ptahrrific: Jon and Stephen, "Believe in the me who believes in you" (fake news)
Erin Ptah ([personal profile] ptahrrific) wrote2011-11-21 12:03 am
Entry tags:

Fake News: Castles in the Sand, part 3

Title: Castles In The Sand (3/10)
Rating: PG-13
Pairings/Characters: Olivia/Kristen, Jon/c!Stephen, Tad, Amy, Allison, Buttons, Alan
Warnings: Foreplay, tumbling (literal)
Disclaimer: 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.

Silphium is (or was) a real plant, although the magical AU version is slightly different. The ship's doctor can be seen in this clip.

Amazing beta job by [personal profile] queenfanfiction. Decorative capitals by Daily Drop Cap. Chapter index: Table of Contents

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For the record (wrote Stephen, in Gi Foarese), the crew of the H.M.S. Report:

Captain: Allison Silverman, old friend of Jon's. Does not mind being called a scurvy sea dog as long as it's in the right spirit.

First Mate: Robert "Bobby" Drysdale. Personally feels that "Robert" would be a more seamanly appellation, but nobody calls him that.

First Mate's Mysterious Sister: A woman referred to only as "Becky." Has not actually been seen on ship for years. For reasons unknown, nobody seems bothered by this.

Navigator: Theodore "Tad" Somethingorother. Sometimes wears an eyepatch because he likes the look. Also, has sun-bronzed skin and russet curls that fall to his shoulders has fuller lips than Jon's might not have fuller lips than Jon's, I should get them up close to each other and check AAAAAAAAUGH seems very nice.

Air Mage: Amy "Dammit, Amy!" Sedaris. Makes sure we have a nice headwind. Rumor has it she can keep the ship upright in the middle of a typhoon, although you know these sailor types, they'll exaggerate everything. Possibly hoisting Tad's mast. Also: SHE CAN FLY.

Doctor: Buttons. A were-human, as I only learned after I attempted to pick him up and cuddle him. The others swear he's board-certified. Also keeps ship free of rats.

Cook: Alan Somethingelse. Hides out in galley. Suspect he is embarrassed that special chef hat will not fit properly over even moderate 'fro.

Other: Meg Whatever and Jay Notimportant. Not sure what they do, to be honest. Possibly around to keep Allison's boots clean.

The owner is one Percy Kittens Winsome, hereafter "sir no-longer-appearing-in-this-log." Has agreed to risk losing ship and entire above-named crew on possibly dangerous venture in exchange for the right to affix my and Olivia's signatures (together or separately) to select items of Ring Saga merchandise until we return. Or, in the event of our deaths, indefinitely. The terms of this contract have been dispatched by bluebird to Central for John Hodgman to enforce.

Sometimes I wish Hodgman were here. Then Jon would have someone else to help him do his stupid crossword puzzles.

More later. Olivia's being sick again.

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Clearly, Olivia had done the ocean some grave insult in a past life.

The doctor had sniffed her breath, licked his paws thoughtfully, and prescribed a vial of something that tasted like overripe cherries and cut the seasickness down by half. It was still often enough that her companions were taking it in shifts to hold back her hair as she leaned over the railing and bring her a cup of fresh water afterwards.

If Olivia's misery had a bright spot, it was that it distracted Kristen from her own. Captain Silverman had lent Olivia her cabin, with a more substantial bed than the cramped bunks belowdeck; and it was here that Kristen spent much of her time, rubbing Olivia's back, reading books aloud (skipping any sections with detailed descriptions of food), or just talking.

"Look on the bright side," she said one evening after dinner. "At least you won't have to worry about cramps."

"I guess it could be worse," admitted Olivia. "Why don't we use silphium back home, anyway?"

"Um, the way Buttons explained it was that it likes the sea, and refuses to work if you take it inland."

"So magic plants are divas. Good to know." Olivia sipped at the cup of plain chicken stock Kristen had brought, praying it wouldn't come right back up. "There's a fortune waiting for the first person who figures out how to talk it down. Or freeze-dry it, or something."

Kristen smoothed back Olivia's tangled hair. Another thing the sea didn't agree with: over the past week it had steadily lost its sheen, becoming dry and rough. "Good luck. I think half the wizards in the country have tried."

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Eight letters, second one 'm'. Clue is 'Eggs-cellent breakfast.'"

Stephen slouched in his bunk and tried not to feel ungrateful. He knew his vocabulary still needed work, to say nothing of his spelling. Still, he couldn't bring himself to be nearly as enthusiastic about the book of crosswords as Jon was. (Plus, the enclosed below-decks cabin was making him antsy.)

"It would probably help if you saw the clue," said Jon, tapping his pen against the book, which was spread across the table bolted below the porthole. "It's a pun on 'eggs' and—"


"No, that doesn't have an 'm' in it. But—"

Stephen waited patiently for Jon's ears to catch up with his mouth. When they did, he met Jon's look of surprise with an invitingly raised eyebrow.

"You're not offering just to make me forget about the crossword, are you?" asked Jon, only half joking.

Rather than try to convince him in words, Stephen imagined, in quick succession, all the thoroughly filthy things he felt like doing with Jon. In the bunk. Over the table. Against the sharply curving wall. On what passed for a floor. Holding all these things in his mind, arching ever so slightly against the mattress, he purred, "Jon."

He didn't have to elaborate. Jon got the message.

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Steel flashed across the lower deck, in arcs both smooth (Allison's blade) and wobbly (Jon's). The sight held Stephen riveted, though he stuck to the base of the rigging, where he knew the sparring partners would stay well clear.

"She's cheating," he said under his breath, as Allison scored yet another point with the flat of her blade. "Or you're cheating," he added, pointing accusingly to the air bunny floating a few meters above. "Are you doing something to the winds? Blowing Jon over?"

"Oh, honey, that's all him," smirked Amy, landing on the ropes with perfect balance. "Poor baby hasn't gotten his sea legs yet."

"It isn't that hard," protested Stephen. (On the lower deck, Jon lost his footing and went flying, barely managing to keep his sword.)

"Maybe you just have a knack for keeping your feet on shifting ground. Hey, let's test your balance! Can you do a handstand?"

"Why would I?"

His blank confusion made Amy giggle. "You're so serious! It's cute, but come on, haven't you ever tried something just because it was there? Besides, if you're any good, Tad and I just might teach you to tumble."


"What's 'to tumble'?"

"Oh, now, that's just sad." Amy soared upwards again, addressing the figure in the crow's nest well above them. "Tad! Get your lazy butt down here and let's show this man how it's done!"

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Kristen's pride must have chafed something fierce at the idea of serving bread that someone else had burned. When Olivia asked for toast, it was the cook himself who brought it in.

"Without a doubt, the finest toast I have ever tasted," she declared after a cautious nibble. Okay, it was a far cry from pie, but it was better than nothing. "Can't wait until I've adjusted enough to try your take on plain ramen."

Alan looked less amused than she had hoped. "Ms. Munn...hasn't anyone told you?"

"Told me what? Do you not have ramen? Because that wasn't the important part."

"Told you that you're not going to have time to adjust," said Alan. "You're staying behind on the Eagles."

"What? No!" Olivia sat bolt upright, realized the flaw in this plan, and leaned slowly back against the pillow. "You can't just strand me on some islands I've never even been to!"

"Of course not! We won't sail on until you've been safely booked on a ride back, and your friends will send a bluebird to Central to get someone to pick you up. The two gentlemen might even be convinced to come with you. There's nothing after the Eagles except open ocean, and that's not going to care one way or another if we're carrying a knight."

"You still can't do this. I promised Kristen I would come with her."

Alan shook his head. "Promises or not, it's the Captain's decision. I'm sorry, but we just can't afford to take you. Maybe if Amy were a water mage...."

That gave Olivia pause, until she thought it through. "I'm going through twice my share of fresh water, aren't I."

"Something like that."

And while the current leg of their journey was short enough that they had plenty to spare, they couldn't possibly haul enough extra water to the End of the World and back just to accomodate one queasy freeloader who wasn't required to come.

"Okay, I see the problem," said Olivia, and silently vowed to beat the seasickness if it was the last thing she did.

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Blue waves splashed at the edge of the little skiff, while Stephen trailed his fingers in the salt water and stared with awe into the depths. He could see flashes of green and gold somewhere below, a shoal of fish that could have been the size of his hand or as big as the boat for all his depth perception could figure out. "What are those?"

"Green cory," replied Amy, who was perched at the bow of the skiff with a skein of knitting. "A kind of catfish."

"And how big are they?"

"Couple of inches."

Stephen's enthusiasm was diminished, but only briefly, when he caught sight of—could it be?—a real live jelly! Iridescent blue bell with dozens of trailing threads. "What's that?"

"A rain jelly. Those are about two feet long."

Stephen stared. He had never seen one of these creatures outside of books, not even filleted and soaked in tartar sauce, let alone drifting along the currents like it had no idea it was beautiful.

A sense of eyes on the back of his neck made him turn, to see Jon leaning over the Report's railing high above. "Hi, Jon! Hi!" he called, waving. "There are fish! Come down and see!"

"I can fly you down," added Amy, as Jon hesitated. "Ain't no trouble."

"Sure," said Jon at last. The boat rocked with the weight change as Amy lifted off; Stephen crouched down against the curved wood, and got distracted by the rain jelly pulsing by, not an arm's length from the polished hull.

"Jon, look!" he urged, as the skiff wobbled again. "See? Isn't it perfect? Doesn't it look like it would be delicious dried and served with soy sauce?"

"Not where I expected that question to go," admitted Jon.

"They eat jellies in Gi Foar," explained Stephen. "Maybe Olivia knows how to cook them. Maybe she'd feel better if we got her some of the food she's used to. Can we catch it, Amy?"

"We can try," said the air mage reluctantly. "But I wouldn't—"

Stephen was already thrusting his arm into the water. It wasn't like the creature could run away, after all....

Seconds later he yanked back, suppressing a cry at the volley of stings that had shot up his forearm. The boat rocked wildly as he hit the far side; water sloshed and sprayed; Jon shouted his name. Amy just sighed.

"Hold your arm out straight," she ordered. "Don't touch the stung bits, don't rub it on anything, and next time listen when I'm talking, you hear?" Stephen nodded, biting down on his lip to distract from the pain. "Good. I'll be right back with some cream for that. Hang tight."

She swooped away, leaving Stephen to suspend his arm in the salt air and try not to count each lance of heat under his skin.

Jon's hand came to rest on his shoulder, squeezing hard. "I'm sure she'll be as fast as she can. Don't worry."

"Not worrying," lied Stephen through gritted teeth. "Doesn't hurt."

"Stephen, you're broadcasting the feeling in surround sound."

Sweat beading on his face, Stephen cringed. It wasn't fair! No matter how brave he was, he couldn't spare Jon the burden of sharing his pain.

"It's okay, babe." Jon took his elbow, supporting the weight of his burning forearm before it could get too heavy for him to hold up. "This is what I'm here for."

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Guiding the Report through its dead-of-night shift, Allison turned to accept her scheduled water ration from Meg and found instead that it was Jon, cup in hand. As long as he took it slow, his feet were steady enough that he didn't spill a drop.

"Couldn't sleep," he said by way of explanation. "Good match today, by the way. Thanks for that."

"Any time. How's your boyfriend doing with that sting?"

"Better since Amy fixed him up. I was afraid the ache would keep him from sleeping, and it did for a while, but he's out now."

"So 'boyfriend' is the right word, then," said Allison. "Are you ever going to tell me his story? Today was the longest I've seen him take his eyes off you."

"He's had some rough times." Jon leaned against the railing, watching faint white crescents lap at the hull below. "I don't want to go into it too much. This is his first chance to really meet people with no first impressions, you know?" Olivia was in a similar situation, of course, but only Stephen had pulled Jon aside early on and begged him to keep the details quiet. "But yeah, he and I...'partner' is the term he likes. We're partners."

"You ever going to become husbands?"

"Uh," stammered Jon. How to address that without explaining that a year ago Stephen hadn't had the legal standing to get married, or confessing that in some counties entering into a soulbond was an acceptable legal substitute for a ceremony, the ramifications of which he hadn't even thought about, let alone gotten Stephen's opinion on? "We haven't discussed it."


"That was an awfully heavy 'mm'."

"I'm surprised, is all," Allison hastened to assure him. "Not that it's my business, but as of the last time we talked, before the war, I kinda had the impression that you wanted kids."

"Hey, we can always adopt!" protested Jon. "I mean, uh...if we both decided to."

"Let me guess. You haven't discussed that either."

"We've had a lot to deal with," said Jon weakly.

"The performance?" guessed Allison. "Understandable. And worth it, if the reviews were any indication. Hardcore Ring Saga fans can be really nitpicky about their story."

"Hey, I grew up on Sea Wars, remember? If it's a good story, we get attached to it. But Stephen and Olivia are both long-time fans, and they had almost total creative control here, so they were going to make sure they did it justice."

"So he's a Commedien citizen of Vulpin heritage who has a longstanding familiarity with classical Gi Foarese literature." Downing the last of her water in a gulp, Allison scanned the horizon. "Sounds like your partner has quite the story of his own."

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Queen Lizz Winnstead's banner unfurled in the wind above the Report, the towers of the Castle emblazoned in purest white on a field bluer than the sky. Not that this was a high bar to clear, as the sky that day was stone-grey from horizon to horizon.

With Buttons' cautious approval Olivia downed the rest of the medicine bottle all at once. "Why didn't you prescribe this before?" she demanded half an hour later, after making an unsteady but un-nauseated circle of the deck, to the relief of all. "I feel great. Well, not quite, I'm still starving. But I think I could keep it down now."

"We had to ration what we had on board," said the doctor, long-furred white tail sweeping decisively across the wood. "Besides, it's not advisable to take such a high dose for any length of time. Side effects may include Davy Jones' lymph nodes, skull and crossed bones, and arrrrrthritis."

"Are you lecturing the landlubbers again?" demanded Amy, swooping down from above and scooping Buttons into her arms. "Don't let him get to you, Princess. He's a big ol' pussycat at heart, really."

"This is most undignified," huffed the doctor.


"Sure it is. Oh, what's this? What's this?" She flicked her fingers, sending a seagull feather swishing back and forth in the air mere feet from Buttons' nose. His green eyes locked onto it instantly. "You gonna get it? Get it!"

The doctor was already wriggling frantically in her grip. "Curse you," he hissed, and tore off after the prize the instant Amy let him go.

"Cute," said Olivia, turning to watch as he sped in frantic circles around them. The view above the chase was something of a shock: even the tallest mountains of the mainland had faded into the distance, leaving no land in sight except the looming peaks of the Eagle Islands. "Hey, can I ask you a huge favor?"

Amy wrinkled her nose. "You don't need it right away, do you? The Duchess is awfully picky about things like 'standing on ceremony' and 'not keeping her waiting' and 'not showing up with tartar sauce stains on your trousers'."

Olivia checked her pants just to be safe, though she hadn't been within throwing distance of tartar sauce for weeks. "I guess it can wait until after we get the formal stuff out of the way," she admitted. "Not to mention dinner."

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Allison could feel Stephen's eyes boring into the back of her skull as she and Jon led the procession up the dock, arm in arm. She would gladly have given him the spot, but only she as a captain had the rank to walk beside Jon without being too awkward. Even Olivia's princess status was in enough of a grey area not to risk it.

Ideally the knight would have led them on his own, but nobody wanted to risk him tripping over his own feet in the middle of approaching the Duchess, either.

A golden carriage drawn by four jet-black unicorns awaited them at the top of a short rise, with the Duchess on her own mount in front of the tableau and a circle of trumpet-wielding envoys standing at attention just in case they missed it. Jon's hard-earned sea-legs tried to throw him a couple of times; he clung to Allison's arm, took it slow, and managed not to topple before he deliberately knelt at the Duchess' feet. "Sir Jon Stewart, a knight in Her Majesty's service. Your Grace, we are honored to have you receive us."

"We're honored by your presence, Sir Stewart," said the Duchess Eleanor Holmes Norton, dismounting and allowing Jon to kiss her gold-ringed hand before bidding him rise. Her severely cropped dark hair and pressed lips painted a no-nonsense scarlet were belied by the twinkle in her eye. "Now let's get your people inside. Not one of you is going to be fit for dinner unless we can get you to stop smelling like fish."
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[identity profile] 2011-11-22 02:09 am (UTC)(link)
Journey on the high seas! You've really captured that feeling of swash-buckle and adventure. I have to admit I'm reading it for Jon/"Stephen", but I'm enjoying this new cavalcade of characters we're meeting for the first time in this 'verse and eager to read where you'll take Jon and "Stephen" next. Can't wait to see what happens next!
queenfanfiction: Jon/Stephen, Rally buildup shows, caption "believe in the me / that believes in you" (LateNight JS/SC believe)

[personal profile] queenfanfiction 2011-11-22 04:29 am (UTC)(link)
I would like to second everything Gaudy said because I am half-drunk on the tired and have attempted to write a coherent typo-less comment five times already without much success and add that I already know where this is going, and I still can't wait to see what happens next!
queenfanfiction: (Sherlock SH brilliant what)

[personal profile] queenfanfiction 2011-11-22 03:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Better story: IDK if you watch "Sherlock," but there's one part in the 1st ep where Sherlock goes on about no drunk's phone being without scratch marks around the charger port (from trying to plug it in with unsteady hands). I checked my phone, and IT HAS THE SCRATCH MARKS. I DON'T EVEN BLOODY DRINK. I am just really tired, apparently, lolsigh.