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Big Bang/Exchange Fic Discussion #3
Otter wearing a Samulet
spnanonhaven
Post your threads for Big Bangs and exchange fics here.

Format like so:


SUBJECT: Title [Pairing, Rating] by AUTHOR
CONTENT: Art by whoever

http://url of the master post on the BB comm.


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SPNJ2BB: It's still the road that never ends [Sam/Dean, NC-17] by LATENTFUNCTION

(Anonymous)
Art by doctorkara

http://spn-j2-bigbang.livejournal.com/271831.html

Word Count: 23,000

Summary: Sam and Dean picked a direction after the events of Provenance and stumbled into a job, but the work wasn't enough to distract Sam from his brother.
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Re: SPNJ2BB: It's still the road that never ends [Sam/Dean, NC-17] by LATENTFUNCTION

(Anonymous)
also at: http://archiveofourown.org/works/228924
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SPNJ2BB: Humanity is a State of Heart (Sam/Dean, NC-17) wincest_whore

(Anonymous)
Art by skyekye

~34K words

Sam and Dean are hunting a coven who are seemingly casting spells on people whom they hold grudges against to make them pay with their lives. Once they find and kill most of the coven, it being the only way to stop these power hungry witches, Sam and Dean are prepared to leave and call it a good day's work. But there's one more who comes out of nowhere, tossing Sam across the room and nearly killing Dean. Luckily, Dean gets a good hit in and manages to kill her before she can off him. However, before she dies, she casts a spell on Dean. One that will turn him into one of the very things he hunts, leaving Sam to make the decision as to whether or not to kill his brother, or leave him alone to be a threat to all of the unsuspecting victims he may come upon.
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Re: SPNJ2BB: Humanity is a State of Heart (Sam/Dean, NC-17) wincest_whore

(Anonymous)
I checked this and found bottom!Sam in the part I checked (didn't check the whole thing to look for switching), and the spell on Dean + warning for non-con make me very worried that this is rapist!Dean.

D: y/n rapist!dean?
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Re: SPNJ2BB: It's still the road that never ends [Sam/Dean, NC-17] by LATENTFUNCTION

(Anonymous)
nc-17 is grinding, no top/bottom
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SPNJ2BB: Humanity is a State of Heart [Sam/Dean NC-17] by wincest_whore and angeblond

(Anonymous)
http://spn-j2-bigbang.livejournal.com/271932.html

skyekye

Word count: 34,699 words

Summary: Sam and Dean are hunting a coven who are seemingly casting spells on people whom they hold grudges against to make them pay with their lives. Once they find and kill most of the coven, it being the only way to stop these power hungry witches, Sam and Dean are prepared to leave and call it a good day's work. But there's one more who comes out of nowhere, tossing Sam across the room and nearly killing Dean. Luckily, Dean gets a good hit in and manages to kill her before she can off him. However, before she dies, she casts a spell on Dean. One that will turn him into one of the very things he hunts, leaving Sam to make the decision as to whether or not to kill his brother, or leave him alone to be a threat to all of the unsuspecting victims he may come upon.


*taps mike...is this on?*
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SPNJ2BB: Talking Through a Different Face [J2, NC-17] by tebtosca

(Anonymous)
http://spn-j2-bigbang.livejournal.com/272155.html

reliand

word count 34,000

other pairings: Misha/Gen, Chris/Danneel, past Jared/Sandy

Summary: When single dad Jared Padalecki is recruited under desperate circumstances to become the “normal” face of a house full of misfits (including a vampire, a voodoo priestess, a man who has modified his body to look like a jungle cat, and an all-too-naked Misha Collins) he unwittingly enters a world where magic exists. He thinks his greatest problem is figuring out his surprising attraction to Jensen “Totally Not a Warlock” Ackles, but when his suddenly super-powered six-year-old daughter goes missing, he needs to learn to trust his newfound family to get her back before anyone else is harmed.
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SPNJ2BB: Secrets Kept/Secrets Told [J2, NC-17] by surevesta

(Anonymous)
Artist: bumerbmw

http://spn-j2-bigbang.livejournal.com/272405.html

Wordcount: ~26,000

Additional pairings: Christian Kane/Steve Carlson, Elisabeth Harnois/Danneel Harris

Summary: [AU, Bonded!Boys, sequel to The Word of Us] Secrets wear on you all the time, slowly building stress until eventually something has to break. Jared and Jensen live in a world where their entire relationship is considered impossible--members of the same sex don't mate with each other according to the Church and the government--and they hide in plain sight. Working within the underground community of same-sex pairs, Jared comes up with an idea and presents it to a friend who decides to roll with it . . .
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Re: SPNJ2BB: Secrets Kept/Secrets Told [J2, NC-17] by surevesta

(Anonymous)
In case of LJ outage (and, okay, this comm happening to be loading and spn_j2_bigbang or the author's not):

"Secrets Kept/Secrets Told" on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/works/229217

Previous story, "The Word of Us," on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/works/185381

Series page for both stories on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/series/7963

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Re: SPNJ2BB: Talking Through a Different Face [J2, NC-17] by tebtosca

(Anonymous)
On AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/works/229144
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Re: SPNJ2BB: Secrets Kept/Secrets Told [J2, NC-17] by surevesta

(Anonymous)
Disappointing.

Oh, I feel like such a harsh critical nonnie (though overall it looks like I am a faintpraise!nonnie) but, well, I am disappoint.

This is a sequel to a BB from last year, "The Word Of Us" (http://archiveofourown.org/works/185381), which I enjoyed quite a bit.

In this installment, the writer attempts to expand out to a larger, more world-encompassing -- or at least wider-plot -- view, as distinguished from the very close focus on the Js' relationship and how they dealt with it in the first installment. Alas, the attempt is unsuccessful.

tl;dr version follows -- SPOILERS for both fics!

The trope: soulbonding/genetically determined mating, instant-recognition mating, horrible-consequences-when-separated-from-mate, that kind of thing, society. Bonus: severe homophobia.

The author paid a lot of attention to the worldbuilding and secondary characters in the first installment, made that world homophobic in a way that even if it didn't have perfect continuity felt very credible while reading, and there was good emotional payoff in the Js accepting that they were something they thought didn't exist, learning how to deal with it, discovering there were more anomalies like them out there -- maybe quite a lot of them -- dealing with their family members' ignorance or discovery, and trying to figure out how to build a life together when officially they couldn't be "together" together.

Last year's installment wasn't perfect (and could have used another going over for some SPAG and tense issues), but it was very enjoyable compared to this one.

For one thing, this year's Secrets Kept/Secrets Told, which I read on AO3, desperately needs another proofing round. Missing ends of sentences and paragraphs, a lot more typos and SPAG issues than the previous installment, etc. But that's superficial.

What bothered me more was that the story felt much less cared-for than the first one, and that it was... hollow, emotionally.

The writer apologizes for the lack of porn, and it's true, it feels like for 3/4 of the story either Jensen or Jared is telling the other he's too tired or not in the mood for sex. But there are non-gen BB stories I've enjoyed that didn't have much more sex in them; however in those, there were other kinds of satisfying intimacy. It felt as though for a lot of this story, the Js were emotionally not as into in each other as they were in the first part. When as a reader I was told they were still deeply caring and in love, it was because I was told, rarely because it was shown. It felt as if not just the Js, but also the author was ineffectively battling that "honey, I've got a headache" feeling throughout most of the fic.

tbc
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Re: SPNJ2BB: Secrets Kept/Secrets Told [J2, NC-17] by surevesta

(Anonymous)
sa

The other thing that didn't work for me in this fic is the underlying theme: the focus on the AU world's homophobia and its (anvil-like) overthrow.

Okay, the guys got together in the first part, happy ending was being actively worked on throughout, and in a flashforward (to a scene that gets more play in this installment) it was shown that happy endings in general for all same-sex couples were becoming reality. So maybe it was hard to come up with a way to infuse renewed narrative tension into a romance that felt resolved. (I'm sorry the writer didn't consider alternatives such as external tension device classics "grave illness! how will they hide or justify their bond!" or "the government/church finds out and takes one of them away! how will the daring rescue be achieved!" or "someone really bad finds out! how will they blackmail that person into silence!" etc.)

Anyhow, what the author went for was to detail the entire "how same-sex couples came to be accepted" process, and to focus on a lot of the homophobia in the world the writer had built. Which the way it was done, was not enough plot to sustain 26,000 words.

So the Js have a headache for most of the fic. They still work and socialize with the CW and RPF characters introduced in the first fic. Jensen's a physical therapist, and Jared's in PR -- or legal? it's very vague but one of those two -- at the secretly same-sex-supporting lifestyle services major national firm of Nimoy & Shatner. Which includes both legal and PR departments/sub-agencies -- but, hey, it's an AU!

(A quibble: I liked the firm being called Nimoy & Shatner in The Word Of Us, thought it was cute and funny. But having the CEOs retire and having the new CEOs be Quinto and Pine? Sorry, no. Wanting to keep male Star Trek RPF characters as the CEOs should have taken a backseat to the lack of credibility given the actors' ages. Especially as they're not that much older than the Js. If the writer was going to go with a set of actors who played a much-slashed couple, why not new CEOs Bean & Mortenson, or Gross & Rennie? Or, using femslashed characters, maybe even harking back to Star Trek by using Mulgrew and Ryan? Since Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor were unavailable for use as they'd already made a diffent cameo in the first installment.)

But, back to Secrets Kept/Secrets Told.

There's an attempt to show more problems and concerns with the bondmating through the very one-dimensional device of (OFC?) Lindsay, Chris/Steve's beard and secondary non-bond-mated but sexual and romantic partner, whose actual bond-mate is schizophrenic. Which even though he's far away, makes her flip out through the bond. There's some random homophobia from a friend's new mate, but most of the Js relatives' are surprisingly accepting when they find out, with one exception....

(Side-note: all of Jensen's immediate family learned about the Js' same-sex bond at the end of the first installment and were "hey, no problem!" about it. Jared's siblings had also learned about it earlier in the first part and were supportive.)

The exception is Jared's mother -- who pretty much functions as the villain, or rather the stand-in for the villain, the homophobic Church and government. She's shown throughout the first fic and until almost the very very end of the second as extremely, overbearingly focused on Jared finding and mating with a nice girl, and very religious and homophobic.

In this installment Jared's dad is apparently his mom's doormat go-along-to-get-along spouse and is actually surprise!not-homophobic. Because he used to be in the army. Jared's mom is screechy and overbearing -- a major source of tension (actual tension in the first fic, tension only in comparison to the lack of sexual tension in this one) in both installments are her constant efforts to get Jared hitched to a suitable girl and dismissal of Jensen even as supposedly just Jared's friend.

tbc
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Re: SPNJ2BB: Secrets Kept/Secrets Told [J2, NC-17] by surevesta

(Anonymous)
sa

However, when the grand same-sex coming-out across the country (previewed in The Word Of Us, the theme of Secrets) happens, Jared's mom almost immediately does a 180-degree reversal and stops focusing on the church teachings she's believed in all her life and starts asking about how the Js are planning to get her (additional, Jared's brother is already providing) grandbabies.

Um, oh-so suddenly the villain stand-in shows a sweet marshmallow center? Without fear or reproach? No, that did not feel credible, and frankly, like a let-down. And was one of the things that made this installment feel like an issuefic-gone-wrong.

To compare and contrast, a different SPNJ2BB story from last year, "Ours Is A Reciprocal Gravitation Orbit" (http://archiveofourown.org/works/135294) also dealt with the Js discovering an unusual psychic bond and dealing with homophobia from family members.

"Orbit" won't be getting a sequel in this year's Big Bang (though one is promised for later), but the writer posted another fic in the verse a few months ago in which the focus (pretty much the sole focus) is Jensen's father's homophobia and lack of acceptance of his son's life and sexuality.

The new installment in the Orbit series is kind of anvillicious too -- an OC friend of Jensen's father 'splains the problems with homophobia to him over lunch -- but it feels quite a lot more satisfying than "Secrets." The process of discovery and nascent change and confrontation with beliefs on the part of the homophobic parent is shown, closely -- not barely shown, or merely told. (Btw, both stories in the Orbit series: recced. The first one's long and a little self-indulgent -- its trope isn't "bond-mate pair society" but "imaginary friend turns out to be real" -- but it's enjoyably done with a lot of sweet and hot gracenotes.)

But back again to "Secrets" and a last thing that bugged me about this installment:

Speciallest snowflake syndrome.

One thing I liked about The Word Of Us was that the Js got to find out that they were uncommon, but in fact not that unusual -- turned out there were a whole lot of same-sex mates creeping around under the radar.

By making Jared not just one helper bee and supporter of the great reveal (or same-sex nationwide coming-out that was flashforwarded at the end of The Word Of Us) but The Original Instigator of it -- though it became a Nimoy&Shatner-wide, and thus influential-people-all-over-wide project -- it felt like the writer was indecisively back-and-forthing on how superspecial the Js as a couple were supposed to be.

On one hand Jared didn't seem to get special credit for it and wanted to take the day of the reveal off, but on the other hand he also didn't internally didn't spend a lot of time thinking about how he'd been able to set it the project in motion or gotten buy-in or any of that. Nor had the reasons why Jared would have charisma or pull enough within the company to have his project get support been sufficiently established in either installment.

So, out of nowhere we're supposed to believe Jared is just that special, and then he (and the firm) kind of forget about it and it trails off into wishy-washiness. To be credible, this part of the story should have been fleshed out. Or better yet (for my taste), the notion that it was Jared's idea should have been dumped after the first draft. Jared being an eager helper on it if someone with a clearer established-throughout-the-series -- or even just this story -- activist personality had said "now is the time!" that I could have bought.

He wasn't consistently characterized as a Reluctant Hero, or an Unheroic Hero, but was initially, fumblingly set up as Hero (for the reveal) and then that trailed off into nothingness. I'm quite fond of stories featuring Reluctant Heroes and Unheroic Heroes -- and Anti-Heroes! -- but the characterization as such needs to be fleshed out and have an arc. And Jared's wasn't. He's just the hero of his own life, making a life and being in love with Jensen, and dealing with their family and society; that's what I feel the story should have stayed more tightly focused on.

tbc
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Re: SPNJ2BB: Secrets Kept/Secrets Told [J2, NC-17] by surevesta

(Anonymous)
I have to agree with the others that this sequel was a disappointment. I really wanted to love this story--especially with how much I enjoyed last year's--but I just didn't. The typos and SPAG errors were sloppy. A simple readthrough could have corrected a good amount of those, and that really snagged me up. I agree that the story was a bit emotionless. The supposed deep affection between J&J was something the author kept telling us was there, but it was never shown. Apologizing for lack of porn doesn't make up for that; vivid sex scenes aren't the only way to show that characters are in love. I also felt that the climax of the story was pretty much a blink-and-you-miss-it moment.

(Also, I was peeved that it wasn't a standalone. I read The World of Us and still found myself stumbling to remember how it left off, so I doubt anyone could have picked it up without reading last year's story first.)
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Re: SPNJ2BB: Secrets Kept/Secrets Told [J2, NC-17] by surevesta

(Anonymous)
sa (last tiny bit)

But. The writer indicated there's another part to come.

And I hope that third part will be more enjoyable again and offer more of the kind of characterization and more closely focused plot that I liked about the first installment. (Or more successfully go in a completely different direction.) So that this part just feels like a slight misstep in an otherwise entertaining psychic soulful matingbond 'verse.
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