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Title: Free, Freefalling (the Home is Wherever I'm With You Remix)
Rating: PG
Pairing: Chekov/Sulu
Notes: Written for Remix Redux 2010 and inspired by [livejournal.com profile] emiime's story Freefall.
Summary: This is the last place Pavel wants to be.


Spock leans over the recording unit in conference room three. It's freezing in here, Pavel thinks. He wonders how Spock can stand it. Pavel drums his fingers against the laminate conference table. He is nervous. That is an understatement. He wonders if the sound of his fingers will show up on the recording.

"Are you ready to begin, Ensign?"

"Aye, sir."

"I will remind you that you may remain at ease, Ensign. I am here to conduct an interview with you regarding an incident involving Cadet James T. Kirk and Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the Romulan drilling device."

"Sir, may I ask…why we must conduct this interview?"

"Ensign, despite the very real consequences of Nero's actions, Starfleet has not overlooked the…educational potential of the Enterprise's maiden voyage. She was, after all, manned primarily by officers still in some stage of their academic careers. Thus, knowledge of these experiences will doubtless prove beneficial for future cadets." He swallows. Pavel is sure that it's logical to record all of this, that Spock would agree. That he says nothing makes Pavel wonder about Spock's relationship to logic at this particular moment.

It is the last thing, thinks Pavel, that either of them wants to be doing. Pavel wants to be back in Hikaru's bed in his parents' house. He wants to wake up to the smell of bacon, to be surprised by the Americanness of that smell, and then embarrassed for his surprise because Hikaru's family is more American than he will ever be, and because Hikaru once told him about his grandparents' Japanese breakfasts with a grimace.

Tofu, Pavel, oh my god. Pavel likes tofu, just not at eight o'clock in the morning. Hikaru thinks there's something fundamentally wrong about bean curd.

And Spock? Pavel does not know what Spock would rather be doing, but he is certain that it does not involve being here, in this room, speaking to Pavel about the day Pavel lost Spock's mother.

"Ensign?"

"Yes. I am ready, sir." Pavel calls most everyone "sir." It's a safe bet.

Spock nods at him.

"Computer, begin recording Incident Report Number One- Seven-Seven-Four-Three B. " He gestures at Pavel. "Please state your name for the record."

"Ensign Chekov, Pavel Andreivich."

"Please state your age."

"Seventeen, sir."

"Ensign Chekov, you were serving as navigator on the Enterprise at the time Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, Cadet James Kirk, and Lieutenant Olson attempted to disable the Romulan drill on Vulcan. Please recount the incident as you recall it."

"You-you just want me to tell what happened?"

"That is correct." Spock's face is a mask.

Pavel thinks back to the numb shock in the transporter room. He imagines that Spock did not know what or how to think then. He has had days now to adjust to living in a universe where his mother does not exist. So has Pavel. It has not become easier.

Pavel's mouth is dry. There is a full glass on the table in front of him; he has been watching condensation bead on its surface since he sat down. It's easier than looking at Spock. He reaches for it and takes a sip. He swirls the cold water around his mouth and feels, for a moment, numb. He swallows.

"Ensign?"

"I was at my post. I watched them on the monitor." Blue, red, gold. Gold. Hikaru. "I watched them close in on the platform. It seemed…the time went by very slowly, yes?"
Pavel looks up at Spock for confirmation, but the Vulcan is staring at his hands.

He remembers Spock's presence behind him in the chair, how he sat and watched the monitor coolly. Pavel always feels very young and too excited around Spock. The man seems tempered by more years than Pavel knows he has.

"Olson…Olson deployed his chute too late; we lost him. There one moment, then just…gone. Lieutenant Sulu and Cadet Kirk landed safely on the platform and attempted to disable the drill."

"There was an incident when the Romulan ship attempted to retract the drill, was there not?" He knows there was, of course. He's asking for the benefit of whichever Fleet higher-ups will listen to this later.

Pavel swallows again. "Yes, sir. Lieutenant Sulu…fell. Cadet Kirk went after him. The officer working the transporter had…troubles locking on, so I left my post to help."

"You were confident you could succeed where Lieutenant Karlsson failed?"

He bites his lip a moment. "Yes. I knew…I knew I could do it."

Culpable, now he is culpable. He was culpable the second he stood up, so sure.
Pavel is good with the transporter system because he has excellent hand-eye coordination. He once overheard a comment insinuating that this skill is derived from video games. Pavel isn't much for video games, but he finds the monitor mounted in front of his station distressingly toylike. The little moving icons that represent people out there in the ether are colorful in an inappropriate way. If he watches them, just watches, it is sometimes easy to forget that they're people. Falling not-so-playfully off a drill, dropping through the atmosphere.

It's easier to focus that way, and maybe that's what he was thinking as he ran headlong through the long white corridors, so sure he could do it. Brain moving faster than his legs, so fast that his heart still pounds, that each breath still pains him even now, even days later.

"And you did- you beamed the Lieutenant and the Cadet back onto the ship safely."

It is just a statement. Pavel knows that. He knows that if there is one thing that Vulcans are not, it is passive-aggressive. A human might say what Spock has just said: you beamed the Lieutenant and the Cadet back onto the ship safely and mean to add but you could not save my mother. Pavel is human, so he hears the unspoken addition, much as he tries not to.

And suddenly... he thinks about Hikaru, probably curled up sideways on that too-small bed, hands folded beneath his head. He thinks about those hands, about home. When he left, his mother told him he would find himself many homes, some temporary, and some which would last him the rest of his life. In Hikaru's hands, in Hikaru, he knows he has found one of them. And suddenly he can't help but say something to Spock. Because Pavel misses home, but Spock can never go home again, and Pavel doesn't know if he has yet found another home like Hikaru.

"Commander."

"Ensign?"

"I…I am sorry that ( I lost her ) I did not successfully beam up all survivors from Vulcan before it was destroyed."

Spock stares at Pavel, a level gaze. He opens his mouth as if to speak, closes it again. Pavel wonders irrationally if he might yell; it is a fear he harbors around most authority figures.

Spock does not yell. His fingers twitch on the table in the direction of the recorder, as if he is thinking of switching it off.

"We are not discussing that particular incident, Ensign."

They continue, or, rather, Pavel continues to tell what happened, what he knows Spock already knows. He wonders who will hear this, months or years from now. He wonders whether that cadet will lie awake at night, will smell a far-off home in the curl of steam rising from an American potato.

Later, when he has drained his water glass and Spock has finished his questions, they stand to leave. Pavel gets to his feet awkwardly. He is thinking about Hikaru and about a turkey sandwich.

"Chekov," Spock says. "I wished to tell you...you did not catch her. You will not catch everyone. But I believe you will always try."

Date: 2010-05-31 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rubynye.livejournal.com
This got me through the heart the first time I read it, and it still utterly gets me.

Date: 2010-05-31 03:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jouissant.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

Date: 2010-05-31 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spdfg.livejournal.com
That he says nothing makes Pavel wonder about Spock's relationship to logic at this particular moment.
Loved this. There isn't nearly enough Spock-Chekov interaction out there (beyond them doing your typical Geniusy Talking About Math things together) so this really filled a gap for me. I also enjoyed Chekov's thoughts on Americanness and adopted homes and belonging - esp as I have a love-hate thing with the way 'American' values and culture still dominate in the twenty-third century Federation. And I liked way you handled sorrow that was less immediate and second-hand - you always do oblique so well. :)

[PS- Just to let you know that I did get your email on Gawain (thanks!) and have been ruminating on it - will get back to you in more detail when I've worked things out.]

Date: 2010-05-31 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jouissant.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! I wholeheartedly recommend the original story. It's beautifully done, and I definitely riffed off of several of [livejournal.com profile] emiime's ideas and lines here. Her story is very much about Chekov reaffirming his relationship with Sulu after the drill incident and the destruction of Vulcan, with much angst over the loss of Spock's mother. I wanted my Remix to have him deal with Spock directly. Which was convenient, because I really like writing Spock.

Just to let you know that I did get your email on Gawain (thanks!)

Anytime! I hope it was remotely helpful!
Edited Date: 2010-05-31 03:10 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-06-01 02:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emiime.livejournal.com
Ugh, I still absolutely love this. ♥

Date: 2010-06-01 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jouissant.livejournal.com
Thanks again! &hearts

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