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- 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 - Past Legends by rayemars - I often grump (quietly to myself, for the most part, I think) that there's not enough Sannin fic out there, so seeing a lovely piece like this, one that plays on all the facets of these three legendary people, it's such a beautiful treat. I love the team feeling they had here, making that you know what's going to happen later, all that more poingnant, knowing that Jiraiya's poems for Tsunade will never lead anywhere (god, that was so clever, it fit with the character so damn well), that Orochimaru's feelings for Tsunade will never make a difference, not really, that Jiraiya and Orochimaru could never quite make it work. I love it because it brings even more of a three-dimensional quality and depth to the characters, that it weaves together brilliantly with what we know of the characters, that you get to see more of each character here, but the punches aren't really pulled. Jiraiya is still Jiraiya and Tsunade is still Tsunade and Orochimaru is still Orochimaru. And, man, when Tsunade kept the little keepsakes from both of them, when she reread Jiraiya's poems and buried Orochimaru's earring, that fucking ripped my heart out and made me want to cry right there. Beautiful fic. (Jiraiya/Orochimaru/Tsunade in various forms.)

- 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 - 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 - 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 - Second Time Around by Sunfreak - How is it that I've missed so many of Sunfreak's fics? She was one of the authors who was writing good stuff back when I was first getting into the fandom and I was desperate for more and yet... I missed a Jiraiya/Tsunade fic by her until now? Sheesh. Anyway. This is a fantastic fic, the way Was and Could Have Been and Might Be all weave together in Tsunade's view, the way it highlights how their lives aren't perfect, how maybe they could have been, maybe should have been, but they're not, and it's not an entirely bad place to be. She does Tsunade fantastically, the long and history-laden relationship she has with Jiraiya, never forgetting the other people in her life, but not making this a pale comparison. I have such love for Naruto relationships that aren't quite perfect but somehow still work. ♥ (Jiraiya/Tsunade.)

- 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 - Fifteen by sna - As the author's notes say, it'd be good to read (or at least be aware of the circumstances of) "Butterfly in Reverse", as this is sort of a side-story/expansion to that fic, but it can stand on its own, too. Now, it's been an hour since I read the fic when I'm trying to write this rec and it's going to be difficult, because I could toss out compliments to the author's writing or the characterization or the way she builds this amazingly intense atmosphere and I'd mean every single thing I said. But that doesn't make for a distinctive rec. Not that what I'm going to do is any better, but... err, at least I'm aware of it? Anyway. An hour later, what stays with me the strongest about this fic is indeed that intense atmosphere, the way everything felt like it was being pulled tighter and tighter, almost like it was a physical sensation. The other thing that stayed with me is the way the author wrote the story, this light touch of something that's almost stream-of-conscious, but not exactly because it's very linear and clear. It's... it's feelings more than actions and emotions are such a difficult thing to get into a story, to write it so that you feel like you could actually be in the story rather than just watching it, so that there's this sense of jagged emotions that nearly hurt, all without crossing the line over into over-the-top or pretentious. The author doesn't just state that Kakashi and Rin are screwed up or that they care for each other but Kakashi keeps Obito's ghost between them or that they have trouble being happy because of all the shit they've gone through in the past, instead she brings that through amazingly well in each little movement they make or the way their thoughts swirl and never quite connect with each other. Yet, at the same time, there's such care and history there, it's not a cold and distant relationship, it's complicated and messy and aching and it's brilliant. I wish there could be more fic like this, even if it would eventually make me want to burst into tears. (Kakashi/Rin.)

- 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 - 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 - Right Enough by sna - So, I've mentioned that I have this thing for Kakashi/Rin, yes? Because there's something about the pairing that appeals to me, something about the character, even with what little we know of her, that would fit with Kakashi, someone to ground him in that way he needs, yet can still shuffle through the morass of complications that is Kakashi. And this fic does a really fantastic job of showing that... even if things went as right as they could, even if Kakashi and Rin hurt and heal each other in equal parts just by being there, even if they're absolutely necessary to each other, it's never going to be idyllic and... yeah, I love that about Naruto. Even when they're in love and they're good for each other, it still hurts and that comes through beautifully in the writing. This is the kind of fic that just makes me fall even further in love with this pairing, because they FIT here, both with each other and the series in general. And I know a fic is good and I love the pairing when it can make my little fangirl heart ache. ;__; (Kakashi/Rin.)

- 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 - 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 - 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: Moonswallowed by Empatheia - Well, as long as I was reading Naruto fic tonight, I figured I might as well click on this one as well. What I like about it is that the author nicely captured the sense of history between Tsunade and Jiraiya, but without weighing down every little thing they said to each other. I especially liked that it skirted that line of being possibly something more that never quite happened with them, while keeping Tsunade's temper and Jiraiya genuinely being kind of scared of her. P-plus, the ending... ;___; It's not a bad ending, it's just... if it fits with canon the way it's kind of meant to.... (Not quite Jiraiya/Tsunada, but not not Jiraiya/Tsunade, either.)

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