Tiger Burning Bright

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: “Tiger Burning Bright”
Author(s): Carolyn Spencer
Date(s): print zine-1994;The K/S Archive-01/2011
Length: print zine-82 pages;
The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive-37924 words
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive

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“Tiger Burning Bright” is a Kirk/Spock story by Carolyn Spencer.

It was published in the print zine Within the Mirror #9.

Summary

From the fanzine: Kirk is drawn to the Vulcan prince Spock who is assigned to the Enterprise as assurance of Vulcanʼs cooperation.

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

In this slightly AU Mirror story, Captain James Kirk finds himself saddled with a Vulcan hostage, the grandson of Vulcan's ruler kidnapped to ensure T'Pau and Vulcan's compliance with the Empire. Spock turns out to be far from what he expected, and the jaded Kirk slowly falls for the gifted, quiet man who inexplicably seems to see something worthy in him. BESTEST. MIRROR. STORY. EVER. Wonderfully sensitive and humane portrayal of Mirror! Kirk, and an unsophisticated but intense Spock as a worthy match. Brilliant and gripping. [1]

1994

The theme of this story is Kirk's attraction to Spock's innocence. Kirk assumes his hostage's innocence from a supposed protected and sheltered upbringing. Then he accepts Spock's aloofness as innocence i.e. untouchable. Spock's aloneness provides an innocent vulnerability. Finally, Spock is again protected, this time by Kirk's love, his innocence preserved.

To prove that Spock is untouchable, the author injects a slave auction aboard ship that is jarringly out of place. It is too intense to be the amusement explained. Indeed, if Mitchell did not rape Spock after the auction, why did he bid all his money? If Kirk would not protect Spock from rape, why protect him from humiliation? If Mitchell did rape Spock, how was Spock still a virgin that night? It seemed to me the restaurant scene should have come before the auction scene and Kirk should have killed Mitchell to save Spock. However, if that had happened, we would have been denied the tender and touching love scene on the beach.

I was willing to suspend belief to allow a hostage on the Enterprise, to accept that Kirk made no effort to keep Spock from escaping after Spock stated it was his duty to escape, and to allow a hostage, an enemy, to do "useful" work. The auction, however, was too much. It should have been a separate story. [2]
What a fine story! Soaring prose—if not purple, at least hot lavender. Passages of passion to the utmost. Not just sexual passion either, but the heights and depths of feeling.... Heart-soaring, and gut-wrenching too. Sharp drama. Hurt/comfort. Many, many beautifully written passages. We have here a large picture, which is also focussed clearly on details, and all of it relevant to the progression of the K/S relationship. At first I was thinking of this as a sort of A/U Mirror story, but of course we cannot assume that in the Mirror universe things happened the same way they did in the mainline universe, so I realized this is simply one story of how Kirk and Spock came to be on the ship together. Especially at the end, I enjoyed Kirk's musing on how Spock might look with a beard.... So there is our tie-in with the Mirror events as we know them. But I totally didn't get Kirk seeing Spock as a youth, as young. It is mentioned too many times- The explanation of Vulcan years notwithstanding, I simply do not see that Kirk would see Spock as young, not as younger than himself. Less hardened and jaded than himself, yes. Spock's innocence and naivete could have been expressed without using the terms that made him young in years or appearance. Or maybe just once or so, not repeatedly. The story seemed to start out kind of slow, yet at the same time I knew that I was being drawn into something which most likely would be worth the trip. Not slow as in boring or quiet, because it was a nicely done drawing of Mirror life and times, but slow as in...I felt on a lead, very aware I was being led into this tale.... Then, once a certain point was reached, it was like being sucked into a wave. I absolutely could not stop reading.

I feel like I was properly convinced of the author's portrayals. It was done well enough that I did not Question at all Mirror-Kirk's coming around the way he did. I like this concise, short-story kind of expression, where things happen much more essentially than they do in real life, or than they do in a novel, for that matter. It was elegantly unraveled, the workings of the inner Mirror-Kirk. I accept that Spock was the first one to really get inside Kirk's heart, to make him feel he even had a heart. He absolutely turned Kirk around. And we witnessed Kirk's turning around step by step. All his resistance—broken; all the pain he had always stuffed down and stepped around, finally surfacing and being looked at in a new light.

This Kirk reminded me of the beautiful Romulan character which Mark Lenard played. That same kind of poetically tragic figure, tragic and beautiful and deep. But in a way, I felt we were not privy enough to the progression of Soock's feelings until toward the end when he actually expresses them, although he was portrayed very, very beautifully. The descriptions of him through Kirk's eyes are divine.

Then there were all the fascinating Empire details. An intriguingly woven series of events. And I love all the Empire history—Kirk's, Spock's, McCoy's (and Kirk's and McCoy's past was interesting), everyone involved I cared about their part in this. (Except the red shirts, it just occurred to me. I never seem to care much about them, in any story by anyone. How funny—just like in the series—expendable characters.) Mitchell was an appropriately unlikable character; interesting dynamics between him and Kirk, not to mention his awful treatment of Spock.

Everyone harassed Spock (he is newly on board), and it took a while, but Kirk finally put a stop to it once and for all. Some painfully humiliating scenes involving this harassment, but of course Spock comes through with great dignity. "Grace born of fire."

Kirk is torn much of the time between his inclination to side with Spock, and his resistance, suspicion, sometimes anger, even of Spock's naivete. I was amused and enjoyed Kirk's irritation with Spock's literalness, etc. So many interesting elements of this story: Kirk's childhood, his parents abandoning him to an orphanage. Spock's finding out the truth about his past for him is one of many things that start to melt Kirk's resistance.

Lots of things revolve around a plot to off Kirk; everything was tied together perfectly. Wonderful danger/rescue, hurt/comfort, drawn in exquisite detail. Especially near the end, a gripping scene-gorgeously intense.

Never, ever before have either of them had someone who cares. Each incident that happens to them (wonderful saving-each-other's-lives scenes) bring this more and more to light, until they cannot deny that this is what it must be called-caring, LOVE.

So many beautiful scenes throughout this story, intense moments.... The author should know nothing was lost on me; whatever she felt was beautiful or intense or otherwise fascinating, I got it.

I loved the meld sequences; love the flights into innerness, the symbolism. The animal imagery that has to do with the title—what Kirk sees in Spock's eyes.

And the excruciatingly exquisite sex—raw and poetic. [3]
Starting out with a bang, this A/U mirror story is an excellent continuation of Ms. Spencer's talent. Whereas "Flame of Chaos" was poetic, atmospheric and brooding, this story is direct, highly visual and fast paced. A departure from the author's usual style and a wonderful one.

The plot involves an intriguing mystery, woven expertly throughout the story with little hints of whodunit along the way.

In the beginning, this mirror Kirk encompasses all the nastiness, arrogance and pride necessary to establish himself as a card-carrying member of the Empire. Along with all those neat nasty traits, we see a growing compassion and a hidden honor that make this a believable character. But therein lies one of the problems.

As the story progresses, the author explains and makes excuses for every bad thing the mirror Kirk has ever done. In addition to this. Kirk becomes more and more "our" Kirk and generally is unrecognizable as a mirror universe denizen. Allowing plenty of room for individual interpretation. Kirk still has the feel of having been softened around the edges and altered just to fit into the mirror world.

And it's a really good depiction of the Empire with its politics, government and attitudes along with some wonderful references to the series such as Finnegan being the "commandant of the guards". So when the author sort of hedges her bets, it's disappointing because of the initial excellent set-up. After all, this is supposed (and I use that term advisedly) to be the Kirk, Spock and universe that we love to hate. We want them to be those nasty guys-that's the fun and satisfaction of the mirror world.

Accepting this as A/U, Spock is a slightly different matter. He's not mirror at all, but neither is he weak. It takes a while for us to get to know him, as it does for Kirk, and when he is "revealed" so-to-speak, for the animal that he is (we knew that!) it (the story, I mean) throbs with excitement. Just as the animal in Spock is contained until its unleashed at the end, the story has the same quality. It was a very exciting build-up as Kirk and Spock get to know each other. expertly done and thoroughly enjoyable.

There's also an excellent use of Gary Mitchell who is one of my favorite "side" characters. Here, he's right at home in the mirror, which I always suspected, and Ms. Spencer draws him perfectly. I would have enjoyed a bit more interaction between him and Kirk which would have further enhanced the relationship between Kirk and Spock.

Until it's finally explained later in the story. Kirk refers to Spock as a "kid". Withholding this information and keeping it a mystery serves no purpose. Some things in stories do well not revealed until later, but keeping the reason from the reader about Spock's age and his looks only confused and frustrated me. The whole time I'm wondering why and it proved quite distracting in the midst of all the excitement.

Kirk and Spock engage in a lovely, private conversation that was an insightful interlude and allowed the reader to learn more about them. And There's one heck of a description of Spock's body from Kirk's POV during an auction that was so beautiful, the words just melt in your mouth. This author loves Spock so much that the feelings just leap from the pages.

The scene on the beach on Wrigley's Pleasure Planet also is powerfully written. Let me tell you that when the phrase "from the heat of him" is repeated, I just gasped in wonder. And I adored Spock's use of the word "attend".

I have to say that at the end, when Kirk and Spock make love "with" each other, that this is what I read K/S for. For all the passionate power, all the satisfying emotions and all the wonderful raw sex that's in this scene. [4]

1995

The gradual unveiling of the man Kirk is one of this story's strong points. Contrary to so many other Mirror Kirks, he is shown as a man of integrity despite everything he had to do to survive in that empire. 'Young Spock" though is another act. I had trouble with his youthful portrayal The impression of naivety and/or innocence sounds alright with an adolescent but with someone Kirks' age??? Is it a survival tactic or is it genuine? It certainly gives enough fuel for Kirk's alternation between irritation/unbelieving and a growing protective feeling. All in all a story which kept me glued to my chair. [5]
Personally I've always found the Mirror Kirk a bit of a bombastic swaggering loud mouth. Leave it to Ms. Spencer's writing to make me see him from a different perspective. And that is what this story shows us, a different Mirror Kirk. Yes, he still swaggers and he can be loud, but the man we see is multifaceted, one we can care about. Ms. Spencer's writing, as usual, flows seamlessly. In this story things are not always as you see them at first glance and the characters are far more complex than their surface appearances. There is a gentler, compassionate side of this Mirror Kirk that gives him depth. And, at first, I was a little thrown off by the naivete and pureness of Spock when we first encounter him. But as the story goes on, we find Spock is not all that naive. He, too, is a most enigmatic and intriguing character. Surely there might be shortcomings to this story, but if there were they didn't phase me one iota, I read a story hoping that it will touch me and that an hour later it will still remain with me. Ms. Spencer writes so well she actually made me like this Mirror Kirk and I usually have a problem with caring about Mirror Kirks. Thank you, Ms. Spencer, I loved this story and I didn't care if Kirk kept calling Spock 'The Kid", even if they were the same age.[6]
Usually I'm no particular friend of Mirror Stories. A lot of stories I've read so far were full of violence, with a cruel captain and rough sex. Besides. I think Spock looks terrible with this beard...

Well, "TIGER BURNING BRIGHT' a a Mirror-Story, but not typical. Perhaps some kind of a/u-Mirror. Carolyn's Kirk is indeed tough, bitter, distrustful and very lonely. He has no friends at all. Friends are a burden and make a man weak and vulnerable. But he's also straight forward, compassionate (e.g. when he saves Spock from Mitchell's unwanted advances in the rec-room or when he saves McCoy by faking Pike's murder) and open for beauty (e.g. the landing party on "Bountiful", p. 88) . He's a man the reader likes from the beginning - hard and pig headed, but fair.

And Spock: he's young, innocent and peaceful (I know, Carolyn, it's the way you always see him...). A sheep in the midst of wolves. But this Spock isn't weak! Only his moral values are different) I think, this story is a romantic fairytale: heaven is sending an angel to save Kirk's soul. What a lovely idea!

Yes, I like this story very much! (My other favorite is still the one with the egg...)

The writing style is excellent as always. There is no sentence unnecessary. Carolyn describes things so nice, that the reader feels like being a part of the story, instead of simply reading it. An example for her vivid depiction, among other things, is that little incident on pg. 99. where Administrator Pleska placed his hand on Kirk's elbow and Kirk used the same gesture in return.

The story has a lot of very touching moments. I think, e.g.of Kirk and Spock talking about childhood and of that scene on pg. 143 (it brought tears to my eyes): "Thee ... weeps? For me?" - "It's the rain." "No, it's not," - "No", Kirk whispered, "It's not-." Wonderful, isn't it?

Wonderful is also the introduction of Spock in the beginning. He doesn't say a word in Kirk's office, but his aristocratic appearance and his superior behavior speaks volumes, (Hmmm... if I were Kirk, I would have fallen for this gorgeous alien at this very moment. Sigh.)

Did I really say, I'm no friend of Mirror-Stories? If other stories in WTM have nearly this quality, I might try this series, too... [7]

1996

The plot of this Mirror story is definitely original, but Spock's treatment is not consistent with the political role that hostages play. Hostages are taken to maintain the peace between two hostile political entities. The hostage-taking power is necessarily afraid of the other power, and considers them a threat. Otherwise they wouldn't need a hostage to control their enemies. Hostages should never be jeopardized. If anything happens to them, the political repercussions would be grave. Giving Spock a uniform is totally inadequate as a protective measure. In the Mirror a/u every starship officer may be targeted in the struggle for power. The only way Kirk could have protected Spock effectively is by confining him to quarters guarded by his own most loyal operatives, Vulcan would have a right to expect their prince to be guarded well. Another problem is that Kirk wouldn't have the authority to give Spock any rank or duties. Any decision about what happens to a hostage is a political one. A lowly starship captain would have to consult his superiors about such a matter. I can't imagine that the extremely security conscious Empire would ever allow a hostage in any sensitive position. After all, if Spock were released and returned to Vulcan, he could use whatever he had learned aboard the Enterprise against the Empire, In these circumstances. Spock could have been Kirk's secret lover, but never his science officer. [8]

2011

One of the best things I‘ve discovered about K/S having a home on the web is that from time to time, an old story from a zine gets published and I have the pleasure of reading that story without having to dig through my piles of zines to get it out. And what‘s even better is when a story appears on the web which is not only penned by one of my favorite all-time authors, but just happens to be from an old zine I never owned. So while that particular story may have been around awhile, for me, it is brand new. Such is the case here and for me, it was nothing short of sheer delight to discover this old, but new to me, gem of a story on the K/S Archives.

The author describes this story as "Mirror light" and indeed it is. That is also why it is so appealing to me. The main reason I don‘t care for mirror stories is that in order to stay true to the episode, the author really has no choice but to portray Kirk as a bastard and Spock as a cold-hearted Vulcan who is not bound by the moral ethics our own Spock is. Now in this story, when it comes to Spock, the author was able to take a few liberties, as he is not the first officer of the ISS Enterprise, rather, he is a hostage, brought aboard the ship to assure his peoples‘ good behavior. But Kirk is still Kirk, ruthless, brutal, and determined to keep his captaincy no matter what the cost. But all that begins to change when Spock is brought aboard. Unwittingly, the Vulcan begins to teach Kirk about friendship and loyalty, two ―human‖ characteristics Kirk could well do without. But despite his best efforts, he finds he simply cannot remain cold and callous when it comes to Spock, and for the first time in many years, allows himself to feel, to care once again. While this story is certainly different from the normal Mirror fare, the one thing that makes it believable is that Kirk and Spock are still recognizable as themselves. This author has penned a tale that somehow remains true to the brutality of the Mirror universe and yet still reflects the romance and beauty and love that is the core of K/S.

This story, like all this author‘s stories, does what all great K/S stories do – leave an indelible mark upon the reader, one that fuels the desire to read it over and over again. I am so glad she has posted this work, along with others, on the web so that a much broader audience can delight in her stories as much as I do. [9]

2013

Dramatic and inevitable, as only a zine-era Kirk/Spock fic can be. But not so inevitable that you miss them seeing getting to know each other, which is my number one pet peeve with Kirk and Spock. As this is the Mirror U, you also get to watch Kirk slowly come to the realisation that love might not be so bad after all.

(For those wary of the story's age: very low on the gay panic, imo. For those wary of the AU setting: pre-XI Mirror!U is sometimes strangely gentle, and so it is with this fic. The world they live in is not Disneyland? but there's no gore and any psychopathy is not on the part of Kirk or Spock. Or McCoy, who makes an appearance.) [10]

References

  1. Master List of K/S Favorites, Mary Monroe
  2. Come Together #10 10/1994
  3. Come Together #9 09/1994
  4. Come Together #8 08/1994
  5. Come Together #13 01/1995
  6. Come Together #13 01/1995
  7. Come Together #13 01/1995
  8. Come Together #25 01/1996
  9. The K/S Press #174 03/2011
  10. dirty diana: Fancake, January 22, 2013