So instead I am going to ask a fandom-nonspecific question, in the hope that the answers will help me figure something else out. And, you know, be interesting to read besides.
What is your all-time favorite ship? Why? And what was the moment/scene/episode that made you feel really invested in that relationship? And if you can't narrow it down to one, just write about two or three. (But not, like, ten. Commit, you wishy-washy girl.) (Unless you're a boy.) (Do any boys even read this?)
It occurs to me that I should get the ball rolling. As much as I've greatly loved other ships since, and as much as it's hard to really be objective about the whole thing, I'd have to say that ship that meant the most to me in general - though certainly not right at this moment - would be Mulder and Scully from The X-Files. It wasn't my first ship (that would be Link and Zelda, tyvm), but XF in general was a show that aired at a critical time in my life. I was 11 when it started, and 20 when it ended. So many of my dramatic sensibilities were formed by that show - what kind of stories I enjoy, how I like them being told, my expectations as far as quality goes, my love of shows that can experiment and defy their own premise, and so on. But most of all, the relationship between Mulder and Scully was an important one for me. I prefer ships that start off with a foundation of respect, and trust, and actual friendship. I'll never be that interested in two people meeting who seem to immediately fall in love without even knowing each other, for instance. Or relationships that start with lust and proceed from there.
Most importantly, I think, Mulder/Scully for me is all about the absolute equality in the relationship. For every time he saves her from danger, she saves him right back. Where one is strong, the other is weak, and they hold each other up. They might have disagreements but they don't belittle each other, or treat each other cruelly. That's what I want to see in a ship, even if it means foregoing manufactured ship drama. (Actually, especially if it means forgoing any of that.) And the first time I really knew that I needed them to be together would have been the Duane Berry arc - Scully is abducted and Mulder cannot save her, and has to hope against ever increasing odds that she'll return to him alive. It was the first time that there was the sense that they didn't just respect each other and depend on each other, and maybe be attracted to each other - Mulder was lost without her. He could not function. And to need someone else like that is pretty heady stuff.