scripted_sra: Dan and Casey sitting at their desk, wearing tuxes. (sports night: dan & casey in tuxes)
Sara ([personal profile] scripted_sra) wrote2012-04-10 11:00 am

Sports Night | How Much You Mean It | NC-17 | Dan/Casey; Dana/Calvin; Natalie/Jeremy

Title: How Much You Mean It
Fandom: Sports Night
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Dan/Casey, Dana/Calvin, Natalie/Jeremy
Summary: Dan and Casey have been dating for the past four months, something they've been keeping a secret from their friends—or so they think. What happens when an invitation to a network party brings to a head all the fears and insecurities that have been plaguing them?
Word Count: 11,200
Disclaimer: All copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. This work is not created for profit and constitutes fair use.
A/N: Thanks so much to Kelly, Geena, and Abigail for the beta. There's a mix here by [livejournal.com profile] primalmusic for your listening pleasure.


There was an envelope sitting on the desk when Dan walked into his and Casey’s office, addressed to the both of them. He picked it up, wondering absently what it could be. Maybe it was a very belated Christmas card, although that opened up questions about why it was for both of them, since it wasn’t like he and Casey were likely to be listed on anyone’s Christmas card roster as a couple. None of their friends even knew that they were together, after all, so how would some mysterious belated-Christmas-card sender?

“What’s that?” Casey asked, breaking him out of his reverie, as he walked in the door.

Dan glanced at the still-sealed envelope and smiled, holding it at arm’s length. “Hold on, let me activate my X-ray vision—”

Casey rolled his eyes. “Just open the damn envelope, Danny.”

“Don’t get persnickety with me, my young friend,” Dan said, brandishing the envelope at him. “Just because someone lost the coin toss and had to stay late last night does not mean that same someone gets to be persnickety today.”

“I think it earns me a little bit of getting to be persnickety,” Casey said, then paused. “Okay, that was some bizarre sentence construction, but the point still stands. I had to stay here way too late last night.”

“I suppose if you feel strongly about it, I can grant the premise that you deserve some time to be persnickety,” Dan replied. “But might I make a suggestion?”

"Feel free."

“Try not to aim your time spent being persnickety at the one person who might be inclined to make up for your late night last night.” He gave him a significant look.

“...good suggestion,” Casey said, after a moment. “I’ll take it under advisement.”

Dan smirked. “Thank you.” He opened up the envelope, pulling out a simple, elegant invitation. Dan mentally applauded its tastefulness. “Daniel Rydell and Casey McCall, you are cordially invited to a—”

“Oh, not this again.”

“Not what again?”

“This cotillion crap.”

“Cocktail reception,” Dan read off the invite. He turned it around and pointed at the words. “See? Says it right there.”

“Whatever it’s called, it’s still ridiculous and a pain in the ass.”

“Dana’s going to expect us to go,” Dan replied, amused.

“To thank the network for their support.” Casey snorted. “Where the network obviously means Calvin.”

“Sounds accurate,” Dan agreed. “Dana’s been doing her little dance around him for awhile now.”

“Oh, she’s been cha-chaing away,” Casey replied. “I wonder when that’s finally going to happen.”

Grinning, Dan held up the invitation. “Maybe it’ll happen at the party.”

“You’re just trying to make me forget how much I hate these parties.”

“Maybe,” Dan said. “Is it working?”

“No,” Casey replied, shaking his head.

“Well, here’s something to distract you. Why did they only send us one invitation?”

“They did?”

“I read off both our names,” Dan reminded him. “It was addressed to both of us. It’s almost like we don’t merit two separate invitations anymore.”

“Maybe they’re just trying to save a tree.” Casey shrugged as he sat down at the desk.

“Does it take an entire tree to make one more invitation?” Dan asked, sitting down at the table.

“Maybe it does.”

“I don’t know. That seems excessive.”

“How would you know, Dan? Do you convert trees into paper products in your spare time?”

“I do not,” Dan said. “But it still seems excessive.”

“I’m going to start working now,” Casey replied. “But you should feel free to keep rambling about this as though I’m still listening.”

“Maybe I will.”

Casey tossed a pen at him, and Dan laughed, dodging it.

---


Dana looked pleased as they all filed into the conference room for the morning rundown meeting. In Dan’s experience, Dana didn’t usually look pleased—at least not this pleased—until much, much later in the day, so he assumed it didn’t have anything to do with the show. Besides, there just wasn’t a ‘show pleased’ vibe about it. This was confirmed in his mind when she started the meeting with, “Before we get started, I just wanted to make sure everyone got their invitations—”

“Summonses,” interrupted Casey, and Dan realized he was going to aim being persnickety at Dana today. A good choice. He respected it.

Invitations,” Dana continued, undeterred, “for the cocktail reception being hosted by QVN this Friday night.”

Summonses,” Casey said again. “We’ve all gotten our summonses. Invitation implies I’m free to turn it down.”

“You are free to turn it down, Casey,” Dana said. “But given all the support QVN has given us over the last year and a half, I think it’s only—”

“All the support Calvin has given us, you mean?”

Dana rolled her eyes. “Casey, shut up, you’re going.”

“Of course I am. I’ve been summoned.”

Here Dan was struck by an idea that might make the party more palatable to Casey, so he decided to send him a meaningful look, one that was both masterful and subtle, and conveyed the message that it wouldn’t be so bad, trust him. As far as meaningful looks went, he considered it one of his best, although Casey’s returning look was, sadly, not up to par. They’d have to work on that.

“I have a concern,” he said next.

“You have a concern?” Dana asked. “About...our invitations?” she asked slowly, and Casey opened his mouth. “Say summonses one more time, Casey, and I swear to God, you’re going to be using puns in your intros for the next six months.” Casey shut his mouth.

“Yes, about our invitations,” Dan continued smoothly. “Or, more accurately, our,” here he emphasized the word, indicating himself and Casey, “invitation, singular.”

“What’s your concern?”

“Do we not merit two separate invitations?”

“Sure you do,” Dana said, and he knew she was humoring him. That was okay; he actually kind of appreciated it. “I’m sure it was just a mix-up.”

“A mix-up?”

“A mistake.”

“I know what a mix-up is,” he said. “I was just wondering what could have gotten mixed up.”

Interestingly, Dana glanced down at the table for a moment after he said that, and then she and Natalie exchanged their own meaningful glances—they weren’t as excellent as his had been, but they weren’t bad. He made a note to use them as examples for when he taught Casey. “I have no idea what could have gotten mixed up, Dan,” Dana said then. “How about I ask for you, will that ease your concern?”

He considered this. “I think it will, Dana, thank you.”

“No problem.” Dana shook her head. “Now, does anyone else have any other concerns about this, or can we move on?” She waited about half a second before barreling on. “Great! Let’s get started.”

---


“I almost said it, Natalie,” Dana said, later on, when they were alone in her office. “I almost said, ‘Gee, Dan, I don’t know, why don’t you and Casey exchange another lingering, soulful look, maybe that could help us figure out what got so ‘mixed up’ to the point where you’d get a couples’ invite?’”

“But you didn’t! You have admirable restraint, Dana. I’m proud of you.”

“It’s just, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. They’ve been together, what, almost four months now? How much longer are they going to make us all keep pretending like we don’t know what’s been staring us in the faces for the last, oh, four months?”

“I don’t know,” Natalie said, “but they’re keeping it a secret, or at least they think they are, and we’re their friends, so we should respect that.”

“Yeah,” Dana said, sighing. “I guess you’re right. It’s just, god, would it kill them to be even remotely good at keeping a secret?”

“They wouldn’t be Dan and Casey if they were.”

“Yeah,” she said again, shaking her head. “It really sucks that you’re right, you know.”

“I know.”

---


“Can you believe she threatened me with puns?” Casey demanded. “Who does that? Who threatens a man with puns just because he can’t stand the idea of wasting an hour of his life at a party with a bunch of people he doesn’t really like and doesn’t want to spend time with?”

“You’re not going alone, Casey. I’ll be there, Dana will be there, Natalie and Jeremy will be there, Isaac will be there, Calvin will be there. That’s at least six people you like.”

“Out of the two hundred that are bound to be there, that’s not great odds.”

“How about I make you a deal, one that will make going to this thing more enjoyable for you?”

“Danny, not even you could make me a deal that will make going to this thing more enjoyable for me.”

“You haven’t even heard my proposed deal yet. Shouldn’t you at least listen to my deal before summarily dismissing it?”

“You’re right, of course. Tell me your deal.”

“All right. Here’s the deal. You go to the party, act nice, waste an hour of your life—”

“The second part of this deal better be really—”

“—and I’ll blow you in the limo on the way back to my place.”

Casey stopped talking. He met Dan’s eyes. “Okay,” he said, voice a little strangled. “I take it back. That’s a pretty good deal.”

Dan smirked.

---


“Isaac, do you know wh—oh, hello,” Dana said, faltering slightly as she walked into Isaac’s office. The reason for the falter was the man currently in Isaac’s office, in addition to Isaac himself—Calvin Trager, billionaire and network owner extraordinaire. “Aren’t you supposed to be in France?” she asked him.

“I flew back a little early,” he said mildly, and it struck Dana that he said everything mildly. What was with that? Did nothing get to him? That was inhuman.

“Do you find that people are really impressed when you say that to them?” she asked. “When you go around telling them that you decided to fly in a little early from France?”

“I don’t go around telling people that unless they ask,” Calvin replied, mouth quirking into a small, knowing smile. “Why? Were you just impressed by it?”

“No,” Dana said immediately, and firmly. “I absolutely was not. That’s not impressive. That’s just, you know. It’s just...what it is. Which is not impressive.”

“Of course,” he said, still mild, still smiling that knowing smile. “Well, I have to get going. Talk to you later, Isaac, and it was nice running into you, Dana.” He left.

“He didn’t impress me,” Dana said to Isaac the second Calvin had gone.

“Uh-huh,” he replied, looking skeptical.

“He didn’t,” she repeated. “I remain unimpressed.”

“If you say so,” he replied. “Did you need something, Dana?”

“Uh, yes, I did. I wanted to know if you knew why Dan and Casey got sent the joint couples’ invitation for the party.”

“I wasn’t in charge of the delivery, but I would hazard a guess that it was probably because the joint couples’ invitations got sent to couples, which they are.”

“Right, they are. Except no one knows they are.”

“Well, someone knows they are. I know they are, you know they are...”

“Well, of course we know, Isaac, but we don’t know, you know?”

Isaac stared at her.

“Our knowing isn’t official, remember? They’re still keeping it a secret.”

“Still?”

“Still,” she confirmed. “So for the time being, we know nothing.”

“Except for the part where we do know. Everything.”

“Exactly.”

Isaac shook his head. “I need to start drinking earlier in the day.”

---


“Hey, Jeremy,” Dan said, sitting down next to his desk. “What are you doing?”

Jeremy looked up. “I’m working, Dan. What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” he said. “I’m waiting for a phone call.”

“Ah,” Jeremy said, nodding. “Your phone interview with Johnston.”

“Exactly. But until the phone call, I have nothing to do. So I’m waiting.”

“With nothing to do.”

“Yep.”

“Well, that must suck,” Jeremy said, looking pointedly at his computer. Dan chose to ignore this.

“It does. I find I’m very bored.”

“Don’t you usually annoy Casey when you’re bored?”

“He kicked me out. Of my office, can you believe that? I’ve been so magnanimous over these many years, letting him share my office, and in my time of need, he kicks me out.”

“You’re in your time of need?”

“Well, I’m in need of something to do, or, at the very least, some entertainment,” Dan said. "So I classify it as a time of need.”

“And I’d like to help, Dan, but I’m—”

“Hey, what’s this?” Dan picked up something off his desk.

“That’s our invitation,” Jeremy said, “for the party.”

“Our?”

“Mine and Natalie’s. She left it here for me to look at.” Jeremy’s attention had wandered back to his computer screen.

“You guys only got one invitation too?” Dan shook his head. “I’m offended on your behalf, Jeremy.”

“That’s nice, Dan, but you don’t need to be,” Jeremy said absently. “Joint invitations were sent out to couples. There’s nothing sinister about it.”

Dan froze. “You only got one invitation because you’re a couple?”

“Sure. It saves paper to give out one invite instead of two when they’d be going to the same place anyway,” Jeremy said, glancing over again. He frowned. “Something wrong?”

“No,” Dan said, too quickly. “Nothing’s wrong. Excuse me, Jeremy, I need to go.” He stood, heading for his and Casey’s office, ignoring Jeremy’s confused look as he hurried away.

“Casey,” he said, closing their office door behind him.

“Dan, I told you, I’m too busy to entertain you right now, so please—”

“Casey, I think someone knows.”

Brow furrowing, Casey looked up. “Knows what?”

Knows,” Dan repeated, giving him a significant look. “About us.”

Casey’s jaw went slack. “You think someone...why would you think that someone knows?”

“Natalie and Jeremy only got one invitation to the party, Casey,” he replied. “A joint invitation. Because they’re a couple.”

“Dana said that was just a mix-up,” Casey replied, but he didn’t look completely sure.

“What if it wasn’t?”

“But they can’t know,” Casey said. “They’d have said something if they knew.”

“I guess,” Dan replied, sitting down on the couch. He stared at his shoes for a moment, then looked back up at Casey, asking, “Can I—would it be so bad if they did know?”

Casey visibly tensed. “Dan, we’ve been over this. We work in sports.”

“I don’t mean if we took out a full page ad in The New York Times, Casey,” Dan said. “But if Dana, Natalie, Jeremy, Isaac...if they knew, would it really be so bad?”

“I...I can’t have this discussion right now, Dan,” Casey said, looking studiously at the computer screen in front of him. “I need to get this done.”

Dan looked back at his shoes. “Right. And I have a phone call soon.” He stood and headed for the door, leaving the office.

---


“I think I may have done something,” Jeremy announced to Natalie. He walked into the editing room, shutting the door behind him.

Natalie gave him a curious look. “What do you think you did?”

“I think I may have inadvertently freaked Dan out about the invite thing,” he said. “He saw ours, and I mentioned that the joint invitations were for couples. He ran away pretty fast after that.”

“Oh boy,” Natalie said. “This might get messy.”

“My thoughts exactly. What should we do?”

“Well, first, thank you for telling me.” She squeezed his arm. “Second, we talk to Dana. Then we strategize.”

“Strategize?”

“On how best to deal with whatever fallout will occur.”

Jeremy looked worried. “You think there’s going to be fallout?”

“It’s Dan and Casey, Jeremy,” Natalie pointed out. “Of course there’s going to be fallout.”

“Right.” He winced. “Sorry.”

She waved that away. “It was an accident. Come on, let’s go find Dana.”

---


The downside to keeping a relationship a secret, Dan decided, was that you had no one sympathetic to talk to after a fight. Natalie would be helpful here. Or Isaac. Especially Isaac.

He tried to ignore the pang of guilt he felt just then.

Maybe fight was overstating it. This topic had never really gotten enough discussion or built up enough steam to be classified as a fight. At most, Dan would carefully bring it up, Casey would tense, and Dan would drop it, not wanting to rock the boat.

Sometimes he wished he was more willing to rock the boat, but he wasn’t. He couldn’t. Not with Casey. Not with how long he’d waited for this.

So with his phone call over and his desire not to go back to his and Casey’s office still running strong, Dan found himself wandering the building, striking up random conversations with strangers, making new friends. Getting people to like him…it was what he did best, after all. That was what Abby would have said.

He ran into a familiar face on the thirtieth floor. “Calvin?” Dan asked. He’d been “Mr. Trager” for all of ten seconds when they’d first met him. “Aren’t you supposed to be in France?”

“I flew in a little early.”

“Impressive,” Dan said, nodding, and Calvin smiled.

“You should tell Dana,” he said mysteriously, but Dan wasn’t bothered by that. A lot about Calvin Trager was still a mystery. He liked that. Mysteries were pretty rare these days. Too rare, in his opinion. What was life without a little intrigue?

“I’ll make a note of it.”

Calvin eyed him. “You seem a little down, Dan. Is something wrong?”

“Yeah,” Dan said automatically, then straightened. “I mean, not really. It’s nothing.”

“You sure?” Calvin asked, raising an eyebrow. “It doesn’t sound like nothing.”

He hesitated. “Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead.”

“Who was in charge of sending out the invitations for your party on Friday?”

“It’s the network’s party,” Calvin said, but there was a knowing smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. “My assistant handled the delivery. Why? Did yours not get delivered?”

“No, no, it did,” Dan said, and shrugged. “Just curious. That’s all.”

“You’re sure that’s all?” Calvin studied him, and Dan looked away. He had a feeling that if anyone could figure him out easily, it was this man, aloof and mysterious, studying him with that knowing smile on his face.

“Yeah,” he said. “Dana’s looking forward to your—to the network’s party on Friday,” he said, changing the subject. “We’re all going to be there.”

Calvin smiled. “I appreciate that.”

Dan glanced around. “So what’s on this floor, anyway?”

“Accounting,” Calvin said, amused. “I have a meeting in,” he glanced at his watch, “five minutes.”

“Then I guess I should stop wasting your time, huh?” Dan said lightly.

“I don’t think you were, Dan,” Calvin replied, still smiling, but Dan could tell his words were serious. “I don’t let people waste my time.”

Dan studied him for a moment. He was pretty sure he would never figure him out. “Right,” he said, mustering a smile. “Thanks.”

Calvin merely nodded and Dan walked away, thoughtful.

---


“He kind of…ran away,” Jeremy explained to Dana, who frowned.

“Where did he run?”

“His and Casey’s office,” he replied. “And he left there not long after, looking upset.”

Dana glanced at Natalie. “This could be bad.”

“That’s why we’re telling you.”

“Don’t you think—couldn’t it help if we just tell Dan and Casey we already know?” Jeremy asked.

“They haven’t told us themselves for a reason,” Natalie replied. “We do all work in sports.”

“But none of us care or anything,” Jeremy said. “Maybe that would help ease the pressure?”

“Or maybe just make it worse,” Dana said, frowning. “I’m thinking there’s something else going on, with how you said Dan left his and Casey’s office pretty fast. Maybe keeping this a secret isn’t something they agree on.”

“I’d believe that. Knowing Dan, I’m sure he feels guilty about not having told us,” Natalie replied. “He’d want to. Casey is…” she trailed off.

“Casey is kind of an idiot sometimes,” said Dana with a nod. “All right. Maybe this will blow over, maybe not. If not, we’ll have to be careful.”

“We can be careful,” Natalie said. She nudged Jeremy.

“Ah, right. Careful.” He paused. “Careful doing…what, exactly?”

“Getting Dan and Casey over their fight,” Dana said, as if it were obvious.

“…getting them over the fight we’re not supposed to know they had?” Jeremy asked.

“That’s the one.”

“…the fight they likely had over disclosing the relationship we’re also not supposed to know they’re in?”

“Now you’ve got it, honey,” Natalie said, patting him on the arm.

---


“Hey, Isaac.”

Isaac glanced up from the report he was reading to see Casey walking into his office. He shut the door behind him, and Isaac raised an eyebrow. “Can I help you?” he asked dryly.

“What?” Casey asked, head snapping up suddenly. He looked worried. “Why? No, I’m fine.”

His eyebrow didn’t lower. “You’re awfully convincing.”

Casey shook his head and sat down. “It’s just a weird day.”

Isaac studied him, wondering if this had anything to do with the invitation snafu that Dana had mentioned earlier. “What’s weird about it?”

“I…” he hesitated, then stopped, shaking his head. “I think I’m a jackass.”

Isaac raised an eyebrow again. “Any particular reason, or is this just a general feeling?”

“What would you say if I told you there was a reason, but that I couldn’t say what it was?”

“I’d say I’m not in the mood for any riddles,” Isaac replied, giving him a skeptical look.

Casey smiled wanly. “Yeah, I don’t blame you there.” He sighed, looking away, and shook his head. “What if someone had a secret, not necessarily a bad secret, but a secret other people might not take well? Does it make them a coward to want to keep it to themselves?”

“Not necessarily,” Isaac replied slowly, and decided, yes, this definitely had something to do with the invitation snafu—along with something else, too. “It’s their secret. It’s theirs to tell.”

“But what if it isn’t only their secret? What if it’s someone else’s secret too?”

“And the someone else wants to tell?” That, Isaac knew, had ‘Danny’ written all over it.

“Yeah,” Casey said heavily. “And it hurts them that the first person doesn’t want to. They think the first person is ashamed of it, but really, it’s because they think the secret is something, I’m not sure how to…something…fragile might be the right word, and more than that, it’s because they’re just scared half to death.”

And that, naturally, was quintessential Casey. “I’d say these two people need to have a long talk,” Isaac said, after a moment. “They need to decide if they can work out this difference. Otherwise, it might be better for everyone involved that they go their own separate ways.” He gave Casey an even look. “It might help if the first person were honest about why they feel the way they do.”

“Where does that first person even begin?” Casey muttered quietly, glancing down at the carpet.

Isaac wasn’t even sure that had been directed at him, but he answered anyway. “From the beginning.”

Casey snorted. “Yeah, that would make sense, wouldn’t it?”

“Casey,” Isaac said then, and he waited for Casey to look up and meet his eyes. “If this first person really cares about this other person, they need to tell them what they’re feeling. It might come out sounding awkward, wrong, whatever, but who gives a damn? The words don’t matter. It’s not the way a person says it that’s important. It’s how much they mean it.”

Casey looked away again, staying silent for a long moment. When he looked back, meeting his eyes again, he nodded and stood. “Thanks for the talk, Isaac.”

“No problem,” he said, then smiled dryly. “Maybe some time you’ll come back and tell me exactly what we talked about.” Sure, he already knew, or at least had a good idea, but Casey didn’t need that worry added to the jumbled thoughts already spinning around in his head.

It turned out to be the right thing to say, because Casey smiled, more sincerely than the last time. “Yeah, I will. See you later, Isaac.”

He left, and Isaac watched him go, only wondering why Danny hadn’t been the one to come talk to him.

---


“Natalie, if that’s you and you don’t have that tape I need, you’d better just—” Dana stopped once she glanced up and realized that it was not, in fact, Natalie who had just walked into her office.

“Hi,” said Calvin Trager—once again, very mildly. That confirmed it in Dana’s mind. That ability was just inhuman.

“Oh, it’s you,” Dana said obviously, then shook her head. “Of course it’s you. Who else would ‘you’ be?” She paused. “Let’s pretend I didn’t just say that. What can I do for you?”

“I ran into Dan a little while ago,” he replied. “On the thirtieth floor. Seemed like something was bothering him. I just got out of that meeting, so I thought I’d stop back up here and see if everything was all right.”

“Everything is absolutely great,” Dana said firmly. “Never better.”

He smiled skeptically, raising an eyebrow. “You’re sure about that?”

“I am.” She paused as something occurred to her. “Actually, I do have one question—the invitations for your party. Who handled them?”

“Had them delivered, you mean?” he asked, and she nodded. “My assistant. I’m beginning to wonder if something went wrong, though.”

“Oh?”

“You’re the second person today who’s asked me about that.”

“Dan asked, huh?” She hid her frown.

“He did.” Calvin’s expression turned almost discerning. “But nothing’s wrong?”

“Not at all. You know Dan. Who knows what he’ll fixate on next?”

“What about you?”

“Me?”

“You asked too.”

“Oh,” she said, faltering. “I’m just…trying to help him out. He asked me to look into it. He’s a curious guy, that Dan Rydell. Always interested in the inner workings of…all sorts of things that have inner workings.”

“That’s nice of you.”

“It’s best to humor him sometimes.”

“If you say so.” He looked at her for a moment, and Dana couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking. Why was he so impossible to read? “You did get your invitation, didn’t you?”

“I did, in fact, get my invitation,” she said, pulling it off the pile of papers on her desk. “Whoever picked them did a nice job, by the way. They’re not too ornate. You have to watch that in your cocktail invitations. Too ornate…that’s a trap many people fall into.”

“I’m glad you approve.” He looked amused. “Planning on attending?”

“I think so,” Dana said, attempting to sound casual. “Natalie’s really excited, so she’ll probably want me to go.”

“And sometimes you just have to humor your employees?” he replied, raising an eyebrow. His small, knowing smile did not waver.

“Exactly.”

“All right,” he said, glancing at his watch. “I have to get going. You’re positive nothing’s wrong?”

“More than positive.” She smiled a little, genuinely. “But it was, you know, really nice of you to stop by.” And it was. Calvin Trager might possess a wholly inhuman ability to not ever let anything get to him, and he might be the most mysteriously unreadable human being on the face of the planet, but he was a good, decent man. That much, at least, was obvious.

“Just let me know if there’s anything I can do,” he said, smiling back at her. It wasn’t his mysterious, knowing smile, but a gentle, sincere smile. She was surprised to find that she thought it suited him much better.

“I will. Thanks.”

He left, and it wasn’t until ten minutes later that Dana realized she couldn’t stop grinning.

---


Dan, after a very long detour through the building, finally returned to his and Casey’s office.

Casey glanced up as he walked in, but his gaze returned studiously to his computer screen not a half-second later. Frowning, Dan moved to the desk. He didn’t say a word.

They worked in silence for several long minutes, the only sound in the room the click-clack of their keyboards.

“How’d your, uh, your interview go?” Casey asked at last, awkwardly. “Johnston?”

“Good, good,” Dan said, just as awkwardly. “I got a lot of good stuff about the upcoming season, that kind of thing.”

“Oh, good. That’s good.”

The silence reigned again.

“Listen, Dan, we should—” Casey started, only to be interrupted when Natalie suddenly barged into the room.

“Hey, guys!” she said, strangely cheerfully, at least in Dan’s opinion. “Dan, can I talk to you? About that thing? …in the editing room?”

“…that thing?” Dan asked, raising an eyebrow.

“The interview!” she said, after a beat. “That’s what I meant. Could we talk about it?”

“In the editing room?”

“Sounds good.”

Dan was comforted by the bemused look on Casey’s face—clearly, Natalie was acting as bizarrely as he thought—but the comfort was short-lived. Once Casey noticed him looking his way, he glanced down. Frowning, Dan decided, what the hell. Natalie acting strange couldn’t be any worse than drowning in awkward silence. In fact, depending on what she was acting strange about, it might even be better. “All right, Natalie. Let’s go talk about that thing in the editing room.”

She smiled at him. “Great! I’ll meet you in there.”

She bustled away and Dan stood, heading for the door. He took one last look back at Casey before leaving.

---


“Dan’s waiting in the editing room. That means Casey’s alone in their office,” Natalie told Jeremy. “I’m going to talk to Dan. You handle Casey.”

“Right,” Jeremy said, then paused. “Exactly how am I supposed to handle him?”

“We’re going to kill two birds with one stone,” Natalie said. “Tell him you want to talk about Dana and Calvin.”

“…why?”

“Because they’ve been dancing around each other for months and I’m sick of it, and if we come up with a plan to get them together and rope Dan and Casey into it, they’ll have to work with one another, which should help them out too.” She smiled. “Two birds, one stone.”

“This requires us having a plan, though.”

“Oh, I’ve already got one in mind, don’t worry.”

Jeremy eyed her. “Sometimes you terrify me, you know that?” He paused. “In a good way, I mean.”

She smirked. “Of course I do. Now go talk to Casey.”

---


Life, Dan reflected, was odd.

Not just in general, although he did think his life in particular certainly had a dash of oddity regularly added to it, for spiciness and flavor, as if his entire existence were some giant cosmic curry recipe. No, what he meant was that his life—specifically, at this very moment—was just weird. There was no other way to explain it. The situation he found himself in now was simply odd.

To wit: Natalie had very oddly requested he talk to her, immediately, in the editing room—for reasons yet to be fully determined—and then, just as oddly, left him in here by himself, to wait for her to arrive and actually have a conversation with him. A conversation that would, he had no doubt, prove to be incredibly odd.

At least contemplating the oddness of Natalie was a pretty good distraction from contemplating the awkwardness of him and Casey.

“Ah, good, Dan!” Natalie said, suddenly barging into the room. She shut the door behind her carefully. “You’re here.”

“You asked me to meet you here, remember?” Dan asked. “Just six minutes ago, in fact.”

“I did. And I’ll tell you why.”

“I take it it’s not to talk about my phone interview with Johnston?”

She frowned. “You knew that was a lie?”

“I saw through your clever ruse, yes,” Dan replied dryly.

“Whatever,” she said, apparently deciding it didn’t matter. “I need you to help me implement a plan.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Implement a plan?”

“About Dana and Calvin.”

Yeah, this was definitely going to be odd. “You need me to help you implement a plan about Dana and Calvin?”

“You can’t tell me you haven’t noticed the way they’ve been acting,” Natalie said, giving him a look.

“Considering I’m not completely oblivious to the world around me, you’re right, I can’t,” Dan agreed.

"Exactly," Natalie said, pointing at him in a way that left him worried. "So we’re going to do them a favor."

“I’m almost afraid to ask who the ‘we’ is in this scenario.”

“You, me, Jeremy, and Casey.” She said this like it was obvious.

Of course. Casey. “I don’t know, Natalie. You know how Dana tends to get that really scary look on her face whenever she finds out we’ve been med—”

“Daniel,” Natalie said in a too-sweet tone that almost made him shudder, “if Dana finds out about this, her scary looks will be the least of your troubles.” She smiled at him then, in a way that defied an appropriate adverb. He mentally sought for one and came up with ‘terrifyingly,’ but decided that fell short. Maybe ‘ominously.’ Yes, she smiled ominously—that had a certain ring to it.

“Right,” he said, and swallowed. “What do you want me to do?”

“Good boy.”

---


Jeremy was hovering awkwardly in the doorway.

Casey let him continue hovering for as long as he could stand it—somewhere in the neighborhood of four or five minutes—before he looked up from his computer screen and said, “Jeremy. Can I help you?”

“I’m not sure any human being alive can help me, Casey,” said Jeremy, more than a trifle dramatically, at least in Casey’s opinion. He watched as Jeremy finally stopped hovering in the doorway and walked into the office, dropping onto the couch.

“Okay,” Casey said slowly, eyeing him. “You didn’t manage to accidentally delete an entire clip segment again, did you?”

“I did that one time, and I recovered it eventually!” Jeremy protested.

“Dana still almost beheaded you.”

He shuddered. “Yeah, I remember.”

“So if it’s not that, why can no human being alive help you?”

“I’m supposed to be in here talking to you about Dana and Calvin.”

Casey raised an eyebrow. “That doesn’t seem right.”

“I thought so too,” Jeremy agreed. “But Natalie has a plan.”

“Oh,” said Casey. “Well, now I understand.”

“You’re a wise man, Casey.”

“So what has Natalie cooked up this time?”

“She says it’s time for them to stop playing coy,” Jeremy replied. “She wants me, you, and Dan to help.”

Casey swallowed at the mention of Dan. “Exactly how dead set on this is Natalie?”

“You remember the first thing I said to you when I walked in here, right?”

“Got it,” Casey said, resigned. “Tell me Natalie’s plan.”

---


Dan raised his eyebrows when he watched Jeremy slink out of his and Casey’s office. He looked very much like he was up to something.

“Jeremy was telling you about Natalie’s secret plan, wasn’t he?” Dan asked once he walked in.

Casey snorted. “He is not a man cut out for subterfuge, our Jeremy.”

“No, no he is not,” Dan said, grinning. For a second, it was like nothing between them was weird or wrong—this was just them, easy, fun, natural.

The moment passed as quickly as it came, an awkward silence settling over them.

“We should talk,” Casey said eventually. “Not right now. We still have to finish the show. But we should talk.”

Dan tried not to let a feeling of dread settle in the pit of his stomach—unsuccessfully. “After?”

Casey looked up, meeting his eyes for the briefest of seconds. “After.”

---


Dana met Natalie’s eyes in the control room. The show was off tonight, almost indescribably so. She could feel it, and given the concerned look on Natalie’s face, she assumed Natalie could feel it too.

“I’m working on something,” Natalie said then. “It might help.”

Dana watched as Dan and Casey bantered on the air, interactions that usually sparkled with honesty and genuine warmth. This felt more like a cheap wax sheen on a crappy used car, fake and insincere, meant to fool.

“I hope it does,” she murmured, more to herself than Natalie.

---


Casey tried to will away the churning in his stomach whenever he glanced at his and Dan’s office. The show was over—it’d been crap, and he knew it, and it was because of this—and he’d told Dan they’d talk. They had to. Not just for themselves, either—having to force lighthearted banter with Dan of all people was just wrong, and it wasn’t good for Sports Night.

He knew Dan was already waiting for him.

The churning in his stomach would not go away. What if it turned out they would never agree on this? What if Isaac was right, and it was for the best that they go their separate ways? After everything he and Dan had been through, what did that even entail? They still had to work together. Could they still be friends? Was it even possible for him and Dan to be just colleagues, to wipe the slate clean of all their history?

That prospect was too dreary to consider.

“What’s up, Casey?”

He started, glancing up to see Dana looking at him strangely. “Uh, sorry, what?”

“You okay?”

“Sorry, yeah,” he said, rubbing his face. “I just spaced out, I guess.”

Dana’s expression shifted into a bizarre mixture of concern and something else, something he couldn’t quite place. It was gone just as quickly as it’d come, though, as she fixed him with a shrewd look and asked, “So what’s going on with you and Dan?”

The churning in his stomach got worse. Shit. The show. Of course Dana would notice. She knew them too well not to. “What?” he asked, forcing a smile. “Nothing,” he said, and it sounded unconvincing even to his own ears. There was no way Dana would buy it.

“Uh-huh.” Yeah, she definitely didn’t buy it. “The way you guys were acting, I could have had Dan and Casey cardboard cut-outs on set instead and gotten a better effect.”

“Look, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “A stupid disagreement, that’s all.”

“If it’s messing up my show, it’s a big deal,” she said firmly. “Work it out.”

There was that indescribable expression again, slipping in after her I’m-in-charge look. “Yeah,” he said. “We will. Don’t worry.”

“Good.” She smiled and left him by himself.

Casey wished talking to Dana would’ve made him feel better. Instead, he only felt more like he was going to throw up.

---


Dan absently flipped his pencil between his fingers, waiting on the couch in his and Casey’s office. They would meet here and then leave together, maybe go back to Casey’s place, and finally talk.

Talking would be good. It’d make things better.

He was having trouble convincing himself of that last part.

“Still here, Dan?” asked a voice, breaking him out of his reverie. He glanced up to see Dana walk into the office.

“Yeah. Just waiting for Casey.”

“So you guys can fix whatever happened to screw up my show?” she asked, arching an eyebrow, and he swallowed.

“You noticed that, huh?”

“Dan, you and Casey weren’t that awkward even on your first show together.”

“Yeah,” he said, shaking his head. “We just need to talk. It’ll be fine.”

“It better,” Dana said, but her expression had softened, and he smiled wanly.

“It will. Don’t worry.”

“Hey,” said Jeremy suddenly, as he walked in the room. He turned to Dan. “Uh, Dan, Casey wanted me to tell you that he had to go, but he’d catch you on Monday.”

“He what,” said Dana, which was fortunate, because it gave Dan a chance to school his expression into something that would not suggest he’d just been punched in the gut.

Jeremy glanced warily at Dana, not that Dan blamed him. She had one of her particularly scary looks on her face. “He…had to go,” he repeated weakly. “Is that Natalie? I think I hear Natalie. I’ll be right back.” He bolted.

“I am going to kill that man,” Dana muttered.

“Don’t kill Jeremy. He was only the messenger.”

“I meant Casey.”

“I think there’s something prohibiting that in our contracts.”

“Dan, tell me honestly,” Dana said, looking right at him, “how bad is this? What did you guys fight about?”

It took all of Dan’s willpower not to break down right then and tell her the truth. He knew he’d feel better. He knew she could probably help. In fact, he almost did, starting with, “Casey and I…” and he stopped, realizing at the last second that he just couldn’t, not with the way things were. “It’s nothing,” he finished quietly. “Really. Just one of those things that gets out of hand. I’m sure everything will be fine by Monday.”

Dana’s expression kept wavering, between an exasperated I’m-your-boss and a worried I’m-your-friend and even something else entirely that he didn’t have a name for. “All right,” she said at last. “If you say so.”

Dan managed another wan smile. “I do.”

---


“Damn,” said Dana, as she walked into the reception hall. It was enormous, with a seemingly endless line of food on buffet tables along the walls. Ice sculptures and other decorations only added to the overall feeling of grandness, and the room was already starting to fill with people. She watched as servers carrying trays with flutes of champagne filed out of a door near the back and started mingling with the forming crowd. “This is impressive.” She paused. “Don’t tell Calvin I said that.”

Natalie laughed. “He’s over there,” she said, indicating the man himself, off by one of the ice sculptures—a swan, naturally—talking to another man who looked really important. “You could go tell him yourself.”

“Natalie,” she said in a warning tone, to which Natalie only gave her an innocent look in return. It was not remotely convincing, and her eyes narrowed. “Do you have something planned?”

“Me?” Natalie asked, widening her eyes. “Of course not.”

Dana gave her a suspicious look, then turned to Jeremy, who was inspecting another nearby ice sculpture. “Look at the detail work on this,” he said to her, sounding almost awed. “This artist is incredible.”

“Jeremy, does Natalie have something planned?”

Jeremy glanced up warily. “Planned?” he asked, not meeting her eyes.

“Jeremy.”

“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” he told her—or, more, accurately, he told someone standing slightly to the left of her.

Dana crossed her arms and looked directly at Natalie. “Whatever you have planned, call it off.”

“It’s nothing!” Natalie insisted. Dana kept looking at her. “No, really, it’s nothing. It was supposed to help with Dan and Casey, too, but that only works if they’re actually talking to each other.”

As if on cue, Dan walked into the hall, looking, in Dana’s opinion, utterly miserable. “Hey, Dan,” Dana called, and he appeared to force a smile, walking over.

“Hey.”

“Where’s Casey?” Jeremy asked. She detected a note of caution in his voice.

Dan apparently didn’t notice. He tensed slightly and shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“There he is,” said Natalie, and Dana glanced up to see him walk in, talking to Dave. “Casey!” she called.

He looked up. Dana watched as he and Dan met each other’s eyes for the briefest of moments; then Dan muttered, “I’m going to go get a drink. Be right back,” and hurried off toward one of the servers. It was then apparently Casey’s turn to look utterly miserable.

“On the bright side, it looks like my plan’s off?” Natalie said weakly.

Dana sighed.

---


As soon as he’d walked in the door and seen Dan, seen the look on his face, seen him flee—from him—Casey had known this party was going to suck. He’d never hated being right so much in his life.

Thirty minutes in, and he and Dan hadn’t even stepped within ten feet of one another. It wasn’t like he could be angry, either, because it was entirely his fault. He was the one to let things get this screwed up.

“I am such an asshole,” he said aloud, to no one in particular.

To his surprise, no one in particular answered back. “Are you sure about that?”

Casey turned to see that, in this case, “no one in particular” was in fact Calvin Trager, network owner and the host of this party that Casey wanted so desperately to just be over already. “Unfortunately, yeah,” he said, and rubbed his face.

“You look like you could use some champagne,” Calvin noted. He smiled and waved over one of the servers, taking two of the flutes and handing one to Casey. “Thank you, Julia,” he said, and she nodded, smiling before returning to the crowd.

“Thanks,” Casey replied belatedly, taking a sip. He wasn’t much of a champagne drinker, but this wasn’t bad.

“So why are you an asshole?” Calvin asked, lips quirking into a friendly smile. “If you’ll pardon my parroting of the term.”

“It’s true, so why would I care?” Casey said. He glanced heavenward, sighing heavily. “I’m an asshole because I can’t even get up the courage to tell someone the truth. More than one someone, really.” He took another drink from his glass.

“The truth is a hard thing to tell,” Calvin said. “It can be risky.”

“It sure can.” Casey snorted. That was the understatement of the year.

Calvin shrugged. “Of course, in my experience, there are a lot of situations where it’s riskier not to tell the truth.”

“Yeah, I know that too.” Not telling the truth had gotten him into this situation in the first place.

“Can you look at it from a business perspective?” Calvin asked. “Risk versus reward. Is the reward worth the risk you’d take?”

“More than worth it,” Casey replied instantly. That was one thing he’d always be sure about, no matter what. “The reward is…everything.”

Because it was. It was Dan, their friendship, this new, fragile thing they had—but it was even more than that, too, because it was also the show, their friends, the people who cared about them the most.

“It’s everything,” he repeated, and it was almost like he’d suddenly been struck by lightning: everything was so painfully clear. “Calvin, excuse me.”

“Of course.”

Casey spared a glance back at him, briefly wondering if he seemed…amused? Shaking his head, he kept going. He had to find Dan.

---


“I’m fine, Dana, really,” Dan said—almost pleaded.

Dana frowned. It was probably the fifth time he’d said it, and she still didn’t believe it for a second. “Are you—”

“Dana, sorry, excuse me,” Casey interrupted. He looked energized, determined. “Dan, can we talk?”

“I can,” Dan said. “I’m not sure if you know how.”

“I’m sorry, Dan. I screwed up. But I just…” He stopped suddenly and turned to her. “Dana, Dan and I have been dating for the past four months. That’s what’s been going on. We had a fight. Now we need to go fix it.” He looked at Dan again. “Now can we go talk?”

The shock on Dan’s face slowly receded, a small smile taking its place. “Yeah,” he said. “Let’s go talk.”

They left, heading out of the reception hall together. “Finally,” Dana said to herself, shaking her head. “It’s about damn time.”

“What’s about time?” asked a very calm, even voice from behind her.

She knew that voice anywhere, smiling as she turned around. Calvin looked good in a tux, she noted. “Nothing, it’s nothing,” she said.

“If you say so,” he said, and smiled back at her, genuine and warm. “You look lovely, Dana.”

Her smile turned almost shy. “Thank you,” she said. “I like your tux, and your party isn’t half-bad either.”

“Two compliments in one sentence?” he asked in faux-surprise. “I never thought I’d see the day.”

“Well, I’m in a good mood,” she said, grinning.

“Right. The nothing?” His smile turned knowing.

“The nothing,” she agreed, giving him her own knowing smile in return.

---


“You just told Dana,” Dan said incredulously, once they were out in the entrance hall, far away from the doors to the reception room. “You just outed us to Dana.”

“Yeah, I did,” Casey said, smiling sheepishly. “And I should have done it sooner. I’m sorry, Dan. I really am. I’m not ashamed of you, or us, I just…things suck sometimes, you know? And this…us…it’s something. Something important.”

Dan nodded. “It is.”

“I’m just…god, I don’t know how to say this.” He shook his head. “Isaac told me that didn’t matter, which is true, but he also once told me that making a gesture was more than worth what you got in return. I don’t know how I managed to forget about it, but luckily enough, Calvin kind of inadvertently reminded me just a few minutes ago.” He took a deep breath. “I love you, Dan. It scares me sometimes, and not because of you but because of everybody else, and...I just…sometimes I’m an idiot and sometimes I’m an asshole, and I’m sorry.”

Dan’s grin threatened to split his face in two. “You’re not an asshole,” he said, glancing around. The hallway was deserted, so he leaned in and kissed him hard. After he pulled away, he said, “Now an idiot? I’ll believe that.”

Casey laughed. “Thanks,” he said dryly. “I think.”

“I still can’t believe you told Dana.” He laughed suddenly. “Do you think she’s still standing there, wondering what the hell just happened?”

Casey snorted. “Probably. We should maybe go back and find out, clear things up.”

“She’s probably going to be annoyed we waited so long to tell her,” Dan said, grinning. “I bet she’ll yell at you.”

“You would enjoy that too much.”

“Or, no, maybe she’ll follow through on the puns!”

Casey groaned. “God, I hope not.”

Dan just snickered. After a moment, he added, looking hopeful, “So now we can tell Natalie, Jeremy, and Isaac?”

“Yeah,” Casey said, and he couldn’t help but kick himself again for being such a coward. It was such a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but it made Dan grin like that, and he’d been too much of an idiot to figure that out until now. Risk versus reward indeed. “We can.”

---


As it happened, they were intercepted by Natalie and Jeremy upon returning to the reception hall. “Where’d you both go?” Natalie asked, eyeing them both shrewdly. “Dana wouldn’t say.”

Dan grinned. “We had to go talk,” he said. “And we have something to tell you.”

“You want to do the honors?” Casey asked him.

“Oh, but you’re getting so good at it.”

“Guys,” Natalie said, giving them each a look. “Spit it out already.”

“We’re dating,” Dan said. “We have been for the past four months.”

Natalie grinned widely. “Yes!” she said, hugging him fiercely.

Jeremy grinned as well, at both him and Casey. “Congratulations!”

Once Natalie let him go, Dan couldn’t help but exchange a look with Casey. Then Casey said basically what he was thinking, which was, “I can’t help but notice you don’t seem all that surprised.”

“What?” Natalie asked. She attempted an innocent expression. It was pretty unconvincing.

“You’ve got to stop trying that expression,” Jeremy muttered.

“You said Dana didn’t tell you,” Dan said slowly. “So why aren’t you surprised?”

“We are surprised,” Jeremy protested. “Really…really surprised!”

“And you have to just stop that,” Natalie muttered. “Okay, Dan, Casey, to tell you the truth…we’ve kind of known.”

“You knew?” Almost comically, he and Casey said that at roughly the same time.

“We knew,” Jeremy confirmed.

“For how long?” Dan asked.

“Oh, you know. Not long. A month,” Natalie said nonchalantly. “Or four.”

Dan stared at them. “You’ve known the entire time? You didn’t say a word.”

“Well, we figured you weren’t telling us for a reason,” she said.

“We wanted you to tell us when you were ready,” added Jeremy.

“So if you knew,” Casey began, “then Dana knew too, right?”

“Casey,” Natalie said, sounding almost amused, “everyone knew. Me, Jeremy, Dana, even Will, Elliott, Kim, Chris, Dave…”

“Isaac,” said Dan suddenly, paling. “Isaac knew?”

“Yeah, of course,” she said.

He swallowed. “Excuse me.”

---


Isaac watched with interest as Dan and Casey walked back into the reception hall. They both seemed much more relaxed, much more their usual selves. It looked like someone finally had a talk.

He smiled to himself. Good.

“Enjoying yourself?” asked an even voice, off to his right. He glanced over to see none other than Calvin Trager approaching him.

“I am now,” Isaac said with a smile. Calvin followed his gaze, to where Dan and Casey were now talking to Natalie and Jeremy. He smiled as well, small and pleased, and Isaac wondered.

“I’m glad about that,” he said, turning that pleased smile on him. “Make sure you try the champagne.”

He left, and Isaac watched him go, considering what he might know. His reverie was short-lived, however, because before long, he caught sight of Dan rushing toward him, looking concerned.

“So...you knew,” Dan said as soon as he reached him, without preamble. Lowering his voice, he added, “About me and Casey. The whole time, you knew?”

Isaac snorted. “You boys aren’t the best at keeping secrets, especially not from the people who love you the most.”

He swallowed, glancing down, not meeting his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he told his shoes. “I wanted to tell you. I…” he trailed off, shaking his head.

“Danny,” Isaac said gently. “Danny. Look at me,” he added, more firmly that time.

Dan looked up.

Isaac smiled at him, eyes warm. “Listen. It’s okay. You don’t have to apologize for anything.”

“I should have—“

“Danny,” he said again. “If you think I’m going to demand anything else from you than to see you happy, you’re sorely mistaken. You and Casey had your reasons for not saying anything. You don’t have to apologize for anything.”

Dan smiled slowly. “Thanks, Isaac.”

“Now get back to the party,” he semi-ordered, and Dan grinned and headed in the direction of the buffet, where Dana was currently talking to one Calvin Trager. Isaac, on the other hand, scanned the crowd, looking for Casey. He spotted him by one of the ice sculptures, with Natalie and Jeremy.

“Champagne?” asked a server, offering him a tray.

“Thank you,” Isaac said, picking up a flute. He headed for the ice sculpture. “Exciting news?” he asked as he approached them. Natalie and Jeremy only grinned. Casey looked pleased, if somewhat sheepish.

“I’ll say,” said Natalie, sounding giddy.

“Congratulations,” he said to Casey, lifting his glass. Casey smiled and clinked glasses with him, and they drank. “Could we talk?” he asked then, lowering his voice.

“Sure,” he said, looking curious. “I’ll be right back,” he told Natalie and Jeremy, who were also giving him curious looks. “What’s up, Isaac?” he asked, as Isaac led him to a more secluded area of the reception hall.

“You and Danny finally had that conversation we talked about?”

“Yeah,” Casey said, smiling. “We did. Thanks.”

“Good,” he said, leaning in and giving him an even look. “Don’t hurt him, Casey.”

Casey’s expression sobered. “I almost did,” he admitted, quietly.

“Keep talking to him,” Isaac replied. “It’s important. Danny’s important.”

“Yeah, I know,” Casey said, sighing. He met his eyes. “Dan’s important to me too, Isaac. I’m going to do my damnedest not to screw this up.”

“Good.” He clapped him on the shoulder. “Then I meant what I said earlier. Congratulations.”

Casey smiled.

---


Dana smiled at Dan when he walked up. He looked a hell of a lot better. “Hey, Dan,” she said, trying to keep her smile reasonable.

“Hey,” he said. His grin was nowhere approaching reasonable.

“You look happy, Dan,” said Calvin. His smile was bordering on the point of smug. That was new.

“I am, Calvin, and I’ll tell you why,” he said. “You really know how to throw a party. It’s impressive.”

Dana snorted. “If you’re easily impressed,” she said, sending Calvin a smirk.

“One of these days, Dana, I’ll manage to impress you,” he said, smirking back.

“You sound awfully confident about that,” Dana said, raising an eyebrow.

“I am confident.”

“I guess we’ll see, won’t we?”

“Okay, now I remember why Natalie had a plan,” Dan said absently, shaking his head.

“Daniel,” Dana said warningly.

“Natalie had a plan?” Calvin asked, seemingly curious.

“That she most certainly did,” Dan said, “but you know what? Plans are too much work. Especially when two people flirt as obviously as you two do.”

“Daniel Jacob Rydell, I am going to kill you, bring you back to life, and then kill you again.” The look she gave him might not have actually been lethal, but it was probably close. “You—”

“Speaking as its owner, I’m afraid the network would frown upon that. Bad for the show,” Calvin interrupted, smiling at her. This wasn’t knowing or even or anything other than pure amusement. “But if you insist, would you mind if I asked you to dinner first? I imagine murder probably works up an appetite.”

She snapped her mouth shut, then opened it again to say something, but nothing came out. After a long moment, she finally said, “You’re not just asking because Dan said that, are you?”

“Dana, do you think I’m the kind of man who would do that?”

“No,” she admitted. “I don’t.”

“I’m asking because you’re a beautiful, interesting, intelligent woman,” he said, and smirked. “And I did say I would try to impress you.”

She smiled then, widely. “All right,” she said. “Then yes.”

Dan grinned at them. “My work here is done,” he declared. “Natalie!” he called, and she looked up. “I fixed it!” Natalie grinned.

Dana shot him a look. “Daniel, if I were you, I’d be very, very careful. I’m still not sure I’ve changed my mind about killing you.”

“Right,” he said. Dana was pleased to see Calvin shrug at him when Dan looked to him for help, as if to say, Sorry, you’re on your own. He licked his lips. “Well. I’m going to go…be somewhere else now. Bye!”

He bolted. Dana smirked at Calvin, who smirked back.

---


“We should probably leave before Dana kills me,” Dan said to Casey, as soon as he found him.

“Yeah, I saw her give you that really scary look,” Casey replied. “What’d you do?”

“I may have commented on how obviously she and Calvin were flirting.”

“Oh, man, Danny, you are so dead.”

“Maybe,” he said. “He did ask her out.”

“Did he?” Casey smirked. “About time.” He paused. “And yes, I fully realize the irony of me of all people saying that.”

“I was going to say,” Dan said, but he grinned. “So what are your thoughts on getting the hell out of here?”

“Well, if it’s to keep you alive,” Casey said, grinning back. “And it has been over an hour.” A thought occurred to him. “Wait, does our deal even still apply?”

Dan gave him a smirk. “Follow me and find out.”

Casey smirked too. They left the reception hall, heading for the limos lined up out back. “Annabelle! I think we’re ready to go,” Dan said cheerily to the woman who approached them.

“Of course, sir,” she said with a smile. “This way.”

They followed her to one of the limos, and Dan got in first, then Casey. Dan gave Annabelle his address, and she smiled again and nodded, then rolled up the divider.

Dan waited until they were on the road before he leaned over and kissed Casey hard, letting every bit of stress that had been eating him up since the fight the other day just dissipate, fade away. Casey groaned and deepened it, pressing him back against the seat and shifting half on top of him.

“Missed that,” Dan murmured, once they broke apart. “Missed you.”

“God, me too,” Casey agreed, and he kissed him again.

Dan let his hands wander as they kissed passionately, one tangling in Casey’s hair, the other sliding down his chest. Casey gripped his neck, pressing closer and making him moan softly. They broke apart again, for just a moment, breathing heavily, resting their foreheads together and meeting each other’s eyes. Then they were kissing again, and the combination of the normal spectacular sensation of Casey and the relief of how good it felt, after everything, was enough to make Dan dizzy.

His hand moved between them, undoing the button on Casey’s slacks and unzipping them. He slipped his hand inside Casey’s pants, pushing past his boxers, and grasped his cock.

Casey groaned into their kiss, hips jerking ever so slightly. Dan stroked him. He moaned that time, breaking the kiss, and Dan loved that look in his eyes, just a little bit wild.

He licked his lips and grinned. “Sit back,” he said, and Casey did, but not before stealing another kiss. Dan smirked and moved to the floor of the limo, tugging Casey’s pants and boxers down. He grinned, taking Casey’s cock in hand again, stroking once, slowly, from root to tip, loving the way Casey sighed in pleasure and gave him such a lust-filled look. He licked his lips again, and without warning, leaned forward and took the head of Casey’s cock into his mouth.

He glanced up through his lashes, noting that Casey’s eyes had snapped shut. He took more of Casey’s cock into his mouth, working his tongue around the underside, and sucked softly, bobbing his head. Casey groaned again and a hand came to rest on his shoulders, fingers gripping. Dan swiped his tongue around the head of Casey’s dick, drawing out another moan, and increased the intensity of his suction. Casey’s hips jerked. “Dan,” he murmured. “Fuck, Dan.”

Were his mouth not otherwise occupied, Dan would have grinned. Instead, he brought a hand to Casey’s balls, massaging softly, and then he started humming, keeping up the rhythm to the bobs of his head. “Oh god,” Casey groaned, tightening his grip on Dan’s shoulder. He muttered something muffled, and Dan glanced up to see Casey with his fist at his mouth. His hips jerked again, making Dan groan around his cock.

Casey moaned something else, still muffled around his hand, and Dan could tell he was close. He kept up his pace, humming and bobbing and massaging Casey’s balls, groaning again when Casey’s fingers dug further into his shoulder. His hips jerked again, twice, and he moaned again, “Fuck,” the hand that been in front of his mouth flying to Dan’s other shoulder as he came hard, head tilted back, breathing ragged.

Dan swallowed and pulled off, taking a good look at him. He looked good, face flushed, breathing hard, mouth open and lips swollen. Dan moved back onto the seat next to him, leaning in and kissing him hard.

“That,” Casey started breathlessly, “made the party so worth it.”

Dan laughed, pressing against him. “Good,” he said, and kissed him again.

Casey reached over and palmed him through his slacks, making him groan. “Think you can wait until we get back to your place?” he asked lowly, giving him a grin that Dan could only describe as “pure evil.” “The things I want to do to you, Dan…trust me when I say we’ll need all the room we can get.”

Dan swallowed. “I think I like the sound of that.”

Casey smirked.

---


The party, it seemed, was pretty much over, though admittedly Dana had missed some of it. She and Calvin had decided to sneak off with a bottle of champagne to talk by themselves, and they’d ended up in some unoccupied area of the labyrinth of reception halls in the building. It was nice, just talking, getting to know one another. “So is this our first date?” she asked him, grinning.

He raised an eyebrow, glancing down at his undone tie, to the half-gone bottle, and then around the room itself. In Dana’s opinion, it looked kind of like they’d found a coatroom that had delusions of grandeur. “We’re sitting on folding chairs,” he said slowly, “and there isn’t even a table. Or, for that matter, dinner.”

“I had some crab puffs from the buffet tables earlier,” she said, half-shrugging and trying to hide a grin.

“That doesn’t count,” he said, giving her an amused look.

“If you say so,” she said, and smirked. “But as far as first dates go, if this were one? It would be a good one. Just saying.”

He smirked too. “Then I’ll keep that in mind.”

“You do that.” She smiled, leaned back in her chair, and listened. The hustle and bustle had significantly waned. “I think everybody’s gone,” Dana commented. “Or most people, probably. Are we going to get kicked out?”

“I own the network,” he said wryly. “There aren’t a lot of places I get kicked out.”

“That’s not impressive either,” she said, grinning at him.

Calvin shrugged, holding up his hands, and kept smirking. “Then I’ll just have to keep trying.”

“Yeah, you will.” She grinned and took another drink. “Maybe I won’t kill Dan after all.”

“It’d be better for the show if you don’t,” he agreed. “And Casey.”

She paused in bringing her glass to her lips again. “And Casey?”

“They’re friends,” Calvin said, too blandly to be sincere. “He’d be upset.”

A slow grin spread over her face as something occurred to her. She gave him a very calculating look. “Your assistant handled the invitations, huh?”

“I believe I already told you that.” More of that too-bland tone.

He was saying what she thought he was, he had to be. “It was you, wasn’t it?” she said, grinning wider. “You sent them the joint invitation on purpose, didn’t you? You’ve known about them all this time.”

Calvin merely took a drink from his glass and smiled mysteriously. He didn’t say a word.

That was enough confirmation for her. She grinned impossibly wider and leapt from her chair, leaning in and kissing him suddenly; when they broke apart, she was proud to see he looked far less composed than usual. He had not been expecting that, which made her wonder. “So was this part of your master plan too?” she asked, indicating the two of them. “You and me?”

He swallowed, regaining his composure, and slowly wrapped an arm around her waist. “If I’d had a master plan, and I’m not saying I did,” but his smile belied his words, “this would not have been a part of it, no. This would be what we in the business world like to call a...happy accident.” He smirked, just slightly. “If I’d planned any of this, that is.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, then laughed, leaning in and kissing him again. When they broke apart this time, she smirked at him and added, “Your secret’s safe with me.”
dinahqueen: Bro Fist! (Default)

[personal profile] dinahqueen 2012-04-10 06:00 pm (UTC)(link)
I loved this. (: Thank you for sharing. :D
spikedluv: (ai: kris&adam - gma secrets by talipuu)

[personal profile] spikedluv 2012-04-10 06:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I haven't read Sports Night fic (or watched the eps) in too long! I've missed Dan and Casey's banter and you did a good job with that here. As well as Natalie buzzing around like a little bee! Great story.
pairatime: (Subtext what subtext)

[personal profile] pairatime 2012-04-10 11:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I like Calvin. great story
beledibabe: (Hi sailor (liviapenn))

[personal profile] beledibabe 2012-04-11 12:19 am (UTC)(link)
Delightful! Oh, how I miss Sports Night. . . This was a lovely little reminder of just how wonderful it was.
subluxate: Sophia Bush leaning against a piano (Default)

[personal profile] subluxate 2012-04-11 04:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I still love this. You have the banter so very down, and everyone's so in character. Great job.
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Default)

[personal profile] china_shop 2012-04-28 05:51 am (UTC)(link)
*applauds madly* I really enjoyed this. Oh boys! And the Natalie/Jeremy interactions were hilarious. <333

In case you didn't see already:

(Anonymous) 2012-05-19 07:37 pm (UTC)(link)
http://reviewsanon.livejournal.com/492.html?thread=194284#t194284
(not reviewer)

It's a favorable review, btw. :)
sarcasticsra: A picture of a rat snuggling a teeny teddy bear. (Default)

Re: In case you didn't see already:

[personal profile] sarcasticsra 2012-05-19 10:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I had not seen that! It makes me really happy. Thanks for the link!