Notes: Hi. I'm not dead, I promise. Sorry this took forever.
Disclaimer: I don't own Rent.
For Roger, high school was everything wonderful that he could imagine. Except for one thing. He still didn't have a girlfriend. While Mark was more excited about joining the art club and the varied electives, Roger joined the school band and sought out a girl.
Over the summer, every awkward thirteen year old girl from grade school had discovered make up and fashion magazines. They had changed enough even for Mark to notice and enough to attract almost all of Roger's attention.
Three weeks into his high school career, Roger slumped against Mark's neighboring locker as his best friend packed his books. When Mark didn't look up at the loud noise of Roger's body making contact with the locker, he let out a dramatic sigh for emphasis.
This time, Mark looked up. "What's wrong with you?"
"The freshmen dance is in two weeks and I still don't have a date or a girlfriend."
"Have you actually asked anyone yet?"
Roger opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Mark was right; he was too shy to actually ask a girl out. "Do you have a date?"
Mark shook his head. "Nah. I was thinking of asking Nanette, since we, you know, bonded over tango lessons."
"Aww someone's got a crush!" Roger taunted.
"No!" Mark cried defensively. "We'd being going as friends. I just…" he paused. "I just don't know how to ask her."
Roger looked around, spying two familiar faces from grade school. "Watch and learn." He made his way toward them.
"Whoa, wait," Mark grabbed his arm. "I thought you hated her."
"That was third grade, Mark," Roger rolled his eyes. "And besides, she's hot now."
Mark rolled his eyes, but watched his friend go over toward Maureen Johnson and her friend April Ericcson. He stood far enough to not look obvious, but close enough to hear everything.
"Hey," Roger leaned against the locker next to Maureen's, flashing a smile.
"Oh, hi. Roger right?"
"Mm, yep that's me." He pretended that his ego wasn't shot to the ground. "I was wondering if you wanted to go to the dance with me?"
"Actually, I kind of wanted to go with someone else…" she looked at the ground awkwardly.
She looked over at Mark, who's eyes quickly diverted towards the ground. "Hey Mark?"
He looked up, making eye contact with Maureen.
"Do you want to go to that dance with me?"
Mark's eyes widened behind his black glasses. He began nodding, barely managing a yes as his brain tried to comprehend that such a pretty and popular girl would look his way.
"Great, I was really hoping we could go together," she walked over toward him. She scrawled something onto a piece of paper from the notebook in her hand and handed it to Mark. "Call me, okay?" Turning to Roger, she said, "I'm really sorry Rog, but I already have a date."
"Nah, it's fine," he looked away. "I could have take any girl I wanted." He walked away, leaving behind a bewildered Mark and the two girls.
"That was smooth," Mark teased as the boys sat down for lunch later that day.
Roger glared at him. "I could have any girl I wanted. Besides, I didn't really want to take Maureen. I was just using her as an example."
"Right," Mark replied. "It was an excellent example. I learned a lot."
Mark laughed and emptied the contents of his brown paper bag onto the table. He separated his cheese sandwich, apple juice, and his snack of Goldfish crackers and cream cheese on the table.
"Are you really going to eat that together?"
"What?" Mark quickly dipped a Goldfish into the cream cheese and tossed it in his mouth.
"That. Eww." Roger crinkled his nose in disgust.
"Have you ever tried it?" Mark asked.
Roger shook his head.
"Then, obviously, you have no idea what it tastes like and how wonderful it is."
Rolling his eyes, he responded, "Right. I have to go… study." He stood up and left the cafeteria.
Mark watched him leave quizzically, wondering what Roger was up to. Roger never studied.
Before long, only a week was left until the big dance. Mark had recently been informed that Maureen's dress was red and white and he was debating on what color corsage to get her.
"Can you just shut up about all of this?" Roger snapped.
"What? Just pick one: red or white."
"No, this stupid dance." Roger crossed his arms and frowned.
"Do you have a date yet?"
Roger was silent.
"No," he muttered.
"You could ask Maureen's friend. She doesn't have a date yet."
"April. You know, the girl with the red hair."
"What? She's cute."
"Well, yeah, I mean, if you're into red hair and all."
"Hey!" Mark cried. "I was a redhead when I was a baby. Then I turned blond."
Roger sighed. "Are you sure she doesn't have a date and she'll say yes?"
"I think she's just as desperate as you are."
"I am not desperate."
"Whatever you say." Mark couldn't help but laugh as Roger stormed off in search of April.
The night of the dance had finally arrived. During the school day, the entire freshmen class was bursting with excitement. The upperclassmen sneered at them, knowing through experience that the dance really wasn't that much fun.
Mr. Cohen had offered to drive the two couples to the dance in his large van, or what Roger dubbed The Loser Cruiser.
In the end, Mark went with the red corsage, which Maureen fawned over as he awkwardly slipped it over her wrist. Roger had also bought a red corsage for April. It was closer to pinkish-red and clashed with her red hair and green dress.
The cafeteria had been transformed into a beautiful undersea world.
"Wow, April," Maureen commented with a giggle, "with your pretty dress and red hair, you almost look like Ariel."
April smiled and spun around; the skirt of billowing green dress flowed around her legs. "Thanks."
"Actually, you kind of reminded me of a Christmas tree," Roger remarked. April's smile faded and Maureen's giggling stopped.
"Uh, wanna sit down?" Mark broke the awkward silence before it started.
The group nodded in agreement and shuffled over to an empty table with bowls of pretzels and chips on each one. After twenty minutes of listening to Roger's semi-funny jokes, a slow song came on.
"Marky, we should dance!" Maureen grabbed his hand and dragged him onto the dance floor.
Once they were gone, an awkward silence fell over the table. Roger reached into a bowl of pretzels and tossed a few in the air. All of them missed his mouth.
Midway through the slow song, April asked, "Did you want to ask me something?"
Roger looked at her quizzically. "No, I don't think so."
"Oh," she said. April tapped her fingers on the table.
"Look at all those losers out there dancing," Roger observed.
"I know," she replied sarcastically. "Who goes to a dance to dance?"
"Only losers. Hey, where are you going?" Roger asked when he noticed April starting to stand up.
"I'm going to dance." She walked away from the table, leaving Roger alone.
"Why are you so happy?" Roger asked when the boys were back at Mark's house.
"Tonight was really fun. Why? Didn't you have fun?"
"Pfft. No. Dances aren't fun unless you hook up or something."
Mark didn't answer.
"You kissed Maureen!" Roger cried loudly. Too loudly for Mark's liking.
"Jealous?" Mark grinned.
Roger's face contorted. "No! I've kissed plenty of girls."
"Oh yeah? Who?"
Roger was silent. "Well…"
Mark grinned. "I got my first kiss before you." He was almost proud of himself. He never expected to be more experienced than Roger, especially in this area.
"Well, what's it like?" Roger asked sheepishly.
Mark grinned wickedly. "Find out for yourself."
"Oh come on!"
"No. It's… personal." Mark failed to mention how awkward it was, but he didn't really want Roger to know about his fumbling.
Roger sighed. "Now you have a girlfriend so you won't want to hang out with me."
"What? Maureen isn't my girlfriend. I don't really like her that way."
"And besides, even if she was my girlfriend, I would still want to hang out with you."
"Yeah. I'd rather have a best friend than a girlfriend any day."
Roger smiled. "Thanks Marky." He wrapped the smaller boy in a hug.
"Hey, did you want to go down to the dark room with me later tomorrow to pick up a few pictures?"
"I can't," Roger replied. "I have to go home first thing. My mom said she had something important to tell me. I think it's about that guy she's been dating."
"Oh. We could go later. There's some pictures I thought you'd like."
"Yeah sure. I'll come over as soon as my mom tells me whatever it is she wants to tell me."
"Knowing you, you'll be gone ten minutes."
"Knowing what my mom usually has to tell me, it'll be the longest ten minutes of my life."
They both laughed. "You'll miss me. That's why the ten minutes will be so long."
Roger laughed. "It'll be unbearable."
And with that, the boys went to sleep with the anticipation of Mark's photography and Roger's mom's big news.