A/N: This story was actually my NaNo novel for 2005, so it's already done - that means you're guaranteed I'm actually going to complete this, in all its 34-chapter glory. I'll be putting up the chapters as I edit them.
General Disclaimer: Most of the characters aren't mine. On the other hand, some are. That is all.
Chapter One: First Shot Roger
Love Art Disease Pain Life— Jonathan Larson in 1993 notes for RENT
Friday night, and Maureen was out, at a club or bar or God knew where. She'd been gone when April got home from work and, being Maureen, hadn't left a note. But that was nothing unusual, and April didn't worry about it too much. She'd curled up in one of the chairs in the living room with her notebook and a pen, and a mug of hot chocolate. Maureen would be home eventually.
Sure enough, at almost two in the morning the door banged open and April looked up sharply to see a giggling Maureen in the doorway, one arm around the waist of a guy April didn't recognize. Again, nothing unusual there, considering that Maureen tended to have a different guy every week, sometimes more often than that. April realized immediately that Maureen had been drinking; with a sigh, she turned to consider her roommate's newest conquest.
Tall, with pale bleached blond hair that looked like it had once been dirty blond, and blue eyes. A little rough around the edges, but in a sexy, rock star way, absolutely gorgeous and with a visible attitude of what could almost be classified as arrogance. And, as far as April could see, no more sober than Maureen. Fallen angel on a weekend pass, April thought, and then blinked, wondering where that had come from. A line from a poem, a song, or just some random poetic line out of nowhere? She didn't pursue the question.
"Hi," she said simply, her eyes flickering from Maureen's friend to Maureen herself. "Nice to see you home so soon."
The mild sarcasm in her tone didn't seem to register with Maureen. She grinned and all but bounced into the apartment, kicking the door closed behind her. "Hey April! This is Roger, he'll be spending the night, okay, bye!" All of this was said in a rush, her words almost stringing together, as she hurried across the apartment from the front door to her bedroom door, Roger in tow. Before April could even respond, the bedroom door crashed closed behind her, and April was left staring at the door as she slowly sorted out what Maureen had said.
When at last she had made sense of it, to the extent that anything Maureen could make sense, April sighed and stood up, setting her notebook down on the chair as she went to lock the front door. She did not need or want to know what Maureen was doing, and didn't want to sit out here in the front room just now. She had made that mistake before…
Quickly, she retreated to her room, pulled a random book off the bookshelf, and flopped down on her bed. Before she started to read, she turned on the radio beside her bed, and turned the volume up loud. It wasn't so much that she particularly wanted to hear the music, but it served to drown out any other noises that might be coming from the other bedroom. When you lived in an apartment with walls as thin as these… Well, April had learned long ago to take all necessary measures to preserve her own sanity and peace of mind.
April was the first one up the next morning. Then again, she had a shift at the diner that morning, and Maureen always slept until noon, so it was hardly surprising. She started a pot of coffee, and hunted through the refrigerator for something edible—anything, really. She settled on the few eggs still left in the carton, pulled out a frying pan and quickly set about making scrambled eggs, making sure to make enough to leave for Maureen, whenever she decided to get up. Even if she ended up having scrambled eggs for lunch, at least April could ensure that her roommate did eat.
Maureen's bedroom door creaked open, and April looked up with a start, still standing over the stove, spatula in hand. Maureen's "friend" from last night stood in the doorway, looking a little tired and rumpled, but just as attractive as he had been when April first saw him the night before. Maybe more, dressed only in a black T-shirt and boxers… He blinked at her a little sleepily, and then gave her a fleeting, tired smile. "Hey."
She smiled back at him. "Good morning… Your name's Roger, right? I think that's what Maureen said before the two of you… um…" Okay, let's not talk about that. That was not a subject she felt comfortable discussing.
"Yeah. Roger Davis. Sorry we weren't properly introduced before…"
"April Cornwell." She hesitated, then gestured with one hand to the coffee pot. "D'you want some coffee or breakfast? I'm making eggs."
"I could use some coffee," he said with a bit of a grin.
She waved to the cabinets. "Help yourself. Coffee mugs are up there, in the cabinet above the coffee pot."
He walked past her to the cabinets, quickly retrieving a mug and pouring himself some coffee before he turned back to her, studying her quietly. April noticed, and flushed a little.
"So, where'd you meet Maureen?" April didn't know where the question came from. She usually made it a point of not getting to know the people Maureen brought home—after all, they were only around for so long—but this one she wanted to get to know. He was… different, somehow.
"A club. I was playing there, and… we kind of bumped into each other afterwards."
April smiled to herself. Bumped into each other indeed. Maureen had probably seen him and decided immediately that she wanted him, and then made certain that she found him afterwards, always forward and determined like that… But she kept that to herself. "You were playing? You're… a musician?"
There was that cocky grin, the one she'd caught a glimpse of last night. It was a smile that could make a girl melt if she wasn't careful, but April took it in stride. She could at least leave him alone until Maureen was through with him. That would take, what, a week?
"Yes," he said, still smirking confidently. "Lead guitarist and lead vocals in my band. The Well Hungarians."
April paused a moment, and then burst out laughing. She had to look away from Roger and his almost irritatingly self-satisfied smile until she had composed herself enough to speak without interrupting herself by laughing. "That… that's just…" She shook her head, unable to come up with any way to respond to that. Finally, she just gave up and asked as she switched off the stove, "Do you want some breakfast?"
Roger shook his head a little. "No thanks." When she raised her eyebrows at him, he added, "I mean, I'm sure it's wonderful, I just… don't eat breakfast."
"Alright then," April said, and reached up into the cabinet above the stove, pulled down a bag of pita bread and stuffed a pita with some of the eggs she had just made. She frowned a little as she put the rest of the pitas back in the bread cabinet, realizing that they were running low on… pretty much everything edible. She'd have to go grocery shopping soon if she could manage it, because Maureen certainly wouldn't remember to. Quickly, April put the rest of the eggs in a container for Maureen, picked up her pita and started for the door.
"I have to go to work. If you're still around when Maureen wakes up, could you tell her I said to eat?"
Roger nodded slowly. "Sure. What time d'you think she'll be up?"
April paused in the doorway and turned around to smile at him. "Noon. Probably even after that. That's why I said 'if you're still around.'" She laughed softly and turned away again, closing the door behind her.
Once she had gone, Roger still watched the doorway thoughtfully. She had a beautiful smile.