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The Hudson Kraken

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Stefon sends Seth a text halfway through a romantic dinner with his girlfriend in a cosy bistro ten minutes walk away from their small town BnB.

It's actually a picture text, a selfie of Stefon and Derek Zoolander in a bar somewhere. Zoolander is pouting into the camera, doing a perfect example of his new 'cold coffee' look but Stefon is ignoring the camera completely, gazing at Zoolander with a flirty smirk, the sort of smirk that Seth has been on the end of a few times, an assessing smirk, like Stefon's about to do something wicked. The picture isn't sent with any commentary at all, and Seth knows, he knows, Stefon has done this on purpose, but that doesn't stop the flash of white hot jealousy that runs instantly through him. He glares at his phone, overwhelmed, for a good ten seconds until he hears his girlfriend's voice talking to him from what feels like a great distance.

“Seth? Earth to Seth?”

Seth realises he's holding his phone in a death-like grip. He lets go of it and looks up at his girlfriend. She is a beautiful, angry lawyer, looking stunning in the warm candlelight of the bistro, and Seth thinks, like he has for ages now, that she is far too good for him.

“Sorry,” he says, hoping his voice doesn't sound as pissed off as he feels. “Stefon was just – ”

“Oh, was Stefon messaging you?” His girlfriend's voice is deceptively casual, but Seth is enough of an expert in relationships to know she means trouble. He shuts his mouth and watches her take a long, deep breath with a sense of impending doom.

“Look, Seth,” she says, sounding very calm and a lot like she is dealing with a difficult client who just won't plead guilty no matter how hard she tries to persuade them, “I know Stefon is important to you – ” She doesn't say God knows why but Seth hears it anyway, “ - But we both agreed we need this time away together to work on our relationship, and I don't think messaging your...friend...is going to help that.”

She leaves a deliberate pause around the word 'friend' and Seth feels like a complete bastard. She must have sensed, even just a little bit, his irrational jealousy.

“You're right,” he says, and quickly pockets his phone without looking at it, taking her unresisting hand. “You're right, of course, I'm sorry. Okay, just the two of us it is. Tell me about your day.”

His girlfriend relaxes and starts a long story about a case she's working on, and Seth makes sure he looks like he's listening hard, all the while thinking uncharitable thoughts about the photo on his phone.

Stefon can wait for a reply, he decides grimly. Asshole.

 

After dinner, in which Seth's girlfriend does most of the talking and Seth listens half-smitten and half-pretending to be smitten, they take an evening stroll by a nearby lake. They lean on some railings for a while to watch the last of the daylight fade from the sky and Seth's girlfriend lays her head on his shoulder. It all looks very romantic to the unsuspecting eye.

“Hey,” Seth says, struck by sudden inspiration. “We should commemorate this moment.” And he whips out his phone to take a selfie of the two of them. His girlfriend smiles brightly into the camera, fooled into thinking he's being sweet, her head on his shoulder, and he makes sure to look as happy as possible before he takes the photo.

When they decide to walk back to the hotel, he waits until his girlfriend's back is turned and sends the photo to Stefon.

Two can play at this game.

 

Derek Zoolander's Halloween Blowout is, to Stefon's mind, a Halloween flop. SoWoHeNoBoHeWo is a bit of a lame area considering it's actually just a half sunken barge on the Hudson river, and there's not enough prescription drugs to go around. John Galliano turns out to be a complete disappointment – he doesn't even chuckle at Stefon's 'rigor mortis' look. What's worst of all is that his Zoolander-Stefon selfie, carefully constructed to get the maximum rise out of Seth, hasn't gotten him one reply, not even a passive aggressive one. Maybe Seth is too busy having fun with his girlfriend to care about Stefon. Stefon is depressed and even the anti-depressants in his stash of prescription drugs aren't working.

Zoolander hangs around for a bit but when it's clear Stefon has zero interest in making out with him, he wanders off to find someone else to plague. Stefon is busy nursing his drink (something pink with those bubbles you get in bubble tea, except it's like all bubble tea bubbles, and they taste suspiciously like a shot of vodka each) when his phone dings and he almost chucks it across the room trying to get it out of his pocket.

It's a photo. A very pretty and romantic photo of Seth and his happy looking girlfriend. Stefon actually wants to chuck his phone across the room for real now.

“Ooh,” says Zoolander, popping up out of nowhere and peering over Stefon's shoulder. “She's hot. Is that Meyers's girlfriend?”

Stefon slams his phone down on the table with more force than he meant to. “She's not hot.”

Derek snorts. “Hey man, I can tell a hot girl when I see one, I'm not that gay. Guess your plan to piss him off didn't work.”

Stefon says nothing, instead focusing his attention on chewing the vodka bubbles in his tea. He's vaguely surprised when Zoolander gives his shoulder a friendly pat and says, “Come and dance and forget about him.”

Not possible, Stefon thinks, but lets Zoolander lead him to the dance floor anyway.

 

Their cute BnB bed might be the most comfortable Seth has ever lain in but somehow he's still finding it impossible to sleep. All is silent around, his girlfriend is sound asleep after probably a little too much wine, and yet Seth is just lying there, staring at the ceiling, his mind whirling. Stefon hasn't replied to his photo and he is now getting more than a little worried that he's gone a bit far. What if Stefon thinks Seth really is happy with his girlfriend?

Which he is. Obviously. Why wouldn't he be?

And yet...

Seth turns onto his side and picks up his phone from the side table, thinks for a bit, then types out a quick message:

How's the charity event going?

There's a horrible wait which feels longer than the actual two minutes it is, and then he gets a volley of replies:

ugh

boring

also it's sinking

Boooooolander is boring

Seth almost laughs out loud and then remembers he's in the bedroom with his girlfriend. He's suddenly desperate to hear Stefon's voice and remembers there was a small sitting room downstairs for guests to sit and read in. As quietly as possible he gets out of bed, wrestles on one of the hotel bathrobes over his pyjamas and sneaks out of the bedroom, making his way to the sitting room. There's no one in there, though there is a slowly dying fire in the wood-burner in the middle of the room. Seth sinks down into a comfy chair, prods the dying embers with a poker until it blazes up again and then calls Stefon.

Stefon answers, sounding a bit breathless. “Heeeeey.”

“Hi!” says Seth, pulling his bathrobe closer around himself. He can hear the faint bass beat of a nightclub in the distance, but it echoes oddly, like Stefon is in the toilets or something. “How's Boooooolander?”

“Oh my God,” says Stefon in disgust. “He is the worst. He complimented BoJo on her haircut.”

“That doesn't sound so bad,” Seth protests.

“BoJo is a nine foot tall waxwork, Seth Meyers,” says Stefon. “He was talking to her for twenty minutes before he realised she wasn't moving.”

Seth lets out a bark of laughter before he can stop himself, then claps his hand over his mouth in an effort to be quiet, giggling through his fingers. He suddenly feels warm all over – the fire must finally be having some effect. He can hear Stefon cackling lightly on the other side of the phone and suddenly forgets that he was meant to be pissed off with him - all is immediately forgiven.

“Well it's still got to be better than this place,” he says, once they've both calmed down. “We went to see the only attraction this town has got and it was a pond.”

Stefon lets out a shrill giggle. “Sounds awful.”

“You'd hate it,” Seth says happily, imagining Stefon pacing around the BnB, complaining about the peace and quiet. He's suddenly sure that if Stefon was here, things would be a lot more fun. Stefon somehow makes everything more interesting just by existing. “Maybe I should have been your plus one to that event instead,” he admits.

Hell yes,” Stefon says fervently, and this time Seth can't blame it on the fire – he feels warm all over, his insides tingling. He grins down the phone even though he knows Stefon can't see it, and he senses from the silence on the other end of the phone that Stefon is doing the same. “Although,” Stefon considers, after a pause, “This whole barge is kind of sinking so it would be a short date. I think the coastguards are coming soon.”

“I've never ended a date on a lifeboat before,” Seth says, aware he's still grinning. “Do you think we'd get free lifejackets?”

“And a cup of tea,” Stefon agrees. “Unless the Hudson kraken gets us.”

Seth laughs again. “There's no Hudson kraken!”

“Shows what you know,” Stefon retorts, and Seth can hear from his tone of voice that he's still smiling, and he thinks with a vague wonder I make one of the funniest people I know smile.

“Hey, Stefon,” he says without thinking about it, “When I get back, do you wanna have a night out?”

Yes,” Stefon says immediately. “And I know the perfect place to go.”

Seth relaxes at last, warm and happy, scrunched up on the chair, the phone pressed between the side of the chair and his cheek. It makes Stefon's voice sound closer. “Does it have everything?” he asks.

“You know it,” says Stefon, and when Seth closes his eyes he can almost imagine Stefon is there.

“Tell me then,” he says, and lets Stefon's words wash over him.

 

Seth knows he's in trouble, really in trouble, relationship-with-girlfriend-over trouble when, weeks later, he comes across their romantic selfie on his phone and his first thought is I wonder if there really is a Hudson kraken.