So, okay, this is a little bit late. But it is heartfelt. Best Beloved, happy birthday. You can has cliches!
The One That Shows Us That If You Can't Get Laid in Chicago, You Can at Least Get Great Pizza. Number Eight, by cesperanza. due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski.
This cliche is a classic. Undercover in a gay bar - I would be surprised if there were not whole challenges and zines dedicated to this one. (I would also be wildly disappointed, for the record.) I would, in fact, be surprised if Kirk and Spock didn't have to go undercover in a gay bar at least once in their extensive non-canonical career. (Oh, my god, I just - I just pictured this. My poor brain. It will never be the same again. Trust me and don't imagine this, okay?) Really, undercover in a gay bar is one of our great media fandom traditions. Probably we should have a holiday to celebrate it. (It could be called Fake It Until You Make Out Day! We could exchange little gifts of glitter and stories! Maybe there could be a ritual of decorating our favorite characters in eyeliner and shiny clothes!)
And the thing is, this story shows, totally and completely, why this cliche works, why it has stayed with us throughout the years, why I'm kind of sad we have fewer law enforcement fandoms these days and thus have fewer opportunities to put our characters in tight pants and make them dance to loud music. See, there's plot and porn, right in the same cliche. You say "undercover in a gay bar" to someone, and right away that person knows that a) there will be gay sex and b) it will be in the interests of justice. It doesn't get much better than that, people. And this story is the perfect example of it. I mean, do I need to summarize? Ray. Fraser. Gay bar. Go.
The One That Proves That You Can Make a Bat Cuddle, with Sufficient Coercion, but You Can't Ever Make Him Good at It. Cold, by brown_betty. D. C. Universe, gen.
Huddling for warmth. Another classic cliche. There's cold! There's a sincere and honest need to get naked under covers, for genuine life-preserving purposes! What could be better? Of course, when Betty gets her hands on this cliche, things do not go precisely according to tradition. (Like, here's an example: the first people involved in the warmth-huddling in this story are Tim and Alfred.)
But that is why I love this story: it takes a classic and much-loved cliche, shakes it up, turns it inside out, and makes it into something new and shiny. In this case, it's a character study. Actually, it's a study of a class of characters. (Sometimes I think you could summarize 90% of Betty's work as A Short Guide to Batfamily Dysfunctions. It would make an excellent title for an anthology of her work.) Because, you know, this is a perfect example of huddling for warmth and the warmth never...quite...getting there. I love this story because it's so right for each of the characters. And, of course, for the Batfamily as a whole.
I'd say they'll make a therapist rich some day, but in fact all they'll do is drive a whole team of skilled professionals into nervous breakdowns. (Come to think of it, this is probably why we never see shrinks in the Batverse. Bruce broke them all many years ago, back when Albert thought he could be helped, and now they live in a well-funded home for the clinically twitchy.)
The One That Proves That Coping with Extremely Unexpected Transformations Is a Key Pirate Skill. On the Lesser-Known Hazards of Piracy, by penknife. Pirates of the Caribbean. Pairings are, um, complicated. If you need to know, drop a comment and I'll try to sort it all out.
This is bodyswap, otherwise known as one of my favorite cliches in the whole history of ever. It is also, apparently, one of the hazards of piracy they don't teach you in history books. In fact, I think penknife is the first person ever to identify this as a specifically piracy-linked danger. (Everyone who is now imagining thousands of BitTorrent users suddenly switching bodies, don't fear. I think digital type piracy is still safe, although I will check with penknife and get back to you.)
Bodyswap is just basically always a wonderful cliche, and again, you can kind of see why: there are certain, uh, built-in opportunities when you've got character A in character B's body. I mean, you have an obligation to take care of whatever body you're inhabiting, right? Even if it's, um, not technically yours, right? And then there's porn!
In this particular story, both of the swapped characters take full and excellent advantage of all those built-in opportunities. And, really, when you're swapped in to Jack Sparrow's body, you've got a lot of potential, there, although it would be reasonable to take some time to worry about what he's doing with yours. And, since I've already mentioned that Jack Sparrow is involved, I assume I don't need to elaborate on the "and then there's porn" part.
The One Where Elizabeth Proves She Totally Did Not Pay Attention in the SGC-Mandated "Being Sensitive to Major Body Alterations in Your Staff" Training. And, Yes, I Am Quite Sure the SGC Does Have Such a Training. Frankly, They Would Be Fools Not To. always should be someone you really love, by thingswithwings. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay.
And, from the title alone, the eight people alive who have not already read this story know what this last cliche is: genderswitch. And, oh, I love genderswitch. There was a time when I didn't - a time when I wouldn't even read it - but fortunately due South broke me of that. (It wasn't an inhibition I really needed, after all.) I'm not even sure why I love genderswap so much, unless it's the conversion effect, where you're much much more passionate about something if you disliked it for a while before you started loving it. In any case, the passion is definitely here.
In any case, I love genderswitch. I particularly love when writers play with it a bit - not just the classic scenario of "Hey, you have new parts! They are more compatible with MY parts! What say we get it on?" (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) And I love what thingswithwings does here; she turns both the guys female, and what happens then says a lot about, you know, deep things: sexual preference, identity, desire versus love. So there is thinkiness and girl-on-girl action. (If only more written works managed to incorporate both of these things. In particular, I can think of some textbooks that would be vastly improved by sex. Although, in all honesty, some of those textbooks could be improved by adjectives, so it's not like the bar is set particularly high, here. Still. I think we can agree that sex improves most things.) In short: this is one of my favorite genderswitch stories, and genderswitch is one of my favorite cliches, so - really, this is a very favorite thing of mine. Read!