2009-06-22: "The Surprise"

Original Airdate: Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Starring: "Casper", "America"

Casper.png America.png

Notes: Casper's brother Timothy Mintey has something up his sleeve…


Patina is not a sandwich shop. It's a high-powered, highly expensive location filled with wood-paneling, low lights, and a menu full of fancy French words. The wine bar here is especially popular, with chatting people tucked bum to bum whenever there's a rush crowd waiting for a concert to start. Even the servers wear fine tailored suits.

Casper Mintey, however, does not. He looks like he's been forcibly shoved into the suit coat and button-up he's even wearing, and the jeans underneath were likely part of a long angry compromise. Across from him, we see his brother, Timothy, who also doesn't quite fit into his world but is making damn sure no one notices. Casper eyes a nearby caviar cart with disturbed curiosity as Tim rambles on about ratings and promotions and then, very suddenly, pushes out of his seat. " — What, where are you?" Casper's question follows him away as he just gives his phone a telling tap and flashes his brother a placating - and oddly excited - smile. Casper slides back low in his seat. Somehow, he always manages to get disappointed all over again every time.

Several tables away, from the angle of the bar, Casper is reflected in the minuscule circle of a mirror that can only exist in a woman's make-up compact.

Yes. The brilliant "Detective Jones" is, himself, being spied on.

The vanity-slash-spy device is slammed shut with the tip of an expensively manicured, ruby red nail and whisked expertly away into a small black clutch handbag along with a cell phone. Soon, the black patent leather high-heeled shoes of a particularly long-legged and well-dressed citizen of Los Angeles are on their way toward the table so conveniently abandoned by one of the two brothers mere seconds ago.

"Excuse me." Pan up to the face of America King, her smile so brilliant it seems capable of blinding all of Patina. Alas, the restaurant remains dim, but the same can't be said for the woman's words, which match the brightness of her smile and blue eyes. "Casper Mintey?" she says, tipping her head down slightly as if she's not sure.

The trap is simple, if well-worn by use, and snaps shut with a force reminiscent of a Venus fly variety. Our poor detective never had a chance; he's left all those bordering-on-supernatural skills of deduction back at the office. Plus, what good detective, even a play-acting one, ever stood a chance against a beautiful woman?

'I knew from the moment she walked over to me she was trouble' the line might read. But, as he is distinctly out of character, Casper's actions are less noir and more puzzled. He straightens in his seat, sliding a hand along the top of the fancy table, past that excessive amount of forks. "That's right," comes out of his mouth, and he manages a glance past her to the rest of restaurant - to where Tim has vanished - but ultimately all attention must return to that dazzling smile. Finally, he bashfully offers his own, "Can I do something for you?"

She's not a fan. The likelihood of a fan being in this environment is less than the chance Fox will air good shows past two seasons.

"I'm a fan," the woman says instantly, not a falter in that dazzling smile. Never do her eyes stop sizing Casper up with discerning eyes, a wholly different brand of perception than that of a fan's obsession. The man's identity unnecessarily confirmed, America whisks around the table toward the empty chair. "Do you mind if join you?" No? Okay, great. Without waiting for the tiniest hint of an answer, she immediately takes Tim's seat, tucking it in neatly and offers her hand across the table. "You can do something for me as soon as I do something for you." Cliché, but she can't pass up the perfect bait like that. "My name's America King. I'm with Armstrong & Associates Entertainment. Maybe you've heard of us."

Casper is full of size to be upped, but the awkward way he gestures to the chair she's sliding into and then shifts around in his leaves something to be desired in that kind of examination. There's a reason he's not out in the public eye already, and… this is probably part of it. "Um, sure, ah…" You know what, he's just going to let her get what she needs to out. But as the name comes out of her smooth-talking mouth, Casper can't catch the low groan in him before it's out. He settles forward, chin in one palm and fingers digging into the closest eye-socket wearily. "Look, uh, Miss King, was it? I'm sure you've spoken with my brother, Tim, and he's probably told you all sorts of things…"

America folds her hands on the table in front of her and leans over the table, ever-so-slightly closer to where Casper seems to want to dig his eyes out of his sockets. Remarkably, she does so without particularly ruining her posture. "Yes, he has," she says matter-of-factly, but doesn't seem put off. The woman's gaze is increasingly intense even when it's not met. Although her voice doesn't take a turn toward the unpleasant, the cheerful disposition has definitely vanished, gone the way of Tim. "Like how you think you don't need representation — and how you've been coming up with every excuse in the book to avoid it, and how you're setting yourself up to fail. Or, how you're not so good with… mm." She pauses to eye Casper up and down, one eyebrow arching up under her bangs. "People in general. I'm here to show you a different angle."

"Oh, you caught that, did you?" The wise guy appears. Cas is, after all, a comedy writer and not without his occasional quips. In his mind's eyes, Tim is hovering over America's shoulder winking and flashing double thumbs-up. It does something for the way he's able to face the woman, and the hand drops away from his. "I'm sure you're full of fantastic angles, but not needing representation is the truth. Making PJ into some kind of…" His hand raises, making tiny circles in the air to usher the right words to his mouth, "business arrangement is what started the problem in the first place." Exasperation - it taints his good-naturedness; he's gone through these words a thousand times before. There's also noticeable bristling at the mention of Fail. "Tim did it."

"I'm not sure you understand exactly what good representation could do for you." Will do for you, if America gets her way. "I'm here to tell you that all that? Doesn't matter." Her smile tightens, transforming into something of a smirk. "Your brother has the best of intentions, but… look." She glances over her shoulder before her gaze settles steadfastly on her mar— that is, potential client. "There's a reason he's not part of this meeting. I happen to know a little something about annoying brothers." She gives a casual shrug. "You're scared of Pentameter Jones getting the life sucked out of it. I get it. That would be a shame. It has a certain… charm. You don't want to lose that. Fans wouldn't want to either. A unique show like PJ, it'll either fade fast or live forever. Right now, the way I see it, it's on the edge. It has a cult following, sure, but how many people are going to remember it in five years if it your Detective Jones dies a slow and painful death? I have a soft spot for TV shows that aren't the usual crap the networks churn out. I have brought a few of their stars from the brink by helping them make the right decisions. What you have to remember, Mr. Mintey, is that you wouldn't be working for me. I would be working for you."

First of all: it's actually really, really funny to hear a gorgeous, well put-together businesswoman refer to something called 'Pentameter Jones' so seriously. It's part of the reason Casper loves the name so much. You can't get through that without a reaction. Only, she does, and Cas has to beat back a smile at her expense. That'll probably be the last time. "You're right, don't get me wrong, you're very right, but that's about what's already happened. Consider the life sucked. Me asking for more money for something that's already kind of unhappy? Isn't going to help things. What's going on on the web is already ten times more than I'd imagined making this and that's been great, and talking with the fans is spectacular, but if it goes, then it goes…" A shrug of his own. "I mean, it was only supposed to be for fun, anyway." The attitude that has slain lesser agents than the one in front of him.

You can't beat down America. "That's exactly why I want you," she says smoothly that would be, could be suggestive, if only they weren't talking about something called Pentameter Jones. "You still want to have fun even though, you're right, the show's barely breathing. I was being nice. But having fun doing your job is what this business should be about for you guys — the actors, the creators. How would you feel if everything PJ was pulled tomorrow, even from the internet? You certainly wouldn't be having fun anymore. The what'll-be-will-be attitude's only going to get you so far. I can tell you love this show. The problem is that most people don't know what the fuck Pentameter Jones is, pardon my language." From here until eternity. Consider that a warning preceding the opening of the floodgates. America sits up straighter, spreading her hands. "I wouldn't be gaining any glamorous accolades for signing you, think of this as a passion project if you go with me. I've brought back more than one cult TV star from the brink of extinction."

With a sudden whip fast gesture, America heralds the member of the wait staff assigned to the Minteys' table. "I'll have a glass of your best cabernet, and Cas here— " She looks back to her unwilling tablemate with a personable, warm smile, " —Can I call you Cas?" Back to the waiter! " —will have whatever he wants." Beam. "Thank you."

Even if it's not really suggestive, and about something called Pentameter Jones, it's still coming out of that mouth. So what is Casper's eyebrows raise dramatically and he has to tame them. The little pitch that happens next is actually sort of interesting, to which the last of Cas' tension over this meeting finally melts away from his shoulders. When he's finally sitting up in his seat again, he's gained all that height back. The first real smile breaks out at, what else, her swear word. He, in fact, snorts loudly and begins to fiddle with his fancy silverware. "You're… a lot different than the guy from Midas." Pause. "Besides, the guy thing…" After the real smile comes the next real eye-contact - achieved when she mentions 'passion project' and held until that gesture snaps the air and his gaze away.

Slowly, he does drift back to her for that smile, that question. "Please do. I like to curb the amount of 'are you friendly' comments… I'm fine, thanks." That part's to the waiter, who's already probably used to Cas' ignoring of all that fine wine.

Back to them, Casper fixes to more dominant posture in the chair - at least compared to his usual. His fingers weave together as he clasps his hands in front of him and he tilts his head with upmost curiosity at the woman across the way. "So, what's something you like about one of the episodes?"

America tosses her hair lightly and smirks, beginning to look slightly smug roundabout the mention of Midas, but the expression isn't over-the-top. It's just a confidence boost. "Don't even get me started on Midas. You wanna talk about soul-suckers…" The woman trails off. To do so is a concerted effort, but Casper did ask her a question which she intends to answer — although she twists her red-painted lips into a sly smirk first. "Are you testing me, Cas? Alright." Ms. King squares her shoulders, raising a brow. "I like that it's smart. Especially the early internet-to-TV episodes. It keeps the audience thinking without confusing the hell out of them like certain so-called cult hits floating around in the TV ocean. Plus— " America smiles, a twinkle in her mascara'd eyes. "The leading detective's pretty likeable, especially when he sings, like in the infamous Show Stopping Number — although I advise against doing that too much on FanSci."

There is absolutely no embarrassment in Casper when his question is called out. "Obvious but effective," he says for the method, underneath her preparing to answer. And it's an answer that pushes him back into his chair as he gears up to actually listen. The reaction, the way he keeps a straight face but is grinning too brightly out of his eyes, reveals a man who's still not used to hearing good things about his work. Especially right to his face. His hand swipes across his forehead at the mention of singing. His singing. "Ohhhh, why would you say that? I will never live that one down, because the fans are like— well, obviously they're crazy." Modesty becomes him. Is him. "If there's one thing I would change about why PJ took off…" Straightening his hair while his hand's still there, he thinks a moment then eyes the rest of the restaurant. The symbol of wherever his brother's hovering. "Tim thinks FanSci's a dead end."

A laugh makes its way past America's amused smile, quiet but lively. "Aw, you're cute when you're modest. No wonder your fans like you out of your detective costume, too." The waiter reappears and America takes her wine, having no qualms about sipping it although she's the only one. The gear switch back to straight business-talking is quick. The agent points at Casper around her wine glass and gives her head a shake. "FanSci doesn't exactly cater to the most versatile of audiences, but the chance of switching to a mainstream network at this point is shit. Still, I have some ideas about how to make what's good about PJ shine. I take it you don't have a manager…" She holds up her free hand. "That's okay, it's okay. Baby steps. So? What do you think? Will you think about it?"

Casper wrestles down the soft vulnerable underbelly she exposed while complimenting him so that business can happen. He scoffs a little out of lingering respect for the station mentioned but doesn't protest. She seems to have wormed her way past his frustrated, stubborn exterior faster and with less damage than others in her place before. There's a bit of skeptical squinting when she mentions ideas - he's heard that before! - but otherwise he only spreads his hands a bit helplessly, "There's Tim…" The self-proclaimed, oft-mentioned Manager Tim. Who still technically owns part of this whole endeavor, having co-created it. For his part, Casper sucks in a deep breath and glances about the room. His exhale turns into a kind of disbelieving laugh as he replies, "… Yeah, okay. Okay. I'll think about it. Thinking is not a contract." A finger pointed. He's watching you.

There's Tim. America gives a vague roll of her eyes at the brother's mention; she has Tim to thank for pushing Casper in this direction (and, you know, getting her here to be part of this little sting), but it's Casper she's most interested in, and she wants to make that clear. As she's pointed at, she takes a slow sip of her wine, eyes narrowing. She's watching you, too, mister. "Good boy. That's all I can ask for," she says as she lowers the glass, that bright smile returning to the forefront. She pries open the handbag in her lap, and from it, hands Casper a crisp white business card embossed with silver. Simple, bold lettering. America King. Armstrong & Associates. Telephone number. Basic and effective. "I'll tell your brother he can come out of hiding. Don't be too mad at him for jumping you like this with the bait and switch meeting. Hopefully it wasn't too painful for you. It was a pleasure almost doing business with you, Cas." Charm charm charm.

Okay, so, 'good boy' earns a bit of ruffled feathers, but Casper keeps up the good behavior. He leans in to accept the offer of business card, scanning the little slip of paper over once before pocketing it in his jacket. "You know, by now, this kind of thing is more expected than un. Have a nice day, Miss King." And here he actually puts out his hand again, empty, should she like to seal the almost deal with a real handshake. He doesn't balk if she does or doesn't, but nestles back into his seat, contemplating the glass of water, her wine, and then the empty plate across from him. "You know," he adds casually, "If you hold off on telling him for a few minutes, it's not like it'll ruin anything…"

Never one to eschew sealing a deal, even a tenuous one, America takes Casper's hand. Her woman's handshake a mix or businesslike and personal: warm but firm, professional but not abrupt. It lingers, just so, before she breaks away and stands up. "Deal. I'll wait until I'm around the block," she says slyly as she slides up from her seat. She leaves some cash on the table, enough for the glass of wine and then some, before she starts to power-saunter her way out of Patina.


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