Fandom: Star Trek
Characters/Pairing(s): Sulu gen.
Summary: His sister Kiwako seemed to think that they had to take sides, but for Hikaru, their parents' divorce was a chance to live two lives at once.
Word Count: 800
Author's Note: I was supposed to finish something for New Year's and, well, it's January 1st. Might come back and flesh this out later.
His sister Kiwako, six years his senior, seemed to think that they had to take sides; but for Hikaru, the divorce was a chance to live two lives at once. From the age of seven, he was constantly in transit, shuffling between his parents’ homes.
On the weekends when she was planetside, his mother would pack his fencing gear into an old gym bag, kiss his forehead, and dutifully send him off on a bus to his father’s house. Kiwako embraced her entry into adolescence by giving up on her fencing lessons, preferring instead to stay take up violin like their maternal grandmother. When Hikaru returned, she would give him a withering look and ask, “How is our father?”
But when their mother was off-world, he and Kiwako would spend at least a few months living with their father. Kiwako did her best to remain loyal to their mother even in her absence, but after a few days she could always be won over. Neither she nor Hikaru had their mother’s ability to hold a grudge, and anyway, they didn’t have her motivation.
Their father worked at a museum, and his house was crammed full of relics from Earth’s past. Hikaru’s favourite room in the house was the library. The walls were lined with imitation-wood shelves, and on these shelves (behind a wall of thick clear plastic) stood actual paper books, bound in leather or cloth or rigid cardboard. If Hikaru and Kiwako asked nicely, their father would put on a pair of gloves, turn on a special lamp, and read aloud to them. Hikaru would sit by his father’s side, inhaling the sweet musty smell of the yellowed pages and not worrying about fires or dust or paper-cuts.
His mother’s house, on the other hand, was kept spotless and dust-free and contained nothing older than Hikaru himself. The walls were painted soothing shades of blue and adorned with a few family photographs. Common flowering Earth plants grew in pots on every windowsill. In the backyard, there was a greenhouse built to simulate a rainforest on the planet Lin’douta. When they were old enough, Hikaru and Kiwako took turns adjusting the environmental controls every few weeks in an imitation of the seasons those plants would experience in their natural environment.
Their mother sometimes brought them fruit from the greenhouse. “Lots of vitamins,” she would say, carefully scooping out the bitter seeds and segmenting the flesh. Then she’d tell them which vitamins exactly as she popped the sweet, juicy pieces into their mouths.
Hikaru oscillated between these two homes, each happy in its own way, until he graduated from high school at the age of seventeen. He applied to Starfleet and was accepted right away, but he waited until the last possible moment to declare his major. He finally settled on a double degree in astrophysics and botany, on top of which he had flight training and the European Swordsmanship club. His friends teased him about being an overachiever, but he just smiled good-naturedly and took it as a compliment.
It never occurred to him until his first off-world mission, after Olson’s death and, minutes later, the destruction of Vulcan, that he might not have enough time to be everything he dreamed of as a kid. He could die before he became Starfleet’s top pilot or a famous fencing master. He might never captain his own vessel or discover a miraculous species of plant that would cure the Ornaran plague. He might never even beat Ensign Chekov at a game of chess.
But if Spock was to be believed that this was all an alternate reality created by an artificial black hole, then there was another Hikaru Sulu out there. And he might be anything—Starfleet’s youngest captain, a galaxy-famous musician, an infamous pirate whose crew could overtake even a Constitution class starship. And if there was more than one Hikaru Sulu, it stood to reason that there might as well be infinitely many.
When he slept, he dreamt of his other lives, and sometimes he woke in the night thinking, Oh, I wish I knew him, I wish we could meet. But more often than not, he was happy to dream of all the possibilities and then wake to this reality. Every time an ensign took a phaser to the chest just moments after beaming down, Hikaru would remember this as he reached for his katana, blood pounding in his ears: this life was finite, and he’d chosen a career that might very well keep him from reaching old age. But for every Hikaru that died in action, there was another that rose to prominence in his own way, having adventures that in any other life, he would never be able to imagine.