Nightmares

News aren't good on the renewal front, so here's a little something to uplift your spirit...

I don't own Smash!

-o-

Ivy was a good friend. Bombshell had been a several months debacle and bedding her hadn't been his best move.

What else might he have done? He meant her no harm. They were two consenting adults after all. Why everybody suddenly seemed to paint him into a monstrous womaniser? Sleeping around had always been a constant in his life and the only way he knew how to smooth things. It had worked pretty well, -until now. He had not expected the sudden backlash. But Ivy said he was no monster. At least, he thought he remembered that much. She did say it at some point, or did she not?

Realization was gradually sinking in that it made him someone entirely different from the rather successful Don Juan he imagined he was. So all these gorgeous women, they all had been lying then, albeit he thought he was at the top of his game when they were only trying not to displease him, the great Derek Wills. All of them? What a delusion he'd been living this whole time. Or were they lying now because he was down?

Ivy was far more astute than he had ever been. She cleaned up her act. She decided to lay low. She seemed determined to quit ruining everyone's life to promote her career. He knew he was being unfair. She did what she had to. Probably a lot less than he would have, should had he been in her shoes.

Well, she was his friend, he had to cling to that, even if it was a half-truth. She wasn't his friend at the beginning, just an easy prey, he reckoned. Now, she knew him better than anybody else. Did he tell her too much already? Probably. He had no recollection. He remembered dragging himself to her front steps in a state of advanced inebriation and the rest was a blur. Something to add to his neverending collection of mistakes… or not. He couldn't deny that they had a strong bond, even if it was not of romantic nature any more.

Time will prove whether he was right to confide in her, -whatever he said. If he did at all.

And then there was Karen. She'd changed a lot. She would drop by at his place unannounced, bringing some music or brimming with new ideas. Yes, she was still fresh and insecure, but it was a start. At least she wasn't afraid of him anymore, it should count for something, shouldn't it? When she smiled at him, it was not the flicker of a smile and the tentative hesitation he was accustomed to. She was beaming. And being straightforward, when it suited her.

Like when he agreed to give her new best friends a shot with their so-called musical, a collection of rather uplifting pop songs, but no much more, he was afraid. She yelped and bounced around like a four year old, and for a fleeting moment the English part of him felt frightened she'd re-enact the appalling behaviour of an A-class movie star on Oprah's.

She dropped beside him on the couch instead, and it took all his restraint not to make love to her. After all, she had caught him still damp from his morning shower. He had had barely time to slip into some sweat pants and a long sleeved t-shirt that had seen better days. Unfazed, she had simply followed him inside, and proceeded with her plan: promote her friends. How refreshing. Like he was a large pot of greenery with some magic power. So much for his irresistible alien charm! That didn't make her less attractive, quite the contrary indeed. Even with his mind set on waiting for her to make the first move, he stayed true to his character, her mighty director friend. It cost him a lot. He wanted her to feel safe. It came with a price. Whatever it took.

After all, in another one of his striking vulnerable moments of late, he had almost kissed her. It would be reasonable to think that she could be upset by his mood swings, not that she was not privy to them. Moreover, she could begin to question his ulterior motives. Anyway, he was willing to behave himself for the sake of their future relationship and dabble around in amicable territory. He couldn't deny even to himself that he was very smitten with his young protégée. He could live with that. He didn't need to transform into a monk in the meantime, did he?

He had to admit he almost lost his temper when she had him tag along to her new best friends' apartment for a showdown. He wasn't entitled to a red carpet of some sort, but propriety would have been nice. "Her" Jimmy was a sad bastard, so full of himself that he almost left. Karen didn't seem to notice or chose not too. He didn't expect she'd simply hang him out to dry on their uncomfortable sofa with no immediate prospect of giving him any attention. He focused on the trio, making sure she wouldn't catch him staring at her. He relaxed and enjoyed the view. Sure, their book was a tad close to home. But that was the beauty of it, right?

As usual, simple things had a way of getting complicated as if they had a life of their own. He didn't consider himself scarred on account of a complicated childhood or troubled teen years; that was not what defined him. For the most part of the last eighteen years, he'd been on a winning streak. Having to prove himself again was certainly interesting and a challenge but he felt quickly bored by the process. That was mostly like going back in time and reliving the same old story all over again. Except that he had noticed he had to squint to decipher his emails on his cell or read a wine label.

The good thing was these early signs of decay were in sync with directing "Hit List". He soon transformed into a preschool teacher. Apart form Nichols and a couple of singers, nobody knew what they were doing. That didn't stop them. Well, it should have.

Kyle Bishop was Karen's clone, except nicer which was certainly unheard of in show business. Jimmy Collins was something else. He had perfected rudeness to an art form, and what he lacked in manners, he made up for in talent. It was like looking in a distorted mirror. Karen had left "Bombshell". She had joined the cast of "Hit List" and suddenly, it was déjà vu all over again. She was back to her former insecure self, doubting every decision she took, trying to bland in when she should have shined. He blamed her attitude on her so-called boyfriend. He was so full of himself that listening to the simplest piece of advice was clearly beyond his reach. Countless times, he had thought of giving up, not before eviscerating them all, or burning down the place to a cinder. On a more positive note, they were young, gifted and unwilling to break, and it was invigorating.

The play needed some work, to put it mildly. If "Bombshell" was a train wreck, "Hit List" was a battle field. Each day he had to fight to shatter their defences and break up their front line until it collapsed. But the morning after, either they had almost ceased to be a fighting unit and disbanded or had organised a fierce resistance. Not even two months in, he was exhausted.

Karen was torn between her new love and him, for obvious different reasons. She trusted him to make the play a success, yet she was undermining him on a daily basis. He couldn't deny it hurt. He'd spent too much time dwelling on the way the corners of her mouth twitched when she was embarrassed or doubted herself, or on the way her eyes sparkled when she was happy, and how graceful she was, all the time. He thought about how she would kiss him on the cheek or reach to him for reassurance during social events. Those simple gestures made her unique. He didn't want to see her hurt. And he knew that Collins would hurt her, eventually.

And of course, he did, for reasons only he could anticipate given what he'd learnt about the guy. Their love affair had been much more a matter of opportunities and unexpected chemistry than anything else.

"Hey, Derek! Derek?"

He woke up with a jolt. "Oh," he squeezed his eyes, "please turn the lights off, dear, please…" he moaned, protecting his eyes with his forearm. He licked his lips. His mouth was dry and he had a throbbing headache. "What's going on?"

"You tell me," she piped, "you kept tossing and turning, you were talking in your sleep," she volunteered. "Same dream, huh?"

"I can't remember," he lied, pulling her close and lifting one eye. "Did I wake you? I'm sorry love." He kissed her forehead. "Go back to sleep."

Karen propped herself on the elbow. "It's 6:20, mister! We should be up already. You know you have bad dreams every time we fight."

He turned around to face her and opened his eyes reluctantly. "Did we fight?"

"Not, not really," she teased him, "let's say you know how to push my buttons, and I guess you just wanted to pass your make-up sex degree last night."

"So, all this time you were after my body when I thought you were dazzled by my wits!" He playfully stroked her arm.

"Yeah, that too... and as much as I'd be thrilled to discuss Aristotle or Epicurus with you, we've only have an hour left before heading out, so I'd rather take a crash course." She straddled him. "If you're willing to give up your English breakfast, that is..."