Summary: For Kirk, wearing the uniform dress is just a kinky dare, but for some members of the crew, it means a little more
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Original Story: Matched Set by Jain
Notes: many thanks to blcwriter for the very insightful beta
Chekov stands in line in the ship's stores, heart already swelling with pride. This time, the gold command tunics will really be his, not just an emergency loan. He must send a picture to his mother. Seventeen, and already flying the best ship in the fleet! she'd said before he left. She's the only person allowed to ruffle his hair.
He flicks his eyes across the long line waiting ahead of him and imagines making his request: "could you take picture for my mother?" No, they will all laugh. Better to do it himself in the bathroom mirror. He has his own bathroom, actually; it came with his post as the navigator of the best ship in the fleet.
"Five tunics, three trousers, five dresses," Crewman Vaughan intones boredly, handing him package wrapped in clear plastic. Five dresses?! Ni khuya sebe! They know! But how? He's never told, not anyone. Unless maybe graduation night, when he'd pounded back shot after shot of vodka and tiny, sparkling pills with half of the Enterprise's future crew? Shit, shit, shit.
Hands shaking, he stands at the edge of the store room. Who saw him take the skirts? Which is more obvious -- to take them or return them? And how should he return them? Should he be calm and quiet or shout angrily so everyone knows he did not want them and accepted them only by mistake?
"You okay, Chekov?" Sulu asks beside him. "You look a little green."
Shit! Sulu! He'd forgotten they'd come together. Had he seen him take the skirts? Did he think that he'd asked for them?
"Am fine," he snaps reflexively. Does he sound natural? What would Captain Kirk do? That's it! He just needs to figure out what the Captain would do. Everyone knows that James T. Kirk is masculine man who does not wear skirts. Smiling, that's the first step. Kirk would smile at Crewman Vaughan, who has nice blue eyes and long blond curls, and tell her that it's mistake. That mini-skirts would look better on her legs than his, so she should take back the dresses. Yes. That is what the captain would do, so that is what he will do. Maybe not the comment on her legs, though; he is not so charming as Captain Kirk. At least, not yet.
He sidles back toward the line. "Five tunics, three trousers, five dresses," Crewman Vaughan says to the person at the counter. The man at the counter, and the next two men after him. Chekov exhales. It's okay. Nobody knows. They give the same clothes to everyone.
"You sure you're okay?" Sulu asks and this time he can say "da, very good" and mean it.
"They give these dresses to everyone?" he asks.
"Yup. Starfleet non-discrimination regs. No being shall be required to wear clothing specific to either human gender. I use 'em to polish my sword."
"Yeah, me too," he says and feels good when he earns Sulu's laugh. They will be good friends.
Back in his quarters, he shoves the skirts hard into the back of a drawer, where he'll never look at them again. Maybe he could wear them in another life, maybe when he's older, maybe when everyone knows he likes women just as much as men and that he can wear skirts and still want to be a man. But not here, not now, not when James T. Kirk believed in him enough to make the youngest cadet at the academy the navigator of the best ship in the fleet. He has to prove to them all that he's just like them, that he belongs here even though he's 17 and lost Commander Spock's mother in the transporter beam. It's okay to be known as the youngest member of the crew; it means also that they must acknowledge the incredible abilities that brought him here. But if he wears a dress, he will become only that Russian kid who wants to be a girl, and he will not belong.
For two years, he keeps his word: he never looks at the skirts again, though he does open the drawer twice. Once, he drops in a tube of translucent pink lip gloss he'd furtively swiped from the ship's commissary. The second time, he adds a pair of sheer silk stockings that whisper against his skin. "For my girlfriend on Earth," he'd muttered when he bought them on shore leave a week ago. They are not for wearing, of course. Only for looking.
He is sure now that no one knows his secret. He is always careful to pretend to stare at women's legs when actually, he is also examining the cut of their skirts. "Pavel Chekov, secretly a womanizer," they say, and it's true. Cultivating a reputation as the sweetest and most sensitive man on the ship is good for getting laid, but it's good for something else too. His female friends are not the most beautiful women on the ship, but they are the most stylish. When he sits at their mess table, enveloped in conversations about lipstick and mascara, he silently memorizes their best advice.
When the chatter turns to gossip about the end of Uhura's relationship with Spock, he moves to her table to keep her company instead. He does it first because he does not want her to be lonely, and then because he can study the thick, black strokes of liner she paints across her eyelids. People say he has a crush, and he lets them believe it, though sometimes he thinks Uhura knows what he's really looking at when he stares into her eyes. At night, in his private bathroom -- which he has because he is the navigator of the best ship in the fleet -- he imagines himself with pink lip gloss and smoky eyes.
Four years into their mission, two months after the break-up, and two weeks after Kirk and Uhura go public with their relationship, a hush envelopes the bridge when the captain emerges from the turbolift. Chekov tenses and does not look up from the controls; he knows this is the day they have been waiting for. Dreading. The day when Spock can no longer stand the knowledge that the captain has taken his woman. He can picture it now: the Vulcan's left eye twitching faintly in warning, his muscles tensing just a second before he leaps across the bridge and flings Kirk onto the nav panel, trying for a second time to choke the life from the captain's struggling body. This time there is no Sarek to intervene, so he must be prepared to do it himself. The first time, he was young and weak, but this time, he will protect his captain, no matter what the cost to himself.
So deep is his contemplation that he nearly jumps when Sulu leans closer and whispers, "Uhura's kind of hot in the uniform pants, don't you think?"
Trying not to let his relief show, he angles his chair discreetly toward the comm station, but his gaze falters at the pair of bare, muscular legs dangling over the edge of the captain's chair. They are unquestionably a man's legs, but he does not want to stare -- or rather, he doesn't want to be noticed staring -- so he wrenches his eyes back toward his station, then around the bridge. When he is satisfied that everyone is absorbed in their work, he peers toward the combat boots planted firmly on the floor beneath the captain's chair, then follows them up to tanned knees and toned thighs and finally, the hem of a skirt. James T. Kirk, captain of the flagship, lady's man known far and wide, is sitting on the bridge of his ship in a dress. He looks ahead, his gaze as calm and certain as ever. Dress or no, no one doubts this man is in command.
That night, Chekov retrieves a dress from the back of its drawer, unrolls it reverently, and smooths out its creases. With shaking hands, he pulls it on and he savors the breeze against his thighs with every step toward the bathroom mirror. It is shorter than he might have hoped because he has grown taller in the last 4 years, but he does not mind. Later, he can get a longer dress from ship's stores; for now, he is transfixed by the image of his thighs, slender and toned from years of swimming, reflected in the bathroom mirror.
Now only one thing is left. With the blade of his pocketknife, he slashes the seal of the lip gloss he stole two years ago. Slowly, he leans toward the mirror and applies it in a single swipe, smacking his lips together like he has seen so many of his female friends do. Later there will be time for more, but for now he is satisfied. He looks like who he wants to be. He cannot explain why he feels so much more like himself with shiny pink lips and a mini-skirt, and maybe that is why he denied it for so long. It is like loving maths and being optimistic and liking the color green. It is simply who he is, and there is no more to say.
In the morning, he puts on the dress again but pauses at the door, breathing hard. You are brave, Pavel, he tells himself. You have fired phasers on enemy ships. You have stood in the line of fire to protect innocent men and women. You can walk down a corridor in a skirt. And so he does, eyes facing resolutely forward, ready for a challenge. I joined Starfleet to protect freedom and justice in the Federation, he thinks. I will not deny myself the things I have risked my life to secure for others. If you do not like the sight of my bare legs, is your problem. He doesn't have to say it though; no one taunts him any more than they taunt Lieutenant Patil and Ensign Thomas, the the two men who've worn skirts to work for the last 4 years, or any of the half dozen men who try it for the first time today. Starfleet diversity appreciation training is strong. No one reacts at all, except Uhura, who smiles encouragingly as he steps off the lift and the captain, who winks as he walks toward his station. His hands are still shaking, just a little, but when he settles at the controls, openly himself for the first time, he knows he has finally become a man.