(And, yes, the established relationship stories bring out the schmoop in me. I can't help it. You should see what I'm like when I recommending kidfic. If you're emotionally diabetic or otherwise have a low sugar tolerance, you might want to skip the summaries and go straight to the FF, which is really not all that excessively sweet. I swear.)
Best FF That Really Turns an Certain Shopping-Related Gender Stereotype on Its Head. And, You Know, Describes Some Head in the Process. (Yes, I'm Sorry About the Pun.) The Price That You Pay, by maygra and Bone, aka thisisbone. The Fast and the Furious, Brian O'Conner/Dominic Toretto. OK. Have you read the Unfinished Business series? Because if you haven't, go read it right now. I don't care if you haven't seen the movie, because all you need to know about it is that it's about two guys who like cars and are so obviously fucking between every shot that sometimes you can still see the lube, at least Christ you hope that's lube, left in the picture, and that it has an ending that is simultaneously "wow, cool" and "wait, that's it? That is so not it. So not it that I am going to write post-movie FF right now, damn you all to hell." So. You've read UB, so you know how Maygra (who if she doesn't totally hate me by now should email me, 'cause I'm afraid to email her, on account of, you know, she should hate me) manages to make it all better. With beatings and kidnappings and a lot of things we don't usually associate with the phrase "all better," but it works. Now read what happens after UB, when Brian goes undercover again. With Dom on his side, this time. Note that more of Maygra's favorite things occur in this story, and also that it has a plot. No, a Plot, capital and everything. You start this one, sweetheart, you are finishing it. Before you sleep tonight. Probably before you can tear yourself away from the computer.
Best FF That Provided the Strongest Temptation I've Yet Encountered to Make Cutesy Puns out of Hackneyed Phrases About How Only the Blind Can Truly See, Blah Blah Tiresias Blah. No Need to Thank Me for Resisting; the Sanity I Saved Was My Own. You'd Forgotten Love Could Mean This, by Delilah, and does anyone have a LJ or link for her? Please? Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. OK, y'all, let's get the warnings out of the way first: this is disability fic. Also, it's told in alternating first and second person, which is a tough device, so we should all be impressed with how well it works, but I'm warning you that you may also be a bit tired of it before the story is done. So, feeling like moving on to another story, perhaps a whole other universe? First let me tell you why you should read this. Because, see, you can learn everything you need to know about the way to tell a story from this one. Here, Jack is blind, permanently and irremediably blind. If Delilah had started with the mission on which he was blinded, written about them nearly losing him, written about him dealing with the first days of blindness, all of that and all of it in chronological order, this story would be impossibly painful. But instead she starts a year after, and so, you know, it really isn't that hard to take. It's mostly about the things that make Jack Jack, and how it turns out sight isn't on that list. And it's about Daniel, too, and...well, I can't really explain this without spoiling the whole thing, but trust me when I tell you that you will finish this story feeling vaguely sorry for several people, but blind Jack O'Neill isn't one of them.
Best FF That Could Be Used as a Teaching Material for Toddlers. Only, Wait, No, It Totally Couldn't. A Is for Apple, by pearl_o. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. (This actually starts at the first time and goes right through into the established relationship, but to me it's about the, well, establishing of the relationship, and thus it belongs in this category.) Those of us who have spent perhaps too much time evaluating alphabet concept books for preschoolers will understand why the most profoundly impressive thing about this to me - more impressive than the coherent story told through teeny snippets, more impressive than the way each snippet is both part of the story and a story itself - is the word she came up with for X. Because it's a) an actual word b) appropriate and suitable and c) not the easy way out. I mean, she could've gone for x-ray, given the way these guys attract trouble, or x-rated, given, you know, that this isn't exactly a primer and so there'd be nothing wrong with the guys sitting down with a bit of porn, but she didn't take the obvious roads. And that, my friends, is amazing. Note: there's a point in the story that will get a bit scary for those who carry the Ray K and Fraser Forever banner - and I think we all know who you are - but do not fear; this story was written by Cheerful Pearl-o – happy story, happy ending. (In my head, Pearl-o's Evil Twin is the one who puts out all those incredible, compelling stories that draw you in and then rip your heart out and dance on the fragments.) Of course, there's a downside to this story. Namely, that I could do with at least 3,000 words on most of these snippets. But notice how I am not whining at Cheerful Pearl-o to write them; admire my restraint.
Best FF That Proves That All You Need to Make a Story Is One Really Good Metaphor. Percentage Points, by gritkitty. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. Of course, it helps if this metaphor is funny, and this one is. And it also helps that Blair is who he is; I mean, there's maybe three characters I can imagine thinking like this, because there just aren't all that many people in the world who would equate groping with investing in war bonds, but Blair totally would. And, see, I'd describe more of this story, but a) you should just go read it, 'cause it's good and almost elementally jimblairy and b) I have this whole flight of fancy when I read this story that totally destroys my ability to talk about it sanely and calmly. Don't believe me? Well, see, I can't read this story without picturing the battle sequences in Lord of the Rings. Specifically, the one where Isildur took the One Ring. Which means I'm viewing Blair's sex drive as, say, a contingent of human swordsmen, his hunger as a bunch of orcish pikemen, and Blair's brain as, well, Mordor, I guess. Um. Yeah, that's probably mostly attributable to the massive doses of codeine I was on when I first read this, because upon reflection I don't think Grit Kitty intended for the reader to equate Jim with Isildur. Although this does suggest something very interesting about Blair's nipple ring that I am not, not, not thinking about ever ever again, because it is the living definition of crossover crackfic. And I'm finishing this recs set before I put any more of my insanity on parade.