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Practice Makes Perfect- 15/15
RENT, slash, Marker, Mark, Roger
Chapter Title: The Leap
Fandom: RENT
Pairing: Mark/Roger, Marker (what else?)
Rated: Pretty much T
Mark finally comes out to his friends, but he's still a little nervous about this whole gay thing. Does he even know HOW to be gay? The bohos, especially Roger, decide to help him out. Funny, slashy. Eventual Mark/Roger.
A/N: Posting posting pooooosting... God, it's going to take forever and a half to get everything over here from ff.net.

Chapter Fifteen: The Leap

On January twenty-fifth, ten a.m. Eastern Standard Time, a young Latina ascended the metal staircase to her blonde friend's apartment as quietly as she could in three-inch heeled boots.

That night it had snowed- or rather, snowstormed. And Mimi had a feeling that she would be needing the extra inches to keep her feet warm and dry.

In any case, she had to hurry. She rapped her knuckles smartly on the door, calling, "Mark! Come on Mark, Life Support's starting and we're going to be late!" She didn't have to add the 'again'. Mark knew as well as she did that their punctuality had suffered as of late. Paul always gave them the same understanding half-smile as she dragged the filmmaker in half an hour after starting time and plopped down in her seat, but she hated to think she was disappointing the kindly older gentleman. "Mark!"

The door swung inwards after a moment to reveal a ruffled looking albino-pale filmmaker, blonde hair mussed and glasses lopsided on the bridge of his nose. He yawned and smiled at her, practically glowing. "Hey, Meems. I'll be right out." Turning, he murmured something that she couldn't hear in what was almost a suggestive tone and made a come hither gesture with his index finger. A grumble that certainly wasn't Mark's issued from the loft, but Mimi didn't have time to be alarmed because Mark was already pulling the stranger into view.

"Ro-" she squeaked, eyes so wide they were in danger of popping out of her skull. He smiled, looking somewhat uncomfortable or maybe just cold standing before her in his ratty old boxers, Mark practically wrapped around his arm.

"Hey, Mimi…" He shifted and looked to Mark pleadingly and yeah, he was definitely uncomfortable. "I, uh- I'll just go change… if you want me to come-"

"Oh, you're coming." Mark's tone left no room for argument. With a sigh, Roger nodded and trudged out of sight, presumably to the bedroom… whose, she didn't know.

It was only then that she realized what Mark's similar state of undress meant.

"YOU!" she gasped. "You two! Oh my God, Mark! Tell me everything!" She grabbed at his skinny arms with her perfectly manicured mocha hands and he laughed, shaking his head and backing away slightly.

"I'll tell you all about it later… He's back." Blue eyes shining, Mark looked every inch head over heels. His expression made her wonder if his feet were even touching the ground, and she had to resist the strong urge to look down and check. "He's BACK."

Pushing back the anger that had been rising up in her at Roger's sudden reappearance, and his abandonment, Mimi smiled genuinely back at her friend and reached to squeeze his hand. "I know, baby," she said, nodding back to the hallway. "Maybe you should go get dressed too. It's chilly."

"Alright- I'll just be a minute."

Like a giddy schoolboy, Mark pranced back into the loft and into his room to clothe himself. Mimi leaned against the frame to wait.

Despite herself, the smile was impossible to wipe from her face.





The aforementioned guitarist winced and shrunk down into Mark as though the smaller man could protect him. His hair, he had complained as Mimi and Mark had dragged him out of the loft, wasn't perfect and his eyeliner unapplied but nevertheless here he was.

Life Support. He hadn't been to the meetings in months, even before he had left, and he found himself relieved to see most of the same faces smiling back at him, weary but alive. Apparently none of them had been told about his up-and-leaving, because no one was booing and hissing as he'd expected. Even Mimi had yet to rip his head off. Was everyone really so unaffected by his absence? Before he could overthink it anymore, Roger found himself pulled down into a chair beside Mark. It was the first time, he vaguely realized, that he'd seen Mark actually in the circle of the sick people and it hit him again that his friend was positive. Another wave of sadness began to swell towards him and Mark seemed to sense it because he frowned and shook his head minutely, tightening his grip on Roger's hand.

"No day but today," he mouthed, raising an eyebrow as if to challenge him. Roger had to smile at that. He nodded, letting it go for the moment, and turned his attention back to the meeting.

Paul started off with an introduction, as usual, and then they went around the circle spouting off names and ages and other such information. Roger had begun to zone out when he heard a familiar voice- another that he hadn't heard in months.

"Tom Collins. Friends call me Collins."

Snapping his attention to the tall black man a couple of seats away, Roger's green eyes lit up. Beside him he could almost feel Mark's smile radiating into the open air. "Roger Davis," he said when it came to be his turn. His head felt light in the most pleasant of ways. Everything was coming together now- Mark loved him, they didn't have to worry anymore, and all of their friends were still together. The darker pair of eyes met his and they weren't even hostile. He wanted to sing.

Maybe later he would. Karaoke night at the Life Café…

He recalled his post-coital conversation late that night with Mark, the blonde man curled up to his chest, sleepy and content. It had been a long talk and there was more than one tearful moment, more than one little spat, but everything had worked out. It had to. You weren't best friends for that many years, roommates for that many years, without that unbreakable bond forming.

It would take time to rebuild Mark's trust. He knew that. But he also knew that Mark loved him and he loved Mark and if it was the last thing he did, he was going to make sure Mark always knew it too. Trust? He could do that. Love? He could certainly do that.

The meeting went smoothly, even with Mark's stuttering introduction and his saddening news. (which earned him more than a few empathetic glances and Roger a couple of disapproving looks) All too soon it was over. Roger couldn't remember another Life Support meeting that had ever gone so quickly for him, but maybe it was just Mark's hand clutching his the entire time, firm, as if he never planned on letting go again.

Not that Roger would object.

When the chairs were put away and the goodbyes were exchanged, Roger turned and found himself enveloped in one of Collins' famous suffocating bear hugs. "Hey- man-" he choked, laughing as much as he could in such a restricting position. Behind him, Mark was sniggering and Mimi was watching in amusement, dark eyes still slightly wary.

"Welcome home, you little bitch!" The anarchist chuckled deeply, squeezing him tighter and then releasing him mercifully. Stumbling back, Roger gasped for air, face a beacon of crimson, but he was laughing too. The filmmaker drew him closer and Roger instinctively leaned into his touch, letting Mark wrap his arms around his waist and turning his head slightly to meet him halfway for a light kiss, eyes falling shut. The dim, silent community center faded away for a moment as he absorbed the warmth of Mark's presence, still rejoicing in the face that he was really back-

"Ahem." Collins coughed into his fist, far more amused than he had any right to be. Mimi had been whispering in his ear the situation as she knew it, and although he'd been slightly skeptical he could see that she was right. Those boys loved each other. He'd known it to begin with, of course- that prediction he'd made years ago had proved correct at last and he wasn't surprised. They were cute, wrapped around each other and oblivious to their surroundings. He hated to interrupt them, but now wasn't the time for them to be having what he was sure was their fifteenth or so make out session since Roger had returned.

"Boys," he tried again, a little more commanding. Mimi giggled, unable to look away from their kissing friends, and Roger broke away with a petulant frown. "Hn?" he grunted, but the philosopher just gestured to the door pointedly, indicating that they should leave.

"Come on," Mark drawled, still flushed and beaming. Once again he tugged Roger along as the group moved towards the outside. Just as they exited into the frosty New York afternoon, sun watery above them reflecting off of the dirty slush in the gutters and on the stoop, an ear-piercing shriek was heard and they stopped in their tracks, alarmed. The source became clear all too soon as an over-excited Maureen came barreling towards them with Joanne in tow, squealing and fixated on Mark and Roger's clasped hands.


"Judging by the size of that hickey, I think he knows," Joanne commented drily, digging her heels in to keep her girlfriend from flinging herself at the two men. She gave Mark a smile and then turned to Roger, looking a tad more distrustful. "And you-" She marched up to him and tugged him down to her level by the collar, narrowing her eyes. "Take care of him. Right. I'm not letting you fuck up like that again, you got it?"

"Hey, hey," Mark protested, pulling the guilt-tripped Roger behind him slightly and taking a protective stance. "I can make my own decisions, you know. And threats. It's okay, really…"

Seeming to run out of steam, he just shrugged. In the absence of Jo's restraining hand, Maureen flew at Mark and hugged him in celebration, talking at top speed about how happy she was for him and how great this was to have everyone back together… Roger tuned out eventually, glancing around, and he met Mimi's eyes. She was relaxed, not angry, and even offered a small smile. He found himself grinning back.

Okay, so he had to earn everyone's trust back. But he could do that, too.

"Who's up for lunch?" He looked up as Collins suddenly spoke, drawing all eyes to him. All around there was nodding and small sounds of agreement. "Alrighty, then, it's on me!" Flashing his teeth, Collins proudly pulled a hundred dollar bill from his pocket, eliciting cheers and gasps from the group.

"Where did you get that?" Roger exclaimed. None of them had seen a hundred dollar bill in probably years, maybe never- money was tight in Alphabet City. But Collins just grinned smugly.

"Benefits of having a real job, Mr. Musician," he taunted. Roger glowered, but his heart wasn't in it. In the end he shrugged and that was that. Collins waved them all down the street towards the Life in one sweeping motion of his hand and they were off.

"I love you," Mark murmured to him once they were a safe distance behind the others. Unable to stop smiling, Roger slowed and pulled Mark closer, whispering in his ear before continuing.

"I love you too."


Several exhausting hours later, the boho boys found themselves in bed again. This time all of their clothes were still on and neither of them was speaking, but it still felt intimate. Head on Roger's chest, Mark could hear every one of his steady heart beats, quickening when his hand made its way teasingly up the other's thigh. Roger swatted it halfheartedly away and he gave a throaty laugh.

The party at the Life had been everything he could have imagined for a welcome home party and more. Karaoke night had changed since he'd been there but they had still managed to set up the equipment, much to the other customer's protest, and sing a few rounds of old Well-Hungarians songs from Roger's early musical career. Having Mark beside him in the spotlight on top of the table, clutching the microphone and shouting the familiar words right along with him, had been a magical moment. His heart squeezed with the knowledge that he was going to have this perfect, wonderful man for the rest of his natural life.

Feeling overwhelmed with this sappy romanticism, Roger couldn't help but sighing under his breath, "Iloveyou…"

Mark snorted. "I love you too. And it's the sixtieth time I've said it today. Ever going to get tired of it?" Secretly he was pleased with Roger's clinginess and Romeo-esque words but he wasn't going to jeopardize his masculinity to tell him that. He shifted, feeling a dirty smile slide onto his face as he replaced his hand on the guitarist's jean-clad thigh.

Besides, he wasn't in the mood for romance. He was, however, in the mood for other things.

"Hey!" Roger protested, sitting up and scrambling backwards, nose wrinkled. "Keep it in your pants, Cohen!"

"Roger Davis doesn't want sex?" Mark's eyebrows shot up and disappeared into his hair. Flustered, Roger stammered in an attempt to explain himself.

"I- I do- don't be a dick, Mark. We just- last night- I don't want you to think I came back just for-"

"Oh calm DOWN. God." The filmmaker laughed and popped the button on his own pants, feeling a surge of victory as he felt rather than saw Roger's eyes snap to the front of his corduroys. "What, you think we can't have sex more than once in twenty four hours? What about the bathroom at the Life? You weren't protesting then."

Blushing furiously at the memory, Roger nearly groaned out loud. "Real men don't refuse a blowjob," he mumbled, feeling his good intentions crumble around him at the promise of having Mark beneath him again-

Or on top of him.

He opened his eyes to see the blue-eyed man gazing at him so intensely that he nearly came right there. "Practice makes perfect," he quoted, and Roger recalled saying that to him so many days ago, before the whole fiasco.

"I'm pretty sure we're already perfect," he said lamely, even as he was shifting closer, growing harder by the second as Mark shimmied out of his pants.

"There's always room for improvement."

Mark leaned forward and captured his lips and that was it. He let go, allowing himself to push his new love onto his back and straddle his hips, beginning once again.

He had to admit it this time- Mark was right. There was no reason that they couldn't build on what they already had. There was always room for improvement…

A low groan issued from one of their throats but neither of them could tell whose.

When they finally kicked the bucket, Mark and Roger were going to be pretty perfect indeed.