Mark reached for the remote for the fifth time within ten minutes, only to have his hand slapped by his girlfriend – for the fifth time.
“Just wait. They might still be coming back.”
“Oh, sweetie,” he sighed with a smile, giving her an affectionate little flick on the chin with his thumb. “You are so naïve.”
After a home-cooked dinner for four, the group had all decided to settle down on the couch for a movie, but somehow Mark and Anna’s companions for the evening seemed to have slipped away. They’d gone upstairs, to “grab something,” and didn’t seem too interested in coming back anytime soon.
Anna rolled her eyes. “Just five more minutes. I am actually aware of what they might be doing up there, but what if they honestly wanted us to wait, and we started the movie without them, and then they came down and it was all awkward because we’d obviously assumed that they were going to be up there for the rest of the night? And wasn’t tonight only like their second date anyway? Who’s to say that they’re–”
“So naïve,” he teased again. “It’s endearing, really.”
“Shut up, asshole.”
“I love you, too.”
She stuck her tongue out at him, and this time when he reached for the remote, she snatched it away and put it at the far end of the couch from him.
“Now, you know I’m too lazy to reach over there,” he pouted.
“That was the idea.” She glanced back to the stairs. “They did seem to be getting along really well.”
“That’s what I’m saying!” Mark waved at the remote, helplessly. Too… far…
Anna was smiling wistfully, ignorant of his plight. “And they’re so cute together! Did you notice how they’re already comfortable enough to be stealing food off each other’s plates?”
Giving up on the remote for a moment and nodding, Mark replied, “I think they’ve been doing that for years, actually.”
“I just thought it was a nice little show of affection, you know? I think this could be really good for Jim.” She paused, and looked at him expectantly. “Well?”
“Well? What’d you think?”
He shrugged. “I think I’m lucky Pam came around so soon after he moved back, because I was expecting to be stuck with mopey Jim for a lot longer than a week.”
“Oh, come on,” she argued. “You know you would have been psyched to have him back even if he was mopey forever. It’s why you never got a new roommate, it’s why you didn’t get rid of any of the furniture he left behind…”
“Maybe. He’s a good guy. A good friend.”
Anna shot him a mock pout, and danced her fingers teasingly up his arm. “You’ve missed him. You’ve been pining.”
He snorted. “There was no pining to speak of. But, yeah, okay. I missed him. In a completely manly, not gay at all way, of course.”
“Of course.” She grinned. “So, seriously. Tonight. Thoughts on non-mopey Jim and his lady friend.”
“Seriously? I think it’s awesome,” Mark answered honestly. “Trust me, I’ve been hearing him go on about her for a long time. I already knew she’d be great for him if she ever bothered to open her eyes and make the move.”
Anna raised an eyebrow. “So she made the move?”
“She did indeed. It was her turn, after all. You’ll have to hear the whole story from Jim later. He gets all excited and googly-eyed when he tells it; it’s hilarious.”
“Don’t make fun. He’s in love! It’s a beautiful thing. You know, you used to look at me all googly-eyed too… Why don’t you do that anymore, huh?” She poked him in the side and narrowed her eyes.
His expression changed from amused to that of a deer caught in headlights. “Oh, yeah, you know, Jim and Pam, totally adorable, right? With the stealing each other’s food…”
“Nice save. Very subtle subject change.” She kicked him in the ankle, yet smiled in spite of herself. “But they are. Adorable, I mean. And it’s not just that she’s nice, and they look cute together. It’s… this is what he’s been needing. She’s not like girls he’s been with before, girls who didn’t fit. They click, you know? She seems to get him. And she’s smart, and funny. Miles better for him than Katy was.”
“You had a really weird, intense, irrational dislike for Katy, though,” Mark pointed out.
Anna looked annoyed at the mere memory of Jim’s old girlfriend. “She was flaky. And too perky. And just… all… wrong.”
Mark leaned back comfortably against the couch. “Well, I kind of liked her.”
She rolled her eyes. “You just liked her bouncy bits, so shut up.”
He couldn’t help but give a small, incredulous grin. “Her bouncy… bits?”
She gave a withering glare. “I was also referring to her hair. She had very bouncy hair.”
His eyebrows raised, all innocence, except for a hint of a mischievous smile that remained. “Well, yeah. I was thinking primarily of her hair. What other bouncy bits would you be talking about?”
“Shut. Up.” Her elbow jabbing his ribs, hard, finally took the smile off his face, a grunt coming out instead.
“Okay, okay! She was awful. You’re right. I’m sorry. Not an original thought in her head, no sense of humor, wicked as a witch, no style, and what was the deal with her hideous–”
“Okay, you can stop now. I’m letting it go.”
He wiped his forehead dramatically. “Whew! I was this close to getting kicked out of my own room tonight, wasn’t I?”
“You know it.”
He gave her a pointed, pleading look. “Alright. Have I waited long enough now? Can I put on the movie? Because, you know, the sooner I do, the sooner we can head upstairs and…”
“If you do that dorky excessive winking thing one more time, I swear to God…” she warned, even as she reached for the remote and handed it to him.
“You know you love it.”
As he finally moved to press play, a loud laugh and squeal suddenly rang out from upstairs, and Anna glanced that way before turning back to him with a tilted head and playful smile. “You’re not going to tell him about all the sex we had on his bed while he was in Stamford, are you?”
“Oh, no. No.” He shook his head vehemently. “Not ever.”