Ritual (Star Trek: TOS story by JS Cavalcante)

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: Ritual
Author(s): JS Cavalcante
Date(s): 2001
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: online here

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Ritual is a Kirk/Spock story by JS Cavalcante.

It was published in the print zine Beyond Dreams #3.

Summary

"After Tomlinsonʼs death during the Romulan attack, Kirk and Spock share a Vulcan ritual that makes Kirk aware of being tʼhyʼla to Spock, of what it means and what Spock wants for them."

Author's Comments

When I wrote “Ritual," I had this image of Spock in his darkened quarters, naked or mostly naked, with his back to us (Kirk) and with his arms outstretched. And Kirk standing there feeling both aroused and terrified—Who is this person I thought I knew? What’s he doing? And of course, he’s performing a Weird Alien Ritual.... The scene that I actually wrote is a little different, but the feeling is the same. I wrote from that feeling. I didn’t set out to write a masturbation scene, and I rather surprised myself by doing that. Of course, it’s a longish story. So as it progressed, I gave myself little challenges along the way. For example, okay, so Spock’s masturbating right in front of Kirk. In his right mind. He’s totally cool and collected. And they’re not lovers, never have been. How can he do that? Why? I went from there. And Spock’s behavior got even more surprising. I worked hard to make it plausible, though, to make it all fit. I think it succeeded, but readers have to decide for themselves. That story was really fun to do. [1]

Reactions and Reviews

I had only meant to write one LOC for the KSP, but found J.S. Cavalcante's story, "Ritual" in Beyond Dreams 3 to be so compelling that I decided to try my hand at another one. J.S. Cavalcante is SUCH a good writer—one of my very favorite K/S authors. This story starts at the very end of "Balance of Terror", but most of the story is set immediately after the episode, and is told from Kirk's POV. He is having trouble dealing with what happened, especially with the needless death of one of his crewmembers. He goes to talk with Spock, and finds him beginning a Vulcan warrior ritual from pre Reform Vulcan. The premise is that all Vulcans in Star Fleet follow the way of the warrior because of the conflict between the nonviolent ideals of Surak and serving in a military organization. Spock asks Kirk to participate in the ritual, which is considered to be an affirmation of life, and Kirk readily agrees. Kirk finds the ritual to be very strange, but beautiful and arousing, and it leads to a seduction scene in the shower. This disturbs Kirk greatly, and he spends the rest of the story trying to reconcile how he thinks he should act towards crew members with what happened with Spock, and how he feels about Spock. I promised myself I wouldn't give away the entire plot this time, so I'll stop here. This is a beautifully written story. The whole story is so atmospheric, and really emphasizes that Spock is, after all, an alien, with a different culture and a different way of thinking than humans. The scenes between Spock and Kirk are some of the most loving and erotic I've ever read. This story really stayed with me after Ifinished it.[2]
Mamma Mia.... Mamma Mia.... This was different and sizzling hot.

I read this twice in a row, because I thought it was so wonderful. J S describes Spock in glorious detail. During the most intense scene of Ritual, I felt like he was sitting right in front of me—nude no less and doing the deed of self-love—and I'm not sure that was an altogether pleasant experience. Getting heart palpitations isn't entirely enjoyable!

Seriously? Vulcans have...ah...interesting rituals! Do read this one and you'll find out!

The first few pages of the story was probably the only thing I wasnt a hundred percent impressed with. It was a bit slow, or maybe it was just that I was a little distracted. There were lots of people around me when I was reading—asking what I was reading—and things like that. But once I got past the first two pages, I was gone from the world. Don't bug me. Let me read in peace! [3]
I've added this story to my list of favorite K/S stories—4he ones I like to take out and re-read now and then. Rrst of all, the ritual itself is wonderful—a great way to make a very sexual scene still feel very Vulcan. Even though the ritual scene reads like pure fantasy, the context makes the scene believable. But great as the ritual scene is, I like the fact that the story keeps going after the ritual is over. The post-ritual part of the story felt very realistic to me. I also think ifs wonderful that "Ritual" addresses Spock's reluctance to take a life—an important issue that is often ignored both in written and aired Trek.

I do have one minor complaint. When Kirk is considering the ramifications of having a sexual relationship with Spock, he thinks of how Starfleet has "drilled into" all command candidates the notion that "if anything changes in your personal life, anything at all, you go straight to the CMO." Granted, in TOS it was established that the CMO's decisions about the captain's fitness for duty are not to be disputed. But the idea that a captain has to run right to the CMO if anything in his/her personal life changes seems like overkill to me. Are all starship captains really that fragile? Are all CMOs really that wise? Actually, this feels more like TNG, in which Starfleet sometimes seems to have an eerie "Big Brother" attitude that demands that crew members spill their guts to the ship's counselor and allow the computer to keep track of their whereabouts at all times—not the sort of atmosphere, I think, in which an independent person like James T. Kirk would flourish. It is entirely reasonable for Kirk to consult McCoy because he's a close friend who frequently gives good advice. And it would also be reasonable for Starfleet to demand that captains run to the CMO if an actual problem arises. But any change? This small part of an otherwise great story just felt wrong to me—almost as bad as if some admiral had ordered the installation of secret surveillance cameras in Kirk's quarters. (Although...! can understand why some admiral might be tempted to install the cameras!)

Anyway, despite this one problem, I really loved "Ritual" and would recommend it to any K/Ser— especially those among us who enjoy reading various authors' visions of Vulcan culture. [4]
The story takes place during and after the events in the episode, "Balance Of Terror", and concerns Kirk and Spock's coming to terms with violence and killing, and more importantly, their relationship.

Without further ado, I cannot say enough about this author's wonderful style—dear, precise, slow-paced (beautifully so), and filled with emotions. This story exemplifies all those traits and uses the backdrop of the episode to enhance the reality of the situation.

The beginning of the story with the self-destruction of the Romulan ship and the death of the crewman, Tomlinson, sets up the story so well that we are immediately drawn into Kirk's turmoil and pain. His command at this point is a burden he must bear, but soon his focus turns to Spock who is "acting out" in a strange way that Kirkdoesn't understand.

Kirk finds Spock in his quarters, kneeling with a sword laying across his lap in a ritualistic pose. Spock explains it is not ritual suicide as Kirk feared, but rather a warrior ritual from before Surak. The whole discussion of the Vulcan warrior ethics and emotions is very cool, but gets even better when Kirk is asked to participate. First, it's a brief mind-meld, but then Spock proceeds to the next part of the ritual—masturbation.

Wow—what a scene as Kirk is mesmerized (and I was, too!) by the extraordinary sight of Spock performing this ritual. I must say at this point, that J. S. writes (for my taste, my taste being best, of course) a wonderful Spock. This is a self-assured Spock, but tenuous with Kirk. He is strong, yet sensiti

Anyway, let's get back to the ritual masturbation scene. Wow. What a scene. It is shocking and sexy, and poor hapless Kirk certainly can't control himself at the sight. Do we blame him?

I laughed (appropriately so) when Kirk gets a hard-on and doesn't know what to do and Spock asks him if he'd like to participate! They take a shower together (I think I needed one after that) and Kirk still tries to fight off his arousal, but only makes it worse.

Finally, Spock suggests a solution to Kirk's dilemma -- he wants to 'assist' him. Boy . Does he ever. So right there in the shower—Spock gives Kirk a truly cosmic blow-job. The aftermath is handled so well—Kirk is sent into an emotional tailspin and has to sort it all out. Spock doesn't push things, but of course, after some angst (wonderful angst, mind you) they talk.

Then after they talk, they have sex. Great sex. In an observation lounge in front of a star-filled window. I don't mean to make slight of their verbal interactions, but they physical interactions are really great.

Ms. Cavalcante is also particularly talented in her knowledge and understanding (and the creation of) all things Vulcan. Here's another example of having a very clear vision and being able to translate it.

I sometimes try to go back to previous issues of the KSP to read what others have said about a story that I just read and LOCed. (By the way, each year Kathy Stanis compiles an LOC index detailing all the reviews of all the past year's stories—an excellent resource.) I was struck by a point that Mary Sweeney made about "Ritual" (June issue) in that she disputed the Starfleet order that a captain had to report to his CMO for any personal life changes.

I would agree with her, except that it didn't affect me as strongly as it did her. But I really enjoy reading other reviews to see how my feelings compare and how we all see such different things in each story. But everyone loved this story. Including me. [5]
I found this particular zine to be packed with great stories and this is one of the best. Beautifully written with, as the title implies, an unusual ritual as its centerpiece, this story flowed smoothly from beginning to end and once I began reading, I found it impossible to put down until the very end.

This is a "what happened after" story based on the episode "Balance of Terror". It begins with Kirk in the main weapons room where young Tomlinson met his death, a fate that nearly befell the entire crew if not for the actions of one Vulcan first officer. Kirk is in mourning not only for the loss of his crewman, but also the destruction of the Romulan ship at the hands of its Commander, someone whom Kirk feels was very much ike himself. He is also filled with regret that the destruction of the Romulan ship meant any chance of building a relationship between the Romulans and the Federation was now only a remote possibility and the two races faced years, even perhaps centuries, of misunderstandings, hostilities, and maybe even outright war. Kirk's only solace lies with the fact that Spock, sickened by the phaser coolant, wasn't witness to the destruction of so many of his distant cousins, although Kirk has no doubt the Vulcan is going to find his own role in that destruction difficult to accept. What I find most impressive in this opening sequence is the author's insight into this man's character. While during the episode we did get a glimpse of Kirk's vulnerabilities and doubts, here the author expands on those characteristics, delving deep into his psyche and giving us a much more complete picture of his humanity as opposed to the "Captain Kirk" image he must maintain in front of the crew. As the story continues, Kirk finds his concerns about Spock are soon justified when he discovers the Vulcan has logged himself off duty for the next 36 hours, an action that is highly unusual, to say the least. At first he is worried Spock might still be suffering some effects from exposure to the phaser coolant, but a quick call to McCoy soon alleviates that concern. Still the question remains why Spock, able-bodied and healthy, would take a day off and he heads to the Vulcan's quarters to find out. Once there, he finds Spock deep in an ancient Vulcan warrior ritual, a ritual Kirk is soon drawn into, with an unusual and unexpected conclusion, a conclusion that plays havoc with Kirk's personal rules of conduct when it comes to his crew. Here the author, as she does with Kirk in the opening sequence, gives the reader a chance to "see" much more of Spock than is visible in the episode, his own weaknesses and strengths, his personal conflicts between doing his duty and remaining true to Surak's teachings, all seen through the eyes of Kirk. I found this section particularly moving as Kirk strove to understand and accept not only Spock's actions, but the reasons behind them. Now faced with a situation he feels has the potential to ruin his command, Kirk's first instinct is to seek out McCoy. He soon realizes, however, an explanation would reveal too much, so he keeps his silence. But it doesn't take long for the good doctor to figure out something is wrong and he threatens medical intervention if Kirk doesn't resolve the problem himself. With little choice, Kirk heads for the Vulcan's quarters where Spock makes a request Kirk finds difficult to accept at first. He soon, however, comes to realize here is an opportunity to build a future with Spock, a future denied to Tomlinson and Angela Martine, and that what Spock was offering him wasn't "on the condition that they lived happily ever after, only on the condition that they lived now. And now was just long enough to say yes."

Definitely one of this author's best. [6]
This was a well written “moment in time piece and a follow on from the episode “Balance of Terror”. At the beginning the part where Kirk is wandering around the ship, trying to come to terms with his guilt and grief over the death of Tomlinson and the Romulans and his fears of what he would do if it was Spock who had died, is very well portrayed. When he is unable to locate Spock, and learns he has taken a day off after events in the battle with the Romulans, Kirk seeks him out and finds him participating in a strange Vulcan ritual to honour and remember the dead. The scene in Spock’s cabin was well described as was Kirk’s initial misunderstanding when he thinks Spock is trying to enact using a Japanese suicide ritual. The ritual itself was well described, as were Kirk’s reactions when he realises what is really happening and what Spock is trying to tell him without using words which acts as a catalyst for Kirk to realise his true feelings for Spock. [7]
"Ritual" by JS Cavalcante is a 29 page story which is set right when the Enterprise first meets the Romulans (I've forgotten the episode title) and Bobby Tomlinson is killed on his wedding day. Spock logs off for 36 hours and Kirk is concerned about him and goes to see him, discovering him in the midst of a Vulcan warrior ritual called ahr t'kal. Turns out to be a very interesting ritual.

The story is very griping and well written, heavy on details and feeling. It's not a grand plot with a lot of action but a story that takes place in a few days and basically explores Spock and Kirk's beginning relationship and how it happens.

The Spock in this story takes the initiative because he senses or somehow knows that Kirk will be his lover, his t'hy'la. After the warrior ritual, Kirk is faced with a problem of how to deal with Spock. And the rest of the story involves how they eventually come together. I liked it very much when Spock said, "Our relationship is ours alone. We shall shape it together." Definitely a very take-charge Spock and one I like. You know the Spock is well written when I actually pay attention to him and don't spend all my attention on my favorite, the captain. [8]
This was incredibly beautiful and sensuous without being overly gratuitous. And that's a darned hard line to draw where sexing is concerned! I'm a picky picky b*tch when it comes to my Trek fic and this is one I'm saving so I can re-read. Thanks so very much for sharing it with us! [9]

References

  1. from A 2006 Interview with J S Cavalcante
  2. from The K/S Press #57
  3. from The K/S Press #57
  4. from The K/S Press #58
  5. from The K/S Press #61
  6. from The K/S Press #96
  7. from The K/S Press #113 and reprinted in The K/S Press #189
  8. from The K/S Press #66
  9. Paige Aaron at The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive, posted September 21, 2012, accessed June 5, 2013