Family Matters (Star Trek: TOS story)

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: Family Matters
Author(s): Elise Madrid.
Date(s): 2002
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: online here

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Family Matters is a Kirk/Spock story by Elise Madrid.

"Desired Rest" by Virginia Sky

It was published in the print zine Beyond Dreams #5.

Summary

"While on medical leave, Lt.Spock ends up staying with the Sam Kirk family and meets the newly-graduated Jim Kirk."

Reactions and Reviews

I can't tell you how much I love this story! It was my intention to read it a second time before writing this, but my schedule won't allow it, so my uncoordinated babblings will have to do.

This is a tale of Kirk and Spock before the Enterprise—not normally my cup of tea. However, both are exceptionally well-executed, their characters right on target. Both men are attractive and handsome, both are intelligent and warm, so what can you do but fall in love with them from the very start? Kirk is awaiting assignment, staying with his brother Sam and sister Aurelan on a starbase. Spock has been injured and is undergoing outpatient therapy, rooming at a barely acceptable hotel, when he encounters Aurelan where she is receptionist at the clinic. She's pregnant, it's raining and Spock, nothing less than a gentleman, assists her in entering her aircar. She pretty much adopts him on the spot (who wouldn't?) and takes him home to meet her family. Spock's first sight of James T. Kirk occurs as they arrive at the rural home to find Jim and Sam dashing home through the downpour. Not aware of the descending car, Jim starts to strip off his wet clothing. The way Elise describes Kirk physically and Spock's quickening heartbeat sets the tone for the remainder of the story. This lady knows how to show us dawning love. She expertly lets us feel every tiny thrill as they look at each other, the unexpected excitement at a touch, the fascination with a word or a smile. This is how I like my K/S dished out. I need to see and feel the awareness that both Kirk and Spock feel as they discover each other and it is done in wonderful fashion here. Spock is accepted readily by this loving, genuine family—even the Kirk's young child—and feels for the first time since leaving home that he is worthy of love. This is poignantly told, but not drippingly so. It's done just right and is a seldom seen side of Spock. It's painful for him and the reader to realize how much he misses having a home and a family. The inevitable does occur. Kirk and Spock slowly but surely fall head over heels in love. This time I sense more reluctance in Kirk than in Spock, which is probably true to the character of a youthful Kirk with stars in his eyes. They finally fall into each other's arms, but with an outcome different than anticipated. I will admit to some disappointment at this juncture of the story, but I moved on. After all, Ms. Madrid was only trying to bring us back to canon, and we all know they weren't really close until serving together. Years go by (inevitable) before Kirk takes over command of the Enterprise. And while it would be unrealistic to expect a Cinderella reunion, I was hoping for it. Not so easy. A lot of well-placed angst occurs before they regain what they knew as youngsters. Young love. Not so easily forgotten.

If asked to describe “Family Matters” in one word I would have to say: Warm. The warmth of family is felt strongly here, as is the warmth of enduring love and acceptance. For goodness sake, if you haven't read this, do it soon! [1]
What a delightful story! I can't say enough about how it moved me. It kept getting better and better. And as I read I experienced an old, really old, feeling of meeting an attractive and charming—just cute!—guy at someone's house, and feeling shy and excited like Spock was, all filled with anticipation about how it's going to turn out. That's it, I kept wondering what was going to happen, how it would end. I couldn't put that story down until I finished it. Can't say how much I enjoyed the action, it was heartwarming. Jim and Spock were so captivating to me and I was melted; they were just so irresistible. I didn't believe it possible, but I came to care more deeply about Spock.

There was something sweet about Sam and Aurelan's family life, too, so wonderful how they welcomed a young, vulnerable Spock into their midst. And Spock is just so damned appealing, feeling his way with his own human and Vulcan halves, falling in love with Kirk. He's adorable, before he's developed into the staid, contained Vulcan we know and love.

When the climax finally struck, this was one of the times it took me...not exactly where I wanted to go. But I stuck with it and was rewarded with the proverbial happy ending, without which my appetite wouldn't have been appeased. [2]
Elise Madrid excels at coming up with fascinating plots, and often chooses to set her stories in seldom- explored areas of TOS canon...

One of the best things about TOS fan fiction is that there is so much canon covering such a long period of time to play with. In the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage", later incorporated into the two-part episode "The Menagerie", one of the plot points is that Spock, serving at this time under Captain Pike, has suffered a leg injury. In "Family Matters", Elise takes this incident and explores what happens while a young Lieutenant Spock is convalescing on the Vega Colony. With six weeks of leave, and little to do but regain his health, he finds himself at loose ends until he meets Aurelan Kirk at the local medical center. Shortly thereafter, he is introduced to her husband Sam, and her brother-in-law, Jim Kirk, who has just graduated from the Academy and is on leave, waiting for his first posting. One of the interesting things about "The Cage" is that Spock seems to occasionally be experimenting with openly showing emotion. A key element in Elise's story is that Spock is making an awkward attempt to live more as a Human than a Vulcan. He trustingly welcomes his new friends into his life - but he is not yet aware of the dangers that emotions pose, or of the damage that they can cause.

In a devastating scene, Spock's attempts at living with emotion ends in disaster. He returns to the Enterprise, now determined to be Vulcan in all ways. Years later, Kirk becomes Captain of the Enterprise. The author traces the repercussions of what happened between them against a background of the events of the first season. Then, the Enterprise reaches the planet Deneva where the events from their past must be confronted. [3]
Another good author, this is my personal favorite of hers, although all of her stuff is worth a read. This is an AU, with a younger Kirk and Spock meeting and forming a bond prior to being stationed together on the Enterprise. Kirk has a hard time dealing with the 'oh my god, I'm gay' aspect of falling for Spock and sends Spock away, and then they meet up again on the Enterprise years later where 'Tomkat' Kirk has some serious groveling to do. Another great thing about this fic, it fleshes out Kirk's brother Sam and his wife, whom you'll love. [4]
This story, in which the newly graduated Ensign Kirk meets and befriends Lieutenant Spock, has both strengths and weaknesses. I should start by admitting that I am not a great fan of stories in which Kirk and Spock meet before their shared service on the Enterprise. I’m not sure why that is: I think it may have a lot to do with the fact that TOS did such a good job of showing how the famous friendship developed that I never felt the need to provide some sort of prequel to explain how Kirk and Spock came to like and respect one another. Be that as it may, “Family Matters” managed to grab and hold my attention. Why? Well, for one thing, this isn’t just a quick one-night stand followed by a hasty return to two different ships. The author takes the time to allow a real relationship to develop between Kirk and Spock. Both men have an extended amount of leave time--Kirk, because he is waiting for his first assignment, and Spock, because he is recovering from an injury. But there is another interesting twist here. Spock ends up sharing his leave not just with Kirk, but with Kirk’s extended family. It is Kirk’s sister-in-law, Aurelan, who brings Spock into the Kirk household, which also includes Kirk’s brother and nephew. The fact that Aurelan is pregnant with a second child adds to the cozy, domestic atmosphere. (Sorry, but I can’t resist noting that both the physical description of the Kirk house and the dynamics of the household were a bit too conventional for me. For example, at one point we are told that the adults in the family like to sit in front of the fireplace in the evening, dreaming of the future. Kirk and Spock dream of the stars. Sam dreams about his career. And Aurelan dreams about having a large family. This feels more like something from the 1950’s than from the distant future.)

When Spock is welcomed into the Kirk household, he ends up falling in love not just with Jim, but with the entire family--a development that seems quite plausible to me, given Spock’s personal history. Here, with Sam, Aurelan, Michael and Jim, Spock finally finds the warm, accepting family he has always desired. Eventually, though, complications develop, Kirk and Spock end up apart again, and when they are reunited on the Enterprise, they must deal with their shared past. The part of the story dealing with Kirk and Spock’s days on the Enterprise includes some nice touches. For example, when, after the incident on Omicron Ceti Three, Spock says “For the first time, I was happy,” Kirk is not exactly thrilled. When you think about it, this quote is going to be a problem for any story in which Kirk and Spock get together before their time on the Enterprise, yet I can’t recall having seen this particular issue addressed before. The author definitely makes an effort to make the prequel mesh nicely with what we saw in TOS. In many ways she succeeds, and yet, there is an unaddressed problem with this approach, since it is difficult to see how the friendship could have continued evolving as we saw it in TOS, given all of the underlying, tension-producing history between Kirk and Spock. There are other problems as well. There is a great deal of ground to cover--years of it, in fact, and though the story is relatively long, it is not long enough to really do justice to the subject at hand. There is a lot of summarizing, particularly in the part of the story that is set aboard the Enterprise. Another problem is that there are a few places where we are simply told what has just happened or how a character feels. For example, when Spock is eating dinner with the Kirk family, we learn that “Spock listened intently, often bewildered by the banter that flew across the table as the four humans talked over dinner. Such informal conversation during meals was not done at Vulcan homes....” That whole scene might have had more impact if Spock had looked around at the happily conversing Kirk family and then, in his own mind, compared his current dinner companions to a specific memory of his mother and father sitting silently across from him during a typical meal on Vulcan. The advantage of the latter approach, I think, is that it would have allowed the readers to empathize more directly with Spock. Finally, the events which lead Kirk and Spock to renew their intimate relationship seem a little contrived: there’s a bit of a wrestling match between the two men and Spock has to fall and hit his head before they can calm down and really talk to each other. The reader is left wondering if the relationship would have ever reached a new level if Spock had managed to avoid injuring himself.

Despite these flaws, “Family Matters” does make an entertaining short story. But it could have been an even better story if the author had either ended it at the point at which young Kirk and Spock part, or else lengthened the whole thing into a novella, with a slower, more complete development of the section set aboard the Enterprise. [5]
I absolutely loved this particular story, although I was surprised by this as I’m normally not too keen on stories which assumed a relationship between Kirk and Spock prior to their being on the Enterprise. It begins with a young Spock taking medical leave on the Vega Colony (presumably after the events depicted in the first pilot The Cage). After he helps the very pregnant hospital receptionist (Aurelan Kirk) when she gets locked out of her aircar in the rain, she invites him back to her home for a meal. Spock is smitten at first sight with her young brother in law Jim who has just graduated from Starfleet Academy and is staying with Sam and Aurelan whilst waiting for his first assignment. Spock ends up staying with them. Of course, he and Kirk become firm friends very quickly and Spock (who at this point is allowing himself to experience human emotions) quickly finds himself falling in love with Kirk.

I love this way this author describes the whole Kirk family, not just Jim, but also his brother Sam and Jim’s close relationship with his nephew Michael, who already wants to follow in his Uncle’s footsteps and join Starfleet himself. In fact, she makes it clear that Spock enjoys feeling part of the whole Kirk family and there are some wonderful domestic scenes where Spock finds himself included in their activities and wishing he had a family like this one himself. Unfortunately, after just one night of passion together, Kirk realises he does not want this kind of relationship, and blames their lovemaking on his being drunk. He tells Spock he is not ready to make the same kind of commitment that Spock wants and they part company. Broken hearted, Spock returns to the Enterprise, and this incident leads to his making an important decision about his future.

The rest of the story deals with how both Kirk and Spock cope ten years later when Jim assumes command of the Enterprise and we see both of them struggling to get past their previous history together. Elise’s portrayal of how they they both try to deny their feelings is excellent as well as Jim’s efforts to renew their friendship if nothing else. How they are both forced to confront their deepest feelings and gradually realise they still love each other makes a compelling read. When events come to a head after Sam and Aurelan’s deaths on Deneva, this leads to a wonderfully written love scene. The characterisation of both Spock and Kirk is very good in this one and I found it impossible to put down once I started reading, it had such a warm and homely feel to the initial domestic setting they share which is a vivid contrast to both Kirk and Spock’s loneliness later on. Altogether a riveting and heart-warming read. [6]

References

  1. from The K/S Press #73
  2. from The K/S Press #72
  3. from The K/S Press #119
  4. from The Caffeinated Neurotic, posted December 30, 2009, accessed March 25, 2013
  5. from The K/S Press #74
  6. from The K/S Press #115 and #191