Pairing/characters: Mark, with Maureen and Joanne.
Word Count: 1,229
A/N: Another one written for speedrent, challenge 138: where a RENT character takes a role in a musical.It also won first place :). As for the musical, I just couldn't resist, lol.
Disclaimer: Rent is not mine. I only own the DVD, but that DVD is all mine.

"This sucks," Mark muttered for what felt like the hundred time. "Totally, totally sucks."

He leaned back in his chair, listening to the telltale creak it made as it took the added strain. A glance up at a clock in the distance revealed it was only a quarter after seven. He still had nearly three hours to get through before he could head back to the loft.

Three fucking hours. He sighed and reached out to push a button before resting his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. Why was he here again, he asked himself, doing a job that a chimp with good timing could do?

Money. Oh yeah. Green stuff that paid for heat. And Rent. And AZT.

The important things of life.

So he let out another sigh as his eyes flickered briefly up to the action one hundred feet in front of him.

"You're off key! Again! Damnit, stop the music!"

There was the sound of papers falling and Mark just rolled his eyes. Bad theater was bad theater, no matter how well you lit it. Which was just what he was doing. Lighting it.

Well, technically he was only the board op. The show had been designed by a man, who in Mark's opinion, had little talent or vision and left large dark patches on stage during the focus session yesterday. When Mark had opened his mouth to protest, all he earned was a demonic glare.

Fine. Let the show look like crap. He didn't care. It wasn't his show and all he wanted was the paycheck. Plus, who thought a musical about a man-eating plant was ever a good idea?

"We open in three fucking weeks! Christ!"

The director had a short fuse, Mark had learned, and a loud voice that was nearly impossible to tune out. He needed aspirin and wondered if there was any in loft.

"That's it!"

Of course there won't be any aspirin in the loft, Mark. You can barely afford food and AZT.

"You're fired!"

Maybe he could get some of those trial packages. Those were usually cheap.

"Wonderful, Morty! You just fired our star. Where the hell are we going to find someone else? You feel like refunding tickets?"

Crap. Refunding tickets meant he might be out of a paycheck. And that he'd wasted the last forty hours of his life watching a musical he couldn't believe people actually paid to see in the first place.

"Anyone of the street would be better than that guy!"

If he didn't have this money, he'd need to find something else to make ends meet. Maybe he could go back to Alexi for just one or two segments. He wouldn't be selling his soul.

"Anyone, huh? Well, how about…"

Footsteps. Ones that were coming closer. He should bolt now. Buzzline would be way better then…

"Kid, you sing?"

Mark had a feeling he just sold his soul to theater instead.


The stage was a scary, scary place. Mark's one attempt to perform was when he was third grade and Mrs. Walters assigned him the role of Michael in the high school's production of Peter Pan.

He'd frozen, nearly thrown up, and had to be gently led off stage during the first performance.

Why the hell did anyone think he could do this now? They'd made him sing, told him he had a nice voice. That was wrong. Roger had a nice voice. Roger was a musician. Maureen had a nice voice. Maureen was an actress. He didn't have a nice voice. He was a fucking filmmaker.

That's when they had told him that the non-equity job paid two-fifty a week.

Now that - that was probably the only thing that could have gotten him on that stage. That meant food, AZT, rent, electricity, film. Oh yeah. He'd do it.

But he wouldn't tell a soul. Not one damn soul.

He went out on that stage, stared straight into the lights and tried not to throw up. He could do this. He could make a fool out of himself. After all, didn't he do it in public before? Danced on a table or two to celebrate bohemia?

He made it through Act I. Made it through Act II. Got himself and his love interest eaten by a plant in the end. Horrible ending for a musical, he knew, especially when its moral was contained in a song called "Don't Feed the Plants." But he still managed to get through the final bows.

The audience loved it. He ran into the wings the very first second he could. He braced himself against one of the make-up counters and took deep breaths.

It was over. Only fifteen more performances to go.


Oh no. No way. He hadn't told a soul, he hadn't slipped, how the hell…?

Maureen pounced on him, enveloping him in one of the tightest hugs he'd ever received. A few feet away stood Joanne, her eyebrows slightly raised.

"Maureen," he managed as he untangled himself from her arms, "Joanne. What are you doing here?"

"Seeing theatre, of course!" Maureen answered, as though the answer was obvious. "I love this show!"

Of course she did. Only Maureen could love a show that included an abusive dentist, a ditzy girl in heels, and a man-eating giant plant.

"Why didn't you tell us, baby? " Maureen continued. "Hey! Now we can go on auditions together!"

Mark was positive his eyes bugged completely out of his head. "Um, no."

"No," Maureen repeated and frowned. She turned to Joanne. "No?"

"He said no, Maureen," Joanne said, "You know exactly what that words means, despite the fact that you don't like hearing it. Mark, you were wonderful, by the way."

"Of course he was! Which is why he needs to go on auditions with me!" Maureen was starting to whine. "You spend too much time behind that camera, Marky."

He sighed and adjusted his glasses. Thankfully he'd been able to wear them on stage, or he'd really have fallen on his ass. "You like me behind the camera, Maureen. After all who'd film your protests if I wasn't behind my camera?"

"True." Maureen twirled a piece of hair absently with her fingers. "Wait until I tell Roger and Mimi about—"

"No!" was out of his mouth before she even finished her sentence. "Maureen, you can't!"

"You're silly," Maureen said. "Of course I can."

"Maureen," Joanne cautioned, giving Mark a smile. "Mark, how did you…?"

"Long story that ends with that fact that it pays and it means I don't have to work at Starbuck's. And after the next fifteen performances, I will never grace the stage again. Ever."

"Fifteen performances?" Maureen repeated. She smiled sweetly, but Mark knew that smile. It was anything but sweet. It was pure Maureen evil. The very same evil that dressed Mark as a S&M fantasy two Halloweens ago. "I just decided what I'm getting Mimi for her birthday next week."

"Maureen, please, no—" he started, but she was gone before he or Joanne could even try to stop her. Off to the tiny box office downstairs, Mark was sure, buying Roger, Mimi, hell, even Collins front row seats to the crappy musical that ended with him getting devoured by blood-thirsty plant.

Little Shop of Horrors, indeed. He was never ever going to hear the end of this. Roger was going to tease him forever.

"This sucks," he muttered. "Totally, totally sucks."