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The Bar at the End of the Fandom

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You aren't expecting it, not really. You're only doing this because you read something somewhere, or you heard something, or a friend said something, or maybe it's something your mom told you about—but you read a book, or watch a movie or TV show, or see an advertisement, or hear a song, or play a game, or...

Well. Anything can be a fandom, you've always known that. But you didn't expect to be hit with feels about this canon, not this hard. You need fic—need to write it, need to read it, just need it to exist. And if you want it to be a little smutty, well. Your mother never need know.

But despite Rule 34, when you go to AO3, you don't find the porn you're looking for. You don't even find the fandom you're looking for—so now it's time for Rule 35. If you build it, they will come.

You write a fic; it's short and sweet and full of explicit sexual content, and you make sure you tag it diligently. You want this to be found, don't want to be the only one writing fic for this fandom (though if you have to, you will).

You click "Post without preview"—and then the magic begins.

***

Fic count: 1.
Tag count: 7.

PWP materializes in the center of the Main Square of [Your Fandom] and brushes hirself off, shivering delightedly. Ze loves the smell of new fandom in the morning. It helps, of course, that post-materialization always feels like the afterglow of a really, really, really good orgasm—and ze would know.

After a moment, PWP realizes ze has an audience. The character and relationship tags—so young, so innocent; PWP almost wants to pinch their cheeks and coo, but that'd be too Fluff-like for hir taste—are all staring. PWP poses proudly, tossing hir head back and running a hand through hir hair, making no effort to hide hir nudity but rather flaunting it.

"Oh, come on," ze says, after a long moment of silence. "I don't bite." Ze grins toothily. "Much."

One character, clearly the leader so far, steps forward. "Can we help you?" she asks, looking PWP up and down disdainfully. "Some clothes, perhaps?"

"Careful, honey, no kink-shaming in fandom," PWP says, just as disdainful, with a wag of hir finger to boot. Ze sighs. Clearly, these kids are too green to be fun yet—though ze'll bet that when this girl lets her hair down, she's a real scream(er). "And you can point me in the direction of the bar."

"We have no bar," she replies.

"Not your bar," PWP says, rolling hir eyes. "The metatag bar. I'm here, which means there has to be one somewhere."

Another character comes forward, pushing his glasses up his nose. "There was a loud bang from over that hill about two seconds before you showed up," he says, pointing. "You might try there?"

"Sounds about right," PWP grins. A loud bang means Hate Sex is probably nearby, and oh, man, does ze love that tag. And get Hate Sex in a room with Revenge Sex…PWP's grin widens as ze remembers that particular threesome. "Think I'll give it a look, thanks."

Ze starts to sashay away, making sure to swing hir hips distractingly. Just as ze reaches the edge of the square, ze turns around to see most of the character tags (and the one relationship that's shown up thus far) watching.

"Don't worry," ze says. "I'm sure we'll all be getting to know each other very well before long." Ze casts an assessing look at the relationship tag. "Especially you." The two characters flush, their joined hands glowing brightly as they look away. PWP grins. Such babies, all of them; they really are adorable. Ze can't wait to corrupt them.

But that can wait; first, ze's got some old friends to see.

***

Fic count: 8.
Tag count: 20.

Turns out the boy was right about the bar being in the direction of the bang, though when PWP looks through the windows, ze doesn't see Hate Sex—or Revenge Sex—anywhere. No Gunplay, either. Pity.

Warnings, as always, is bouncing at the door, huge and menacing, hir arms crossed over hir chest.

"PWP," ze greets in hir booming voice.

"Warnings," PWP nods. "Nothing to declare this time, I swear." Ze holds out hir arms wide and turns in a circle. "See? Nothing hidden anywhere." Warnings blinks slowly, and PWP grins. "Of course, you don't have to take my word for it; you're always welcome to"—ze leers—"strip-search me, if you catch my meaning."

Warnings rolls hir eyes.

"You know the rules," ze says. "No strip-searching unless you're reported for abuse." Hir eyes narrow. "No funny business, you hear?"

"Warnings!" PWP exclaims, clutching hir breast. "You wound me to my core! I have nothing but the utmost respect for you, and for the rules." Ze leans in, batting hir eyelashes. "Though I won't say no if you want to...punish me. If I'm bad."

"Don't intentionally break the rules," Warnings says impassively, though hir eyes sweep over PWP with more than a little interest, "and maybe we'll talk. Later," ze adds, when PWP edges closer. "I have work to do." Ze lifts the velvet rope and jerks hir head in the direction of the bar. "Get inside already, you're holding up the line."

"Mm, I like it when you tell me what to do," PWP says with a grin, ducking under the rope and delighting in the way Warnings' eyes narrow.

Once inside, PWP looks around the bar, taking everything in. It's fairly empty, and quiet, though that's not unexpected, given that the fandom's still in its early days. Ratings and Length stand behind the bar, chatting easily as they prepare and serve drinks. A counter above the bar declaims "FICS SERVED," and increments each time a drink is finished. The bunnies that form the waitstaff hop around, collecting and passing out drink orders—at this point, it's a fairly small staff, and they seem to be collecting more than distributing, but that'll change soon enough. It always does.

Then PWP sees the tag sitting with her back resting against the bar, dark eyes scanning the room assessingly. PWP grins brightly and heads over.

"PWP," Bechdel Test Pass greets dryly as PWP slides into the empty seat next to hers. "Took you long enough."

PWP laughs and kisses Bechdel on the cheek. "Bechie, darling, I do so love it when you get here before me. And, of course"—ze looks her up and down, making no attempt to be subtle—"you're looking radiant as ever."

She rolls her eyes. "Flattery will only get you so far, my dear."

"Yes, yes, actions speak louder than words," ze replies. "I remember you waxing eloquent on the subject. Speaking of which, how are things with Femslash?"

"Lovely, thank you," she says, smiling brilliantly. "This fandom has been particularly welcoming; I'm actually waiting for her to finish coaching the girls of a relationship with First Time, and then we're going to see if Women Being Awesome has made it over here yet."

"Ooh, experimenting with threesomes now, are we?" PWP asks. "If you're open to a fourth, I do know how to please a lady, or so I've been told."

"I know," Bechdel says, sipping her drink. "I was there." She tilts her head and thinks. "We're not looking right now, but maybe when things become a little more established." She grins. "Feel free to keep asking."

"I will," PWP promises. Ze means it, too; those three ladies are always a good time, and PWP's never been with all of them at once. New bucket list item, check.

Just then, a tray plops down on the bar in front of hir, covered in an assortment of drinks, and PWP looks up to see Ratings grinning down at him. Ratings winks, adjusts hir checkered apron, and then plonks a dark red bottle of Explicit on the bar, just next to the tray.

"PWP," ze greets. "You've been popular; those are all for you." Ze grins again. "Seems like people know you; they're mostly Quick-and-Dirties." Ze indicates the small shot glasses filled with dark red liquor that dominate the tray.

"One-shot, explicit, twist optional," PWP agrees, picking up one of the shots and downing it in one go. Ze shivers in delight. "Oh, that is absolutely sinful. What's in it?"

"New kink mix," Ratings says. "You like it?"

"Do I ever," PWP says, grabbing two more shots.

Ze offers one to Bechdel Test Pass, but she shakes her head.

"Those are yours, not mine," she says.

"Suit yourself," PWP replies, gunning down first one shot and then the next, then reaching for yet another. "More for me."

"Mmhmm," Bechdel says absently, her eyes sweeping over the room. Then she straightens up suddenly, finishing the rest of her glass in one gulp and putting it on the bar behind her without looking. "I'll see you later, PWP, yeah?"

PWP turns and follows her gaze. Femslash has just walked into the room with First Time, followed by Female Character of Color, Female Friendship, and—oh, that's fun, Girls with Guns. Ze grins.

"Oh, you definitely will," ze says, licking hir lips. "Most certainly."

Bechdel laughs. She pushes off the bar and strides forward, pulling Femslash into a bruising kiss that elicits a number of catcalls and has several bunnies popping into existence on the spot.

"It won't last," a voice says mournfully from PWP's left.

"Oh, Angst," PWP says, throwing an arm around hir shoulder. "You're always so pessimistic. I love that about you."

"Gets old," Fluff sniffs, coming up from PWP's other side. "No happiness, not ever, and Wranglers forbid anyone put sugar in hir drink. Nothing lasts, nothing stays—"

"I tried!" Angst exclaims, slamming hir drink down on the bar. "But eventually all that sappiness gets into everything, and it gets old! It doesn't help when you're critiquing everything about me—"

PWP sighs and turns back to the bar, shotgunning another Quick-and-Dirty as Fluff and Angst yell at each other over hir. Length drops another tray in front of hir, looking sympathetic.

"Flangst didn't take?" PWP asks.

"They butt heads more often than not," Length confides. "Every now and again, they'll strike that perfect balance, but they had a messy break-up in their last fandom, and now..." Ze sighs. "Can hardly share a drink these days."

"Pity," PWP says. Ze grabs another drink—a Collection, this time; it's the largest of the drinks on the tray, with green and yellow and orange swirling in with the Explicit red. Each sip tastes a bit different, too; you never quite know what you're going to get—and sips it, half-listening as Fluff and Angst continue to fight. Then there's the sound of something shattering—and everyone in the room freezes, turning to look.

Angst stands over the remnants of what looks like it was a fairly large glass, its contents seeping out over the floor. Angst looks triumphant; Fluff looks absolutely heart-broken.

"I can't believe you!" ze exclaims, finally, visibly holding back tears. "How could you do that to a fic—how could you destroy it like that? It was lovely, all sweet and full of hope, and it just got better with every chapter—"

"It couldn't last," Angst shoots back. "The center couldn't hold, it was falling apart from the inside—"

"Enough!"

The bar falls silent.

"Enough," Fix-It repeats, quieter this time, making hir way through the (ever-growing) crowd. "You've just given us our first abandoned Work in Progress—and before we even hit fifty fics!" Ze gestures at the counter above the bar, which, as everyone watches, increments to "45." A bunny scuttles over to Fix-It, a tall drink in its hand. "Thank you," Fix-It says quietly, taking a sip. This is then the cue for three more bunnies to take the same drink to 5 Things, Kissing, and Friends to Lovers, who toast each other silently.

"You should be ashamed of yourselves," Fix-It says, as ze continues to lecture Angst and Fluff.

"No shaming in fandom!" someone yells from the back of the room.

"But they made Hurt/Comfort cry!" someone else says. PWP turns to look for the conjoined twins, and finds them at the bar, where Hurt is indeed sobbing into hir drink while Comfort rubs hir back soothingly. It makes sense that they'd take this harder than most; Fluff and Angst are like parents to them, and Hurt/Comfort must have been devastated by the break-up.

Fluff and Angst look at each other and then stare at the floor, shuffling their feet and clearly looking like children who have just been chastised. PWP sighs; this isn't helping.

"Just kiss and make up," ze says. "Or find Hate Sex and work all of this off." Ze looks around. "Where is Hate Sex, anyway, has ze shown up yet—"

Hate Sex slams PWP against the bar. "I've been here for ages, and you didn't bother to come seek me out, PWP, and after that amazing sex we had last time"—ze rolls hir hips against PWP's, who gasps and pulls Hate Sex closer, pulling on hir hair—"I can't believe you'd just fob me off on Flangst. Clearly," ze says, leaning down and biting PWP, hard, "we should go out back and I should remind you—"

"Don't go out back!" Voyeurism exclaims, shoving forward. "Stay here, let us watch—" Ze trails off, looking at them hungrily.

"What ze said," Exhibitionism says, draping an arm around Voyeurism. "You're not just going to fade to black and leave us hanging, are you?"

"Thinking about it," Hate Sex says, punctuating hir statement with a vicious roll of hir hips. PWP groans. "Thinking about leaving this one hanging, if ze can't even respect me..."

"I respect you, I respect you!" PWP exclaims. "Oh, don't stop—"

Hate Sex doesn't, just keeps pounding PWP against the bar until they both shake, and by the time they break apart, panting, they've amassed quite an audience—and everyone's forgotten about Angst and Fluff, which was rather the point. (Except for Angst and Fluff themselves, who appear to be talking things out in the corner, with a mediation team comprised of Hurt/Comfort, Misunderstandings, and Schmoop—Angst and Fluff's best friends, respectively. Nothing appears to be broken, and it looks like they might actually be sharing a drink. Small mercies.)

"Mm," PWP says, reaching for a comforting drink of Sex with Feelings. (To be honest, the variety of drinks amassing in front of hir on the bar is truly impressive.) "That was perfect, Hate Sex, thank you."

"Don't get used to it, we're never doing it again," Hate Sex says, with one last shove, and then walks away without a look back. PWP just laughs. After all, Hate Sex grabbed a duplicate flute of Sex with Feelings just before leaving, downing it all in one gulp. Ze'll be back; they always are.

***

Fic Count: 50.
Tag count: 30.

Of course, Fic #50 is when Alternate Universe shows up, retinue in tow. AU's never the first tag to show up to the party; but ze's always the biggest tag, the one with the most fics to hir name. As soon as AU walks into the bar, the number of fics starts to shoot up, the counter dinging rapidly as bunnies pop into existence and Ratings and Length grow extra hands just to keep up with demand.

PWP watches AU sweep in with a grin, assessing which AUs have decided to show up this time. It's quite a range, really: Canon Divergence is here, of course, as are Modern AU (and its siblings Coffeeshop AU and College/University AU), Regency AU, Werewolf AU and Vampire AU (which, thankfully, seem to have stopped trying to kill each other by means of brooding stares), Superpower AU, Dystopia AU, Pirate AU—oh, and Space Pirate AU is here, too, with hir "Gorram"s and "Shiny"s and bastardized Chinese—

In short, it's a lot of AUs, and all of them are, as usual, bowing and scraping and sucking up to their parent tag. AU takes hir seat at the head of the largest table in the room, the rest of the AUs scrambling to determine who will sit closest. AU's barely arranged hir cape properly (seriously. A cape.) before a bunny deposits a drink in front of hir, its bright green standing out even from several feet away. A smaller drink is deposited in front of College AU, who smirks at the rest of the AUs before taking a triumphant sip. Ze then promptly spits it out, yelling about poison and screaming obscenities—and when ze turns in the direction of the bar, PWP can see hir tongue is bright green.

"Good, isn't it?" Crack says, sliding into the open seat next to PWP. "It was Humor's idea."

"Oh, don't sell yourself short," Humor says with a shit-eating grin, taking the seat on PWP's other side. "We were bored, thought this party could use a little livening up."

"Not that you haven't been livening things up yourself." Crack's grin is a perfect mirror of Humor's as ze shoves PWP's side. "That was some pretty hot sex, earlier." Crack grins and leans in, licking a stripe along PWP's neck. "Think we could get a private showing?"

"You have such bad lines," Humor says, rolling hir eyes, before leaning in to bite at PWP's neck. PWP tilts hir head to give them both better access, grinning as they all start to get dirty looks from AU. They're stealing hir thunder—which was obviously Humor and Crack's intent, and PWP isn't exactly in a position to complain.

"Like yours are any better." Crack punctuates this with a squeeze to PWP's ass.

"Yeah, yeah," Humor says, moving up to suck on PWP's ear. "So," ze whispers to PWP. "Bad lines aside, what do you think?"

"I think you had me at 'hot sex,'" PWP says, using the bar to push hirself up to a standing position. "I happen to know for a fact that there's a very large stall in the AU bathroom—"

Humor and Crack giggle evilly and drag hir off.

***

Fic count: 74.
Tag count: 154.

By the time PWP returns from the bathroom (ze forgot how exhausting Humor and Crack can be, especially in combination), things are hopping. The fic count is only incrementing slowly, but bunnies are popping into existence in every corner, and nearly every major metatag has shown up. PWP scans the room, trying to figure out where to go—and then hir eyes land on a table at the very center of the room, sitting directly between the Childfic/Domesticfic and AU tables. Ze sashays over, swinging hir hips so widely that everyone else has to clear a path for hir, staring—which is, of course, just how ze likes it.

As soon as ze reaches the table, several drinks are shoved in the air, and there's a loud cry of "PORN!" as ze's dragged into a seat by several hands, and numerous drinks are planted in front of hir.

"We were wondering where you'd got to," Fingerfucking says, stroking hir hands up and down PWP's body.

"Everyone was telling us about some really hot sex you'd had with Hate Sex on the bar," Oral Sex says, sucking on a bright red lollipop.

"But then we all got here, and we couldn't find you," BDSM says, with a pout. Ze reaches out and grabs PWP's wrists, holding them loosely. "We were...quite disappointed."

PWP rolls hir eyes. "I was with Humor and Crack in the AU bathroom, don't tell me no one told you anything. AU was practically frothing at the mouth when we left."

"Didn't like you stealing the spotlight, mm?" Tentacles says, adding hir tentacles to the stroking.

"When does ze ever?" PWP asks. "I love AU, AU brings me all the nicest things—incidentally, anyone seen Alpha/omega or Dom/sub ‘verse around?—but sometimes it's just so much fun to get under hir skin."

"Literally," Aliens Made Them Do It comments.

"Of course."

"And A/o and D/s aren't here yet," BDSM adds. "But it's only a matter of time. After all—" ze points at a distinctive figure sitting at the Childfic and Domesticfic table.

"Mpreg!" PWP exclaims excitedly. "Get your ass over here!" Mpreg whirls around, his eyes narrowing. "Sorry, sorry, pun very much not intended! I know how you feel about C-sections." Mpreg rolls his eyes, and turns back to gossiping with Pregnancy and Rule 63, though he keeps shooting sidelong glances at PWP. PWP grins, and leans into Tentacles's gentle, omnipresent touch.

Only a matter of time, indeed.

***

Fic count: 97.
Tag count: 203.

When a fic count nears 100, it never rains, but it pours.

"Help!" an unfamiliar voice shouts from the door. The raucous party in the bar grinds instantly to a halt and everyone turns to see—a character tag, holding hands with what appears to be an identical tag. But there's something...different.

"What seems to be the problem?" Warnings rumbles, crossing hir arms and glaring around menacingly.

"This tag—it just showed up, and it looks like a character, but it has all these...modifiers," the character says. Upon closer look, it's true—there are concepts like "drunk" and "manipulative" and "darling" and "slutty" (PWP licks hir lips) dangling from the character's jacket, all attached with exclamation points. "We weren't sure where it should go."

"Over here, sweetie," someone calls, and everyone looks over to the table in the corner, where several of the freeform tags (of which, of course, there are several; this is the Era of Tumblr, after all) have congregated. The modified character tag stumbles over, looking absolutely terrified, poor thing (PWP resolves to drag him to the nearest bathroom stall and make him feel welcome as soon as possible).

The excitement from their first modified character tag (which is ridiculously exciting, seriously) has barely faded before a new, entirely different tag, sleek and elegant, sidles up to the bar. Length and Ratings take a look at hir, evaluating what hir drink should be—and then, as one, they cover their mouths with their hands and start blinking back tears, clearly overcome with emotion.

Length and Ratings take their time preparing this tag's drink, and when they hand it over, the reason for their joy becomes apparent: a new count appears over the bar, and as everyone watches, "PODFICS SERVED" increments up to "1."

"DRINKS ALL AROUND!" someone yells, and then things get...a bit hazy.

***

Fic count: 199.
Podfic count: 15.
Fanvid count: 26.
Tag count: 354.

Everyone sits around the bar, staring up at the fic count.

"One more," Soulbond says.

"One more," everyone echoes.

A bunny appears in the middle of the room, and everyone turns to stare at it. It shakes a little, nervous under all that attention—and then the door opens.

A tag in a Santa hat (with a Star of David emblazoned in its very center, and surrounded by a log, a sun, and a Kwanzaa kinara, among other symbols) enters, bearing presents and followed by an army of bears, hippos, goats, and other various entities.

"Happy Yuletide!" ze exclaims, just as the counter increments to 200.

The cheering nearly breaks the entire fandom.

***