A/N: This is possibly the weirdest thing I have ever written. It's for no particular fandom, as you can tell.
Er, hopefully it'll explain a bit why the next chapter of Compliments is so slow in coming :)
The young woman sighed, hanging her head in shame. "I don't know why I keep coming here. I think Mary needs me."
"Neither do the rest of us," a young teenager with spiky blonde hair and an English accent said sympathetically next to her. She waved her hand around to indicate the several hundred people surrounding them.
"It's just that I can come up with three million different plots, and she'll never get her ass off the couch and away from the TV to write them down!" the woman, Mary's Muse, sighed dramatically. "I'm just at my wits end!"
The English muse patted her on the shoulder. "At least you actually want to help, I know for a fact that bloke over there-"
"What, that guy with the beard?"
"No, the bloke in the Gandalf tee shirt-"
"Oh I see him!"
"Yeah, anyway, he's been avoiding his writer, Peter, for close to three months now."
Mary's Muse looked appalled. "Oh my god, why?"
The English muse snickered. "Apparently Peter worked him to the bone, up writing late into the night and up early to jot down prompts in preparation to further wring him dry for everything he knew. Poor bloke."
"He looks a bit worn."
"How's your writer, Kate, isn't it?"
"Ooh yes," the English teen said happily. "She's very happy, but quite worn herself. So many records, right now. I think she's glad to not have me around for a bit. Give her time to enjoy herself while she's young, and all that."
The Englishwoman shrugged. "At least that's what she tells her friends when they ask her why she's stopped writing songs for the past few weeks." She looked temporarily disconcerted. "Anyway, I'll be back and comfort her when she realizes her latest boyfriend is a cheater."
"What's sayd?" a voice asked from behind Mary's muse.
"That my writer's latest boyfriend is making out with some girl named Audrey behind the gymnasium," Kate's Muse responded, smiling at the newcomer.
"Thayt is sayd," the man said. He had a pronounced American Southern accent.
Mary's Muse vaguely wondered if he was some sort of cowboy. She had never met a cowboy before. How exciting!
"This is the muse of a fanfiction writer named Brandon," the English teen introduced.
"Who do you mainly write for?" Mary's Muse asked in an interested voice as she shook the Southerner's hand.
"Cahmics and movies. Mostly the Flash and the new Batmayn, y'all know the Dark Knight? Brandon cayn't keep his darn fingers away from his keyboard!"
"How darling," Mary's Muse sighed. "I wish Mary were like that."
"Anyway," Brandon's Muse continued, "He's on vacation ta Los Ayngelees. I figger I shouldn't botha him while he's othawise occupied."
"How considerate," the English teen said warmly.
"Anyway, I just stopped by ta see how y'all were gettin' on. Be seein' yah," he tipped his hat and sauntered away.
"Oh my," Mary's Muse breathed, fanning herself slightly. "Is he good?"
Kate's Muse grinned. "Brandon's Muse? One of the best."
"I don't doubt it," Mary's Muse said fervently.
"What do you know about fanfiction?" the English teen asked.
"Not much I'm afraid, Mary mostly sticks to poetry and short stories," the American admitted. "From what I gather, it is quite the pastime among young writers."
"Indeed," Kate's Muse agreed. "His writer, Brandon, has had close to a million people view his stories. And he doesn't even write for a popular genre!"
"He is good."
The American and the English teen turned their heads at the sound of a commotion a little ways off. Curiosity piqued, the American pulled her English friend over to the fanfiction section of the hall to get a closer look at the altercation.
"No way! That's, like, just not right!"
"Who bloody cares? It's fanfiction, it's supposed to not matter!"
There were two young girls arguing surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. One was blonde and wearing a sweater with a large letter 'A' knitted into the front. She looked around fourteen or fifteen and had her own wooden wand stuck into the belt loop of her jeans. The other was brunette, wearing a tee-shirt with a large number seven sewn onto the back and seemed about the same age.
"But the whole point is to continue the author's story!" the blonde was saying.
"Hell no! It's to become your own author and expand and explore, not bloody continue! That's a sequel, my friend, not a fanfiction!" the brunette said hotly.
"Ahh," the English teen whispered once she caught on. She glanced at the face of the poet and short novelist beside her. "They're arguing about canon," she muttered in her ear. "I've seen this sort before. This is only going to end badly."
"Canon?" Mary's Muse whispered, confused.
"The outlines as set by the original author or publisher," Kate's Muse explained quietly. "Something in canon would mean that it would fit within the acceptable and probable confines that the original medium established."
"Oh," Mary's Muse said quietly, her rapt attention on the argument that was quickly unfurling in front of them.
"Who says a fanfiction can't be a sequel? My writer Alice has written a couple of sequels..." one of the girls was arguing.
"Okay fine," the brunette huffed, "I'll give you that. But who in their right mind actually wants to write a sequel? That's damn boring. Better just to take the characters and run off with them, I say."
"Oh yeah? Like you have Draco running off with Hermione to the Shrieking Shack for hot, steamy sex?" the blonde argued dispassionately.
"Well, there's a plot to it that results in the shagging. Not all Dramione fics are smut, you know. You're just too narrow-minded to accept such ingenious -"
The blonde snorted in disbelief.
"-storylines. Or," the brunette grinned evilly, "Maybe Alice just doesn't have the talent to branch off and write gradual redeeming character transformations."
"R-redeeming?" Alice's Muse spluttered, "Draco Malfoy does not deserve to be redeemed! He tried to murder Albus Dumb-"
"Only because he was forced into it, you great prat!"
"Don't give me that crap, he had a choice!"
"What, do it or die?" the brunette scoffed.
"Come on, you can't let someone who is that gorgeous just die."
"JK Rowling barely mentions his looks at all! He's a freaking albino with blond hair!"
"So? What does it matter? As our own authors, we can write whatever the bloody hell we want to!"
"Not at the expense of the original story!"
"Hello? Have you even heard of an Alternate Universe? AU is a whole genre that readers just gobble up-"
A few of the spectators around her nodded in agreement. "You tell it girl!" someone shouted from the middle of the crowd.
"Fine. But what about Mary Sues? That-"
As a whole, the crowd booed.
"-almost never ends in a respectable story! No one wants to read a story about the author herself or some glorified, flawless teenage girl with great hair and super powers."
"I'll have know that I've read some perfectly fine stories with a Mary Sue!" the brunette interjected loudly.
"I said almost you idiot. Still, your chances for a well received fic are much higher if you stick within the original storyline and don't go gallivanting around with the characters you're given and make them as Out of Character as is possible to be!"
Mary's Muse was so absorbed by the argument that she didn't notice someone trip and knock into her shoulder.
"Whoops! Sorry!" the young Asian teen said hurriedly as she righted herself. "I wasn't looking where I was going."
"It's quite all right," Mary's Muse said cheerfully.
"I heard the yelling. Do you know what's going on? I'm quite new to this place," she confessed.
"I'm sorry, but my writer Mary doesn't engage in fanfiction – I assume your writer does?"
"Anyway, this little altercation drew me too. I'm afraid I'm just as clueless as you are," Mary's Muse sighed.
"My writer Rachel only started writing a few weeks ago. Before I helped her with school assigned essays and short stories," Rachel's Muse grimaced. "Dead boring. Anyway, she's just begun to write for Harry Potter fanfiction, and it's been a blast! I've been in a bit of a funk lately, and so I've escaped to here. It's really horrible when she starts to worry she's never going to write a decent sentence ever again."
"Poor dear," Mary's Muse said consolingly. "She'll get out of it, I'm sure."
"Thanks. Yeah, I'll do my best."
Suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed the Asian girl's shoulder. Rachel's Muse turned to face the newcomer. She had reddish brown hair and was wearing a casual blue tee shirt and jeans. Her face was set in an exasperated expression. "I've been looking for you everywhere!" she exclaimed, "You'd just wandered off!"
"I tend to do that sometimes," Rachel's Muse admitted. "Sorry."
"It's okay. Who've you got here?" she asked, turning to Mary's Muse.
"Muse of a woman named Mary," Mary's Muse introduced, "mostly sticks to poetry and short stories though." She stuck out her hand for the newcomer to shake. "I'm thinking I may get her engaged in fanfiction though, you sure know how to have fun."
The newcomer grinned. "Yeah, I've been in the fanfiction world for a while. We're pretty rowdy." She jerked her head at the two girls who had both lost any semblance of an argument and were now just insulting each other.
"Who's your writer?" the American asked interestedly.
"A Uni student named Sharon." Sharon's Muse grinned. "She was writing Harry Potter fanfiction for a few years a while back, but then got out of it. I was just biding my time here until she needed me. And then this wonderful muse here," Sharon's Muse nudged the Asian girl in the shoulder playfully, "brought her back! Now I'm writing full time again."
"I know," Sharon's Muse said happily, "Well, not full time," she said, and scowled. "Sharon's supposed to do her laundry and study for exams, so I thought I'd give her a break and let her carry on with her studies. I'll be back down there in no time though to give her some more inspiration when summer comes."
"That's good of you," Mary's Muse said.
"Oi! Sharon's Muse, I haven't seen you in a while!" a female twenty-something year old called reproachfully as she made her way over to the group of them.
Mary's Muse noticed that the bulk of the crowd had wandered off while they were talking. It seemed the fight was over, as she could just make out in the distance the forms of the two girls being forcefully restrained by two other muses. She chuckled to herself as she turned back to the conversation in front of her.
"Hi!" Sharon's Muse beckoned her over. "Yeah, Sharon's been writing again, so I finally ditched this place for a bit."
Rachel's Muse eyes grew wide and mouth fell open as she took in the slight, blonde woman approaching them. "Are you Bee's Muse?" she asked in a quiet voice.
"Yeah," Bee's Muse said, sticking out her hand.
Rachel's Muse shook it in awe.
"It's good you're here and all so we can catch up, but shouldn't you be helping Bee?" Sharon's Muse asked reproachfully.
"She's having apartment troubles," Bee's Muse confided, "Living in Manhattan is rough. On top of that, she suspects her boyfriend is having commitment issues," She sighed. "Bee all but kicked me out a week or so ago, so I decided to stay up here a while until she cools down."
Sharon nodded in sympathy. "Do you think she's going to miss her two month deadline?"
Bee's Muse frowned. "I don't know. I just don't know."
Sharon's Muse must've realized this was a sensitive topic for Bee's Muse because she quickly changed the subject. "This here is Mary's Muse," she indicated Mary's Muse standing next to her, "And she's thinking of starting fanfiction writing."
"Oh fabulous," Bee's Muse said, smiling, "I hope you do! We're a really close bunch, and I think you'll love it."
"Be sure to check out all generations. I prefer second gen," Rachel's Muse confided. "You know, mostly Rose and Scorpius themed stuff. Sharon's Muse and Bee's Muse," she spared an awestruck at the blonde out of the corner of her eye, "mostly stick to Lily and James romances. Golden Trio's also not a bad place to start either."
"If you're just beginning, Bee's Muse here, is possibly the best person you could talk to," Sharon's Muse told Mary's Muse, "Her novel length fanfiction is possibly one of the most successful stories out there."
"I wouldn't say that," Bee's Muse interjected embarrassedly.
"Oh yes it is! Rachel reads it every time she wants a laugh or for me to wake up from my nap and help her out," Rachel's Muse said quietly.
"We'll leave you two alone then, shall we?" Sharon's Muse said as she steered the Asian girl away, "Be seeing you soon," she called over her shoulder.
Mary's Muse turned to the New Yorker. "Has Mary read Harry Potter? Because our conversation is going to go nowhere if you want to write for a different fandom."
"Oh she has," Mary's Muse assured her. "I'm sure she needs to read the books again for a refresher, but I think she liked it well enough."
"Oh, brill," Bee's Muse gushed. And then she was off. She explained all about those foreign terms that Mary's Muse had only heard in passing during that argument –Mary Sues, Alternate Universes, the unpardonable crime of being Out Of Character and even what the hell Smut was. Bee's Muse even gave her some helpful hints, like to make sure Mary was alone if she ever attempted smut, "because excessive giggling is absolutely unavoidable when writing about the you-know-what going you-know-where."
Just as Bee's Muse was explaining the finer points of fanfiction writing, a middle aged woman, appeared at Mary's Muse's elbow. She was wearing a black tee-shirt that said, And then Buffy Staked Edward. THE END, in big letters across the chest. "Sorry," she said politely, "But have you seen? Joss's Muse? I heard he was up here somewhere... Ever since Dollhouse went downhill he's been popping in and out of here a lot. I've been hoping since forever to get a sight of him."
Bee's Muse looked totally bewildered.
Mary's Muse shook her head sadly. "Who?" she asked, her interest piqued.
This new muse looked positively scandalized. "You don't know who Joss's Muse is? He's only the most inventive, creative-"
"Those are synonyms," Bee's Muse pointed out.
The other muse rolled her eyes. "No matter, he's simply amazing. I mean, the things he comes up with..." she drifted off. "First Firefly, that was a cruel, cruel fate, and then Dollhouse. Poor Joss's Muse, he's been going through a rough time."
"I'm sorry, I haven't seen him," Mary's Muse said unhelpfully.
The muse looked slightly put out. "Okay," she said, "Well, I'll just do another round of the Buffyverse fanfiction area, shall I?" And off she went.
"Bee's Muse! When are we getting that next chapter? My writer Jenny's getting antsy!" a voice called from a ways off.
"Think you've got that all?" Bee's Muse asked as she shot a concerned glance over her shoulder.
Mary's Muse nodded and said, "Go on then, I think I can make it on my own."
"Brill," Bee's Muse said again as she walked away. "Good luck!"
Mary's Muse sighed and tried to remember everything that Bee's Muse had said to her; it had been a lot to process. Original Characters, Alternate Universes, Shippers... endless amounts of new information. She sighed as she tried to recall the entire conversation, but she felt like the details were slipping out of her fingers like water. Still, she figured, Mary would have to learn all this herself in a bit; her muse only needed to be one step ahead of the game, anyway.
"Hi!" someone said from behind her.
Mary's Muse turned to greet the muse of what seemed to be a twelve-year-old girl. "Hello," she returned.
"I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm taking a poll," said the redheaded girl matter-of-factly. "Are you Team Jacob or Team Edward?"
"Sorry?" Mary's Muse asked, quite puzzled as to what the girl was talking about.
The girl huffed in annoyance. "Team Jacob or Team Edward, lady," she said hurriedly, casting a glance over her shoulder. When Mary's Muse continued to look confused, she elaborated in a bored voice, "Do you support the hunky, hot werewolf or the abstinence promoting, misogynist vampire?"
"Er, could you repeat that?" Mary's Muse asked tentatively.
"Oi! Jessica's Muse, I heard that!" a young girl, about the same age as Jessica's Muse, with shoulder length dirty blonde hair said angrily as she appeared at the redhead's shoulder. "You're biasing the population of our poll!"
Jessica's Muse rolled her eyes. "Please, it's not there are a vast amount of Team Edward-"
"Yes there are!" the blonde interjected. "Just because you're in denial, it doesn't mean you can go influencing everyone else!"
Jessica's Muse made a "pfft!" sound, but otherwise said nothing.
"So, ma'am, are you in favor of Team Edward or Team Jacob?" the new muse asked, scowling at Jessica's Muse who was pouting next to her.
"What is this for?" asked Mary's Muse, running a hand through her hair.
"I think my writer Stacy should go in another direction, but I want to know that she'll get support from other writer's out there," Stacy's Muse explained patiently. "So I decided to take a poll, although, it is against my better judgment. I'm Team Edward all the way."
"I'm sorry, for which fandom is this?" Mary's Muse asked, looking from one muse to another.
The redhead stared at her unabashedly.
"Twilight," Stacy's Muse said, looking at her strangely. "I take it you're not from around here?"
"Nope," Mary's Muse said with a twinge of regret. "But I want to, and I've just been conversing with a couple of nice people from Harry Potter fanfiction. They seemed nice enough."
"Be sure to take a peek at Twilight fanfiction, if you're looking to get into the swing of things," Jessica's Muse inserted. "Jacob's way hotter than Harry Potter, any day."
Although it seemed to concern a character named Jacob that Stacy's Muse disliked, she nodded along with Jessica's observation. "Although, Edward's still hotter than Jacob," she said quietly.
Jessica's Muse rounded on her at once. "He is so not! Jacob is gorgeous. Plus he's about fifty degrees hotter than Edward."
Stacy's Muse rolled her eyes. "Please, I didn't mean literally."
"Obviously," Jessica's Muse said in a snooty voice, "But I thought that the figurative was already an unspoken rule."
Stacy stared at her as if she had grown two heads. "Honestly, you're my friend and all, but how can you be so blind? Stephenie Meyer has about three dozen wonderful adjectives for Edward's bronze hair, golden eyes…" she drifted off dreamily.
Jessica's Muse scowled. "But-"
At her words, Stacy's Muse continued on hurriedly, "Still, she waxes on poetic about Edward's beautiful face for dozens of pages. And what about Jacob? Oh, he's got muscles."
Jessica's Muse looked positively scandalized. "He's got more than that!"
"Oh yeah? Like what?" asked Stacy's Muse scornfully.
"How about a personality?" the redhead said heatedly.
"And Edward doesn't?" demanded Stacy's Muse with raised eyebrows.
"No! He doesn't! He's a misogynistic pretty boy who is overprotective to the point of nearly stalking Bella."
"He's not-" Stacy's Muse said, eyes narrowing.
"Plus, Jacob's got a motorcycle," Jessica's Muse said as if that ended the argument.
"So does Edward!" the blond supplied instantly.
"Puh-lease," Jessica's Muse said dismissively. "Jacob's motorcycle is way cooler. It's all broken down and stuff which makes him more relatable to Bella."
"Relatable my ass. She chose Edward, end of story."
Mary's Muse quietly shuffled away from the two arguing girls, laughing to herself as she overheard a few more snippets from their heated argument.
Oh yes, Mary would have no idea what her muse had in store for her come next time she found herself next to her computer.
A/N: Like it? Hate it? Feel free to say so in a review!
And yes, I did put myself with my real name in there. Can you find me? :)