This is just a collection of 100-word drabbles, outlining Mark and Roger's relationship, from beginning to end. Just my way of trying to explain how I see their relationship, and how it began and unfolded and became what it was.
OH AND THIS ONE'S ACTUALLY NOT SLASH. I know, I'm surprised too...
Of course, I obviously don't own Rent or any of these wonderful characters!
Reviews and feedback are appreciated!
Collins kept insisting that he'd get used to Roger being around. That'd he'd grow on him. That they might even learn to like each other one of these days. Mark wasn't so sure. He promised nothing more than to tolerate the musician, because he did help pay the rent. But on the other hand, Roger's a junkie (or at least he looks like one), not to mention a total asshole. But Collins was adamant that Roger needed to stay. Why, Mark didn't know. Whatever, he thought to himself as he lit a cigarette. He'd tolerate Roger Davis, and nothing more.
"Where's Roger's share of the rent?"
The bills are due, and they're $100 short this month. Just like last month. And the month before that. They both know why, only Mark is the only one to say it.
"Pretty sure he injected it." He rolls his eyes as he pushes his glasses up his nose. Collins opens his mouth, but doesn't have a response. Mark sighs. "Collins, something needs to be-"
Just then, Roger comes in the door, obviously high as fuck, and he's lucky looks can't kill, because Mark's expression would be enough to do the job.
"Mark, I – "
If Mark weren't so beyond pissed, he'd be stunned by the sincerity in Roger's voice. Only he doesn't care. He can feel a migraine coming.
"No. I'm tired of putting up with all this shit – these strangers in our apartment at all hours, the drugs and the alcohol and putting up with your junkie ass even though you don't even pay the rent anymore." The stare he fixes on Roger is cold. "Get out."
"But – "
"I said, get out! I don't care what you do or where you go, just GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!"
It isn't long before Mark starts to feel bad, and after some cajoling from Collins, Roger returns, bringing a red-haired pixie of a girl named April. She has a steady job, she can help pay the rent, and she's going to get Roger clean, or so she says. She's Roger new muse, and strangely, she helps Mark and Roger learn to sort of get along. She even introduces Mark to a girl, this wild brunette named Maureen. Things are almost looking up, but one night Mark discovers April getting high and knows Roger's chance at redemption just crashed and burned.
For a week after it happens, all any of them can seem to see is red – the red of April's hair, the red of her blood staining the tub and the floor and the walls, the red of the lipstick on the mirror, spelling out that all too familiar death sentence. AIDS. The red of the roses at the funeral, the red of crying, bloodshot eyes. Mark can't imagine how hard it is on Roger, who's suddenly scared for his life. He sits by his new friend's side silently, awkwardly, only knowing that he feels sorry for him right now.
"You don't have to do this, you know."
"Yes, I do." Mark stares at the bags at Collins's fee, unable to believe how much has changed. April's dead. Benny's engaged and sold out. Maureen's gotten distant… And now Collins is leaving.
"Roger needs professional help."
"Roger needs something constant. He wouldn't last a day in rehab. I'm all he's got left." Mark takes a deep breath. "I just… I feel like I need to stay with him. Like he needs me."
"If it gets to be too much…"
"I'll call." Mark nods, and then, suddenly, it's just him and Roger.
Somehow, they manage to survive the next six months, and Roger emerges victorious. There were a lot of bad days and close calls, but he made it. Six months clean. Mark did too, gathering a few new scars. Along the way, the enmity that once existed is transformed into this new friendship they're fast becoming used to. After seeing only each other for so long, a bond was bound to form. A lot has changed, for the better, Mark thinks as he winds up camera, watching his friend tune his guitar, both of them moving forward into the future, together.
Mark watches Roger head for the door, almost disappointed, but understanding why. The past months have no been easy on anyone. They both know that's no excuse for what Roger's doing, but if Mark were Roger he might have done the same thing. But he's Mark and he's responsible and he can't run – doesn't run. So he gets left behind. He's not pleased, though neither is Roger at being criticized. They say things they don't mean, try to hurt each other the way they're hurting, just so the other will understand. Inside, though, they both know the other already does.
Mark welcomes Roger home with a punch straight to the jaw. Roger looks like he might strike back, but then gives a rueful smile, knowing he deserved that. Mark is pissed – the last month and a half have been hell. He quit his job, Mimi disappeared…. And Roger knows none of this, because he left him.
"You said you'd call." Mark murmurs. He's trying to sound accusatory.
"It's good to see you too." Roger smirks weakly, and Mark can't help smiling back.
"Fucker." And then he crushes Roger in a surprisingly tight hug. "Do that again and I'll kill you."
Roger looks so incredibly lost in the front pew of that church, staring at the casket with tired eyes. They knew it was coming; they'd all just hoped it wouldn't. Another miracle just wasn't going to happen. Mimi was really gone. Roger, of course, was devastated. Mark didn't know how Roger could begin to bear it, or Collins, or anyone. To have to see someone you love die. He sat beside Roger, wanting to comfort him, but lost for words. He took Roger's hand, and held it through the entire funeral, a small comfort, but it was a comfort nonetheless.
The next year passed without much incident at all, and things were almost back to normal – until Roger started coughing. They both knew, but avoided it until one morning when Roger was shouting for Mark from his bed, looking up with wide, fearful eyes when Mark came in.
"What's wrong?" He crouched at his side, and Roger opened his clenched fist to reveal the clump of dirty blond hair he'd found on his pillow that morning.
"Mark…" Roger choked on his friend's name, his hands trembling. "Mark… I don't… I don't want to die." His voice was filled with fear.
They were together in his last moments, just the two of them, Mark's head on his chest. He was calm and quiet, accepting. There wasn't much to say, so they just lay there together, Roger's breaths slowly evening out. Finally Roger spoke, only three small words. Mark didn't have to ask what he meant by them – it didn't matter much now, and he already knew what he was trying to say as Roger gasped the words, barely audible.
"I love you."
It was the first time Mark had ever let himself cry in front of Roger.
"I love you too."
When it came right down to it, Mark and Roger were soulmates – just not in the usual interpretation of the word. They weren't lovers – far from that. But somehow it felt like they were more than friends. They completed each other. They never would have guessed it in the beginning, but by the end they were inseparable. You couldn't have one without the other. They understood each other in a way no one else ever could have. They loved each other in a way no one could match, and they'd been meant to stay together - from beginning to end.