Surrender by AsreonInfusion (Mature)

Title: Surrender
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Pairing: Sephiroth/Cloud Strife
Categories: vampire, mind control, AU
Length: Medium [3303 words]
Warnings: dub-con and a hint that Cloud is probably underage

Author on LJ: n/a
Author/Artist/Creator Website: AsreonInfusion'S AO3

Summary: Cloud is forced to spend the night in the long-abandoned ShinRa mansion, but he's not as alone as he would like to think.


Review: This is an AU one-shot and it uses the spooky setting of the original Shinra mansion to great effect to tell a classic vampire story, that - with all the things that happen to poor Cloud in the original game - play on some of the game's themes to great effect. There are nice callbacks to Sephiroth's history as we know it and to the influence that JENOVA allowed him over Cloud in the game, bleeding into the classic power of enthralling a vampire can hold over his victim.

It is a dark, sexy story and with the mind control is definitely not for readers who like clearly negotiated consent. But that goes well with the eerie setting and the overtones of classic horror.

Surrender

All the King's Horses by Lindenharp (G)

Title: All the King's Horses
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: Gen, Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble
Categories: Adventure, Gen
Length: Long [26 110 words]
Warnings: none

Author/Artist/Creator on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] lindenharp
Author/Artist/Creator Website: Lindenharp’S AO3

Summary:A star empire is menaced by deadly creatures from the time of Rassilon. Will one lone Time Lord and a human companion be enough to defeat them?


Review:

Sometimes what I really need is a good canon-style adventure. Donna is one of my favorite companions and I was always a bit sad that we only got the one season with her and especially about how things ended up for her.

This is not a fix-it for that, but it’s a wonderful gen adventure that slots in right in between the episodes we have for her and the Doctor. The interactions and dialogue are very in character (in the beginning Donna seems a bit smart in the wrong way, but that soon levels back to canon Donna brilliance).

It’s a brilliantly crafted adventure story too, that could very well be an episode. Lindenharp does an amazing job of fleshing out the details of the Time War and Time Lord history. I found the world-building she did for the ancient alien civilization they encounter and all the traditions and costums of theirs very engaging and I love the underlying story of culture clash, especially because it’s also a story of how people from different cultures can work together and come to understand each other better.

It’s a wonderful read all around.

All the King's Horses

the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world by thyrza (NC-17)

Title: the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world
Fandom: Iron Man Noir
Pairing: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark
Categories: Romance, Angst, Drama, Post-Canon
Length: Long [~25 000]
Warnings: Comic Book Violence, some mentions of medical procedures that can be uncomfortable

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] stray_heart/thyrza
Author Website: thyrza's AO3

Summary: Tony Stark disappeared without a word at the close of World War II, and hasn't been seen or heard from since. When Commander Steve Rogers, newly retired from the mantle of Captain America, arrives in Madripoor to investigate the presence of a Hydra cell, he is reunited with his former lover. But Tony is keeping secrets of his own ... and Steve soon finds out he isn't the only person interested in Tony Stark's missing years.


Review:

This is a Steve/Tony story written for the Cap/Iron Man Big Bang a couple of years ago and and even better for one of the more obscure canon versions of Tony Stark. It’s based on the Iron Man Noir mini-series from 2010 in which Tony Stark is not only a genius inventor, but also an Indiana Jones style adventurer with his own pulp magazine that fictionalizes his exploits. He has run-in’s with Nazi’s like Baron von Strucker and Baron Zemo and it’s implied at the end that he’ll join the war effort at the end of the comic.

This Big Bang story takes that as a given and jumps ahead in time to the post-war era and is told entirely from the perspective of Steve, who we learn was indeed Captain America during World War II and is now “retired”, but still works for SHIELD - not as Captain America, but as Steve Rogers. Tony Stark has vanished right after the war and his whereabouts and reasons for leaving remain a mystery to Steve until he’s sent on a new mission.

While the main story takes place in 1947, the set-up and most of the exposition, is done very deftly through the use of flashbacks, that give us the missing background for the romance and go into some details of their time together during the war, before the real action starts.

The story is very well written and has some of the most heart-breaking angsty Tony moments imaginable. It does go some dark places, before things get better, but nothing darker than the original mini-series (which was full of pulpy violence and noir themes). The author does a good job of using the cast and little details that the mini-series’ worldbuilding provided and add re-interpretations of other Marvel universe plots and characters to build upon it. It’s a very engaging read, a very emotional adventures and some of the moments of desperation and fear driving the main characters here were probably among the best I ever read.

It’s likely helpful to know the gist of the 4 issue mini-series, but there is so much original worldbuilding going on here that it can also be read without much canon knowledge.

the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world

feet been draggin’ cross the ground by celaenos (PG-13)

Title: feet been draggin’ cross the ground
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Pairing: Gen with Dawn and Buffy, background Buffy/Faith
Categories: drama, family, hurt/comfort, romance
Length: Long [17784words]
Warnings: canon typical violence

Author/Artist/Creator on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] celaenos
Author/Artist/Creator Website: celaenos' AO3

Summary: Dawn goes along with Buffy on a seemingly endless road trip after Sunnydale blows up. Stubbornly avoiding their friends, and any semblance of normalcy, they try to figure out just what the hell they are supposed to do with their lives now.


Review:

I do remember that the first time I tried to read the fic I stopped after the first few scenes, because I felt there were some clunky sentences. Then later I sat down again, because I'm a sucker for a good fic about the Summers sisters and even more for Buffy/Faith and that time I read it in one setting and what I found was an amazing fic.

It's set post-canon and Buffy feels lost without her mission, instead of joining the scoobies she and Dawn set out on a road trip across the country. It's a fic about the sisters and their relationship and how life changes for them, how they deal with being or not being the Slayer and a girl that technically isn't real, but the Key. It has wonderful bonding moment and wonderful humor. It's also about Buffy running away from facing the feeling she might have for Faith.

It also does a good job of showing how both Buffy and Dawn slowly figure themselves out and find their way.

It's wonderful. The characterisation and slow progression is perfect and highlights the confusion and the feeling of being aimlessly adrift. There are just so many unique and wonderful women around in this fic and it makes for a wonderful highly recommended read.

feet been draggin’ cross the ground

Timeline series by Unforgotten (R)

Title: Timeline series
Fandom: X-Men: First Class, X-Men Movies
Pairing: Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier
Categories: Time Travel, First Time, Humor with a bit of angst
Length: Long [31 625words]
Warnings: none

Author/Artist/Creator on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] unforgotten
Author/Artist/Creator Website: Unforgotten’s AO3

Review: This is a series of two fics, “Replay” and “Numbers” and an added collection of snippets and drabbles set in the same verse that highlight some of the moments we didn’t get to see or that were only hinted at.

The premise is that old man Charles Xavier as we know him from the X-Men movies and with all the knowledge, experience and power of his old self travels back in time, by casting his mind into his younger body. It’s his plan to change all the horrible events that made Magneto the person he is and he does it in the best way he can think of: As he knows Erik has been in love for him for decades now, what’s easier than to give him what he wants?

“Replay” is a delightful and sometimes hilarious fic about old Charles having to come to grips with being young again and with the moral dilemma of using his future knowledge to “take advantage” of Erik. He’s so engrossed in his own dilemma and so very Charles in some of the decisions he makes - like not reading Erik’s mind for the entire fic - that makes the little twist here work. Although the author - or Erik - gives the twist away pretty early on to make even more obvious that Charles can be the king of denial if he wants to, Charles never allows himself to pick up on it. It makes all his interactions with Erik very interesting and all the back and forth and paralleling of the things that happened in the future they left behind and what’s happening in their new past is well thought out and nicely used to describe the sort of people they are.

I think I like the second part, “Numbers” a little better even than “Replay” although it’s really imperative to read them in order and preferably together. “Numbers” is Eriks version of that happened in “Replay” and his voice is appropriately dry and a joy to read. Also his reflections on Charles and his obliviousness are just too funny.

Timeline series

i broke my bones playing games with you by mooosicaldreamz (PG-13)

Title: i broke my bones playing games with
Fandom: Agent Carter (TV)
Pairing: Peggy Carter/Angie Martinelli and past Steve/Peggy
Categories: Romance, AU, domestic
Length: Long [22 029words]
Warnings: none

Author on LJ: n/a
Author Website: mooosicaldreamz on AO3

Review:
This is a wonderful and tender fic. Reading it I wished for it to never end and still it ends in such a fitting, sweet spot that it’s exactly perfect the way it is.

This is essentially a shipping fic for the Peggy/Angie pairing set in an AU where Peggy was Captain America and is woken from the ice into present day New York and meets Angie Martinelli, aspiring actress, lesbian, working at a diner and developing a big crush on her the suddenly alive again childhood hero.

It’s a nice fic and it explains nicely how a British woman ended up being Captain America - a role that had been meant for Steve Rogers initially. It also does a wonderful job of integrating this into the greater MCU by letting Peggy’s adventures in the present follow some of the stages a woken up Steve Rogers also had to go through. All of that is told from Angie’s POV though, who meets Peggy by accident and watches her react to the new life and times, who is worried about her when she’s fighting the good fight and who ends up being very much infatuated with her, amused by some of her old fashioned ideas and who is on the side also trying to cope with life and her unrequited love.

The fic has some very amusing moment, with Angie putting her foot in her mouth when she tries to be suave, with Tony Stark ending up wearing a gay pride rainbow colored Iron Man suit spraying glitter and Peggy understatedly and charmingly dealing with being thrown into our time. The MCU is only the backdrop though, Angie’s life and her blossoming romance with Peggy is at the center and there are some wonderful call-backs to how the two of them met and got to be friends and roommates in the Agent Carter series. And that's what makes this fic so great and so sweet, with all the domestic moments and the dancing around each other and Angi's thoughts about superhero life.

i broke my bones playing games with

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

Be Bold, But Not Too Bold by Memoriam (NC-17)

Title: Be Bold, But Not Too Bold
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Pairing: Vincent Valentine/Tifa Lockhart
Categories: post-canon, romance, first time
Length: Long (~17k)
Warnings: canon appropriate violence

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] memoriamvictus
Author Website: Memoriam's AO3

Review: This is a post-Advent Children, post-Dirge of Cerberus fic focused on Tifa and Vincent. Tifa is still running her bar in Edge and generally juggles life and it’s a very, very chaotic night for her when Vincent drops in for a visit and there is some general bonding over past and present and also a long term crush is revealed and leads to… other things. There is some action and implied misogyny and a bit of a revenge subplot that has more attempted violence, but for the most part this is focused on these two characters sharing a few relatively quiet moments, talking about the past and coming together. (And that part is hot.)

The fic sets Tifa’s current life situation and general badassery up by having her deal with a sleezy client in the first scene. She’s mostly just her own private person running a bar now, even if people know who she is and that she used to be part of Avalanche, but she still can hold herself in a fight. So basically this all starts with a fist brawl. The action is well set up and realistic.

The amazing parts of this story are actually the slow-build, and the characterisation. Through the bonding moments it becomes clear how the shared past affected both their lives and their present, even if they are moving into new territory now. There are wonderful characterisation moments when their affection and their character traits shine through in the way they treat each other and talk to each other, Tifa being frank and sometimes putting her foot in her mouth with her assumptions - and Vincent being his quiet self and trying to hide his feeling and not intrude.

The writing is very beautiful, but it’s really the characterisation in this one that makes it one of my favorites.

Be Bold, But Not Too Bold