Author's Note: I posted this on LJ (for the community RENT for Bastards) a while ago, but it's raining like whoa outside and I am all kinds of bored, so I figured I might as well post it here, if nothing else than to clutter my profile a bit. This is my first RENT story ever and my first time writing in 4 years, so I hope this isn't completely wretched. Also, I know that most schools have a week of finals that are separate from actual classes. My high school (in New York State) requires students to take the NYS Regents exam. The number of Regents depends on your year, but in my junior year I had four. So some of my teachers (in classes that didn't have Regents that year) tried to make it easier for us and gave us our exams during the last week of classes. New York is a crazy place. Oh and the title is from a PJ Harvey/Thom Yorke song. It's a really great song.
Disclaimer: I don't own RENT.
Warnings: Boys using bad words. Boys kissing. Boys being boys.
You know those times when a sense of calm washes over you? When you wake up before your alarm clock, and the day is full of possibilities because it didn't start with your annoyingly repressive mother screaming at you in her shrill voice that you're late for school?
Mark lives for that feeling. He constantly feels overwhelmed by indifference but pushed towards his potential. These are the times when Mark can squeeze his eyes shut for just a few more moments and imagine a time when things are different for him. Mark shifts and curls further into himself and tries to keep the warmth for just a few moments longer, turning away from his night stand in a vain attempt to ignore the clock. If he looks at the clock, Mark is sure it will tell him something he doesn't want to hear. If he can just delay it a few moments longer, he might be able to start the day off right. Without the anxiety that comes from rushing around your room, trying to find a sweater that won't cause you to be fucking itchy all day, pleading with your shaggy hair to keep it from sticking up like you're one of the little rascals and silently cursing yourself for putting off studying till the morning of.
You know that moment when a bomb goes off inside your head and you realize that something is not quite right? The days where you beg the alarm clock to be wrong, you pray that the sun decided to wake up earlier than normal and you hope to god that your mother didn't let you oversleep. Mark sits up with a start, his eyes darting around his room, his legs thrusting him out of bed as he runs to his window and sees that the driveway is empty. SHIT. Mark can't believe his fucking luck. The one day his mother isn't on his ass and chastising him for taking too long in the shower (it's not like he can tell her what is taking him so long) is the day he oversleeps. Scratch that. Who is Mark kidding? He would oversleep every day if his mother wasn't there. Mark's never been a morning person.
After Mark comes down off his nervous rush, quickly pushing the tension deep inside for another day, he mentally checks off what he needs to do to get to school. His eyes gravitate to that damn alarm clock, mocking him in glowing angry numbers that burn into him as a reminder that he's not going to get that calm morning and that he is in for a long day of itchy sweaters. Walking in a daze to the phone, he quickly dials and hopes that his best friend didn't pick today to be a model student.
After more than a few rings and several frustrated squeaks from Mark, a muffled grumble causes Mark to snap out of his trance.
"You better have a good reason for calling me before 2nd period. You know I get cranky when I don't get my beauty rest." Mark tries to hide his smirk but fails miserably when he hears Roger laughing lightly into the receiver.
"Oh, I'm sorry, would you like me to call you back after we miss our French final?" Roger inhales sharply before slowly releasing and Mark can practically feel him grinning through the phone.
"Mark Mark Mark...you seem to forget one of the perks of being the best friend of the school's most charming, not to mention drop dead fucking sexy rock star." Mark lets out a huff and goes to his closet to grab his rumpled jeans, suddenly satisfied at a forgotten fifty in his pocket.
"And what is that Roger? Because I could have sworn that the only ones under your spell are freshman girls, those girl's mothers and yours truly when I am way past inebriated."
"You must be joking, Marky. How can you not have noticed the way a certain first year French teacher has been practically eye-sexing me since she took over the class." Mark isn't sure if Roger is being serious about his self-proclaimed "animal magnetism" or if he just wants to engage him and milk it for some compliments.
"Well I admit, Miss Murray puts up with your cocky ass a lot more than our old teacher did." At this, Mark could hear Roger release a dismissive breath and begin to raise his voice a level.
"There was something seriously wrong with that woman. How can you not be charmed by me?"
"Well, I don't know, her oath to God probably had something to do with it. But I bet you're totally right though, if it wasn't for that pesky abstinence thing she would have totally ripped off that habit and boned you on her desk."
"You wanna walk to school, Mark? I don't think I like your attitude today... I think----"
Sighing under his breath and switching the phone to his other ear, Mark waits for Roger to continue his early morning rant. He is used to them, they gave him time to catch up on his reading. Roger rarely acknowledges this lack of conversational participation, fully satisfied to hear a grunt or an infrequent "Yeah". Roger likes to hear himself talk.
After managing to evade suspicion during a failed attempt at balancing on one foot that ultimately led to a tangled telephone cord and a huge bruise on his ass, Mark finally gets caught when Roger asks his opinion on his own ass and Mark's mouthful of toothpaste prevents him from articulating any response, even though he certainly has some opinions on the matter.
"MARK! I resent that. I am quite the witty conversationalist."
"Are you coming to get me or not? If I have to find another ride to school I have to ----"
"Christ Mark, I'll be there in 15 minutes, calm down. I wouldn't let you whore yourself for a ride to school. That's just sad. Plus we all know that truckers would like me better."
You know those times when you walk into school late and you feel like you're breaking in? Like you should just turn around right now and go home? When you realize that the school would be a lot more tolerable if it wasn't for all the people.
Mark hates this feeling. He hates feeling such disappointment in society and wishes that the mere sight of a new person would pass a shock through him and push him forward and cause him to engage. Even for just a moment. Just to feel connected to another human being, even if it's completely random.
You know that moment right before you walk into your class that is going on without you? When you realize that the world doesn't stop and end with you and it will go on, even if your mother tries to make you feel otherwise? When all you want to do is turn around and follow your best friend out of the building, if nothing else but to keep the attention off you? You're a terrible liar and when questioned will retreat so far into yourself that the only sounds that you will emit are squeaks and desperate whimpers and hope that someone will save you.
Roger would kill for more of these moments. He likes feeling like a knight in shining armor. He likes being the one that Mark turns his happy little smile on. Every second that Mark looks at him like that is another moment that firmly keeps his feet where they are, instead of desperately running for the door.
So when Mark turns around and looks at him, standing at the door of their classroom with imploring eyes and a perfectly pouty frown on his face, it is all Roger can do not to grab his hand and run out of the building and just forget that school tried to interfere with their day. As much as Mark makes him want to stay where he is when he smiles, Roger can't help but feel his flight instinct kick in when he sees the other boy's eyes dim and his shoulders hunch. He feels like he is in way over his head. Nevertheless, when Roger takes Mark's hand and gives it one last reassuring squeeze he sees his best friend's eyes regain that flicker and he feels that this might be exactly what they both need right now.
Roger likes bucking convention. He likes standing up to the principal about why it is perfectly within reason for him to have spiky hair even though the dress code strictly prohibits it. He likes provoking a response, because if nothing else it gets a reaction out of Mark. Roger likes making Mark feel. As much as he tries to rebel and even though he'd never admit it to anyone, possibly not even to Mark (hell, who is he kidding?), he is happy he lives in Scarsdale. Big fish in a little pond, Roger guesses. He likes being the one teachers glower at, he likes when other students act like he's a rock star. Roger likes knowing that he can make people believe the lie. He likes disrupting the status quo. It'd be a lot harder to shake people up in the city and Roger isn't sure if he is that extreme a person. He doesn't think his "crazy" hair would cause such a stir in the city. So for right now, Roger is perfectly content to wrap an arm around his best friend's waist and stroll into that classroom as if they weren't 20 minutes late to their last French test of their junior year.
When Roger turns his confident grin on him, Mark can't help but feel a sense of calm wash over him. That perfect little bubble bursts, the second Roger's arm leaves his waist and a classroom of perfectly bred students snap their heads up from their tests and await the possibility of fireworks. Roger never does anything half-assed. Mark knows that whatever Roger has in store for Miss Murray is not going to be some lighthearted and pitiful pleading to allow them to take their final. They are either going to fucking ace their test before pencil hits paper or be pushed out of the classroom leaving a wake of gaping mouths and wide eyes.
Mark lives for that feeling. He can't create that rush all by himself, but he sure as hell loves being the one Roger considers his "partner in crime". Mark likes feeling bad. Okay, Mark likes feeling bad for as long as Roger is there. Mark does not like feeling bad when his parent's disapproving glare shoots icy daggers straight to his core. His parent's always manage to kill that happy feeling. Mark wishes that there will be a time when he can ride Roger's enthusiasm and shut out the rest of the world. Or at the very least, his parents. Mark loves them but can't help but roll his eyes every time they try to "understand" what was going on with him.
"Oh Mark honey, why don't you sit down and talk to your mother. It will be painless, I swear. I just want to know what is going on with you. Even Cindy tells me about her life and she's 2000 miles away. You're 50 feet, please Mark, talk to me."
Roger wishes that Mark could tell his parents about what is going on. His mother had walked in on them curled up watching a movie and had assumed the worst. She quickly shook her head as if trying to clear it and scurried out of the room. When Mark had gone down to check on her, she was found nursing a cup of tea and watching the latest episode of Matlock. Roger wishes that he could explain what is going on with himself and Mark, but finds that whenever he tries to think of a concrete definition for their relationship, he comes up empty-handed. The nebulous nature of their relationship allows people to create a mythology for them. Roger likes being stared at and wondered about, but he doesn't think Mark enjoys it as much as he pretends. Roger knows that Mark is better than okay when he is there, but he is worried for his best friend when they are separated.
Roger wishes that he didn't have to hide anything from Mark, but there is one incident that even the big bad rock star is afraid to bring up.
Sauntering down the hallway, Roger catches sight of Mark walking with his head down and staring intently at his shoes as if they are going to answer the great question. Roger is used to this. As he jogs to catch up to Mark, he sees some girls snickering and laughing beside him. He sees a random senior purposefully ram into Mark's shoulder. Roger isn't surprised by this. Hell, he was waiting for it. Mark still hasn't had his growth spurt and is still trying to shake his parent's hold over him. But not even a glare? Not even a sarcastic retort? Mark still has an issue talking back to teachers, but he usually gave as good as he got to other kids.
It isn't because of Roger pushing him that Mark talks back. As timid as he is around adults, Mark knows that he has the key to getting out of there. He knows that the Scarsdale life isn't a fulfilling one. This confidence arises out of him, every time someone teases him about his camera or about Roger's music. Roger practically fucking beams when he hears Mark stand up to people and tell them that they are going to make it big in the city. This confidence floods over to MarkandRoger and he can't help but believe that THEY are going to make it. This assurance and the desire to protect what they have is what causes Roger to develop a more than slightly possessive attachment to Mark. This is what causes him to want to make sure the grasp they have on each other isn't going to be shaken. This is what causes Roger to want Mark to be his boyfriend. But even the big bad rock star needs a push.
Roger lets out a slight shudder as the image of Mark getting pushed and laughed at and not doing a thing to stop it replays in his head. Roger glances over at Mark one last time before turning back to Miss Murray, all but erasing his worry and putting on his patented grin.
Mark watches as Roger spins a tale around their teacher that is so convoluted that all he can do is simply nod and agree that yep...that is exactly why he and Roger are late...saving puppies from a pedophile. No doubt about it. That old man needed to be stopped.
Roger knows that bewildering Miss Murray into a stupor isn't enough. He even manages to throw in a few touches to her shoulder and acts embarrassed when he "slips up" and lets a string of expletives fly out of his mouth as he recounts his and Mark's harrowing journey to school that day and why you just can't trust the milkman anymore.
Mark simply stares at Roger's dramatic hand gestures, exasperated sighs and over enunciated tone. His stare turns into a gawk when Roger stands behind him and places his hands firmly on Mark's shoulders, explaining to the teacher that if it wasn't for Mark's heroics, that an innocent puppy might have been used by a dastardly and malfeasant milkman. Mark nods quickly at their teacher's dumbfounded expression and feels Roger's hands pushing him toward their seats in the back of the room.
Mark is snapped back to reality as he feels a gentle poke in his side that stays there for a moment longer than usual. Mark doesn't even try to pretend that the shock sent through him is expected. Looking over at Roger, Mark smiles his innocent little smile that his best friend knew was anything but. Mark notices the glares from his classmates as Miss Murray places not only their finals onto their desks, but a French-English dictionary as well.
Roger grins in delight at Mark's amazed expression and turns to give him a last gentle pat on the back before returning his gaze back to his test. That poor puppy.
You know those times when it seems like (as clichéd as it sounds) the world is your oyster? When you can't believe your dumb luck that this is your life and that you are getting away with complete and utter nonsense?
Mark cherishes these times. He knows that in high school, they don't come around that often. He is completely aware of the fact that without Roger, Mark would have walked into that room, sputtered spastically for a bit and would have been told to wait outside until after the test was over. He might have started begging, he might have looked helplessly around the room, hoping for some kind of absolution and he probably would have come up short. Mark has come to terms with the fact that his parents aren't completely happy with how he lives his life, but the thought that he disappointed someone...well that idea still causes an ache in Mark's heart. Roger knows that Mark would rather sacrifice himself than cause that feeling in his parents. He knows that Mark's parents have firmly placed the value of responsibility in him and that his best friend would do anything for his family.
Roger hopes that one day Mark will be able to overcome that pang. Roger knows that his best friend is blissfully unaware of the fact that no matter what he does, as much as he tries, it WILL come crashing down. That fact is inevitable. Every child lets down their parents. At least they do when they have no place in Scarsdale.
You know that moment when you see the first flicker of excitement and release in someone's eyes? When you let out a breath you didn't even know you were holding? When your foot stops tapping nervously and you can't help but grin like a fucking maniac?
Roger craves that moment. He wants that moment for Mark. He wants to be there for that moment. He doesn't just want to hear about it. He doesn't want someone else to be the cause of it. Roger wants to be the target of that look. He wants to make that happen for Mark. Roger aches for the blush in his cheeks when he grins right back at Mark. He wants to bottle that elation and save it for a time when they might just need it. A rainy day or a time when they can't be together.
Roger is not looking forward to that time. He hopes he is not the cause of it. He doesn't want to be on the receiving end of Mark's disillusioned face. He doesn't want to watch his best friend store the pain away. It would kill Roger to know that the place in Mark's heart for him was battered and perpetually aching. He doesn't want to be the cause of any suffering for Mark. This is what causes Roger to keep his mouth shut. This is the reason for Roger to try to play it cool. But this is also the reason Roger moves forward and hugs Mark from behind, softly kissing his neck in a vain attempt to keep him close and prevent anyone else from hurting him. This is the reason Mark turns around and nuzzles his cheek into Roger's neck.
Mark has found himself in a position that he is sure would disappoint his parents. He is in a position that he is sure would lead to more than a few whispers. Mark is more than a little glad that he woke up late this morning. He looks up to see that Roger is looking carefully at him. He playfully shoves Roger's shoulder, grabbing his hand, interlacing their fingers and leading him out of the building.
Roger likes being led to his own car. He reaches over and ruffles Mark's hair and laughs when he gets a decidedly wicked smirk in return. Roger relishes these rare times when Mark deviates from the suburban tedium and lets the devil on his shoulder fill his head. Roger likes to think that he causes that. Mark knows this to be true.
Mark looks up at Roger and considers for a moment before quickly pulling him away from the car and slowing down his pace when they reach the end of the campus. Mark is rarely the instigator so he can't help but check that Roger is still there. He pushes back the timid smile that threatens to cross his face when he sees Roger's surprised but delighted expression.
"Hey Mark, I love the suspense, I do...but where the hell are we going? I'm sure we could get there a lot quicker if we drove."
Roger hates winter. He hates his car for speeding up his goodbyes to Mark. He knows that Mark knows this. Mark decides to throw Roger a bone. Mark's nice like that.
"Since when are we in a hurry? It's only 10 o clock, Roger. Let's have a Ferris Bueller day."
Mark knows that his rational self will probably kick back in in a couple of hours and he will return to normal and resume freaking out about not only the fact that he cut school, but also that he has a killer Economics final tomorrow. Mark could never get the hang of handling money.
Roger realizes that this spur of the moment brand of Mark won't last for very long and he quickly follows when he is yanked into a nearby coffee shop. He knows Mark isn't really a coffee person and briskly slips past and orders two iced teas. Roger takes out his wallet and places a 5 dollar bill on the counter before turning around to see a blur of blond enveloping him in a hug. He wraps his arms around him, squeezing him tight for a moment before running his hands over Mark's shoulder blades before pulling back lightly.
"I told you that Miss Murray digs me. I don't know what you were so worried about. No one can resist my charms. I have school covered okay?"
"Okay..." Mark trails off, looking up at Roger before biting his lip and beginning again. "Hey, do you want to go to a movie with me? I mean, it doesn't have to be now, we can go whenever, it doesn't matter. I was just thinking that the new Woody Allen movie is out and there's that diner next to the theatre, so..."
"Mark, stop rambling. Yeah totally, let's go now, it's still matinee and I have just enough for some Red Vines. I'm not sharing though. Seriously I'll need a whole box to entertain myself for two hours watching a nerdy filmmaker watching a nerdy filmmaker."
You know those times when you know you're being watched? But it's not creepy, it's comforting, as if someone is always looking out for you.
Mark is soothed by this feeling. He has become attached to feeling Roger's eyes on him when he looks away. Mark thinks he'll never be able to shake that feeling. No matter what happens, Roger has placed himself inside Mark's head. Mark thinks he can get used to that.
You know that moment when you feel yourself split in two? Whether it be the division between child and adult, your past and your future, between being friends and loves...it all comes down to that moment. It's not a scene in an old musical. Fountains don't erupt behind you, a line of sequined dancers don't come out of nowhere and start high kicking while you and this other person share an over the top passionate kiss.
Mark and Roger don't want that moment. They're hormonal teenage boys who get jumpy when a hand accidentally brushes another. They get anxious when the other stares a bit too long and doesn't look away like usual. There is something about the dark that emphasizes possibility. Holding hands in the light definitely attracts attention, but it also limits the boys from taking it too far.
Mark and Roger hate feeling typical. They really don't want their first kiss to be in the back of a movie theatre on a Tuesday with the taste of Red Vines on their tongue. Mark doesn't think a Woody Allen caper film is exactly the romantic backdrop he was hoping for. Roger feels more than a little awkward doing the patented yawn-stretch arm maneuver with his best friend. But as Mark leans into him and doesn't break his gaze, Roger feels that push he needs and wraps his arm tighter around his shoulders. He slowly pulls the other boy towards him never looking away. Push and pull.
Mark gives him a slight nod and sees Roger inhale sharply and squeeze his eyes closed tightly. He leans in to his best friend and feels Roger's hands move from his shoulders to find a place in his disheveled hair tugging Mark in closer. A moment later their lips connect and after watching Roger for a split second, Mark finally closes his eyes. He tries to remember the few tricks he learned at summer camp and birthday parties that would help him feel like he doesn't suck at kissing. Roger slowly pulls back, but not before Mark can slip in a few short pecks which causes wide grins from both. Roger laughs quietly under his breath and rubs their noses together gently. For some reason, this causes Mark to crack up.
"What are you laughing at? Mark! That was some of my best work. I am a damn fine kisser."
This only adds to Mark's uncontrollable giggles and Roger crosses his arms over his chest and puts on his practically trademark pout. Mark waves his hands exaggeratedly in front of him as if trying to clear the air but unable to quiet the laughter that is bubbling out of him. Mark gasps for air and tries to steady out his breathing before finally putting his hand on the back of Roger's neck. He plays with the hair at the nape of his neck for a moment before tugging Roger in closer and speaking in a much more steady tone than he thought possible.
"Oh come on, you know I didn't mean it like that. It's just...you've been my best friend since we were 10. I didn't expect you to give me an Eskimo kiss. It was ridiculously cute, so I laughed. I'm sorry."
Mark sees Roger's face lighten and his lips creep into a smirk. That evolves into another wide grin as he pushes his lips to Rogers but the kiss is cut short when Mark lets out a pained cry.
"Fuck, did I bite your lip or something?" Roger pulls away in order to check Mark's mouth, and when he sees no blood drops a tiny kiss on his jaw. Mark shakes his head and laughs under his breath.
"No, it's just...the arm rest is digging into my stomach. Suffocation and shooting pain kinda ruins the mood." Roger reaches over and gently rubs Mark's stomach and then pats his own lap. Mark gives him a puzzled expression before Roger pulls him up and tugs him down onto his lap. He sits there awkwardly for a few minutes, trying to distract himself with the movie before Roger wraps his arms around his stomach and softly strokes his arm. Mark shifts in his arms trying to get comfy but finding that movie theatre seats aren't exactly built for two. Roger loosens his grip around Mark's waist and widens the space between his legs to allow him more room. Grateful to finally be somewhat relaxed, Mark turns around and pecks Roger somewhat awkwardly on the cheek. He is surprised when Roger lets go of his waist and places a hand on his cheek. Mark glances quickly at him, trying to make out his expression in the dark.
Mark likes to think he can read people. Especially Roger. But there is only the faint light that comes from the aisle beside them. It is just enough for Mark to catch the nervous smile that Roger always tries to hide. An instant later, Roger cranes his neck and kisses him hard. The force that is applied to his lips produces a sharp gasp from Mark, causing Roger to try to pull away in panic that he has misread the situation and moved a little too fast. For a split second, he is scared shitless until Mark stands up, turns around and leans down to kiss him just as fervently as Roger had. Entwining his fingers in Roger's hair, Mark sits down again, this time with one leg on either side of his best friend's lap. Roger runs his hands down Mark's back landing at the small of his back and rubbing circles there.
Mark pulls back and giggles under his breath before leaning into Roger.
"Bastard, you know I'm ticklish." Mark leans in to kiss him again moving Roger's hands a bit lower down his back.
"Are you? How could I have forgotten that?" Roger smirks cheekily before nipping at Mark's nose. His hands settle in the back pockets of Mark's jeans as their lips meet again, fiercer this time. Mark grabs at his collar before placing his hands on the side of Roger's face, running a thumb up and down his jaw. Mark lets his thumb linger by the side of Roger's mouth, letting it dip in slightly before running his tongue over Roger's lips and gently pushing inside. Mark hears him sigh and feels Roger's hands tighten around him before responding in a more than enthusiastic manner. Roger lifts his hips slightly and Mark presses himself lower. Both Mark and Roger's eyes are squeezed so tightly that neither would be surprised if tears were welling up and the blackness behind their eyes was replaced with stars. They fight to keep out the light. They fight to keep out the possibility of playing it safe.
Roger smacks away a hand that presses on his shoulder and rolls his eyes at a not so subtle cough thrown in their direction. Mark finally looks up and sees that the theatre is empty and that there are two men in front of them. The younger one looks especially shaken and Mark realizes that Roger's hands are still on his ass and his own hands are up his best friend's shirt. Mark looks up only to see Roger smirking and can't help but return the cocky grin. He turns his attention back to who he assumes is the manager who appears fairly jaded and is simply tapping his foot as a means to imply rather than force. He stares at Mark, obviously thinking he is the more reasonable of the two boys and Roger doesn't disappoint.
"Enjoying the show, fellas?" Mark quickly whips around to shoot Roger a shocked expression and is met with a grin that could probably crack his fucking face in half. Roger catches his eye and winks as his nails dig deeper into the back of Mark's jeans. Mark jumps out of his seat in surprise and immediately drags Roger out of the theatre. Roger grins over his shoulder and earnestly waves goodbye to the two weary employees and Mark is surprised to see both are waving back with amused smiles.
You know those times when you realize what you've just done and you wish you could go back and undo whatever you did to get to that point? When you look across the table and find eyes studying you intently and you are unable to even look at them in shame of what you just did? When you can't even look your best friend in the eye anymore and you two try to ignore what happened between you because you know that you both regret it. Or worse. Only one of you regrets it, while the other's expression changes from happiness to hopefulness to confusion before finally landing on fear.
Mark and Roger don't have that feeling, right now. They didn't have it after the first kiss, they didn't have it after being caught in a movie theatre grabbing at each other, and they didn't feel it the whole walk to the diner.
Roger watches as Mark hops up the steps to the diner and opens the door. When Roger reaches him and tries to relieve Mark of holding the door, he is surprised to see a shake of the head and a flip of the wrist. Mark is looking at him with a small smirk and eyes that push him inside. After holding up two fingers and being led to a booth in the back, Mark finally turns his attention back to Roger.
"I've got this one, okay? What do you want? You can still get breakfast if you want, I've seen you go ape shit over the chocolate chip pancakes more than once."
"Aw Mark, such a gentleman. Holding the door and now offering to buy me breakfast foods? You little charmer. You're so trying to get into my pants." Roger is relieved that he can still make Mark blush. He hadn't been able to check during the movie, but he is pretty sure that the burning in Mark's face that he felt might have given him away. Mark reaches across the table and whacks him up side the head before letting a smile escape quickly and rubbing the space behind Roger's ear with his thumb. Roger impulsively leans into him before his eyes snap open and he looks at Mark for a second before leaning the rest of the way across the table and placing a soft kiss to his forehead. Roger falls back down into the booth but not before seeing Mark hold the tips of his fingers to his forehead before looking up at Roger and pulling his hand away.
You know that moment when you try to make a promise through your eyes? When you silently pray that that person doesn't misread your signals? When you hope they know when you're kidding and when you're being serious. When you try to change the meaning of years of playful teasing. When you're not sure if the change in your relationship means a change in you.
Mark and Roger are both scared of this moment even though it is rapidly approaching. There will come a time where they will slip back into their old routine and Roger will tease him about his extended time in the shower and Mark will spit back about disease infested groupies. They're not sure what they'll do when that happens. Before it was lighthearted teasing between really close friends, but after today, the comments will become more loaded. Roger will be afraid to even to joke about sleeping with a groupie to Mark, in case his fidelity is called into question and jealousy might begin to bubble inside his best friend. Mark might be less likely to even discuss his "alone time" with the knowledge that Roger is aware of just who he is thinking about in there. Things that were picked apart mercilessly before might begin to sting when they suddenly have more than a little grain of truth behind them.
Mark and Roger are both pretty naive to the fact that how close they are will work against them. How years of friendship and honesty have supplied both with a full arsenal to defend themselves. They both know how nasty they can get when they want to. They can rip each other to shreds and shake their best friend to the core. One of them might cry and raise his voice, one of them might just stand there and take it, refusing to indulge the other on the waterworks and dramatics. They know how quickly their fights have escalated in the past but they never broke each other's hearts. At the very worst, Roger would scream in Mark's face right before feeling a swift kick in the ass. Usually these fights ended with some pouting on Roger's side and the silent treatment from Mark's, but the anger usually passed pretty quickly and typically ended in a tight hug and some promises they knew that they wouldn't keep.
The waitress approaches to see the boys staring intently at each other before muttering a short "I'll give you a few more minutes". They finally break their gaze and Roger looks around confused for a second.
"Did someone say something?" Mark cocks his eyebrow at Roger and reaches under the table to grab his hand.
"Ever? Or just now, Roger?" Roger scratches Mark's wrist with his other hand before letting his fingers linger lightly on the pulse. Roger sandwiches their hands together and begins rubbing harshly. Mark pulls away in confusion before his hand is quickly pulled back, this time across the table, by Roger.
"What are you doing? Trying to give me a weird Indian rope burn or something? Jesus Roger, you haven't done that since 6th grade when you twisted so hard, I bruised." Roger laughed at the memory before Mark pulled back again and swatted his hand away.
"It wasn't funny! My mom wouldn't let me hang out with you for a week after that. She thought you were abusing me for lunch money and that I was too weak to fight you off."
"Well she's right about that. You're such a scrawny bitch, you couldn't stop me from doing anything."
"Oh really, I couldn't? Try to kiss me again, we'll see how fucking weak I am."
"Is that a challenge, buddy? Come over here...now." Mark shakes his head animatedly before crossing his arms and leaning back in the booth. Roger waits for him to get up in a huff and sit beside him, but Mark's ass was fixed to the leather. Finally Roger gets up and sits down next to him, turning to sit Indian style with his back to the restaurant. With one leg curled underneath him and the other firmly planted to the floor, Roger leans forward and begins placing kisses on Mark's jaw. When he doesn't move or make an attempt to turn around, Roger presses harder and moves down to his neck for a moment before deciding to change course and trail a path to Mark's ear. Roger is growing surprised with his inability to cause a reaction in Mark. He knows that his best friend has only been kissed a few times and that Mark was definitely into him at the movie theatre. After a few more kisses to his cheek and a few light drops on the lips, Roger finally gives up and lifts himself off his leg to return to his side with his tail between his legs. A sharp slap to the face kept him in place.
"Don't you ever call me weak again. Got it?" Roger can only nod once before he is grabbed back towards Mark and slammed against his mouth. While the impact was less than graceful, the kiss itself tries to take it's time. Mark turns and leans back against the window and pulls Roger up to him. Roger tilts his head while running a hand through Mark's hair. The timidity they had previously in the light is all but erased. They are practically horizontal when, for the second time that day, a cough cut through the hushed words and shallow breathing.
"You're going to have to order something if you're going to be kissing like that. A cup of coffee? Nah, no one wants to kiss someone with coffee breath. How about a piece of apple pie? Franny makes the best in all of New York."
This time, both Mark and Roger have dumbfounded expressions on their faces, sitting upright and hurriedly ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, a plate of chocolate chip pancakes, and two forks. The waitress stifles a laugh as she takes their order and waddles back to the kitchen.
"You didn't want the apple pie? I've heard whisperings of it being the BEST APPLE PIE IN THE WHOLE STATE! Wanna hear a secret I picked up through the grapevine? Apparently Franny is a fucking apple pie goddess. I think we should really take her up on that. My treat."
"Mark, we're sharing a grilled cheese sandwich, a huge fucking plate of CHOCOLATE CHIP pancakes, and you want dessert? How the hell do you eat so much? You're a twig. Oh god, you're not starving yourself are you? You wouldn't do that to me. Please don't turn into Karen Carpenter. The music died that day, babe."
Roger exhales dramatically and throws his hand to his heart in a vain attempt to keep up the pretense of a crisis. After looking at Mark and seeing a blank stare looking back at him, he sits straight up, turning to the empty seat across from him and begins twiddling his fingers. Mark places one hand on Roger's shoulder and the other under his chin turning his head back towards him.
"I'm touched that you're worried about me, I am. I just don't know why everyone thinks I'm eating disorder skinny. Do I look like a child in a third world country? Should Sally Struthers put me on her infomercial?
"Oh hush, you're better than fine. I like that you're tiny. Come here." Roger leans over and places a hand on Mark's thigh before running it up his body until he reaches his neck. He strokes delicately before tangling his hand in Mark's hair. Reaching over he licks his own lips before biting at Mark's and flicking his tongue over his mouth. Mark grabs the back of his neck and opens his mouth while pulling Roger in closer until they are practically back in their original horizontal position. After a few minutes they separate as they hear plates being gently placed on the table, a quick scurrying of sneakers and wafts of chocolate filling the air.
"15 minute break, okay?" They both nod and turn their attention to their plates. Minutes later, they both look back and see that the other practically inhaled their food. They are each met with a smirk and a raised eyebrow.
"Can we get the check please, Doris?" With thoughts clouding his mind, Roger doesn't even notice when Mark plugs a few quarters into the "jukebox" next to them. He lets out a shocked expression as the tune started playing.
"The Go-Go's? Mark, what the hell? That's not mood music. Plus you know how I feel about Jane Wiedlin. Are you trying to kill me? You couldn't pick a little Billie Holiday or Patsy Cline or even some Dylan? Roger's little rant ends when Mark grabs at the check and tries to calculate the tip.
"Come on, we have to get back to school before it closes. I left my Economics book in my locker. I'm already so fucking screwed." For the first time all day, Mark's foot starts tapping anxiously again. His smile twists into a frown and his eyes glaze over with apprehension. Roger's eyes search for Doris, holding up one finger above his head, before nodding and looking back at Mark.
"Mark, you're okay. Mr. McPhereson is totally an easy grader. I had him last semester for Public Policy. Didn't he give you a review sheet and pretty much tell you what was going to be on the test?" Roger loops his arm around Mark's shoulders and kisses him firmly on the side of his head.
"Yeah, I mean, I KNOW what's on the test, but I don't really GET it. It's all gobblygook. That class makes me feel so discombobulated." Roger stifles his laugh into Mark's hair, not really wanting to tease him anymore today.
Doris arrives with a piece of Franny's apple pie and Roger reaches into his pocket to pull out a few bills when she waves him off and winks as she walks away. He rubs Mark's shoulder and lifts his chin delicately to peck him on the mouth before nodding towards the plate.
"Give in to the power of the pie. It'll make you feel better." Mark exhales and picks up the fork, taking a tiny piece into his mouth. He considers for a moment before turning back to Roger and stroking his cheek and mumbling a thanks. After he finishes, Roger tugs Mark closer to his side until Mark's head is resting on his shoulder. Mark laces his leg around Roger's and entwines their fingers, placing their hands on his thigh.
"Well, Doris is definitely not a liar. You want the rest? It's ridiculously good." Mark looks up at him with such an earnest look on his face that Roger stifles the joke about watching his figure and nods. Roger can't let this opportunity go completely though and simply opens his mouth and looks at Mark expectantly. Mark gives him a look of "Oh come on..." but after shaking his head and biting his lip, he picks up the fork and practically flings the food into Roger's mouth. Roger coughs a bit in surprise and swallows heavily before scooping up the last bit of pie with his finger and shoving it in Mark's mouth.
Mark licks his lips clearing away the apple pie and smiling broadly. Roger leans over and laps off the last bit before firmly kissing him and hugging him tight.
They sit for a few moments longer before Roger kisses their interlaced hands and stands to leave. Roger looks down again when he realizes Mark isn't following. Mark is curled up in a ball hugging his stomach tightly. Roger would have laughed if he wasn't worried. His protective instinct kicks in and he leans over him, and begins to whisper in his ear. Mark simply groans that his stomach hurts from eating too much and it is all Roger's fault. He can't believe that Mark is being such a baby and can't help but jokingly ask if he wants a piggy back ride. Roger knows that Mark is tiny, but he knows he doesn't appreciate being treated as a delicate little girl. But apparently tummy aches are Mark's Achilles Heel and he is perfectly fine being coddled if need be. Mark's eyes light up and he nods vigorously as he sits straight up. He laughs when Roger bends down to allow Mark to climb onto his back. Mark wraps his legs lightly around Roger's waist and places his head on his shoulder. Roger adjusts slightly, trying to find a comfortable position so he won't drop his best friend on his ass. He grins at Doris on their way out and now she is way past amused. Roger can hear her laughing hysterically in his head the whole walk back to school.
You know those times when you look over and can't believe you are so attached to another human being? When you can't separate the idea of contentment from this person? When you feel like you know every aspect and could predict to the second how fast it takes to make that person blush or smile or laugh? The feeling you get when you reach for their hand at the very same second that they grab for yours.
Roger and Mark are in awe of this feeling. Roger was elated when he felt arms wrap around his neck and legs had encircled his waist. He shudders when he feels Mark sigh against his neck and pull himself tighter against Roger. He blinks against the oncoming afternoon sun and tries not to lose his balance. Roger definitely doesn't want to get back to school. He certainly doesn't want to reach his car. He doesn't want to put Mark down and watch him pull away. He doesn't even want him to look away. Roger dreads that day. The day when soft words and imploring eyes aren't enough. Roger really hopes it will never come to that.
You know that moment when your closest friend surprises the shit out of you? When you can't help but stagger slightly at an admission or an action or even just a revealing look in the eyes?
Mark sees this look in his best friend when he is slowly put down at the entrance to school. He is stunned to see the normally jovial look has vanished and is replaced with intensely searching eyes. Mark is too speechless and too nervous and returns to what he knows best... focusing sharply on the laces of his sneakers. Mark hears Roger turning around and heading back in the direction of his car, shoulders hunched and shuffling his feet. Mark can't just watch his best friend walk away and does the only thing he can do. He grabs Roger by the arm and jerks him back around, hugging him fiercely. Mark looks up during the hug and sees that Roger's eyes are squeezed shut and he is clinging to him as if life and death were on the line. Mark taps him on the nose and he can't help but giggle when Roger's eyes snap open and a blush creeps over his cheeks. It's not as obvious as the one that then flushes over Mark's face but it is definitely there. Roger punches him in the arm and loops his arm through Mark's and leads him into the school and to his locker.
While waiting for Mark at his locker, Roger can't help but notice how meticulous and precise it is. Mark reaches for his Economics book and when his History book falls, he quickly restores the "proper order". Mrs. Cohen would be proud. Roger hopes he can shake the obsessive compulsiveness out of Mark. He grabs the History book and places it next to his Vocabulary book and you would think Roger spat on his dog with the look Mark sends him. Roger twists Mark around and practically shoves him into the bathroom, closing the door delicately.
"What the crap, Roger? I wasn't really mad about the book, why did you fucking hurl me in here?"
"Well, your Economics teacher was walking down the hall, which if you remember correctly... you missed because of our little Ferris Bueller day. If you want to go back out there and explain to him that you missed his last class of the year because of what we did today, you are more than welcome." Roger smirks confidently on this last statement which turns into a full-on grin when Mark shoots him his wicked little smile. Roger leans back into the wall and crosses his arms over his chest and practically tears Mark apart with his gaze.
Mark meets his eyes and matches his smirk and saunters over to him and places a hand on Roger's stomach. He runs his hand under his shirt and grazes his fingers over the bit of skin beneath Roger's belly button before resting his palm on his stomach. Roger wraps his arms around Mark's waist and locks his hands right below the small of his back. He lets his thumbs wander over before unlocking his hands and dipping slightly into the waistline of Mark's jeans. Roger pulls his hands away when he realizes where they are and drops a kiss on the top of Mark's head. He untangles himself from Mark but keeps an arm around his waist. Roger peeks out the door before striding back out into the hallway and wrapping both arms around Mark. Roger is starting toward the exit when Mark leans up quickly and pecks him on the lips before turning back and continuing their escape.
You know those times when you are sure you are on the verge of something momentous? When you are completely sure that the choice you make that day will completely redirect the course of your life? You see importance in every little moment and every little tone of voice will resonate with you until the day you die. Later you'll give symbolism to a glance or a song or the movie that was playing when you first kissed.
Roger and Mark are slowly waking up to this idea. As Roger drives just under the speed limit to Mark's house, constantly locking eyes and squeezing the hand that is placed on his lap, he is unaware of the fact that later in life they will try to give weighty significance to the measly pop song on the radio. Mark will definitely be overanalyzing the way Roger looks at him and possibly getting butterflies when his best friend calls from now on. Mark can't wait for this feeling. Neither can Roger.
You know that moment when you actually feel yourself replace who you were with who you hope to be? Mark has finally found that feeling. The need to protect it is what pushes him toward the front door where his mother's disappointed face greets him, pulling Roger along by the arm. Push and pull.
Mark braces himself before beginning.
"You see Mom, there was this milkman..."