Santa Fe (ATF)
Contribution # 316138 submitted by juliadneal
March 11, 2002

What does Nathan do when not at work? The guys are about to find out...

DISCLAIMERS: I don't own the Seven. I don't claim any ownership of the characters or lyrics to "RENT". Only in my dreams...

NOTE: "*...*" indicates sung words "[...]" indicates playback from the answering machine


"*Well, I'm thwarted by a metaphysic puzzle, and I'm sick of grading papers--that I know. I'm shouting in my sleep, I need a muzzle--*"

The music stopped. "Jackson!"

Nathan sighed. "Yeah, Keith?"

The director waved his hand and came toward the stage. "More feeling. Collins is tired of his life. And sing louder, okay? The mics may not be here in time for opening night."

"Okay, okay."

Keith nodded to the musicians. They started at the beginning of the phrase, which Nathan continued: "*All this misery pays no salary, so... Let's open up a restaurant in Santa Fe...*"

"Louder, Jackson!"

"*Sunny Santa Fe would be nice. Let's open up a restaurant in Santa Fe, and leave this to the roaches and mice!*"

The others joined in to finish the song. The musicians struck up the next, but Keith stopped them.

"Okay, people, that's great. Take a break. Be back in fifteen."

Nathan walked to the side of the stage and grabbed his water bottle. He drank quickly and reached for a cough drop.

"Could I have one?"

He looked up at the woman playing Mimi--Holly Graves, that was it. "Sure."

"You're doing a great job, you know."

"Thanks. So are you."

She laughed. "I've been hooked on 'RENT' since college. I could sing it in my sleep. Is this the first musical you've done?"

"First major part in one. A couple months ago I got a small part in--"

"Hey, Nathan! We missed you last Thursday. Where were you? And can I have one?" Mark--no, Josh Robinson--called as he ran over. Nathan sighed inwardly. Can't keep thinking of the characters' names first.

Sometimes he wondered if the only reason they missed him was because he always brought cough drops. He handed one to Josh. "Had to work late."

"Again? That's the fourth time since December!"

"What do you do, Nathan?" Holly asked again.

"He's a government boy," Josh said, and winked. "Don't mess with him. He could put your ass in jail faster than you could blink."

"Not really--" Nathan began, but before he could elaborate the rest of the cast descended on the cough drops like wasps on a peach. He withdrew and checked his watch. Another hour and a half of rehearsal before he could get home and tackle his report. And then he'd have to put in for time off so he could "go on vacation". He ran through his mental checklist of things to do, then ran through the lines of the next song.

"Break's over! Back to work!"


"Man, Nathan, don't you get any sleep?" JD asked for the fifth time that week when he saw Nathan down a cup of Vin's sludgy coffee.

"Sometimes. But I've been busy."

"Doing what? Caseload's light right now."

"Other stuff. I've got things to get done before I go out of town."

"You're going out of town? When?"

"Couple of weeks from now." He moved toward the door.

"Where are you going?"

"Santa Fe. A friend has a restaurant there that he wanted me to help open." He could remember that lie. Just tie it into "RENT" and he'd remember it. The musical was about all he could think about recently.

"Cool. Hope you have fun."

"Oh, I'm sure I will."


"Is Nathan really going to Santa Fe in a couple weeks?" JD asked.

"Don't you trust him?" Josiah countered.

"Yeah, but... Well, you know... I just got this feeling. He hesitated a little when I asked him where he was going."

"Maybe he didn't think it was your business," Buck said. "You're just sore that you can't go, too, aren't you?"

JD looked away. "I still don't think everything's right. Have you noticed how much coffee he's been drinking lately? It's totally against his healthy-foods kick."

"You know, I've wondered about that, too," Chris said. "He even drank Vin's poison."

Everyone but Vin shuddered in sympathy. Vin jerked his head off his arms, yelled "HEY," and dropped back.

"I thought he was asleep."

"So did I."

Vin grabbed a seat cushion and threw it at the others.

A fight ensued, and they forgot about Nathan's "shady" behavior.


Three weeks later...

"See y'all a week Thursday!"

"Bye, Nathan."

"Send us a postcard."

"I'll get back before they do, so I'll just bring them with me." He'd have to call his college buddy Luke to send him postcards in an express package. Damn. He should've thought about that before.

He waved at his teammates and headed for his car. So far, so good.


Nathan reached over and hit the play button on his answering machine. His voice came back first:

"[*I can't come to the telephone; doo-dah, doo-dah. Leave your message when you hear the tone; oh, the doo-dah day. Might be gone all night... Might be gone all day... So leave a message when you hear the tone. I'll call you back someday...*]"


Josh. "[Hey, it's about noon. We're having a cast party Tuesday afternoon at 4:30. Can you make it? Call me at 357-0426 and let me know.]"


JD. "[Hey, nice message. Didn't know you could sing. I know you're not home again until next Wednesday, but I'll forget to tell you then, I know. Travis has us signed up for a teambuilding exercise two weeks from Monday. Hope Santa Fe was fun!]"


Keith. "[Nathan, I need you to come in early tomorrow to go over some things--like your costume. Do you have an old coat you don't mind having a sleeve ripped off? I can't find your measurements. Be here at 4, okay? You did get off work, didn't you? We have all-day rehearsal in two days. Be---]" The machine cut him off.

Nathan sighed and rummaged through his closet. He did have one ratty coat that he hadn't gotten around to fixing and sending to the shelter with Josiah. He hoped it would do. He picked up the phone to call Josh about the party, to ask what he should bring and to get details.



"Hey, JD."

"Casey! Hey. What's new?"

Silence, then a squeal. "I got us tickets!"

"Tickets to what?"

"To 'RENT'! I told you about the community theater production."

"You did?"


JD was glad she wasn't there in person. She'd have punched him. "Oh, yeah. I forgot. When is it?"

"Friday night at 7. It's at the Desiderata. You know where that is?"

"I do. There's a really good Italian place near there, right?"


"Great. I'll pick you up at 5:30, okay?"

"You're taking me to dinner?"

"Sure. We'll make a whole date out of it." That's right, JD. Kiss up now, so when you fall asleep during the musical she won't hit you.

"Wow. Thanks, JD!"

"I'll see you Friday."



Friday night, 6:59 p.m. ...

"You guys ready?" Keith asked as the musicians began to play.

"No!" the actors chorused.

"Good. Because it's showtime. Josh, Greg, get out there. The rest of you--I'll see you at the final curtain!"

"Good luck," Holly whispered.

"You, too," Nathan said.

Through the curtain, "Mark" began to sing.

"*December 24th, nine p.m., Eastern Standard Time. From here on in, I shoot without a script...*"


JD was amazed. This was actually good!

And then someone stepped onstage that made him look twice.

"JD, isn't that Nathan?" Casey whispered.

"It can't be!"

Onstage, "Collins" started singing.

"It is! He's not in Santa Fe..."

"Shut up, stupid!" the man in front of them hissed.

Just wait until he told the guys. They'd all be at the next performance.


"Nathan!" Josiah called.

He froze. Shit.

His teammates were there.

"You saw."

"We saw. You're really good," Chris said.

"How did you find out?" Nathan asked at last. Damn, damn, damn. He was never going to hear the end of this.

"Casey dragged me here yesterday. I dragged them today."

He waited for the teasing to start.

"Why didn't you tell us the truth?" Ezra asked.

"Why would I? I know you too well. Come on. Lemme have it. You think this is stupid."

They just looked at him, then burst out laughing.

"You're great!"

"This is awesome!"

"I must procure a copy of the soundtrack."

"When's the next performance?"

"Will you introduce us to the rest of the cast?"

"That girl--what's her name, Mimi?--sure was something!"

Nathan sighed with relief. His secret was out.

And it wasn't so hard. "I thought you'd tease me mercilessly for this."

"Oh, we will. But after the shows are over," Vin said.

Nathan ducked back behind the curtain. "Holly? Josh? Guys? Come here, I'd like you to meet my friends..."


That's all I got.