The scene: a very large dressing room, with a lot of makeup tables, even more mirrors, some comfy couches almost hidden by a multitude of costumes and props thrown into casual piles. Men in front of the tables, or scurrying to and fro. A hum of constant conversation in the air and we zoom in on one voice...
BLAIR [bouncing up and down in front of the mirror, frantically patting his curls]: I can't remember, oh God, I can't remember my lines, oh God, I am toast, I am, like, so dead...
PENDRELL [at the next makeup table, applying some amazingly lifelike blusher]: Surely you've noticed by now that being dead has its good points.
BLAIR [stops bouncing for a moment]: Well, technically, I'm in some kind of limbo state here. I mean, I'm not totally, irrevocably, one hundred percent dead. Not dead dead. Not buried dead. And I can't remember my lines!
PENDRELL: Improvise! A few wordless moans of pleasure are usually a safe bet.
BLAIR [glumly]: Depends on who's writing. I can't remember my backstory, that's the real problem. How'm I supposed to improvise when I don't know if I'm sweet and virginal, or Clueless Het Boy, or an experienced sexual omnivore, or a traumatized ex-rentboy who's a victim of child abuse?
PENDRELL [shakes his head in sympathy]: I'd definitely go for wordless noises if I were you.
MULDER [leaning in to check his face in the mirror, busily dusting his lips with a brush dipped in salt to achieve the correct flavor]: I'd go for shameless slut if I were you. You get to have a lot more fun that way.
KRYCEK [sitting on the floor nearby, polishing his hook]: Oh, yeah.
BLAIR [looks down at KRYCEK]: Low-tech for you tonight, huh?
KRYCEK [makes mock-threatening gesture with the hook]: Yeah. The advanced alien prosthetic is in the shop. Something wrong with its advanced alien wiring.
MULDER [momentarily concerned]: And the regrown, as-good-as-the-old-one arm?
KRYCEK: Got infected with an advanced alien mutagenic retrovirus. Suddenly the elbow was bending the wrong way and I was starting to grow fur on my palm.
MULDER: Could be interesting.
KRYCEK: Don't get carried away, I've already turned it in to get it fixed. And besides, you're not a shameless slut tonight, so get that look out of your eyes.
MULDER: How would you know? You're dating Pendrell. I'm with Skinner.
KRYCEK: I got a look at your script. You're Curious!Mulder tonight, never did this before where does this bit go sir? Skinner's the experienced, angst-ridden one.
Meanwhile, across the room...
SKINNER [in chair, stares at himself in the mirror, while fawning flunky polishes his head]: We were only boys, scared of death and high on... No. I loved Billy, but — no. Not the L word. [mutters to himself] After Billy was killed I never wanted to... dammit, this isn't working.
JIM ELLISON [leaning against the wall in the corner]: The old dead Army lover, huh? [SKINNER nods wearily] Yeah, I've got one of those tonight, too. What did yours die of?
SKINNER [briefly]: Nam.
JIM [nods understandingly]: That's useful. Mine was beat up by his buddies after being outed and died of his injuries while I was too cowardly to even come forward and say I knew who did it, after we'd broken up because of my internalized homophobia. I hate long explanations.
SKINNER: Amen to that. [sighs] And I think I'm supposed to seduce a first-timer tonight. How about your partner, does he get to have any experience this time?
JIM [frowns]: I can't remember. [shrugs] We'll wing it.
SKINNER: Tell him to be experienced. Being considerate with trembling innocents gets to be a drag after a while.
METHOS [wandering past with a large bag]: Tell me about it. [pulls a strip of condoms out of the bag, tosses it to SKINNER] Here. Don't lose them, you don't get any more tonight.
SKINNER [counts condoms, groans]: Seven?
METHOS: Forgot to take your ginseng this morning?
SKINNER: I suppose you have amazing Immortal stamina.
METHOS: Not to mention intimate knowledge of the ancient sex magic of the extinct culture of your choice.
JIM: So, what's your advice when it comes to dealing with skittish beginners?
METHOS [promptly]: Fall on the bed and fade to black, then have a beer and wait for the sequel.
METHOS the Condom Boy wanders on, and passes a stressed-looking figure in a body-hugging suit.
METHOS: I guess you don't need any of these [waves a strip of condoms] in your century?
TOM PARIS [applying dark circles under his eyes]: No. [turns to face METHOS] I'll tell you what I do want, though. I want a new clause in my contract. No way am I getting beat up by Chakotay and the aliens of the week in the same story, ever again.
METHOS: Look on the bright side. You don't have any lines to remember, you can just whimper.
TOM: I guess if anyone knows, you do.
METHOS: Are you sore that I edged you out in the Most Abused Character competition?
TOM [with feeling]: God, no. I hope you'll be the reigning champion for years to come. Centuries.
METHOS: Thanks, kid, I'm touched.
Over by the far wall, CHAKOTAY is muttering and kicking a sofa cushion as BLAIR walks past.
BLAIR: What's wrong?
CHAKOTAY: Just trying to work up an appropriate mood. [lands another frustrated kick] I hate it when I have to be abusive. It's just not me, you know?
BLAIR [nods understandingly]: Yeah. Jim gets the same thing a lot of the time, and it really upsets him. Not to mention, I'm not real fond of getting thumped on a regular basis.
CHAKOTAY: He has to do the jealous, possessive, unreasonable routine?
BLAIR: Sometimes. Sometimes he's a homophobic asshole. Sometimes he's living out his abusive childhood, or having Covert Ops flashbacks. Sometimes [shudders] it's everything at once.
CHAKOTAY: Covert Ops, hm? I can relate to that. Apparently I was a lot more violent in my Maquis days.
BLAIR: I heard Tom's going to get some seriously cute nookie with Harry tomorrow, though.
CHAKOTAY: Yeah, but I don't get to join them. I'm the bad guy in that story.
TOM [walks by, applying a black eye]: Don't whine, Chakotay. We had, what, four weddings last month?
CHAKOTAY [brightens up]: Oh, yeah. Those were good ones.
KRYCEK [popping up to test the sharpness of his hook on Chakotay's Maquis leathers]: I never get any weddings.
BLAIR: You're not exactly anyone's idea of a longterm boyfriend.
KRYCEK: And you are, hippie boy?
BLAIR: I'll have you know that due to my rootless, vagrant childhood and turbulent teenage years, I have a deep-seated need for stability, security, wedding bells...
KRYCEK: And I don't? You think your background is rootless and unstable? I'd give anything for happily ever after, golden retriever, white picket fence, monogrammed pillowcases...
BLAIR [snickers]: His'n'his matching dildos?
KRYCEK: I wanna be a housewife, goddammit!
METHOS [stops by, waving some condoms in a soothing manner]: You've been a kept boy.
KRYCEK [sulking]: It isn't the same. I don't want to be a shameful backstreet affair. I want one story, just one story where someone is proud of me and invites all his friends and relatives to the wedding.
CHAKOTAY [touched]: Maybe we can manage a crossover next month. Does that Consortium of yours know how to arrange time-travel accidents?
The two of them dig out filofaxes and start to compare dates, when a door at the far end of the dressing room is opened and the dark silhouette of a woman tapping her riding crop against her leg is visible against a set that shifts from living room to motel room to loft to dark alley.
WOMAN [yelling]: All right, everyone! PLACES!
And a mad scramble ensues...