Okay, so I'm still doing character studies (I'm sort of addicted) but at least this one isn't about Jim!
Basically, I've seen a lot of fics where Chekov gets really depressed over his mistake and ends up, like, cutting himself or something. While I'm sure he would be upset, I thought that was a stretch.
This seemed more realistic.
The first time Pavel Chekov failed at something which actually mattered, an innocent woman died.
Failure was a new experience for Pavel; he had been able to succeed without trying since he was a child.
School had been easy for him, even after he had skipped several grades. His mind simply worked faster than anyone else's, and his memory was simply better. He didn't have to really try. He could sit in class without taking notes—often working on something else during class—never study, and still get straight A's.
Things got better once he reached Starfleet Academy. He was no longer the only genius, so the teachers were much better equipped to accommodate his intelligence, and even, sometimes, to challenge him. He finally had to try, and he enjoyed it immensely.
But he never experienced the fear and anxiety that most cadets felt; the terror of "Oh my god, I'm going to fail."
He always knew he wouldn't fail.
So, when he was sitting on the bridge of Enterprise and he heard Kirk yell, "We're falling without a 'chute!" he immediately realized that there was a way to save them; a theoretical technique that had been discussed briefly in an Advanced Transportation Theory class he had taken because it sounded interesting.
He didn't stop to think that it was only a theory, and who knew if it would actually work? It didn't occur to him that he had never tried anything like this before, so how could he be sure he wouldn't mess it up?
All he thought was, "I know how to do this."
So he ran through the halls of the ship calling, "I can do that," and pushing anyone who didn't move quickly enough out of his way.
And he did.
He saved the lives of James Kirk and Hikaru Sulu.
But that meant that he was sitting at the controls of the transporter when Spock called to request transport. It meant that he was the one who locked onto the signals of the last refugees of Vulcan; that he was the one who didn't beam them up before one of the signals began to slip away and who couldn't find it again before it no longer existed.
It also meant that he was perfectly placed to watch Spock's face as the half-Vulcan realized that his mother was gone.
He watched the Acting Captain's heart break and knew that it was because he hadn't moved quickly enough.
Because he had failed.
And then came the fight on the bridge, when Spock nearly killed Kirk and then gave up the Captaincy because he was "emotionally compromised," and Pavel knew that it was because Spock had lost his mother; because he, Pavel, had failed.
So when the entire bridge crew gathered to find a way to carry out Captain Kirk's insane plan, Pavel did not join them.
He had to prove, to himself as much has to anyone else, that he deserved to keep his position on the bridge.
So he solved the equation himself, and when the Doctor asked, he proudly announced that he was seventeen.
Seventeen, and the navigator on the flagship.
Seventeen, and able to do what should have been impossible.
He had failed, and he would probably never forgive himself for the consequences, but he was not a failure.
He would remind himself of that as many times as was necessary.