Author's Note: I know, you probably weren't expecting this to be the end, but I think this is a perfect spot to end. I'm really pleased with what I've developed in this story and I'll be back soon enough with a new story of some sort, so look out for that. Thank you again to EVERYONE who's reviewed or even just read. Tell me what you think of the ending, I couldn't help but being all cutesy at the end. Once again, Rent belongs to Jonathan Larson and I just use it for fun! Thanks for reading!

Chapter 7 – It All Comes Back to the Cold


The night air is crisp as Roger and I walk hand in hand down the empty street. Although spring is doing her best to move in over the weary city, winter is still ever present. I wrap my scarf around my neck tighter as we walk. The walk is short as we arrive at our predestined destination. Roger grabs the door for me and I walk in first. I scan the room to see Maureen and Joanne sitting at a table near the back. I give a weak wave as we walk over to the table.

They both stand up and individually hug us. Joanne grabs me and whispers, "I'll try to make this bearable." I give her my best smile back and reach over to hug Maureen, whose response is, "I'm so excited!"

We all sit down and glance across the table at each pair. I begin the already tension ridden conversation, "Oh, Collins is going to join us in awhile."

"Collins is in town?" Maureen responds excitedly.

"Yeah, he stopped by earlier," I say as I glance over the menu.

"Well, it's about time he visited, it's been far too long," Joanne comments.

"Agreed," I add as I glance over at Roger who's taken an interest in staring out the window instead of conversing with us.

"So, I hear you told Maureen your happy news," Joanne says to the both of us. "I'm assuming that means things have gotten better since I accidentally… caught the two of you."

"Yeah, things have been a lot better… right Roger?" I say, nudging Roger in the side. He turns to face the group finally with a somewhat angry expression on his face.

"Oh, yeah, things have been just great," he remarks and I can't tell by the tone in his voice if he's being for serious or not. He's been acting so strangely tonight and I'm worried about what.

"What's your problem?" Maureen quickly snaps at him. I worry that this could get ugly soon and pray that Collins arrives soon.

"Nothing, it's nothing," he says with his 'I'm upset, but I'm going to suppress my feelings' tone. He hasn't acted like this since we've started dating and I become increasingly worried. I feel the cold air overtake me and I have the urge to run away before all the happiness runs away without me.

I turn in to face him and whisper to him, "What the hell, Roger?"

He whispers back at me with an even harsher tone, "We'll talk about it later, okay?"

I lean back up and decide a change of subject is in order. "So, Joanne, have any good stories to share with us during this dinner?"

She opens her mouth to answer, but instead is interrupted by Maureen's screaming. She gets up to run over to hug Collins and drags him over to the table. Joanne stands up as well to give him a hug and I pull up a chair for our fifth member. He finally sits down after being attacked by the ladies.

"Hey Mark, Hey Roger," he says to the two of us. We both nod, "Hey" back, and continue back into our uncomfortable situation.

"Have we ordered yet?" Collins asks the collective group. We all chip in answers of "not yet" as our waiter makes his way up to our table.

"Can I take your orders?" he asks the table and we all shake our heads in agreement.

"I'll have the soup and a salad, please," Maureen orders.

"Pasta," Joanne simply orders.

"Uh… I guess just the tofu burger," Roger decides on.

"Tea and the miso soup, please," I chip in.

"Pasta as well," Collins finishes and the waiter leaves our table.

I glance around the room in the way I do when I'm at the helm of my camera. The Life Café is always such an interesting place; I almost wish I could just film it continuously. I'm taken out of my haze when I feel three pairs of eyes staring at me.

"Mark? Are you listening?" Collins asks and I come back to reality.

"What? No, sorry," I shake my head and face the rest of the table. Roger's attitude really had me distracted. "What were you saying?"

"Oh, just wondering if you've done any interesting filming lately?" Collins asks. I shrug my shoulders in reply. "Not really… the usual. I haven't had the chance to go through a lot of the stuff I've gotten lately."

"Keeping busy?" Collins says with that sly smirk on his face and I can't help but blush at his comment. I want to reply with, you could say that, but I can't bring myself to do it, now, anyway.

"Oh, the usual," is my only reply. I glance back over to Roger who I see with a distant look on his face. I want to smack him and get him out of his lousy mood. I definitely did not miss the old Roger, the Roger who wouldn't talk to me when something was wrong, the Roger that would hide in his room and do nothing all day, and the Roger that pushed me out when he needed me most. I don't want to lose what we have, it's too special to me.

"How about you, Roger? Write any good songs lately?" Collins asks and I fear the response that might be evoked.

He glances over to Collins and a smile peers across his face. A sigh of relief passes over me with his response, "Oh, I've been working on something. Although, it's taking me forever, as usual."

"I wouldn't expect anything less than a year a song, Roger," Collins jokes back. I smile at Roger and he returns it back.

"I hope it doesn't take me that long," Roger adds in. I know he's been working on a new song; it's why he gets up early in the morning. I secretly hope it's for me, but that's my ego speaking.

"And what about you, Miss Maureen? Will I be seeing you on the eleven o'clock news any time soon?" Collins turns to talk to the drama queen and we're off the hook temporarily. I can not possibly think of a large enough way to thank Collins for coming with us tonight. Spending the entire night with those two alone could have been a disaster, as we've already seen.

She's rambling on and I catch the end, "…and then I was thinking about lighting a large couch on fire at the end! What do you think?"

I roll my eyes, knowing that whatever she's planning sounds like trouble. I can see Roger react the same and Collins choke back doing the same. "It sounds very interesting, Maureen. When will this be?" he asks.

"Oh… I haven't really decided," she casually comments. Joanne just mumbles something and I have to choke back a laugh. I remember reacting the same way when I dated her, the 'being supportive, but I think you're totally crazy' look.

"Well, it sounds like a great plan," Collins tells her and I can't help but adore the guy. He's so supportive of our entire group, even if we're a little bit off some of the time.

We continue our conversation and I notice Roger's quite distant the entire time. I cheerfully converse with the rest of our friends while he cautiously replies occasionally. When our food comes, we enjoy it rapidly and I savor the soup. Roger pokes at his food and takes bites here and there. We eat in relative silence, except for Maureen's comments on the quality of our meal. She always has something to say.

"Look at this lettuce, it doesn't even look fresh!" she says poking at her salad.

"I don't think quality of food is why we chose the Life Café… I think it's the prices," I snap back.

"Very funny, Mark, but this is serious. How am I supposed to eat this?"

"Well, I'd start by putting some on your fork, then bringing it up to your mouth…." I ramble as she cuts me off with "Mark, stop acting like Roger, it doesn't suit you well."

I look over at Roger, who I can see smile at her remark. Joanne jumps in at this point to calm the upset Maureen. "It doesn't look that bad, Maureen."

"I guess you're right," she shrugs and eats the rest of her salad.

"Heard from Benny lately?" Collins asks, thankfully getting us off of the topic of Maureen's salad.

"Actually… no," I respond. "He hasn't been by to harass us in awhile."

"Well, you two must be happy about that," Collins says. We both smile, considering how much we love dealing with Benny.

"You could say that," Roger mutters and I'm glad to hear him say something tonight.

The waiter comes up to our table and takes away the majority of our plates, except for Maureen's salad, which she was eating rather rapidly. We all just shake our heads at her.

"Well as much as I've enjoyed this little get together, we really should be going," I say while standing up and pulling Roger with me. I throw some money on the table.

"So soon?" Maureen whines.

"Yeah, we have stuff we need to… do," I cover with, but in reality, it's stuff we need to talk about.

"Alright, well, talk to you soon Mark, Roger," Joanne smiles at the two of us.

"See ya," I reply to the group as we walk briskly out the door. As soon as we reach the outdoors, I grab Roger and turn him to face me.

"What the hell, Roger?"

He looks down at his feet, uneasy, and pauses a minute before responding. "Can we do this at home?"

"Fine," I snap back. We walk in silence back to the loft; I walk ahead of Roger who's dragging along. I haven't seen him act like this in weeks, so it makes me frustrated.

We both climb up to the loft and I slam the door open and let him in first. He slowly walks over to the couch and sits down in it. I make my way over to sit by him.

"What happened?" I ask him quietly.

"Uh… I went and visited Mimi today," he says with a soft voice and I relax a minute. It's definitely not what I expected.

"Oh," I whisper.

"It just… I haven't… been out there in awhile," he adds.

"I see…" Finding responses to his words are becoming increasingly harder. I decide to just sit back and listen.

"And I was sitting there, on her grave, and it all just came to me," he pauses, bringing his hands to his face. "Mark, I don't want to leave you… because I know what it's going to do to you when I'm gone."

"Roger…" I try to stop him from whatever he's going to say.

"So I want you to promise me now, the same promise I made to Mimi, that you'll go on, without me," he finishes with.

I choke back emotion and turn away from him. He continues, "Seriously, I don't know when it'll happen, but when it does, you better do something with your life. Become a famous filmmaker. Go to Santa Fe. It doesn't matter. But please…"

I turn back to face him and place my hand in his. "I promise."

"Good, now I feel better," he says with a happy smile on his face.

We sit in silence for awhile and I consider the situation. I couldn't believe how upset he got over this. It shocked me. We've never discussed it before, and God knows that I don't want him to leave me any time soon. But we both face the reality and I know its better that way.

He leans in to rest his head on my shoulder. I allow him and we both sit like that for awhile. I caress his hair and place a small kiss on his hand.

He pulls away after a couple of minutes and runs over to his guitar. He comes back to sit besides me and sit up to face him. He strums a couple of chords and then turns to speak to me.

"You probably have been wondering what I've been doing getting up early every day?" he asks with a cute smile on his face.

"The question has crossed my mind a couple of times," I reply.

"Well…" he pauses and plays a couple of chords. They all blend together beautifully and he stops to continue. "I've been working on a song, our song. But… you know me, it'll take me awhile, so I figure you'd at least to like to hear the music."

He continues playing the melody and I just observe him. He plays so gracefully and his fingers move across the strings delicately. He finishes playing and leans over to kiss me gently. "You like it so far?"

My smile must be a million miles wide, "I love it."

"Good," he goes back to the guitar and continues to play the melody over and over again. I sit and observe him and ponder the thoughts that plague my mind.

No day but today. I have to realize that I have to be happy with what I have with him, right now, that we found each other in the first place. I know he's scared and I'm scared too.

It all comes back to the cold air. It's had such an impact on our relationship. The air helped clear Roger's mind from the sadness that overtook him after Mimi's death. The cold transformed me into a wilting figure and Roger finally stepped in and helped me. We spent our first night together because of the cold that seeped into our apartment constantly. In all reality, it brought us together. Now as it fades into spring, we'll have to remind ourselves of how the crisp air can affect you in ways unimaginable.

I take in a breath of air and let it back out. For the first time in my life, I'm in peace with everything in my world. I have Roger and he has me, and together we make our lives worth living. I guess I'll just have to keep our time together special and always treasure it. It won't last forever, but I know it's worth it in the end.

The End

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