At least once a week, maybe more, I am going to post a list of fanfics I recommend for various reasons. Every list will be themed, some your common themes like By Genre, some... odder, like today's theme. This is as much for my edification as your own, after all. :)
These would be fanfics that are interesting enough to dig into my subconscious so that I never forget them and keep going back to reread them. Usually I like most everything about it, the set-up and the characterizations, but find that I wish at least one part hadn't happened the way it did. So I dream about alternate endings or decisions, twists in the narrative that could result in the story going a different way. Like my brain is writing its own remixes for them that I could never do for real. These are a sample of those types of stories. They are all fantastic, well-written and I fully recommend anyone read them - you might even like them more than I do!
1. Taming of the Guide by elaine - The Sentinel fandom, slash, Jim/Blair pairing, NC17, trigger warning:rape
Jim Ellison is Sentinel Prime of the planet of Cascade, and desperately in need of a Guide. He finds one in a most unlikely candidate; and then his problems really begin.
I've got two top-notch The Sentinel stories that I always end up rereading and dreaming about but for years and years kept not bookmarking them because something about them niggled at me. Eventually, after having to hunt this one down last time, I went and bookmarked it on my Pinboard. I love this story; love the worldbuilding of the futuristic space AU, the characterizations, and the depth of the complexity in the relationship. The characters are tied together, through no fault of their own, but unable to be at peace.
My issue with the fic is that Blair rather abruptly just decides that's not good enough and he's going to get over it and that's that. Sure, the ending provided does have a sense of resolution and that's probably good enough for most folks. But for me, it always rankled a little as being too easy - wouldn't it have been better for Blair (and Jim) to have gotten counselling? Taken some time to grow and get to know one another as friends first? Hurt feelings don't just disappear, they have consequences and after everything he's been through Blair is entitled to his.
2. Moonhunt by Dolimir - The Sentinel fandom, gen, bonding-fic, PG13
A young shaman is caught out in the open during a moonhunt and his life is forever changed.
Given the first story, this one's probably not a surprise. Easily one of the most recced fics of this fandom, it is admittedly fabulous. The chase in the beginning is rich and suspenseful, the worldbuilding subtle and deep. In all respects, a wonderful story. Many people rec this story specifically because of the way the author handles the bonding, the respect she gives each character's strength. But... I think Jim cheated by rigging the challenge the way he did and hate that gets away with it. My number one fantasy for an alternate path of this fic? Dark.
Blair, knowing he has no chance of success once he realises Ellison invited the entire world to the challenge grounds, knowing that even if he did succeed in defeating the Sentinel one-on-one that the thousands of people watching would never really let him leave alive, still chooses to walk in just as he does in the fic: calmly and proudly. Except in my dream version, when Ellison makes his plea to coerce him, Blair doesn't give in and surrender. And his agreeing to the bonding was a surrender, even with Ellison on his knees, make no mistake - Blair was too good a person to deny everyone when it was only his life at stake. But I really wanted him to deny them! I want him to look them all in the eye and make some quiet compelling speech about how unjust the system is, how they had no right to do what they did, and how he refuses to be a party to it. And just as he finishes making an impassioned speech live on camera... some long-distance sniper shoots him, right there in front of everyone. The twist? Blair knew it was coming. He'd arranged ages ago to ensure he was never captured alive. His mom knew his wishes and when the Sentinels made the challenge so public, she knew how to arrange his wish be carried out. Freedom or Death. Blair becomes a martyr for Guide Rights, spurring a revolution in the biased system, and the Sentinels see an end to their reign of Moonhunting.
3. It Goes Without Saying by ZehWulf - Teen Wolf fandom, slash, Derek/Stiles pairing, NC17
“Well,” Danny says after a few minutes of heavy silence. “I guess you have to ask yourself how badly do you want him to be pack? If you really want to connect with someone—anyone—you can. You just have to figure out the right connector.”
“You guys, I figured it out,” Scott enthuses. “A true alpha’s powers come from love and acceptance. We just need to love and accept Derek. Body, mind, and soul.”
“Scotty,” Stiles says slowly, “are you suggesting…? What are you suggesting.”
“You heard the alpha,” Danny drawls. “We need to love and accept Derek’s body. And mind and soul.”
This fic has so much angsty promise to it. Misunderstandings that are actually understandable to occur because no one ever clarifies anything. But in the fic itself, the truth eventually does come out, Stiles apparently is immune to humiliation and goes with righteous anger on Derek's behalf instead (which, okay, was admittedly in-character and kinda cool), and then the talking portion dissolves into sex and cue the pat 'happy ending'. The epilogue is just... unnecessary. And kind of squicky, frankly.
In my headcanon version of this fic, Stiles never learns the truth. Eventually, he opts to quit the pack because he can't handle it anymore, but doesn't want to ruin it for the others because he's not a closed-minded prude and he sees how everyone else seems to be thriving with the 'pack bonding'. The rest of the pack never realises the mistake, and there are some hurt feelings. Stiles accepts that and tries to stay friends if not as close, but eventually goes off to college to experience some healthy relationships. Which is something he needs, because Scott repeatedly fails at being a Good Friend and this Lydia flat-out abandons him (I'm still mad at her!) because being his anchor was too hard for her to deal with. Stiles needs a chance to experience a bigger better world. It'd only be afterwards, when Stiles returns a mature young man who knows himself and his own limits, that the truth finally comes out. Maybe then, and only then when he and Derek are on equal footing could they come together again. Or maybe not, because they can never get past the initial false start. That'd be fine with me too.
4. cool story, bro by drunktuesdays - Teen Wolf fandom, slash, Derek/Stiles pairing, NC17
Based on a truly ridiculous conversation with Kalpurna about a hypothetical Stilinski Twins situation that ended up sounding something like:
“FUUUUUUCK, is it a sweet valley high situation where Stiles is very aware that his twin is way more attractive and confident than he is, EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE IDENTICAL, and he always ends up with the hotter significant others and more friends and Stiles guesses that's why he's attracted to the pack at first, because it's something that's just his, not his twin's too. But of course, Stiles's twin gets bit and now he's part of Derek's pack, and Derek doesn't snap at him like he snaps at Stiles, never slams him into things, fucking FIGURES, STILES'S TWIN GETS EVERYTHIIIIIIIING.”
I think I like this story more for the idea of it than the way it actually goes. According to the majority of the comments, this means I Didn't Get It. So what if they are twins? Have you ever met real twins? Even if they physically look alike, their personalities are usually quite different enough to make them noticeably distinct people. Same is true here for Stiles and Brad, as they are in fact diametrically Not Similar At All. Stiles has every right to his feelings of inferiority - Brad and the entire world reinforce them daily.
I really wanted Stiles to just say 'Fuck it!' and stop trying to compete with superperfect!Brad. Brad is a jerk. I really really didn't like it that Brad not only still wins everything in the end, but he also manages to turn Stiles feelings around and make it all about himself and blame Stiles for his own unhappiness. He's a terrible person, and everyone in this fic that sided with him sucks too. (Derek is one of the few who doesn't give up on Stiles.) In my headcanon of this fic-verse, Stiles accepts he'll never have a place with Brad around to overshadow him in every way and moves on with his life to find somewhere he can be appreciated for himself. He needs to get out of that town and find someplace to shine on his own. Maybe, just to give it the Happy Ever After people always want, Derek could follow him? That would work okay. Then in ten years time they could go back for a visit and show off their happy family while Brad is still wallowing like a shallow teenager.
5. Raiders of the Seven Systems by ltlj (aka Martha Wilson) - Stargate: Atlantis fandom with stealth Firefly crossover, gen, AU, PG13
AU. John Sheppard leads a crew of Athosian space pirates in the Pegasus Galaxy. They rescue Earth refugees Rodney McKay and Sam Carter, but then things get complicated.
John Sheppard the Space Pirate is awesome. Teyla, Ronon, Zoe, all the amazing Athosian warrior women were awesome. The plot is fun and adventurous and I generally really like this story. It's my favourite of the author's.
But there's something that just doesn't feel right about John deciding to stay on Atlantis. Sure, he likes the city, but there's nothing that changed the way he thinks of the SGC people. On board the ship he was ready to just leave the Athosians and go on his own. Nothing changed from that, not even dealing with Kolya. It feels out of character for this version of John to just go, "Okay, let's stay and give it a shot." He's not that injured or tired to just give in, and it has never been in his personality to think Good Things Just Happen to him. In my dreams, he does in fact set off on his own while Teyla and the Athosians stay behind to build relationship with the Earthers. Maybe Ronon accompanies him to watch over him, and eventually when he sees that the SGC folks prove what they claim about not being his enemy he wanders back in. Like a stray cat. Lured back in on his own time, not trapped into staying.
If you've read this far, you may have picked up on a commonality of my dream versions: consequences. I like it best when actions have meaning, when hurt feelings have lingering effects and happy endings aren't always guaranteed. Sure, I read fanfic for the fun of it, no doubt, but I still like realism in my escapism. Conflict Resolution isn't always an easy task. Sometimes it takes a lot more than a few lines of conversation to make up for a problem, even if that problem was all a big mistake.
6. one foot in (and one foot back) by kehinki - Avengers fandom, slash, Steve/Tony pairing, NC17
This isn't the worst thing that's ever happened to Tony, but it's in the top five.
When Steve and Tony first touch they Imprint on each other as instant soulmates, and surprise! It's not actually a good thing. They don't like each other, but they are stuck together. They deal. Eventually they have sex because they can't with anybody else. They do not fall in love, but they come to an accord and make the best of things. Life goes on.
Yes, please, can I have me some more of this kinda thing? No instant fixes, feelings are relevant, and the characters manage to deal without compromising themselves. I like it! All the kudos to the author for their bold take on the Soulmate-trope. My dreams about this one are perfectly happy with the way it goes. :)
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