|The One in Which They Sort of Go On a Date
Author: magalina PM
Part 3 in the Underlying series. Mark and Sandy do what the title says, basically. Slash.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Words: 4,699 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 51 - Published: 01-29-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2886633
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
So, this is pretty pointless and doesn't really move the plot (plot? what?) forward, but it was fun to write. The thing is, I have all these ideas with Mark and Sandy and I'm trying really hard not to let them turn into another long story.
Also, I'm slowly posting my stories on LJ. There'll be previews and stuff there eventually, so feel free to add me! If you want, of course (and let me know who you are on here!)
Okay, that done….this was edited by Insomiak! And I forgot to say before, this is based on Lerene's suggestion about a date to the movies!
Hope you enjoy~
The One in Which They Sort of Go On a Date
When Rogers first brought it up, Mark screamed. But only in his head, because he had gotten really good at acting like he didn't care about what he looked like to other people when maybe he still cared a little.
He had been dreading that moment ever since three weeks before, when Rogers, Dan and Jessica had a talk about the most popular places in town to go to during the weekends. Mark, sitting slumped back on the couch across from them, had been able to tell the whole thing had been planned beforehand. What he spent the entire hour wondering was if Rogers had been in on it, or if his enthusiasm was as real as it appeared.
He still wasn't sure, but he knew that Rogers – with or without Mark's siblings' help – had gotten it into his head that he wanted them to go see a movie together. He didn't say it outright at first, but threw little comments about random movie releases or the price of tickets, or really obvious stuff like that that made Mark have to bite down mocking comments.
He wasn't opposed to the idea in general. Although he wasn't into movies like Rogers or Dan were, he could go see one, sure. What he couldn't do, though, was go on a date.
That was another thing entirely, and yeah, maybe they could go and never say the D-word out loud but people would still know. No matter how much better he was at the not caring about what other people thought issue, he was still him and he would not be seen on a date with another guy for as long as he lived.
Or that's what he told himself at first.
As weeks passed and winter break approached, the idea started to horrify him less and less. Most people from school usually left, after all, to spend the holidays in places where the temperature was actually winter-like and not about the same as every other day of the year, only a bit more windy. So there wasn't that big of a chance they would run into someone they knew. And they didn't have to tell their families where they were going, they could just get in the car, be gone for a few hours and come back, no questions asked.
He still wasn't ready for it when Rogers said it.
"We should go out," Rogers proposed and Mark only staggered a little while getting up from his bedroom floor, where he had been tying his shoe.
"Oh?" He managed to choke out, only a bit shaky. On the inside, though, he was going something like oh God, oh no, oh fuck over and over again.
There was a pause after Mark's lame retort, in which Rogers stared at him from where he was sitting on the desk chair and Mark pretended he was looking for his other shoe (even though he knew he had kicked it under the bed earlier).
"Yeah," Rogers said slowly, his eyes narrowing. "It wouldn't be so bad."
"No, I know," Mark replied. "Um, where d'you wanna go?"
As if he didn't know.
Rogers smiled a little, like he knew Mark was playing dumb and found it funny instead of infuriating, like he would have not that long ago.
"What about a movie?"
Rogers rolled his eyes, again in good nature, and Mark found himself relaxing. He hadn't noticed the way his shoulders had tensed up. He had been expecting a fight, but apparently Rogers had been expecting Mark to be more of an ass about the whole thing and when Mark had failed to blow up in his face, Rogers had calmed down, too.
"I don't know," he shrugged and leaned back on the chair. "What kind do you like?"
Mark would have wanted to see something with lots of explosions and fights and not one single hint of a romantic plot in it, but he didn't say it out loud. Instead he dropped himself on his bed and reached down to grab his missing shoe.
"Why don't we go next week, after the break starts, and see what's on?" He offered, refusing to meet Rogers' eye. He busied himself tying his shoelaces and then looked up. Rogers was staring at him, smiling in a way that looked a little indulgent to Mark. It didn't bother him as much as it should.
"It's a," he said and Mark's insides jumped, "deal."
Then Mark threw a pillow at Rogers, only managing to knock over the lamp on his desk and his mother yelled at them to go downstairs immediately, probably thinking the noise meant they had been doing something else.
Mark ignored the way his face burned on his way to the kitchen, gaze fixed on Rogers' bright red ears peeking out of his hair in front of him.
Winter break was closer everyday, but Mark made a point not to think about it. Instead, he did another thing he hadn't done in a long time: worry about his exams.
Over the last few years, school hadn't been a big concern for him – not counting Rogers, who was something Mark had always kept tabs on. He did horrible in the classes that they shared, because he had always been too busy holding onto his desk to keep from leaping at the other guy and break his face. And the classes they didn't share, Mark always found he had trouble concentrating.
It was like, no matter the situation, Rogers had always been an underlying presence in his thoughts, making it difficult for Mark to focus entirely on anything else.
That feeling had started vanishing lately (or at least the violent side of it had) and Mark's grades were proof of it.
So that last week before break, he buried himself in schoolwork to keep himself from panicking and Dan became his only company, claiming that since Mark had the side of the room with the window in it, it was only fair that he let him study there, too.
Mark had one last paper to turn in on Friday, and Thursday night he was reading it over and over again, holding onto it like a lifeline, crumpling the sides under his fingers.
"You're gonna burn holes in it if you keep staring at it that way," Dan said from the desk and Mark's mind did not go to Rogers, and to how he had been sitting there when he had brought up the movie thing.
"Shut up," he replied and put the sheets of paper down on his lap – he would have to re-print it later.
"Are you nervous about it?" Dan asked, all fake innocence as he twirled around on the chair. Mark glared at him.
"Your paper." Dan's tone was mocking, and Mark thought his brother would have added a duh if he wouldn't have been so busy making himself dizzy.
He didn't bother answering, and Dan didn't bother asking again. Mark also didn't bother throwing him out, even though he was clearly not studying and sunlight had faded over an hour ago. At least Dan was a distraction.
"Sandy told me you're going to the theater next week," Dan said and Mark choked. He sat up, coughing and trying to talk at the same time. Dan stopped moving and stared at him, a smile beginning to pull one corner of his mouth up. If he started laughing, Mark wouldn't be responsible for his actions. "Was it a secret?"
Well, no, it wasn't a secret. But why the hell did Rogers have to go babble to Dan, of all people?
"Is it like…a date?"
Mark wanted to be dead. Right now.
"No," he managed to say. "It's not a damn date."
"Oh." Dan bit his lip. "Can I go then? 'Cause there's this movie I--"
"No, you can't go." It came out of Mark's mouth incredulous and exasperated and completely without his permission. He resisted the urge to clap a hand over his lips in horror, and instead looked down at the crumpled mess that was his homework, now scattered over his bed.
Dan was quiet a moment, but Mark didn't dare meet his eye. If he found the boy holding back laughter, he thought he would push him out the window. He scrambled for something to say, something that would make Dan drop it.
"We're going after the hospital." Mark dared a glance up, "I'm not gonna come all the way back here just to pick you up."
"Sandy said you didn't know when you were going," Dan argued, halfway to pouting.
"We're going after the hospital, next week."
For a second, it looked like Dan was going to keep insisting. Mark could imagine what he would say: I can go to the hospital with you or I can meet you there or The theater is closer to home. But he didn't say anything. He opened his mouth, closed it and grinned.
Then Mark watched him get up and walk back to his side of the room, a spring in his step. And just like that, Mark was left alone with his thoughts again. He sighed and grabbed his paper, settling down to read it a couple (or twenty) more times.
Nightmare Day turned out to be the following Tuesday. School was over and done with for a couple of weeks, but Rogers had agreed to continue to go to the hospital for another week. At first it had annoyed Mark, because he was the one driving Rogers, after all. It had, however, turned out to be the perfect excuse.
Since they were already out together, no one – except maybe Dan and Jessica, if Mark paid attention to their stupid little smirks, which he didn't – would suspect a thing.
Since Rogers had started volunteering, Mark had slowly mustered up the courage to go inside the building instead of waiting in the parking lot or drive around for an hour. There was a small café in the ground floor, in which Mark had claimed a table in the farthest corner. The thought of running into someone from Rogers' old physical therapy group made him edgy, so he always kept his back to the door and his head down.
One time, Steve had rolled in and found him. He had, among other things, called him whipped and Mark had barely nearly punched him. The rest of that week Mark had claimed he had to study, and Rogers had gone to the hospital alone.
Sometimes Mark thought it was sad just how much and how quickly things had changed between them. He didn't exactly miss the constant fights and anger and insults, but he sort of missed that he didn't use to…miss Rogers. It was a bit pathetic that Mark had only lasted three days without driving him around. And it wasn't even Rogers who caved in first, like Mark had been expecting.
"I'll see you after," Rogers said as they parted ways at the hospital's entrance, pulling Mark out of his thoughts. He patted Mark's shoulder and turned towards the elevators.
A month ago, Mark would have freaked the hell out from only that, but now he sort of itched for more. He still felt the receptionist eyes on him like little needle pricks on the back of his head, but he was able to shrug it off easily. Or at least without lashing out at Rogers.
Lately, Rogers tended to stand too close to Mark, or absently grab his arm while he talked and Mark couldn't say anything about it. Well, he could, but he knew from experience that it wouldn't be a good idea. And Besides, Mark did it too. More often than not, he would catch himself leaning against the other guy, or staring too closely or feeling the urgent need to run his hands through Rogers' hair. He would stop his hand halfway, appalled at what had happened to him in such short time.
These weren't even conscious impulses: they were unpredictable, dangerous ones.
And since he had started making an effort (a bigger effort, since he had already been trying), Mark could tell some people at school had even started to catch on. A day didn't pass when he wouldn't find someone staring in wonder or confusion or amusement. Mark thought that he didn't see anyone giving him the wrong kind of look because he could pretty much bring whoever he wanted down, and they freaking knew it.
So far, no one had been an asshole about it, but nothing was confirmed yet. Mark gave the entire student body until he or Rogers slipped up. If there were any remarks after that, punches would have to start flying. He would not take any kind of shit from anyone.
Mark waited in the café. Now out of school work to busy himself with, he spent most of the hour trying to settle his stomach. His first concern was this new, impossible lack of control over his body. Being unable to keep his hands to himself would not work in public. And Rogers' complete indifference over his own inability to do the same would make everything worse, he knew it.
He could sometimes admit that he was tired of worrying over this, but someone had to, and Rogers didn't seem to care enough.
Mark was busy picturing possible scenarios of PDA gone wrong when he felt a cool hand on the back of his neck. Rogers curled his fingers around it and squeezed slightly, forcing Mark to look up at him.
"You're not freaking out, are you?" He asked quietly. Mark looked at him and wanted to move away from his touch and lean in and call the whole thing off and to go to the fucking movies with Rogers.
It was a complicated feeling.
He shook his head.
"No," Mark replied. "Why, are you?"
Rogers half-smiled, not moving his hand away. "A little," he admitted.
Mark opened his mouth to ask if he wanted to go back home instead, leave the movie for another day. But he didn't want to. He wanted to go, he realized, and see a crappy movie in the crappy theater uptown sitting next to Rogers in the dark.
Well, just when he thought he couldn't be more pathetic.
"Suck it up," he said and got up. Rogers' hand stayed where it was for a second longer before falling off, and Mark absolutely refused to miss the weight of it.
"Asshole," Rogers said good-naturedly and led the way outside.
They were both happy to pretend it had been a spur of the moment thing, Mark in gym shorts and Rogers in the same jeans and sweatshirt he had been wearing for two days. The two of them were careful not to think too much about what they were doing and take it like something so normal and not at all out of the ordinary that they didn't even bother to dress up for it.
The truth was that Mark hadn't been to a movie theater with Rogers since they were kids and their parents planned all sorts of outings for the two families to do together – from eating in crowded fast food restaurants, all eight of them crammed in tables for no more than six people, to going on long and horrible road trips that usually ended with everyone angry at everyone.
So, it had been years since Mark and Rogers had stepped foot in a theater together. In fact, the last time they had sat on either end of the row of seats, both sulking because Jessica had picked the movie and it was something girly Mark had been embarrassed to be seen walking out of it afterwards. And besides, he had been sure Rogers had been throwing popcorn at him the entire time (it had turned out to be Dan, in the end) and he had picked a fight as soon as they were outside.
He was pretty sure that episode was the reason why their parents had decided to stop it with their useless campaign to make everyone get along.
Not even after this thing had started with Rogers had Mark ever thought he would be going into the city with the intention of seeing a movie with him.
And yet, here he was. In line to buy tickets to a movie he had never heard of before. All he knew about it was that the poster showed a truck, a fiery explosion and a guy holding a gun to his chest. Rogers said he had heard it was so bad, it wouldn't last until next week in theaters. Even the poster looked cheap. It was perfect.
They stood shoulder to shoulder, but they didn't exchange a word. Mark felt exposed, towering over most of the people around him, and he felt that talking would bring more attention to him. He didn't know why Rogers hadn't attempted conversation, unless he had been telling the truth earlier and he really was freaking out.
But having Rogers nervous was not improving Mark's own nerves, which was making the wait awkward. He searched for something to say, anything to start Rogers' rambling.
"Dan wanted to come," he said, but for some reason couldn't control the volume of his voice, and it was too low for Rogers to hear.
"What?" He asked, looking up at Mark, frowning slightly. They were standing too close again, Mark noticed.
He cleared his throat, looking quickly away.
"Dan," he repeated. "He wanted to come."
"You told him."
Rogers' frown deepened, "I didn't tell him to come."
"No," Mark muttered. "That we were going."
Rogers sighed, brushed his hair off his face, suddenly exasperated.
"You didn't say it was a secret."
Well, it figured Mark's attempt to talk would turn into a fight. It was just typical, Mark should stop being surprised about it every damn time.
"It wasn't," he said, hoping it would bring the subject to an end. Then added, "I was just saying," because he had come to understand that explaining himself, as much as it annoyed him, actually did sort of fixed things most of the time.
"Oh." Rogers' tone was definitely less defensive, and Mark smiled in spite of himself, before forcing his face to stay put. "Sorry, yeah, I told him."
They stepped forward as the line advanced, their sides still pressed together.
"I forget that he's…" Rogers trailed off and Mark looked down; he had succeeded in making Rogers talk. "That he isn't as nice with you as he is with me." Rogers shrugged.
"You forget?" Mark asked, incredulous, and Rogers smirked up at him.
"Yeah," he said. "You know, I think it's contagious."
"Your asshole…ery. He's catching it."
Rogers laughed and Mark bumped their shoulders, hard.
"So fucking funny," he muttered and they were suddenly at the front of the line.
And then, before he realized what he was doing, Mark was paying for both tickets himself. He could feel Rogers looking at him – he could actually feel everybody looking at him, even though he knew no one was paying attention to him. He caught Rogers slipping his wallet back in his pocket and felt his face burn.
"You're buying the snacks," he mumbled as they climbed up the stairs to the second floor, and ignored Rogers' answering smile.
They were sitting in front of the blank screen fifteen minutes later, side to side. Rogers had a bucket of popcorn on his lap. Mark was holding onto his cup of coke (that Rogers had paid for) for dear life. His fingers were going numb with the cold, and the popcorn smelled amazing, but he couldn't bring himself to move. He wanted to put the cup in the holster, and he wanted to start eating and fuck, he wanted to put his arm around Rogers' shoulders, why?
It had been his first instinct after finding their spots, just reach out and put his arm over the back of Rogers' seat. Mark was pretty sure something similar had happened to Rogers, too. Because as soon they had settled down, things had turned awkward again.
The room was slowly filling up with people their age, all loud and over-excited, and here Mark was, in the middle of it, sitting next to another guy. Another guy who he wanted to touch so badly was afraid he would pull a muscle holding back.
So far, Mark hadn't seen anyone from school. They were sitting in the last row, in a corner, and no one had spotted them yet. Mark didn't think he would relax until the lights were out.
"Can I have a sip?" Rogers asked, way too close to Mark's ear, and Mark nearly spilled coke all over himself. He handed the cup to Rogers wordlessly, and in turn, Rogers offered the bucket to him. But their eyes refused to meet.
Mark was aware it was ridiculous to be this nervous, but he couldn't help himself.
Then finally, finally, the lights started to dim. Mark settled more comfortably against the back of his seat, slumping down until the head of the man in front of him reached the edge of the screen.
He felt Rogers move next to him, and glanced over to see him putting the bucket on the floor, between them. The cup was on the other side of him, sweating onto the arm of the seat.
As soon as the lights were completely out, Rogers had a hand on Mark's knee. By the time the previews had ended and the movie with the truck and the explosions and the man with the gun had started, Rogers' other hand was turning Mark's face his way, and Rogers' mouth was over his.
Mark wasn't even surprised at how unsurprised he was. He had known it would happen, especially since Rogers had picked a shitty movie he had no intention of actually watching.
They kissed with a familiarity that calmed Mark' broken nerves completely, and that filled his chest with a warm heaviness he had become used to in the last couple of months. Rogers' felt right in Mark's hands, even in the alien setting. The kids' hollers and laughter faded gradually, until all Mark could hear was Rogers' soft sounds and the drag of his fingers in Rogers' hair.
They didn't kiss for the whole movie, though. They stopped and they looked at the screen and Mark picked up some popcorn while Rogers' arm snuck around him.
Then they started again.
Mark didn't allow himself to get hard. Every time felt himself coming close, he leaned back and took a breath. They were surrounded by people, there was someone sitting right next to him, he wasn't going to let things climb up to the point of no return.
But he wasn't able to convince himself to stop kissing Rogers every time his arm tightened a little around him. Not even if he knew the person next to him and the ones in front of them probably heard what they were doing.
So they kissed, and Rogers laughed against Mark's lips at what they were doing, and then kissed him again.
When the movie ended and lights came back on, Mark had yet to see a truck in the screen, though he had vaguely heard some explosions at some point.
They busied themselves picking imaginary popcorn out of their clothes to avoid the looks of the people closer to them, who were now checking to see who they were.
When Mark dared to look up at Rogers, he was already staring at him and grinning like an idiot.
"Shut up," Mark said around a smile of his own and Rogers shrugged and attempted to flatten his hair.
All would have been good, no, better than good – everything would have been fucking great if the first thing they had seen as they stepped outside hadn't been John.
John standing between Dana and Emily, the three of them staring back at them.
Mark stopped dead in his tracks, and Rogers bumped into him and crushed the bucket of popcorn (still mostly full) between them. He didn't shout out in protest, so Mark guessed he had already seen why Mark had stopped.
"Hey," Rogers said after a moment and walked to the little group. Mark followed, at a loss of what else to do, his legs feeling like they didn't belong to him.
"Hey," Dana said with a small, bewildered smile. They all exchanged mumbled greetings, Emily (and Mark) downright bitter. The only one that seemed to take it all in stride was John.
But of course John would, he wasn't the one coming out of a movie with Rogers, both looking like the last thing they had been doing for the last two hours was stuff themselves with popcorn and nothing else. He was the one surrounded by girls wearing those shorts he liked so much.
"What movie did you guys watch?" John asked, making his way to the snack bar. He made conversation with Rogers while Mark hung back, embarrassed and a little pissed.
"How was the movie?" Dana asked, suddenly next to him, and for a moment Mark didn't know what to answer.
"Really bad," he said. "It won't last more than a week."
"That's what Sandy said," Emily muttered from his other side.
Even though everyone else got along just fine, him and Emily never said two words to each other without barking them. John had told Mark that Emily was jealous because of Rogers, but apart from that, they just didn't get along. Rogers said they were too much alike or something, but Mark liked to believe he wasn't as bitchy, thank you.
"What movie are you watching?" He snapped.
Emily pointed at a poster showing some girls and a bridge and flowers on the title and had to laugh, because John would probably suffer through that one.
"Hey, wanna see this one too?" Rogers called from ahead of them and Mark's laughter died. "John's got free tickets."
Emily smirked at him, daring him to say no and fuck everything up. Overall, it had been a good…whatever. Even if it could have gone a little smoother, it hadn't been as bad as he had expected. He could even see himself doing it again sometime. In the far future. But that was not going to happen if it didn't end well. And like hell Mark was going to be the one to ruin it.
"Okay," he said and this time the girls were laughing at him.
Rogers smiled over at him.
Mark would kill John later.