Sports Night Ficlets

I'm having a New York Renaissance.

Five Drinks at the Corner Bar
Written for Yuletide 2011.
Five times Natalie went out for a drink after work.

And here are the handful of Sports Night vignettes I've written so far, motly drabbles and double-drabbles. They're all on this page, and each has its own link, immediately following this paragraph.


Set post-Thespis. Tequila and true confessions and unmanly giggles, in 200 words.

"You should have taken it." Four shots in, Dan's voice is blurry.

"You're so wrong."

"You would have been great."

"I would've sucked." Casey touches his tongue to the salt on the rim of the shotglass, preparing.

"You don't know how good you are."

The earnestness makes Casey tip the tequila back, drunk enough not to wince at its burn. "Only with you."

"Only with me what?"

"I'm only good with you. We're a team. Like Astaire and Rogers. Holmes and Watson." He fumbles for a third. "...Bert and Ernie."

Dan snorts. "Bert and Ernie?" They share unmanly giggles, obviously the tequila's fault. "Whatever. You're saying we go together."

"Like rama-lama-ding-dong, shoobie-doo-wop-doo-wop," Casey agrees. He has the sneaking feeling that was a misquote, but is too drunk to care.

Dan's smile is beatific. If drunks can be beatific. If angels can be drunks. Is his partner an angel?

Seized by the impulse to say something completely inappropriate, Casey stares into the distance, trying to figure out words. When he glances back, Dan's head is pillowed on his arm. Asleep.

"Happy anniversary, partner," Casey says, too quietly for anyone to hear, and cleans his mouth with his final wedge of lime.

(200 words)


Casey stood by the window, ebullient, watching flakes fall. "Doesn't it just make you want to go outside and play?"

"Actually, it makes me want to stay in." Dan stared at his monitor some more.

Casey scowled. "Where's your sense of adventure?"

"Buried under pages of script we haven't written yet."

"We could make snow angels. In the park. On the way home."

"Script, Casey. Also, cold." Dan shivered, for effect.

A gleam in Casey's eye. "But then when we got home, I could warm you up." His voice was low.

Dan cleared his throat. "On second thought...count me in."

(100 words)


Casey read the last page of the script again. "I've gotta admit, you're in the zone."

"Is that the Jaegermeister talking, or do you really mean that?"

Natalie stuck her head in the door. "You put Jaegermeister in your coffee?"

Casey choked, coughing. "What? No, that's disgusting," he protested, but it was too late.

"Drinking before 10am. I'm telling Dana." Natalie disappeared.

Casey shot Dan his most murderous expression. "You're dead."

"It's good to be in the zone," Dan said, happily, and threw a crumpled-up page at Casey's head. It ricocheted right into the trash.

Despite himself, Casey smiled.

(100 words)


"Is Casey going to like this sweater on me?"

It was pink and snug. It looked spectacular.

"It looks spectacular," Natalie said, closing the office door.

"But will Casey like it?"

"I like it," Natalie said, firmly. "And if Casey doesn't..."

"He's an idiot," Dana supplied.

"Right. Like Jeremy."

"The thing with the skirt." Dana winced. "I remember."

"I still say he was wrong about that."

"He was wrong," Dana agreed. "We were right."

Natalie nodded. Remembered how Dana's breast had felt, that one time, in her hand.

"You look beautiful." She hugged her clipboard. She didn't cry.

(100 words)

Warm Heart

Everything at the hospital fastens with stupid fiddly little ties. Isaac tries to be unfailingly polite to the staff, because he really is grateful for what they're doing, but on the morning of the third day he practically bites the head off a nurse who tries to help him tie his hospital gown. He doesn't want help. He's not an invalid.

The nurse puts his hands up, placating, and busies himself with Isaac's chart. After a few minutes, when Isaac can't tie the johnny shut -- not one-handed, and especially not with IV ports in the backs of both hands -- the nurse quietly fastens it for him without a word. Isaac's face burns hot and he looks away.

The next day, they bring him pyjamas that fasten with velcro.

The day he goes home, his wife tucks his coat around his shoulders like a cape. In the shopping bag he carries over the crook of his arm are his release papers, several pill bottles rattling (two blood pressure medications, something for cholesterol he secretly doesn't intend to take, and a jumbo bottle of baby aspirin -- he's supposed to take one per day for the rest of his life) and a subscription to Stroke magazine, which he throws away as soon as he can because it reminds him of how much worse things could have been.

The numbness in his right side is long gone, but his hand still shakes when he tries to do something fine. Every morning he practices buttoning an Oxford shirt, and unbuttoning it, twice. He doesn't want to return to work in a sweater, a sweatshirt, anything that would make him look infirm or out-of-control.

Isaac Jaffe is a smart dresser. He's damn well going to be neatly buttoned when he returns to CSC.

(300 words)

(Title taken from William Cowper's Epistle to Joseph Hill: "An honest man, close-button'd to the chin / Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within.")


The pre-show rundown meeting, on Leap Year Day. Written for Purimgifts 2008 / 5768. Thanks to Sanj for beta.

"It's leap year day," Dana said. "We need to do something special on the air tonight."

"A celebration of...pole-vaulting?" Dan suggested.

"Oh, no no no," Casey said, looking affronted. "Long jump. Sport of kings."

"I thought poker was the sport of kings," Jeremy said.

"Or bass fishing," Dan offered.

"You're mocking me," Dana said. "And I'm ignoring you, because leap year day is a special occasion. Back me up, Natalie."

"Very special," Natalie said. "Only comes around once every four years!"

"Not really helping," Dana said, sotto voce.

"You know, it's not on everybody's calendar," Jeremy said. Both women turned to look at him.

"Sure it is," Dana said. "February 29. Comes after February 28."

"That's not what I mean. On the Chinese calendar, a leap year is a year with an extra month in it. Same goes for the Jewish calendar."

"A whole month?" Casey sounded interested.

"You're pulling our legs," Dana said firmly. "That's not nice, Jeremy, and I'm here to tell you --"

"He's actually not," Dan said, and now everybody's eyes were on him.

"Thank you," Jeremy said, to no one in particular.

Dan spread his hands in a shrug. "What? There's an extra month in the Jewish calendar. Sometimes."

"Seven years out of every nineteen," Jeremy offered. "It's on a Metonic cycle."

"I don't think I've ever heard that word before," Casey said.

"I just know Purim happens in the extra month. If there is an extra month. Which evidently," Dan looked at Jeremy for confirmation, "this year, there is?"

"Got it in one," Jeremy said.

"Purim," Casey repeated. "Is that the one with the cookies?"

"Hamentaschen, yes," Jeremy said. "The name means 'Haman's hat;' they're tricornered, which always gave me the sense Haman was a petty little man like Napoleon."

Casey was making a triangle with his thumbs and forefingers and looking down at his hands thoughtfully. "I'm not sure that's the association I would have come up with."

"They are kind of yonic," Dan agreed.

"I can't believe they're having this conversation," Dana said, to Natalie. "Right in front of us."

"We're all adults in this room," Dan protested.

"I'm not so sure about that," Dana huffed.

"It's not that I don't enjoy learning about calendar systems and yonic cookies," Isaac said, stretching the words out as if to make everybody squirm, "but I could have sworn this was a rundown meeting."

Dana and Natalie and Jeremy all sat up a little straighter. Casey and Dan kept leaning back in their chairs.

"Right," Dana said briskly. "Put something in your script about Leap Year Day. Not about calendars or cookies."

"Long jump?" Dan said to Casey, looking pained.

"Long jump," Casey confirmed, and their palms met in a high-five. "How much trouble you think we'd get in if we used fifteen seconds of Van Halen as a lead-in?"

"Birthday song fiasco," Dan reminded him.

"Right," Casey said ruefully. "Guess not, then."

"Moving on," Dana said.

"Yonic," Natalie muttered, and kicked Jeremy under the table. He just grinned.

The End