Most of the recordings on the device were spread out over the course of a years' time traveling on the Enterprise. Some of the entries were humorous and carefree, whereas others were tainted with Jim's stress and inner turmoil of the experiences he would portray into the personal recorder. On occasion Jim would talk about the women he had been with or was currently infatuated with, none of them ever being painted in clear description or, thankfully, going into too much detail. On rare occasions he would express his delights of following in his father's footsteps and making a name of himself. It was on even rarer occasions that he would mention anything about Spock, which was to no immediate surprise as their first year as Captain and First Officer was best described as 'by the book'.
Spock had spent two days listening through the recordings, coming back to his living quarters in the evenings after his meetings and immediately delving into the voice of his previous Captain. The more he listened to the memories the less humanly guilt he felt about it, seeing that there was hardly any harm in hearing 'secrets' that the half-Vulcan already knew of. Spock could pinpoint back to every single day that Jim had recorded, reliving the memory like it had occurred yesterday, patching every detail into his mind. It was almost as if the recording device was his own, being as every situation described was one that he had been inevitably involved in, standing right at Jim's side. In the first year of Jim being the Enterprise Captain and Spock being the First Officer things were as they should have always been; professional. Spock had been listening to the recordings of the first year so intently that he had, on occasion, forgotten what would eventually unfold, just as Jim had been unaware as he made the recordings.
On the third evening of listening, however, Spock's complacent attitude towards the recordings began to shift. It was on this night, as he sat in the same spot on the comfortable couch as he had every night prior, that he listened to Jim's personal take on the day that things began to change. It was the first day that Jim began to realize that he cared for Spock more than just as his First Officer, and more than just in a professional manner.
"James Kirk's personal log, stardate twenty-two fifty-nine point one zero two …"
Kirk staggered down off of the transporter pad, his right cheek gushing blood down to his jaw line, clenching his teeth as he pulled Spock's limp, frozen body closer to his. The First Officer had his arm loosely looped around the Enterprise Captain's neck, hanging like a rag-doll covered in snow, ice, and blood, barely able to zone in and out of consciousness. It was an awful sight. Though Spock said nothing and made no attempts of showing pain, Kirk knew the half-Vulcan was in agony from the way his dark eyes narrowed into a squint every time he was forced to adjust his weight.
The blue-eyed captain wasn't entirely sure what had happened; one minute he was trekking his way across the frozen surface of Andoria with Spock in silent tow, the next they were being fired upon by a group of angry Andorians. Spock had fallen to his knees so suddenly that Kirk's only sense of conscious immediately sprang into action as he grabbed hold of the half-Vulcan's arm and drug him over the side of a cliff. In hindsight, that may not have been the best plan, though the long tumble down the snowy descend had given them a large enough gap between themselves and the Andorians that Kirk was able to contact Scotty.
"Good God, what happened?" McCoy stammered, rushing into the transporter room and taking Spock from Kirk's frozen grip. The ice that had gathered on both of their clothes and bodies was melting away, leaving the duo soaking and freezing.
Kirk began to stammer through clattering teeth, his crystal-blue eyes never leaving Spock's face as the half-Vulcan was lowered gently into a wheelchair. "He was shot – it was an ambush, it was completely my fault – "
"Yeah, yeah, pity story later," McCoy spoke over the young captain, ushering his medical assistants out of the room with the wheelchair, "I'm taking him to medical; you're needed on the bridge."
Kirk shook his head and blinked a few times, confused as McCoy began to disappear down the hallway with Spock.
"Maybe I should come with?" He called after him, wishing that all of the rushing would stop so that he could gather his thoughts. In that moment, all he wanted was to follow McCoy into the medical bay and make sure that Spock would be alright. Sure, in most cases the half-Vulcan would live through a simple shot to the leg, but Kirk hadn't had enough time to assess any further injuries he had caused from the painful tumble down the side of the snowy mountain. This whole mess was entirely his fault, if he had only heeded Spock's warning…
"Maybe you should – I don't know – Captain the ship?" McCoy barked back over his shoulder in reply.
Kirk cursed beneath his breath in frustration and spun around, rushing down the hallway in the direction of the bridge. He would have all but forgotten the gash on his cheek if it hadn't been for the blood trickling down his jaw and beginning to drip onto the front of his soaked, yellow shirt. Too distracted by his own thoughts to care otherwise, Kirk wiped the back of his sleeve against the side of his face and smeared away the blood before passing through the bridge doors.
When he entered the bridge all eyes from the crew fell upon him as they usually did, awaiting instruction. This was not the first time they had encountered a problem in the form of an attack but it was certainly the first time that Kirk was seemingly so affected by it. As he walked hurriedly across the floor, heading for the front of the large room full of crew members and beeping computer modules, Kirk clenched and released his jaw in irritation. His aim was to instruct the crew to the best of his abilities in his jarred state of mind, then return to the medical bay as quickly as possible.
Scotty was quick at his heels, more than prepared to have a full-blown conversation. "Who attacked you?"
"A group of Andorians." Kirk replied stiffly, stopping at the front of the room beside Sulu and turning to address the sea of faces that clung to his every word. He should have elaborated further on what had happened, but his mind had suddenly shifted elsewhere and all he could see was Spock falling to his knees on the snowy ground and clutching painfully at his thigh…
"Andorians?" Uhura repeated, snapping Kirk back into reality, her voice heavy with confusion. "They are peaceful with the Federation and Star Fleet."
"Well, they peacefully shot Spock." Kirk snapped, watching the attractive Communication Officer's dark brown eyes haze over in disbelief. At one point, less than a year prior to the date, Uhura and Spock had had what Kirk liked to lovingly refer to as a 'fling' – though they had undoubtedly shared something more intimate than he had ever experienced. Either way, their relationship was long over now, and this became even more apparent as she didn't immediately weaken at the knees or allow any type of worry-swept expression take over her narrow face. Internally, for reasons not yet apparent to him, her reaction pleased Kirk to see. He wondered if she would be more concerned for Spock – like he was – if she had seen the blood pouring out of his thigh and had experienced the heart-wrenching spring of fear that had flown through the Enterprise Captain.
"Keptin, I had heard rumors about ze recent outburst of Andorian outcasts who despise ze Federation and zeir home planet's inwolvement." Chekov's accent lured Kirk into a maze of deciphering what had been spoken, and after a few moments of silence the Captain emerged from the other end with understanding and frowned.
"It's not just rumors anymore." Kirk decided firmly, turning his attention to the helmsman. "We need to speak to the planet's leaders."
Sulu's mouth opened briefly and hung with a loss of words before he gathered himself and shook his head in disappointment. "We attempted to hail the Andorian leaders, but we haven't been able to make any kind of contact."
Kirk brushed his tongue over his front row of teeth and turned to stare out through the giant glass window at the front of the bridge, fully aware of how cold he was becoming. The planet of Andoria sat motionless off in the far distance, its blue surface full of frozen promise, giving off the fake impression of peace. If he had the chance to re-do this entire day over again he would have leapt at the opportunity to do so, hopefully being able to avoid all of the damage the second time around. How could he have let that happen to Spock? If he had just listened to the half-Vulcan and avoided the direct route through the open planes none of this would have happened. Kirk narrowed his blue eyes and in doing so moved his injured cheek in a way that caused a sudden, stinging pain to spring upward.
"It's a planet-wide war that we walked right into the middle of." He finally said, turning back to face the silent crew. "We came here as a favor to Pike, not to get involved in a planetary battle. Contact Star Fleet and inform them of what is happening on Andoria, then request orders on whether or not we take action." With that clearly stated the crew immediately sprang into action and turned their attention back onto their jobs.
Satisfied that his mission was completed, Kirk glanced down at his blood-adorned, wet shirt and began to make his way hastily toward the door.
Uhura called after him, half-jogging a few steps towards him. "Where are you going?"
Not missing a beat, the Enterprise Captain turned his head to the side and pointed a long finger towards the gash in his cheek. "To get patched up."
Kirk made his way towards the medical bay as quickly as possible without drawing any immediate attention to himself in hopes to avoid people stopping and asking him if something was wrong. Being the captain of a ship he was always under close observation by the many crew members who respected and worked beneath him, which was sometimes a great feeling and other times a burden. He was hardly allowed any time to himself, alone, and it was rare if an action of his went unnoticed. Thankfully he had maintained the reputation as a 'lover of women' at a very young age, so it was to no immediate shock to anyone when the latest 'lady of the evening' stalked lazily from his bedroom in the mornings – though if he were to ever have an actual relationship with a woman it would no-doubt be the buzz of the Enterprise, which he did not want. Fortunately for Kirk, he had yet to meet a woman that he longed to spend more than an evening or two with. In honesty, he had yet to meet a woman that he would drop anything for, no matter how important. He had yet to meet a woman that distracted his every thought, held his most intimate concerns, made him feel anything other than lust, or drove him wildly mad with love.
Rounding the final corner to the medical bay, Kirk darted his body quickly back behind a wall as he spotted McCoy slowly exiting the bay. That was the last thing he needed; a lecture from Bones. If only Bones understood how difficult it was going to be for the young Captain to focus on anything until he had spoken to and seen Spock.
But of course Bones wouldn't understand it – Kirk didn't even understand it.
When McCoy had safely disappeared from view, Kirk darted back into the hallway and expertly bent in and out of the medical crew on his way towards the bay. Upon his arrival it didn't take long for him to spot Spock, lying on a bed at the back of the room with some kind of giant wrap engulfing his right thigh, luckily removed from his wet, cold clothes. The sight of the half-Vulcan sent a mixture of relief and panic through Kirk's body. Thank God he's alright – is he pissed? Kirk found himself wishing that Spock was an easier target to read; though his ever-stoic expression left little room for an insight into what the half-Vulcan was thinking.
Wetting his lips, glancing momentarily down at the wounded area, Kirk stopped at the foot of Spock's bed and was surprised to see the First Officer's soft expression upon seeing him. "Have they drugged you up?" He asked casually, already well-aware of the response he was about to receive.
"Pharmaceutical remedies are not necessary." Spock said softly, wincing slightly as he adjusted himself on the bed.
"You're in pain." Kirk pointed out, aiming for sympathy. "That's my fault."
Spock raised a narrow, dark eyebrow and folded his hands softly within his lap. The Enterprise Captain gnawed on the inside of his cheek as he stared at Spock's eyebrow – there was something about the way he did that that just…
The silence that ensued was enough to make Kirk squirm, though he resisted. After a few long moments, Spock finally spoke just above a whisper, "Psychologically, you are always inflicting pain upon me."
Kirk stared blankly for a while before slowly allowing a smile to creep up over his pale lips. Well, the Enterprise First Officer certainly wasn't upset. Relaxing his shoulders that he had been unaware of holding so tightly, Kirk exhaled in relief and allowed a short chuckle to tumble past his mouth. "Oh, he has jokes!"
The corner of Spock's lips flicked up into a small smile before dropping down into their famous expressionless nature. "What course of action will be taken now that we are aware of Andoria's dispute?"
"I'd hardly call it a 'dispute'." Kirk shifted his weight from one foot onto the other, finding himself mildly flustered by the nonchalant way Spock referred to his near-death experience as a 'dispute'. "They shot you. They are way past the level of 'dispute'."
"Perhaps." Spock acknowledged, quirking his head slightly to the side and allowing his dark eyes to catch hold of Kirk's bright blue gaze. "And yet you still fail to answer my inquiry."
Kirk ran a hand through his golden hair and pursed his lips. "I had Chekov contact Star Fleet. We are awaiting orders."
"The Enterprise navigator is contacting Star Fleet." Spock re-stated, quirking his eyebrow once again and making Kirk surprisingly uncomfortable by the gesture. He must not have been in as much pain as Kirk had thought, being as he was making jokes one moment and then being irritatingly observant the next. "The Enterprise Captain should be contacting Star Fleet with information this essential."
"Chekov will do fine." Kirk reassured firmly, hooking his finger along the collar of his wet shirt and tugging at the clinging fabric uselessly. "I had to see that you were alright."
"It is mandatory that a Captain assess and instruct all current situations th-"
"Damnit, Spock, are you going to lecture me? I'm trying to apologize for your leg!" Kirk snapped, interrupting the half-Vulcan and throwing his hands wildly about him for emphasis. "I know my duties! I have to deal with the important problems concerning the Enterprise and the Federation before any personal problems – I know."
Kirk's remarkably unnecessary raise in volume caught the attention of several members of the medical crew, who stopped what they were doing to stare in both curiosity and concern. Dropping his arms, smiling to each individual face that stared, Kirk made his way around the foot of the bed to Spock's left side, pulling a nearby chair forward to sit upon. Spock watched, still and silent, obviously put-out by Kirk's current captaining decision.
Lowering his voice considerably, Kirk leaned forward in his chair so that his face was hovering over Spock's left arm. "Look Spock, I can't think straight until I apologize to you. You were right; we shouldn't have pushed our luck back there. I shouldn't have done what I did."
Spock narrowed his eyes and glanced down at his white hands, contemplating something very deeply. "If … you are concerned that my intentions are to report your misjudgments to Star Fleet, you need not worry."
Kirk slowly shook his head back and forth, amazed that that conclusion for an explanation had occurred in his First Officer's mind. "You have every right to report me. I put you in danger by blatantly ignoring everything that I have been trained to do." Kirk's hand then slipped up and clasped onto Spock's forearm, squeezing softly to draw the half-Vulcan's attention. The First Officer turned his face in response, briefly glancing down at Kirk's hand, then flicking his eyes up to meet his Captain's. "But I know you won't. I came here to check on my friend and to tell him I'm sorry, not to plead with him."
As the word 'friend' fell from his mouth, Kirk could see Spock's expression soften incredibly in what could only be described as disbelief. It was the first time that he had referred to the half-Vulcan as anything other than a First Officer, and it was the first time that Kirk began to believe that he could confide in and trust another man the way he did with Leonard McCoy.
They were once again engulfed in silence, Kirk's hand still remaining softly upon Spock's forearm, basking in the strange comfort that emitted from each other's company.
"Jim! What are you doing here?!"
Kirk jumped up from his chair so quickly that it fell backwards with a loud 'CLACK' against the hard, slick floor. Heart racing a thousand miles an hour, the Enterprise Captain twisted his cold body towards the direction of Bones' voice, folding his arms across the yellow fabric at his chest and smiling wide. "Looking for you! I may die." He frowned, gesturing towards the gash on his cheek.
McCoy crossed the floor with remarkable speed eyeing the Captain with growing annoyance. When he had successfully closed the gap between them, McCoy grabbed Kirk aggressively by the jaw and wrenched his face back and forth with little to no mercy as he examined the wound, then grunted, "It's a paper cut. You'll live. Get back to the bridge."
As McCoy released his jaw, Kirk took a wide step backwards and flicked his eyes back and forth from Spock, to McCoy, then back to Spock. "What is it with you two? I'm sorry – who's the Captain here? I can't seem to remember…" He playfully reached a hand up to his ear, as if listening for a reply from a distant voice, then dropped his hand and hooked his thumb into his chest. "Oh! Me!"
And with that, the young Enterprise Captain squared his shoulders back and walked briskly towards the door of the medical bay. Kirk had barely crossed over the threshold into the hallway when he heard McCoy's voice inquiring irritatingly to Spock.
"What are you so amused about?"