My stab at Mark/Roger. Mark and Roger are opposites. Mostly takes place pre-RENT.
Mark and Roger are opposites. Mark finds this comedic at first, as though Fate has shoved them together like the Odd Couple. Mark watches things, and Roger does things. Mark has Maureen, Roger has sex.
Mark has to find the humor in things, or he might just go certifiably insane.
Mark doesn't drink without Collins there, Roger does heroin every day. Ha, ha.
Cut, print. A long day of nothing. Mark is down and tired and so Roger is up, in more ways than one. April has been gone for some time, but the girls, who come in and out so quickly that Mark wonders if they were a fantasy of his own, seem to satiate him.
Mark leans on the frame of the door and looks in at Roger, who is still naked and half-asleep. "Can you try not to be so loud next time?"
"Then don't listen," Roger says.
"I can't not listen when you're banging her against the wall."
"Do I complain when Maureen fucks you?"
Mark leaves the door at that, the point having been made. Mark seeks the truth, and that's the truth, so he can't run from it. The lens of the camera sees only what's there, no preconceptions, no right or wrong, it tells him the truth.
Roger, however, translates it rather well, and definitely to the point.
He manages to fall asleep on the couch with the absence of fucking ringing through his ears – at the prudish thought he sleepily deems himself Felix Ungar – and is only awoken by the sound of Roger cracking open a Diet Coke.
Roger is destroying himself with heroin, yet drinks Diet Coke. Mark finds it funny.
"Mornin'," Mark mutters, or something like it.
"Do we have any Captain Crunch?" Roger asks.
"There's a box." Mark wouldn't touch it, his mother's sensibilities still instilled.
"Have you seen my stash?"
The one question Mark can't stand to answer. "No," he says stiffly, sounding more like a parent than a roommate.
Roger seems to shrug that off. "Sorry about the girls, I just, you know..."
"Yeah, I know." Mark is untouched by suffering, but is understanding. Roger's life is ruined and he's an asshole. Ha, ha.
Roger discovers that he has stashed his stash in the cookie jar Mark's mother sent him last year for his birthday. Mark smiles.
Mark has decided not to sleep with Maureen until she stops sleeping with other men. Mark is as good as a monk. Roger fucks his life away. This is not helping matters.
So he listens. So what? Anyone might. It's impossible to ignore and Roger, even high, is very good at what he does, by the sound of it. So he listens every night, anyone as sex-starved as him would.
So his fantasies of Maureen are fading. So what?
She tapes a cheap carnation to his door one day, as a gesture. He knows it's her because only she would do that. Only women and dead people get flowers. Mark is not a man. Roger is.
One night Mark gets up after Roger is done with the girl du jour (Mark thinks he recognizes this one from at least one previous visit, she squeals) and goes out to get a glass of water, maybe something stronger, and stops in the doorway to take a look.
Mark and Roger are opposites. Roger's body is strong, looking healthy despite years of heroin use, his chest covered in hair, profile distinguished, and lips full and unchapped. Mark licks his lips and finds his mouth is dry, then realizes what he's doing, and takes a step back.
Roger groans. Mark starts, in more ways than one, and a flush of red starts by his neck. "Roger?" Mark tries. There is no answer.
Eventually he dares himself to go in, and – since when has touching Roger been so forbidden? - he stops by Roger's bedside. "You all right, Roger?"
Mark hesitantly lifts Roger's chin from where it's propped awkwardly on the pillow and feels cold sweat. He pauses, kneeling on the bed and makes several inexpert attempts to check Roger's pulse before he succeeds, going as pale as his paling roommate when he realizes what's happened.
Mark presses his lips hard against Roger's stupid fucking perfect lips, his hand against his stupid perfect chest, wanting nothing more than Roger, Roger, that stupid fucking Roger who despite heroin addiction and womanizing is more than he will ever be.
He kisses him again and again because this may be his only chance, and he has to drag himself off the bed, finally understanding what addiction means.
He calls for help. They take him away, and Mark cries when the ambulance is out of sight.
He is pathetic. Cut, print.
Mark and Roger are opposites. Mark is dead, and Roger is alive.
"He'll be fine, Marky," Maureen is saying, running her fingers down his bare chest. "Are you listening to me? Collins told me he'll be fine, he's just going to go into rehab..."
Mark gives a nod, swallows, and pulls her into a desperate kiss, reminding himself that he is in love with Maureen, he is in love with the queen of all divas, and he is lucky. He reminds himself to forget that she is a whore.
They have sex again. He kisses her when he comes, imagining her reaction to Roger's name coming out of his mouth in a keen like the countless girls he's heard over the past few months.
"God I'm glad to have you back, pookie," Maureen breathes as she climbs off of him. "What were you doing all this time?"
Mark smiles wryly. "Work."
Maureen just laughs, wickedly. "Well, you should work more often."
Mark watches her, cartoonish as she is, large-lipped and strong and powerful, and places his hands on her arm. "I love you," he says, because he has nothing left to lose.
She kisses him in answer, an impish grin greeting him, and he knows that wasn't an answer at all. It's all right. Answers are a luxury when you're in search of the truth. Cut, print.
Mark opens the door to leave and finds Roger ready to enter.
"Hi," he says, stupidly.
"Hey. I'm, uh - " Roger pauses. "Going into rehab. You can replace me if you want. With Maureen. I heard," he adds, grinning.
Mark doesn't smile back. "I won't."
Roger looks troubled at that but slips past him. "I wanted a last bowl of Captain Crunch, I don't know what they're going to have there."
"A Last Supper, so to speak?" Mark wonders, taking up the camera to have an excuse to watch.
The Roger in the camera looks back at him, and laughs. "Put that thing down."
Mark can deal with this. This is different. "When do I ever? This is something to document, anyway, Roger Davis's first meal not under the influence of heroin for... how long?"
"Fuck knows." The Roger in the camera pours what remains of the cereal box into a bowl. "No 'I told you so's?"
"I never told you to stop."
"You have a sick attachment to that thing." He points at the camera.
"My addiction costs less."
Roger shakes his head, walks over and seizes the camera. The picture jerks and turns; Mark is lost for a moment, until he looks up into Roger's face. "Don't waste your film on me," the real Roger says.
Mark tenses. "It's not a waste."
The next Roger to speak is April's Roger, the one not tinted with cigarette smoke and reeking of sex and sweat. "She's dead and I'm nothing without her."
Mark stands and reaches out to touch this one, the one he knows. "It's not your fault."
Roger jerks at Mark's touch, a glare setting in his face. "Don't make excuses for me, I don't need your help with that."
This Roger is so alive, so vivid that Mark pales. Right now, he is the truth, living, breathing, and standing right in front of him, and Mark yearns for him so hard it hurts.
"What are you looking at?" Roger snaps.
Mark is afraid to touch him, as though this whole thing will come apart like film caught in the reels, but something jerks his feet from beneath him and he pulls Roger into an embrace.
Roger gives after only a moment, and when Mark pulls away just enough to kiss him, Roger's shaking hands grip his face, like he's as frightened as Mark to release this moment.
Mark pulls away, intensely turned on, and confused, and just stares until Roger says, "You're all I got."
Now it is Roger who initiates, his kiss intense and biting and hot where Mark was needy and desperate, and Mark feels as though his knees will collapse, until Roger pushes him into the couch.
It is better than any fantasy, any sex with Maureen, anything he could possibly imagine, and the camera is tilted just so that Mark knows instinctively that when Roger spits his come into the carpet, the truth of the whole thing is revealed.
Roger is shaking. Mark kneels and takes him into his arms, never wanting to release the life he holds within his arms, because it's all he's got.
Mark is outside, and Roger is inside. Things have truly changed.
Mark doesn't even have Maureen anymore, but has found with unspoken disappointment and self-hatred that Roger is untouchable. Six months have made the rift between them impassable.
Mark wants to do what Roger did, replace him with a thousand women (or men), drown himself in sin, maybe that'll show Roger how much Mark needs him, but the few attempts either fail or fail to catch Roger's eye.
Roger's eye is on his guitar. Roger is watching himself. He puts up walls like ice, impenetrable, cold, and destroyed by the right amount of heat.
Mark hates himself for not being powerful enough, for not loving him enough, for not being able to rescue him this time. Mark retreats behind the camera to find the hole in the wall, the way to the truth, because it has always shown him the way when he's lost.
All the Roger in the camera does is tune that fucking Fender. Seeking to do the impossible. Mark admires it. He's doing the same by trying to reach him, isn't he?
Roger emerges of his own will, and Mark knows he's lost. One woman can do more for Roger than Mark has achieved in a month.
Roger emerges more and more. Mark retreats behind the camera, lost for direction. He watches Angel and remembers a Maureen that singular, a Roger that vivid, and tries to hate them all for shining so brightly before he remembers that for someone to shine, someone has to pale.
For Roger to be happy, Mark has to suffer.
Welcome to the real world. Proof positive.