It's a pretty self-explanatory title ... but here's a chance for the characters to speak back to the authors....
An Open Letter to Fanfic Writers
By Cirocco Jones
"No, not that one, the backspace - Lennie, just let me do it."
"No, come on, the whole point of this is to show that we're not the one-dimensional people they think we are, right? I can do this."
"Fine," Rey sighed.
"OK. So. Point one, we are not the one-dimensional characters they think we are. Hey - what the hell is that?"
"That's a bullet."
"A what?" Lennie looked more closely at the screen. It didn't look anything like a bullet.
"A bulleted list," Rey explained. "You hit 'Enter' and you made a bulleted list."
"But I didn't want to."
"You started with a dash, so it turned your dash into a bullet and assumed you wanted to start the next line with another bullet, like a list."
"What if I don't want a list?"
"Then you just tell it to stop."
"Oh for crying out loud-"
"Fine, you do it," Lennie got up and ceded the seat in front of the computer to Rey.
"Good. Maybe we'll finish it this year and get back to work. What do you want for item two?"
"Not everything reminds me of drinking. Or Claire Kincaid's death. Which, by the way, I don't feel guilty about, I just feel bad that she's gone. I'm pretty much aware enough that it wasn't my fault."
"They actually write that?"
"That I spend the rest of my life thinking I killed her? Yeah, I've been in a few like that."
"Huh," Rey added to the growing list.
"I wasn't that bad a father, either."
"OK..." Rey typed it in, trying unsuccessfully to look non-judgmental.
"Your turn." Rey thought for a moment, then typed:
'Not everything reminds me of that one fling I had.'
"Well, it doesn't, Lennie. Depending on when they're writing, it could be years later. Not even a Catholic can feel guilty for that long."
"What are you guys doing?" Lt. Van Buren appeared by Rey's desk.
"Writing a letter to the fanfic authors," Lennie answered her.
"You know, the people who write stories about us that didn't actually happen."
"How come I don't know about them?"
"Because you're never in them."
"Why not?" "I dunno."
"They're mostly women. They mostly write about men," Rey explained.
"Wait a minute - I think I may have been in one of them. I was doing things I wouldn't normally do and I found myself thinking a lot more than I usually do."
"Yeah, they get into your deepest darkest thoughts. It's kinda strange," Lennie said.
"Oh, that's another one, Lennie - we don't have deep thoughts while we're working on cases."
"You don't. I do. Don't over-generalize."
"Fine, then, I don't think about anything but the case when I'm working."
"What are you doing?" Mike Logan asked.
"Mike? What are you doing here?" Van Buren was puzzled.
"It's a fanfic, I can be wherever the author wants me to be."
"You mean this is a fanfic right now?" Van Buren looked around. It didn't look any different from 'reality'.
"Of course," Lennie said.
"How can you tell?"
"For one thing, Mike's here. He's almost always here when it's a cop fanfic."
"Yeah. A lot more than me," Rey said.
"Really?" Van Buren asked again.
"Oh yeah," Mike preened. "The ladies love me. More than him."
"Or me," Ed Green put in glumly.
"Hey - wait a minute-" Van Buren said, confused.
"Or me," put in Captain Cragen.
"That's another way you can tell, people who've never met are in the same room and they all know each other-" Lennie said to an increasingly bewildered Van Buren.
"Hey, you at least get in the SVU fics," said Max Greevey grimly. "I never get anything."
"- even when they're dead," Lennie finished.
"I was in one once, I think," said Phil Cerreta, appearing out of nowhere. "But I had a very, very minor part."
"So, now that the gang's all here, who wants to add to this?" Lennie asked the room at large.
"What have you got so far?" Cragen asked.
They read over Rey's shoulder.
"This is all about you guys. Bupkus for the rest of us," Cragen pointed out.
"Well, we're the ones who started it. You want something about you, you do it," Lennie shot back.
"For one thing," Mike said, "I'm not a womanizer." A general laugh greeted this statement. "I'm not!" he said defensively.
"Yeah, right, and Curtis isn't self-righteous and tactless," Van Buren put in derisively.
"And I don't always think of my childhood abuse. I have moved on, you know. I mean, I'm - wait, how old am I?"
"I don't know how old you are, but I do know I'm not a 'kid' or a 'rookie'," Rey put in, stinging a little from Van Buren's comment but realizing she was probably right. "Depending on when they're writing, I could be anywhere from 32 to 36, it's not like I'm totally green."
"Who?" Ed asked.
"Not you. 'Green' as in 'new to the job.'" The others smirked as Rey typed 'Curtis is not a rookie.'
"And you know, they never give us any kind of personality traits that weren't on the show. For example, I have a lovely singing voice," Phil added.
"Nobody cares, though. They don't write about you," Mike told him.
"I know," he sighed. "They should write about minor characters more," he tapped Rey on the shoulder, and Rey typed it in.
"I have a good singing voice too," Lennie commented.
"Really?" Van Buren asked.
"You want a demonstration? I know a lot of Broadway tunes-"
"No!" said everyone quickly, thinking that the cognitive dissonance of Lennie singing Broadway would just not be something they could deal with.
"They should get our diction right too," said Rey.
"Our what?" Mike asked.
"Diction. How we actually talk."
"Where'd you learn that?" asked Mike, then addressed the air around him. "Hey, you know, I'm not ignorant. Just because Mr. Peabody here shows off his college education all the time, and I talk with a New York accent, doesn't mean I don't know what diction means."
Sorry, said a disembodied voice, and everyone except Mike, Lennie and Rey jumped.
"What the hell was that?" Cragen asked.
"The author," Mike told him.
"Jesus, warn a guy before you're gonna do that," muttered Max.
"Where were we?" Mike asked Rey.
"Yeah, man, I really hate it when I get all Mammyized, you know, aw shuckin' and all that," Ed said.
"You should talk to Meldrick Lewis over at the Homicide fansites," Lennie told him. "He sounds like that guy on King of the Hill half the time in those fics. You can't tell what the hell he's saying."
"Oh and another thing," said Ed. "The mocha-choca-latta-ya-ya descriptions of dark skin. That's gotta go too." Rey nodded vigorously as he typed, while Van Buren reflected ruefully it might be nice if anybody ever said anything about the colour of her skin. It was quite lovely, she thought. Why didn't anybody notice it?
"And my eyes, jeez, you have no idea what people have done with my eye color," Mike said with disgust.
"No, not gray. I could live with gray, it's the gray-green-hazel-amber-murky-clear-dappled-stormy-depths crap I can't stand."
"What are you guys doing?" Jamie Ross asked. "Who are you?"
"Greevey?" Jamie asked. "Aren't you-"
"Dead, yeah, I get that a lot. This is a fanfic."
"Oh, OK." Jamie seemed to take this rather well.
"You're familiar with these?"
"Oh yeah, I've been in a few. So Rey, are we, uh..."
"No, not this time," Rey smiled.
"What?" Mike asked.
"Rey and I usually end up in bed together if we're both in the same fic," she told him.
"Really?" Mike reflected that that certainly wasn't fair. He decided to say so. "That's not fair, I'm a much more likely candidate." Max and Phil nodded in agreement. Jamie looked at Mike rather witheringly.
"I don't go for womanizers."
"Hey, it's written right there, that I'm not a-" there were enough rolled eyes all around that Mike decided to drop that and take a different tack. "You go for hyper-married instead?"
"I'm usually a widower in those ones," Rey said quickly.
"Not always," Jamie reminded Rey impishly. Rey shifted uncomfortably in his seat and hoped nobody would ask about that.
"But why you two?" Mike insisted.
"Who else is gonna hop into the sack together? Believably?" Rey asked. "You think it's believable?" Jamie asked Rey.
"I mean, you're very nice, I just never knew that you thought of me that way. For real, that is."
"Uh - am I married right now?" Rey asked the air.
"Then no, of course I don't think of you that way." Lennie choked back a laugh and Rey cleared his throat. "I just, uh, we're the only two relatively attrac- uh - hey, let's get on with the list, OK?"
"Oh, there's a list?" Jamie looked over his shoulder to the screen.
"Yeah," said Rey with relief, "That's why we're not in bed together, because we're in charge of this one."
That's what you think.
"I'm starting to freakin' hate that," Cragen muttered.
"Hm..." Jamie read it over. "OK, I want to add that my second marriage is not destined to fail. I could be very happy with David."
"Oh, never mind. Even I don't believe that one."
"Hey, what are you guys doing?" asked Claire Kincaid.
"Hi Claire," Max greeted her warmly.
"That's another thing, people shouldn't act familiar when they never worked with each other on the show," Ed pointed out. "I shouldn't be able to recognize her right away. Neither should you."
"We are both dead, you know," Max explained patiently.
"Are you really?" Ed asked Claire.
"Yes!" she snapped. If there was one question she really hated...
"That's another big one," said Rey, "'Claire is dead. D-E-A-D,'" he typed.
"What are you doing?"
"Writing to the fanfic authors."
"Telling them I'm dead? Oh, thanks! Somebody has to. I am so sick of being in comas and witness protection programs and alternate realities!"
Jack McCoy and Abbie Carmichael walked in and Jack froze, turning pale and shaking and unable to believe his eyes. "Claire?" he whispered, his voice trembling with hope and-
"Relax, Jack, it's a fanfic."
"Oh thank God," Jack wiped his forehead. "For a moment I thought the real writers had lost their marbles."
"Hey, if we're gonna have the Order people here, can we just bring everyone in at once?" Lennie asked the air, and obligingly, Adam Schiff, Nora Lewin, Arthur Branch, Serena Southerlyn, Ben Stone, Paul Robinette, and Some Guy appeared. For a moment, Profaci, Liz Olivet, Emil Skoda, ME Rodgers, and an assortment of regular judges and defense attorneys shimmered before them, but they quickly disappeared, leaving everyone else heaving a sigh of relief. It was getting just too crowded.
"Where the hell are we?" asked Adam irritably.
"The 27th precinct," Van Buren told him. They were all quickly brought up to speed.
"So this is what this place looks like. Huh."
"Who are you?" Van Buren asked the guy with no name.
"I was the DA in the pilot."
"Has anybody ever referred to you since?"
"I don't think s-" he disappeared.
"Hey!!" there was a general outcry.
"That's not fair!" Mike exclaimed.
"Cut it out! You said we were in charge of this one!" Lennie said indignantly.
"So, any pet peeves?" Lennie asked the members of the Law.
"The whole Jack'n'Claire thing," Claire began heatedly. "I mean, for God's sake, let me rest in peace-"
"And let me get on with my life-" Jack chimed in, nodding vigorously.
"And I have better things to do with my afterlife than keep haunting Hogan Place-"
"And we never called each other Boopsie and Snuggwums-"
"'No more Jack'n'Claire'" Rey said as he typed, interrupting them, "They'll know what you mean. Anybody else?"
"I'm not always in a bad mood," said Adam. Snickers were suppressed out of respect and fear while Rey dutifully typed this in.
"I was not on the verge of a nervous breakdown when I left," said Ben.
"We did not have a long standing rivalry," Jack put in. "I never even ran into Ben Stone except at Christmas parties."
"Which are not actually compulsory for all Hogan Place staff!" Adam added.
"I am not in love with Jack," said Nora.
"Neither am I," said Abbie.
"Neither am I," said Serena.
"Who are you?" asked Adam, and Serena sighed. She got that a lot.
"I'm an interesting guy too!" said Paul. They all looked at Arthur expectantly.
"Don't look at me. I just got here."
"I'm not wooden or icy," said Serena. This time the snickers were not so well suppressed. "At least, not any more! I'm doing pretty good this year." There was grudging agreement with this.
"I'm not a lesbian," said Abbie.
"Oh! That's another pet peeve!" Jack and Mike said simultaneously, with Ben echoing close behind.
"Wait, wait, slow down, I'm not getting all of this." They all waited impatiently while Rey finished typing 'Abbie is not a lesbian.'
"OK, what?" Rey asked Mike and Jack and Ben.
"Me and Jack! And sometimes Ben! All these people keep throwing us into bed together in fics - and saying that there's all sorts of evidence on the show to support it!" Mike said.
"Oh, long looks, machismo that's acting as a defense against something hidden, intense arguments-"
"In my case it's a caring and sensitive soul that has 'gay' written all over it," Ben chimed in.
"It's so out there!" said Mike
"It's ridiculous!" said Jack.
"Are these guys protesting just a little too much?" Lennie asked Phil, and they began a quiet discussion about the likelihood of Mike actually being gay or bi.
"Mikey, you're really not, are you?" Max asked worriedly.
"Thank God I've never been in one of those," Adam said, and everyone agreed with a shudder.
"I have," Ed said with a nostalgic smile. Raised eyebrows greeted this. "Not that that means anything, but, hey, if anyone was gonna be, it would be me, right? Four years and I've never once mentioned a girlfriend or anything?"
"You been in any?" Max asked Rey.
"I have," Rey shuddered. "Not many though. Thank God."
"Don't they know you're Catholic?"
"Yeah, they do - oh and that's another one, I'm not that Catholic," he typed in over the snickers of the other characters, all except Lennie and Phil, who were now making a bet on Mike's true sexuality.
"You know, it's not that unbelievable," Mike said musingly.
"That a Catholic would play for both teams. There's lots of gay and bi Catholics in RL."
"RL?" asked Lennie, shaking Phil's hand to settle their bet and coming back into the conversation.
"Real Life," Rey said, looking at Mike in puzzlement.
"You know, I could show you a few things, Rey..." Mike grinned at him seductively.
"EW! I thought you said you weren't-"
Mike looked around at the raised eyebrows surrounding him, then gave in, "OK, OK, I lied." Phil sighed and passed a very satisfied Lennie a folded twenty while Max stared at Mike in horror. "What? I'm a fun-lovin' guy."
"You mean... all those times we ended up in bed in fanfics... you meant it?" Jack asked.
Mike shrugged nonchalantly.
Claire narrowed her eyes at Jack suspiciously. "Jack, you're sounding rather... uh... hopeful..."
Jack looked from Claire to Mike and back, then shrugged. "What do you care? You're dead. So, Mike-"
"But Jack," said Claire, "You said that-"
"All right, hold on, wait a minute," Lennie looked up, "You're doing this, aren't you?!" he said accusingly.
"You said we could run this one!"
"Yeah!" Rey added indignantly. "You said this was our chance to say what we-"
Hey, you've had your chance, I've got your list - Rey jumped as the screen before him suddenly showed a Save dialog box, which quickly filled in, as if by magic, with 'Open Letter To Fanfic Writers' and disappeared - I'll send this to apocrypha, and if they don't publish it, I'll be sure to post it on fanfiction.net, the home of the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Just Plain Wrong. And now, if you'll excuse me, all of you minor characters - Van Buren, Cragen, and Adam drew in their breaths in dismay as one by one Phil, Ed, Nora, Arthur, Paul and Serena disappeared, then they clung to each other before one by one they disappeared too - and both of you dead characters - poof, poof, went Claire and Max - until there was only Jamie, Abbie, Rey, Lennie, Jack, Mike and Ben left.
"OK, what's going on? Are you taking over?" Jamie asked.
Yes, the author said firmly.
"And is it going to be slash?"
Uh - yes.
"Then take me outta here, these things make me feel even more superfluous than I was on the show."
Poof! Jamie disappeared.
"Is it girlslash?" Abbie asked. "No, of course it's not girlslash, there's no other girls around any more." She sighed. "Too bad, 'cause she was kinda cute." The men looked at her, intrigued, and she said, "Not that I'm into that, but if I had to go there, there's worse ways to go than Jamie Ross. So it's not girlslash?"
"I'm outta here too." Poof!
Rey and Lennie glanced at each other in alarm.
"Me too, me too!" they both called out, and the author gave a sigh of disappointment as she made them vanish as well.
OK. Well, boys, let's start a new file, shall we?
And a brand new file appeared on the screen.
Author's Note: BTW, in case anybody's wondering, yes, I've committed most of the above sins enumerated by Our Heroes, or enjoyed stories that have done so. I just don't think They would appreciate them.