A/N: In honor of going to the Rent 10th Anniversary and being a nerd and standing at the red carpet and being an inch away from the OBC, this fic. 3 you all, thanks for commenting!

Disclaimer: I don't own Rent!

What Roger Couldn't Do

It was the smile of a man who rarely smiled genuinely, all wide and blushing and unexpected. It was a head tilted back and boyish giggles, sweet and charming. It was Mark, falling in love with a stranger, a little girl with wild red hair and hands that punctuate everything and but had a shy yet hilarious personality.

It was Roger, leaning in a doorway, watching his best friend, his brother, his soul mate, with a wry grin flirting on his own lips. His feet kept him planted where he was, and his body felt heavy in the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest and words at the back of his throat.

He reminded himself to not feel bad, to savor Mark's grins and pink-tinted cheeks and the look of adoration he held towards his little pixie-sized friend who was stealing his heart. He reminded himself that Mark deserved that blush, that feeling, that smile he was giving. It was a rare sight on his best friend, because his smiles were usually tight-lipped and self conscious. He knew Mark hated his slightly crooked teeth and childish chirp of a giggle.

The real grins, the real smiles - they are reserved for Roger, usually. Or Collins, who'd make it his day's goal to make Mark do his "little boy laugh". Sometimes Maureen got it too, when she toned down the crazy excitement that made Mark a bit nauseous and fell into a playful banter. Angel used to get that grin as well, but Angel could get anything out of anyone with a wink and a sarcastic quip.

But it was this little girl, this woman who was a mystery. She was magic, she came out of nowhere without explanation and Mark was gone, swept up in her charm and soft presence. He was in a whirlwind, on the teetering edge of like, lust and love, and Roger recognized it. He recognized it because he'd gone through the same thing when he'd met April, and later, Mimi. He recognized the happiness and excitement that was about meeting and falling in love with someone new. He knew that excitement would fade, would turn into a comfortable lazy perfection, and Mark would be happy.

It was Roger, standing in that doorway, realizing that Mark was finally truly content. He had his best friends, a new love, and his art. He had a soft comfortable world right now, where he knew Roger was with Mimi and in love, where he knew Collins was just happy to be alive, to savor Angel's impact, that Benny was beginning to wriggle back into their lives, that Maureen and Joanne, though iffy at times, were very much content with one another and that they were meeting new people everyday. That they'd all fallen into a cradle of comfort and love and contentment that allowed Mark's boyish grin and chirpy giggle to escape easier.

And it was Roger, sliding his hand up his arm, underneath the sleeve of his tee-shirt and running a finger gingerly over the lesion that had formed there recently. It was Roger, sliding his eyes closed against the sound of the doctor's words echoing in his head ("It's Kaposi Sarcoma. It's a cancer that has unfortunately already done extensive damage to your lungs, Roger…"). It was Roger, unable to move from his doorway, from that spot, to interrupt that wonderful laugh. That wonderful smile.

It taken him a lot to finally get up out of bed, to convince himself that telling Mark was better sooner than later. However, once he'd stepped into the doorway and seen Mark's angel (Angel, maybe. Like Collins' Angel) and seen that smile, heard that giggle, he was unable to do it. Unable to interrupt to tell him news like this.

Roger had always considered himself bearer of bad news. He'd gotten himself into drugs, pulled a beautiful girl down with him through the gutters. He'd watched her deteriorate away until she took her own life. He got HIV, he went through withdrawal. He fell in love with another girl who was crawling through the trenches and just keeping her head above treacherous waters.

And he'd always been the one who'd told each of these, who had caused Mark's smile to fade over the years.

"Roger?" A soft voice startled him, and he yanked his hand away from his tainted skin, crashing his gaze to Mark's. Worried, warm mossy green meeting cool lake water blue. A stretched, fake smile slipped onto Roger's face.

"Hey bro," He replied, then looked at the redheaded girl with the curious green eyes; with the kind smile.

"You remember Kate, right?" Soft, still with that crooked toothed grin that Roger loved seeing. Roger nodded.

"Yes, of course. Hey, Kate." He replied, taking a deep breath and swallowing the prick of sadness in his chest.

This was Roger, knowing that with this discovery, this confirmation, that it was the beginning of the end. That he wouldn't get to see his best friend, his soul mate, his angel, marry this beautiful girl with the sweet, funny personality. He wouldn't be the best man at his wedding, wouldn't be the godfather of their first child.

All because of a couple of stupid mistakes and the giving into a reckless lifestyle.

For now, though, Roger couldn't allow that smile to fade. Not yet, not when it was this beautiful. Instead he'd wait. He'd wait for another time, another place, when it was just the two of them, when he'd be able to lean into Mark's hug and cry.

When he was sure that Kate could save Mark in the end, like Mark had always saved him.

For now, Roger had Mimi and his secret. He had the contentment of knowing he'd allowed Mark to smile that goofy grin and laugh that boyish giggle, at least for now.