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all apologies

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Anna wasn't ignoring Darren Nichols. Richard's interns just took a lot - a LOT - of time and attention, and throwing them at her at the start of a season was an extra (albeit unintended) cruelty. But really, she hadn't said two words to him, and since their last interaction had involved a great deal of cussing...

Not that it wasn't provoked. But Anna took a certain degree of pride in her professionalism. She'd handled worse than Darren Nichols, better, on other occasions.

She'd meant to apologize straight off and get it out of the way. Then the interns (and chaos) had descended, and the day had slipped away.

Anna packed off the last of the interns (Emily, earnest, likely to prove an enormous pain because she was actually motivated), picked up her purse, and ... found herself double checking the room number in the hotel she'd booked for the director.

It was only polite to apologize. And clearly, thanks to Richard, she'd never have time during the workday.


Walking up the hallway to suite 418, Anna saw she could have skipped checking the number. As requested, Darren's room was at the end, out of the way of elevators, stairs and any ice or vending machines. As perhaps Anna should have expected, the door was bedecked with not only the hotel's Do Not Disturb sign but a poster-sized list of critiques and demands. Towels littered the floor of the hallway, some apparently damp, but some stiff and crumpled specimens seemed to have been left for longer. She was unsurprised they hadn't been collected.

She took a steadying breath and knocked.

"I have told you, I don't wish to be disturbed!" he caroled through the door.

"It's Anna. From the theater?" She winced as her voice lifted, turning the statement into a question. "I'm not housekeeping."

The silent pause from his side of the door was uncomfortable. She was debating graceful ways to leave, when she heard him flipping locks and chains open. "Anna." He smiled as he opened the door. He ... was smiling. And completely changed. No inexplicable couture suit, no avant garde accessories. In fact, he appeared to be wearing a t-shirt and sweats.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"Yes?" He blinked behind his thick-framed glasses. She couldn't help looking at his costume again, and he glanced down as though remembering how he was dressed. The smile shifted to resemble the expected smirk. "Darling, no one can be Darren Nichols all the time."

"Not even Darren Nichols?"

"Least of all me." He stepped back, clearing the door so she could see the sitting room, remarkably un-wrecked. "Do come in - I'd rather not ruin the mystique for the staff."

"But you're willing to risk ruining it for me."

"Well, yes. You're interesting." He shrugged like a dare that Anna decided to take.