Title: Letting Down
Author: Girl Who Writes
Pairing/Characters: Mimi; Mimi/Roger and Maureen/Joanne implied
Word Count: 1421
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst
Summary: She'll forgive them for not really wanting to help her, not enough to do it on her terms, anyway, and they'll forgive her for choosing to die the way she lived – fighting, independent and her way.
Disclaimer: Property of Jonathan Larson; I make no profit. This is for fun. The song lyric quotes used are from Josh Groban's "February Song".
Spoilers: Movie and musical.
Warnings: One supporting OC used.
Notes: Written for lj's rentchallenge - speed challenge 6. It originally contained song lyrics quotes from Josh Groban's "February Song", but they have since been removed on reviewer advice :)


It starts with a phone call from Mark's mother; Roger and Mark looked up from their coffee as the voice mail clicked in, Mrs Cohen's voice frantic and almost tearful, and Mark had gotten tangled in the phone cord when he dived to grab the phone, to calm down his mother.

She listens to Mark's side of the phone call; something is wrong with Mark's father, that Mrs Cohen wants Mark home as soon as possible.

Roger gives her a pleading look, trying to make her understand that he needs to go back to Scarsdale with Mark – this is something they need to face together because they ran away from it together.

She kisses him softly and offers him smiles, reassurances, and some tips she made at the club so that they can make their modern day pilgrimage back to Scarsdale and the scorned privilege they left behind.

Mimi watches them stuff clothes into filthy duffle bags, and sits by the window, wondering if any of her fragmented family would coming running to her side if she asked them nicely.

They'll be gone for seven days, and it's not like she can turn to anyone else during that time – Joanne dragged Maureen along to a conference in L.A., Collins is off doing guest lectures in Connecticut.

She goes to work, shoes pinching her feet and the lights beating down on her face. She twists around the pole in pink and black sequins and mesh, and wonders if she'd go home because of a phone call. If one of her fragmented family called her and asked her to come to someone's bedside, would she simply get up and go, or would she turn her head from the people who let her down so long ago?

She goes home to left over noodles that have formed some sort of glue on the plate, and she wraps herself in a blanket and pulls out her photographs. She slides the ones of Angel back into her box, because the smiling face in those pictures still breaks her heart, and Mimi doesn't want to be alone when she looks at those.

She finds the few crumpled ones she took with her when she left her home. Of her, staring into the camera, on her first day of school; with her three brothers on Christmas day; of her parents on their wedding day.

It is one that falls from the small pile before she can flick through to it that catches her unaware; the last picture taken, from an instant camera. All four Marquez children, almost grown, sitting on the steps of the old house, their arms around each other, grinning into the camera. She can see the bowl of oranges sitting next to her brother Tristan on the seat, his arms linked around her neck, her head against his leg.

It's like she's been transported back to that hot day. She can smell it – the scent of the city hovering around them, of the oranges Mama cut up for them and of the lingering, musty smell of sweat. She can hear her aunt calling out to them, telling them to stop being sullen teenagers, to please smile!

Weeks later, and she was walking out the door with a fistful of photos and a lifetime of allowance in her back pocket.

She goes looking for loose change all over the loft. She finds one of Maureen's shoes, two important pieces of Joanne's paperwork shuffled amongst Roger's half written music. But she finds almost three dollars in quarters and it feels like an omen.

She works out the hours between Los Angeles and New York and waits till midnight before she ventures onto the street. She doesn't want to do this in the loft, she wants to be more anonymous; she wants to be the girl who walked out of the family house five years ago, in a fit of anger and pain.

She presses the numbers on the phone slowly, leaning against the phone booth. As the phone rings, she rifles through her bag for a cigarette. Something to hold and move and use.

"Hello?'

"Tristan, it's me."

"I'm sorry?"

"It's me, Tristan. Mimi."

"I'm sorry, this is Tristan Marquez, I think you have the wrong number."

"Mimi, Tristan. Your sister."

There is silence, and she half hopes he missed that last part, but Lady Luck has never been a close personal friend.

"Mimi…" his voice is soft. "How did you know where I was?"

"You used to go on and on about L.A…" Mimi takes a drag of her cigarette and ignores her beeper going off, reminding her to take her AZT.

"You always were clever at finding people." And even better at disappearing, they both leave unsaid.

"How are you, Tristan?" she blurts out, twirling the cigarette in one hand, and wonders if she'd be justified breaking open a bottle of something strong and cheap back in the loft after this.

He talks, his voice laced with pride but sounding like it comes from a great distance. He has an education, a job, a potential wife, a shiny car and his health.

She covers her mouth to cough as he finishes his spiel, and Mimi wonders if he ever considered a career as a used car salesman. She wonders if he's ever sat on a park bench with his best friend, staring up at a midnight sky, the stars lost to the bright lights and dark heart of the city. She remembers her and Angel making up their own constellations, sharing a cup of coffee and a donut between them.

"How are you, Mimi?"

"I…" She pauses, and she wonders if she's missed Roger's nightly call to remind her to take her AZT. "I'm still in New York. I'm a dancer. I live in a loft with a film maker and a song writer, and sometimes an anarchist. Last Wednesday, I went with a friend to Tompkins Square Park and helped lead a protest against the way the city treats the homeless. And I'm HIV positive."

The protest was fun. Maureen painted their faces and they yelled and screamed and abused the Man. The police came, and Maureen was hurled away, still cheerfully spreading her message. Maureen didn't want a utopia; she thrived in a dystopia.

"HIV positive?"

"For the last three and a half years," she says proudly, but he mistakes her pride; for the last three and a half years, she's been dying, but she's still here, living, breathing and fighting her death sentence. Being strong enough to fight for the chance to freeze at night in a industrial loft, to dance for overweight businessmen, to skull beer, sitting on the roof between a musician and a movie maker.

"Jesus, Mimi."

He's disgusted and scared and angry all at once.

"Look, okay, I'll send you a plane ticket. You can come to L.A., stay with me, and we'll get you treatment. I'll call Mom and Dad…"

Mimi stubbed her cigarette out on the phone booth. No one will come running to her; she must pay penitence for needing them, and rush faithfully to their side, begging for their forgiveness for being a fighter, for being independent.

She hangs up on her brother's spiel of what they can do for her. There are no questions for how or why, or what she wants.

The phone rings again as she makes her way back to the loft. She'll forgive them for not really wanting to help her, not enough to do it on her terms, anyway, and they'll forgive her for choosing to die the way she lived – fighting, independent and her way.

She goes up to the loft, in time to hear the voice mail click in and Roger's voice filling the apartment.

"Hey babe, just reminding you to take your AZT. I know I'm nagging. Anyway, me and Mark will be back in two days, whether I have to kill old man Cohen just to pay for the train tickets… hey!... Mark says to tell you that I'm an insensitive prick and he deplores your taste in men…Mark, Mimi says you couldn't be gayer. 'Deplores'? Geez… no, it's the machine… I can tell you what Mimi's thinking! Hell, Mark, 'deplores'? Everyone is thinking it… Thank you, Cindy!"

Beep.