And even if one isn't, still. Read. I promise you every one of these stories is amazing.
The One That Teaches Us the Nuances of Decorating with Bovine Paraphernalia. It's Complicated, by just_katarin. Hockey RPF, Carey Price/PK Subban. (If those names mean nothing to you - hi, me too! - the author has a useful primer.)
One of the things I am learning about hockey via RPF (again, may not actually apply to real hockey) is that the players suck at feelings. I mean, yes, there's all that hugging, and of course the fighting, but basically you're looking at a whole bunch of dudes who were in shooting practice when everyone else was learning to deal with emotion. It's like an entire league filled with John Sheppards, Aeryn Suns, and Batmen. Yeah, I'll give you a minute to sit with the horror. (Or, you know, actually the mental image is kind of - NO WAIT NO it would totally be a horror what am I even saying? The fact that it's hot doesn't mean it wouldn't be a total disaster, this is a thing I have learned in my life.)
Okay, so, while this situation is obviously not ideal for the players, or, you know, anyone around them, it does give rise to a lot of awesome stories. Like this one! And this story displays so many different kinds of failure to get feelings; it's basically the Problems with Feelings opus. There was a point in this story where I said to myself, "These dudes are going to be married and have three kids before they ever figure out they're in love, let alone have a talk about it." (Seriously. That happens in hockey.)
And the thing is, in less skilled hands, this could get annoying. Or it could lead to a lot of yelling at the characters. But in this story, it really doesn't; it's just, one of these dudes seriously doesn't get it, and the other dude doesn't get that, and also both of them would apparently let Alexander Ovechkin dance on them with his skates on before they'd sit down and actually talk. Sometimes life gets complicated when you're like that. But my point is: even though it totally seemed like a possibility, I didn't ever want to strangle the characters in this story. (I did want to lend them my copy of Humans Have Feelings and You're Going to Have to Learn to Deal, the textbook from Remedial Emotion 100. But, well. That is a fairly standard impulse when reading hockey RPF.)
So, you know, this is basically a cavalcade of feelings from guys whose natural emotional status is "none." That alone makes it awesome. But I also loved how this dealt with the pressures and pitfalls of a rookie year, and also with some of the specific bullshit PK Subban gets for being black. (Uh, warning: be prepared to finish this story with some hostile feelings toward Darren Pang. That is fine and as it should be.)
The One That Teaches Us That Black Books, in Very Specific and Unusual Circumstances, Is Romantic. And I'm trying my hardest not to fall, by surexit. Original fiction.
I did say I wouldn't be telling exactly who these recs were aimed at, but I have to say with this one. See, Best Beloved - she is a very intelligent person, really, but also very determined and sometimes her determinedness gets in the way of her intelligence. Such is the case with her consumption of original m/m ebooks. Because, yes, there are some good ones, but let's be honest: most of what you find on Amazon you would back button away from immediately if the characters were named, say, Charles and Erik instead of Cooper and Ethan (note: if these are actual names of characters in some original m/m book somewhere, I'm not referring to it; BB is the one with the exhaustive and honestly worrying knowledge of the genre, not me).
But BB remains convinced that somewhere out there is the motherlode of all excellent published slash, and she's by god going to find it. There is no telling her she's already found it and read it all. So she persistently and bravely buys ebook after ebook, and inevitably we have this conversation:
Me: How's the new original slash?
BB: Not terrible. I mean, it wasn't terrible. And then their penises started talking in couplets, and now -
Me: It's terrible?
BB, sadly: Yes.
Only actually it's generally much worse than talking penises.
So this rec is specifically for BB, to prove to her that there really is great original m/m fiction left for her to read. (It's also for the rest of you, because it's good! And original! And you should read it.) Just, I think perhaps she needs to let the ebooks lie fallow for a while.
Instead, she can read this. Because this is an awesome story about two guys who are the absolute awkwardest meeting and falling in love. And if that doesn't grab you - although in that case I genuinely cannot imagine why you are reading my journal - there's also a lot of great stuff about class in here. Class commentary and gay romance! The best of all possible worlds. (I mean, of course, the best of all possible worlds not featuring robots.)
The One That Teaches Us That Illegal Drugs Lead, Rather Unexpectedly, to Tons of Plot. Twenty-Year Man, by ellen_fremedon. Vorkosigan series, Ivan Vorpatril/Byerly Vorrutyer.
I would love this story anyway, because it is everything I dream of, but in addition to being practically perfect in every way, it triggered a revelation for me, a revelation about the Vorkosigan series. So in addition to expanding the Vorkosigan universe, and shifting the focus of it, and giving me more of it, it also taught me something about it, and about myself. That is everything fan fiction is supposed to do. See why I said it was perfect?
(And, okay, this isn't exactly related to the recommendation, but it feels wrong to mention my revelation and not tell you what it is. As I read this, I wondered why I was so comfortable with Ivan in casefic, when Miles in casefic, or case books, has never been my happy place. And once I asked myself that, I had the answer. I am, it turns out, only interested in Miles when he's becoming something. When he's becoming Admiral Naismith, or becoming a Barrayaran officer, or becoming a [spoiler for Memory], I'm fascinated, I love it. When he's not, I still love him, but I don't want the details. Probably because if he's not overcoming insurmountable odds, he's, um. You know. Miles. So I'm a little sad about that, because as far as I can tell, he's done as a character, which I suspect means I'm done with the series. Bummer.)
So. Back to this story, which I am not at all done with. I love characters who underplay their intelligence, characters who maintain a bland façade while thinking actual thoughts underneath, and Ivan is, arguably, such a character. At least, okay, I'm not sure that's how Bujold meant him, but it is definitely how fan fiction portrays him, and in this case my vote is alllll on the side of fanon. I really love Ivan here, giving up on his whole "anything for a quiet life" strategy in a big way.
And, I mean - there's research! Shenanigans! Politics! Basically everything I love about the canon, but with gay sex! So, yeah, I'll just go back to what I said up there. Perfect. You'll want to read this. (Unless you haven't read the Vorkosigan series, in which case I'm not sure how well this will work for you. But, hey, no problem, just read a couple of books of that first, then this. There. Your weekend is all set.)
The One That Makes Me Yearn, Yearn, for a Cupcake Avalanche App. Semaphore, by devildoll. Avengers, Steve Rogers/Tony Stark.
True fact: I fell asleep thinking about the stories I wanted to rec that fit into this set, wondering which one to end with (I have a lot of things I want people to read, okay?), and dreamed that devildoll was pregnant. With a dragon. If that's not a message from my subconscious saying, "Go with the Steve/Tony one everyone has already read!" I don't know what would be.
So, yeah, odds are good you've already read this, and I am not surprised, because, okay, devildoll is a bad person who made a 300-song playlist for this story and then declined to share the whole thing, but she is also an amazing writer. (Particularly when she's got old people kicking ass in her story. For reasons unknown - and, no, I am not even asking my subconscious; I'll probably dream that she's a German Shepherd or something - senior citizens = good times with devildoll. She's the author I'd most like to listen to learn swing dancing with, basically.)
This story, in addition to the usual terrifying old people and awesome romance, also does something that is kind of weird in fan fiction, which is: the realistic breakup. (No, no, seriously, come back here, it's not like that!) Generally writers either ignore existing relationships, as in that Mitt Romney/sexbot story I totally have not read, or they do fake breakups ("I only left you because you broke up with me!" "I only broke up with you because you were leaving!" [sexytimes]), or they do real breakups that are more like meetings with a matchmaker ("I think we're kind of over, but it's cool, we can still hang out. Um, have you considered Eames at all?"). And, I mean, I read all those stories. I love all those stories. Just, that isn't what's happening here. This breakup is serious, and real, and it kills me a little every time I read it, both for Pepper and for Tony, although, let's face it, Pepper is always going to handle shit better than Tony does. (Others who handle shit better than Tony: Basically the entire population of the planet aside from Bruce Banner and the Joker.)
And then they both move on, and the moving on is glorious and awesome and funny, and also, from time to time, awkward as fuck, because Tony is not good at - you know, given Tony's advantages, it's surprising to me to note this, but it would actually be easier to make a list of things he is good at: technology, fighting in a big metal suit, and snappy comebacks. Everything else he has to pay someone to do. He's just lucky that he has enough money that he can still present himself as sane and functional to anyone who hasn't gotten a close look at his payroll.
Anyway. For some reason my Avengers recs always end up with me rattling on for paragraphs about Tony, which - I guess both Steve and Tony would want it that way, but next time I swear I will spend some time on Captain America. And maybe even on the story, crazy as that is. In the meantime, I'll just say: I know you've already read this (unless you are the target of this rec, of course). Now is the perfect time to read it again.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.