||[Sep. 3rd, 2004|10:04 pm]
Ninja Pirate Mafia Force
|||||"Christmas" -- Tommy||]|
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is in an incredibly rough draft state, meaning lots of bad things happen here and canon still isn't solidified. Comment, correct, and let's get Draft 2 on the road. I'll probably end up posting more notes in a separate post.
Jon doesn’t believe in love.
“Love is like… oxygen,” Claire had said, once upon a time in a bar far, far away.
Jon had made a face. “No, ‘s not,” he replied, his eyes slightly unfocused. “Oxygen’s… ‘s a concrete element. Can’t be broken down. Pure. Combines with hydrogen to make water. Love can’t do that.”
“That’s not the fucking point,” Claire argued back, because that’s what Claire does. “No one can live without oxygen, right? No one can live without love.”
“Bacteria can,” Jon said. Claire gave him a puzzled look. “Some bacteria can live without oxygen. Why shouldn’t they be able to live without love?”
“Do you really want to be a fucking bacteria?” Claire asks. “No. You don’t. So shut the fuck up and keep drinking.”
Jon doesn't know. Some days, the idea of being a prokaryotic organism sounds positively delightful.
Some laws were never meant to be disproven.
“Fucking traffic court,” Jon explains when he arrives forty-five minutes late to a critical Crimson Blossom team building exercise.
Claire nods in understanding, Will looks vaguely pissed, and Stephen is, as always, confused.
“Traffic court?” he repeats, a slight furrow on his perfect brow. “Presided over by a King Traffic?”
Will looks more than vaguely pissed, and Jon almost feels sorry for Stephen. Almost. But then, if Stephen hadn’t been abducted by members of the Demonic Redemption Cult on American soil, Jon wouldn’t have had to go barreling down the I-5 at one hundred and ten miles per hour to save the alien’s sorry ass. Not that the ass itself was sorry looking, no, that was an observation for another experiment, and one that Jon wasn’t entirely sure he was allowed to perform yet.
“Yes, Stephen,” Will says with acidic sarcasm. “Because in America, that beautiful cradle of democracy and freedom and cheeseburgers, we also have a monarchy that makes sure we don’t burn too much rubber.”
Jon holds his breath, praying that Stephen will get a clue and shut up, but he doesn’t.
“I see,” he says instead. “In the sixth dimension, a beautiful cradle of fascism and grishnkha, we too have Traffic Kings who must make sure that no one burns substances deemed to be illegal by the gods.” His gaze turns to Jon. “Should this king wish to settle this matter by combat, I would be honored to serve as your champion.”
Jon isn’t sure if he should laugh or cry or pull Stephen into a hug and kiss him senseless. He settles for the one option left to him.
“Stephen,” he says shortly. “Shut up.”
Will is the chaos vector of their little dysfunctional family. It was Will who suggested that Jon sing “Wild Thing” in the karaoke bar in front of the entire Force. It was Will who went home to his tiny, Force subsidized apartment and broke his amp at two in the morning trying to get more volume out. Will was the one who wore black eyeliner and endangered their lives on a weekly basis and had a strange history.
But Stephen, Stephen seems bent on giving Will a run for his money. Stephen, who’s polite and courteous and knows something about everything, is causing Problems with a capital P. Stephen is always there. He never fucks off to a remote location without telling anyone (like Will does), he never gets a look of panic on his face when Jon stares at him (like Will does), and he never lets Jon spend the night in the lab (like Will does).
Jon used to think that Stephen was a cornerstone of order, but he’s not. He’s chaos, pure and simple, because there is no way in hell that order could make Jon go home feeling like he was going to vomit butterflies or keep him awake at two in the morning wondering if Stephen ever gets homesick or finds his mattress too comfortable.
Not that Jon would ever admit that he goes home and vomits butterflies or stays awake thinking about Stephen sleeping, because that’s a violation, that’s wrong.
On the other hand, he can’t reject it, either.
Not surprisingly, it’s Claire who puts the situation into perspective.
“They’re both alpha males,” she remarks to Jon as they watch Stephen and Will spar. “Fuckin’ think that they rule the fuckin’ pack, can’t stand the fact that the other one’s a threat, but the thing is that the leaders end up following the followers.” She takes a deep smoke and exhales. Jon doesn’t like thinking about the chances he has of getting lung cancer from Claire’s second hand smoke. “They both need a good fucking.”
Jon can’t argue with that. He just can’t.
Jon hates Stephen’s office, hates it with a fiery passion that he normally reserves for hating incorrectly cited bibliographies and falsified data. He hates the whitewashed concrete walls, he hates the bloodstain that won’t come out of the carpet, he hates the boring desk that just sits there and never collects any crap. He hates the bare bookshelves and the little rickety chair, and the stale air.
Stephen says his office reminds him of home.
One day, when Art’s being more obnoxious than usual and Will’s too busy doing Ninja Master tasks to be bothered, Jon goes down to the lower levels to take out his frustrations on poor, poor Stephen. The first thing he sees when he walks into that desolate place of work is a yellowish plant sitting on the desk.
“Was today National Dead Flower Day?” he can’t help but asking, because if it is National Dead Flower Day, he has the perfect excuse to buy Will two dozen dead roses.
Stephen looks blank. “Not that I’m aware of,” he says cautiously.
“Then why do you have a dead flower on your desk?”
And damn if Stephen doesn’t look pissy over that observation. “It’s not dead,” he says, a tad snappishly.
“Is it the rare yellow, crackling wildflower, then?”
“It needs some water,” Stephen says.
“It’s dead. You shouldn’t waste your time.” And god, there are days when Jon loves being fatalistic.
“In the sixth dimension,” Stephen begins, and Jon groans inwardly, “I was taught that perseverance was one of the Five Duties of a warrior. While my teacher implied that this duty’s main purpose was to ensure my triumph in any duel to the death, I have found that it works remarkably well with keeping cellulose-based organisms alive.”
“It’s still dead,” Jon says. “You can’t fix death, Stephen.”
“Not dead,” the alien says softly. “Perhaps a little damaged, but nothing proper care and affection cannot heal.”
Only later, when Will is bitching about Claire’s inability to turn in her paperwork in a timely fashion, Jon thinks that perhaps Stephen wasn’t just talking about plants.
It’s only day three of the Niku/Iku study, and already Jon has ugly black circles under his eyes and five o’clock stubble that stayed out too late and became eleven o’clock hair. No one’s been by his lab since he blew a vocal chord screaming at Art for crashing the main computer, and that was fifteen hours ago.
No one, that is, but Will--who came in and said, “Jon, Art’s fucking crying in my office right now. Do you remember our little chat on how to play nicely with others?”—and Stephen, who gave him one look and then poured him a cup of coffee.
Folger’s coffee. With extra sugar.
“We can get married in Canada or Belgium—take your pick,” Jon told him matter-of-factly in his half-whispered voice as he accepted the offered beverage, and then immediately regretted it.
Stephen, on the other hand, appeared to be unfazed. “I am afraid that I am unable to commit myself to another until my tasks here are complete,” he said evenly, and that had been the end of that.
Even now, Stephen is sitting across the table, writing up mission reports in his long, elegant hand.
“I don’t think I can do this,” Jon whispers, letting his head drop into the cradle of his hands. Stephen’s head shoots up. “Not to Niku.”
“Has it not come to your attention that that being is not Niku?” Stephen says.
“Isn’t she?” Jon lifts his head and lets himself stare into Stephen’s warm, intense eyes. “She retains all of Niku’s memories. She inhibits the same body and has the same DNA. We don’t know that she isn’t Niku.” He lets out a frustrated sigh. “But neither do we know that she is Niku, either—we can’t accept that. We can only fail to reject the hypothesis that she isn’t Niku.”
“Perhaps you should go home and sleep,” Stephen says, nodding imperceptibly at the now-empty coffee pot.
Jon shakes his head, “Will will have me eviscerated.”
“He shall have to kill me first and bury my bones on opposite sides of the earth,” Stephen says gently.
A thousand thoughts run through Jon’s mind—Come home with me, Stephen, and Never leave me, Stephen, and for some reason, Did I change the bulb on my nightlight?
“Besides,” Stephen continues, “I am sure Ninja Master Tierman will understand that you will be completely ineffectual if you are working at the point of mental and physical collapse.”
This isn't the declaration of eternal love that Jon was looking for, but maybe that’s how they do things in the sixth dimension.
Jon’s days in the hospital are nothing but a very bad, morphine-dulled nightmare at this point in time, but as the hours pass, he remembers more. He remembers the panic of waking up to darkness, and the feeling of being completely dissociated from the real world.
He can’t forget the long, elegant hand on his, and its magical anchoring properties.
He remembers Claire, crying softly at his bedside and promising to find a miracle cure. He remembers the Boss’ own gruff tones, promising him continued work. He remembers the first time Stephen kissed him, right before he was admitted to the O.R., but Stephen doesn’t like talking about that.
“It was highly unprofessional of me,” he said, and Jon’s hands could feel the blush on Stephen’s face. “Especially since you were in no condition to reject my advances.”
What Jon doesn’t remember is Will. Claire gets very quiet when he tries to wheedle information out of her, and Stephen abruptly changes the topic whenever the previous Ninja Master’s name is brought up. Jon’s angry about this, yes, mad as hell when he’s not busy wishing that he could cry.
Stephen has moved in—or perhaps a better way of saying that is that he hasn’t moved out yet—and is always there, right up in Jon’s personal space as if they were two friendly atoms sharing electrons. Stephen speaks mostly with his hands, guiding Jon around the coffee table, showing Jon where the silverware is on the table, rubbing Jon’s back when the stress levels go out the roof. He hasn’t kissed him, though, and for the first time, Jon is beginning to think that maybe Stephen’s devotion isn’t as constant as he thought.
“You can go home, you know,” he says on the fifth day.
“I know,” Stephen says, and gently shakes some water drops into Jon’s fried eye sockets.
“I don’t need pity,” Jon says in what he hopes is a clear, no-nonsense voice. “I’m broken. You can’t fix me.”
Before he can register the fact that the air molecules have suddenly been slammed out of the space they were happily bouncing about in, Stephen’s mouth is on his, Stephen’s hands are in his hair, and Stephen’s warmth is banishing Jon’s ugly demons back to the cold darkness where they belong.
“A little damaged, perhaps,” Stephen admits when they break apart, “But you’re perfect.”
There’s no way that can ever be proven, but if Stephen’s failed to reject the null hypothesis, there’s nothing Jon can do but kiss him back.