CHARACTERIZATION: 1/5 (they don't even stay consistently OOC)
PLOT: 0/5 (it was a PWP, with a predictable ending and unresolved loose ends.)
WRITING: 3/5 (not great, but the sex was good and the other problems could be corrected by a competent beta reader.)
GIFT ABUSE: 5/5 (I wouldn't wipe another guy's man juice on something my boyfriend gave me.)
This fic was a recommendation given to me by a friend, who had a few other choice things to say about it as well. She posted her comments on her blog, which I won't be linking to in the interests of our half-assed anonymity, but I'll be including some of them. If you recognize them, good for you. If not, even better.
This is a Chrono Cross fic featuring Norris and Leena. I will describe these characters for you in case you didn't pick them up in your travels through the game (though neither were particularly difficult to get). Norris is a 26-year-old commander in the Porre military. He's the leader of the Black Wind, a sort of undercover team. He's generally collected, efficient, competent, and slightly formal. He uses a gun to fight. Leena is a 16-year-old girl living in secluded Arni Village. Her childhood love interest is Serge (the game's hero) and she is a very jealous yet virtuous maiden who is very proper and polite to everyone except Serge. According to the game guide, she's a "dreamy and naive girl." She's domestic and good at cooking and taking care of children. She fights by beating enemies with frying pans and spatulas.
At this juncture I feel it's important for you to know that her virtue is of massive importance to her, and all three of her special attacks contain the word "Maiden." Two of them are specifically described in the game guide as "A virgin's prayer for [something]." Let's all keep this in mind as we go.
The pairing in this fic REEKS of a phenomenon I've noticed in fic (though it's by no means a recent trend... it was probably around when the first fan ever ficced). I'll call that phenomenon "FCS" -- Favorite Character Slash.
So what is this? Well, it should be pretty self-explanatory; the author just takes his/her favorite characters, no matter how completely random that pairing is, and makes them have sex with one another. They needn't even be from the same series. In my opinion, FCS is one step up from Mary Sue fiction. Why do I think this is an FCS fic? Well, unless you purposely place them both in your party, these characters would never meet one another. When not in your party, Leena stays in Arni Village and Norris stays at the manor, and they have completely different interests and so on. They never meet, talk, or interact during the game at all, and they have nothing in common.
Well, now that we've established that I'm raising a jaded eyebrow at this pairing, let's get on with the plot!
The fic starts off well, with a dynamic scene showing Norris dragging Leena into a jail cell. The author doesn't say WHERE this jail cell might be, since the Porre Military has no actual headquarters anywhere in El Nido, due to them being an invading force; however, the fic's premise is that the military came and took over Arni Village, so I just assume the jail is hidden in the village someplace. Maybe it's underground.
In any case, I like the action: I feel it's good to start off your story with an action scene of some kind. Dialogue, a fight, a big event in a character's life; it interests your reader right away and makes them hang around thinking, "I wonder what's going on! I've got to read some more of this fic and find out!" So, even though Leena is not a favorite character of mine, I thought, "Hey, this is starting off pretty well! Tell me, author, why is Norris putting Leena into a jail cell? Is it just a random service to humanity, or what?"
It turns out that for unspecified reasons (even Norris says he doesn't know), the Porre Military decided to take over small, podunk Arni Village. Even the "powerful Serge" (this phrasing made me giggle, although I suppose he is powerful) can't fight -- because the bastards have his wounded mother! Oh no!
But Leena, the girl who normally fights with a frying pan, grabs one of Serge's weapons and attacks savagely, wounding an assload of soldiers. Apparently this pure girl-next-door doesn't give a shit about the safety of Serge's mother (or her own grandmother and little sister, for that matter). Eventually Norris himself shows up to take her down, which he does as quickly and efficiently as he can without actually hitting her, which would violate his ultra-gentlemanly nature. Three cheers for in-character! ... Well, sorta. Okay, not really.
We arrive back at the present time, when he's jamming her into a jail cell. This is followed by a few pages of the two of them trading catty insults; Leena behaves like a raging bitch, and Norris, while initially polite, soon lowers himself to return her rude remarks in kind. I find this hard to believe, myself; although I'm not sure why Leena is being kept in a separate jail cell from all the other prisoners, I still don't think she'd start swearing like a sailor just because the other villagers aren't around to hear it. I did find Norris's characterization at this point tolerable, however. He's a bit TOO formal, but he's calm, patient and polite in the face of bitchiness, and when he finally loses his temper, it happens in a way which I can believe.
It's at this point that the fic really started to lose me: suddenly, all Norris can think about is how cute and sexy Leena is--although his saner side keeps pointing out how bitchy, bratty, and whiny she's being. Yes, the author used all those words. Repeatedly.
I'm supposed to believe that this mature, poised military man finds Leena's immaturity, lack of manners, and illogical thought processes to be attractive? Yeeeeaaaah. So, after the insult-trading, Norris goes upstairs because her screaming and bitching gave him such a headache that he has to go take aspirin. Man, is there anything sexier than someone who inspires migraines? He also seems to be the only person in the entire jail other than Leena, which makes me wonder what the rest of the military is off doing with the rest of the villagers. I hope they're not all as horny as he is.
Norris eventually decides to go back down the stairs to "watch" Leena some more; for what purpose I'm not really sure. I thought the point of jail cells was so that the people in them DIDN'T have to be watched by a live captor all the time. Meanwhile, in the jail cell, Leena is fantasizing about the commander. I suppose I can see this happening. Sort of. He is indeed a very sexy man, and she IS a romantic young girl.
Then she starts groping herself.
I'm not sure I can buy this. She's in a JAIL CELL. Her boyfriend whom she loves (and the fic states that she does indeed love him, though she's sensing that alas, it is Not To Be) is trapped elsewhere, as are her family and friends. She has been betrayed by someone she trusted, has no idea what's going on, and she just spent the last hour or so indulging in physical violence, screaming, and crying. I'm not sure she'd move on to masturbation quite that quickly.
The fic quickly degenerates into a really long sex scene; in order to restrain her with handcuffs and a gag (for understandable reasons, really), Norris goes into her cell, slams her up against the wall, and is in the process of subduing her when she grabs his kiwis and squeezes. This is, of course, so massively pleasant that he forgets that he's the COMMANDER OF THE FORCES and SHE'S a PRISONER.
Isn't there a Miranda Right stating "You have the right to not be violated by your captor?" This is actually a fairly common plot in romance novels, fanfics, etc--falling for your captor. However, in this case, where it's very much against the principles of both characters, and they were not previously enemies... well, I can't say it's a plot device I have much appreciation for in this situation.
What follows is basically just a lot of sex, with lots of lusting and I Love Yous and moaning and stuff. There's also a paragraph-long bondage scene! (You knew the gag and handcuffs would be making a reappearance, right?) The sex scenes, while not the hottest thing ever written, are pretty good; I'd say they were quite entertaining to read, and definitely the high point of this fic. With some grammar and spelling corrections, I think there's not an H fic archive on the net that wouldn't gladly take this fic.
There are a few things I'd like to highlight about this section: the first is that Norris (who is 28 years old in this fic) comes at least SEVEN TIMES over the course of a few hours. I find myself AMAZED at his manly prowess. Even young, sperm-filled boys at their sexual peaks don't generally get it up QUITE that much. I suppose it's physically possible... I guess... but it's still.. well... DAMN, Norris. ...... DAMN.
The second thing I want to mention is the action that takes place in the following paragraph:
She nodded at him, her mouth still covered with semen. Norris tried to hold back from laughing at how cute she looked, wearing his cum. Still it had felt extremely good to have released all that excitement pent up since he'd brought her in. But in turn, he felt somewhat empty at not having pleased her at the same time.All right, did anyone else find that COMPLETELY TASTELESS? She just used a GIFT FROM HER BOYFRIEND to wipe another man's jizz off her face.
She continued to cough a little more, then used her sweater to wipe the rest of his cum off.
"It's alright," she replied, smiling at him. She lay herself on top of him once again. "I can always just wash it...but I'd rather have it as a reminder of this day."
Norris smiled and pulled her down for another deep kiss. Oh how he loved her lips so much...
"You know, I'm willing to guess that you were dressing yourself for a date with someone before this whole invasion thing..."
She shook her head. "No...I was simply going to visit Serge today and I thought I should wear this sweater that he gave me for my birthday. I figured he'd love to see me in it."
It's also important to note that at this point in the fic, even though Norris repeatedly confesses his love both in Romeo fashion and in Pimp fashion, Leena is still pining over Serge and makes several references to being in love with him, to Norris's chagrin. And then she uses the gift Serge gave her for her birthday to wipe semen off her face.
I also like how she appears to be planning to keep the sperm. It's like those people who get their favorite athlete's sweaty jersey and, starry-eyed, decide to never wash it. Yum.
SERGE: I did not have sexual relations with that woman!
KID: Then how do ya explain this white stain on the sweater YOU gave her for her birthday?!
SERGE: I didn't do her--uh, it! It wasn't me!
KID: Oh, I suppose she's preserving someone ELSE'S crusty love-spuzz?
Anyway, there was a bunch of sex, sex, and more sex, and then they took a shower together where they presumably had more sex.
Then the author skips to the epilogue without ever giving the reader any resolution for anything else that happened in the "plot" (for example, why did the army occupy the village? The world will never know). The end of the fic approaches, bearing evil! EVIL! Okay, it's not THAT evil, but it's heinously smarmy. If you read my little profile over on the left you'll see that, unlike many of the other bitches here, I love WAFF. But WAFF is different from smarm. How do I define the differences? Well, IMHO, WAFF = Warm and Fuzzy Feeling, and in theory, after reading it you feel warm and fuzzy inside, like a blanket fresh from the dryer.
Smarm, on the other hand, I define as needlessly, disgustingly sweet, or too sweet with no substance. It's like eating pure meringue... a little of it is good, but if you eat more than a few bites, you start to feel sick and wish you had something of more substance.
So the end is smarmy. Why is that? I'll tell you, sugar-shocked reader: Leena ends up pregnant with Norris's baby, and though she had second thoughts about him, it's too late, for she heard he was with another woman!
But then he shows up at the hospital on the appropriate day (you know... the Arni Village Hospital...) and confesses his love for her, and how no other woman could compare and he was heartsick etc., blah blah blah, and then they get married and live happily ever after, the end.
The ending was pretty stock; but it's extremely overdone. "Alas, the one whom I rejected in my ignorance is now with another and I'm alone! Sob sob! Oh, wait, here he comes back to me randomly at the end, because he couldn't forget me and my face haunted his dreams and [insert schmoopy "I wish guys would feel this way about me" sentiments] and now we're happy together with a picket fence and babies yay!"
I suppose it's not ALWAYS bad when this cliche is used, but it's usually bad, because there's usually no reason for the guy to have his sudden change of heart. It's a Deus ex Machina... the author decides that she's spent long enough having [person 1] angst about [person 2] so she just says, "and then [person 2] decided one day that s/he actually loves [person 1], goes and tells him/her, and they live happily ever after!"
What I'm saying is that in this sort of fic, there's generally no actual REASON for the change of heart... the author just ends the story whenever she's tired of writing, and she can extend it later if she wants. It's one of those fic plots where you have the beginning, and then you can just stuff as many painful encounters, angsty memory sequences, and flashbacks into the middle as you like, and then when you're tired of adding more scenes in the middle, you just stick the happy ending on like you're putting the top slice of bread on a sandwich.
Another thing that bothered me about this story was the characterization. Norris appears to have some kind of personality disorder. He alternates with great frequency between being Mr. Chivalry, and being a Mac Daddy Pimp.
Romeo Norris says things like "I wish not to have you degrade me," and "I should not be doing this at all...it is wrong," and "My lass...are you absolutely positive this is what you desire? I do not wish for you to have any regrets later."
Pimp Norris has other things to say, such as "Baby...why'd you have to be so noisy today..." and "It's not over yet, baby..get ready for the dirtiest part."
Romeo Norris calls Leena "darling," "my dear," and "sweetheart," while Pimp Norris calls her "baby," "babe," and "baby doll." He does stick mostly to being the more in-character chivalrous, romantic, Romeo Norris, but his occasional character lapses are noticeable and rather puzzling. What brought on these sudden swings of elocution? Does a rush of blood to the area cause his brain to switch to Pimp mode? Does it happen when he gets emotional? Did Orcha slip some of that "crazy chef" stuff in his food when he wasn't looking?
Leena is characterized fairly consistently throughout the fic, which I appreciate. But to me, that characterization felt weird... Leena IS immature and annoying in canon ("SERGE! Go kill baby dragons so I can have a necklace like everyone else!"), but she's also virginal and proud of it. In this fic she initiates everything, from groping herself to grabbing Norris's ballsack, and though she does devote the stray thought or two to her purity, she thinks a lot more about how much she wants sex and how much she likes it, and she has pretty dirty thoughts and fantasies for a supposedly pure-hearted virgin girl. We can only surmise that she ate some of the "crazy chef" stuff too, and when Pimp Norris got his jive on, his pheromones or something activated h0bag-Leena.
Unfortunately, all Leena's attacks in battle are powered by her spiritual and physical Purity Power®! How will she defeat monsters in combat now? With this in mind we've devised a new set of h0bag specials for her, designed to take advantage of her new Soiled Dove status.
[level 3] MaidenHand: her purity lends her strength as she slaps someone. -->
[level 3] Bitchslap: she slaps around the monsters for being in her territory. This be my street corner, wh0re!
[level 5] MaidenHeart: re-energizes some of her elements. -->
[level 5] SkankSoul: re-energizes her libido so she can have a finish "battle" as many times as the client--er, opponent, can get his "weapon" up.
[level 7] MaidenFaith: described in the book as as "a prayer for healing"; she gains auto-life and some stats boosts during that battle. -->
[level 7] ContraceptiveWish: she prays to not get pregnant. A giant condom descends over your party and protects them from the colorless status effect "pregnant." "Pregnant" reduces all stats except HP by about 20%, uses up an extra point of stamina for every move, and makes you unable to wear armor since it won't fit. It's a time-based status effect; you can either get rid of with a Panaecea, or just wait 9 fights for it to wear off. If you do this, you'll get the item "CrackBaby" which can be equipped to lower all your stats by 50%, since how can you pay attention to the fight? However, if equipped, the CrackBaby will randomly (about 1 in 3 fights) be induced to cry in a choleric fit of misery during battle, and the monsters will take pity on you. Instead of fighting, they will have sex with the equipped character and then leave, but you still get the money and items from the fight. (For extra cash, remember to also equip the Profiteer's Purse!) You can sell the CrackBaby for 10G, or deconstruct it for leather, bone, and shiny sand.
To review in short: the fic has good sex scenes, so-so dialogue, bad characterization, and a sappy ending. I've read much worse fic than this; but then, I've also read much better. If you're looking for Chrono Cross fic, you might not want to enter THIS alternate reality.