But in the meantime, I thought I would try to go back to the way we used to do things before Delicious. Recs! Really! We used to make these lists that had links in them, and sometimes we would put notes to explain why we liked them, and it was very - no, really, it worked. Where are you all going?
So I am throwing caution to the winds and recommending stuff. The theme for this set turned out to be Awesome Stories That for Some Reason Made Me Uncomfortable, but It Turned out I Loved Them Anyway. I - will probably not be adding this as an actual tag, on account of the tag system would just laugh in my face. But there's a theme! And a recs set! Today, we are partying like it's 2006, baby.
The One in Which We Ask Ourselves: When Will Villains Finally Learn That Kidnapping Tony Stark Only Leads to Sorrow and Explosions? Kidnap Someone Else, That Is My Advice to the Ambitious Marvel Villain. Tomorrow Belongs to Me, by valtyr. Thor and Captain America and Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Tony Stark.
(WARNING: Animal harm, and animal death. I dealt with this by a) telling myself that they were really extradimensional evil creatures that simply looked like animals, and b) skipping the bad bits. It worked, and I believe it was worth it. However, I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone who shares my squick. If you want to give it a go anyway, though, I will be happy to tell you when to skip.)
I realize I'm perhaps in for a pillorying, but one of the reasons I sometimes want to slash a particular character is that I really cannot believe that any woman, anywhere should have to put up with him. My feeling about this small subset of guys tends to be: This is a dudely problem. Let dudes handle it. And perhaps the foremost example of this kind of character is Tony Stark.
See, I like Tony. But he's an asshole. (This dichotomy is fully explored in the story, let me just note.) He's such an asshole I could never feel entirely good about him ending up with Pepper Pott, who surely did not deserve that level of bullshit in her life. I just knew that sooner or later he'd, like, inadvertently fuck the entire U.S. Supreme Court on public television and then make a fist of triumph and shout, "FUCK YEAH, motion OVERTURNED!" for the cameras, and she'd be left dealing with the aftermath. So after I watched the first movie, the only romantic happy ending I could see in sight was Tony/robot sex machine, and that's not really fan fiction; that's canon. (Which is not to say I wouldn't read it. I would! I have! Happily! But it just isn't the same when it's canon.)
But I am entirely willing to pair Steve Rogers up with Tony Stark, turns out. And not just because it turns out their true love is the key to saving the universe. (No, really, there is actual canon documentation of this.) Steve Rogers is a good guy, sure - basically the archetypal good guy, good in absolutely every single way. And he has had, you know, a hard life - a couple years of WWII followed by being dead for a while, and then waking up and having to deal with Tony Stark. And yet I am happy to see him really dealing with Tony Stark, if you get my drift.
And not just because Steve makes Tony ask himself the hard questions. (Like, "Why is it always my fault? Is there something I'm doing? That I could perhaps not do?" Believe it or not, a lot of people get to middle age without ever once considering this. We call these people politicians, mostly, but I guess maverick billionaire CEOs might also fit the bill.) I also love this story because of Steve, adjusting to the 21st century, and Thor, being - you know, Thor. And General Fury, who is generally the lone adult in charge of the circus. (A circus, I might add, where the acts are, like, Nuclear Knife Juggling and Stampeding Elephant Riding.) There is a lot to love here, is my point. Go love it! Do mind the warnings, though.
The One That I Totally Forgive for Suggesting That Librarians Are Actually Quiet. The Barest Hint of a Thought, by Helens78. X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier/Erik Lehnsherr.
You know how sometimes there is something you just cannot watch, but you have to or at least you want to, so you watch through your fingers, as though you can somehow, if things go bad, close them fast enough to stop yourself from seeing what made you want to close your fingers?
That's pretty much how I read this story. It's also what this story is about.
I mean, I was actually, seriously horrified through a lot of this story. "See?" I wanted to say to the imaginary band of critics that lives in the back of my head, disagreeing with every word I say. "See? This is what is so evil about telepathy."
The imaginary band of critics pointed out that that was insane, of course. Because there's no such thing as telepathy. So instead of using this story to justify my perfectly logical and rational fear of telepaths, I will say: this is why Charles Xavier was a character Marvel should never have made. He's ridiculously overpowered. Ridiculously. He's a god. Except he could do a lot more than fuck Leda in the shape of a swan. Basically, in any universe in which Charles Xavier exists, the only real conflicts are the ones in his own head.
"But he's good!" you say. "He has morals and he chooses not to use his powers for evil and that's why he can work as a character."
Right. Yes. And, I mean, I love Charles, I love Charles/Erik, I have been reading about Charles and Erik since long before I got into fandom, but. Here's the thing. The excuse they use for having Xavier around - Morals! Goodness! - doesn't actually work. And this story explains why - why having someone so ludicrously powerful destroys the framework of the universe whether he's Charles Xavier or Sauron with the One Ring securely on his bony little hand.
I mean, yes, this story is also a fabulous exploration of consent issues, and kink, and all the stuff I've come to expect from helens78, and, yes, it's like a fairy tale for adults only (moral: if you take the shortcut to your goal, you will likely get your head eaten), but I'm in it for the simple question of whether there is any meaning to anything if Charles Xavier exists. (No.) Definitely read the tags and warnings, but if you can possibly stand it, read this story.
And then join me, won't you, in the fight against telepathy? (And the fight against the imaginary critics. I'd like to wipe them out, too.)
The One That Shows Us That Fish, Too, Can Meet Cute. What It Feels Like, by cimorene. Finding Nemo, Gill/Nemo.
FISH SLASH. Between mentor fish and mentored fish, I might add, just in case fish aren't a problem for you, but age differences are. (And, yes, I can think of several people off the top of my head who will look at this all, "YES FINDING NEMO - oh, wait. Big age difference. No." This is #31 on the list of reasons I love fandom, just below "Not the only catboy story I've read today" and just above "Can't really remember the days when I thought snake MPreg was out there.") A measure of my discomfort with this story is that it took me two years to read it. (And during those two years, the earthling went through a Nemo phase. That didn't help. Parents of babies, read this story now, that's my advice.)
So. You know. Fish slash. That happened. And the thing is, it's fucking adorable. Nemo is the same intent, curious, determined fish he was in the movie. Gill is the same badass in fish form. All the voices in this, in fact, are absolutely perfect. And, I mean, I can absolutely believe this ending. (And in fact would greatly prefer to believe this ending over the one the movie gave us, which horrifies me every time I watch it. Nemo is home and happy! Marlin is home and happy! Dory is home and happy! And the fishtank fish are trapped in plastic and about to die. Seriously, Pixar, it's like you're trying to take the coveted Destroyer of Children's Happiness mantle from Disney's clutching hands.) And why shouldn't two boy fishes who love each other very much be happy ever after in a story that earns its explicit rating?
Just. I find myself eyeing the earthling's DVDs with trepidation, now. When awesome and adorable fish slash is already old news, what comes next? Is Bob the Builder going to show us some of the special short films on his computer, which feature uses for his equipment that totally void their warranties? Are the Penguins of Madagascar going to provide a whole new perspective on four-way teamwork with a strict chain of command? Are Eve and Otto going to get caught in a bad romance, leaving Wall-E to find consolation in the arms of Mo? Anything is possible. Anything.
But this story is worth the mental images that will never leave my head, I tell you what. It's just. Cute. Cuter than fish having sex has any right to be.
The One That Shows Exactly How Irritating Arguing with Someone Who Can Apparate Must Be. Getting the Last Word Must Be an Art Form in the Wizarding World. The Death of Narcissa Black: A Potion, by massicot. (That's a deleted and purged journal, unfortunately. Does anyone have a more current link for her?) Harry Potter, gen.
Oh my GOD. This is. Okay. You know how there are stories that you settle into happily, because you know the author and you know the fandom and you know the genre and you just know this is going to hit you square in your comfort zone? This is not that story for me. It is outside my comfort zone in absolutely every way - the artwork, while gorgeous and perfect for the story, is really far from what I can usually parse. The main character is a villain from a fandom I don't read that much in anymore. The storyline is dark and grim. And yet. And yet. This story is also an excellent example of why I'm in love with fandom.
See, this takes a minor villain (or at least I think she is; she may have a more major role in the two books that came after I gave up on the series) and makes her into a real person, a person with some remarkably unfortunate ideals and some remarkably positive traits. And then it carefully, clearly, and beautifully details how those ideals combine with circumstance to wipe out the positive traits, not to mention basically every trace of who Narcissa was.
It's so amazing, and so perfect, and so unlike anything else I've read in fandom, that I re-read it on a regular basis even though there are some pages - um, a fair number of pages - that still make me genuinely recoil from the screen. (Really. Please pay attention to the warnings. She is not kidding about any of that.)
So, you know, this is incredible. It's also just about the darkest thing I've ever seen written for a darkfest. (Not that I am inviting further links on that score. Uh, no. Feel free to hand me the white feather on this one; I will wear it with, if not pride, at least total acceptance of my limitations.)
But even if this is normally the kind of thing you would walk a mile in wet shoes to avoid - well. I can't tell you to read it. But I can tell you I read it, despite the warnings, against my better judgment, and I was totally, totally glad. It's the kind of story that makes me want to applaud for fandom. Even as, okay, yes, I am reaching for a safety tab story.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.