Author Rec: The Te
Posted by S.R.B.
Today, I’m going to sing Te’s praises.
I first found Te because of X2. Gimmie a sec, I’ll ‘splain.
So, in the distant recesses of my fannish past, I became a fan of Highlander. It was after the show was cancelled, so what episodes I saw, I saw in syndication, taped off of television (yes, I said taped), or were on the one season set that I own. I spent more time than is healthy on the official webpage, wishing I had the money for a sword of my own, and really, really wanting Methos to have his own series. Because he was a snarky bastard and I love him and he is so much more interesting that Duncan McLeod.
Anyway, I would read any fanfic I could that had Methos in it (pre-livejournal and pre-ff.net, too. So, a lot of angelfire and geocities websites with horrible formatting and mind-numbing midi sountracks). And, in the show, Methos was played by actor Peter Wingfield. I was such a fan, that I tried to watch as many of his other works as possible. This was VERY HARD considering YouTube was just a twinkle in it’s programmer’s motherboard. I remember watching several episodes of Queen of Swords somehow. To be fair, I would have probably watched it anyway. It was my kind of show.
So, imagine my surprise, years later, when I go to see X2 and discover that Peter Wingfield is Stryker’s 2IC, Lyman. I saw him, decided instantly that Lyman was actually Methos, and I went “SOMEBODY MUST HAVE WRITTEN THIS FIC!”
And I was right. And it was Te. And it was good.
It’s called Unbound. The premise is that Stryker was controlling Methos the same way he controlled Nightcrawler and just about everybody else. The story starts when Methos wakes up, having revived underwater and finds himself attached to Lady Deathstryke. It just gets better from there.
Anyway, I read some more of her crossovers, and while they were good, nothing really had the same zing for me. Then, a few months later, I got a job at a comic shop and I thought “someone will have written comic book slash.”
And I was right. And it was Te. And it was good. It was more than good. It was AMAZING. It shaped the way I read the characters.
Most of her comic writing is based around the Batclan, and I found myself reading more DC as a result. Now, I read only DC books, and Tim Drake is my personal favorite character, mostly because of all the wonderful things she does with him, and the way that she always makes it work. The possibilities for his character are endless, and Te made me see that–no matter how much the writers fuck with him.
But I’m not bitter.
Te’s Batclan fic is worth reading for the way she explores the psychology of, not only the Batman (and boy is he deliciously fucked up), but of the Robins–particularly Tim and his many, many issues. She addresses questions like: what goes into a man to make him think dressing up as a giant leather bat and jump of buildings is a good idea and what happens when a character who is constantly afraid looses the ability to fear. She looks at situations like; what would happen if Jason didn’t die, and they found stalker!Tim, (Everything Spring, Look Around Round, and the new AU, Summer, with Garment Cast Aside); what would happen if Batman and Nightwing died, and Jason took over? (The Angels You Need); what would happen if a Tim who was never robin was sent to Lex for the summer? (When He Saw His Own Eyes, or, like I like to call it, Tim Fixes the DCU by sleeping with Lex Luthor) She does a wonderful job with Tim, too, whose base personality is so admittedly malleable. The boy deliberately and methodically changed himself multiple times to be the best Robin he could be. (That being said, Te really digs deep into Tim’s issues from being neglected and abandoned as child–something that the comics never tend to address.)
So, I read Te for the psychology. But I would be a big fat liar if I didn’t admit that I mostly read her for the porn. Because it’s not just sex–it’s never just sex–it’s mind-bending, emotionally healing, gender-fucking, sexuality-bending, power-playing, EPIC SEX. I make no bones about it, Te’s stories contained some of the first explicit sex scenes I had read–definitely some of the first explicit slash scenes–and my hope in my own writing is to be able to write sex like Te–because it’s not only steamy as hell, but where the bulk of her character studies take place. It’s sex with purpose. Sexy, sexy purpose.
And that purpose is, most often, exploring sexual identity–gay, straight, poly, and everything in between–gender identity–boy, girl, ladyboy, undecided–and power play in the bedroom, and how it can affect other aspects of life. And these explorations mostly happen with dear little Timmy having lotsa, lotsa kinky sex.
What fascinates me most, about Te’s canon of work, is how Tim’s sex life changes over time, relating both to how he’s portrayed in the comics, to prevailing issues in LGBTQ culture. The earlier stories tend to revolve around Tim coming to terms with his, almost-exclusive, homosexuality. It’s fitting for the character–then fourteen–and for the time when, from what I remember, sexuality was portrayed as much more polarized. He starts to branch out when he flirts with cross-dressing; Cherry Lips–one of the first I read and still one of my favorites. To this day I still have a thing for fishnets and Doc Martens.
He (they?) takes a brief sojourn into transgenderism–most notably in the Young and the Battish (All the Things of the World) story arc, where he appears as the newest Batgirl and is dealing with being, in rough terms, a girl in a boy’s body. Of course, that’s not all because, if nothing else, Te can never be said to take a simple explanation for sexuality (And rightly so). The issue comes up a few times in other stories, but the other landmark is The Fools Who Do, (But Hold Me Fast and Fear Me Not) a universe spawned from a genderswap; Tim is changed into a woman, goes to Bruce for training, and ends up having copious amounts of sex–thereby defeating the evil villain’s plan because he was supposed to have sex with Superboy when Bruce spurned his advances–because the villain never anticipated that Bruce wasn’t actually a boy-lover. That’s right–defeated because Batman wasn’t boning Robin. (Which is, by the way, one of the reasons I love Te–she takes cracky premises and makes them, not only believable, but relevant).
Tim then becomes decidedly polyamorous–and stays that way. The ultimate being Sport Us While We May, which might just be her longest fic to date. It’s certainly the only one I remember that was ever posted in chapters, and not as a single unit. This is the Timmy Does the DCU fic–he sleeps with just about everybody–because he’s been dosed by the Scarecrow and looses his fear. While I can’t, really, say that this is the first poly-fic, it’s certainly feels like a turning point, and Timmy hasn’t been monogamous since.
Recently, Timmy’s been dealing with power-dynamics (breath-play, role-play, hardcore BDSM, such as in To Be Worthy [which has become, funnily enough, my current favorite of hers, and not just because she writes wonderful Roy. But more on this later]) and gender-issues (Seduction of the Timocent Where Tim is neither he nor she, except when he/she totally is).
Through it all, there are a few constants; Tim has toys (shaped like Dick, Bruce, and/or Clark). Tim is–primarily–homosexual. Tim is–primarily–submissive. Tim isn’t attached to who is is, so much as his ability to be useful–and will sometimes go to impossible extremes to be the perfect Robin (like the cybernetic eye and hand in the Angels You Need ‘verse). Tim is a creeper, and people love him that way. Tim is a voyer–and an exhibitionist. Tim likes to be choked. Tim likes it rough. Tim wants to be wanted. Tim has ISSUES because he was, basically, abandoned by his parents. Tim has a very formal speech-pattern (penis and fellatio rather than cock and blowjob). Tim is a nerd. Tim misses his hair-gel. Tim is addicted to Grape-zesti. Tim and Steph are soulmates, sex or no. Tim speaks Kryptonian. Kon wants in Tim’s pants. Dick wants in Tim’s pants. Fuck–EVERYONE wants in Tim’s pants.
…I could continue, but I wont because, at this point, I can’t remember what’s DC and what’s Te–WHICH IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. Personally, I think a lot of what Te’s written should be made canon (it would solve a lot of problems and make a lot of things in the DCU make sense–and probably sell a lot of books 🙂 I think there needs to be more positive gay characters in comics, and they need to be headliners. And Tim coming out of the closet? Wont really surprise anybody in that–“wait, who? Him? …yeah, no, that makes perfect sense–kinda way.)
The point is, I learned a lot about sex and sexuality and gender from Te’s stories–from the way Tim explores these issues. And part of the reason why it works so well is because Tim was created to be the ultimate fan-boy! He is the reader in the comic–a super fan who becomes family. Or, you know, colony. They are bats, after all.
Te’s stories do exactly what fan fiction should–they explore issues that aren’t getting addressed in canon with characters that the readers already know and can relate to. And they do it with porn. Lots and lots of porn.
The biggest issue I’ve had with writing this post is that there is SO MUCH I want to write about Te’s works–and there are a lot of works to get through. Too much to post here all at once. Also, I just discovered that the reason I haven’t seen any new stuff from her in a while is because she’s been updating her dreamwidth and not her insanejournal. Or, for some reason, I couldn’t access them. So, to celebrate her new swath of stories and to finally give praise to a writer I have followed diligently for nearly ten years, I will do this:
I’m going to go through her archives and rec my favorite stories and series one at a time. Each will get their own post, complete with my own pseudo-academic mini-essay on the issues addressed within the story. There will be a lot of them. Te is rather prolific and damn good to boot.
So I will leave you with the link to her archive, and send you forth to read anything and everything that strikes your fancy. She tends to write long, so be prepared to sit there for hours (I’ve lost nights to single stories by her) completely enraptured. I’ll be back soon with the first of my favorites, in no particular order.
Oh, also, if you like her stuff, let her know. There’s nothing an author likes more than feedback. It’s terrifying putting writing out there, and the worst is feeling like nobody is reading it.
To you, Te, I say:
You never fail to make my day.
So, I was reading this story by Te…