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Title: Grounded
Fandom: Star Trek
Characters/Pairing(s): Chekov/Sulu, and Demora
Rating: G
Word Count: 1000
Summary: Everyone has to leave the nest at some point. (Written for prompt #2 at
[livejournal.com profile] st_respect: "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone")
Author's Notes: I should probably mention that all my Russian comes from online translators, and all my Spanish comes from my memories of grades ten and eleven.
Much love to the delightful [livejournal.com profile] ranka_lee and [livejournal.com profile] greenteaduck for beta-reading this! ♥
And she won't read this, but I feel like I should give a shout-out to my mother, who not only provided insight into parenthood when I felt like I wasn't qualified to write this, but who inadvertently alerted me to the existence of slash when I was just a wee thing.


*

When she was thirteen, Demora Pavlovna Sulu ran away from home. At the time of her disappearance, her home was in orbit around Marijne II, and she got as far as Starbase 36 before she was found and forced to call her parents.

Every inch of Pavel was stretched taut with worry, but Hikaru reached for his hand and gave it a little squeeze.

“Don’t chew her out,” he murmured. Pavel bit the side of his tongue and smiled tightly at the viewscreen, letting Hikaru do the talking.

Demora’s voice wobbled as she listed her demands, her cheeks flushed an indignant shade of pink.

Hikaru nodded as he listened and gently negotiated until Demora stopped sniffling. Then, with a note of admiration in his voice, he asked how she managed to get off the ship in the first place.

Her lips twitched and she tugged at her hair as she explained the tinkering she’d done with the transporter while the officer on duty wasn’t looking.

Pavel couldn’t stay quiet anymore. “Young lady, I hope you know that you are grounded forever.”

Her burgeoning smile melted away and she rolled her eyes. “Yeah, Papa, I know.”

He meant “grounded” literally. The three of them returned to Earth immediately and didn’t leave Terran soil for another ten years.

*

Pavel taught her Russian and Hikaru taught her Spanish. Pavel couldn’t comment on her Spanish, but his heart leaped every time she spoke his mother tongue. Her American accent pulled the words flat in places, and from anyone else, Pavel would have called this poor pronunciation— but from Demora, it was linguistic innovation.

She used Russian to talk about her poor marks in Federation History and the cute boy who lived in the apartment above theirs. It was their secret code.

Pavel and Hikaru had no language of their own. They’d been fluent in each other’s body language once, but that had come as much from flying a starship together as it had from being in love. Their work at the Academy was very much separate; Hikaru delivered lectures and graded papers while Pavel ran simulations and analysed data. Sometimes it felt like they only came together for meals and Demora’s dance recitals.

But sometimes Hikaru spoke in his sleep and Pavel could easily lie awake for hours to decipher the dream-tangled words.

*

After high school, Demora applied to Berkeley for psychology. The morning after she was accepted, Hikaru whispered against the shell of Pavel’s ear that he’d secretly always wanted adventure and Captain’s stripes for their daughter. Pavel shook his head and said he liked the idea of her safe on the ground.

She shocked them both by writing the Starfleet entrance exams a week after her nineteenth birthday, halfway through her second year at Berkeley. She entered the command track, and Hikaru didn’t bother hiding his smug satisfaction when she started taking flying lessons.

*

“Не кричите, Папа,” she said. Don’t cry, Papa. She was tugging at her sleeves (no Captain’s stripes there, at least not yet) and Pavel knew she was close to tears, too.

“I’m just so proud,” he told her, wondering how he’d ever get a full night’s sleep while she was gone.

She promised once more to keep herself safe, and then she really did have to go. The shuttle was about to leave.

*

They’d been young when they had her, naïve enough to think that starting a family wouldn’t change anything between them. They still loved each other, of course, but that love had been tempered by Demora’s presence. Sometimes it had been hard to swoon at the sight of the man who would take their daughter out for ice cream every time she misbehaved.

Now she sat at the helm of the new Enterprise, and in their small apartment, they moved awkwardly around her absence and lived for her weekly calls.

*

Demora had only been gone for two months before Hikaru was offered captaincy of Excelsior.

He asked Pavel to be his first officer—it was an old dream of theirs, born in the earliest days of their friendship— but Pavel knew his research would keep him Earth-bound for another two years at least, and Hikaru was itching to return to space.

That didn’t mean he didn’t feel like he was being abandoned.

*

When he was seventeen, he could make Hikaru blush by just lilting his voice a bit and saying things that were entirely true, like You are an excellent pilot, or All the ensigns have crushes on you, you know. He could make him stutter by letting their hands touch on the conn.

Hikaru’s uncharacteristic nervousness had worried him so much that he finally had to ask outright to be kissed. It was worth it, though, the warm slide of Hikaru’s mouth against his after so many months of waiting.

What an accomplishment that had been. It made him ache to think about how easily it came now. Hikaru kissed him goodbye like it was just an alternative to waving.

“Я тебя люблю,” Pavel said in a desperate rush, the syllables knotting around themselves. He kept his hands by his sides because he was scared that if he touched Hikaru, he’d cling to him like Demora had when she was little.

Hikaru’s brow furrowed and his lips twitched, but whether he was fighting a frown or a smile, Pavel couldn’t tell.

“Love you too,” he said and kissed Pavel’s forehead. The tenderness should have made Pavel’s pulse flutter, but his heart was already hammering away at the speed of light.

*

“Demora” was Hikaru’s idea, Spanish for “bearing”. Yes, she was their bearing, the course they had plotted. You couldn’t get lost with a name like that.

“Hikaru” meant “light,” and that had always seemed appropriate. He was Pavel’s beacon in the dark, unflappable and inextinguishable.

And “Pavel”? Well, “Pavel” just meant “small”.

*

He kept the lights low in the apartment and busied himself while he waited. It was going to be a long five years.
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