set after "The Cut Man Cometh" ~~ previous / next

Medals of Bravery

"We're going to take a break for two and a half minutes and catch up on some sleep. If you're doing the same, make sure you're awake in time to catch The Cut Man's sign off. It'll be a sight." Casey nodded to the camera with half a smile.

"We're out."

"Two and a half minutes back."

There was a silence born of humility in the control room before Dana said softly into the mic, "Sleep and I'll kill ya, guys."

Soft laughter at the comment broke the tension, except on the faces of two of the Sports Night team.

"Casey," Dan said, leaning toward his partner. "What happened?"


Dan raised an eyebrow.

"Nothing happened, Dana."



"You called me Dana."

"I didn't."

"You did."

"I said Dan."

"You didn't."

"....Only one letter's difference."

"Were you *reading* my name?"

"Danny --"

"Casey, if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine."

"Thank you."



"What happened?"


Dan shrugged and feigned indifference. "Okay."

"Thank you."

"Two minutes," Dave announced in the control room.

In the control room, Dana was staring at Casey's image on the monitor. Natalie watched for a minute before leaning toward her best friend.



"What did he say?"


"He said nothing?"


"Dana --"

"I don't want to talk about it."

Natalie shrugged. "Okay."

"Thank you."



"What did he say?"

"Natalie --"

"Because maybe you didn't take it the way he meant it."

"He said ‘no'."

"He said ‘no'?"

"He said ‘no'."

"In what context did he say ‘no'?"

"I asked him if I were to ask him out tonight would he say yes and he said ‘no'."

"Did he say anything else?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

Natalie nodded. "Okay."

"90 seconds back."

At the desk, Dan raised an eyebrow. "You told her to ask you another time?"


"Dude --"



Casey sighed. "What?" he said again.

"It's just -- Casey, when a man says to ask him another time ..."


"That means it's over."

Casey sat still for a second. "Seriously?" he asked.

"I've used that line," Dan told him.

"Did she ask you another time?"

"She did not."


"She recognized the line."

"I'm sure Dana knew that's not what I meant."

"Are you?"


"You're sure."



"60 seconds back," Dave announced.

Dana leaned to the mic and said, "Dan, Casey, we've got less than a minute to go. Try to keep a straight face, all right?"

"Sure thing."

"Thank you."

Casey studied his hands. "Hey, Dana?"


"Um .. Never mind."

"Show me animation," Dana told Will.

"Animation's up."

"We've made it thus far, is there any reason why we should bomb it now?" Jeremy asked.

"Knock on wood," Natalie commanded.

"Natalie --"


Rolling his eyes, Jeremy tapped on his notebook. "Wood product," he explained. "There aren't a lot of trees in the control room."

"Dave?" Dana asked.

"30 seconds back."

"Dana --" Casey said again.


He hesitated.

"What?" she said again, pretending to study whatever was on the paper in front of her, although she knew Casey couldn't see her. He was studying his hands.

"You knew I actually meant what I said, right?"

Dana looked up abruptly. "Excuse me?"

"You knew that I wasn't just using that as an escape route, didn't you?" His voice was so casual that for a moment the crew wasn't even pretending when they concentrated on other things.

"Yes," Dana lied at last. "Yeah, Casey, I knew." Her voice was what gave them away; it was softer than it had been in days.

"We've lost Chuck," Elliot announced.

"What?" Dana blinked. "Oh -- well -- we didn't really need him anyway."

"Guys, we lost Chuck," Natalie told them.

"Casey," Dana said.




Dan looked at Casey. "Brave, man," he said quietly, and Casey nodded thanks.

"In 3 -- 2 --"

"Welcome back," Dan announced. "As much as it pains me to say it, I'm afraid we've lost contact with The Cut Man. But never fear -- Dan and Casey are here, and we'll be sure to see you safely on your way."

"Remember," Casey said. "If you don't want to be put down in 7 seconds in *your* next fight, it's a good idea to get naked and let two men rub you down with soft Turkish towels to harden the skin. That's it for us. This is Casey McCall alongside Dan Rydell, and if you've in any way enjoyed our coverage of this magnificent sporting event ... you're better men than we. Good night."

"Good night," Dan added.

There was a moment of silence in the control room, an obvious lack of "good show", before Dana leaned forward and said, "Medals of bravery for that, guys." Her eyes never left the monitor. Never left Casey.

"You okay?" Natalie asked.

"Not tonight, Natalie," Dana said softly. "But -- it isn't over yet."

"I know," Natalie answered, and saw the trace of hope on Dana's face.

At the desk, Dan looked at Casey. "You all right?" he asked.

"Not tonight," Casey said. "But maybe tomorrow."

Dan nodded and smiled to himself. At last they left the desk, just as Dana and the crew made moves to leave the control room.

22 Jan 2000

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set after "The Cut Man Cometh" ~~ previous / next