The Wolf in the Woods by morrezela (R)

Title: The Wolf in the Woods
Fandom: Supernatural RPS
Pairing: Jensen/Jared
Categories: Crack, fantasy AU, werewolves, future mpreg
Length: Medium (6,800 words)
Warnings: Be careful what you're drinking when you read this. Also, some swearing.

Author on AO3 favicon morrezela

Summary:
Jensen is a baker who keeps getting accosted by a wolf with a sweet tooth every time he tries to deliver food to his grandmother’s house.

Review:
This wasn't the story I was going to review. I had another story in mind when I started paging through AO3 looking for the links. As usual I browsed as I went, because that's half the fun, and in the process I came across this one. Snorting hot tea is not recommended.

Yes, it's yet another Little Red Riding Hood parody, and Lord knows there are enough of those in the fandoms I read. This one however is written with such verve and sweeping silliness that I had to rec it. Honestly, it practically recommends itself; the writing is good and solid, consistently mildly absurdist in its humour, and the whole thing makes sense on its own level.

If this is what I get when I go "walking in the woods" of AO3, I really must get out there more!

The Wolf in the Woods

July by evherie (NC-17)

Title: July
Fandom: xxxHolic
Pairing: Doumeki/Watanuki
Genres: Romance, Humour, Public sex
Length: Medium (3,152 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: evherie
Author Website: evherie @ FF.net

Author's Summary:
Watanuki doesn't like the sun.

Review:
This is a lovely summer romance fic, full of the laziness and sensuality that fits so well with balmy weather in the hands of a good descriptive author. Yuuko drags everyone to the beach, and reluctant (as usual) participator Watanuki finds himself very enthusiastically taking part in some frottage with Doumeki whilst in the waves. It's funny and cute and hot and makes me wish for some nice weather already.

July
Title: The True Story of the Butterfly and the Bumblebee
Fandom: Final Fantasy 8
Pairing: Seifer Almasy/Zell Dincht
Categories/Genres: Alternate Universe, Humor, Pining, Fluff, Misunderstandings, Romance, First Time
Length: Medium (10102 words)
Warnings: N/A

Author on DW: ladybusiness
Author Website: Renay

Summary:

Seifer Almasy doesn't do crushes, but the rules in his reality have never really applied to Zell, anyway.

Review:

Flashing back to the past with this rec, all the way to the early 2000s.

As far as I'm concerned, this is the Seifer/Zell romcom fic. For me, it's one of a very select few of Final Fantasy 8 fics that I'll read more than once. I have yet to read another FF8 romance that matches the solidity of its characterization, the sharpness of its banter, and the cuteness of the romance itself.

Seifer is arrogant and mean, but his self-awareness and the rare moments of vulnerability that his feelings for Zell give rise to provide a depth of emotion to his character that makes him adorably abrasive instead of just another jerk. Zell becomes an excellent foil to his personality, all high-energy and hasty action to counter Seifer's more steady-going nature and long-term planning.

While it's hard to settle on my single favorite aspect of this fic, I think the one thing that has always stood out to me, even when I was a young teen still new to slash and fanfiction, is the subtle way the intensity of Seifer's feelings are explored. It's not really stated outright, more couched in terms of Seifer's 'crush', but it's pretty clear early on from his actions and reactions that what Seifer feels goes beyond the commonly accepted parameters of a simple crush. The reader is never, at any moment, given the idea that Seifer's feelings are in any way transient. This makes Zell's skittishness and reluctance all the more nerve-wracking, since the story being told from Seifer's perspective means it's hard to get a clear idea of what's going on in Zell's head at any given moment. Sometimes it's obvious, but more often not so.

Well, I say all that, but the real reason I like this fic is because Seifer is such an adorable idiot in love.

The True Story of the Butterfly and the Bumblebee
Title: Where you're meant to Be
Fandom: Fast & Furious Series
Pairing: Brian O'Conner/Dominic Toretto/Carter Verone
Categories: Angst, AU, Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, Supernatural
Length: Medium(14k)
Warnings: Forced Marriage, Character death

Author on LJ: wolfspirit07
Author Website: Casey Wolfe’s Ao3

Summary: Brian is a wolf broken and alone, running from a pack who would sooner kill him as pawn him off. Carter, he has his own demons haunting him as he runs Miami's underbelly. Then there's Alpha Dom, hunting for the wolf that was supposed to be his and surprised by what he ends up finding.

Review: This isn’t a serious story, but it is so cute and fluffy that it is my catnip. No pun intended.

A shapeshifter AU where Brian runs away from home, falls in love, and then falls in love again. So that he, Carter, and Torettos all get to be one big furry family.

The plot is a little predictable and fast moving, but its a nice fast paced read.

Where You’re Meant to Be
Title: The Boy Who Spoke With Ghosts
Fandom: Inception
Pairing: Eames/Arthur
Categories: Crossover, Supernatural
Length: Long (21,794)
Warnings: Ghosts, Violence

Author on LJ: avocado_love
Author Website: AO3 | Tumblr

Author's Summary:
No one suspects Arthur. He's too practical, too organized, too sensible to believe in the supernatural.

Based on the kink meme prompt: Arthur's real name is Cole Sear.

Review:
While this is a crossover with the Sixth Sense, you don't really need to know anything about the movie other than the fact that Cole Sear (Arthur's real name in this fic) can see ghosts.

And let me tell you how much I love that concept, that Arthur has these abilities that he has hidden away his entire life. They're a part of him and he doesn't tell anyone anything, except for maybe hinting towards Mal. The ghosts that haunt him are always present and they usually aren't too troublesome, but they never leave him alone.

This fic takes place a little bit before Inception and a little bit after Inception, seamlessly sliding into place neatly with the movie--like all of this extra business was really happening all along. I really enjoyed the way the author neatly wove the story and the movie together, it was very smoothly done. The relationship Arthur has with Eames is an interesting one; it's not a romance, really, but there's hints of something more. If you're looking for full on romance then this isn't that sort of fic, I would say it's closer to gen than anything else. But it is good, and Eames and Arthur's relationship with one another does take a prominent place in the story.

This is just a really solid piece. Arthur and the rest of them get caught up in some trouble that pings on Eames's suspicions. Said trouble turns even more troublesome and when you couple ghosts and dream sharing... well. It makes for an interesting story, to say the least!

The Boy Who Spoke With Ghosts

The Lodger by Mad Martha (PG-13)

Last week I was late because of computer trouble. This week I'm late because I was enjoying myself too much. Sorry!


Title: The Lodger
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Categories: Drama, romance, canon divergent
Length: Epic (44,500 words)
Warnings: Talk of suicide, accidental(?) near-suicide, depression

Author on AO3: favicon mad_martha

Summary:
Years after Voldemort's death and the end of the war, a lonely and alienated Harry Potter decides to take in a lodger. The result isn't quite what he anticipated. He has more in common with his new housemate than he expected, and together they learn to look life — and the wizarding world — in the face again.

Review:
This story delighted me many years ago when I first read it on Martha's now-defunct LiveJournal. Coming across it again on AO3 when I thought it lost forever was a particular joy, and now I get to pass the joy on to you. Better yet, it turns out that there are prequels and sequels to enjoy as well, though they are by no means necessary to make sense of things.

The story pre-dates Order of the Phoenix, so needless to say diverges from canon. All the information we need as readers is there in the text, spread about as necessary rather than dumped unceremoniously at us, allowing us to slip naturally into this variant world. A slightly different selection of people lived and died, but it's close enough not to matter; it's perfectly clear how both Harry and Draco turn into lonely young men with complicated lives. The trick that brings the two of them into contact some years after Voldemort's death is probably the least convincing part of the whole story, but it works well enough that I can't really complain.

This is a well-written, well thought out story, full of keen observations of personality and social reactions. It's not perfect — Justin Finch-Fletchley is particularly hard done by, but someone recognisable had to turn out to be a plonker to make the story work, and better it be Justin than someone whose nature would have had more obvious violence done to it.

I take particular delight in Martha's portrayal of Ron Weasley. This Ron is no temperamental ham-fisted side-kick to the famous Harry Potter. This Ron is the Chief Auror, the man who quite literally spread Bellatrix Lestrange across the main street of Hogsmeade. He can be extremely intimidating when he wants to be, but he's still the same old Ron. He reacts to the news of Draco's arrival with characteristic Weasley temper, but he and Harry can still have a reasonable approximation of a rational argument about it, and he doesn't hold the grudge past the point of reasonableness. Indeed at several cruicial points, Ron is the one to decide to trust Draco and casually back him up in public. This is a breath of fresh air compared with all the stories out there where Ron causes all of the conflict in the story.

The Lodger

Winter Roses by Kantayra (G)

Title: Winter Roses
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji
Pairing: Gen
Genres: Humour, Friendship, Fluff
Length: Medium (4,275 words)
Warnings: None

Authors on LJ: kantayra
Author Websites: Kantayra @ AO3

Author's Summary:
Sebastian gives Finnian leave to throw a welcome party for Snake. Only with no fireworks. (So, of course, there are fireworks.)

Review:
Thanks to piscaria for letting me rec in one of her claimed fandoms this week.

This fic is about the fluffiest you can get in the Kuroshitsuji fandom whilst still staying true to canon. The Phantomhive servants provide their usual comic relief in this cute ltitle fic about Snakes entry into the household, and the welcome party that Finnie plans. Everyone is delightfully in character, especially Finnie, whose view point the fic is written from.

Winter Roses

Readers' Recs -- Epic Length

Our Epic/Super-Epic theme week has come to an end and we would love to hear from you. Do you have any favorite stories that are longer than 40k? We'd love it if you'd share with us!

  • Recced stories can feature any pairing as long as they match the theme. Fan art, podfic, and fan vid recs are also welcome.

  • You don't need to write a review (unless you want to). All you need to include are title, author, and a link to the story.

  • Fic or media as a single file are preferred, if available.

  • If you'd like to use our reccing template, you can find it under the cut.

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Previous Readers' Recs topics can be found here.

Title: A Marriage of Convenience
Fandom: Marvel
Pairing: Bruce Banner/Tony Stark
Categories/Genres: Romance, Drama, Slow Burn, Fluff, Friendship, Fake Relationship
Length: Epic (43972 words)
Warnings: N/A

Author on LJ: enigmatic_blue
Author Website: enigmaticblue

Summary:

Scenes from two lives, intertwining. Also, what the title says.

Review:

Haters can say what they like about overused tropes, that they're boring and repetitive and, well, overused, but by god, there's a reason that these tropes get used so often and that's because they're great. And honestly, who doesn't love a marriage of convenience that grows into a love match?

Aside from General Thaddeus Ross, that is.

A Marriage of Convenience fills a bit of a niche in the Marvel movie fandom in that it actually addresses Ross' pursuit of Bruce, proposing a unique solution to a problem that seems to have been generally swept under the rug. To be honest, I'd utterly forgotten about Ross myself long before the Avengers movie, so thoroughly had the Hulk movies faded from my mind. So when enigmaticblue approaches the issue and brings the whole of the Avengers into the plot, I was pleased to see an old loose end tied up.

The premise itself seems a bit silly, that Bruce getting hitched to Tony will make him too visible to get kidnapped by Ross. enigmaticblue plays it off well enough, presenting a few logical arguments, but not shying away from mentioning that everyone thinks Tony's insane for suggesting it. But the story quickly turns away from the convenient aspect of the marriage itself, delving into the relationship that develops between Tony and Bruce within the context of their faked marriage.

That relationship forms the core of the fic as the two move from friendly affection to something more, each becoming more invested in the other's safety, happiness, and, (Tony being Tony), sexual gratification. The camaraderie and protectiveness of the other Avengers fills out the rest of the story, and their dedication to protecting their own is heartwarming and almost familial.

If you're looking for some rough-and-tumble Avengers-style action, maybe give this one a pass. But if you're in the mood for slow-burn warm and fuzzies and domestic Science Boyfriends, you'll want to give this one a shot.

A Marriage of Convenience
Title: Tony Stark Meets an Extremely Unimpressed Time Traveler, or, Thomas Barrow Makes a Surprisingly Good 21st Century Butler
Fandom: Downton AbbeyThe Avengers (Marvel Movies)
Pairing: Thomas Barrow/Tony Stark
Categories: AU, Friends, Hurt/Comfort, Time-travel
Length: Epic (87.5k)
Warnings: Homophobia; Mentions of past persecution; War

Author on LJ: alex51324
Website: Alex51324

Summary: In which Tony Stark ditches a boring party, makes an addition to the household staff, throws a much better party, and tries not to sexually harass his new butler.

Or,In which Thomas Barrow has a little trouble getting home from the pub, is generally unimpressed with many aspects of the 21st century, never thought of himself as a conservative dresser before, and may or may not be falling in lust with his new employer.

tl:dr: Thanks to time travel, Thomas Barrow becomes the Avengers' butler.

Review: I started to read this and couldn't put it down. I ended up reading it all in one day.

I love Thomas' point of view on the 21st century, and how the story focused on the adjustment period for both Thomas and Tony. I love Jarvis in this. He might not be on of the main characters but you definitely get a real feel his sarcastic wit and how he manages his butlering duty.

Tony Stark Meets an Extremely Unimpressed Time Traveler, or, Thomas Barrow Makes a Surprisingly Good 21st Century Butler

Eir's Tomorrow by jukeboxhound (R)

Title: Eir's Tomorrow
Fandom: Final Fantasy 7
Pairing: Sephiroth/Cloud (Main), Zack/Aeris, Elena/Tifa, Angeal/Genesis
Categories: AU, Time Travel, Wingfic (...It's FF7, kind of expected)
Length: Super Epic (162,615)
Warnings: Violence, Torture, PTSD, Minor character death

Author on LJ: jukeboxhound
Author Website: AO3 | Tumblr

Author's Summary:
Cloud is the Planet's greatest weapon, and if he can't fix old wrongs and battles then he may end up being the means by which it all ends (again).

Review:
I adore FF7 fic. I even more adore the entire time traveling trope that the FF7 fandom uses with complete abandon (seriously, you turn around and there's another one! [honestly, I wish there were more so I have more to read]). It is rare, however, that you find a FF7 time travel fic that is long and complete and good. This fills all three of those!

You start off with the planet dying, which is a main staple in a lot of FF7 time travel fics. Then, of course, said planet catapults Cloud back into time. Except a lot of fics where you start off with Cloud as a cadet, you have Cloud as the kind of invisible guy who hangs around Sephiroth as a child. Which is less creepy than I'm making it sound. Um.

But, seriously, Cloud meets Sephiroth as a child due to the planet being all screwy--a Sephiroth who is experimented on, who is treated as a subject, and who has no real positive guidance. Enter Cloud who isn't all mentally there a lot of the time (the planet isn't exactly the benevolent presence it is in a lot of other fics), but who eventually sees Sephiroth as this child with a horrible life and Cloud grows protective.

Then there's another shift. Cloud is taken away, Sephiroth grows up, and things change. Cloud is determined that events won't follow the same path as his last lifetime, but life is both hard and unexpected. Not everything works out, but there are bright spots along the way. Events grow truly epic--it's not about just a handful of people, it's about saving an entire world that hurts just as much as it helps. Everything grows complicated and nothing is easy. Terrible, terrible things happen. And yet there's still people striving to make the best of things.

The author takes the idea of time travel FF7 fic and makes it their own. A lot of the fics can feel the same after a while, but this goes in original and interesting directions. It's long and very plotty--the romance is there, but much later on and it never takes over the storyline. It's just good and such a well worth it read.

Eir's Tomorrow
Title: Lock All The Doors Behind You
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Pairing: Derek/Stiles
Categories: Hurt/comfort, feral behavior
Length: Long (25,959 words)
Warnings: Aftermath of torture

Author on LJ:  entanglednow
Author Website:  entanglednow

Summary: He has no idea what you're supposed to say when you find one of your...werewolf acquaintances, completely out of their mind, growling like they're about to see what your insides taste like. There's no handbook for this. Stiles is thinking that if he survives he might write one.

Review: This is a story that I would have recced sooner, except it's so well-loved that I'd assumed one of my fellow Teen Wolf reccers had already beaten me to it! Naturally, I was both thrilled and dismayed to find out I was wrong. "Lock All The Doors Behind You" is probably in my top 10 Teen Wolf fics, a delightful classic from that golden age of Teen Wolf fanfic between season 2 and 3. It begins with Scott and Stiles learning that Derek has disappeared, which Stiles dismisses with a kind of good-riddance attitude. A few days later, though, Derek turns up, but he's not himself. After having been kidnapped and tortured, he's reverted to a feral version of himself -- and to Stiles's dismay, he's the only person this new Derek will tolerate.

This story does what a lot of Teen Wolf fic doesn't, and starts with a Stiles who doesn't have some sort of secret crush on Derek. In fact, his initial attitude can be summed up as grudgingly indifferent to him. But in taking care of this new, feral version of Derek, he clearly comes to care for the real thing as well. I also get a kick out of feral Derek himself -- he and Stiles have a very boy and his terrifying puppy relationship, and entanglednow has clearly spent some time around dogs. Readers familiar with the story will know why I love it so much, and those who have managed to miss it are in for a treat.

I also highly recommend the podfic by rhea314. Rhea's performances are always delightfully easy to listen to, and this is no exception, with clear articulation, easy pacing, and clean production. It's one of my favorite podfics, and I've honestly lost track of the number of times I've listened to it.


Lock All The Doors Behind You
[Podfic] Lock All The Doors Behind You
It's Epic week, and I've been saving this one up! This should have been posted last night, but I fell foul of misbehaving hotel wifi. Sorry about that.


Title: The League of Extraordinary Women
Fandom: Harry Potter/Buffy/Stargate SG-1/DCU/The Secret World of Alex Mack/Bionic Woman
Pairing: Gen
Categories: Crossover, action/adventure, crossover,
Length: Super!Epic (134,500 words)

Author Website: Diane's page on the Whateley Acadamy fanfiction wiki.
Author Website: Twisting the Hellmouth author page.

Summary:
Hermione Granger has to recruit six women to help her stop an army of monsters before her world is overrun. But none of the women are even in her dimension...

Review:
This massive story is a response to a site challenge that basically amounts to "get a bunch of women together to save the world." The resulting story is so much more than that.

Yes, OK, so a lot of women from different worlds do get together under the direction of Hermione Granger to defeat a hellgoddess intent on invading other dimensions, but they do it with intelligence and style, making full use of the widely varied skillsets they have. There are fights, but they are conducted with tactical sense and use of such extra resources that are available. In general it hits that wonderful balance point where the characters are intelligent and competent, but not so smart and capable that you stop believing in them.

It's not perfect, of course. The prophecy has all the usual credibility problems of prophecies in being both too specific and too vague, as well as a bit cringeworthy; as usual it would have been more believable if we didn't see the whole thing and immediately treat it as an indifferent acrostic. There is also maybe a bit much random discussion and phoning home before the main event, throwing the pacing off a bit. It's still a very good story with a great deal to commend it to all readers.

There are two sequels, using the term loosely. The first, Cross Purposes is really a collection of shorts in which various characters look up the equivalents of their team-mates in their own universes. Thus SG-1 attempt to recruit Rupert Giles from the British Museum, unaware that he is a double-oh; Bruce Wayne contacts an embittered Sam Carter just before she turns into a supervillain; the Scoobies discover just how paranoid a retired air-force colonel can be; and so on. Some of the stories have been extended into novellas, but are confusingly intertwined and could do with a good sorting out.

The second is the super-epic The Secret Return of Alex Mack. Weighing in at a whopping 1,000,000 words — yes, you read that right, one million words — and still climbing, it continues Alex's story as she returns home and takes up the the identity of "Terawatt." Crossovers abound; I won't spoil your enjoyment by saying much. Suffice it to say that an awful lot of my B-movie guilty pleasures get checked off, and my admiration for Riley Jerome Finn knows no bounds. Again, there are faults; I could cheerfully live without ever seeing Alex's morning exercise routine again, and the emphasis on how much Alex has to eat to fuel her powers is a overdone. Personally I'm not at all taken by the teen drama parts, but that's probably more a reflection of me being a middle-aged man rather than a sixteen year old girl; either way none of the flaws are fatal.

Just a little light reading for you as you head off on holiday :-)

The League of Extraordinary Women

Witness Protection by snowdragonct (NC-17)

Title: Witness Protection
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairing: Heero/Duo (1x2)
Genres: AU, Action/Adventure, Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Friendship
Length: Super!Epic (392,439 words)
Warnings: Major character death

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: snowdragonct @ FF.net

Author's Summary:
When Zechs Merquise is found murdered, detectives Heero Yuy and Wufei Chang are tasked with the unenviable chore of keeping the only witness to the crime alive long enough to testify against the leader of the Oz syndicate, Treize Khushrenada.

Review:
It's super epic week, and for the occasion I'm reccing the longest fic in my collection. Fics this long can sometimes lose momentum, or only be long because the author doesn't know how to edit themselves. Happily, that is not the case with this fic. The crime novel plot keeps the momentum going despite the long word count. There's twists and red herrings and betrayals - pretty much what you would expect. That doesn't mean that those twists don't pack a punch though, and they certainly helped keep my attention. So did the story of Heero and Duo's developing relationship, which is also a very compelling reason to keep reading.

Heero and Wufei are a pair of detectives tasked with protecting Duo, the witness to the murder. Their friendship is a delight to read, a pair of stoic badasses who greatly respect and admire each other. Wufei is the consummate professional, and Heero is the guy who keeps getting reprimanded for using excessive force. Duo is an exotic dancer, annoying, full of attitude, definitely not the sort of person to sit quietly back and let the cops take care of him, and determined to needle Heero into showing emotion - he's completely in character. Everyone is, and their interactions are a delight to read. After a bit of a rollercoaster the ending of the fic is a satisfying and sweet payoff.

Witness Protection
Title: I Want You to Feel Familiar
Fandom: Welcome to Night Vale
Pairing: Carlos/Cecil Palmer
Categories/Genres: Memory alteration, Established relationship, Hurt/comfort, Romance, Fluff
Length: Medium (2367 words)
Warnings: N/A

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: scioscribe

Summary:

“I know who you are,” Cecil said, finally looking at him. His pupils were still just pinpricks from the force of the light. “Carlos.” He rubbed his temples. “The power,” he said, “was out for a really long time. Citizens with power outages, especially during times of rolling blackouts, may experience a temporary sense of identity dislocation.”

(Well, Carlos is going to fix that.)

Review:

As much as I love Welcome to Night Vale, it frustrates me endlessly how little of it we get to enjoy. One twenty to thirty minute episode every two weeks. Two episodes a month. Twenty-four precious episodes in a year. That's twenty-four days we get to peek into the intricate town of Night Vale out of three hundred sixty-five, (temporal incidents notwithstanding).

More lately, I've also developed a minor facial tic when I think about how
Carlos and Cecil are still in separate dimensions and not able to be cute dorky boyfriends with each other.
I have a mighty need, okay?

I Want You to Feel Familiar is the perfect remedy to both of these ailments, expanding a minor segment from an early episode into an event with actual consequence and emotional impact. Cecil is strikingly fragile in it, struggling to reconnect the hard data of his memories with the abstract emotions he knows should be attached to them. Carlos fumbles, sciences, and makes everything better.

I Want You to Feel Familiar

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Length Guidelines

Short: under 2,000 words
Medium: 2,000-15,000 words
Long: 15,000-40,000 words
Epic: 40,000-100,000 words
Super Epic: 100,000+ words

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