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A Media Ho by Any Other Name

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Unlike some people (and Anderson definitely isn't thinking of anyone in particular here), Stephen seems to get less eloquent when he's more drunk. Not for him the elaborate and almost poetic speeches that made Anderson wish he'd brought along a tape-recorder that one time back in 2006 - instead, Stephen sounds like he's thrown his usual vocabulary out of the window right after his good sense and followed shortly by his common one, leaving him with ... well. Jon and Anderson and the security of knowing that a Certain Someone none of them is going to mention is presently touring Kenya, possibly to look for a non-existent birthcertificate that will, no doubt, be even more so in a few weeks or so. (Anderson would like to accuse Rahm of poor timing, but really, the whole thing's just too ridiculous for words, and Rahm's absence coinciding with the situation in Israel makes for a far more interesting angle - and there's where he's going to cut off that line of thought, because this is supposed to be a relaxed, pleasant night out, with the keywords being relaxed and pleasant, neither of which go together in any kind of sentence with Rahm Emanuel).

" 's not a media-ho."

Anderson sighs. Jon, less drunk than Stephen but drunk enough to be more or less on auto-pilot, hears a cue and reacts to it.

"Who isn't?"

Stephen's problem is that he tends to get stuck on things. Anderson travels a lot and yes, there's memories he knows he'll never be able to let go of, but on most days, he still manages to keep the worst ones at bay and to stay focused on the here and now. It's a gift, and Stephen hasn't got it.

He's probably been thinking about the article all week - Anderson's read it, of course, along with a dozen others he then more or less forgot about.

"Rahm Emanuel," Anderson says. If anyone's going to break the unspoken rule and bring up Rahm, it's probably best for everyone if it's the sober guy.

Jon looks a little confused. Anderson can't tell if it's meant to be a cue for Stephen, or if it's just Jon being confused. Possibly, it's a bit of both.

" 's an insult."

Anderson thinks it's rather an understatement, actually. Reputation notwithstanding, Rahm really relies on cheesecake much more than on dead fish.

"Rahm's a ... a bad guy." Stephen nods solemnly.

"But not a media-ho?" Jon prompts.

Stephen starts shaking his head, frowns (probably wondering why the room is spinning, Anderson thinks) and puts both hands on the bar. "Makes it sound like he's sleeping with every journalist he meets."

Anderson and Jon exchange a look. There are a lot of answers to Stephen's comment, and the one thing they all have in common is that they're really wrong. Like 'well, given the present evidence, maybe he is'. Or 'he probably also sleeps with some people who aren't journalists, or reporters, or correspondents, or whatever other term is fashionable this week'.

"I don't think that's what the term is supposed to mean," says Anderson.

"A ho is a ho," says Stephen stubbornly.

"Unless it's a pick-axe."

Stephen glowers. Anderson shrugs.

"It's just an article," Jon puts in.

Anderson closes his eyes.

"It's an incorrect article," Stephen says sharply - or as sharply as any man can sound who's clearly drunk and about to slide off his barstool and onto the floor. "It offends me."

Anderson reflects that if that is so, the article and its subject have something in common.

"It implies that Stephen Colbert is the kind of man who hangs around with ... with ... " Stephen frowns as his body at last decides to abandon the struggle against gravity and ungracefully lands on the floor.

"With a media-ho?" Jon reaches out a hand. Anderson gets a vision of Stephen grasping it and pulling Jon down, too. They'll probably end up making out on the floor and in a way, perhaps, that's as good an ending as this evening can possibly get.

"With a democrat!" Stephen climbs back on his barstool. "And a drama-queen, which is a total lie, too."

Anderson wonders if Rahm's enjoying his safari.

Jon looks at him sideways, eyebrows raised. Anderson shakes his head, once, lightly.

On second thought, perhaps he should be wondering if the safari's enjoying Rahm - the answer to which is most likely to be 'no'.

"I mean, is it really drama when you mean everything you say?" Stephen demands of an imaginary audience that appears to be watching from behind the old-fashioned jukebox. (As far as Anderson has been able to determine, it doesn't actually work; it's just decorative.)

There must be stories to be found in Kenya, Anderson muses. He could go there and find some.

"It is when you don't follow up on it."

Rahm would be smug, and that would be a little annoying. Amy would smile at him, Anderson thinks, far too knowingly. Their kids still think he's cool because he's been on Sesame Street.

Stephen is frowning again. Jon looks like he'd like to go somewhere else, but settles for ordering another round of drinks.

"Just how many times has he told you he's going to kill you?" If Rahm killed everyone he's ever threatened to kill, the republicans would probably be paying for his lawyers. Rahm rarely threatens his enemies, after all - he just defeats them. It's the people on the same side that get the death-threats, the phone-calls and the dead fish. (Also, sometimes, cheesecake, yes, because Rahm is the kind of person who can say 'I'll kill you' and 'I love you' in the same breath.)

"He's just waiting for me to let my guard down." Stephen sullenly stares at his drink.

"Stephen ... "

"And he always follows up on the first part."

"The first ... oh." I'll fuck you. I'll kill you. Occasionally, Anderson thinks Rahm may have trouble expressing his feelings in a clear, unambiguous way.

"I don't think I really want to drink anything more."

I love you. Bye. "Then don't." Anderson's probably a little drunk himself, if he wants to believe that the fact that only one of those three declarations is in present tense means something.

Stephen blinks at him, then smiles. It's the kind of smile that ought to make Jon jealous and Anderson uncomfortable. It fails to do either, tonight.

"Why don't you let Jon take you home?"

"You'd be welcome to come along," Jon offers, at the same time Stephen asks: "Whose home?"

"I can't," Anderson tells Jon. "You two enjoy the rest of the evening."

They probably will, he thinks - at least until the hang-over hits.