Feedback: Adored.

Pairing: Maureen/Joanne mentioned.

Notes: This is set a few years post-Rent and was originally written for challenge #13 for speedrent on LJ.

Disclaimer: Rent, nor any of its characters are mine, I'm just borrowing.


Mark was sick of hospitals. Sick of white, sterile walls, and the smell of antiseptic. Hospitals meant bad news and forced smiles. Rooms filled with flowers that did nothing to hide the fact the sometimes life ā€“ and death ā€“ sucked.

So Mark had no clue why he was letting Maureen, of all people, led him down another long white corridor and past another sea of white coats.

"Maureen, you're hurting my hand!"

"You have to see him, Mark. No, you need to see him," Maureen insisted and Mark swore she yanked his hand even more.

"I can see him when he comes home," he answered. "I don't want to be here."

Maureen stopped, but didn't let go of his hand. "Baby, please, I want you to see him now."

Mark stared down the hall, wishing his camera were in his hand instead of in his bag. Maureen was pouting, pulling out all the stops, and he knew that she knew he wouldn't be able to say no. Not even when he was in the last place on Earth he wanted to be. The place he had no good memories of.

"Okay, fine," he relented and Maureen took the lead again. The walk was a blur and Mark tried hard to not think about the last time he had been in these halls.

The last time he'd said good-bye instead of hello.

Maureen stopped suddenly and he bumped right into her, but she didn't appear to mind. Instead, she let go of his hand and pointed.

"There, Mark. There he is."

He followed Maureen's fingers as they tapped the glass in front of them.

A blue blanket stirred and a pair of tiny feet escaped, flashing tiny little toes at them.

"Isn't he perfect?" she asked. She sounded so happy, so alive, and more excited then Mark had ever seen her. This was a different Maureen, and yet another sign of the change all around him.

"He's beautiful," he finally said, though he doubted Maureen heard him. She was too busy gazing at the newest member of her family. "How's Joanne?"

"She's tired," Maureen answered, eyes still not moving. "She was sleeping when I left to get you. Can you believe it? Me and Joanne, huh, having a kid?"

"Yeah," he answered, "The world is ending. Guess this means you're stuck with her."

"I know." She turned from the glass. "Mark, Iā€¦"

He held up a hand. "It was a long time ago. Things changed, we've changed. I'm happy for you, Maureen."

"Thank you," she said, softly.

Inside the nursery, a nurse appeared at the baby's bedside and gestured to Maureen. Maureen smiled and nodded. His hand was grabbed again.

"Come on. I want you to hold him."

Before he could protest, he was dragged into the room and plopped in a rocker. His bag was taken from him and a nest of blue was settled on his lap. Little blue eyes blinked at him and he didn't move.

"He won't break, Mark," Maureen pushed, before bending down to look the infant in the eyes. "This is your Uncle Mark," she told him.

"What's his name?" Mark asked. The weight felt odd in arms, and he wasn't sure how proceed. Where things went from here.

"Andrew," she answered.

He looked up at her. "Andrew's my middle name."

"I know." She grinned. "If it wasn't for you, he wouldn't exist. You have no idea what this means to us. To me."

"I know." And he did. Sitting there, gently rocking six pounds nestled in blue, he knew.

And for the first time, he wasn't sick of hospitals.