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Fanfic / A String Of Words

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a string of words is a (now orphaned) Nine Inch Nails and How to Destroy Angels Real-Person Fic. It is currently posted on Archive of Our Own.

It is a series of short standalone oneshots, all inspired by a single word. Each prompt either comes from a generator like The Random Word Generator, or by someone submitting a prompt to the author's (now deleted) Tumblr. The fic has been completed at 30 chapters.

a string of words includes the following tropes:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: How the band ended up summoning a demon in "summon"; to be fair, no one thought the old book sold by a goth girl was real.
  • all lowercase letters: The story title, as well as the chapter titles (though not the story itself).
  • Alternate Universe Fic: According to the author's notes, "background", where Trent sees a family photo suddenly gain a tree that wasn't there before, "probably takes place in the "Matrix" AU that currently exists only in my head".
    • "twilight" takes place in the Year Zero universe.
    • At some point before "linger", Trent has passed away, though as of 2022 he is still alive in real life. Same for "ghost" which features the ghost of the also-still alive John Malm.
    • "abortion" genderflips Trent into a woman named 'Trina'.
  • Ascended Extra: "supermarket" is told from the point of view of a random extra in the scrapped music video for NIN's "Everything", who is buying cereal while Trent runs around through the grocery store.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: As one of the tags on AO3 says, "mood is all over the goddamn place tbh".
    • "summon", in which NIN has too much to drink and accidentally summon a demon, is followed "twilight", where Trent and Mariqueen die when the Presence comes to Earth. In fact, both chapters were posted on the same day.
    • The dark "celebration" is all about the beginning of Trent's relapse into addiction after The Fragile (1999), but is immediately followed up by the lighthearted Ship Tease filled "girlfriend".
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Being set in the Year Zero universe just as the Presence arrives, this naturally occurs in "twilight".
  • Erotic Eating: "cherry" has Trent attempt tying a cherry stem with his tongue, a la Audrey Horne, but he ends up having so much difficulty that Mariqueen gets bored by the time he gives up.
  • Executive Meddling: In-universe example in "abstract", where a record executive wants the cover of Pretty Hate Machine to be a photo of Trent's face, against the latter's wishes.
  • Ghostly Chill: Mariqueen feels strangely cold in "linger" where the now-deceased Trent touched her.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Atticus in "jealous", once Trent's relationship with Mariqueen gets serious.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted in "abortion". Trina (the genderflipped Trent) has an abortion and concludes that it was the right choice.
  • Haunted Heroine: Mariqueen in "linger".
  • Holding Hands: The subject of the aptly-titled "hands".
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Trent in "wolf".
  • Loosely Based On A True Story: A few oneshots are loosely-inspired by stories that have occurred in NIN's history.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Trent in "wolf" after going from werewolf to human and realizing that he was going to kill his wife, along with realizing that he already did that to someone else.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Despite her intentions in "flash", Mariqueen's nudity is less for fanservice and more a catalyst for comedy.
  • Painful Transformation: In "wolf", Trent's transformation back into human is described as "bones twisted into their natural shape" while screaming the entire time.
  • Off the Wagon: Much like in real life, "celebration" has Trent having his first drink in years after the release of "The Fragile".
  • One-Word Title: Each chapter title is the single word that inspired the chapter.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: While we only see Trent as a werewolf briefly in "wolf", he appears to be a more traditional variation, though a full moon isn't mentioned and presumably his transformation is triggered by the night itself as he begins turning back into a human at sunrise.
  • Polyamory: Trent, Mariqueen, and Atticus are secretly in a threeway relationship in "rumor".
  • Recovered Addict: Trent in "need", despite still craving drugs or alcohol on occasion.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: Mariqueen attempts this in, well, "flash". She just didn't know that Trent was bringing Atticus home for work reasons.
  • She's Not My Girlfriend: Spoken word for word by Trent in "girlfriend" regarding Tori Amos; Chris teases him for it.
  • The Show Must Go On: In "pain", Trent somehow gets his leg cut so bad that blood is dripping on the floor during a concert. When he realizes no else has noticed, he continues on with performing.
  • Triang Relations: "jealous" sticks Atticus (a), Trent (b) and Mariqueen (c) firmly into a Type Four Love Triangle.
  • Together in Death: Trent and Mariqueen spend their final moments together in "twilight".
  • Toilet Humor: "mud" revolves around several other NIN members (except for Trent) realizing that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibit (based off of the famous Woodstock '94 performance) looks less like mud, and more like shit. Trent, to his embarrassment, decides they're right.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Trent buys one in "summon", thinking that it's a fake. It isn't.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Parodied in "ghost" with Trent knowing that he's in one of these plots after John Malm's ghost appears on Christmas Eve. Trent wants no part of it tells Malm to get lost, only for his "guardian angel" to appear to show him what the world would be like if he had never been born; Trent is none too pleased about that either.