Stephen Colbert stared intently at the body mirror in front of him. It was attached to the door to his office room and was useful in making sure his hair wasn't out of place and checking for wrinkles in his suit.
But he wasn't looking in the mirror for a touch-up; if he were worried about that, he'd just talk to his stylist. No, there was a different reason he was here.
"Stephen…" he muttered in a sullen tone. Suddenly, his reflection blinked and threw his fingers through his hair while the real Stephen didn't budge.
"Stephen, I told you to address me by my proper name when you talk to me!" the reflection Stephen said with lowered eyebrows, sounding annoyed. "If not, it's confusing! We do share the same name, after all! I think you should have been a little more creative with the name of your 'character'."
Stephen sighed and rubbed his temples. "Sorry, Mr. the Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Mos Def Colbert, D.F.A., Heavyweight Champion of the World…"
"That's better!" Character Stephen saluted. "Hello to you, too, Stephen T. Colbert!"
"C'mon, Stephen," Stephen crossed his arms. "I'm not going to say that every single time. You're the one who started to go a little crazy with the titles."
"Do you have a problem with it?" Character Stephen put his hands on his hips and leaned forward.
"Can't I just call you Character Colbert? Or Character?" Stephen asked kindly. Character Stephen puffed his cheeks.
"Is that all I am to you, Stephen?"
"Of course not," Stephen said simply. Character Stephen rolled his eyes.
"Fine," Character Stephen stood back and huffed. "I've existed for fifteen years now and I can't believe it took you this long to decide on what you should call me."
Stephen averted his gaze over to the side, not looking at Character Stephen directly. Character Stephen began fiddling with his tie. "Did you want to talk about something?"
Stephen scratched his chin, seeming nervous. "Character, you know how I feel about Jon, right?"
Character Stephen's eyes widened. He wasn't prepared for this conversation. "U-um, Jon Stewart?"
Stephen raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Of course, Jon Stewart. Who else would I be talking about? John Oliver?"
"N-no, I was just affirming…" Character Stephen was now the one looking off to the side.
"I've known Jon for several years now. We're best friends and all, but…I feel something more for him that I can't explain," Stephen explained. Character Stephen began fidgeting in the pockets of his blazer, one of which contained a pen that Stephen had placed in his own blazer earlier in the day. He fished it out and starting clicking it in and out.
"I mean, when he became the host of The Daily Show, I wasn't sure what to think at first."
"Of course, you were the one that worked with him on the set, but Jon and I spent a lot of time together outside of the show."
"Sure, Jon doesn't know that you and I are actually two different people, but—"
Stephen glanced at the floor in the mirror and noticed that Character Stephen dropped the pen. Stephen looked up at him, but he didn't bother to pick it up. "Are you gonna get that?"
Character Stephen flinched for a second, noticing he was being addressed directly. "What?"
"The pen," Stephen pointed. "I was talking and you dropped the pen."
Character Stephen looked down at the pen on the floor and frowned. "I have to get that, don't I? Because you can't pick it up for me."
Stephen tilted his head and chuckled. "Of course not. I can't reach into the mirror."
"Then what does it really matter if I let it stay there or not?" Character Stephen said. "It's not like anyone can trip over it but me."
Stephen stared at him, not quite understanding where he was coming from. But he did recognize the hurt tone and it bothered him. "Character, is something wrong?"
"Just that," Character Stephen looked at Stephen with scorn, and Stephen jumped. "That's all I am. I'm not a real person. I may be another personality, but no one knows the real me."
"What?" Stephen chuckled nervously. "We are two different people. We even have separate Wikipedia pages!"
"But everyone just assumes that I'm a persona of yours, not a completely different personality. It's not the same."
Stephen frowned. He began to understand what his character was telling him, but he wasn't sure how to respond. He didn't want people to find out that Stephen Colbert and Character Stephen Colbert were two completely different people. If the media got their hands on that information, who knows where it would go?
"Even your best friend, Jon Stewart, doesn't know…" Character Stephen said, reaching down to pick up the pen. "If he called you and brought up something about your show that night that wasn't on script, you'd have to quickly run to a mirror and ask me what the hell he was talking about. And what kind of thanks do I get? You walking off and continuing your lovely conversation with Jon."
"…" Stephen tapped his foot. "Character, are you jealous of my relationship with Jon."
The pen slid out of Character Stephen's hands and clanked onto the floor again. Stephen watched his character step back and put his hands over his chest. Stephen mirrored his gesture.
"Your chest gets tight here when you think about him, too. Right, Character?"
Character Stephen faced Stephen with a look of sorrow. "I'm not just a character, Stephen," he muttered, looking like he was about to cry. Stephen breathed softly and put his hand against the mirror.
"I'm so sorry, Char—" Stephen stopped himself. "Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A."
Character Stephen stared at Stephen's palm up against the glass in front of him. He reached out and pressed his own palm up against Stephen's, although their skin was not touching.
"Even if Jon knew the truth, I'm pretty sure he would choose you over me…" Character Stephen slowly kneeled onto the floor on his side of the mirror, letting his hand slide down the glass. He sat with his legs folded underneath him, allowing his head to rest onto the glass above his hand.
Stephen decided to copy his reflection, sitting in the same position as him and touching his palm and forehead adjacent to Character Stephen's.
"W-what are you doing?" Character Stephen asked, his nose only centimeters from Stephen's, even though they could never be in direct contact with one another.
"My relationship with Jon is similar to this, right here," Stephen said with a smile on his face, even though Character Stephen could tell his tone was sad. "We are sitting so close to each other that we should be touching. But the mirror prevents us from ever coming in physical contact with one another. I can have these feelings for Jon all I want, but is there ever a chance of him and I together? Especially in this society?"
Character Stephen let the words sink in. Stephen must have liked Jon for a long time, but never pursued his feelings because of the idea of an awful result.
"I love Jon, but I respect our friendship more," Stephen grinned. "I would never want to ruin that. And I would never want to ruin my friendship with you, either."
Character Stephen's eyes widened. "W-what?"
"C'mon, the Rev. Sir Dr. Colbert! I wouldn't have this career if it weren't for you. I really appreciate all that you've done for me," Stephen began to laugh. "I don't care if it's silly that I'm talking to a mirror! I'm talking to my best friend as far as I'm concerned!"
Character Stephen couldn't help but smile and chuckle along with him. "Well, if this isn't the oddest and most gayest thing in the entire world right now…"
"We just admitted that we are in love with our former co-worker and the executive producer of our show! What's gayer than that?" Stephen joked.
"Touching hands and foreheads with yourself, I suppose," Character Stephen shrugged and Stephen burst out laughing.
"Does that mean that anyone who touches themselves is automatically gay?" Stephen asked.
"Oh my God, I can't believe we're having this discussion…" Character Stephen was now holding his sides in pain. "I'm laughing too hard… It hurts…"
"You didn't answer the question!"
The two of them continued laughing hysterically until there was a knock on the door. They both froze.
"Stephen? What are you laughing so hard about? I can hear you all the way down the hall! Is there someone in there with you?"
Stephen and Character Stephen both looked at each other in shock. It was Jon Stewart!
"Um," Stephen began to speak, but Character Stephen jumped in the conversation from the other side of the mirror.
"Yes, my name is Stephen. I'm laughing at a random thought I just had about the idea of someone being gay if they touch themselves. Is that reasonable? I mean, it's a legit question that I wish to know the answer to. And yes, if you count laughing with myself, then there is someone else in here with me!"
Stephen's face went blank, but Character Stephen just winked at him. The door suddenly opened, leaving Stephen, who was still sitting on the floor, to face the awkward expression on Jon Stewart.
"What the hell?" Jon asked. "Where do these thoughts come from?"
Stephen blinked. "Internet?" He asked in a question form, not sure if that was the right response. Jon shook his head and giggled like a child.
"Stephen, I really worry about you," Jon laughed warmly and Stephen smiled.
"If you didn't, would I really be Stephen Colbert?" Stephen asked.
"I guess not," Jon said. "I really worry about the Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Mos Def Colbert, D.F.A., Heavyweight Champion of the World, too."
Stephen's smile faltered, and the sound of a pen drop to the floor could be heard. Jon glanced around.
"What was that?" Jon scratched his head. "Did you hear that?" Stephen shook his head frantically. "Huh. Whatever." Jon shrugged.
"W-what did you mean by that?" Stephen asked Jon.
"What? When I mentioned your character?" Jon questioned and Stephen nodded. "I mean, I've known you for years, but even after all this time, it's like you and him are two different people!"
Stephen stared blankly at him before smiling. "Yeah, that makes sense. I worry about him, too, y'know?"
Jon chuckled. "Of course! You should tell him to chill out on the titles. Mike Tyson might eventually catch onto the last one and come to take it back."
"I warned him about that…" Stephen said.
"Well, we should go meet up with the writers," Jon pointed behind him. "They wanted us in there at noon, but I was running late."
Stephen glanced at his watch. "Jon, it's almost two."
"I know! That's why we have to get moving!" Jon grabbed Stephen's arm and helped pull him off the ground. "Let's hurry!"
"H-hold on!" Stephen walked around the door to look at the mirror. "I have to fix my hair!"
"Stephen, seriously?" Jon threw his hands up in mock outrage while Stephen glanced at Character Stephen. Stephen acted like he moved a strand of hair out of his eyes while Character Stephen winked at him and gave him a thumbs up. Stephen grinned widely and returned the thumbs up. "Stephen, what are you doing? I know you love yourself, but come on!"
"Hey, you weren't rushing me until five minutes after you walked in here!" Stephen stood in front of Jon and poked his cheek. "Now, let's do this before the writers get any more pissed off at us than they already are!"
"Sounds like a plan, my man!" Jon waved Stephen out of the room then close the door behind him, the sound of giggling from the mirror resonating in the now empty room.