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And, lo, here we have the Subscribe to Filters poll.

I tend to post a lot of things locked and filtered. Some security decisions I make myself, but most of my filters are content filters. The divisions are as follows:

Filter descriptions and poll )
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Okay, this one sounds fun. Favorite characters in 10 different fandoms.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist. Roy. I mean, Ed is huge fun to write, and so is Al when he gets his snark on, but Roy is my most reliable fic-fodder character, plotting creature that he is.

2. Prince of Tennis. Probably Yukimura, with Rikkai as a whole coming close second. They’re just so much fun to write about as a team; tasty dynamics everywhere, especially with the angst-lever to crack it all open.

3. Bleach. Hm. This one is actually a little difficult. I mean, in absolute terms, Rukia, but, again, mostly Rukia in relation to Ichigo and Orihime and Renji. Close second place is split by Byakyua and Hirako Shinji, despite the second’s late appearance.

4. Kuroko no Basuke. Kuroko, hands down, often in relation to Kagami, but also in relation to the other Miracle-idiots. No one can lay the straight-faced smackdown like Kuroko.

5. Angel Sanctuary. Mad Hatter, with Kira following close behind. I have a soft spot for complex motivation, in case that wasn’t obvious.

6. Naruto. Kakashi, closely followed by Sakura, albeit usually in the key of “omfg, move over and let me drive” given that canon gives them both a pretty raw deal, character-development-wise.

7. 07-Ghost. Frau. I also have a /huge/ soft spot for Teito and Ouka, and everything they might make of their world, but Frau is the most fun to play with.

8. Katekyou Hitman Reborn. Gokudera is entertainingly highstrung, but the more I dug into it, the more Squalo showed up with a bagful of plot and emotional porn. 

9. GetBackers. Kazuki, especially in relation to Saizou, Toshiki, Sakura, and Juubei. Also with the emotional porn and fix-it urges.

10. Nirvana in Fire. Lin Shu/Mei Changsu, yes, all the way. A type, I can haz it, and it’s called Magnificent Bastards.

In conclusion, I clearly like the ones who smile politely all the while they’re getting a nice, iron grip on everything around them. Though also the ones whose central motivation is devotion. 

Consider yourself tagged, if you’d like!

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So, I finally get the Jingrui and Yujin’s Political Adventures story out the door, and promptly the Yuwen Nian bunny starts flipping its ears at me again. So back I go to re-watch bits of episodes to nail down a few facts. And I happen to breeze past Consort Yue putting on her poor-pitiful-me act for the Emperor and recommending Consort Xushu stand in the Empress’ stead for New Year. Wherein she mentions that Xushu has raised a grown Princess.

And suddenly I’ve got Linyang (lin as in jade, but quite deliberately gesturing to lin as in forest as in Emperor’s then-best-buddy Lin Xie), age 40 or thereabouts, waltzing around my head, trying to figure out exactly what subject prince she got married off to, and picking out livery colors for her ladies in waiting, and very quietly rolling her eyes over being stuck as chaperone for Nian until the banquet because Liyang looked about to cut someone when /she/ was suggested.

I mean, yes, my unofficial motto for this whole arc is Women Being Fucking Awesome but really. One line! *bangs her head on the desk*

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Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, In Every Time and Season
Characters/Pairings: Jingrui/Yujin, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Meng Zhi, Xiao Jingrui, Yan Yujin
Summary: Jingrui is finding himself drawn back toward a military position, after fighting at the northern border, and Yujin follows along, as he always has, despite his own reservations. Along the way, the two of them get into trouble, politics, and eventually a deeper understanding.
Meta: Drama with Politics and Romance, and also a Sprinkle of Porn, I-4
Wordcount: 18777

Very few of Yujin's reservations had ever held up in face of Jingrui's smile. Not when they were little and stealing sweets off Aunt Jing's table (with her amused connivance, Yujin had realized years later); not when they were a little older and Jingrui had dragged Yujin everywhere after their glamorous, if also sometimes alarming, older cousins; not when they'd come of age and Jingrui hauled Yujin out onto the roads to wander the country with that very same smile. He could barely imagine leaving Jingrui's side, at this point. So there was really nothing else to do but elbow him back until they managed to shove each other into the shallows, laughing.

Candles Lit at the Doors )
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Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, In Every Time and Season
Characters/Pairings: Jingyan/Shu, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Xiao Jingyan
Summary: Jingyan is figuring out why Lin Shu likes to be held tightly, in bed, and in the process shakes a few truths loose that he didn't expect.
Meta: Porn with Characterization, I-4
Wordcount: 1110

Perhaps this wasn't something he would have expected of xiao-Shu, but that didn't mean he couldn't put the pieces together when they were in front of him—and he was more than willing to oblige.

The Yellow Season )
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And here’s where I run into problems with anything that moves Jingrui’s relationships to somewhere they are not currently: Jingrui takes things at face value. He’s not dumb or unsophisticated; on the contrary, he observes quite accurately that, for example, Su Zhe does not particularly like (or suit) working for Prince Yu. But it’s Yujin, not Jingrui, who spots that maybe Su /isn’t/. Jingrui is trusting to an alarming extent, considering his family.

This suggests to me that both sides of his family, and in fact everyone else of his acquaintance, have deliberately kept him out of Serious Business concerns, and have probably done so from day one. It further suggests that, despite that, he’s gotten regular confirmation that he’s valued and loved. Watching the way he interacts with everyone except the Marquis, even while things are falling apart and blowing up, I think we can bet on this–there’s been a feedback loop there, his whole life, in which Jingrui is open hearted and is therefore cherished by his family, and therefore keeps being open hearted and trusting, and is therefore sheltered, and so on.

Which means that Jingrui probably also has a tendency to go with the flow and trust that everything will turn out, until or unless he’s whacked over the head with something that is clearly Wrong in some way. (Jingrui inspires me to use capitals, too.) So shifting his relationship with Yujin, especially if we assume Yujin has been taking some trouble to be a bit misdirecting thanks to his fear to screwing things up, is… going to take some work, let’s put it that way.

I do find it interesting that Jingrui apparently idolized Lin Shu (at least, Yujin says he was the one always running after Lin Shu, and dragging Yujin along), and keeps idolizing him, even in disguise. Jingrui might not /do/ the incisive insight thing, but he does seem to /respect/ it, very highly. (One possibility here: that he notices this characteristic as it comes out more strongly in Yujin.) I suspect part of Jingrui’s youthful cousin-crush was also that Lin Shu was already in the military. Jingrui gets the warrior thing from both sides of his family, both the in-system and out-system versions. I suspect the military is genuinely Jingrui’s career goal, insofar as he has one; the camaraderie of soldiers, as presented in the story, seems very like what Jingrui values in his relationships, and it’s what he’s been raised to. (Alternate possibility: Jingrui and Yujin’s squads can’t take the pining any longer and set them up.)

So, if Yujin is currently Prince Ji’s understudy, I kind of think Jingrui is Meng’s. The trick will be moving them both toward a little conjoint personal development when both characters have so much inertia built up in their current positions.

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The latest story is stalled in the way that usually means there’s something about these characters that I don’t know yet, so let’s think out loud for a bit about Yujin. (It may be Jingrui, but we’ll start with Yujin.)

The first thing that comes to mind is that Yujin is seriously Prince Ji’s understudy, which in turn suggests immediately that Yujin’s sunny smile is a bit of a front. This is not actually surprising, given that Yujin’s family life kind of shafted him. He’s the son of a woman his father didn’t love, and has been pretty roundly ignored by his father all his life. No matter how well-adjusted a kid is, that leaves a mark. I also note that Yujin is the one who says Lin Shu was impatient with the younger kids and not fun to be around, and that Jingrui was the one who dragged them both after Lin Shu all the time. Yujin preferred Prince Qi.

Now that’s interesting. Because Yujin is clearly reasonably smart, and very observant; he follows along with all the complicated plans easily. But he preferred the significantly older Prince Qi to the brilliant and older but still part of his own generation Lin Shu. So, yeah, I’m checking the box for “dad issues” here, and running on the supposition that Yujin has basically been hungry for any kind of father figure (which probably also ties into his friendship with Prince Ji).

And I have to wonder whether Yujin’s social-butterfly mode isn’t a way of reassuring himself that, whatever’s wrong with him (because of course he thinks there’s something wrong with him) it can’t be /too/ bad, right? You can see hints of this anxiety in what he says when he comes to thank MCS for fixing his family–thanking him for /allowing Yujin to be properly filial, which he’s been failing to do/. Of course Yujin frames this as all his fault, and I don’t think that’s purely down to cultural convention.

Yujin is a very accomplished fighter (in the top ten of the tournament, survives the attack on the spring hunt) and quite willing to follow Jingrui around the pugilist world, but he has no contacts of his own there. He also isn’t the understudy of any of the military types, so I’m guessing that the military was never an ambition of his. Instead, he’s following as closely as possible in his family’s diplomatic footsteps (put another check in “dad issues” I’m thinking) which may, therefore, be both his hope and his interest. He’s definitely the one who reads people best, identifying right away when someone is having a one on one and dragging Jingrui away, setting up Prince Ji to witness Wei’s escape, etc.

Interpersonally… well, here’s where he gets slippery. Because Yujin seems to have no personal friends or connections besides Jingrui. He’s cut off from his family, for most of the series, and his social activities center, not to put too fine a point on it, among paid companions. He’s socially adept, but I’m guessing that he’s going to have some problems with any kind of mid-range relationships (not father or Jingrui but not courtesans either). And if there’s the slightest hint that something he does might injure his relationship with his father or Jingrui, he’s almost certainly going to strike that off the menu of options rather than risk it.

…which suggests that it’s /Jingrui/ who’s going to have to make the first move, oh god. Because Yujin will /never risk it/. That’s it, right there. *headdesk* Oh, this’ll be such a pain. Okay, need to think about Jingrui next.

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Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, In Every Time and Season
Characters/Pairings: Cai Quan, Eunuch Gao, Gong Yu, Jingyan/Shu, Li Len, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Liu An, Mu Nihuang, Nihuang/Shu, Shen Zhui, Xia Dong, Xiao Jingyan, Xiao Xuan, Zhao Wei
Summary: Lin Shu and Nihuang settle into life at court, in the field, and in Jingyan's home while Lin Manor is repaired. The rest of the court may need a few stiff drinks to recover from the process, especially once a complex political scandal breaks in the middle of it.
Meta: Drama with Politics and Porn, I-4
Wordcount: 22852

Now Jingyan returned his gaze, steady and serious. "Even though you hoped to be done with being the strategist, after Prince Qi, my brother's, and Lin's and Chiyan's names were restored?"

For a long moment, he was silent, because that had been true. "I did finish with it, though," he said at last, slowly. "And I returned to my old self, my own world, long enough to die there. I thought that would be the end of it, and I still believe I was right about that. This," he swept a hand around, at the palace, at the ministers and officials and ladies moving through the halls and gardens, each intent on their own ends and ambitions, and the three of them in the middle of it all, "this is what comes after that end, another new life." He gave Jingyan a tiny smile. "Now, what I can do, all that I can do, is for you and with you, nothing held back. That's as it should be, and I have no wish to be done with it."

Red Heart and White Sword )
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The little mildly-kinky Jingyan/Lin Shu porn story demands to be titled “The Yellow Season”. I would like it to be understood that I do not /normally/ make dreadful puns or linguistic jokes in my story titles, so perhaps this can just be considered, I don’t know, truth in advertising or something?

Is it too late to not use Taoist color symbolism for the titles in this arc? It is, isn’t it? *sighs*

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…where you get to the end/climax and realize that you have to go and write another, interstitial, story in order to make it make sense.

*bangs head against the desk a few times*

And now I have to come up with names for all the builders/renovators! *goes to pull up Wiktionary again, and also the history of courtyard houses*

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Seriously, she’s just the most sarcastic little thing. Especially when she’s doing the espionage part of her job, and /most/ especially when she’s dealing with stupid men.

Not that one can blame her, to be sure.

Today’s snippet:

And all the while she cooed and snuggled at this fool, she held close in her heart the memory of Dong jie-jie’s teeth flashing as she bared them in a fierce grin the day Gong Yu had gotten past her guard during morning training, the hardness of her eyes when they’d finally pinned down when Qing Li’s south depot had started losing goods–just a year after the man beside her had gained his current office in the Ministry of Revenue. Even more than that, the sober confidence in her voice when she’d told Gong Yu to return to the capital without her and close this half of the net on her own. She made her smile bright with that memory and poured more wine.

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In today’s words, Gong Yu is struck by an instant crush on Xia Dong’s danger and competence and it’s /hilarious/. I mean, seriously, she’s nearly drooling (not that this is not a wholly appropriate response to Xia Dong). I think Nihuang may be about to hurt something, trying not to laugh out loud. 

As far as I can tell, Xia Dong is totally blase about it all. Probably she’s used to baby agents having smashing crushes on her and barely notices any more.

Today’s snippet:

Xia Dong gave her a wry grin, and Yu’s breath caught. “You’re part of the clan, now. No need to be so formal.”

Yu blushed deeper, cheeks hot, and clasped her hands tight, wetting her lips. “Xia Dong jie-jie,” she amended, obediently.

Xia Dong clapped her lightly on the shoulder. “Better. Come tell me about how the roads are; it looks like I’ll be headed a little south soon, myself.” She sank down cross-legged by a low table with a tea set sitting out, fluid and graceful, without a single second of wasted motion. Yu tried not to stare.

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[this got very long, whole thread on Tumblr.]

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Today’s words: 1K of words on what a decade of chronic pain can do to your sex life and body image. *feels wrung out like a rag* Jesus. I mean, it’s in service of ultimate fluff, but that was some seriously NiF-level angst, there.

I think I need a drink.

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Spent an hour or two this morning figuring out how to make Jingyan’s life harder, aka the political situation one year post-canon. And, in fact, it was really easy to envision several significant messes, because with only two of the ‘cabinet’ level ministers replaced, the Ministries promise to still be a snake’s nest, albeit a slightly intimidated one.

Actually, I take immense pleasure in imagining that the Minister of Rites walks in mortal terror that Marquis Yan will give him a stern look or something, because Yan stepping back into court affairs has got to have everyone in the older generation running around yelling “Fear! Fire! Flood! OMG, we’re all gonna die!” behind the scenes, plus now he’s spent years studying ritual.

I also like to think, though, that Yu’s wife’s brother is still in charge of the Review Court and is making life a petty, picayune /pain in the ass/ at every opportunity, and god but Cai wants to throw him off a tower, and Shen is rubbing his forehead and reminding everyone that they’re supposed to be /civilized beings/ here, and Jingyan is acting like he totally wasn’t about to hand Cai a sword, annoyances, for the stabbing of, no of course not.

Plus, of course, the Minister of War was a supporter of the old Crown Prince and is /sure/ to be on the take somehow. So many lovely possibilities for military affairs to be fucked up right when a) they really need to be solid and b) Jingyan can’t go kick things into shape in person any more. *sadistic happy sparkles*

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Okay, now we’re cooking with slash! I mean, not that we weren’t already, because all you have to do is put Jingyan and Lin Shu in vague proximity and the air pretty much fills with hearts and flowers. But I’ve finally gotten to the point where /someone/ actually notices how bad they’ve got it for each other.

The someone is, of course, Nihuang. Because Jingyan is too self-sacrificing for his own damn good and Lin Shu may not have quite /processed/ all the back-to-life implications. If Nihuang were from the US south, she’d be saying things like “god love ‘em” and possibly even blessing their hearts. As it is, she’s smiling the “I know something you don’t know” smile and looking forward to maybe making Jingyan snarf his tea by mentioning her knowledge at a tactically decisive moment. Just possibly in terms of expanding Lin Shu’s harem, if the opportunity presents, because a fine tradition of teasing Jingyan within an inch of his life should not be let to die.

Have I mentioned that I like Nihuang quite a lot?

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Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, Alternatives
Characters/Pairings: Eunuch Gao, Fei Liu, Gong Yu, Jingyan/Shu, Lady Jing, Lin Chen, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Liu An, Meng Zhi, Mu Nihuang, Mu Qing, Nihuang/Shu, Xiao Jingrui, Xiao Jingyan, Xiao Liyang, Xiao Xuan, Yan Yujin
Summary: Lin Shu survives, and, with a certain amount of salutary brow-beating, finds a purpose in doing so that moves him to enter the world again, seek out his loved ones, and start walking a meaningful path forward with them.
Meta: Drama with Adorable Romance, I-3
Wordcount: 17363

For a long time, or what might have been a long time, he was afraid he'd failed, each time he woke. He woke weak, groggy, never able to rouse to full awareness, and he knew that sensation from a decade worth of illness, fought stubbornly against it, as he always had, to push his thoughts past the fog to grip on the world again.

This time, though, he could never force himself past the cloudy uncertainness of almost-dreams. And what did that mean, if not failure, to fall ill again before his last task was done?

Black Turns to Blue )
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In today’s words, Nihuang and Qing are really the most adorable siblings ever. I rather look forward to Qing’s continued attempts to match-make, when Lin Shu shows.

Today’s writing snippet:

“Don’t challenge envoys just because they’re annoying me.” Sometimes Nihuang wondered whether she should move her daily work into an office of her own, if only to keep her little brother’s nose a bit further out of her business. The rustle of paper from his table caught her ear and she added, absently, “Read the whole thing, Qing-er.”

He gave her a hang-dog look and pulled back the report of crop plans that he hadn’t spent nearly long enough on to be finished with. Nihuang smiled down at her own table, which had almost certainly been her brother’s goal. He’d gotten more subtle about teasing her, this past year. Perhaps she would move to her own office some year soon, but there were compensations for staying here, for now.

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Do not fuck with the Inner Palace, they will fuck your shit up.

Which is to say, Lady Liu is developing nicely, as Lady Jing’s understudy. Also, I couldn’t quite resist the running joke that she prefers weak teas and doesn’t know why this seems to amuse all Jingyan’s relations.

Today’s snippet:

“There’s a certain amount of risk in it.” Lin Shu took a sip of his tea and, for some reason, gave her a look of deep amusement before turning back to the matter at hand. “He will understand quite well that I’m forcing his hand, and if I then stand openly in support of you, his fear may overcome his good sense. Again.”

Her husband’s face turned set and cold, at that. The reminder of Prince Qi’s fate made An think of something else, though. Of a certain memorial tablet, and what her mother-in-law had never quite admitted to doing, to secure it. “Perhaps,” she said, words falling softly into the quiet between the two men, “that need not be a great concern.” At Lin Shu’s raised brow, she lifted her chin, hands clasped tightly in her lap. “You should consult with Lady Jing, who often has such influence over him.”

She didn’t think her husband knew what she was saying, but Lin Shu went very still for a long moment before nodding slowly. “A wise suggestion, Lady Liu. My thanks.”

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Not that this was news to anyone who’s actually watched this show, but it does make itself especially evident, now and then.

Apropos of which, today’s writing snippet:

“Come here and let me see,” she ordered, as she had when he or Jingyan or Nihuang had managed to injure themselves training. He smiled for real at that, and came to hold out his wrist, obediently. She nearly held her own breath, setting her fingers over the pulse point, hope and fear of what she might feel tangling together, but long habit composed her to quiet attention.

And his pulse beat, sure and steady under her fingers, no hint of the stumble and catch that would tell of poison, of a body on the verge of collapse at any moment. It was weaker than it should be in a man only just past thirty, but it was steady. “It’s true,” she whispered, for the rest of them, for herself, for xiao-Shu, because she suspected he needed to hear it again, too. The laughing and shoulder-clapping among the men gave her a chance to re-gather herself, and she added, more calmly as she tugged his sleeve back down, “Perhaps I won’t do anything too very dreadful to your friend after all.”

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…is a propitiousness checker. 

I can make a half-decent stab at good meaning balances, for names, and I can handwave birthdates wherever they need to be, and Wiktionary helpfully mentions the root radicals of enough names to take a swing, but it’s all very fuzzy and as for stroke number I am lost. *grumps* I don’t even know if that degree of refinement was common round 5th C.

So I’ll risk Liu An (Jingyan’s wife) and Chen Wenqian (his mother’s pre-Palace name), but I still feel antsy about it.

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