Subject: For the Love of the Game by metisket (PG-13)

Title: For the Love of the Game
Fandom: Katekyou Hitman Reborn
Pairing: Yamamoto Takeshi/ Hayato Gokudera
Categories: Character Exploration
Length: Medium (8000 words)
Warnings: Violence

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] metisket
Author Website: Dreamwidth AO3 Tumblr

Author’s Summary:
In which Yamamoto wanders through life smiling, joking, and terrifying bystanders.

Review:

How could exploring the character who joined a criminal organisation by asking seriously if he could play the mafia game be anything less than gripping?

Yamamoto is introduced as a popular schoolboy with a devotion to baseball. He is virtually a beacon of normality compared to the flashily murderous people Reborn introduces to Tsuna’s life. Yet, he greets these people with a cheerful smile, while Tsuna quivers in far. His father may be an sword-wielding assassin, but Yamamoto’s blithe unconcern is still pretty odd.

For the Love of the Game looks at how a post-canon Yamamoto might be affected by his experiences. How does he relate to the people in his life? What makes him afraid? Why is he still smiling?

As always, Metisket’s writing is very engrossing, giving a fascinating look into the POV character’s reaction to what is going on and an equally fascinating portrayal of the people they are interacting with.

This is set post-series, so if you’re not familiar with Katekyou Hitman Reborn, you are unlikely to follow what is happening at all. (Katekyou Hitman Reborn is not particularly deep, but it takes great pleasure in coming up with unlikely concepts and failing to justify them in any way, which stacks into being quite complicated.) For the Love of the Game isn’t more violent than canon, but it treats the violence a lot more seriously.


For the Love of the Game

Hold It All At Bay by psocoptera (NC-17)

Title: Hold It All At Bay
Fandom: Check Please!
Pairing: Eric Bittle/Jack Zimmermann
Categories/Genres: Alternate Universe, Psychic abilities, Soul Bond, Drama, Romance, Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Length: Epic (49957 words)
Warnings: Consent issues by way of emotional projection

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] psocoptera
Author Website: psocoptera

Summary:

The theory of extrapolative synchronization of the mirror neurons was debunked back when he was still in his teens, so Jack is reluctant to mention that he can smell Bitty's pies baking from across campus.

Review:

As odd as it may sound, I really enjoy a little realism in my fantasy. Not realism in terms of how the fantasy world's people behave, but realism in the scientific sense. If a fantasy setting has magic, then there should be rules that the magic follows. If there are mermaids, then it would only make sense for them to have gills. And et cetera.

psocoptera takes the soul bond trope and dissects it through two differing perspectives: the scientific and the spiritual. Jack, who is extremely empathic, takes a controversial medication to dull his receptiveness to others' emotions. Bitty was taught as a child to redirect his attention in order to control his emotions, as they tended to reach out and influence others'. The contrast of their respective regimens alone is, for me, the most fascinating aspect of a story with a vast but lightly explored backstory.

Contrast in general is the name of the game in Hold It All At Bay. Not only do Bitty and Jack's upbringings contrast, but their reactions to their respective feelings differ in the extreme. They even contrast with their canonical and fanonical characterizations. Though Jack is canonically prone to anxiety, Bitty calms and centers him in psocoptera's story, and Jack accepts what he feels for Bitty with considerably more ease than Bitty does. A pivotal portion of the romantic plot is actually focused on Bitty's anxiety regarding Jack and the possibility that Bitty's forceful ability has accidentally forced an emotional attachment that Jack believed to be genuine.

The alternating POVs provide vast insight into Bitty and Jack's respective thoughts, but I found the outside POVs to be especially charming. They're well written with distinctive voices that give a strong sense of the personality behind them. The original characters that are introduced have flavor and depth, and while I personally disagree with psocoptera's decision to make Shitty not believe in ESMN, him and the other canon characters read so remarkably true to Ngoizi's vision.

Hold It All At Bay

Running on Air by Eleventy7 (PG-13)

Title: Running on Air
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Categories/Genres: Cold Case, Mystery, Drama
Length: 74,885
Warnings:

Author/Artist on AO3: Eleventy7

Summary: Draco Malfoy has been missing for three years. Harry is assigned the cold case and finds himself slowly falling in love with the memories he collects.

Review: This is a fic that makes your heart ache and will be with you till the end of time. Nostalgia and Wistfulness packed in a bottle. It hits you right in your chest, so subtly dragging you back to times in your life when you’ve isolated yourself because it’s easier to run away then let other people see your pain.

It honestly makes you pine for a car of your own and to drive forever. It’s a fic about finding yourself and how it’s a journey all of us have to face. It’s a beautiful fic with a happy ending.

Running on Air

Shadows in the River Fog series by NoHolds (PG-15)

Title: Shadows in the River Fog series
Fandom: Dishonored
Pairing: Gen
Categories/Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Family, Violence, Low Chaos
Length: Medium (13,183 words)
Warnings: Canonical character death, child abuse

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: NoHolds

Summary:

Corvo Attano continues to defy expectation.

Review:

Joining the ranks of many similar video games, Dishonored's Corvo Attano is a silent protagonist. He's a blank slate with no reactions beyond what the player chooses to assign to him. Whether he massacres his way through the game or puts every single NPC he can find into a sleeper hold is utterly up to the player's discretion, though the end is, uncommonly, influenced by the means.

What NoHolds does is generate Corvo's personality, mannerisms, and even posture all from scratch. She invents him, fills him in like a coloring page even as she makes him suit her image. It truly is a marvelous thing to see.

Each story in the series is from the perspective of a different character, and each in their turn describes Corvo through the filter of their experiences with him. Samuel, a stranger, looks on in curiosity. Daud reflects on his guilt. Emily's soft, kind memories are torn ragged by what she experiences at the hands of her kidnappers and what she is told by them about Corvo. Through each tinted lens they provide, the reader is able to glean something new about NoHold's imagining of Corvo, and the picture each glimpse paints is a marvelous portrait indeed.

Shadows in the River Fog

#kidsthesedays by wsswatson (PG)

Title: #kidsthesedays
Fandom: N/A
Pairing: Gen
Categories/Genres: Time Skip, Historical, Drama, Family
Length: Medium (6049 words)
Warnings: Some homophobic and racist language

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: wsswatson

Summary:

A play about parents, children and the passing of time.

Review:

I recall, in high school, learning about European immigrants coming in droves to the United States in the mid-19th century. They were the victims of severe discrimination and racism at the time, and as a person of mixed heritage living in this current era, it shocked me to consider the idea of white people being racist toward other white people. How could such a thing be possible, when in this modern day it seems to be all whites against all non-whites?

Perhaps someday, if we are fortunate, when my children are grown, my grandchildren will come to me, bewildered by the idea that people of color were discriminated against.

But as #kidsthesedays so unsubtly points out, perhaps it will be so because my children's and grandchildren's generations will have found some other group to discriminate against. Perhaps the media's talking heads will have found some new thing to blame for massacres perpetrated by 'troubled' youth. Perhaps fathers will have found some new aspect of their daughter's wardrobe or behavior to be distressed about, or some socially aware young man or woman will defend the rights of extra terrestrials to their xenophobic parent.

Perhaps life will continue on, cycling endlessly through variations of a thousand familiar themes, even after we have evolved beyond the scientific classification of "homo sapiens."

Perhaps that is the best we can hope for.

#kidsthesedays

Breaker of Horses by Sineala (PG-13)

Title: Breaker of Horses
Fandom: Marvel comics (616, main continuity)
Pairing: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark
Categories: slave fic, AU, drama, romance, angst
Length: Epic [47943 words]
Warnings: interspecies romance between human and centaur

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] sineala
Author Website: Sineala's AO3

Review:
Author’s Summary: What do you do when the Roman Empire you were raised to love consigns you to the sands of the arena? Antonius is a prince of the Dacians, captured in war and sold as a gladiator. He yearns for his freedom. Stephanos -- the last living centaur -- is his fellow slave and trainer. Centuries old, disillusioned by a Rome that has become a shadow of itself, Stephanos has all but given up on life... until he meets Antonius, and both of their lives are forever changed.


This is an amazing story that was written for this year’s Reverse Bang over at the [livejournal.com profile] cap_ironman community and was inspired by some amazing artwork of gladiator!Tony and centaur!Steve. I might preface this with the fact that I’m not usually good with AU’s that radically change the setting like this, but this fic totally won me over and intrigued me from the get go. It’s hard to write a setting like this convincingly and at the same time keep this characters who they are and [livejournal.com profile] sineala does justice to both. She puts so many awesome details about Roman culture in there and then manages to sneak in the comic references right in on top of that. I think my favorite thing how Stephanos’ story parallels Steve’s super soldier history.

It’s a wonderful adventure story with some nice action and fight scenes (and it’s obvious how much research about gladiators went into those), but even more than this it’s the story of “Antonius”, who very much still is Tony at the heart of it, from privileged childhood to the pit of the arena and his fight against having his freedom and dignity taken from him, making friends (which involves meeting "Avengers" in gladiator guise) and who doesn't give in to circumstances. The romance is a delicious and wonderful cherry on top. The emotional scenes are vibrant and hit me right where it hurt sometimes and the character arcs that unfold in the story alone are making this a worthy read. The angsty themes are running high with this one, which with the themes of slavery and fights to the death in the arena isn’t surprising. But there are also quieter scenes of friendship and blossoming, uncertain romance to balance that out.

And above all it’s just so well written.

As the author points out the fic contains no centaur/human sex, so this doesn’t need a right out bestiality warning. There is the interspecies romance and kissing, though, that not everyone might enjoy. Those who are here for the xenoromance though might be glad to know that the relationship is consummated in a NC-17 sequel fic.

Breaker of Horses

Twenty Years of Stealing my Food by HWShipper (NC-17)

Title: Twenty Years of Stealing my Food
Fandom: House M.D.
Pairing: Gregory House/James Wilson
Categories/Genres: Cheating, Relationships,
Length: 103,374
Warnings:Lots of cheating and adultery

Author/Artist on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] hwshipper
Author/Artist on AO3: HWShipper

Summary: A backstory taking place over twenty years, from how House and Wilson met all the way to canon.

Review: This fic is certainly not lacking in details. Want to know the huge amount of unheard story the show didn’t even try to capitalize on? This fic tells about how Wilson and House met way before the show says they did and how they stayed friends and more while everything else moves on around them.
This fic is rough and mean which is what makes the characters so believable. House is his usual self but this fic makes a point out of showing that Wilson is just as bad if not worse in a lot of ways while still maintaining his goody two shoe side which had to be tricky to do.
I doubt you will find a fic with as much cheating in it as this one but at the same time you won’t find a fic with this kind of faithfulness either. Despite the fact neither have moments of monogamy that last more than a few weeks they are constantly open with each other even when it hurts both of them and there are so many moments where their love for each other shines through.
This fic also has many side stories any my favorite is about Wilson’s two twin nieces and how they perceive House and Wilson’s relationship. They first see them together when they are very young and throughout all Wilson’s wives have wanted the two to be out about their relationship. They love Wilson but their reactions to House are so funny and adorable because they easily see through his scathing words to what he really means and like him for it.

Twenty Years of Stealing my Food

Internment Camp 317 by Jewels

Title: Internment Camp 317
Fandom: Star Trek: Deep Space 9
Pairing: gen
Categories: action/adventure(ish), hurt/comfort(ish), team, friendship
Length: medium, ~9,000 words
Warnings: none

Author on Livejournal: [livejournal.com profile] bjewelled
Author Website: Bjewelled

Summary: Julian Bashir spent a month in Internment Camp 317 as a prisoner of the Dominion, and he never really spoke much about it later...

Review: “You are going to help us,” Tain said, implacably. “I can understand your reluctance to reveal how you are going to help us, but you really don't have a choice. While I've been able to secure the hardware components needed for transmission, I still need to decrypt the code walls around the power system so that I can divert sufficient energy for our needs. That's where you come in.”

Julian frowned. “I'm a Doctor,” he said, “Not a mathematician.”

“Come now,” Tain said, faint annoyance audible in his voice, “You and I both know you have certain hidden talents which you seem to be rather embarrassed about.”


So this fic is a few years old but I read it for the first time the other day, following someone else's bookmarks, and it rocks my socks because it ties the genetic enhancements thread to canon. Or at least, as much so as I think it's ever possible to tie that into canon, and into Dr Bashir's characterisation, given how in 4 and a half seasons canon had never so much as tipped a sly nod towards it until it sprung that upon the viewership in what generally always seemed like a one-off episode where continuity had left the house, street, and was heading way out of the quadrant.

Martok and Tain and the rest of the prison camp inmates are nicely written and the fic hinges on its capacity to illustrate Dr Bashir's growing relationships within the little group. In fact, of Julian interacting with a diverse bunch of species with differing points of view, who aren't so much interested in the rigid point of view of the Federation on... certain very personal subjects that might be considered illegal and taboo.

It feels odd to label it 'team' fic when it's not the DS9 team in question, but nonetheless, it's about how this little group become knit together by necessity to survive and eventually escape. And how Dr Bashir gains an odd freedom, of sorts, that he's never actually had among his Federation compatriots, in the midst of all this strife.

Internment Camp 317

The Fruits of Hades by Lesserstorm (PG-15)

Title:The Fruits of Hades
Fandom: Greek and Roman mythology
Pairing: Hades/Persephone
Categories/Genres: Mythology, Drama, Romance
Length: Medium (4246 words)
Warnings: Non-explicit mentions of prior rape to unnamed characters

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] lesserstorm
Author Website: Lesserstorm

Summary:

Hades has his reasons. Persephone has hers.

Review:

Greek and Roman mythology has always bored me when it didn't faintly irritate me. The Fruits of Hades, with Persephone as its cunning protagonist, has crystallized in my mind why that is by way of a perpendicular contrast. On the surface, it intersects with canon, fitting into the traditional narrative. But although it seems as though the instigator of the narrative is Hades, things are not quite as they appear.

All the actors within this fic, from the lowly nymph Persephone to the god of gods Zeus, are chillingly mercenary in this adaptation of the myth. Each acts according to their own selfish desires vis-à-vis Persephone, who is objectively in the weakest and most vulnerable position of the lot. But fortune favors the bold, and through patience and deft cunning, she manages not only to evade a terrible fate but put herself into a position of power that gives her the autonomy she previously was robbed of.

The Fruits of Hades

Sinking Ships by standinginanicedress [Nc-17]

Title: Sinking Ships
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Pairing: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski
Categories: Angst, AU,Slash, First Time, Drama, Hurt/comfort, Marriage of Convenience.
Length: Super! Epic [106646 words]
Warnings: Racism, Non-Con Elements. Arranged Marriege, Slavery, Werewolves as the dominant class, Abuse, Exposure to Cold and Hunger, Sub-Human Life Conditions.

Author Website: standinginanicedress(on AO3)

Summary: Derek Hale has never met a human before.
Throughout his life, he's probably encountered, give or take, a hundred or so. A mere hundred human beings in his twenty-three years walking around on earth, compared to the millions of weres he's seen. And, even then, encountered them he might have, but met? Not even close.
He's had his dry cleaning handed off to him by a mousy looking human girl in a shirt three sizes too big for her with huge eyes and shaking hands while a beta werewolf yelled at her in the background for being too skittish (wonder why that could possibly be), he's walked past teenage humans cleaning windows and sweeping pebbles off of sidewalks, he's had the door opened up for him by older humans in pristine uniforms outside of restaurants – but never, never once, has he stuck his hand out to a human and said hi, my name is…
He could probably count on one hand the number of times he's even been made aware that a human within a hundred feet of him even had a name. [original summary]

Review: Oh, this fic is incredibly throat closing and hope to let that feeling die. It’s a hard fic to read, because is full of feelings and so realistic in portraying a classist society base on slavery, that almost cuts you heart. This AU shows us a world where the werewolves are known and the ruling class, and the humans are bred for their entertainment, becoming pets and slaves.

Stiles is still a human and also his father, Derek, his family, Scott, Allison and the Argents are all weres. In this context, I wish the fic showed more humans, because pretty much all canon characters are weres and we only see Stiles side. On the other hand, there is so much detail and variety in the sorrows he passed, we get an ample vision of what might happen to the other humans.

While the Argents are certainly opposition to the Hales, the true villain in this fic is Talia Hale, and I confess I had a hard time believing her character; the reason being, I always seen Talia as a good alpha, someone that cared for her children and someone that wanted them happy - she is not like this in the fic! The Hales are highly dysfunctional and there aren’t many fuzzy feelings of family.

Derek gets Stiles because of a maneuver in Talia’s career and he and Stiles start a relationship that is fake, but goes on to evolve to a careful friendship and later a romantic one. The highlights of this fic are confined mostly to Derek and Stiles, and one brief scene with the Sheriff, but there is plenty of interaction with the other characters.

This is a fic to be revolted by and at the same time to make you feel sad and make you think. Proceed with caution.


Sinking Ships

Choose Well, Choose Wisely, Choose Again by tuesday (PG)

Title: Choose Well, Choose Wisely, Choose Again
Fandom: Long Live the Queen (video game)
Pairing: Gen
Categories/Genres: Repeating time, Drama, Introspection
Length: Short (1578 words)
Warnings: Canonical (repeated) character death

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] tuesdayfic
Author Website: tuesday

Summary:

Elodie knew that a princess had only one chance to rule wisely. Elodie knew wrong.

Review:

Long Live the Queen is a peculiar little simulation game that takes place in a magical kingdom, following the forty weeks leading up to the fifteenth birthday and subsequent coronation of the Princess Elodie. She begins as a sheltered young girl, utterly unprepared for the duties that await her. Over the course of the forty weeks, the player chooses what skills Elodie should learn from her tutors and selects her reactions to events. If the proper skills and responses are chosen, Elodie lives to her fifteenth birthday and becomes Queen. If not, Elodie dies. And dies, and dies, and dies.

Choose Well, Choose Wisely, Choose Again presents an Elodie who becomes conscious of the repetitive nature of the game over the course of her resurrections and subsequent 'playthroughs'. Most interestingly, tuesday incorporates the game's unusual mechanics into the in-universe lore and subtly molds the functionally immortal Elodie into an avatar of the gamer who plays the game again and again in search of perfection.

Choose Well, Choose Wisely, Choose Again

of the nature of the wound by buchanan (NC-17)

Title: of the nature of the wound
Fandom: Check, Please!/Hockey RPF
Pairing: Eric Bittle/Jack Zimmermann, Larissa “Lardo” Duan/Shitty Knight, Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews, Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin, Past Kent Parson/Jack Zimmermann
Categories/Genres: Angst, AU, Drama, Epistolary, Established Relationship, First Time, Fluff, Friendship, Humor, Romance
Length: Long (33936 words)
Warnings: Homophobic language by hockey players

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: buchanan

Summary:

His first year in the NHL isn't easy, but Jack has spent his entire life playing through the hurt.

Review:

Note: While Check, Please! doesn't require knowing anything about hockey beyond the fact that it's a team sport played on ice, of the nature of the wound does require a functional knowledge of professional hockey and how its seasons are scheduled. Being a hockey RPF crossover, this fic does incorporate real hockey players, and knowledge of those players provides useful context for their roles in the fic.

A lot of the Check, Please! fic I read tends to be of the lighter variety. Humorous and/or cute, and generally threaded through with the pervasive sense of, 'oh, you adorable boys'. Considering how light-hearted the canon is, it's probably not surprising that the fanfiction I choose to read follows in that direction.

of the nature of the wound is not one of those fics. It's also not an easy fic to get through, namely because it focuses on Jack's anxieties about being a closeted professional hockey player. You could, uncharitably if honestly, call it Jack's downward spiral of anxiety and loneliness.

buchanan's fic exemplifies the proverb “it is always darkest just before the dawn” in that it feels very much like the very beginning of a story that we are not (yet) privy to, not just in terms of Jack and Bitty's burgeoning relationship, but also the NHL as a whole upon the coming out of one of its most recognized hockey duos. Hopefully more of that will unfold in buchanan's expected sequel.

And now that I've given you a lot of reasons not to read the fic, I suppose I should mention why I am actually reccing it: buchanan does a fantastic job of weaving the fluffy and fictional Check, Please! microcosm into the much colder real world, where people change and move past who they were and sometimes grow apart, and where they succeed, fail, break, and struggle to mend what is broken. Jack Zimmermann does not feel like a fictional character as buchanan writes him. Nor does Eric Bittle, nor even Chowder, who is something of a caricature even in the comic's canon. It truly is a testament to buchanan's grasp of emotional complexity that I clung, riveted until the end, in spite of the fic's darker tone and truly annoying ten-line section breaks. (No, seriously, keep a finger on the space bar or page down key.)

of the nature of the wound

The Book of Vices and Virtues by MSylvatica (NC-17)

Title: The Book of Vices and Virtues series
Fandom: D. Gray-man
Pairing: Allen/Kanda, Kanda/Alma, Allen/OMC, Allen/OFC
Genres: AU, Romance, First-time, Adventure, Drama, Historical, Prostitution, Hurt/Comfort, Post-Canon, Pre-Canon
Length: Super-epic (214,460 words)
Warnings: Attempted rape, past and present child abuse, child prostitution, dub-con

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: MSylvatica @ AO3

Author's Summary:
Story 1: In which Allen travels from India to England in search of Black Order Headquarters.

Story 2: "Whenever there is hatred between two people, there is a bond of brotherhood of some kind" - Oscar Wilde, /De Profundis/

Review:
This lovely and long series contains two stories. The first is an AU version of Allen's journey from India to the Black Order headquarters in England. The second is a post-canon story about Kanda, Allen and Johnny being on the run.

The series has a pleasing circular nature. All the people that Allen meets or reunites with on his way to the Order are met again by Kanda on their way from the Order. While the first story is firmly a study of Allen, his character and his bisexuality, the second story is definitely Kanda's. As he asks around about Allen's character in an attempt to understand him better, he also gains much more knowledge of himself, both as he is now and as he was before he was reborn.

I did feel it got a little too philosophical in the middle, dragging the pace down, but I'm always impatient for the happy ending to happen. And it does, in a sweet, hot, and in character way. A great read.

The Book of Vices and Virtues series

Two Plants and a Girl by Thunk (PG-15)

Title: Two Plants and a Girl
Fandom: Trigun
Pairing: Meryl Stryfe/Millions Knives, Vash the Stampede/Milly Thompson
Categories/Genres: Action/Adventure, Amnesia, Angst, AU, Drama, Family, Fluff, Friendship, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Kids, Post-Canon, Pregnancy, Romance
Length: Epic (74,073 words)
Warnings: Minor (OC) character death, Non-descriptive mention of child molestation, Descriptions of gore

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: Thunk

Summary:

Meryl becomes more important to Vash than he wants to admit. But Knives sees it. Knives capitalizes on it. But he finds it increasingly difficult to exploit the Insurance girl, for reasons far too old, and not buried deep enough.

Review:

I'm not entirely sure how I've gone this long without reccing this fic. Probably because it's posted on FF.net. No, don't run away! It's good, I swear!

Two Plants and a Girl is an AU fusion of the Trigun anime and the backstory that's revealed in the manga. It picks up from where the anime leaves off, with Knives slowly recovering from his fight against Vash in the anime's finale under the watchful eyes and tender mercies of Vash, Meryl, and Milly.

What I really appreciate about this fic is that Thunk knows their stuff. The bits and pieces of background and worldbuilding incorporated into the fic are sourced from the manga and thoroughly contemplated, providing a much more nuanced and believable Knives than the anime's straight-up-psycho interpretation. He's still an unrepentant asshole, but his canonical actions have weight and meaning and consequence that don't sit easy with him even a century later.

Thunk also presents a reasonable and quite logical plan to give Knives and Vash what they both want, pushing compromise rather than conflict in an anime/manga that basically centers around the conflict between the two. That's not to say that Thunk sucks all the friction out of their relationship, however.

Thunk also deals with Knives' massive damage with deft storytelling. The pacing of the story, which jumps over various stretches of time, can make it seem contrived on occasion, but the emotional depth of the events and the consequent growth of Knives' shriveled little soul signal to the reader a rocky but definitely substantial progress that is satisfying to watch.

There are some moments that are oddly OOC, mostly related to the forced early attraction between Knives and Meryl, and the very end, when Knives is so overcome with guilt and grief that he becomes a weepy parody of himself, but barring those, the interaction between the two is pretty damn great.

If you ever watched the Trigun anime and clicked away from the finale wondering, well, now what?, you absolutely read this fic. Yeah, I know it's on FF.net, but would I ever lead you astray?

Don't answer that.

Two Plants and a Girl

The Leonardo Effect by phoenike (NC-17)

Title: The Leonardo Effect
Fandom: Assassin's Creed
Pairing: Leonardo/Ezio, Ezio/OFCs, Leonardo/OMCs
Genres: AU, Romance, Drama, Pining, First-time, Mystery, Prostitution, Historical
Length: Epic (67,378 words)
Warnings: Dub-con, prostitution, period-appropriate homophobia

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: phoenike @ AO3

Author's Summary:
To Ezio’s best knowledge, Leonardo's idea of debauchery was staying up until morning with a bottle of wine and too many sketching supplies. But why would the gondolier have lied? It was a heavy accusation. In both Firenze and Venezia, mere allegations of unnatural conduct had condemned men to be pilloried or hanged.

Review:
After overhearing gossip about Leonardo having apparently been on trial for sodomy, Ezio is tormented by the revelation and determined to find the truth. It's a familiar plot, and this is a well-written and historically minded version of it. It's well-paced, with their budding romance a very slow burn as Ezio struggles to make sense of what he's feeling while trying to uncover Leonardo's past. His preconceived notions of Leonardo as wholly bookish and naive are challenged, leaving us with a much more three dimensional character that is an awesome read to slowly find out about. This is also a fic about Ezio's own horizons being broadened as he gains some maturity.

This fic is a series, accompanied by some equally well-written flashbacks. They contain spoilers for the main fic though, so are best left till after it.

The Leonardo Effect

Unconventional Negotiation Tactics by pikachumaniac (PG-15)

Title: Unconventional Negotiation Tactics
Fandom: James Bond
Pairing: James Bond/Q
Categories/Genres: Alternate Universe, Humor, Domestic, Romance, Action/Adventure
Length: Medium (10565 words)
Warnings: Very brief description of minor original character death

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: pikachumaniac

Summary:

His mission was supposed to be simple. Find Geoffrey Boothroyd’s son, who had developed a reputation for being quite the fearsome inventor, and convince him to come to MI6 to serve as quartermaster. He was given an address, a description, and a starting salary figure so high that he seriously questioned all his past career decisions. He was assured that Frederick Boothroyd was intelligent, practical, and yes, maybe a little prone to shooting people, but only if they insisted on disturbing his work. Altogether, simple.

James Bond knew better though. They didn’t send him on simple missions.

In which James Bond takes an unusual approach to his latest mission, much to the chagrin of his would-be quartermaster.

Review:

The premise of this fic is an alternate universe where, not only was Q the former Q's son, but he is also quite determined to never work for MI6. M, for whatever reason, sends Bond to convince him otherwise. According to whatever passes for logic in James Bond's mind, this requires moving in with the Boothroyd scion.

And then they proceed to flail haphazardly at each other until they simultaneously tumble down the slippery slope most people have taken to calling 'love'. Never let it be said that I'm not a sucker for James Bond and Q flailing until they're neck-deep in a quagmire of feelings, but imagining Q as Boothroyd's son, vaguely attached but distinctly tangential to MI6, adds a particular depth to Q's character. Rather than the canonical Whishaw!Q who springs forth from mysterious origins, or the fanonical backgrounds built up around him, the connection to Boothroyd adds depth to both this new would-be Q and his predecessor anchored simultaneously in canon and fanon both.

Unconventional Negotiation Tactics

You'll Get There in the End (It Just Takes a While) by seperis (NC-17)

Title: You'll Get There in the End (It Just Takes a While)
Fandom: Star Trek XI
Pairing: Jim Kirk/Spock, past Nyota Uhura/Spock
Categories/Genres: Post-Canon, Drama, Romance, Angst, Pon Farr, Bonding, Friendship
Length: Long (33465 words)
Warnings: N/A

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] seperis
Author Website: seperis

Summary:

"Spock. Just say 'I don't trust Starfleet not to mess up the only captain in the fleet who I can train up to my expectations and enjoys running into danger wearing a blindfold as much as I do'."

Review:

The format of this fic is a little confusing at first, jumping back and forth between two progressing timelines until they meet in the middle. Not to mention, seperis refuses to hold the reader's hand and explain everything in small sentences with smaller words. You'll Get There in the End (It Just Takes a While) demands that the reader think as they read and slot the pieces together. It's not always easy, and there are some recurring threads that are not particularly obvious as such, but in the end, when the story pulls in its loose threads and weaves them all together, there's a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that few authors manage to create in their fic.

The thing is, I can easily imagine this fic being written chronologically, rather than alternating between the immediate post-movie and the onset of Jim's 'pon farr'. It would still be good reading, but it's unlikely that I'd find it fascinating enough to rec it. Its format creates a tension that vibrates like a plucked instrument string through the entire length of the fic, a quiet hum that grows in intensity right up until the climax, when the separate timelines resolve into a single chronological narrative.

seperis also makes the conscious decision not to include any sort of internal contemplation of emotion through the bulk of the fic. As odd as it was to read a romance fic where there was no mention of romantic emotion between Jim and Spock, it gave the climax that much more energy by contrast, their emotions distilled and crisp rather than worn smooth by repetition.

Unfortunately I can't give any sort of recommendation on the rest of The Reboot Series, as I haven't had the opportunity to read it. But going by the quality and complexity of You'll Get There, I'm guessing it's definitely worth checking out.

You'll Get There in the End (It Just Takes a While)

Amour by Viola (PG13)

Title: Amour

Fandom: Angel: the series
Pairing: ~gen, ~Holtz/Justine
Categories: dark, angst, drama, flashback, sad stories
Length: long, ~20,000 words
Warnings: abusive relationship, canon character death, written prior to season 4

Author on Livejournal: [livejournal.com profile] viola_dreamwalk
Author Website: Viola_dreamwalk on AO3 (not all her stories are archived here) | Viola on fanfiction.net

Summary: An un-love story, happily never after.

Review: She looks at him the way Sarah did. The way Caroline had, at least at first. As though he's a poet and a prophet and a pilgrim soul. As though he's the hero of the piece, as though he could do no wrong. She looks at him and sees exactly what she needs, exactly what he wants her to see. He sees this and knows just how to make her love him. He finds he likes it.

This is the story of the antagonists of Angel: the series' season 3; Holtz, the archaic vampire hunter adrift in time, and Justine, who fought vampires like a cut-price slayer and will be remembered by most for slitting Wesley's throat. It's also the story of Holtz' wife Caroline and Justine's twin sister Julia, and the losses that forge Holtz and Justine's single-minded quests.

Viola is the author of my previous rec Percy Weasley, Rogue Demon Hunter, but the two works couldn't be more different. There is no light-hearted humour and quirkiness here, only velvet darkness and damaged, deeply flawed people, hampered judgement and loss. The prose is very beautiful.

This is a fascinating, lyrical exploration, filling in the gaps of who Justine and Holtz were and the skewed relationship between them.

Amour

Cinnamon, Mint, and Smoke by kaigou (R)

Title: Cinnamon, Mint, and Smoke
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairing: Duo/Heero, Duo/Trowa, Quatre/OMC, Wufei/OMC
Genres: AU, Romance, Drama, Virgin, Supernatural
Length: Long (18,818 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] kaigou
Author Website: Sol1056 @ FF.net

Author's Summary:
I was twenty years old, and I’d never been kissed. Well, that’s an exaggeration, I suppose. I’d never kissed someone that I actually -wanted- to be kissing. I was also a virgin. My life sucked.

Review:
This AU is a beautifully written exploration of lonely Duo's search for acceptance. As in canon he is an orphan, though this time in a modern AU. The newest member of a gay fraternity at his university, his struggle to fit in and his sense of being an outsider are poignantly written and very relatable. It takes a deal with the devil - who is, in this case, Heero - for him to finally see that his isolation was in fact all in his head and more a product of his own insecurity rather than anything tangible.

Duo's feelings are so well explored and explained that it's easy to see him taking these extreme measures for companionship. Being a lonely orphan for most of his life who has never had his romantic needs fulfilled, I didn't actually find it very far fetched that he would make a deal with Heero. Despite the potentially angsty subject matter this is a mostly gentle fic that's more of a character study, and I found the more subtle and ordinary issues Duo was dealing with very easy to empathise with. All in all this is a slow and thoughtful fic with a lovely payoff.

Cinnamon, Mint, and Smoke

Some Kind of Temporary Sanity by pinkwithoutplot (NC-17)

Title: Some Kind of Temporary Sanity
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Genres: AU, Drama, Smut, Prison
Length: Medium
Warnings: Dub-con, incest, voyeurism

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] pinkwithoutplot
Author Website: N/A

Author's Summary:
N/A

Review:
An AU of Folsom Prison Blues, in this fic Sam doesn't deal as well with being incarcerated as he did in canon. Singled out by the other inmates, he and Dean have to pretend to be together in an effort to protect him - and then surprise surprise, they have to actually get together. It's smutty and wrong and ultimately satisfying.

Some Kind of Temporary Sanity