Next Man Up

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Title: Next Man Up
Author(s): pianoforeplay
Date(s): 2009
Length: 97,500+ words
Fandom: J2
External Links: series on Archive of Our Own; podfic version

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Next Man Up is part of the RPS J2 AU Quarterback Verse written by pianoforeplay. It was written as part of the 2009 Supernatural Big Bang and is part 3 of the seven part series. Egoists create both art and a soundtrack to accompany the story and the story was also selected to be part of petite madame's J2-S&D Calendar Wallpaper Project.

As one reviewer explained: "Even though I know nothing about American football, I still found myself fully engrossed in this. It’s complex and harsh and even uncomfortable in places, but that just gives the story its depth and power. And it continues that way right through to the end."[1]


  • "Its possibly the most realistic AU I've ever read. From the football field, to the sports industry to the relationship between the characters. You had 2 AU characters actually become what most Tin Hat fans believe is actually true - 2 guys that are completely connected to each other, but who are realistic about the world, their families and their jobs and so we'll never ever see that relationship for ourselves. Other than their jobs being different, I could really really really see this as how they would get together/be together. You captured *Jensen* and *Jared* in such an honest fashion I don't even know how to describe it. Like I said, other than their jobs, I could firmly believe this is how they truly are based on the way you so naturally wove them together."[2]
  • "If Tim Green wrote a romance, he'd pray it was this good.....Jared plays rookie quarterback to Jensen vet QB, with Ackles smoldering jealously as the press hypes what could very well be his replacement depending on how the season unfolds. God- where do I start about how richly-detailed, perfectly-paced and god damn good this novella is? This is so well-written and captivating that its longish length was the only thing that kept me calm when I started angsting it might up and end on me too soon. And feel me- it's not just that I don't like football; I despise it. Utterly. And? Didn't even matter here. Time Will Be caught me and did not let me up for air once. Do I sound like an imbecile? Maybe 'cause I just finish reading this sucker and haven't completely transitioned back. It was that epic. Loved how she handled homophobia, loved the way she reveals each character, the deftness of her storytelling- dude. Even hating the end didn't syphon off my enthusiasm. I vote an extra chapter to give it an alternate ending and then: publish or perish." [3]
  • "When someone asks for a "classic fic" at spnstoryfinders, I always rec The Doors of Time (and Next Man Up) because it's REALLY a classic."[4]
  • "A well-written, honest, and realistic story. The author offers up a great cast of supporting players, and fills the narrative with lively and vibrant action. The story also captures the look and feel of the sport, so much so that as a reader you'll be transported right there to the sidelines."[5]
  • "It's really hard to say exactly what I liked about this story the most without giving the game away. It's an engaging character driven story about Jared as a rookie quarterback for the Cowboys and his developing and changing relationship with Jensen, the not so rookie QB he will ultimately replace. I like that neither main character is a flawless creature, and the football world is shown with enough realism to satisfy a sports cynic like me, and enough love to satisfy the true fans. I think the relationship between Jared and Jensen is portrayed the same way."[6]

Not everyone liked the story however. In a spnanonhaventhread from 2012, one fan noted:

"Some people loved it because of the realistic ending. Others hated it for the same reason. The wank usually kicked off over that, with people from both sides throwing around daft accusations. Like if you loved it you hated either Jared or Jensen or if you hated it you must have wanted them to have a big public coming out.

I didn't like it, not because it lacked a HEA, that felt right for the story. it was the whole bit with Jared staying with Sandy even though he knew he didn't love her that bugged me. They could have broken up without him coming out, and it would have worked better for me that way." [7] The majority of these discussions were lost when the previous Supernatural anonymous meme community was deleted.

Fan Art Gallery

Below is a small sampling of the extensive fanart created for this story.


  1. lexzilla's What a surprise! Its j2 fic recs. dated November 4, 2009.
  2. ou-peachus' I don't know what you've done to me dated Augsut 6, 2009.
  3. further's a nice pair dated August 13, 2009.
  4. comment in petite madame's Doors Of Time art post dated December 28th, 2010.
  5. sawedoff-recs' 2009 Big Bang Recs post dated August 10th, 2009.
  6. facetsoftext's Supernatural RPF dated Dec 21, 2010; reference link.
  7. Petty, petty annoyances thread at spnanonhaven dated Nov 26, 2012.