Categories > Theatre > Rent > Cutting Room Floor

Unexpected Visit

by Camera_Doesnt_Lie 0 reviews

Mark finds a very sick Roger on his doorstep. But what's he doing so far from Santa Fe?

Category: Rent - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters:  Mark, Roger - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2005-05-06 - Updated: 2005-05-06 - 1399 words

AN: As with before, I don't own anything related to RENT.

In all honesty, the knock scared Mark. Only three people ever came to visit him and all of them were predisposed to walk right in. So, startled, he'd leapt up from his chair and almost knocked it over.

"Just a second!"

He opened the door, half-expecting to find, oh, the police on the landing. With a shout of, "Roger!" he barely had time to steady himself before his friend collapsed, unconscious, onto him.

He was freezing. And burning up at the same time, and, hell, Roger, what happened to you..?

Fortunately, and scarily, he didn't weigh much. Hardly weighed anything...

Mark dragged Roger to the couch and arranged him on it. There was a torn woolen blanket that he used as a throw, which he wrapped around the trembling body.

He spent the next, what, hour?-two, three?-just sitting on the battered coffee table and staring at him.

God, he was pale... And so skinny-when had his last decent meal been?

Thinking of it, when'd Mark last eaten? Yesterday, he thought. Might've been the day before. Either way, he needed something to sustain him. Especially since Roger'd need him when he woke up.

So, he poured himself a bowl of cereal. Off-branded, with no milk nor a clean spoon, but. Well. Food was food.

He started to sit at the wobbly kitchen table. Then Roger groaned and rolled over. Maybe he should stay closer.

Mark sat back down on the coffee table and tried to eat. Then he stopped, the spoon halfway to his mouth.

Roger'd need food more.

He stared at the bowl in his hands-must've been an entire day's worth of food. Yesterday's portion, probably.

Well, supposing Roger wanted two bowls?

Mark's stomach growled. Loud enough to wake Roger, apparently.


That didn't sound like Roger at all. It wasn't his voice; wasn't loud or carefree. Wasn't even cheerful. Where was the music? The bravado?

Then again, he was sick. He wouldn't sound like himself, would he.

"Hey..." Mark said as he put the bowl down.

Roger propped himself up on his elbow-he shouldn't be doing that; he's going to wear himself out-and Mark felt his friend's forehead.

"How're you feeling?"

Looking at him now, Mark saw exactly how bad off Roger was. He was bone-thin and so pale he was just short of transparent. The only color in his face was the almost-black of the rings around his eyes.

"I've been better," Roger said at last, sitting himself up. Mark fought the urge to make him lay back down.

"Obviously," he said, lowering his eyes and busying himself with adjusting Roger's pillow. "Are you warm enough? Hungry; thirsty? What're you doing in New York, anyway?"

In spite of himself, Mark grinned. It was their first meeting all over again. A hundred-thousand questions and they all had to be answered /now/.

"I'm fine," Roger assured him with a small grin-had he always looked so ghostly when he smiled?-and a shake of his head. "No, I'm not hungry; yes, I'd like something to drink."

Mark stood and walked to the kitchen to see what they had. It came down to urine or water. Given the choice... Water, it was. He took down a glass and started to fill it.

Here, Roger hesitated. Mark didn't see it, but he heard it from the kitchen.

"I'm... visiting."

Visiting? In the middle of the semester?

Before Mark could stop himself, he voiced that thought. He handed Roger the cup, then sat again and watched him drink.

"I... dropped out," Roger said between sips.

Mark opened his mouth. Then shut it again. He did this several times, dimly aware that Roger was watching him.

It didn't make sense. Roger'd loved living on campus. Besides, it wasn't like he couldn't afford it-he had to make $1,000 a week playing at Eric's parties.

Finally, his mind settled on the most urgent question, "Why?" Another jumped from him before he could stop it, one that had been burning to be asked since the instant he'd opened the door. "What happened to you, anyway? You look..."

And, again, words could not do the situation its horrible justice.

What wasn't he telling?

Roger wasn't looking quite at him-more of at the table he sat on-as he responded, "I- it got too hard... Nothing happened; I'm just a little sick." Another sip and then, "I know I look terrible."

"Terrible's not the word." But exactly what the word was eluded him, so he added, "D'you need more water? Maybe I should call for a doctor."

Mark stood and started to take Roger's glass. For some reason, though, Roger wouldn't let him. He just tightened his grip and shook his head. Then he lay back down, looking now slightly paler, if that was possible. As he did so, Roger put the glass on the table.


"No... I just need to rest. I'll be fine in a few days."

Roger wrapped the blanket tighter around his shoulders and shivered, then grinned.

It was a horrible smile, really, not his usual dazzling grin. Where in that pale, gaunt face was Roger?

"You're sure?" Mark pressed. Something wasn't right here. Even without his camera, he could see that.

There was something behind his eyes, something... desperate? Roger squeezed those terrible, frightened eyes closed and Mark could breathe again.

He watched as Roger turned slightly, uneasily. After a moment, Mark stood and started to take Roger's glass back to the kitchen.

Then came the yell. "NO!"

Mark came back to his friend's side, not noticing or caring about the shattered glass that now littered the entryway. Roger'd sat upright with the shout, so he hugged him close. Roger stiffened for a moment and tried to pull away.

"You're sure you're alright..?" Mark asked, not releasing him. After another moment's tension, he breathed and relaxed into the embrace.

Mark waited a few seconds more before he let go; Roger lolled slightly and leaned against the back of the couch.

God, the way he was breathing... Maybe he should call the doctor anyway...

"No," Roger said as Mark went for the phone. His eyes were half-closed; his head leaned at an odd angle. "No, I'm fine..."

"You are not," Mark insisted, picking up the phone. "Get some rest-please-I'm going to call for someone to have a look at you."

Fortunately, he didn't argue as Mark placed the call. The problem was that there was no way he'd be able to pay for a house-call... So he phoned the very last person on earth he wanted to talk to at the moment.

His mother... He was just grateful that she agreed to pay for it without too many questions. Then she'd made arrangements to send the family physician over.

Guess she's good for something, he thought as he hung up and walked back to the couch. He helped Roger lie back down, whether or not he wanted to.

"I..." Roger started as Mark sat once more on the table. Mark automatically leaned closer to hear, but Roger checked himself. "No... Nevermind."

Something was haunting him; something behind those grey eyes, begging to be told. But what..?

"Rogge, if there's anything you want to say..." He stood, straightened out the blanket and settled it over Roger again. "You know I'll listen."

"I know..." And then he was silent.

"You..." Mark sighed and sat back down. "Just get some rest... The doctor'll be here soon."

Roger coughed just then, a short but intense fit. Mark was on his feet again almost before he knew he'd moved. He sat on the couch and pulled Roger against him, rubbing his back.

"Roger..?" He patted his friend's shoulder softly as the fit ended. Roger's breathing was heavy and ragged. "Rogge..."


It wasn't a word so much as a groan. The next thing Mark knew, Roger'd drifted off in his lap into another uneasy sleep.
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