Arthur noticed the exact moment it happened. Merlin’s shoulders slumped, he leaned back in the chair and he sighed deeply after opening his email.
When Merlin said ‘nothing’ like that, Arthur knew there was something. “What is it?”
He got up and walked over. “If it’s not important, why do you look as if someone just kicked a puppy?”
Arthur peeked over Merlin’s shoulder and read the email his boyfriend had opened. It was a comment on of his stories. “I can’t believe it.”
“Yeah, it’s not worth it.” Merlin sighed again.
“True, it’s not worth it, those people aren’t worth it, but still, it affects you and they are hidden by the anonymous world of the internet and think they can just do about everything.”
Merlin just sniffed. “I’ve been working on this so hard.”
“There’s always this one special snowflake, eh?” Arthur squeezed Merlin’s shoulder.
“I just don’t get it. Why do they do that?”
When he saw the sad look on Merlin’s face, Arthur got angry. “Because they are pathetic and have no lives of their own. I mean, come on, the nerve! Someone, who’s not a professional writer, takes the time out of their days that are busy with making a living, is creative, writes a story and they have nothing better to do than write a nasty comment?”
“I don’t know.”
“What an asshat! Do they know how much work went into this? Not only by you. You’ve been working on this for almost half a year, Percy beta-read it, Gwaine did the art, Gwen did the beta for the art and you were all so anxious to post it.” Arthur never understood why his friends were so keen on putting fanart out, but they had fun with it, so it was okay by him.
“And not even twelve hours later, the first nasty comment came in.” Merlin sighed again. “Maybe it’s not as good as we thought?”
“It’s not your fault that this moron wants to read about their own sensitivities and when they don’t find it, they think they have the right to write a lengthy comment.”
“It’s like they don’t get what this story focusses on.”
“I know.” Arthur always tried to stay out of it, but in the end, he knew more about the story Merlin was working on than anyone else. This one was no exception.
“I…I just don’t understand what makes them go on reading? I mean, this is no short drabble that you can finish in five minutes. It takes even me more than an hour to reread and I know what’s coming, I’ve written the damn thing!”
“There’s a little X in the upper right corner of the screen. If I don’t like something I’m reading and I’m reading for the fun of it…” Arthur shrugged. “I’ll just leave it and don’t turn back. They must have very little self-esteem to not being able to just do that. No, they need to put others down to make themselves feel bigger. Even though they are just showing that they didn’t even grasp what they were reading.” He didn’t even notice that he started pacing.
“It hurts anyway.”
“Instead of shrugging it off, leaving and never reading any of your things again – which you wouldn’t notice – they take a lot of time out of their pathetic little days to challenge you to rewrite something into exactly what they want to dwell on.”
“And they are close to calling you names because you won’t do that.” Arthur looked at the screen again. “How I hate those phrases telling you it’s oh, such a good, story, but…Bullshit! Don’t start a sentence with ‘It’s a good story, but’, you mean it’s not a good story and if you’re too coward to say so, stay away!”
“Remember that one who told me I needed a beta-reader when in fact, the story had been beta’d by two different people?”
“Yes, another idiot. They are everywhere. And it’s so easy these days on the internet. You don’t see the other person, you don’t know who they are. They would wet their panties if they were face to face with you and wouldn’t have the guts to tell you this to your face.”
“Most likely not.”
“Oh, and look, it’s just another anonymous again. One that puts up a fake name and doesn’t even have an account to show their own works. Why might that be, what do you think? OH! Most likely because they’ve never written a coherent sentence in their entire lives?” Arthur glared.
“Yeah, you know, if someone comes and says ‘Hey, I like this, but I would like to focus a bit more on this and that. Would it be okay for you if I took your story as a basis for my own story and tell it from this perspective?’ I might even agree to it. But this is just low.”
“You know what? Just go tell them to stick it up their…”
“What? They’re not polite, why would you be? What gives them the right to treat you this way? Why do they think you’ll go and write a story according to their wishes? Like you owe them something? Let me tell you one thing: You owe them shit!”
“You know I’m right, right? You write for your own personal enjoyment and if someone else likes it enough to leave a nice comment that’s great. If they don’t, oh well. But it’s not like you depend on what they say.”
“It pulls you down anyways.” Merlin swivelled around on his chair.
“And they shouldn’t do that. It’s plain wrong. You owe them nothing. They didn’t even pay you for the time you put into this, so they have no say in what you write. If they don’t like it, they should just fuck off. And you should tell them that.”
“I can hardly reply with a hearty ‘FUCK OFF!’”
“You could. But the way I know you, you’ll find a more eloquent way of saying it.” Arthur stopped at Merlin’s desk and pressed a kiss on his hair. “Or you know what?”
Before Merlin could react, Arthur reached for the mouse and pressed ‘delete’ to send the nasty comment into electronic nirvana.