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Life, Actually

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"Will you marry me?"



"Did Sam get off from the airport all right?" Karen asked as soon as Daniel answered the phone.

"Heh, yes." Daniel leaned against the counter, looking at the sleek fridge and the pictures of their family there. "I should get a call from Joanna's mum in a few hours to let me know that they picked him up."

"Good." Karen had that 'up to something' tone in her voice, and Daniel winced in anticipation.

"Well, you know how excited he was," he began, trying to head her off.

"Of course."

"More than last summer, even. I think they're going on a bit of a roadtrip this time."

"Yes. So..." And there was the dreaded 'so' he had been expecting. "How are things with you and Carol?"

Daniel sighed. "It isn't the same."

"Who said it would be?" Karen fired back.

"I know, I know, but I just... I thought I'd feel that spark again. She's got it in the looks department, but I just don't feel... don't feel..."


"Yeah." Daniel slumped against the counter. How pathetic was he to have a beautiful woman, on par with his legendary Claudia Schiffer, willing to go out with him, and he wasn't feeling enough passion for her in return?

"Well, that isn't unexpected," Karen began. "I mean, it's only been a year and a half since Joanna. Maybe you just need time."

He wasn't sure about that, but Karen was in matchmaker mode, and he knew better than to fight her outright. "Yeah."

"And what about Sam and her son?" Karen pressed.

"Tommy. They're friends, sort of. Neither one is really looking to become brothers with the other, if that's what you mean."

"Oh," Karen sounded a bit disappointed, and Daniel was suddenly very grateful that Sam was far away in America at the moment, rather than here within conspiring range of his best friend.


"Now we turn to Number 10, where the Prime Minister and Natalie Rosen were again seen going out for dinner in a fancy restaurant. Emma?"

"That's right, and the question around town is, when is the Prime Minister going to, as they say, put a ring on that? Tabloids have been reporting a hint of a baby bump on Miss Rosen for a few months now, though his assistant Annie Murdoch has categorically denied any such news."

"Yes, she's been quite clear on that, more than once."

"But still. He and Natalie have been together, publicly, for about eighteen months now, with no sign of it flagging. So we have to ask, Mister Prime Minister, when are you going to finally pop the question?"


"Tony, go get the extras, yeah?"

"Yeah." Tony slipped away from the set and into the cafe across the street, where the extras were being kept out of the rain. He glanced around at the group, who were all roughly in the same age range as himself, and was about to call their attention when he spied a familiar face near the window. He was pretty good with faces, but so bad with names.

Before he could call the group to order, the man noticed him and smiled. A second later his companion looked over, and suddenly it clicked into place. Jack! Jack and Judy! He had worked with Judy on another movie, just last fall, and they had chatted a bit between takes. Of course, it might have been because both of them were wearing clothes - it always took him an extra moment to place the nude stand-ins when they were fully dressed.

Judy turned completely and they began to walk towards him, catching Tony with another shock. "When did that happen?" he asked as they drew nearer, waving his hand at Judy's protruding belly.

"About six months ago!" Judy declared cheerfully.

"Wow! Congratulations!" Tony gave her a quick hug. "And to you!" Jack shook his hand.

"Wow! So is that why you weren't up for the sequel?" It hadn't been important at the time, but seeing her reminded him of a conversation he had overheard with the director a few days ago about needing a new double for the second instalment of the Warwick series.

Judy giggled. "Yeah!"

"That's fantastic, you two!" Tony was about to ask more, but his mobile buzzed. "Oh, hang on a sec."

Turning back to the crowd, he cupped his hands around his mouth. "Extras, please follow me now!"

As the crowd gathered around him, Jack nodded and mouthed "We'll talk later!"


"Hey Harry, is it? This is Jamie, Sarah's friend. I believe I spoke to your wife before. Look, I just wanted to let you know that I passed your son's story – the one about seeing people's farts? -- on to an editor friend of mine and she just got back to me. She loved it, and she really does want to do something with it. So she's going to make some calls, and get back to us. So I'll let you know what she says."


"Sarah's here," Ellie announced, poking her head into Harry's office.

"Ah, good. Send her in."

"Hi Boss." Sarah held up her mobile. "It's off."

Harry took his office phone off the hook. "Good." It was part of their deal, suggested by her therapist. If she had to turn off her mobile, so did he. "So, how are things coming with Dr. Simone?"

"Good! Good!" Sarah nodded.

"And she's helping you?" He didn't want to go into specifics - wasn't even sure what the specifics were, really, but he needed to check up on her.

"Yes. We're doing - we're making great… I mean-"

Harry held up a hand to stop her. "Good, good. I just wanted to check." There was a bit of a pause before he continued. "So, just so you know, Karl will be back from the Iceland project in two weeks."

Sarah was so easy to read, the poor thing. But she had been making great progress with Juliet's therapist friend. "Oh, that's- thanks... that's good to know."

Harry nodded. He honestly wouldn't insert himself into his employee's personal lives if he didn't have to, but Karen was determined to see Karl and Sarah together some day.

"So, uh, is that?"

"Yeah, that's all," he quickly replied, just as grateful to let the conversation drop for now.

"Great. Thanks Boss!"


"So here's a fun piece of news! Some of you might recall Billy Mack, the singer who has been making a name for himself in a career turnabout. Once a hard rocker, his new album of acoustic songs is doing fairly well on the charts. Well, today it was announced that he would be performing at Pride London! What does this mean for the rumors that he's bisexual, and involved with another man? I guess we'll find out!"


"I'm home!" Juliet called, running up the stairs.

"We're up here!" Peter called.

She reached the living room and found Peter and Mark sprawled across the couch, battling it out on Peter's game system. "Hello!" She gave Mark a quick hug and then kissed Peter on the back of the head.

"How was your lunch date?" he asked as she went to drop her bags on the bed.

"Oh, it was fantastic, actually!" Juliet called back. She pulled off her coat and hung it up in the closet. "Sarah – you remember, I told you about her – from work, she kept her mobile off the entire time! I mean, it's amazing the progress she's made!"

"Yeah?" Peter replied.

Juliet tucked her Harrods bags into her closet to empty later. "Yeah! She called her brother for a moment before we went out shopping, and then she kept it off again! I was so proud of her!"

"That's great."

Juliet popped back into the living room and found Peter still playing with Mark. "You weren't listening to a thing I said, were you?" she plunked down onto his lap, deliberately blocking his view of the telly.

There was a crashing noise from the screen and Mark whooped. "No, I was listening!" Peter hurriedly declared. "Sarah was great. You bought a lot."

"Not that much!" Juliet lightly slapped him. "Anyway, I hope you boys stopped by the grocer earlier."

"We did!" Mark declared.

"Good. Jamie and Aurelia will be here in a few hours. Mark, are you staying?"

"Uuhh, yeah, sure. Yeah."

"Great!" Juliet gave Peter another quick kiss and then jumped back up. "All right, you two have fun then while I make the salad."


"So, how was your day? Did you hear anything from David?"

"Natalie called me!"

Harry nodded. That was a far more likely occurrence than his brother-in-law actually talking to her. "And?"

"David actually asked her to marry him!"

"Did he now?"

"Yes! She wanted to call me, so that I'd find out before the official announcement." Karen passed him the green bean casserole. "Wasn't that sweet of her?"


"It's about time, I was telling her. Not that he's been with her for that long, really, but he's just really gotten to that age where he should already have been married." Karen was in a good mood, which he was happy about. "So I congratulated her, of course, and I promised we wouldn't tell anyone before the official announcement, and she promised that we would be invited to the wedding."

"You would hope so," Harry added. Though David had distanced himself from the family as his political ambitions grew, it had never been a malicious thing, just a David thing. Still, Natalie had been good for him - his appearance at that year's Christmas pageant notwithstanding, he had still come by a few times in the last year to see Karen, or the kids, usually with Natalie at his side. Harry had been expecting a proposal for quite a while now, though Karen had still held a little hope that he would find someone a little closer to his own age.

"She invited us around to Number 10 for dinner to celebrate, but I told her it would have to wait until this weekend, when the kids are back."

Harry bit back a groan at the prospect of a grand, stuffy dinner. "That sounds fine."


"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred, and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends."

"You have seen me at Heathrow many times, coming and going. And I'm sure most of you will probably remember a few years ago when I was, for the first time, greeted at the airport in a very special way." David couldn't stop a small smile at the memory, though he had been a bit more startled than amused at the time. Natalie had never had much regard for his Prime Minister-ish dignity, as Karen called it.

Wiping his expression, he quickly continued. "So, it might not come as much of a surprise to you that my personal life has reached a point of change. Recently, I asked Natalie to marry me, and she said yes."

The reporters immediately began shouting questions, but David stepped back, as they had originally planned, and Annie stepped forward. She would answer as much as she felt they needed to know – honestly, she was better at protecting his privacy than David was - and keep the others in line when they wanted more details. She truly was a godsend, that girl.

"Prime Minister! Is Natalie pregnant?" Annie glared at the man as David and Natalie discreetly ducked away.

"Karen said she'd be around this weekend, when the kids are back." Natalie told him as they slipped down the hall.

"Ah, wonderful." David really did like his sister, but he simply hadn't seen as much of her once his political career took off. Still, it would be nice to have a dinner with the family, and see Daisy and Bernie again. They grew and changed so quickly at this age.

"And my family is going to come around next week," Natalie continued, flopping down onto the bed.

David was going to reply, but she looked so inviting, sprawled there, that he had to pounce instead. "So, Miss Rosen," he teased between kisses, "are you willing to become a Prime Minister's wife?"

Between kisses, Natalie grinned. "Fuck yes, David!"