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Ensign Chekov pulled his shirt down nervously as the turbo-lift slowed to a halt. His first spell of duty on the Bridge of the most famous ship in the Fleet, and to make things worse, under the eyes of those two almost legendary officers, Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock. He gulped back his fright as the doors opened, stepping out on legs that seemed no longer his. The Bridge was quiet, only the hum of the equipment endlessly maintaining the great ship broke a silence that seemed, impossibly, to swell as he hovered uncertainly.
The Captain was over at the Library Console, looking over his First Officer's shoulder, but he straightened to nod a welcome.
"Good morning, Ensign."
"Good morning, sir." Oh, God, his voice had cracked. It hadn't done that in years.
The Communications Officer looked up from her console and gave him a brilliant smile and a wink. "You're nice and early, Mr Chekov," she whispered conspiratorially. "Making a good impression?"
He gave her a sheepish grin and went down into the well, tapping the navigator on the shoulder. "Relieving you, Mr Farrel."
The older man gave a pleased grunt and stood up. Chekov slid into the vacated chair and listened to the take-over report with apprehensive concentration. It seemed to be straightforward, but he'd better check it all again just to be sure.
He flicked over the console, hearing in his mind the calm voice of the Vulcan in the training sessions. Memory of that voice calmed him down and the world seemed to steady around him.
Certain at last that all was well, he relaxed in the seat, to find that Sulu had taken over the helm, and was watching him.
"Not bad," the helmsman said, grinning broadly. "Not bad at all. You only checked it over four times. They told me I went over it seven times before I looked up."
Chekov gave him a wavering smile, wondering if he'd ever be able to speak in such a normal voice. Most likely he'd be reprimanded for inaudibility.
He nearly shot off his chair. "S-sir?"
Kirk was in the command chair now. "Position, please, Ensign."
"246.218 parsecs out of Benecia, sir, heading 24 mark 312."
The words were out before he'd had time to think - had it been correct? Worriedly, he checked the console. Had that last decimal point been right? No-one had corrected him. Perhaps Commander Spock had been too busy to listen.
The hours ticked slowly away. Routine. No surprises. A hand touched his shoulder. "Relieving you, Mr Chekov."
End of watch? Blindly, he realised that others were moving towards the turbo-lift, and he followed them, stumbling awkwardly up the steps.
Standing in the lift with Uhura, Spock, Captain Kirk - he, Pavel Chekov, going off watch with those three. Daring, he lifted his eyes to find Kirk watching him, amused.
"It gets easier, Ensign," he said kindly. "Doesn't it, Spock?"
Uhura gave a stifled giggle as Spock raised an eyebrow in mild surprise.
"Well, it does for the rest of us," Kirk told him. "I'll never forget my own first day on the Bridge. I messed up the course change, and had us 28 light years off course before I realised. Boy, did I ever want to die!"
Chekov's jaw sagged in amazement.
"Strange how fallible Humans can be," Spock said, poker-faced. "A pity you didn't train under a Vulcan, Captain, or your own performance might have been as satisfactory as Mr Chekov's."
"Th-thank you, sir."
The eyebrows moved infinitesimally.
"You don't thank him," Kirk translated, "or if you do, it's only for your own satisfaction." He grinned at the Vulcan. "Mr Spock never praises, he only states the case as he sees it."
Chekov caught the teasing tone, and looked from one man to the other. Suddenly the friendliness in the small elevator seemed to gather him in like a pair of warm arms. And he was a part of it, a part of the Enterprise team.
Copyright Meg Wright