* * *
“I still don’t believe it,” grumbled Sean, as the two agents stepped through the portal back into their RC. “Upstairs gave us an Observer/Bobo PWP.”
“Well, they were Replacement Sues, after all,” said Hild. “The Sorting Room probably thought assassins would deal with them better than badslashers. It’s like that Hunger Games/Crying Game crossover we had a couple of weeks ago. The one where she couldn’t’ve been the real Katniss because she had a —”
“No, it’s not that.” Sean slumped into his chair. “It’s just that fic. I mean, how could someone call herself an MST3K fan and still write that?”
Hild had never seen Sean like that before. Normally after a particularly bad fic, he would take out his frustration on the punch bag hanging in the corner of the RC. But this, this was different.
She walked over to the fridge and took out a couple of Bleepbeers. “Want to tell me about it?”
“MST3K means a lot to me.” Sean accepted the proffered drink. “When I had that dead-end job with the publishers, sometime the only thing that got me through the day was imagining Mike and the Bots riffing the manuscripts.” He took a long drink of his Bleepbeer, then continued. “I still do it on missions sometimes, but I don’t think I can manage that after this.”
“Why not? You coped after that fic where the Sue tried to save Frank from Torgo.”
“This was worse. Much worse. Now every time I think of MST, I’ll imagine Bobo with that big heart shaved into his hairy back, and the words ‘Brain’ and ‘Guy’ tattooed on his bright red buttocks. No amount of Bleeprin’s gonna get an image like that out of my mind.”
“Could FicPsych help?”
“I’m not letting them mess around in my head! I had enough of that back on World One.”
“Well, is there anything I can do?”
Sean managed a little smile. “No, but thanks for offering anyway.” There was a brief, awkward pause, then Sean continued, “You’ll understand when it happens to you. Not the shrinks. Losing your love for your favourite canon after too much badfic.”
Hild thought about this for a moment. “Maybe one day. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve got a favourite yet,” she said. “I mean, I know quite a few canons from basic training, of course. But that’s about all. ”
“What about Middle-earth?”
“That’s different. That was my home. You don’t stop loving the land where you were born because of stuff that happened after you left.”
Another pause; the two agents continued drinking their Bleepbeers lost in thought. Sean was staring down at the floor. Hild wanted to go over to him and give him a big hug, but she knew that wouldn't help much. Sean was not a touchy-feely person.
She turned her glance away from him, and found herself looking over towards the console. It's ridiculous, she thought. With all this magical technology at our disposal, there must be something we can do to change things. What if...
“Hey, I have an idea.” Hild broke the silence and leaned forward in her chair, a grin spreading wide across her face. “Could we reopen the portal back into the beginning of the fic?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think anyone’s ever tried it before. But why go back there?”
“We get whatshisname, Cambot, on our side, get him to record everything, and play it back for Mike and friends to riff on afterwards. That should help, right? Now when think of it, you’ll think of their riffs instead.”
Sean paused for a moment or two then said, “It’s probably impossible, and even if it isn’t, it probably won’t work, and even if it does, it’ll probably be against every rule in the book. But what have we got to lose? Let’s give it a go.”
He sprang from his chair and dashed over to the console, with something of his old determination in his face again.