The Powers That Be


AUTHOR: Shirley Yoshinaka
EMAIL: shirlscorner@gosympatico.ca
DATE: Completed April 2, 2000
CATEGORY: Cast Humor
RATING: PG-13
SPOILERS: None
ARCHIVE: Youíre welcome to download this story for your own reading, but please do not archive my fanfiction on any website without my permission.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters from ER. They are the property of Warner Brothers, etc.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is in response to the challenge issued by Michelle Hiley on arts.tv.er.creative to write a comedy for the month of April. I do hope I've succeeded. One important thing to note: this story contains a few in-jokes that you will not ďgetĒ unless youíve read certain pieces of ER fanfiction (by other authors). But I donít want to spoil the surprise by telling you which stories Iím alluding to. Part of the fun is figuring it out.
SUMMARY: The ER staff wonder if the world of fanfiction is real or make-believe.



John Carter reached around to rub at the base of his spine. At the same time, he rolled his neck to the side, still keeping his eyes on the x-ray that seemed to glow in the darkness of the room.

The door burst open and he turned his head to see Deb Chen staring at him with an expression of relief. With one hand braced against the door, she called out into the hallway, "I found him!"

"What's up, Deb?" he asked casually.

"It's Jing-Mei, John! For God's sakes, how many times do I have to tell you that?" she snapped, her expression now dissolved into one of sourness.

Dave Malucci joined her in the doorway, having to see Carter in the flesh for himself. "Hey, man, you're okay!"

"Yes, he's perfectly fine and annoying as always." Deb punched Dave on the arm, none too lightly. "You're such a twit! You had everyone worried for nothing."

"I swear to God, I thought it was real! I mean, it was on the fu...friggin computer."

"What the hell are you two going on about?" John asked, his eyes narrowed with confusion.

"Come on, I'll show you," Dave said, anxious to share his discovery. He disappeared from the doorway and John followed Deb out into the corridor.

"What an idiot," she muttered under her breath as they walked.

"What's going on?"

"Sherlock was convinced that you'd tried to kill yourself. An overdose, he said."

"What!" John exclaimed, his shock clearly evident.

Deb nodded. "I know. It's crazy! Everyone's been running around the hospital trying to find you. Dr. Greene thought you might have gone up to the roof and jumped off."

"Why would I take an overdose and then jump off the roof? Isn't that rather redundant?"

"Whatever. Anyway, Malucci had us convinced that you'd run off somewhere to end it all."

As they came upon the admitting area, they could see Dave, Luka Kovac, Carol Hathaway and Kerry Weaver crowded around the computer.

"There must be a logical explanation," Kerry was saying, squinting at the screen through her glasses.

"If there is, I'd like to hear it," Carol said, crossing her arms and glancing up at Luka. "This is spooky."

"This is not some sort of joke? Maybe we're on 'Candid Camera'," Luka said, appearing uneasy as he looked around the room, as if he'd discover a hidden surveillance device.

"You know about 'Candid Camera'?" Carol asked, sounding mildly surprised.

Luka shot her a look that spoke volumes, though he showed characteristic restraint by not commenting on her inane comment.

"Would *someone* please explain what's going on!" John demanded loudly.

"Take a look for yourself." Dave stepped back a bit so John could peer at the computer along with everyone else. "Since it's so slow today, I was just fooling around on the internet," Dave continued. "I don't know how but I found a story that featured John, our John," he clarified, with a pat on John's shoulder. "I guess it just freaked me out. It was written so well, I thought it might actually be happening."

"So you had security, Mark, Elizabeth and all the others scrambling around in a panic because of this *story* you found," Kerry stated, her voice dripping with thinly veiled contempt.

"This is really creepy," Carol said. "It's not just Carter that's mentioned. We're all in this story."

Soft clicking sounds could be heard as John manoeuvred the mouse around. "There's more," he announced. "It's not just one story. There's a whole shitload of them!" He ignored the collective gasps of horror.

"Can he say that?" Carol asked.

Luka shrugged as they all crowded in together even more tightly, trying to read the small print, elbows jostling against ribs. Deb couldn't see a thing over everyone's shoulders. "Why not print them out? Wouldn't that be easier?" she suggested.

The group murmured in agreement. Within moments, the printer spit out page after page. They were soon joined by the other ER staff that had split up in search of John. After a brief explanation of what had been discovered, they all sat or stood around the Admitting area, papers clutched in hand. The occasional guffaw, snort of disbelief or peal of laughter was heard but they all found themselves engrossed in their supposed escapades.

"Wow, these are really good!" Elizabeth Corday exclaimed, chuckling over a passage. "Whoever wrote these are quite talented."

"I think we should notify the FBI," John said seriously, glancing around to see if anyone agreed with him. "Someone's been poking into our private lives and posting these stories on the internet. That's got to be illegal."

"Maybe you can talk to your friend Walter," Dave said, one eyebrow lifted in an amused way as he eyes traveled down the page he held.

"Who?" John asked, frowning.

"Whoa, baby!" Dave exclaimed, howling with laughter as he continued to read. "This is fu...friggin great! You and Walter."

John was unnerved by Dave's reaction to this story. "Let me see that," he demanded, trying to snatch the pages from Dave's fingers. But Dave eluded John easily, dancing away from his reach.

Mark Greene coughed, suddenly having a choking fit. He turned a deep shade of red, his eyes the size of quarters as he read his story. Elizabeth patted him on the back. "Mark, are you all right?" she asked in a concerned tone.

Not trusting himself to speak just yet, he simply nodded. Finally glancing up from his reading, he caught John's gaze. He turned an even brighter shade of crimson and quickly folded the paper in half. Placing a hand on the back of Elizabeth's neck, he kissed her deeply on the lips, catching her momentarily off-guard. But she soon returned the kiss eagerly while a few people clapped.

"Well, guess I should have expected this after being away for so long," stated a familiar voice.

Mark opened his eyes to find Susan Lewis standing before him, looking radiantly beautiful. "Susan!" he cried.

"Hi Mark." She gave him a bemused smile and then accepted hugs and hellos from people she hadn't seen in four years.

"God, what are you doing here?" Mark asked, still in a state of shock.

"I'm not sure. I don't even know how I got here." Susan glanced around the room, still seeming as if she was in a bit of a haze. "Maybe this isn't a good time to come back. You seem to be pretty crowded with new people."

Elizabeth extended her hand. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Elizabeth."

Susan shook her hand and gazed into the attractive woman's eyes. There seemed to be an immediate connection between the two of them. They chatted and laughed while Mark looked on, his head swivelling back and forth between the two of them as if he were in attendance at a tennis match.

"Want to get out of here?" Susan asked, an underlying meaning in her tone and smile.

"Sure," Elizabeth replied.

"Hey!" Mark protested. "What about me?"

The two women regarded him and then looked at each other other. They came to a mutual agreement without even speaking.

"Why don't you join us, Mark," Susan offered.

"Really?" Mark squeaked. He then coughed into his hand and lowered his voice an octave. "I don't know..." He almost broke into another coughing fit as Dave slapped him mightily on the back. "Are you insane? You're going to turn down an offer to be with two gorgeous women?" Dave brought himself up to his full height and dazzled them with his charming smile. "I'm always available, ladies."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes as she hopped off the stool she'd been sitting on. "We'll take Mark, thank you." Clasping his forearm, she leaned her head against his shoulder while Susan claimed his other side. They walked down the hallway to much hooting and hollering from the staff audience.

Robert Romano strode in, his mouth slightly agape from seeing everyone being idle. "What is this, a self-proclaimed holiday!" he boomed. "Get back to work!"

"Look at the board, Robert," Luka said reasonably. "There are no patients."

"And nobody's in chairs," Shirley piped up helpfully.

Robert stared at her, his expression incredulous. "What the hell are *you* doing down here? Get back up to the operating floor where you belong."

Shirley gave him a withering glare, gathering up the pages she'd been reading. "Fine, I'm going. Keep your hair on." She marched away towards the elevators, muttering, "I miss out on all the fun."

Curiosity got the better of him. The printer was still going non-stop and he picked up some random pages. "What's all this?" he muttered, skimming over a story. "Who wrote these?"

"We don't know," Kerry replied. "It's very unsettling."

"You wrote them, didn't you," Carol said.

Kerry sniffed indignantly. "I certainly did not."

"You can stop denying it, Kerry," Carol insisted. "We all know you wrote that romance novel a while back."

"I didn't!"

"It can't be just one person," John said, waving both hands in the air. He held at least fifteen pages in each hand. "I've got four stories here, all about me, all with different names for various family members. The only names they got right are Gamma's, my father, and Chase. Everyone else is totally screwed up!" He shook his head in disbelief. "Jeez, you'd think if someone was going to write about me, they'd at least do some research."

"What is your mother's name?" Kerry asked curiously.

"Why do you want to know?" John shot back, suddenly suspicious. He seemed to be the featured character in a lot of these stories and it was making him paranoid. These authors seemed to relish torturing him.

Robert was making a nuisance of himself by reading over people's shoulders, in addition to the several pages he'd grabbed off of the printer. "Hey, why aren't there more stories about me?"

"Maybe because you're not a pleasant person," Luka commented, his tone as gentle as always.

Robert sniffled. Heads whipped up and stared at him in horror as he broke down in sobs. "I have a sensitive soul inside of me!" he cried, swiping at his tears with the back of his hand. "Nobody understands that. I love my dog!" He ran out, almost colliding with someone that had just walked through the ambulance bay doors.

"Whoever made Romano cry deserves a medal," said a deep, rumbling voice.

Carol turned around slowly, hoping that her ears hadn't deceived her. There he was, leaning against the doorframe with that familiar lopsided grin she'd missed so dearly. Wordlessly, the tears already gathering behind her eyelids, she walked into Doug Ross' embrace.

The air was hushed as everyone gazed at the reunited couple, waiting for them to kiss. When they finally did, the room erupted in cheers. Several people came forward to hover around them, bombarding Doug with questions about why he'd taken so long to come back.

"I take it then you're coming back to County?" Kerry asked innocently.

"Nah, I wouldn't do that to you." Doug winked. "I'm taking Carol with me instead." And with that, he scooped her up in his arms.

"Bye everyone!" Carol blew kisses, waving goodbye, the joy reflected in her face as they exited the ER together.

"Hey! Come and see this," Dave exclaimed, a nervous edge to his voice. He motioned towards the computer and they all gathered around the monitor again. "Something weird is happening."

[Hello.]

Dave pointed to the screen. "See that? The word 'hello'? That was never there before."

"Is it still online?" Kerry asked.

"Yeah," Dave affirmed.

[Don't be scared. I'm one of the people that write the stories.]

"A-ha! Now we're getting somewhere," Kerry stated. "Tell that person to stop writing them."

Dave shot her a look. "And exactly how do you want me to do that, Chief?"

"Well, try typing something," she suggested.

He obliged by trying to type a message with the keyboard but nothing seemed to be happening.

[That's not going to work, Dave.]

He almost fell off the chair and pointed at the screen. "Holy fu...frig! Do you see that? That's my name!"

"I can barely see it. I wish we could tell this bozo not to use a purple font on a dark blue background," John complained.

Within seconds, the colours changed to black text against a white background.

[Is this better?]

John swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. Carol was right. This *was* spooky. "Yeah, much better, thanks," he mumbled.

"What's with you and the word 'frig' today?" Deb questioned Dave, giving him a strange look.

He shrugged. "I don't know. The real word just won't come out."

[I'm trying to keep the rating PG.]

"Oh, uh, of course," Deb stammered, as if that explained everything.

"Who are you?" Luka spoke up.

[You can think of me as TPTB of fanfiction.]

"What is that? Some sort of code?" Kerry wondered out loud.

[It stands for 'The Powers That Be'. Sometimes I don't like what TPTB do on the show, so I write my own stories.]

"What show? What is she talking about?" Deb asked.

Dave glanced up at her. "How do you know it's a woman?"

Deb smirked. "Have you read some of these stories? Believe me, some of them can only come from a woman's viewpoint. Like the ones that comment on how good John looks in a tight pair of jeans."

John blushed, trying not to roll his eyes.

"Any stories that talk about me like that?" Dave asked hopefully.

Deb ignored him, waiting to see what words would magically appear on screen next.

[For example, I don't trust TPTB to give Carol the ending she deserves. So I had Doug come back to sweep her off her feet.]

"See? Told you it's a woman." Deb smiled.

[Please don't be offended, but many of us prefer to call you Deb. We remember you as Deb from the first season and it just seems less confusing.]

"I suppose it's okay," Deb said grudgingly.

[And John, don't worry about all the angst we put you through in these stories. We only do it because we love you.]

John wasn't quite sure if that made him feel better. "Thanks, I think."

[So this story is rapidly coming to a close. Any last questions?]

"Are you going to keep writing these stories?" Kerry wanted to know.

[Yes. And you should know that there are many people who love you too, Kerry. You even have a webpage and mailing list dedicated to your stories.]

"Really?" Kerry looked pleased, in spite of herself.

John cleared his throat.

[Yes, John.]

"Am I ever going to have a long-lasting relationship?"

[Oh yes. In the world of fanfiction, you've already had several. In the end, we always give you a happy ending. Well, usually, anyway. Ever since your...uh...unfortunate incident, there's been a great deal of wonderful stories about you.]

"That's kind of sugar-coating it, isn't it?" Dave commented. "'Unfortunate incident'. Why don't you say what really..." He suddenly clamped a hand over his own mouth, his eyes wide.

[Sorry, Dave. I don't want any spoilers in this story. So here we are, nearing the finish line now. I'm glad I had the chance to talk to you all.]

[THE...]

"Wait!" Deb cried out. "If this is the end, what happens to us? Do we disappear, or something?"

[Only until the next story.]

THE END

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