Disclaimer: Unfortunately, Mark and Roger aren't mine. Nor are any of their wonderful friends. They are Jonathan Larson's. But I promise I'll put them back where I found them when I'm finished playing with them.
Author's note: Please please please read and review. I'll give my first born child to whosoever gives me my first ever review. Yes, first ever. My first fic. My first to be posted as well. If you're not going to play nice and be nice to me and tell me how great it was, please bring whips and chains and not long, ranting, yelling flames. Please and thank you.
Thanks/acknowledgements: Thanks to Lexi who plays the Mark to my Roger in our wonderful, not-quite-so-finished RENT storyline. A lot of these ideas and such sprang from our RP sessions.
Mark knows it. Roger does too. The difference between them is, as it always was, that Mark chose to acknowledge it and then hide how he felt about it and Roger simply chose to ignore it. Thinking back on it, Mark figures he'd always known. Thinking back on it, Roger—well, Roger never made it past knowing.
For as long as anyone could remember, Mark and Roger had been just that—Mark and Roger. Nobody questioned it or said anything out loud, but of course they wondered. They were co-dependent. They needed each other.
"Take your AZT."
"Turn that goddamn camera off and get some fucking sleep. Jesus, Mark!"
In their own little ways, they took care of each other and for all intents and purposes, they were more a married couple than Benny and Alison.
Roger never acknowledged anything unless he was forced to come to terms with it. He pretended not to notice when Mimi would come in hours after she said she'd be home reeking of sex and booze, the marks on her arms weeping. He didn't even acknowledge the fact that she was gone. It would have hurt too badly. Because "gone" was much different when it was "gone" like Angel and April than it was when it was "gone" like Mimi. "Gone" with Mimi was that even intimacy was distant and eventually, she got sick of it and walked out like he'd threatened to do so many times.
And so he went back to Mark. He'd never admit it, but Mark was his constant. No matter what Roger went through or did to him, Mark was always there, waiting for him with his camera and his stupid scarf and nerdy glasses and lost puppy expression. Roger had always thought of him as a sort of lost puppy, but now he thought that it was stupid to consider him that. Because he knew who was really the lost one.
But like with April, Roger didn't acknowledge it until he had to. He refused to see that they both had a problem and that their "bit of fun" was starting to get out of hand. He didn't care when they couldn't remember whose needles were whose and whose stash was bigger. It wasn't until he had found her in the bathroom and he was forced to recognize it that he did. Maybe that was why he just didn't acknowledge it like Mark did until Mark forced him to.
"Take your AZT." Mark briefly looked over the top of his camera at Roger before going back to looking at him through the lens. "Close on Roger, ignoring the fact that his beeper went off five minutes ago."
Roger just glared at him and sighed. "I'll take it in a minute." He didn't even bother looking up from his guitar. He knew Mark would nag until he took it, so there was no chance of forgetting and he took his sweet time. Fingers randomly raced up and down the fingerboard.
"It's already been five minutes." Mark heaved a sigh and shut off his camera. Roger knew he meant business if the camera went off. That meant that Mark was getting ready to focus all his attention on nagging the hell out of him. Wonderful.
Roger figured he was better off if he just took his meds now before Hurricane Mark struck their apartment. For the most part, Mark was fairly mild mannered and relatively easy to get along with, but one thing he had an absolutely zero tolerance policy with was Roger's health. If Roger neglected to eat for more than a day, Mark was right there shoveling sandwiches down his throat in the nicest way possible. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that the musician often neglected his health more than he ought to, especially for someone who should be overly conscious of it. And Mark always called him on it.
Mark had just opened his mouth to chastise him for his lack of attention to his health and to tell him again to take his medicine and that he shouldn't have to battle him over his health like he did when Roger went into the bathroom, pulled a bottle from the medicine cabinet. Simply out of spite, he marched himself into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water. When he put the pills in his mouth, he exaggerated his movements to plainly show Mark what he was doing and when he'd swallowed them; he narrowed his eyes and went back into the bathroom. After he'd put the bottle back, he marched back into the living room and threw himself back onto the floor, picking up his guitar with another angry glance at Mark. Roger didn't know why, but something about Mark's nagging and caring so much about him filled him with rage. He wouldn't admit to secretly knowing, but he knew it was because he wanted to push him away so he wouldn't care so much. He knew that he would someday, and probably someday soon, leave Mark all alone and he tried his best to lessen that pain for him. The only problem was that rather than have the desired effect; they only made Mark try harder.
"Why do you do that?" He sounded more hurt than angry. "Don't look at me like I just threw away your favorite CD. I'm just trying to help!" When Roger swatted at the hand that was reaching out to test the water before actually sitting beside him, Mark recoiled, suddenly angered. "Well, it's not like you're gonna do it yourself!"
Roger shook his head at the argument he felt about to ensue. Inwardly, he seethed, momentarily loathing every last thing about Mark. And what annoyed him more was that he noticed everything about him so there was just more to hate.
"And that doesn't mean you have to fucking do it for me! Goddamn it, Mark. I am perfectly fucking capable of taking care of myself."
"Then why don't you do it?" Roger could see how angry Mark was getting. It was a steady rise, though. Mark wasn't like Roger at all in that respect. Roger's temper could go from zero to you-have-a-broken-nose in seconds. With Mark you could see him slowly heat up, but he never quite exploded. Usually there was a certain point where you'd see other people absolutely lose it. Not Mark. When he hit that point, he retreated.
"Why does it make a fucking difference to you? It's my fucking life. Fuck you."
"No. Fuck you." He waved Mark off. Dismissing him from his mothering duties.
"Roger, don't be like this."
"Like you're being. Don't." His mood was softening and he almost tried to sit down by Roger again. Almost.
Roger was almost convinced that Mark was genuinely settled again and that only made his temper rise again. "Don't even start feeding me this crap. Patronizing me by letting me get all pissed off and then play the mediator and have to calm me down again. Fuck you." He slammed his guitar down and stood up, fleeing heatedly to his room, giving the entire flat a good rattle as he slammed the door.
Mark sighed and rubbed his temple with two fingers, shaking his head.
The rest of the night passed without a word between the two. Roger confined himself to his room and Mark to his. After a few hours, though, Roger could no longer stand the silence in the apartment. He snuck out around one in the morning to get his guitar from where he'd left it in the living room. Only it wasn't there.
He knew at once where it had gone and why it had gone there. Mark had kidnapped it. Taken it hostage, even. And Roger talking to him was its ransom. He cursed his affection for the guitar because only his Fender could get him to brave enemy territory after a squabble.
Mark heard a sharp pounding on his door. Aha! So his plan had worked. He groped around the nightstand for his glasses and shoved them onto his face. Had he not known Roger better, he would have left his door unlocked. But Mark knew that Roger would have tried the door and had it been unlocked, he would have attempted a stealth mission to recover the precious kidnapped article, leaving the kidnapper with an unpaid ransom.
"You fucking bastard give my goddamn guitar back! Open this fucking door and give me my fucking guitar. NOW." Roger was livid. Absolutely livid. He would never stoop so low as to steal Mark's camera. Ever.
Mark grinned to himself as he pulled the door open after unlocking it. "Roger, so good to see you! Won't you please come in?"
"Give me my fucking Fender. I fucking sold my soul for that fucking guitar. Fuck you. This is not cool, Marky. Not fucking cool. I don't fuck with your stupid fucking camera." Roger pushed past him, sending Mark a little more harshly than he had intended into the wall, but he didn't really notice. He was scouring the room for his precious guitar.
Meanwhile, Mark stood in the shadows, rubbing his chest. "It's in the corner."
Roger had already made his way to the far corner of the small room and stormed back toward the door. He took a breath and raised a finger, ready to start screaming, but the wounded animal look on Mark's face made him stop short. By no means was his anger gone or even deflated, he simply put it momentarily on hold to snap a quick, "What." It wasn't even really a question. But he couldn't stand the look on Mark's face.
Mark shook his head, adjusting his glasses; a habit, Roger noticed, that he rarely did when he wasn't nervous or thinking about something. "Nothing." His voice still held a neutral tone, but it lacked conviction.
"Bullshit. What?" Now he was getting annoyed. Roger absolutely detested it when Mark gave him that hurt face and then played it off like nothing was wrong.
"Nothing! You just," he paused a moment, searching for the right word, "you surprised me is all."
"When I came in looking for my fucking guitar that you lifted?"
"No. When you pushed me into the wall." Well, he said it calmly enough, but Roger reacted as though Mark had just slapped him in the face.
"Well maybe if you didn't go around fucking stealing peoples' guitars, you wouldn't get pushed out of their way and into walls." Deep down, Roger felt stupid and mildly ashamed that he had just justified pushing his best friend into a wall.
That seemed to strike a nerve with Mark. He even looked a little offended by it. But he refused to sit here and play the 'Well if you didn't...' game with Roger again. It never went anywhere. His voice rose to match Roger's, hoping it would make him heard over the loud roaring of Roger's testosterone. He could tell Roger was almost ready to hit him. Fine. So be it. Because Mark already knew how awful it would make him feel and if it got through to him, it was more than worth it.
"I was just trying to get you to talk to me!"
"There's nothing to talk about." Suddenly, Roger felt his anger deflate and he went back into shell-mode where he closed of completely to everyone, Mark included. He started to walk out, feeling more than a little depressed by it.
"No, that's right Rog. There's never anything to talk about, is there?"
"Fuck off." He said quietly, giving a half-hearted wave of his hand to shoo Mark, who was following him, away.
"No! I'm not done. This is ridiculous! You complain about me getting you all worked up about something then dropping it! What do you call this? Huh? You fucking pushed me into a wall, Rog! And I'm probably going to have bruises. I'm a little more than pissed off right now and you're going to crawl off and go sulk! Bullshit! That's stupid!" Mark fought to keep a hold on his anger, but this was getting out of hand.
But Roger turned on him again, putting his guitar quickly on the bed before raising his hands helplessly in the air. "I'm sorry! I'm fucking sorry, okay? God!" He knew he shouldn't have yelled so loud because he saw Mark wince, but at the moment, he didn't care. He was so angry at the whole situation in general that he felt like if he didn't hit something, he would just pop. He didn't want that something to be Mark, so he reached back and sent his fist flying into the wall opposite his friend with a loud cry of anger.
Mark's eyes widened behind the thick black frames of his glasses and he flinched when he heard the thud of the impact and the unmistakable crack of bones.
A very loud, very long string of curses followed suit. Mark took Roger's moment of weakness to grab him by the sleeve of his black AC/DC shirt and drag him to the small kitchen table and forced him into a chair. He pulled a kitchen rag from one of the drawers and ran in under the cool water from the sink, wrung it out and swung it around to make it cooler. They had long since unplugged their illegal refrigerator, which meant no ice. Typical. So the rag would have to do.
Mark pulled his chair directly in front of Roger's and took his hand gingerly. Roger was still cursing under his breath in pain as Mark carefully examined the damage done.
"Well, I don't think you've broken any fingers or anything," he said after a while. "Looks like you just put a couple of them out of socket or something. C'mere." Mark took the injured hand between both of his. Roger's fingers were indeed out of their sockets, but luckily only two of them. "This is going to hurt. Probably a lot."
Trying to make it as painless as possible, Mark straightened out Roger's fingers and popped them back into place, eliciting a yelp of pain from Roger. Mark apologized profusely as Roger cursed some more, yelling about how he needed his fucking hand to play guitar goddamn it!
"Sorry. Sorry, I know. I know!" He didn't sound annoyed, oddly enough. He actually sounded extremely sorry. "Here, put this on it. We don't have any ice, but the coolness will help. God, I'm sorry, Rog."
Roger sounded overly tired. "Stop apologizing. It's not your fault."
"Sorry." Mark just busied himself with tending to Roger's hand, wrapping the cold rag around it. "Uh, Rog?"
A few minutes that seemed so much longer than that passed in silence with Mark attempting to make the rag colder for Roger's crippled hand.
Mark found himself mentally griping about how oblivious Roger was to absolutely everything. He never noticed anything unless you shoved it right under his nose.
But before Roger could finish his sentence, Mark had stood up, moved in front of him, leaned down and was currently pouring all of his emotions into his mouth via a kiss. It was fairly chaste and short, but it surged with feeling.
If that didn't tell Roger what he was trying to say, Mark wasn't sure what would. But he couldn't get any closer to shoving how he felt about Roger under his nose than a kiss.
His mouth was right under his nose.