Disclaimer: Rent is fabulous; however, I don't own it.

Author's notes: I think that everything is pretty well explained. If you have questions just ask them. Takes place a year after Rent ends. It will be slash (Mark/Roger) by the end, but I feel like it has to develop more, so I couldn't just dive into the relationship.

Prologue

"December 24th, midnight eastern standard time." Mark panned his camera around the street near his own. It was just as seedy as always. All the usual crimes and acts of depravity were being committed, but for some reason everything seemed quieter on this Christmas Eve. A heavy snow was falling. A snow that hit his glasses and blurred his vision, but Mark didn't care. "It's been a while since I've checked in I guess. Everything's gone to shit."

Mark sat on a bench, and stopped his camera on the flickering Cat Scratch Club sign. "Mimi's disappeared again. She's been gone nine months, and even Roger thinks she's dead. Speaking of Roger, well, he's OK I guess. I've made sure he takes his meds and eats, and he goes out in a while…well…he's out…somewhere tonight." Mark paused continuing on. "Maureen and Joanne have been their usual selves. In other words, they're a party." He deadpanned. "Last time I checked Collins was teaching in Boston, which means he'll be back soon." Mark felt the bench he was sitting give off a paralyzing cold that entered his body through thin and worn jeans. "And as for me, I can no longer feel my ass."

He continued panning the camera, stopping on three guys nearby. "Zoom in on drug dealer scum. That's right, they haven't left." The three were exchanging money and packets of drugs; that is until one of them pointed towards Mark. Then they were walking towards him angrily. As they came, Mark started to wind the camera. "What have you done now, Mark?" He asked himself quietly.

"Hey Camera Boy," A gaunt man with dark circles under his eyes, who looked like he hadn't had a shower in a month spoke. "We don't like being filmed."

The fight or flight notion in Mark's mind was running on high speed, telling him to just mutter an apology and walk away. Another part of him, the part that he was sure both Roger and Angel had influenced, was telling him that he should stay, because this might be a good image for the film. So the rest of him found a compromise between the two. He stayed, not moving or speaking at all.

The same man spoke again. "You aren't going to talk to us Camera Boy?" He shoved Mark a little with one hand.

"You know, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't touch me. I wouldn't want to catch lice, and whatever other parasites that you have crawling all on you." It was Maureen's great influence that got Mark to say his, in his less than authoritative manner.

"Hey I know you." The second man spoke. His skin was less sallow, and gracing his face was a scruffy goatee. He wore a leather jacket, and was cleaner than the first man. He appeared to have had a shower within the past two weeks. "You're Roger's little bitch."

"And you're Roger's ex-dealer." Mark tried to sound braver, putting emphasis on the ex.

The dealer glared. "You know what guys? I think that Camera Boy here would 'really appreciate it if' we taught him a lesson about what happens to people who stick their noses where they don't belong." He mocked, and then men grinned at each other, before turning back to Mark. The dealer landed a punch to Mark's gut that sent him doubling over, and knocked the wind out of him. This was quickly followed by one to his side, and one to his face. This caused his camera to fly out of his hand into a snow bank, and then it caused him to go down hard into the pavement, his glasses going askew.

The three seemed to continuously beat on Mark. To him it felt like hours, in reality it was only minutes. Even towards the beginning, his chest was on fire, his head was spinning, and blood was pouring from his nose, and the corner of his mouth. By the time he had hit the ground there was no hope of him fighting back. It was all a matter of survival now, and the best that Mark could do to ensure survival was a weak attempt of curling into the fetal position. He remained for the most part straight, allowing for more kicks and punches to his torso. This onslaught continued to the point where Mark was reduced to pitiful straining tears.

This was when the dealer stopped. "You really are a little bitch aren't you? Can't even handle a few punches before you start crying." He laughed harshly, and turned around for a moment. "You two finish him off. I have some business to take care of."

The dealer turned and left, leaving the other two behind. The one that had spoken first reached into his coat and pulled something that Mark couldn't recognize until the hollow and cold muzzle was placed against his forehead, and there was a click that Mark barely heard through the blood swimming in his ears. This was what caused a look of pure terror on his face. "Please..." He pleaded in a hoarse, weak, and desperate voice. "Please…don't kill me. I didn't mean the whole thing about the parasites. Please…take whatever you want from me…just don't kill me."

The third druggie who hadn't spoken yet was the cleanest and the healthiest looking. Clearly he was the newbie of the group. "Blade man, come on. Let's just leave him." His voice was almost nervous. "He's not going to say anything." He paused to look at Mark. "Will you?" Mark shook his head.

Blade glared for a moment and then sighed. "Fine." He put the gun back in his coat. "I do like this coat though." He reached down and grabbed the sleeve of Mark's jacket, unceremoniously ripping it off of him and causing the filmmaker to flip roughly onto his stomach. Mark ground and after a minute felt a light slap in the small of his back. "Thanks for the stuff Camera Boy." He gave Mark one last kick in the ribs before the two left.

Mark groaned again as he moved his head gingerly to face his camera that was miraculously still filming, and then spoke. "December 25th. 12:05 am, eastern standard time." He coughed and blood came in a river out of his mouth. After a moment of shallow breathing he started again. "It's cold as hell, and I think that I might die. Merry Fucking Christmas."

There's the prologue. Chapter One will come very soon.