait until-"

"Don't say another word," the older man grumbled, opening a nearby storage unit and grabbing the items he required. "Of course it can't wait. C'mere. I needed a break from the paperwork anyway."

Chekov couldn't imagine feeling any worse about himself. With all the injuries suffered during the recent attack on the Enterprise, of course McCoy was going to be swimming in paperwork. The teenager sighed. He should've waited 'til morning, the CMO looked so exhausted. Even Dr. Mojimba would've been worth it, if it had meant giving the senior physician an hour's respite.

A large hand closed about his elbow and Chekov found himself being steered over to an empty biobed. McCoy tapped the padded surface lightly, setting down an armful of medical instruments further up the bed.

"C'mon, kid, let's see the damage."

Chekov hated being so short. His legs hung off the side of the bed, the tips of his boots a good foot and a half above the pristine sickbay floor. He felt more like a child than ever.

"How'd you get this, anyway?" the doctor asked, his gruff tone belying the concern in his eyes as he nudged Chekov's hand upwards, running the small scanning device over the slightly blistered burn as he glanced at the readings on his medical tricorder.

"I was trying to help Meester Scott with zee repairs," Chekov replied miserably, his shoulders sagging again. "I zink I just got in zee way."

"Nah," McCoy sent him a brief half-smile as he disposed a hypospray into the teenager's wrist, "I'm sure Scotty appreciated it. Besides, everybody hurts themselves in engineering, that place is a liability – all those open circuitry panels and pressurised canisters." He shuddered dramatically and flashed Chekov a wry grin. "Scotty's men are in here almost as often as you are."

"At least zey know what zey are doing."

A short silence stretched out between them and McCoy grew slightly uncomfortable This wasn't the Chekov he knew and – although he'd never admit to it outright – had grown rather fond of. Clearing his throat, he smiled again. "Say, it's pretty late. Isn't it past your bedtime?"

The playful jibe didn't have the desired effect, and Chekov's face merely fell further. Seeing the reaction, the doctor paused again, in the process of unscrewing the cap on a jar of pentasone-trioxyl gel.

"You look a little down in the dumps, son," he remarked softly. "What's eatin' at ya?"

"Nutzing."

"C'mon, now," McCoy reasoned. "There's gotta be something. Where's that youthful grin o' yours got to? Ya know, the one that makes me feel like a God damn grandpa."

Chekov sighed, watching as the physician as he began to spread the translucent gel over the burnt palm. "Do you-" he stopped, chewing on his bottom lip before continuing, "do you zink I'm too young to be on zee Enterprise?"

McCoy pulled a face, his hand pausing momentarily before continuing its ministrations. "Why d'you ask?"

Shifting again, Chekov murmured, "Well...you did say zat I was only sewenteen, Sir – back when we were trying to rescue Keptin Pike from zee Romulan wessel. And you call me 'kid'...not zat I mind, Sir," he added hastily, seeing McCoy's confused expression. "But zee rest of zee crew treat me differently – zey do not zink I should be an ensign."

The doctor set the gel aside and reached for a hydrocolloid dressing, shaking his head. "I call you 'kid' because you're a young officer, not because I doubt your capabilities," he stated firmly. "Hell, I call the captain 'kid' all the time. It's an older man's prerogative. Well...at least that's how I see things."

A few minutes passed by in silence and the Russian teenager kept his gaze fixed on his right knee as the doctor worked. His mind drifted back to the unintentionally hurtful comments his fellow crewmates had said to him over the past few months, and everything else besides. Every sympathetic smile, every amused glance shared between two superior officers, every long-suffering roll of the eyes...recalling each incident made him feel smaller and smaller, until he was just a tiny, unwanted bacterium under Dr. Mojimba's microscope.

"I'm taking you off duty for the next twenty-four hours," McCoy stated briskly, one hand typing away on his data-pad.

Chekov started, eyes widening. "But Sir, zee repairs-"

"Will still be there when you return," the doctor interjected, fixing the teenager with an emphatic stare. He held up an admonishing finger as Chekov opened his mouth to further protest the order. "Ah-ah, no arguments. You need rest, son. And food. When was the last time you had some of either?"

The ensign shrugged. He honestly couldn't remember. Mealtimes had been thrown out of whack with his recent workload.

"Yeah, that's what I thought," McCoy drawled disapprovingly. "Kid, I'm giving you an order here. You've gotta take better care of yourself. God knows we've lost enough good people already."

"But Sir, what is zee point in resting when I am not even tired?" Chekov argued. And he was telling the truth. Not ten minutes ago, he'd been operating on emergency power only, but now he felt almost human again.

"That's just side-effect of the mild anaesthetic I used." McCoy tapped the teenager's wrist where he had injected the dose. "It'll wear off in an hour or so, and you'll be just about ready to drop when it does. Tell ya what..." He stroked his chin, looking thoughtful. "Why don't you go on down to rec. room six for a little while?"

"Sir?"

"It's quiet, and it'll give you a great view of the stars. Go relax for a bit, Chekov, take things easy." A smile curled at the corner of his mouth again. "You never know what might happen."

Sending the doctor a baffled look, Chekov slid off the bed, using his good hand to straighten his uniform.

"Sank you, Doctor."

McCoy clapped him on the shoulder. "Anytime, kid. Come back again tomorrow morning, that burn should've healed up nicely by then."

"Yes, Sir. Goodnight." Chekov, still pondering over the doctor's odd suggestion, headed for the door.

The CMO watched him go, his eyes twinkling as a half-smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

-OoOoO-

The recreation room was dark; something that Chekov didn't find particularly surprising, considering the current state of affairs. With the crew working around the clock to get the ship up and running again, there wasn't really time to relax with a drink after your duty was over. The lines between one duty rotation and the next had merged over the past couple of days, with each crewmen offering as many extra hours as they could physically manage. Chekov was a prime example of this; his duty had ended over seven hours ago, but he'd felt that his assistance would be needed elsewhere on the ship.

Apparently he'd been wrong. Lieutenant O'Riley's repair crew had sent him back to the bridge after only an hour. But Spock had been unable to assign him to any suitable task on the bridge, so the Vulcan commander had passed him on to engineering. And from then onwards, he was certain that he'd only caused further complications for the chief engineer.

Sighing heavily, he slumped down into a nearby seat, too miserable to bother asking the computer for the lights. Mr. Scott deserved a day off, not him. What had the doctor been thinking? He was fine!

"Zis is useless," he muttered, running the fingers of his good hand through his curly hair.

"First sign of madness, you know."

At the cheerful and familiar voice, Chekov leapt to his feet, almost knocking the chair over in the process. He hadn't once noticed the dark figure that sat beside the huge viewport on the far side of the room.

"Keptin!" he exclaimed, his heart dancing a samba within his chest. "Forgive my intrusion, Sir, I deedn't know you were in here. When zee doctor told me...I'm sorry, I will leave you in peace."

"Bones sent you?" The captain sounded interested, not angry. Well, at least that was something.

Chekov straightened, regaining his composure. "Yes, Sir."

"And he didn't tell you I'd be here?" Kirk pressed.

"Ah...no, Sir. But I will go if you weesh to-"

"No, no," in the faint light of the stars beyond the window, Chekov saw the muscular captain smile warmly, "I could use the company."

The ensign shifted nervously. "You...you are sure, Keptin?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. Come grab a seat." He thumped the carpeted floor beside him by way of invitation, before returning to his previous position; elbows locked and hands supporting his weight against the floor behind him, long legs stretched out in front so that the tip of his boot could tap lightly against the window.

Chekov hesitated a moment longer, before slowly rounding the table and walking over to the senior officer, self-consciously trying to look casual as he mirrored the captain's position. After moment, however, he sat up straight again and brought his hands round to sit uselessly in his lap, his throbbing palm cursing him silently for being so foolish. He rubbed at it gently through the bandage, wincing, relieved that that he could hide his facial expression in the darkness of the room.

But apparently it wasn't dark enough for James T. Kirk.

"Hey, what happened to your hand?" the senior officer asked softly, leaning forwards. The stars illuminated the slight crinkle of a concerned frown.

The teenager grimaced. He really didn't want to have this conversation again, it had been embarrassing enough telling the doctor – and he liked McCoy. Well, he liked the captain too, but that was different. This was Captain Kirk.

"Eet's nutzing, Keptin," the Russian mumbled, looking the other way as he felt the heat creep up into his cheeks. He'd never gain the Captain's respect this way. The only time they ever seemed to talk off-duty was following one of Chekov's little blunders. The incident with that poor Orion lieutenant and a plate of pasta had been a particularly painful blow to his confidence.

"Chekov." The captain's voice was still soft, but the teenager could detect the slight warning tone and it made his stomach twist uncomfortably.

"I was helping Meester Scott in engineering; zee repairs, da?" he elaborated. "I had a leetle argument wiz a wery stubborn power cell."

"Burnt yourself?"

"Da."

He saw Kirk wince. "Ouch."

"Meester Scott made me go to sickbay," Chekov sighed, pulling at his bandage absently. "I wanted to go bek and feenish fixing ze unit, but..." He trailed off, ducking his head a little.

Kirk glanced sideways at him, his brow crinkling again.

"But?" he prompted, so softly that his voice was barely distinguishable above the distant thrum of the engines – which, apparently, Scotty had managed to fix in Chekov's absence. That just proved it, he had been getting in the way.

"But Meester Scott did not want me," Chekov replied, his voice equally as faint. "I just get in ze way."

"Nah," Kirk chuckled, and the teenager was distinctly reminded of McCoy. "With things the way they are, engineering is welcoming all the help it can get. We got thrusters back online only a few minutes ago, but warp? Poor Scotty's got his hands full with what's left of the secondary coils. Damn Klingons fried the lot."

The captain sighed heavily; a sharp, frustrated exhale which told of sleepless nights and not enough coffee. Kirk scrubbed a hand down his face, staring out at the stars for a long moment, allowing the silence to stretch out between them. He wondered why Bones had sent the kid down here in the first place. There was clearly something on the young ensign's mind, but why did McCoy seem to think that he could fix it? He was no counsellor.

However, upon closer inspection of the young man beside him, he could see why Bones thought there was a problem. He hadn't noticed it before, too wrapped up in his own thoughts to bother really looking at the kid, but now that the teenager was facing the vast expanse of distant solar systems in front of them, the soft light of the far-off stars helped to highlight his features. Jim could see the wearied expression, the saddened gaze, the dark rings beneath the teenager's eyes. He didn't look like Chekov at all.

Ah, what the heck. Might as well give this counsellor stuff a try.

He chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, wincing as his teeth caught on the still-tender cut there – because, no matter how big a starship you got, the absence of seatbelts on the captain's chair usually resulted in rather painful consequences when a bunch of freakin' Klingons tried to blow your ass to smithereens.

He pushed the thought aside, running his tounge over the cut to wet is, quietly pondering his companion's situation. Something that Chekov had said earlier bothered him, and he wasn't sure why.

Well, that was as good a start as any.

"Hey Pavel?" he began, a little louder this time.

The teenager started at the use of his first name, head snapping 'round to look at Kirk with wide, almost guilty eyes. And that bothered Jim even more. He sat up, leaning forwards to focus his full attention on the younger man.

"What made you think that Scotty didn't want you in engineering?"

Chekov's face fell again and he dropped his gaze. "He said zat I needed to sleep," the Russian replied, as though the suggestion were ludicrous. "He said zat he would assign a more experienced officer to zee task, and it would be feenished 'in a jeefy'. But I could tell what he really meant, Keptin."

The teenager's eyes bore into his own and the misery within them, the forlorn resignation, makes the ensign look even younger than his petty seventeen years. "He did not zink zat I was capable of feexing it myself."

Kirk raised an eyebrow, something akin to brotherly compassion stirring in his chest as he cocked his head to the side and inquired, gently, "Are you sure he didn't just think you needed to rest?"

"Nyet," the teenager mumbled, shaking his head sadly. "Eet is because he zinks zat I am too young to be a member of zis crew."

"What?" Both eyebrows shot up this time. Where did that come from?

The ensign looked at him seriously. "Everyone zinks zat, Keptin," he stated, unsure as to why he was admitting this to the senior officer. "You do not know what eet is like, to be so young on a ship like zee Enterprise."

The captain opened his mouth to comment, thought better of it, and allowed the Russian to continue.

"Zee crew, zey do not see me as a Starfleet officer," Chekov stated agitatedly, using his uninjured hand to indicate his uniform. "Zey smile whenewa I say someting, like eet is a big joke. Zey pat me on zee head like I am a leetle boy. And eef zhere is not a senior officer in zee area, zen zey do not take me seriously. Eef I make a leetle mistake, zey laugh at me." He shook his head, growing still all of a sudden, his voice dropping. "And eet makes me zink: am I doing zee right sing? Am I ready for zis?"

For a long time, Jim said nothing, his expression serious. Now he understood why Bones had sent Pavel down to see him. It all made a little more sense. And his heart went out for the boy. But he couldn't allow Chekov to continue down this path of self-deprecation; the Enterprise crew loved the kid fiercely, losing him would be like losing a part of the vessel itself. Loyal, caring, trustworthy – not to mention smart – and always bubbling with that youthful energy that seemed to brighten up the bridge every day. He was damned if he was going to lose Pavel.

He lifted his gaze to meet Chekov's and leaned back on his hands again, sighing softly.

"Pavel, look at me," he instructed. "Look at me and tell me what you see."

The ensign's forehead crinkled into a confused frown. "I...Sir?"

"What do you see, ensign?" Kirk repeated

Chekov wasn't sure what was wrong with the senior officer, but he wasn't going to risk offending the older man by refusing to acknowledge his question.

"I...I see a Starfleet keptin, Sir," he answered, somewhat hesitantly.

Kirk nodded encouragingly. "Mm-hmm. Describe him to me, Mr. Chekov."

The teenager swallowed, feeling his heart flutter nervously against his ribcage. Was this some sort of test? If so, what was he supposed to say? Had the captain asked him about quantum mechanics or the inner workings of a system modulator, he would have eagerly given the correct answer. But Kirk wasn't drawing from his intellect, which increased his chances of saying the wrong thing and disappointing his superior officer. But if he didn't answer at all...

Straightening his posture, mustering up as much confidence as he could, Chekov ploughed on. "He is a good leader. Stronger zan most men. Brave enough to follow what he zinks is zee right path and contradict zose who disagree...like Meester Spock."

Kirk grinned at that, his eyes twinkling in the light of the stars, and Chekov's heart soared in relief as he continued, "He is loyal to his colleagues and to his friends. His qweek zinking saved both his planet, his wessel and his crew from Nero's attack, even when winning seemed impossible."

Kirk was quiet for a moment, gazing at Chekov with new warmth in his eyes. "And how old is he, ensign?"

Pavel blinked. "He is...zat is to say, you are-" he broke off, a blush creeping up into his cheeks again. "Ehm, twenty-five, Sir. I zink."

The other man nodded slowly. "Twenty-five, Mr. Chekov. Wouldn't you say that was kinda young for a Starfleet captain?"

"No, Sir," the Russian was quick to defend the older man. "You haff zee necessary skills to admirably command zee Enterprise. Eet has nussing to do with...your age."

His cheeks flamed red as he realised what Jim had been trying to achieve. "Keptain..."

Kirk sat up, reaching across to squeeze the ensign's shoulder. " You're a great guy, Pavel. Mentally, you're easily stronger than most men your age. You're brave enough to bring your ideas forward." Chekov saw the flash of white teeth as the captain grinned in the twilight. "Even in front of Mr. Spock. You're loyal to your friends and colleagues, something that's more important to me than age or rank on this ship. And it was your quick thinking that saved planet earth, this vessel and her crew. It doesn't matter if your seven, seventeen, or seventy-seven; you deserve to be a member of Starfleet just as much as the rest of us. You've earned that right."

Chekov swallowed again, the action made painful by the lump in his throat.

"Sank you, Sir."

The twenty-five-year-old returned the smile, clapping Chekov on the back. "And I know what it feels like to be surrounded by older guys with years more experience than you," he stated. "There are great officers who have been serving in Starfleet for decades and still haven't made it to the captain's chair. Me? I was in the Academy three years. And everyone knows it. Trust me, that can create one helluva stink with all those hard-working First Officers out there. Despite what you might've thought, that month on earth was living hell for me. A lot of people felt cheated, and they had good reason to. And for a little while, I didn't feel like I deserved to breathe the air on the Enterprise, let alone be her captain."

Pavel had grown quiet, listening, enraptured, to the captain's confession. When the older man paused for breath, he coaxed him on with a soft, "What made you change your mind?"

Kirk grinned at that, shaking his head in amusement. "Bones had a little talk with me, gave me a few words of advice. Said that one day, I might be able to put it to good use. I guess he was right." He eyed the ensign with a smile. "You know what, Pavel? You're awesome. Really, I mean it. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Chekov smiled, glancing away from his commanding officer as he felt warmth creep into his cheeks. He hadn't felt this good in days. But there was one thing that still weighed heavily on his mind.

"Sir...how do I show zee rest of zee crew zat I am ready for zis?"

"You don't need to, kid," Kirk assured him, flexing his stiff leg muscles. "Trust me, they know. They just have a funny way of showing it."

"But Meester Scott, he didn't want me in engineering..." Pavel allowed the sentence to trail off, the concerned frown back in place on his young brow.

There was a pause, then Kirk called out, "Computer? Lights to one-quarter intensity."

Although the yellow glow was dim, it still stung Chekov's weary eyes at first. He winced, blinking as he waited for his retinas to adjust.

"What did Scotty say to you, ensign?"

Chekov rubbed a hand over his watering eyes. "Zat I needed to see ze doctor," he replied slowly. "Zat I needed rest."

Kirk jerked his head towards the viewport. "Look at yourself, Pavel."

The teenager did so. He was surprised to see the state of his own faint reflection, noticing the obvious tell-tale signs of fatigue. He reached up to touch his face, tracing the bags beneath his eyes with the tips of his fingers.

"See?" the captain pressed. "Scotty never doubted your technical capabilities, he just thought you needed some shut-eye. And on that subject, ensign, I fully agree with his suggestion. You look beat."

Chekov nodded, sighing. "Doctor McCoy zought so, too. I'm not allowed beck on duty tomorrow. He says I need to rest."

"Well then," Kirk clapped him on the back and jumped to his feet, "better not delay you any longer, ensign. We both have our orders."

"Sir?"

Kirk grinned, shrugging, and reached down to offer the younger man a hand. "You're not the only one getting sent to bed against their will, Chekov. Bones let me visit the rec. room on the condition that I'd return to my quarters within the hour. And my time's almost up, so..."

Having helped the ensign to his feet, he gave Chekov a gentle push towards the door to get him moving, and the two men swiftly exited the room. The corridor beyond was deserted, and they fell into a steady yet relaxed pace as they headed towards the turbolift.

The Russian teenager walked with a slight bounce in his step, his world righted and his mind at peace. Sure, he was still the youngest member of the Enterprise crew, the youngest Academy graduate and the youngest member of Starfleet; but that didn't matter to him anymore.

Captain Kirk thought he was awesome.


Cookies go to my best friend for being my personal spellchecker, and to 'JadeMac2442' for helping me out with just about everything 'Star Trek'-related. Thank you, ladies. XXX

Hope you enjoyed reading. -fingers crossed-

Review please! :p

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