Neil Patrick Harris
Neil generally didn't have bad days.
Well, okay, there was the day that he'd spilled yogurt on one of Barney's suits and the wardrobe mistress had just about had a conniption. But even that had blown over relatively quickly. People just seemed to like Neil, which was fine by him. (They also thought he was, like, really wise, which amused him greatly. It was probably the forehead.)
So when one morning he and David had a fight that hadn't ended when they went their separate ways for the day, Neil was not exactly sunshine and kittens. Plus, three - three - different people had cut him off that morning. Definitely no sunshine or kittens around here.
The table reading that morning went poorly. Cobie and Josh kept shooting him weird looks, and Jason opened his mouth twice as if to say something about his foul mood but Alyson shook her head sharply and he backed down. Neil saw all of these things and ignored them in favor of kicking himself for (a) letting his personal life interfere with his work, and (b) missing every damn punchline. Being Barney should have been like putting on an old, worn t-shirt. Why did it feel like an itchy sweater today?
At the lunch break, the other four huddled together briefly while he eyed the craft services table with a furrowed brow and a frown. Great, they didn't even have his favorite kind of Danish.
They all headed into wardrobe for their costumes, Jason and Alyson first because they were set to film a Marshall-Lily scene before the others would.
"Good news, Neil," said Lacey, who handled Barney's wardrobe. She beamed. "We got a new suit in for you."
"Oh?" Neil's eyebrows rose. "Sweet, can I see it?"
She nodded and pulled a suit set off the rack.
It was navy with lavender pinstripes every inch or so. The lining was sateen and a garish shade of purple. To top it off, it looked as though it was to be paired with a lavender shirt, a pocket square the same garish shade of purple, and a black tie.
"It's Versace. I can't believe we got our hands on this! Go try it on."
Neil nodded and turned away, expression falling as soon as she couldn't see it. It was possibly the ugliest suit he'd ever seen. Barney certainly would never have picked this! This was a suit for Sarah Jessica Parker, not Neil Patrick Harris!
(Huh. They both had three names. Interesting.)
Grudgingly, he put on the suit, pulling on the shirt first, then the pants. The world spun suddenly, only to be righted by a rrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiip! noise coming from somewhere around his knees.
"Fuck," he muttered, eyes wide. The suit was ugly, but, shit, Lacey was going to kill him!
"What. Was. That. Sound?" A dark voice asked.
Neil blanched. "Uh."
"Harris." Lacey's voice had lost all of its effervescence. "What did you do to my Versace?"
"It's just a small tear--"
"You tore it?!" The door slammed open, and by then Neil had pulled on the jeans he'd come to work in.
"I didn't mean to! I just...stepped into them wrong?"
Lacey rubbed her temples. "The Versace...I can't believe it..."
"Well it wasn't that good-looking anyway--"
"Okay, okay!" A new voice interjected. Pamela - their director, as always - came in, hands in a placating gesture. "Look, since we're having...issues with Barney's wardrobe, let's just move the filming schedule around so that we do those at the end of the day." She turned to Neil. "Do you mind waiting in your dressing room?"
He shook his head, hands stuffed in his pockets.
"Good. Lacey, can you mend this in time?"
She nodded, holding the pants with the busted seam like they were a dying soldier on the beaches of Normandy. (He really needed to stop watching the History Channel documentaries.)
Sulking, Neil retreated to his dressing room, not even charmed as he usually was by the magic wand and tophat that contained a mini-Tyrannosaurus. He fell in a boneless heap on the couch and pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned. Today really sucked.
A few moments later there was a soft knock on the door. "Can I come in?" Josh asked, poking his head in.
Neil nodded and sat up. "Yeah, it's fine."
Josh stepped inside and shut the door behind him quietly, then leaned against it. "You wanna tell me what's wrong?"
Neil's jaw clenched. "Nothing."
"Uh-huh." Josh raised an eyebrow. "You know, when I'm having a bad day and someone offers me an olive branch, I usually try to pretend like I've considered the offer." He was smirking, so Neil knew it wasn't a guilt trip.
"I don't really want to talk about it."
"Neil." Josh's expression turned earnest. "Come on. I've known you longer than Jason's known Judd Apatow. You can tell me."
He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "David and I had a fight," he muttered, blowing out a long breath.
Josh nodded. "What was it about?"
"Oh, our careers. He's...I think he's jealous and I feel bad because he's a great actor and deserves more exposure, but I can't help that I got cast in those movies just because I used to be a doctor on tv." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "It's just tough, sometimes."
Josh shook his head. "No, relationships are always tough." His smile grew wry. "After all, isn't that the whole point of our show?"
Neil chuckled in spite of himself.
"Ha! Gotcha." Josh sat down beside him and patted him on the shoulder. "It's okay, Neil. It'll blow over and things will be fine. David gets good work doing theater. You guys run in different circles, and you've done your best to help him get a foot into television. It's just temporary. You'll make up and be okay by dinner."
"I know so."
"Awesome." Neil sighed. "I should probably apologize to Lacey, huh?"
"Dude, how did you even manage--?"
"You also owe Cobie an apology. Your total lack of timing this morning nearly made her have a panic attack."
"Awesome." Neil paused. "Wait...!"
"Gotcha!" Josh grinned. "Now come on. I have a scene to film--"
"Hence the brown blazer?" Neil raised an eyebrow. "You really gotta talk them into letting Ted have more clothes."
"Okay, first, I like this blazer, too, reinforced elbows and all."
"And I echo my character when I point out that reinforced elbows are for OshKosh and not actual adults."
"And second, I think it makes me look good."
"Yeah, okay. Next you'll tell me you like those red cowboy boots of Ted's."
Josh's eyes didn't quite meet Neil's.
Neil burst out laughing, great guffaws that ending in gasping breaths. Outside of his dressing room, Cobie had her ear pressed to the door while half the crew watched her. When she heard Neil laughing, she beamed and flashed everyone a thumbs-up. Collectively, the crew sighed and moved on.
The rest of Neil's day did not suck at all, especially because he found one of Jason's Muppets in his actor's chair. And one of Alyson's muffins. And Cobie's Worry Hat. He couldn't help but smile at the sight.
(That night, he and David talked it out and made up. Neil thought he liked nothing more than the sight of their hands twined together.)
Josh's bad day started out not being terrible.
He woke before his alarm, which was unusual but not necessarily a bad sign. What was upsetting - but not game-changingly so - was that the water was tepid. Apparently the boiler was acting up again. He made a mental note to call the landlord. After taking a quick shower, he wandered into the kitchen to make breakfast, but found that he only had toast, mayonnaise, and pudding pops.
"Huh," he mused aloud. "I guess I forgot to go shopping." He shrugged and opted to grab a bite on the way to work. All in all, his morning was filled with small nuisances, but nothing was really awful.
Traffic was really awful that morning. Apparently an eighteen-wheeler had taken a turn too sharply and had tipped over onto its side. This had traffic backed up for four exits, the last of which was his. The cars moved bumper to bumper and he felt a fatigue headache starting to kick in. He chalked it up to low blood sugar and lamented that he couldn't stop even for coffee - given the traffic, he was going to be late. This in spite of the fact that he'd left early.
He shook his head and made his way onto the exit ramp. Suddenly, a Lamborghini cut him off, nearly making him swerve into the barrier. Josh felt his heart racing and his hands shaking as he made his way to his usual parking space. Once he'd cut the engine, he took a couple moments to breathe and calm down.
Today, he thought, pocketing his keys and locking the doors. Today is going to be a mixed bag.
The only coffee was decaf, which didn't really bother Josh, but it was also cold, which really did. Josh felt his barely buoyant mood start to dip. The first scene was a Barney-Marshall-Robin number, so he ambled over to wardrobe leisurely, checking the shooting schedule against his script.
He tripped over a chair.
Ow, he thought, face pressed against the floor. That fucking hurt.
"Oh, my gosh, Josh! Are you okay?" Alyson's voice was concern through and through. With a groan, Josh pushed himself up, uncannily aware that most of the cast and crew was watching him.
"Yeah, I'm all right. Today has just not been my day."
Alyson's expression was concerned still, but she gave him a hand up and dusted him off a bit. Josh thought perhaps she enjoyed motherhood a little too much.
"It'll get better," she offered reassuringly.
He smiled wanly at that. "I sure hope it does."
It didn't - the day got worse. While filming his scenes as Ted, Josh flubbed just about every line or missed his mark or was late on the punchline. Jason and Neil started to sport identical "Oh dear" expressions.
At some point, the director called cut and sent everyone away for a short break. "Josh," Pamela said, eyebrow raised. "Pull yourself together. Go take a nap or something."
In his dressing room, Josh stretched out on the loveseat, bent arm over his eyes to block out the light. The day had deteriorated rapidly, it seemed, and Josh was just ready for it to be over.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door.
"Go away I'm sleeping," he called, not bothering to so much as lift his arm.
"Josh, please open the door?" Alyson's voice sounded far too plaintative.
Josh sighed and stood, working a kink out of his shoulder as he opened the door.
In the doorway stood his four costars in a line. Alyson beamed at him and then nodded at Jason, who began to beatbox, hands cupped over his mouth. All four of them nodded or tapped in rhythm. Alyson started:
"It seems to me that your day has sucked - there wasn't coffee and you must've got fucked up by that chair, 'cause you've walked funny ever since then, and it makes me worry." She rapped, reading off of a small paper in her hand. "It's been real tough to watch you fall way down low when you stood so tall. You thought today would go without a hitch, but then it turned out to be just a bitch." She laughed and pointed at Cobie.
Cobie pulled out her own little notecard and began to speak in time to Jason's beatboxing. "So that's why we're here with this impromptu performance that we made up just for you. We understand if you still feel down, but please realize that we're all around here and we'll listen if you wanna talk about sports or auditions or just take a walk." She smirked at him here. "You can even make fun of me, but be honest: you love mounties." She giggled after that and fistbumped Alyson.
Neil cleared his throat and made his notecard appear out of thin air. "Jason and me, we wanted to say that we're sorry you've had such a crappy day. A whole lot of little things just went wrong, and though we know that our little song won't change the way your day's gone down, we hope at least to make a smile of a frown. So cheer up, Josh, 'cause we hate to see you
so down and out, and looking so blue."
The three of them nodded in time together and said in unison: "We're your friends and we're here to say: let's try to save the rest of the day!"
Jason finished with a flourish and hollered, "Yeah boy!" at the end. The four of them chuckled and turned to Josh expectantly.
Josh wasn't sure how to respond. "You guys..." he started, looking at each of them in turn. "You guys are the best."
"We know, honey," Alyson replied sagely, and hugged him, the others following suit.
It was possibly the best group hug Josh had ever been a part of.
Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders
The first day back on set was absolutely terrifying.
Alyson didn't know how to get past the overwhelming desire to quit her job and just be with her child constantly. It was making it hard for her to be on set. Every passer-by startled her jittery nerves. But she was an actress and covering up as best as she could. Given that no one had stopped to ask her if she was okay, Alyson was simultaneously smug and dismayed. On the one hand, it meant that she must be an awesome actress! On the other, it could mean that no one cared and that was just depressing.
Somehow, she pushed through the dress rehearsals, but by the midmorning coffee break she was tired and missing her son more than she had that morning.
"This sucks," she said, and swirled the cup of coffee (10% coffee, the rest milk just to be safe) in her hand.
"Tell me about it," Cobie replied, sipping her warm vanilla organic soy milk in a Robin Sparkles mug that the network had sent her. No one else dared be seen with it, so it was, de facto, hers.
Alyson turned to face her, wide-eyed. "Are you as upset about having to leave yours at home, too?"
Cobie nodded vigorously, eyes welling with tears. "Yes, and I feel like every time I'm still for more than a second, I am just so spidey-sense about it and think he's in trouble or something." She swiped at her eyes with the backs of her hands.
Alyson gaped. "But...but...You seem so together!"
"It's just an act, and I've started to wonder if no one cares and then I start to panic that my baby's just lying there crying--"
"Like he misses me or the nanny is unfamiliar or he's just crying and crying and--" Alyson interrupted. Her chin quivered and then suddenly both of them were clinging to each other and sobbing loudly. Crewmembers paused, startled by the sudden outburst, then gave the two of them a wide berth.
Jason, who had heard the sound of their wailing, quietly walked behind a table beside them and stuck up his muppet-bearing arm. "Ladies, ladies!"
The two of them broke apart sniffling loudly, swiping at their eyes with fingers. "What is it?" Alyson pulled out a tissue from a pocket and blew her nose. She felt a bit embarrassed at being caught at such a low moment by someone, especially since they had both held themselves together remarkably well so far.
The muppet, which was as humanoid as any other muppet save for the llame-esque nose, was bright purple, with a shock of fuzzy orange hair, googly eyes and floppy arms. In some strange way, it was rather perfectly Jason-esque, though it looked nothing like him. It definitely was his manic energy in the puppet.
"You two are amazing mothers, I'm sure of it, and you don't need to worry about your kids. They will be fine." The muppet laughed, mouth wide open and arms flailing as it shook. "Don't babies sleep like eighteen hours a day anyway?"
The two of them laughed softly and nodded. "Yes, they do," Cobie responded, shaking her head. "Ugh, I'm jealous!" Alyson smirked.
"Your kids will never even know you were gone. He won't forget you, Alyson. How could he?! You're wonderful and on over a hundred episodes of a TV show."
"Buffy actually lasted--"
"And Cobie! Your child is not in any danger. Your spidey-senses are all out of whack because you're disoriented from having to be so far." The muppet nodded sagely. "Yes, I can see it. The force is weak in this one."
"Okay, now you're just mixing--"
"But my point stands!" The muppet flailed again. "Cheer up, my dears. Your smiles light up the room. When you two are glum, this comedy turns into a drama."
Cobie and Alyson looked at each other and nodded. They walked around the table and pulled Jason to his feet.
"Thanks, Jason," Cobie said, smiling.
"That was really nice of you," added Alyson. "But why didn't you just say that aloud?"
Jason shrugged. "I know how much you guys like seeing my muppets in action and, well, I wanted to cheer you up by telling you how much I think you two are going to be great moms."
Cobie and Alyson's eyes teared up again and they hugged him tightly. Jason laughed as he stood there awkwardly, hand aloft in order to keep the muppet from being damaged.
It was a sad day, indeed.
Jason sat, slumped in his actor's chair, the one that had his name emblazoned on the back of it. Sitting in it usually was awesome, because few chairs could really handle the length of his legs, but today was a sucktastic day all around and Jason was not feeling ebullient.
"Ebullient is a big word," he murmured to himself, scuffing the toe of his shoe against the ground.
"Yes, it is," replied a new voice.
Jason looked up and saw Neil. "Oh, hey."
Neil raised an eyebrow and sat in the chair beside Jason. "What's wrong?"
"Obviously not, 'cause you're sitting here and moping instead of pranking Carter and Craig like you usually do."
"And you're doing that," Neil pointed out. "Come on, what's wrong?"
Jason muttered softly.
Neil raised an eyebrow.
Jason cleared his throat. "Jaysen Seagull got...damaged."
"My muppet that I bring to set sometimes? Kind of looks like a grape llama?"
"Oh. Oh!" Neil's expression fell. "I'm so sorry. What happened?"
"I...he was crushed."
Neil nodded. "Seth?"
Jason winced. "Seth."
"Is...is he okay?"
"I took him to the muppet hospital."
"Wait, that exists?"
"Right." Neil gave himself a small shake. "Well if he's at the hospital, that's good, right? I mean, they've got experience with things like this. They'll take care of him." Neil clapped Jason on the shoulder. "I mean, surely the guy who plays Big Bird--"
Neil didn't miss a beat. "I'm sure Carroll Spinney tripped over Big Bird's feet now and again. And Frank Oz probably fell on Miss Piggy once. It could have happened!"
Jason just continued to mope. "I don't deserve to do the next Muppet Movie."
Neil sighed. "I didn't want to have to do this, but..." He straightened up and took a deep breath.
Jason couldn't help but stare when Neil began to sing.
"Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?" Neil's tenor voice was soft and strong. "Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide. So we've been told and some choose to believe it. I know they're wrong, wait and see." He beamed and leaped to his feet. "Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me."
Jason noticed some of the crew pausing to listen. Neil continued, unperturbed. "Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when wished on the morning star? Somebody thought of that and someone believed it, and look what it's done so far." Neil shrugged and Jason smiled in spite of himself. "What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing? And what do we think we might see?"
Neil paused to take a breath, and Jason joined in. "Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me." Jason stood and grinned. By now, half the crew was watching and half-laughing. This was hardly an uncommon occurrence.
"All of us under its spell, we know that it's probably magic," Jason sang, his baritone booming through the soundstage.
Neil shook his head and gestured at Jason to keep singing, so Jason continued. "Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors? The voice might be one and the same. I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm supposed to be."
Jason paused to catch his breath at that high point. Neil grinned at him and they continued on together, now facing their audience. "Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me!"
The crew cheered and applauded their performance. As the others scattered, Jason leaned down and hugged Neil.
"Anytime, buddy," Neil replied, thumping him on the back. "Now let go. If we wrinkle this suit, then Lacey will have my head."
Carter Bays and Craig Thomas
Craig sighed forlornly.
Carter looked up from his shooting script. "Oh man, you too?"
"What?" Craig looked puzzled. "Me too what?"
Carter set down the script and tapped it idly with a pen. "It's been a really crazy week. Everyone's been depressed randomly, and we've had more impromptu musical numbers than ever before."
"So what's your problem?"
"I have no idea what our midseason finale should be."
"Hmm." Carter looked thoughtful. "How about an ep where each of them cheers up the others? Like in a 'pay-it-forward' kind of way. It'd be a nice, circular story."
"That could work."
The two of them sat in ponderous silence for a moment. Then they looked at each other.
"Christmas episode," they said in unison.
"It'll be like 'Gift of the Magi,' only the presents won't be like...useless because of it." Carter Carter sent his pen flying as he gestured excitedly.
Craig beamed. "And we can demonstrate how much they all love each other!"
"Best. Episode. Ever," Carter declared. The two of them began to sketch out the rough outlines of the plot.
Outside of the writers' room, Neil, Cobie, Jason, and Josh sang carols in four-part harmony while Alyson handed out candy canes to the crew.