Disclaimer: The characters of Mark and Mimi are a product of Jonathan Larson. I'm just borrowing them for awhile.
Note: Much love and thanks to my lovely BETA, Sara. Without her direction and eye for detail, this fic would have been a lot shorter, with a lot less heart. This is my first Mimi centric fic so please let me know how I am doing. This is a three part fic, so if you want to get an ending, please review!
Let Tonight Be Tonight
"I am not going ballroom dancing! Let alone taking lessons with old creepy people who have been doing it for centuries!"
"Why not? What else do you have planned?"
"I didn't even give you an exact date, how the hell do you know you're busy?"
"Because I'll make sure I am."
"Please! Just for one week. Three classes take one week and after that you never have to do it again. For me baby? Please!" Mimi whined in frustration as Roger refused to entertain her request for even a moment.
"Why do you need classes for dancing? It's what you do for a living, I don't understand it. Why are you going to spend money on doing what makes you money?" Roger shook his head and heaved his guitar case over his shoulder. He looked around the loft distractedly and Mimi just knew she had lost his attention.
Once Roger's eyes met her own again, Mimi felt her stomach clench. He looked at her like a dismissive parent would their imaginative child, writing off her babblings in his own mind as nonsense. It was all there in his eyes, and Mimi could read him like a worn out novel.
When she first read the advertisement on the train, Mimi could barely contain her excitement. Her relationship with Roger had been slowly falling apart and she longed for something they could share together that was not a mattress.
Mimi recalled several occasions where Roger would ask her to come to a show because he wanted her involved. Even if she wanted no part in the matter, she would go in an instant each time. All he had to do was ask, and she would jump to his whim. She finally found something that she wanted to share with him and all he could do was shut her out.
As she stared into Roger's aloof green eyes, Mimi felt the pieces that remained of their bond shattering.
Roger would constantly disregard her like she was a juvenile rather than his lover. And she hated him for it more and more each day.
"Why do people spend money on going to school after college?" Mimi shouted exasperated, motioning with her hand for Roger to answer.
"Because…" Roger replied slowly, searching the loft with his eyes for clues.
"It's the same idea. The kind of dancing I do is way different from ballroom dancing. When I dance, I do it to turn my audience on, because the hotter they are, the fatter the tips they give," Mimi was cut off when Roger pointed at her accusingly.
"Don't get me started on that one!" Roger said in a harsh tone. Mimi watched as his eyes darkened, and she grinned evilly.
"What, Rog? You knew I was a stripper when you met me and my job hasn't changed in the," she looked up to the peeling ceiling of the loft and counted on her fingers, "What? Two years we've been together? It's a little late to be uptight about my choice of employment now." Mimi stated simply. Despite herself, she was slightly amused at his misplaced arrogance and she smiled.
"I guess." Roger said dejectedly and sighed. He smirked and Mimi had no doubt it was at his own foolishness.
The mood steadied itself in a matter of seconds and Mimi wished that she had some control over it. She could never stay mad at Roger for long, even when she wanted to. It made things harder on her mentally and emotionally, especially as she had been teetering on her breaking point in recent months.
"Ballroom dancing is nothing like what I do," Mimi sighed whimsically and closed her eyes, "ballroom dancing is artistic and, what's the damn word? Elegant? Anyway, it's an art form and it's cute for couples to do together."
"More like autistic, besides only old people dance like that," Roger quipped and Mark snickered from his place on the window sill.
Mark had been sitting in his usual content silence, or at least Mimi always thought he looked content when he was like that. He would sit in one spot for hours; the only sound to come from him was usually a small snort or a sound of comprehension.
Whenever Mimi would do her nails on the tattered couch, she would observe Mark as he read. She marveled at how focused he could be on the pages in front of him, how they seemed to hold switches to his emotions. One page his blue eyes would widen in surprise, and the next they would have that familiar twinkle that was usually accompanied by a smile.
Mimi found herself wondering how Mark could do it though. How could he be emotionally caught up in a book, when she could barely find the physical passion in her relationship with Roger? She wondered if she should start reading more.
"Sorry," Mark said weakly. His eyes shown through with laughter as he looked up at his friends. He put his head back down and resumed reading,
"Alright, Mark," Roger said, with a hint of finality in his voice. Mark's head shot up in surprise and he looked at Roger quizzically. "Who's right?"
A familiar jolt of irritation hit Mimi when she heard Roger ask Mark for his opinion. She could care less that he dragged poor nervous Mark into the situation, which was not the issue. It was how he asked him.
Roger's voice was so disgustingly presumptuous that Mimi had to stop herself from screaming. He would always sound like that when he thought he was winning, and Mimi had become disappointed that everything was a battle to win. To anyone else, it sounded like Roger was playfully bantering with his girlfriend and friend. But to Mimi's trained ear his voice held a hint of dominance that had become unattractive to her.
Mark's eyes darted between Mimi and Roger timidly, he seemed to be gauging what option was less likely to get him yelled at. Mimi was often surprised by how the most mature person in the loft was the one who acted the most like an insecure teen when he was put on the spot, she always felt it was one of Mark's more endearing qualities.
After a moment of internal debate, Mark seemed to regain his composure.
"Well," Mark began slowly, as he closed his book, "She's right, Rog."
Roger looked at his friend in shock and Mimi could not keep the smug smile off her face. She did not like how he made everything into a battle, but she loved when she won them.
"Traitor." Roger said as he adjusted his hold on his guitar case.
"I know, I know! But listen, ballroom dancing is on a completely different scale than other kinds of dancing. I know you don't want to try cause you think you'll look like a dork, but you might find it to be more of a challenge than you think. You never know." Mark shrugged and looked to Mimi with sympathy.
"I don't like dancing." Roger stated.
"I said, 'you never know.'" Mark replied, using air quotes when he repeated himself.
"I know I don't like dancing." Roger said as he narrowed his eyes playfully at Mark.
"You never do it so how do you know?" Mark asked, raising an eye brow in mock suspicion.
"I know I don't do it because I know I don't like it." Roger justified and stuck his tongue out at Mark.
"But how do you know unless,"
"I know you two need to stop this because it's too confusing and my head hurts!" Mimi ordered and both men closed their mouths promptly. A stare down commenced between all three of them, eyes flickering back and forth. Roger tried to muffle a laugh and failed, the sound in turn made Mimi and Mark laugh as well.
"See," Mimi motioned a hand over to Mark once the laughter had died down. "Thanks for the back up."
Mark nodded and looked back down into his book, vanishing into the drab scenery.
"Why, why are you pushing this now?" Roger asked as he picked up a small notebook and shoved it into his jean back pocket.
Mimi saw him reach for his amplifier and she quickly leaped over to it, straddling it and as a show of force batted his hand away each time he reached for the handle.
Mimi placed her hands on her hips and the exotic dancer widened her eyes. She pouted her full lips and stared up at Roger sweetly.
"You really don't know why I am asking today?" Mimi purred and ran a hand up Roger's leg. Roger shook his head and stood straight up, admiring her cuteness as she hinted and pouted her way to a point. "What's tomorrow, Rog?" Mimi questioned, her voice holding an edge that Mark typically verbalized as the sound of Roger's fate being sealed. Roger shrugged. "It comes once a year," she motioned her hand, rotating it in a circle. "Everyone has one…"
A look of complete confusion took over Roger's face and Mimi knew that their time was coming to an end as a couple. And she decided that it would be sooner rather than later.
"I got nothing." Roger shrugged and Mimi got up from his amplifier being sure to keep her face even and not let on to her disappointment. "Love you, babe. I'll be home after the set list." He gave Mimi a peck on the cheek and walked out the door.
Mimi snapped her head over to Mark, who was peering cautiously over the top of his book.
"Was I being a bitch?"
"Was I being too coy?"
"Was I dropping all the right hints and he still couldn't piece two and two together?"
"Yep, that would be the ever romantic styling of Roger Davis." Mark sighed, closed his book, and let his head fall back against the window pane.
Mimi plodded rather sadly over to him and sat down a few feet away. She folded her legs under herself and started playing idly with a lock of her curly black hair. She looked defeated and broken, and at that moment she hated Roger for being able to put her in that state so effortlessly.
"Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to learn how to ballroom dance. Or at least be in that scenario, with the gowns and the music. I wanted to look like Cinderella and be a princess for a night, you know?" she asked, looking to Mark expectantly as she cocked her head to the side.
"Sort of, well, without the looking like a princess part. Besides, my legs are too scrawny to look any good in a gown," Mark's dead panned delivery was something that Mimi treasured. Anytime she would come to him and lay out her problems, he always had a comment that made some of the aggravation ease away.
Mimi's nose scrunched up as she laughed and Mark smirked knowingly. She enjoyed her talks with Mark for many reasons, but the main one was that he was different with her.
Mark was either a smart ass or completely detached in most situations. Unless he was with her, then he was silly and willing to talk about himself. It was a rare occurrence for other members of their inner circle to witness.
"I wanted someone to be taken a back by how pretty I was and, and I wanted that kiss at midnight, before I poofed away!" Mimi laughed at herself and Mark smiled warmly at her. "I know I sound crazy."
Mark shook his head, the familiar warm smile never fading. "Not at all! Maybe the part about 'poofing' away is a little odd, but every one has those kinds of dreams at some point."
"I guess," she shrugged her shoulders and looked down at her crossed legs.
"No seriously, I can prove it. When I was about ten, I started playing piano," Mimi's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Yes, I too can make music, not just Roger. Anyway, I would always have this image of playing in front of a huge hall of people."
Mark opened his arms wide and stood only to then squat down as if he was sitting on a bench. He began moving his hands in rhythm with each other, playing a piano that no one could see.
"I would play these real long compositions of mine in my living room, but in my head there were thousands of people watching me. And at the end, I would rise from my seat, and the final notes would echo through out the hall." Mark stood up straight and stuck his nose up in the air, feigning the look of an upper class gentleman. He followed the look by placing his hands behind his back, and taking a dramatic bow.
Mimi laughed loudly and Mark smiled at her, breaking his stuck up pose only for a moment. "And then what would your adoring fans do?" she snickered and closed her eyes, allowing her mind to see what Mark was describing.
"Well, then, a slow applause would begin before it erupted into a standing ovation. And roses and flowers would litter the stage. Carnations, love letters, words of praise, all of them would be tossed at me. Maybe even the occasional bra or two, what can I say, I was ten!"
The pair fell into a fit of giggles at that point. Mark sat back down and Mimi took deep breaths to steady her body.
"So like I said, Meemz, everyone has those kind of dreams."
"You're good at narrating, don't ever give it up." Mimi said, her voice finally even from the laughing stint they had.
Mark's cheeks tinted a light pink at the compliment and he nodded. "I try."
"You succeed, I was there with you just now…I could even feel the bras whizzing past my head! Good stuff, boy." They exchanged smiles and fell into a comfortable silence for a moment. "So, why did you stop playing and writing music?"
"Well, it was a combination of things. One being my dad…" Mark looked down and Mimi prepared herself for one of those glimpses of Mark that others rarely saw. "he had this whole idea that piano was a girl's instrument. Cindy played for hours at a time, and she was praised for it. But when I would play, my dad would bitch at me for not becoming an Eagle Scout like him."
"What an ass!" Mimi said, as her mouth hung open in surprise. "Here I was thinking you were the golden boy."
"Hardly!" Mark sighed, rolling his eyes. "I was always a fuck up to him, he ridiculed me so much that I just stopped playing when he was around. Which led to me playing less and less, until I didn't play at all." Mark shrugged and he looked to Mimi from the corner of his eye. He then stared at the coverless paper back he held in his hands, flipping it over to distract him.
"That's too bad," Mimi said. She could almost see the sharing side of Mark fading before her eyes. He looked lost as he bit his lip with worry in his eyes; Mimi thought it was because he hardly ever spoke about his past. "What about writing?" she inquired, adding a bubbly note to her voice to get him out of his nervous state.
"As far as writing, I haven't stopped, I just don't do it that much, and I usually tuck it away when I do write so no one ever sees it. It's never anything big. Just a melody or two."
"I'd like to hear you some day."
"Possibly. Don't tell anyone about it though, if Roger finds out, he'll hound me until he gets to play every last piece of it. And then he'll drama queen at me about how I never told him I played and make me feel like a shitty best friend for not telling him."
At the mention of Roger's name, Mimi's face lost some color and her bright eyes darkened. Mark's eyes widened in realization and Mimi cast her eyes downward. The last thing she wanted was her friend walking on egg shells, which she knew Mark would do in a second if it meant keeping someone else happy.
"Roger," Mimi sighed and began playing with her hands nervously. "I hope he was just playing dumb, and that he isn't really that forgetful. I mean, I don't expect everyone to know, but he is my boyfriend. I shouldn't have to hint around a million times to get him to acknowledge the one date he is obligated to remember –not the way someone who I'm supposed to be spending the last of my days with should act."
Mimi looked up just in time to see Mark's mood completely deflate. She tended not to mention the fact that she and Roger's days were numbered when she was around Mark. He would get a look in his eye that reminded Mimi of a kitten, wide eyed and frail.
"Maybe he isn't the one you should spend the rest of your days with then…" Mark said it slowly, his voice was a little louder than a whisper, but it was said. Mark slammed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose. He let out a huff of air and turned to Mimi, a red tinge dominating his pale face.
Mimi and Mark's eyes met for a brief second before they both looked away. But in that second Mimi saw something in Mark's eyes. It was unlike any look he had given her before.
Mark was vulnerable and more importantly, he had done it by accident.
Mimi concentrated on the image in her head of Mark's face. He was surprised, which lead her to believe that in his boggled Mark mind he let something slip. But what did it mean to him? Was he mad at himself for telling her to leave his best friend? Or was there more to it than that?
Mimi had not wished to voice the obvious thought that lingered in the air, but was secretly glad that Mark had. It would not be an easy thing to dwell on, but she knew in her heart what she would have to do.
"I have to start living for myself."
Mimi heard a voice call out to her just as she was about to take a corner. After a long day of dancing, she hoped it was not one of her regular customers hoping to get more from her. She was thankful her boss gave her the early shift, knowing she could get help easily in day light if it was a pushy client.
Mimi squinted as she passed under a bright street light. She could see a shadow coming towards her with a guitar case on its back and her heart raced.
Mimi had been intending to completely avoid Roger until she sat him down tomorrow. She could not bear to deal with him on the one day that was hers and hers alone. She only wanted to go home and have a night to herself before she set out on her emotional roller coaster the next day.
A weight sunk into her stomach as Mimi put on her 'customer service' smile. The one she gave at the club as they slid bills into her thong. She felt cheap and dirty giving Roger the same smile she gave them. She felt sick knowing he would not notice a difference.
"Hey, you." Roger grinned, the rock star smile that once drove her crazy now made Mimi cringe inside.
"Hey," she smiled tightly, batting her eye lashes for added effect. "Let me guess, show at the Life?"
Roger nodded excitedly. "Yea, but I have to play the whole night. I guess someone rented the place for the night and they need some entertainment. Good pay though."
"That's great." Mimi said, waiting for Roger to say something else. Maybe even acknowledge the date.
"I got to get going though, don't wait up for me and be careful if you go out. Love ya!" Roger said and gave Mimi a quick kiss on the lips before he jogged off.
No passion. No heated gaze. Not even a hug.
"No candle…the fire is out," Mimi thought sadly as she walked home. Part of her wanted to cry, to mourn the loss of her relationship. But a bigger part of her understood what had happened.
Mimi felt like she had not been dating Roger for sometime emotionally. Physically it was there. They touched, held hands, even kissed. She even loved him, but she could feel in her heart she was not in love with him anymore.
Mimi was happy for Roger, he was playing music again, getting acoustic gigs that put some food on the table, but even more than that, he was happy. But the exchange was Mimi's sadness. She never saw him and hardly talked to him much beyond ten minutes at a time. She found it difficult to remember the last time they had cuddled let alone had sex.
Mimi knew that she did love him, but the deep needful love she once possessed just was not there anymore. She saw a peppy blonde flirt with him last week, popping gum and twirling her hair, but felt nothing. Mimi had tried to convince herself that she was aware that it came with having a rock star boyfriend, but she knew there was more to it than that.
Mimi was bored, and she needed more in her day than a couple kisses as they were heading out the door.
She promised herself that after today she would talk to him. Being blown off on this one day was the last straw for her. If she was to stay sane and happy, it had to be the last straw.
Mimi trudged up to the loft, hating the sound of her heavy heels on the stairs. She had been living with Roger and Mark for a few months now because, they realized supplies were shared between their homes anyway.
Mimi would buy food for her apartment, and end up cooking in the loft for the boys. Roger would make a few extra dollars, and patch up the leaky ceiling in the loft only to spend the night with Mimi. Mark would sell a handful of photos to an ad company and bring home hot chocolate which Mimi drank most of in the loft.
Over the course of time the three had decided that sharing a space would make the most financial sense.
Mimi dropped her duffel bag to the floor and pulled out her small key ring. It contained a key for the dressing room at work, a key to her old apartment, and a key to the loft. The frustrating part was, all the keys looked the same. On the third try, she got it right, gathered her things and stepped inside.
She shrugged out of her coat and let it drop to the floor; she made a personal vow to pick it up later, though she knew she wouldn't. This was her day to do whatever she wanted to.
And damned if she wanted to pick up her coat.
Mimi walked into the bathroom and found a white envelope attached to the mirror with her name written on it in cursive. She took it and tried to analyze the writing, it was unfamiliar. Her first initial thought was Roger, but she knew he couldn't write in cursive. Her second thought was Mark, but she had barely seen his writing and could not imagine why he would leave her something like this.
She opened the envelope and slipped out a note, which simply read:
Under your mattress in the red box.
Mimi smiled at the mystery and cocked her head to the side. Again she stared at the writing, names came to mind but none of them stuck. She thought maybe it was Roger and he had someone else write the note, but that would be giving him too much credit. She decided to give up on the writing, and went into her room.
Mimi crouched down by the side of her bed and reached a hand under carefully. She pulled out a rather big red box, noticing it was on its side, she put it upright. The box was tall and wide, and had beautiful golden script on it. She read the title on the box, 'Fabricated Moments', and recognized it as a fancy clothing store from Time Square.
Mimi took off the lid to find another note underneath; it had an address and another small note:
Give this address to the black cab that is waiting for you down the stairs.
It's already paid for, get dressed, I'll see you soon.
Mimi felt her heart pounding in anticipation as she shoved away the tissue paper in the box. The first thing she saw was a pair of lilac colored high heeled shoes. She quickly slipped one onto her foot and was amazed to feel how perfect it fit her.
She held the other shoe up close to her face and admired the satin fabric that covered it. Her fingers traced the buckle and then the heel. The heel of the shoe was only about an inch, not nearly as dramatic as the ones she was used to wearing on stage.
Slipping the one shoe off and placing them both to the side, she dug her eager hands through more tissue paper. Her fingertips felt fabric and her heart skipped a beat. Grasping the cloth in her hand, she slowly rose to her feet.
Mimi pulled out a long flowing satin lilac dress that matched the shoes perfectly. Holding it up to her slender frame with shaky hands and shivered at the feel of the cool fabric against her heated flesh.
Mimi's fingertips examined the strapless gown carefully. She held it out in front of her and stared in awe at the diamond shaped opening in the middle of the dress. The opening would start between her breasts and dip all the way down to reveal her navel, before it closed itself off again. The lower half of the satin gown came up to her knees in the front and trailed down to the floor in the back.
"Whoever you are, you've gone through a lot of trouble," she said to herself.
The cab ride seemed to go on forever, and Mimi had no idea where she was, or where her destination was. She bit her lip and tried to steady her heart beat at every turn the cab took.
The cab was not a traditional cab, nor was the driver a loud skuzzy New Yorker. It was an all black Cadillac, with leather interior, and the driver was a man in his early forties dressed in a suit in tie.
"I have a question for you." Mimi said, breaking the silence in the quiet car.
"Yes, ma'am?" he responded, making eye contact with her through the rearview mirror.
"Do you know the name of who set this up? Or where exactly I'm going?"
The driver smiled and winked. "I know the answer to both those questions, but I'm under strict orders to not say a word."
Mimi worried her lip for a moment before speaking again. "What if I ask you questions and you don't tell me his name? Compromise?"
The driver smiled and drummed his fingers against the steering wheel, "He told me you would try this, and he said I could answer a few things, but only enough to get you thinking."
Mimi flashed a bright smile and nodded. "Alright, umm… How much are your services costing him?"
The driver shook his head, "Not a dime, I owed this guy a favor. He helped set me up with this job so it was the least I could do for him."
"Hmm, okay that didn't help much. I'm guessing if I gave you a name even if I was right you couldn't tell me, huh?"
"Clever girl. I can't tell you anything that may give his identity away. Only bits and pieces of stuff if you ask the right questions."
Mimi had a rather difficult time coming up with questions to ask that were not too personal, so she shot in the dark. "What did he tell you about me?"
The driver looked at her and smiled softly, then turned his eyes back to the bustling streets of New York.
"He speaks very highly of you. He thinks you're talented, beautiful, charming, and smart. Basically he thinks the world of you. He didn't say this to me at any point outright, but by the way he talks about you, I'd say he's in love with you."
Mimi's dark skin did little to hide her blush. She stared, detached, at the parked cars as they drove past them.
On the one hand, if it was Roger she would have to rethink some of the things she had promised herself she would do in the morning. On the other hand, if it was anyone else, her life was about to get become severely more complicated, or possibly even happier.
"Miss?" The driver's voice snapped Mimi out of her musings. He handed her an envelope and placed his hand back on the wheel.
She swallowed hard and slid out what appeared to be a letter, her eyes darted to the bottom of the letter first hoping to find a name. Instead she saw it read: I'm waiting for you… With a deep breath she began to read.
I know the fact that you probably still have no idea who I am is driving you crazy. And I am sad to tell you, I am probably not who you are expecting or wish me to be. I hope that doesn't lessen the fun of this for you.
I want you to know that in the time I have known you I have been admiring you from a far, not at all in a creepy way, I swear! I've seen your heart and it pains me to see when it's breaking. I am not trying to swoop in on you because you are vulnerable, and I am by no means asking for anything to come of this. My only desire is that you let tonight be tonight, and if you choose to talk about it tomorrow, then that is a choice all your own. I am taking a great risk in doing this; everything could change for me regardless of what you choose to do after this ends. But I am willing to face the music in light of my actions.
When you enter, there will be a lot of people, some of which you may know, Max, the driver, will escort you inside. I will answer every question you ask of me once we meet, only after I ask you some of my own.
Get ready for your ball, princess. I'm waiting for you…
Mimi looked up to find the cab had come to a stop in front of a large brick building. The driver got out and walked around to Mimi's door and opened it. She took his offered hand and stepped in awe onto the side walk.
"Wow…" Mimi murmured, gathering the train of her dress as she stepped out of the vehicle.
"That's what I said."
The two nodded as Max, the cab driver, led Mimi inside the large rosewood arched doors.
To Be Continued...
a/n: There are two more chapters in this story. They are all ready written and ready to post. However, you guys need to tell me your reading. Please review! Whether it's a scene you liked, or a snippet of dialogue please tell me.