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- Naruto - My Final Farewell by link no miko - If I were going to quibble with one thing about this story, it would be that I want to say Yondaime meant for Naruto to be a hero to the village, but in this fic, the characterization/plot hinges on that he knows he's dooming the baby to a life of isolation and loneliness. However, when I set that issue aside, this is really one of the best Yondaime - Naruto fics I've had the pleasure of reading, the writing is smooth and the flow of thoughts has a nice pace, it isn't stretched out too far, it doesn't repeat itself too much just to stretch things out, but neither is it too short. There's a lot to be said for a fic that knows just how long it needs to be. There are some very nice turns of phrase inside the story and, even more than that, it does a really nice job with the heartbreaking story, Yondaime knowing he's not going to be there for his son, that he loves him and wants the best for him, all in that way the series has. Really good Yondaime fic. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Best Friends by link no miko - This is the second fic I've read by this author this morning and I've noticed that she has a real talent for opening paragraphs that pack this terrific punch, dragging me into a fic and not letting me go until I'm done. I don't normally read Team 10 fics, I just don't have the drive, but somehow this one was just absolutely perfect. The team dynamic, the way each of them relates to the other, the fantastic Chouji point of view and the way he thinks of them as his best friends, the way they are all each other's best friends... yeah, I get sucked into the OT3-ness of this fandom sometimes, too. Just read it! (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Idealism by Pickled Death - You know, part of me sort of feels like a dink when I get distracted by little things, like how Iruka seemed to have treated Naruto basically the same as everyone else until the whole deal with Mizuki came along, so a story where they bond earlier than that always makes me lift an eyebrow. Then I get over myself and just concentrate on the fabulous characterization of a piece like this, the way it inspires that fangirl high/gleeing sensation in me because it's good Iruka fic. He isn't perfect, he has his flaws, but he's a good person at heart and in stories like this, you can feel that he is his own character with his own motivations, even if we don't always get to see that elsewhere. But what really sent me over the moon for the fic (besides the way my fangirl heart was being tugged at the entire way) were two things. One, the opening lines of the story were wonderful, they made me hurt and dragged me right into the fic. And, two, the sending with Shikamaru's father and the way he looks at Iruka on father's day, the way I didn't even stop to think twice about the details (like I make it sound silly and cliche, but the fic does it beautifully, to the point it never even crossed my mind until I started writing this rec that it might sound as such), it all just FIT. And the ending was fantastic. I'm on a fic-high now. *floats~* (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - In a Kingdom Far Away by Chevira Lowe - I admit, I'm sort of torn on this fic, because I'm not really sure what the point of it was and suspect I'm missing the point by looking for a point. What I mean is that this fic is sort of a horror or dream-like piece about Yondaime after his death, about a constant run from the Beast that his chasing him and the loss of everything that he used to be as he keeps running. The imagery is heavy, but I found that it worked for the piece, given what felt like the objective of the story, it certainly created the sense of a dark, twisted painting in my mind, a dark backdrop and atmosphere that was what won me over with the fic. Plus, good Yondaime fic is rare, that makes this all the more intriguing. :D (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - No Perfect Endings by link no miko - Okay. See. I am a Kakashi fan. So when I read a story that's genuinely really well-written and packs this amazing emotional punch, it makes my heart hurt and I feel like I could start edging towards tears. Especially when the heartache of the story isn't so amped up that it becomes overwhelming, instead it's deftly written and manages to show how much pain and loss Kakashi goes through, the events that have shaped him from the beginning and just... it's the kind of story that forces me to take a deep breath at the end because it hit me just right. And I love, love that this is the Kakashi I recognized from the Gaiden, that this feels so exactly like what Yondaime must have been like, that young!Kakashi must have been exactly like this, so cold and hard-edged already, but not cruel or inhuman. He is a genius, but he is also human and, gah, I wish I could do a better rec, because this fic was fantastic. The kind that rips your heart out but doesn't stomp on it because he's still there and still human. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Conscience by Lisse - I'm sure I've mentioned before how much I geek out on Kakashi fics, because, man, do I. I adored this story because it was a beautiful way to show the effects of the various people in Kakashi's life on him, the way he's taken on--or wonders if he'll ever take on--aspects of them, the way he takes pieces of those people and makes them a part of himself. But the fic never has to say that, it just shows it to the reader, shows how much he cares about these people, how tired he is, even how quirky and kinda batshit insane he is. Each little section, each fragment of Kakashi's life that we see here is beautiful and just the right tone to make me hurt for the character all over again. Lovely fic. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - First Frost by Moonsheen - How is it that I've never read this fic before? I mean, it's got LeeSaku in it and everything! Not that that's the main reason to read it, but I totally would have pounced the second it was posted if I'd been aware! Because, man, Moonsheen is one of the first writers I ever read for that pairing and she just sold me on it, hook, line, and sinker, and I love the way she writes them. And, god, I love her Naruto series-wide antics, the way it's not really about any one, single thing or relationship, it's several different things mixed together and, god, it was so lovely, this sense of... it wasn't a huge moment at all, it was just that you could see the progress Naruto was making with some of the others, the way the impending fight with Akamaru was more friendly than it was truly hateful and you just got that they were all slowly starting to accept Naruto. I loved the story for the way it showed several little moments with a variety of the characters in Konoha during the first snowfall of the year, the way everything wound together, and it was just... it was so very Naruto. Naruto and snowy antics! Wheee, fic high again. *shimmers* (A little LeeSaku, hints of lots of other pairings implied, but nothing explicit.)

- Naruto - Such Great Heights by link no miko - Remember how I'm kind of a dink about some things? Well, I'm a little bit of a dink here, too. But maybe it's just my own theories and assumptions about the background details that I might be wrong about, like I believe Kyuubi belonged to Konoha before it got loose (given what the old woman from Suna implied), rather than that it happened to wander towards the village here. But once I get over myself, this was a fabulous story, a really great possible background for Yondaime, the way his life passes along in this smooth stream of a story, from a talented young ninja who knew a cute little girl he gave lopsided flowers to to an even more talented teacher who didn't have so much time anymore and and even more talented Hokage with a child prodigy who was also dealing with the loss of their team to finding his way back to something like happiness and the flower girl to what we all know happened eventually. I really liked the story because it was so simple in a lot of ways, so lilting and smooth in the narration, but so complicated and messy in other ways. It was... I guess I'm trying to say that it was good and the tone the author took with the character and the atmosphere and the past she spun for him, it all vibed with the character we've seen not nearly enough of. It was charming and almost quaint, despite the heartache and loss they all suffer. (No real warnings.)

- Naruto - Tired by link no miko - ....oh, my god. I just wanted to bawl reading this fic. Normally, I don't read fics where characters I like are dead, but given that I'm not as hung up on Team 10, I figured I'd at least give it a shot. Somewhere around the middle, while I was reading about Chouji surviving while the others didn't make it in various missions, the way it was just the way things were, my stomach started clenching up and my fangirl heart hurt and I just wanted to cry at how gut-wrenchingly, heart-twistingly brilliantly this fic was done. The ending... the ending just completely unravelled me, too. I don't usually like fics like this, but I'd been enjoying the author's work too much to pass it up and I'm going to recommend that others read it as well. Because it's Chouji. You gotta read about Chouji. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Spirals by nescione - Oh, man, how much do I love the whole interconnected quality of Naruto? So much. I love the way this fic is written, the way you start at one point and a thread spins off the first scene to the next, with a related character. Which then spins off a thread of its own to connect to the next character. Each scene has a moment or a particular insight about my favorite characters as I do so love the Konoha characters, from Jiraiya and Tsunade and Orochimaru and Sarutobi-sensei to Yondaime and Kakashi and Obito and Rin to Naruto and Sasuke and Sakura, but it makes it even better when you get a fic like this to see those connections and parallels. Then on top of that, each scene reminds you of all the tough lives these characters have to live, the pain they go through in their lives, all wrapped up in beautiful language. And god did the Kakashi parts hit me especially hard. I don't usually get hit as hard by Team 7 interactions, but somehow, here, the author really nailed Kakashi in those scenes, I thought. Brilliant fic. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - At the edge of the ocean by hercat - I dunno. There's just something about a story that starts out with Kakashi pretending to be absorbed in his porn, Iruka and Naruto talking, Kakashi ignoring Iruka, then Iruka moving closer so that Kakashi will insticvely move away to maintain personal space and run straight into a lamp post. And there are a lot of things that could really be tightened up on this fic (slight bits of surface characterization here and there, the use of fangirl Japanese, etc.), but I found that there were enough little moments that made me genuinely laugh that I was won over. (Lines like, after Naruto calls to Iruka-sensei: Kakashi wondered at how that title seemed to be so firmly linked with Iruka in everyone's mind, trailing behind like a baby duck after its mother. or just about any of the endings, which all pack a nice punch.) And there's banter! And there's actual clever moments and the heart of this story is very, very solid.

Whatever concerns I may have had at the beginning smoothed out by the time I was done, somewhere in these first four chapters, the story found a better rhythm and became a story that was actually rather sharp and clever. None of the characters are perfect, each have their own burdens to bear but still get on with their day, it's not a schmoopy romance (hell, right now, it's pure friendship and may stay that way for the entire fic), and it makes really good use of the background world. (Iruka stocking up on weapons while talking with the shop owner was rather a delight to read about.) Iruka is nicely three-dimensional but still warm-hearted and caring. His relationship with Naruto is lovely and perfect, especially the moments of reflection after Naruto leaves with Jiraiya. And Kakashi is weird and tired and amused and weird and distant and weird and it somehow worked for me. (Not Kakashi/Iruka, but not not KakaIru. Borderline between Gen and Preslash, I'd say. But mostly friendship.)

- Naruto - Lions and Tigers and Bears -- No Way by hercat - Summary: Hey, we can't all summon fantastically impressive beasts. An Iruka-centric (very) short. .......ahahahahaha! *cracks up* Oh, god, somehow this was just absolutely perfect. And not only that, the author actually had some pretty good timing, she knew just how long to extend the story and not push it and the ending was PERFECT and, oh, my god, I would laugh so, so hard if this were true. 'Cause that'd be awesome. XD (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - And through a crack the truth seeps through like acid by Kittu - I admit, I was a little wary going into this fic because I know the author is a SasuSaku fan, but Zau had mentioned that the author did a fantastic Sakura and I knew I had liked her XXXholic and Furuba fics, so. And this is one of the strongest Sakura fics I've read, the language and imagery and intensity of the fic is really a tribute to the character and one of the strongest lines in the fic that really got me is the way Kakashi doesn't really quite see her, the way he's always focused on the boys. Which I can understand why, but it was lovely seeing it from Sakura's point of view, the way she views her team, the way the imagery is used, it's all so... powerful and intense. (Hints of SasuSaku, NaruSaku, but more implied than anything.)

- Naruto - Konoha's Youthful Pair! by pinkpuruu - I know I've read this story before, but I may have rushed it because I had a much narrower focus with the serious previously and now I'm interested in a wider range of fic. Which is a dinky way of me saying that this story amused the hell out of me because I like to mock the characters out of love. Well, not mock. Make them suffer. Especially Neji. It's good for him, really. Plus, the fic has Lee and Hinata in it as well and the humor is cute (especially when it's making Neji suffer >D) and it was just... well, fun. (Err, no real warnings/pairings, I guess.)

- Naruto - House Plants by pinkpuruu - You know, it seems like such a simple idea. Iruka gets Naruto a houseplant. It dies. No great shock. Nor when Iruka gets him another one, probably trying to teach him responsibility. And then somewhere along the line, the story becomes... well, it's still funny and just so Naruto (especially what he does with the dead plants, that was just somehow worded so perfectly), but it was also one of those things that could have been so cheesy, but somehow worked for the series, that somehow said so much about the characters without being cliche about it. Plus, with the way it was buffed up with the sparkling characterizations, the way the author nailed Naruto's crazy antics, it made for a really fun read. XD (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Antagonize by idiosyn - *glee* Just the idea of Kakashi, Iruka, Asuma, and Kurenai playing poker delights me to no end, but the aftermath, when Kurenai and Asuma are obviously trying to shoo them out of the to be alone and not being subtle at all place and Kakashi is being oh-so-helpful about it while Iruka tries not to fall completely asleep... it was all the kind that was written with genuine comedic timing and sparkling dialogue so that I laughed the entire time. *shimmers* (A little Asuma/Kurenai, but that's only half the point.)

- Naruto - untitled by Ju - Y'know, it's fics like this that make me wonder why Ju doesn't write the Naruto series more often because she does a fantastic job with Sasuke's character here, what he's going through while he's training with Orochimaru's little group, painting these perfect Naruto-style images somehow. Just... this was really, really good, even if I can't find the words to explain why. *__* (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - untitled by Ju - .........brilliant. Just... I don't know what to say without spoiling it, every time I try to figure out a way to describe this little fic set while Kakashi, Naruto, Sakura, and Chiyo-baa are travelling and Kakashi asks to see Naruto's improved oiroke no jutsu... I just crack up again. Especially because I totally wish this had happened and Chiyo-baa is awesome. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Of Past and Present by Ju - Oh, man. How much do I love Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru interaction? Especially when Ju writes half the fic with them as kids, sparring for training, being thirteen and Jiraiya is already so perfectly Jiraiya and such a pervert already, so hot-headed and brilliant but stupid and Orochimaru so empty and cool even while he's still there and Tsunade so strong in her own way and I sparkled and laughed the entire way through. And then, god, the second half of the fic just somehow makes everything even sharper, all three of them tied to each other irrevocably, love and hate in equal parts even as they fight each other seriously now, and it's... it's them, so brilliant and tragic and everything else they are. I love these three. ;___; (No real warnings/pairings, not really.)

- Naruto - Her Father's Sword by Kilerkki - I'm not sure what made me stop and read a fic about Tenten. I've always liked her, I've always thought she had potential, but there never seemed to be the right fic to come along. This one seemed short enough, though, so I clicked and started reading and... wow, it was really lovely and painted a beautiful picture of the character. From little Tenten fighting imaginary foes to defying her mother to go to the Academy to the brilliant ending, it showed her strength and determination and humanity and fleshed the character out in such a way that was utterly believable to me. The writing is lovely as well, it flows so well from one scene to the next, creating clear images in my head, and just being easy to read. And I mentioned that the ending was fabulous? Because, man. Another one where my little fangirl heart wanted to cry. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Knowledge by Kilerkki - I admit, I didn't know if I was quite onboard with the little!Kakashi characterization, even if he was probably four (maybe five?) at the time, but I really liked the take on Sakumo's characterization, I really liked the point of the fic, and the second half of the fic was very strong, the ending of the fic hit with the right level of impact to really drive the point home and send a twinge through my fangirl heart. But it was also those little touches, the way Sakumo ruffles Kakashi's hair, the way the important people in Kakashi's life are all tied together at the end, all of it came together really well. *wibbles* Plus, you don't often see genuinely good Sakumo characterizations. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Handle With Care by Kilerkki - So, I've mentioned before that I have a weakness for Yondaime and Kakashi interaction fics, right? Because, man, I do. And it's especially nice to run into one that doesn't have angst, but also is really sort of fun (because Yondaime thinking about his surprisingly young new genin, being surprisingly young himself, about legends, about Jiraiya, about the expectations put on their shoulders, about how very human Jiraiya is sometimes, too, all of that was just delightful fun), and the Yondaime characterization is really solid. Which is what you're reading this fic for, really. Also, I liked that I didn't even notice the lack of a name to call him until afterwards, which I thought was sort of neat. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - He Left a Weapon by Phoenix of Eternity - You know, after reading this fic, it strikes me that there's surpsingly little (that I've found) fic about Jiraiya dealing with having lost his student, much less fic that's so incredibly heart-wrenching as this one was. Just... it was quite short, but it packed one hell of a punch, from the way Jiraiya wasn't there to see it to his conversation with Sarutobi to the way Konoha was struggling to repair itself to the new baby with the demon inside it. Just... wow, it hurt without having to stomp on my heart. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - That He Should Weep by UE - You know, I'm not quite sure how to catagorize my reaction to this fic, because it can be a little difficult to keep your focus in the fic, almost like the picture is just a notch fuzzy, but at the same time that adds a certain atmosphere to the story. Part of it is also that so little actually happened that I'm having trouble remembering what it was that I liked about it, what left me with the feeling of, "That was a good fic!" Because it was, the way Kakashi moves through his life, before things went to hell, during, after, all the while a vague sense of loss and bitterness and aching and pain present, but without going overboard. It's more felt than told, in the little details with the way Kakashi holds himself or the way people react to him or what's expected of him (the expectations with Itachi hit me especially hard in this fic), even the way Sakumo reminds him about the way to treat the dogs he summons. And there's really ouchy ending to go with everything, creating an overall really interesting take on Kakashi's character that I liked a lot. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - on death, chance and being invisible by Zau - Oh, wow. Zau has written what is quite possibly the most perfect Kurenai fic I have ever come across. I'm not sure how to explain my flapping, flailing love for this, especially since I don't often read Kurenai or Asuma, but this... this kept me reading until the very end and sad when it was over. (Though, it's beautifully complete, as much as I wanted more, it was also perfect and sating the way it was.) Kurenai is fabulous here, so beautifully three-dimensional and human, from the way she looks at her team to the way she looks at the rest of the village, so many different people, so many different sorts of dull aches, so many different forms of hopefulness. The writing is this lovely, elegant quality that brings out the emotion of the piece in this beautifully subtle way and... just, wow, the parallels between Asuma's team and Kurenai's team was just breathtaking. I wish I could sum this fic up better, it certainly deserves it. (Asuma/Kurenai, but also very worth reading for a gen aspect.)

- Naruto - Not Found In Stone by Phoenix of Eternity - You know how some fic leaves you breathless or heartsick after reading it, because it hit the exact right notes that made you want to cry because the characters go through so much pain? Yeah, this one had my little fangirl heart hurting because of the way it recounts the tragedies in Kakashi's life, the way so much has been piled on shoulders so young at the time. But it's also the interaction between Kakashi and Yondaime that drew me to this fic, the utterly brilliant way the author portrays child!Kakashi around his Sensei, around his teammates, around his father. This was brilliant and perfect and all those other gushing adjectives, for all the little details (the description of Kakashi and Yondaime sitting in front of the Hero's Stone was magnificent, really) and reactions and just... I wish I could describe it better. Every little piece of it hit me exactly right, every little piece of it was just as sharp as the rest. *wobbles* (No warnings/pairings.)

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