Unfinished Business (Star Trek: TOS story by Bethany Hawke)
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine KaleidoScope #7.
"After V'Ger, Kirk must overcome Spock's memories of Koon-ut Kali-fee."
Reactions and Reviews
Welcome back to Bethany Hawke, with this, her third story.... This is a nice long story about Kirk and Spock's reunion after V'ger. On one of the first evenings after they achieve orbit over Earth at the end of the mission, they kiss for the first time, told in a well done flashback just a few pages into the story. Spock disappears before they can talk, or before Kirk can really sort out his feelings about this, his first kiss with another man. Kirk assumes that his best friend couldn't handle what they did, but perhaps there is something more behind it....
This is just the beginning, and the story follows the fellows through a few weeks of adjustment, problem solving not only on the ship but in their relationship. There is a nice little scene or two with Scotty, captured for me just right. He calls Spock "lad," which makes me smile but also rings very true. I also really like the explanation of the technical problems the ship is experiencing. It's just a paragraph, then a sentence or two, but it seemed authentic and it nicely gave some "real-time" structure to the middle part of the story.
Early on there's a satisfying explanation of why Kirk wants to eat plomeek soup, very well used as a lead-in from an innocent dinner to a discussion of where their relationship really stands. Then there's a conversation with McCoy that is so blunt! For some reason conversations with their dear physican friend about what exactly it is that Jim and Spock do in bed together can be quite appealing, and I've always liked them when I find them in a well-written story. This one works.
The story is ultimately propelled by a very personal problem that arises in the fellows' sexual relationship which I won't reveal here so as not to spoil the plot. It didn't quite work for me. Perhaps because it stood pretty much alone, bare bones, without support from any other plot elements, making what was truly a significant problem seem rather thin. I needed to see how this problem affected both of them in "real life," I needed to see it truly trouble their relationship so that the solution seems necessary, even urgent. Too much of this part was told, not shown, especially through the conversation with Bones, and therefore the propelling element wasn't as effective for me as it might have been. However, it was subtley introduced at the very beginning. Good job, there.
I was distracted by the spelling of the term T'hy'la." In this story it was THy'La." After reading it the first way in umpteem stories, it just didn't seem right the other way, and my eye consistently stumbled over it.
I was also troubled by a straightforward, somewhat uncomplicated exposition that didn't always resemble the complexity of real events. For example, I just couldn't see Spock stumbling upon the bridge the way he does mid-way through the story (people, including uptight Vulcans, tend to follow form and convention in public, social circumstances, even in the most trying of times. Although admittedly, his patience had been rather strained.)I've been waiting for Bethany's next story for a while, and I'm very happy to see it in print. I enjoyed it. 
Unfinished Business is a perfect example of what I read K/S for. Long and lush and incredibly moving.It is not a story to rush through. It's the kind to read when you're home alone on a rainy day, curled up on the end of the couch. I was and I did and I just melted all over the place. I was putty in this author's hands. The description of the kiss was, in a word, WOW! Kirk's devastation was a joy to live through. And the sex was so hot. As you can probably tell, I just loved this story. It is one that I will definitely read again and again and I recommend it highly. If you're looking for a story filled with love and exquisite feeling, then this is the story for you. I have only one complaint to make and that is that Ms. Hawke writes WAY too slow. I want another one. 
This is my favorite story in the zine. It's an "after-V'ger"-story, but the real beginning is years ago, at the end of the 5-year-mission: a kiss they shared on the bridge (beautiful scene!!!!) and which Spock drove away. 'Now, again such a story, where poor, innocent Spock is frightened by a sheer kiss' - so I thought (and Kirk thought so, too!), but reading the rest of the story I discovered he had other reasons (I love stories where the author leads me on the wrong track!). An interesting idea was Spock's problem of losing his erection for fear of hurting Kirk. It showed, that our Vulcan has hidden fires and deep passions inside, more than a mere Human can perhaps take.... My favorite scene was Spock's reaction to Kirk's "activity" in his quarters, while the poor Vulcan was close together with Scotty and could not escape - neither Scotty nor his lover's thoughts. Gee, this alone would be a terrific plot for a short story (I wish I had this idea before!)... 
I love this story. There are a number of reasons I enjoyed it so much, and I admire Bethany's many inspired touches.
And of course I like to stress that the critical comments I make here are in the spirit of writer-to- writer. I absolutely know how not-easy writing is, how many considerations go through our heads as to how to get across what we want to get across, not to mention just getting the right words to flow....
There were some minor imperfections I thought due to either grammar or maybe just punctuation slips; and also the thing of being in both their heads at the same time.
But from the beginning, I could tell this would be a story that was going to melt me...because every moment Bethany has Kirk and Spock together is so full of feeling. Lots of lovely mood and detail, too, from the opening scene, the dinner together after V'ger crisis, to the flashback, the scene with them alone on the bridge, the moment around which the story revolves.
This is a beautiful treatment of Spock's going to Gol. A stroke of brilliance to take just a simple moment in their lives (at the end of the five-year mission), rather than a muddle of agonizing feelings over a period of time...to show us this simple moment between Kirk and Spock, after which they have no contact for the years Spock is gone, and then they come back together and have to pick up from that moment, which of course was intense with potential intimacy.
Bethany certainly knows how to string along first-time-scenario lovers.
So sad...that a little thing, the misunderstanding after this moment, causes the years of pain their separation brought.
So, after the V'ger crisis, Spock has invited Kirk to dinner. This is where we start to learn what happened, how each feels, and get a flashback of what had caused Spock to flee. I won't go into all the details...you can have the pleasure your own selves. It's so good.
Here's a place that confused me, made me think some text was missing. In this opening scene, Kirk says this thing which becomes a refrain throughout the story...oh heck, I can't write this without saying what it is. Here's the line: "It was just a kiss," Kirk countered. The use of the word countered, when Kirk had been the one who had spoken just previously, threw me. I thought part of the story was missing. So here is this lovely theme/refrain, worked very purposely into the story, but because of that one word making me think something was missing, all it did was get me all tazzled, like I was all, what kiss? where, when, what kiss!?
So then the flashback, oh god...the kiss, and immediate aftermath. So wonderful—such a simple premise, but so full, emotionally and as a visual scene. Also excellent, true dialogue. And back to the present, having to piece things together again...I was putty in Bethany's hands, as far as just following wherever she wanted to lead me. Everything they go through is so...them, so K/S. Just lovely. And also, all those moments that melted me in one way or another....
I have to quell myself from going into detail about all those moments, and about the misunderstanding which they then proceed to work out.
Okay, a writerly comment, what might be two sides to the same fiction-element: They're supposedly eating through the beginning present scene, but reference to it drops away early in the scene. Just a mention here and there of what they're doing in relation to the physical setting would remind us of where they are.
However, maybe another side of that is where scenes are put in that overly call attention to themselves. There are a number of little scenes with what's going on with the ship. Now, I suppose we want to know that, in this story, it's not business as usual cruising the space lanes, so that the K/S story can take place without interruption by a crisis or mission. So I understand why Bethany probably did this. Also, one of these scenes is totally necessary to an integral element of the K/S story, is the actual physical setting for something that happens to Spock, so I understand that, too.
But here's what happened for me: I kept wondering what the ship stuff had to do with the story. It didn't exactly move the story along (except that one scene that specifically had to do with Spock), and it just made me keep worrying until the end that some outside plot was going to intrude.
Also, I'm not certain about the technique of saying things such as: "The future did not turn out as planned." There are two of these one-paragraph scenes, "overview" kinds of statements that are far from the intimacy of otherwise being close in the characters' heads.
Ah, and beautiful, hot sex, Bethany.... Just delicious, the writing style making it even more so. The poetic flow, the purposeful word-arrangement, etc. It's explicit and moves beautifully and is full of feeling and observation. And quite a number of awesome lines, such as, "Sword and sheath would I be to thee, T'hy'la." Oh god. And I always adore when an author has Spock say one of his long Spock-things, and Kirk says, "I love you, too."
And not just one, but a number of sex scenes: knock-me-over just talk scenes; a heart-sweet, quiet meld scene; a gorgeous hot Kirk-masturbating scene; even an up-against-the-wall scene, oh god indeed.
And then, another fascinating thing I have to reveal what it is. This story has wonderful looks at Vulcan-ness, which I love in a story. These have to do with their link, etc., including a fascinating thing we learn (but weren't witness to) that happened to Spock in "public" that is disturbing and arousing both. Really fine stuff. But even more than that, another brilliant, unique touch: she has Spock impotent—imagine that! Who would have thought? Who would connect impotence with either Kirk or Spock? Okay, there have been stories where, for instance, one of them is traumatized by a rape and can't deal with sex, etc. But this was such a cool thing to have them deal with.And deal with it they did, with satisfying Vulcan- psychological and link/bond stuff, and in a beautiful loving and highly erotic way...even though in one place Kirk's technique to break through Spock's barriers seemed questionable to me, but still, it worked and it was gorgeous. 
Well now. This was extremely enjoyable to read. When I sat down with it, I expected to indulge in a very short story before getting up and doing things that required my attention. Every now and then I would think the story was about to end, not that I was ready for it to, when it would pick up again. I liked this approach by the author, she took one level to its conclusion but then moved on to another. Taking place after V’Ger, you can imagine how the title correctly describes the business left unfinished by Kirk and Spock.
There is a very poignant and well-written scene where Spock has invited Kirk to his cabin so they can begin to see where they stand after Spock’s dramatic encounter with V’ger. It nearly ripped my heart out when Kirk explained how having ordered Plomeek soup in a café after Spock’s departure for Vulcan helped him to feel closer to the friend he had lost. It costs Kirk something to make the confession when he doesn’t yet know exactly why Spock has returned. Soon, though, Spock tells him, “I love you, Jim.” As simple as that. And yet very complicated. There are the kinds of sex scenes here that make me melt: very, very loving and told with just the right amount of descriptive phrase. When we learn there is one form of loving that Spock is unable to achieve, it is very painful. Again, the author shows a majestic blend of sensitivity and grace in dealing with the subject and she endows Kirk with the same understanding and acceptance.Perhaps I will never tire of hearing Spock’s reasons for leaving at the end of the five-year mission. This one is not 100% different, but is perceptive and believable and heart-breaking. I’ve used those words several times, but I would not describe this story as angst-filled because while both men feel deep regret and sometimes emotional pain, their trust and devotion to each other never waivers. There are none of the doubts that sometimes interfere with my belief these two men are meant for each other and are above petty misunderstandings and jealousies. Their love is unwavering, as is my praise for Ms. Hawke. 
This is a good, old-fashioned K/S story of a kind I haven't seen so often in recent years. It covers most of the bases that early K/S writers used to write about: the obstacles to becoming lovers, the first time, telling McCoy, facing pon farr, the bonding. It's a warm, loving story written in clear, flowing, vivid prose, and imbued with deep respect and love for the characters. It's hearty, realistic, satisfying reading, a meat and potatoes sort of feast (apologies to the vegetarians in the group).
When I came to the point in the story in which Kirk and Spock have resolved their issues from the past and become lovers, I expected the story to be over—I was a bit surprised at first to see that it continued and had the pair taking on other issues. Obviously, this is not a "traditional" short story based on a dramatic straight line with a single theme, problem and resolution. Like many pieces of fan fiction, it doesn't just end when the immediate issue is resolved. It's an interesting question whether fan fiction should try to emulate the structures typical of most commercial fiction or whether story forms that are less neat and more amorphous are OK, as well.
The story contains a beautifully-written scene with a kiss. It read almost as though the author had had a very clear vision of this scene, and had written other parts of the story around it. The "before" and "after" of the kiss were rather hazy. The story, which is written mostly from Kirk's point of view, doesn't deal much with the status of the relationship at the time of the kiss, although it seems clear that the relationship had been evolving and developing. After the kiss, Kirk leaves rather abruptly for a reception, leaving Spock behind on the bridge, where Spock had been working, although Spock had indicated earlier (shortly before the kiss) that he would be willing to accompany Kirk to the reception after all. It wasn't clear to me why Spock didn't go with Kirk, after something so monumental had happened between them (well, to me it was pretty monumental!).We learn in retrospect about something Kirk did at the party that had a devastating impact on their relationship, which I won't go into in case someone here hasn't read this story yet, but that, too, was puzzling to me. I wanted to know much more about what happened and why it happened than the story gave us. 
- from The K/S Press #19
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- from The K/S Press #31