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Title: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics
Author: Scrunchy
Fandom: Sports Night
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Ain't mine. Wouldn't want 'em. Too chatty.
Feedback:here or here
Notes: Title borrowed from an episode of that other Sorkin show's first season.

For Holly, on her birthday.

"Tell me something I don't know," Dan came into the office cuddling a gigantic cup of coffee.

Casey glanced at his watch and then looked up at Dan, surprised that the wackiness had started so early -- especially for a Saturday.

"Did I miss the beginning of that?"

"No, that was the beginning." Dan unwound his scarf and tossed it towards the coat rack. It fell short, but just barely. "Tell me something I don't know. About you."

Unsure as to the rules of the game and relatively certain he wasn't going to get an answer if he asked, Casey decided to play along.

"Ok." He rubbed at his chin and made a note to shave before the noon rundown. Two days off and he looked like he was back in college during finals. "When I was nine years old, I had a pet sheepdog named Benson."1

Dan paused briefly as he settled down into his desk chair.

"Good answer. I didn't know that." He made a smirky little impressed face that looked eerily similar to his terrible imitation of Robert DeNiro.

"What's this all about?" Casey saved the document he'd been editing and turned his attention fully to his partner.

"No, nothing, I just --" he looked up from his desk and smiled, "you know how Saturdays can be."

"Boring as the third overtime in that Rangers/Canucks game last April?"

"Oh man, with that tireless old woman in the fur coat in front of us!"

"Kept shouting, 'Go for it!' whenever anyone in blue got near the goal." Casey sighed.

"It's just something I thought of on the walk over. To keep us entertained."

Casey nodded, "All right. Your turn. Tell me something I don't know."

Dan got still and began fussing with the gum eraser on his desk.

"Let's see ... I, uh ... hmm. I knew this was going to be hard, and I didn't prepare an answer." He looked around for a hint, something that would spark a little Dan factoid that Casey didn't yet know. One not too embarrassing. He snapped his fingers.

"I am deeply unsettled by paste." He sat back in his chair.

Casey shook his head and poorly imitated the buzzer at Madison Square Garden.

"I know that, my friend. Remember the incident in the Staples on Fifth?"

Dan raised an eyebrow and shook his head.

"Yes, you do remember. We were still getting settled here, and Dana was so annoyed with us bitching about office supplies she sent us out to get them, and I quote, our 'damn stupid selves.'"

"Oh wow," Dan smiled suddenly as the memory returned.

"Yeah, and I tossed you the paste, thinking we might need it, and you recoiled and ducked and it hit that kid."

He laughed, and Dan started to laugh. The kid hadn't been hurt, of course -- in fact he'd picked up the paste from the floor, handed it back to Casey (who'd run over to make sure he was ok), without a moment's pause in his cell phone conversation.

"So, I have to think of a new one, then." Dan's laughter died down as he folded his hands on his stomach.

"Tell me ... tell me what your first impression of me was." Casey pointed as the idea came to him.

"Really?" Dan looked like he'd rather be covered in paste, eating a paste sandwich. Possibly while living in Pasteburgh.

"Yeah," Casey smiled bright, "I wanna' know."

"Ok, ok," Dan sat up, "I thought Dana was your girlfriend. I thought Lisa looked exactly like the girl I'd just broken up with, so I hated her right away. I thought you were ... I don't know. I thought you were some dorky guy who hung out with pretty women. Don't get me wrong -- I admired that."

"You thought I was a dork?" Casey looked genuinely shocked.

"Case, you were wearing a jacket and tie at a backyard barbeque in LA. You were arguing with someone's old Aunt Gertrude about Scotty Flaherty's free throw percentage, and you blushed when Dana introduced us. Also, you were drunk."

There was a momentary silence before Casey shrugged, "Ok, so that's all true."2

There was a long pause in which Casey looked lost in thought and Dan just looked sad.

"Let's call Dana!" Casey brightened; you could almost see the light bulb over his head.

He picked up the phone and dialed her extension, then hit speakerphone and set down the receiver.

"What do you want, McCall?" Casey knew he wasn't interrupting any real work -- Dana "did" crossword puzzles (with the help of an internet search engine and an erasable pen) until noon every Saturday.

"Tell us something we don't know."

She barked a laugh.

"Of the myriad things in this world that the two of you chuckleheads don't know--"

"About you," Dan called from his side of the room, "Something about you."

She fell silent.

"I live in constant fear of failure."

"Dana," Casey began.

"I live thinking every single day that I'm going to fail. That I'm going to somehow -- somehow -- blow up Sports Night and be a failure." 3

Casey opened his mouth to speak, then looked at Dan.

Dan shrugged. There was another silence, wherein Dan fully wished he'd thought "Pictionary tournament!" on line at Starbucks instead of this stupid game.

"Ok, Iím going to go now, Dana." Casey reached for the phone.

"Talk to you later!" Dana's chipper voice belied what she'd just revealed.

"Thanks for playing," Casey hung up.

Dan let out a low, disbelieving whistle.

"Did you know about that?"

"You know, I had an inkling." Casey was still visibly blown back by the force of Dana's answer. "Do you know about the lamp thing?"

"Lamp thing?" Dan leaned forward.

"Sorry to interrupt," Jeremy knocked on the door.

"No need to be sorry." Casey waved him in. "We need a new player to redeem our little game."

"Oh." Jeremy stopped mid-stride. "Is this going to be one of those times when I spend the rest of the day regretting that I'd ever set foot in your office in the first place?"

Dan raised his eyebrows and smiled at Casey.

"Not at all, unless you've been spending an inordinate of time with Dana's issues."

Jeremy relaxed a fraction and sat down on the arm of the couch.

"Jeremy, tell us something we don't know." Casey, ever-warming to the game and his role as the chief question-guy, leaned forward on his elbows and gazed intently at his latest contestant.

Jeremy thought for exactly three seconds before answering.

"Approximately 2 million acres of Maryland is farm land, and the average daily time residents spend commuting to work is about 31 minutes."4

If it was night, and not Manhattan, the sound of crickets would have accompanied the long, stunned silence that followed.

"I'm something of a statistics nerd." Jeremy smiled and looked down at the papers he held on his lap.

"No kidding." Dan hadn't blinked in at least a minute.

Jeremy shrugged.

"Well, I'm going to go back to work," he stood up. "Casey, these are for you -- the court transcripts of that Dallas thing so far, Dana told me to get them to you with the good stuff highlighted."

He dropped the heavy stack on Casey's desk and smiled at Dan and Casey in turn before he left the room.

"How does he do that?" Dan looked with something like awe at where Jeremy had been standing.

Casey still hadn't been able to close his mouth. "I have no idea."

They got a good, solid four minutes of work done before Natalie skipped by the office door, doubtlessly on her way to yell at someone (you could tell by the skipping). Dan called out to her.

"Yeeeeeees?" she backtracked into their office.

"Tell us something we don't know about you," Casey looked up at her.

"I can unwrap Starburst candies using only my tongue."5 She grinned.

Dan snapped his head back up from where he'd previously been studying an ink splotch on his desk.

Casey blinked. A lot.

"If that's all...?" Natalie pointed over her shoulder and backed out of the room a step.

"I think that'll be all," Casey's voice cracked on nearly every syllable, "Dan?"

Dan's smile was the stupid grin of a man with a highly detailed imagination, "Yeah. I'm good."

She left and Casey chuckled as he turned back to the file on his monitor.

"Jeremy's a lucky, lucky guy." Dan scratched some notes on a legal pad, glancing at the AP's sports wire.

"We should play this game every Saturday." Casey was back to his hunt-and-peck typing, working out the kinks in his segment on the Dallas thing.

Dan looked up, watched Casey silently for a moment before he spoke.

"Yeah." His voice was almost too soft for Casey to hear.

1 That wasn't true. Casey was eleven when Benson, the mutt, passed away after a quick, painless run-in with the 5:13pm freight liner from Minneapolis.

2It was, in fact, not true at all. When Dan first met him, Casey was a little drunk and eating a peach in Max Brody's backyard. They were all there, that much was true. It was a fluke that Dan had met Dana the week before, and a bigger fluke that they'd all ended up at the party. Casey had peach juice dripping off his chin, on his arm drying in sticky trails down to his elbow. Dan couldn't keep his eyes off the liquid shining on Casey's skin. His tie was undone and his shirt partially unbuttoned. His eyes were heavy and his hair mussed. It would be weeks later when Dan realized that Casey was a dork. But that first day, a sweltering Saturday in August when they were both so much younger, Dan thought Casey was the most beautiful thing in the world.

3She was actually more concerned about letting Isaac down, and Calvin, and her parents, and Dan and Casey.

4If it was still 2000, Jeremy would have been telling the truth. However, while his intentions were noble, his stats were out of date.

5That was absolutely true.

© scrunchy 2004