ptahrrific: Jon and Stephen, "Believe in the me who believes in you" (fake news)
Erin Ptah ([personal profile] ptahrrific) wrote2011-12-01 10:00 am
Entry tags:

Fake News: Castles In The Sand, part 6

Title: Castles In The Sand (6/10)
Rating: PG-13
Pairings/Characters: Olivia/Kristen, Jon/c!Stephen, c!Stephen/Amy (subtext), c!Stephen/Tad (also subtext), Buttons, (skip) Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres
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.

Makes reference to this clip.

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

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

Belowdecks was a hive of anxiety. Just when Stephen and Olivia had gotten used to being in tiny enclosed rooms with the knowledge that they could leave at any time, they were sent to the rearmost room and told not to leave.

"I should be up there," hissed Stephen, who was coping by pacing the length of the tiny cabin. "If Jon's going to be in a fight, I should be with him. It's not fair!"

Kristen snorted. "How do you think I feel? I'm the one who's been fighting at his side for ten years!"

"You're saying I'm less important because I haven't known him as long?" exclaimed Stephen. "That's what you just said. Your words, madam!"

"Can we not?" interrupted Olivia. She had Buttons in her arms, alternately petting and squeezing him, which added to her own comfort but didn't seem to be doing much for his. "Bad enough we have pirates coming after us without you two trying to take out each other."

The black flag had been spotted in the distance half an hour earlier. It was too far away to make out the details, but if the stolen cargo they dealt with included slaves...Stephen had frozen up at the thought, and Jon had promptly ordered him to go below (with the other useless people, he hadn't said, but Kristen knew what he meant), rather than risk a feedback loop that would incapacitate them both.

"Not my fault Stephen can't keep it together," said Kristen under her breath.

In Commedien she might have gotten away with it, but the conversation had wound up in Gi Foarese, and Stephen caught every word. "Well, it's not my fault you can't control your own magic!" he snapped back.

"CHANGING THE SUBJECT!" shouted Olivia, squeezing Buttons so hard he let out an un-doctorly squeak. "So, uh, here's a funny story...the other day, Alan thought I was pregnant! Crazy, huh?"

She let out an awkward laugh, trailing off when it became clear that nobody was going to join in.

"See, it's funny," she tried again, "because not only am I not nearly fat enough for that mistake...." (Kristen had the presence of mind to make a vague noise of agreement here.) "...but it isn't even possible, because I haven't had sex with anyone lately."


"Let me finish! Not with anyone except Kristen. And she doesn't have the right equipment."

"That's not quite true," said Stephen softly.

"Oh, yes it is. Believe me, I've checked. Thoroughly."

"I didn't mean...." Shaking his head, Stephen whirled around and began pacing in the opposite direction. "Forget it."


"Okay, hang on a second." Kristen looked between the two, knowing what this sounded like and wishing she didn't. "What are we talking about here?"

"If this is a private conversation...." began Buttons, his head now squished between Olivia's arms and her chin.

"He's talking about the Harlot editors," muttered Olivia. "And they didn't have the right equipment either. Or if they did, I never found out about it. Look, this was obviously a stupid choice of topic. Somebody else pick the next one."

"How about this," said Stephen. "Who would win in a fight, a Sailor Knight or Femme Fatale?"

"Femme Fatale," said Kristen decisively, in the same moment as Olivia said, "Depends on which Sailor Knight."

The resulting debate wasn't the friendliest Kristen had ever had, but it ate up the next ten minutes, which was the point when Jon's voice carried in from the corridor outside: "You can come up now! It's all clear."

Buttons' fur stood on end. "I didn't hear any fighting. Could this be a trick?"

"No trick," said Kristen, getting to her feet as Jon himself appeared at the door. "Stephen would know. So what happened, Jon? Did Amy manage to blow them away?"

"Oh, better than that," said Jon. "She didn't need to."

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

Never before, and in all likelihood never again, had the high seas known a legend such as this one. They didn't steal from the rich and give to the poor; they were the rich, and giving itself had become their mission. Their black flag signaled piracy from a distance, until you got close enough to see, not a skull and crossbones, but an elegant white O.

Any seaside town hit by a tidal wave or typhoon was bound to see them eventually. They would sail in with a haul more massive than any of the local boats could have carried, and announce to the delighted villagers, Everybody gets a carp!

They were the Nice Pirates, and for the Report, they had brought ice cream.

"How come we don't have dance parties like this?" asked Stephen through his last mouthful of vanilla. Dessert was being dished out on the deck of the Nice Pirates' ship, while a few of them had brought instruments over to the Report and struck up a tune. "I mean, did you even know Bobby played the ukulele?"

"It never came up," admitted Jon from the deck chair beside his. "Although one person isn't exactly enough for a band."

"Olivia beatboxes!" exclaimed Stephen, pointing with his spoon at the evidence. Amy twirled across his line of sight, on the arm of a blonde pirate: Ellen, if he had heard her name correctly. "And I can sing. That's a group right there!"

"You'd have a unique sound, at least," Jon admitted. "Want me to take your bowl?"

Stephen threw a nervous look at the rope bridge connecting the two ships. "Yes, please."

Jon brushed a kiss across his cheek before taking both their empty bowls and heading across the deck. Stephen was so intent on watching him go that he didn't notice Amy until her arm was thrown over his shoulder. "So, Mr. Freem," she said, cheerfully ignoring his yelp of surprise, "these people put on a good performance. What are we going to do to show 'em up?"

"Um, uh, we could," babbled Stephen, because she was right there, pressed up next to him, it was hard enough to follow her rapid-fire Commedien at the best of times, and didn't she think it was weird to be breathing on his face? "Not the Shadow-Beast scene, definitely not, we can't...."

"Of course not," agreed Amy. "Nothing that might set off Kristen's little problem. Besides, Olivia's already pulling her own weight. So let me ask again: what are we going to do?"

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

In fairness, the Nice Pirates would have cheered even for the most lackluster performance, to congratulate you for putting in the effort. But when Tad was spinning in a circle while supporting both Amy and Stephen, each hanging from one shoulder with legs locked around his hips, Jon was pretty sure the applause was all for the results.

"They look so comfortable together," gushed the pirate captain, who had ended up next to Jon when the dancers cleared the floor. "Have they been doing this long?"

"Only about a month, ah...Captain."

"Please, call me Oprah. And you—are you the same Jon Stewart who fought the Wyrm of Crois Dóiteáin?"

"Uh, yes," said Jon, startled. "I'm surprised you look so happy about it. It wasn't a, what do you call it, a nice battle."

"Few are," said Oprah, without a trace of irony. "But I'm sure you can be nice when the situation calls for it. Why, right before this performance I saw you with your young man. The tenderness in the way you looked at him, the way you calmed him down when he was nervous—there's nothing sweeter."

Jon resisted the urge to feel embarrassed at being mothered by a woman who, if she was much older than him, didn't look it. "Thanks."

"Hang on," interrupted the other pirate with them. "That's your young man? The guy you were sitting with? The guy currently getting all up-close-and-personal with two attractive, and apparently very athletic, human beings who are not you?"

"Yes, yes, and yes. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's just tumbling. Takes a lot of skill, that does. Especially since part of the point is that Amy isn't allowed to use her magic."

"Seems awfully touchy-feely to me, that's all I'm saying."

"Ellen," said Jon, "you're in my lap."

Ellen looked down. "Huh," she said. "So I am. How 'bout that."

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

Up on the rear deck, behind the sails and out of sight of the main party, Stephen, Tad, and Amy collapsed in a laughing heap. The sun had set and the lanterns flickering around them; Amy flew a bit of spare cloth down to soak it in the ocean, and they took it in turn to wipe the sweat from each other's brows.

"That couldn't have gone better if we'd planned it," said Tad. "Stephen, you were amazing! You completely knocked it out of the park."

"I don't know what that means," said Stephen, who was determined to stop letting their metaphors fly over his head, at least when he could get a question in at all. "It's good, right?"

"Very good," agreed Amy. "It's a sporting metaphor. Not surprised you don't know it."

Stephen pouted. "And what does that mean?"

"Means you're more of the theater type. All the way over on the salty end of the spectrum. Putting the 'fairy' in 'fairy tale'. Gay gay gay gay gay."

All of which meant exactly nothing to Stephen. Except the bit about liking theater, and he had a hunch that meant more than it seemed to. "Why can't you ever explain anything in normal words?"

"Oh, fine." Amy bent forward and rounded her shoulders, white gathered neckline plunging to reveal the honey-tan swells of her breasts, which bounced pertly as she rolled them against each other. "It means these babies don't do anything for you. Means there isn't the least little eensy-beensy part of you—or maybe not so eensy-beensy, I don't know, I haven't seen it—that feels like doing this."

The sky and the deep fell away; the ship hung suspended in a frozen void. Even Amy's breath seemed to have slowed, the oxygen swelling her chest with inexorable softness against Stephen's palm as her hands held it in place. His own breath had stopped, vision tunneling around the points of contact.


"Amy, cut it out!" The words floated somewhere in the far distance, only coming together when a firm grip pulled his hand back, shutting off the frantic drumbeat of what am I supposed to do? "Can't you see you're freaking him out? Sorry, Ste—whoa!"

It probably wasn't appropriate to cling to Tad's shirt and bury his face in the silk threads over the navigator's chest, but Stephen was shaking too much to care.

"Uh, hi." Tad's voice cracked like a teenager's; he gave Stephen's head an awkward pat. "It's okay, it's okay...Amy's a bit of an acquired taste, and sometimes she comes on too strong," (this said in a raised and sterner tone, no doubt accompanied by a meaningful glare) "but she'd never do anything to really hurt you. Anyway, if she did want to, it's not like I would be able to stop her, so it probably doesn't help to hang on to me like this...although of course you're welcome to if you want...okay then."

When Stephen lifted his head (Tad jerked away his hand mid-tentative-pat), he found Amy watching him quietly, chin resting on her hands. "Sorry about that," she said, more subdued than he had realized she could pull off. "I was just teasing. I didn't mean to bring up...whatever all that was about."

"It's not you," stuttered Stephen. "You're nice. I know. And very pretty. a cupcake."

Amy's lips curved into a rosy smile. "Well, aren't you sweet. Isn't he just the sweetest thing?"

The light from the sunset made her pale-gold hair glow in waves as it framed those lips (nothing like Jon's; less full, more pink). In the same moment Stephen realized he could feel Tad's breath ghosting across his forehead, and that Tad's chest was warm through the crumpled fabric under his hands.

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

Jon felt the distress on his link to Stephen like a physical yank.

He made a hasty excuse and crossed back to the Report, where he didn't have to search long before Stephen crashed into his arms and held on for dear life.

"Shhh, shhh, it's okay," soothed Jon, wrapping Stephen in a fierce embrace. "Stephen, babe, you're shaking like a leaf, what happened? Did somebody hurt you?"

"Nothing," choked Stephen, and it was all Jon could do not to call him out on the obvious lie. He wanted privacy, so he would have it, even if Jon wanted nothing more than to charge in and personally slay whatever dragons were tormenting him. "Nobody hurt me. It's fine. Don't let go?"

"Never," whispered Jon. "Not for anything."

It was the sort of assurance that normally went right to the core of Stephen's fears. He couldn't understand why, this time, it barely seemed to make a dent.

"You were telling me how you wanted something that was yours," he continued, groping for the sentiment Stephen needed to hear. "Well, here's one. I'm yours. And I always will be."

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

Hey, listen, thanks again for all the supplies," said Olivia as evening fell, pouring a glass of something strong and ruby-colored and offering it to the Captain. "We probably could have made the rest of the voyage without the boost, but it doesn't hurt. Especially since you brought pie."

Oprah turned down the glass with a gentle wave. "We have some quality food-preservation gems," she said modestly. "And, to be honest? None of us wanted to finish the key-lime-and-raisin."

"Well, I thought it was delicious. And after last month, anything that doesn't make me sick is a plus in my book." Olivia knocked back a swig of what she concluded was probably wine. "Do you have any more? I was thinking, for no particular reason and certainly not one of deep physical significance, that it would taste really interesting with pickles."

Oprah's brow furrowed.

"Oh, come on, don't stare," complained Olivia. "It isn't nice."

"My apologies," said the Captain. "May I ask...are you sure you want to be drinking that? Considering the, you know," her gaze flickered to Olivia's stomach, "thing of no deep physical significance."

Olivia's glass shattered against the deck.

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

You want a what?"

"I've heard it twice in the past couple of days. The next time someone blurts it out, I want some concrete evidence to wave in their faces."

"Olivia, that's ridiculous. It was only a fluke we met the Nice Pirates at all. We're not even going to see anyone else for months and months...."

"You know what's ridiculous?" cried Olivia. "People assuming I'm pregnant because I get seasick on the ocean and like a few weird foods! So maybe I'm not as thin as I could be, and maybe I talk about sex more than everyone in the world wants to hear about. That doesn't give them a right to judge!"

She slammed the door of the doctor's cabin, rattling the walls of the ship and leaving Kristen on the other side.

"Nobody's judging you," said a mournful Kristen to the empty corridor.

Back on the mainland, sure, there would be a few. But the Nice Pirates hadn't even heard the gossip in the first place, and the crew and passengers of the Report were all savvy enough to know better. Even with the past weighing down on her, Olivia ought to know that by now. Right?


Don't you start, Kristen ordered herself. There were plenty of perfectly valid reasons a woman could have mood swings. Maybe she had gotten an uneven dose of silphium, throwing her hormones out of whack. Or maybe she had had more to drink the night before than Kristen had noticed, and was irritable from the hangover. Or maybe this was what happened when you ate an entire key-lime-and-raisin pie.

Whatever the case, Kristen was going to do the supportive thing and be waiting here when she came out. With a smile, and a hug, and not a hint of judgment.

That plan was dashed when Olivia didn't come out at all. Instead, the cat flap at the bottom of the door wavered, and Buttons' head appeared beneath it.

"Oh, good, there you are," he said, on spotting Kristen's shoes. "The door's unlocked. I think you'd better come in."

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

Buttons took charge of explaining the situation, tail swishing back and forth across the Captain's desk. Allison took it all in with the calm air of someone who had been at sea long enough to see plenty of stranger things.

"Our best guess is that it was a curse," added Kristen when he finished, squeezing Olivia's hand. "She and Stephen were kidnapped a while ago, and held hostage for a short time. They've had treatment for all the obvious effects, but, well, we didn't exactly think to check for this one."

"She's only about two months along," said Buttons. "How long ago was this incident?"

"It could be a slow-acting curse," said Kristen. "Stop looking at me like that! It's perfectly plausible for the kidnappers to be that weird. You'd think so too, if you had seen their statues."

"Whatever the cause, we can't deal with it right now," said Allison smoothly, scratching Buttons' chin. "It's not the kind of procedure Buttons can supervise in his own form, and his next transformation is a couple of weeks away. We could turn back to the Eagles, but even with a good headwind that'll still be at least a week...."

"No!" exclaimed Olivia, her grip on Kristen's hand tightening. "We're on a mission. For Kristen's powers, remember? That's the most important thing."

"What, like you're not important?" protested Kristen. "I mean," and here she forced a laugh, "I've lived with no powers for months already, so what's a few more weeks?"

The slump began to recede from Olivia's shoulders. "I could say the same thing," she insisted, with far better acting than Kristen. Only her still-red eyes hinted that she might not be as sanguine as she appeared. "A few more weeks. We'll have a full moon, Buttons will fix everything up, and we'll sail on like nothing ever happened."

"If you're sure?" said Allison. "For a case like this, I'm willing to turn back."

"Aye, Cap'n," said Olivia firmly. "Full speed ahead. Nobody even has to know."

♢ ♘ ♢ ☯ ♢ ♘ ♢

Within a few days, thanks to the almost supernatural power of shipboard gossip, everyone on the Report knew.

Technically the appearance of an uncharted island was a danger to ships, but when Tad spotted one off the port bow not far ahead, Olivia couldn't have been happier for the distraction.
ext_12071: (Default)

[identity profile] 2011-12-03 01:21 pm (UTC)(link)
The poor thing wants desperately to be his own man, but every day on this ship seems to trigger a bad memory or a hurtful experience from his past. There's so much to fear!

Also, this incident with Amy has me wondering all sorts of things about the character that I never have before, but I'll keep them to myself as the story goes!
ladyjaderains: (Default)

[personal profile] ladyjaderains 2011-12-04 09:02 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm really loving seeing Stephen struggle with his new found ability to desire others, as opposed to merely being an object of desire. Although he generally leans towards gay, I've never thought of him (the character) as only being willing to swing one way. He'll accept love or any poor substitute from anyone and seems sexually driven towards both genders.

Jon's comforting words made my heart do a funny squeeze. They are so endearing. Especially in this fic. Will there really only be ten installments? I've said it before but I could read this forever.

Totally selfish question: any chance of visiting a pre-Stephen/Jon moment? I would be fascinated by your take on this AU Stephen and Papa Bear. The fact that Jon is soul bound and his reactions to a bad dream/flashback/memory would make it even more intriguing.

Either way, I hope he confides in Tad and Amy soon so they can provide some additional support. I'm guessing Stephen may have never had the chance to be with a woman so his nervous, teenage reaction to Amy's breasts was both comedic and heart rending. Again, you have such a talent for that.

Olivia's body issues and her honest reaction to the news of her unexpected pregnant status are really pulling me in. I hope she has the baby. Not only would her and Kristen be awesome parents but with an "uncle" Jon and Stephen, the boundless fluff 'n stuff would be incredible. I'm guessing it may encourage Jon's longing for kids of his own too. Stephen would really have something of his "own" then!

Gah! This story is a gift that keeps on giving.


(Anonymous) 2011-12-05 05:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Is it wrong of me that I want to see O'Reilly crawl back from the dead and kidnap Jon in an act of revenge only to have Stephen overcome his training and kick the crap out of O'Reilly because Jon, and his world, is better?
Also, poor Stephen sounds like his sexual preference was forced on him right from the start. While I definitely love him being with Jon, his confusion over Amy and her assets made me want to hug him. Wouldn't Jon just feel so guilty if he thought he was reinforcing Stephen's old habits instead of letting him develop on his own?
You write good stuff.

ladyjaderains: (Default)

[personal profile] ladyjaderains 2011-12-08 09:10 am (UTC)(link)
I can't believe it, Whysven I feel the same. It would be awesome if Papa Bear wasn't really dead but I'd been thinking more along the lines of "how would Stephen behave if he were back in that situation after having been free?" With a side of Jon along for the ride. As in, what if they were both captured by Billo. It's awesome to see Stephen adjust to Jon's world but if the roles were reversed... Pretty interesting stuff. Of course, they'd have to take O'Reilly down I'm the end. I'll say it again, love this AU.