A/N: Thanks to all of you who reviewed this and enjoyed. Your comments encourage me to write more and make me feel like the effort is being well received. If you happen upon this story when it falls into the back of the archives, please show it some love. Enjoy!
As Mimi held the lilac shoes in her hand she thought back on the nights events and braced herself for what she had to do. Walking through the door barefoot and tired, she was met with the object of her mental dilemma.
"Hey, baby! You look good, where have you been all night?" Roger put his guitar to the side and began walking towards her, when he stopped himself. The look in her eye was not angry nor was it sad.
"I was out on a date with a friend. He took me out for my birthday," Mimi said the last word pointedly and watched as her boyfriend's face fell. "Roger, it's time we had a long overdue talk."
Roger nodded numbly as he braced himself for what was sure to be the last conversation he ever wanted to have with his dancer. He took her hand and led her into their bedroom, closing the door behind them.
"You're right…" his voice was weak and resigned, and Mimi was thankful. The less shouting there was the easier the talk would be on both of them.
Mimi knew she could not let her love disinterest carry on any longer. She loved Roger enough to admit it was over to him. But more importantly, she loved herself enough to admit she was no longer happy.
"So you're leaving me for, Mark?" Roger's voice echoed in Mark's head. His best friend sounded betrayed and Mark wondered how long it would be before he was beaten senseless and blamed for Roger's failing relationship.
"No, I'm leaving you for me. What Mark did tonight was amazing, but I had already planned on doing this." Mimi's voice was calm and collected. Apparently she had taken some of the things Mark had said to heart.
Mark quickly wrote off that notion. He knew how strong-willed Mimi was, if anything, he was just the icing on the cake for her.
"Fuck." Roger's voice sounded resigned. Mark hoped maybe he would not be getting beaten to a pulp tonight after all. That would be the preferable way to end his evening, not in stitches or in an ambulance.
"Don't hate him. He isn't the cause of this, I was going to do it anyway." Mimi sounded sincere and despite himself, Mark was hopeful.
"But, baby, there has got to be something I can do. Anything, I can't lose you again!" Roger said, sounding desperate and belligerent.
"Roger," Mimi said tiredly. "You don't love me anymore; you want me to stay because I'm familiar."
"That's not true! I do love you, I do. You can't do this to me again." Roger bellowed, a hiccup followed shortly after. Mark squeezed his eyes shut tightly, upset by his friend's pain. Mark knew Roger was a crier when it came to fighting with Mimi at least that was what she had told him. He assumed this fight was no different.
"I can't do this to you? Who left for Santa Fe? Who left me because they couldn't deal with seeing their junky girlfriend go through withdrawal?" Mimi said accusingly as her voice rose. "We've grown apart, too far to come back together. You treat me like a child, even after all the things I have done and seen. I can't live like that anymore."
"Bullshit! I tried to help you, but you kept using. And then who did you turn to? Oh yea, Benny! Way to boost my confidence," Roger said his tone angry and condescending. Mark felt his fists ball as he heard Roger pull out the Benny card.
"Oh, don't even give me that shit. Would you stop playing the Benny card?" Mimi shouted and Mark had to smile slightly.
"Great minds…" Mark muttered to himself as Mimi gained momentum.
"I was trying and all you could do was blame. Even now, all you do is blame the past. You think I don't wish I did things differently? I do. You act like you are the only one carrying baggage but your not! How much do you really know about me? Think about it, when was the last time you asked me a personal question, beyond 'how was your day?' or 'are you using again?'"
There was a long silence and Mark winced in sympathy for Roger.
"I never ask you if you are using, Mimi. I know you've been clean for over a year now." Roger argued his voice weak.
"No, you just stare at my arms and look for tracks. That's worse than asking. Better yet, what was yesterday, Roger?" Mimi asked, her voice dropping.
"What does it matter what day it was?" Roger questioned, his voice full of confusion.
"My birthday. That's why it matters. I turned twenty-one while you skated through your day, completely unaware of it." Mimi's voice was harsh and Mark could almost hear the tears falling down her face.
"Baby, I," Roger began and Mark heard footsteps, he assumed it was Roger moving to comfort Mimi.
"No," Mimi said firmly, the steps stopped abruptly. "Don't call me that anymore. I haven't been yours for a long time now. We barely touch or even kiss anymore." Mimi pointed out between quiet sniffles.
"We had sex,"
"When?" Mimi challenged.
"Last week…ish?" Roger tried, his voice rising in question.
"Try last month…ish." Mimi snapped coldly and Mark chuckled. She was such a fire cracker and Mark only hoped her sharp tongue would not be turned on him later. Mark gave up on trying to ignore the conversation, they were too loud and he was too tired to put forth the effort.
Dancing the night away with the girl of your dreams takes its toll Mark reminded himself.
"Sure we had sex," Mimi continued, "but it was all so mechanical and routine. And the scary thing is that I was almost comfortable with it. It was nice to not worry about the HIV, but I just assume cut penetration out of my sex life and be happy."
"Is he really worth giving up your sex life for?" Roger questioned, his voice gaining the cocky edge that Mark knew Mimi hated. Mark wondered if Roger's dominance would win out, leaving him alone to defend himself and salvage what would be left of two awkward friendships.
"He's worth making an honest attempt. Besides you know as well as I do that there are ways around it. Don't look at me like that, I'm done with you flipping the sexy switch to get me to forget about the fact that our connection isn't there anymore."
"Aw, c'mon, baby. You know you can't resist," Roger cooed and the floor creaked again, Mark had the image of Roger advancing on her in his mind.
There was a loud stomp before Mimi shouted, "If you come one step closer to me I will bury this heel in your fuckin' head!" The footsteps stopped and then moved backwards slowly.
"Mimi, I was just trying to," Roger said, the confidence stripped from his voice.
"No, Rog. Ya know what? You are always trying to. For someone that tries so damn much, you don't get a lot done. Now I tried real hard to do this the easy way, but apparently even that doesn't work with you. I'm done with you. If you wanna be friends after all this, you need to step off and take a hint. This is not a fight. This is a closing argument and I would appreciate it if you would stop treating me like some toy that you can replace batteries for. The fire is out, Roger. I'm sorry, but it's over." Mimi finished and Mark was reminded that his princess from the ball was from a rough neighborhood where aggression reigned supreme.
There was much that Mark knew about Mimi, but even more that he did not. She always came across as fun loving and daring, but there was an edge to her that Mark had observed during their talks. An edge that was dark and angry, it was always there, just under the surface. For the most part she kept it tucked away, but at moments like this, Mark admired her ability to tap into at the right time. Never letting her anger consume her, only fuel her.
Mimi was a beautiful paradox and Mark felt privileged that she shared her mysteries with him. Even if she did not always notice that she was sharing.
"Mimi, baby, you can't possibly mean that! Not after everything we've been through, you can't end it like this." Roger reasoned, the disbelief in his voice fading with each syllable.
"We are dying. As in, we are going to die. Do you really want to spend the rest of your time on Earth, fighting for something that isn't there? Because I can't do it, not anymore. The good times we had, were amazing. And I will always be here for you, but I'm not in love with you anymore."
There was a long pause and Mark wondered if Roger had vanished into thin air or if he was finding a blunt object to bring with him into Mark's room.
"Do you love him? Honestly?" Roger's voice was resigned as he voiced the question that hung in back of Mark's mind as well.
"It's too early to put a title on it…This has less to do with him than you think. You're his brother and I know it seems like he went behind your back, but there is a lot you don't know. You have no idea how many times he stopped me from running away after we fought, or how often he would tell me to talk to you. Please, don't hate him. If you ever loved me at all, ever knew me, know that this is my choice."
Mark shoved his head under the pillow, he had heard enough through the walls to know that it was not his place to be listening anymore. He would have an answer when Mimi was prepared to give him one, and to listen in any further may cheapen his delusions.
Or dreams. They could be dreams, and those come true every once in awhile, right? Mark thought as he wrapped the pillow tightly around his eyes and ears.
Mimi and Roger had been talking, not fighting; just talking about their relationship for somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours and it always fell back to Mimi defending Mark's actions, taking care to point out how unsure he was about even dancing with her.
Mark hated the walls for being so thin. He did not want to hear their conversation, and he definitely was not ready to hear Mimi detach herself from the evening.
Mark recalled all the smiles they had shared during their dance, and he remembered how sincere her answers had been before she knew it was him. He calmed and reassured himself that Mimi would not walk away from him as a friend, even if she did decline on a relationship in the future.
He wondered what the morning would bring.
Just as Mark began to doze off into dream land his bedroom door was opened. He flinched away from the light that was turned on and quickly fumbled for his glasses.
"Roger?" Mark panicked at the figure of his friend and found himself formulating excuses in his head.
"Mark, I talked to Mimi," he did not sound angry, that was a good sign. "I just wanted to tell you, I'm going to be moving into Benny's old room, and uh, if you and Mimi could not kiss around me for awhile, I'd really appreciate it."
Roger began closing the door before poking his head back in, "Oh, and I'm glad it's you. I couldn't deal with losin' her to a junkie or even a stranger. But I know you'll take care of her. And, I know you're not the reason she left me, so don't worry about me, hating you or anything like that. Just, don't get all panicky thinking you've lost me as a friend. It's gonna be a little weird for a bit, but truthfully, me and Mimi haven't been together for few months now. So, just, don't try to hard, like, getting me to talk and that kind of thing, cause I'm still you're friend, but this is going to take some time for me to get used to. But, umm…yea, good night."
The door clicked closed and Mark stared at the grain of the wood for a long while after his best friend walked out of it. When his head finally hit the pillow, he felt himself falling asleep even as his mind raced around Roger's brief 3 a.m. monologue.
When Mark woke up later that day, he shuffled into the living room to see Mimi curled up on the couch. She was staring at her reflection on the television and Mark shook his head as his stomach flipped.
"Hey," she whispered, a smile tugging at her lips.
"Hey, Meemz," Mark said, taking a seat on the weathered fabric a seat over from her.
"Look, Mark, about last night, I just wanted to say thanks. Not just for the dance lessons, but for everything. I'm still in some form of shock over it all, but it was most definitely the sweetest thing someone has ever done for me, and… I want us to be something, at some point in the near future. I just broke up with Roger and he knows everything and-"
"We just need to take it slow," Mark said, placing a hand on Mimi's shoulder and smiling. She nodded eagerly and brushed her cheek against his knuckles.
Mark reached for the remote and flipped on cartoons, within a few minutes, Mimi had curled into his side and his arm was draped over her shoulders. They fit together, there was no denying that.
And every time the cat on the screen was tricked by the mouse, Mimi laughed loudly and pointed at the screen, and Mark smiled at her joyfulness.
And every time Bugs outsmarted Elmer, Mark would slap his knee and comment about the practicality of the Bunny's ploy, and Mimi would smile at his innocence.
Mark turned his head and saw Roger shuffle out of his room into the kitchen. When Mimi let out a joyful squeal, Roger turned his head to the couch and caught Mark's eyes. A small, sad smile appeared on his face, yet he still managed to nod a greeting towards his roommate.
"I really don't see why she laughs harder at Tom and Jerry than Bugs Bunny," Roger said making his way over to the couch where his best friend and ex-girlfriend were cuddling.
"Because, Jerry the little mouse always wins! And he's so cute!" Mimi gushed and pointed at the brown mouse on the screen.
"Verdict is still out on which one is the mouse. I don't think it's ever clearly defined," Mark added, in the back of his mind he was waiting for Roger to morph into the Hulk and hit him. "Doesn't matter, Bugs Bunny is clearly the superior cartoon animal," Mark said, and was punched in the shoulder by Mimi.
Roger and Mark pounded fists in agreement and shared a smile as Mimi babbled onward about the cuteness of Tom and Jerry versus Bugs Bunny.
After a few minutes more of ragging on Mimi's favorite cartoon Roger went back into his room, leaving Mimi and Mark alone again. Mimi pressed a soft kiss to Mark's shoulder and wiggled herself deeper into his side. Every time a commercial hit they would look at each other and smile. And all either could privately think about was how explosive that first real kiss would be when the moment came for them to share it.