Or, you know, not. Because that may technically make it sound like a grim set, but I am a woman who knows her limits, and on bad days my FF limits stop at "happy ending." Plus, Best Beloved's eighth commandment is, "Thou shalt read only FF with happy endings when thou is already right on the verge of conducting new and dangerous experiments involving our telephone, lube, a small but powerful generator, and a portable vortex."
I know better than to piss off Best Beloved. Hence, a set that may possibly sound grim, yes, but is really not.
Best FF That Details Daniel Jackson's New Treaty-Writing Limitations. I Am Sure You Will All Enthusiastically Support This Modification of His Duties. Double Bed, by paian. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. paian is an incredible writer, and I just don't see her recommended as often as she should be - OK, yeah, everyone in SG-1 talks about her (god, I should hope they talk about her), but not so much the multi-fandom types. Now, partly that might be because I cling to the happier recs pages, and she has that astonishing ability to rip your heart out and make you grateful - sure, it hurts, but it's the kind of pain you'd pay for. Even so, I can almost see why some people maybe flinch away from her stories. So I've been patiently waiting for her to recommend the story I knew she'd write, the one that would suck you all in and make you long for more of her work, and here it is: a story about Jack and Daniel getting together late in the canon (if you don't know what happened in "Heroes" and you don't want to, don't read this story, although you'll be missing a FF experience that just doesn't come along every day) that acknowledges how very completely these characters have been broken over the years of the show and how badly they need each other by now, and also how "don't ask, don't tell" about gay sex has been trumped by the SGC's "don't ask, don't tell" about the whole lives of SG-1. And yet: happy ending. Yes! A "Heroes"-related story that is true to the characters and yet has a happy ending. I doubt the canon writers could've managed this. Of course, they probably also would've balked at the whole sex thing. Anyway: great writer. Great story.
Best FF That Teaches Important Lessons About Choosing the Right Company in an Apocalypse. And Also Being As Clear As Possible When Proposing Sex to Aliens. Or Just People Who Are, Well, Somewhat Dense. Not That There's Anything Wrong with That. Last Man Standing, by jmtorres. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect/Arthur Dent. First, a side note: it was years after I'd read HGttG that I finally understood why Ford's name is funny, beyond the obvious un-naminess of it. (Which, I guess, dates me, since now "Ford" would be, if anything, a rather mundane first name.) In retrospect, I spent a lot of my childhood back-engineering British humor. File this under "how I got the way I am." Anyway. Isn't it nice that Arthur, after his home planet is destroyed, has as a traveling companion someone who has been there himself, who understands, who can sympathize and help him through his pain? Well. I mean, it would be, yes, except Ford is so not that guy. He's the guy who would, if given a choice between sharing his feelings and sharing an evening of wild sex with the Seven Serrated Sisters of Septdenticon 6, who have teeth in wildly unexpected places, definitely go for the bitey option. (And likely survive it quite well. I'd imagine he's been keeping up-to-date with advances in Serrated Sister stimulation techniques, on the off chance he's ever in their neighborhood. Again.) So, while it is not possible that Ford supplied Arthur with meaningful conversation and cups of tea after that whole Earth-blowing-up thingy, it is entirely possible - even likely - that it went exactly the way jmtorres outlines here, which sort of combines concealment with evasion and the occasional unfortunate truth. And sex. The keys to writing great HGttG are great dialog, perfect snark, recursiveness, and getting Arthur Dent's bewildered gormlessness precisely right. This story wins on all counts. God, I love the Hitchhiker's fandom.
Best FF Featuring Inappropriate Use of Broccoli by a Doctor of Medicine. Face Value, by minnow1212. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. I really hope everyone has read this story by now, because it is just insanely wonderful. So. You have, right? Then let me remind you that this author has also written a bunch of gen, and we're talking about some of the very best gen this fandom has to offer. This slash story is like the initial free offer, and when you're done with it and addicted to her writing style, well, you will need more of her work, and so you'll immediately go read all her other SGA stuff, and my work will be done. (Well, one particular bit of it, anyway.) This one is perhaps the most secrets-and-lies oriented of all these stories - even though, yes, they fit into the theme very nicely, thank you, because somehow there's never a shortage of brilliant stories about secrets and lies in FF. Hmmm. Anyway, this one, well, I'm spoiling nothing when I tell you it's about telepathy, which is pretty much secrets to the power of one hundred. Secrets in the hands of Rodney. And one of the things I love about this story is how he deals with this, how he copes, the things he says to people. I don't want to go into more detail and maybe spoil it, but - this is my Rodney McKay, here. Also keep your eyes peeled for my Radek Zelenka in a significant supporting role, because this story has one of the best Radeks I've seen anywhere in this fandom. He's nice, he's smart, he's fair, he's just - a really remarkably decent human being, and those of you who know me will know that I consider that a rare and heady compliment. Actually, there's not a character I don't love or think is true-to-canon in this story. And did I mention that minnow1212 takes a fandom cliche and inverts it? Did I mention that this is a funny and happy story? Did I mention that you should be aware that this story is in two parts, and the second is linked at the bottom of the first? Well, I have now. Go! Shoo! Read!
Best FF That Demonstrates the Crying Need for Arch-Nemesis Training Programs in Today's Schools. It's Not a Skill That Comes Naturally, People. Nemesis, by Jojo, aka josephides. Smallville, Lex Luthor/Clark Kent. How wonderful it must be to have an arch-nemesis - to know you're always in another's thoughts and that someone will always care enough to drop by when you're planning to destroy the world or maybe just lonely, to have someone to share in those little secrets you just can't tell anyone else. Really, the hero-villain relationship is the closest thing the DCU has to therapy. Of course, it's even nicer to have that kind of relationship with someone who a) you can also have sex with and b) won't try to kill you, or any nearby civilizations, while you sleep. Which is why I think it's lovely that Clark has Lex and vice versa. Joker might be more threatening, yes, but sex between Batman and Joker is just not something I ever ever ever want to contemplate; I took a serious hit to my sanity points just from typing the phrase. But, seriously, I love this story because it emphasizes the importance of Lex and Clark in each other's lives; by the time of the Rift, they know so much about each other and rely on each other so much that they need some kind of connection. And this is probably why I adore post-Rift stories, even though massive tragic break-ups are not my usual thing; I love how entangled they've become by that point, how they'll never be apart whether or not they're together. (I probably, in all honesty, also love that Clark isn't a teenager anymore. I like my OTPs older. Is that so wrong?) And this story seriously brings the post-Rift goodness, and also the funny and the happy ending, meaning it might as well have been custom-made for me.