Jimmy's teeth mindlessly worked their way along the tip of his pen as he tried to ease his tension headache while looking over the storyboards for this season's episode. The tight band of pain distracted him from the goings-on around him, but he happened to look up from his clipboard at the precise moment the president of Here TV walked onto the scene.
"Oh, hey, Taylor!" Jimmy forced himself to unclenched his teeth and let the pen fall to the floor. "I didn't expect you to show up on a day we're not filming a sex scene."
Taylor strove to ignore the chewed pen on the floor. "Perhaps you can hear the error in that sentence."
Jimmy cringed a little. "The 'no sex scene' part?"
Taylor made a small sound of agreement. "I read your rewrites. Needless to say, I am disappointed by the changes."
"Oh." Jimmy laughed nervously as his script was brutally shoved in his face. "I didn't realize you read these silly ol' things."
"Oh, I don't," Taylor assured quickly. Then he narrowed his eyes at the assistant that stood just a few feet behind him. "But I had to do something after Brad confiscated my Nintendo DS."
"You said you wanted to be taken more seriously," Brad reminded defensively. "I was just trying to give you a sense of responsibility."
"No one asked you, Brad!" Taylor cleared his throat and swiftly smoothed down his tie before returning his gaze to Jimmy. "Explain this."
Jimmy watched awkwardly as Taylor pointed to a block of text in the script.
"Well…" Jimmy hesitated. "That's when the language police officer uncovers that Guy Dubai is a spy."
"And how does he do that?"
Jimmy groaned inwardly. "He realizes that Guy Dubai's native language isn't French when our hero neglects to slip him the tongue during a very heated, yet very calculated, embrace."
"Why the heck is there no tongue?" The young network president pressed on. "This show needs tongue. The more, the better!"
Jimmy fought against the urge to roll his eyes. "It goes with the plot," he insisted steadily. "If Guy Dubai shoved his tongue down this guy's throat at this very instant, there would be no obstacle to overcome. No hurdle to cross. Therefore, no plot for this year's episode."
Taylor looked away with disinterest and murmured, "You say hurdle, I hear cock block."
Jimmy was quickly reminded about the pounding pain in his skull.
"Does this have anything to do with you dating the leading man?" Taylor accused abruptly.
"Absolutely not!" Jimmy defended as if he were horrified at the implication. However, he could swiftly feel his face flushing. He did try to ease up on how graphic a sex scene was filmed after the last guest star became a little too handsy with Sam, but he was certain that he made sure it did not jeopardize the intellectual integrity of the script.
"I want you to take a look at this and tell me what you see."
Jimmy held his breath as Taylor handed him a photo. It was a snapshot of him and Sam with the stolen ampersand table that was used on the online auction site.
"I don't know what to say…" Jimmy whimpered honestly.
"I know," Taylor agreed. "I think we may have a diva on our hands."
Jimmy lost his grip on the photo. "What?"
"Look at that body," Taylor pointed out. "Who else could that be?"
Jimmy's jaw dropped. He marveled at the fact that Taylor neglected to recognize his face. Then again, Jimmy knew no one could ever pay attention to him if Sam was in the room.
"I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding." Jimmy tried to nervously laugh it off.
However, Taylor ignored his efforts. "Nana Dottie once told me that table's worth twelve thousand dollars. I think I may have to deduct that from Sam's paycheck."
Jimmy gawked. "B-but, Taylor, you don't even pay Sam a sixteenth of that!"
"You're right," the young man sighed. "I guess I'll just have to fire him."
Taylor raised a brow at Jimmy's sudden impertinence.
"I mean, let me handle it," Jimmy anxiously amended. "We won't be able to recast a better Guy Dubai for the amount of money we pay Sam. Plus, he's irreplaceable as a performer."
Suddenly, Divina screamed, which was shortly followed by a loud crash. Jimmy felt an immediate sense of foreboding sink to the pit of his stomach. He tried to drown it out with a nervous smile.
"What was that?" Taylor asked, attempting to peer passed Jimmy's shoulder by standing on his toes.
"I told the actors to read through their lines together," Jimmy struggled to say casually. "I'm sure they're just rehearsing the death scene. Loudly."
"It sounds too believable to be one of your actors." Taylor pushed passed Jimmy and followed the commotion.
Jimmy was underfoot, desperately praying that whatever misfortunate had befallen, it would not mean the end of Guy Dubai just yet. When he entered the bedroom, he was relieved to see that Divina was the source of most of the commotion.
"You better pay big money for this!" she shouted frantically, pointing to the wall. "This can't be here when owner come home!"
Jimmy cringed, but forced himself to look anyway. He peeled his eyes opened and saw a decent size hole in the drywall of the bedroom. A couple pieces of plaster crumbled to the floor.
"I guess we can hide it with a plant or something for filming," Jimmy brainstormed quietly.
"No!" Divina stomped her foot to get the director's attention. "I could lose my job for this! And no Divina means no free set."
Jimmy became more somber at the thought of losing his only filming location. "Alright, who is responsible for this?" he asked with a good deal more conviction than he appeared. His eyes bounced between Divina, Sam, and Nash, who was the current special guest star of the season.
Sam rubbed his neck and answered reluctantly, "It was an accident."
"What did I say?" Taylor gloated softly into Jimmy's ear. "Diva."
Jimmy groaned and strode over to Sam. "Impeccable timing, Sam," he hissed so only the younger man could hear.
Sam winced, but managed an apologetic shrug. "I'm sorry," he whispered back. "How was I to know Taylor would show up when we're not filming a sex scene?"
Jimmy nearly smiled. "That's what I said!"
"No accident, nuh-uh!" Divina interrupted, stomping her foot once more when she saw the pair smiling together. She continued to dart her finger at the hollow cavity in the wall. "Sam punch through wall! I saw with two of mine eyes!"
"Just whose side are you on?!" Jimmy whispered harshly to Divina. He didn't want to make the situation look any worse in front of Taylor.
"So, I fell forward!" Sam maintained. "It's not like I knew I would put a hole in the wall. What the hell would that even accomplish?"
"Who knows what goes on inside the mind of a psychopath," Nash chimed in purposefully as he folded his arms across his chest.
Jimmy shot the guest star a disapproving glare. "And to think we gave you a second chance after daytime television fired you for publically defecating on that plane," he scolded quietly.
"He's crazy," Nash continued nonetheless as he gestured towards Sam. "He just lost it and lunged at me."
Sam's lips thinned. "I may have stumbled towards your general direction, but I didn't lunge at anyone."
Jimmy could feel Taylor's eyes upon him as he tried to fight back the strain of panic that pounded through him. "Can everyone just please be quiet so I can think of what to do next!" he begged.
"I think you should spank him," came a voice from outside.
Every head in the room turned towards the window and Patrick could be seen leaning against the sill from outside. Rico stood behind him, casually massaging the other man's biceps, but his eyes showed that he immediately grew intrigued by the turn the conversation had taken. Of course, he would never admit to that because he was very, very shy.
"Don't be ridiculous," Jimmy dismissed swiftly as he once again concentrated on his headache.
"Actually, that could work," Taylor spoke up with a renewed enthusiasm to his voice. "That's much better than any of the suggestions I came up with."
"Great!" Jimmy said sarcastically as he clapped his hands together. "Now that everyone has had a chance to voice their opinion, I need to have a word with Sammy. Alone."
There were a few hushed murmurs exchanged amongst the crew, but everyone gradually summoned up enough sensibility to leave the room.
"Ooh, I know what Uncle Jimmy means by that!" Patrick announced with all his brash energy before he was promptly shooed away from the window.
"Gawd, I don't believe these people," Jimmy sighed tiredly as he collapsed against the closed door. He could feel himself getting lost in this fleeting moment of silence.
"Yeah…" Sam agreed softly. He began to anxiously rub the sweat off his palms on his thighs. "Did you just call me Sammy?"
"What? Oh, um… I'm sorry, it just slipped out. I'll call you Sam next time."
"No, I liked it."
"Wha— You did?!" Jimmy looked up suddenly and saw that Sam had a precariously proud look on his face. It didn't take long for him to realize that he liked that expression on the younger man, and knowing that he was the cause of it filled him with a curious sense of accomplishment.
"Yeah." Sam looked like he was savoring the sound of it on his tongue. "Sammy and Jimmy… It has a nice ring to it, don't ya think?"
"Yeah, I guess," Jimmy murmured as he completely allowed himself to get sidetracked by the other man's voice. "But Sam and Jim sound nice, too. Or better yet – Jim and Sam."
"How about this?" Sam smiled. "You're the only one I let call me Sammy and get away with it."
Jimmy blushed at the endearing sentiment behind Sam's words, but quickly reminded himself about the task at hand:
"Look, Sammy— Sam— whatever! We're not here to talk about our fake relationship. We're discussing the scene that happened just now."
Sam nodded without protest. "Alright. What about it?"
"Well…" Jimmy looked over the damage. "I guess we can deduct the cost of the repairs from the show's budget… or just hang a photo over it. That would be the more probable solution. I'm sure my mother won't miss one of my childhood photos."
"I broke it, I'll fix it," Sam said resolutely. "I'll just get some drywall compound and it will be as good as new."
"Drywall compound?" Jimmy flashed him a look of amusement. "You straight boys are so destructive, yet so handy."
"It's the least I could do. I feel sorta bad about this."
"Awww," Jimmy consoled with a lazy squeeze to the lead actor's shoulder. "It's not your fault."
Sam flinched and caught his breath. "Well, it wasn't… exactly… what one would call an accident."
"Hey, the dude touched my junk!" Sam defended. "I just thought we were gonna read lines together, and without warning his hands are up my robe! We were nowhere near that scene yet!"
Jimmy tsked. "Sam, this is your third season of shooting! Shouldn't you just be going through the motions by now?"
Sam shook his head stubbornly. "Not happening, man. Not ever, no way."
Jimmy snorted. "And to think you call yourself a professional actor."
"Hey, he didn't pull that shit at the table reading," Sam reminded firmly. "And that's because you were there watching. I'm starting to wonder about that audition process of yours."
Jimmy groaned as those words had a startling effect on him. A gradual feeling of guilt started to thrum through him. He always knew he had an obligation to Sam as his director, but he slowly began to realize that he had a responsibility as his boyfriend as well. Their relationship may have been a sham, but as soon as Jimmy agreed to be Sam's boyfriend, he agreed to all the facets that went along with it. As Sam's painfully public beau, Jimmy regretted to think that he was disappointing him.
"You're right, Sam," Jimmy relented. "I'm sorry. I'm supposed to shield you from all that."
Sam sat down on the bed. It was covered in an endless pattern of fleur-de-lis. "Shield is a strong word," he sighed, looking up at Jimmy. "I can handle it. It's not like I meant to punch a hole in the wall. It's just that I was aiming for that son-of-a-bitch's face, but thought better of it and swerved at the last minute."
Jimmy shortly joined Sam on the bed. "Well, thank god you had enough restraint for that," he said as he calmly patted Sam's knee. "But if you just drank more margaritas like the rest of the crew, I know you'd be more open-minded."
"I don't drink any alcohol passed noon."
Jimmy recoiled in disgust. "What sort of deranged alcoholic only drinks in the morning?"
"One trying to maintain his physique," Sam answered sternly. "And for your information, I don't normally drink in the morning either. I barely drink at all in fact. It's just that sometimes I have a little cocktail with my Sunday brunch as a reward. Then I have the rest of the day to burn it off."
"It's called moderation, Jimmy. I don't make a habit out of consuming empty calories, and it takes a lot of self-discipline throughout the week to look this good."
Jimmy twisted his nose in judgment. "Ya know, the more I get to know you, the more I realize that you don't have to pretend to be anything. Anyone listening to this conversation alone would just assume you're gay."
Sam simply shrugged. "If that were true, then you would understand where I'm coming from."
Jimmy mulled it over for a moment. "The only time I ever drink in the morning is when I need to get over a hangover from the night before."
Jimmy couldn't ignore the hidden allegation in Sam's tone. "And what is that supposed to mean, mister?"
Sam bit his cheek, but continued nonetheless. "If a little less of the budget was spent on enabling the crew's booze habit, then maybe we could afford a halfway decent lunch cart once in a while. Maybe something with a little protein, huh? I'd settle for anything that wouldn't give us perpetual food poisoning."
"Wow," Jimmy breathed in disbelief. "No food poisoning? So demanding," he scolded. "Taylor was right. You are turning into a diva."
Sam met his remark with a look of indignation. "I try to punch one jerk in the face and suddenly I'm a diva?"
"Well, it doesn't exactly make you Mother Teresa."
Sam brushed that off with a wave of his hand. Jimmy realized that he had been wandering further away from the subject matter once again.
"Taylor actually discovered that you stole the coffee table from the waiting room," Jimmy admitted finally just to get the conversation back on track. "I think he's realized that you're a bit of a handful."
"Me?!" Sam nearly jumped up from his seat. "It was your damn idea! I saved your ass."
"Yessss…" Jimmy reluctantly agreed, "but you're still the only one he recognized in the photo."
Sam was silent for a moment. "Wait… how is that possible? You're standing right there with that shiny, bald head of yours in full view!"
"Nice," Jimmy chided. "Well, I guess my bald head reflected the shine of the camera and blurred out my face," he explained bitterly. "This is probably the one time having a noticeably perfect physique doesn't pay off, now does it?"
Despite his annoyed tone, Jimmy found it hard to hold anything against Sam. A flicker of uncertainty settled on the younger man's face and Jimmy watched as it stole away the glow of friendly determination from his eyes.
"Am I fired?" Sam asked in a small, thin whisper.
Jimmy fumbled over what to say next. "Taylor wanted to deduct the cost of the table from your paycheck."
"I don't make anything near twelve thousand dollars."
"I know, sweetie." Jimmy's hand was back on Sam's knee, patting gently.
"I don't want to lose my job."
The rough, but quiet sound of sadness in Sam's voice shook Jimmy's nerves. "You won't," he promised as he struggled to keep his tone firm and reassuring. "I promise you, we will think of something."
"Well…" Sam was back to rubbing his neck. "Everybody seems to be in consensus."
Jimmy dismissed that with a huff. "Some consensus. They think I should spank you."
Shortly, Sam's eyes sparkled with a resolve that seemed far too mature for a man wearing nothing but a thin napkin for clothing. "Look, if my boyfriend thinks my behavior needs to be moderated, I won't argue with him."
Jimmy felt his lips tense. "I am not your boyfriend!" he reminded heatedly.
Sam crossed his arms against his chest. He met Jimmy with a challenging look. "Last I checked, you weren't anyone's uncle either."
A tortured groan escaped from Jimmy's throat. "Gawd, enough! I know working with the same people every day can eventually feel like family, but I've forgotten how infuriating family can be!"
Sam thought it over and added calmly, "My family has only been a beacon of support throughout this whole ordeal."
"Well, I know you can't mean you're Here TV family," Jimmy insisted in a warning tone.
"That's not true." Sam rested his hand on Jimmy's shoulder. The older man winced at the comforting weight of it. "I wouldn't be here at all if it weren't for your help. Our relationship may be bogus, but you're still my closest ally. Given a choice, I wouldn't have it any other way."
Jimmy laid his hand on top of Sam's, but still rolled his eyes. "If I didn't know any better, I would actually think you were asking to be spanked."
Jimmy tried to laugh, but the silence took him by surprise. He jumped up in shock. "Oh, my god, you do!" he accused fretfully.
"Take it easy," Sam soothed cautiously as he guided the other man back into his seat. "It's just that… well… look at me and then look at you."
Jimmy's jaw dropped. "What do you mean 'look at me, look at you?' What the hell is wrong with me?!"
"Well," Sam resisted the urge to grin as he thought over where to begin. "Let's just say you're not gonna bruise a peach with that grip of yours anytime soon."
Jimmy managed to look even more offended. "Now what does that mean?!"
Sam felt a little annoyed, but mostly amused, by all the questions. "It means it's a good thing we don't have any of those clap lights around because you'll never make a sound with those weak wrists of yours, and we'd be stuck filming in complete darkness till the end of time."
Jimmy closed his eyes and took a deep breath before continuing. "Okay, I think I'm gonna need just a little more clarification because there is an ultra-slight chance that I may overreact to all this."
Sam sighed. "There's no way you could possibly hurt me, Jimmy, so it doesn't matter whether or not you spank me. I just think we should keep up the pretense in front of the others. This whole charade is to keep Guy Dubai up and running after all."
"Oh, I could sooo hurt you," Jimmy insisted as he folded his arms and turned away petulantly.
"I know you could, buddy."
"Don't patronize me!"
"I'm not. It's just that when I envisioned myself working with a brilliant director, I thought he would be a man of action—"
Jimmy turned his nose away. "I won't rise to such immaturity."
"—instead of a man of weak character," Sam continued. "Almost as weak as the characters he writes."
Jimmy felt Sam's eyes on him, trying to gauge his reaction. He tried his best to remain unmoved, but he recognized all too well the feelings that were sweeping through him right now. He knew he never wanted Sam to think any less of him. Whatever physical advantages the younger man had over him, both their careers ultimately rested in Jimmy's hands. That gave him a sense of responsibility that he knew he would have to fight to protect.
"That's it," Jimmy finally scolded. "Over my knee right now, young man."
"Alright," Sam agreed as he allowed himself to be pulled across the older man's lap. "But you better make it sound good. Everyone's listening."
Jimmy settled on the bed with his younger leading star draped across his knees. He raised an eyebrow at the flimsy costume that covered Sam's well positioned backside. He suddenly remembered the other man's previous jab about writing weak characters and decided that a little payback was in order.
"Oh, dear, we should have shut that window," Jimmy said innocently as he tugged the cloth away from Sam's body and dropped it onto the floor. "The draft blew off what's left of your clothing."
Sam cringed at the badly recited line. "Seriously?"
"Do not interfere with the director's vision," Jimmy admonished softly as he busied himself with admiring the leading hero's backside.
Even in this delicate position, Sam Decker had the body of a Roman victor. Every curve of his artfully toned muscles gleamed with an overpowering strength. Jimmy knew there was no position in which Sam could ever truly feel vulnerable. Unless, of course, if it involved touching other men. That's when Sam's continuous trust in him started to take an overwhelming turn. Jimmy touched Sam every day in ways the younger actor had never been touched before by any man.
"What's taking so long?" Sam eventually asked.
"Uhhh…" Jimmy immediately tore his gaze away from the riveting sight of the younger actor's backside. "It's just that…" he started to fumble with his words. "I… I thought we were pretending to date so you could avoid situations like this."
"Well, I don't think anyone could have foreseen this." Sam tried to joke. "I guess it's just different between me and you."
"Oh, great," Jimmy grumbled with somewhat friendly ill-humor. "You feel safe around me. Why do I always end up being the 'nice guy'?"
"There is nothing wrong with being a nice guy," Sam tried to reason in his ridiculous position. "At least you can look at yourself in the mirror and proudly claim to be the person you see staring back at you."
"You don't like what you see in the mirror?"
"For the most part, I do." Sam was silent for a moment. "But for what it's worth, I don't think I'll ever feel safe working here. My job is certainly not secure. All I know is when my director says jump, I say how high!"
Jimmy surrendered to a brief smile, even though he could tell that Sam was only humoring him. However, he was at least able to take strength away the younger man's show of trust. So, he wrapped an arm around Sam's waist and felt his muscles flex beneath his hand.
Jimmy lifted his palm and brought it down with only a small amount of hesitation. He had always secretly hoped that Guy Dubai would be an instant hit, but this certainly wasn't what he had in mind. When Sam didn't jump or cry or show any sign of pain, Jimmy grew more confident in his swing. He gradually swatted the young backside harder, noticing how soft the rounded cheeks felt even though Sam had a body that looked like armor.
This awkward rhythm of swats continued. The curved and taut backside bounced beneath Jimmy's hand. Gradually, a slight touch of pink started to glow on the exquisitely tanned globes. As Jimmy continued to watch and listen to Sam's reactions, his pace grew steadier and easier.
As the color deepened on Sam's cheeks, Jimmy felt a small sense of satisfaction. He looked down at the rosiness of Sam's backside and proudly thought, I am responsible for this. Sam's backside was as perfectly sculpted as a Greek masterpiece, but Jimmy marveled at what a little color could do.
The sight made it difficult for Jimmy to catch his breath. "You know," he eventually said between the swats as he reflected over the situation, "You didn't have to put a hole in the wall—"
Jimmy could hear his leading man groan.
"You lecturing me?" Sam complained gruffly.
Jimmy felt the tense flesh beneath his hand becoming warmer. "Aren't I supposed to?" he asked with another quick swat.
"Oh…" Jimmy paused with his hand in mid-swing. He noticed how the young man's bottom squirmed slightly in embarrassment at the thought of being lectured. As Jimmy stared down at the exposed backside resting over his lap, he remembered that Sam invited this spanking. He provoked the consequences. So, Jimmy placed a proper swat on that unprotected bottom to draw his attention.
Sam's cheeks clenched.
"Well," Jimmy continued as he felt Sam brace himself. "This technically isn't a lecture since I'm not angry about the wall. I just wanted to say that even though you lied to get this job and you continue to lie in order to keep it, you should know that you never have to lie with me."
"I didn't lie," Sam grumbled. "I admitted I wanted to break that asshole's face— OW! Hey! I felt that one!"
Jimmy shoved Sam's head back down onto the mattress and continued to warm his bare backside with his hand. "Would you forget about the situation with the wall for just one moment? I know we're not really dating, but I think we do care for one another. Behind closed doors, we may not be boyfriends, but we're still something more than director and actor. We're friends."
"Not just p-partners in crime?" Sam's voice was strained and tight now.
Jimmy noticed a slight quiver to Sam's cheeks with each new swat. "As your friend, you can always come to me. There is no reason for us not to be supportive of one another. Two grown men are certainly capable of honest communication; not just boyfriends. If you feel a costar is not being respectful towards you or our relationship, the first thing you should do is talk to me. That's something I wanna know about."
"I know," Sam choked out, his voice sounding much smaller than usual. "And I ap-preciate that, man."
Jimmy dwelled on the circumstances once more and pouted. "It's a little insulting that actors think they can sneak behind my back and steal you away from me." Then he sighed. "There's just no regard for the arts anymore."
"I hear you, b-buddy."
Jimmy acknowledged Sam with a wobbly smile. Then he nodded and he swatted the now tender backside yet again. He swiftly felt Sam flinch beneath his palm and heard him bite back a small gasp.
When Jimmy looked down and saw how rosy Sam's backside had become, his hesitation swiftly returned. The young man's bottom had to be stinging by now.
"B-but… you can stand up at any time?" Jimmy said questioningly, almost in disbelief that Sam had remained over his lap for so long. The young Adonis could have easily walked away at any moment.
"I was w-waiting for you to finish." Sam's breathing was faster and rougher.
Jimmy felt a heart-wrenching mix of admiration and purpose in knowing that this young actor was not afraid of surrendering or letting go for a role.
"You are finished, r-right?" Sam asked hopefully.
Jimmy decided to take pity on his leading hero and gave a quick, gentle pat to the redden cheeks before pushing Sam off his knees. He was surprised to see Sam's cheeks wince at such a small tap.
"Are you alright?" Jimmy asked gently as he tried to measure the other man's expression.
However, as Sam stood, he kept turning his head away. He seemed intent on hiding his face from the older man forever. Knowing how uncomfortable Sam usually was around men, Jimmy assumed the younger actor could have only been embarrassed by one thing:
"It's nothing to be embarrassed about," Jimmy tried to console with caution. "It's perfectly normal for a man to get an erection during a spank—"
"It's not THAT!" Sam quickly felt himself becoming mortified, but he soon realized that the misunderstanding was a much needed distraction because he could feel his eyes becoming wet.
Unfortunately for Sam, Jimmy managed to catch the slight glisten from the younger man's eyes and grew concerned. "Sam, are you crying? I never meant to hit you that hard."
"Nooo," Sam insisted with little effort. "It's just… all those things you said about friendship. I didn't expect you to say anything… Certainly not all that."
Jimmy shrugged with an understanding smile. "I'm a writer, Sam. All I'm ever armed with are my words."
Sam wiped at his eyes. "Well, you have a whole f-fucking arsenal of words."
Jimmy laughed softly at the vivid expression, but a question suddenly started to nag at him. "You do think of us as friends, right?" He held his breath until Sam answered.
"Yeah," Sam nodded without pause. "Yeah, of course I do."
Jimmy blushed as he was overcome with reassurance. Then he bent down to retrieve Sam's clothing from the floor. He held it out to the other man. "You better put your napkin back on," he joked in a quiet voice.
Jimmy politely turned his head away as the other man wrapped the material back around his waist. When he was done, Jimmy turned around and reached out to make a few adjustments so that the cloth lay exactly as it stood on Sam. He took a step back to appraise Sam in his costume, but the younger man still look so adorably broken.
"Aww, come here," Jimmy urged as he held his arms out for a hug.
"Whoa, hold on there, Jimmy, I don't think so." Sam placed his hand on Jimmy's chest and pushed him back several paces.
Jimmy scowled lightheartedly, but let the other man keep his distance. He turned his attention to the mattress instead and began to straighten up the bedspread for the next scene. He fanned out the creases and smoothed down the corners.
During a final inspection of the bed, Jimmy abruptly found himself crushed beneath Sam's arms. He struggled to breath at first, but once the shock of the sudden brutality wore off, Jimmy slowly returned the embrace.
"Oh, Sammy," Jimmy whispered in the younger man's ear as he comforted him.
"I like when you call me that," Sam breathed back through a smile.
Although Jimmy previously felt responsible for Sam as his "boyfriend," he knew full well that decision was nothing more than an opportunity. Just a feeble attempt to save his show that happened to be stupid enough to work. But at times like this, holding Sam close to him without anyone watching, Jimmy knew friendship was not an opportunity. Friendship was a true responsibility. Just one loyal friend was worth more than any of the connections he could possibly make through Here TV.
Jimmy quickly recognized that even this stolen, silent moment between him and Sam was comfortable. There was no pressure from the press or the crew. It was just the two of them. Jimmy let himself indulge the hug for a few moments longer before he stepped away.
"We have a show to shoot," Jimmy announced softly as he placed a hand on Sam's cheek. He saw that the younger man's eyes were not red. His classically rugged features had returned to their full glory.
Sam held out his hand. "I'm ready for my close-up."
Jimmy smiled and took the actor's hand. He carefully led him through the door, but nearly tripped over himself when he saw that half the crew was missing.
"Wha—? W-where is everbody?"
"The crew left," Taylor muttered as he fiddled on his phone. "Some nonsense about half pay, half work days."
Jimmy's expression wilted further. "Again?"
Taylor terminated his game when he died for the last time. "Yeah, I didn't get it either."
"Why are you still here?" Jimmy looked at the remaining attendants, which included Taylor, Brad, and Nash.
"Well, uh," Taylor tried desperately to clear his throat, but he failed each time. "We just wanted to see how this…" he gestured awkwardly towards Sam and Jimmy, "…all turned out."
Jimmy frowned. "We're fine."
"Jimmy and I always pull through," Sam assured as he rested a little too much weight on Jimmy's shoulder.
Jimmy winced as he tried to balance the bulk of Sam's arm around his shoulders, but he found relief in knowing that friendship would always show its strength in times of trouble.
However, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Nash crossing his arms and glaring darkly from within his corner. Jimmy recognized the opportunity to prove to Sam just how much he was willing to surrender to a role as well.
"Nash, you're fired," the director said with swiftness and with ease.
Nash and Taylor both moved to object, but Jimmy held up his hand.
"I can find a cheaper actor," Jimmy promised.
"Ooh," Taylor smiled. "Oh, I like that!"
Completely fuming now, Nash made his way towards the door. "You'll hear from my agent," he promised with a loud slam.
Jimmy resisted expressing his sigh of relief. Their harebrained antics seemed like something out of a sitcom, yet he still managed to show Taylor that he was capable of controlling his show. As a writer, director, and producer, he was a man of determination and resolve. That was just one of the many ways Sam brought out the best in him.
"Not quite the action I was expecting to see today, but I'm glad that you're finally willing to face the tough decisions." Taylor gave a quick nod of approval towards Jimmy. Then he turned his focus on Sam.
"You got a good man there, Sammy. I guess I'll see you Monday for filming."
Just as Taylor was about to leave, Sam called after him:
"Jimmy's the only one who can call me Sammy."
After witnessing the way Jimmy was protective of Sam, Taylor knew better than to argue. He acknowledged Sam's request with a slant of his head and then gestured for Brad to follow him out the door.
Jimmy quickly caught Sam's eye. He smiled at the way the younger man's expression sparkled when they shared a secret just between the two of them. For the most part, Sammy was very much his. But Jimmy fully predicted there would come a day when he would have to remind even himself that they weren't really dating.
But for now, his friendship with Sammy was the most successful and rewarding relationship he ever had.