In the Dark
- You may be looking for the In The Dark Series.
|Title:||In the Dark|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine T'hy'la #16.
"Cupid & Psyche Retold. Kirk is left as sacrifice to “gods” but is taken by Spock as a companion."
Reactions and Reviews
[In the Dark]: Okay, J.S., this is driving me nuts. What fairy tale is it that this story kept making me think of? I think actually that it was two or three different ones, but I can't quite put my untrustworthy memory around any specifics.
Well. Another A/U story, of sorts, which is really weird - l almost never read them and here I am LOCing [one] of them. But very few K/S stories have grabbed me so thoroughly with the first sentence and held on tight the way this one did. (The Need for Stars comes close!) I think it was the fairy tale quality that did it-only no fairy tale ever gave us the indulgent pleasure of letting us see the story through the eyes of the princess!
In this case, it’s Kirk who's the princess. (If you can imagine that!) A mischievous, teenaged, virginal Kirk from a primitive Earth, held prisoner in the proverbial tower in the proverbial castle under the proverbial enchantment! And Spock is the prince, under an 'enchantment' himself. Well, I wouldn't have been able to imagine it either, but the beautiful, flawless unfolding of the story drew me in in spite of myself. It was nothing like I expected from the title. Doesn't it sound like a stuck-in-a-cave story?
There were many beautiful things about this story to revel in, first among them the delightfully innocent-yet-wise characterization of the boy Kirk, as he tries to find a way out of his enchantment. I loved that dogged, Kirk-like determination. The characterization of the boy Spock took a little longer to win me over, but win me over he did. Because of the 'enchantment' (don't want to give too much away) he remains largely a mystery to Kirk, and I must confess that I was hungering for more details about this oddly different Spock even as the boy Kirk was.
The fairy tale imagery was a delight in its completeness, and in its constant surprises. A force field becomes an 'invisible magic shield.' Complete right down to the breaking of the spell, and the consequences. Loved also the fairy tale language. The boy Kirk asks Spock, "What would you of me? Ask it."
And how about this part: ' "...forgive me; I guess I am not making much sense."
He chuckled softly. "You are making perfect sense.
That is, for a man who is falling in love."
I had not considered that. "Is that what I'm doing?"
"It would seem so," Spock said, and his voice trembled, as though it could not contain his joy.'So perfect, that in the end it is James Kirk's facility with words that saves the day. And without giving it away, I absolutely loved the very last paragraphs. 
As others have noted there are numerous parallels to the myth of Cupid and Psyche here, but I also see parallels to the tale of Zeus and Ganymede in this story. Kirk is Ganymede, the beautiful youth who is removed from his mortal life and taken to the realm of the Gods, I was reminded of Ganymede when Kirk thought that Spock's semen tasted like ambrosia, The ancient Greek Gods of Olympus drank ambrosia and Ganymede was their cupbearer. Kirk's returning to Vulcan with Spock is parallel to Ganymede's remaining on Olympus and becoming immortal, I did find Kirk's extreme innocence difficult to accept. I can't believe that any Kirk would know so little about sexuality. I've always felt that the strength of Kirk's libido would have impelled him to be sexually active at an early age. It also bothered me that Spock took advantage of Kirk's ignorance, When Kirk comes, apparently for the first time in his life, he says that Spock can't be mortal because no mortal could have done such a thing to him. Spock didn't bother to tell Kirk that any mortal might have engendered such a reaction in Kirk. Failing to tell him this is deception in not an outright lie, it makes Kirk psychologically dependent on Spock because he truly believes that Spock is the only being who can give an orgasm. I thought that this was outrageously unethical behavior on Spock's part and it was hard for me to believe that any Spock would do that. 
This author, truly possessive of such extraordinary talent, brings this lyrical, dramatic and delicate story to life. From the first line of "He is night," JS takes us on a journey of romance and excitement all wrapped in a cloak of mythology. This mythical quality is woven carefully throughout the story, giving it a timeless, classic tone without sacrificing intimacy.
The myth of Cupid and Psyche is only the starting point for this beautiful story. The strength of language, alone, makes this just soar. The images, the dialogue, the atmosphere are all so vivid and so gorgeous, I was swept off my feet.
And even more extraordinary, in terms of our K/S needs, the characters of Kirk and Spock are not lost in the poetry or the mythical feeling. They are strongly portrayed and easily recognizable.
Kirk is as Kirkian as can be, albeit in the guise of a young, innocent fisherman. Spock is the sensuous, mysterious Vulcan we know, he in the form of an ersatz god.
The characters are so well defined, that every moment, every thought and every expression remain true to their own personal background. As an example, when Kirk realizes he is securely tied to the rocks, he imagines; "I was caught like a perch in a net". Or when Spock approaches him: "And the voice, soft as a moist sea wind, sweet as woodsmoke, whispered, 'Do not be afraid."
[snipped for length]
Kirk, as I said before, is definitely the Kirk we know and love. He continues to explore the castle, refuses to be a victim and is determined, despite any warnings or dangers, to know his mysterious, dark captor. Kirk is perfectly suited to be the one who defies everything to eventually become the master of his own fate.
Spock, too, is clearly defined. This is a Vulcan of deep mystery and power—a dark, brooding, sensuous Vulcan. My kind of guy. When Kirk questions him about his attraction to women, Spock observes: 'It is not that I cannot feel desire for them [women], but that I desire you more. You do not realize what a being of exquisite perfection you are. And this ignorance is one of your charms." This leads to one of my favorite moments when Kirk catches sight of himself in a mirror and doesn't realize at first that it's himself.
And then there's the sex.
I am and shall remain unapologetic in my response to a story replete with some damn fine hot sex. Take a look at this: "When I broke away to breathe, his hot breath tickled my ear. 'But James, do feel what is there.... One large, strong hand enclosed mine again and guided it downward." And then: "I realized he was laughing softly into my ear. 'James, you like this,' he accused gently. 'I - I do not know...' My head swam. His fingers on me were like tiny flames, heating me without burning. 'Relax, James,' he commanded. 'Your body knows better than you what is good."
And, the coup de grace: "I stopped the motion of my hands. 'I want you to do it,' I said again, I cupped his heavy testicles in my hand. 'Plant the seed of the gods within me.' He moaned in to my open lips. 'You shall drink of it. Take me into your mouth as I did with you."
Are you thrashing around on the carpet, yet?
I noticed one small, missed opportunity. I agree that Vulcan twin-ridges don't have to be canon. But as Kirk explores Spock's body in the dark and wonders if he's human or monster or god, it seems to me that could have been the moment he discovered one essential difference. I would have enjoyed seeing Kirk's reaction to that. The decision not to include this physical difference was curious because there seemed to be a build-up to when Kirk finally touches "it."
Here's an example of how rich in detail this story is, in just one sentence: "The rest of the day seemed unusually long, even though it was still winter." We learn Kirk is anxious about the coming night and Spock's visit and that the days are short because of the season and that the time passes quickly for Kirk because there's so much to explore.
Speaking of Kirk, I was struck by how resourceful he is in his ability to make a homemade lamp!
Again, I am impressed with a title. Titles are so important. They tell the reader what's expected from the story, set the tone and often explain inner meanings. "In The Dark" expresses the image of the darkness that surrounds Kirk, The dark is also comforting, as well as defining his aloneness. Being in the dark also means the threatened removal of his memories. Darkness is woven throughout the story and makes a major impact on the characters, almost becoming an entity itself.
As Kirk transitions from boy to man, the story shifts in tone from fantasy to a more realistic style. This really works well.
I also loved the explanation of the name of Vulcan. When Kirk tells Spock it's the word for "fire-god" - Spock likes it and decides to adopt the name."ln The Dark" is one of the most beautiful, haunting, well-written K/S stories I've ever read. 
How much better can I say it, than that this is a wonderful story. A beautiful journey lyrically written. I loved this story; and I also will pick at a thing or two. If I wanted to find something that wasn't splendidly perfect lor me, I would say that it's somewhat difficult to really feel I am reading Kirk when he is in such a different guise, particularly as a young teenage or 20-ish man in a completely alternate setting. Spock is Spock (usually), but Kirk without his ship and crew or something similar, without a purpose beyond his own concerns, is difficult fof me to relate to—except, of course, as a beautiful and true young man who would stir a Vulcan's heart, and isn't that enough after all? For this story it is. Then when I think about it more I feel that Kirk's personality traits all come through—his resourcefulness, curiosity, go-aheadness, etc.; and later in the story, his driving personality definitely is expressed, as he must relate with alien others and convince them he should get what he thinks is right.
At first I thought this could be in B.C. times or other early centuries, but then books and porcelain are mentioned, so it's later, I love this premise, that the myths and legends of our earlier people were based on visits by ET's. I like imagining this is indeed so. I know this story is based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche, but I don't even remember the gist of that myth, and I didn't think of it at all as I read this. Did the author assume readers would relate to the story in a certain way because of having the myth in mind? If so, I didn't, and this seems just fine.
Aside from the fascinating premise and well-told tale, this is a beautiful love story. The first-person Kirk is a pleasure. He is a young man in a village, who is sacrificed to appease the god/s of Vulcan Mountain. I love that "Vulcan" is the name joc, ages ago, gave the people of 3 Eridani 4 or whatever it's called, and they liked it and use it whan dealing with us.
James is kept by the wayward half-human son of the mountain god, who only comes to him in the dark James must not see his companion or know anything about him. James is an innocent, and is treated with the utmost kindness, and soon there is a kiss, soon there is love.,.. And soon he is given his lover's name, Spock. I love the moments of James' confusion about his companion being a "lover of men," rethinking what little he knows about such people, finding himself m this very category.
Every moment, every movement, of their lovemaking is luscious.
All of the story up to here is slow, leisurely, drawn out. done In a style that feels like a fable. Then, things start moving faster; and I like this contrast between the first and second parts, it turns into a sci-fi story, having to do with James unwittingly messing up the Vulcans' noninterference directive; escape and capture; and the resolution, an eloquent plea by James and Spock that they should be together.And so it is.... The last paragraph is utterly perfect. I have my own personal story about this story: the first time, it was read aloud (not in male voices unfortunately) one gray afternoon as I lounged on the couch, and I drifted off a couple times. It was really quite pleasant, dreamlike—this was a perfect story for that. 
Rather than playing ad CD speed, this very intriguing story plays at a lower, more languid 33 and 1/3 pace. Eminently suitable for this retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth.
I really admire how this author sets the time and place in her stories. The reader is never left wondering where the characters are on in what surrounds they find themselves. Time transitions are handled equally deftly. The language flows effortlessly, and is both lyrical and precise, I always feel this writer chooses her words carefully, and her ability as a sword smith is one of her strongest assets. The first line t'He is night."lis perfect, immediately creating a mysterious mood, and hooking the reader.
I did, however, have a small problem with Kirk's characterization. Even though he knows he is not to blame for the evils that beset his village, he does not rail against those that bind him, does not resist in any way, even though he fully expects to be killed to appease the god. He even dozes while he is waiting for the "Monster" to devour him. The Jim Kirk I know, in whatever guise and however young, would never have accepted being offered up for sacrifice so easily. The one characteristic of Kirk that I most admire is that he is a fighter, he never believes in the no-win scenario. Of course by the end of the story we see the emergence of all those traits (his curiosity, bravery, resourcefulness, etc.) that make him the man he is. but they are noticeably lacking here. Even given the fact that the major theme of the story is Kirk's development from boy to man, and what he learns about himself on the way, this seemed unlike him.
This bring up another point. Just how old is Kirk at the beginning of the story? Is he fifteen? Eighteen? Twenty? Just a phrase of two would have clarified this, and made his innocence all the more believable.
Also during their lovemaking. Kirk caresses Spock's penis, holds it in his mouth. Doesn't he notice anything..unusual? No frals? No double ridges? Nothing? Not a major problem, but if did momentarily take me out of the story, and the omissions seemed unnecessary since by that time Kirk has already noted several of Spock's biological differences.
This last point is one I hesitate to bring up except I know this author cares passionately about the language, as do I, and since it's inconceivable to me that she would make mistakes in grammar or usage, I was curious as to shy so many possessive nouns didn't have proper apostrophes, At first I thought this was a way of showing Kirk's dialect, youth, etc., but then in other places it's done correctly, including at least one sentence where they are used both correctly and incorrectly, Was there a reason for this I missed?
I do appreciate the way the author modified her style so that the story really does have the texture of an ancient myth. Not an easy thing to do. And it was certainly different. Not the usual K/S fare by any means. I love to see us stretch ourselves in our writing this way.All in all, "In the Dark" is another intriguing, imaginative, and enjoyable story from on of fandom's best authors. I look forward to reading many more. 
This faultlessly executed K/S tale is written in the manner of myth and legend, in dense, richly-textured prose without a single false note. The text would be at home in the Thousand and One Nights and other classics of fable, folk tale, and epic story-telling. So accomplished is the writing that the story shades almost imperceptibly from saga to science fiction—a truly seamless welding of the two genres. The story evokes brilliantly some archetypal themes of legend and fairytale, e.g. the hero (heroine?) imprisoned in a remote castle or tower from which no escape is possible. The episode with the lamp, with its allegorical and numinous overtones, is especially wonderful. The lamp also nicely evoked The Paradise Syndrome" and the Kirk of the series. However, I would have liked a stronger Kirk throughout this stoiy-to counterbalance the older, experienced and sophisticated Spock; to prepare for and justify the important decisions Kirk makes at the end; and simply to be more Kirkish. It wasn't necessary to the story that Kirk be a misfit in his own society, someone who was not particularly loved or valued even by his own family. To the contrary, the story would have been stronger and more poignant had Kirk been a more powerful character, and if he had left behind a family, friends and community that with whom he had closer ties. And, while I found this story's "external" style to be absolutely appropriate to its genre, it would not have been amiss to hear just a little about the meaning to Kirk, and other members of his community, of becoming a human sacrifice to appease the gods. Was the sacrifice supposed to feel honored for having been chosen? It would have made for a more Kirkish hero had Kirk been chosen as a sacrifice for his valued qualities, rather than, as the story suggests, because he wasn't much good for anything else.
It was a nice touch that the cultural paraphernalia of the story-names, religion, artifacts-did not, collectively, "fit" any one place or time in Earth's history. The effect was to place the tale firmly in the realm of legend.In sum: a strikingly original and effective story and a tour de force. 
- from The K/S Press #6
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