Recs sets involving things that never happened stories have a few rules, people. Some of you may remember them from last time. But I'm restating them, because some of you are new since last time. Hell, some of the rules are new since last time.
- Things that never happened = TTNH. There's only so many times I can type the full words before I succumb to that tragic disease known as Keyboard Ennui.
- TTNH stories can be disturbing. Or sad. Or, in cases where the author is very special, both disturbing and sad. They don't have to be, mind you. (Except they kind of do. Because either they're about things that would suck, or they're about things that would be most excellent. But if it's the latter, isn't it kind of a bummer that these are things that didn't happen? Yes, this is both a story style and a deep philosophical conundrum. When basingstoke is on, she's really fucking on.) So if you're already in a place of emo, maybe you'll want to consider each of these stories carefully before you click.
- TTNH stories usually make more sense if you know the canon. As I said last time: it helps to know what did happen before you read about what didn't. I've included some sense of how much canon you need to know. (Because this is fandom, that great big pool of cross-pollination and spoilers, we all know a little about, for example, Kirk and Spock, even if our entire first-hand knowledge of them consists of a single episode in which they hit every slash cliche known to science within roughly 30 minutes, using only styrofoam and aluminum foil. And that may be all you need to know.)
- TTNH stories may contain gen, het, or slash. So when it comes to these, I am not a pairing index; some TTNH stories, that alone would keep us here all day. So go in braced for anything. Although I swear I will warn you before, for example, Doctor Who/TARDIS.
- I interpret "things that never happened" rather loosely. It just has to follow the basic format: [number] of [things] that [happened/didn't happen/happened one night/you totally can't prove/happened to your mom].
- If you are distressed by any of the (un)events of these stories, I advocate industrial-strength denial. It's always worked for me.
TTNH stories are AUs with the fat trimmed off - we get the story, but we're left to extrapolate a lot, including most of the set-up and, sometimes, the resolution. I cannot tell you how much that works for me. And it's variable; TTNH stories can be snippets, just glimpses of the AUs. But in DCU, particularly, TTNH stories contain multitudes: sprawling, intense universes that feel real, wholly populated, wholly complete, and internally consistent and logical.
This one certainly seems more real than anything D.C. has published lately. That's in part because the characters are intensely in character here (and do not even get me started on how it's completely and totally impossible for Certain Characters to be themselves in the face of Recent Unspeakable Retcons, for, as you can see, that way lies madness and random capitalization), but also because these stories are so detailed and so - I don't know how to put it. So much like the stories D.C. is writing in the alternate universe where they have character and plot continuity. And writers with brains. This is an incredibly meaty story - I mean, the interlude alone could stand as five separate stories. It's got...hmmm. Room to grow, in a way the canon universe just doesn't right now. If I ever write an essay called Why I Prefer Fan Fiction to the Canon, this story is exhibit A.
The One That Makes It Clear What's Really Behind All Those Macho Bone-Grinding Handshakes. (Let's Just Say It Didn't Come As a Huge Surprise.) Five Battles Teal'c of Chulak Never Fought, by cofax7. Stargate: SG-1. To read this, you probably need to know, for example, who Teal'c is. And the more you know about SG1, the more you'll likely get out of this. Of course, that isn't exactly a promise, since I don't know much about SG1, but it's a very good working theory.
This is the ultimate example of trimming the fat, here; these stories are short, short pieces about big, big worlds. And that is, without doubt, a good thing. But what I love about this is - atypically for me - not the AUs, but the person I see here. When I started reading SG1, it was all about Jack and Daniel for me. Which, I mean, of course: Jack! Daniel! What's not to love? But lately I've also been getting interested in Teal'c and Sam. I still want the story in which those two are genderswapped (it'd be fascinating, and I continue to hope against hope that katie_m will write it). But, basically, I just want any stories that will make these two characters human to me, real to me, because in a lot of fan fiction they are - I don't know. Plot devices or enigmas, I guess: not the people whose eyes we see through, but rather the people we see. From a distance, usually.
In this story, Cofax let me see through Teal'c's eyes, and that - that is quite a gift. There's always something that ties a TTNH story together, and in this case, that's Teal'c himself: his character, who he is, who he's been. So, basically, if you've ever wanted to get to know Teal'c, well, here's your chance. (And if you haven't, why not? The man is, at least at the start of the canon, a formerly-evil member of a race of people who have unnaturally long life at the cost of a kind of devil's bargain. And he's now fighting evil and dealing with the repercussions of his past life. All of you people who love vampires and things written by people named Whedon should be rushing to embrace this man.)
The One That Defines PMS As Being the State in Which You Wish Everyone Would Get Hit by a Car. Works for Me. 19 (x19) Things That Never Happened, pt 2, by rageprufrock. Hikaru no Go. Yes, you do need to know a bit of the canon to read this, but if you don't, oh my god why not? This is - this is due South with Go, people. Hell, it's Harry Potter and the Ghost of Go. And if you are now wondering how any series could be both those things, why not try the first 8 volumes of the manga? (1-4 and 5-8. Attention, Person Who Gave These to Me: if you don't want them up here, let me know and I'll take them down. If you want credit, likewise let me know and I will be happy to glorify your name and works and noble lineage.) Read them. They will prepare you for the Hikaru no Go Fandoms I Have Loved, which - yes. It's coming. I'm in love, okay? I can't help myself. Shut up.*
This is only one part of Pru's Hikaru no Go TTNH series, and definitely my favorite. (Other parts: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6.) And this is another style of TTNH, here, because it is a commentary, but not on a character. This is a reflection on the canon, on the...well. I'm afraid to say "culture," because I am not qualified to start that discussion (and I'm not brave enough, either), but that's pretty much what it is. Culture is what defines Akira and Hikaru's, um, relationship. (Rivals. Totally rivals.) So how would culture define it if something was different?
When I read this story, I thought: this is a story that would only really work and be interesting in certain fandoms. (For the record, and this isn't much of a spoiler: Pru changed the sexes of one of the characters. I don't mean she genderswapped him or genderfucked him; she made him female from birth.) I mean, making John a girl is fascinating if he was male up until the aliens got their hands on his DNA, but if he was born female? The story doesn't change much. But now I'm wondering how true that is. If Aragorn was born to be a woman king, that does change things, does make for an interesting story. If Brian O'Conner (from the Fast and the Furious) is a girl, I lose all interest in the story; if Rusty Ryan (from Ocean's 11) is a girl, my interest skyrockets (and it's already really pretty high). So now I'm basically confused, and I'm all doubty about the thoughtful remarks I had for this story. Anyone else want to be thoughtful instead?
The One That Proves That There's No Canon Development So Disastrous That a Talented Fan Writer Can't Make It Work in the Service of Good. Temporary, by penknife. X-Men movieverse. This is post-X3, and if you haven't seen the movie and you plan to, you shouldn't read the story. You shouldn't read this story summary, either. But if you already know, either from spoilers or from seeing it, what happens in X3, well, you'll probably understand why I am choosing to skip the movie and go straight to the fan fiction. And you'll also be perfectly primed to read this story.
So. I can't really do a better story summary than penknife did: "Five ways Rogue finds out nothing's permanent." But I will say that I choose to think of this as "Five places to go from here." Because the X3 story - well, one of the many problems I had with it (back when I first read the spoilers) was that it closes off possibilities and undermines the message and central question of the whole X-Men universe. (And, you know, that's an impressive feat, diverting an entire canon away from such a central and basic concept. I mean, it's impressive in the way that eating an airplane is impressive - yes, amazing, but why would anyone bother? But impressive it is.)
Anyway. Turns out I was wrong about that closed, nowhere-good-to-go-from-here thing. Maybe the heat was getting to me. Because as soon as I read this story, I realized that there are as many interesting avenues to explore now as before, and X3 might change everything, but it doesn't actually matter that much. This story features five of those interesting avenues, and I just - I love them, love this whole story, in a very sincere, honorable-intentions kind of way. (I'd propose, but reader/story marriages are still illegal in my state.) This is a fabulous riff on the potential of the future, from the first segment, which I would argue takes us back, not to movie canon, but to early(ish) comics canon, to the last, which takes us in a totally unexpected, fascinating direction that leaves me whimpering for more. (penknife: total narrative tease. News at 11.)
* I do not as yet have a source for the anime, sadly, but you can add the first two discs of it to your Netflix queue here.