Notes: Written for speedrent Challenge #166 (balloon, sunset, rooftop, show) In three sections, with a POV change in the middle. Very, very loosely based on an actual experience. E-Cookies to anyone who can figure out what show they're in!

Disclaimer: Yeah, all I own of Rent is a few CDs, a DVD, and a Playbill from the Shubert theater.


Smoke Break

"Man, I could really use a smoke. Maureen, care if I bum one?"

"Sure, but only if I can come with you," she replied, pulling her purse out from underneath her street clothes. She had taken up smoking a few weeks after her eighteenth birthday, and being the oldest of the group, her schoolmates were often looking for a hookup.

As they headed outside, Maureen mentioned to a member of the stage crew that she and Roger would be on the roof, and to send Mark out there once he got off stage.

"Here," Maureen handed Roger a Marlboro and her lighter, then removed a cigarette for herself as well. They made themselves comfortable, Roger sitting on the edge, dangling his feet over, Maureen standing (she was in costume and didn't want to get too dirty). She remarked about how pretty the sunset was over the football field when they heard a noise from below.

"Roger, that you?" Mark asked from the sidewalk.

"Yeah buddy, come on up," he replied, indicating the metal ladder the janitors always neglected to bring inside. Soon, the small blonde boy had joined them in their rebellion. His blue pinstripe suit an slicked down hair made him look a lot more like the fifteen-year-old boy he was than the man he was playing.

"So, how is Mr. Henderson this fine evening?" Maureen asked, coming up to him and giving him a short hug, trying not to burn a hole in his costume.

Mark rolled his eyes. "Decent. I dropped my business card, and flubbed a line. Plus, that couch is so damn uncomfortable."

"I'm sure you'll do fine tomorrow, once we have an audience," the older girl remarked, her arm still lazily draped over his shoulders as she took a drag. "But don't complain about the couch. Try sitting on it in this." She pointed to the green taffeta dress she was wearing. "I'm focusing so much attention on not falling off that I drop my accent!"

"Yeah, Maureen's one slippery Russian!" Roger piped in, standing up and going towards the ladder. "Well, anyway, I'm done, I should be heading back in."

"Okay, bye Roger," Mark watched his best friend climb down the ladder, leaving him alone with Maureen Johnson. Suddenly, he felt as uncomfortable as a balloon in a room carpeted with thumbtacks.


"Isn't the sunset beautiful, Marky?" Maureen asked, putting out her cigarette under her sandal. She grabbed his hand, lacing their fingers together. Mark was suddenly very aware of the heat the wool suit was creating around him, but he also didn't seem to mind. He moved closer to her, and she put her head on his shoulder. Now he could smell her, that wonderful scent, a sweet mixture of tobacco smoke, vanilla, and orange chapstick.

They stayed there for a long time, enjoying each other's company and watching the sun disappear behind the goal posts. With the last few beams of light, Maureen pulled away. She turned, making eye contact with the boy. His icy blue eyes filled with wonderment.

"What?" he asked, all of a sudden very confused. His confusion was cleared up, however, when the older girl's lips made contact with his. His mind went blank, suddenly under a sensory overload that his young brain could barely fathom.


They were shocked back to reality when Roger came up the ladder to tell Maureen the third act was starting.

"How do I look?" she said frantically, patting down her dark curls and adjusting her tiara, which had been set askew.

"Gorgeous," Mark answered, straightening the crown on top of her head and placing a soft kiss on her forehead.

"Break a leg, Duchess!" he called as she reached the bottom of the ladder, rushing to the stage door.

Roger clapped Mark on the back. "Way to go, Marky!"

Mark's pale face flushed. He smiled.

"Shut up Roger. Let's go watch Maureen's scene."