The first truth of fan fiction is that a good chunk of it is terrible. The second, third, and fourth truths all involve sex. But the fifth truth of fan fiction is that it is often the best way to understand fans—under the kind of pressure and passion that is required for someone to write 30,000-plus words about an anthologic dramedy set in a women’s prison (for free and for a few dozen comments), a kind of reality takes shape in which it is possible to understand the better part of buzz. Like a funhouse mirror (usually a useless metaphor), fan fiction isn’t just entertaining for what it exaggerates, but for what it reveals in the exaggeration.
2013 was, obviously, the most important year we’ve ever experienced in pop culture. What say the fan fics?
This was some other kitten. Tony couldn’t be a kitten. Tony was a person, and his boyfriend, and Tony was supposed to be up making donuts or styling his hair or getting ready to throw him out. A cat couldn’t throw him out, that part was good. But he couldn’t make donuts either, or kiss him, and crap, a kitten was a small animal. GOB basically killed small animals, not on purpose or anything, but he really wasn’t good with them. Their last fight had been about killing a small animal.
—“And Little Claws Extended” by singingtomysoul
Walt felt a tear threatening to spill over onto his cheek. “Oh, son…” In that moment, he felt unspeakably weary. He’d never meant for any of this to happen. But they were all in Hell. Every damned one of them. How had things gotten so far out of hand? For only the third time in the history of their relationship, he pulled Jesse in close and held him against his chest, rubbing his back gently. Jesse immediately broke down, whimpering incoherently between choked-up sobs; it was probably the first time he’d been touched in an affectionate way since this whole thing had fallen apart almost five months ago. He smelled almost as bad as he looked, but Walt figured that he was no basket of roses either at this point.
—“Lullaby” by celeryy
“The Good Wife”
“So, am I to infer…” Clarke says, and can’t even finish the sentence. He has no idea how he has failed to progress in talking to pretty boys since his first awful, awkward encounter when he was 20, in a new city and on his own for the first time, and slightly less afraid than he was lonely.
“Yeah,” Cary saves him. “You should infer.” Then he makes a face. “Actually, don’t. That’s a lousy way to do this. I can tell you that it’s nothing new about myself, but also nothing I’ve ever actually acted on, so this is uncharted territory for me. So yeah,” he blows out a breath. “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I like you too. You should ask me, sometime.”
Clarke feels his cheeks heating again, and puts his glasses on hurriedly, smooths down his tie. “I will,” he manages, and returns Cary’s tentative smile.
Then Cary is leaning forward, one hand on Clarke’s knee, the other on his shoulder, and then they are kissing.
—Why On Earth Would We Soften The Mood? by dancinguniverse
She was shaking. Near uncontrollably. Opening her eyes revealed the water gone from her feet, hills abound vanished into thin air. The beeping sound was nothing more than the oxygen tanks depleting themselves and the ever reddening sun was just the emergency lights alerting her to what she already knew. There was no body of water, just a Russian escape pod out of fuel. Looking at the controls, the O2 levels had sunk below 5%. Another hour or so and they would be gone completely. She could be asleep before the CO2 levels reached high enough to choke her. A hand reached over and took hers, Kowalski was back, “It’s been an honor serving with a Mission Specialist like you doctor.” Ryan just smiled. She knew he wasn’t truly there, but the words were comforting anyway. Closing her eyes one last time a laugh burst from her lips, she was going to see her daughter. Her little girl.
—“Still Breathing For Now” by Crooks
“House of Cards”
Blasphemies abound. Sir Douglas smooths his gauntlets up Francis’ good trousers and undoes the fastenings, pulls him out and descends upon him immediately. Francis hisses at the combination of Stamper’s subservience, the taboo of doing this act on the throne (where he will be very soon) and that fucking mouth of his. The knight notices this pleasure and pulls away, fixes Francis with those giant brown eyes that have seen brutality and murder and he knows. Francis can see in that moment that Stamper knows every one of his secrets. Stamper, the respected knight that he is, could bring down the traitorous Chancellor with a single meeting with the King. But the knight just leans down and brazenly licks the head of Francis’ cock, still staring into his eyes.
—“watch the throne” by marchosias
Harry was full from pumpkin pie, dozing off while Kendall and Burt argued about something or other, when Kanye sat down next to him. “Kanye,” the curly haired boy greeted sleepily.
“Eggnog, I’mma ask you somethin,’” Kanye replied. Harry sat up straighter and nodded seriously, tuning out Kendall and Burt. “If I kissed ya would you hit me?” In response, Harry kissed him.
“Niall’s here?” Aziz shouts excitedly. He can’t help that he’s a grown ass man that has a huge obsession with Niall Horan. “Yeah, all of the lads are,” Liam tells him, smiling. “Do you want to come meet them?” Aziz is about to say, “Fuck yeah I do!” before he remembers Harris. Fucking Harris and his stupid Cinnabon obsession.
—“One Direction: We Know Drama” by khlaeesiq
“Orange Is the New Black”
And the air has a certain taste to it—all metallic and sharp—and the clouds collect in gray clusters and whatever Alex is doing with Nichols will one day tumble to the earth like loose branches (this consolation fucking, this killing time while you do time, these friends with benefits) and so Piper prepares subconsciously—fingers always flexing, muscles growing tense before they will relax, stringing together invisible sentences and sentiments in between the hours…because this is it, isn’t it? They’ve said a lot to each other—”…I love you and I fucking hate you…“—and Alex took her trust and burned it and Piper took Alex’s heart and wounded it and so maybe they’ve not said nearly enough to each other. Maybe they are just getting started on all they’ve been meaning to say.
—“a map of the whole wide world” by spheersi1
“Mellie-” She cut her off. There was still that last shard of her heart to bare. “I loved you. Really did. Once. Now you know one of my secrets.” She was going to leave it at that and hang up. Pretend she never wandered into the Oval Office drunk and distressed that empty December night. “I’m sorry. I am so sorry Mellie.” “Every time you smiled at me, whenever you reached for my hand and held it, I could see it but I never said anything. You trusted me and I betrayed you repeatedly every time I touched him, kissed him, screwed him. I am not proud of that. But both of us have made our choices.” Her laugh was too loud and bitter. “People who say women like us always have a choice aren’t women like us.”
—“Mulled Wine” by chicagoartnerd
“Dear God, what is that unholy cacophony????” Abbie looked up to see Ichabod rushing into the room, hair still wet and dripping down his back, shirt open, hunting knife at the ready. He looked around the small living room of the cabin, tensed for trouble. She shrugged. “What? The music? It’s called dubstep. The artist is Skrillex.”
—“Ichabod Crane Does Not Approve” by SleepyFan
Welcome to Night Vale
Carlos fumbled in his pockets with increasing anxiety, then peered through the car window and swore. “The keys—Cecil, I locked the keys inside!” Cecil’s eyes glittered weirdly in the starlight as he stared at Carlos. The spotlight was sliding closer; any minute now it would reach the car. “Cecil, hide!” Carlos said, pushing Cecil back toward the docks. “I’ll tell them I was out here doing science; no reason for us both to get arrested—” “Wait, Carlos,” Cecil said, “I can—” and he brought up one of his tentacles, faintly phosphorescent in the dark, and pressed it to the car window. Carlos thought for a second Cecil was going to try to smash it, and was about to warn that it was reinforced safety glass, when the tip’s glowing tendril flattened enough snake under the window and into the door. There was a squishy sound like stepping on jello, Cecil grunted, and the lock clicked open.
Adam Carlson is a writer. He lives in Georgia. You can find some of his old “Supernatural” fan fiction, if you really look.