A/N: Wow. I don't know what to say about the events of this week. It has been tough. I've been back and forth if I should post this or not, but I thought maybe some of you would like a break from the horror. I wrote this before it happened. I don't think I'd be capable of it now. I hope you all are safe and sound. Scary, scary stuff.
On a less somber note, this is the really the very end of Community of Their Own. Does this mean my fanfic award for best non-finished story gets taken from me? Again, thanks to everyone who helped me along with this story. A lot of the reviews helped me on what to do next. Thanks to Kait, again, for caring about this story almost as if it was her own ("Sandy! YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE BOYS GET TOGETHER! IT WOULD BE WRONG FOR THEM NOT TO BE AT THIS POINT!") Thanks for everyone's kind words. I still can't believe that I had people I don't know, IMing me begging to beta or get a sneak peak of the next chapter (you all know who you are!). I keep saying my foray in the world of fan fiction will end with this, but who knows, I don't think Mark has left me just yet.
Oh yeah, one last time. These characters belong to Jonathan Larson. Pure genius. I hope wherever you are, you aren't slapping your forehead wondering what we have all done with your beloved characters. We love them too, and that is why we like to abuse them.
Take care everyone.
And now, before these notes are longer then the story, I bring you the conclusion of "Community of Their Own".
"MARK! WAIT HERE SO THAT I CAN GIVE YOU YOUR PRESENT!" Roger yells at the door. I laugh, shaking my head.
"Uh, who are you trying to fool? Like I don't know there is a party waiting for me behind those doors."
"What are you talking about, Pookie?" He grins at me.
"How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that."
He kisses the top of my head. "About a thousand. And that's my present, I promise never to call you Pookie again." I glare at him, but laugh. It has been two weeks since he's been home, and while things haven't been perfect, I have been too blissful to notice. He pulls me close to him by my waist, "Happy Birthday Poo… I mean Mark." He kisses me.
"Ha ha, very funny."
"OK, YOU READY TO GO IN NOW?" He yells at the door again.
"YEAH, I THINK I AM." He sticks his tongue out at me and opens the door, pulling me inside. Sure enough all the lights are out. "Hmm… I wonder where everyone is…"
"Surprise!" Maureen jumps out first and rushes over to me. Roger flicks on the lights and Benny and Collins come out of their hiding places.
"Christ, Maureen, you could have made him sweat a little. Make him think we really weren't here."
"Oh go fuck yourself, Benny." She barely looks at him as she rubs my shoulder, smiling at me. Oh the fun of the new Maureen/Benny dynamic.
the two of you behave yourselves? It is
Mark's birthday after all." Collins
pulls me from Maureen, giving me a hug "Happy Birthday, Mark. Twenty-seven, how does it feel?"
"Like twenty-six, but so far a lot nicer." I smile at Roger and he winks at me as he walks toward the kitchen. Maureen runs after him.
"Stay away from there, Mr. Davis, kitchens and you don't mix."
He looks in a large brown paper bag, "Yeah, cause I know how hard you slaved over this take-out Chinese."
"OUT!" She hits him and he pouts and leaves the kitchen.
He comes back over to me and wraps his arms around my waist from behind, nuzzling my neck.
The smile that has been permanently on my face for the last two weeks remains. I still can't believe that he is mine and that I am his. I keep stopping and checking myself, to make sure that this is actually my life. Things like this don't happen to me. But Roger keeps assuring me that it is happening and that he isn't going anywhere. He has been equally, if not more, as happy as me for the past few weeks.
Well, except for those moments I catch him by himself. I know he is still mourning Mimi. We all are. I keep telling him he doesn't have to hide it from me, but he assures me everything is fine. We had fought about it the other day. I accused him of distancing himself from me and he just said there was a difference between wanting space and being distant. I don't know if I feel that way, but I try not to give him a hard time.
The phone rings and Collins answers it. I hear his side of a conversation, which is obviously with Joanne. I can tell by the vague references to Benny and Maureen. While he's talking I turn around and look up at Roger. He leans down and kisses me.
"Ok, you two! Enough of the lovey dovey stuff. You're apt to make a girl jealous."
"Yeah, well, that's because you let this guy go." Roger speaks while still kissing me.
"Gross! Get a room!"
"Come on Maureen, we can give them a taste of their medicine." Benny swings his arm around Maureen's waist and starts kissing her neck.
"Get off of me!" She elbows him in the stomach. "What did I tell you? Stay away from me!"
Benny takes two steps away, and then moves back right where he was, and continues kissing her neck. "You sure about that, Baby?" She coos and I shake my head at them.
"Talk about gross." She gives me a big smile and a wink. I don't think I'll ever get used to those two. Collins waves the phone towards me, and I reluctantly remove myself from Roger's hold and take the phone. I go into our room and close it behind me.
"Happy Birthday, Mark!"
"Thanks, Joanne." I sit down on the bed. "How are you?"
"I'm doing well. I miss you guys so much. Well, you know, most of you." I can hear the bitterness in her voice.
"We miss you too."
"I'm sorry I couldn't make it up for your birthday. I just…"
"Yeah, I know."
"So how are you and Roger doing? You haven't filled me in on anything. I have to rely on Collins for all of my information."
"Yeah, well, I've been… busy?"
"I have!" I laugh. "We have been doing really well. I don't want to jinx it by talking about it."
"Yeah. I am."
"Good. That's all I need to know then." She says simply. "I'll let you get back to the party. I'll call you this week, so we can really catch up."
"Ok, Joanne. Love you."
"I love you, too, Mark. Happy Birthday."
I sit in the room for a moment, and glance up at my reflection in the mirror Roger hung on the door. The lines of age on my face have made me look older. I still see that innocent, young boy staring back at me. The boy who wanted so badly to please his dad, but never could. The boy who came to New York with dreams and ideals, only to have them broken over and over. The boy, who has seen addiction and disease ruin lives around him, leaving him alone to pick up the pieces.
But then I look again, and I see myself, for who I am now. A man. Who after twenty-seven years has finally figured out that life is full of challenges and surprises. The biggest surprise of course, falling in love with my best friend.
"Mark?" I hear knocking at the door and watch it open. "You ok?"
"Yeah, Roger, I'm great."
He sits down next to me. "How's Joanne?"
"She's ok. Maybe we can go see her in a few weeks."
"Yeah, sure, if you want." His grin is huge, and he is almost laughing.
"Come on." He stands up and drags me out into the living room. Collins, Maureen and Benny are sitting around the table, already eating Lo Mein and fried rice.
"Gee, thanks guys, for waiting for me."
"Shut up, we were hungry!" Maureen yells. "Now sit down so we can give you your present."
"Guys, you didn't have to."
"Yeah right." Benny scoffs. "That's why the past week, you've been dropping gentle reminders to us."
"I have not!"
"Yeah, right." Collins laughs. He reaches under the table and grabs something, keeping it hidden for an extra moment. "It's from all of us. Joanne too."
"Sorry it's not wrapped, Pookie." I shoot Roger a look.
Collins then places a brand new camera in front of me. I stare at it, in shock.
couldn't afford to buy you a camcorder or anything, and we know how much you
love your 16mm." Collins says
enthusiastically. "I know that you said
ever since the loft… uh… you know… your camera wasn't working great.
"Wow, guys, that's just…yeah, it was a little crushed when Roger and I found it." Roger looks at me and smiles. He is remembering our first kiss out there in the lot. Little did I know then, how something I thought was an accident would lead me here.
I look at them, each one of them beaming with pride for finding me the perfect gift.
Benny, who sometimes forgets his ideals, but really does have a big heart, and is capable of so much love. Maureen, my former muse, the diva-extraordinaire, there is no one else like her. A part of me will always love her and she will always use that for her advantage. No matter how much I try to deny it or fight her off. And Collins. Collins, who just knows exactly what to say and when to say it, and isn't afraid of speaking the truth. He has taught me so much over the past six years, but most recently, he taught me not to trust the future to fix things on its own.
And then there is Roger. He broke me, but then he put me back together again, stronger than before. I have never felt as safe as I do when I'm with him. I'm still afraid to put my faith in him for the long haul, but for now, I'm just not wasting anytime worrying about it.
"Thanks." I say finally. "I love you all, you know."
"Yeah, yeah…" Maureen states, leaning over and grabbing the rice from Roger's hands. "Oh! I didn't tell you guys, I have this great new idea for a protest against CyberArts… I'm going to get my clown suit…" Benny clears his throat loudly. "Oh yeah, sorry Pookie." The whole table starts laughing together. Or I should say, my whole family starts laughing together.
Roger, Collins, Benny and Maureen and me, living together again. A community of our own.