Author: Stephanie (gildedmuse)
Characters/Pairings: Mark-centric, Canon pairings.
Rating: PG-13 for mentions of drugs and sex.
Summary: A series of shorts reflecting how the other bohemians see their time with the filmmaker. Before her suicide, April thinks about how well she (doesn't) knows Mark, Maureen remembers how much she loves him in their last days together, Roger worries about Mark's opinion of him while he runs off to Santa Fe, and Mimi talks with him about the last few months of her life.
Only In Hours
It feels, April realizes as she sits on the dirty old couch with the phone pressed against her ear, it feels like in all this time that she's been with Roger she's only spent - maybe - a couple hours getting to know Mark.
It's this sort of odd thought that buzzes through her head as she listens to Emily's small, soft voice broken with this fear and tears. The phone is resting against April's ear, but her attention wonders elsewhere - anywhere else but here with Emily's words. She finds Mark with his camera on the table, carefully changing a roll of film. He looks like a child with his face bunched up in concentration, frowning as he pulls the metal of the machine apart. April wonders if he can feel her watching. He never looks up, anyway, as if April isn't there at all.
Maybe that says something about her. How worthless she is in this world that she can blend in so seamlessly with this dirty old couch that not even the filmmaker can find her. April curls up against herself, hugging her knees to her chest. She used to have a chest. Now she has a frame, a skeleton frame that is dripping with skin. She use to have thick, wild hair and a smile that glowed and a brilliant body that she could put in anything she wanted and she'd look perfect.
Now she looks like one of those third world children they show on TV. One of those babies who is starving and can't fend for itself, and won't you send money to help take care of her? If you were a good person, a decent person, you would care. Someone? Anyone? Just a dollar a day, just your care and commitment. That's all it would take, and April is still wasting away.
April's been expecting this call from Emily for a while. She's just been ignoring it, getting it out of her mind with smack in her system. The sort of drug that can take care of anything. Except for how every day she looks worse; smaller, beat up, sicker. The heroin can stop her from caring, but it doesn't stop time from wearing away at her until she becomes invisible. Like she is now on the couch with Mark frowns over his camera, not turning his head even when April shifts around and the couch frame creaks beneath her. Not when Emily sobs into the phone, the sound echoing throughout the loft and April's head.
Mark keeps staring down at his camera, his fingers cautions and precise like he's tuning and instrument or painting the Mona Lisa. There is no room for mistakes. There is no time to look up and notice a ghost of a person like April.
Then, he's always been like this. Not just now, when April is nothing and has been replaced by this worthless, starving, dying child unable to take care of herself. April has been with Roger for over a year now and Mark, the best friend, the good guy, the drinking buddy, the one Roger is always mentioning here or there, he hardly ever looked at her. When April is with Roger, Mark will only look and speak with his best friend - sometimes not even that much. Sometimes he'll just walk away, make an excuse to get out. When it's just Mark and April, and it rarely is, it's quiet like this. A long silence dragging out between them as Mark does what he has to, never paying any attention to her.
At first she thought it was jealousy. This was back when she hardly knew Roger or Mark, of course she hardly knows Mark now. Only enough to know she was wrong, it seems. See, at first she thought she had taken Roger from him. Some sort of silly crush, maybe, that he'd been harboring on his best friend or, perhaps, they use to mess around when they were up in the loft alone and now that Roger had a girlfriend that had stopped. April really wasn't sure what there relationship was, but she knew she must have taken it from Mark. It just made sense with how he seemed to go out of his way to avoid seeing them together. Jealous, April assumed and being who she was, she played it up. Climbing all over Roger, showing off their affection when Mark was near. It wasn't malice, or it was but not on purpose. Just instinct to mark a claim as hers to anyone who might try and take it away. She did it, too, when the groupies and just random girls thinking he was cute would wonder up after shows. It's the same idea that she had with Mark, that he was some sort of competition.
Looking back, that had been a pretty silly thing to think. Now Mark is the last person she would expect to be jealous. She's seen him and the guys Maureen sleeps with, how he warns them off but doesn't seem to hate them. Not like Roger hates the girls April flirts with, and that is much more harmless than what Maureen does. Mark doesn't get jealous, only upset and if April had 'stolen' Roger from him he wouldn't avoid speaking with her, but avoid Roger when he was with her, and pester Roger when he wasn't. As far as April knows, he's never done that. No, it isn't jealousy that makes Mark ignore her.
On the other end of the phone, Emily is crying to her, like April cares about some girl and some boy she hasn't talked to in over a year. April keeps watching Mark as he slides the new reel of film in place. She feels detached, unable to connect with herself. Is this how Mark feels all the time?
Everyone knows he's the director, the behind the scenes guy. He notices everything, Roger tells April once or twice or every time Mark points something out, really. It's like he watches life as though it's a film he needs to be able to edit down later, always looking for the mistakes and details. Mark is the stage director, April thinks now as she listens to Emily's sobbing and feels nothing. When the curtain goes down, when the actors are all gone, he'll still be there. The end of the play will not be the end of him. For April, it's different. She's the lead actress, the Prima Donna. She carries the action and the action carries her. This is the first time, sober, that she's every felt so detached from her usually bright and fierce emotions. It's a cold realization, knowing what will happen when those emotions come back, hitting and clawing at this numb feeling that has settled. Ripping her apart.
Mark, she thinks, will never have to deal with that. They may not be friends, they may not know each other that well, but April has been around long enough to pick up on certain bits and pieces about the mysterious face behind the camera. She knows how his work is all consuming, and when Maureen is out trying to get the attention he isn't giving her from other guys, he hides behind that camera. When Roger and her are shooting up and Mark can see that it is killing them, he hides behind that camera. He keeps himself out of the scene, so he never has to deal with it or feel guilty about all these ruined people in his life.
It's his fault, really.
Slowly that numb feeling starts to slip away, and April realizes that, yes, it's Mark's fault. It's his fault that his girlfriend needs to find attention elsewhere. He knows she's cheating, and he could stop her by just giving her some time but he doesn't. He hides from it instead, so Maureen just tries harder to find some attention. It's his fault that this is happening to Roger. He never could look at April, he always knew, and he never stopped any of this.
He gave Roger freedom instead of putting his camera down in stopping his best friend. He gave him this death sentences.
In over a year, April has only known Mark for maybe a few hours, and already she hates him. It's a nice, hate, though. One that places the blame somewhere else. Anywhere but her.
"He's dead," is what Emily is saying through her sobbing. "God, April... You... You probably have it to. You guys slept together, right? I just... I can't believe this."
Of course she has it. She's known, suspected, tried to ignore it but now there is no way around this. She's sick, she's dead. She might as well not even be here now. Wasting away, a starving child, no one calling in to help her. Chris, Emily says, he looked like a corpse. She couldn't even look at him, she says. It's shallow, but she couldn't stand being around him when he died. She just wanted it to happen as quick as possible, so she didn't have to be there. That's why she's calling April, really. She just didn't want to be in the room with his body. It's so gross, so obscene. She can't even love him anymore. She needs a hit. Doesn't April understand what this means?
Emily's voice breaking down in her ear. What a friend, to wait until Chris is near death to call April, the girl she hasn't spoken to in a year, just to tell her about her fate. One day it's going to be Roger on the phone, not wanting to go back into the hospital room. Roger who is sick to his stomach, can't even look at her. Roger who no longer loves her, is just staying around out of a twisted sense of pity. April in that cold, sterile room unable to look at herself and wishes she was dead.
No, that isn't going to be her. This skeleton isn't her. She's beautiful, she's young. She is going to be like that forever.
Mark picks up his camera and sets the old reel of film carefully away in his bag. He knows, she knows that he has to know someone other than her has to have noticed. but he never stopped them. It must be nice, being so detached that he can just go out and film after all of this. April could never be that removed from herself, from everything and everyone around her like Mark seems to be. Well, she will be and Roger... She wonders if Mark can take good care of Roger. No, he'll probably not care at all. He hasn't yet.
"Mark." Her voice is loud in the large loft, more broken then she means for it to be. She hangs up the phone with Emily still crying. Mark looks up, caught before his escape from the door. "Yeah?" he looks almost confused, like he doesn't expect April to be there or speak to him. Surprised, maybe, that death has a voice at all.
She's only known him for hours, maybe, and here she is saying her last goodbye to him. She can't wait for Roger to get back from practice or go see Melody or Rachel at work. She needs to do this now, before she's so sick that Roger can't love her. She could at least tell him something important, something to tell to her baby when he gets home to find her. Immortalized. Forever loved.
"Have a good day," she says, voice steadier now. She even manages to twist her lips into a smile, nodding towards his camera.
Mark smiles back and for a moment April has this feeling that no, he doesn't know everything. It's quickly gone, though, because Mark can hardly look at her even while smiling. "Thanks, April," he says, turning to leave the loft. To leave April to do what he must know she has to do. Looking away, like he will when Roger does the same, she figures. Always looking away. It must be nice, not having to care at all. "You, too."