A/N – A Kirk character study.
Disclaimer – I don't own Star Trek, any of the canon characters, settings or situations.


Hindsight


Later generations will say many things about James T. Kirk. They will call him a space cowboy, a too-charismatic leader given far too much discretion, only too eager to rush in with all phasers blazing. History books will label him an explorer, an adventurer, a womaniser, a warmonger, a renegade, and an incurable romantic whose wonder and joy in pure discovery saw him become one of the greatest captains Starfleet has ever produced.

Voice recordings of his captain's log – required study material for every command cadet at the Academy – give remarkable insight to his character and his thought process: by turns matter of fact, analytical, introspective, bemused, enthusiastic and wistful, brimming with humour and wonderment that can't disguise the towering self-confidence and ego –

He was a man, with humanity's faults and weaknesses and all their sublime strengths. He had a temper, swift and hot, that he had learned through practice and discipline to control. He was impulsive and sometimes impatient with those who could not follow him. He leapt before he looked, borne up by boundless self-confidence, and most often it carried him through. An unashamed sensualist, he loved women in all their warmth and caprice, but had the restraint to adhere to a strict hands-off policy with his crew. He was courageous and honourable and brimming with iron-willed determination and drive; he was also competitive, ambitious, and when set on his course, bone-deep stubborn. He was far too aware of his own looks and charisma, and had no hesitation in using them to his advantage. He was a man who could lead more than 400 men and women by force of personality alone, who could inspire and motivate them, and then send them to their deaths if it became necessary.

He was a starship captain.

Times and attitudes will change. Diplomats dealing with the aftermath of his more troublesome first contacts will curse his creative diplomacy, and 24th century starship captains will study in detail his many mistakes.

But Kirk cannot be judged by the standards of the 24th century. He was that rarest of creatures: a man perfectly suited to his time and place, embodying Starfleet's mandate of bold exploration. The voyages of the Enterprise under his command were vital to the scientific leaps and bounds and expansion of Federation membership during the 23rd century.

Brimming with practical idealism, filled with the love of adventure for adventure's sake, he blazed a trail into the depths of unknown space far beyond Starfleet's reach, carrying the Federation's hopes and dreams with him.

Let later generations say what they please.