Obviously, the time has come for a plan. But I'm not so good with plans, so I had to come up with something else. My secret weapon against the evil that is clearly lurking somewhere in this set: total indifference. I've decided that I will just write this damn set and then post it and then it will be done and done. And there will be dancing in the streets. One street, anyway. If I decide to dance there.
So: the stories mentioned below are of incredible quality, yes - I've had tons of time to hone this set - but you might want to skip the descriptions today and head right for the fiction.
Best FF That Exposes the Hidden Evil Inherent in Neverland. Only, If You Ask Me, It Never Was All That Hidden, Because That Is One Terrifying Concept, Folks. A Hundred Years Ago, by trifles. Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan/James. I read this story just a few days ago, and it is the trigger that made me decide I would finish this set come hell, high water, or a total loss of any working knowledge of the English language, because everyone in the world needs to read this now now now. It's amazing. I'm probably slightly biased in its favor, because I always found J. M. Barrie's works seriously twisty, and I don't mean the fun kind of twisty, either. But I don't think you need to understand the horror concealed behind Peter Pan's careless grin to love this story. In "A Hundred Years Ago," Wendy is new to Neverland, and she's learning all Peter Pan's secrets via the canonical method of dream sorting. (No, really. Barrie thinks it's a good thing for mothers to sort through their children's brains and rearrange the contents. Tell me this man wasn't in need of massive doses of neuroleptic drugs, and I will scoff. Well, scoff and then flee, because just thinking about him makes me all wibbly.) And Peter Pan's history is, after all, the history of Neverland. I will say no more, except: read. Now.
Best FF That Makes Me Long to Be Lyrically Compared to the Elimination of Third World Debt. Favorably, I Guess, Though I'd Be Willing to Go Either Way. Story of My Life, That. Breathe, by Jess, aka fearlessfan. The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne/Marie Kreutz. (Yes, it's het. No one get all shocky, now.) You need to know at least a little about the canon (books or movies) to read this one. This is set between the two movies, and for the full effect you really need to have seen both of them, but you'll still get a lot of it if you've only seen the first, or only read the first book. (And you won't get spoiled, either.) This is Jason and Marie and the time they have together, with Marie learning exactly who Jason Bourne is, maybe just a little faster than he himself learns the same thing. This story is amazing, and not just because it captures the two characters so perfectly, or makes them so real; the most stunning thing is that it's so very much better than the canon. Seriously. Ludlum dreams of writing like this. Or, no, he doesn't, because he's more fixated on big breasts and pointy sticks and things going boom, but if he knew about good writing he'd want to be as good as Jess is. And the movies were really quite surprisingly tolerable, but they weren't like this. This is just really damn good, and there's nothing more I can say about it. Well, nothing I could formulate coherently in this set, anyway.
Best FF That Should Come with a Warning Reading "Caution: After You've Read This, You'll Want to Make Lasagna, So Best Get the Stuff Now." Or Am I the Only One Who Needs That Warning? The Object of My Erections, by Francesca, aka cesperanza. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. Here's a good reason why y'all don't want me to hold fire on a recommendations set for five months: I tend to eliminate the funny and happy excellent stories from the set and replace them with excellent but vaguely (or not so vaguely) grim and creepy stories. I might've eliminated this, too, except that there's just no way I could. Because, first, this story is everything I love about the Sentinel fandom - the sense of inevitability, the one-liners, the numerous ludicrous sensory and mystical reasons for nearly everything the Jim/Blair entity (yes, they are indeed one entity - it's canonical, man!) does. Also, second, the dialog here just makes me giggle like a schoolgirl, because in this fandom you can choose your flavor, angst or snark, and they both work just the same. (I prefer the snark, myself. Did I really need to spell that out?) Finally, it has the world's silliest title, which is reason enough to feel the love, I think. So, here we have Jim having dreams about a wolf and a panther getting up to activities not typical of their species, which means that Sandburg and Ellison are in for a (really very minor) lifestyle change. And then there's lasagna.
Best FF That Reminds Us, Yet Again, That Batman Is a Swinging, Pointy-Eared Angst Vector, and If the DCU CDC Had Any Sense He'd Be Quarantined for Everyone Else's Good. Our Dreams Pursue Our Dead, by derryderrydown, who is back on my "beloved authors" list now that she's named this work of - um, startling brilliance and seriously disturbing content. D.C. Universe, Dick Grayson/Jason Todd. I am not kidding you. And while it's hard to imagine that pairing ever getting down with the sweetness and light, this is about as deep into darkness and gravity as its possible to go. Hence, this warning: this story is as disturbing as all fuck. In case you're not up for something short and creepy, I'll be offering a certified safe alternative story for this one. (I'm not going to get into the habit of that for the DCU, so don't think it. It's just - yeeee. This story is scary, and I want people who are reading this at night to have a choice.) So, you want a story summary? Go back and take another look at the pairing. Says it all, folks, and that way I don't have to make this longer than the whole story is. Now read this - if you dare - and then join me in hoping that this really is a story about dreaming. Because if it isn't - yikes.
Best FF Showing Us That Those Who Live in the D.C. Universe Are Not Like Others. For One Thing, They Don't Even Blink When They're Awakened in a Distinctly Creepy Fashion, Whereas the Rest of Us Would Be, at Best, Calling an Exorcist. Come down Breathless, by Te, aka thete1. DC Universe/Teen Titans, Tim Drake (as Robin III)/Kon-El (Superboy). I'm including their superhero names because they're definitely using their superhero personalities here, and also because it's getting even more difficult to figure out what part Tim's playing these days, what with the stories where he's Robin and the ones where he isn't and the ones where he is again, only angrier, and, well, all I can say is that the DCU needed only this Robin mess (I mean, really. Is he still Robin III? Is he now Robin V? Does anyone know?) to guarantee it the title "Most Confusing Fandom" for at least the next decade. Um. Not that this makes me all ranty or anything. Moving on to the actual story. Here we have an excellent candidate for a Mutant Sex Award, with Kon's powers playing silly buggers (Um. So to speak.), and Tim being, you know, Tim, because no other character would ever handle this situation quite this way. Well, except maybe Batman, although I suspect Batman would have an entirely different way of dealing with this. (It would likely involve a remotely controlled droid-bug-thing dispatched to Kon's room, a new monitor programmed to wake Kon up every subsequent time he began using his powers while sleeping, and one efficient and not especially funny joke for the sake of team camaraderie. 'Cause that's our beloved Batman, folks - eight times voted "most likely to be a villain in an alternate universe where the Joker is a good guy" and eleven times voted "superhero whose mental stability even other angst-ridden superheroes worry about.") Anyway. This story is a PWP that is totally worth reading for the characterizations and power play. Plus, you know, it's porn written by Te, so it's worth reading for other reasons.