Title: Four
Author: Girl Who Writes
Feedback: is beloved.
Pairing: Maureen/Mark; Mimi/Roger; Benny + everyone friendship.
Word Count: 1087
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst, Romance, Drama.
Summary: Another year has gone, and Mark wonders when they started living like this, starving and grappling for more time, for an extra second of laughter, another joke or anecdote.
Notes: Experimenting with a new style of writing, and I'm quite happy with how this turned out . I'm also very proud that each section is 250 words. I'm trying to master drabbles, very slowly. Also trying to find my muse again. I think she went on holiday . This is another entry for speed rent, in which we had to write a fic to The Fray's How to Save a Life.
Spoilers: Movie and musical.
Warnings: None that I can think of.
Disclaimer: Rent belongs to Jonathon Larson, and I make no profit from this fan-based venture.

One. Between the lines of fear and blame - and you begin to wonder why you came

She thought it would end in screaming and yelling and screwing on the couch, with Roger angrily strumming his guitar before exiting to the roof. There's no privacy amongst them all, and Maureen thinks on that bitterly. When people watch you, you fall into some sort of mould; how you think they think you should act. Flip your hair, smile sweetly and don't forget there's always an audience, no matter how impromptu the performance is.

Maybe if they'd had something for themselves, she wouldn't be leaving. Her loves and her art are always in the public eye, and this is the first time Maureen's regretted it. She wanted something for herself this time – in the moments between awake and sleep, the hopefully voice in Maureen's head promised her that Mark was who she'd been looking for – he'd love her. Mark never got angry, he just solved the problems.

But her problems aren't things like missing the rent. Maureen's demons stalk her at every moment, a shadow of insecurities and sheer terror.

She wanted anger, fury, a send off that they'd both flinch at in the future, when their lives had taken them away from each other.

"I'm sorry, Mark." The words sound rehearsed and insincere, and she realizes that she might have gone about this the wrong way.

There's anger and hurt in every line on Mark's exhausted face, and Maureen wishes someone would walk in right now so she could remember what role she's meant to be playing again.

Two. Let him know that you know best (cause after all you do know best). Try to slip past his defense, without granting innocence…

Roger's tempers take time to build up, like boiling water. Mimi watches him strum moodily at his guitar as she makes coffee, her hair pulled off her face and the cold, winter air seeping through every crack in the bricks and every gap in the floor. He stares out at the streets with a scowl on his face, and Mimi tugs her sweater tighter around her as she takes him over his cup of coffee.

He's tired, she's tired. They haven't got enough time left, but most of the time the days crawl by in a haze of icy, miserable cold and the enduring art of compromise.

There's always anger and frustration pouring out, yelling and screaming, in cursing and threats, with Mark sometimes hovering between them – his unwavering loyalty to his best friend, and his own first hand experience with Roger's temper. Mimi ignores the pleas to "calm down, guys", and she swears in Spanish, and sits on the fire escape alone for awhile.

He lays down the guitar and takes the chipped mug from her cold hands and lowers his eyes in thanks. It makes her smile inside that she can read his actions like this.

"Mimi." He puts the coffee down and gets up, wrapping his arms around her, kissing her gently. There will always be a fault line in their relationship, degrees of suffering and pain. Mimi stays strong to remind herself that this second chance means Roger will never turn away from her for long.

Three. Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness.

The investments brought him into this side of town often, a cell phone in one hand and a suitcase in the other. The real estate is worth a lot of money, every in the seedier parts of the city. He watches people walk past him in patched clothes and with tangled hair, laughing and talking, and Benny feels alone.

Every since he was a kid, everyone who knew him called him 'ambitious and loyal'. When had his ambition for a comfortable, productive life isolated him from everyone and everything he had ever known and believed in?

He pauses to check the messages on his cell phone and the laughter catches his attention – only six of them now, but reasonably happy, wrapped in as many winter clothes as they've been able to get their hands on. Maureen's arm is around Joanne's waist, and she throws her head back, laughing wildly.

Mimi's hand is in Roger's, and she looks up at him, offering him a ghost of a smile, sidling even closer to Roger, and he nods back at her. He feels like he's said everything he has to say, and nothing he wants to say - Sorry, sorry, but you know I can't fix this. Get a job, really, it'll be better if you do. You have to compromise, sacrifice for the things you really want in life. Of course, make sure you really want it before you severe ties, because regret and guilt are as heavy to bear as grief.

Four. Had I known how to save a life.

Another year has gone, and Mark wonders when they started living like this, starving and grappling for more time, for an extra second of laughter, another joke or anecdote. Money is thrown down and alcohol is thrown back. It came after they lost Angel, before they almost lost Mimi. Maybe it was when Roger left.

Mark holds his camera up, not filming. He watches - three of his closest friends, thinner and paler this year, pick at food and tease each other. He watches his leading lady lace her fingers with Joanne's and smile up at the camera, mistakenly assuming the camera is filming.

Sometimes Mark wants to gather them all up in the loft and not let them leave, so that nothing can change, so that they can try and beat time, somehow pack three lifetimes into a year or two. He wants to freeze time. There will be no wisdom, guidance and reality checks when he loses Collins, no easy smiles and hard truths washed down with cheap alcohol.

There will be no melancholy and misguided martyrdom without Roger playing his guitar, trying to understand his rage and angst at being plagued by disease. He'll lose the strength that comes with Mimi's instincts to survive at any cost.

He's going to lose his other selves, be left with a legacy he doesn't know how to handle. Mark wants a miracle, a magic cure for what they're all going to have to face one day, sooner rather than later.

Lay down a list of what is wrong, the things you've told him all along. And pray to God He hears you.