"She's doing this to punish me." Dan was lying back on the couch, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I don't know what I did to deserve this, but it's cruel and unusual punishment."
"Interviewing a good-looking young sports star?" Casey hadn't stopped typing. "I believe that's a pretty routine part of your job, not to mention one of the perks."
"My agent promised me. No more soccer."
"I feel your pain."
"Really?" Dan asked.
"It's not just that he plays a so-called sport that often averages fewer than two points in forty-five minutes of play. It's also that I can't go online to do background research without every other link turning up a picture of his dick."
"Well, that's what you get when you turn off safesearch."
"And let me tell you, that's way more soccer player dick than I ever needed to see in my life."
"Well, you can hardly blame him for that; some of us are just born with more appealing–"
"I can blame him for being enough of a tool–"
"So to speak."
"–to have taken naked pictures of himself that ended up on the internet."
"They're not technically naked."
"Yes, but the important part is pretty much out there."
"Don't we have a staff to, you know, do the background research for you?"
"So, if you were googling Pete Wentz yourself, I'd have to say it was because you were curious about his dick."
"Motherfucker!" Patrick stared at the screen in front of him.
Patrick had been the deputy sound engineer for Sports Night for two and a half weeks. And he was sure that this clip had had sound the last time he'd played it.
"Hey, uh, Chris?" he asked. He really hoped that the guy was Chris, anyway, or at least someone who did the same thing as Chris. Or had the same name. "Excuse me?"
"Yes?" the guy (who was probably Chris) said.
"Remember the, uh, thing with the tape?"
"Okay, you might need to be a little more specific."
"There's a problem with the tape."
Chris's face lit up. "Because of that thing! That's going to be a problem."
"I had an idea – here, I'll get it and show you."
"Sure, go for it," Chris shrugged. "You have–"
"Five minutes to air," came the voice over the intercom. "First team to the studio."
Chris nodded, and Patrick took off for the second editing room. His idea would work, he was pretty sure, if he–
Tripped over someone's feet and fell flat on his face.
"Dude, watch it!" he said to the guy sitting on the floor of the hallway, who hadn't looked up from his texting. "What the fuck are you doing?" He scrambled to pick up the tapes that had gone flying everywhere.
"I got tired of waiting in the – hey, can I give you a hand with that?"
"No! Be careful with that; it's our only copy." Patrick reached for the tape, but the guy pulled it back and looked at it.
"You guys really use tape? I figured it was all digital by this point."
"A lot of things are, but–" Patrick started to explain, gesturing at the second editing room, and the guy pushed the door open and wandered inside.
"Really? That's pretty cool," he said. "Can you show me?"
"Sure, you can watch," Patrick said, following him in. The second editing room was approximately half the size of Patrick's closet. "Just stay back there." He gestured towards the six inches of space by the door. "I'm not sure if it'll work the way I want, and we need it twenty minutes ago." The guy obediently leaned back, and Patrick went to work, trying one thing and then adjusting the other thing, and hey, look at that, it worked, but also–
"Is that how you add sound effects?" the guy asked, coming closer and peering over his shoulder.
"It's how I like to work," Patrick said. "But, uh, I'm kind of new to the tv thing, so I tend to think more like I'm producing music. There are a couple of other options." He started to explain; the guy seemed interested, even if Patrick wished he wasn't leaning quite so close to the buttons. And now that he'd gotten it to work, he could take his first real look at the guy's face; he was actually pretty hot, beneath the hoodie, and–
"Wait," he said. "Weren't you in Arma Angelus?"
The guy started laughing so hard that he fell back against the door. "For, like, three months in the off-season during college."
"You're Pete Wentz! That's awesome, man; what are you doing at Sports Night, anyway?"
"Wait, really?" Pete asked, still giggling. "That's where you know me from?"
"I saw your last show at the Fireside. Freaking awesome; it almost convinced me to start a hardcore band."
"Jesus, you aren't kidding," Pete said. "You didn't just google me."
Patrick shook his head. "Why?"
"You don't – never mind, tell me more about that effect you were working on."
"Only if you promise to tell me what it was like touring with – wait, what time is it?"
Pete shrugged. "I think my phone's on the floor out there."
"I've got to get this back to Chris," Patrick said. He shoved his way around Pete to the door, which had gotten locked somehow. He turned the latch, but it didn't click, so he tried the handle again and – "fuck."
"By the way," Pete said.
"What?" Patrick asked, pulling on the handle while he kicked the bottom of the door. "It's stuck; I don't know–"
"When I fell over laughing? The door made this sound," Pete said. "I think I might have broken something."
"Stayed tuned, because later in the show, we'll have Pete Wentz of the Los Angeles Galaxy, and if we're lucky, he'll tell us about his new clothing line, his gossip-column exploits, and, oh yeah, his team's chances at this year's Cup. And we can't imagine why you'd want to miss that."
"Thanks, Casey," said Dan. "You're watching Sports Night on CSC, so stick around."
"Speaking of Pete Wentz of the Los Angeles Galaxy," Elliott said, entering the control room. "Anyone know where he is?"
"He's not in the green room?" Dana asked.
"Nope," Elliott said. "The intern said he wandered away ten minutes ago."
"And the intern didn't think to, say, ask where he was going? Or follow him?"
Elliott shrugged. "Apparently he said green wasn't really his color."
"Maybe a darker green would work?" Kim offered.
"That's true," said Will. "I'd say he's more of a winter."
"Either way, I like a guy in eyeliner," said Kim.
"I like a guy in our studio, when that's what the Tivo guide is promising me," Dana said. "Push the interview to the forties; we can move up the tennis feature. Natalie, come with me; we're going to find Pete Wentz."
"This is your fault?" Patrick said. "I don't care if you're Pete from Arma; I'm going to kill you."
"Hey, I'm just as screwed as you," Pete said. "I'm the one they're supposed to be interviewing in ten minutes.
Patrick stopped kicking the door. "You're the soccer guy?"
"I can't believe you didn't know," Pete said, giggling again. "I mean, I'm not usually like, 'don't you know who I am,' because, realistically, how many soccer players can pull that off anyway?"
"I'm not really into sports," Patrick said.
"Maybe Beckham, I guess – but you work at a fucking sports show. Where they're interviewing me today."
"I work in sound engineering," Patrick said. "I worked at a music recording studio until last month."
"You're not even a little bit into sports?" Pete had a nice smile, but Patrick was not going to notice it, because Patrick would be screwed if he didn't get the tape back to Chris.
"I'm pretty sure soccer is the one with the spots on the ball?" Patrick said. Pete snorted. "I liked that Ricky Martin song."
"Here we go! Olé! Olé! Olé!" Pete sang, pumping his fist and wiggling his hips towards Patrick.
"You're seriously a famous athlete?" Patrick asked. "People pay you to endorse their products?"
"You work at a sports show and you don't get sports." Pete's grin was even wider than before.
"I don't have to understand it; I just follow instructions."
"That thing you were doing before, though," Pete said. "That wasn't just following instructions." He stepped around Patrick, back to the panel, and started mimicking what Patrick had been doing.
"No, here, I'll show you," Patrick said, turning back to the mixing board.
Pete crowded close behind him. "You really know what you're doing," he said. "Why don't you work in music any more?"
"I'm better at following instructions when I don't have opinions about the content," Patrick answered.
"Fuck that; you should be giving the instructions."
"Turns out that didn't go over so well with my boss," Patrick said.
"Tonight, we find out the true meaning of pass interference." Casey's voice blared from the speakers.
"Oops," Pete said, still fiddling with the buttons. New video popped up on the monitor: a bull rider being thrown. The footage rewound and repeated at double speed, then quadruple. Patrick grabbed Pete's hand and pulled it as far from the control panel as possible.
"We seriously need to get out of this room," he said, staring at Pete. "Before I have to kill you." He kept a tight hold on Pete's hand. Pete didn't move.
And then the door swung open.
"Well, then," Dana said. She turned to Natalie. "Did we forget to tell the new guy about the trick lock on this door?"
"I think we forgot to tell him about the trick lock on this door," replied Natalie. "Darn." Patrick realized that he and Pete were standing pretty close, even considering the size of the room. He blushed.
Dana shook her head. "We moved the interview to the forties; you have six minutes. Let's get you to make-up."
"He's seriously smart, Casey," Dan said. He handed Casey a beer and sat down.
"I know," said Casey. "I watched the interview."
"I really don't think that soccer players are supposed to have that kind of business sense. We're talking about grown men who go out of their way to hit themselves in the head with projectiles."
"Do I need to remind you that his business is selling ugly sweatshirts to preteen girls?"
"Casey," Dan said.
"I didn't show you that website."
"Are you sure?" Casey asked. "You show me a lot of things on the internet."
"No matter how much you try to stop him," Dana interjected from the other end of the table. "It's fun for everyone, really."
"And exactly when did you learn about safesearch?" Dan went on. "Last thing I heard, you thought Google and Ebay were the same thing."
"I have no idea what you're getting at."
"You were googling Pete Wentz's dick!"
"I think we've gotten off topic," Casey said. "Let's bring the conversation back your little crush on Pete Wentz."
"No, let's talk about yours."
"You're both out of luck," Natalie said. "I'm pretty sure he went home with the new sound guy."
"Huh," Casey said.
"This day has not been what I expected," Dan said. "I'm not sure how to get it back on track."
Casey looked at him. "Have you considered wearing eyeliner?"