set-phasers-to-bacon sent me a note that said, “I’m really enjoying the fandom discussions you’ve been posting on it. My question is, personally, are there any major differences on how you interpret mcspirk in TOS vs AOS? Is it easier for you to visualize one than the other?”
Major differences? Okay. Yes, I do have some. However, let me preface this by saying that I think the major differences stem from a singular fact, and that’s that our characters in AOS are not quite like their TOS counterparts.
First, though, I’m going to toss age out of the equation because trying to compare young AOS!Kirk to a more mature TOS!Kirk, and similarly with Spock, is just unfair. We could possibly squeak by on comparisons with the Leonards but we won’t bother.
TOS McSpirk, in my opinion (and if it happens), is very, definitely confident in itself. You might find this surprising because it’s in TOS that McCoy seems the most likely to be that infamous “third wheel” whenever Spock and Kirk are chasing after each other in a race to save the universe. But I wholeheartedly believe if and when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy settle into their relationship it’s like three major forces of the universe aligning. It’s a freaking powerhouse, and they know it. Sure, each one of them brings their baggage but it doesn’t get in the way of what they’ve become. Spock is long-since used to Leonard’s needling conversation. Leonard has figured out that Spock is a lot more uncertain about himself than he looks. Jim knows for a fact that Leonard can hold a grudge until kingdom come and that Spock sees no logic in doing things ‘by half’. And what about Jim? Well, I daresay that both Leonard and Spock recognize that desire of Jim’s which drives him to spacefaring - while not necessarily a competitor - will always be integral to his well-being. Simply put, he’s a man of action.
My point here is that knowing what they do about one another is their strong suit. It shows in their interactions, in their ease with one another from many years of friendship, and in their lack of demands. The theme with these three is that “we stick together when possible, and be thankful that we can.”
Is anyone the caretaker in this relationship? Surprisingly, all of them. Is anyone the dominant partner? Any of them at a given time, although Jim may take that role out of habit.
In TOS McSpirk I see a hell of a lot of natural balance going on, and that’s why to me they are maybe the relationship that takes the longest to develop but has the strongest bonds. Like family.
AOS McSpirk, then.
All right, I know I just played up Team TOS but let’s take a step back and do a little soul-searching about the AOS Jim, Spock, and Leonard. This is, of course, why I pointed out that who they are and where they come from makes such a difference.
We’ve got Jim Kirk, fireball extraordinaire. Jim is impulsive, often reckless, and not one to believe that good things last. When he’s in a relationship with anyone, it’s probably a brief affair. To me, for being so physical in his needs and reactions, Jim is emotionally hands-off if he can get away with it. That is why when he finds himself in a relationship with Leonard and Spock, it’s like somebody dumped him in the deep end of a pool and only now he discovers he can’t swim! I see him struggling to find his footing, perhaps without even knowing that he is struggling.
Leonard, on the other hand, declares himself hands-off and cannot stay un-involved. Hence why he’s following Jim to dangerous planets and disturbing Spock in his office on the other side of the ship when clearly there is no reason for a doctor to be there. Leonard tells himself he’s just doing his job, up until the point he decides lying to himself is futile. So in a McSpirk relationship, Leonard is the fusser, the prodder, the poke-it-one-more-time person. Believe it or not, if they aren’t communicating with each other, he is one very unhappy man.
Spock is… the unknown. When he will fight, when he will concede, when he will take charge, when he will take that step back—it’s all of it a huge guess. AOS Spock has some knowledge of the workings of human relationships early on, more so than his TOS counterpart will come to have for decades and decades. The question is if he chooses to use it and when? I see Spock being more take-charge than either Jim or Leonard in any given situation. I see him saying, “so and so is logical” and doing the illogical thing because it suits him better at the time, thereby baffling his human partners. In a way, one could call him hormonal but he’s not really—he’s just testing boundaries with himself because he feels his human side a little more with the passing years. That isn’t to say that Spock doesn’t mature into a grand old Vulcan (he certainly could) but he would do so on his own terms and not a moment sooner.
So, how do these things about Jim, Leonard, and Spock make AOS McSpirk different than TOS McSpirk?
Basically, it makes AOS McSpirk more volatile. They are prone to break-ups, as much as it pains me to say it. But they always keep coming back together, each time strengthening their understanding a little more, securing their faith in each other a little longer. They can be as strong of a unit as TOS McSpirk but their unit is rough around the edges and prone to show a crack or two. You can say it has to do with age, but I see this as a persistent condition that, even when they are older and mellower in temperament, if someone asks Leonard how did he and his partners get together, he would basically say, “Hell if I know.” This version of McSpirk aren’t entirely aligned with each other but they are in constant orbit and they can never move too far away without being drawn in again.
All of this being said, I can visualize both versions very well. Right now I’m immersed in TOS McSpirk because of a story but AOS McSpirk to me is both dramatic and hilarious and not all that difficult to envision. I actually prefer to write AOS McSpirk because of the drama, but there are times when I need the certainty and sweetness of TOS McSpirk.