Kirk's communicator blipped, sounding loud in the peaceful silence of the Bridge. The noise drew the attention of several of the members, while others merely glanced over before continuing to work at their current stations after realizing that there was no urgent issue.
"Cap'n, this is Engineering. Ye might want to get down 'ere, we're havin' a wee bit o' trouble fixin' some o' the wirin'. Thought maybe ye could lend us a hand if yer free." Scotty's voice came from the device. Kirk tapped the communicator to respond.
"Sure thing, Scotty. I'll be right down." Kirk turned to his right. "Spock, come with me. We might need an extra pair of hands down there. Sulu, you have the conn. I trust you not to send us into mortal peril within the next half hour." He finished giving orders with a teasing smile towards the helmsman.
"You have my word sir." Sulu said with a grin as Kirk stood to go to the lift, closely followed by Spock. The captain pressed the button that would send them down to Scotty, and the doors whooshed shut. As the lift went down, Spock turned to Kirk who was to his left.
"Captain, I do not understand why it is that Officer Scott would ask you in particular to assist in repairs, especially ones as trivial as these seem to be. Additionally, to my current knowledge, you have had no training in the mechanics of a starship."
The doors opened, and the pair began to navigate their way through the bustling pathways of Engineering. Kirk stopped at a computer and found Scotty's location as he responded to the not-question his First Officer had almost asked.
"That's where you're wrong, Spock. I actually ended up taking an Advanced Engineering course my first year at the Academy." Missing the quizzical look Spock sent him, Kirk spotted Scotty and walked over to him. "Scotty! What seems to be the issue here?"
Scotty slid out from under the consul of a computer station and stood as he brushed himself off. He looked momentarily surprised to see the Vulcan beside Kirk, but soon forgot that as he registered the question the captain had asked him. He gestured to the computer as he responded.
"I'm tryin' to rewire it so it connects to the other controls down here faster, but whatever I end up tryin' jus' goes kaput almos' instantly!" Scotty waved his hands around for emphasis as he spoke. Kirk's eyes lit up at the challenge presented to him. He took Scotty's previous position under the consul and the engineer and Vulcan could hear him muttering to himself.
Scotty turned to Spock. " I wasn' expectin' to see ye down here as well, Commander. I suppose the cap'n probably brought ye with him, am I right?" Spock inclined his head in acknowledgement of the man's statement.
"That is correct. The captain believed I may be of some use. To quote him, I believe he said that he 'might be able to use an extra pair of hands'. I was not previously aware that he had any extensive training in the workings of a starship."
"Aye, I could barely believe it myself until he listed every piece of the core to me, and followed by beginning to explain the functions of each to me. Although, I think I would be happy if he never mentioned the core again to me after his… accident."
The memory of Kirk's death sent both of them into silence. Said captain slid out from under the consul and tapped a few buttons on it before turning to the now silent pair with a grin of triumph. He leaned back against the machine behind him and crossed his arms.
"There you go, Scotty, good as new." He noticed their expressions and immediately knew what they had previously been discussing. "You guys were thinking about my … incident with the core again." It wasn't a question but a statement. The pair opposite him nodded silently and Kirk sighed.
"Guys, I'm sorry. I really am. But the Enterprise is my life; her and her crew. If something happened to either one of you, I'm not sure what I'd do." He fell silent as well for several moments before Spock suddenly spoke up.
"Captain, I am wondering why you were able to qualify to take an Advanced Engineering course your first year in the Academy, and the reason for doing so if you did not intend to become an Engineer." Kirk laughed slightly, the somber mood now behind them.
"Oh, right. To put it simply, I was bored. I had too much time on my hands, so I decided to take an additional class to fill that time up. It wasn't a particularly challenging course, but it occupied enough of my time to take it. I was only able to qualify for it because I had worked as a mechanic briefly in the past, so I tested into the Advanced level."
"Besides," he continued, "I think a captain should be able to understand his or her ship as well as or better than any member of its crew. In order to command something to the best of your capability, you need to understand it completely." Scotty and Spock watched as their captain's eyes turned fond and ran along the interior of the ship and over its engines.
Scotty's PADD blipped at him causing him to let out a mild curse and excuse himself from the other two that were with him. Blinking, Spock realized that they had spent almost a half hour down in Engineering, and informed his captain of that fact, causing them to return to the lift.
"I wish to inform you, Captain, that I find it quite admirable that you endeavor to understand the Enterprise to the best of your ability. Not many in command carry the same dedication that you appear to." Spock said quietly once they were in the lift headed back to the Bridge.
To say Kirk was touched was an understatement. To have the Vulcan admit that he admired something that he had done was truly special to him, seeing as Spock rarely complemented someone- much less Kirk. He figured that was probably due to his sometimes irritating antics.
"Thank you, Spock. That means a lot to me. Really, thank you." Kirk looked his friend in the eye, and Spock was taken aback at the depth of the sincerity of those few short sentences. Before he had a chance to respond though, the doors to lift opened, and Kirk's name was called out as a member of the Bridge crew had a matter to discuss with him.
Later that evening, Nyota mentioned that he seemed slightly distracted, and asked if anything was wrong. He simply replied that he was merely adjusting to some newly acquired information on the captain, and told her what had transpired earlier that day. When he reached the part about the lift, he remembered the sincerity of the captain's words.
"The captain… he cares for the Enterprise and her crew very deeply. More deeply, I believe, than any one of us shall ever know. Perhaps so deeply, even he himself does not fully realize. What I saw today was only a fraction of what I believe he feels, and the extent was startling, I must admit."
Nyota smiled gently at him. "If that's truly the case, then we are more privileged than we previously realized to have him command our ship." She suddenly laughed. "I can't really picture Kirk as anything other than a member of Starfleet. He really worked as a mechanic?"
"I too believe this to be where the captain is best suited. Indeed, he did claim to work as a mechanic briefly, thus allowing him to qualify for the advanced course he took at the Academy." For the rest of the evening, they swapped stories about Kirk and the mischief he had caused, both silently feeling rather fond of the captain and the love he held for his home and family.