May 23rd 2295Peter Kirks voice rose involuntarily. "You did what?!" He immediately added, in a calmer voice, "Sir?"
Chekov allowed this one reaction. In fact, he would have been a fool not to expect it. "Peter, your cabin is more than large enough for two people. Im just assigning you a temporary roommate."
Kirk looked at his captain with honest pleading. "But Captain. Willis OBrien? You know how I feel about reporters. Hell, the time my Academy roommates were killed, I had reporters in my face, and it feels like they never left. One even made it into Tantalus!"
Chekov looked up at that. "How could they--no, I dont want to know. Peter, Willis has suffered greatly since Demoras passing. We all have, but he seems totally unprepared for this tragedy. You cared about Demora. He cared about Demora. For her, will you do this?"
It was dirty pool, and they both knew it. Peter would almost never refuse any request made by the remaining seven members of his uncles legendary crew. He would not ever refuse anything that paid homage to a family member like Demora Sulu. Kirk began to recite. "A free and unrestrained press serves a vital guardian function in our United Federation of Planets... A free and unrestrained..."
Still reciting as he left, he passed Uhura on her way in.
"So did he give in?"
Chekov smiled. "Im convinced Willis is in good hands, the hands of someone whos been there and back."
Uhura folded her arms. "Should I file the paperwork for Peters promotion to Lieutenant Commander?"
Chekov felt confused. "Why? What has he done to merit such a thing so soon?"
Uhura looked at the door, and then at her old friend. "He didnt strangle you, just now. Now, that took willpower."
"Upenda Nyota Uhura! Mister OBrien needs someone to talk to, besides Doctor Beals. Sadly, Peter is an expert by default on grief and its effects. I made the right decision." He saw that she was still unimpressed. "Err...but keep that paperwork on hand, in case we need to bribe him into letting me live."
She smiled, and he shrugged at some unspoken words. "Da. I hope I know what Im doing, too."
Peter entered his cabin. The nephew of the man who brought order to a lawless galaxy now saw an outcropping of chaos. Lying across his bed was the bushy haired reporter, dressed in the white jumpsuit and boots he always wore, luggage stacked on top of the other bed, holocams floating about.
"Hey, Roomie! Just how long have you been working on this thesis padd, anyway? Reads a bit thick, but you sure take on every possible theory."
His thesis padd, the work of decades, was being scrutinized by someone with no scientific background. Peter sat down and mumbled to himself, "If I call Doctor Van Gelder now, we can have the Neural Neutralizer set up in no..."
"Hey, Peter? Would you mind not mumbling? Its rude."
Kirk got up, and started to walk out.
OBrien gestured. "Hey, where you off to? Ill tag along. Can I bring my holocams?"
Peter stared at Willis. "Bring anything you like. Bring your whole network. It doesnt matter--because I wont be there. Im turning myself over to The Romulans!"
May 24th 2295
Peter found that the small reservoir of hot water he kept to finish off his shower had been used up. His hair would not settle.
"Why do you keep so little hot water on hand? I could barely get my head and face clean!"
OBrien simply cant be this clueless, Kirk thought. "Mister OBrien, on any starship, water must be conserved. Its a replenishable resource, but conservation is the order of the day. Thats why we use sonic showers as much as possible. Ive now got to make a formal request to ships services to have my daily allotment increased. I dont think theyve gotten around to it yet."
OBrien shrugged. "No, you dont. Just do what I did in my old room. Bypass the allotment meter entirely. Its really easy, and itll take Security months to find out."
Peters eyes went very, very wide. "Kirk to Chterr."May 25th 2295 He was trying to be helpful. He would regret this. "Well, Mister OBrien, the Giant Space Amoeba, as youve so quaintly named it, taxed the Enterprise to its limits, not to mention her crew..."
OBrien waved his hands. "Stop! Youre reading a potential response from Captain Chekov, right? So read it the way he would."
Peter put down the padd. "And just what way would that be, Mister OBrien?"
"You know! Vwell, Meester OBrien, dot mission vas wery, wery difficult."
Again as before, Kirk stared at his assignment. "We in Starfleet have a word for what you just did, Mister OBrien."
"Insubordination."May 26th 2295 Doctor Christine Chapel called Science One from Sickbay. "Peter, Starfleet just ordered up two more tests for Roberta and Bucky, after reviewing what happened to poor Demora. Theyre not only redundant, but will take a while. Youll have to have someone cover the next two shifts."
"All right, Doc," he answered. "Ill do it myself. Ensigns Anderson and Leech are working on a project in Stellar Cartography."
"Sorry, Peter. Sickbay out."
Peter smiled as he realized hed not see his cabin for another eighteen hours. "Ive always loved that woman."
Then a voice came from behind him. "We begin this segment here in at Science One, where the Enterprise gets vital information on absolutely everything under the stars. Manning this vital station is my own roommate, Lieutenant Peter Kirk. Note the growing resemblance to the lost legend that was his uncle. Peter, any words?"
Kirk unintentionally quoted his uncle. "Turn that damn thing off," he growled as he motioned to Chterr.May 27th 2295 Saavik traced the odd noise, a humming that sounded distinctly like that of an idle sentient being. Going to a section of Deck Fifteen that most of the crew avoided, she found Peter Kirk seated in a lotus position.
"Lieutenant Kirk, why are you here? This place saw your uncles death. Even the Vulcans aboard this ship report an odd sensation while here."
Peter opened his eyes. "My apologies, Commander. But I wanted to meditate, and this is the last place that Willis OBrien would ever think to look for me."
Saavik shook her head. "You should not avoid Captain Chekovs assignment for you, no matter how distasteful you may find it, Mister Kirk. It speaks poorly of you that you should even attempt..."
Of course, a third party then entered talking. "Hey, Pete. Ive been looking all over for you. I meant to ask your opinion. Just how unethical was your cousin David Marcus use of protomatter, and what kind of sentence would he have faced, had he lived? Think about it, then get back to me."
He left, and Saavik raised an eyebrow--almost to the roof. "Mister Kirk?"
"May I join you? I, too, feel the sudden need to catch up on my own meditation."May 28th 2295 "Uh, Lieutenant Kirk?"
Peter warily looked up from his meal. "Ensign Gatchmeinz?"
She blushed, just a bit. "Yes. Im...soooo sorry, about last night. He was just so lonely, so hurt by Demoras death. I felt he needed me to be with him. I just didnt know Willis even had a roommate, and climbing into the wrong bed like that"
Peter winced. He had only seen Calita Iberez shortly after the flood of funerals in December. Having a young woman in his bed awoke some feelings he had been trying to fight down, til he found his rhythm aboard this new Enterprise.
"Its all right, Ensign. No harm done."
"Thank you, sir. By the way...what are you doing tonight?"May 29th 2295 Chekov angrily got up from the center seat, and pointed at the late comer who had been escorted to the bridge by Security Chief Chterr himself.
"Mister Kirk, you are an hour late! Tell me why I shouldnt assign you some extra shifts? Tell me why I shouldnt bounce you off bridge rotation? Tell me...why do you look angrier at me...than I do at you?"
Peter Kirk grimly held up a display, with its connections well severed. It was an alarm chronometer. "He disabled it because it makes a loud, obnoxious sound that wakes him up."
Chekov pointed to the rear of the bridge. "My office, Lieutenant."
Chekov simply said the words as they entered his office. "Permission to speak freely granted in this room, Lieutenant, unless I tell you otherwise. I owe you that much."
Peter did not yell. Nor did he hold back, though. "Sir, we have discussed everything except Demora. Hes even been with another woman..."
Chekov chuckled. "Da. I heard about that. That must have been..."
The captain briefly became an ensign again as Peter Kirks scowl took on frighteningly familiar dimensions. "Sir, I want him out of my cabin. Yours was a worthy plan, but it has failed. Whatever Mister OBrien has not talked with in his sessions with Doctor Beals, hes also not talking over with me. Ive had it. Unless you remove him from my cabin, Im requesting a transfer off this starship."
Captain Chekov nodded. "Give him two more days, Lieutenant. If, after that time, you still want him out, then Ill move him into that VIP suite again. Who knows? Maybe I never shouldve moved him out of there. But I was trying to avoid putting him off the ship."
Peter nodded. "I am sorry, sir. I havent tried as hard as I could, but even with that, hes been"
"I know, Peter. I know."
Kirk left, feeling despite everything, that he had failed Chekov. But one last straw awaited the new assistant science officer. When he walked back into his quarters later, he thought that Willis OBrien couldnt make him any angrier. He couldnt be any more wrong.
"What...are...you...doing?" Peter said between clenched teeth.
What Willis OBrien was doing was quite apparent. Peters personal correspondence padd, an engraved gift from his late friend Princess Teresa, had wires running out of it, leading to what some called a slicer box. Willis OBrien was breaking into the heart of Peter Kirk.
It was a heart Peter grabbed back. "You just crossed your last line, Mister! It was only the love and affection I felt for Demora that enabled me to take it this long. But now youve gone and pushed me too far. But thats what you reporters do, right?"
OBrien then indeed pushed a surprised Kirk away, and grabbed the padd back again. "I have more right to this than you. She was my girlfriend, Kirk, not yours! No matter what you think; she wasnt going to go back to you. Now I am going to see what she wrote you. I have the right"
As he rose, Kirk was close to OBrien. Too close, OBrien reasoned, to put any power into a return punch. But Peters chosen style in fact required little distance for a blow to strike hard. Willis and his nose now learned this, as he went sprawling.
"I have a right, too. A right hook. Now calm down. You seem to be laboring under a big misconception. Demora and I were..."
Had Peters stomach muscles been a lot less well developed, OBriens angry blow might have really hurt him. Had Willis stomach muscles not been much less well developed, Peters blow might not have had him doubled over in pain, gasping for air.
"That was your last warning. Demora Sulu was not my girlfriend. I thought of her as a dear friend who I was trying to help avoid making the mistakes..."
When a still-furious OBrien made a lunge for Kirks throat, the quick hands of his target blocked them both. His patience wholly exhausted, Kirk then seized his attacker by the collar, and held an open tensed palm inches from his nose.
"You dont seem too terribly bright. So let me make this simple. If you touch me again, I...will...kill...you!"
OBrien seemed to get the message, and so Peter let him go. Kirk then did something obviously surprising to the INS reporter. "Heres the padd, and all my recent correspondence with Demora. You could have just asked."
Willis OBrien had such a look of defiant anger on his face, Peter felt that he was looking into a mirror of himself, eight years gone. It was not an image he treasured or desired to see again.
"It was all part of a plan, right? Chekov never wanted me on board to begin with. Must have killed all of you that one of the Enterprise family would deign to sleep with a heathen reporter. So what do they do? Call in her old flame, the heir apparent himself, to lure her back to the fold. Then when she...after, you add insult to injury by having me live with my competition. Cute. Very cute. You all must think youre very clever."
Kirk was now at anger levels he thought impossible in his post-reform state. "Read the damned correspondence, OBrien. Or so help me, Ill call Security Chief Chterr and have you dragged off on so many charges, every last centicredit of Brad Bashaws money wont drag you out of the pit Ill personally dig for you."
OBrien took the padd, and again evoked painful memories of a Peter Kirk now thankfully passed. "Sure. Why not? Whats a little knife-twisting between two now permanently ex-boyfriends? Neither of us can have her now."
Thinking to at least embarrass a perceived rival with intimate details, Willis spoke out loud as he read the mail. "...be so good to have you on board, Peter. Someone I can talk to and trust, and get advice from that doesnt involve orders or warnings is just what I need right now. Ive missed you so much."
OBrien seemed calmer, at least a bit, as he kept reading. "...about you and Doctor Iberez. But with her friend and patient gone, maybe Starfleet is for her, and she should just ace the Academy. Until you hook up with her again, I have some friends on board I showed your picture to. I mean, I think you look alright, but they were positively pornographic when they let me know their opinions. They better not tire you out, though. I heard tell youre good at racquetball. My dad and your uncle used to go at it during Captain Kirks first two tours of duty aboard the original Enterprise."
OBriens voice was now breaking. "...but just give him a chance, Peter. The way he told off Ambassador Spock reminded me so much of the day you came to my rescue at the Academy. I know you dont like reporters. I can understand why. But if you care about me, and I know you do, accept him. I feel about seeing him every night the way I felt about getting your letters during that rough final year at the Academy. With one I love in one hand and one who always seems to know the right thing to say to me in the other, I feel Ill go far on this new starship Enterprise.
"Til then, Cousin. Demora."
OBrien just shook his head. "This is the kind of letter I used to get from my little sister. I...I didnt know. I thought that she and you...I mean, she just gushed on and on, and I got jealous. She really thought highly of you, Peter."
"Read on, Willis. She talks more about you. And talks, and talks, and talks..."
They both briefly smiled, and OBrien nodded. "Shes good for that, isnt she? I mean, get her started on any given subject, and she will..."
The smile faded as his use of the wrong tense came back at him. "No. She never will. Not ever again. I worried about you taking her away from me, if she were still here. Because--because..."
Peter tried an answer. "Because getting angry over that possibility was easier than handling the fact that for Demora, there are no more possibilities. They died with her."
OBriens face showed that he would rather have been beaten to a pulp than hear those words. "Peter, people just dont get erased like that. Not people you know. No Klingons. No Romulans or Orions. Just a parasite, going about its business."
Without an ounce of humor or irony or any leavening element, Kirk spoke hateful words not directed in anger at his guest. "Willis, welcome to my world."
Peter watched him until he fell asleep, then left to privately compose a delayed letter of condolence to Demoras father. He felt now that at last, he had the words.June 4th 2295 In the officers galley, Captain Chekov sat down with a young man whose patience was impressing him more every day. "Doctor Beals has made me aware of progress on Mister OBriens part. Good progress, for which youve been given partial credit. Have the tensions ceased, now that youre both alone again?"
Peter drank some milk, and nodded at his captain. "Willis and I are getting along fine, sir. With your approval, Im going to do a full interview with him about my experiences with the media."
"Im more than a little surprised to hear that. Usually he is overly protective of the media, so much so that he doesnt take criticism of it very well. Perhaps this whole experience has changed him." Chekov smiled. "I heard him call you Peter, you call him Willis. Heh. Would you consider taking him in for another week, to continue this progress?"
Kirk looked Chekov straight in the eye. "Not even if Jim himself were to ask me."
Chekov waved a padd. "Ive reassigned him to the same VIP quarters he had earlier...with security protocols built into the water management system this time."
Now, Peter looked at his captain. "Sir, Ive heard it said that as a young ensign, you felt in terrific awe of Captain Kirk."
"That is hardly a state secret, Lieutenant."
Chekov never saw the trap close. "Captain, the roles are now fully reversed, between our two families, and within our one. For I hold you in that same aspect as you held Jim."
Without another word, he departed, smiling and nodding at Commanders Uhura and Chterr as they entered the galley. Uhura sat down next to her captain while Chterr pulled a perch up to the table and sat beside the executive officer, his beak tilted in the Skorrian version of a smirk. "Sir, Ive prepared a report on Jeet Kune-Do. Apparently, students of it like our Mister Kirk can do amazing things to a target. I was half-expecting to find you...incapacitated." The Skorr warbled in laughter.
Uhuras smirk was obvious. "You take a lot of chances, Mister."
Chekov smiled. The first real replacement member of his crew seemed to be someone who could help him build that trusted outer circle. His own seventh. His own--Pavel Chekov, and maybe a bit more, considering their shared pasts. Unlike James Kirk, Pavel would need more than just his big three to see them through an era where a last name no longer ensured that death would be cheated. For in this young man, once shackled before him in disgrace, Captain Chekov had found someone as reliable as the Latin translation of his name implied.
"Penda, some chances are less chancy than others. And sometimes...it is simply destiny."
Perhaps even, he privately mused, the stirrings of what Spock had called ones first best destiny.
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