"Mind if I sit down?" The hazel eyes were bright and sincere, the gold braid on the collar and cuffs of the gold shirt daunting. Feeling like a young child suddenly faced with the presence of his hero, Pavel felt awkward yet thrilled.
"Of course, Captain." His accent thickened as he spoke. He pulled his data pads into neater piles so the captain could place his dinner tray on the table. Kirk picked up one of the pads as he idly picked at his dinner -- some odd Andorian concoction which was all the rave. Chekov was more than content to stick with his cabbage rolls and boiled potatoes despite Uhura's and Sulu's best efforts to widen his culinary horizons.
"Working on the computer glitch, I see," Kirk observed, dropping the pad back onto the pile with a clatter.
"Yes, sir." Chekov began stacking the pads. "Mr. Spock was hoping to complete the schematic analysis of the navigation projectors tomorrow."
"Surely Mr. Spock has people in his department to help him run..." Kirk glanced down at the data pads. "...simulations for the navigation projectors." He looked back up at Chekov, holding his gaze. "You don't have to do this in your free time. What do you do for fun?"
"Yes...fun!" The captain grinned, teeth flashing. "You can't be working on equations in all your spare time. Tell me, what do young, available ensigns do for fun these days?"
Chekov stared at the table, fiddling with one of the data pads in embarrassment. Kirk frowned, and Pavel winced internally. The last thing he wanted to do was disappoint the captain. "I...I enjoy working, Captain." He replied softly. But that was the wrong answer. Something akin to pity passed over the captain's face, quickly chased by another emotion, one that Chekov couldn't place.
Kirk slapped his hand palm down on the table. "Tell me Chekov, do you play chess?" At Pavel's mute nod, he stood, sweeping the pads into a pile in his arms, a few tumbling off onto the table. "Well don't just sit there. We've got a game to play! I've got a board in my quarters. Grab those pads!"
Swept away by the captain's enthusiasm, Chekov trailed behind Kirk, feeling much like a lost puppy, nervously clutching the pads to his chest. Kirk looked back over his shoulder as he punched in his access code to his quarters.
"Would you like a nightcap?" he asked, ushering Chekov into the comfortably untidy quarters. Rumpled clothes and various knickknacks were scattered about the spacious room. Kirk hurriedly cleared a space on the couch, a luxury for starship captains. He grinned at Pavel, as he rooted about for the chess board. "As you can see, I'm not the tidiest captain in the world. But I figure that's part of the charm."
Chekov smiled back shyly, and accepted the folded board and the box of chess pieces offered to him.
"You set up the board while I get the drinks and change. Whoever designed these uniforms was either a sadist or a masochist. I can never remember whether they had to wear one or not." He paused as he went to the separate bedroom, another perk of command. "And Pavel? This time you can be white."
Chekov obediently unfolded the smoothly cut board, marvelling at the precisely interlocking wood pieces. He opened the matching box, revealing intricately carved pieces. They were made from genuine wood, and altogether the whole set must have cost a small fortune. He held up a white pawn, carefully detailed down to the uniform that the small figure wore. Chekov stared at the piece, amazed at the details. It even had small features painstakingly crafted on the head, serious and yet serene, frozen for eternity. Rubbing a finger over the smooth wood, he placed the pawn on the board and proceeded to unpack the other figurines.
So engrossed was he in his task of putting out the pieces the haughty rook, the rearing knight, the upright castle, the faithful bishop, the powerful queen, and finally, the regal king that he didn't hear Kirk approach. The soft clink of a glass on the table drew his attention away from the board.
"Here you are." The captain set his own glass on the table, and sat on the couch next to Pavel. "The board was a gift from Spock for my birthday. The wood is from Vulcan, desert preserved. The heat makes it virtually indestructible as wood goes. It's so hard that they have to cut it with specially designed lasers. These pieces were handcrafted by one of Spock's ancestors over two hundred years ago."
'They are exquisite," Chekov murmured, sipping his drink. His eyes widened at the shock of the taste. It was vodka, and not just any vodka. It was the real thing, not the synthetic water that passed for vodka on board. "Uh, thank you, sir!"
"I understand that synthehol just doesn't do your favourite drink justice." There was a twinkle in Kirk's eyes. He raised his tumbler in a toast. "This, Pavel, is what we call fun."
With a quiet laugh, Chekov raised his own glass, admiring the play of light on the clear liquid and crystal. "To fun, sir."
"Now, let's play. I do believe the first move is yours."
It was a dance, move and countermove, planning and recklessness abandon, strategy and cunning. It was with a quiet tick that the captain moved his rook and with a small triumphant smile that he said, "Checkmate."
Chekov sat back in the couch, staring. The move had been totally unexpected! Completely unorthodox...and completely Captain Kirk. "I will remember that move in the future. It is very effective against Dorvan's defensive strategy."
"Ah, now there's the crux of the problem, Pavel. You play too much up here," Kirk touched a finger to his forehead. "And not here." He moved his hand to his chest, right above his heart.
Chekov's own heart did a little skip. Kirk wasn't...he couldn't...but he was. Either the vodka was going to his head, or the captain was suggesting more than just chess strategies. His stomach fluttered under the concentrated attention of Kirk's gaze.
"I...I would very much like to learn," he stammered, feeling his face heat as the blood rose to the surface. That was the right answer apparently, as Kirk's smile widened into a full-blown grin. "But I really must go. I have first shift tomorrow..." he trailed off.
"Excellent! Shall we meet again tomorrow? How about some dinner and another game?" The smile was irresistible, and Chekov nodded. "Wonderful. I look forward to teaching you a thing or two about spontaneity."
Chevok let a small smile grace his face. Tomorrow suddenly looked very, very exciting.