"Sulu, if you want the kid to feel safe, why not give him a phaser instead of keeping him in the Dark Ages?" McCoy asked.
"He's better with an edge weapon," Hikaru said. "I mean, he can use a phaser, but he's much better with a knife."
"The odds of us finding a butterfly knife such as what Vadim Chekov gave him is 1.3%," Spock said. "Production of that kind of blade stopped forty-three years ago. To find one that would still be functional is .4%."
"It doesn't have to be a butterfly knife. It was a gift from someone who loved and cared about him and who wanted him to be able to protect himself. That's what's important," Hikaru said, getting impatient. He did not think it would be this hard to convince them to do this.
"Wait, you lost me," Kirk said. They were all (sans Pavel) in his quarters in Yorktown, and he was lounging on the loveseat in the corner. "Why exactly do we need to do this?"
Hikaru hesitated. Then, "I saw Pavel mapping his room today."
There was silence. Nyota cleared her throat. "As in 'ten steps from the couch to the front door, twelve steps from the kitchen to the bathroom'..."
McCoy sputtered. "What the hell's gonna happen to us in Yorktown, for god's sake?! If anything wrong does happen, it's not going to be solved with a knife. It's involve a lack of oxygen and sudden expulsion to space--"
"Save the gloom and doom speech, Bones," Jim sighed. "Considering how many times Chekov's saved someone's sorry ass with a knife..."
"Get him a Swiss army knife," McCoy grumbled. "He'll actually be able to use that one."
Hikaru snorted. "For fighting? That thing has no balance and the blade can barely cut through butter."
"That's because it's a tool designed to fix things. I'm a doctor, not a weapons dealer, dammit!"
"Well, who says we only have to give him one?" Nyota asked.
They all looked at her. "Huh?"
She rolled her eyes. "There's five of us. This doesn't have to be collective."
Jim grinned. "I love you."
"Still dating Spock, Kirk."
"It is logical to give him several options to work with," Spock said.
McCoy rolled his eyes and sighed. "Much as I hate to agree with the hobgoblin..."
"Great!" Kirk stood. "Sulu, at what point does a knife count as a sword?"
Hikaru frowned. "Huh?"
"What's the limit? Ten inches? Twelve?"
"You're seriously asking about limits?" McCoy gasped, almost reaching for a tricorder.
"Well, I don't want to give him something he can't use!" Kirk paused. "Unless you've been teaching him how to use the sword..."
Hikaru shook his head, smiling. "He doesn't like swords. There's too much space needed and they're harder to hide. If you can hold the handle with both hands, or if the blade is more than eighteen inches, then it's considered a sword."
Kirk's eyes popped and he grinned. "Eighteen inches?!"
"Jesus, Sulu, you couldn't have underscored it just a little?" McCoy growled.
Hikaru was man enough to admit to himself that this might have been a bad idea.
"Hey, Gaila," Nyota said in her communicator. "Can you get Pavel out of his room tomorrow?"
Pavel was pleasantly surprised when, two days before the end of shore leave, Gaila showed up in his room and insisted on exploring Yorktown with him.
"Your nerd equations will still be there tomorrow," she said, dragging him away from his PADD. "I heard that downtown has the best smoothies this side of the galaxy, and I desperately need to test that theory."
They ended up going to half a dozen museums and unique architectural wonders all over Yorktown. It'd been ages since Pavel and Gaila had had a minute to talk to each other and catch up. Pavel was stunned to learn that Gaila had a steady boyfriend. "And no, you don't need to stab him," she said. "That would be very rude."
Pavel made a sad face. "How else am I supposed to do the showel talk?"
"The only person in my life allowed to do any kind of stabbing these days is my boyfriend," Gaila said with a wink.
"Oh, nyet, change topic now, please."
"Okay, okay, fine. How about this: I heard you had to be a witness at a trial, or something?"
Pavel nodded. "Vhen I vas in foster care during the Academy, I liwed vith a family called the Shermans. Vell, I say 'liwed vith,' but I vas actually liwing at the Academy. They paid for the house, the food in the house, and some of my textbooks. That's all they did."
Gaila stared at him. "You're not seriously saying they were neglectful, are you?"
"That's exactly vhat they vere. But don't vorry, I vas already at the Academy so I didn't care," Pavel quickly assured. "But they vere responsible for some other kids. Someone told the authorities a few veeks ago and they vanted my testimony, so I did it here by streaming."
"Well, I hope they rot in prison for the rest of their lives," Gaila growled, sucking down her smoothie.
Pavel honestly didn't care either way. The Shermans were nothing to him, which was why he'd been so surprised when, a few weeks ago, a friend of Hikaru's who worked in foster care asked for his testimony. Hikaru himself had tipped them off, and had gone on a tangent when Pavel had asked about it. Hikaru had been downright vicious. A part of Pavel wanted to stick him in a room with Andrei just to see what would happen.
"Let's go to Erskine Tower," Pavel suggested, pulling away from the darker thoughts. "I hear it's the biggest tourist attraction..."
Three hours later they went back to their rooms. Pavel yawned, ready to go to bed, when he stepped over the threshold and froze.
Someone had been here.
It wasn't anything specific that gave it away, more instinct than anything else. A wisp of perfume or cologne that Pavel didn't use, a tiny shift in the furniture from someone bumping into it, he didn't know. But he was immediately on high alert.
He stepped into the bedroom and saw five packages on the bed.
He checked the room twice to make sure there were no other nasty surprises or people lurking around, before locking the door and approaching the bed.
He recognized the handwriting on one of them and immediately relaxed. Then wondered why Uhura was giving him a present.
Pavel opened the little box from her and stared. It was a little neck knife. The blade was only two inches long and designed to go in the sheath that hung from one's neck, but the sheath could also be put on the belt, and it was tiny enough that it would be hidden beneath his shirt.
Pavel picked up the next package at random and laughed at the note on it. "Don't poke your eye out. --McCoy."
It was a Swiss army knife. Pavel would never be able to throw it with any kind of accuracy or use it in a fight. But the tools stuffed into the tiny handle would be very useful in Engineering.
He didn't even need a note to know that the giant bowie knife had come from Kirk. The man was incapable of subtly. Pavel wondered where the heck he could put this when he saw the sheath that came with it, which could attach to his boot.
The Vulcan dagger had to have come from Spock's personal collection, which made Pavel's eyes water a little. The blade was four inches and came with a soft leather sheath. Pavel could put it on his belt, or possibly get a strap and slip it up his arm.
Sulu's present was his favorite: six kunai throwing knifes in an arm sheath. Perfectly balanced and absolutely beautiful.
These all must've cost a fortune. Pavel found himself torn: he wanted to stash these away and treasure them forever, and he wanted to give them back because it was too much.
His com chirped. Pavel swallowed the lump in his throat and answered. "Da? This is Chekov."
It was Kirk. "Don't even think about returning them, or insisting you can't take them, or any of that self-sacrificing bullshit Bones says is contagious from me but actually isn't. They're yours, we meant them as a gift."
Pavel stared at the communicator. "I thought Spock vas the telepath?"
"No, we saw you come in from my room."
Pavel closed the communicator and ran out into the hall. He pounded on Kirk's door until he answered. "All right, all right, we'll do this in pers--oof!"
Pavel rammed into Kirk's chest and hugged him. Kirk chuckled and hugged him back. Somewhere deeper in the room, McCoy snorted. "I'll take a pass on that. Pretend I'm Vulcan."
"That is unlikely to ever be successful, Doctor," Spock said dryly.
Hikaru and Nyota were also there, so Pavel hugged both of them, too. And he did McCoy while he sputtered protests just because.
"Try not to stab anyone important," Kirk said. "The paperwork on that is god awful."
Pavel giggled. "I von't. I...thank you."
Two days back on the Enterprise, Hikaru and Kirk were on the lift heading to the gym for a sparring session.
"Considering the fact that you keep getting into fights with people three times stronger than you, maybe you should do this with Spock," Hikaru suggested.
"Nah, he's been a bit touchy on that ever since the whole almost-strangling-me-on-the-bridge thing."
"I know, right! Besides, you're a badass sword ninja. That's awesome."
Hikaru snorted and shook his head. "Don't call an Asian a ninja, Captain. Even if they are one."
"Okay, then you're a badass sword-wielding fighter...guy," he finished lamely.
"Thanks, Captain," Hikaru said flatly as the lift doors opened.
They both paused. It was the officers' gym, so few people ever used it. Which was probably why Pavel was there.
He was using one of the replicated Styrofoam dummies for target practice. Three of the throwing knives Hikaru had given him were embedded in its head. Pavel threw another. Four knives in the head. Five. Six. Then he pulled a Vulcan dagger from seemingly nowhere and chucked that, too. It shaved off the dummy's left ear before it clattered to the floor. Pavel swore in frustration.
"Yeah, Pavel, only six out of seven. That's awful," Kirk teased. "It's not like he'd be dead by the third knife in his eyeball."
"The dagger is wery unique in its veight and form, vhich makes it more difficult to throw accurately," Pavel said, as if Kirk had been serious. He pull the knives out of the dummy and slipped them in the sheath on his left forearm, which was hidden under his sleeve, a fact that Hikaru had honestly not considered when he got that and was now genuinely terrified.
"Where exactly were you keeping that dagger?" Hikaru asked while Pavel retrieved said dagger.
Pavel looked up at him, then pulled down his other sleeve to reveal the dagger's sheath strapped to his right forearm.
Hikaru turned to Kirk. "You sure you want to be taking lessons from me?"
"Yeah, you're a lot less terrifying," Kirk agreed.
Pavel beamed at them. "Don't tell anyone."
Pavel called the house he grew up in just that: a house. He called Andrei Chekov his biological father, and nothing more.
The Shermans were people who had occasionally given him money while he'd been in the Academy because the state ordered it. The Academy itself was where Pavel perfected the art of appearing normal, in addition to learning science.
But the Enterprise? That, without a doubt, was Pavel's home. His first home. And its crew was his family.