Disclaimer: I wish.

Author's Note: The song lyrics I used are from Cary Shield's band Thieves Crossing (they rock buy their cd...) I want to dedicate this to...EVERYONE who has ever reviewed ANY of my stories (there aren't many of you!!! Tsk tsk tsk...) Also especially to CJ...you're awesome, thank you so much, I think you've reviewed every single one of my fics, and keep me wanting to write! You're one of my best friends ever and I love you!! (NO bullshit)

White Lit Wall

I enter the loft to see Mark sitting on the couch with a notepad on his lap. He's watching the images projected on the wall intently and rapidly jotting down notes every few seconds.

"Hey Mark." I walk over and sit on the other side of the couch.

Without looking away from his film or yellow lined paper, he absently replies. "Hey." He continues to write quickly.

"Uhh...what's up?" I attempt to start a conversation with him.

Mark continues writing, pausing shortly to push up his glasses, and then returns to his notes. "Nothing, just working."

"Anything new? Anyone call?"

"No and no, not that I noticed."

"Not that you noticed? You know that loud sound that we hear every so often, it comes from that white thing with the buttons? That means something Mark..." I smile, trying not to get frustrated, and walk to the answering machine.

"I turned the ringer off, I've been working." Mark continues to glance up at the wall, then back down at his paper. He flips to yet another clean page.

"Damn Mark, how long have you had the ringer off? Six messages..." I press the button and wait for the recordings to play. I listen to the messages, same people as usual. "Maureen, Maureen, Collins, Maureen, Mark's mom, Maureen." I call over to Mark. "God, would you just call Maureen back? This could be important!" I laugh at my own joke. "She could be going straight."

"Yea. Listen, I hate to be rude, but I'm trying to work." Mark looks up at me for the first time.

"You've been working for four days straight. I'm just trying to have a little conversation, you haven't spoken in three."

"Because, as you can see, I'm busy."

I walk to the projector and switch it off. "Not anymore."

Mark glares at me. "I was in the middle of something."

I shrug. "And now you're not. Now you can talk to me and tell me what's wrong."

"Nothing's wrong."

"Bullshit. You haven't slept or spoken in God knows how long. I don't think you've moved from this couch in a week."

"I've just had a lot of ideas lately."

"Ideas that you'd forget if you turned the goddamn projector off for 10 minutes?"

"Don't start with me Roger. Do I have to mention a little something I like to call 'the infamous six month silence'?"

"I had a reason for that Mark. You can't compare the two, I just found out I had an incurable disease, my girlfriend killed herself, and I had to get myself through withdrawal from a life-consuming addiction. I think I was justified. You've got nothing. We're not fighting, no one close to you has died recently, and you're healthy. The only potential problem you have is you pending loss of sanity if you stay on this couch."

"Oh you know me so well Roger. Because you see me every day and you ask how I am, and I don't have a bandage on my wrist, I obviously have no problems and no reason to be a little distracted. I told you, I'm just working, it doesn't mean I'm depressed."

"You think I don't know what it means to stay awake for days, trying to finish something that just doesn't end up right? It makes you think Mark, it makes you think a lot, about everything. I can tell there's something bothering you...but if you don't want to talk about it that's fine. Just tell me, don't say you're fine."

"According to you, Roger, I'm SUPPOSED to be fine. I have absolutely NO reason to just be alone for a little while, working on a film that I haven't touched for almost a YEAR."

"You just want to be alone for a little while? YOU'RE ALONE ALL THE TIME MARK, DON'T PRETEND THIS IS SOMETHING NEW." My voice echoes through the loft, hopefully making him think a little.

"I DON'T NEED TO PRETEND ROGER. YOU DO ENOUGH PRETENDING FOR THE BOTH OF US."

"What the fuck are you talking about? I'm TRYING to get you to talk to me about what's wrong, and you're telling me nothing! I know that's not true!"

"Fuck you." Mark, flustered, stands and throws his notepad to the ground, retreating to his room and slamming the door behind him.

I flop on the couch, defeated. I look down to the floor, at the abandoned yellow pad, covered in Mark's almost incoherent scribbling. My curiosity gets the best of me, and I pick it up, flipping to the first page, scanning through sentences, looking for clues.

The first page is covered in technical gibberish, scenes he wants to get rid of, edit, or add in. Skipping through most of it, I skim through half of the next page until I see a break in the unorganized format. There is a large blank space, and then the beginning of what seems to be one long, unfinished thought. Obviously inspired by whatever he was watching on the wall, Mark's emotion-fueled writing captivates me as I read through the thoughts I never knew my roommate had.

'all these shots of my "friends". happy, laughing, smiling, talking to each other...ignoring the camera like I always told them to. I never told them to ignore me. It's like they started to make an effort but just gave up when they realized I'm not the easiest person to be friends with. Collins tries a little, I think...or at least he's good at pretending he cares. Maureen just outright uses me, no use in trying to believe anything else. Mimi knows me by association, and therefore has no need to converse with me, unless she needs advice about Roger. He's a whole other story. Joanne I barely even know...small talk consumes us until there's nothing left to discuss.'

I read and wonder why I'm not discussed in the paragraph, only that I'm a "whole other story". I continue and find my questions answered on the next page.

'Roger. He thinks he's doing so well. Asks me how I am and figures that's enough...that because he says three words to me every day, I believe he cares. I don't think he realizes I'm not stupid. He doesn't care...not as much as I would want him to. He'd probably be a little upset if I killed myself or something...but until his life is not taken over by the presence of his goddess Mimi, I'm just the kid upstairs who he used to care about. I'm watching them...kissing and hugging and laughing and crying, but always together. Whether they're fighting or apologizing, they're together. I've watched this clip about 5 times by now...I don't know why when I know how much it upsets me. I shouldn't care. I should be happy for him. I should see that he finally has someone to live for, and be glad for that. I guess I don't understand why I can't be the person he lives for. I don't understand why I'm not enough. I don't understand why she gets to be the one, when it's all I've wanted for the past 4 years.'

I stare at the words until the letters begin to blur in front of me. I drop the pad back to the floor and glance at Mark's door, making sure it's still shut. I flick the projector back on and watch what Mark has cut together.

Images of me and Mimi flash in front of me, hugging, kissing, fighting, making up. Between each scene, mostly the ones of Mimi and me, a single shot of Mark appears. First of him standing alone against a wall, then the frames begin to get closer, until after about 8 shots, the film is just two still frame pictures, flashing one after the other, so rapidly, I shiver nervously. A close-up of me passionately kissing Mimi flashes to an eerie zoom of Mark's eyes. The pictures continue to flicker until the shot of Mark's eyes remain still. A single tear falls from one eye, and the screen goes blank. I stare at the white lit wall numbly, not knowing what to think. I turn to flip the projector off, and notice a small portable tape player sitting on the table, the pause button pressed down. I slowly reach and put the headphones on, and press the button, only to hear a gig I vaguely remember from years before. My own voice pierces the silence with words I've long forgotten.

"...goodbye" The last chord of an old song plays, and I listens to myself speak. "Thanks a lot. Before we play our last song, I just personally want to thank someone. My best friend: Mark. Mark, you've helped me so much, and I want to let you know that I appreciate everything you do for me. Thanks man...I love you...you're like a brother to me." The crowd can be heard underneath my little speech, and I try to remember the night I said all that. It was before everything. I had just started doing some occasional smack, but he didn't know yet. I hadn't met April. None of my real problems had even begun, and I was already grateful for his presence. The last song of my set begins, and I listen intently, having forgotten the lyrics to my own music. "I can feel your eyes upon my face, all the way from over here. Although I'm staring into space, you know something's wrong with me my dear..." I wonder if he thought I had written that song for him. Did I? Who was I thinking of as I jotted those lyrics?

I snap back to reality and press stop. I take the headphones off and knock on Mark's door. "Mark?"

"Fuck off!"

"Mark please, I just want to talk to you!"

The door snaps open and Mark glares at me. "What?"

"Look, I'm sorry...for yelling...for getting upset."

He sighs and drops his glare. "Yea...it's ok."

"No, it's not. I shouldn't have gotten so upset. I was just...worried."

"Yea, I know. Thank you."

I nod in acceptance, and try my hardest to word the next question. "Is there...anything, you wanted to tell me?"

"What do you mean?" He walks to the couch and sits down. He glances at the projector and tilts his head, squinting.

"You watched my film."

"I...what?"

"You watched my film. I stopped it before the end. The back spool is full, you watched the rest of it." Fuck. I should have counted on him being so observant.

"Mark I...I just wanted to know what you were thinking."

"Well now you do! YOU WATCHED MY FUCKING FILM ROGER! What the fuck? I don't read your songs until you say it's ok, or at least perform them...how could you pry into my life like this?!"

"BECAUSE YOU WON'T TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON! WHAT OTHER CHOICE DO I HAVE?!"

"To leave me the FUCK alone! Don't worry about me! You seem to be good at that!"

"FUCK YOU MARK. I'VE BEEN TRYING SO HARD, YOU KNOW THAT!"

"I KNOW!" He looks down and his voice softens. " I fucking know. And that's why..." he sees the notepad in a different position on the floor. "Of course, you read those too..." He looks up at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. They reflect pain, sorrow, regret, love. "And that's why I love you so fucking much. Because just when I start to give up on you completely..." he starts to cry, and I want to turn and run. I haven't seen Mark cry, not since his dad...and especially not because of me. "you turn around and remember I'm here and you care about me and you try to figure out what I'm going through and you try so fucking hard that I..." He lets out a deep sob. "I fall in love with you all over again."

He stands in front of me, crying and fighting for a deep, even breath. I'm empty. I don't know what to say, what to do. Somehow, things have changed. Yet at the same time, everything's the same, just as it was. I fight my impulse to run, and instead take a step towards him. I open my arms and just hold him while he sobs.