Title: Know It Or Not
Summary: People come and go in your life. You meet, you talk, they walk away. But sometimes they decide to stay. They seek you out. They become your friend. And whether you know it or not, they make an impact on your life.
Just a Note: If you guys have read my April and Mark rivalry fic, "Get a Life", you might recognize some of the events in here, but it's definitely not needed to read this. This was what came first, actually. Mark/Roger friendship, pre-RENT... sort of a rite of passage into RENT fanfiction, just like the April one. How Mark and Roger became friends (plus how Mark got his scarf). Enjoy!
Minicontest: Using dialogue, I have quoted several songs from RENT. Can you catch any of the references? Let me know how you did :) If you do, a virtual hug from any character you wish!
Disclaimer: "Cuz when you're living in America, at the end of the millenium!" (dun dun dun dun dun dun dun!) "You're what you own!" Well, I'm obviously not rent, I'm MauMaster, so I don't own Rent. Unfortunately.
Thank you, Jonathan Larson!
It was cold.
That was all Mark could really think about at the moment. It was cold and the sky looked pretty stormy. It made for an interesting shot, as he lay on the wooden (cold) bench and filmed the clouds – but it was still cold.
And, he realized as he ran his hand through his still wet hair, the clouds probably meant rain. Again. For crying out loud, he was still damp from the day before! Couldn't he get a break?
Thunder cracked and Mark winced. Apparently not.
"October 29th, no clue about the time…" he muttered into his camera. "It's going to rain again. And I still am outside. Mom is going to kill me when she finds out that I was on the streets. But it's not like I have money for an apartment! Or even a hotel! I probably should have taken some of my Bar Mitzvah money, but it never really occurred to me that as a poor, starving artist I would literally be poor and starving. Then again, it never occurred to me that –"
"That you're talking to yourself?" Mark sat up and spun around in such a flurry that he slid off the bench onto the hard concrete. He groaned and clutched his head with one hand, his camera with the other. "Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to scare you." Mark looked up. A guy, who probably was only a few years older than him, with long, blonde hair and a guitar, was smirking at him. He looked warm… well, warmer than he was. He had gloves, a scarf, a hat, and a coat. Mark only had a coat, and it happened to be a spring one, not a fall or winter one. It may have only been October, but the temperature was certainly low enough to need all the winter equipment.
"Um… it's all right." Mark stood up quickly. He probably looked like an idiot there, huddled on the ground. He hoisted his camera onto his shoulder carefully, filming the guy. Not that he knew, of course.
"You see all kinds of people around here," he shrugged. "But I didn't expect to see someone so passionate about a camera. Then again, I could be called a hypocrite." He gestured to his guitar. "My ex used to say that I was more in love with it than her."
"Is that why she broke up with you?" Mark asked, interested though it was none of his business. The guy shook his head slowly, thinking.
"No, she broke up with me because I got drunk and was making out with another girl."
"Yeah." He rubbed his jaw, as if remembering. "Literally." Mark laughed and the guy stuck out his hand in greeting. "I'm Roger."
"Mark," he responded, shaking the gloved hand. Roger winced.
"Do you have any body heat left in you at all?" he asked, surprised. "I can feel your hand through my glove. It's freezing."
Mark shrugged and hid a cough by clearing his throat. "Haven't really been inside for a few days. I'm fine, really."
Roger looked at him pitifully. "Seriously? That sucks. Do you have somewhere to go tonight? It looks like it's going to rain."
Mark shook his wet hair. "Been in it already. I'll find somewhere."
"There's this place where they hold Life Support meetings and there's a performance lot with a tent city, too. You could probably stay there tonight."
"Where is it?" he asked curiously. "That sounds like a good idea…"
Roger smiled as he gave him directions. Mark sighed in relief. He wouldn't have to be soaked to the skin for the second day in a row! He grinned back.
"Thanks," Mark told him sincerely. "I don't know what I would've done with my camera. Last night I was under a ledge somewhere, but I'm not sure I could find it again."
"You're not a city kid, are you?" he realized.
"From Scarsdale," he admitted. Roger's eyes lit up considerably.
"Really? My girlfriend – not the one that broke up with me, the one I was making out with, actually – says she's from there. Maybe you know her. April Ericcson?"
"April? Red hair?" He nodded. Mark shook his head in disbelief. "She's in New York, too?"
"She ran away."
Mark huffed in annoyance. "And here I am, thinking I was the only one. I've known April since we were in second grade. We were never friends, but still. She could have been considerate enough to bring me with her."
"April's never that considerate," Roger pointed out. Mark nodded in agreement.
"True. My parents were saying that nobody from Scarsdale ever ran away, that nobody else was such a 'disgrace' or such a 'hooligan'." He made sure to use air quotes around their words and grinned. "Guess they were wrong."
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," Roger said. Mark agreed with a grimace.
"I know." Thunder clapped again and a few drops began to fall. Mark looked at the ground for a moment, awkwardly. "I should probably go. You might want to get inside, too. Your guitar wouldn't work very well if it got wet."
"No, probably not." Roger turned, as if to walk away, but then paused and turned back. "Hey, the performance lot is still pretty cold." He unwrapped his scarf from around his neck – it was blue and white striped – and pretty much shoved it into Mark's hands. "Here. You'll need it. It would be a shame if you froze to death, kid."
"I'm not a kid."
"You look like you're sixteen," Roger laughed.
"I'm nineteen," he retorted. "Same age as April."
"April already turned twenty," he smirked. He had the most annoying smirk in the world, Mark realized. "And you're still a kid to me." Lightening tore through the sky as water began to splatter across his glasses. "I ought to go." And Roger left before he could hand back the scarf. It was his. Mark couldn't take it. He barely knew him!
A gust of wind hit him, hard. He sighed and draped the scarf over his shoulders. I'll keep it for now, at least, he decided and headed off to the performance lot. At least he got it on film. Random acts of kindness were hard to find, and even harder to catch.
Roger walked into the loft fifteen minutes later, drenched to the skin. April, who was sitting on the couch with a book, giggled insanely as she caught sight of him.
"You look like a wet cat," she commented. Benny and Collins, who were sitting in the kitchen, eating meager bowls of Captain Crunch (they were almost out and had to make it last until Halloween), looked over and cracked grins.
"What happened?" Benny wanted to know.
"I got caught in the rain," Roger grumbled.
"Well, no duh," Collins huffed. "But why? You should've been on your way home ages ago. You never take this long, especially when it's raining."
"I met a kid," Roger explained lamely, shrugging and looking for a towel. "Gave him directions to the performance lot."
"But Maureen's there," April reminded him. "You're pretty much sending her fresh meat." Roger laughed.
"I didn't think about that. Poor guy… well, maybe he'll catch it on film for us to laugh at later. He's a filmmaker, I think."
"You think?" Collins asked incredulously.
"He was holding a camera, but I never asked!"
"Wait, wait, wait," Benny said, holding up his hands. "Are you saying that you, Roger Davis, stopped in the middle of your day to give someone directions? When it was going to rain? Wow. That's like saying that pigs can fly."
"You've been on a plane, then?" Everyone cracked grins at Benny's expense, who scowled and looked away. Roger towel dried his hair quickly and explained, "I felt bad for him. He's nineteen, he said, and is definitely not a city kid. In fact," he turned to April. "He says he knows you. He's from Scarsdale, too."
"What's his name?"
"Um… Mark. Mark something."
April thought for a moment, before almost falling out of her seat in shock. "Mark Cohen? That dork that I've known since elementary school? He's in the city? He's got the strictest parents in town!"
"Well," Roger thought. "He did seem sort of dorky, but he seemed nice, too. And apparently he ran away. He was pissed that you didn't take him with you."
"He had a crush on me in sixth grade," April said simply. "It was weird. We never got along after that."
"Mark Cohen?" Benny asked, interestedly. "He was a kid at Brown. I've seen him. He was studying something about medicine. Always running around with med books. Only know his name because his roommate played obnoxiously loud music and I always had to go get them to turn it down. Told 'em that if they didn't keep it down, we'd kick them out of the dorm."
"He'll have a crush on Maureen in about five minutes," Collins laughed. "Especially if he likes girls like you, April."
"What do you mean, girls like me?" April growled. Roger sat down beside her and wrapped his (wet) arm around her shoulders.
"He means beautiful, intelligent, charming girls," he flirted. April rolled her eyes and pecked him on the cheek.
"Love you," she murmured.
"Love you, too."
"Get a room, will you?" Collins and Benny said in unison, high fiving after the couple shot them very annoyed looks.
"And please not mine," Collins added in plea.
"Hey, where's your scarf, Rog?" Benny mentioned, noticing its absence. Roger had bought it years ago, and it was pretty much worthless, but Benny figured he'd have it on a cold day like this. "Did you get mugged, too?"
"No, I gave it to the kid. He was half frozen to death, I swear. When I found him he was laying on a bench, talking to no one, and filming the sky. While shivering, which I don't think he noticed."
"God," April said, in shock. "He's such an idiot. I mean, he is nice and all, but didn't he have enough sense to bring a scarf and stuff?"
"He probably didn't expect all the rain."
"So…" Roger let the word drag out and gave a meaningful look to his friends. Collins and Benny, rolling their eyes, grabbed their cereal and went to their rooms resignedly. "Want to do something fun?" he asked April.
She twirled a strand of hair. "Like what?"
"I think you know," he whispered as he leaned in closer and his lips landed on hers.
"Stupid projector!" a girl was shouting as Mark walked into the performance lot. She was fiddling with a large screen and a projector, which simply wasn't working. He was surprised – somehow, she looked perfectly warm, though she was in short sleeves and jeans.
As Mark passed, trying to somewhat dry himself, he squinted hard, looking at what she was trying to do. The wires were all screwed up, he realized. Should I help her?
Well, he finally figured, why not? She was pretty, anyhow, so it would be worth it, just to talk to her. Even if he would probably wind up stuttering and screwing it all up.
He tucked his coat and the guy, Roger's, scarf into his book bag, figuring that the less wet items on him, the warmer he'd be. He was already feeling warmer, anyhow. Why risk getting cold again? Then, he approached the girl cautiously.
He switched on the camera. "In the performance lot. About to offer to help a girl. Oh, shit, that's not good. But," he realized that she had seen him. "It's too late. Wish me luck."
He smiled slightly and she returned the gesture before turning away.
"Hey, um," he began when he was in earshot. "Do you need help with that?" The girl looked up, startled. But when she realized that Mark had indeed been talking to her, her surprised look turned into a sly and flirty one.
"Hey." She let the word drag out. Mark blushed deeply and he ran his hand through his messed up hair, trying to somehow make it look good. Spending two weeks on the street probably weren't helping it, of course. He was filthy, and covered with rain and dirt. The girl seemed to ignore that fact though. "I do need help, actually."
"Oh. W-well, I could probably help with the thingy… I mean projector! Projector, I could help with the projector. Not the thingy. Though, it is sort of a thingy. But it has a name. Projector." Mark mentally slapped himself. Why, oh why did pretty girls get him so flustered?
"You know how to work these, um," she paused for a moment, smiling coyly. "'thingys'?"
"I've, um, worked with them before. I'm a, uh, a filmmaker." Mark gestured to his camera. "Or, at least, I want to be."
"Oh, another starving artist!" the girl realized and grinned, throwing her arm around his shoulders. He squirmed uncomfortably. "I'm Maureen. And you are?"
"Mark. I'm Mark." He slid away quickly to inspect the machine. "Well, this is quite an operation!" he said, trying to decipher all the wires and such.
But Maureen wasn't done messing with his head. "Sit down, Mark," she purred and pulled him over to a set of chairs – or, rather, one chair.
"No, no, I'm fine, thank you," he said, pulling away even quicker, holding back a cough. She rolled her eyes.
"Stubborn, aren't you?" she muttered. "Fine. I do need help with this. I haven't seen you before, though." Her eyes glinted. "And I do love some fresh meat."
Mark looked away, embarrassed, and began reconnecting wires. Suddenly, a large image flashed across the screen. Maureen squealed in excitement and hugged him.
"You did it!" Mark winced. Her mouth was right by his ear and that hurt. "Thanks! Ooh, I just gotta finish this and then I can finally go home!" She set up a few more lights and projectors while Mark slinked away, to find a place to sleep. By the time she was finished, he was far gone.
"Hey, Maureen," Roger greeted as she walked through the door. She looked confused. "What's new?"
"I flirted with a kid today," she announced. April rolled her eyes.
"That's not new, Maureen."
Maureen shrugged. "I know. But this kid didn't seem to like it!" She was thoroughly annoyed. "I mean, he disappeared as soon as I turned my back! He definitely liked me, but it's just… I don't know. I'm confused."
"Who was he?" Roger was curious. Had she seen that Mark kid come in? For some reason, he wanted to make sure that he was all right. He had spoken to him for only a few minutes, but it was like he was his younger brother or something.
"Um…" Maureen tried to remember. "I forgot. He said his name, I know he did… but he fixed my projector for me. He had these glasses and this red sweater… Oh and he was wet. Really wet."
"What did he do when you tried to flirt?" April asked interestedly.
"He sort of stuttered and then squirmed away," Maureen reported. "He did look kind of young. Maybe he was just uncomfortable?"
"Did he have a camera?" Collins asked, deeming it safe to enter the room now that Maureen had come home. Benny followed soon after.
"Maybe it was that Mark guy that Roger gave his scarf to," Benny commented.
"Aw!" Maureen cooed. "You gave a kid your scarf? How sweet!"
"Shut up, I felt bad for him. He looked frozen. I sent him to the performance lot so he wouldn't get rained on again. I didn't realize you'd still be there."
"It was probably him," April concluded. "At least my prediction was right. Fresh meat. Did he catch it on film?"
Maureen shrugged. "I don't know, how could I tell if it was on or not? He wouldn't put it down, though."
Roger picked up his guitar and started strumming absently. "You think he'll be there tomorrow?"
"With Maureen possibly coming back?" Collins laughed. "No way. Why?"
Roger shrugged. "Maybe we could offer him a place. It's not like it wouldn't be nice to split the rent even more. Besides, I don't think he'll last very long."
"Roger, we don't have the room," Maureen pointed out.
"Yes, we do. Maureen, you and April already share a room."
"Though I'm usually in yours," April winked.
Roger ignored her and continued. "Collins and Benny, you guys share a room. We could fit another bed into mine. Or he could take the couch."
"But if he took the couch, where would Collins go when he gets drunk?" Benny wanted to know. The group contemplated that for a moment. Nobody had a decent answer, of course.
"Look," Roger finally said. "We might not find him again. But if I do, I'm inviting him to join us. Okay? Can I have everyone's okay on that?"
"Look, as long as he doesn't film me in the morning or anything, before I'm dressed and stuff, fine!" April said. "He used to bring his camera into school, it was awkward on Monday mornings when we all looked horrible."
"I'll make sure he doesn't," Roger reassured her. "I'll call tomorrow."
And then he realized - how the hell are you supposed to call a guy when he didn't really live anywhere in particular?
Early in the morning, the drizzling stopped. Mark slipped out of the building quietly, hoping with all his might that he wouldn't run into Maureen again. He definitely didn't want to be a stuttering mess again.
"October 30th, the rain has finally stopped, and I am on my way to a pay phone to call my mother and assure her that I haven't been killed. You know, all those phone calls pretty much destroy the point of me running away, but if I don't, Mom will probably come and hunt me down herself." Mark shrugged and sighed as he dug through his pockets to find a quarter as he halted in front of the phone.
A handful of random coins tumbled out of his hand as he withdrew it. With an annoyed groan he knelt down to collect the money. A man joined him quickly, even going down to his knees to get the coins. Well, there's a few lost quarters, Mark thought glumly. Maybe now I'll have an excuse not to call Mom. Mark stopped, overcome by a coughing fit. After a moment, he felt able to stand.
Much to his surprise, the man dumped the coins back into his palm with a smile.
"Here you go," he said kindly. "I hate when that happens, don't you? Especially out here. You okay?"
"Y-yeah," Mark said slowly and picked out a quarter before putting the rest back into his pocket. "Thanks."
"No problem. Hey, do you mind if I use the phone? I'm sort of in a hurry…"
"Go ahead. I've got time," Mark said and stepped aside. The man grinned and stuck a coin into the slot, quickly dialing.
"Hey, guys," he said wearily. "Hey, I'm waiting for a call back from MIT… No, you can't pick up the phone! That's why I'm calling. Maureen, do you want to scare them away?" He frowned. "The answer wasn't supposed to be yes. Look, I know you don't want me to leave, but I sort of need to if I intend to take the job – and if they call saying I got an interview, it won't happen if you answer it. We need the money." He listened for a bit. "Let me talk to Benny." Benny must have come to the phone, because he started talking again. "Don't let anyone else go to the phone, okay? You're a business guy, you can handle the MIT people right. Wait – you can, can't you? Good. Roger's out looking for that kid, right?" He nodded, thinking. "Well, if I'm not home before him, tell him that same message. Make it clear to April, too. Thanks. I've got to go, my time's almost up and this kid is waiting. See you." He hung up and stepped aside, grinning. "All yours."
"Thanks," Mark said to him and stuck his quarter into the machine. He listened to it ring about twice before his mother picked up, frantic.
"Mark, are you okay? You didn't call yesterday! Or the day before! I know it rained. Were you safe? Were you warm?"
"I'm fine, Mom," Mark assured her wearily. "I'm absolutely fine. Just giving you an update."
"And the update is? Are you coming home?"
"No," Mark said shortly. "I'm alive, I haven't got frostbite, and I'm fed." Well, sort of… I think I had an apple yesterday…
"Oh." She sounded put out. "Okay, then."
"I gotta go, someone's waiting for the phone," Mark lied. "Bye." He hung up in a hurry and turned around. The man from before was observing him.
"You new here?" he asked when Mark froze, unsure about what to do. Mark scowled and looked down. Was it really that obvious?
"Sort of," he mumbled. "Been here a few weeks."
"Ah, so you are a newbie! I'm Collins."
Mark nodded, trying to figure out what to do next. Just walk away? Say goodbye?
"I should probably go," Mark finally managed to stutter out.
"Why? You've got somewhere to be?" Collins asked. Mark shook his head.
"Nah, not really, but I need to go to the drugstore. Get some cheap candy or something. I just lied blatantly to my mother and knowing her, she'll be able to detect the lie even from home."
"Mothers can do that," Collins agreed. "See you around!" he called as he walked away.
"See you around," Mark repeated too quietly for him to hear. People just kept on walking away… He coughed, shook his head, switched off the camera, and started down the street.
"What took so long?" Benny cried as soon as Collins entered the loft. "I've had to hold her back!"
"Sorry," Collins apologized and waved to Roger and April, who were sitting on the couch. Roger plucked out Musetta's Waltz glumly. "Aren't either of you going to help him?" he asked curiously, watching the struggling Maureen.
April shook her head. Roger ignored him.
Collins whistled. "Well, someone's in a bad mood. What happened?"
"He couldn't find the kid," April informed him. Roger scowled. "So Roger feels guilty now."
"He wasn't in the performance lot or in the park, and I asked people if they had seen a kid with a camera and nobody did! I'm starting to think he got run over," Roger finished sadly. "Unfortunately."
"Hey," Collins said suddenly, his conversation coming to mind. "I just saw a kid with a camera. Talked to him, too."
Roger stopped playing instantly and looked up to glare at Collins. "Was his name Mark?"
"He never said!" Collins defended.
"Why didn't you ask? Why didn't you bring him back?"
"I never said I'd bring him back," Collins huffed. "None of us did. If you find him, feel free."
"Why do you care, anyhow?" Maureen broke free from Benny and sat herself on Roger's lap. April shoved her off with one push. Roger wrapped his arms around both of their shoulders.
"I don't know. I felt a connection. Like the little brother I never had…"
"You've got to stop saying that," Benny said, annoyed. "It's getting annoying. It makes you sound sappy."
"Roger Davis is not sappy," Roger mumbled. "I'm going out again tomorrow."
"But tomorrow's Halloween!" Maureen pointed out. "We've got plans!"
"I'll be back before dark," Roger promised. "But I've got to give it a try."
"Are you insane?" April pulled away from his embrace. "This kid doesn't matter! Don't go wasting your time!"
"I don't see how this is a waste of time. If that kid is out there, dying or freezing or something, then I don't want to be the one responsible."
April rolled her eyes. "It's won't be your fault. It's his own, for coming out here in the first place! He's got a place to be, and that's not with us."
Roger stood and left the room silently. He wasn't going to deal with their incessant criticism. He had to help this kid – he felt it in his heart.
Mark was sweating. He was cold, he knew, because when he put his hands on his face, they made him shiver. But he was sweating profusely, and it was only getting worse. He squirmed in discomfort. No matter what position he tried to lay in, he couldn't get comfortable. He was back in the performance lot, driven by the gusting winds and the fever he knew he had.
He'd take the risk of Maureen.
Hacking coughs racked his body violently and his head banged against the concrete every time. Mark curled into a ball and wrapped himself in his coat and the scarf. However uncomfortable he was, he couldn't risk freezing without even realizing it. Plus, there was always the chance he would sweat the fever out…
Why oh why hadn't he chosen to go home? This cough had started almost two weeks ago and had been getting worse and worse. The rain couldn't have helped.
Mark closed his eyes in the hope that he might be able to get some sleep. But another fit struck him, and he had to sit up, searching for air. His throat was raw and his stomach hurt.
Footsteps suddenly rushed his way.
"Hey, are you okay?" The voice was familiar, but he was too busy hacking up a lung to place it.
"Getting dizzy," he managed to mumble. The person laid their hand on his back and patted him calmly.
"Just breathe. Try to breathe," he advised. Mark nodded and slowly began to suck in breaths. "Good, there you go."
The spots in front of Mark's vision finally disappeared and he felt no coming cough. He looked up to thank the mystery person.
It was Roger, the one that gave him the scarf. Behind him was Collins, the person that helped him with the coins, and – he gulped – Maureen. She looked even more beautiful now than before. Was that possible?
Chills went up his back and he shuddered violently.
"See?" Maureen shrieked. "He hates me!"
"He has a fever, you idiot," Collins sneered and turned back to Mark. "You all right?"
"Thanks," Mark said quietly. "I'm fine, really."
"I told you that we had to find him," Roger reprimanded the others.
"Yeah, yeah, well, April won't be very pleased," Collins said, as if reminding him. Roger's shoulders slumped.
"Hey, kid, what's your name again?" Maureen asked.
"Mark," he replied, blushing. She grinned.
"Mark… right, now I remember. Say, are you really feeling all right?"
"Got a fever," he muttered. "And a cough. But it's nothing, really. I'll get over it." Roger and the others exchanged a glance. Roger removed his glove and laid his hand on Mark's forehead, while the boy tried to squirm away unsuccessfully. This was embarrassing!
"This seems like a pretty high fever. Have we got any medicine, or should we pick some up on the way home?" He let go of Mark as he tried to scramble to his feet. The others stood from their crouches.
"We should pick some up," Collins determined. "Along with my Captain Crunch."
"Okay, then." Roger smiled at Mark. "You got all your stuff?"
"W-what?" Mark stuttered, before beginning to cough again. By the time it subsided, Roger had picked up his backpack and camera, easily throwing it onto his back. Mark watched in surprise. The day before, the load had been difficult to carry even to this corner of the lot.
"You're coming home with us, aren't you?"
"I don't… I mean… you… you don't have to do this." Mark struggled for words desperately. "I'm fine on my own."
"You need medicine, and by the look of it, a good meal – not that we have the meal part, but cereal ought to do. We've got extra room, and until we find another bed, you can take the couch."
"Hey, the couch is mine!" Collins cut in.
"You'll need to find somewhere else to collapse when you get drunk," Maureen said, amused. Collins glared.
"I thought you were against all this."
Maureen shrugged. "I was. But I could always use a production manager, and no production manager of mine is living on the streets, hacking up blood."
"There's no blood," Mark pointed out, reddening. They all gave him a look. "Yet."
"Come on." Roger clapped him on the shoulder. "Let's go home."
Roger burst the doors open, therefore announcing their arrival. Or, at least, his. Collins, Maureen, and Mark were still making their way up the stairs, Mark's cough making it difficult for him to get too far.
"Oh, hey, sweetie," April crooned. "You didn't find him? Oh, that's too bad."
Benny came into the room, looking somber. "Oh, that sucks. I sort of wanted to meet him for a reason other than telling him to turn down the damn music."
Roger dumped the grocery bags on the table. "We've got cereal, some fruit, two loaves of bread, and peanut butter. Oh, some jelly, too." He took out the bottle of Tylenol. "Have we got any clean glasses?"
"Roger, are you okay?" April asked, concerned. He nodded.
"Fine. But Mark isn't."
"You found him?" she shrieked. "You actually found him?" Roger nodded. "But… how?"
"It was easy. He was in the performance lot, huddled in a corner, coughing his brains out. He's got a bad fever. So, he didn't really have much of a say when we dragged him out. Plus, I took his camera. Maureen has it now."
At that moment, the trio entered the room, leading Mark right to the couch. Benny watched them, interested. April watched, too, but sourly.
"Really, I'm fine, you don't have to do this," Mark insisted. By the way Maureen and Collins rolled their eyes, it was apparent it had been his lament for the entire trip up. "Just give me back my camera, and I'll leave."
Maureen set said object and his backpack on the table.
"Say that again," she warned, "And I will take it apart and use it as ammo against you." Mark shrank back, silencing himself immediately.
"Oh, give him his camera for God's sake!" Collins grabbed the device and handed it to Mark, who smiled in appreciation. Weak and tired as he was, he switched it on and aimed at Maureen.
"October 31st, once again, no clue about the time. Here I am, being held captive by three lunatics, Maureen being the craziest of all. She just threatened to tear my camera apart and shoot me with the pieces."
"Hey!" Maureen laughed, though.
"We're not keeping you captive," Roger protested, handing Mark a pill and a glass of water. He took it gratefully. "We're simply helping you recover."
April took a seat beside Mark, reached over, and shut off the camera. "Get a life, loser."
Mark frowned. "You know, April, I haven't been told that since high school. It's sort of refreshing to hear it again. Especially from your voice. And hey, I wouldn't be talking. You're the one who came into school everyday in homemade outfits."
April snorted. "You had homemade sweaters, too! And you didn't even make them – your mom did." She observed his outfit. "And apparently, you still wear them."
Mark tugged on his red sweater uncomfortably. "It's the warmest thing I own."
April nodded, unconvinced. "Uh-huh. You finish any movies yet?"
"You design a fashion line?" Silence. Mark grinned. "We're even." He set his camera aside and scooted away from April. They really never did get along.
"I can't believe you two actually know each other," Benny sighed, plopping in between them. He paused. "Wait, you're not contagious, are you?"
Mark shrugged. "It's a cough, I'm not sure."
Benny stood. "No offense, but I'd rather not get sick."
"No offense taken."
Roger took the place instead. "You know, I've been looking for you for a while. We just couldn't find you, though! I wanted to invite you here before you got sick."
"Really?" Mark asked, surprised. "Why?"
Roger thought. "I don't know. I just feel like you belong here. Don't you feel that, too?"
Mark shook his head. "All I feel right now is a headache. But when that fades, I'm sure I'll feel that, too." Everyone laughed.
This could be the start of something very good, Roger and Mark thought simultaneously, though neither was aware of the fact. It was just the way best friends were, whether they knew it yet or not.
Notes: How'd you guys do with the contest? Well, either way, I hope you enjoyed the fic! I love feedback, so if you could find the time to review and let me know how I did, that would be great. Your fave parts? I'd love to know. Thanks for everything!