jamapanama: Jon beckin' out in front of the chalkboard (jon beck)
[personal profile] jamapanama posting in [community profile] thirdmonday
Title: Tryin' To Find My Way Home
Recipient: [personal profile] blam
Fandoms: The Daily Show RPF, The Colbert Report RPF, Pundit RPF
Rating: PG
Warnings: College-student angst...which is to say, DON'T CRY EMO KID.
Characters/Pairings: Jon/Stephen, Keith/Anderson, Rachel, prior Jon/Denis, prior Stephen/Amy/Paul
Prompt: TDS/TCR - Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert; "I was driving through the misty rain/Just searching for a mystery train/Bopping through the wild gloom/Trying to make a connection with you" (Radio Nowhere, Bruce Springsteen)

Disclaimer: Not mine, not real. Please to not sic the lawyers on me?

Author: [personal profile] queenfanfiction
Author's note: ...and now I think I understand the appeal of college/high-school!AUs, omg. Title yoinked from Bruce Springsteen's "Radio Monday," which I may not have listened to twenty-some times in succession on YouTube.

There was someone standing outside in the middle of a goddamn thunderstorm.

Jon had been hurrying to get to his next class, dashing across the quad with his hoodie pulled tightly around his face to keep out the wind and the freezing rain that left his cheeks covered with a fine mist of coldcoldcold, when he saw a lone figure on the patch of grass ahead of him, arms spread-eagled as if to welcome the truly horrible weather all by himself, with a white plaster sign by his feet that read: "FREE HUGS PLEASE TAKE ONE."

Jon wasn't sure if the guy was crazy and he sure as hell didn't have the time to decide if he didn't want to be late for Psychology, so he swerved away from the grass and kept running towards the nearby cluster of buildings where the class was hosted.

When he came back through the quad an hour later, it was still raining, and the perhaps-crazy person was still there. Hadn't even shifted his feet once, from the looks of it—he was still standing with arms outstretched and face upturned to better catch the rain.

"Hey," Jon said, and the boy twisted his head around to look. He was young, with an innocent face and freshly-cut dark curls that flopped helplessly into brown eyes, eyes that were bright and shining with the rain. A doe-eyed naïve sonofabitch, Denis would have said, but Denis was a world away and Jon was still busy trying not to think about him. "Are you crazy? You're going to die of pneumonia if you stay out here."

"Nuh-uh." The boy flashed a cheeky grin, all white teeth. "Momma's always said I had an iron constitution. Besides, I'd pay to die of pneumonia if it means I can stay outside that much longer."

"Stay outside?" Jon asked, surprised. "And do what? Give hugs?"

"Oh, but not just any hugs!" The boy spread out his arms wider than before, and only then Jon realized how much taller the boy was compared to himself. "They're hugs straight from South Carolina, and those are the best kind! And what's more, they're free!"

Jon had to hide his giggle behind his hand. The boy's enthusiasm was endearing, if a bit misplaced. "If they're the best kind of hugs, why don't you at least charge for them?”

"Because that would defeat the purpose! Hugs were meant to be shared, don't you know that?” The boy peered closer at Jon's face. "You wouldn't want one, would you?”

Jon thought about it for a moment, then shrugged off his backpack into the wet grass. "Why not," he said, and a second later the boy's arms were around him and Jon's cheek was pressed against the boy's rain-spattered jacket and for the first time all day Jon felt warm.

"I'm Stephen," the boy breathed into Jon's ear. "Nice to meet you."

"I'm Jon, and likewise," Jon said, just as lightning flashed above their heads and the ground shook with a thunderous ovation.

* *

Over the next week, Jon found himself looking forward to 9am Psychology like he never had before—not because the teacher had gotten any less boring or the subject any more interesting. No, his increased interest in the class lay solely in the smiling face Jon could count on seeing the moment he stepped out of the stuffy lecture hall and into the world outside.

“Jon! My best customer!” Stephen would greet him every morning, and Jon would find himself trying to stifle his embarrassing, unmanly giggle (I think it's cute! Stephen would protest, and Jon found the opinion surprisingly reassuring) at the same time Stephen's arms would embrace him tightly and give him the best present of the day.

By the third day, Jon started sticking around to talk to Stephen about things other than hugs. He learned that Stephen was a freshman, from South Carolina as he'd bragged about on their first meeting, and a potential candidate for the drama school. He could list all the characters from Tolkien in alphabetical order (and in Elvish) and Skyped every weekend with his friends from back home to play Dungeons & Dragons (the authentic version, not any of the cheap MMORPG knock-offs online, as he was quick to reassure Jon every chance he got), and as a result had gotten himself barred from his dorm's common room for being "that crazy Southern geek."

Jon could relate. Being the only Jew in freshman year was enough to alienate him from the rest of the school until he'd gotten to know some of the older crowd with similar—well, maybe not interests, but at least viewpoints.

"You should get out more," Jon said one day as they lounged in the grass together. Stephen's sign lay on Stephen's far side, as the quiet third member of their little group. "You know, meet people who like the same things you do, go out, have some fun..."

Stephen looked at Jon as if the latter had grown a pair of heads that breathed fire. "But Jon," Stephen said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "I'm here. With you."

"Oh. Well, anyway, uh." Jon looked up at the blue sky and puffy white clouds floating above their heads and tried to ignore the warm sensation blossoming in his gut. "Never mind."

* *

Two weeks later, Jon was still getting daily hugs from a very adorable and very strange boy named Stephen Colbert, and frankly he was getting very confused.

He finally spilled the entire story to his friends when they met for lunch at the local diner one afternoon, but he couldn't be sure if they'd been paying attention since Keith and Anderson were at it again, and Rachel was just doing her best to keep the boys from tearing each other's heads off in a public display of unresolved sexual tension resulting from pre-midterm anxiety.

"Yes, Jon, I'm listening," Rachel sighed when Jon expressed his concerns. Keith and Anderson were safely in opposite corners of the booth, separated bodily by Rachel and Jon; but if looks could kill, then Jon should have been bleeding out on the floor from the sharp glares being thrown across the table. "Sorry if I can't give you my undivided attention, but I've apparently been tapped to play mediator until someone passes their Political History exam tomorrow."

"Easy for you to say, you're a Public Policy major," Keith growled, and he stabbed at his sandwich with far more force than necessary. "Not all of us have a head for dates and names, Rach."

"Maybe some of us would, if you wouldn't distract us while we're supposed to be studying by sneaking the latest baseball results on your phone," Anderson pointed out, earning himself a flick of pickle juice from Keith's fork. "Ow, that was my eye, you bastar—"

"Guys, please," Jon said placatingly, then turned back to Rachel. "I really don't know what's going on. I mean, I know I like the guy, and I'm pretty sure he likes me in some way, but what—how do I—should I even—?"

“Look, Jon, I can't be your sassy gay friend right now. These two are quite enough for me at the moment." Rachel gently smacked both boys on their shoulders when they tried to protest. "But for what it's worth, Stephen sounds like a really sweet kid who's looking for a friend. If he wants to be anything more than that—well, that would be up to the two of you to decide."

Keith suddenly looked up from molesting his sandwich. "Wait, Stephen Colbert? Isn't he the nutcase who protested Senator Franken's speech at the beginning of term? He was shouting about comedians becoming politicians being a shame to both professions, or something like that. Either he's crazy, or he's got the balls of Goliath."

"I don't know, I thought that kid was kind of funny," Rachel said.

"Maybe he's into performance art?" Anderson suggested.

"Anderson, shut up, that wasn't even funny."

"I wasn't trying to be funny! Jeez, it was just a suggestion!"

"Guys, come on, not this again!"

Jon leaned back in his seat and let his friends' bickering wash over him. He sighed unhappily. Well, that had been helpful.

* *

"Let's play a game," Jon said one morning when he and Stephen were outside together. It was raining again, a light drizzle this time, but that didn't stop Stephen from sitting away from the tree Jon had picked as the best shelter. (I like the rain, Stephen had insisted. Besides, you're more likely to die when lightning hits that tree than from pneumonia. I bet your textbooks didn't teach you that, huh?)

Stephen clapped his hands in excitement. "Awesome! I love games!"

"It's called," Jon continued as if Stephen had never interrupted, "Truth."

Stephen visibly wilted a little. "Maybe I don't like this game so much."

"No, come on, it's fun! You tell me a truth, and I'll tell you one back. Look, I'll start." Jon took a deep breath and started talking about Denis, about his filthy mouth (in more ways than one), about living with him in New York City after graduating from high school even though Jon was barely legal at the time and Denis was almost five years Jon's senior. Jon didn't say anything about what they did together, in bed or out of it, and he didn't talk about the fact that they'd broken up because, well, that part was kind of obvious, wasn't it?

"And even when he nearly burned the entire apartment block down, he still wouldn't stop chain-smoking before bed," Jon finished. "Marlboro Lights. I'd know the scent a mile away now. Denis always used to say, if you couldn't tell the difference between a Marlboro and a Camel, you weren't worthy of smoking the latter or pissing on the former."

Stephen laughed, albeit a little shakily. "That sounds something like Amy would say," he said, and Jon understood that it was Stephen's truth time, now. "Amy, I've told you about her, from back home—we still Skype, do D&D together, that sort of thing. But it's not the same. I miss her, and—" Stephen picked at a blade of grass before continuing in a softer voice. "And Paul. I miss them both. Before college, they—they were my world, you see."

Jon thought of Denis, and he nodded. He knew how that went.

"It's not like we broke up or anything," Stephen went on. "She and Paul are still together, and we're all still really good friends. It's just that I wanted to go on, find something new to explore, and they—they didn't. They were happy enough with each other." Stephen shrugged helplessly. "It was Amy's idea, actually, to do this free hugs business. 'Maybe you'll find someone you can connect to,' she said. 'There's a whole world out there, buster, but you won't find anything unless you start to look.'"

Jon's throat was parched, an irony considering the water splashing on his face from the tree branches above him. "Well?" he croaked. "Was she right?"

Stephen cocked his head and considered Jon for a long moment. "I don't know," he said. "That would depend on what you decide to do in, oh, the next five seconds."

When Jon kissed Stephen, Stephen's arms automatically went around Jon's body for a hug, and Jon swore he could feel sparks of static electricity fly through the air and culminate in the lightning that jaggedly cut across the sky over their heads. Stephen pulled Jon closer, and Jon found himself outside the shelter of his tree, the water quickly soaking through his hair and shirt and mud staining the knees of his jeans.

And for once, Jon forgot to care, and he welcomed the chill of the rain on his skin as much as the warmth of Stephen's lips against his own, and for just one moment, that was all that Jon needed.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-02-23 11:43 pm (UTC)
blam: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blam
Hnnnnnng. <3

Oh God. Southern pride, D&D, Rachel as the beleaguered Sassy Gay Friend. Adorables. <3333333

(no subject)

Date: 2011-02-28 11:20 pm (UTC)
sarken: leaves of mint against a worn wall (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarken
I second this comment and add that Stephen giving out free hugs is absolutely perfect.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-14 02:37 am (UTC)
queenfanfiction: (Default)
From: [personal profile] queenfanfiction
LOL thank you, and thank you AGAIN for beta'ing! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-14 02:37 am (UTC)
queenfanfiction: (Default)
From: [personal profile] queenfanfiction

Thanks, bb! I'm glad you liked!! <3 *hugs*

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