Okay, first of all, I really just want to read what you have to write. I get that that totally sounds like a cop out, but hand to jesus, it is not. The reason I write fanfiction is because is a forum for telling stories that I love that I can’t find anywhere else – which is why one of my favorite things about fandom is the idea that everyone else is running around writing the stories of their own particular dreams. I love when people are passionate about ideas and storytelling.
So tell me a story that you want to tell.
THAT SAID, I totally get that there’s nothing more intimidating than a blank page and also nothing more intimidating than writing FOR someone, and combined – jesus. It’s a wonder anyone participates in exchanges at all, right? So here is a letter to give you lots (and lots. oh god. I'm so sorry) of completely and totally optional ideas and prompts and shit. Okay?
General likes: Big/ambitious world building and AUs. (also, I realize you’re on a time budget, so I ALSO love snapshots set within big, ambitious idea/AUs. Then I can dream about writing fanfiction of your fanfiction). Experimental format and storytelling. Slice-of-hockey-life stories. Ensemble casts. Complicated relationships and emotional consequences/fallout. Gray areas. Dubious ethical choices. Characters growing up, realizing things about themselves, grappling with identity. Magic. Sci-Fi. Fantasy. I’m fine with real life family/partners appearing in fic, just please treat them with respect and sympathy.
General dislikes: Always-a-girl. PWPs. Stories that center around marriage or child rearing.
Nick Bjugstad/Kyle Rau
Oh, man. I just have so. many. feelings? Too many feelings, really, about this pair of rivals-turned-friends-turned-teammates. If you want some links for background on them, you can find some in my letter for a previous exchange. There should just be all the fic about these two, seriously.
So, some things about them that I specifically appreciate so very much: contrasts! I love outgoing ray of sunshine, Nick Bjugstad vs reserved and prickly Kyle Rau. I love that Nick has the gift of size and Kyle… does not. I love that Nick is the son of a man who pushed him hard, and had an uncle in the NHL to lend advice, whereas Kyle pushed himself to be better than his brothers two older (one of whom had a handful of games in the NHL, now plays abroad) and a twin. I love that gritty, driven Kyle is the player Nick’s dad always wanted him to be (!!!!! It’s so much).
I love thinking about how their contrasting family dynamics might shape them and their relationship. I really, really love Nick’s utter and complete faith in Kyle’s skill and ability to play the game vs the inherent and obvious physical challenge undersized-Kyle has. I would love to hear about Nick leaving Kyle behind in college to sign with the Panthers. I would really love to see Kyle pushed out into the world after graduation (his first time living outside of Minnesota!!!). I love complicated, nuanced relationships, so even though I love their devotion to each other, please feel free to break them up, push them back together, make them envy each other, make them hate each other. Introduce a third party. WHATEVER.
* Now playing for the Portland Pirates of the AHL, Kyle lives with 3 guys on his team. (It’s a rotating cast, but it includes Mike Matheson, who is a Dream). He’s away from home and on his own for the first time. Nick, meanwhile, is spending a good chunk of his season out of the lineup in Florida because of migraines. So maybe he manages a visit up to Portland? I would love to see Kyle navigating what it’s like to have to articulate what Nick is to him to his roommates – is he out? Is he comfortable with his sexuality? Are there awkward conversations about where Nick is going to sleep? If you write me Kyle’s extremely awkward coming-out conversation, I would be so incredibly pleased.
* Kyle trying to keep a secret from Nick. He is such a reserved person, but Nick knows him better than anyone, what’s it like trying to keep him from knowing something? You could basically write the trope of your choice here and I’d be happy. Is Kyle magic? A witch? Is he a SECRET VIRGIN? When does Nick find out – when they’re kids? Not till they’re adults? How does he feel about it?
* Nick and Kyle played at a couple international tournaments together and I would love to see fic set there. Maybe far from home is when Nick launched his seduction campaign. Maybe you want to write outsider-POV for me, about them liking each other and not quite knowing how to make it happen? Maybe you would like to include Connor Brickley – who roomed with Kyle in one of those tournaments and now plays with him on the Pirates?
* Slightly more afield, what if Nick was like a Centurion and Kyle is his faithful aide-de-camp. What if they fight WARS and have to bandage each other’s wounds?
* Alternatively, there’s something really great about maritime AUs to Florida ensemble casts, so what if they both work in a aquarium (actually, you should feel free to put any pairing I mention in an aquarium. I love aquariums). What if Kyle takes care of the sharks and Nick takes care of the baby animals and the whole plot is that THEY’RE IN LOVE.
Also, I should mention that literally any of these ideas would ALSO be great with added soul bonds. And that if you make one or both of them cry, you’d be doing me a real solid.
Kyle Rau/Shayne Gostisbehere
So if we matched on this prompt, there are only two possibilities:
1. We are best friends.
2. We are about to be best friends.
Because I’m pretty sure I made this pairing up inside my head, but you know what? It’s gonna be so great. Really, let me tell you:
Okay. So. First: At 10:20pm local time, on April 12 2014, Union College defeated the University of Minnesota in the Frozen Four Championship game.
The game was held in Philadelphia, and it featured the resurgent, upstart Union College against powerhouse UM. Minnesota’s junior co-captain Kyle Rau was held to one assist in this game, while Union’s junior alternate Captain Shayne Gostisbehere had 3 points and was a plus 7.
Union won the game 7-4.
Shayne’s a Florida boy, playing far from home. Kyle’s competing for his hometown team, but both were named to the All-Tournament Roster, Shayne was named best player of Tournament. Both were third round draft picks. After that year, Shayne left to turn pro; whereas Kyle returned to UM for his senior year, intent on getting Minnesota it’s revenge. (which was not to be, his senior year, UM washed out in the semis).
Next: it’s the 15-16 hockey season. Shayne is a standout on the Philadelphia blue line. He’s logging real minutes, he has his own emoji nickname. He’s in the Calder discussion. Kyle is in his first year as a pro, down in the AHL, awaiting his call up. He finally gets called up in late February. He plays well, but doesn’t get a point – although he comes achingly close a couple times. Then, on March 12th, a month shy of the two year anniversary of Union’s championship, Philly travels to Florida to take on the Panthers. Nick and Kyle are out on the ice together, and have a two-on-one breakaway. Nick sends over a beautiful pass… that is broken up by a diving Shayne Gostisbehere.
Ghost scores late in the third to force OT. Florida takes the game in a shootout, but Kyle’s sent down the next day.
TELL ME THERE IS NOT A GODDAMN GOOD STORY IN THERE SOMEWHERE.
Give me a story about them hating each other. Or Kyle hating Shayne and Shayne being dismissive of him. Write me the epic where their mutual hatred is complicated by fucking which is then complicated by feelings and then they fall in love. Or write me a snapshot within that arc. Write me a story about Nick Bjugstad being brutally confused about Kyle bringing Shayne home when all Kyle has done for two years is talk about how much he hates him. Write me a story about Kyle driving down to see Shayne in Philadelphia and hating himself for every one of the seven hours it takes him. Write me a story where they figure out the common struggles they’re facing trying to play hockey for a living are more important than their adversarial past.
ALSO, I should mention, basically any prompt I have Kyle in, I am always okay with past, on-again-off-again, or concurrent Kyle/Nick Bjugstad. If you wanted to write me the story where the moment Kyle starts dating Shayne Gostisbehere is when Nick realizes he’s in love with Kyle, I would be totally down with that.
And I’m up for any combination of the three of them for the endgame.
Dustin Brown/Jonathan Quick
You cannot tell me that if we matched on this pairing, you do not want to see Dustin Brown & Jonathan Quick: Team Parents Who Run the Whole Goddamn Show.
Of course you do.
Jonathan Quick is a prep school graduate with the smirk and the rumpled clothes to go with it. He has a charming smile and a dirty mouth. He’s the chilliest guy you’ve ever met and has a temper that snaps like dry kindling. He can pull off khakis and he’s not afraid to piss into a bottle in public. He knows exactly when it’s four-twenty-o-clock (always) and he’ll wake and bake before you’re up, and carry you the last leg of the marathon after everyone else has faded.
Dustin Brown is a nice boy from Ithaca who opted for the rough-and-tumble OHL and stayed true to the girl he left at home. He was a soft-spoken kid with a lisp who packed a hell of a hard hit. He got drafted in the first and he’s been both a prodigy and a disappointment at least twice. He’ll egg you into dropping your gloves and then laugh. And if you ask him, he’ll say he doesn’t dive, but he sure makes those falls look good. He’s a tech-nerd through and through and a fitness buff. He’s a company man who’ll toe the line but he’s here first and foremost for his team, and that’s why they named him Captain.
And both of them fight dirty.
What I want to see is them being Head Badasses In Charge. I don’t particularly care if you make this a platonic partnership or if they’re fucking. Or if they’re in some sort of consensual poly arrangement. I want to see them kicking ass, and I’m perfectly happy to see them do it on the ice or off.
* Do you want to write the story where they’re going to smash, scream, cajole, and goddammit-emotionally-support their injury-plagued team to the 2014 Stanley Cup? I would read 100K of that story.
* OR, maybe trip to the Olympics was a cover story for tech-gadget-nerd Dustin Brown and super spy Jonathan Quick to gather intelligence?
* Maybe Jonathan Quick is a powerful mage and Dustin Brown is his long suffering bodyguard as they fight a twisted, rising tide of evil on the Western Front. Maybe they fight demons that climb out of the San Andreas Fault. There are totally probably demons in there.
* Maybe they’re in the same dorm, but opposite social circles in their preppy boys academy, but they decide to join forces to take down the bully who’s been tormenting underclassman Tyler Toffoli.
All of these, honestly. Write me all of these.
Dean Lombardi/Keith Yandle
Okay, so I cannot emphasize enough that I did not select this pairing because I want to know about Dean Lombardi’s dick. In fact, I would prefer not to know about Dean Lombardi’s dick, but then again, I nominated this pairing, and I requested it, so I guess I basically deserve whatever’s coming to me.
[I see you there with your ‘coming’ puns. I see you. Don’t do it.]
I nominated this pairing because Dean Lombardi once wrote a substantial document, a Manifesto, if you will, arguing why Keith Yandle should be on the 2014 US Olympic team.
If you know anything about Dean Lombardi you know he loves to talk. At length. So, it’s easy to imagine this was The Longest Document Ever. Or we can just ask Brian Burke, who was there:
“Glancing at the voluminous report, Burke quips, "Why don't we read the New Testament instead?"”
SO. What was in that Manifesto? Why does Dean love Keith? Is it a passionate appreciation for his offensive stratagem? Or is this more of a Say Anything boombox serenade type deal? I WOULD READ ANY OF THOSE THINGS.
And, honestly there was probably a powerpoint to go with it. If you’re feeling multi-media, THIS IS THE PROMPT FOR YOU. Make me that powerpoint. I would LOVE if you made this powerpoint. Are there hearts drawn around Keith’s name? I bet there are. Has Dean made up a Yandle-centric playlist? You know he totally has. What’s on it?
Okay, you say, you totally put this prompt last and you said Nick Shore/anybody, which means you don’t really care, right? Or you don’t really want this “pairing”?
To which I say NO. I absolutely want to see what you have to write about Nick Shore. That’s the truth. Even if we went out to the bar near my house (the good beer bar, not the crappy sports bar with the terrible food) and started talking about these prompts (once, at this bar, I went on a mini tirade about how much I hate one fandom-popular fictional character, and I’m only telling you this so you know that it’s cool to talk about this stuff in this bar), and even if we got drunk (to the point of truth-telling, but not to the maudlin stage), EVEN THEN I would tell you: Please. Please write to me about Nick Shore.
Nick Shore is mediocre. But the POINT is that Nick Shore is mediocre. Okay, you say, but mediocre is not a prompt. And also it’s hella easier to write about the stars (trust me. I know – I once wrote a whole story with an extended Connor McDavid-as-jesus metaphor based on sentiments that were written about him in the popular press. I KNOW).
And, okay, maybe you could say that mediocre is boring, but I say: it’s a perfect opportunity to explore everything that’s weird about hockey from the layman’s point of view. He’s a college kid among OHL bros. He’s a disappointment among stars. He’s a guy with a touch of skill playing for a coach who loves brawn. That’s awesome and a recipe for weirdness.
* Write me the story of him and Derek Forbort, who played together as young kids on one of the national teams looking back on their abbreviated glory days as they struggle to get minutes in the NHL.
* Write me the story of Nick Shore exploring LA and every single thing he finds weird about it.
* Write me the story where Nick Shore is the normal human secretary for a legion of superheroes.
* Write me the story where in his off hours Nick Shore is secretly [a stripper / a witch / a cat / a genius hacker / all of the above].
* Ohh, actually, building on that, write me the Hackers AU starring Nick Shore, with Alec Martinez as Angelina Jolie and Matt Greene as her dumb boyfriend and Forbort and Dustin Brown (or WHOEVER) as Nick’s nerd hacker friends.
The possibilities are endless.
I’m looking forward to whatever you come up with :)