Reporting for Duty by mavfan (PG13)

Title: Reporting for Duty Trilogy
Fandom: Star Trek Voyager
Pairing: Naomi Wildman/Icheb
Categories: romance, action
Length: epic (90k)
Warnings: mild violence

Author on LJ: n/a
Author Website: on ff.net

Summary: set post-series, Naomi and Icheb are serving on the USS Lindbergh, trying to navigate the rough world of their first assignments as Ensigns while still maintaining their friendship...and maybe something more.

Review:
When you have a small ship it always sucks because there's so little fic to read, and there's almost never anything long and plotty. I've been shipping Naomi/Icheb since Voyager first aired; I just loved both the characters so much and I felt that they would really compliment each other well. But this ship is a private ship, *cries tears of no ficness*. Until I came across this wonderful series about a year ago.

MavFan captures the voices of Naomi and Icheb perfectly and believably positions them as adults back in the Alpha Quadrant, dealing with being newly minted Starfleet officers. What I particularly love about this series is the sense of history that MavFan injects into the pair. It's set in the future, but they have known each other for *so* long that they are best friends. And watching them transition from friends to lovers feels organic and it's just downright adorable.

Plus, there's lots of wonderful cameos from all the Treks which is delightful. Ezri Dax features predominantly as the Captain.

Part 1: Reporting for Duty
Part 2: Collective Freedom
Part 3: Frozen Fiasco

this world is cracked & crazy by Sa_kun

Title: this world is cracked & crazy
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Pairing: Derek/Stiles
Categories: AU, Action/Adventure, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, Supernatural,
Length: Epic (40k)
Warnings:Character death; Child abuse; Mentions of past sexual abuse; Slavery

Author on LJ: sa_kun
Website: Sa_kun

Summary:Stiles runs away from his old pack on a Monday. He meets his dad for the first time on a Sunday, and he falls in love on a Thursday.

Review: Stiles is a hermaphrodite Hyena were whose family has been hunted into extinction because of their differing biology.

It's interesting to see such a well researched story that takes into account the differing culture and instincts inherent in having more than one breed of were-creature in a pack.

The story also explores the differences in what it would mean for someone like Derek, who was born to be a beta, to suddenly be thrust into the role of Alpha. And how things would change if a born-Alpha came into the picture to become the Hale Alpha.

this world is cracked & crazy
Title: Please be here until the morning
Fandom: Inception
Pairing: Eames/Arthur
Categories: Romance
Length: Medium (8,156)
Warnings: N/A

Author on LJ: sorrynotsorry
Author Website: N/A

Author's Summary:
"What if I told you I couldn't help it?"

Review:
This fic follows Arthur as he discovers dream sharing (in high school, from a friend) to college and beyond. Mostly it's about Arthur and Eames and Eames's very many problems that make one want to punch him in the mouth. Oh wait, was that mostly me? Haha.

This fic was wonderful though. Arthur is perfectly lovely and all Arthur for all that he's young for a decent chunk of the fic. Just a little stiff, a lot focused, and all around competent at what he does. Eames is the forger that Cobb and Mal dig up, the one that Arthur bonds with before--well, there was a reason why I wanted to punch Eames in the mouth, though things do get better later.

The character interactions are amazing. Not everything is shoved at your face, but quietly laid out. For all that Eames can be a jerk, there is something earnest in his interactions with Arthur that saves him from being completely irredeemable. The fic doesn't end perfectly, but it does end on an uplifting note that fits.

There's also a companion piece and a short sequel linked, which just gives the story a bit more depth. A very nice read.

Please be here until the morning
I've been sitting on this gem for a few months now because we at epic_recs have a policy of not reccing work by our fellow reccers (for obvious reasons). But since mothlights stepped down from the team awhile ago, I got permission from the mods to go ahead and post it. This collaboration is really too good not to share!

Title: Misfire
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Pairing: Derek/Stiles
Categories: Time travel, angst
Length: Long (28,804 words)
Warnings: None

Author on AO3:  unpossible
Podficcer on LJ:  mothlights
Podficcer on AO3:  mothlights

Summary: “The debt must be repaid,” she says, and it has the weight of a vow. The words resonate through him, ringing through his ribcage and the bones of his jaw, and Stiles loses his breath and maybe his grip on reality because she draws herself upright and where there had once stood a supermodel-level MILF now there is Galadriel’s much hotter older sister, a Presence of unmistakable power in their ordinary, smells-vaguely-of-Thai-takeout hallway.

“Oh shit,” Stiles says.

Review: "Misfire" begins several years after season two. Stiles is an adult now, in a committed relationship with Derek, who is still painfully scarred from the trauma of his past. When a powerful faerie grants Stiles a wish after he inadvertently does her a favor, he asks for the one thing that might make Derek truly happy. Armed with his knowledge of the present, Stiles travels back in time determined to prevent Kate Argent from murdering the Hale family -- even knowing that, if he succeeds, he will be writing a new future, where Derek will have little reason to know Stiles, let alone fall in love with him.

I'm a sucker for angst, pining and noble gestures, and this fic is packed with all three! In the brief glimpse we get of Stiles's pre-time travel future, Unpossible paints a vivid picture of his love for Derek and the impact of Derek's trauma on their relationship. This story makes it easy to accept that Stiles would choose Derek's happiness over his own, even though it tears him apart to rip away the relationship that has become the cornerstone of his life. I also loved seeing the Hale family through future!Stiles's eyes. Peter, especially, is a delight in this story, and I loved Talia as well. Their reactions to Stiles were perfect. However, I think my favorite character in this fic might be the new!Derek, unknowingly freed of his tragic past. The direction unpossible took him in was entirely believable to me, and I was really intrigued by his new relationship with his now-surviving family/pack. And I loved the dynamic between new!Derek and Stiles. This story's happy ending is well worth all of the angst.

This was a pod-together collaboration, and as such, I highly recommend listening to the podfic by mothlights, which is how I first took in this story. As a collaborative effort, "Misfire" was written to be read aloud, and it sounds fantastic. I'm always a fan of mothlights' readings. Her performance really highlighted the emotion in this story, without ever going overboard. The production in this podfic was also fantastic with subtle (and well-done) sound effects. And as an added bonus, it hits my sweet spot for podfic length at about 4.5 hours long -- meaty enough to really get into, but short enough to easily finish it in a day. It made an afternoon running errands much more tolerable, that's for sure!

Misfire

Hell House by narukyu (NC-17)

Title: Hell House
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: Sam/Gabriel
Genres: AU, High School, Mystery, Horror, Romance
Length: Epic (60,000 words)
Warnings: Minor character death, Gore

Author on LJ: narukyu_fic
Author Website: N/A

Author's Summary:
A devotedly unreligious man sends his youngest son to a private religious school. If that wasn't suspicious enough, Sam can't get a hold of John or Dean, people are disappearing right and left, and, in the night, something whispers in the silence of the old chapel. Soon enough, Sam discovers that something terrible lingers behind the doors to the sacristy--something that sheds a light on the secret holy mission of the Soldiers of Christ as well what happened to his family so many years ago.

Review:
Here's my late rec for Horror/Mystery week. Oops.

This is a classic haunted house sort of story, wherein a lone Sam is stuck in an eerie and restrictive school. The author really nails the horror story atmosphere, and what would be a pretty tame plot in the actual show becomes much more engaging and creepy thanks to Sam's isolation and helplessness. He's not the gung ho hunter we see on the show, but a confused teenager, cut off from his family and facing the supernatural alone for the first time.

Gabriel appears as the janitor for the school, and his very IC presence provides some relief for both Sam and the reader. He's someone for Sam to turn to in a place full of sinister secrets and strict, watchful teachers. Their romance is more in the background, with the normalcy Gabriel provides contrasting sharply with the rest of the school. This is a creepy mystery with a gut punch of an ending that you need to read, even if you're not a fan of the pairing.

Hell House

War Will Make Soldiers by daftalchemist (G)

Title: War Will Make Soldiers
Fandom: Welcome to Night Vale
Pairing: Gen
Categories/Genres: Family, Drama, Angst
Length: Short (1307 words)
Warnings: N/A

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: daftalchemist

Summary:

The Carlsberg house is full of mysteries and unknowable truths, exactly the kinds of things Tamika needs for her army.

Review:

This fic contains spoilers for Welcome to Night Vale up through episode 53.

Steve Carlsberg. Oh, Steve Carlsberg, how we have learned to love to hate you, can practically hear Cecil's snarl in our ears as we read your name. Steve Carlsberg. Did you hear it, then? I did.

Unfortunately, there's not much I can say about this fic without spoiling a vast swath of Welcome to Night Vale, but if you're caught up, you need to read this Steve Carlsberg-centric fic. It's a fascinating look into the Night Vale that exists outside of Cecil's admittedly broad but broadly biased scope. In it, we see Steve Carlsberg, not through Cecil's eyes, but telling his own story. It, and the September Monologue that it was based on, expose the way Cecil's bias has affected us, the listeners, inculcating us into despising someone we knew nothing about long before we had ever met him.

So if you haven't yet listened to episode 53, do that. Then read this fic. If you're not humbled and shamed and moved by the end of it, well.

War Will Make Soldiers

Fake Empires by Sam-Storyteller (Pg-13)

Title: Fake Empires
Fandom: DCU
Pairing: Superman/Batman; Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne
Categories: Action/Adventure,Humor, Romance, Secret Identities
Length: Medium (12k)
Warnings: Unreliable Narrators

Author on LJ: sam-storyteller
Author Website: Copperbadge’s Ao3

Summary Bruce Wayne can't possibly be as dumb as he acts, and Clark Kent isn't as ordinary as he appears.

Review: Basically this is the story of what happens when you try to keep four identities straight between two people who are terrible at communication.

Or the one where Batman is convinced that Clark Kent and Superman are dating and Clark doesn’t know how to handle it.

These two spend most of the story going from one amusing situation to the next though bad flirting, terrible misunderstandings, and just basic comic book logic. Which I loved because the fandom questions is usually wouldn’t those two figure their secret identities out immediately? And that is usually how their relationship is handled.

So it is nice to see a change of pace where the boys are actually just as ridiculous as they are in canon.

Fake Empires
Title: I'm the Same Boy I Used to Be
Fandom: Inception
Pairing: Eames/Arthur
Categories: Gen
Length: Medium (5,569)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: hackthis
Author Website: N/A

Author's Summary:
N/A

Review:
The author doesn't provide a summary, but here's a quick one: Arthur and Eames meet twice fleetingly before they both start in dream sharing. Then they meet again. A series of moments in their lives.

The fic is cute and quick and a bit sparse on details, but all the better for it. The both of them first meet when Arthur is twelve and Eames is fourteen. Eames is kind of pretentious, but so is Arthur, haha. They meet again by chance when they're older, just for a moment. The next time they meet is when they're both in the dream sharing business. Arthur is all competent and really awesome and Eames is just sort of disbelieving and still really awesome.

There's quite a few time skips within the fic. It's basically a showcase of moments in both Eames's and Arthur's life that manage to intersect, but it's wonderful. The fic is really understated, but I'm of the opinion that the author put in just the right amount of details that catch your attention without blatantly leaving everything out on the table. The romance is more inferred than anything else.

This was adorable and lovely and truly a pleasant read.

I'm the Same Boy I Used to Be
Title: It's the Fault of the Kid in the Dress
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: Fantasies, Telepathy/Soul Bond, Virginity
Length: Medium (3,648 words)
Warnings: Underage (13-year-old boy/ancient demon)

Author on ff.net: Sanpizil

Summary: In which Ciel and Sebastian share, or don't, an intimate moment- or a non-intimate one. Complete whimsy.

Review: Ciel can't stop thinking about the way Alois (the "kid in the dress" to whom the title refers) licked his ear at the Trancy ball. Although "he's never really thought about that kind of thing before," too focused on his work and his revenge, Ciel finds himself reflecting that ear licking might actually be pleasant, if someone other than Alois were doing it. Naturally, his thoughts stray to Sebastian. But fantasizing about a demon has unexpected consequences.

It's hard to review this story without spoiling the central conceit that makes it so wonderful. Let me just say that, literally and figuratively, it works on many levels. On the one hand, it's a story of Ciel's sexual awakening. On the other hand, it's a story of the relationship between Ciel and Sebastian, mostly proper on the surface, but with hints of much deeper possibilities. The characterization is golden in this fic. I especially liked that Ciel, though young and virginal, isn't the wilting violet some Kuro writers like to cast in his place. Instead, their dynamics echo the mentor/mentee relationship Ciel and Sebastian have in canon, where Ciel's forceful personality and power over the demon help to balance their differences in age and experience. Although short, this story packs a powerful amount of characterization, and it's worth reading multiple times to catch all of the nuances folded into it.

It's the Fault of the Kid in the Dress

Second Chances by Kishijoten (NC-17)

A day late and probably a dollar short too. Fortunately I work in sterling :-)

Title: Second Chances
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Draco/Harry
Categories: Slash, romance, kidfic, non-canon compliant.
Length: Epic (96,000 words)
Warnings: Sex, depression, suicide attempt

Author on FictionAlley: Kishijoten

Summary:
For the first time in over a decade, Harry Potter crosses paths with Draco Malfoy. Both have changed a great deal, but what do those changes mean to them - and to each other?

Review:
This is another one of those stories that is over a decade old — well before Half-Blood Prince came out, so don't expect canon compliance — that has stood up to the test of time.

At heart it's a love story initiated and complicated by children. Harry is single, and a teacher at Hogwarts; Draco is divorced, and his youngest twin children have just started their first year. They meet when Harry notices that Adrian Malfoy, who has been sorted into Hufflepuff, is suffering from severe depression. What follows is a slow-burn romance, with parent and teacher bonding over the child's problems and desperately trying and failing to maintain their professional distances.

The strength of this story is in the characterisation. Harry and Draco are still recognisably themselves, but equally have changed in the way that you might hope a decade of maturity would give them. They don't instantly fall into agreement with each other, but then neither do they instantly dismiss each other either. The children are clear and distinct individuals, the right sort of mix of angel and demon for their ages, and really they are the ones that drive the story through. Harry and Draco are driven together by the children, and when their romance hits a bump, as it frequently does, it is almost always because of the children too.

Don't be too scared by the warnings. Bear in mind that I'm reccing this, and I'm a depressive with a real hot button about suicide. Without wishing to minimize either, the writing doesn't over-dramatize the issues and as a reader you do still feel in control.

This is a very good example of fanfiction romance, and I have no qualms recommending it to you even after all these years. Go on, enjoy yourselves.

Second Chances
Title: Male Bonding
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Pairing: Gen
Genres: Friendship, Humour, Bonding
Length: Medium (2,146 words)
Warnings: None

Authors on LJ: ali_wildgoose and peri_peteia
Author Websites: Wildgoosery @ AO3,
glamaphonic @ AO3

Author's Summary:
As much as she intensely dislikes it, Katara understands why Zuko had to join them. What she doesn't understand is why he and Sokka have to spend every waking moment in each other's company.

Review:
This is a delightful fic wherein Sokka and Zuko bond by doing stupid things together (with the quick-tempered Zuko goaded by Sokka), try to one up each other when boasting about their girlfriends, and pretty much become BFFs. Katara is an exasperated witness to their strange boyish bonding rituals, and her reactions to the two are hilariously and touchingly in character.

Male Bonding

Art: No. 8 by きやま (G)

Title: No. 8
Fandom: Person of Interest
Pairing: Harold Finch/John Reese
Categories/Genres: Fanart
Length: N/A
Warnings: N/A

Artist on LJ: N/A (I think?)
Artist Website: きやま

Summary:

N/A (If there is one, it's in Japanese and I can't read it.)

Review:

It will never cease being amazing to me that so much of Person of Interest's fanart is drawn by fans of the show who live outside of the U.S. Of course, it's not a criticism in any way of the show or the fans or even of Warner Bros., but rather a minor epiphany that the issues that the show tackles, the relationships that the characters form, are powerful enough to resonate with viewers around the world.

Like two voices resonating on the same pitch, what I see in きやま's art is the visual representation of how I imagine Finch and Reese's relationship. Finch, focused ever on his duty, on the tasks that need doing and the decisions that need making. Reese, hovering protectively, the faithful hound, devoted to Finch, and through Finch, to the cause.

It's amazing to me, and quietly mind blowing, that two fans from wholly different cultures, who speak languages so utterly different, can share a perspective so completely. And it speaks to the show itself that it can communicate such subtlety and depth across a range of diverse perspectives.

But still, you guys. Fandom. What an incredible thing.

No. 8
Title: california girls (we're unforgettable)
Fandom: Teen Wolf/Veronica Mars/Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Pairing: gen (references to canon pairings)
Categories: angst, crossover, family, friendship
Length: short
Warnings: afterlife, canon character deaths

Author on LJ: n/a
Author Website: on ao3

Summary: Allison never really believed in an afterlife. But then, she didn't believe in werewolves either until she met one.

Review: I still really haven't accepted Allison's death, but this fic makes it okay. It's a gorgeous little fic about Allison's journey into the afterlife and all the remarkable women she meets there. The tri-crossover works *really* well here, grangerbutstranger captures all the characters beautifully and makes you wish that they had the chance to meet during life (someone ought to write that). It's the best of female friendship and bonding, and the strength forged from fighting for something you believe in.

california girls (we're unforgettable)

Treading Water by Thought Reflex (R)

Title: Treading Water
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: Gen
Categories: AU, Drama, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort
Length: Super!Epic(110k)
Warnings: Past Torture, Genetic Engineering, Chile Abuse

Author on LJ: thoughtreflex
Author Website: @ Wraithbait | @ Fanfic.net

Summary: Drowning had never been a fear Rodney needed to embrace. Trust, relying on others, and having to betray his own secrets, however, was something that kept him awake at night. Friendship, whump, genetic manipulation, homicidal tree huggers...

Review: This is an amazing gen series. I love the team dynamic and how much they are all willing to go for bat for a Rodney that is a little more broken than in the universe we inhabit.

There is adventure and casefic and everything fits together so that it feels like these bits and pieces of an Alternate Universe could almost have happened in our version of Atlantis.

Treading Water Verse

"Eternity" by Xenobia (NC-17)

Another week, another late rec. *headdesk* One of these days I'll get my act together.

Title: Eternity
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairings: Sebastian/Ciel, William/Grell, with brief Sebastian/Grell and hints of William/Grell/Undertaker
Categories: Future fic, first time, creature fic
Length: Epic (127,208 words)
Warnings: Technically underage, although the relationship between Ciel and Sebastian remains platonic until Ciel is 17.

Author on AO3:  Xenobia

Summary: Ciel awakens to his new life filled with questions that only his butler can answer for him.

Review: After the end of the Kuroshitsuji II anime, Ciel and Sebastian are both adjusting to Ciel's transformation and the changed terms of their contract. Ciel struggle to embrace his new life, clinging to the remnants of his humanity even while moving on from his identity as the Earl Phantomhive. For his part, Sebastian remains one hell of a butler, mentoring Ciel through his transition even as he wrestles with his own conflicted feelings for Ciel and for his changed role in their contract. Meanwhile, Will and Grell are trying to track down a dangerous supernatural killer, with some surprising help from the Undertaker.

"Eternity" is technically a sequel to an earlier Sebastian/Grell PWP. Although you don't need to read it to understand the story, the casual Sebastian/Grell relationship developed in the prequel does carry into the first part of "Eternity" -- much to the chagrin of Ciel and William. However, the main pairings in this story are definitely Sebastian/Ciel and William/Grell. For me, the slow-burn romance between Sebastian and Ciel is the highlight of this story. As Ciel physically matures, he finds himself dealing with a newfound attraction to his butler, leading to all sorts of adorably awkward UST. I appreciate that Xenobia gives them the space to grow into their feelings for each other and the physical aspect of the relationship. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the plot with the shinigami. Undertaker is a gem in this story, and I loved watching him interact with Grell and William. The killer they are trying to track down also has an interesting backstory with a satisfying link to Undertaker's past.

While this story is not as polished as I'd usually prefer (the prose could use some tightening, and the plot loses some focus near the end), it's a good read nonetheless. I've enjoyed it a few times now, and definitely recommend it.


Eternity

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