Titles: Intermission
Word Count: 811

Rating: PG

Disclaimer/Author's Note: I own nothing, being but a textual poacher. This one is set during some downtime of the movie proper.


Nobody's had anything but a lukewarm shower or a tepid meal, slept more than six hours at a stretch, or seen a newspaper; the Frazer & Gould studio is beginning to resemble a refugee camp populated by extremely irate musical refugees. Nan has been playing den mother for two days straight, and now -- with the chorus girls and singers, set dressers and costumers finally bedded down -- she's in desperate need of a bed or a drink, or possibly both.

Unfortunately, while there's plenty of empty bottles in the building, there doesn't seem to be a single empty bed. Nan's not sure where they've gained the extra bodies (she sincerely hopes that Chester was only threatening to make the postman stay until Saturday), but not only is every cot filled, so is every couch in every office in the building.

Nan finally drifts into the rehearsal studio, reflecting morosely that at least she can sack out on a row of the folding chairs that are set up for auditions.

The room is dimly-lit, echoey and a little bit spooky without its normal buzz of activity; the only light comes from a dimmed-down spotlight near the stage.

Francis is there, fast asleep in an overstuffed chair (a remnant of some past prologue), sprawled crookedly on his side with his hat askew over his eyes. The black cat that Chester shoved at him a few days ago is draped over Francis' chest, tail twitching in its sleep, and Nan reflects with a weary grin that this may be the first time she's ever seen the dance director without a cigar crammed in his mouth and a worried complaint on his lips.

And if that weren't enough of a surprise -- miracle of miracles, the cot by the stage is unoccupied.

"Huhwhazzmattammphunh?" As Nan approaches, Francis shakes himself out of sleep and rolls awkwardly over, blinking sleepily at her as he pushes his hat back. The cat stirs just enough to crack one eye and stare at her balefully before it kneads Francis' shirtfront, closes its eye again and goes back to sleep.

"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Nan points to the empty cot, raising an eyebrow.

Francis sighs, still only half-awake, and takes on his usual longsuffering look. "Of course I should be in bed. I should be in bed, you should be in bed, we all should be in bed, But since we're not, it doesn't really matter, does it, Miss Prescott?" He glances down at the sleeping cat with a strangely tender look. "Besides, I don't want to wake Queenie."

"Queenie?" Nan makes a noise that can only be described as a snrk, and Francis looks faintly aggrieved.

"What's wrong with Queenie? I had an aunt named Queenie, yanno."

Nan shakes her head. "You're going to give that cat ideas."

Francis groans. "Ideas? Ideas? The last thing this place needs is more ideas." He gives her a pleading look as she sinks onto the narrow cot with a sigh. "Can't you talk some sense into him, Miss Prescott?"

"Sense? Into Chester Kent?" Nan kicks off her shoes and lies back with a groan, trying not to let too much bitterness into her voice -- not that catching Chester murmuring sweet nothings into her erstwhile former roommate's ear at dinner has anything to do with that. "Don't be funny."

The attempt at stifling the bitterness doesn't entirely work, and the words come out harsh and a little bit hurt -- but she's too tired to care. She closes her eyes and tries to breath deep and think about something besides unpleasant ways to get rid of Adrienne Rich.

Francis closes his mouth on whatever remark he was going to make and studies her for a moment, instead. After a long pause he settles back into the chair and closes his eyes. "For such a smart guy," He says quietly, "Chester Kent sure can be dumb."

Nan's eyes pop back open and she frowns sideways at him. "Whattaya mean?"

Francis smirks a little, tugs his hat down over his face once more without opening his eyes. "Doesn't know what he's got.

"But don' worry," He murmurs, stifling a yawn and already drifting back to sleep, "Don' worry . . . He'll figure it out." His mouth quirks in the faintest ghost of a broad, goofy smile. "Some things're meant t'be."

Nan just stares at him for a long, long moment, with a dumbfounded look on her face; but the choreographer doesn't stir. After a while his breathing deepens, and Nan can't help but smile faintly when it turns into gentle snoring. She turns her head and stares up into the darkness above the stage, up where the shapeless forms of old scenery and disused lights hover like so many strange angels. Meant to be. "G'night, Francis."

Then, after a moment, "Good night, Queenie."

And then, finally, Nan drifts off into a well-deserved sleep.