First, I want to thank you for writing a fic for me and for taking the time to have a look at this letter. I will probably repeat quite a few things that are also in my optional details. Basically I will list a few general likes and dislikes, an overly long list of tropes I enjoy, as well as sections about the different fandoms and characters I requested, including some hopefully not too constraining prompts. Obviously I don't expect you to include every single thing that I mention in this letter, I don't even think that would be possible. I just thought I'd make this as detailed as possible and give you the possibility to pick and choose which of these things also appeal to you as a writer. I figured that would be more helpful than if I only listed three things I enjoy and made you despair if you hate all of those three things.
As a result this letter turned out very long, both because I ramble a lot and because many people like long letters. However, I do know that some people find long letters more intimidating/annoying than helpful. If that is the case with you, dear Yuletide writer, I would just ask you to have a look at my general Want and Do Not Want lists at the top of the letter, and maybe glance at the fandom-specific prompts to see if any of those inspire you. :)
Things I like:
- I like slash: For all of my requested fandoms, I ship the two characters I requested with each other. I like porn as much as I like more subtle sexual tension, I like first time fics and established relationships, I like fluffy vanilla sex with cuddles and filthy smut. I don't mind receiving gen if you don't ship my ships, but I'd still like there to be some sort of focus on the characters' relationship, even if it's not a romantic/sexual relationship in your fic. Also, I adore plotty fics in which a bunch of other things happen to my ship as well, so you don't have to write only romance (but you can, if you like).
- I also like: character studies, pieces about my favourite characters interacting with each other, their thoughts and opinions on each other, their first meetings and first impressions (especially if we don't get to see the beginnings of their relationship in canon), background stories about a character's past, missing scenes from canon, fics that explore why the characters made the choices they made in canon, plotty future/post-canon fics that explore where these characters are going, plotty what-if fics that explore what would have happened if a character had made a different choice, fics from a different POV than usual in canon, fics from an outside POV …
- I would love to receive smut in my fic, but I'd rather not get a complete PWP. There is, however, no need to include porn if you don't like to write porn or if it just doesn't fit into your fic.
- I'm fine with dark themes (violence, angst, depression, whatever you need for the plot, I have no particular triggers), but I'd prefer if my fic wasn't completely tragic. A bit of hope would be nice, and I'd rather my favourite characters/ships get a happy ending, even if they have to go through terrible things before they get it.
Things I do not like:
- major character death, especially of my favourite characters, and completely tragic/dark endings
- complete AUs (canon-divergence is fine, but no high school AUs, coffee shop AUs etc.). The only exception: I like daemon fics a lot. (As in His Dark Materials daemons. Never mind if you're not familiar with or don't like the concept.)
- I'm quite OTP-ish about my ships, so I don't want to read about these characters paired off with someone else. If you don't ship my requested characters with each other, I would prefer to receive a gen fic rather than a fic with a different ship.
- genderbend fics of any kind, mpreg, A/B/O, characters being vampires/werewolves/anything but human (unless they already aren't human in canon).
- I have a major pet peeve for phrases like "the blond one said this", "the taller man did that", "the soldier replied". Please use people's names and pronouns.
Other tropes and kinks I like:
Feel free to skip this part and go right to the fandom-specific stuff if you don't like long letters. There's absolutely no need to include any of these, but if they generally fit into your fic and if they're things that you like to write about, I would love it if you included any of the following themes/tropes/kinks.
- themes like loyalty, codependency, obsession, trust, and commitment issues
- characters dealing with moral dilemmas, having to question their principles, or simply wanting to do things they think they shouldn't be doing. This can be anything from "doing this would shake my entire worldview" to "maybe I shouldn't screw my boss".
- intimacy, familiarity, people learning/knowing about each other's everyday habits/hang-ups
- difficulties to express feelings verbally and non-verbal expressions of affections
- age differences
- protectiveness/going ballistic when the other one is threatened
- hurt/comfort, taking care of each other
- other people assuming the two characters are a couple (especially when they aren't yet)
- sharing food/drinks/cigarettes/clothes
- clothes fetishisation (sex between a dressed and an undressed person; one of them having a thing for the other's clothes (tailored suits, uniforms, leather gloves/boots/jackets, silk shirts etc.); people dressing/undressing each other; someone casual cleans up nicely, someone who's always prim and proper looks dishevelled for once)
- asphyxiation/breathplay, touching/kissing/biting/petting the other's throat/neck, oversensitive necks, hickeys, marking
- characters losing control in bed (speechlessness, whimpering, moaning, shivering, begging)
- messiness (sweat, come play, dishevelled clothes, dishevelled hair, breathlessness etc.)
- first time sex (i.e. first time between the two characters; exploring each other's bodies, finding out slowly what the other one likes)
- small gestures of affection/casual touching/discreet PDA; accidental touching/stimulation
- seduction (sweet talking, dirty talk, teasing, eyefucking)
- sexual fantasies, daydreaming, masturbation, especially before the characters get together
- massages, backrubs, stroking the other's hair
- friction, frottage, intercrural (anal is fine, too, obviously)
- banter/teasing (during sex and otherwise)
- competence kink/admiration
- body worship, people being madly attracted to each other, getting distracted because they're staring at each other
- scars and their history
- hand fetish (strong/soft/rough/calloused/gentle hands, long fingers, handling guns/knives/cigarettes etc., kissing the other's wrists/fingers)
- beards and stubble (especially on people who are usually clean-shaven), beard burn on the other person's cheek/neck/thighs …
- voice/accent kink
- oral fixation (licking/biting one's lips, drinking from beer bottles, smoking)
- oral sex, rimming
- light bondage/restraints (pinning someone down, holding their wrists, holding their mouth shut with one hand, blindfolds), light D/s overtones (ordering the other to undress, to kneel, to hold still etc.)
- sex on tables/sofas/against walls etc. (sex in beds is great too)
- sleep-related themes (sharing a bed, falling asleep on the other's shoulder, waking the other, having dreams about each other, comforting the other after nightmares etc.)
About my fandoms:
Rivers of London
Thomas Nightingale, Peter Grant
I only read these books this year, but I'm absolutely in love with them. I love the setting, I'm incredibly fond of many of the characters, I'm crazy about Peter and Nightingale's relationship, and I really love Peter's narration style (the self-deprecation, the irony, the pop culture references, his love for London and for architecture). I ship Nightingale/Peter and would love to get a shippy fic about them (or at least some UST/slowly getting there), but I wouldn't mind receiving gen if you don't ship them. However, if you write gen, I would like it if the fic still focused at least somewhat on their relationship, on how much they mean to each other, how much they've changed each other's life etc.
I love worldbuilding for this fandom, especially anything related to the history of the Folly (because I love the Folly a lot), Peter's admiration (fanboycrush) for Nightingale gives me life, I like it when Peter and Nightingale are both being emotionally constipated and not very good at talking about their feelings and probably misunderstanding each other quite a bit (although I would like if they figured things out eventually and got a happy ending), and I'd love anything dealing with Nightingale's very probable PTSD and depression and loneliness (and how having Peter with him helps at least somewhat).
I also like many other characters in the books and wouldn't mind at all if they appeared in the fic. This goes especially for Seawoll (love the guy more than is probably healthy and am massively intrigued by his visceral, extremely personal dislike for Nightingale), Stephanopoulos, Dr Walid, Guleed, Kumar, Postmartin, Frank Caffrey, and really anyone who has anything to do with the Met or the Folly. I'm not all that interested in the Rivers (but I do like Oberon), and while I like Lesley just fine, I'd prefer if the fic wasn't half about her (although I'm perfectly fine with her appearing/getting mentioned).
A few prompt ideas, feel free to use and combine these in any way that works for you:
- any sort of first time/get together fic. I think it's obvious that they care about each other a lot, but they're both not the most emotionally available people and they're both very aware of the hierarchical differences between them, so I'd be extremely interested to see how they would ever move from their friendly, but professional relationship to a romantic one. I could see it happening after one of them was hurt/abducted/almost killed/otherwise in danger and the other had to acknowledge his feelings, but I'd also be happy to see other scenarios. (One little caveat: I'm not a huge fan of the "they got drunk (or there was sex pollen or a sex spell) and fucked and now they have to deal with the consequences" trope.)
- anything domestic. I want to see all the details about their life together. Their breakfast conversations. Their Latin lessons. Exasperated Nightingale trying to teach Peter something while Peter gets distracted. Peter showing Nightingale weird shit on the internet and Nightingale being all "you are not serious, this is not a thing people do". Nightingale telling Peter about stuff people used to do when Nightingale was young and Peter thinks Nightingale is pulling his leg. Playful banter over a beer at the pub. Comfortable silences while Nightingale watches rugby in the coach house and Peter sits next to him reading stuff on the internet. I have a thing for how easily they settle into each other's lives and routines, how they get used to each other's habits and how they become such a central part of each other's lives.
- I have a soft spot for Nightingale saving Peter when Peter is in danger. I'd especially like to see the fall-out from this: Nightingale being shaken after almost losing the last person he has left in the world, maybe getting a little emotional (for his standards) but trying not to show it; Peter realising just how much Nightingale cares about him and so on. If you'd rather have Peter save Nightingale for once, that'd be interesting, too.
- I'm very fascinated by Nightingale's past. Either flashbacks or Nightingale telling Peter about his past, about previous cases he worked, about his family or friends or colleagues, about his time at Casterbrook, about what the Folly used to be like before the war, about his life after the war etc.
- if you like to write plotty longfic, I'd love to see them work a case in the style of the books. If you combine this with any of the stuff above, all the better. Ghosts? Werewolves? Demons? Horrible murders? Someone is mindcontroling powerful people? A weird magical disease breaks out? Secret books or other dangerous items get stolen? Someone tried to break into the Folly? Something from Nightingales's past comes back to haunt him? The Faceless Man made his next move? I'd also be intrigued by any combination of supernatural and modern elements (the internet/TV equivalent of the Rivers, any supernatural being using the internet for supernatural crimes, industrialised magic, ghost hackers, cyberpunk demons, whatever you can come up with – anything that will require Nightingale's knowledge of the supernatural and Peter's knowledge of the modern world).
- this is slightly cracky and I have no idea what you'd have to do to make this work (visions? dreams? weird time travel accident?), but I'd love for Peter to see the pre-war Folly somehow, and maybe see (meet?) pre-war Nightingale and his friends; do what you want with this. I'd even go for a total AU in which Peter was born in the early 20th century and becomes Nightingale's apprentice in the 20s/30s and everyone at the Folly is scandalised because Peter isn't white and the Folly was kind of a wealthy white guy club, and Nightingale doesn't really care because he's fond of Peter.
A few fandom-specific Do-Not-Wants:
- I firmly headcanon Nightingale as gay (and not repressed about it), so please nothing about Nightingale being attracted to women.
- I'm fine with Peter briefly mentioning his attraction to other people the way he does in canon, if it's necessary for the plot/narration, but I'd rather not get a fic in which Peter constantly goes on about being into Lesley/Beverley/etc.
- I like the plot twist at the end of Broken Homes for what it is.[Spoiler (click to open)]I've seen theories about Lesley having been undercover or having secret plans to bring down the Faceless Man or having been mind-controlled, but I'd prefer not to have those as a part of my gift.
A note on Foxglove Summer: I plan on reading Foxglove Summer as soon as it comes out, so you won't have to worry about including spoilers. If it inspires any new prompts (or, on the other hand, a visceral "I do not want this part of canon in my fic" reaction), I will update my letter then, but obviously I don't expect you to include anything from Foxglove Summer in the fic if you're not planning on reading it right away or if you just don't want to wait until you've read the new book before you get started on your fic. :)
Update, now that I've read Foxglove Summer:[Spoiler for Foxglove Summer]Feel free to include plot elements or any elements of Nightingale's past that we found out about in Foxglove Summer. Or if you want anyone calling Peter Nightingale's starling again, I'm definitely here for that. :D If you want to set your fic post-Foxglove Summer, that's cool. Buuuut I really didn't like the Peter/Beverley subplot at all, so I would be very grateful if we could pretend that never happened. And I'm kind of tired of Beverley after this book since she already played such a big role in it (and like I said, I don't care much for the Rivers), so I'd rather not have her appear in my gift fic. Thank you. :)
Welcome to the Punch
Max Lewinsky, Jacob Sternwood
I love this movie because I really love its take on the “enemies forced to work together” trope (and because I love action movies and I adore Mark Strong). I'm so intrigued by Max's obsession with Jake and by how his view of him changes once they're forced to work together, once he actually meets Jake as a person and not just as this ghost he's hunting, and also by Jake developing such a strong attachment to a guy who wants to lock him up. I think it's one of the few movies that could have done with being ten minutes longer because then it could have given us a bit more character development and a few more scenes that explicitly address the complicated relationship between them. But that's what fanfic is for, right?
I definitely wouldn't say no to a fic that's set during the movie (missing scenes?) or something that explores Max's obsession with Jake over the years, but what I'd love to see most would be a post-movie fic. The ending is rather open and also pretty damn depressing, considering that chances are that Max will be blamed for multiple murders and spend the rest of his life in prison (good times for a cop in prison). So I like to think that since Max saved his life, Jake wouldn't want to leave him behind, but break him out of prison and help him leave the country. And Max would probably have trouble dealing with that: being on the run, technically becoming a criminal, having nobody left in the world but the guy who ruined (and then saved) his life ... It's a well of angst and resentment, and they have such a complicated, conflicted relationship, I'd just love to see more of that.
Like with all my character combos here, I ship them a lot, but I won't say no to gen fic either if that's more your thing. I think all of the following prompts work for gen, but if you do ship them, it'd be great if you could build that aspect in as well.
A few prompt ideas, feel free to combine them in any way:
- Jake feels like he owes Max after the ending of the movie and decides to break him out before they can ever put him on trial (the common fanon seems to be that he broke him out of a prison van, but anything works). How does Max react? What do they do after that, where do they go? How does their relationship develop?
- alternative version for that prompt: what if Jake can only break him out later and has to deal with a Max who just spent several (probably very unpleasant) months in prison?
- if you want to skip the prison break itself: any plotty fic about them working together as private investigators maybe or even becoming partners in crime. Bonus if you somehow deal with their conflicting principles, with Max refusing to cross certain lines, with Jake only being willing to compromise so much ...
- if you want to write something darker, you could go for a fic in which Max really goes off the rails after having his life ripped to shreds. So he starts taking drugs (or just too many pain meds), or maybe he develops some serious anger management issues and constantly gets into fights, or he tries to push Jake away … I'd prefer a somewhat happy/hopeful ending though, with Jake helping him through his issues. Bonus if you include that Jake has his own issues to deal with after losing his son.
- vague father figure themes, considering their age difference and Jake losing his son. Especially if neither of them would ever acknowledge them.
- generally I love to see them help each other through what's a pretty grim time in both their lives; taking care of each other in slightly awkward ways, but also not tolerating each other's bullshit and telling each other to get the fuck over himself; protectiveness; us-against-the-world; not having anything left in the world but each other; sudden realisations that they went from grudging allies to friends/lovers, that they basically saved each other.
- if you write porn: these two are just made for angry, desperate, rough sex with lots of biting and grabbing and pushing; but I'd also love to see something more tender as their relationship develops
- any run-ins with people from their past could be interesting: acquaintances of Max's who can't believe he's on the run with a criminal (plus potential conflicts because that person could rat Max out to the cops, so what are Max and Jake going to do about them?) or old partners or enemies of Jake's who can't believe his new partner is a former cop.
Sid Rothman, Ned Stax
I will spare you my bitter tears about this show getting cancelled after only one season. But that one season we got was probably my favourite new show of 2013. It did such an amazing job with the overall noir atmosphere, it had absolutely beautiful and often hilarious dialogues, and it did a great job both with its fictional versions of historical figures (like Bugsy Siegel, damn, Ed Burns' Benny is flawless) and with its original characters. I requested Sid and Ned because they're my favourites and I'd mostly like a fic that centres on them, but I also really like the rest of the mob: again, Benny is incredible, Mickey really made me laugh a lot, and I also quite enjoyed all the background characters related to the mob. I'm not all that interested in the show's cop characters (including Joe).
I love absolutely everything about Sid: his devotion to Ben, his ruthlessness, his sense of humour, his appreciation for the finer things in life, his eloquence, his confidence (and holy shit, Robert Knepper is smoking hot in that role). I enjoy Ned's smarmy lawyer facade, I like that he must be kind of a bamf as a vet, I like how he's fairly ruthless, but still prefers non-violent solutions if it's anyhow feasible. I see him as someone who's incredibly ambitious and who'll always put his own advancement first; he'll try to help people he owes, but he won't get himself killed for someone else. He's worked too hard to get where he is now to give it all up.
Sid and Ned's antagonistic but also kind of playful relationship in canon is pretty great (Sid teasing him, Ned trying to keep Sid from just killing everyone all over the place). I definitely ship them a lot (rough angry sex! Sid bending Ned over and Ned being really really into that! Ned having a gigantic kink for Sid's strong hands and for the fact that Sid kills people for a living! Sid, who usually doesn't give a shit about what his partners like in bed, being really turned on by how much Ned is into him! Slow developments from just fucking to actually starting to like each other!), but, like with the other two ships, I also don't mind gen explorations of their relationship if they go in similar directions, just without the romantic/sexual undertones. ;)
Like I said, Sid's devotion for Ben is one of my favourite things, and while I didn't explicitly request Ben, I'm perfectly fine with him appearing or with Sid thinking about him because Ben is pretty much the centre of Sid's universe. I interpret their relationship as mostly platonic, though. I also don't ship Ned with anyone but Sid, not even as unrequited pining or anything like that.
A few prompt ideas, feel free to combine them in any way that works for you:
- how did Sid and Ned first meet? Exact circumstances, first impressions, first time they realised there was more to the other than meets the eye, that Sid was more than a thug and that Ned was more than a pretty boy lawyer?
- season 1 fall-out! Ben is dead, Joe killed him, and Sid will leave a trail of bodies behind him to find out what happened and get revenge. Ned will probably try to protect Joe to an extent, but eventually cut his ties before he gets too caught in the crossfire. Make it dark and messy; as long as Sid and Ned come out on top I don't care who else kicks the bucket. I would especially like anything in which Sid eventually ends up clinging to Ned because Sid isn't used to living without someone whose right hand he can be, and because he's lonely and messed up and needs an anchor.
- a while after season 1: I'd love anything about Sid and Ned running the mob together. Either by running things behind the scenes despite Mickey still being around, or by deciding to get rid of Mickey and actually taking control (I know that's not what happened historically, so call it an AU).
- generally any fic that has Sid and Ned scheming and working together, coming up with a plan to gain some new crime turf or get rid of someone who's talking to the cops or maximise the profits of an operation. Bonus if it requires a combination of Sid's murder and intimidation skills and Ned's lawyering/manipulation skills.
- if you do like writing about Ben as well or at least mentioning him, I'd love to see any fic that draws parallels between Sid's relationship with Ben and Sid's relationship with Ned after Ben's death. How important they both have become to him, in which regards they're alike and (more often) different etc.
- if you do ship them and you like to write porn, I'd be eternally grateful if you included some smut in your fic because this ship is made for it. Rough, brutal sex, fucking on desks and in dark corners, throat-fucking, grabbing each other angrily, choking, teasing, provocative smoking and smirking at each other, Sid roughing Ned up and Ned loving it, Sid ordering Ned around, Ned being a bloody tease. I'm okay with dub-con vibes for this ship, as long as they both end up enjoying themselves (example: Ned is worried about letting Sid know that he's gay so he rejects him at first, but he does want him and he does enjoy sleeping with him when Sid decides to ignore his rejection – they are both pretty damn messed up, no need to gloss over that. ;)). I'm also okay with a bit of internalised homophobia on Ned's part, while I see Sid more as the “I do what I want and fuck what everyone else thinks” type, but if you interpret that differently, that's okay, too.
- again, if you do ship them, I'd love to see a fic that focuses on the development of their relationship: from coworkers who don't like each other that much but who have really great angry sex, to sort-of-friends with benefits who fuck more and more often and end up sleeping in one bed and waking up together half the time, to actually caring about each other and realising that what they have is pretty damn close to a loving relationship.
Like I said, I'm perfectly fine with dark and messy stuff for this fandom (even more so than for the other two fandoms) because Sid and Ned are bad guys doing bad things and that's okay with me, just as long as Sid and Ned get a halfway happy ending, preferably together (either as buddies or as lovers), and as long as Ned doesn't end up prioritising people from his past over his new mob career.
That got embarrassingly long. I ramble a lot, I'm sorry. Again, all of this is supposed to help give you an idea of what I like, it's not at all meant to be restrictive and make your life harder. If you feel like you need to ask me about any of this, I have anonymous asks on tumblr enabled (same username as here and on AO3).
I think that's it. Thank you, again, and I hope that you will have have fun writing something for me. I'm really excited about Yuletide this year and I'm looking forward to reading your fic. :)