Ever loved a piece of fiction so much you never wanted it to end? That's what fandom is for. While transformative works like fanfiction and fanart can serve more serious purposes like exploring subtextual themes or fixing up plot holes, sometimes it has a less lofty goal: Getting two cute characters to kiss. Here's what 2016 had to offer.
Y'all are horny as hell, and god bless you for it. While Overwatch is a fun class-based shooter, the minimal canon regarding the world and the characters has allowed for a cornocopia of transformative works. To wit: There are 8562 Overwatch fics on Archive of Our Own at time of writing. The fans have largely filled in the expansive blanks Blizzard has left for them, ships included.
Some ships, like McHanzo, Widowtracer and Pharmercy, took the fandom by storm, and we've covered some of the highlights this year. But if you look hard enough within the fandom you can find the two characters you want mashing their mouths together. Hell, you don't even have to look hard. Ana and Reinhardt? Sure. Sombra and the CEO she's blackmailing? Oh yeah. Bastion, just in general? Look, I have it on good authority that the robot fucks.
While you can play Overwatch without ever dipping a toe into the fandom, the blank canvas Blizzard has provided has allowed some players to let their creative juices flow freely. Shine on you crazy, crazy diamonds.
All of the marriageable characters in farming simulator Stardew Valley are "playersexual", meaning they will marry the player regardless of gender. If you give them enough gifts and talk to them every day, every player can marry the chipper but goth-y Abigail or the bashful doctor Harvey. It's less of a matter of characters getting shipped with each other, and more, "Who do you ship yourself with?"
To that end, two characters were so popular within the fandom that they were turned into marriageable characters in an update: Shane and Penny. Shane's romance has shades of Beauty and the Beast -- underneath a gruff exterior, he's a kindhearted man who just needs someone to remind him that life is beautiful. Penny on the other hand is already a caregiver, teaching the local children, and is looking for someone else who shares her conventional values.
As for me? I'll always love Elliott, the romantic writer with windswept hair. I'm so glad Stephen didn't make me divorce him.
Yuri On Ice
Is it queerbaiting, or are Yuri and Victor really into each other? If you're watching Yuri On Ice, it probably doesn't matter to you what is or isn't "canon".
Yuri has idolised fellow figure skater Victor for so long that working alongside him will lead to bashful blushing no matter what, and that's not the only romance trope the two play into. Victor sees a hidden potential in Yuri that's so far gone untapped, while Yuri's youthful vigour inspires Victor to surprise his audience once again. They have a deep emotional bond, and they really need each other to feel complete.
If this was a straight couple, it wouldn't matter that they haven't kissed on screen or said "I love you." It'd just be a foregone conclusion. If Ron and Hermione's playful bickering in early Harry Potter books isn't "straightbaiting", you can probably give these two a pass. Besides, the fandom's here to fill in the gaps if you really need it.
— ANNABELLE H✨? (@sparklyfawn) December 25, 2016
Watch Dogs 2
What's fandom for if not a little self indulgence? To that end, here's my personal ship of the year: Marcus and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2. I knew it from the moment they snuggled up on the couch to watch the CyberDriver trailer together -- later in that very first mission, Wrench gleefully exclaims to Marcus, "Oh yeah, we're gonna fuck with the cops," while Judas Priest's "Turbo Lover" plays, a song that's widely believed to be about gay sex. When you profile Wrench in NetHack View, his information shows up as "YOUR FUTURE BOYFRIEND".
I haven't felt this strongly about two characters being in romantic love since Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. Say it with me now, fellow Harry Potter fans: Their love is so canon. Sure, everything that happens between Marcus and Wrench can be read as platonic, but as the game goes on, the more tender it gets.
Spoilers for a later mission here, but these details are important. When Wrench gets arrested and loses his mask, belittled in the process, Marcus takes a huge risk to go back for it. "Nobody does you like that," Marcus says, even when Wrench insists Marcus has more important things to take care of. It doesn't even stop there! When the lovebirds are finally back together, a distraught Wrench insists to Marcus, "I would never turn on you," and Marcus in return assures him, "They're just trying to tear us apart."
In a just world, that's where they would have kissed. But this is what fandom and fanfiction is for.
I know the two characters are probably straight, and I know I'm probably reading way too much into these scant interactions. But the devotion they have to each other hits all my buttons -- doesn't everyone want a partner who sees them for who they really are? Fandom gives me the space to explore the things I might not ever see on screen, especially when it comes to queer romances, and I'm thankful for it.