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Après moi le deluge (AO3) by Lake
(~15,000 words, slash, Brad Colbert/Nate Fick, rating Teen and Up)
What is it/why read it: This is a post-canon fic for the HBO miniseries Generation Kill that plays with a fandom-favorite trope: soulbonding. All you need to know about canon to enjoy it (at least, I did) is that there's this close-knit bunch of fairly typical U.S. Recon Marine troops who were deployed in Iraq. The soulbonding is handled nicely, and can be read as a metaphor for plain old falling in love, unwilling and unawares, with someone you didn't plan to and reluctantly figuring out if it's reasonable to give into it.
Restraint (AO3) by Dark_Emeralds
(~233,000 words, slash and het, main pairing Jared/Jensen, rating Mature, the first section of the story is also available as a podfic read by FayJay)
What is it/why read it: This is a Supernatural RPF AU set during the Regency and Victorian period (19th century). There are bits of fandom familiar characterization and nods to fanon in it, but the main characters have been renamed, and even without knowing anything about their fandom blueprints, this can be read as a really nice epic, thoughtfully paced romance, novelistic in scope and plotting. It's got Regency-setting slice-of-life, coming-of-age and having a relationship for decades, class issues, friendship and grief and yearning and happiness and having to hide happiness, all tied up in a sweeping love story.
Quarterback Verse (AO3) by Pianoforeplay
(~237,000 words, slash and het, main pairing Jared/Jensen, rating Explicit)
What is it/why read it: Another Supernatural RPF AU, this one set in the world of American Football. First, let me say that my interest in all kinds of sports is extremely low, and my interest in American Football, prior to reading this story, was even lower than that. Despite this slight handicap, I really liked Next Man Up and Hail Mary (the two Big Bang stories in this series) -- pianoforeplay's Supplemental Materials: Football 101, NFL Background, Fic Glossary post was truly helpful. (As the post says, "I honestly did my best to write this fic in such a way that people with the barest knowledge of football and/or people with a total hate-on for it could still understand and enjoy the story. However, I also didn't really want to dumb it down too much as, a.) that's insulting and, b.) I love football and I wanted to relish the opportunity to write about it as honestly as I could. However, I decided a basic explanation of the sport wouldn't go amiss just in case.") In other words, armed with that post you can read and enjoy this story even if you didn't know anything (apart from "big men in odd outfits? funny-shaped ball?") about American Football before; the writer's love for the sport shines through in a way that can make even sports-averse readers like me enjoy the football-related parts of the plot. You can also enjoy the series without knowing the Supernatural RPF fandom, as the story works well -- independent of familiarity with fandom-favorite characterization or relationships -- as a slightly fucked-up love and slow growing-up and admitting to what one really wants story in a bit of a homophobic setting.
Out of Bounds (AO3) by Icarus
(~224,000 words, slash and other background pairings, main pairing John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, rating Explicit)
What is it/why read it: Another sports AU, this one featuring figure skating (and no alien tech), for Stargate Atlantis. Also an enjoyable read despite my normal disinterest in sports. The characterizations of John and Rodney and various supporting characters will ping as familiar to those who know the canon, but the story is very accessible for readers who don't know SGA but would like reading about two somewhat fucked-up, driven, possibly hard to get along with, and sometimes self-destructive guys succeeding -- pretty much despite themselves -- in love and their skating goals.
A Hundred Happy Things (AO3) by Busaikko
(~30,500 words, main (het) pairing Sheppard/McKay, rating Explicit)
What is it/why read it: Stargate Atlantis Earth-based (no alien tech) AU. I love busaikko's stories, as a writer she handles emotions, repression thereof, and confused and conflicting desires (internal or between partners) well. This particular story is one of my favorite transgender stories, and one of my favorite kidfics due to its low saccharine content. Here too, the main characters are rather fucked-up, but they manage to end up together in a satisfying way. Highly readable even for those with no knowledge of or interest in SGA fandom as a somewhat tartly refreshing love and "family is what you make it" story that offers moments of hilarity and doesn't shy away from people's imperfections.
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Endnote: Rec set originally posted at AO3.
These are (again) the juggernaut pairings in their fandoms, because I'm dull that way.
This set includes three fics of more than 200,000 words, which is fairly long for fic. I'm not saying one or two of them couldn't have been shortened a little, but I still found them gripping enough reads that managed to hold my interest strongly enough -- much more so than many a pro romance -- that I'd rec them as entertaining reads.
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