thefourthvine: A weird festive creature. Text: "Yuletide squee!" (Yuletide Woot!)
For Yuletide, I wrote There's No I in Team (Sports Night, Casey McCall/Dan Rydell), continuing my tradition of writing the longest story I've ever finished for Yuletide. Because I like to put my betas through hell, that's why!

(I keep thinking that one year my betas are just going to disappear, and next I hear of them, they will be on a tropical island, drinking fruity drinks and badmouthing me. So, you know, I'd like to thank them for resisting the urge thus far. Q ([profile] qe2), [personal profile] norah, and [personal profile] minervacat, I love you, and I promise to stop starting sentences with "and" real soon.)

Also, I would just like to repeat that I got amazing gifts, and you should all go read them, because I would like the people who wrote for me to get all the comments in the world. Now with authors! Note the new Motherlover story, which was a treat and not available for relishing during the last post. (Um. I don't need to warn you all, I hope, that the Motherlover stories define not work safe.)

Casablanca

Sentimental Reasons, by Frostfire, aka [profile] frostfire_17.

Sam in Casablanca, by David Hines, aka [personal profile] hradzka.

It Had to Be You, by [personal profile] karaokegal.

Motherlover

Cookies and MILF, by [personal profile] jozpierce.

New! Next Best Idea They Ever Had, by Flora, aka [personal profile] florahart.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (pic#)
Recently, I posted a set of SGA stories. They were all future stories, all long, and certain people - I am naming no names - thought there was perhaps an over-emphasis on the depressing and distressing.

In that set, I explained that I have a technique for dealing with potentially sad (or soul-destroying) stories: the safety tab. I have one story that I know is cheering and good and filled to the brim with joy and healing, and I keep that one ready and available in a tab. If a story takes a turn for the worse, or I finish it so depressed that I am ready to begin a career in coffee shop poetry slams, I simply click over to my safety tab and read until I feel better.

[livejournal.com profile] nestra, upon reading this, noted that she'd be interested in a safety tab recs set. ([livejournal.com profile] ainsley backed her up. Apparently there is a strong need for safety tab stories in fandom.) And I thought, hey, perhaps the people who are still silently resenting me for recommending such depressing futurefic will love me again if I only share with them the joy that is safety! So. This set.

I've had a lot of safety tab stories in my time in fandom. (I remember when I truly believed that safety tab stories could only be in due South, and then a dS story broke me so completely that I couldn't even look at anything in the fandom for three months. Those were sad, sad months, but at least I learned how to find safety in other fandoms.) But here's the thing: I've already recommended almost all of them. How could I not? There were times when I was re-reading my safety stories every single day. So I'm going to recommend a combination here: some safety tab stories that are newer, and thus haven't been featured here yet, and some of the great classics of safety. We'll start with the new.

We Can All Find Safety in the Knowledge That the Pegasus Galaxy Does It Better. And When I Say "It," I Mean Pegging. Healing Station Argh, by [livejournal.com profile] toft_froggy. Stargate: Atlantis, Ronon Dex/Teyla Emmagan, Ronon Dex/Teyla Emmagan/Rodney McKay, OT4.

This is my current safety tab story. I just do not even know how the world could be a bad place when there is a story that includes both alien General Hospital and pegging. You add in ice farming and Teyla being wickedly, wickedly manipulative, and you have a story that could heal the wounds inflicted by Ethan Frome. (Probably. Do not actually test this at home unless you have access to a 24-hour Literature-Induced Despair Hotline and fistfuls of psychoactive pharmaceuticals. Fistfuls. I mean this.)

I just - I am made deeply, seriously happy by this story. And then, like an extra bonus, there's something here that I look for in pretty much every SGA story ever, and hardly ever see: John and Rodney being bewildered by Teyla and Ronon's cultural references. Because, yes, okay, Star Wars and Star Trek and other things about stars - I can totally see John and Rodney geeking out about this, especially since their dream date apparently consists of playing Civilization and eating Cheetos and maybe making some drunk prank radio calls at around three in the morning. But Teyla and Ronon should have their own set of Pegasus in-jokes. (Like, there's that awesome SG1 story where the team are telling jokes, and no one laughs at all of them. I love that.) And here, they do. And John and Rodney get to be the people saying, "Um...what now?" Pegasus has popular culture, too!

So there's that, and then there's the humor, and then there's - well. The ending. Anyway. I'm telling you, and telling you true: this is a fabulous safety tab story. I have re-read this after reading stories where people have died, where favorite characters of mine have died and not come back, and it's fixed me right up. There's no higher level of safety, here. (Note: McKay/Sheppard OTPers who may be feeling wary: this will work just fine for you. I speak as one who knows!)

There Is Great Safety in the Deep Interconnectedness of Love and Real Estate Home Sweet Home, by [livejournal.com profile] astolat. Entourage, Vincent Chase/Eric Murphy.

You know how canon writers sort of beg us to slash their creations by writing two strong, likeable male characters (who are totally best friends and, okay, it's entirely for show-budget reasons but they share an apartment and spend 24 hours per day together and also they hold hands sometimes) who occasionally hook up with one-dimensional females with whom they have no chemistry and nothing approaching realistic dialog? The Entourage writers have taken this to the logical conclusion: Entourage, the show, is entirely about men. Women exist in its world essentially as window-dressing.

I am sure that the show writers believe that their characters are manly and tough and totally hetero. I am quite sure they believe that. But, well. When you spend every minute of your life totally focused on another guy, and all your emotional investment is in that guy, and everything else in the world comes second to that guy's needs...well. It kind of begs for slash, is all.

And there's one other thing that begs for slash in Entourage: it's that Vince and Eric are so totally married. I mean, they might as well have sex. They've already got rings. (Okay. No rings to my actual knowledge. But if there was an episode where Vince gave Eric a ring, I would not be at all surprised.)

So I find it supremely comforting to read about Vince and Eric. Their problems are just serious enough to be believable, while still being at least one remove from anything distressing in any other story I might be reading. And I seriously, seriously, seriously want them to just go ahead and accept their true love already. Which, in this story, they do. It is sweet and fun and all things comforting, and you don't need to know anything about the show to read it; I didn't when I started. (Plus, it has Ari Gold. Never underestimate the comfortingness of a Jewish pit bull with a filthy, filthy mouth. And Turtle and Drama. Dorks are comforting. Everyone knows this.) This story can heal a fairly major story wound - like, your OTP not ending up together. Or the world ending. Either one.

There's Nothing Safer Than Benton Fraser on a Rampage! I Mean, in a Story Sense, Obviously. In Real Life, That'd Be a Bad Thing, Albeit a Polite Bad Thing. Chicago's Most Wanted, by [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.

I have a friend who told me that once, when she was traveling through India, and sick and tired and miserable, she told herself the entire story of Some Strange Prophecy for comfort.

This proves two things: fan fiction is a powerful healer, and comfort stories are totally individual. Because Some Strange Prophecy in not a comfort story for me (fine story though it is).

But Chicago's Most Wanted totally, totally is. Why? Well. Amnesiac criminal Benton Fraser. Can there be a better reason? I just think the words and the healing begins.

Also, this story proves that in the land far beyond the Broccoli Test, there is another, greater test, and it is this:

If one member of your pairing can forget who he is and go on the lam, and the other one can track him and predict where he'll be next, your pairing has passed the Chicago's Most Wanted Test. I can think of few pairings that could pass, frankly. I mean, of my OTPs - Blair Sandburg could absolutely do this for Jim Ellison, but not vice versa unless you allowed senses-related trickery, which is a rules violation. Rodney McKay and John Sheppard likely have a 50/50 chance, but if they get it wrong, someone ends up in prison or something blows up. And, oddly, I don't believe Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson could do it alone, but any three members of (original) SG1 could easily find the other. I just think it would take all of them.

Anyway. This story can heal, at minimum, major, major tragedy. I turned to this after I finished The End of the Road, people. That's how powerful this is.

(There's another Speranza story that I also have used extensively for healing story-inflicted wounds, but it was never a safety tab story. I use About a Dog when a story has kicked me in my extremely sensitive - nay, hair-trigger - animal harm squick. If you have one, seriously, About a Dog should fix most problems. Don't thank me. Thank her!)

Traffic Jams and Car Accidents Are Extremely Healing! When They Happen to Dan and Casey, and Also Lead to True Love, That Is. Only Then. Diversionary Tactics, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Sports Night, Casey McCall/Dan Rydell.

Sports Night is perhaps the ultimate safety-story fandom for me. (Or it used to be, but we'll get to that.) Because, see, I truly believe that Danny and Casey are in love, and will always be in love, and that they will live happily ever after, bickering and making Dana's life hell and avoiding sports-reporting clichés forever. (No, really, this is a very sincere belief. You show me a story in which that does not happen, and my reaction will be, pretty much, "We all know the truth, thanks." Which isn't to say that a Sports Night story couldn't break me. Just - I have a very thick insulating layer of denial. Whale blubber thick.) Anyway. My point is - Sports Night = happy place. Danny and Casey start bantering, and I am suddenly soothed and cheerful and prepared to face the world again, even if the world contains a story that has hurt me greatly.

The only down side to Sports Night is that most of the stories that I used to use in safety tabs (Sports Night saw me through many, many much scarier, much larger fandoms) are gone forever, as far as I can tell; the archive is gone and the stories just aren't anywhere anymore. So now my happy place is tinged with sorrow; I go to recommend a story, and it's nowhere to be found, and I have a sniffly moment and have to turn to a healing story without even having read a sad one. (This is why we need the Archive of Our Own; won't anyone think of the poor recommenders? Our links! Our precious links!)

Fortunately, Diversionary Tactics still remains with us. And what a fine and excellent safety-tab story it is. There's banter, and then there's some momentary tension - but we all know in our hearts it will be fine, because this is Sports Night, where things are fine, damn it - and then, yay! A happy ending. And it all takes just enough time to heal one moderate-sized story wound, like a lengthy explicit torture scene. Or the death of a minor OC.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
And, frankly, I'm going to need the comfort. I will be spending the next week - seven glorious days! - shut in a very expensive hotel room (five minutes away from where I live) with two large dogs, one of whom does not like new things and howls if you leave him alone for any reason whatsoever, and the other of whom is going to view this as the best thing that has ever happened to her, and also terrify the housekeepers. And who has an unholy ability to manipulate new environments to her advantage.

I - I know I'll get through this. And worse things happen every day, and some of them have even happened to me, and there's a time when we'll all look back on this and laugh. (That time, I predict, will be when we are on massive medication overdoses.) It's just that right now, my near future is looking to be kind of unpleasant, especially given everything I have to do to be ready for this adventure. And there's also the fact that I expect to be hearing bad news no later than this Friday, when I will be already fairly unhappy, on account of, you know, spending a week trapped in a hotel room. With insane dogs.

Seriously. Odds that I will survive this? At least 99%, and I know it, and that's a very good thing. Odds that I will survive this with my dignity and sanity intact? So vanishingly small that I might actually hit the "it's a one-in-a-million shot, but it just might work!" exclusion.

Obviously, the thing to do right now is ignore all the things I have to get done today, not to mention my impending doom, and recommend some happy-making stories. And I don't know about you, but there's nothing that makes me happier than fan fiction cliches put to good use. (I think we all know what I mean by "good use," too. Oh, hush, I do not only think about sex. Just, you know. Sometimes. And one of the stories I'm about to rec is basically gen, so there.)

On to the fan fiction, then. And if anyone has any suggestions for surviving my immediate future - things to read, games that can be played in a hotel room you can't leave (ideally involving two large dogs in a way that will keep them quiet), breathing exercises, pocket universes where time passes more quickly that I could escape to - I'm entirely ready to hear them.

In the meantime, cliches. Which I dig. (And, OMG, someone please send me the link for the Canada shirts - I saw one a week ago, and it was profoundly awesome.)

The One That Reveals at Least Two Great Truths. One of Them Is That in Any Group of Teenagers, You Have More Repressed Sexual Overtones Than You Can Shake a Stick At. The Other I Leave As an Exercise for the Reader. Game Theory, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. X-Men, gen. (And some might question me calling it gen, but, well. This story does indeed have all kinds of subtext, just gallons of it in fact, but so did every variation of this game I ever played. Which was an unfortunate number of them. Oh my god, I am so grateful to be done with adolescence I can't even begin to tell you. I would rather spend the rest of my life trapped in a hotel room bored out of my skull with two even more bored dogs than spend a single week back as a teenager, and I mean that. I mean, given time and the test, I'm sure I can think of lots of fun things to do with complimentary toiletries.)

So. As you will already have gathered, this is about a party game (which means it's also about a form of culturally-mandated torture, in my opinion); the game is Truth or Dare, which is something of a cliche in fan fiction and in real life. As a veteran of it in real life, I can tell you that, in my experience, it takes a maximum of three rounds for the game to get either boring or mean, unless everyone is intoxicated, in which case it gets either silly or mean.

It was kind of inevitable, given the players here - Marie, Jubilee, John, Bobby, Kitty, and Peter (which I initially mistyped as "Petter" - oh, I am going to have to proofread this entry really closely, I can already see that) - that this would go the dangerous route. And it does, in a way that is so perfectly in character and so perfectly adolescent that I seriously cringe in memory every time I read this.

But that's only half of what I love about this story. (Yes, I love the cringing, in this particular case. What's not to love about a story that reminds you of all the reasons you should give thanks every day that you grew up?) The other half is Kitty's perspective. Penknife's Kitty is the smart, observant, and socially, um, limited girl many of us were back in our teen years. Except she quite literally has the ability to sink through the floor. I tell you, there were times, especially in middle school, when I would've sold my soul to be able to do that. Or to turn invisible. Either one. So for me, this is like revisiting my teen years, except that no one is tripping or having sex, everyone has mutant abilities, and I can get out whenever I want to. How could that be other than awesome?

The One That - Well, I'm Not Sure. Either It Proves That a True Bat Will Go to Any Lengths for Useful Knowledge, or It Proves That a True Bat Is a Vaguely Repressed and Very Twisty Fucker. You Make the Call! Things We Have Never Done, by [livejournal.com profile] derryderrydown. D.C. Universe, Dick Grayson/Roy Harper, with minor Garfield Logan/Victor Stone.

Another great party game cliche is Never Have I Ever, also called I Have Never. We all know how this is played (and if you don't, this story explains it, although what you do with that knowledge is of course up to you), and we all know that in a mixed-sex group, if "I have never had sex with a [person of a given sex]" hasn't made its ordained-by-the-petty-minded-gods-of-party-games appearance within three rounds, then everyone playing has some practical experience with bisexuality. Need I explain why this is such a popular concept in slash fiction? No. No, I need not, because you all have brains in your heads. (Also, many of you have been there. Greetings, fellow unfortunate-sexual-decisions-following-drinking-games alumni! The fruit plate is over there.)

But what I do need to explain, maybe, is why I love this cliche so damn much. See, because - you can't just start out the story with the "I have never had sex with [whatever]." Or I guess you can, but I, for one, would feel cheated. Because the great lure here - aside from the sex, which, yes, yay - is the stuff that comes first. I just love seeing what people think of for characters to have done. And not done. (Actually, I love this so much that one of my favorite I Have Never stories on earth is a gen one, if you can believe that, and there are several other stories I love all the way up to the Obligatory Sexual History Reveal.)

Derry does a spectacular job with that, here, coming up with what I think may be one of the meanest "I have never" statements ever devised for the superheroes of the DCU, and also dealing very nicely with the problem of having a player who has done everything, which is quite a challenge in the DCU fandom.*

So, you know, I am a very happy camper (...okay, reader) with this story, even before we get to Dick and Roy and the cocksucking lessons. Which I think is more than a sufficient explanation of why you need to read this story immediately. Party games! Happy campers! Cocksucking lessons! ...Oh my god, I just - I just almost made a terrifying Scouting joke. Save me from myself, people.

The One That Proves That Ancient Technology Is Hard on the Repressed. And Even Harder on Sudden Inexplicable Frogs. Straight As a Circle, by [livejournal.com profile] toomuchplor. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, John Sheppard/Kate Heightmeyer. (Warning: minor squicks for embarrassment and animal harm. People, I promise you, you won't care. It's that awesome. Also, you'll know when to skim, if need be.)

I'm pretty sure everyone even remotely interested in this fandom has already read this, but I had to recommend it anyway, because this is the most awesome cliche use in the whole history of fandom. John Sheppard wakes up straight. I mean, if that doesn't make you clap your hands and squeal like a little girl, then - hey, there's medication that can help you. Look into it.

It's got everything an SGA fangirl could want: John Sheppard being repressed and very, very gay, Ancient technology being obstreperous and very, very difficult, and native persons being inscrutable and very, very stubborn. Plus Rodney McKay being, you know, Rodney. And also handling a difficult situation with surprising grace, which is something I love about him that doesn't get showcased too often. (Yes, he also fucks up difficult situations sometimes. But it's not like that is rare in this canon.) I think my favorite part of this, though, is - well. Okay. You know how genderswap stories often have, at least in part, a "Hey, human sexuality really is much more of a continuum than I'd previously imagined!" resolution? This totally turns that on its head, and I just love how this whole concept forces John to - well, deal with his issues.

And, yes. I firmly believe it would take a massive lifestyle change, meddling Ancient technology, and a skilled psychiatrist - plus a lot of patience on everyone's part - for him to begin to do that. He's not, as far as I can tell, exactly the "I enjoy processing my issues to achieve a higher state of consciousness" kind of guy. More of a "Let's just repress this and with any luck I'll die before I have to think about it, okay?" guy. And I love that. But I also love the sneaky things fan fiction writers do to get him past that. And this - this is gorgeous sneakiness of a very high and refined order.

The One That Proves That the Key to Drinking with Others Is Knowing When to Flee to a Distant Part of the Bar, and When to Lock Yourself in a Bathroom and Wait for the Climax. So to Speak. Getting off on a Technicality, by [livejournal.com profile] nestra. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall.

If I had to write a list of My Personal Sports Night Canon, some of the entries would probably look like this. (Although, sadly, there would be lots of others. I have Theories. Oh, do I have ever have Theories. Also Opinions.)
  • Danny and Casey are destined to be together. No, really. It is fate. And it is very important. Do not fuck with the Danny and Casey together forever thing.

  • Kim can be evil, but evil can be a force for good. The same can be said of Natalie and Dana, and if that makes you wonder about Aaron Sorkin - um. Probably it should, but that's a whole other list.

  • Jeremy is the world's greatest living example of the innocent bystander. It's like what he was born to be.

  • The people of Sports Night spend about 15 hours a day together, at least five days a week, working under stressful conditions. Alcohol is often involved. If you don't think untoward things happen there from time to time, you may not have a clear understanding of how humans work; some remedial research is indicated.
And, see, I'm not sure if those items would make my list because of my knowledge of canon (and I actually do have some, which is something I'm so proud of you cannot even begin to imagine it), or because of, well, this story.

Because, wow. Nestra hits those notes so beautifully she might as well have written this story because of a future me zooming back in time to force people to write fan fiction that I knew I'd want to read. (And, yes. Given a time machine, I would so totally do that. Don't even claim you wouldn't, either.) Of course, if that's how it happened, Future Me was probably crazed and unwashed and just muttering, "Sports Night! Kissing! Dan! Casey!" And Nestra, alarmed but very much on her game, pulled out something brilliant that she'd already written. Because one thing Future Me has probably forgotten (on account of tragic time-travel-related insanity - or possibly just trapped-in-hotel-room insanity; we have no idea when I'm going to start my jaunt into the past, after all) is that you can't force awesomeness. And this is awesome.

The cliche, by the way, is a dare. (Yes, we started with a dare, and we're ending with one. I think we should take a moment to meditate on the beauty of that, because frankly with my writing actual coherent closure doesn't happen all that often.) And Kim is doing the daring. So, of course, Dan and Casey are fucked. (In all senses of the word.)

-Footnote-

* Although the ultimate challenge there, I think, would be having Methos in an I Have Never game. I mean, Methos says, "I have never died," and everyone at the table protests, and he makes it, "I have never died permanently, then - you all knew what I meant." Of course, nobody drinks.

The next round, Methos can say either, "I have never given birth" or "I have never had children." And if it's an all-Immortal game, no one drinks then, either.

Basically, Methos is the guaranteed pass round of I Have Never, because if he's never done it, neither has anyone else. Oh, I guess at a multi-fandom table you could have him say something like, "I've never been to another planet," at which point John Sheppard, Teal'c, and Clark Kent all drink. But, failing multiple crossovers selected with extreme care, Methos's turn is a built-in opportunity for everyone to sober up just enough to discuss some of the things he did drink on. ("I - with the goat. I didn't think he'd drink there." "You didn't? Fool. But my question - I mean, when in god's name did he detonate a nuclear device?")
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Yesterday afternoon, I had a nurse demonstrate for me how to take something up the ass. Okay, no. What she was actually demonstrating was how to get your partner to give you a shot in the butt ("Go for the meatiest part!" she said cheerfully. I badly wanted to say, "Have you seen my ass? There's no meat shortage there!"), but she bent over in a position that is, shall we say, extremely familiar to me (and to every slash writer or reader on this earth) from other contexts, grabbed the desk firmly with both hands, and said, "Okay. So you say, 'One, two, three, BAM!' And right then he sticks it in you. On 'BAM!'"

I tried to be mature about it. I really did. But I disgraced myself badly, to the point where I had to put my head down on her desk because I was laughing so hard I was light-headed. It was whole minutes before I could breathe well enough to tell her the name of my pharmacy. And for the entire time, she stood there, smiling like someone who totally does not get the joke. It's a shot, she seemed to be thinking. Why is this woman laughing so hard? Shots aren't funny.

I don't think they like me very much at that medical office, and frankly, I really understand why. We're just not compatible. After I recovered - to the extent you can recover from something like that - she said, "You know, you're lucky. Some people, they have to do it for themselves. It's a lot harder to get the angle right if you don't have a partner." Now, I totally take her point - I am lucky that I have someone else to stick things in me and get the angle right. It's what life partners are for! But, but, okay. I can't be the only person ever to hear that and not be thinking about medicine, can I?

Except I'm afraid I actually am, at least at that office. Like I said, we're not compatible. Mostly because I'm apparently 12, whereas they seem to be set up to treat actual grown-ups, not incurably low-minded people who are just faking this adulthood thing.

Anyway. Obviously my reaction to this incident is going to be to post some recs. (My other reaction, sadly, is going around the house saying, "One, two, three, BAM!" to Best Beloved. Over and over. I cannot help myself. In my defense, Best Beloved is saying it right back to me. Maturity is thin on the ground at Chez TFV.) What choice do I have? None. But, in an attempt to ascend to greater grown-up-ness, I am not going to make the theme of this set "bending over a desk and taking it up the ass." No. Really. Not.

Instead, I am going with travel. See how grown up I am?

Yeah, I know. I'm fooling no one. On with the set.

The One That Made Me Sniffly About a College Football Play Made by People Who Appear to Be Wearing Gold Lame Headgear. I'm Usually a Bit More Stable Than That.* Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

How can I not have recommended this story already? Oh, right, because I just naturally assumed that everyone with any kind of sense and even a vaguely reliable internet connection had read it already. But it has come to my attention that there is a person out there who has not read it, and I cannot in good conscience rest until I have done my part to rectify that. It would be against the Recommender's Code. (Yes, there is a Recommender's Code of Ethics. The first item is "Don't let recommending make you crazy," but the second is, "If someone, somewhere, has missed out on a good story, it is ALL YOUR FAULT." Recommenders are deeply conflicted people with angst and emo and suchlike coming out our (meaty and suitable for poking with a sharp stick) butts, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.)

So. Vacationing on earth - fun for the whole extra-terrestrial family! Except for how it is totally not fun for anyone currently living in Atlantis, because let's face it, they all left the planet for a reason, and that reason wasn't, "To get some really good stories to tell the kiddos at night as we roast marshmallows over the campfire." And it's not like a year in Atlantis makes you more suitable for life on earth. So this story takes that old theme - the stranger in a once-familiar land - and gives it a lovely, Pegasus Galaxy twist. And adds gay sex. But most of all, it adds a jersey so meaningful that the first time I read this, I seriously started searching the internets for such a shirt. If I'd managed to find one, I'd have bought it, people, and I still want one, and it's only through steadfastly reciting "I have no need for a football shirt" that I have managed to resist the temptation thus far.

Basically, I love this story so much it made me want a souvenir t-shirt. I don't usually want souvenirs from stories. (I don't even usually want souvenirs from trips, although I do have a strange desire to buy unfortunate hats while away from home. I resist this. Hats that seem like a good idea on vacation will be too humiliating even to give to Goodwill when sanity returns.)

And if that doesn't tempt you to read it - Souvenir! T-shirt! - well, I just don't know what to do for you. (But I'll still try to think of something. The third entry in the RCoE is "Never give up, never surrender," and I want to be an ethical recommender. I really do.)

The One That Uses Talking Heads Song Lyrics. Really. And Is Also Brilliant. I Bet You Didn't Think That Was Even Possible. One for the Road, by [livejournal.com profile] katallison. Highlander, Duncan MacLeod/Methos. (Um, Highlander fans, if you're out there - does Methos actually have a given name, or a family name, or whichever name Methos isn't? Or was he born before that new-fangled multiple names malarkey?) Warning: Animal harm. If you need to avoid it - well, I never read the segment that mentions a "Deer Crossing" sign, and you don't have to, either.

So. Te recommended this story to me, and she said it strongly influenced her characterization of Methos. I can, um, see why. It basically created mine; I had no conception of Methos as a character before I read this. And now I really, really do. (By the way, if you haven't seen Highlander, no problem. Here's what you need to know to get this story: Methos is immortal! He's really old! MacLeod is also immortal! But not as old! There, now you're set. Everything else you need, Kat will give you. Oh, wait - there's also some funny business with swords. Okay, now you're totally set.) As soon as I read this, I knew this was always going to be the Methos in my head, and not just because Kat is worryingly good at getting into the head of an immortal who has been around since, you know, the dawn of time. (Has anyone checked Kat to make sure she's aging? I'm just saying. I have suspicions, people.) Not even because Kat is so good at writing. (And, now I think of it, isn't that also kind of suspicious? I mean, if she's had several centuries to hone her craft, that would make so much sense.)

No, it's because - okay. We've all read Borges, right? (If you haven't, oh my god, don't tell me. Just go and purchase all his short fiction immediately. If you haven't read Borges, how do you even know for sure that you're alive?) This story makes me think of "Funes el memorioso"/"Funes the Memorious," where Borges writes, "We live by leaving behind." In that story, someone who can't forget essentially can't live, because he can't move on. And I'm not going to sink into literary analysis - really really not, for the Recommenders Code of Ethics part eight states, "Don't get all literary if you can help it, but don't, like, use the word 'rediculous,' either" - but. Well. I'm just saying. The Methos of this story - the Methos in my head, in other words - would totally get Funes, and furthermore he'd probably think Funes had the worst curse man has ever known.

So, what is this story about? Methos on a road trip. And it's got a lot of things I don't generally like in a story: first person, an entirely mental narrative, the thing I warned for up there, certain, um, themes. (And I adore Kat and her writing, but oh how she hits those themes. There's a line in this story about love being a trap, the kind of trap that kills you unless you get out, and the first time I read this, I said, "Oh, Kat." Because she just encapsulated, perfectly, the thing she's said in so many stories, you know?) But it doesn't matter, none of that matters, because this is one of the most right character pieces I've ever read. Just - read it, okay?

The One That Will Give You an Inexplicable Nostalgia for Your Days Running Train Cons and Working on a Chain Gang, Which Is Strange, Given That You Never Actually Did Either. (And Aren't You Glad?) The Buried Treasure Racket, by Dorinda. The Sting, Henry Gondorff/Johnny Hooker.

I expect you've all The Sting. If not, my god, why? What is wrong with you? It's got a caper, con men, and the slashiest on-screen pairing since - well, basically, since ever and ever amen. There's sparkling dialog! There's period clothing! There's con men in love! What else do you need? Okay, Ms. Hard-to-Please, try this: Paul Newman and Robert Redford are in a class by themselves when it comes to not-entirely-subtextual sexual chemistry. And, yes, I'm going to repeat the story, since it is my favorite - Newman's wife once said that if he ever left her, it'd be for Redford. (RPSers, why aren't you already on this? It would do my heart good to know Newman/Redford was out there. In volume. There's [livejournal.com profile] newford - thanks, [livejournal.com profile] giglet, for pointing that one out - but there should be lots of this stuff, people.)

So. Here is your program for your immediate future:
  • If you have already seen The Sting, proceed directly to this story. Read it. Revel in it. (If you decide to print it out so you can roll around in it, know that I understand and am entirely supportive of your lifestyle choice, but I will not sympathize with any paper cuts you might incur; those are just the risks you take when you enjoy great fiction.)

  • If you haven't seen the movie, rent it, borrow it, buy it, steal it from your best friend, whatever. I don't care what you have to do. Watch it. Be slightly stunned at the slash coming off the screen in waves. Then read this story, and make happy squeaking noises as you do. (Entry # 6 in the RCoE: "If you can communicate with dolphins using just the power of your squee, you're doing it right.")
Whichever course you take, I think you'll find that this is the only acceptable sequel that movie could ever have. I mean, I do think there was some kind of actual, filmed sequel to this, yes. I would wager it sucked, because it wasn't this, and this - this is what actually happened after the movie ended. I truly believe that.

[livejournal.com profile] elynross got this for Yuletide 2006 - and I think we can all agree she richly deserved it - and my heart just about exploded when I read it. This is one of the stories I've been dreaming of since the day I found out about slash fandom. I can say no more.

The One That Features Maybe the Best Non-Conversation About Incriminating Underwear That I Personally Have Ever Read. And, Wow - I Think Only Sorkin Characters Could Even Have a Non-Conversation About Incriminating Underwear. Scenes from a Route, by Epigone, aka [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2. Sports Night, and I consider this gen, but it's labeled as having Casey/Dan undertones, so, really, anything you like.

I am having a Sports Night renaissance. It's official. Admittedly, this is more because suddenly there are, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sn_playbook and [livejournal.com profile] csc_memoand the efforts of many crazed Muskrat Jamboreers, Sports Night stories available for me to read and link to than because I've suddenly fallen back in love with Sports Night. Because the thing is, my love for the fandom (and the show) never left. But now I actually have stuff to love, as opposed to just sending Dan and Casey random "Hey, I love you! And I miss you! But you'll always be in my heart! *sniffle*" postcards. (Not that they don't appreciate the postcards. I'm sure they do; in fact, they probably read them out loud to each other and argue over which one of them their mysterious correspondent is stalking. It's just, it's not the most productive fannish outlet, is all.)

And I really love this story. It's delicious, it's gorgeous, and I was completely paralyzed when I attempted to leave feedback for it, because really, "gorgeous" is about as coherent as I can possibly get about this. I just - oh, Dan. Oh, Casey. This story reminds me of how helplessly I love them both.

This story is Dan and Casey before the show - the route they took to get to the show, with all the detours and sideshows and unfortunate incidents with bad map reading and people pulling over to the side of the road to be sick, and, okay, I'm working the trip metaphor too hard. Going to stop now.

Instead, I'll just say that this story is not exactly how I pictured Dan and Casey in the pre-show days. And that doesn't matter at all, because I read this and loved every word of it and believed every sentence. And when someone writes a story that contradicts your personal, irrational, deeply-held-to-the-point-of-insanity convictions about a character's pre-canon history, and you love it even so, then that is a fabulous story. Which is what this is.

You go read it. I'm going to sit here and be incoherent and thrilled and totally in love with Sports Night, okay? You can join me after you're done.

-Football Footnote-

* You can see this play here. You can also see the deeply unfortunate helmets. I suggest you click through for two reasons (or three, if you like to see people with shiny things on their heads):
  1. The announcers totally lose it and start shrieking. It's hysterical. Sports reporting apparently does not have "dignity" as a prerequisite.

  2. If you're me, you'll start wondering if all college football is, um, quite that hands-on. You take the handsy-ness, you add the emotion - it all starts to seem kind of - well, slashy. But that could just be me.

    I'm betting it's not, though.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Hi! I keep thinking, "When I am less miserable, I will post recs." And today, as I threw up for the third time (thanks to my allergy shots, of all things), it occurred to me: maybe I'm this miserable because I haven't posted any recs. Perhaps I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps the hideousness of withdrawal from recommending fan fiction is the thing no one warns you about until it is too late. (If it is, I am totally blaming all of you, and especially you recommenders. This is your fault. Maybe.)

It's a working theory that will keep me from despairing, and, frankly, that's what I need right now. I don't even care if it's not logical. Don't tell me. I want to believe that if I only post recs I will regain the ability to breathe and swallow, okay?

So. I sort of remember how this goes. I, um, pick a theme, right? And then I rec stuff in it. Except, whoa, I have no idea what theme to pick. So here's a thought: how 'bout stories that are not scary - are, in fact, funny and hot and deeply satisfying - that I still associate with fear?

Look. I said I was rusty. The goal here is to get my recommending back in gear before I die of fan fiction withdrawal. I don't have time for the niceties, people.

The One That Brought Me the Terrifying Knowledge That We Live in a World That Contains Two Orange Sports Coats. Two! How Could There Possibly Be Two? Will Dunk for Brains, by [livejournal.com profile] minervacat. Sports Night, gen.

I even checked with the author to be sure she wasn't making it up, and although she could have lied and let me move back to my happy place, she chose not to. Apparently she lives in service to the truth or something. Or possibly she just enjoys seeing me cower under my desk in terror. In any case, she says that there really are two orange sports coats in this world. And they both belong to men named Bruce. (I knew there was a reason I didn't trust that name! Obviously, Bruces are allied with the Dark Arts. The fashion-impaired Dark Arts.) I haven't seen photographic evidence on this, but I am still shattered.

It's just. It's hard. I mean, you want to believe good things about this world, you try to believe good things about the world, and then you find out that not only are there orange sports coats in it, but we could very well someday face the tragedy of having them on television. Where innocent children can see! (And, worse, where I can see.)

But, so, okay, this story shattered my world in the first few lines. I love it anyway. I mean, it links college sports with zombies. And it does so in a way that is awesome and totally in voice and funny. (Although we all know zombies aren't funny, right? Because they are the number one imaginary menace to our society. When you add that to orange sports coats, well, this story has a really high Society Menace Quotient. Possibly [livejournal.com profile] minervacat is trying to destroy us all.)

And it is Sports Night, and we all know the magic equation: Sports Night = love. So, trust me, you'll love this - it's a good Sports Night story, so what choice do you have?

Just, uh, keep a weather eye out for sports-coated flesh-eating zombies named Bruce. (Or Tyler.)

The One That Has Me Living in Fear of the Scorn of My Bookcases. Curtains Are Monogamous, by [livejournal.com profile] sheldrake. Anthropomorfic, Curtain/Curtain.

Okay, more than anything I love the tone of this story, the voice of it. I am quite convinced that if curtains could talk, they'd sound like this. (This is why we have blinds. No offense to curtains, mind you, just - if inanimate objects are going to be committing acts of intimacy on my windows, I at least want them to be having an orgy, by gum. None of this sappy curtain monogamy for my windows! OT16 all the way.)

Also, I love this because it contains Deathless Truths for the Ages. ("Curtains don't care whether people are girls or boys or anything, although we are mainly interested in other curtains." Those are words to live by, and I am quite seriously considering printing them out and putting them over my computer. Plus, I am going to try working "We are mainly interested in other curtains" into every sentence I can. Should be fun. Should also be unfortunate evidence in my inevitable committal hearing, but maybe I'll get lucky and get a fangirl judge.)

So, really, it's a minor quibble, really, that this story has left me wondering if all bookcases are that snarky and petty, and if they are - god, we have, um, lots. What if they all hate us? What if your furniture is what votes on whether you go to a Good Place or a Bad Place after you die? Our bookcases would definitely have the swing vote, and probably they deeply resent our habit of double-shelving and our half-assed approach to earthquake strapping!

Okay, okay, panic over. And it's a fabulous story. Just, you know. Maybe try to read it in a room without bookcases, if you can. (Do you think ours would forgive us if I hugged them? Hmmm. Probably they'd consider it a liberty. Also, there's that committal hearing to worry about; "hugs furniture" almost certainly would not go on the "sane" side of the balance sheet.)

The One That Reminds Me of the Night of Shrieking Terror, Also Known As the Night I Fired My Entire Friends List in Absentia. Stuck in Traffic at the Magic Roundabout, by [livejournal.com profile] xwingace. Torchwood x Doctor Who, and frankly I refuse to assess the gen/slash/het quotient of any story involving Jack Harkness. There is not world enough or time.

So. Okay. Those of you who have been constantly telling me that it's insane that I love time travel and yet have not seen New Who, fine, whatever, you win. The ninth Doctor is made of awesome, the new series is made of awesome, and I love all characters in it immensely and uncritically. Plus, OMG, time travel. You were right. Happy now?

But wait. Do not do your little victory butt-dance yet, my friends. You are still fired.

Because you also said, "Oh, you'll love Jack Harkness! He's fabulous! He's a fifty-first century guy!" and so on. And not one of you warned me that the two-part episode in which he is introduced is one of the scariest things ever recorded. I left claw marks in Best Beloved. I insisted we stop in the middle and turn on all the lights and lock all the doors. I squeezed my dogs tightly and refused to let them leave me. I hyperventilated, people. (Yes, fine. Those of you who are all brave and stuff can mock me. And those of you who are wondering why I haven't tried Supernatural, well, now you know. I don't handle stark terror well.) (And, by the way, what is wrong with the British? Life on Mars has a creepy child with a clown. Doctor Who has a creepy child with a gas mask. Am I the only one who can sense the evil plot at work here?)

Still, you were right. I do love Jack Harkness. Those of you who have seen the end of the first season will understand why I was thus a little less than pleased with it. (Okay, actually, a lot less than pleased. *snf*) It sort of left some, uh, loose ends, ends that Best Beloved tells me are not tied up in the next season. (I am resisting the next season. I don't handle change well; this may make me an unsuitable case for Doctor Who fandom.) But this story? This story ties all the loose ends, explains everything, provides the perfect link between Doctor Who and Torchwood (Which, no, I haven't seen - look, I'm getting there, okay? Eventually. Praise me for what I've accomplished!), and just basically makes me a shiny happy fangirl.

Seriously. If you've seen the first season of Doctor Who, read this. (If you haven't, go watch it and then read this. You won't be sorry, I promise you.) It will make your heart happy. (Which it will probably need after episodes nine and ten. Oh my god the terror. SO VERY FIRED, all of you.)

The One That Makes Me Fear Dorinda and [livejournal.com profile] tzikeh. Trust Me, If They Combine Their Evil Superpowers, No One Will Be Safe. Admittedly, What We Won't Be Safe from Is Mostly Porn and Such, So I Can't Say I'm All That Worried, but the Point Stands. Some Living After We Die, by Dorinda. Life on Mars, Gene Hunt/Sam Tyler.

The moral of this story is kind of hidden, but it's very clear to me, so let me just state it right here, for the record: do not challenge [livejournal.com profile] tzikeh. Because, okay, you might be sitting around in her LJ one day, making casual comments like, "Oh, I really don't see the slash in Life on Mars, because blah blah blah blah." And then she will give you a single devastating link and change your whole outlook on life and you will be forced to admit to her that yes, she was right and you were totally wrong. And also you will have a great story to read.

...Wait. What was the down side to challenging [livejournal.com profile] tzikeh again? I think I will go pick an argument with her right this minute and see what else she links me to.

Because this story, oh, god, it is so wonderful. See, I had this list of reasons I didn't see the Gene/Sam - like, you know, they're both obsessed with their jobs, and that's not how they work out the tension between the two of them (usually there's just a lot of punching), and also Gene wouldn't think of himself that way even if he did give a blow job, and anyway getting that man on his knees would require, I don't know, a gun and a couple of swift kicks.

But in this story, Dorinda takes all those reasons - acknowledges them, works with them, and then turns them into alleyway sex. I don't know how she did it, precisely - I assume magic was involved - but oh, I know it works. After reading this story, I went from "Yeah, I don't see it" to "Well...I don't exactly - okay, look, fine, I get it, I love it, I will totally take it home with me and feed it and let it sleep on my couch. So why aren't there more stories like this, damn it?" Because this is a Sam I buy, and a Gene I buy, and it is a perfect depiction of the relationship between the two of them. And it involves alleyway sex. Life just does not get better than that, people.

So, I guess the real moral here is: go argue with [livejournal.com profile] tzikeh. You'll like her methods of changing your mind. But first read this story, because you'll like Dorinda's methods even better.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Do you ever have one of those Bad Fannish Idea days? Where, like, you think, "I know what'd be cool! A Fullmetal Alchemist x Supernatural crossover. Yes, I want that, despite the fact that I don't know either fandom and it would be so angst-filled that small nations would simply collapse under the weight of the despair and never really know why." Or you think, "OMG! I will buy a vidder in Sweet Charity, and I will have her vid Smallville to Thunder Road, with Lex as the narrator and Clark as Mary." (Speaking of Sweet Charity, won't some ho-ish type go over there and offer her services in Making LJs Pretty? I don't want a banner; I want someone to create general prettiness via magic, because I am really damn tired of my blue boxes. Someone must be willing to do that for a good cause!)

Anyway. I am having a Bad Fannish Idea day, obviously. (Come on! It'd be the Angsty Sons of Tragically Dead Mothers crossover. Or, OMG, a fusion, where Dean and Sam are alchemists and Sam is a suit of armor and - oh my god, this is total craziness. I don't know either fandom. Someone help me. At least give me a Bad Fannish Idea in a fandom I actually know.)

So, here is my feeble attempt at distracting myself from my Bad Fannish Ideas. (Or, like - I could buy a vidder and have her do "I Will Survive" for Jack/Daniel after Daniel's ascension: "So you're back/from outer space/I just walked in to find you here/With that same look upon your face/I should have locked the stupid gate/I should have changed your IDC/If I'd known for just one second" - oh god it's a sickness I can't stop won't someone for the love of all that is holy please help me? Think of the fandom!) Other people's Good Fannish Ideas! They can save me!

Perhaps I can catch some sanity off these stories. God, I hope so.

So, is there a theme to this set? Not really. Kind of. See, a while ago, I did the interview meme in [livejournal.com profile] vassilissa's LJ, and one of the questions she asked me was what I'm reading right now. I gave her the non-fannish answers right away, because, well, it's easy to list the books I have in my purse, on my bedside table, next to the stove, and next to the computer. (Yes. Fine. I have a reading problem. I've gotten better, okay? You should have seen me when I was little - except, wait, you couldn't have, because my face was always buried in a book.) The fannish answer, though, was a little harder.

I guess you could say right now, I'm reading sort of randomly. I'm in a phase of waiting, fannishly speaking: waiting for the next fandom to eat me alive, waiting for the next fandom I feel compelled to read through the entire catalog of and then whine bitterly for more more more. (If you've ever felt the desire to pimp me into something, now would likely be a good time.) So, while I'm waiting, I'm reading a combination of new fandoms - fandoms I don't know at all, with, of course, canons I don't know at all - and new stories in old favorite fandoms.

Let's start with the new stories in old favorite fandoms, shall we?

The One That Proves That When We Talk About How the Other Half Lives, We Really Don't Know the Half of It. (Uh, That Pun Was Unintentional. Please Forgive.) Freaky Tuesday, by [livejournal.com profile] etben. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.

Oh, due South. I will forever love you, and not just because you have communities with names like [livejournal.com profile] stop_drop_porn. No, really, the love mostly comes straight from the characters themselves, and of course from the fact that in dS, anything goes. Bodyswap? Of course, no problem - if the canon had run a season longer, it would certainly have happened, and it probably would have in fact been explained just the way it is in this story: a minor error in the application of fabric arts.

(Hey, I'm not pointing fingers at the person who made the error, here. Macramé is hard. I know this for a fact because my mother took it up when I was six, mercifully briefly, for a summer that will probably be known in our official family history, in the unlikely event that someone writes one, as the Time of Unfortunate Knot-Related Incidents. Also, let me just share with you a hard lesson learned early: if someone asks you to hold something just for one second, and that person is doing a craft, don't. You'll end up knotted into a plant holder while your mother tries to figure out how to get you back out. I suppose my parents were lucky CPS didn't stop by while she was flipping through the book looking for the part titled "If You Have Accidentally Made Your Child a Permanent Part of Your Project.")

And this story reminds me of all the reasons I love and will always love dS. I mean, the way the guys adapt to being in each other's bodies - for Ray, this is just some deeper-than-usual undercover work, and for Fraser, well, he has weirder things than this in his closet, and I mean that literally. Plus, hey: it was written for [livejournal.com profile] stop_drop_porn. So there is sex. And since I firmly believe that these guys were OMG MEANT TO BE, like forever, with cherries on top (Yes. Cherries. Oh, you are totally a perv, you know that? You just read dirtiness into everything. It's why I love you.), so in love and totally doing it, the sex makes me almost as happy as the bodyswappage does.

The One That Got Me Reading a Book About a TV Show I Had Not Even Heard of Prior to Reading This Story. Yes, That's Pathetic, Because It Turns out to Have Been the Basis for One of My Favorite Shows Ever, but - I'm Slow, Okay? Five Things Sorkin Never Got to Steal from Sportscenter (But Probably Would Have, if Sports Night Hadn’t Been Cancelled), by [livejournal.com profile] scrunchy. Sports Night, gen.

Oh, Sports Night. I will forever love you, and this despite the fact that you managed to make me feel like a total idiot for not realizing that Sports Night, the show, was inspired on an actual TV show on an actual TV station. (They have shows! About sports news! On TV! Who knew? Oh, right, everyone in the whole world but me. Please hide your mocking laughter and pretend, at least to my face, that I am not pathetic and so culturally out of touch that I might as well be from Planet Zik'tch. Also, if you are in the neighborhood of Zik'tch, stop by and tell my people - no, not those people; I still have my boobs - that I miss them, okay?)

This is just - I am incoherent with glee about this story. For one, I cannot believe that these things more or less happened in the real world. For another, Scrunchy managed to convert them into the SN world so perfectly that I am starting to believe she's Aaron Sorkin reborn. (And before you say, "But Aaron Sorkin isn't dead," - look. I'm not saying he is. I'm just saying I think Scrunchy has his soul and his writing mojo. Maybe they have a timeshare arrangement or maybe she made a dark pact with the Elder Gods - I'm no expert on the metaphysics of writing, people. I just know absolutely perfect voice when I read it.) For yet another - wow, this totally gave me the best kind of emotional whiplash. It's not often that I go, within the space of a single five-things story, from real, honest laughing out loud to snuffling sadly to saying, "Awwwwwww" to the monitor, but this one makes me do that. Every single time I read it. And I will have you know I've read it an indecent amount since it was posted.

The One That Proves That the First Rule of Elf Orgies Is - Look, It Doesn't Matter, Because You All Stopped Paying the Slightest Attention As Soon As You Read the Words "Elf Orgies," Didn't You? An Earthly Knight, by [livejournal.com profile] ltlj. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/original female characters, John Sheppard/original male characters.

Oh, SGA. I will forever love you (and, yes, you do qualify as an old favorite now, so there), because - well, just look at this story. John turns into an elf. ([livejournal.com profile] ltlj has, um, some pictorial evidence that he maybe didn't have that far to go, which she might show you if she's feeling nice.) And it's just - well, of course he does. It's the Pegasus Galaxy! These things happen! If the characters have any sense, they're just thinking, "Well, it could be worse. He could be a feral elf vampire. With wings."

And, see, in another fandom, any story with this concept (and certainly any story with the rating "NC-17 for elfsex" - I mean, except in LotR) would be crack (...and if anyone mentions elf MPreg drawings right now, that's five points off the house of all humanity, and ten more if anyone links to them), but this is SGA. So it isn't crack. It's just a bunch of folks asking themselves that eternal question: what do you do with a feral elf? My own personal answer would be, "Run," but this is why I am not cut out for life in Pegasus, I suppose. The characters just knuckle down to some problem solving, Pegasus-style. (Except John, who knuckles down to the elf orgies. It's hard to be John Sheppard, folks.)

Note, by the way: this was written for the awesome [livejournal.com profile] 14valentines project, which I admire more than I can possibly say. It's over for this year, now - god forbid I should ever recommend anything in a timely fashion - but you can still hit the community and check out all the awesomeness it inspired. And you can still give to the causes it was built to support, because, sadly, women are still in need.

The One That Made Me Nostalgic for Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Which Is Odd, Because I Only Started Eating Peanut Butter Sandwiches This Year. Feel That, by [livejournal.com profile] fearlessfan. Friday Night Lights, Tyra Collette/Jason Street.

Yes, this would mark my subtle transition from fandoms I love to fandoms I, well, barely know. Fandoms, if you will, that I have slept with a few times, and now I'm trying to figure out their last names and if I want to hook up again with them on the weekend, and, like, do I have their phone number, even? Normally I try to avoid recommending stories when I'm in this stage with fandoms, mostly because it involves a lot of embarrassing things like admitting to myself that I don't know the full names of the characters, even, and cannot say what is canon and what is not, and in fact could not testify in court that the canon even exists. All I can say is, blame [livejournal.com profile] vassilissa. She asked.

So. I can't tell you anything at all about Friday Night Lights. (It's about teenagers! In Texas! Who play football! So actually I do know stuff. Just not, you know, minor details. Like names and things.) But I can tell you that I love this story, because, well. First, this is high school, people. Or perhaps I should say, "this is adolescence." I mean, I did not go to a small, football-obsessed high school in Texas - one could, in fact, say I didn't really go to high school at all, in any practical sense. But I did my time as an adolescent, as we all must. And that, of course, means I did my share of adolescent stuff (and also the shares of at least three random strangers - I was very dedicated to the whole teen experience, or at least the really stupid parts). And, wow - in this story, [livejournal.com profile] fearlessfan so perfectly captures the feeling of adolescence - the intensity, the awkwardness, the surprising moments of sweetness, the less-surprising moments of sourness, the way things change, the way small moments are really really huge.

Basically, I love this story because it made me like the characters. It made me believe in the characters. What more can I say?

The One That Proves That, No Matter What Hallmark Might Try to Tell You, an Anachronism Is Really the Greatest Gift of All. The Discovery, by [livejournal.com profile] kaneko. Torchwood, Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones. (Hey, I only had to look up last names for half of this pairing! I already knew Jack Harkness, and I'm very proud of that, despite the fact that I believe everyone in fandom has heard of him by now. The man seems to, um. Get around a bit.)

Some of you may be aware that I have a time travel kink. And when I say "kink," I am - well, wildly understating the matter.

I've said this before, but - I watched the 2002 movie of The Time Machine with incredible enjoyment, despite the fact that - as Best Beloved pointed out to me when we left the theater - it, well, sucked. Because: time travel. You take a character, you send him through time, and I will be captivated and happy, even if the part of my brain that has actual intelligent function is sending out desperate cries of, "OMG help cannot take the suckage SAVE US." My point: time travel hits me in my primitive hindbrain, and my primitive hindbrain doesn't care if something sucks.

But this story, this story is the precise opposite of suck: it made my hindbrain and my actual brain happy. If time travel = happy TFV, then time travel + good story = TFV weak with joy. I mean, I don't know these characters at all - I understand that Jack is a stuck time traveler, and I hear he's in charge of a team of (possibly) lovable misfits in modern-day Cardiff, but that's where all my understanding ends - but I didn't need to know them to love this story. And I don't want to spoil the central plot point, here, but - god, it works. It's so perfectly normal, and then it's so perfectly time travel, and I loved every minute of Jack's reaction to this situation, I loved loved loved the plot point, I just - I loved the story, okay? And it satisfied the voracious beast that lives in my hindbrain and shrieks non-stop for time travel stories.

Really, I could not ask for more or better than that. Except maybe more of the same. The hindbrain beast is ever hungry, you know.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Recently, I experienced what was apparently a fever-related critical intelligence failure and imported all my bookmarks to del.icio.us.

There were 4000 of them.

Three thousand of those were fannish.

I expect that sorting, tagging, and fixing those 3000 will take me approximately the rest of my life.

But this process, though apparently interminable, is also interesting, because I've realized that these bookmarks are my fannish history. Looking at them, I can see precisely where and how I started reading fan fiction (you don't want to know, and I don't want to tell you), how long it took me to find good fan fiction (so painfully long that I'm still not sure why I didn't give up), when fan fiction became an all-consuming hobby, displacing all my others (October, 2003). And what interests me most of all is that, in retrospect, I can see which bookmarks are epochal.

And, hey. If I'm going to wade through my fannish history, why not share? So here it is: A History of TFV as a Young Fan: A Tale Told in Links. (Part one. I'm only up to August 2004 in my bookmarks.)

The One That Gave Me Hope: Silence, by [livejournal.com profile] cinzia.

In the summer of 2003, I was, as had become my custom, browsing around archives of LotR fan fiction, and what I was finding was, well, basically really horrible. I would get a list of all the stories in a given site, and I would go through them methodically, and inevitably I would end up reading something involving Legolas braiding Boromir's hair and making daisy chains that involved actual flowers. (Or, god forbid, orcs. Or, typically, both.)

I was tough, then, a brave young fan, not crabbed and aged as I am today. But even so, it was, well, disheartening. I loved the concept too much to give up, and I loved my brain, my eyes, and the English language too much to keep reading. Those were hard times, is what I'm saying. Then, on a magical day in July 2003, I bitched about this to Best Beloved.

Me: My god, every story on this site is from hell. These people obviously don't know English and yet they insist on writing entire conversations in Elvish. Also, someone needs to explain to these people that quotes from Nickleback and original Elvish poetry do not belong in the same damn story. Or even in separate ones, actually.
Best Beloved: Huh. Maybe you should, um, stop?
Me, helplessly: I can't.

[There is a pause while we both consider how pathetic this is.]

BB: So what are you reading right now?
Me, staring dispiritedly at the screen: Something about Aragorn crying because Legolas - oh, wait, sorry, Leggy - doesn't love him enough. With apostrophe-laden plurals. And - oh, god - Elvish love juice.
BB, clearly impressed: Wow. This I have to see.

[BB sits down at the computer. Two minutes pass.]

BB: I don't know what you're complaining about. This isn't so bad.
Me, bitterly: Well, maybe you and Leggy can consummate your love in a wooded glade with a series of random dots pretending to be ellipses, then.
BB: No, really. Read this. It's pretty good.

"This," as it turned out, was Silence, and it was the best story I'd read in LotR fandom. (Best Beloved, I feel the need to note here, had found it with a single random click. I had been diligently clicking on LotR FF for months, and I hadn't found anything even approaching readable, but - I'm totally over it. Delighted that BB could help me find the way, even if the way was apparently random clicking by someone other than me. Absolutely. Fucking. Delighted.)

I'd learned an important truth: the good stuff was out there. Of course, I still didn't have a clue how to find it. But that was, in comparison to the good stuff not actually existing, a really minor problem.

The One That Made Me Understand That Fandom Is a Conversation: The Elements of Slash: Inside the Wacky, Weird World of "Lord of the Rings" Slash Fiction, by Morgan Richter.

I started in fandom as an entirely passive consumer of fan fiction. I thought things about it - a lot of things, including that Legolas should never, ever be called "Leggy" - but I didn't articulate those things (excepted in hand-wavy dinner conversations), and I sure never considered that other people might be thinking about them, too.

Then, in September of 2003, I found this essay while randomly googling. (And, oh, until I saw some of the other links I'd bookmarked around that time, I'd almost forgotten how sad the random google phase of a fan's life is. Thank god for discoveries like this.) It was a revelation. There was another person out there! And she was interested in slash, and yet she could spell and punctuate and totally understood that in a reasonable universe, no one would ever have to read the phrase "his milky alabaster skin."

I was amazed. And pleased. And once I knew that this fans-discussing-fandom-and-fan-fiction stuff existed, I started looking for it. In short order, I found The Fanfic Symposium, and from there I branched out all over. I found the Mary Sue Litmus Tests and spent a happy evening reading about the ecology of the strange creature known as Mary Sue. (As I was going through the del.icio.us links, I realized the original Mary Sue Litmus Test, which I joyfully bookmarked three years ago, had been written by someone I read every day here on LJ. So, hey, [livejournal.com profile] mtgat! I've apparently been loving your work way longer than I thought.)

The picture of fandom in my head started to change. I no longer imagined random individuals writing and other random individuals reading, all in strange solitude. I realized that fandom was a community, a community of people thinking about stuff, paying attention to it, talking about it, writing about it. My picture of the average fan changed, too, from a 14-year-old girl posting, "OMG I just saw part of Felowship and Orli is so HAWTTTT I had to write this! It's my first time! Review lots or NO MORE updates!!!!" to someone - well, interesting. Someone I might want to know.

Someone I might want to be.

The Fellowship of the Rings made me read fan fiction. But meta made me a fan.

The One That Gave Me Half of My Forty-or-So Fandoms: Out of Whack, by Bone, aka [livejournal.com profile] thisisbone, and Aristide, aka [livejournal.com profile] cimmerians*.

I spent the fall of 2003 exploring fandom and reading obsessively. (Or, okay, I've done that since the fall of 2003, but I'm specifically talking about then.) I learned that maybe random archives weren't my friend. More importantly, I learned that another not-my-friend thing was kind of integral to fandom. Namely, television.

I know a lot of people have a great relationship with television and I'm very happy for you (and by "happy" I mean "seething with sickening envy"), but mine has always been kind of a - well, let me put it this way. I just turned to Best Beloved and said, "I need an analogy for my relationship with television. I was thinking in terms of Kate and Petruchio, but that doesn't quite do it, somehow."

Best Beloved said: "Guido and those people who miss their payments to the mob. Or Henry the VIII and most of his wives." See. I just. It has never worked out between TV and me. I've tried, and so have several tireless, courageous souls, and I've gotten a lot better - I've probably managed to get all the way from Anne Boleyn to Anne of Cleves (TV, of course, is playing Henry VIII). But still. TV/TFV is never going to be a pairing of legend, unless the legend involves a lot of headaches, stupid questions, avoidance, and humiliating misunderstandings.

But I was learning that most major fandoms were TV shows. I felt - well, hampered. But in November 2003, I clicked on Out of Whack. Some careful reading later, I learned a great truth: fan fiction can be canon-optional. Later, I learned that I am actually much more likely to enjoy reading the fan fiction if I don't know the canon when I start, and TV fandoms became my happy home.

Due South, Sports Night, SG1, SGA, Smallville - I have all those fandoms, and many more, because of this story, because of the lesson it taught me. And that lesson is: stories about a guy listening to his "roommate" jerking off are the Rosetta Stones of fandom. The sex provides, um, helpful keys, and I can kind of build the rest of the canon's grammar and lexicon from there. (Actually, I would soon acquire an unholy passion for reconstructing canon from fan fiction. But that's a story for Part Two.)

Suddenly, my fannish reading wasn't limited by anything other than my interest, my time, my preferences, and my squicks. In any reasonable movie, this is the place where "Ode to Joy" would start playing.

The One That Gave Me This LJ: Confidence Men, by Dorinda.

In January 2004 I heard about [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, and I was pathetically excited. I had developed a great love of small fandoms, and this was clearly the small-fandom-lover's holy grail.

I went to the archive and did my usual hopeful clicking. (Note: Yuletide is pretty much the only archive on the planet where this strategy regularly works for me. Yet more proof that it is a Christmas Miracle.)

My first click took me to Confidence Men. I was stunned. It was beyond good, beyond great; it was perfect. And I felt, welling up inside, something very familiar to me and every religious weirdo on this earth: the urge to proselytize.

See, when I read something wonderful, I want to tell everyone about it, get everyone to read it. I just can't bear to think of those sad, lonely, damned souls, unaware of the joy and peace they can find in the holy embrace of really good reading material. But at that point in my life, I had no outlet for my proselytizing urge. (Free advice: when you meet a proselytizer with no pulpit, run. In. Fear. The urge is so strong that, if not given a regular outlet, it can build to the point where the proselytizer is grabbing random strangers on the street and shouting, "OMG Ted Chiang read him now or you will BURN BURN BURN!") I'd been reviewing books, and that was a perfect way for me to meet my proselytizing needs without becoming (more of) a menace to society, but then my family found my book reviews, and I couldn't write them anymore. (For reasons unknown, I can share things with the entire internet or with people related to me by blood. Not both.)

So. It's January 2004. I have just read Confidence Men and told Best Beloved about it. And I need to tell other people, but - who is left to tell? (Yes, I did tell Dorinda, but, um. At that point, I wasn't exactly ready for prime time in the area of actual fannish communication. I mean, some would say I'm still not there yet, but I definitely wasn't there then. Dorinda was incredibly kind and good-natured about the whole thing, although I've always wondered if she passed my email around to her friends with, like, "Warning: Total Whackjob" in the subject line. I would've deserved it.) The urge to share the fabulousness - convert people to it, even - built and built and built, and by March 2004, when I set up this LJ at the encouragement of some folks from the late lamented Fametracker Forums - well. I pretended I wasn't going to post. But I wasn't even fooling myself, not really.

The One That Gave Me a Look at How the Other Half Lives: Untitled, by, well, me.

Obviously, I wouldn't recommend my own story - and if I did, for the record, it would not be this one - but this isn't a recs set. It's a history of my fannish evolution. And this was a big change for me; it gave me a sort of fannish superbranchial organ, and suddenly I could breathe on land for short periods. (The story also ushered in the Era of Having a Secret LJ, about which I will only say that it proved that I am much too lazy to have secrets. I came out as a fan fiction writer because I just could not take all the work, the intense and demanding labor, of logging out and logging back in every time I wanted to reply to a comment.)

Until the summer of 2004, I didn't think I was a fan fiction writer. Sure, I'd written my share of humiliating-to-recall pre-fandom fan fiction; like, in second grade, when we were assigned to write a paragraph about a book we'd read, I wrote about 35 pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder's diary. And turned it in the next day. Let's just say I probably deserved the weird evaluations that that teacher gave me for the rest of the year. (All right. In all honesty, I got them before, too; I was the bad kind of special. But after I handed in that masterpiece, I have to assume she thought I was the really bad kind of special.)

But before Sports Night, I had no desire or ability to write fan fiction.

And then I actually watched some canon, and I realized I could hear the characters in my head. (Still can. Danny and Casey: always in my heart and always in my mind.) Yeah, yeah - bad kind of special, all right, I know. But I wrote it down and posted the sucker.

Here's the thing. This didn't just make me realize I could do something I was sure I couldn't. It also changed the way I interacted with fandom and canons. Writing fan fiction, taking an active, interactive approach to the canon, made me - well. I can't really quantify the change, except to say that I no longer saw canons as static, or unchangeable, or even privileged. (I've always seen books that way, sure, but TV - well, I'd just kind of figured it knew best.)

In other words, after I wrote this, I started interacting with canons the same way I always had with fan fiction: evaluating, analyzing, criticizing, changing. (I've written more fan fiction for fan fiction than for all my canons put together, and I started writing that long before I started this story. I've continued stories, I've remixed them, I've written sequels and missing scenes and fixes. I don't share this stuff, obviously - well, except for when I'm playing with [livejournal.com profile] z_rayne's work, since she loves to see what other people do with her toys even when what they do is pretty dorky and eternally unfinished.)

And there endeth part one. In part two, assuming I survive the links, we'll see Godzilla on the rampage in downtown Tokyo. Well, no - what we'll see, mostly, is TFV dancing on the slippery, slippery slope. But I will try to throw in some roaring and stomping, because, as we all know, added giant mutant lizards = added giant mutant fun!

-Footnote-

* Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] sockkpuppett!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I've been writing a lot of mental letters lately. You know the kind - the ones that go:
Dear Mother Nature,

I'm dying and you just keep putting out the pollen. Some of us are suffering here, but do you care? No. Heartless bitch.

Deeply looking forward to the post-modern technological dystopia,
TFV
And:
Dear stomach,

Ow. Also, ow. Also, ew. I'm sorry you've got problems, but do you have to let them affect our relationship like this?

Remember the experience with the chalk-flavored radioactive substances? It can happen again, stomach. It can happen again.

Yours in hopes of a future partnership that's more Ray-and-Fraser than killer-and-knife-named-Betty-Lou,
TFV
And (of course):
Dear Kimberly-Clark,

Not. Stupid. Just. Menstruating.

Periodically yours,
TFV
Naturally, this got me to thinking about documents. And as I have a well-documented kink for the document-within-a-document, well, um, uh...damn. If I could've used 'document' one more time in this intro, I would've gotten an ice-cream cake.

This is how dreams die, people. Ah, well. On to the fan fiction.

The One That Teaches Us All the Importance of Occasionally Not Running for Our Lives or Getting Shot in the Ass. Leave the Light On, by [livejournal.com profile] cherryice. Doctor Who, gen. Disclaimer: I was one of the beta-readers of this story, but, seriously, I didn't do much; it was like this when I got there.

See, now, I do not know this fandom. Like, at all. There's a TARDIS, there's a Time Lord, there's a Companion, all this I know from watching my sister watch Doctor Who reruns on some random TV station back in the Dark Ages. (An advantage of Doctor Who fandom: it is, apparently, eternal. A fandom for the ages.) And my attempts to get to know the recent iteration of the fandom are uniformly doomed: downloads fail to download, or fail to extract, or fail to run, and discs disappear into the sandy mists of the postal service, and it's just...it's very doomed, is what it is - like, I suspect the Elder Gods of having an involvement here. So my knowledge is limited (by the forces of EVIL), but I do know that this new Doctor has a wrinkle. A wrinkle named Jack. And, whoa: turns out you don't have to know Jack at all to love his pansexual, uniformed, fifty-first century ass.

And this story is all about Jack, meaning I loved it pretty much from the get-go; in fact, and you'd need to check with [livejournal.com profile] cherryice to be sure, I suspect my beta emails were mostly incoherent, get-this-girl-a-drug-test-stat ramblings about the wonderful, wonderful, uh, you know, wonder of it all. My head is easily turned by a science fiction trope, and so I especially adore the colony world this story describes, the pathetic mundane probability of the scenario. I also love - and this is a lot rarer for me - the slow, horrifying build of this, the way realization sneaks up and whaps you on the head while you're distracted by this overwhelming wave of pure love for the Doctor, Jack, and Rose. And, because I am a total wuss, I also love (like, a lot), the way this story is structured: you get the hurt (all the more painful, at least to me, because it's so prosaic and possible) and the comfort (likewise simple and possible - I mean, except all the TARDIS-Time Lord-phone booth stuff). I just...I have love for this story, people. And also Jack. And the Doctor. And Rose. That is all.

The One That Teaches Us This Holy Lesson: Froot Loops Are Love. No, Really, They Are. Disgusting, Styrofoam-Flavored Love, but Who Am I to Judge? Fan Mail from a Flounder, by Punk, aka [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall.

Here, Danny discovers his one true love: email. Fortunately, that turns out to be a momentary blip, and he soon discovers his other one true love, but not until nearly everyone wants to punch him for talking about email so much. I think we can all sympathize. In fact, what's really miraculous is how charming Punk manages to make this behavior seem. Or, I don't know, maybe it's just me - I mean, am I the only one who has had to suffer through excruciating wedding receptions in which relatives tell me excitedly about how they've recently started using "the AOL"? (And I won't even try to describe the horror that was trying to explain email to my aunt, who believes in her heart that microwave ovens are destroying the American family. I will say, though, that the question, "But how does it get to the other computer? How does it know?" can still bring me to tears.)

This story is kind of a two-for-one, because there are two documents in it. One is an email that describes Dan as a "twenty-first century prince," which he probably is, and says that he understands the infield fly rule, which we know he doesn't because he's mostly sane and can still put his pants on without help. But the other is the one that reminds me exactly why I have loved, and will always love, this fandom. When a shopping list can make my heart swell with pure, sweet OTP love, well. That's a fandom that will never fade. Oh, Sports Night. My love is true.

The One That Makes Me Wonder What I'd Want My Epitaph to Be, If I Was Ever in Similar Circumstances.* Traces Through Time, by Icarus, aka [livejournal.com profile] icarusancalion. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

Disclaimer: I love time travel stories. In non-fan fiction formats, I am the least critical consumer of them ever.** But, for reasons unknown to me, the exemption that all other forms of media get for giving me what I love (Time travel! Diaries! Gay!) does not extend to fan fiction; I'm an incredibly demanding reader when it comes to FF that hits my personal bulletproof kinks. When you can almost always get at least a little of exactly what you want, you're much less tolerant of near misses. That pretty much summarizes my entire fan fiction experience, right there.

Because, see, sometimes I do get exactly what I want. Like, take this story. I will just never leave fandom as long as there are stories in which Rodney is accidentally sent back in time and John reads his trapped-in-time diary and figures out how to help him and also gets to read a multi-page and very loving description of his cock. I just am incapable of even summoning up the words to describe my glee about this. It's like - it's like Marooned in Realtime***, but with an entirely happy ending. And the document. Oh, the document - I would totally kill to read an extended edition of this story with much longer passages from Rodney's Lost in Time diary. Or extracts from the symphony. Yes, he wrote John a symphony. (And that, my friends, is where my hard and shriveled little heart just melted into a puddle of extremely satisfied goo. Awwwwwww.)

The One in Which Batman Gives the World's Least Helpful Advice. "Assume Success" My Ass, Batty Boy. What Book Did You Find That Pedagogical Technique in, Breaking the Brains of the Next Generation? Able to Succeed, by [livejournal.com profile] brown_betty. D.C. Universe, gen.

I appear to be on quite the tear of "The Batuniverse Is Like Our Universe, Only Jam-Packed with Armed Nutballs in Armored Spandex" stories lately. (You know, I really didn't mean that to sound like a cross between a gay bar and a health food. It just came out that way. This is what happens when you try to write about the DCU, folks.) Here we have Tim (glorious Tim!) being inculcated into the Way of the Bat, by which I of course mean "winning through paranoia, obsessive-compulsive planning, and homoerotic overtones that are really much more overt than you'd think anyone could get away with."

There just aren't too many superheroes I can picture doing superhomework - I mean, sure, Charles Xavier runs a school complete with Danger Room (Danger! Room!) and suchlike, but does Rogue ever belly up to her desk and write a 20-page paper called "The Evolution of Team-Based Aerial Combat Techniques in a Post-Genosha Multiverse"? No. Wolverine? My god no. Cyclops? Okay, maybe. Probably. Almost certainly. But my point is, Batman's superhomework is just way cooler than that. Also way, way more insanity inducing, but that's just how they do it in Gotham; it is their native folkway, which we have all learned to admire greatly. (And oh my god, I just realized - someone needs to write a DCU story called "It's Hard out Here for a Bat." Please. Please. I'll...okay, I don't have anything to offer in trade, but I will love you forever I swear to god.)

-Footnotes-

* I'm joking. I already totally know what I want my epitaph to be, have for at least 15 years: "She lived in readiness for temporal anomaly." You may think you have a time travel kink, but trust me, it is nothing to my all-encompassing, seriously obsessive, downright disturbing time travel kink. I mean, I have a list of essential items I'd take back to any time period you care to name. I follow advances in particle physics solely for their relevance to potential means of time travel. I...whoa, I just totally outed myself as the geek of the century, didn't I?

** You know that version of The Time Machine that came out in 2002? (Before I looked it up, I was going to say "about a decade ago." Apparently my brain has elected to deal with the post-traumatic movie viewing stress by pretending it all happened a very long time ago. In another country. And the wench is dead.) I watched that with actual delight. (BB, immediately after we emerged into the harsh bright light of day: "Um. You, uh, you know that movie was bad, right?" Me, nearly skipping with joy: "Oh, yes. And I am so buying it the second it comes out!" BB: *nearly inaudible whimper*)

*** Don't even tell me you haven't read Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge. Just. Don't. Even. Go quietly and shame-facedly to the library, your local bookstore, or Amazon, obtain a copy, and read until you break.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So. We've all finished our Yuletide stories. The archive isn't open yet. Most of us have had way too much candy. (Especially me. My Yuletide writing experience was almost entirely catered by [livejournal.com profile] maygra, who apparently just knew I would need pecans and sugar in mass quantities this year.) It's obviously time for a recs set. And I have chosen...

Bodyswap.

You know, there was a time when I did not understand the allure of bodyswaps, but that was before an email from [livejournal.com profile] jad104 Opened My Eyes. And, see, I have a specific way of coming by my themed categories (and, yes, there are still occasional new ones added, and you guys still haven't seen all the ones I started with, which is just - really disturbing, so let's not think about it, okay?), but that email led to an exception: I made a new category at someone else's suggestion. That hardly ever happens, and not because I'm ornery (...not just because I'm ornery); it's because usually suggested categories in some way overlap one that already exists. (Not that that should ever stop anyone from making a suggestion, because I love them.) Bodyswaps kind of overlapped (how I love the crack and cliche category; anything goes in there), but I started thinking about it, and I realized bodyswaps are special. And interesting. I began, in short, to ponder. And once I start pondering, a recommendations post is almost inevitable. (Best not to get me started, really; there we go, that's today's valuable take-home lesson. You can relax now.)

I will spare you the nine paragraphs of meta that originally occupied this space. (And the 13,000 parentheses that would have died to make those nine paragraphs are very thankful.) I will just say that if I had to do it again, genderswitch and bodyswap would share a category, because they both explore the same space: what is me and what is mine. In other words, if I'm not in the same body, am I still the same person? Which is a (and I hesitate to use this word, because ick, but it is, so I have no choice) profound question, and one that I am in no way equipped to explore, hence the much-meta-deletion. Instead, I offer you these stories; their authors did a much better job than I could at the thinkiness. Plus, they included a lot of sex, which meta is generally sadly lacking.

Note, though, that this category is actually bodyswitch. I have, as it turns out, developed a deep love for not-quite-bodyswaps, so what you'll find here is a variety of stories about people wearing things that don't belong to them.

Best FF That Gave Me a Brief Bout of Longing for Sports Night Vampire FF, but Fortunately I Regained My Senses Before I Did Anything Rash. The Cheese Does Not Wear Me, by Annie, aka [livejournal.com profile] out_there. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. In the author's summary, Annie says, "Every fandom needs at least one bodyswapping fic," and frankly that's a statement I think Certain Fandoms could take to heart. I mean, no one can fault the stargate-related fandoms for their dedication to bodyswitching. I'm sure Harry Potter has just thousands, although I actually haven't seen any of them, so if anyone else has, a link would not come amiss. But where is the bodyswap FF for The Sentinel? Come on - tell me you don't want to see how Blair copes with those senses and how Jim copes with that hair. Where is the X-Men bodyswapping, where the team has to get used to their new powers before Magneto realizes he has Xavier's? (I'd whine about Buffy and Angel, too, except that I have read bodyswitch stories in those fandoms. I just can't find them. Apparently, I have completion issues when it comes to recording bodyswap FF in my database.) Did I just miss all these? Because these things should exist, dammit, and no one can tell me otherwise. But, um. I have to say that Sports Night would not have made my list of "fandoms that need a bodyswap story." Which is why I was stunned and delighted by this piece, in which Dan and Casey cope with bodyswapping with amazing aplomb and not much more than a thirty-second speech at rundown. Because, when you think about it? The people who work with Dan and Casey generally don't understand them. It's expected. And there's always work to be done despite the Danny and Casey weirdness, so they all just deal with the weirdness. And that, in a nutshell, is why I love this story. And this fandom, come to think of it.

Best FF That Gives the Best Explanation for the Existence of Fanny Packs That I've Ever Heard. Although, Believe Me, There Are Still a Number of Unanswered Questions on That Score. First Impressions, by [livejournal.com profile] kormantic. Stargate: SG1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. Okay. So I was very good and started this set with a traditional bodyswap. But now it is time for a bodyswitch. In this story, an encounter with aliens (god how I love the aliens of the SG universe: ready, willing, and able, the lot of them) leaves Daniel in a bar of soap. And Jack in Daniel's body. And his own. Frankly, Jack O'Neill probably should not be the first person on your list of potential temporary custodians of your body, given that in this one he uses Daniel's to eat revolting foodstuffs and watch Weekend at Bernie's II, which is probably against the law on more civilized planets. But that's why I love the concept of Jack in Daniel's body. I mean, you know, his personality in Daniel's - you know what, let's just move on and forget I ever started that sentence. This story contains a line that should be the basis of a whole challenge: "Are you saying I gave him my cooties?" Because, seriously. Tell me a fandom that sentence doesn't belong in, and I will tell you about a sad, sad fandom. But what I love most about this is how everyone reacts to Jack-as-Daniel; the scene in which Sam asks that Jack a version she wouldn't ask the real Jack just says volumes about that philosophical conundrum (look at all the big words I know!) I mentioned in the intro. So there's thinkiness in here, and gambling, and sex, and I just don't see how it could get any better than that.

Best FF That Proves That the Scariest Sex Toy Is One Mass-Produced by a Military Society Heavily Invested in Leather. Or, Wait. Is Scary the Word I'm Looking for There? Scientist, Astronaut, and Nymphomaniac: The Nine Lives of John Crichton, by Feldman, aka [livejournal.com profile] rubberneck. Farscape, John Crichton/Aeryn Sun. This story really makes it clear (to me) why I like John Crichton and Aeryn Sun so much that I'm actually afraid to watch Farscape. I love John's attitude toward being in Aeryn's body: a blend of "Toys! For me!" with "I am so going to pay for this later, so I'd better really enjoy it now" with "If a body's worth doing, it's worth doing well." And I love Aeryn's attitude toward John in her body. Ninety percent of female characters would have a fit in this scenario: "Don't you be touching that, you pervy thing!" Not Aeryn. No. She's amused, and she's more than willing to provide expert consultation (plus the aforementioned scary sex toy). And she has fun with the whole situation - as much as Crichton, and probably more, because she's not encumbered by, you know, ethical dilemmas and so on. Plus, she takes it about eight levels higher than John even imagined, leading to what must have been the most difficult sex scene ever to write, at least when it comes to pronouns. And, see, that's just - that's good, people. This is the approach I like to see from my bodyswapped characters: thoughtful experimentation and careful note-taking, followed by totally throwing caution to the winds. I mean, hey. What are the chances you'll ever be in this body again? (Stargate fandoms only: 40%.)

Best FF That Clearly Demonstrates the Undisputable Connection Between Cookies and True Love. Switch: A Comedy of Terrors, by [livejournal.com profile] rivkat. Smallville, Lex Luthor/Clark Kent. I adore this story because it makes me roll my eyes and say, "Oh, Clark," in the tone of voice I normally use only on people I really love when they're being really stupid, albeit maybe in a kind of adorable way. Because only Clark Kent (Smallville edition) could possibly hope to keep secrets about his body from someone who is currently occupying it. And that goes double - no, to the power of ten - if the person in it is Lex. Anyone else would throw in the towel. Clark just stutters his way through the lamest excuses ever uttered on the planet earth. It is just - so very like him, and so very adorable, and it leaves me loving him even though I want to smack some sense into his great big stupid head. But I have to be grateful for his bone-headedness; without it, we could never have stories like this one, in which Lex test-drives Clark Kent and Clark gets more than a taste of Lex. (And, no, really. It's not possible to talk about those two without using trashy double entendres; I have tried. Some things are just beyond the scope of human endeavor.) The best part of this story, though, is the way it makes it so very obvious that Clark and Lex belong together. And, yes, okay, like 80% of SV FF does that, but this is special; how often do people make such a great team that they actually do better in each other's bodies than in their own?

Best FF That Leaves Me Wondering About the AU in Which They Didn't Separate, and the Entire Pegasus Galaxy Was Terrorized by the Real McShep: Two Guys, One Body, Thirty Thousand Times the Trouble. Double Occupancy, by [livejournal.com profile] isiscolo. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. This is yet another SGA story in the everyone's-read-them category, but I had to rec it. Because, okay, first, I have a sick affection for the trapped-together stories (you know: they can't let each other out of sight, or if they get more than three feet from each other they fall to the ground in fits, stuff like that) - sick because that is pretty much my idea of hell. I mean, I'm happily married, and have been so for a really long time, and we spend loads of time together. But if we couldn't get away from each other, not ever, not at all? I would be insane and frothing within an hour. Seriously. Best Beloved will totally back me up on this, probably with a lot of emphatic wincing and nodding. So, you know, this story hits that kink of mine, plus the bodyswapping kink, and obviously I'm going to love it. But I wanted to be sure I recommended this now because - people who were interested in the Style Post That Will Never Be? Read this story closely. You will totally see what I mean about prior fandoms affecting the way people write SGA; this is one of my top twenty examples of that. It doesn't make the story better or worse (which, I mean, the story is good enough on its own, for sure), just noticeably, fascinatingly different. And so there's a weird meta element to this for me; it's a story about experiencing life through a different lens, and it's written through a different lens, and I just...I love that. This story is a total writing kinkfest, TFV style. (Thank god it's not also a sexual kinkfest, TFV style; I mean, if I had a sex-in-front-of-a-mirror kink, I would probably die from reading this. Consider that your warning label, mirrorsex people.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Recently, Bird acquired a friend. I stood at the bathroom window (extensive tests show that this is the best indoor spot for Bird monitoring) for - um, a while - listening to the beauty of interspecies communication.

Bird: Woooo. Woo-woo.
Friend: Chee-eeeep! Che-che-che-che-eeeep!

I quickly developed a mental image of Friend. Clearly, this was a small, cheerful bird. Possibly he had a dull brown exterior, but underneath was youth and excitement and enthusiasm for all things avian. I pictured him hopping about on the branch as he accompanied Bird.

Bird: Woooo. Woo-woo.
Friend: Chee-eeeep! Che-che-che-che-eeeep!

Of course, Bird is a dedicated guy. Nothing, but nothing, comes between him and his message. (Which, for the inattentive or forgetful, is: woo.) He has a mind that transcends the mundane; he's got purpose, he's got meaning, he's got soul.

Bird: Woooo. Woo-woo.
Friend: Chee-eeeep! Che-che-che-che-eeeep!

But as time passed (yes, I was in fact listening the whole time, and I don't want to hear a word about it), Friend began to flag. It's always the way with these youngsters; they start well, but they just don't have the stamina.

Bird: Woooo. Woo-woo.
[Pause, as of a rapidly tiring bird summoning the resources for another go.]
Friend: Chee-eeeep.
Bird, sounding encouraging: Woooo. Woo-woo?
Friend, sounding exhausted: Chee-eep.

Standing at the window, listening to this, I said, wistfully: "Their love is so doomed."

And then I realized what I'd just said, and added: "Jesus Christ. I've got to get out of here."

So I came in here to write a recs set, and if it just happens to start with an update on Bird, it's only because I know some of you are very interested in him. Or at least I'm pretending you are, for reasons of personal dignity.

But I do not come empty-handed, even if you don't count the Tale of Bird. Because I also have recs. Rare pairing recs. I mean, given the star-crossed love of Bird and Friend, what else?

(Added note: this weekend, we discovered that there is something that will shut Bird up, and that thing is: garage bands. Specifically, the one garage band belonging to the teenage boy - and please god let him go away to college soon, ideally to a very noise-tolerant state - a few houses down from us. Of course, given that said band's entire repertoire is Limp Bizkit, or rather the first eight bars of a number of Limp Bizkit songs, well - let's just say I won't be begging them to add extra practices or anything. And, yes. I'm not kidding. All Limp Bizkit, all wrong, all Saturday. For two years.)

Best FF in Which Rodney McKay Says Someone Is Smarter Than He Is. Seriously, It's a Moment That Would Totally Go Down in History If It Wasn't Way in the Future. The Big Bang and Everything After, by [livejournal.com profile] mandysbitch. Stargate: Atlantis x Firefly, Rodney McKay/River Tam. (Yes, I'm recommending Firefly. It's only a crossover!) Most of the time, I just do not get Firefly FF. Like, at all. Apparently, you had to be there for this fandom. But this story fascinated me, and not just because of all the unanswered questions that lurk behind it. Actually, what I loved most about this was the character of River, who was just - really, improbably gripping. I normally hate this character type - the crazy genius, mad because she knows things other people don't. (I'm more of a fan of the grouchy genius. Or, hey, even a reasonable nice one.) Maybe this was different because the story is from River's point of view, so you get a look into her twisted logic. Or it could just be because [livejournal.com profile] mandysbitch is a highly skilled writer. Because she obviously is; transplanting a character like this is never easy. It's ten times as hard when you're selling a pairing at the same time. Crossover pairings rarely work for me, probably because fan fiction relies, to a certain extent, on an initial buy-in; we go into most stories knowing the characters and being willing to believe they're involved. But authors of crossover pairings (and very rare pairings in general, but it's usually most extreme in crossovers) have to work without that, and that means a lot of fan fiction conventions don't work. But this - this works. I believe this Rodney, though I hurt for him a little, and I believe in this River, even if I've never met her before. Most of all, I believe they'd end up together in the universe of this story. Which you should totally read. Now.

Best FF That Proves That Luthors Are Entirely Too Talented for Their Own Good. Or Anyone Else's. Actually, Make That Especially Anyone Else's. No Quarter, by [livejournal.com profile] nifra_idril. Smallville, Lionel Luthor/Johnathan Kent. (And if you're right now thinking, "You know, there's a reason some pairings are rare," just wait. It gets worse! You'll be thrilled! Or maybe dead from the horror; could go either way.) I've never seen anything of Lionel except in vids. But his body language in those vids is so insinuating, aggressive, and confident that I seriously believe he could seduce anyone, and that's if he wasn't trying. I can't imagine what might happen if he was, but I'm fairly sure the words "total world domination" or possibly "catastrophe on an unprecedented scale" would be involved. And which would depend mostly on his mood that day. His mood in this story, for the record, is pretty much the same one a lion has when chasing a mouse: tolerantly distracted, because the little squeaking thing entertains him. And I totally and completely buy the reason he gives for going after Jonathan, mostly because the characterization in this story is amazing; the first four paragraphs are practically a textbook on Lionel, and most of the rest is a perfect justification for Jonathan. One that I rather like. Because at least in FF, Jonathan comes off as, well. Kind of a dick, sometimes, but mostly just - unclear. Inconsistent. But in this story, he makes a disturbing amount of sense. And I don't just mean the details of what happens here; I mean the dynamics of his relationship with the Luthors, and his behavior in general. Jonathan is so overmatched and outmaneuvered here that - seriously, it's like two different species: Home serpiens and Homo domesticus, and oh my god, no, I did not mean the really bad puns there. Obviously I'd better move on before the excellent Lionel/Jonathan destroys my brain.

Best FF That May Forever Taint Formerly Innocent Childhood Memories. I'm Not Kidding, People; Just Hearing the Pairing List Seems to Cause Permanent Brain Damage in Some People. Sunny Days, by [livejournal.com profile] hyperfocused. Sports Night x Sesame Street, Dan Rydell/Cookie Monster, Casey McCall/Guy Smilie, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Sometimes the beauty of a rare pairing is just the pure astonishment that anyone managed to carry it off. In this case, it's more like astonishment that anyone looked at this prompt (obviously, it's from [livejournal.com profile] ithurtsmybrain) and thought, "Yeah, okay. I can do that." (And I didn't even watch Sesame Street, and in fact had to resort to Google at a certain point in the story. I can only imagine what this does to people who actually watched the show.) But, you know, for me, this story works. Obviously there's the whole blue fluffy Muppet thing to get around - and, yes, I know some of you are saying, "You can't 'get around' the Muppet thing! For Christ's sake, which part of 'Muppet' did you not understand?" - but the author plays nicely on Dan's inherent flexibility and his tendency to do completely insane things when jealous, and the story's not so long that your disbelief snaps back, and somehow the Dan/Cookie Monster relationship comes off as...sweet. Sorry; it seems to be the set for puns punishable by death. But, really, it does. Or maybe this is all a sign that I have permanent brain damage. Can't say for sure. But I'm betting there are a couple people out there who are right now ordering CT scans on me, just in case.

Best FF That Makes Me Sing, "If You Were the Only Boy in the World, and It Was the Only Large Improbable City-Like Ancient Construct..." The Man Next Door, by [livejournal.com profile] saeva and [livejournal.com profile] verstehen. Stargate: Atlantis: John Sheppard/Atlantis. (Warning: spoilers for episode 2.08, Conversion. For those who do not wish to be spoiled, I have included another John/Atlantis story. See? Everyone's writing John/Atlantis! Why aren't you? You could be one of the very cool kids, here. Also, I warned for this because the episode was so recent. It's an experiment. Anyone who thinks I should keep doing this, please let me know.) So. When you're, you know, down and stuff. You turn to your beloved, and you say, "I am down and stuff. I need chocolate. Or sex." And we all know that Atlantis doesn't have chocolate. And that's about as much as I can say without totally spoiling the story or the episode from whence it came. But, see, this is why John/Atlantis is totally my emergency backup SGA OTP (Their love, as I commented somewhere yesterday, is so genetic. And Ancient. It is a love for all time and all biochemistries!): you cannot get more slashy or more destined to be together than this pairing. Forget Harry/[insert your chosen character here, because I am totally not stupid enough to walk in front of that flamethrower, thanks], people; these two really were made for each other. Now go read about John hurting and Atlantis comforting in a very, um, traditional way, for certain definitions of 'tradition.' Unless you haven't seen SGA 2.08 and you'd rather not be spoiled, in which case go directly to the other story. (Otherwise, read both. When I say "alternate story," what I really mean is "bonus story for most of you, plus an opportunity for me to recommend again in the same fandom, which saves me from yet another impossible decision." I swear, recommending is not for the choice-phobic.)

-Or-

Best FF That Really Makes You Consider All the Sides of the Phrase, "A Deal with the Devil." Learning to Breathe, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Atlantis. Yet more proof that the John/Atlantis love is beautiful! Except, in this one, totally not. More like vampiric. But I don't mind at all. Sometimes our OTPs have these unhealthy, co-dependent, sucking-pit-of-need kind of relationships. It's just a little more literal in this story, is all. And, oh, the absolute beauty of what I think of as the command code line section of the story, which I have read so many times I now see several additional stories in them, which probably aren't there, but that's the beauty of art, right? We get from it what we bring to it, and whoa. Sorry. Went all Art Appreciation 101 there on you. (Mystifying, because when I took the class, it wasn't touchy-feely at all. It started as this eerily regimented thing like art boot camp, then disintegrated in mid-semester into a showcase for very disturbing videos. And there's a lesson in there for teachers everywhere: when we stopped hearing thoughtful discussions of alchemical symbolism in Marc Chagall's work and started seeing people in desperate need of therapy crucifying themselves on Volkswagens, everyone stayed awake. In some cases for weeks. But the point is: either you get great art or you don't, and if you don't, no amount of lectures will help. But excruciating, unnecessary, exceedingly silly pain is a language everyone speaks. Hurt your students today!) Um. Yes, this is still technically a story summary. But, really, all I have left to say is that this is brilliant, and the last few paragraphs are especially brilliant. And they should also be soothing to those John/Rodney fanciers who don't get the inherent perfection of John/Atlantis.* Although I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't.

-Footnote-

*Yes, of course I've got a half-written Rodney/John/Atlantis story. It is the thing to do when you have two overlapping OTPs, after all. Plus, I mean - doesn't everyone?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
It's been - well, not a horrible day. One of those days that isn't bad enough for justifiable whining (not that this is going to stop me) and not good enough that you'd relive it, even if the only other alternative was reliving the day of the Halloween play in which you were an owl. ("Whooooooo" was how all your lines went. And you had a lot of them, because - in retrospect - you're pretty sure the schoolteacher who wrote the play put in a "Whooooooo" every time she couldn't think of another plot development. And given that the sole "development" of the entire two-act play was a Raggedy Ann doll - whose mother, by the way, should not have made her costume - coming alive and dancing, that was really damn often. Or did that not happen to you? Am I wrong in thinking that this is the kind of childhood experience we all have to go through? God, I hope not; I've dreamed of having a child pretty much solely for the day when I could see him stumbling around a stage in an owl suit he couldn't see out of because the head was made for someone bigger.)

But, anyway. Secret message to Mother Nature: God, I'm sorry, OK? Whatever I did, I'm so so so sorry, and I swear I'll start work to fix it just as soon as you a) tell me what I did and b) stop with the fucking pollen, because, seriously, I can't even match my socks when my allergies are this bad. I mean, I have bruises from walking into walls because my eyes were swollen shut. This is cruel and inhuman punishment, Mother N., but it's persuaded me. I will begin to do right by you just as soon as you quit it already.

And if you don't stop, little miss Nature Queen, I'm buying toxic chemicals in job lots. If you're going to kill me with allergies, I'm at least going to take out our ficus before I go. Ha.

Anyway. What with the allergies, I've been diverting all my available resources to coughing and Kleenex use and little pathetic moany noises, and so I haven't had a lot of time for, well, much of anything. Like cooking. And today is the day our produce comes. I have already eaten almost all the fruit on the grounds that it is - or rather was - the easiest food to prepare. (Sole survivor of the Fruit Gorge: a mysterious green and orange oval thing. I know it's a fruit, but beyond that, I've got nothing. Anyone have any suggestions? And let me just add here that anyone who thought Mother Nature was strictly on the side of the good - she made fruit that clashes with itself. No one tasteful would give counter space to a fruit like this.)

Of course, my fruit eating got me thinking about fan fiction, because everything does. (No, really, everything. After slash the slashers got posted, I had a dream about four of you who shall remain unnamed. You were exploring Atlantis. I need help, people.) Obviously, there aren't a lot of stories where the characters sneeze a lot and eat too much fruit - although, if you added enough whining about citrus, seems to me you could do something with Rodney McKay, there - but there are stories where characters eat. But, because they are characters, they do it with infinitely more style and a lot less whining. So, today: food. Without whine.

(For the record, I mean the stories will be whine-free. This entry? Whinalicious! Whineriffic! Whining with added extra why!)

Best FF That Proves That When You Enter Into the Right Long-Term Relationship, You Become Even More Yourself. Which, If You're a Sarcastic Con Man, Can't Be Anything but Very, Very Good. One More Cup of Coffee, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Ocean's 11, Danny Ocean/Rusty Ryan. And I begin the way I mean to go on, with a happy story that features no angst of any kind. I can't handle angst and allergies, see. I have a delicate constitution. So here we have Danny and Rusty, the original feel-good couple (OK, they really aren't; maybe I meant "the original feel-up couple"? Or "the original felt couple"? Hmmm. Not sure.), doing research and making idle threats involving cosmetics. And eating. Eating lots of stuff. Which is good, given my basic belief is that any O11 story should be, at minimum, 25% eating, because that's about how much eating there was in the movie. (Not slashy, you say? Ha. I'll see your eye-fucking and no personal space and raise you an oral fixation that won't quit.) This story fulfills my need for Rusty to eat a lot of really inappropriate foodstuffs - and when I say inappropriate, I do not mean it pornily. (Oh, stop with the complaints, you babies. You don't need porn every minute, do you? Don't answer that.) I just mean he's eating stuff that the rest of us know for a fact is not food. (Seriously. I'm waiting patiently for the story in which Rusty eats Circus Peanuts, which are possibly the ultimate non-food "food" item. Nothing that is actually food is sproingy like that.) This story is short, fun-filled, and light. Perfect for the convalescent and the unwarrantably self-pitying. Any wonder I'm recommending it today?

Best FF That Proves That Reminds Us That, No Matter How Intrusive or Outright Crazy Our Parent or Parents Might Be, It Can Always Be Worse. Our Parent Could Be Lionel Luthor. That Fact Is Guaranteed to Make You Feel Not at All Better During Your Next Parental Visit!* The Milk and Cookies War, by Punk, aka [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun. Smallville, Lex Luthor/Clark Kent. (Let's get this out of the way right now: I waaaaaaaant cooooooookies. Waaaaaaant them. OK, no, really, I'm done with the whining now. Well. For a while.) So. Clark torments Lex. Did I need to say anything else to sell you on the story? I thought not. Because we all know that there's nothing more fun than Lex-torment, right? And I don't mean the kind that Lionel dishes out, no; I'm talking about the kind where Lex never once gets trapped or imprisoned or has anything worse happen to him than losing his train of thought. See? You're smiling already! Plus, it's fun to see Clark working his strengths so well. What farm boy from Kansas doesn't know the secret powers of food? (Some of you may wish to substitute "washboard abs" into that sentence.) Not Clark Kent, my friends; he knows his superpowers all too well. So well that when you're done with this story, you'll be singing an ancient song with a title I don't quite recall by an artist I can't quite recollect, and it will go like this: "Stop using food as a weapon/stop using food." (In the original, it was "sex as a weapon." And, hey, what do you know? That works here, too.) Plus, bonus: you will get to see Lex Luthor's true arch-nemesis. And you can just forget all that Rift crap, because it's prosciutto. Take that, Smallville writers!

Best FF That Proves That You Need Patience to Be a Therapist. Or to Eat with Dan Rydell. Or to Date Him. Anyone Who Tried All Three Would Likely Explode, So Isn't It Good That Casey's Not a Therapist? Four Conversations About Sandwiches, by [livejournal.com profile] starfishchick. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. I have an unhealthy but very pure love for the last segment of this story, which in my opinion proves that Abby is quite possibly the best therapist in all of visual fiction. I'm even willing to excuse her little ethical lapse at the beginning of her treatment of Dan, because - she's good! She gets Dan! And is nearly always mostly ethical! Plus, she can make him stop with the sandwich-related panic, which, face it, is quite a skill when you're dealing with second-season Danny. Bonus: this story is based on the very true fact that all office life revolves around food that can be delivered. I've worked in one, so I know this to be true. If you aren't searching through an enormous file-folder of menus for the one restaurant that a) everyone can agree on and b) will still be delivering when the negotiations are done, you're doing careful calculations to determine how much money you need to give the receptionist. Or you're listening to the lunatic from next door explain her new and brilliant system for ensuring that no one, no one will violate the sanctity of her leftovers. (Hint to office workers: give up. Say your goodbyes before your leftovers go in the communal fridge. No force on earth will keep people's hands off them until one o'clock tomorrow.) Hmmm. You think maybe this is why I don't work in an office anymore?

Best FF That Truly Defines the Phrase "Seller's Market," to the Point That It's a Whole Education in Basic Economics Packed into One Short, Fun Story. I Bet Those of You Who Actually Read Your Econ Textbooks Are Crying Right Now. Lifeblood, by [livejournal.com profile] misspamela. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. Tell me this, people who have watched the entire first season of SGA: was there an episode built around the inevitable coffee shortage? Because if not, there so should've been. I've spent enough time around the McKays and Zelenkas and Kavanaghs of this world to know that when the coffee stops flowing, they stop working. It's not even like they want to. Coffee just happens to be one of the fundamental elements of the hard sciences; without it, whiteboards don't work, computers don't compile, and every theorem proves only one point: we need more coffee. Coffeeless theoretical physicists can't do anything but whine (hands up everyone who isn't surprised that I'm descended from one!), coffeeless applied physicists can't do anything but create convoluted machines to steal the coffee from engineering, and coffeeless chemists spend all their time trying to refine caffeine and then distill it into a tasty hot beverage with four times the kick of espresso. (Note to the suddenly inspired: don't try. Two-word reason for you: Jolt Cola.) So I totally love this story, which proves that a) Sheppard was smart enough to see the coffee shortage coming, b) he's able to endure privation for the good of his team, and c) he's not noble enough to do that without getting...something in return. If I'm bitter that Miss Pamela has not written sequels to this explaining how much coffee Sheppard has and exactly what he gets for it, well, this story is so fun that I can only manage to be mildly bitter. Which, given my current level of Whine Alert (Puce: duck and cover), is extremely impressive.

Best FF That Proves That, Even Though Canadians Are Fine People in Many Respects, You Should Never Eat Anything They Invented.** Too Sweet, by Resonant, aka [livejournal.com profile] resonant8. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Did I...did I somehow not recommend this before? Because I don't have it marked in my database or in my set list, but...I feel like I've recommended it. And I definitely planned to recommend it. So today you get five stories, because if this one isn't a repeat, it should be. (Note: when I get done with all my tagging - on that distant and glorious day - we will never have this conversation again! Maybe! Although if the limit actually is 100 entries, we will, at least when it comes to due South!) I love this story. I love everything about it. Re-reading it today made me forget about both my orange and my troubles for a full half-hour, and, seriously, I can't imagine higher praise than that. If you've read this before, well, you'll be clicking on the link anyway, and if you haven't - read it. Or print it out and keep it by you against the time when you really, really need it, for that dark night full of coughing and unwelcome relatives and two inches of floodwater when only a solidly happy story can save you. Because there's Ray being absolutely Ray, right down to his reasons for marrying Stella, and Fraser baking, and horrible mutant Canadian not-cookies, and just...god, it's the perfect recipe. For...for happiness. No, really, I mean that. Hmmm. May have overdosed on decongestants, though. Better check that.

-Footnotes-

* This title is, yes, directed at a specific person. I'm assuming I don't need to name names. Remember, specific person: if your current mantra fails, switch to, "At least she's not Lionel Luthor. At least she's not Lionel Luthor." Again, it won't help, but at least you'll have an amusing Lionel MPreg mental image to help while away the hours.

** It is possible that Canadians in the reading audience may take offense at this or feel it is unjustified. I have one word for you people: poutine.***

*** But, seriously, I do love the more northerly residents of this fine continent. I do. I don't even hold the poutine thing against you, despite the scientifically-provable fact that my single experience with it (at the tender age of 11) was responsible for 30% of the therapy I needed in my teen years. Just...don't get creative in the kitchen, please. Stick to foods invented in Italy. I'm begging you.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So. I do plan to reply to all the comments to my poll; I was thrilled to get them, and I actually have interesting things to say in response to most of them. Some of them. Okay, all of them, but we're operating by my definition of the word interesting, here, so those who commented should probably be on their guard.

In the meantime, though, drunkfics. Because a) you know I have love for them and b) no one can suspect any of these of being seriously flawed stories.

And it's interesting to reflect, with my new determination to recommend vids no matter how much I shouldn't*, just how much FF categories don't match vid categories. Drunkfic, for example, is one of the Grand Old Traditions of fan fiction, and yet I can think of only one drunkvid, Charmax's "Lily the Pink," (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ensemble, available under "BtVS Ensemble" at Bronze Ambition) and even then it isn't the same sort of thing, really.  It could be because intoxication is not all that visually interesting unless you're hoping to get into the pants of the intoxicated person in question. But I'm wondering if it's also because drunkfics focus on two things you can't show in vids: dialog - i.e., the intoxication frees someone to say something he otherwise wouldn't or couldn't - and sex - i.e., the intoxication frees someone to go down on someone he otherwise wouldn't.  

Of course, we could just not see many drunkvids because we don't see much canon drunkenness.  I don't know for sure how often people get down with the substances on TV shows, but I'm suspecting it's maybe not all that often, possibly because of those ever-present Impressionable Children. I do know you don't get a lot of full-out intoxication in movies, probably because, let's face it, when you only have two hours for the entire story, it's tough (though not impossible) to justify spending a half hour on something anyone who attended even one party in high school has seen too much of.

Whichever.  But, anyway, if you want a vid rec for this set, it's going to be "Lily the Pink," which is well worth a look, folks.  If the resultant giggle isn't enough of a reason, download it so you can admire the sheer quantity of drinking shots Charmax found. The Buffy folks apparently used their broadcast time wisely.

And now, speaking of wise uses of time, let's move on to the FF.

Best FF That Proves Definitely What I've Always Suspected: People With Mind-Reading, Mind-Changing, or Mind-Control Powers Are Deeply Wrong and Creeeeeeepy. Yes, Xavier, This Includes You. Memories, by [livejournal.com profile] rhyo. The Authority, and, honestly, I've no idea what to call this, but in my opinion it's gen. If you're not familiar with the comic book - and, really, if not, why not? - the problem with categorizing this story is that there's a gay relationship in the canon. But although said relationship is mentioned, this story is not about that. It's at least in part about Jenny Sparks, the butt-kickingest team leader ever to slug down a fifth of lab alcohol in seventeen seconds and then travel to another universe solely for the purpose of calling Batman an armor-dependent pussy and Robin a colorblind catamite and both of them sorry excuses for superheroes. Or, wait - just heroes, isn't it? As they aren't exactly super. That is not what happens in this story. But trust me, it could; she'd enjoy the pants right off of that. Here, though, we get to see her doing some things she really doesn't enjoy - to wit, trying to console a team member and get in touch with feelings. Her solution to that problem is get said team member, one Apollo, drunk off his ass. Unfortunately, that loosens his tongue, and Jenny ends up hearing way more than she wanted to. About Apollo. And his memories. And about the fact that, Marvel comics aside, there are very few people who can be trusted to rummage around in someone else's brain, and those few aren't the people who would allow themselves to do it.

Best Set of FFs That Proves That All Major Life Events Are Eased by Whacking Doses of Opiates. Or, OK, No. But Definitely All the Ones That Involve Arterial Bleeding Are. Rock, Toilet Paper, Scissors and Island Life** , by Tallulah Rasa, and does anyone know if she has a LJ? Stargate: SG-1, gen. Yes, more gen drunkfics. I don't know what the world is coming to. I do know, though, that these are actually drugfics; it's morphine, not alcohol, that is loosening the tongues of our good Colonel and his good civilian consultant. (And, yes, I have no problems describing Daniel as Jack's in the absence of slash; for one thing, who else does Jack have? And for another, who else could Daniel possibly belong to? And for a third, well, that's how they act a lot of the time.) Oh, and I should warn you; the author doesn't consider these stories sequels. I do, in the sense that when I read one, I have to read the other, and one of them mirrors the other, and also I consider one to resolve certain issues raised in the other, so I'm just going to rec them at the same time and save myself a lot of soul-searching. So. In both of them, a leg gets hurt. And there's morphine. And then there's talk. And what talk it is; "Rock, Toilet Paper, Scissors" sums up almost everything I love about this fandom. And "Island Life," well, it sums up why I'll probably never watch the canon. Because this didn't happen in it. And it should have. It should have. So I'll stick with my fan fiction, my denial, and my ignorance, I think. Anyway, even if you're not a big fan of denial or ignorance, these are brilliant stories, both of them, and I can't encourage you enough to go read them right now this minute.

Best FF That Proves That the Flowers Are Our Friends. At Least If We Want to See More Sex. And Who Doesn't? Blindsided, by Resonant, aka [livejournal.com profile] resonant8. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. All of you wondering what the hell was up with the meaningful-conversation drunkfics may now breathe easy; we have returned to the land where "fun with chemicals" also means "fun with body parts." And this one is a whole lot of fun, folks. One of the reasons I get such a kick out of recommending the two Stargate fandoms side by side is the voice of English teachers past in my head, saying "compare/contrast" over and over. (Yes, I am subject to these little auditory hallucinations. Really, it's a small price to pay for the many years of fun I had in classrooms across the land.) Because just as the former stories summed up my love for SG1, this one sums up most of my love for SGA. And I could write a really solid essay explaining that statement, with illustrative quotes and proper structure and everything. But I won't, because I love you too much for that. Instead I'll say: there's funny in this, and also snark, and spitting dandelions, and substance-induced hallucinations. McKay demonstrates why he needs no drug to loosen his tongue, and John demonstrates why he needs no drug to display his fundamental flexibility. (And also that he's just really, really easy, which may not be canon - I'm not sure - but is a peck of fun all the same.)

Best FF That Proves That the Phrase 'Alcohol May Intensify the Effect' Doesn't Just Apply to Medicines. Granted, by Kim, aka [livejournal.com profile] meadowlion. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. And here we have another pair of guys that never needed any chemical to loosen their tongues - it would probably take a substantial vat of something potent to stop these two from talking entirely - but who nonetheless benefit from some time spent amongst the intoxicants. What I really love about this one, though, is that Dan doesn't use alcohol to reduce his inhibitions. He uses his brain for that. The alcohol is for plausible deniability, and trust me when I tell you that is so Dan that it might as well appear in his official staff bio. ("Dan Rydell has been an anchor with Sports Night since its inception. Obviously, Dan has an abiding interest in all sports, except soccer, and also NASCAR if you define that as a sport, which Dan does not. He likes Casey McCall, spackle, New York City, Hilary Rodham Clinton, and poker. And he drinks, but mostly to watch other people get drunk; he himself prefers to use alcohol in moderation, except when plausible deniability is essential to his plans.") It's equally typical of Casey that he says exactly the right thing at the right time in this story; the man can be counted on to miss 99% of emotional cues, but the other 1% of the time he hits them so perfectly you sort of forget about his failures. Anyway, this story may be itty-bitty (500 words), but it is an excellent piece of interaction between the pairing often voted Most Meant to Be Together, If Only Because They've Excluded Everyone Else in the Universe.

-Footnotes-

* If you're wondering why I shouldn't, I could explain it to you. Or I could just point you to my own personal attempt at a meme. It is the movie meme that's been going around recently, and I think it pretty effectively says everything that needs to be said about why I should not be trusted when it comes to recommendations of visual media.

** I already did a theme vid rec for this, so I suppose what I'm doing now is wrong by some definition. Oh, that's right; it's my definition, and I can change it. So after you read "Island Life," go watch "Pretty Angry," by [livejournal.com profile] barkley, which can be found at her vid site. And, yes, there's a password thingy, but surely every person reading this has read Snow Crash, right? So no worries. (And if not, why not?) The point of watching the vid after reading the FF is that they deal with the same topic. Except that the story makes things the way they should have been, and the vid shows the way things really were. This, for me, is a fundamental difference between vids and FF. Although I imagine I will feel differently once I learn to understand the complex wonder of "created reality" vids, which right now for me translate, 99% of the time, into "random assemblage of clips" vids.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(For those of you who remember entry 100: there will also be a Slashiest Fandoms post coming up soon. But as it is now a) tragically large and in need of serious editing and b) evidence of an indecisive and possibly deranged mind, I thought I would forge ahead with the regular sets. It's too weird to get a number anyway.)

(Also, this entry might well be subtitled "We Hates the Semagic, Precious," as said client managed to post a very early draft of this entirely without my permission. Does anyone out there have a favorite Windows LJ client to recommend? I'm not entirely sold on Semagic, obviously, and would be interested to hear reports on the others.)

So. The last entry was about families just in general. This one is about a specific kind of family: the kind where you take a (possibly) loving couple (or more, or less), add a baby or child or minor of some description, step well back, and wait for the fun.

Well, I find it fun, anyway. I have a great fondness for kidfic. I know that's weird. But there's something so happy about it! Generally! And also there's lots of humor! Again, generally speaking! Plus, you know, it's just - actually, I'm not sure love of kidfic can be justified. But I do think that the stories below can be enjoyed even by Kidfic Unbelievers. Because, seriously, there is some excellent stuff out there.

Best FF That Suggests a Cure for Supervillainry That Would Really Put a Dent in All Those Battles That Kill Innocent Civilians and Make Property Insurance So Very Expensive (I'm Betting) in Metropolis, Gotham, and Other Likely Battle Ground Zeros. Although I Suspect It Might Have Unanticipated Consequences for the Next Generation. Conflicts of Interest, by Pru, aka [livejournal.com profile] rageprufrock. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor. I think the original show is proving that you can keep a megalomaniac from conquering the world by pitting him against his son; this story takes that one step further. Remember Kon-El? (Kon-El, people. The son of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. Canonically. Yes, just one more reason you should get yourself to a comic book store today.) Well, now he's in Smallville. Or, rather, a brand-new one is in Smallville: Conner Clark Luthor. And Pru has done a much better job than any canon ever did of creating a kid we can believe is the son of a super alien and a supergenius. (Hey. I love me some Teen Titans Kon, too; I'm not meaning to be down on him or anything; it's just that this kid is more like what you'd fear might come of that.) And then she does the impossible twice before breakfast by giving us a believable Daddy-Lex-Luthor, too, a Lex who was saved from all that tiresome world-ruling villainy by his son. Or, more specifically, by his son's hyperactive brain and hyperactive body. Because it turns out that even a Luthor can only keep up with the world or a child. Not both. And Lex, as we know, tends to make the right choices when it comes to personal loyalties. Wanting a third wonderful, impossible thing? This story is narrated by Conner, a precocious nine-year-old, and he is not annoying and quite believable and actually more funny than the author probably thinks he is. Here you won't find any of those irritating adults in children's bodies that infest original fiction, wandering around being nauseatingly wise and precious and just generally making the reader want to bite something. Although, seriously, if this story isn't original, I'm not sure anything is.

Best FF That Teaches Readers a Helpful Ditty for Interpreting Celsius Temperatures, Thus Improving Canadian-American Relations (Which, Frankly - Every Little Helps These Days) and Demonstrating the All-Round Educational Nature of Fan Fiction. Sunday's Child, by Dira Sudis, aka [livejournal.com profile] dsudis. Due South, and I'm afraid I need to err on the side of caution here, even to the extent of not giving y'all pairing information. See, Dira's style is so closely tied to the slow reveal these days that I feel guilty even mentioning that this is a kidfic, because I'm afraid I'm destroying some part of the essential experience of reading it. But, well, this story does belong in this set, as Frannie has a baby, after all - a baby who is probably made mostly of orange juice, actually. And I don't want to wait the slow eternity it will take me to assemble another surprise set. So I'm sort of going with the worst of both methods of recommending - I'm putting the story here, but not saying much about it. But, hey, did I mention that there's a kid in this? In the GTO, even, which shows the sincere importance of the kid in question. There's also a gradual build to a very happy ending (which I, for the record, consider to be absolutely mandatory in kidfic). Mostly I love this one for the sheer plausibility of it; I mean, I love improbable dS fic as much as the next raving Mountie-and-cop-fixated loon; our canon welcomes improbability with open arms, after all, so why shouldn't I? But still, I love the realism here; I read it thinking hey, yeah, that could happen, and that's a great feeling, especially when the ending puts god in his heaven and everything right with the world. Bonus: after you read this, you'll be able to dress like a Canadian. Only with less emphasis on the flannel and ear flaps, I would hope.

Best FF That Proves That Wings and a Halo Don't Render You Proof Against the Dreaded Gurgle of Alarming Cuteness. And Neither, It Turns out, Does the Pitchfork. Satan Will Probably Want to Get Right to Work on Patching Forked Tongue 401.2 to Fix That Little Unanticipated Feature. Bundle of Joy, by [livejournal.com profile] louiselux. Good Omens, gen. Ish. Though I myself believe that the next scene involves some rather breathless exclamations of "Oh my!" and "Merciful Heavens! Surely you didn't have that in the Garden! I would have remembered." Here we have a scene that should be totally vomit-inducing: Aziraphale babysitting and Crowley experiencing firsthand the joys of baby puke. But this was written by Louise Lux, the same woman who scarred me forever by making MPreg not just tolerable but downright touching*. (If you haven't read Baby Snakes, you must. Immediately. No one is excused from reading Baby Snakes, not even those who are afraid of snakes, or demons, or MPreg, or...well, actually, if you're not afraid of those, I imagine you're not afraid of anything. But that's no excuse, either. Read. Right. Now.) So of course there's something curiously amusing and sweet and so very in-character about all this: Aziraphale acting like a daft but doting uncle, Crowley trying to be aloof but once again failing his Resist Angelic Contamination roll. In the name of all that is unholy, Crowley, steer clear of the angel. Or you might end up, you know, liking him. Oh. Well, it isn't too late to prevent you from having a baby with him. Run!

Best FF in Which a (Relatively) Innocent Child Is Scarred for Life, a Noted Sports Anchor Experiences Involuntary Genital Mutilation, and a Precious Work of Art Leaves the World Forever. And We All Giggle Like Geese. Fluff, by Emily Brunson, aka [livejournal.com profile] janissa11. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Sports Night kidfics never fail to fascinate (me, anyway); they're not like the ones in other fandoms, because there's an actual canonical kid for authors to write about here. And that kid's relationship with Danny and Casey is, well, interesting. By the time of the series it's really surprisingly close to the same; both of them are the regularly visited and visiting paternal figure who is not a constant presence in Charlie's life. Which means that while in most other fandoms kidfic tends to be about (or at least feature) the relationship of the parents, kidfic here is usually much more about the differences between Danny and Casey. Truly; in the best Charlie and Danny and Casey stories, the guys are sort of the distilled essence of themselves, to the point where I figure if an author can write a good kidfic she's got the SN voices and characters nailed. So. What's in this kidfic? Well, I dirct you to the title of both the story, because it is pure, delightful, guilty-pleasure, depression-lifting fluff, and the entry, because all those things do happen. (The first time I read this, I kept waiting for Casey to say, "Dammit, we just can't have nice things.") So, basically, this story features the guys doing a very clumsy two-step around Charlie's presence in Casey's apartment. Well, Charlie and his new pet, Max. Whose fluffy and adorable exterior conceals vindictiveness and a plot for world domination, starting with an anti-curtain campaign.

Best FF That Reminds Us of Humanity's Most Enduring Traits: Fortitude, Duplicity, and Really Inventive Obscenities. The Dirt of Sowing and Reaping, by Salieri, aka [livejournal.com profile] troyswann. Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson/Sam Carter. Remember how I said there would be happiness and buoyancy and just a hint of baby vomit? Well, this doesn't have the baby vomit, but it does have the happy ending; you just have to get through the destruction of the world at the beginning. But you know what? So worth it. I think one of the reasons SG1 writers like to destroy the world/strand their characters/otherwise introduce a downer note is that they like to play with the characters outside the very restrictive trappings of their canonical life. The uniforms are shiny, yes, and so is the naquadah, but it all comes with regulations and ethics and responsibilities and duties. Turns out it's hard to make a happy ending for a relationship without destroying all that first. (Don't take that to mean that world destruction guarantees a happy ending in this fandom, either; I'm only saying that you usually have to go through the pain to get to the pleasure, not that the pleasure isn't sometimes, um, strictly artistic.) So sometimes the world has to take one for the team, or the team have to get off the world, and that is of course tragic and all that. But in this story - well. Remember how I've said I came to FF from SF? One of the reasons I stick with Stargate is that so often I read the stories and think, "That could've been in Analog." Well, this story made me think, "This could've been in The Year's Best Science Fiction," because it is just that good and multi-layered and wonderfully written and science fictiony. Brilliant characterizations, amazingly authentic city and culture and world, descriptions like pictures in your head. Isn't a story like that worth a teeny, offscreen, Goa'uld-intensive apocalypse? No, you say? Well, but Salieri also throws in the world's least likely kid, a kid that could only exist in SG, and then somehow makes him seem so very real. Still not enough? Sam, Jack, and Daniel make marvelous parents, and are so very much themselves. The world ended, but they just got - distilled. And apparently raising a child is one more thing they do best as a team, and raising this child is one more saving-the-world-by-the-skin-of-their-asses challenge that no one could pull off but them. Still not enough? Well, did I mention the sex?

-Footnote-

* Louise is also, for the record, the same woman who induced in my Best Beloved a tragic and instantaneous addiction to a carmel-filled substance known as "Tunnocks," which was an act of much-appreciated cruelty, given that we can't get these things in Los Angeles. I mean, I liked them, yes, but for a while I thought Best Beloved was going to leave me for them. (Or, more likely, leave America for them, taking me along because I am cute and fairly handy around the house. Plus, I speak rudimentary British.) So curse those wily Glaswegians and their addicting sweetstuffs! But love on Louise. I'm pretty sure she keeps Aziraphale in her basement.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
When you slash your average pair o' characters, you've got some questions you need to answer if you're going to make it believable.

Like, oh, why two guys who are nominally straight (and have a couple of unrealistic canon dates to prove it) suddenly decide to get their gay going. That one can be easy (Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg, we're all looking right at you). Or tough, or even verging on impossible (Hey there, Frank Pembleton!). But there's usually a moment when the characters have to say, hey, yeah, I want to fuck him. In other words, the guys have to take the first step of coming out. (Other choice: they can take the first step into verging-on-psychotic denial. Yeah, I like the coming out scenario better, too.) And then they have to tell each other, which means taking the second step of telling anyone else.

And then maybe they'll go for the hat trick and tell everyone else. Maybe. Because, see, that can be a problem. More so if, say, sodomy is a hanging offense than if they live in the world of The Wanting Seed, but usually we're somewhere in the middle; they might not die at the hands of the government, but they also probably won't get elected to high office solely because of their newfound skill in butt-sex.

In other words, FF spends a lot of time dealing with coming out. And so do these stories.

Best FF That Will Make It Advisable to Avoid Men Named Bob for the Near Future, Unless These Bobs Enjoy a Lot of Bad Jokes About Their Names. Flora and Fauna and Bob [the white-text-on-black-background bold-text version] or Flora and Fauna and Bob [The .txt version not on the author's website, offered here for those who can't read white-on-black without getting a migraine of apocalyptic proportions], by [livejournal.com profile] julianlee. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. OK, I'll admit that we will be moving through some mildly rocky territory in this set - hey, no one said self-knowledge was easy, and sometimes other-people's-knowledge-about-you isn't, either - so I thought we'd start with something, you know, light. Funny. With great dialog and snappy one-liners. In other words, I thought we'd start off with something Sports Night. And I immediately thought of Julian Lee, whose greatest strength as an author just may be humorous dialog in authentically appropriate voice. (What a shock, you will say to yourself, that she writes Sorkinfic. Ah, yeah. No.) Here we have Danny making a date to consume alcohol with a couple of lovely lesbians. To no one's surprise (well, not if you've read in this fandom before), this situation leads to flirting, protectiveness, and - but of course - to Danny coming out to Casey and Casey coming out to himself, via the highly popular mechanism of office-based kissing. And also to some discussion of haircuts, because the guys can't spend all their time making out. (No, they can't. Well, I guess they can, but Danny and Casey kissing during their show would be a whole different kind of coming out. And a really scary one at that.)

Best FF That I Really Like Even Though I End up Listening to the Bloodhound Gang Every Damn Time I So Much As Think About It. The Bad Touch Series: Rough Trade, Bad Touch, Blood Sport, and Cutting Strings, by Laura Jacquez Valentine, aka [livejournal.com profile] jacquez. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. And because I believe that routine is the silent killer, let's head right on over to the "mildly rocky" portion of today's program. This is a fairly famous series in the fandom - you see it recommended everywhere - and that's partly because it's different. Not, you know, Blair-with-wings or Jim's-having-Blair's-baby different, just - not exactly fanon Jim and Blair, either. I don't actually see it as that far out there, but I know some people do. Not everyone loves this series, is what I'm saying. But I do. And, like most series I love, it gets better as it goes on; if you start it, you've got to make it to at least the third story (they're short, so you're not, like, getting married to it or anything, though, hey - maybe you'll want to), because that's where you get Blair reflecting on the modus operandi of the Jim-Blair relationship, and I find that fascinating (although he totally forgot a step, I'm telling you). Why is this story appropriate for this set? Well, it starts with Blair coming out to Jim, and ends with Jim coming out to himself. And it shows how ouchy that process can be. Also it shows some fairly, um, interesting (where "interesting" is a synonym for "potentially actionable, but no one is pressing charges") behavior in the first two. You're warning. Myself, I don't think it's that bad, and I think the last two explain it all perfectly, but, you know - mileage and all that.

Best FF That Makes Me Think Horrible Crossover-y Thoughts That I Know Could Never Work. And Yet I Can't Stop Wondering If This Is the Island that Jack Sparrow Is Governor Of. It's a Disease, I Think. The Undiscovered Ocean, by Shalott, aka [livejournal.com profile] astolat. Master & Commander, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey. Remember how I said up above that it's tough to tell the world when sodomy is a crime? Well, that means that in some fandoms you'll never see the third step of coming out, because no one wants to see what has to happen after that. (And, seriously, please, no one ever write the AU where Stephen and Jack get executed for sodomy, because yeesh. I mean, I'm the last one to step on a person's artistic freedoms, and I can see where it could totally work, because - wait, no no no. Now I'm about to write it. And this is not that kind of fandom, and more importantly I am not that kind of girl. I really, really hope.) That ominous, looming fear of exposure, disgrace, and maybe death also means the writer usually has to create some kind of safe space for the characters to be able to get it on at all. I've seen this done with shore leaves and long cruises and gateless worlds and voyeuristic aliens and assorted mind-altering substances and...oh, lots of things. But never has it been done so effectively as Shalott does it here. And then, possibly just to prove she can, she takes us through what happens when that safe space is gone. And manages to get a happy ending out of it. (Which, seriously, thank god; it took me weeks to read past a certain point in this story, because that place gave me the same feeling as a certain spot in Y Tu Mama Tambien: shit, they're fucked, there's no way good to resolve this. Let's all be grateful Shalott is a better and kinder writer than the Cuarons, yes?)

Best FF That Features a Bonus Photo of an Ice Monster. Or a Sea Goat. Or a Whistling Tentacular Male Naga in Ritual War Paint. I Look at It Often, and I Have No Clue What It Is. Hanged Man, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. And, yeah. Today I'm recommending stories everyone's already read. Next time I'll go for some that more than one person out there hasn't already heard of, OK? But, see, certain people have to be reminded to read the famous stories, and of course some folks have to be poked to read the great stuff in fandoms they don't know. All of which is a long way to say: I refuse to feel bad about recommending these stories, including this one. Because it is great, my friends. It's about the fear of coming out; it makes the interesting point that you can come out to yourself while still totally being in denial, and you can avoid coming out to everyone else so hard, work so much to preserve Life As You Know It, that you end up making that life - well, fairly sucky. This is totally true. It also, yes, makes the first part of the story a wee bit rocky. But not kill-me-now rocky or anything. And the ending is totally happy - hell, there's four happy endings. Which, predictably, I read twice for every once that I read the whole story. (OK, yes, I'm a happy ending junkie. But that's why I'm this in love with due South in the first place, so I feel entitled to enjoy my fix in this fandom.) And if it always leaves me desperately wanting to hear all about the Basmati rice incident? Small price to pay, really.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Well. It's raining. And I know that now is when all of you who live in parts of the world where they have actual climactic variation fall over laughing, but the thing is, we here in Los Angeles are not accustomed to precipitation, or indeed weather of any kind. Our freeways aren't accustomed to it, and end up covered in mud and (this is true) squid. Our dogs aren't accustomed to it, and refuse to go out. Our ants aren't accustomed to it, and try to come in.

I'm kind of liking it, but only because a) I have some kind of disease that causes me to sleep fifteen hours a day and blink slowly most of the rest of the time, so the rain counts as high entertainment and b) I don't have to go out in it today. Tomorrow, I'll be on the freeway with the mud and the squid and the ants, and it won't be fun.

So. It's raining. I may or not have a fever, but I definitely don't have the energy to get the thermometer and find out. My dogs are staring miserably at the rain and then at me, wondering why I don't do something about all that water falling from the sky. Clearly the time has come for comfort fic, and what is more comfortable and familiar and sweet than a good first time story? Nothing, that's what.

Best FF That Introduces the Most Boring People in the Universe. Yes, More Boring Than Congresspeople, Economics Professors, and Golf Commentators Combined. Buoyancy, by [livejournal.com profile] keiko_kirin. Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. Keiko Kirin shows us the dullest civilization ever created by human beings here; they make an effective, if beige-colored, backdrop for Jack and Daniel and their explorations of gay bars, P4R-951, and, eventually, each other. Daniel proves he speaks the language of bar pickups as well as he speaks Goa'uld. Jack proves that he's still in touch with his inner adolescent. They both prove they love each other exactly as much as we all suspected (well, those of us who have never seen the canon, anyway.) For me, the second half is what makes the story - as I've pretty much proved by summarizing mostly the second half - but the whole thing is well worth reading. Keiko really showcases her skill at pacing, here; she sets a slow and deliberate pace and keeps it compelling. What she does - moving two plots at a chosen speed and paying attention to both of them - is not easy, and it's not something you see that often in fan fiction. Seriously, almost everything she's written since 2001 is worth reading as a lesson in pacing alone, and "Buoyancy" is no exception. Of course, you shouldn't let that distract you from the first-time sex. No, the first read should be all about the sex. And the Museum of Advances in Automated Accounting, which makes the semester I spent learning electrochemistry from the most monotonic man on the planet look fun.

Best FF in Which Danny and Casey Have a Close Encounter with the Antichrist, Which, Naturally, Causes Them to Have Sex. The First Move, by Sinead, aka [livejournal.com profile] smallbeer. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/OFC, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Anyone who is looking for instructions on how to make an original female character who is perfect in every way and yet not a Mary Sue should definitely read this. She's not only perfect; she's a deus ex machina, she's dating Danny, and her linen dresses don't wrinkle, but somehow she is not a Mary Sue. This is impressive, folks. Of course, you aren't expected to like her, either. Casey sure doesn't, although that's mostly because he's undergoing that course of unexpected discovery that ends with two previously heterosexual men having sex on the floor of their office. (Or, in other fandoms, in the supply cabinet, the Captain's quarters, the Fortress of Solitude, a prison cell, the Astronomy Tower, etc.) So fear not the OFC: she isn't as bad as you think, and she gets them together in the end. What more can we ask of our women?

Best FF That Provides a Measurable Increase in the Reader's Sense of Comfort and Peace Even Though It Refers to (Yurk) the Elder Kents Having (Yeeurgh) Intimate Relations. Cover Us With Song, by [livejournal.com profile] weirdnessmagnet. D.C. Universe (Teen Titans), Kon-El (Superboy)/Tim Drake (Robin III, and, um, maybe V? I don't know. I haven't been able to face anything Robin-related since the events of a certain unnamed universe-altering crossover event). There's something so agreeably retro about this story. I can't even tell you what, exactly; I mean, I'm fairly sure the 1950s weren't full of stories about teenaged superheroes having explicit gay sex on the lawn. And yet the retroness (Retrocity? Retroism?) is definitely there. And there's something weirdly innocent about this story, even though, yeah, that's a word we don't usually see going hand-in-hand with the aforementioned explicit gay sex. But it's just - farm boys, and picnics, and studying trig. It's so sweet and retro that, reading this, I keep expecting Kon to give Tim his class ring and Tim to give Kon his letter jacket. And then go out for malts. (I'm thinking Kon would get vanilla because that's honestly his favorite flavor, and Tim would get chocolate because studies show that that is the favorite flavor of 64% of normal high school boys; his actual favorite flavor is raspberry-lime, but only as Alfred makes it.) Definitely comfort reading. Yay for fannish comfort.

Best FF That I Will Definitely Cite As a Reason Not to Have Cable (Assuming the Discovery Channel Is Cable) the Next Time They Try to Sell It to Me. No, Really, I Will. If It's a Telemarketer, I Might Even Read Him the First Part. First, by Ardent, aka [livejournal.com profile] ardent_muses. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. What, you thought I'd do a set of comfort fics and not include a dS story? Clearly, you're thinking of some other idiosyncratic multi-fandom recommender, because when I think comfort, I think about Mounties and Chicago cops engaging in sodomy. And this story - well, it's sweet, but that's what comfort fic is all about, right? Not an angst particle in sight. There's mention of reticulated giraffes, though, and some speculation that I hope is libel about where Fraser gets his sex instruction. And there's a first line that will make my "Top Ten Reasons I Love DS" list, should I ever write it, because there just aren't many fandoms in which a story could reasonably begin after the candy cane factory explosion, and there are hardly any in which the characters could spend the first section covered in candy cane syrup without any explanation whatsoever. Only in dS do we just let that sort of thing go right on by. Because, let's face it, weirder things happen all the time in the canon - no, they do, and I'm not going to tell you to watch said canon again. Or, actually, I am, but I'm not going to go on and on about it. Instead, I will say that this story rates unusually high on the comfortmeter even in this very comforting fandom. And then I will wave cheerfully and go off to take yet another nap. G'night, all!

[Super Secret Bonus for dS Fans! Limited Time Only!]
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Don't like the title? I do, but I can see how you might think it's a bit off-message for a recommendations set celebrating kissing. But I had a hideous time thinking of anything to put up there, and even after I resorted to searching, everything I found had, well, unfortunate overtones. I seriously considered "like kissing God," even though that was about drug addiction. I also flirted with "with eyes that saw not, I kissed her," (I'd have changed the "her" to "him," of course), but, well, if you know that one, you'll see why I refrained; I love the first part of that one, but the last bit makes me alternately recoil and hiss. (I freely admit that this may be an idiosyncratic reaction.) Plus, you know, the girl he's kissing is his daughter, which, in this context - ew.

So instead I went with sarcasm about kissing. It had a certain appeal.

Best FF That Shows Us That There Are Bad Habits, and Then There Are Very, Very Good Ones. Unplanned, by Beth H., aka [livejournal.com profile] bethbethbeth. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. For some reason, stories that don't use kissing as just a quick stop on the road to hot kinky sex seem to be more common in big fandoms. I think maybe in small fandoms there's too much tension; the writers are thinking, shit, if I don't get them fucking, who will? Whereas in larger fandoms people can have a certain confidence that if they don't get to the 69-while-hanging-from-a-chandelier* part, someone else will. This story doesn't get to the inverted oral sex, but I think you'll agree that it doesn't need to. I've loved this for a long time, had it in the recs database for a long time, but watching the canon made it so much better. Because the thing is, lots of times the guys looked like they were about to do this, like this is exactly what would happen if they forgot themselves for a second. They acted like a couple, so much so that there were scenes that seemed to end just before Ray and Fraser casually, coolly, and calmly stuck their tongues in each other's mouths. (And, yes, I will eventually stop trying to make everyone watch the dS canon. But those of you who have been here for a while may remember the SN Siege, when I had Obsessive-Compulsive SN Recommending Disorder for a month. This may be like that. Just warning y'all.)

Best FF That Will Make You Clutch Your Gum and Your Porn to Your Bosom, So Be Careful; No One Likes Sticky Porn. Things to Get Arrested For in Singapore, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Choosing this one was tough; SN has so many excellent kissing stories. But in the end, I had to go with this one, because it's just so Danny to do this; he's one of the very few people, real or imaginary, who can be annoying and adorable at the same time. (Mind you, dogs do this effortlessly pretty much all the time. It's only people who usually can't manage it.) Shrift sees this. She gets this. Which is why I love her dearly even though I cannot look at her name without wanting to re-read The Phantom Tollbooth. Or it's one of the reasons, anyway; there are many reasons to love Shrift, just as there are many reasons to love this story. (Yes, fine, I know that was a lame transition. If you can think of something better, let me know.) I love the structure of this story, how you go through the day following this recurring theme (or, hey, trope). It feels almost like an episode, with lots of snappy, funny dialog and a surprisingly touching conclusion. Plus there's random information about Singapore. How could I not love it? I couldn't. And you should join me in this love.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Deleterious Effect Confessions of Cannibalistic Urges Can Have on Your Sleeping Arrangements, So You Wannabe Cannibals Should Think Before You Speak. Or Not. Definitely Not If You're Sharing My Bed. Kryptonite, by [livejournal.com profile] mimesere. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz "I've Forgotten His Real First Name Again" Osbourne/Xander "I Do Remember His But I Never Can Bring Myself to Use It" Harris. I have a weakness for Oz, that lycanthropic sayer of the strangest right things in the fewest possible words. But the thing that makes me love him makes him hard to write. (I suspect that the canon writers took him out of the show so that they wouldn't have to think so hard all the time.) Which means that a story like this one, where Oz sounds like Oz - I will go a long way for such a story. I will read Oz/Buffy for that. (I'd even consider Oz/Dawn, although I'd have to punish myself for Bad Bad Thoughts afterward.) Which makes it all the more wonderful that I didn't have to go anywhere unfortunate for "Kryptonite" - this is one of my favorite BtVS pairings, right here. I think we can all rejoice about Oz/Xander sex. And we can be happy about the length of this story, too; it's surprisingly long for an "only a kiss" piece. Note, particularly, the last segment - look at how much Mimesere manages to convey in such a short and seemingly trivial piece of writing, how much she manages to suggest without showing a thing. That is perfect, folks, a perfect ending, and not an easy thing to write. Be amazed.

Best Slash FF Featuring Entirely Chaste Behavior on the Part of All Participants. Or As Chaste As These Guys Ever Get. Nesting Place, by [livejournal.com profile] destina. Master and Commander, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey. This is very non-explicit, and what I like about it is how well it illustrates a certain thing about the M&C books. Because, OK, there's one part of one sentence in this story that Patrick O'Brian would never have written (at least as far as we know, although, let's face it, we don't know much about the guy - he could've been writing all manner of Age of Sail gay sex scenes in the privacy of his home, and, god, I'd love to live in a universe where he did); if you take that itty bitty part out, this whole thing, including the kiss, could've come directly from the books. Jack and Stephen are that close. Which makes the books so slashy they almost transcend slashiness. Reading them, I generally get the feeling the O'Brian was just being reticent and polite and eliding the sex parts. (Which, yes, I'm sure would mortify the guy if he was still alive. I'm reporting how I feel, not what I think, OK?) But I'm more with the nosy and the details and the smut, so I like Destina's approach, which is writing like O'Brian minus the gallant, respectful courtesy.

-Footnote-

* Is it wrong that I can see - well, no, but hear - this happening?

"I can't take this much longer. All the blood's rushing to my head."
"Whine whine whine. You think I'm happy? I got the world's worst wedgie, here."
"So cut the fucking cord already."
"Yeah, right. You like toast? You wanna be toast? 'Cause that's what'll happen if we fall."
"Jesus. Just - feeling really light-headed, here. Can't you die like this?"
"I'm not dying with my face two inches from some jackass's crotch, thanks." [thoughtful pause] "Huh. So, you really uncomfortable down there?"
"I told you, I'm dying -" [zzzzzzt] "What - oh. Oh. Oh Jesus God."
"Mmmm."
"Yes. Yes. Yes - oh no you shit don't you fucking dare stop."
"So. More comfy now? A little less blood pooling in your head?"
"No! I'm not more comfortable! Go back to what you were doing!"
"Maybe I would if you put that mouth to some use besides whining."
[pause]
"Yeah, sure, OK." [zzzzt] "Mmmmm."

And I refuse to say what fandom that was in on the grounds that it may - no, would - incriminate me. It wasn't any of the ones recommended above, though; I'll tell you that for free. Now allow me to slink off in shame for even thinking, let alone actually transcribing, this.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I was going to do something special for the 100th nominations set, because - that's more than four hundred stories I've recommended. More than four hundred story summaries I've written. You guys have to be getting sick of this, and it seemed like I'd better take the opportunity to do something different.

So I had this post about the slashiest fandom ever all written, and I was going to do a recs set entirely based on that, even if I had to acquire a new fandom to do it.

But then [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie left for India. (Technically, she's still around, but she's offline and she'll be leaving tomorrow and not coming back for three weeks.) This is depressing, folks. Plus, it's December, and I've just realized that I have no clue how to write regular recommendations, which is going to make a month behind the SN wheel at [livejournal.com profile] crack_van just...so very special. And I have bought no presents for the holiday season, and we're getting into the seriously scary shopping time, and anyway I'm sort of gloomily wondering where I'll get the money to do said shopping. And it seems like my family-of-origin might be going for the traditional Holiday Implosion this year, which, trust me - not pretty, and I'm talking about the kind of "not pretty" likely to require professional intervention. And...and I feel like whining some more, but I'm going to stop, because Jesus, that's pathetic.

Instead, I'll summarize: it's been a day of petty annoyances and looming dread and self-pity. I need to snap myself out of this somehow, and how better than to read about characters I love having that same sort of day? So instead of a special 100th celebration, you get - bad days. Sorry.

(Maybe we can celebrate the, um, 111th post instead. 111 is a nice number, right? Nothing wrong with 111. No, sir; 111 is going to be great.)

Best FF in Which We Learn, to Our Surprise, the Secret Identity of the Reincarnation of Isak Dinesen. In Which Dan Has a Bad Day, by Sinead, aka [livejournal.com profile] smallbeer. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey. See, now, this perked me right up, because Danny's day? So much worse than mine. For one thing, I have soap. And a working toilet. For another, I haven't encountered any surfers of any kind, which is impressive, considering that they're one of the primary indigenous species where I live, and certainly no airhead Nazi surfboy bimbos, although those would definitely add an original touch to anyone's day. And, finally, I have smutty FF like this to get me through the day - FF that is funny and just a touch angsty and ends with sex. Scented sex. Re-reading this made me 50% happier. Bonus: those of you with clothing fetishes will encounter ripped t-shirt Danny in here, which should make you at least 50% happier. So come on, folks - get happy! Read this!

Best FF in Which We Learn Precisely What Wyndham-Pryces Are Famous for. And No, It's Nothing to Do with That, You Total Perv. A Bad Day, by The Brat Queen, aka [livejournal.com profile] thebratqueen. Angel, Angel/Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. I don't want you to think I'm recommending this story just because I've been calling my dog Brat Queen for five years. No, I could recommend any of TBQ's stories if that was the reasoning here, and the same with my love for the way TBQ writes Angel and Wes in an established relationship - i.e., happily and humorously. (I mean, I enjoy the Wes angst as much as the next girl, but this fandom needs the occasional dose of sweetness and light, and TBQ brings it by the sackful.) I'm recommending this story because it shows the importance of wallowing as a coping mechanism. If more people understood that, this world would be - OK, a whinier place. But also one in which people didn't, you know, hit strangers or break valuable things after a bad day, but rather got down with the Scotch and the self-pity. Tell me you wouldn't prefer living in that world, and, well, I'll have to believe you. But I'll believe you while I myself am moving to Wallowland.

Best FF in Which We Learn a Helpful Telephone Cord Detangling Technique, and Then, Even More Helpfully, Learn Why We Should Probably Not Practice It. Madagascar, by Rhipodon Society, for whom I have no links of any kind. Anyone else have one? The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. Why, yes, I am sticking pretty much to my old favorite fandoms today. Why, yes, you will be seeing a due South rec very soon. Why, yes, I am predictable. But it's the good kind of predictable, right? OK. This is just hysterical, from the section epigraphs to the interconnections of the various unfortunate events in Jim's day to Jim's planned strategy for dealing with his troubles, which is moving to, yes, Madagascar. (Or Antarctica.) I myself would choose to move to South America and raise llamas, but we all cope in our own individual ways. The important thing is that this story manages to blend phone cords, illicit Valium-feeding, and a cashier we've all encountered at some point in our lives ([livejournal.com profile] fanofall should be thinking the words "Federal Express" right about now) into a delightfully springy and satisfying whole. Unsolved Mystery: what is it with The Sentinel FF and lasagna? My lasagna manufacture and consumption has increased at least tenfold since I began reading in this fandom, because something like 88% of all TS stories (note: hyperbole spoken here!) feature lasagna as the ultimate in comfort and sexiness. And, yes, OK, that's entirely correct, but it doesn't make it easy for those of us who haven't got the right ingredients on hand. Won't someone please think of the lasagna-less?

Best FF in Which We Learn What Happens to People Who Do Not Have Access to the Food They Are Craving. And to Everyone in the Vicinity, Too. Out of Range, by SA, aka [livejournal.com profile] sathinks, who, incidentally, has a marvelous recs LJ at [livejournal.com profile] sareads. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Even Rays have bad bad days, but they can be solved with the judicious application of Mounties. OK, one Mountie. And - critical lesson, here - nicotine (hush, dSfen), caffeine, carbohydrates, cheese - none of these things can substitute for said Mountie, or your local equivalent. You may think they can, but really you're just fooling yourself, and the sooner you accept that and go get your Mountie the happier you'll be. Um. But no one should take that as an attempt to incite felonious behavior towards our big-hatted, red-coated Northern Friends, because they should be handled with respect and love, not live-capture traps. (Also, they are notoriously skittish, so luring them with bait works better in the long run. I recommend maple candy, myself, or pemmican for the more extreme Mountie.)

P.S. This post is dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] fanofall, who had a day that was much worse than mine. Nothing like the suffering of one's friends to put a little suckiness into perspective! (And, um. That was a joke.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Fan fiction is, at its core, things that never happened. That may be why [livejournal.com profile] basingstoke's fantastic story concept caught on the way it did.

But, really, do we even need an explanation for the popularity of this trope? (Note use of litgeek vocabulary! I can be taught!) No. No, we do not. When something spurs stories this wonderful, we do not analyze or complain or indeed retain higher brain functions of any kind, although those of you who know me will recognize that complaining is pretty much a brain-stem reflex in my case. We simply feel the love. And show the love. For the authors, I mean. And also for the concept, because I just purely love Things That Never Happened stories.

So should you.

Warning: Before you read further, know that Things That Never Happened stories can explore some, um, challenging territory, and by challenging I mean "really fucking depressing or disturbing or just 'oh my god please give me sedative-hypnotics, and give some to the author while you're at it.'" For example, character death is often one of those things that didn't happen, and while the character's continued existence is usually inarguable, imagining it is still fairly grim. When this occurs, I advise going with the coping mechanism suggested by the story title and chanting, "Never happened never happened never happened" while moving briskly to the next entry, but if that isn't going to work for you, or if you are having an especially bad couple of days, maybe you'll be wanting to give most of these a miss for now.

Warning the second: Things That Never Happened stories usually make a lot more sense if you're familiar with the canon. It sort of helps to know what did happen, in other words, before you read about what didn't.

Best FF Whose Cool Life-Event-Related Chapter Headings It Took Me Forever to Notice, for Reasons Best Not Explored in Detail. Five Pictures That Were Never Taken, by Annie-Lee (or just Annie, and Annie, if you read this, feel free to tell me which one you prefer), aka [livejournal.com profile] out_there. Sports Night, assorted pairings and gen. I love this story. I love it because it's the perfect adaptation of the "never happened" concept for this fandom. I love it because it encompasses all the emotional extremes you find in the canon and encapsulates a lot of what I find most appealing about the show. And I love it 'cause of all the stories that are behind these pictures, the stories you know without even needing to be told them, the points you get even though they're never explicitly made. Seriously, this story proves that you don't need to be able to see the picture for it to be worth a thousand words, and I bet you hoped I'd get all the way through this summary without mentioning that aphorism, but you must've known you were doomed from the start. Added bonus: there are several fantastic Sports Night TTNH stories out there, but this is the only one I've found to date that doesn't leave me wanting to ingest massive quantities of psychoactive chemicals. Or maybe radioactive ones. Know of another? I'd love to hear about it.

Best FF That Makes Me Want Snow. No, Need Snow. Which Sucks, Because I Live in Southern California, but Don't Let My Pain Interfere with Your Enjoyment of the Story or Anything. Four Things That Didn't Happen on Christmas Eve, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. X-Men movieverse, assorted pairings and gen. This is all about turnings not taken. For some reason, I find the last segment the most fascinating - and I mean seriously fascinating; the day I read this, I couldn't stop fantasizing about an AU in which Magneto v. Charles Xavier would be totally overshadowed by Caged World Death Match: Telepath v. Telepath. Seriously. I sketched out changes to major canon events and a timeline and everything. Because, see, there's a reason Jean Gray had to become Phoenix, and die an irritating number of times, and, like, get new powers and keep the old, or lose the old, or whatever the fuck happened to her. It's because the good guys don't need two telepaths, and the bad guys can't have even one without unbalancing everything. What difference does it make if people can control storms or fire if there's someone able and willing to control the people themselves? And, see, if Jean went evil, then Xavier would have to say goodbye to all of humanity or start breaking his own code of telepathic ethics, and, see - OK. I'm obsessed, and I admit. But all four segments are good, and I defy anyone with a heart to read the third one without feeling wistful, and it's about to be December. Read, read, read.

Best FF That Made Me Use the Phrase "Pocket Universe" Five Times in the Original Story Summary. But I've Deleted Three of Those, and I Think You'll Be Glad I Did. Family Business: Five Things That Never Happened to Dick Grayson, by Lucy, aka [livejournal.com profile] cereta. D. C. Universe, gen. It never ceases to amaze me that people can write TTNH stories for the main comic book universes, because the comic books themselves do a pretty damn fine job of exploring every possible option and most impossible ones and at least 50% of the ones that leave you shrieking obscenities at the writers. But here we have five Dick Graysons that truly never were, at least to my knowledge, and if this story does not make you want to move to a pocket universe ruled by the author, then you have no sense. (Or possibly way too much. Too much to be reading this LJ, anyway.) And though I said you need to know the canon to be able to read TTNH stories, I don't want people to steer away from this one on that account. For some of these, you only need to know who Batman, Robin, and Catwoman are; for one, you'll need more Smallville than DCU canon. And every segment is worth reading on its own account, I swear it. Plus, you know, if you do get sucked into that pocket universe, you'll want to be able to fangirl the supreme ruler effectively.

Best FF That Teaches Us That, If Someone Offers You a Car, You Should Always Offer Him a Ride. Five Things That Never Happened to Brian O'Conner, by [livejournal.com profile] kelly_girl. The Fast and the Furious, slash and gen. And please note, folks, that this may be a temporary link; I think [livejournal.com profile] dirty_diana is hosting this, but I don't know for how long. Here, Kelly Girl rewrites five scenes from the movie to change Brian's life. The weird thing about reading this right after I saw the movie is that so many of these TTNH make more sense than the way the canon chose to go. No, really. I totally understand how the first one couldn't happen in the movie - and I'm glad it didn't. And I get that the second one wasn't going to happen, even if I'm convinced it was an unfilmed scene. But the third and fifth ones? Those make so much more sense than the way things turned out in the movie that I found myself briefly wondering if maybe what got filmed was some weird AU FF for the real script. Then I got better. But I still loved the story. And if you've seen this movie (or just read a detailed and highly biased description of it), so will you.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I thought that since so many of us here in the States will be over-indulging on Thursday, now might be a good time to remind everyone about the dangers of excess consumption. To wit, that it can lead to gay sex.

And now we see why I will never get a job writing public service announcements.

But, no, really - the drunkfic is a classic of slash literature (I think calling it "slash literature" adds a certain je ne sais quois, don't you?), and this is a time of year for the classics. Turkey, for example. Apple pie. And, of course, alcohol-fueled gay, gay sex. Thank god for tradition, I say.

Best FF That Shows Us That Random Strangers in Parking Lots Have Many Lessons to Teach Us, Not That I Would Advise You to Let Them. Fifth Wheel, by Emily Brunson, aka [livejournal.com profile] janissa11. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. There's nothing more traditional than the Uncomfortable Drunken Conversation. We've all had them. We've all wished we could forget them. But that's because most of them don't end quite as well as this one does. (I hereby wish to apologize to the guy whose name begins with M that I laughed at after he took his pants off in Tracy's bedroom lo these many years ago, and to say that I wish I'd handled the subsequent Uncomfortable Drunken Coversation a bit better. Let me pass on to you an important thing I learned that night: alcohol lowers inhibitions. That doesn't just mean you'll have sex when you'd otherwise think twice. It means you'll laugh at really inappropriate times, too, so it's better not to get yourself in situations where you'll find a near-stranger's underwear amusing, and then be totally unable to come up with a convincing lie to cover for that.) I love this story because it gives us solid first season characterizations: Casey is the fucked up one, Danny is the almost stable and very protective one. Plus, you know, it's written by Em, so it's great. And for those of you who know Em's work well, let me just repeat one thing: it ends well.

Best FF That Shows Us That Bugs Bunny Has Many Lessons to Teach Us, Including Self-Confidence, Comfort with All Aspects of Ourselves, and, of Course, the Importance of Knowing Your Way Around Albuquerque. Samurai Jack'ed, by [livejournal.com profile] khaleesian. The Fast and the Furious, Dom Toretto/Brian O'Conner. A tradition even more embarrassing than the Uncomfortable Drunken Conversation is the Uncomfortable Morning After When Your Memory Is a Complete Blank and You Can't Find Your Clothes. And, really, Dom gets the full, deluxe, all-options version of this, from the friend who can remember what you did and teases you mercilessly to the discovery that you may have made an embarrassing confession last night to the sudden flashes of memory that you'd give a very large sum of money to go away forever. Fortunately, this ends well, too. Provided you consider a sudden discovery of not-so-latent mutual homosexuality "ending well." I love this story 'cause it's so very, very Dom and Brian - Dom controlled beyond all reason, Brian almost as calm as he wants to be, and both of them totally unable to resist fucking each other's brains out. Plus, we finally see what I think of as the "excessive bruising slash cliche" - because, really, sometimes I think all slash characters have platelet disorders or something - put to good use.

Best FF That Shows Us Our Friends Have Many Lessons to Teach Us, Including When and When Not to Make Sarcastic Comments About Masturbation. Reveille, Shalott, aka [livejournal.com profile] astolat. Stargate-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. If you thought waking up with no memory of the night before and a friend who has a sudden, unexpected knowledge of your tattoo count was bad, imagine waking up with no memory and a friend who has a sudden, unexpected knowledge of the inside of your brain. (Not to mention the inside of your thighs, although you'd think Jack and Daniel would expect that, considering the many times this has happened to them in FF.) What important lesson can we take home from this? Beware of aliens offering beverages. In fact, just in general, it's a good idea to stick to bottled water you brought with you when you're exploring strange lands. Waking up with a naked friend and another presence in your mind is one of the better things that can happen to you if you don't. And, in addition to all the other things I love about this story, I love that it does the impossible: it describes an episode of involuntary, uncontrollable telepathy that doesn't squick me. Those of you who know that telepathy is one of my greatest fears are the only ones who will be suitably impressed by this, so the rest of you just trust me: it's damn impressive. Go read this at once.

Best FF That Shows Us That Captain Jack Sparrow Has Many Lessons to Teach Us, and Every Last One of Them Is Illegal in at Least Nine States. But, Hey, Don't Let That Stand in Your Way. First Warning, by Rave, aka [livejournal.com profile] dorkorific* Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow/Will Turner. So, if the last story taught us to be careful what we drink in the company of aliens, this story teaches us to be careful what we drink in the company of Captain Jack Sparrow. Though, really, if you needed to be taught that, you should probably have another look at the movie. Here, Jack proves to be, surprisingly, a gentleman. Of course, he's a gentleman who isn't above copping a cheap feel, but then most of them aren't. And Will proves to be, not at all surprisingly, adept at convenient unconsciousness. I bet that got him out of any number of uncomfortable situations growing up. And in addition to the lovely trope of drunken Will and entertained Jack, this story offers us bonus sea shanties! Sort of. Sea shanties sung the way I sing them, actually, which means with only 10% of the words accurate and in the right place. (I'm still convinced there's a song about "Camptown ladies five miles long" and "Camptown rangers" and "something something bay.")

*Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] goat003
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(And, hey, apparently General Patton has come back from the grave to invite me to enlarge my member. I'm - touched, I guess, though he's doomed to disappointment.)

Ah, jealousy. It's not an emotion so much as a disease, one that overtakes formerly sensible people and turns them into twitching, frothing wrecks. I whiled away many hours of my unfortunate teen years listening to sobbing and incoherent wails along the lines of, "he's fucking her! I know it!" And I once watched a guy punch another guy over advances purportedly made to me by the guy of the second part, even though I didn't know - and still don't know - either guy's name, even. And we won't discuss that one infamous New Year's Eve party that the police in the town where I grew up are probably still talking about, except to say that I hope that officer didn't have to pay for a replacement uniform. So, basically, my perspective on jealousy: it's a terrifying thing that comes out of nowhere and wreaks havoc all around you for no apparent reason.

Let's play with this fascinating malady ourselves now, shall we? Or, rather, inflict it on the characters we love, which is much, much more fun.

Best FF That Leaves Me Wondering, for Reasons Probably Best Not Explored, If Due South Ever Used the Phrase, "Truth, Justice, and the 'Canadian' Way" in Its Advertising. Respect, by Colleen Kane, and does anyone have a link for her of any kind? That actually works, I mean, as opposed to her MRKS site, which is dead and gone, my loves. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Here's why I love this story: it shows that Ray knows how to be in a long-term relationship and Fraser doesn't. And, I mean, why would he? His longest-term relationship has been with Diefenbaker, and a deaf half-wolf with an attitude and an eating disorder is not a set of training wheels for marriage. (God only knows what Dief could be considered training for. Nothing that's going to happen in this world, I hope.) In every relationship there's a moment when you have to step down, step back, accept that being with this person is more important than being right, holding the moral high ground, having the toaster settings the way you like them - whatever. Fraser, who is the definitive "my way or the highway, and then I'll still have it my way, thanks" guy - would he know how to do that? No. But Ray does. And, yay! Ray is a good, good teacher. (And he uses sex as an educational aid far more than I ever remember my own teachers doing. Which, you know, good thing, because otherwise they'd be in jail and I wouldn't know how to find the pressure of an ideal gas at a constant temperature, not that I've needed to lately.)

Best FF That Sets a Fandom Record for Number of Seriously Uncomfortable, Not to Say Unpleasant, Conversations and Yet Somehow Still Manages to Be Funny and Have a Happy Ending. Semaphore, by Helen, aka [livejournal.com profile] helenish. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Here we have a story that pre-dates the famed Rydell Second Season Meltdown, but oddly echoes the mechanisms that induced said meltdown. Except that Danny's the one who made a list, and Casey's the one who is jealous. For a whole variety of reasons, really. And then there's sex. Seriously, this is how that second season arc should've gone, and I wouldn't even insist on the sex. Because in between the list and sex, there's Danny not slinking or prowling but definitely acting as a pie procurement agent for the residents of Manhattan. There's Casey, who is not jealous. Not at all. Except for the parts where he's throwing a jealous tantrum, which is the entire story. There's Natalie and Jeremy breaking up, and wry conversation about said break-up. There's humor in dialog, which is very appropriate and good. There's angst, but not to worry - it all ends well. And did I mention they have sex? I did. Did I mention there's pie? I did. Did I mention the funny? I did. So why are you still here, instead of reading this story?

Best FF That Always Gives Me a Startling Burst of Sympathy for Two Characters I Otherwise Regard As Dull and Vaguely Loathsome, When I Think of Them at All. Green-Eyed Monster, by [livejournal.com profile] shati. Harry Potter, gen. Pretty much. See, the thing is, every bad guy needs his good guy. What's Joker without Batman? What's Ahab without Moby Dick? What's Angelus without, um, Angel? What's Sauron without - well, Frodo, I guess, or Aragorn, or maybe all Nine Walkers? (OK, so the answers are, in order: laughing every minute, sane and fully limbed, guilt-free and full of job satisfaction, and the vicious ruler of all Middle Earth ha ha ha ha, but you take my point.) Draco used to by Harry's bad boy, but by book five he really isn't getting a look-in anymore. It's all Voldemort this and Voldemort that and it's understandable that Draco would be, well, jealous. I love this story, which is more like an outsize drabble, because it highlights a problem JKR had better address if she knows what's good for her. (Because, baby, I write a mean letter when I'm irked, you betcha.) What's she going to do with Draco? His importance in the first part of the series argues that he should be important in the last part, too, but - not as he currently is, the conniving prat who can't look further than the next Quidditch cup match. He can't be important if he stays like that. It's unlikely she's going to take the fanon route, turning Draco into an oversexed sexy sex-god of sexiness, so - what, exactly? My own hope is that she's setting him up for a redemption character arc, but the truth is she's probably just planning to make him the first real Death Eater Harry knows personally, or something. Sigh.

Best FF That Gave Me an Entirely Different Impression the First Time I Read It Than It Has on Subsequent Readings. What New York Couples Fight About, by Zahra, aka [livejournal.com profile] hackthis. X-Men movieverse, John Allerdyce*/Bobby Drake, John Allerdyce*/Piotr - um, Piotr. Will someone please help me remember what Piotr's last name is? OK, see, this is why I love this story, because it is so completely what teenagers do when faced with jealousy. They feed the monster. They declare true and eternal love and whisper "only you, only you, only you" as they fuck on the balcony of a cruddy apartment somewhere. And, you know what? Sometimes it works out fine. Sometimes those teenagers grow up to be adults who cope with jealousy the way adults do. I'm not trashing the teenage coping strategy. If you can skip the meaningful conversations and go straight to the great make-up sex, go for it, is what I'm saying. Because this LJ? Totally pro-sex of pretty much any kind at all. But this story teaches us an important lesson, namely: even if you are going the teenager route with the jealousy, don't hit someone who's made of metal, 'cause that way lies pain. Embarrassing pain. Oh, warning: you might not want to totally trust me on this story summary; I wasn't kidding when I said I read this an entirely different way the first time through. I mean, I really liked it that way, and I also really like it this way, but still - two totally different and mutually exclusive interpretation. So mine may not be the most reliable opinion about it on the planet.

-Footnote-

* I've accepted that John Allerdyce, aka movie Pyro, is a whole different person than comicbook Pyro, and I'm therefore reluctantly coming to terms with the name change. Though, dammit, St. John is just so much the cooler name, and it's his name, but I'm not going down this path again, I'm just not. It's one of those changes you have to learn to live with, unless you prefer to live with insanity.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
It's another "dress you up with my love" entry; the only reason I didn't use that for the title is that I'm sure we'd all prefer not to remember that particular phase of musical history. (Of course, now we all do remember it, and some unlucky person will be humming that song for another 48 hours, but baby, sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind.)

This entry, though, features no cross-dressing at all; frankly, there's a limit to the number of cheerleader outfit stories I can cope with in any given week, and that number decreases violently if there aren't any women in said stories. So instead, I'm offering stories in which clothes serve a significant purpose, a revelatory purpose - in other words, where an article of adornment acts as an agent of discovery, and, yow. Think I switched writing gears there for a second. But I'm not going to worry about it, and I'm not going to go back to correct it, either; onward and upward, that is my LJ motto. Onward to the stories, so that you can move upward to someone else's writing. So, once more unto the breach, dear friends, and close up the wall with our English smut.

Best FF That Could Almost Make Me Like Thongs, Only Not, Because Thongs Are the Work of Satan and No Amount of Fan Fiction or Ready Cash Could Convince Me Otherwise. Cotton, by Vera, aka [livejournal.com profile] copracat. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor. I have something I need to get off my chest. Smallville has become one of my fandoms. I thought I'd just come out and say that right now; I've learned the folly of swearing in public - or at least here - that I will not acquire a given fandom, no no no a thousand times no, because then the rabid weasels come for me. So I'm saving myself some weasel-time by admitting I'm on the SV train now. And also because, um. Let's just say that you might as well accept the fandom in your heart once you find yourself explaining to your Best Beloved, your Best Beloved who has actually seen episodes of Smallville, in direct contrast to you, who has most certainly not, that it's a pity the show didn't start a few years earlier because Lex was made for pre-turnover Hong Kong. And defending that statement with supporting evidence even though the Best Beloved seems not just willing but anxious to let it die a quiet, unacknowledged death and blame it on the fever. So this is my first SV rec, to the best of my knowledge, and I've begun as I mean to go on, with a lovely story in which Martha does the laundry. No, really, that's the whole story. It's fantastic. (Yes, this is how I mean to go on. In terms of quality. And, hell, laundry too, but if there proves not to be a large archive of SV laundry stories, I will be forced to resort to smut. Just a friendly warning.)

Best FF That Makes Me Wonder If I Should Start Inspecting the Labels of My Clothing for Statements Like "55% Ramie, 45% Cotton, and No Moral Fiber to Speak of." Paddle to the CSC, by Julian Lee, aka [livejournal.com profile] julianlee*. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Sam Donovan, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. A new fandom does not mean I do not still love you, old fandoms! I'm as slutty as slut can be when it comes to fandoms, and I continue to read all my old ones even as I assimilate new ones. (Why no, I don't get much sleep. Also, I'm experimenting with various dangerous, completely untested time-alteration devices. They could potentially destroy the world, but apparently slash can do that even on a good day, so I'm not worried. Plus, when you weigh the importance of smut versus a stable space-time continuum, well, let's face it; we have clocks 'cause none of us is that good with time in the first place, so who is ever going to notice if time breaks?) This story revolves around the Shirt. Yes, that Shirt - the one that Gordon got from Casey via Sally; the Shirt that is basically the all-cotton equivalent of a venereal disease. Did you know the VD Shirt had further adventures? It did, and Julian Lee is here to tell us all about them. (Note: Dan/Casey shippers should not be alarmed by the pairing list here. For one thing, I'm pretty much right there with you guys, so you should know I won't lead you astray. For another thing, the Sam interlude isn't, you know, permanent or anything. Plus, who doesn't feel the Sam love? Well, not me. And, judging by this story, not Danny, either.)

Best FF That Reveals the Unsung Sexy Side of the World Wildlife Federation's Logo, but Not in a Way That Makes You Want to Call the Cops or Anything. Adorned, by Resonant, aka [livejournal.com profile] resonant8. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski, plus mention of Ray Kowalski/Stella Kowalski. (Note: if you are a diehard Kowalski/Fraser fan - and I'm naming no names, here, but one of them has been sleeping in my bed - you will want to read the follow-up story, Borealis.) Just so that no old fandom (all together now: "get new fandoms but keep the old - one is shiny and the other is also shiny, only with a richer, deeper luster") feels left behind, I'm recommending another of my much-loved pairings. This one is so much a part of my life at this point that when I typed "Benton Kowalski/Ray Fraser" just now, it took me several seconds to see what was wrong with that. Plus, Resonant. You all know Resonant, right? Well, if you don't, it isn't from lack of effort on my part. She's high on my list of writers I'd chain up in my spare bedroom if I wasn't concerned that a) that might not actually increase their writing output b) they might compete with me for computer time and c) they might also pick up on the unfortunate Stephen King overtones of the whole thing. Plus I understand there could be some sort of legal repercussions. Anyway, this is one of the first dS stories I read by Resonant, and it just totally reinforced my unhealthy feelings for her, because almost every single word of this story is perfect. (I mean it. If there was anything even approaching justice in this world, Resonant's works would be way outselling John Grisham's.) This story is about what we put on our loved ones, how we mark them and how we make them our own. And, oh, Jesus. Worst story summary ever, so let me start again. Ray likes to make things pretty, and that goes double for the people he loves. Now go read the damn story already.

Best FF That Made Me Strangely Comfortable with the Concept of a Peep Show, Which Always in the Past Has Struck Me as Just One Step Above Stalking and Approximately 30,000 Steps Below Any Non-Skeevy Sexual Activity. Nice Shirt, by [livejournal.com profile] glossing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Daniel "Oz" Osbourne/Xander Harris. Warning: this is a work in progress. I don't normally recommend works in progress, but this one belongs in this set, plus each entry stands alone as an essentially complete story, so I refuse to feel guilty about this. Do you hear me? No guilt. Cannot be made to feel guilt. And I am not protesting too much. But getting back to the story - well, first you should know that this is all about this shirt. Those are not photo manipulations; Oz and Xander really do wear the same shirt at different points in the canon. And while that could just be a coincidence, or a lazy costume director, or - hell - even two similar but not identical shirts, it could also indicate another shirt with low, low morals. And given what the shirt actually says, plus my general opinion of the morals of the cottton crowd, guess which way I'm betting? Glossing is justly renowned for her Oz, and this story will show you why. Also, her Xander is just the way I like to see him. And I actually did have more to say about this, but here's where I'm going to be ending this story summary, because my keyboard has just developed an irritating glitch. Arg.

-Footnote-

*Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] laylee!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(Note: I try not to do two entries in one day, because I figure my entries are long enough in people's friends lists without risking having two of them on the same page. What can I say? I'm bored. And I have this strange accession of energy brought on by sleeping for more than an hour at a time ; suddenly I'm not writing four nonsensical sentences, then heading into the kitchen in search of the caffeinated beverages I threw away when I thought they were causing the insomnia. It clears up all this time for - well, for what? That's the question. This, I guess. But my apologies to those who feel I'm oversharing.)

I love rare pairings. I love stories that stun me with their pairings - what? who'd ever think of writing this? - and then totally sell me on them. It's not an easy thing; I mean, there's a reason Ray/Fraser is more common than Welsh/Dewey (note to the easily alarmed: I've never actually seen a story with that pairing, so stop worrying) (note to the highly suggestible: I'm not sure I want to see a story with that pairing, either, so stop cackling in that scarily evil way) - subtext. It's a lot easier to slash people who have some chemistry. Hell, it's a lot easier to slash people who occupy the same part of the space-time continuum. But when an author finds some hidden gem of subtext or rationale for a pairing no one else would write, well, I want to embrace that author. And then tie her to keyboard and force her to write me stories every day. But I usually refrain from both those things, and I imagine the authors are grateful.

Best FF That Pairs the Two Least Scrutable People in a Whole Universe, Leading to a Relationship That Must Be Like Reading Runes in the Dark. But With Way More Sex. The Undiscovered Country series: Plans, by [livejournal.com profile] debchan, Sun, by Te, aka [livejournal.com profile] thete1, and Moon, by The Spike, aka [livejournal.com profile] spike21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Daniel "Oz" Osbourne/Ethan Rayne. This is one of the very few series I've found with every entry by a different author; it's all the rarer because all the stories are good. (My personal favorite is "Moon," for the world's best look at the unimaginable power and impulsiveness of Ethan Rayne.) And Oz/Ethan isn't a pairing that seems like it would work, especially in a long-term sense - I mean, come on. Ethan Rayne? Committing to something? Committing to someone, and I don't just mean in the show-up-and-torment-him-every-few-years way, but in the here today, here tomorrow way that most of us mean by commitment? Except - if he was ever going to do that, it'd be with someone as deep and unfathomable (and, yes, those are horrible adjectives, but I'm sorry; they just are Oz, and there's nothing I can do about it) as Oz. Oz is never going to get boring, that's for sure, and yet he's reliable and constant. (That makes him sound like Oz Osbourne, the original strange attractor, but let it go.) Um, sorry, the Oz-love is getting a little overwhelming, isn't it? So let me just say this: read these stories, and you'll be able to buy into Oz/Ethan, too.

Best FF That Makes Me Pity a Character I Normally Dislike. And Makes Me Absolutely Despise Her at the Same Time. Which I Think You'll Admit Is Quite a Trick. Covet, by Speranza, ak [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza.* Due South, Stella Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Yes. I am not kidding. Speranza has clearly taken the Fan Fiction Writer's Commandments to heart (#8 states that there is no practical difference between love and hate when it comes to writing sex scenes). And this isn't just some random thing where someone thinks of the world's least likely pairing - Dan Rydell/Sally Sasser, say - and writes it, canon be damned. No, this is a totally believable Stella/Fraser pairing, which is one of the stranger sentences I've written today. But slashers, do not fear; this will not hurt you. RayK/Fraser shippers, including the one who shares my bed each night, do not recoil; this will not violate your deeply-held beliefs. And everyone who is looking from the pairing to the fandom and back again and saying, "What the fuck?" loud enough for the person in the next cubicle to look over in surprise, trust me. No, wait, don't bother trusting me; trust Speranza. You won't be sorry.

Best FF That Makes Me Forget All About the Stupidity of Rubber Suits, and Makes the Distant Sound of Squishing Frenchmen Positively Romantic. Springtime in Paris, by [livejournal.com profile] dijeron. I'm not sure what the fandom is - monster movies, maybe. Godzilla/King Kong. I am quite serious. And so is the author; this isn't played for laughs. When I started reading this, my mind was full of men in bad rubber monster suits tromping on tiny model cities, and I was prepared to giggle; when I was done, I understood for the first time why Peter Jackson wants to remake King Kong. I honestly can't think of any other way to describe this or to explain why you should read it. So instead I'll whine. See, the title makes me think of "Springtime for Hitler" - and, really, I'm not sure why, since there's only the one word in common - and every time I see it I find myself singing that under my breath. Which, OK, but there's a limit to the amount of time I want to spend with my own hideous live version of the soundtrack for "The Producers." Although that does suggest a rare fandom that I need to enter at [livejournal.com profile] yuletide...no, no. The sickness must stop.

Best FF That Accuses Dana Whitaker of Previously Unsuspected Evil - Namely, Love for K. C. and the Sunshine Band, Which I Think Is Punishable by Law in Some Boroughs of New York City. Girls' Night In, by Annie, aka [livejournal.com profile] out_there. Sports Night, Dana Whitaker/Lisa McCall. (I guess that's Lisa's last name, at least at this point in the canon history.) This story answers an interesting question: how did Casey get Dana in the divorce? I mean, yes, crush, yes, friends, yes, working together - but Dana was Lisa's friend first and longest, and that makes a difference. I would've expected, at the least, a year or two of strained friendship with both sides. But as early as the pilot episode, Dana has made her choice. Or did someone else make it for her? I'm amazed by this story, and the moreso because I have a hard time seeing femslashiness in Dana; she tries so hard to be simultaneously one of the boys and one for the boys that it's tough to imagine her focus switching to girls, even for a night. This story, though, describes a Dana who didn't used to be like that. It's astonishingly well-done and believable. All hail Annie, who saw the femslash potential in a show practically struck blind by the boy love. (Note: so far I have not been required to post a Certified Safe Alternate for SN stories. I suspect, however, that's only because I've never recommended a story that wasn't Danny/Casey and happy-ending-ful. We shall see if death threats and bouts of vicious pouting result from this rec.)

* Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] estrella30, for solving the Mystery of the Missing Link (the missing link being me, of course, not the story; the story was there all along, but my brain was MIA) in a timely and soothing fashion.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
For the record, I totally disagree with the title of this entry, and consider that statement definitive proof that Virginia Woolf was off her rocker, because telephones are not romantic. They are evil. There's a creeping, insidious malevolence about the telephone that most people just don't understand, probably because they were victims, early in their lives, of Brave New World-style psychological conditioning conducted by a telephone company. (And, yes, a telephone company would do that, because telephones may be evil, but telephone companies are Satanic.)

This all just goes to prove the magic of fandom, though, because in these stories fan fiction writers create good from telephonic evil. But you shouldn't take that as an excuse to let your guard down around phones. You can't trust those things for a second.

Best FF That Shows Us How to Handle Long-Distance Relationships: with Lots of Telephone Calls, Lots of Talking, and Lots and Lots of Mutual Masturbation. Springfield, [livejournal.com profile] estrella30. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Fraser does not strike me as a phone sex kind of guy. Which is why this story works so well; Ray almost has to handcuff him to the receiver to get him going. (I can just picture that, actually. Ray'd have to get Fraser to cuff himself to the phone, since he's not in the room, and he could probably persuade Fraser to do that, too. Immovable Object Fraser, meet Irresistible Force Kowalski. Turns out the result of that kind of meeting isn't the end of the universe, as we used to theorize back in high school, but rather hot, hot sex.) I also love that Estrella has Ray weirded out once the guys are actually in the same room together, while Fraser turns into Constable Sex Machine. But then, I love everything about Estrella's writing, so it isn't a surprise I'd love this story, which I think is her longest one to date. And she doesn't waste any space, either; every single detail is right, from the way Ray reacts to sitting in a courtroom (he sort of vibrates, like Kid Flash, only with more swearing), to the conversations that Fraser and Ray have before they get to the sex portion of the program (they don't say much, but they both view their conversations as a lifeline), to Dief's ceremonious dispatch into the hallway ("I thank you for your company, but you're excused now.") To sum: this is a wonderful story.

Best FF That Proves That a Certain Sports Anchor Can Use His Way with Words for Evil. And Also Proves That He Should Do That Way, Way More Often. Reach Out and Touch Someone, by Caroline Baker, aka [livejournal.com profile] linabean, and Fox, aka [livejournal.com profile] darthfox. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. For the record, "Reach Out and Touch Someone" was going to be the title of this entry, but Caroline Baker and Fox got there first, and I don't even hold it against them, 'cause they used it on a great story. This is funny and light-hearted and insanely porny, which I suspect will sell about 85% of this LJ's readers on it. Not enough? Wait! There's more. Because the funniest part is actually not technically part of the story - it's the chat extract that follows the end. So be sure to read the chat transcript at the beginning, because otherwise you might not get the joke. And if that still isn't enough for you - although, really, it should be - this story has yet another attraction to lure the jaded reader: evil Danny. Not, you know, Angelus-type evil, where you have to send nuns away for their own good. More like Spike evil, where, OK, yes, technically he is evil, but he's so good at it, and he's so likable that you just love him anyway. And people find him inexplicably sexy. (I sincerely hope that bit didn't make anyone imagine Danny being played by James Marsters, though, because that would be too weird for words.) So. I've told you there's phones in this story, and that it's funny, and that it's up to its apostrophes in smut; do you really need to know more? OK. One other detail. In this story, Casey has hurt his elbow. Now go read it.

Best FF That Features - I Swear to God - a Cameo by Ewan McGregor, Even Though It Is Set in a Totally Ewan-Free Canon. Conversation, by [livejournal.com profile] cara_chapel. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. (You know, I'm starting to feel like I'm always recommending the same three fandoms, which means, I imagine, that the people who read this must be well and truly sick of said fandoms. So for the next entry I'll look through my list for a set that is made up of fandoms I haven't recommended for a while. It'll be kind of a palate-clearer for us all. Anyway, back to the rec.) Jim, on stakeout, commits an act of Sentinel voyeurism (which is just like regular voyeurism, except that it's got more detail and more sensory involvement than most of us get when we're having sex right up close and personal). And then he calls Blair, which is so what he would do, and only Jim could convince himself that he's doing it for some reason other than a desire for late-night phone sex. But, hey, Sandburg's no dummy, and he totally isn't fooled, so they have their phone sex anyway. The thing that always draws my attention when I read this story, though, is the couple Jim watches have sex; they sound to me like the characters played by Ewan McGregor and Yoshi Oida in The Pillow Book. (Hence the title of this story's award.) Anyone else get that? No? Well, but the blond guy in this story is named Jerome, and so was McGregor's character. Still don't see it? Maybe I'm insane. Anyway, this story just feels right to me. Somehow, Jim seems like the kind of guy that would feel more comfortable talking on the phone than in person, and Blair seems like one of those people that use telephones as almost an extension of their bodies, just one more way of guaranteeing that there'll always be someone to talk to. I doubt that's canon, or even in line with canon - for all I know, both guys hate phones - but it's one of the reasons this story works for me. Only one of them, though, so feel to read it even if you don't agree.

Best FF That Shows Us That Sometimes Even Telepathy Isn't Enough to Ensure You'll Win Mind Games. Golden, by Andraste, aka [livejournal.com profile] andrastewhite. X-Men, Charles Xavier/Erik Lehnsherr. (And, hey. Did everyone else know this interesting fact and just keep it from me? Because I was reading the Magneto entry at the Marvel Directory, and apparently Magneto once used the alias Michael Xavier. Am I the only person shocked and delighted by this news? Am I the only person now singing "Charles and Erik, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jean Gray in a baby carriage?" Less delightful - more neutral, really - is the news that in the comics canon Erik Lehnsherr is not necessarily his real name, which I also totally didn't know. And I call myself a comics fan.) So, getting back to the story. This is a telephone-based fic with no phone sex; in fact, there's no sex of any kind. Charles and Erik have moved past using the telephone as a sex toy; for them, it's more of a weapon in their reach-out-and-hurt-someone-you-love arsenal. Not that they need any help, mechanical or otherwise, to hurt each other, because they've got that down. But, hey, there's a lot of FF couples who can do that; that's not what makes these guys special. This story shows us what does. It captures that indefinable Xavier/Magneto magic, in which love and hate and pain and pleasure are all inextricably mixed, so that they can't stop loving each other any more than they can stop fighting each other. This isn't an easy dynamic to write, so be impressed with Andraste. I sure am.

Next time: a recs set that doesn't contain a single dS, TS, or SN story. If I can write such a thing without dropping dead.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Best FF That Destroyed Cherished Childhood Memories of Mine, but Will Not Destroy Any Memories of Yours, Unless Your Father Also Sang You to Sleep with "Pinball Wizard." And If He Did, Email Me, Because We Probably Had the Same Father; I Mean, There Couldn't Be Two Men Like That. Tilt, by Resonant, aka [livejournal.com profile] resonant8. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Well. Ray and Fraser. Wanda in a chainmail bikini. Pinball. Kissing in public. Mountie-suit-related cruelty. Sex. And Resonant. Do I need to tell you more to sell you on this thing? I thought not. So let me, in the grand Livejournal tradition, change the subject to myself. Yes, my father really did sing me to sleep with "Pinball Wizard," because apparently I used some of my very first communicative words to request it. (This is such a revealing detail that anyone out there who also happens to be a member of my family will recognize me from that alone. So, if you know who I am now, go away. Get your porn recs from someone you don't share any genes with.) And when I say "requested," I don't mean once; I asked for it every night until I was five or six. And since I didn't sleep through the night until after first grade, my father spent hours every night singing this song. For years and years. (Yes, mine is the best father in the world. And that was totally non-sarcastic; even this LJ is capable of sincerity, on occasion.) God only knows why "Pinball Wizard" had such an unhealthy attraction for me. But I can't help thinking all that early exposure to the deaf, dumb, and blind kid who sure played a mean pinball warped me in some essential way.

FF Featuring the World's Best Thing to Yell While Having an Orgasm: "Incoming!" Yes, Ladies (and Gentlemen, and Others), Try That One Tonight and Watch Your Lover Fall Right off the Bed. No, Really, I Dare You. Silk, by [livejournal.com profile] cmshaw. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. Silk boxers are something of a cliche in this fandom, and I think this story might just be the reason. Because torturing Jim is such fun; I mean, what good is a Sentinel if you can't annoy him? (This message brought to you by Blair Sandburg, who would like to add: bother your Sentinel today! But not mine, man, because only I get to bother him.) So, here we have jimblairishness, silky underwear, little fishes, and sex. I can't think what else you'd need to know, so I'll change the subject again. This story is linked, in my mind, to [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie's silk rant; I can't read one without thinking of the other. See, I am not a fabric snob. I knit, and I can be a bit of a yarn snob, but when it comes to fabrics? Um. It should be machine washable. Beyond that, all I can say is that it should wear really really well, because once I commit to an article of clothing, I am going to wear it until it is in shreds. (And even then I will continue to wear it to bed.) I do not like shopping for clothes, because nothing ever looks like something I would wear, and I do not like wearing new clothes, because they don't feel like something I would wear, so I wear the same things over and over and over. (I like to think Jim Ellison would understand this.) That trait means I never really considered the strangeness of silk cropping up all over the place in FF until MMWD brought it up. Because, yes, I've worn silk underwear, and silk shirts, and even a silk dress, but I hated them all. And I had a point to this, but I've been fatally distracted by the realization that this is, again, something Jim Ellison would understand. So, you know, way too much identification with Jim going on here today, and I'm scared. Moving on. Briskly.

Best FF That Explains How Shaving Can Be Used As a Psychological Diagnostic. And Why We Should All Try to Masturbate in Public More Often. Close, by [livejournal.com profile] actizera. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Christopher Keller. Note, folks, that this one is safe for Oz phobics (You have nothing to fear, Ozphobes, but fear itself. Well, and Vern Schillinger.) and novices; nothing bad happens in it, and you don't need any canon knowledge (beyond, you know, that these guys are in prison), either. It's just good, clean public sex, to the extent that public sex can be considered clean and good. Note that in this fandom I consider it public sex if the lights are on, because you just can't use normal definitions in Oz. It's the fandom that broke the fannish lexicon. (Hurt/comfort? Well, baby, let me tell you the tale of Beecher/Keller, because it's pretty much all hurt/comfort. Slash? Um. Is it still slash if it's a canon relationship? Non-con? Jesus, I don't know. Is anything truly consensual in Oz?) Seriously. It's the Fandom Different, and I've had to rework all my usual categories so that they apply to Oz. Just one more reason to love the fandom, I guess. Anyway, here we have Beecher being a little slut and manipulating Keller. I love it when Beecher does that, and you should, too. (To continue the tradition of bringing every rec back to me, let me tell you how alarmed I am to see Oz bedding down in this set with all my happy fandoms. I mean, we're going to have not one but two stories from Sports Night in a minute, and that will pretty much run the gamut of safety fandoms, for me. And yet, here's Oz, like a cat among pigeons. Or, worse, like a Schillinger among first-season Beechers. Tell me Oz is not going to become one of my baseline fandoms. Please.)

Best FF Featuring an Incredibly, Intensely Lame Prom Theme. Worse Even Than the Prom Theme My Freshman Year, Which Was - Really! - "To All the Girls I've Loved Before." I Have No Idea Who Picked This, but She Was Either a Wicked Satirist, a Bitter Ex, or a Deinstitutionalized Psychotic. Whichever, I'd Like to Shake Her Hand. This Year's Prom Theme, by Pares, aka [livejournal.com profile] kormantic. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. I had a hard time picking the SN story I'd put in this set, because there's two with identical plots - no, really, Charlemagne even talks about it in his author's note for Party of Two. I ended up going with "This Year's Prom Theme" because a) it's been more thoroughly proofread, b) the guys actually have sex, rather than just making out, in public, and c) I can't figure out what Charlemagne's story is called. It could be "Party of Two," yes, but it could also be "Old Friends." If you read it, inspect the page and let me know what you think it's called. So. Here Casey has sex with a prom queen. But that's all right, because he eventually has public sex with Dan, and that fixes things up nicely. This story scores a little bit high on my angst-o-meter, especially for this fandom. (I want happiness in this fandom - happiness and snarkiness and happiness and sex and a happy ending. I'm prepared to compromise about the sex, but not the ending, which is unusual for me.) But you know what? It may have a bit of angst, yes, but it has many great moments. For example, the sex in front of the publicist in Natalie's living room. Yeah, I thought that'd pique your interest. I won't try to keep you here any longer.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
A long, long, long time ago I promised my beloved [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie a post on FF I'd seen that violated a credo of the genre and yet somehow was still good. There really are such stories out there. We've all read them; stories where, for example, Benton Fraser grows tentacles and gets pregnant, even though he is technically male, by Ray Kowalski, who turns out to be a dragon. And Kowalski can talk to other reptiles, and he defeats Tom Riddle and saves Harry Potter, and Fraser can talk to horses and dogs and brings Sirius Black back from the dead.

OK. I don't have any fics that violate quite that many rules, for the very good reason that so far the Keep Fandom Sane Project has managed to take down people considering writing such fic, using special tracking implants, tranquilizer guns, and, where necessary, complicated memory-alteration devices. We should all be grateful for their efforts.

But there are fics that break a FF rule and yet are somehow really, really good. I've been patiently making a list of them since, um, May. And, at long last, here it is. Even though you've probably forgotten all about this, MMWD, this insanity is all your fault. But I've been saying that since the day I met you.

-The Personal Peeves-

The Best FF That Starts with the Phrase "Master Dick" and Yet Isn't at All Funny or Punnish. Which Is, You'll Grant, Seriously Strange for This Fandom. Not a Heart, Beating, by Brighid, aka [livejournal.com profile] brighidestone. D. C. Universe, Batclan, Batman/Dick Grayson, and I chose to use those names after careful consideration, so don't yell at me about using one hero name and one birth name, OK? This story doesn't so much break a Fanfic Commandment ("Thou Shalt Not, Without a Really, Really Good Reason, Give Psychic Powers to the Canonically Non-Psychic," etc.) as a personal rule. I really, really hate it when people have healing sex. The ultimate case of this is, of course, the healing sex that follows rape, but I'm against other kinds of healing sex, too, because sex doesn't heal. It's fun and it's good and it feels like the best thing ever when you're doing it, but it can't fix you when you're broken. I've tried that, so I know that having sex when you're broken will only make you more broken. Except, of course, in the Batworld, where everyone is always broken, so you have to make certain allowances. This story is possibly the perfect example of why the Bats can have healing sex, and vicious sex, and just about every other kind of rule-breaking sex imaginable. To find out more, you'll just have to go there.

Best FF That Will Make You Want Cheesecake. Well, Actually, That May Not Be So Unusual; So Many Women Have Grown Accustomed to Sublimating Their Desires. So Let Me Instead Call This the Best FF That Will Make You Sure Cheesecake Is Just a Substitute for Sex. A Little Cheesecake, by [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. I just totally hate the false no; I have a whole rant on it that is three pages long that I will, please god please, never make available in a public place. I'm going to try to avoid quoting from said essay in what follows, but I make no promises.

The false no goes like this. A and B are beginning a first-time type sex scene. They've been kissing, maybe, and A starts moving things along by groping a bit.

B moans appreciatively into A's mouth.
A, emboldened, takes things a step further; perhaps he unzips B's jeans, or maybe he takes off B's shirt, or maybe he sucks on B's fingers. Whatever.
B says, "No." Or, "Wait." Or, "On second thought..."
A recoils, wounded, his hopes and dreams dashed to the ground, angst welling up all around him.
B reveals that he just meant, "No, or I'll come." Or possibly, "Wait, we could go to the bedroom now." Something like that.

I just fucking hate when that happens in an otherwise normal sex scene, because people don't do that in first time situations. They're careful of their partner's feelings, and they remember the power that "no" carries. It's only later that people play around with safewords and sexy fake refusals. And, you know, I've pretty much summed up that essay here, so let me try to get back to the story.

Here, the false no works, because it's in the right place, and because Jim and Blair don't know each other very well yet, and because Kass is a genius. I hate the false no, really hate it - it's just a way to crank up the angst unnecessarily, a gimmick, a crutch - but I love it here. It just - works. And since I've already gone on and on and on about this, I'll let you go read the story now.

-The Broken Absolute Laws of Fan Fiction-

Best FF That Should Make All Those Fangirls Who Put Themselves - Only Smarter and Prettier and Better and with Flowing Ebony Hair and Violet Eyes - into Their Stories Deeply Ashamed, but Probably Won't, Because Let's Face It, Those Fangirls Are Likely Dead to Shame. Once and Almost Completely, by [livejournal.com profile] scrunchy. Sports Night, Danny/Scrunchy. Seriously. This is self-insertion het, right here, and yet - somehow it works. I can't say any more than that. [livejournal.com profile] scrunchy gets Danny and Casey. She, like, channels them or something. So even when she's writing about Danny falling in love with, well, her, it works. And there's an important lesson here, for Mary Sue-ists. No, wait, there's at least two. The first one is: the less we hear directly from you, the more we like you. Hearing about Scrunchy through Danny makes it good, somehow; hearing about the perfection of Scrunchy from the author would be intolerable. The second lesson is: less is more. Which I'm trying to put into practice in this rec.

Best FF That Almost Makes Me Wish That the Owie on My Back Wasn't a Burn, but Rather the Development of an Entirely New Body Part Not Generally Found in Mammals, Except Maybe Certain Bats, and I Am Not a Bat. I'm Not Nearly Fucked up Enough to Be a Bat. Unless That's Just DCU Overexposure Talking. Graceless, by [livejournal.com profile] dirty_diana. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. What, you thought we'd get through this set without hearing from both of my trusty Happy Fandoms? More fool you, because when it comes to the scary world of law-breaking fic, I need to go to my happy places. Which is, of course, where I find most of the law-breaking fic, so maybe we shouldn't look too closely at that piece of reasoning. So. Go read this right now. Don't read any further until you've read this story; it's good and it's happy and you'll like it, you will. Honestly. I had my Best Beloved test-read it and everything. So it's safe, and you don't need to know more, so read it now.

All done? OK. Now that you've read it, you know what rule it violates. And, frankly, that's a rule that I don't understand; I mean, why do we even need a covenant stating Thou Shalt Not Write Wingfic? What's this weird attraction for putting wings in non-wing fandoms? It's like having a commandment telling us not to have sex with blue trees under two feet tall while orbiting Pluto. I mean, you want wings, there's fandoms for you - Good Omens, Dogma, X-Men (look, it isn't my fault Warren hasn't appeared in the movies; he's there in the comic books, and he's got palpable wings). Why put wings on Angel? He wouldn't use them, you know; he'd just mope about how someone more deserving than him should've got them. Why put wings on Legolas? You'd just eliminate the last difference between (book canon) elves and angels, and I feel sure Tolkien would've done that if he'd wanted to. Why put wings on Ray Kowalski? Well, as it turns out, so you can have this perfect, wonderful fic, featuring a Ray and a Fraser who are absolutely as I see them, wings or not.

Best FF That Made Me Doubt My Sanity and My Mental Health. Well, No, Because a Lot of FF Does That; It's the Best FF That Made Me Seriously Consider Seeking Therapy. Again. Untitled Sequel to "Aliens Make Ford and Arthur Have Sex", by Katy, aka [livejournal.com profile] imperfectcircle. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent/Ford Prefect. (Note: You should really read the first one in this series before you read this. I've recommended it previously, so if you know it, feel free to charge ahead into truly uncharted waters.) This rec alarms me. Because this is the not even the first time I've recommended MPreg. Do I have some strange, deeply repressed part of me that wants to read MPreg? And if I do, how do I get rid of it?

Those two stories are just fucking fantastic, yes, but on the whole the genre mystifies me. I don't read fic for men doing girl things; I read fic for men doing boy things, generally to other men. (And, no, I don't define "sucking cock" as a strictly boy thing, although I think you'll admit that it helps to have at least one male present for that activity. But pregnancy? That is a girl thing, by god, and I don't want to read about it happening to men. I hope.) If I want a pregnancy fic, I'll look for femslash, dammit. And, um, that probably sounded biased, but it wasn't meant that way. I love you, straight people! I totally want you to breed, provided you don't let the resultant kids kick the back of my seat during showings of R-rated movies after 11:00 p.m.! It's just, well, I have a slash bias when I'm reading fic, and so - you know, this isn't going to come out right, no matter what I say. Stopping now, while only my foot is in mouth.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I'm finding it increasingly hard to assemble gen sets. I'm sure, back in the days when Kirk/Spock and slash meant roughly the same thing, it was fairly easy to know if you were reading (or writing) slash. If there was the vaguest overtone of male homosexuality, there you go - slash.

It's a little tougher these days. We've got gay-in-canon characters and gay canons and gay pants all over the place. What do I call a story that makes a reference to Angel's past relationship with Spike? What do I call a story involving any of the Ultimate universes (apparent editorial slogan: "Stan Lee is dead. Bring on the gay!")? What am I supposed to call Beecher/Keller stories? No one is happier than I am that people are finally trying to put homosexuality where it belongs, squarely in the canon, but it makes it tough to classify stories.

So, for the record, let me explain what I am going to mean by these terms in the future. Only behind the cut, so people don't have to see it unless they enjoy mincing words. )

Best FF That Proves That a Really Good FF Writer Can Make Me Interested in Any Character, No Matter How Repellent or Dull That Person Is in the Canon. Damn It. Four Ways of Coming out of the Cold, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. X-Men. Storm has, in my opinion, not been well served by either the movies or the comic books; it's like no one knows what to do with her or how to make her entirely three-dimensional. Ironic, really, when you consider that a main theme of the whole universe is that mutants are people, too. Penknife does an excellent job of giving Storm some actual humanity, and I'm trying not to resent it. (I like disliking some characters, OK? Soon I'm going to like every damn character in the world. And then, if trends continue, the canon writers will feel obliged kill everyone off.) So, anyway, here we have four ways Storm's first encounter with Xavier could have happened. If Storm makes you gag, you should read this anyway, because it's also about Xavier, about who he is and who he could be. This story is an example of what I meant about tough-to-classify fic, because there's a hint of Xavier/Magneto in one of these vignettes, but, frankly, there was a hint of that in the canon, too. If it bothers you - assuming there are people left who still have problems with non-explicit m/m relationships - just remember their history of friendship and betrayal and hope and betrayal (and oh my god I never thought of the similarities between Xavier/Magneto and Beecher/Keller before, and I never want to again) and let it go at that.

Best FF That Makes Me Want to Dig up C.S. Lewis, a Man I Have Always Admired, So That I Can Punch Him in the Mouth. Although by This Time I'd Really Just Be Punching Him in the Mandible, Which Frankly Would Not Be Sufficient. The Queen in Exile, by LindaMarie, aka [livejournal.com profile] lm. The Chronicles of Narnia. This is one of those I-can't-warn-you-but-I-need-to situations, so let me say that "The Queen in Exile" is absolutely brutal, and it is not for people who are taking psychoactive medications, seeing visions, or having a bad day. But it is so worth reading, and so totally, totally right. Before I encountered Narnia fan fiction, my feelings about Lucy were just vaguely uncomfortable, but some great authors have showed me the light. Or, in this case, the darkness. Because how hard did you search for Narnia when you were little, when you half believed that you only had to open the right door to find a world that was made for bookish little kids like you? So how much harder would you look if you were Lucy, if you'd been there, grown up there, loved there, lived your life there, and then lost it? No, that's not quite right. Had it taken away from you by someone you worshiped and served and never once let down.

Best FF That Heals the Wounds Left by Painful Canon Without in Any Way Being Canon Repair. TV Camp, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Sports Night. What, you thought I could only rec SN slash? Well, you are so wrong, because this is gen, my friends. It is even cheerful gen. (I do have a lethally wonderful gen story for this fandom, too, but I didn't think I could handle re-reading it right after "The Queen in Exile." There's a limit to my ability to handle even the very best killing blow type stories.) This story makes me increasingly happy as I tentatively poke at the second season of Sports Night, because in that season Danny goes out on a ledge and over the edge. He's unstable in a way he just wasn't in the first season, in ways that weren't even suggested then; I think it's 'cause Sorkin needed to express his own instability, and he sure wasn't going to use Casey as a self-insertion. (But let's not get into that, or I'll be here all day.) This story lets me remember my favorite kind of Danny: the guy who listens and remembers and is just irresistibly charming, even to the self-absorbed, the neurotic, and the deliberately abrasive. As in, for example, Sam Donovan, who I also love because he is so damn competent. (The man could rule the world if he wanted to; really, the network types should count their blessings that all he wants to do is improve ratings, because if he wanted to eat their hearts, he would.) Here Sam, the world-conqueror, succumbs to Danny's water-on-stone method of making friends, and it is just really wonderful. I love it.

Best FF That Reminds Us That You Can Overcome Your History, Yes, but It's Far More Likely That You Won't. A Small Truce, by Marina Frants, aka [livejournal.com profile] marinarusalka. Harry Potter. I honestly cannot believe I didn't rec this story long, long ago; it's been in my database forever, and I truly love it, and I thought I'd recommended it, but it isn't marked, so - here. Go read this. Why? Well, first, because it starts like a typical slash story and then goes in an unexpected direction - a direction that is far more in keeping with the canon than it would have been had it been slash. (Which isn't to say I don't love that kind of slash, because I totally do; you know that. It's just that JKR has never let either Sirius or Snape overcome the past or let go of hatred, so continuing to fail to do it is highly in character for them.) I think of this story as Harry Potter for grown-ups, Harry Potter the way JKR might make it if she was writing for an adult audience. Which we all are. Or had better be, because the next set is, believe you me, taking us right back to smutland.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Canon repair is one of the most common and most irritating types of fan fiction. Why common? Well, canon creators seem to delight in breaking our hearts, hurting the characters and destroying the worlds we love. It's only natural to want to make it right, to fix the owie owie badness somehow. (Or, alternatively, bite the creators. Or, in many cases, both.) Why irritating? Because it doesn't work, is why. You have to dance with them what brung you, and that means you have to work within the canon instead of fighting it. Yes, you can write AUs, and if you're good then they will be, too, but we all know that a story in which Sirius miraculously turns out to be just pining for the fjords - and the Veil just teleports you to northern Norway (which some would argue is not all that far from the truth) - isn't an AU. It's a dream world. (A weird dream world.) Denial may be the third most popular fan sport, but it's fundamentally useless when it comes to fiction.

Except, of course, when it isn't. Because sometimes denial and fury and desperation produce works of phenomenal quality, stories so good, so perfect, so right, that I find myself cursing the canon writers for failing to think of this themselves and save us all this trouble.

That's what we have here. Repair work as it should be: better than the canon itself. Some of these are AUs. Others are interpolation or extrapolation built around the troublesome canon. But they all fix what I consider to be errors. (And of course we're using my own definition of canon errors; this is a supremely self-centered LJ, after all.)

The Best FF That Almost - Almost - Makes a Whole Wretched Season Worthwhile, Though I Imagine That I Might Feel Differently on That Point If I'd Actually Seen the Season in Question, as Opposed to Just Reading the Summaries with Ever-Increasing Horror: Poison, by Mandy, aka [livejournal.com profile] geneticallydead. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Chris Keller. OK, so we all know that season 6 of Oz was one big fan-fuck in a show full of fan-fucks, right? Some people have tried to deal with this by expunging the very memory from their minds. Others have regressed, fleeing to happier times in earlier seasons (and when you're defining the second season of Oz as a better place, you know you're in some kind of trouble). Mandy's taken a different approach; she twists the results of Keller's suicidal leap a bit, and suddenly we're back on the right path. Well, back on the true path; it's not like anything could be right and good and happy in Oz. But this comes as close as anything will, and it's satisfying on other levels, too; we get a really good look at what's going on in Keller's mind - a scary proposition, I'll grant you, but a worthwhile one - and we get to see Beecher using his brain and his will together for once.

Best FF in Which the Grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel Have the Same Effect on the Characters That They Do on Me, Namely a Strange Sense of Unreality, As Though I'd Been Transported to Las Vegas, and a Strong Desire to Be Elsewhere: The Memory of Hurts, by Sinead, aka [livejournal.com profile] smallbeer. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. It's not like Sports Night ever broke the way, for example, Oz or Homicide or Buffy did. It wasn't around long enough to deteriorate that badly. But the second season is harder to take than the first for a lot of reasons, most of which arose, I suspect, from Sorkin angst. (Hint to all TV writers out there: we use therapists to deal with our problems. We use television for entertainment. Try to keep the two separate, OK?) It's hard to explain the abrupt changes in Danny's personality from season one to season two, for example. And when you look at the way Casey and Danny behave right at the end of the show and compare it to the way they behave in the pilot, it's clear something has changed a lot. But we're never shown what that is, so it's jarring. Sinead fixes all that, and blends her story seamlessly with canon. (Note for sensitive Danny/Casey shippers: This story is definitely a season two story, but it does have a happy ending.)

Best FF That I Love Even Though Everyone I Know Who Has Read It Has a Different Opinion About What Happens in It (and Do Feel Free to Weigh in on That Point, Because - Surprise! - I Am Convinced I'm Right): What You Wish For, by [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat. Buffy the Vampire Slayer x Angel the Series, gen. This story is amazing because it fixes two major canon irritations (which isn't to say that there aren't lots left in the Whedonverse for other aspiring writers to address) - one for each show. And, in the process, it shows just how much better FF writers can do on occasion than, for example, Joss Whedon. In season four of Buffy, Giles and Xander get sort of lost - it's like the writers just couldn't think what to do with two handsome, strapping men who had lots of experience at fighting demons and bouncing back from personal trauma, even though that is the ideal resume in Buffy's world. And in season one, episode nine of Angel, Doyle dies. For no real reason. Just because the writers wanted to prove that they'd damn well kill whoever they wanted to kill. (Yeah, right. We believe that. Because they were so likely to kill off, say, Angel, right?) The problem of Xander's aimlessness is totally solved in this story. And even though Doyle doesn't actually live on in this fic, somehow it made me feel a whole lot better about his death.

Best FF Featuring a Title That Sums up Both the Story and the Canon Problem the Story Fixes. Plus I Just Really, Really Love the Title and I Wanted to Spend Some Extra Time Talking About It. Tepid Apocalypse, by Molly, aka [livejournal.com profile] molly36.* The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg/Jim Ellison. And here we have a series ender that just made no sense. Because, OK, I've never actually watched the series, but I know enough about the situation in "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg" to know that a) there were other and better ways of resolving it and b) the way they picked wouldn't actually work. So that's fairly irritating. Also, way to destroy the character of Blair and the relationship balance between Blair and Jim, folks. Just in general, this episode's plot says to me, "We needed a dramatic last episode, and after 20 minutes of vodka-ridden thought, this was the best idea we had on the table." So post-TSbyBS stories that make that concept work impress me - I mean, the fic author is doing way better than canon writers did, yeah? And "Tepid Apocalypse" also manages to find a new balance between Blair and Jim, repair the character damage the episode did, and just generally fix what went wrong when the fine writers of The Sentinel had whatever massive brainstroke they did. In other words, this is a textbook case of canon repair. Go, Molly.

* Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Sometimes it seems to me that the only thing worse than having a family would be not having one. This is, of course, only in reference to those families we don't choose, our families-of-origin. You know who I mean, right? The people you spent three years talking about in therapy? Good.

Because sometimes in fan fiction we get so focused on, um, one certain kind of relationship that we totally forget the other kinds, which are usually just as emotional and involved but, and let us all be grateful for this, not nearly as sexy.

Best FF That Shows Us There Can Be - Yes! - an Almost Normal Relationship in the Batworld: Fathers and Daughters, by David Hines, aka [livejournal.com profile] hradzka. Batclan, gen. I cried a lot the first time I read this. Unsurprisingly, that turns out to be something I brought to the mix. When I re-read the story a few weeks later, I realized it was brilliant and sweet and really not at all sad. And I do mean brilliant. David likes to show off in his fan fiction, I'm realizing; why else would he write a gen Batverse story about Jim Gordon (and there just is not enough Gordonfic, is there?) being paternal, and then toss in, apparently just to show he can, Batgirl? (Yes, I do see Batgirl as one of the toughest characters in the Batclan - toughest to know, toughest to write. I mean, it's sort of tough to find the voice of someone who spent a large part of her life mute. And that's just for starters - she's actually much more challenging than this would seem to suggest.) So David's a total show-off and I'd absolutely hate him for writing so well if I didn't secretly love him to pieces. Well, OK, not so secretly.

The Best FF That Reminds Us Just How Badly Attempts to Run Your Adult Child's Life Usually Turn Out: Grace, Paradoxically, by Laura Jacquez Valentine, aka [livejournal.com profile] jacquez*. The Sentinel, very mild Jim/Blair. We all know that Jim has mommy issues, but this is just about the best take I've ever read on them - on Grace, and why she left, and who she was, and who she became. Because Grace is just a plot point in most FF, but here she's a person, and while not entirely likable, she's definitely believable; this all just makes so much sense. And this story is from Grace's point of view, which just makes it that much more impressive. It's actually part of the Gone Native series (second from the top; there's no jump page link), but it can stand on its own, so jump right in. Additional inducement: this fic may also contain the strangest reason ever for Jim and Blair to get together. So, really, totally worth reading.

Best FF That Proves, Once and for All, That in a Really Difficult Situation There's Nothing Quite as Unhelpful as Parental Interference: Third Person, by [livejournal.com profile] julad. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Fraser, being Fraser, cannot have father issues like everyone else. He has to have the ghost of his dead father hanging around commenting on his father issues, usually via totally nonsensical stories about Buck Frobisher and that time on the DeWitt 10-Meter Ice Gap when they got their man by constructing a primitive turbine engine out of a sapling, goose grease, Buck's second-best hat, and four live wolverines. "And that's when I learned that it's important, no matter how much of a hurry you're in, to grab wolverines behind the temporomandibular joint, son..." And meanwhile Fraser is trying to live his life and, you know, maybe even construct a primitive turbine engine of his own. In short, Fraser has to do everyone in the world one better even at having annoying parent problems, but it's hard to envy him. It is, however, really easy to laugh at him. And then go all gooey over the way his friends - well, let's be honest and just say Kowalski - don't laugh at him. Or, in this story, strangle him.

Best FF That Shows, Yet Again, That You Can Be a Great Parent Even If You Aren't a Remotely Perfect One: The Medal, by Celli Lane, aka [livejournal.com profile] celli. Sports Night, mild Dan/Casey. There's a surprising number of family stories in this fandom, maybe because almost all the relationships are just so - so - familial. Or maybe it's because Aaron Sorkin has issues of his own that he works out through his characters. Anyway, this story gives us both sides of parenthood, as Casey tries to be a perfect father (but is actually a dorky, uptight, and loving father) and Danny remembers being a flawed son (while providing the cool, calm, and loving side of the parental equation). I also like this story because it caters to my, well, OTPish leanings in this fandom; here Casey and Danny have clearly been together, and happy, for a long time. And I, of course, totally believe that long-term happiness for those two can only come in the form of sex, followed by more sex, followed by a painless emergence from the closet and the acquisition of the top ratings slot. (Yes. In my dream world, I also have my own personal wombat, a button to press to bring world peace, and a patent on the cure for the common cold. It's a nice place to live, my head.)

* Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] mamadeb!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I used to call this category car sex, and I considered it a tribute to my younger, wilder days. And then I realized that there's so much more to getting around than just automobiles. So now it's about all the ways of moving from point A to point B, ideally stopping off to suck some cock somewhere along the way. (And it's, yes, still a tribute to my younger days, because that was my younger days. There's nothing quite as beautiful as leaving your teen years behind, is there?)

Best FF That Taught Me What GTO Stands for, Because I Honestly Did Not Know for the Longest Time, and I'm Ashamed of That, Yes, but This Theme Tends to Bring out the Shameful Confessions, and I'm Starting with Something Easy: Modes, by [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o. Due South, gen. Yes, you heard me. Gen. But this is the story that had to start this recs set, because it's all about transportation, and I'm not talking about the Australia thing, either. Is it any surprise that Ray Kowalski's life can be summed up through vehicles - taking this bus, driving this car, getting on that train? Kowalski's in motion, baby. And, even though this is gen, I think you'll like where he ends up. This is one of those stories that leaves me wanting more to the point where I go searching for stories that can serve as unofficial, unintentional, and totally spurious sequels. Which explains the next rec, in a way that will probably piss off both authors. Angering all sides is, after all, an honored fannish tradition.

Best FF That Makes Insomnia Something Sweet and Slashy, Instead of Pathetic and Irritating, Which, Trust Me, Is What It Actually Is: Stay, by Estrella, aka [livejournal.com profile] estrella30. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. Yes, two dS stories today, because I really don't irritate everyone enough with the obsessive Southiness (rhymes with mouthiness, and for a reason, people) as it is. And because I understand that there are people who go into stark raving withdrawal if their due South doesn't end with a Canadian shack, or actually, I understand that there is just one such person. Or, OK, three. But I fear those people, except for the one that is me. So, as a chaser to the excellent genish work of "Modes," we have the excellent and slightly more slashy "Stay." Because, you know, everyone stops moving sooner or later. And I think we all know that Kowalski stops in Canada, with snow and Fraser and sex, and if the sex doesn't exactly happen on the page here, well, I'm sure Estrella would've worked it in somewhere if she possibly could've, and I forgive her. Mostly.

Best FF That Almost Turns LAX into a Place You'd Like to Spend Some Time, as Opposed to the Suspected Portal Straight to Hell by Way of O'Hare That It Actually Is: Leaving on a Jet Plane, by [livejournal.com profile] musesfool. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz Osbourne/Xander Harris. This one is for everyone who has spent too much time in LAX, which, judging by the last time I went there, is everyone in the world. (And, I suspect, some people from other worlds, planes, and times. I swear there was an Anasazi trying to make a direct connection to Chaco Canyon in line behind me in Terminal One a few years back.) So it's no surprise that Oz and Xander would end up having a drink in one of the appalling non-service bars selling bad overpriced booze for your in-transit convenience; the only surprising thing is that the amazing, excellent, and wonderful kiss in this story isn't interrupted by 18 Sassofovic demons asking for donations to a spurious charity supposedly helping homeless impspawn back in their home dimension. (And the intercom - this is absolutely true - would then announce that giving money to con artists in strange nurse/nun hybrid outfits is totally optional. Because LA is the city of freedom, folks, and you can be cheated however you choose.)

Best FF That Brings Back Poignant Memories That, Embarrassingly Enough, Involve Both River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves: Idaho, by Punk, aka [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun. My Own Private Idaho, Mike Waters/Scott Favor, sort of. Well. This is definitely a kick in the gut from my past; in retrospect, I should've known from my inexplicable fondness for this movie - inexplicable because, you know, I like my endings to be happy, or at least tolerable - that I was destined for slash. And this story is more of the same, more of the killer pain and sadness that hits at the end of this movie. It left me all sniffly and muttering, "Like, I really wanna kiss you, man" in a choked tone of voice. And, my friends, when a movie starring Keanu Reeves makes you sniffly a decade and a half after it was released, you know a) that's a seriously sad movie b) it nailed you right on your then-undiscovered weaknesses or c) you should've stopped with the sex and drugs and angsty sadness a wee bit earlier. Or, in my case, all three.

Best FF That Will Make You Feel Like an Intellectual and a Respected Pillar of the Community Because You Only Read Slash: Junk Novels, by Punk, aka [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun, and Sabine, aka [livejournal.com profile] sabine101. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. And here we have the flip side of Punk; apparently she and Sabine, when united, form some kind of uberhumor goddess, and I for one am totally prepared to worship whatever altar the goddess decrees. I love this story with a passion both intense and strange - strange because there is no sex in it, with the exception of some vague references to het, and I think once you've read the story you'll agree that it's a good thing those references stayed vague. I mean, really, are Punk and Sabine telling the truth here? Do junk novels like this actually exist? Because if they do, well, I don't see how anyone can give us shit about reading quality smut online. At least we don't have mothers having sex with their son's best (underage) friend. Well, not in my fandoms, anyway, and if that happens anywhere in HP, no one tell me about it. A Mrs. Black/James Potter story would kill me, or at least make me return to my unfortunate black-wearing, cemetery-hanging, moody-whining teenage self, and really, death would be better than that.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I'm not exactly sure why gen is called gen. I mean, yes, I know it's short for "general," which I assume is, in turn, short for "general interest," because as we all know good stories are interesting to everyone, whereas smut is only interesting to a few dissolute perverts. It's just, you know, strange that, given that gen is of such general interest, so many writers seem to be writing exclusively for the perverts.

Or maybe it isn't so strange. Because, yes, it's tough to write sex, or at least tough to do so in a way that prevents your readers from falling to the floor either laughing (the strong and the brave) or out cold (weaker people such as myself), but it's even harder to write a story without sex in it. Without the smut, you've only got character, plot, dialog, and narrative to entertain your readers. And those are, you know, fairly challenging.

In other words, today I'm saluting those writers who managed to make me love a story without any shiny, happy smut. Be impressed with them. I am.

Best FF That Grabbed Me, Threw Me Against a Wall, and Bent Me to Its Nefarious Will. And Has Me Begging for More. Scars, Luck, and Slush, by [livejournal.com profile] katallison. Due South. I'm not sure these are intended to be a series, but to me they are and always will be; I think of it as the "Ray Vecchio Doesn't Live Here Anymore" series, but I'm sure that's just me. Series or not, they're thematically related and progressive. Plus I can't read one without reading all three and wishing desperately for the other ones, the stories I sort of sense around the edges of these three, which Kat should clearly buckle down and write immediately, even if I'm the only one that thinks those non-existent stories are there. These delusions of series-hood and additional stories to come pretty much forced me to rec these together. And even if you don't like Vecchio or you don't like gen or you don't read dS, you should read them. See, I got into this fandom via happy Kowalski/Fraser smut. (And, believe me, I have no complaints about that.) So to me, Vecchio was just this Italian guy that left, but still occasionally served as a FF plot point, especially in the angstier stories. In other words, he was a placeholder for Kowalski. These stories changed that, and they did that, oddly enough, by destroying the Real Ray Vecchio. Because in these, Vecchio's gone. And he's never coming back. Instead, there's this amalgam, this Raymondo Vangoustini person, who fits nowhere and is no one person. This quasi-series is fantastic fiction, fan or otherwise - perfect, biting, real.

Best FF That Fulfills the Craving for a Lost TV Series. And Yet Somehow Also Makes That Craving So, So Much Worse. Those Stories Plus, by Luna, aka [livejournal.com profile] tangleofthorns, and Jess, aka [livejournal.com profile] circusgirl**. Sports Night. My secret goal with this recs set is to give you all fiction-induced whiplash. And here's my first sudden sharp switch. Because this story is perfect, and yet perfect in a totally different way than the last rec. This story essentially is Sports Night. Seriously, the episodes are just like this, only with added amusing facial expressions and body language. And if you've watched a few episodes, you'll be able to supply those yourself when you read this. (Mandatory Pimping Note: so if you like this story, you should definitely see the show.) This is another story you can and should read even if you know nothing of the fandom or the canon; the joy of it is in the dialog, the banter, the relationships, and I think that all comes through even if you've never met the characters before. (Second Mandatory Pimping Note*: but, really, you should meet these characters. For one thing, I'm not going to stop recommending SN stories until you do.)

Best FF That Is Never Going to Function as a Recruiting Point for the Police Force. Daddy's Girl, by Shannon, and does anyone have a link for her? Homicide: Life on the Streets. (Warning: this contains disturbing content. A lot of it.) And it's another sharp, sharp turn into this story, which you should read despite the vague formatting problems, because this is the Questing Beast of FF: a rich, plotty, in-character piece of gen. I'd say it's a mystery, and it sort of is - there's dead bodies, there's detectives, there's evidence and clues and so on - but it also sort of isn't. It's fairly obvious from the start what happened in both cases, neither of which are genteel, body-in-the-library type mysteries. What isn't obvious is how the detectives are going to go from knowing what happened to being able to convince a jury of it. I don't know how well this story mimics the style of the show, but I do know that it mimics the way real-life murder cases go. There's recalcitrant witnesses, mistakes, mess, danger, and a lot of shouting. And, as in real life, the good guys can't make anything better, and they don't always win. This is yet another one that you can and should read whether you know the show or not. It's also a perfect explanation of why I prefer gen in this fandom; you couldn't add sex to this story. You just couldn't. It'd be sacrilege.

Best FF That Proves That Parents Who Think They Can Control Their Children Are Delusional. And That's True Even When That Child Hasn't Successfully Led a Double Life for Years and Doesn't Know More About Psychological Operations Than the Entire U.S. Military. Visit, by [livejournal.com profile] jamjar. Teen Titans. I'm putting this story last 'cause I want you to read it last; I like happy endings so much I want them even in this LJ. And if the foregoing grit got to you, well, this should cheer you right up, because it is basically the living definition of a woobie story - it's got comfort without hurt, hugs without kisses, and lots of fattening foods. So why I am recommending it? Well, OK, yes, it's partly because of my sad obsession with post-Robin Tim Drake, which I am now prepared to admit to in public. (Yes, a 12-step meeting is what comes next, except that I don't think there is a Tim Anonymous, and even if there is, I'm happy with my addiction, and I will fight to the death anyone who tries to take it from me.) But I'm mostly recommending this story because it makes a point I think some of the post-Robin fic is missing, namely that Jack Drake is in way over his head. Seriously. On the one hand, we have a father so clueless that he didn't notice the injuries, the personality changes, or even that his son no longer really lived in his house. On the other, we have Tim, who can fight crime and manipulate psychotic villains and heroes alike, and who is so analytical and intelligent that he makes Oracle look like she has ADHD. He used to have all the bad guys in the world as a focus for that brain and those skills. Now it's all going to be directed at his father. Who is going to cave like a house of cards and is never even going to know it. Good luck, Jack, and goodbye. It wasn't so nice knowing you, but I'm sure you'll be a much better person after your son is done with you.

-Footnote-

* And now this post meets the Procurator General's recommended daily allowance of pimping! Never say this LJ does not enhance the mental health and well-being of its readers.

** Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] tangleofthorns!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Secrets and lies, my friends, secrets and lies.

Best FF That Proves That, Well, Maybe You Can Go Home Again, but You Sure Can't Sleep There. Many Things Were Like Sleep, by [livejournal.com profile] someinstant. D.C. Universe, vaguely Tim Drake/Dick Grayson. Any set of stories about secrets and lies has to feature a Tim Drake story, and not just because I have this mildly sick love for him. See, Tim never especially enjoyed the secret aspect of being a hero (unlike, for example, Bruce Wayne, who clearly lives for it), but he built his life on lies anyway - hell, he built himself on lies. And now, in the canon, he's paying for it. (Paying, in my opinion, way too high a price, but that's another story.) Because, see, he thought he could just give up being Robin, put on the Tim suit, and go back to being a full-time teenager. Do I need to spell out why this isn't going to work? Didn't think so. I mean, there's some things even Tim can't do. So this is yet another Tim-jonesing-for-Robin story, except in this one, he's not the only one who wants Robin back. (Secret message to Tim: please, just test out of high school, move to Bludhaven with Nightwing, and give up on the whole normal thing. You aren't normal, and you never will be. And as for your parents - well, it's not like any other superhero has ever had a good relationship with his parents; did you think you'd be the first? It's time to face facts: you were born to fight crime. And fuck Dick Grayson.)

Best FF That Proves That a Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted. Especially If Alcohol Is Involved. Pool Series 1: Rack 'Em, by Emily Brunson, aka [livejournal.com profile] janissa11. Sports Night, Casey McCall-centric with a hint of Casey/Dan Rydell. (For further relationship developments, read the sequels, Running the Table and Going Penguin.) Casey has a secret. Actually, he's got a couple of them. And he's about to start coming clean. I don't know if every SN fan would buy this version of Casey, but I do. Because he's smart, yes, and geeky, and generally just a really good guy, but he also works that shtick a bit, if you see what I mean. When Dana said sometimes she didn't think Casey was very nice, I don't think she was kidding; he really does make good use of that lovable Midwestern farmboy bit, to the point where I keep expecting him to say "As you wish." I can totally see him keeping secrets, maybe even from Danny. But, hey, the truth will out.

Best FF That Proves That the Wish Is the Father of the Deed. Again, Especially If Alcohol Is Involved. Tell, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. Harry Potter, Marauders-era, Remus Lupin/assorted. And, again, we've got a guy that just had to make an appearance in a secrets and lies set, because even in a secrets-ridden canon, Lupin stands out. He's been keeping at least one important secret for most of his life. (And if you read the canon the way I do, let's just say that it's good he had the lycanthropy for practice.) The only person who's keeping more secrets than Lupin is Snape, and we can't give all our love to the snarky Potions master of ill repute. (No, we really can't. Yes, I am well aware of the ongoing fannish effort to do so, but - look, let's not talk about this, OK? Just trust me that you have to look at other masters occasionally.) So in this story, we get a look at some of Lupin's early secret-keeping work, and...hmmm. He's not doing so well. But, hey, we have adolescence so that we can work out the flaws in our personalities and approaches to life in a safe environment, right? Whoops. Late-breaking news: that sentence should be amended to read "We have adolescence so that we can work out the flaws in our personalities and approaches to life in an environment guaranteed to cause as much lasting damage and pain as possible." Sorry for the error, and I'll ask the research department to be more timely with their input in the future. Sure explains a lot about my teen years, though. Wow.

Best FF That Proves That Honesty May Not Always Be the Best Policy, but It Beats the Hell out of Denial: Like That, by Debra Fran Baker, aka [livejournal.com profile] mamadeb. Due South, Fraser-centric. And warning, sensitive dS fans: this is not what we might call a fic burgeoning with joyous resolution. (I will of course be providing an alternate story, because one of the aforementioned dS sensitives knows where I sleep.) It is, however, a really nice look at what keeping secrets can do to you, especially when the person you're keeping the secret from is yourself. Fraser has a remarkable complement of self-destructive traits; one of the more subtle ones (i.e., one of the ones that doesn't lead directly to him standing in front of gun-toting bad guys while wearing a helpful target and a sign reading, "Shoot me to win big") is his need to be what people expect him to be. Other people see a Mountie, so he tries to be the ideal Mountie. Sometimes, folks, you have to be what you want instead of what other people demand. (This message brought to you by the Department for Excellence in Cliched, Trite, and Meaningless Sayings. Be sure to pick up our newest free pamphlet: "Achieving Success Through Time-Worn Sporting Metaphors," available in the lobby.)

-Or-

Best FF That Proves That a Friend in Need Is Not Only a Friend Indeed, but Possibly Also a Friend with His Tongue in Your Mouth. Target, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. And at last, from that Queen of Certified Safe Alternate dS Stories, we have: a secrets-themed story that contains actual smut! And a reasonably happy ending! Yes, this is why all experienced slash readers have Speranza Shrines set up in our homes and gardens. (Tip of the day: burn coffee-scented incense before your morning prayers!) Mind you, this is not exactly a shiny happy story; it puts Fraser in the position of the kid standing alone at the edge of the playground, just waiting until the other kids get bored enough to torment him. But luckily - for all of us, actually - Fraser has Ray to protect him. And, eventually, to have sex with him in the back of a car.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
My fandoms like to watch. All of them. Because, actually, fan fiction is watching - we're peering into the parts of our characters' lives that the creators wouldn't show us. In other words, we're all voyeurs. But, as these stories show, we're in excellent company.

Warning: if you're already borderline paranoid, you'll probably want to skip these, unless you think you'd enjoy a future in which you cannot have sex without assuming that someone, somewhere, is watching.

Best FF That Teaches Us That Discourtesy Has Consequences, and That We Should Therefore Always Remember to Knock. Unless, of Course, We Wish to Make Difficult Yet Erotic Discoveries. Intruding, by [livejournal.com profile] helvirago. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Sort of. Those are the characters involved in this story, anyway. And what is the story? Well, certain psychologists say our lives are all stimulus and response. It's possible one of them wrote this story, although I really hope that [livejournal.com profile] helvirago is not B. F. Skinner in disguise, because that boy was creepy. But this is a story any behaviorist could love. Fraser is, um, stimulated. And then he responds. If there's a moral to this story besides "it only takes an extra minute to be courteous," it's, "you know, hotels put locks on both sides of connecting doors for a reason, folks." (Never say that slash hasn't given you words to live by.) This story will also help you to understand the importance of watching. Because, hey, it's the best way to learn, yup? And you want to learn, don't you? I'm sure you do. At least, you probably wouldn't mind learning what Ray Kowalski has to teach.

Best FF That Teaches Us That Homemade Pornography Should Be Handled Like Radioactive Waste: Reduced to a Mass of Charged Electrons or Buried in Secret Vaults Guaranteed to Hold for 15,000 Years: Masking Tape, by Cita Powers, and does anyone have a link for her? Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Danny experiences the joys of voyeurism once removed, and Casey learns the folly of leaving your amateur porn in the hands of others. They have a typical spat that is resolved with stubbornness and synonyms. In other words, this is Danny and Casey doing their thing, the thing that makes it impossible for anyone who sees the show to believe they aren't totally, totally in love. Take home lesson from this one (aside from the porn thing, which I really hope you already knew): those stupid things you did in college can bite you in the butt when you least expect it. So, you know, if you are in college right now, do your stupid things, but also do your best to burn the evidence, OK? And if you're already finished with college, well, your best shot is probably to start honing some humorous stories. Or I guess you could flee the country and start a new life under a stolen name. Whichever.

Best FF That Teaches Us the Importance of Checking for Surveillance Devices Before Beginning Any Private Activity, Although You Probably Want to Do That Secretly to Avoid Unfortunate and Totally Unnecessary Committal Hearings: Maybe There Are Secret Places, by Te, aka [livejournal.com profile] thete1. D.C. Universe (Batclan), Barbara Gordon (Oracle) and Bruce Wayne (Batman), but not exactly as a pairing. For those who can only do the slash thing, well - this isn't slash. It isn't het either, exactly. But there's descriptions of, you know, girly parts*. Caveat lectrix. So. The Bats are sort of, well, creepy, you know? They spend their nights flitting around dangerous cities in tight clothes and yet they are never arrested for prostitution. They fight crime with advanced technology, amazing skills, and more mental illness than any given state hospital for the criminally insane could possibly handle, and yet, to the best of our knowledge, they aren't even taking Prozac. It should be no surprise to anyone that they are as twisted in their time off as they are when they're swinging moodily through the rain, thinking, well, whatever thoughts it is that Batpersons think, which I frankly think we're all better off not knowing. So, yes, we've got our full complement of Bat-twistiness in this story. What's impressive, though, is that this is all about an under-fic'd character, Barbara Gordon. Here, we learn that she has what it takes to be truly Batty. And also that even Bruce's paranoia sometimes nods. The second take-home lesson here? That repression works for heroes, and it can work for you, too.

Best FF That Teaches Us That Privacy Isn't Much of a Feature of the Superhero Lifestyle. And, Also, That Mick Jagger Was Apparently Hot in Some Strange Alternate Universe. Steaming, by Jane St. Clair, aka [livejournal.com profile] 3jane. The Authority, Apollo/Midnighter, Jenny Sparks/Shen. Look, I love Charles Xavier as much as the next person (unless the next person is Magneto), but Jenny Sparks is a much more realistic leader. Xavier's principled. Jenny's pragmatic. And in this particular case, she's using her special abilities to, well, check on her people. And if those people happen to be doing things they'd rather keep private - well, let's just say that at this point I very much doubt that Jenny has any illusions about her behavior. She does it because she can. And that, my friends, is the difference between the way Marvel sees humans with special powers and the way I think they'd really be. And it's not because Jenny is evil - she is emphatically not. She's just, well, on a different plane, I think. And she's a good leader, to the extent that anyone could be for her crew. If that's not enough to make you love this story, there's also a lovely look at the private lives of Apollo and Midnighter, who really do seem to be the only happy people in their world sometimes. Here we have love without schmoop, sex without smut. It's an education, is what this story is. The second thing this story should teach you is probably to love Jane St. Clair as much as I do.

-Footnote-

* I did indeed say "girly parts." If you read my recent rant, you'll know there are an estimated 3.4 million worse words to use for "cunt," including every single word in the vocabulary of the average American 5-year-old. If you're wise, you'll take "girly parts" and like it, because the alternatives are, trust me on this, the kind of worse that leads to prolonged hospital stays and a great intimacy with neuroleptic pharmaceuticals. And do you really want to be the person twitching and moaning, "the cookie...the cookie...put it in the kitten..." on the rubber mattress? Thought not. Girly parts it is.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
...and, in this particular case, their lives are what our thoughts make it. In other words, it's time for another set of Alternate Universe stories.

Best FF That Shows Us That Hell Isn't Other People, It's Never Being Able to Get Away from Other People. And When You're Stuck in That Kind of Hell, the Last Thing You Need Is More Company: Opposites Attract, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. X-Men movies, Jean Gray/Scott Summers, Jean Gray/Logan. This is from the Powerswap Challenge. And it's - see, one of the things that's least forgivable about the canon (all varieties of it) is how they've handled Scott. He's got Ideal Marvel Superhero written all over him - the angst, and then the mutant power, and then the added angsty angst angst. He's got traumatic brain injury that keeps his power from turning off! That's fuel for the angst, people. That right there should have informed his entire character, and it's easy to believe that it did, that his inability to control his power is the reason he's so anal and controlled otherwise. But instead of showing us what it feels like to be trapped in a mutant body - a broken mutant body, with a power that doesn't work right - the canon gave us Cardboard Cyclops. Thank god for FF writers. Here, Penknife shows us how much worse Scott's situation could be. And, in the process, she shows us a truly agonizing triangle, where it's impossible to tell need from love and where no one has any choices at all. This story is astonishing on first read - and then you start to think about it, and it gets even better. This is a perfect example of the character-switched AU, the kind in which one or two things are changed about each character, so that we can better see the real core of each person. It just doesn't get better than this.

The Best FF That Shows Us the Surprising Similarities Between Television and a War Zone (Not, I'd Wager, a Surprise to Anyone Who Actually Works in the Entertainment Industry), and Also Shows Us That a War Zone Really Is Hell: April in Paris (The Hemingway Remix), by [livejournal.com profile] sabine101. Sports Night, Natalie/Jeremy, Natalie/Danny. (No, wait, give this a chance. Seriously. I know it's het, and I know Natalie/Danny is creepy and wrong. But, believe me, this time it works.) Sabine has taken the Sports Night folks to Paris. During WWII. Not ballsy enough for you? Look at the subtitle. She's written them as Hemingway characters. Just sit back for a second and let that wash over you. Now that you're convinced this is the weirdest thing you've ever heard, know this: she pulls it off. The characters are all recognizable, all right - they're who they've always been, and they fit right in to WWII Paris. That Sabine managed to write this is pretty much proof that nothing is impossible in the right hands. It also means I will be sick with envy every time I so much as see the name Sabine or the word Paris for the rest of my life. This, people, is the world-switched AU at its finest: the characters we know and love in a setting, universe, and style only one person could ever imagine, and even then only if she'd taken a recent blow to her head.

Best FF That Shows Us What Archaeologists Already Know: If Things Are Made Right, They Outlast the People Who Made Them. Surprising That This Applies to Superheroes, Isn't It? The Mystery of the Bat, by [livejournal.com profile] basingstoke. D. C. Universe, gen. One of the most important things about Batman - and, just in general, about a lot of the DC heroes - is that he's not super. He's a normal human. OK, bad choice of words there. How 'bout twisty, half-crazed, tormented, Original Gothic Brand human? In any case, he has no special powers, just a lot of skill and money and a brain that uses logic but not sense, if you get my drift. Among other things, that means that Batman can die a lot easier than, for example, any of the X-Men, or Superman, or Spiderman. But it also means that anyone just as fixated and obsessed and motivated - if there is any such person - can be Batman, because it's the suit that matters, not the man inside it. I love this AU, even though (warning, folks!) it's got character death in it, because it shows that. And it gives us all our, or rather, my, favorite people, just ever-so-slightly different. Dick's still in Gotham, Babs is in the batsuit, and Tim's the anal-retentive Fox (Yes, the Fox! Hee!). And, as usual, Dick has all the heart and Tim has all the answers. So here's a fantastic example of another kind of AU, the fate-switched: the characters are all here, but a few minor changes in their lives - including, in this case, a literal flip of a coin - and somehow everything is simultaneously the same and re-arranged.

Best FF That Shows Us That You Never Get Tired of the Classics, or of Ray and Fraser in a Sweaty Environment: Two Men in a Boat, or Adventures on the African Queen, by [livejournal.com profile] sihayab. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. The first reason I love this one is the idea of it. I mean, yes, when I saw the first half of the title I hoped it was going to be a take-off on Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, to Say Nothing of the Dog! (and I will love forever anyone who actually writes that: RayK, Fraser, RayV or Turnbull, and Diefenbaker on the Thames). But what it actually is - Fraser as Katherine Hepburn and RayK as Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen - is inspired lunacy, and I adore it even if Dief (renamed Mackenzie, for obvious reasons) is back in Canada. Because admit it: you can see Fraser as strait-laced, uptight missionary Hepburn, and you can also see Kowalski as a hyperactive version of Bogart. So here we have a great example of today's final kind of AU: the transplant, where the characters from one world are put into the story of another one. This one requires a very deft hand and very careful selection of the two worlds being blended, because the characters have to stay themselves and the story has to stay itself. I think you'll agree that Sihaya was fully up to the task.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The subtitle of today's entry should either be "Everything That Is Wrong with FF Today" or "Everything That Is Right with FF Today." Depending on, you know, your perspective. Because today I am exploring that very pure thing: pure, pure smut.

Yes, I'm talking about everyone's favorite maligned fan fiction genre: porn without plot. Or, if you prefer, plot? What plot? (I myself prefer the former, but everyone else on Earth appears to prefer the latter. Since this is an entirely me-centrist LJ, I'll be going with my own preference here.)

PWP is like free verse; anyone with a sixth-grade vocabulary can write it, but it takes real talent to write it well. And bad PWP, like bad poetry, is excruciating to read. There's a lot of bad PWP out there, I'm sorry to report, which has given rise to the common perception that PWP fan fiction is all awful. It isn't.

At least, it isn't for those of us sitting over in the pervert corner.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Batsuit Body Armor as a Sex Toy, and a Damn Fine One, Too. But Then, I Always Suspected as Much. Dodge-Town, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. D.C. Universe, Dick Grayson (Nightwing)/Tim Drake (Robin III). This is another sex pollen story; someday someone will explain to me why sex pollen works so very, very well. And someone else will explain why there aren't way more sex pollen stories than there already are. And then I will understand the mysteries of the universe. But what's fantastic about this particular sex pollen fic? I assume you mean aside from the inherent appeal of Nightwing on sex pollen, which is one of those things that requires no discussion; another one, of course, is Tim (Tim of the evening, beautiful Tim!) managing a sex-pollen'd Nightwing. Otherwise - well, did I mention the lovely, lovely sex? I mean, yes, goes without saying in PWP, but still - smut. Smut good! And this story has one of my very favorite morning-after sequences. All real-life mornings after should be like this one: full of excess carbohydrates and motorcycles and totally angst-free. (Join me, won't you, in Citizens for an Angst-Free Tomorrow? I'm the recording secretary of the Morning After Subcommittee, and we have excellent refreshments at all our meetings. They are chock full of Bad Carbs, but no one is allowed to feel guilty.)

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Pretty Much Every Aspect of Singing on Stage as a Sex Toy. And, Yes, Most Concerts Also Do That, but This FF Does It Better. Much, Much Better. Swim, by Sheila, aka [livejournal.com profile] mimesere. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz/Devon. Yes. And why not? Devon is a lead singer, people, and while I may not be a popslash reader, I know one thing: after a few years of publicly deep-throating a microphone, lead singers just naturally swing all possible ways. Or maybe that's only in my own overheated little world. But Devon must be a total slut, people; I mean, I suppose I'd be willing to entertain a rebuttal for the sake of inclusiveness, but I don't think you'll persuade me. (Opinions expressed here absolutely do represent those of the management of this specific LJ. Responsible opposing viewpoints - and especially irresponsible ones - may be submitted care of the comments section. They will not be edited for clarity, because coherence is over-rated. No warranty is expressed or implied. Read at your own risk. And for god's sake don't use a hair dryer while you're taking a bath; I'm not sure why this needs to be stated, but judging from my hair dryer's documentation, that's the very first use that springs to the average owner's mind.) I sort of forgot where I was going with this, which is the hidden danger of legal disclaimers, so you'll just have to explore this story on your own. But here's a hint: this night, Devon wants Oz on his knees, incoherent and begging. And when it comes to sex, Devon always gets what he wants. Note that this fic stops before the characters get down to the serious sex, and it still manages to be PWP. Be impressed, folks.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Denim as a Sex Toy. Really, It Should Be a Law: These Guys Are Only Allowed to Wear Jeans If They're Willing to Have Sex in Them. Sadistic Sons of Bitches in Jeans, by Caroline Baker, aka [livejournal.com profile] linabean, and Lizard, aka [livejournal.com profile] adannu. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall (because the world would end if it wasn't, no?). We join this sex scene already in progress, and if there was ever a good use of the in media res technique, this would be it. (Oh, sure, some people would point to various Star Wars movies as the, excuse me, stellar in media res examples. They clearly haven't read this fic. Or seen The Phantom Menace, especially the Love and Sand Sequence, which induces rashes and madness in all who behold it.) Because, really, when you eliminate all the detail about how they got together and how they got in bed and who said what to whom and when and why, what's left is the essence of smut. (Essence of Smut, by Calvin Klein. I want to see some print ads for that perfume, I tell you.) Though I think this story is an excellent specimen of the genus fan fiction, species PWP, it may actually be too smutty for those of you lot who just can't do without some redeeming value in your smut. If that's you, well, you have my sympathy. And you'll get an extra rec, too, to replace this one. The rest of you: enjoy.

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of Characters Played by Callum Keith Rennie as Sex Toys. Just the One Character, Actually, but I'm Told This Use Extends to Any of His Roles, Even the "Sexy Lump of Granite" One. Want, by [livejournal.com profile] estrella30. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. How do I love my Fraser? Let me count the ways, and let me start with all the various twisted or suppressed aspects of his personality. Number 34 on that sublist ("Fraser's Repressions: the First Thousand") is definitely the way he can be a prisoner of his own self-control, unable to leave the Mountie suit behind even when he's actually got on his much-worn relaxed-fit jeans and his over-washed blue flannel shirt. (No, I do not know for a fact that he has any such clothing. But that's how I picture him, 'cause he never quite belongs in the Big Red Gay Pants in my mind.) FF writers are, naturally, rather interested in helping him with the whole getting-out-of-the-Mountie-suit problem, possibly because we of the FF community are just such a caring bunch. Or maybe because we enjoy our lives more when Fraser is removing the Mountie suit, preferably slowly and with lascivious intent. Whichever. So, in any case, here we have a fine example of FF of the category PWP, subcategory Freeing Fraser. What's not to love?

Best FF That Demonstrates the Use of a Sponge Bath as a Sex Toy. Or, Actually, the Use of the British Military Man as a Sex Toy. Sharpe's Colonel, by [livejournal.com profile] cinzia. Sharpe books, Richard Sharpe/Jean Gudin. I'm doing this as a bonus story in honor of my own current attempt to get to grips with the Sharpe canon. (May I say, in passing, that these are bloody, bloody books? So bloody that you probably don't even want to read the rest of this parenthetical comment if you're squeamish. The first three pages of Sharpe's Tiger feature one explicit shooting death, complete with eviscerated rib, and several plague deaths, complete with aspirated vomit. And then there's the detailed descriptions of the behavior of vultures, complete with disgusting metaphor. War is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, and neither is this book.) Cinzia brings her customary class and elegance to this story, this time showing us that porn can lack plot and still have all the right moves - perfect characterization, spot-on dialog, narrative that blends with the canon's, and even a canon tie-in so good you sort of wonder if Cornwell didn't intend this all along. Clearly, Cinzia should be writing more PWP. And you should be reading what she's already written.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I am reading a great, great book, a book that has healed my soul. Said book is Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which has made me feel a lot better about caring more about apostrophe use and the Oxford comma than, for example, the environment. I'm assuming everyone out there has already read this book, but if you have somehow overlooked it - really, purchase it at once. Your joy will expand without limit, I promise you.

So, in tribute to this (grand, delightful, even orgasmic) book, I am offering a selection of fan fiction related to language or linguistics - fan fiction, in short, designed to appeal to the word nerd in all of us. (Because there is a word nerd in all of us, right? Of course there is. I cannot believe otherwise.)

Word nerds unite! You have nothing to lose but inappropriately-used punctuation! And your sanity, of course, but that was living on borrowed time anyway.

Best FF That Demonstrates That You Can Tell Pretty Much Everything About a Relationship, or for That Matter a Person, by Looking at Dictionary Use: Prolix, by Dira Sudis, aka [livejournal.com profile] dsudis. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. It was tough to choose just one language-themed story from this fandom, because this is one fandom that really gets the importance of word-related fan fiction. But, in the end, I had to go with this story, because it lives in my mind (and heart) at the intersection of my language bitchiness and my fan fiction love: the perfect blend, at least for me, of the things I hold dear in life. (Well, some of them; I do have loves and interests besides smut and English. I mean, yes, I'm pathetic, but no one is that pathetic.) Kowalski is expanding his vocabulary. Fraser is watching, and I don't mean just watching Kowalski's dictionary use. And, speaking of dictionaries, there is a detail of Fraser's history in this story that is so perfect, so exactly right, that I completely believe it; that detail has been written into canon in my brain. It just feels that true. Although, for the record, a good vocabulary is not the usual result of poor parenting, so no one should try that at home.

Best FF That Demonstrates That True Love Is Never Needing a Thesaurus: Two Words for the Same Thing, by Bastet, aka [livejournal.com profile] sweetvalleyslut. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Reason number 1,239 why you should love Sports Night: canon word nerds. Slashy canon word nerds! It's a dream come true, frankly: smart, funny men who have the perfect way with words and are so clearly in love that it's impossible not to hum "O Perfect Love" every time they smile at each other, or in fact have any kind of interaction. Here Danny and Casey demonstrate that there is nothing sexier than a person who has an extensive knowledge of synonyms and corrects other people during important conversations. (Because that is sexy, right?) Another amazing thing about this story: it's an all-dialog fic that works. Of course, if there was ever a TV show that was essentially all dialog, Sports Night was it, so it's not exactly shocking that this works, but it does show how well the author gets the Sorkin sound. (And there's also a bonus word nerd in the form of Jeremy, who asks the question about Quo Vadimus that has been bothering me ever since the first time I read the name. I love Jeremy. And not just because he makes everyone else on Earth look relatively un-nerdy, though that definitely helps.)

Best FF That Features Tim Simultaneously Acting Like an Adolescent Boy, an Adolescent Girl, a Member of the Batfamily, and Tim. But Mostly Tim.: Question of Semantics, by [livejournal.com profile] weirdnessmagnet. D.C. Universe, Tim Drake (Robin III)/Dick Grayson (Nightwing). The author describes this as "schmangst," and she's got that right, but this is so how the birdboys would do schmangst. Tim wants everyone to be as perfect and subtle as he is. Dick wants everyone to be as open and direct as he is. And, in the end, it all boils down to semantics. And, of course, the two of them work it out through hot sex, because, really, Tim and Dick were made for PWP. Word nerd bonus: Tim has special words he hates! That is just so perfectly, lovably Tim, and it makes me feel such a bond of sympathy with him that I'm actually sort of scared, because identification with a member of the Batclan is one of the seven warning signs of insanity. (They don't tell you this, but most psychologists have dumped the DSM, with all its revisions and finicky, ever-changing criteria, in favor of the simpler and more accurate Superheroic and Mutant Diagnostic Manual. Clinicians love it, and patients feel much more comfortable when their mental disorders are expressed in terms of Marvel v. D.C. v. independent. Demand the SMDM today!)

Best Use of a Tattoo in Fan Fiction Ever, and I Say This as Someone Who Likes Her Fan Fiction Inky: Alignment, by Pares, aka [livejournal.com profile] kormantic. The Dark Is Rising, Bran Davies/Will Stanton (with implied John Rowlands/Owen Davies, unless I've completely lost my mind). I'm not sure why this story appealed to my language geek as much as it did. (Actually, I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the last lines, and possibly also something to do with the fandom. I mean, the canon has the greatest imaginary book ever, so naturally this fandom would call to those of us with a literature kink.) In "Alignment," Will and Bran meet again, years after the events of Silver on the Tree, and they get together. Because, clearly, they were destined for each other. I will hear no argument on this point. Pares's view of Will and Bran is a little unusual, but in a good way. And then there's the tattoo, which is total genius; I need Bran to have this tattoo, and that's all there is to it. And did I mention the last lines? I see I did. But I'm mentioning them again, because, wow, that's just...so...I mean...they're just...let me start over. The last few lines, especially the last things Will and Bran say to each other, please my inner language geek to the point where she's dazed and incoherent. (Well, obviously.) Yeah, I could do with a lot more FF like this.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
This set is all about what we wear and what it says about us, or rather, what our beloved characters wear and what that says about them, because this is fandom, where we don't so much navel-gaze as gaze into the navels of entirely other people, many of whom are fictional. And we don't limit ourselves to just navels, either.

However, in a tribute to navel-gazing (the official sport of California!), I have decided to make this set all about me. Well, I'm making the titles all about me, and I'm selfishly picking stories from some of my favorite fandoms, including the ones y'all are insanely tired of, so - yeah. All about me. Go me!

Best FF That Implies That There Are People in This World Who Don't Appreciate Being Dragged to the Bedroom and Told to Take Their Clothes off Slowly. Which Is Certainly News to Me, and Unwelcome News at That. Adorned and the sequel Borealis, by Resonant, aka [livejournal.com profile] resonant8. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. This is one of the stories I read first in this fandom, and it ruined me for PWP for at least, oh, a week. Because this? Is maybe the ultimate Kowalski and Fraser character study. Every line tells us something important about one or both of the guys, and the sex would be unimportant if it wasn't just as revealing. Here we have the difference between the outer Fraser (god-Mountie, worshipped everywhere above 40 degrees north, known for cleanliness and smiling in the face of fate's cruelty) and the inner Fraser (I'll let Resonant surprise you). Here we also have the inner and outer Kowalski. And we get a nice long look at how they manage their appearances. And was not that just the worst story summary ever? It was. So, look, I cannot summarize this at all, obviously. But it's good - great, actually - and it's got a happy ending, provided you read the sequel. And it's got the ritual exchange of jewelery and other adornments analyzed in enough detail to spur three or four anthropology dissertations. Just read it, OK?

Best FF That Describes Wee Blair Sandburg as Little Orphan Annie, and, You Know, I Can Totally See It. And I Bet He'd Have Made That Godawful Movie Much More Interesting, Though I Don't Know That I Want to Hear Him Sing. Dork, by Francesca, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza, and Miriam Heddy, aka [livejournal.com profile] miriam_heddy. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. Yes, I did have to include a TS rec today, because some evil person linked me to the Sentinel mah jongg game, which is impossible and which never fails to give me a headache (itty bitty tiles featuring itty bitty pictures of Jim and Blair, including some that are nearly identical), but which I nonetheless cannot stop playing. I suspect subliminal mind-control, frankly. So, anyway, I've had TS on my mind a lot lately, because this game has little sound bites as well as little pictures and sometimes bigger pictures, and I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with those aspects of these guys that aren't related to a Chinese tile game. What better way to do that than to dress 'em up, or, rather, to let two very skilled authors dress 'em up? In this story, Blair cuts his hair (!) and gets in touch with his inner nebbish, and Jim loses his mind and gets in touch with his inner gay lust monster. I think we can all agree that that is a mighty appealing concept.

Best FF That Features Pink* Flip-Flops and Pink Baby Booties and Yet Is Not at All Girly and Does Not Feature Any Actual Babies. Sports Night, the Fandom of Internal Contradictions, How I Love Thee! Tin Men, by Punk, aka [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. The SN lovefest continues on this LJ with this story, which combines some of my favorite elements of the show: Danny's snitfests, Casey's cluelessness, waist-down sartorial weirdness (live pants-free anchoring is canon, folks, and I've seen the episode that proves it!), killer dialog, and fantastic supporting characters. "Tin Men" incorporates all that in a light-hearted, funny, frothy mixture, and it throws in an established Casey/Danny relationship, which is all the canon needed to make it perfect. (Well, I believe that said relationship is canon, but I still want them to come out and say it.) So, basically, this story is exactly like the show. I think I'm required by law (or at least by [livejournal.com profile] fanofall, Procurator-General and Sports Night Pimp Mama) to note that if you like this story you should probably try a few episodes of the show, because if you don't, babies the world over will develop debilitating earaches. But, hey, don't feel pressured or anything.

Best FF That Made Me Secretly and Pathetically Proud of My Results on the Which Teen Titan Are You? Quiz. I Was Tim. I Am Cool. Albeit In a Truly Geeky and Pitiable Way. Management Strategies, by [livejournal.com profile] weirdnessmagnet. Teen Titans, Tim Drake/Kon. (Can somebody remind me what Kon's last name is, please? I've got superhero-induced memory rot.) I hope it's a surprise to no one that Tim's not Robin anymore. If it is, um... Hey! Guess what? Tim's not Robin anymore! So, how will our anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive, multiple-persona-loving Boy Wonder cope now that he's out of spandex and kevlar forever? (Or, you know, until DC figures out what to do with him.) Weirdness Magnet has the answer, which turns out to be, "not as well as you'd expect given how well he handled the massive strangeness of the Batfamily, although still better than 85% of superheroes would." Tim's learning to be a Real Boy, and he's finding it just about as easy and pain-free as Pinocchio did, provided you're judging by the XXX-rated movie Pin-POKE-me-o: Pinocchio's Adventures on the Island of Dominatrix Toys (probably not a real movie). But, hey, there's an upside: he may not be a superhero right now, but he can still have sex with them. On the couch. In his father's house. See? He really is learning how to be a real teenager!

-Footnote-

* Apparently the flip-flops are not textually pink. But the author doesn't say what color they are, so I feel free to imagine that they are pink, and I intend to make full use of said freedom.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Number 87 on the list of Reasons Why I Love Fan Fiction: there's no kink so peculiar that you can't find fic to satisfy it. And I'm not just talking about sex kinks. This particular set is a tribute to two of my lesser non-sex kinks: numbers and vignette series. I don't need to tell you why numbers are good, do I? (Pretty. Shiny. Countable. Reassuring.) But maybe I do need to justify my love for the vignette series.

When well done, the vignette series has all the charm and allure of a drabble with all the meat and content of a much larger piece. (I realize I sound like I'm writing copy for a diet food. I can only beg your indulgence. And, hell, Indulgence is probably the name of the diet food.) The medium is flexible, absorbing, and...dammit, now I'm writing paper towel copy. Look, clearly I'm not up to much on the writing front today. So let's just move on to the fics.

Best FF That Proves Once and for All That There's Nothing Sexier Than Linguistic Terminology and Men Who Call Other Men 'Mother': Ten Things to Get Used to, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. You know, there's going to be a time - relatively soon, at this rate - when I'll have recommended every due South story Speranza has written. And there will be tears on that day, I tell you, and possibly rending of cloth. But until then, I will continue to urge everyone on Earth to read Speranza's entire oeuvre. (Ooo! I'm not just a hack ad writer today, apparently, but a pretentious one.) What else could I possibly do for a woman who has written not one but four stories with numbers in the title? "Ten" (yes, I'm back to the story now, so you can stop skimming) is a series of looks at Ray and Fraser after "Call of the Wild," nicely settled in an established relationship in the back of beyond. I love the little things about this story - the argument with Phil, Fraser's version of a proposal, the world's best use of the word "fuck." I also love the big things about this story, but I'll leave those for you to discover on your own.

Best FF That Appeals to the Latin Geek in All of Us. Because There Is a Latin Geek in All of Us, Right? Right?: Twelve Latin Phrases That Aren't Quo Vadimus, aka Some Ways It Didn't End, by [livejournal.com profile] scrunchy. Sports Night, assorted pairings and gen. In case you didn't know, Sports Night is off the air. ("Sports Night is dead. Long live Sports Night!") But, really, that doesn't mean it's gone - it's just been transmuted into a far more wonderful form: fandom. Don't believe me? The series only had one ending. This story alone offers twelve endings. Truly an embarras de richesses. And the whole fandom is like that, chock full of sporty goodness, so won't you join the SN Cult today? Um. Message from the people who have taken over my brain ends. Now that I have recovered full control of my hands, I must type a warning for those of you who like happy endings. Let's just say there are some of those here. Also some endings that feel like a real gut punch, including the second to the last one, which will probably bring back unpleasant memories for Americans and especially NYC residents. But no matter how you like your SN - slash, het, gen, happy, sad, mad - your needs will be met by this story, and in fact by the fandom as a whole. See? Living proof that when the canon dies, the fandom just gets better.

Best FF That Manages to Make Sirius' Death Almost Acceptable, and Definitely Way More Acceptable Than the Canon Ever Has: Thirteen Ways, by Sinope, aka [livejournal.com profile] eponis. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Severus Snape. So let me explain the acceptable death comment before you put out a hit on me. See, there's no reason for Sirius to die in the canon, and I'll never forgive JKR for killing him just 'cause she felt like killing. (What is she, a literary sociopath?) But if there's one thing I like about the whole unfortunate business, it's that the shock and pain and loss gave rise to some truly brilliant FF. And this is definitely brilliant FF, and I am not at all biased even though I was clearly born to love this story. There's numbers! There's vignettes! There's great poetry by a dead guy! Really, there's everything I need, and the fact that the pairing makes me, um, slightly wibbly - well, that's just something I'll have to get past, you know? And, actually, this is the way for this pairing to work; this is the fic that persuaded me it could work, and without any messy personality transplants, either. As the author says in her summary, "Lupin and Snape don't have the luxury of new beginnings." They have to work with what they have, and part of that means clearing away a few decades' worth of messy backstory. O perfect love? Um, no. Better than perfect love? Indubitably.

Best FF That Has Guaranteed I Will Never Order a Sandwich in Cleveland. Or, Potentially, Anywhere Else.: Thirty-Two Short Fics about Xander Harris, by [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen. I don't want to get all distracted by the sandwich thing, so I'll just get this out of the way first: Wrongest. Sandwich. Ever. (Fear not, [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie; there's no sex in this fic, just completely sex-free scary sandwiches. So you can read it. If you dare.) Now that I've gotten that out of the way - and believe me, it needed to be said - let's move on to the rest of this story. Because this story is brilliant. It isn't just that the author has captured the dialog and tone of the series so well, or that the character here really is Xander in all his glory, although those things are part of the overwhelmingly wonderful package. What's really amazing about this is that it's episode fic that really works. [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat has added little bits to a bunch of different episodes, and those little bits show us so much more of Xander that it's really kind of sad these scenes weren't in the canon. Not enough for you? Well, we also get a look at post-series Xander in Cleveland, dealing with the Other Hellmouth, proving that life goes on, and so do the undead and the demons and the, um, terrifying foodstuffs. Oh, and you don't need to have seen BtVS to read this story - I haven't seen a lot of the episodes mentioned here - but you do need to be fairly familiar with the story arcs and so on, or else some of the short fics won't make sense.

Best Special Bonus Item That Will Stick a Song in Your Head for All Eternity. Don't Say You Weren't Warned.: 88 Lines about 44 Characters, by Valeria. Homicide: Life on the Streets, metathingy. This is today's Mutant Bonus Rec. It isn't a vignette, and isn't actually fiction, but it definitely meets the numbers criterion of this theme with room to spare. If you don't recognize the origin of the title you probably shouldn't bother reading it. But for those of us who are familiar with The Nails' "88 Lines about 44 Women," and who don't mind having it on cerebral auto-repeat for the next nine days...well, let's just say this is the shortest, handiest character index I've ever seen. Plus, you know, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it, and how many fandom summaries can you say that about?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Or, in some cases, two merry boys and one merry girl. Yes, it's another round of threesome FF. And this time, instead of triangulation or triangles or other things that merely involve three people, I'm going back to my roots: true threesomes. Three people, one bed, and fewer complications than you'd expect. Provided you're already fairly cynical.

Best FF Touting the Value of Threesomes As Therapy, Though Whether It's Recreational Therapy or Occupational Therapy I Cannot Say: Every Which Ray, by Ineke Meyer, aka [livejournal.com profile] ineke. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser/Ray Vecchio. You know, this totally illustrates why I am not a fan fiction writer. If someone had suggested this pairing to me, I would've said, well, no. Or, OK, maybe, in the sense that I can sort of see how it would happen, but it'd take, like, a minimum of 20,000 words to explain everything before these three got into bed together. Turns out there's another solution: skip straight to the sex. See, the guys here are totally in character, believably in character, so I was happy to suspend my disbelief (in the case of this story, it's only appropriate that my disbelief was suspended from the ceiling in a vibrating electronic leather swing). I got to the end, said "wow" in appropriately awed tones, and started working on persuading my disbelief to return to me (it sort of got, um, enthralled with the vibrating swing, and we will in fact probably have to go into mediation now), and it was only then that I realized that this story has to stand alone. I can hardly imagine what would come after this sequence, except that I'm sort of worried that it involve RayK punching RayV in the mouth. I absolutely can't imagine what led up to this. And yet it works. It really works. And that, people, is why [livejournal.com profile] ineke is a way cool writer, albeit one apparently (and, one hopes, temporarily), sick of thinking about Fraser's cock, and I am merely a recommender, albeit one happy with her lot. (Happier, anyway, than I am with my disbelief at this moment.)

Best FF That Demonstrates That We Really Shouldn't Limit Ourselves Just to Baseball When It Comes to Sports Metaphors for Sex: Two-Player Game, by Bone, aka [livejournal.com profile] thisisbone. Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall/Stacey Kerr. This story illustrates both why Danny is a dangerous, dangerous friend for Casey, and why Casey totally needs him. Because Casey is, by default, the good boy, even when he wants to be bad. And Danny can persuade him to do anything. Well, OK, maybe that last part is only true in my sick little mind. But I - and I am so insanely proud of this, I can't even begin to tell you about it - I have just finished watching the scene involving Stacey Kerr in the actual show, thanks to the Queen of Fandom Pimps, [livejournal.com profile] fanofall, and I can completely believe that this is how it ended. (Side note, also gleaned from the same scene: Casey dances like a great big geek. Seriously. I will be nominating him for lifetime membership in the Dances Like Gits society at our next annual meeting.) Actually, I'm willing to make an argument that this is how the series finale should've gone. Although I understand the network might've had something to say about that.

Best FF That Gives Us Another Metaphor for Arwen's Choice to Be Human. And I for One Think This Is Way Better Than the Whole Book-Dropping Scene, Which Was, Face It, Pretty Lame.: In the Silent Forest Listening, by Cathain, aka [livejournal.com profile] casapazzo. Lord of the Rings, Arwen/Aragorn/Boromir. Aragorn/Boromir writers often neglect the whole Arwen thing in favor of the hot gay sex. And, hey, I'm all for hot gay sex, but that doesn't mean you get to ignore the pre-existing canon relationship. My favorite way of coping with this builds on Arwen's elvishness; when you live forever, how does some minor mortal need really bother you? It's not like it's going to last. This story, though, goes the other direction, and turns out that totally works, too. Here, Arwen's showing her human side, being insecure and just the weest bit blindsided. She's got an answer to her problems, too - and it is just such a human one; she going to hop into bed - well, OK, hop into a forest glade, but that doesn't have the same ring - with her betrothed and his boyfriend. Hey, I'm sure the Relationship Knowledge Base documents this solution somewhere.

Best FF That Shows Us That Threesomes Can Resolve Leftover Issues from Your School Career and Force You to Get Your Life on Track Again. Yay Threesomes, the Cure for Every Ill!: Sodomite, by [livejournal.com profile] ivyblossom. Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Cho Chang/Draco Malfoy. Yeah, you read that right. For the record, this is an aged-up fic; they're all over 18, so no squickishness there. Also for the record, this story is unbeta'd, and it does show, mostly in typos and spellchecker errors; my fellow pedants and grammar bitches are duly warned. But you know? It's worth it. It's worth it because of the characterizations, first. I mean, one of the great things about HP is that there are so many possible interpretations of every character. I can see Harry turning out this way, going passive and aimless when the Big Bad is defeated - I mean, really, how does advancing up the ol' career ladder matter when you spent your entire adolescence saving the world more often than you changed your socks? And wars do change people, especially those on the losing side, so Draco's going to be different, and I can see the potential in him to go this way. And Cho? I'm totally biased, because I think I knew this Cho, but still. I love what [livejournal.com profile] ivyblossom has done with her here. (Yes, I know, I sound like I'm a character decorator: "Oh, honey, I just love what you've done with her motivations - so neo-Edwardian! And look at this marvelous values treatment! Tres slut-chic, darling, perfect.") So, to sum: go for the threesome of threesomes. Stay for the characterization. And, you know, while you're there, you might as well admire the threesomes again.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(Note: my apologies for the whole two-posts-in-one-day thing. I was in the mood, and I'd had both of these entries kicking around for a while and wanted them done. Plus, it's not like I'm usually guilty of anything even approximating regular posting, let alone flist spamming, so I'm thinking I can be forgiven this once.)

I have a special weakness for fill-in-the-blanks fic. This probably started in my misspent youth, when I spent a lot of time bitterly resenting books that ended too soon or didn't tell the whole story or left out the first part. (Thinking back on it, I was apparently a FF reader born, not made.) The only book I ever felt really covered everything sufficiently was David Copperfield, but in that case, what was mostly covered was whining. (Memo to David: Life sucks, yes, we know, especially when Dickens has hold of you. Get over yourself. You could be wearing a decaying wedding dress, you know.)

So I love those fan fiction authors that apparently share my need to get the whole story, and when getting it is impossible, to make it up. Go obsessives! (Because, hey, isn't that what fandom is really all about?)

Best FF That Shows Us What Mountie Training Is Really Good for*: Instilling Sufficient Poise to Watch Your Adolescent Fuck-Buddy Interact with Your Current Lover Without a Single Flinch: Passion, by Speranza, aka [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza. Due South, Benton Fraser/assorted, but I promise a Certain Person that it ends as it should, with all due (*snerk*) pairing correctness. I think we can agree that it's pretty much canon that Fraser's life has been a) sucky and b) remarkably loveless. But it takes a [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza to show us just how much that hurts. I love the little things in this - 12-year-old Ben's fury with himself over his inability to talk to his father, or 38-year-old Ben's fury with himself when he once again gets overwhelmed by passion. (Overwhelmed by Passion, by Roan Strober, from Harlequin: when young, cultured Cordelia Markham's ship founders at sea, she accepts rescue from the least-likely source - the dread pirate Bartholomew Bradley. He's a bad, bad man, but he's all man. Soon, she'll be...overwhelmed by passion!) Special added bonus for readers (of "Passion," not Overwhelmed by Passion, which does not exist but which I confidently predict contains no bonuses at all aside from a euphemism-filled heterosexual sex scene on page 79): the brilliant original characters in this story. Think OC = disaster? Doesn't. Here's proof.

Best FF That Shows the Hidden Horror of American Family Holidays Better Than 3 Million Student Films (or Ang Lee Films, for That Matter) Ever Could: Triskaideka: A Door Closing, by Luna, aka Violet, aka [livejournal.com profile] tangleofthorns. Homicide: Life on the Streets. Warning: this story is implicitly but extremely disturbing. Do not read if you are easily disturbed. By anything at all. And, yes, I do mean implicitly disturbing - there's nothing stated, but what isn't stated is so awful it's...well, I wish I could say beyond imagining, but the truth is it's all too easy to imagine. That's the problem. This story is about 13-year-old Tim Bayliss having a Magical Family Thanksgiving (tm), and I love the way Luna manages to overlay the sweet, wholesome images of this Great American Holiday (tm) with such horror. ([livejournal.com profile] shellmidwife or anyone else who watched the TV show - is what Luna's implying here canon? Did this really happen to him?) "A Door Closing" is part of Luna's "Triskaideka" series, and I love this series concept. (I also love the series, of course.) I want to get a look at the 13-year-old version of every single character in every single one of my fandoms (excepting of course those in which the canon shows us the characters at 13), and I want it now, and I'm going to spend a lot of today whining because I can't have it. (Come on, people. Tell me you don't want to read about 13-year-old Casey McCall watching a baseball game by himself, announcing it under his breath, occasionally trying out 18 different inflections to get that one perfect one, or 13-year-old Ray Kowalski learning to tune a carburetor and failing to have a conversation with his father, or anything involving Midshipman Aubrey learning the, um, ropes, or freshman Danny Ocean hiding a smile while conning the senior jocks who thought they were going to kick his ass, or 13-year-old Logan listening to the declaration of WWII on the radio in some cruddy shack, wondering how many years it'll be 'til he can join up, or...look, stopping now. But you see the temptation, don't you? Tell me I'm not alone in this.)

Best FF That Shows That All's Fair When You're Helping War with Her Love Problems: Holiday in Spain, by Cimorene, aka [livejournal.com profile] minkhollow. Good Omens, implied War/Pestilence. Pollution learns a secret (this story is from [livejournal.com profile] therealjae's Secrets Challenge) and gives War some career advice. And, look, for personal reasons I am not typically fond of light-hearted stories on this particular topic (not spelled out because a) I want you guys to read the story, and you won't if I tell you and b) it'll spoil it but good), but Cimorene makes it work here, somehow. (Originally mistyped as "somewow," which seems like a - I don't want to say Freudian - Jungian slip?) Possibly because this story just sounds right. The little details help - the wine, Pollution's psychobabble (because psychobabble is pollution, people), the setting. I just really like this, and if that makes me wrong...no, wait. This is my LJ. I like this story, and that makes it right. (Yes, those years of assertiveness training have finally paid a dividend! My parents will be delighted.)

Best FF That Shows Us That Some Traits Persist Right Through Surgical Torture and Mind-Wiping, Leaving Me Wish I Was an Apollo-Type Rather Than a Midnighter-Type (and If That Doesn't Cry out for an Internet Personality Quiz to Determine Your Superhero Type, I Don't Know What Could): The Waiting Room, by Andraste, aka [livejournal.com profile] andrastewhite. The Authority, Apollo/Midnighter. I love this look at who they were before they wore Spandex and capes (well, before they wore them all the time) and had only one name each. In particular, I believe in this look at the man-who-became-Apollo; the man is clearly the father of the superhero, in this case. And I love this line from Midnighter, who can't remember much but sure can deduce based on what he does remember: "Clearly he was a moron in his former life." Normally I don't quote from stories I'm recommending, but I had to quote that, because, really - that's what I'd conclude if I had to judge who I used to be entirely from, well, any of my memories. (Which, um, suggests that I am a moron in my current life, so not the most felicitous of thoughts there. Moving on.)

Best FF That Shows Us That the Best Way to Vacation in Spain is to Visit France. And, One Assumes, Vice Versa.: Euskadi Six Hour, by Sabine, aka [livejournal.com profile] sabine101. Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall. (Warning, because a Certain Person has proven to be even more ending-sensitive with Sports Night than with due South: you couldn't exactly call this a happy ending, though I choose to believe that there's an unwritten sequel that is set after the canon that has them work it all out in Spain at the Tour de France.) (Second Warning: this contains infidelity. It didn't trigger my fidelity issues, mostly because I consider that Casey only has to be faithful to Danny, but it could trigger yours. You know, if you have them.) I'm offering a bonus story today for several reasons. First, I am obligated by my new religion to include an SN fic in each set for at least the next month, but I'm feeling pretty guilty about it. Second, I really, really hope that people took my warning about "Triskaideka: A Door Closing" seriously and didn't read it if there was any chance it would bother them, so I'm offering this story as a substitute. Third, there's just too many good history stories out there to limit myself to four. Justifications end now. This story gives us a look at Casey, already grown up, pretty much the Casey we know, but a Casey without Danny, which turns out to be a sad thing. We also get to meet a different flavor of Danny - a Danny who is overage but not really grown up, a Danny who is, at least on the surface, just like most college guys. And yet when the two of them get together, they instantly become the single-word DannyandCasey of Sports Night fame (vaguely intoxicated edition). It's fun. At least while they're still in France.

-Footnote-

* Well, yes, Mountie training is good for that, too. But I figured that went without saying in the dS fandom.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(Note on the title: I flirted briefly with "kiss me and be quiet" as a title for this post, but it just seemed so right to use Marlowe. In fact, I may use Marlowe as often as possible in the near future; he's perfect for the Slashies, and he'll make such a lovely change from Shakespeare and The Bible.)

Today, we'll look at kissing. And not just kissing on the road to something else; this is just kissing, only kissing, nothing but kissing. Sounds dull, you say? Look. Do you remember when kissing was new and strange and weird and yet totally fascinating and you could spend a whole afternoon doing nothing else? Think of these stories as a way of revisiting those long-lost days.

Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss, yes. But sometimes it's a hell of a lot more. Wondering when or how or why? Read on.

Best FF That Explains Sexuality in Terms of Writing Skill. Oh, Wait, That's What Most FF Does, Isn't It?: A Better Writer for It, by Anna-Maria Jennings (sorry, but her front page doesn't work, at least for me, so that's the best link I've got for her - does anyone know if she has a LJ?). Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall. I figured I might just as well get the now-obligatory SN story out of the way first. But, actually, this is a fascinating story. For one thing, it's one of the longer pieces I've read built around just a kiss (well, OK, two kisses); it's divided into two parts, so be sure to click 'next' at the bottom of the page. For another, this is unusual for the fandom. In SN canon, it seems to me that Casey and Danny need each other, and need each other equally. Oh, yeah, on a given bad day or during a given bad experience one may need the other a lot more, but overall, it balances. And that, I think, is one of the things that makes their relationship successful (and so, so slashable). So it's sort of unfortunate that in many SN stories the need is all one way - usually, but not always, Danny needing Casey. This fic isn't like that; in fact, I'd argue that the major point of this story is Danny realizing just how mutual their need really is. So, you know, insanely excessive analysis there, but my point is: good story. Read it. And if the analysis didn't convince you, read it because it contains one of my favorite non-humorous lines ever from any fic.

Best FF That Makes Me Say, "Hey, Slashfen, They're Playing Our Song": Undercover, by Halrloprillalar, aka [livejournal.com profile] prillalar. Gundam Wing, Duo/Heero. See, now, this is why I loved the Week of Boy Kissage; it gave us lots of stories outside the usual fandoms and outside the usual patterns of FF. Here we have the classic Gay Defense Maneuver, only things don't turn out quite the way they usually do. (May I say here and now that I'd pay good money to see a Hollywood movie turn out this way after two "straight" men pull the Gay Defense?) And, see, this story has everything I'm learning to love about Gundam Wing FF - a repressed, manly (yes, manly, even though he's drawn like a transsexual cat), uberhero Heero who just cries out to be put in uncomfortable, embarrassing, or unmanly situations, and a boundy, gleeful, amusing Duo who apparently lives to do just that. Gundam Wing fic: because we're laughing with Duo. And at Heero.

Best FF That Demonstrates That Chicago Is Where One Goes to Have Dramatic Insights into One's Life. Does This Explain O'Hare? Can Anything Explain O'Hare?: The Outline of a Circle, by [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser, Ray Vecchio/Stella Kowalski. This is, again, an unusual story - maybe kissing-only stories just tend to deviate from the norm. (Although in all honesty I must admit that there is another sex act here, but it's, shall we say, solitary. And Fraser treats jerking off more or less like brushing his teeth - something that must be done, and done properly, for reasons of hygiene. But that's no reason to enjoy it or anything.) What's so unusual about this story? Well, Fraser and Ray spend most of the story apart, Fraser in Chicago and Ray in Canada. That's not exactly normal. And we only get to see Fraser's perspective; we have to trust him to know what's going on in the duet, because we never hear from Ray. And you'll have to admit that a quiet Kowalski has the value of scarcity. And then there's the ending. Which you'll just have to read the story to see.

Best FF That Shows Us the Aphrodisiac Nature of Mud and Puddles: September Song, by Natalka. The Dark Is Rising, Will/Bran. (This fic is part of a series; you can find the other stories at the link for the author, above. I couldn't find a better link for her.) I think those of us who have read the stories will all agree that if Will and Bran are going to kiss, this is where they'd have to do it. Everything else important in their shared lives happens here. Take careful note of the time setting here, because when I first read this I thought they were younger than they are. It's actually kind of nice to see Will, who seemed to spend his childhood going for the title "Oldest Person in Any Given Room, and That Includes Rooms in Nursing Homes," acting like a boy here. (I almost wrote "real boy," but it gave me this horrible Will-Pinocchio hybrid image. And no one is to take that as a crossover plot bunny. Eeeww.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(Note on the title of this entry: am I the only person continually surprised by the massive slashiness and sexiness of the Psalms and the Songs of Solomon? See, I didn't really have any exposure to The Bible in my youth - I mean, until fairly recently, I thought Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were brothers - so it's coming as something of a surprise to me just how profoundly sexual certain parts of this book are. And that title? Direct biblical quote. Someone explain to me again that this is a religious document, because I think I'm missing the point.)

So. I was going to do an exceptionally gloomy entry on gen. I got it written and everything, and then I looked at it and realized it was depressing the hell out of me, and I was just writing the story summaries. I decided I couldn't, in good conscience, post something that grim. The gen entry is tabled until I can un-gloomy it a bit, and in the meantime, well...

When in danger, dark, or doubt, turn to that perennial source of buoyant joy: the drunkfic. Slash has made me a serious fan of drunkenness, albeit only on the part of fictional characters; now let it make a believer out of you.

Best FF That Dragged Me into a New Fandom, Slammed the Door Behind Me, Locked It, and Then Did Something Shockingly NC-17 with the Key: Djibouti, by Caroline Baker, aka [livejournal.com profile] linabean, and Fox, aka [livejournal.com profile] darthfox*. Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall. This, folks, is a great story. And here's how I know it's a great story: I read this thing giggling like a maniac. And then it got to the sex part, and I was irritated. Me! The pervert! The big ol' fan of smut! Irritated because Danny and Casey were having sex, because I was afraid they'd stop with the hysterical banter. Turns out, though, that when these guys are in the talented hands of Caroline Baker and Fox sex is no barrier to wittiness, and given the sex act most discussed in this story, that's damned impressive. Anyway, after I finished this story (and finished laughing), I realized that I couldn't even pretend any longer that I was not in the Sports Night fandom. Because I would go a long, long way, at least in the electronic sense, for FF with dialog this damn good.

Best FF Featuring Creative Use of Semaphore Interpretation Skills: Once Again, in French, by Cara Chapel, who I suspect is also [livejournal.com profile] cara_chapel, though I would really appreciate some confirmation on that. Due South, Ray Vecchio/Renfield Turnbull. Yes, you read that pairing right. I spent several minutes frozen in front of my computer after I saw that, worrying that perhaps I was having an oddly lifelike hallucination, or that I had lost my mind. After a bit, I opened my eyes, inspected the pairing again, and realized it was Cara Chapel who'd lost her mind, not me, so that's good news. But here's the thing: I like Turnbull. (Some may argue that this is proof of insanity right there. They would be big ol' party-poopers.) Admittedly, this fondness is based only on his inconsistent portrayal in FF, but still. I like him. I'm always happy when he gets some, be it sex, respect, or fun, because he seems sorely in need of all three. Well, here he gets a kiss, at any rate, and at least some fun, and it's cute and sweet and a little giggly - just like Turnbull would be drunk, really - and, honestly, I'd read a whole series involving this pairing.

Best FF That Demonstrates, Yet Again, That a Drunken Jack Aubrey Is a Force of Nature, If Not Actually an Act of God: The Best Men, by [livejournal.com profile] gritkitty. Master & Commander books, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey. Yes, this could just as easily be read by those who have only seen the movie, but I specify M&C books for several reasons. The best one is this: if you like this story, you might as well buy the entire series, because you'll also like the canon. Subtract half of the fondling and all of the sex from this fic and you've got a scene that could be pasted into a half-dozen of the novels. And, frankly, that just makes me swoon. I love it when FF writers capture some essential element of M&C, be it voice, character, pacing, whatever. And I love that M&C is already so slashy that, really, it's hard to believe there wasn't something like this in one of the books.

Best FF Featuring Mention of a Dust Vent and Comparisons to the Cleaning Thereof: Theory and Practice, by Halrloprillalar, aka [livejournal.com profile] prillalar. Star Wars, Luke Skywalker/Biggs Darklighter, because turns out he does have a second name, at least according to [livejournal.com profile] penknife, and I think we can all agree that said second name is awful. This is a gentle little kissing fic that I love because I believe in my heart that Luke Skywalker would suck at kissing, and when you read this story you'll understand that I chose the word 'suck' very carefully. I can hear whiny Episode IV Luke in this story, and it makes me sort of nostalgic for the days when I watched Star Wars whenever I was sick. (I now watch Fellowship of the Rings.) When you're getting all dreamy-eyed and sighing over whining, you know that either you've seen the canon too many damn times, or the canon has disintegrated to such an extent that an all-whining, all-pouting movie would now be cause for the deepest gratitude. And in this case it turns out that both are true. So go read "Theory and Practice," and remember that there were days, now gone beyond recall, when George Lucas did not suck at making movies even more than Luke sucks at kissing.

* Thanks for the info, [livejournal.com profile] darthrami!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Kink is one of those mysterious things that is defined differently by each person. Person A may believe that spanking is the very essence of the perverse, while Person B believes that spanking is an essential component of any sexual act more involved than hugging. (Real problems can occur when Person A and Person B get into bed together.) That makes it tough to put together a set of kinky fan fiction, especially since my own personal definition of kink is - well, let's just say potentially quite different from other people's. So I've composed this set from stories defined as kinky by their authors, or by a third party - in other words, I filed it under "kink" if someone posted it or linked to it with a kink warning label.

Read on. Because, really, can't we all use more kink in our lives?

Best FF That Leaves Me Seriously Confused about Its Title: Vibe, by [livejournal.com profile] shayheyred. Due South, Ray Kowalski/OMC, Ray Kowalski/Stella. Yes, I can hear the horrified gasps of the RayK/Fraser fans even now. Look, read it, OK? It's set way back in time, and it's all about the interesting effect Steve McQueen had on Ray. (Was Steve McQueen that popular back in the day, or is it just that Ray mentions McQueen at some point in the canon? Because I could actually do a whole noms set just on stories involving Ray Kowalski and Steve McQueen.) And it's light, and more or less cheery, and short, so even K/F 'shippers should be able to read this with ease. But if you can't, yes, there will be an alternate story at the end. I'm not sure of the title because of the way this was posted to [livejournal.com profile] ds_flashfiction; it could also be called "Kink," or in fact "Ray Gets Down With Harley." Clarification would be appreciated.

Best FF That Almost Made Me Like Women's Shoes, Even Though I Hate All Shoes with a Great and Lasting Passion, and Actually Made Me Vaguely Wish My Best Beloved Would Give Me a Gift of Shoes, Even Though Normally I Would Take That As a Grave Insult: Not Kinky, Per Se, by Caroline Baker, aka [livejournal.com profile] linabean. Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall. So. Danny has an interest in women's shoes, which Caroline Baker claims is canon (and you know what? I believe her, because it fits right in with everything else that's canon), and Casey has a tie kink, which I bet makes his career choice both obvious and difficult. (Although at least he has the desk in front of him in case of major, um, lapses while on air.) Clearly these guys were meant to be together, and I don't want to hear any argument on that score - they even have complementary kinks. In this story, Casey is getting his apartment redone, and Danny has some interesting commentary on previous times Casey has stayed with him, and, well, it's the happy kind of SN fic. Do you need to know more?

Best FF Containing the Phrase "Fuck Pig," Which Phrase Is Actually Probably Banned by Several Proposed Laws Currently Undergoing Congressional Scrutiny: Throwback, by Valentin, and if she has a LJ, I would love to hear about it. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. It isn't as though I would want a law banning the phrase "fuck pig" to pass. I'd think there was something seriously wrong with the Senators and Representatives from my state if they supported such legislation. But there's also this: the one time someone used the phrase on me during sex (yes, really), I fell out of bed laughing. (Well, it was one of those narrow college dorm room beds; any abrupt movement led inevitably to the floor. And bruising.) So I view "fuck pig" as an essentially unsexy and humorous phrase. Somehow, thought, this story manages to transcend the use of both "fuck pig" and "piggy," which is impressive enough that it would deserve a nomination even if the rest of it sucked, which it does not. Be aware, though, that if you have serious problems with non-con, the first part of this could be unpleasant for you. (If it bothers you, scan to the end. I think you'll feel better.) You know what? I'm going to throw in an alternate story for this one, too, so people who don't want to read a vaguely non-connish story involving fuck pigs don't have to. (Though, really, I don't think you'll be sorry if you do.)

Best FF That Suggests a Fascinating Alternative to All Those Team-Building Management Seminars: Wally West and the Crack of Doom, by Sarah T., aka [livejournal.com profile] harriet_spy. Justice League, I think, though the DCU would be much easier for dilettante fans if they didn't use the same characters over and over, just at different formative periods in their lives, in every damn series. Flash/Superman, Flash/Batman. (He needs only one more *man superhero to qualify for a set of steak knives! I suggest Spiderman, though other people may not agree.) The odd part is that Sarah says this is canon, and if that's true, I can only think that slashers have taken over the asylum. Which would actually explain a lot of the recent output of both DC and Marvel. (See, for example, The Proof of Rictor and Shatterstar's Love, especially this scan, although every scan is worth viewing. Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] greenet!) The kink in question - yes, I'm back to talking about the story - is spanking. If you don't like spanking, you should read this anyway, because it's hysterical.

-Alternate Stories-

Best FF That Could Be Used As a Recruiting Tool for the U.S. Army. In Certain Populations.: Thought About the Army, by Kass, aka [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. I recommended "Throwback" instead of this one because they're both good, and I assume everyone's already read this one. (If you haven't, why haven't you? And you call yourself a slash fan. Read all of Kass's stuff immediately.) For some reason, TS writers seem to assume that the natural progression of Jim and Blair's relationship is: friends, UST, RST, eternal commitment, BDSM. (Not that I'm arguing - hey, I'm all for the BDSM, and it certainly does enliven long-term relationships, but why does everyone conclude that Jim will go from lusting after Blair to fucking Blair to handcuffing him to a light fixture?) Here we have a perfect example of true excellence in a long-term relationship. Jim has a sexual need. With prompting, he communicates it to Blair. Blair meets said need enthusiastically. And with silk neckties. (Well, I mean, what other use would Blair have for a necktie?) I'm not saying bondage is necessary for a long-term relationship, mind you. But it certainly adds to the fun. (NOTE: Apparently my brain was not functioning when I selected this alternate; it actually has more non-con in it than "Throwback." I'm picking a second alternate, which will be TS and certified non-con free. See below.)

Best FF That Could Be Used As a Recruiting Tool for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In Certain Populations.: Look, Officer, I Can Explain Everything..., by [livejournal.com profile] cmshaw. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Some Confusion, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. This one is the alternate for all those folks who gag when they see a pairing that isn't RayK/Fraser. The first part of this story made me laugh so hard that I had to take a break before I could read the second and third parts. (I had a stitch in my side, and my dogs were regarding me with real worry.) Plus, it really changed my impression of marmalade, which I've always considered a cruel and unusual thing to do to citrus fruits, but I now view as something you'd want to have on hand in case a Mountie ever dropped by. To sum: this story has humor, a frightening look at Thatcher's sex life, an amusing look at Fraser's fantasy life, kink, and marmalade. Really, what are you waiting for?

-Addendum-

Best FF That Clearly Delineates the Difference Between Fantasy and Reality, Thus Getting My Butt off the Hook. So to Speak.: A Night of It, by Anna S., aka [livejournal.com profile] eliade. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. And this is the last TS story I'm recommending in this post, even if it suddenly spawns a non-con situation. This is another classic, another great story, another long-time fic, another bondage story, distinguished by the total lack of the slightest hint of non-consensual sex, except in fantasy, and I think it's pretty clear from the start that it is only fantasy. So we should all thank Anna S. for coming up with a story that I could recommend without feeling lingering guilt about consent issues, and we should all be very grateful that there's such a wealth of excellent BDSM stories in this fandom. I know I am. I also know I'm that I'm done with this post. Hell, I may be done with kink. Recs can sure be hard on the recommender's sex life.

So - to all a good night, totally free of kink, unless of course you're wanting kink, in which case, go you.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
And by "chariot," I mean "car." Because, let's face it, we live a lot of our lives in cars. We kiss in cars, and fight in cars, and snack in cars, and, especially in our teen years, have sex in cars. And as in life, so in fan fiction. (Stop laughing immediately. I didn't say fan fiction was realistic, did I? No, I did not. I merely said it reflects our obsessions. If you believe you can successfully argue with that, go right ahead; I stand ready to defend my statement.)

Best FF That Puts a Hair Care Product to a Use That Paul Mitchell Would Never Approve. I Think.: Cool in the Backseat, by witchbaby, aka [livejournal.com profile] brooklinegirl. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Sex. In a car. Plus some other stuff. Really, when a story has a title like that, I don't think I should have to write a summary for you to know what's going to happen. But I do believe you'll be deeply impressed with what these guys manage to do in a car; I'm not sure how many couples aside from Fraser-the-perfect and Kowalski-the-graceful could have successful anal sex in the backseat of a Pontiac GTO. Trust me when I tell you that any kind of automotive engagement, never mind what happens here, requires skill and talent in some amount far greater than I possess. (There's a guy who is probably still limping and bruised who can testify that combining a backseat, a hardcover Biology textbook, and me is an act both unwise and very, very painful.) So be in awe, folks, of what Ben 'n' Ray manage to pull off in this story. Um, so to speak.

Best FF in Which Sex Is Prevented by the Untimely Intervention of a Car Alarm: Diversionary Tactics, by [livejournal.com profile] shrift. Sports Night, Casey McCall/Danny Rydell. Why yes, I do intend to continue recommending Sports Night fic. The SN Cult has me in its clutches, and I will not rest until every single person on this earth is reading SN FF. And, see, this is what is both beautiful and terrible about the Cult: I'm doing this because I know you'll be happier when you've succumbed. (Unless you get hold of some of the depressing SN stories, because those are like a kick to the gut, or possibly even like a blow to the genitals from the pointy part of a hardcover Biology textbook. But I'm no sadist; I'll warn you when I'm linking to one of those.) This is a happy story, and it is absolutely chock full of cars. (Public Service Announcement: we residents of Los Angeles would prefer it if visitors to this fine city did not use their cellular phones on the 405. Trust me, it's scary enough watching you folks merge without the knowledge that three-quarters of your brain is back home, and half of what's left is trying to figure out if that's Ryan Seacrest on the radio. (It isn't. It's his clone. We think, although we are afraid to get close enough to check.) So, please, unless you're Danny Rydell, stay off the phone when you're in traffic. Thank you. Love, the Los Angeles troglodytes.)

Best FF in Which the Two Characters Argue about Whether They're Gay or Not, Pause to Have Gay Sex, and Then Return to the Argument, Apparently Somehow Unaware That Said Argument Has Been Definitely Overtaken by Events: Orange Crush, by Annie Sewell-Jennings, aka [livejournal.com profile] anniesj. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. This story is actually the second in a series that I think of as the Random Song Title Series. I don't know if it actually has a name. You might want to read the first story, A Lesson in Principles, before you read this one, although I do think that "Orange" could, despite references to what happened in "Lesson," stand alone. This story is based on an old tradition - sex in a crappy American car. I don't know why that's such a classic activity, but it is. Maybe people worry less about staining the upholstery when the car already sucks. (Get ready for a really impressive, top-notch, professional-quality transition here.) Sucks, in fact, like Spike does, only not in this story, which doesn't suck at all. (Yes, that was some excellent writing, there. Nothing quite like the knowledge of a job well done, is there?)

Best FF That Features the Phrase "Mi Dildo Es Su Dildo," Which, Frankly, I Don't Think Should Ever Be Uttered by Anyone: Toy Story, by Alanna, aka [livejournal.com profile] bayleaf. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. Yes, it's an all-TV-show recommendations set! Apparently television characters are big on the car sex concept. Or maybe I'm just a helpless TV show fangirl. Whichever. This story wins two prizes from me. First, the Chutzpah Award, for portraying sex in a car parked in a police station's garage. How many people have done that? (Note that I said people, not fan fiction characters; I could assemble almost a complete nominations set built around this concept alone.) And, second, the Mysterious Lack of Chutzpah Award, because I think we can all enjoy the spectacle of Blair getting embarrassed in a sex toy shop. Evidently Blair never learned the girl decoy trick, where you give a girl the money and a detailed description of the dildo or vibrator you want and halfway through you realize this is actually worse than telling a stranger and you should've just shopped on the internet, because the girl is laughing so hard complete strangers keep wanting to give her seizure medication. At least she's laughing that hard when she's me. I'm sure those in the audience are much kinder to their male friends on these occasions.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Nobody is a bigger fan of the explicitly smutty story than I am. But smut cannot stand alone, my friends; it has to fit in the story, be part of the story's framework, or it's just another boring cookie-cutter sex scene that readers skim through to get back to the plot. So I am also a big fan of those authors that only put smut where it belongs.

I hear you saying "But smut belongs everywhere!" I feel that way myself sometimes. The truth is, however, that some stories just aren't ready to go all the way, and authors who honestly love and care for those stories don't force them. So today I'm taking the time to praise those authors who respect their stories' boundaries even if it means going below the NC-17 horizon.

Best FF Featuring a Totally Anachronistic and Yet Totally Appropriate Song: Barter, by Gloria Mundi, aka [livejournal.com profile] viva_gloria. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack/OMC. The easiest way to describe this story is to quote the author's summary: "'Last time the rum runners who used this island as a cache came by, and I was able to barter a passage off.' Barter? Barter what?" I read that and thought, hey, yeah! What did he barter? Glori asked the question and she answered it. This story is sharper and more serious than I usually like in this fandom; after all, the canon doesn't exactly bring the word "gravitas" to mind, so why should the fan fiction? But "Barter" works for me, possibly because if Jack's ever going to be angsty, it's going to be about the Pearl. Hell, the Pearl has to be involved just for Jack to be serious.

Best FF That Teaches Us How Dangerous It Can Be at the Forefront of the Fight for Equality of the Sexes: Gynecology1, by Charlemagne, aka [livejournal.com profile] synchronik. Sports Night, Danny Rydell/Casey McCall. Danny is made Woman for a Night, and learns some important feminine facts, which include:

1. There's nothing more dangerous than a group of intoxicated women.
2. Sweet, fruit-flavored alcohol is lethal.
3. Two can keep a secret. Unless they work together. Or the secret makes for really good gossip. God help you if both are true.
4. If you don't know what you're going to say, don't open your mouth.

This story, in my opinion, is a perfect example what sports Night FF writers do so well - humor, fantastically snappy dialog, and a touch of drama simmering under the surface, where you can see it or not, just as you prefer.

Best FF That Reminds Us Why Teenagers Are Dangerous Things to Have Around the House. Or Around the Planet, for That Matter.: Seeing Through the Spaces, by [livejournal.com profile] pearl_o. X-Men movies, Magneto/Mystique, Pyro. There's been a lot of FF on Pyro turning to the dark side, and much of it is excellent. This story stands out for me, though, because not only do we see St. John as a sullen, somewhat thoughtless teenager, but we also get to see how vulnerable that makes him to Magneto's manipulation. And he's not vulnerable because he's somehow worse or more susceptible than other people his age; he's not. He's just an ordinary teenaged boy, making life-changing decisions without really knowing or even wondering why. Frankly, I think we should all be very grateful that in our world teenagers can't control elemental forces of destruction. Well, except for cars. And certain kinds of music.

Best FF That Manages to Make Contagious Disease and Its Affiliated By-Products Romantic: Wine, Women and Schlong, by Brighid, aka [livejournal.com profile] brighidestone. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. This story could use a little proofreading, but it is so worth reading. It's light and fun and funny, and, as I mentioned in the category title, it actually manages to make mucous romantic, which is clear proof that Brighid is a slash genius. Also, I love Sentinel stories that point out what the writers of the canon apparently missed - namely, that no one on this planet could possibly have believed Jim and Blair weren't lovers. I mean, they live together, work together, get jealously possessive of each other, protect each other, and cuddle after life-threatening situations. They probably do each other's laundry, too. Newborn babies must have looked at them and thought "Gay. Totally gay," never mind the people who actually worked with them. It's nice that FF writers could step in and pick up the slack, here. Of course, that's what FF does for every aspect of the canon. This is why a portion of my personal mantra is, "Thank god for slashers, who return a modicum of sanity to the world of The Sentinel."

-Footnote-

1 In all honesty I should note that the author himself considered this an NC-17 story. I've read it several times, and I just don't think it deserves such a high rating. R, maybe, but not NC-17. I'd be glad to hear other people's opinions on this point, though.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I have a near-lethal addiction to the documentary form, and I'm not talking about movies. My personal favorite is the epistolary, but I'll take diary entries, too, or, hell, tax forms. All documents are good. Stories written about documents, or with documents, or referring to documents - I love those, too. I'm the original cheap date when it comes to this form.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of true epistolary FF out there. Doesn't matter. I'm such a document slut that I'll go with any story that promises to mention letters or diaries. Sad, but true. Well, providing said story is good. And these are.

Best FF Likely to Lead to a Master's Thesis on the Importance of Sig Files in Modern Communication, and the Significance of the Suppression Thereof: Eros Epistolary, by Brighid, aka [livejournal.com profile] brighidestone. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. The first challenge of an epistolary story is to come up with a good reason why the characters are writing to each other, rather than, say, chatting. This is especially difficult, I'm sure you can appreciate, if the two characters live together and in fact spend essentially every moment of their lives together, which, of course, is exactly what Jim and Blair do. Brighid manages to get the guys writing to each other just fine, though. And note her fabulous use of the many options available to the modern epistolary writer, from sticky notes to email to recycled paper. Epistolary stories aren't boring! Epistolary stories are grand! Epistolary stories in the morning! And epistolary stories in the hand! Um. Stopping now.

Best FF That Shows How Addictive Letters Can Be in Bad Circumstances, So Won't You Write to Some Depressed Individual Today?: Letters Home, by [livejournal.com profile] penknife. The Secret Garden, Dickon/Colin/Mary. This story is not told entirely in letters. But it's about letters, and it's got extracts from letters, and it's a fantastic story, so I'm not seeing a downside here. Except the sadness. See, the problem with The Secret Garden is that it has to stand alone. Given the times and the culture in which the story takes place, there can't be a happy ending for the three of them as adults. I've always known that, sadly, the likeliest outcome was Mary and Colin married, and Dickon working as their gardener.

Except, of course, that they are on a collision course with World War I. Colin and Dickon are destined for hell in the Somme, and the odds aren't good that they'll both survive - especially not if they end up calvary, as [livejournal.com profile] penknife hypothesizes here. This story is something I could never even imagine - a reasonable extrapolation of The Secret Garden, one that lets the trio grow up and places them squarely in the real world. This shouldn't work. Except that it does, it really does.

Best FF That Shows How Addictive Letters Can Be Even in Relatively Good Circumstances, So Won't You Write to an Irritatingly Happy Person Today?: Written by Hand, by [livejournal.com profile] setissma. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Sirius Black, Remus Lupin/Severus Snape, James Potter/Lily Evans. Perhaps it would be better if I just wrote "assorted non-explicit and implied pairings." In any case, what we have here is a story in which Remus suffers from a handwriting addiction, and Sirius helps him figure out a way to get his fix even in Romania. It's sweet without being cloying. Remus gets down with the magic theory, we get the niftiest form of eavesdropping ever, and love prevails. At least briefly, which is exactly how long love gets to prevail in J. K. Rowling's world.

Best FF Told Entirely in a Letter That Leaves Me Barely Resisting the Temptation to Write a Letter Back1: To Casey, on His Thirty-Fifth Birthday, by Mosca, and does anyone know if she has a LJ? Sports Night, Dan/Casey (ish). Let's just get this out of the way now. I succumbed, OK? I completely and totally succumbed to the lure of Sports Night fan fiction, and if you haven't, all I can say is: run. Or the cultists will get you, too, and soon you'll be reading fabulous fan fiction about two guys who are smart, neurotic, funny, and so clearly in love that I'm surprised it was never mentioned in a daily run down meeting2. I really have to apologize for making my first official nomination in this fandom (the other one didn't count, because I wasn't in the fandom then) so wistful and unsmutty and unresolved. Trust me, there's also joy aplenty in the SN fold. (And if you won't trust me, trust the minions of Bhagwan Sports Night. They are even now waiting on your doorstep to tell you about the pure and slashy love to be found when you embrace Sports Night, for Sports Night is love and love is Sports Night.)

Best FF That Proves That Fraser and Kowalski Can Make Even a Community College Creative Writing Class Sexy: The Course, by Bone, aka [livejournal.com profile] thisisbone, and Aristide (anyone have a link for her?). Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. I love document-related fiction way too much to limit myself to just four stories; it was actually a battle of will for me to limit myself to one story per fandom. So this is today's bonus story. It's one that many people will have read; this is what we call a classic of the genre, by which we mean that it is chock-full of smut. And humor. And then a lot more smut. And this cavalcade of smut is induced, my friends, by Ray's journal entries. Diaries and smut and undercover work and smut and sullen community college students and smut and Fraser in relaxed clothing and smut. And then some smut. So, really, you cannot go wrong with this one. And if you don't know from due South? Well, you'll be able to read this anyway; I barely knew the fandom when I found this story, but it turns out that high-quality smut is truly accessible fiction. (Just think of the improvement in our nation's literacy statistics if summer reading lists included this sort of story!)

-Footnote-

1Said sequel would, naturally, be called "To Danny, Who Will Be Lucky If He Lives to See His Next Birthday If He Keeps Leaving Tragic Love Letters on Office Computers." And it would begin "Dear Danny - I see that therapy has really improved your communication skills, not to mention your passive-aggressive behavior and your self-image. And if you think I won't read every damn file on my computer rather than write a script, then have I been sharing an office with Pod Danny for the last two years?"

2Actually, I suspect this was covered in a rundown meeting. Probably it went something like this. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Alcohol might not be much on its own, but combine it with fan fiction and we do indeed see how sweet life can be. Of course, there's not so much of the slight here; for the most part, these stories contain some serious intoxication. But don't worry about alcohol poisoning and don't bother ordering blood levels; in fan fiction, drunkenness is just a classic way of getting two people horizontal. Or, you know, into other assorted positions.

To put it another way: yay, drunkfics!

Best FF That Proves That Everything Is Better with Wombats: Vombatus poeticus, by [livejournal.com profile] q_skud_. Master & Commander, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey (ish). I'm dedicating this rec to [livejournal.com profile] makesmewannadie, who understands that wombats do indeed make everything better. Wombats can even help with unrequited love, which is pretty much we've got here. This is an itty-bitty fic, and g-rated, so it's really fairly astonishing that [livejournal.com profile] q_skud_ managed to fit so many of my favorite things into it: wombats, Latin, good poetry (on this occasion by Catullus), Stephen Maturin. It's like I was born just to provide this story with its ideal audience. Plus, it helps fill the world's gaping need for wombatfic. Writers, what have you done for wombatfic today? Remember: fandoms need wombats.

Best FF in a Fandom I Am Absolutely Not Reading, Not Not Not: Vaguely Gay, by [livejournal.com profile] miriam_heddy. Sports Night, Dan/Casey McCall. Let me just repeat that: this is not one of my fandoms, people. I don't even know what the show is about (though I'm thinking sports probably come into it somewhere), and I am not getting involved in another damn TV fandom. They're too difficult. It's just - the title of this story really appealed to me, because that's what the guys we slash so often are; there's just something, you know, vaguely gay about the way they interact with their supposedly-straight, supposedly-platonic best friends. So I read the story, and it proved to be good, and so here we are. Of course I can't be sure that this is in-character or canon-appropriate or anything, as this is - did I mention this? - not my fandom. Not! My! Fandom!

Best FF That Scarred Me Forever with a Casual Mention of a Former President of the United States: Scotch Courage, by Kellie Matthews. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Come for the intoxicated Ray. Stay for the unintoxicated sex. And please, please, somebody tell me that the whole comment about our former President doesn't mean what I think it means, because if it does, the resultant mental images will torment me to the grave. In fact, they may torment me into my grave, so please, say it ain't so. (Sorry, folks. Wish I could provide a better summary. But every time I read or even think of this story, my brain fixates on that one horrible implied-but-please-god-not-true President thing, and it just locks up. Ew.)

Best FF Featuring a Sex Scene That Could Cause Impressionable Readers to Begin Singing "Giles of the Nine and a Half Fingers and the Xander of Doom," Which Is Grounds for Murder in Nine States: Four Dicks, by The Spike, aka [livejournal.com profile] spike21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander/Giles. Can I just say right now that I hate alcoholic-Giles stories? Because I like my Giles shiny and idealistic, and I like him snarky and careworn, but I don't like him passed out. He cannot snark when he's passed out, people. But...I still like this story. It's set in a time when Giles and Xander were both disenfranchised, feeling lost and out of it and wondering what the hell came next; this is a solution way better than the one Joss thought of. And Xander is perfectly in character here, using humor as a cover and a shield. So, you know, even though I don't like stories like this, well, I like this.

Best FF That Makes You Want to Snuggle up to a Warm Fuzzy Evil Demon Monster of Your Very Own: Untitled, by [livejournal.com profile] wiseacress. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. This is a bonus story, right here, because it's more of a scene, and anyway I try not to repeat fandoms in one set. But this is so worth reading, because it showcases something too many BtVS FF writers forget. I mean, we hear so much about the Ultimate Sexy of Spike that sometimes I wish Buffy'd staked him in season two. And there's almost as much FF talk about Spike's odd, soul-free humanity. There's just not so much focusing on Spike's evident caretaking need. But it's there, folks. He took care of Dru for a hundred years, even though she spent 99% of that time getting a direct feed from Planet Crazy. I understand he also took good care of Dawn, although I myself have not experienced what we might call the Dawn Season of Buffy (also known as the Sunset Season of Buffy, for an entirely different reason). Here, he's taking care of Xander, and he's clearly enjoying himself, and no, you perverts, it's not what you think. It's shmoop, which so clearly should not work with a BtVS-style vampire, except that it...does. And if that's not enough reason to read this, well, let me up the ante. It contains the phrase "make me your pirate bride." Thought that'd get you. Sure got me; I'll be working that phrase into nearly everything I say from now on.

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