Communication (Star Trek: TOS story by Jenna Sinclair)

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: Communication
Author(s): Jenna Sinclair
Date(s): 2003
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: Communication

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Communication is a K/S story by Jenna Sinclair.

It was published in the print zine Legends #3, and then online.

It was the winner of a Philon Award.

Summary

"War with the Tholians separates Kirk and Spock. A series of beautiful letters between the two reveal a friendship in pain, surprising regrets, frustration with war’s politics, and unexpected hopes."

Reactions and Reviews

Once again this author displays a remarkable versatility when it comes to penning K/S stories. From her powerful Sharing the Sunlight series to lighter fares such as "Under the Table", she certainly has proven she is not a "one theme" writer by any means and with Communication, she does so again. Even more, she undertakes the difficult task of writing from a first person point of view of not one, but two characters, and does it in a most unique way. This story is told in a series of "letters", such as they are in the 23rd century, between Kirk and Spock. The two have been temporarily separated, with Spock in command of a ship that is sent to do potential battle with the Tholians. At first the letters are quite formal, yet underneath each word written one can feel the love these two men share. Then as the series of letters continue, they become much more casual as the two men open up more and more with each other, just as they did in the series. There are times, however, when the tones of the letters change as events unfold, especially when Kirk reprimands Spock for taking what he feels are unnecessary risks, despite the fact he is often guilty of the same thing himself, something Spock is quick to point out. Yet through it all they continue to express their love and eventually their desire for one another. Just as it seems that their future together is soon to be secure, however, the hazards of Starfleet duty threaten that future. Fortunately, random factors operate in their favor (in other words, they get lucky) and the crisis that kept them apart comes to an end, thus allowing Kirk and Spock their own beginning. As is typical of this author's stories, the writing flows smoothly and completely, never leaving the reader feeling cheated in any way. Also typical is how the characterizations of Kirk and Spock are portrayed in this story. They are so true-to-life and if there were an aired version of TOS involving this type of scenario, I would have no doubt this is how it would be done. Another must read story from one of the best around. [1]
This story unfolds through a series of communications, the majority of which are exchanged between Kirk and Spock, who have been unexpectedly separated by a war with the Tholians. This is one of those cases in which separation makes the heart grow fonder, because as time passes Kirk and Spock's letters become increasingly personal and the K/S relationship we all know and love begins to take shape. Even in the earliest letters, though, these men are clearly communicating the message that each cares for the other a great deal and is far more worried about the other's safety than he is about his own.

"Communication" is skillfully written and Jenna manages to cover a lot of ground in just a few pages, filling us in not just on the progress of the K/S relationship, but also on the progress of the war. The Tholians are some of the most interesting extraterrestrials the Enterprise ever encountered— mysterious and truly alien. It was great to see them used here: in fact, I would have liked to learn even more about them than we did in Jenna's reference to the fact that the Tholians have 'nest brothers" was quite intriguing.

I liked the way the war interfered with communication between Kirk and Spock, Spock suggests early on that they communicate in code, (Of course, they've been doing that for some time, light?) Later, messages are blocked and the only sources of news are the incomplete and often unreliable stories carried by "NetOneVid," These little touches added to the sense that there is a real war going on and that Kirk and Spock's lives are truly in danger* I also liked the fact that it was communication, and not force, which eventually brought an end to the war.

The eventual K/S reunion is reported by Uhura, in a communication to a friend. There were several very nice touches in this section. However. I did have one small problem with this part of the story, I've always imagined Uhura as having a deep affection for both Kirk and Spock, and it seemed out of character for her to gossip about their personal lives with someone who (as far as we know) is a virtual stranger to them. I really loved the final communication in the story, from Kirk to Admiral McNally—matter-of-fact and to-the-point. it really sounds like it could have been written by the captain himself.

All in all, 'Communication" is a great read. [2]
I LOVE this story! Even though it is the last story in the zine, it's the first one I read. And I have yet to read all the stories in the zine (due to getting both Legends 3 and T'hy'la 23 on the Saturday before Christmas), but I've reread this one at least three times.

If you haven't read the story yet and don't want to know all about it, better skip this LOC until you do read it, since I'm going to discuss the story in great detail, and quote parts of it, too. Basically, "Communication" is told through the use of letters and other forms of communication, most of which are between Kirk and Spock. I've seen this format before of a story being told through letters, but never have I seen it used so effectively.

The story starts out with a bang. The Tholians have unexpectedly declared war on the Federation, and Kirk has come back from a conference to find Spock gone—he's been promoted to captain and assigned to another ship, the USS Tobin. The first few letters are between Kirk and Spock as they discuss the war, their separation, say their goodbyes, and express their concerns for each other's safety. Jenna has perfectly captured both Kirk and Spock in these letters, especially Spock, who I think is harder to write. (I'm not a writer, but when I read stories, more often I have trouble with how an author writes dialogue for Spock than for Kirk, so I think Spock must be harder to write convincingly in character.) Kirk's style of writing is more informal than Spock's in these early letters, (loved Kirk's reference to Spock being up to his "elegant pointed ears" in work as he prepares his new ship for battle) and Spock is so Spock - telling Kirk that he has upgraded the shielding on his new ship, and telling him by what percentage the shield performance improved! And I love how Spock expresses his concern for Kirk's safety, talking about how he has been a "moderating influence on your impulsive nature" in the past, and Kirk should "continue to operate as if I were still your first officer advising that you preserve your personal safety."

The two of them are then thrust into battle, and the letters start dealing with that. Spock writes a short letter to Kirk telling him that he has minor injuries. It was very clever how the next thing we see in the story is a communication between Kirk and the Surgeon General of Starfleet, marked Urgent, requesting Spock's status, and then a letter from Kirk to Spock scolding him for not telling him more. ("What the hell do you mean, minor injuries? How badly are you hurt? Is there a Vulcan healer on board? Dammit, Spock, when you send me a letter like that, give some details.")

I liked the little details in the letters that reveal how they worry about each other. Such as Kirk's letter to Spock about his minor injuries, which mentions that the official casualty list had the Tobin listed as missing. Kirk then comments that he carried the uncertainty with him for 36 hours until Uhura tracked him down in a Jeffries tube to give him Spock's letter saying he was okay. Then, after Kirk tells Spock how Uhura found him, he says "Bless her. That's one perceptive woman." Very subtle—Kirk never says he was going crazy worrying about Spock, but it's so obvious from this letter (and I'm sure was obvious to Spock, too)...

[snipped for length]

Well, if I continued this LOC in this kind of detail it would go on for several more pages. As you would expect, Jenna brilliantly resolves this story in the concluding pages, both the plot and the love story. Kirk and Spock, galactic heroes once again—my kind of story! And the exchange of letters between them after they know the other loves them is just sublime. Kirk's letter in particular is just perfect in its restraint and intensity. I just loved this story. It is inspired. I think it's one of the best K/S stories I've ever read, and highly recommend everyone read it ASAP! [3]
It’s always a treat to read a new story by Jenna, and this is no exception. Because it has been reviewed extensively I’m going to keep my synopsis to a minimum. Kirk is away attending some sort of conference, and when he returns to the ship he finds that not only has war with the Tholians been declared, but that Spock has been promoted to captain and left for

his own command. An exchange of messages between them follows, and what is exposed between the lines is of equal or greater importance than the actual words they send to one another. There is such caring and love shown, and against all of that their competency and professionalism shine through. When they finally do manage to stop the conflict, their solution is perfect. They act together— together as they have always been—even though apart, and in ways which are perfectly true to their individual natures.

Perhaps what is most impressive about Communication is the unique way we see their relationship develop. The closeness, the friendship is there at the start, but then we see how much they have learned from each other, how much they rely on each other for support. The space between them prods them to confess their feelings and finally reveals what has been there all along—the love they share. And to do all this in letters instead of narrative is wonderfully refreshing. This story has earned its Philon award. Don’t miss it! [4]
What an unusual and powerful way to tell a love story: hidden within the pages of stargrams between two soldiers in the midst of a war.

Not surprisingly, this author can make us feel the reality of that war with only a few words and without ever hearing a phaser blast. The situation with the Tholians is so serious that manpower is at a premium and command personnel must not be wasted. Kirk commands the Enterprise while Spock is sent to captain the Tobin. The captain of the Enterprise has little spare time, but what time he does have he spends writing his former First Officer, telling him to stay safe as they both fly into the jaws of the enemy. And Spock finds time to answer, "I am as safe as it is possible to be when serving on the front line during a war." Why does that say so much more than would a long narrative describing the action? Much more than being thrown into an action/adventure plot describing battle after bloody battle, these carefully structured paragraphs between friends force me to sense something of what men must feel when facing others who see them only as the face of the enemy. When death is not an exciting opponent, but a grim reaper. Spock's first reply somehow has a terrible ring of truth to it. I can almost see a similar letter in some historic archive from a battle commander. He cautions Kirk to exercise caution in his absence as "the times are perilous". The dialog contained in both men's communiques is exquisitely "right". Both are fairly formal at the start but unmistakably Kirk and Spock in their Starfleet personae. These are not the notes of love-struck adolescents, they are missives between two battle weary commanders. One must read carefully to find the words of love, and that's what lends such amazing reality to these documents. For instance, Kirk predicts the war is going to keep them apart a long time. "That's hard," he writes. Yes. It is. We are told in ways that few stories have done just what these men are made of. They are soldiers. Heroes. Leaders. Men of greatness.

As the conflict rages on, we learn of it through the words sent between them and glimpses of the occasional "News Vid Report". I can't explain why this is so much more effective than the usual story telling method would be, but effective it is—immensely so. An incredible, stirring account from a K/S master. [5]
The Federation enters a war with the Tholian Assembly and Spock is given a ship of his own. Unexpectedly separated and unsure about their fate, Kirk and Spock exchange messages and finally confess their feelings for each other.

For a series that had so many episodes centered around the threat of war, a relatively small number of fics in the TOS fandom deal with the issue. "Communication" is one of them and it does so in a wonderful way: instead of focusing on space battles, it focus on two captains dealing with volatile situations, the danger their crews live in and the distance that has been put between them.

This story is full of little details that I love: mentions of the crews and the work they are doing, details about the war (which earns bonus points for originality by having the Tholians as the enemies instead of Klingons and/or Romulans), the heading on the messages (which change depending on the mood/seriousness of the situation).

Through subspace messages, communiqués to and from Starfleet and the News Service's press releases we see Kirk and Spock draw closer and closer and overcome their hesitation about expressing their feelings. Though there's quite a bit of angst and frustration along the way, the ending more than makes up for it. [6]

References

  1. from The K/S Press #91
  2. from The K/S Press #89
  3. from a much, much longer review in The K/S Press #88
  4. from The K/S Press #95
  5. from The K/S Press #96
  6. from Epic Recs, posted February 9, 2010, accessed March 20, 2013