Title: Sell Out
Author: Zoe-chan ([livejournal.com profile] zoe_chan)
Rating: PG
Pairing(s): None, really. Implied Mark/Maureen, Roger/April
Challenge: Love (friendship)
Notes: Conversation between Mark and Collins, preRent, before Collins leaves for MIT.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. I intend no copyright infringement. This is a work of love, resulting in no profit to myself, except for feedback. I am a feedback whore. Feedback me.


Sell Out


“Hey, man. You got a minute?”

Mark glanced up at Collins from his seat on the couch. He’d been crouched over his camera, fine-tuning it in hopes of going out later to film… something. He welcomed the break. “Sure.” He leaned back into the cushions to gaze more comfortably up at his friend. “What’s up?”

Collins frowned and started to pace for a moment before changing his mind, throwing himself down the sofa next to Mark instead. He took a deep breath, glancing sidelong at the filmmaker then exhaled in a loud burst of air. “I applied for a job at MIT a couple of months ago.”

“You did? I don’t remember you saying anything about that.”

Collins shrugged. “I didn’t. I knew I wouldn’t get it, so I didn’t want to tell you. It would just be a let-down for you all, you know?”

“I know.” Mark patted Collins awkwardly on the knee. “I’m sorry, man.”

Collins leaned forward on the sofa, reaching into the back pocket of his pants to fish out a folded envelope. He handed it to Mark.

“What’s this?”

Collins just nodded to the envelope, indicating that Mark should open it. He shrugged, lifting the already torn flap of the envelope and removing several pieces of paper. He unfolded them, eyes beginning to scan the cover letter even before his fingers had completed the work of straightening it.

He glanced up at Collins sharply. “This is a letter of hire.” Collins nodded. “They hired you.” Collins nodded again. Mark’s face broke into a grin and he punched Collins’ arm in poorly restrained delight. “Ha! This is great! You got the job!”

Collins nodded once more, finally allowing a grin to show through his calm. “Yeah. I got the job.”

Mark stood abruptly. “This calls for celebration.” He strode to the kitchen area. “I know we have beer, and I think the Kisses Maureen and I stashed in the cupboard the other day are still there.”

Collins laughed, rising from the couch to help Mark assemble the celebratory snack. While Mark dug into a rarely used cupboard in search of the chocolates, Collins reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a pair of beers. Calling upon a talent that had made an excellent party trick in college, he used the corner of the counter as a bottle-opener, knocking the top off each bottle in turn. He handed one to Mark, who’d finally emerged from the cupboard with the promised candy, then took a deep draught of his own, savoring the taste. It was one of the few things he insisted upon, and one of the few luxuries they indulged in; there would be no cheap beer in this loft. They had good beer, or they did without.

Mark placed the bag of chocolate on the counter, and the two men leaned against it on either side of the bag. “So, tell me about this job. It’s a visiting professorship?”

Collins nodded. “Yeah. It’s a year-long appointment. They want me to start at the end of May so I’ll be ready for their summer term, and I’ll stay all the way through next May’s finals.”

“And you’ll be teaching…?”

“You have to ask?” Mark chuckled softly as Collins continued. “Remember that paper I did way back on the influence of quantum theory on postmodern thought?” Mark nodded. “I’ll be teaching a class that takes that theory and uses it as a way to start discussing modern and postmodern philosophies. I guess the big-wigs at MIT decided they need to get a rounded education for their little scientists and mathematicians.”

Mark laughed, raising his bottle in a toast. “To Tom Collins! The first of us to get a real job!”

Collins tapped his bottle against Mark’s and took another drink. “So, you think this is a good idea?” he asked, a little uncertainly.

Mark glanced back at him incredulously. “Good? I think it’s fantastic! Come on, Collins, you’ve wanted to get back into the classroom ever since NYU’s cutbacks took you out of it. Are you telling me you don’t think this is one of the best opportunities you’ve ever had? You don’t even have to quit NYU if you’re just a visiting professor!”

Collins shrugged. “I know, I know. You don’t think…” He rolled his eyes slightly in exasperation with himself, flushing slightly. “I don’t know. I’m not selling out?”

His question was greeted with a dropped jaw and a mute stare. “Are you kidding me?” Collins shrugged again, refusing to meet Mark’s eyes, and took another drink of beer. “Collins… No. It’s living your dream. How could that ever be considered selling out?”

“Are you telling me Roger won’t say I am?”

Mark laughed. “Roger… He will, but that’s just who he is. You know that. Plus – he’s just going to be jealous that you’ll be making money at your dream, while he goes broke living his.”

“So… You think I should take it?”

“Yes. Although…” He glanced slyly at Collins. “Roger will make fun of you. So will April. And Maureen. And I probably will too.” He shrugged, spreading the arm and hand not holding the beer out in a helpless gesture. “Peer pressure, you know. You sell out.”

Collins laughed, feigning a punch at Mark’s side before draining his beer and setting the empty bottle on the counter. “All right, all right. I’m convinced. I’ll take the job.”

Mark nodded firmly, and tossed back the rest of his own beer. “Good. Only… I want to be there when you tell Roger and Maureen. I have to film their reactions.”

“Fair enough. You two going to be around tonight, then?”

Mark shook his head. “No. Maureen and I are going to the movies – that little Indie theater. Can you hold off the announcement until tomorrow night?”

Collins nodded. “Sure, man. I’ll probably go out tonight to celebrate, anyway.”

“Want to come to the movies?”

“Nah. I’m sure I can find some way to occupy myself that doesn’t involve busting up your date with Maureen.”

Mark held up his hands in protest, laughing. “Just offering the company…”

“I know. Thanks.” He glanced toward the window. It was staring to get dark. “I’m going to get going, though. Start my wild, celebratory, drunken orgy.”

Mark laughed again. “Have fun.”

Collins’ eyes gleamed. “Never fear, my friend.”

Mark smiled, watching Collins grab his coat and head towards the door. “Congratulations, man. See you tonight.”

Collins tossed a wave over his shoulder as the door began to slide shut behind him. “See you tonight.”
.

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