(Secret message to everyone in the whole world: I've got serious, possibly permanent server problems, so I'm getting my mail in drips and drabs and way late. If I haven't responded to an email or a comment, I haven't gotten it yet. I'm going to check the comments to this entry rather than just waiting for LJ notifications, so if you want or need to talk to me, or if I missed something important, leave a comment here.
Secret message, part two: I've just come out of a period of sleep deprivation of the kind that leaves a person incoherent, twitchy, and very possibly insane, so if I recently left a comment in your LJ or sent you an email that sounds, um, seriously weird, please ignore it. I promise not to take to the internet in the future unless I have had at least six hours of sleep out of the last 36. No, wait; that means I'll never be here again. Well, maybe I'll install a program that tests my lucidity before it lets me interact with the world. Anyone know of one?)
Best FF Featuring Percy Weasley and Adrian Pucey Working to the Same End, Which Would Probably Kill Them Both If They Knew About It. Hee! True But Not Nice, by V, aka deepsix. Harry Potter, Marcus Flint/Oliver Wood. This story really had me at the first paragraph, which is so perfectly high school that I had to obtain alcoholic refreshment before I could continue reading. (Yes, memories of high school do make me want chemical oblivion. Or maybe it's that I'm hoping I'll manage to destroy the brain cells responsible for said memories. Really, given what I can recall of that period of my life, either explanation seems likely.) The story carries on feeling just like adolescence, too, from the incredible rumor-mongering (really, don't these boys have spells to practice or blowjobs to give or something?) to the remarkable maturity displayed by all concerned (kindergartners have more instinctive grace and empathy than Pucey as writen by V) to the obsession with other people's love lives. Well, wait. I'm actually more obsessed with other people's love lives now than I was then, provided I'm allowed to count characters as people (and, hey, I know some of them better than my own sister, so I hope like hell I can count them as people). Scratch that last one. So, this story: very true, not especially nice, but with an ending that reminds you why you bothered to grow up. Plus, it's got Oliver Wood in it, and my Best Beloved feels strongly that there should be more stories about him. An all-round winner, in other words.
Best FF Featuring the Best Summary Ever of the Entire Batverse: "A Lifetime of Secrets, Angst, and Danger." What Fun They Do Have, Those Batties. Go Down Knowing, by Te, aka thete1. D.C. Universe, Tim Drake/Bernard Dowd*. So. You'd think Tim would already know everything there is to know about the difficulty of having multiple lives. But no, the Batworld can always think of something new to throw at him. How do Bats handle relationships with normal humans? Extensive experimentation (see Batman, issues 1 - infinity, for example) would indicate that they don't. Can't. And Tim is a good boy. He follows the rules. And if he leaves himself an out? Well, hey; he found the Batclan with his phenomenal research skills and stubbornness and methodical insanity. (Which all proved he was so right for the clan that they had to recruit him before the bad guys did, but that's another story.) Maybe someone else can figure it out that way, too, and wouldn't that be a sign from above. This is one of those stories that leaves me longing for a sequel every time I read it, and grouchily muttering under my breath when I discover it's still a stand alone.
Best FF That Proves That Giving in to Your Baser Impulses Leads to Embarrassment. And Hot Sex. So Give in to Your Baser Impulses Today! The Maiden Voyage of the Tiresias, by Shalott, aka astolat. Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson. Have I mentioned how I tremble in fear every time I visit Shalott's page? Because I do. The woman can make me read Aubrey/Maturin genderswitch babyfic, for Christ's sake, and like it. When she acquires a new fandom, it seems like only a matter of time before I do, too. (Still holding out on Stargate, though, by god.) In this story we have - something really quite indescribable, actually, so I'll skip describing it (there's cross-dressing, though, and Watson being Watson, and some surprisingly touching, um, touching). Instead, I'll talk about Holmes/Watson. This is a pairing I just started reading (any recs, anyone?) after avoiding it for my entire time in fandom. And I avoided it because it made no sense; I just couldn't picture Holmes ever voluntarily getting that messy or involved with people, except in pursuit of a case. What I forgot was the other side of Holmes, the one that seeks out socially unacceptable mess (opium dens and docks and slums) and clings to Watson as a balance for his self-destructive tendencies and an anchor to, you know, the real world, which is not necessarily something Holmes has much direct personal contact with. Shalott reminded me of all that with this story, which would have killed Sir Artie, and which is so perfectly in character and in canon that I almost believed Sir Artie wrote it. Damn it all, I've got a new fandom. Another one. At least it's a very, very small one.
Best FF That Features Explicit Sexual Fantasies in the Presence of an Observant Nun, and Yet Doesn't Make My Flesh Crawl. Pattern Recognition, by actizera. Oz, Tobias Beecher/Christopher Keller. Thank god I didn't offer to do this set without Oz, too, because there just can't be a secrets and lies set that doesn't include Oz, the fandom of secrets and lies. This story shows the side of Beecher that's so damn good at self-analysis, so good at it and yet so incapable of taking action based on it, and so facile that he can lie to himself even as he's thinking about the truth, which is an impressive skill, I think you'll admit. And it also illustrates the biggest problem that Beecher/Keller faced, which is, in essence, secrets and lies. When they were together, there were nine thousand strings pulling them apart; everyone had a reason for opposition, and everyone also had a real reason, the reason they didn't tell, the reason they covered up. In this story, it's Sister Pete, who cares about Beecher and who wants the best for him. Unless the best involves Keller, because she just fucking cannot stand Keller. (Not to say that she doesn't have reason, mind you. She's one of the many blades of grass Keller tromped down in his single-minded Beecherquest, and she can't forget it.) Moral of this story? Don't piss off a nun, I guess, although I would hope you all already knew that, because nuns are really damn scary.
* Thanks, Te! I now know one more thing than I did before. And that thing is that someone at DC has a wicked sense of humor when it comes to names.