Summary: Santa Fe is everything New York is not…and Roger can’t stand that.

Besides, it’s missing one important thing—something Roger just can’t live without. Author’s Note: I was listening to What You Own the other day, and I was curious as to what happened in Santa Fe…musicalverse, I mean. I think some is stolen from the movie, but otherwise it’s all original. This is Mark/Roger FRIENDSHIP ONLY. I refuse to read or write Mark/Roger romance—they’re FRIENDS, for JLar’s sake! Honestly. Anyways… Roger took a deep breath of the air around him, his eyes adjusting to the bright sun. Even the air smells different, he thought. And it was true—the tang of pollution, rain, and mold that he was so accustomed to was completely gone, save a little left on the collar of his jacket. Don’t think about that, he ordered himself, glaring at the ground. Passersby gave him a wide berth, and he preferred it—he could pretend he was truly isolated by something he had no control over, rather than of his own volition. Roger had rented a small loft—apartment, he reminded himself—in the center of town, amid all the strange hustle and bustle. The familiar sounds of honking, tires screeching, and sirens wailing were there, but they were sparse. The constant cacophony he knew from NYC was deafening compared to Santa Fe. In fact, everything in Santa Fe seemed like a pale copy of New York. But Roger pushed that from his mind as he swung his duffel onto the small bed. His hand froze on the zipper—unpacking would make it official. He would truly be a resident of Santa Fe when his clothes were unpacked and shoved into drawers, which would eventually fall into disuse… Roger tore his hand away from the bag, habitually grabbing up his jacket and sliding the worn leather on over his shoulders. In one pocket was a few crumpled tissues: in the other was five hundred dollars, which he would use to buy himself a cheap guitar and amp to start earning some money. As he walked through town, he kept imagining he saw a shock of blonde hair and wire-rimmed glasses over ice-blue eyes, but it turned out to be some unfamiliar camera-less nerd. Or he would turn a corner and see the flash of shiny brown hair and the playful twinkle of bright brown eyes, but it would be a random stranger. Roger was almost certain he was going crazy. Eventually he found a small shop, and asked the man inside if it was possible to buy a guitar and amp for five hundred dollars. He could, and he left broke but with his small source of comfort—and hopefully money. Roger then went back to the apartment, avoiding looking at the duffel bag and realizing belatedly that he should have bargained for a guitar case. “Can’t help that now,” he muttered to himself, taking solace in the sound of his own voice. Swallowing, he once again reached for the zipper—and was stopped by the jingle of change in his pocket. ‘I’ll call,’ he’d promised. Could he call Mark? Would the filmmaker want to talk to him? Roger groaned out loud, gripping his short, bleached hair in his indecision. “Fine,” he muttered. “Fine.” Roger left the apartment again and walked across the street to the payphone. This was easier than unpacking—rather than further breaking his link with NYC, he was keeping it alive. It made it different.

He slid in a few coins, took the phone off its base, and dialed the number he knew so well—remembering to dial the area code as well. The phone rang five times, and when the answering machine came on, Roger struggled not to choke up. “SPEEEEEEAK,” the answering machine declared. He could pick out his own voice, tangled with Mark’s—a reminder of a past life, it seemed. “Um, hey, Mark…it’s me. Roger. Um…I promised I’d call, so-” There was a click, and for a moment Roger was scared he’d run out of time. But a familiar voice filled the line, and he sighed in relief. “Roger?” “Mark. Hi. Um…how-how are you?” Roger asked, his voice wavering more than he’d thought it would. Static rushed down the line—Mark had sighed. “I’m…alright.” Roger nodded, forgetting the other man couldn’t see him. “How’s everyone?” he asked—what he really meant was how’s Mimi. “The same, really. Benny’s keeping the heat on now.” “That’s…good.” “And, um…Collins is out spreading the word of his philosophy, you know— he’s not around much, but he seems to be making some money.” Roger knew Mark wasn’t telling him everything—he was purposefully avoiding talking about Mimi. Did he want to save his friend pain, or had something happened? Mark sighed again. “Maureen and Joanne are…well, off being Maureen and Joanne, as per usual.” “And Mimi?” Roger whispered, gripping the phone. “She’s…she checked into rehab a couple days ago,” was the reply, soft and hesitant. Yet Mark’s voice didn’t waver as Roger’s did. Roger nodded again. “Oh. That’s…that’s good. Um…where’d you guys get the money?” There was a long pause. “Benny paid,” Mark fessed up finally. Somehow, that seemed unimportant. “At least she’s getting help,” said Roger. Again, silence filled the line. “So how’s-how’s Santa Fe?” asked Mark. Roger swallowed. He’d almost forgotten that little bit of information. “It’s…it’s warm,” he said finally. Mark laughed halfheartedly. “Guess you don’t have to worry about the heat now—just the air conditioning.” “It’s too warm,” said Roger. “And…it’s different. The buildings are shorter.” “Look on the plus side—there’s not as much pollution, right?” Roger laughed in the same way Mark had. “Guess so.” Unspoken words hung in the air—but it doesn’t have you. Feeling tired of silence, Roger continued, “I bought a guitar.” “Um…good. You gonna bother all your neighbors with Musetta’s Waltz?” said Mark, trying to make light of the situation. “Probably,” the rocker agreed, smiling to himself. Mark chuckled to himself, a genuine laugh, and Roger’s slight smile turned into a grin. “Hey, Rog…how’d you call, anyway?” the filmmaker asked curiously. “Um…payphone?” Roger answered, raising an eyebrow. He let the eyebrow fall when he realized what a Mark-ish gesture that was. “Mmm.” On the other end, Mark sighed. “Well…I gotta go, alright, Rog?” Roger swallowed the growing lump in his throat. “Yeah…sure, ok.”

“Thanks for calling.” There was a smile in Mark’s voice. “Anytime,” Roger whispered. “So, um…bye.” Nearly turning blue with the effort of holding back tears, Roger said, “Bye.” He was sure he heard a choked sob before the line went dead. Roger stood there for a while, the phone hanging limply in one hand, his eyes focused on the unfamiliar horizon. “Hey, buddy—you done here?” asked an accented voice. The rocker turned to see a man there, giving him a cautious look. “Yeah— yeah, sure,” he said, shakily replacing the receiver on the hook and all but running away from the payphone and into his apartment. “I’ve just got to do it,” he whispered to himself, leaning against the closed door. Calling Mark hadn’t helped—it had hurt more, made it harder to pull away. But Roger knew he’d call again, no matter the pain it caused: Mark was his best friend, regardless of the fact that he was all the way across the country. Breathing deeply, Roger approached the duffel bag and slowly unzipped it. Jeans and t-shirts were haphazardly packed, getting more wrinkled by the second. Trying not to think about his task, Roger pulled out the first shirt and went over to the chest of drawers. As he folded it with trembling hands, he noticed something. The shirt was a button-down, an unusual shirt for Roger to own. As he studied it, he began to realize where he’d last seen that shirt. Images flooded his mind, crashing into him more forcefully than his first hit of heroin. A lopsided grin… Wire-framed glasses covering icy-blue-yet-warm eyes… A striped scarf… A camera, slung around a pale neck, hanging down over the plaid buttondown… Roger choked back a sob. This wasn’t his shirt…this was Mark’s. The yellowand-blue plaid button-down he’d worn to his first interview with Alexi Darling. Roger had teased him about failing to copy his own plaid pants, but the filmmaker had laughed it off, saying Roger was copying him and grinning that lopsided grin of his before heading out the door. Oh, Mark. God, Roger missed him so much. Unable to hold back the tears any longer, Roger clutched the shirt close, letting his tears fall onto the shabby fabric, staining it dark. He stumbled backwards, tripping over the edge of the bed and laying there, curling in on himself and sobbing into Mark’s shirt. The rocker lay there for a long time, and eventually his sobs receded into hiccups, and finally he fell silent, his face still buried in the shirt that smelled vaguely of his best friend. Roger peeled his face away from the wet shirt, sniffling a little, and sat up. His head spun and his vision blacked, but he blinked several times and was alright. Roger looked at the barely-unpacked duffel bag, and his face hardened. He slipped the shirt on over his t-shirt, despite its wetness, re-zipped the bag, grabbed his guitar, and practically dashed out the door. As he placed his hand on the doorknob, a melody made itself known in his head. It was incomplete—not in the way that the song was unfinished, but in the way that he only knew half the melody. Every so often there was a gap, where he lost the melody, only to regain it soon after. One question flitted through his head—where was the other part of the melody?

The answer came quickly: Mark. The filmmaker cannot see, he thought, pursing his lips and staring at his hand, which was gripping the doorknob. He’d just gotten here…could he really go back so soon? Would Mark take him back? Roger knew the answer—of course he would. And it was then that he knew what he had to do. Three hours later he’d sold his guitar and was on his way back to New York— where he belonged. -Mark was jolted out of his sleep by a soft knock on the door. He rubbed his eyes and stumbled to the door, yanking it open. A yawn forced him to shut his eyes, but when he opened them, he was suddenly wide awake. “Roger?” he whispered, staring at the man in the hall. Roger gave a sheepish smile. “Um…hi,” he said, reaching up and running a hand through his short hair. Mark surveyed his friend, wondering vaguely if he was in a dream. Roger was haggard—his face was scruffy and unshaven and he had dark circles under his eyes. He had a notebook shoved under one arm, a duffel bag over his shoulder, and… “Roger…are you wearing my shirt?” Mark asked, raising an eyebrow. The rocker nodded, his eyes shifting to the floor. “Yeah…I kinda accidentally took it with me…” He looked up into Mark’s eyes, his green ones sparkling with unshed tears. “I missed you,” he admitted quietly. That was when Mark grabbed his roommate into a hug, one hand on the back of the other man’s head. The duffel was dropped on the floor, forgotten—Roger buried his face against his best friend’s shoulder, clinging to Mark as if he’d never let go. Mark knew how hard was for the usually tough rocker to admit he’d missed him: he didn’t like admitting he was weak in any way. “So…am I still allowed to live here?” asked Roger, his voice muffled by Mark’s shoulder. Mark laughed, squeezing Roger once. “Of course,” he said gently. Roger sniffed, wiping at his eyes and slowly removing himself from Mark’s embrace. “Um…thanks,” he said, one side of his mouth up in a grin. “Sorry about the shirt…it’s a little dirty.” Mark took in the stained, wrinkled appearance of his shirt, and laughed outright. “Keep it,” he said. A laugh bubbled up from Roger’s chest, and he let himself grin completely as he picked up his duffel again. As he walked inside, Mark put an arm around his shoulder, smirking at him as they walked inside. “Santa Fe not worth it, huh?” Roger turned to look at him, his eyes sincere. “No. It wasn’t the same, you know? It was missing something.” Mark furrowed his brow, confused. “What do you mean?” he asked. “It doesn’t have my friends,” said Roger softly. After putting his duffel—well, throwing his duffel into his room, Roger dragged Mark up onto the roof. The filmmaker rubbed his arms and blew on his hands, struggling to keep warm. “Why are we up here?” he asked. Roger rested his palms against the edge of the roof, staring out over the polluted skyline. “It’s funny,” he said slowly, his breath making puffs of white in the air, “what you take for granted. Like the skyline. I mean…” He shook his head. “There’s nothing like this in Santa Fe. I mean, yeah, there’s scenery and stuff…” Mark rested a hand on the rocker’s shoulder, offering wordless comfort. There wasn’t much else he felt he could do.

The rocker flashed him a smile. “Marky…do me a favor…” “Yeah?” For once, Mark didn’t object to the nickname Marky. Roger swallowed, looking back out over the city. “Never move to Santa Fe, ok?” Mark slowly nodded. “I won’t,” he said. “Promise,” Roger ordered. The filmmaker made an invisible cross over his heart. “I promise. And you better promise not to ever try and move back.” The other man laughed, tugging Mark’s shirt closer around himself. “Promise.” They stood in companionable silence for a while, watching as the sun peeked over the horizon. “Mark…how cheesy would it be if I said something about you being my best friend right about now?” asked Roger thoughtfully. Mark laughed. “Pretty cheesy. But it’d be even cheesier if I said something about you being my best friend right after.” Roger grinned. “I’m glad we agree, then. Now let’s go inside—it’s freezing out here.” He headed quickly inside, but Mark hesitated, looking over the orangeglowing city. “But you are my best friend,” he said to the frigid air. He then slowly started back inside, back to the way things should be. Back home, with his best friend—his best friend who messed up sometimes, who made mistakes, but never could fail to bounce right back. “Hey, Marky—you coming?” Roger asked, sticking his head out the door. “There’s a bottle of Stoli with our names on it.” His green eyes sparkled with mischief. Mark grinned. Yeah, getting drunk in the early morning and sleeping until midafternoon sounded like the perfect thing to wash away the past few days.