There's something dangerous about allowing yourself to be the sole focus of Jon and Stephen's attention. The intensity might just kill a person, Rachel thinks.
Keith dragged her into this delayed 'Home from the Conventions' party and now she's trapped in between Stephen and Jon, and Keith has wandered off to find more drinks, or possibly to make out with Anderson, Rachel isn't sure.
It doesn't matter, because there is no possible escape from the interrogation slash running commentary that Jon and Stephen have going.
"So," says Jon.
"We hear you don't own a television," Stephen continues.
"And we realized that must mean you don't watch our shows." Jon is talking again and Rachel wonders if they are secretly twins or psychics or just plain crazy.
"Now normally," says Stephen, "we wouldn't care."
"But see, Keith makes us watch your show."
Stephen is nodding. "He even makes up quizzes afterward, and makes us pay for lunch if we get them wrong."
Jon says, "Don't get me wrong. We like your show."
"Not better than Papa Bear's," says Stephen with a glare in Jon's direction.
"Fine," Jon replies. "Not better than Papa Bear's. But we do like your show."
"But we think," says Stephen. "We think you should watch our shows too."
"Otherwise, how will you know when we mock you?" Jon asks.
Jon is leaning towards Stephen and Stephen is talking with his hands, and Rachel sort of feels like she's in the middle of a maelstrom. She's also sort of worried that she's going to end up with a black eye if Stephen doesn't watch where his hands are.
"I'm sure Keith or my interns will let me know," she says, happy to finally get a word in edgewise.
"It's not as much fun that way," pouts Stephen.
"Stephen's thinking about declaring war on you," Jon says as an aside.
"The character," Stephen clarifies, "and just your show, not you."
"The character," Jon repeats. "We like you."
Stephen's nodding again, even more enthusiastically. "We really do like you."
"Keith talks about you all the time," Jon puts in.
"Like you're his little sister who is about to be the first person to step foot on Mars." Stephen says.
"Really," says Jon. "He talks about you ALL the time. It's like we already know you."
Keith arrives back on the scene, with Anderson in tow and drinks in both hands.
"Drink this," he says, and hands her a highball glass full of something she can't identify. It doesn't matter, she drinks anyway and Jon and Stephen follow suit.
"Ack," she says and makes a face as the drink settles into her stomach. "What was that?"
"They're calling it the 'Yes We Can'," says Keith.
"Well, no they can't. At least not mix a drink," she replies. "I think we need to go set them straight."
She can hear Keith whisper to Stephen, "I picked out the worst looking thing on the menu, because Rachel mixing drinks is an experience that you can not miss."
She doesn't care though. Mixing drinks is one of her favorite hobbies and sometimes she enjoys showing off. Rachel drives off the kids playing at bartender. She swears one of them is one of Keith's interns, and wonders if he had set this up for the get go.
She pushes it out of her mind and looks over the bottles of alcohol arranged haphazardly on the table. The drink needs to be something that she has the ingredients and equipment for as well as something Keith can drink. "Well," she says, "we've got cocktail glasses, actual real live lemons, cognac and Cointreau. How about sidecars?"
Rachel doesn't wait for confirmation before finding a shaker and loading it with ice. She tunes the men's conversation out as she squeezes the lemon and then pours the assorted liquids into her shaker and shakes. In a moment, five perfect sidecars are lined up and ready to go.
Jon is giving her an odd look, but Keith kicks him in the shin and he takes a sip.
"Wow, this is actually good," he says and by the way he flinches Rachel can tell he just got kicked again, this time by Stephen.
"This is excellent. Thank you," Anderson says graciously which makes Keith smile even wider.
The party has started to get wild behind them. Erica Hill is dancing with a man Rachel doesn't recognize, and his friends, one of whom is attempting to use his tie as a lasso, are cheering him on from the side lines. He must belong to The Daily Show, because Jon is turning bright red.
"Can't take Rob or John anywhere and expect them to behave for long," he says to Stephen.
"Let's get out of here," says Keith. "My liquor cabinet is fully stocked and Rachel can make us drinks. That way we won't be responsible for anything your kids do tonight."
Rachel considers objecting, but she's only here because Keith made her come in the first place and Keith does have an extensive collection of liquor for her to play with.
It doesn't take long to round them all up and get into a cab. Keith insists on that they share one, just in case Stephen and Jon try and escape. Practically, this means Rachel is almost all the way on Stephen's lap and Anderson is part way onto Jon's. She might be the soberest person in the car. The men all touch each other freely, which in Rachel's experience must mean they are smashed out of their minds. American males don't usually touch without some force, some violence behind it. Tonight, though, Anderson is ruffling Jon's hair and Stephen has one arm around her and the other around Jon's shoulders.
When the cab finally makes it to Keith's apartment they stumble out of the cab, laughing as Jon tells a story about Stephen, Steve and a marmoset.
Anderson pays the cabbie and they make it safely up to Keith's apartment.
Once they are inside, Keith points her in the direction of the liquor and sends Stephen to fetch and carry for her. She brings back two armfuls of bottles to the kitchen and sets them on the table while the men take their seats.
Since Stephen has been nominated as tonight's help, and he's still sober enough to possibly trust with a knife, she gives him a lemon and sets him to work. "First up, Fallen Leaves."
"Wait, is that even a drink?" Jon asks with a frown.
"Did you make it up?" Stephen seconds.
"Nope, it was invented in 1982 by Charles Schumann. Less pith in those lemon peels, Stephen."
Stephen looks slightly ashamed and goes back to his job.
"Calvados, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and a splash of brandy." She names each liquid as she pours it into the plastic pitcher Keith had liberated for her.
She strains the drink into five glasses. "Now, Stephen, each one gets a lemon peel." He follows her instructions and then passes the glasses around.
Anderson looks up from his first sip. "I think we should always put Rachel in charge of the alcohol."
"Hey," says Keith. "It's my alcohol!"
"Yeah, but did you even know you had Calvados?" Anderson asks.
"Well, no," Keith says.
"My point is made," Anderson replies and takes another sip.
"Anyway," says Stephen, waving his glass in the air. "Back to the real problem here, Rachel hasn't seen our shows!"
"I can't believe you'd let that happen, Keith," Jon says. "Not after Rachel trivia night."
"We can fix that," says Anderson with a slightly evil grin. "Keith has them on DVD."
All four of them turn to stare at Anderson.
"I do," Keith admits. "I have Indecision2004 on DVD."
"Put it in!" Stephen squeals, his drink sloshing dangerously close to the rim of his glass.
Ten minutes later, they're all on Keith couch and the Daily Show theme song is ringing out from the television. Not soon after, Rachel is laughing so hard it hurts.
"I know," says Anderson as he leans in towards Keith. "We need to drink more. Every time some says vote."
Some how this agreed to, most likely out of sheer surprise that Anderson suggested playing a drinking game and Rachel finds herself with a shot glass of tequila. Voting is a pretty popular word in any election special, she supposes. Rachel thinks she is on her fourth or fifth by the time it is over and she's feeling pretty drunk.
"I'm going to bed," says Anderson as he drunkenly pulls Keith up.
"You guys can fight over the couch," says Keith. "It's already got clean sheets on the pull out."
"Why do you have a pull out couch?" she asks Keith, and Anderson breaks into giggles. That man can giggle like no one's business, better even than twelve year old girls. The sound triggers Jon into giggling too and soon they're all laughing.
"Anderson made him buy it," Jon explains through wheezing laughs.
"For Molly," Stephen says, as if that clarifies the matter.
"Molly is Anderson's dog," Jon says.
"She doesn't like to sleep alone," Stephen continues as he removes the couch cushions and pulls out the bed.
"Or on the floor," Jon adds.
"And Keith didn't want to share his bed with her and Anderson."
"So Keith bought the pull out couch as a compromise," Jon says.
"It's really a doggy bed," says Stephen.
Anderson is still giggling and Keith has turned bright red.
"Fuck you," Keith says to Jon, his words slurring. "I had to do something, or the damn dog would've made sure I'd never get laid again!"
With that Keith drags Anderson down the hall and away from the rest of them.
Rachel doesn't know how Stephen managed to pass out in the last ten seconds, but he has and he's taking up half the pull out bed.
"I'm going to get some water," Jon says. "Feel free to push Stephen over so you have enough room. He won't wake up."
She follows Jon's directions, and passes out on Keith's pull out doggy bed with no problem.
In the morning, she wakes up pressed between two male bodies. It's a new experience for Rachel, but since both of them are fully dressed and completely unconscious, it's sort of really nice. Jon's nose is buried in her neck and his arm is slung across her waist so his hand can curl around Stephen's hip. She decides that she's perfectly happy where she is so she closes her eyes and goes back to sleep.
When she wakes up again, it's because Keith is laughing loud enough to make her head explode.
She opens her eye just wide enough to see Stephen throw a pillow at Keith's head. "Fuck you, Olbermann."
"Keith, I want my water," calls Anderson from out a view, his voice pitiful.
"Me too," says Rachel, lifting her pillow off her face, so that she can be sure Keith hears her.
Jon grumbles beside her and rolls away, stealing her pillow in the process. Light shines painfully into her eyes and she decides that she might as well get up because she's not going to be able to go to sleep again. Stephen is still growling under his breath, but his eyes are open, so she has no problem shoving Stephen off the bed so she can get up too.
"Good morning to you too, Maddow," he says and then pads away to the bathroom.
Once she's up and standing, Keith hands her a glass of water and two Advil which she happily imbibes.
Soon her head ache has receded enough where she can make her way to the kitchen table and slump into one of the chairs.
Jon is still passed out on the couch, though he now has all the pillows and couch cushions staked on top of him thanks to Stephen. Keith is no where to be seen, but Stephen and Anderson are dancing around each other in the kitchen, making what looks to be breakfast. Stephen has some sort of egg concoction going on the stove and Anderson is brewing coffee, which is weird because Rachel swears that someone told her that he didn't drink hot things.
The two of them walk around Keith's kitchen like they own the place. As long as it get her a cup of coffee she doesn't care if the four of them have all moved in together and are living in one happy orgy. Maybe they'll even let her watch. Anderson set a mug of coffee in front of her, derailing her previous train of thought. As soon as she brings the mug to her lips Jon appears at her right elbow, as if summoned by the caffeine.
"Coffee," he says appreciatively after he's drained his first cup in ten seconds flat. Anderson is ready with a refill and while this is all going on, Stephen slides an omelet in front of her.
"Thanks," she says and wonders if this is how they treat everyone they get drunk with. If so, she'll party with them more often. There's not much better in the world then your first meal after the hangover nausea passes, and Rachel consumes her omelet with gusto.
She's on her last bite when Keith shows up, freshly showered and holding a pile of clothes.
"Here," he says, thrusting the clothes at her. "Stephen leaves his clothes here all the time, so he won't mind if you steal them. The shower is all yours."
She's slightly startled, but she takes the clothes anyway and goes off to the bathroom. The t-shirt on top is well worn and soft and the pants are a pair of khaki cargos that look exactly like a pair in her closet. They seem to fit well enough so she showers and changes before heading back to the kitchen.
Keith is still working on his omelet, but Jon has moved on the crossword and Anderson is suggesting answers over his shoulder. She sits at the table and Stephen passes her the first section of the paper. He's got a hold of the funnies and Keith has the sports sections tucked under his plate. It's like a Rockwell picture in some twisted way, and Rachel is surprised at how comfortable she is here.