When well done, the vignette series has all the charm and allure of a drabble with all the meat and content of a much larger piece. (I realize I sound like I'm writing copy for a diet food. I can only beg your indulgence. And, hell, Indulgence is probably the name of the diet food.) The medium is flexible, absorbing, and...dammit, now I'm writing paper towel copy. Look, clearly I'm not up to much on the writing front today. So let's just move on to the fics.
Best FF That Proves Once and for All That There's Nothing Sexier Than Linguistic Terminology and Men Who Call Other Men 'Mother': Ten Things to Get Used to, by Speranza, aka cesperanza. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. You know, there's going to be a time - relatively soon, at this rate - when I'll have recommended every due South story Speranza has written. And there will be tears on that day, I tell you, and possibly rending of cloth. But until then, I will continue to urge everyone on Earth to read Speranza's entire oeuvre. (Ooo! I'm not just a hack ad writer today, apparently, but a pretentious one.) What else could I possibly do for a woman who has written not one but four stories with numbers in the title? "Ten" (yes, I'm back to the story now, so you can stop skimming) is a series of looks at Ray and Fraser after "Call of the Wild," nicely settled in an established relationship in the back of beyond. I love the little things about this story - the argument with Phil, Fraser's version of a proposal, the world's best use of the word "fuck." I also love the big things about this story, but I'll leave those for you to discover on your own.
Best FF That Appeals to the Latin Geek in All of Us. Because There Is a Latin Geek in All of Us, Right? Right?: Twelve Latin Phrases That Aren't Quo Vadimus, aka Some Ways It Didn't End, by scrunchy. Sports Night, assorted pairings and gen. In case you didn't know, Sports Night is off the air. ("Sports Night is dead. Long live Sports Night!") But, really, that doesn't mean it's gone - it's just been transmuted into a far more wonderful form: fandom. Don't believe me? The series only had one ending. This story alone offers twelve endings. Truly an embarras de richesses. And the whole fandom is like that, chock full of sporty goodness, so won't you join the SN Cult today? Um. Message from the people who have taken over my brain ends. Now that I have recovered full control of my hands, I must type a warning for those of you who like happy endings. Let's just say there are some of those here. Also some endings that feel like a real gut punch, including the second to the last one, which will probably bring back unpleasant memories for Americans and especially NYC residents. But no matter how you like your SN - slash, het, gen, happy, sad, mad - your needs will be met by this story, and in fact by the fandom as a whole. See? Living proof that when the canon dies, the fandom just gets better.
Best FF That Manages to Make Sirius' Death Almost Acceptable, and Definitely Way More Acceptable Than the Canon Ever Has: Thirteen Ways, by Sinope, aka eponis. Harry Potter, Remus Lupin/Severus Snape. So let me explain the acceptable death comment before you put out a hit on me. See, there's no reason for Sirius to die in the canon, and I'll never forgive JKR for killing him just 'cause she felt like killing. (What is she, a literary sociopath?) But if there's one thing I like about the whole unfortunate business, it's that the shock and pain and loss gave rise to some truly brilliant FF. And this is definitely brilliant FF, and I am not at all biased even though I was clearly born to love this story. There's numbers! There's vignettes! There's great poetry by a dead guy! Really, there's everything I need, and the fact that the pairing makes me, um, slightly wibbly - well, that's just something I'll have to get past, you know? And, actually, this is the way for this pairing to work; this is the fic that persuaded me it could work, and without any messy personality transplants, either. As the author says in her summary, "Lupin and Snape don't have the luxury of new beginnings." They have to work with what they have, and part of that means clearing away a few decades' worth of messy backstory. O perfect love? Um, no. Better than perfect love? Indubitably.
Best FF That Has Guaranteed I Will Never Order a Sandwich in Cleveland. Or, Potentially, Anywhere Else.: Thirty-Two Short Fics about Xander Harris, by nwhepcat. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen. I don't want to get all distracted by the sandwich thing, so I'll just get this out of the way first: Wrongest. Sandwich. Ever. (Fear not, norah; there's no sex in this fic, just completely sex-free scary sandwiches. So you can read it. If you dare.) Now that I've gotten that out of the way - and believe me, it needed to be said - let's move on to the rest of this story. Because this story is brilliant. It isn't just that the author has captured the dialog and tone of the series so well, or that the character here really is Xander in all his glory, although those things are part of the overwhelmingly wonderful package. What's really amazing about this is that it's episode fic that really works. nwhepcat has added little bits to a bunch of different episodes, and those little bits show us so much more of Xander that it's really kind of sad these scenes weren't in the canon. Not enough for you? Well, we also get a look at post-series Xander in Cleveland, dealing with the Other Hellmouth, proving that life goes on, and so do the undead and the demons and the, um, terrifying foodstuffs. Oh, and you don't need to have seen BtVS to read this story - I haven't seen a lot of the episodes mentioned here - but you do need to be fairly familiar with the story arcs and so on, or else some of the short fics won't make sense.
Best Special Bonus Item That Will Stick a Song in Your Head for All Eternity. Don't Say You Weren't Warned.: 88 Lines about 44 Characters, by Valeria. Homicide: Life on the Streets, metathingy. This is today's Mutant Bonus Rec. It isn't a vignette, and isn't actually fiction, but it definitely meets the numbers criterion of this theme with room to spare. If you don't recognize the origin of the title you probably shouldn't bother reading it. But for those of us who are familiar with The Nails' "88 Lines about 44 Women," and who don't mind having it on cerebral auto-repeat for the next nine days...well, let's just say this is the shortest, handiest character index I've ever seen. Plus, you know, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it, and how many fandom summaries can you say that about?