ETA: Now contains actual commentary (back in town, and able to comment now).
You know, as a general thing, I think the world needs more pegging fic. Maybe I'm just missing it, but there never seems to me to be all that much of it around. It's cool to have this one to discuss here.
I'm also glad to see a fic that deals with transgender issues here; I don't run across a plethora of those anywhere either, usually. To my eye, this fic does a good job of dealing with those issues in a very realistic, personal, respectful way. Everything from the terminology to the sensory details to Teyla's introspection is well chosen to that end. I enjoy that the picture we get of Rodney and Teyla's relationship is complex and not sugarcoated to saccharine perfection, too. There's a little thread of pensive nostalgia in Teyla's internal voice for Rodney's former breasts, for instance, but she dismisses the feeling as pointless; I like the way this reflects Teyla's love and unconditional acceptance, while still showing that there are a few things she still misses about the way her partner used to be. That feels very real to me.
Another thing I enjoy about this story is the work I put into deciphering it. It was clear to me early on as I was reading the story that one of the characters had transitioned/was still transitioning, but not immediately apparent which one---or, in fact, if it might not be both of them. I quite like that the clues are all there, but that it takes careful attention to detail over the whole length of the story to solve this mystery. As a reader, I always feel more engaged if I am given the tools to do some of the heavy lifting for myself.
Probably the only thing that gives me pause about this story is that it feels more like original characters than Rodney and Teyla to me. If I read this with different character names, I would not know them, nor would I place the 'verse. On the one hand this is good news, as I think that means that this story could be easily adapted to publishable format as an original short story, but on the other it also means that this fic doesn't have an especially SGA feel to me.
Edited at 2009-07-06 03:15 am (UTC)
I was unsure how the characterisations would come across. With Teyla especially, I find it really hard to feel confident about portraying her in Earth AUs because it feels like her core canon characterisation is "good with sticks and doesn't use contractions". There are other elements that come into play at various times, of course, but in terms of the core, I think her characterisation is A. really lacking and B. not applicable to Earth AUs.
Another thing I enjoy about this story is the work I put into deciphering it.
I love writing stories where it takes more work to figure out what's going on. I'm always worried that people are going to miss the point, though. D: It's a fine line to walk. I think in fandom even more so, because a lot of people are reading just for escapism and don't want to do any thinking at all.
Yes, it really is a crying shame that canon did not offer Teyla all the character work she deserved. It is probably my second biggest beef with the SGA writing team. With as many seasons as they had, you'd think they could have given her a little more of their time.
I love this story, and like lyrstzha, one of the things I love about it -- much as I do most of kyuuketsukirui's stories -- is the realistic, personal, and respectful way the issues in the story are presented. I love how nuanced and fully-realized his characters are, and it's refreshing to see that degree of realistic "imperfection", especially in fandom, which often goes for the perfect match perfectly realized.
I put "imperfection" in quotes because it's imperfect only insofar as life's that way. Teyla's small moment of wistfulness, missing Rodney's breasts, is one of those moments. And it says so much about their relationship in so few words.
For one thing, that was the moment at which I realized this wasn't typical het pegging fic with a cisgender couple, but that Rodney was ftm. And as lyrstzha points out, the moment shows how deeply Teyla loves Rodney and is committed to their relationship, that she began it with a woman but loves Rodney just as much, still wants him just as much, as a man. She's in love with the whole person, regardless of what she might miss about being with a woman, and that's a wonderful thing to see.
And like an anon said in the comments to the story itself, the language is very effective -- "The way you described the sex part, and I don't wanna be gross or overbearing here, but the words like 'front hole' and his 'dick'...was so in theme and so accepting." That's another thing I love about this fic, is that the language is not tarted up and prettified. This is something I struggle with in my own writing, and I try to learn from kyuuketsukirui's example. I think it helps ground the story in the physical as well as give it that realism that I find so compelling in kyuuketsukirui's stories (and argh, is "Travis" possessive "Travis'" or "Travis's"?). It's not to say that the story isn't gorgeous, because it is, but -- well, like, take, "When he comes up behind her and slides his arms around her waist, she can feel his dick against her buttcheek." If I wrote that, it'd probably come out more like, "When he comes up behind her and slides his arms around her waist, she can feel his erection against the curve of her ass", and it wouldn't be a fraction as effective. That comfort level with simple language really makes a huge difference.
I just think this is a terrific story, and really gets to the heart of their relationship, that it's not about whether one of them has breasts or a dick, but about who they are as people.
For me, the characters do sound very much like Rodney and Teyla from SGA. The thing with the cats, for instance, I would totally expect that of them. At the same time, the lack of references to canon settings or other characters would also let it work beautifully as original fiction. And argh, I hate that term - fanfic is original fiction, dammit, it's just based on someone else's setup and characters. Whether this is Rodney and Teyla or Frank and Olivia, I think it's very original, and very awesome.
That's an interesting point about the use of simple language. I don't think the way you would write it is necessarily any more or less effective than kyuuketsukirui
's. At least, not to my ear. For me, each method creates a different atmosphere, a different mood. Depending on the story you wanted to tell and the feeling you wanted it to have, I think either could work just as well. Different tools for a different job, you know?
(I think both Travis' and Travis's are acceptable. Damn s-ending names! *shakes fist*)
I really like using sex scenes, not as metaphor, but as a form of storytelling in and of themselves. How much can I get across about these people and their relationship in this one scene? In this case, I really wanted to show that while this wouldn't have been Teyla's first choice, she's committed to Rodney and loves him no matter what.