So instead I went with sarcasm about kissing. It had a certain appeal.
Best FF That Shows Us That There Are Bad Habits, and Then There Are Very, Very Good Ones. Unplanned, by Beth H., aka bethbethbeth. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. For some reason, stories that don't use kissing as just a quick stop on the road to hot kinky sex seem to be more common in big fandoms. I think maybe in small fandoms there's too much tension; the writers are thinking, shit, if I don't get them fucking, who will? Whereas in larger fandoms people can have a certain confidence that if they don't get to the 69-while-hanging-from-a-chandelier* part, someone else will. This story doesn't get to the inverted oral sex, but I think you'll agree that it doesn't need to. I've loved this for a long time, had it in the recs database for a long time, but watching the canon made it so much better. Because the thing is, lots of times the guys looked like they were about to do this, like this is exactly what would happen if they forgot themselves for a second. They acted like a couple, so much so that there were scenes that seemed to end just before Ray and Fraser casually, coolly, and calmly stuck their tongues in each other's mouths. (And, yes, I will eventually stop trying to make everyone watch the dS canon. But those of you who have been here for a while may remember the SN Siege, when I had Obsessive-Compulsive SN Recommending Disorder for a month. This may be like that. Just warning y'all.)
Best FF That Will Make You Clutch Your Gum and Your Porn to Your Bosom, So Be Careful; No One Likes Sticky Porn. Things to Get Arrested For in Singapore, by shrift. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. Choosing this one was tough; SN has so many excellent kissing stories. But in the end, I had to go with this one, because it's just so Danny to do this; he's one of the very few people, real or imaginary, who can be annoying and adorable at the same time. (Mind you, dogs do this effortlessly pretty much all the time. It's only people who usually can't manage it.) Shrift sees this. She gets this. Which is why I love her dearly even though I cannot look at her name without wanting to re-read The Phantom Tollbooth. Or it's one of the reasons, anyway; there are many reasons to love Shrift, just as there are many reasons to love this story. (Yes, fine, I know that was a lame transition. If you can think of something better, let me know.) I love the structure of this story, how you go through the day following this recurring theme (or, hey, trope). It feels almost like an episode, with lots of snappy, funny dialog and a surprisingly touching conclusion. Plus there's random information about Singapore. How could I not love it? I couldn't. And you should join me in this love.
Best FF That Demonstrates the Deleterious Effect Confessions of Cannibalistic Urges Can Have on Your Sleeping Arrangements, So You Wannabe Cannibals Should Think Before You Speak. Or Not. Definitely Not If You're Sharing My Bed. Kryptonite, by mimesere. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz "I've Forgotten His Real First Name Again" Osbourne/Xander "I Do Remember His But I Never Can Bring Myself to Use It" Harris. I have a weakness for Oz, that lycanthropic sayer of the strangest right things in the fewest possible words. But the thing that makes me love him makes him hard to write. (I suspect that the canon writers took him out of the show so that they wouldn't have to think so hard all the time.) Which means that a story like this one, where Oz sounds like Oz - I will go a long way for such a story. I will read Oz/Buffy for that. (I'd even consider Oz/Dawn, although I'd have to punish myself for Bad Bad Thoughts afterward.) Which makes it all the more wonderful that I didn't have to go anywhere unfortunate for "Kryptonite" - this is one of my favorite BtVS pairings, right here. I think we can all rejoice about Oz/Xander sex. And we can be happy about the length of this story, too; it's surprisingly long for an "only a kiss" piece. Note, particularly, the last segment - look at how much Mimesere manages to convey in such a short and seemingly trivial piece of writing, how much she manages to suggest without showing a thing. That is perfect, folks, a perfect ending, and not an easy thing to write. Be amazed.
Best Slash FF Featuring Entirely Chaste Behavior on the Part of All Participants. Or As Chaste As These Guys Ever Get. Nesting Place, by destina. Master and Commander, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey. This is very non-explicit, and what I like about it is how well it illustrates a certain thing about the M&C books. Because, OK, there's one part of one sentence in this story that Patrick O'Brian would never have written (at least as far as we know, although, let's face it, we don't know much about the guy - he could've been writing all manner of Age of Sail gay sex scenes in the privacy of his home, and, god, I'd love to live in a universe where he did); if you take that itty bitty part out, this whole thing, including the kiss, could've come directly from the books. Jack and Stephen are that close. Which makes the books so slashy they almost transcend slashiness. Reading them, I generally get the feeling the O'Brian was just being reticent and polite and eliding the sex parts. (Which, yes, I'm sure would mortify the guy if he was still alive. I'm reporting how I feel, not what I think, OK?) But I'm more with the nosy and the details and the smut, so I like Destina's approach, which is writing like O'Brian minus the gallant, respectful courtesy.
* Is it wrong that I can see - well, no, but hear - this happening?
"I can't take this much longer. All the blood's rushing to my head."
"Whine whine whine. You think I'm happy? I got the world's worst wedgie, here."
"So cut the fucking cord already."
"Yeah, right. You like toast? You wanna be toast? 'Cause that's what'll happen if we fall."
"Jesus. Just - feeling really light-headed, here. Can't you die like this?"
"I'm not dying with my face two inches from some jackass's crotch, thanks." [thoughtful pause] "Huh. So, you really uncomfortable down there?"
"I told you, I'm dying -" [zzzzzzt] "What - oh. Oh. Oh Jesus God."
"Yes. Yes. Yes - oh no you shit don't you fucking dare stop."
"So. More comfy now? A little less blood pooling in your head?"
"No! I'm not more comfortable! Go back to what you were doing!"
"Maybe I would if you put that mouth to some use besides </i>whining</i>."
"Yeah, sure, OK." [zzzzt] "Mmmmm."
And I refuse to say what fandom that was in on the grounds that it may - no, would - incriminate me. It wasn't any of the ones recommended above, though; I'll tell you that for free. Now allow me to slink off in shame for even thinking, let alone actually transcribing, this.