Author's note: this takes place in the alternate reality version of the original series and is set approximately two weeks after the final battle with Khan depicted in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
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Ensign Pavel Andreievich Chekov was trying very hard not to sulk.
After all, Captain Kirk was alive - still unconscious from the Khan's blood transfusion but happily, miraculously, alive - the Enterprise was to be rebuilt, Khan was once again frozen in a cryo-tube, Scotty was back, and most importantly, Chekov himself was somehow still alive despite vertically falling down engineering for about 20 meters when the gravitational systems failed. Yet, all Chekov wanted to do was sulk because one crucially important detail was being ignored by everyone he knew - today was Chekov's eighteen birthday.
Yup, the baby of the Enterprise was finally a legal adult. It has been beyond humiliating to first admit to the crewmen onboard the Enterprise that he was only seventeen. Sure he was at the top of the class – the FIRST in the class actually – for the fourth year students at Starfleet Academy on that fateful day that Nero destroyed Vulcan; but, once his age was out…the security officers had been particularly gleeful as they whispered to each other that they shouldn't even have to take orders from him.
"He's only an Ensign," Lieutenant "Cupcake" had hissed just loudly enough for Chekov to hear him, "And he's a kid. Why should we listen to him?"
"Because he saved the ship and your sorry ass," a voice had answered from the upper level of engineering.
"Cupcake" had blanched and stammered, "Sorry, Captain. Didn't see you there."
"Perfectly all right," Captain Kirk had said, flashing his white teeth in a smile that wasn't completely comforting and clapping the security officer on the back, "But you better apologize to my Navigator who, since he works on the bridge, most definitely outranks you…understood?"
Chekov had grinned like a fool as the shamed security officer apologized and Kirk winked at him as he went to the bridge.
That had been the last of the comments about Chekov's age – although Admiral Pike still insisted on calling him the Russian whiz-kid whenever he spoke to or about him.
Chekov was might still the youngest, but he was an adult now.
No more embarrassing moments like when he went to enter a bar with Scotty only to have to walk back to the ship on his own when they wouldn't serve a minor.
No more having to stay behind on away missions because Commander Spock would tactfully remind Captain Kirk that Chekov's obvious youth would insult this or that alien ambassador.
And no more looks from the crewmen when he ordered them to do something dangerous, something that had occurred to him in one of those brilliant flashes of inspiration that Captain Kirk had learned to trust and even Commander Spock had grudging respect for. They always looked at him as if he were crazy. Once it worked they would praise him and so on but Chekov hated those looks…those looks that said he didn't have a right to tell them what to do. The "we only do this because the Captain or teacher or commanding officer told us to" looks that had seemed to follow him around his entire life, whether he was at school, or the Academy, or even on the Enterprise.
Even Doctor McCoy and Lieutenant Sulu had given him that look on that first mission. Granted, they'd never given it to him again but he remembered.
Only his family had never given him those looks and sometimes he thought only his family would ever overlook his youth in the face of his intelligence.
Chekov squared his shoulders. But that was behind him now. He was officially no longer a kid…but no one remembered that.
Chekov walked somewhat dejectedly through the repair station currently orbiting earth.
"I'll just go to oversee the clean-up of the Enterprise like I'm supposed to and when I see someone I'll just mention it…Hey, it's my birthday!...It won't be that hard…"
But Chekov was the first of the Enterprise's crew to arrive at their broken ship and found himself single-handedly arguing with the repair crews about the true state of the warp core.
"With all due respect, Ensign," the Lieutenant in charge of repairs finally said, "You seem a bit young to be making this call."
Chekov felt his face flush and he struggled not to say something rude (in either Russian or English) when a wonderfully familiar voice called, "Oy! Leave the laddie alone! He knows what he's doing! He's a bit wee but he's had more life experience with makeshift repairs than you ever will!"
The Lieutenant backed down, mumbling an apology and Chekov turned to greet his friend.
"Good morning, commander."
"Good morning," Scotty replied, clapping him on the back. "Let's make sure they don't ruin our ship, ey?"
And he was off, already arguing effortlessly with the repair men that had refused to listen to Chekov. Chekov ground his teeth together before following; "And I didn't tell him it was my birthday…"
The two were soon joined by Lieutenant Sulu. Lieutenant Uhura had taken the day off to visit her family but Commander Spock was conspicuously absent.
"Did he take the day off?" Chekov asked the other two as they looked down on their ship from the observation platform.
"Have you ever heard of a Vulcan taking the day off?" Scotty countered. "He's like a machine, he doesn't stop once he sets his mind on something."
"You think something's wrong?" Sulu asked.
"We would have heard about it," Scotty said dismissively.
"Not if it was above our rank," Chekov said glumly. He'd had plenty of experience with that situation.
Sulu gave him a concerned look. "Is something wrong, Chekov?"
"He's right," Scotty said, "You've been acting strange all morning."
"Here's my chance." Chekov took a deep breath, "It's just, today's my –"
A familiar beeping noise cut him off. Sulu looked apologetic as he flipped open his communicator and answered, "Sulu here."
"Sulu, it's Uhura. Are Mr. Scott and Chekov with you?"
"Yes," Sulu answered, exchanging concerned looks with Chekov; she sounded worried. "What is it?"
"Commander Spock requests all of our presence down at Starfleet medical immediately. He says it's the Captain."
"On our way," answered Sulu. He snapped shut the communicator and raced after Scotty and Chekov.
Even running to his Captain – his friend – Chekov found himself thinking "they still don't know it's my birthday" then he hated himself a little.
"Scotty?" called Sulu as the chief engineer raced past the hanger bay without stopping, "The jump ships are that way!"
"We're not taking a ship!" he shouted back, "He said immediately! We're beaming down!"
"To the planet?" asked Chekov racing to catch up, as the two older men passed him.
"Right you are!"
There was no point in arguing with him, even the crewman in charge of the station's transporter room gave up and let them through.
A few minutes later, the trio almost collided with Uhura and the four of them sprinted to the Captain's hospital room. Only to be stopped by that single raised eyebrow on Commander Spock's face.
"Why are you running?" he inquired, standing calmly in front of the door.
"You…said…immediately…sir…" panted Sulu, his chest heaving as he somehow managed to remain upright. Chekov was clutching the stitch in his side, nowhere near the respectful feet-together-shoulders-back stance of a Starfleet officer; but, he quickly fixed that with another look from Spock.
"Perhaps I should have specified that there was no need to be anxious," Spock said, "The Captain simply wanted to see you."
"The Captain?" Chekov repeated.
"He's awake?" asked Uhura.
"Bones! Leave me alone!"
"Damn it, Jim. You can't stand up yet! You're going to…"
"I can stand!"
"No you can't!"
"As your commanding officer…"
"As your doctor…"
The group looked at each other and smiled…everyone except for Spock but Chekov knew that he was as happy as they were even if he didn't show it. Spock's instant anger and race after Khan when the Captain had died had proven to Chekov without a doubt that Spock cared deeply for Jim Kirk and, he hoped, the rest of the bridge crew.
"Captain," Spock said as he led the others inside, "I would advise you to listen to Dr. McCoy. You have been unconscious for almost two weeks and your muscles are not accustomed to supporting your weight."
Kirk had managed to sit up on the edge of his bed and was trying to fend off McCoy who was trying to push him back down.
"Of course you agree with him," Kirk said, "But I'm not going to lay here a minute longer when there are…"
"Then just sit there!" McCoy interrupted fiercely, "But don't try to stand!"
"Fine!" Kirk snapped, giving up, "I'll sit here but don't make me lean back!"
Uhura smirked and Kirk finally seemed to notice the rest of his bridge crew had filed in behind Spock.
He smiled. "Hello, everyone. You all okay?"
"Yes, Captain," Chekov answered, "And we're very glad you're alive."
"I have to admit," Uhura said, "The crew moral was higher than I thought it would be when Khan's blood worked."
"Admit it," Kirk said with is rogue grin; "You missed me."
"I'll admit you're a good Captain," she answered.
"You all missed me," Kirk said with finality. Uhura's only answer was a smile but Sulu admitted, "Yes, sir. Although it wasn't for very long."
Kirk laughed and then said, "Scotty! Why so quiet?"
"Permission to speak freely, sir?" Scotty answered rather stiffly.
Kirk looked questioningly at Spock and then said cautiously, "Granted."
"What the bloody hell was that!" Scotty exploded so fiercely that Chekov jumped back. "I tell you that you can't go in there or you'll die and what do you do?! You go in there and you die! You hit me in the face, leave me strapped to a chair – thank you for that by the way – and just go die! What the hell am I supposed to do when I wake up? Go back in there? No! The door is bloody well closed until the radiation is gone and it is not gone and I call Spock and he comes racing in like a madman and you die!"
"Scotty," Kirk tried to interrupt but the engineer just plowed right over him.
"And what are we all supposed to do with you dead? Huh? Mr. Perfect Hair Captain. And I was the one who had to tell everyone because Spock goes running off. And Chekov here almost fainted he was so shocked."
"No I didn't!" Chekov exclaimed.
"Scotty!" Kirk said.
"Scotty!" Kirk pushed himself up from the bed so suddenly McCoy wasn't able to grab him and half-walked half-fell towards Mr. Scott. Kirk grabbed ahold of the man's shoulders and shook him a bit.
"I'm alive," he told the Lieutenant Commander sternly, "I'm alive and I saved the ship and I'm sorry for making you the bearer of bad news but it was the only way. I'm sorry."
"Well…ah…you're forgiven," Mr. Scott said, all bluster gone, "And thanks for saving all our lives…I guess."
Kirk smiled and then more or less collapsed onto Scotty. They probably would have both fallen to the floor if Spock hadn't grabbed onto the Captain's arms.
"The doctor and I did try to warn you," Spock told Kirk.
"Since when do I listen?" Kirk countered.
"Maybe you should have," Uhura said.
Kirk grinned as Spock helped him back to the bed but then his brow furrowed when he looked at Chekov. Chekov wondered what he'd done.
"Mr. Spock," Kirk said suddenly, "What's the star-date?"
Spock answered and Chekov thought "It's a coincidence. There's no way the Captain…"
"Why didn't you mention it?" Kirk demanded, "Ensign Chekov."
Chekov's face split into a wide smile; "Thank you, Captain."
"It's your birthday? So you're finally eighteen?" Scotty demanded. Chekov nodded, still smiling.
"Congratulations," said Uhura.
"Why didn't you mention it?" Scotty burst out, "We've been working together the whole morning…"
"I think he tried," Sulu commented, thinking back.
"The Captain's awake and the laddie is eighteen we need to celebrate…" as Scotty rambled on, Spock told Dr. McCoy, "It is curious that humans make such a, as you say in your vernacular, 'big deal' about becoming a year older."
"Of course it's a big deal, you unfeeling rock" McCoy told him, "He's an adult now and you can't force him to stay behind on away missions any more…"
Kirk and Sulu were trying to curb Scotty's enthusiasm and Uhura was trying very hard not to laugh. Chekov just stood there smiling. Forget about being eighteen. He'd found a family.