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- Gundam Wing - Role Reversal by Sefilin - Ever since memlu posted the first episode of GundamW on her journal, I've had the itch to go back through some of my old favorites that I never quite got around to recommending. For as much GundamW fic as I'd read before this one, this fic will always be special to me because it took me from not really caring for Relena's character to having this sudden clarity of understanding. It was like someone had finally explained her instead of just preaching about how great and wonderful she was, you have no idea how rare that used to be, how rare it was to find a Relena fan who wasn't as militant as the anti-Relena fans. But this fic came along. And I had this whole new world of possibilities opened up for me because of it.

I have great fondness for the writing and characterization of this story, the technical aspects of it are very solid. There's some fangirl Japanese and maybe a little stiffness to it, but considering this was written at least six years ago, it's holding up brilliantly well. But what really drove home the coolness for me was the way it drew parallels and connections between Relena and Duo's characters, made me realize why their interaction could be so incredibly flat-out awesome. For all that this fic isn't 2xR, it also gave me my intense love of that pairing.

I like the pacing of the fic as well, the focus of the fic is put on the two versions of Duo in the two mixed up worlds and the two ways Relena's character could have gone. (I think Heero and Relena having been switched might have worked even better for me because they're such inverted mirror images of each other, but I also like that this focused on Duo and Relena, because it was about a new understanding, a new connection, rather than expanding on one that was already there.) I like that the author didn't ignore that aspect of the fic, even while it wasn't the point. It created this nice little fic that always stuck with me as the one that finally explained Relena to me in a way that I understood. So much love for that alone. (Some Heero/Duo, some AU Heero/Relena, some Duo/Relena-not-romance, but 2xR fans might like it.)

- Gundam Wing - Kimi no Koto wa Itsudemo Mamoru by Orla - This is a story I've been meaning to read for years, but was just never in quite enough of a GundamW-ish mood to actually sit down with it. I've always been curious about this Heero/Hirde story because... well, I liked Duo/Relena (based on the idea that Heero and Relena are such inverted mirror images of each other that if Heero/Duo worked so well, why wouldn't Duo/Relena work just as well? Which somehow extended into wanting to curiously poke at the idea of Heero with Hirde. And while a lot of the old-school fics don't withstand the test of time, I still greatly enjoyed this one, it's just so... *waves hand* it's completely het, but in the good way. It's that enthusiasm for a pairing that convinces me, hey, that might actually be a good idea....

So much about this story is charming to me, the way Heero and Hirde interact just... I always wondered if I really would glomp onto the idea, being such a staunch OTP fan as I am. But I loved the way the author wrote them, Heero's intensity and quiet, Hirde's wearing her emotions on her sleeve, the author contrasts them well, makes them play off each other nicely. I liked the way the fic dealt with Heero's relationship with Relena, it's obvious he cares about her, but it's not that kind of love, but it takes Heero awhile to really sort out his feelings.

Admittedly, the scenes with Duo coming back, his anger at Heero and Hirde having fallen in love felt off to me, but I've never been a fan of the pairing, so I wasn't likely to connect with them in the first place. They felt over the top, like the author was working a little too hard to show why Duo and Hirde wouldn't work out and use Duo's anger for more drama, when her having simply moved on would have been enough. However, I still kept reading through those scenes when I normally skip right on by 2xH stuff. And, okay, I'm a great big sap for the ending because part of the original attraction to this story was the Duo/Relena content that would eventually happen and just... shut up, I know. (Heero/Hirde, some Duo/Hirde, eventual Duo/Relena.)

- Gundam Wing - Second Best by mintbot - I'm absolutely stealing the link for this off of Sharon, but I couldn't resist! ♥ My views on the whole Relena thing are complicated and uninteresting, but I have great, great affection for her and I think her relationship with Heero is an important one, so this fic sort of hit a dynamic that I really liked for them. It's... not particularly clear-cut with the three of them, but it's not over the top angsting, either. Instead, it's Heero figuring himself and his emotions out in a way that really hit me with the character. The writing is lovely, I adore the characterization, and it's one of those little pieces that I'm so, so glad I read. ♥ (Heero/Duo, some Heero/Relena.)

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