Author Note: My God, it's nice to be writing Trek fanfic again. I missed it. It's probably not the best time to start writing it again, seeing as my very-important-if-you-fail-them-you're-screwed exams are coming up in two weeks, but whoever cared about such trivial things? :-) Anyway, hope you enjoy

Pairings: Implied Spock/Kirk, Bones/Uhura, Chekov/Sulu

Summary: In space, it can be lonely without company but bonds of friendship are made in that five-year mission that would last for all time. Sp/K, B/U, C/Su

Only The Trying

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born"

Anais Nin.

"For us, there is only the trying.

The rest is not our business"

T. S. Eliot

He was their leader, the man they all looked towards to have the answers, to tell them what to do, but at times it was hard. Leadership and the very essentials of the role of captaincy, the strength and determination it involved ,seemed more akin to fatherhood than a simple job one could take upon themselves. There was no rulebook for this , no guidelines he could follow. He judged his actions though instinct and common sense, and if he fell and failed, it would not be just him who suffered, but his crew, his family. There was a part of him that worried ceaselessly whenever a member of his crew went ashore, to an environment where they were out of his direct reach, and that part of him never left as the time went by.

It was a burden he had not been ready for, but he wondered whether someone could ever be ready for something like this. It was a weight upon his shoulders he took gratefully, for protecting these men, guiding them and helping them, was what he knew he was born to do. His blood sang in the starlight, his mind hummed in contentment along to the gentle hum of the engines. The Enterprise was his, and he would guide her with adventure in his heart and a cocky smile on his face. Even with the knowledge of responsibility resting upon his head, the lives of the men under his command that were at risk every day, he knew he would not be allowed to burden himself alone. He had his closest friends by his side, his allies that seemed at times walking embodiments of his conscience. His doctor, with his gruff demeanour that hid a heart warm and caring, passionate to the last and loyal to the teeth, and his first officer, the Vulcan for whom logic never failed to grant an answer, who never failed to find an insight which Kirk had not seen, simply because he hadn't been looking for it.

He would be lying if he said that he was not scared about taking on the captaincy of the Enterprise. It was what he wanted, what he had driving towards most of his life without even knowing it, but he was still unsure of whether he could cope with the role that he had shouldered. These men were space-ready before he even took command, and he knew what they were capable of- the incident with Nero had shown him the potential even they hadn't known they possessed-, but they were as new at this as he was, unused to the dangers of space and the part they played in it, and it was up to him to watch them, nurture them gently like a botanist does with the smallest of saplings into the officers and people they were destined to become, when he had barely sprouted himself. The road for him was rough and bumpy as it was for all of them, and he often fell along the way, tripped over his own feet in his rush for progress, or made mistakes he shouldn't have done, but he was forgiven just as quickly by his crew because they all made mistakes and they all knew how it felt. They knew James Kirk wasn't infallible.

It reached a point where they all seemed like a real family. He knew their quirks and facets, where they had weakness and where he could try and help. His strand in Fate's loom had twisted with theirs so strongly now, that he knew he would be inconceivably tied to them whatever happened. He watched as a concerned overseer as his first officer and his linguist, his closest friend and sister in everything other than blood, morphed from being lovers to being tightly bound friends. There was no animosity, but he watched anyway, making sure neither would stumble as a consequence, because if one of them fell the whole foundation he had managed to build in the near-year long period they had been in space would be shaken, weakened. And he could not hope to withstand it, not with his strength of captaincy only yet in its infancy.

A year merged into eighteen months among the stars and he watched as his crew blossomed. He saw with a smile in his eyes as his helm officers clumsily faltered into admitting their affections; his blue-eyed navigator- no longer a baby, but still the youngest one they all looked out for- blushing furiously as he stuttered out an offer for dinner and a movie, and his helmsman's face grinning, with relief and adoring affection in his expression, as he connected his hand to that of the other mans while whispering a gentle yes that changed his navigators panicked mumbles into a smile that makes their days all a little brighter after that.

There are juts in the path as they travel along it, and there are times when it feels like he can't cope with it all. When they move into uncharted territory that proves just too dangerous, his ship nearly rendered into scrap metal from offensive blinding shots, half his crew injured in some way- cuts and bruises and burns that he should have been able to prevent, should have been able to stop-, with his doctor run ragged from the worry and the panic, and he is just so scared that this has all been on account of him, that he had done something wrong that they're all now paying for. But the look in the eyes of his crew is not that of blame, but that of respect and attention, awaiting his orders, and it's about that point he realises they'd die for him, for this ship and he for them, and the hand of a Vulcan steady on his shoulder is enough to give him strength to carry on though the carnage.

The years move on and seasons change and he watches himself and his crew- no longer separate entities but part of the same gestalt, a linked mindset that connects them all in bonds of friendship -and in some cases some emotion even more potent- grow from strength to strength. He watches his doctor, with his hard exterior and prickly manner get the wall of his heart worn down by a women who just to seem to have a way with words, and he sees them tentatively trying to make it work, feeling like a proud brother and proud friend all rolled into one . More time goes by, and he's leading the union of the two officers he knew were destined to get to this point, still just as nervous in their yellow dress-uniforms- with Chekov going pink but smiling when Sulu says I do- but still just as in love even after nearly three years being together, living together and loving together. And even in the midst of all this happiness, he finds himself feelings almost sad, because their five-year mission will one day end, and they wont have this again. This camaraderie won't exist, this closeness will be separated. They'll draft in new people from the Academy- recruits that think they know everything like they once did, before they see the vastness of space-really see it- and realise that they know very little at all- and some of his crew will move on, transfer to other ships or move back home to start families with their loved ones. There'll be a new Bones one day, a new Uhura, a new Scotty. He can't keep his family by him forever, and one day they will move on out towards other parts of the stars. He knows it'll happen. Maybe one day there'll be another Kirk, new Kirk commanding the Enterprise, a Kirk that isn't him, who doesn't know his crew, who doesn't realise that they've all gone through hell and back together and have come out stronger. But that's just the chance he takes, and he has no ideas about giving the Enterprise up. Not for the moment.

But there are a few more surprises in store for him yet. His linguist announces quietly to him on a night when they're just enjoying each others company- they've long past any animosity towards the other, even if Kirk can be an insufferable prat sometimes-, that she is expecting a nice surprise that none of them were suspecting, not at least the solid figure of the doctor, who gets a disbelieving look of happiness on his face when she tell him the news with tears of joy in her eyes. Kirk knows without having to ask when the man tells him of it later that he was thinking of a life he had had before when she told him, of loves he had had before, and lights of his life that exist still now, his little girl Joanna who is eternally five years old in his mind with a red petticoat dress and a teddy bear held tightly in one arm. He thinks of her, of course, but the doctor also thinks of the child he is now going to have with a woman that he loves, the child that's growing in her womb, strong and healthy and theirs. But the doctor- called Bones to Kirk after a comment he once made in a shuttlecraft- doesn't think of the life he had before as he gets down on one knee, doesn't think of Jocelyn and the betrayal that even now hurts but lightly- like a pin prick-, as he asks the questions that's been hanging round his head for a while, and he whispers happily in her ear when she accepts him, that he wants to do this the right way, the honourable way, and he promises her he'll be with her always, he'll love her always , as she holds him close and tells him that she loves him with the language of her lips against his.

That is never the end though, not for the Captain of the Enterprise, because even though love has been in his vision on the ship all the time he has been in command, he has never yet seen the love right in front of him until it encompasses his heart completely. It just happens, like the natural orbit of planets and the life cycle of stars, and in the eyes of his first officer, his friend, his confidante, his everything, he goes from being Captain to Jim to T'hy'la, without him even noticing. When he finally notices, he sees its been there all the time and that its just been him that has been so blind to it, so much so that when he finally impulsively grabs Spocks hand in what he knows is a Vulcan version of a sudden passionate kiss, his First Officer looks at him with a smirk on those infuriating lips, and says "I believe the phrase you humans use is, what took you so long?" before Kirk silences his words with a proper human kiss that keeps his insufferable partner quiet for a while.

The crew of the Enterprise all fit together like a perfectly made jigsaw, with their interconnecting lines and slots where they all join into each other's lives. The Captain has become more than a leader; he's become their friend, and they his, and bonds have been made that would take lifetimes and eons to fade even slightly.

And when their five year mission comes to an end, it makes Jim Kirk smile when a few months after they get back to Earth for some well deserved long-term shore leave he sees the sign up sheet for the Enterprise's next five year mission, and he sees that the names of his family, his crew, have already been written up without hesitation neatly at the top.

And he thinks to himself how lucky he is to have them all.