Author's notes: I was browsing through Speed Rent one day, and I liked this prompt. Lets see how it turns out. It's made up of six really short sections. Because I felt like breaking it up.

Disclaimer: I do not own RENT. That would be the property of Jonathan Larson, RIP.

Prompt:

CHALLENGE #58

-Use the prompt: she wasn't always like this.-

-Your fic MUST include Mark in some capacity.-

-Your fic MUST include at least one conversation between Roger and Benny.-

-Your fic MUST include mention of the fire escape.-

-Your fic MUST put somebody on the roof of the building at some point.-

-Your fic MUST include/make mention of ice. -

1.

She wasn't always like this- she didn't always want to freeze.

Maureen didn't always like taking cold showers.

In fact, even now, she rarely took them- only when the alternative was suicide or self-mutilation.

And she wouldn't sink to that level.

April's level.

Once, as a teenager, the hot water had unexpectedly stopped working at her suburban home. Because of her annoyingly curly hair, she had to get a shower every day.

So, it was either frizzy hair or cold shower, and she chose the latter.

Maureen peeled off her silky green robe and straightened out the crisp white mat on the ground. With a deep breath, she turned the metal faucet to cold, pushed back the curtain, and stepped in.

At first, she jumped back, slamming her head into the wall. Groaning and rubbing her head, she slowly let the cold water run through her hair.

All at once, she noticed how numb she felt. The cold made the throbbing pain in her head evaporate, and her family, school, and boy problems were as large as the nonexistent steam.

After that day, it was a tool she used when she was depressed- instead of cutting or doing something to herself to end the pain, she just numbed it by taking a cold shower. After all, killing herself wouldn't get Maureen on Broadway.

2.

She went to NYU for college, studying theatre and the arts. One particular class was tedious for her to sit through- it was torture. The professor attempted several times to make his Philosophy class interesting, to no avail. He kept talking about AIDS over and over again… Seriously, like she'd ever know or care about anyone who had AIDS!

After completely blowing off a term paper, the teacher invited her to coffee at a nearby café to discuss her future in his class.

The professor's name just happened to be Tom Collins, and the place they were meeting just happened to be called The Life Café.

As she sat down waiting for Collins, a young man waiting outside the window caught Maureen's eye. He was fairly skinny, and blonde, and he seemed to be waiting for someone.

Maureen watched as the stranger shivered, his pale breath descending into the air.

Suddenly, he turned, laughing with someone. He stepped inside, following his friend- who coincidentally just happened to be Collins.

Collins eyes searched for Maureen, and come forward upon finding the table where she was sitting.

"Hey, Maureen," Collins began, "I hope that you don't mind that I let a friend tag along."

Maureen grinned, and winked at Collins. "Of course I mind! After all, it is my education we're here to talk about!"

His friend looked shocked, and turned away to leave, Collins laughing the whole time. "Well, then, I guess I'll, um, be going then…"

"I'm just kidding. I don't care," she added, placing a hand on his shoulder.

Taken aback at this, he replied, "Oh, uh, hi! I'm Mark. Mark Cohen."

3.

There was something attractive about him somehow, but Maureen couldn't figure out what it was. He was geeky, always carrying that camera around with him, but something definitely striking. So much that she knew that she had to see him again.

It was the first time she looked into those stunningly blue eyes, and would most certainly not be her last.

That night she agreed to come to the loft every few nights to be tutored by Collins. Apparently, he shared the loft with Mark, some guy named Roger, a guy named Benny, and Roger's girlfriend, April.

She skipped home to her dorm, causing her gothic roommate Jenna to remark, "Alright, which guy did you have sex with? Is he on campus?"

Mark was around most of the time, politely asking if Maureen wanted a cup of coffee or anything. Roger was mostly at band practice, and April apparently always came. Benny was usually reading a book, or some other way of being anti-social.

In the spring of that year, she finally passed Collins class. Despite this, she found herself coming to the loft whenever she could to visit Mark and Collins. She found that it was fun to argue politics with Collins, and she couldn't stay away from Mark's blue eyes.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Maureen's dorm burned down in a protest against cat dissections, Jenna being the leader. She arrived at the loft late at night, smoky, dirty and tired. Mark answered the door, and after hearing Maureen's explanation, let her in right away. He let her sleep in his room, and slept on the couch. Before going to sleep, he showed her where the towels were and let her take a shower.

She took the first cold shower that she'd taken in years, letting the smoke and ash wash off of her grimy body.

After drying off, she slipped one of Mark's shirts over her head and put back on her smoky pajama pants.

As she tossed and turned, she inhaled the smell of Mark's pillow.

This is where he sleeps every night! She thought.

She analyzed the smell. It smelled sort of like glass cleaner (probably from cleaning his camera) and sort of like coffee. The combination reassured her that someone was looking out for her, that someone cared.

4.

Collins and everyone else agreed that Maureen could stay at the loft permanently.

Maureen met April for the first time, and thought she was sweet enough.

How wrong she was.

Although, it wasn't until she found the stash in April's room when looking for a towel that she really got irritated.

She was going to mention it to Mark, but then kept her mouth shut. After all, was it any of her business?

One night in mid-December, she decided to go out to the fire escape. She shivered; it was bitterly cold, and it had snowed the night before. Ice covered the cold metal on the fire escape, making it slippery.

Maureen sighed, and laughed when she saw her own breath.

"What's so funny?" a familiar voice inquired.

Maureen spun around to see Mark, who was carrying a cup of tea.

"Here. Drink this," he whispered.

She took a sip. "Earl Grey?"

"Mmm hmm."

"Thanks."

She brought her black pea coat closer to her body. As she did so, she dropped the mug by accident. Luckily, she caught it. But not before some of it spilled on Mark.

"Oops…" Maureen said, cheeks turning red. "Let me…"

Mark didn't let her finish. He swept her into a kiss, ignoring the tea on his chest.

Maureen didn't see it coming. As surprised as she was when his blue eyes met hers, she welcomed his kiss gladly, returning it.

Suddenly, Mark backed off. "I'm sorry, I just… I've just wanted to do that for a long time."

Maureen winked and then nodded. "You know what? Me too."

She shivered.

"Um…" Mark started, "Maybe we should go back inside. It's awfully chilly out here."

"You're right."

As she walked inside, she heard a crash. Turning around, she saw Mark fall down the icy metal, landing at the next level of the fire escape. Maureen gasped. He wasn't moving.

5.

Scared out of her mind, Maureen ran down the fire escape, careful not to slip herself.

Mark's breathing was ragged, and his head was bleeding. It looked like he hit his head.

Kneeling down next to him, she stroked his blonde hair for a moment. The filmmaker's eyes fluttered open halfway.

"Maureen?" he whispered hoarsely. He rubbed his arm, which was limp at his side at an odd angle.

"I'm here. I'll get help." Glancing around, she saw that the apartment they were next to was dark- a sign that the person was out or in bed.

Gently setting down his injured head, Maureen dashed up the stairs. Two steps before the top, she slipped herself, although she luckily caught on to the railing.

"Careful," Mark said, his voice somewhat louder.

"Right," Maureen replied. She finished the climb without tribulation, and pounded on the window, which had blown shut in her absence. "Collins! Roger! Somebody- Mark's hurt!"

Roger, who had been playing his guitar while waiting for April to get ready for their date, set down the guitar and opened the window. "What's happening? Why are you pounding on the window?"

"You can't hear me screaming?" Maureen inquired, irritated. "Mark's hurt. He fell down a flight of the fire escape."

"Oh."

"'Oh'? Your best friend might have a concussion, and you say 'Oh'!"

"Yeah. That could be bad. He falls down the stairs all the time, and he doesn't usually get hurt. That's just Mark… But he's really hurt this time?"

"Yes, he is! Come on… call 911!" Maureen shouted, exasperated. She propped open the window, about to climb out.

"Hold on…" Roger said, trailing off.

"What now?"

"He kissed you, didn't he?"

Maureen stopped cold in her tracks. She nodded, and then took off to be with Mark.

He was unconscious once more. She lifted his head into her lap again.

"I love you," she whispered to his limp form. "You're going to be okay."

6.

Ice.

Wasn't that why she had Mark's blood caked onto her?

Yet here she was, taking a cold shower again.

Mark was going to be okay, the extent of his injuries being a mild concussion and a broken arm. It was the following morning, and after keeping him overnight for observation, he was allowed to leave. He was now sleeping, an exhausted heap, on the couch.

Drying off her tangled brown hair as much as she could with the small hand towel in the bathroom, she dressed and then ducked outside to the roof of the loft for a breath of fresh air. She heard voices, and ducked behind a pipe of some kind so as not to be seen.

"Damn, he's such a klutz," Roger commented, looking back through the window at Mark's sleeping form.

Benny thought for a moment before replying. "Maybe he'd concentrate more on what he was doing if he didn't have to worry about April and her-"

"Shut the hell up. At least I have a girlfriend," Roger interrupted.

Maureen saw Benny shuffle his feet around a bit. "And so does Mark, apparently."

Roger shrugged.

Slightly irritated, Benny spoke more harsh than he had before. "You do realize that if it hadn't been for Maureen, Mark might have died tonight.

"It was only a concussion and a broken arm!"

"So? If she hadn't taken care of it right away, it could have gotten much worse. Do you care, Roger? Do you care that you are letting this thing with your bitch of a girlfriend affect-"

"DON'T TALK ABOUT APRIL THAT WAY!" Roger belted, making Maureen cringe from where she hid.

"Roger, it's a matter of time before she gets you started too. You know it, Roger, I know you do."

"I SAID SHUT THE HELL UP!"

"Fine. Maybe Mark will get through to you sometime. If he's still around."

It was the most she had ever heard Benny say, and she was proud of him.

Jogging back into the loft, she saw Mark sleeping on the couch. Climbing next to him, she put her head on his chest.

Boom.

Boom.

Boom.

Why was it so reassuring to her?

Deciding that she would never have to take a cold shower again if she could constantly hear that heart beating, Maureen felt her eyes close.

Afterall, she was in love.

Author's notes: Eh, it's okay. I've been working on it off and on for a few months. I never submitted it or anything, but it's okay... Not my best work. Oh, well. Review please.