Kyra Cullinen, Girls Grow Quicker than Books
A Narnia reflection. Growing up, loss, the implacable unfairness of Lewis's world to girls that I think we all felt, beneath it all, even when we were too young to articulate it. Also interesting, if not quite meriting a separate rec, is her Angel story, Kyrie Eleison, which is too PCRish for my taste, but still effectively deploys a number of interesting details and more intelligent religious consideration than usually makes it into Angel-and-Catholicism stories (or A-and-C episodes, for that matter).
This month's retrorec is a dreamy, creepy look at Phantom Dennis circa S2, with a nice twist at the end. I almost thought they might be going in this direction in S3, before they just went down the toilet. Too bad.
Understated but effective critique of Angel season three. If you've been reading less and less Angel fic because the direction of the show lately has depressed you, you'll want to take a look at this one.
Ann E. Berry, C is for Cordy
Let no one say I'm not open-minded. Giles/Cordelia is a pairing in which I have less than no interest, but this is a slow, sexy, messy story of considerable charm. The narrative voice is sometimes a little shaky and there are occasional small characterization lapses (Giles calling anyone "my lady?" I think not), but, oh rarity of rarity in these sorts of stories, Giles comes across as a mature adult and Cordelia as something intriguingly not quite there yet, but still attractive.
The Spike, Asymptotes
A vivid little post-"Gang" piece about the distances between people. Wesley neither a whiner nor a victim, but rather a man learning some important lessons of life and struggling to do things in a way that will give him a future.
Yes, I've succumbed completely to Wes/Gunn. This story does have an oddly dropped subplot, but it features glasses-play (a personal favorite, and, come on, with Wes/Gunn, it's just about inevitable) and some nice, but not heavy-handed, Wes angst.
Dolores Labouchere, Dances with Groos
Numfar slash. Deeply inevitable and just as deeply wrong. A great summertime goof.
Sheila, The A-less Team
Not a story, but a photomanipulation. I'm not very fond of them in general, but this one is believable enough looking, and, damn, it made me grin and run off to write rather mushy stories set in Angel's absence. It'll probably make you do the same, which is all for the good. What do they need the big galoot for, anyway?
I'm so relieved that Jennifer's finally written a story I can rec. Her work is always technically very strong, but she's somehow managed to keep choosing types of stories (clubbing, futures) that you need to pass a miracle to make me really care for. At last, a story whose form and content grabbed me. Utterly believable, sympathetic, and horrifying Angel POV, utterly bleak and plausible picture of a vampire Cordelia and the consequences of her creation. Frankly, just reading Buffy fic that remembers that vampirism is a horror is a cause for celebration these days, but this one goes straight to the heart of the matter. Merciless.
Pet, My First Love Letter
My favorite from the Dead Letters Home archive. Wesley does what he does best, expressing his love indirectly through attending to the loose ends and small details. (Hmm...a trait common to Watchers?) His pain bleeds through his careful self-effacement and self-deprecation again and again, but it's all done with restraint. Excellent Wesley voice. I'm still of two minds about the ending, though: does Wesley deserve that little triumph, or does it make it all too explicit? You decide...
A hopeful little Wesley/Angel piece, with just a bit of a shadow over the end. Full of the optimism of the end of S1--I'd forgotten how much I missed that period, before Angel went haring off into full-fledged S2 jackassery, and this piece, though slight, evokes it pleasantly. Some nice humor. I hope she gets over the habit of referring to her own stuff as bad in the header, though, because I almost didn't get past that.
I have Wesley/Gunn issues, and I'm not afraid to admit it. They're two incredibly attractive men who are adorable together; their affection for each other is firmly entrenched in canon. So what's the problem with slashing them? Well, that's the problem with slashing them. Stories where the only difficulties the characters have to surmount are personal insecurities and perhaps the odd bit of denial about sexual orientation have a hard time hooking me, no matter how technically strong they are. It's strictly a matter of personal taste. The best way to salvage the W/G pairing for me, then, is to introduce the Angel Problem; that is, that Wesley's feelings about Angel have not always been exactly what one would call healthy. HtH does this brilliantly, pitting Gunn, himself unsure about how far he should go, against Wesley's miserable hopeless crushed love for Angel. Gunn talks himself into rising to the occasion, and it's totally plausible. Very evocative Wesley description and dialogue, and a strong Gunn voice. Maybe the main conceit is a touch overwritten, but it yields some wonderful lines. The story also offers hurt/comfort without the mushiness, which is always hard to do.