|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
|External Links:||Storm Tossed|
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It was published in the print zine Beyond Dreams #6 and later online.
"An injury Kirk sustains while he and Spock visit Kirk's mother at the end of the 5-year mission causes unforseen problems in their relationship."
Reactions and Reviews
I thought this was a very well written and absorbing story that kept me interested right to the end. Elise comes up with a different reason for Spock to leave for Gol, and then stay there, than I’ve ever read in a K/S story, and that isn‘t easy to do after 20 years of fan fiction. Some intense hurt/comfort and lots of angst in this one. Actually the unhappiness between the boys was a bit too drawn out for my tastes since I’m not a huge fan of prolonged anguish and heartache. But that‘s just my personal preference—I know lots of people love angst, the more the better! 
In a recent LOC of this author's previous work, I indicated that the only complaint I had was that the story was much too short and I wanted more. Well, I am happy to say that I have no such complaint to make about "Storm Tossed". This appears to be the longest story Elise has written to date, yet despite its length, I never lost interest as events unfolded, rather, I couldn't wait to turn the page to see what happened next.
This story is set near the end of the Enterprise's five year mission. Kirk and Spock are bonded and both are very happy and content with their relationship. Kirk then decides to take Spock home with him to Iowa to meet his family, specifically his mother. Upon arrival, however, they are quick to discover that Winona Kirk disapproves of Spock and the relationship he has with her son. While this creates a rather uncomfortable situation for Spock, he nevertheless is willing to tolerate her negative attitude since he certainly has no intentions of ending what he shares with Kirk, regardless of what anyone, including Kirk's mother, thinks. Then during a family get-together, disaster strikes Kirk. It only lasts a split second, but the aftereffects of that instantaneous event are long-lasting and over time, prove to be devastating to Kirk and Spock's relationship. Worse, Winona Kirk seizes the opportunity in front of her and through legal maneuvers, prevents Spock from providing the type of help he feels Kirk needs to recover. Her efforts, aimed at isolating Kirk from Spock, are not successful, but those efforts add to the already strained relationship between the two. Spock, still holding out hope that he and Kirk can salvage what they once had, travels to Gol to procure the aid of a healer to reassure himself that he can safely meld with Kirk, something he has been afraid to do since the accident. It proves to be a time-consuming task and unbeknownst to Spock, Kirk becomes convinced the Vulcan is never coming back. When Spock finally completes his task and is ready to depart, he receives some unexpected news that turns his world and everything he thought he knew about his relationship with Kirk upside down. He realizes that returning to his bond mate's side is now an impossibility, so he makes the only choice left to him: to stay at Gol and achieve the Kolinar.
It is at this point in the story where events unfold as portrayed in the novelization of ST:TMP. With Spock long gone, Kirk marries Lori Ciani and settles into his new life as husband and Chief of Operations. His relationship with Lori, however, quickly sours because as much as he would like to deny it, his heart belongs to Spock. Alone once again, he seeks comfort and solace from the one person in his life he feels still loves him - his mother. It is only after a heart-to-heart talk with her on the family farm that her reasons for her disapproval of his relationship with Spock are revealed. While there, he also uncovers a small mystery involving Lori, one which he quickly dismisses as unimportant. Soon he leaves his childhood home, determined to travel to Vulcan and get his once and future bond mate back. His efforts, however, prove fruitless as he learns that Spock is now forever beyond his reach.
The story then moves forward from Spock's return to the Enterprise as seen in ST:TMP to where the crisis with VGer is over. With the mission complete, Kirk calls Spock to his quarters, determined to find out why Spock left him. It is only then that he discovers the reason Spock chose to remain at Gol was linked directly to that seemingly unimportant mystery he had discovered while on the farm, a mystery that he soon realizes was not so irrelevant as he had assumed, rather, it was a deliberate attempt by his former wife to forever destroy his relationship with Spock. Once the truth is brought to light, any doubts that either of them had regarding building a new future together are quickly banished and the healing of all those unseen wounds can begin.This is, in my opinion, this author's best work to date. Given the sheer length of the story and all that happens to Kirk and Spock, it takes a master hand to keep the reader interested enough to keep turning the pages and the author accomplishes this with ease. The only minor (and I mean minor) complaint that I have is that there are a few times when Spock says something that is just a little out of character for me. This behavior, however, can easily explained away by the fact that he is bonded with Kirk and as a result, he is much more in touch with his human side. At no time, however, did I fail to recognize the Spock in this story as the Spock I see in TOS and the movies and her depiction of Kirk (and McCoy) was just perfect. This author has done her homework when it comes to learning what makes these characters tick and it really comes through in this story. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 
What a great opening scene! Spock joins Kirk on the observation deck in a way that sets a tone of warmth and comforting familiarity. I am mesmerized by the way Spock casually lays his hand on Kirk's shoulder to bring him out of his reverie. It takes talent to convey the serenity of a relationship so quickly and with so few words. These are two people completely comfortable with each other and I am hopelessly hooked!
They talk of the stars and the ship, with the Vulcan gently teasing his Captain. Quietly changing the subject, Kirk asks Spock if recent repairs will last. Spock believes so, but assures Kirk that he can go back in and re-do them if necessary. The way that Kirk replies rivets my attention and acknowledges everything I know of these men from the original series. "It's a dangerous procedure—I don't like the idea of you going back in there."
How can such innocuous words say so much? Am I crazy or does this one line of dialogue speak volumes about how Kirk feels about his First Officer? Kirk isn't weak or sappy, he isn't begging or ordering that Spock not place himself in danger. He only says, matter of factly, without using the words, "I love you, you know."
The five year mission ends and I am reading of Kirk's first meeting with Lori Ciani and holding my breath. I do not like Lori, as history tells me she manipulated Kirk and held his love for Spock in contempt. But wait, Kirk is telling her he isn't interested in her attempted seduction. He says there is someone else in his life, someone he loves very much. What a scene! It is fine with me at this point if Ms. Madrid chooses to rewrite history.
I should learn to be careful what I wish for. This will be an alternate history, but one as fraught with pain and loss as any we have imagined before. It isn't my intention here to relate the entire storyline, but I must tell you that at the halfway point I felt as storm tossed as any of the characters. My mind was begging for the pain to stop, for the betrayal and the subterfuge to end, for Kirk and Spock to regain their lives together.
This is a story of Gol, which we cannot seem to escape. But here the whole long period of agony was not inevitable, but engineered by conniving, misguided, uncaring people—primarily Lori Ciani. The description of the grief that both men must bear is almost too well done by this author. It makes me very uncomfortable, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, and page by page wishing for a solution.
The solution comes in the same V'Ger disguise that we remember. The arrival of Spock on the bridge of the Enterprise, using exactly the same dialogue as the movie, is so much more powerful than the original. We know that Kirk is frozen in place not only because he never expected to see Spock again, but because he believes Spock betrayed him. Even believing this, he wants this man, his former bondmate, back in his life as he has never wanted anything. He tries to be gentle, to put all of his love into a few words when he tells Spock, "Welcome aboard." But he cannot keep the irony, the bitter flavor of loss from his words.
Later, with the ship safe and the infamous sickbay reunion behind them, we see deeply into Kirk's psyche as he contemplates the next step in his future—the most important step he will ever take. He wants to talk with Spock, and yet he fears it with all his being. As long as he remains where he is, there is still a chance that Spock will come back to him, remain with him, return his love. Hope lives. But once this conversation takes place, if it goes awry, hope will be irretrievably lost. This is a terrifying moment. More so by light years than the threat of V'Ger.
The conversation cannot be delayed forever, and when it takes place it is well worth the anticipation and apprehension that preceded it. Finally the horrible, unbelievable truth is revealed, shocking both men to their very core. They struggle with every possible emotion, rage over having been cheated of so much time, excitement at being together again, lust bom of three years of loneliness and ultimately a love much greater than the universe that attempted to destroy them.Masterful. 
I thought this was the best story in the zine. I usually like Elise’s stories and this was no exception. It takes place after the end of the five year mission. Kirk and Spock are determined to stay together and continue their adventures in space, in spite of opposition from Starfleet who seem intent on separating them at all costs. This is really a story of how even the strongest relationship can succumb to outside pressure. Kirk’s accident while visiting his mother is a catalyst for events that follow, including Winona’s attempts to disrupt their relationship (which she disapproves of) as well as Kirk’s own problems as a result of the accident, which all combine to force Jim and Spock apart.
While Jim struggles to overcome the effects of being struck by lightning, including memory loss, difficulty with concentration etc he sinks into depression. Elise really makes us feel sympathy for Kirk at this time, and his confusion and depression are well portrayed, as is Spock’s increasing concern for his bondmate. His growing inability to resist the temptation to reach out for Jim mentally, something which he thinks might be dangerous, is reinforced by Jim’s mother’s very strong ideas on how her son should be treated, which leads to her taking drastic measures to reduce Spock’s influence on Jim and stop him from mind melding with her son, something which she is very opposed to.
Spock’s anguish at their rapidly deteriorating relationship is very well described, as is Jim’s feelings of betrayal when Spock leaves to visit Vulcan to consult a healer there and he stays away much longer than he expected. The scene when Spock is due to leave Vulcan and then receives devastating news regarding Jim is both convincing and heart wrenching to read as is the inevitable decision he makes as a result of this. Meanwhile Kirk’s growing belief that Spock will not be coming back ultimately leads to his relationship with Lori which pleases his mother more than it does him. Equally intense is her portrayal of Kirk’s confrontation with Amanda who blames him for Spock’s withdrawal to Gol.The results of the encounter with V’ger are a welcome conclusion to a wonderful emotional roller coaster of a story, which is highly entertaining, well paced and thoroughly enjoyable. It is also one of the most original and realistic explanations of why Spock went to Gol and chose to become a disciple of Kolinahr. I never really liked the idea of Jim Kirk getting married (for obvious reasons!) and Elise does a good job of making us dislike Lori more than ever. Her actions, when finally revealed and the depths she was willing to sink to in order to get Jim for herself are very well described as is Spock’s devastation when he also learns what really happened and how they were manipulated into being separated from each other. 
I'm torn about this novella, and can't say if I really, really liked it or not. I'm a bit undecided, because parts of it had me gnawing my teeth in frustration and anger at the characters and the circumstances. I was pissed with Spock, I was pissed with Kirk, and I was pissed with Lori, but most of all I was pissed with Winona Kirk. I was so angry with her at times, I had to put the zine down and go do something else. If that was the author's intention, she succeeded admirably. I really loathed Winona. She seemed very self-absorbed, rigid and callous to me. Selfish. Even after reading the beautiful scene with her and Kirk toward the end of the story, I kept feeling like "This is not the same person that was portrayed in the beginning of the story." I think the author should have made her less of a bitch in the beginning and maybe less open, and seem to have a little more trouble opening up in the end. The Winona of the first half of the story didn't quite mesh with the Winona of the second half. Apart from that, I thought the story was well crafted, language wise. And parts of the plot was skilfully woven together, the way Lori was introduced at the beginning was like a bomb thrown into the mix and I went "Uh, oh, here's a warning of things to come if I ever saw one."
Parts of the story were so beautifully written that I had to stop and re-read sections over and over again, because I couldn't get over the poetic way she wrote some things. Here's an example of something I thought was beautiful. (There are many more such passages) On page 157 of the zine:
"And he'd never imagined that all this time his mother thought she was saving him from spending the rest of his life with an albatross around his neck. She had lived in his father's shadow and welcomed the shade. He supposed there was no other way for her to see Spock, but in the same light. It had never occurred to her that the Vulcan might just shine in a light she couldn’t see. There had been no shadows between him and Spock."
On the other hand, when it came to pure execution of the story, there were a few things that struck me as either out of character or not well founded enough for it to work.
First of all, I can't believe that Spock didn't even try to talk to a healer about Kirk's accident. Yes, he researched it on the 'net, and he talked to McCoy about it, but why didn't he contact a Vulcan healer for advice? I mean, even if Winona Kirk refused to let said healer help Kirk, Spock should have at least talked to one. That bugged me throughout the story. This made Spock seem stupid—and Spock may be a lot of things, but he's not stupid. Yes, he was also affected by the bond, but not substantially enough to make such an obvious thing slip through his mind, and even if that were the case, it wouldn't have slipped past McCoy, for he was unaffected by the tearing of the bond.
Second. Why doesn't it even cross Spock's mind that the tearing of the bond could have actually aggravated Kirk's condition after he was struck by the lightning? That would also be one of the first things that occurred to me if I were in the same situation. Okay that Winona, again, would not let Spock actually do anything about it, but the thought doesn't even occur to Spock. If it did, I completely missed it, and that was another thing about the story and the characterization that grated on me. Third. If Kirk were well enough to be Chief of Operations at Starfleet headquarters, he would be well enough to make decisions for himself. For Winona to be elected as the guardian of Kirk he would virtually have to be a vegetable—at least in my mind. That plot point also kind of disturbed me. The thought I had was that they only used Kirk as a figurehead, but that wasn't quite clear enough in the story, I think, and even that idea sounds implausible to me.
On a small side note: one little detail that I found very perceptive and that lent realism to the whole story was how the author described how difficult it was for Spock and Kirk to discuss things over subspace because of a three-minute delay. That was very realistic and a minor detail that I don't think I've come across in any other K/S story. Not that I've noted consciously anyway. Fourth objection: Kirk was so utterly angry with McCoy for bringing up Spock when they met again that he hit McCoy, and yet only a couple of hours later, he seems content sitting on the couch at his mother's place, talking calmly about Spock. The jump between Kirk's mood with McCoy and later with Winona was jarring. McCoy's been nothing but supportive and trying to get Spock and Kirk back together, whereas Winona has done everything in her power to keep Kirk earthbound. Yes, she's his mother and for that he might forgive her a lot, but I still think his reactions don’t quite ring true, at least not in my mind. During that scene, which was beautiful because it did show a special love between mother and son although a bit sudden, I wished the author could have spent some time allowing Kirk to relay his first meeting with Spock to his mother. When that scene 'faded to black' I was a wee bit disappointed. I would have loved to read the scene in this story. I think the interweaving between TOS and TMP was beautifully done, despite the above objections. The story was utterly well crafted, and I did suspend disbelief and told myself to ignore these objections as I read through the story. It is the best I've read by Elize Madrid so far. It's brimming with emotion and although I had a big black hole in my chest for the better part of reading it because it was so angsty, it's very good.
Thankfully, the end encompassed just enough comfort to make up for all the hurt. It didn't feel as though they managed to solve all the troubles between them too quickly.
I did feel some other things were too quickly brushed past, though. One was the canon scene in sickbay where Kirk and Spock finally connected again. It would have been interesting to read that scene as well through the eyes of this author. What was Kirk thinking? How was he feeling about seeing Spock lie there? Another thing I wanted to know was what went through Kirk's mind as Spock was out floating in space inside V'Ger, long before they had settled their differences. That must have been hell, and it wasn't even mentioned in the story. The whole tale kind of led up to the TMP movie and once there, the author brushed past the canon events so quickly, and wrote only the scene when they first met in any detail. I know that we've all seen the movie more than once, but key elements of it would have been interesting to see in the author's light after Kirk and Spock had suffered so much from being apart for so long.So in the end, I think my major complaint about this story is that it should have been twice as long and that some things could have been elaborated on and explained better. "Storm Tossed" could easily have stood to be a novel, and it could easily have stood to have some more comfort after so many pages of hurt. The writing was absolutely superb and poetic in many sequences, but...but...well. 
I admire this writer's writing much, flawless writing without missteps that makes for smooth reading, so you can just be into the story. Of course, being a writer, yes, I do pay attention to the writing also. Here, I feel the balance of it is nice, such as of dialogue and narrative. And the flow and progression of the plot is unhurried but not tedious. These characters deserve language that lives up to their stature, and the language in this story is fitting—many expressive words and turns of phrase; Elise seems to be tapped into a very poetic dictionary or something. And it's no small task to write with the kind of subtlety she does, angst without being over-the-top.
Then, I really liked that the story is about problems due to Kirk's mother really not approving of their relationship (or so it seems). She is a more fleshed-out character in this story, as to her motivations, etc. There was this awkward tension in that scenario of family disapproval, just as it should be. Kind of makes me sick to my stomach. It its so terrible when you feel there is no way out but to walk away, that your best efforts to convince someone of your lightness are lost on them. Kirk and Spock are in a painful dilemma here, when Kirk is injured and Winona Kirk takes over.
And then, even better, I realized at one point this story was an explanation of Spock's going to Gol. I do really like when this scenario, with all its unanswered questions, is explained in a unique, creative way. She covers everything Lori Ciana, etc.—and the terrible turn their relationship took that c a u s e d Spock's leaving.I read this story in a number of sittings and without taking notes, so this LOC isn't as complete as it would otherwise be, when I would make note of specific passages, etc. But I certainly know without notes that it's a great story, especially if you're in the mood for some frustrated sadness with a most satisfying ending, with lovely sex, too.