Mark/Maureen; implied Maureen/Joanne and faint Mark/Roger. "Tear down the walls; aren't we all?" The untold story of the Mark/Maureen breakup.
Facts Too Sensational for Buzzline
"Have you ever watched them kiss?" Maureen asks him one night, when the space between them on the bed seems particularly wide.
Mark doesn't need further explanation from her. Benny's had girlfriends, Collins has brought a few boys over, but even Mark and Maureen are not as much of a "them" as Roger and April are.
Now that she thinks about it, that may just be the problem.
"Yes," he says. He averts his face, obviously aware of how incriminating this would be with anyone else -- or still could be.
Maureen considers going on; how it's as though Roger and April are off in a world with each other that the others can't touch, how desperately April clings and how Roger embraces that, and the unspeakable: how she and Mark, despite two years of dating and a year of flirting before that, have never come close to that kind of passion.
She wants to lean across the great divide between them that widens every night, to prove herself wrong, to give him the greatest kiss in the history of foreplay, but even she is not that brave a performer.
"Seven months and they're really in love," Mark comments to fill the air.
"They were in love from the start," Maureen counters, dreamily. "True love."
Mark just looks at her and she tenses, knowing what he's thinking in response. What about us? Have we exhausted everything? Is there even a point?
She feels her stomach tremble and remembers why she wanted him. She'd had everything but the awkward, introverted Jewish boy, and found herself fumbling and nervous when facing him as though to compensate, terrified that he might think the worst of her.
But why does he want me?
He reaches across the rift and kisses her. There are no fireworks, just the knowledge that someone's there.
"Go get him, then," Maureen is shouting at him.
She can hate. She can have passion. He hates her even more, for that, but not enough.
"Maybe I will," Mark says coolly, and slams the phone down onto the receiver.
"That's the worst part about you - you're so indecisive!" She slams the refrigerator door, for no apparent reason.
Feeling as though his point will remain unpunctuated without a loud noise, he kicks the table leg, and swears before shooting back, "And you're unreasonable."
Maureen is staring at him, now. As usual, he swallows and swoons before getting a grip, and by then, she's said, "You're too reasonable."
"Sorry," Mark says sarcastically, the bite weakened by the feel of her gaze on him.
"Do it," Maureen says simply, but he knows she has a whole list of reasons waiting for why not.
"It's in two weeks," he mutters, taking a seat and ignoring the pain in his foot.
There is a moment of gentle silence. "You really miss him, don't you?" she says. She sits beside him, fixing the battered phone where it sits askew on the receiver.
"Roger is my best friend," is the automatic, defensive, bitter response.
"At least he's all yours, now," Maureen says. Somewhere along the line, she's put her arm around him.
"As opposed to what?" Mark questions critically, almost panicked. Offended.
"Hers." Maureen's smile is dizzying.
"She never got between us."
"You watched them kiss." Her lips brush his ear.
"So did you," he says, not moving, not reacting.
Something in Mark's stomach tenses as though it takes personal offense to her. "So you want Roger," he half-asks, his voice hollow, not wanting to know the answer.
She shrugs. "I want something different. Don't you?"
Yes. "No," he exclaims, appalled. "You're saying you're attracted to my best friend."
She shakes her head. "That wasn't the question."
"I love you," he says, automatically, and can't keep the stunned, then disgusted look from his face at the blatant lie.
"You don't love me," Maureen scoffs, moving away. "You tolerate me."
"You don't love me either!" Mark's voice strains, and he withdraws, emasculated.
"Then what are we doing?" she murmurs.
"Not getting what we want?" he tries, inwardly scandalized.
She surprises him with a nod. "Have him."
He stares at her. "Have... who? What?"
She stares back. "Roger."
"Not - what - no!" he exclaims loudly.
She pushes herself up. "Deny all you want, but I've accepted it."
"Accepted what?" He's too confused by the direction of the conversation to know if he's offended, panicked or desperate, but there are no other excuses for the cracking of his voice.
"I'm attracted to women," Maureen says.
Mark blinks once, twice; eventually he says, "Of course you are. The one thing I can't do for you."
"Well - " she begins.
"Don't start," he says wearily.
"Fine, so, are you going to get him?" she asks.
"From rehab? Yes." He feels like he should stand; she's standing. That, however, is attention he can't bring himself to ask for in this situation.
"Good luck." She offers him her hand.
He stares at it, then looks up at her and says, "What, do you think I'm gay?"
"...Yeah," she says, perplexed, hand still outstretched.
"I'm not," he feels it necessary to mention.
"You weren't watching April," Maureen says, expression blank.
"No, you were," Mark says. He prides himself on how calm he's being about this.
"You'll love Joanne," she mentions casually.
"Who's Joanne? You cheated on me again? With a woman?" He asks all three to get it over with. Time saver.
"Well, it was tonight and I was planning on breaking up with you anyway." She paces, an old
nervous action of hers. She's nervous. That makes some part of him feel better, though not much.
Mark only manages a choked sound in response to the news. His girlfriend is a lesbian, at least partly, and their relationship is really in ruins now. What now? Fuck.
A moment later, he finds the words to say. "It's over."
"It's been over since the start, baby." She reaches out to touch his face. He moves away from her touch. She withdraws her hand, and says kindly, "Keep it in mind -- you deserve that passion more than I do."
He closes his eyes and says nothing. The door shuts, softly; she's gone when he opens his eyes.
He sleeps alone for the first night in years, and the absence of her is deafening. Instead of sleeping, he thinks of them, and wonders if Roger has any of that passion left for him.
The answer, of course, is no.
He never thinks about it again.