6 Why do I even try?

Burt

The dressing room door closed with a bang as LJ rushed out like lightning. Jamie looked up from the shirt and scissors he was holding, muttered an expletive, and walked to the door to open it again.

Michelle looked at me and shrugged, as if to say, boys will be boys. She swept her brush over Mark's face one last time and turned fully to me. "I guess that means you're next, dollface."

I picked up the second hand towel beside me, which was less soaked than the first one, and dabbed it on my face as best as I could. "I'm so sorry I'm not completely dry yet, Michelle," I mutter.

"Honey, I feel sorry for you, such a big star and still sweating buckets in your old age," she teased.

"I know, right!" I joked along with her. "I should have someone to sweat for me! Why hasn't the company found me one!"

"This is not how top tier celebrities should be treated," Michelle gamely shook her head as she dabbed tissue against my forehead.

"Michelle's right, you know," I heard Jamie's voice join in. "We're big stars, we shouldn't be forced to wear these stupid label t-shirts." And then I heard an unmistakeable ripping sound and I quickly spun around to face him.

As I feared, Jamie had ripped the sleeves off his Popvaganza t-shirt that we were all supposed to wear for the last song. "Agh, Jamie, why did you rip your sleeves off again?! I repeatedly told you not to!"

"This isn't mine," he blinked at me.

"It's not?" I frowned.

Mark jumped in and grabbed the now-sleeveless top from Jamie. "Waah, this is great, thanks, man." He pulled it over his head, leaving his biceps exposed. "Ah, much much better, I can move around better."

Meanwhile, Jamie picked up a new t-shirt and proceeded to rip the sleeves off that, as well.

I sat back down and closed my eyes. "Why do I even try..."

"Burt, if we allowed the company to curb our sense of self-expression, where would we be?" Jamie reasoned, I bet without looking up from the task at hand. Rip. Rip. Snip.

I could hear faint snorting from Michelle as she tried not to laugh at my sorry ass. It was comforting that she at least tried.

"Where's LJ?" Mark said, in mid-stretch, and looked around the room.

"Stalking the wife," Jamie replied.

"Oh yeah," Mark chuckled. "I heard Steve's got a new girl."

I heard that, too. Apparently, Jamie hadn't.

"Girl?" Jamie exclaimed.

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"Giiiirl..." Mark sang softly, maybe a bit sharp.

"Steve and a girl? Mark, focus."

"Yup."

"You sure?"

"She works in the radio station, she's the headwriter or something," Mark replied. "Seems like he doesn't go home at all after his radio show on Thursdays, he sleeps in someone else's house."

"Marky Mark, you're worse than a tabloid, where'd you hear this gossip?" Michelle reprimanded him without losing focus on my left eyebrow.

"It's not gossip, I swear," Mark exclaimed. "I asked him if we could redo the rap on Song 6 tomorrow because I found a better rhythm for it, and he said he's sleeping in tomorrow, so I said I'll just drop by his house at lunch time because I have a shoot at 2pm, and he said no way because nobody will be home."

"You sure it's a girl?"

My eyeballs leaned as much as it could towards Jamie so that I could see what his reaction was exactly. However, his face was deadpan. He deadpans really well.

"Her name's Teresa."

"Oh," Jamie said. Then his eyes blinked, as if he suddenly remembered, "Oh, right, I've met her."

"Yeah, we all met her when we guested on his show that one time," Mark nodded, opening another bottle of water. "She's pretty."

"Yeah," Jamie nodded, too. Then, still with his eyes staring off at the memory, he suddenly smiled. "And smart."

I blinked at that. I didn't expect Jamie to smile just now.

I wanted so much to ask him what made him smile, but ever since I walked in on him pushing Steve away from what must have been a hug and Jamie was crying...

A knock on our open door. It was Ned, our manager. I'm surprised he was still here, most of the bigshot managers never stay till the end for these things. "You guys ready? Where's LJ?"

"He went home," Jamie deadpanned. "He said he asked you and you said yes."

Ned muttered an expletive and took out his phone. "I'm gonna kill him," he muttered and walked away. Jamie's face broke into a grin and exchanged a fist bump with Mark.

Michelle swept her make up brush down my nose one last time and smiled. "All done, doll face."

"Thank you, love," I smiled at her. I got up and straightened out my Popvaganza tee. I looked at Mark and Jamie with their shoulders exposed, looking totally different from each other in the same shirt: Mark's stretched over his muscular torso, while Jamie's hung loose over his lithe, wiry frame. They looked so cool. I looked like a dork.

I looked in the mirror and took a deep breath. Okay, dork, let's go.

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