Warning: if you're already borderline paranoid, you'll probably want to skip these, unless you think you'd enjoy a future in which you cannot have sex without assuming that someone, somewhere, is watching.
Best FF That Teaches Us That Discourtesy Has Consequences, and That We Should Therefore Always Remember to Knock. Unless, of Course, We Wish to Make Difficult Yet Erotic Discoveries. Intruding, by helvirago. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Sort of. Those are the characters involved in this story, anyway. And what is the story? Well, certain psychologists say our lives are all stimulus and response. It's possible one of them wrote this story, although I really hope that helvirago is not B. F. Skinner in disguise, because that boy was creepy. But this is a story any behaviorist could love. Fraser is, um, stimulated. And then he responds. If there's a moral to this story besides "it only takes an extra minute to be courteous," it's, "you know, hotels put locks on both sides of connecting doors for a reason, folks." (Never say that slash hasn't given you words to live by.) This story will also help you to understand the importance of watching. Because, hey, it's the best way to learn, yup? And you want to learn, don't you? I'm sure you do. At least, you probably wouldn't mind learning what Ray Kowalski has to teach.
Best FF That Teaches Us That Homemade Pornography Should Be Handled Like Radioactive Waste: Reduced to a Mass of Charged Electrons or Buried in Secret Vaults Guaranteed to Hold for 15,000 Years: Masking Tape, by Cita Powers, and does anyone have a link for her? Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Danny experiences the joys of voyeurism once removed, and Casey learns the folly of leaving your amateur porn in the hands of others. They have a typical spat that is resolved with stubbornness and synonyms. In other words, this is Danny and Casey doing their thing, the thing that makes it impossible for anyone who sees the show to believe they aren't totally, totally in love. Take home lesson from this one (aside from the porn thing, which I really hope you already knew): those stupid things you did in college can bite you in the butt when you least expect it. So, you know, if you are in college right now, do your stupid things, but also do your best to burn the evidence, OK? And if you're already finished with college, well, your best shot is probably to start honing some humorous stories. Or I guess you could flee the country and start a new life under a stolen name. Whichever.
Best FF That Teaches Us the Importance of Checking for Surveillance Devices Before Beginning Any Private Activity, Although You Probably Want to Do That Secretly to Avoid Unfortunate and Totally Unnecessary Committal Hearings: Maybe There Are Secret Places, by Te, aka thete1. D.C. Universe (Batclan), Barbara Gordon (Oracle) and Bruce Wayne (Batman), but not exactly as a pairing. For those who can only do the slash thing, well - this isn't slash. It isn't het either, exactly. But there's descriptions of, you know, girly parts*. Caveat lectrix. So. The Bats are sort of, well, creepy, you know? They spend their nights flitting around dangerous cities in tight clothes and yet they are never arrested for prostitution. They fight crime with advanced technology, amazing skills, and more mental illness than any given state hospital for the criminally insane could possibly handle, and yet, to the best of our knowledge, they aren't even taking Prozac. It should be no surprise to anyone that they are as twisted in their time off as they are when they're swinging moodily through the rain, thinking, well, whatever thoughts it is that Batpersons think, which I frankly think we're all better off not knowing. So, yes, we've got our full complement of Bat-twistiness in this story. What's impressive, though, is that this is all about an under-fic'd character, Barbara Gordon. Here, we learn that she has what it takes to be truly Batty. And also that even Bruce's paranoia sometimes nods. The second take-home lesson here? That repression works for heroes, and it can work for you, too.
Best FF That Teaches Us That Privacy Isn't Much of a Feature of the Superhero Lifestyle. And, Also, That Mick Jagger Was Apparently Hot in Some Strange Alternate Universe. Steaming, by Jane St. Clair, aka 3jane. The Authority, Apollo/Midnighter, Jenny Sparks/Shen. Look, I love Charles Xavier as much as the next person (unless the next person is Magneto), but Jenny Sparks is a much more realistic leader. Xavier's principled. Jenny's pragmatic. And in this particular case, she's using her special abilities to, well, check on her people. And if those people happen to be doing things they'd rather keep private - well, let's just say that at this point I very much doubt that Jenny has any illusions about her behavior. She does it because she can. And that, my friends, is the difference between the way Marvel sees humans with special powers and the way I think they'd really be. And it's not because Jenny is evil - she is emphatically not. She's just, well, on a different plane, I think. And she's a good leader, to the extent that anyone could be for her crew. If that's not enough to make you love this story, there's also a lovely look at the private lives of Apollo and Midnighter, who really do seem to be the only happy people in their world sometimes. Here we have love without schmoop, sex without smut. It's an education, is what this story is. The second thing this story should teach you is probably to love Jane St. Clair as much as I do.
* I did indeed say "girly parts." If you read my recent rant, you'll know there are an estimated 3.4 million worse words to use for "cunt," including every single word in the vocabulary of the average American 5-year-old. If you're wise, you'll take "girly parts" and like it, because the alternatives are, trust me on this, the kind of worse that leads to prolonged hospital stays and a great intimacy with neuroleptic pharmaceuticals. And do you really want to be the person twitching and moaning, "the cookie...the cookie...put it in the kitten..." on the rubber mattress? Thought not. Girly parts it is.