A/N: This won 2nd place at the SpeedRent challenge, yay!
Disclaimer: Don't own it.

The Bottle, The Hushed Whispers, and the Mahogany Bar

Today, Mark's eyes have turned into nothing but blank, emotionless blue glass, a window into nothing. They matched the bottle he constantly had in his hand these days, both bottle and eyes a glance into what only could be described as desperation.

He was commonly seen at the second to last bar stool at Jimmy's Pub midtown these days, far from home and alone. Most people didn't know him and didn't care to know him, eyes flickering over the unshaven filmmaker with curiosity before cupping hands around mouths to snicker to one another.

The notebook was used and abused and contained a whole lot of his life in front of him, and he was constantly slumped to the side, unable to sit up any longer.

He came in with a bottle and left with a bottle everyday, and was never sober, not anymore.

His hands, still soft except for the scars that tainted his pale skin from the times he sliced his finger on the internal mechanisms of his now-extinct camera, would clutch the pen tightly as he scribbled into said notebook, thoughts that went unseen by the people around him.

With his left hand clutching the bar tightly, the other scribbling into his notebook and his scotch glass half-full in front of him, his stomach would settle, his eyes run out of focus, and an alarming calm would come over him. His knuckles would whiten with the pressure of the wood beneath his fingers, trying to grasp onto something, anything.

"Such a shame," People would mutter as he stumbled by them later, or behind him in the booth of the bar, or next to him at the stool. He barely heard their whispers, they fell on deaf ears, mind grasping to concentrate on his writing and the feel of his fingers holding onto something.

That day, though, he felt a hand on his arm, heard the soft whisper of angry mutterings of concern and with a slight turn of his head, thought he saw an angel.

Not Angel, but an angel, who was adorning ripped jeans, leather jacket and what looked like Mark's own scarf. He also, if Mark squinted through his drunken haze enough, looked a lot like Roger. It couldn't be Roger, though, because Roger should be home, at their loft, behind a closed door and mourning over the loss of the too-close deaths of Mimi and Collins. He should be playing Muzetta's Waltz and Your Eyes loud, loud, louder until Mark, bottle still in one hand and notebook in the other, would press his wrists against his ears and moan in agony a the memories the songs resurrected. Roger, who was too busy to notice Mark was slowly drinking himself to death.

And yet, it was Roger's gruff voice in his ear as he reached around him and pulled the bottle out of one hand, and the familiar scent of Roger's cheap soap and leather jacket that enveloped him as the guitarist pulled his notebook and pen out of the other hand and closed it. Mark slowly, as the world tilted and swayed underneath his feet, tried to object to these actions, but Roger, who was on a much more functioning wavelength than he was, had already rolled the notebook and tucked it in his back pocket.

Roger was talking to him, Mark knew, but too fast in his head. Snippets of Roger's voice and dialogue caught in his brain, something like, "Fuck, Jesus, what are you -, get up…!" and a whole lot of "Mark, Mark… Mark, do this, Mark…, Mark Mark Mark…"

It wasn't until Roger came up behind him and literally pulled him off of the stool, tucking his body against his own, that Mark smelled lavender and saw glitter out of the corner of his eye and noticed Maureen, who's look of concern was tainted by her ever-continuing chatter that she was directing towards Roger.

Their chatter distracted him from the fact that he was being dragged away from the warmth of the bar, with it's familiar smell and lights and the sanctity in alcohol. It wasn't until the cold winter stung his cheeks that he pushed against Roger.

"Get away," He could hear himself mumble, and with a sloppy push, shoved Roger off of him. Out on the sidewalk in the freezing cold all motion stopped, the two men at a standoff as Maureen stood off to the side, words lingering off of her lips.

The sting of the freezing air around them had halted Mark's blissful inebriation, he felt himself crashing a bit. Sounds became more coherent, and he was able to look at Roger without having three of the guitarist swimming around him. He was far from sober, because his thoughts definitely weren't clicking with what was about to spill out of his mouth, but the world, which had been pleasantly buzzing around him a bit earlier was now becoming more, real.

"You're a fucking jack off," He spouted, as his brain screamed NO NO NO, What are you doing? He took a couple of sloppy steps towards Roger and shoved his roommate harder than he meant to, sending Roger stumbling back in surprise. Mark's hands immediately went to shield his face, in anticipation of a much deserved push back, but there was none, and after a moment, his arms leaked to his sides and he found himself still in a slight standoff with Roger. Maureen, quiet for once, looked at him with an expression of utter shock and horror.

"Tell me, Mark," Roger said finally, gesturing to himself and then to his counterpart, "Tell me. Yell at me, Mark. Fucking YELL AT ME. Tell me what a fucking asshole I am, what a fucking asshole I've been. TELL ME."

Mark felt like crying. He missed the warm bottle in his fingertips, the vial in his hands. The grip of the bar's mahogany wood, chipped and worn under his touch. He missed the feel of not caring, the words rushing from his pen to his notebook, the whispers. It all made him feel alone, yet important. Dead, yet oh so alive.

Mark, drunk, unable to stand, crazy Mark didn't realize that he didn't really miss the bottle. He actually missed the people he used to hold onto instead of that bottle. Mimi, Collins, Angel, Maureen, Joanne and even Roger, who found solstice in his guitar and shut door.

"I hate you," He finally said, as his thoughts and spoken words clicked together. He looked from Roger to Maureen and with a single finger, pointed, "And I hate you."

"I hate you fucking all." Softly at first, then, screaming, "I HATE YOU!"

"You, with your fucking guitar and self pity," He continued, then mimicking Roger, "Go cry in a fucking corner somewhere, Mark, I need to worry about no one but myself.'"

With pulled back, rather weak punch, Mark swung at Roger, hitting his roommate's shoulder. Roger caught his arm as he tried to pull back to swing again, and pulled Mark against him tightly, catching Mark's arms to stop him from swinging.

The restraint loosened into a hug as he gripped Roger's jacket, tears beginning to tip over onto the leather. He cried, and he cried hard as Roger held onto him.

"I'm so sorry," He could hear Roger's gruff voice whisper, "This is all my fault, I'm so sorry."

The old Mark would pull away, tell him that no, it wasn't. He could handle himself, it wasn't his job to babysit him, it was Roger's fiance who had just died, after all. But in that cold, in the swallow of the alcohol and in the arms of his best friend, the new Mark couldn't be that strong.

He needed to be taken care of this time.