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Alas, I am spending less and less time these days reading fanfic, so my recs may be few and far between from now on. Fortunately, makd has been publishing enormous lists of recs on her blog. She is an omnivorous but discriminating reader and I thoroughly recommend her recs.
Please email me if you find any broken links. They were last checked in September 2007.
The first thing I'm going to suggest is The BetterBuffyFics Archive. It's just the best and most wide-ranging archive out there. It's not always spectacularly up-to-date because they have trouble keeping up with all the recs but there's scores of interesting pieces there.
All About Spike is a well-designed and frequently-updated website that's, well, All About Spike.
The Ficbitch Website is a portal to an amazing number of good websites, most featuring dark or darker stories. There are also a couple of excellent Ficbitch offshoots which have recently left the mother site. You should certainly check out the Spike site, Fists and Fangs.
Bugger This is home for half-a-dozen or so superior BtVS authors, including NwHepcat, Herself and Kalima.
FanFiction.Net may be the be-all and end-all of unmoderated fanfic archives, but for BtVS/Angel fiction it's long been superceded by Shriftweb.Org which has an excellent search engine. It's the best place to look for new talent.
Not an actual archive, but almost as good, is Alix Aadler's enormous list of genfic recommendations.
Ah, the Fanged Four, cutting a swathe through Europe and Asia together in slo-mo. Peasant wrote Sweet William (NC17, Fool for Love), a look at Spike's first year as a vampire which somehow contrives to be both historically accurate and logically consistent. Peasant's also written a perfectly-nuanced Fanged Four AU, If (R, Fool for Love).
The wonderful Coquette has built on Peasant's strong foundation: A Winter's Tale (NC17, Fool for Love) is one of the best depictions of the Fanged Four era that you're ever likely to read. Plus---suspense, action, sex and plot! Kalima has also written a short story set during that period, The Devil of Mercy (R, Fool for Love). For a humorous take on the "coal scuttle girl" story, read The Good Fairy by Peasant (PG13, Crush).
When the Fanged Four broke up, the various members were left to their own devices. Corinna's Ang-Nuo (PG13, Darla) considers what Angel might have done in China. Cas writes excellent and historically accurate fiction about what Angel might have done next. London Hellmouth by Sylvia Volk (PG, foreshadowing of S5, AtS S3) is an atmospheric steam-punkish London adventure for Spike and Dru.
Later it seems that everyone was running around New York. Spike shags the locals in Herself's lyrical Manhattan Nocturne (NC17, School Hard); in Dead Soul's Sunday Girl (NC17, Fool for Love) he and Dru introduce the vampire Sunday to S&M. Darla's also in the Big Apple, according to Chrystler's Affectations (R, Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been).
Not that the Slayers were slacking off. To begin at the beginning, Roz Kaveney's Bed of Bones (PG, Restless) looks at the life of the First Slayer. Lara Dean-Brierley's excellent tale of the Korean slayer, Naming the Demons (Puppet Show), is set during the Japanese occupation of that country. NwHepcat's This Little Light (PG13, Chosen) tells of a new slayer's struggle with her calling in Papua New Guinea. It's impeccably-researched as well as a good read.
Buffy has always stressed the importance of friendship; one of the delights of the show for me is its depiction of various kinds and qualities of friendship. Annakovsky's spare and moving Now Leaving Sunnydale (PG, Chosen) considers the four core Scoobies after all is said and done. Stupid In the Sun He Lies by Jade Lennox (PG, S3) is a Giles-Oz friendship fic that's also an excellent character study of the ever-complicated Giles. The unbreakable bond between Willow and Xander is at one of its most strained moments in Benaresq's Slow (PG, mid S6). Compare this with Willow's distracted and grudging mood with Anya in White Satin Pumps by Nora Charles (NC17, Hell's Bells).
Speaking of grudging friendships, I can think of no better example than the ocassional and often fleeting understandings between Spike and Xander. Small Mercies (PG13, Same Time Same Place) by Dira Sudis is about compassion. Bachelor Pad (R, Him) by the Mad Poetess is a story I just I haven't been able to get out of my head since I first read it.
Spike's unlikely friendship with Dawn was for me a happy and unexpected highlight of Season Five. This has seldom been captured with as much precision as in Elizabeth's prose poem, Along Came a Spider (PG, The Gift). Devil Piglet's The Down Below (R, Lessons) and amerella's a sorta fairytale (PG, Him) consider where the two were in early Season Seven.
There are a few good stories about the bleached one and his relationships with Willow and Tara. Klytaimnestra does Tara justice in A Quiet Pint (PG13, Gone). Then there's Rachel Anton's Spike/Willow Geek the Girl series, of which Scary Scooby (PG13, As You Were) is my favourite. Also, Fallowdoe has written a deeply moving short about Spike and Willow which is actually all about Willow, Don't Be Kind (PG13, Showtime).
Giles and Ethan must have been friends once. Two Ladies of Quality have written about this relationship from a number of angles. I'd particularly recommend Reflections in a Turning Mirror (R, mid S7) and Lament of Ganymede (NC17, Once More with Feeling) which is slash.
I also want to recommend the following cute and tiny story, which features Clem, With a Little Help From His Friends (G, Beneath You) by dutchbuffy2305.
Lost in the Supermarket by Lint (PG, Shells) is the first fic I've seen that describes Wesley's relationship with Illyria: whether this will some day count as friendship remains to be seen.
First, the canonical pairings. My Buffy/Angel rec is Vatrixsta Cruden's Paved (PG, Chosen/Home). For Willow and Tara, there's Melymbrosia's chilling Truly and Forever (R, Seeing Red) while the much warmer Music from a Farther Room by Kyra Cullinan (PG, Killer in Me) considers all of Willow's relationships. For Xander/Anya, I recommend three stories which might be loosely considered to be 'before', 'during' and 'after'. Postcards from a Kerouac Summer by NwHepcat (R, Graduation Day II) tells the story of Xander's post-school summer in a series of vignettes. Elena B.'s Other Pervert (R, early S6) is short, humorous and solves one of the mysteries of the Whedonverse. The Loving Dead by Witling (PG, Chosen) is a melancholy story of strange comfort written in beautiful prose.
Spike/Angelus is practically canon, isn't it? No-one writing Fanged Four fiction seems to doubt it. From there it's but a small step to convincing and emotionally complicated Spike/Angel fiction, such as Last Men Standing (NC17, The Gift) by Maayan and Kita, which is actually Spike/Angel/Xander.
That lets me segue to Spike/Xander, a pairing I never quite understood until I read Sidelines, an alternative Season Four by Anna S (NC17, Restless). This is a superb story, filled with loneliness, humour and hope. The other great Spike/Xander works that I've read are wiseacress' gritty and aching Modus Vivendi (NC17, mid S5) and its sequel, Ars Moriendi. Her Dark Horse (R, S4) is an S/X AU set in a world where the vampires won.
If your brain's turned to mush from reading too many Spike pairings, may I suggest Amnesia!Spike by malaheim (R, mid S6)? Something for almost everyone in this one.
I'll also recommend a superb Faith/Buffy short, which keeps completely and convincingly in canon, Sealed with a Kiss by the Mad Poetess (R, S3).
Some authors write unusual romantic pairings to great comic effect. In this regard, I recommend Regina Welch's amusing Buffy/Clem fic, A Genuinely Nice Guy (NC17, Hell's Bells), and Rune's hilarious Spike/Lorne story Fuck You and Your Cat (NC17, none).
Other authors use unusual pairings to explore alternate worlds and illuminate character. In this category I would place A.C. Chapin's marvellous Ripper/Buffy AU story, Alternative Lifestyle (PG13, none), Brighid's AU Spike/Dawn Beats a Cruel December (NC17, The Gift), glossolalia's Spike/Wesley Opthamology (NC17, Chosen), and Jennifer-Oksana's haunting Fred/Willow short, Kitchen (PG13, not sure). If That Mockingbird Won't Sing by Doyle (PG13, The Wish) is a Wishverse Dru/Willow, among other things.
Then there are the purely romantic stories, like The Twilight's Last Gleaming (NC17, Band Candy), a Giles/Joyce piece by Laura Shapiro, and Quick and Bitter, Slow and Sweet, Miss Murchison's Spike/Tara romance (R, Entropy). I also enjoyed Doyle's first steps towards Faith/Dawn in The Whole of the Moon (PG13, Chosen) and a sweet Fred/Willow, Open Til Midnight by Minervacat (PG, early AtS S5).
In a category of its own is The Waking by the Mad Poetess (R, Chosen). It's perfectly canon, perfectly lyrical Giles/Other.
I love Buffy for its humorous moments as much as for its drama, so I'm always pleased when a fic makes me laugh out loud (um, intentionally). Humour is the raison d'etre of the following stories.
Season Four is a popular setting for comedy, no doubt because it reminds many of nightmarish flat-sharing experiences. Giles certainly resents the vampire chained in his bath in The Watcher by Dangermouse, a parody of Poe's "The Raven" (PG13, Pangs). Spike-sitting is also important in Nautibitz's Close Encounters (NC17, Doomed), which is a Spike/Buffy romantic comedy. Also set in Season Four is Dyeing Young by the Mad Poetess (PG, S4), which is an old favourite of mine that I've only just rediscovered: our heroes meet in a midnight supermarket.
As I'm a female research scientist working in a very male-dominated discipline, I have much sneaking sympathy for Maggie Walsh. And I have never read a better piece about her than Marina Frant's Hazy Shade of Winter (NC17, The Initiative). I cannot recommend this highly enough, not least for its depiction of the more tedious and depressing months of life as a research scientist. Frants has also written my favorite Riley story, Another Peaceful War (PG, Primeval). Plex by Spyke Raven takes Walsh and Riley and places them in a different context, a world where Buffy Summers never existed.
Darla is a much under-used character, unless she's stalking around as a member of the Fanged Four or slapping up Angel. I've read exactly two great Darla fics: Affectations (R, Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been) by Chrystler and The Haunted, Hunted Kind by Selena (PG13, Home).
Andrew and Jonathon have been growing in popularity, and not before time, in my opinion. Sharkbait has written one of my favorite BtVS character studies ever, Mascara (R, Dead Things), about Jonathon. Andraste's Living Dangerously (PG13, Storyteller) considers Andrew during a seemingly quiet moment. Bulletproof by Doyle (PG13) is about the Andrew of the Wishverse.
Speaking of comic potential, here's a couple of amusing fics about Harmony, Yahtzee's In Harm's Way (PG13, Doomed) and Caro's Card Sharp (PG, Disharmony). Harm also plays an important role in Harry Lime's rollicking France is That Way? (R, Harsh Light of Day): Spike and Harmony cause chaos in London for the Watchers Council.
Remember Lydia, the Watcher who wrote her thesis on Spike? Klytaimnestra has been writing Lydia's Livejournal (R, Checkpoint). Lydia Chalmer's Thesis on William the Bloody is now available on-line too.
Dawn is too seldom considered as a character in her own right so I was pleased to find Annakovsky's Umad Learns Sumerian (PG, S6), where Dawn's talents and motivations are brought to the fore: enjoy the convincing Dawn p.o.v. while you learn actual Sumerian. A Girl Made From Sky by Doyle considers the Cheeseman's view of her. Meanwhile, Connor's p.o.v. is central to On the Education of a Young Man by Yahtzee (PG13, Tomorrow) and Dhobi ki Kutti's Summer Lovin' (NC17, Home).
Then there are stories about one-off characters, so that we see the world of BtVS through their eyes. Good examples of this include HonorH's Miss Perfect (PG13, As You Were) about Sam, Alix Aadler's Come to My Window about Sheila (PG, School Hard) and Mint Witch's tale of the skanky ho, Bit Parts (R, Hell's Bells).
It's rare to find an Ethan fic without Giles, but here's one: Silent Upon a Peak in Darien by Doyle (PG, Damage), or "how Ethan got his groove back."
A challenge from Kita has lead to many excellent pieces being written on the theme of 'Five Things'. I'll recommend six of them.
Five Things That Never Happened to Spike by Kita (R, mid S7).
Five Bastardized Virtures: Xander by Te (R, Buffy Vs Dracula).
Five Ways of Becoming Someone Else by Kyra Cullinan (NC17, Chosen).
Five Futures Full of Alcohol and Sex by Kyra Cullinan (NC17, Chosen).
Five Ways to Have a Happy Ending and Not One of Them True by Minim Calibre (PG).
Five Ways the World Won't End and One Way It Could by Christine K (PG, Killer in Me).
Rise (He Buys Cigarettes) by Kawcrow concerns Spike (PG, early S5).
Stupid In the Sun He Lies by Jade Lennox (PG, S3) concerns Giles.
32 Short Fics About Xander Harris by NwHepcat (R, Chosen).
Manus by Kita concerns Angel (PG, Damage).
Optimistic by Sheila Perez (R, S4).
The Twelfth Sister and The Twelfth Sister Revisited by Rowan (R, Sanctuary).
Donna the Vampire Slayer by Nomad is BtVS/West Wing (R, The Gift).
Buffy Three Meets Blackadder II by Keswindhover (PG, S4).
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Karen and Crystal.
A Girl Made From Sky by Doyle (PG, Chosen) is BtVS/Sandman
Seeing Africa by Huzzlewhat (PG, Damage)
Thousand Yard Stare by Sophia Jirafe (G, Get It Done).
Season Noir by Anna S, especially the self-contained Carnival (R?, S6).