|Erin Ptah (ptahrrific) wrote,|
@ 2009-05-29 12:23 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||genre: drama, genre: hurt/comfort, pairing: alt!"stephen" & jon, series: fake news, story: liberalverse|
Warnings: Swearing, violence against tables, past violence against people, rage, some blood.
Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
Summary: I know, I know, I planned this to be a happy month. But sometimes you can't help being upset.
Trouble is, the alternate-universe liberal version of "Stephen" doesn't think he's allowed to be. No matter what happens with Proposition 8.
(Please be warned that this is all kinds of angry.)
A Modest Proposition
"Hi, Jon! Come on in!"
Jon did a double-take. He had come prepared for Stephen to be crushed, bringing organic apple muffins and a healthy sense of sympathetic anger. After all, Stephen never tried to hold back his tears, and for once Jon figured the man had a fantastic reason to be upset.
At the very least, there was absolutely no reason for him to be extra perky.
"You're not high, are you?" he asked uncertainly, as Stephen waved him inside.
"Unfortunately, no. But that could always change. Want to split a peace pipe with me?"
"I'll pass," said Jon, looking his friend up and down for signs of hidden distress.
Stephen looked about the way he usually did when the shows were on vacation, in designer pre-ripped jeans and a T-shirt with the logo of an alt-punk-rock band he didn't actually listen to. His hair was uncombed, his beard untrimmed, and he smelled faintly of tobacco, but that, too, was par for the course. If the man ever did let himself go, Jon wasn't sure he would be able to tell.
"Have you seen the news?" he continued, following Stephen through the beaded curtain into the parlor.
"Sure have," said Stephen cheerfully, sweeping a stack of poetry books (well-thumbed, but only because he had gotten them secondhand) and an ornate hookah off of the couch. "You heard about Sotomayor, right? She's going to be awesome on the court, isn't she?"
"She sounds very qualified, yes."
"She's Hispanic, Jon! And a woman! She doesn't need to be qualified!"
"That's...not how affirmative action works, Stephen."
To Jon's surprise, Stephen stopped fussing with things and looked up. Like he was actually taking what Jon said into consideration. "This is a thing, isn't it?" he said, brows furrowed. "Where it's trying not to be racist, but it actually is?"
"That's right," prompted Jon.
"Because...." Stephen stroked his beard thoughtfully. "Because Latinas are not interchangeable, and it doesn't respect her personal experience and hard work? Or because she's an individual, not a representative for everyone of her race? Or because it's exotifying to assume that being born Latina automatically imbues her with magical decision-rendering powers?"
"...I'm gonna have to say all of the above."
Stephen plopped down on the cleared couch, where Jon joined him. "You'd still rather have her than another old white guy, though, right?"
"Great!" exclaimed Stephen, cuddling up against Jon's side. "Can I have a muffin now?"
"You're not getting a muffin just for figuring that stuff out, Stephen."
"Why did you bring them, then, if you weren't going to share?"
"I was! I just—" Remembering his original purpose, Jon leaned back to stare at Stephen in disbelief. "Did you even hear about the decision in California?"
"Oh, that," said Stephen. "I forgave them."
His tone was just a little too quick, a little too light.
"You know what would go great with these?" he continued, one arm snaking around Jon and grabbing the muffins. "Fresh, home-grown organic zucchini."
Caught off-guard, Jon could only stutter, "Uh, why zucchini?"
"It's the only thing I've figured out how to grow."
Stephen's disconcerting nonchalance never wavered as he knelt across the coffee table from Jon, laid out a couple of healthy-looking vegetables and a cutting board, and started chopping.
"Aren't you the least bit upset?" blurted Jon, when he couldn't stand it any longer.
"It's not that big a deal, Jon," said Stephen, placing one of the muffins in the center of a plate and arranging the slices from the first zucchini artfully around it.
"Not a big—? Stephen, they're denying you your civil rights. Your human rights."
"We'll get them eventually. The facts are on our side. If we just keep explaining them, calmly and rationally, then everyone will come around sooner or later. Factiness, remember?"
"But it isn't fair that you need to justify yourselves in the first place."
Stephen shrugged. "Life is unfair."
"How can you just brush it off like that?"
"Calm down, Jon! It could be so much worse. California still has domestic partnerships. That's way ahead of a lot of states. New York, for instance."
"That doesn't make California any righter. It just makes New York wrong too."
"And New York's better than plenty of other places," countered Stephen, though his voice was starting to fray. "Sure, America came pretty close to turning into a fascist dictatorship under the Bush regime, but at least being gay has stayed legal!"
"That's your standard? It's okay if they treat you like less than human; you're just lucky they don't put you in jail for it?"
"We are lucky, Jon! It's such a privilege that we're even able to argue over things like whether to call same-sex partnerships 'marriages' or 'civil unions'. You know there are countries where they would kill me for having a gay relationship at all, no matter what I called it?"
"Stephen — someone tried to kill you! You were out with your boyfriend, and some bastards with a tire iron—"
"You think I don't know that?"
Jon jumped backwards so violently that he slammed against the back of the couch. As he shouted, Stephen had stabbed the knife down at the tabletop, its tip biting deep into the wood.
"You want me to get mad about California?" he went on, in a tone no longer frayed so much as snapped. "You want me to be angry that we're only allowed to get married there if we call it something else? I can't! Because if I don't forgive that, then I won't be able to forgive the fact that every day I have is borrowed time, that if luck had been on their side we would have died, that he hasn't returned my calls since the trial but I can still hear the way he screamed as they hit him!" His fist clenched low on the handle of the upturned knife. "I have to let these things go, Jon! If I start getting angry about them, I will never be able to stop!"
He broke off, shoulders heaving, eyes ablaze.
Jon hardly dared breathe.
"I've scared you," whispered Stephen at last, as the fires died down.
Jon swallowed, mouth dry. "Little bit."
A thin trickle of red ran down the blade.
"Stephen, your hand...."
For a moment Stephen just stared at the fist, as if he had forgotten that it was a part of him. Then he unclenched it with a start, breath catching at the gash on the heel of his palm.
Frightened as Jon was, instinct kicked in. "Let's get you cleaned up," he murmured.
While Stephen washed the cut, Jon picked through the bathroom cabinets for gauze.
"You see why I can't get angry?" said Stephen as he switched off the faucet.
It was almost too quiet to hear. Jon stopped his rummaging to listen more closely.
"I mean," continued Stephen, in a strained imitation of levity, "can you imagine what the world would be like if I was that way all the time? I'd probably be pulling weapons on my audience on a regular basis."
He tried to laugh. It broke halfway through.
Jon held out his arms. He had long ago learned that he couldn't come running every time Stephen shed a tear, but there was nothing superficial about the sobs that racked the man now.
Stephen kept his distance.
"Have to forgive them," he choked, arms drawn up against his chest, hands clutched together like a prayer. "Have to just — turn the other cheek — why can't I—?"
"My God, Stephen — there's got to be some clause about not having to turn the other cheek after they break your jaw."
"Isn't! And even if there was — can't be mad all the time — no one would listen — scare people — be a bad role model — lose you—"
"I'm not going anywhere," said Jon fiercely.
The outburst had shaken him, yes. But if he was going to jump ship because Stephen's fury ran deeper than expected, then he had no business encouraging it in the first place.
Stephen looked desperately up at him, eyes red and puffy. "Jon — I stabbed a table."
There was a horror in his voice far out of proportion to the words. As though they carried the weight of all the more unspeakable things that rage might lead him to do.
Jon swallowed. "It's just a table. You didn't hurt me, Stephen. You're not going to turn into them. I won't let you."
A fresh wave of sobbing hit Stephen as he finally accepted the embrace. At a loss for anything else to say, Jon rubbed soothing circles on Stephen's back, until the tears began to recede.
"'M sorry," mumbled Stephen at last, as he let go of his death grip on Jon's T-shirt.
"Take all the time you need."
"No, I mean...your shirt."
Jon followed his gaze. The still-unbandaged cut had left an angry red smear, standing out against the light grey fabric, though it was so much less than the blood that must have nearly vanished against the dark sidewalk.
"Forgive me?" pleaded Stephen faintly. As if Jon might be unpardonably wounded by a probably-washable stain on a cheap shirt.
Jon shook his head as he reached for the nearly-forgotten gauze. "There's nothing to forgive."