Feedback as always, is adored.
Pairing: Maureen/Joanne. Mark/Joanne friendship.
Notes: Believe it or not, I was in a good mood when I wrote this. Written for challenge #28 at speedrent.
Warnings: Past character deaths
Disclaimer: Rent is not mine, but sometimes I like to pretend it is. Then I wake up. :)


The snow was falling again, and for one brief moment, it felt magical. Beautiful. Calming.

If he could forget where he was and why he was there, it could have been just another wonderful January day. But, no, he'd come to this place for a reason and he couldn't leave without accomplishing his goal.

One by one, he paid his respects, closing his eyes and tracing the etched letters of each grave. On some visits, he'd ponder if they were all together, celebrating whatever happened after death. On others, he wondered if they'd just ceased to exist, reaching a end that went no where, hitting only blackness. Today, he tried to remain upbeat, talking to thin air, babbling more than he ever could to anyone alive, and ignoring the fact that he was shivering.

"You need a warmer coat."

The voice surprised him and he looked towards it. Joanne stood a few feet away, a few loose flowers in her hands.

"Those flowers will die, you know. It's January," he pointed out needlessly.

"They're fake," she answered. "They'll last."

"Good." He was sure what else to say and let silence fall between them. Joanne walked, stopping to lay a flower on the other graves before circling back to Mark. The final flower was placed and she remained kneeling in the snow.

"I called," he tried, when the silence got to be too much for him.

"I know," she responded. "I needed time."

Time. He understood. But time was fleeting and did little to heal a wound when another one was just around the corner. He learned that lesson after Mimi. Had it reinforced after Collins. When Roger came, he thought he was home free. Maybe time could finally help.

It didn't. Instead it mocked him when, just for kicks, life threw it one extra little surprise.

The snow continued to fall and he shivered again, rewrapping his scarf and pulling his coat tighter around his frame.

"You really do need a new coat," Joanne said softly.

"That would require money."

She gave him a tight smile. "You know I could always—"

"No," he interrupted, his head shaking. Snowflakes fell from his head, dripping water down his face.

"Mark." She said his name with the anticipation of continuing, but no other words came out of her mouth.

It was hard. Even six months after the fact, it was hard. "She loved you, you know," he told her.

"Did she really?" Joanne asked. "We'd been apart for months and—"

"She loved you," he repeated, interrupting. She had and he was sure it. She came running back to him when it happened, but only because he was safe. He wouldn't leave. She let him love her again, but he knew that she could never let herself love him. It was a confession that split his heart in two again and when he found himself facing another one of life's nasty twists, it only made his body ache.

Still, he stayed. He stayed to the bitter end and held her hand. He called Joanne, getting her machine. By the time Joanne returned his call it didn't matter and he was absolutely alone.

"I loved her, too." Her voice broke a bit, but he knew it was true. And of course, it made things even more tragic, like Collins and Angel, and Roger and Mimi. They were all fucking walking Lifetime movies of the week.

He didn't answer her, instead choosing to shove his hands deeper into his pockets, doing anything to escape the sudden chill. The snow was no longer beautiful or calming, it was cold and cloying and settled into his chest. He coughed, not bothering to try and cover his mouth.

"Sorry," he mumbled.

"For what?" Joanne blinked.

"I should have called sooner. I was selfish. Hoped she came back because she wanted to, because she needed me. She needed me, but not way I needed her and not the way I wanted her to. I wanted…" The words died in the air and he sighed. "Life sucks."

"It does," Joanne agreed. "Mark?"

"Yeah?" He shivered and wondered if Benny's promise of heat in the loft would be a reality when he got home. He didn't get his hopes up.

"I could use a cup of coffee. What do you say? My treat." Her invitation dangled in the air as he mulled it over.

"I can do that," he finally said. He really could. He pushed himself up. Joanne followed and they brushed snow off themselves as they headed towards the open gate.

He stole a glance back towards the grave and saw the flower Joanne had laid down was already covered in snow.