A Shadow from the Past

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: A Shadow from the Past
Author(s): Debbie Cummins
Date(s): 1987
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
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A Shadow from the Past is a K/S story by Debbie Cummins.

It was published in the print zine Daring Attempt #9.

Reactions and Reviews

You want plot? There’s plot. Nothing distractingly complicated, just madness and attempted murder.

You want love? There’s love. Established relationship. Very comfortable, very open, very sexy. You want suspense? In spades. An ex-lover believes she’s about to fulfill her four-year quest of being in Kirk’s arms again. She’s just been reassigned to the ENTERPRISE, only to learn Kirk and Spock are lovers. Fear? Yes, there’s fear. Kirk is torn from his command post by a mental plea from Spock: “Jim. I am dying. Please help me. THAT gets your attention. Spock has been viciously stabbed and left to die in a rapidly spreading pool of blood. It’s very touch and go for a few days—all of which Kirk spends at Spock’s bedside. The perpetrator has been quickly caught, but before Spock even begins to recover, she escapes to try again.

This captured my interest from the start and never allowed it to waver. Well, for awhile it did, because I had to go to work halfway through it and wait all day to see what would happen! [1]
Debbie Cummins has written some wonderful K/S over the years, and this story is one of her best. A Shadow from the Past is very simply written, straightforward in narration and characterization, but it works beautifully. It definitely is an excellent example that an old formula can be very effective. The story does have the feeling of classic hurt/comfort from the 70s with a wonderful 80s K/S twist.

Kirk and Spock are already lovers. The first scene is a classic Cummins scene as Spock wakes up in the middle of the night, shoved against the wall in an uncomfortable manner by his bedmate. But as he gazes at Kirk and thinks of how much he loves him, of how much their shared love has enriched his life, the discomfort fades and only love remains. Cummins always seems to write a very effective sex scene that reverberates with emotion; that’s a great combination, the sex and the love, and she definitely has the knack of it. Their peace is shattered when a former lover of Kirk comes on board. She is obsessed with Kirk and has magnified their four day interlude from years ago into grand passion and painful separation. Although he barely remembers her, she has built her life around him and managing a posting to the Enterprise. Except that Spock is in her way when she arrives. It doesn’t take her long to learn that the crew is loyal to both senior officers even though they may be physically involved (there’s a great scene with Uhura, Sulu and Chekov in the rec room), so she is forced to employ much more drastic means. She attempts to kill Spock. There’s a terrific sequence as Spock responds to her summons and is wounded, the ticking of the clock counting down the remaining seconds of his life. Kirk on the bridge tunes in to his bondmate’s danger and we race with him through the corridors of the ship knowing that every second counts. Terrific stuff here.

I really like the straightforward approach of this story. It’s true that the woman’s characterization is clichéd, but she serves her function in the story and the reader gets to focus on Kirk and Spock. And that’s why we read K/S, right? [2]
A good Get!Spock story -- always something I enjoy. And I hadn't seen this one before so that was an even bigger treat. I'm realizing now that this author has been publishing K/S stories for quite some times; somehow, in my own on-again, off-again presence I'd missed her until recently.

I've learned to expect kickass hurt-comfort and meticulous characterization from her and this story did not disappoint me. It would have been easy to make the villain of the piece two-dimensional, just another unexplained Janice Lester sort of thing. Not here. Not even close. I came to understand that character's point of view, however confused and hateful her thoughts it was obvious that above all else she was a soul in profound inner pain, which drove all the rest of her behaviour. I think perhaps my favourite part of this is the bit near the end where Spock, despite nearly being killed by her twice in two weeks, offers her only mercy in her madness and is actually able to reach her, to a degree. Anyone else, myself I fear included, would probably not have been so kind -- but this is so like Spock. And that he can talk Jim around into taking her to Vulcan instead of to mindwipe/rehab somewhere like Tantalus.

Yet another good story from an excellent K/S author. Deborah, may thy Muse be ever generous with thee. [3]
I‘ve likely read this before, but as with all of Deborah‘s stories, it deserves a second read and a third, and....

Filled with angst and suspense, this one relates how one of Kirk‘s old flames reacts when she is assigned to the Enterprise and decides the fates have declared it‘s time for her and her old lover to be reunited. The glitch in this plan is Spock and the new relationship he has with his captain. The character of Cynthia Jackson reminds me of Janice Lester, but it is understandable that more than one woman will have been left bereft when Kirk dazzled them and left them behind. This one is totally consumed by madness and has a vicious streak that comes raging to the surface when Kirk tells her he is committed to someone else. She is consumed with the need to eliminate her rival. When it comes, her attack on Spock is so realistic it‘s almost difficult to read. No one is able to capture violence quite like Ms. Cummins. That‘s a compliment if you are a reader who wants to be truly exposed to that element of a story. Here, it is imperative we see exactly who and what we‘re dealing with. When we read Spock‘s thoughts, alone and dying, as he calls out mentally to Kirk, our blood runs cold. 'Jim...I am dying. Please help me.' But he believes that in his weakened state he has not reached his beloved and breathes one last word, asking this man to not blame him for his naiveté. 'Forgive....' If this has your attention, you will be on the edge of your chair as Kirk suddenly realizes the meaning of the icy darkness in his mind. He leaps from his seat on the bridge, terrified and confused for a moment before the determination for which we know him so well takes hold. The scene when the medical team and their captain reach the fallen Vulcan will stay in your mind for a long, long time.

This occurs nowhere near the end of this gripping story...there is much more. If you haven‘t read it, you have missed a classic and most memorable K/S hurt- comfort event. [4]
Kirk and Spock are blissfully happy together when an old girl friend of Kirk’s arrives and decides the Vulcan must die so she can take her rightful place at the captain’s side. Lots of pain and h/c and angst. If you like “Get Spock” stories, don’t miss this one! [5]
The portrayal of Jim and Spock's relationship at the beginning of this story is lovely: it's a new sexual relationship, of only four weeks duration, and we start with Spock, looking back. In a wonderful scene, he's awake because of Jim, stretching out in sleep, and digging him, hard, in the ribs! A memorable moment, as Spock decides he prefers this touch to none at all, and one I'd wanted to find again, so I was very pleased that one of our number suggested this story. We follow this scene with a delightful sexual encounter, with Spock's intricate knowledge of the human nervous system coming to the fore, as he is portrayed perfectly in character! Well worth reading at least twice!

So, an unhurried start to the story proper, which means that when we see Spock far more aware of the past of their new passenger than Kirk, we understand and ache with him (She's an old flame of Jim's, of course!) and are rooting for them both when Jim takes the time to reassure his lover beyond all doubt. And then, the Cynthia Jackson character herself, who has indeed carried a candle for the Captain and literally counted the days since they parted. This is an effective contrast with Jim, who we saw earlier could barely remember her!! She very quickly establishes that the Command Team are together, as Jim has to rebuff her almost as soon as she steps aboard. Conceiving an intense dislike for the Vulcan , she at first tries to incite the crew, to no avail of course--we could have told her that! Obsessed, she then plans to kill Spock, judging that she'd then be on hand to 'comfort' and claim the Captain in due course. We see her taunting Spock and stabbing him, then leaving him to die alone, somewhere in the lower levels of the ship. A harrowing read, but Spock is able to touch Kirk's mind who then finds him, just in time, and Spock is taken to sickbay. Ironically, Cynthia is so confident that Spock is dead/dying that when she hears that Kirk is in sickbay, she assumes he must be hurt! Of course she is arrested, but a particularly gullible security guard (we felt) is totally duped by her and she effects another attack on Spock, on the ward. I particularly like the scene where McCoy stands in front of his patient, it's such a characteristic gesture. Jackson wavers and crumples when the injured Spock pleads, not for himself, but for the Doctor and she senses his inherent gentleness. Poor Jim has been outside, imagining the worst! The ending has some nice details, with the Captain admitting that he wants Cynthia to suffer for her attacks: "I guess that makes me a cruel, sadistic bastard, doesn't it?" McCoy has a wonderful bluster about the two of them 'behaving themselves' as they are staying in Sickbay and there's a tender moment when Kirk sees the child in the Vulcan's eyes, as he asks Jim to 'lie with him'.

This is a good, strong story with all the right ingredients and some heartbreaking, memorable moments. Debbie's characters are well drawn, with strengths and insecurities. Our only gripe was the character of Ms Jackson who is unhinged, unpleasant and perhaps not the brightest, somehow. The author calls her 'delusional' and we totally agreed! [6]


  1. from The K/S Press #39
  2. from The K/S Press #46
  3. from The K/S Press #154
  4. from The K/S Press #160
  5. from The K/S Press #86
  6. reviewed by "JAC, the rump from our former REJACKK!! (sigh..)" at The K/S Press #208