Chapter 1: We prefer to be called megalomaniac-Americans (T)
"Stephen" finally has (most of) what he's always wanted: his very own fascist dictatorship. Is it too late to save him, not to mention the world? Well...technically, yes.
I decided Calyx worked a lot better without trying to explain a backstory. Which left me with this chunk of semi-ridiculous drama not connected to anything. Guest-starring Tek Jansen.
Jon was tossed into the gilded room with all the care and precision of a sack of potatoes being hefted onto a truck. Between the handcuffs and the fact that he hadn't eaten since the day before, his efforts to stay balanced were doomed from the start.
"Leave us," snapped His Eminence, the Lord President of the Totally Democratic United Nation of America, without turning away from the floor-to-ceiling window before him. The lights of his garden, most of them focused on likenesses of himself in marble, hedge, and colored flower, glowed harshly in the moonless night.
A hum of uncertainty passed between Jon's guards. "Your Eminence, sir," began one, a woman with short brown hair and more muscles in her right arm than Jon had in his entire body, "he's dangerous. You know how crafty the resistance can—"
"Don't patronize me, soldier!" ordered His Eminence. "If I want to meet with an anti-government fanatic alone and unguarded, that's my right as Chief American. Now, run along. I'll call you if I need you."
The guards nodded sharply and departed, closing the gleaming white doors behind them. Jon seriously considered the merits of collapsing on the golden curlicues of the rug, then shook it off and got unsteadily up off his knees.
At last the Lord President swept away from the window. His suit was downright subdued, the classical style updated only with a few bits of gold braid and a set of ruby cufflinks at his wrists. "Have a seat, Jon," he directed, waving at one of the plush chairs framing a low oval table. "You look famished. What are they feeding you in those prisons?"
"Grits, mostly," said Jon. He couldn't stop his mouth from watering when the other man opened the door of what appeared to be a mahogany-plated toaster oven and pulled out a grilled BLT, but when His Eminence placed it on the table in front of him along with a tumbler of something fruity, he swallowed and kept his hands firmly in his lap. "You expect me to eat this? Just like that?"
His Eminence cocked his eminent head. "Do the cuffs make it awkward? I can have the guards cuff one of your hands to a chair instead. Then you'd have a free hand."
"It's not the handcuffs, Colbert!" exclaimed Jon. "Why are you doing this? You're treating me like a misbehaving dog that's finally been let back into the house, offering me a treat and seeing whether I'll behave. As if you think I'm going to start ignoring your dictatorship if you give me a sandwich!"
A few years ago, that kicked-puppy look on the Lord President's face would have had Jon rushing to soothe him, maybe with a reflexive apology for whatever bit of absurdity he had taken offense to. "Not just the sandwich," he said sulkily. "Obviously there would be more than just that."
"It's not going to make a difference."
"What if I gave you a job?"
"Any job you want," continued His Eminence, either misunderstanding or oblivious to the gaping incredulity on Jon's face. "Cabinet-level position? I'll kick out one of my secretaries. Or, if you don't like any of the ones I already have, I'll make up a new one. I can do that, you know. Want to be a four-star general? I can do that too. With all these treasonous generals getting dishonorable discharges, there's more than enough leftover stars to go around. How about my second in command? 'Lord Vice President' has a nice ring to it...."
The Lord President arched his eyebrows imperiously. He had gotten much too good at that. "We prefer to be called 'megalomaniac-Americans', Jon."
"You think my problem with your government is that I don't have enough power in it?" continued Jon, too furious to pause for breath. "You took over my country, you took my family, you've shipped my children off to some indoctrination camp — what could possibly make you think I would turn around and work for—"
"You want your kids back?"
Jon's heart stopped.
"I can't get the rest of them," added His Eminence, almost apologetically. "Your brother's still expatriated in one of those countries America hasn't taken over yet, and your wife disappeared somewhere into the underground eight months ago. But I know which camp your kids are in. They could come live here, if you wanted. Or — Lorraine's got this lovely little place on an island, lots of sunshine, fresh ocean breezes, only minimal guard, supply ships twice a week. How does that sound?"
It sounded impossibly good. "You'll let my kids go," repeated Jon, desperate not to misunderstand.
"That's the idea."
"Will you let the others go?"
The Lord President frowned in confusion. Jon kept his face neutral, refusing to think about what he was doing, never mind that it was the only thing possible.
"All of them," repeated Jon. "No more camps. Send all the kids back to their families." And put facts back in the regular school system, and restore the free press, and...one step at a time.
"I've put a lot of work into those camps," protested His Eminence softly.
There was a flash of something vulnerable in his eyes; Jon grasped frantically after it, hoping he hadn't made it up in the first place. "It's not too late," he insisted. "You can take them back. Anything you've done, you have the power to undo it. You can make everything right again."
The other man drew up in his eminent seat. "It was a simple question, Jon," he snarled, the last light in his gaze flickering out. "Work for me and have your kids, or go back to your cell. Pick a side. We're at war."
The starship Enterprise.
What had he done?
A margarita glass. That little speck of brown could be the maraschino cherry.
And were they ever going to feed him again?
Jon tried to force his mind back to picking out shapes in the block of cement next to his head. He wanted nothing more than to pace the tiny box of a room until he dropped from exhaustion, but if they really were trying to starve him to death, he wasn't ready to start helping them along. Not yet.
Daddy, we're proud of you. You stuck to your principles, tried to save lots of people, and didn't let that mean ol' President call your bluff.
A dog biscuit.
The state of Michigan.
Daddy, why didn't you come back for us? You said you'd do anything for us!
That was more like it. Vivid enough that Jon found himself pulling the lumpy pillow over his head, as if that could shut the voices out.
A person in a hammock. The streak of darker grey underneath could even be its shadow on the sand.
What Jon wouldn't have given for a hammock right then. Or a margarita. Or, heck, a dog biscuit.
Why had he turned down that sandwich, again?
Oh, right. He had principles. He was thinking of the greater good of his whole society.
Daddy, don't you love us anymore?
"Okay!" shouted Jon, deafening in the emptiness. "You win! Hear me? I'll work for you, I'll run whatever you want me to, I'll go on TV every night and sing your praises! Just give them back!"
There was an industrial thunk from outside, then the thick metal door rolled back. Jon kept the pillow over his head and squeezed his eyes shut, mentally kicking himself. He couldn't have made them wait a tiny bit longer?
"Mr. Stewart!" said a warm voice. "Alkaline Trio, am I glad I've found you."
Befuddlement briefly wrested control away from despair, long enough for Jon to abandon the pillow and open his eyes. The figure beside him was...unexpected. To say the least.
"Aren't you a little hot for a shock trooper?" he muttered.
"I get that a lot." The other man knelt beside the mat and offered Jon his arm. "Except for the part where I'm not a shock trooper. Come on."
"Where are we going?"
"Not where," corrected the other man. There was a reassuring gravitas to his voice, the like of which Jon hadn't heard in far too long. "When."
Chapter 2: Genderswap "Stephanie" angst (T)
A bit of genderswap angst. "Stephanie Colbert" has bought into a bunch of ugly conservative ideas about how women and men should treat each other. (This would be the intro to a story in which Jon helps her figure out how to have kinky submissive sex that lines up with her fantasies and the healthy, respectful relationship she deserves.)
When Jon got back from the vending machine (which was now stocked solely with Doritos), he found that Stephanie had taken a call in the meantime. He tried to creep in quietly, at least until he spotted the look on her face.
"Steph? Who are you listening to?"
Stephanie huddled protectively against the cushions, eyes pained and frantic as they turned to him. Dropping the Doritos, Jon darted over to the armchair and leaned in, putting his ear to the iPhone until he caught the sound of heavy breathing.
He snatched the phone out of Stephanie's limp fingers. "Who the hell do you think you—?"
There was a cheerful bleep as the call winked off.
"Creep," hissed Jon, setting the phone down. "Steph, are you okay?"
Gulping, Stephanie shook her head. "D-don't worry about it."
"Listen, if you get another call like this, just hang up, okay? You don't have to sit through that."
Stephanie wrapped her arms around herself and didn't answer.
"Steph," urged Jon, resting his elbows on the arm of the chair and leaning towards her. "You do know you're allowed to hang up, right?"
"B-but I'm not," insisted Stephanie. "Because I...I asked for it."
If Jon never heard that particular phrase out of her mouth again, it would be too soon. "Don't say that. Just because you're beautiful and don't hide it, that doesn't give anyone license to—"
"Jon, stop it! I mean, I asked for it!"
The gears turning in Jon's head slammed to a stop.
"I know it's — wrong," faltered Stephanie, staring resolutely at her shoes. "But I have these — these fantasies — where I am that irresistible, where people can't control themselves — so they'll call, and I can't stop them, and — I've asked for that."
Slowly, rustily, several of the gears began to creak in the opposite direction. "It's a kink."
"And...that guy I just yelled at...you two had an arrangement?"
"W-well, no. But I've done it before, so...."
Chapter 3: Olivia/"Stephanie" sexy jealousy (T)
More genderswap! This time, less angst, more ridiculous fun.
The start of a response to this prompt: "Stephanie" attempts to harass Olivia for having the nerve to be young and pretty and in close proximity to Joan. Olivia sees through her, recognizes her obnoxiousness as a convoluted bid to get someone to put her in her place, and does so. In sexy, sexy ways. In Joan's office.
Stephanie blew into the Daily Show offices with a rush of cold fall wind, glared daggers at Jo when the Brit made the mistake of saying hello with a bit too much cheer (plus, would it kill the woman to pass a comb through her hair once in a while?), and made straight for Joan's office, ignoring the protests of the hapless stagehand who attempted to inform her that Joan was off getting some location footage filmed. As if it mattered! Joan would be back eventually, and Stephanie was going to be there when she showed up. There was no time to lose.
Something had to be done about that new girl. The sooner, the better.
Oh, Stephanie had been suspicious from the start. Nobody that young and pretty, with her silky hair and slim hips and dazzling smile, could have enough talent to fill a job title once held by Stephanie herself. No loving God would create a world where that was possible. And it didn't help that Olivia, according to certain parts of the blogosphere (which Stephanie routinely would not have touched with a ten-foot pole thanks to their refusal to recognize Sarah Palin as the pinnacle of modern feminism, but which her gut told her were on to something this time), apparently had never done anything in her entire previous career except some kind of unspeakably lewd performance with a hot dog. A hot dog! Was there no decency on television these days?
("No, Joan, it's nothing at all like that bit I did with the banana," she had explained patiently, though she could see Joan wasn't getting it. "When I did it, it was classy.")
But Joan had gone and hired Olivia anyway, and it had all been downhill from there. Stephanie had sent her a perfectly civil message after her first piece, just the usual pleasantries: congratulations on your hiring, good luck with the job, if you make those big doe-eyes at Joan in any more segments I will hurt you.
Judging by her response, Olivia did not consider herself appropriately lucky that the world-famous Stephanie Colbert was paying attention to her in the first place.
The latest missive between them had been the worst yet. Stephanie had taken the time to type up a long and thorough email detailing all the perfectly logical reasons why, if Olivia continued in this direction, Joan ought to take her over her knee and teach her a lesson. Olivia's response had been curt to the point of rudeness: Meet me in Joan's office in fifteen minutes. Don't bring underwear.
And so it was that Stephanie had headed straight for Joan's office. Not to meet Olivia — she couldn't imagine that Joan would let Olivia sneak off with a key, the way she had with Stephanie. The place was just a coincidence. The point was to meet Joan, and have her straighten this mess out.
She whisked through the door, slammed it shut, and looked around for a place to hang the double-breasted coat she hadn't bothered to take off....
Stephanie nearly choked. Silhouetted against the window, so quiet that Stephanie's eyes had passed right over her, stood Olivia, looking almost professional in a dove-grey blouse under a charcoal jacket with matching slacks. Her arms were folded, with something dark clutched in one hand, but her grin was downright cute.
"I'm glad you showed up," she said brightly. "That's going to make this all so much easier."
"I didn't do it for you," warned Stephanie. "I'm here to see Joan. That's all."
"Sure you are. Take off your coat."
The burgundy fabric slid easily over Stephanie's shoulders, a gesture which would have been casual if not for the way Olivia was looking at her. "I was going to do that anyway," she glaring right back as she tossed it over an armchair. She was wearing a perfectly modest dark-rose power suit underneath — it wasn't like she was stripping.
"I like the suit," said Olivia, completely unintimidated as she looked Stephanie up and down. "Classic. Timeless. A good style for the mature woman."
Stephanie bristled. "At least I understand what's appropriate for the workplace! Not like you and your..." She waved vaguely in the direction of Olivia's neckline, sinking as it did a few inches below her collarbones. "...breasts."
Olivia rolled her eyes. "Look, it's not my fault if you can't stop staring at them."
Even when Olivia's jaw dropped it was cute.
"I mean—" blurted Stephanie, scrambling for a correction.
"No, no, it's all right." Olivia tapped the object in her hand against her arm. "Maybe I won't even have to use these."
Stephanie caught her breath. The younger woman was gripping the blades of a wicked-looking, gunmetal-grey pair of scissors.
"I mean, these are just insurance," she continued, nonchalant as ever. "In case you decided not to be a good girl. You're going to be good, right, Stephanie? Have you done everything I asked?"
"I didn't..." Stephanie took a step back, instinctively closing her legs and pressing her thighs together. Olivia couldn't really have expected her to walk over half-dressed! Sauntering down the street with the cold air brushing between her legs, wind playing with the hem of her skirt as if to tease the passersby with glimpses of her bare bottom, nipples straining against her blouse as it hugged her curves and left nothing to the imagination...okay, technically the heavy coat might have kept any of that from being a problem, but that hadn't stopped her from imagining it. "Don't be ridiculous! I'm decent."
"Oh." Olivia's face fell into an adorable pensive pout as she thought this over. "I guess we'll have to do some of this the hard way after all."
"I don't know what you're—"
"See, I have a theory," continued the younger woman, ignoring her. "I mean, you've been acting kinda like you hate me, here. And I was thinking, how can that be? She doesn't even know me! And then I figured it out. Either you are, like, ridiculously jealous..."
Stephanie's heart galloped in her ribs. "I'm not jealous! What would I be—"
"...or you need someone to teach you a lesson."
Chapter 4: The Mysterious 51st State of HOHOQ (G)
For a prompt from Melannen, who wanted something about John Hodgman, "Stephen", the Mysterious 51st State of Hohoq, and possibly Stephen Junior and Eleanor Holmes Norton. I...managed to write a summary! And, later, a whole First Scene.
You can brush up on the backstory of Hohoq by searching for the state name in the Amazon digitization of More Information Than You Require.
Each of us carves his own tunnel through hard stone, and each must cast his own light into the darkness, and deal with the bats as best he can.
Mole-man aphorism (John Hodgman, More Information Than You Require)
When Stephen Junior returns from his latest round of triumphing over small helpless rodents and wooing fine lady eagles, he confesses to Stephen that he feels something missing in his life.
Desperate to help his son, Stephen seeks out the purveyor of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE (I THINK YOU KNOW WHO I MEAN), who discerns that Stephen Junior is in fact A LOST BABY THUNDERBIRD. He also warns Stephen that the inhabitants of Stephen Junior's true home, Hohoq, are A SECRETIVE LOT, and that if Stephen attempted to set the entire Colbert Nation searching for it, he would likely find his studio BOMBARDED WITH THE DROPPINGS OF TWENTY-FOOT-HIGH BIRDS.
This is too dire a tragedy for Stephen to contemplate. But he cannot see his son suffer, so he sets off on AN EPIC QUEST about which he TELLS NO ONE...save for one person. You see, once he has realized that the inhabitants of Hohoq no longer have representation in Congress after that one brief and tragic term, he implores ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON to write him a letter of recommendation about his "bringing attention to the plight of unrepresented citizens" talents, so that he can have a secret bargaining chip in his pocket if things turn sour.
When the news of Stephen's disappearance begins to spread around the country, Ms. Norton grows worried. Although Stephen swore her to secrecy, she tracks down Mr. Hodgman, who confirms to her that HE HAD PREDICTED HER CALL, and thus she is not violating her oath. After reassuring Jon (who is of course OUT OF HIS MIND WITH WORRY) that they will take care of it, they set off on AN EPIC RESCUE MISSION.
THERE IS A ZEPPELIN INVOLVED.
Naturally, by the end of it all, Stephen Junior is reunited with his long-lost parents, and Stephen has charmed the Thunderbirds so thoroughly that he is scheduled to do A WEEK OF SHOWS LIVE FROM HOHOQ.
This fic brought to you by the letter H in sunrays.
"What can I do for you, Mr. President?"
"It's good to talk to you, Congresswoman," said Obama's preternaturally soothing voice on the other end of the line. "I wish we had time for a proper conversation, but I'm afraid we have a potential national security case on our hands."
"Understood. Is this line secure enough, or do we need to meet in person?"
"This will do for now. Do you remember a set of papers you were given when you first took office? Not classified information, strictly speaking, but not well known, either. They would have been written in a thin, spidery hand, and smelling faintly of vellum and old-fashioned ink."
"How could I forget," said the Congresswoman dryly. "You'll forgive me if my recall of the contents is somewhat faint. I need to focus on the issues affecting my constituents, not these fanciful old legends."
"My initial thoughts were along the same lines," admitted Obama. "I'm afraid we can no longer afford to be so dismissive. The state of Hohoq has reappeared."
The Congresswoman was not given to slouching at the best of times, but she found herself sitting up straighter nonetheless. "Is this true?"
"According to our best intelligence."
"And you believe they're...a security threat?"
"I believe our relationship with them is tenuous at best, and it would be in our national interest to establish communication as soon as possible."
"Forgive me, Mr. President, but why are you bringing this to me? I have no connections to Hohoq."
"It's another connection of yours that concerns me. Congresswoman, have you been in contact with Stephen Colbert recently?"
"He attempted to call my office last week, but we ignored it. I find that where Mr. Col-bert is concerned, it's best if we don't get involved unless we are fully prepared to deal with the consequences."
They had also ignored a follow-up call several days later from Jon Stewart, who, while reasonable in his own right, was almost certainly acting as a proxy for Colbert; and, after looking him up and discovering his connections to Stewart, a further call from a man named John Hodgman. Now that she thought about it, though, that was unusually persistent even for Colbert....
"That could be a problem," said Obama. Some note in his voice suggested that this was a profoundly diplomatic understatement. "Mr. Colbert went missing two days ago. His stated intention before he disappeared was to make contact with Hohoq, and we believe he may have succeeded."
"Are you telling me Mr. Col-bert could become our de facto envoy to the Thunderbirds?"
"That, or the first casualty in an outright inter-state conflict," said the President gravely. "Either way, Ms. Norton, let me be clear: you are already, inexorably, involved."
Chapter 5: Olivia/Kristen college AU (T)
Olivia/Kristen, college AU. No plot, just some angst and some dancing.
The floor is shaking, the Lady Gaga techno mix thumping, and so much alcohol flowing that it's a wonder nobody's passed out yet. Kristen drains the last of her red plastic cup and leaves it on the kitchen counter, sauntering out into the living room to prove that yeah, women's studies kids can dance.
She gyrates and slinks, rolls her shoulders and tosses her curls, and figures she's doing great until she takes a step back and nearly knocks someone over. "Someone" turns out to be Olivia Munn, who's already sort of wobbly even when nobody's bumping into her, and wearing a backless dress that appears to be made entirely out of sequins. She doesn't actually fall, so Kristen curves red lips into a growl and takes a muted swipe with imitation claws, playing it off as a joke.
Olivia laughs, teeth flashing in the low light, and swings her hips until suddenly she's dancing in tandem with Kristen, all elbows and long legs and seriously, what's holding that dress on, tape? Girl's got rhythm, but if she knows any actual dance steps they've gone the way of her balance, leaving only a charming kind of geek flail that meshes weirdly well with Kristen's sultry hottie-in-a-little-black-dress, just-ignore-the-voice prowl. Face-to-face, Kristen kind of wants to get her hands on Olivia's hips, only what if she accidentally tears those sequins? That would suck.
Turns out Olivia's not worried. One minute they're just breathing each other's air, the next Olivia's hips are grinding against Kristen's, Olivia's hands cupping her face to pull her into a hot, wet kiss. Kristen's hands find the relative safety of her back, bare skin veiled only by long black hair, and hold on. She tastes like cheap alcohol and whipped cream.
Some guy a few feet away wolf-whistles, triggering smattered clapping from the couches shoved against the wall. Olivia yanks away from Kristen like she's been burned, but pastes on a genial smile before flipping them the bird.
Chapter 6: Jon/liberal!"Stephen"kink + romance (soft R)
Scenes from the Liberalverse AU. (Based on an AU segment from the show itself, and it's a tragedy that it's no longer watchable on the TCR website, because it was glorious.)
Liberal "Stephen" is as kinky as his conservative counterpart, but on the dom side. Naturally, he's very concerned that his desires are problematic and oppressive. Here we find a bunch of semi-connected scenes of him figuring out (with Jon's full support) how to make it work.
"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.