Title: No Better Guide
Characters: Blake the Lighting Designer (Blake/OCs, Blake/Kyle, Blake/Sam)
Word Count: 1117
Spoilers: All of season 2.
Author's Notes: I was trying to write an actual Blake/Sam fic but kept failing. Sam is surprisingly difficult for me to capture in prose. So this happened instead.
Summary: An incomplete romantic history of Blake, the lighting designer.
BLAKE'S RULES FOR DATING IN PROFESSIONAL THEATER
1. Don't date musicians.
Lesson learned: In college, with the orchestra's first cellist, Andrew. Lesson solidified multiple times over with virtually every musician he met, in a professional or personal capacity, but Andrew was the only one he'd actually made the mistake of dating.
Reasons against: Musicians are hot.
Reasons for: The hotness is something about the instrument, or about the actual act of playing; away from their music, musicians become significantly less hot. They have no table manners, or, to be more accurate, any manners at all. They think the theater revolves around them – just try doing a cueing session while musicians wander in and out, tuning and practicing.
Conclusion: Musicians should be banned. Blake and Andrew broke up in a screaming fight, and Blake spent some time contemplating blacking out the pit in the middle of a show for revenge.
(He didn't do it. He had a professional reputation to build. But he made sure every member of that crew knew what had gone down, and before the run was up so did the cast and the rest of the orchestra.)
2. Don't date other designers.
Lesson learned: His first Off-Broadway design credit; it was the set designer, Mark. He learned that lesson well enough then not to try again with any other designers.
Reasons against: Other designers get it, in a way that non-designers don't. They see the world similarly. They understand what you're talking about – color and texture and contrast – and don't look at you like you're crazy when you talk about matching the look to the text.
Reasons for: Other designers will always think that how they see the design is better than how you see it. Always.
Conclusion: Other designers can sometimes make good friends; Blake has a list of designers he's worked with or met socially in his contacts list, and he talks to them regularly, asks for advice, offers advice. But they are not dating material.
(The show wasn't exactly a disaster, and the set and the lights didn't exactly clash. But it wasn't the work Blake was proudest of, and he was pretty sure Mark felt the same way; at the end of tech they went their separate ways.)
3. Don't get involved with anyone who's been involved with someone you used to be involved with. Four degrees of separation or more are required.
Lesson learned: Summer stock. Fucking summer stock. With Devon (ensemble), Grant (ensemble), Patrick (Hamlet), Lucas (Sebastian), Michael (ensemble), and Emily (Ophelia and Maria). Okay, and also James (audio), Roger (stage management), and Jeremy (scenic). And, well, yeah, half the electrics crew, too. Fuck summer stock.
Reasons against: Convenience. Seriously. It's the only reason anyone gets laid doing summer stock, after all. And you've got a built-in conversation topic, bitching about your mutual ex.
Reasons for: Too many to list, but for starters: way too much fucking drama. Everyone is in everyone else's business. By week three it all starts feeling vaguely incestuous; by week five it's all feeling extremely incestuous. By the end of it all you're left feeling dirty, empty, and kind of slutty.
Conclusion: Don't cross the romantic streams. And for God's sake only do summer stock if you have no other employment options available to you.
(No, seriously. Fuck summer stock. The NYC theater scene might be a train wreck of offstage drama, but at least it's not summer stock.)
4. Don't date actors. Or dancers, either, for that matter.
Lesson learned: Mostly at the aforementioned summer stock. Lesson reinforced with Edward, who he never even worked with but who proved the rule that actors are not dating material.
Reasons against: Actors are usually pretty hot. And dramatic. And interesting. And dancers? Super limber, very adventurous.
Reasons for: They're interesting for about ten minutes, and then it's just endless cycles of the same tiresome drama. They're even more self-absorbed than musicians. If you date an actor during one show, you have to date them again during a different show; otherwise you're dating the role, not the person. They will criticize your lighting based on how they think it makes them look (and they never fucking stand in the same spot twice no matter how many times you have that spot spiked, and then they have the gall to complain that the audience can't see them). And that goes double for dancers.
Conclusion: Actors are exhausting and not worth the effort; avoid dancers at all costs.
(He broke up with Edward after attending a performance of the tedious, navel-gazing, absurdly long Off-Broadway play Edward was starring in; to top things off, it wasn't even well-lit.)
5. Don't date coworkers.
Lesson learned: Too many times to count, but solidified with Kyle (writer), with whom everything was going great until suddenly it wasn't.
Reasons against: Much like summer stock dating, dating coworkers has convenience going for it. And people in their line of work at least understand their line of work – the way it completely fucks with your head and wraps you up in it.
Reasons for: It never gets separated from the work. Ever. Somehow or other relationship drama and theater drama get mixed up together, and then you're standing in a bar as the stoned composer stands on a table and informs everyone there – cast, crew, strangers – that your boyfriend's been cheating on you with the competition's composer.
Conclusion: Meet people who aren't theater people. Even if you have to actually work for conversation topics. Your life will be better for it.
(And then Kyle fucking dies, so Blake can't even be properly mad at him, because what kind of person holds a grudge against their dead ex for a little cheating?)
6. Sometimes you have to break the rules.
Lesson learned: Sam Strickland. Still not sure how that happened, exactly.
Reasons against: Sam is an actor and a dancer (rule four, twice over) who is cast in Hit List while Blake is still finalizing the design (rule five), and more to the point, Sam is Tom Levitt's ex, and Tom Levitt was the guy Kyle cheated on Blake with (rule three).
Reasons for: Sam is awesome, and funny, and kind, and hits his light every single damn time. They don't talk about Tom and they don't talk about Kyle and when they leave the theater they don't talk about work; they talk about sports and literature and current events and religion. When Sam smiles, Blake believes that things will be okay.
Conclusion: Theater relationships suck. Except, once in a great while, when they don't.
(Sam winds his fingers around Blake's and confesses that he's breaking all his rules, too. Blake thinks that's probably okay.)
- FIC: No Better Guide (Smash)