Hey there! So I wrote this in like an hour, mostly because I really wanted Don to say the Lord Voldemort line. The rest flowed pretty naturally. This takes place in the middle of 2x04, as Don and Sloan attempt to help Neal deal with Shelly. Don/Sloan smugness and flirtiness ensues.

Obviously not mine; the same goes with the lines snatched from 'The Social Network' and 'West Wing' as well.


"I'm just saying, how they just work around the word is stupid," Elliot, leaning back in his chair, says. "Words are powerful. This is a powerful word, and that's the point."

"Just like Lord Voldemort," Don says, clicking away at his email. At this rate, he will clear his inbox in the next five minutes. Boom.

"Yes. Exactly like that! We can't be afraid of the word. We have to have a debate about the word. We look stupid otherwise. And cowardly. As a society, we look cowardly."

"So say the word."

"Seriously?" Elliot's ears perk up.

He shrugs. "I agree. The debate is on the word and what it means and how we react to it. We take out the word, we lose the issue. If you write it, I'll approve it."

Neal knocks on the door quickly then, and pops his head in. Jerry is right behind him. "Hi. Sorry. Got a sec? Both of you, actually."

"What's up?"

Neal's clearly uncomfortable, his hands tucked into his armpits. "OK, so you remember a few nights ago? The Occupy interview Will did?"

"You mean the one where he beat up on a guest to get his rocks off? Yeah, I remember," Don says.

"Yeah, that one," Jerry jumps in. He's never really gotten along with Jerry. Weird vibe, but he works hard. "So the thing is, that guest, Shelly, she has a source we need for another story, and she won't lead us to him, until she gets an apology from Will."

"Yeah, you can kiss that story good-bye and tell it you'll see it when hell freezes over," Don says.

"Yeah, that's a problem. We need to get to the bottom of this story."

"What's the story?" Elliot asks.

"We can't tell you," Neal says.

"You can't tell us?" Don is, obviously, skeptical.

"If her source is legit, we're going to need a red team."

"There's a story you guys are cooking up that's at red team levels?" Don's jaw drops.

"I don't know yet. Mac's still dubious. But that's why we need to talk to this guy. He can confirm or disconfirm it," Neal says.

"Unconfirm," Don corrects.

"Whatever. But she won't tell us where this guy is unless she gets an apology from Will. And obviously Will refused, so Mac told me to take Sloan and get Sloan to try and apologize —"

"Wait. You thought Sloan would be the most tactful and reassuring ambassador for ACN? Who could deal patiently with someone who thinks camping out in a park for an indefinite amount of time is a good idea? Someone who is upset with Will for being Will, and probably insults him? Yeah, Sloan was clearly your best choice."

Neal stares at him and he knows that he nailed it. "Mac thought that since OWS is a financial story, sending the face of ACN financial..."

"Absolutely. So Sloan was able to get you the source's name, I'm sure."

Neal makes a hilarious, pained face. "In her defense, she lasted longer than I expected. So. we are here now."

"We were wondering, maybe we could see if she wants to come in at 10? Elliot, you're a much … saner person than Will, you're compassionate, OWS is still a really hot story, you could use her," Jerry asks.

Elliot shrugs. "Sure. We can give her five."

"Great," Neal says. "Could you come down with me and talk to her? We tell her we're sorry she feels that way, that it's not a reflection of all of ACN, not actually apologize, but make her feel better and get her to take us to this guy."

Elliot shakes his head. "Can't, sorry. I'm sneaking out between five and seven since it's back to school night at my daughter's school. They're putting on a dance performance and she's got this little headpiece thing that looks like a flower and —"

"I'll go," Don says, swinging his feet off his desk. Neal makes that pained face again. Even Dantana looks a little dubious. "What? I'm charming. I will talk to Sherry —"

"Shelly."

"— I will talk to Shelly and reassure her. She needs reassurance. I am reassuring. Elliot's got to go rack up more Daddy-of-the-Year points. I'll go. I'm reassuring."

Neal shoots a last, desperate look at Elliot, who raises his arms in kind of a 'what can I say?' pose. "We really need to see this guy," Neal emphasizes. "We need to figure out the validity of the story."

"It would mean a lot to us if you came," Jerry says.

"Neal, I am your guy," he says, reassuringly. "By the time I am done, she will be apologizing to you for making you grovel."

Neal and Jerry exchange a look, and Jerry nods sure. Neal turns back to Elliot. "You sure you can't come? Like, maybe you could sneak in a little late?"

"I made a promise to my daughter that I'm going to be in the front row. At her school, that's like trying for the front row at a Beyonce concert. You know, I don't understand how nobody else in this office has children. Some days I feel like I'm in a Bill Murray movie, just repeating high school over and over again."

"Suggest a kid to Will and Mac. Could be the best way to work out that hornet's nest of issues."

"You'd be depriving several shrinks' kids their college tuition, though, think of that first," Neal says.

"Sounds like you're going to have to beat the drum of parenthood on your own then," Don shrugs. "Anyways, Neal, when do we leave?"

"According to the NYU registrar, her class gets out at six. We'll leave around 5:30," he sighs. "This is really important, Don. You're the last chance. She's already upset because of Will, and of Sloan..."

"Neal. It will be OK. I got this," he smiles.

He does. He even puts on a suit jacket (ok, he puts on the jacket mostly because he has a meeting with Reese at four, and if Elliot's contemplating using seriously verboten word on air soon, he should probably curry some favor). When Sloan sees him in the hallway, she raises her eyebrows. Good sign. "You look snazzy," she says. "Hot date or Reese?"

"Both," he says, smirking. "Neal and I are heading down to NYU to talk to the hippie chick. Apparently she's been hurt, very very hurt, by ACN. I've been called upon to fix this."

Her face changes, like she's trying to hide serious amusement. "Tell her I say hi, Superman."

"I heard you talked to her," he says as they walk down the hallway.

She shrugs. "I had a milkshake, and she happened to be the person sitting across from me insulting me, my friend, and basically everything I find important with a self-righteous, superior attitude. But apparently, I was smug."

"Smug?" he smirks, because he can totally buy that.

"Smug," she shrugs. "I obviously have no idea what she was talking about, but she was pretty insufferable."

"Ho-kay," he says, not really thinking, but she still sounds bugged by the whole thing.

"OK?" she stops, and turns. "You think you're going to do so much better with her, Mr. Don 'Eat Me' Keefer? Good luck, sparky."

He quickly goes to cover his tracks, because she does not appreciate condescension. While he's not exactly being condescending, he does know he's a little right, which she won't appreciate right now, since she's kind of tetchy due to this girl. "I'm just saying —" he begins, holding out his palms in the universal 'cool it' pose.

"Saying what? She got condescending, and I said fuck it. I don't care if she, or Neal, or my mother, or Reese, or the Pope, thinks I was smug. Maybe I was smug. She was rude, and everything I said was true," she's so matter-of-fact and confident that he almost reconsiders this mission. Almost.

"I'm just saying," he smirks, "I can see absolutely no situation in which you could, to someone less intelligent and quick-thinking, come off as smug."

She shakes her head, but then starts laughing. "You know, I wish you the best of luck, because Neal needs this story, for god knows what reason. But I still don't think you'll make it any farther than I did. This girl is a whole nother level," she smirks. "She's like the crazy ex-girlfriend who sets your trash can on fire, but more shrill. You've been warned."

"I deal with everyone here on a regular basis, so I'll be fine, but thanks," he smiles.

"I'll have Neal time how long you last," she smiles one last time, one of those Mona Lisa things where he can't tell if she's being knowing or competitive or flirty or just plain Sloan-y, but she disappears into the studio.

"I'm gonna fix this," he says, to no one.

"One minute," Neal seethes, as they head back into the newsroom. "You lasted one. freaking. minute."

"Ok, in my defense, when Sloan said she was crazy, I thought Sloan was exaggerating." Shit. There comes Sloan.

"How's my friend?" Sloan smiles. "She nice and calm and placated? She feel better about herself? You get the name of the source?"

"In my defense, she was a little high-strung," Don starts.

"Wow, you know, I bet you wish someone had warned you," Sloan says. "That must really, really suck, to have to gone into this situation completely unprepared," she shoots a shit-eating grin at him and then turns to Neal. "So how long did he last?"

"I managed to —"

"A minute. Maybe less," Neal shrugged. "You lasted longer."

"Well, you know, we had milkshakes to enjoy," Sloan shoots back. "That's too bad, Don."

"How'd it go?" Will asked, coming out of his office for the studio. Was it almost eight already? Shit.

"She's still mad. And also, crazy," Don says.

"Don was smug, too," Neal supplies.

Will rolls his eyes. "I sent two interns down to Zuccotti Park an hour ago to try and find this guy. Have you ever seen Zuccotti Park? I've seen garages that are bigger than it. They should find him by the end of the show."

Don and Sloan both turned to Neal. "You knew this guy was in Zuccotti and you still sent us down there? What the hell, man!" Don exclaims.

"Did you even try to find him first?" Sloan demands.

He holds out his hands. "Mac said that Sloan was going to apologize …"

"This is why you need a red team," Sloan shakes her head. "Amateur hour."

"Children," Will says, "Beat up Neal later, go make news happen now."

They're walking away, together but not, when Sloan makes a snerk noise. "You didn't even last a minute?" she asks, but it's pure, unadulterated joy at the situation.

"You didn't even finish a milkshake," he counters. "And that's a terrible metric because I know how quickly you drink those."

She laughs. "I have to get ready; I'll see you at Hang Chew's."

"You should watch Elliot's show tonight," he says. "It's going to be a good one."

"You guys have a surprise planned?"

"Only if you're Charlie or Reese," he smiles and starts heading towards his office. "Kick ass out there, OK?"

She rolls her eyes and smiles. "Thanks. Try not to get fired, alright? I'd hate to have to face the Shelly Wexlers alone."