Disclaimer: I don't own it.

Angel Says What Everyone Thinks

Mark Cohen smells like apples.

In fact, he smells like ripe, green, Granny Smith apples as you cut them in half and lift the first slice to your mouth, taking a moment to savor the smell of the sweetness and tartness before biting into it. It's always better than you imagine, that sort of apple, because it always reminds you of something - your grandmother, as she cuts them in half to make your favorite apple pie, or the times you had sit by the window during the summers between school years, curled up with a book or your guitar, or the phone. Anything really.

But yeah, Mark did smell that way, and everyone was consciously aware of it, but it never came up in conversation. Why? Because how do you start a conversation about the scent that seems to permeate through Mark's skin?


Well, of course, unless you're Angel Dumott-Schunard.

Heals clicking on the scuffed and scratched wooden floor of the temporarily-warm loft, Angel saunters over to her friends, a bemused grin faltering on her mouth. With a cocked eyebrow, she sits daintily, just this action demanding the room to fall silent.

"That boy smells like apples," She said nonchalantly, running a hand through her hair, "It's a lot of things, really - spectacular and disarming being only two of them."

The group, once engaged in a conversation about the difference between Kurosawa and Bunuel films, (well, everyone except Maureen and Joanne, who were speaking in hurried, hushed tones to one another about God-knows-what) were now glancing back and forth between Angel and Mark, who was in the far corner of the loft, playing with his camera, which was set up before a blank canvas where he had just been filming Angel.

They were all tossed in a slight moment of realization. A thought that they had all had, at least one time or another, was now being vocalized by Angel, who didn't seem to think the comment was random at all. Only one looked slightly confused, and that was Roger, who's face was tainted with a squint.

"Mark?" He finally wondered aloud, breaking the companionable silence.

"He tasted like apples, too," Maureen suddenly piped up, to Joanne's utter horror. When all eyes turned on her, she shrugged, "What? He did. That wasn't too bad either."

"I bet it wasn't," Mimi said with a sarcastic bite as Collins threw his head back in disbelieved laughter.

"Wait, Mark?" Roger continued, "He doesn't smell like anything."

Still reeling from the Maureen's comment, Joanne inched a little farther from her lover, rolling her eyes before looking at Roger.

"You wouldn't notice it," She nodded, "You've lived with him so long, you just wouldn't."

"I can't believe no one's mentioned this before," Collins admitted, sitting down on an overturned milk crate, "I thought I was the only one who noticed."

A chorus of "Nope, me too"'s and "I thought the same thing"'s echoed quickly. Mimi curled herself against Roger's side and rested her head on his shoulder.

"I mean, we all have our own 'scents' or whatever. I guess Mark's just smells like apples," She said, her eyes drooping in the beginnings of sleep.

"It's like his body secretes it, though," Maureen replied, tapping her fingers against her head, "Stand, like, four feet away from him and you can smell it. It's like he has Apple Cologne on or something. Like he would sweat apple juice."

"This conversation is border lining on uncomfortable," Roger complained, wrapping his arm around Mimi's drifting form and scrunching up his features in disgust.

"Oh, stop being a baby," Angel piped up, as she applied lip gloss, "It's not gross, it's just Mark. We all know there's noth-"

"Hey Rog," Mark's voice echoed from across the room, "You're up."

Eyes turned to Roger as he untangled himself from Mimi's sleeping form, pausing for a moment to take off his jacket and place it over her. Pressing a light kiss to her temple, he crossed the room to where Mark was hovering over his camera.

With light steps, and an itch to satisfy his curiosity, Roger crept up behind the shorter man, and before Mark could realize it, grabbed him from behind in the most-awkward hug EVER, burying his face in Mark's neck and breathing deeply in. Mark shrieked and jumped at this, quickly squirming to get out of Roger's grasp.

Before he could however, Roger flicked his tongue out and licked Mark's neck quickly before letting him go abruptly.

"Did you just LICK me!" Mark shivered, glasses askew and look of violation tainting his face.

Roger just smirked and looked back at the friends on the other end of the loft, who were laughing.

"Yeah, you guys are right. He smells AND tastes like apples."

Ignoring Mark's shocked expression, Roger sauntered over so he was standing in front of the camera.

"Let's go, Cohen, I don't have all day."

Mark, confused and slightly disturbed, silently went to his camera, knowing he was not going to get an explanation.

"February 6th, 1990," Mark narrated, as the film began to roll, "Roger just licked my neck, and I don't think I'll ever get an explanation."

Roger, unable to keep a straight face, laughed at this, just savoring the moment, knowing that in the days, months, even years ahead, he'd have it to keep himself going through the tough times.

And as he watched a grin spread over Mark's boyish features, he realized he had noticed that smell all along.

It was the smell of home.

Several years later, as he sat in the hospital, with nothing but memories and a machine keeping him alive, he asked the nurse for a green apple. He cut it open, and as he took the bite of the fruit, it's smell wafting under his nose, he would remember Mark, he would remember home, he would remember that memory.

Because those were the days he lived for.