|Fic: Stretch Marks and Freckles
||[Jun. 11th, 2009|05:18 pm]
All Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, all the time!
Title: Stretch Marks and Freckles
Word Count: 4473
Rating/Genre: PG, fluffity fluff fluff fluff
Author's notes: First fanfic ever, un-betaed, and this is out of my canon arena, so I'm running on hope, prayer, and a lot of imagination. Featuring a buzzed Beetle and a "my liberal arts education is USEFUL!" Booster. Inspired by this scan from here, (thanks for the link, poisonivory!) I just took it and ran with it.
"I gotta believe that in the future you've got some easier way of doing this. Help me out, Booster ol' buddy. How do you lose weight in the twenty-fifth century?"
"We laminate the tongue."
Ted was expecting something ludicrous, but he still spits his beer across the table when he hears. If Booster's pulling his leg... "C'mon!"
But Booster's face is straight. "Absolutely true. You can't taste things so you don't want to eat them. Of course, it's just a temporary epoxy and we remove it when the subject hits the correct weight. I doubt I could replicate it here."
Go figure the one time Booster is serious, the future science makes absolutely no sense. Ted knows for a fact that when he's stressed, he'll eat ANYTHING. Sure, Chocos and Yoo-Hoo are choice, but he's been known to gorge on oatmeal if nothing else is around. He might not be able to motivate himself to go to the store, but he can sure motivate himself to completely clean out the fridge. (Ted used to think one couldn't gain weight on oatmeal. He has since found out that all it requires is persistence.)
Ted rests his head against his beer bottle, hoping he's just too drunk to hear properly. "Laminate the tongue. You must be kidding me. That can't possibly work."
Booster shrugs. "It must, or they wouldn't do it. I've never had it done, so..."
Ted tilts his head a little to glare at him jealously. "Of course you've never had to do it. You're the goddamn Booster Gold, Adonis of the Justice League."
Ted knows his voice is developing an irritating singsong falsetto, but he's been getting ridiculed by Guy and exercised by Glory all week, and he needs to get the frustration out somehow. "Booster Gold is handsome. Booster Gold is perfect. Booster Gold can walk around in skintight tinfoil without shame or self-consciousness..."
"Hey!" Booster sounds hurt enough that Ted actually hears it. "It's not like I CHOSE to be this way. Though thanks for the compliment... I guess."
That's not quite enough to stop Ted from grumbling. "Of course you chose it. You chose your healthy eating habits and your nice workout routine, and your shiny, shiny behind..." He needs more beer. How fortunate that there is a bottle in front of him already.
"Ted. Almost everybody looks like me in the future."
Ted doesn't spit out his beer this time, but this is enough to actually stop his rant. He puts down the beer and raises an eyebrow. "Really?"
Booster shrugs. "It's the twenty-fifth century, Ted. You think I'm tall? I'm really not. The average height for a man my age was... oh gee, what is it in feet..."
"So, in the future, everyone is tall, athletic, with six-pack abs and a perfect ass? Wowzer. Sign me up, Booster old buddy."
Booster gives him a look. He seems to be holding his drinks better than Ted, this time around. Then again, that might be because he's still nursing his first. "That wasn't entirely what I meant. In the future, my body type is pretty common. If I had holos of my old football team, I'd show you, but trust me, I'm really not that amazing in the future."
"'Not that amazing,'" Ted parodies, but he hasn't quite had enough beer yet to silence the science bit of his brain. "Well, the height isn't that big a surprise--better nutrition and all..."
"Yeah, part of it's that, the medical care, that kind of thing." Booster agrees. "But c'mon, Beetle, you're the scientist. Do you really think abs have evolutionary value?"
"Well, my current LACK of abs seem to be giving me the bad side of natural selection..."
"That was supposed to be rhetorical, buddy. Careful, you're getting bitter." Not up for a witticism, Ted just grunts and nurses his beer. Booster continues with, "It's genetic engineering."
"I knew it. You're engineered to be pretty in the future." Ted chortles and decides to take out another beer.
Booster shrugs again. "I don't know if I'd say THAT, but... well, anyway, an obesity epidemic swept... will sweep... whatever, at some point in time, there's an obesity epidemic. Everyone blows their stack. A few bogus studies here, some bogus leaks here, a whole lot of beauty standards and body insecurity... and bam! You've got yourself nationwide hysteria."
"Hysteria?" Ted isn't quite sure he believes it. It sounds so RIDICULOUS. He starts laughing and gestures accusingly at Booster with his beer bottle. "You're making this up. You're making this all up because you've got some beers in me and that's supposed to make me stupid. Booster old pal, it takes a LOT more hooch to get this beetle's brain pickled."
"I'm a history major, Ted! Would I make this up?" He sees Ted's face. "Well, I'm not; I lack the imagination. It's true! Anyway, after some witch-hunting--that's figurative, they don't actually burn people--a big group of scientists put their heads together. A little bit of tweaking here, a little bit of tongue-laminating there... and within three generations, obesity was like polio. Sure, sometimes it happens... but not very often." Booster leans back in his chair, beaming as though proud to show off his liberal arts education.
Ted isn't a biologist, but he confesses himself a little curious to see what Booster's gut looks like under a microscope. He props his elbow on the table. "Huh. Interesting." Then he grins. "So, when you came to this time, what was it like, being surrounded by ugly people?"
And Booster actually bwa-HAH-has over it. Almost falls over onto the table and impales himself on one of Ted's beer bottles, which seems a little overkill, despite Ted's faith in his wittiness. After a moment, Booster manages to get out, "No… no, not ugly..." Then he dissolves into hysterics again.
Ted decides to take on his beer. This might take a little bit.
When Booster recovers himself and can lift himself off the table again, with the hysterical sigh of someone winding down, he confesses, "To be honest, I don't find this time ugly, really. Well, sometimes, yes... god, Guy's TEETH, sometimes I worry I'm staring at them... but mostly, it's..." Booster frowns up at the ceiling, as though searching for the correct word. "It's interesting."
"Interesting?" Maybe it's Booster's own amusement, but Ted's starting to laugh a little too. "Interesting, huh? That's what women usually say to me before they dump me."
"No, I mean it! In the future, we've been through genetic engineering, a few epidemics, a nuclear war... we look a lot alike, Ted. There's no obesity, and there's a lot of other things we don't have either. I'd never seen freckles until I came here."
"No freckles? You don't have freckles?" Hell, Ted has freckles. Even TORA has freckles! Now he really is laughing.
But Booster's holding up his left hand, right hand on his heart, in true pledging fashion. "Swear to God, not one single freckle. You can check me! In the future, everyone just tans. But in this time, there are freckles, scars, stretch marks... it's amazing!"
"Amazing?" Though he's taken pride in some of his superhero scars, Ted has never really thought about his stretch marks the same way. Maybe it's the beer, maybe it's just the mental image of Booster staring at women with awe and going, 'You have FRECKLES!' but he's starting to work up the first good belly laugh he's had in a week.
"It is! Really, it is! But, uh..." Booster looks around. By this point, some of the bar's patrons are staring, wondering what on earth is so funny about stretch marks and freckles. "Here, I think we're disturbing the patrons. Here, we can... oh. Oh no. Ted, how much have you had?"
He doesn't have to ask; as if the number of casualties on the table weren't enough, he's been around Ted enough to have a good idea when he should be operating heavy machinery.
Ted frowned. "Didn't you drive?"
Booster gave Ted a put out look. "Beetle, I don't have a LICENSE."
Somehow, this is the strangest news yet. Ted is positive he should know this. Maybe the beer HAS worked to his head. "You don't?"
"Sweet Machuca, no. You people drive on the wrong side of the road! It's DANGEROUS."
Booster apparently doesn't realize the irony of a superhero (an ACCIDENT-PRONE superhero) calling something 'dangerous.' "Booster... here, I can call a cab."
"Don't bother. I'll..." Booster notices everyone looking around and lowers his voice. "I'll fly you home. You can come get your car tomorrow."
"I haven't had that much," Ted complains, but he doesn't really put up much of a fight. His life might be gaping a little at the seams, but the last thing he wants is a DWI to add to the mix. Besides, the conversation is interesting.
So they pay their tab (Ted miscalculates his change, which makes him decide that yeah, maybe he SHOULD go home), sneak out the back, and Booster flies him home. Ted is a little bit fuzzy by this point, but he's not worried about falling off. He finds it comforting. The skyline is a peaceful sea of lights against the dark sky, and the breeze ruffles his hair. It's a little chilly, but Booster's warm, and the sensation of his legs around Booster's waist is comfortable and familiar. It also makes him think of Chocos.
In his sleepy, boozy fuzziness, Ted thinks to ask, "I'm not too heavy, am I?"
"No, no, you're fine." Then Booster snorts. "Flight ring, Ted."
Ted gets the impression that his head would be getting patted at the moment, were Booster in the position for it. But he can figure that out later. "Mm. 'Kay."
He lets his muscles work on autopilot and rests his head on Booster's shoulder, sure that one way or another, his futuristic buddy will get him home.
And Booster does. Through his bedroom window. Thankfully, it's open; Ted has learned after an unfortunate accident with Windex and Captain Marvel.
"Okay, c'mon Beetle, old buddy, into bed..."
Ted tries to kick-start his brain. He even manages not to fumble his consonants, though he does awkwardly slide down Booster's back. "Hey now," he states, "I am a married--no. You're right, I'm a beetle."
"I'm sure you are. Into bed."
"But we were having such a nice conversation!" Four syllables. Someone give him a medal. "About the... thing. You know. You remember."
"What? Beautiful people in the future?"
"Yeah! Wait, no." Ted pauses to give this serious thought, and Booster starts pushing him towards the bed. He fumbles through his memory, looking for what seemed to strike him as so important just half an hour ago. "Stretch marks. You think they're... yes. Pretty. That's it."
"They're different in a nice way," Booster says, "makes everyone different."
Ted turns around, trying to continue the conversation, and the bed smacks into his ass, making him sit down hard. This strikes him as amusing.
"I think the world is--conspirator--no, conspiring, that's it. It's conspiring."
Nobody suspects it, but Booster can be a very humane, compassionate man. So he humors Ted with a straight line. "Conspiring?"
"Yes. Conspiring. The world is conspiring to get me in bed." Booster nods patiently and starts unlacing Ted's shoes. "And you are part of this w--hey, slow down, Booster, you shiny, shiny pal, moving a little fast on the first date, aren't you?"
Booster's laughing at him and fumbles at the laces. "Jesus, Beetle, what did you do to these? Were you a sailor before you became an inventor?"
"They don't double-knot in the future? Bah!" Ted flops back onto the mattress. In what he considers a good approximation of Booster's voice (that is, if Booster were a ten-year-old obnoxious boy), he says, "See, in the future, robots tie our shoes." He remembers what he was saying. "You can't distract me! That is not the discussion at hand!"
"No. Stretch marks."
"So that's what we're talking about now." Using his fine, future-enhanced brain, Booster has figured out the mechanics behind double-knotted shoelaces. He gets Ted's shoes off and tries to get Ted's legs onto the bed, but Ted is too cheery to cooperate.
"Yes, that's what we're talking about. What're you doing?"
"Getting you into bed." Booster pushes. "At least, I would, if you would cooperate a bit here, pal."
"Gravity is a force to be reckoned with, Michael," Ted says, raising a hand wisely. "Never forget that. Hey, I'm in my jacket."
"Yes, you are."
"I can't sleep in this. You must be joking. I'm drunk, not crazy. Gravity knows it. That's why my legs are over there."
Booster sighs, and with a tone of exaggerated patience: "Then why don't you take it off, Ted?"
He's using his first name. Maybe someone died. However, Ted can't deny... "That is a brilliant idea, old sod. Smashing, really. One might even say Boosterrific..."
Booster nods and makes encouraging sounds. Apparently giving up on getting Ted's legs into bed, he starts with helping Ted get his jacket off. Ted could help, but that would require effort, and he's enjoying life a bit too much.
"Come on. Roll over."
"Yes, sir, Captain Booster, sir."
In a truly heroic feat of superhero genius, Booster gets his jacket off. It occurs to Ted that this doesn't seem quite fair. There's something niggling on his mind; he tries to remember what it is.
"Hey, Booster. Booster."
"Do you really not have freckles?"
"Nope. Not one."
"You're kidding. I have to see this. The Freckless Wonder." Ted fumbles, and finds that getting Booster's jacket off is a lot easier than removing his. Then he moves on to the turtleneck sweater. "How much are you WEARING?"
"Flying in this weather? I HAVE to wear sweaters!"
"I'm a genius. I have padding. I have CENTRAL HEATING. Upsy-daisy!"
With a look of resignation, Booster raises his arms and lets Ted battle the sweater. Eventually, Ted's genius wins out, and…
"What, your SUIT too?"
"You never know!" Booster protests.
"You're so modest. And shiny."
Ted fumbles at the suit, but the thing actually ends up being so tight he can't get a good grip on it; suddenly ninety percent of superheroine costumes ALMOST make sense. He reaches down for the edge of the top bit, but he'd forgotten how low cut Booster's tights are until he's fishing around in his khakis. That gets him an intriguingly high-pitched squeal that makes him fall on the bed laughing.
"Yeah, yeah, you're a funny man, Ted, very funny. Unlike you, I can undress myself." Booster reaches down, adjusts, and gets his suit top off. "There, you see? No freckles, no scars, no stretch marks."
Ted sits up and orbits Booster. He leans forward and squints, then pulls back and blinks. "Thought you were JOKING," he says plaintively.
Booster crosses his arms smugly. "Told you so."
It's kind of strange, in the way that it's not until your attention is really brought to it. Ted's body, despite superhero work, isn't particularly marked, but it's still MARKED. Booster's skin, on the other hand, is uniform. He wasn't exaggerating; no freckles, no scars. Hell, he doesn't even have any uneven patches of skin tone. It make it almost seem like an all-over makeup job. Apparently Booster doesn't need a makeup artist for all his commercials.
At first, Ted is impressed. Then he finds it the slightest bit strange, a little TOO perfect. On anyone else, it would seem artificial. He's known Booster for so long that it only pings on the edge of his awareness, but it's still there. He decides the uncanny valley hypothesis is true, for people he doesn't know, anyway.
At least the man has stubble on his chest.
"And here I thought in the future, there is no body hair." Another thing Ted has slightly envied, partly due to Bea calling him the Blue Bear on occasion.
The great Booster Gold apparently does feel shame; he ducks his head a moment, winces, and says, "No, no. I just shave it, usually, or it catches on the suit. It SMARTS and the static cling... well, let's just say I almost fried Skeets once. Can't wear a jockstrap under it either."
"Because of static cling?" Ted has never experienced his pubic hair standing straight out from his body before. The kid-scientist in him is slightly intrigued; the rest of him just makes an uncomfortable face.
Booster looks even more embarrassed. "No, the elastic just shows right through it. I gave up after the first bad tabloids photo."
Ted has his second belly laugh in two hours. It feels great.
"I'm serious! C'mon, stop laughing--"
"--You have no idea how many hours it took for me to find seamless underwear in this time!"
"Because in the FUTURE--" Ted dissolves into hysterics again.
Booster crosses his arms and pouts. "Hey, shut up, you don't think I'm just naturally completely shameless, do you?"
Ted claps an arm around Booster's shoulders and tries to keep his face straight. He does a terrible job. "Oh no, buddy, no, Booster, never, no, sir, not YOU..." He's surprised he even gets that far before trailing off into snorts, and he uses Booster as an anchor to keep from falling over again, slapping him on the back.
Booster rolls his eyes, then dives on him. "Okay, buddy, you go on and on about shameless, let's see YOU."
Ted is a perfectly competent, masculine superhero. He has fought off street gangs on his own, he made it in a League of superpowered nutcases, and right now, he's against a man who fights like a fourth-grader. But he's had a few drinks too many, and damn it, this is the one shirt he has that actually sorta fits without looking terrible right now. So he shrieks in a way he hasn't since before puberty, nearly clocks Booster upside the head with his elbow, and goes down in a heap of limbs.
"Don't rip it! Don't rip it!" But he's laughing, and Booster's laughing, and lord, when was the last time they shared a good belly laugh, has his life been that awful lately? Apparently so. So even though Ted could probably wrestle Booster off (like he said, the man fights like a fourth-grader), he lets himself laugh too hard to keep his strength up, and only puts up a half-hearted fight. It's fine; Booster doesn't exactly fulfill Justice League combat regulations, either. Mostly he just uses his superior twenty-fifth century muscle.
Somehow, Ted's shirt doesn't rip, although it might lose a button or two. He does end up on his back, straddled by Booster, who's now squinting and staring at his gut like he's never seen it before.
Ted had thought that he'd had a bit too much to drink to care that much, but he still winces and looks away. "I know, I know. I'm working on it, okay?"
"Hey, no, it's okay. Like I said, it's different." He pats Ted's stomach. "You know how I'd never seen freckles? I'd never seen these either." He fingers a stretch mark.
Ted just grimaces. He tries to turn over, but Booster keeps him pinned.
"Hey, now stop it. Everybody I ever mention it on, they look like I just coughed slime on them. It's just who you are, right now, buddy. I don't think there's anything bad about them." He squints and smiles. "They kinda look like tiger stripes."
For a few minutes, Booster just looks and touches, and Ted doesn't look. It's too embarrassing to be reminded how his diet and Glory workouts have been going--or rather, haven't. Booster's not saying anything, just touching lightly, and not in the unfriendly medical examiner way. It's almost ticklish; Ted has to resist the urge to squirm. After a few minutes, he relaxes and risks a look up.
Booster's face doesn't show any disgust. If anything, it shows the same fascination Ted probably had when looking him over. There's a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth, but again, it's not unfriendly. Looking at him, Ted for once DOESN'T get the feeling he's going to get his sides grabbed and called, "Lardo Kord," or "Kordo el Gordo."
As though having Booster Sense for whenever anyone's looking at him, Booster looks up. And he BEAMS at Ted.
"Thanks. I figured you'd have shoved me off by now. I don't really get to LOOK, you know; it's considered bad manners in this time, I guess. It's nice." He gives Ted's belly an affectionate rub, like he's a Buddha at a Chinese restaurant. It actually feels rather nice, but Ted doesn't want to admit to that.
In one of the flashes of sense that come to Ted when he's either inventing or a bit drunk, he realizes that he's half-dressed, on his bed, with his best friend, who is also half-dressed and petting his stomach. And that not too long ago, they were laughing and wrestling and not too long before that, he'd had his hand down Booster's pants.
"You know, Michael old buddy," he remarks, holding up a finger wisely, "this could be inter--constr--TAKEN as gay."
Booster freezes, still in mid-belly rub. "Er..."
"And you know what?" Ted continues to sit up. Booster starts to scoot back, so Ted decides to use his neck for leverage to help maintain altitude and keep the man in place. "I kinda like it."
He kisses Booster before he can crack a joke about it. Booster freezes for a moment and he doesn't exactly kiss back, but though he seems surprised, he doesn't seem AGAINST it, in theory. Ted might be just a touch tipsy, but he knows Booster well enough to know he's not exactly resisting. Otherwise he surely would've gotten a force field to the face by now. Booster's lips are warm and soft, and he tastes like breath mints (now when had he gotten his hands on THOSE?) and Ted decides that if he had to get drunk and horny on someone, he could have much worse targets than Booster Gold.
Ted ends up being the one to break the kiss, just because he's smiling too hard to keep it up.
"Hey. That was NICE."
Booster swallows, then gently takes Ted's hands and takes them off his neck. "I think you've had a bit too much to drink, Ted."
"Oh no. I know what that means. That means no, doesn't it?" Without his grip on Booster's neck to keep him upright, Ted flops back down miserably. "Aw hell. Hell. Damn it, Mike. I LIKED you."
Booster carefully gets off of Ted, gingerly, like he'll explode if not careful. "Look, Ted, it's not that I'm not flattered..."
"...But you're not into it." Ted's been shot down enough to try to take it with good grace. He covers his face with his hands to at least try and conceal his mortification. "'S fine. You're right. Sorry. Too many beers. I'm sorry."
"No, actually, I... AM into it."
That's enough to get Ted's attention. He peeks through his fingers. "You are?"
Booster gives him the sort of apologetic smile/shrug that he usually has only when he's trying to explain to J'onn how the TV room became covered in mashed potatoes. "Well, see, in the FUTURE..."
Despite himself, Ted chuckles.
"...We don't believe in limiting our options if we can help it. And you're... well, you're my friend."
"I'm also very intelligent, when I'm not drunk. I'm a genius, you know."
"Trust me, you've said." But Booster's smiling. "But you're very, VERY bad at making moves subtly. I'm your best friend... but I wouldn't humor you THAT much. Besides," he looks down at Ted almost wistfully, "Wowzer."
"Why, thank you. That's very nice of you. You're wowzer yourself."
"But you are pretty drunk--"
"Only a little," Ted protests.
"--And if I know you, you're going to wake up in the morning with a hangover and a nervous breakdown."
Ted wrinkles his nose. "Bahhh. You don't know what you're talking about."
"Besides. I'd really rather we talk about this."
"Hey, we can talk. I can totally talk. What's there to talk about? You're shiny, you're from the future, you're not wearing a jockstrap, and I want to kiss you and feed you Chocos, so c'mere." He tries to sit up, but gravity is his nemesis tonight and he doesn't quite pull it off.
Booster holds a warning finger to Ted's lips, to at least try and shut him up, but he jerks his hand back when Ted tries to lick it. "Look, whatever it is you want, if it's sex or if you want to go steady with me--"
"GO STEADY? Oh God, you've been talking to Captain Marvel, haven't you?"
Booster patiently waits until Ted's paying attention again. "Whatever this is, I want you sober and calm before I check and see if you got your tonsils removed."
Ted ponders this for a minute. Then he grins. "So I get sober, then we can kiss and eat Chocos?"
"If you're up for it. I'm not taking advantage of your drunken virtue."
"Pfah. I don't HAVE drunken virtue." Ted flops into his pillows and they practically jump up to swallow him. He is a bit sleepy, but he's not THAT sleepy yet. "Here. C'mere. It's late, and you don't have a car. Because you're from the future. You can't drive home."
"I'll fly home, Ted, thanks for the offer." Booster's somehow gotten the top half of his suit on again, which is a crying shame. He's also adjusting his khakis, which isn't.
"You sure? I have central heating. Extra toothbrush in the bathroom." He tries to pat the bed and not look too lecherous. "I won't make any moves on you."
Booster laughs. "Nice try; you're a rotten liar when you're drunk. Call me when you've had a cold shower and gotten the hangover out of you." He kisses Ted on the forehead. "I'll fly home and see you tomorrow."
"Cross my heart, Beetle, old buddy. Now get some sleep."
And Booster has slipped out the window, leaving a ripple of curtains. He still hasn't got his sweater on.
Ted snorts. Like he'll regret this in the morning. Just because he's had a few beers. He snuggles into the pillows and sighs. Crazy person from the future. He doesn't know what he's talking about.
Ted's lips still taste a little like Tic-Tacs. He licks them, then looks down at his stomach. He pats it.
"Congratulations," he tells it, "I think he likes you."
He falls asleep chuckling.