ptahrrific: Jon and Stephen, "Believe in the me who believes in you" (fake news)
Erin Ptah ([personal profile] ptahrrific) wrote2012-10-02 01:21 pm

Fake News | Jon/"Stephen", others | R | And Dried Up All The Rain

Title: And Dried Up All The Rain
Rating: Soft R
Contents: Sex, particularly fail!sex
Characters/pairings: Jon/"Stephen", Sam, others
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.

Stephen opens up to the world about his relationship with Jon! And he's still fighting his sexuality every step of the way.

For the [livejournal.com profile] fakenews_fanfic summer fic exchange, prompt: Ace!"Stephen"/Jon. Jon gives up a lot to make his relationship work with Stephen. Shouldn't Stephen do the same thing for him? Prefer to have a classic "Stephen" breakdown/crying scene. Angsty or comedic. Also for my [community profile] hc_bingo round 3 card, prompt "hugs".




It was raining when Stephen's publicist called. He drew his blinds against the grimy, drizzle-soaked streets of New York and tuned her out until she said, "So I'll draft the usual statement and get back to you?"

"Yes," said Stephen decisively. "No," he said, just as decisively. "What?" he said, but in an authoritative way, so she wouldn't guess that he hadn't been paying attention.

"The usual," repeated his media-wrangling Difference Maker, with only the faintest suggestion of a world-weary sigh. "In spite of your political differences, you and Mr. Stewart enjoy a great professional and personal relationship, which sometimes includes going out to dinner, and there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe include something about how you're creating jobs for the poor impoverished wait staff."

"Right," said Stephen. "Tell me what they have, one more time?"

"Gawker's photos are the two of you getting out of a cab in front of the restaurant. There's hand-holding in one of them. If they have more, it hasn't been released yet." She paused. "Is there anything else they could have?"

"Why is hand-holding news?" sulked Stephen, landing with a huff in his desk chair and watching the screensaver spin. "Lots of totally innocent pairs of people hold hands. Family. Friends. The Doctor and his Companions. He was helping me out of the car! Why are the Internets treating that like a salacious hint that we're getting our Sodom on behind closed doors?"

"That's the business, Mr. Colbert," came the flat reply. "As it has been for all six years I've worked for you. And if you want me to be able to do my job properly, you need to give me a straight answer. Has something changed since the last time this happened?"

"I'll call you back," said Stephen, and hung up.

He stared at the background of his phone for almost a full minute, heart pounding. Outside, the rain pattered down.

Then he called Jon.


*


Jon was in a meeting when his phone buzzed. Almost everyone who would have called him was sitting at the same table, which meant either it was some kind of emergency, or his publicist was calling back with an update, or it was..."Stephen," he said out loud, to a roomful of knowing sighs. "Back in a minute. Talk quietly amongst yourselves."

Stephen didn't beat around the bush. "The blogosphere has photos of our date last night."

"Yeah, I got the memo. Told publicity to ignore it."

"Y-you did?"

"It's not like it's anybody's business," Jon assured him. He'd told Stephen at the outset that he wasn't going to lie, but that didn't mean he needed to drag Stephen out of the closet. "Especially since it was only, what, our second date?"

"Second date?" echoed Stephen, distracted for the moment by the burning need to correct whatever lapse of propriety Jon had made this time. "What are you counting as the first? Because going to a bar together in the company of a bunch of our coworkers is not a date. Not even when we were making out right beforehand."

"All right, all right, first date," said Jon, keeping his voice low. The hall was pretty deserted, but you never knew. "Listen, the point is, don't worry about it. It'll blow over fastest if we don't say anything to drag it out."

Stephen was silent for a long moment. "Jon?"

"Hm?"

"What if...what if I wanted to say something?"

Oh. Well.

"Because I was thinking," continued Stephen. "Now that all these marriage laws that keep going through...and the President, even if he's a socialist President, says he approves...and there haven't been any plagues or smitings or anything, and it's almost like...like this is normal."

The fragile hope in his voice was making Jon go a little teary. "Yeah," he said softly. "Yeah, it is. Are you thinking, like, a joint statement? Or do you want the moment to be just you?"

"You'll do it with me, right?" said Stephen faintly.

Jon felt lighter than air as he floated back into the meeting. "Just a heads-up," he told the writers and production staff (all of whom were not only trusted, but under confidentiality agreements for just such an occasion). "Tomorrow's top story is probably going to be me and Stephen coming out. So, uh, start thinking of those jokes now."

The room, he noticed, was a lot less shocked than he would have expected. Also, from the way Wyatt pumped his fist and was about to cheer before Aasif elbowed him into silence, Jon had a feeling a betting pool had just been won.


*


It was easy for Jon. Jon had been one of the Advocate's Top Ten Visible Queer People three years running. Jon made jokes about it on a regular basis. Jon had a line about it in his standup routine, added in 1998 and unchanged ever since: Because nobody likes a picky eater.

Stephen was an extremely picky eater. But he also really, really wanted Jon to like him.

Their second real date involved tennis at Stephen's club, during which Stephen won every match thanks to Jon's continual distraction by the sight of Stephen's legs in tennis whites. Dinner was in the city; dessert, by Jon's offer, at his apartment. Stephen accepted.

After making out on Jon's sofa for a few enjoyable minutes, Stephen unlocked their mouths to say, "So, what are my dessert options? Whatever you have is good. I am definitely not picky."

Jon's startled face was even more adorable up close. "Well, uh," he said, recovering quickly and lapsing into a roguish half-smile. "I was mostly thinking sex. With a side of, um, sex. And maybe a sex chaser."

"Oh!" said Stephen. "Jon, I'm not connected to the Rainbow Flag Community, remember? You can't expect me to understand all your secret gay codes."

"It's not that gay. Or secret." Sensing the potential faux pas, Jon added, "Although if you were still hungry, I'm sure we could get something. Order in a cake, or run to the corner store for ice cream bars, or...."

Stephen plastered his hand across Jon's mouth, shushing him. "It's fine! Whatever we got would just go straight to my hips anyway."

Jon moved one hand down to caress Stephen's hipbone, massaging the dark fabric of the capri pants that had replaced the tennis whites. "I wouldn't complain," he murmured against Stephen's fingertips.

"Jon!" hissed Stephen, squirming. "Stop objectifying me! I am a human being, not some...chubby-chaser fetish object!"

"That...is not where I was going with that, but...." Jon sighed. "You want me to just skip to the good part?"

Stephen calmed down, though it was going to take some time to shake out of the sulk entirely. "Yes, please."

He wasn't sure how Jon wanted to be touched, so he played it safe and started with nuzzling Jon's neck, like Jon was a big cuddly stuffed animal. The resemblance only got stronger when the polo shirt (a condition of Stephen's; if Jon had showed up in a T-shirt, the club would have laughed them away at the door) came off. His chest was a rug. Stephen could have skinned him and laid him out on the floor by the hearth, and visitors would ask when he had shot the bear.

...Jon probably did not need to know about this particular train of thought.

They eased into a more horizontal position, in a complicated tangle of limbs that seemed to require about twenty percent more athleticism than either man possessed — if sex was much harder than this, Stephen reflected, it deserved to be an Olympic sport. Jon was on top of him, and clothes were coming away, and, okay, there went one hand between Stephen's legs...didn't seem to be too much of a trick to it. Nothing here Stephen hadn't tried before. Nothing coming of it except the usual vague, detached kinda-sorta electricity that wasn't a tenth as enjoyable as, say, an ice cream bar.

Jon also did not need to know that Stephen was comparing him to ice cream and finding him wanting. There was no way that would go over well.

"You okay?" panted Jon against his good ear, left hand now wandering around in Stephen's boxers. His skin was cool against Stephen's. "Tell me how you like it."

"It's chafing," sulked Stephen, with perfect if incomplete honesty.

"Oh, sorry!" Jon withdrew his hand and gave the palm — Stephen's eyes widened — a long lick. "How's—"

"Jon!" wailed Stephen in horror, shoving him away and wresting himself off of the couch. "Don't wipe spit all over it!"

Jon looked a bit lost, suddenly on hands and knees over nothing but a throw pillow. He tried to wipe the saliva-covered hand on his shirttail, though with his shirt on the floor somewhere he ended up getting his bare stomach. "Sorry?" he repeated, passing the back of his hand over his heated face, trying to focus on where Stephen was standing. "I didn't know...what do you normally do?"

"Well, not that!" exclaimed Stephen, redoing his clothes in a flurry of buttons.

"So do you have lube or...." (Stephen fixed him with a furious glare.) "...um, did I just kill the mood?"

"Yes!" Stephen stormed off in a wide arc across the carpet, looking for his socks. "You murdered it. In cold blood. The mood is deader than Herman Cain's presidential aspirations, and it's your fault. And I'm going home."

"Stephen...wait."

Stephen stopped. Partly to hear Jon out, and partly because he had reached for what he thought was a sock and ended up with one of the bulldogs' chew toys. The rest of the search was going to have to be indefinitely suspended until he found his glasses.

"Stay. Please stay." Jon was sitting back on his heels now, arms crossed and shoulders just slightly hunched. And the way he tilted his head, oh hell, there had to be some kind of class he took for that because there was no way that level of shy-and-adorable just came naturally. "We don't have to do anything. We can just talk...I've got a couple of extra toothbrushes somewhere...I'll throw in a totally nonsexual backrub if you want. The bed's big. Stay the night."

There was never any doubt about Stephen's answer. Getting to wake up in the morning with Jon beside him? Heaven.

Still, he didn't want Jon to get the idea that he was easy. "It'll be a really good backrub, right?"

Jon's eyes brightened. "The best I've got."


*


Stephen's house was full of news. Television and radio broadcasts filled the air; his phone kept tabs on the Internets, chiming every so often to announce a Google alert on "stephen colbert gay". He hadn't worked up the nerve to read any of those yet. At least it was a comfort that they were on the decline.

The Factor came on as he cooked dinner (throwing a frozen pizza in the oven totally counted as cooking, shut up), soothing in its wide-ranging topicality and general Rightness, until he heard his own name.

"...in five years, are there going to be any straight people left in news? Now, folks, I have no problem with the gays. You know that, I know that. But you, the American public, deserve a mainstream perspective, and that means no minority group should be overrepresented. Especially in a case like this, where you've got one of them promoting the other, and only later admitting that they've been sleeping together for an undisclosed amount of time! I admire Mr. Stewart, he's a respected colleague and we get along, and of course Mr. Colbert has been a loyal supporter, which we at the Factor thank him for. But part of my duty is to keep this business honest, for the sake of you, the viewer. But then: that's just my opinion. We'll be right back."

When Jon arrived (he'd had a spare key for years; the guards at the community gate knew to let him in), he found Stephen tearfully hauling copies of O'Reilly's books to a garbage can in the back yard. The sky was darkening with an upcoming storm; the burned pizza sat forgotten and smoking on the stovetop.

"Papa Bear doesn't respect me!" he wailed, as Jon shepherded him back into the living room, turning off two televisions and a radio along the way. "He didn't say so himself!"

"Shh," crooned Jon, steering him toward the loveseat. Outside the French doors, a couple of trees rocked wildly as the wind grew stronger. "O'Reilly says...uh, or doesn't say...a lot of things. It's posturing for ratings, that's all. You can't put too much stock in his pandering."

"I know he panders!" cried Stephen, grabbing Jon's T-shirt and shaking him. "He's just not pandering to me any more!"

"He's never pandered to you," said Jon sharply, wrapping his hands around Stephen's wrists with surprising strength. "Maybe he thought he was, but it wasn't honest. Because you've never been straight, have you?"

The question made Stephen's knees buckle. He hit the couch hard, pulse fluttering.

He had thought he was straight, because that was what people were. Then he had figured he was gay, because he didn't have the feelings for women that a straight man was supposed to have. Then he'd gone back to assuming he was straight, because he didn't have the feelings for men that a gay man was supposed to have, at least judging by the relevant VHS tapes he'd managed to swipe. On the other hand, he hadn't exactly not liked those tapes...and he could have happily spent the rest of his life with his hands in Jon's...and that did mean something, right?

"Stephen? Are you okay?"

"I was never straight," said Stephen out loud, testing the words.

Jon put a hand on his thigh and squeezed reassuringly. "Welcome to the club, babe."

The first few drops of rain spattered against the glass. Stephen stared through them with shaken awe. Not straight. It was something. And it felt...Right.

Which meant he was really screwed if he couldn't get the hang of this gay thing.

He refocused on Jon's hand against his leg, as if seeing it for the first time. Then...he balked.

"Jon," he said sternly, "are you trying to take advantage of this moment of great personal vulnerability to get into my pants?"

"What? ...No!" Jon pulled his hands away, holding them up in a protestation of innocence. "Sex, here, now? Last thing on my mind. I swear."


*


In an old sweatshirt and with his hair curling every which way, Jon still looked surprisingly natural behind the j-shaped desk. Sam, who had watched him learn to pull it off over the years, had yet to understand why he hadn't just smartened up his look in the first place. She was in a nice coral blouse and a pair of pressed pants, because in her opinion "it's only rehearsal" was no excuse to look like a slob, young man.

"By the way," she said, leaning in over the scribbled-to-death script while the camera crew replaced a bust lens, "congratulations on the...."

And she launched into a series of gestures that to Jon vaguely resembled a rabbit shadow puppet, holding a bike's handlebars, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and two variations on jazz hands, all the while vocalizing something that sounded like a rusty door hinge being knocked around by a tornado.

"I'm guessing you're referring to Stephen?" ventured Jon at last.

"Whoa there," said Sam, cutting him off. "Is there someone else you would be doing...." She mimed the handlebars again. "...with?"

"What? No! I mean, y'know, assuming that's...yeah. No. Say, is that a new haircut?"

Sam, her hard-nosed journalistic instincts activated in spite of Jon's cunning misdirection just then, squinted at him like a suspicious ferret. "Jon, you have not once commented on my hair in ten years, and that includes the week when my three-year-old accidentally turned it blue. What are you hiding?"

"Nothing! It's fine. Everything is perfectly fine! We're taking it slow, that's all. Absolutely nothing you need to worry about."

"Take your time with that lens, boys!" hollered Sam to the camera crew, before snapping back to the impromptu huddle. "How slow are we talking, here? Turtle slow? Glacier slow? Surely not cat-in-a-sunbeam slow."

"Whichever one means plenty of making out, but that we haven't, uh," Jon did a couple seconds of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, "yet."

"No!" breathed Sam, thankfully hushed. "Have you at least...?" She did one of the jazz-hands motions.

"Um...what's that supposed to be, again...?"

"Trust me, if you'd done it, you'd know." Sam chewed on her bottom lip, surveying him. "You think it's your aftershave?"

Jon sat up straighter. One hand went self-consciously to his face, pressing against the line of his jaw. Was his skin rougher than it should be? More irritated? Did it smell weird? "What's wrong with my aftershave?"

"Nothing that I can tell. I was just wondering if that's what you thought."

"Thank you for the help," said Jon with finality. "Are you guys done over there?"

"Ready and in position," confirmed Tim, snapping a loose but well-meaning salute. "Expressive miming you two had going there. You think we could work it into a bit some time?"


*


In Stephen's spacious upstairs bathroom, with two marble sinks and half a dozen vases of fake wildflowers, Jon opened the cabinets one by one and counted the rows of hygeine, skin care, and hair care products. He tried at first to weed out duplicates, then, after realizing that a pair of pale-red tubes he'd had pegged as identical were in fact different by a single word ("apple and cucumber" versus "apple and lavender"), given it up as beyond his powers of observation.

The final total was eighty-seven. It was enough to make his eyes cross.

Well, when in doubt, ask the experts. "Stephen!" hollered Jon through the door. "If I were going to borrow a couple of your hygeine products — like maybe two, three tops — which would you recommend?"

His boyfriend came charging through the door in record time. "I would recommend none of them, because you should get your own! What did you touch?"

"Nothing!" cried Jon. "I was just looking! I figured you'd be a good place to start if I wanted to get into...." He waved vaguely at the pantheon of multicolored bottles, all plastered with brand names and/or portraits of beautiful alabaster-skinned women photoshopped within an inch of their lives. "...this stuff."

Stephen's indignation melted away, replaced with the kind of fawn-eyed look he usually reserved for the sparklier kind of tiaras. "Jon? Does this mean you might let me give you...a makeover?"

If Jon had been starting to entertain any doubts that Stephen enjoyed the gayer things in life in the first place, they were all promptly shooed out the door and not invited back. "...yes?"

With a squeal of delight, Stephen grabbed him in a bear hug. "I thought you'd never ask!"


*


Really, the Jon that walked down the red carpet was at least 35% more dapper than the one from the past couple of years. Also, more refreshingly mango-scented, which Stephen made a point of highlighting to the reporter from E! who caught them with a microphone. The television audience might not be able to fully appreciate it, but that didn't mean they didn't deserve to know.

"That's such a sweet couple thing for you to do with each other," gushed the reporter, who was wearing more glitter than an elementary school craft project. "Do you have any other fun relationship ideas to share with our viewers?"

"Well," deadpanned Jon, "I've always found that spanking for misbehavior is a great...." Stephen punched him in the shoulder; he shut up.

"Uh-huh. Uh-huh, sure. So, are you thinking of moving in together? Or would that be too much comedic wackiness under one roof?"

"Wacky?" demanded Stephen. "Who's wacky? Jon has his little jokes, sure, but I am a straight-laced traditional newsman."

Jon coughed. "For certain values of 'straight'."

"Speaking of which! Jon, if you do end up with Stephen for good, what do you have to say to all the legions of women who will be getting their hearts broken?"

"Um," said Jon. "You get that even being with a woman wouldn't mean being with all women, right? Honestly, if this," he waved his hand around the general area of his face, "was your life's goal, I'm pretty sure that at least three of you, if not all four, were going to be sorely disappointed."

"And Stephen! Now that the long mystery of your sex life has been settled—"

"What's that?" said Stephen loudly. "I think I hear Steve Carell calling us! Come on, Jon."

"I love your shows!" called the E! reporter after them as Stephen hauled Jon in a random direction through the crowd.


*


Under the hot spray of his own shower, Jon massaged into his scalp a round of shampoo from a tube he was afraid to look too closely at. Under the salon-brand logo he had spotted things he weren't sure were words, including "kunzea" and "vetiver", plus a disconcerting mention of "walnut shells".

He was weighing the pros and cons of having a quick toss, in the British sense (pro: it would save him the discomfort later when Stephen wanted to make out without going farther; con: it would be shooting himself in the foot later if tonight was the night Stephen finally let him past second base), when there was a muffled knock and an even more muffled voice. "Jon? Can I come in?"

"Sure!" said Jon, too loudly. He pulled back the leaf-patterned curtain just enough for his head to peek out as Stephen shuffled across the bathroom carpet. "Do you need something?"

"I was thinking." Stephen rocked from one heel to the other. He'd been firmly embedded under the covers when Jon got up to take the first shower, and was still in the T-shirt and boxers he'd slept in, arcs of hair sticking up from his part line. "Would it be okay if I joined you?"

Jon's face split into a grin. "Oh, more than okay."

"Great!" Stephen shucked off his shirt, then clutched it self-consciously in front of his chest. "That was supposed to be a code, by the way. One of those sex codes. Did you get that?"

"I had a feeling, yeah."

"And...is it okay that I'm not stripping? I mean, not in a fancy way? Because I don't really know how to do that...."

"Stephen. Babe. You don't have to audition here. You've already got me." Jon raised his eyebrows. "No pressure once you get in here either, okay? First times are meant for screwing up. C'mon." He held out one dripping arm and beckoned Stephen in.

When Jon finally got his first sight of the whole of his boyfriend, he could perhaps be forgiven for not holding back. Stephen's skin was winter-pale, but flushed in all the right places, and what Jon had deduced from touch was confirmed: his on-air boasts of ballsiness had never been exaggerated. And if he wasn't exactly at full mast yet, well, Jon was going to need a minute to get there too. Less, now that he had soapy hands running all over Stephen's torso.

Stephen's mouth on his was hesitant; he pulled away to look down between them. "I don't have to sit on that thing, do I?"

Jon bit back a giggle. "I was thinking we'd start with blowjobs, and work from there."

"'Kay," said Stephen, and sank into a crouch before Jon could offer to go first.

On his knees against the porcelain, shielded from the falling water by Jon's body, he pursed his lips and studied his target. His tongue darted out once, slowly pulled back in. Dark eyes met Jon's.

"What do you like?"

Hanging on to the shower bar for dear life, Jon told him. In detail.

Which was how Stephen ended up furiously gagging and spitting, gargling mouthfuls of water from above and spitting again. Jon plastered himself against the wall, trying to give him space. "Sorry, sorry! Didn't mean to — it wasn't mandatory, you can pull off next time before — I'm so sorry."

"Is it always like that?" moaned Stephen, wiping his tongue on one hand, clinging to the rim of the tub with the other. "I mean, is this the first warning indicator that you have a noxious diet and possibly cancer of the scrotum, or were you planning the whole time to knowingly and maliciously inflict that on my mouth?"

"It's kind of an acquired taste," admitted Jon. "I swear, if I'd known you weren't used to it...."

He paused. Twisted the water off. Sat on the edge of the tub and gazed at Stephen until the last of the water glugged insistently down the drain.

"Stephen? Have you not blown a guy before?"

Stephen sat back on his heels, shifty-eyed. "What gave it away?"


*


It was, in the end, another tabloid that changed everything.

Stephen was supposed to be getting dressed for the party Jon was taking him to. Not a full costume deal, but masks and/or hats were encouraged. Instead, his giant sparkly Mardi Gras mask with purple glitter and peacock feathers was waiting patiently on an end table, while he paced back and forth with the cover clutched in sweating hands. COMEDY COUPLE'S UNFUNNY SHOCKER! read the bright yellow text above their figures.

He hadn't gotten up the nerve to read the article. His publicist had advised him that it was some kind of lurid speculation about cheating and illicit substances that wasn't worth the trouble of rebutting. What she hadn't let him know, what he hadn't realized until he grabbed the thing off a newsstand three blocks from his studio, was that the photographer at least had managed to capture something genuinely wrong.

The image found him and Jon in coats and scarves, stepping off a New York curb. Jon had a coffee in one hand, the other using a gentle touch at Stephen's waist to guide him around a grimy puddle. It was the kind of dashing, gentlemanly move Stephen had always daydreamed about, right up there with producing single long-stemmed roses at opportune moments.

So of course, instead of being able to enjoy it, he had panicked. Is this a move? If I like it, will that be code for yes-take-me-now? If I don't, will he be upset? And it showed. All over his tiny ink-splotched face.

In the present, Jon was oblivious as he let himself in. "Stephen? You in here?" he called down the front hall.

Stephen leaned on the back of a low armchair, dizzy. The tabloid flopped onto the cushion in a heap.

He was facing away from the door, but a well-placed mirror picked up the reflection of Jon's pirate hat and lopsided eyepatch a moment before he leaned in. "How's it going? Think you're about ready?"

"I don't want to have sex with you!" yelped Stephen.

"Stephen, relax. I was talking about the party, not the, uh...."

"I don't mean right this second," said Stephen, before Jon could think up a cutsey euphemism for his whole I am living a Steve Carell movie situation. "I mean ever. At all. Indefinitely."

"Oh," said Jon.

Stephen's heart was thumping like a bass section. Hang a glowstick around his neck and he could have been a one-man rave.

"It's not you," he tried. "It isn't! You're a very handsome man! It's—"

"Stephen. It's okay. You don't have to coddle me here." Jon tried to laugh, shifting into a tone he probably would have described as "light" and Stephen would have called "weak." "Good thing we didn't go the full Ellen, huh? Jump into your first post-coming-out relationship like a fifteen-year-old, convinced that breakups only happen to those other losers, but you, you're gonna be in love forever...."

"I don't want to break up with you!"

"...What?"

Enough with this soap-opera talking-over-the-shoulder nonsense. Stephen turned and looked Jon full in the face (good, the eyepatch had gotten flipped up at some point), taking a bracingly wide stance in his curly-toed shoes. "Why can't we just forget about the plan to get sexier eventually, but do everything else exactly the same? Would that really be so weird?"

"You mean, go back to being friends."

"No!" said Stephen. Loudly, to cover up the fact that he didn't know what he did mean.

Jon pressed his fingers up under the brim of the tricorner, massaging his temples. "But...you don't want me."

"I want you," hedged Stephen. "I just...I don't want...."

"...sex," finished Jon. "Okay, I think we may be talking past each other here. When you use that word...I mean, different couples can have way different sex lives, and when it's two guys you really can't assume...like, if it's the prospect of anal that's freaking you out, lots of men don't like it, that doesn't even have to be on the table...What is it that you don't like?"

"You know...sex things." Stephen tried to sum it all up in an evocative, wide-ranging gesture. He ended up doing the Itsy Bitsy Spider. "Having your mouth all over someone tastes weird, putting things in other people's orifi can't be sanitary — it really can't, Jon! — and it's sticky and it smells funny and...I could touch you there, maybe, if you wanted? But what if we just cuddled? And I rubbed your neck when it got stiff, and you took my arm to walk me places, and sometimes we kissed? I — I know it's not normal, but...!"

"Stephen, honey, no." Jon's face had softened; he shrugged off his coat and put it over the nearest chair, then closed a few steps of the distance between them. "It's a little unusual, yeah, but it happens."

"Really?" sniffled Stephen.

"Really." His lopsided smile was so warm, bright eyes full of care and possibility. "Dated a guy like you for about a year in the nineties. Some people, any kind of sexual contact with other people just doesn't do it for them. It's totally fine if you don't want to do anything more involved than jerk off togeth—"

"I am a freak!" wailed Stephen, and buried his crumpled face in his hands as if that would keep Jon from noticing him sobbing.


*


With Stephen half on top of Jon, and Jon's arms locked around him, the loveseat was just big enough for both of them.

Jon's halfhearted attempt at a costume had been abandoned to the same chair as his coat. He couldn't imagine them making it to the party now, or wanting to. Too much emotional whiplash, and, in Stephen's case, too much swelling and redness around the eyes.

"So you don't even, you know, get yourself off," he said presently, carding through Stephen's hair in the most nonjudgmental way he knew how.

"Uh-uh," sniffled Stephen. His head was tucked under Jon's chin, the deaf side pressed against Jon's chest next to the damp splotch that had spread across today's grey T-shirt. One arm was crammed between their bodies while the other hung on to Jon's torso like a life preserver.

"Sorry if this is a stupid question, but have you tried?"

Stephen's fingers dug into his side. It was a good thing he wasn't ticklish. "It was boring. Kept at it. Started chafing. Then Babylon 5 came on and I got sidetracked."

"Well, I can see how you would be, with...with that sexy...okay, that joke was doomed from the start, I don't know anything about Babylon 5." Except that it had aired in the '90s. And while that decade was no longer as recent as he felt like it should be, it was long after what could (should?) have been Stephen's furiously sexual teenage years. "Did it just not occur to you earlier?"

"Told us in church you weren't supposed to do it," admitted Stephen. "Used to think I was blessed, or something. Didn't figure out until later you were supposed to want to do it."

Jon allowed himself a smile at the image of a proud teenage Stephen, piously resisting the temptation he didn't feel in the first place. It sobered as his brain started trying to estimate how long he himself would last with sex off the table.

How far would his own hand get him? Would Stephen be okay providing handjobs, maybe even a better-planned redux of their ill-fated shower tryst, or would they leave him desperately unhappy? And even if those relieved the physical side of things, would they really fulfill the whole package (so to speak)? If the gap grew insurmountable, would he tolerate Jon having affairs, flings, one-night stands in order to fill it?

And how much did he love Stephen that he was plotting out this elaborate sequence of backup plans at all, rather than cutting his losses to jump back in the dating pool?

"'M sorry," said Stephen.

"Shh. Nothin' to be sorry for," soothed Jon, rubbing his shoulders. "Am I the first person you've talked to about this?"

Stephen swallowed. "Uh-huh."

"Okay." Jon toyed with the shock of hair that swept back from Stephen's temples, where the earpieces of his glasses normally crimped it out of shape. "There are a couple things I want you to do for me, all right? I want you to make an appointment with your GP. Tell them everything. If there's something physical going on here, or if it's a symptom of something else...you should at least rule that out."

A tentative nod against his chest.

"And if that doesn't turn up anything...listen, don't take this the wrong way, but you got fed some screwed-up stuff about sexuality as a kid, and even aside from this whole deal it's left you with some, uh...."

"Issues?" suggested Stephen.

"Yeah. And let's face it, thirty-year-old bachelor's in psychology notwithstanding, I'm out of my depth here." That got him a slight laugh, at least. "Which is why I want you to see a therapist."

Stephen sniffled, but didn't protest.

"Doesn't need to be indefinitely or anything. Just sign up for a short run. It would be worth trying to tackle this stuff anyway, and if you've got a standard sex drive buried underneath it, dealing with some of those hangups might be the kick it needs to show up."

In a tiny, fragile voice, Stephen said, "And what if all of this doesn't fix me?"

"Stephen. Honey." Jon pressed a kiss to the crown of his head. "I love you. I want to stay with you as long as is humanly possible. And if this is just how you are, then there's nothing to fix."


*


The correspondents were circled up for last-minute poll-number-recitation exercises, the director was running one last check on graphics, and the audience was beginning to file in to a studio bedecked in election regalia. A writer for one of the Comedy Central promotional blogs was flitting from group to group, chatting with people when appropriate but not interrupting anybody's work.

Jon was circled up with some of the actual-show writers, evidently trying to think up a whole new set of swing-state jokes in the ten minutes before they went live. Stephen had to physically drag him away to make him relax.

"It's mostly your audience anyway," he pointed out. "You don't have to make jokes at all. You just have to say 'yes we can' every time Obama wins something, and let them cheer until you've run out the clock."

"I like to think we have more standards than that," said Jon.

He was mollified by Stephen cuddling his arm and smelling his hair. "Mmm. Kunzea-fresh."

"Oh, good. What exactly is kunzea, anyway?"

"Beats me."

"You two look pretty comfortable," put in the blogger. She was trying for casual but coming off way too perky. Probably one of those young-student socially-liberal jobs-bill-loving Obama fangirls. "All ready to hit the stage?"

"Couldn't be readier," said Jon promptly. "Everyone here has done a tremendous job."

"Do you think Romney has a chance?"

Jon raised his eyebrows. "I think, c'mon, we'll all know in an hour. Can I answer any questions that the Internets will still care about by the time you actually blog this?"

"How do you think tonight's election results will affect your relationship?"

Before Jon could spit out some publicist-approved pablum, Stephen threw an arm around his shoulder. "Put it this way," he said importantly. "If Obama wins, this man is not getting laid tonight."

Jon burst out laughing, and tried to shove Stephen and hug him back at the same time.

And if the tussling left their ties less than straight, their suits a bit rumpled — if they stepped out into the studio with Stephen's face flushed and Jon still trying to catch his breath — and if viewers raised their eyebrows, and whispered to their seatmates, and jumped to conclusions about what had gone down backstage...who cared? They clearly had an eye for the deeper levels of Truth, to recognize a couple in love when they saw it.
silvercat17: Animated gif of the original Batwoman and Batman kissing and the original Bat-girl and Robin kissing (kisses)

[personal profile] silvercat17 2012-10-02 09:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I should not have read that at work. It's a good thing we're all in cubicles so no one could see the grinning. That was awesome.

Found a typo for you though: "I don't mean right this second," said Stephen, before Jon could think up a cutsey euphemism for his whole I am living a Steve Carell move situation. - pretty sure you meant movie there.

(Anonymous) 2012-10-03 09:07 am (UTC)(link)
Also, from the way Wyatt pumped his fist and was about to cheer before Aasif elbowed him into silence, Jon had a feeling a betting pool had just been won.

This, along with the "Jon's chest is like a bear rug" thing, made me laugh out loud. That was great :D.

I also particularly loved the "first/second date" conversation, and the E! bit, and poor Stephen's reaction when O'Reilly made his comments.

The whole thing was sweet, though-Jon's patience through it all, Stephen's nervousness-I love how you slowly eased them into their relationship, and how believable they were throughout. Very cute story, it made me smile.

[personal profile] knightsblack 2012-10-05 05:59 am (UTC)(link)
Agh, sorry about that, I completely forgot about changing that-I didn't mean it to come out as an anon comment. But yeah, finally went ahead and just set up a DW account to save me trouble down the line :).

I thought your smarmy O'Reilly turned out eerily accurate, yes. I always like it in stories when people get that sort of detail right.
paperfacesonparade: (jon and Stephen)

[personal profile] paperfacesonparade 2012-10-05 01:46 am (UTC)(link)
I can't tell you how much I appreciate this story. It's just nice and sweet and it makes me feel normal. The joke at the end sounds exactly like the jokes me and my boyfriend-but-not-really-just-call-us-exclusive-BFF's-fo-sho make all the time!

michelel72: (DS-Quote-TeachToCow)

[personal profile] michelel72 2012-10-09 05:41 am (UTC)(link)
Aww, this is very sweet. Great character voices.
kribban: (Default)

[personal profile] kribban 2012-10-13 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Jon had a line about it in his standup routine, added in 1998 and unchanged ever since: Because nobody likes a picky eater.

Okay, explain the joke to me, please. :)

I love how you write their courtship, and how insistant Stephen is that things is done the right way. That he makes the attempt to have shower sex to make Jon happy is very touching but sad at the same time.

"And...is it okay that I'm not stripping? I mean, not in a fancy way? Because I don't really know how to do that...."

Aww, Stephen, you're so adorable in your awkwardness I want to hug you.

Their whole relationship is written really sweetly, with the little touches and displays of affection. And of course Stephen is swooned by gentlemanly gestures.

Your Bill voice was perfect. Although I'm not sure he would care that much any longer since the situation with Ellen and JC Penney.

I like how Jon asks Stephen to get checked out to rule out an mental or physical problems, but if he is truely asexual than it's okay.

There is so much cuddling in this! I heartily approve. <3

The ending is very funny. Is the blogger supposed to be an author's cameo?

They clearly had an eye for the deeper levels of Truth, to recognize a couple in love when they saw it.

Awww. I hope they turn out okay.








Edited 2012-10-13 20:59 (UTC)
karmageddon: (Default)

[personal profile] karmageddon 2012-11-21 03:53 am (UTC)(link)
Love this! Thank you.