Fanfiction: It’s Like Nerd Heroin

You know you’ve done it, stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, laptop/ipad/mobile phone clutched tightly to your chest, and the only light in your bedroom is the faint glow of a dimly lit electronic screen.

You know you have.

You know that you’ve opened it at work/school/Starbucks and made the words tiny enough to where you can hardly read them and you’re positive no one else can.

You know that, deep down, it’s wrong. It is so very wrong. You know you should feel more ashamed, that your face should be a tinge more red when you get caught. That you should deny it a little bit more emphatically.

But you don’t care.

You don’t care that it’s against the canon.

You like it.

Deep down, you crave it. You need it.

One is never enough.

It never is.

It begins innocently enough, just some one-shot fluff about Sherlock cooking dinner for his Jawn. Cute and innocent, like a bunny. It makes you feel good. Gooey inside, almost like the innards of a Snickers. “It’s harmless,” you think, “I’ll just read one more.” So you open one about Dean and Castiel watching a movie and holding hands. So cute. So incredibly cute. You need more cuteness like this in your life, because the world is bad and ugly and no one is cute like Destiel. You open another one, it’s a bit longer and is a little angsty, but it’s just as fluffy and it’s about the first meeting of Eleven and Rose Tyler. Rose recognizes the Doctor by the way he says the word, “Brilliant.” It’s just so, so adorable and you need more. You need it because maybe you failed a test or you had a flat tire and you just need that cute to pick you up. Just a little cute never hurt.

You open a 60,000-word AU fic in which John and Sherlock are teenagers. The adolescence ups the angst factor, but you don’t seem to mind, and in fact, the angst just makes the fluff more fluffy so, really, it’s just good storytelling. Right? You reach the end, when John and Sherlock kiss for the first time, and you realize that you don’t mind. You like it. You wonder what would happen if they had a different kind of first-time, but you’re not quite ready for that, so you retreat to a familiar pairing of Ten/Rose or Uhura/Spock or Ron/Hermione because it’s safe. It’s canon.

But the wondering is still there, in the back of your mind, niggling. You’re curious. So you open another long and angsty piece, one that’s labeled under a couple’s name: Johnlock or Destiel or Merthur. There’s so many of these fics, all over Tumblr, all over AO3, all over everything. You want to know why.

There’s less fluff now. You find that you no longer want cute. You want angst and raw emotion, and, goddammit, you want it to be expressed physically. You need it to last longer now too. You’re opening 100,000+ word stories, and still, it’s not enough. There’s too much fluff. Too much in between the want and the raw and the need.

You need, but you don’t know what.

You ask for a fic rec on Tumblr, and suddenly you have lists and lists of fics with every kind of plot imaginable. Every kind of kink. “These writers are crazy,” you think, “How twisted are their minds? Good thing I’m not like that.” But you read anyway.

The fics you read, they’re shorter now. You care less about plot. You scroll down through any and all fluff. You didn’t notice, but everything you read is PWP. And when you do notice, you think you should feel dirtier than you do. It’s harmless; it’s just fanfiction.

Until one day, it’s not. Until one day, you’ve read every kind of fluff, plot, and kink and nothing works anymore. You explore different fandoms, but it’s all the same. The hold is broken, and you feel like you have too much time on your hands. And you miss them, miss these characters that you’ve seen written a hundred different ways in a hundred different universes. So you go back to the source, back to the canon, back to the original.

And then there’s that one episode, that one chapter, that one moment, that gives you feels. Feels that are so intense, that grip your heart and choke it with words like “I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye” or “Goodbye, John” or “The last pages are for you, Sam.” You hate the feels.

Or do you?

It’s late and you’re heart has been broken (again) by your fandom of choice. You can’t sleep because that one goddamn scene—that heart-choking one—won’t let you. There’s that haunting melody or that held-back sob or that deliberate pause that just kills you, kills you, every fucking time because, let’s face it, you don’t exist in the real. You live there, in your mind palace filled with consulting detectives and timelords and angels and hobbits and every fucking thing you’ve ever liked. You hate it; you hate that it can’t stop.

So you pull out your laptop/ipad/phone and you look for an angsty one-shot No fluff, no kink. Just angst. Because maybe, maybe someone else has written down what you feel.

You find it. Maybe it’s called “How a Righteous Man Raises a Rose” or “A Thousand Languages” or “Alone on the Water.” It’s only a few thousand words, but when you reach the end, you die a little because that, that, was how you always/never wanted your OTP to feel about each other.

Maybe you cry, maybe you don’t, but afterward, you think, “Maybe…maybe I just want to read a little fluff now.”

And that, my friends, is the way of fanfiction. It’s a slippery slope.

Signed, The Admiral of my own Fanfic Fleet

-The Collectress