"Come on, Jamie, give it back," April said, crossing her arms over her chest and giving Jamie a look that was probably meant to be threatening. April never could quite manage a threatening look all that well, though, and most of the time when she tried, like now, she just looked… cute.
Jamie grinned at her, turning her notebook over in his hands and studying the little doodles April had drawn on the front cover with mock intensity. "Why? I haven't even gotten to read it yet."
"Don't," April said, still attempting a warning look. She soon gave up and glanced across the loft to where her roommates sat, giving them a quick, silent request for help. Only Mark seemed to notice, and gave her a sympathetic smile in return, but he made no move to help her rescue the notebook from her friend.
"Is there a reason I shouldn't read it?" His teasing smile completely discredited the innocent tone. April mumbled a response that wasn't quite audible to her roommates across the loft, and Jamie laughed. "It's embarrassing? C'mon, April, you're a fantastic writer. You've probably never written anything embarrassing in your life." He paused for a moment and tilted his head to one side, frowning as if he were considering something, and suddenly the bright smile was back on his face.
"Unless it's a diary?" Jamie flipped open the first page and started to read aloud in a painfully bad falsetto imitation of April's voice. "Jamie Wellerstein is the sexiest person I know. I'd like to—"
"It doesn't say that!" April protested between giggles and dove for the notebook, trying to snatch it from him. She ended up colliding with him and the two of them tumbled rather gracelessly off the couch.
Roger glowered at the two of them from the other end of the room as April, now sitting on Jamie's chest with them both on the floor, rescued her notebook from him and held it aloft victoriously, while Jamie protested that he couldn't breathe. "I have a keen dislike for that man," Roger commented to Mark, never taking his eyes off of Jamie and April.
Mark hadn't been paying attention to the two of them for the past couple minutes, too focused on fiddling with some part of his camera—Roger didn't know what he was trying to do, and found it best not to ask. Mark looked up at him and blinked. "Huh?"
It somehow didn't surprise Roger that Mark probably hadn't heard anything he just said. "Jamie," he clarified. "I don't like him."
"Oh." Mark glanced over at April and Jamie. Jamie had somehow managed to get April off of him by then, and he flopped back on the couch beside her, attempting a petulant glare that was somewhat ruined by the smile he couldn't' seem to suppress completely. Mark looked back to Roger. "Why not? He's a nice guy."
"Something about him bothers me."
Maureen levered herself up onto the counter alongside Roger and sat there, one leg tucked underneath her, the other dangling over the edge of the counter, swinging lazily back and forth. "Is it because he's prettier than you?"
"He is not—" Roger began, and cut off abruptly as he realized there was no possible way he could win disputing that comment.
Maureen smirked and asked innocently, "Is it because you're afraid he's gonna steal your girlfriend?"
"Of course not."
"Are you sure? 'Cause they do seem really friendly…" Ignoring Mark's pointed glances that plainly told her to stop needling Roger, she added thoughtfully, "And April does really like him…"
"Roger," Mark said carefully, "you know she's not going to—"
"I know," Roger growled.
Mark sighed and set his camera down carefully on the counter. "He's not that bad, you know," he said, lowering his voice so Jamie and April wouldn't be able to hear it.
Roger snorted derisively, giving his friend a level and thoroughly disgusted look. "You just like him because he'll read your screenplays and tell you they're good." The comment had a bite to it that was probably not directed at Mark.
"No, I like him because he's a nice person," Mark said, beginning to get annoyed.
"He's an intolerable ass."
"Well," Maureen said brightly, "that sounds like someone else we know, doesn't it?"
"I'm not above hitting girls, you know," Roger informed her. Maureen just pouted, hopped off the counter, and wandered off, presumably to go find someone else to irritate. Roger rolled his eyes and jumped down as well, heading for the door.
"Where're you going?" Mark asked.
Roger's only response was a shrug followed by a single terse were. "Out."
"Out," Mark muttered under his breath after Roger had gone. "Well that's helpful." He shook his head and picked up his camera once more.
"Please tell me why he's over here again?" Roger asked Mark quietly, jerking his chin to indicate Jamie, who sat with April on the couch with a pile of textbooks and papers scattered over both the couch and the coffee table—or at least the couple of upended crates that sufficed for a coffee table in the loft.
Mark glanced up from the notebook he'd been writing in and looked over at Jamie, then back to Roger, who sat cross-legged on the table while Mark, being sane, sat in a chair at the table. He raised an eyebrow at Roger sardonically. "I don't know, maybe because they need to study because they're in college, and that's what people in college do?"
"You didn't study that much when you were in college," Roger pointed out.
"Which is why I'm not in college anymore," Mark said with a sigh, turning back to his notebook and the screenplay that was (at least in theory) taking shape there. "Don't you have anything better to do than sit around hating a guy you've barely spoken to?"
"In theory, yes," Roger said archly.
"And in practice?" Mark asked without looking up.
"Not so much."
"I thought not."
Roger sighed and leaned over to look at what Mark was writing, and Mark somehow resisted the impulse to cover it with one arm. Roger didn't seem to notice Mark's irritation. "That still doesn't explain why he has to be here all the time. Or why he has to study with April…"
Mark deigned not to answer that question and stared intently at his notebook as if somehow that would allow him to forget Roger's presence altogether. It wasn't working; he could still see Roger out of the corner of his eye, watching him and waiting for a response. Mark decided that Roger was by far more irritating when he was in this mood than when he actually set out to make an ass of himself. Finally, he sighed and looked up at Roger. "Will you just go do something? Anything? Take a walk, or… God, just stop obsessing over the fact that April actually has a friend other than you or one of her roommates who is a guy."
"I'm not obsessing," Roger muttered, sounding a little put out. He moved back a little bit, and then sprawled on his back on the table, directly in front of Mark. Mark could only stare at him for a second, and then close his notebook with a sigh. At the moment, Roger couldn't be any more distracting if he'd been trying.
"If this isn't obsessing, I don't know what is," he said, and stood up. Maybe if he locked himself in his room Roger would leave him alone and he could actually write something. Maybe.
He had only gotten about two steps away from the table when Roger murmured urgently, "Mark."
Mark sighed and turned around to face Roger. His roommate was still lying on his back on the table, his head hanging over the edge so that he was looking at Mark upside down. "What?"
"Jamie's a girl's name. Isn't it?"
Mark stared at him in silence for almost a minute. "You need to get a life."
Roger sat up to look at Mark properly. "Well, isn't it?"
He stood there, quietly watching his roommate and searching for an answer that would make Roger shut up. Nothing came to mind. At last, he simply sighed and called across the loft, "Hey, Jamie? Roger thinks you're a girl."
Mark didn't pay much attention to Jamie and April's odd looks at Roger, or Roger's protest that he hadn't said that… exactly… and didn't wait to see how Roger talked his way out of that, simply quickly slipped off to his room. At least now he would have some time to write in peace… for the moment, until Roger got away from the two of them and found something new to obsess over. Mark considered that for a moment, and then locked the door behind him.