"So I hear you've been dating Colbert for a while."
"You heard correctly, sir," said Jon, then had to suppress a wince. He routinely addressed people as 'sir' as a way of deflecting aggression, defusing tension, keeping a touchy guest reassured that he respected them (no matter what insane views they were peddling). But what if that wasn't the only reason? What if he'd been expressing a subconscious submissive streak this whole time? And toward Bill O'Reilly, no less. Good god.
O'Reilly was still talking. "...something about a 'stoplight system'," he said, giving Jon an uncomfortable start. O'Reilly didn't notice; he was turning his attention on the audience. Jon's audience. "You folks know what a 'stoplight system' is?"
There was a ripple of giggles, and somebody catcalled.
"I can see some of you do," said O'Reilly approvingly, while Jon buried his face in one hand. The guest chair swung back to face the desk. "Jon, you want to explain to the rest of these good people what it means?"
That was approximately the last thing Jon wanted to do. A year and a half of constantly reinforcing what details Stephen was and was not allowed to share about their sex life, only to let it all go to waste? He kept it as succinct as possible. "It's a way of letting your partner know how okay you are with something in the bedroom," he told the camera. "Green means it's fine, yellow means to slow it down a little, and red means, uh, stop, obviously."
"That's right," smirked O'Reilly. "So what I want to know is, what exactly are you doing where if he wants you to stop, he can't just say 'stop'?"
Jon blinked. "Excuse me?"
"It's got to be something pretty kinky. I mean, he basically believes that white men are responsible for everything that's wrong with this country, right? So if you're going to make some kind of sex game out of punishing him, you have tons of material. Where do you even start?"
A slow smile spread across Jon's features. "Why, Bill," he said, putting on his most winsome, beaming expression, "if that's what you're interested in, I've got a couple books I can lend you."
One year earlier...
They stumbled down Stephen's front hall together, narrowly missing an incomprehensible but distressingly sharp-looking piece of modern art. Stephen seemed to have grown a couple of extra hands, and it was all Jon could do to keep up as he was alternately stripped and stroked, rough kisses pressed against his neck before Stephen's teeth actually sank into his shoulder.
When Jon gasped, Stephen pulled back instantly. "Sorry! Did I hurt you?"
"Good kind of hurt," panted Jon. It had taken most of his willpower to stop this scene from playing out at the office, but so far it was more than worth the wait.
"Do you want a safeword?" fretted Stephen, tucking a lock of hair out of his face. "Something to make me stop if I go too far?"
"Can't I just say 'stop'?"
"I just want to be absolutely sure I don't hurt you...."
Jon reached down and began fumbling with the belt that held up the other man's designer pre-shredded jeans. "Stephen. I'm not made of glass, here. If you try to do something I don't want, I will tell you. No special protocols necess—"
In one swift motion Stephen pinned him against the wall, nearly crashing into a large framed Georgia O'Keefe.
"Mine," he growled. "You're mine."
(Jon had not expected that, but he was absolutely not complaining.)
(After a post-sex scene when Stephen goes a little overboard with non-negotiated caretaking, and Jon gets uncomfortable, complaining that he's being ordered around and infantalized....)
"You're kidding," says Jon. "It's a kink?"
With a miserable nod, Stephen hangs his head. "I know I'm not respecting your personhood. I'm sorry. I'll stop."
As forlorn as he looks, Jon feels a vague urge to shake the man. If only Stephen would stand up for something once in a while, instead of flopping over at the first sign of disagreement, and going into a spiral of guilt so out-of-proportion that it makes Jon drop everything to reassure him.
Not that Jon is itching to have his personhood trampled on, but they can make this work as a roleplaying kind of thing, right? Where he makes a conscious choice to indulge Stephen by letting himself be babied once in a while. Besides...for all that Stephen is a fluttery mess most of the time, barely able to insist that two plus two equals four if someone tells him otherwise, his hands are sure and true when giving a massage. Jon would trade a significant amount of self-actualization to be "taken care of" like that more often.
Setting the tray aside, he sloughs off the covers and leans toward Stephen, forearms slung over his knees, heels planted against the sheets. "I wouldn't mind."
"I mean, you can't do it all the time," continues Jon quickly. "And you shouldn't fuss like that over just anyone. Especially when they don't know you very well — it tends to weird people out. But if you want to...take care of me...once in a while, my personhood will survive."
To his surprise, Stephen actually stops the handwringing.
"I can't do it, Jon," he says, with solemn resignation. "I have to treat everyone equally. I can't do that if I start being different things to different people."
"So instead you're trying to be all things to all people," counters Jon. The words come out with a thick frosting of sarcasm: "How's that working out?"
Stephen, being Stephen, doesn't say a word about the tone. For a moment he doesn't say anything at all.
Then he confesses, just above a whisper: "Sometimes I don't feel like I have a personhood."
His fingers clench on the lapels of Jon's bathrobe.
"Destruction of the self is the ultimate goal of Buddhist philosophy," he adds, without much feeling. "This is just getting me closer to Nirvana."
Jon rests his chin sulkily on his crossed arms. "If everyone looks that miserable when they're close to nirvana, then I'm staying as far away from it as possible."
Stephen's hand jolts forward and then hesitates, several times in a row, like a sled being shoved up a snow-covered hill. At last his fingers brush Jon's face, gently tucking back a couple of the still-bed-mussed curls.
"I guess I could stick around this plane of existence for a while longer," he says.
"I'd like that," admits Jon.
"And...take care of you, sometimes." Stephen's thumb inscribes small circles on Jon's collarbone. "If you really don't mind."
"I really don't." Jon allows himself a wry smile. "Especially when it involves backrubs. Or waffles."
Stephen's long brown hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, his beard was trimmed in a neat line, and his clothes were coming off way too slowly for Jon's liking. Especially since Jon was already naked...and had his hands crossed behind his head and knotted to the bedpost, so he couldn't even take advantage of it.
Jon thought they were in the home stretch when Stephen finally got out of his organic-fiber free-trade pants...then Stephen started talking again. "I'm just concerned that this whole practice has deeply problematic roots," he said, sitting on the mattress next to Jon's hips with a long sigh. "All the actions associated with BDSM reinforce the oppressive kyriarchical capitalist notion that one person can ever have 'control' over another."
"It's a little more than a 'notion' when you actually have me tied up," pointed out Jon.
"I guess it's not." Stephen trailed his fingers through Jon's chest fur, making Jon squirm with the too-gentle contact. "I could do just about anything to you right now, couldn't I?"
"Uh-huh," said Jon encouragingly.
"Even if..." Stephen tipped his head to the side and gazed thoughtfully at Jon's face. "Even if you said something like..."
Jon caught his breath.
"...'yes', but not enthusiastically," finished Stephen, "I could keep going and you couldn't even struggle."
Okay, Jon wasn't in the best shape of his life, but come on. "I could struggle a little bit," he grumbled.
"Yeah." Stephen's eyes started glazing over at that one. His tongue darted out to wet his lips. "Yeah, you could."
Jon sized him up for a moment, then twisted his arms and tried to yank his way out of the binding.
Stephen had done several days' worth of research on the knots alone. The scarf didn't tighten around Jon's wrists when he tugged at it, just held them snug as ever. He got what he was going for, though: a sharp gasp out of Stephen, who leaned a few degrees closer to Jon without seeming to realize that he was moving.
"All right, so that isn't working so well..." said Jon at last.
"Keep trying," snapped Stephen.
Stephen's eyes widened. "Unless you were struggling for real?" he added, already reaching for the scarf.
"Oh, come on!" groaned Jon, head and shoulders collapsing back onto the pillow. They'd spent like an hour talking about safewords. This should have been settled.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry." Stephen's hand dropped to caress Jon's flushed face. "I'm not doing this very well. Maybe I shouldn't have...what do you say we forget this whole thing and I just blow you?"
Jon's dick was all in favor of this plan. But dammit, at least once Jon was determined to play things the way Stephen's dick wanted them, no matter how much Stephen tried to fight it. "Listen, you don't have to untie me, all right?" he said. "But yes, yes, please, blow me. As a...reward. Tell me to do something, and if I do it good enough...."
(Snippets of Jon figuring out how to be encouraging.)
"Hang on. Stop thinking and rationalizing for a second and just...speak from the gut. What makes you happy?"
"You," says Stephen promptly.
"Oh, come on," groaned Jon. "You can't go to all the trouble of tying me up and then bail!"
"No, no, I'm pretty sure I can."
"You've got me trapped like a family victimized by a predatory mortgage lender. Ensnared like a..." What was the latest term Stephen was insisting on? "...differently developed nation in an exploitative trading relationship."
"You're just using the power of your voice to express your feelings in a way that I shouldn't try to censor...."
"No, I'm being a mouthy brat and you should do something about it."
"I also said I want to hit anyone who tries to flirt with you! You can't say I should approve of that! It's — it's not rational!"
"If you actually hurt anyone, yeah, that would be bad," said Jon. "But just thinking about it? If you know perfectly well that it's kind of stupid? Stephen, irrational and possessive thoughts are kind of par for the course when you're in love."
To Stephen's continued astonishment, this declaration was followed with a hand on his arm. As if none of the dire consequences he had enumerated stopped Jon from thinking monogamy was a good idea.
"Don't be silly, Jon," he protested, though he didn't sound nearly as certain as he meant to. "Of course I'm in love with you — but I've been in love with hundreds of people before — I think I know how it works. Wanting to spend time with someone, wanting to make them happy, wanting to slather their chests with whipped cream and lick it all off...I've been there! But it was never like this!"
"That's an awful lot of people," said Jon, sobering. "But if you've never felt this way before...."
"What are you saying, Jon? That I've only really given my heart to one person in my entire life? And you think that isn't selfish?"
"It's the same number I've gotten up to."
Before we go, we're going to check in with our good friend Stephen Colbert at The Colbert Report. Stephen! How are you doing, my friend?
'Friend', Jon? I think we all know better than that. At least, all of us who have been on YouTube in the past twenty-four hours.
Yes, well, I'm not sure we need to go into—
But just in case some people haven't — Jimmy!
Cut to grainy YouTube footage of JON and STEPHEN making out against a tree. It becomes apparent that the clip has been looped; the sequence repeats for about fifteen seconds, to increasing AUDIENCE laughter, cheering, and catcalls.
Okay, okay, enough already!
Cut back to side-by-side shots of JON, waving with his note cards, and STEPHEN, smiling besottedly, chin resting in his hands. Once the clip is gone, JON relaxes, then allows himself a sheepish grin.
I wonder how many people just lost bets.
I could play that all day.
I don't think it would be very good for ratings.
We could always make a new one. Higher quality. More variety.
Save it for after the show, Stephen. Real quick — what's coming up next?
God, you're beautiful.
I'm uncomfortable with emotion!
Cut to JON alone. He turns to the AUDIENCE and shakes his notes in a scolding gesture.
And that's the last you people get to hear about it! (Appreciative laughter from AUDIENCE.) That's our show! Join us tomorrow night; here it is, your moment of Zen — aww, come on!
Cut back to the makeout session, which repeats several more times. Fade to credits.