“I’m not going to your school,” he mutters.
“I’ll tell you what,” she says. “Why don’t I sit here for … ten more minutes, and at the end of it I’ll ask you again. If you say no then, I’ll leave. Does that sound okay?”
“No,” he says. “I want you to leave now. My dad’ll be home soon.” He tries to make that last bit as threatening as he can.
Her face goes hard suddenly, where it was unsmiling but gentle before. “Rick,” she says, and he flinches at the iciness of her tone. “Your father doesn’t frighten me. He shouldn’t frighten you. There have always been cruel, close-minded people like your father, and you have the choice, right now, to stop being afraid of them.”
“Shut up,” Rick says. “My dad isn’t cruel, he just doesn’t want me to be a freak—”
“A freak like Kieren?” she says coolly.
“I’m not like Ren!” he says, trying very hard not to yell. “I’m not like Ren, and I’m not like you, I don’t even know you, so just go away already and stop saying bad things about my dad.”
I recently binge-watched all of the BBC’s In The Flesh, a show you may have heard described as “that show about gay zombies”. The description isn’t entirely wrong—there are zombies, and some of them are queer, but In The Flesh really serves as one big metaphor for the Other—the people who, for many reasons, are discriminated against by people who claim they and they alone are “the norm”. I’ll admit that when I first went looking into In The Flesh fanfic, I was hoping to find fic about the vivacious Amy Dyer, or Kieren’s badass, vulnerable little sister Jem (or fics with Amy and Jem, if you know what I mean). Both ladies are two of the most well-written, well-developed female characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to see on any show, gay zombies or not. But if any one character exemplifies the difficult, thought-provoking, heartwrenching themes of In The Flesh, it has to be Rick Macy. And that’s where today’s Fanfiction Fridays has landed us.
Crossovers are tricky things to pull off, but with Rick Macy and the Blue Whistling Thrush, Iphys makes it look easy. In this fic, Rick and Kieren discover that they are both Muggleborn wizards, and both are invited to go to Hogwarts. Kieren, who, like in canon, has the more accepting family, is all too eager to go. But Rick’s father, who fears anything he deems “abnormal”, refuses to let Rick go. Although Rick’s mother is willing to lie to her husband and sneak Rick off to school, Rick, as in canon, is all too willing to obey his father’s wishes and do only the things that Bill Macy thinks are normal and masculine. Kieren goes off to Hogwarts, and Rick stays behind, trying to pick up some magical theory on his own, but, more often, trying to live up to his father’s absurd ideas of him.
In In The Flesh, we meet Rick after he’s come back as a PDS sufferer, so although there are hints at his and Kieren’s past, we never get to see the whole thing unfold. When Rick comes back to Roarton, we can tell how highly Rick values his father’s opinion, and we can tell how much Rick cares for Kieren, and it’s this conflict that made Rick so interesting and so fascinating to me. Unfortunately, Rick leaves the show at the end of the first series, and we never get anything further with him. That’s why Rick Macy and the Blue Whistling Thrush is such a good fic. It expands organically on the hints that the show gives us, and shows us how Rick is pushed and molded by his father into something he doesn’t want to be.
Because of the themes of the show, please be warned that this is not a happy fic. Bill Macy is just as loathsome as he is in canon, and Rick’s emotions are just as angry and self-loathing and fearful as they are in canon. If you’re triggered by internalized homophobia, gay slurs, and homophobic actions, you should probably avoid this fic. But because of these, the fic feels incredibly real. Some viewers may not have thought that Rick Macy’s conflict in In The Flesh was realistic—if they read this fic, I have no idea how they could continue to think that. Iphys shows us exactly how Rick could have grown up the way he did, and they do it brilliantly. Go read it here on the AO3 today!