The Only Fan Fiction Ever to Make Jeweled Teeth Endearing. (Note: Jeweled Teeth Are NOT Endearing.) The Place of That Desire, by yekoc. Swimming RPF, Ryan Lochte/Michael Phelps.
For those of you who, like me, were not really paying attention to the 2012 Olympics, let me assure you: Ryan Lochte is an appalling human being. This dude recently picked Auburn to win a college football game between Texas A&M and LSU, so we can see that he is not the brightest brick in the Duplo box. He has a signature word, and it's such an awful one that I refuse to type it here because I might teach my autocorrect terrible habits. He once tweeted "A Qm" (complete, total tweet) and people favorited the hell out of it as vintage Lochte at the very peak of his communications prowess.
And that's not even getting into his - attire issues. I mean, okay, I knew he had some weird thing about jeweled "grills," but I managed to persuade myself that this must merely mean buttons or maybe Elton John type sunglasses until I was in the middle of this story, when I could resist no longer. I googled. And then I bowed my head and WEPT FOR HUMANITY. (Don't google. If you haven't seen it, DON'T GOOGLE. Just know that he wears bejeweled mouthpieces and be grateful that the phenomenon hasn't spread to other sports. Or, if it has already spread to other sports, don't tell me about it.) And then I showed the picture to Best Beloved so we could weep a little more together. (TFV Marriage Tip #121: Spend a little time each day being mutually appalled together.)
But when we were done, I wiped my tears and kept reading, because this story is fantastic. I have a special love for stories that manage to make seriously disastrous people lovable without erasing any of their problematic elements. And I basically worship this story for convincing me that Ryan Lochte, Ryan Lochte, would be adorable with a baby. And good with a baby. And an actual quality parent. And that he's - yeah, okay, lovable.
Frankly, this story is not just sweet and adorable, and it doesn't just have its best scene take place in a pool, it's also deeply inspiring. At least if you are the kind of person (me) who can be inspired by the discovery that even profoundly flawed human beings can still be reasonably awesome ones. And if that's not enough for you, this has perhaps the best coming out scene in all of recorded fan fiction. At least if you like your coming out scenes the way I do. (My impression of coming out was forever warped by my own experience of it, which was notable for the following conversation between my mother and sister:
My sister, cranky because seriously don't talk to her in the morning she's a fuzzy ball of snit until ten: Are we out of milk?
My mother, on the phone to me: Your sister's a lesbian.
My sister: Fine. I NEED MILK FOR MY CEREAL.
If you're going to come out, and you're worried about the response you might get, I encourage you to practice on my sister in the morning. Okay, really any time, but you'll get much more amusing results if you start early.)
Location of the mother: Absent. But, I mean, this is a character who had unprotected sex with Ryan Lochte, so I can't think anyone would be surprised.
The One That Leaves Me Wishing I Could Download All the Adorable Photos Taken During the Story. Whyyyyy Can't I Make Photos Appear with Just the Power of My Brain? I Swear I Would Use My Power Only for Good! Enough to Crush Your Veins, by doctor_denmark. Hockey RPF, Jeff Skinner/Eric Staal.
When this story first came out, I had several late-night arguments with people about it. And that is definitely a sign of a quality story: people, some of whom have CHILDREN and all of whom have to get up in the morning, spending precious sleep time a) reading a story and b) communicating with friends in other locations who are also up way too late reading the same story. (My father, when I was little, used to tell me about a strange time in our country's history when almost everyone watched the SAME TV SHOWS at the SAME TIME. It was like the world's least social party, the way he described it. "That'll never happen again, of course," he said. If he were alive today, I would tell him that it still does happen. Sort of. In the sense of several thousand people all reading the same pornographic fan fiction story at the same time and mutually shrieking about it via email and Twitter. The thing about my dad is that he would probably have found that inspiring proof of humanity's basic amazingness.)
Anyway. So basically this is the story that put nanny AUs in a box marked done for me, because I'm never going to be able to read all the way through another one without taking this one out and reading it again. It is GREAT. It is CLASSIC. And it works for me - well, okay, first it works for me because the toddler OC is an actual toddler. (I cannot read stories featuring alien toddlers from another dimension. Unless of course they are billed that way. Which reminds me: why don't people write Vulcan toddlers more often? WHERE IS THE VULCAN TODDLER FIC?) But mostly it works because it takes an abused, overused plot element (two people who really need to talk to each other and yet don't) and perfects it. This is how that's supposed to be done, is basically what I take away from this story: two people being idiots, yes, but because of reasons! It makes all the difference.
And, oh, there is so much glorious stuff here. I don't want to spoil it for you, but trust me: if this is the kind of thing you like, then you will basically want to wallow in this story, roll around in it, maybe print out a copy so you can put hearts in the margins in some places. Not that I have done any of those things. (Except I do re-read this basically every time I'm sick, which, given that I have my very own germ vector, means I've re-read it at least 20 times since it was posted. In April. One area of raising a toddler where this story does not achieve realism is in the area of constant illness, but I just assume Eric and Jeff and Joey all have superhuman immune systems, which are probably issued to you free through public health care up in Canada.)
Location of the mother: Present (albeit temporarily in another country)! A good parent who is ACTUALLY INVOLVED IN HER CHILD'S LIFE WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.
The One That Confirms My Theory That Airports Were Put in This World to Test Us to Destruction. Don't You Shake Alone, by dira. Generation Kill, Brad Colbert/Nate Fick.
I always feel like I'm cheating when I recommend a story by Dira. Everyone knows she's good by now, right? Everyone who would even consider reading a lengthy Generation Kill based kidfic did so immediately after she posted it, right? It's like: Dira wrote a good story. In other news, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a basically perfect human being and this Labrador Retriever puppy is cute enough to make your teeth hurt.
But in the end, I don't recommend a story based on whether I think there's an English-reading fan anywhere in the solar system who is unaware of it; I recommend a story because a) I want to write about it and b) I want Best Beloved to read it. (She refuses to read stories I go on about at length unless I actually sit down and write about them. This is the motivation for like 90% of the recommendations I've made in the past four years. TFV Marriage Tip #382: Know how to motivate your partner, and then use that knowledge to make her do things she actually wants to do anyway.)
So. This story is incredible. And not just because it's frankly adorable kidfic set against a background of realistic PTSD, which is not something most writers could manage. This story - like, I read this and I cannot believe that Dira doesn't have children, because she depicts, perfectly and clearly, the complete sea change a new baby brings to your life, and how being a new parent is kind of like - well, in birth classes they talk about "pain with a purpose," because the purpose is supposed to make all the difference. As far as labor goes, this is bullshit. Labor pain is pain. (It's pain with an END, which is way more important than a purpose, at least to me.) But being the parent of a new baby actually is pain with a purpose, and the purpose is making you attach so fiercely to a tiny helpless human that you would cheerfully kill hundreds of people to protect the useless larva that has kept you from sleeping or doing any uninterrupted tasks for the past three months. If human beings were intelligently designed, it was by someone with a massively warped sense of humor.
And if there was ever a fandom designed to underscore the warped nature of human reproduction and development, Generation Kill is that fandom. No one gets how fucked up basically everything is like Marines, is what I'm saying. Plus, the fundamentals of baby care involve a lot of sleep deprivation and random bodily fluids. Again, sort of the wheelhouse of the US Marines. (I'd suggest everyone hire a Marine as a babysitter, but it would have a deleterious effect on the vocabulary of the next generation.)
So this story is just fundamentally right. Plus, you know, hot, sweet, gorgeous, perfect - enough said GO READ.
Location of the mother: Planned absence.
The One That Proves That What Every Parent Really Needs Is Superhuman Senses and Magical Powers. I - Find This Unfair. Kindred, by maldoror_gw. Naruto, Gaara/Rock Lee.
Yes, okay, technically this is a sequel (although you could read it as a standalone, but why in god's name would you want to?) to Diplomatic Relations. I'm recommending it anyway because:
- It is a great story in its own right.
- If you haven't read Diplomatic Relations yet, that's a tragedy, and if you want to live a tragedy that is your choice and I can't be held responsible. All I can do is try to show you the light.
My own theory for how maldoror_gw decided to write this story is that she was sitting in her home one day, thoughtfully considering Gaara, as you do, and she suddenly realized there was something even more terrifying to contemplate than Gaara in love: Gaara with a CHILD. Parenting a child. Raising a child! (If you have no idea who Gaara is, it shouldn't hold you back from reading this story, by the way. He's a psychopathic, demon-infested ninja whose childhood consisted entirely of trauma and killing. But as an adult he's really much improved, and some optimistic people even believe he might have a facial expression someday. In short: spacetoaster!) It really is the kind of concept to give you nightmares.
But this story is the exact opposite of a nightmare. Yes, that's in part because Rock Lee, whatever his other faults (mostly excessive enthusiasm and sincerity, and if you don't think sincerity can be a fault, obviously you need to read up on Rock Lee), was basically designed to be a good parent (despite having a traumatic childhood; as far as I can tell from my limited exposure to Naruto, the number of ninjas with traumatic childhoods is all of them). But it's also because Gaara is used to working around his faults, and there is no more accurate description of parenthood than that.
This story is funny, fun, and touching, basically all the things good kidfic should be. Plus it features ninjas in love. I'm not sure how things can ever be better than that. (Okay, maybe if you also added robots? I don't know, it might be overkill, but in my experience robots usually make things better.)
Location of the mother: Deceased, but this is Naruto, where like 80% of adults don't make it past 30, or at least that's how it looks to me from my place of total lack of canon knowledge. (To give you some idea, Rock Lee was orphaned at an early age. Gaara's mother died when he was born and his father died later; you could list "Gaara" as the cause of death for both of them with reasonable accuracy.)
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.