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Story Notes:
So this is my first Star Trek fanfiction. The idea just sort of hit me and it was short enough that I managed to actually finish it! I tweaked a few things about the episode (beyond the obvious), but for the most part, I tried to stay within the story. Please tell me what you think, whether you like it, hate it, or somewhere in between. I could use the pointers. :)

Disclaimer: I don't own it and I'm not making money off of it.

“Bones, Spock. Since you are playing this tape, we will assume that I am dead, that the tactical situation is critical, and both of you are locked in mortal combat. It means, Spock, that you have control of the ship and are probably making the most difficult decisions of your career. I can offer only one small piece of advice, for whatever it's worth: use every scrap of knowledge and logic you have to save the ship, but temper your judgment with intuitive insight. I believe you have those qualities, but if you can't find them in yourself, seek out McCoy. Ask his advice. And if you find it sound, take it. Bones, you've heard what I've just told Spock. Help him if you can. But remember he is the Captain. His decisions must be followed without question. You might find that he is capable of human insight and…human error. They are most difficult to defend, but you will find that he is deserving of the same loyalty and confidence each of you…have given me. Take care.” Several moments of tense silence descend upon the room as the recording ends.

“Spock, I…I’m sorry. It does hurt, doesn’t it?” There is a clear note of apology in McCoy’s voice, as he seems to realize that their squabbling is out of place under such dire circumstances.

“What would you have me say, doctor?” Spock’s voice is flat and emotionless, almost an insult to Bones’ attempt at making amends.

Bones stands silently reaching out to Spock for some kind of emotional response. After a few moments, he accepts defeat and leaves.

Spock walks over and half-collapses into Jim’s chair, looking down at the envelope in his hands. As he gently places it back in the safe, he notices something he missed on his first examination of the safe: another envelope, addressed solely to him. Spock hesitates, but then reaches into the safe to collect the missive. Within is another tape, which Spock resolutely places into the computer terminal.

“Spock, you are probably puzzled by the presence of this second tape meant only for you. The truth is…that I have been a terrible coward. The things that I want to tell you, I should have told you in person, before it was too late. That you are now viewing this tape attests to the fact that I never brought myself to confess my feelings to you.” There is a long pause, then a drawn breath. “Spock…I…love you. For a long time, I have told myself that you are merely my dearest friend, that my affection for you is merely platonic, but I know that that’s not the truth. I have come to know that my life would be worse for your absence from it. I want to be something greater than just your friend, to demonstrate my feelings for you. I tell myself that your Vulcan emotions wouldn’t allow for that kind of relationship, yet, I think that you are capable of more emotion than you let on. I can’t be imagining it every time you smile at me, every time you make a joke, every time you poke fun at Bones. But my uncertainty and my desire to keep you, at least as a friend, if I can be no more, has held me back. If you do not return my feelings, I only hope that your memory of our friendship is not marred by what you now know. If you do return my feelings, then I have been a fool and I hope that you can one day forgive me.”

Spock sways in his seat. His world comes crashing down around him and his mental shields are of little use. /He loves me and I never knew. If the ship cannot get a transporter lock on him at the next interphase…the ship must get a transporter lock on him. / Spock felt a cascade of very un-Vulcanlike emotions wash over him: awe, sorrow, chagrin, bittersweet joy, and a hint of fear.

Upon further consideration, Spock realizes that, should Jim return to the ship to find that Spock has viewed this recording, it might put undue pressure on their relationship. He resolves not to tell Jim of his knowledge of the tape, even if it requires some deceit. The intercom sounds, and a brief flash of panic shoots through Spock before he hauls his mental shields back in place.

“Spock here.”

“Mister Spock, we have a readout on the Tholian tractor field. I think we can estimate its approximate completion time.” Scotty’s voice drifts from the com unit.

“I shall be there shortly. Spock out.”

“I had a whole universe to myself after the Defiant was thrown out. There was absolutely no one else in it. I must say I prefer a crowded universe much better. How did you two get along without me?” Kirk’s eyes show a boyish twinkle of mirth and Spock can’t help staring for a moment.

“Oh, we managed. Mister Spock gave the orders, and I found the answers.” Bones is almost too cheery, bouncing once on the balls of his feet as he speaks.

“Good. No problems between you?”

“None worth reporting, Captain.” Spock falls into the act admirably, feigning a very human form of nonchalance. Jim seems to detect the deception.

“Try me.” Jim speaks to his first officer in a lightly suspicious tone.

“Only such minor disturbances as are inevitable when humans are involved.”

“Which humans, Mister Spock?”

“He means when humans become involved with Vulcans, Jim.”

“Ah, yes. I understand. Well, I hope my last orders were helpful in solving any problems that you don't feel worth reporting.” At this point, Spock and Bones lay the act on thick, glancing at each other is feigned confusion.

“Orders, Captain?”

“What orders are you referring to, Jim?”

“My last orders. The last orders that I left for both of you.” The CMO and first officer once again look at each other in confusion, while the captain is clearly perturbed. “The last taped orders.”

“Oh, those orders. Well, there wasn't time. We never had a chance to listen to them.”

“No. You see, the crisis was upon us, and then passed so quickly, Captain, that we-“

Kirk’s perturbation shows little sign of letting up. “Good. Good. Well, I hope we won't have similar opportunities to test those orders which you never heard. Ahead warp factor two, Mister Sulu.”

“Warp factor two, sir.”

Shortly after the doctor leaves the bridge, Spock once again approaches the captain’s chair. “Spock, is there something you need?” Jim smiles up at the Vulcan, melting Spock emotional barriers and making him falter for a moment.

Spock recovers and replies, “There is no problem captain. I merely wished to determine whether you would be amenable to a game of chess this evening.”

Jims gives Spock a brilliant grin and responds, “I would be delighted, Mr. Spock.” At that, Spock gives Jim that glowing hint of a smile that is reserved only for Jim.
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