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Artificial Anacondas

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Steve has no idea what he’s gonna do with all these dildos. After several hours of e-mailing (bad) and calling (worse), he and the folks at Dick Dandy’s Adult Emporium had come to the conclusion that it was some kind of shipping error. Fine. Except they’d told him to keep them since it had been their fault and all.

So here Steve is with five extra boxes of silicone spitsticks, a store room the size of a broom closet (mostly filled with cleaning supplies for the video booths), and an actual store the size of a, well, small store.

Maybe he could run some kind of special. Buy one, get one free. One for you and one for a friend. Or one for you and another one also for you. He’s not in the business of telling anybody how or how not to have a good time. (Okay, maybe he's in the exact business of telling people how to have a good time.)

The phone rings, pulling his eyes away from stacks on stacks of ersatz cockshafts, all of them a shade of ice blue.

“Fantasy Island Philadelphia,” Steve answers.

“Yeah, uh… is this really a sex shop?” the caller asks. “Like, you really sell adult novelties? To the public?”

Steve bristles. He’s had calls like this before, though they’d mostly tapered off years ago when the Outrage Police moved on to their next pet project meant to make themselves feel superior while contributing absolutely nothing to society.

“Yeah, you got a problem with what consenting adults get up to in their free time?” Steve asks, and then the caller, unexpectedly, giggles. Steve blinks. Ah okay, maybe he misjudged them and they’re just some teenager who has no business contacting an adult store.

“Hey, if you’re not over—”

“It’s true!” the caller yells to someone on their end of the line, who promptly cackles at an almost disturbing volume. “This is the best day of this entire hell y—” The line goes dead.

Steve pulls the phone away from his ear and stares down at it. “What the fuck?” And for not the first time, he’s glad he kept the old timey rotary phone that came with the place, because there is nothing more satisfying than slamming down the receiver and hearing the ringer inside give off a slight ting.

It’s not the only thing ringing. Behind him, the bell on the door happily announces someone’s arrival.

Steve starts talking before he even turns around. “Welcome to Fant—” It’s him. The owner of the landscaping store next door. He stands in the doorway to Steve’s shop in his obscenely tight khaki-colored work pants, a forest green company polo stretched across his massive pectorals. The left sleeve is pinned up neatly, and the right sleeve strains around his ungodly bicep. He has his long brunet hair pulled into a messy bun, a little bit of stubble on his chin framing its cleft and shadowing a second chin standing in line behind the first.

Steve’s mouth goes dry.

They’re friends, him and Bucky Barnes. But in the casual way of two guys who own businesses that are right next door to one another. They’ve grabbed a beer once or twice. They talk if they see each other on the sidewalk. Steve wants to fuck him until neither of them can walk. You know, just pals.

“Heya, Buck,” Steve says. “I’ve got a massive load that just came—wait, that sounds terrible.”

But Bucky’s not listening. He’s bouncing on the balls of his feet like a child who asked for something extravagant for Christmas and, somehow, despite all odds, found it beneath the tree.

“Steve. Stevie Steve Steve Steve.” He throws his head back and laughs (and it’s unfairly hot). “Fuck.”

“What’s going on?”

Bucky looks around furtively, like he’s a spy and he’s about to tell Steve something top secret. “I, uh, I know it’s 2020 and this is a loaded question, but you’re, uh…”

Steve perks up. “I’m uh?”

“Like if the President asked you for a favor, what would you do?”

“Tell him to kiss my queer disabled ass.”

Bucky throws his head back again. “Okay, but what if the favor would showcase his administration’s complete lack of competence and also be really, really fucking funny?”

“This is starting to feel oddly specific.” Steve squints. “But I don’t know what that favor would possibly be. Did they fuck up the rose garden? Again?”

Bucky shakes his head while somehow still looking like the cat that caught the canary. “Buddy, you’re not gonna fucking believe this.”

“I own a sex shop in Philadelphia. I once had two people come in dressed as slutty Gritty in full fetish gear. They didn’t know each other.”

“There are some things that defy belief even more than slutty Gritty,” Bucky says, and then he takes a deep breath. “Okay, so here I am, minding my own business, thinking about trees and shrubs and shit, when the phone rings…”

When Bucky finishes the story, Steve shakes his head. “That can’t… This isn’t…” The idea of it all is so absolutely outlandish that it breaks something inside of him. This is an Onion headline. This is a crackfic on archiveofourown.org. There is no way this is really happening. In reality. Where Steve exists as a person.

“There are people in our fucking parking lot right now setting up a goddamned podium and trying to make the place look presidential or whatever. Our parking lot isn’t even paved!” Bucky cackles up at the ceiling like the world’s hottest fairy tale witch. “Christ, you gotta come over. You have to watch this train wreck with me. He lost the election, and now it all ends in the unpaved parking lot of a goddamned landscaping business.”

And well, when Bucky puts it that way…

Steve looks over at the boxes full of imitation temptations and suddenly knows exactly what to do with them.

“Say, Buck…”

They play clips of the speech on news broadcasts. Videos circulate around Twitter and TikTok. The whole event gets memed around the world. Someone even writes a Destiel fanfic about it.

“And today, folks, it all came to an end in the most fitting way possible,” Stephen Colbert says, before pretending to wipe away a tear. “I’m sorry, I’m just so darn emotional right now,” he jokes. “So today, the President’s team failed to secure the actual Four Seasons hotel, and instead of doing what any normal adult human would do, which is admit that they made a mistake while booking another venue, they instead decided that any business with Four Seasons in the name would do, settling on Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, a business that is located next to an adult store and across the street from a crematorium.”

Colbert plays a brief clip of the beginning of the speech, then brings up a photo of the actual parking lot with a sad scattering of supporters in red hats.

“And somehow, that’s not even the best part. The best part is—well, I’ll just let the clip speak for itself.”

And there’s Steve, in a sunshine yellow Fantasy Island hat and a Flyers tee shirt, a slouchy tote bag slung over his small frame. He walks through the crowd like a hawker at a hockey game, holding up things that, on the broadcast at least, appear to be floppy blue blurs.

“Free d—s! Get you free d—s here!”

Curled up naked on the bed next to Steve, Bucky buries his face in the crook of Steve’s neck and snickers.