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How Lucy Lawless Got Her Groove Back

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“We don’t have enough crazy fans,” Mary said, sipping a green tea and looking over her cue sheet for the day. “If we were young and pretty, everyone would say we were having a torrid on-set affair and it was SO OBVIOUS.”

Eddie looked up. “What are you talking about? I’m prettier than Jamie and Grace put together,” he teased. “Besides, it’s nice to be able to act like friends without hearing how you’re about to leave your husband to become an Irish Latino.”

Mary started to laugh. “I was just thinking about Felicity losing out to Reese,” she said, which was code for twelve or so years ago, David Strathairn was lower on the marquee than me, maybe. “Reese will have the chance to make a dozen movies that matter. And she’ll do well. Felicity will have to wait until she’s seventy-five and stealing scenes from people who are currently in diapers.”

“You get this from not having enough crazy fans who want us to be having an affair?” Eddie asked. “Or is it that you’re stuck filming in the park for three months? The cold, cold park, full of gawkers, techs, and people from the Stargates.”

Mary made a face. “The Stargate people are my friends. They got me a zombie head,” she pointed out. “But seriously. I have another decade before I can get a role in a film that’s worth a damn. And it’ll still probably go to Geena Davis or Stockard Channing.”

“Not if there are aliens or spaceships in it,” Eddie said. “You know what you should do? You should get one of those acai drinks you’re always pushing on Katee and Grace, and then go make Ron’s life a living hell.”

Mary smiled radiantly. “It has been awhile, hasn’t it? He might even think this is his set and his show,” she said. “I wonder if Lucy knows the rules yet, speaking of…”

Tapping her fingers against the script, Mary wandered off and Eddie guffawed. Nothing like the ageism of Hollywood plus a new recruit to give Mary a way to spend the time waiting for her scenes to come up.

If one more person called her Cylon Xena, Lucy was going to go hide in her trailer and curse at them privately. Mostly because annihilating some poor pa wasn’t going to lessen the idea that she was Xena.

“Lucy!” Mary called, catching Lucy’s eye and waving. “Lucy, wait up!”

“I refuse to do any favors for Browder or Hewlett, so if they’ve asked you, tell them no,” Lucy said, pausing for the other woman to catch up. “I don’t care what connections you have.”

Mary grinned. “Well, not that it matters, but what if I could get you Bill Macy?” she asked. “You know about Bill Macy, right?”

“He’s a fixer,” Lucy said, nodding.

“He does fix things. Felicity owes me one because I introduced her to the head of the Vancouver…social club,” Mary said, cutting herself off at the pass. “But actually, I was going to ask if you were interested in driving Ron out of his mind today. It’s easy, it’s fun, and you don’t really have a choice if you want the pa’s to stop calling you Cylon Xena.”

Lucy looked down at Mary, who didn’t look smug nor particularly vicious as she told Lucy what they were going to do for the day. “Bamber told me you were evil,” Lucy said with a sheepish smile. “I just thought you were awfully nice and gracious for set pranks.”

“Set pranks are for amateurs. What I do is high-level set blackmail and management,” Mary said deadpan, linking an arm around Lucy’s. “So are you in, or are you Xena: Warrior Cylon for life?”

It wasn’t even a question, and Lucy knew it. It was less about the Xena label, although that was bad enough, than about power. Everyone on set knew that you were either with Mary or you were against her, and everyone except Ron knew that Mary was where the power lay. The way Tricia and Grace had described it, helping Mary in her ongoing war against Ron was something between a frat initiation and the closest thing to heaven on earth. It wasn’t surprising that Grace would say that, but when Tricia agreed, Lucy understood instinctively that the first time Mary made a suggestion, she’d do it. It couldn’t be worse than what Chris fucking Carter made her do.

She hadn’t realized how much fun it would be.

“So what model is Lee Adama?” Lucy asked Ron very loudly, noting that there were a couple of network executives hanging about. “I made a bet. He’s number nine, isn’t he? Just so we can make a Beatles joke, right? Number nine, number nine, number nine…”

Ron looked at Lucy as if she’d grown another head. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Oh, come on, Ron, everyone on the cast knows Lee’s a Cylon,” Lucy said, looking to Tricia and Grace to back her up. Clearly well-versed in today’s plan, they both nodded. “What’s his model number?”

One of the Sci-Fi execs leaned over and looked at Ron with huge, puppy-like eyes. “What’s she talking about?” he asked. “I don’t know,” Ron said. Actually, it was fairly clear he did know, but there was no way in hell that Ron was going to admit Mary was screwing with him by proxy in front of a group of suits.

Especially not when the lady herself was lounging by her trailer, drinking an acai smoothie from Jamba Juice and telling Katee, with great animation, how many times she’d gotten to dance with River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, and so on.

“I thought you were going to keep us abreast of these developments,” another said petulantly.

“Lee’s not a Cylon,” Ron said.

“That’s not what you said last night,” Lucy said, shaking her head. “No wonder people think you pull the arcs out of thin air. But I think make-up needs me, so I’ll leave you gentlemen to debate Lee’s model number.”

She hadn’t believed Jamie’s insistence that Mary was brilliant because she could make everyone think she was a sweet mom figure when she was actually an evil mastermind, but she was starting to realize that it was for the wrong reasons. Yes, Mary could do all that, but the real skill lay in how easily she could set up her plans and make everyone involved think it was a good idea. Even now, three hours later, Lucy didn’t just think it was fun; she thought it was perfect.

And now everyone was just drunk enough that they were truly enjoying how well it had gone.

“Do you do this often?” she asked. “The cast drinking, I mean.”

Katee shrugged. “Well, we have to welcome you to the posse,” she explained.

“There’s a posse?”

“Not quite a posse,” Mary interrupted.

“That’s awfully gangsta of you, Mary,” Lucy quipped.

“It’s not a posse,” Mary said.

“Except for the gang symbols Alessandro got tattooed on,” Eddie added. “But we think those were probably a joke.”

“Katee,” Mary said, in a voice that sounded gentle except also kind of terrifying, “I think you’ve had a little too much to drink. Maybe you should go talk to James for a while.”

“But Lucy’s fun!” Katee protested. “I bet she could tell me how to make Starbuck more popular with the lesbian viewers, like Michelle started to do.”

“I bet James could do the same thing,” Mary said.

Lucy stared at Mary, surprised not so much with the dismissal of Katee but with how obvious it was. It wasn’t like Mary to lack subtlety, especially if something could have a bigger payoff when it finally pulled through. But Mary just smiled and sipped her drink and waited for Eddie to escort Katee away.

“That was obvious,” Lucy said after a moment.

“Katee’s too drunk for obscure hints. And she was about to ruin the surprise.”

“Surprise? Is there a cake? Or possibly lesbian strippers?” Lucy attempted to look less intrigued than she was.

“Does this look like the Desperate Housewives set to you?” Mary asked severely. She watched Lucy go through the stages of Housewives knowledge — she hit “understanding” and “acceptance” a lot faster than most people, who usually spent at least a few minutes bogged down in “Seriously? Seriously?” — and continued. “There is a cake, because Grace
insisted, but it’s one she made from scratch, and… well, she tries, and that’s what’s important. But mostly we’re here to discuss something far more pressing than pastry.”

“Nothing is more important than pastry,” Lucy said, forcing a laugh and trying to pretend that Mary wasn’t scary as all hell when she had a secret you weren’t in on. It was chilling to realize that this must be what Ron went through every minute of his life.

“As I’m sure you suspect, after your time on the X-Files,” Mary continued, sounding a lot more elitist than anyone who’d been in a movie with Will Smith had any right to be, “Vancouver isn’t just a place where a lot of bad science fiction is shot.”

Lucy had a few dozen answers to that one, but she was pretty sure Mary didn’t like being interrupted, so she stayed silent.

“For years, Canada has been broken apart by different factions vying for control of both media and civilization. They have been hidden only through a mutual desire from all concerned to embrace the Canadian stereotype: good, hardworking, honest people who don’t like violence not on the hockey rink and enjoy a good beer and a good mountie. Lately, though, many of the groups have died out or quieted down, leaving only two main groups in contention. One of these is Toronto. The other is us.”

Mary broke into a smile. “Welcome to the Vancouver Mafia, Lucy.”

All around her, people applauded. Some hooted. Lucy was almost entirely certain they were all insane.

“You do realize I’m not Xena, right?” she asked.

Apparently the entire Battlestar cast was hung over, thanks to a raging party held in honor of successfully making Ron cry (or at least, that’s what Jason told Rachel, who told David, who cackled), and the three fields of Vancouver were once again safe for Stargate.

Of course, this turned out to be a case of winning a battle and losing a war, as Dave quickly found out.

“Dave, dude,” Joe said, walking up and adjusting his sunglasses. “Does Vancouver really have a Canadian actor mafia? I heard it through the grapevine.”

“What? What are you talking about?” David said. “Who told you?”

“Lucy,” Joe said. “Well, she didn’t so much tell me as ask why there’s a Vancouver social club, and we put two and two together, and I decided to ask you what the hell was up.”

“Mary McDonnell talks too much, that’s what’s wrong,” David said. “But then she and Browder and Claudia tag-teamed me, and she told me that she was going to get Bill Macy to come up here and fix me, and now it’s ALL going to hell.”

“Dude,” Jason said, passing through on his way to makeup. “Lay off the meth.”

“Dude nothing,” David said crankily. “I’m getting my kneecaps broken because Mary’s pissed that Reese Witherspoon has an Oscar.”

After David started to recover from his second consecutive panic attack, Torri and Rachel started doing the thing where they talked in soothing voices and acted like he was still ten years old and unable to tell the difference between a little anxiety and heart attack (even though, in his defense, he’d had a lot of the same symptoms, and how was he
supposed to know that you normally have to be at least a teenager to be in the danger zone?). He had stopped hyperventilating and was now repeating, over and over, “Mary is going to kill me”, sometime interspersed
with “She is a terrifying, terrifying woman” for variety.

There were a few knocks at the door, which everyone decided to ignore. David’s crazy was more important.

Paul wouldn’t give him his cell phone to call anyone. “You will only get more stressed,” he said solemnly. “And then we’re the ones who have to smell vomit on set all day.”

Torri and Rachel both laughed, because they were traitors, but they looked perfectly sympathetic when he looked at their faces. If they were this good at acting when the cameras were rolling, he bet they would have as much good press as fucking Battlestar.

“All of Canada is going to kill me,” he said.

“That’s not true at all,” Rachel said. “We’re not going to kill you. We like you.”

“Yeah,” Paul said. “And I bet most of the Toronto Mafia are really going to become big fans.”

“Paulie!” Torri chastised. “Don’t be mean. Besides, they want everything to be undercover just as much as we do. At least until one side or the other wins.”

“One side or the other?” Rachel repeated, in a voice that sounded an awful lot like if you are a spy for Toronto I will have to beat you to death with my Teyla stick.

“Hey!” Paul said. “In-fighting’s not going to solve anything here. We all know how things work. We’re all in this together. We’re all — Jesus FUCK will someone answer the door?”

At which point they all conceded defeat and admitted the banging on the door was so loud they couldn’t ignore it.

“Yes?” David finally called.

“Hey, guys! It’s me! Um, Joe!”

David gasped, just a little, enough that Rachel rescued the paper bag for him to breathe into again. “He’s going to know,” he said. “He’s going to figure it out, and then Mary is going to kill me.”

“Maybe we could pretend you’re dead,” Torri offered cheerfully.

“He already spoke,” Rachel said. “He can’t be dead. Maybe we could say he lost a limb. How would you feel about us cutting off an arm?”

“He’s going to think we don’t like him,” David said. “He’s going to hate us, and he’s going to talk to Jason, and then Jason will know and then Mary will kill me extra.”

“I thought Lucy was…” Torri gestured.

“Gay?” Paul asked. “I think that’s just Xena.”

“Not gay,” she said. “I thought they were inducting her into the Mafia.”

Rachel shrugged. “Then I guess she can find an explanation for Joe.”

“Guys?” Joe called. “I know in you’re there.”

“We could always just let Joe in,” Paul pointed out. “It can’t be worse than him constantly almost finding out.”

“Do you want the good name of Vancouver sullied with Flanigan?” Torri asked.

“Some days, I wish for the times when Don Davis was the only American allowed in the mafia,” Aaron complained to Nicki as news of Lucy’s induction into the mafia buzzed around set. “It’s getting to be like fucking Sundance around here.”

“The Toronto people are going to start making fun of us,” Nicki complained. “Why is Mary so freaking keen on the mafia anyway?”

“There’s something about Bill Macy, and I know Mary’s been taking the whole Reese Witherspoon thing harder than someone who was at Sundance with Jena Malone and Gyllenhaals should be,” Aaron said, waving to Katee and Mary, who had their heads tilted together cozily.

“Bill Macy? The guy from Fargo?” Nicki said as Katee and Mary wandered up. “What’s up with Bill Macy?”

“He has a score to settle with the Toronto eses,” Katee said, putting her head against Mary’s shoulder and giggling. “Well, his wife does.”

Mary gave Katee a look. “You are a lousy, lousy lieutenant,” she said severely. “We should rename you Squealsy McPigeon.”

Katee cracked up. “We’re talking about a Canadian Actor Mafia,” she said. “What’s Felicity going to do to Sandra, write her a stern note about who’s the indie darling?”

Nicki and Aaron looked at Mary, who sighed and shot them a I know, I know look before putting her arm around Katee’s waist.

“Sweetie, you know how once upon a time, Nic Lea had a career?” she said.


“Krycek. From the X-Files,” Nicki said. “He was just about to launch big. And now he’s a who. And a bit of a squealer.”

Katee looked at the three people standing around her and tried to smile. “What, I’m not squealing! It’s not like I’m talking to RON.”

“Don’t even joke about that,” Mary warned. “You know that Grace would happily replace you, right?”

Before Katee could reply, Mary’s cell phone went off, playing a melodramatic strain from The Godfather.

“David, this had better be life or…FLANIGAN?” Mary asked, her jaw dropping. “Oh, this is bad. SO BAD. No, I’ll make the calls. What, you want the fixer now? After all the jokes you made? No, it’s okay, Felicity owes me the favor, but…SO BAD, David. So bad.”

Mary ended the call and shook her head. Aaron and Nicki were both pale, and Katee simply looked confused.

“Flanigan knows?” Aaron asked.

“I am going to send Lucy back to New Zealand dinner theater,” Mary fumed. “This is worse than when Duchovny realized that Gillian was in the proto-mafia and he wasn’t.”

Katee smirked. She was no longer the one who was bad, and despite having to film three scenes with Lucy in the park this afternoon, things were definitely looking up.

Lucy was having one of those days that had, on the Xena set, reduced multiple crew members to tears. She couldn’t tell if everyone was hung over, having a bad day, or mutually PMSing, but barely anyone had said a word to her besides Jamie, who called a greeting and waved enthusiastically until Katee and Grace both elbowed him and he suddenly became very
interested in fixing the collar of his uniform. And Lucy was starting to feel a little bit isolated.

In the morning she had a few scenes with Tricia and Grace. Tricia was polite, if a little detached; she said something about her other show as something between an excuse and an explanation, and escaped off set the second the last take was declared a success. Grace didn’t run off, but also didn’t hesitate to glare at Lucy any chance she got. At first, Lucy wondered if she was going for method acting and not breaking character between scenes, but she knew from one of the stories the night before that Mary didn’t believe in method unless it was a punch line, and no one on set would try something that Mary didn’t believe in, except possibly Eddie, and he wouldn’t start any type of revolution with Grace.

So Lucy was pretty sure something was wrong, but she couldn’t figure out what. In fact, she could barely remember anything from the night before. But she couldn’t figure out how anyone else could either. She’d been more sober than Katee, at least, and probably James too, if his enthusiastic impromptu performance of Macbeth as performed by Monty Python had been any indication. But if anyone could remember what had happened… well, Lucy wasn’t stupid. The way that Mary appeared to have the mind of a super-villain was starting to seem more problematic than anything else.

When she stopped Jamie to ask what was going on, he just said “I have to go see Mary” and sidled away.

Lucy ended up eating lunch with Ron. She felt like she was in middle school again. It was possibly the worst moment of her life.

After lunch, though, Katee came up to her, with a smile. She even sat with her while they watched Tahmoh and Grace. It was nice enough for someone that Lucy forgot Katee was Mary’s right-hand man.

“You drunk-dialed Flanigan last night,” Katee finally said.

“No, I think someone else drunk-dialed Flanigan,” Lucy corrected. “I just got handed the phone and there was talking and I was pretty chuffed about this mafia thing — so what, we lean on Eddie and Mary’s old actor connections or something?”

Katee looked at Lucy and shook her head. And then she pointed over at Mary’s trailer. The door had just opened and Mary emerged, followed by…

“Is that Bill Macy and Felicity Huffman?” Lucy asked. “Brilliant. I’ve always wanted to meet them. How does Mary know them?”

“I don’t think you understand how serious the Vancouver mafia is,” Katee said in a low voice. “I didn’t either, until I got called Squealsy McPigeon, but seriously. SERIOUSLY.”

“There’s really a mafia? What do we do, go to Ontario and commit drive-bys?” Lucy asked with a snort.

“I don’t know,” Katee admitted. “I do know it’s deadly serious, and there is something going on with Felicity and that girl from Sideways, Sandra Oh? And it’s possibly leading up to a gang war.”

“A Canadian actor gang war,” Lucy said credulously. “Which I am…harming…by telling Flanigan there’s a Vancouver mafia while shitfaced.”

“Smaller things took out Nic Lea’s career,” Katee said solemnly.

“Wasn’t he just in a TV movie with Swoosie Kurtz?” Lucy asked. She paused. “Maybe I should go apologize to Mary.”

“I think that might be wise. And then you’ll probably have to go apologize to that tweaker Hewlett. Flanigan’s been after him all day to join,” Katee said.

Lucy wrinkled her nose and grimaced. “Do I have to?”

“When the Stargate casts are unhappy, they do things to the park,” Katee said.

“I’m starting to hate Vancouver,” Lucy said.

“And you haven’t even watched anyone OD on Tim Horton’s yet,” Katee said mysteriously, drifting off toward Mary and her guests.

“I could really get to love Vancouver. No Marc, no Teri, no random agents of darkness buzzing around my trailer when Marcia and I are trying to relax…” Felicity mused as Mary’s minion dragged her away concerning the ‘Xena’ situation.

Bill nodded. “It’s a tight ship around here,” he said. “Well, that Browder boy adds some volatility, but ever since the zombie incident, he’s been in saner pockets.”

Felicity grinned. “The zombie incident was what convinced you I was right about the Vancouver people, wasn’t it?” she asked, looping her arm around her beloved husband’s shoulders.

“I respect anyone who can decapitate a zombie with an ax, smuggle Grunberg across an international border, AND make call without complaining,” Bill said. “Even that twitchy guy, he comes through in a pinch.”

Crowds of tech, craft service, and other crew parted for the legendary Hollywood couple. They were all watching Bill and Felicity with a level of respect that both found adorable without even having to express it.

Things like that were what made their marriage strong. That, and being so into each other that spending more than two hours together without cameras or distractions inevitable led to hours and hours of sex.

Hell, they’d turned to Marcia after the fifth time Bill had pulled his groin, just to make sure they didn’t hurt each other with their big, dumb love.

“Oh my GOD! Filliam H. Muffman!” screamed one of the cast members, throwing metal horns. “Excellent!”

Bill turned a slight red shade and pressed his face against Felicity’s neck. “After we settle Sandra, I am going to open a can of whoop-ass on Stephen Colbert. Between this and the Oscars, he’s asking for it…”

Sandra was lying on the floor off-set when she got the call. She, Kate, TR, Katie, and Justin had decided that the best way to get through Ellen and Patrick’s scenes were with drinking games, and when that was the last scene being shot for the day, they didn’t bother waiting for the dailies. So Patrick and Ellen were trying hard to stay calm and serious and melodramatic, and within twenty minutes someone would be flashing them or trying to make them laugh or shouting something about Patrick’s hair.

That last someone would probably be Katie. Sandra thought. She had a weird fetish for his hair, and she couldn’t hold her liquor.

Except that Katie was remarkably calm. Even sober. She was the first one to figure out whose cell phone was going off, pluck it out of Sandra’s pocket, and answer it with a polite “Hello, you’ve reached the Korean-Canadian Actors’ Union”, even as the director yelled cut and everyone started groaning about the interruption so late in the day.

“Who is it?” Sandra asked.

Katie glanced at the face of the phone, then shrugged. “Says it’s someone from Vancouver?”

Sandra sobered up considerably. “My phone,” she said. “Gimme.”

Katie passed it over without complaint, before dissolving into giggles. Mostly, if Katie’s Drunk History was repeating itself, because the word “Vancouver” was inherently funny. Sandra decided to take it as a sign that Katie was only acting not drunk, which meant all was right with the word.

But she had more important things to deal with.

“Sandra?” the person on the other end rasped. “We may have a problem.”