Looking for something memorable to read? Aren't we all.... Most of this is slash but some is gen and some is even *gasp* hetsmut. Forgive me, but I belong to the "shiny object" school of reading. <g>
Delaying the inevitable, in other words. He had a bad habit of doing that. Stella'd had to pack for him, put the boxes in the hall, before he finally *got* it. Hammer to the head, that's what he needed. A hammer to the head. <<
Oh, and that's a lie. <<
While subsequent canon has rendered "All Human Things" by Livia AU, you don't want to miss the spectacle of watching a Lex who's so determined that he'll rip open his own mental scabs to get the concessions he wants from Clark. It's a very different kind of sadomasochism.
jenn keeps writing incredible Smallville stories. The sexual tension keeps building and building in "Shift." It's amazing how much heat is packed into this PG-13 story. Besides, one of Lex's cars plays a big role, and that's a turn-on right there. Lex ponders his plans in "Advanced Masochism 101: An Introduction." The problem he has is that none of them seem to be working. Curse that Clark for making it all hurt so good.... While Lex has mentioned in canon that he sometimes hid in the coatroom during parties, he never did it with Clark before as he does in "Closer to Breathing." There's more than one way of reading that last sentence. <g>
Ah, Smallville. How many shows have characters talk to one another for the first time after mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? Then there's the way Lex and Clark blaze in the other's presence. No wonder so many good stories have shown up here.
I've been uncomfortable at parties like the one described in "What He Wants" by Brancher. I like it that Clark may be sheltered, but he's not so sheltered that he's overawed by what's on display here. He's a bit disbelieving, occasionally appalled, but fairly free from illusions about these folks. So he fades into the woodwork, something he's good at. Then Lex comes by. There's a sequence with Lex dancing that is a major reason why I recommended this story. <g> Ignore the few formatting difficulties and enjoy.
Then Lex was back, coolly not-belonging in a corner of a small-town coffee shop, and how he managed to not-fit with such flair Clark had no idea and wanted to ask. <<
While Clark's trying so hard to make the puzzle pieces fit together into the big picture of who Lex is really, Lex briefly lets Clark get a glimpse inside his inner world in "Relativity" by jenn. Unfortunately, neither can make the other understand where he's coming from, not matter how hard they try. And they try very hard. You can feel the landmines they're working through. Besides, I love the scene in which Lex lets Clark drive the Jaguar.
How many due South first time stories take place in a porn theater? Okay, of that small number, how many could be seen as being in-character? Well, you have "Skin Flick" by Anagi. Here's Ray wanting to take advantage of their situation but loving Fraser too much to... and Fraser showing him that it's not taking advantage at all. The story doesn't neglect the less glamorous details of their surroundings--you are right there on that disgusting floor with Ray--but that's a great thing.
"Dressing Down" by LaT is an Andromeda gen that wonders if maybe Rev's religious retreat was... suggested to him. Yep, LaT's caught the "needing to fill the missing holes in canon" bug, and we all benefit. I love steely Dylan....
If the Seamus Harper Online site reflects canon-to-be, then this fic about Beka and Harper's first meeting will be AU soon, but it's not like I'd let that get in my way. "Hello, My Name Is" by Zion's Starfish shows a high affection for them, and I can see these events being possible. The author gets it that neither of them is as hardened as they pretend to be, though their snarkiness goes bone deep. I give bonus points for how the story goes into the mundane details of life and running a salvage ship, such as the fact that insurance forms are still a pain in the ass three millennia on. Poverty doesn't change much either....
"Triptych" by debchan has a number of warnings on it--"Implied incest, implied het, implied semi non-consensual sex. Run away!" as she puts it--but you're not going to let that scare you away from a great story, are you? Better not. A wonderfully creepy little Six Feet Under fic, it shows Nate coming to understand his true standing with Brenda. Who's really the odd man out, Nate or Billy? The reader figures out far faster than he does that as far as Brenda's concerned, neither is.
Maxine Mayer has a gift for writing from Fraser's viewpoint and showing exactly how his logic and assumptions can run him straight into a hole. The series that starts with "Road Trip" and ends with "Home Again, Home Again" has Fraser and Ray heading out on a trip after the events of "Strange Bedfellows." They don't end up where they thought they would, though they'd been on that path the whole time. The road trip scenes really struck me as true to life, capturing the way time doesn't feel like it runs the same way, the odd suspended feeling of your life. And what an emotional roller coaster these stories take you on. The series that starts with "First Date" and ends with "Confident of a Date" begins with how that first invitation to eat together in "Burning Down the House" turned out and covers ground from there. Ray keeps giving Fraser the green light, yet the narrative shows you how Fraser can keep interpreting them as red. You can find these on Maxine Mayer's due South Stories page.
"Silence" by anonymous co, a "Ladies Man" story, shows how that first reaching out can lead to the next move. "Sizzle" shows Ray figuring out something about himself fairly late in life when kissing Maggie doesn't do much for him but Fraser teaching him to use chopsticks gives him a charge. After that, it's obvious. In "Driving Constable Fraser," Ray takes Fraser and Dief out to the countryside and is immediately rewarded. All of these display a highly involving sensuality and a wealth of the small details that make a story seem more real. And the sex scenes are really hot.
Jim learns to read a non-verbal form of Sandburg-ian speech in "Feeling Blair" by Dolimir, and the rewards are limitless. Funny and touching, this Sentinel story hits the spot.
Jim may never live down the night's events detailed by Blankety's "The Big Lebowski," though it's not like it was all bad. Even if we and Sandburg are really amused by his misfortunes.
And in my continuing effort to bring you classic X-Files fic, here's a gen by Pares called "The Sad Ballad of Mary Sue's Blues," in which Mulder meets a mysterious stranger who kicks his fourth wall right down. Hortense is the kind of author stand-in one rarely gets to see in fic.... And the Mulder here is a beautiful example of why I refuse to accept the zombie substitute we've seen in the last two seasons of the show.
You could put a warning on "Form 1879 C" by Barb G., but it would spoil the kicker of an ending. Fraser and Ray face an important hearing regarding their headlong rushing into danger.
Somebody remembered the Angel episode in which we find out that a drunk Doyle called Oz his "little Bamm-Bamm." <g> "When Something Stands for Nothing" by Maya has this incredible mood to it, even if I can't quite name what that mood is. It sounds very much like what a somewhat uncomfortable late night exchange between two near strangers would sound like. Oz is very much Oz, while Doyle's confused by why Oz is there. Although it has one taut moment of sexual tension, it's mostly gen and mostly concerned with the odd near-ties that fighting evil and knowing some of the same people (though in a different stage of their lives) can foster.
"Poster Boy" by Sarah T is a gen that deals with something unexamined in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, namely, how Xander dealt with the aftermath of having to kill his friend Jesse way back in the beginning. A good look at grief and confusion, it also conjectures on what life in a town on the Hellmouth must be like for the citizens who can't quite think that something's very wrong and different about their lives. Bonus points for a Giles who tries to console and for showing that Buffy's not the only one who suffered for having to be covert about the slayings.
In "Miss Finchley Bent Over" by Jessica Harris and Te, Xander gets a sudden taste for tweed and a big gay wiggins. But don't feel too bad for him. Really. Where were Oz and Devon and their van when I was a teenager?
Sometimes you need a story that's just fun. Here's one, a gen Homicide story by Spinner called "Boys Will Be Boys," that's guaranteed to give you a smile. Tim and Frank are still slashy together (though that's canon anyway), you get a look at yummy predatory Tim, and Kay's here being Kay. As she should be. It's all good. Beau Felton challenges Tim Bayliss to a paintball match in the squadroom. That's Felton's first mistake.
Returning to my quest to bring you the best of older X-Files fiction.... Sleeps With Coyotes writes lots of great stuff, rife with vivid imagery, with a specialty for plotting and angst, but I want to recommend two lighter, shorter stories today. (Though "Angels" has its angsty moments.)
Returning to angst--and due South--"deren Gesichter sehen ihm aehnlich (Their Faces Resemble His)" by Basingstoke is hard to describe aside from the fact that it must be read. It stayed with me for days afterward. Once upon a time, Ray Kowalski was abducted by aliens. Now he thinks maybe he's going crazy.
"Bugs and Thorns" is due South wackiness, but with slash. <g> As usual, Ray sees too much, but sometimes seeing too much (along with your car breaking down while you have no cell phone) can lead to good places. If anybody could figure out the meaning of Fraser's blue bumblebee story, it would be him....
Even if being real hurts. <<
"Crossroads" by Kellie Matthews is a Buried on Sunday/Masterminds crossover, but you don't need the source materials to like this one. Gus and Ollie come across very well. It lets things build in the time they need, no rush, so give yourself a few hours here. Sometimes the solution you need is right in front of your face and comes from the direction you least expect it.
Once in a while I feel the need to go back to my roots and read some classic X-Files fic. In this case, gen for "Waiting for Morning," "Tonight I Was," and "Utterly Nailed" and slash with "Suffusion," all by Brighid. In "Waiting for Morning," Mulder comes by one night to have a good talk with Scully, so of course she figures that something's wrong. Something is. "Tonight I Was" has one hell of a twist at its end, because an assaulted Scully doesn't need Mulder's help in quite the way he thought she did. Krycek's doing his job in "Utterly Nailed," and it can be pretty damned boring and uncomfortable for him at times. "Suffusion" shows us a Mulder who's having trouble letting go, like that's a surprise. But he gets a visitor at Krycek's grave....
7/18/2001: I didn't set out to make it a due South rec installment. It just worked out that way.
"The Killer Replacements" by Speranza manages to have funny, heartbreaking, and sexy moments depending on where you are in it. Fraser, vacationing in Canada, gets a call from Ray K to say that he may not be able to make it to pick him up at the train.... It's a good thing Ray actually wants to be found, because I don't think he'd react well to Fraser's stalker coalition of taxi drivers, elderly busybodies, hotel maids, Italian and Chinese take-out places, truckers, and eighth graders otherwise. Several images in here make me purr. Love the ending(s). I'd be interested in seeing a follow-up dealing with Mark and Ray's new jobs....
At their best, Ray and Fraser snap and crackle as they talk, and I love stories that let them take out all the stops doing so. Matthew Haldeman-Time's "A Fine Evening" and "Ray and the Stupid Stubborn Mountie Man" let them. Damn, do these two stories let them. The verbiage flies, so much so that it's too hard to decide what to quote. Another great Ray voice in these. Ray decides that Fraser needs to start dating, inadvertently providing a great opening.... It takes Ray a while to get it, but he's not looking at the situation from the right angle. He's starting to get it by the second story in the series.
How Jane St Clair and Te, writing together as Janete, can write so much really hot sex in such a short time boggles my mind. They're knocking out very different, very hot scenes in one X-Men story after another. Well, X-Men in that they fall under Marvel's umbrella of mutant-based titles, as in the various X-Men books, Generation-X, X-Force, and Alpha Flight. (Yes, Alpha Flight doesn't quite fit, but it had mutant members with links to the X teams.) There's some movieverse stuff here too. I love 95% of Janete's X stories--you really can't go wrong reading any of the Janete work at Jane St Clair's page or Te's page (Same stories but different visual presentation, with my eyes having an easier time at Te's)--but my favorite here has to be "Perseus, Still."
I've always loved Jono, Chamber, even aside from the whole Goth thing. (Of course he's a Goth, but only artist Chris Bachalo would have gotten that and helped the writers notice.) Hell, I wished the team's book had gotten better writers, since Generation-X had a stable of characters with weirdnesses that a decent author could really dig into. Which they do. And go NC-17 with it. <g>
You know, like what's sex with a telepath like? How do your abilities (and the damage that sometimes goes with them) affect your sexuality, sensuality, and way of looking at yourself? How far would knowing that you're a living weapon (though sometimes you wonder about the "living" part, in Jono's case) warp your ways of dealing with the people closest to you?
Jono would feel disconnected from his ravaged body, and it's interesting that he sees it as fragile after it's survived all the things it has. Well, mostly survived. Nice touch that the energy face he briefly makes for himself reflected what he looked like years ago, when he still had a face below his nose. The risks Angelo is willing to take shows his affection stronger than talking about it would. And I loved the bit where he shared the experience of eating an apple.
And the sex is very hot. As usual.
Other particular favorites include "Lindo y Casero," "Caressing the Marble and Stone," "Things Have Changed," "Stellar," and "Wild Things IV: The Wild Rumpus." But you really should check out everything.
So in an era where the actual X-books usually leave me stunned with how badly they're written and how often they mistreat and toss away their characters, at least I know where I can go to read these folks behaving more like they do in my conception of them.
due South: "Carapace" by ren lets us see Fraser, Ray, and Ray through Fraser's eyes. I love the ending on this one, it's just perfect, and I'm a total sucker for a good ending.
"Dirty" by Shrift: It has a wonderful Ray voice, "chick moves" and all, and a dirty Fraser who decides to stay dirty because Ray asked for it. What's not to love? And that's Bad V taking over the keyboard from Good V. I can see this story, and you have to appreciate the sensual detail work.
In "Frozen" by Elizabeth, Lindsey reflects on how every time he gets something he wanted, it turns to ashes in his mouth. Incredible victim's POV of having Angel's hand wrapped around your throat, squeezing....
In my quest to recall classic X-Files fic from the days before the show made me want to bang Chris Carter's head against a wall until only a red smear remained, I found Kassandra's Other Page and two favorite Mulder/Krycek stories.
"The Long and Winding Road" is the only babyfic I've ever enjoyed or felt worked, and it runs nothing like you'd expect it to. The really funny thing is that it was meant to be a parody of a Mulder/Scully Romance from that era but turned into something serious and heartfelt. Both are big, meaty, and satisfying, with the character and narrative work I expect and appreciate from Kassandra.
"Heat and Decay" by Abree Brand is another old favorite that I have trouble describing. The simplest summary is that Pendrell tries to navigate a post-plague Washington DC with Krycek. But that doesn't begin to address the surrealism and horror of this story, or the fever dream imagery. You only know as much as Pendrell does, and he spends a great deal of time in this story wondering what's real.... "Heat and Decay" reminds me of what a rich source material for a wide variety of stories X-Files used to be, since this fandom had room for horror stories, comedies, war stories, Apocalypses, road trips, romances, sci-fi, and seemingly hundreds of others. And I damn Chris Carter all over again for fucking it up.
5/2001: Real life is kicking my ass again. Combine that with my recent difficulties into getting into the archives on many squidge.org sites, and I haven't read as much fic as I would have liked to in the last month. Hopefully I'll have more for my next rec update.
I had a scare a while back when simplenet was going to get rid of the MKRA/MSSS websites, but fortunately Down in the Basement moved the material over. Once upon a time, X-Files slash archives did something very rare. Usually when a site outgrows its space and is taken over by new management, the original site is torn down, its contents are moved over and reconfigured to fit the tastes of the new archivist, and the new site accepts new fic. But MKRA/MSSS (and later Archive X) just stopped, as if preserved in amber, its contents left intact and looking just as they did the day it closed its doors to new submissions. This was how it looked when it was the first slash site I devoured and through the early stage of my slasherhood. MKRA was the face of M/K, since this site was the XF slash Mulder/Krycek site, and reflected a time when canon was my friend instead of something that made me wonder how much contempt Chris Carter has for the show's fans. The in-jokes, challenges, and politics of a certain era of XF fic remained right there for perusal. It held an astonishing array of classic XF slash. It provided a context for my early stories by showing their contemporaries. If you first ran into my stories on my site, you see how they stand alone or fit within the body of my work, but with MKRA you can see what was going on around them and the in-jokes and commentary I put in my fic that reflected those surroundings.
MKRA was a time capsule, a scrapbook.
Thanks to DitB's generous archivist, you can still see MKRA/MSSS's (and also Archive X's) stories self-contained and separate from the huge, consolidated (and very convenient) archive that is Down in the Basement if you want to.
So go back in time to an era when classic authors like torch, A. Leigh-Anne Childe, JiM, and DBKate were still writing XF. See Woodinat's insane and very funny "Deny Everything--Especially Pendrell's Death." Find out why this story and so many others in that time period had eggbeaters in them. Visit an era in which I read Mulder/Skinner (though I couldn't write it). Me, I'm glad it's all still there....
4/2001: With the Tripod Massacre, overtime at work, and Hexwood not being able to accept any new submissions as the new archivist moves it to its new home, I haven't done as much reading lately.
"Scrabble" by Speranza is one of the best things I've read in a long time. There's the author's patented snappy dialogue, pacing, plot(!), and could-be-a-due-South-episode-if-not-for-the-sex manner. There's humor, drama, explosive sex, the differences between what they're thinking and what they actually say, and Fraser in a very hazardous place, mentally. See how easily Fraser's adrenaline junkie ways can go too far. Ray and Fraser both have their bad-ass moments.
What makes the story unique is that it's formatted to have simultaneous two-sided POV placed side-by-side. You can read all the way through Fraser's side of the story then through Ray's, but I think it's far more interesting to read the story left to right, frame by frame, to see how two people in the same general area can have totally different takes on what's going on as events develop. For example, Fraser thinks Ray understands him so much better than Ray actually does. Of course, the Ray in Fraser's head can hear Fraser's thoughts.... Get to the point where Speranza writes their Scrabble game and has the board with their words in the center of the screen between their POVs, and I'm deeply envious of the HTML coding as well as the writing. Since the HTML formatting is so precisely measured and placed, Speranza gives you the option of choosing the Netscape Navigator version or the Internet Explorer version.
The funniest thing I've read in a long time is debchan's "Glee Club." It's Futurama slash flavored by Fight Club, if you can believe it. With Fry as the Narrator. Demented fun ensues as the story keeps pulling out surprises. I'd tell you more about "Glee Club," but the first rule of Glee Club is that you don't talk about Glee Club, and the second rule of Glee Club is you do not talk about Glee Club. Besides, I don't want to spoil anything for you.
De Orakle's Once a Thief Nathan/Dobrinky series has changed its name from Paranoid Android to Compulsion.
I love poor, paranoid, ¾-wrong and ¼-right Nathan. I know, you're thinking: "Another tall, skinny, twitchy guy, V? You surprise us." Yet I never thought of Nathan/Dobrinsky until De Orakle made it obvious and inevitable. These stories are dark, hot in a disturbing way, and so, so wrong. That's good eating. In "Broken Toys" we see Nathan's job interview with Dobrinsky, who isn't looking for quite the qualifications you'd expect. I highly recommend the creepy yet very effective voyeurism of "Stop, Fast Forward, Play." Dobrinsky watches via security camera the terrified, paranoiac way Nathan struggles through the workday and gets off on it. Vicariously, we do too.
It's hard to believe that these are Speranza's first due South stories because they're already so good. Enjoy the sense of humor, gift for dialogue and characterization, dead-on usage of the rest of the cast, and hot sex that abound in them. Ray and Fraser sound just the way they should, spark all over the place, and talk like the couple they are, while the supporting cast is in character and gets a great deal of play too. "Anatomically Correct" is hot, atmospheric, and almost explains curling for me. It's not your usual seduction moment either. "Merry Go Round" opens with a conversation that could be right out of the show as the 27th tries to figure out which of many unnamed places is where they want to get their food from and keeps on with the bizarre slice-of-dS-life. It could almost be an actual episode, if actual episodes would include Ray getting seductive while eating a banana and our boys getting down to it at home. Hey, I wish they would. Kudos for Fraser deciding he likes Chicago. But my favorite Speranza story has to be "Interrogation." Fraser gets death threats and can't figure out which of the many crooked people whose noses he put out in the past two months or so is behind it. Ray, understandably, is livid. Here's a particularly good Ray moment:
Jane St Clair does great work for The Authority, so it would make sense that she gives the same care and thought to her X-Force fic. People in super-hero teams live necessarily weird lives, and her stories reflect this, conjecturing on what that would do to the way these people look at life, love, and everything. Not only does "In the Absence" have great Rictor/Shatterstar scenes, but it also features an excellent Domino voice as X-Force's tough but caring, unwilling den mother does a bed check and thinks on what a lousy example her relationship with Cable makes for her "kids." Domino comes off as somebody you wouldn't mind having a drink with as long as you avoided pissing her off.
I loved "Someone Who's Turning." Quietly screwed-up Rictor ponders love and sex, and some of it is terribly sad:
You'd think it would be impossible to cross Iron Chef over with any of our usual obsessions. You'd be wrong, because I'm stunned to be able to mention two really good ones--one with The X-Files and the other with Hard Core Logo--right off the top of my head. Krycek is described in a sensual but also entirely unique and hilarious way in the Spike's "Battle Rat." I almost coughed up a lung reading this story. Hard Core Logo brings its drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll to the Kitchen Stadium in "A Few Highlights From My Very Favorite Imaginary Show" by Mairead Triste. It's even more insane than you'd expect. I won't quote anything from either of these stories because it's just too hard to decide what to use.
1/2001: I know these are mostly due South and The Sentinel, but that's most of what I'm reading lately.
"Zen" by Basingstroke had to work harder than usual to keep me from pressing the Back button because second person narrative works my last nerve. Yet something in this story made me stick around, and now I'm recommending it. Ray gets a new, official partner to go along with the Canadian, unofficial one he's had for years, and this story is from the new guy's perspective, presenting sharp, dead-on observations of our cast. Also appreciated is the image of Ray carving wooden figurines with a hunting knife that he still keeps at the back of his belt in Chicago. A friend of mine figured out who the new partner is much faster in the story than I did.
While Fraser/Kowalski is my pairing of choice, I keep an open mind. "Chopsticks and Curling" is a rare Kowalski/Turnbull that doesn't make me feel like the author gave Ray Turnbull as a second place consolation prize for not getting Fraser. The playful flirtation over Chinese food and curling followed by playful sex makes me smile. And you have to love a Ray who chides a Fraser who'd walked in on them thusly:
Sitnah's companion piece to "Chopsticks and Curling" is "In the Manger," which is also fun and actually shows the time when Ray found out that Fraser really isn't interested. By, yes, sitting in Fraser's lap and getting right to it. The Fraser presented here is something of an odd duck, though he'd have to be to turn down a lap full of Ray, I think.
"Hair of the Dog" by Margiej provides a good gen display of what a friend of mine calls wolf humor. Ray, Fraser, and Dief are forced to go dumpster diving, something Dief enjoys so much that he has to get a bath afterwards. He makes them work for it. Oh, does he make them work for it. This story comes with an added bonus of one very slashy moment. <g>
"Happy Place" by Matthew Haldeman-Time presents a wise, barefoot-around-the-apartment Ray comforting a freshly-dumped Fraser. Fraser, you do realize that few utterly straight men comfort their buddies with hugs and petting or call them "edible," right? You don't? Never mind then. Though he starts to get an inkling on his own side of things by the end. The dialogue sings, and Ray's voice is great. There are too many quotable parts for me to narrow it down, and much of the dialogue builds on things said before it, so I'm not going to try. I liked the sequel too until the end, so I can't recommend that one.
In the Ray/Ray "Close to the Chest" by Hth, Kowalski goes to sleep after an eventful birthday party and wakes up in Vecchio's lap during a heart-to-heart between Ray and Fraser. He hears an earful, changing almost everything he thought he knew, yet can't bring himself to show them that he's faking his continuing sleep. Hth nails Fraser's less than sterling qualities:
And then, completely unexpected, warmth and a rush of displaced air, the still-familiar woolen-warm scent of Fraser. His hand, hovering just above Ray Kowalski's cheek, shadow-stroking his face without making contact. <<
"No Rest" by Charlemagne is one of the first Sentinel stories I ever read, and it's still one of my favorites. In this pre-slash a very tired Sandburg breaks a major rule and then doesn't understand why Jim's being so good over it. The narrative perfectly captures the nonsensical logic of an overtired mind and how little disasters, like a glass of orange juice spilled in the wrong place, seem to loom large when you're in that state. Jim's epiphany moment is nicely understated.
"Permanent Record" by Francesca has guys just being guys. How blasé they are about it all comes as a bit of a surprise, but it works. My favorite section has to be when Jim is checking up on Sandburg's past by looking through his student records and reads some of the poetry a precocious Sandburg working on his bachelor degree wrote to get through a particularly dull course. Love the haiku cycle. You know that a too-smart student so much younger than the others and disinclined to toe the line would get into trouble, and it's right here. The "oh, yeah" moment at the end of the story brings a smile to my face. And the sex is hot.
What if Jim and Blair had kind of met before they first saw one another face to face? "Call Waiting" by Ceares shows a fateful wrong number. I'm not sure how much I believe this AU's premise but when I'm reading it I'm totally with it. I can go with the idea that some subconscious part of a Sentinel can recognize a Guide when one calls him by accident looking for somebody else. Given the dialogue here, I don't think I'd mind having Blair as a phone buddy either.
There's something in "Blair of Nazareth: The Ultimate AU" by Slashphemy to offend anyone even partly involved in a Judeo-Christian faith. Okay, now that the warning's done with, I also want to say that this is the funniest and cleverest thing I've read recently. Go sample for yourself. The fact that I'm reccing it means I didn't get hit with a lightning bolt afterward.
"Everything You Need In One Convenient Location" by Julad shows that sometimes you can find out the most important things you need to know about a guy from one trip of buying groceries with him. Find out why Sandburg, the sneaky bastard, thinks tampons are a household essential. It's not what Jim thinks:
In the right hands, pre-slash can be hugely entertaining, sometimes even more entertaining to read than slash itself, in my humble opinion. When it works, it lets you listen to a character think about something while you know that there's something completely different going on that the character isn't consciously aware of. It's a bit of a highwire act. "Tail Wind" by Laura Kaye is good pre-slash. I especially love the part where Jim contemplates a Sandburg dressed in oversized, borrowed clothing and smelling of peaches, specifically "Sun-Kissed Peach." We know what his thoughts mean, even though he doesn't.
In "Nuance" by Livia and Resonant, Jim's Sentinel abilities take on a new aspect, causing problems and opportunities. Sometimes you don't want to know so much about people. Sometimes people don't want you to know so much about them... which would explain why Blair is suddenly spending a lot of time ducking Jim. So what is he hiding? Once again, the blind spot we all have toward the people we think we know best keeps stopping Jim from figuring it out. There's an actual case plot in here too, a good one. Set aside an afternoon for this story.
Jane St Clair writes beautifully, but right now I'm mainly reccing her Wesley/Gunn stories for Angel. The series doesn't seem to have an official name, though so far it starts with "Chaparral" and runs through "Oceanus." I love the implied Giles/Ethan Rayne that runs through so many of these stories as a bonus. We get to watch Wesley grow in power as a sorcerer and have bone-fusingly hot (and sometimes strange) sex with Gunn. I have no complaints. Hell, no. The charmingly matter-of-fact Gunn is sexy and self-confident, while Wesley is sexy and working on it. There's grand high weirdness here, as you'd expect with sorcery involved, but there are also great character moments, like this one, which illuminates Gunn and Angel at once:
Jane St Clair also writes The Authority slash, which I'm enjoying even though I don't read the comic series. That eye for description and atmosphere that I enjoy in her other stories I've recommended are hard at work here as well. The Apollo/Midnighter story "Frozen" is an atmospheric wallop that puts you right there in the scene. I love the way their powers alter the way they look at the world. "Knight After Night" is Jack Hawksmoor/Batman (and Apollo/Midnighter) and presents one of Jack's dreams. The dream Batman is a strange one indeed, not least because he calls people "chum" in an almost affable way but still comes off as scarily fucked-up. And listen to this description of Batman and the city:
They were already on a rooftop. Rubble down below and some unidentified human remains splattered on the asphalt. The city whimpered a little, like the aftermath of a really good night of S&M. <<
Also provided is a helpful Who's Who page with pictures to let you know who these people (aside from Batman) are and what they look like.
I love road tripping, but it's rare to find a fic road trip story that works for me. The unfinished "Go" by GLAM/Devo is one of the better ones out there. This X-Men slash story uses the comic event that launched a thousand Gambit angst stories--the team abandoning him to die in Antarctica--as a reason to hit the road, and I sure can't argue with that. I have a sadistic side that eats up descriptions of the understandably traumatized Remy with a spoon and asks for more. Road partner Bobby understands that sadism, because he can't resist the urge to poke at the unusually unguarded Remy while he's weak and open. Meanwhile, Bobby uses the travel time to play with his identity, exploiting the anonymity inherent in being in places you'll only pass through once to try out new personae and habits. I've done that. Of course, he's also dealing with the growing realization that he's not straight. The atmosphere is as thick as the accent the author has Remy using here (though you get used to and even come to like the slide the accent has), while the feeling of reality at work during the traveling sequences is strong. The story starts to lose it a bit in the last two available parts, though.
Amanda Finch has one twisted sense of humor and skewed way of looking at life. At least that's the impression you get looking at her X-Files fic. My favorite story of hers has to be "The Totally Useless Consortium Follies." Nobody gets out unscathed, and you may never look at Krycek the same way again. "If They Hadn't Taken a Detour" shows that Mulder and Scully were far better off facing Mothmen in the woods than getting to the conference. Check out Amanda's Slightly Mundane episode synopses while you're there.
Laura Shapiro's "Cast Out of Heaven" is a dark and devastating look at how Scully might react to finding out that Mulder and Krycek were lovers. She takes it badly, very very badly....
Want and fear and sorrow mingled in a crazily familiar marinade, its recipe slightly altered to incorporate the ingredients at hand: his partner, pressing her gun into his back. <<
If you're reading XF, you have to read torch. Of course I'm going to recommend "Ghosts" and "Lovers" like any person with any taste. "Pyrolagnia" also tops my list, while "In Heavenly Peace" left me inconsolable. You can't go wrong with torch, but those are special picks. Her XF page is at http://strangeplaces.net/torch/xfstories.html
Then there's another pillar of XF: Te. She writes Alex Krycek like she has the keys to his mind. The dark sense of humor and attention to fine detail help too. I particularly recommend the "Love of Dead Things," "Afternoon Weirdness," and "Snows" series. Read the pitch dark "Aenima" because you must, and "Lavender and Lye" (co-written with Pares) because it's a fun, subversive time. But it's all good. <g> Her XF page is at http://teland.com/xf-index.html.
"The Heart of the Matter" by the Spike so shouldn't work for me since it involves hetsmut in addition to its Mulder/Krycek. Yet I really like it. The listed summary of "Mulder and Scully take turns, er, come to terms with Alex Krycek" says it better than I could. Spike's "Three Ways to Sunday: Prologue" snippet is good fun with Krycek and the Lone Gunmen. The Gunmen have a proposition for Krycek. Literally.
Latonya writes very sensual due South fiction that has Fraser and Ray K as the bad-ass, smart-assed, smart guys they are. "Buzz" has Fraser getting a haircut, and Ray really noticing:
Everybody knows that torch writes great X-Files fic, but she also wrote a few due South (as in three). "The Latest Party" takes a missing scene from "Good for the Soul" and runs with it hard. Poor Fraser. Poor Ray.
Ray banged his hand against the steering wheel hard enough to hurt. <<
Mia's "Indulgence" is one long squidge. A bad-ass Kowalski in all black wielding a gun? I'm there. This story stretches Ray and Fraser's character parameters a bit but does it successfully. It's nice to see a reminder that alpha wolves mate with other alpha wolves. But don't read the snippet of a different story that's placed after The End unless you want to feel like someone gave you a spoonful of dessert, then yanked the rest of it away.
Rustler's "Moving" has a number of great images, of Ray especially. I appreciate how it mentions a little bit about Ray's college experience. Plus, it does such good things with their friendship and attraction and how they can get under one another's skin in that way that only people who know you and care for you can really piss you off at times. The story feels warm, and I can't seem to describe it much better than that. I am particularly partial to this paragraph:
Magnes has that warped sense of humor that works so well for me as well as a gift for depicting Ray and Fraser in talk. The three stories I'm recommending are all dialogue, yet you know who's talking when with no trouble. The gen "Scenes from an Ice Floe" shows how much they like one another even when they're annoyed with one another. "Accessories by Peerless" has a group of possible missing scenes <g> from "Mountie on the Bounty" mainly concerning the efforts to get the ever-tightening handcuffs off Ray's wrists but also showing the slowly beginning mend of their friendship. I don't want to say much about "Love and Trust and Need" because it has some surprises, so just trust me. And its devoted Ray is so sweet.
When you drop a big stone like Victoria Metcalf into Fraser's still, deep waters, there are bound to be aftershocks... and Ray Vecchio gets caught in the riptide. There are reasons why "Acharnement" by A.C. Chapin has won so many awards and is recommended by everyone and their mothers. One reason is that it's damned good, another is that it made me read a Vecchio story to the end and sympathize with him utterly, and the other ones I want you to find out for yourself by reading it.
I wouldn't have started reading Sentinel at all if someone hadn't turned me on to Helen in Hell's fic and her site hadn't featured a random fic quote generator that led me to other authors. Helen in Hell's Jim and Blair can make themselves miserable over lengthy stories without once making the reader feel that the obstacles to them being happy together are just author-imposed instead of coming out of their personalities. You know what I mean; we've all seen the long fic stories that are dependent on the lead characters constantly bursting in at the wrong time or overhearing something not meant for them partway through, thus stupidly misinterpreting events one after the other like on Three's Company. Here Jim and Blair's difficulties in speaking to one another and their problems feel real. I have to warn you, though, that the eccentric punctuation drives the editor in me batty. Helen in Hell's personal essays are fun, and enjoy the random quote generator, I sure did.
When I started reading Sentinel fiction this summer, Mallory Klohn was one of the first authors I started with. It's good to start amongst the best. In "Life Lived Like a Mentos Commercial" you get to see why the words "Safety Dog" inspire such horror and loathing in Jim. The day and his relations with Blair keep going oh so wrong, but he gets chances to put it all right. "Kids Under Twelve Drink Free" presents Vegas as its very own ecosystem or possibly alternate reality. The casino is drawn in a particularly vivid way. The exuberant Blair POV is hilarious as Blair can't win and Jim can't lose.
Pares' "Heavy Petting" has Blair briefly getting a dog and Jim more-than-briefly getting a clue. Watching Jim get jealous and then torment the dog with Suzy-Qs is great fun. But it has its serious side, and this bit gets me every time:
"Keep you around. Keep you under my thumb, under my roof, like some kind of weird pet. It's not fair to you."
"Fair to me? Weird pet? Is this about my hair in the drain again, because--"
Turning to me, he catches my shoulders in his hands and says, "That's not what I meant." He lets go of me, waves vaguely. "I mean-- what are those animals, those ponies, that share trailers with thoroughbreds so they don't stroke out before a race? I don't want us to be like that." <<
"Cold Sweat" shows how a nightmare makes Jim's protective instincts go haywire. The point of much fic is to get them in bed together, but generally not in such an angsty, stressed-to-the-limit way. I love that, though. <g>
Everybody who watched Homicide: Life on the Street knows about Frank and Tim. It was obvious and close to canon. It's also obvious to many that they could never get together without destroying one another. Hell, their work partnership alone was ruinous at times. Of course, sometimes one wants to read that sort of thing.... Spinner's "Partners: You Don't Have to Mean It" doesn't go that far, but Frank is sorely tempted. And we know things about Tim that Frank doesn't.... Pamela Rose's "Homicide: Life on the Side" is a good look at the circumstances under which Frank will set aside his marriage vows and take Tim in. And Tim eventually understands what's really going on all too well. "The Moment" by Justine has a calculating Frank who knows it would be wrong to get involved with Tim but does it anyway out of an obsessive lust. The reader knows it's terribly wrong too but gets swept in anyway at how the victimizer/victim vibe is finally laid bare. You have to read the Frank POV descriptions of Tim. Have to.
Saundra Mitchell's gen "Gee's Clues" combines Homicide and Blue's Clues. Really. Tim singing and using cornerboy disputes about crack to teach addition is only a small piece of the wonderful insanity that ensues.
Alan Taylor has a cache of zippy gen Doctor Who drabbles on The Panatropic Network. I most enjoyed "The Pillow Moment" but other favorites are "Susan," "Stasis," and "The Mistress," all of which can be found by scrolling around on this page. A wonderfully odd sense of humor abounds, though some of the drabbles are quite poignant. But "The Pillow Moment" takes top honors from me for its twist in the tail.
Finding Doctor Who fic I like online isn't helped by the way that many people think one of my favorite companion characters is scum. And he is a lot of times, but there's more to him than that. The problem comes in that so few authors write him, so I can't be all philosophical when I walk away from a story that I feel gets him completely wrong by saying, "Oh, the next portrayal will be better." Because usually there is no next portrayal, or the next one disagrees with me even worse.
So I'm happy that A.C. Chapin seems to have something of a soft spot for Turlough too. "Opening" is a Doctor Who/Books of Magic crossover that depicts everybody--the Doctor, Turlough, Tegan, and Books of Magic's Tim Hunter--very well. Chapin captures the fear, twitchiness, desperation, and feeling of aloneness I always saw in Turlough, while also going into what hell public school can be, especially for an alien exiled from his home and family. Turlough's sympathetic yet still caustic, occasionally creepy, and prone to running away, leaving others in the lurch. <g> I appreciated this:
Turlough and Tegan snipe and mistrust one another and show occasional moments of affection to one another just as they're supposed to. How about this POV from Tim Hunter, who's nicely sharp and seen-it-all while still being a kid:
Then there's "It's Got Three Sides," which presents a different but possible Tegan/Turlough relationship and makes its point in a few economical but effective paragraphs.
I'm recommending almost all of Ten Buck Fucks, a Hard Core Logo archive. There are a lot of great authors there as well as many views of Joe and Billy and what makes them love and hate and fuck and fight one another. This fandom just lures good authors in somehow, not that I'm complaining.
A.C. Chapin again? Yup. Hey, it pays to write in many fandoms, and who else out there is writing She-Wolf of London fic? It was a good show until the writers insured that the sexual tension remained unresolved by suddenly, out of nowhere, having Randy's curse be triggered by feelings of sexual attraction when the show became Love and Curses and moved its setting to LA. They also made her werewolf self ridiculous looking after that. But I enjoyed Randy's character, and I loved Ian Matheson. (With the show over, we never are going to see the evil twin brother he occasionally mentioned. Damn.) When I saw Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer years later, my first thought was that he was an Ian clone. Anyway, the fic involved is called "Sleeping Habits" and deals with the nights Ian has to help Randy chain and lock herself up before she changes. Watch two people all but bleed from love, desperation, frustrated lust, and ever-growing despair. The little details of this story kill:
So I said I was sorry, and he didn't leave because I guess times like these he knows he has to be stubborn for both of us. He sat right in the doorway, because we haven't passed stupid into dead quite yet, and we talked. We always have our best conversations like that. <<
Laura Shapiro made a pairing I usually find very unlikely work in her het Buffy the Vampire Slayer PWP "Zipless." I really love this Joyce Summers, which is some achievement. As for the person she's matched with? Not telling. It would spoil some of the fun.
Te also does the multi-fandom thing and does it well. Her Buffy the Vampire Slayer story "Mix" shows Xander finding some new friends in a place he never expected. He needs them:
God, he couldn't take the smugness, and he knew full well that even if Willow tried, really *tried* to avoid doing it it would be there just the same. Just under the skin. In the twitch of a smile that really wanted to happen.
Willow had impulse control problems, too. Hers just tended to be safer. Better. <<
Then there's Fight Club, with nihilism, despair, bruised innocence, and slash so thick you need a serrated knife to saw into it. The Brat Queen really gets these guys, so I'm recommending all of the Brat Queen's stories at the Fight Club Slash Archive except "Snippets of a Life in Fracture," which didn't do it for me. Most interesting is that these stories are suggestive of who and what these two guys really are yet most of the time could also pass as a portrayal of a more normal (heh!) relationship unless the author specifies. Shadow Omega's "I Remember Everything" is also there and shows the narrator and Tyler having a final shakedown talk/confrontation right before the big bang. It's the love there that hurts worst of all.
torch comes through with Good Omens slash, of all things. Captures the book very well, and listening to the angel and demon in their polite and pleasant battle of the wits is great fun. It's called "And When He Falls," and I highly recommend it.
And here's De Orakle again, this time with the Kinks series from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It starts with poor, innocent Cassidy finding himself unexpectedly turned on by Munch talking about sex acts he'd never even thought of before in "Auto-exhaustive Asphyxiation" and goes on from there (through "Nappy-philia," "Basilexia," "Feta Cheese," and "Pterodactyl-philia"). They don't even get together until a ways into the series, but the slow build-up never fails to be... stimulating. I love the way the writing shows how hot small, subtle things can be, and Munch is sheer, fun sexual evil in this series. <g>
He's also Munch-as-usual: