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- Naruto - Weak by Akauzu-kun - (Note: SPOILERS for the Zabuza-Haku arc in the series.) This story... brings out everything that made me want to cry for Haku (and Zabuza), it's such a beautifully written story, so bittersweet, so perfectly, beautifully in character. The last line of the story did me in the first time I read this, broke my heart for the characters and made me want to cry all over again. And not in a manipulative way--as I intensely dislike fics that feel manipulative--but... gahhh, just go read. This fic is wonderful. (Some light Zabuza+Haku.)

- Naruto - Red by ashchan - Red was the color of not only the dress she wore that night; but the start of the new romance in their own little world. Red was their color. I don't read much Asuma/Kurenai, despite really liking them, but I was going through the 30 Kisses comm and happened to stop and read this one. The writing is lovely, a thoughtful, smooth little piece about the progression of the relationship between them, from two ninjas of Konoha to friends to something more. The characters are so very human, but still themselves, not stepping over the Wangst Line. The color red plays a very nice theme in the story, but it, too, doesn't go too far, just winds gently through it, coloring it, but not taking over. Very nice and subtle, much like the couple themselves. (Asuma/Kurenai.)

- Naruto - Unhealthy Obsession by Haruno - So, I saw the pairing of this fic (Iruka/Anko) and was intrigued, hoping to find something halfway decent that may have fit the characters at least a little bit. Instead, what I got was something that was surprisingly insightful for both characters, Iruka's genuineness and forgiving nature, Anko's lack of innocence for a long time, but nothing that was so harsh or awful, it was almost... something almost sweet without being fluffy. Okay, that's a terrible description, but... well, this is what utterly won me over: She's always gotten what she wanted before - Her innocence had been lost long before she'd ever made chuunin. Her hand roamed to her neck and she winced at the memories. The village, they'd never forgiven her. He would, though, that was how he was. Surprisingly lovely Iruka/Anko, I'd love to see more from this author. (Iruka/Anko.)

- Naruto - Kisses and Kettles by Kit Spooner - I recently caught up with the Naruto manga and some of the recent chapters have left me absolutely pining for NaruSaku fic because they've been so freaking adorable/fun in the manga lately. Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, LeeSaku OTP, blah, blah, blah, I wanted NaruSaku just for a little while and this story was such fun. From someone sending Naruto flowers to the way he irritates her with asking what the hell to do with them to the way she snaps, put them in water, moron, and hangs up on him to the absolutely adorable ending, I just had fun with this one. I did quibble a little at the scene with Hinata, but it wasn't a very big quibble and I actually really adored the author's take on both characters--Naruto was Naruto and Sakura was suitably kick-ass. >D (Naruto/Sakura.)

- Naruto - Dear Sir or Madam by Never Eats Oranges - I know I've seen this fic summary before and it seems like I should have read it before, but... well, anyway, I was in the mood for humor again the other day, so I stumbled over this one, read, and promptly laughed the entire way through. The kind where it could have been so flat and unfunny, various members of the series writing anonymously to Iruka for an advice column, but the author's talent and sense of timing really pulled it off, so that I was nearly rolling around on the floor, clutching my sides in laughter. It's just... from the way Kakashi is teasing him to the way notes spread around the characters like wildfire (like the way Tsunade just knows stuff, the way she has her sources) to the way the teachers discuss amongst themselves to... just... Gai... *rolls around on the floor and giggles* (Err. Mostly parody, so I'm not sure anything counts?)

- Naruto - Special Relationships by Tammaiya - Okay, so, it was late, Tammaiya was reading the Naruto manga, getting to some of the more NejiNaru-friendly scenes and we started talking and bemoaning that both of us were more SasuNaru fans, but there was something that wouldn't quite disperse about the idea of NejiNaru, especially since we love Neji to squishy, squishy little pieces and were so, so amused at the idea of what would happen if Hinata found out. It, of course, immediately turned to crack and Tammaiya wrote this genius fic. GENIUS, I tell you. It's the kind where there's a joke every five lines that absolutely had me rolling around on the floor and clutching my sides with the kind of laughter that was so high-pitched only dogs could hear it. And, yet, it never felt crowded for everything that she managed to pack into it, it was just this steady stream of OMG FUNNY. It's also really clever funny--as the fic requires that there be a base misunderstanding, but it's the kind that could happen, not the kind that indicates the cast doesn't have half a brain to share between them, instead it was beautifully worded to make the crack story premise work. But, hell, even that's not the end of the reasons to read the fic--she manages to put in little details for this wide variety of characters that make them come alive. Hinata is the sweetest manga girl just about ever and I could not stop wanting to hug her the entire way. Kurenai was just genius, TenTen was even more genius, Iruka made me want to spaz and hug him so much, Kakashi was his usually SADISTIC FREAK self that had me cracking up, Neji was just absolutely brilliant, and Sasuke and Naruto were... perfect. I will not spoil any more of it than that, just... GO READ. SO FUNNY. Also, the ending is hilarious. (NejiNaru, SasuNaru, a few other pairings references or hinted at.)

- Naruto - Get With the Times by chibirisuchan - There's just something about batshit Naruto crack that makes me laugh. So much. Especially being as steeped in the j-fanart/j-doujin/j-h-games with the series as I am, there's just something about the idea of Kakashi trying to convince the others that playing h-games is a good way to develop skills. And then the screeching rage that comes with that. ....heeheeheee. *cracks up some more* (....yaoi. Lots of yaoi.)

- Naruto - Death and Taxes by Hoshiki - I will grant ahead of time that you likely have to be in the mood for crack to read this fic, but... yeah, I've got a big ol' soft spot for KakaIru vs GaiIru stories. And I was enjoying this story, it was cute and played up the crack and it was funny and the author has a way with a turn of phrase, but the part where I was totally won over? Besides Kakashi and Gai spying on Iruka who casually knocks them both over into a nearby pond, that is. When Iruka is cornered and they force him to choose a duelling method and... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, that TOTALLY made me laugh my ass off because the author's sense of timing was perfect for that scene. It's totally cracked out after that, but that part alone would have been worth the price of admission. And, okay, I liked the ending here, too. XD (Kakashi/Iruka, Gai/Iruka.)

- Naruto - Bedtime Stories by Sunfreak - So, I read this fic immediately after "An Affectionate Couple", which already had me laughing. Then I read the first three sentences of this fic. And I must be in a good mood, because I suddenly couldn't stop giggling, Sunfreak has this way of turning a phrase that hits me just right and leaves me in a pile. And then the real parody starts, Kakashi treating Team 7 like children ready to be tucked in and being an INSANE FREAK and corrupting his students and I could not stop laughing. Each line is the kind that was another joke that built on the last one and the ending did seem to lose a little steam (or, perhaps, got too far off into parody to lose the thread of connection to the canon), the build-up on the way there is so worth it. I laughed like a loon for this. XD ( Lots. Yaoi and yuri and hentai.)

- Naruto - His Raven's Cardinal by Pickled Death - So. An odd choice for my first NejiTen fic to have ever read, but not an entirely bad one. It's a bit odd to follow, it relies heavily on imagery and the ending sort of seems to come out of nowhere (I suspect it would become clearer upon rereading), but it had a particular atmosphere that felt like Neji. Even aside from the angst, angst, emo woe, angst that Neji usually has. ^_~ I really liked the way the bird metaphor was used here, the images seemed to work and there was a nice flow to the story and, ooh, the scene at the river was nice. (Neji/Tenten.)

- 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 - 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 - Smatterings by Saro - There are three pieces to this story, each focusing on a different relationship, but I'm going to rec them all together since it seems to fit better that way. I don't usually read outside of my Kakashi-friendly fic, but I'd read the author's GundamW fic and loved it so much that I thought she might be able to do SasuNaru in such a way that I'd be interested. And I really liked the first fic, the way whatever it was between them wasn't attraction because that implied something too soft and gentle, this was much harder. The way the fic only showed glimpses of what might come for them, even in such a short little thing, it was powerful and intense. And then! And then there was Jiraiya and Tsunade and I definitely knew I was going to be in love with this fic because it was just as sharp and harsh and powerful and intense. The way things change over the years, the way they don't, the way each moment contributes to the growing tension of the piece, the way it's so painfully Jiraiya and Tsunade. I was in love. But not only that, there was also a Neji/Naruto chapter, one of the few fics that I've read that actually did justice to that pairing, that actually kept my interest for it. It had that same hard, painfully sharp edge to it that made me fall in love with this series in the first place. A very nice collection of fics. *__* (SasuNaru, Jiraiya/Tsunade, and Naruto/Neji, respectively.)

- 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 - Tryin' To Get To Heaven by Hey-Diddle-Diddle - I admit, the first chapter of this felt a little... mm, sudden, I guess. To be thrust into the middle of a story where Konoha has gone to war with Sound, to have not seen the build up to the Kakashi/Iruka relationship. But the writing was solid and the author achieved a properly dark and gritty tone for the war she was writing and I kept at the fic. Then, somewhere in the middle of the second chapter, the whole thing just sort of clicked for me and I started to really like the fic. The author's characterizations are solid, but even more than that it's the atmosphere she builds, that war and fighting really do suck, but not in the sense that we have to be told this, we see it, you can almost feel it. The author also doesn't just focus on Kakashi or Iruka (though, they are the main characters largely), you also get to see very important roles from characters like Raidou or Ibiki or Gai or Asuma.

And even if you are shoved into the middle of the war with this fic, the author isn't really glossing over too much--it's not so much about the fight scenes, but the in between moments, when it's not quite so easy to not remember that your loved ones are dying, that so many people are already dead, but when you still have to get up and fight. I'm not explaining it very well, I don't think, but it is really a rather good story, the author is writing it very well, the style is very smooth and readable, the painful tone needed for a story like this comes across very well, and I really, really want more of this one. Even if the ending will most likely be terribly bittersweet at best. (Some Kakashi/Iruka, a little Genma/Raidou in the background.)

- Naruto - Ghosts by Ninjacat - Okay, so admittedly, I'm tired and feeling very run-down, but, damn, this fic almost made me cry. Like, a fine mist of heat across my eyes that's the stage before tearing up, my heart hurting, because... well, I'm not sure I was fully onboard with this fic (out of personal preference, not any characterization issues), no matter how friendly I am towards the SasuNaruSaku trio, but goddamn was the unfolding future for Naruto and Sakura amazingly written. It hurt so goddamned much because it was so goddamned plausible, the way Naruto and Sakura are good together, but they're not good together because Sasuke's ghost is still haunting them but they're good together because it couldn't really be any other way, they're bound to each other, because they're always haunted by so many people, and, Jesus, the second to last scene had me practically on the floor wanting to bawl my eyes out. I wish I could write a better rec for this one because it's one of the few fics focusing on these characters that truly kept my attention and just hit me so damned hard. Amazing characterization here, so messy and unclean and utterly Naruto. (Naruto/Sakura.)

- 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 - The Laughter of Women by dianoetic - This was just kinda fun. I'm not sure I'm onboard with the second half (it just felt way too casual/easy about sex with teammates for me), but it's a minor, momentary quibble in the face of a fic that's otherwise delightful. The first half of the fic, where Shikamaru and Chouji are making their little pact was perfect, that they even gave it a NAME, that they were so SERIOUS about it! And, okay, the very, very ending was amusing and I liked the use of the theme. :D (Shikamaru/Ino, Chouji/Ino.)

- Naruto - Morning Routine by idiosyn - Oh, this was a lovely Asuma/Kurenai fic, the kind that's actually sharp and clever, that presents more than just a solid take on the characterizations, but actually makes it smart and unique in the author's own way. That Kurenai takes routine where she can find it in a chaotic life of a ninja, the way Asuma, even when he's not really in the fic proper, still shows such insight and care while being so cool... yeah, I loved this. (Asuma/Kurenai.)

- Naruto - The Starfish Significance by Goldberry - I really do have a soft spot for Team Gai interaction fics and, really, how can you not love a fic where they all go to the beach? I mean, they played volleyball, there's no way in which that's not totally lovable! XD But it was also a nice NejiTen interaction fic, there's a certain something there that really appeals to me and I thought the starfish analogy worked really well, especially Neji's initial reaction and Tenten's attitude. She really is the only one with any sense out of the bunch. ♥ But there are also moments that made me laugh (Seriously, Lee practically running in place in his enthusiasm because he couldn't sit still long enough for Tenten to put sunscreen on him? Priceless.) and moments that made me go, "Aww." That's all I ask for from a fic. :D (Neji/Tenten.)

- Naruto - Another Perfect Day by Aishuu - Apparently, I'm a bit of a later bloomer when it comes to the Team 10 love, but it's stories like this that are starting to blossom that love for me. I have a real fondness for Ino and the promise of Shikamaru/Ino (even if in a weird way) lured me into this fic. For all that I came for the ShikaIno, I stayed for the gen, since it wasn't really about them at all and I really liked the sense of... team, even as Ino snoops and Shikamaru tries to keep his secret and Chouji is stuck between them, because it's still all about their little miniature family dynamic. I really liked the way this was written, it was just a nice fic to read to balance out my Naruto diet, so to speak. (Shikamaru/Ino-but-not-really, Shikamaru/?)

- Naruto - untitled by ChibiRisu-chan - ....yeah, okay, this fic wins for the use of Ino's jutsu. I mean, I'm generally burnt out on crack these days, but I like the author's writing enough to give it a shot anyway and this was a fun little fic that didn't take itself too seriously, but was still good... and then the ending and I started sporfling with laughter because, ahahahaha, best use of the body-switching jutsu pretty much ever. XD (Sasuke/Ino.)

- Naruto - untitled by ChibiRisu-chan - Y'know. A story that starts out with "But it's just not right to crush people mercilessly for taking your last candy bar," Lee said. shouldn't be this good, but, damn, this story reminds me of why I adore both characters and sort of makes me want to seek out Gaara/Lee fic. Not that this is a pairing fic, instead it's something that I like even more, it shows the clashing of their beliefs, starting out as a crack premise (and, yes, it's still crack the whole way through) but it's just so... much fun and still nicely written that I adored it. ( real warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - untitled by ChibiRisu-chan - So, Cam mentions that ChibiRisu-chan is doing ficlets in her journal (that are more like short fics than ficlets) and so, naturally, I wandered over to check them out and was utterly sucked into checking through them all as soon as I read this one. I was a little wary of the summary, but the author pulls the concept off (Kakashi and Sasuke and talking about fatherhood) that it's just... it's got those little touches of humor and then it turns right around and breaks your heart in the same breath because Kakashi and Sasuke do have that much in common, these two characters who aren't really quite normal and never will be. The ending just... it packs an incredible punch. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Hyuuga clan staring contest by ChibiRisu-chan - Man, Neji and Hinata having a staring contest/fight without using words? How could I not snatch this one up to read immediately? And, okay, yes, the Neji - Hinata interaction is what really put me over the top with the fic, despite that it was probably entirely gen. (Shut up, I just like their interaction however it's done.) But even more than that, it's cute and it's fun to see Hinata coming into her own without having to put Neji down to do it, there's a sense of... whatever it is, it makes me love both characters so very much. Plus, omg, Naruto gets the best line in the whole fic when he gives his opinion on what he thinks about Neji and Hinata's way of arguing. And the ending... *melts into a puddle of warm fuzzies* (Not Neji/Hinata by any means, but fans of the pairing may enjoy it.)

- Naruto/Fruits Basket - Iruka and Hatori by ChibiRisu-chan - I suspected that a Naruto/Furuba crossover would be fun coming from this author... but I certainly wasn't expecting something that has such a beautiful point of commonality to it (given that it's set in the author's "Side Effect" universe, it's probably best to be familiar with the premise of that fic first) or something that would utterly engross me and not let me so much as flicker my gaze away from the screen until I was done reading. The characterizations were just lovely--I was really impressed with the level of comfort with the medical details (though, not so much that they overwhelm the fic, just enough to give it a very comfortable feeling of being set from the POV of a doctor) which was helped by Hatori's noting of so many little details of his patient, but also that it felt so very... Hatori. The bittersweet feeling of checking on a pregnant woman, the faint aching of explaining about the differences in their 'curses', getting me to believe that Hatori would react the way he did and say the things he did. It's one of those fics that... I'm not describing this very well, but the brilliant thing is that there's actually a point to the story and real moments of connection between Hatori and Iruka. It's not just randomly tossing the characters together, somehow the crossover managed to work. And, oh, the ending was beautiful. So incredibly beautiful and what I wouldn't give for that scene, too. XDDDD (Some Kakashi/Iruka, but it's entirely not the point.)

- Naruto - above the clouds by Aishuu - Eeee, yes. This is a fic I've been waiting for for what feels like ages, the idea of Kakashi as a potential future Hokage. Ever since Kishimoto mentioned it in an early interview (long before Tsunade was introduced), the idea of Kakashi taking on the heavy burden of Hokage has intrigued me because it would be such a terrible burden for him, but he would do it without hesitation because it's what the village needed. Aishuu does a lovely job of capturing the kind of future that could happen with the series if it were to go in a darker direction, one that is painful, but not necessarily quite bleak. There's one moment in this fic, when Gai addresses Kakashi that's such a quiet, subtle thing and it hit me like a ton of bricks because, yes, that's when you realized everything that had changed/been lost/ended. Very, very lovely fic. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Perception by Hiasobi - part 00 - part 01 - I'll start off with admitting that these two parts are a little rough, there are several moments when the author could have polished them a little more, but at the same time, there's still that basic talent, that basic style of interaction between Neji, Hinata, and the rest of the Hyuuga that made me fall for the author's writing and the pairing itself. There's a certain delicacy to Hinata and the writing here, the gentle nature of her character comes through so strongly, even when up against Neji's rage/pain and her own pain/loss and determination. The way Hinata has been through a lot, her family's disappointment in her, her relationship with the Branch family members... I terribly look forward to more of this story and enjoy what there is of it so far. (Not Neji/Hinata, but I'll include it in that section.)

- Naruto - Kinds of Love by JBMcDragon - At the time I read this story, there were several factors contributing to my reaction. One, period from hell, so my hormones were out of whack. Personal life stress involving a five-year-old nephew that I love dearly and is the sweetest kid in the world. A great and giant love of the Naruto characters and an emotional state. I'm not saying these things to give the fic a back-handed compliment or write off my reaction to it, because the story is very, very well-written and tackles a tough issue in a way that I found to be really sort of brilliant. The balance between showing the disgusting side of child molestation and showing why/how it happens and not preaching about, instead simply showing it was brilliantly done. Which made it hurt more, really, because I understood why this Iruka fell into a situation that was beyond his control, how this situation got started. It hit me harder because I can sort of believe that this would explain a fair amount about Mizuki or would fit with Iruka's characterization when he was younger.

This is in addition to the lovely, smooth writing that pulled me in and got me to sit through the entire story without getting up to take a break, because I was engrossed enough to just keep reading scene after scene. The characterizations are fantastic, nothing is too over the top or unbelievable, this is a very down-to-earth, realistic take on child molestation, right down to the way Iruka reacts to the situation and even his choice of words while thinking about what's happening. The story is brilliantly written enough that I felt wobbly and sort of devestated (in that fannish sort of way) by the ending scenes, the brilliant use of Raidou and his family and Iruka's friendship with Mizuki and just... everything. I don't normally like to read this sort of story, either it's badly done and sort of offensive or it's beautifully done and hurts even more for it. This one was worth it. (Dark themes, pay attention to the warnings, R-rating.)

- Naruto - untitled by Mina Lightstar - I don't usually read beyond my usual set pairings, but... well, it's Mina and it's Kiba and Hinata (who are adorably cute) and it's more gen than anything and it was short enough that I wasn't making a huge commitment. And I'm really glad I read, Mina manages to capture both characters really well even with such a short piece here, something about them hitting just the right notes and being so cute without being too cotton candy fluffy for my tastes. It's simple and sweet, but that's what made it so good. ♥ (Not Kiba/Hinata, it's more gen than anything, but.)

- Naruto - Patience by Lacewood - A cute, sweet (without being fluffy or sugary) story after Hinata's match with Neji in the Chuunin Exams, where she's unconscious for a long time and Kiba worries. Which could have been a simple fic, could almost have felt pointless, but with this author there was something about it... it was a really nice Kiba fic, the way it showed so much of his personality through the little things, the way he worried about a teammate, someone he cared about. The ending was touching as well, when Hinata thanks him for visiting, the way she reacts, the way he reacts, and... it made me feel a little softer towards their interaction, almost thinking that it could be cute. ....which is such a back-handed compliment when I don't mean it to be, because this fic does a lovely job with these two characters. (It's not Kiba/Hinata, it's gen, but if you're a fan of the pairing, you'll probably like it.)

- Naruto - Pavement by Lacewood - Neji/Tenten is one of those pairings that I have an interest in, but where I need a certain kind of fic with a certain kind of style, where it hits me just right. (Because I'm lazy, I rarely go looking for it and wait until a fic practically falls into my lap.) But when the right fic comes along, like this one, I find myself rather entranced by the way it might work out, it might not, but there's a certain chemistry there, even as they're standing across from each other on the pavement, and Neji's quiet and reserved and Tenten isn't quite bittersweet and she smiles easily and yet there's something there. I think that's what really sold me on the fic, that it wasn't one that made me feel depressed afterwards, yet there was still a subtle ache that the author never had to comment on, it was just there. Lovely fic. <3 (Neji/Tenten and Neji/other referenced.)

- Naruto - Twenty Truths about Jiraiya and Umino Iruka by midnightdiddle - You wouldn't think that a fic about Jiraiya and Iruka would be able to affect me as much as this one did, but the author managed to weave the two characters together in little ways that more than made sense, they had that certain clever deftness to them that made me almost ache. Because it's not quite bittersweet, but it's not exactly happy, either, and it's so... Naruto in that way that's full of pain and harshness and more knowledge than people should have, but they can't not know certain things. The little details of this are just fantastic, I really can't pick a favorite because the author does such a terrific job of covering everything that needs to be covered. Sometimes it's about sharing a moment between the characters (Jiraiya and Iruka on the roofs, one with papers to grade, one with a manuscript... that shouldn't have worked, but it turned out to be one of my favorites ♥) and sometimes it's about the grander nature of the characters. None of it is very easy for either character and that just makes it all the more brilliant. I know it seems like such a crack pairing, but I really think it's worth a read, the author did a terrific job on it. Or maybe I'm just weak to these characters, that's certainly been known to happen. ^_~ (Not really Jiraiya/Iruka, it's closer to gen than anything, but.)

- Naruto - Speaking Their Language by YunCyn - I'll admit that there's some favoritism going on with the author's favorite characters, that Tenten gets a bit of the Mary Sue treatment to make make her Just That Awesome, but it's done in such a way that's sweet and doesn't make me annoyed so much as makes me feel the author's fondness for the character, too. The author stays very grounded in Tenten's actual strengths, that she's a weapons master, that she's a kunoichi, while setting the fic from Neji's perspective so that he can admire these aspects about her. Yet, the fic doesn't go too far over the top so I couldn't believe that Neji wouldn't think these things, instead it was... a sense of two adult soldiers simply training near each other, sitting near each other, knowing what the other was saying just through a certain quirk of the lips or expression on their face. The author has a lovely way of charming me into liking the way she writes the characters so that it became one of the better NejiTen pieces I've read, I think. :D (Neji/Tenten.)

- Naruto - The Perils of Anthrax by gelfling8604 - I was a little nervous to click on this link. It was labelled KakaYonda and slight KakaNaru, two pairings that I like better as gen and feel sort of squicky about with romance. But I read. And it was vaguely romantic. And almost outright romantic towards the end. And, oh my god, this is the only fic, the only way that Kakashi/Naruto would work for me. Because of all the weight and history and Kakashi's feelings and it's so, so screwed up, even when nothing happens, only that sort of flutter in my chest of a raised heartbeat sort of feeling. That's what I felt like reading this, what I felt between them. The physical reactions this fic got from me were fantastic and the atmosphere of this piece has this really strong intensity to it and the writer actually pulls off the feeling of immediacy and sticky sense of feeling like you're covered in blood and bone-tired. Also, there are moments of humor where the author wants them and I just. I... I just. I keyboard mash in love at the connection between Kakashi and Jiraiya here. (Kakashi/Yondaime, Kakashi/Naruto implied a little.)

- Naruto - Fitting the Pieces by Aliora - *long, deep sigh* After reading this fic... part of me feels like I'll never need to read another NaruSaku fic again. The other part of me is going, "See? Look how good they are together! Go find more! Now now now!" This fic was gorgeous. Everything about it was gorgeous. To the point that I'm having trouble stopping and gathering my thoughts. This is that fic I always wanted to find for these two, the one that would remind me of Kishimoto's manga, both in terms of characterization, plotting, and style. The one that's so perfectly fit to the characters as I see them that it made my teeth positively ache. The one that's so sharply written that I could barely stand to look away before every last word of the piece was read. Naruto and Sakura, trying to move on and put the pieces of their lives back together after Sasuke's gone, finding something between them that's... it's not easy. It's not easy at all. They both hurt so much, I hurt so much at the hints of what happened in the past, they both feel so lost in their own pain, it's so hard to move on, but they're there for each other and they fumble their way towards something a little bit better. Just like how I feel with the manga. And, god, the characterization of them both is so perfect. Naruto was Naruto and Sakura was Sakura and they're tough, capable nin even while they're still raw and aching from loss. Sakura's temper and Naruto's generosity and, yes, this is everything I wanted. I wish I could describe it better, I wish this rec was more coherent. The lovely writing, the beautifully smooth prose and perfectly used imagery so that it felt like a WJ manga, all of that deserves more than this rec gives. Hell, even Tsunade was brilliant in the first chapter, so perfectly her. But the best is watch Naruto and Sakura on a bogus mission and everything works and a;lsdfkjalskjdfalskjdf, lovelovelove. Okay, gushing done now. I'll settle down. (Naruto/Sakura.)

- Naruto - Hard, but much truer by dianoetic - Okay, this was just fun. Maybe it shouldn't have worked, the idea of Shikamaru being too lazy to write a letter to Temari (who demanded it) and shoving it off onto Ino who... is, well, very Ino. But the author had a good sense of timing and humor, so it was actually pulled off. I totally laughed at the ending. And the middle. And the beginning. ....okay, I laughed at the whole thing. This was delightful. (Maybe some Shikamaru/Temari if you read into things. But it's mostly gen team 10 antics.)

- Naruto - Blue Satin Sashes by dianoetic - With a lot of authors, this couldn't have been pulled off. Shikamaru, Ino, and a blue ribbon? Enh. But with this author... she doesn't stretch it out too far, the pacing is perfect, the humor of the situation is perfect, and the characterization is lovely. The ending is great as well and it's just this neat little fic that more than ever convinces me that I really do like ShikaIno for a reason. (Shikamaru/Ino.)

- Naruto - Not So Secret by dianoetic - And this one was just fun as well. Mostly because the author never overdoes these short little fics, never drags them out just to pad the wordcount, so instead they're these delightful little pieces of fic candy. Also, the idea that this is how they're found out and the idea that there's a weekly Naruto poker night... this quietly delights me. XD (Shikamaru/Ino.)

- Naruto - Hush by Luc Court - ShikaTema is one of those pairings that I can see it canon, but it holds little interest for me in fic that I never bother to read it. But when a particularily favored author of mine writes it... well, what the hell, I said to myself. I can at least give it a shot. Were Shikamaru/Temari to be a pairing that I shipped actively, I imagine it would be something very like this, the way it's subtle and complicated while being so... straightforward and uncomplicated at the same time. This piece relies a lot on imagery and that's what made me like it so much, there are dozens of different little images to pop up in your head or turns of phrase to prettily describe the scenery, yet still retaining something of Kishimoto's style. And, quite simply, they work in this fic. (Shikamaru/Temari.)

- Naruto - untitled by Rilina - This time it's a Shikamaru/Temari short fic and it's... I've read a few fics for this pairing over my course in the Naruto fandom, but I think this might just be my favorite one yet, there's something so... interesting about them here, like I could possibly actively ship them if they were always written this way. I mean, it's just a walk to the gates of Konoha as she's leaving for awhile, but smooth quality of the narration, the way the characters just shine through with it... it's somehow perfect. (Shikamaru/Temari.)

- Naruto - That Damned Sexy-no-Jutsu by Aishuu - I was curious to see Aishuu's take on Sakura that was more than just a short drabble (if you can count 320 words as a regular-sized fic ^_~) and this was... this was one of those things that I didn't know how awesome it would be until I'd read it, because it's not just that the characterization and writing are lovely. It's also that it's humorous and fun and has a beautiful couple of ending lines. Fabulous, fun reading all around. (....straight and gay with Sakura.)

- Naruto - Not Heaven by Anria - wolfie and I were talking about Naruto this morning and somehow the subject of Gaara/Naruto came up, so she recommended this fic. I admit, I was a little thrown by the divergent-timeline-ness of it, considering how far along in the manga I am (chapter 316 at this time), but I didn't let that stop me from reading because it's a gorgeous fic. The characterization nearly sparkles, everyone is so very much themselves, from Tsunade's wicked streak to Gaara's indifference/hurt under the surface to Naruto's optimism that's slowly being tempered with real intelligence. The mission that takes Naruto into the Sand Village, the way he and Gaara spend time together while he's forced to wait there, it built up their relationship just so well. It was fun and cute, but it didn't ignore the emotional side of the characters and their harsh lives, either. It's just. Full of those little details and emotional punch that make Naruto fic so much fun for me, what all fic for this fandom should be. (Naruto/Gaara.)

- Naruto - I Love The Sound of You Walking Away by horses_and_men - Oh, god, I'm terrible. I know I saw a rec for this in the last couple of days, but I can't remember where now. Sorry! ~_~ But I've seen it recommended a few times here and there and I finally settled into reading it because I have a lot of affection for Ino and there's precious little fic for her. It's a different take than I usually see, probably not one I would have seen on my own, but an interesting take nonetheless. The writing itself is gorgeous, it's one of the few multiple pairing (or slut!Ino fic as the author calls it, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that, even if it may be true in this story) that didn't have me running screaming, instead it actually worked for the fic and every time Ino slept with someone new, no matter how hot it was, the ache in my fangirl chest wound tighter. It's a beautiful exploration of her character in a way that I'm not used to and more of that harsh lifestyle of the Naruto characters that fascinates me. (Some Ino/Sakura, some Ino/everyone.)

- Naruto - Mana Mana Meme Drabbles by gelfling8604 - I originally clicked on this to first read the two short Avatar fics, but then I went back to read the Naruto ones and... there are few authors who get the SasuNaru pairing like this one. Her short little fics pack such an incredible punch and have this darkness to them (without being too over the top, the feel right to the manga for me) that it nearly makes my teeth ache with the perfection of them. All these different ways things could happen, the way each of them is hard and difficult and hurts and yet there's still that connection, in the end it's Sasuke and Naruto and it's hard. That's just how I like my SasuNaru. There are other pairings (and I was surprised at how much I liked the one with Yondaime and Kakashi), but most of them are SasuNaru and it's the real reason you want to read this collection of shortfics. (Sasuke/Naruto, a little other.)

- Naruto - Daddy Dearest by Epiff Annie - I was just randomly surfing around FFNET while bored one night and I think I read some of the author's DGM fic (or set it aside to read at some point) and just happened to stumble over a Shikamaru/Ino story that had an interesting beginning. I rarely read fics unless they have a strong opening anymore and this one certainly caught my attention and kept it with the cute, fun, adorable ShikaIno dynamic that I really like. Plus, it's really funny to watch these two grow up together, to see Shikamaru's reactions to her and other people through his life, and then the very cute and funny relationship with Inochi, who was very fun to read about here. Just a nice fic that I'm glad to have come across, I don't get to read nearly enough ShikaIno, so I wanted something light and fun. :D (Shikamaru/Ino.)

- Naruto - Flames to Dust: 20 Truths by namistai8 - I never quite know what to think about this pairing, I usually tend to like both of them with other people, but... I was intrigued after having read the author's Host Club fic and I do like both Kakashi and Anko, so... what the hell, I gave it a shot. It's a very sparse sort of fic, it's very much like a list or a sketch of a fic, but I actually liked it for that reason, it shows how I think the Kakashi/Anko relationship would go if they were together. It's not nice, but it's not harsh, either. There's a sense of distance and holding themselves back, on both sides, yet a strong fire and intensity between them. The use of various other characters in Konoha (like Sasuke or Iruka or Jiraiya or Rin), only mentioned lightly, makes it even better. I came away from this fic, even as short as it was, liking the idea of the pairing even more. (Kakashi/Anko, implications of other pairings.)

- Naruto - Count on Me by namistai8 - [Note: Some spoilers for recent-ish manga events.] A few years back, I was vaguely interested in the potential of Kakashi/Kurenai (this was before Asuma/Kurenai really had much to go on in canon), but it never really went anywhere. The idea still lingers just a little, so I was curious to read this fic, especially after Asuma's death and I knew it wouldn't exactly be a happy fic. And the fic is indeed utterly heartbreaking, the language is beautiful, the Kakashi perspective as he watches Kurenai mourn and hurt and cry, he thinks of his own loss, and the author does it beautifully. The connections the author weaves between the two characters, the parallels between them, the sense of loss they both feel, it's all beautifully done. The final scene just... it made my fangirl heart just hurt, in the way that was so true to the series. (Kakashi/Kurenai that's really gen, Asuma/Kurenai, and Kakashi/Rin.)

- Naruto - Behind the Shelf by Tiamat's Child - This is an interesting look at Hinata and her life and even why she felt a connection to Naruto, a quiet little piece that reflects on how hard it is for her to not be as talented as her father wishes she were and how she misses someone being hard on her because it would make her stronger and because they believed in her. The first couple of paragraphs of this fic are really quite lovely and worth reading the fic for alone. (This is gen, but those who like Naruto/Hinata may also enjoy it.)

- Naruto - Half Truths and Whole Lies by Mistress DragonFlame - As a parody fic, this fic was kinda fun to read, and I'm usually willing to give just about any Iruka/Anko fic a shot. I generally prefer serious fics instead of cracky parodies, but there's hardly enough fic out there for me to be choosy about it. ^_~ I think my favorite part was the group's reactions to the idea of Iruka and Anko together, it was really kind of easy to see the scene in my head and it was funny. XD (Iruka/Anko, except not really.)

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