Title: Killing the Fandom
Disclaimer: 'Supernatural' was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is intended with this work of fan fiction.
Notes: 'I Walk The Line' is by Johnny Cash. Thank you for the kind comments!
When the invitation had come bright and early, Gwen had held on to a chance that Becky had been changed by her experience the night before and insisted they attend the meeting. Her hope had been dashed on jagged rocks, however, then beaten a bit more for good measure, a dead horse that was now decomposing.
Sam and Dean both burst out laughing the second the elevator doors closed behind them, great big belly laughs that rang about the enclosed space.
Sometimes being eternally optimistic was terrific fodder for jokes from those she loved.
Gwen shook a finger at the door. "That woman is off her rocker."
"May I present to you both," Sam put his arm around her, "my wife, Pollyanna. Her optimism is so cute sometimes, like a little fuzzy kitten."
"Not funny," she snapped. "Did she really think she had a chance with you?"
His grin was wide. "She once said something to me about our love burning hot and fast like a sun, then broke up with me from our non-existent relationship."
"She's mental. Needs happiness like air? Oh my, God!"
Jo grinned at that.
Gwen shook her head. "Baby shower? Baby gift? No, no. We are not friends. She feels like we all are, but we're not. She's not getting anywhere near our baby if I have any say in it. She's some psycho stalker who -"
With another snicker, Sam asked, "Didn't I tell you that was how that would go, but no, you thought we should have a nice conversation with her, see what she wanted."
"Not the point."
"Definitely the point," Dean muttered. "See, this," he pointed at the elevator door, "that is our objection to fandom right there in a nutshell."
"And she is a nut." Gwen was starting to see the humor. Slightly.
"Lives in her own little world," Dean confirmed.
"Look, Gwen," Sam turned her, hands on her arms, "Becky is…Becky. Like she said, she's my fan for life and there's no getting away from her. Some day, she's going to pop up again where we least expect her, with the same old schtick."
"I will shoot her," Gwen promised with a quick finger 'x' across her heart. "She memorized your smell. That is completely creepy."
The elevator door opened and they filed out, moving back to their suite for a final meeting with Chuck before they headed for home.
"Not arguing." Jo opened the door. "That's a ton of creepy."
At their door, they found not Chuck, but Marissa waiting.
Marissa grinned and waved. "Hi, bestie!"
Bestie? Gwen hoped that word wasn't making a comeback. She'd found it stupid when she'd first heard it and it was no less stupid now.
Jo grasped Gwen's arm, dragging her to a stop, and looked all around them before leaning in to ask, "Is she talking to me?"
"She's sure as hell not talking to me." Really, Jo should have thought about the sort of impression she was making with Marissa, tolerating her following her around and all. This was the natural conclusion of that.
Marissa bounced up and down on the balls of her feet, still waving.
Dean and Sam both held up their hands with expressions of complete cluelessness.
Jo took a few steps towards her. "Marissa. Hi. What're you doing here?"
"I'm leaving today and I realized I, like, forgot to get your number so we can keep in touch! I was packing and I thought, man, Rissa, you're such a ditz, completely forgetting to get your new bestie's number and all. Beth, I love that I can call you bestie! And I love having met all of you. Beth, Gwen, Keith, and Dane."
Beth? Dane? Keith, Gwen remembered was her fault. She'd told Marissa that was Sam's real name. But Beth and Dane? Had Jo given those names or was it Dean's contribution?
Marissa grinned even wider. "Isn't it great to have a bestie that, like, completely gets you? I am so lucky to have met you. I knew coming to this con was going to totally change my life. I've met so many new friends, like you. Cool friends, not like the people I know back home." She pulled out a cell phone. "What's your number? I can't wait to get wardrobe advice for my next Jo event, like you promised last night. I'll text you pictures -"
"Last night?" Jo blinked, frowned, then seemed to understand what Marissa meant, eyes widening. "Marissa, I was pretending. It was all in fun, like with Molly -"
"What do you think about branching out from the books? I mean, her wardrobe isn't huge, and, like, every girl wears the same things, but you do great in other clothes, so do you think I could too? It's, like, the whole sort of look that's important, isn't it? The boots, the cute little jacket. And attitude. The attitude has got to, like, be there." She glanced up, brows raising. "Number?"
Jo rattled off a number, a shell-shocked expression on her face. It was even a real number, though not to the cell phone she used all the time. It was an extra phone she had for one of her aliases.
"Ooh, do you live in South Dakota, too? That's the area code, right?"
"That's so cool! We could, like, get together and coordinate appearances! Which part do you live in?"
"I'll give you my number. We can exchange full addresses and email though text later." When she made no effort to take out her phone, Marissa cleared her throat. "Beth. Phone? Number? Man, you must really be hung over this morning. You and Dane were tossing back those shots like water."
Not enough for either to actually be hung over though.
"Right." Jo pulled her phone from her pocket. Marissa moved in close, giving her the number, watching to make sure Jo put it in right, then having her repeat it several times.
"Great. I can't wait, bestie! Oh my, God, we're gonna have so much fun at the next con! Maybe we can go see 'Route 666' together!"
By the time Marissa finally headed on her way, Jo was looking very much like she might reach for the whiskey for lunch again. They went inside, Jo muttering all the while.
"I was pretending. I never meant any of that. Is she serious? Bestie?"
"What did you say to her last night, Jo," Gwen asked, but Jo apparently didn't hear her.
"That's the most God-awful word I've ever heard. I'm not her bestie and never will be. If I'm anyone's bestie, I'm Gwen's. I am deleting that girl's number." Jo whirled and pointed at Dean. "You better not have paid her like you did the other one."
"Nope. She's just naturally that annoying."
There was a knock on the door and Sam moved to open it.
"Good, because if I find out you -"
"Hey guys," Chuck came in, Sam closing the door behind him. "What's -"
"Here's the deal." Jo grabbed Chuck's shirt and pulled him close. "I've been thinking and if you ever publish the section after Castiel finds me and tells them, I'll personally hunt you down and kill you."
"Uh…Jo…okay, what happened," he asked. "Ease up…strangling…"
"I won't do it slowly, Chuck, not like Dean and Sam would. I'll make it hurt as much as possible. In fact, I suggest you leave me and mom dead and find a way to kill off Gwen, too."
"But…that's not what happens. I'd have to make stuff up and that's hard."
"Make it happen." She shoved him back.
"Dean, Sam, talk to her or something. Explain to her. I suck as a regular writer. I can't do it. I have no skills for anything."
Dean smirked. "Sure, Chuck." He cleared his throat. "Jo, honey, calm down. It's just a little fandom thing."
Gwen stifled a snicker, as that was what Jo had told Dean the first few hours.
Transferring her irritated stare his way, Jo raised a hand and extended her middle finger in the classic 'screw you' gesture.
He shook a finger at her. "Now, now. That's not ladylike."
"But oh so Jo," Sam added. He'd mellowed fast since Becky had apologized - and they were going home.
Jo raised her other hand and shot the same gesture at Sam. "You two suck. Screw you both."
"Didn't we tell you?" Dean crossed his arms. "Huh?"
Her lips moved and she rolled her eyes, saying a few silent words better left silent before smiling sweetly. "You were right."
He cupped a hand to one ear and looked around. "Everyone hear that? She says I'm right."
"I wouldn't push your luck," Gwen told him.
"You were right, okay? Fandom sucks. They're all annoying."
"So…." Chuck raised a hand to get their attention. "We were going to talk about how far I can publish. You said I could…implied, really…not outright said earlier…. Can I go ahead and publish up to Sam getting his soul back?"
"No." Sam shook his head, noticed Gwen watching him and sighed. "But I suppose, since it's long past, you can publish up to where I go to hell and Dean goes to Lisa."
Dean blinked. "He what? When did we decide that, Sam? I didn't decide that. Who decided that? You making decisions for both of us now? We didn't talk about that. What we talked about was him finishing this fleshing out business and stopping before getting to the apocalypse story and leaving me in hell where he already ended it."
"What's your problem with the apocalypse storyline and Sam in hell," Gwen asked. "It'll avoid the entire Sam being soulless plot, right?"
"Yeah." He nodded. "But it'll leave me with Lisa. I have a wife. She's not it and if he ends it there, people will think I stayed with that crazy bitch."
"They won't know she's two-faced and manipulative." Gwen tried to smooth it over.
He squared his jaw. "Jo's my wife, not her. He's not leaving it there."
"So I can publish up to when you and Jo get married?" Chuck crossed his arms, beginning to look confused. Gwen didn't blame him. It wasn't becoming any clearer just what he could publish.
"No." Jo snorted. "Did you think I was kidding with the whole torture you to death thing? I'm a private investigator now, Chuck. I have even more ways to find you than I did before."
"Leave it with Lucifer getting free," Sam suggested with a shrug.
"That's not the way to end the series - in the worst possible place." Sitting down, Gwen put her feet up. "Talk about a big downer."
"Like Dean going to hell wasn't a downer?"
Dean nodded. "How about instead of just Sam falling in the pit, I do, too. The end."
Chuck shook his head. "No. That's not what happened and fans would lynch me with that ending."
Dropping down onto the couch beside Gwen, Dean put one foot on the table. "Personally, I'm all for the 'Chuck stops publishing immediately' option. Who's with me?"
"I can't do that," Chuck protested.
"Or," Dean smiled, "how about we go with my original idea of Chuck finishing the fleshing and stopping?"
"I told you before." Chuck groaned. "I'm under contract and if I break it, I have to return the money and I don't have the money to return. I have to get into the apocalypse storyline. It's in the contract. The apocalypse has to happen, Dean. There have to be angels and the whole shebang."
Jo sat beside Dean and laid an arm across his shoulders. "He ends it with Sam falling into the pit containing Lucifer and you, Dean, going to Lisa with the thought of trying to build a life somehow without Sam."
"No." Dean shook his head now, stubborn in what he wanted. "No. Sam came back and I left. It didn't work with Lisa and that's a sucky place to leave it."
Chuck made a noise of frustration in the back of his throat. "What do you want me to do here, Dean? You won't have it one way, Jo won't have it another, Sam won't have it yet another and…. You got objections, Gwen?"
Jo grasped Dean's hand. "Sweetheart, it's a good place to leave it."
"How," he asked. "How is it a good place?"
"You all save the world. You two, Cas, and Bobby. Granted, Cas comes back, raises Bobby, and heals you, but you're still heroes. Fans can imagine anything they want after that. We know the full story. All they need to know is the two men they've been following saved the world together in the end. It wasn't easy or pretty, yet they were united in the end. Whatever rift had been between them was gone."
Sam gave his consent with a nod, though he was still obviously unhappy about letting him publish anything.
"Gwen," Dean asked.
"What do you think?"
What did she think? She considered the question before speaking. "I think Jo makes a good point. It'll end the book series on the importance of the family Sam and Dean as characters are to each other. I mean, from talking to some of the fans, that's what they seem to connect with most. The family aspect."
"You have no trouble keeping it all nice and separated in your head, do you?"
"No," she admitted, because it had been true thus far. She thought of Chuck's writings as fictional stories about fictional characters that just happened to coincide with reality. "Though I might not be as objective if it was me girls were following around like Jo's had to deal with…or if Becky puts in another appearance. I was not kidding about shooting her. I will do it, so keep her away from me. Whatever Chuck does, I'm with Jo. Kill me off or something, Chuck, if you ever do publish the later books, because if you don't, the ones who guess the truth will never leave our kids alone."
"You mean Becky," Chuck guessed.
"She already knows. What I mean are others like her that may become obsessed in the future. Our kids need privacy. They don't need to grow up with the fandom all over them. The less who have any idea that we have kids the better. We, as adults, can handle this. Our kids shouldn't have to. We don't need Becky two-point-o trying to find our kids because they were in the books."
He studied her a moment. "Okay. That makes total sense. Like celebrities keeping paparazzi from their kids. I'll publish to the end of the apocalypse storyline, okay? Can I end it with a figure outside watching Dean with Lisa and Ben and the streetlight blowing out? Fans can imagine anything then. They can think Sam got free and was on his way to tell Dean or that some new creature was going to show up."
Sam was startled by that, but didn't say anything. Gwen wondered why. Chuck said it like it was his own embellishment to give fans hope of more.
"I guess." Dean sounded tired of the entire subject. "I'd just as soon you stop publishing immediately, but if we have to pick a point then I suppose that one will do."
They all agreed. The end of the apocalypse would end the book series. It would all be tied up neatly and Chuck could finish out his contract. Gwen thought Chuck would be lucky if he published that many books. She didn't think he'd get even halfway through the apocalypse storyline, not with his sort of writing style.
"Thanks, guys. You don't know how relieved I am by this. I'm indebted to you. Really."
"Don't think we're getting soft, because we're not," Dean warned him. "Publish, but no more conventions."
"I have no control over the conventions. They're a fan thing really. You'd have to talk to Becky about that."
Which none of them wanted to do.
"Okay. No more movies then." Sam slid his hands in his pockets. "I don't care how good Dave and Darrin are -"
"And that clip, I must say, was sort of, maybe, a little, tiny bit awesome," Dean interrupted.
"No more movies." Sam cocked his head. "Got us?"
Chuck scratched a finger along his jaw. "What about a tv series? Because this woman approached my agent and I guess there's some small network that's interested in the rights or something -"
"No," Sam and Dean said together.
"Not live action, not Saturday morning cartoon." Dean's voice was gruff.
"No," all four said in unison.
Chuck held up his hands. "Okay. Just asking."
He left soon after that and they gathered their things. With a last glance about the suite, they left, too. Gwen was glad to be putting the convention behind them. While she'd enjoyed herself, one brush with this was enough.
Dean paused in putting their luggage in the trunk, glancing at Sam beside him. "We do the right thing by letting him continue?"
"I don't know," Sam admitted. "Kind of feels like the right thing, though I hate the thought of the books being published. I mean, it really would bring everything full circle, close a ton of plotlines…." He half laughed. "Man, I sound like Gwen."
"Maybe she's got the healthiest view of it between all of us, looking at it like it really is all just books."
"She's not in it though. Not yet, anyway. Not really. All she got was a small taste. It's easy to be that way until you're sucked in, as Jo found out."
"Not yet? You think Chuck won't stop?"
"I think we should keep an eye on it, make sure he doesn't publish after that point." He rearranged a couple items.
Yeah, he had the feeling Chuck would publish as fast as he could and push the envelope, too. Chuck was getting bolder the longer they knew him, even like he was humoring them at times and didn't really fear them. Sometimes, it was like he wasn't even Chuck at all, but another person entirely. Dean thought Chuck didn't believe they'd really hurt him. Underneath, Dean realized right then, they wouldn't hurt him.
Jo, however….. Jo would hurt him. Her threat wasn't an idle one. She meant every word.
"You know what I don't get?" Sam glanced at him. "He publishes all these books, says they gave him a lot of money, but what happened to it? Where's the money? He doesn't gamble or live with any extravagance."
"Don't know. Maybe he's got a hooker habit or something. They can be kind of expensive."
Sam smacked his arm and pointed. "Look at that."
Down the row on his left, Rose was getting into a car with Dave and his bodyguard. Dave paused before getting in himself, saluting them with two fingers. "Good for them. Go get 'er, Dave."
At the mixer, he and Jo had talked with Dave and Chris, assured them that Kate had been persuaded by the police to leave, and gotten contact numbers. Dave had even made noises about them visiting him when they were in town next.
Maybe Dean and Jo would take him up on it. He knew Sam wouldn't be interested and Gwen would be bored, but maybe he and Jo could get in a vacation if they had a person to visit.
Probably not, but it was nice to think that.
Dean smiled a little and shut the trunk. "Let's get home. Jobs won't wait forever."
The green lights were with them, traffic was strangely light, and the ride home went smoother than it should have for the trouble they'd dealt with. He felt peaceful about Chuck publishing the manuscripts up to the point they'd determined, though there was a tiny quiver of misgiving over Jo's threat to Chuck.
He dismissed that quiver.
There was no way the fandom would last long enough for Chuck to reach Sam going to hell. No way at all. They were never going to have to worry about the manuscripts that came after that point.
Epilogue, seven years later:
Chuck Shurley paced in front of his workspace. It was time to decide. Did he continue publishing or not? His investors wanted him to go on, fans kept sending him letters about the arc, half good and half bad, and his editor had gone into mourning when she'd read the ending, trying to convince him to make it happy, with Sam and Dean alive and well.
He'd gotten hate mail from Sam fans over the Sam-Ruby arc and more hate mail from Jo and Ellen fans over Abandon All Hope and knew if he continued with what he had already written that they'd change their tune. Fans were fickle that way.
But…. If he continued, Jo would kill him. He fully believed it, more so than he'd ever thought Sam and Dean would kill him. He received twice a year notes from her reminding him of that. The last one had even had a smiley at the bottom by her signature and one of the ones before had had a picture drawn by Jack of what Chuck thought was his death at Jo's hands. It was certainly a picture of 'mom' killing someone or some thing (it was labeled with that word). The fact that Jo had sent it indicated that someone was him. Maybe there was a slim chance that she as just proud of that drawing, but he didn't think so.
So what did he do?
"Guidance would be good right now," he said to thin air, but there was no answer.
How did he make up stories for them? He already knew he sucked at doing it himself, yet he liked living. He wasn't going to be going back up to visit with the other prophets for awhile longer and had to live on something. Maybe he shouldn't have kept calling Mistress Magda. Those minutes added up fast. He'd probably solely funded her early retirement.
Would it be a bad thing to leave the manuscripts, the gospel, unpublished and branch out?
He sat and began looking through manuscripts from before Castiel found Jo. What if Sam and Dean hadn't killed all the dragons? What if the dragons had succeeded in raising Mother? He went back earlier. What if Crowley….
Ideas swirled in his mind. Chuck didn't think they were particularly good ideas, but they'd pacify the Winchesters if they looked at the stories. He tapped a pen against his lips and began to write.
He'd have Castiel become corrupted trying to stop Raphael, have Mother raised, maybe have Samuel, Gwen and even Rufus killed off. That'd up the stakes for Sam and Dean, right? Plus, it'd remove Gwen like she'd wanted. He'd work in Balthazar, give Ellen and Jo fans something without it being enough to piss off Jo, do a Back To The Future thing (Dean would approve of that at least), and writing all of that should give him time to come up with some sort of bad creature for them to go up against next. Something Biblical because Mother was currently languishing in Purgatory. Had to be something really nasty since they'd beaten Lucifer and stopped the apocalypse and how could he top that? Oh, and he'd resolve the Lisa and Ben plot somehow. He wasn't good at romance, but he'd give it a try. And Sam's memories from hell would need to be resolved.
It was a lot of plot and Chuck faltered in his outline writing, slightly daunted by the task. It was easier with visions. This writing stuff was hard. Plots didn't just come to him. He had to really work for them and wasn't confident he could pull it all off.
Some of the pieces of the finished manuscripts he could use, mostly the first few. He'd have to add in a some things to make them fit his proposal.
"Interesting method of protecting them and their children."
He gasped as Castiel's voice, dry and slightly amused, sounded beside him. He looked up to find Castiel was reading over his shoulder. "Cas. Hey. Hi."
"Hello." He picked up one page of the outline, read it, and glanced at him. "You realize Meg kissed me? I never kissed her. Nor did I sit and watch porn or mention anything about a pizza man."
"Yeah, of course, but I can make this work, Cas. See…." He shifted papers around to display his outline from the beginning. "I'll slowly work everyone they care about out of the plot so it's just them again -"
"By changing the characters."
"By changing the plot. Fans talk AU all the time. If they can write it, so can I."
Castiel set the paper down, crossed his arms, and half sat on the table. "Chuck. You're a terrible writer. On your own, you can barely put together a single plot thread, let alone a coherent continuing storyline throughout multiple books."
Another sigh escaped him. "I know. I hate to leave it there, though, with Sam gone and Dean a broken mess. Feels unfinished because I know it's not finished. But I can't write Jo and Ellen returning because Jo will kill me and I can't write Gwen's part in it all because I'm pretty sure she'll kill me, too. I can't. I believe Jo when she said she'd kill me and I don't want Jack, Sean, and Allie to have to deal with the fans. Have you seen Jo when she's protecting their kids? She's scary."
"It's not your call to make. You were given the words for a reason. Your personal feelings can't enter into it. Do your job."
He neatened the stack of papers, only half listening to Castiel, thinking about an idea he'd come up with. "What do you know about Leviathans?"
"They're mean, nasty, single-minded, and would cover the earth and destroy it if they were ever released from Purgatory."
"So…good villain then?"
Castiel laid a hand on his shoulder. "Rethink this idea, Chuck." He disappeared.
"Sure. Thanks for the non-existent guidance as usual, Cas." Big lot of help he'd been in the advice arena. He'd been rethinking it and kept returning to the whole Jo killing him part. He was rather afraid of her.
In the background, from the radio he'd had on, came Johnny Cash's voice. "…I keep my eyes wide open all the time. I keep the ends out for the tie that binds. Because you're mine, I walk the line…"
"I can do this," Chuck whispered. "I'm a writer. Think of them as just characters."
Over the next three weeks, as he polished the outline for his new, several book arc, Abigael, Balthazar, Uzziel, and even Lachesis popped in to peruse it. Balthazar hated it because he got killed off. Honestly, Chuck didn't think it was a big loss. Balthazar was sort of a jerk. Still, he had him going out helping the Winchesters and trying to do the right thing so he didn't see why the angel was complaining. He got good ally points in the end.
Abigael liked the idea of it as protection for the children, but informed him that it was her job and he shouldn't try to do her job. He was a Prophet, not a Guardian and those were two different things. He should do his job as he'd been doing it. Publish the words he'd been given.
Of course Chuck knew that, but she wasn't the one Jo would kill now was she?
Uzziel was disappointed he wasn't even in it, nor was the big battle in heaven where Raphael was defeated, or the plans he and Castiel had implemented in heaven. He said publishing the proposed plot was a bad idea and that maybe Chuck should just use the completed manuscripts.
She'd read it, smiled, touched his cheek, and said, "Oh, Chuck. Bad idea. Perfectly good manuscripts already written."
Chuck wondered if he'd ever get any actual guidance that didn't mean Jo would kill him, turned in his outline, and got started. He had a lot of solo writing to work out.
God watched Chuck willfully ignore the guidance he'd sent him over and over and began to make arrangements. Did Chuck not remember Moses and Jonah? This was going to be somewhat like the Nineveh incident….