Pre-RENT. Early Mark/Maureen. Mark follows immediately, like the lapdog he is. At least it's the best lap he can find.

Tear Down the Walls

He's in love with her hair and her nose and her ears, her thighs and her lips and her stomach (he doesn't much like her feet) but he's in love with nearly every inch of Maureen Johnson. He loves her giggle and the way she'll pull on a pair of jeans when she knows he's watching her, showing off those incredible curves that no one back in Scarsdale would think Mark Cohen would know how to handle. But oh, does he.

Mark spends at least a quarter of the first week dating her in bed, and then knows that it's not just her ass and her legs and her breasts that are sexy. It's the whole of her. Maureen is sex, has sex oozing from her pores – well, he's known that from the start, but it seems almost impossible for her to turn it off, and she appears to enjoy every last minute of it.

The phone rings; she rolls out of bed in nothing but a pair of panties, which distracts him enough that he allows her to pick up the phone. "No, wait -- "

"Good morning, you've reached the loft of Mark Cohen, Benjamin Coffin the Third, Thomas Collins and Roger Davis," Maureen says in a pleasant secretarial tone.

Mark sits up, suddenly aware of the power he's placed in an unknowing Maureen's hands. "Uh -- " There's a whine audible even from where he sits. He cringes. It's his mother.

"All right, Mrs. Cohen, may I take a message?"

He would find this hot if he didn't feel so doomed.

"Thank you. Goodbye!" She sets the phone down and walks over to take a seat on the bed. "Your mother wants us to come over for dinner tomorrow, isn't that nice?"

"...Us," he repeats, regarding her skeptically.

"Us!" Clearly Maureen has no idea what has just transpired. "Oh, and she wanted you to call her back as soon as you could."

Of course. I didn't know you were living with a girl, Mark! Is she your girlfriend? I invited her over just because she seemed so nice, if you're not dating her you should! "Maureen – well, you don't have to go if you don't want," he says.

She leans to kiss him on the forehead, placing a hand on his chest. "I wouldn't have accepted if I didn't want to."

He moves to kiss her on the mouth, accepting his fate. "I'll call her back. Soon."

As though reading his mind, she straddles him easily. "And until then?"

Mark pulls her down for a kiss, willing to endure just about anything to be consumed by her.

The next night, he tries to convince her out of anything too risque, and for once not to get it off of her. "My mother doesn't need to see your kidneys."

"She can't see my kidneys," Maureen protests, patting at the back of her backless dress as though to check.

"Please?" he asks plaintively, with a look to match.

"All right, pookie," she concedes. "Unzip me. How about this one?"

He unzips what little there is of the back, and swallows before going to get his jacket. "Hurry, we haven't got much time."

"Don't worry, Marky, we'll be fashionably late!"

"That probably isn't a good idea," he mutters.

"What? How's this one, baby?" She poses in a pair of leather pants and a somewhat decent shirt.

He resolves that there is nothing sane in her closet. "Perfect. Let's go."

Pleased as punch, Maureen slips on a pair of heels and clicks off. Mark follows immediately, like the lapdog he is.

At least it's the best lap he can find.

Maureen takes his arm as they stand on the doorstep of the old house in Scarsdale, while Mark tries to forget the junior prom picture incident. Maureen gives the door a few loud knocks, smiling at Mark in an attempt to set his mind at ease.

I am bringing my anarchist, leather-wearing, sex kitten girlfriend back to Scarsdale, he realizes.

This is pretty cool.

He grins back at her, just as the door opens. "... Mark," Cindy says, addressing Maureen and her pants more than her own brother. "Hi."

"Hi," he says, with marked pride. "Cindy, this is Maureen."

"Hi," Maureen chimes in. "Can we come in? It's getting cold," she explains.

"Yes, yes, come in." The shock appears to be wearing off. As Maureen passes by, Cindy gives Mark a disbelieving look. "So that's why you went to New York?"

"She's great," Mark defends. "And that's her take on dress conservative."

"Oh lord." Cindy puts her face in her hands. "Mom."

"She'll be fine, they got along great on the phone – what are you doing here, anyway?"

"What interesting pants those are," Mrs. Cohen's voice comes from the other room.

Cindy glances around the corner and starts to snigger, adding offhand, "Mom invited me to see your girlfriend, what else?"

Mark tries not to laugh, and ducks in to see the rest of the scene. He is immediately ambushed by his mother. "Mark! It's been so long, you crammed in that terrible apartment in the city, have you been eating? I hope you've been looking after him, he gets so involved with his work -- " she adds to Maureen.

"I have been, Mrs. Cohen," Maureen answers proudly.

" -- and he never brings out any of those movies of his! He could be out there doing who knows what for all I know," Mrs. Cohen goes on, clapping her son on the cheek. "You all the way out there in New York, why don't you come out to see us more?"

"I should," he answers, as there is no better answer and it is definitely a rhetorical question. "I see you've already met Maureen."

"She's a lovely girl, you should have told me you'd found yourself such a nice girl -- " she suddenly stops – Mark glances back to catch Cindy looking away innocently, and immediately his mother speaks up again. "Dinner should be nearly ready, sit, sit!"

"See, it's fine," Maureen says, sotto voce, as she leans against him.

"I'm not worried," he assures her, and himself.

"What is it you do?" Cindy asks, tugging with what appears to be self-consciousness at the cuff of her simple sweater.

"Oh, I'm a performer." Maureen pulls out her chair and takes a relaxed seat. "Marky's my production manager."

"How interesting." Cindy looks more amused than disapproving, but he knows what "interesting" really means. "So you're working two jobs, then, Marky?"

Mark gives Cindy a weary sibling look and says, "It's a labor of love, so to speak."

Maureen giggles and nudges his foot under the table. He catches her gaze and very nearly smirks.

Cindy clears her throat. "So, how long have you two been together?"

"Good question," Mrs. Cohen chimes in, setting down the casserole of the night.

"A few weeks," Maureen answers before Mark can even open his mouth, and he cringes. "I was dancing and he asked if he could film me."

"Oh, that old line," Cindy says. Mark gives a proud sort of shrug. What works, works.

"And he's such a great artist, you really should be proud, Mrs. Cohen," Maureen assures her.

"Of course I am," Mrs. Cohen says, giving Mark an appraising look. "My son the artist."

Mark wonders how Maureen managed to prove something in less than ten minutes to his mother that he hasn't been able to prove since before he left high school. "It's a great life," he says, even more honestly when Maureen's foot curls around his under the table.

The door opens again, and as his father greets his mother with a kiss and regards Maureen and then Mark with a look of gruff surprise (but no disapproval!), Mark decides that he might -- might -- start answering the phone.