Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, nor will I ever.
Notes: This is the very LAST chapter of this fic, finally! I've had this for so long, and wasn't sure if or when I was gonna post it. But, I did, so please enjoy. I wrote this like... years ago (like a year or maybe two), and I don't write RENT fics anymore, so please bare with me.
It was getting closer I could feel it. I knew the end wasn't too far off. I had just hoped it wouldn't come at all, though that was just wishful thinking. It had been five years since our Angelina came into this world, and she was more like Roger than I wanted to admit. Sure she had her mother's hair, nose, and mouth, and my eyes, and ears, but she was truly Roger's little girl.
I look back on it now, wondering where the time went, and how it seemed to go by so fast. It's not fair, knowing that he was going to die, and actually having to go through with his death. It was too soon. He had so much more life in him, yet it was being pulled away from him. Like a carpet being swept from underneath him, and no way to catch himself. Losing his balance… on life.
I'd watch her sit beside him on the hospital bed, in that cold, white room that smelled horribly of death, and other chemicals, while he was tied up to machines keeping him alive for the most part. He would ask me not to film him in this state, but I couldn't help it. I wanted every last moment with him, even if it meant looking his worst. It was so hard to see him like this, knowing he used to be so full of life; laughing, screaming… just being Roger. I was already missing watching him play his guitar.
He had been teaching her how to play the guitar. Like I said, she was so much like him, her personality, her attitude, her ambitions. Even at five years old, she was already being sassy. He had taught her his ways of manipulation when it came to me. He always knew how to get what he wanted out of me, no matter how many times I'd say no, and now she did too, but not even just of me, but of everyone. Maybe it was just the fact she was only five years old, or that we all loved her very much.
I wasn't ready to lose him, and the longer he was there, in that hospital room, the more real it became. The more I realized this was it, and we had to make the most of it. She did. She always did.
She was a very smart little girl, and not only did she pick things up right away, she memorized things just as quickly, and they always stuck. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear she was Roger's biological child. She certainly had all his mannerisms down. Every little thing Roger used to do, she would do. It's true what they say; the first five years of a child's life is the most influential.
"Daddy, will you be able to come home soon?" Angelina said, taking her daddy's hand into her much smaller, delicate one.
Roger just smiled at her; that smile that always got to me. The one that could always make me blush at a moments notice, and get me flustered. "I don't know, baby." He coughed violently, and I pulled her away from him so she wouldn't be scared. I should have known she wouldn't. She's Roger's child. "If I do, then I'll how you the easiest way to get to daddy," he said, pointing to me. I sneered at him, then he continued. "Without him getting mad. And don't forget the pouty face I taught you."
She showed him the face, and he laughed, then coughed again. Every time he coughed I cringed, so afraid that would be it. That it would be his final breath, and I'd have to explain to Angelina why daddy wasn't coming home. I dreaded that moment more than his actual death, because I knew I wouldn't be able to tell her without sobbing uncontrollably.
"That's my girl." He caressed her cheek softly, and she giggled.
"Roger," I lowered my camera, and smiled weakly at him. "Do you need anything? Something to drink? Eat? Another pillow, maybe?"
He beckoned me over to him with his hand, and I went to his side, sitting beside him, pulling Angelina to my lap. "I would like a kiss." He gave me that smirk he used to always give me right before he'd 'attack' me in bed.
It brightened my smile some, and I leaned over and pressed my lips softly to his. "Come on, you can do better than that."
"Roger," I exclaimed, giving him that, 'not in front of Angelina' look, and he used the pouty face he taught her on me.
Angelina looked up at me, giving me that same look, and how could I resist them. Damn, they were good. "Oh, all right." I leaned over again, and he wrapped an arm around my neck, pulling me down, and kissing me lingeringly.
Angelina giggled. "Eww, my daddies are kissing."
I felt my face flush, and pulled away from Roger. "Honey, that's just what people do when they love each other."
Roger laughed loudly.
"What's so funny?" I scowled, glaring at him over Angelina's head.
"You. When I'm-" He glanced at her, then back to me. "Gone, are you gonna tell her all the sappy things about our lives?"
She turned her attention to me, lifting her head so she could see me better. I felt my face redden, though I tried to make it stop. "Well, yeah. Why not? She should know about the love her daddies shared."
Then she looked at him curiously. "Daddy, what do you mean by gone? Where are you going?" My heart broke hearing that, and a few tears escaped my eyes, sliding down my cheek.
Roger just smiled at her. He always told her the truth, about everything. He'd always say, 'Why hide it? She's gonna have to know eventually.' I just wasn't ready for her to know that we were losing him, though it was obvious this was the best time to tell her. She knew something was wrong, but we just told her daddy was sick.
"Baby girl," He started, drawing her to him, and sitting her down on the side of the bed. "I'm not gonna be around for much longer. I'm…" I could see it in his eyes this was more painful for him than what he was already going through. "I'm dying, and I won't be here for much longer."
And like Roger would, she put on a brave face, as if she already knew this, and smiled meekly at him. "I'll miss you, daddy."
I made the funeral arrangements with his mom's help. She always supported us, and our decision to have Angelina. If only my mom was that open-minded. He didn't last more than a few hours after he told Angelina, and she didn't cry the entire time we were at the hospital, when his heart monitor stopped, and the doctors and nurses came rushing in, pushing us out. I watched through the window as they tried to revive him, clutching her tightly, and sobbing the entire time. Not her, though.
She hugged me as tightly as her little arms would allow her, comforting me. I'm supposed to comfort her, and she was comforting me. I don't know if it was because she was so young, and didn't quite understand what death was, or she knew, but she knew Roger would always be with her in spirit. At least that's what he told her. Either way she didn't cry. Well, not until the funeral anyway.
"Daddy," she began softly, her tears falling gracefully down her rosy little cheeks. "Why did daddy have to die?"
Can I just die now? How am I going to answer that question without falling apart? Telling her about Roger's past without actually telling her? Where's Maureen when you need her? This is definitely a mommy question. That was what I was thinking when she asked that question. Not to mention the sudden burst of tears my eyes received while contemplating how to answer that question.
"Well, honey- uh, I'm not-" I knelt down beside her, and couldn't help but smile. "Because honey, it was daddy's time."
"Where did he go? Will he even come back? Can I visit him?" Her eyes full of wonder and curiosity.
I laughed bitterly. "No honey, I wish we could. He… He's in heaven now." I couldn't contain my tears. They poured from my eyes, like waves crashing on a shore.
"What's heaven? It is a nice place?"
I nodded, and smiled. "Yeah, it's a nice place."
"Is it like the city? I love the city. So did daddy…" A beautiful little smile formed across her lips as she trailed off into her thoughts, thinking of the trips her and Roger went on, venturing through New York City.
I laughed suddenly. That was a question that took me by surprise. Roger's little girl through and through.
"What's so funny daddy?"
I smiled brightly at her, just thinking of Roger running around in a field, and it suddenly turned into NYC. Then him, standing in the middle of Time Square, wailing away at his guitar. "Just thinking about daddy, honey."
"I miss him." Her smile faded, as did mine, and she ran into my arms and gave me the biggest hug she could.
"I miss him too, honey. Hey, you ready to go home?" The funeral had already ended, and we had been standing beside his grave, just watching them fill the hole that held our beloved.
"Is mommy and mommy Joanne going to be there?" Her face perked up.
"Yes, and uncle Collins and aunt Latrice will be there too. Just like here." Collins was the only one left. First Angel, then Mimi, now Roger. As for Latrice, Latrice is another drag queen, much like Angel was, who stole Collins attention, and his heart. Not that he didn't still love Angel, cuz he always will, but he found someone else like him, who loved him for who he was, and he loved him… I mean her.
She smiled sweetly. "Okay."
The drive home was quiet. No questions about where daddy went, or even things like, 'I'm hungry,' or 'I have to go potty.' Nothing like that. Just silence.
We arrived at the loft, where everybody had already gathered. It's strange how people have a party after a funeral. Why? To celebrate? To drown your sorrows in alcohol, or other substances? To console with friends and loved ones? All I wanted was to go home, put Angelina to bed, then fall against my bed, and not move for years. I was physically, and emotionally exhausted.
Friends and family consoled us, as expected. Maureen even dropped her usual childish act and behaved like the Maureen I knew when we first met. She wasn't always like this. At one time she was a shy girl. She certainly didn't have the charisma or fighting spirit as this Maureen does.
My parents were there, which actually came as a surprise. My sister was there too. I guess after all these years, they finally figured out we were all family. I got a hug from dad, and a whole mess of kisses from mom, riddled with worry. And poor Angelina got the worse from grandma. My sister gave her condolences, as well as a few kisses of her own. The cousins all hugged Angelina, though she didn't quite understand why they were all hugging her.
It was like that for hours before the party finally dissipated. Angelina had already fallen asleep on my lap a couple hours before. Another hour went by before everybody else finally left. I put her down, and went to bed myself with no intentions of moving for weeks.
Maureen learned to play mom, while I had to work, taking Angelina for me. Benny offered to pay for the funeral, but I knew if Roger knew that 'yuppy scum' paid for his funeral, he'd be turning over in his grave. Not to mention, he'd probably haunt me for the rest of my life. Although, I certainly wouldn't have minded that. Benny did, however, give me the loft, as a gift. It came as quite a shock, but he seemed to have taken a liking to Angelina. Saying how he wished he and Alison would have kids. I never would've pegged Benny as the fatherly type.
That helped though. Having the loft, knowing it was ours, legally, and there was no way Benny could take it from us. And with the fear of Benny trying to make me pay rent gone, I finally got a heater installed, so we wouldn't freeze in the winter. Even had the window replaced in what was once Roger's room. He busted it during one of our fights, and it was left like that because we couldn't afford replacing it.
It was so weird being in that loft without the sound of Roger's guitar wailing Musetta's Waltz, slightly off key, or something he wrote, or even tried to write. How could you go and die? What a lonely, selfish thing to do. Leaving me alone with our daughter. Our daughter, Roger. I missed him so much.
Today, I'm giving my little girl away. She's all grown up now, and not so little anymore. If only Roger could see how beautiful she became. I'm sure he can, but it's not the same. She looks so much like him, which is beyond strange, but I'm certainly not complaining. If it were at all possible, she would have been his biological daughter.
She looked so beautiful in her wedding dress. I can't believe it's been eighteen years since Roger died. She's a woman, about to start a life of her own. The boy she's marrying is someone she's known since they were in grade school, and I know he's a good person. I know he'll take good care of our little girl, Roger.
Maureen has been frantic all day, making sure Angelina was just perfect. Her and Joanne finally ended about eight years ago, and she's been on and off with another woman, but Joanne is still a big part of our lives. She would still visit us almost everyday, and Angelina would still call her mom, though Maureen got pissy about that. Same old Maureen.
Over the last eighteen years, Angelina blossomed from the sweet little girl that Roger saw, and knew before he took his final breath, to a beautiful young woman. Her teen years, though, were as I had expected. She was full of angst, anger, and sorrow, especially when she'd get her heart broken by a boy she had a crush on. She used to dress up all in black, wearing interesting makeup, and just go out. She even joined a local rock band; playing the fender Roger left her, which helped her channel that angst, and anger she had.
Everyday after he died, for a whole year, we'd go to his grave, and just talk to him as if he were right there, listening. I swear I could hear his guitar playing Musetta's Waltz softly in the wind. She did too. After that, we would go once a year on the anniversary of his death. His headstone was simple. It read: "Roger Davis. Father, lover, pretty boy front man. May 13th - November 2nd." He died in the fall. He hated the fall, and now, so do I.
"Daddy, are you ready?" I was sitting on a chair outside the room Angelina was getting ready in. She had opened the door, and tapped me on the shoulder.
I smiled brightly at her. "Just waiting for you."
I stood up, hearing my bones creak, and she wrapped her not-so-little arms around my neck, hugging me; she was taller than me. Then again, who wasn't? I could hear her crying softly.
"You wish daddy were here, don't you? Me too." She pulled away, and I reached up, wiping her tears before her makeup smeared, and she smiled.
"He would've been the one to walk you down the isle, huh?"
She shook her head. "No. I would've wanted both of you to do it. One on each arm." She hooked her arm into mine, and I walked her to the door, smiling. The wedding march began, and I led her down the isle to the man who'd be taking her away from me.
After the wedding, we had a huge reception at the loft. All her friends were there, as well as our family. Much like Roger's funeral, but this was truly a reason to celebrate, and the only consoling being done was for Maureen, who was crying on my shoulder.
"She grew up way to fast, Marky." I held her, hugging her. She finally stopped flirting with me a few years ago, really making an attempt to be faithful to her girlfriend. She grew up, which surprised me, but she truly became mom. Especially after Roger died.
"Yes, she did." I had my camera on the whole time. The funny thing is, when it came to filming the wedding, I set up the camera by the pulpit, so I could capture everyone walking down the isle, as well as seeing the groom. Then once I 'gave her away', I took over filming. I had to make sure to get every little moment. Like now.
I spoke briefly with Maureen, then wandered the room, filming it all. Still hiding behind that damn camera. Like Roger said.
Once the party slowly dissolved, and it was just family and close friends, I brought out the projector; I had to get a new one, because the other one finally broke on me. My camera somehow managed to last this long, though it has seen it's share of repair shops. I played old videos of when Roger and I were teenagers, and wondered how Roger never really seemed to change much. How he was always so beautiful to me, and never seemed to age.
I showed videos of us when we first moved into the loft, and of a younger Collins and Benny even, and Maureen, who cried out how young she looked, and wished she still had that figure. Angelina and I shook our heads, and laughed. Maureen hasn't changed much either, except maybe for a few grays, which she managed to hide with hair coloring.
I showed videos of Angel, Mimi, Joanne, and just all of us. My favourite has to be the time we all went to the Life Café, and danced on the tables. Angelina seemed to enjoy it too. She was smiling, and crying at the same time, as was I, and her new husband comforted her, and held her hand, and I realized she didn't need me for that anymore.
My truly favourite videos to show though were of Maureen while she was pregnant with Angelina, and Mo screamed at me for showing that.
"Mom, you looked beautiful there. You still do. You always do." She had my knack for saying the right things to Maureen, which caused her to smile and continue to watch.
The next video was of the actual birth. Of Mo screaming at me for putting her through that, and Roger laughing, before they kicked him out. Once Angelina was born they let him back in. Of Roger taking her into his arms as soon as he came back in. Everyone cooed, and awed at how beautiful she was. I controlled my tears, surprisingly, and Angelina blushed.
The rest of the videos were of Angelina growing up. The first five years with Roger, and how it showed she was truly his baby girl. There was footage of Roger teaching her how to play the acoustic guitar with a smaller acoustic guitar he found at the pawnshop. It was still to big for her, so he'd sit on the floor with her, holding it with her, and showing her where to put her little fingers, and how to strum the guitar.
We watched as he taught her all the songs he knew, including Musetta's Waltz, though she perfected it, as well as the song he had written for Mimi. However, he changed the words, and it became a lullaby for Angelina.
That really made her cry. She'd watched these before, over the years, but this time there was more to it. She stood up, ran to her room, and brought out that guitar, which was now the perfect size for her. She sat down on the table, guitar in lap, and began tuning it. It reminded me of Roger. Once tuned, she began the song.
"Your eyes, as we said our goodnights. Can't get them out of my mind, and I find I can't hide, from your eyes. The ones that took me by surprise. The day you came into my life, where there's sunlight, I see your eyes. I'll never let you slip away, not as long as I'm holding you. Now I'd live just one more day, if that meant that I could just hold you. If that meant I could just hold you. When I look into your eyes; you're so beautiful, and wise. You, as the song will go on, and this song will never die. I should tell you, I should tell you, I will always love you. You can see it in my eyes." She barely got through the song before the tears poured out of her eyes.
Her friends, and my parents clapped, but the rest of us, we knew. That song meant so much more than some of them realized, and we were all crying. I wanted to go to her, to hold her, and tell her Roger was here with us now, but her husband was there, and that's what he's there for.
I showed a few more videos before the night officially ended. Angelina left with her husband to go on their honeymoon. I told her they could live with me, just until they got on their feet, and she was so happy, she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and agreed. The rest of the guests left too, and I was left all alone with a messy loft, and my memories.
So, I'm here… nowhere.