(A/N: This one ran really fucking long but I’m proud of it so here you go anyway.)
She’d only had Mark over to her place a few times. The first one or two were excruciatingly awkward, mostly because they’d only been talking for a couple of weeks, and they were still trying to figure out each other’s social nuances. Mark, for his part, was extremely open to talk about whatever was on his mind, and he would happily go on for hours about things he was particularly passionate about. Amy, on the other hand, was a lot more reserved; it wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk about things for hours, she just felt she didn’t have nearly as much to say. Sometimes this came off as standoffish or shy, which only made things harder–and Kathryn, for all her efforts to encourage the relationship by contributing to the conversation and bringing out snacks, was only making things more painful.
At this point, Amy was beginning to wonder if this would work at all. Sure, she’d known Mark for months prior, but only ever as his editor. Apparently, transitioning into the girl that he was “talking to” (neither of them had yet worked up the nerve to define their relationship) wasn’t as easy as they’d thought. She’d told Kathryn and Ethan as much, to which both of them had decided having the whole crew over for drinks and board games was exactly the springboard their relationship needed. Amy failed to understand how, but she figured it would be fun regardless of whether or not it worked, which is how she ended up sitting next to Mark on her sofa with a half-drunk mimosa in her hand while he enjoyed a can of Diet Coke over a particularly intense game of Heads Up.
“They pop up out of the ground, Ethan!” Tyler was basically screaming. “They’re long and skinny and they look like little cats!”
“I…I don’t–” Ethan laughed nervously.
“They’re in Lion King!” Amy intercepted. “You know the song, ‘Dig a tunnel, dig dig a tunnel…’”
“Oh, a meerkat?”
“YES! JESUS CHRIST!” Tyler cried. “Next!”
Mark was laughing–apparently while drinking, because he began to cough up a storm. Amy clapped him on the back in an effort to help.
“Take another drink,” she suggested. “It helps, trust me.”
He nodded, gulping more soda, and flashed her a smile. “Thanks. Never did learn how to drink and breathe at the same time.”
“You’re not supposed to, you moron,” she laughed. They looked at each other for a moment, and they simultaneously seemed to realize that Amy’s hand was still on his back. She pulled it back, feeling a blush on her face.
Kathryn was watching them intently. Amy flashed her a look of slight annoyance, to which Kathryn unsubtly flicked her eyes at Mark with an expression that said “what the hell are you waiting for?!” Amy shrugged helplessly, and Kathryn rolled her eyes.
“Why don’t we have Mark go next?” she suggested loudly. Mark looked up, blinking a few times.
“But it’s my turn–” Ethan protested. Kathryn snatched the phone away from him and grabbed Mark by the wrist, pulling him into the hot seat.
“Yeah, but it’s late and he hasn’t gotten to go yet and YOU NEED TO LEAVE SOON, RIGHT?” she said pointedly to him without breaking eye contact. Amy wondered if anyone would notice if she crawled under the sofa.
“Uh…yeah, okay,” Ethan replied, withering under Kathryn’s glare. He took Mark’s former seat and happily accepted a swig of Amy’s drink while Mark held the phone up to his forehead.
The first animal up was a whale. Ethan did a marvelous impression of one that made everyone laugh.
Next up was squirrels. “Oh, it’s the animal you’re king of!” Amy suggested.
“Squirrels!” he said immediately, flipping the phone up. “I didn’t know you’d seen that video!”
“Yeah, I watched a lot of them when I first started editing for you,” she replied, and she was surprised to see how flattered Mark looked. The game continued without further incident.
Shortly after Heads Up and a round of Sorry! that Ethan won (based on pure bullshit, according to Mark), Tyler and Ethan both got up to go.
“Oh! But we’re still on for the zoo this Friday, right?” Amy asked Ethan, who nodded with a smile.
“Yup. Wear your tiger hoodie. I’ll wear mine, okay?” he requested. Amy laughed.
“Duh. What else did we buy them for?”
Mark grabbed his keys and wallet off the table, standing up himself. “Yeah, I think I’ll head out myself,” he said. Amy looked up sharply, her smile fading.
“Oh! Um, okay, sounds good,” she said, trying to hide her disappointment. She deliberately ignored Kathryn’s stare while she hugged him briefly and he stepped out after the other guys.
Mark jogged a little to catch up with Tyler. “What else are you guys doing tonight? Wanna see if Cracker Barrel’s still open?”
Tyler whirled 180 degrees and stared at Mark confusedly, making him stop in his tracks. “What the hell are you doing out here?”
Mark stared at him open-mouthed. “Uh…going home?”
“What is wrong with you?!” Ethan cried, jogging up the steps leading out of Amy’s apartment complex. Mark frowned.
“Well fuck, I didn’t realize you all didn’t want to see me that badly.”
“You can’t go home yet!” Tyler insisted. “We all came over tonight so that you and Amy could spend time together!”
“Wait, THAT’S why you invited me out tonight?” Mark asked incredulously. “What makes you think I need your help getting Amy to like me?”
“Because you’re standing out in the hallway like a dumbass instead of brewing her coffee and finding a movie to watch like a GOOD date?” Ethan shot back.
Mark was about to shoot back just what he thought of a 20-year-old beanpole telling him he was a bad date, but Tyler grabbed his shoulder and steered him back around to the door before he could.
“Look, the longer you wait to do something more than just make jokes with her and chicken out of flirting, the more she’s going to think you don’t like her,” he advised, marching him back to the door. “You need to do something drastic, and NOW, because she’s already been talking to Kathryn and me about how she doesn’t think you’re interested in her.”
“Wait, really?” Mark demanded, a good deal more worried than he was a minute ago. “Then what do I do?”
“I don’t know, you’re a smart guy! Well, soft of. Just make it good. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
And with that, he opened the door and shoved Mark back inside.
Kathryn looked up from putting cups in the dishwasher to see Mark standing in the living room again, looking dazed and confused.
“Uh…welcome back?” she called out. He turned to her and reddened, running the back of his neck sheepishly.
“Hey…do you know where Amy went?” he asked. “I need to…talk to her, I guess.”
Kathryn’s lips pursed. The poor boy was hopeless. She’d be willing to bet her left boob that Tyler had bullied him back in here.
“She’s taking a shower,” she answered, which was true. “You can wait for her in her room.”
Mark’s eyes widened. “Her room? But she’s never taken me in there before–”
“She won’t mind, Mark. Just go.”
After a moment of hesitation, he nodded and turned to go. Kathryn watched him sharply.
God, hopefully THAT would ignite something. She shook her head and went back to loading the dishwasher. Mark and Amy were just lucky that they had her and the other guys, because Lord knew they’d never be able to do this themselves.
Mark let himself into Amy’s room anxiously. She wasn’t in here, but he could hear the shower going in the next room. He sat on the bed, tapping his feet reflexively.
He had no idea what he was going to say when she came out. “Hey, just thought I’d drop into your bedroom and say goodbye one last time?” No, that was idiotic. “Listen, I know it’s been rough these past few days, but I really do like you and I want this to work?” Too direct; he didn’t want to seem too serious. She said she’d liked him because of his “bombastic personality”, a compliment he’d been turning over in his head ever since. How was he supposed to capitalize on that?
Well, if he knew Amy like he thought he did (which wasn’t exactly perfect, to be fair, but he thought he knew her well enough), then the fact that he liked his cockiness and off-key sense of humor meant that he needed to do something really stupid in order to win her over. In the distance, he heard someone turning off the shower head and knew he didn’t have much time.
Without letting himself think about it anymore, Mark jumped up and unbuttoned his jeans.
Amy stared at herself in the mirror, arranging her towel into a turban that sat high atop her head. She wiped the last of her makeup from her face and brushed her teeth, letting the toothpaste dribble down her chin while her thoughts ran wild in her head.
Was she doing something wrong? Was she too boring, too awkward, too serious? She’d never really considered herself to be a “mature adult”, especially not in this stage of her life, when her mother would have preferred her to be engaged with a nursery under construction rather than living with a fellow single woman in an apartment without doors, working for a man who made a living screaming at video games. Had she made some fatal error along the way that had messed up her life? She’d always been confident in her life choices, unusual though they were, but lately…
Shaking off her doubts, Amy stepped into her pajamas and walked out of the bathroom, ready to flop into bed with a good book. She flicked on the overhead light and hadn’t even taken a good look around when she heard:
“Oh good, you’re back. I’ve been waiting for you.”
She looked down and made eye contact with a man’s bare thigh…and then some. Way more than what she’d bargained for, and a helluva lot more than she’d expected to see that night in particular. Her eyes flicked up to Mark’s shit-eating grin, and she yelped and covered her eyes, backing up into the doorframe and knocking her head against it loudly.
“FUCK! IS THERE A REASON YOU’RE NAKED IN MY BED?!” she couldn’t help screaming.
“Wait, what, I–hold on–”
Amy opened her eyes again, just in time to see Mark rolled over and reaching for the floor, his ass high in the air for the world to see. She jerked to one side to look away and managed to hit her head again–this time it was her nose on the bookshelf by the door–and she cried out in pain.
“Oh God, are you hurt?” Mark asked. Amy could hear him coming closer.
“I’m fine, I’m fine, get dressed!” she cried in distress, even though she could feel her nose beginning to bleed.
“Okay, okay!” There were more thuds and grunts of exertion as she assumed Mark was pulling his pants back on, as well as mutterings to himself about being an idiot, something she couldn’t bring herself to disagree with at the moment. She squeezed her eyes shut and tilted her head back, pinching her nostrils and praying for God to smite her right then and there.
“I’m dressed, you can loo–oh, you really are hurt, fuck Amy why didn’t you tell me?!” She felt him take her by the arm and lead her to the bed, sitting her down and pushing a tissue box into her lap. “God dammit, I’m so sorry, I don’t know why I thought you’d think that was funny….”
“N-no, it’s okay,” she assured him, hazarding to open her eyes and seeing that he’d caged the beast in a pair of jeans. He hadn’t put his shirt on yet, but she decided she could deal with this for now. “I was just surprised, that’s all.”
“Yeah, but it was still dumb. I didn’t mean for you to hit your head. Keep tilting your head back.” Gently, he lifted her chin and held the back of her head in the palm of his hand while Amy kept a tissue pressed to her face. “Is it broken?”
“I doubt it,” she replied, sounding stuffy. “I just bruised it, probably. I’m too clumsy for my own good.”
“Shut up, it’s not your fault. If I hadn’t been an idiot, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Mark sounded surprisingly angry with himself, so Amy tried to give him a smile. “You’re not an idiot, Mark. At least, no more than I already thought you were.”
He smiled back. “Your opinion of me was already this low?” he joked, and she laughed. “Oh, good, at least I’m funny. There’s hope for me yet.”
Amy eventually lowered her head and let Mark throw away the bloody tissue. She sat embarrassedly with her hands folded in her lap, and when Mark turned around she couldn’t quite bring himself to look him in the eyes.
“I like your pajamas,” he offered awkwardly. Amy giggled at her alien-themed nightgown.
“Thanks. I’ve had it for years.” She was quiet for another moment before saying, “You can sit down, you know.”
After another moment’s hesitation, Mark lowered himself onto the bed a healthy distance away from her.
“Listen, Amy, I really am sorry,” he said sincerely, and Amy went to tell him he was okay, but he plowed on, “I just thought I needed to try something crazy to get you to laugh or be flirty or–or something else, I don’t know, Tyler just told me to do something drastic before you got bored with me–”
“Wait, this was based on TYLER’S advice?” Amy interjected, unable to keep from laughing. “Come on, Mark, Tyler doesn’t know anything about girls.”
“Yeah, I know, and I’m gonna punch him tomorrow for getting me into this shitty situation.”
“Did he TELL you to greet me naked on my bed?”
“No, uh…that was kind of my idea,” he mumbled, making her laugh more.
“Why did you think I would get bored with you?” she pressed, scooting closer. Mark was staring sheepishly at the floor and wouldn’t look up, so she put her hand on his arm. “If anything I was afraid you were bored with me.”
“Really?” he said, sounding shocked. “But I love being around you. That’s why I hired you on in the first place. That’s why I’m here now. I’m just worried that I…I don’t know, that you’re not interested in me as anything more than a friend or something, and that if I didn’t do something super forward you’d just give up.”
“No, Mark, you don’t need to greet me buck-ass-naked to make me like you,” she laughed, making him smile. “I ALREADY like you. I’m just not…I guess I’m not as forward as you.”
“Yeah, clearly fucking not,” he said dryly, gesturing to himself as if to reiterate what he’d just done. “So…what do we do?”
Amy shrugged. “I dunno. I never know. I guess maybe we could…try going on an actual date or something, instead of sitting around in my apartment.”
“Yeah, that could work,” Mark said thoughtfully. “Where would you wanna go?”
“No clue. I’m kinda hungry. Where do you like to eat?”
“Do you like Cracker Barrel?”
Amy grinned. “Yeah, I could go for some eggs. You wanna go now?”
She stood up, and Mark chuckled at her. “Yeah, sure, but not before we both get dressed.”
Mark and Amy passed the kitchen hand-in-hand, where Kathryn stood reloading the dishwasher. She looked up at them and raised an eyebrow.
“Are you two okay? I heard screaming.”
“You heard screaming and didn’t come to check on us?” Amy asked incredulously. Kathryn shrugged.
“I heard something about Mark being naked, so I decided to let you two work it out amongst yourselves.”
Mark burst into laughter while Amy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, we’re good. I’ll be gone for a bit, don’t wait up for me.”
Kathryn grinned lecherously behind Mark’s back. Amy stuck her tongue out at her on her way out the door.
Kathryn practically rubbed her hands together with glee. Finally, some progress! She pulled her phone out of her pocket to text Ethan.
No more requests for now please, I’ve got plenty and I’m about to go to work!
I’ve spent a TON of time over the past week or so recreating all of team RWBY’s symbols in felt to go on covers for my journal and they’re FINALLY DONE!
Weiss’s scarred me for life, Yang’s was super fun, Ruby’s was fun but challenging and Blake’s was simple but hard to get right. I LOVE looking at them all together though, and I can’t wait for new RWBY episodes.