Buffy, The Vampire Slayer/Angel: Top Picks
I tend towards the Spike/Buffy and Cordelia/Angel side of the force, but there's a good variety of other things represented.
In Somniloquy, Gwyneth starts with one simple change -- what if Spike had rescued Dawn from Doc after all? -- and goes from there to build a strong, gripping, lovely alternate universe. Large with the Spuffy, but in a thoughtful way that raises the issues and deals with them, without losing sight of the possibilities. Gwyneth has an excellent touch both for the characters and for the Joss-verse, and it shows in every word of this novella. Also try A Brief History of Now (Spike and Buffy post-Storyteller, but all from Willow's point of view, as she tries to work out her issues on life and love and grief), Mercy Street to revisit Dana the Slayer, and Heliotrope and its sequel, The Sun, The Moon, The Stars, for some gorgeous post-Chosen Spuffyness.)
In Lesser Men, Jedi Buttercup performs a miracle, taking the events of Angel's fourth and Buffy's sixth seasons, about halfway through, and melding canonical events from both shows into one smooth, seamless, wonderful AU. Given the choice between this story and its sequels, and the show -- I'll take Jedi any day. Start right after Connor's kidnapping in the Angelverse, and "Normal Again" in Buffy, let Wesley and Jonathan run into each other in a hotel, make some stunning revelations about each man's past, and go forward from there. Jedi's portrayal of both Wesley and Jonathan is stunning, and holds true for the rest of the characters she draws in (all of them). Run, don't walk.
Everything from this author is stunning. Lilac City is dark and gorgeously plotted Xander future fic that I can't recommend highly enough. The short bits beginning the Snapshots series are beautiful post-Chosen standalones, that lead nicely into a series of long, rich, beautifully done Xander/Faith stories. Robin Wood disappears convienently and with no explanation, but that's the only gripe I can find. The Auld Aquaintance series is just as strong, going AU from Storyteller and giving me, again, a Xander/Faith I can buy, which is saying quite a lot.
Go read Yahtzee's Phoenix Burning. Like, now. Utterly absorbing, a future universe based in the one we know, but fleshed out with characters and situations so real you'll be holding your breath throughout the story. Then go read Acid Test and The Other Half Lives so she can screw with your mind a little bit more, and add Hoop Screams for the giggles you'll need. Oh, and then there's Two Steps Back, a neat little time-travel puzzler for Angel, who can go anywhen he likes -- but only backwards. Unfortunately mistakes are a little harder to fix than to make... Really nicely done -- I dare you to figure out the twists before they hit. With Rheanna, she also wrote A Stitch in Time (an intricate, densely characterized story that fits seamlessly into 'Angel' canon, as four members of Angel Investigations battle time, gypsies and Drusilla to make everything turn out... exactly like it did before) and Splinter, another canonical integration of crossing dimensions and saving them.
Five by Five by anr
One of anr's typically brilliant takes on how the future could look. I'd tell you more, but one little slip could screw the whole thing up.
Thaw by Dazzle
An excellent Wishverse variation; Dazzle creates her own universe with one simple Cordelia wish (worked beautifully into canon) and changes everything -- in new and original ways. Her characterization is lovely, everyone getting at least a bit of attention; faces you'd expect to show up do, along with some you've forgotten and some that just aren't what you remember.NC-17
The Sunnydale Slayers
Arguably some of most consistently excellent Buffy fanfic on the web, by some of the most talented writers I've ever had the priviledge to know. Did I mention I run the site? CL Kamnikar's Disneyland is the latest addition, a gorgeous post-Chosen story, picking up precisely where the series ended, and designed to give you the emotional closure that Joss and Company skipped. Christina's usual excellent touch for dialogue and characterization holds true; you may come out of it crying, but you'll also feel a lot better. After you're done, read the rest, then head over to the The Angel Annex for a small archive of 'Angel' fic.
All About Spike
The archive bills itself as Spike redemptionist fanfic, but if you're looking for all fluffy Spuffy bunnies all the time, you're going to be surprised. The archive is dedicated to Spike in all of his faces, from William the Bloody shoving railroad spikes into people's heads, through the vampire-with-a-soul who loves the Slayer, and any possible incarnation between, before, or after. There's nothing on here that isn't readable, at worst; much of it actively rocks.
After the Opera is a long, plot-driven series, going AU from the end of season 5; Spike and Tara find themselves one of only four survivors of Glory's rampage, and must put the pieces back together somehow. Palette is a quiet season 7 AU. KikiRec
A Spike/Buffy shipper with no illusions about the whole thing, but some hope still left. In 10,000, Spike travels the distance between Kampala and Sunnydale, roaming through Europe as he tries to figure out what to do with his soul. Straightforward, simple, and Spike to the core.
Journey by Mary
Yet another Spike story set after The Gift, and this one quite the epic; her approach is very different from any other universe I've seen. Incorporating some canon from sixth season, but bending it in an entirely different way, Mary creates a Spike and Dawn relationship that is touching and true, and Buffy's resurrection is handled more gracefully than Joss & Co. managed. Sadly, it's an abandoned WIP, but what's there is well worth your time.
Fear and Loathing on Revello Drive by Ozfan
This started as a short, lovely post-ep for "Dirty Girls" that helps even out some of the horror as, in the aftermath, Spike and Faith continue bonding. Ozfan writes it beautifully, and decided to keep going; god only knows where this will end up, but the ride should be lovely.
Old Blood by Nan Dibble
One of the richest, most thought-out of the post-Showtime fics, and one that handles Spike, Buffy and the Potentials far better than the series managed. If you're not large with the Spike love, a few parts may be a bit over the top, but if you're a Spike and Dawn fan, give it a try. The use of Dawn's Key-ness, the Order of Aurelius, and the training of the Potentials are all excellent, and the language is just lovely. (I couldn't finish the sequel, though, so be warned.)
The Buffy Fiction Archive
A solid, well-organized archive.
Seeing Africa by huzzlewhat
Xander's quest through Africa in search of Slayers leaves him with questions and answers that don't necessarily match. Not only a beautiful journey inside Xander's head, but a gorgeous view of the Africa he sees around him, rich with detail. It's an ambitious project, but huzzlewhat pulls it off in amazing style -- definitely a must-read.
X Miles to the Rest Stop by Princess Twilight
It's hard to write from inside Anya's head, but Princess Twilight does it in style. Trapped in a car with a teenager, an ex, an annoyance, and a man she used to think she knew, Anya's about to take a trip that has nothing to do with the miles to Los Angeles. Lovely style, simple and affecting, a Giles/Anya piece that doesn't let either party slip out of character.
Four Ghosts by hollimichele
Quiet and lovely future fic, written in the ever-difficult second-person and done very nicely. There are four ghosts in Sunnydale High....
Mine Eyes Dazzle by Victoria P
Maybe not the strongest of the post-"You're Welcome" stories, but a poignant view through Xander's eyes that makes it well worth your time.
Words cannot express my adoration for this site: three writers obsessed with the three Brits of the Buffy/Angel-verse, and the results are great! But Lori's epic series, The Giles and Spike Collection, is definitely my favorite of the lot, as the two aforementioned guys do some bonding post-ensoulment. She then pulls in some of my other favorite characters (Wesley, Anya, and Dawn), creates a couple of wonderful original characters, and makes me like Buffy again! (Note: She's initially brassed off at Xander and Willow and it shows. I had no problems. YMMV.) Set in London, with atmosphere so thick even a Yank like me can see it all happening, and plots and characterization rich and engaging enough to keep you sucked in well past quitting time. Enjoy it, then go check out the collaboration piece Eyes Only by the entire crew. Linked via Wayback Machine
Barb's BtVS Fanfic
A Raising in the Sun is an excellent au; Hank Summers returns for custody of Dawn, there's a gang of strange people in dark vans collecting vampires, and Willow and Spike, god help us, have a Plan.
BK the Irregular's home for some lovely Buffy and Angel one-shots, several gorgeous Firefly pieces, including Recalculation and Hook, Line, Sinker, and the brilliant Buffy/Stargate SG-1 crossover, The Scarab.
This has to be one of my favorite AUs, set way back in Buffy's season 3. By making a few changes here and there (the band candy incident has repurcussions, and Faith is assigned a different Watcher), everything else changes. Sibling gives Our Heros brains to go with their hearts, and draws third season in a way that, if it's not superior to the show, certainly lays plans for a much happier final outcome than anything the show gifted us with. All of the characters, canon and original, are handled with grace and affection (Faith's new Watcher will make you plotz), and Sibling takes on things like the Watcher's Council which were largely ignored in canon. The site went away and it'll probably never be finished, but hunt a little through the Web Archive; it's worth it.Linked via Wayback Machine
James Walkswithwind has been doing fic for a long time now, and is good at it. Largely slash; if that floats your boat, you're in heaven. Even if it doesn't, please do try Small Fry and Son of Small Fry, cowritten with Mad Poetess -- yes, there's slash, but they're also hysterically funny, as various Scoobies keep getting reverted to the age of four, memories intact. Also look for the amazing For Nothing Can Rescue Me, one of the best Xander POV pieces ever, and Lantern's Light for a gorgeous post-"Storyteller" Andrew piece.
Nickle's claims to fame are the wonderfully sweet and WAFFy Little Jesse series, stories about Xander and Cordelia's young son, and the fantastic Something More series for Giles/Cordelia. Yes, I know, I had the same reaction, but trust me; Nickle will make you a believer.
Another Life is amazing -- don't read it if you can't handle being depressed, but do read it if you want a harsh, poetic glimpse of another way Angel and Cordelia's lives together could have gone.
Willow/Xander fic that makes you remember why you rooted for them way back when, without being unfair to either Anya or Tara. Linked via Wayback Machine
Tales From The Mushmeister
The Touching Willow series has some Buffy/Xander, Xander/Willow bonding, and Movie Night is an evening in with Xander and Anya. Linked via Wayback Machine
Meerkat's fic is never less than readable, and usually up around outstanding. Look for The Crucible for a good Buffy/Angel crossover, Noche Del Muerte for some much-needed closure, and the Senex Amens series for a kick-ass Angel/Highlander crossover series. Methos and Cordelia... dating. The mind boggles....
Dear Frankie by offbalance
A Buffy/Supernatural crossover and a wistful AU for Faith. KikiRec
Queen of the Night by Kelley
Now an AU, at the time, it was a very cogent and well-characterized take on where Cordelia's visions could take her. In sending Cordelia off for training, Kelley creates a strong and nicely plottd character study of Cordelia, and grants us an intriguing original character in the form of Mr. Zhou. There's action, there's sweetness, there's philosophy and, oh yeah, romance. Quite C/A oriented, but even if you're only lukewarm, give it a try -- Kelley makes it entirely believable.
Quiet as a Mouse by Miranda
This started out as a lovely Tara one-shot, and developed into an outstanding epic that makes one of the more UC UC's I've ever seen work). (The Wrath of Osiris is an AU action/adventure story that will suck you in beyond help, but I can't find it anywhere. Adversaries is also excellent, but same problem.)
Undrowning by hannasus
Snapshots of Cordelia's funeral. Poetic, sober and touching.
Buffy and Angel@ Fanfiction.net
Jumping in here requires nerve; the drek-to-gem ratio is truly horrific. If you take the plunge, I recommend finding authors you like, then following their Favorite Authors and Favorite Stories recs, as opposed to trying to wade through unguided. Name the ship, it's here. Good luck.
Super Food World by Valerie
Spike and Buffy go grocery shopping. It sounds incredibly dumb and pointless, but is actually pointy and angsty and vivid and occasionally hilarious. If Buffy and Spike had even once had a few conversations like this, most of sixth season could have been avoided. And all of us Spuffy-types would have been a hell of a lot happier.
In Base Elements, limber gives us a future story which reunites Dawn and Spike, two years after the end of season 6. It's the friendship we were shorted of on the show, written beautifully in character, with skill and life. Not finished as of 04/10, but that'll just make it last longer.
MistieC gives lots of angst in many fandoms, but I love her Buffy and Angel work the best. Try The Unusual Series for some pretty terrific Cordy/Giles 'shippiness; do not miss The Promise and its sequels; and above all, do not miss her Wesley/Faith story, Rebel, Rebel, her Gwen/Gunn Batteries Not Included, or the hilarious ensemble 'shipper stories How to Date a Beautiful Woman and Dating for Dummies.
Annakovsky came on as a fabulous Buffy writer, one of the few who still pulls me back into the Jossverse. Buffy wound tiredly to a close, and even the characters seemed to know it. In Deus Otiosis, Annakovsky's Willow is feeling every one of her years, and telling us about it in simple, touching, gorgeous terms. I liked Willow more after reading this than I have in years, even as I felt sorry as hell for all of the Scoobies. She does as well for Xander in The Weary World Rejoicing Christmas fic that's dark and beautiful and heartbreaking and glorious, as he waits for a wanderer to return.
Whisper is one of that spectacular rarity, an excellent, non-shipper, Xander-centric story. Set near the beginning of seventh season, but well before everything goes to hell, Lizbeth Marcs not only delivers a well-plotted, well-written story, but a one of the best characterizations of Xander ever, with an expanded backstory that slots utterly smoothly into continuity. All the other Scoobies are equally well-treated, along with a fabulous OC, and the mood ranges seamlessly from deadly serious to edge-of-your-seat action to riotously funny to sweetly sentimental. And she didn't forget the happier ending. Contrite Spirits is outstanding Xander and Faith; it wanders all over a church in New Orleans, covering religion and childhoods and wishes and Boston slang, and is just gorgeous. There's a story about Xander's trip to Africa that will have you laughing, and a moment of lighting a candle that will have you sniffling.
City Girls's portrayal of Buffy's life with Dawn; set in Rome, the only place Buffy can think of where Angel or Spike wasn't there first, it's a simple but powerful look at everyday life after Sunnydale -- if such a thing exists for a Slayer. Really excellent.
Emulating Atlas is a wonderful Buffy future-fic centering around Spike (the real Spike, not the badly-written Spike foisted off on us sixth season). Maybe a little on the sweet side, but I don't care, it makes me happy. Dry Kind of Love is an entirely different, but equally engrossing, look at the future -- detailed and cool beyond words.
Dreamwalk is a good Cordy/Angel bonding story, and the Dawn and the Dead series is a strange and sweet crossover between the shows that works surprisingly well. Her collaboration with Gyrus, Regression, gives us solid characters, an outstanding plot, an enjoyably nasty array of villains, and a damn fine ride. And did I mention the spell that gets cast on Angel and Spike...?
To Make Much of Time gives yet another Armageddon, but this time, the Scoobies have help in a showdown between the forces of Good and Evil. All of them. The Scoobies are out in force, and gorgeously in character, Angel makes a well-drawn appearance, there are some original characters you'll have to meet to believe, the Spike/Buffy-ness feels possible and right and, oh yeah, they're fighting pretty much every demon in the world. At once. (The prequel, Black the Sun, is another solidly-plotted and highly enjoyable piece, although it doesn't have quite the same richness and urgency.)
Rising From Our Dust is an excellent set of scripts for an AU seventh-season Buffy. The dialogue is every bit as good as it needs to be to carry off a script -- you can almost see the action on-screen. We should have been so lucky as to get a season this good. A Demon's Deal is a neat, harsh twist on Spike's soul.