Do What Feels Good

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My friend cymbalism and I had a hankering for some Dean/Castiel shower smut, so we wrote some. Like, 12K+ words worth. What can I say? We had way too much fun. Hope you get a kick out of it, too.

Title: Do What Feels Good
Authors: catchclaw & cymbalism
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Castiel learns to love alone time in the shower. And then he learns to share. 
Warnings: Prolonged showers may cause skin to prune. Also, human!Cas, autoerotica, tattoo worship, and uber-indulgent fangirl fantasy. And PWP like whoa.
Word Count: ~12.5k
Notes: Inspired by [x]. Egged on by [x]. And [x] didn’t hurt, either.
FicMix: Story soundtrack / our smut-writing playlist extraordinaire.

[Read it on AO3]

All The Ways This Is Gonna Go Wrong

A Destiel college AU drabble that I posted back in March on my tumblr; one I liked well enough, in retrospect, to archive over here.

I’ll overthink it, like I always do. Hell, I think I already have if I’m writing this shit down. All the ways this is gonna go wrong.

Like:

I’ll plan really careful what to say and when, and then something random will happen–you’ll snort popcorn up your nose, or I’ll hit a pedestrian, or the bar will be too crowded after the movie and we’ll have to go someplace else. Except it’ll be Friday and every bar will be slammed with undergrads and you’ll get quiet and I’ll get pissed and we won’t go anywhere, fine, and you won’t even let me drive you home. You’ll insist on walking, ok, only like four blocks, but still, it’ll be enough to convince me that you’re out trolling for a soriority chick, like the last girl you were with in that LDR that you’ve brought up more than once just so I know that you’re not looking for a serious thing but that you’re free to fuck whoever you want, no strings but plenty of baggage. And then I’ll drive home with the radio off and scowl and slam the door a little harder than I should and wake up fucking Sam, who’ll interrogate me outta the goodness of his heart and his sympathy will make me want to punch a wall, which of course I can’t because then you’d see the scars on Monday in class and say:

Oh. Dean. Are you ok?

Continue reading “All The Ways This Is Gonna Go Wrong”

Television for Women

I’ve been sick for the last few days and, for me, something about being sick screams bad TV movies and tea. So one night in a Vicks Vapor Rub huff, I wrote this, some post-season eight Destiel bunker fluff.

His first month in the bunker, Cas won’t stop watching Lifetime. Television for women, the promos proclaim, but Cas doesn’t seem to care.

At first, they think it’s because he’s lost the remote. but then he starts name-checking Meredith Baxter Birney at the dinner table. Lynda Carter and Jaclyn Smith. Heather Locklear and Tori Spelling and that’s a little weird, sure. Earns him an eyebrow over the green beans but hey, you know, whatever.

Continue reading “Television for Women”

King For A Day

balthatzar is all kinds of awesome

Merry Christmas, all. Have a little Destiel from Balthazar’s perspective. 

Against his better judgement, Balthazar agrees to spend Christmas with Cas, Dean, Sam, and Gabriel. It is, to his surprise, not entirely unpleasant.

Christmas with humanity is, to be frank, a drag.

But I’ve had centuries, nay, millennia, to hone my avoidance techniques.

It’s gotten to the point, in fact, where I manage to very nearly forget about Christmas until the very last minute, leaving me to suffer for only a day or two when certain of the more flexible humans I know are “celebrating” with their families, which I know they enjoy not a jot. But still, they go every year and leave me bored enough to try skiing or draft beer or sex in the missionary position and really, life is too bloody short for any of that.

So it was with great trepidation that I accepted Cas’ invitation to “celebrate” the “holidays” with he and his favorite pets: the short one Cas was in love with, for some reason, and the gangly one who’d been banging a demon, which frankly put him head and shoulders above the other one, in my book, but, alas. There’s no accounting for taste. Continue reading “King For A Day”

A Natural Shift

A Destiel high school AU for lovemejawn, by way of thanks.

After something unexpected happens between he and Cas, Dean is at a loss. Because what do you say after your best friend comes in his jeans from just your kisses and the words you curl in his ear? What are you supposed to say to him, after that?

Continue reading “A Natural Shift”

Litany


One of those fics that started out as one thing and decided it wanted to be something else entirely.

It takes Dean two weeks and four states to find it, the place where he’ll stage the most important conversation–confession?–of his life.

Litany

It took Dean two weeks and four states to find it, the place where he was gonna stage the most important conversation of his life.

More like, a confession. Or an autopsy. Or the long, lonely record of his broken heart.

One that he hoped Cas would be anxious to fix.

There wasn’t a moment of truth, some bolt of divine revelation. It was more like a recognition. One day, he’d heard Cas settle beside him on the front seat, and his first thought had been: hey, it’s Cas. The dude who I love.

And it was.

After that, things got a little weird, for Dean. Because Cas was around a lot, and they were alone a lot, and suddenly it was like a middle school dance inside the Impala, or in their crummy motel rooms, or in the middle of 1977. Dean kept over-reading, kept trying to interpret, intuit every sigh, or raised eyebrow, or proximity alarm.

At some level, he thought Cas had to know what he was doing. That nobody, angel or otherwise, was that freaking clueless about personal space.

He had to know. He did.

But the next moment, Cas would move away like nothing had happened and Dean would kick himself, curse himself for being such a sentimental douche.

Because there was no way Cas knew what kind of effect he had on Dean when he did dumb shit like breathe the same air or give over that half-smile or just listen so fucking hard that Dean could practically see his brainwaves.

But it was never steady, his reading of Cas, and so he found himself drifting closer and closer to yes, to he wants you, to he loves you, than he wanted to.

Continue reading “Litany”

The most beautiful thing I’ve read in forever.


I don’t fangirl out over fic very often. Hell, it’s been ages. But this? This? is the most beautiful fic I’ve read in ages:

A Good Place For Letting Go (Sour_Idealist)
AU Destiel with UST. Dean and Cas are on this beautiful little island off Scotland and all Dean can think about, accidentally, is how he’s so not gay. And how much he wants to be with Cas.

I don’t want to sound like a dick, but do yourself a favor and go read this one. Right the fuck now.

We Make It. With Love.

No, no, I’m listening. Not just staring at your beautiful face.

My friend and collaborator fanspired kicked a lovely and complicated question at me yesterday, and as a) the answer to her question is sort of fundamental to this blog; and b) my response spun out into a 20-page dissertation, I decided to post my response here.

Fanspired asked:

I’m puzzled about the relationship between these two [feminism and slash], given that we’re reading a genre of porn that specifically excludes us…Why do feminists read/write male/male slash?

I can answer that question only in terms of my own thinking and experiences. There’s been much written on this subject, and I suspect that there are probably as many answers to your question as there are feminists in slash fandom. Know, then, that my response pivots around my own beliefs, and makes no attempt to speak for feminists in slash as a whole.

The simplest answer, for me, is that such practices are a means through which, by which, to resist the way that female sexual desire and expression is coded, understood, and controlled within the dominant discourse.

In Textual Poachers, Henry Jenkins, scholar of fan practices in general and one of the first to write about slash practice specifically, puts it this way:

“Slash confronts the most repressive forms of sexual identity and provides utopian alternatives to current configurations of gender; slash does not, however, provide a politically stable or even consistently coherent response to these concerns.” (189-190).

As a feminist, I see slash practices as active, resistant, and women-centered.

Active in that writing and reading slash fiction allows women [and some men] to re-author their own sexuality outside of the constraints of heternormativity. Hell, I’d argue that having to select any kind of label for one’s sexual identity, be it hetero or gay or bi or whatever, is more constraining than constructive. Indeed, the Kinsey scale suggests to me that there are very few of us who fit neatly and with no ragged edges into any of these categories.

I think sexual identity for many people isn’t “stable” or consistant over the course of our entire lives, although the dominant discourse is loathe to acknowledge or explore this idea–in part, I think, because these identities are too freaking complicated and individual to be easily narrativized. It’s much easier to say: you’re gay or you’re straight. Maybe bi. But that’s it! More than three and it gets confusing, damn it.

We’re watching you, too, babe.

So, for me, reading and writing slash gives me a chance to run around in many different kinds of sexual expressions, performances of desire, and sex acts outside of the binaries that dominate Western discourse around sexuality: gay and straight/male and female. In doing so, I can actively write, rewrite, and write again my own sexual identity, rather than serving as a passive receptor of male [eh] sexual desire, as the dominant discourse tells me I do every damn day. Indeed, the dd still tells us, I’d argue, that, as women, we “should” be good and wait for the men to come to us; that we should be content, as John Berger might say, to be the object of the gaze, rather than its master.

Well, I call bullshit.

Slash, for me, is also a form of resistance. The dominant discourse instructs us that what we should want, as women,  is nice, safe, straight, vanilla sex with a man –unless we want to sleep with other women in front of/for the pleasure of men. That’s ok, too, but only if we recognize that what we really want at the end of the day is to be on the receiving end of a dick. Because, yeah.

Now, some would say (to me, at the last conference I went to) that writing/reading M/M slash is NOT a practice of resistance because it’s essentially women lusting after men. That is, the dominant discourse tells us we should desire beautiful men, and thus engaging in slash wherein we deify the male body is, in effect, doing exactly what the patriarchy wants.

This scholar then reminded the audience and I that the producers of SPN have learned to aim their program at women, in so far as having the boys in various states of undress and using the pretty as a selling point (all true). Therefore, she posited, by agreeing that yes, these men are hot (and trading on that in our fic), we’re giving into the dominant discourse, rather than scorning its advances.

Again, I call bullshit.

To embrace the pretty, to happily consume this, this, and this, and then to use that pretty to our own devices–to write/read Sam and Dean or Dean and Cas or Sam and Dean and Cas into hot sex–is, I think, pretty fucking feminist in nature.

Slavoj Zizek–who is an idiot on a lot of things, in my opinion–wisely suggested that the purest form of resistance against the dominant ideology is to embrace the ideology with open arms. So, ok PTB, you want to keep our eyeballs on SPN by dropping images like this into our laps? Awesome. We’re gonna take those–thank you–and do with them what we will: some of which you’ll be ok with, because it’ll make you money, and some of which you’ll have no fucking control over, no matter how meta you try to get on us, baby.

K/S, the granddaddy of them all.

As feminst scholar Constance Penley puts it in NASA/TREK, her brilliant examination of Kirk/Spock slash:

“slash fans do more than ‘make do’; they make  (106).

Penley also notes Joanna Russ’ notion that slash writing is, essentially,

pornography by women, for women, with love (qtd. 103).

This is the last key piece of the puzzle, for me. Slash fiction is a space that dominated by women. Period. At some level, we’re women writing for, and to, other women. Sometimes, we’re an audience of one. Other times, the stories that we shape and kick out into the world are consumed by women whom we will never meet–but who will use our stories in their own way, make and remake them, hate them or love them, say “that’s not my Sam and Dean!” or “oh, god, that’s what my boys look like, too.”

This isn’t to say that a discursive space that’s dominated by women is inherently feminist in nature. It’s not. But, for me, spaces like the Sam/Dean Slash Archive or Archive of Our Own or any of the thousands of relevant LiveJournal pages allow for conversation and exchange between women that the dominant discourse discourages if not outright denies. We can talk, in these spaces, about sex and desire and character and narrative and incest and wingfic and curtains and emotion and trauma in ways that we can’t do in our everyday lives. If anything, SPN has become a feminized space because the characters are vehicles that make such conversations possible, even desirable, and provide the means through which, by which, we as women (primarily) can have them.

It’s not just about female appropriation of the male form–the most frequent academic criticism I’ve read and heard against slash. Hell, we might have a little penis envy, but so what? Reading and writing slash fic lets us try on the cock for awhile, put it to its best (most enthusiastic?) possible usage, and then reap the benefits of that textual world as only women can.

Don’t worry, baby: we usually play nice.

So you’re right, fanspired: on the surface, slash fic can look misogynistic. It’s women playing with men, navigating, negotiating, exploring, fuck, enjoying their sexuality via the male body. But I’d argue that the lack of gender constraints, the opportunity to resist the dominant discourse’s expectations of female sexuality, and the highly feminized communities that slash offers make reading and writing slash conducive to feminist participation, study, and interpretation.

As my boy Henry Jenkins points out:

not all of slash is feminist; yet one cannot totally ignore the progressive potential of this exchange.” (221)

As a feminist, it’s that “progressive potential,” the opportunity to repeat with difference, as Judith Butler might say, that keeps me coming back–yes–to slash.

Know Your Squick

In which a post that started off quick and funny ends up long and angsty. 

One of the great things about slash fic is that it forces you to get to know your squick, those points at which the fic does something [to someone] that goes a step beyond what your personal fanon is willing to tolerate.

Sometimes, squick points are specific sex acts. Or they can be certain character pairings that to you, the reader, border on the unholy. In a bad way. Other times, it’s a particular trope that makes you nervous, like wing!fic, or curtain!fic or bottom!sammy in SPN slash.

What I appreciate about the squick factor is that it is, in my experience, a constant site of negotiation. When I started reading Wincest, for example, I was horrified by the notion of Castiel/Dean. Then it kind of slid from horrified to indifferent. Then from indifferent to oh, okay, maybe I could see it. And so on.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some squick rubicons that I still will not cross. Any slash fic featuring John Winchester, for example? Forget it. No freaking way.

But I guess I see the whole notion of squick in slash as generative, as a way of delimiting one’s imaginative [sexual] boundaries and then shifting those borders as needed. It’s like Henry Jenkins says in Textual Poachers:

“Not all of slash is politically conscious; not all of slash is progressive; not all of slash is feminist; yet one cannot totally ignore the progressive potential of this exchange and the degree to which slash may be one of the few places in popular culture where questions of sexual identity can be explored outside of the polarization that increasingly surrounds this debate.” (Jenkins 221)

So, for me, wrestling with the squick is one way that I as a reader [and a writer] do this kind of work, monkey around with “questions of sexual identity” for myself and for my own readers via slash fic.

Notice how I’ve gotten this far without saying what my SPN squick points are? As I’ve said before: repression–it’s a talent.

Now these are mine and mine alone: I sure as hell make no judgements about other readers and writers who go places I don’t want, or who avoid locations that I hang out in all the time. [I’m thinking of one of my readers who is lovely about my Wincest fic but vaguely disgusted by my Cas/Dean stuff. Heh.]

  1. Anything with John Winchester. Period. Dude creeps me out in the main narrative and I sure as hell don’t want him hovering over my slash fic.
  2. Non-con, in general. There are times when I’m ok with dubious con–because it usually works out for the best, in a not-terribly-feminist sort of way–but non-con? No thanks.
  3. Extreme violence. Yes, “extreme” is a wiggle word, but it’s like Justice Stewart said: I know it when I see it.
  4. Fic set before the boys are in high school. Just–ack.

But my biggest squick point as a fan has nothing to do with the fic. It has to do with the real world.

See, as a fan, I’ve never really been into the “real world” side of whatever it was I was fanning over. Take Star Trek, the foundation of my life as a fan. I’ve never been to a convention, or stood in line to hear the actors speak, or gone to Gene Roddenberry’s grave, because, fundamentally, what I love about ST is the fiction, are the characters and the stories. I don’t ‘ship Nimoy and Shatner, I don’t follow the actors around on Twitter, I’ve never watched the show’s blooper reels because, it’s just like, I know that it’s all pretend. All made up and crafted out of styrofoam and velour and monsters of the week: I know that.

But there’s part of me that’s cognitively dissonant enough to hang on to the fiction, to be invested in Dr. McCoy rather than DeForest Kelley, in Khan rather than Montelban, in Chapel rather than Majel Barrett. And I want to keep it so, to keep pretending at least in that tiny region of my brain that the Enterprise exists, that these people are truly tangling with all the weird shit that Kirk’s ego gets them into.

And in ST fandom, this is actually pretty easy to do, for me. Because the actors are old enough–hell, the show was old enough, when I stumbled across it–that I can fashion that dissonant space without too much trouble. Can maintain it without installing a watcher at the gate.

But in SPN fandom? Those borders are much, much more difficult to enforce, given the primary narrative’s obsession with pointing back at its real world fans and the real-time nature of the show’s production [relatively] and my consumption of the product.

And yes, talk about dissonance, right? Given that my research on this stupid show had centered on fandom, on the show’s portrayal of its female fans. But I don’t care about who’s producing, at some level. At who’s doing the writing, what the network is saying about next season, what the actors [god forbid] think about the current story arc. [This may explain why I broke up with SPN for like two weeks over “The French Mistake.” Grrr.]

So I actively avoid learning anything about the real world side of SPN. Like Ned Seagoon used to say on the Goon Show: I don’t wish to know that!

Now granted, this IS going to cause problems for my scholarship, this desire to hold the borders fast between the world of the show and the real life logistics that make the show happen, the real people who engage with the fans [whether we want them to or not]. I know this. It’s problematic. I’m not an “informed fan,” as a  fellow scholar put it once at an SPN panel.

Maybe it’s just temporary. Maybe it’ll be like my once avowed opposition to J2 [Real Person Slash for SPN], a taboo that flew by the wayside thanks to my research on meta slash fic. [Hey, I had to read those stories! It was part of my research. I swear.]

But. We shall see.

Slashing NC’s Amendment One

Suck it, Bob McDonnell.

As Rachel Maddow notes, last night was yet another instance of the majority voting on minority rights: and guess what happened? The minority lost. Shocker.

Except this time, in North Carolina, the passage of Amendment One is a loss for everybody in the state who might, one day, somehow, love someone and want to have that non-marriage connection honored in any way by officialdom. The amendment bans not only “gay marriage” [which was already outlawed by existing state legislation], but also prohibits civil unions or common-law partnerships from being recognized by the state in any capacity.

Straight people, gay people, bi people, whoever: this is bad policy for everybody who might love someone else. Who might want to visit that person in the hospital during a serious illness. Who might want to be able to make decisions re: medical care for their partner. Who might want to care for the couple’s children, to have that parentage recognized by the state. Who might want to be protected from the partner in a domestic violence situation. Bad news all the way around.

Now my friends in the liberal media–and some in the mainstream as well–are blaming the passage of the destructive amendment on a lack of voter education, on the notion that many people who voted for this thing knew not what they did [as a famous man once said].

This is, to me, an optimistic interpretation.

I think many of the folks who voted for this bill knew enough: they knew it was against the gays, that it would “protect” marriage from homo-cooties, or whatever. The rest? Was just noise. Doesn’t matter. The objective here was to hurt, to lash out against the “evils” of homosexuality.

This is terribly sad, to me. And utterly un-“Christian,” the word behind which many of the bill’s proponents took refuge. Granted, I don’t go to church, though I was raised in one. But I do believe in the basic tenets that that Jesus cat was kicking around 2000 years ago, the ones about being your brother’s keeper, about caring for your fellow humans, about treating everyone with love and dignity and respect, even when you think they’re fucking nuts.

Ok, maybe that bit’s only in the NRSV version.

Still. To me, practices that make hate a central tenet of your government, that invest one whacked out version of “Christianity” into the state: that’s not what the cat was saying. That’s not how I read the Good Samaritan, you know?

My fair state has its own issues, namely Gov. Transvaginal Probe and his mealy-mouthed “protecting lady brains from teh hard medical decisions” bullshit. So I cannot cast aspersions on North Carolina as a whole. So, for, now, I content myself with my own particular kind of resistance, summed up in my car tag above: writing gay porn about human and angels, among others.

And hey, you never know. Maybe the nice people of NC would be a little less anxious to kick gay people in the head if they just relaxed with a little Destiel, in their time. Or some nice smutty Wincest. Hell, maybe they need to go straight to the Wincestiel.

Whatever it takes, people. Whatever it takes.