I have many options here: I could talk about the Final Fantasy and Dragon Age Kiss Battles, or my Alistair/Aeducan fics, or the Hawke Alphabet, or MegaFlare and "Reconcilable Differences". But as soon as I saw the question, I knew immediately what I was going to write about: Death Shall Have No Dominion, aka DSHnD, the FFX/X-2 AU fic I wrote with kunstarniki.
I first met kunstarniki, more often known as Ikon, in 2005, when we traded reviews on our Paine/Nooj stories and started following each other on LJ. Around that time, she was writing a story about Nooj during the time of the Crimson Squad, in the form of a journal. Soon, others were joining in: ryry started a journal from Gippal's point of view, and another writer, Lee (no longer in fandom so far as I know) took on Baralai. When Ikon asked if anyone wanted to take on Paine's part of the story, I jumped at the chance. We didn't collaborate in the traditional sense of working on drafts together, but we drew inspiration from each other, weaving threads together and playing off unexpected things to turn the four separate stories into a seamless whole. And it was incredibly inspiring. I wrote a thirty thousand word story in less than a month, a creative outburst unlike any I've experienced before or since, and it was incredible fun. The stories were collectively known as The Confessional; once they were finished, Ry created a website to host them so that the journal entries could be easily read in chronological order. It was one of the first things I ever did in fandom, and still one of my fondest memories, but I mostly mention it here as backstory for what came next.
Also in 2005, I was also working on an epic fic about Auron ("A Guardian's Legacy"), and Ikon and I used to speculate about Auron and Nooj: how would they interact? Would they get along, or clash? Since there's basically no reasonable way for them to have met as adults in canon, what kind of AU would best bring them together? It all stayed in the realm of idle chatter until late 2005, when I was struck by a plot bunny with such force that I realized I was going to have to start writing it down. I invited Ikon to join me, she accepted, and the rest is history. We started posting the story in February 2006 and finished it October -- 33 chapters, at a pace of almost one per week -- and although I've never done a complete wordcount on it, it has to be over 100k.
This story was much more of a true collaboration. Most of the time, one of us would write a segment on our own, then present it to the other for suggestions and editing. But some of the interactions and conversations were written in a true back-and-forth manner, with each of us reacting in near-real time to the thoughts of the other. Then, once we decided we had enough material for a chapter, I would assemble the pieces in order, and we'd both read through them and edit until we were satisfied. This was before Google Docs, so we did most of our communication via a LiveJournal community we created for that purpose, as well as to provide a home for the published chapters.
Despite having some very different ideas about the characters and the canon, Ikon and I worked amazingly well together -- more often than not, even sections written with little group discussion would fit without much editing. It was the same creative charge I got from The Confessional, but dialed up to eleven. I've worked on other collaborative writings since, including another with Ikon, but none of them have ever been quite like DSHnD. I look back on both the story itself and the experience of writing it as one of my favorite fandom experiences, and I doubt anything will ever quite equal it. Sadly, Ikon passed away in 2009. But I'm happy to have DSHnD stand as a memorial to her, to her writing, and to my friendship with her.
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