December 31st, 11:54 PM Eastern Standard Time
"I said no."
"Why are you making such a big deal over one tiny thing?"
"I'm not making a deal. I'm just not going to."
"But Mark, it's tradition."
"I don't care."
"You can't just ignore tradition."
"We'll have bad luck all year."
"I've never had good luck, why change the status quo?"
"When have I ever asked you for anything?"
"You mean besidesdoing theshopping, and picking up your prescriptions and giving messages to Mimi and-"
"Shut up. The point is, I'm asking you for something now, and you're letting me down."
"Don't even try guilt-tripping me, it won't work."
"Yeah…so? C'mon, I'm so wasted I probably won't even remember."
"But I'll remember. I don't care what argument you use, Roger, I am not going to kiss you."
Roger let the hand holding his nearly-empty champagne bottle drop against his leg in exasperation. He sighed in a very put-upon manner and pouted, but Mark was not going to give in. He had an iron will. No matter how insistent Roger was, he was not about to kiss his roommate, not even for tradition's sake.
It was their first New Year's Eve alone together for a long time. Last year had been the fullest year, with Angel and Mimi and Joanne joining their circle. In previous years, April had been there too. But even in the years before April, there had always been Maureen, Benny and Collins to liven up the evening and keep things bright. But Angel and April were dead, and who knew where Benny was tonight.
Collins had abruptly left to wander again; the last New Year was still too fresh and painful for him. He didn't want to frolic in the streets without his Bond girl. Following a particularly vicious spat, Joanne had stormed off to work on a case in another state. Maureen had complained and sulked for about thirty seven hours before following her. Mimi had planned to spend the night with them, but plans had to be changed. The Cat Scratch owner had suddenly planned an 'All Girls, All Night' show, headlined by Mimi 'La Gatita' Marquez. She didn't want to work, but it was a sizeable paycheck, and expenses were, as always, high.
So Mark and Roger had wandered the streets alone. They could have gone to the Cat Scratch Club to catch the show, but Roger had decided firmly against it. He loved watching Mimi dance, but couldn't bear watching all the other men's eyes on her. Mimi understood and, Mark assumed from some of the more interesting sounds known to come from the floor below, she obliged him with private performances. So they walked in the cold with the other revelers, cheap coats all that was protecting them from the frigid New York winter. Champagne would have helped warm him up, Mark thought as he crossed his arms against the wind, but funds were low. The roommates had gone without nonessentials like coffee, heat and food for weeks to save up for a celebratory bottle. Said bottle was clutched in Roger's hand, almost drained, and Mark had yet to have a sip.
"If you don't kiss someone at midnight on New Year's, you'll have bad luck the whole year!"
"I am not kissing you, Roger, not even for luck!"
"Because…it's weird. You're my roommate."
"It's just a little brotherly love. It's one tiny little kiss. We're best friends." Mark sighed. Logic was obviously not going to work on Roger. He'd have to try a different method.
"What would Mimi think?"
"She wouldn't care. She knows we're like brothers. Mark, it's not like I'm asking you for anything big. Just one small kiss. No one even has to know." Mark bit his lip in reluctant thought. He supposed it wasn't really that bad. One quick kiss, and Roger would get off his back. He might even be able to snag some champagne. He sighed deeply.
"You swear you won't tell anyone?" Roger's eyes glinted in victory.
"Not a soul."
"Fine. One kiss. One tiny kiss."
"You got it." Roger grinned. As if on cue, the countdown began.
Mark looked around sharply, and dragged Roger away from the streetlamp, out of immediate sight.
Roger grinned maniacally. 'Ready?' he mouthed.
Mark rolled his eyes. 'Doubtful.'
Roger took a step closer.
Mark licked his lips nervously.
Mark swallowed hard.
Roger leaned in.
Mark squeezed his eyes shut and pursed his lips, wincing slightly.
Mark only had to wait a moment before Roger's lips touched his. It wasn't so bad, Mark supposed. With the shouts of 'Happy New Year!' all around to distract him, he could almost pretend he was just kissing a girl. The 'quick kiss' lingered, and Roger didn't seem about to pull away. Mark started to move back. He also started to say "okay," but he never got so far.
Roger took full of advantage of the opportunity. He brought up his free hand to brace Mark's head and keep him from going back any farther, then crashed forward into him, jamming his tongue into Mark's partially open mouth.
"Mmblpmmrml!" Mark exclaimed, eyes snapping open instantly. He struggled, but Roger held fast, bringing up his other hand to squeeze Mark even closer, the champagne bottle knocking against Mark's back. They fought for a few minutes, Roger continuing to kiss him enthusiastically, until Mark finally broke free. He wiped his mouth vigorously on his jacket sleeve. Roger was nearly doubled over with laughter.
"Oh god, your face!"
"What the fuck was that?"
"Happy New Year!"
"Roger! What if people saw us! What would they say!" Roger continued giggling, and wrapped his arm around Mark's shoulders, swaying slightly.
"'I always knew that the effeminate albino was just lying to himself, but the smoldering rockstar? I suppose any man with hair that great is just too fine to be straight.'" Mark wrenched out of Roger's grip and stormed forward, cheeks flushed a brilliant pink. "I gotta say, man, that was like kissing a dead fish. Except the fish is more responsive."
"Happy New Year, Mark!" Mark didn't look back. He was never going to look back. He didn't hear footsteps behind him. Roger's voice came again, quieter, not as self-assured. "Marky? I love you."
Mark stopped and looked at his feet. He took a deep breath, and looked back. Roger stood where they had parted, looking like a forlorn child…with a mostly drained bottle of champagne. Mark looked away for an instant and collected himself. He looked back and smiled slightly, raising his eyebrows in defeat. Roger grinned and jogged forward. He slung his arm around Mark again, and this time, Mark didn't try to get away. He reached over and pulled the champagne out of Roger's hand, and drained the last swallow. He smiled to himself, and dropped the empty bottle in a garbage can they passed.
"Yeah, Rog. I love you too. Happy New Year."
January 1st, 12:03 AM Eastern Standard Time