I've seen my fair share of imprint fics. They come in all different shapes and sizes, approach the subject from a million different angles, explore this aspect and that, raise a hundred questions, make you sigh and make you cry, break all the rules, and make you think and think and think to the the point where you'd do anything to finally locate your brain's "off" switch.
I mean, I've seen two wolves imprint on the same girl, two wolves imprint on each other, a guy imprint on a girl who's way too young, a guy imprint on a girl who's way too old, pure lovey-dovey happiness from the prologue to the epilogue, hate transform into love, a straight dude imprint on another dude, imprints break, imprints die, the girl can't resist his love, the girl hates his guts, and yeah, I'm exploring the idea of a guy imprinting on a girl who doesn't imprint back. The point is, there's so much room for interpretation and so much room for questioning (what if this and what if that?) that the scenarios and plots are virtually endless. And we spend so much time asking the craziest, most original, intriguing questions that we forget one of the most mindblowing questions of all:
What if imprinting didn't exist?
What if there were no great forces of destiny or nature or biology that drew the wolves to their (soul)mates? What if -- horror of horrors -- they had to do things the old fashioned way? Would Jared ever notice Kim? Would Rachel ever give Paul the time of day? And would we even want to touch the Quil/Claire situation with a ten-foot pole?
These are the answers that QueenMindi seeks in Dancing in the Dark, a fic that strips away the wolves' ability to imprint and instead forces them to cope with the harsh and confusing realities of normal, everyday love. There's no bright red arrow pointing each of them to their One True Love, no blinking lights or shifting gravity or any of that. There's just straight-up attraction and, best of all, straight-up confusion.
The story is set seven years after the events of Breaking Dawn and focuses on a different character each chapter. The way the plot rotates between all the characters and their struggles to find love reminds me very much of Love Actually, and if you enjoyed that movie, you're going to adore QueenMindi's fic.
Sure, there's a healthy dose of cheesiness surrounding the Quileutes and their romantic misadventures, but the cheese is woven in so well to the fic's almost flawless, realistic narration and dialogue that it becomes a necessary part of the story. It's not something to be accepted or excused, it just is, and that's all right.
The new scenarios that the wolves find themselves in are beautiful and hilarious and heartbreaking all at once. QueenMindi really shows her emotional range in both the Leah/Sam/Emily love triangle and the complicated sort-of love between Jacob and "Rennie" Cullen.
Sam and Leah are married, but Sam is undeniably attracted to Leah's second cousin, Emily. Emily just might be attracted back, and Leah -- fierce and strong and horrible at cooking, just how we love her -- is constantly trying to set up datses for her cousin out of what may be underlying jealousy. Sam and Leah are in love, but Emily is a wrench in the system, and I don't want to spoil anything, but their story is so fascinating because it feels so real. Sam isn't compelled to love Emily due to forces out of his own control, but by his own natural instincts and his gut, and suddenly we can relate to his situation, even if we don't agree with it. And the glimpses we get into Emily's mind, which are usually so rare in this fandom, give her such a voice in this situation that it's hard to look at her just "the other woman."
And Jacob and Rennie. Don't even get me started on those two. Their story is a little heartbreaking and more than a little complicated. They meet after Rennie is already fully grown, though she's actually only seven years old. The attraction between them is so obvious, but QueenMindi allows Jacob what Stephenie Meyer denied him: she gives him the chance to fight. The chance to ignore his gravitation towards the daughter of the woman he once loved (loves?). And Rennie is a character who is lovely both inside and out, and it's difficult not to feel a little softened by her quiet simplicity.
All the other plot lines are just as interesting, from Seth's oh-so-wrong attraction to Jared's little sister to Paul's determined yet sincere attempts to get into both Rachel's pants and her heart. And if you're wondering how exactly Quil can possibly have any kind of connection with ten-year-old Claire without it being creepy...you'll just have to see for yourself.
Dancing in the Dark is really the best of all worlds. It's sweet and romantic, it's cheesy and earnest, it's sad and thought-provoking, and oh God is it funny. The dialogue between the Quileutes is spot-on guy talk, like QueenMindi spent hours in a lab researching bromantic speech patterns and compliled all of her results in this fic instead of a boring lab report.
Some of the wolves' stories will end like you expect they will -- others won't. The fic is complete, but the final chapter is still fresh out of the oven. The chapters are generally short and bite-sized, and the narration flows so well that you'll find yourself devouring several chapters at a time. It's a good, satisfying read, the kind that makes you smile, the kind that makes you want to read some parts over again just because they were so freaking delicious.
So, no imprinting. Sometimes it seems like the boys of La Push would be completely lost without its guidance, but maybe there's hope for them after all. QueenMindi seems to think it's true, and for what it's worth, I believe her.
Krum Cake likes to think that she's really noble or whatever just because she's a strong advocate for Quileute fics in this fandom. She adores minor characters and crackships and actually thinks Emmett/Emily is a good idea. She's the lazy-as-hell author of Well, This Sucks: Life According to Seth, though you wouldn't know it because she hasn't updated in basically forever.