A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed my first story, you guys are great. This is more meaningless fluff, because fluff of the MR variety makes me a very happy lady. Oh yeah, and this is yet another speedrent challenge done too late. I need to get better about these pesky deadline things.
Disclaimer: I do own RENT, it's all mine! -acknowledges angry glares- Alright! Okay! I don't own RENT, not a single bit of it. -cries- But someday.. someday.. -plots-
The Way Things Were
I Heart Wolf
"What? What's the big deal? A lot of people I know didn't go."
"I just didn't want to, okay? There's nothing wrong with that." Mark looked down at his feet praying his remark would end the conversation. He had no idea how they got on to the topic of high school anyway, much less prom, and he didn't like it one bit. Mark hated high school. Hate wasn't even the word for it. It was more like unadulterated loathing. He hated the smell of the halls, the way the damn lockers always got jammed, the way the jocks "accidentally" bumped into him while they were switching classes, the way his lunch table was always occupied by two people – him and his camera; this list went on and on. The only good thing about high school was how very observable it was. Everyone clumped into their stereotypes and labels or lumped into their groups – it was a people watcher's dream. He never dared to actually film anyone lest his camera "accidentally" wound up in pieces, but he observed as much as he could.
"I don't buy it. Everyone wanted to go to prom! It was the best thing about high school!"
"First of all, Roger, there was no best thing about high school. Second, drop it. So I didn't go to prom. You're acting like I just told you I like to punch babies or something."
Roger snorted and broke out into a fit of giggles.
"Roger. Cover yourself, you're immaturity's showing."
This only made Roger laugh harder. He was practically rolling off of the couch where they had both sat, him on one side and Mark on the other with their legs entwined in the middle.
"Alright, Roger, we get it, it was funny." Mark grinned in spite of himself. He couldn't help but smile whenever Roger laughed because when he did it was genuine. It was unlike any he'd ever heard. Roger's head was thrown back and his arms were crossed over his stomach like he was trying to hold his insides in. Mark loved that laugh, and he especially loved to be the one causing it.
"..hy.. n't .. to ..rom?"
Mark raised his eyebrow slipping out of the daydream he didn't even know he was in. "Huh?"
"Why didn't you go to prom?" Roger's abrupt mood swing startled Mark. In a matter or minutes he went from laughing about baby punching to locking eyes with Mark with something like concern laced in his gaze. Roger crawled across the couch and situated himself between Mark's legs, lying with his back on the filmmaker's stomach and his head on Mark's shoulder. Mark sighed and began absentmindedly playing with a lock of the songwriter's hair.
"Why is this so important to you?"
"It's not important. I just think you're hiding something. You don't have to hide anything from me, Marky." Roger rolled over onto his stomach and looked up at Mark. "Come on, I wanna know."
Mark slumped his shoulders in defeat. "I didn't have anyone to go with, okay? I really, really wanted to go but I didn't have anyone to go with because I was the cliché scrawny Jewish kid that got bullied and laughed at. Now can we please end the torture-Mark-with-his-past game?" Mark's cheeks were flushed and he was looking at his feet again.
"Mark, I didn't mean - "
"It's fine, Roger. It was a long time ago, it doesn't matter anymore." Marks cheeks grew even redder. Why did this still bother him? He was out of high school. Hell, he was out of college (okay, well, he dropped out of college, but he was still out). He shifted uncomfortably and wedged himself deeper into the couch cushions praying that he was right, that this really was the couch from hell, and it would swallow him up.
Roger bit his lip and knelt between Mark's legs so he was face to face with the filmmaker. "It's not fine. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to force you or anything. I just wanted to know." Roger wanted to stop what he was going to say next, he really did, but he was never really good at keeping his mouth shut anyway, so: "What about that girl you talk about? That Nancy Himmelfangle or whatever her name is?"
Mark groaned and rolled his eyes. Why did Roger have to push these things? "Nanette Himmelfarb, you mean. WellIaskedherbutshesaidno."
"I asked her, Roger, but she said no. She went with some guy, Sean Byrnes or something like that. He was on the football team, go figure. So now we know what a geek Mark was in high school. He was the clumsy, average looking Jewish kid that stayed out of people's way because if he didn't he was in for it. My high school days were a wonderful cliché, weren't they?" Mark twisted his was around Roger and stood up. He couldn't tell which he was more of, embarrassed that Roger knew the truth or ashamed that it actually still bothered him that much. "I'm gonna go film for a little while, I'll be back later."
Roger jumped off of the couch and grabbed Mark's wrist, pulling the filmmaker into an embrace. "I'm sorry, Mark." He linked his hands with his arms around Mark's waist so he couldn't pull away. He rested his temple against Mark's and whispered, "for what it's worth, I think you're beautiful."
Mark felt the tears forming behind his eyes but he fought them back. Roger could be such an ass sometimes, but damn did he know how to make up for it. Mark wrapped his arms around Roger's shoulders and felt a light kissed being pressed to his temple, and he closed his eyes as Roger captured his lips in a firm kiss.
"It's okay Roger, really," Mark said after the kiss was broken. He smiled up at the taller man, trying to reassure him that he was fine. He hoped that it was working, but at the same time he was still trying to reassure himself. "I'm gonna go out for a little while and film, okay? It's a nice day and I want to get some shots of the park while it's still light out. I'll be back in a little while."
"Okay then." Roger pouted. Mark kissed him lightly and pulled out of the embrace, walking to his room. Roger sighed. Things were a little better, but Mark was blind if he thought he could fool Roger with that "I'm fine. (smile) Really I am," act.
Mark wound his camera and pointed it in the direction of the old man who was feeding the birds, then panned to the children running around in the middle of the grassy field playing tag. He sighed and sat on a bench. Why did this still bother him? So he didn't go to prom, so what? It shouldn't matter anymore. He was out of high school, he had friends who loved him whom he loved equally as much, and he had Roger. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Roger, who had one of the biggest mouths in Alphabet City and the immaturity level of one of the kids he just shot playing tag, but had the ability to strike Mark still with one laugh or one look in the eye. Roger, who turned down that gorgeous dancer downstairs – her name was Mimi he believed - because he and Mark has kissed the night before and oh what a kiss it was. Roger, one of the hottest men below 14th street, someone Mark could only dream of having, who apparently thought Mark was beautiful.
Still, there was this nagging feeling in the back of his mind. He couldn't shake it. He didn't know why high school still got to him, but it did. Talking about it with Roger just bought it all back, that hurt when Nanette turned him down, the dread he always felt when one of the jocks looked at him the wrong way. It all rushed back and hit him in the face like one of the jocks would have.
Mark felt his spine go straight and his ears perk up like a dog that just heard one of those whistles. Oh, not now. Not now not now not now not nowww. He convinced himself it was just his evil mind playing games with him, and fiddled with his camera like nothing was happening. He heard the familiar sound of high-heeled boots jogging in his direction, and all but audibly groaned when he felt someone slide onto the bench next to him.
"Pookie, didn't you hear me when I called you?" Maureen nudged him with her elbow.
"Oh, you called me? I'm sorry, I must have been lost in thought."
"I called the loft but you weren't there! Roger told me you were shooting in the park, so I came here to see you!" Mark looked up at Maureen, his eyebrow raised. Maureen never "just came to see him". Even when they were dating, Maureen never "just wanted to see him". There was always something, some catch.
"What do you need, Mo?"
"What makes you think I needed anything? I just wanted to spend some time with you, Marky! We haven't spent any quality time in - "
"Maureen Johnson, stop right there and just tell me what you need."
"Aw, Pookie. How did you know?"
"The words 'quality time' are not in your vocabulary, Mo."
Maureen punched him on the arm slightly harder than a playful punch, but she smiled. "You know me too well, Marky."
"So, what is it?"
"Well Joanne and I had tickets to go see La Boheme, but Steve called and said they had an emergency down at the office. She had to go and now I don't have anyone to go with and I don't want to go alone and I know you kinda like the opera and I don't want the ticket to go to waste so ppllleeaaasseeee Pookie, come with me! Please?" Maureen widened her eyes and stuck out her bottom lip, perfecting her pout. Mark could hear the whiplashes in the background.
"Alright, Mo, I'll go with you but- "
"YAY!" Maureen pounced on Mark and threw her arms around his neck. "Thank you Pookie!"
"You didn't let me finish. I don't have anything to wear to an opera, Mo."
"Oh that's okay! You can borrow something of Joanne's! You guys are about the same size, she's got a nice tux in the closet from the ti..."
Mark groaned. He was going to the opera with his lesbian ex-girlfriend wearing her girlfriend's tux. This was going to be fun.
They were walking toward the theatre, Maureen in one of her more tasteful little black dresses, and Mark in a black tux. Maureen was right; he and Joanne were about the same size. He just hoped no one would bother to notice his feet. While they were the same clothing size, Joanne's feet were smaller than his. It's a good thing his sneakers were black, they were slightly less noticeable.
"Marky, you're not bringing that, are you?" Maureen looked down at his camera.
"Why not? I'm not going to film the opera, Mo. I know better than that."
"Because cameras are not accessories, Marky. Come on." Maureen dragged him away from the direction they were supposed to be going.
"Uh, Mo, the theatre's that wa-"
"I know, but we still have some time so we're gonna stop at the loft so you can drop off your baby and make sure it's safe."
Mark sighed, but let himself be dragged. There was no fighting Maureen when she wanted something done. Last time he tried his shin hurt for days.
When they finally reached the loft door Mark was gasping for air. Maureen dragged him up the stairs full speed, muttering about his camera the entire time.
"Hurry up and tuck that thing in, I don't want to be late."
Mark slid open the loft door and balloons floated out into the hallway. Balloons?
When the seemingly hundreds of balloons finally moved themselves from his line of sight, Mark stopped dead in his tracks. The loft had been completely rearranged. What little furniture they had was pushed against the far right wall. The table was set up in the corner of the room with snacks on it and a large bowl of punch in the middle. There were balloons everywhere: on the floor, floating on the ceiling, and sporadically taped on the walls and doorframes. Over the table on the window hung a spray painted sign "Loft High Prom, Class of 1990."
Angel and Collins stood hand in hand near the table. Collins wore a plain black suit, and white tie, which he accented with a white skullcap. Angel sported a pink strapless floor length gown. The bottom of the dress flowed out and ended in an array of sequins, and underneath she wore pink stilettos that would surely make any woman walk carefully (Angel walked perfectly). Maureen ran over to Joanne, who was wearing something that was painfully similar to what Mark had on. Benny, who was over chatting with Collins and Angel, wore a navy blue three-piece suit, and was accompanied by the dancer Mimi from downstairs, who had on a black lacy dress that ended a few inches above her knee. Mark scanned the room for the one person he didn't see, but stopped when he felt a strong pair of arms wrap around him from behind.
Mark tuned around, and his breath caught in his chest at the sight of Roger. He was wearing a black tux with a black cumber bum and black tie (which was slightly loose, Roger could never handle ties). His hair was gelled into small spikes and dark kohl eyeliner lined his eyes, making the already stunningly green eyes even greener. Even in a tux, Roger screamed rock. He also screamed some other things that made Mark blush to think of.
"Mark Cohen, will you be my date for the prom?"
Mark half laughed half sighed and took Roger's hand, looking into the songwriter's eyes. "Roger, this is-"
"Mark Cohen, will you be my date for the prom?"
Mark, realizing he was going to have to play along, nodded. "I thought you'd never ask."
The night was filled with dancing (Joanne had supplied the music), snacks, and conversation. Somewhere during the course of the evening Collins yelled, "someone spiked the punch!" and ran into the kitchen to dispose of the empty bottles under his jacket.
One by one the couples stumbled out of the loft, kissing and hugging Mark and Roger sloppily as they left.
"Weeee have to do this again soon!" Maureen hung over Mark's shoulder. "Heehee, opera. I gotchoo goooood!" She stumbled into Joanne's arms and they exited the loft unable to keep their lips off of each other.
Everyone had left. The only two remaining members of the Loft High Class of 1990 were Mark and Roger. They swayed in the middle of the "dance floor", moving slightly out of rhythm with the music. Roger gazed into Mark's eyes and sing-slurred along with the music.
"I feel wonderful because I see the love light in your eyes. And the wonder of it all
is that you just don't realize how much I love you."
When the song was over both men moved to the couch that was pushed against the wall.Mark pushed Roger back and he fell over the arm onto the cushions with a soft bounce. Roger looked up at hisfilmmaker. Mark's eyes were clouded anddark with want, yet theystill held all the love in the world.Mark crawled on top of Roger and caught the songwriter's lips with his own. Mark had forgotten all about high school, about Nanette, and about rejection. The night was perfect, amazing, the best night he'd had in years, and Mark wanted to let Roger know how he felt with one kiss, he wanted to make sure Roger knew how he felt. He poured all of his energy into it, moving his hand to the back of Roger's neck to pull them closer. Their tongues entwined and their bodies seemed to meld together. Roger moaned into Mark's mouth and moved against the filmmaker.
This kiss broke and the two men lay panting on the couch, Mark's head on Roger's chest.
Mark closed his eyes and listened to the strong, fast paced beat of his lover's heart. "I love you," he whispered.
Roger pulled Mark up so they were eye level. "I love you too."
They lay on the couch in each other's arms for a little while longer.
"What now?" Mark asked, breaking the silence.
"Now." Roger smirked, "comes the best part of prom." He kissed Mark like a starving man would eat a meal, hungry for the taste of Mark's lips and for the feeling of Mark moving agasint him. He moved his lips to Mark's ear and breathed against it, sending shivers down Mark's spine. His voice was low and rough. "The after prom sex."
Hours later they lay spent in each other's arms in Mark's bed. Roger looked down at the filmmaker and smiled weakly, every inch of him exhausted with pleasure.
"That Nancy girl has no clue what she's missing."