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"The Old Switcheroo," Sports Night, by allthingsholy - The Very First Possibly Annual Sitcomathon

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Sitcomathon '06 Masterlist

November 5th, 2006

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06:11 pm - "The Old Switcheroo," Sports Night, by allthingsholy
Title: The Old Switcheroo
Author: allthingsholy
Written for: zauberer_sirin
Request: "Sports Night," Dana/Sam Donovan
Rating: PG
Summary: "You think he's not paying attention, but he really is. That's how he gets you--the old switcheroo." -- Dana, "Sweet Smell of Air"
Notes: Just a few hours days late. I'm a lazy ass, and then LJ was down, and....That's how it goes sometimes. Apologies.


"It's just the way it is. I don't stick around places. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I get attached." -- Sam Donovan, "The Crowd Goes Wild"


Calvin comes into Dana's office on a Tuesday afternoon, tells her their ratings are good, yes, but he bought the network expecting better and he's not settling for less.

"I'm bringing in a ratings consultant," he says, hands in his pockets and face as humorlessly content as always. "And since I like to go with guys who've proved their worth, I thought I'd bring in Sam Donovan. I heard he worked here before and did a good job, and Isaac trusts him, so he'll be here by the end of the week."

Dana swallows hard, sits up a bit straighter. "Okay." She nods, twice, and clenches a fist. "Where's he coming in from this time?"

"Montreal, I think," Calvin says as he walks out the door. Dana keeps her spine straight as her nails dig into her palm. She isn't prepared for this.


Dana tells the staff that Sam's coming back at the ten o'clock rundown, slips in the news he's returning with an order to rearrange the thirties and see film from Seattle.

"Sam's coming back?" Casey's grin spreads seamlessly, and Dana wonders for a moment if she's gone about this all wrong.

Dan's less thrilled, his shoulder's slightly hunched and the lines of his face suddenly deeper. "Are we in trouble, Dana?"

She takes a deep breath, fingers the pages of script in front of her, and sees Natalie's concerned face out of the corner of her eye. "No, Dan, we're not. But Calvin's not completely satisfied with our ratings, so--"

"We're averaging two share points higher than when J.J. and his posse were--"

"I know, Dan, and I'm telling you that everything is fine." She holds his gaze a long moment, until Dan frowns slightly and looks away. There are parts of him that have changed over time, that have lined his smiles and dimmed his eyes. Sometimes she misses the old Dan--usually, she appreciates the new.

"Okay," Dana starts, polished and back to business, "so Bobbie's in Cleveland with--"

Casey interrupts with the enthusiasm he usually reserves for his son and thin blondes. "See, what I like about Sam is his go-get-'em attitude. You wouldn't know it to look at him, but he's optimistic most of the time, and I like that about him. Also, his facial hair."

Natalie stifles a laugh and looks down at her notes.

"You like his facial hair?" Dan asks.

Casey raises his hands defensively, leans back in his chair. "I can appreciate the aesthetic value of a well-groomed moustache, Daniel. It takes patience and perseverance to grow a moustache like that." Casey pauses, lowers his hands. "I could grow a moustache like that."

"Please don't," Dana says, smile wide and face pained.

Casey frowns, his shoulders sagging. "You don't think I'd look good with a moustache like Sam's?"

"No," Kim and Natalie say at the same time, and Dana tries to steer the meeting back to the show over Dan's laughter. She's only moderately successful.


By Thursday's show, Sam still hasn't shown up, and Dana's back is tense from being on edge for 36 hours. She sits on her couch, knees folded up under her, shoes half-under her desk. She closes her eyes and breathes out deep and tries not to think about men with strong hands and sad eyes.

It's quiet times like this--after the show, when she hasn't been on a date in weeks, when her bed seems larger and larger every night--that she wonders about Sam, about his childhood, his adolescence, the things in his life that make him move so fast, move on so slowly. She wonders when he took his first drink, when he took his last. She wonders why he left without saying goodbye, why, out of all the words he's said to her, as harsh or as true or as necessary as they were, he couldn't at least say one more. She wonders where he is and what he's doing and what he's going to say to her when she sees him again. It's never the same thing, when she imagines it, which she doesn't let herself do too often; he smiles out a "hi," or he throws a "hello" to the room, or her shakes her hand a second too long. Sometimes, when she imagines it, he doesn't say anything at all.

She's so deep in her own mind that she misses Natalie's knock on her door, starts to find Natalie's hand on her shoulder.

"Dana?" Natalie's voice is strained, full of worry and respect. "Are you okay?" Her mouth is pinched, her face thin.

Dana stand, walks toward Natalie, puts a gentle hand on her arm. "Natalie, everything is fine," Dana says, voice low and eyes sincere.

Natalie swallows hard, sucks in a breath. "Sam's not coming." Dana stands still for a long second, tightens her grip on Natalie's arm for just a moment before she turns and walks back behind her desk. "I ran into Calvin in the elevator and he told me to tell you. Sam called back and turned down the offer." Natalie pauses, looks away. "He told Calvin he didn't want to come back."

Dana grips the back of her chair, forces a smile onto her face. "Okay then." Her words are clipped, her voice tight. She sits down, shuffles the papers on her desk, feels his hands on her back, his breath on her cheek.

"Dana, I--"

"I'm fine, Natalie, thank you. You can go." She knows if she looks up, Natalie's eyes will be sympathetic and her face will be sad, and Dana doesn't want to feel sad, doesn't feel she has the right to feel sad over this thing that never really happened. She hears Natalie leave the room, hears the click of the door as it's pulled shut. Her hands still and her shoulders drop.

Dana takes a slow, deep breath and then grabs the remote, flips around until she finds highlight from the Packer's game. She watches a few good sacks and a missed field goal, and wonders what the weather's like in Cambodia.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 6th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)
thank you very much! angsty, just like i want my ships, hehe. i loved the part about Dana wondering, well, many things. i love the ending.

and Casey being a Sam´s fanboy? absolutely priceless.

She wonders why he left without saying goodbye, why, out of all the words he's said to her, as harsh or as true or as necessary as they were, he couldn't at least say one more. <--- my favourite bit.

thank you again!
[User Picture]
Date:November 6th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Angsty's the best, I agree. And thanks so much for liking, and I hope you're happy with the result. Dana/Sam = awesome.
[User Picture]
Date:November 6th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, this is exactly right. Lovely Dana, and Casey contemplating a moustache like Sam's, and the ending is as it should be. Lovely.
[User Picture]
Date:November 6th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
Well, thank you so much, that mean's a lot. First SNfic, glad it hit the right spots.
[User Picture]
Date:November 7th, 2006 09:16 am (UTC)
This is great. Nice work!
[User Picture]
Date:November 8th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, for liking and commenting!
[User Picture]
Date:February 3rd, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
Oh, this was really enjoyable. I liked a lot!
[User Picture]
Date:April 21st, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)

Pretty damn random, I know, but I just made a collection for the Sitcomathon on AO3. Hopefully it'll be a place to collect what was written (and potentially do another round in the near future??).

Anyway, wanted to give you a heads up in case you wanted to add this! http://archiveofourown.org/collections/Sitcomathon

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