Chapter One:

It wasn't as though he cared.

No. It most certainly wasn't that. Sure they'd managed a compatible basis of something akin to friendship over his first few weeks as captain. Mainly. But caring would imply feeling, and feeling anything in regards to that obnoxious, sarcastic, pig-headed excuse for a human was beyond Spock. No, no, no. It wasn't as though he cared. It was something else. Something much more logical. But then why was it that every time James T. Kirk was around he found it hard to concentrate? Found it hard to be anything less than annoyed or frustrated or confused? Even when the man wasn't being his usual infuriating self, but rather his playful and intelligent, surprisingly kind self, Spock found it hard to calculate a proper reaction. Any reaction. It was as though this man, Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, brought out the human in Spock.

And that simply wasn't permissible.

"Bones!" Kirk's voice brought Spock out of the closest thing to a mental tirade his upbringing would allow. He turned his head just enough to watch the Captain saunter onto the bridge, the epitome of brashness and near criminal enthusiasm. From his station, Spock could see him approach Dr. Leonard McCoy out of the corner of his eye, Kirk slapping him hard on the back. "Got your game face on?"

"Damnit, Jim," McCoy groaned, rolling his eyes, his use of the phrase certainly predictable of his character. Why humans were so repetitively set in their individual expressions was always a perplexity to Spock. "This is a rescue mission, not a football game."

"Your point?" Kirk grinned, sitting himself down in the Captain's chair like it had belonged to him for years, not months.

"Don't you think you should be taking this a little more seriously, Captain?" McCoy sighed, emphasizing the title like a reminder. A warning.

Kirk crossed his arms, astute, raising an eyebrow in mock seriousness. "Demanding the best of my crew on a mission IS taking things seriously, Bones." He said almost sarcastically.

Spock closed his eyes. He didn't regret his decision to remain aboard the Enterprise, nor the offer he'd made to stand on as Kirk's First Officer. It may not have been the simplest of choices, but it had been the most rational; his future self had most certainly made him aware of that much, at least. But that didn't make the whole ordeal any less tedious. Any less agitating.

"Captain, if I may." Spock heard himself speak, felt his chair swivel around to face Kirk in all seriousness, his eyes opening slowly, decisively; fiery and teasing azure meeting stoic and uncompromising brown.

"Of course, Lieutenant." The man smirked, always casual, always playful, forever waiting for another opportunity to get under the Vulcan's skin.

"Perhaps it would be wise," Spock continued, ignoring the childlike glint in the Captain's eyes. "To make our way towards Delta Vega while there is still a Starfleet crew to be saved."

Kirk chuckled, a deep but lighthearted sound. "Well put. Take us out then, Mr. Sulu."

Spock turned away once the ship had shifted into hyperdrive, everyone on the bridge returning to their duties, plotting and planning and calculating and navigating. They were the biological cogs in a powerful and unstoppable, Starfleet delegated clock, each action a direct manifestation of their skills, their reasons for being aboard the Enterprise. Ensign Chekov, Lieutenant Sulu, Chief Engineer Scott… Lieutenant Uhura. Spock let his mind wander briefly, barely even recognizing that they were at warp. It was something he seemed to be doing a lot of lately, against his better judgment, though he couldn't fathom why. It was as though years of tranquil indifference had been erased after no more than a couple of months under Kirk's command. Though, if Spock were being honest with himself, it had happened long before then, the moment the man cheated on the Kobayashi Maru. But no matter how aggravating Kirk's painfully human argumentativeness, he'd been ignorable, dismissible. And it had been, in large part, because of Nyota. Not a distraction, per say, but a reminder of the beauty in humans. The intelligence and kindness. A direct contrast to the obnoxiousness of many at Starfleet, even Earth in general-James Kirk included-and Spock was thankful for a taste of that knowledge, even if it couldn't last forever. His feelings for her were unchanged, and for that he was grateful, but a relationship between two high ranking, Starfleet officials amidst the call of other more pressing duties, was far less logical than a tryst between teacher and student. And sometimes it was wise, if not unfortunate, to listen to logic.

"Spock!" Kirk's voice once again shattered his inner musings. Spock turned around, thankful that he wasn't as outwardly startled.

"Captain."

"You with us, Mr. Spock?" Kirk raised an eyebrow at him, suspicious, the hint of a smirk tugging at the corner of his moth. Spock frowned.

"Of course, Captain." He replied defensively, though his tone remained steady and stern.

This time, Kirk smiled almost knowingly, eyes laughing at a joke that hadn't been told. "Good. Then alert Mr. Scott to prepare to receive all stranded crew."

"Sir." Spock turned back to his station and did so.

The USS Morgana was one of the oldest ships in Starfleet's main fleet. So, after many years of travel and defense, it was no surprise when the Enterprise received a signal requesting their assistance in a rescue. The report was simple: the USS Morgana had lost Navigational functions just outside of Delta Vega, its orbit forcing the ship in the way of the abandoned mine field from the territory war of Stardate 21.19.02, further damaging the ship. Being within the closest vicinity of the incident, the USS Enterprise had been more than willing to "swing by and pick them up." To quote the Captain. Within moments, the crew of the USS Morgana were being beamed aboard the Enterprise, the injured-all minor-sent to Chief Medical Officer McCoy in sick bay, the rest left to gather themselves and properly contact Starfleet.

"Captain," Lieutenant Uhura interrupted suddenly in the midst of the scene. Everyone glanced in her direction, though she remained unfazed, if not concerned. She touched lightly at the mechanism in her ear as though it might allow her to make better sense of what she was hearing. "I'm receiving a distress signal from Delta Vega."

"The planet?" Kirk replied, surprised. Humans' inability to maintain even the smallest of reactions was always a wonder to Spock.

Uhura rolled her eyes, muttering a forced, "Yes, Captain. The planet."

Kirk furrowed his brow as he got up and approached the receiver. "This is Captain James T. Kirk of the Enterprise. How's it looking over there, Morgana?"

"Ah, yes, Captain Kirk," The USS Morgan's First Officer appeared on the screen, their Captain assisting in the beaming up of their crew, away from the bridge. "Everything's going smoothly so far. Thank you again for assisting us, sir."

"Anytime," Kirk smiled absently. "Did any of your crew happen to attempt a voyage onto the surface of Delta Vega before we arrived?"

The First Officer blinked, clearly puzzled. "No, sir. Everyone remained on board the Morgana. Oxygen levels would have given us a few more weeks at least before requiring such a trip."

Kirk nodded, thanked the First Officer, and disconnected the feed. "Interesting…" he mumbled, leaning back casually against Spock's station. "Mr. Spock," He said suddenly, resting a hand on Spock's shoulder. "How would you like to take a quick trip to Delta Vega? All expenses paid." The look in his eyes was purely adventurous. Spock stifled a grimace.

"Captain," he replied as stoically as could be afforded with Kirk on the other end of the conversation. "Traversing Delta Vega blind would not only be unwise, but counterproductive. Surely the signal is no more than an echoed transmission from the USS Morgana ricocheting off of the surface's old Starfleet satellite tower."

Kirk pondered that for a moment before shrugging, just as enthusiastic as before. "You never know until you try! Come on." He elbowed him lightly in the arm. "Let's just take a look while the Morgana finishes beaming aboard. Just for the hell of it. Someone could have gotten stuck there, and with Mr. Scott aboard the Enterprise, all they have left was an empty Starfleet base. It's at least worth a quick check out." At this, he attempted a pout, to which Spock only managed to raise an eyebrow in disbelief. Did he honestly think- "What do you say, Spock?"

Spock sighed. There was no use arguing with a man who'd already made up his mind. Best not to let him go on his own. "I still find it unnecessary, but if you insist. We'll follow the signal and have Lieutenant Uhura continue a graph search of the planet's layout. She'll alert us to any signs of foreign life outside of our frequency." Uhura nodded, taking the phrase as an order, and Kirk smiled triumphantly, following Spock as they gathered up the few supplies they'd need to withstand the elements on Delta Vega.