"Hey! Watch where you're going!" a large man snapped as Iris ran into him.
"Oops, sorry!" she apologized sincerely. The man only continued to give her a dirty look, sneering down his nose at her.
"These stupid millennials and their phones!" he muttered under his breath, then he was gone as quickly as he had come.
"I said I was sorry," Iris muttered under her breath as well, but someone still heard her. That someone was her girlfriend, Storm. The two of them were out at the store, grocery shopping. Or rather, Storm was shopping. Iris was intently reading her phone.
"You know, he has a point," the woman said. "You've been on that stupid thing all morning! I've hardly even seen your face because its been glued to your screen! You should put your phone down at least a little and actually live! Do something productive!" she insisted.
"Oh, shut up Storm," Iris grunted. "Just because you aren't into social media doesn't mean you need to scorn or shame those who are! I am living. If you saw it the way I did, you'd understand that social media does open a person up. Think about all the people and info I have at my fingertips. How can you say I'm not being productive or living? I've seen and met more people on this little device than I have anywhere else in this world," the girl shook her phone insistently.
"Alright, alright, Triggered Millennial. There's no need to get so defensive," Storm taunted, leaning against the shopping cart she had.
"First off, you know full well I only get triggered when you call me triggered," Iris began in irritation, Storm's attempts to get under her skin starting to work. "Second off, you know I don't like using that term just because it really is supposed to be a medical term reserved for those who have legitimate triggers, not just something that ticks them off."
"Hmm, that is true," Storm said thoughtfully.
"Yeah, and it was something I read off the internet," Iris waved her phone with a smirk. "Someone pointed out how it might not be appropriate to use a medical term in such casual and satirical conversation in case it devalued the actual thing, something I would've never even considered without, you guessed it, the internet!"
"But then again, that term might not have even became part of the mainstream without social media," Storm pointed out.
"Oh, whatever," Iris grunted. "Besides, I wasn't even on a social media site this time. I was on a fanfiction site. There's a really good story out!"
"Wait! Fanfiction? You read fanfiction?" Storm scoffed, laughing in disdain.
"I write it too," Iris defended with a calm shrug. She was used to people mocking her when she confessed to being a fanfiction fan. Having to defend her passion was an old battle and she was getting less and less hurt by remarks like this, even from her lover.
"Seriously? You actually write that fake, wannabe, cash-grab trash?" Storm shook her head. "That isn't real literature."
"Sure it is," Iris argued, overlooking Storm's cruel remark about fanfiction. "You're right that there are some crappy, poorly-written stories out there, but most of them are really good. They're all done out of passion and they're all done for free. There's nothing wannabe or cash-grabbing about fanfiction. I don't think many authors are in it for the publicity and certainly no one is in it for pay. Would any other author be willing to do what a fanfiction writer does? I think not!" the tiny brunette said passionately.
"Well, ok, so you got me there. Fanfiction is free where real literature is not," Storm allowed. "But fanfiction is amateur stuff!"
"Perhaps anyone is able to post," Iris agreed. "But there are a lot of really, genuinely amazing stories out there! They have good plots, realistic development, stellar grammar, etc. Often, fanfiction writers are passionate about what they do and, thusly, try to do their best every single time. That means lots of editing and refining, even if there are still mistakes in the end. It's not as rookie as you think. People put a lot of time and effort into their works and it shows, both in what occurs in the story and how grammatically correct it's formatted."
"Ok, ok," Storm allowed again.
"But that's why fanfiction is so amazing!" Iris continued. "I love fanfiction because it's so full of that love and passion and it's a chance for people with a common interest to unite and talk about that interest. Fanfiction can give you so many new perspectives and scenarios for your favorite already-existing stories to go through, even when the credits have rolled or the book has closed or the curtains have fallen!"
"Well, what fanfiction is it?" Storm asked finally. She was still a bit skeptical about the academic legitimacy of fanfiction, but as Iris explained how it built lasting friendships and skills as a writer/communicator and thinker, she relented a little. After all, wasn't the only difference between fanfiction and "real literature" where it was posted? Because a lot of real literature was fanfiction. Think about every story based around religion, like Dante's Inferno, or any story set with the Civil War as a backdrop, like Gone with the Wind, or books like Wicked which took a preexisting story and rewrote it a little. Maybe fanfiction wasn't as dumb as it seemed.
"It's a Twilight fanfiction," Iris gave her phone to Storm.
"Oh, nope, nope, nope!" Storm grunted. Ok, so she could call fanfictions like the aforementioned three Real Literature, but she was so not going to call any stupid little internet fever dream from a teen-girl about a sparkly vampire Real Literature. She pushed the cart away from Iris.
"Hey, this is one of the good ones!" Iris defended, chasing after Storm. "Besides, you already know I'm Twilight fan!" she added.
This was another thing she had great skill in defending because Twilight, like fanfiction, often received a lot of scorn. Iris was willing to agree that some of the scorn was warranted, especially in regard to the less-than-healthy relationship between the leads, but other things seemed kind of petty and stupid. Sure, glittering vampires was a bit ridiculous, but that was something Iris was willing to overlook. Even if one didn't like the Twilight storyline, the Twilight world was quite interesting. Iris felt that a lot of people would like Twilight more if there were less Edward and Bella, ironic as that seemed.
"Good ones? Twilight was a piece of trash! How can anything better come from it?" Storm sneered.
"You haven't even read the books or seen the movies. How can you be so sure it's crap?" Iris challenged.
"Because so many others have already told me horror stories about it," Storm replied with a disgusted face.
"But just because the Majority says something doesn't mean they're right," Iris reminded. "Besides, Storm, you are a self-proclaimed lone-wolf. When have you ever taken the opinion of the Majority without at least a little scrutiny?"
"Point taken," Storm grunted. Iris was right about Storm being infamous for questioning authority and the Majority, so it was almost out of character for her to judge a book before reading it herself, even if she would still hate it after she read it.
"Here, just skim a few paragraphs," Iris handed Storm the phone again as she returned to the first chapter. Storm gave Iris a wary look, but she obliged, pulling the cart over to the end of the aisle and reading.
A few hours later, Storm was scowling at the TV screen.
"Why in the name of anything would Bella choose one of those two losers?" she demanded as Edward and Jacob had their 326th fight over Bella. "That fanfiction was way, way better! Bella would be so much better off with Alice and then Edward and Jacob could go off and-"
"Told ya," Iris grinned. Just as suspected, Storm ended up getting just as hooked on the Twilight AU fanfiction as she had and had refused to give Iris back her phone until she finished the story. That meant Iris had to steal Storm's phone so that she could keep reading too. Both of them ended up running into several other people through the rest of their shopping trip, but neither of them cared at that point, too invested in the fanfiction.
Then, as soon as they got home, Storm agreed to marathon the Twilight films with Iris. They honestly weren't as bad as she'd feared, but there was still a crap ton of cringe in every single one, ranging from the stupid dialogue to the petty fights to the forced (physically and emotionally) romance between the cast and characters to the emotionless faces and voices, but Storm was in it for the story. She just wished there was less brooding and better actors and, as she told Iris, a different couple. The Twilight world was fine, but the story needed work. A lot of work.
"That fanfiction made it so credible and logical!" Storm continued to complain over Edward and Jacob. "Alice always looked after Bella when no one else would, including her knight in sparkling armor, and Edward and Jacob spend so much time bragging about who's hotter that they might as well just admit that they're gay!" the woman continued to rant against the movies and for the fanfiction she and Iris read.
"That's the beauty of fanfiction," Iris grinned. "You get to choose the character arcs for yourself, if the real one doesn't please you."
"Your darn right it doesn't!" Storm muttered.
After the marathon was done, Storm excused herself. Iris grinned, imaging that the woman was either going to go bleach her eyes or read some gay fanfictions to help her recover from the "aggressive heteronormativity" in the Twilight series. Iris understood where Storm was coming from, but she didn't think there was really anything wrong with having a story with all straight characters. Maybe in the future, there would be more Twilight spinoffs that would have queer characters, but until then, Iris could be patient and look to fanfiction for her representation. That was another plus to the online writing world. If the original canon didn't have good representation, someone would definitely pick up the slack online.
(One thing Iris always wondered about were trans vampires. Apparently, Twilight vampires had skin as hard as the diamonds they resembled, so surgery would be impossible. Would that mean a trans vampire would be stuck in the body of a gender they didn't identify with? Or would some vampire, maybe Dr. Carlisle, invent some medical/magical process that could help a trans vampire out? Or would it be possible for a vampire to change gender as it changed from human to vampire? Some fanfics had written that turning into a vampire revealed your truest and most inner soul, hence why vampire powers always reflected the traits said vampires had while still human. If that were the case, maybe a vampire's gender would change to match who they really were? Since there were no canon trans vampires, everything was up for debate.)
Iris ended up being wrong, though. Storm wasn't just reading Twilight fanfiction, she was writing it.
"Who are you, and what have you done with the real Storm?" Iris joked as she sauntered over to Storm, who was typing madly at her computer.
"Just writing a better ending to the saga where Alice hooks up with Bella," Storm grunted, all dignity forgotten in what she considered a personal attack to anyone with good taste. She was hunched over at her chair. Iris only laughed and shook her head, standing behind Storm.
"You know I write stories too," she said after a moment. "We should do something together, or cross-promote."
"Sure," Storm grunted. "But I'm only gonna review the gay stories you have."
"That's still like 80% of the stories I write," Iris deadpanned. "The other 15 % are non-romantic and then the last 5 % are straight."
"Ah, true," Storm acknowledged. "How many have you written so far?"
"Over 300," Iris replied.
"300?!" Storm bellowed, turning away from her screen.
"I have too much time on my hands!" Iris nodded serenely. Storm could only stare at her, mouth agape. 300?!
But once Storm finally managed to recover from that little shock, she managed to ask Iris for her fanfiction ID.
"What's your username?" she asked next as she finished up her story. Iris grinned in satisfaction.
"It's lrhaboggle," she said.
"It's what?" Storm turned away from her screen again.
"Don't ask. I was always told not to use any real info in my username," Iris said.
"Ah, makes sense," Storm nodded, turning back to her screen. She was just about to post her first fanfiction. Iris felt like a proud mother! Then, once it went up, Storm made sure to add a little shout out at the bottom of the screen:
Inspired off my fellow fanfiction author, lrhaboggle. Please check out lrhaboggle's stories and read and review! lrhaboggle has a lot of good gay stuff for you to sift through!
"Well, it's not a lie," Storm reasoned when Iris laughed at the last sentence.
"True. The fanfiction world as a whole seems pretty queer and into queer stuff," Iris admitted. "That's why I love it so much. It seems that, in some circles, the gay ships are far more numerous and popular than their canon straight ships," the tiny brunette trailed off as she thought about all her OTPs. About half were lesbian, a fourth were gay, a fifth included nonbinary characters who couldn't technically identify as gay because of gender differences, and then whatever remained were straight. Wow. She was more shamelessly gay than she thought.
"Good thing the rest of the fanfiction world seems to follow suit," Iris whispered to herself, thinking about how some of the biggest ships in the sea of fanfiction were gay (Harry x Draco, Elphaba x Glinda, Enjolras x Grantaire, Lafontaine x Perry, Percy x Nico, Will x Nico, Sherlock x Watson, Rizzoli x Isles, Ginny x Luna, Spock x Kirk, Clarke x Lexa, etc).
"This place is a gay paradise!" Storm said aloud, summing up Iris' overall feelings of the world of fanfiction. Sure, there were a lot of straight ships, and there was nothing wrong with that, but there were also armadas upon armadas of gay ones, more so than what was found in canon media. That was where the paradise began.
And even in stories where there was no romance at all, there was still so much beauty, love and newness. Fanfiction gave the world something different to mull over and something fresh to get excited for! A good fanfiction was always worth a read! So Iris and Storm spent the next few hours reading all kinds of fanfiction of varying length, genre and fandom. They read cute fluff fics, beautifully painful angst fics and rather sexy smut fics and then everything in between and back again. They read romantic and platonic, AU and sequels, OCs and crossovers.
At last, however, Iris remembered something.
"Move over," she insisted at last after she and Storm finished a Harry Potter story. "I want to update one of my own stories today."
"What? How many more are you planning on writing?" Storm demanded. She had a lot of work to do if she was going to read and review all of lrhaboggle/Iris' works. The last thing she needed was for the crazy girl to write anything else.
"I've been doing an anthology all of Pride Month," Iris said. "One story per day. I've got to post the one for June 30th."
"Wonderful," Storm sighed.
"Just give me five minutes," Iris pleaded. "Then we can go back to reading our gay fanfictions."
"Fine," Storm agreed with Iris' terms. Iris smiled up at her from the chair, then, the little authoress got to work on her latest story.
AN: So, for worse or for better, it's the end of Pride Month 2018. I hope you all have had a happy, safe month and that you all celebrated in some fashion. I'm going to miss writing these "short" stories and getting to celebrate my identity, but I know this isn't over forever. This is only a temporary goodbye. But hey, like the shameless self promotion said, I've got hundreds other things for y'all to read and review, so… (Also, I so do not regret being meta and self-promoting in this finale. It's a fitting end, if you think about it).