ptahrrific: Woman with a notebook (Default)
Erin Ptah ([personal profile] ptahrrific) wrote2012-09-05 01:38 am

Fake News | Jessica, Olivia, Kristen, Wyatt, real!Stephen, "Stephen"/Jon | PG | Prompt Ficlets 3

A sequence of TDS/TCR ficlets written for prompts at [community profile] punditfic and [ profile] fakenews_fanfic.

Blanket 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.

Title: You, The Heroes
Rating: G
Cast: Jessica, real!Stephen, Olivia, Kristen, Wyatt, "Stephen"/Jon
Prompt: "Power" (with sub-prompts for specific superpower/character combinations) + "First meetings" (for the last one)

Sequel to the "Stephen" one: It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's...A Chair! Now with a mirror on the AO3.


This is ridiculous. She's got all the boxes unpacked, and okay, her stuff's not exactly organized, but in this glorified closet of an apartment there is seriously not room to lose something. So where...?

She thinks about it a second longer, double-checks under the sink, then 'ports back home. "Mom? Have you seen--?"

Her mother, relaxing in the same armchair as ever, doesn't look up from her book. "Mr. Wuffles is on your bed, dear."

"Thanks!" exclaims Jessica, and pops upstairs to grab the ragged stuffed cat before 'porting back to New York.


He tries not to abuse it, honestly. He doesn't scan for sensitive information; he doesn't share details under a person's real name. But there's one class of thought that's too good not to look for.

There's a chart on a whiteboard in the Report break room, updated at the end of every week. A list of issues runs down the right side, while at the top is a scrawl in red marker: What Guests Think Stephen's Actual Opinions Are About...

His staff gets a good laugh out of quite a few of the trends. Sometimes they tease him about it. Other times the writers and producers use it to guide the show, bringing down the satire harder on an issue that they think guests think he thinks too gently about.

The kicker, of course, is that they're not always right either.

(Sometimes he fantasizes about breaking into one of the facilities where they keep less-than-ethical readers. Whatever else they might say or do to him, at least they'd know him.)


As usual, she leaves her old home on foot. No tickets, no public transportation, no people to identify her at train stations and on crowded roads. They'll report her missing, and eventually (because they know she's old, though they have no idea how old) write her off as dead.

It was harder to line up a couple to adopt her this time. People who believe in phoenixes at all, much less consider them lucky, are getting rarer and rarer. But she did find one, and their letters are in her pocket: one of the few things she didn't leave behind.

She's walking through a cattle ranch in Colorado when she somehow picks up company, in the form of a curly-haired seven-year-old with a sidekick collie. "I live over there," the kid announces, pointing across the fields with the help of a handy stick. "Where do you live? Are you a cattle rustler? You don't look like a cattle rustler. Where are you going? Are you lost? You can come in and see a map if you wanna."

"Hold your horses, kid...."

"I don't have horses. All I have is a dog and some chickens. My name's Kristen and my dog's name is Rosie and my chickens' names are Sandra and Day and O'Connor. What's your name?"

"Li Hua," she says shortly, recalling a name from a couple of rebirths back. "And calm down, Kristen. I'm going to a very nice place in Oklahoma and I know exactly where it is."

"Are you walking? That's a long walk. Especially for someone really old like you. Are you going to the bus stop? The bus stop's that way, not this way. Are you from Vietnam? Your name sounds like it's from Vietnam. Did you walk from there too?"

Is she going to be this much of a pest when she's that age again? She sure hopes not. "Not from Vietnam. And yes, I'm walking, you got a problem with that? Now go away. You annoy me too much, maybe you make me burst into flames ahead of schedule."

(A few years down the road, the newly-dubbed Lisa kind of regrets yelling at the kid. But it's too late to go back and apologize now. Kristen's probably forgotten it by this point, and even if she hasn't, what are the odds of Lisa ever being able to find her again?)

Fire control

"You wanted to see me, boss?"

"C'mon, Wyatt, you make me sound like some deranged CEO-supervillain. I just wanted to say hi. Congratulate you on your last field piece. Ask how it went."

"Uh-huh," says Wyatt, not impressed. "Let me guess. You also want me to reheat your coffee."

Jon tugs at his collar, sheepish. "Well, you know, since you're here...would you mind?"

Wyatt groans, picks up the Indecision 2012 mug, balances it in his fingers, and conjures a small flame over the palm of his hand. It only takes a couple of seconds for the dark liquid to start steaming.

Honestly, he's pretty much cool with this; it saves the building on a ton of petty heating costs, which pays out in more perks, including nicer hotels when they're doing cross-country interviews. It's just fun to make people squirm. Jon in particular. He's got one of those faces.

"You need anything else?" he asks, doodling spiral afterimages in the air with one lit-up finger. "Leftovers warmed up? More hot water in the shower? Obnoxious guest you need to take down a couple pegs?"

Jon nearly chokes on his coffee. "Please don't scare the guest again. Uh, no, I think that'll do it. Oh! I wanted to congratulate you."

"On my last bit? You just did that."

"No! What? Like I would only have thought of one thing to praise about you. No, this time I was thinking of...uh...." He stares at Wyatt's manifestly unimpressive plaid shirt for a couple of seconds, then aims his search higher, at the growth Wyatt's been cultivating for the past year. "...your hair! It's looking very...round."

Wyatt throws up his hands. "Man, you just had to say that, didn't you?"

"Sorry? Is 'round' one of the words we're supposed to avoid now?"

"It's not the word, dude, it's the compliment! Murphy's law is out to get me. Every time anybody says something nice about my hair, I accidentally burn it, like, the next day. It's happened to my beard three times now." Wyatt checks his fingers for sparks or stray ash, blows the tips off just in case, then pats his poor doomed afro into shape. "He didn't mean it, baby. Stay strong, okay? Stay strong."

Force fields

The muggers are backed up against the dumpster, held in place by a field that shimmers with soap-bubble opalescence and doubles as an umbrella against the grey drizzle. One has a gun, but he doesn't fire: this city's criminals know when not to waste bullets.

Jon is stammering a rough sort of thanks when the costumed hero hugs him. Another field appears around them, simple and spherical with water drumming on the top and sloshing around Jon's polished loafers; he stumbles as the curved surface lifts below him and falls against the man's chest. Brick, broken glass, and a wrought-iron fire escape whoosh past on the far side of the feathery cape (or is it just a pair of under-arm attachments, flying-squirrel style? He didn't get a good enough look to tell).

They're airborne.

"Can I drop you somewhere?" asks the superhero, as they clear the rooftops. "Drop in the figurative sense, not the literal one! My fields are much too stable for that. In spite of any rumors you've heard to the contrary."

"Uh, I'm thinking I should just go home," says Jon, wrapping his arms around the hero's shoulders just in case. They're not as broad as he expected...although he has the tact not to say so out loud. Not all superheros can be weightlifters or gifted with divine muscles, right? And he's still taller than Jon, not that that's saying much. "I was looking for a good deli, but after almost being mugged and then getting picked up by a cape, I've had about enough adventure for one night."

"'Cape' is such a derogatory term," sniffs the hero. "We prefer costume-Americans. Or, better yet, just our names." He frowns (the cowl has opaque lenses over his eyes; a disapproving scowl is the only hint of expression he wears). "You have heard of me, right?"

Jon stalls by naming the intersection closest to his house, and they start rolling through the air eight or ten stories above the cars, turning a corner when the road does like a pinball bouncing through a machine. "I just got into town yesterday," he adds, trying to sound deferential. "Or early this morning, depending on how you count it. I'm still on L.A. time, and work starts tomorrow, and I haven't really gotten a chance to, um, research the local costume-American scene."

"You haven't? Then, sir, this is your lucky day." They take a hard left (Jon's apartment is to the right), cutting through the rain as it picks up. Water streams down the sides of the force field. It's like barreling down the highway in a car that's all window. "Actor?"

"What? No, sorry, writer." Snapped up by the Daily, not that Jon wants to say so out loud; the editorial voice has a thing against costumed crimefighting. He settles for "The newspaper kind, not the novel kind."

"Oh! So you're one of those liberal media elites," says the hero, dripping with disdain. "Well, if anyone can save you from that too, I'm just the hero to do it. Behold!"

He flings out an arm, as best he can manage with Jon hanging on to him. They've come to a stop in front of a tall sand-colored building, a full-color advertisement running down its side broken only by tiny squares for the windows: Jon's rescuer, striking a heroic pose. Huge serif letters form the caption The Eagle: It's who Lincoln would have been rescued by.

"Very impressive," says Jon, and almost means it. He's still intensely grateful to have his wallet and no bullet holes in him, after all.

The Eagle smirks. "I know."

"I promise to come back and admire it later, when the sun is out," Jon adds.

"Good man." The Eagle's arm hooks around his waist, and they start whooshing back up the street. "Take some of that respect to your newspaper job, you could be a real Difference Maker. Almost as much as I am."

Title: PDA
Rating: G
Cast: Jon/"Stephen", Wyatt
Prompt: Public displays of affection

When Stephen was in complete denial, their interactions were bewildering, but at least all the stress was on him. Jon just had to remember not to be hurt by the rapid-fire switches between "really grabby, though in a platonic enough way to have plausible deniability" and "Jon? Who is this Jon? Oh, the guy sitting next to me? Yeah, I barely know him."

Early their relationship, he went through a stage of "if we get within three feet of each other in public, people will get suspicious!" Not that he expected to have to wrangle this himself. He moved around as usual, and counted on Jon to monitor his movements and keep a safe distance. Jon got harangued a lot. More than a few nights he lay awake wondering if this relationship was worth the trouble.

But they had managed to survive, until Stephen finally blossomed out of the closet...and into an openly territorial stage. This one wasn't about rules and boundaries so much as about grabbing Jon and furiously making out with him every time Jon seemed to be smiling at someone else a little too long.

"Mmph -- Stephen! We're trying to have a meeting here!"

"Are you, Jon? Are you? Obviously not trying hard enough, since you keep letting your correspondents make bedroom eyes at you!"

"...Stephen, those are Wyatt's normal eyes."

"Wait, are you saying he always does this? Better tongue-lock in front of him a while longer, until he gets the picture about who the boyfriend here is."

Title: Shotgun
Rating: G
Cast: "Stephen"
Prompt: Characters' résumés

(This totally fits the prompt, because you just know Stephen would be very proud to list it as work experience, particularly for any tuxedo-requiring jobs.)

"I was born to wear a tux. In fact, as a child my parents used to rent me out as a ring bearer for shotgun weddings." (I Am America, 219)

Stevie loves weddings. He gets to wear a tuxedo, which makes him basically a grown-up. Even when he's a real grown-up, he's decided, he will wear tuxedos every day.

But this wedding is going to be the most special of them all, because he gets to be part of it! He's going to walk down the aisle and carry a pillow with the rings on it, and everybody's going to look at him, and he's going to be important.

The bride and groom are...some people he doesn't know. This is a weird, because normally one of them is a brother or an aunt or a cousin, but Stevie doesn't think about it too much. He's too busy memorizing the order of the party, the speed at which he's supposed to walk, the place he needs to stand.

The bridesmaids love him. They coo and fuss and say what a darling boy and doesn't he look smart! They ruffle his hair until he yells at them to stop messing it up, at which point they apologize with great solemnity and smooth it back into place.

Once his hair is shaped up again, Stevie gets introduced to the bride. He tells her that she looks like a beautiful angel, but is a little fat in the tummy, and probably should have put off the wedding until she could go on a diet.

Well, it's true!

He can't understand why the bridesmaids drag him away so fast.

Title: Labor Day
Rating: PG
Cast: Jon/"Stephen"
Prompt: Worth

An extended version of how Stephen spent his Labor Day. (Stephen's wearing this dress, to make [personal profile] politicette happy.)

Jon opens the door silent as a whisper, and catches his breath in spite of himself.

The back of the creamy-white gown scoops low under Stephen's shoulder blades, then explodes at the waist into a frothing mass of lace and sheer billows. It's gathered in a trail of waves at one side (pinned at the front, Jon knows, with a giant gauzy rose at his waist), and the top layers are pinched into fullness, showing off the seemingly endless further iterations underneath. It's like he's wearing a flower. A hand-wash-only flower that cost more than Jon's car.

Stephen had been touching up his hair (and the angle of the mirror is wrong to show the door), so of course it takes him a minute to realize he has company. "It's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding!" he exclaims, turning...and relaxing when he sees Jon. "Oh. It's just you."

"Just me," echoes Jon. He shuts the door behind him. "'Just' your man of honor. What kind of a greeting is that?"

"Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see you...Careful!" Stephen steps back, pulling the dress away from having its hems trod on by Jon's polished shoes. "At least I think I am. Is something wrong? What are you doing here?"

He tenses as Jon cups his waistline with both hands. The giant rose yields easily to the pressure of Jon's arms. "Couldn't stay away," he murmurs, rising up on his toes and pressing his forehead almost to Stephen's. "Not only that...I don't think you really wanted me to."

"Jon." Stephen squirms, placing his palms flat across Jon's chest. It doesn't help hold him back. If anything, the warmth of the contact makes them feel that much closer. "Jon, we can't do this. I'm getting married."

"Yeah." When Jon speaks, Stephen can feel the breath against his face. " are we pretending you're getting married to, exactly?"

Stephen lets out a heavy sigh. "Does it matter? Some handsome jerk who will never love me like you do, obviously. Whoever will inspire you to the most heated fit of territorial passion is fine by me."

"Right." Jon squares his shoulders and fixes his mind on an image, maybe Mitt Romney?, Paul Ryan is younger and hotter, not to mention actively distasteful instead of just wishy-washy. "To some schmuck who's going to spend the rest of your life using you," he hisses, settling back into character. "You're worth so much more than that."

"Stop!" begs Stephen, struggling in fine hapless form as Jon pushes him up against the mirror and paints hot kisses across his cheeks and neck. "We can't — we shan't — we mustn't — you will ruin my dress!"

"Don't worry," says Jon — grinding their hips together once, hitting exactly the right angle even through the six million layers of fabric. "I'll swallow."