|Fandom:||The Sentinel/Due South/Stargate: Atlantis/Highlander|
|External Links:||Imperfections at You Shine Where You Stand|
Imperfections at AO3
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Imperfections is a series of stories by Dasha (dashamte).
There are ten in the main series, plus several others.
- Imperfections 1: Imperfections (If Blair's washing out of the guide program, who's taking care of Jim?) (149 K)
- Imperfections 2: Believing in Fairy Tales (Sentinels are disappearing all up and down the West Coast. This is not a good thing.) (158 K)
- Imperfections 3: Visiting (It's a holiday. They have time off. What can go wrong?) (100 K)
- Imperfections 4: Necessary Parts (Blair starts work 'for real,' Naomi visits, and Jim faces some horrifying truths. It should all be a piece of cake.) (189 K)
- Imperfections 5: Passing Through the Underworld. (Blair tries to straighten out Jim's love life, a nasty murder case gets complicated by the out-of-town experts sent in to 'help,' and nobody is quite as reasonable as they'd like to be.)
- Imperfections 6: What Comes Around. (Something unexpected comes up.)
- Imperfections 7: Running up That Hill. (Sometimes you get all the breaks. This isn't one of those times.)
- Imperfections 8: One Warm Line (Jim's finally getting his feet under him. The rest of the world? Not so much.)
- Imperfections 9: Unexpected Places and Other Strange Roads. (Really, something had to be done about Brackett!)
- Imperfections 10: Intuition (crossover with Murder She Wrote)
Other Stories by Dasha in This Series
John and Rodney:
- St. Louis (In the mid 80s, Rodney is a fragile sentinel changing guides almost as often as other people change socks.) (Stargate Atlantis)
- Cascade WA 1990 (Stargate Atlantis)
- Cascade (Stargate Atlantis)
- Chicago (Who tracks a wolf 30 blocks through downtown Chicago? That's just not normal...)
- Jack and Robert (This is a brief cross-over with The Equalizer.)
- Las Vegas (Who had five sentinels in the same department? Nobody but Los Vegas could even have afforded it.)
- States' Rights and Domestic Affairs (And now I've dragged Benson into the giant Sentinel Imperfections AU crossover. I have no shame.)
Reactions and Reviews
It's another version of the popular AU theme of "What if sentinels were known?" but the focus is less on the universe building and more on their partnership. Also there are no special psychic "guide powers" nor has modern society developed really strange customs, instead there is a refreshingly pragmatic and contractual view of the working relationship between sentinels and their partners. As often in Dasha's stories there are lots of sensory and sentinel details, but no rehashing of boring fanon phrases. The series is also a crossover with other shows, but the other shows don't play a large role, it's almost a bit like character cameos.
This is an AU, but an AU that has the feel of the series -- even though it's a parallel universe AU. What do I mean by that? We have here a universe where Sentinels and Guides are well known, but they're also a normal part of society (unlike many AUs with a similar premise). Neither one is treated as a second-class citizen, nor do Guides have special empathic powers, nor is there a mystical empathic Sentinel-Guide bond, nor do Sentinels run around with bristling primal instincts. They're both just... specialists, with special needs and special training. So while this is a parallel universe, it feels like a cop show, with all these lovely little details and procedures -- it feels relaxed and normal. I really liked that. A refreshing change, an opportunity to see how Sentinels and Guides in the real world might work out.
But apart from all that, we just had our favourite characters here being themselves, really good. Jim, Blair, Joel, Simon, Jack Kelso... and others. I dunno, it all just worked. I really liked this story.(Aside: while this is officially described as a crossover with Monk, I'm not listing it as a crossover, because Monk's appearance here is more like a cameo than a supporting character, let alone a main character. Though it was good to see how the author made his backstory fit in.) 
[Necessary Parts]: This is the "Imperfections" version of the episode "Spare Parts", but all fresh and new because it isn't told from Jim's point of view. And we get Naomi! I like this Naomi.
"Honey, why should I be upset? _My_ priorities are just fine. I'm not a criminal. I'm not obsessed with a car. I'm not violent. Seeing all those seriously messed up people, well...It's not as though I didn't know that sometimes people....I mean, Francine...." Naomi collected herself and took a deep breath. "All right, yes, I'm practically in bed with the pigs at the moment--no offense--but I never, never said that there should be no social order _at all_."
I love all their interactions here. Jim and Blair, and Blair and Naomi, and Naomi and Jim...
And I absolutely adore what new cause Naomi got it into her head to protest for at the end; lovely, lovely!So... what do *you* think? 
A thoroughly enjoyable take on the "what if Sentinels and Guides were known" scenario. Blair's flunking out of the guide program - but he's the perfect guide for Jim. Lots of crossovers, all handled beautifully. You can find it here, on her author page at the Cascade Library. If only she'd do a slash version...
[part VII]: Dasha has been writing this series for some time now. This is the seventh in the series. I know I'm in for a good read when she posts. It's an AU. Sentinels are well-known, Rainier has a guide school, Brackett was Jim's guide before he met Blair. Lots of really familiar characters make guest appearances. I like the series because it shows what a Sentinel cop could be in a world that accepts them but also some of the real-life problems a sentinel could face. It does help if you've read the earlier ones, but that's no hardship. It's an interesting AU.
I've been rereading Dasha's gen TS AU multiverse XO "Imperfections" series... It's a great series, reimagining canon with the twist that sentinels are an accepted, respected part of society and guides are, at least in the U.S., highly trained professionals (BS + several years of additional coursework and practical training and exams required.) It's a
variation of the GDP AU movement, I know; but I find the GDP series unreadable and I ADORE this one. If you haven't read the stories yet, I recommend you go do so. If you have, I'd love to chat about them. Specifically,
(1) If guides are required for sentinels to work in any capacity, what happens if a sentinel wants to do something for which supporting a guide would be uneconomical for an employer, such as teach high school? Are they allowed to be self-employed? What does it say about the world of the AU that Blair and Jim never think about this?
(2) Are sentinels allowed to pursue professions in which heightened senses would be a clear advantage, such as law or dealing blackjack? Should they be?
(3) Blair seems to think that becoming a guide is a choice he's making of his own free will. However, Jack seems to have some idea that this isn't entirely the case - he separates Jim and Blair when he wants to talk seriously with Blair, so that Blair will focus on him, not Jim, when they've just recently met. This, to me, hints that guides may have a genetic predisposition to helping sentinels. Problem: At the start of the series, Blair almost washes out of guide training. What would it be like to be a potential guide with no sentinel? Is it a 'many are called, few are chosen' sort of thing, and he'd simply find another calling?
(4) Jack Kelso plays a pretty large role in the stories. He's researching sentinel-guide dynamics, and advances that a strongconnection between sentinel and guide is very important. Being a mom, I've been thinking about this as 'attachment guiding'. I've been wondering - in canon, is there evidence for this also being the case? Is it important that canon!Jim knows that Blair thinks the world of him (most of the time)? And is there any way that Blair could ever figure this out, based on canon events? - Helen. P.S. - if you are slash-friendly, check out offshoots (some gen, most slash), in which Dasha gives the backstory to several of the XO sentinel-guide pairings that show up in the main series, and also more information on Jack Kelso and his theories. 
I think one reason why "Imperfections" is more appealing is because, unlike the GDP universe, its universe, while still using the premise that Sentinels and Guides are well known, it's a universe which is much closer to our own, less fantastical and more subtle. I found, when reading the GDP series, I kept on saying to myself "Come on, what sort of breakdown in society and common *decency* would there have to be to make this sort of thing *possible*?" (Mind you, this was pre 9/11, so I had a bit higher expectations of society then)
Wheras in the "Imperfections" universe, Sentinels and Guides are considered to be specialist professionals, and while that has had an impact on society, it's still very close to the one we know.
Another aspect which drove me away from GDP was the, er, pre-Neanderthalness of the Sentinels. As someone said, if they're so keen on marking their territory, they'll be pissing in the corners next... And as Izhilzha said on LJ, maybe the one-Sentinel-one-Guide ratio might not be necessary in some professions. But it would still only make sense to have a "shared Guide" if there were more than one Sentinel working there, so it would still probably be a question of economics.I remember in another Sentinels-and-Guides-well-known universe (Gil Hale's Hippy-Goldilocks one) there were medications which Sentinels could take to suppress their senses (and Guides to suppress their empathy -- yes, that's a Guides-are-empaths universe too) but it was expensive and risky medication and wasn't really a long-term solution. 
I think this is exactly why I like it so much--no anvils, nothing too extraordinary. I can imagine working with these people, I can imagine what it would be like to go through Guide training.... It's probably a real compliment to Dasha's created universe that these discussions are making me want to write stories about such situations. :-) What *would* the ramifications of sharing a Guide because of economics be? Is that allowed for in the construction of this universe? (I can't imagine Marsha sharing Jack, for instance; but I'm not sure Rodney couldn't share John--going from the main series stuff, since I haven't read the additional materiel). 
One thing I like about this series is that it's making me re-examine canon. 
[John and Rodney II]: The other Imperfections detours into other fandoms are also fun; I wasn't familiar with all the characters, but enjoyed them all. I think John and Rodney get a bit OOC (Dasha talks in some commnets, I think, about how being made a sentinel changes characters) but I like them for what they are in the stories. The story I posted isn't my favorite, but I rec'd it because I thought it would be the most interesting to TS fans who didn't really care about SGA because of the Jack Kelso POV.
[John and Rodney II]: Because the slash and gen mix of the series makes it hard to find the whole thing in any one archive, it's sometimes useful to know that Dasha's entire Imperfections series can be found... on her website.
[John and Rodney II]: Jack Kelso is a favorite TS occasional character. In Dasha's popular AU 'Imperfections,' he's an expert on the sentinel/guide relationship. This lovely little detour from the main series describes the revelation that shapes Jack's career.
I've been enjoying this long-running AU series ever since Dasha put up the second installment (second full story, really) at the Cascade Library. It's just gotten better as it has progressed, and I thought it was about time I recommended it to you all.
AU. If Blair's washing out of the guide program, who's taking care of Jim?
Imperfections (currently at 9 stories in length) is what AU should be. Detailed in its differences from canon (Sentinels are known, and guides are trained; Jim's first guide was Lee Brackett, which didn't work out well), yet not so far off that the characters and milieu become unrecognizable. Showing canon events from another perspective (including using specific cases from the series), and giving us twists on canon relationships.
Many people have told AU stories where Sentinels and guides are known in modern society, but this is the most realistic one I have ever read, the most interesting in terms of world-building, and the least dystopian. The ongoing academic discussion in Dasha's universe, over the best way to handle the sentinel-guide relationship (emotional attachment vs. professional competence) alone is fascinating, though it only forms a subplot of experience for Jim and study-related comments from Blair and Jack Kelso.
This is also one of the only multiple crossovers I’ve read that completely works. Dasha does this by crossing over characters, and character dynamics, rather than wholesale universes. Details and emotions are important, and she pays close, careful attention to those, while never letting her cameo characters take over the story, which still belongs to Jim and Blair. (Detours into other povs become prominent in Imperfections IX, but still don’t distract from the story--rather, they add a thick layer of suspense and peril.)And I can't forget what an excellent a writer Dasha is.
There are many things I love about Dasha's Imperfections series. I like the way Sentinels are recognized there. It's treated not nonchalantly, but matter-of-factly - guides have training, supervision. Sentinel and Guide status are recognized in law (and how much do I love that it's governed by OSHA). It took me a long time to finish the latest but RL got in the way. Normally I gobble them up and then sit in speechless awe. One reason her crossovers work for me is that the characterizations are really well done. I do know most of the shows she references and the characters are in character even in the different context. Shawn and Gus from Psych are those characters in a Sentinel context, ditto Duncan and Joe, Monk and Sharon. But the best is Rodney and John. I expected John to be the sentinel, but it fits to have it the other way around. It's not stereotyped that the warrior (from the other show) is the sentinel in this universe.
First I should note that I probably will be reccing Imperfections 1 and Mei has already recced Imperfections: John and Rodney. I've also recced just about every slash story Dasha has written, so you know that a) she's a good author and b) we really like her.
That said, ARG!
The Imperfections Universe is one where Sentinels and Guides are known and accepted. Guides are employees of Sentinels, albeit employees with a lot of power over their charges (like the right to make medical decisions). Sort of like a nurse/personal assistant combo, really. At the same time, Sentinels are highly sought after and make top dollar working in whatever field that they choose.
First, the good: I really, really like the premise of Dasha's universe, which might be my favorite of all universes where Sentinels and Guides are known. This is probably because I can very easily seeing this universe in real life -- after all, to assume that Sentinels and Guides would be imprisoned/slaved/etc (as most Sentinels are in known AUs) is as ridiculous as assuming that one day our government is going to start imprisoning and enslaving people who just happen to be highly intelligent or very tall. It's a genetic gift, but no more or less interesting than a high IQ. So, bravo on an interesting and plausible universe.
Now, the bad, which comes in three parts:
Part the first: This series really, really should be slash. Now, I don't say that very often -- aside from smarm* (which I find highly skeevy), I quite like Sentinel gen. However, this series falls into the same trap that catches a lot of Sentinel gen fic: Jim and Blair are nominally heterosexual, but display absolutely no interest in dating or even spending significant amounts of time with other people, including women. In other words, Dasha has basically doomed these men to a lifetime of either celibacy (which is ridiculous) or meaningless sexual encounters (which is both hollow and depressing in the long run). Frankly, it feels like she kept the series gen simply so she could post all of the stories at the Cascade Library, which was a disservice to the series as a whole, especially in later stories when you realize just how limiting their relationship is.
Part the second: Every. Single. Character in this series is either a Sentinel, a Guide, or direct support to a Sentinel and Guide. I understand that when you decide to cross shows over into your universe, you want there to be a reason for the crossover, but after a certain point, this becomes ridiculous and, frankly, kind of boring. After all, when you already have a few dozen Sentinels and Guides floating around, wouldn't it be more interesting to have Fraser or Monk show up and impress everyone by how amazing he is *without* Sentinel abilities? As it is, 'regular' humans are outnumbered by 'special' humans ten to one, which is kind of silly.
Part the third: Speaking of Fraser, he's a prime example of the third reason I can't enjoy the series: the odd decisions Dasha makes with regards to her crossovers. Taking Fraser as an example -- Dasha makes him blond. *Blond*. When canon Fraser's hair is such a dark brown that it is virtually black! And, he calls RayK Stan, which leads me to believe that Dasha either never actually watched the last two seasons of DS (as Fraser never, ever referred to RayK as anything but Ray, except possibly in the first time they were properly introduced, when Ray made it very clear that he *hates* the name Stanley) or has never really interacted much with the DS fandom (where calling RayK 'Stan' is considered a passive aggressive slap in the face to RayK fans).
The straw that broke the camel's back, however, came in Imperfections 4, where Dasha brought in all of the immortal characters from Highlander -- and then made them not immortal. Which, okay, Methos could pull that off and if the story had been primarily about Joe and Adam Pierson, it could have worked. Unfortunately, the story revolved around Mac who, while fairly interesting as an immortal, is the Dullest Man Who Ever Lived when he is a mortal Sentinel (of course). After slogging through 300 KB of a snooze-worthy Mac, I just couldn't bring myself to read any further.
So, there you have it. Imperfections is a hugely popular, highly recced series, so maybe the problem is with me. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a series I could enjoy.
- Smarm [is a] 'gen' fic where two same-sex characters basically participate in a romantic, emotionally intimate relationship with each other (up to and including intimate physical contact, stating that one couldn't live if the other died, kissing each other, sleeping together, etc.), but claim to be heterosexual and occasionally go off to bang random strangers while remaining emotionally faithful to their same sex 'friends'.
In Dasha's defense, I wouldn't call Imperfections smarm, just unrealistic. To me, smarm is when characters start behaving in a way that is inappropriate unless it is leading to sex (intimate physical contact, stating that one couldn't live if the other died, kissing, sleeping together -- yes, I have seen all of these and more in 'gen' fic.) 
Imperfections 4, which is the longest story and the one that is devoted almost entirely to the Highlander characters. The really freaking *boring* Highlander characters (well, except for Joe and Methos, who are always awesome).
I regard Dasha's "Imperfections" universe as multiple chapters of one long story, so that's my pick. As you say, I never get tired of re-reading it/them. I don't think I can quote verbatim but, if asked, I could describe each 'chapter' to some unlucky listener in excruciating detail.
OTOH -- if there was no more fic ever -- that's why I have dozens of gigs worth of saved stories on my HD. I would undoubtedly have my laptop with me, since about the only place I go without it is to feed the horses. Of course, power would be a problem. Hmmm, I need to look up a solar-powered electric source and take it with me on any jaunts that might get me stranded on a desert island.In other words, you can't take my fic from me. Nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah! 
[John and Rodney]: It's very easy to imagine Rodney as a sentinel (specialized in structural engineering no less) and John as the perfect guide for him; only John would have that much patience for Rodney AND stand up for himself when Rodney gets impossible. The engineering aspect of Rodney's job depicted is very interesting and so...Rodney. I admit I have a weakness for SGA AUs, and I really can't say no to a Sentinel crossover. The second half of the story gets a bit angsty (e.g. Rodney getting sick while John's away), but John always comes back to save the day (loads of h/c!). John calls Rodney 'sweetheart' several times in the story; while this usually irks me, it didn't hinder my enjoyment of this story. 
A sentinels are known AU in which Lee Brackett is Jim's abusive guide and Blair is about to wash out of the guide program. Lots of comfort with a touch of hurt ensues.
This is, by far, my favorite Sentinels are known universe. There is no slavery, there is no systemic government abuse, and there is no oppression of anyone. Instead you have genetically gifted people who are highly sought after by employers and who hire a support person to assist them in everyday functioning. It's all so very plausible and rational and practical and I just want to hug Dasha to bits for creating this universe.
On top of that, you have a simply amazing Jim, one who is strong when he needs to be and who is most emphatically *not* a victim, but who has also been beat down for long enough that hints of vulnerability keep shining through. Blair is equally layered: uncertain but dedicated and determined to be strong for his sentinel. Couple all of that with an interesting plot, some philosophical discussion of sentinels and guides, and a whole station full of secondary characters who make mistakes but who mean well and who come through in the end and you have one brilliant Sentinel AU.Note: Imperfections is actually the first of a series. I'm not reccing the rest of the series (go here for my rant on the subject)... .
Just as a counter point to the whole "It should be slash because they don't seem to be involved with anyone else" part of the rant. Later stories address the fact that the lack of dating, for either, is that they're still working on building a healthy Sentinel/Guide relationship. It would be nice as slash, but it does work as gen.
Though I will agree that the Highlander stuff is the weakest of the series. It's worth reading for the other stuff, but skim the Highlander only material.
Being only a passing DS fan, I have no comment on that stuff.But story IX? Is really good.
But by that point haven't they been working on the Sentinel/Guide relationship for *years*? I just find it really hard to believe that either man (but especially Blair) can go years without having sex. And if they're going off randomly to satisfy their needs with a one-night stand or eight, that just makes me like them even less.
One of the later ones explains that Blair had refrained from dating until Jim was more stable - he returned from one data to find Jim on the couch in some kind of distress. Jim hadn't bothered dating as he believed for a while that he had maybe 5 or 10 years tops before he died and that things wouldn't get better so why bother.
As for making it Blair/Jim slash, I could see it in the long term. In the short term, I think it has to be gen. Given Jim's history, Blair wouldn't even consider it -- to much potential for coercement. And Jim clearly isn't thinking about sex at all at this point in the story.All that aside, later imperfections stories are some of my least favorite from Dasha, whom I adore as a writer. The John/Rodney ones are by far my favorite in that world.
I guess it just felt like years:) Honestly, I really enjoy the first story in Imperfections and I do like the SGA ones. The rest (well, through the Highlander one, anyway) just never held my interest and actively frustrated me at times. And, honestly, I don't think making the series slash would have suddenly made me like it more, though by removing the smarm factor I think my frustration level would have been a bit lower.
when I first discovered Dasha's stories I was blown away. Her writing is amazing and she really puts a lot of thought into her characterizations. She's one of the few writers who really does well either with gen or slash. I read all the Imperfection stories posted at Cascade Library, although I know she continued the series into the SGA fandom on her LJ website. From what I remember I did like it a lot. I agree that it's another nit I have to pick with the genre -- how sentinel and guide are bound together to the point that they can't survive without the other. Somehow, I find it diminishes them. I like each person to be whole and to be enhanced by the other, not crippled without them. 
Reccer's Notes: If you're wondering "how come she's reccing a Sentinel fic for a Sentinel AU category?" it's because this is one of the biggest and best known mega-crossovers in which one (or more) character from a particuar show is a Sentinel who just happens to cross paths with Jim and Blair. It's popular for a reason; the stories in this series are generally well-written, great worldbuilding on what "a world where Sentinels and Guides are known." And I think it is a more real look at what the world might be like than a lot of Sentinel AUs are. It's neither a dystopia nor a paradise, with lots of thought put into things like "what might the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regs be like for sentinels? What are the legal limits on the police use of Sentinel surveillance?" And so on and so forth. It's also a thoughtful look at the aftermath of abuse and recovery from abuse. In addition, there are a series of great cases that build into one overarching case that ties everything together. And there were so many different fandoms, there was something for everyone. I've only listed the major crossovers. 
- Rat Creature’s Alternate Universe Recs for The Sentinel
- 2003 comments at Katspace
- Kathryn A at Gen Fic Crit, October 2004
- calic0cat: That TS story meme…, January 2005
- a rec at TS Fresh Air
- comment by Helen W at Gen Fic Crit, October 2006
- comment by Kathryn A at Gen Fic Crit, October 2006
- comment by Izhilzha at Gen Fic Crit, October 2006
- comment by Helen W at Gen Fic Crit, October 2006
- a 2007 comment at Crack Van
- a 2007 comment at Crack Van
- a 2007 comment at Crack Van
- 2007 post at Light One Candle
- 2007 comment to the main post at Light One Candle
- Jane Elliot at Epic Rants, July 2008
- Jane Elliot at Epic Rants, July 2008
- Jane Elliot at Epic Rants, July 2008
- Desert Island fic comment by starwatcher307 at Desert Island Fic, February 23, 2008
- 2008 rec by jane elliot at Epic Recs
- 2009 comments by Jane Elliot at Epic Recs, Archived version
- 2009 comments by terri01 at Epic Recs
- 2009 comments by Jane Elliot at Epic Recs
- 2009 comments by lady ceylonna at Epic Recs
- 2009 comments by Jane Elliot at Epic Recs
- comments from Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (October 2009)
- Fancke Rec by beatrice otter, August 3, 2017