There's angsty fan fiction, featuring angst and tears (sometimes manfully surpressed, sometimes wept into pillows) and angst and I will never confess it, but I love you, I love you and then more angst. And then someone has a dream (75% of the time it's wet, 25% it's a nightmare), and then there's either tortured kissing or more angst, but usually both. And sometimes someone almost dies, or, in the case of certain fandoms, actually does die.I'm not nominating that kind of FF today, either. Thank god.
No, today's set showcases the grittier side of life, FF-style. If happy endings and light hearts are your thing, let me direct you to the previous entry, but if you can stand the sour, the bitter, and the uppercut to the jaw, read on.
Best FF That Proves That Things Can Always Be Worse, and Then Proves It Again, with Added Squalor: Modus Vivendi, by wiseacress. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. File this one under "Cruelty to Xander" and go with it. The story begins with Xander getting the holy shit beaten out of him, and then things really start to go bad. "Modus" actually has an almost sort of moderately happy ending, in that all canon characters survive the story; if you finish this and you're aching for more aching (or more great writing), check out the alternate ending, Ars Moriendi, which shows that, when it comes to bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. And yet - this story is so good. The author gets that human/vampire relationships can't work, and she makes us get it, too. She makes Spike and Xander so real that I finished the story - both endings - desperately wishing things could be better for the guys, even though I knew they couldn't. I bought into this story completely and love it entirely. Of course, that just makes the whole thing hurt more.
Best FF That Teaches You to Beware of Staircases and Watch Your Step on Crime Scenes: Stop Whispering, by grit kitty. The Sentinel, Jim/Blair. Here, grit kitty tackles one of those weird fandom conventions; in Sentinel fan fiction, homophobia doesn't exist. Or it does, but only in the same way that sneezes exist; they happen, they go away quickly, and they have no real effect on anything. But Jim's a cop, and cops are not famed for their cheerful acceptance of their colleagues' alternative lifestyles. In this one, grit kitty plays out a very realistic, rather grim scenario, in which Jim and Blair out themselves and things go about halfway to hell. I love that no one is entirely clean here. I also love that grit kitty keeps things from reeling off the edge of "unpleasant" straight into "overdone angst," and that she manages to patch things up without making them any less real. Also, check out the three-dimensional Simon in this story; a human Simon is a rare bird indeed.
Best FF That Reminds You Why You Never, Never Want to Be 15 Again, Unless You Actually Are 15, in Which Case It's Bound to Have Some Other Salutary Effect: Practicing for the Ballet, by penknife. Harry Potter, Harry/Draco. H/D is one of those pairings I just can't wrap my head around, mostly because I can't let go of the canon. (Entry #1 on the list called "Why It's Better to Read FF When You Don't Know the Canon.") The distance between fanon Draco and canon Draco is the distance between two universes, and the distance between Harry and Draco in the canon is, well, about half as far. So when Harry and Draco are falling all over each other, I'm cringing, waiting for the knife in the back. Penknife apparently is, too. This, folks, is exactly what it's like to be 15 and having bad sex with someone you hate; when you're in that situation, all you can do is decide whether you'll be like Harry or like Draco.
Best FF That Isn't So Bad in Any Particular and Yet Leaves You with an Overwhelming Feeling of Impending Disaster: When She Walks in the Room, by wax_jism. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. Ah, Wax Jism. Every time I read a story of hers, she rewrites my brain. Sometimes it's for the best - you don't hear me whining about Bobby/St. John anymore, and that's at least 75% WJ's fault - and sometimes it's, well, not. This is one of those "not" stories. See, with Due South FF, I want a happy ending. I am totally convinced the characters need and deserve a happy ending, because from what I can tell, they were royally reamed in the canon. (For more on this topic, see Fandoms I Have Loved, coming soon to this blog right here.) And until I read this story, I was convinced they could have their happy ending. Now, I'm not so sure. WJ should come with a warning label. And that, of course, is why I love her.