Cosmo sighed as he pulled his car to the curb, listening to it chug sadly as the valet took the keys to drive it away. It had been one week since the release of Don Lockwood's latest picture Singin' in the Rain, also starring Kathy Seldon. The duo were still inseparable, as in love as they had been during the Duelling Cavalier and almost twice as popular as the Lockwood and Lamont duo. Cosmo of course was genuinely overjoyed for his friends, secretly expecting an engagement for them any time soon.
"What's the matter, Cos?" Don asked with genuine concern as Cosmo wandered into the hall, turning into the large room that R.F. always held his events in. A ballroom of sorts, Cosmo thought to himself, filled with the same people we always see, flaunting the same jokes and the same tricks, all discussing the picture and how they can get themselves into the next one.
"Nothing Don," Cosmo smiled and clapped him on the back, "say, where is Kathy? She isn't going to pop out of the cake is she?"
"No, nothing like that," Don laughed and fiddled with his cufflinks, an old habit he had picked up out of the nervousness for his first picture, "I think she's arriving with the chorus girls, some of her old friends wanted to catch up with her."
"Ah yes, the lovely ladies of the Coconut Grove," Cosmo put on a bit of an accent and twitched his fingers up close to his face, "dancing and singing their way into our hearts, or at lest they try to get into our hearts; they're definitely trying to get into our pictures!"
"Oh Cos, you crack me up," Don chuckled and watched three or four of the girls walk in with Kathy, quickly giving his oldest friend a nudge, "hey, why don't I get Kathy to set you up huh? I'm sure she'll know someone for ya, Cos!"
Cosmo smiled but shook his head at his friend, already anticipating the night's events and growing slightly tired. Perhaps if he stuck close enough to R.F he wouldn't have to waste any of his time talking to some pretty girl only interested in his connections, "thanks but no thanks Don, you know me, I'm set up all single and lonely so I can write me that symphony I've been meaning to pen."
"Well whatever you say, but the offer will stand," Don smiled and turned towards the group of girls, Kathy already eyeing Don as she chatted with her friends, obviously wanting to talk to him about the success of the picture so far, "and if you'll excuse me..."
"Sure, no worries," Cosmo said to the air in front of him as Don strolled away, giant Hollywood smile on his features and white suit almost shining in the bright light of the place. Sometimes Cosmo found it hard o be friends with Don, now that he was so big and flighty in the movie circles. But despite all the flashy suits and dames Don Lockwood was and always would be his oldest friend. After all, Cos thought to himself as he watched Don an Kathy smile at each other in the most private spot they could find amongst all the people that were streaming in, it's not every guy that takes his friends with him to the top!
"Well done on the picture," Cosmo turned to shake hands with R.F. accustomed to the mans sudden appearances and short speeches, "excellent work Cosmo, couldn't have done it without you!"
"Why thanks R.F., I did do it without you, but I guess next time I should run some things by your office," he smiled kindly and let go of the older man's hand, watching him laugh and laughing along with him, "seriously though it was a good project, can't wait for the next one!"
"Ah yes, well we already have something in the works," R.F. was already beginning to head off, stepping to and fro on the spot and extending his hand to an investor as they passed, "be in my office on Monday and I'll discuss it with you. Terrific work again!"
Cosmo smiled and took a step backwards, almost tripping over his own feet to avoid further collision with the shorter body he had inadvertently collided with, "I am so sor–"
"Oh no, really it was my fault," the young woman was reaching for her purse on the ground as Cosmo turned around, gaining only a glimpse of pale white skin and dark hair before she was rising to her feet, "I thought I could duck around you quickly but obviously..."
Her voice trailed off as she looked up and found him staring at her, a tall light haired man with a lovely grey suit, hands tucked into his pockets and smile hanging slightly lopsided on his face, "yes, obviously not. I apologise though, I should look where I'm going before I go there."
"Well that goes double for me I guess," the girl laughed and then seemed to remember herself, dark blue eyes showing the smile she wore as she took in their surroundings and gestured between them, "anyway, I'm sorry if I've kept you from something, I'll look where I'm going for the rest of the night."
"No really, it was my fault, walking backwards is killer on the heels anyway," Cosmo felt his own smile widen as he took in the girl before him, though quite beautiful for once he seemed faced with a girl that wasn't merely interested in a movie role. As he discovered his interest he turned up the charm, leaning towards her and grinning cheekily, "it was a pleasure running into you Ms...?"
"Well I'm Dana," she smiled enthusiastically at him and offered her hand, nodding at him to take it as he shuffled a step closer, "Dana Mercy."
"Well I'm certainly at yours," he smiled mischievously and leant further into her personal space, arm poised higher than her head against a nearby pillar of white marble, so that he had just enough support to lean down and wink at her, "mercy, I mean. And it was a genuine pleasure running into you Ms Mercy; literally."
She shook his hand and looked down and away from him, smiling uncomfortably at his dramatics. But with all of Don's success Cosmo determinedly kept up his position, aiming for a softer touch when she looked back towards him, cheerful again, "and who am I speaking to?"
"Oh, I'm Cosmo," he beamed at her and moved back a little, gesturing towards his chest with two thumbs, "I'm a friend of Don Lockwood's."
"My sister loves his pictures," Dana smiled politely and then seemed to remember herself again; Cosmo was becoming charmed by the habit, "but wait, Cosmo what? What's your last name?"
Cosmo leant his back against the pillar and turned his head towards her, matching her height with his slouch as he settled into his usual habits, "last name? Maybe I don't have one."
"Don't have-?" Dana moved from the pillar to look at him incredulously, smile still on her face, "but how can you not have one? That's impossible! Nobody would know what to call you."
"Impossible?" Cosmo gave a shocked expression and leapt away from the pillar, hand held dramatically to his heart, "Oh dear lord you have forsaken this girl. Impossible! Nothing is impossible," he grinned at her as she laughed and held one arm out to his side theatrically, "not where I work anyway. We take people off the street, send them back in time, teach monkeys how to talk, talkers how to dance, and then dancers how to act like monkeys!"
"Sounds wonderful," he listened to Dana laugh and smiled to himself, watching her place her hands behind her back and walk over to him, "and where is it you work Mr Nothing?"
"Well well, Mr Nothing, am I now?" he crossed his arms and smiled at her attitude, enjoying the way her enthusiasm seemed undeterred and revelling in a woman who could hold her own in a conversation, instead of simpering at him for some kind of favour. Her lips turned up slightly in the corners making her look as if she was always smiling, and Cosmo noticed the beauty of her as she turned to brush away a strand of hair. As she turned back to look at him Cosmo noticed that she was genuinely shy, and giving her a large grin, decided he definitely liked this broad.
"Well what else do you call a man whose last name is... nothing?"
"I suppose you have a point, Ms Mercy," she smiled shyly again as he spoke, and elegantly he gestured towards a wall which they walked to, "we sure could use someone like you over at Monumental Pictures. That's where I work you see; Mr Cosmo Nothing, head of the Music Department!"
"Why Mr Nothing that's wonderful!" Dana smiled and turned to lean against the wall, looking up at Cosmo through her eyelashes as he did the same, "and friends with Mr Lockwood too, one wonders how you'd ever have time to talk to someone like me."
"Oh, I think anybody would make time for you Ms Mercy," he smiled down at her and tucked his hands into the pockets of his suit pants, watching Don and Kathy as they spoke to some of the guys and gals from their new picture, looking back to Dana in what was becoming a genuine moment, and one of the best conversations he's had all day, "I certainly would."
"Well I'm glad," Dana smiled softly and Cosmo almost audibly gulped, suddenly nervous as the lights began to dim in the room around them, and Dana turned towards him as if to say something, "because you know, I–"
"Attention everybody," Cosmo bit the inside of his lip as Dana turned towards the front of the room, Don's voice ringing throughout the space as Kathy stood happily to his side. Of course his moment would be interrupted by Don, "Kathy and I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone for coming tonight, to celebrate the release of our newest picture Singin' in the Rain."
Cosmo stood with his arms crossed, leaning against the wall as the crowd applauded, smiling at Dana as she turned excitedly to look at him. The rest of the speech seemed lost to Cosmo as he watched the woman before him, dark hair perfectly curled against her head and fashioned in a tight up-do on the back of her head. Her slim figure was complimented by the pale blue dress she wore, and her pale skin seemed to glow with her excitement as she clapped along with the crowd during all their cues.
"Oh wasn't it wonderful!" Dana chimed excitedly at him as he applauded the final word and the lights rose back on, "one of the most wonderful musicals I've ever seen. And that Mr Lockwood seems awfully nice."
"Oh he's a card alright," Cosmo said quietly as he held back his frustration at their conversation being interrupted before, "but I am partial to the movie."
"Oh my, I just realised," Dana covered her mouth quickly and shook her head, holding back laughter at her own forgetfulness, "you must have done all the music! Why, Cosmo it was lovely."
Cosmo blushed and put a hand to the back of his neck, rubbing at his hair as he looked at the ground, "Why thank you, but Dana, what were you going to say before?"
"Before?" her smile fell from her face to be replaced by a look of concentration as her fingers gripped at her own chin as she tried to remember, "oh let me see, we were talking about something..."
"Dana!" Cosmo raised his eyes to the sky and smacked his head against the wall as Dana turned away from him again, this time to the calls of a young woman as she made her way across the room in a similar styled pink dress, "Dana the party is almost over, I think we should head home."
Dana turned to Cosmo and then back to the girl, making to protest but quieting down as the woman indicated the time, "Oh I guess you're right, I'll meet you outside."
"Alright," the woman looked pointedly at Cosmo and then back to Dana, disapproval spread all across her features, "I'll give you five minutes."
The woman wove her way back into the crowd, right past Don whom Cosmo turned away from and shadowed his face, trying not to be spotted and pulled away too early himself, "she certainly seemed stern."
"Oh it's not her fault," Dana smiled a bit sadly at Cosmo as he turned back to give her his full attention, Don seemingly looking for him in the other direction, "and I don't mind, I don't really enjoy these things usually."
"Why not?" Cosmo had never really met a girl at these parties that hadn't been there to enjoy herself or find her way into acting somehow, "are you opposed to a little bit of fun?"
"Why Mr Nothing, you aren't accusing me of being boring are you?" She held a hand to her heart as she looked at him, mock offended as he held his hands up in front of him in surrender, smiling, "I assure you I have fun. Just not really at these parties, you're probably the first gentleman who hasn't offered to get me into a movie or play... as a way of getting other things anyway."
"I wouldn't have dreamed of it," Cosmo smiled again, secretly congratulating himself on the fact he had gone with another tactic tonight, "I really am glad I met you Dana Mercy."
Dana beamed and then looked at her feet, raising her gaze to meet his and say something just as the woman from before appeared once again, calling her name, "Dana, we have to go, I've got the car waiting outside!"
"Sorry," she smiled sadly at Cosmo as he moved forward to take her hand, just missing her as she stepped back and turned to go, "it was wonderful meeting you. Mr Nothing."
"But I don't have your number," Cosmo said to her retreating figure, well aware that by now the noise of the departing crowd would have downed him out, "Miss Mercy."
"Ms Who?" Don Lockwood patted his best friend on the back, finally locating him against the back wall of the room, partly concealed by the shadow of a giant white marble pillar, "what are ya doin' Cos? I've barely seen you all night!"
"Nowhere Don, just listening to your speeches, very well timed as usual," Cosmo let out the sarcasm and sighed, looking at his friend as his arm left his shoulder to fix his cufflinks, "congrats on the movie though. You and Cathy are gonna be big! Bigger than Lina's ego ever was!"
"Well we hope so," Don laughed, Cosmo's earlier comment not phasing him in the slightest, "come on Cos, we have to go, Kathy is waiting for us with some of the chorus girls outside."
"Sure thing buddy," Cosmo let his friend guide him through the crowd with a hand on his shoulder, politely greeting both Kathy and the chorus girls as they arrived outside, all the while thinking about Dana Mercy.
Once again, constructive criticism and any feedback is really appreciated!
"Cosmo? Cosmo, what's the matter with you?" Kathy turned from the papers she was shuffling at the table next to Cosmo's piano and glanced at the man briefly, "I'm sure you haven't heard a word I've said all morning."
"Kathy, that's not true," Cosmo flipped the page of the music book resting on his stand and then back towards the latest musical sensation herself, "I distinctly remember you saying hello to me when you came in!"
"Very funny, Cos," she gave a small flutter of a laugh and then lifted her now neat stack of papers, holding them to her chest and sitting lightly on the side of the table and smiling at the pianist, "what's the matter though? Don says you've been acting distracted all week since R.F's party. Didn't you enjoy yourself?"
"Oh of course not, this life of high class, high fun and high society is much too dull for me now," Cosmo spun off of his stool and jumped towards Kathy, prying her hands away from her papers and spinning her around as they fluttered to the ground at their feet, "I don't think this nice salary and these nice clothes are for me at all. I'd much rather be turned out onto the street to beg for the change to see your next picture, my art would surely improve for it!"
Kathy laughed and leant back into a low dip before rising up and shuffling back from the musician, "Without you Cosmo there would be no next picture."
"Aw, come on now!" Cosmo pulled at his tie and smiled down at his feet a second, walking towards Kathy with his arms held out and rubbing her shoulders smiling warmly, "Kathy you are far too nice for a woman so talented and so beautiful. You have talent enough for a million pictures with or without me."
Kathy smiled and leant forward onto Cosmo's shoulder, rocking slowly from side to side as if they were going to dance, "thanks, Cos."
"Well you're very welcome," Cosmo smiled as Kathy's hair rested against his cheek, holding her hand and her waist more formally as they swayed on the spot in the middle of the room, empty but for the piano and the table that stood to their right, "hey Kathy, what made you go for a guy like Don?"
"Oh, I don't know," Kathy gave a fluttering laugh and continued to sway, and Cosmo could feel her smiling against his chest, "he was handsome and he always seemed so genuine in his interviews before I met him. When I finally did, well, through all that front the two of us put on, I could tell he was genuine underneath. I think it's like they show you in all those pictures; you feel a spark and then nothing can separate you after that, not really."
Cosmo gave a short laugh and smiled to himself as Kathy lifted her head to look at his face, "nothing! Funny you should mention the word."
"Okay people! Let's wrap it up from there," Roscoe bit his lip as the director shouted to himself in the corner, ordering people back and forwards as extras scattered quickly from the set, "Don! Hey, Don!"
"What can I do for you, Roscoe?" Don flashed a winning smile as he undid the button on his gloves and pulled them off, "what's up with Max over there? What are we cutting for?"
Roscoe twisted up his face and rubbed at the back of his neck with an absent hand, "look Don, he isn't happy with the music we've got goin'. Can you talk to Cos for me? I think I better go calm him down."
"Yeah... sure thing," Don spared a look over his shoulder at Cosmo seated by the piano, absently flipping through his music book and writing in corrections he assumed, "hey Roscoe, I'll get it sorted, don't worry about it."
"Thanks Don," Roscoe started to back away, turning to take care of Max's temper, "say hi to Cos for me."
Don nodded and smiled again, turning to walk towards the piano with a frown for his friend. Something wasn't right with Cosmo lately; Don just couldn't quite put his finger on it.
"Da da DI da!" Cos sang lightly, shaking his head and making more marks on his music book, "da da DO di da."
"Sounds good, Cos," Don smiled winningly as he leant against the closed hood o the piano, watching his friend smile and nod at his own handiwork, "whatcha cookin' up for us now?"
"Just something for the opening credits. Thought I'd jazz 'em up a bit for the folks back home," Cos met Don's gaze with a smile and pushed his stool back, reclining against the table nearby, "how's it goin' Don? Wrapping up early today, the life of a big star just gets harder and harder."
Don smiled down at the piano and then looked up at Cos with a serious gaze, watching the grin fall from his friends face as he did so, "yeah it does. Hey listen Cos, is there something up pal? You've been acting kind of strange lately and well... people are starting to worry about ya."
"Worry about me?" Cosmo smiled as if he thought the world idiots, trailing his fingers against the length of the table as if it were a piano, "there's nothing wrong with me Don, old Cosmo ain't crazy yet. What makes them think, anyway?"
Don flicked through the pages of Cosmo's music book and looked back towards his friend seriously for a second, "Cos, we're filming a comedy."
"You were playing the funeral march!" Don held his hands out to his sides and smiled at his friend without much humour, softening his touch and returning to his original stance, "Come on Cos, what's the matter pal? You've been down in the dumps for a while now."
Cosmo heaved a sigh and slumped back towards his piano, running his fingers over the keys to open his tale, "hey Don, if I ask you a question, do you promise not to make a big deal out of it?"
"Of course, Cos! You can tell me anything," Don seemed to stand to attention as Cosmo continued to play the piano quietly in the background of his thoughts, "what is it?"
"Well..." Cosmo looked up thoughtfully as if he could see something above his shoulder and was trying to describe it. With a simple banging of the keys, all together and out of tune, he stood to face Don, smacking him on the shoulder and gesturing about himself, "you know how it is, Don! We spent our lives on the streets working our way up and what have we got ourselves? A nice place to live. Who cares? A nice place to work. We meet more genuine people at the cleaners! We have all the money we wanted and all the glory we ever begged God to deliver to us, and after all that I don't have a single thing I ever really wanted. How did you do it, Don? How did you go out gettin' yourself a girl like Kathy? How did you do it? How do you tell a girl you're in love with her?"
"Wha-?" Don spluttered for a second and then seemed to regain his composure, watching Cosmo almost slam himself back onto his seat and mash his fingers against some of the piano keys in defeat. A smile seemed to break out across his face without permission and Don threw himself towards Cos at the front of the piano, "Cosmo Brown are you telling me what I think you're telling me?"
"Technically, I told you nothing," Cosmo grinned smugly to himself and then slumped forwards again, rubbing his hands over his face and then looking up towards Don, "that word again. I think I'm in real trouble this time, Don."
"You're in love," Don's smile was almost predatory and Cosmo stood up with a huff, stomping around the piano until he was in the open space of the studio, edging towards the set, "Cosmo that's brilliant! Who is she? Do I know her? I bet she's one of those chorus girls I've been seeing you with for the past few months, isn't she? You sly dog! You've gotta bring her over so I can meet her!"
"No can do I'm afraid," Cosmo stood shaking his head, hands in his pockets as Don approached and circled like a bird of prey that's found its latest victim, "you and Kathy will have to stow your romantic notions away Don. I never even got her number."
"Never even got her..." Don seemed to fall for a second, but with a clap of his hands he was grinning again, his hand clapped fast over Cosmo's shoulder, "well you know her name don't you? We gotta get to the operator and find her!"
Cosmo drew his hands from his pockets and turned a little to face Don, looking every bit a mess like a fool hopelessly enthralled, "I already found her Don, but it's no use, I can't call her."
"Can't call her?" Don gave Cosmo a small tap on the face and continued to stare at him, "Cos you're in love with her! You have to call her."
"It's not so simple," the musician sighed as his friend continued to stare at him. Don always got his way by doing this, "we met at R.F.'s party alright. She was... I dunno, Don! She was different. Not like all the others we meet around here y'know? I really liked her, Don. Her sister works here in costume that's why she's been around, but I never got a chance to get her number and I don't even know if she remembers me now, that party was a couple of weeks ago. I've left it too late, Don."
"Oh Cosmo, has working here taught you nothing?" Cosmo flinched at the word but Don continued without noticing, holding out his arms and gesturing to the grandeur of the set to his Irish born friend, "it's never too late, Cos. Especially for this."
"Don! What are we doing down here?" Cosmo whispered harshly as Don strolled casually along the corridor, "Don!"
"Calm down, Cos," Don smiled one of his blinding Hollywood smiles and Cosmo rolled his eyes at his friend, mentally making a note to deal with that ego of his one day soon, "I need a fitting, and you're coming along to... hold my coat."
"Why Don, you're a card," Cosmo said sarcastically. He wiped the palms of his hands against his pants and looked into the door at the colourful array of costumes on display at the costuming department. As much as he detested another of Don Lockwood's infamous plans of romance, he was still a bit excited at the possibility of finding, "Dana."
Dana Mercy spun on her heel in the doorway to the costume department of Monumental pictures. For a second she seemed surprised to see Don Lockwood standing in her path offering her his hand, and then all at once Cosmo could tell she had spotted him.
"Mr. Noth-..." she looked upset for a second, her hand still clasped with Don's, "I was wondering if I'd see you again."
"Miss Mercy," Cosmo stepped forwards awkwardly, hands jumping about across his chest and then clasping themselves behind his back briefly, "um... hi."