Like, oh, why two guys who are nominally straight (and have a couple of unrealistic canon dates to prove it) suddenly decide to get their gay going. That one can be easy (Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg, we're all looking right at you). Or tough, or even verging on impossible (Hey there, Frank Pembleton!). But there's usually a moment when the characters have to say, hey, yeah, I want to fuck him. In other words, the guys have to take the first step of coming out. (Other choice: they can take the first step into verging-on-psychotic denial. Yeah, I like the coming out scenario better, too.) And then they have to tell each other, which means taking the second step of telling anyone else.
And then maybe they'll go for the hat trick and tell everyone else. Maybe. Because, see, that can be a problem. More so if, say, sodomy is a hanging offense than if they live in the world of The Wanting Seed, but usually we're somewhere in the middle; they might not die at the hands of the government, but they also probably won't get elected to high office solely because of their newfound skill in butt-sex.
In other words, FF spends a lot of time dealing with coming out. And so do these stories.
Best FF That Will Make It Advisable to Avoid Men Named Bob for the Near Future, Unless These Bobs Enjoy a Lot of Bad Jokes About Their Names. Flora and Fauna and Bob [the white-text-on-black-background bold-text version] or Flora and Fauna and Bob [The .txt version not on the author's website, offered here for those who can't read white-on-black without getting a migraine of apocalyptic proportions], by julianlee. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall. OK, I'll admit that we will be moving through some mildly rocky territory in this set - hey, no one said self-knowledge was easy, and sometimes other-people's-knowledge-about-you isn't, either - so I thought we'd start with something, you know, light. Funny. With great dialog and snappy one-liners. In other words, I thought we'd start off with something Sports Night. And I immediately thought of Julian Lee, whose greatest strength as an author just may be humorous dialog in authentically appropriate voice. (What a shock, you will say to yourself, that she writes Sorkinfic. Ah, yeah. No.) Here we have Danny making a date to consume alcohol with a couple of lovely lesbians. To no one's surprise (well, not if you've read in this fandom before), this situation leads to flirting, protectiveness, and - but of course - to Danny coming out to Casey and Casey coming out to himself, via the highly popular mechanism of office-based kissing. And also to some discussion of haircuts, because the guys can't spend all their time making out. (No, they can't. Well, I guess they can, but Danny and Casey kissing during their show would be a whole different kind of coming out. And a really scary one at that.)
Best FF That I Really Like Even Though I End up Listening to the Bloodhound Gang Every Damn Time I So Much As Think About It. The Bad Touch Series: Rough Trade, Bad Touch, Blood Sport, and Cutting Strings, by Laura Jacquez Valentine, aka jacquez. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. And because I believe that routine is the silent killer, let's head right on over to the "mildly rocky" portion of today's program. This is a fairly famous series in the fandom - you see it recommended everywhere - and that's partly because it's different. Not, you know, Blair-with-wings or Jim's-having-Blair's-baby different, just - not exactly fanon Jim and Blair, either. I don't actually see it as that far out there, but I know some people do. Not everyone loves this series, is what I'm saying. But I do. And, like most series I love, it gets better as it goes on; if you start it, you've got to make it to at least the third story (they're short, so you're not, like, getting married to it or anything, though, hey - maybe you'll want to), because that's where you get Blair reflecting on the modus operandi of the Jim-Blair relationship, and I find that fascinating (although he totally forgot a step, I'm telling you). Why is this story appropriate for this set? Well, it starts with Blair coming out to Jim, and ends with Jim coming out to himself. And it shows how ouchy that process can be. Also it shows some fairly, um, interesting (where "interesting" is a synonym for "potentially actionable, but no one is pressing charges") behavior in the first two. You're warning. Myself, I don't think it's that bad, and I think the last two explain it all perfectly, but, you know - mileage and all that.
Best FF That Makes Me Think Horrible Crossover-y Thoughts That I Know Could Never Work. And Yet I Can't Stop Wondering If This Is the Island that Jack Sparrow Is Governor Of. It's a Disease, I Think. The Undiscovered Ocean, by Shalott, aka astolat. Master & Commander, Stephen Maturin/Jack Aubrey. Remember how I said up above that it's tough to tell the world when sodomy is a crime? Well, that means that in some fandoms you'll never see the third step of coming out, because no one wants to see what has to happen after that. (And, seriously, please, no one ever write the AU where Stephen and Jack get executed for sodomy, because yeesh. I mean, I'm the last one to step on a person's artistic freedoms, and I can see where it could totally work, because - wait, no no no. Now I'm about to write it. And this is not that kind of fandom, and more importantly I am not that kind of girl. I really, really hope.) That ominous, looming fear of exposure, disgrace, and maybe death also means the writer usually has to create some kind of safe space for the characters to be able to get it on at all. I've seen this done with shore leaves and long cruises and gateless worlds and voyeuristic aliens and assorted mind-altering substances and...oh, lots of things. But never has it been done so effectively as Shalott does it here. And then, possibly just to prove she can, she takes us through what happens when that safe space is gone. And manages to get a happy ending out of it. (Which, seriously, thank god; it took me weeks to read past a certain point in this story, because that place gave me the same feeling as a certain spot in Y Tu Mama Tambien: shit, they're fucked, there's no way good to resolve this. Let's all be grateful Shalott is a better and kinder writer than the Cuarons, yes?)
Best FF That Features a Bonus Photo of an Ice Monster. Or a Sea Goat. Or a Whistling Tentacular Male Naga in Ritual War Paint. I Look at It Often, and I Have No Clue What It Is. Hanged Man, by Speranza, aka cesperanza. Due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. And, yeah. Today I'm recommending stories everyone's already read. Next time I'll go for some that more than one person out there hasn't already heard of, OK? But, see, certain people have to be reminded to read the famous stories, and of course some folks have to be poked to read the great stuff in fandoms they don't know. All of which is a long way to say: I refuse to feel bad about recommending these stories, including this one. Because it is great, my friends. It's about the fear of coming out; it makes the interesting point that you can come out to yourself while still totally being in denial, and you can avoid coming out to everyone else so hard, work so much to preserve Life As You Know It, that you end up making that life - well, fairly sucky. This is totally true. It also, yes, makes the first part of the story a wee bit rocky. But not kill-me-now rocky or anything. And the ending is totally happy - hell, there's four happy endings. Which, predictably, I read twice for every once that I read the whole story. (OK, yes, I'm a happy ending junkie. But that's why I'm this in love with due South in the first place, so I feel entitled to enjoy my fix in this fandom.) And if it always leaves me desperately wanting to hear all about the Basmati rice incident? Small price to pay, really.