"She...She has decided she no longer loves me."
"Okay, Gavin, I need you to dial it back a little. You're hurting, but it's something you're used to by now, something you were expecting. All your relationships have ended this way, this is just the latest in a long series of heartbreaks," Carey gives his actor some much needed direction.
Gavin looks up the director, and for moment confuses his own life and the part he is playing, "How do you know that?" he asks.
"Because I've read the whole Sandman series over and again," Carey answers, "Now, again, but with less angst, more resignation. You knew she was going to break your heart."
"This is foolish...Why do I hurt so? I scarcely knew her. A handful of months, little more..."
Gavin is not cut out for acting, that fact becomes clearer every day. But this scene on a fake castle balcony in front of a green screen, this scene speaks to him, and he finally understands why he was chosen to play this role. They all leave him, he never understands why, what went wrong, what he did, they just decide they no longer love him, and leave.
"I would have given her worlds of her own, strung like sapphires and emeralds on a silken cord. I would have given her..."
He does everything he can for them, flowers, attention, poetry. But it's never enough.
"I keep thinking of her eyes, toward the end. Cold eyes, weighing me dispassionately, finding me wanting...And in the end, she told me. But I knew before she told me. It was there in her eyes."
He could already see it coming, Tori was growing tired of him. Little things were annoying her more and more, and there was always a new reason to fight.
"She had decided she no longer loved me."
One single tear rolls down Gavin's cheek as he finishes the last line, mourning the relationship he knows will end in a week, maybe two, depending on how long Tori wants to drag it out.
"Cut!" Carey shouts out, "That was beautiful, Gavin. That tear at the end was a nice touch."
"You had a real breakthrough out there today."
Gavin lifts his head off the dressing table and tries to look nonchalant. "Do I know you?" he asks, not recognizing the redhead.
"Regan Foster," she introduces herself with a laugh, "I play what passes for the villain in this film, Desire. We've only talked in costume. Great job out there today, you really nailed it."
"I wasn't acting," Gavin says as Regan pulls a chair out next to him, "I'm trying...but I'm really just never going to be an actor."
"Right, I heard about that, Carey discovered you at some party," Regan says, hiding the contempt that she and everyone on this set has for him because of it. They've all had to work their way up to this, and he's just had a starring role handed to him, and he's making a total mess of it with his ineptitude, "But you did great today, you're really starting to pick it up."
"Thanks," Gavin sighs, knowing it was a fluke. He just happened to be emotionally aligned to the script today; he didn't have to act, he only had to feel.
"So, we have a scene together in a few days, I was hoping we could get together to rehearse it," Regan says, "I don't like going out on set with an actor I haven't worked with. And maybe I could coach you a little," she smiles helpfully.
"Astrid has been coaching me," Gavin tells her, "It hasn't really been helping."
"Astrid's a selfish cunt," Regan warns, "The only thing she's helping is herself into your bed. Watch out for her."
"No worries there," Gavin laughs, "She's already been in my bed."
Regan bites her lip, "Sorry, I didn't know..."
"Not recently," Gavin corrects her assumption, "We dated when I was an undergrad. I don't think she'd be interested in starting anything back up again."
"You're a movie star now, so, yes, she'd be interested. Watch yourself, Gavin, she's a user."
"You've worked with Astrid before?"
"A few times. I mostly do theater, though. Less pressure to get my tits done there. But Astrid's pretty well known for trying to climb to the top by any means necessary."
"Well, thanks for the warning, but I'm safe. I have a girlfriend, and I wouldn't..." Gavin trails off, knowing Tori isn't going to be around much longer. They have a date tonight, but he's already seen it coming, she's just waiting for the right moment, the right excuse to break it off. "I'm free this afternoon if you want to go over our scene," he changes the subject.
Gavin invites Regan to his new house for their rehearsal. He's no actor, but pretending to be one has made him suddenly wealthy.
"What are you doing?" he asks as Regan stretches herself out on his couch, "I thought you wanted to rehearse."
"Desire is lounging on its heart thing during this scene," Regan says, "I'm improvising the best I can, since you don't actually have a giant human heart for me to sit on. So let's get on with it."
"And I suppose you had nothing to do with my recent troubles?"
Regan gestures with an imaginary cigarette, "Your little affair and its messy ending? I hate to disappoint you, Dream, but you managed to screw that up all on your own. Although I did find it extremely amusing."
Regan looks up at him and laughs when they've gone through the scene for a third time, "You're lucky your character is pretty much a walking plank of wood. You have zero emotional range."
"I told you, I'm not an actor."
"What are you, then?" she asks.
"I'm an artist," he says, "All this time while were rehearsing lines, I've just been thinking about how much I want to paint you."
"That's your way of trying to get me to take off my clothes?" she laughs.
"Not all. You have an amazing face. Your cheekbones, the curve of your lips...I just want to paint your face."
"Okay, let's do it," Regan says, warming up to him. On set, he's something of a joke, and she'd almost decided to forgo even trying to rehearse with him. But she's glad she did, even if it's only to get to know him as a person. "Let's see your real talent."
Tori came in expecting Gavin to be ready for their date this evening, and finds him instead in his studio. With another woman.
"Hey, Tori," he says absently when he notices her standing there, "This is Regan. She---"
"Don't 'hey Tori' me!" she shouts, interrupting him. Regan decides that this is a good time to slip out quietly.
"We have a date tonight!" she shouts at him, "And you're not even ready!"
"I'll get ready," Gavin answers, walking past her toward the bedroom.
Tori follows him. "I don't like coming here and finding you with another woman," she says.
Gavin turns on her, "I was painting her, Tori, I wasn't 'with' her. You're just looking for a reason to start a fight."
"I don't need to find reasons, Gavin, you give me an endless supply of them," she shouts back at him, "First it was that ex-girlfriend that you were always mooning over. Now, every time I see you, you've got an actress hanging all over you."
"Tori, you're exaggerating. Regan wasn't--"
Tori turns away from him before he an finish, "I don't want to go out with you tonight," she says as she heads out the door, "I'm going out with my friends."
Gavin watches her go, and doesn't try to stop her. It's already over, he thinks, she just hasn't realized it yet.
The lines in italics are from The Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman