Not mine, don't own, don't sue. Oh, and don't kill me for NOT making Benny the bad guy!
Roger pinned Benny's shoulders to the wall, face a mask of rage. "What the hell is your problem? Don't you have better things to do than hang around here, hoping Mimi's going to come crawling back to you? Why don't you get the fuck out of our lives before Muffy finds out where you went and kicks your ass?"
Benny shoved Roger off of himself, teeth gritted. "Her name is Alison."
Roger smirked. "Right. Because you can't stand to think that there was someone else in her life before you came along with your…ambition, and your baldness."
Benny ran a hand over his head, smoothing his nonexistant hair. "Look, I don't make degrading comments about your girlfriend." He gave a little smirk of his own. "Even though we both know she's earned the right to be called a--"
Roger's fist hit him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. "Don't you talk about her that way," he hissed.
"Guys!" Mark's worried voice cut through Benny's attempted lunge. He caught the arms of both men, attempting to hold them apart. "Guys, please, stop fighting. What's going on?"
Roger wrenched his arm free, glaring at Benny. In the old days, he wouldn't have cared, would have gone on slugging. That was before he learned how much he had to lose by ignoring the voice of reason. He walked downstairs in a huff, still clearly fuming.
Benny, still breathing hard from when Roger had hit him, braced his hands on his knee. "Why the hell do you hang around him, Mark?" he asked incredulously. "He's given you enough pain in return."
Mark shrugged, a little unsettled to suddenly be alone with Benny after all this time. "He's my best friend. Something you wouldn't understand, isn't it? Loyalty, and all that."
Benny rolled his eyes. "Mark, when are you going to get over that stupid grudge? God, I charged you rent. It's not like I don't own the building, you know. AND I offered you the chance to live here free, and you declined. You and your precious Roger."
Mark was shaking his head, looking annoyed. "You don't understand what it means to be—"
"I don't understand?" Benny hadn't come to yell at Mark, hadn't come to talk to either of his old friends, but enough was enough. "Mark, let me tell you something. I've been helping you from day one, haven't I? I dragged your sorry, miserable ass away from Brown, gave you a place to stay, showed you the ropes. Don't deny it."
"I wasn't going to," Mark muttered. He looked about to say something else, but Benny pressed on.
"And you know I lent Roger money when he was lying to us, telling us he needed equipment for his band, didn't I? Yeah, I did. Even when I knew he had fooled around with Alison."
"That wasn't his fault," Mark interjected. "You didn't even know her then!"
"Not the point. He doesn't care that my thing with Mimi was over before she met him, does he?"
There was nothing Mark could say in response to that, so he kept silent.
"And I covered for Roger's sorry ass how many times when he landed himself in jail, in rehab, in clinics? You know I never had money. I probably had less than him."
Mark's glare was back. "Yeah, good thing you married rich, huh?"
"Yeah, good thing. You don't know how many times you would have been evicted if I hadn't, by the way. And that was when you used to pay rent, remember?"
"We pay rent now!"
"But you don't have to!" Benny had raised his voice in frustration, echoing off the tall walls of the stairwell. "How come you put up with it when Roger treats you like shit, and every single fucking time I try to help you, you slap me in the face?"
Mark was quiet for a moment. Benny was looking down at the ground, shaking his head. "I guess that's the way it's always been, isn't it? You're going to keep taking his shit, complaining about 'that asshole Benny' who has the goddammed gall to follow through on his dreams, aren't you? God forbid he should get a real album out, or you should make a dime on those movies you put your heart and soul into, because then you wouldn't be poor, starving, martyred bohemians anymore, would you? God forbid you try to do some good in this world instead of whining all the time about how wretched it is to starve for your art." He smiled bitterly, sighing. "God forbid, above all else, that you ever fucking grow up." He turned to leave, zipping up his coat.
"Benny," Mark said quietly, and he turned back to face the smaller man. Before Mark could say anything else, Roger poked his head out of the door to the loft.
"That's a pretty nice anthem to selling out," he snarled. "What's next, a list of reasons to shop at Wal-Mart, because it's for our own good?"
Benny shrugged. "If that's how you want to see it." He turned away, back down the stairs. "Your rent is due next Thursday," he called up from the bottom of the building. "Don't make me have to evict you again."