Pairing: None. Teen!Mark/Roger friendship.
Notes: Written for speedrent, challenge 131.
Disclaimer: Rent is not mine. I only own the DVD, but that DVD is all mine.

Roger didn't know many things, but one thing he did know was that Mark couldn't spell for shit.

The seventeen-year-old might be bright - top of his class, even - but couldn't manage to string together a single sentence without at least one spelling error. And Roger should know. He'd been spelling bee champ three years in a row back in grammar school.

So, yep, Roger didn't know much, but he knew how to spell.

"Mark, you can't leave this note. If you're going to tell your parents why you're running away, you need to at least spell suffocating right."

Mark glared at him. "I'm running away, Roger, not writing an English paper. Why the hell should spelling matter?"

"Because if they show this to the cops - which knowing your mother, they will of course - the cops will think you're an idiot who can't spell."

"Idiot that can't spell? I'm getting this from the guy who wants to drop out of high school and play in a band forever?"

"So?" Roger countered. "I need to be able to write lyrics, don't I?"

Mark just rolled his eyes. "Roger, who cares what the cops think. Who cares what my parents think. We're going to New York City, aren't we?"

Roger grinned. "Yeah. Good-bye Scarsdale."

"Good-bye," Mark agreed, but his hand lingered at the kitchen counter a minute. "Do you really think I should fix it?"

"Nah. You're right. Who gives a fuck? I need to wash my brain of this school crap."

Mark only stared down at what he'd written. "But you're smart, Rog. You shouldn't wash your brain of anything." He bit his lip. "My parents will freak."

"So will mine. Isn't that part of the plan?"

"I suppose..." Mark sounded hesitant. Fuck. Roger knew then and there they weren't going to New York City. Not right this moment, at least. He let the duffle bag he'd been holding fall to the floor with a soft plop.

"Six more months and we graduate," Mark continued. "And we'll both be eighteen and-"

"You don't want to go anymore, do you?"

"Of course I want to go," Mark defended. " I just..." He sighed. "How do you spell suffocating, anyway?"

Roger held back a grin. "First off it's S-U, not S-A. And there are two Fs."

Mark picked up the pencil and started erasing. "S-U? Two Fs? No way."

"Way. Didn't you learn anything from Mrs. Peters in seventh grade?"

Mark carefully rewrote the word. "I never liked how she made us stand up and spell words in front of the whole class." He laid the pencil back down. "At eighteen, no one can stop us, you know."

"I know," Roger said. "Eighteen is cool."

"I want to go," Mark said, though Roger wasn't sure exactly who he was trying to convince. Roger sure as hell didn't need convincing. Roger wanted nothing more than to get away from suburbia and into the real music scene. Places where rock wasn't a four-letter word.

His parents were probably just getting back from their dinner out. He wondered if his mother had found his note and had her moment of panic. Even if he went nowhere, that alone would be worth it.

"Of course you do," Roger told him, though he wasn't sure if he believed it. He and Mark had been best friends since they were five. Roger knew Mark better than anyone. Knew that even though Mark wanted a different life than what his parents had planned for him, part of him also still wanted their approval. Roger was actually surprised Mark had made it this far.

No, Roger knew the only place Mark would be heading after his eighteenth birthday would be Rhode Island and Brown, just where his parents wanted him to go.

Mark needed to loosen up. Have fun. Eventually get over the fact that being a disappointment wasn't such a big deal.

He reached across the countertop and grabbed the note, crumpling it into a little ball. "Forget it. There's a party across town. They got booze and hot girls and I got car keys."

"But what about your note...?" Mark looked worried.

Roger just laughed and patted his friend on the back. "Fuck it. It'll freak my mom. She'll get over it." He tossed Mark's note into the trash. "Come on."

There was hesitation in Mark's eyes but another thing Roger knew was it never too much to get Mark to cave on something like this. "That girl, Maureen, you've been drooling over will be there."

Mark's eyes lit up. "Really? Okay."

Ten minutes later, New York City was forgotten. Mark wasn't ready and for his sake, Roger would stick around. Make the rest of his senior year something to remember before he took off.

Or, at the very least, he could teach his best friend how to spell.