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- Final Fantasy VII/Final Fantasy VIII - Bandages by Konitsu - It is difficult to explain my affection for this story without resorting to squeaking noises because it was so good. It was one of those all-rounder stories that just... damn, did it hit all the right buttons. Sparkling characterization, lovely writing, genuinely funny humor, plot, gorgeous Sephiroth machinations, gorgeous Cloud angst, brilliant weaving of the two worlds together, and more. Everything about this story makes me burble happily, I don't know if I could pick out any one thing. But I'll try, of course. For starters, the characterization. Oh, god, the characterization. I could actually see and hear these characters, they have all the little touches that make them who they are and yet not devolving into stereotypes--Cloud is angsty and tortured, but he has damned good reason and he's a resilient little bastard. Zack's voice in his head is just absolutely, utterly gorgeous, you can feel his character, his charm and charisma and caring, coming through just in the dialogue. The dynamic between Cloud and Zack is just... awesome. *squees* Sephiroth is actually properly creepy and insane, but still that something to him when dealing with Cloud. And. Oh. God. Vincent. Cid and Vincent and the brilliant subtlty and hints and dialogue and interaction and dynamic and it's just so breathtakingly good.

Then there's the FFVIII side of things and, holy shit, did this story give me an insane love of Zell Dincht. He's bright and funny and adorable and just a bit of a dork, but still such a good fighter, a good friend, and smart and chapter seven (I think it was seven?) had me laughing so hard, I couldn't read for awhile, I just had to turn my face away and cackle. I love him so, so much. And, oh, god, somehow the fic manages to make Squall interesting, even being all broody and shit as he is, he's actually a person, a rather likable one at that, the author does a brilliant job of writing his character, of how he feels about Rinoa, about his Garden, about his life and making the character work. How she plays him off Cloud, how they clash and the interaction is so natural, it's breath-taking. She also makes Rinoa work, giving me even more fondness for the character, not making the Squall/Rinoa relationship perfect, but still very genuine. She even makes Seifer interesting and, god, did I love the interaction with Tifa, who is another brilliantly herself, kind and caring and feeling guilty or angry or happy. I admit, I was a little wary of Tifa-bashing towards the beginning, but the later chapters with her are lovely, so I'm not quibbling. <3

Then you add in that there's actually a plot going on, that the romantic tangles actually tend to work together with the plot or take a back seat to it and the crossover just... it works so well, I can see it so easily, the characters fit together so seamlessly. Now, I admit, the writing started off with just a hint of stiffness, but the only reason I even notice is because the later chapters are so sharp and every chapter just keeps getting better and better. I was literally kicking my feet in excitement by the end of chapter eight and then the end of chapter nine and, god, if I have one complaint about this story, it's that I don't have the next chapter yet! *chews on the furniture in anticipation* Okay, I can forgive a lot from the FF7 fandom now that I have shiny crossover fic. *___* Loved this one. (Sephiroth/Cloud, Squall/Rinoa, some Cid/Vincent, hints of other pairings here and there, none of them are entirely the point of the fic.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Xehorista Tora by asprosdrakos - You know, in a lot of ways, I wonder who the hell I am to be disbelieving of characterization of a series that I'm not as familiar with as I would like to be, but... there are moments in this story where the characterization sort of falls flat for me, where it's just too easy or too flippant/sarcastic in situations where I didn't think the characters necessarily would be, especially Sephiroth. (To be fair, however, there are equally as many moments where I really, really liked the way Sephiroth's character was written, that the whole is very strong, that it's only little details along the edges that I quibble with. Which are not the hard parts, so my criticism is less harsh than it sounds, honest! The whole thing smooths out the further you get into the story, I think.) The writing of the early chapters also is a little rough around the edges, there's a lot of telling over showing, and there's generally a lot of confusion that went above and beyond what was supposed to be there, especially with the way you're dropped into the story without any explanation of where Cloud is or how he got there or what's going on. Now. I mention these things because I want to give a clear picture of what I thought of this story (and because, god knows, I have trouble staying quiet about these things), but I also want to point out that I felt this story should be read and that there's more here that I thought was done well than I quibbled over.

For one thing, there's actual plot and it's important and not just a flimsy excuse to get the characters together and, as the story progresses, there are actual battle scenes and they're important and actually a focus of the fic. One of the things I'm enjoying most about the story is what's going on, how the time-displaced characters deal with the situations they're unknowingly getting themselves into, of seeing just how this is going to affect the timestream as a whole. The other thing is that I'm really quite impressed with the way the relationship between Sephiroth and Cloud is being handled, the way the current!Cloud doesn't just reverted to the way he was in the days of ShinRa, doesn't forget all the pieces of Zack's personality/exploits he used as a shield for so many years. The way there's enough tension between them that you could cut it with a knife, the way there's something very important and weighted hanging there without the author having to comment directly on it too much.

I mean, it's over 200k into the story and they're not even close to sharing so much as a kiss, for all the story gives off hints, it may never happen, instead staying as just an undercurrent running beneath the rest of the story. It's going slow and taking its time and actually making something more believable out of the relationship for it. ♥ One of the other things that I really liked is the way Cloud's residual horror at what Hojo did to him, the way it still haunts him, the way it crops up now and again, it was very... effective, I guess. I hurt for the character in the way I was supposed to. Oh! Oh! And towards the beginning! Zack and Aerith interaction is SO CUTE, totally OTP'ing them lately, yes, I am.

One more thing is that the story unfolds much like the game itself, you get dropped into the middle of it, you learn bits and pieces completely out of order, you have to struggle to piece everything together and, even then, you don't know if what you've learned is true. That's something I really appreciate, that the fic has the same sense of the game. Now, granted, the story kind of leaves off in a horrible place, it's not yet finished (but it was updated recently!), but it's such a strong story so far that I recommend reading it anyway. Plus, man, Yuffie totally rules in this fic. And Reno amuses the hell out of me. And the Zack/Aerith is so cute. And I mentioned the wibble-inducing Sephiroth/Cloud, right? Okay, good. (Some Sephiroth/Cloud, some Zack/Aerith, neither are the entire point of the fic, really.)

- Final Fantasy VII - The Way To Babylon by Thorne Scratch - After all the Sephiroth/Cloud fic I've been reading lately, I've also been wanting to read a little Cloud/Tifa interaction, even if it's not really romantic. This story was sort of perfect for that because it hit exactly how I see them so much of the time, there's something painful in just looking and Cloud and Tifa is such a gorgeous character to feel for him, to love her friend, to wish she could help, but not pushing too hard. I love this fic because I could feel it, physically and emotionally, I could just see them both at the train station, could just see that distant look on Cloud's face, the hitch in Tifa's chest as she tries to keep him from drifting away, tries to always find him again, and it's gorgeously written because it makes me hurt for the characters all over again. (A little one-sided Cloud/Tifa, but it could be gen, too.)

- Final Fantasy VII - reverse psychology by volly - There are a couple of reasons I wanted to rec this--aside from that it hits that button I have for Zack love, because he's just so... awww, Zack! The dialogue is good, the writing is solid, and Cloud's characterization is actually rather refreshing, he's still a grunt, he's a bit of a brat, but he's not acting like he's a shy twelve-year-old with no spine around the big boys. But he's not perfect or super-special, either, there's a good balance. There's a real sparkle to the interaction with Zack as well and the use of the theme was one of the better ones I've seen recently and I promptly burst out laughing at the end of the fic. That was what completely won me over. ♥ (No real warnings/pairings. You could probably read Cloud/Tifa or Zack/Cloud into the fic if you wanted, but it's closer to gen.)

- Final Fantasy VII - bad luck by lil_neko - This is another fic that's short enough I should probably stick it with the other 'drabbles', but I'll rec it here instead because the writing is just so damned sharp and beautiful that I fell in love with it. The characterization of Cloud, the way he's just a hint of bitter, the way he's still so worn around the edges, but there's still a core of something, despite all the pain in his life... it's brilliant. It's the kind that makes me feel like I've had the air drawn out of my lungs for all that it's such a short piece. And, oh, god, the imagery is just beautiful in that raw, dull sort of way. Gorgeous writing here. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Spike, Hedgehog's Dilemma, Sparkles by ChibiRisu-chan - You know how every once in awhile I have those fics where I mention that I sat still through the whole thing, didn't get up to check my mail or fidget around the room or anything, 'cause normally I have a horrible attention span and only really engrossing fics can get me to sit still for 50k+? Yeah, this was one of them. As with the other fics that ChibiRisu-chan wrote, there's this really lovely balance between the bittersweet and the so-funny-I-nearly-stuffed-my-fist-in-my-mouth-to-keep-from-laughing-too-hard. The characterizations are beautiful, Zack is irreverant and teasing and just so much fun, but he has his serious moments. Cloud is young and naive in so many ways and idolizes Sephiroth, but he has that core of determination and backbone that you see emerging again in later years. (This fic really, really made me love Cloud.) Sephiroth is reserved, serious, distant, and brilliant, but also just barely discovering what it means to be human and to have people that are important/likable to him.

The fic manages to balance so many things together, the shifting moods and the deeper point underneath all the hilarious teasing and silly nicknames. (Which are actually funny! So few fics could make me take the nickname General Sparkles and not want to click the back button as furiously as I could. Here, it actually worked the way it was supposed to!) The mood can be bittersweet one moment, almost painful the next, and then I'll be right back to laughing so hard I was practically crying, all with a beautiful, fluid grace to the writing. It's not jarring going from one mood to the next, the whole thing has this lovely flow to it--it's basically one really long scene and you know what? It doesn't feel padded or unnecessarily stretched out, it feels like it was the exact right length.

And, okay, yes, there are a lot of things to like about this fic. The way Zack slowly pulls both Sephiroth and Cloud into something like a friendship, the way you can see so many moments of brilliant characterization. A million other things. But, really, the reason you're going to click on the link and read is because it's hilarious. Because Zack being Zack around a campfire on a quiet night is too funny to be missed. Because Zack teasing both Cloud and Sephiroth and you can't decide if you want to smack him or hug him, but he always makes you want to laugh and you love him a little bit more? Totally worth the ride right there. I adored this. (Hints of Sephiroth/Cloud, Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud if you squint. But it could also be read as gen, there's no hard romance here.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Mistletiptoe by ChibiRisu-chan - Everything I said last time about the author's FFVII fic, about her characterization of Zack, the lovely way she makes Sephiroth the straight man of their little comedic trio without making him too much of a walking cliche, the way he actually is a three-dimensional character instead of a walking scowl-and-headache for Zack's amusement. The same thing is true of Zack, actually, that he's not a walking stereotype, instead he has his very... um... loud.. personality, but there's a real person underneath it. And Cloud continues to be cute and small and squawk-ish but with a real backbone when he needs it. Zack dragging Cloud along as they bring a holiday party to Sephiroth could have been so cliche, but instead it wound up being exactly what the author was going for, the way the three of them developed this fabulous relationship, the way Sephiroth grew a little more human bit by bit because of these two, the way Cloud has two of his most important people here even while they're making him embarassed or feeling like an idiot, the way you can just feel how much Zack loves them both. Each one of them is a wonderful character, the kind I want to revel in forever... especially when Zack's bringing presents and there are a million little details or ways he'll tease Cloud and Sephiroth. I just... I love all of this, every side of the triangle, right down to the way Sephiroth and Zack are friends. *happy sigh* This is totally why I fell for this fandom. (Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud, but it's more gen than romantic.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Elevator Hell by MidnightRaven13 - The writing of this fic could definitely use polishing up, it needs to be gone over with a fine comb, but I don't want to give the impression that I'm only back-handedly complimenting the fic. Because the humor of the Turks being stuck in an elevator could have been flat, unfunny, or insipid, but the author actually got several laughs out of me. The out-loud kind and everything. There's something about the pacing of the story, the cute little quirks of the characters, the whole team dynamic between Reno, Rude, Tseng, and Elena, the little background details that just works. It helps that it's mostly dialogue, which is written just fine, and the characterizations are rather cliche at times, but they too work because there's a certain something the author has with them. Because you do have to feel for Tseng even as you're laughing, because Reno is a loveable spaz, because Rude is so straight-forward, because Elena is so high-strung, even if some of the characterization goes into parody territory, especially with Rufus at the end or Tseng's reaction throughout. But you can set that aside because it's humorfic and accomplishes what it sets out to do. And I mentioned the genuine laughter, right? Okay. XD (Hinted one-sided pairings, but I'm going to count this as gen.)

- Final Fantasy VII - White by Branch - Ooh, I liked this. The comparison between Rufus and his father, as told by Reno to Cloud and Tifa... it's one of those things that could have fallen flat or could have been stretched out too far, but in this short little piece, it worked well. Reno's view of his boss shone through his words, the Turks' loyalty to Rufus reflected in the way they see him, the way Rufus is... not his father, but not a nice man, either. It's the kind of subtle take on the characters, especially Rufus and the Turks, that I keep looking for in fandom. (No warnings/pairings, not really.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Mistletiptoe by ChibiRisu-chan - [Note: This is part four in a series of fics, click on the tags to find the other entries in the comm.] You know what I keep saying about this author and her FFVII fics? The way I can sit down and read 60k of fic before I've even noticed it in a time when I can barely get through 30k of other fics? Still true. *sigh* I'm beginning to suspect it's not so much my attention span as the fics I'm usually clicking onto these days. Anyway. This fic actually starts moving more towards romantic relationships between the three characters, but still with the same sparkle and charm that was in the previous fics--it's the way Zack cares so much about Sephiroth and Cloud, even as he's teasing the hell out of them, that really gets to me. Because they care about him in return, even when he's teasing them mercilessly or embarassing the hell out of them, because that's the most precious thing to him in the world, that he's making them a little bit more human or that he's making them a little less fragile. I love that the fic can swing back and forth betwee serious moments that make my heart ache and antics that make me burst out laughing, I love that everything Zack does, even when he's being nice, it's all done in that teasing way. I love that the magic between the three characters that's so necessary for a story like this is there and in full force, I love that the characterization and writing actually work in the way the author intends. I love that the characterization of all the characters are actually subtle, that Sephiroth is human under the reserved, cool exterior, that Zack may be flighty, but he comes through when needed, that Cloud is easily embarassed and shy, but he stands up when he needs to. I love that I can get incredibly wibbly over the exchanging of presents and everything is just so damned perfect about it. I love that I set aside my usual reservations about threesomes (I'm still not sure if this is heading for actual threesomeness, Sephiroth/Cloud, or if it's gen with slight yaoi overtones) and don't feel a bit guilty because every aspect of the relationship is balanced. ♥ (Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud, possibly SxC, possible gen with yaoi overtones.)

- Final Fantasy VII - A Shinra Staff Memo by Meg - ....huh. How did I miss this one? It wasn't posted that long ago either. Clearly, LJ is hiding posts from me or something. Anyway. Meg + ShinRa + Reno + Christmas = HEE HEE. It's such a clever little fic, the format of it is great, and all the little touches and references constantly made me laugh and try to force myself not to go into giggle fits. I really could quote any single one of these (the last one is somehow my favorite, though), but if I tried to put in all of what made me laugh, I'd just be c&p'ing the whole damn thing. I can't even write a coherent rec about it, that's how giggle-worthy and must-read it is. XD ( "Reno" a warning?)

- Final Fantasy VII - Wark With Me, Kid by ChibiRisu-chan - I admit, the first several pages of this fic felt almost slow to me... but, then, I'm very much the Sephiroth fangirl and it's hard to get my attention with other characters. Well, except for Zack. God knows I love Zack. I did wonder if the fic was going to feel too fluffy at first, but somewhere around a third of the way in, the author's usual sense of humor kicked in and it was all about the little things that made me laugh or just feel all warm and fluffy on the inside, in a good way. The author makes good use of chocobos and the jokes about how Cloud's head looks like one, but without ramming it too far into the ground, the scenarios set up aren't just one-note jokes, instead they're the kind of things that could be referenced later. The kind that are referred to with the word "Incident" tacked onto the end, ie, the Chocobo Preening Incident. The situation here is funny enough to warrant that I think. ....which is a long-winded way of me saying that it was funny and "big" enough to warrant the reaction it was trying to get. Plus, omg, yes, I still love the interaction between the characters, I love the author's take on Sephiroth especially. I love the way she strikes that balance between a deadly, lethal, reserved fighter and someone who cares about the people important to him and his chocobo. (Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud, but it could be gen, too.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Where Seduction Serves by Branch - A what-if story. What if Sephiroth had been quicker on the uptake and decided not to discard Cloud? I suspect I would have liked this story just based on the concept alone, I often have a fondness for stories that take a particular moment in the timeline and diverge just enough to snowball out from where. Especially when it's an idea/direction I really wanted to see explored, like this one. But more than that, this story had a certain sensuality to it, so that even when the characters weren't really doing anything romantic (and I would still say this story is gen more than a pairing fic, no matter how much I might read into it) there was a sense of (creepy) intimacy and connection that I geek out on. I really like the tone of the story as well, the symbolism/explanation of the numbers used, of identity and loss that's touched on with Cloud, of purpose and roads in life... all in such a surprisingly short fic. (Not Sephiroth/Cloud, it's gen, but it might be interesting to SxC fans.)

- Final Fantasy VII - The Best Laid Plans by thewriter0 - I'm always sort of wary of Turkfic, because I crave it like whoa, but there's a certain balance or a certain cleverness that I don't get often enough... or maybe my tastes are just weird, one never knows. But this fic. Well. I sort of suspect that it's ruined me for other Turkfic--or at least other Reno & Rude fic--because it's just so utterly sharp and brilliant. Every little turn of phrase, every time the author describes Reno's movements in a fight or the way he grins or the way Rude doesn't react, the way Reno is an asshole but he's becoming an asshole that Rude really likes., the way nothing is a caricature here and instead shows how these two characters could have formed the partnership they formed. It's one of those fics that will take me a moment to stop and go, "....wait, was that canon or did that happen in fic?" because it hit all the right buttons for me here. And, wow, did this fic deserve a better rec than this spazzy one. ( real warnings/pairings, not technically.)

- Final Fantasy VII - It Runs in the Family by thewriter0 - One page in. One goddamned page in and I totally lost it, practically howling with laughter, because I love Rufus and I love Reno and, oh, god, that's just the best example of Reno putting his foot in his mouth pretty much ever. And then... then... oh, it shouldn't have worked. The second scene should just not have worked, it went deep into the whole parody land and I don't usually like that place. And yet I find myself rolling around on the floor and trying to shove down spasms of giggling at any time Reno shows up. I should be beating my head against the desk at the Rufus characterization, honestly, but the writing was so sharp and just so full of amusement... yeah, I'll be over here still laughing. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Veracity - Colours - Numbers - Memorabilia by Black Jester - I'm going to put these four fics together, since I think they're even more effective as a series than individually. This series of fic is just... it's such a simple idea, the way the four Turks see the world in terms of one thing or another, one sees people and days in color, another sees them as numbers, another sees them as things, each one such an uncomplicated idea that is brilliantly complex when the author tackles each character. Reading the four of them together, there's a lovely intensity to them, so by the time I got to the third one, by the time Reno's turn was coming around, I was completely entranced by them and the details and the characterization. I can believe Tseng sees people as bits and pieces of memoribilia, I can believe that Elena thinks of the world as colors, I utterly believed that Reno saw the world in numbers. The writing is gorgeous, there's a lovely fluid quality to the writing and, god, Reno's was powerful, to the point I felt like my fangirl heart my skip a beat at the ending of it. A must-read if you're a Turks fan, I think. (No real warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - drabble requests by thewriter - I'm going to rec these properly because there are four of them and that makes up a decent-sized fic. Also, Cid/Vincent that's beautiful and sharp and intelligent and all things that that pairing usually isn't with the majority of the fandom. (Or so it seems for one who doesn't venture out that much.) There's a lovely quality to all of the author's writing, sharp lines and dialogue with a natural sort of flow, the kind of writing that's just good. But then it's backed up with charming little moments (Vincent's deadpan style with Cid or Reno being... well, Reno were some of my favorites) or absolutely, utterly hot Rufus/Reno. The kind where the author barely has to describe much of anything, where not that much actually happens, but it feels like it's such an incredibly complete, detailed ficlet somehow. Also, the description of Rufus' expression/eyes as he's furious with Reno and Reno's reaction... a thing of beauty. That and the Cid/Vincent ones are my favorites. *__* (Cid/Vincent, Rude/Reno, gen, and Rufus/Reno, respectively.)

- Final Fantasy VII - untitled by Cephy - Okay, see. I have this giant love of Zack, especially when he's tredding that line between being serious and something more like obnoxious. And when Zack is kinda drunk? Except not entirely, just a touch goofier than normal? Even better. The friendship with Cloud is adorable here and I was really just sort of won over by Zack trying to get Cloud to say his name (without it being a huge thing) and awwww. Zack, man. So much love. ♥ (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - untitled by Cephy - Ahhhh, yes, this is what I came for, the Cid/Vincent fic that's actually clever, intelligent, and not just in character, but is actually really damned sharp. Right from the beginning, when Cid slowly starts to notice Vincent--and I love that it makes sense that Vincent would have caught his attention here--the characterization is utterly fabulous. The way Cid reacts to/thinks about Vincent is perfect, the way he's interested in some things, the way he doesn't care about others, the way he's just so damned Cid. All the little details are gorgeous as well, the use of Vincent's mechanical arms, the way Cid reacts to seeing Chaos, the way he slowly drags Vincent into an actual... well, something like friendship, the way I absolutely believed it here. I loved the pacing of this, the way they don't just fall right into friendship (or something more), I loved Vincent's characterization, the way he's distant and weird, but without being a chariacture of himself. I loved how... I don't know how, but in some way, the author managed to get that sense about Vincent, the eerie way he carries himself, silent and fluid without being too over the top about that either. But more than anything, I think I loved the outstanding narrative voice for Cid in the fic. There are a million little lines that I could have quoted, a million little jokes that were funny while the fic's tone was still serious, a million things that made me sparkle. I feel badly that this rec is so bland when the fic really sent me into orbit. This is what I want out of CId/Vincent fic, plz. (Cid/Vincent, but it could be entirely gen.)

- Final Fantasy VII - untitled by Cephy - And more sharp, clever Cid/Vincent that makes me shimmer and sparkle like you wouldn't believe. (As well as fall for the pairing all over again. Uh.) I, of course, continue to love the author's narrative voice for Cid, who doesn't put up with shit, but in that way he has, that's not quite irritated or annoyed, but might seem like it to someone who doesn't know him well. The deft touch for that is fantastic in her fics. But even more than that, I love, love, loved this fic for the way it shows how good their friendship/whatever can be for the characters, the way Cid is so direct and doesn't put up with Vincent's moping, the way he can somehow jar Vincent out of it just by being himself and dragging him off to drink and it works here. So, so much love for every little piece of this. (Cid/Vincent, except that it could be entirely gen.)

- Final Fantasy VII - untitled by Patrick Phelan - Oh, oh, oh. You know how thorne_scratch and twigcollins have the bestest versions of Reno and the FFVII cast and how they can make one spit their soda out through their nose back up onto the keyboard if you're not careful? This author attempted to emulate them and did an awesome job of it. Admittedly, it took me a page or two to adjust back to fanon mode (which I dearly, dearly love in this fandom ♥), but once I did, it was an utter joy to attempt to stifle sporfling laughter as Rufus goes on a mission with the Turks to retrieve Reno. It's cute, it's clever, there are some fantastic comedic lines and, god, Rufus trying to adjust to the darkness of Sector Seven (or commenting on the loudspeaker of the trains *sporfles*) or getting drunk or, christ, the ending... just so, so much love for this fic. I laughed like a maniac because it hit me just right. (No real warnings/pairings, other than... well, it's Turk humor. ♥)

- Final Fantasy VII - Dragon Wings by Konitsu - Cid Highwind in the early days of first becoming a pilot for ShinRa? By an author whom I adore for her Cid portrayal? I practically pounced on this sucker the first second I saw it. ♥ And, oh, is it ever lovely. The author has such a gift for sharp dialogue, the kind that's actually clever and in character for someone like Cid. I love the background details, the way Cid was such a country boy, yet not meant for the country at the same time. The way he's such a hothead, the way he loves planes so much, the way he doesn't take well to authority, but none of it is over the top, instead it's a brilliant way to show the character. And, god, if his first meeting with Shera wasn't the cutest thing just about ever, too. I love that the author is also taking her time with the set-up here, it's not just about Cid, even if it centers around him. It's also about the background and the other characters and really fleshing things out. And I would like more of this RIGHT NOW, plz. XD (No warnings/pairings.)

- Kingdom Hearts/Final Fantasy VII - Meddling by laylah - I was just supposed to be looking for Axel/Roxas fic! But... but... I've always been a little fond of Kingdom Hearts when it comes to the FF characters and when the author said that knowing the FFVII world would help, I figured, oh, what the hell. Maybe it'll be cute. I didn't expect a novel little thing about Sora "meddling" in the earlier time of the FFVII world and for it to be such a perfect fit, the atmosphere of it is just absolutely lovely and fits both characters and, oh, god, who he finds in that world and how he reacts to them and the sheer potential of it have me wanting to chew at the furniture while I wait for more of it. I'm not really a KH fan (mostly because I refuse to let it eat me like the rest of you), but when something like this comes along? It's so worth reading if you're even just familiar with the concept of the game. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Calling by ChibiRisu-chan - I'm not sure why I hadn't read this fic until now. I like the author's work a lot and this is a story idea that I've craved for who knows how long now. Sephiroth and Cloud post-game (post-AC as well, I think?) and Zack's echo still there and it's... it's about all the pain they've all gone through, what they'll always go through, how these three characters all make my heart positively ache with how much I love them and care for them. Which is very vague, I know. It's about... about a what-if, what if they'd recovered Sephiroth's body and Cloud had to take up the role Zack had once again, to pull something out of a shell that might very well be empty (and not knowing what was going to come out) and how damned hard that is for all of them. It's. It's just. Watching Cloud try to be Zack, knowing all the things I know now, watching it obviously be Cloud trying to be Zack for Sephiroth... it made me want to curl up in a little ball and clutch at my heart for how much it hurt, how sad everything is, even when things are calm now. And the ending? The ending totally got me and made my SxC fangirl heart seize up and then do double-time for the squee. Shut up. (Technically, gen. But you could read Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud or Sephiroth/Cloud into this.)

- Final Fantasy VII - The guys and the SOLDIER celebration by ChibiRisu-chan - In a previous rec, I wondered why I hadn't read the author's work until just now. I think, after having read this fic, after having been unable to look away from the screen for a moment while I read and read, I know. It's because I needed to save a few so that I could ease myself back into the FFVII fandom with some genuinely readable fic. And that's the great thing about ChibiRisu-chan's fic, is that it's so damn readable that you just get sucked in and then she sprinkles these fabulous little details (the name of the game the others were playing was beautiful) and you love the concept (what if Cloud had made SOLDIER?) and then you melt into an absolute pile of mushy goo at the end because it's so damn sweet and wonderful and lovely and adorable. I love that it's a happy occasion, it's even a happy fic, but it's still got twinges of bittersweet because Sephiroth knows what being SOLDIER means and he didn't want that for Cloud, but then Zack is there and... I loved the Sephiroth/Zack bonding in the fic, I love that he's so, so, so, so damned good for both of them, and I love that Sephiroth and Cloud love each other a great deal here. I just... I wibble with love. (You could maybe see Sephiroth/Cloud implied, but you could also see pure gen.)

- Final Fantasy VII - One Man Army by Tenshi no Korin - I always get a special thrill out of reading stories about Sephiroth and Zack, in whatever sort of relationship, I just like them. This is an interesting story about their first meeting, Zack being sent out during the Wutai war and I love the way it was balanced between Zack being such a new, young recruit, still being a little more in awe of General Sephiroth than he would have imagined and the way that's not the focus of the scene, the way Zack is still strong and able. The dirty, ugly, messy war is all around them, but even that isn't the main focus of the scene. It's... it's hard to describe. It's a meeting between them. A beginning. It's dirty and messy like everything in FFVII is. And the ending line packs a nice little punch. (This is gen, but it may be of interest to Sephiroth/Zack fans.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Call of Duty by Tenshi no Korin - Another short piece with Sephiroth and Zack during the Wutai war and it's another one of those little scenes that isn't very long but manages to capture a pivotal moment in time so well. Sephiroth wounded and Zack trying to bandage him up and keep them moving while they can and you can see the beginnings of their friendship/whatever forming, the way Zack's personality is slowlying shining through, the way Sephiroth's is slowly being uncovered, too. I know that sounds vague (not to mention a hell of a run-on sentence), but it's difficult to pin anything specific down with this fic. It's a moment, one with another solid ending that just makes the fic, something I'm really glad to have read. Especially seeing as there aren't enough fics for these two, like, ever. (This is gen, but it may be of interest to Sephiroth/Zack fans.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Not Animal Tested by fairady - This was a fun little fic that you could tell was built around the beginning and the final punchline, that was happily based in fanon!Zack, but... it was light-hearted, I thought it was amusing, it was well-written, and it put a smile on my face by the time I was done. That's what fic is for, you know? Plus, it was Sephiroth and Zack in the early days and it was Zack being... well, special. And Sephiroth trying to keep his patience. All the things I have so much fun with. XD And that ending is good. (This is entirely gen, but it may be of interest to Sephiroth/Zack fans.)

- Final Fantasy VII - The Things You Never Knew About People by joudama - [ part 01 - part 02 - part 03 - part 04 - part 05 ] - Good lord, I knew I'd like this fic (as I've positively adored the author's CCS fic), I only had to get through part two before I was a squeaking mass of ecstatic fangirl. This is quite possibly the BEST TURKFIC EVER. Well, it's more Renofic than Turkfic, but. Either way. FULL OF AWESOME. SO MUCH AWESOME. It starts off with the Turks, especially Reno, actually having depth and intelligence and it's so... Reno when he's speaking flawless gutter Wutai. And then chapter two has flashbacks to when Reno was a kid and it hurt to read the chapters because it was just too goddamned awesome. And I sat there and read and read and read until there was no more to read and then I started chewing on the furniture because it's only up to part five and there will be twelve parts and two epilogues in all and I would like more right now, plz.

Ahem. That said. This is a brilliant fic, it appeals to the characterization h0 in me and the language geek. I love that the author clearly has a grasp of the mechanics of languages, how they should be learned, how tough it is to learn them when you weren't taught properly and then bundles that together with positively awesome Reno characterization. It's not just Reno, though, every character who appears in the fic is beautifully characterized, even the OCs, which feel like they could have stepped out of the series itself. Reno's childhood friend and his mother are entrancing, vibrant and full of life, the details worked in around them making them just come alive and feel fully fleshed out. I can picture everything, the author never stops to hit the pause button on the fic and info dump, everything is worked in as you read along.

I love the balance of the fic as well, each chapter takes turns, one in the present, one in the past, then back again, and it makes for a marvellously paced fic, I have no idea which I prefer. I simply want to read more about Reno's childhood contrasted/compared against his current attitude. It's a lovely fic because you can actually see how his childhood shaped him into who he is today, it's fascinating to read on all levels. And, yeah, there are some ouchie parts in it, good Reno fic almost has to have, but it's also humorous and makes me love the character all over again. And, man, Rude is awesome in this fic, it's brilliant to see Reno through his perspective, because of what he notices and what he doesn't notice. Even Tseng is completely awesome in this fic as well, but... yeah, Rude and his sweet tooth are just beautiful. I'm a little in love with FFVII fic again after this. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Unleash, Routine, Corolla, and Afterwards by thorne_scratch - I'm counting these together since none of them are quite long enough to rec by themselves and they read quite well together, I think. I don't know if I could pick a favorite of these (though, Corolla and Afterwards probably vie for top spot, though), they're all these great little moments, whether humorous or something a little more serious. The author does a brilliant job with her cracked out Zack and Reno antics (I have such great fondness for the idea when it's in this author's hands, a full-on fic would be, like, the best thing ever) and she did something I wouldn't have thought possible--a FFVII and Shoujo Kakumei Utena crossover that was breathtakingly gorgeous and haunting and brilliant. My favorite probably still has to be Sephiroth and Zack, though. That's just. Yeah. That's what they needed more of, moments like that. ♥ (No real warnings/pairings, maybe a little Sephiroth/Cloud or Sephiroth/Zack or Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud implied, but you'd have to squint.)

- Final Fantasy VII - untitled by Cephy - This is a hilarious piece of Cid-fic. I laughed the entire way through this because it captures the chaotic nature of the scene so well, because poor Cid's yelling is just so completely Cid in that gruff, prickly, loud way. Because each of the characters in the background is making his life hell even when they're on his goddamned ship and the last two paragraphs make me giggle in that really embarassing way. (Background het, it's not really the point of the story.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Five things that never happened to Cloud Strife by Cephy - These are lovely and, despite that they never happened, so true to the FFVII world and to Cloud's character. They're either moments of happiness that are almost sweet and could fool you into thinking this life might be okay or they're moments of devestating ow that are beautifully done. This was a lovely fic. (Some implications of pairings, but not really the point.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Naptime by ChibiRisu-chan - You know, part of me read this fic thinking, "This shouldn't be working. Cloud sneaks in a pet cat and Zack gets them all to spend time playing with it as yet another life lesson for Sephiroth? Sephiroth petting a cat? This shouldn't be working!" And yet the author is just so damn good that she doesn't just pull it off, she makes it fantastic. She makes me hurt for Sephiroth's character, all the ways you can see that he never had a childhood, he does understand basic social concepts. She makes me love Zack and what an incredible friend he is. She makes me love Cloud who's such a cute little thing but still stands up when he needs to. And, yeah, okay, the playing with the cat and the way I could not stop smiling throughout the entire piece is totally to the author's credit. I didn't enjoy this in an ironic sort of way or a "This is cute despite the dumb premise." sort of way, the author truly makes this work. There are just so many lines in this fic that highlight exactly why I love all of them, I wish I could quote but... yeah, again, I'd wind up with quoting half of the damn fic. (Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud, but is probably more gen than anything.)

- Final Fantasy VII - On-The-Job Training by Sister Coyote - This is only three hundred words, but I had to rec it properly because there's precious little Turkfic out there that truly impresses me. This managed to be fun, humorous, intelligent, sharp, dangerous, and powerful all wrapped up in one small fic. The things Elena has learned about being a Turk from the various other members, fabulously written. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Putting the Gloves On by tripoverhercats - This was a cool little short piece on Tifa that's technically part of the whole "mercverse" thing, but I think it also stands well enough on its own as a Tifa character story. I love how it shows how much of a shitkicker she can be, how much of a brawler she is, but without losing what makes her such a lovely, caring character. Not that the fic lingers on that, but it doesn't contradict it, either. Just a nice piece of brawler!Tifa fic. ♥ (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Mockingbird by Gerald Tarrant - This is a beautiful Marlene story, tapping into the potential of the character and breathing such life into her here, she just... shines in the narrative. The writing is lovely, clean and easy to read, the kind that smoothly rolls right along, but it's also... the way she looks at the world, the little details that make up her life, with Cloud and Tifa and Denzel at the Seventh Heaven and it's... that age where she's still so young, but she's coming to understand things more and more and the writing captures that beautifully as well, too. Fabulous, fabulous fic. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Making Camp by Ger - This was a very cool fic set early on in the game, not long after Cid joins the party, and it's a good take on his character, how he sees the rest of the group, even the parallels that he finds in surprising places. That's one of the things I love most about fic (especially in gen fic), where the author puts all these neat little details into the story, writes a strong voice for the character, but then also comes up with a connection or parallel between two characters--in this case, between Cid and Cloud--that I'd never really thought of before, but makes a lot of sense. This was a really good read just for its own sake, but the great use of the prompt made it even better. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Walk Along by snarky_kat - You know, for as much as I love Cloud dearly, I find it so very fascinating when authors angst the hell out of him. At least when it's done well, when there's a subtle quality to it rather than being overdone, when it's about imagery and the pain you can feel from him, even as he still trudges forward. This author uses some lovely descriptions as Cloud walks through a ruined city's rubble, thinking of all the people that are gone from his life, and you just have to feel for him. (Potential implications of pairings, but it reads as entirely gen to me.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Malkhut by Joudama - One thing that FFVII fandom never really seemed to do much with (or at least that I was aware of) was the origin of Sephiroth's name and what that might mean to the themes of the game (or the movie as well, in this case) and how they might fit together. The use of the Kabbalic mysticism is really well-done here, the fic is very surreal and about emotion/thoughts than it is about physical sensation, yet there's something very stirring about it, and it succeeds on the level the author was going for. The way she writes Kadaj and Sephiroth (and implications of JENOVA) on this other plane of existance is really impressive, it's a beautiful fic that is almost kind of creepy for what they feel when they interact and the larger whole that they're a part of, the almost religious feeling of the whole piece. Very nice. (Some Sephiroth/Kadaj, it's not precisely the point.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Shevirat ha-kelim by Joudama - This is (sort of) a prequel to Malkhut, as the author says, but I think both of them stand pretty well on their own. This is another story that deals with the Kabbalic mysticism and how those themes might be wound together with FFVII's plot and it's another really intense story for that, the sense of self and being rather than something physical is really brilliantly done. It also does a fantastic job of showing Cloud's character, his strengths and weaknesses and why/how he survived through everything and it just... it fits together with what I saw of the original material and the take on the Sephiroth/Cloud relationship is fantastic as well. It's a really powerful fic that reminds me why I do love the FFVII fandom so much. (Some Sephiroth/Cloud, it's not precisely the point.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Companionship by snarky_kat - This is a short piece on the early days of Sephiroth and Zack's friendship and I love how... vibrant Zack is, I guess, even to someone like Sephiroth, how this is a happier fic, even knowing what we know of how things will turn out for them. Yet it's not really fluffy, either, I love that they're still very clearly SOLDIERs. It was just nice to read. <3 (No warnings/pairings, this is gen, but you may enjoy it if you like Sephiroth/Zack, too.)

Final Fantasy VII: Busadou by joudama - Oh, this was a gorgeous look at Sephiroth's character pre-game, when he was leading the battle in Wutai and I love all the gorgeous imagery in here (which feels wrong to say, because it's a war and a grand city that's burning, but the language used to describe the city is lovely), but mostly I love the sense of calm that surrounds Sephiroth even here. I love the thoughtful, painful moment at the end (for the readers) because it's not overplayed, it's almost understated and that makes it all the more fantastic. (No warnings/pairings.)

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