Part two! Mark's POV, present tense. (By the way...listening to Altar Boyz is really not condusive to writing. It's VERY distracting.) Remember, just because I'm posting both parts at once doesn't mean you don't have to review twice:)


"You know," I said haltingly, "I read once that the, the human eye can see more shades of green than, uh, of any other color." It was so much easier to begin this conversation four years earlier, in another lifetime. The tracks on his arms had been fresh then, not scars, and had been few at the most. He'd ruffled my hair and paid my share of the rent laughingly, telling me I could pay him back when I grew up.

Since I've been paying his way for the last year now, I guess I'm all grown up by his standards. The newspaper doesn't pay its copy editors all that well, and I hate my boss, but as long as I keep the money away from Roger, we manage to get the bills paid. Keeping the money from him isn't like it used to be; before, he'd steal from the house fund to buy smack; now, it's so he can buy cigarettes and beer. Or new guitar strings, or hair gel, or something. Same Roger, different vices.

He's giving me an odd look now, of something like recognition. I must be imagining it; there's no way he remembers the bumbling start I made of this years ago, not through the drugs and death and girls. Drugs and death April, drugs and death Mimi. I've been hoping, almost praying for weeks that his new flame Carissa won't turn out to be more of the same.

That's what's spurred me to make another go of this, after all these years. 'All these years'...I sound like my mother. And I hate that. I clear my throat, pressing on. "It's because it occurs more in nature." He's watching me more attentively than I can remember recently, at the same time looking like he's trying to remember something through a tragic haze. "But I never knew whether that was because we see more of it and learn to recognize, or internalize it, or if it's because it's genetic." I know this isn't going as well as I want it to, and I'm cursing myself for bungling it again when he tells me quietly, "Go on."

I continue, blushing bright red. "But...but what if you've never seen any green in nature? Can you still tell one kind from the other, let alone the thousands a human eye can see? I just wonder...are kids growing up in ten years going to only be able to see lots of shades of gray?" The words are slowly coming back to me; I had recorded them that night four years earlier, so when I got the balls to try again, I'd have them ready. The sound of my voice is almost drowned out my the nervous clicking my thumbs are making on my camera. On, off. On, off. On, off. I see his eyes dart to it; he's threatened a hundred times to hurl it out the window. I think the only thing that stops him is knowing his guitar would follow. Which, of course, I would follow, as he sent me out right after.

"I don't know, Mark. Maybe as long as you can see a tree somewhere, all the green comes back to you."

"But what if it doesn't? What if you lose all the green your ancestors spent their lives building up to?" I crouch beside him on the table, earnestly wanting him to listen, to hear me. If I can't finish this now, I know I'll never get up the courage again. Although that's what I thought the first time...but still. I think I've waited long enough for him, these last ten years.

He shrugs. "Why do you need to see so much green, anyway? Green is green."

"But it's there, and you can't even see it. What if it's the same with people? What if you never look at, at someone for all the different shades of a person they can be?" I hope against hope that was a car going by, and not my own voice cracking. "What if you went your whole life and never ever saw more than one kind of green? Wouldn't a tree be really boring?"

I think he mutters something like, "Trees ARE really boring," but I'm not sure. I press on, trying to make it to my main point before I chicken out. "What if people are like that too, Roger? What if...if you only see someone a certain way, and you lose the ability to look at them as anything else but what they are, because you never go and look at a tree?"

Roger raises his eyebrows. "Mark, I think you're mixing your own metaphors here. If I don't look at a tree, that doesn't--"

"That's not what I meant!" I'm getting visibly upset, and he moves closer to me. His calloused fingertips brush under my chin gently, and I hesitantly raise my eyes to meet his. His voice is as soft as I ever heard it, even singing to Mimi in the hospital, as he says, "How do you want me to see you, Mark?"

I can't speak, but it doesn't matter, because his lips are on mine. I pull him closer, only breaking the kiss to look into his eyes.

They're green.