This marks Yuletide number eight for me, and the fourth Misses Clause Challenge I'll be running with martinigrl, my partner in crime. Once again, Yuletide participants are allowed up to six requests (which you'd think would make my selection easier. It really, really hasn't.), so here I am, with this year's ridiculously wordy Ode to an Anonymous Author.
Dear Yuletide Writer,
Welcome! Thanks so much for volunteering to put your time and talents toward a story for one of my favorite fandoms. I hope this letter will provide some insight and ideas without being intimidating — when it all boils down, I love each of the things I've requested here, and will embrace every word I can get.
Yes, please: Character-driven fic (with plot. Or porn. Or plot and porn). :) Found families. Platonic soulmates. Canon divergence. Demonstrating love, not declaring. Magical realism. Verbal sparring (TO THE DEATH). Internal versus external conflict. Symbolism, subtext, and stories that live between the lines. Unique approaches to the narrative (non-linear storytelling, stories that have fun with format and structure, things that play with poetry or re-imagine fairy tales or fuse one universe with another - tell me a story entirely through dreams, or the sliding doors of misunderstandings, or messages in friggin bottles, and I will love you forever). Broken-boy soldiers, magnificent bastards, snarky sidekicks with hearts of gold. Strong women whose strength isn't all (or at all) physical. Certain tried-and-true tropes: amnesia, huddling for warmth, fake relationships (when they both have Feelings!). And good old-fashioned jealousy, when the jealous party is the person who holds the balance of emotional power.
No, thank you: Incest. If you take nothing else away from this section, please take that. Completely non-canon AUs (i.e. of the bookshop, coffeeshop, or college variety). Unabashed fluff of the curtainfic variety - I like a dash of salt with my sugar. Sidelined female characters or marginalized characters of color. Second person (sorry!). Infidelity. Rape as a plot device. PWP. For Yuletide, D/s, BDSM, kinks that end in "play" (and don't start with "fore"). And bananas. Because reasons.
10 Years (2011) | Any (Andre, Anna, Marty, Peter, Sam, Scott, Elise, Reeves)
The Request: What happened then? What happens now?
The Details: Not to overstate my position or anything, but I adore this movie. I tried to narrow my request down to one or two characters, but that proved impossible, since I love each and every one of them. I have such clear ideas of who they all are - I think Sam is the girl who was overweight and invisible and impossibly in love with the school football god, then wondered what she'd gotten herself into once she actually had him, and Peter is the guy who comes to the reunion alone, for closure, or just to make absolutely sure he has no regrets, because he's quietly successful and pretty damn content with his life and thinks it might be a fluke, and Scott is that guy, the guy who was effortlessly popular and liked by everyone and totally deserved it because he's a genuinely good person. But we only got to see this one night, so there's so much there to play with! So pick a person, any person, and tell me their story. (And feel free to run with my random headcanons or ignore them completely.) I want to know whether Anna lived too fast and too loud in high school and came crashing into the reality of college life, or if she simply moved from taking care of her alcoholic mother to taking care of her own kids and never found the time or energy to take care of herself. I want to know if Sam made any changes to life with Cully or made do with the status quo. I want to know why Andre's attempt at love/committment/marriage "didn't take." Do Reeves and Elise have a happily-ever-after? Does Scott really flit happily from unknown to unknown, or is he running from something? Do these people ever meet again (perhaps at their 20th)?
The Fine Print: If you're feeling shippy, I am all aboard the Reeves/Elise train. I love the idea of Anna and Marty becoming close, being friends, and maintaining contact, but I'm not sure that I see them together. And don't feel like you have to tell me the future - if you want to rewind to the high school years, please feel free.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) | Rita Vrataski
The Request: The Angel of Verdun is the hero of her own story.
The Details: I have a huge thing for time travel stories, especially time travel done well. (For me, it's all about the Stable Time Loop.) Edge of Tomorrow put an interesting spin on its Groundhog Day premise by tying the time travel aspect directly to the traveler's blood. Intriguing enough, certainly entertaining enough. But this movie mowed down a repeat request I've asked for two previous Yuletides, and the reason comes down to Rita Vrataski.
"I never approached Rita as a female action character, I just saw her as this lethal powerhouse who was pretty much the toughest person I've come across." ~ Emily Blunt
This, this, all of this. I love that she is a no-nonense, balls-to-the-wall, bonafide soldier. I love all the stereotypical gender roles she subverts, that she's never the one pining or starry-eyed or Blinded By Feelings. I love that she's driven and decisive and all about the cause - quick to determine what's not working (and remedy it by taking a bullet to Cage in the name of staarting fresh). I love that, for all she views Cage as the key to winning the war, he sees her exactly the same way (down to making her the deciding factor in getting J-Squad to help them). I don't love that, despite all of this, despite her prominent screen time, despite her place in this world and the war, she - like Trinity and Fox and so many others before her - is ultimately The Woman Who Teaches The Hero How to Save the World (and also sacrifices herself along the way). So basically, fix it. :) The movie let Rita be a hero and Cage be The Hero, but Rita absolutely deserves that capital H. What if she had finished things, as Cage suggested? What if she got a piece of the Alpha (before, you know, it tore her to pieces), and she also rebooted and remembers everything, just as Cage does? What if Cage had looped first and lost it, and Rita was the one being trained as the world's last hope? Even better, take Cage out of the equation completely! Rita finds and defeats the Omega at Verdun - is never injured, is never transfused. How many lives does she live? How long does she let one life go on before she starts all over again? Does she ever want it to end for good, and does she ever figure out how? Or take a cue from one of my favorite moments in the film. Her reaction to J-Squad uttering "Full Metal Bitch" to her face was priceless. Who coined the nickname, and under what circumstances? Was it a marketing move? A bad pun gone viral? Something her all-male squad labeled her to be demeaning and put her in her place? And more importantly, does she endorse it or endure it? How does she really feel about the label, and being the literal face of the fight for human survival?
The Fine Print: I'm not at all opposed to Rita/Cage, as long as it's in keeping with the "he's completely in love with her, she's completely indifferent" foundation laid in the film itself. I do like the idea that he's gotten to know her and fallen for her and watched her die countless times already, and she's known him for all of five minutes and only kissed him because they were both about to die. If he's the one wrong-footed by this, which that last shot would kind of imply, then by all means, take the ship ball and run with it. (For real though, you can totally pretend like Cage does not exist. I'm really just here for the Rita.)
Fargo (2014) | Molly Solverson, Greta Grimly
The Request: They're both their fathers' daughters. How do they adjust with a mother in the mix?
The Details: Molly and Greta are two peas in a pod, which I think is why both Greta and Gus connected with her so quickly and so easily. They both have incredibly healthy, close relationships with the fathers who raised them, and neither has any relationship to speak of with their respective mothers. And yet, when we fast forward a year past Malvo's death, Molly is heavily pregnant and Greta is already calling her "Mom." So how do Molly and Greta adjust to being mother and daughter? I'd like to think that they played it by ear, since trusting their instincts hasn't failed either of them thus far, but it would be lovely to see the in between. I love how grounded and centered Molly is, how whipsmart and well-adjusted Greta is, and how they both credit their dads for the lives they lead. I love how quickly they're thick-as-theives, and that Greta's the one advocating for Gus to involve Molly in their lives. I love that Gus takes a backseat in the Grimly household, and defers to the ladies his heart belongs to. I love love love that Greta loves Lou. Do they have family dinners at the diner? Does Molly teach Greta how to shoot? Is the new baby a boy, wrongfooting everyone involved? I do love Fargo's dark humor, so if you're more in tune with that side of things... what's the immediate aftermath of Malvo's death, before Molly is a Grimly?
The Fine Print: I love Gus and love Lou, so include them all you want. Mostly, this is my happy family fandom request.
The Leftovers | Jill Garvey, Kevin Garvey, Nora Durst, Aimee
The Request: This is what "family" looks like, after. Be careful what you wish for.
The Details: Ever so often, a show comes out of left field and completely wows me, and The Leftovers is that show at the moment. It is dark and depressing and delicious, the writing is brilliant, the performances are engrossing, and it actually managed to make me like the Teen Wolf twins. There's a very deep character pool to choose from here, but my favorites are these four, together and apart. So, my dear writer, if this is what we matched on, I just have one request: all the fucked-up family unit fic. All of it. After that awful attempt at dinner, and the last few moments of the finale, it simply must happen. I want Kevin trying to play house, and Jill trying to play normal, and Nora trying to play mother to little abandoned soul that's landed in their laps. I want Aimee back in the fold, because she's honest and hilarious and the healthiest of the bunch by far, and was the only thing keeping that household together. I even want the dog. Because clearly, this was Kevin's wish. To have another chance, to be a better man, to put his family back together. And since life (and, well, Wayne) works in mysterious ways, this is the reality. Honestly, I love all the layers and nuances and little touches in this show - the dialogue, the flashbacks, the silences and lingering looks. So if the scenario above isn't your bag, write what you want. Kevin's hallucinations! Jill and Aimee's reunion! Father/daughter bonding! Aimee's super secret home life! Do what works for you.
The Fine Print: I do ship Kevin/Nora. I'm greatly intrigued by Jill and Nora's contentious truce, and their brutal face-to-face honesty. I love Kevin and Aimee's dynamic, that weird balance they have where she's too mature and he's a drunken child and they kind of meet in the middle, where you're not sure if she's flirting with him or just taking care of him. If you ship them and want to go that route, I just ask that you navigate the age difference and power dynamics carefully - I would prefer any Kevin/Aimee to be at her prompting and on her terms.
Scandal (TV) | Any (Abby Whelan, Charlie, Cyrus Beene, Huck, Jake Ballard, Mellie Grant, Olivia Pope, Quinn Perkins, Rowan Pope, Sally Langston)
The Request: Found family fic! Or Gladiators At Work fic. Or women being awesome fic. Or, alternately, whatever story wants to be written.
The Details: Before I go any further, you should know that I requested and received Scandal fic for Yuletide 2012. last year in your garden is a look at Olivia's history with broken things and how she started fixing them, and was exactly what I wanted from a request solely for Olivia Pope. But I love this show insanely, and I am a greedy fangirl. So this year, you choose. My absolute favorite aspect of the show is its incredible lineup of fascinating, flawed, fabulous women. Women who are three-dimensional, who have power and agency and agendas of their own, who have their own stories to tell. Focus on any one (or two, or four) of these women and I will be a happy camper. For more specific ideas, I love the particular dynamic Olivia has with the trio of Jake, Huck, and Papa Pope - how they impact her life, and how they're all connected, and how they're all loyal and desperate and broken as fuck. Jake thought he could fix her by running away, Eli thought he could fix her by killing people, and Huck tried to completely cut her off and then got a job where he literally fixed things for a living. All of them under false names, living fake lives. It's fascinating to me, and I love her relationship with each of them. If there's a way to make them all collide, in a decidedly non-"damsel in distress", non-"marking my territory" way (B613? Holidays at OPA? Joint mission to feed Fitz laxative soup?), I'd love to see it. Maybe things come to a head, with wine. Or guns. Or something ludicrous, like a baby on the doorstep. Maybe Olivia realizes just how much her daddy issues have affected these other two relationships. Maybe Olivia puts her foot down and fixes them, instead. Go nuts. :) But if that's not the story you want to tell, I'm open to just about anything. Show me Abby trying to navigate the White House from the shadow of Olivia Pope. Show me Olivia and Mellie and all the ways they work better without you-know-who, or Abby and Mellie being unexpectedly thick-as-thieves! Show me Quinn watching Huck's family, since he won't do it himself. Show me Cyrus as both Jekyll and Hyde, waging closeted-versus-conservative war with Sally over the years. Show me anything with Mellie, either in all her intelligent, ambitious, morally-grey glory or in this unmoored, uncertain, slighly unhinged period of mourning.
EDIT: In light of the 10/30 episode, it must be said (especially in the context of Mellie) that I looooove Bitsy Cooper. If you're feeling any urge at all to tell the story of the former FLOTUS teaching the current one how to follow in her footsteps (in a vastly different world than the one she ruled while in office), or Bitsy in her prime squaring off with baby!Sally Langston, or Mellie and Bitsy solving a countrywide crisis after smoking that joint in her purse, please feel free.
The Fine Print: Here's the "just about" — please don't show me Fitz. I adore Tony Goldwyn. I have since the first time I saw Kuffs. But I am not a Fitz fan at all, and think his relationship with Olivia is unhealthy, destructive, and often abusive. He may come up in the course of the proceedings, and that's perfectly fine, but I'd rather it wasn't in the context of shipping him with Olivia. I am totally on board, however, with Olivia/Jake, and Olivia/Mellie, Abby/David, Cyrus/James, Abby/Mellie, and dysfunctional Quinn/Charlie are A-okay with me.
Sleepy Hollow (TV) | Abbie Mills, Ichabod Crane
The Request: Ichabod Crane isn't colorblind, he just hasn't had a reason to reveal his research. Yet.
The Details: Sleepy Hollow is my happy place. The combination of its character dynamics, clever revisionist history, and race and gender diversity all add up to WIN, for me. The show has done a lot of incredibly creative things to lampshade the fact that the world has changed a great deal since Ichabod's heyday, playing up the Man Out of Time angle without being heavy handed or trite. I love that that's true not just of the little things (taxes, plastic, performing "the logging ceremony") but also significant subjects (case in point: the homosexual hat exchange). The light tone and acceptance/interplay of Ichabod's ignorance and other characters' assumptions is one of the things I love the most about this show, and one that I never get tired of seeing in fic. In the pilot, when Abbie and Ichabod first meet, he makes an offhanded comment about emancipation, and the subject hasn't really been broached again. But we know that Ichabod is a man who craves knowledge for the sake of knowledge, has a seemingly endless capacity for historical minutia, and is prone to popping up with random factoids exactly when they're needed. And I refuse to believe that Ichabod works side by side with (and deeply cares for) a black female police lieutenant, has essentially worked for a black male police chief, and presumably has free access to the internet, but has not researched black history in this country in the years he was "dead." So what I'd love to see is some more in-character interplay of Ichabod and Abbie that sheds some light on his knowledge of how and why things have changed in Black America in the past century and a half, and maybe even reveals any insight he has on how they haven't changed. Maybe they have a case that involves an undiscovered offshoot of the Underground Railroad. Maybe he perceives some sort of racial profiling in a local shop, which turns out to be a grudge on the part of someone Abbie arrested once. If trying to tackle something like that is giving you hives, never fear! I will gleefully accept Abbie and Ichabod bantering and being partners, either platonically or romantically. Main arc! Monsters of the week! Movie night! Sister fic! (Admittedly, I would love to see Ichabod struggle through 1776 or something else he would find similarly inaccurate and unbearable, when he's really just there for the popcorn.) And we've seen him take so much in stride - what would it take to tip him over the edge, into full-on twenty-first century overload? Blacklight laser tag? Rocky Horror singalong? Tumblr?
The Fine Print: I'm not asking for issuefic, and I would rather not read Racism 101, Serious Discussions of Privilege, or anything where Abbie feels the need to diffuse, excuse, or apologize. I realize it's a thin line to straddle, with the prompt I've put forward, so please don't stress if it's not something you want to take on. Pick something else, and have fun. Preference-wise, you can never go wrong placing the focus firmly on Abbie, I do ship Ichabod/Abbie, and I'm a big fan of Frank Irving and Jenny Mills (and sometimes Irving and Jenny together!). Mostly I just love this show, and Abbie (all the Abbie), and Ichabod and Abbie together.
And that's all, folks! I'm so looking forward to Yuletide this year, and greatly look forward to reading whatever you decide to write.