sotto_voce: Joshua Chamberlain staring into the distance, with caption "brains are sexy" ([HIMYM] you're more than that)
Lexie ([personal profile] sotto_voce) wrote2010-12-28 11:01 am

recs part 2: electric boogaloo!

Snow is the heaviest ever. I helped shovel the driveway and I'm pretty sure I am going to die now. (It was only eight inches of snow. I am so out of shape. Also, I am a wuss.) On the bright side, I used my snow day to both sleep and power through the [livejournal.com profile] yuletide archive! I'm into the b's. Home stretch! I think this may be the fastest I've ever gotten through the whole thing.

There are going to be some fandoms here that repeat from my last post; this is totally due to Yuletide Madness opening late and not (surprisingly! for once!) due to my organizational ineptitude.

Fandoms are: Young Avengers, Texts from Last Night/TV commercials (Old Spice) [crossover], Star Wars: X-Wing series - Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston, Princess Tutu, Oglaf, No Reservations RPF/The Chronicles of Narnia [crossover], Neverwhere, Mythbusters RPF, Mulan, Monty Python RPF, Modern Family, The Middleman, Mary Poppins, The Magic School Bus, Love Actually, Live Free or Die Hard, Lackadaisy, James Bond films, Indiana Jones, Hyperbole and a Half, Huge, The Hunger Games, How I Met Your Mother, Hark! A Vagrant, The Great Mouse Detective, The Golden Girls/Deadwood [crossover], Futurama, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Frasier/Supernatural [crossover], FoxTrot/Calvin and Hobbes [crossover].

YOUNG AVENGERS

Relative Terms (or, Not Exactly Christmas Elves)
(Billy tries to get Teddy the perfect Christmas gift; chaos ensues. This is so funny and so sweet! I don't know my Young Avengers canon very well, but I know it enough for the cameos from the other Young Avengers to read as in-character and very, very funny, and for this to be delightful.)
“The only magic books I have are from Barnes & Nobles,” he said. He ran his fingers down the edge of the pages. There was a claw-shaped clip holding the book closed. “Nothing like this. Where did you get it?”

“I raked leaves for Doctor Strange for two months,” Teddy admitted, sidling up next to Billy. “He is really picky about his lawn.”

Billy swallowed hard. Teddy had gotten him a magic tome. A magic tome that had belonged to Doctor Strange. Best boyfriend ever. And here Billy had been thinking about getting him a new video game. (Which was still better than his mother’s suggestion of “a nice pair of slacks.”)


TEXTS FROM LAST NIGHT

Texts from Your Shower
(I died. This is a crossover between the Old Spice commercials and Texts from Last Night, written entirely in text message form. I died.)
(555):
Hello, person with towels that rival only the softness of my own skin. We met last night in your shower. You asked me to text and remind you that you are as beautiful as the last crystal of snow on the tip of a unicorn's horn on Christmas morning, and that last night was the best night of your life. Times a bajillion. On a horse. You’re welcome, person with towels that rival only the softness of my own skin.

Good night (10001) Bad night (23)


STAR WARS: X-WING SERIES - AARON ALLSTON & MICHAEL STACKPOLE

A Galaxie Far Far Awaye
(In-character, funny banter between Face, Phanan, and Tyria! With bonus Face/Phanan, which I always thought was totally happening, even when I was, like, 12 and reading the X-Wing books.)
"Our Fearless Leader," Face explained, "has asked us to examine the available evidence in order to deduce what Warlord Zsinj may be planning in his next attack against the Republic."

"Yes," Tyria said, under her breath. "I was in fact at the briefing this morning, thank you."

"And Piggy muttered something about pirates before leaving at a great rate of knots," Phanan continued smoothly, "so we were wondering-"

"You were poking fun," Tyria interrupted, with quite unfair accuracy, Face felt. His expression gave nothing away, as always - he was clever too a charlatan for that, but she could tell.


PRINCESS TUTU

Entr'acte
(A conversation between Fakir and Duck just after the end of the first ... I am not sure what to call it; season? of Princess Tutu. Duck is wonderfully sweet and indignant, while Fakir is prickly and duty-bound. In other words, it reads like it could have happened.)
“Idiot,” Fakir rasps out. “Edel wanted to see you dance. Besides, that’s how the story goes.”

“Yeah, but . . .” Duck’s chin starts to stick out in a way that indicates that she’s resolutely keeping it from wobbling. Her voice is wobbly too. “It’s . . . you should have gotten to dance too, Fakir! Miss Edel should have gotten to see you dance too, before . . .”

Fakir pushes himself up on one elbow so that he can look her straight in the face, almost dislodging the bandages. “Don’t talk nonsense,” he says, harsher than he means. The knight’s only dance is the dance of battle, his only partner his enemies. They all know what their roles are.


OGLAF

Four Seasons
(This follows the lesbian mercenary after her run-in with the Snow Queen; I love the way that Oyun's character has been expanded on [like: she has a name now! Oyun!], and the cameo from the Old Spice guy is random and absolutely ridiculous in the best possible way.)
“Pretty waitress,” he said. “This is my companion Oyun. I command that you treat her like a queen. Look at my hand. Look up. I have it. It's a blue ruby, delved from the mines of Tar'el'helith. Look back down. The ruby is now a gold piece. Fetch us some more of the divine nectar with which you served me earlier.”

She pocketed the gold piece, and looked at Oyun. “Two of the local, then?”

“Please,” said Oyun wearily.

“Silverfish hand catch!” cried the Man. He handed the trout to the waitress, who turned her nose up a bit. Oyun sympathised. He was always doing shit like this. She wondered how fresh that fish was.


NO RESERVATIONS RPF

No Reservations: Narnia
(This is a pitch-perfect recreation of an episode of No Reservations, complete with Anthony Bourdain's wordy dinner-table judgments of his companions [in this case: the Marshwiggles] and Todd the hapless cameraman knocking shit over everywhere. I heard the whole thing in Bourdain's voice and it made me laugh til I cried. Rereading again now; crying with giggles again.)
When, by some bureaucratic miracle, my crew and I were permitted entry, I wondered if I was too old and jaded for Narnia. Maybe I’d been too old and jaded by the time I was twelve. Narnia is supposed to a land of clean living and old-fashioned values, where men are men and women are women and you have to go to Calormen to find anything more spicy than mulled wine. Not my kind of place at all, really.


NEVERWHERE

A Teacup for a Crown
(This is a lovely exploration of London Below, with Door, Richard, and the marquis keeping the peace between various factions.)
There was one tall-backed chair, wide enough for two people who were very friendly but not big enough to be a proper two-seater. In it sat a pale young man with honeyed gold hair and a tinfoil crown. His feet didn't touch the floor. He lifted his chin as they followed their escort in. The marquis strode into the center of the room, to the open square of floor in front of the throne. He gave a sweeping, courtly bow and said, "Your lordship, it has been too long," and his voice was a purr, like melted chocolate pouring over them all. The sheer force of personality was a like a wave as the attention of everyone in the room was drawn in. Richard had seen the marquis pour quite a bit of charm into some of his dealings, but those had barely scratched the surface. The courtiers, if they could be called that, were deathly silent.


MYTHBUSTERS RPF

Like Bottled Lightning
(A gen piece focusing on the period of time during and just after shooting the first episodes of the series; it's a fabulous look at how Adam and Jamie could have begun to get to know each other and to complement each other as a team.)
“I want to escape from Alcatraz,” he says.

Adam is silent for a beat.

Then he bursts out laughing. “Oh my God, Jamie, it’s perfect. The two of us in the middle of the night in our little raincoat raft paddling through the bay, just the two of us--”

“The two of us and our follow-boat with a full camera crew.”

“Whatever,” Adam says. “That’s perfect. You do have a soul.”


MULAN

soldiers, soldiering on
(Mulan -- as Ping -- somehow winds up repeatedly getting pulled into these really uncomfortable situations. Like a brothel. It was a delight seeing the crossdressing get dealt with in ways that it couldn't have been in a Disney movie, and the voices were all excellent.)
Cao ni ma de gou tou si sheng zi!” she cursed in pain at Ling, who had just socked her in the jaw so hard she spat blood. As soon as she said it, she clamped her hands over her mouth. That was one of the most offensive string of insults she could have said.

She half-expected Ling to punch her in the face again, but the soldier just laughed uproariously and gave her a rough pat on the back. It was one of those moments, she later understood, that indicated his non-verbal acceptance. From then on, Ling never made fun of her girly handwriting, or the way she pronounced things (properly), and he never once raised an eyebrow when he found out that she could sew, and mend their clothes.

Uxorilocal
(It's post-canon fic about the politics following the film, and the fact that Mulan is now higher-ranked than Shang, and it's fabulous.)
Following the wedding, both Shang and Mulan were called to the Imperial City, where Mulan was officially appointed to her position as Imperial adviser. She accepted the seal of her station with all due ceremony, and as she was backing out of the room, tripped on an uneven edge in the floor and ended up flipping backwards so as not to fall down.

The Emperor, it is said, laughed, and ordered that she not be punished for insolence, as it had quite clearly been an accident. He also instructed her to commend her husband on his training of his soldiers, if all of Captain Li Shang’s former and present subordinates were so skilled.


MONTY PYTHON RPF

READ THIS FIRST
(This is astonishing. It's sprawling and multimedia and absurd and confusing, and everything a Monty Python fic should be.)
Biarritz was a city made out of salmon-colored paint and astonishingly deep sunsets. There were huge rocks jutting from the water that Terry wanted to film Mike falling off of. There was a pub down the street where a very attractive woman with black-rimmed eyes had laughed at him when he'd asked directions. There was a man on the beach who sold caramel ice cream in cones the length of Terry's forearm, and Graham Chapman was sitting with his feet propped up on the balcony railing, smoking his pipe and saying nothing as the sun went down.

Their room was best described as "European bland," cheap and drab. Two beds, both clean enough, and Terry knew which of Graham's bags held the gin. He sat at the desk and pulled out his notebook, opening to a fresh, auspicious page.


We would skip this one, if we were you -- it's more of a supporting document, really
(A companion piece to the above; again with the absurd, confusing, everything a Monty Python fic should be, and also strangely profound. I'm not sure I entirely understood everything that happened in both fics, but I sure as hell enjoyed them.)
"You'll do it, then?" said Mike.

"I'll try." Terry flipped a page in his notebook and wished he had a machine gun. Just because it might be interesting. "Did you come up with anything for that sketch, by the way?"

"Not a jot," Michael said. "Or rather, lots, but it's all rubbish. You?"

"Can we get a prop machine gun?"

"Doubt it."


MODERN FAMILY

Tapdancing in a Minefield
(Somehow, the two Modern Family stories that I enjoyed the most were both about Alex coming out; go figure! I love Alex in this one, and Haley's supportive-but-still-totally-Haley encouragement.)
Finally, on Sunday, Alex gathers up her courage -- after ten texts from Haley that say DID YOU TALK TO THEM YET? in all-caps -- and heads over to Mitchell and Cam's. Lily answers the door with her usual dour look, but she also gives Alex a hug before running back to her room, which is pretty cute.

"We're working on her greetings," Cam tells her. "She likes hugging."

"She's a good hugger," Alex says politely. She sits down on the couch and accepts tea and cookies from Cameron. The cookies are better than her mom's, but Alex knows never to tell Claire that, unless she really wants to see her mother have a complete nuclear meltdown.

dividing every question 'til the questions are complete
(Alex talks to just about every adult in the combined family in this one, and everyone is wonderful; I particularly enjoyed Phil's utter obliviousness, Claire's spying, and Luke's mocking.)
When she tells grandpa (and she doesn’t want to, because this feels like a total over-share, but her uncles insisted she start now, or something), Claire has his elbow in a tight grip, and Mitch is muttering things like, “No jokes about k.d. lang. No asking if she’s going to cut off her hair. No-”

“Oh, geez,” her grandpa sighs, pulling her into a hug.

“I love you,” he says into her ear. “And if anyone tries to give you trouble, you just let me know.”


THE MIDDLEMAN

The Latina Progenitor Invasion
(Wendy's family comes to visit. Chaos ensues. The Wendy voice is so, so good.)
What really upset Wendy, more than the possibility of immanent death via laser beam from a pissed off bird the size of a Buick was that her mother didn't really understand why Wendy's boyfriend couldn't meet them for a family dinner at Dos Hermanos.

"Mom, the trip was really last minute—" Wendy sighed into her mobile phone as Ida belted her into the Middle-jetpack.

"It was a Ding fare! You know I always keep an eye out for those Ding fares."

"—and his second album is really important—"

"If it were your father, he would have found a way."

"Mom, dad's been missing since 1999. I don't think we can reliably say that when faced with scheduling issues, Dad wouldn't have skipped appetizers at the local tapas restaurant to put food on the table and a roof over our heads."

Five Times Wendy Flew Solo
(What it says on the tin! Wendy's competence and nerdery are delightful, along with her snark.)
"Excuse me, sir. My name is Illyana Kuryakin, and this is my - " She hesitates, but barely. " - junior associate, Napoleon Solo. We're with the United Network for Comic Legal Enforcement. We understand you've had rather, um, severe property damage to your trade paperbacks."

The clerk switches his attention to Wendy, then to the Middleman, the force of whose glare she can feel without even looking. "Uh," he says. "Yeah. It was a promo display of Neil Gaiman..."

"Novels, graphic novels, or both?" asks Wendy, feeling a pang in her heart at the news.

"Both," laments the clerk. "Including the illustrated edition of Stardust."

"Not the Charles Hess?" asks Wendy, horrified.

The Middleman clears his throat, and Wendy blinks. Right.

The OK Cupid Cloning Confabulation
(The voices are A++, the celebrity pairing that was repeatedly mentioned made me laugh and laugh, and the Vermont joke sealed the deal.)
"You mean you program the clones to be perfect mates for their DNA donors?"

"Jango Fett! That's--" the Middleman sputters.

"Taking the idea of matchmaking to its horrifyingly logical, and really, really creepy conclusion," Wendy says.

"Not to mention illegal in forty-nine states," the Middleman says, recovered from his brief bout of dented romanticism and full of righteous indignation.

Wendy cocks her head and looks up at him. "Only forty-nine?"

"How do you think Vermont's population remains so steady?"

The Random Roommate Rencontre
(There was so much good Middleman fic this year! This is Wendy and Lacey's first meeting in art school; it's so warm and funny, and so them.)
"Wendy Watson."

Lacey broke out into a full-on grin. "Alliteration. I like it. It makes you sound like a trusty girl reporter." She ducked her head slightly, as if realizing that might not be the best thing to say to someone you just met, but Wendy smirked and relaxed even more.

"Yeah, I do that in my spare time in between bouts of crime-fighting."


MARY POPPINS

There Are Silver Skies
(The one where Mary Poppins is George Banks's nanny for several magical days when he's a little boy. It's absolutely lovely, especially the fits of imagination.)
Mary Poppins snapped her fingers, and Georgie felt large hands, like the wind had been but gentler, pick him up and carry him, floating, down the stairs.

Father shouted, "Young man, what are you doing out of bed and flying down the stairs at this time?"

"I don't know, Father. Sorry, Father."

"I'll put the lad to bed and then get myself settled, Mr. Banks. Breakfast is at seven-thirty, so I'll wake him at seven. Good night!"

And with that, Mary Poppins picked up her carpet bag in one hand and took Georgie's small hand in the other, and walked up the stairs straight to his room.


THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS

On Howliday
(Arnold turns into a werewolf; Ms. Frizzle and the other kids come to the only logical conclusion -- they'll have to shrink down to check this out. Oh, the voices are so good; it brought me right back to being a kid parked in front of this cartoon. Carlos's horrible puns are hilarious.)
“Now, Phoebe, we shouldn’t pass judgment on others,” Ms. Frizzle said.

“Yeah, Arnold wouldn’t have gotten himself bitten on purpose,” Keesha chimed in.

“Besides, if Arnold’s own parents decided it was okay for him to go for a walk alone at midnight during the full moon, I’m sure they made a responsible, educated choice after doing their research,” Wanda added. “Sometimes these things just happen.”

“Um, guys, this really isn’t a good time,” Arnold broke in. He was clutching his left arm with his right hand. His left hand had already transformed into a shaggy paw with dark, curvy claws. “Ms. Frizzle, if you could just give me a slip, I’ll go up to the health office, and the nurse can call my parents to come pick me up.”

“Nonsense,” Ms. Frizzle said. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Arnold, this is all part of a perfectly natural process.”


LOVE, ACTUALLY

Feel It In Your Fingers (Five Questions on the Nature of Love)
(A series of short pieces about several sets of characters from the film; really gentle and warm.)
“Aurelia! Você viu meu... dicionário?

She jumped, scrambling to hide the papers, and knocked the dictionary off onto the floor. She bent over to pick it up, and pain exploded through her head. She heard Jaime yell, and they both straightened up, rubbing the spot where they’d bumped into each other. They laughed, and Jaime rubbed Aurelia’s head too, fingers soft and tender as they sifted through her hair.

Eu te amo,” Jaime said, his eyes shining, and Aurelia smiled as warmth bloomed through her.

“I love also you.”


LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD

The One Where Matt Farrell Is Most Certainly Not Sleeping With John McClane (not even a little)
(The Matt voice is great; I love his totally in-character burst of heroism, and the crazed gunman who receives the brunt of said heroism has some of my favorite reasoning ever for a fictional rampage. Plus I am a sucker for Matt/McClane.)
“You’re crazy. We need to get to the roof and wait for the chopper. We’re running the fuck away and letting the whole building full of people with guns handle the maniac.”

Matt tries McClane’s office phone next. He gets nothing, not even a busy signal. “I’m not crazy. I just want to make sure McClane isn’t in trouble.” Privately Matt concedes that he does sound a little crazy, but Warlock will just have to deal.

Warlock pushes back from the wall of computers they share and swivels around in his rolly chair. “Dude. Delusions of grandeur much? Newsflash, Matt—McClane doesn’t need your help. He’s Han Solo, and you’re C3PO. C3PO with no legs.”

The Day Is Saved
(This is total crack and I love it. Each ridiculous violent scenario tops the one before it, which is perfect for a canon where a guy threw a car at a helicopter. In which Lucy Gennaro McClane is a certified badass, and Matt and the older McClane also do stuff.)
“Daddy. Santa is not crazy.” Lucy rolled her eyes.

Santa was crazy.

Two minutes later, Lucy was hiding in a pitch-dark janitor’s closet with an unconscious security guard. She reloaded the guard’s weapon with steady hands while utter chaos reigned outside. The veritable army of elves was, in fact, an army, and that beatific look on Santa’s face was actual religious fervor: Macy’s was being held hostage by a doomsday cult dressed in felt and pompoms.

Over the screams of the crowd—and the kids sobbing at Santa’s terrible betrayal—Lucy could hear her father shouting taunts as he exchanged fire with the elves. But she was more worried about Santa, who had pulled an honest-to-god rocket launcher out of his bag of gifts when everything went to hell. She could hear him ranting. His voice got louder and clearer—he was heading in her direction. Her moment was coming. She closed her eyes against the dark of the closet and ran her fingers over the weapon again, double-checking.


LACKADAISY

Spatter
(Mordecai cleans blood stains while Viktor reads the paper. There is bickering. I love them SO MUCH. SO MUCH.)
"And don't let me start talking about gardening implements," continues Mordecai. He picks up his brush and begins again.

"Don't start talking," says Viktor. He turns the newspaper over, reading the back page.

Mordecai's hands still for a moment as he thinks. Eventually he decides to take Viktor's comment as a joke, and deploys a tiny, amused smile.

"Even kitchenware is getting to be-"

"Agh!" shouts Viktor.


JAMES BOND FILMS

The Care and Feeding of Your M
(Miss Moneypenny is very, very good at her job. Delightful!)
"Good morning, ma'am," she said. "I'm Jane Moneypenny, and I'll be working as your personal clerk from now on. Is there anything you will be in need of to start off your mornings? A paper, perhaps, or a cup of tea?"

"Miss Moneypenny," her new boss told her severely, "I am well aware of who you are. You are a Lieutenant in her majesty's Secret Service. You have top level security clearance and have been instrumental in aiding this office to orchestrate covert matters for the entirety of your professional existence. To that end, I have an entire list of actual national security related matters which I am going to need to discuss with you, which I do not need a newspaper to inform me of. I am quite certain that there is someone else in this building who is capable of getting me a cup of tea." Jane opened her mouth to apologize, but M cut her off. "Furthermore," she added, "I am a coffee drinker."

Information received
(And so is Villiers! I love that these two fics both focused on characters other than action hero Bond, and that they are all about how badass and competent they are.)
Villiers wondered if it was something hardwired and primeval that made him stop when Bond came into the room, some reflex of self protection left over from the days of predator and prey, of hiding in the trees from the sabre tooth tigers. Villiers didn’t know, because even firsts in Modern History and Politics are light on the evolutionary biology. Some weird combination of adrenaline and hormones was spiking his heart rate and kicking his gut, that much was self evident, even as he arranged the last of the “Top Secret” files, their black diagonal stripes bold on their buff folders.

“Villiers,” said Bond. He hitched a hip over Villiers’ desk and crossed his heavy forearms over his crisp blue linen shirt. “Is she in?” Bond smiled his easy smile, tanned skin creasing round his eyes; the bruise over his left cheekbone was almost faded, Villiers noted.


INDIANA JONES

Aslan Sutu
(Marion and Indy in the first stage of their relationship. I love the details that the author provides, and Marion winning her first drinking contest! Marion is written here as entirely fiery and self-possessed and Marion even at 16, which is a delight.)
She and Indy sneak out of the dig and go boating along the Bosporus. He takes her to one of the gambling dens in Cengelkoy, an old mansion built by the Ottomans, and they hustle some sailors at poker. The sailors are pretty livid, and there are words exchanged and weapons brandished. To distract them, she bets some businessman at the next table 30 lira that she can drink more raki than he can.

Well, it's not her own money she's betting, and if she loses, no one's worse off. If she wins, they're 30 lira richer and the sailors forget about how they've been ripped off. Indy isn't pleased - he protests that Abner will kill him, getting his 16-year-old daughter drunk.

Marion rolls her eyes. Jones is willing to charm her, teach her all kinds of ways to cheat people out of money, and bed her fairly regularly, but intoxication of a minor is where he draws the line?


HYPERBOLE AND A HALF

The Alot, The Tuit, Mrs. Gradgrind, Sophie and Me, Allie
(This is very fun! I'm thrilled that fic about Allie Brosh's webcomic exists at all, and this was very funny and imaginative. The tone is excellent.)
Mrs. Gradgrind was my third-grade teacher. Like her Dickensian namesake, Mrs. Gradgrind was all about facts and reality and making sure that kids never dreamt of anything. She especially loathed girls, and relished telling us, in a thousand different ways, that while we might think that we were going to become mechanics, doctors and astronauts, we were destined to be housewives, teachers or, if we were very bright, nurses. And we needed to accept that right now.

I wanted to grow up to be a witch with my own starship, to discover lost worlds and, when I got a chance, to go back in time, hitch a ride on a pteranodon and hunt velociraptors.

We were not ideally matched.


HUGE

and hate the bright stillness of the noon
(This is just -- wow. It's George and Amber and their feelings about each other [and about themselves], and also Dr. Rand and Will and Becca and others. It picks right up where the series finale left off and reads like a missing episode. It's so good, man. I got to the end and wanted there to be more; the quick glimpses we caught of some of the other kids were just as spot-on!)
"Oh spare me," she hears Will saying behind her, "Seriously? You think everyone else can fit but you, the skinniest person here, are going to get stuck? 'Oh, reassure me,'" she says in a mocking falsetto.

"Hey," George says, sounding angry, "She's genuinely scared, okay?" She hears shuffling behind her. "This is George," he says, and she feels a hand wrap around her ankle. "It's okay. You can do this. Try to back up a little and then, uh, drop your hips a little."

So now George is looking at her giant stuck butt, and if she dies here he's going to be trapped too. She tries to take a deep breath but she can't, she can't breathe.

"I know you can do this, Amber," George says. "Let's take some yoga breaths, okay?" She can hear him behind her, making exaggerated hoos and haas so she can hear them; he sounds a little like Darth Vader, and she giggles.


THE HUNGER GAMES

Beauty Like a Tightened Bow
(Short, evocative Cinna character study; I really liked this.)
Cinna is eighteen. His hair remains short and his clothing is plain, a throwback to some holy man or unknown prophet, if such things ever existed. His one concession is gold eyeliner. It belongs to his mother and he finds it discarded on her dressing table one evening. Not all that glitters and all of that. It suits the Capitol well, he thinks, and he is of the Capitol, whatever about his unexpected, understated beginnings.

Closer to the Sun
(I was so hoping to see Rue fic this Yuletide! It follows her life; short and sweet, and very beautiful.)
Rue begins to climb as soon as she is tall enough to reach the lowest branches of the average tree in the orchard.

She is five years old.

Within seven months, she's working with her father. Light and small enough to not shake the fruit free from the branches as she climbs, Rue is a valuable asset. She climbs higher than anyone else will dare and picks fruit from the top most branches.

She shifts the satchel that she carries across her shoulder and brushes away the mockingjays flitting around her head. They sing to her and she whistles back, smiling upward at their outline against the sun.

Lost in Desperation
(This follows Prim through the events of the first book; it's innocent and sweet and very sad.)
"You don't have to sleep with me anymore," Katniss said, all the while moving over to make room for Prim next to her. Their new home was lovely and Prim knew how hard Katniss had fought for it, but it was too big for Prim's liking and Prim liked to be there to help Katniss after one of her nightmares. Prim slipped into the bed next to her sister without a word and wrapped her arms around Katniss. "I thought I was finally free of that damn cat."

Prim giggled into her sister's shoulder and said, "The Girl on Fire is afraid of an innocent little kitten. I bet that would make headlines around the country."

Fish in a Barrel
(Oh my God. This is the story of Finnick's Hunger Games. I bawled. The gamekeepers' tricks and traps are so twisty and the original characters are engrossing, and the ending is like a punch to the solar plexus. This is so, so good.)
You let yourself spin from the vine, taking in the forest to either side of you, watching as the girl from Eight and the boy from Nine rise from the ferns. They've used the mud from the streambed to smear their tunics and their faces brown, fixing ferns to their shoulders and their hair to disguise them while they crouch. Now, they advance with knives in their hands, ready to slit you open (the way you sliced open Emerald and the boy from Three).

"Hello," you say, transforming a grimace of pain into your most winning smile. "Would you mind helping me down?"

The girl rolls her eyes. "It's Finnick," she says. "Finnick Odair."


HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

The New Adventures of Princess Leia and Han Solo
(Robin wants to get a dog again; Barney offers to keep it for her. It's Barney/Robin and adorable puppies ensue. What more do you need?)
“You could get a dog!” Lily said. “One of those little ones, so he wouldn’t mind being in an apartment.”

“No, she can’t!” Ted said. “I don’t want a dog.”

“The dog can live with me,” Barney said.

Everyone stared at him.

“What?” Barney asked. “Robin’s at my place all the time anyway. She’d see the dog more than if he lived at Ted’s."

“I think the part we’re all stuck on is you taking care of another living creature,” Marshall said.

These Things That We've Done
(Several Christmas Eves that Barney and Robin spend together. They are very funny and delightfully non-traditional.)
Her lack of enthusiasm must have dropped low enough to finally register. Stilling, he adjusts his hold on her arm into something more gentle and leans in, all close and intense, his coat smelling of snow and wind and his voice in her ear turning quiet and serious like he's about to share a secret of absolutely epic proportions with her. "Hooker!Lily's going to do a floor show at midnight as Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer with Pete the bouncer as Kris-can-you-see-my-pringle-Kringle."

She freezes. "Canadian Pete?" she asks. "With the bruises?"

Barney nods, his mouth brushing the curve of her ear. "Two black eyes, this year."

She grabs her purse and coat, changing their positions so that she's the one dragging on his arm. "Let's go."


HARK! A VAGRANT

Well This Is Just Weird
(Gay Watson and Stupid Watson go missing, and Holmes and regular Watson go searching for them. I don't want to give away the answer to the "where are they" question, because I think it's best discovered for oneself, but it is so great and so satisfying. I laughed forever.)
Watson sighed and went to another corner of the room. He watched and pouted while Holmes and Action Watson threw people, were thrown, and caused various explosions around the room that somehow hurt no one.

Finally they finished. Holmes, Watson and Action Watson left the building, the former and latter with only a few singe marks in their clothes, a couple bruises and ruffled hair. Watson, however, was hurt emotionally.

“I can't believe you, Holmes,” said Watson. “I can't believe you didn't want me to help you. I am a soldier!”

“But Action Watson and I are more used to this sort of thing,” said Holmes. “I just didn't want you to get hurt.”

Holmes got a strange look in his eyes. He touched Watson's face and sighed. “You look so much like Gay Watson...”

Watson also got a strange look in his eyes. It looked like he would throw up his spine.

A Cunning Plan
(Watson decides that maybe what he needs to do to win Holmes's attention back is to take after Gay Watson, so he calls several other Holmeses in, in order to get advice. Hilarious.)
“Right,” said Watson, “I’ll just–” He ducked back into his office, grabbed the brandy bottle and took a swig, not bothering with the glass. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good plan, after all. He steeled himself and opened the door again.

A tall, younger man leaning against the wall in a long dark coat waved at him casually from across the room. “Hello Watson, this is fun. Sherlock Holmes at your service, and at least I can claim to be the only one not past my use-by date.” The other Holmeses glared at him. Gracious, he was tall, and with much longer hair. Watson craned up at him, mouth gaping. Young Holmes stared back at the other two Sherlocks impassively. “Despite being asexual myself, I at least know what being gay means, which I doubt either of you two do.”


THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE

The Disappearance of Lady Agnes Mousefax
(Dawson's competence and awesome saves the day! I love this.)
Basil burst among the solemn gathering, if you'll excuse the expression, like a cat among pigeons. He seized a shovel from the sexton and placed the blade against the join of coffin and lid, wrenching it open by main force. Inside lay not the small wrinkled body of the old grandmouse we had seen the night before, but the limp form of the missing young lady!

"Is she gone, Dawson? Is there a spark left? Surely we are not too late!"


THE GOLDEN GIRLS

Giants of the Prairie
(This is technically a crossover with Deadwood, but you don't need to be familiar with Deadwood to follow it; I've never seen an episode in my life and had no problems understanding. Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose go on a road trip in 2010. The voices are absolutely perfect and it's heartbreaking -- dealing with loss and the inevitable effects of aging -- in a way that I never would have expected from fic in this fandom.)
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” says the third old lady, Fair Isle-sweatered and bottle-blonde under her fur hat. “It was educational. And you promised. Officers — “ She pushes her way past them. “We went to see the giant pysanky and the giant gopher and the giant wagon wheel and the giant mushroom and the giant badminton racket and the — “

“The Giants of the Prairies,” the tall one mutters, head in one hand. “We get it, Rose.”

“ — Because we’re on the St. Olaf Heritage Trail,” Rose finishes triumphantly.

The customs officers exchange looks, make sure the old ladies aren’t shipping in AK-47s or grenades or lutefisk, and send them on their way without any further questions.


FUTURAMA

The Power of the Coffee-Bringers
(Poor, poor Kif, and his early days as Zapp Brannigan's righthand alien.)
To Kif’s utter disgust it worked out that way. At the end of the day they wound up at the Hip Joint, where Zapp tried every pick-up line he could think of on anything that resembled a female figure in an attempt to win himself a night of attention.

“Haven’t you heard that the thigh’s the limit?” he asked one of them, only to be slapped hard across the face. Zapp held his jaw, rubbing it, staring after the retreating woman. “Tonight,” he said, “the world is our bag of Pop Rocks, Kip.”

“Kif,” he snarled.

The Start of a Beautiful Something
(You know, if someone had told me "you're going to rec Leela/Fry/Bender OT3" several days ago, I would not have believed them. And yet here we are! The voices in this are absolutely spot-on, very funny and very believable. I love it!)
"Bender," said Leela, "is nothing like a puppy."

"No?" said Bender, his voice trembling a little, as he performed an astonishingly good hurt puppy dog expression for someone with square eyeballs and an evil disposition.

"Aww," said Leela, immediately hating herself for it, but unable to stop.


THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR

It's Not Unusual
(Carlton and his first love. I am giggling all over again just reading the excerpt. Carlton's voice is great, and all I can do, as I read the title, is hear that iconic horn line and see Carlton doing the Carlton dance.)
As Carlton Banks grows older, there are certain memories from his childhood that remain treasured and unforgotten.

He smiles fondly when he remembers his first kiss from Madison Keller in fifth grade - when she dropped her pencil under his desk and he politely bent down to pick it up. She joins him under the desk and places a peck on his mouth, catching him by surprise.

And there are other memories that pull at his emotions from childhood - but nothing can replace or replicate that feeling when Carlton first hears that voice on the radio.

His idol.

Tom Jones.


FRASIER + SUPERNATURAL CROSSOVER

Guns 'n' Neuroses
(Oh my God. You can read this with very, very little Supernatural knowledge; I don't even like the show and everything I know about it comes through fannish osmosis from friends, and I love the hell out of this. In which the Crane brothers are basically the Winchester brothers. Just with more psychology, opera, and neuroses. Oh my God it is side-splittingly funny.)
It should be noted, before events get underway, that Hester Crane didn’t die on the ceiling in a cheap white nightgown. Neither Frasier nor Niles would ever have gotten over the humiliation of knowing that she’d willingly worn polyester.


FOXTROT + CALVIN AND HOBBES CROSSOVER

The Roommate of +10 Confusion
(Jason and Calvin [and Hobbes, of course] are college roommates; Jason's carefully ordered nerdery and Calvin's chaos make for less of an odd couple than you might expect, and they get into all sorts of delightful mischief together.)
Rebellious
Calvin seemed particularly proud of this facet of his personality. For example: on Jason's side of the room, the wall above his desk is reserved for science fair ribbons, a recruitment letter from the CIA, and a George Lucas-signed copy of his script for Star Wars VII: Return of the Revenge of Darth Jason. On Calvin's side, it featured cease and desist notices from various Senator's aides, notifications of his forced 'discontinuation' from Cub Scouts and other youth organizations, and a framed copy of his first-grade report card which read, in shaky cursive, “Please, dear God, just pass him. I can't handle him for another year.”

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