On the morning of February 27th, I sent Luciamad an email from work. She had just recently gotten herself into bandom and although Luc is v. v. multi-fannish, it was clear that this one was special. Luc's relationship to most of her fandoms is academic, theoretical, and involves a certain amount of remove. This one was knocking at her walls. I was determined to encourage it.
She was already starting to talk herself out of it, both her inner monologue and outside forces taking her out of the fandom and I was damned if I was going to allow that to happen, so I wrote her a cheer up!fic. A tiny thing. Maybe 200 words or so. In the email. She loved it. Like, really loved it. So I sent her another one. A bit of a continuation.
Now, let's be clear: I was not in the fandom at this point. I had no interest in being so. It wasn't my type of music, all the guys looked alike to me, and I'd already had one RPS fandom break my heart. I was steering clear.
Only the email chain continued. And soon what had been one thread (Scenes from a Bus: Gerard/Frank, Mikey/Pete, Mikey/Frank) accidentally became two. See, I had heard about The Bottling and I actually kind of did know who Ryan was, just because when Luc showed me her picture file so that when she would tell me things I wouldn't have to look at her blankly, Ryan had been the one that I'd instantly seen. That was all I knew. Brendon had been bottled, Ryan was beautiful. I wrote a scene, and the second thread began (Good Boys: Ryan/Brendon). The third thread, (42: Bob/Spencer) came about simply due to the blinding hotness of that idea, and the need for Spencer to have a little love, because Ryan is one high-maintenance best friend. This was now the middle of March and I was on the cusp of joining fandom.
The fourth (Eight Times: Gerard/JC Chasez) and fifth (The 3%: Jon/Pete) threads came only later, when we had realized that the first three threads were actually one story. We didn't know this until pretty late in.
How is that possible, you ask? Well, for one thing, none of this was written like an actual story. It was all just reams upon reams of different scenes written in absolutely NO chronological order, based on prompts that Luc sent me that could be as vague as a word or as specific as a full paragraph of EXACTLY what she wanted. As that would suggest, there was no plan to this. In fact, I had no intention of anyone but Luc ever seeing this. We had a joke that started one evening where I was all, "One day I shall write The Great American Novel about the great trials and tribulations of these bands across the years." The name sort of stuck.
Then the beast, or TGAN, started to grow into hundreds of pages of fic, and we started to think that maybe, just maybe, this was something that should be shared. I also started to realize that this was so much a part of my genesis of writing in this fandom, so much a fact of the decisions I made regarding characterizations and my involvement in this bandom world that NOT to post was a little on the dishonest side. That said, there were lots of problems with that decision.
The first was whether or not to form it into a linear narrative. We eventually came down on the side that we had to, even though we feel it actually loses a lot in the translation, and there are times when the transitions are more implicit than explicit (there are, in fact, times when it feels like things are simply MISSING) which makes me mildly uncomfortable as a writer, but to fix it would have meant messing with the basic nature of the story, and I was unwilling to do that. (Also, I think there might be some worth in testing the boundaries of my comfort zone.) All that said, we felt that to not have a beginning/middle/end made it somewhat impenetrable. However, because there are multiple POVs that were written as the idea or prompt came along, there are oftentimes things that overlap, that go backwards a bit, or don't sync precisely.
The second was how to link all the stories together when they are actually all occurring in the same timeline, and often overlap. (See above note re: POV, but also, there was the issue of the way the plotlines intersect and depend upon each other.) In the end we decided to have each of the threads stand on its own, and hope that people would be patient enough with me, with the stories, to read each and make their own connections. It is not a perfect solution, if anything, it is indecently imperfect, but it was the best of what we saw our choices as being.
The third was what to take out, because it NEEDED to be pared down. We took out a veritable novel's worth of scenes. Close to 117K words. (Total posted word count ended up being slightly over 200K.)
The fourth was realizing that for so long, my knowledge of canon had been so bad--or I had willfully ignored what I knew because I had no intention of posting this, it was simply play--that this was going to need to be an AU, because some of the things--like Panic playing at Warped before they actually ever would have released a CD, or like My Chem and Panic playing in multiple tours together, or like Bob and Ray being vegans (yeah, don't ask; I might have discovered DEEPLY wrong canon there, for a bit) were just too central to or interwoven with the rest of the fic to find a way around them. So yes, if you read it, go in expecting an AU that closely mirrors reality and if you're like "that's not canon!" you're totally, totally right.
Basically: this is not the easiest story to read. It's long and not plot-driven, not at all. And all five threads are needed to best understand each one separately.
Luc, who has spent hours, days, probably weeks, all told, reforming this, finding a timeline for it, bringing it into existence with the strength of her desires, says I need to believe in it, and I'm trying, because I do love it, but loving is different than believing.
Here is what I do believe: I have written this story over a period of more than six months. (From the first scene on 2/27 to the last scene, which was written 8/27. That was actually just coincidence.) This pre-existed everything, including Wednesday-verse. I have written it for one of the people I love absolute most in this entire world. It is a love letter of the grandest sort to her, and to fandom. Every one of the characters has become my baby, most of what is written here is my personal canon regardless of actual possibility. If that interests you, give it a shot. If not, I can't say I blame you.
In the unimportant-but-I-feel-worth-mentioning category, there are two significant instances of prostitution in this fic. They were what got me started thinking about Wednesday-verse.
Announcement: I have taken down "Little Drummer Boys" as it is, and always has been, part of "42." Most of the scenes from it can be found therein, if anyone wants them.
Warnings: There is a ton of sex in this fic. Luc likes sex. Some of it is kinky. There is role-playing, DP, slight BDSM, come shots, spanking--both erotic and discipline-oriented--non-con, branding, dirty-talk, toys, object penetration, fisting, voyeurism/exhibitionism, very slight sensory play, and threesomes.
Guidelines: "Good Boys" can mostly be read on its own, as can the overwhelming majority of "Scenes from a Bus." (As such, I would start with one of them.) To read "42" and "The 3%" you probably need to have at least read "Good Boys". "Eight Times" might be able to stand on its own, but it is going to make WAY more sense if read in conjunction with "Scenes". (Not to mention, "Scenes" probably gets a huge boost from "Eight Times". Oh, and BOTH "Good Boys" and "Scenes" make more sense if you read both of them.) If you get to something that seems to come from nowhere, there's probably a scene in one of others that clears it all up.