-1Whenever Roger tried to give Mark dating advice, it'd turn out to be waste of both of their time.
"Look, just stop being so damn self conscious all the time," He'd say, as if it were that easy, "And if you see a chick you want, go after her."
This was pre-AIDS Roger talking, all bleached hair and kohl eyeliner and rockstar image. Mark, who looked no older than seventeen at the time, (although at present still looks no older than maybe twenty) would twist his mouth into a pitiful scowl as he wandered around the loft, picking up discarded beer cans and cigarette butts. He wouldn't say anything, but could feel Roger's eyes watching him as he tossed the mess into the garbage and continued his cleaning spree, rolling his sleeves up to wash the pile of dishes discarded in the sink. Roger would slink up next to Mark and sit on the counter beside his roommate, taking a sip of his beer and trying to catch Mark's eyes with his own.
"Seriously, man, it's not that hard." He'd insist, reaching over with a needle-scarred arm to hit Mark on the back. Mark's eyes would flutter closed at the impact, and by the time he'd open them, all that would be left of Roger's presence would be the sound of his bedroom door closing.
This was before Maureen and Joanne and Mimi and Angel and even April, when it was just Benny and Collins and Roger and him, back when they weren't even friends yet - just people who shared a flat.
Back when Roger hated Mark, and back when Roger would get a kick out of seeing Mark embarrassed or angry, just because it was so easy- back when Mark was nothing to him but a stray who would probably go crawling back to his house in Scarsdale any day.
"Davis, you're a shit," Benny said one day, as he sat on the edge of the tub as Mark dry-heaved into the toilet before him, "What the fuck did you give him?"
Roger, all dark circles and track marks, waved in dismissal. His new companion of the moment, who's arms were just as scarred and eyes just as sullen, came up behind him and peered over his shoulder with a frown on her face.
"Come on, he needs to live sometime. He had a few beers and then shot up with me and the band. Let 'im sleep it off and he'll be fine. He wanted to."
"Yeah, sure," Benny rolled his eyes, stepping over Mark to wet a towel that was on the edge of the sink. Ringing it out, he said, "It's obvious he had a bad trip. Whatever you idiots were shooting up wasn't pure. He's practically fucking overdosing in here, you shit."
From behind him, Roger's girl's lip protruded in a genuine look of concern, "Do you think we should call a doctor?"
Roger shrugged in response as Benny's head tilted up to look at the girl.
"And you are?"
She faltered for a bit, unsure of the malice that was laced in his words, but then spoke.
"Benny." He replied, pulling on Mark's shoulders to have him lean back against the wall. With an easy hand, he placed the rag on the filmmaker's head, wiping the sweat away.
"He shouldn't sleep," Came a new voice from behind them. Collins, they learned, had been standing there for quite a bit, "He needs to ride it out awake. Roger, come help me move him back into his room."
Roger froze in place upon hearing Collins words, hesitating to do anything of the sort. The look in Collins' eyes was not something to play with though, so with little guilt weighing in his heart, followed the other man into the bathroom.
"Marky," Collins said in a soft hum, "We're gonna get you back to your room. Do you think you'll feel a little better laying down?"
Mark, who's already pale complexion had a blue tint to it, could barely focus on the man standing before him. His eyes blurry and unable to focus sans glasses, he looked like he was barely registering what Collins was saying. Collins frowned but leaned down to haul Mark up anyway as Roger came up on the man's other side and supported him from the other side.
The trip to the bedroom was hardly difficult, even with Mark not really helping the move at all, simply because he weighed so little. As they moved, Collins realized he probably could've done it without Roger's help at all.
Gently, they set him down on the floor-ridden mattress.
"Benny," Collins called, "Go get whatever blankets are in this place - yours, mine, Roger's - and a bowl."
With a silent Roger watching and a guilt-ridden April standing in the doorway, Collins pulled Mark up into a sitting position and yanked his sweater off, wrapping his single blanket around his shivering frame before laying him back down. Mark, eyes twitching and body convulsing with shivers, immediately balled himself into the fetal position, and to everyone's surprise, began to cry silently. Collins reached over and whispered consoling words into Mark's ear, trying to calm him.
"Here," Benny said, suddenly at the bedside. In one hand, he held their spare blankets and their comforters. The other, an empty plastic bowl.
Roger recognized his dark blue quilt.
Collins took each blanket and covered Mark in them, tucking them in around the filmmaker one by one like a cocoon.
"Roger, I want you to stay in here with him," Collins said, a few moments later as he stood up, "I have to go to work and he can't be left alone. If anything changes, call an ambulance."
Then, to April he smiled, "I'll show you out, Miss April."
Roger nearly burst as he followed April and Collins out of the bedroom, his anger swelling in his chest by the second.
"Why am I the fucking babysitter? He's an adult, not some kid. He shot up because he wanted to, I didn't force the needle in his arm!"
Collins, all wide eyes and booming voice, whipped around and pointed a finger in Roger's face, making the musician take a step back.
"He IS an adult, but he is also your roommate. He made a choice, probably thinking it'd make you drop this holier than thou attitude you've had towards him since the moment he'd stepped foot here, and now he's paying for the consequences. Suck it up, Roger, the world does NOT revolve around your pretty little head all the time."
A stunned silence echoed through the loft and both men's eyes fiercely stared one another down.
"I'll see you soon Roger," April said, finally unable to stand the silence. She quickly approached the guitarist and planted a kiss on his cheek, catching his eyes with her own. Her gaze was a pleading one - a pleading for Roger to go deal with what he helped cause. Roger closed his eyes against it before turning on his heel and going back into Mark's room, slamming the door behind him. Mark jumped and whimpered at the noise, his hearing having been intensified as an effect of the drug, and Roger crossed the room to sit against the wall.
The silence stretched between them for what seemed like hours, Roger sitting silently, internally sulking about how it wasn't fair that he had to "babysit" as Mark murmured to himself, only a few words being truly audible. Finally growing tired of sitting staring at the wooden floorboards below his body, Roger allowed his eyes to scan the room, taking in the little decoration Mark had in his room. A Metropolis poster was the only wall decoration, looking worn and sun-faded. On the floor, piles of papers were scattered across the room, and in the far corner, Roger recognized a pile of film equipment and an old typewriter.
A few feet to his right, Roger's eyes fell on a small pile of papers, and he leaned over silently to grab them, his gaze peering back to Mark to make sure the filmmaker wasn't watching him.
Upon scanning over the first page, Roger realized that this must be one of Mark's screenplays, and with a sigh and a curious feeling eating away at his chest, he flipped open the first page and began to read.
It wasn't until over an hour later that Roger was snapped out of the world Mark had created through his words - and ironically enough, it had been Mark himself who had distracted him.
Roger looked up as Mark fell into a fairly violent coughing fit, and unable to just sit there and watch the filmmaker idly, he scooted over to the bed and carefully helped Mark sit up. Mark coughed for several more minutes before collapsing back into the bed, eyes widening at the sight of Roger sitting beside him, one of his screenplays in hand.
"What are you doing here?" He asked, finally much more attentive than he had been only a short time before. Roger held up the screenplay, watching Mark's eyes, which had been nearly dead a little while ago, brighten slightly with recognition.
"Did you write this?" Roger asked, although he already knew the answer. Mark very nearly rolled his eyes.
Roger nodded and flipped through the screenplay, his hesitated words fumbling on his lips.
"It's pretty amazing," He finally admitted, to Mark's surprise. Instead of feeling happy or proud like he would normally feel when someone praised him for something he'd written, Mark felt annoyed.
"What are you doing here?" He asked again, reaching over and pulling the screenplay out of Roger's grip. He tossed it on the floor on the opposite side of the bed, his movements feeling lethargic and almost painful. Roger watched Mark do this and frowned.
"Babysitting you." He muttered running a hand through his hair. Mark scoffed and rolled over.
"Nice." He replied.
The silence stretched for a few moments as Roger felt an unfamiliar feeling of guilt well up in his chest.
"Look, Mark, I should've told you to be careful when you took the first hit-" He began, but Mark interrupted.
"Don't apologize to me, I don't want to hear it."
Again, silence. Roger felt the river keeping them apart widening, and while a few nights ago he would've been quite fine, maybe even happy, that Mark was distancing himself, now he felt sort of annoyed and disappointed.
"I'm trying to apologize to you because I know the only reason you did that is because you hoped -"
Again Mark interrupted him.
"And I told you, don't. Because it doesn't matter. You never liked me, Roger, even though I tried to be friendly to you. I wasn't asking for a friendship, I was asking to be congenial to one another. For some reason, you think it's cute to put me down all the time and talk about me as if I'm not even there. I don't care anymore, it doesn't even matter."
Roger stood up and crossed the room, looking down at Mark, who met his gaze.
"Don't be a dick here, Mark-"
"I decided to try the stupid drug just to see what it was like. I did and I regret it. It had nothing to do with you, so if your guilt is about making poor little sheltered Mark getting high for the first time and getting sick over it, then get over it. I decided to try it on my own, and I paid the price."
Roger, his anger building tried to continue, "Look, I want to talk and you won't let me-"
Mark, sitting up now, met his eyes with Roger's, blue meeting green in a fury of anger, misunderstanding and sadness.
"I want you to leave me alone." Mark very nearly yelled, the dizziness in his body coming back full force, "How about this one? Roger, I hate you."
Roger froze, and Mark nodded.
"I hate you, you fucking idiot. Go back to your drugs and your groupies, and leave me ALONE."
The standoff that occurred after Mark spoke his words seemed to leave the room with a terrible feeling of regret. Regret on Roger's side, because he knew he had been the one to cause such a hatred in Mark, who's motto was often, "I don't hate anyone.", and regret on Mark's side for saying such a hurtful thing. Roger, shocked and suddenly in realization that the heroine that had been in his system was almost gone, took a deep breath. Before he could say something, though, Mark's eyes rolled up and back into his head and fluttered shut as he passed out from the dizziness. A panic rippled through his body and Roger fell to his knees, collecting Mark in his arms and pulling the too-thin filmmaker up and out of the room.
"Benny!" Roger yelled, and Benny appeared in his doorway, "Call an ambulance."
Silently, Benny went to the phone and dialed '911' as Roger stood there, body shaking under the pressure of guilt and withdrawal.
He knew, from that moment on, that things were going to change.