1. Madison Talks to Statues - Rosmarinus
This is one of the first stories I came across while in my first flush of CSI Miami obsession and started hunting fics. Actually, I came across the sequel (Little Miss Madison) which was about Horatio and Madison and started out really cute...then I saw it was a sequel so I quick hopped back to read story #1. Not only did it give me a recommendation for a great song (Jimmy Buffet, 'Delaney Talks to Statues'), I've read it so many times since then that I could tell the whole story to someone else without missing any major points. It's just the cutest story - fulfills the deepest of fluffy reserves in my wishful heart: Horatio babysitting his niece for a week. 24/7 interaction with the most adorable little girl ever, an acting father figure. Ohhh, nice.
I fully expect this story's sequel to sweep the Horatio-centric category in this year's CSI fanfic awards. Steamrollering my own contribution in the process, of course, but hey, I'm cool with that. ;)
2. Shades of Gray - Randomwriting
Randomwriting is single-handedly responsible for turning me into a Speed/Calleigh shipper. Jonestly, in this story - he and Calleigh rebuilding a broken marriage from the brink of divorce - there is just such emotion and BEAUTIFUL imagery, and I find myself reading it over and over again. And to think - I read it even though I was neither into S/C nor multi-chapter fics, simply because after a few days of seeing it pop to the top of the page, I could no longer resist the enticing summary:
Clarity is sometimes found by sifting through the gray.
3. Shatter - Puckk
WHY HAS ONLY ONE OTHER PERSON REVIEWED IT?! I am pretty sure that this oneshot is the best piece of myserious word art ever written in the category, and may never be surpassed. It's just...wow. I wished I'd written it. It's phenomenal. It's Eric-centric, and I really can't come up with any words to describe it better than the summary:
Dreams are your mind making connections, making pieces fit. But for Eric, nothing makes sense any more. Not with Marisol. Not after Speed.
4. Girl, It's Alive in You - Temet Nosce
Okay, for starters, she writes poetic prose. Not prose poems, but ridiculously (in a good way) poetic prose. Sometimes I suspect she speaks in poetry, it so permeats all of her work. And this story is the first one I ever read in the category, the first one I printed for my binder's collection, the one I have actually read so many times that I *very* nearly have it memorized. Honestly, I recite it when I need to pass time. It's just an amazing Calleigh character study.
5. Solitude - Totemdancer
Strictly speaking, it's a sort of AU about Horatio and Calleigh, but names are never mentioned so you'd have to know that in advance, or at least be told what fandom it was in in order to guess. This story literally DRIPS OFF THE PAGE in terms of imagery and breathtaking description. It takes forever to read, though it's only a few pages, because I want to savor every sentence. Oh, and it also makes me cry. Oh, I swore that I would always write an effective summary for anything I recommended...but I can't do it. Can't do it justice. Go read for yourself.
6. Crystal - Neteret
Technically, this is chapter 6 of a series of standalones about Horatio and various original-character women, grouped under one NC-17 story entitled "Horatio's Harem." It was mentioned & praised in the Horatio thread on Talk CSI, so I checked it out even though I ordinarily avoid stories of that rating like the plague. I skipped and skimmed with slightly blurred eyes; yeah, most of it I didn't like. But then I got to this chapter, and I stopped and READ. I mean, I'm almost ashamed to admit I like it. Crystal's a prostitute, and the sex is rough and on the verge of violent. But it's not really explicit - this chapter is only worth a rating of R. The author's description is breathtaking, atmospheric details so clear you can step right into the scene. And even though it's a different side of Horatio - it's not, really. You can see how it works - once in a while, "he got tired of caring so much." He escapes Miami, escapes Florida altogether, leaves behind the suffocating need to protect everyone from everything and just forget responsibility. And it's BELIEVABLE. However...I really wouldn't recommend anyone under the age of 18 reading it, because I'm fairly prudish, myself, and I know that even a year ago, no matter how well recommended this came, I wouldn't have been able to stand it. But still...
7. By the Sounding Sea/Yon Drear & Rigid Bier/On a Blue Burst of Lake - series by bookwrangler
I swore I would never read an OC character fic. I swore they were horrible and pointless and I'd never ever stand for it...but then one day in the middle of summer, I was bored, and nobody was writing stories about Horatio, so in desperate search of fluff I picked up the story that was being updated constantly (second in the series above). I oriented myself after a few chapters, and since then the story has only grown on me. Not only does she write really, really sweet scenes with Horatio (some happy, some angsty), and her character, Annabel McGinty, is instantly captivating. I could have lived without the Marisol storyline if Annabel had been around. For emphasis, I'd like to repeat the part about "really, really sweet scenes between Horatio and Annabel." But never cheesy or out of character; always believeable. Her dialogue is really spectacular.
And then there are a few I just want to name-drop off the top of my head, real quick..."Accusation" (Ssergit) and "Lost Soul" (Totemdancer) are a great pair of Horatio-centric post-eps for, respectively, the season 2 & 3 finales (the former probably the most realistic Horatio/Yelina interaction I've ever found), and because it would be criminal to end this category without mention of Marisol, the prize for best writer of that pair would go to Ragna, and her 5-part "exploration of a relationship through the 5 senses" for the Stages of Love challenge somewhere around here on LJ....oh, I guess here would be the easiest place to go.
1. All Fall Down - Wintertime
Summarized in one line: A plot to frame Grissom for rape and ruin his repuation spins out of control, and becomes a gruesome destruction of his life, thanks to a sadistic signature killer named Matthew Flowers and his mysterious financier.
This is one of the first stories I read in the fandom, when I was going down gglovebug's rec list at grissomsararomance.com. OH MY HOLY LORD. Not only could I not stop reading it, I couldn't sleep for about an hour afterwards because it got into my brain and I felt like it was REAL. I was shaking when I finished. I've never read such a violent story. (a richly deserved all-around R-rating, that one) And yet, it's SO well written. Beautiful characterization, compelling mystery, and gripping religious-symbolism paralells, the whole story split into four parts to match up with the lines of a child's poem that becomes ominous and which you will never again see the same way.
I dare you to read chapter 1 and not get hooked from the first paragraph.
2. The "Forty Years" poems - Kestin Stewart
(Forty Years in the Life of Gil Grissom/Forty Years in the Life of Sara Sidle.)
Like the above, some of the first stuff I read, on recommendation. Each poem is, you guessed it, 40 lines long. It's GSR, in a manner of speaking, if it took them 37 years to finally admit their feelings. And EVERY SINGLE TIME I read one or both, I end up crying. So tragic. And...*looks it up online to find the link* OH MY GOD she removed all her stories from ff.net. WTF?! And for good measure..."?!?!?" Lucky thing I have them printed off, and I even transcribed them by hand word-for-word in my journal because they were so good...
I am now too depressed to mention any more CSI stories.
1. These Old Anchors - Temet Nosce
One of if not *the* first NCIS story I ever read, and either the best or the second-best one ever. It's a great bunch of scenes showcasing the evolution of the Gibbs & Abby relationship, from the day they met to them finally getting together. But written in such a brilliant, dreamy way that lines of it repeated in my head for days. I can still quote passages.
2. One Easy Payment - Temet Nosce
This one, though, is vying for first place. It's vying for first place among ALL the stories I've read. I've been forcing people to read it even if they've never heard of NCIS, because I think it's that good and speaks for itself. She plays with every literary device I can think of. A quote from Shakespeare, to sum it up and start it out. The story starts with three sentences before the title. And then there's one sentence - This is a story about survival - that is repeated as a section break, but each time, it loses a word. *groans* I cannot properly communicate what this story does to me. I can almost recite this one, too. I really, really love this author - I keep finding stories I love, just searching through the site, and it's only after I read them and mark them with stars that I realize they keep linking back to the same person...
Do me a favor, and click on the link to her name. Read the page down, read the titles and summaries. It's like one gigantic poem. It gives me glee spasms and makes me want to read everything, even the stuff for shows I've never seen.
3. Locks & Socks - Caliga
It's quick, cute, amusing, and may have been the first NCIS story I ever read. So it has a special place in my heart.
4. To Build a Boat - Wiccagirl24
Best post-Hiatus fic I've read: "She's waiting for him to return, and while she waits she's teaching herself to build a boat." But it's really, really gorgeous word art. Abby centric with a bend towards Gibbs, of course, just the way I like it. :)
Okay, I'm going to skip the other categories for now, as I am growing tired, but I just want to quickly mention three more novel-esque stories that I'm in love with:
X-Files: Hurricane Season (Beduini & Rah)
It took me forever to ferret this out online, and I don't even remember how I did. This was a WIP once-upon-a-time, recommended by The Haven (like many an old site, now defunct, sigh), and I took a chance even though it was NC-17 and I was 16 at the time, because it came so highly recommended. And had a really pretty fanart banner on the top.
It's a fluffsome Mulder-Scully-baby fic, about a week spent with the Scully clan at her mother's beach house for the last week of summer. It's all about love and relationships and family. No government conspiracies or anything supernatural at all. I just remember how this story enchanted me during the early days of fall one year; I'd read chapters before heading off to school in the morning...and yeah, it's definitely NC-17. I blurred my eyes and cut those segments out, so I've forgotten exactly what's in them (I never read it all, only skimmed enough to delete it), but I remember they were bad. I'll be happy to provide you with a version in which all F and S words plus graphic descriptions of sex are seamlessly removed. Otherwise...this story is simply amazing. It's a cozy place to come back to, whenever one gets too depressed over the way the Mulder and Scully relationship didn't happen in season 9.
In Hiding and On the Road, Leah Kate's masterpieces. These stories firmly cemented me in the "Skate" side of the "Who will Kate choose?" debate that waged war straight through season 2, whereas before I had merely been ambivalent. It completely sells me on the relationship. And even though there are approximately 6,375 sex scenes (conservative estimate), not explicit but serious R ratings (I will never use the fictionpress ratings system! Never!), it's a compelling story, and a great handle on this relationship, and frankly? At times - okay MOST OF THE TIME - I am more interested in this storyline than I am in the show. I see stuff on the show, like in "The Long Con," and I think "that looks like something out of Leah Kate's story..." Or in the season premiere, that dress. First thing I thought of, despite how modern and low cut this one is, the first thing I thought of was "THAT DAMN DRESS FROM THE ATTIC..."
The story and sequel, combined, have netted over a thousand reviews on the ff.net alone. And I know it's posted other places too. It even has a FANLISTING. How many fanfiction stories do you that get a fanlisting? I actually almost never read Lost fic - there's just too much of it - but this one came so highly recommended.
...wow. I just realized that as far as Lost goes, I don't ever browse. I just read work exclusively by her and mrstater (She will always be the goddess of the fandom to me; her Sayid/Shannon stories are sweet ambrosia)
Okay. The end. Hope you enjoyed that. Hope someone enjoyed/enjoys it in the future, anyway. I'm not even sure anyone is reading this. Hm. RS should make more friends via LJ.