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Vox Populi

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The first time Stephen shows up for lunch after summer vacation, there's a hideous knitted thing slung over his shoulder. It has bobbles. Orange bobbles.

"Oh, sweet lord," says Jon. "Amy?"

Stephen grins as he unpacks. Apparently Jon's not the first one to make that guess.

His ratings have mellowed out since their post-accident spike -- a little lower than before, but still respectable for basic cable. What he's shed in viewers who wince at the rasping wheeze that used to be his laugh, he's almost made up with a whole new class of geek.

"Well, I hope you're not going to carry that thing on-air," sighs Jon. "For one thing, your character would never put up with it."

Stephen's fingers fly over the keyboard.

A stilted voice that isn't quite his old one, but is nevertheless starting to sound like him, comes out of the speakers: "You're just jealous because nobody's made you a synthesizer cozy."