A/N: Here's the second of my RENT one-shots. I should mention that I very, very rarely write in first person, but it was the easiest way to write this particular one-shot. However, I'm not sure how happy I am with this one, probably since I'm not the greatest at first POV. Nevertheless, here is angsty Mark trying to carry on when everyone else is gone. Please let me know if you find any grammatical/spelling errors so that I can correct them! Enjoy!


It's been years since I've looked at it. My "great work". I hold it reverently in my hands, blowing the dust off and setting it into the projector, counting the years, each of them more painful than the last.

I turn the switch on the projector and retreat, sinking down onto the couch as the memories flood back.

Today 4 U. A film by Mark Cohen.

All it takes is the first clip rolling across the screen and I feel the tears prick the corners of my eyes. But the corners of my lips tilt upwards at the same time, because God, that was the best year of my life and they were the best friends any person could ever have.

And now they're gone. I watched Mimi slip away in Roger's arms not three months after we found her in the park. We stood around Collin's bed a year later.

I held Roger's hand as he took his last breath.

Maureen and Joanne moved halfway across the country and they call, but it's not the same.

I'm alone, and all I have left is this film.

You know, I think it really is my greatest work. I captured life with my camera. They were all alive, living to the fullest extent. Smiling, laughing, dancing, singing, living.

And inside, they were dying. You can't tell by looking at them on this screen. They look like they haven't a care in the world. They laugh and they smile and they love and they breathe. But inside they were dying. Being eaten away by this goddamned disease, that tore at them bit by bit, eroding them until there was nothing left. It was like poison, spreading through them, consuming all of the life in them until there was nothing but cold, bitter death.

Death that I stood by and watched, helpless to stop it.

But I have these few, brief moments of pure and utter life. Being able to watch them now, being able to close my eyes and remember and smile—God, I haven't smiled in so long—is worth it. Knowing that I was there, that I was just as alive as they were makes it a little easier.

While the images roll, I can live again.