Disclaimer: I don't own Rent, Rent owns me.

A/N: Feedback is always, always appreciated.

When Roger Finally Asked

Against the backdrop of multi-colored lights, sweaty bodies and the smell of smoke and alcohol, his eyes hovered the crowd, taking in the heat and the music, body involuntarily swaying to the techno song booming over the speakers.

He was a regular fixture these days, and he turned heads. Two years ago, he would've stuck to the bar or the doorway, and would have to be dragged to the dance floor. Somewhere between loss of Best Friend #1 and Best Friend #2, though, he'd learned he needed to live, he needed to thrive.

He needed to stop being so fucking afraid.

So, there goes the ripped, baggy corduroys and teeshirts. The camera was left on the nightstand and the glasses traded in for contacts. Tight jeans and a collared button up shirt. Some kohl eyeliner and hair spiked to perfection, lust-glazed eyes flickering over and over and over and over.

Up against the wall of the club, grinding and moaning and lips and kisses, he fucking loved it. Here, he wasn't Mark Cohen, Documentary Filmmaker. Here, he was Mark Cohen, Cheekbones, Hips and Groin. His lips tasted like warm vanilla (a flavor, he learned, was something he naturally had. Not sure how, but he did) and he learned quickly he liked boys who had five o'clock shadows and earrings and bleached hair and girls with intoxicating smiles and dark eyeliner.

Against the cold cement, a rough hand down his pants, stroking him to climax, he bit his lip and rode it out, whoever was pressed up against him having no name, just pleasure attached to their bodies.

Here, he had control, he chose who he wanted to fuck and who wanted to fuck him. It had nothing to do with love. It was about being reckless (but safe - he wasn't fucking stupid) and enjoying life. Love? He'd go for it, one day. Soon, possibly. Right now, though, this was good. Perfect, good, safe. Girls, boys, anything in between. If they attracted him and were willing, they were good enough.

Said out loud, Mark would agree that sounded wanton, slutty and sort of disgusting, but old Mark? He never did things like that, never. Not pre-April, not post- Angel - and the only one night stand he'd ever truly had was Maureen - and well, that didn't end up being much of a one night stand.

Back home, he didn't hide it anymore. He'd come in, toss his keys on the metal table, and ignore Roger's eyes on him, on his unbuttoned shirt and unzipped jeans. He knows his eyeliner is smudged, eyes glazed and that he has a 'thoroughly fucked' expression on his face.

Roger never asked, Mark never answered.

The next morning would have regular conversation and cereal and stale toast. Mark would wear his baggy jeans and glasses and be Mark Cohen, Documentary Filmmaker. Roger would wear the wary expression he'd carried since Mimi had died, and be Roger Davis, Struggling Musician. They'd go their separate ways for the day, and reconvene for a dinner of Ramen noodles and leftover stale toast and laughter, until Mark would disappear into the bathroom for an hour and emerge a totally different person.

Roger never asked, Mark never answered.

When he'd leave, his boots making hollow echoing footsteps on the metal stairs, Mark would muse about what Roger's thoughts were like, seeing his meek, shy best friend echoing the style Roger himself used to wear during his stage days.

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The following Tuesday, Roger walked in on Mark, eyes closed and hand twisted in short curly hair. His eyes drifted from the top of the guy's head to Mark's expression of pleasure and nearly dropped his guitar.

Mark heard the fumble and his eyes flew open, a smirk against his lips as he came in the guy's mouth.

From that point on, he decided he wouldn't bring anyone home - boys or girls or anything in between.

Roger never asked, Mark never answered.

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"You know," Maureen said, drunkenly pointing at Mark, two evenings later. The tight jeans and eyeliner was forgotten for an evening of friendly drunkenness and memory swapping.

"You know," She repeated, and Mark rolled his eyes, exchanging an expression of mock annoyance with Roger, who hasn't said much since That Night, "You've been fucked. I can see it."

And the room fell to silence before exploding with chattering and laughter, only to have the statement be pushed aside by whatever Collins said next, and maybe because he was too drunk for his own good, Mark winked at Roger's stoic expression before getting up to refill his glass.

Roger never asked, Mark never answered.

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"Where are you going?" And Roger broke the code a few nights later, because he was leaning in the doorway as Mark was applying cheap, plastic smelling gel into his hair. Mark didn't show his shock, concern or even really look at his roommate. Instead, he looked at the spot just above Roger's head through the mirror and twisted white-blond strands through his fingers.

"To Whitewash," He said out loud. Internally, he finished it with, The straight but very gay friendly trashy club we used to go with Collins before April, and he knew Roger heard that ending statement somewhere in his head.

"Can I come?"

Mark didn't even hesitate.

"Of course."

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Mark left Roger somewhere near the door, being dragged off by a tiny girl with lots of makeup as soon as they stepped inside, but his eyes never left his roommate, not all evening. As he danced and grinded and pressed his lips to other lips and skin and enjoyed the thrilling feeling of life around him, Mark would flicker his gaze over to Roger, who remained glued to the bar, eyes eerily trained on him.

During one particularly sexy match with a blue-haired, green eyed nameless dance partner with hands that roamed all the right places, Mark leaned in and kissed the boy hard on the mouth, eyes drifting to Roger's strong gaze from across the room.

When they left, Mark didn't take anyone home or fuck anyone in the back room. He and Roger? They walked silently back to the loft, Roger's walking teetering slightly because of the alcohol he'd consumed.

Once again, nothing was said as they parted and went to their respective rooms. Little did they know that inside, each boy was jacking off with images of the other in their minds, respectively, biting back moans and what could possibly be a painful realization for both of them.

Roger never asked, Mark never answered.

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The fifth time Roger accompanied Mark to Whitewash, Mark refused to leave Roger at the door or at the bar or at the back wall, where he'd been hovering the past times they'd come to the club. Instead, he wove his fingers through Roger's and tugged him onto the dance floor, ignoring the hoarse, half-hearted protests rumbling from Roger's chest.

If Roger was uncomfortable with how close Mark was pressing himself against his chest, he didn't say it. In fact, under the swirling lights and pounding music, Roger wrapped an arm around Mark's waist and pulled him closer, face pressed into Mark's neck, hips brushing and grinding.

The usual men and women that would approach Mark under those lights and allow him to pull them into the backroom watched but didn't approach, because the man that was pressed to him that night clearly had an expression of He's mine plastered across his face, and they knew it.

When they got home that night, they smiled at one another and went their separate ways.

The next morning - stale toast and cereal. Smiles and laughter and no talk of the night before.

Roger never asked, Mark never answered.

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When Mark first kissed Roger, it was the seventh time they'd went to Whitewash together, and it was to The Way You Make Me Feel, by Michael Jackson (The DJ Sami ReMix), and Roger kissed back, hard and wet and sloppy. Mark's arms went around Roger's waist and stopped their movement, pressing his front against Roger's and moaning openly into his best friend's mouth, eliciting a growl from the other man's chest.

Suddenly, he pulled away, and continued their dancing, pulling Roger's arm around his neck and smirking openly.

Back at the loft it was a shared smile and a return to their own bedrooms, and the routine went back to normal.

Roger never asked, Mark never answered.

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Three days later found Roger pressed up against the wall of the club, Mark's thigh between his legs. It found Roger pressing hot, open-mouthed kissed to Mark's neck and shared moans as they ran their hands over one another's bodies like young lovers in heat. Somewhere in the back of Mark's mind, he realized that this was different. This wasn't a nameless face, this was Roger, Struggling Musician, who KNEW Mark Cohen, Documentary Filmmaker, and that just might not be good.

The other part of his conscience, though, the part that liked the moan and expression of pleasure radiating through Roger's face as he put his hand There, right on the fly of Roger's jeans, that part thought Good.

As Roger captured Mark's lips in a searing, sloppy yet perfect kiss, Mark forgot everything around him.

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The day after The Super-Heated Make Out Session Against The Wall, Mark sat at the metal table, fingers weaving film and in and out of the complex crevices of his camera, noticing out of the corner of his eye as Roger emerged from his bedroom, guitar in hand.

In the forgotten plate before him, stale toast and a bowl of soggy cereal. Roger's bowl (which Mark had fixed himself only moments before) sat across the table, and Mark barely looked up as Roger plopped himself down on the stool, the metal of his wallet chain clanking loudly.

"G'morning," Roger mumbled, taking his first bite. Mark didn't respond, just worked on the job before him, not noticing the eyebrow raise from Roger.

"Hey," A gruff voice suddenly said, and Mark looked up to see Roger RIGHTinhisface, right there, the sweetness of the marshmallows from his cereal filling Mark's nostrils. Ignoring the shocked look on Mark's face, Roger grabbed Mark Cohen, Documentary Filmmaker's collar and pulled him into a kiss that sent chills down Mark's spine.

By the time he'd shaken off the shock, Roger was halfway to his bedroom, pulling his shirt off and tugging on his jeans so Mark's eyes couldn't avoid looking at that lean, cut hipbone that was so perfectly exposed.

"What…?" He began, but Roger's smirk rendered him speechless.

"I'm actually asking this time." With that, a lean hand was put out in a silent question.

As Mark crossed the room to take the embrace offered, he answered with a searing kiss of his own, smirking at how Roger tasted of forgotten marshmallow cereal.