The Air is the Air

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Title: The Air is the Air
Author(s): Vivian Gates
Cover Artist(s):
Date(s): the print zine is undated, but likely very late 1985
Medium: print, online
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links: online here
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover of the standalone zine -- it has no interior art

The Air is the Air is a 13-page slash story by Vivian Gates. The title comes from the episode "Amok Time."

Gates was a widely respected and prolific author, and this fic was the last she wrote before gafiating from fandom.

The standalone story was submitted to Alien Brothers, a zine that was a long time in the planning and very controversial. The editor of Alien Brothers refused to release the story back to Gates after publishing permission was revoked, and Gates published it as a standalone print zine sometime before 1986 as protest and to take some of the wind out of Alien Brother's sales.

A Complicated Publishing History

This standalone version is undated but was likely published in very late 1985.

In 1986, it was also printed with permission in both As I Do Thee 5 and Act Five #2 (supplement).

Despite the fact it had been withdrawn from Alien Brothers in October 1985, it was printed in that zine two years later, as well as being edited without permission.

In January 2011, it was posted online at The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive.

The Two Editorials

From Vivian Gates:

"The Air is the Air" is a little depressing there towards the end, but it was originally written so that the ending would be a spring-board for a sequel. Sort of a figure-out-how-to-get-Kirk-out-of-this-one challenge. I submitted it to an editor I did not know (never do that) from whom I later withdrew the story. There isn't room to go into the whole convoluted tale, but the upshot is, the editor refused to release it. I feel I have the right to do what I want with my story. What I want to do now is give it to fandom. This is free. Make any copies you want. Write sequels that get Kirk and Spock out of this situation. Pass it on or toss it in the trash. This is the last Vivian Gates story.

From the editor, Ann Carver:

The following story, 'The Air Is The Air,' is presented in its original form and as written. It is not intended as a part of Act Five and therefore no copyright applies to it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did, and will aid Vivian in her attempt to circulate it as widely as possible throughout fandom. Most of you know some, most, or all of the reasons behind the decision to circulate the story in this way. Should you wish to contact Vivian, I will be happy to forward any letters to her. It is a pleasure for the editor of Act Five to aid Vivian by helping her to get a wider circulation of her story than would be possible on her own. And it is with great regret that we lose her to fan writing. She has been the author of many fine works over the years, and she will be missed. -- The Editor


"When Kirk and Spock are captured by Klingons, Spock agrees to sex with them in order to protect Kirk, making Kirk aware of Spockʼs bisexuality and creating problems in their friendship. Sequel:Compensation/What Can Be Done."

"Finding themselves unexpectedly in the clutches of the Klingons, Kirk and Spock must devise a means of escape to warn the Federation of Klingon activity. Spock's solution to their entrapment leads to shocking revelations and a very difficult decision for Kirk."


A fan in The LOC Connection #9 writes a LoC in which she mentions that there was a "supplement" to Act 5, Scene 2, one which contained a version of The Air is the Air.

In a "hand out," the author, Vivian Gates invited fans to write a continuation of her story.

Some fans took her up on her offer.

Dovya Blacque wrote, "Compensation" which she published in As I Do Thee #5 (1986) along with a reprinted version of "The Air Is The Air". Dovya obtained permission to reprint the original story.

Another sequel is "What Can Be Done" (1987) by Sarah B. Leonard. It is in First Time #13. See that issue for a story summary.

Art: Printed in Alien Brothers

Reactions and Reviews


One short story that leaves the reader with a feeling of incompleteness is Vivian Gates' 'The Air is the Air." The story has been published twice before, and I have also seen sequels to it by other authors. In any case, it is a tightly written tale where Kirk discovers Spock's bisexuality in a situation where they are being held prisoner by two Klingon guards. Spock's sexual experience and cleverness allows them to escape, but Kirk finds this discovery about Spock very disturbing. Once back on the ship, McCoy has a frank discussion with the captain, and the reader is left with Kirk literally crying in his liquor. [1]


Whether you read the unedited version or the edited one in ALIEN BROTHERS, this story is severely flawed. In order to write these comments, I did a careful line by line comparison of both versions and didn't find any changes in the substance of the story. So what I have to say applies to both. I cannot believe that Spock wouldn't know any better than to begin discussion of his rape with the confession that he was bisexual. It's as if he deliberately wanted Kirk to misunderstand. I was glad that McCoy stated clearly that Spock was raped, but instead of focusing on Spock's need to recover, he focuses on Spock's sexuality and K/S. These are backwards priorities. Before considering whether K/S is a possibility, Spock must come to terms with his rape and realize that a bisexual man can be traumatized by rape. No one in this story seems to recognize that this is necessary. [2]


This story opens with Jim and Spock captured by Klingons. They have been drugged, and Spock, regaining consciousness first, overhears their captors discussing the prospect of sexually using them. Speck offers himself to the Klingons as a diversionary ploy to save Kirk, This rather familiar opening is merely prefatory to the story's real focus, which is the consequences for Kirk and Spock's friendship when Kirk wakes to find Spock sexually engaged with the Klingons. and Spock, after disabling the two Klingons, tells Kirk that he (Spock) is homosexual in an effort to relieve Kirk's anxiety that Spock has been traumatized. Kirk's extremely ambivalent reaction to this revelation, and Spock's s own response of emotionally distancing himself from Kirk in order to minimize the hurt of an anticipated rejection, are portrayed with relentless realism. This story lakes no concessions whatsoever to the sappy Ending No Matter What conventionality of most K/S. in that respect the story is refreshing if somewhat disturbing.

Two final comments -- First, this is one of the few stories I've seen where the title truly works to enhance the story, virtually as an integral part of it. The title, with its suggestion that certain realities are beyond our ability to change, resonates as a metaphor for the story as a whole. Secondly, one small complaint; the physical description of Spock as he is involved with the Klingons has to be the most unflattering description I have ever seen of either him or Kirk. I don't favor writing that makes them out to be Greek Gods. But, without going into the ugly details, neither did being forced to agree with the Klingon's verdict as Spock turns before then that, "You look better from the front, but not much." I just don't want to believe that Spock is as homely as he's described here! [3]


A brutal awakening to Spock’s sexuality forces Kirk to reevaluate his views and relationship with his friend and first officer, especially its comfortable and non-threatening image. Little to nothing is said about Kirk’s inability to come to terms with it, you are given that fact, but why he’s unable to accept Spock’s preference for males isn’t divulged. It might have given me a look into her version of Kirk. A lot is going on under the surface. We are more privy to Spock’s inner thoughts, feelings and reactions. One of my favourite Vivian Gates stories. [4]


This is the only version of this story authorized by the author. She had major issues with the editor she originally submitted it to [5], and the troubles over it contributed significantly to her decision to stop writing fanfiction. [6]


Yay! I'm so glad to finally see this posted! Hopefully since Dovya is now posting her stories here too online readers should be able to read the heartwarming sequel "Compensation" someday. By itself, The Air is The Air is a striking story, well-written and very original in its approach, a dramatic way of revealing Spock's truths to Kirk, but its ending is very bittersweet. It screams for a sequel, because we all want Kirk and Spock to be happy TOGETHER, so I'm glad that the first time I read it, it was in the zine that contained both it and the sequel back to back. Still, I love the directness of the writing in The Air is The Air, how human Kirk's reaction was to everything that happened, his doubts, his shock, his fear, his confusion. His decision to put his uniform back on when he and Spock went back to their shelter after their escape, for instance, told volumes about how completely off-balance he felt, about his need to bring things back on a familiar ground, one where he is in control and knows how things stand - even though he knew that whatever Spock might say his vision of his friend was be forever altered. And poor Spock, who sacrificed himself for his captain once more, and afraid that now he might lose even this precious friendship because of his actions.... I'm glad that McCoy came to shake up Jim and made him see it was actually rape that Spock endured, and forced Jim to think about his relationship with the Vulcan and what he wanted it to be. The ending looks rather dour, but putting all thoughts of the sequel's events aside, I like to think that he is crying for what happened to Spock, not because he thinks he can never return the interest Spock might have in him or that he'll always feel awkward with the Vulcan from then on, and that his decision about Spok could still go either way. Anyway, I consider this a K/S classic, and I hope a lot of people come to read it and ponder about it. [7]
Wow. I was hoping for a happy ending but it was not to be. I feel bad for both of them. It seems that they both lost something very precious from that ordeal. McCoy's insight and gentleness towards Spock's dilema and Jim's confusion was both surprising and touching. Could this be a reason Spock ended up going to Gol? I feel a bit blown away, which is a good thing. I like it when a story gives me a good hard shake. This one did just that. [8]
Sort of leaves us all up in the air, doesn't it? [9]
So sad. so sad. Poor Spock and Jim. Both of them hurting and neither can do anything about it. Beautiful story. hugs. [10]

This is really good. I can't wait till there's a sequel (there will be a sequel I hope).

As much as Jim is in denial, I suspect Spock has it much worse. It's obvious that he already feels shame and guilt over the rape. THose cruel comments the two Klingons made to him about his looks could only deepen his insecurities too. I think Spock was trying to convince himself that it was no big deal (rape) while he was trying to fool Jim into believing so too. I wouldn't be surprised if Spock has some sort of breakdown in the next part. I can't wait to read it!

Also, I believe that Jim feels profound guilt over Spock's sacrifice and about his too easy acceptance of Spock's efforts to blow off what happened. He should feel bad for both. Poor Spock! Isolated to himself after being imprisoned and raped. And it's been going on for weeks, right? More than enough time for him to be very deeply confused and doubting of himself.

I recommend this story! Thank you to the author. [11]

damn. this one hurt so much the first time I read it, it was alone with no sequel...

the sequel is nice, but always felt a little pasted-on to me -- I dunno, mebbe it's just me, but I thought this story awesomely written and complete in itself.

I've had moments like that, where you look up into your friend's eyes and realize, oh shit, this was *such* a mistake -- and you can't take it back, things are changed forever and not for the better. lost me best friend at age 12 because I got mixed up and thought he felt the same way I did.


so, yeah. awesome story, it hurts but it's the pain of truth... [12]


Fun until the total lack of resolution, omg. But I liked the bluntness. And Spock's sort of bravado. [13]
Why do you leave your stories without closure? You have great writing skills and yet leave the readers hanging!! [14]
I loved this story and you are a great writer! [15]


4/5: Tropes: Meddling McCoy, Oblivious Kirk... I wasn't sure whether to tag this as rape or simply dubious consent, because the scene in question doesn't really read in a negative manner. You can tell that Spock isn't into it at all, and yet he agreed mostly out of free will. As is often the case with older fics, there are definitely things that are very much a product of their time, but they are mostly handled much better than most other such fics that I have read. [16]

It’s really funny to me how you can so easily tell when a fic was published in [Alien Brothers] without the author’s consent, because all the other ones have a little bit of info about the author before the fic, and these ones don’t. Anyway, The Air Is The Air was originally published in As I Do Thee #5 in 1986, and you can read it on ksarchive.

In this fic, Kirk and Spock are captured by Klingons, who were about to rape both of them before Spock offered himself up to distract them so he can nerve pinch them and they can escape. Unfortunately, Jim sees the whole thing and things become awkward as they wait in their hideout on this planet for the Enterprise to come back, because now Kirk knows that Spock is bi, and oh no, what if he’s not accepting??? (Can you tell how much I hate when this shit happens? I hope so.) I don’t actually remember how this ends, but I’m doing some further background reading now and apparently Bones has to talk to Jim about it and it has an unsatisfying ending. Okay.

Honestly, could have been a lot worse. The rape scene was kinda weird cause Spock clearly wasn’t into it but also he wasn’t bothered at all? And like, he doesn’t need to be bi to offer himself up to save his captain. I have some conflicted feelings about this. Still, once again, saved by being well written and no as bad as the other fics on this list. 3/5 [17]


  1. ^ comment for the story as it appeared in Alien Brothers, from Treklink #12
  2. ^ from The LOC Connection #9
  3. ^ from The LoC Connection #34 (October 1991)
  4. ^ from The K/S Press #5
  5. ^ Alien Brothers?
  6. ^ from an ebay seller in 2007
  7. ^ ladyguenievre, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 01/24/2011
  8. ^ missfae, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 04/09/2011
  9. ^ CORGIMOM, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 01/23/2011
  10. ^ CMM, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 01/23/2011
  11. ^ Euphoracle , The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 01/25/2012
  12. ^ Greywolf the Wanderer, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 01/24/2012
  13. ^ Hypatia Kosh, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 11/22/2012
  14. ^ argona, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 09/03/2012
  15. ^ highlyillogical, The Kirk/Spock Fanfic Archive, 06/14/2012
  16. ^ K/S Fanfiction by
  17. ^ I read Alien Brothers so that you don’t have to