I know that some people have rec lists that include those stories they think first timers should read. A kind of “Beginner’s Guide” to a specific pairing or genre. I’ve wanted to do something similar for a long time. So I sat down and put together a list of recs.
But now that I’ve compiled this list I realize that it’s not quite what I intended it to be. Instead, it’s more a compilation of fics that got *me* reading a particular pairing; a kind of “high points” tour of my journey through the Buffy fandom. But hey, it’s still got a bunch of great fics on it. So I give it to you, and hope that if you haven’t read a pairing I mention here, you take a look at the fics I’ve recommended, and let me know if they open a doorway for you the same way they did for me.
The Fics That Made Me Love the Pairing
My OTP, so I get to pick three stories that I like from it. Besides, I think there's a lot of resistance to this pairing, which I always find a touch amusing, since those who are resistant are also usually huge S/X shippers, a match that doesn't look like it would ever work on paper either. Yet some how, both do. As a genre, I think B/G fics recognize that both Buffy and Giles are incredibly strong people who want someone equally strong to lean on, and the fics are about working out how to do that.
A Birthday Gift for Giles, by Susan MD (Btvs Season 4)
Susan creates an absolutely beautiful dynamic between Buffy & Giles here. Especially when they’re angry at each other, because it builds, carefully, on the relationship the two have in canon, and then adds just a little twist at the end . . . which is what I think the most successful of the genre fics has to do. It’s a short little thing, and really, no other plot summary is required after you read the title. Just go, read this precious little fic.
Warnings: None, really. I’d say it’s PG-13 at the most.
Poof, by Manic (Btvs Season 4)
The first page made me giggle. Still makes me giggle when I read it. It’s hard to find things that make me giggle – I’m told I have kind of a crap sense of humor. But Manic’s orange juice stuff seemed so perfectly hilariously Buffy to me. This is the “they have to do a spell” fic, but I think she writes the Giles objections so well, and the Buffy annoyance perfectly. And the rest? Well… read it and see.
Warnings: There’s sex in this one. And some cheating. And lots of sex. Heee.
Autumnal Equinox, by A. Haight (Btvs Season 3 – it’s like an alternate to Helpless)
This was one of the first b/g stories that helped me really define who I thought the characters could be in a relationship. I know, that sounds weird, but I think every pairing has certain potential that comes from the two characters together – something that makes the relationship unique. Anne’s fic creates a really unusual dynamic for Buffy and Giles, but it’s one that evens out the power balance I think most people worry about when they have problems with B/G. And it’s obvious that Anne adores both Buffy and Giles, something I really like. What’s the premise? Well, Buffy’s turned 18, and is going through some of those exciting mystical changes that always baffle us poor modern people.
Warnings: There’s definite sex in this one, but it isn’t like they’re jumping right into bed together as soon as the story starts. . . not that I mind that kind of thing!
This pairing runs a close second for me. Sadly there aren't many people who write either B/G or G/S. But those who do? Wooohoo! So you get two from this genre. I happen to think this pairing incorporates my favorite aspects of both these characters - Giles' ability to be both sweet and stern, intense and yet kind of awkward, Spike's desire to be a huge troublemaker and yet be comforted that he really is loved in the end.
This One Does, by Uberaeryn (Btvs Season 4 through Season 6)
Whatever you feel like reading off this page – this one is one of my all time favorites. Ok, fine, they all are, but seriously, GO, read this right now! Why? Well, first, because the link goes to Uberaeryn’s fic archive, and I’m not sure how long the LJ’s going to be around. And if I have to email you all a saved version of this story, I will, but life would be much easier if you’d just go read this. This is the best of the best of the best “Giles has Spike chained in his bathtub” stories. Because, seriously, WHY does the Watcher have chains?
Warnings: Oh, there’s sex in this one. Yummy sex. And there might be a little bloodplay, but it makes sense. And angst, and a bit of heartbreak, and a happy ending. You’ve been warned.
Behind Closed Doors, by Janedavitt (Btvs Post Season 5)
And then there’s Jane. She’s out of the fandom now, and I was sad to see her go, but she’s one of the most fabulous, scrumptious, steamy hot writers out there. And this is one of my favorites of her works. For me, in the same way that “This One Does” is the best of the best Giles has Spike chained in his bathtub stories, “Behind Closed Doors” is the best of the best “Giles and Spike post-Buffy’s jump off the tower”. The two are left behind - Spike who will always love Buffy, and Giles, who (in this case) will always love Buffy too (but very much in a fatherly-Watcher type way) - and find a way to go on after the woman who defined their lives is dead.
Warnings: This one’s a dom/sub relationship, and even though there’s occasional pain, it’s more emotional than physical. Although there are some punishments. Lots and lots of sex (not a surprise there!) and really incredible characterizations.
What slash list would be complete without this pairing? When I originally started reading fic, I wouldn't touch a S/X fic. I just didn't see the point. Until... until I was converted. I think, on the whole, this pairing generates some of the sweetest fics on the planet, whether Xander is Spike's caretaker, or Spike is Xander's protector, or they meet in the middle to save each other. Unlikely allies that often seem (at least once you've read enough of the pairing) to always be destined to be together in some form or another, that's S/X.
Letters, by Tabaqui (Post Season 6 Btvs, Ats Season 5)
Although this fic is structured around letters, it’s really what doesn’t get said that’s most important sometimes. And Tabaqui is a phenomenal writer who adores S/X, and I think you can get a feel for the pairing in the way she writes the two of them. Both hurt on some level, both looking to heal. What’s it all about? Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, when Spike comes back on AtS, he’s a bit at odd ends. Kind of like Xander might be after the end of Btvs.
Warnings: Again with the sex. Oh, also, there’s some violence, but it’s the R rated kind for the most part. And if you liked this, you should then march right out and read everything else Tabaqui’s ever written. It may take you a couple of weeks, or months, but trust me, it’s worth it too.
Subtleties, by Eliade (Post Season 6 … although technically it occurs in some AU world)
You’re going to be confused by this fic. You’re going to read the first couple of paragraphs and wonder what the heck I’ve gotten you into. You’ll try to tell me it’s not a fic. But then you read a further, and you find that it is a story, but it’s the strangest story ever. In fact, you might feel that way for the first third of the story. I certainly did. This particular work is entirely self-indulgent, entirely bizarre, yet at the same time it really works at the end. When I was done I was amazed that something so resonant came from such an inauspicious beginning.
Warnings: As usual, there’s the sex. Also Spike is a prostitute (which is totally WEIRD, I know, but seriously, try it. Try to go with it, you will be rewarded). There’s some serious angst, and some bondage/domination.
Ah, G/Wes, the first slash I'd ever read. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for these two being put together, if it's done well. I love that the best G/Wes brings them together as equals, but people who have made entirely different choices in their lives, even if they've run down similar looking paths. It goes beyond the whole 'two englishmen' mentality and into something that works on a complimentary level.
Invisible History, by versaphile (Btvs Season 3)
Versaphile captures all of the charm of awkward and regrettably passionate Season 3 Wesley, without stripping him of his convictions or making him completely insecure. And it’s Giles at his perceptive best. Instead of throwing these two characters together because she wants to, and working out the compatibility details afterwards, Versaphile plays on their interests, their personalities, and brings them together softly, sweetly, and oh so well. It starts with Wesley, after a particularly evil training session with two Slayers who did their best to beat him up.
Warnings: Hmmm, not really a single one. PG-13 rating, I think.
A Grief Too Deep for Tears, by Sottovoice10 (Post Season 6 Btvs, Post Wesley taking Angel’s son in Ats)
One of my all time favorite Watcher stories. First off, because Sottovoice explores something that’s barely hinted at in the series (but there are hints of it in certain places): the fact that the Watchers are somehow mystically linked, and that there are more things they provide than simply research. She explores the idea that Watchers have a kind of monastic commitment – I often wonder if she considered them like the knights templar in a sense. Wesley appears on Giles’ doorstep in London after having lost Connor, and asks for something complex that’s not quite solace, not quite penance, and not quite friendship.
Warnings: It’s hard to explain this one. There’s sex, but it’s more hurt/comfort than anything else.
Promise of Frost, by Eurydice
What can I say about Eurydice? She actually saved Spike for me. I’d gotten so tired of the painful and angst-ridden relationship Spike & Buffy had through Season 6 and 7 that I couldn’t stand the thought of reading the pairing. Until I read her fic. The only thing that will probably be a little freaky is how many chapters she writes – practically every one of her fics is close to book length. Do not start this at 2 am and expect to get sleep! Because you will want to finish it, not leave things hanging, and it’s going to take you time to be able to do that. This particular fic is one of her most adorable. It’s a holiday story, and Spike and Buffy are abducted to guard over a very special girl. The other great thing about Eurydice? She’s fabulous with villains and new characters, so even they don’t seem wooden.
Warnings: . . . what, you were expecting this wouldn’t have sex? HA! But other than that, not a one. This is an incredibly sweet fic.
Alone in a Barroom, by Uberaeryn (Ats after Spike becomes corporeal)
Uberaeryn got me reading Spike/Angel. And not because of the whole sweet/comfort aspect of the relationship. No, she made me love them for their snark. While other Spike pairings S/X, S/B, S/G, and other pairings mentioned above can be lovable and endearing, sometimes I think they give up on the pure silly factor in order to write the more squishy story. Not these two, though. And not with Uberaeryn. No, instead she gives you hilarity, goofy, vintage brood and then something so bittersweet that it strikes you all the more because of all the snark that came before it. This is, I think, one of her signature S/A fics. It’s Spike and Angel, together, having a drink.
Warnings: There’s definitely sex. Oh my yes. So there.
Act of Nature, by Janedavitt and Wesleysgirl (Btvs Post-Series)
I thought I was never going to read Giles/Xander. Really. I thought that Giles/Xander was not the pairing for me. And yet. elizabuffy recommended this to me, actually quoting pieces of it to me until I threw my metaphorical hands up and gave in. And for a pairing I thought I would never be able to get my head around, boy did this fic draw me up short! I’ve already gushed about Jane earlier, and what you, my dear reader, need to understand is that the dynamic duo of Janedavitt and Weslesgirl make fiction magic. Xander has been fixing up a retreat house for the new slayers when Giles brings him some bad news (don’t worry, that mystery is solved almost immediately)
Warnings: Well, of course, by this point you’re noticing a trend. There’s sex. There’s a bit of angst, but it never gets too hard to handle, just makes you want to read the next paragraph.
It Could Happen, by thebratqueen
Just a short, sweet little fic that tells you all you need to know about why Faith thinks she and Giles could work. It’ll take you five minutes to read it, and if you don’t get why the thought of the two of them together works at the end, then . . . well, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. It’s set sometime in the high school days, but since we never really knew how old Faith was, I don’t think you need to be afraid of that whole thing.
Warnings: um, there’s some PG-13 or so action, but nothing too hot and heavy. You’ll see.
Tiger-Man, by A. Haight
On the other hand, Anne takes the same concept and spins it out just right. Oh yeah. This is fairly PWP, but worth it. A little PWP with teeth, I’d say. It’s one of those spins on Faith’s ‘hungry and horny’ adage. Really, who can resist a girl who’s got such uncomplicated views on things like that?
Warnings: rough sex. Ha.
Quick & Bitter, Slow & Sweet by Miss Murchison
You’re sitting there wondering, on what planet would this pairing work? And I’m here to tell you, on the planet where Miss Murchison lives. Some of my favorite Spike fics are the ones where he shows his vulnerable side, and Tara’s just the girl to bring it out of him. Really. This fic takes place when Tara and Willow have broken up because of the magic use, which should be Season 6, but it’s also a little AU. Tara has a demon problem, and on the way to Buffy’s house she runs into Spike and asks him to help her instead.
Warnings: Miss Murchison creates a Spike with multiple-personality disorder, kinda. It’s a little off-putting, but she does it for a reason, and I think that reason works. Also, there’s the sex, but you knew that was coming, right? The first chapter is in italics, which is weird, but it’s only the first chapter.
His Voice is like a Mars Bar; He's the light in her fridge; He Ate a Decorator Once by DutchBuffy
This pairing puts two of my favorite Btvs characters, put together. I clicked on the first of these stories because of the title. Who could resist that title? And then I kept reading because DutchBuffy has a bit of a lyrical turn of phrase, and because it’s pretty amazing what she does with these two. They’re both so wounded that it hurts to read at times, and as much as they help each other they have the potential to hurt each other too. Makes so much sense.
Warnings: Well, depending on what chapter you’re reading, there’s a great deal to warn about. There’s sex, there’s cheating, there’s torture, there’s weird possession. It sounds horrible doesn’t it? But there’s plenty of goodness in between, so don’t be afraid.
Nexus, by Rakasha
What to say about this? Once again, a pairing I never thought I’d touch with a ten foot pole. Really. Who else would think it could work? And this isn’t even really a Xander/Angel fic, it’s Xander/Angelus. This is probably not a fic someone new to reading slash should touch. On the other hand, Rakasha plays with canon divinely, does some of the best hurt/comfort on the planet, and completely sold me on these two by the time I was at chapter 12. The premise? What if Angelus had decided to capture Xander in Season 3? He is a vampire, and he knows how much it would hurt Buffy, and Xander really is the weak link sometimes. Until he’s not.
Warnings: OH BOY. Rape, torture, dom/sub, and there’s a chapter or two that I read once and will never read again. That being said, sometimes you have to go through a lot of hurt to get to the insanely good comfort, and it really does come around, promise.
Lessons in Cool: That Music Thing and Lessons in Cool: Being John Wayne by tesla321 and dessert_first
I’d read this ages ago. One of those times when I felt like reading something different. And it was. Especially because I have trouble imagining Oz in a pairing, period. He’s just not someone I voluntarily read. Yet, here you are, a little different and entirely sweet little tale. Something about young boys, something about the wonder in this story, just touched me. I haven’t read much of anything else in this pairing, just little things here and there. But this is the story that made me understand how very adorable these two could be with each other. Oz gives Xander a guitar lesson the summer that Buffy’s gone.
Warnings: Well, I’m certainly not going to stop with the sex now! Other than that, the only other warning is that the second part, Being John Wayne, occurs after the timeline has ostensibly shifted back to canon, and after the whole Xander/Willow debacle.
Finally, if you haven’t gotten enough loving yet, here’s the threesomes that, for me, define what it means to write a threesome. I’d say these are definitely not for those who are just now beginning to read slash, not unless you want to just dive right in head first. BUT, if you’re like me, nothing’s out of bounds, and so, here you go. Be boundless.
Thrall, by Uberaeryn
Goofy, silly, unrepentant, adorable, and finally, hot. More Uberaeryn snark. More Uberaeryn sex. More of Uberaeryn’s Angel, who I love beyond any other Angel I’ve read. Xander is the liaison to the Wolfram and Heart group for the Watcher’s council.
Warnings? You don’t need no stinking warnings, do you? Seriously, boy sex, threesome, corruption, but it’s all harmless fun.
Saturation and Perversion, by Janedavitt and Wesleysgirl
It’s the dynamic duo. They can do no wrong. Giles and Xander are in England, in a relationship, and a human (post Shanshu) Spike shows up on their doorstep. Greatness ensues. Yummy hurt/comfort ensues.
Warnings? Um, there’s angst? OH, and sex. Lots of sex. I know, you’re tired of it at this point, aren’t you?
Angel/Wes (with Spike)
The Pet, by TheBratQueen
OH dear god, there’s nothing like an epic to really make a girl shudder. And this lovely, almost dark and yet never really painful, story will probably pick you up and keep you hopping to it’s tune. It’s set in the days before the final battle with Wolfram and Heart, and kicks off with this fabulous little ficlet that will leave you drooling, but develops into a kind of twisted tale of love and redemption for both Wes and Angel, with Spike thrown in.
Warnings? BSDM of the best kind. Angel’s the dom. Spike’s his family, Wesley’s his.