I don't really know where this came from. I wrote Mantra and I wanted to write an extension to it. It was just gonna be a single scene, based on a paragraph that I really liked. So I wrote that scene, and then another, and another, and ended up with... this. I'm only posting the first chapter right now, because I need some time to edit the other chapters (not to mention write the ones that are still floating around in my head). I hope it's decent. Actually, I fairly dislike the first chapter, but it's necessary. You know, introduce the plot and all. It gets better. Please read/review - love it, hate it, want to burn it in a fiery pit of snakes, whatever, let me know. Thanks. :-)

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine, sadly. I promise to take good care of them, though.

This is dedicated to Kait and Sandy. insert cheezy, sentimental thoughts here

Through My Blood

By Alison

Chapter One: Wide Awake

“Where have you been?” My voice was tired, a vague blend of anger and annoyance splashed with worry. It was the same every time: I waited up until three, four AM, she waltzed in eventually with an apologetic smile and another lame excuse.

“Sorry I'm late,” she murmured, biting her black-polished thumbnail nervously. “I was really busy at the club tonight.”

“Busy doing what,” I asked dully, “making out with the customers?”

Mimi's lower lip jutted out like it always did when she got indignant. Funny -- I used to find that so endearing. Now it was just one more flaw to add to the ever-growing list.

“I wasn't cheating on you!” She adopted a defensive stance, her arms crossed tightly and her head cocked to the side. “Don't you trust me at all?”

“No,” I shot back. “I don't. You've cheated on me before, why should now be any different?”

“I can't believe this,” she huffed. “It was a year ago, get over it already!”

I rolled my eyes. “Fine, you weren't having sex, you were out shooting up, or getting drunk, or doing God knows what else there is to do in the East Village at two o'clock in the morning.”

“You know what?” Mimi turned abruptly, her high heeled boots loudly hitting the floorboards as she stomped over to the door. When she reached it, she paused to face me again. “You're a jealous asshole, Roger, and you can't stand the fact that I might have things to do that don't involve you!”

She always did this, twisted everything around so that it was my fault. “Now I'm a jealous asshole, huh? Well if you hate me so damn much, why the hell are you still with me?”

“Maybe if I wasn't permanently attached to your leash, I wouldn't be!”

Scowling, I retorted, “I just want to be sure my girlfriend isn't out fucking the landlord again!”

“Fuck you!” Before I could say anything in response, she was gone, the front door shaking on its frame from the force of her slam.

‘Fuck you too, Mimi,' I thought as I collapsed on the couch with a sigh. The entire conversation could have been a replica of the past week's argument. Or the week before. Same script, same cast, just like always. And once again I was left wondering, how much more time? How long before we both got sick of this game? Hell, I already was sick of it.

So why did I keep doing it?

It didn't matter now. She was gone. For how long, I couldn't predict. A few days maybe. It never lasted longer than that. And frankly, if it did this time, I wouldn't care. At least that would mean a few extra days before another inevitable breakup.

Across the living room, a door creaked open. “Hey Roge,” Mark called softly, “are you okay?”

He must have heard our fight; the entire building probably had. I shrugged and answered with a simple, unenthusiastic, “Yeah.”

The filmmaker crept closer. “What was it this time?”

“Same as always.”

Mark sat down beside me and offered a small, reassuring smile. “Don't worry, Roge. She'll come around, and then you two'll be as happy as ever.”

He knew as well as I did that Mimi and I were rarely happy anymore. Sure, the makeup sex was good, but after that our relationship was a constant stream of bickering, interspersed with lust-filled nights, until our next huge conflict. “I don't know,” I muttered.

“Of course she will, she always--”

“No, I know. She always comes back. And so do I.” I sighed, exhausted both physically and mental. “I just don't know if it's worth it anymore.”

Mark looked like he had been expecting this for a while. Maybe he had. Scooting nearer to me, he laid a hand gently on my arm. “You deserve happiness. And if you're not finding it, well...” He trailed off, shrugging. “Not everything lasts forever.”

I leaned back against the ratty couch cushion. He was always so patient with me. We'd had this talk countless times before, yet each time without fail, he was there with a dry shoulder and caring words. Why couldn't I be with someone like him?

A woman, of course. A woman like him.

“Want me to make you some ice cream? I'll put chocolate syrup on it,” Mark offered, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

I couldn't help the quiet laugh that escaped my throat, despite my bad mood. “And what exactly do you plan on doing with that chocolate syrup?”

“I've got tricks you've only dreamed of,” he teased. “Play nice and you might even get some whipped cream on top.”

“Ooh, now I'm interested!”

“I knew you would be.” He winked playfully before stealing away to the kitchen.

My earlier argument seemed a lifetime away. Who cared what Mimi had said or done? I had Mark now.

Well, not like that. Just as a friend. Although, I noted sourly, he'd probably be better for me than Mimi is.

Mark reappeared a moment later, carrying two bowls of rocky road. He handed me one, then sunk down onto the couch and leaned up against my shoulder. Suddenly my appetite disappeared. Since when did I start imagining Mark as more than a friend? That would be like dating my sister or something. Gross.

It took him a few minutes to notice that I hadn't touched my ice cream. “What's the matter, Roge?” he asked, glancing up from his own half-eaten bowl.

I shrugged. “Nothing.”

“C'mon, you can tell me.”

“I said, nothing!”

He was still for a moment. Then, before I knew what was going on, he lunged forward onto my lap and swiped my nose with whipped cream. I turned to glare at him, but his triumphant grin quickly melted my scowl away. Dammit, it was impossible to stay mad at that face.

“Oh, you're gonna pay for that,” I threatened, just as he flung another dollop of the sugary fluff at me. I scooped a hand into my bowl and smeared chocolate syrup and ice cream across the filmmaker's cheek. As I neared his lips, Mark opened his mouth and latched on to two of my fingers. Giggling, he started to lick the chocolate off of them, when I pulled away in horror.

What the hell was he doing? Trying to come on to me or something?

Mark didn't seem to understand why I wouldn't meet his eyes. Maybe he hadn't meant anything by the action. After all, it wasn't out of the ordinary for us to hug or lay on the couch together, so maybe he thought licking my fingers would be the same.

Then why was I getting so hot and bothered by it?

Fuck. Now that wasn't ordinary. This was Mark: my best friend, practically my brother. Even ignoring the fact that we were both men, it just wasn't right to have your hand in your best friend's mouth and actually enjoy it. You're a fucking pervert, Roger.

The filmmaker's lips dropped into a frown. “Are you okay?”

“I'm fine, alright?” I replied, too quickly, too tensely. Now he would know something was up. God, if he knew the kind of thoughts I'd been having... I jumped up from the couch and headed across the room as calmly as possible.

“Look, I--”

“'Night, Mark.”

Silence filled the air; I knew Mark was debating whether he should just let me be or press the issue. Finally he sighed in defeat as I reached my bedroom door. “Sleep well, Roge.”