Disclaimer: I should tell you, I should tell you….I have never owned RENT….you can see it in my eyes.
March 17, 1991, 9:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time:
"So are you planning on telling her before you leave?"
"Of course I am. Did you think I would just go without saying anything?"
"Well you've left it a little late."
"I know, but I'm not going to wake her up to tell her."
Mark and Roger whisper their conversation quietly on opposite ends of the couch. Paige is curled up on Mark's end, fast asleep after an exhausting shift at the Life. St. Patrick's Day is always crazy.
Roger still looks slightly unconvinced. "Roger, I promise when I leave tomorrow she will know where I'm going," Mark whispers.
For now this promise seems to be enough for Roger. He gets up off the couch and retreats to his room. Mark is very grateful; the next few days will be hard enough without Roger mad at him.
The loft is never entirely silent; no matter the time of day there is always a faint noise of traffic or construction or someone yelling, slipping in through the thin window panes and the cracks in the walls. Silence doesn't exist in New York City.
But Mark hears none of it. The only sound that fills his ears is Paige's soft breathing.
Roger is right, Mark knows that. He should have told Paige last week, when he first got the call. Hell, he didn't even need that stupid phone call to know he'd be leaving. Despite the fact that he and Roger barely own anything in this world, they do own a calendar.
Paige begins to stir in his arms, eyelids beginning to flutter. Don't wake up yet, Mark prays silently. He's not ready to give her the bad news.
His prayers go unanswered this time. "Hey," Paige whispers groggily.
"Hey," he says, leaving a quick kiss on her lips. "How was work?"
She groans. "I have never seen so many drunk people in the same place."
"Did you at least get some good tips?"
"Surprisingly yes. It seems people are more willing to tip waitresses who bring them beer," she grins.
Mark laughs softly. "At least something good came out of it."
"Oh hey, I have the day off tomorrow. Wanna do something?"
This is the moment that Mark has been dreading. This is the point where he either has to lie or tell her he's leaving. And Mark's a terrible liar.
"Um, I kind of have to go out of town tomorrow."
Paige sits up and shoots him a confused look. "Where are you going?" she asks.
"Care to explain that a little further?"
Mark takes a deep breath and plunges in. "Every year my mom calls and guilt-trips me into coming home for a few days for her birthday. Her birthday's the nineteenth, and she called last week."
"So you've known about this for a week, and you didn't tell me until today?"
"You're mad, aren't you?"
"I'm not mad," Paige says, standing and pacing a little. "I mean, you could've given me a little warning, since you've known for a whole seven days."
"You are mad," Mark says.
Paige sits down again. "Ok, yes, I'm a little mad. Honestly, you could have told me. I would understand."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"It's ok. I know you like going home even less than I do, and I hate it." She kisses his cheek lightly. "This was the bad day, wasn't it?"
"Last week, when it was raining and you met me after work. That was the day your mom called, wasn't it?" Mark nods solemnly. Paige kisses him again. "When do you leave?"
"Bus leaves at noon."
"Well, we can still do something before then," she smiles.
March 18, 1991, 6:06 a.m. Eastern Standard Time:
As much as Mark would have liked, when Paige said they could do something before he leaves, she didn't mean sex.
Instead it means that Paige wakes him up early by pressing sweet, sexy little kisses to his neck and chin and the corners of his mouth. Mark is awake from the first touch of her lips to his skin, but he doesn't open his eyes. He's more than willing to pretend to be asleep for this kind of attention. "Mark," he hears her moan—that sexy moan from the back of her throat that sends a jolt straight through his stomach. "Mark, wake up," she whispers, focusing her attention on the point where he neck meets his jaw.
Mark begins to think that she's avoiding kissing his lips, and he starts getting impatient. Slowly he snakes his arms around her waist and pulls her down onto the bed. Paige lets out a yelp of surprise, and he grins, finally opening his eyes.
"You've been awake this whole time, haven't you?"
"Mmm hmm," he mumbles sleepily. He tugs on a strand of her jet black hair that's fallen out of her short ponytail and slips it behind her ear. He pushes himself up on an elbow and kisses her.
Something about her tongue or her hands on his chest causes Mark's brain to fracture, and he's no longer concentrating on anything but keeping his mouth connected with hers. He doesn't realize that she's slowly backing away because he keeps following. He doesn't feel the chill of the air in the loft because Paige's skin is so hot.
But all too quickly Paige pushes him away and closes the door. Wait, Mark thinks. How the fuck did I end up in the bathroom? He finds himself standing in the midst of a sea of cold ceramic tile with a towel in his hand.
"I don't hear water running," Paige calls through the door.
Mark throws his head back and groans. He strips off his wrinkled clothes and turns the shower on cold, trying to put out the fire Paige started between his legs. While he rubs shampoo into his hair he thinks about how unfair this situation is; Paige shouldn't be allowed to get him all worked up and then just stop and act as if nothing happened. She shouldn't have this kind of power over him.
Five minutes later he steps out of the shower to find clothes already laid out for him on the sink. That sneaky little… he thinks with a smirk. He'd always suspected that she was really a ninja in disguise.
8:03 a.m. Eastern Standard Time:
"You still haven't told me where the hell we're going."
"And I don't plan to," Paige answers cheekily. "That would ruin the surprise."
The subway hits a curve a little too fast, and Mark almost loses his balance. He quickly grabs the handrail, before he can fall into the man standing behind him.
"Why is the subway so crowded today?" he asks.
"It's rush hour. People are going to work. You know, work? That thing people leave for early in the morning and come home from with money?" Mark feigns a hurt look. Paige kisses his cheek. "You know I love you."
"Do you love me enough to tell me where we're going?"
"You'll know when we get there. Come on, this is our stop," she says as the doors fly open. They push through the crowd and step onto the platform.
"Where are we?"
"How many times do I have to explain to you that this is meant to be a surprise?" She takes his hand and tugs him up the stairs before he has a chance to figure out where they are.
Unfortunately Paige couldn't hide their location forever unless she blindfolded him, and that is not the smartest thing to do on the streets of New York City, so once they were out of the subway Mark knew exactly where they were. "What the fuck are we doing in this part of town?"
Paige groans but doesn't answer. She just continues to pull him along, past the South Street Seaport and right up to the bridge.
"Paige, hold a second." Mark stops her when she doesn't stop going toward the bridge. "Are we walking to Brooklyn or something? 'Cause you know, the subway makes stops there. We could have taken a taxi even." He's trying to keep from laughing, but at the same time he's a little worried for her sanity.
"Mark, will you just trust me? We're not walking to Brooklyn. We're not even going that far over the bridge." She's giving him a pleading look, one that she has to know by now that he can't say no to.
She drops his hand and starts to run, and Mark has no choice really but to follow her. She stops after a few seconds, resting her hands on the railing and staring out over the side.
"So what's so important that you had to wake me up this early for?" Mark asks. Paige smiles and points to the east.
Mark's breath catches in his throat when he looks. The sun had already risen an hour ago, but the light has just now begun to stream through the spaces between all the high-rise buildings. The rays leave bands of gold in their wake, ending on the glittering surface of the East River.
Mark can't believe he's lived here for nearly four years and never seen this. He wishes he'd brought his camera, so he could have proof that beauty like this really exists in New York.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Paige asks. Mark doesn't trust his voice enough right now to answer, so he just nods slowly. He hears her laugh and feels her arm curling around his waist. "I thought if you saw this, it would be easier to get survive being around your family for a few days. And maybe it would be like an incentive to come back."
Mark finally finds his voice. "I don't need this as an incentive to come back." He turns to her and sees the slight worry on her face. "You're all the reason I need."
He covers her lips with his, starting a kiss without all the lust and heat that a lot of their kisses contain. This one is soft and chaste. It's Mark showing Paige how much he loves her, telling her that he won't stay away for long.