A/N: Sorry. I'm a Premed major. What other excuse can I use?

RENT...not mine.

- - -

"Sorry, again." She sighed, picked up the overturned paints and Mark glanced at his second pair of ruined pants. They were now earthy tones, an olive green here and a sienna brown there.

"What are you painting this time?"

"Oh," she raised her brows, "well, someone told me that my paintings were ostentatious and too forward."

"Really?" He wasn't sure that the speaker of these words was going in the wrong direction, but it was still a blow to the ego. Someone once told him his films lacked creative angles and he almost came home crying.

"Yeah, so it's back to the drawing board," she hoisted the box of paints into her arms and began up the steps, "I'm thinking mountains, trees...you know, the norm."


"Excuse me?"

Mark blushed. "Oh no, I mean, everyone paints those things. Why don't you paint people?"

"Okay. But I need people first."

"I can do that."

"Let me get you some pants before you ruin your couch," she said, opening her door and he followed her inside, shutting the door. She tossed the boxes onto the couch and retreated to the bedroom, emerging with a pair of much worn flannel pants.

"They are my favorite pants, Mark," she sighed, "and I want you to have them since I have probably ruined your favorite pants."

"Oh, these aren't..."

She held up her hand to stop him. "Humor me." She thrust the pants to him. "Take care of them."

"Are they going to fit me?"

"They fit my 300 pound brother. They will fit anyone."

Mark held them up and then tucked them under his arm, walking into the bathroom and closing the door. He removed the stained pants and slipped on the new pants. They were slightly tight in the crotch area and he cringed. Wait. This might actually work to his advantage...they hugged him at the right spot in between his legs, causing his adornments to look nice. And big. Nodding in pride, he collected his other pants and walked out.

"See? I told you they fit everyone," she smiled as he came out, "magic pants."

"Yeah," Mark shrugged and he saw her eyes flit down, blink, and look back at his face. "Well," he sighed, "I guess I'll see you later. Come get me when you finish those mountains and trees." She smiled and he exited, walking up the steps and closing the door behind his tightly-flannelled ass.

- - -

"Where did you get those God awful pants, Mark?" Joanne wrinkled her nose as they sat around the table, beer bottles coating the top, each person smoking his or her choice of tobacco. Mark looked down. The flannel was growing little fuzz balls on the thighs and crotch but he didn't care.

"The girl downstairs."

"The painter?" Mimi took a long draw on the cigarette and Mark nodded.

"She just gave them to you?" Collins was puffing on his joint and set it gently in the ashtray.

"No, actually, she ruined my second pair of pants. So she gave me these."

"Shit, if I ran into someone and spilled paint all over them I'd get them something nicer than those," Collins replied, picking the joint up again and sucking on it. Mark only shrugged and stood, taking one last drink of his beer.

"Pants are pants," Mark sighed, stretching and scratching the exposed patch of his belly, yawning loudly enough to earn a scowl from Joanne. Alcohol always made him unbearably sleepy and he stumbled slowly to his room, managing a feeble wave and a faulty "Goodfuckingnight". The bed was unkempt but inviting. His shirt came off, the glasses, and he began to tug the pants down his thighs, only to find they slid off easily. Mark smirked; these pants were magic.

He lay down slowly, gripping the comforter and pulling it up. Ah, sweet release.

But the painter with her crucifixes and showy colors clouded his usually cut-and-dry thoughts. He hadn't filmed her yet; she stayed locked up, quiet, meditating over old coffee table art books and color palettes. He'd never seen anyone go in or out of the dingy apartment, was pretty good at only him and his camera.

Maybe his camera could capture something. A blush, a grin, maybe even tears. Yes, he was pretty good at that. Mark sucked the emotion out of others and replayed each film strip over and over. Like that morning when Roger couldn't stop falling off the side of the couch or the kids who scattered the pigeons in the park. Mark was very good at capturing emotion...too bad he couldn't capture his own.

He vowed to take his camera down to the painter and ask her. No, tell her.

- - -


"You owe me." Yes! Mark pursed his lips, trying to keep back an accomplished grin. He could tell she was uneasy about it, slowly pawing for the rosary crumpled in her pants pocket, wiping her free palm on the hem of her tank.

"Right." She stood rigidly and nodded, tuning around to finish the palette she was working on. Mark slowly turned the reel and began to film, her back hunched and the muscles in her back working. It was then that Mark felt an ache.

No. He wiped his eyes and continued filming, slowly standing from his stool and approaching her.

"Don't you have some narration or something? Isn't that what filmmakers do?" She tilted her head slightly, still huddled over the paints.

"I used to."

"Why don't you anymore?"

"It gets too repetitive. No one really cares what month or year or day it is. It's all about emotion – every muscle, every tear, every wrinkle." He focused a bit more as she lifted her chin, taking a tentative look at the white canvas. "Besides," he sighed, "there's no audio on this thing."

"Humor me." She slowly drew the brush across the palette and made a small mark on the clean surface; teal, the color of melancholy.

"January fifth, 3:45 PM Eastern Standard time..."

"That clock is five minutes slow."

"3:40 PM Eastern Standard time..."

"And who cares what time zone it's in?"

"Who's the filmmaker?"

She cocked a brow disapprovingly at him and continued with long, smooth strokes of teal. "Continue."

"Zoom in on a painter, just recovering from the pain of rejection, expressing her –"

"Okay, if you're going to say it like that – "

"Shut up and let me do this." Mark continued, the light caressing her arms and hair while she extended each muscle toward the canvas. Another color, a reddish-orange, was gently applied beside the teal and Mark pulled his eye from the camera.

"What are you painting?" His voice was now faint and uneasy and she furrowed a brow at his change of tone.

"A-A girl." She looked at him warily, "From back home."

Mark blinked and shut off his camera. "Are you okay?" she asked, putting her brush down and standing.

"Yeah, I j-just thought it was a nice color combination..." Mark managed, his speech slurring and his head spinning. He was fine just a second ago...His camera slowly rolled out of his fingers and she moved to catch it, cradling it before reaching out a free arm to support Mark's descent to the ground.

- - -

"All he did was just shut off the camera and he fainted. That's it."
"He didn't look like he was going to faint?"
"No! He just...did."

"Wh-what?" Mark opened an eye and stiffened, trying to open his sore eyes against the overhead light, involuntarily rubbing them.

"You're up." Something light fell to the floor and pages in a book shut, being set aside and Mark sat up. The blood flooded his brain and he tensed, then opened his eyes. He was in his bed, in his clothes, but it wasn't Roger sitting beside his bed.

"What happened?"

Daria smiled and scratched her neck, "Well, you passed out."

"From your paint. I know."

"Well," she mused, "seems like we have that all straightened out." She tucked her hands back into her sleeves and groped on the ground for the thing she must have dropped; a pen, by the look of the drawing pad that sat in her lap.

"Were you drawing me?" Mark didn't mean for his voice to come out as disgusted as it had and she blinked twice.

"No," she replied quickly, "I like draperies and you have really nice curtains, so I decided to sketch them." She picked up her things and tucked the pen into her shirt pocket, hunching the big jacket onto her bare shoulders, "I'm going through a Matisse phase."

"Matisse went through a drapery phase?"

"I'm sure Kurosawa or Copolla had a phase they went through, too..."

Mark smiled. "I'm sure they did."

"Well, get better," she began to walk away and Mark slid out of bed, pulling up his jeans and trying to catch her before she walked out of the door.

"Hey, thanks." She looked at him warily and then took a long breath.

"You're welcome. Go back to sleep. You're going to have a monster headache in about an hour so you might want to take the pills beside your bed," she motioned back into his room, "just take 2. It should be enough."

The loft door clicked shut, leaving him to fall back into the warm womb of his bed, sleeping in the bath of the midafternoon sun.