AN: It's 17 years after Rent, so I took some liberties with law and medicine. This also makes Mark about 37ish.

Mark sat back, pulling his four-year-old son into his lap and resting his chin on the small boys head as they watched The Lion King. It was such a normal day for a normal family in California. Not a glamorous area, but one of the few areas where your kids could walk to the park without being afraid they would be taken from you. Every night was the same with his family. He and Megan woke up every morning; she made breakfast while he helped the kids get ready for school. They ate all together, then went on their separate ways: the kids to school, Megan to the adoption agency, and him to his real estate office. He got out of work at five, went home, had dinner, and played with his kids, pushed them on the swings, read them books, watched Disney classics. It was nothing like his old life—crazy, unpredictable, nothing that ever lasted… Remembering that made him hate that life all the more.

He looked back on everything he had dealt with—the medication, the muggings, the cold, the heat, the death. He shook his head and focused again on the movie playing in front of them as his son turned on his lap to burry his head in Mark's chest.

"Don't worry Thomas; Simba's going to be okay." He rubbed his hand comfortingly over the boy's small head. From the other side of the couch, Mark heard a scoff and looked up to see his six-year-old daughter scoffing, pushing her blonde hair out of her face.

"You've seen this movie a bazillion times before. You already know Simba won't die. His daddy dies. Don't be so dumb." Megan tapped the girl on her lips with three fingers.

"Watch your mouth Anne. We don't call people dumb." She exchanged a small smile and a shrug with Mark before pulling Anne tighter into her arms and crossing her legs. The boy froze in Mark's arms.

"Oh no, I forgot that the daddy dies! He won't die this time right Daddy!" Mark's eyes went a bit wide as Megan giggled sympathetically.

"You know, I think it's getting late. Why don't you two get going to bed?" Anne stood up in a huff.

"We gotta go to bed early just 'cause he can't remember who dies and who doesn't." Thomas joined her walking up the stairs and she flicked him in the ear. "Good going." Mark folded the blankets that were lying across the couch as Megan took the movie out and turned off the TV and VCR.

"You know, that kid is getting more like you every day." Mark looked up with a smirk.

"Well I'd rather not have two kids who think they know everything to the point of annoyance." He coughed once. "Like their mother." Another cough. Megan dropped her jaw in mock shock and crossed her arms over her chest.

"What does that mean Mr. Cohen?" His hands fell to his wife's hips and he stepped closer to her.

"I think you know exactly what it means Mrs. Cohen." He pressed a small kiss to her neck.

"That you married the most intelligent woman in the world and you're incredibly happy that that's getting passed down to our daughter?" He pressed another kiss to her neck.

"Exactly." They started to kiss, lips meeting in passion, only to be broken apart a moment later by a small cough. They both looked up to see Anne standing with her hands on her hips, looking utterly pissed.

"Excuse me, but while you two are down here kissing, you have two small children who can't turn on the sink waiting to brush their teeth." She turned around, leaving the adults with sheepish smiles as they pulled apart. Megan followed Anne up the stairs to help the kids.

Mark watched as his wife and daughter walked up the stairs hand in hand, their matching blond hair flipping behind them. A huge smile spread across his face, and he knew that he was the luckiest man in the world.


Mark came home from work the next day, opening the door where his son instantly jumped into his arms. "Hey buddy! How was school?" He gave his son a quick kiss and set him down.

"It was awesome! We had polka dot day, and I got to paint a shirt with seventeen polka dots on it! They were red and blue and yellow!" He seemed so excited that Mark couldn't help but laugh as he picked his son up again and carried him into the kitchen. There his wife was sitting at the table looking through paperwork, her glasses sliding down her nose and a pencil clenched between her teeth in concentration. He set Thomas on the counter and gave his wife a quick kiss.

"Hey baby, whatchya working on?" He returned to the counter, pulling a box of crackers out of the cabinet, popping one into his mouth and handing another to Thomas. Megan looked up with a tired smile.

"Another case. They're flying in tomorrow and I have to interview them to see if they're suitable to have children." She took off her glasses. "What do you think of lesbians adopting?" He shrugged.

"Depends on the couple. Why?" Mark had never seen a problem with gay or lesbian couples adopting, but when ever his wife got a case dealing with it, see seemed to tighten up and become a little more 'up-scale' in her thinking.

"Well this couple is, and the agents are controversial over it. The law says that they're allowed though, so we can't really turn them away. We just have to go case by case."

"Like you do with every other couple?"

"Pretty much."

"So what's the problem? You're good at your job; just do what you normally do."

"Yeah. I guess you're right. Okay, thanks." She looked back to her paper work but looked back to Mark a moment later. "You think you can cook tonight? I have to finish this paperwork by morning." Mark nodded.

"Sure." He turned to Thomas and took the crackers away. "What do you wanna cook bud?"


"We made pizza yesterday. Something new." Thomas was silent for a moment, lost in deep thought.

"I think noodles." Mark laughed and opened the cabinets.

"Noodles it is. That okay with you babe?" Megan nodded.

"Sure. But mix the hamburger into the sauce too, otherwise it'll go bad."

"Okay." Mark handed the noodles to Thomas and closed the cabinet, pulling out all the ingredients to make spaghetti.

Everything about his new life was all so normal. Normal families cooked dinner every night. They had spaghetti so that the groceries didn't go bad, and made polka dotted shirts, and worked cases for their company. He had a very hard time missing anything about his old life. It was a waste of his time, his patience, his heart, and his sanity. This is how it was supposed to work.