A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 18

After a pleasant catered lunch around noontime, the director, John, joined the group. They were engrossed in setting up scenes and schedules.

Now that John was on board, Sheridan and Angel weren't too sure if their services would still be needed. The location shots were found and permits received; some of the outdoor shots without actors had been filmed. The sets had been built and designed to the boys' specifications; the cast had been assembled and the script was ninety percent complete. After about another week, their services may not be warranted anymore.

This thought came to Sheridan as she was mulling over all the work that had been completed. She started to feel nervous at the thought that she and Angel may not be involved in this project anymore. A sad and depressed feeling began to worm its way into her head.

Angel looked over the conference table to see Sheridan's distraught features and her posture. Angel knew something was bothering Sheridan. She'd seen her in this state in the past. But what the hell could have happened? Angel quickly scanned through all the material the group just spent the past two hours reviewing. Jumping on her computer, she looked at the itinerary the girls had set up for themselves. According to their timeline, everything was running ahead of schedule.

Angel began thinking back over the day. Maybe Sheridan was having doubts about asking Kevin over for dinner.

Angel decided she needed to get Sheridan out of the room so she could talk to her. However, she didn't want to interrupt this meeting. Clearing her throat a couple of times to get Sheridan's attention, Nick leaned over to Angel and asked if she needed any water. Saying 'no thank you,' Angel realized she had interrupted the meeting and gave a guilty smile, and mumbled a sorry. Angel caught Sheridan's attention and tossed her head towards the door. Sheridan understood; she excused herself. Angel followed suit.

Gene looked at his watched and chuckled to himself. "Why don't we take a fifteen minute break before we finish up the last bit?" Everyone stood and stretched their legs, visiting the restrooms and grabbing a sugar snack and coffee.

Meanwhile, back in the women's restroom, Angel and Sheridan were talking quietly.

"Sheridan, what's wrong? You look so upset."

"Oh… I do? I didn't realize it showed," her voice trailed off. "Have you thought about us and this project after our timeline is finished?"

Angel thought about what Sheridan had said, "Truthfully? No I haven't. I haven't had much time to think these last few weeks. Why?"

Sheridan spoke softly, "What if they don't need us anymore? I mean technically we've held up our end of the contract. I know Gene said we would be staying on through the filming, but listening to John out there, I don't know. I mean do they really need us for rewrites. Don't get me wrong, he's an excellent choice as a director for this film. He's going to make this bigger and better than I would ever have imagined… it's just, do you think he'll want us on board?"

Angel was completely confused and distraught now. She never thought about it. She honestly never read the fine print in her contract and now she was starting to panic. Feeling slightly light-headed, she slid down the cold, tile wall.

"Breathe Angel… you are fine. Nothing is going to happen. Breathe in and out… in and out… that's it." Sheridan was coaching her out of a panic attack.

Suddenly the door opened and Marybeth came in. "Oh my God, is Angel alright? Does she need medical attention? Oh my God, I'll be right back." Marybeth almost ran out the door until Sheridan's voice called her back.

"Marybeth, Angel is fine. She's just having a slight panic attack that is all. Give her a few minutes." Sheridan plastered on a smile. She hoped Marybeth hadn't picked up their conversation nor would she tell the others about Angel's current state.

"You both look pale," Marybeth commented. "Is everything alright with your two?" Marybeth's face showed concern and Angel thought she may be able to help answer their million dollar question.

"Marybeth, I'm fine. Sorry I scared you. May be you could answer a question for me?" Angel avoided Sheridan's eyes. She felt them boring into the side of her head, but ignored it.

"You know the contracts we signed?" Angel continued.

Marybeth nodded, "Yes"

"Well, we were wondering what happens if John doesn't want Sheridan and I working while the project is being filmed. Can he kick us off, fire us, tell us thanks and goodbye, on this project?"

Marybeth thought back to their contracts trying to remember if anything was unsual written in them. Their contracts were against the norm to begin with. "Honestly, I don't think so. The boys were very specific with Gene and insisted that both of you stay on this project until it was completed. If I remember the exact phrase that was used, 'they know us better than we know ourselves.'" Marybeth grinned. She now understood why the women looked so pale and scared. "You have nothing to be worried about, I can assure you. Would you like to talk to Gene? I'm sure he'd be more than happy to talk to you about this."

Angel smiled and looked toward Sheridan. Sheridan's facial features softened and she knew what Marybeth had said was true.

"Thanks Marybeth. We needed to hear that." Sheridan, Angel, and Marybeth walked out into the corridor only to be met by the rest of the boys.

Shaking his head, Howie mumbled, "I still don't get it," as he walked towards the conference room.

As the group made its way back, Gene and John were engrossed in a conversation. Gene stood up and clapped his hands together. "Okay troops. I think that's it for today. Oh guys, can you stay for a bit? I want to go over the budgets with you."

Angel and Sheridan packed up their things. Angel leaned down to Nick's ear whispering, "Why don't you and Kevin plan to come to dinner around 6:30."

Nick shook his head up and down. "I'll call if we are going to be late, k?"

Angel smiled, "That would be great." Giving his arm a squeeze, she left the room, followed by Sheridan.

On their way home, they stopped at a local grocery store to pick up the ingredients Angel needed to make dinner with. "How about I make lasagna, with Scali bread, and a nice mucaline salad with dried cranberries and goat cheese for dinner?"

Sheridan wasn't about to complain as long as she didn't have to cook, "Sounds good to me."

On the ride back to their apartment, Sheridan was bugging Angel about her date with Nick last night. "Tell me. You know you want too."

"It was pretty low-key. We went out to dinner at that Irish pub and then back to his place."

"And?" Sheridan questioned.

"And what?" Angel was having fun torturing her roommate.

"Oh come on, I KNOW the night didn't end there. What did you two do once you got back to Nick's place?"

"Aren't we nosey?" Angel was laughing.

Then Sheridan's whining began, "Awwww, come on Angel… pleeeease tell me. I have no sex life. Let me try and live it vicariously through you."

"Ew, that doesn't sound right, but whatever. Okay. Then we went back to his place and he gave me the most relaxing, wonderful massage. I felt like Gumby when he finished."

Sheridan was shocked, "Wait. Carter did this? For you?"

Angel was grinning, "Yup. Just for little ol' me."

"So, what are you guys now?"

"Huh? What do you mean?" Angel was now confused.

"Are you guys dating? Official? What?" Sheridan practically yelled.

"I don't know. We haven't discussed what to "officially" call ourselves." Angel used quotation marks in the air when she said the word officially.

"So…how do you feel?" Sheridan questioned further.

"I feel great." Angel had to make a smartass remark.

Sheridan visibly groaned, "You know what I mean Angel."

"Geez, aren't we cranky." Angel rolled her eyes, "Okay fine, I like him. You happy?"

"Would you tell me something I don't know? Of course, you like him. Even I could figure that out."

"Then why did you ask?" Angel questioned. "I don't know where this relationship is going and I don't want to think about it. I'm enjoying his company and I have a really good time when I'm with him. I don't want to ruin it by questioning it, okay?"

Sheridan sighed, "Yes. I understand Angel." Turning into their parking lot, the girls saw Patrick waving 'hello' to them. "Oh great" both of them mumbled.

Patrick helped the girls carry their groceries up to their apartment. "Wow. What are you making tonight Angel?"

"Just lasagna. Nothing special" Angel shrugged. "Thanks for your help Patrick."

"No problem. Anytime ladies." Patrick said before he left and closed the door behind him.

"Okay, time for a game plan." Sheridan said as she looked at her watch. "How long will it take to make dinner?"

"About an hour or so." Angel responded while looking at the clock, which read five o'clock.

"Excellent," Sheridan yelled as she began running around the apartment to clean it up.

Forty-five minutes later, Nick called to say they were on their way and to ask if they wanted them to stop and pick up anything.

"Nope, I'm all set. See you when you get here." Angel beamed into the phone. With a kick in her stride, she went to the bathroom to freshen up; once she managed to kick Sheridan out of it.

"You're not being fair, I'm not done!" Sheridan complained as Angel muscled her way in.

"Don't worry about it, I'm sure if you answer the door in your bra and underwear that Kevin wouldn't mind."

"Hmmpf," Sheridan left Angel alone with a slight smile.

Angel began to laugh, "That will give you something to think about while you get dressed!"

"That was unfair!" Sheridan yelled back.

Sheridan looked around in her closet, this was to be a simple dinner with friends, it wasn't a date so what could she wear? She settled on a pair of black pinstripe pants with a brown belt paired with a white satin backless halter-top. Pulling on a pair of brown pumps, she was ready.

After a last check around the apartment, straightening a few pillows, she pronounced the room ready but not herself. "I can not believe I am this nervous. He's been here before, I don't know why I'm this uneasy about this."

Looking over at the table, she saw a napkin that didn't look quite right. Walking to the table, she grabbed the napkin and refolded the linen rectangle to look like the others. Then she spied the candles on the table and thought that it might not set the right mood. If it were a romantic dinner for two, it would be fine. If it were a date between her and Kevin, it would fine. This dinner was neither. Picking up the candleholders, she set them on the counter. Now they stuck out like a sore thumb. Grabbing them once again, she moved around the apartment looking for a place to put them. The doorbell rang as she cut a path across the rug to the mantle above the fireplace. "This will do," she dropped them on the mantle and went to the door.

Opening the door, she smiled when she found Kevin and Nick on the other side of the door.

Nick flashed her a grin, noting that the color almost drained from Sheridan's face when she saw Kevin standing next to him with a bouquet of peach colored roses.

Kevin held the roses out, "For the table and for you. Your kindness warms my heart and I wanted to say thank you for inviting me."

Nick elbowed Kevin and began to chuckle, "Dude, you invited yourself."

Kevin snorted, "Yeah I did, didn't I."

Both of the men stood in the hall, finally Kevin placed a hand on the door and pushed it back slightly towards Sheridan. "Are you going to invite us in?"

"Oh geez, I'm sorry. Please, please come in." Sheridan closed her eyes to hide her embarrassment. 'You're so stupid sometimes,' she groaned to herself.

Nick walked in and began to shout for Angel, Kevin shook his head and closed his eyes. "Forgive his lack of manners sometimes, he's still a good guy."

"Layoff dude, these ladies know us for us. Tell Kevin Backstreet to take a hike." Nick frowned at Kevin.

In his mind Kevin still felt he was not part of the cohesive group, so maybe showman Kevin did slip out, just a little bit. "Sorry," Kevin mumbled.

Sheridan stood at the door, still not moving from her spot.

Nick knew the truth, he was the only one that knew the truth. Angel had written about him and Sheridan had written about Kevin. Now Sheridan was having a fan moment. "Sheridan, where is a vase so I can put those in some water?"

Nick stretched his arm out and wrapped his hands around the stems of the blossoms.

"Oh yes, they do need water. It's on top of the refrigerator. I can't reach it without a step stool. Could you get it down for me?"

Kevin shot across the room like a cannon. "This one?" he questioned as he brought down the cut glass vase.

"Thank you Kevin," Sheridan smiled as he handed her the vase. Sheridan was starting to fuss wondering what was taking Angelina so long; these were her guests too. As she thought about how uncomfortable they had become, Angel appeared from her room.

"Well hello Gentlemen. I hope you are hungry. We're having lasagna for dinner, Scali bread, and a fresh salad with goat cheese and cranberries."

Kevin smiled, "That sounds delicious. It's been awhile since I had a home-cooked meal."

"Didn't you go to Kentucky and see your Mom before you flew here?" Nick started yanking Kevin's chain early.

"Yes I did Nick," Kevin's head hung low then swung slowly as his eyes narrowed.

Angel kissed Nick right in front of him and Sheridan.

Sheridan's lips twisted in an odd manner, then Kevin saw her tense up. She was as uncomfortable as he was right now.

"Kevin knows now, so why hide it. He can bust on me in the open now." Angel made a faint little laugh but she was dead serious.

Nick was the one who backed up, "Yes he does, but I'm not going to push my luck. I'm taller than him and a little heavier than he is."

"And I can still kick his ass," Kevin laughed as he finished Nick's sentence for him. He threw his arms up in the air pretending to box with Nick.

"Okay boys," Sheridan stepped between the two of them. "You need to behave. We have nosey neighbors and they hear and tell everything."

"Yeah like Patrick," Angel rolled her eyes.

Sheridan giggled, "He wants you."

Angel was mixing the salad greens with her hands, "No he wants you."

"I think he wants both of you at the same time." Nick laughed.

"He couldn't handle both of us at the same time," Sheridan seemed to drop all pretenses and uneasiness when Nick spoke.

"Now how would you know that? You have to give the guy a chance," Kevin jumped in, desperately trying to belong in this group.

"Well since it's confession time, maybe you should tell us whether or not you did those two women that were at your apartment during the teleconference?" Angel had pinned Kevin, he had no choice to answer.

Kevin cleared his throat, "I don't kiss and tell."

"He did," Nick laughed.

"At the same time? That's so icky," Sheridan grabbed the bottle of wine.

Kevin couldn't help but smile over her reaction but more over the use of the word icky. Angel rolled her eyes and Nick was fighting a war not to laugh.

"I mean really, one woman should be enough. Two is just… just… icky." Sheridan found the wine bottle opener. She began to struggle with getting the opener in the bottle when Kevin pulled the bottle from her fingers.

Pulling the bottle back, she glared at him. "I can do it myself."

Kevin checked the smirk, it seemed Sheridan's mood had changed drastically; maybe he was closer to getting his answer. Kevin held onto to the bottle, as Sheridan yanked the opener. Just as he did the cork came flying out the end of the corkscrew and popped Sheridan in the eye. A small scream erupted from her that made all of them wait for one second before jumping to her aid.

Angel was fussing over her, "Let me see," Angel tried to pull her hand away. There was no hint of blood but there were tears falling.

"Stop it," Sheridan pushed her away with one hand while covering her eye with the other. "It just stings. I'm fine."

Nick was now leaning over her, "Let us see your eye."

"No! My makeup is a mess."

"Let me see," Kevin wrestled her hand away from her eye.

Sheridan tried to focus but it was difficult when she could only see out of one eye. "I'm okay, honest," she spoke threw clenched teeth.

Angel handed Kevin a clean dishtowel. It seemed that he was the only one who would be able to see if she was okay.

"Well we want to be sure that you are." Cupping her chin in his hand, he raised her head so that he could get a better look. Leaning down they were now eye to eye with each other. After scrutinizing her a little closer he smiled, "You're fine. I don't even think you're going to have a black eye." Kevin dabbed the makeup. "You're using good mascara, it didn't even run."

Sheridan felt the tingling start when Kevin touched her and then she felt her hormones begin to dance as he leaned down to her face, his long lashes were such a prominent and fascinating feature to her. The green eyes that stared intently back at her, one of the many things that mesmerized her. The fact that his goatee was just a little off and he had a five o'clock shadow. "I'll go freshen up; I'm fine."

The moment over the cork incident seemed prolonged to both of them as two people touched and stared at each other. Neither Kevin nor Sheridan saw the look of satisfaction on Angel's face. Nick looked at Angel and winked.

Sheridan excused herself to look at her eye in a mirror and to repair her makeup. When Kevin watched her walk away, he couldn't help but notice the feelings that he had inside as well. They weren't the same as they were when he wanted to just get laid, they were a little different. Something was attached to this. When the telephone rang, it snapped him out of his trance.

Turning to Angel, who frowned as she picked up the phone, "Hello…"

Nick and Kevin watched Angel's face turn sour and then reflect a pissy attitude. "She's not here Tom. No, I don't know why she is mad at you. Maybe you should talk to her tomorrow at work. No, I told you, she's not here. She went out to a dinner meeting with one of the guys."

Angel hit the end button on the phone.

Nick looked at Kevin and then back at Angel. They both watched Angel empty out the caller id so that the call wouldn't be noticed.

Sheridan rejoined them with a smile. "Who was on the phone?"

"Telemarketer. I keep telling them we are on the no-call list." Angelina smiled at the two men who seemed surprised that she had just lied to her roommate. "Right guys?"

"Uh- yeah," Nick played along. "The door and window people call my house all the time."

Kevin leaned on the counter, "I get the leaky basement ones."

"Really?" Sheridan seemed shock. "But how do they get the number?"

Kevin's eyes slowly closed and then opened, 'such a blonde' was the phrase that hit him right between the eyes. "It's a computer Sheridan."

"Oh yeah, those automatic dialer things. Well let's eat. I feel silly enough." Sheridan filled all of their wine glasses while Angel began to serve the salad.

The evening rolled along leisurely with everyone eating and talking. They were all very careful to keep it friendly and informal, but then it began to get personal.

"By the way, I didn't answer that earlier "icky" question, as Sheridan referred to it. But if you want to know, the answer is no." Kevin thought the conversation needed a turn of events and that he needed to clarify something.

Sheridan's face flamed red at the thought of that question coming up again.

"You're lying, I've known you since I was twelve. You've done it before." Nick suddenly dropped his fork.

Sheridan and Kevin looked at him as Nick looked at Angel.

Angel smiled while her nails dug into his thigh, "There are parts of your lives that we really don't want to know about."

"Oh," Nick bit his lip, "Sorry."

Before Kevin left with Nick to go to the girl's apartment, Marybeth had spoken to Kevin. She had concerns and went to check on the ladies' contracts. Even though Marybeth had promised, she thought it would help reassure the two women if someone knew what they were so worried about.

"Ya know, I went over some of the exterior shots that were completed while I was gone. You have some awesome footage. I'm really getting excited that this is going to happen. I was nervous at first with you two being fic writers but with a solid story, a good director…" Kevin paused to sip his wine. He wanted to see if they were paying any attention to him or not, they were. "And you two onboard, no matter what, until the film is completed and premiered, then I can relax."

Kevin paused once again and watched the women exchange quick smiles. Both of them seemed relieved at this point, at least it was physically noticeable. The dinner conversation began to wane as they retired to the living room to just sit and talk business.

Sheridan went to her room and grabbed some sketches of what she felt Kevin had wanted as a mock set for his apartment. Eagerly she showed him as Angel and Nick did the dishes and played touchy feely in the meantime. Kevin caught them once in a tight embrace as they turned to see if Kevin and Sheridan were looking. Without taking his eyes off the sketch that sat in front of him, he yelled, "I saw that, you ain't rubbin' a plate."

Angel squealed and Nick laughed, "He knows all my moves."

"That's frightening Nick," Angel laughed.

Sheridan sat on the floor next to Kevin, with her hand on his knee. Silently she was loving the firmness of the thigh that rested under her hand.

Kevin couldn't help but notice the nearness of Sheridan. Once she was concentrating on work, she relaxed and seemed to become less worried about the confines of space. He liked it, he liked it a lot. He noticed the beauty mark on her right shoulder and thought about how sexy it was. Kevin wondered if she had other marks. She leaned forward and he saw the tawny, sun kissed skin of her back. He had to stop these thoughts right now. "Hey I talked to Gene and we came up with an idea for the premiere."

Kevin had Angel, Nick, and Sheridan's full attention. "Actually it was part Howie's idea. We were thinking of a big benefit party. We could charge a minimal fee, say ten dollars, and all the proceeds, and I mean all of them, would benefit a charity."

"Not any of yours, I hope," Angel spit it out before she could stop it. 'God, where is the brain filter when you need it?' she cursed to herself.

"No, not ours. We were thinking that we could split the money between two charities. One that specializes in music and the other one could be for a children's charity. Gene said he would check out some reputable charities and let us know. He also thinks that we should all hook-up for the premiere."

Kevin spoke the last line in an even tone, though it wasn't altogether true. He had been thinking about it and it went against his original train of thought. However, he had seen that the ladies had put more hard work, energy, and time into this project than all of them combined.

"What do you mean hook-up?" Sheridan looked up at him from the floor.

"Dates, as in you going with us, as dates," Kevin studied her for a second, not sure what she would say.

"I can't do that, I have a boyfriend. I don't think he would be too happy." Sheridan thought of the consequences of this. Tom would be embarrassed as hell to see her parading around on the arm of a Backstreet Boy.

"It's business Sheridan. It's part of the project." Kevin was now telling fib after fib and was hoping he would be able to get in touch with Gene before Sheridan or Angelina could.

Frowning, she let out a little breath, "I understand, whatever is best for the project."

"That's right," Kevin smiled a dazzling smile at her. In his head he was thinking, this was really low.

"Shouldn't be a problem for us."

Kevin's head snapped up, "In the meantime, you two had better keep this relationship on the down low. Ya hear me?"

"Yes Dad," Nick whined.

"Thank you," Kevin mocked him back. "Well I have to get going. I have some things to do around my own house tomorrow."

Angel grinned and asked the question she knew was Sheridan's private fantasy. "Are you going to cut your grass?"

Sheridan's face turned beet red again and she began to open her mouth to yell at Angel.

"Nah, but I do have to trim some bushes," Kevin laughed as he stood up. He saw that one coming a mile away. "I'll call you guys tomorrow."

Nick dropped a quick kiss on Angel, "I gotta go too, he drove."

"Whatever," Angel smirked at him.

"Let's go loverboy," Kevin spoke to Nick as he helped Sheridan up off the floor. Once Sheridan was standing he smiled, "Don't worry about the premiere, okay? It's months away, we'll work out."

"Thanks Kevin. I know we will." Sheridan showed them both to the door. As she closed the door, she turned her back to it and slid down the door.

"Pretty good Sheridan. Just think what it would be like if you had sex with the great Richardson instead of just escorting him to the premier of his new movie." Angel flicked the light off in the kitchen, it would be awhile before Sheridan moved. Angel laughed as she went down the hall, a loud, 'I knew it' laugh.





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