Fortunate enough to have a wealthy and friendly classmate in your graduating class of 2261, you were now spending your grad night on Rigel II, an M-class planet in the Kandari sector of the Alpha Quadrant and notorious for its reminiscence of 21st-century Vegas, Navada back home on Earth.
The Cabaret, a popular club, was currently occupied by some 130 new graduates, among which was you. Jack and Sylar had demanded you accompany them, and since they were your only friends on this outing, you had agreed.
It wasn’t that you didn’t enjoy the atmosphere; the loud, fried electronic music, the scantily dressed men and women performing, eager dancers rubbing up against one another on the dance floor, it was kind of fun. In fact, your eyes were currently fixed on a curvy, copper-toned woman displaying her wanton flexibility against a very lucky pole. The thing is, it was nice to look at, but it really wasn’t your scene. And neither did it appear to be that of an uncomfortable looking redhead receiving a lot of visual attention from the curvy lady. Even in the dim, colored lighting, you could see him blushing as his inebriated comrade clapped a hand on the younger’s uniformed shoulder, laughing boisterously at his reaction to the dancing woman.
Sylar’s face broke your gaze and he shouted something at you over the music, pointing in the dance floor’s general direction with his eyebrows raised. You nodded once and he nodded in return, leaving with Jack’s hand in his. You waited at the table by yourself, occasionally casting a pitying gaze at the curly-haired boy.
The Starfleet insignia glinted in the shifting light. Ooh, how intriguing. He looked so young! The red-shirted man beside him looked at least ten years his elder, as was their companion in the blue shirt who you were only just seeing now. That one seemed quite taken with a couple white dancers in feathery bikinis. If anyone had asked you, you’d have said a pair of Tribbles were attached to their breasts.
The boy quickly excused himself, drink in hand, eyes trying to preoccupy themselves with anything non-sexual. As a result of his flickering gaze, he completely missed the chair Jack had left pulled out from the table. “Whoa--!” Down he went, drink flying directly toward you as a Russian expletive left his lips. You didn’t have time to move before your shirt was completely soaked. You looked down at it and then over at the boy, who was already back up on his feet and apologizing rapidly with big, worried blue eyes. “I em so wery sorry, I should hawe been looking at where I was going! I can get zat cleaned for you, I can—“
Oh, wow, what a sweetie. “Stop, stop, it’s fine,” you insisted, awkwardly wringing out the hem of your shirt. You picked up the glass, watching the liquid drip off the edge of the table. An android was there in seconds to dry it off. “Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?”
“Me? Oh, no, I am fine. Do you need--? Here, come wis me…”
You followed him into the bathroom, which was luckily vacant. The realization suddenly hit you that perhaps following a complete stranger into an isolated location wasn’t the best idea, so you took a wary step back, calculating your emergency exit need it be performed.
“You need zat washed,” he explained in his rather adorable Russian accent as he removed the yellow uniform, revealing a black undershirt. “Here, wear zis. I will turn around so you can change.”
You took the yellow Starfleet uniform with a shy thank-you and began to cautiously undress once his back was turned. Thankfully, your bra was still dry, so you didn’t need to take that off. The borrowed garment was warm and silky on your shoulders and hugged your breasts, for the young man was very slight. “You can turn around now.”
“Okey.” He turned back around and held out his hand with a smile, nodding at your shirt. You handed it to him, and before you could ask his name, he was apologizing again. “I am so sorry, miss—“
You interrupted with your name. “Please don’t apologize. I saw the whole thing. I know it was an accident.”
Relief let his shoulders fall and he smiled, activating the faucet. He ran the shirt under the water with careful hands, as though he was afraid to break it. “Zat is a wery nice name,” he said. “Mine is…I-I’m Pavel. Pavel Chekov,” he meant to say, but the first “v” came out as a “w” and the end of his name ended with “off.” Your brain corrected the errors of his speech impediment and you tried not to laugh at how endearing you found it.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Chekov.”
“I would haff preferred different circumstances, but…” He shrugged with a smile and you both laughed. He wrung out your shirt with yet more gentle care, lifting it in and out of the Evaporator. “Hmm…it is broken,” he explained, punching the button on an old-school hand dryer. He held the shirt there, smiling awkwardly as you both waited with impatience.
You smoothed out the uniform with your hands, eyes caught by the emblem. “So…what is it you do for Starfleet, Mr. Chekov?”
He beamed, clearly proud to tell you. “I am ze head of nawigation, but Meester Scott is training me to be an engineer as well. I started when I was sewenteen years—“
You must have giggled, because he clammed right up and blushed, ducking his head.
“Oh, no no, I’m so sorry,” you said, touching his forearm gently. “Keep talking, I want to hear all about your adventures. I promise I won’t laugh again. It’s just…I wasn’t expecting that.”
His bright blue eyes studied you cautiously and he hit the button again when the dryer turned off. “You are sure? I do not wish to bore you…”
“No, no, go right ahead, Mr. Chekov.” You smiled as amiably as you could manage, and he was encouraged to continue. He talked all about his first mission aboard the United Star Ship Enterprise, praised his captain (who just happened to be the famous James T. Kirk), and bragged a little about being the youngest in his class at the academy. By the time your shirt was dry, the two of you were so engaged in his tale about almost starting an intergalactic war that you simply forgot about the shirt altogether. That is, until Jack and Sylar came bursting through the door, melded together at the lips.
“Whoa!” you shouted, punching Sylar in the arm when he nearly knocked you against a wall.
“Oh, excuse—“ He and Jack broke apart and each looked from you to Chekov. Both quickly noted your shirt in his hands.
You shook your head and began to protest, but as Sylar left with a wink, Jack shouted “GET SOME!” and they were gone.
“My friends,” you explained apologetically. Pavel nodded and chuckled, handing you your shirt. He turned around again, allowing you to dress once more. You were almost sad to part with the shirt; it was so comfortable.
“You can look now.”
He did so and put his shirt back on, eyeing the mirror. “Ah, no…” His brow furrowed and he tugged a hand back through his curls with a click of his tongue. “I just straightened it zis morning.”
“Why?” I think it’s cute curly,” you said.
He huffed and blushed, half-smiling. “Sank you, but…zat is just ze problem. It is enough zat I am ze youngest aboard the Enterprise. Being a ‘cute li’l curly-haired laddie’ does not exactly help for me to be taken seriously.”
“Ah, I see…well, I hope that…you get taken more seriously,” you offered lamely. “Uh…Thank you so much for helping me out. You really didn’t have to.”
“Oh, of course I did, it was no problem!” He smiled, held out a hand and shook yours. “It was wery nice to meet you.”
“You too, Mr. Chekov. Good luck in your future adventures.”
“No disrespect to my captain,” said he, with a twinkling smile, “but knowing him, we will need it.”
You tried your hand at dancing out on the floor, but in this day and age dancing was so complex and precise. It wasn’t something you could just pick up by watching people. You had to practice to be able to go clubbing. Fortunately, after Sylar had needed a rest, Jack was helping you to fake it. You mirrored his actions, tried not to mess up when people bumped into you, and kept going even when you did.
Soon you were able to just sort of feel it, and your eyes didn’t need to be glued to Jack. You let them wander over the sweating, smiling dancers, up to the stage where the feathered women still performed for the tired crewmates, classmates, and regulars. The beat thrummed through you from the floor up, the noise making your head feel light.
Bouncing red curls caught your attention and you saw Pavel out on the floor, dancing with a dark-skinned woman who kept casting spiteful glances at a blue-shirted Vulcan, who wouldn’t return the attention. Pavel looked at you and smiled and you waved, feeling more comfortable with the dancing. Jack nodded toward him, making a sexual gesture at you and winking. You punched his arm playfully and shook your head. When you looked back over, the woman’s head was ducked, a hand fighting off tears. Pavel tried to comfort her and she resisted, quickly walking off. The young navigator looked lost and awkward, all by himself in the mass of dancers. You watched him try to leave without getting bombarded.
“Go,” Jack whispered in your ear, shoving you along. You glanced back, mouthed a thank-you, and wove through the crowd to the young man, taking his hand and leading him out of there.
“Sank you,” he chuckled.
“No problem.” Your vocals strained to pierce through the music. “I’m a little crowd buzzed. Wanna go outside?”
His cute little pink lips parted while his brain tried to separate your question from the noise. He nodded, following you out the back door onto a set of steps in the cold night air. The door closed off the light and muffled the sound, though you could still feel the bass under your feet. “Whoo…wow.” You breathed in the cool air, head still buzzing. “I take it this really isn’t your thing, either?”
“Not really my preference, no,” he said, sighing with relief. “So I newer asked why you’re here.”
“Grad night,” you explained, leaning on the railing. “I really only went because I couldn’t pass it up. Not everyone gets to warp across space to their grad night, you know? But it’s probably nothing special to you.”
He chuckled. “I guess I’we begun to take it for granted. Exploring strange new worlds, visit places no one has ewer seen…it is a shame I consider it work.”
“I’ve often fantasized about a life like that,” you admitted. “It just…it bothers me, you know? How much space there is, how little time we have to see it, how I’m stuck there in one corner of one galaxy in one insignificant point in time…”
“I would giwe so much to return to earth, some days,” he interrupted. “But ze stars are always brighter in ze next galaxy, yes?” You chuckled and nodded. “But do not make yourself feel insigniwigant. Yes, you are at one corner of one galaxy at any given time, but so am I, and I live on a Star Ship. It doesn’t matter where you are. You can still make your life an adwenture.”
“I guess that makes sense…”
That brought an awkward end to the conversation. You looked up at the sky, so unbelievably grateful for the lack of light pollution on this planet. You could see entire nebulae—purple, pink, blue and swimming with their illuminating stars—and galaxies far, far away. “So a few of my friends with…extra money in their pockets want me to go on a cross-galaxy star trip with them. Looking up there…I might just take them up on the offer.”
“Zat is wery dangerous,” said Chekov with a tone of concern. “Even in ze Milky Way galaxy zere are dangers we hawen’t been able to combat.”
“Well, what you do is dangerous.”
“What I do is professional,” he corrected, hoisting himself up onto the railing to look at the stars with you. “And it is done wis a crew of nearly fiwe-hundred. And we are on a beeg ship wis beeg phasers and—just don’t do it. If you want to trawel through space, go to ze academy.”
You sighed, eyes dropping. “I don’t even know if I want to commit to that. Can I just…go out in space without making a career commitment?” A calm breeze swept by. “I’m sorry to bother you about this.”
“No, no, eet is fine. I understand your confliction.”
Another awkward, silent moment. This one stayed awhile, and even the stars didn’t really comfort you this time because he was right, the universe was dangerous. You must have looked bored to him because he spoke up, landing back on his feet.
“You can go back inside if you want, I won’t be offended,” he said. “I know I look young, but I am twenty-one years old. I can take care owv myself.” A hint of bitter sarcasm. Just a hint.
“Oh, yeah, no, trust me. I feel way more comfortable out here. Dancing is awkward…”
“Haha, yes, I agree…it didn’t used to be, so much. Well, but I suppose some people still felt awkward.”
“What, you mean twenty years ago? The robot twist or whatever?”
He laughed heartily, shaking his head. “I suppose zat was awkward for erewyone. I, ah…” Nervous, he combed his hand back through his curls. “I know a few older dances. I could show you, if you like.”
“Oh, yes! Of course! I’d love to see,” you encouraged brightly.
Confidence brought out his smile again and he offered you a hand. “Here, take my hand like zis. Do you know what a waltz is?”
You shook your head. “Oh, well…I’ve heard of it, but I don’t know how.”
He nodded at you, still smiling. “Put your ozzer hand on my shoulder.” You obeyed. “Now just watch my feet and step forward where I step back.” He put his free hand at your back, eyes asking for permission to do so. You nodded and he continued, stepping in rhythm slowly enough for you to keep up. He counted to three under his breath for a few measures. “Good, good,” he encouraged.
You weren’t sure if you stepped off beat on your own or if he did, but he took the fall for it, saying that he must have been thrown off by the music from inside.
“Well, it…was nice. And slow. Not so…show-off-y,” you said. He nodded vigorously, dropping his arms. “Do you know more?”
“Oh, I…yes. Ah…I know many, but currently I can only sink of one ozzer zat I know a lot of steps for. Here,” he said, taking both your hands into his. “Ah…we should have more of a floor.” You followed him down the steps onto an open grassy area and took his gentle hands again. “Okey. Now, it goes step, step, rock step. Step, step, rock step. Zat is ze basic step. You got it?”
You giggled, following him along and losing a bit of control on the back step.
“Not step back so far,” he instructed. “Yes, good. Okey. Step, step, rock step. Yes! You see? Is very easy. Okey, now I am going to spin you.”
“Yes. And your feet go like…” He dropped your hands, standing side by side with you. “Your feet do like zis…you see? You got it?”
“Yes, I got it.”
“Good.” Joining hands with you again, his body guided you to spin under his arm, and you ended with a rock step back in the first position. “Yes, wery good!”
“Why thank you. I’m pretty good for a beginner, huh?”
He chuckled. “Yes, but I hawe more in store for you.”
It was a very sloppy sort of dance, your bodies swinging around in every direction. It was very quick, too, and if you messed up, it didn’t seem to matter much. And it was so much fun. Laughing, twirling, completely free in the cool, dark night; you didn’t want it to stop, but unfortunately your body didn’t have the same sentiment.
Pavel noticed your tiredness, slowing down the dance, and brought you into him with a spin that ended with your back to his chest and your arms wrapped around your chest. The two of you swayed together, back and forth, and comfortable calmness stole over you.
He rested his chin on the top of your head. “Zat one is my faworite.”
“Yeah, I like that one. What others do you know?”
You felt him shake his head. “Ze only ones I can remember right now are from ze early twenty-first century. I used to know how to tango, but…”
“Show me the twenty-first century moves, then.”
“If you are sure,” he whispered, hands slipping down to your hips. “Because zat was a time where ewerysing was…ower-sexualized.”
“I’m waiting,” you whispered back. His fingers curled shyly, scrunching your shirt a little. He pulled your hips against his, swaying slowly evolving into grinding. You encouraged, blushing. This was the simplest dance you could ever think of. Did it even qualify as dancing? Because it really just felt like foreplay. Not that you minded.
You reached back, hooking your arm around his neck, and his hands wandered up your sides and back down to your hips, pulling you against him more. Your back arched. Yeah, this wasn’t dancing anymore. “Mr. Chekov…”
“We should stop, shouldn’t we,” he suggested, already letting go of you. “I am sorry. I told you zat I couldn’t remember—“
“It’s okay.” You turned back around to face him, and then looked at the back door of the club. “It’s getting cold out…we should, uh…go back in.”
He nodded in agreement, following you to the door at a respectful distance. The sweet dear. He held the door open for you and you nodded thanks as you stepped back inside the club.
It hadn’t been fifteen minutes when you met again, both back at your tables and abandoned by your comrades. A couple times, your eyes met, but he looked away each time. One time you managed to wave before he could look away, and he smiled back, looking a little less awkward. He motioned if it was okay to sit with you and you nodded, asking as soon as he sat down, “I don’t know why you didn’t ask earlier.”
“I didn’t know if I had ower-stepped my bounds,” he explained over the music. “I am glad I didn’t.”
You smiled, opening your mouth to continue the conversation, but a red thing glomped onto Pavel out of nowhere, followed by a bubbly woman in little clothing. “Eyyy, laddie, ye’ve got th’ hotel tae yerself tonigh’,” said the red thing, which turned out to be Pavel’s friend from earlier. “Ah’ve got…other arrangements,” he said, nodding toward the woman. He noticed you, leaning his face to the younger’s ear, and whispered something, to which Pavel blushed darkly.
Again the two of you were alone, and after a moment of awkwardness he groaned. “Zis song again.”
“I don’t even…this music is so lifeless,” you tacked on, and the two of you were again off in a tizzy about the stupidity of present culture. Artists you hated and liked, old artists you both knew…
“I hawe some swing music back at ze hotel I am staying at,” he said after a time. “Swing is ze dance we were doing outside. Not ze sexual one.”
You giggled at that, nodding. “I figured. The name fits.”
“If you don’t think me too forward, especially after…well…” The shirt incident? The grinding? He had been pretty personal with you tonight. Again, not that you minded. “Anyway. Woul you like to go zere wis me? I can get you back before your class leawes.”
“I would enjoy nothing more,” you said, already getting up. On your way out, you snagged Sylar and told him where you were going, and then off you were again in the cold nighttime with a sweet boy you had barely met and already trusted with your life.