Full Circle (Star Trek: TOS story by Killashandra)
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
|External Links:||on An Archive of Our Own; and Killa's fiction page on The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive|
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It was first posted online in 1997. It also appeared in the K/S slash anthology Th'y'la 20.
"Full Circle" and its prequel, Turning Point are classics that continue to be read by succeeding waves of new fans discovering K/S slash on the internet. Also, it was mentioned and linked to in the Salon.com article Gay "Trek" in 2001.
Many fans cite them as the story that introduced them to K/S fiction and/or slash in general. One fan writes: "Whatever K/S one reads first does have a lasting impact on the person. It's interesting nowdays that that first story for the folks coming to K/S on-line is Killashandra's "Turning Point"... that first certainly seems to hold a place in one's heart." 
A fan remembers: "... oh happy day, my dearly beloved bought a modem and I discovered the joys of browsing the web... Before long I was avidly reading the fan fiction posted on the Alt.startrek.creative groups. There isn't much K/S up there, or even TOS gen fan fiction. Fortunately for the TOS fans, writers such Killashandra and several others have posted some superb stories. Killashandra's Turning Point was one of the first K/S stories I read, and though I've read many K/S stories since then, "Turning Point" remains one of my favorites." 
Another fan points out that two of Killa's seminal stories, while influential, were simply following along a great path of K/S history: "Thank you for your review of Killashandra's "Turning Point" and ""Full Circle." While I appreciate the impact these stories have had on web fandom, you also need to realize that K/S encompasses 23 years of material, literally thousands of stories from hundreds of authors. There are many seminal stories and authors in this group, many of which set some of the conventions and style types we work with today. In fact the range is so large that there literally schools of conventions (such as the bond-mates-die-at-the-same-time school, the Spock-as-introvert school, the bond-as- guaranteed-monogamy school) and styles (hurt/comfort, comedic, PWP, action-adventure- romance, etc.) So, while Killa's vision and style are welcome in the mix, she's not likely to have as profound an impact on those of us who have read more widely and have had other conversion experiences." 
"Spock has left Starfeelt, left Kirk, for Gol. And Admiral Kirk, Chief of Starfleet Operations, is slowly falling apart. When the V'Ger crisis brings them back together, they must find some way to go on..."
Reactions and Reviews
Typical breast-beating as Kirk & Spock torture themselves each thinking the other doesn't want them. This one takes place after V'Ger, and has good Kirk-Lori scenes where she stays with him though he can't love her enough. Revolves around Spock excising their bond when he goes to Gol, thinking Kirk didn't want it and won't know it's gone, but actually damaging Kirk. 
Stories that made me most want to injure Lori Ciani, severely: Judy Gran's "Terminus" and Killa's "Full Circle"--I mean, damn, I actually had managed to avoid learning about this Ciani person, having ignored ST 1 as best I could, and here the woman is, horning her way into Kirk's life in both stories, distracting him from the man he belongs with. The good news was that both authors had the decency and common sense to link Spock and Kirk together tightly and well, the way they're meant to be. Yippee. 
Killashandra's work -- especially Turning Point, originally published on the 'Net in 1995, and Full Circle, copyright 1997 -- have had an effect on web Treksmut fandom that is difficult to overestimate. I guess that the majority of people who got interested in K/S via the web are here because reading "Turning Point" was a conversion experience.
It's not just the "Oh my gosh, I'm not the only one who sees their relationship that way" feeling. What Killa did is prove, by demonstration, that there is no limit to how good K/S (or fan fiction) can get. She has raised the bar all the way. We can no longer say: "It's only fan fiction," or "It's only Star Trek."
I'm a professional book reviewer, and it is my professional opinion that the 80,000-word novel made up of these two stories is the best piece of erotic fiction ever written in English. One reason for my high opinion is that every sexual act in the story is both maximally sexy *and* important to the plot, the plot being development of the characters. There is almost no other plot; very little noncanonical "happens" except inside the character's heads. Yet none of the sex scenes is there just "for fun" (NOT that there's anything wrong with that): the sex is there as part of their psychology. It is sex with a purpose, while being some of the hottest stuff ever written. It's supremely hot because everything the guys do is foreplay, and then when the moment comes each touch, every kiss, is profoundly significant.
On the web "Turning Point" and its sequel have set the standards. The things Killa does are things we all, on some level, try to do. Killa's use of language is without peer, but her example at least gives us something to aim at. And a whole generation has been infected with her goal: unflinching emotional truth. It's a style that allows, sometimes wallows in, angst, but I don't think of it as h/c because the hurts do not come from external sources. All wounds are self-inflicted.
Some specific things Killa does have become part of web K/S convention. "Full Circle," for instance, is deeply engaged with canon -- much of it is interstitial to "ST:TMP." I know I am not the only person who now has great difficulty seeing that movie except through Killa's eyes. Killa also has the habit of taking her titles from popular songs and using them as epigraphs, which is common practice on the web.
There are also things Killa does *not* do that have influenced web K/S. In none of her stories are the words "I love you" the turning point. The feelings, oh definitely yes, but the words tend to be used, if at all, long after the first time they have sex. She also never uses adjectives of size to describe genitals, which I find a boon -- there's nothing like a 9.6 inch erection to spoil the mood for me (stay away from me with that thing!).
And if there is a happy ending, it's not unadulterated. Kirk and Spock come to their relationship from pain and grief, and they know that there will be pain and grief in their future. Their happiness, their love, is mortal, and so is both bitter and sweet.It gives the story a weight, a heft: like life. 
It's hard to find words to describe how much I admire this story, which is beautifully written in the author's unique and enviable style. It is, quite simply, a joy to read. From the point at which Kirk and Spock renew their relationship following the V'Ger incident, the story attains - and sustains - a deliciously painful emotional pitch. This intensity of feeling, together with unobtrusive and yet remarkably vivid descriptions of the settings, made the events seem so real that at times I felt I was there. The entire scene in the old church in New Orleans comes immediately to mind in that regard. At no time while reading that section was I aware of being "shown" where Kirk and Spock were or what they were feeling. Instead it was as though I were seeing everything through their eyes and experiencing what they felt. I believe the author accomplishes this because at its best, each and every word of her prose carries weight Though undeniably lyrical, it does not merely flow, but rather is propelled by a skilled use of verbs and is never held back by excess adjectives. Just wonderful stuff!
When it comes to "filling in the blanks" from ST:TMP, I found Killashandras version of Kirk's ill-fated marriage to Lori Ciani to be among the most compelling and believable I've read. I don't always find it easy to accept that such a marriage took place at all, but it fits perfectly with the events of this story and very effectively illuminates Kirk's state of mind during his separation from Spock. I do feel that the story covers an awful lot of ground in the early sections, and I didn't always have a clear sense of the passage of several years between Spock's arrival on Vulcan and his return to the Enterprise. However, that certainly did not prevent me from enjoying the events following that return!Thanks to the author for yet another unforgettable K/S reading experience. 
“Full Circle” is Killashandra’s sequel to “Turning Point,” and, as always, this author is a joy to read. She presents us here with a wonderful version of Kirk’s and Spock’s reunion. She also does a good job of blending her vision of the Star Trek universe as portrayed in “Turning Point” with various scenes from ST:TMP, and she does it in a way which makes the scenes from the movie seem fresh and new. Killashandra has a lovely habit of adding the sort of details to her descriptions which can make a story really accessible: “He padded down the hallway and into the living room, and when he got there he looked out the great bay window and realized what the quiet meant. It was snowing.” Further description of the snowfall follows (six inches deep, everything “cloaked in white”, etc.), but, it was that added little fact—that it was quiet—which catapulted me into memories of similar snowfalls, when I’ve noticed the strange, muffling effect of a blanket of new snow. Similarly, we learn that Spock’s “...first breath of Earth air in three years smelled like the sea.” That single piece of information immediately called up memories of what it’s like to be close to the sea and made me feel as if I were really there beside Spock, experiencing it with him. I think what makes these descriptions so effective is the strong connection between the physical setting and the senses of the character in that setting; this technique really helps the reader get into the mood of the scene.
In the LOC I wrote for “Turning Point” (KSP 11/97), I said that Killashandra’s poetic style and the exotic setting she chose for that tale combined to produce an almost hypnotic effect. In “Full Circle” she recreates the same sort of magical atmosphere when our heroes enter a former church which is “a bizarre confection of Byzantine, Gothic, and Romanesque architecture.” It is the perfect setting for what follows: beautiful, spiritual, solemn, timeless, and surrealistic. I also liked the way the author addressed the political concerns back on Earth. Often, in aired Trek and in pro and fan writing, it seems as if the whole culture begins and ends with Starfleet. I think science fiction and fantasy work best when one has the sense that a large, complex world exists beyond the micro- culture of a story’s main characters.Nothing is perfect, however, and I do have one criticism of this story. As M.E. Carter observed (KSP 02/99), the initial sections cover an awful lot of ground. As I read them I felt as if I was jumping through time in fits and starts; a few sections read almost like summaries. I think a little bit of additional background would have helped to bridge some of the gaps in time and flesh out the summarized sections. Maybe it’s just that I’m a hopeless Spock fan, fascinated by all things Vulcan, but I would have especially enjoyed reading a bit more about Spock’s time at Gol. From the little we see, it’s hard to understand how he ever thought he could have gotten over Jim, yet, there must have been some time when he (and, presumably, his Vulcan Masters) thought he was making progress toward Kolinahr. Otherwise, how did he ever get to the point where he was about to join minds with T’Sai and accept the symbol of his achievement? Ah well: maybe in another story? 
After raising such a stink about how Killashandra left me after Turning Point, I am certainly obliged (and of course I want) to LOC this story. This is a long, slow coming-back-together for Kirk and Spock after the particularly painful separation, and it's a satisfying exploration of everything that had sent them their separate ways in the previous story. Beautiful writing; though I have to say (since it takes one to know one) that poetics—even gorgeous poetics—can get in the way of just feeling what's happening in a story.
But besides the writing being lovely, this story also has a wonderful level of drama in the pain and suffering Kirk and Spock have both gone through and then go through together...so that finally, the resolution feels so good. Kirk has been miserable—worse then miserable, because of the spontaneous bonding having been broken by Spock, unbeknownst to Kirk. Spock has been equally miserable, failing at Gol to purge himself of his feelings for Kirk. So much misunderstanding. So much wasted time because each didn't understand what the other wanted. Nor was their self- understanding really up to par. The time was not really wasted, though, because without this dark period of separation they wouldn't have come to the understanding they finally do come to. So, the story covers Kirk's Admiralty job, and his marriage to Lori; the nightmares and panic attacks he has, and finally Lori's realizing his feelings for Spock, not her. A great scene, this, when she witnesses him having an erotic dream of Spock...and eventually she makes her exit. And Kirk can never really let go, can't cry. The story has a great set-up for the beginning of STTMP. Kirk is just about at the limits of his endurance...and then comes the V'ger emergency to save his sanity. And all the dialogue of the movie is repeated here with a whole different feel, having been built on this K/S premise we've gotten in this story and the previous one. And then their coming together again...nice and slow. A lot of really nice details along with a continuing story of what goes on with them and Starfleet after the events we saw in STTMP. And lots of self-revelation; so many issues they have to work out—love, trust, give, take, who hurt who, etc. For one thing, Kirk is pissed that Spock would break the bond, that he had the power to. Here's just one line I adored: Command wants Kirk to be the Starfleet Federation Council Representative and to give the Enterprise to Spock. But Kirk puts it right out there and says to them: I will not be out of transporter range of Commander Spock. Way to go, Kirk. Ah, and then they go to New Orleans again. A long, slow, seductive scene with so much sensual atmosphere. Walking, talking about important, deep, close things...and a kiss—and sudden rain—and ducking into old stone doorway and kissing passionately. And then a great, long, drawn-out sex scene. Needful quick passion at first, then nice long pages of foreplay and sex. But still there is resistance, still more psychological trips to explore. But finally...in their joined minds finally there is joy without the darkness.Plus cool things about how they got the Enterprise back. 
I write here to discuss only a single aspect of both works [Full Circle and Courts of Honor]: the theme of the reintegration of the hero into society.
Syn Ferguson has said that in Courts of Honor, she wrote against the traditional myth of the hero-of- privilege, the hero who leaves society, goes off into the wilderness, slays the dragon, and returns. The problem is, what does the hero do when he returns? How does he become part of society again--and can he? In TOS, Kirk is of course the hero-of-privilege, the ship’s five year mission his quest in the wilderness. Both Courts of Honor and “Full Circle” are about what happens to Kirk when he returns to Earth. Of course, both the fans and the producers of TOS have always understood that Kirk’s return to society from the five-year mission is intensely problematic. Roddenberry gave us his own (male) version of the returning hero who cannot adjust to society, and fans have responded with an outpouring of stories about Kirk’s Unhappy Admiral phase. Killashandra’s “Turning Point”/”Full Circle” sequence stays close to the canon version of the “Unhappy Admiral” phase but transforms it and in the process, radically transforms Kirk as well. In “Turning Point,” Kirk’s loss of his ship propels him into a sexual encounter with Spock. The result is a bond that he cannot, a least initially, integrate into his identity as hero-of-privilege. “Full Circle” is a story of how the bond with Spock changes Kirk and heals the losses he endured at the beginning of “Turning Point.” It is also a story of how Kirk finally achieves successful reintegration into society. “Full Circle” is rich in social context and connections, from Kirk’s relationships with the Enterprise crew to Lori Ciani’s family to the Starfleet admirals and even the media. At the end of the story, Kirk and Spock have integrated their bonding into their careers in Starfleet. Who among us didn’t cheer when Kirk told the admirals that he would not accept a posting that took him out of transporter range of Spock? While Courts of Honor doesn’t deal with the Unhappy Admiral phase, the last part of the novel is about Kirk’s and the Enterprise’s return from their heroic mission in the Ochros system. The premise of Syn’s novel is that Kirk can’t become bonded to Spock without changing, without surrendering his hero-of-privilege status in favor of an irrevocable binding of his fate to Spock’s. By the time the Enterprise returns to Earth, Kirk has already experienced this fundamental change. The last part of the novel poses squarely the problem of the hero’s reintegration into society, in Kirk’s court-martial for disobeying orders. During the trial, Kirk’s “community”--the family of the ship, Spock’s friends on Vulcan--pitch in and work behind the scenes to assure a successful result. Kirk wins not because he knows how to save himself--he doesn’t--but because he is part of a supportive community that takes responsibility to rescue him. The theme of Kirk’s reintegration into the community is only one of the forms the theme of inclusion/exclusion takes throughout the novel.
The theme was woven into the fabric of the novel and took climactic form in each of the three decisive “arena” scenes: the bull-leaping scene in the bullring; the High Court; and the court-martial itself. Those three scenes are like a deep movement within the novel: from inclusion to exclusion and back to inclusion again. In the court-martial scene, Starfleet seeks to exclude Kirk from the “community” of the fleet for disobeying orders. The court-martial panel sides with Kirk, decides that he had acted “in the spirit” of his commission, and rejects the self-satisfied claim of Harnum and the higher echelons of Starfleet to a monopoly of virtue because they obeyed authority and regulation and followed the proper chain of command. But the panel does more than declare Kirk the winner. By reminding its audience of their higher duty to the Federation, they chart a course back inside the community for everyone, by reminding them that all Starfleet officers have a duty to the principles of the Federation that ultimately transcends even their duty to obey orders and regulations. This shared commitment to the values of the Federation becomes the foundation of a new community in which Kirk, his crew and his bonded partner can truly be included. The court-martial section of the novel isn’t perfect for me, and I don’t think Syn was fully satisfied with it either. Kirk presents his defense in the form of a long-winded speech that Syn has called a “spirit door” through which the old Kirk--the hero of privilege, not the Kirk who has been transformed by his bonding to Spock--emerges like the cavalry coming over the hill. I feel it would have been much stronger if the themes in Kirk’s speech had been the foundation of a coherent trial strategy. Whether deliberately or not on the author’s part, the speech posed a Major Constitutional Question--whether a military commander may refuse to carry out orders that conflict with Federation Council policy. I wish that question had been integral to Kirk’s defense rather than tacked on at the end.But still, this part of the novel is a tremendous achievement, in my opinion, because it accomplishes what so few other works of fan fiction have done. Like “Full Circle,” it doesn’t stop with the bonding, it goes on to show the two men as members of society, as officers whose relationship with Starfleet is not just an uneasy truce, as participants in the shared values and experience of a supportive community. 
A beautiful story. I know I wasn't the only one to e-mail Killa when Turning Point appeared, asking for some closure for the characters. Here it is. 
I simply cannot find the words, without quoting many more passages of this stunning drama, this compelling love story, to tell you what these two interlinked writings do for me. They are quintessential K/S and quite possibly the most entertaining and completely believable adaptation of the missing three years between TOS and STTMP ever written. 
I love this story, although only slightly less than the "Turning Point", which is my favourite of the two. This story has more plot and is set around the action of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. There is more angst in this story but I love the ending and the return to New Orleans is a sensual delight for the reader. 
This story had to be written. Had to. Because in “Turning Point”, one of the warmest and most glowing K/S encounters ever written splintered before our eyes, driving Kirk to the Admiralty and Spock to Gol. Each consigned to his own private hell.
There are no gaps between the two stories. This one opens as Spock arrives on Vulcan to face the rigors of Kohlinar only to first face his father. It is admirable that Sarek tries to dissuade his son, especially when we learn it is at Kirk’s urging. But Spock believes to the depth of his soul that he has committed a grievous wrong whose only solution lies at Gol. Kirk. Ah, Kirk. I feel his misery as if it were my own. “He might as well have been an amputee, struggling along, pretending the missing limb didn't change anything, hoping that pretending would make it true. In the course of a week, he had lost everything that mattered to him.” If you are a reader who likes everything upbeat and optimistic, at this point you may want to put down “Full Circle”. I would not advise such action. It is my opinion that we must be taken on this abysmal journey with both men, must walk in their shoes before we can fully appreciate what lies ahead. I don’t know that anyone has ever captured the depth of Kirk’s depression during Spock’s absence as well as Killa has done here. There is paragraph after paragraph describing the suffocating panic attacks he suffers, the way he drives himself through the endless days, work his only refuge. In one particular scene in his apartment, he has begun to brew tea even though he hates tea. It reminds him of Spock. But the memory does not console him, it nearly destroys him: “He almost did cry, then. But the feeling of impending tears was too much like suffocating, and his body rebelled, refused to let go. Finally there was only the hard knot in his chest, the tight ache in his throat. He sank down to the cold tile, wrapped his arms around his knees and sat there until morning.”
Kirk’s doomed marriage to Lori is well-depicted and filled with the anguish that he endures in trying to be what he should be as a husband when he is consumed with grief at losing Spock. My rambling about the impact of this author’s insight would be superfluous. It simply must be read to be appreciated.
Finally, the fateful day arrives. Spock has achieved all but the final step of Kohlinar and stands ready to receive the symbol of all-consuming logic, the step that will allow him to deny Kirk’s existence and the existence of their love for all time. “As he had a thousand times in the past, he made the denial a weapon against the longing and need. He turned his face to the sky, did not look to the west, to where the light of a small and unremarkable yellow star could sometimes be seen. It was a test. As he had a thousand times, he conquered the compulsion; he did not look. But in that moment of perfect concentration, that wrenching effort of will, in his desperation to make it true, Spock unknowingly stripped his naked soul bare to the universe, and touched a vast and kindred loneliness...”
And we know the rest. Or do we?
As I stated in my Roundtable, it is only this and other K/S accounts of the events of The Motion Picture that give it credibility and substance. When Spock steps onto the bridge of the Enterprise now, I can see beyond the woodenness with which they meet again. If only it were possible that the director could have read this version of what occurred during their separation. I wish Kirk’s “Welcome aboard” had been breathless and whispered and that he had lowered his head to shelter the crew from the staggering emotions raging through him at that moment. The events of TMP are fully explored and expanded from this point on and would be well worth the read on their own. But TMP is only the beginning.
It is their re-acquaintance – behind the scenes and following their return to earth - that sets this story apart. There is such intensity of emotion, such powerful forces of devotion and passion! I ask myself if love this all- consuming could possibly exist in reality. Then I remember: this isn’t reality and anything at all is possible. And believable. Perhaps because I want so much to believe. Their first kiss is a vortex dragging them into passionate oblivion – until it all goes terrifyingly wrong. The reader is thrown completely off-guard along with the characters as Kirk succumbs to the worst panic attack he has known. As they talk it through, a thoroughly frightened Spock realizes Kirk has suffered the debilitating effects of a broken bonding link for all these many months. This is an engrossing scene that shows the reader what it has cost both men.
The return of Kirk and Spock to New Orleans, to mend their ragged past and stitch together their future, is incomparable. The wind, the weather, the locale, the incendiary passion, the fear of failure and the infallible hope all come together to create a bittersweet, soul- satisfying and far from simple reunion.If there is a single detail or descriptive phrase missing from “Full Circle” I cannot imagine what it is. There is Kirk’s declaration to Komack that he doesn’t intend to be separated from Spock. There is the discovery of a photograph taken years before that makes Kirk realize he was in love with his first officer even then – knowledge that shakes him to his core. And there is, finally, the incandescent affirmation that love conquers all. 
Now let me preface these recs by saying that everything Killa writes is so fabulous that she should be elevated to the level of fanfic goddess, but this series is my personal favorite. I think I've read "Full Circle" at least five times, lol. Such a good read. "Turning Point" takes place at the end of the first five year mission, and "Full Circle" takes place just before, during and directly after ST:TMP. I think I'm going to go reread them again after I finish this post. 
- Turning Point rec post on crack-van LiveJournal community, dated 9/01/2004; accessed 8/24/2010.
- from The K/S Press #27
- from The K/S Press #13
- from The K/S Press #33
- from Halliday's Zinedex
- comment by Raku at alt.startrek.creative, January 1998
- by Mary Ellen Curtin, originally in a 1999 issue of The K/S Press, posted to alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated in April 1999, see On "Turning Point" and "Full Circle" for reactions to this fan's comments
- from The K/S Press #30
- from The K/S Press #32
- from The K/S Press #32
- from The K/S Press #33, in an LoC which compares the themes of Full Circle and Courts of Honor
- 2002 rec by Predatrix
- the last paragraph of a much, much longer review of both stories in The K/S Press #69
- Madrigal's Fanfiction Recs: Star Trek: The Original Series., Archived version (2004)
- from The K/S Press #116
- from The Caffeinated Neurotic, posted December 30, 2009, accessed March 25, 2013