So then, because he’s Hardison, he created a fandom.
He had the backstory for Gold and Hardiman and Mr. Punchy anyway, they were part of the notes he needed to put together to decide what colour their costumes would be like.
He put together a rough show bible while he was playing with the animation software so that he could surprise Eliot with the other pop-out effects his character did.
He vacillated between a webcomic and an animated series, and in his more control freak moments he thought of setting it up as a public RPG with multiple sockpuppet amounts, but in the end, all he needed to do was ‘leak’ the internal wiki of a superhero franchise that DC and Marvel bought the rights to from some carefully unnamed visionary writer and then deliberately chose not to develop.
There are theories on the net about who the comic behemoths are getting kickbacks from to keep the series buried, and the cool thing is that Hardison didn’t even need to plant the CIA version directly. As the hoodheads (Hardison tried to push for ‘Levers’ to become the official fan moniker, but beyond a point, he knows when to bow to organic growth and the popularity of Robin Hood) point out, you can get most of the clues from in between the writing.
The Leverengers wiki, with its assortment of character sketches and page mock-ups and animated snippets and plot outlines debuted online just in time for it to be nominated as a yuletide fandom. (And yes, fandom would mock that name, but with no less affection than 'Albus Severus' or 'Renesmee' had recieved.) A no-name fan with some previous obscure manga fic to her credit managed to write the Fic That Ate Yuletide for it—- and Hardison only helped beta it and add some of the more hardcore gamer in-jokes. (His Nana, who wrote the fic, was responsible for the preslash and the puns.)
It was lucky timing that his fandom made through as a rare one in the first place, because soon after, it exploded. xkcd did a strip about the wiki, and (according to the commenters on its LJ RSS feed) included some coded references to the mysterious creator which for a brief period led to some RPS drabbles about Randall Munroe and Mr. H. Esq. (as the creator’s blurred signature on the image files was deciphered as). There was one particularly funny kink meme fill involving them and Felicia Day at Comicon.
Gold and Mr Punchy were the fandom favourites. Of course they were; Hardison had designed Mr. Punchy’s character backstory to appeal to both the woobie floppy haired boy aficionados, and the bad boy in leather antihero lovers. And while there were the occasional self-hating misogynist rants about Gold being a Mary Sue, she was kick-ass and funny enough for even the hardcore slashers to mostly just go with an OT3 rather than try to write her out.
Actually, fannish output tended to vary between the Gold/Silver femmeslashers (the tinsel kinkmeme comm on dreamwidth is believed to be the place where ‘kink: freefall!sex’ first became popular) and the Mr. Punchy/Hardiman slashers, because, as meta post after meta post pointed out, the only canonical sexual relationships in the wiki were the ones that happened during the Gold/Punchy/Hardiman alien abduction arc.
As pimp posts were fond of saying, you’ve got to love a fandom where the threesome and the sex pollen are part of a ‘let’s steal a spaceship’ plot.
Mercury never got much written about him. The Gold/Silver writers tend to find ways to get around his fucked up backstory with Silver, and an aca-fan actually ended up writing an article for OTW on the wank that erupted when a miffed fanboy claimed it was ok for him to use the term ‘fridging’ to describe some of the most violent and less well-written fics on ff.net. (The highlight of that wank was when failfandom_anon discovered some old posts by a sockpuppet of the fanboy claiming that Mr. H Esq was Frank Miller, and THAT spawned a massive Leverengers as WHORES meme that eventually got its own TV tropes entry.)
A newbie called Alec made a post to the main comm once, asking everyone about their favourite characters and why no one seemed to like Mercury much. There were dozens of comments (and a brief but entertaining digression into cat macros), but the one Hardison liked most came from another newbie who said: ‘You know, I’ve just discovered this fandom and I was wondering the same thing. I mean, here is this incredible world, built by this crazy genius who obviously put, like, Tolkein levels of love and attention into it, and the way the fandom exists there’s just so much room to play, and ship het and slash and poly and everything, and then I looked at Mercury and I was just like… blah. There’s nothing there. The character just comes off as this boring, smug loser. I mean, he’s like Elrond. Who gives a fuck, especially when there are badass characters like Glorfindel to develop, and tragic ones like Feanor to redeem, and mysterious ones like Celeborn to explore. I mean, frankly, Mercury could Fade Into The West, and I could give a fuck.’
Hardison replied with his favourite gif to that comment. It was fanart someone on Deviantart had drawn of Gold and Mr. Punchy and Hardiman all very naked and in bed, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up to Silver, who was standing in the doorway with a speech bubble saying ‘Finally!’
The closest Hardison ever came to trolling his own fandom was when he decided to leak to the wiki certain new comments from internal memos at Dark Horse comics that proved that Mr. H. Esq was both still alive, and was Black. He did it mostly because his Nana (who had become somewhat of a BNF in the SJ-circles) wanted it included in Dark Agenda’s chromatic sources list. What it led to instead was a massive and ugly imbroglio that involved conspiracy theories about Neil Gaiman and the Supernatural fandom getting involved when some idiot decided (by way of sharing some truly NSFW fanart), to ask Misha if he was Mr. H. Esq.
Even on his most down days, Hardison would check in to see how his fandom was doing. It was just too brilliant and complicated and over the top and intricate and tricky and complex to ignore, too joyous and wild and uncontrolled an organism to ever harsh his squee.
Hardison took his fandom seriously, people. Seriously.