It Could Be Worse:

It Could Be Worse:

The Bloopers

By Sulia Serafine

[A Protector of the Small fanfic set in an alternate universe; all credit goes to Tamora Pierce. I'm broke, so you can't sue me.

Oh, one more thing: BAD LANGUAGE (I. E. cursing, swearing…). You have been warned!

E-mail me at silverwLng@aol.com, okay?

(Episode 1: Best of the Best; scene: cafeteria at DJPF headquarters)

"I'm not saying that I was, dummy!" the younger, shorter one replied. He sighed. "I also overheard that they were going to transfer me to A district. I won't be a B officer soon."

"What!" Neal exclaimed. "They can't divide the three of us up! Don't they know what they're missing out on here? True friendship, true--"

"Goofiness," Keladry smirked. "Maybe they want to keep you from becoming too childish. Separate the children just like a mother would, and they'll concentrate on their work."

Neal folded his arms. "Well I still think it's unfair." He turned to Owen. "I'm going to miss you, buddy. Who else will accompany me when I go to the lounge to pick up chicks?"

Commissioner Wyldon ran onto the set, waving his arms. "Ooh! I will! I haven't had a date in about… ten years, but that's okay! I can learn all over again!"

Neal blinked. He turned to Keladry, who shrugged, and then to Owen, who was biting his lip so not to laugh. Finally, he sighed and nodded his head. It was a bad idea to deny the boss anything. "Um, okay. Whatever you say, sir."

"All right! Now, where do you kids hang out? Is it still the laundry room, eh?" He elbowed Neal jokingly. A never before seen grin plastered his face. "In my day, everybody took frequent trips there, if you get my meaning…"

"Er," Neal paled slightly. The thought of Wyldon as a young man was disturbing, if not horrifying. "Um, not really, sir… Uh…C-commissioner!"

The girl whose butt was just pinched turned around and slapped the commissioner, while the aged man whooped and burst into laughter. Neal threw his hands up in the air in a surge of frustration and annoyance. He took off his uniform jacket and threw it on the ground.

"I can't take this anymore! Can we do this scene over?"

"CUT!" the director yelled as he raced back onto the set. He had only been gone for twenty seconds to get a piece of Danish from the food table and now everything was falling apart. He looked back and forth from each actor. Then he glanced about at the cameras and the lighting.

"Wait a darned second…" He walked up to Commissioner Wyldon and cleared his throat. "Excuse me."

"Yes?"

In one swift motion, the director reached up to the edge of the other man's face and tugged sharply. He peeled off the mask to reveal Cleon, not the Commissioner.

"I knew something was different. For one thing, Wyldon does not wear sneakers. I assume you couldn't wait until episode four to show up?" the director said dryly. He dropped the latex mask on the floor and waited patiently for a reply from the offender. Everyone on the set gasped. The other actors groaned. They'd have to shoot the scene again. The only person smiling was Cleon. The tall redhead blushed and waved at the camera.

"Hi, Mom."

(Episode 2: The Guy With The Bike; scene: outside at the loading area)

"Hey!" she called over to him. When he didn't approach her, she pushed off the crates she was leaning on and came to him. Before Keladry could talk, he spoke with evident irritation.

"If you're going to hit on me, save yourself the trouble and walk away. I don't care for flirtatious girls, who don't know a damned thing about hard work," he spat. His voice was sharper than the finest chef's knife. Keladry folded her arms.

"No," Keladry replied, although annoyed by the hostility of his response. "I'm Keladry Mindelan. And you're obviously--"

He stood with his feet a little ways apart, his face tilted towards her in a model-like fashion. He casually held his helmet still tucked under one arm. With the other hand, he drew sunglasses from his jacket pocket and put them on. It was then that she noticed the gold Rolex on his wrist. "The name is Stone. Joren Stone."

She blinked. "Right…" Keladry knew this wasn't supposed to be like this, but maybe she could save the scene. So, she cleared her throat and continued. "And I said I'm Mindelan. Keladry Mindelan."

He snorted in a lightly mocking, but not snobbish way. "No. I don't think so."

"Excuse me?" she frowned in confusion.

"From now on, your name will be Moneypenny."

"What?" Her jaw could have hit the floor, had she the characteristics of cartoons.

"Yes, yes… now where is Q?" He walked past her, scouring the crowds with his eyes. His voice had all of a sudden turned deeper, and fuller. It was husky, and all man.

Keladry followed him, arms folded across her chest. The female officer was stifling every urge she had to punch him or kick him. She peered at him with concern instead. "Are you sure you're feeling well? Maybe you'd like some tea or some sort of drink?"

Joren turned to her, a sly smile lighting up his face. Generally suspicious of his motives, she stepped back. He chuckled and started to inadvertently pose again. "Make sure it's shaken, not stirred."

"Okay," she replied uneasily. Under her breath, she muttered, "Weirdo."

"Aren't you charmed with me? Most of the girls are," he said with a cocky tone. He turned to another angle and shot a subtle pose once again, winking at the people around him. "How about a death defying motorcycle chase around Headquarters? Maybe…you would like to scale the walls with me to sneak into the top-secret office of the commissioner, where the cute girl is being held captive? Come now, Moneypenny, say something."

A wide range of emotions surged across her face. Her normal act should have ensured impassivity and unrevealing feelings, but the situation was not by any ways normal. She couldn't hold it in anymore. She burst into laughter, doubling over with her hands on her stomach. They curled around further so she was clutching her sides. Keladry even paused halfway and took a large breath. And she continued to guffaw so unladylike that the classy make-up artists on the sides of the set shook their heads.

"CUT!" the director, yelled. The angry man grabbed his hat from off his head and threw it to the ground, leaving his dark blue hair tousled. His golden eyes were afire. He walked onto the set and tapped her on the shoulder. "You were this close to saving the scene!" He turned to Joren. "And what the hell do you think you're doing walking onto the set with that freaking James Bond attitude?"

Joren shrugged. "Hey, this script sucks. I ride in on that kick-ass bike-- sure. I like that. But this dialogue… Who the hell is the writer?"

Keladry reached for her belt and pulled out a script for the scene. "Um. Sulia Serafine." She gasped. "Oh no! Not her! No wonder this scene sucks! Do you remember what she did to us in 'A Life Less Ordinary'? I see why you were trying to liven it up, Joren." She crinkled her nose. "Does she ever write anything good? I mean, we had to die last time, and argue with each other for months during the making of the stupid show!"

He nodded. "Yeah, I know."

With their complaints properly vented, the three were left standing awkwardly in silence. The director sighed, rolled his eyes, and went back to his special folding chair while rubbing his temples. There was a distant call for aspirin by one of his assistants. The two actors watched as the set's crew went about them, tending to fix the scene over again. The extras chatted while they waited for the cue to start over.

The blonde cleared his throat. "What do you want to do now? Obviously, our director is going to need a few minutes to get his blood pressure back down."

"I don't know." She scratched the back of her neck. "I heard what's his name is going to sabotage another scene today."

"Oh, you mean that redhead? I don't remember the guy either. He's so weird. Where'd they dig him up for the part?"

She shrugged. They walked over to his area of the set and sat down in a chair. Instantly, a woman working for him offered a platter of sliced fruit. He took a few grapes. Keladry yawned while she stood. Her eyes roamed over the items on the makeshift dresser.

"Er…"

"What?" he asked with a little muffled sound. He held a green grape between his pearly white teeth.

"You have more hair products than I do."

(Episode 3: The First Mission; scene: the ferry across the Great Inland Sea)

She finished her lunch while reading up on the most dangerous areas of Carthak. Then she took his database with her when she went to change into some civilian clothes. Keladry hardly wore civilian clothes. Her whole life had been in uniform. This time, she inspected herself in the mirror with a disapproving look. The 1B officer wore a sleeveless blue shirt with a gray vest, then a pair of blue jeans and faded white sneakers. She fit her handgun into its holster under her thick vest, then slipped her collapsible energy glaive into her ankle brace.

"I look normal," she bit her lip. "So why does it feel so weird?" She rolled her eyes. " Oh, that's right. I'm not normal. That's why."

Then she put on her gloves and her wristband again. With a satisfied mind, she left the bathroom. She returned back to the passenger area. She spotted Joren at the same booth before and went to join him. Keladry froze just when she reached the table and stared wide-eyed at her partner.

He was dressed in a large yellow and blue Hawaiian shirt, long black basketball shorts, and a pair of worn K Swiss sneakers. There was restrained fury in his expression. She looked worriedly to the director, who was banging his head on the wall while his assistants ran around frantically. The camera continued to roll.

"Uh… where are your black clothes?" she asked with a squeak, no longer feeling like she could save the scene.

Joren drummed his fingers on the table. "I don't know." His jaw twitched. The vein on his neck stood out like it was about to burst. He continued to speak through gritted teeth. "When I get my hands on the wardrobe crew…" He turned his gaze off the set toward the racks of clothes.

Vinson, Alanna, and Cleon popped up from behind the racks, each holding some of Joren's black and red clothing. They burst into uncontrollable, sidesplitting laughter. Joren stood up immediately, moving toward them. Cleon grabbed his accomplices by the arms and dragged them behind him.

"Run! He's going to kill us!"

Alanna looked over her shoulder after they jumped a few boxes of props. There was a mad chase between them, Joren, and now the director and Keladry.

"Come back here SO I CAN RIP YOUR FUCKING HEADS OFF!" Joren shouted in his loudest, most threatening voice.

"Oh crap! He's gaining on us!" Vinson cried. And then he tripped. "NO!"

"Vin!" Alanna called.

Cleon grabbed her arm. "It's too late! Leave him!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" they heard their companion's scream behind them and shook off their fears to continue to run around the set.

"Come back here!" Joren yelled.

Alanna could no longer resist the urge. She twisted around while she ran and waved an article of his clothing up in the air. "Very interesting boxers, Stone! I didn't know you fancied targets so much!" She threw the boxers up in the air. Joren would have caught them if he weren't so focused on catching the perpetrators. Keladry and the director followed still.

And then Keladry's vision went dark. She frowned. Something had landed on her head. She pulled them off and turned beet red. It was his boxers.

(Episode 4: Back To School; scene: Academy courtyard)

Joren looked around him. "I'm in hell, I'm in hell, I'm in hell…"

"Hey!" she chided him. "Don't do that. I happen to love this place. Years after graduation people still talk about the academy in reverence and fondness. I know I do."

"Yeah, well it was hell for me," he replied.

"Would that be your problem with authority and all the instructors being around?" she asked casually.

"You could say that. Thank Heaven I passed the graduation tests without a problem and got out to Tusaine."

There was a sudden burst of laughter from a group of young men and women in the center of the courtyard. In the center, there were six benches set up in a circle around a pond. Trees shaded this favorite spot. Right then, cadets were laughing at someone's joke in the very center. A roasted chicken leg was flung up in the air. Another burst of laughter and there was a splash.

"This isn't happening," Joren said through gritted teeth. "Don't tell me that's--"

"Our rookie," Keladry finished. She grabbed Joren by the arm again and dragged him, unwillingly, forward to the group of cadets. As they saw the two officers approach, and being so young, they parted easily and let them through.

"What's all the commotion?" Keladry asked. She gasped when she saw.

A tall youth with sopping red hair was climbing out of the pond where he had fallen, most probably on purpose from the grins and winks he gave everyone. He laughed and was helped out by two male cadets that looked to be new at the academy. Then he shook his hair, which splattered drops of water onto everyone in the crowd.

"Hey! You guys must be those DJPF Officers who are training me out in the field! Sweet!" he whooped loudly. Then with the help of two students, he climbed atop the table, pointed to the two confused officers, and said "Behold! Those who dare to tame the wild Cleon Kennan, arch nemesis of all fried chicken!"

Joren leaned toward her and whispered. "On the count of three, we shoot him. Aim for the heart."

"Stone!" she scolded. He glared at her defiantly. Finally, she gave up and approached Cleon.

"And what may I do for the lady?" he asked with a wide grin. "Oh, wait! Let me clean up, and then I'll show you some of my talents in the shooting range. And then we can chat. I can tell you my academy experience and you can tell me about your record for training! Sound good?"

She stared at him. "You… you just killed half my lines, you dumb ass!"

"CUT!" the director yelled. "What is up with you people? Can't you do anything right?"

Keladry growled. "Do the stupid scene over. For crying out loud, Cleon, I'm tired of your behavior screwing up all our scenes! Everyone is!"

He smiled sheepishly.

Joren fidgeted impatiently. "Can I shoot him now?" He pointed an accusing finger at the redhead. "Come on! No one would miss him!"

"Unfortunately, he's popular with the TP Fangirls," the director explained sadly. "We can't shoot him, though tempting it may be."

There were cries of frustration from half the set.

"Hey!" Cleon objected.

"Oh, shut up, you," Joren hissed. "I'm out of here. Screw this."

"Wait! We need Joren! He's one of the main characters!" an assistant protested.

Joren stormed off, despite their pleadings for him to stay.

Keladry sat down in her chair and groaned. "I need some Advil™."

(Episode 5: Finding Thom; scene: hotel room)

TAKE 1:

The three DJPF officers gathered in Joren's hotel room to overlook their notes. He sorted through some papers on his teal covered bed while they looked on. "Okay, so far, we've talked to everyone in Corus. There is nothing mysterious around, nor is there anything that resembles anything associated with the missing person, Mr. Thom Trebond."

"There was that old lady at the antiques shop who claimed her son was Thom Trebond."

"Cleon…"

"Well, it's possible!"

"Get serious," Keladry said.

"Okay. So, we move on to Maren?" Cleon asked. He sat on down on the floor looking up at the two superior officers. "There's not much we can follow, you know? I mean, there are very few given facts about this man. One being--"

"He's an inventor. Technologically advanced areas are more likely to house him," Kel said while tapping her chin.

Joren pointed at another paper. "He hates extremely cold and extremely hot weather. We can go straight west without going north or south."

"And he's between the ages of 30 and 50 with violet hair and red eyes. Oh, this is just peachy," Cleon sighed with sarcasm. He paused. "Aww, crap. I screwed up the line, didn't I?"

"Red eyes would be kind of interesting," Keladry commented.

"At least he didn't screw up the scene on purpose this time," Joren muttered.

"Okay, okay," the director announced. "Joren starts with the weather line. We can change a camera angle so we don't have to go so far back."

TAKE 2:

Joren pointed at another paper. "He hates extremely cold and extremely hot weather. We can go straight west without going north or south."

"And he's between the ages of violet hair and red eyes--" Cleon froze. "Aww, man!"

Keladry sighed and shook her head.

An hour later, TAKE 34:

Joren stiffly pointed at another paper while trying to beat down his obvious resentment. "He hates extremely cold and extremely hot weather. We can go straight west without going north or south."

"And he's between the ages of 30 and 50 with red hair and violet eyes. Oh, this is just peachy," Cleon sighed with sarcasm. He fought to hide a smirk. "You know what? I'm going to bed. This is giving me a headache. He could have dyed his hair-- or even worse! Gotten colored contacts. So, we can't depend on physical descriptions, can we? Oh, man, my backache!"

"Cleon!" Keladry whined.

The director slumped further down into his chair. "He… he was so close. Until that very last line…"

A sudden smile graced Joren's features. "I have an idea."

TAKE 35:

Joren pointed at another paper. "He hates extremely cold and extremely hot weather. We can go straight west without going north or south."

"And he's between the ages of 30 and 50 with red hair and violet eyes. Oh, this is just peachy," Cleon sighed with sarcasm. He fought to hide a smirk. "You know what? I'm going to bed. This is giving me a headache. He could have dyed his hair-- or even worse! Gotten colored contacts. So, we can't depend on physical descriptions, can we? Oh, man, my headache!"

"I've had a headache this whole trip," Keladry said, but got up off the bed. She glanced at the clock. "It's late. We'll get some good night sleep. Tomorrow, we'll cross River Olorun to Maren."

"CUT! We got it!" the director brightly beamed. He pumped a fist in the air twice, then settled back down joyously on his chair. "Let's take five, eh?" There were loud cheers from the whole crew. He got up and approached the Keladry and Joren while Cleon left to get a drink of water. "How in the world did you get him to say it right?"

Keladry chuckled. "Did you see a change in Joren's stage position?"

He blinked. "Er, he was standing next to you, like last time, right?"

She shook her head. "No, he was standing next to Cleon."

Joren offered no words. He just looked smug in his self-satisfaction.

"So, what did he do?"

"Why, point a gun at Cleon's back. "

(Episode 6: Sleeping On the Job; scene: classroom at the Academy)

"What are the chances that they'll be in the classrooms?" Keladry asked herself as she opened the door to the only unlocked room. She moved the desks together to form a hard, flat bed three feet off the ground. Then she lied down atop of it. It was tough adjusting to the stiffness, but she put most of herself on top of her large pillow.

Keladry smiled in contentment and closed her eyes. "Finally."

Drip. Drop.

She opened one eye and looked around. Then she closed it again.

Drip. Drop.

"Oh, this isn't funny…" she groaned.

Drip. Drop.

She got off her makeshift bed and looked around the room frantically for a pipe. There had to be a leak somewhere in the room. She turned on the light to the classroom briefly. Finding none, she turned off the light again. Then, she went back to the desks and tried to fall asleep again. Keladry closed her eyes tightly. "Please, please."

Silence.

Thud.

"OW!" Keladry cried out as she fell off the desks. She grumbled to herself as she stood up and brushed herself off. She gingerly touched her behind and winced. Her face flushed in embarrassment.

Off set, Owen and Neal started cracking up.

"Could someone get them out of here?" she yelled.

(Episode 7: Stop, Thief! scene: late at night or early morning, Rogue Bay)

Back in the garage, Cleon and Joren sat on the ground facing each other. They had temporarily forgotten their dislike for each other. With flecks of insanity in their eyes, they eagerly began to map out a plan to get their prized possessions back. Just as Cleon started to make of list of ways to torture the thieves, they heard a scream.

"That's Keladry!" Cleon gasped. The two men sprung to their feet and raced over to their partner's room. The door was wide open, and there she was, holding one of her duffel bags open, gasping.

She looked up when they came in and pointed angrily to the bag. For a few moments, she was speechless-- closing and opening her mouth with no sounds coming out. Finally, she shook her head and raised her hand.

"Do I really have to say this next line?"

The director's eye twitched. "Yes. It's in the script."

Joren and Cleon gave Keladry questioning looks. She straightened herself indignantly. "Well, what would you do if your lines were to scream out that some pervert stole your underwear?"

The rookie officer snapped his fingers. "Oh, so you're at a loss of motivation for the line! Easy, just focus your anger about the pervert toward someone."

She stared at him in a mixture of disbelief of his dumb suggestion and confusion on what he truly meant.

"I know! Let's pretend that Joren stole your underwear! And I bet he did--" here he began to gag because the blonde's hands were closed about his neck, strangling him until his face turned blue.

"I know, Kennan!" Joren said, mimicking Cleon's singsong voice. "How about we strike a deal? You stop with the smart ass remarks and practical jokes, I don't maim you."

There was a gurgle. He accepted it for a yes and let go. Air rushed into Cleon's lungs. He coughed, then began to speak. "You… you wouldn't really do that would you?"

Joren chuckled deep in his throat, making him seem demonic in the lighting the crew was resetting. He leaned toward the other actor and grinned. "Sleep with one eye open, dead boy."

Keladry and the director exchanged knowing looks.

(Episode 8: Now, What?; scene: hotel in Rogue Bay)

"I'm sincerely sorry for this."

Keladry opened her eyes. She gasped as she felt the barrel of her own gun pressed to the side of her head. Faleron stood holding the weapon with his hands, which were still cuffed. His expression was serious, and a little sad. "Would you please put the keys to the cuffs on the floor and kick them to Wilson?"

She looked over at the other three men. They sat quietly on the floor, waiting for her. She couldn't believe how careless she had been for allowing herself to sleep. And she didn't even have a good dream-- just a nightmare of memories. Keladry looked back to Faleron. "You won't shoot me. You're bluffing."

His sadness became more abundant in his eyes. He sighed and said in a small voice nothing like his usual, "Officer, did you ever hear the phrase…" he paused. "That oh-so-familiar phrase… with such… enlightenment…yeah, uh…"

There was a brief moment of quiet before Keladry started smiling. "Ah, that oh so familiar phrase. Yes, I know what you're talking about. Can you tell me what that phrase is, oh dear captor?"

The gun lowered an inch when his hand drooped. "Uh, yes. Yes, I can tell you what it is."

"Then what is it."

He gulped nervously. "Give me a second. Oh! It's desperation… um, desperation…. No, wait." The young thief turned to a handcuffed man sitting on the floor. "Er, Wilson? Do you know that phrase I'm talking about? And while you're at it, go ahead and save us some time. Get these cuffs off of me."

Out of the camera's vision range, a certain golden eyed young man with a megaphone and a folding chair marked director flipped through a script. His many assistants did the same.

As Wilson undid the cuffs, Keladry began observing the plaster ceiling above her head. Faleron coughed to call her attention. He began his attempt to remember the phrase again. "Darn it! I know this phrase!"

She grinned and nodded her head vigorously. "Yeah, you'd better know this phrase!"

"It's a phrase of great wisdom!"

"Oh, yeah!"

"And… and a fact of life!"

She sat back in her chair and put her feet up on the bed, ankle crossed over ankle. "You preach it, man!"

"And… oh, I give up! Trash the freaking scene!" he threw his hands up in the air. "This has never happened to me before! In all the roles I've ever played, I've been the best! After all, I'm Faleron King, aren't I? Charismatic and clever little thief of everyone's hearts?" He pounded his left fist into his right palm. "This is all Numair's fault! He had to insist that I go to the bar with him and the other guys last night… and now I can't even remember my own lines!"

Keladry got up from her seat and patted him comfortingly on the shoulder. "Hey, you now officially hold the record for longest attempt to save a scene. And it's a refreshing change compared to Cleon screwing up every take. I think he's learned his lesson though. Especially after Joren's threat."

"Oh, him. Yes, I've never met an actor quite like him before. Very… animated, among other things…"

"You're being too kind."

"Hey!" Cleon shouted from across the set. "That's not funny!"

Faleron and Keladry started to snicker.

The redhead folded his arms across his chest and said smugly, "And by the way, your phrase was 'desperate people will do desperate things'."

"Learn from personal experience, Kennan?" Faleron asked teasingly.

"Aww, shut up." He hesitated. "So what if I did?"

(Episode 9: Revealing the Truth; scene: hotel in Rogue Bay)

Faleron nodded and ate another spoonful of his sugarcoated cereal. Cleon sat beside him, downing a tall glass of milk while casting long glances at him. Faleron was doing much better that day. As Keladry observed before, it was a shallow wound and wouldn't even hinder him by next week or so. He was much friendlier with everyone since he'd been shot and since Joren informed everyone about his past. Still, he acted with that invincible confidence that Keladry coveted.

"What is that stuff?" Cleon pointed to Faleron's cereal.

"Marshmallows. Lucky Charms™ to be precise with some powdered sugar I added myself. They are very tasty. Care for any, Mr. Kennan?"

"Sure--" he started to reply. The director gave him the evil eye. Cleon pouted and shook his head. "Uh, no. I'm fine with what I have." He angrily stabbed at his eggs again. Another of his chances to ruin the scene foiled. "You know, for a guy who talks like a dignitary of Mithros, you have some weird food preferences for sugar."

"And some weird career choices," Keladry added.

At that very moment, the table with all their food on it broke in half. All the food fell onto the floor in a big messy pile. Dishes and glasses broke instantly, or made clattering noise as they hit the floor. The cast blankly stared at the two halves of the table.

"Er… weak props," Faleron commented. "Does this happen often?"

"Somebody clean this up!" the director yelled impatiently.

In the meantime, the cast decided to have fun with the camera while the cameraman was away.

"Wow… is my butt really that big?" Cleon half grinned-half snickered as he showed his posterior to the camera. They hooked it up to a television and wheeled it around front so he could see. "Wow! My butt's huge! It's gigantic!"

Faleron, sitting at his dressing table a few feet away, burst into uncontrollable laughter. Cleon moved a little too far back and bumped the camera. All of them started cracking up.

"You're gonna break it! Cleon, move your butt! It's my turn!" Lalasa exclaimed.

He pointed at her. "Hey! You're not in here until the last part of the episode."

She smirked. "I know." She began doing a series of super model poses for the camera. She puckered her lips and maid a come-hither gesture with her hands to the camera. "I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeVille…"

Joren rolled his eyes. "God help me, I'm stuck with a bunch of idiots." He glanced around to see if anyone was looking. Then he picked up the cereal box of Lucky Charms ™ and grinned.

(Episode 10: One Last Nutcase Arrives; scene: mayor's place in Copper)

The clouds passed over the moon. The trees cast long shadows over the dewy lawn as the two dark figures traipsed along a path through the woods surrounding the property. They stopped outside the black iron fence with pointed spire-like points at intervals. One of them reached into a black bag and pulled out a long metal clamp connected to a box in the bag. Then, this person clipped it onto one of the iron bars with a point on top. The other person took another metal clamp connected to the box and attached it to the next iron bar with a point. Then the first flipped a switch on the box.

If a person had looked out the window from the mansion facing the West, he or she would have seen a bright spark flash within a half-second. The dismantling of electrical sensors in the fence was complete. The first one took the clamps off, stuffed them back into the black bag, and slung it over their shoulder. Then the two climbed the fence in that spot, careful not to make one noise.

A ripping noise sounded from the second person. Their pants had caught on a spire. A foot slipped--

"Gggaahhh!" Keladry cried out as her center of balance toppled over. She swung into an upside-down position, her back slamming against the rest of the fence. The only thing holding her up was the bottom of her pants caught on the spire. Joren let go of the fence and landed on the ground, in a crouching position. He stood up and faced her.

"I told him to give you a stunt double."

She moved her hood out of the way. Her face was red. "Just shut up and get me down!"

He regarded her for a few moments.

"What are you waiting for?" the director called out. "Get her down so we can do the scene over again!"

"Can't we just leave her here a bit longer? Torture is fun."

"All the blood is rushing to my head, jerk!"

He simply stood there.

The director cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, "Paycheck, Stone, paycheck!"

Joren rolled his eyes. "Oh, all right."

(Episode 11: I'm Not A Criminal! ; scene: resting station)

Keladry got up and walked to the edge of the sidewalk. There was some commotion going on behind her. She could hear the banging noises like someone was kicking glass and plastic. Cleon was shouting at a vending machine while Faleron leaned on it, munching on a large pretzel. Finally, he gave up. The redhead now started to punch the coin return button repetitiously.

"Hey, Officer," Faleron said after swallowing a bit of his food. He jerked a thumb toward his friend. "As you can see, Cleon just got into a fight with a pile of metal and plastic and lost.

"That's so not fair! I want my money back!"

Faleron generously held out his hand. "You can have a piece of my pretzel. It's very tasty."

"I don't want your stupid pretzel."

"Come now, I'll have you know that pretzels have an I. Q. of 1.00134--"

"Oh, shut up, Fal!"

Faleron grinned. He began eating his pretzel again. Cleon's face was nearly as red as his hair, from all the physical exertion of kicking the vending machine and the embarrassment the thief was giving him. Keladry narrowed her eyes at Faleron, who only grinned wider.

"Stop teasing him," she reprimanded.

"I don't need you to stand up for me!" Cleon sat down on the ground with his legs crossed and folded. He tucked his hands near under his armpits and pouted. Faleron burst into a fit of laughter and took his hat from the redhead. He spun it around on one hand while stuffing the last of his food in his mouth. "Aww, look at this! Hat hair?"

"Yeah, hats are capable of doing that to you."

"It's just your stupid hat, not me."

Faleron's eye twitched. "Oh, so my hat's not good enough for you, pal? Is that it?"

Keladry blanched. She thought to herself, "Oh, no. He's following in Cleon's footsteps. There goes the scene…"

The other did nothing to help. In fact, Cleon went a little too far. He shoved his fellow man by the shoulders roughly, causing Faleron to stumble back a couple of steps.

"You heard me, Thief. Your hat sucks."

"This can't be good," she thought to herself.

Faleron shoved back. "I dare you to say that one more time."

The taller one smirked and leaned forward so that their noses almost touched. He folded his arms across his chest, glaring defiantly at Faleron with a twinkle in his eye. "Your hat can kiss… my…"

An hour later, the director returned from his emergency meeting with the producers. There had been limited time for filming, so he insisted that the crew carry on without him. After all, his assistant directors were competent enough. They all were filled to the brink with qualifications for the jobs. Why couldn't he leave them in charge? Although, it was against protocol, he left. And things couldn't be any different, could they?

The set was wrecked.

He dropped his bag of glazed donuts to the floor as a timid man with a headset cowered in front of him, rambling incoherently as he tried to explain the course of events that took place in the director's absence. His words only penetrated skin deep. The dark blue-haired young man could only stare in disbelief at the mess before him.

In the background, the sound of feet dragging through trash reached his ears. He turned around. Two cameramen and a costume lady trembled. They anticipated the worst.

"What the hell happened?" he bellowed.

The timid man twiddled his thumbs. "After Mr. Kennan and Mr. King knocked over the set walls, it created a domino effect with the equipment all around the studio."

"Domino effect?"

"Of course, that was before the catering people accidentally got in the way. Remember? There was to be a celebration in the so far success in the series? Well, the cake flew up in the air from the impact of the prop boy's fall. I'm sure Mr. Kennan didn't mean to barrel into him and send him straight at the caterer."

"Cake?"

His nasal voice rose a pitch. "Wait, wait, I think that was after Mr. Stone had arrived from his trailer and got hit in the chest with one of the breakfast props. He became quite angry." There was a thoughtful pause. "I was sure that his weapon props were not allowed to be loaded. I guess I was wrong."

The director's head bowed his chin on his chest. He emitted a small nearly inaudible sniffling sound.

"Why me?"

(Episode 12: How To Make Money When You're On The Run; scene: hotel in Tyra)

"Typical," she chuckled inwardly and walked to the bathroom door. She knocked on it softly, since she could no longer hear running water of the shower. "Hey, Cleon! Please tell me you're done. I'd like some hot water."

She got no response. Of course, just to annoy her some more… Keladry decided to trudge back to her room when the bathroom door opened. Joren stepped out, a white towel wrapped around his narrow hips. His hair and body were still glistening with water from the shower. It turned out that he was pretty lean. His muscles were taut, as if just waiting for the opportunity to be used in action. She gulped and turned her back to him.

"Uh, sorry. I thought you were Kennan."

He raised one eyebrow suspiciously. "Right. Sure. Could you hand me my pants?"

She obligingly picked them up and tried to keep her eyes looking at anything but him. The flushed officer held her arm straight out. Joren took the article of clothing from her, noticing her discomfort.

"Where is everybody?" he asked, stalling for time. She was squirming in anxiety. And he was amused by it.

"Out," she squeaked. If only she could crawl into a hole and die…

He nodded. As he shifted around to shuffle back into the bathroom, a long wire with a tiny hook at the end extended from offstage and snagged the corner of his towel. It slipped down his hips.

"Oh shit!" he cursed, grabbing the towel edges as fast as possible and hauling them higher up over his nether regions. The hook continued to tug at the towel. It was determined to rid Joren of it. Keladry gasped and turned bright red. She put her hands over her mouth to stifle her laughter and scurried a few feet off while Joren began a vicious tug of war with the hook and wire while wearing nothing more than a pair of gray boxer briefs and half of the towel.

"What the fuck!" Joren yelled. "Who the hell is that?! Security! Get the hell over here before I--"

Offset, the director leapt up from his chair. "Do something, you idiots!"

The set crew was sent into a flurry of motion. The cameramen shamelessly caught the whole incident on camera. Keladry tried hard not to look anywhere but up at the studio ceiling. The female set crew gawked at Joren. And the rest of the cast stood by, trying not to laugh. If they did, they were sure to be injured by a furious costar later.

The towel ripped straight down the middle. The half-naked blonde stumbled back a bit. He held a torn half of the white towel in his hands, a perplexed expression adorning on his face. The confusion quickly turned to malice. He stalked forward into the shadows behind the set wall and yanked a young teenage girl into the spotlight.

Silence.

"You! You're that… that stalker fangirl from Fanfiction.net!" Joren seethed.

"They call me Jaelawyn Noble," she smiled deviously. "Now, Joren, hon, we need to get you a bad ass tatoo. How do you feel about getting a piercing? I mean, at least one or two. Maybe other places as well…" Her eyes lowered dangerously to other areas, scanning his hard torso and muscled thighs. She made a dim sound of appreciation.

"You perverted little--"

The director threw down his megaphone and stomped over to where they were. "And who gave you permission to come here? Huh?" He looked around quickly and then stared back at her. "Because I sure as hell don't know who!"

Jaelawyn played idly with the long wire and hook still in her possession. "Sulia said I could drop by if I wanted. She owed me."

Joren, still clad in boxer briefs and wet from his 'shower', began to crack his knuckles. "And I owe you something…"

"Sulia also said that if anything happened to me, she was going to ban a certain dark blue haired, golden eyed person from getting their precious hot dogs.

"The director held up his hands. "Stop."

"Why?" the actor asked dubiously.

The director gulped. "Just… just stop." He sucked in a nervous breath of air. "She threatened the hot dogs. We must stop."

Silence prevailed again.

Jaelawyn patted the director on the head, started whistling, and sat down in his chair. Joren punched the wall, which immediately became a small crater. Now the group of female observers had grown, whispering among themselves and giggling. Cleon, Faleron, and Roald were writing down reminders to themselves to buy boxer briefs. And Keladry stood at the edge of the set, trying not to notice Joren's choice of clothing, or lack thereof.

The intruding visitor beckoned for Keladry to talk with her. She nudged the taller girl. "Well, we've answered the question: boxers or briefs. Now to answer… Hanes? Fruit of the Loom? The Walmart brand?"

"Walmart has a brand?" Cleon called from the background.

Keladry shook her head. "No, no, no. Er… definite no. Don't look at me like that!"

"Okay, okay!" she held her hands up. "Well then… what about size…?"

Joren madly went through his offstage clothing, intent on finding his gun.

(Episode 13: Kidnapped!; scene: hotel in Tyra)

Somewhere past midnight, Keladry woke up. She turned onto her side and noticed that Lalasa was sitting upright in her bed with the covers pulled tightly around her like a cloak. She rubbed her eyes and yawned. "Lalasa, what's wrong? Did you have a bad dream?"

Faleron blinked. He twisted around and faced her in the darkness. "It's me, Kel. Lalasa isn't here."

She was now completely awake. Keladry squinted. The street lamps outside her window hardly provided enough light to see anything with. "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were…"

"I know," he nodded. He gestured to the wall in between their room and the other room. "I woke up because I couldn't hear Roald anymore. I think he finally fell asleep. Poor guy. He's really sweet on her."

Keladry sat up and leaned against the headboard. "Yeah. They've gotten close."

He suddenly turned to her and swung his legs over the edge of his bed. "Have you ever had a boyfriend?"

"Oh yeah," she said, not missing a beat. "There was Alfred, then Michael, then this guy named Robert, or was it Ross? Oh, doesn't matter. They all had an affinity for Motel 6's anyway."

Faleron tried to keep a straight face. Though his poker face was exceptional, he eventually gave out. He fell backwards on his bed, laughing his head off. His fist pounded on the mattress- so consumed by humor was he. Keladry tapped her chin in soundless contemplation. She gasped.

"Wait, wait! That was just Tortal! Wait until I tell you about my weekend trips to Carthak."

He started snort-laughing while burying his head in the pillows.

Offstage, the director gazed blankly at her. He commented to one of his many assistants, "They've finally cracked her, too, haven't they?" His lip quivered. "That's it! We're doomed!"

In the background, Joren screamed bloody murder. "SHE'S BACK AGAIN! WHERE THE HELL IS MY GUN?!"

(Episode 14: Race For Your Lives; scene: bike dealership in Galla)

"Get on."

She blinked. "What?"

"I said 'get on'. Are you deaf?" he gave her a once over. "You said you wanted to go for a ride, right? So, let's go. The Black Knight wasn't really meant to seat two, but you'll be fine." He pointed over her shoulder. "The back door to the dealership is always unlocked. Go in and borrow a spare helmet."

She eyed him distrustfully. She couldn't believe this was happening. "You're not going to leave while I'm getting it, are you?"

"I'm offended," he said, imitating Faleron. It was unreal the way Joren was acting. He seemed almost happy. Keladry did as she was instructed. Within a few seconds, she came back with a red helmet. He nodded approvingly and gestured for her to get on the bike. Cautiously, she lifted one leg and swung it over the seat. He turned to look at her.

"Put on your helmet. You're the one always being a safety freak," he said while putting on his own helmet. Keladry remembered back when she rode her own motorcycle during the first mission. Once again, she had to get used to the helmet. When he saw she was ready, he continued. "Hold on to my waist… unless you want to fall off."

She would have glared at him, but he probably wouldn't have seen it through the helmet. Keladry hesitantly encircled his waist with her arms. She thought to herself about the situation. And she realized that she had never seen anyone ride with Joren on his bike. Did that mean she was the first? It wasn't a big deal, but at that moment, it felt good. She smiled.

"Uh, Mindelan."

"Huh?" she snapped out of her reverie.

"You can let go now. It's time to switch scenes."

She blinked. "Oops. Sorry!"

Three voices started to tune up offstage. Cleon, Faleron, and Neal surprisingly began to sing.

"Joren and Keladry sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…"

Joren's eye twitched.

"First comes love…"

The sound of a gun being cocked.

"Then comes marriage…"

He aimed at the middle man, his finger tightening on the trigger.

"The comes Joren in a baby ca--"

The shot went right between Cleon's legs. All three men looked down to where the bullet was buried in the concrete floor. Their faces became pasty white. Joren got off the bike, blowing the whiff of smoke from the barrel of his handgun. Keladry yawned and stretched.

"You should know better by now not to make him testy," she said.

"Two inches up, and do you know where that shot would have gone, Kennan?"

The redhead coughed. "Something tells me I don't want to know…"

(Episode 15: Cleon, My Hero; scene: Scanra)

Keladry glanced briefly out the window at Joren on his bike, completely enveloped in his own thoughts. She wondered fleetingly if he even cared about what happened-- if he even acknowledged the ephemeral passage in time when he was human. Flesh and blood. And tears.

"It was all a mistake. I was kind of shook up… My head was messed up. I did something I shouldn't have. Sorry if I led you on or anything…"

"JOREN, YOU ASSHOLE!"

Everyone turned to stare at her.

She gulped. "Did I say that out loud?"

"CUT!"

Lalasa rolled her eyes. "Let me guess. You couldn't remember your next action, so you just improvised."

"Er… a little…"

(Episode 16: The Lioness Returns; scene: car chase with Alanna, Joren, and Kel in Tyra)

"We've got to lose her!" she screamed above the loud engine, her hair whipping around her face.

He nodded and motioned again to the compartment. This time, she had to reach farther to feel anything in the tiny enclosure. Then, she felt a round metal sphere in her palm. She withdrew her hand and looked at it.

"Just throw it!" he yelled. With one hand around his waist, she twisted around and flung it at the windshield of Alanna's squad car. It bounced off the car and hit the paved street.

"CUT! RESHOOT!" the directory bellowed.

Joren brought the bike to a stop, putting his feet on the ground. "Oh, don't tell me the stupid thing was a dud!"

Keladry sighed. "We have to go all the way back and shoot from there?"

"It was a continuous shot from when we got separated from the rest of them," her costar pointed out.

She growled. "I wish we could just get this over with!" A pause. "Not that I don't want to be here stuck with you, no, not at all. Really, you can be good company when you're not being a jerk."

He frowned. They headed back to the starting point. "By the way, you can be non-annoying as well. When you're not acting like a typical female."

"Thanks for the compliment," she replied sarcastically. "I knew men were worse at compliments, but you…"

(Episode 17: Home, Sweet Home; scene: breaking into the Presidential mansion)

They opened the door and Cleon, forgetting their need to be stealthy, ran in with Faleron trailing behind. A girl, or rather young woman, with dark wavy hair cut to her neck was standing beside her bed. She was clad in only an orange leotard with black spots and her pantyhose rolled up halfway. She shrieked and slapped Cleon, but missed Faleron.

"I'm so sorry! I thought this room was--"

*slap*

"Ow!"

*slap*

"Ow! Stop that!"

"Help! Someone!" the young woman screamed. "PERVERTS!"

*slap*

"We're so sorry! I swear, I didn't see anything!" Cleon pleaded with the young woman to stop her panicked noise. Faleron ran past both of them to the next door. He frantically began to pick the lock while more slaps could be heard in the background. The girl was clinging to a pillow to cover herself, though by Cleon's opinion, she was not nude. Still, she continued to scream hysterically.

"Let's go!"

*slap*

"Aww, come on! Give me a break, lady!"

"HELP!"

"CUT!" he yelled. The director frowned.

"What? Why'd you stop? That was perfect!"

The infuriated redhead stormed up to his superior and glared at him. "Why does my character take all the hits?"

"Because he's the main comedic relief."

Cleon took a deep breath. He looked naturally hurt. "Did it ever," he paused to sniffle. "Occur to you people that I might want a decent part. I mean, look at Keladry and Joren. They get some of the most developed monologues and one liners that you could ever see. The characters are so… serious and focused! My character? He doesn't know anything!"

Everyone stared at him.

"Is it wrong to want to be like the Professor from Gilligan's Island? Can't I get a part with some brains in it like that?"

Faleron raised his hand. "I thought that was my part."

"Than what am I?" Cleon sobbed.

"Gilligan, I guess."

"But… But.."

"Sorry, chap. Now," his companion turned to the random girl. "Please continue to slap him. Then we'll be on our way."

"Oh, what a world!" Cleon cried.

(Episode 18: The Enemy of My Enemy; scene: presidential mansion, hostage room-- ballroom)

Vinson sighed. "I find that I can't deny you, love." He signaled to his men. "All right. Let them go. Fetch that wretched statue out in the main hall and bring it here. We can lop off its head and have a game of bowling, eh?"

The other men laughed automatically, even if the sentence was not humorous. Lalasa let out a relieved breath. Behind the glass, Jonathan decided there was nothing more he could do there. The best hope he possessed was to use the secret passages between the walls to get to the laboratory underneath the estate and protect the Immortals from Ozorne.

"May I have a kiss, my love?" Vinson leered at her. She paled.

"Uh… not on the first date, no way," she shook her head while forcing herself to giggle like a hysterical idiot.

He raised one eyebrow. "I'll have to kill a guard out of boredom…"

Lalasa could have cried. She hesitantly offered her cheek to him. He wrapped one arm around her waist. Instead of pecking her on the cheek, he forced his lips against hers.

A few moments passed.

The director cleared his throat. "Lalasa, you're supposed to be disgusted." He waited a few seconds. "Lalasa?"

One of his assistants tapped his shoulder. "I don't believe they've come up for air yet."

"You're supposed to hate this!"

The Carthakian woman finally broke away, breathing hard. Vinson, satisfied with himself, stood back and whistled while she approached the director.

"What on earth was that? You were supposed to hold him in contempt!"

She grimaced. "But he kisses SO much better than that Roald guy you hired…"

(Episode 19: The Fall Of A Villain; scene: water room in presidential estate)

Faleron limped sluggishly toward the door again. His ankle still hurt, but he'd have to ignore it if he wanted to live. The water was coming down so fast; it already reached halfway up his calf. Roald was crying out random phrases of bewilderment, turning around and around in the middle. At the same time, he searched with his eyes to find the source for the water of each hole. He saw nothing past the most common liquid of nature.

"Kennan. Do something," Faleron shouted as if his friend truly had the power to make the scene go away.

"I'm trying!" the sharpshooter snapped back, not liking the pressure he was given.

"Guys!" Roald shouted with a squeak at the end of the word. The vice president's son shook his head. He cleared his throat and called again. The incessant sound of water rushing around him and splashing him as it poured down made it hard for him to be heard by them.

Cleon now put his feet on each side of the lever. He crouched down, grabbed hold and braced himself for pulling. He gritted his teeth. "I can't get it to move!"

"Guys!" Roald yelled again. Faleron turned around to face him. There was a rare expression of anxiety present on the usually calm and collected face.

"We're working on it. Don't get hysterical!" In truth, he was telling himself not to become hysterical.

More cursing came from the dryer side of the door. "It's still not moving!"

Faleron started to shiver as the cold water level advanced to his waist. He grabbed onto the iron bars and yanked on them in desperation. He examined every little bit of the door's tiny window. His mind analyzed the situation within a split second. And it came to him. The room was only seven feet wide. The hole was not that far from the door. "Roald! Get over here!"

The water stopped.

"What the… hey! Is something wrong with the waterworks?" the director called form the semi-dry nook in the wall made especially for the filming crew.

Faleron and Roald stood waist deep in the still water, waiting patiently for the flooding to resume. Three bubbles suddenly floated to the surface and popped. They made a strange sound.

"Eww… My good fellow, did you just f--"

"Now! That was you! Yuck!"

"No, it wasn't…"

"Yes it was…"

A worse smell drifted over from the door. They both wrinkled their noses.

"CLEON!"

Episode 20: Miserable Victory or Sweet Defeat?; scene: underground lab)

Keladry peered at her questioningly. "Is something wrong? Does it have to do with that jerk?"

Alanna sighed. She folded her arms, staring down at the scuff on her boot. "It does," she admitted. "Your partner…"

The young woman before her rolled her eyes, letting her mask of emotions fall as she had let it do all day. "I can just guess. It was a big, manly, testosterone-filled battle and he was showing off. I see that would account for Ozorne and Vinson." She reluctantly stopped smirking. "Right?"

"You're close," Alanna said. She met her eyes with an apology already in them. "Ozorne was dead when Thom and I got here. Then it was just Jon, Thom, and I. Roger and Stone came down the stairs. I supposed Stone meant to fake an alliance with Roger for the time being. Vinson came down, trying to kill Jon. Stone shot Vinson. And then…" She trailed off faintly.

"And then what?" Keladry stared with unblinking eyes.

"Roger shot him."

A few seconds of silence seemed like hours to the retired DJPF AA officer. She never had to confront people before and tell them that a certain person was dead. She'd seen it though. Sometimes, officers she'd worked with had been forced to knock on the doors of civilians to tell them that their loved one had been killed.

Whether or not Joren Stone was considered a 'loved one' did not particularly matter. It was the fact that he was a person that they knew. That Keladry knew. That Faleron and Cleon and Roald knew. That Lalasa and Thom knew. He could have been standing right next to them at that very moment. But he wasn't.

Keladry jumped for joy. "YES!"

Alanna blinked. "Eh?"

"CUT! Mindelan, what is wrong with you? You're supposed to be sad!"

The young woman in question calmed down. She puts her hands on her hips. "You mean to tell me after all the things my character has gone through because of her partner that she's sad at his death? I mean, she doesn't even get back at him before the season ends! I mean, he kisses her, breaks her heart a little, and she has to keep it to herself. She can't put up with the fact that she's shut out her spare time… Why would she be so weak?"

"Because Ms. Serafine is giving her the time of her life in season 2," the director grated.

Keladry blinked. "Oh. Uh, okay. Sorry. I'll start again."

Offstage, Joren glared at her.

(Episode 21: And You Call This Justice?; scene: DJPF Headquarters Garage)

He kissed her.

With his face tilted to the right, he gently leaned in and softly brushed his lips to hers. If Keladry had ever gone on a first date, she imagined this was what the kiss was properly supposed to be like. Sweet, unimposing, and short. It was nothing like the passion he'd shown her that fateful day in Galla when he poured out his heart to her in his attempt to grasp something alive and human within himself.

There was no passion, no feeling in here.

She pulled away, swallowing nervously. Her eyes darted all around, hoping for anyone at all to walk in. She turned her head and looked into the elevator. It was empty. She cursed silently. Joren removed one hand from his pocket and cupped a side of her face. His hands were warm for once. She reveled in the feeling because it paralleled the sensation of his kiss.

"I'm only going to say this once, so you'd better appreciate it and not tell anyone else," he said to her calmly.

"Yeah?"

He paused. Then he leaned forward again so that their mouths were an inch apart. With all the quietness he could muster, he whispered to her, "Thank you."

He kissed her again. And this time, he blew her mind away.

The texture of his lips was so unbelievable. He didn't press in as urgently and desperately as he had when tears had dripped from his cheeks. The urgency was replaced with a patient passion that welled up from within. The hand cupping her face moved to caress her shoulders and slide its way to her back. The other hand found its way out of his pocket and encircled her waist possessively, pulling her closer to him than before with her back still against the elevator shaft.

They caught a brief breath of air, then their lips met again and again and again. He spared her nothing.

Keladry couldn't bring herself to believe everything that was happening. Joren Stone was kissing her on his own free will, with no emotional baggage to make him impulsively do it. He was making her tingle all over. Her head was dizzy, like champagne bubbles were popping in her head. She was drunk on the feeling.

His embrace tightened. Having had no idea what to do, her hands had rested on his chest. No, they moved to encircle his neck, then tangle in his hair. She still had no idea what was wrong with him, but for once, she was just going to relax and enjoy it. With all her luck, she'd never get kissed ever again. So why not savor the moment, though false it may be?

His lips kissed a trail along her jawbone, then down her neck. By Glory, she wondered what he was doing. He unwound the scarf from around her neck and kissed the soft skin there. His hands traced patterns on her lower back. She shivered when his fingertips ran up and down her spine.

"Joren," she breathed. He silenced her again with another mind scrambling kiss. His tongue started to outline her lips. She briefly thought of movies and books where the men had used tongued the women. Keladry had always thought it vulgar and unrealistic. Most couples she knew existed just barely parted their lips let alone swap their spit. Not that she'd watched, but still. She could tell. Joren didn't do that. He mere outlined her soft pink lips and withdrew again to wet his.

It went on for so long. It had to be a dream. Nothing like this could ever happen to her. She was First Class Officer Keladry Mindelan. She didn't even have time for her family, let alone a love life. So how did she end up here? Why was she here? Couldn't she be in her dorm room, watching the latest in Tortall news?

Minutes passed.

Someone coughed in the background.

Cleon and Faleron joined the director, watching the filming scene. The redhead leaned towards the weary director and whispered, "How long has this scene been going on?"

The director looked at his watch. "Twenty minutes."

Cleon rolled his eyes. He turned to the set. Then he cupped his hands around his mouth. "GET A ROOM!"

At once, everyone started cracking up. Faleron pounded Cleon on the shoulder for interrupting the filming. The director actually smiled, his tension lifted somewhat. Their faces both slightly flushed, Joren and Keladry separated. And then something else unbelievable happened. Joren scooped Keladry up in his arms.

"You know, that sounds like a good idea. See you in the morning!"

"What the-- hey, put me down!"

"You really want me to put you down?" he asked.

Faleron snickered. "Look at her! She doesn't…"

"Oh shut up, you!" she yelled back.

The director shook his head. "We still have to finish the scene people…"

"Then you can go check out Motel 6," Cleon winked.

"Damn you, Kennan," Keladry growled.

~~

The director, carrying the last episode to the producer and writer, was dead on his feet. His normal long white coat seemed heavier than ever, not to mention his usual boots. Sometimes, being an anime character sucked. The wardrobe was always extremely elaborate. Something in the back of his mind told him that he wouldn't be so tired if he had not taken the directing job, but she had asked. He always said yes to whatever she asked.

He knocked on the door.

"Come in."

He twisted the doorknob and entered. "Hello, Sulia."

"Oh, hey, Legato. Are you done?"

The tall golden eyed man nodded morosely and sat down on her sofa. She continued to sit and type at her computer. Sulia glanced at him out of the corner of her eye.

"Was it really that bad?"

"With actors like those, and luck like mine? I think that's a big HELL YEAH," he grumbled.

"Aww, poor Lego. Well, now that you're done, you can go back to your Japanese Anime, you handsome villain you."

He nodded. "Here's the last episode." He handed it to her, then laid down on his side on the sofa, pulling his knees in toward his chest. "Now, blessed sleep."

She smiled. "Sacred rest for all of us, hmm?"

Legato couldn't answer her. He was already out like a light.

~~

Author: I didn't think bloopers would take me so long. Ah, well. I'm finally going on vacation! I'm going to rectify my forgotten website and fix it up with a whole new Tortall section. And I'm going to post all the fanart I've made for it. Then I'm going to finish ALL the fanfics I've abandoned because of this one. (I guess that makes my vacation from ICBW about three weeks. Or more.)

I appreciate everyone's reviews. Really, there's nothing better for me than that. I'm sorry about all the tiny glitches. When I put this up on my site, every single spelling or grammar, or even story error will be fixed. I'm a perfectionist, after all.

When I finally post the first episode, it's going to read ICBW Season 2 by Sulia Serafine and archived as a whole new fic. We'll be starting reviews from zero. Wow. When was the last time that I did that? Start a new fic, that is.

I don't know what else to say. Legato-- my muse, director, and koibito-- and I want to wish everyone the best. And… I hope we'll see you soon. Take care.

Credits:

All © copyrighted objects and products that have been mentioned here do not belong to me. Original plot lines and ideas belong to Sulia Serafine. Hanes and Fruit of the Loom belong to their respectful people. K Swiss, Lucky Charms, etc. also belong to their respectful people.

Jaelawyn Noble belongs to herself. (And Legato and I thank you for making your cameo in the bloopers. We couldn't imagine anyone else doing… doing what you did. Heheh.)

Remember. It isn't over.

A conclusion is simply the place where someone got tired of thinking. -Anonymous.