STAR TREK: COURSE CORRECTIONS, PART 4
McCoy was halfway to Chekov's quarters when he realized he left his brandy and glasses in Scotty's office. Truth be told, Scotty would probably bring it by sickbay, since he was more of a scotch man, so that was not the issue. The problem, McCoy realized, was that he was now missing his excuse for stopping by the young Ensign's living space. Liquor made a great social lubricant. Let's have a drink, was a great way to get a foot in the door. Once there, it loosened up the patient and opened the flood gates to the problem. Sure it was sneaky, but it worked on most of the crew. Only on the recovering alcoholics, tee-totalers and a certain stubborn Vulcan were his methods lost.
McCoy rang the chime and the door slid away to reveal Chekov's roommate Ensign Drake. Drake was an older officer in spite of his junior rank. Starfleet was not Drake's first career. He started out in private security and was in this thirties before he went to the Academy. Roommates were carefully chosen by Starfleet analysts. They probably figured Drake's age and security experience would balance out with Chekov's youth and abundance of education in the sciences and engineering.
"Hey, Ensign, I was in the neighborhood and thought I would check in on Pavel," McCoy said.
"Sure Doc, I'll get out of your way so you all can chat," Drake replied.
As he passed he whispered, "Maybe you'll have better luck than me."
Although McCoy didn't know him well, he did know him well enough to get a sense that Drake was decent man. They had only been on a few landing parties together, and beside his quarterly check-ups, the only other time they had spent any time together was when Drake did a brief stint in Sickbay to brush up on emergency triage. The memory made McCoy wince inwardly. That was around the time Doctor Sevrin's cult took control of the Enterprise, McCoy thought. Boy, would I like to forget that debacle.
"Something wrong, Doctor McCoy?"
The young ensign's voice broke McCoy's reverie.
"Everything is fine Pavel," McCoy said trying to sound casual.
"How is Ensign Perez?"
"Stable. Christine and Doctor M'Benga are keeping a close eye on him," McCoy said.
The ensign seemed to relax a little. McCoy looked around. The double quarters were painfully cramped. He silently vowed never to complain about the size of his living area ever again. He knew some of the other ensigns like Garrovick and Lemli opted out of the claustrophobic housing by participating in "hot cotting." They got a single living area like the senior officers but shared it with another. Their schedules were always opposite so one would be on duty while their roommate slept. I'd rather be cramped than share my bed, McCoy thought. It was another reason to hate the military mentality. Give the crew room for a bowling alley and a theater but some of the bottom rung officer's don't even get their own bed.
Chekov screwed up his face with confusion.
"I'm sorry, Chekov, I don't make many house calls and sometimes I forget how cramped it can be for junior officers," McCoy said.
"You get used to it," Chekov shrugged.
Chekov eyed the doctor and McCoy decided truth would be the best remedy for the situation.
"I'm not going to lie to Pavel. I just spoke with Commander Scott, and he feels you are unnecessarily blaming yourself for what happened to Takahashi and Perez," McCoy said.
Chekov's cheeks flushed slightly and he turned away. McCoy wanted spin to him around and shake him. He wanted to scream the multitude of ways it was not the young ensign's fault. Instead, he waited. He has to want to talk, he thought. I can't force it out of him.
Chekov turned back around slowly.
"I blame myself because it vas my fault."
"Now, Pavel..." McCoy began but was silenced by the ensign holding out his hand.
Chekov took a breath, and it all seemed to tumble from him at once.
"I vas distracted. I vas looking at my tri-corder readings vhen the Klingons beamed aboard. I vas trying to get some additional readings that might help Meester Scott. I vas caught completely unavares. The Klingons started firing and Takahashi jumped in front the disrupter blast meant for me. She should have been looking after Keptin Kirk. Instead she died because I vas too concerned with impressing my superiors by doing something I vas not asked to do."
Chekov took a breath and continued before McCoy could say anything.
"Perez is my fault too. I realized the Vendresi used a particular frequency for their defensive systems. I relayed the information to Meester Scott while the keptin and Perez vere trying to hold off the Klingons."
"And..." McCoy prompted.
"It vorked. But the Vendresi defensive measures included a suppression system that dampens energy veapons," Chekov explained.
"Your phasers and the Klingon disrupters stopped working," McCoy confirmed.
"Exactly, then the Klingons pulled out bladed veapons. It's the tventy third century, who carries a sword when you have varp drive and energy veapons?"
"And one of the Klingons stabbed Perez," McCoy said, filling in the blank.
"They didn't just stab him in battle; he was protecting me. I vas not fighting because I was trying to change the frequency with my tri-corder so we could use our phasers."
McCoy let the confession hang there for a moment then decided on some tough love.
"In other words they did their jobs, and now you feel bad."
Chekov's jaw dropped.
"Look son, I'm not going to sugar coat it," McCoy began, "Exploring space is a dangerous job. You know it. I know it. Takahashi and Perez knew it, because, let's face it, no one in the fleet knows it better than the brave men and women who serve in security. They know at any minute they will have to lay down their life for the captain, or me or some other science or engineering specialist. You are one of the latter. When Spock recommended you be assigned to the bridge so he could work with you in the sciences, Scotty threw a fit. He said you were one of the most promising engineers to come out of the academy. Spock said, and mind you this is Spock, very few live up to his expectations. Spock said you were one of the most promising scientists to come out of the academy. Captain Kirk granted Spock's request but modified it. He made you our primary navigator. We hadn't had a regular navigator since before I came on board and from what I understand Commander Mitchell was one of the captain's best friends. He put you there not because Scotty saw you as a potential engineer or Spock saw you as a scientist. He put you there because he saw you as a future Starfleet captain. You are a Starfleet asset. All the command staff see it, and I suspect Takahashi and Perez saw it as well, that's why they did their job to do what was needed for the good of Starfleet."
Chekov's eyes were red. He was on the verge of tears.
"I hope they are not disappointed with me when I let them know."
"Let them know what, Ensign? You're not going to do anything foolish like leave Starfleet are you Pavel?"
"No, Doctor," Chekov replied, "I have decided that in true navigator fashion, I am going to make a course correction in my Starfleet career."
"A coarse correction?" McCoy repeated, not liking the implications.
"Aye, if you recall I took some time off from my bridge duties earlier this year to do some security vork," Chekov said.
"Yea, I remember, the captain thought it would continue to make you a well rounded officer, and give Mr. Arex more time at navigation." McCoy replied, unsure where the young officer was taking things.
"When we get back to Earth, I am going to go back to the Academy and pick-up some classes in security," Chekov said.
"Security work is the most dangerous in the fleet, and a waste of your talent," McCoy said.
"I disagree, I feel all my other vork vould make me a superior security and tactical officer," Chekov said.
"Pavel, don't let one incident derail your career," McCoy said.
"Did you have a moment, vhen you realized you wanted to be a doctor?"
"Well, yes but that was different..."
"Well, it just was. You saw something horrific. It's bound to spin you around."
"I realized, that I wanted to be the one protecting Takahashi, Perez and the Keptin. It was a moment of clarity. I realized more than science or engineering or command, I wanted to protect my fellow crewman."
McCoy started to protest but saw the look in the younger man's eyes and relented.
"Just promise me one thing, Pavel," McCoy asked, "You have several months before we get back to Earth. Think long and hard before you commit to anything."
"I have made up my mind, Doctor but I promise, I will spend considerable time thinking about it before we get home."
McCoy was too tired to fight Chekov, so he promised himself he would revisit the issue in a few weeks, and hope that a cooler head would prevail.