Title: Things Known
Author: Girl Who Writes
Pairing/Characters: Mimi, Benny. Past Mimi/Benny implied; Mimi/Roger implied.
Word Count: 1 249
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst, drama
Summary: He goes to see her at the hospital, at a time when he knows the others aren't there... the girl with the glitter in her hair and stars in her eyes, lies before him, dying slow enough that her pain is almost tangible.
Disclaimer: Rent and it's characters are property of Jonathan Larson, and I make no profit from this fanbased venture.
Spoilers: Movie, musical.
Warnings: Nothing that I can think of.
Notes: I am absolutely in love with this song. It's so beautiful and haunting :D Thank you, mods, for introducing me to new music :glomp: It's been a few months since I wrote a Rent fic, so I was a little rusty, but pleased with how this turned out. Written for lj's rentchallenge's second speed fic challenge. Quotations are from Vienna Teng's 'Eric's Song'.


There's a distance erased with the greatest of ease.

He goes to see her at the hospital, at a time when he knows the others aren't there. It's still early, and he should still be at the office, but he's taken a few hours for this. He doesn't skip out on work often, only when it's a matter of life – when his son was born – and death; right now.

He holds an elaborate bouquet of roses in one hand – he had to call and ask his secretary, what does he take to a dying girl? He could have asked Alison, she would know what were the right sort of flowers to take to a hospital, but he didn't want to explain everything to Alison. Past digressions had been forgiven, but not forgotten, and Benny didn't want to be the one who dragged his history with Mimi back out into the open. There was too much sadness and resentment still heavy around them, feelings still raw, even a year later. Benny's sure that if Roger ever saw Alison, they could bond over their feels of betrayal, and their distaste, for Benny and Mimi, respectively.

The room is grey and white, and the metallic buzz of machines fills his ears. There are several bunches of flowers around the room, bright splashes of colour against the monochrome.

If he hadn't been prepared for the worst, it would have torn him apart. She was almost swallowed by the starched, paper-like hospital sheets and pillows. Her face was almost grey she was so pale, black circles underlining her eyes. She looked like a faded child, an omen of things to come.

Her eyes were closed, her eyelashes fanned out on her cheeks, and Benny remembered meeting her, so long ago – she was the brightest, most vibrant girl he'd ever seen, and it would have been impossible for him to just keep walking, to not go up to her and flirt, to grab her name and her phone number before anyone else. He wanted her love, her energy, her effervescence – every part of her – all to himself.

He searched for that girl in the frail woman in the hospital bed.

We dance through the colors; both followed and led.

"Mimi," he says softly, prepared to leave her, let her sleep, and live with the image of her fading away burnt into his mind for the rest of his life.

Her eyes open and she smiles tiredly before she's even really registered who it is before her.

"Benny."

"Collins called me." He lays the bouquet of roses on the table at the end of her bed and moves closer to her.

"Collins is a good friend," Mimi struggled to pull herself into a sitting position, brushing tubes out of her way. Somehow, he didn't notice them before – tubes threaded into her nose, tubes leading into her tiny wrists, the veins almost transparent; an oxygen mask pushed away from her face, hanging around her neck. Benny sits in the hard plastic chair next to her bed, and drinks it all in – the thin, cotton t shirt that is draped over her skeletal frame, emblazoned with the name of a band that Benny faintly recalls Roger talking about. The sparkly silver nail polish on her fingers, her carefully brushed hair, the piles of glossy magazines on the night table.

The flowers don't seem like enough.

Benny doesn't know what to say, at all. He can't ask her how she's feeling, when she has tubes trailing out of her; he can't ask her how long she might have, when it's obvious that she's clinging on to each day as it comes.

"How are you?" Her voice is thin, raw, and her eyes are glassy, swallowing her thin face, but they are still alert and she is listening, and if this is what Mimi needs from him the most, right now, Benny will talk about anything.

"Alison wants to move back into the city," Benny says. "Better schools – shorter commute, we'd get more time as a family. We haven't really discussed it, yet."

Mimi coughs her body curling into a ball as she tries to breathe again. "Mark… he and Roger were talking about getting out of the city before this. I think it's time for a change." She looks back up at him and smiles, brightly, and Benny relaxes a little – she is still the girl that he remembers; the bright smiles, the unwavering faith in life.

"Strange how we know each other," she says, playing with one of the tubes from her wrist. "I mean, we know each other, and you roomed with Roger, Collins and Mark, you knew April and Maureen when she was with Mark."

And the ghosts in the attic… they never quite leave.

It is, and he tries not to think about it much. He feels like it's a movie on fast forward that he can't stop or pause or even slow down for a second. He's seen blood splashed on the bathroom tiles; people hurting and yelling that pain out; needles sliding in and out of cold, bruised flesh; dreamy eyed children become hard eyed adults who never seemed to get over that one dream, that one thing that dogged them their whole life.

Benny remembers it all, up until the day his three best friends stared at him from the kitchen, his boxes stacked behind him. And with a throw away promise that he'd take care of the rent for the loft, and a succinct farewell that in now way reflected everything he had seen and been through, and everything they meant to him.

And beautiful Mimi danced into his life, and then their lives, a combination of everything tragic and everything hopeful, and gathered up the threads of their shared history and collected their stories.

Mimi has stories of dancing and singing until dawn, of sitting on the fire escape with a cigarette in one hand, and the second half of some book clutched in the other hand. There was music, alcohol, laughter, tears, and hours of insignificant actions that she wants back now.

And with each passing day, the stories we say.

"I'll tell you if you tell me," Benny says lightly and she offers him a grin, her eyelids heavy.

"You first," she says thinly and settles back, like a child being tucked into bed.

"Well, I met Mark and Maureen in a bar… she was trying to crack onto Collins, of all people," Benny began. The lights in the hallway dimmed as he kept telling her everything he could remember – happy, sad, inane – the machines buzzing softly.

His mouth is dry and it's late when he finally stands, gathering his jacket in his arms. Mimi sleeps, her head lolling on her shoulder, her breathing shallow. She's been asleep for hours now, but he needed to speak. The girl who taught him to treasure his life, his friends, through all faults, the girl with the glitter in her hair and stars in her eyes, lies before him, dying slow enough that her pain is almost tangible, but so fast there's not enough time to say everything that needs to be said.

He leans over, sliding the oxygen mask back over her mouth, pressing a kiss to her forehead and slips from the hospital room, the florescent lights humming around him, in time with the machines that keep Mimi clinging on another day.

Acknowledge the past as lessons exquisitely crafted.