I should probably start this post with the admission that I imprinted hard on Mulder/Scully as my first OTP, because that will probably make everything I say after this point make sense.
I think if I had to use one word to describe the kind of pairings I like it's 'messy'.
For me, messy doesn't necessarily mean that the characters are rivals or enemies. I actually don't like a lot of rival/enemies pairings (Harry/Draco was always mystifying and confusing to me). For me, messy means that there's a lot of history between two people, some of it good, some of it bad. Messy means that the relationship is not defined by just one thing, like romantic love or lust or even hatred, but other complicated feelings in there, too. Friendship, co-dependence, distrust, extreme trust, past betrayal. Messy means that there have been stages of the relationship that they have had to work through before they reach the romance.
I like the shading those sorts of dynamics bring to the fic in the end, the pining, the hesitation, the trust, the impact of past actions on future ones.
merisunshine36 and I joke around about our love of old people fic, but really, writing futurefic about older versions of the characters is really about adding more history to a pairing, adding more life stuff to work through, more complications and depth to what makes the relationships interesting to me.
To be fair, this doesn't necessarily apply to all the pairings that I have loved. I can get swept up by fandom's narratives pretty easily as well, see McKay/Sheppard, et. al., depending on how good the writing is. I am learning how to accept that fandom likes its pairings simple, clean and easy and straightforward.
But really, I just want that messiness: Charles and Erik trying to figure out how to resolve their fundamental differences in philosophy; House and Wilson arguing and hating and loving each other; Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien being so close and yet so far from what they want; Lois and Clark balancing their passion for journalism with their need to keep each other safe; Vince and Stuart carrying the weight of their childhood friendship together into adulthood; Mark and Eduardo growing up and figuring out their shit in the aftermath of betrayal; and, of course, Mulder and Scully, who have gone through hell and back together and don't even know how to trust anyone else anymore.
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