"Solstice"

Jan. 30th, 2010 04:13 pm
fairhearing: (the final frontier)
[personal profile] fairhearing
Title: Solstice
Author: Fair Hearing
Characters/Pairings: Chekov/Sulu, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty.
Rating: PG
Warnings: Character death.
Summary: Chekov spends a month on the threshold between night and day.  Originally written for [livejournal.com profile] st_respect Ship Wars Prompt 2, "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone."



When Sulu dies, it's all just as Chekov always knew it would be. An away mission gone wrong, Sulu a second too slow, his uncanny reflexes finally proving human after all; and Chekov himself watching it happen from a corner of sickbay, McCoy's shouts to the medstaff as faint and unreal as sounds heard through a meter of glass.

It's not the disruptor blast itself, but some kind of technology the Klingons built into the weapon, blocking absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream. If they had time, any time at all, to analyze the wound, study the effects -- but McCoy's barely discovered how Sulu is dying before the first bio-monitor begins to flatline, then the next, and the next, one after another.  McCoy curses through gritted teeth and throws the defilibrator switch to manual, as if he can get Sulu's heart beating again through sheer force of will alone.  Chekov has never seen the doctor's eyes wet before. 

He already knows nothing is going to help.  He's already seen the doctor's useless final struggles, heard the captain's voice breaking when he delivers the news, a dozen times in his nightmares.  He knows how he himself will react, too: frozen at first, then screaming at Sulu to wake up, sobbing into his chest, before someone has to pull him away.  So when the last monitor -- brain activity -- finally blanks out, he's faintly surprised to hear himself speaking.

"Cryogenesis."

Kirk is the first to turn to him, staring, the first to figure out what Chekov is suggesting.  McCoy is still somewhere else, still trying everything he can, even though Sulu is dead.

"Cyogenesis, hurry," Chekov shouts at him, but Kirk's already grabbed McCoy by the shoulder, pulled him back.  He comms Engineering, orders an isolated forcefield around biobed three, and when Kirk looks back over his shoulder, Chekov knows what he's asking for.

"Eighty degrees kelvin," Chekov tells him, and the captain knows what he's doing; he orders environmental controls to make it instantaneous, to stop every cell and molecule in Sulu's body exactly where it is.  There's a flash as the air around Sulu's body freezes to dust on his skin, a faint glitter of rime from his last breaths.

In the quiet that follows, Chekov begins to cry.

***

The nearest starbase is six weeks away. Cryogenic preservation on a Constitution-class starship can only be maintained for twelve days before auxiliary power reserves short out. After Scotty descends into the maze of power couplings and dilithium reserves in Engineering, he's given them thirty.

As Chekov and Spock close themselves into the physics laboratory, to find a cure in thirty days, Chekov remembers the year he spent at his grandmother's house in Murmansk, latitude sixty-eight degrees north. The entire month of June, the sun had never set, Chekov blinking sleepily at the bright windows at three A.M., but all of December had been darkness, a month-long unbroken night.

Chekov realizes then that it's always night on the Enterprise, too. He hadn't thought of it, when Sulu was alive.

***

He doesn't sleep at all for the first four days, just analyzes and researches with robotic efficiency, living on protein supplements so he doesn't have to pause to eat. Finally Spock, finding him alone in the lab at 0200, has to clear his throat, say "ensign" in a soft voice.

Back in his quarters, Chekov falls asleep researching photon disintegration. He dreams of stumbling through a snowstorm, tears freezing on his face as he shouts Sulu's name into the wind.

***

On the eleventh day, while Spock and McCoy are replicating an experimental steroid that will ultimately fail to synthesize, Chekov allows himself back into sickbay for the first time. He has to stop at the doorway.

That night, every dream he has is about the glimmer of frost on Sulu's skin, every story he's ever heard about maidens in glass coffins and princesses sleeping for a hundred years. But he can't find Sulu in any of them.

***

By the eighteenth day, Uhura has to walk him to his quarters to make sure he actually gets into bed.

"Do you ever wonder where he is?" he mumbles that night in Russian, somewhere between awake and asleep.

"What do you mean?"

"He's not there in sickbay, not really."

"Shh," she says, soothingly, taking his hand, but Chekov heard her breath hitch.

"How can I bring him back if I don't know where he is?" he whispers, but he's already dreaming, asking the shadows in Murmansk.

***

By the twenty-fifth day the captain has ordered a full-stop on all engines.  The staff of physicists and doctors in the lab rotates constantly, Spock supervising half the day, Chekov the other, both of them compiling reports for McCoy; but it's not enough, it's not working, they're frustrated at every turn.

He's gone for three days without sleep this time, and when Spock arrives, Chekov refuses to leave. He tries to explain, slurring his words, that he's the one who must bring Sulu back, that he's the only one who can do it, and the room tilts dizzyingly when he tries to rise from his microscope.

"Ensign, you're ill," says Spock, reaching over to steady him, but Chekov is already sinking to the floor.

***

Even though it's a fever, all Chekov can dream about is snow.

***

When Chekov wakes up in sickbay, his eyes are already leaking: his body knows how much time has passed. But then he hears his name, and when he turns, there's Sulu smiling at him from the next biobed.

It was the compound Chekov was working on before he got sick -- Spock completed it -- Sulu's fine except for the healing phaser burn and a persistent full-body ache. His eyes are a bit puffy; he looks a little worried at how hard Chekov's crying. When Chekov asks, he says he doesn't remember being cold at all.

"I thought I would never be able to get you back," Chekov says, holding Sulu's hands, whispering against his skin. "I couldn't find you, I didn't know where you were."

Sulu looks surprised.

"I was with you," he says, softly, as if Chekov should have known this.

And Chekov wipes his eyes, and laughs, and nods, because he sees, now.  That's what he was really here to do. Keep Sulu safe, hold him close in the dark.

When he falls asleep, it's with his hand against Sulu's cheek. When he dreams, he dreams of summer.
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