30 December 2010 @ 08:15 pm
hohoho fest gift | for [info]giorgiakerr  
Title: Five Times Marc Hagendorf Called Roman Wild
Author: [info]lilithilien
Recipient: [info]giorgiakerr
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Marc, Roman, Jenny, René, mention of some Turkish kid
Summary: Five moments when Something Could Have Happened and Everything Would Have Changed.
Rating: Gen
Warning(s): Present tense AUs, angst dripping with sap, non-flattering depictions of France, and crack-tragic character death.
Word Count: 8000 words
Author's Notes: Thank you to the wonderful Hofest mods who are making my winter so much brighter by masterminding this fest. Thanks to the always incredible A for everything, but especially for making my writing better (and for saying that she wanted Deniz out of the way – her highest compliment). Thanks to AWZ and the ultimate reminder that timing is a bitch, and particularly to Timo Hübsch, who’s left a big Marc-sized hole on Show. Most of all, thanks to my recipient, one of the awesomest people in this fandom. She DESERVES to have Marc come back, in these and many other incarnations, and to have the very sparkliest of holidays!





ONE

Launching a new show is always magic. He doesn’t know how else to describe it, when those ideas that have lived insubstantial for so long in the ether are suddenly born, concrete and tangible, first on paper and then on the ice. It’s a process that never ceases to amaze him, no matter how many times he’s experienced it. Oh, there’s the cold reality of it as well, of course; all the numbers and logistics and the million and one details that must be juggled or it will all come tumbling down. Marc has learned never to trust wholly in the magic; he knows it won’t take you all the way. But he also knows that without it, you don’t have a show. At least not one that anybody wants to see.

He’s still riding the wave of excitement from the first full rehearsal when his secretary hands him a note. “Your phone was off. He asked you to call back as soon as possible.”

The number is unfamiliar, but the name’s definitely not. It’s one he hasn’t seen for a long time, years even, although he thinks of it more often than he probably should. But he certainly didn’t expect to see it today.

He thinks back to the last time he saw Roman Wild. It was a few months after their break-up – the last one, when he had finally admitted to himself that it was over. That this person he wanted to spend his life with, who he wanted to tell the world that he loved, was never going to feel the same way about him.

No, he has to remind himself even now, that’s not fair. Back then, he never had any doubt that Roman loved him just as much; if nothing else, seeing how wrecked he was after their break-up left no question about that. That’s what was so bloody hard about the whole thing. It wasn’t love that Roman lacked, but courage – very different things, and Marc had worked hard to keep them separate. “If you loved me, you’d do this” had dropped out of their conversations early on. What remained was a minefield of carnage, scars, and unexploded bombs left from a childhood of abuse and scorn; in the end it proved too powerful for either of them.

Time dulls pain, though, and years make it a simple thing to sacrifice his hard-won self-protection for curiosity and dial the number.

“Roman Wild,” says the voice from long ago.

“Roman? It’s Marc – you called?”

“Yeah, just a second...” There’s a quick shuffling sound on the other end of the line as Roman breaks away from whatever he’s doing, and then his voice comes through clear. “Marc, hello. Um, how have you been?”

“I’m good, good. Busy, you know, with a new show and all...”

Marc answers the question as best he can, but it seems terribly mundane as he tells it, this list of his life, and it’s not what they should be talking about anyway. Roman shows interest and asks the right questions, but Marc feels him waiting for the moment to speak. It’s something that not many people ever understood about Roman, that despite his rapid-fire tongue – or perhaps because of it – the important things, the things that needed to be said, were always carefully thought out and guarded until the time was right.

At last their conversation lags. Marc lets a comfortable silence settle between them, waiting while Roman takes a breath. “I’m seeing someone,” he finally says.

Marc responds with a deep breath of his own. It isn’t that he has not expected this; surely Roman has not been a monk for all these in-between years, and neither has he, even if he hasn’t found anyone yet who’s been able to get under his skin like his ex once did. He wants Roman to be happy, of course he does. But Marc has always thought he’d be reading the Ruhr Report one day and see Roman with some obliging young thing on his arm, maybe someone hiding a secret of her own. To have him convey this news personally gives it a weight that feels oddly uncomfortable.

“Is she a skater?”

He is a choreographer.”

And that’s definitely not what Marc wants to hear, although he didn’t realise it until now. It’s an unexpectedly annoying feeling. He collects himself and manages to say, “Well, that’s good then,” his voice only slightly gruff. “I hope you’re happy with him.” But this, he realises, is ridiculous. He wants Roman to be happy, full stop.

“I am, it’s only...”

Marc can’t help it; his eyebrow bolts upward at the whisper of doubt. “Only what?”

Roman tells him about Andrew, this man who came into his life as a colleague and quickly became something more. Marc braces himself as Roman details how they work together, how they connect. And he listens closely for telltale signs of discontent, which come soon enough when Roman says, “He wants me to move to London.”

In the long pause that follows it strikes Marc, clear as the chime of a crystal bell, that this is the reason for Roman’s call.

“I don’t know, maybe I should go. It could be nice. He says he has an apartment already picked out for me there.” Marc raises an eyebrow at that; perhaps he is looking too hard for signs that things are not perfect with Andrew, but this strikes him as odd. The man he remembers would be hard pressed to let someone else select his curtains, much less choose an entire apartment. It’s a minor thing, perhaps, but it makes Marc uneasy. “And his friends are all eager to meet me,” Roman continues. “I’d pretty much have a built in social set, I guess. And Andrew could set me up with one of the best skating centres – says it would be great for my career.”

It sounds all too convenient, Marc thinks, and it minimises that independent streak that he had always admired in Roman – the one that inspired a 17-year-old boy to break free of his dysfunctional family and take the first steps towards creating a life of his own in a new city. But rather than voice his thoughts, he waits, leaving Roman to work through his thoughts, and sure enough, he continues after a second’s pause. “But I’d be starting over completely, and frankly, I’m too old for that. My career’s here – Mike’s an asshole, but you know he’s one of the best trainers out there. And my friends are all here, and my mother, although I hardly see her anymore.” Roman’s words speed up as the frustration seeps out. It’s plain to see that he has no one that he can talk to about these things, if he’s confessing it all to someone that he hasn’t seen in years, and Marc wonders what these friends of Roman’s think of Andrew. He himself is resisting what is probably an unfair judgement against this person who drinks peppermint tea and speaks terribly accented German.

“And he says,” Roman continues, “that I have to come out if I’m going to live there with him. I told him that I want to win the championships, and that I can't afford any damage to my reputation right now." It’s not that different from what Marc once heard, and for a brief second he thinks he might sympathise with this other man. It lasts only until Roman continues, with a self-deprecating laugh, “He’s probably right, it’s not like I’ll be winning any championships anyway.”

Marc is taken aback. “Wait. He said that to you? That you wouldn’t win the championships?”

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that,” explains Roman quickly. “I know, it makes it sound worse than it was, when I say it like that, but—”

“Sorry,” interrupts Marc, unwilling to let Roman excuse this statement that cannot be excused. “Is there any way that doesn’t sound bad? This is your choreographer.” This is your lover, he wants to add, but he can’t without bitterness.

There’s no objection, but Marc knows it's not because his outrage is shared. It’s then that he remembers something he has almost forgotten about Roman: that for all his ambition and all his talent, Roman still believes that he deserves the worst. “I don’t know, Roman,” he says, his voice turning gentle, “but it sounds like he’s treating you like a little boy, a silly little boy.”

“But I know you used to wonder that, too. And maybe I am acting like one...”

Marc shakes his head firmly, then feels ridiculous when he realises that Roman can’t see him. “No. I knew why you were afraid, and I never thought it was silly. You had some very good reasons to worry. I don’t think I ever minimised that.”

“No, you didn’t,” agrees Roman. “Things were... different then.”

The first awkward silence descends on their conversation, heavy as frozen berries on a vine. Marc’s resentment at being compared to this other man grows, dragging along a mirroring fear that this might be how Roman saw it. It’s not a comfortable thought and part of him feels like he should apologise, say that if he did do that, then Roman didn’t deserve it.

“You don’t think I should go?” asks Roman, before Marc can get those words out.

You’d be his pet,, Marc almost protests, but he doesn’t because he knows that’s his bitterness talking. “I can’t tell you what you should do,” he answers instead, “but I think it depends on whether you’re going because you want to, or because he’s pressuring you.” Into all kinds of things, he silently adds.

“I don’t know. I want to win. That’s all I’m sure of.”

Marc can’t help but smile. From one moment to the next, Roman has regained his sure confidence. It’s just like it always was when he stepped into the rink, leaving behind his natural clumsiness and transforming into something so full of grace that it could take your breath away. It’s all about the ice, just like it always has been. The knowledge that nothing has really changed assures Marc that he can advise Roman, despite not having talked to the man for more than five years.

“Good. That’s something you know for sure, aside from any fears of coming out – you could do that here as well as in London, and be surrounded by your friends besides. But I think it’s more important to think about what’s there for you, personally and for your career...” As he goes through different aspects of training, of lifestyles, of just the pure appeal of starting something new, Marc can feel Roman listening, adding up the pros and cons in his head. It clears his own thoughts as well: that this is someone he has missed having in his life, and that this is something he might like to change.

There’s nothing settled when they finally say goodbye, just an assurance that Roman will think about these things and that they will keep in touch. Idle words, Marc starts to think, as the days pass and there’s no word. Before long, he begins to imagine Roman in London, cramming onto the tube with punks and professionals, wiling his time away on the banks of the Thames, performing his dazzling routines for polite English applause. He sometimes thumbs through the foreign papers, wondering when he’ll catch sight of Roman’s name in the sports pages, and how much it will hurt. Every so often, he looks at that number stored in his phone and thinks he should ring it, but doesn’t; he’s not ready to have Roman’s move confirmed by a robotic disconnection message.

And he goes back to his normal life. The ice show runs through the autumn while Marc does double-duty launching the Christmas extravaganza. His office becomes a War Room where crises are averted and schedules executed, skaters are coddled and managers threatened, and every single day brings the kinds of decisions that could bring the whole thing crashing down. It’s the kind of pressure that Marc loves. All the same, he’s not sad when his part is done, when the first show has ended and the second is rolling along without him. He can take a breather now, regroup, and get ready for the new year.

Mönckebergstrasse is not really the place for a breather, though. Marc’s put buying his Christmas presents off too late again this year, as usual, but as he moves elbow-to-elbow through the crowd, the shopping street quickly becomes a real-life advertisement for online shopping. A coffee shop beckons to him as he passes, promising a cappuccino and temporary respite from the madness. It’s quite blissful, this quiet corner he’s found, out of the stinging Hamburg winds, away from the gruffly determined crush of consumers, and at last Marc feels himself relax. He wants to ignore his telephone when it rings, and he almost does, but at the last minute peeks at the caller ID. And instantly answers.

“Roman?”

“Hi. I’m not disturbing you, am I?”

“No, no, not at all! Are you back in Germany for the holidays?”

“Back?” Roman sounds confused for just a second before catching on. “Ah, no. I’m still in Germany – I didn’t go with Andrew. I thought about what you said – it wasn’t the right thing for me.”

Marc smiles, unexpectedly pleased by the news. “And you’re still in Essen?”

“I am, yes. But I’m coming to Hamburg this weekend, and... well, I thought I might like to see your show. And you, if you’re available...”

There are few things that Marc loves more than new starts, when that flurry of intangible ideas clouding his imagination manifests itself, solid and concrete. But what’s even better, and so much more rare, is getting a new start at a second chance.

TWO

It’s a good day for German skating. Marc would have felt a swell of pride at the results in any case; seeing his former skating team from Essen doing so well makes it even better. Seeing his former lover place third... well, that dredges up a complex mix of emotions, but after he considers them all, the one that wins out is a genuine happiness that Roman’s made it so far.

They both shared that dream once, to dominate the men’s skating world. The World Championships, the Olympics, they would claim them all. In a fit of juvenile optimism they even designated a wall in their flat to hold all their trophies and medals. Marc often imagined it full, gold and silver from floor to ceiling, each glittering treasure marking another accomplishment. That dream disintegrated, of course, and not only because of the cutting irony of living in hiding with the most courageous man he’d ever seen on the ice. Giving up his own skating career was a difficult but necessary choice, once he realised that discipline and passion could only take him so far. But Roman had the talent he needed to go further, always had. Marc wonders if Roman has such a wall now, perhaps more bronze than gold, but still a worthwhile monument to his life.

He hasn’t talked to Roman for more years than he likes to recall, and he isn’t sure what it is that makes him think about ringing him now. It might be the convenience of visiting his sister in Bochum, just a short drive from where Roman lives, although he’s visited many times before without any thought of contacting his ex. It might be the sight of the skaters in Zürich, Diana and Roman and all the rest, the look of people that belong on the rink, that makes him remember the cool feel of frost in his face. It might just be seeing Roman in one of the most brilliant performances of his life, skating with that sublime combination of skill and passion that signals him as one of the finest athletes in his field. Then again, it might just be an unexpected alignment of the stars and planets that makes calling Roman Wild seem not just natural but necessary. He still has the telephone number stored in his phone, after all, and he is not even surprised when it turns out to be the same one he had all those years ago.

“I saw your routine,” he says, by way of greeting.

There’s only the briefest of pauses before Roman replies, “Yeah? And what did you think?”

“Not bad,” Marc answers, feeling an unexpected compulsion to slide into the banter they’d once enjoyed, even while holding himself back from words like “extraordinary,” “phenomenal,” “sublime.” “Shame that you rushed the twizzles. You’re lucky the judges were asleep.”

“You would notice that. You always did have trouble with those,” chuckles Roman.

His voice is warm in his teasing, maybe a little deeper than Marc remembers, but still terribly familiar. It’s like going back in time, to those days when these calls were common – to those days when he knew every one of Roman’s moves intimately, and vice versa; when Roman could predict every wobble in Marc’s toe loops, and Marc could anticipate a perfect Lutz just from the way that Roman stepped on the ice.

Not that he’d ever have let Roman know that. “You never did, though. Must be getting fat these days.” There’s a choked cough over the phone and Marc gets a vivid image of the indignation on Roman’s face. He interrupts the tirade before it begins by adding, “But it was good. Really good.”

“The judges thought so, at least. Anyway, a medal is a medal.”

There’s something in that phrase, in the way it rolls off Roman’s tongue, that catches Marc’s attention. It feels like there’s a hidden joke there that he doesn’t get. But the Roman Wild he once knew would not have been satisfied with third place. Too often, they pitied those aging skaters, the eternal third place ones, so desperate for a win. That isn’t where he imagined Roman. “You’ll get the gold next time,” he says, never doubting that it will someday be true.

Roman pauses while the seriousness of Marc’s words sinks in, and when he says, “You really think so,” there’s no question in it.

“I do.” There’s a pause, but not an awkward one, and Marc pictures Roman’s answering smile. It’s a different one than he remembers, the one he saw in Zürich, as flowers pelted the ice and Roman basked in the applause. It’s less naive, more cautious, and strangely, more satisfied. It’s as if Roman’s approaching some kind of peace with himself – a comfort in his own skin that he never had in the old days. It makes Marc want to see more of it, in person, not on a television screen. “I’m at my sister’s this weekend,” he says cautiously, “in Bochum...”

“Martha? How’s she doing?” Roman always got on well with Marc’s sister; one of the few people, in fact, that Marc has ever seen him be himself with.

“She’s well. She’s remarried now, they’ve got two kids. One’s my goddaughter.” But as lovely as Nathalie might be, she’s not what Marc wants to talk about. “Since I’m practically in Essen, I thought I might see what you were doing tonight.”

“Tonight?” There’s a too-long pause before Roman says, “I’m supposed to be at a party, there’s a guy here – just a kid, really, his dad runs the bar in town, and he’s throwing kind of a party for me – well, for the skating team, but Diana’s not back and Jenny hasn’t shown her face, so it’s just me, I guess. But he says that a medal is a medal, and that people will come, and I know it sounds kind of ridiculous when I say it like that, but I told him I’d go, and it’s important to him, I think it’s important to him, and...”

For all the years that have passed, what’s not changed is the speed of Roman’s words. They still pour out as fast as ever, like a cola briskly shaken and bubbling over the rim. And Marc can still read them as well as he ever could. This time he recognises that tone, that interest. He wonders about this kid, the one who’s throwing a party for Roman, this guy whose words Roman has parroted twice. Suddenly it feels like he’s walked into something a lot bigger than he’s been banking on. “It’s okay, maybe I shouldn’t have called...”

“No,” Roman interjects. “No, that’s not what I’m saying. I thought maybe you could come with me – we won’t have to stay long, just make an appearance, have a few drinks. And then afterwards we can talk…”

Marc smiles. It’s a chance to check out the competition, maybe see if he needs to bow out gracefully to this kid who’s satisfied with mediocrity, or if it’s the time for him to make a stand. Most of all, it’s a chance to see Roman, and to see what’s changed... and what hasn’t.

“I’d love to.”

It’s not a certainty, but then nothing with Roman ever was. It’s enough.

THREE

Word travels fast on the skating circuit – unless you’re in Paris. It’s something that he’s never really gotten used to, the way that France is a world unto itself, its small group of skaters content to move in their small circle like swirled brandy in a snifter, beautiful but contained. Marc found it claustrophobic at first; he longed for the easy exchange of the international skaters, the Russians flirting with the Canadians, the Germans playing the straight man to confound the Americans, the misunderstandings and the gossip and the secret affairs that were never really secret, and always the undercurrent of competition that pulled all these people together.

But he came to Paris for René, and over the years he’s discovered that he can almost live with the trade off. Together they weave fantastical tales of such elegance that he sometimes forgets they’re not true – productions that could only come to life because of René, with his keen eye for business and, most importantly, his unflagging trust in Marc. Because it’s not just the ice shows that they create, René reminds him; it’s their life. It’s a life that might feel small sometimes, but within its boundaries is everything Marc needs.

Most of the time.

So he’s surprised when René opens the door of their Marais flat before his key is out of the lock. His partner looks a bit grim and wears too much aftershave – sure signs that he’s distracted by some unwelcome news.

“Hello, chéri,” Marc says, offering him a kiss on the cheek. René leans into it briefly, but without any real interest. In a learned defensive reaction, Marc mentally scans his to-do list. There’s nothing he can think of left undone, nothing with repercussions that would cause René to worry like this. Nothing he can recall, anyway. “Is something wrong?”

René seems to study him, and Marc has the feeling that he is supposed to react somehow, but to what he doesn’t have a clue. It doesn’t become any clearer when René’s expression slips from vague apprehension to open pity.

“You didn’t hear?” he finally says, watching as Marc pours himself a glass of mineral water. René sits at the breakfast bar across from him, twisting his cufflink nervously – another dangerous affectation, and Marc can’t help the bristling impatience that accompanies his curiosity. His partner does enjoy his dramatic moments.

“Hear what?”

There’s a pause before René answers, “About Roman Wild?”

The name surprises him. He heard it not long ago, of course, several weeks after the World Championships in Zürich. He learned the news of Roman’s victory only after it crossed the ocean and returned in Figure Skating Monthly, part of an inset on the new skating hubs in Europe; the centre in Essen was hailed as one the Americans should keep an eye on.

But another skating victory would not bring this concern to René’s face. “What happened to Roman?”

René grimaces. “He was mugged. He’s in the hospital in Essen.”

It’s the last thing that Marc expects to hear, and at first he has the strange almost-compulsion to say “You’re kidding.” But he stops himself, because that’s not something René would joke about. Roman Wild is not even a subject that René likes to talk about; like an unexamined sore spot in their relationship, Marc’s thought at times, but now he can’t be worried about such sensitivity.

“Is he all right?”

René holds his hands up in a universal gesture of “No idea.”

Marc sits down heavily on the stool, his mind struggling to process the information. “Why would anybody mug Roman?” Skating success brought security, not wealth. He hasn’t seen Roman in years, granted, but he can't picture him flaunting an ostentatious lifestyle. The man never had more than 50 euros in his wallet at the best of times. “That makes no sense. Not that mugging has to make sense, I mean. There are all kinds of situa-“

“It might be gay bashing,” René blurts out.

“What?” And no, that’s the last thing that Marc expects to hear, an out-of-the-blue explanation that makes absolutely no sense. “No, that’s impossible,” he dismisses the notion. “Roman’s not out.”

“He is.” The words settle in their kitchen, as René shifts uncomfortably. “He came out after the World Championships.”

Waves of questions flood Marc’s thoughts, indiscernible and unformed, and the heavy silence that crushes down on the room doesn’t slow them a bit. “How do you know?” Marc finally asks, his words scratching his dry throat.

René clears his throat too, his eyes downcast and guilt making creases around the corners of his lips. “There was a photo of him in the local paper,” he explains quietly, quickly adding with emphasis, “He was kissing his boyfriend. It got picked up in the gay press pretty quickly. It was an accident, apparently,” René’s voice took on an accusative tint, “but he decided not to deny it.”

Marc stares at the water glass in his hand, suddenly unsure how it got there. An accidental outing, then, exactly what had always terrified Roman when they’d been together. Marc had imagined more than once what would have happened if they’d been caught. His imaginings had rarely ended with Roman’s cool acceptance.

And they never ended with René looking simultaneously culpable and defensive about the news, his usual self-control vanished. “I know I should’ve told you. I was going to, but I thought...”

“What did you think?” interrupts Marc, more harshly than he knows he should.

“That if Roman was out, that you would... that you might...” René frowns, obviously dismayed by his crumbling composure. Marc doesn’t care; he wants it to crumble, wants to break it right down to its foundations so he can dig through the rubble and see if there’s something there that makes sense, something that he can’t see right now. But René is fighting hard to hold on. “I thought you would have heard anyway.”

“Where would I have heard?” Marc asks angrily. “Where did you hear?”

René looks down, quiet, and Marc suddenly resents France; resents its secret ways that he doesn’t know and the gossip that apparently does exist, just very far out of his reach. It’s a sharp sting, the knowledge that he’s still an outsider in this place he’s tried to make his home; and what stings most is that René, the man who’s always been his door to this life, might possibly be his jailer.

He is still smarting from this realisation, not really able to move on from it, which is why he doesn’t notice that René has moved across the room and is mumbling something into the telephone. The words start to register when he hears René’s clumsy German asking for the number of the hospital in Essen. He repeats each number slowly but precisely, scribbling them down on a notepad although they’ve already been implanted in Marc’s head.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” René says, handing the phone to him like a peace offering. “And I know we need to talk. But right now, you should see if Roman is okay.”

Marc studies René’s face, the comfortable familiarity of it now drawn with worry, the sharp jut of his chin the only remaining sign of the resolute man he knows. Finally he nods, mutely, and René dials the number.

“Elisabeth Hospital, how can I direct your call?”

René watches him from the doorway, purposefully intrusive, as he asks for Roman’s room, and Marc wonders what he is trying to see. He hopes that René will share whatever he learns. At the moment, it all feels too fast, too uncertain, for Marc to even gather his thoughts. To even know what to say when the phone’s picked up and he hears, “Roman Wild.”

“Roman, it’s Marc. Are you okay?”

René backs out of the door as Roman repeats Marc’s name; even over the telephone line, it’s obviously that he’s smiling.

“Yeah,” he replies, smiling back.

“I’ve been better, to be honest.” Roman laughs, but it turns into a hacking cough. When it subsides, he says, “I’m surprised you heard.”

“I am, too.” René’s guilty confession rises uncomfortably. Is this what he was so worried about, this long-distance connection that hasn’t existed for years? The thought confuses Marc and he wishes he could dismiss it; he wishes he could keep these things separate, René on one side and Roman on the other. But that’s too simple, he knows; the two are connected, at least in René’s mind. And that feeling of insecurity, the sense that your lover is not entirely there for you – that’s something Marc understands, something he wants to make sure René doesn’t feel. “My partner, René… he told me about it.” Marc chuckles. “Apparently he follows your career even more closely than I do.”

“That’s a typical Hagendorf compliment if ever I’ve heard one.”

“I’m sure you’ve got enough fans fawning over you these days.”

Roman snorts. “Yeah, and some enemies too, apparently.”

“I heard...” Marc pauses, questioning whether to broach the subject that once dismantled them. But they’re already dismantled. “I heard that it might be gay bashing.”

“Yeah, I’m certain of it. I’m pretty sure I know who did it.” Roman’s voice is grim, not with indignation that he might be mistakenly identified as gay; more with the hard acceptance that Marc has heard from others who’ve been attacked; a resentful acknowledgement that this is part of their life, however much they may hate it.

“You’re reporting them to the police?”

“Of course. I’m already out, I might as well be loud now.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” And Marc means that in more ways than one.

“Are you?”

It’s an innocent enough question, but it smoothes the rough edges of Roman’s voice and Marc hears a soft flirtation tiptoe into the conversation, as if unsure of its welcome. He knows if he welcomed it in, it could root around in his memories and bring his wants and regrets to life; it could unearth all those fears that he didn’t even know René had. Marc feels himself standing at a crossroads, one where a careless answer could determine his future. On the one hand, the thought of resuming his place in Roman’s life is appealing, as second chances always are. On the other hand... well, on the other hand there’s René and his life here. It’s not perfect, and its imperfections have just been shown in sharp relief. But god knows, he’s never been one to walk away until he’s exhausted every effort. He did that with Roman once. His life with René deserves just as much.

And if he’s going to make this work, René needs to see that Marc’s past is not a threat to their present.

“I think we might come to see you. I’ve been wanting to show René more of Germany.”

“That’d be nice,” replies Roman, and it sounds sincere when he adds, “I’d like to meet him.”

“Can you have visitors? Do we need to call first?”

“No, you can drop by anytime…”

Roman’s voice drops off suddenly, replaced by a loud clattering in the background. It could be anything, from doctors bringing in overpriced machines to elephants stampeding through the hospital halls. “Is something wrong?”

There’s a quick laugh through the phone. “No, everything’s fine, Annette’s just dragging in half a supermarket.”

Marc doesn’t know who Annette is; probably one of the fawning fans. “Okay, well, we’ll try to make it over tomorrow.”

“Yes, see you later. Ciao!”

“Ciao!”

Marc sets the phone carefully in its cradle, then goes in search of René. He finds him in his study, going over the budget for their latest show. Pages spill out across the table, each covered in numbers that will make or break their production. Marc wishes there were numbers like that for his relationship; that he could tally up columns that would show him what he should do, that would confirm he is making the right computation. Accounting doesn't deceive, and numbers don't keep secrets.

He stands in the doorway and waits until René looks up, his face determinedly blank. “I’d like to visit Roman in the hospital.”

“Okay.”

His expression doesn’t change; Marc wonders why he never realised what a good actor his partner was before this day.

“I’d like you to come with me.”

René freezes, and for the first time, there is a flicker of uncertainty. “You want me there? Really?”

“I do.” Marc crosses the room, each step he takes feeling like he’s searching for more solid ground. “I don’t want you to hide things from me. And I don’t want you to distrust me. But yes, I want you there.”

The sound of René’s exhalation tells Marc just how much he’s been holding inside. His mask drops too, and René’s normally controlled expression gives way to guilt and gladness, regret and relief, a confused collage of emotions. The mystery of it makes Marc want to unravel it all.

France might not be his home, still. But René is. This is a trade off he can make.

FOUR

The invitation to judge the Newcomers’ Cup in Essen comes as a surprise – a welcome one, a sign that he’s reached a level of respectability among his peers. “Some level of respectability,” he corrects himself, because it’s no use pretending it’s his skating skill being honoured here. Hagendorf Productions, on the other hand, is riding the crest of several successful ice shows. And even the BDE knows that skaters need a future after their competition days are over.

Essen, he thinks with a twisted smile. It’s been years since he set foot in that city – it’s one of those unspoken barriers that lies between him and his ex. Like their CDs and videotapes, they’ve divvied up the country along with the spoils of their relationship, the Rhine and the Elbe; an extreme measure to keep the peace, perhaps, but a necessary one at the time.

At the time. It’s been nearly a decade – long enough for those boundaries to dissolve, and for him to return to Essen without fear. He’s hardly been pining for Roman Wild, after all. When he thinks of his first love, it’s swaddled in bittersweet nostalgia, packed away in cotton wool so its sharp edges no longer cut. It’s natural, an indulgence for his past earnest, this certainty that he wouldn’t repeat those mistakes.

But that resolve falters when he arrives at Steinkamp Sports and Wellness and sees the list of competitors. It’s a jarring feeling. It’s one thing to see Roman’s name in the papers, when he can applaud or commiserate from a distance. It’s quite another to see that familiar name on the roster of skaters, pair skating with Jennifer Steinkamp.

Who’s there in front of him now at the reception desk, her cheeks as rosy from her workout as the pink track suit she wears. “Well, if it’s not Marc Hagendorf,” she chimes in a too-playful voice, rising on the toes of her running shoes to kiss his cheek and sizing him up like competition on her way down. “You’ve sure changed.”

“You haven’t,” he answers, though it’s only half true. Her body is more a woman’s than a child’s now, her face so much thinner. But even if there are lines around her lips, she wears the same smile he remembers, the one that flickered from mischief to malice and back again in the blink of an eye.

“I didn’t expect to see you on the judges’ stand,” she notes, and maybe Marc is too wary of Jennifer Steinkamp, maybe he’s too defensive of his newly acquired status in this world he so wants to be a part of, but the remark feels anything but innocent.

“I didn’t expect you to be pair skating,” he parries. “And in a Newcomers’ Cup at that.”

Her smile freezes for an instant, the only sign that his attack found purchase. “We’re new to pair skating,” she counters. “Who knows what will happen?”

“Indeed.” Marc smirks. “Did you think about what would happen if you didn’t win?”

With a defiant lift of her chin that could be construed as flirty, if this wasn’t Jennifer Steinkamp and he wasn’t Marc Hagendorf, she said, “We’ll just have to convince the judges, then.”

“I’ll excuse myself, you know that.”

“Why?” Jenny looks genuinely confused. “Just because you and Roman were...?” She makes a wavy hand motion to somehow indicate their togetherness. Marc tries to control his surprise, but his mouth that refuses to close betrays him. Jenny says, “Oh really, did either of you think I didn’t know all about that?”

“Did Roman...”

“Of course not,” she sniffs huffily. “He never said anything to me. But god knows he’s never been exactly discreet.”

But they were discreet. The jumps he did on the ice back then were nothing compared to the hoops he jumped through to hide any sign of their relationship. He went to such pains to keep their secret under wraps, pains that turned increasingly painful as the months passed. And now to find out that Jennifer Steinkamp knew all along – it’s a sobering thought, and one he’s not sure he wants to think about right now. In fact, right now he wants nothing more than to leave the Centre and drive back to Hamburg, damage to his reputation be damned. “I’m still backing out.”

“Come on now,” Jenny tsks, “do you really think Herr Ackermann hasn’t shagged half the skaters on the circuit? Although, since these are newcomers, he’s probably scouting for new blood.”

She sounds too thoughtful about this, as if she’s honestly contemplating it, and figuring out how to turn it for her own purposes. It sounds like she’s just discovered a new doll, and Marc has to check himself from the image of her pulling off its limbs in a fit of pique. He wonders if that’s how the men she’s dated usually feel; he’s glad he will never find out. He himself has never been one to shy away from the unseemly, but he really doesn’t want to think of Herr Ackermann, that cadaver-like man, with anybody, ever, so he changes the subject. “Exactly, it’s newcomers. Why, Jennifer? Surely you’re better than that?”

“Everybody has to start somewhere,” she says boldly, but then drops her voice so the passing swimmers won’t hear. “And don’t think for a minute I don’t know how this looks. But when someone you love asks you to put on your public face and do what they ask, you do it. Surely you of all people can understand that.”

And he can. Oh, but he can.

“Speaking of,” Jenny asks, sliding back into her normal demeanour, “have you seen Roman?”

Marc shakes his head. Not for almost ten years, he nearly says, but he won’t give Jennifer Steinkamp any information. But of course it’s not as if she needs to hear it; her discerning eyes are enough.

“Are you kidding?” She stares at him for a long second, then laughs. “I never would have figured you for a scaredy cat.” Before he can object, she reaches across the counter for a pencil and is scribbling on a scrap of paper. “This is Roman’s number,” she says. “If you’re going to back out of the judging, you should at least let him know why.”

She’s right, Marc knows, and he assures her he will as he pockets the number. He pulls it back out much later, after he’s left the Centre, after he’s called the BDE to explain why he can’t judge the competition. They’re inconvenienced, but not unreasonably so, and they assure him that they will invite him to judge in the future. He’s not sure whether to believe them or not, but at the moment, he refuses to let himself think of it.

The lights are fading as he leaves his hotel and starts for the train station, but the numbers on the paper are still clear. It’d be no trouble, really, just a quick call to say hello, to wish Roman good luck... it’d be such an easy thing to do. Punching in the numbers, he steps into the street, making his way to the taxi stand across the street. He smiles to himself as the call connects and the voice on the other end of the line says, “Roman Wild.” Too late, he hears the screech of brakes from the bus that can’t stop.

FIVE

Marc can nurse a latte for hours. He savours each patient sip, in no hurry to tip up the bottom of his glass, in no rush to leave his relaxed perch on a high stool in a café or a comfortably worn sofa in a corner bistro. He’s at the train station in Hamburg now, tucked into a corner table at Caffé Ritazza – not the most relaxing place he’s ever lingered over a drink, but a welcome respite from the wind that whips through the open corridors. The cold feels more brutal with each passing winter, the chill rolling in off the sea picking up speed along the river, smashing into the city as if the skyscrapers were bowling pins and it’s going for a strike. As October slips into November, Marc’s not sorry that his job is taking him on the road again. He loves travelling, always has, from the moment he books his tickets to the first step he takes in a new city; loves the way train stations smell, that not entirely clean scent that mixes with the perfumes and hot lunches of his fellow passengers. He even loves the purring sound the zipper makes as he closes his suitcase.

But living in transit hasn’t exactly been conducive to relationships, as he’s reminded when his mobile chimes. A text from Julian: Away all week? Will pick up rest of things. Absently Marc thumbs Back Friday, can we talk then? and waits. Takes a small sip of his latte. Drags his eye from the travellers rushing across the platform to the young women working behind the counter. Waits. But his phone remains stubbornly silent. It’s right, of course, there is little left to say. They’ve been through all the stages of breaking up; the discussions, the fights, the silences. It’s a choreography that Marc knows by heart, and he knows there’s no use prolonging it. No more encores; he has to let the curtains fall. But in this moment he feels himself in that in-between state again, when he’s tied to the past and the future hasn’t taken hold yet. A change of locale, an escape from the wintry winds, will be the push he needs.

He spins his half-empty cup on its cardboard rim, watching absently as it makes lopsided circles on the formica tabletop. The café is getting more crowded now; he senses it as a heightened buzz around him, a growing energy, before he even looks up. A small clutch of women are at the counter, pressing their fingers against the glass protecting the desserts. Marc grins as they sneak chocolate croissants and raspberry tarts, pretending that calories don’t count on holidays.

Just beside the women he sees him, a man whose dirty blond hair is tousled as if he just got out of bed. There’s nowhere to sit so he’s standing up, clutching his paper cup as if it’s a lifeline. When he takes a long gulp, his eyes close in bliss, long lashes falling on his cheeks. It’s that image that strikes Marc with hurricane force, as if he’s only seen it yesterday instead of a decade ago. Roman Wild, the first of his many exes; he was never able to nurse a drink either. Whether a latte or the finest Bourdeaux, Roman raced through them as if he was late to training. It was a bone of contention when they were together, just another contradiction in their temperaments that always sought balance but failed as often as not, but now it elicits a smile that Marc hadn’t thought he had in him.

Distracted by these thoughts, Marc forgets that his eyes are still fixed on the coffee-guzzling man – who’s not guzzling coffee now, but instead is meeting his gaze with a knowing smile. And if Marc was in his normal state, not in this in-between place of autumn and summer, past and present, taken and oh so available, he would have smiled back. Instead he feels caught out, and recovers by diving into his phone. Scrolling through the numbers, he finds the entry for Roman Wild – not to call him, but just to see the solidity of his pixellated name. It’s there, he knew it would be, but it’s ancient; he’d punched it into his phone when Roman had insisted they could still be friends, when Marc knew that a friendship was unthinkable. But is it still, he wonders? Surely they could get over the acrimony of their past; surely, Marc thinks, Roman would find something to say that, if not comforting, is at least frank and honest about the mess Marc’s gotten himself into.

Almost without his conscious effort, Marc’s thumb slides to the call button, presses down. It’s only when the ringing begins that Marc thinks of what he might say, but the only thing that comes to mind is “another one’s gone and I’m not even that sorry and I don’t miss you, not really, but there’s a guy here drinking coffee like you do,” and that doesn’t sound quite right. Cringing at his recklessness, Marc reaches for the button to cancel the call, but then hears the electronic voice of grace announcing that “the number you’ve dialled is out of service, please check the number and dial again.”

With a wry smile, Marc slips the phone back into his pocket. The stranger’s gone now, swept away in the fast-running currents of the station. It’s time for Marc to drift towards his train as well, so he takes one final sip of cool milky coffee and makes his way out. The train bound for Frankfurt is on time, and the first class compartment is nearly empty; good omens for the trip ahead. He settles into a window seat, reaches for his iPod, and sets his laptop case beside, hoping it will ward off any intrusive would-be companions.

But it doesn’t work, because not two minutes later, a voice breaks through the peaceful Puccini in his earbuds: “Is this seat free?” Above him, the blond man is smiling cheekily down, not even waiting for an answer but already draping his jacket over the back of the empty seat. And Marc feels the seasons shift as the train pulls out of the station.

* * * The End * * *
 
 
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amyriadfthings[info]amyriadfthings on December 31st, 2010 05:38 am (UTC)
This is so good, I'm not even through, I've only just started reading, but had to comment early,because I'm pretty sure I'll pass out soon enough. This fic gives me something to chew on, and I always love that in a story. I'm just avidly reading & taking it all in right now. Quite a few single sentences I adore so far. More later.
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amyriadfthings[info]amyriadfthings on December 31st, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)
okay, and now it kind of left me speechless.
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geekchick1013: AWZ HoFest[info]geekchick1013 on December 31st, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)
Stunned me right out of capslock, you did.

What a gorgeous way to end HoFest. Thanks, mods, for saving this for last. <3333333333333333333333333333333333333333

Mystery Author, this is simply brilliant. There's so much brilliance I can barely pick one thing to focus on, but I think what I love the most is how each ending actually takes us further and further away from the possibility of a reunion. Which is exactly as it should be, as the time since they've been together grows larger.

And of course, all the little things you thread into the stories, from details about the ice show to René's facial expressions to the cadaverousness of Herr Ackermann to the way Roman drinks coffee... it makes the story so much richer and more wonderful.

That's all the coherency I can manage for now. Will probably be back later with more. SO MUCH LOVE, MYSTERY AUTHOR.

OH LOOK, I FOUND CAPSLOCK AGAIN. IN THAT CASE, SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE OMGGGGGGGGGG GAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH <333333333333333333333
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amyriadfthings[info]amyriadfthings on December 31st, 2010 06:16 am (UTC)
i really like that observation you made here, about how M.A. leaves us after every ending at a point that's further away from a possible reunion. it's this growing apart in stages that is fascinating, but it's really only one of many things i love about this fic(s). so good. have to come back to think/comment more.
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amo_amas_amat: TigerRo[info]amo_amas_amat on December 31st, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
Oh god, I'm stunned as well. It's a beautiful piece of writing. It glows with nostalgia and regret and chances that come and go.

It gives us so much colour to roman and marc's relationship that was conveyed within the acting but never given much detail in the writing. In fact, it's something Show could never have done - it couldn't have the room or scope for something so delicate. This fic demonstrates exactly what writing can give you that film can't and even though they're both great and have their place, I'm so glad we didn't miss out on this.

There is so much detail and nuance and consciousness to be relished but I don't feel ready for that because really this is the most long winded way of saying I LOVE IT as a beautiful whole and I can't bring myself to comment on the individual things I love because I'm too in love with the whole thing (and if I comment on eveything here that means hofest is over and that's so sad!)

Thank you Mystery Author for making such a beautiful dance for roman and marc. (Interpretive. Painful. Dance.) Loved IT!
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[info]praderwilli on December 31st, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
What is this about wanting Deniz "out of the way"? Lol, that is just wrong. Hahaha, DeRo 4Ever!! (Sorry couldn't resist- I'm a jerk basically.)

Seriously though, as others have already mentioned, I'm quite stunned by this fic. And I'm kind of speechless, too. I love these glimpses into Marc and Roman's relationship. I would have loved seeing some of this background and this relationship explored on Show, but it was not meant to be and then this lovely fic would not have been possible. Therefore I think everything happened perfectly and as it was supposed to.

Mystery author, I'm not sure how you captured Marc's character so perfectly but I am mightily impressed and I love this wonderful fic. I'm so glad you participated and contributed this beautiful piece.
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Aldi: AWZ: Nina OMG[info]aldiara on January 1st, 2011 02:37 am (UTC)
BEWARE, COMMENT MONSTERS AHEAD!
CURSE MY WORK TO THE DEPTHS OF THE SHARK-INFESTED OCEAN FOR ONLY LETTING ME GET TO THIS NOW. I WILL MAKE UP FOR IT BY SPAZZING AT LENGTH.


Oh god, Mystery Author. I love this fic to bits and pieces. From that first "O" in "One" to the last tiny *, there's nothing about it I don't adore. Each of these pieces alone would be brilliant – the fact that there are FIVE OF THEM, five completely equally compelling facets of different realities, five tantalising glimpses into what could have been, each fleshed out enough to make you see the whole shape of that potential future yet compact enough to make you crave more, to actually see each future play out… that's what makes it a fucking masterpiece.

I'm totally blown away by how completely each of these pieces draws you in. I felt torn to leave each one, almost reluctant to dive into a new possibility because I loved the current one so damn much – and then you went and made the next one just as awesome in its own right, sweeping me up all anew. I love the rhythm of it all, the caleidoscopic quality of these flashes, shifting and beckoning with alternate possibilities. Each of these futures… so there, so utterly possible, drawing a whole different life for these characters in its wake. I'm babbling but I don't fucking care. I'm in love with this premise, and with your execution.

And your characterisation, OMG! I love you so much for giving Marc this space, for fleshing out these tidbits of a life that Show only gave us hints and nuggets of; but most importantly I'm in awe of your characterisation of him. You've captured him so achingly well in all of these scenarios – all the vulnerabilities and the scars, his sense of humour and his keen awareness of people and the scars they're trying to hide. So private and guarded and careful and yet at the same time so bewilderingly open, so ready to open his heart again to someone who's never really left it. You fucking rock at being Marc Hagendorf!

Argh, this general blathering isn't working. I need to go into detail ;)
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Aldi: AWZ: RoMarc artsy lighting win[info]aldiara on January 1st, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
Re: BEWARE, COMMENT MONSTERS AHEAD!
ONE:

Dude, what a start! ANDREW. FUCKING ANDREW. *starts to seethe* I love that you've begun it here, in this intensely exposed period of Roman's life, where he really fucking desperately could have used someone to really talk to about these choices. I hate Andrew. I MAY HAVE MENTIONED THIS HERE OR THERE. OCCASIONALLY. I DON'T KNOW. I hate his sneering, superior, lecherous air, his whole "come be my boytoy" spiel; most of all I hate how he never really bothered to try and understand Roman, how he dismissed him as flighty, and worst of all, how he put him down about his skating. And I'm in awe at how canon this is, all those little alarm bells that definitely would have gone off in anyone's head when he heard about just how this guy was treating Roman. Except of course NOBODY ASKED OR LISTENED and I love you so much for bringing Marc in here.

The progression of that conversation! <3333333333333 The way they both cautiously feel their way towards each other, Roman seeking Marc's advice, Marc going through the conflicting emotions of being put in that position… god, when he thought it was a woman, my heart cracked for him, and then it cracked even harder when Roman said it was a guy!

I love the way you've sketched the confusing and obviously still-relevant pattern of Marc's feelings for Roman here, despite the gap of five years… the respectful (yes, yes), affectionate way he thinks about him leaving his family, making his own way, his admiration of Roman on the ice and the flash of fierce pride in Roman's determination to win. There's so much love obviously still there, and it shows so clearly what Show hardly ever tapped into: the fact that these two people never really stopped loving each other, that their break-up had nothing to do with lack of feeling. And the gradual emergence of how the timing might be better now, despite the presence of FUCKING ANDREW, is just beautiful – god, I was gnawing on my fingers when time passed and Marc became convinced Roman had moved to London after all!

AND THEN HE CALLS! *bounce bounce bounce* And it's beautiful and hopeful and perfect, and oh, that last paragraph:

There are few things that Marc loves more than new starts, when that flurry of intangible ideas clouding his imagination manifests itself, solid and concrete. But what’s even better, and so much more rare, is getting a new start at a second chance.

Just…. *FLAILS* So perfect! The reconnection with the beginning, with kind of thinking of life itself as a big show, chaotic and unreliable and not able to survive on magic alone, but needing the magic to keep it going – I teared up, Mystery Author, and I didn't want to leave this future. I want to see them meet up again. I want to see where it goes. I am seriously in a puddle of goo over this sparkly new chance.

Oh oh oh, and before I forget:

The man he remembers would be hard pressed to let someone else select his curtains, much less choose an entire apartment.

OMG, SNAP. What a gorgeous bit of foreshadowing for the whole 30th birthday/flat present debacle!! And it's one of those magical things that instantly falls into place… until I read this fic, I hadn't even remembered that Roman had fucking PRECEDENT of someone having picked a flat for him without involving him in the decision! It adds such a lovely bit of extra sense and motivation to the ep920 era. LOVE!
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Aldi: AWZ: Marc we heart you[info]aldiara on January 1st, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
Re: BEWARE, COMMENT MONSTERS AHEAD!
TWO:

Oh, TWO! I'd say Two is my favourite of these, except for the part where One was my favourite while I read it, and then Three was my favourite while I read THAT, and… you get the drift.

But this is brilliant. What a fantastic moment to choose for another potential reconnection – the timing is so deliciously precarious here, such a true pivotal moment where IF Marc HAD shown up that night, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING COULD HAVE CHANGED, or ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING COULD STILL HAVE GONE THE EXACT SAME WAY IT DID – it's the perfect equilibrium of the possibilities here that leaves me breathless.

And I'm so torn about it, OMG. SO SO TORN. I want Marc to go so badly. I want to see what happens. I want Marc and Roman to reconnect that evening, to follow out another chance… and I also want them not to, because this is the night that kicks off everything and I want Deniz to still turn Roman's world upside down anyway. God, it's awesome.

Again, I love the clear admiration Marc still has for Roman's skating here, and the fact that that's something he and Deniz have always shared, are in fact sharing here, even as Marc wonders about the potential competition, and frowns at the concept of Deniz's supposed "satisfaction with mediocrity" – it's something neither of them has ever wavered in, that absolute belief in Roman's extraordinary skills on the ice, and that connection here touches me so deeply. And Roman babbling incessantly, bubbling over with that phrase that he's going to repeat for the next three YEARS, and Marc recognising how it's already hooked itself into Roman, how it may already be too late to step in… aaaah, it's amazing!

Also, how much do I love you for giving Marc more of a background? A sister! (I want to know more about her!) and a goddaughter! Wheeeeee.

Damn, I wish this had happened. I want to see how it plays out. And I don't, because I love what DID play out so much. Aaaaaaaaargh, I totally need reality to split here and follow both paths, like in Sliding Doors. (ONE ROMAN WILL CUT HIS HAIR AND BECOME STRONG AND EMPOWERED AND DESTINY WILL RUN ITS COURSE. LOL.)
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Aldi: AWZ: Marc is distressed bw[info]aldiara on January 1st, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Re: BEWARE, COMMENT MONSTERS AHEAD!
THREE

…omg, Three. Okay, I changed my mind. Three is my favourite, totally.

The setting. I should say, the settings for all of these are great and really… flavourful is the best word that comes to mind, just enough of a hint of character about all of the places they're set in without the location becoming too overpowering. Subtle and just right. But this one stands out – I love the outside perspective of someone living in a foreign country, that subtle sense of not-quite-belonging, the inability to entirely penetrate the foreign culture despite the best of intentions. I think that applies to a lot of places in general, but I really like how you've drawn that image of not-quite-belonging with France here. National stereotypes and quirky disclaimer aside, I think it applies to France perhaps more than other countries, and you've done such a great job bringing that out in Marc's character, including the frustrations with the secrecy, the privacy of culture.

René!!!!!!! OMG, René!! First of all, how much do I love you for picking him up?? (How much do I love OUR FANDOM for integrating this guy into canon, lol!) And more to the point, how much do I love you for fleshing him out and giving us this intriguing glimpse at one of Marc's non-Roman relationships! I adore the brittle quality of this love, the careful balancing of doubt and commitment, honesty and fear. It makes me ache for them so much, makes me root for Marc/René harder than RoMarc, even. I love how René reflects the same kind of… "privacy" is the only word I can think of, so… the same kind of privacy as his country, that subtle holding back, not giving too much of his misgivings away, and yet, at the same time he's trying so hard to be open, to show Marc how impossible it is not to be worried/jealous/vulnerable about an ex who still so clearly means something to your partner. (It also kills me how parallel/reverse this situation is with Deniz's position during DeRo 3.0).

René looks down, quiet, and Marc suddenly resents France; resents its secret ways that he doesn’t know and the gossip that apparently does exist, just very far out of his reach. It’s a sharp sting, the knowledge that he’s still an outsider in this place he’s tried to make his home; and what stings most is that René, the man who’s always been his door to this life, might possibly be his jailer.

This. This is what I'm trying to express my appreciation for, both in terms of your portrayal of France and of René. Because I sympathise so much with Marc here but I also can't help totally aching for René, because it IS so hard to be open about such things, and you can sense just how terrified he is that Marc might just up and leave at this news that Roman's in trouble.

And the news of the phone call! *wibbles* Marc's astonishment at hearing that the attack was gay-bashing-related, and oh, his gorgeous bitterness at the accidental outing and Roman's cool acceptance of it!

And then René's the one who makes Marc call Roman, to make sure he's okay! Dude, I love this guy. I love him even more for the fact that we can't entirely tell just how self-motivated he is when he urges Marc to make this call – just how much of it is a test, or whether he does it because he knows, however subconsciously, that it'll actually score him points with Marc. Nghhh, the emotions are so intricate and layered and subtle, it makes me shiver with awesome!

The phone call! Roman's grim acknowledgement of what happened! Marc's conflicting loyalties, the recognition of the damn spark that's still there with Roman (oh, that hint of flirtation!) and his concern not to make René feel set aside… god, it's gutting and lovely and so intense even while being so,… civilised and subtle on the surface. How do you do that?? How are there so many layers to this scene? It's completely achey and delicious!


(cont'd, omfg, apparently even my comment on ONE of these is too long for fucking IJ :p)

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Aldi: AWZ: Roman has thorns[info]aldiara on January 1st, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
Re: BEWARE, COMMENT MONSTERS AHEAD!
(cont'd, still on THREE):

I'm hellishly impressed, too, at the flawless weaving of this conversation into canon. I know we've all more or less gleefully embraced the fact that the person Roman was talking to in that hospital scene COULD TOTALLY HAVE BEEN MARC, but to see it actually described like this, to have it cemented into reality, is just gorgeous. I know I'll never watch those hospital scenes now without having this entire alternate reality flavour them, AND I LOVE IT.

The possibility of reconnection! Argh, and briefly there you have me rooting for it, and then there's this:

But god knows, he’s never been one to walk away until he’s exhausted every effort. He did that with Roman once. His life with René deserves just as much.

…and oh god, that is so MARC, so intensely in character from someone who we later see taking every desperate chance in DeRo 3.0, and it makes me hurt for him and love him so much for having that same determination here, that stubborn intent to give his current relationship the fullest of chances, no matter how beckoning this hint of re-sparkage with Roman is. And again, I DO WANT BOTH, SIMULTANEOUSLY, but I want a chance for René more.

And this makes me so curious, too, about just how these two eventually did fall apart (if we go by canon) and how they arrived at a place of friendship (again, love how we've all embraced the fact that the person Marc was calling from Essen to tell him no need to pick him up was René, hahahaha).

Oh oh oh, and then the hint of emotions spilling open after the phone call, when he looks at René! Wanting to unravel it all, to re-establish that trust they're so obviously having issues with. Makes me love him so much. And good god, but you rock those last lines!

France might not be his home, still. But René is. This is a trade off he can make.

*aches and loves* Just perfect!


Also, two random things that made me LOL:

…the centre in Essen was hailed as one the Americans should keep an eye on.

MALE FUNCTION SHOUTOUT! HAHAHAHA. (IDEC if it *wasn't* one, I'm reading it as one anyway. Heeeeh!)

The man never had more than 50 euros in his wallet at the best of times.

YEAH, BECAUSE WHEN IT WASN'T JENNY STEALING 100 EUROS FROM HIM TO HIRE JULIAN LOOK-ALIKES, IT WAS DARLING INGO PUMPING HIM FOR CAB FARE FOR HIS PRECIOUS BRAT.
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Aldi: AWZ: Jenny is fierce[info]aldiara on January 1st, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Re: BEWARE, COMMENT MONSTERS AHEAD!
FOUR

JENNY! NEWCOMER'S CUP! OMG! JENNYJENNYJENNY! MARC AND JENNY! I love you so much for acknowledging that these two obviously have a history, obviously know each other from way back! (Srsly, Show, why did we not get that?? It's only damn logical!). I adore them sizing each other up, and this:

…she wears the same smile he remembers, the one that flickered from mischief to malice and back again in the blink of an eye.

…is such a lovely recognition of that kind of… wariness, I suppose, that seems like such a natural reaction for Marc to have around Jenny. I mean, I think he would have liked her, back then, and both recognised and respected her importance in Roman's life, but I can't see him ever facing Jennifer Steinkamp – now or then – without that hint of wariness. So in character.

And what a lovely, subtle dance their conversation is – with her prodding and calculating, and him challenging her about being a newcomer, and her almost-conspiratorial concession about doing what you have to do when someone you love asks you too (and I really like how you left it open there whether she's talking about her parents or Lars). And she's so meddling yet indifferent in asking about Roman and giving him the number! Ack, it makes me want to know so much more about their relationship when they were younger. I love these two interacting!

OMG, and the ending! DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST HAVE MARC HIT BY A BUS, OMG YOU MONSTER. AND ALSO, LOL! LOLOLOLOL, HIT BY A BUS! I can't believe you did that! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU MADE IT *WORK*!! BECAUSE DAMMIT, THAT SHOULD BE CRACKY AND HILARIOUS, BUT FUCK ME IF IT ISN'T ACTUALLY TOTALLY TRAGIC AND POIGNANT. I have no idea how you pulled that off, but you did. YOU ROCK!


(It's odd, I was reading some of the other comments about how they see a gradual progression that takes us farther away from the possibility of reconnection with every piece, and I find that interesting, because I don't see that. I mean, I see it after they mentioned it, but at the same time, oddly, for me it was *this* piece that I found the most tantalising with possibility, perhaps exactly BECAUSE it makes it so clear that Marc *hasn't* been pining for Roman, that it *isn't* this big gaping hole in his life. And yet I can see him so easily, walking into this competition, or meeting up with Roman later for coffee (AHEM, IF HE HADN'T BEEN HIT BY A FUCKING BUS, THAT IS! [what ifs inside what ifs, it's fucking brilliant!]), and being blindsided just as much by resurgent feelings as he was in canon in the early 900s. Even though ostensibly it seems more unlikely. Even though he's not expecting it or looking for it here. Maybe it's just the physical proximity that made me feel that way, I don't know. But to me, it felt as real a possibility or more so than the previous pieces.)
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Aldi: AWZ: Marc stirs up trouble[info]aldiara on January 1st, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
Re: BEWARE, COMMENT MONSTERS AHEAD!
FIVE

Oooooh, again with the spicy-yummy-tangible flavour of the setting. I love the autumny atmosphere of this, the in-between, all-doors-open, nostalgic-yet-exciting air of being on the move, shifting towards new things. I love your descriptions of the bustling street and café, that thrummy excitement of travel when you're just setting out.

I also really like how the possibilities have kind of fanned out here, and Roman is no longer a focal point that would pop up in the majority of alternative futures… just one among many, a fleeting option popping up, triggered by an equally fleeting resemblance. I love this paragraph:

Almost without his conscious effort, Marc’s thumb slides to the call button, presses down. It’s only when the ringing begins that Marc thinks of what he might say, but the only thing that comes to mind is “another one’s gone and I’m not even that sorry and I don’t miss you, not really, but there’s a guy here drinking coffee like you do,” and that doesn’t sound quite right. Cringing at his recklessness, Marc reaches for the button to cancel the call, but then hears the electronic voice of grace announcing that “the number you’ve dialled is out of service, please check the number and dial again.”

There's so much in here, both in the words and between them – again, that spark of possibility, even now, even with the old trail of feelings nearly gone or successfully buried, I can still see the… IDK, other, new possibilities fanning out from this point: if Roman picked up, it could all swing around again, and the futures are myriad.

And yet I love that he doesn't – that there is no reconnection here except for that brief glimpse. I love the open-endedness of it. I love that at the end of this fic, we are left with Marc Hagendorf, alone, with the world wide open to him. I love how lonely this piece feels, and yet how almost cosy at the same time, how promising. It reminds me of that Buffy episode where she has Some Epic Duel with Angel and he taunts her about what will be left of her if he strips away all her defences, all her comforts, all her friends, and instead of the taunt breaking her, it *makes* her, when she tells him that what will be left is "myself". This piece has that same feeling of strength to me, and it gives me a strange sort of peace (longing, but content) to see this ending with a Marc who's almost completely free of the Roman Wild portion of his life. It's a beautiful thought – even if sad at the same time – that there *are* other futures for him in the end, countless ones that don't involve Roman, and don't need to.

And Marc feels the seasons shift as the train pulls out of the station.

*deep breath* And again, an utterly sublime last line.

I could go on about this fic until kingdom come. I'd actually love to comment and dissect and flail over every single line, because I think it's that awesome. But I'm already into srs bizniz tl;dr here, so I'll leave it at this and hope I've, uhm, made my point: MYSTERY AUTHOR, I LOVE THIS FIC TO BITS AND PIECES! AND YOU. YOU WIN AT LIFE.

I think this is the perfect way to end this fest, and I'll spazz at the mods elsewhere for their perfect pacing. I'll never forget that this is what ended HoFest, 8000 words of stirring, layered, gorgeously written possibilities. There's a statement in there somewhere, about the unlikely tenacity of the characters in these stories (independently of their currently, uhm, sucky canon medium), and of this fandom, that I think is so beautifully representative.



[BUBBLE OF LOVE] MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE [/BUBBLE OF LOVE]
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Giorgia: Shine[info]giorgiakerr on January 3rd, 2011 10:20 am (UTC)
OKAY, SO I HAVEN'T READ IT YET, AND THANK YOU FOR THE AWESOME GIFT, AND I'M SORRY I'M LATE, AND THIS IS THE FIRT TIME I'VE HAD INTERNET ACCESS IN LIKE TWO WEEKS, AND IT'S EXPENSIVE AND I HAVE NO MONEY, SO I'LL COME BACK TO IT LATER, OKAY? <333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333
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Diana: AWZ-J' <3 Paris shirt[info]notoriouslyuniq on January 4th, 2011 02:34 am (UTC)
Beautiful :')
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alsha: Buffy: Willow/Tara comfort[info]alsha on January 4th, 2011 05:44 am (UTC)
I was well into a long commentary on how much I love this fic, when I got called into work, hmph. So sorry for the delay. Here it is at last!

...

Oh wow, this has got to be one of my favourite fics of the fest. I know I'm not supposed to play favourites and say such things, but it's true, and you deserve to hear it, Mystery Author.

I am such a sucker for alternative lives. What-ifs, especially when it comes to romance and the potential for life-changing connection, are such poignant glimpses of something that reality can never offer in and of itself. Even Show can't do what you've just done here without getting into the gimmickyness of alternative endings, which is very much not the same thing. What you've done here is given us a gorgeous five-sided prism, and depending on which side I look into, I see a totally different configuration of colours and story and feelings. It's beautiful. It really truly is.

One is such a perfect place to start. With Andrew, with canon, with a glimpse of Roman that Marc is all too aware of - his insecurities about being gay and his need to fit himself into someone else's life, to belong, even despite his own reservations. So much so that he's essentially denied himself the right to feel annoyed at being owned. Marc is perfect here as the person to open Roman's eyes to what he really wants for himself. In fact, in each of these glimpses, Marc is always the right person for that moment. You set up the scenes so well.
I love good dialogue that just keeps going as a lengthy, intricate conversation interspersed with internal observations and reactions. You do that perfectly. Dialogue is hard to pull off well, especially because of the time distortion that almost always seems to occur - i.e. as the writer, it almost always feels like you've had your chars blabbing for hours but when you go over and read it, it's minutes. Long conversations, as they would happen in real life, are really challenging to transfer to writing. But in each of these pieces, your conversations feel rooted in the right amount of time, whether weighty confessions over a phone or a chance interlude with your ex's best friend in a hallway ten years later.

I like how Marc is always the same. Always quintessentially Marc. The pivot point around which all of this possibilities rotate. And his feelings for Roman are the same - sort of unchanging. What changes each time are the circumstances, and the other people in his life, and perhaps the intensity of his feelings for Roman. But the nature, the root/core/beating heart of this fic, is that Marc is Marc, and that Roman will always be a part of him, whether merely nostalgically after a chance-glimpsed stranger triggers the memory, or deeply interwoven in urgency and a desire for second chances. Marc's age seems to have something to do with it - as he gets older, he gets further from needing Roman in his present - and I guess that makes sense. It's a sad truth that the passing of time can resign us to being okay with missed chances, almost to the point where we believe we're better off without them. And maybe Marc is. Regardless, Roman has been the love of Marc's life, and I really enjoyed the way you showed that from these various angles. Sometimes love isn't enough, and you move past it, and away from it, or circle back around to it, and every version is bittersweet simply because it's RoMarc, and they have their history. And I'm rambling now - not even sure if any of this is making sense. Is it? I guess what I'm trying to say is that none of these possibilities come across as straightforward, or easy, or idealised, and that's a hard balance to strike. And I love the messiness of it all.

My underlying point is that I love this so much. What a magnificent vignette of portraits - each one about the ways a man is moulded, or unexpectedly waylaid, or torn, or chosen, or affected by someone he loves/once loved. A romance doesn't have to last forever to linger importantly in all the moments from then on. So well written.
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Momo: Marc by Fanatic 3-99[info]momogermany on January 4th, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
Gah, what is left for me to say after these wonderful commenters whose observations about your fic are little literary masterpieces on their own. Everything that makes this fic so interesting, moving and heartbreakingly beautiful is explained there in the best of ways. Just big big word to everything.
MA , I can only add that I've read this fic twice already and I'll sure come back for another reread or two, because I'm certain that everytime I will discover another of those tiny, but so poignant little details that cut through my heart in the best possible way.

There's just another thing that got me thinking: It's so amazing that with the relatively short screen time that the show dedicated to the character of Marc Hagendorf, he left such a lasting impression of who this person is, that along with everybody else here, while reading this story I found myself nodding along, thinking “ Yes, this is so typical Marc!” and “Yes, she got him absolutely right here”. It feels like nothing has been added to or made up about this person's character, but as if MA just dug deeply into something that was already there and explored it in great loving detail with a very good psychological understanding and that dose of smirking humour that made Marc Hagendorf simply irresistible.

So along with bowing to the incredible writing talents of MA, I feel Timo Hübsch (along with his co-stars, to be fair) deserves a standing ovation too, for creating a character and a story that seems to have become the biggest inspiration for this hofest and many other works of fic this winter.

Topstory indeed!

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[info]merkyderry on January 7th, 2011 04:03 am (UTC)
Reading the passage about outside forces being too powerful for Roman & Marc leaves me with a dull ache settling in. They are star crossed, but new ice shows are born, new relationships form--I appreciate that reality written into this story, and I shake my head at the irony & sadness--the feeling of loneliness--of Roman seeking the advice of a man who's still in love with him.

What I also like about this story is that sense of having memories intrude on the present: How Marc could be watching skating results or living a life in France or sipping coffee in a train station and the past is kind of hovering there & re-experiencing the emotions.

I liked the all the imagery of the last section: the wind whipping outside; a growing buzz; an image striking Marc with a hurricane force; of people swept by the currents of the station and of Marc drifting toward his train; There's always that sense again of letting go & let life go on--

Beautiful. Thank you.
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Giorgia: RoMarcFace[info]giorgiakerr on January 8th, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
ONE: PART I
Okay, so I'm going to go make myself a coffee so I can settle in with this story for good, y/y? Because I just read the first line, and went, "No, there's no way in hell I'm leaving the computer once I start reading."

Already so much in love with this story.

Back now. Prepared. *dives in*

It was a few months after their break-up – the last one

This actually hurt. Like, physically. Because I'd never really considered it before. Like, we knew that their relationship couldn't all have been hugs and kittens, and that their breakup was less than smooth, but the idea that their relationship had so many ups and downs before that... ouch. I mean, thinking about it, it makes perfect sense, because it was two years (two whole years), and Roman was still a kid, with a boat-load of issues, but I just hadn't really considered it as quite so rocky before. And with the way they fell back into each other in RoMarc 2.0, it makes perfect sense that ten years ago, the same would have happened. A lot.

Oh, and how much do I love that after everything, Roman calls Marc about Andrew. I mean, assuming Andrew is his first real relationship since Marc, who else does Roman really have? Marc probably knows him better than almost anyone else, at this point, and that Roman feels he needs to talk to Marc... kind of painful, but kind of sweet. I love the play through Marc's emotions. The slightly bitter edge of wanting to hear something bad. Of wanting to hear that something's wrong, wanting to hear the "... but..." in there.

And, GOD, this is how the Andrew thing should have worked out, because everything Marc's saying SO needed to be said, but none of Roman's friends ever said it. This is canon repair on like ten different levels.

And by about here:

“I don’t know, Roman,” he says, his voice turning gentle, “but it sounds like he’s treating you like a little boy, a silly little boy.”

I'm literally choking up. Partially out of anger at Andrew being a twat, and partially out of sympathy for Marc and his own indignation, and partially out of... pity (?) for Roman. No, not pity, just... almost empathy, but the kind of, "I want to smack you upside the head" empathy. It feels almost like Marc's losing Roman - the boy, the man he knew is almost gone. There's a sense of wistfulness there, but it's more powerful than that, more than nostalgia. Like Marc wants nothing more than to fight for Roman - not as a lover, or even a friend, but for *Roman's* sake. To remind Roman that he's bloody strong, that he deserves more than some arsehole like Andrew, that he doesn't *need* arseholes like Andrew. And that Roman's so unsure of himself, so willing to be treated that way if it makes him feel slightly more loved, wanted... ow. Really.

I'm afraid to continue reading for fear of short-circuiting my keyboard with tears.
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Giorgia: RoMarcFace[info]giorgiakerr on January 8th, 2011 04:02 am (UTC)
ONE: PART II
Marc's thoughts, the italics, tagged onto the end of what's spoken. Ugh. So to-the-point. It's everything that *should* be said, but can't be. Everything that could make the situation so much worse, but really is the truth, is the POINT. And so in keeping with Marc's character, too. He's so, so restrained in some ways, almost to the point of being irritating. And I think it's very much in keeping with Roman and Marc's relationship, too. There's so much unspoken ~meaning~ to it all. And not just in gestures and glances, but really just because they know each other well enough, know their relationship well enough that they don't need to say these things. On some level, I have no doubt that everything Marc isn't saying, Roman's thinking. Somewhere, and probably not consciously, or they're thoughts that are quickly bashed away into the back of his mind, but they're there. Because Roman is independent, on some level, is strong, and it's really a matter of him being able to hold onto that.

It’s the kind of pressure that Marc loves.

This is so good. It captured the passion that Marc has for this, that he HAS to have for this. It's a job that wouldn't work without a driving force, somewhere, that you could never do if you hated it, and it's the kind of passion that I think so many people look for in their jobs, and so many people never find. It's so similar to the skating - without the pressure, there's no drive, but without the drive, there's no pressure, and without the drive and the pressure, there's just nothing. It says a lot for Marc's character that he enjoys it so much. This line just got me; I'm feeling all ambitious and battle-ready, now, haha.

And the last bit! So Christmas-spirit-y! Lovely and touching and leaving you with utter anticipation - scared and excited, with just a little bit of trepidation, and I can just SEE Marc sitting there, smile breaking over his features, alone in the coffee shop, unable to stop the happiness from breaking through, even as his mind tries to be logical and realistic. I just... DUDE. I LOVE IT. I'M SO... HAPPY. IT'S JUST SO HAPPY-MAKING.
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Giorgia: RoMarcSnog[info]giorgiakerr on January 8th, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
TWO
I love the idea that Marc's proud of Roman. Happy for him, after everything, because despite everything, I think that the two of them feel so much for each other that that would be overriding, on either side. And you can see that in 2.0 - that Marc's willing to leave, if that's what Roman wants, what he *really* wants, because Roman's happiness is so important to him. Even though I don't believe that Marc's leaving was purely martyrly, that was part of it.

Marc answers, feeling an unexpected compulsion to slide into the banter they’d once enjoyed

I can so see this. Because in one way, it makes sense, it's comfortable and familiar, almost like an inside joke, but in another way, it's also easier than being honest. It's easier to mock and joke than it is to be open and vehement, and especially after years without any communication.

Anyway, a medal is a medal.

I almost want to pretend that never happened. To be like, "Deniz? Who's that? Roman, stop chasing other dudes when Marc's RIGHT THERE!" Which is awfully confusing, but I love it. I still feel a little (okay, a lot) nostalgic for 1.0, so that line makes me "D'aw" a little, but now I'm all confused and stuff... It's awesome.

And I love that you've given Marc a family, too. He was such a lone character. The parts of him that were developed on Show were FOR Show, and other than that, there was very little. It seems logical and kind of lovely to me that Marc has a sister and neices/nephews, that he had a semi-functional family where Roman didn't. It's brings to mind so many images of Marc and Roman's two years together - of Christmases and meeting-the-in-laws and of a proud and comfortable Marc, in a situation that we never saw him in. I'm loving this.

And then hearing, over the phone, after so many years, the interest Roman's shown in Deniz. The fact that Marc instantly agrees to back down, whether for his own sake or Roman's.

I love that it ends with such hope, similar to One, but still a very different feeling.
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Giorgia: AndRomanInTheMiddle[info]giorgiakerr on January 8th, 2011 05:06 am (UTC)
THREE
How? How have you made me ship ReMarc so hard? I've fallen a little bit in love with Rene. I like that while Marc does care for Roman, and that he needs to see him after the bashing, he does love Rene. Loves him enough to stay with him and to keep trying, to try to make their relationship work, even though they obviously have problems.

And the masks they both wear. I love that you've created this whole characters of Rene so well that I feel for him, that I can empathise with his fear and his anxiety, and *understand* his motives, even though it's all through Marc's eyes. It also shows how well Marc knows him. That even though they still have these few sort of barriers up between and around them, that they have Issues, they know one another. Well.

Hahaha, basically, they're both just such men. That little bit more closed-off, but still trying to be open enough, to be strong and keep their composure at all times, even though all they really want is to make their point, to tell each other how they feel. And I like the idea that they will. That one day, Rene and Marc will live happily ever after (only with Issues, because they're more fun), and that Marc's return to Essen doesn't end with RoMarc, but with a friendship, a regaining of a relationship, only in a new form, a non-romantic form.

Either that, or a threesome. But I'm cool with either.

I honestly couldn't write a comment while I was reading Three, because I didn't want to stop reading. I loved the different approach to the RoMarc reunion - i.e. Marc going into it with a boyfriend, with whom he intends on staying.

But that under everything there's a slightly bitter feeling of being stuck in France, of not knowing Things, and also of Rene not telling him Things. This is a part of their relationship that obviously needs work, and Marc's willing to give it that work, and from what's here, so is Rene. I really, really want them to work out, dammit! Hahaha, tell me!! Do they get to stay together? Do they go on and have Issues like any self-respecting Gay Boys? Please?

And I want get-togethers and maybe swinger!plot with ReMarc and DeRo, please. Or awkward Christmas dinners with Florian all, "Dude, TOO MUCH GAY." And Rene being his favourite uncle because he cooks really nice food, or something. And Marian being all, "Don't worry, Flo, you get used to it. Let's go have a manly beer, or something, y/y?" And them escaping to play basketball, but being followed by the rest of them, and Deniz and Rene join in the game unwantedly, while Roman and Marc sit on the halfpipe and get hammered on Prosecco, and...

I'll stop now. But I want this. So badly.

This was like a tiny coin leading to a pot at the end of a Very Gay Rainbow. MORE!
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Giorgia: RoMarcFace[info]giorgiakerr on January 8th, 2011 05:36 am (UTC)
FOUR
Jenny and Marc! Best beginning ever. I love the banter that's just a little more than banter. Slightly bitchy, on both sides, but only really because they know each other. They know what makes the other tick to some extent, know hot to hit where it hurts.

And I find it so interesting that Jenny wasn't supposed to know about their relationship. That Roman was so damned scared that he hadn't ever even mentioned it to Jennifer. It's so sad; it brings me back to the image of Roman's scared little boy routine. Even as he was strong and wilful and confident in so many ways, he was so far in the closet that he wasn't even honest with his best friend. Ow.

Haha, Herr Ackermann, the old rogue! *dies*

I love the JeMarc conversation. That Jenny really is right, and that despite it all, she wants Marc to call Roman. Almost like she's helping Marc, but also out of respect for Roman. A nonverbal way of telling Marc that Roman deserves more than what Marc's done/is going to do.

And whoa! I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT. *flails madly*
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Giorgia: RoMarcSnog[info]giorgiakerr on January 8th, 2011 06:02 am (UTC)
FIVE [the universe and everything]
Ah, the description of travelling makes me want to travel SO BADLY. And/or be in a coffee shop somewhere on a cold day, sitting on a couch or a stool, relaxing by myself. God that sounds so enticing right now. It's a beautiful description; it really strikes me, reading it. So introspective and so descriptive, and it makes so much sense, and gives this character a new dimension. His love for coffee shops and travelling is something that we never knew about him before, something that has nothing to do with the things we DO know about him, really, and these little details make him all the more human, all the more independent from Roman and from Show, even. It's this kind of detail that I think fanfiction is all about, sometimes.

But in this moment he feels himself in that in-between state again, when he’s tied to the past and the future hasn’t taken hold yet.

I think this is the perfect description of that feeling. Whether it's a relationship, a career move, a summer holiday from school, moving house... you put to words a feeling that is so familiar, but that I could never quite grasp. I love that.

And the simple act of drinking coffee bring back so many memories, drawing a connection there that goes so much deeper than just drinking coffee. A small difference, but one that is so *meaningful* that it's almost painful. And it rings of so many other images: Marc trying to teach Roman to appreciate wine, Roman rebelling and just glugging it all; Roman getting antsy becuase Marc's taking forever to finish his coffee and Roman wants to go shopping; them, watching each other with fascination over their drinking habits. And the speed of drinking is so... them. They're timy little characteristics that I think match their characters so well, that almost *describe* their characters. Roman, ever-rushing, always in a hurry, about to trip over his own shoelaces or choke on his drink; Marc, outwardly calm, introspective, not rushing the things that he considers savourable.

Alkajsdfljghdka. Drinking should not be so complex and meaningful, but it is, and I love you. And now I want to sit in a coffee shop at night and watch people wander through the city streets, which really just makes me wish that coffee shops here were open past like 6. Damn.

And the end!

I know it's been said already, but I adore that all five scenarios leave us without conclusion. That it would be lovely, or painful. That nothing could happen and everything could happen. And that each ends with a different feeling - hope, worry, fear, nervousness, excitement, many more, and any combination thereof. But at the same time, you could see each playing out. In many different ways, but the foundation was built so well each time that each outcome is so different. Even if every time they end up together, it'll always be different, and I think that says so much about relationships and people, and especially about these characters and their personalities.

AND I'M SORRY MY RESPONSE WAS SO LATE! But now that I've had a whole day to sit here and digest, I'm glad that I did indeed have a whole day, because that was awesome. So, so awesome, and the best Christmas present ever!! THANK YOU SO MUCH, MA! (And now I can go look at the Masterlist with the authors, because I'm dying of curiosity, here, and I've had to refrain all day, haha.)

THANK YOU! <3333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333

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