"You're breaking our date so you can hang out with a bunch of actors?" Tori shrieks when Gavin tells her of his change in plans.
"It's not 'hanging out', it's an actor's workshop. I need to do this, Tori, for the role you wanted me to take."
"It's always something," she complains.
"Tori, can we just get this over with?" Gavin sighs.
"Get what over with?"
"If you're gong to break up with me, just do it," he says, "There's no point in dragging it out any longer."
Tori groans and slumps into a barstool. "I don't want to break up with you," she say, "Why would you say that? Do you want to break up?"
"I--no, of course not," Gavin says.
"Good," Tori says, smiling as she leans over the bar for a kiss, "I'm sorry I get so upset with you. I know you have to do these things for your career, I just miss being together."
As she leaves him to get ready for his workshop, Gavin realizes it had been him all along. He thought she was the one that wanted to leave, but now that she's assured of him of her intention to stay, he's not happy, not even relieved at the news.
"What exactly do you do in these workshops?" he asks Regan as they approach the apartment building.
"We practice scenes from plays. And then we discuss each other's performances."
"Like a critique," Gavin says. He's been through hundreds of those in his years of art schooling. But those were for work he was confident in presenting. "Regan, I don't know if I can do this. Perform in front of strangers..."
"That's pretty much all acting is," Regan laughs, "But you don't have to perform tonight. We'll just watch. It's probably better they get to know you a little before you let them critique you. Otherwise, the resentment might color their opinions."
"Resentment? What are you getting me into, here?"
"You're a movie star that can't act his way out of paper bag," Regan says gently, "These are theater people; you are their natural enemy."
"Maybe I should get out now," Gavin says, only half joking.
"Don't worry," she says, taking his hand and squeezing it, "You've already won me over. I'm sure you'll have them eating out of your hands in no time. Just be yourself."
They have no sets, no costumes, but they make their scenes come alive without props or staging. Drawn into their performance, Gavin finds himself transported to another time and place.
"They're so talented," he whispers to Regan as the scene concludes and he's brought back to this living room in L.A.
"You can be, too," she whispers back, "You just have to lose yourself in your character."
"Where did you get your first tattoo, then?" Stina asks as Gavin settles in to be inked. He'd asked Stina where she'd gotten her tattoos, since he wasn't familiar with the ink shops in L.A.
"Glasgow," Gavin answers, "I was visiting relatives. My cousins got me drunk and we all went out and got tattoos. Good times."
"I was thinking about changing my hair, "Gavin muses when the inking is done, "Any suggestions?"
"Sure," Stina says, "But what's up with you, Gav?"
"I just need some kind of change."
"That's cute," Stina appraises his new hairstyle, "It's not what I'd expect from you, but it looks good."
"That's the point, to be something different," Gavin answers, "So, Stina, how do you go about breaking up with someone?"
"Well, you could start by passive-aggressively getting a tattoo and haircut your girlfriend will hate, and hope she does it for you?"
"That's not--" Gavin protests. Stina raises and eyebrow at him. "Okay, you got me," he admits, "I'd rather she did it. But if she doesn't...I've never done this before. I don't want to hurt her."
"It's like pulling off a bandaid," Stina says, "It's going to hurt. But you can't go around with and old bandaid stuck to your ass forever. Just pull it off. Get it over with."
"Namo Amida Butsu," Tori intones, ending the chant with a laugh, as she sees Gavin's new tattoo for the first time.
"I wanted to get more in touch with my spirituality," Gavin explains.
"You could come to temple with me and my parents."
"I don't think..."
"I was joking," Tori laughs as she settles back into the hot tub, "They hassle me enough about you as it is. If you started coming to temple with us, they'd start making wedding plans."
"Stina took me out to her favorite ink shop," Gavin says, hoping the mention of his ex-girlfriend will get a rise out of her, "And then we got my hair done."
"It's different," Tori says, "But I think it suits you."
Gavin sighs. He's failed to provoke a fight, and finds himself unable to just come out and end it while she's being so nice and understanding. He's going to have to do something much more drastic to make her leave him.
"So I told him to just get it over with," Stina finishes telling Coby about her afternoon with Gavin while she stirs the mac'n'cheese.
"How do you do that?" Coby asks, "Just hang out with guys you dumped, like you were never more than just friends?"
Stina shrugs, "I just do," she says, "Kind of like the way you're BFFs with the guy that stole your girlfriend."
"I'm not BFFs with French," Coby says.
"You so totally are," Stina laughs, "Unless he's finally managed to seduce you and you've upgraded to lovers."
"Dude, what is it with you two? You're like evil twins or something."
"Usually there's one evil twin and one good one," Stina points out.
"No, you're both evil," Coby laughs.
"Oh, shit! Fuck!" Stina exclaims, pulling the pan of burnt noodles off the stove.
"I burnt it!" she sobs, "It's ruined!"
"Baby, it's just mac'n'cheese," Coby says, "We can order a pizza."
"But I wanted to make dinner for you," she says, tears flowing.
"Hey," he says gently, caressing her cheek, "You don't have to do that, okay? It's sweet that you want to, but that's not what you are."
"Now, let's go out and get a bite, and then come back here and make love all night."
"I'm not really all that hungry," Stina says.
"Me neither," Coby says, lifting her up and carrying her to the bedroom.
All her attempts to get Carey Burden into her bed have failed; the stripper/actress got to him first. So Astrid turned to plan B, getting the star of the movie. Being seen out in public with either one of them would be a major boost for her career. Having had Gavin before, she knows he's not the cheating type, so she expected to have to really work it to pry him away from his girlfriend's arms, but when she suggested he meet her for drinks at the Cube, he agreed right away. He even flirted with her. Something is up with Gavin, he's changed, she thinks. Whatever he's going through, it's none of her business, as long as it gets her where she wants to go.
"I'm surprised you're so willing to be friends with me, after our somewhat dramatic break up," Astrid says.
"I don't hold grudges," he answers, "It's bad for the soul."
"I'm also surprised you aren't out with your lovely girlfriend tonight," she continues, "Is there some trouble there?"
"I don't want to talk about it," he says, "And I don't want to talk about our past, either. Tonight is just...tonight."
After an hour or so of casual flirting. Astrid thinks she measured him up, what he wants, what he needs, and she prepares herself to play that role. "We met too early," she says, "I wasn't ready for you back then. And now...now I want you. I want you like I've never wanted anything, but I'm afraid I hurt you too badly to ever get you back again."
"Astrid..." Gavin starts to back away, feeling bad about what he was planing to do here.
"No," she says, putting her finger to his lips, "Don't say anything. Either kiss me, or walk away. I can't bear this doubt for another second."
Gavin is long past the point of believing anything Astrid says. He knows what she wants, and he knows that giving it to her will also get him what he wants. So he kisses her, passionately. The paparazzi are all over this club, so he makes a show of it, pressing himself against her, fondling her breasts.
Anyone who sees these pictures will have no doubts that he and Astrid are lovers.
Taking her home with him isn't strictly necessary, as the paparazzi won't be photographing this, but Gavin has committed himself to this path, and breaking up with Tori will be easier when he knows he's guilty of cheating on her.
Gavin normally likes to have his lovers spend the night with him, to sleep curled up with him and wake up to make love again in the morning. But that's the last thing he wants from Astrid, and as soon as they've finished, he hurries back into her clothes and out of his house.
"I'll see you on set," he says, watching her go.
He has changed, Astrid thinks, glancing back at him, not at all sure of what she's achieved this evening. She meant to use him to get herself in the limelight, to have the kind of media buzz that would get her better roles. She has no idea what Gavin wanted from her, but for the first time, she feels like she's the one that's been used. It's not a good feeling.
There are some more pics in the Breaking Immersion page.
Also, I have a new story blog: Summerdream