The Heart Rate of a Mouse

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Fanfiction
Title: The Heart Rate of a Mouse
Author(s): arctic_grey (Anna Green)
Date(s): 2009-12-06 - 2011-11-30
Length: c.513,000 words
Genre: slash, AU
Fandom: Panic! at the Disco
External Links: The Heart Rate of a Mouse masterpost, Archived version AO3

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Heart Rate of a Mouse is an epic-length Ryan/Brendon AU set in the 1970s. It is written in the first person from Ryan's point of view and was posted in installments on livejournal. The fic was backdated and reposted on AO3 by the author in 2017.

In 2013 the Anna Green began selling a print version of the series through Lulu: Book FAQ: beggarsnotes, Archived version

In 2018 Green said that she would be revising the work into an original fiction series, but since there are no official plans to publish it yet, the fic will remain available in its current form for the foreseeable future.[1]

Content

Vol.1: Over the Tracks

In the summer of 1974, Ryan Ross embarks on an exhausting tour in support of his band’s breakthrough album, struggling to live up to the pressure and expectations of sudden fame. As he juggles his dissolving band, lying best friend and fleeting girls, he heads down a dangerous and self-destructive road, letting himself want the one person he can’t let himself have.

I would have been happy with mediocre success. A record deal, small tours, a firm hold of myself. It’s what I wanted, what I probably had somewhere between the first and second album, but I missed it. I didn’t notice. So now I’ve got my face on magazine covers, fans screaming and passing out at the sight of me, and I want to put this car on reverse and go right back to that moment I missed, that moment in a club in Buffalo where I noticed a few guys of the three hundred headed audience singing along, and my heart stopped at the achievement. But it’s too late for that, and I’m gone.

Vol.2: Wolves vs. Hearts

A new band, a new city, a new lover – Ryan can dust himself off and start again, but the god-like status that his former band’s tragic end has given him isn’t as easy to shake off. As he should be focusing on making a comeback with his new band, he runs into the one person he hasn’t been able to forget. Brendon’s new relationship leaves Ryan with a bitter taste in his mouth as he realises that his feelings for Brendon have not waned. Instead of wooing his own girlfriend, Ryan goes after Brendon, convinced that this, too, he can get right the second time around.

Here he is, the epitome of self-improvement, like I knew a more primitive and lesser form of him. He wasn’t a full person then, but now he’s complete. Not completed by me, not at all. He’s making damn sure I don’t accidentally think that. And he smiles at me, the way you’d smile to a stranger, or to someone you know you’re never going to see again, awkward but comforting like the encounter was not as unpleasant as it could have been. I want to snatch a hold of his shoulders and ask if he’s fucking kidding me. If he’s done. Because it seems to me like he is, but he’s not allowed to be if I’m not.

Vol.3: A Kingdom by the Sea

In November 1978, over a year has passed since music icon Ryan Ross announced that he was retiring from the public eye and quitting the world of music. He is far from being forgotten, however, as his musical influence can be heard on the radio everyday when Brendon, the frontman of His Side, starts singing. Brendon was, after all, famously discovered by Ross. But even as His Side is on the radio and touring state after state, Ryan hasn’t been seen. And Ryan likes it that way, really. It’s what he wants: to forget and be forgotten. Until, one day, someone starts digging up his past, forcing him to come face to face with everything he’s trying to run away from.

I wasn’t home. I was somewhere, sure, but it wasn’t home. And I knew that they had whisked Brendon off to Los Angeles for his music project, so he wasn’t in New York when I arrived. I could not come back to him. And in the kitchen was the ghost of a girl, humming along to the radio, dancing in place as she cooked dinner. And in the living room was the ghost of a boy, putting a new record on and then joining me on the couch again, curling into me, pressing his nose against my neck, and I smoothed down his hair and took a hit of the joint, and he smiled against my skin and said I smelled good, and I loved him.
There are no words to describe what emptiness feels like after that. It’s not even empty, which would suggest the presence of something before or a potential to be filled.
It was just... nothing.

Additional Content

Most additional content can be found on The Heart Rate of a Mouse (Masterpost) on Anna Green's fanfiction livejournal.

An FAQ was posted on the author's fic journal in 2011: THROAM FAQ: beggarsnotes, Archived version

Anna Green later reposted an FAQ on her tumblr: (retrieved September 2017)

Fan Reviews/Reactions

Some fans have gotten THROAM-inspired tattoos[2], edited a Wikipedia page to include part of THROAM's plot[3], and added THROAM references and quotes to the Chelsea Hotel's graffiti-covered plaques and walls.[4] Anna Green, author of THROAM, has responded to and/or reblogged all of those instances (see previous citations). See the The Heart Rate of a Mouse and THROAM Tumblr tags for recent posts about THROAM. There is a tag for The Heart Rate of a Mouse Series - Anna Green on AO3.

The opening lines of the fic, "I should never be trusted to drive a vehicle of any kind; not because I am a lousy driver, but because I tighten my grip of the wheel with every passing truck." and, "Crash. Bang. Smoke." are well-recognized.

There are multiple blogs dedicated specifically to the THROAM versions of the real people in the fics [citation needed], and readers often say they care about the THROAM characterizations and the fandom surrounding it more than Bandom. [citation needed]

On Goodreads, THROAM has been rated 4.85 out of 5 (173 votes) and has 19 reviews.[5]

In June 2018, Anna Green warned fans that someone unaffiliated with her was selling print copies of the series.[6]

Fourth Wall and Reality

Fans of THROAM alleged at multiple points that lyrics from post-split Panic songs referenced THROAM, or that Ryan and Brendon's interactions in real life mirror THROAM.

This article or section needs expansion.

Warnings Controversy

In early 2018, the warnings for the series stated:

Warnings: good ol' sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Some mild violence, some het sex. Infidelity. Vol.3 contains discussion on statutory rape. That's all I can think of, really.[7].

In 2018, readers began seriously discussing whether the book included a rape scene. They specifically looked at the end of Volume 2, in Chapter 7: Love, Imagined, Volume 2: Wolves vs. Hearts - III. In order to strike a last blow to destroy Brendon and Shane's relationship, Ryan gets Shane drunk and high and then has sex with him, all while Shane is struggling with the realization that Brendon has been cheating on him, but is unaware that it was with Ryan. It was pointed out that if Shane would not have had sex with Ryan while sober, this makes Ryan's manipulation rape.

Anna Green initially responded that she did not consider the scene rape. She blocked a number of fans on Twitter. Points used to argue that it was not rape where the fact that Ryan was also drunk and high, questions of exactly how inebriated either party was, the fact that Shane was already attracted to Ryan, and that Ryan's actions were intentionally horrifying, or that the scene was ambiguous.

Some readers wanted Anna to edit the warning for the series to include rape, or at least dub-con. Others asked for Anna to rewrite the scene because they felt that, although Ryan's actions in the series are often morally questionable and clearly wrong, rape was crossing a line that made him irredeemable as a protagonist.

Twitter user rosscoloredboy, who had been blocked by Anna[8], posted a Twitter poll, asking "If you purposefully get someone drunk and high with the intention of taking advantage of them (sex) because you know they’d never oblige when sober, is that rape?[9]" The tweet circulated beyond THROAM readers and PATD fandom, gaining over 1,200 votes. 99% of responders voted "Yes, that's rape." rosscoloredboy added:

This has so many votes and I wasn’t expecting it to circulate the way that it did but I’m grateful. I’m referring to a scene in a very popular fanfiction written by someone who would vote no and has blocked me for asking for it to have a trigger warning for future readers.

Attraction =/= consent. The character was so inebriated, he wouldn’t be able to make a proper decision whatsoever. And the scene is from the first person point of view of the rapist. How the fuck would he know what the other person actually wants? It’s rape.

If the characters were sober, the sex wouldn’t have happened. Character A knew this and got character B fucked up enough to take advantage of him. It’s rape.

Anna Green eventually posted her own poll[10] with the caption:

OKAY! Let's settle this: does Ryan rape Shane in Volume 2? If you can/are willing, do revisit the scene, read it, and then answer below. (How timely for this week's news...) I will take action depending on people's views. Grazie!

Replies:

Nope, because they were both high and it was an impulse fuck to get back at Brendon and because Shane was lonely. It was made to shock the viewers and to question Ryan's morals and who he is as a character.[11]
I don’t think it’s rape because Ryan didn’t force Shane to do anything and it’s obvious Shane went to Ryan’s room with the intention to have sex, he admitted to wanting it ever since they first met. You also wrote that Shane was willing probably bc he wanted to get over Brendon Shane intoxicated himself and so did Ryan. I think because they both wanted to do it to hurt Brendon, but the only way they’d be able to follow through is if they were drunk/high[12]
I voted no but it is kind of off putting that I genuinely had to think about it, I feel like if you have to put a lot of thought into whether or not its rape its probably rape[13]
The scene is ambiguous. S worships Ryan and may have said yes sober (though this fact may be too subtly drawn). R proves he is against non-consensual sex acts in other scenes; he is also a product of his environment, which combines alcohol, drugs, and sex without thinking.[14]
I said no, but I’m definitely questioning it. I mean Shane got himself drunk and Ryan didn’t think of the idea to do anything until afterwards, which he THEN presented the weed. But Shane seemed pretty willing, with or without the weed[15]

The poll received almost 500 votes. 38% of responders voted "Yes" and 62% voted "No."

Anna Green then posted a second poll, asking:

Follow up poll: is the scene in question still rape if Shane is sober throughout and gives verbal consent?[16]

The responses were 7% "Yes, still rape," 91% "No, no rape," and 2% "Other (please comment)"

Replies:

That's literally the definition of consensual sex so no, it's not rape. Aside from the drugging, you did make it clear that Shane was attracted to Ryan and later said that even Brendon knew Shane wanted into Ryan's pants, but the drugs make it so it can't be consensual.[17]
I legit feel like they both wanted it and for different reasons. The scene is pivotal and broke my heart. I think it helps him become who he is in Volume 3. Don't change a thing. 😘[18]

After the poll ended, Anna concluded:

Morning! Feel free to keep voting but just to say I will edit the scene today to make/keep Shane sober - will let you know once done.

The story will keep the following tws: dub-con, discussion of date rape.

I'm adding also: ppl having sex when intoxicated.[19]
To explain the new tw, people engage in sexual activities throughout the volumes while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, from all band members to Ry, Bren, etc. This tw aims to warn off people who view any such activity as rape.

The scene was rewritten so that Ryan still drinks and smokes, but Shane turns down Ryan's offers of alcohol and weed and is sober when they have sex, as well as giving verbal consent. The warnings for the series were changed to be more detailed, and included "dubious consent, mentions of underage sex, off-screen date rape/dub-con and discussion of it."[20]

Anna wrote a follow-up post on September 29, Always in Bismarck. She began, " I wanted to address the rape controversy, as it can probably be officially called now, and which I intend to finish off with this post." In the post, she apologized that she had "stubborn in putting a label of rape on something that I knew from my own intentions had been a consensual (and mutually manipulative) encounter," and that the people she had blocked had "with abuse and anger." The post discusses the frequency of sex while intoxicated in the series, saying ,"In the last few days I have been told repeatedly that sex while intoxicated is always rape. I simply do not agree with this, and my reason for that comes from my own sex life and sexual experiences - others have had different, perhaps traumatic experiences, and I am not diminishing their lived experiences in any way. Sex while intoxicated absolutely can be rape - I agree completely. "

Fourth Wall Breakdown

Due to the popularity of the work, the fourth wall between the fic and the many people who appear in it has been broken multiple times. It has been mentioned on twitter by Dallon Weekes[21], Jon Walker[22], Vicky T[23]and others.[24] Vicky T and Keltie (Ryan's ex-girlfriend) are said to have read the fic. Anna Green has asked that fans of THROAM respect the fourth wall.

Related Fanworks

References

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20190105080810/https://twitter.com/pineconepickers/status/1019308798115278848
  2. annawuke: "@finleighsaid here’s both of ours"
  3. vicesplusvirtues: "SHIT GUYS IM FUCKING DYING LAUGHING AT THIS"
  4. strandedindelirium: "I was in NYC last week so of course I had to visit the Chelsea Hotel."
  5. The Heart Rate of a Mouse by Anna Green, Archived version
  6. archived, see "THROAM Books"
  7. http://web.archive.org/web/20180228000155/http://beggarsnotes.livejournal.com/55360.html on WBM, archived February 2018
  8. 27 Sep 2018
  9. [https://twitter.com/rosscoloredboy/status/1045376307708792834 11:15 AM - 27 Sep 2018
  10. 28 Sep 2018
  11. 28 Sep 2018 by whodoyoulxve
  12. 28 Sep 2018 by houseoftrench
  13. 28 Sep 2018 by probablysylvia
  14. 28 Sep 2018 by LARsTeaches
  15. 28 Sep 2018 by panicbrendcn
  16. 2:49 PM - 28 Sep 2018
  17. 28 Sep 2018 by ryseaman
  18. 29 Sep 2018 by bruinswolf
  19. 12:15 AM - 29 Sep 2018
  20. The Heart Rate of a Mouse [Masterpost], retrieved June 2019
  21. @DallonWeekes have you ever read The Heart Rate of a Mouse, DEC 2015
  22. ...what is Throam?, JAN 2018
  23. The heart rate of a mouse ... 😈, MAR 2018
  24. citations needed