Disclaimer: Don't own it.
A/N: Lighthearted Post-Rent piece from Roger's POV. One-shot.
Mark Cohen's Secret.
I sit, watching Mark rather creepily as he makes himself a cup of hot chocolate, my eyes following his movements to the refrigerator to the hot plate to the counter and back again. He doesn't seem to notice, and I'm okay with that, because it avoids an explanation for my odd behavior.
I squint as I watch him stand on his toes to reach something on the top shelf of one of the cabinets. Moments later, a bowl comes crashing down and I laugh out loud in response to seeing him throw his arms over his head to protect himself. I realize later that this reaction was probably really inappropriate, judging by the fact that a plastic bowl can really hurt when crashing into your skull from above.
The clatter of the bowl and several other useless plastic kitchen utensils that we never use hitting the floor drowns out my laugh for a few moments, but once the noise has ceased, there's nothing to mask my laughter, and Mark looks up at me, his signature, "that is SO not funny" expression painted on his face.
"Thanks, Rog," He says, leaning down to pick up the scattered bowls and cups, muttering to himself in the process. Suddenly, this whole muttering thing clicks in my head.
Muttering, is that what Maureen's going on and on about? The fact that Mark's been muttering?
I let it tumble around in my brain for a few moments, and then decide that no, that can't be it… Mark has been muttering to himself ever since I've known him. In fact, I have a distinct memory of him muttering to himself when he moved in, after finding a dead cockroach in his closet. Nope, muttering was in Mark's nature.
I can't think at all of what Maureen could be talking about.
"Something's different about him," She had said, as we all sat around the night before. Mark had gone to the "kitchen" to get himself some cereal, and she had just blurted it out, making us all talk in quick, hushed tones about what the fuck she was getting at.
"I don't know what it IS," She whined, throwing her hands up in the air, "If I DID I wouldn't've mentioned it."
Collins had raised an eyebrow before lifting his beer to his lips, "Babygirl, you tend to be a little out there."
However, her outspoken thought had caused us all to stare at him creepily as he finished up in the kitchen, an image I'm sure was a little disorienting when he had turned to return to the couch.
"Why are you staring at me like that?" Mark's voice interrupts my memory. Funny, he had said that last night too, in response to seeing all of our eyes looking at him with scrutiny. I blink, coming to, and then point to a cup that must have rolled over to the door in it's travel from the cabinets, in the process of just missing Mark's head.
"I have a crush on you that I never told you about, that's all," I joke, "You missed a cup, jackass."
He rolls his eyes at me again, and I put my feet up on the coffee table as he crosses the room to pick up the cup. As he returns to the kitchen, I allow myself to study him again.
Alright, something's different with him, but I have no fucking clue what it is.
Damn Maureen for being right.
"See, I told you!" She said later that evening as she leans back into the couch, popping a chocolate covered raisin in her mouth. Joanne rolls her eyes and reaches for the bag, pulling a few raisins out and popping them into her mouth as well.
"So, let me get this straight," Mimi finally spoke up, after mulling over my words and Maureen's response for a few moments, "You're saying that although Mark still goes out and films -"
"Yes," Came Maureen, continually popping the chocolate raisins in her mouth.
"- And he still talks to us everyday -" Mimi continued.
"Yes," Again, Maureen, who never lets anyone finish a full thought without interrupting them…
"-And he is eating the same-"
"-And he's sleeping alright -"
"-And there seems to be nothing wrong with him-"
"-That something is different about him?" She looks at all of us like we're crazy, and I rush to defend myself.
"I don't know, something's different!" I exclaim, begging my girlfriend with my eyes to believe the words coming out of my mouth, "I realized it this morning."
"Thank you Roger!" Maureen gestured at me wildly, nearly spilling her candy all over the floor. Mimi and Collins laugh at the insane look that has come over her face, and I bite my nail, unsure of what to say next.
Joanne, who's been quiet since the conversation has started, finally nods, "I have to agree with them, as much as it pains me to say it. Something IS different with Mark."
I feel a rush of relief flood down me. Joanne tends to have her head screwed on right and her saying this generally means I must not be all crazy, which makes me feel a little better about agreeing with Maureen in the first place. I turn my head to see Mimi giving me a sympathetic look, and I shrug back at her, unsure of what to say.
"Well, do you think he's okay? Because if something's wrong one of us should try and talk -" Collins speaks up, but once again, is interrupted by Maureen and her interrupting ways.
"No, I think he's fine," She admits, shrugging, "Something's just different, that's all."
"-But do you guys think we should talk to him anyway? Just in case he -" Collins tries again, to no avail…
"-No, no, I don't want to freak him out or anything, it's just that I wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy and the only one who noticed. I mean, he seems alright, and -"
Time to do some interrupting of my own.
"Hey, Interrupting McInterrupter," I say, halting her rambling, "Everyone just needs to chill. We'll figure out what's going on with him when it's -"
This time, Maureen doesn't interrupt me. It's the sound of the loft door sliding open and the emergence of my fourteen-year old boy looking roommate. We all freeze, and I'm sure it seems perfectly normal to him that we're all staring at him like deer caught in a series of headlights.
"Hey guys," He says after a moment of staring back at us like we're all out of our fucking minds. I'm starting to think myself that we just might be.
Silence ensues, becoming awfully awkward. Finally, Mark shifts his eyes and throws his thumb in the direction of his room.
"I just came back to get some more film."
The silence continues, and finally he gives up.
"Alright then," He says, then retreats into his room. Five pairs of eyes watches him as he disappears into it, closing the door behind him.
"See!" Maureen shrieks in a hushed whisper, "Something's definitely going on."
Her comment causes all of us to break out into hurried, hushed dialogue, a chaos of words and questions being thrown back and forth without any real order.
"Did he get a haircut?" "Did he actually come in with his camera?" "Did his glasses look weird to you?" "Did he seem scared to anyone at all?" "Wait, I thought it looked like he might've been cryi-"
Mark's door opens and all conversation stops abruptly, causing him to stare back at us. Silently, he walks over to the loft door, eyes watching our hands-in-a-cookie-jar expression.
"I'll be back later, don't wait up for me," He finally says, eyebrows screwed up in a perpetually confused expression. After no one responds, he retreats out the door.
"You guys can go back to talking about me now," He smiles at our guilty expressions as the door slides closed behind him.
We all sit in silence for a moment.
"Okay, so yeah, something's different about him," Mimi finally realizes, nodding her head defiantly.
"He's carrying himself differently," Collins speaks up, catching each of us in the eye as he talks, "I don't know how to explain it, but he just seems to look different somehow."
"Yes!" Mimi replies, "Like he's more confident. Like he's not as self-conscious."
"And lately he hasn't really been tiptoeing around anything lately," Maureen agreed, "You know how he's usually careful not to offend anyone? Well yesterday, remember Roger, after you couldn't remember the name of the first song you'd ever written when Mimi asked? Mark had said, quote "Well that's because the heroin fried all of your brain cells away"?"
Yeah, I remembered. And although his sarcastic tone made him a little shit, he was kind of right.
"He would've never said something like that normally."
As much as I would normally hate to admit it, Maureen makes a lot of sense. Well, at least, right now she does.
"He's been gone a lot too," Mimi pipes up, and I turn my head to look at her where she is tucked into the crook of my arm, "Two nights ago he didn't even come home, remember?"
I did remember.
The next morning, the sound of a door opening wakes me from my fitful sleep on the couch. I shake my head a little, trying to get the cobwebs of sleep that are still plaguing me, and I look around, surprised to see everyone was still around.
We had fallen asleep talking about Mark and his mysterious ways.
Looking towards the kitchen, I see that Mark's emergence from his room is what had woken me up. I am surprised to see him standing by the hotplate with a pot of water in his hand, in nothing but his boxers.
Mark never walked around in just his boxers, probably because he fears his pasty-whiteness would blind someone, but there he was, glassesless and practically naked in our kitchen in front of a group of his best friends that would die to make fun of him if they awoke in time to see him.
The sound of me shifting catches his attention, and he turns, squinting slightly in our direction. When he recognizes me, he smiles brightly.
Too brightly for Mark-in-the-morning.
"Hey, long night huh?" He gestured with the coffee pot to our friends. I sit up a little, pulling my arm from around Mimi to shake out the tingles.
"Yeah," I admit, "Hey, Mark?"
He looks up as he puts the pot on the hotplate, before reaching into the open cabinet above him to pull out two mugs and teabags, "Yes dear Roger?"
"Is there anyth-" Before I could get my question out, the sound of a door opening distracts me, and my eyes are drawn to a girl slinking out of Mark's bedroom, wearing nothing but an oversized teeshirt which I recognize as one Mark usually sleeps in. My jaw practically falls to the floor as she crosses the room seeming not to notice us, and reaches Mark with a smile.
Before anyone could say anything, she's thrown her arms around his neck and pulls him into what only could be described as an earth-shattering kiss. This nearly goes on for a full minute before I cough, unable to be ignored any longer. She pulls away from my red-faced roommate, who's Cheshire grin was being directed towards me over her shoulder, and kisses his chin briefly.
"God, you're so sexy," She mutters to him. Mark being called sexy nearly makes me convulse, simply because he looks like he's twelve, but to each is own, you know…
She turns on the ball of her feet, looking over at me with a grin. I suddenly recognize her as the cute new waitress from The Life, and I can't help but smile back.
"Hi," She says rather coyly, although she didn't seem so shy a few moments ago when she had her tongue down Mark's throat, "I'm Abbey."
"Roger," I say with what could be called a wave. She smirks again and then turns back to Mark, running her hands up his chest and over his shoulders.
"Come back to bed," She whispers. She's unfortunately unaware that the acoustics in this place are insane and I can hear her despite her attempt to be quiet. Mark kisses her again and then allows her to pull him back towards the bedroom. Throwing a evil grin and a raised eyebrow back at me, he disappears into the room with a slam of the door.
"He's been getting laid," Collins' voice makes my head whip around. Suddenly I notice everyone was awake around me, and he begins to smirk evilly, and before long, he's laughing, "That's what's so different. Son of a bitch is getting LAID."
With that, we all begin to laugh.