Layne worked well under pressure. He could handle several projects at once, looming deadlines, perfect things down to the most minuscule detail, you name it.
However, it wasn’t unusual for him to neglect his own health to focus on his work, which is how he found himself about to record a new VoicePlay music video while feeling absolutely terrible.
It was almost time to film and Layne was sitting out of the way of the crew, drinking coffee, sending emails, and trying to ignore the headache that was definitely going to mess with his rhythm. He knew it was his own fault for overexerting himself, but he and Tony had been working overtime on PattyCake Productions with both their own projects and client projects, and he had also been tasked with arranging the music for this VoicePlay video. Every free moment was spent on work, and he had barely been able to see his family.
Geoff called everyone to set, so Layne put his phone on the table next to him and followed. Eli was putting the finishing touches on the lighting with the crew, and he quickly bounded over to take his place, Earl and J None heading into the room while talking to each other and laughing.
Layne sat down in his usual spot next to Geoff, combing a hand through his hair and hoping that the light makeup would miraculously hide his utter exhaustion. There was no doubt that he looked awful. He was running on a handful of hours of sleep over the past week, and he was certain that his blood was 95% coffee.
“You okay, Layne?” Earl asked, tapping him on the shoulder.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m good,” Layne replied. His headache was getting worse, but he was determined to push it through to at least get the video done first. Afterwards, he would most definitely end up collapsing into bed, but for now he had to focus on work for just a little bit longer.
The director checked that all the systems were working and got the thumbs up from Paul, then turned to the guys.
“Alright, let’s take it from the top. Whenever you’re ready.”
“Mark slate - take one.”
Layne started the beat, and internally winced at the fact that it took more effort than it should have to maintain the tempo. Luckily, the song wasn’t very dependant on Layne, but he was still struggling to keep in time with the main vocals and not let his headache make him look as bad as he felt.
Midway through the song, the pounding in his head increased and Layne was doing all he could to keep the song going, when everything suddenly went silent. Eli, Earl, Jay, and Geoff’s mouths were moving, but Layne couldn’t hear their voices, and a high pitched whine began shrieking in his ears. He stopped beatboxing, mostly out of shock, and looked over at Geoff, confusion filling his eyes.
Geoff was saying something to him, but all Layne could hear was the steady thumping in his head and the whining in his ear, his fingers shaking as he pressed a hand to his ear. He tried to read Geoff’s lips, which didn’t work, then tried saying something back, which also didn’t work.
The last thing he saw was Geoff looking panicked and reaching out to him, before his vision went out of focus and he blacked out.
“Fuck!” Earl exclaimed, just managing to catch Layne as he pitched out of his chair. J helped Earl lower him onto the ground, backing off to let Geoff check him over. The crew was hovering just around the edge of the set, fluttering around uncertainly.
“Eli, can you get some water? J, can you tell the crew to give us ten minutes while we get this sorted?” Geoff directed, putting a hand on Layne’s forehead and two fingers to his neck. The two men hurried off, leaving Earl and Geoff to tend to Layne.
“Is he okay?” Earl asked, looking to Geoff with concern.
Geoff sighed, clearly flustered. “Yeah, I think it’s exhaustion. He should be fine, and’ll probably wake up soon.”
As if cued, Layne’s eyes opened and he blinked, staring up at the ceiling. He attempted to sit up and was immediately pushed back down by Geoff.
“Nope, you’re staying down,” he said, feeling his forehead again.
“I’m okay, can I at least sit up?” Layne asked, batting away Geoff’s hand. He could hear again, and he felt normal. Maybe a tad lightheaded, but he wasn’t about to let that interfere with filming more than he already had.
“Five minutes and I’ll consider it.”
In spite of the dark circles under his eyes and his position on the floor, Layne managed a fairly impressive death glare. “I’m not kidding Geoff, we have to get this done or everything will be pushed back, and then I won’t be able to direct with Tony tomorrow.”
“You need rest, I’m sure we can find time to film this another day,” Earl chimed in. “The fans will understand, dude.”
Layne huffed, closing his eyes again. His pride wouldn’t let him admit that everything was spinning, but he was also tempted to let his friends take care of the video and give him some time to reset.
“I’m really okay, can we film now?” He insisted, succeeding in sitting up at the cost of his balance. He had to brace himself against the chair in order to stay upright, but he refused to continue delaying the shoot.
Eli returned with a cup of water, glancing at Layne with worry evident on his face.
Waving away the offered drink, Layne smiled unconvincingly. “Guys, I’m alright. This-”
Earl cut him off by shaking his head and taking out his phone. “Nope. I’m calling Tony to make sure you take tomorrow off.”
Making a noise of offence, Layne furrowed his brow. How were they going to finish all their projects in time? Not to mention having to reschedule the filming for the video, which was apparently being cancelled for the day.
“Hey, take some time for yourself and your family,” Eli suggested lightly. “I get that you want to work hard, but theres a fine line between working hard and overworking.”
Geoff nodded in agreement, crouched next to Layne while Eli stood a short distance from them. J was still talking with the crew, but it was evident that he was keeping an eye on the group. True to his word, Earl was off to the side, on the phone with Tony.
“I’m not overworking.” Layne frowned, very aware of how much time was passing while he sat on the floor like a child.
“You just fainted,” Geoff pointed out.
“Come on, let’s get you home,” Eli said sympathetically, offering a hand in assistance. “We can deal with the video, just rest up and take care of yourself, okay?”
Layne sighed in defeat, accepting the hand and getting hoisted to his feet. He blinked away the spots in his vision, taking the water when it was once again offered to him.
Almost like bodyguards (albeit a very small one in Eli’s case), the four other singers escorted Layne off the set. Geoff volunteered to drive him home, and Layne found himself drifting into unconsciousness once more in the passenger side of the car.
He was almost asleep when he heard Geoff talking quietly, probably thinking that he was sleeping.
“I hope you do take care of yourself, buddy. Your health is more important than any content. You aren’t a robot, you need breaks and not everything has to be perfect. I think that you and Tony are doing an incredible job with Pattycake Productions, and you do so much for us. Just…” Geoff paused.
“You’re more than enough. I hope you know that, and I hope you know that me and the guys are always going to be with you if you need us. You scared me today, and I’m pretty sure it scared Earl, Eli, and J as well. You deserve a break, bud. Be gentle with yourself, okay? The way you are with us and Tony and your family.”
Another beat of silence.
“It’ll be okay. The video and your work, that is. Spend time with Cyndi and the kids, you more than deserve it.”
Layne waited to see if Geoff was going to say anything else, but all he could hear was quiet humming. He let himself succumb to sleep, okay with the fact that he had unfinished projects for once.
It would be alright.