A/N: Thanks again to Zi and Michelle. You should all thank Michelle, because if it wasn't for her you would have ended up reading a really horrible ending in which Mark committed suicide. It was bad. Hopefully I'll have another chapter of "I Could Get Used to You" up soon. This was sort of an attempt to cure writer's block. Enjoy.
It was three o' clock in the morning, and Mark Cohen was rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, making his way to Roger's old room. He thought he'd heard some Spanish coming from that direction. Normally he would have assumed he was dreaming but in this case he found that unlikely. After all, Mark didn't speak Spanish.
But Mimi did.
"Why were you shouting?"
"Sorry, I stubbed my toe. I didn't mean to wake you up."
Well, that was all well and good, but Mark still couldn't figure out why Mimi would be shouting in Spanish up in his apartment instead of downstairs in her own.
"Why were you shouting up here?"
Mimi laughed slightly at Mark's sleepy manner.
"I came to see if Roger was up here. He's not home yet, and I'm getting worried. They weren't supposed to be playing late tonight…" She seemed to be absorbed in her worries for a moment, before suddenly realizing that Mark was still standing in front of her. "Sorry I woke you up. I'll just go back downstairs and wait for him."
She turned to leave, but Mark had woken up by this point.
"I'll wait with you. Go ahead; I'll meet you down there."
Mimi nodded and walked out the door.
Within five minutes, Mark walked into Mimi's apartment carrying a big plastic bowl.
"I brought popcorn."
Mimi couldn't help smiling.
"I always ate popcorn when I would wait for Roger … before. It makes sense, doesn't it? No one saves any popcorn for the movie. They eat it all before it starts, so they don't have to think about waiting."
Mimi looked at Mark, almost pityingly, as he plopped down next to her on the couch with a smile and a bowl of popcorn.
"I guess you'd know. You've done a lot of waiting."
Mark shrugged, seemingly uncomfortable with this topic. Mimi wasn't surprised when he changed the subject.
"You really should eat this. It's extra-butter."
Mimi laughed and grabbed a handful of the popcorn.
"All right, but Roger had better not make a habit of being late, or you'll end up making me big and fat," she teased.
"Yeah, right," laughed Mark. "Like that could ever happen."
He looked around, and realized that he couldn't see much of anything.
"Why are we sitting in the dark?"
"I like the dark."
There was silence for a while, except for the crunching of extra-butter popcorn.
"Do you worry about him a lot, then, when he's late?"
"I worry about him, sure, but I trust him. It's not like I can duct tape him to a chair all day. Besides, 'si amas algo, déjalo libre,' right?"
"Something my mother used to say to me. 'Si amas algo, déjalo libre. Si vuelve a ti, es tuyo. Si no vuelve, nunca lo fue.'"
Mark looked at her blankly.
"And that means..?"
"'If you love something, let it free. If it returns to you, it is yours. If it doesn't return, it never was.' I've got to let him go sometimes, you know? So he can come back."
"Oh. All my mother used to tell me was to wash my hands before dinner."
Mimi laughed, glad to lighten up their somber vigil, but the laughter died down before long.
Mark was quiet for a while, staring at his folded hands. Finally, he spoke.
"Would you return? If you didn't feel like you had to?"
"Of course I would. Did you really think otherwise?"
"No. I would too."
"I know. That's what we're doing now, isn't it? Returning. Waiting. They're the same, really."
Mark processed this idea for a moment, then nodded slowly.
"Yes. They're exactly the same."
Mimi glanced at him again, and repeated her earlier observation.
"You've done a lot of waiting. Haven't you, Mark?"
"Yeah. I have."
Although Mark didn't change the subject this time, he didn't seem to want to elaborate on it either.
Mimi took pity on him and switched topics herself.
"Mark, what time is it?"
He glanced at his watch.
"He hasn't been this late before."
"He has. Just not since you've known him. He'll," Mark paused, "return."
As the response left her lips, Mimi wondered whether Mark had been addressing her or reassuring himself.
"Maybe… Maybe you haven't really let him go yet."
"Maybe you should."
"I'm afraid he wouldn't come back."
Mimi leaned her head on Mark's shoulder, running her hands through his hair in a comforting manner.
"He would. He loves you, too, you know. He just gets distracted. But he'll always come back. To both of us."
"I know, it's just—damn!"
"We ate all the popcorn."
They looked at each other with great solemnity for a moment, then leaned back and began to laugh, turning all their worries and awkwardness into laughter. They laughed until they cried, because they had eaten all the popcorn and they hadn't even noticed that the feature presentation had walked into the room while they were laughing over the previews.
"What's so funny? Mark, what are you doing here?"
Mark and Mimi jumped off the couch, blinking and shading their eyes as Roger flipped on the light switch.
"What took you so long?" demanded Mimi, her hands on her hips.
"We played longer than I expected. It was a good crowd. I'm really tired, though, I'm going to go on to bed. Hey, Mark, we're going to hang out sometime soon, alright? Just you and me."
"Sounds great, Rog," Mark replied, sounding unconvinced. It didn't much matter. Roger had already retreated to the bedroom.
Mimi walked up to Mark and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Keep waiting. And come down here if it gets too lonely. I'll supply the popcorn."
"Thanks, but I'm tired of waiting."
"Then let him go. He'll come back on his own. Like Little Bo Peep, right? 'Leave them alone and they'll come home wagging their tails behind them.'"
Mark couldn't help but laugh.
"Only you could make Little Bo Peep a philosophical inspiration."
"Let him go."
"Mimi!" called Roger from the bedroom. "Are you coming, or are you and Mark going to run off together?"
"Me and Mark are running off together."
"All right. Wake me up when you come back."
"You should go," suggested Mark. "He's waiting for you."
"I know. Goodnight, Mark. Sleep tight."
"Night, Mimi. And… thanks."