Disclaimer: I don't own Rent.

Chapter One

No one ever knew what Mark was thinking except Roger. His mind was a mystery to the world and no one ever really knew his reasoning for things, except Roger. Even though his eyes showed his every emotion, no one ever really paid attention. Except Roger. But sometimes, even Roger didn't know what was running through the mind of the filmmaker. Now was one of those times.

They were sitting on the couch in their favorite position. Roger was sitting up, leaning on the arm of the couch with his legs stretched to the other end. Mark was half on his legs, half in the little space between them with his head resting on Roger's chest and the rest of him curled up in a ball.

"What's the matter, Mark?" Roger asked, his hand idly running up and down Mark's back in a gentle scratch.

"Nothing," he replied.

Roger knew this was pure bullshit. Even though he didn't know what was wrong, the clues were all there. In his eyes, in his voice, in the way he tensed up at Roger's touch. "Tell me," he sighed. "Mark, what's the matter? Are you scared?" Maybe that was it. Maybe Mark was scared about his upcoming appointment. He always did tense up when those came up – but never this much.

Mark nodded a little. "I guess I'm just a little nervous, more nervous than before." He sat up and turned around to face Roger, still in his lap.

"You're never this tense though," Roger reasoned. He got a good look at Mark's cloudy blue eyes. He could tell Mark was more than a little nervous.

"Well, we've been lucky so far, but there's always the chance that we messed up one time and I-"

"I don't think I could forgive myself," Roger looked away, "if I got you sick too."

Mark winced. "Rog, you know I'd never blame you. I put myself at risk, and it's okay if-"

"No, it's not," Roger's voice was harsh. "I can't lose anyone else to this fucking disease."

First it was April five years ago. True, it wasn't the AIDS that killed her, but more so the fear of what was going to happen. Then it was Angel. She drummed her way into our lives for less than a year. Two years after that, Mimi went. No one thought that Roger was going to heal after that devastating loss. It was almost worse than how he was when April died, but somehow, he pulled through. Maureen always said it was because of Mark. And Mark liked to believe that. That he was the reason his best friend had any will to live and love. Collins went just last year. He seemed happy to go, eager to get back to his Angel.

"You'll never lose me," Mark said, snuggling closer. "I'll always be with you."

Wednesday, the day Mark had been dreading, finally arrived. He woke up earlier than Roger and just laid there, watching Roger sleep. His wavy hair decorated the pillow and the thin white sheet rose and fell with his steady breathing. Mark almost didn't want to wake him up – he looked so peaceful, so happy, so alive.

He leaned down and gently kissed Roger on the mouth to wake him.

"Mmm," he opened his eyes and saw Mark. "That's my favorite alarm clock."

Mark laughed. "Good morning."

"It's too early to be awake," he stretched his arms and yawned. "Why'd you wake me?"

"It's Wednesday," Mark replied somberly, his laughter and momentary good mood fading.


Mark was fine until they got onto the train to the hospital. He sat in one of the little plastic chairs next to Roger. First, his hands started to shake. It was almost violent, as if his hands were having a seizure. Roger's face twisted in confusion. He reached his hands down to steady Mark's.

"Are you sure you're okay?"

Mark nodded. "Just… scared."

Roger nodded, taking Mark into his arms, allowing the boy to lean his head on his shoulder. "It's okay. I was scared too."

Roger thought back to when he was tested. It was three days after they found April and her suicide note, if you could call it that. It was more of a death sentence than anything, but Roger took her seriously. He remembered Mark taking him to the hospital. He remembered lots of questions. He remembered a blood test. He remembered going home and just crying. He remembered hitting Mark for taking away his heroin – the only good thing left in the world now that April was gone, he had said. He remembered crying to Mark. He remembered test results. He remembered more tears and more of endless comfort from Mark. But then he remembered healing and how good it felt to move on. He had learned to live with it. Although he prayed to whatever deity that might be up there that Mark wouldn't have to move on, he knew he could with some help.

"It's our stop," Mark said quietly. He stood up, stumbling as the train slowed down. Roger found his hand in his own and led him off the train and the few blocks toward the hospital.

The waiting was always the worst part. Whether it was in the waiting room anticipating the test itself or the living room expecting the mail, Mark couldn't stand it. That's where he was always the most uneasy.

"I just have this feeling," he said as Roger filled out the paperwork. Mark's hands were shaking too bad for him to write. "I've never been this freaked out before. Just this inner gut feeling."

"Like a premonition?" Roger asked scrawling Mark's birthday into the box.

"Almost, but more of a feeling than a vision," he replied.

"Mark Cohen?" an overly perky nurse with a clipboard called from the desk.

Mark stood up slowly. "Come back with me?"

Roger nodded and stood up too.

"Is it okay if he comes?" Mark approached her. Roger followed, still writing things on the papers.

"Sure," the nurse nodded. "Just sit in this room and someone will be in shortly to administer your test."

"Thank you."

Shortly, a young man came in to give Mark his test. The test that may prove his worst fear or the test that would make him kick himself for worrying so much. The test that decided between living and dying.