A/N: Wow, I'm just pumping out the stories left and right here. This has been one that's been floating around in my head for a while now, and I wanted to start it while I was on Spring Break so that I could get a couple of chapters up quickly before I start school again. I based this story off of Ecclesiastes 3, the passges that are like "...a time to be born, a time to die; a time to laugh, and a time to weep..." and so on and so forth. If religion isn't your thing, you can say that this story was derived from the song "Turn, Turn, Turn" by The Byrds. Each chapter will have one of the themes and its opposite, like this one is War/Peace. Hope I didn't confuse you too much, and enjoy!
A time of war...
Mark cringed at the sound of glass shattering against too-thin walls, resting his head in his hands. He hated that sound; no matter how many times he'd heard it, he still couldn't get used to it. Waiting impatiently for the aspirin he'd taken to kick in, he massaged his temples with long fingers, rough with small cuts and calluses.
"Let me OUT!"
Turning to lie down flat along the length of the couch, Mark closed his eyes, wondering briefly what could have made that noise. The glass of milk he'd left outside of Roger's door yesterday afternoon, perhaps? It had been one of Roger's blue days, as Mark liked to categorize it. The guitarist had spent the entire day in bed, whimpering and shaking and mumbling things Mark couldn't understand. Mark remembered that Roger used to get up in the middle of the night and drink a glass of milk when he couldn't sleep, when he was restless and couldn't relax.
"Fuck! Let me OUT, Mark! LET….ME….OUT!"
Today was definitely a red day, Mark decided as he brought an arm over to cover his eyes. The pale candlelight that lit the room was even too much for his oncoming migraine. Funny, he thought, that Roger used to be concerned about his migraines. Now he was causing them.
"Mark! You can't DO this to me! You CAN'T! It's not RIGHT!"
Maybe it had been the glass from a picture frame. But which picture? Mark mentally scanned Roger's room. There was the picture of Collins, Roger, and him at Christmas that Maureen had taken, the one with the mistletoe, the red bow, and the ornament hanging from Mark's glasses……there was the one of Roger at his high schoolgraduation, with his mom and his little sister…..oh, there was the one of April and Roger outside of CBGB's. That might explain it.
"I HATE you! I fuckin' HATE you for doing this! I never said I wanted this! You can't FORCE me to do this!"
"You did say you wanted this," Mark mumbled, almost inaudibly, to no one in particular. He wanted to remind Roger of that, to tell him the exact date and time that he had spoken the words because he remembered. However, he didn't try to reason with Roger on a red day. He just had to wait it out. Judging from the tone of Roger's voice and the way his insults were becoming repetitive, Mark reasoned that Roger had another twenty minutes before he ran out of steam. This was becoming so routine….
"I hate you, Mark! You don't understand! If you REALLY were my friend, you'd understand! You'd UNDERSTAND! Why don't you understand!"
There they were, the first signs of pleading. Mark hated it when Roger begged him, pleaded with him. He'd rather have an angry Roger throwing a mug at his head than a weak and shaking Roger asking tearfully for just one more hit, Mark, I swear.
However, Mark could control a pleading Roger. He could take a pleading Roger into his arms and try his best to stop the shaking with soft whispers, the sweating with damp cloths, the vomiting with smooth touches. He knew he couldn't stop these things, but he could try. Trying was better than lying on a couch doing nothing.
He'd stopped trying with angry Roger. He was aware that Roger could beat the shit out of him when he was desperate for a hit (hell, Roger could probably beat the shit out him while he was half asleep), but that hadn't stopped him. What stopped him was the fact that when he'd been careless and left his camera in Roger's room, he'd barged in to find Roger mere seconds away from sending it into a wall.
True, Roger had realized what he'd been about to do. He'd returned the camera to Mark's safekeeping and had spent the rest of the day curled up on his mattress in tears (Mark had noticed that withdrawal had trigged Roger's already whirlwind emotions to go completely haywire). Mark realized, though, that if this drug could drive Roger to even almost ruin something that Mark centered his entire life around, there would be no reasoning with him.
Mark cringed again as something else crashed against the wall. He lifted his head, double checking that his camera was sitting securely on the window ledge. It was. There was a loud thud against the door. Mark silently begged anyone willing to listen that the metal table would be enough to keep Roger in.
Realizing that he'd subconsciously tuned out Roger's yelling, Mark sat up, dragging himself to sit on the floor next to Roger's door.
"...you don't know what its like, you don't know, you don't know, you don't know. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts so fuckin' much, you can't even imagine. You don't even know, you can't understand, why don't you understand, why can't you just please let me out? Please, Mark, please. Don't keep me in here by myself, don't, don't do this, don't leave me here, don't leave me, don't….
Mark slowly pulled himself to his feet, ignoring the way his eyes watered as a result of the throbbing pain in his head. He ignored the way his throat constricted at the sudden strain of standing, the way his chest ached as he pushed the table out of the way.
He cursed his bad knees as they shook and brought him sinking against the door, to the ground. He never could figure out why it hurt so much every time. Every time Roger waged this war on him, this mental battle. Attacking insults, defensive pleas, mind games and physical bruises and the scarring and the aching….
Mark leaned his ear against the door, hearing Roger's heavy breathing on the other side. He could tell Roger was pressed up against the door as well. He could almost feel the other's heartbeat, pulsing through his veins, pounding in his head and in his ears.
"Roger?" Mark was surprised at the sound of his own voice. Since when had he sounded so dry, so cracked and weak?
"Uh huh." As if it would be anyone else. He sounded completely out of breath and exhausted.
"Do you want some tea? Are you feeling up to eating?"
There was a moment of silence, where Mark figured that Roger was shaking his head, not realizing that Mark couldn't see him. "No."
"What do you want then?" As if he didn't know.
"Just one more, Mark. I can't do this. Just one more."
"Alright, then," Mark said, standing and wiping his eyes. Damn migraines. "I'll get you some milk."
...and a time of peace.
Roger plucked random notes on his guitar, resisting the urge to cringe at how out of tune they sounded. He had been sitting in the same position for three hours, with his guitar resting in his lap, his back resting against the armrest of the couch, and his legs resting against Mark's (whose were resting against the back of the couch), and nothing but sour notes and a blank void in his mind had come of it.
With a loud and overdramatic sigh, he set his guitar gingerly on the floor, reaching out to grab his mug of coffee in the process. He closed both hands around it, savoring the warmth on his fingers and his palms, before taking a drink. Pulling the mug away from his mouth, he sighed again, staring into the black liquid pensively for a moment before setting the cup back on the ground. He lifted his guitar and played another note. A dissonant twang echoed in response. Another sigh followed.
"For the sake of all that is good, Roger, stop sighing. It's the coffee, anyway."
Roger looked up from his guitar at Mark, who was sitting opposite of him, still buried within the pages of the book that Collins' had leant him a few days ago. Mark hadn't said a word or moved a muscle once in the past three hours, save the time he ventured into his room to get the blanket that he'd draped over both of their legs.
"What?" Roger asked, deigning to ignore Mark's first comment.
"That's what's wrong," Mark said, his voice monotone as he refused to lift his eyes from the yellowing pages. "The coffee's too black."
Roger reached out for his coffee mug and brought it up to his lips again, taking a mouthful and letting it soak into his taste buds. As he swallowed, a tangy bitterness lingered at the back of his throat. He nodded, placing the mug back down on the ground.
"Told you," Mark said, still not looking up. Roger rolled his eyes.
"I though you liked dark coffee."
"I do. You don't."
Roger couldn't deny this fact as he rested his head against the back of the couch. He left the guitar sitting in his lap, figuring it was a lost cause. His mind was a blur, anyway, too full of jumbled thoughts and tension. There were no song lyrics up there at the moment, no inspiration, no spark. Just memories….
Blinking, Roger noticed that Mark was looking at him with a questioning gaze, his head turned slightly to the side. He realized he must have zoned out, and felt a slight blush rise to his cheeks.
"Nothing," he mumbled, scratching the back of his neck. "Just thinking."
"Oh no," Mark said, cracking the first smile Roger had seen from him all night. "That's never good."
Roger just shook his head, chuckling a little before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.
"Two heads are better than one," Mark's voice said. Roger heard the sound of a book shutting. "Care to share?"
Opening his eyes, Roger saw that Mark was leaning up, arms resting against bended knees. "Just, you know, stuff."
"Well is that all?" Mark asked sarcastically, laughing. "Because I can work with that."
Roger shrugged, the smile no longer on his face. They'd been through this so many times, he couldn't believe he was bringing it up again. "Just, past stuff. Stuff….I'm sorry for."
Mark's smile disappeared as well. He picked the book back up, searching for the page he'd been on. He talked without looking at Roger again. "We've been over this, Roger. There's nothing to be sorry for."
"I know," Roger said, meaning he knew they'd been over this, not that there was nothing to be sorry for. Because there was. A lot, actually. "I can't help it."
"You never used to apologize for anything," Mark said, shaking his head into his book. Roger noticed that his eyes weren't moving, weren't following the words on the page. "Now I can't get you to stop."
"Yeah, well…." Roger didn't want to finish the sentence, because he knew I don't have much time to apologize for anything anymore wouldn't go over well. He stared down at his hands, picking at his nails. "I just don't know why…."
"I told you. There's nothing to forgive."
Roger tried to whisper sure there is under his breath, but it got caught in his throat, leaving only a nonsensical mumble to escape his lips.
"Fine," Mark sighed, closing his book and tossing it onto the ground next to Roger's coffee. "I forgive you. For everything that you think you're guilty of, for everything that you think you've done, I forgive you. Is that better? Are you happy now?"
"Sure," Roger almost whispered, still staring determinedly at his fingers. "If you meant it."
What Roger expected was Mark to sigh and to pick his book back up, grumbling about how they weren't five years old anymore and how Roger just wouldn't believe him and how it was getting old. What he got was Mark, moving closer to him on the couch, taking his face between his hands and forcing their eyes to meet. Bright blue on dark green, intense and truthful.
"Roger Davis, I forgive you. I accept your apology, and I forgive you for everything."
Roger couldn't do anything but nod, staring at Mark and letting his words soak into him, leaving, not a bitter aftertaste, but a sweet, honey-like coating. Mark smiled then, releasing Roger's face and standing, picking up the mug of coffee. He disappeared out of sight, and Roger heard the sounds of a refrigerator door and a carton of milk opening.
A minute later, Mark sat back down on the couch, handing Roger his mug and thumbing through the pages of his book again. Roger looked into the mug, noticing the liquid was no longer dark black, but rather, a lighter shade of brown, and took a drink. The coffee flowed through his mouth and throat smoothly, leaving nothing but a sweet taste on his tongue. It was pure and utter peaceful bliss.
Picking up his guitar, Roger spared one more glaceat Mark before plucking out the opening notes of Musetta's Waltz. A melodic and tuned buzz filled his ears. He smiled and continued to play.
Hope you liked. Next chapter: Love/Hate