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"They're doing what?"


He puts down his lunch and slowly, methodically chews the bite he just took. She wants to smack him, but instead, she waits.


Kate has learnt something about patience working with this man.


"A French version."


"Of our show?"


He wishes she'd stop talking in italics, and let him finish his sandwich before the tomato makes the bread soggy.


"Yes."


"When?"


But that's all he knows, so they fall into silence and continue eating their food.


//


Two weeks later, Vincent finds himself awaiting the arrival of another Vincent. He's sitting at home, reading the Google matches for "Vincent Perez" and staring at a 256x346 pixel photo of the man who's to play him in French.


He looks skeezy, like a middle-aged lethario looking for a thrill, but he's French and that seems like a good enough explaination for the greasy hair and slightly manic gleam in the Frog's eyes.


Some would say the casting was perfect.


"I don't know about this," he mutters to his wife, but Carin's on the phone and waves him away.


//


"I think he's handsome," Katie shrugs. "Good choice." She's eating a packet of Doritos in her Eames costume, and Vincent wants to frown and tell her otherwise.


But he doesn't, and agrees with her outloud, and they wander back to the set.


"Have you seen the actress playing the me-character?" She asks, offering a chip.


"Yes," he lies, taking a Dorito and feeling the small satisfaction of it crunching under his teeth. "Good choice."


He doesn't agree that anyone could take Kate's place, but that's not something he's allowed to say either. So he allows the sound tech to wire him up with his microphone and tries hard to get into the head of a character who now has a French side, smiling when the Doritos are taken from Kate by the assistant director and the faux-tantrum she throws.


Ready.


Sound.
Camera.
Action!


It seems crowed in his head today.


//


Dick Wolf smells like cigars and Brut aftershave, and Kate's often wondered why he buys off-the-shelf cologne when he obviously has enough money to buy a Third-World country.


He's hugging her now, cackling in her ear, and she tries not to wince.


Behind him, looking every bit like bored Europeans, wait a male and female in civillian clothes and French attitudes. The woman is beautiful, her face like carved marble with a frame of red hair. The man is short-ish, demanding, and watching her like a hawk.

Kate automatically tries to hide behind her Vincent - but he sits down in his director's chair before she can and she feels vunerable, like a piece of exposed meat in front of a gaggle of alley cats.


"Like looking in a fucking mirror!" crows Dick, and he walks away before introducing, yelling into his mobile phone and lighting another smoke.


The men shuffle their feet. The women's eyes meet.


"Kathryn...Kate. Welcome!"


"Merci, hello. I am Sandrine."


The women touch cheeks and the men radiate something close to a pissing contest with their eyes.


"Vincent."


"Vincent."


Awkward.


Luckily, Carson appears out of nowhere and raps around Kate's legs in a haze of three-year-old glee, and the distraction is wonderful.


//


Vincent has noticed how hard Perez is staring at Kathryn, and it makes him itchy inside. He's had to half-listen to bullshit from the Frog all day, about how he was so admant that Nevel wasn't Goren, that he didn't want to take anymore than Vincent's blessing from this visit because "Revel is a whole different character, no?"

It's taking supreme strength for Vince not to pick himself up and walk to his trailer without a word.


"No?"


The lilt to that word, that shouldn't be attached to the end of a sentence, is present when Perez chats to Kate by craft services. When he asks her to dinner, alone, Vince muscles his way in - pretending to grab a Coke - and invites himself and Sandrine along; because the itching in his brain was getting more annoying and it's impossible to itch your brain, anyway.


Sandrine drags Katie away at this point, leaving the men alone. Perez is smoking, smirking, his eyes dancing; and Vince can almost see Katie writing naked in his eyes.


Fucker.


Over his dead fucking body.


//


Vincent Perez has a wife, but she is nothing like the Erbe woman.


"Elle est divorcée?"


Sandrine rolls her eyes and opens the car door as their chaffeur pulls up at their hotel, turning to him with one foot touching the concrete.


"Étape soigneusement, Vincent. Ne faites pas un imbécile de vous-même."


He smirks, and slides across the seat to follow her out of the car, stopping as she peers her head down to him.


"En fait, je ne donne pas une merde. Faites ce que vous aimez."


Vincent goes to talk, but she stops him.


"Juste ne ruinez pas ceci en suivant votre pénis."


"Of course not, baby," he says, hopping out and linking his arms with her as they walk through the hotel's door. He's speaking in perfect, accented English, which makes her head tired after a whole day of brash, grating American voices and all she can think of is a bath and how wonderfully lyrical the French language is.


"I'll be a good, good boy for our American friends tonight, no?"


//


Katie puts small shoes on Carson's feet, and points out Maeve's overnight bag. "Don't forget that, Mae."


Terry stands in the hallway and waits for their children to get ready, to take them back to his.


It's awkward.


//


"How's Terry?" Vincent asks, after they've met at his apartment and decide to walk to the restaurant.


"Fine."


He knows better than to pry, so he digs around in his pockets and finds nothing but a dime and a lie.


"What do you think of..."


"We're here, Vince."


And they were, and trouble seemed to scream from the glass doorway.


//


They cross the room, where Sandrine is waiting, alone, at their table. She's an exquisite woman, and Vince appreciates the Marni draped on her back, the Luella handbag and the Chanel ballet flats. Carin's a fashionista, a modern woman in a modern time and he always compares the homely prairie girl he works with to the one he lives with.


There is, of course, no competition.


Sandrine blushes under his gaze, and he wants to tell her what he's thinking, that he wasn't sizing her up or even entertaining thoughts about her. But that's rude, and impossible, so he simply kisses her on the cheek and she smells like lavender.


Kate smells like peanut butter and vanilla, and that wrecks him more than any expensive perfume ever could. She's dressed in a roll neck she stole from the wardrobe department, and something she bought from anthropologie.com; a high-waisted baby doll dress with flowers the size of ashtrays - he knows this, because he was there when she bought it online, in her trailer with Carson on her lap and the day's call sheet to her left and she'd asked him to justify spending $250 on "a piece of fabric."


He did, in short sentences, and she listened.


She bought it, on his word, and only wore it when they were together.


"Where's Vincent...the French one," Kate laughs, taking the seat her co-star pulls out for her.


He's at the bar, and joins them shortly with a bottle of fine champagne he's hand-selected. He makes a big deal of pouring the women a glass, of letting Vince pour his own, lathering on the whole French charmer routine like a second-hand actor in a second-rate play. Kate's loving the attention, like any single woman would, and the itchiness comes back.


The evening progresses, and it's obvious Perez and Kate will be leaving together.


//


They part at 10pm, because of an early call the next morning.


"Your car is at my house, remember."


She's digging in her handbag. "I remember. Let's go."


"What are you looking for?"


He sees her face blush in the half-light. "Nothing. Come on."


Nothing. Don't worry, Perez will have comdoms, he wants to spit.


He's not that stupid.


//


The SUV is waiting out the front of his home, in an impossibly good parking space. There's a car seat in the back, even though both her children are technically too old, and a parking permit for the studio reflecting onto a stuffed SpongeBob on the dash.


"It's a 6am start, right?" He nods, and she groans.


"Are you going home tonight?"


The sound of silence is New York traffic and a TV blaring Jay Leno.


"Of course." And it's as much a lie as it sounds, and he puts his hand out. "What?"


"Give me the hotel key."


She tenses, and goes to her car door, digging for her keys in her stupidly large bag that seems to have everything from Dr. Seuss to invitations to the most exclusive industry events in it. Reaching the door before she can find them in the vast recesses of Kate Spade, he grabs her arm and she tries to escape.


"He's married."


"So? So are you."


That spins him for a moment, but he recovers and continues.


"Don't go. Kate, don't."


Looking up at him with big watery eyes, the rim of makeup so much lighter than what she had to wear on set, she's angry and he almost falters and lets her get in the car. The itchiness picks up strength, and he holds his place with a blank expression that he hopes to hell she can't read.


"Why. Why?"


He can't remember why he did it, or what part took over; but something snaps and suddenly, finally, his mouth is on hers. She tastes like an after-dinner mint and coffee and the cold New York street and he feels himself go hard in all the right places and it's wonderful.


"Because I want you to stay here, tonight." They're panting, but not stopping, and his tongue finds hers again and interrupts any flow of conversation.


"Why," she mutters against his mouth, her breath catching as he pushes her against the car and the force tricks her into something like pleasure.


"I don't want you to lose this wonderful parking spot."


"Jesus." She pushes him away, her face is flushed. "Carin, Vincent."


"There's no-one at yours," and it takes a second of indecision before she's digging in her bag for keys again.


They don't make it to Brooklyn, and fuck on the backseat.


//


There are several missed calls on Kate's mobile from an unknown number, but it has been pushed aside like her dress and his pants and the reprecussions of co-stars becoming lovers.


//


Vincent Perez has never been stood up before, so he goes to Sandrine's room with his shirt off and a bottle of wine in his hands. She opens the door in a robe, her hair down and her eyes tired.

Sandrine sizes the situation up in seconds, and smirks.

"J'aime ses de plus en plus."

Her laughter as she closes the door in his face rings in his ears.


//

FIN.

//