Pursuing Hyacinths

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: Pursuing Hyacinths
Author(s): Jenna Sinclair
Date(s): 1992
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: online here

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Pursuing Hyacinths is a Kirk/Spock story by Jenna Sinclair. It is part of the Sharing the Sunlight universe.

It was published in the print zine T'hy'la #12.

Series

Summary

"Kirkʼs problem with their melding creates problems in his relationship with Spock."

Reactions and Reviews

Kirk's inability to deal with the ramifications of the mindmeld drives a wedge in his relationship with Spock. This brings up other issues Kirk must deal with - his failure to trust his junior officers, his need for control. Well-written, with good conflicts & fine characterization. [1]
This story is based on a premise I find intensely appealing - that K&S experience profound mind-melds as a part of lovemaking. Unlike the standard K/S conflict-over-the-meld story in which Kirk can't deal with someone entering his mind, the lovers face a rest problem here: Kirk desires the profound closeness that is possible only in the meld, but is forced 10 stop because the meld causes severe sleeplessness and exhaustion.

The story has two sub-plots which I found troublesome. If I devote the bulk of this review to those difficulties. I hope the author will understand that this is not because of any failure to appreciate the story's emotional depth and intensity, the attention to the details of shipboard life, the strong secondary characters, the quality of the writing, the mutuality and realism with which the lovers face their problems. I did appreciate them, immensely- However, I must limit this or have no hope of staying within CT's word limit.

The first sub-plot concerns a Starfleet performance review that criticizes Kirk for "inattention to the proper training of the junior grade officers under his command/ The purpose of the subplot is to teach Kirk that his difficulties tolerating the meld stem from a more general problem with relinquishing control- I had several problems with this subplot.

First-and I'll be up front about my bias: I don't buy the premise In aired Trek, Kirk's biggest problem wiih his junior officers was a tendency to promote them too fast and expect too much of them. This was a theme of "The Corbomite Maneuver," the first episode filmed after the pilots, in which Kirk's mentoring of Bailey was plainly an effort by the producers to define Kirk's leadership style. Other examples followed: Stiles, Garrovick, the junior officers who accompanied Kirk on landing parties during the first two seasons. In the third season, the junior officers practically disappeared, but this was due to erosion of production values (and perhaps lack of budget for guest stars) for which it is hardly fair to blame the characters.

Second, the premise that Kirk has failed to empower his junior officers is not supported in the story, where the junior officers save the day: Ensign Shinswani spots the engine problem, Ensign Hunyady maps the movement patterns of an asteroid belt (although it confused me that she seemed to get this assignment twice, once in meeting with Spock on the planet and later from Kirk on the bridge), and Lt. Dawson figures out how to fix the matter/antimatter imbalance. The author may have intended those scenes as "lessons" to teach Kirk that his crew can do good work if he'll just let them. However, without a clear showing of the problem to which this "lesson" is the intended solution, the junior officers' performance appears less as a solution than as the absence of a problem in the first place. What exactly is the problem, then? This is where I had great difficulty with the portrayal of Kirk's command style in this story. Unlike the Kirk of the series or, for that matter, of Sharing the Sunlight, the novel to which this story is a sequel, this Kirk is a hands-off bureaucrat who works 9 to 6 and seems so inattentive to his ship that I wondered who was minding the store.

Consider the events that follow Scotty's discovery of an imbalance in the matter/antimatter mix that threatens to destroy the ship. Kirk recalls Spock from an important mission to work on the engines, but when Spock arrives, they wait for a scheduled 'briefing- before going to work. A great sex scene occurs in the meantime, but sex is less fun when you're worried the ship will blow up. We next see Kirk waking up in the wee hours, tense about Spock and the engine problem-which we still haven't seen Kirk do anything about.

Sleepless, he enters the bridge at 2 AM, where he feels "off" balance," because "he so rarely visited the second and third shift/ fill He has the startling insight that "There were other beings who contributed to the functioning of the ship during the sixteen hours that first shift was not on duty." Just then, an ensign monitoring Engineering on the bridge discovers the engines are about to go critical and calls Scotty with the news. Instead of rushing down to Engineering, as he did in similar situations in the episodes. Kirk stays on the bridge, where he is not needed, and tells Scotty, "Anything we can do from this end, let us know."

Why the transformation in Kirk-as-commander? I wonder if the answer lies, paradoxically, in the author's very commitment to realism. On the surface it seems plausible that Kirk- the ultimate hands-on leader who "knows every sound" his ship makes, might have difficulty relinquishing control But once you analyze Kirk's command style, it quickly becomes apparent that it is not, in fact, "controlling." Kirk relies not on control but on leadership: He uses motivation, example and high expectations to get the job done- He accords his subordinates a high degree of trust and autonomy (He's a healer; let him help).

What kind of command model relies on control? Bureaucracy, of course. Bureaucratic processes subject alt actions by lower-level personnel to review and approval by personnel on a higher level Bureaucrats control, from afar; leaders like Kirk inspire, from up close. It's only a hypothesis, of course, but I wondered as I read this story if the author found herself forced to fit Kirk's command style into a bureaucratic mold because, in the last analysis. Kirk's true leadership style does not really fit the story she wanted to tell. In any event. Kirk acts like a bureaucrat in many small and large ways throughout the story, for example when he reflects that it is "probably improper" for him to speak directly about the engine problem to an officer who reports to Scotty. His response to an unfavorable finding in the first draft of the performance review is similarly weak and bureaucratic: He sends a memo to one of the reviewers and hopes he'll "understand."

In the critical scene after Lt. Dawson's breakthrough, however, it is Scotty, not Kirk, who insists on checking the junior officer's readings before any acnon is taken, and Kirk who orders Dawson to "do whatever you need to do now" without waiting for Scotty. (Here Kirk finally sounds like himself again J The author explains that Scotty's behavior was really Kirk's fault because Kirk set a poor example. If so, I didn't see that example in this story, and I have never seen it on the air. In "Devil in the Dark," did Kirk tell Scotty to "evaluate the options for replacing that reactor pump and send me a memo for my approval"? Well. no.

Finally, as a device for resolution of a dramatic conflict, the lesson-by-analogy carries the inherent risk of seeming gimmicky and contrived no matter how realistic the writing. In my opinion, this would have been a much stronger story if Spock had identified Kirk's problem with control (if such there be) and the pair had faced the problem squarely—both as lovers and as Captain and First Officer-struggling, denying, arguing, but ultimately resolving it, as people do in real life, by negotiation, growth, and change. Instead, for most of the story, they simply do not communicate. A subplot in which Spock meets a Vulcan who tells him how to meld better was interesting but further short-circuited the lovers' working through the melding problem on their own.

The second subplot involves a group of radical-right colonists, the Eternists, whose dispute with another colony the Enterprise has been asked to mediate. This conflict never comes off, but I had other difficulties with the subplot.

Here again I will confess my bias. I cannot accept the notion that Federation law of the 23rd century will confer fewer civil rights on Federation citizens than present day United States law. yet that is what this story, in which the Eternists get away with their demand to deal only with "white males" asks us to accept. Even if we imagine some loophole that allows Federation colonists to discriminate, we still are left with Starfleet's discrimination by excluding Enterprise crew members from a mission because of their race and gender. In civil rights parlance, this is the "customer preference" defence to discrimination; the library computer will tell you that it was rejected soundly in the Airline Stewardess Cases of Old Earth.

It's not clear whether Starfleet ordered Kirk to accede to the Eternists' demands, but Kirk merely grumbles about them; he doesn't take a stand. But then he refuses to submit to something the Eternists call 'certification' -in effect, having given away the store, he goes to the mat over the design of the gift wrapping--and seems to expect Uhura. of all people, to admire what he's done! I had the uncomfortable feeling that Kirk wanted to avoid "certification' because it might involve "personal, prying questions" into his own relationship with Spock. Kirk seems downright terrified of the Eternists' discovering that he has a homosexual relationship-when he thinks the Eternists know about his relationship with Spock, he practically squeaks in panic. This, coupled with his disregard for the rights of his non-white-male crew members, makes Kirk appear weak and cowardly in this part of the story.

In fact it's never clear why Kirk is so reluctant to let others know that he and Spock have a sexual realtionship. This concept is told-not-seen.

Despite this critique, I appreciated the realism and fine detail of the story. I cannot praise Ms Sinclair enough for all she has done to advance the cause of good, realistisic, aired-Trek-universe, continuing relationship K/S. [2]
When I finished this story, I felt as if I should break all my pencils and put my computer out for the garbage men to haul away. How could I possibly add anything of value to K/S now that this story is in print? As a friend quite accurately said after reading it. "This story is a tour de force," and a tour de force is a hard act to follow. This novella is a sequel to the author's novel. SHARING THE SUNLIGHT. Its focus is on a conflict that develops in Kirk and Spock's nascent love relationship: Kirk's inability to meld without suffering insomnia, exhaustion and other debilitating aftereffects. For Spock. the meld is an intimacy as essential to their relationship as the physical act of love, it is part of what makes then lovers, and the prospect that it may be damaging to Kirk is profoundly disturbing. For Kirk, what is at issue is less immediately clear. Ultimately, the closeness of the meld becomes a metaphor for questions of control and independence in human relationships. The novella's suspense is built, with virtuoso skill, from the intricate interplay of emotions that this central conflict leads to. As in SHARING THE SUNLIGHT, the author succeeds brilliantly in conjuring Kirk and Spock to life on the page. The dialogue is intelligent, often moving, and always natural-sounding. The writing, if anything, surpasses that in SHARING THE SUNLIGHT in its perfectly realized images, images that resonate with feeling.... The author's handling of the complex emotional dynamics set loose in her story is the driving force that propels the story forward. The resuit is a work that is beautifully, even powerfully written, and yet, it seemed to me that PH could have been even better. I say this because of a dissatisfaction I experienced with its subplots. Each of PH's two subplots thematically mirrors the novella's examination of the human need to control. The first subplot involves an engineering problem that, as an indirect result of Kirk's hands-on command style, almost destroys the ship. This subplot satisfyingly echoes the question posed by the larger plot. And yet, I felt that the point was perhaps a bit too blunt, a bit too obvious. A more intriguing parallel was presented by the second subplot. This plot thread involved a peace-making mission to two radically opposed Federation settlements: one the home of an open, progressive scientific community, the other the home of a religious cult opposed to racial mixing and sexual equality and, presumably, to homosexuality. I thought that this situation might somehow have meaning for Kirk and Spock's personal impasse, but it was never developed. This subplot did give rise to the situation and ultimately led to the resolution of Kirk and Spock's problem, but I was left feeling somewhat frustrated that it didn't play a larger role in the resolution of the main conflict. It's a measure of just how fine a piece of writing PH is that the above criticisms seem to me to border on nit picking. This story overall is so strong, its vision into the characters' souls so penetrating, that any flaws it has seem inconsequential. I gave it an immediate place on ay list of the top ten K/S stories I've ever read. [3]
The next story I read in the STS universe deals with Kirk having trouble with accepting mind-melds—they make him sleep badly so that he cannot function properly as captain. Looking deeper, you see that he has more problems than just the mind-melds. His relation with a male after so many females gives him more difficulties than he first thought. Furthermore he is afraid of loosing control. The mind-melds are an unknown territory for him and he had to leave the lead to Spock. That frightens him terribly. When they make love, he is almost always on top. is in control.

Next to his personal problems he has a very delicate mission at hand—to set a disagreement about mining on asteroids between two groups of human colonists, one of them are the Eternists. very intolerant and hostile against non-human, non white people and females. Their remarks about Spock make Kirk rage with anger-Last but not least there is the Mid-Mission review, hanging over him as the proverbial sword of Damocles. An interim report from Komack has a lot of critical remarks about Kirk's way of training the junior officers. He doesn't give them a chance to learn from practice, because he always selected his senior officers for landing parties and emergencies on the ship. Kirk does not understand and is worried about that All those events makes him act stressed and fast infuriated.

After one of their love-makings, Kirk refuses a meld, hurting Spock with his refusal, but he cannot allow it. Spock reacts by retreating into himself. He avoids Kirk as much as possible to think things over and Kirk feels awful about that. He loves Spock so much, but he doesn't reach out for Spock. At last they make love another time, but without the meld, leaving both feeling bad. On the landing mission on the planet of the opponents of the Etemists, Spock meets another Vulcan—married, with an unbonded daughter He decides to stay for a week while the Enterprise goes to the other group, the Eternists, Reluctantly. Kirk has to agree. They have no opportunity to talk this over privately, and Kirk is jealous and hurt, only thinking about the beautiful girl and the interest Spock has shown.

Spock wants to ask the other Vulcan about the melds, if the melds he shared with Kirk are correct technically, or that there is something else he has to think about. He doesn't like it. Vulcans do not talk about those matters, and male/male bonding is very rare on Vulcan, but he will try everything to keep KirK.

In the meantime KirX has to deal with the Etemists and is deeply disgusted with them. Not wanting to talk with them, he tries to find another solution. One of his junior officers has to find a solution to predict the unpredictable coming and going of the mining asteroids between the two planets. And finally the Mid-Mission Review has arrived, with the same criticism about the training of the junior crew. Kirk misses Spock dearly and is at the same time very angry at him that he is not by his side when he needs him so badly.

Then, suddenly the problem with the engines that was there before is very urgent—there is an imbalance between the matter/antimatter which can result in the destroying of the Enterprise, and to Kirk's joy he has to get Spock back as soon as possible to help to find a solution to their problem.

When Spock is just aboard again they are so happy to see each other that they make passionate love, and Spock melds them. The meld is wonderful, but afterwards Kirk is outraged with anger. He refuses to listen to Spock. and than they have to go to a briefing with Scotty, not having time to talk about it.

A young officer, Lieutenant Dawson from Engineering, discovers what is wrong. When he and Spock try to repair it, they are injured. It makes Kirk realize that the junior officers are very capable, if given the proper support and training to deal with emergencies.

After Spock's accident Kirk has a hard time thinking and he doesn't like what he sees of himself. He knows he has to have a good talk to Spock. He visits him in Sickbay and they talk. Kirk learns from Spock why he stays with the Vulcan and he is awed—the Vulcan had shown so much of himself to a stranger, only for him. Spock explains why Kirk had trouble sleeping after their melds and that it will not happen again, because he now knows what to do.

Kirk confesses his problem with his masculine pride. To his dismay he has to confess that he didn't want the Eternists to know that he sleeps with a man, but that he, too has learned a lot about himself. He knows now, too that he has no reason to be angry at Spock for not keeping his promise not to meld. Spock has found a solution and Kirk feels bad.

Spock tries to understand Kirk, but both realizes that they can never fully understand each other, they are two individuals and even the meld can not give away their most inner turmoil and emotions. They both want to give their relationship another chance, and they make passionate love.

Jenna lets us make a very interesting journey in Kirk's mind. Reading it, you feel if you are having a mind meld with him. We watch Kirk change—all that he is learning during this mission and from Spock he tries to integrate in his personality. It is difficult but eventually he deals with it because he can look honestly to the things coming on his way, and he is honest enough to admit that he could be wrong, that he himself is changing, too.

There is much more to tell about this story. A lot more happens than I can even begin to review. It is such a fascinating story that I want to write down everything, but that is not the intention of the review.

For everyone who wants a little insight in what makes Kirk tick, this story is a must.

Warmly recommended! [4]
PURSUING HYACINTHS dares to examine the effects of indecision, what one might call “cold feet” on the K/S relationship. I’ll admit I found it especially difficult to read this story, for at times it appeared Kirk was being unnecessarily near-sighted and even cruel.

Kirk is 100% ecstatic in a meld with Spock, but when he finds himself troubled and sleepless as an after-effect, he is just plain mean and unreasonable about it. He appears to forget entirely that he had relished the experience. He comes across as so confused it gave him the appearance of someone with an unstable personality. I can never accept Kirk as unstable. But I read on. And once more I found myself completely entertained by an engineering crisis. Perhaps if I was a physicist, none of the problems encountered with the matter-antimatter mix would have made any sense. As a reader of science fiction, I found it both plausible and exciting. The suspense the author generated was most convincing! When the stars of this tale forget their troubles long enough to have a calm conversation following Spock’s injury during the crisis, they are all-forgiving and suddenly I am convinced I’m reading about the right guys again.

PURSUING HYACINTHS, in summary, was almost too convincingly realistic. [5]

References

  1. from Halliday's Zinedex
  2. from Come Together #12
  3. from The LOC Connection #46
  4. from The K/S Press #26
  5. from The K/S Press #40