Title: The Mechanics
Author: Girl Who Writes
Fic variations Prompt/Claim: Work / Mimi Marquez (RENT)
Spoilers: Rent movie
Words: 2 076
Summary: Things in the loft don't work; it's all falling down around them.
Author's Notes: I used this in the sense 'nothing works', which is kind of obvious. I think chaos!MarkandRoger would be amusing, adorable and slightly eye-opening to live with. Poor Mimi . Second of five for lj's fic variation.
The day she moved into the loft with Roger, Mark and Collins was the same day that Benny decided to shut off all working electricity to the loft.
It wasn't a coincidence, no matter how many half-hearted protests were made by Mark, as they stood out the back of the building, wrapped as many coats and sweatshirts as they could find, stamping their feet to try and keep warm, as Collins examined the fuse box, seeing if there was any way they could have their heat and light back without having to grovel to Benny.
Collins flicked a switch, jabbed a wire into a socket, and all four of them jumped backwards as sparks flew.
Even if Benny did turn on the electricity now, Mimi thought later as she bandaged up Collins' burnt hand, it wouldn't work; the smell of burnt wires had followed them upstairs, and Mark was voicing his concern that the whole building was now a fire hazard.
"You sleep with your camera away, Mark. If there is a fire, you'll both make it out alive," Roger replies from where he's lighting candles with a pink cigarette lighter, 'April' written in faded black marker on one side.
Mimi doesn't hear what Mark replies, her eyes focused on the cigarette lighter, but Roger has tackled Mark to the floor, and they're both pulling each other's hair, rolling around on the ground.
Mimi starts to giggle and Collins rolls his eyes. "I'm going to find something to start a fire in," he says to her, his hand on her shoulder, as she watches the two guys smack each other, the Fender balanced precariously on the window seat.
She watches them, her legs tucked up under her, sitting on the big metal table. When Roger jumps to his feet, wrapping his arms around her, he's all warm.
It's Joanne who, when she finds out about a week without power, calls Benny and rants at him, with lots of legal words, and Mimi stands at the kitchen counter, eating cold pizza and smirking to herself that nothing will send Benny running faster than the threat of a lawsuit. Technically, they're squatters, but the fact that Joanne would go to bat for them means that there were be power, hot water for tea and coffee.
She rants about them being irresponsible, that they'll get sick, can't they just for once think. An electrician turns up with Benny that afternoon, and by ten o clock that night, Joanne's fed them soup and toast and tea, all things that require electricity to cook, as if she can bribe them into responsibility. Maureen complains about the lack of ice cream, and Collins snorts with laughter.
It wasn't cold enough to keep the ice cream frozen, Mark explains, holding his tea as if it's a religious artifact. Roger flicks his toast crusts at Maureen and Joanne smacks him on the back of the head.
"Why do I feel like a kindergarten teacher?" she asks, exasperated.
"I know how you feel – it's more like a parole officer," Mimi suggests with a grin, and she's up and running before Roger can grab her.
The worst days are the mornings she crawls out of the bed she shares with Roger, her feet cold as she hurries into the bathroom, twisting the taps and watching the rusty showerhead spray water – there's no water pressure, and every now and then, the water is brown and dirty; a problem with the filtering, Collins had mentioned.
The pipes rattle as she turns the taps around again, trying to build up some sort of water pressure. Nothing. The water is cold, which wakes her up as she scrubs at her face with a cloth that was once a pink colour, and it now closer to grey with wear and tear. The liquid soap is the same no-name brand they use as dishwashing soap, laundry soap and – for Roger – occasionally shampoo. It's bright green and smells acidic, like what someone thinks lemons and limes should smell like.
The towels are thin, with ragged holes in them – Mimi still laughs at the morning Mark walked out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, not realizing the towel had a hole in an unfortunate position. He'd turned so red, Mimi had thought he'd pass out, Roger laughing so hard he fell off the couch as Mark sprinted for his room.
They get dressed in the bathroom now, almost the only privacy they get now – the makeshift walls are thin, there are no doors to their 'bedrooms', just blankets and curtains rigged up for privacy. Living with three men, the bolt on the bathroom door is something Mimi takes an almost devious glee in.
She wipes the water off the mirror, grabbing her hairbrush from the plastic case of toiletries she keeps underneath the sink and drags it through her hair. She's got an appointment at the clinic at ten, then meeting Maureen at the Space to help out at one, and then she's got a shift at the club starting at six. She runs through her list quickly, pinning her hair back, and her gaze in the mirror focuses on the patch of green paint over the bath tub, like a beacon over the water damaged, grey-white paint. Like the tiles around the bath and shower that have been chipped loose and leave dusty, concrete gaps in the floor. She kicks her feet on them all the time, but never mentions them – she asked Maureen about the long, red spidery stains in the bathroom sink.
"From when Roger and I decided to be redheads, it's only hair dye," Maureen had said with a toss of her hair. "It's not when A… Mark fixed the bathroom after April." Mimi can imagine Roger brooding and high, refusing to set foot in a bathroom stained with his girlfriend's blood, no matter how hard Mark and Benny and Collins and Maureen scrub, clean, polish at it. Mimi can see Mark in her mind, a grim look on his face, hastily painting over the faint outline of blood on the walls with the only paint on hand, so that Roger can face the bathroom during his withdrawal. Maureen, Collins and Mark sitting on the bathroom floor with a knife, a nail file and a screwdriver, prying up the white-grey tiles that hold the memory of blood, tossing them into a garbage bag, chatting idly, as Roger sleeps in the room next door.
It's a Friday when they discover rats have chewed through the cord on the hot plate. And the kettle. And one of Roger's amps. There's swearing and yelling and threats as Roger storms around, a patented tantrum, his face dark with annoyance.
Mimi stays out of his way, going with Mark to the Chinese place down the street. The woman there knows them, and Mark explains their problem, and they carry back as many Styrofoam cups of hot water as they can – six each in those cardboard trays – and cold sesame noodles for the few dollars they scraped together.
Food and coffee appeases Roger, and when Roger and Mark go off with offending items, Mimi is left with the task of tracking down the mouse holes. They didn't have any traps or poison or anything. She finds them, along with a pair of tights they've chewed holes in.
Roger and Mark return, solemn, like there's been another death.
"Sixty bucks to fix them all," Mark tosses his bag onto a chair. Roger's loss of the amp is so great, he doesn't say a word, but goes to inspect the contents of the fridge.
"We left it all there," Mark continued, looking worried. "No point having broken stuff here."
Sixty dollars. A lot of tips, a lot of pizza. AZT. New tights, blank sheet music, film, bail. Collins is away, and the ATM with the Angel code has long been reprogrammed.
It'll be two weeks of going above and beyond the call of duty at the club, of pulling extra shifts and covering for the other girls, of fifteen hour days and headaches and a dose of the flu that leaves them all reeling, tense and worried.
Two weeks for Mimi, and they've got the money to cover the repairs without skipping meals.
Mark goes back to his job at the video store after that, Roger fixing guitars at a music shop ten blocks away. Things need fixing.
Roger's words, "it's pissing down". They sit along the metal table, jackets, gloves, shoes, mugs of coffee in their hands, watching water pouring down the broken skylight, into the ten gallon steel drum that Roger and Mark found on the roof. The couch and chairs are pushed along the far wall, covered in garbage bags. The boys look depressed and Mimi, snuggled against Roger's side and trying valiantly to get warm, is secretly pleased because this is the closest the loft will ever get to being cleaned, rain water splashing on the wooden floors.
They go to bed after midnight, piled with blankets and wearing as many layers as they can.
Mimi wakes up alone in bed, wrapped tightly in the blankets, to the sound of Roger swearing.
She tiptoes on, remembering to put on shoes first – the rat and mouse problem hasn't been 'resolved' yet, and the last time a mouse ran over her bare foot in broad daylight, she'd screamed so loud Mark and Roger had come sprinting down from the roof, panicked for her.
The 'living room' is awash – despite Mark and Roger's certainty that the drum would hold all the water for the night, there's water everywhere. Roger's standing in the middle of the room, barefoot and in his plaid pants, looking sleepy and confused.
Mimi tries to smother her giggles as she walks through the gigantic puddle. Her dream of a slightly cleaner loft has come true, albeit not how she planned. The body of a drowned mouse catches her eye and suddenly the situation doesn't seem so funny.
Mrs. Cohen had warned them. Maureen was saying it like a mantra, her arms crossed over her chest as the boys hang their heads, shame faced, in the corner. Joanne and Mimi stand in the kitchen, holding burnt cups and plates, staring at the long, black scorch mark up the wall.
"You left the hot plate on," Joanne repeats, and Mimi feels a headache coming on.
The offending hot plate, that has lived up to it's name, rests on the metal table, completely fine despite it's best attempts to incinerate the loft. The flames licking the wall had been enough to make Joanne swear, and now there was a slightly ashy, sooty hole right into Mark's 'bedroom'.
"It's not like you do anything in there anyway, Marky," Maureen says, bouncing over to see the damage once more. A bit more of the charred wall crumbles and Mimi dumps her armful of mugs and plates on a chair. She's worried that the loss of a huge chunk of wall will result in something horrible, like a cave in or the entire wall giving out. She bites her lip, and wonders if it's too late to escape back downstairs where giant cockroaches, a leaking roof and a broken window seem much tamer to fires, flooding and vermin.
They'd been trying to make popcorn on the hotplate, and they'd left it sitting there while they went out to the Life. Mimi could see the melted green plastic of the bowl they'd used and recognized Joanne's long suffering feeling of kindergarten teacher slash parole officer.
"The plywood you used to make the bedroom walls," Mimi says, "is there any left?"
"A pile on the roof," Mark supplies, and all three girls exchange looks, wondering why the hell they've been burning manuscripts when there's a wood pile nearby.
"We'll cover it up on both sides," Mimi says, going to sit in Roger's lap, her head on his shoulder , him pressing a kiss to her hair. "And we'll just hope it doesn't get any worse."
"And if the whole wall comes down?" Maureen asks, breaking off a piece of wall-ash.
"Rebuild," Roger shrugs and Mimi smiles. He gets it.