Disclaimer: No, really, it's Jonathan Larson's.
Authoress Note: Oh my, three chapters in three days! Woo-hoo! I owe it to you guys for not updating in so long!
Alexia's crying racked my brain, each sob breaking my heart a little bit more. I couldn't stand it. I just couldn't take it anymore.
Mark really was my best friend. I could help but realize that maybe I'd thrown that all away these last couple of years, being the way that I had. Demanding the rent...turning off their power and heat on Christmas Eve, almost not coming to Alexia's dinner party...I'd been terrible.
All of those crazy things we did at Brown, Mark and I, sprang into my mind. The time he got pantsied in the dorm hallway and pretty much the entire junior class saw his tweety bird boxers, or the time that we hid out under the tables when the food fight between the football players and the basketball jocks broke out in the chuckery.
God, where did that Benny go? The Benny that cared about someone other than himself? The Benny that had friends?
Alexia's crying reminded me that I may never get the chance to apologize to Mark, and I hated myself for it.
I was brought out of my reverie by the answering machine yelling in my ear:
"Mark, come on, and let me sleep." I grumbled, rubbing my eyes and grabbing my glasses from my nightstand.
"Alexia, I have to tell you who did it." Mark said, "It was-"
Before I realized what I was doing, I was on my feet and running out of my bedroom, toward the phone. I almost dropped it trying to answer. "Hello?"
Roger dashed out, too, and Benny sat up from his position on the couch that couldn't have been too awful comfortable. "Who is it?" They both asked.
"Alexia, sweetie, it's Angel-"
"And Collins!" I heard from the background.
"Angel?" I asked, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Do you?" She asked.
"Like three-thirty in the morning?"
"Look at a clock, chica."
I turned and noticed that I had been wrong. It was ten o'clock in the morning. How had I gotten eight hours of sleep with all that's been going on? How had I gotten any sleep with all that's been going on? "Oh," I said. "It's ten." I should have been out of here an hour ago and on my way to see Mark. I should have been there by now. Maybe something had changed and Dr. McKenna had forgotten to call. "Angie, I've gotta go get showered."
"Well, give the phone to Roger, 'Kay Hon?" Angel asked.
I nodded (even though Angel couldn't see me) and handed the phone toward Roger, motioning to the bathroom and mouthing 'I'm going to go shower.' He nodded and I turned on my heel and headed toward the bathroom.
"Angel, we need to talk." Roger said as son as he heard the door click, signaling that Alexia was safely behind the bathroom door and out of earshot.
"What's up honey?" Angel asked. "Did something change with Mark?"
"No, no," Roger answered quickly, realizing how cryptic he must have sounded. "Nothings changed, at least, nothing that we're aware of. And, I'm sure if something had changed, someone from the hospital would have called. Alexia practically threatened to drag the nurse over the counter at the nurses' station by her scrub collar if we weren't contacted as soon as something changed."
Angel giggled. "Listen Roger, honey, Collins and I are coming over. Don't leave without us."
The hot water felt good on my shoulders, beating down like a summer's rain. I may have slept eight hours, but I obviously didn't sleep well. I woke up stiff when I heard the answering machine. As I surmised before, I had slept too long, too. I usually can only sleep eight hours and not wake up groggy. Any longer, and I am not a happy camper.
I reached for my shampoo, the Aveda shampoo in the taupe bottle that Mark constantly made fun of. "It's all natural Alexia," he'd tease, "So, you can use this stuff but still wonder why Collins insists on tofu turkey at Thanksgiving?"
I laughed a little as I remembered that conversation. After Mark had said that, I aimed the shampoo at his face and squeezed it together quite forcefully.
"Alexia!" Mark had shouted, wiping the shampoo off of his glasses as I took off, tearing out of the bathroom, laughing whole-heartedly. I felt even better when I heard Mark laughing as well. "Get back here!" He called, catching up with me in front of the couch. He put his arms around my waist, and we both toppled to the floor, crying we were laughing so hard. "You're psychotic." He chided playfully. "Why'd you run?"
"Because you were chasing me!" I replied, turning to kiss him lightly. "Yech, my shampoo tastes terrible!" I chided back, wiping a streak of the gelatinous wash away from his lips.
"You're losing your towel." Mark said, nodding in my general direction. I set myself to the task of fixing it.
Right at that moment, Joanne slid the steel door to the loft open and walked in. I opened my mouth to explain, but she stopped me. "You know what Alexia, I don't want to know. It's fine, really, I didn't see anything." And with that, she stalked into Mimi's room, a manila folder from her law office in her hands, probably pertaining to Mimi's rehab.
Mark and I just looked at each other for a moment, and then we both cracked up. "What did she think we were doing?" I asked between giggles.
"I'm afraid to ask." Mark replied.
As I stepped out of the shower, I marveled at the memories that anything and everything in the loft held. A shampoo bottle. The same shampoo bottle that I would use everyday until it was empty, and then I'd throw it away and buy a new one, no strings attached. But, maybe the saying was true, that one about never realizing what you had until it was gone.
Well, alright, it wasn't true. I knew I had Mark, I knew how much we loved each other, I knew that we were meant to be, that he was the one. But when he wasn't there to be with, to hold, to kiss, I realized that without him, life would most certainly suck.
The door of the loft slid back, revealing Collins and Angel, who was glamorized to the hilt in a rhinestone chocker and acid green ensemble. She leaned against Collins with a warm confidence that was painfully apparent as the professor slid his arm around Angel's waist and she giggled.
Alexia, as she emerged from the room that she and Mark shared wearing Mark's dark blue and gray scarf slung under the collar of her shocking pink trench coat that fell just above mid-calf, wanted to hate them for their happiness. Happiness that she and Mark might never share again. She shook her head slightly. Thanks for sharing, Alexia thought to herself, We'll be doing that soon. I find whoever shot him, and Mark will wake up.
Alexia didn't know whom she was trying to convince, herself or some high power.
"Alexia, chica!" Angel cried, pulling her friend into a much-needed bear hug. "What's up?"
Out of nowhere, just when she thought she'd finally managed to get her emotions under some kind of control, Alexia began sobbing again. Don't people ever just run out of tears? "Oh god Angie," she showed Angel her engagement ring. "Roger said that Mark was going to propose!"
Angel patted her friend's back. "I helped him pick that ring chica."
Alexia just began sobbing harder, almost ignoring Angel's comment. "And we ran into Benny when we were going back to Mark. Roger started beating him up, and then I stopped him and we all went back inside and they called a code while we were in the gift shop and it was Mark, Angel, it was Mark again!" She bit her lip for a second, trying to pull some shards of herself together. "Whoever shot him unplugged his ventilator. Angel, they tried to kill him again." Alexia finished, plopping down on the couch.
Collins giggled a little bit, and Alexia gave him a look that was an odd mixture of fear, loathing and curiosity, as the professor sat down at the breakfast table, in Mark's usual chair. Alexia felt her fingernails dig into the palms of her hands as her hands drew into fists at her sides. What was Collins so happy about? She'd just told he and Angel that Mark had flat lined yet again, and there Collins was, giggling.
Oh my god. She thought, thinking what she had before thought was unthinkable. It wasn't Roger or I, of course, and I know it wasn't Benny, but, oh my god...
Roger nervously tapped his foot as he sat down across from Collins at the breakfast table. He could tell from the look on Alexia's face that they had both had the same thought at almost the same time. Roger had gotten famously talented at reading Alexia's facial expressions over the last twenty-...he looked at the nearby wall clock...twenty-seven hours. She could go from incomprehensibly distraught to reverent to dangerously hostile in a matter of seconds, and her expressions gave away her every thought. Roger surmised that it had something to do with her being an actress. She just wasn't trained to hide her emotions. Subconsciously, something told her to let the world see exactly what she was feeling when she was feeling it.
Whoa, the musician thought as the picture window that was visible out of the corner of his eye seemed to spin just a little bit. See Rog, you should have just gone to bed last night instead of playing like an idiot. What, do you think that playing Musetta's Waltz fifty thousand times is somehow going to help Mark?
"Hey Collins," Roger began, staring intently at his friend, attempting to ask the question before Alexia tried to beat the answer out of the professor. Roger pictured that scene in his mind and almost chuckled...almost. "Uh, hey, dude, do you remember what exactly you were doing when the lights went out last night?"
Collins chuckled drunkenly again. "What Roger, are you writing a book, man?"
"No, no," Roger answered, "I, uh, just, um you know, wondered. No, I'm not writing anything. Never really like forming sentences on paper that weren't for songs."
Angel suddenly jumped to her feet. "Coffee anyone?" She declared and set off for the kitchen. "I'm thirsty, is anyone else? Alexia, chica, where do you guys keep the coffee filters?" She began rifling through random drawers and cupboards.
"Mark and I don't really drink coffee. Tea, that, I can help you with, coffee, not so much." Alexia answered, standing and following Angel into the "kitchen", and beginning to search for the filters as well.
Roger shook his head as he stood, shaking off the sleep that was wearing at the edges of his vision.
Suddenly, Angel screamed.
"Angel, what?" I cried as she kept screaming.
"In there! In there!" She called, pointing to the open drawer above the wastebasket. "Oh my godohmygodohmygodohmygod!"
"What?" I called again, following her point.
I gasped. In the drawer, on top of the spare invitations to the dinner party, was a revolver.
ALEXIA'S POV (Later)
My first instinct was to call the police, the nice red haired detective that had interviewed me the night that Mark was shot. She'd know what to do, and I had her on speakerphone.
"Don't let anybody touch it." She said. "No one, okay?"
"Sure." I said, beginning to cry again.
But, this could be the break that we needed in cracking this case...finally.
"Read me the serial number if you can see it." The detective said.
I peered into the drawer, and, thankfully, I could see the seven raised numbers. "Okay, six, nine, eight, five, four, two, zero." I heard the clicking of a keyboard.
"Okay," the detective began. "It shows here that that firearm is registered to a Miss Mimi Marquez."
At that exact moment, Roger swayed and then collapsed.