Characters: Mark Cohen
Word Count: ~700
Summary: Exactly what the title says.
A/N: This was written as a part of a meme response at the request of my beloved callieach. I'm so, so sorry that this turned into such an angst fest! Also, the titles for each section come from tick, tick... BOOM! lyrics. (Because you can never get enough Jonathan Larson.)
i. we can dance on through the pain
There’s a sliver of light peeking out from beneath the bathroom door. He sets his camera on their pathetic excuse for a coffee table and tosses his scarf across the couch. His footsteps are soft. He presses his ear to the door, hears the faucet turn. He knocks.
The water shuts off, a cabinet bangs. The door opens, and he blinks through the sudden brightness.
“What were you doing?”
“Washing my face.”
“That wasn’t the tub?”
He pulls the crumpled note from the trash can later, and slips it to Roger before he leaves the next day.
ii. no more leaky ceilings, no more holes in the floor
The apartment is not big, not by any standards. But it has a roof without holes. And closets. And a buzzer. And a real heater. And an actual, working dishwasher.
He’s not well off, not yet. But he’s gotten some acclaim in the local indie film community. He’s got some scripts that need fine-tuning, and actually getting his work out there on a screen and in front of an audience doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. Sure, he’s got his side job. But if all goes according to plan, he hopes he won’t need it in a couple years.
He wonders what his parents will say when he actually sends home a present this Christmas.
iii. heartbeats of your children, asleep in the next room
He never thought he could be a father.
He learns as he goes. The nurse at the hospital teaches him how to hold the child and how to position the bottle. His wife teaches him how to change diapers and the best ways to make the crying stop in the middle of the night. His mother spends too much money on baby clothes and his father admits that he really had no idea what he was doing back then, either.
Eventually he starts to get a handle on things, and then he imparts his newfound wisdom to Collins and Roger and even Maureen so that they can baby-sit every once in awhile.
As every moment passes, he tries to catalog it into his brain. He cherishes every laugh, every smile, and even captures a few on film. And he remembers the smiles and laughter from his friends long gone, vowing to tell his son about the extraordinary people he once knew when the boy is old enough to understand.
iv. what a way to spend the day
Roger and Mimi decide have their wedding on the roof of the building. It’s just the seven of them and a priest. The ceremony is short, but their reception lasts for hours. Collins and Benny carried up Roger’s old stereo from the apartment, along with a handful of folding chairs and a shaky card table. Maureen and Joanne brought shopping bags with champagne and a small, store-bought cake.
He actually has fun. He spends most of the evening, as per usual, off on the edge of it all with his camera. Maureen steals him away from the sidelines for one slow song. As she leans in close, he breathes in the smell of her and remembers old times.
She steps away before the final note has even ended, and before he can run back to the safety of his camera Collins grabs his arm and pulls him back into the group for some Top 40, upbeat number. By the time that song is done, Mimi has her hands on his hips and Roger is laughing in the background.
His camera stays on a chair for the rest of the night, but he doesn’t mind.
v. can’t you recall when this all began, it was only you and me
On Roger’s thirtieth birthday, they all make their way to the Life Café to celebrate. It’s all ruckus and noise until the very end of the evening, when people begin to slip out, one by one. Soon it’s just him and Roger, alone at a couple tables set for ten.
“Let me buy you a beer, birthday boy.”
“You can’t afford that.”
“Pretend I can, alright?”
Roger laughs and raises his bottle.
“To making it this far.”
“And to the many years to come.”