Chapter Eleven

Regaining some of his coherency, Roger slowly crawled on his hands and knees into the bathroom and towards Mark. "Mark…" he whispered, inching closer.

Mark was lying on his side facing the far bathroom wall. Vomit and blood surrounded him, trailing from the toilet. From the back, Roger could tell Mark's hands were clenching his stomach, if they were clenching anything at all. Suddenly the blond groaned and coughed a little, something audibly escaping his mouth.

Kneeling in the throw up, Roger pulled Mark up onto his knees, trying to prevent him from choking on his own vomit.

"Roger…" he murmured. His head wobbled to the side like a newborn baby.

Roger helped Mark to straighten his head and patted his back as he coughed. He stood up when Mark finished coughing, pulling the smaller boy up with him. He gathered the pale, fragile boy in his arms, grimacing as Mark coughed again. More throw up and blood came up, dripping down Mark's chin onto his shirt and Roger's hands. "Marky, you need to go to the hospital."

"No," he shook his head, "I'm fine, I promise. Just a little bug, that's all."

"No, it's not a little bug," he carefully made his way down the steps and out onto the street still cradling the filmmaker in his arms. "Close your eyes and go to sleep. I'll take care of you."

"I just need to sleep in my own bed, I'm fine, I swear."

Roger ignored the boy's pleads and continued half-walking, half-running towards the hospital. Mark wasn't that heavy, but Roger's arms were like jelly at the sight of Mark in this state. At last, Mark had obliged and closed his eyes. His head bobbed back and forth at Roger's quick pace. His coughs and the occasional bloody stomach acid that accompanied them reassured Roger slightly. That maybe Mark would be okay; maybe he had found him in time.

By the time they had arrived at the hospital, Roger was ready to collapse from fear and exhaustion. Dropping to his knees in front of the receptionist's desk, he let Mark's body slide to the floor. Mark rolled onto his side, coughing up blood and vomit. Tears in his eyes, Roger looked up at the frightened nurse. "Help."

Roger spent the rest of the night curled up in a ball in the waiting room. He had his head buried in his knees trying to hide his tears and tune out the little girl screaming about her itchy cast. He missed Mark more than ever. He didn't know what was going to happen. Mark had been whisked away shortly after their arrival (by Dr. Steve of all people) and Roger hadn't been informed on his whereabouts and welfare. He lifted his head up to glare at the mother of the screaming little girl, but that was short-lived when he heard his name.

A short nurse was standing near the hall leading to the rooms with a clipboard in her hands. She wasn't frowning, but she wasn't smiling either. "Mr. Davis?"

Roger scrambled out of his seat, nearly tripping over his feet as he hurried over to the nurse. Wiping his eyes with his shirt sleeve, he asked, "Is he okay? Can I see him?"

The nursed nodded and lead toward a room. She pushed open the door and said, "Take as much time as you need."

Roger nodded and stepped inside, shutting the door behind him.

Mark didn't look like Mark. His vomit-stained clothes had been replaced with a clean, white hospital gown. His glasses were removed and placed on the side table. His eyes were closed, but Roger knew he wasn't asleep. His hands lay still beside him, an orange bracelet on the right one with his name and birthday. He turned his head in the direction of the door, indicating that he had heard the sound. He was paler than usual if that was even possible and looked even thinner.

Roger made his way to Mark's bedside. It hurt to look at him, not only because he looked – and probably felt – like shit but because there was that little pang of guilt beating at Roger's conscience. He couldn't help but feel guilty, like it was his fault that Mark was like this. After all, Roger had given Mark the virus. Pulling up a small folding chair, Roger sat down and laced his hand through Mark's. The smaller boy groaned, acknowledging Roger's presence, but he didn't open his eyes. Roger rested his head on the side of the bed, keeping Mark's hand close to his cheek as he drifted off to sleep.

Roger awoke to a gentle shaking of his shoulder. He looked around, trying to figure out where he was. Finally, he remembered when he saw a still sleeping Mark and a smiling nurse.

"Mr. Davis?"

"Yes?" he stood up, rubbing his eyes.

"I need to check up on Mr. Cohen here," her grin never faded. "The doctor would like to speak with you regarding Mr. Cohen's health. He's in the hall."

Roger nodded. "Thank you." He trudged out into the hallway and saw Dr. Steve's smug face. He looked him in the eye with a heavy glare.

"So nice to see you again, Mr. Davis," Dr. Steve beamed. "How is everything? Getting your AZT easily?"

Normally, Roger would have hit the doctor with a quick, witty, sarcastic reply. But Roger didn't have time for sarcasm right now. "What's wrong with Mark?" The worry was plain in his voice. It was the first time Roger was truly concerned about someone. Maybe because it was his fault, maybe because Mark was the first person he really, truly loved. He was scared for Mark. Mark shouldn't have to die so young. Mark couldn't die. Roger couldn't function without Mark. "Is… is he going to be okay?"

The doctor looked down at the charts in his hands. "We did some tests last night when you brought him in and were able to find out exactly what is wrong with him." His monotone voice dragged out the words slowly.

"What is it? Is he okay? Will he live?" Roger's voice was frantic.

"Calm down," he touched the brooding rock star's shoulder. "It's December. Mark just picked the wrong time to get the flu."

"That's all? The flu? Then why the blood and vomit and everything?" Not that Roger was a certified doctor or anything, but he thought that it might be more serious.

"His immune system isn't what it was," he explained. "It couldn't fight the flu as it would, so he just had a bad reaction. Also, not taking his AZT didn't help. Mark told us about that when he came to last night."

Roger nodded, feeling selfish about storming out when Mark needed him most. "But he was fine when I left."

"It can come on rather suddenly, actually," Dr. Steve replied. "He was probably coughing and sneezing for days, but you just didn't think anything of it. It happens."

"But he'll be okay, right?" Roger asked once again.

"He'll survive this," came the reply, lifting a huge burden off Roger's heart. "He just needs to stay here a few days."

"Thanks," Roger nodded.

"Now go see him, he needs you," the doctor offered a smile as he pushed Roger into the room. Had he not been shoved back to Mark, Roger would have hugged the doctor. But he knew Mark needed the hug more than the doctor.

The nurse left the room when Roger entered. Mark had woken up, giving Roger a smile when he saw him. Sitting on the edge of Mark's bed, Roger ran his fingers through the filmmaker's hair. Drawing his legs up onto the bed, he wrapped Mark up in his arms. He laid down, Mark's head finding that perfect spot on his chest.

"Don't ever do that again," was all Roger could say as he buried his face in Mark's matted hair. "You scared me, Marky, you scared me."

"I'm sorry," the blond muttered, cuddling as close as he could to the musician.

"Me too," he said, "me too. I never wanted to do this to you."

"I did it to myself, Rog, it's not your fault."

"No more secrets?"

"No more secrets."

Roger smiled, kissing his lover.

"Dr. Steve said I was going to be okay," Mark smiled, brightening the room. "I'm going to be okay."

"Yeah, yeah you are," Roger echoed. And I'm going to be okay too, he thought.

Yawning, Mark closed his eyes. "I'm going to sleep now."

"I'll be right here when you wake up." Roger closed his own eyes, keeping his grip on Mark tight.

"'Night," Mark said, forming a weak fist around Roger's t-shirt. Falling asleep in Roger's arms reassured him that he would be okay. That Roger would be okay. That everything would be okay. No matter what hardships came upon them in the uncertain future, Mark knew they would get by. Every relationship came with some uncertainty and taking chances, but Mark knew some risks were worth taking. Mark knew Roger was a risk worth taking.