Title: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Warnings: none
Category: Friendship/Humor
Keywords: Pavel Chekov, Hikaru Sulu, others, OC
Summary: So he plays the violin, what difference does that make? 772 words.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
Notes: Ficlet #2 for Sarajm, who wanted a concert on the Enterprise, Sulu and Chekov, with a French horn and violin. Special thanks to Lyl, who told me how this prompt should go, and also when to stop, heh. Also, thanks to Lanaroolz at Fanfiction.net, who said, 'squawking geese' wasn't exactly the right way to refer Sulu's efforts; she said I could use a different term, so I appropriated it with her permission.

Not so much a secret, but more of a hidden talent, is how he tries to explain it. No one ever asked. So he plays the violin, what difference does that make?

It makes a difference, he's informed, when Ensign Markel plays the piano. And, Sulu has long harbored the desire to learn to play the French horn.

"The proper terminology for that musical instrument is simply the horn," Spock is heard to say from the back of the bridge, bent over the science station and peering into the scope.

Captain Kirk turns in his seat to look at Spock, while Sulu and Chekov give each other amused looks. When it seems evident that was all the contribution Spock was going to make to the conversation, he turns back. "So, Sulu," he says, "maybe you should form a trio with Ensigns Markel and Chekov. I'm sure you'd liven our evenings a little."

Chekov privately wonders what he's gotten himself into.

What he's gotten himself into, it turns out, is anything but pleasant. Sulu throws himself into learning the horn with all the relish of a madman, and drags Chekov into listening to him practice.

His efforts sound like a flatulent elephant. Several times, Chekov exits Sulu's quarters only to find crewmen walking past, fingers stuck in their ears, which they quickly take out when they notice he's seen them. He doesn't blame them.

One evening he exits to find Uhura hovering in the corridor, with a suppressed smile lurking on her lips. Chekov is sure she's just finding humor in the situation.

"How goes your practicing?" she asks.

In answer, Chekov turns to the wall and thumps his head against it.

"It's not that bad, Pavel."

"It is," he answers, without stopping, "it is that bad."

"It will be fine, honey. Just you wait and see." She pats his back and moves on.

Chekov has his doubts.

Although, sometime after the second month, there's improvement. He's able to play his violin without pausing or slowing the tempo and...amazingly, they are playing together.

Sulu smiles broadly when they're finished. He leans forward, voice pitched to a conspiratorial whisper, and says, "This is going better than you expected. Admit it."

"All right," Chekov says, "it is."

Eva Markel takes one listen to them both, an expression on her face that's purposefully blank, even though Chekov can see the muscles on her neck tighten every time he or Sulu hits a raw note, and says, "No. Not for another four months."

"We are not that horrible," says Sulu.

"Well, you're not that skilled, either. You want to have a concert," she points at them, and then herself, "I want to make sure you don't fall flat on your faces. Talk to me in three months. Maybe then we can practice together."

So, Chekov finds his evenings tied up for the next three months. Learning to play with someone, is something he's always wanted to do. And, he considers, he's spent his time in worse ways. He also needs the practice, in any case.

The next time Markel listens to them, she nods, still with that expression as if she's smelling vinegar, but, Chekov thinks, maybe that's just her natural expression. She nods, and gives them a tight-lipped smile. "You'll do. Let's practice."

So they practice, and they practice, and Markel eventually gives them a genuine smile. They feel very proud that day.

Pride that falls like an egg, messy and irretrievable, when they invite friends to listen to them play. Most can't meet their eyes, and politely decline.

"Maybe we shouldn't do this," Chekov says.

Sulu is less perturbed. "They haven't been listening to our practices. We're better than they think we are."

Markel just rolls her eyes, adjusts her sheet music, and says, "Again."

They go forward with their concert, playing the third movement of Brahms's Trio in E flat major, Opus 40. Only Uhura, Scotty, and a few others show up. At the end they get a smattering of applause, but Uhura is the one who says, "You've made progress."

"Have we?" Chekov asks, pessimistic, yet hopeful.

"Don't sound so sad. We didn't leave, did we?"

He was so busy making sure he was hitting the right notes that he hadn't noticed. "You're right," he says.

And then Sulu comes up to him afterward, as well, and says, "I'd call that a success, wouldn't you?" Chekov can't help but agree.

Sometimes, he worries too much. So, he tells himself to just enjoy the journey--after all, he's a navigator, isn't that what he's supposed to do? He's no stranger to practice, after all.


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