The Missing Piece

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For articles with a similar title, see Missing Pieces.

K/S Fanfiction
Title: The Missing Piece
Author(s): Kathy Stanis
Date(s): 1994
Length: 41 pages
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
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The Missing Piece is a K/S story by Kathy Stanis.

It was published in the print zine First Time #40.

Summary

From the publisher: "An unpleasant experience with a former lover causes Spock to hesitate as he and Kirk move closer to becoming lovers themselves, and then Spock starts receiving messages over his computer from an unknown source."

Excerpt

"Spock was rock-steady and comforting as a pillow. Anxiety began to lift away and float out the turbolift vents and Kirk's breathing normalized, but he felt the pulsing of his own heart in his hands clutching the Vulcan's arm so desperately. He could not let go; he did not want to, not yet. His vision was filled with blue so close. The blue that always stood between him and danger. The blue that made him feel not so alone. "Jim. He lifted his eyes slowly to meet the deep, dark gaze and he felt embraced by it, enveloped, protected. And privileged, to be the captain of this particular first officer. He thought it the most fulfilling relationship anyone could ever desire. Almost.")

Reactions and Reviews

A wonderful, wonderful story, and my favorite (so far) of the many fine stories this author has written.

The plot: Spock is haunted by a voice from his past time at Starfleet Academy when he experimented with discovering his human half. What happened in the past threatens his emerging sexual relationship with Kirk, and is gradually revealed during his present research into the x'avor'm, a psionic enhancer. (Neat name, by the way.)

This is a very intriguing idea, and could have been more fully explored. I would have liked them to find the thing and deal with it in some way, or perhaps I just like all the loose ends tied up in neat little knots. Perhaps, this idea could furnish a sequel?

The writing is more direct, more immediate than in many of Kathy's stories yet still retains that flowing, lyrical quality that tells you here is someone that can make the language sing, dance and do tricks. I very much like the way she is attempting to pare down her writing to essentials.

So many beautiful passages! I particularly like this one when Kirk ruminates about Spock on the bridge: MHe stared at the soft angles and strong curves and sinking down into the depths; and he stirred them with words and touches, with his eyes and his mouth and his hands, until Spock lay beneath him melting in the heat of volcanic passion, melting around the edges so Kirk could ease himself in." Wow! How's that for painting a word picture?

I loved the way the author laid down her clues one tantalizing piece at a time. Masterful!...

Loved the holoview, the forerunner of the holodeck. Descriptions were so vividly portrayed I felt I was seeing everything first-hand. (Classic Trek gave us holodeck technology in one of the animated episodes long before it showed up on Next Gen, and I enjoyed this view of it here.)

And now finally we come (sorry) to the sex scene. (Yes, I know there was more than one, but after that one who noticed.) Suffice it to say that Spock and the straps had me baying at the moon!

A superior story! Thank you for the gift, Kathy. [1]
Spock's "desire to experiment with human ways" gets him into trouble as he tangles with one of the sexiest bad guys around, Evan Larsen. This involvement and eventual haunting from the past, is developed perfectly as we see Spock in his younger years crave that emotional connection to another. It's a wonderfully effective dark past with excellent believability as to why Spock would desire someone like Evan. And, in addition, their relationship was so clearly defined that it completely justified Spock's turmoil later in his life.

Before I go any farther, I must comment on some of the sex scenes between Spock and Evan. I do not think I have the words to describe the sex with those leather straps. All I can say is that when those straps were applied in those places, I fell on the floor. writhing in abandon. Good thing I wasn't in public.

But wait, there's more! Spock grabs Evan's hair and "pressed his throbbing organ against the human's large hand, and pressed his mouth against the generous, firm lips." Is it getting hot in here? And I love it when Evan smoothly calls Spock 'babe'.

So much seamless writing as we go from the present time to memory flashbacks just at the right moments. This is very well-structured with not one misstep or any confusion.

It was very neatly done as Kirk looks at Spock on the bridge and finds himself sliding into a sexual daydream. That's my guy!

There's such electricity between them when they meet that night. I especially enjoyed Spock telling Kirk that he looked 'more strikingly handsome than I have ever seen you" and then thinks: "Except naked." !

There are a number of wonderfully inventive ideas including expertly described botanical gardens on board the ship. I felt as sense of wonder from its realistic portrayal.

But truly, one of the best ideas was the "holoview", a forerunner of the holodeck and new to the Enterprise. The scene where Kirk and Spock "enjoy it" is fun and romantic. Spock changing the scenes like a guy with a TV remote control was priceless.

And beyond all the vivid and imaginative environment is an intimate, moment-to-moment scene as Kirk and Spock emotionally dance with each other. The wonderful language and intense emotion bring this scene to life. When they first kissed, I melted.

I also so appreciate descriptions of feelings that are references to alien and future things instead of only contemporary Earth as we know it- Such as: "a quizzical human look made the Vulcan feel as transparent as an Argoan glass-fish."

Then it's so amusing when they're in the turbolift and Spock warns Kirk "to exit this turbolift without an erection" and Kirk accuses him of having one, too. At which point Spock deadpans: 'You are mistaken. This is,., my natural state." So Spockian!

There are so many little touches and nuances that enhanced this story. Such as when Kirk gets some soup from the servo, he asks for "number ninety-four slash Vee" and then orders "a grilled cheese sandwich' for himself. Of course, neither got to eat anything...

An occasional difficulty in the writing marred only a few moments. This is when the author turns too cerebral at moments of emotion. An example of this distancing the reader occurs just as they grab each other in a passionate embrace. Spock, realizing they are moving too fast and feels that he must pull away. "The quelling of panic intruded on the Vulcan's consideration of the ramifications of his desire to absent himself from a situation which required more delicacy than he felt capable of."

I know this is Spock's point-of-view so this is how he'd intellectually describe his feelings, but it doesn't work in the immediacy of the moment. It's interesting that then it goes right back to the direct route with "He could not even think clearly."

And sometimes the writing is a little too complicated than necessary such as: "A flash on his monitor pulled his vision from inner outward" instead of just "caught his attention".

There's an interesting meteor field sequence, although I question whether Kirk would stop during the height of a dangerous and tense situation to check out Spock's body. Although, I probably would have....

After Spock leaves Kirk practically in the throes of passion, "He [Kirk] flopped onto the bed to keep his feet from heading toward the Vulcan's quarters." The use of the word "flopped" is especially immediate and visual. Also, in reference to Spock's dilemma: "Restlessness assailed him. He had accomplished nothing." Such strong writing.

One of this author's many strengths is vivid emotional imagery such as: "The voice behind him felt like Eridani's summer heat against Spock's neck." And this description of that sexy bad guy: "Evan was two meters of overt intimidation, when he wanted to be ' There's lots of good shipboard stuff (that's the technical term) like "Astrogation."

One of the flashback scenes, where Evan walks out on an aroused Spock is especially powerful and memorable in its portrayal of Spock's pain. But even at the same time, it's quite sexy. So when Spock finally dominates Evan, it's completely understandable and even justified.

Kirk's response to hearing about the rape incident was very well done and had erotic side-effects on him. When Spock finally sees Evan on the monitor he "...saw the same dead ice in the eyes he had always seen and foolishly thought he could thaw."

There's a dramatic love-making ending that moves faster and faster taking the reader along for the ride.

What a well-written and superior story. [2]
Intriguing premise here of a Vulcan virtual reality-type weapon that can enhance mental abilities so that in the wrong hands and knowing how to use it, one could kill with a thought. A very chilling prospect. The one saving grace is the 'key' component to this instrument (the 'missing piece' of the title). While doing research on this Subject, anonymous notes pop up on Spock's computer screen, some warning him to drop the research. It turns out the person transmitting these messages is an old acquaintance of Spock's with a grudge. Sorely tempted as I am to relate how he and Spock are connected and the consequences of this. I won't. It's a mystery as well as a K/S story and I hate givino away the plot. Read it for yourselves and find out. All I will say is that I was surprised to find myself rethinking my reactions on the subject of Kirk or Spock forcing sex on another person. That is one thing I find very hard to forgive and even less to justify. But not this one. What am I rambling about? Read the story! [3]
I absolutely loved this long story even though reading it for the first time was, well... maddening, to an extent. That's because the author set UP a very tender, very slowly developing first-time scenario, and then deliberately kept making us wait for the conclusion while she presented a most compelling mystery in flashback. Which she presented in installments, so we had to wait for the mystery to unravel, too. In fact, it was so maddening that I did something I almost never do: I skipped ahead to read two of the flashback sections in sequence, because the tension got to me and I just couldn't bear it anymore! The mystery, by the way, is simply this: What happened in Spock's past that made him afraid to become Jim Kirk's lover in the present? Because this is a new zine, and I realize many CT readers may not have gotten to it yet, I'm not going to give away the mystery. It's too much fun to spoil. If you have more patience than I did, try to read the story in linear fashion; it'll be well worth it.

While reading this story for the first time, I was never sure if I felt the author was "pulling a fast one" on the reader by keeping Kirk and Spock from resolving their situation for so long, but I do know I was dying to find out what was bothering Spock. I think she came very close to going too far with the suspense; the main thread of the story moved more slowly than the flashback sections. But never mind. After I gave in and looked ahead, I was fine, and I went back and read through the section in order.

Two things I had problems with: First, the x'svor'm, supposedly a Vulcan psychic enhancer, was totally uncalled for in this story. It was mentioned as though it was going to actually play a part in the plot, but it really didn t. It should have been left out entirely. The story was really about how Kirk and Spock's relationship was affected by Spock's past. The x'avor'm should have been edited out and the 'villain" given a different reason for being where he was. The problem is that the x'svor'm, a most intriguing device, is too intriguing. It is a "smoking gun," which never gets fired. The item that attracts the villain in this story should have been something of lesser importance, something we didn't leave the story wondering about. Either that, or this story should have been fleshed out to novel length and the x'svor'm plot developed, and the smoking gun fired. I understood the double meaning of 'the missing piece," of course, but it's out of place here, because the missing piece of the x'avor'm isn't found in this story. This handy Vulcan item could certainly drive another story, and I hope the author uses it in future. Second gripe, and this one is minor. In the first flashback scene, I liked Evan. It's a great scene, by the way. But in the next scene and all subsequent ones including him, he is different: darker, tortured. I love this facet of the character also, but the two didn't seem to have any relation to each other. When I reread that first flashback, I noticed several clues that should have tipped me off, and didn't. There are aspects of S pock's behavior, too, that are not made obvious enough in the flashbacks. The solution, I think, would have been to write just one more flashback, between the first and the second, that would bridge them, creating a smooth transition so that neither character's behavior in subsequent flashbacks would be a surprise. The author gave us barely enough, in the flashbacks, to make Spock's behavior believable. But it was just enough, for me, and that's a tribute to the emotional power of those scenes. I ached along with Spock.

So don't get me wrong. I happily went along for the entire ride, and I'll bet other K/Sers will too. Besides the edge-of-your-seat suspense, this story is chock full of truly romantic moments in Kathy's trademark poetic language, with some passages that fairly took my breath away....

And lots of original, compelling images: "maybe it would be better ... if he made Spock take a good, long look in a hazel-hued mirror" and "They opened their eyes to the soft darkness of a moonlit night over an ocean sparkling like black champagne." Folks, there is tots of this great stuff throughout this long story.

The author also uses repetition brilliantly. "Spock's voice did not sound normal to him" appears at the beginning of most if not ell of the flashbacks, and it was most effective. Kathy pulls off an amazing feat of characterization in those scenes as well as the present-time scenes with Kirk: Spock is in such straits but still, always, so Vulcan. And I loved Kirk's character, too: he displayed such maturity and patience-traits the Kirk of the series displayed all the time, but which are few and far between in much of K/S fiction.

Finally, the story includes some of the tenderest. sweetest moments between Kirk and Spock that I have read, as well as some outrageously hot sex scenes. The author more than satisfies one of my pet K/S fetishes--that ol making Spock say 'fuck," believably. (Say it again, Spock . . . J And some of Spock's thoughts about sex, about his body, are unbearably beautiful such as his description of his cock: "a beautiful thing with a life of its own and it was meant to be thrusting ecstatically inside someone." (Poor Spock. I'd solve that problem for you if I could, honey,!)

As for the darker parts of the story, Kathy proves once again that she can take any old taboo and wrestle it to the ground easily. And hog tie it. [4]
In a way, it is almost a waste—or at least, an embarrassment of riches-that this story has a "real plot" because if ever there was a story of a developing K/S sexual relationship that deserves to stand on it own, this would be it. Paradoxically, the multitude of plotless first-timers and the dearth of "gradually developing sexual relationship" stories has created a context in which a developing relationship story that succeeds as brilliantly as this one does—without jump-starting the sexual relationship in any way—makes me want to stop, relish and celebrate that achievement without the distraction of an additional story line. It's irrational, I know, but it seemed almost unfair somehow for such a superb story of the beginning of the sexual relationship to be buried in a story that is primarily about something else.

I'll get to the plot eventually, but first things first. This is one of the most effective portrayals of what it's like to fall in love that I've ever read, and certainly the most effective account of what it would be like for Kirk and Spock to fall in love. The author captures wonderfully the aching anticipation, the body's singing with desire, the longing to merge with the beloved and so much else that the lovers' experience came fully alive for me. Ms. Stanis' prose is vital and immediate. She is always there, right in the center of her characters' experience, and that is exactly where she places the reader. Her Kirk and Spock are so in tune, so aware of each other in the mutual acknowledgement of desire that they seem almost co-conspirators in the decision to become lovers. This is the Kirk and Spock who "anticipate each other to death." I must say I find this vastly more realistic than the more typical first time story in which each is in love with the other but has no idea how the other feels. Certainly Kirk and Spock are close enough to know better.

The developing relationship takes place against the background of Spock's search for the "missing piece" of the x'avor'm, an ancient Vulcan psionic enhancer, and is clouded by the shadow of a relationship and a guilty experience from Spock's past. The two subplots were meant, I think, to fuse at (he end, but this didn't happen as successfully as I feel it should. The situation set up by the author had much more potential than was actually used, I thought. The story would have been more successful had there been more suspense and jeopardy in the search for the piece of the x'avor'm, and if Evan's interest in the x'avor'm had been more developed. I wanted the search for the x'avor'm to lead Spock inevitably to Evan, so that the closer Spock got to the x'avor'm the closer he got to Evan and to the events of his past. What if both Spock and Evan were searching, independently of each other, for the missing piece of the Vulcan device and met at the point of discovery? What if Spock became aware of a "mystery searcher" whose efforts paralleled his own, and discovered his identity only when they had both found the missing piece? What if Spock were to find it, only to learn that it was in Evan's possession or that Evan was about to appropriate it?

For Spock to save the "missing piece" from Evan and restore the "wholeness" of the x'avor'm would have helped resolve the conflict from his past and would have been a resonant parallel with the achievement of "wholeness" in his relationship with Kirk. However, the search for the x'avor'm dissolved into incidental importance to the story of Spock's re-encounter with his past once Spock began to receive the "mystery messages" (which weren't much of a mystery) and it turned out that Evan had deliberately been tracking Spock. Rather than the two subplots merging in the end, which would have been satisfying dramatically, the search for Evan simply superseded the search for the missing piece. In the end, not enough happened in the story to justify the author's and reader's investment in the search for the x'avor'm.

The flashback scenes with Evan were powerfully written. However, although I read what Spock said about the reasons for his guilt, I didn't come away with a strong sense of shock or horror; I didn't/eW what Spock said he felt and what he tried to convey to Kirk. Why? Perhaps because Evan was so utterly cruel, manipulative and domineering that in the end, I found it hard to feel that Spock did him any injustice. True, lack of consent is always wrong, but Evan's abominable behavior toward Spock was not exactly based on consent, either.

I felt the real problem in Spock's past was not so much the event that is the focus of this story but the nature of the relationship within which that event occurred. Yes, Evan was a sick person, but Spock's relationship with him was also sick. The most serious question raised by this story is not why Spock did what he did to Evan, but why he became involved in such a dysfunctional relationship in the first place. I'm not sure this story satisfactorily resolves that issue or shows us how Spock overcame the emotional weaknesses shown in the flashback scenes.

Ultimately, however, these questions and problems are a tribute to the complexity and challenge of this story. Because of Ms. Stanis' matchless prose and unerring characterization, it's a breathtakingly good read. [5]
This story is written in two parts. The first and most compelling tells of Spock's temptation to yield to his growing desire for his captain, to dive into the intimacy that is already thick between them. But there is an impediment. His previous sexual experience with a human male, conducted while they were cadets at the Academy, ended in violence and humiliation. How can he possibly reconcile his fears that he will never be able to conduct a true sharing with a partner, with the hopes he has for a future filled with James T. Kirk? Most specifically, how can he meld with his captain without revealing his most shameful past?

And that question leads to the second part of The Missing Piece, which is cross cut between the scenes on the Enterprise. This section reveals the relationship between Spock and a cadet named Evan Larsen, and what went wrong with it. I absolutely adore the parts of this story told in real time on the ship. Whenever I want a "romantic" fix of K/S, this is one of the stories I reach for. I wish I knew how the author does it; if this skill with the delicate unfolding of emotions with mere words were something I could buy, I would rush to the store, no matter what the price. (Maybe a concentrated time of study is what I need.... Kathy Stanis's Fiction 101.)

The scene where Jim and Spock meet in the botanical gardens where the new holoview technology has been installed is exquisite. The tentative advances, the frightened retreats, the resolve to move forward despite the fears, this is the essence of the K/S relationship, distilled to a few vital moments that feel so real. For example, the way the men use the switching of the holoview to either hide or reveal their feelings was inspired. And I love the way the author often manages to take a phrase and turn it on its side, twist the conversation into a direction the reader was not expecting, exactly the way things so often happen in our own lives. An example from page 25:

Kirk: "You mean like a come-on?"

Spock; "I believe that is what I said."

Kirk; "Does that bother you?"

Spock; "Bother is a word with several levels of meaning. On more than one level, yes, I am bothered. I... enjoy you in that mood, but I want to know if you purposely mean to... be that way with me."

I could go on, but you get the picture. I enjoy this story so much, not just for the K/S content, but because I see the author's skill revealed, and I marvel at it.

But there's always a serpent in Paradise, isn't there? The flashback section of the story, with Spock and Evan as lovers, I positively dislike. No matter the skill of the writing, I am really put off by the thought that Spock could be so abysmally stupid as to believe that his relationship with Evan was either 1) normal, 2) beneficial to him or 3) even ethical. I accept the possibility that Spock might be ignorant of emotional beings, but he is not so ignorant that he could think that the kind of games Evan played with him, of all sorts, was a satisfactory introduction to his or human sexuality at this stage of his life.

And Evan is such an evident slimeball. Is this really the type of human Spock was immediately attracted to? If so, I fear for his character. How could such a being have evolved into the sterling individual we know of on the Enterprise?

(Of course, I am aware that I also have an aversion to Spock, or Kirk, interacting sexually with anybody else at all, but I've read plenty of stories where I can accept that. In this one, I just want to say yech.)

So, when I re-read this story, I just skip over the flashbacks and I'm perfectly well satisfied. I thought the plot of this effort wasn't really as strong as it needed to be, as the search for the person who was harassing Spock via subspace communication was too coincidental for words, and the resolution, when Kirk and Spock confront Evan over the light years, doesn't really have the feeling of solving anything for me. But as we have so often said in these pages, we don't necessarily look for K/S for the perfect plot line, but for the perfect feelings, and I find plenty of those in these pages.

This author just keeps getting better and better. It seems that the most recently published Kathy Stanis story is always my favorite of all she's produced, and this one is no exception. I highly recommend The Missing Piece. [6]

References

  1. ^ from Come Together #16
  2. ^ from Come Together #13
  3. ^ from Come Together #13
  4. ^ from Come Together #13
  5. ^ from Come Together #18
  6. ^ from The K/S Press #6