Author: Stephanie (gildedmuse)
Series: Touch & Tell Lullabye
Rating/Warning: Currantly? Low PG-13. SLASH. Rating will go up in later chapters, with a warning at the begining of said chapters.
Summary: Mark has trouble sleeping at night, but Roger can help him out. (Roger/Mark)
Touch and Tell Lullaby
Chapter I: Are You Sleeping?
"So this is it."
Roger puts his guitar in the corner. He's more interested in making sure it's not in danger of getting scratched up then he is his new roommate.
Temporary new roommate, he reminds himself. He would just have to share a room until him or Collins or Benny managed to make some money. Then they could pay rent without help, or maybe move somewhere they wouldn't have to share with suspiciously large mice. That is the goal, because in the end everyone in the loft is just a temporary roommate that somehow got himself stuck there.
Roger hears shuffling at the doorway. The blond is still standing outside the room. He is shifting from foot to foot, too nervous to follow Roger inside the bedroom. It's possible this has something to do with the way Roger has made no attempt at hide his aggravation at being forced to share, or it could simply be the way that Roger's house cleaning skills had their own way of making people tremble. Either way, Roger found himself more annoyed with this new guy then he had been before. He growls and reminds himself to hate Collins tomorrow even more than he had originally planned.
Mark says, "It's err..."
Roger motions to something on the floor that might have been a mattress in a past life. "You sleep there."
"Oh," Mark face contorts slightly. The idea of sleeping so close to the ground - or what is probably the ground under stacks of Roger's clothes and magazines and junk - obviously didn't help his nerves. Roger can't help but snicker when a roach chooses that moment to scuttle across Mark's bed. "All right then."
"Yeah." Roger sits on his bed and pulls his guitar up with him. He tries to be as aloof as possible. He wants Mark to know that this roommate thing is not his idea. "And don't make too much noise. You don't snore, do you?"
Mark shakes his head. "No," he says, worrying his lower lip between his teeth. "No. I... I don't think I do."
That night Roger is woken up by what sounds like a beating.
A one sided beating in which the assailant makes no noise and the prey is almost ready to give up, but is still kicking and crying around the gag. It reminds Roger of a mugging he saw in a movie once, or possibly just a mugging he passed by on the street. It's too late for him to remember the exact details. It definitely sounds like a mugging, though.
If some asshole is robbing someone in the hallway, couldn't he have the decently to do it when people weren't trying to sleep?
Roger is still half a sleep, but his awake enough that his bladder feels heavy and won't be ignored. He growls, forgetting about the sounds that woke him up and more concerned with his need to piss. He struggles to free himself under the heavy covers, not paying attention to the background noise filtering through his sleep hazed mind or where he's stepping.
"Shit." Roger jerks back onto his bed. He picks up his foot, not surprised to find blood flowing out of a brand new wound. He looks down on the floor to kick whatever he'd managed to stab himself on. A pile of magazines. A broken amp. Mark.
His mind comes to a slow stop.
Mark, the new roommate, doesn't snore. He does kick and whimper and wrestle with his covers though. Roger's mind backtracks to earlier when he'd only been half conscious. It dawns on him that no one is being mugged in his hallway.
"Mark." Roger kicks the young man in the side. In his sleep, Mark doubles over. The whimpers and groans turn into small cries. Roger rolls his eyes and kicks again, a little harder this time. "Mark."
"Fuck," is the first thing out of Mark's mouth, followed by, "What the hell?"
Roger is thinking the same thing. "You having nightmares or something?"
Mark half sits up. He's wearing a sleep shirt with a picture of some cartoon on it that Roger doesn't recognize, his hair is going in ten thousand different directions, his cheeks are flushed, and he's rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He looks ten years old and like the sort of kid that would have nightmares.
"You didn't wet the bed or anything, did you?" Roger asks.
When Mark narrows his eyes he looks even younger. "No," he spat. He reaches down to pull the blankets up around his body and hugs them around his shoulders. Roger reminds himself to kill Collins in the morning. He roomed him with a baby. "And I wasn't having nightmares."
"Whatever," Roger says, flopping back onto the bed. He could personally care less what Mark was dreaming about so long as he shuts up about it. "Just don't make so much noise when you sleep," He says.
Mark snorts and says, "Fine."
Roger gets use to waking up at odd hours.
Mark, it turns out, isn't nearly as annoying awake as he is asleep. Roger doesn't mind him hanging around the loft, even takes him to a few of the band's gigs and shows Mark around Alphabet city. Mark has a sense of humor and a sense of artistic morals and he's not one of those snobby suburban brats who end up leaving New York in under a month when they figure out what street life is really like. He's got ideas and a camera he carries around with him everywhere. He can go on and on about film and scripts and the trouble with Hollywood for hours, but he can also listen without having to tell his opinion on every little thing. Usually too much of that sort of thing might start getting on Roger's nerves, but on Mark it look good.
By three months Roger gets use to being woken up by Mark's nightmares. He doesn't ask what they're about, just throws a pillow or kicks at Mark and tells him to shut up. Mark either mutters and apology or calls Roger an asshole before both boys go back to sleep.
So when Collins asks what's wrong with Mark, Roger doesn't even know what he's talking about.
Collins gives him that look. That look that Roger sometimes has the urge to take a swing at, and has on occasions. It's that almost smile, like Collins is laughing inside about how oblivious some people can be. Like it's amusing to see people confused.
He says, "Mark? You know, your roommate Mark."
Roger rolls his eyes and says, "Yeah and, like I said. Nothing wrong with him."
"What about all the crying?" Collins asks.
"What crying?" Roger tries to think back over all the time he spends with Mark and comes up empty as far as crying is involved. Lots of smiling and a few of those lost kid looks, but nothing to worry about.
Collins looks like he's concerned about Roger. It's the type of expression he gets when he knows Roger is on edge and is trying to figure out why. Roger just growls and ends up pouting a little. "Look. I hang out with him all the time and I've never seen him cry!" Collins is probably right to worry. Roger's anger is beginning to flare, and Roger is incapable of reason when he's upset. Still, Collins is worry about Mark and presses on.
"Don't tell me you're the one spending all night in tears," Collins says.
Roger finally catches on. "Those are just his nightmares," he explains, glad they'd cleared up the fact that Mark isn't some little crybaby.
Collins raises an eyebrow. "Nightmares?" He asks. "He sounds like he'd getting beaten to death over nightmares? What the hell does that boy dream about?"
Roger shrugs. "No idea. He's always had them, though. I mean, since he moved in."
"And you've never asked him what they're about?" The way Collins says it he makes it sound like Roger's done something wrong.
Roger's temperature jumps a few degrees. "Look, it's not my problem," he says. "If you're so damn curious talk to Mark about it!"
He storms out of the loft and hurries away to get something that will put an end to all these stupid thoughts about Mark and his nightmares.
When April spends the night everyone at the loft knows it has nothing to do with music. Mark gives Roger a crooked smile, which doesn't do anything to hide the fact that his cheeks are bright red and gathers his blankets before moving to the couch.
So when Roger is woken up at seven in the morning it's not because of Mark. Not at first.
April is pushing against his shoulder, chanting his name. Not the same way she had been doing earlier, though, and therefore Roger isn't really interested. He slaps her hand away and asks, "What?"
"Do you hear that?" April asks.
Roger gets silent and listens for something out of place. "You were dreaming, April. Go back to bed. I've got practice tomorrow and-"
"I am not dreaming," April snaps. "You don't hear that? It sounds like someone is crying."
Roger sighs and goes silent and still for a while. Little whimpers and cries that had become part of Roger's background noise are suddenly brought to the front of his mind. "That's just Mark," he says. "He's having nightmares, that's all. Now go back to sleep."
"Your roommate has nightmares?" April asks. "What is he, ten?" Roger thinks this is a stupid question and doesn't answer. April apparently forgets the question because she doesn't seem to mind his silence and ends up cuddling into Roger's chest.
Roger pushes her away. "It's too hot," he complains. He rolls over, burring his face into his pillow and trying to mute the echoes of whimpers that were barely there and that were all he could here. "Just go back to sleep," he says. "He'll shut up, eventually."
When Roger wakes up too early in the morning for anything else, he assumes it's because of Mark. Recently, Mark has taken to sleeping in the other bedroom, and Roger hardly feels the need to go over and wake him up anymore, though occasionally he'll crawl out of bed and make sure Mark hasn't managed to hurt himself in his sleep (like that one time he cut his arm up on the loose mattress springs). So when he's woken up this time he stays in bed and tries to drift back to sleep.
Roger is awake for nearly five minutes before he realizes the loft is completely silent.
He rolls away from April's too warm body. Mark's nightmares are one of the few constants in his life, and for the loft not to be filled with kicks and screams isn't normal. The only explanation Roger's sleep hazed mind can manage is that Mark isn't at the apartment.
Roger pulls on a pair of pants and goes to check on the rest of the loft, which has been strongly empty for the last week. Collins is visiting some college in what he hopes will end with a job. Benny is at his girlfriend's place for the night, a girlfriend he refuses to talk about with the rest of them. Roger is so sure that Mark isn't at the loft that he doesn't bother to keep quiet as he crosses the living room or swings up the other bedroom door.
He's surprised to see a lump under Mark's covers.
He's more surprised when he realizes there are two lumps.
The bedroom isn't well lit, just the one lamp in the living room that has to make its way around Roger and filter into the room, but its enough for Roger to make out a head of bushy curls that is certainly not Mark and way more limbs than could belong to a single person.
The girl looks up at Roger and blinks. "Who's there?"
"Who are you?" Roger growls.
He always knew that Mark is a guy and, like other guys, probably had to have sex every now and then. So, sure, if Roger had thought about it he wouldn't have been surprised to find a girl in his friend's bed. But it is strange to see Mark wrapped around some women Roger had never meant and who was definitely not the sort of girl Mark should be sleeping with.
Not that Roger knew Mark's type, but he knew she wouldn't be sitting up in bed, smiling at Roger, and not even bothering to cover herself.
"Maureen," she says. The name sounds familiar enough that Roger is sure he's heard Mark mention her before, maybe one of the actors in his disastrous films or another camera fanatic. Roger never listened too closely when Mark talks about work. "Who are you?"
Roger says, "Is he okay?"
Maureen cocks her head to the side. "Why? You his boyfriend or something?"
Roger's hand tightens around the doorknob hard enough to cramp his knuckles. He decides that him and Mark need to have a chat about this girl in the morning. "No," he spits. He takes a deep breath and tries to relax. "He usually has nightmares. I was just..."
Roger trails off when he realizes he isn't entirely sure what he's doing in Mark's room.
Maureen laughs and says. "He's fine with me." Even with the heavy shadows playing off her face Roger can see her smirk. "I'm like a dream."
Roger slams the door behind him.
Roger can't sleep.
He slept a lot after April's death. It was never a deep, resting sleep, never made him feel any better, but he slept constantly. Like maybe so long as he wasn't ever really awake he didn't have to think about her or drugs or the fact that he was nearly death itself. After April's death it seemed like Roger was always sleeping.
It is different with Mimi. Everything is different with Mimi.
Mimi with her beautiful smile and bright eyes he couldn't get out of his head. Mimi laughing and dancing and making Roger feel so awake. Mimi with her drugs and her cheating and her lying eyes eating away at Roger's heart.
Roger slows his breath. He counts sheep. He tucks himself under all the blankets he can find. He does everything he can think of to make himself sleep and forget about Mimi, but nothing works. It feels to Roger like nothing will ever get this girl out of his head. She has managed to break down every wall he'd put up, and now she is burned into his brain.
Through the walls Roger could hear Mark's own restless sleep. Something is haunting him. Something Roger has never had the guts or time or patience to ask about, just like Mimi's eyes were haunting Roger. Only Mark could still sleep through his nightmares, a restless, loud sleep that woke Roger up at night. He growls, transferring all the anger he feels at Mimi for not letting him get any sleep over to Mark. It feels nice blame something that is right there in the loft with him and not somewhere on the streets with smack.
Roger storms to the other bedroom, pillow in hand as he seriously considers smothering Mark to get a good night's rest.
When he gets to Mark's room thoughts of murder ebb away. Mark is fighting off some invisible monster, and from the looks of it he isn't doing a good job at it. His pillow has been knocked to the floor and his blankets have twisted around his feet so that not even his wild kicking can free him. Roger sighs, putting his own pillow behind Mark's head to make sure he doesn't wind up knocking himself unconscious against the wall. He untangles the blankets from around Mark's feet and sets to work tucking his friend in.
"Fuck." Roger growls when his hands brush against Mark's skin, which is cold enough to send shivers through Roger. For a man so worried about taking care of other it amazes Roger how careless he can be with himself, making sure Roger had a pile of blankets for his bed and leaving himself with one lousy quilt and a pair of boxers.
Roger lays a hand on Mark's forehead, checking for a fever and making sure Mark isn't going to die of the flu in his sleep. It's just as freezing as the rest of him, though, which doesn't make Roger feel any better.
The soft heat against his face calms Mark down, just a bit, and he leans into Roger's hand.
Roger thinks he's never seen Mark look that calm when he slept. Well, expect for when Maureen was there, but Roger is reluctant to count that.
"You owe me," Roger says and crawls under the covers. It's felt like forever that he's done something with Mark that hasn't involved yelling at each other, and even if Mark isn't exactly conscious it feels nice.
He jumps when Mark pressed against him, all chilly and shivering. Roger growls, angry with Mark for having nightmares and letting himself ice over like this. He wraps his arms around the smaller man, dragging both of their bodies into the middle of the bed so that neither would freeze in the night. He expect Mark to fight him, to make Roger the person or thing that he's fighting against in those dark dreams of his, and Roger makes sure he has a tight grip on Mark's arms and prepares himself to get kicked and clawed at.
Mark does no such thing. Roger's touch manages to fight away the nightmares, and almost instantly he finds himself with an arm full of relaxed Mark, sleeping as calmly as a baby. Roger hardly notices the boy nuzzling against his chest. Mark's cold skin chases away the burning heat that clings to Roger, and suddenly he's yawning and his eyelids are too heavy.
For the first time in years, both boys have dream filled sleeps.