Special thanks to my betas, Islaofhope and T'Aaneli. They're the best. Also, thanks to Jungle Kitty and JaneS for additional spot-checking. 

Dedication: For my Ghia.


It's such a sad old feeling
the fields are soft and green
and it's memories that I'm stealing
but you're innocent when you dream
when you dream

-Tom Waits


Christopher Pike felt the tingle of the transporter beam release him as the world materialized around him. The first thing he saw was the line of fresh-faced cadets, scrubbed so clean they were fairly glowing, standing at attention. The crisp call of the bosun's pipe pulled him down from the transporter pad.

"Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, arriving," announced the young man acting as boatswain. The cadets stood even straighter, their chests puffed out. 

"Welcome aboard, Captain." 

Pike turned towards his greeter. "Admiral Barron."

The admiral, a tall thin man with a crown of white hair stepped forward towards Pike, a smile on his face. "I hope you're not too startled by all the fanfare, Captain."

"Startled? No. But I can't say I expected it. It wasn't necessary, Charles."

"I know. But the cadets were so very excited. I couldn't refuse. Besides it was worth it just to see your expression."

Pike gave him a tight smile, more uncomfortable with the attention than he cared to admit. He looked across the room to the line of cadets. "They're an impressive looking bunch, Admiral. I'm sure you're very proud."

"Every year they seem to get better and better," the admiral spoke with obvious pride in his voice. "Although rarely has a cadet passed through my class that showed as much promise as you, Chris." 

Pike couldn't help but smile at the admiral, almost sadly. "Forgive me if I don't believe that."

"I'll do no such thing." Barron leaned in conspiratorially. "Come, Chris. Play your part."

Pike, resigned to the unavoidable, nodded and turned to approach the line of cadets. Slowly he walked down the line, pausing here and there to scare a cadet even straighter than before, raking his cold gaze up and down. Pike almost felt an urge to laugh, the unsought emotion settling uncomfortably over him. They were all so young. 

He had never been that young, he decided, his eyes settling on one young cadet staring straight ahead with fierce determination on his face. Pike found himself slowing and then stopping. Brown eyes shifted up and locked onto his. 
A heartbeat passed, then Pike walked on down the line reaching the end with the admiral beside him. 

He turned and addressed the group. "We're about to embark on a training voyage on a prototype class J training vessel, the USS Oberth. I'm not sure if you've grasped the importance and the honor that has been bestowed upon you with this opportunity. For many of you, this will be your first trip out into space. As cadets in your third year, it'll be the first of many. Admiral Barron has talked of little else but the excellence of this class. You have high expectations to fulfill." 

Pausing, he walked down the row a few meters then stopped, seeking out a pair of brown eyes. "Cadet, what is your name?"

The cadet swallowed quickly then stepped forward. "Cadet Pavel Andreivich Chekov, sir."

"What track are you on?"

"Navigation, sir."

Pike looked long and hard at the young cadet. "Would you be interested in serving as my second in command for this voyage, Mr. Chekov?"

With a combination of pride and excitement, his words rushing together, Chekov said, "Yes, sir. It would be an honor, sir."

"Understand you'll have added duties Mr. Chekov, above those of your previously assigned station. You'll continue as navigator as well as first officer. Still want to do it?"

"Yes, sir." A small fire bloomed in Chekov's eyes. 

"Then it's done." Pike turned back to the rest of the class. "We depart at 08:00 tomorrow. Those of you assigned as department heads should hold internal meetings and be prepared to report to me at the staff meeting tomorrow, at 07:00 hours. Dismissed. Chekov, with me."

Pike turned and approached the admiral. "You'll be staying, won't you Charles, to see how your students fair?"

"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for the world." 

"Have the other instructors come aboard yet?"

"Yes. You were the last. I suppose you'll be wanting to meet later. Interesting choice." Barron indicated Chekov who stood just off to the side of the two older officers at a respectful distance.

"You don't approve?"

"Did I say that? All I said was 'interesting'. No, Chekov is an excellent student. Very enthusiastic. He's just not whom I thought you'd choose. I actually thought you wouldn't choose anybody. Why did you, if you don't mind me asking?"

Pike looked over at Chekov, then turned back to the admiral. "I'm not sure."

Barron frowned at him. "You were always difficult." 

Pike didn't acknowledge that last statement, waving Chekov over instead. The cadet walked over quickly.

Admiral Barron spoke first. "I hope you realize just how much work you're in for, young man. Captain Pike has a reputation as a slave driver." He winked at Chekov, smiling to make sure the cadet knew he was making fun.

"Admiral," Pike warned.

"I am ready, sir," Chekov stated.

"You're my student. Of course you're ready. I'll take my leave now, Chris. Pavel should be able to show you to your quarters." He looked at Chekov for confirmation. "I suppose I'll be hearing from this young upstart about meeting with you and the other instructors?"

"Yes. Sometime later today." 

The two officers nodded their goodbyes and Barron left.

"Sir, I'd like to thank you for this opportu-"

Pike cut him off. "No need to thank me, Chekov. It's not going to be easy. Show me to my quarters. We'll talk on the way."

Slightly rebuffed, Chekov nodded. "Yes, sir. This way."

They left the transporter room with Pike following Chekov and headed down the corridor. A layer of silence fell between them as Pike lost himself in thought, listening to Chekov fidget next to him.

In the turbolift, Chekov announced, "Deck three," brightly into the air.

Pike turned to the younger man and stared for a moment, noticing the slight flush on Chekov's cheeks and how he looked straight ahead but was obviously painfully aware of Pike standing so close to him. Chekov swallowed.

"I need to be briefed, Chekov, on the names and respective duties of all the cadets on board. As my first officer, that falls under your responsibility."

"Yes, sir." 

"And I want a meeting with the other instructors scheduled for exactly one hour from now. In the briefing room."

"Yes, sir."

Pike could feel the nervous energy flowing from his young, newly appointed first officer. The turbolift doors opened and Chekov visibly relaxed as both men walked out. 

"Here you are, sir," Chekov announced, almost as if he were entering a ballroom and not an officer's quarters. That would have to stop, Pike thought. The boy couldn't go announcing everything like that the whole trip.

"Are you busy tonight?" Pike's tone implied he expected the answer to be in the negative. 

"No, sir."

"Good. Meet me for dinner in my quarters at 19:00 hours. I want a proposed agenda for the staff meeting and reports on all the departments that will be there. Think you can handle that?"

"Yes, sir." That small fire was there again in Chekov's eyes. 
Pike suppressed a smile. He kind of liked the announcing actually. "Good. Dismissed."

"Yes, sir." Chekov turned to go.

"Oh, one more thing, Mr. Chekov." Chekov paused and Pike held him with his cold blue gaze. "Don't be afraid of making mistakes. I know you've never done this before. Just do your best. Understood?"

This time, Chekov's voice was his own, colored faintly with a smile. "Yes, sir. See you tonight, sir."



Looking up from his desk, Pike watched as Chekov entered his quarters, burdened with three padds, a bottle of something, and a nervous smile.

"Good evening, sir."

"Good evening."

Chekov shuffled from foot to foot, uncomfortably looking around the small office space of Pike's quarters. Not sure what to do, he looked at Pike who was looking at him and flushed, moving his eyes quickly away down to the floor.
Pike smiled, then quickly stopped as Chekov lifted his eyes back up. Taking pity on the poor boy, Pike stood up and took the padds from Chekov. 

"Relax, Chekov. You're making me nervous. Sit on that chair." Pike pointed to the chair next to his desk. 

"Sorry, sir." Chekov sat at the edge of the chair, ready for anything.

"And that's the last apology I want to hear from you. Apologies aren't worth a damn, Chekov. Better learn that now. Do your best. If it isn't enough then you learn from your mistakes and move on. Apologies resolve nothing. Understood?"

Chekov paled, but only slightly. Something clicked and Pike watched as Chekov nodded. 

"Yes, sir." Chekov looked straight at him, clear eyed and purposeful.
Pike nodded back and let the moment settle before turning back to stand behind his desk. "What's the bottle for?"

Chekov looked confused for a moment then jumped a little when he remembered the bottle he held in his hands. "It is for you. Vodka. I thought you might...we might..." Chekov trailed off, looking uncertain.

"Vodka?" Pike took the bottle from Chekov's hands. "You thought we might what?"

"Ah...well. In Russia, it is customary to drink a little vodka before a meeting starts."

"Is it now?"

"Yes, sir."

"I suppose it's also customary to drink vodka at the end of the meeting as well?"

"How did you know? Yes it is." Chekov eyes lit up in happy surprise.

Pike blinked once at him, then laughed, clear and sharp. "Wild guess. See those glasses over there?" He pointed to the food area. "Bring two over."

Chekov jumped up. "Yes, sir."

Opening the bottle, Pike took the glasses from Chekov and poured two shots of the clear liquid. Setting the bottle down, he picked up his glass, waiting for Chekov to do the same.

Their eyes met above the glasses. Pike inclined his head forward in a silent token, letting a smile play on his lips. Chekov broke out in a wide grin and then tossed the shot back.

Pike watched the young cadet swallow, neck stretched, head thrown back, before lifting his glass to his lips and casually downing his shot. Chekov shook his head briefly, as if to clear it, then set the glass down.

"Again!" Chekov reached for the bottle. Pike stopped him, his hand grabbing Chekov's around the bottle. Smiling, Pike took the bottle away from Chekov. 

"Oh no. Once is quite enough for now. We do have work to do."

"Oh, right. Sor--. Right. You are right, sir. Of course."

"Sit, Chekov." Chekov sat.

Pike set the bottle and glasses aside, then sat behind his desk. "Let's keep this tradition of yours to just the two of us. Somehow I don't think Admiral Barron would care to start the staff meeting tomorrow with a round of shots."
Chekov laughed, then stopped under Pike's hard gaze. "Yes, sir. A tradition for just us."

An uncomfortable silence fell; Pike didn't respond. Instead he just stared at Chekov who sat trying not to flush under that hard scrutiny. 

Finally, Pike broke the silence. "Ok, let's see what we have here," he picked up one padd and quickly skimmed the contents. "Tell me who's going to be there tomorrow." Pike looked up briefly then back down at the padd.

Taking a deep breath, Chekov started talking. Pike listened to the curve and cadence of Chekov's accent and kept his eyes on the padd in front of him. 


"Mr. Chekov?"

Chekov's head snapped up. "Sir! Good morning sir. I just thought I'd-" Chekov faltered as he stumbled rising from his seat, dropped a couple of padds, and saluted. 

Pike stepped into the briefing room from the corridor, letting the door close behind him. "Getting an early start?" 

Chekov smiled shyly then knelt to pick up the fallen padds. "Yes sir, exactly. I wanted to make sure I was ready for this morning, sir."

"How long have you been here?" 

Rising, Chekov placed the padds back onto the table. "Not long. Three, four hours."

Pike looked at his chronometer. "Chekov, did you sleep at all?"

"Yes, sir."

The cadet didn't look especially tired. A little wired, perhaps. Too much coffee or nervous energy, but no fatigue. That must be the blessing of youth, Pike thought. 

"Something tells me it wasn't much. Don't burn yourself out too quickly, Mr. Chekov. This is only the first day." Pike took his seat. "Well, since you've prepared yourself so well for this morning's meeting, why don't you run it?"

Color drained from Chekov's face. "Yes, sir. Of course, sir." 

"Chekov, only one sir at a time." 

Chekov nodded staring blankly at his pile of padds. Pike started to feel a little guilty. He didn't want to push the cadet too hard. But, Chekov didn't panic. Taking two deep breaths he sat down beside Pike and picked up one of the padds. 

"First order of business is introductions, I think. After that we'll start with the department reports, beginning with engineering and the new warp drive."

Chekov looked over at Pike for approval. A slow smile crept across Pike's face. He nodded. Chekov gave a shaky smile back, then looked to his padd.

"After engineering, I think life sciences should go--"

The shrill whistle of the comm cut through the air, startling Chekov and causing him to drop another padd. 

Pike tapped the comm unit, watching Chekov curse in Russian while picking up the errant padd. "This is Pike."

"Don't tell me you're working already, Chris?" Admiral Barron peered out at him from the console.

"Good morning, Charles. Yes, I'm working." Chekov now hung his head, resting his weight on his arms and leaning onto the table.

"Oh, that's a shame. I suppose breakfast is out of the question then?"

"'Fraid so, Admiral. Tomorrow, maybe."

The admiral sighed. "Tomorrow? Ok, we'll try that. Don't give an old man false hope, Captain. It's not good for my health. See you in forty-five minutes. Barron out."

Silence filled the air for a few seconds after the admiral's last words. The cadet's shoulders were held stiffly with his head slightly downcast, color high on his cheeks. He was holding the padd that had fallen in his hands, fingers tracing the contour of its boxy shape. Pike wondered briefly at the sudden change, waiting for Chekov's dark eyes to rise and meet his. The kid was being too hard on himself. 


There they were, those eyes, and suddenly filled with doubt. "I'm sorry, sir, I..." He trailed off.

"No apologies, remember? Hand me all those padds."

Chekov let out the breath he was holding and stacked the padds up, stood up and handed them to Pike who took them and then walked over to the recycler. 


"You don't need them." Pike activated the recycler then turned back to catch Chekov's incredulous face. "Trust yourself, Mr. Chekov."

Chekov looked from him to the recycler, then back at him, then nodded slowly. 
"Yes, sir. I'll do my best."

"That's all I ever ask. Now, relax. That's an order." Pike took Chekov's arm with his hand and lead him back to the table. 

"Am I really running the meeting, sir?"

"Yes. Don't worry, it's not nearly as hard as you're making it out to be. And I'll be right there."

"Thank you, sir."

"Don't thank me, Chekov."

Chekov nodded and took a deep breath. Pike watched the cadet center himself, eyes closed and mouth slightly open. Warm breath flowed out and Pike realized they were standing close together, so close he could smell Chekov's shampoo and soap along with the coffee he must have been drinking all night. Chekov's eyes opened and looked up at him.

The door opened. 


Pike looked over to the door. "Dr. Moore, good morning."

He caught the strange look in the doctor's eyes then remembered his hand still on Chekov's arm. Not looking at the cadet, he let go and sat down. 



Pike stopped and turned to see Chekov running towards him down the corridor. He waited till the cadet caught up with him then started walking again.

"Sir, I was wondering if I could speak with you a moment?"
Pike look sideways at his companion. "Of course. Is it so urgent you needed to run, Chekov?"

Chekov blushed. "No, sir. I just didn't want to miss you. You are headed to your quarters?"

Pike paused in the corridor and looked at the young cadet. The halls were empty with most of the crew either at dinner or on duty. "Yes, I was."

"May I, ah...Would it be all right if I, um..." Chekov colored even more, cheeks bright, lips red; he looked like he had just walked in from a winter storm. 

"May I join you, sir?" Chekov looked away as he spoke.

Pike watched the younger man take a deep breath and then let it out. He lifted his hand to Chekov's face, gently moving it back. Their eyes met. Pike dropped his hand.

"Yes, you may." Then Chekov smiled, like sunlight on snow. 

They started down the corridor, side by side. 


"Yes, sir."

"Next time, don't run in the corridors."

"Yes, sir."


They walked in silence for the few minutes it took to reach Pike's quarters.

Pike dialed the lights up and moved into the living area. "Have you eaten?"

"No, sir." 

Chekov hung back by the entrance, tentatively shifting from foot to foot. Pike pointed to the couch and Chekov moved to sit. 

"What do you feel like eating?"

"Whatever you're having will be fine, sir. Thank you." 

Pike moved over to the food dispenser and ordered a salmon dish.

"Salmon all right?"

"Yes, that's fine."

As the dispenser whirred and clicked readying their food, Pike moved over to the bar and poured two shots of vodka. Taking the bottle with him, he moved back to the couch and handed Chekov a glass. 

"Thank you, sir."

Pike sat in the armchair next to the couch and nodded slightly. "Mustn't let tradition slide," he said as he lifted his glass and drank. Chekov downed his much like the previous time, complete with headshake. He reached for the bottle, then stopped and looked over at his captain.

"It's all right. You can have as much as you like, within limits of course."

Chekov flashed him a quick smile and poured himself another shot. He looked up, asking Pike with his eyes if he wanted another. Pike shook his head, no. Instead he sat back in the armchair, his head resting against his hand and watched his young first officer down another two shots in quick succession. 

The dispenser beeped. Chekov looked over and stood up. "I'll get it, sir. Don't get up."

Pike thought to stop him, but Chekov was up and out of the couch before a word left his lips. "I thought I was the host."

Chekov looked back, saw the small smile of indulgence on Pike's lips and realized he was being teased. "Is this a formal dinner, Captain?" He teased back. 

Pike didn't answer, he just stared at Chekov silently till the younger man broke away and returned his attention to the dispenser. 

He watched Chekov bend over and pick up a tray, straighten, and then walk back over to the living area. He knelt down and started removing the various dishes and glasses and setting them onto the table.

Pike moved to the edge of his chair. Reaching over to take his plate, his hand brushed against Chekov's. The younger man stilled. 

"Thank you."

Chekov look over to him. "You're welcome, sir." His voice was soft. His breath brushing against Pike's skin.

Chekov leaned in, slightly. Pike noticed the soft hairs at the nape of Chekov's neck and how they curled just a little bit. 

Chekov's lips parted. Pike lowered his eyes to the younger man's mouth. Chekov moved his hand. It brushed against Pike's again, bringing his eyes back up to meet Chekov's.

The door chimed. 

Chekov's hand jerked away from Pike's, causing the plate of salmon to knock into a glass of water which in turn spilled over Chekov's tunic, soaking him.

Pike cursed. 

"I'm sorry, sir." Chekov's hands shook ever so slightly as he righted the glass. Pike gently took his hands, stilling them. 

"It's all right. Look at me. It's all right." Chekov's look of mortification passed and he nodded.

"I think I'll go to the bathroom for a moment, sir."

"Good idea."

The door chimed again, but Pike waited till Chekov was in the bathroom before answering. 

"Doctor. What is it?"

"Nice to see you too, Chris. Can I come in?"
Pike hesitated. There was no getting rid of Dr. Moore when there was something on his mind. There was also no way to hide what the doctor was going to find inside. Pike stepped aside.

The doctor walked in and stopped when he saw dinner set for two, uneaten. "Am I interrupting something?"

A small frown creased Pike's brow as he readied to answer when Chekov stepped out from the bathroom with his wet tunic and T-shirt in his hands. 

He stopped as he met the stares of both the doctor and his captain. Pike closed his eyes briefly, then opened them. Briskly, he turned to the doctor. 

"As a matter of fact you are interrupting, Doctor. Chekov and I were having an off duty meeting. What is it you need? Is it urgent?" His voice was cold, and harsh, like a wall of rough hewn stone.

The doctor looked from Chekov, to Pike, to the untouched dinner, then back to Pike. 

"Quickly, doctor. Our food is getting cold."

"Uh, sorry for the, um, interruption. It can wait till morning, I guess."

"Good, then I'll see you in the morning." Pike moved to the door and activated it. Pike indicated the door.

The doctor walked over to the door, slowly. "Chris-"

"Yes, Doctor?" Pike towered over the doctor. 

The doctor paused, then shook his head. "Nothing. I'll talk to you later." And he walked out.

The door closed and Pike turned around slowly. Chekov was standing by the food, looking lost, bare-chested, still holding his wet clothes in one hand. He looked up when Pike walked over to him. 

"I'm so-"

"Sorry. Yes, I know." 

"I heard the door close. I thought he had left."

"It's all right. It doesn't matter."

"It looks bad."

"Yes, it does."

There was a long pause after that, neither looking at the other. 

"I should go."

Pike nodded. Chekov nodded back. He looked down at the food, then moved towards the door, his only path taking him past Pike.

"Sir." Chekov stopped, his voice asking. 

"Go, Chekov."

"Yes, sir." A whisper.

Pike heard the door open and close behind him.



Pike strode onto the bridge, quickly moving down to the lower level. Chekov twisted in the center chair, flashed Pike a smile, and then leaped off the captain's chair.

"Good morning, sir."

Pike paused on his way to his chair, looking sharply at Chekov. The cadet was still smiling bravely. Moving past the young man, Pike took his seat. Chekov stood close enough for Pike brush against him. 

"I said report, Mr. Chekov."

Chekov swallowed. "Yes, sir. Estimated time of arrival to Starbase five at current speed of warp two is four days and two hours." Reaching awkwardly across Pike to the padd on the other side of the chair, Chekov handed it to his captain. "Here are the reports from all department heads, sir."

Pike slowly reached for the padd and took it from Chekov's hands, thinking briefly of how much the cadet had changed since leaving earth. He was much surer of himself and no longer compensating with too much exuberance. It was a bittersweet revelation; Starfleet took them so young. 

"Have you gone through them?"

"Yes, sir. I've made notes and flagged all sections I think you should pay close attention to."

"Thank you, Mr. Chekov. You may take your post now," Pike murmured, turning all of his attention to the padd.

A few moments of silence passed, then Chekov, still at his captain's side, spoke. "Sir?"

Pike, aware that Chekov hadn't moved, looked to the cadet. "Yes, Chekov."

"Engineering is reporting several anomalies with the new warp drive, sir. I thought I should bring it to your attention."

"Are they serious?"

"It's unknown at this time, sir. The chief doesn't seem to think they are serious."
Pike nodded. "Is it in your report?"

"Yes, but-"

"No buts, Chekov. If it warrants immediate attention, then I should be notified immediately. If not, then the start of duty shift is not the time. Trust your report. If I want more information, I'll ask for it. Anomalies with a new warp drive are to be expected."

"Yes, but, sir-"

"Mr. Chekov," Pike warned.

Frustrated, Chekov opened his mouth to continue, then closed it, nodded, and moved to the navigation station. Just as he sat down, the ship shuddered violently. Everybody lurched forward as the inertial dampers responded to an abrupt change in speed. The sound of metal twisting and bending filled the air as the lights flickered but remained on. Then a beat of silence before the red alert claxon filled the void.

Pike shifted back into his chair. Turning his head, readying to bark orders, he watched Chekov move quickly over to the science station to check the sensors. 

"Report." Pike demanded over the wail of the red alert.

Chekov turned, his eyes on Pike, when the console behind him burst in a shower of sparks, exploding. Chekov's arms flew up to his face as he screamed in pain and dropped to the floor.

Pike flew out of his chair to Chekov's side in less then a heartbeat, dragging the young cadet away from the still burning console. Pike had never before been so thankful for their flame-retardant uniforms.

"Get the doctor up here quick," Pike ordered, not caring to whom, just that it got done. Chekov was curled in a fetal position, his scream replaced by a low keening. There were burns on half his face and on both hands, but his uniform had protected him from the worst of the explosion.

Looking up, he gestured for Peters, the helmsman, to come over to him. "Report."

"Sir, engineering reports a malfunction in the warp drive. That's what caused us to drop out of warp. As far as we can tell, the explosion was a result of damage caused from the sudden change in speed. The dampers didn't react fast enough and caused a feedback loop in one of the circuits. No other decks suffered damage."

"Engineering know what the malfunction was, by any chance?"

Peters shook his head. "They know it's with the intermix chamber, but that's all."

Pike gritted his teeth, swearing under his breath. "Casualties?"

"All decks are secure, sir. A few bumps and bruises; Pavel was the only one seriously injured." There was a note of concern in the helmsman's voice. 

"Thank you, Peters. Start coordinating a repair team."

"Yes, sir." 

Peters moved away. Pike knew he should let one of the other cadets stay with Chekov, that he should see to his ship. He didn't move. 

"You're going to be okay. The doctor's on his way."

A pair of glassy, pain-filled brown eyes found his. Through Chekov's shuddering, Pike recognized the familiar gesture of Chekov's nod. 

"Yes, s-s-sir."

Pike, careful not to touch Chekov's hands or face, pulled the young man against his chest. He was afraid Chekov was going into shock. Gently, he laid his arm across the shivering cadet.


"Yes, Chekov?"

"I sh-should have said something, sir. This is my fault. I knew there was something wrong."

"Don't worry about that now. We'll talk about it later."

Chekov let out a shuddered breath. "Yes, sir."

Just then, the turbolift doors opened and the medic team rushed over. Pike released his hold on Chekov.


Pike stared down at the slight figure on the biobed. The steady beat of the biosensors, not unlike a heartbeat, filled the otherwise silent sickbay.

He took a step forward, closer to the still figure. Chekov had bandages over his hands; those had seen the worst of the damage. His face held the telltale signs of rejuvenation but was otherwise just as it always was. 

One hand lifted and reached over, gently smoothing the brown hair, then clenched and pulled back.

"He's going to be just fine, Chris. I'll be able to release him back on active duty sometime tomorrow."

Pike looked over to the doctor. He nodded then turned to walk away but was stopped by the doctor's voice.


"Yes, Doctor?"

They held each other's eyes, neither speaking. The moment thrummed between them.

"Did you have something to say, Tom?"

The doctor pursed his lips. "Do I need to say something?"
Something cold and sharp shifted in Pike's eyes. He approached the doctor slowly. "If you have something to say, say it." 

Tom held his ground. "He's very young, Chris."

"He's a cadet, Doctor. What did you expect?"

"That's right. He's a cadet."

"Do you have something other than the obvious to tell me?"

The doctor looked as if he did have something to say, but remained silent.

"Good-bye, Doctor." Pike turned and left.



Pike stood in the center of his quarters and watched the door open to reveal Chekov standing in the doorway.

"Well, look who's up and about. Come in, Mr. Chekov."

"Hello, sir. You wanted to see me?" The young cadet moved in, letting the door close behind him. 

"Yes I did. Take a seat, Chekov. So, the doctor's released you, has he?"

"Yes, sir."

Pike moved to the side bar and picked up a bottle and two glasses bringing them back to the small living area. He eyed Chekov sitting in his office. "Over here, Chekov."

Pike poured two shots of vodka and handed one to Chekov as the cadet moved to sit across from his commanding officer.


"Tradition, remember?"

Chekov gave him a crooked smile, then lifted the drink to his lips. Wiping the corners of his mouth with his finger and thumb, he set the glass down. 

Pike drank his shot quickly, watching as Chekov sat, noticing he looked uncomfortable in his own skin.

"Something wrong, Chekov," he asked quietly.

"No, sir."

"Why don't I believe you?"

Chekov looked up meeting Pike's eyes, blinked once, then looked away. The room became impossibly still, stealing away the seconds while both men sat silently, eyes averted.

Pike finally spoke. "The doctor spoke to you?"

"Yes." Chekov's voice was a whisper.

Gripping the armrest, Pike felt his fingers dig into the meager upholstery. "I see."


"Don't say anything you'll regret, Chekov." Pike rose swiftly and walked to his desk. 

"Come here." Brisk. Cold.

He heard Chekov approach, slowly, as he rifled through flimsies and padds. Finding the report he needed, he looked up. 

Chekov stood in front of the desk, arms at his side; familiar brown eyes looking at him, asking him questions. 

"Here." Chekov took the padd. "That should bring you up to date on everything, including engineering and the warp drive and what caused the malfunction. We can go over it tomorrow. Tonight I want you to rest. Dismissed."

"Yes, sir." The words caught in the cadet's throat. Pike forced himself to look up, to see the hurt he knew he would find.

"Sir, I just-"

"I said dismissed, Cadet." 

Chekov blinked back tears. "Yes, sir."

Blood slowly drained away from Pike's face as he watched the young cadet turn and walk away. The door to his quarters opened letting the light and noise from the corridor flood in. Just as Chekov passed through the doorway, he turned and spoke.

"You should know sir that yes, the doctor spoke to me but no, I did not listen."

Then he was gone.


Pike sat stiffly in his chair, staring fixedly at the view screen in front of him, watching the stars stream by. It was just a few minutes before alpha shift officially started and the bridge was quiet.

The turbolift opened and admiral Barron walked down to stand by Pike. 

"Morning, Chris."

"Charles." Pike stood up to greet the admiral but the older gentleman waved him down. 

"Don't get up on my account."

"Is there something I can do for you, sir?"

The admiral shook his head. "I thought I'd just observe this morning, if that's okay with you. I like to see all my hard work in action, so to speak."

"Of course." Pike motioned for a cadet to acquire a seat for the admiral by the communication station where a good view of the bridge could be had. 

"Oh you're too kind, too kind. Thank you, Parsons." The admiral smiled benevolently at the cadet and seated himself. "Now everybody, back to work." He made a shooing gesture with his hands.

Pike shook his head and smiled. Just then the turbolift opened, depositing a rather large load of cadets, laughing and talking. They spilled out onto the bridge, sobering immediately, nodding greetings to the two officers. Barron beamed at them from his seat while Pike glowered gently. 

The last to step of the turbolift was Chekov who smiled shyly at the admiral before moving down to the navigator station, slowly passing by Pike. "Captain."

"Chekov." They stood in the center of the bridge, a foot apart, neither really looking at the other as they spoke. Pike spoke softly. "It's good to have you back, cadet." 

"Thank you, sir."

Suddenly others took notice of Chekov's return and he was surrounded by his friends and fellow crewmates. 

Peters loudly thumped Chekov on the back. "It's about time you stopped loafing around and did some work around here."

"Cossacks, all of you." Chekov said, smiling and blushing from all the attention. 
Pike watched, meeting Chekov's eyes with his cool blue. Chekov blinked and looked away. 

"Your orders, sir." Chekov's voice was steady, but quiet, giving his words a certain shading, as if he was asking something entirely different. 

Pike found himself swallowing before speaking. "Maintain course and speed, for now."

Chekov looked up, eyes soft. "Yes, sir." 

Someone coughed and with it the rest of the world, which had seemed to fade for a moment, reasserted itself. Pike nodded his dismissal to Chekov, indicating he should take his station. Chekov moved to turn around when his eyes fell on the admiral watching from the back of the bridge, silently.

Pike noticed and couldn't stop himself from glancing back and meeting the admiral's unusually distant and slightly sad smile.


Pike had stayed through beta shift, finally leaving the bridge sometime around 01:00 hours.

The corridors were silent and dim, but he barely noticed as he approached his quarters, lost in thought. He turned the corner that brought him to his quarters. 

There, leaning against the bulkhead, he found Chekov waiting. When the cadet saw Pike, he quickly stood up straight, clearly uncertain what his reception would be. Pike slowed down, stopping some distance from Chekov.

They stood outside his door, not speaking, not moving, and neither looking anywhere but at each other. The throb of silence beat loudly in Pike's ears. 
Without a word, Pike opened his door letting Chekov enter before him. 

"Lights." The word hung in the air, as much an intrusion as the sudden illumination. 
Chekov was no longer looking at Pike, but stood standing alone with his arms at his side, eyes downcast, chest rising and falling in deep measured breaths. 

Pike moved slowly towards him. With one finger, he lifted Chekov's face up to meet his.

"This can't happen."

Chekov nodded.

"You have to go."

Another nod. Eyes suddenly wet after a blink, but he didn't move. 

"Dammit." Pike grasped Chekov's arms, shaking him with the suddenness of the action. It brought them closer and Pike's face contorted in a grimace. He backed Chekov up, none too gently, till they met the bulkhead.

"Do you realize how much of a mistake this is? How much trouble this could cause? Do you?" He wasn't quite shouting.

"Yes." Chekov was practically breathless, his chest expanding in and out quickly. 

"You need to leave, now. Do you understand?" Pike's voice lowered and he leaned in further. Chekov nodded, his eyes wide and open, his lips wet. 

Their hips came together and Pike made a choking sound deep in his throat, unable to stop himself till hardness met hardness and he thrust helplessly against Chekov. He half lifted the cadet up by the arms, raising him the few needed inches to capture Chekov's lips with his own. The younger man whimpered softly, still trapped against the hard bulkhead.

Finally, Pike released Chekov's arms and stepped back just enough for Chekov to stand on his own. They both were breathing heavily. 

Chekov massaged his arms. Pike winced slightly.

"Did I hurt you?"

"It is nothing." 


"I know. I must go."

Pike didn't say a word but moved back slightly. Chekov looked into Pike's eyes then sighed, a slight shuddery sigh to collect himself. 

Feeling the warmth of Chekov move away and the lingering smell of his skin and breath in the air, Pike's arm moved to block the young man just before the door activated. Chekov stilled, his eyes closing and his hands formed fists. 

"If you're going to go, go now." Pike lowered his arm.

There was a moment of nothingness, of held breaths and tense shoulders. Of the tickled slide of sweat down the small of a back. 

Chekov didn't leave. 

Pike reached past the smaller man and locked his door, setting it for Private -- Do Not Disturb and then dialed the lights down, till it looked like dusk. 
Suddenly there was awkwardness. Pike took Chekov's forearm in hand and guided him towards the sleeping area. 

An odd disconnected feeling surrounded the captain as he became fully aware of the breech in protocol he was about to commit. He watched Chekov who was temporarily distracted by the sight of his captain's bed and personal items. 

Pike stood silently, watching -- watching the slightly open and bruised lips, the little tilt of the head, the narrow hips and curve of backside, the way Chekov shifted from foot to foot as he turned, surveying the room.

Then the young Russian was looking at him and suddenly approaching him, the awkwardness gone from the blush of his face. He stopped in front of Pike and looked up. 

Their lips met, exploring and questing, open-mouthed and hungry and painfully gentle in shocking contrast to earlier. 

Pike's hands found themselves on Chekov's waist, lifting the tunic and caressing warm skin. They moved backwards till Chekov hit the bed with the back of his knees. Not letting him fall, Pike steadied him and broke the kiss.

The tunic came off. And the undershirt. Pike's hand skimmed along the smooth skin, stopping briefly over the newly forming bruises on Chekov's upper arms. Then down to the clasp on the pants. 

Brusquely, the pants came off. Pike stood and quickly removed his own clothing, letting them lie were they fell. 

And then it was skin against skin. Still standing, Pike lowered his mouth to Chekov's neck while the cadet's hands roamed over the hair on his captain's chest, moving lower and grasping Pike's long hard cock in his hand. Pike groaned softly and nipped at the neck beneath his lips, thrusting into Chekov's hands. 

Grabbing some lotion from the bedside table, he lowered Chekov onto the bed, covering the smaller man with his body. Pike moved down, feasting on nipples and skin, and then lower, taking the long thin cock into his mouth. Chekov said something in Russian and grabbed Pike's head, hips moving up and down and legs opening. 

Pike took Chekov's thighs, one in each hand and traveled down one and then the other with his lips and tongue, then back up to lap at Chekov's balls and cock. 

Suddenly, Chekov shimmied out from under him and reversed their positions. Pike was momentarily bewildered, but then he stopped thinking as he watched Chekov look at him silently, maneuvering Pike's legs apart. Slowly, Chekov's hand grabbed Pike's cock and started to slide up and down its length. Pike's eyes darkened and his breath hitched. A finger caressed the tip and invited a small measure of pre-come to the surface. 

Chekov's mouth lowered and a delicate tongue slipped out and licked at the head of Pike's erection, then engulfed it in its entirety. A grunt escaped Pike's lips as he barely controlled an upward thrust into the heat of Chekov's mouth.

With an ease that gave rise to some fleeting questions, Chekov opened his throat as Pike moved his hips in a slow steady rhythm. Pike's eyes were fixed on his disappearing cock entering and exiting Chekov's mouth. 

Stopping before he came, Pike pulled Chekov up and next to him. 
Coating his forefinger with lotion, Pike circled the opening to Chekov's body and gently pressed in. Chekov bucked against him. 

They were both beaded with sweat and Chekov's hair was damp along his forehead. Chekov's eyes were closed. Pike caressed the cadet's face with his free hand, coaxing till Chekov opened his eyes.

Pike moved in closer spreading Chekov's legs and bringing him closer till his cock rocked against Pike's lower stomach. 

Another finger was added and together they moved in and out of Chekov's body, brushing the small prostate with each entrance.

Chekov started whimpering just barely audible. Pike felt the unspoken request.


Pike stilled and removed his fingers. He was breathing hard, suddenly unsure. They shouldn't go this far, he thought. They should just make each other come, sleep for a time in each other's arms, and then never repeat any of this ever again. 

Chekov moved against him, kissing Pike's neck and bringing a hand along Pike's body down to cup Pike's ass and pull him forward. His other hand reached around and took Pike's cock, guiding it against his anus. 

"Wait." Pike moved his weight onto his arms and Chekov moved to lie underneath him, his hand still on Pike's erection. Pike grabbed the mischievous hand with his own and brought it up over Chekov's head. He did the same with Chekov's other hand, holding them both in one of his.

His free hand found the lotion and quickly coated his cock, massaging the excess into Chekov. He repositioned himself and let Chekov's hands go, keeping all of his weight off the slighter man.

"Look at me."

Blue met brown and he entered, slowly, letting Chekov stretch to meet his size. He shook slightly from the strength of his control. Chekov moved to meet Pike's entering cock, till it could go no further. 

His hands now free, Chekov pulled Pike's head down into a kiss, then moved his hands to Pike's waist and held on while he began to move. 

Pike felt Chekov's breath on his face, his hands on his hips, his legs against his sides. He felt his cock surrounded by Chekov's heat and the slide of sweat covered skin against his. He stilled Chekov with his hands, gripping the younger man. He moved onto his knees, almost sitting and began to thrust while guiding Chekov in a countermove. 

"Yes..." Chekov met each move of Pike's cock, impaling himself. They kissed again, Chekov whimpering into Pike's mouth. 

Pike knew Chekov was going to come when the younger man began to grip his ass tightly, fingers digging into his flesh just shy of breaking skin. He watched for it, saw it come in the depths of Chekov's dark eyes, felt the answering grip around his cock, and let himself go, burying his face into Chekov's neck and his cock into Chekov's very being, gasping, coming in great big shudders.


He didn't sleep but lay there with Chekov in comfortable in his arms, preferring to watch the dusk-like lighting give the impression of descending evening on their bare skin. Everything looked blue and gray, which he hadn't noticed till now with the sudden stillness of the night. 

Chekov stirred. Pike stoked his hand down Chekov's chest and stomach, across the outside of his hips and then back up. Chekov drifted back into sleep. 

Lying there, quietly, Pike breathed in the smell of sex and Chekov, listening to the creaks and near silent shifts of the ship that carried them. 

The blinking light of the chronometer caught his eye, a subtle reminder of time's passing. 04:00. The night would end soon. 

Chekov stirred again, moving in his arms to nuzzle his face into Pike's neck, kissing and licking Pike's skin. It brought a sad smile to the older man's face.

They didn't speak, or make a sound. Chekov's hands played with the hair on Pike's chest. Pike continued to hold him in the simulated evening light. 

Pulling away, Chekov rose onto one shoulder, smiling his smile, not so shy now. It was the younger man's hands that caressed now, moving up and down Pike's body while Pike watched Chekov's expressive face.

Fingers and hands fondled Pike's cock, causing it to twitch into hardness. The smile stayed with Pike as he realized how extremely sexual the being was he had invited into his bed. 

He felt Chekov watching him, gauging his reaction as he felt Chekov's finger exploring the opening into his body. Pike held his breath; Chekov paused. 

Shifting his position, Chekov moved between Pike's legs, nudging them apart. Settling himself comfortably, he leaned over to kiss Pike quickly and breathlessly, then kissed Pike's eyes closed. Pike thought to wonder what Chekov had in mind. 

There was shifting and then silence followed as Pike felt and heard Chekov leave the bed and then return. He breathed in sharply as he felt a warm washcloth between his legs. The cloth was soft and thorough and was soon tossed aside as it cooled. 

A hot mouth followed and Pike struggled not to look, finding it hard to relax and let Chekov's clever mouth do it's work. Sensing Pike's tension, Chekov gently massaged Pike's thighs and butt. 

Pike felt Chekov's mouth on his cock, circling the tip and then nipping gently down. He felt his balls nuzzled and sucked and encased in wet warmth. He felt that strip of skin between his anus and his sack, a part of his body he had never really thought about before but was suddenly blazingly aware of. 

He held his breath, knowing what came next. He felt that warm wet tongue circle his anus and tease the entrance, continuing till the newness of the sensation wore off and he relaxed. 

The tongue was replaced by a finger and before Pike realized, Chekov was inside. 

"Chekov," he rasped. The young Russian moved to lie next to him, his finger still working and adding a second. He kissed Pike's eyes back open. Pike surged upwards, grunting out breaths as he caught Chekov with his arms, moving him so he could rub against him and still keep Chekov's fingers where they were, opening him. 

He came, almost violently, spilling his orgasm between their bodies.

As if waking from a coma, the world returned slowly, making itself known first through the insistent wet stickiness between them.

"Jesus." A labored breath. "Did I hurt you?"

"Not at all." Hands traveled over fresh bruises. "They'll fade. It is all right. "

"I'm sorry."

Small kisses and gentle caresses of hair and skin. "Please, don't apologize to me. I couldn't bear it. I enjoyed it. I came too, see."

A nod. Another shuddered breath. Pike reached for Chekov and pulled him close, hands trembling slightly. 

"You know." Chekov massaged Pike's neck, fingers in his hair. "It might be time for that old Russian tradition of ours."

Despite himself, Pike laughed. 



"That's not really a good idea."

"I know. Breakfast?"

Pike laughed. "Okay. Breakfast. I'll meet you in 10 minutes."

He sent Chekov to his quarters to shower and change, silently watching him turn and walk out with only a small touch to his face. 

Pike was surreptitiously watching the door to the mess hall when the entire ship shuddered violently, throwing everybody onto the floor. Immediately, Pike stood up and moved to a comm station. He heard the doors open and saw Chekov enter and start to approach him. They reached the comm unit together just as a long series of explosions knocked them back down. The lights flickered off and the emergency lights kicked on.

Picking himself up, Pike hoped the comm system still worked. "Pike to bridge. What just happened?"

"Peters here, sir. We're not entirely sure. Engineering isn't answering hails. We dropped out of warp and then there were three separate explosions. They seem to have come from decks eight and ten."

Engineering was on deck ten. "Have those decks reported in?"

"No, sir. Communication is sporadic, only five decks have reported in. Turbolifts are out as well."

Pike hoped the other officers and instructors on board were unharmed and that at least one of them made it to the bridge. "All right, send out a distress signal to Starbase five and inform them of our situation and request assistance. Keep trying to get through to Engineering. As soon as the lower decks report in, order them to evacuate. Can you reach sickbay?

"Yes, sir."

"Have them ready a team. If any of the other officers make it to the bridge, brief them on everything. Sit tight till then. I'll report in as soon as soon as possible. Contact sickbay and have someone meet me by the jeffries hatch on deck eight. Preferably the doctor. Pike out."

"I'm going with you."

"Chekov, I need you on the bridge."

"Peters is very good."

Pike surprised himself by sighing. He should be a little alarmed at how easily he caved in to Chekov. "Stay behind me the entire time."

Chekov beamed at him. "Yes, sir."

With the turbolifts down, it took them three times as long to reach deck eight. Arriving at the jeffries hatch, he spotted Dr. Moore approaching from the opposite direction. Slightly out of breath, the older officer nodded his hello. 

"Helluva good morning, Captain. Chekov."

"Hello, sir."

Pike ignored the look he got from the doctor. "Come on, Doctor, there's no time to waste." Opening the hatch, Pike went through first. 

They worked themselves down to deck nine. Opening the hatch, the damage from the explosion was immediately apparent. The bulkheads had contained most of the blast, but it wasn't enough. Fortunately, at this hour the science labs were mostly empty with only a couple dozen dazed cadets with minor injuries. 

Letting the doctor work on the cadets, Pike turned to Chekov. "Start separating the wounded from those unharmed. Have the unharmed cadets start clean up, anything to keep them busy. Pick someone to be in charge and find us a tricorder."

"Yes, sir." Chekov nodded and then turned and started pointing and giving orders. Pike watched for a minute, then left to find a working comm unit.

"Pike to the bridge."

"Peters here, sir."

"Peters, the wounded here need help getting to sickbay."

"Yes, sir. I have the medical team ready to go."

"Good. Send them down now. Any luck getting through to Engineering?"

"No, sir."

"Keep trying. We're going on to deck ten. It's more then likely I won't be able to contact you from there, and I don't know what we'll find."

"Yes, sir. Anything else we should be doing?"

Pike heard the slight undertone of uncertainty in Peters' voice. "No. Stay focused. You're doing fine. What about Starbase five?"

"They're sending the Potemkin, sir. She'll be here in thirty minutes."

Thirty minutes. A lot could happen in thirty minutes. "All right. You have your orders. Pike out."

Pike walked back to the doctor who was kneeling by a young woman. She was bleeding from a head wound but otherwise seemed coherent. 

"A medical team is on their way."

The doctor nodded as he finished bandaging the wound.

"I'm ready, Chris." The doctor stood up, grabbing his medical bag.

"Ok, let's go." Pike looked around for Chekov.

"He should stay here, Chris."

"You try telling him that." Catching Chekov's attention, he moved past the doctor. "Come on, Doctor."

Back they went to the jeffries tube. Once they reached deck ten, Pike stopped just outside the hatch. It was uncomfortably hot all of a sudden. Placing his hand on the hatch door, Pike snatched it back. He heard the sounds of a tricorder working. He looked at Chekov.

"Fire, sir."

"Both of you, get back." He found the fire extinguishers located by the ladder. Then ripping the sleeve from his uniform, he wrapped it around his hand. Bracing himself, Pike forced the hatch open, gritting his teeth against the bite of hot metal burning through the fabric. As soon as the door opened, he rolled to the side to avoid the backdraft, aimed the extinguisher and fired the stream of chemicals. 

After a moment most of the fire cleared. Gingerly, the team stepped through. 

The deck was a mess. Bulkheads crumpled. Beams and circuitry littered everywhere. Other fires, more or less contained, burned nearby. It seemed an entire conduit had blown.

"Christ," exclaimed the doctor.

"It's pretty bad. Stay behind me, Tom." He pointed to Chekov who silently moved behind the captain as well. Carefully, they made their way through the debris till they reached Engineering. 

The doors leading to Engineering had been knocked of their tread. The captain and doctor entered expecting another debris filled scene, but the engineering hull had been built to house a warp drive; by all appearances it had weathered the explosions well, better than the corridor at any rate. 

Again they were lucky. If the explosions had happened even 15 minutes later, the casualties would have been severe. As it was, there had been only six cadets and one officer on duty and all were quickly accounted for. Chief Andrews was the only serious injury.

Pike knelt by the doctor, next to Andrews. The engineer was unrecognizable; his face and hands mottled black and red, and swelling rapidly. The fire had been hot enough to melt through the uniform. He was breathing in quick short gurgled breaths, eyes wide and filled with vacant pain, but he made no sound. 

Judging from the doctor's expression and from his own experience Pike could tell there was no hope. Meeting the doctor's eyes confirmed it. Gently, Dr. Moore gave the engineer a painkiller.

Bracing himself Pike leaned closer, ignoring the smell. "Andrews?"

No response. "Andrews?"

The eyes shifted to his. A word that could have been "captain" struggled from the burned and cracked lips. A few more quick breaths, then the chest stilled, then silence. 

"There was nothing I could do."

Without acknowledging the doctor's words, Pike stood and noticed the cadets, all staring in horror at what had been their instructor.

He moved to block their view, ushering them away from the nightmare they'd just witnessed. Chekov stepped next to him. A quick glance showed the young Russian was slightly pale, but hanging in there. "Report. Who can tell me what happened?"

With difficulty, the cadets shifted their attention. They were all bruised and battered, but apparently mostly unharmed. 

"There was an explosion, sir."

"Yes, and do you know what might have caused it?" He received five blank stares in answer to his question. "Anybody know anything?" He struggled to remember names. "Saunders?"

"Yes, sir." A tall blond kid, with freckles and dazed blue eyes. 

"Can you tell me what happened just before the explosion? What caused us to come out of warp?"

"Um, the warp drive failed. It was the same problem as before, sir. The intermix chamber malfunctioned, enough for the failsafes to kick in and for us to drop out of warp. I think that's what happened, anyway. It was all so fast."

"What caused the explosions?"

"I'm not sure. The Chief and I were starting a diagnostic when something sparked and the entire console blew. He saved my life sir, pushed me out of the way and took the blast."

Pike nodded, placing his hand on the boy's shoulder. Then an alarm sounded. 

"Warp core breach in five minutes." 

Moving before the cool voice of the computer finished speaking, Pike ran to the only working console. The cadets followed him.

"We need to shut down the core!" Pike yelled over the wail of the claxon. 
Chekov and a redheaded cadet started the shutdown sequence. "Systems not responding, sir!" Chekov looked over at Pike.

Damn. "Can you eject the core?"

"Negative, sir. It's all frozen," the redheaded cadet stated, remarkably calm. "We can maybe bypass them if we route it through the secondary relay." She started furiously hitting the necessary switches and levers. Chekov knelt down and opened an access panel.

"You two work on that. The rest of you, I need a working force field and generator."

The kids scattered. Pike tried to contact the bridge but had no luck. There was no way to notify Peters. Cold understanding settled over Pike as he realized exactly what their predicament meant. Even if he could inform the bridge, there was precious little that could be done. He looked at the seven cadets all working quickly but calmly; they were scared, but they managed. They were all so young, all of them. 

He caught Chekov's eyes for a moment.

brown eyes above him as he was opened gripping the slick slim body covering his spilling come between 

He blinked. Determination settled over him as he walked over to the blast door control panel and started bypassing the burned out circuitry. He felt the doctor come up behind him.

"We've got to get these cadets out of here, Chris."

"I'm well aware of that, Doctor. The problem is that if the core breaches, we lose 180 cadets, not just seven. Excuse me."

Pike moved past the doctor, but the doctor stopped him. "I'm sorry, Chris."

Pike let out a sigh and shook his head. "Forget it, Tom."

"Warning, radiation levels in engineering approaching critical levels. Two minutes until fatal exposure. Warp core breach in four minutes." 

Pike spun away from the doctor and quickly moved over to the console. "Saunders, where's that leak coming from? Can it be contained?"

Saunders tapped a buttons and then looked at the display. Color drained from his face. "There's too much damage from the explosions, sir. We'd have to seal off engineering entirely to contain the radiation."

The redheaded cadet spoke. "It'll take us another 3 minutes at least to eject the core."

Pike looked from Saunders to the redheaded cadet and then to Chekov, all looking at him with the painful realization of hopelessness.

He moved to the redhead and took her hands in his. "What's your name?"

"Cadet Sally Taylor, sir." Her shaking was barely noticeable.

"Taylor, can it be done? Can the core be ejected?"

"Yes, sir. The secondary relays are intact. I just need a little more time."

"Okay," still holding Taylor's hands Pike turned to Saunders and the Doctor who had followed Pike, "Saunders, Doctor, get the rest of the cadets out here. Take the force field generator and set it up just outside Engineering, but do not activate it. Go, now!"

"What about Sally and Pavel?" Saunders asked.

"They stay with me. Go, that's an order."

With one last look to Taylor, Saunders left. Pike heard the doctor say, "Don't worry, son. She'll be fine. Trust the Captain..."

Pike turned all of his attention to Taylor and Chekov. "Okay, we don't have a lot of time."

All three dropped to the floor and started pulling circuitry and then plugging them back in.

"Computer, notify radiation levels in thirty second increments."
The computer whirred as it processed the request, stating simply, "Working...Complete. Warning: Lethal radiation levels in 1.5 minutes. Warp core breech in 3.5 minutes."

"Chekov, Taylor, when there's thirty seconds left, both of you leave. On your way out, bring the blast door down and activate the force field, then get the hell out, got it? Run for the jeffries hatch and get to deck 9 as fast as you can."

"And you, sir?" Chekov asked softly, not stopping the movement of his hands. On the other side of Chekov, Pike heard Taylor start to cry quietly.

"I stay and eject the core."

There was no response. 

"Warning: Lethal radiation levels in one minute. Warp core breech in three minutes."

"Oh God," Taylor whispered softly. 

"Captain?" Chekov's hand shook as he pushed a circuitry into its slot. "I'm not leaving."

"It's an order, Mr. Chekov."

"But, sir, the radiation. You'll never make it."

"I need you to get Taylor out of here."

"I can't just leave you here."

Pike heard the tears in Chekov's voice. "Yes, you can. Both of you listen to me. You're going to go, you hear me. Run; activate the force field and then run. Don't look back."

Seconds passed with only the sound of metal tapping metal and tears falling.
"Warning: Lethal radiation levels in thirty seconds. Warp core breech in 2.5 minutes."

"Go! Get out of here!"

Taylor sprung up and ran to the blast door panel. 

"I can't, sir," Chekov was shaking his head and crying.

"Dammit, GO!" Pike hauled Chekov up, holding him in an iron strong embrace. A precious second passed and then Pike forcibly pushed Chekov away. 


Nodding and then stumbling, Chekov ran to the force field. As he passed through the entrance, Taylor activated the blast door, slipping under it.

Pike didn't watch. He dropped back down and resumed bypassing the circuitry. He heard the door close, sealing him in with a deep booming sound. His heart pounded against his chest. 

"Warning: Lethal radiation levels in ten seconds."

"Nine." He heard the force field go up. The vice around his stomach relaxed slightly.




"Five." Pike braced himself. Only ten more circuits to go. He was going to make it.




"One. Lethal levels of radiation now present. Recommend immediate evacuation. Warp Core Breech in 2 minutes."

Five more circuits. His skin began to tingle; he was losing his sense of touch. Three more. Two. Done.

He stood up and a sudden crippling pain made him double over and he emptied the contents of his stomach onto the floor. 

Oh God. 

He stood up and leaned against the console. His vision blurred. 

He could do this. Breathing in and then out, he ignored the pain and the stench. He had to make his hands move, but all he could manage to do was shudder.

"Warning: Warp core breech in 1.5 minutes."

Pike winced. The computer's voice reverberated loudly in his ears. 
Move, Captain. That's an order.

Obeying the silent command, he started to key in the sequence to eject the warp core. Another crippling pain in his abdomen and he faltered, missing an important step in the process.

He started again. This wasn't hard, he reminded himself. Just a simple series of commands. He keyed in the sequence faster this time. His vision blurred even more. 
He was going blind. 

Then suddenly, he was done. 

His voice. He had to speak. Moving his mouth, he waited for sound to come out. "Computer." That didn't sound right. Was that his voice? "Computer, eject warp core. Authorization Pike Zeta Zeta Three."

"Working...Warp core ejection commencing."

Pike sank to the floor, giving in to the pain and clutching his stomach, dry retching. 

There were several loud sounds as the warp core was ejected, but he couldn't hear them. Couldn't even hear his own screams when he felt the skin on his hands melt off.



The door to the captain's quarters opened and Ensign Pavel Chekov entered, standing still and quiet in front of his new commanding officer. 

"Sit, Ensign."

There was a brief moment of hesitation quickly brushed aside before Chekov sat, looking straight ahead. 

"Welcome aboard. Would you like something to drink? Coffee? Tea? Water?" The captain smiled at the younger man, setting him at ease.

"Thank you, sir. Water will do, thank you."

"One water it is. Here you go." The captain sat back down. "Well, Ensign. You come highly recommended." 

Chekov gave him a modest smile. "I have worked hard, these past four years, sir. It has always been my dream to get a posting on a deep-space starship. Serving on the Enterprise will be, well, a dream come true, sir."

The captain's hazel eyes smiled at him. "I know the feeling." There was a pause before he continued. "I'll be honest with you, Chekov. I almost passed your file by. It's exemplary of course, but so are all of these." He indicated a large pile on his desk. "Do you know what it was that caught my eye, that set yours apart from the rest?"

Only now did Chekov become uncomfortable under Captain Kirk's unwavering gaze. "No, sir."

"There's a letter attached from Fleet Captain Christopher Pike. Captain Pike used to command this ship, you know." 

Chekov couldn't answer. He gripped the glass of water tightly in his hand, thankful of its coolness. 

"In it he states how impressed he was with your performance on the Oberth. He said you'd make a fine officer someday. It's unfinished, but the Academy saw fit to attach it anyway, since there was no way for the Captain to finish it after the accident." 

Kirk paused again. Chekov forced himself to look up and meet the captain's eyes. They were gentle.

"I knew about the accident of course, I've seen Captain Pike since then. What I didn't know were the events leading up to the accident, and those immediately after. That must have been a horrifying situation to find yourself in."
Chekov nodded.

"And only a third year cadet. When I reviewed the reports of the accident, I was impressed, Ensign, to say the least."

Chekov nodded again. "Thank you, sir. It was a trying time. Captain Pi--...Captain Pike was an example to us all."

"Would you like to read the letter he wrote?"

Chekov's mouth fell open. "I..I..I don't know, sir."

"It doesn't have to be right now." Kirk stood up and walked around to Chekov who stood up as well. 

"Think about it. When you're ready, just ask. I think Christopher would want you to read it. But there's no rush." Kirk stuck out his hand. "Congratulations, Ensign."

"Thank you, sir."

"Report to the bridge at 09:00 hours. Oh, and besides myself, your immediate commanding officer is Commander Spock. When you have a moment, you might want to speak with him. He served for many years with Captain Pike."

"Yes, sir. And thank you again."

Kirk waved the thanks aside. "Don't thank me, Ensign. You earned it. Besides, it's going to be a lot of hard work." Kirk turned back to his desk. "That's all" He dismissed the ensign with a smile.


Silence, all around, all the time.

the subject returns to the events just prior to his physical destruction quite frequently.

he favors these memories.

yes. it is a curious phenomena singular to this species. the female had a similar reaction when she was first here.

should we attempt to block these memories.

success would be unlikely. this specimen has a very forceful mind, even as his body wastes. the memories will fade, with time, as they have with the female.

very well.

meanwhile, we will do as we promised. he will want for nothing. 


the end.


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