Mimi sat in the loft, bored. She came over to hang with her two favorite boho boys, but Roger was sleeping, and Mark was apparently in the shower.
She supposed she should have made her presence known – and she would have – but it was such a rewarding sight when Mark emerged from the bathroom, clad only in boxers, hands busying themselves with drying his hair, his towel blocking his vision.
Mimi watched with a raised eyebrow, a smirk forming on her lips. She whistled. Mark nearly tripped as he realized he wasn’t alone. Mimi laughed as he just stood there awkwardly, his hands at his side and towel hanging off his head. He blinked at her.
“Well, look at you,” she cooed, making the filmmaker blush, “who knew you looked that good shirtless, despite being on the pale side.” She giggled.
Mark finally recovered from his initial shock and rolled his eyes. “Good morning to you, too.” He turned to escape to his room, and that’s when Mimi saw it.
“Hey, wait!” She called, sitting up straight on the couch. Mark faced her again, eyebrow raised at her tone. “Where’d you get that scar?”
Mark seemed to stiffen, his eyes growing slightly wider. “Don’t remember.” He said hurriedly.
“Bullshit!” Mimi scoffed. “That thing looks like something you get from a gang fight.” She said in slight awe.
It was a cool sight, though, at least to her. It was a jagged line across the top of his right arm, easily hidden by whatever shirt he would wear, which is probably why she never knew about it. The scar was a little frightening, though, too. It stood out easily against Mark’s fair skin, an ugly faded purple-ish color. What on Earth could have caused it?
Mimi waited for Mark’s answer, but he just stood there, rigid. “Mark, tell me,” she coaxed, “that thing looks vicious!” She got up to move to him but paused when Mark flinched slightly. “Mark?”
“It’s nothing, Mimi!” Mark stated, his voice too loud even to himself. He made to leave again when he stopped still at the sight of a yawning Roger emerging from his bedroom.
The musician was scratching his head, a confused look on his face. “What’s going on?” He looked at Mimi to Mark.
Before Mark could say anything, Mimi chirped, “Mark won’t tell me where he got the scar on his arm.” Roger cocked his head.
“It’s nothing.” Mark insisted as he brought his towel from his head to his shoulders as if wearing a shawl, effectively hiding said scar.
Roger blinked, sleep still holding him some. “Mark has a scar?” Roger asked Mimi, intrigued.
“How could you not notice?” Mimi questioned incredulously. “It looks like he was in a knife fight!”
Mimi watched as Roger processed the information, noting how, in an instant, any trace of sleepiness quickly left Roger’s features. She watched as his eyes widened as confusion, uncertainty and horror each crossed over his face. Mimi saw him clench his fists, and she noticed Mark tremble slightly.
Then, Roger moved. He rushed at Mark, making the filmmaker flinch when Roger clenched at his towel. “You son of a bitch!” Roger growled. Mimi froze at the anger in her boyfriend’s voice.
“Roger...” Mark began.
“You stupid, son of a bitch.” Roger yanked the towel away from Mark, exposing the pale flesh and the ugly scar.
Everything stopped. Mark didn’t breathe as Roger stared at him, at the scar. Mimi found herself holding her breath too, afraid to interrupt the scene before her.
Roger slowly raised his arm, hand inching toward the perversion on Mark’s skin. There was a hesitancy that Mimi noticed in his movements, almost as if he were afraid to touch it, like he didn’t think it was real.
Mark just stared at the floor, unable or unwilling to meet his roommate’s eyes. Roger’s hand was mere inches from the skin, but he stopped short, his hand clenching into a fist. For a moment, it looked like he was going to cry. Then, though, Roger turned away and hurried to his room, slamming the door. Mimi stared at Mark, who just stood there, boring holes into the floor.
“What the hell, Mark?” Mimi asked at length. Mark seemed confused, as if just realizing she hadn’t left. “Why did he react like that? It doesn’t make sense...” Mimi gazed at him, her eyes gleaming with something Mark couldn’t really place.
“Um,” Mark kind of fidgeted, feeling rather exposed by his naked chest, “Roger, he... gave me this scar.” Mark said slowly, hand going to cover the perversion on his skin. Mimi just looked at the man before her, not quite believing.
“Please,” Mimi scoffed, “Like he’d be able to hurt you. You’re Mark fucking Cohen.” Mimi almost spat, a trace of resentment laced in her voice. Mark looked a little hurt. Mimi bit her lip. “Roger wouldn’t hurt his best friend.” She added, softer.
Mark sighed, rubbing the back of his neck uneasily. “He wasn’t himself during withdrawal.” Mimi narrowed her eyes at the word, her brow furrowing. Mark sighed again before explaining. “Collins went out to get food or something; hell if I remember. Roger was sleeping, or so I thought.” Mark paused, sending the tiniest glance to Roger’s door.
“Go on,” Mimi was growing anxious. “What happened?”
Mark took a breath. “He came at me, talking nonsense for a hit. He was weaker than normal, but he was also more desperate, so that must have been what made him act so violently. We got in a tussle, and he threw me into that,” Mark pointed at an old coffee table-like stand that was semi-hiding behind the couch, and Mimi noticed how one leg was duck taped back together, “The leg broke and pierced my skin, and I was down for the count. Collins came back and was furious. I’d never seen him that angry before. Collins yelled at him for a good bit, all the while getting me off the floor and to the Clinic.
“I was treated – nothing really exciting to tell. When we got back, Roger had hauled himself up in his room. I tried to coax him out, but he wouldn’t have it. Collins told me it was for the better. After that, he rarely came out, only doing so when I begged him to eat. I still don’t know what happened. Collins might, but he’d never tell me. When Roger was better and finally out of his room, he noticed the table and asked about it. I guess he didn’t remember, so I never told him. Instead, I made up some story about a rat or something.”
Mark finished with a glance to Roger’s closed door, unconsciously running his hand over his scar.
“So,” Mimi began, trying to take in the information, “he’s upset because you kept it from him?” Mimi narrowed her eyes as she framed the question, still unsure if she understood.
“I’m guessing. I basically lied to him, kept something important from him. Plus, he’s probably even more upset after my whole... escape method.” Mark adverted his eyes after saying this. He knew Mimi knew, but it didn’t mean he wanted to or liked talking about it.
They stood in silence for a while. Mimi stared at Mark, her eyes aglow. Then, after a quick glance at Roger’s door, she asked, “Mark... Have you and Roger ever done anything sexual together, besides that dumb decision of yours?”
Mark blinked at her, unsure if she was seriously asking him that question. “No.” He answered. “Why would you even think that?” He looked at her, trying to get a sense of what she was feeling or thinking.
Mimi just stared back, shrugging. “It seems like there’s something more to you two.” The way she gazed at him made Mark extremely uncomfortable. “I mean, Collins and Maureen always joke about how you two are such a couple and how in love you are. I was kind of worried when I first started dating him.” She seemed to let her guard down, her eyes revealing a kind of sadness. It passed quickly, however, and she met Mark’s eyes with the same intenseness she had when she asked the question.
Mark sighed and, feeling the exhaustion of answering her coming on, pinched the bridge of his nose. “Look, Mimi, Collins and Maureen love to joke. That’s all that talk is, a joke.” Mimi still looked skeptic. “I promise you, Mimi, that’s all it is. Hell, I still love Maureen.” Mimi seemed genuinely surprised at that. Mark smiled. “Don’t you dare tell her. Refrain from that topic in girl talk, okay?”
Mimi smiled, doing exactly what Mark hoped she would. He also hoped she would let the subject go. Both on Maureen and Roger. Her smile faltered a bit, and her eyes traveled back to Roger’s door then to Mark’s scar.
“I want to believe you, Mark, but I don’t think you could have lived together for so long without doing anything. Plus, that reaction was definitely more than an ‘I hurt just a friend’ one.” She said with the slightest hint of worry laced in her voice.
“Mimi, there’s no proof I can offer you, but I swear we didn’t do anything.” Mark said in all sincerity. This seemed to work because Mimi sighed in seemingly relief.
“Alright then.” She walked to the door, turning before existing. “Tell him to meet me for dinner, okay?” When Mark nodded, Mimi gave him a smile and a wave, and she was gone.
Mark sighed yet again and went in his room. He finally got dressed, sparing one last look of distaste at the damn scar that started the whole mess. Mark left his room reluctantly, feeling so tired. When he entered the so-called living room, he was surprised to find Roger sitting on the couch, fiddling with his hands.
The guitarist barely looked up when Mark walked toward him, still focusing on his hands. Mark didn’t know what to say without eliciting an angry response. However, to his surprise, Roger was the one to talk first.
“You lied.” Roger stated quietly, still not looking at Mark. The filmmaker felt a little uneasy at the quiet detachment Roger was showing.
“Roger,” Mark started gently, “I didn’t want to bring it up if you didn’t remember. I thought it would cause unnecessary emotions and –”
“No,” Roger interjected, looking up. Mark braced himself for a shout. “I get that. It was stupid to get that upset over something that happened years ago. I’m sorry.” Mark was surprised and was about to say something when Roger spoke again. “I meant you lied to Mimi.” He finished quietly.
Mark furrowed his brow. “What? When?” He was at a loss. Roger just looked up at him, his eyes shining with something Mark was afraid to place.
“Never mind.” He got up, running his hands through his hair. “So, I’m meeting her for dinner then? Better go down and see where she wants to go.” He sounded almost as if he was resigned. Mark wasn’t sure what was going on, but he definitely didn’t like it.
“Hey, wait,” Mark said loudly, surprising Roger and himself. Roger turned to him, eyebrow raised. Mark didn’t actually know what he was doing. Roger stared at his roommate, waiting. “What did you mean?” Roger’s face went blank, and that scared Mark more that it should have.
“Nothing. I said forget it.” And with that he turned to leave again. Mark suddenly found himself pissed. He rushed at his roommate, grabbing him by the arm to turn him around so that they were facing each other.
“No, I won’t. Every time I say those words, you never listen to me, so you don’t get to walk away from this. Now explain.” Mark spat, his eyes blazing. Roger stared back defiantly, which eventually crumbled under Mark’s heated determination and harsh grip.
Roger sighed. “You lied to Mimi about not being sexual with me.” Roger said with his eyes elsewhere. Mark blinked. He released Roger’s arm in uncertainty. “You might not remember, or even want to remember, but I do.” He added softly. Mark panicked for a moment, the instance during Mark’s poor decision flashing through his mind. But as he looked at Roger, he could tell that moment wasn’t what he was referring to.
Mark looked at the man before him, taking in his appearance, the way he was slouching slightly, the way his eyes weren’t looking at Mark, the way his hands were clenching and unclenching. Mark knew the silence was making Roger uncomfortable, but he just didn’t know what to do next. Finally, as Roger started to retreat, Mark spoke.
“Valentine’s Day, 1988.” Roger stopped, his back still turned on Mark. “That’s what you’re talking about, isn’t it?” Roger turned around, his eyes slightly wider than before. Mark wanted to laugh. “I don’t really count that.” Besides, Mimi would flip her shit if she found out.
“You don’t count that.” Roger echoed, his eyes narrowing. Mark began to get nervous as Roger moved closer to him. “A blow job isn’t sexual to you?” Roger asked, his temper flaring a bit.
Mark backed up a little. “Roger, it’s not that... It’s just –”
“Just what, Mark?” Roger snapped. “You’d count something stupid and meaningless like using me to kill yourself, but you wouldn’t count something that was meant to be special?” Roger breathed deeply, trying to calm himself. He knew what he just said, and he hoped that Mark would both get it and not.
Mark stayed silent. He had no idea what to say. He remembered that day perfectly, and it was special. The way Roger waited for him, pretending to read a week’s old newspaper, the way Roger grinned mischievously as he handed Mark the box with only a sentence in it, the way Roger threw him down and preceded to give Mark the best blow job he’d ever had, the whole day played with terrifying clarity in his mind’s reel.
“Forget it. Obviously I was wrong...” Roger said finally, that defeated tone in his voice, bringing Mark back to the present. “I’m going to see Mimi.” And without so much as a glance back, Roger left.
Mark just stared at the door. He didn’t want to think about the feeling pinching at his gut, or what it might mean. He didn’t even want to think about the rising urge to bring Roger back. Mark decided to go back to sleep, or at least take a nap. He didn’t want to deal with these new thoughts and feelings. The last few months have been hell on both his body and mind.
I just keep digging myself into a deeper hole...