Title: Actual Reality (2/3)
Rating: I'm just gonna go with R for the whole thing
Word Count: 2,416
Disclaimer: Why do I bother with this? I don't own anything.
Summary: Mark's been missing two months. Roger's beyond worried.
A/N: Jeez... I didn't think I'd continue, but the damn plot bunny would NOT stop gnawing on my head.
Two months... Two whole fucking months! That's how long it's been since Roger kicked Mark out of the loft. He hasn't heard from the filmmaker at all. He called all of their friends, even gone as far as to talk to Benny, but none of them had seen Mark. And what's worse, that damned camera was still in the loft, collecting dust. This little fact scares Roger shitless. Wherever they went, whatever they did, Mark always had that stupid camera attached to him. Mark would freak if he didn't have it with him.
So, what was he doing now? Where was he? Roger troubled himself with questions he couldn't answer day after day. But the worst question pierced his heart like a blade: Did Mark get AIDS? And what if he did, and he's forced to live on the streets? He could be dead for all Roger knew. Shit... don't think like that! He's got to be okay. Lying down on the couch, Roger let out a sigh as he covered his face with his hands.
At the sound of the door opening, Roger sprang up and turned to face the noise. He was greeted with an apologetic looking Mimi. The blonde's face fell a little as he slouched into the beaten cushions. Mimi gave a sad, small smile as she made her way into the kitchen.
This was her routine, had been for about two weeks. She would get off of work, head to the loft, disappoint Roger, make him coffee, maybe talk, and leave for the night. She sighed as she waited on the pot. The dancer looked over to the musician, if you could call him that. The guy hasn't touched his guitar since Mark left. He just stares off into space most of the time.
Roger let out another sigh as he closed his eyes. Once again, he tried to fathom some idea as to where Mark could be. He was shaken out of his reverie by the cough Mimi gave. Roger blinked at her, realizing that she was offering him his cup.
“Come on, babe,” she spoke as he took the cup, “sit with me?” Mimi sauntered over to the window and sat. Roger stared at his cup for a minute before reluctantly following her. He had turned to Mimi first, forgetting about their fight. Roger had pounded on her door, shouting for her to open up. After an hour of the racket, the door opened to reveal a very pissed off Mimi. Her attitude changed, however, when she noticed the pathetic creature kneeling on the ground in front of her door. She quickly knelt down beside him in attempt to figure out what was wrong with her then ex. Needless to say she was a little shocked after hearing the story. She was the only one who knew the whole story.
“How was work?” Roger asked, shocking them both. Mimi smiled warmly at him as she gave a recount of her day. Roger listened halfheartedly, peering out the window. Mimi noticed but chose to ignore it. She finished talking, knowing Roger probably never heard a word. She got up and kissed the top of Roger's head. “See you, Roger. Get some sleep, okay?” And with that and a final look at the blonde, Mimi left the loft.
Roger didn't even hear her leave; he never does, really. She'll always come back. He sighed. Why can't she be him? Why can't he just walk through that door, smiling his stupid lopsided grin, apologizing for making Roger worry like an idiot, running to wipe the dust off his beloved camera. Why, Goddammit?! Roger leaned his forehead against the cool window glass. Where the fuck was his best friend?
And that's the position Roger was in when the door opened timidly after an hour or two. Mark cautiously peered around the loft. It was eerily silent. He didn't like that. Then he noticed Roger, leaning against the window. The blonde didn't seem to notice Mark's presence.
Mark stood in front of the door, simply looking at the musician. Was he still mad? Probably. He himself couldn't believe he did what he did. But Mark couldn't take the event back, no matter how much he wanted to. He sighed. Mark peered over to the window. Roger didn't move.
“Roger...?” Mark called cautiously.
Roger blinked a few times. “...Roger?” There it was again. That wasn't Mimi's voice. Roger had heard the door open but was sure it was the brunette checking in on him again. He slowly turned around, his heart pounding in anxiety. His eyes widened minutely.
Mark was standing in the loft, that same worried look he'd give Roger when he didn't take is AZT on his pale face. He twisted the ends of his scarf in his hands as he nervously shifted from foot to foot. Roger blinked again.
Holy shit! Roger sprang up from his spot and rushed toward Mark, who flinched. He stopped suddenly a foot away from the smaller blonde, his eyes blazing. Mark was terrified. They stood like that for a while, Mark cowering beneath Roger's intense gaze. Then, Roger moved.
“You son of a bitch!” Roger yelled, advancing on Mark. The filmmaker clenched his eyes shut, awaiting the blow that was sure to come. But it didn't. Instead, he felt a tight embrace around his being. Mark opened his eyes. Roger was hugging him! Sighing in relief, Mark hesitantly returned the hug. He could feel his shoulder and neck beginning to dampen. Oh God, Roger's crying...
He's back... The fucking asshole is back! Roger felt the tears leak out as he nuzzled Mark's neck. God, how Roger missed him, missed the small frame that was hugging him now like the many times Mark did during Roger's withdrawal. He even missed the stupid, moronic jerk that made him so angry before... Hey, wait a minute...
“You little piece of shit!” Roger spat, ripping out of the embrace, much to Mark's surprise. Mark flinched as Roger grasped at his shirt. “Where the fuck have you been?” Roger growled, all but slamming Mark into the door. Mark winced as his head collided with the metal. Roger's eyes were aflame with rage, yet Mark saw a strange glimmer underneath the blaze. “Well?”
Mark swallowed nervously. This was starting to resemble a withdrawal episode. “R-roger... calm down...” he managed to gasp out, “please...!” He pleaded with the musician. Roger looked at Mark clutching at his wrists, trying in vain to loosen his death grip. The anger that was flowing rapidly throughout his body began to slow. Worry started to enter his system then, and he released his grasp on the filmmaker's shirt, his hands shaking.
“God, Mark!” Roger backed away from the smaller blonde. “Where the hell were you?” Roger stared right into Mark's eyes. He clenched his fists to keep himself rooted in one spot. Mark gazed fearfully back at the guitarist, debating on what to say. With Roger, one has to tread lightly.
“I was... thinking.” Mark stated slowly, bracing himself for another angry outburst. Roger blinked at him. They stood still for a moment. Then...
“What the fuck does that mean?” Roger growled, inching ever so slightly forward. Mark's been missing for a month, shows up suddenly without warning, and is now talking in riddles? This is pissing me off!
“Roger, calm down!” Mark pleaded hastily. “What I meant was I was thinking things over at Cindy's.” Mark eyed Roger warily. Roger blinked again. Cindy's? Why the hell didn't I think to call her? “Is it okay for me to be here?” Roger looked at the filmmaker. His head was down, and he was trembling the slightest bit. Roger sighed.
“This is your home, isn't it?” Roger crossed his arms. Dammit! Where did my anger go? Mark looked up, surprised. Roger sighed. “Well, isn't it?” Mark smiled, not quite the lopsided grin Roger wanted to see, but it was better than nothing at all. “But don't think for a second you're off the hook.” Mark's smile faded in an instant. That's right, be afraid.
“I-I know...” Mark looked down again, ashamed. Roger studied him, taking in how he looked. He was skinny. Well, Mark had always been skinny, but he was skinnier than before he left. His hair was longer, darker, and he had stubble on his chin. And he was definitely paler than before. This wasn't boding well.
“Mark,” Roger began. Mark looked up, noting the weird tone in Roger's voice. “Are you sick?” Mark raised an eyebrow.
“No, you know I never get colds.” Roger clenched his jaw, willing himself not to strike the blonde in front of him.
“That's not what I meant, you dumb fuck.” Mark just stared at him, head cocked a little. Eyes closing, Roger sighed, counting to ten as he did so. “Do you have AIDS?” He opened his eyes, peering at Mark with an intensity that made the filmmaker uneasy.
Finally understanding the question, Mark swallowed. The look in Roger's eyes scared him. “...No,” he breathed, “No, I don't.” Mark stared at Roger, waiting for a reaction. He got none.
Roger didn't move. He just watched Mark, searching for any sign that he was lying. Mark looked back at him, nervous. He didn't like the silence between them. Roger noticed. “Why are you so nervous?” He asked, taking a step forward. His face was still expressionless.
Mark flinched. He didn't really want to say it, but if he didn't, Roger would think the worst. “I... You scare me.” He confessed, avoiding Roger's eyes. He stood still, leaning against the door, rethinking his decision on coming back to the loft.
Roger's eyes widened. He scared Mark? Well... shit. Roger sighed, walking over to the couch. He plopped down and closed his eyes. This wasn't going well. He looked over to the door where Mark was still standing. He was watching Roger nervously, never having moved an inch. He had enough.
“Look, I'm sorry, okay?” He finally said. He nodded his head for Mark to move. Mark hesitantly obeyed, walking over and sitting on the couch. “But what you did was stupid. I still can't believe you did that.” He looked at Mark, shaking his head in disgust. Mark nodded, his head down.
They sat there for a moment, Roger watching Mark fiddle with his hands. Then, Roger sighed. He slowly got up and walked over to the door. Mark watched, curious in the musician's slow movements. Roger bent down and reached for something. He picked it up and carefully brought it other to Mark.
“I didn't touch it,” Roger began as he held it out for Mark to take, “I was afraid I'd break it.” Mark took it, a blank expression on his face. “It's dusty, too, so sorry about that. I should've taken better care of it.” Mark ran his hand over his camera, wiping some of the dust off. He had missed his camera; there was no denying the fact. “It's okay? It's not broken?” Roger asked, shoving his hands in his pockets.
Mark looked from Roger to the camera in his hands. He cranked the lever, and flipped the switch. There was a soft whir as the crank began turning. Mark looked through the eyepiece and saw Roger standing there, face curious, slouched and hands in his pockets. Mark smiled. “Yeah, it works.”
Roger smiled, bright and big. “Good.” Mark filmed for a few seconds more before turning the camera off. Roger noticed how he held the item close to his being. It was almost like going back in time, to a timid Mark who first moved to the big city. “Come on,” Roger called as he disappeared into Mark's former room. Mark stood, about to follow when Roger reappeared. “We should go to the Life and have a little family reunion.” Roger handed Mark his black and white scarf.
Mark took the cloth, holding it close along with his camera. He really didn't take anything when he left. Roger nodded to himself and walked over to the phone. Mark watched as he dialed and waited. Then Roger perked up. “Thomas?” Mark inwardly groaned. Why did Roger have to call Collins first? He didn't want to listen in on the conversation, so he ventured to his room.
Everything was the same as he left it. He breathed in the air; he was finally home. He placed his camera on his bed, then he put his scarf around his neck. It was the perfect fit. Placing his hands in his pockets, Mark stared at the camera. It was intimidating, laying there on his old bed, staring up at him, accusing.
Roger walked in the room, stopping when he found Mark in a staring contest with his camera. “Yeah... Having fun?” Mark jumped, quickly composing himself. “Get ready. I have to go get Mimi then we're off.” With that, Roger made to leave, but he stopped at the door frame. Without turning around, he said, “I'm glad you're back... and healthy.” And then he left.
Mark just stood there. He wasn't ready. He'd never be ready. “Oh God...” Mark pulled out a crumbled piece of paper from his pocket. Swallowing hard, he reread the one line – that one word – that he would never forget, that changed his life forever.
“Mark,” Mark hastily shoved the paper back into his pocket before Roger poked his head into the room. “Let's go.” Mark nodded as he followed Roger out his room, hands in his pockets. His finger tips felt the dreadful paper. Mark sighed as Mimi pulled him in for a hug. He wouldn't be able to handle it. He followed the two out the loft, longing to just stay there and rot.
He heard Mimi whisper something to Roger. The musician then said that Mark wasn't sick. Oh God... Mimi knew what he'd done? Fuck. He really couldn't handle this. He thought he could, but he can't. He was such a hypocrite. Why had he done it?
Collins pulled him into a bear hug when they got to the Life Cafe, Maureen and Joanne waiting in line for their turn. They were all smiling, thankful for his return. Mark wasn't thankful. He wanted to leave. He wanted to be anywhere but there. Why the fuck had he done it? Escape? Mark internally laughed, bitter. He had no escape now. He was done. And it was his own fault.
He was positive.