Title: Guilt Party
Author: Girl Who Writes
Feedback: is beloved.
Pairing: Maureen/Mark, past Roger/April, very subtly implied Maureen/OMC
Word Count: 1788
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst
Summary: He'd tried to be quiet, tried to keep everything quiet, but reality was demanding a response.
Notes: Written for speed rent. Post-April, towards the end of Roger's withdrawl.
Special Thanks: Lemelie for helping me come up with manly words for vomit .
Spoilers: Movie and musical.
Warnings: Roger is a foul mouthed lad.
Disclaimer: Property of J. Larson. I am a fan who makes nothing from this fan based venture.


The loft was quiet. That was the first thing that Maureen noticed as she walked in, dropping her bag by the door.

"Marky? Roger?" she calls out, opening the fridge and making a face; there's pizza on a plate that's growing something; the stench of sour milk hit Maureen as soon as she opened the fridge and a half eaten banana sat on the self, almost entirely black. "Eww, do you guys ever clean out your fridge?" She opened the cupboard under the sink, where several ancient bottles of cleaning fluid were stashed, and behind them was a package of cookies.

"Mark? Are you home?" Maureen called around a mouthful of chocolate chip biscuit, making a face. They were some no-name, cheap brand that tasted vaguely like clay.

"I'm here, Mo." Mark walked out, looking exhausted, tugging his jacket on, his scarf hanging around his neck. "Sorry, I over slept."

"S'okay," Maureen pressed a kiss to Mark's lips. "You look tired."

"Roger was up until four," Mark yawned and ran his fingers through his hair. "You don't mind doing this?"

"You'll make it up to me, Marky," Maureen replied, twisting a lock of hair around her fingers and giving him a coy smile. "Tell Cindy congratulations on…"

"The baby's name is Michael," Mark yawned. "I'll be back tomorrow morning, early. Don't leave Roger alone for too long, okay?"

"He's twenty four years old, Marky, I'm sure Roger can handle being alone while I buy you some food – that pizza is a new type of disgusting," Maureen stared at the bag of cookies and noticed that the expiry date was three months previously. "Food. I'm definitely buying you food."

"Maureen." Mark suddenly sounded wide awake. "Roger… just don't leave him alone for long, okay? He needs company. Buy food, pick up his AZT from the drug store on the corner, buy yourself a magazine, but..."

Maureen looked at her boyfriend's exhausted face – the worry and pain of dealing with Roger's depression and withdrawal since April's suicide and the news of Roger's HIV status. It had been hard – Mark had put all his energy into keeping Roger alive and as healthy as Roger could be, and hadn't really spent much time with her; usually they'd end up sprawled out on Mark's bed, eating take out and talking before falling asleep.

Any other guy, Maureen would have turned her back on months ago. But Mark had been her friend since she was a kid, so had Roger, and she loved Mark. Since Collins had headed off to Boston and MIT, and Benny had headed off into the sunset also known as Westport, it had just been Roger and Mark alone in the big loft, with no heat and little money. And when Roger was yelling for April or for a hit, or sleeping, it was up to Mark to pick up the slack, with her help.

Even if she wasn't living in the loft anymore, Maureen was still there for Mark; the idea of Mark alone with Roger and no money or heat made her feel cold.

"I solemnly swear my care of Roger will be up to the Mark Cohen Standard," Maureen held up her hand as if she was taking an oath. "Have fun at the baby party, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah," Mark nodded and looked around for his duffle bag. "He should sleep most of today. If he… if he starts to yell, try to calm him down, make sure you're between him and the door, but at least an arm's length away from him."

"It's Roger, Mark. He's not going to hit me. He's the one who built me my dollhouse," Maureen smiled lightly. "We'll eat, talk, and sleep, you'll get home, and we'll go for breakfast at the Life."

Mark nodded, still uneasy. His ribs still hurt from where he slammed against the table last night; Roger had gone off on one of his tirades about how he should just die and when Mark had stepped close enough, Roger had gotten angry.

"Go, or you'll miss your train," Maureen steered Mark towards the door. "Ooh, and bring back some cake. And some champagne!"

"Maureen, I am not smuggling out a bottle of champagne for you!" Mark called back.

"Please, Pookie?" Maureen pouted and Mark knew that he'd be stopping off at a bottle shop before he came home for some cheap champagne and some cup cakes.

"I'll see you, Mo," he kissed her forehead and hopped to go both Maureen and Roger would survive the next twenty hours.

---

Maureen sat on the old couch, flipping through a magazine as she watched Roger out of the corner of her eye – he'd come out of his room and promptly taken up residence on the window seat with a ratty shoebox. He hadn't so much as acknowledged her presence yet, just clutched the shoe box and stared flatly out the window.

He was so thin. That was the first thing Maureen noticed about him – how his clothes hung off his frame. The dark circles under his eyes, the grey-white pallor of his skin, how long his hair was, the faint lines around his mouth and eyes from frowning.

"I'm starving." Maureen startled even herself as she announced this, closing the magazine. "I'm going to get some food. You want anything special? Noodles? Pizza? Uh, Chinese from that place across the street? Though I heard a thing that that place wasn't using meat-meat but like stray cats and dogs, and I was like no way am I eating there again, even if I only eat the vegetable noodles…"

Roger looked at her, with an expression of dulled pain, and Maureen wondered for a second whether he was in physical and emotional pain, or if he just felt sorry for the dogs and cats who had found themselves served up as spring rolls.

"I'll be back in like twenty minutes," Maureen grabbed her bag. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

An hour and fifteen minutes later, Maureen bounced back into the loft, with two enormous paper bags stuffed full of food – and two bottles of Stoli tucked safe into her bag.

Roger hadn't moved.

"It's a fucking nightmare out there," Maureen said, dumping the groceries on the table. "I figured that you and Mark aren't really going to get time to buy food, so I got coffee and bread and cereal and those really yummy cheese cracker sticks. Oh, and I picked up your AZT."

It was when she said 'AZT' that Roger let out a strangled sob. He'd tried to be quiet, tried to keep everything quiet, but reality was demanding a response.

"Rog?" Maureen crept closer, her long hair framing her face. "Are you okay?"

"Why the fuck I am still here, Mo?" Roger croaked at her, his eyes red. "Why the hell didn't I die? I don't fucking deserve any of this."

"I know you don't, baby," Maureen sat cross legged, opposite him. "Bad things happen to good people for no reason, sometimes…."

"No. I mean, I don't deserve to sit here. I don't deserve for Mark to pay for all the drugs and the help, and hold my head over the toilet when I puke. I fucked up and you all just treat me the same. I'm a fucking horrible person, Maureen, why the hell can't you and Mark and Collins see that and leave me alone!" He was yelling now, a horrible croaky yell and Maureen reach out, pushing his new, long hair out of his eyes.

"I hate myself for everything, Maureen. I wish it was over," Roger's voice sounded raw and he started rocking back and forward.

"Oh baby." Maureen shuffled closer and wrapped her arms around Roger. "You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. You did a stupid thing, and you've been punished, and you need to forgive yourself and live with the results." She brushed his tears away with her fingers, like her mother used to do to her when she was little.

"I'm a bad person, Maureen. My dad was right." A choked, resentful laugh came out of Roger's mouth, followed by coughing.

"No you're not," Maureen rocked him gently, his head on her shoulder. "Remember when we were kids, and you built me that dollhouse for my birthday? And when Mark used to get beat up at school? You were always there to help him out. All those times you'd pick me up from those stupid parties I'd always go to?"

"That doesn't mean anything, Mo." They were still.

"It means you care, baby. That you've looked out for me and Mark, and now we're looking out for you."

"You should both hate me."

"You made a mistake. Remember when I ran your car into the signpost?"

"Yes."

"That was a mistake. Remember when Mark grabbed your new song for the fire?"

"Yes."

"Another mistake; we're good people, Roger. If we make stupid decisions, it doesn't mean we're bad people. Just learn from it, Roger."

"You really were a lousy driver, Mo."

"Roger! I'm trying to connect with you here. Right now, I am so glad I crashed your car, Davis." Roger sat up. "Feel better?"

"Mark's going to hate me one day."

"Mark doesn't hate anyone," Maureen shook her head, her hair flying out. "But I think you could make him happy by eating and taking and not kicking the crap out of him anymore."

Roger looked down. "I owe him."

"It's Mark Cohen," Maureen stood up. "He'll never call you on that favor, so you should make it up to him with little things. Like taking your medication like a good little boy."

Roger let out a sad sounding laugh, and Maureen pressed a kiss to his forehead, mimicking Mark's action from earlier.

"Let me make you something to eat," Maureen stroked Roger's hair. No more Mark alone; there was a new, hurt and subdued Roger amongst them. And as Roger trailed after her into the kitchenette, skirting around the bottle of AZT like a bomb, Maureen wondered if Mark could have ever hated Roger and April for the drugs and the disease.

She opened a new bag of cookies and wondered if Mark Cohen was even capable of hate, if he would forgive every indiscretion. The cookie tasted sour – she'd bought the wrong flavor – and thought that maybe on some level, she understood Roger's desire for Mark to lash out and hate and be angry.

"I'm not really that hungry anymore." She said to herself and threw out the half-eaten cookie.