Disclaimer: you know the drill...blaaah blah blah.

A/N: for becca and cj. Without them, this story would have remained on hiatus (where it was having a wonderful time...went to Hawaii without me...) for a long, long time. Hmm…now that I think about it, that may have been a better choice. Crap. Let me know what you think. Oh yea. The title is for Joanne, Cj, and Shana (even though I know the latter won't read this)

I sit alone on the worn couch, bored out of my mind. Mark is at Maureen and Joanne's place, most undoubtedly listening to some awful performance-artist- war-story, and hating every minute of it. He had wanted me to come, but I pretended to still be asleep when he tried to wake me up. No offense to him, I love being with him...just...not there. Our VCR clock doesn't work, so I can't even count the minutes that pass me by...just stare at a blinking "12:00" until it becomes so blurry it doesn't even say "12:00" anymore. Normally, I'd be writing or playing, I just don't feel up to it. I force myself to stand and shuffle over to our meager entertainment system. I switch on the remote-less television, and am greeted with static. The luxury of East Village living hasn't quite hit me yet. I fumble under the stand for the set, scanning for a halfway decent movie to watch. In rearranging videos, searching for the copy of The Godfather I know we have, I stumble across Mark's notepad. The first page is full, and alludes to more on the inside. My conscience screams out, like a blaring security alarm. I hesitate in picking it up, but for some reason I feel inclined to read it. I also realize that it probably couldn't be any more life-altering than the last time I had read through his notebook. I know I shouldn't, but I do anyway. I skip through pages of scrawlings and scribbles and cross- outs until I see a neatly organized list. The list has no title, but starts immediately at the top of the page with bullets for each item. I look closer and skim my way down.

-the way his sweatshirt smells

-the way he's still holding me when I wake up

-the way he flops onto the couch when he's tired

-the look on his face when he has no clue what I'm talking about

-the way he knows when I have no clue what he's talking about, so he just kisses me and keeps talking

-the way he holds his guitar

-the way he tries to protect me

-the way his hair looks after a shower

-the way he knows I'm watching his face while we kiss, but he doesn't say anything

The list continues on, and I don't know what to say. It is possibly the single most amazing thing he's done for me, even though I wasn't even supposed to see it. I think about the exercise, then flip to a clean page and begin writing. After a few thoughts, they keep flowing and I have trouble getting them all down on paper. When I'm done, I rip out the sheet and put the notebook back where I found it. I walk into Mark's room and drop the paper on his bed before returning to my own. He'll find it when he gets home.

-the way he looks in his glasses

-the way he makes the coffee

-the way he pretends not to know he's cute

-the way he babbles when he's excited

-the way I can listen to him for hours even when I don't know what it means, just because it's important to him

-the way he puts up with me

-the way he keeps his eyes open when we kiss, and I can feel him watching me

-the way I would have been dead years ago if it weren't for him

The list continues on, and I pick at my guitar quietly while it waits to be read.

A little over an hour later, I'm still sitting on my bed, now resorted to strumming old songs, rather than picking out my own. I can hear the door to the loft thud as it closes, and footsteps head towards my door. It opens slightly and Mark's head pops in.

"Hey." He's a little out of breath from the stairs, and his face is flushed.

"Hey. How was it?"

"Eh...ok." He retreats into his own room and continues the conversation through the thin walls. "Maureen's planning some new scheme, Joanne's trying to get me to sign on for some commercial thing for her firm...it's some sort of..." He stops, his sentence trailing off. I figure that he's found the list, so I strum random chords, pretending not to notice. I begin fitting them into some sort of pattern when Mark comes through the door, list in hand. His facial expression is a little different than what I had expected.

"What the hell is this?"


"I can't believe you."

I'm thoroughly confused. I thought it was nice...romantic even. Apparently he doesn't think the same way. I stare at him blankly, waiting for an explanation, for something.

"You read my shit. Again. Did I not make it clear to you that my work is personal, and that I don't want you looking through it?"


"You what?"

I remain silent.

"That's what I thought. No pathetic excuses for why you went through my stuff after I told you not to. Jesus Christ Roger!"

"Mark...it wasn't even anything important!"

"Not important? Oh right, not important at all. Just like Your Eyes wasn't important. Because if I had read the lyrics to that before you'd ever played it, you wouldn't have cared, right?"

He stands directly in front of me, panting and staring with his hurt, accusing, angry eyes. I've never felt this small, this...wrong. But do I admit defeat? Of course not.

"God damn it Mark, it was just sitting there. If you don't want your shit read, don't leave it out."

"It doesn't matter where it is! It's mine! You have no right to even touch it, never mind read it!"

"What, I can't even touch your stuff now?" At the same time I'm trying to make some ridiculous point, he starts in on me.

"That's not the point! Shit Roger, you just don't get it!"

We argue at each other for a couple minutes, neither of us really knowing, or caring, what the other is saying. At what seems to be the peak of our argument, we're startled into silence by the ringing phone. I'm glad for the interruption, and storm out to pick up the receiver before we can screen, thus giving reason to shorten the break and continue our shouting match.

"Hello?" I answer, sounding snappy and gruff.

"Roger?" Great.

"Mrs. Cohen, how are you?" Mark snaps to attention.

"I'm good, thank you. Now where have you two boys been? Busy, or just screening?"

"Oh you know Mark," I say deliberately, stepping further away from him as we speak. "Always has to know who's calling."

"Hmm. I see his mother's phone call isn't a priority."

For some reason, I feel a tightening inside me when she says 'his mother'. I didn't think it would bother me this much, but I feel like she's some random stranger, and it angers me to hear her so arrogantly refer to herself as 'his mother'.

"Actually, had his mother called, I'm sure it would have been a top priority." Mark rages towards me, ready to rip the phone out of my hand and most likely shove it somewhere unwanted and unwelcome. However, I shoot him a glance to let him know he can calm down, I won't say anything that bad.

"Excuse me? I've called countless times, no one picks up!" She seems offended, and rightly so.

"I know you called. All I said was that had his mother actually called, he would have been sure to answer."

"What are you suggesting?" Her effort to keep things pleasant is slowly fading.

"I'm not suggesting anything. It's true, isn't it? You're not Mark's mother."

"I'm going to assume he told you. I may not be his biological mother, but I am, in all respects, his mother."

She infuriates me, and I realize why Mark avoids her at all costs. She doesn't know anything about being a mother. God, she doesn't know anything about Mark, yet she continues to demand her rights.

"Bullshit. Being a mother means taking care of your children. And I don't mean food and clothing and a seven hundred thousand dollar house. I mean caring. Making sure your child knows he's loved."

It's silent for a few seconds. Mrs. Cohen is presumably baffled, and Mark's staring at me. I can't tell if he's angry.

"What on earth makes you think I didn't love Mark? You have no right to just pretend-"

"I don't have to pretend anything. You really love him? You know what real love is?"

"Of course I do, I-"

"But you're disappointed in him."


"Right? You're disappointed in your son. The one you claim to love so much."

Mrs. Cohen hesitates, planning her response. " I am not disappointed in him. I am disappointed in his situation."

"Oh, his situation. Ok. What about it? That he's broke? That he's not commercially successful? That he's in a relationship with another man? That he's not Cindy?"

"What did you just say?"

"That he's not Cindy."

"No. Before that."

"Oh, that he's in a serious, romantic relationship with another man?"

Mark can't stop gaping at me, the look on his face somewhere between laughter and disbelief. I think he's finally given up on caring about what his parents think.

"That is absolutely ridiculous. Mark's not gay."

"That may be true. But either way, he's in love with a man."

"And how would you presume to know that?"

"Because I love him too."

"That's absurd. Mark would never-"

"Hey. Love it or leave it." I hang up the phone before she can respond, and turn to face Mark.

He's still shrouded in disbelief, and as I prepare for him to yell louder and longer than before, he strides towards me and plants a firm kiss on my lips.

"You're forgiven."


"How can I possibly stay mad at you after that? That was the most...ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You know she's frantically calling my dad right now."

"Didn't you know? It's protocol. A gay son requires at least two phone calls and one face to face interaction without the child. There will be countless others with you present."

He sighs disgustedly. "Great."

I step closer to him, the conversations seemingly over. "So."

"So. Nice try. We're not through with our discussion."

"Oh." Damn.

"Just...don't touch my stuff unless you ask and I say it's ok...alright?"

I might as well concede. "Yea. I'm sorry."

A/N: sorry about the abrupt ending and such...I'm not quite sure where this is going as of yet, and I'm just trying to get this chapter off my mind. Thanks for being so patient...if you're really nice and review, there might be a few more little somethin'-somethin's popping up sometime soon.