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29 May 2007 @ 17:13
A Little Post-Finale Steve and ? fic  
Coupling Fic

Title:
Psychic Strain

Disclaimer: The characters depicted belong not to me, but to Steven Moffat and all at Hartswood Films. This homage makes no profit whatsoever.

Summary: Post Series 4, Susan expects Steve to know what she’s thinking about. This one would do better as a film/episode, as I wrote it with visual gags in mind.

Feedback: Feedback would be a delight, as I'm not sure this rally works in a written medium. If you want to archive away from here, ask me first.

Rating/Warning(s): 12A just in case the comedy violence affects younger readers. :-P

*-*-*

A pair of red stilettos, of improbable, uncomfortable height accompanied Steve’s tried and trusted, slightly battered brown shoes through the front door. They stopped in the threshold, and one red pointed toe slid coquettishly up Steve’s corduroy-clad leg, no higher than his knee, before kicking back in the classic “Hollywood Kiss” pose. Feminine giggling quickly followed, suddenly hushed.

“The baby,” Steve’s voice whispered huskily. “We don’t want to wake the baby… Or his mother.”

The legs revealed Susan’s dangerously miniature red dress, a favourite of Steve’s. The cords were worn by a mustachioed Steve Taylor, and topped by a gorgeous shirt, open to the chest, revealing Mediterranean chest hair and a gold medallion. In the arms of this Lothario was not Susan, but Jane, smiling gleefully as she wrapped her leg around his and the pair kissed again, deeply and passionately. Casanova-Steve smirked, and twirled his moustache, emphasising the shapeliness of his mouth.

Jane drew back from him, and said, “But does it even matter if Susan knows? She can’t stop us, you know.”

“Fat cow,” Steve agreed.

The two leaned back and gave full throat to deep, malicious belly laughs.

In a dark corner of the room stood Dawn French in a blonde wig.


*-*

Susan awoke with a start and a gasp. She looked around. She was in her bed, their bed. Joshua’s crib stood in the corner. Steve lay at her side, clean-shaven as always, deeply asleep. Jane was nowhere to be seen.

“It was just a dream,” she said softly.

Steve rolled over and began to snore.

*-*-*

Steve sat in the living room, tapping away at his laptop. Susan came in and sat beside him on the sofa.

“What’s wrong?” Steve asked cagily.

“Nothing. Why do you think that something’s wrong?” Susan asked innocently.

“Well,” Steve began reluctantly, “you have that look on your face. The one that says, “Apparently”. Like I’ve said or done something wrong. Have I done something wrong?”

“No, you haven’t done anything wrong at all, Steve,” Susan said in an unsuccessfully comforting tone. “I just wanted to ask you a little question.”

“Ask away,” said Steve, returning his gaze to the computer’s screen.

“Do you think I’m fat?”

No!” Steve said instantly, and just a touch too loudly.

“You didn’t look at me,” said Susan, scowling unhappily. “And you didn’t think about it, either.”

“Well, I’m not supposed to take my time thinking or looking when answering that particular question, am I? Just like when I ask you if size really matters. You say “no” without thinking about it,” said Steve.

“Do I?” Susan asked sardonically.

“And you’re not fat, anyway,” Steve added defensively, ignoring her interjection.

“Apparently not,” Susan said frostily.

“What? What can you possibly have a problem with? I just told you you’re not fat!”

“Apparently,” she sniffed.

“What do you want me to say? That I think you’re fat? I don’t. I just don’t. I’m not going to lie to you and say I think you’re fat-”

“You think I’m fat? How could you say that?” Susan glared at him and stalked from the room.

“But I didn’t,” Steve said plaintively to no-one in particular. “I said I wouldn’t say it.”

*-*-*

Steve made his escape to the bar as soon as Susan’s mum showed up to sit for Joshua. He all but ran to the bar, and almost downed his whole pint in a single gulp.

“You alright, Steve?” Patrick asked.

“Not ‘specially. Susan and I had a huge row today,” said Steve dejectedly.

“What about?”

“I’m not entirely sure,” Steve said, grimacing. “I think I might have inadvertently called her fat.”

“How do you inadvertently call someone fat?”

“I don’t know,” he complained. “She asked if I thought she was fat and I said I didn’t, and wouldn’t call her fat if she asked me to, and she got all offended. It was awful. Have you ever had that problem?”

“You never really got to know Sally, did you?” Patrick asked sarcastically. “I wind up offending her on a daily basis. She asks what I really think, and says she won’t mind, and I fall for it every time. Without fail.”

“How d’you fix it, then?”

“Well, I find seduction works very well,” he said. “But – I’m assuming she still doesn’t want any you-know-what - you might try actually apologising first.”

“But I didn’t do anything wrong,” Steve complained. “And I still don’t know why she’s stopped being interested in sex, either. I feel constantly like there’s this embargo on intimacy. I’m starting to feel like I’m constantly in the wrong. And this fight – I did nothing wrong, Patrick!”

“That’s not the point, though, is it? She’s feeling insecure, and you have to ... um, secure ... her,” Patrick said.

“But that’s what I tried to do,” Steve protested.

“Then I don’t know what you should do. Blanket apologies and seduction are what works with Sally, and any number of other women,” said Patrick, busying himself with his drink.

*-*-*

“Sally, this is urgent, crisis crunch time. Let’s not include Jane tonight,” Susan said into her mobile phone, praying that Sally checked her voice messages before heading to the wine bar.

Susan just knew she wouldn’t be able to face Jane, not after she betrayed Susan in her dream. Sadly, a private conversation between Susan and her best friend was not to be had; Jane was there waiting for Susan, and Sally had yet to arrive.

“Hello Jane,” Susan said stiffly.

“Hi Susan, how are you? Oh, never mind, I don’t care, I’ve got a proper boyfriend now, who doesn’t want me to be bisexual to want to shag me and I’ve been shagging non-stop since we… Oh wait, you know already. Well, I’ll tell you again, anyway!” Jane bubbled ecstatically.

“No! Jane, please don’t. I’ve forgotten what non-stop shagging is like, now that I’m a full time mother.”

“Oh? I don’t know what you mean,” said Jane.

“I think Steve’s gone off sex,” Susan blurted out.

“What? No-oooo!” Jane said, bursting out laughing. “Oh, wait, you’re serious. But Steve loves sex, he’d never stop shagging even if he wanted to break up with you – just look at the way we ended things,” she said, doing her best to sound worldly-wise.

“Really,” Susan said flatly, clearly getting annoyed.

“Oh, yes. You know he was shagging me in the loo the first time he asked you out? I bet you’re wrong about him having gone off sex. It’s probably just you.”

*-*-*

Sally arrived at the wine bar to find it in disarray, with a wild catfight taking place in the middle if the floor. Susan and Jane were grappling desperately, screeching, pulling hair, slapping at one another and generally having out all the aggression they usually kept under control with snippy witticisms.

All the male staff members were watching avidly. Some were exchanging wagers on the outcome.

Sally ran outside, dialling as quickly as she could.

*-*

“Susan and Jane are doing what?” Steve all but bellowed into his mobile. “I’ll be right there.”

*-*

“Do you think Sally might have exaggerated?” Patrick asked; sipping from a hastily-bought bottle of Guinness as Steve drove to Susan and the girls’ hangout. He had agreed to let Steve drive so he could enjoy the spectacle properly, with a drink in hand, as is only proper in such circumstances. Of course such circumstances usually involved pay-per-view and total strangers, but Patrick was not about to complain.

“Unlikely. She might not have a good self-image, but Sally’s not usually given to bouts of random spouting. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Jane started it for a bit of attention,” said Steve as he looked for parking.

“Excellent! I love a bit of girl-on-girl-”

No, Patrick,” said Steve firmly. “It’s not a spectator sport.”

“These guys seem to think it is,” said Patrick when Steve had parked the car, pointing to a group of men clustered near the windows, where the blinds had been fully raised by some enterprising young waiter.

Steve and Patrick battled their way through the crowd of leering men and shocked-but-secretly-thrilled women to the door of the wine bar. They stood, watching in shock through the window for a few moments.

“I knew I should have moved away after Jane and I broke up,” Steve said mournfully. “I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen for years. She’s always needling at Susan’s insecurities.”

“You knew this was going to happen? You knew Jane and Susan were going to have an out-and-out catfight, and you never told me?” Patrick asked incredulously. “It’s all right, we’re with the participants,” he said to the man at the door, much to Steve’s consternation.

Once inside, Steve remembered himself, reached forward and grabbed at Susan, pulling her bodily out of the fracas, nodding at Patrick to do the same with Jane. The gathered crowd moaned in disappointment at the lack of an outright winner.

“What do you think you’re playing at?” Steve asked Jane furiously.

“What? Why are you blaming me?” Jane complained. She pointed at Susan. “She started it!”

“No, Jane, she didn’t. I have explained this to you many, many times. I wasn’t happy in our relationship, and now I’m with Susan, and we have a baby, and I am perfectly happy as I am,” said Steve vehemently.

“Actually, Steve,” Susan butted in, “I did start it.”

“No,” he said in disbelief.

"Yes."

"You didn't."

“Yes. I did, Steve. But it was all perfectly justified. She was bragging about all the sex she’s having while we’re not, and, well, she seduced you away from me!”

The assembled crowd gasped aloud at the revelation. Steve just looked from Jane to Susan in deep confusion.

“No she didn’t,” he said uncertainly.

“No, she didn’t, not in real life, Steve,” Susan said patiently, talking to Steve as if he was a child. “But I had this dream last night…”

“A dream. You had a dream. And in this dream my ex seduced me, so you decide to have fisticuffs with her in the real world.”

“Do people still say fisticuffs?” Patrick asked.

“That’s right,” Susan said to Steve, ignoring Patrick.

“I think that we need to have a proper conversation about this whole thing. Wait - is that why you picked that fight with me? Because you dreamt I went back to Jane?” Steve asked indignantly.

Susan nodded. “Yes. You were a mustachioed Lothario,” she began.

“Do people still say mustachio?” Patrick asked.

“You didn’t see him. This was no ordinary ‘tache, this was straight out of a 1950s B-Movie; and Jane was glamorous and gorgeous,” Susan replied.

“Thank you, Susan,” said Jane brightly.

“And you?” Steve asked shrewdly.

“Dawn French in a blonde wig,” said Susan, looking at the floor.

*-*-*

“It was nice of the management to give us these bottles of wine for free,” said Susan mock-cheerfully to Steve, back at their flat.

She was worried. Steve had said very little following her revelation at the wine bar, and had hurried the group home as fast and with as little fuss as possible. Beryl came out of the bedroom briefly, but went straight back in upon seeing Susan’s dishevelled appearance and Steve’s serious expression.

“Well you did improve business tenfold with that little stunt you pulled,” Steve said seriously. “Why didn’t you tell me about the dream?”

“Because I felt it was silly to get so worked up over nothing,” said Susan.

“And yet you caused a public brawl without any such qualms,” said Steve flatly. “I told you earlier: I think you’re gorgeous. I will continue to tell you that until you get it into your head that you are. And Dawn French is my favourite comedienne ever. I love the French and Saunders Christmas specials. It’s no shame to compare yourself to her. And you’re more Ulrika Jonsson than Dawn French anyway. What I don’t understand is why you picked fights with me and my ex.”

“I wanted you to ask me what was wrong,” she said in a small voice.

“I did. And then you took umbrage at the fact that I don’t think you’re fat,” said Steve defensively.

“I meant I wanted that last night. I sat bolt upright in bed and you just rolled over and started snoring. I always woke up when you had those execution nightmares,” she pointed out.

“That’s because your sleeping patterns were all changed around because you were pregnant. You’d have woken if a butterfly had fluttered past the window. One night you actually did. You could have woken me, you know, last night,” he said reasonably.

“I wanted you to wake up, a then, without my doing anything, and... I don’t know, reassure me that you’re still attracted to me. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve had sex?”

“Six months, three weeks, two days, ten hours and forty-something minutes. It’s been that long for both of us, Susan, not just you,” said Steve immediately.

“Well, why? Why haven’t we?”

“Well, first you were too pregnant to do anything ... comfortably, then you had to recover from the operation, then you were exhausted, and then, when you had adjusted to being a mum you just weren’t interested,” said Steve, rattling the list off as if he’d thought about it quite a bit, which he had. “One day I woke up with morning glory and you elbowed me so hard I was bruised for a week.”

“Oh,” said Susan in a small voice. “I just wanted you to ... know... You know?”

“I’m not a psychic, Susan. I love you, but I never know what you’re thinking. Never ever, ever. The only person who knows that is you; and you, and every woman in the world expect me and all men to know instantly what you’re thinking; and you’re always asking us what we’re thinking, and when we say, “Nothing” which is usually true, you don’t believe us! It’s not fair! When we men do think, you always know what it’s about, because we have the decency to generally have only one thing on our minds! You women, on the other hand, think about lots of things - big things and little things - that men really don’t understand! Or care about! And then you expect us to know at a second’s notice what it is you’re actually thinking about, and we don’t, because there’s so many possibilities, and then you get hurt and cross with us and we end up fighting and I don’t want to fight with you! I just want to be a good boyfriend. And I feel because I don’t know what you’re thinking, like I’m just rubbish,” Steve said softly, exhausted from the force of his frustrated rant.

Susan walked over to Steve and wrapped her arms around him, giving him a big hug.

“I’m sorry, Steve,” she said quietly. "I should have said something. I - I don't mean to have impossible expectations..."

“I beg your pardon?” Steve asked. “Did I just hear you correctly? Did you just apologise? I can’t remember the last time you apologised to me.”

“Don’t get too used to it,” Susan said, smiling happily.

“It happened once – you actually apologised. This will go down in the annals of history as a great victory for all of mankind,” Steve teased.

“So, tell me, Steve, just how attractive do you find Dawn French?” Susan asked with a wicked grin.

Steve bent down and kissed Susan. “Not half as attractive as I find you.”

*-*-*
 
 
Current Mood: awakeawake
 
 
 
mrs_norringtonmrs_norrington on 29th May 2007 22:00 (UTC)
Awww... He is right about women expecting men to know what we're thinking. :)
classicist lass: Steve hearts Susanclassics_lover on 30th May 2007 16:53 (UTC)
He is. I've been trying to get this one written since January. ... I'm still not completely happy with it, but, meh.
mrs_norringtonmrs_norrington on 30th May 2007 21:09 (UTC)
I know how you feel, but it's perfectly great. :)
lichtalb on 23rd June 2007 19:36 (UTC)
Lovely.
I especially like the monologue at the end. Very much like in some of the episodes. Good job! :)
classicist lass: Steve hearts Susanclassics_lover on 25th June 2007 15:15 (UTC)
Thank you!

It's good to hear that. I'm glad the rant monologue really worked, I was quite worried that it didn't. Thank you for commenting.