Best FF That Will Make You Stop Smearing Vitamin E on Your Surgery Scars: Scars, by Sonya, virtualinsomnia. X-Men movies, Nightcrawler/Wolverine pre-slash. I have a well-documented problem with visualizing blue people having sex (See also: Beast, Mystique, etc., and why are there so many blue people in the Marvel universe? Did they get a special deal on the ink?), but I really believe I'm making progress. This story, though, didn't trip my issues at all; it's completely non-explicit. It also sounds so wrong and yet makes such sense after you've read it. We value our scars because they're physical memories. Wolverine has lost so much of his memory; isn't it something of an unkind cut that he loses this kind, too? And Nightcrawler doesn't just have scars - he has intentional scars, scars that tell a story, at least to him. I can get the envy, and I can get the attraction. But I couldn't until Sonya pointed the way.
Best FF That Pairs a Brad Pitt Character with a Matt Damon Character and Yet Doesn't Make Me Vomit: Drive, by Jess. Ocean's 11, Rusty Ryan/Linus Caldwell. We interrupt this nominations set for some intensive whining: why is this fandom not larger? Why why whyeeeeee? In my world, there'd be, um, oceans of Ocean's 11 slash, and it would all be this good. This movie has it all: subtext! Homoeroticism! A lot of men! A totally unconvincing token female character! It's crying out for slash, people! Whine ends. See, I looked at this pairing, and I thought, no. Just - no. Rusty belongs with Danny; apart from anything else, George Clooney and Brad Pitt have so much sexual tension in this movie they might as well have taken out a Massachusetts marriage license. But then I read this story, and I realized that, once again, I had been narrow-minded, and a great FF story had cured me of it. (If this trend continues, I may become the first person to die of excessive open-mindedness. Or the first person ever to cause a matter/antimatter type explosion upon coming into contact with Jesse Helms.)
Best FF Featuring a Fraser Who Is Actually Quick on the Uptake and Yet Still Totally Canadian (No Offense Intended to Our Beloved Northern Friends): Volpe, by Te, thete1. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Andreas Volpe. (Note for those who haven't seen the series: Volpe is a real character; I think Te's intertwining this fic's plot with the plot of the episode "Asylum," though don't quote me on that.) Kowalski, yes, belongs with Benton Fraser. But isn't he entitled to more of a sexual history than just the Stella? I mean, come on; we've already got the classic one-woman history in Fraser, and I refuse to believe that Due South exists in a universe where men, on average, have 1.2 sexual partners in their lives. Vecchio's probably been married to more woman than Kowalski's had sex with. (And, tragically, Vecchio's probably been married more often than Fraser's had sex. Period.) That isn't fair at all, and I applaud Te for giving Kowalski a history, and for making it so believable. I also applaud her for not making Fraser clueless; given Victoria, you'd think he'd pick up on sexual, um, mistakes a lot faster than he mostly does in FF.
Best FF That Makes You Want Harry Potter Book Six to Feature a Campaign for Tighter Regulations on Teacher Malfeasance and Immorality, Most Likely Run by Hermione in Her Copious Spare Time: Perquisite and the companion piece Unnatural Acts, by Halrloprillalar, prillalar. Harry Potter, Percy/Snape. So. Um. If you like your Snape loving and sweet, or with a hidden heart of gold, or tormented by a secret love, you won't like this story. But, hey, give it a try anyway, 'cause this is excellent. I admit I'm biased - teacher/student pairings, especially the ones that end in true love, usually don't work for me; I can't suspend my disbelief far enough. So I like the way this goes. And I love the way Hal makes a human being of Percy, who is, like so many HP characters, totally two-dimensional in the canon. So read this. But don't expect romance. (This nomination sponsored by Slashers Against Romance and True Love and for Nice Pornographic Sex. I'm not a member, people, so don't complain to me.)