Hikaru Sulu stared in shock at the man before him. He had known Pavel Chekov for years, had witnessed fits of temper and bouts of fury, but he had never before seen the man in such a state as he currently was.
He looked as if he hadn't slept in a week. Or eaten. He looked as if food or sleep were the last things on his mind.
It was completely understandable.
Pavel Chekov's world had just fallen apart around him.
Sulu could sympathize. He knew the feeling, though he also supposed he had been comparatively lucky. Emi had died in childbirth, leaving Sulu to raise Demora as best as he could by himself, but she had not chosen to leave.
The woman Chekov had married, the woman he had loved and adored, had left. She had simply packed her things and disappeared.
And she had left him with a two year old and a broken heart.
The two year old was currently playing in the bedroom with four year old Demora. It had been Demora who had run to answer the door, who had enthusiastically greeted "Uncle Pavel" and had noticed and quickly demanded to know what was wrong.
Sulu had taken one look at his friend and quietly asked Demora to take her "cousin" to her room to play. Demora, for once, hadn't said a word as she obeyed.
The story had quickly come out, and now Sulu was at a loss.
What on earth could he say?
He pulled the other man close, and wrapped him in a hug, swallowing back tears of his own as Chekov sobbed into his shoulder.
And Sulu had nothing to say to the man that for many years had been brother in all but actual fact. What did you say to something like that?
"What am I going to do?" Chekov whispered into his shoulder.
Sulu didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything. He simply let the younger man cry himself out, then fixed him a cup of tea.
"Thanks." Chekov finally managed. "Sorry."
Sulu rolled his eyes. "Just returning the favor." He pointed out.
Chekov nodded uncertainly. "What do I do?" He asked again.
Sulu sighed. "Get up. Go on living in spite of the hole in your heart." He said honestly. "Tell yourself that it gets easier."
Sulu shook his head. "Not really. You just learn to deal with it."
Chekov focused on his tea for several minutes. "What about the girl?" He asked.
Sulu shrugged. "Boarding schools." He suggested, knowing full well Chekov wouldn't even think about it. Chekov shook his head vehemently. "Your parents." When Chekov didn't reply, Sulu cautiously suggested. "She could stay here."
"Thanks." Chekov said softly, though Sulu knew he wasn't considering that either. In Chekov's mind, any of these choices would feel too much like abandoning the child.
Sulu shrugged. "They still after you to teach at the Academy? You could do that." It was what he himself was doing. "I know for a fact they were talking about trying to convince you when you came to earth again."
"I vas considering taking classes," Chekov said slowly, "before."
"Command?" Sulu asked.
"Security." Chekov replied absently, though Sulu could see he was starting to pull himself back together.
"So teach for a few years, until she's ready for school." Sulu said resignedly. He was echoing what was going through Chekov's head, and he knew it. "Then take your classes. You'll be busy, but you'll still be there for her more than if you were out in space."
Chekov sighed. "I just don't know, Hikaru." He said wearily.
"I know." Sulu told him. "I know."
Disclaimer: Star Trek does not belong to me.