|Erin Ptah (ptahrrific) wrote,|
@ 2012-07-21 03:59 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||genre: fluff, pairing: jon/"stephen", pairing: none, series: fake news|
Characters/Pairings: Happy!"Stephen", Stephanie, variations on Jon/"Stephen"
Disclaimer: #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement. Characters belong to the Report. Names of real people are used in a fictitious context, and all dialogue, actions, and content are products of the author's imagination only.
A redux of Eight Roads Converged: ficlets written by request about what happens when various fakenews AUs cross paths.
The pretty woman in the silk blouse is sniffling over an appletini when Stephen takes the seat across from her. "Need a friendly ear?"
"No," says the woman with glum determination. Her chin-length hair falls in gentle waves around her face. "There's nothing you can do. Nobody can help me. Ever."
"I bet they can! I bet it's not as bad as you think."
The woman sits up straighter and wipes her eyes, bolstered by having something to argue, even if it's her own certain doom. "I can't be a lesbian."
"Sure you can. There's nothing wrong with not being straight."
"It's not that! There is, of course, but I've accepted that whatever diabolical thing Joan did to claw her way into my heart, and also my shower, is not going to go away. So I'm trying to suck it up and make the best of it. But it's too hard!"
Stephen shrugs. "Can't you just do what comes naturally?"
"Easy for you to say! You're...." The woman flicks one hand vaguely at Stephen's pink polo shirt, the white angora sweater looped over his shoulders, the stray glitter in his hair from the valentines he was making this morning. "For some of us, it's not natural. I don't look good in flannel, Doc Martens hurt my feet, and when I tried to get a short haircut I panicked halfway through. How can I face Joan again like this?"
"Why can't you be a femme lesbian?" asks Stephen. "Then you could still wear skirts and heels and have your hair as long as you wanted."
The woman eyes him like he's just offered to sell her beachfront property in Kansas. "That's a myth. Like el chupacabra and the benefits of Obama's health care plan. If they're real, why haven't I ever seen one?"
Stephen grins. "You've seen plenty! You just thought they were straight."
"Then...I cut off my beautiful hair and donated it to some childhood cancer patient for nothing?"
"Your hair is still beautiful," declares Stephen.
She looks so forlorn, brown locks spilling across her furrowed brow. "But is it...'femme'?"
Stephen digs through his pocket for a moment, then leans across the table to brush the woman's hair out of her face. The silver hairpin slides into it easily, rhinestones glittering against the dark locks, holding it in an elegant sweep across her forehead.
"It sure is," he says. "You are an adorable femme pixie. And I just bet your Joan's going to feel the same."
While George and Marian are involved in a deeply tense trading negotiation over Silly Bands, their fathers watch from the edge of the play area, comparing coffee preferences and hysterectomies.
"Not to brag, but I've worked with hundreds of trans people," says the other Stephen. "Talking with prospective patients, you know. The problem is, they're all ladies, which means they tend to get emotional over the way I got first shot at a donor uterus. And it doesn't help to explain that two of my selves are ladies, one of whom probably has it even harder than they do because nobody's invented the beak transplant yet."
Stephen can feel his shoulders instinctively starting to hunch. "Anyone ever tell you you're kind of a dick?"
"Hey, I'm not complaining!" protests his double. "I'm just saying."
If he answers right away, Stephen knows he's going to get emotional. And the last thing he needs right now is to act like a girl in front of some Y-chromosome-drenched version of himself who sailed through nine months of having an occupied uterus without batting an eye.
To calm himself down, he watches the kids. Marian appears to have stepped into the role of auctioneer, promoting a Sailor-Mercury-shaped Silly Band in speech so fast she gets herself tongue-tied. George rubs his eyes and gapes in an exaggerated gesture he clearly picked up from his Jon. Not that he's as good at it as Marian, of course.
"It's still not fair of you," says Stephen, watching the blue ribbons bounce in his daughter's adorable braids. "How would you feel, huh, if I made it all about me when you were feeling bad that no amount of money or surgeries can ever give you a baby with your eyes and Jon's smile?"
No answer. Stephen takes a triumphant gulp of his Irish-crème latte and plonks it down on the table just in time to hear a thick sniffle.
(Marian chooses this moment to wave an imaginary wand and chase George across the springy fake turf, both of them shrieking with delight. Kid has good timing.)
"I wouldn't trade George for anything," says the other Stephen wetly, fingernails leaving half-moon pits in his Styrofoam cup. "Anything. But—I just—Jon—!"
He trails off into a manful squeak.
Stephen relocates to sit beside him, putting an arm around his shoulders and providing a handful of brown paper napkins to sob into. It is, after all, the gentlemanly thing to do.
"Wait, seriously? Everyone in your universe is into this?"
"Well, yeah," stammered Jon, unaccountably tongue-tied. "I mean, I guess there are some radical binary-smashing anarchist people out there, but on the whole...listen, it's not seen as some exotic kink, okay? It's just how we work."
The visitor sat back on the dock and took another swig of beer. (Granted, "beer" was a charitable word for it: the sponsor-provided crate of Bud Lite Lime was apparently following him and his Stephen everywhere, even on charity missions across universes, until they drank it all.) "It's weird to imagine, that's all. That you wouldn't even be able to consider a relationship with someone until you'd thought about..."
He trailed off, frowning.
"Hang on. How does that work? Because you're attracted to Stephen, but you're also married to Tracey. Are you a closet binary-smashing anarchist?"
"Not really?" A jellyfish drifted across the waves that lapped at the post Jon was leaning against. He wondered idly if Bud Lite Lime would kill it. "It's not like you have to be attracted to only men or women. It's just that lots of people are."
Across the bay, a sailboat tacked against the breeze. If Jon squinted, he thought he could see two identical silhouettes moving like tiny wire dolls against the sail: his own Stephen, shamed into repressing his kink and nearly destroyed by the predator who had exploited it, and the Stephen who had accompanied the other Jon, visiting from a universe where sex drives based on submission and control and exchange of power were taken for granted.
"So, uh, I'm clearly not very good at this," said the visiting Jon sheepishly. "You were probably hoping for some support in recovering from an encounter with an abusive Dom, and here I end up interrogating you about how your bizarre sex preferences work."
"Don't sweat it," said Jon, ears pricking as the wind carried a too-long-silent burst of laughter over the water. "It's probably the closest I can get to knowing how he feels all the time."
Jon thinks he's going to be sick.
He should've known this was a bad idea. The fact that the portrait hole wasn't wide enough to let him and Avivah through together gave him the creeps right from the start. It's different for Stephen, Honeypie can cling comfortably to his shirt while he steps through, but for Jon the few seconds of having himself in one reality and his soul in another should've been enough of a bad omen to sour him on the idea altogether.
Damn Stephen's infectious penchant for adventure. Double-damn Stephen's abrupt need to circle back for a bottle of vitamin water, even though they're hardly going to stick around long enough to run low on electrolytes.
"Uh, hi," says the other Jon, crossing the set to the interview table like nothing's wrong. "Stephen told me the portrait connection was acting up, but I guess I wasn't prepared for...whoa!"
He freezes, eyes locked on Jon's feet where they dangle over the mantel. (Jon's afraid he'll fall over if he tries to jump down.) There stands Avi, rubbing her cheek against his ankle, trying to console him.
It's almost as bizarre as it is nauseating. His duplicate is much too focused and alive to...to have been severed, but Jon knows himself, and he's way too much of a coward to even think about separation ordeals for more than five minutes on end. What happened to him, then, that his daemon is nowhere in sight? Who hurt him so badly that he's looking at Avi now with nothing more than blank fear?
"Got it!" breaks in Stephen's voice, three feet or a universe away depending on how you're counting. His leg swings through the opening to brace itself between Jon's hand and the nearest Emmy. "Stow your worries about dehydration, my hypochondriac friend, because -- oh my f@#k you're a witch."
"I'm a witch?" echoes the alternate Jon, shaken into action by, what else, the need to argue with Stephen. "You're the ones running around with a giant tame lynx! At least, I hope it's tame. Is it tame?"
"You don't know who I am?" blurts Avi.
"Giant talking lynx," amends the other Jon. "Your universe is officially cooler than mine."
Stephen's still crouched in the portrait hole, one hand curled around the upper edge of the frame while the other clutches a bottle of "water" in some decidedly non-watery hue, Honeypie draped across the back of his neck with her tail curled in a golden question mark over his chest. Jon steals a glance past his foot at this universe's version of an Emmy. The iconic silhouette is mostly the same, but the wings, now that he looks properly, don't seem to extend from a petrel-daemon. They're just a random decoration.
"I think," says Jon, mouth dry (maybe Stephen was on to something with this water idea), "in this world, their daemons are inside them."
"Does one of you want to explain what's going on?" says his double. "Preferably before my Stephen gets here? Because if you get too free with the demon talk, we're liable to have a repeat of the holy-water fire-hose incident. And something tells me the talking lynx wouldn't like that."
Jon slides himself off the mantel to land softly on the ground beside Avi. Even with a healthy and present daemon, this version of himself must have gone through so much loneliness for not being able to talk to her. As for this universe's Stephen...finding a Jon will have helped, surely, but there's no way to guess if it'll go far enough.
"Alternate-me, this is Avivah," he says, ruffling the fur at the back of her neck. "She's, uh, my soul. Sorry for skipping the introductions, but we kind of assumed you'd know her on sight."
"Oh, good, it's just you," clicked Stephen with relief, as an alternate version of himself leaned over the edge of the crater that had previously been his set. "Come give me a hand with the transvorticinal thingamajigger, will you? It's out of alignment again. Does yours act up like this?"
"Huh?" said the alternate in American.
"At least, I think it's the transvorticinal thingamajigger," continued Stephen, switching languages automatically. "Do you have a spare beryllium fuse I could swap in?"
"There must be something wrong with my ear," said his double. "I can hear you talking, but none of the words sound like 'I'm very sorry for obliterating your desk'."
"Oh, like you can't just grow a new one," grumbled Stephen. "Now, about those beryllium fuses--"
The other Colbert, now leaning over the edge of the crater, cut him off. "Are you an alien?"
Stephen stared up at the man, unwilling to believe what his multipart vision was telling him. Surely this man just had a good disguise: contacts in, tentacle tucked, skin freshly colorized. Surely he couldn't be....
"I don't believe it!" continued the other Colbert. "At least tell me you're the legal kind. A world where Stephen Colbert isn't human is one thing, but a world where Stephen Colbert isn't an American citizen? The cosmos trembles at the thought."
"Excuse me," said Stephen shakily. "I just remembered a very important thing I have to do. Which is why I have to be somewhere else. That is not here. Right now."
He fled back into the charred shuttle, slammed the hatch, and prayed the hull was soundproof.