By the time that you told me, it was already plain that you'd changed.
But your conscience was clean and as white as a line of cocaine.
My back to the wall of your bedroom apartment,
You're talking in circles, got two cigarettes burning,
And I couldn't hide how afraid I was to see you so strange.


In future years, when someone would ask her, Rayna Jaymes would always say she couldn't pinpoint the exact moment she realized that Deacon Claybourne had an alcohol problem. She would define it, only when absolutely necessary, as a gradual decline that just became too much over time, that eventually became an addiction. In a way, that was true. She had noticed him drinking more, she had noticed it becoming more ritualistic—but the truth was, she had a moment. It was this moment that flashed in her mind any time anyone would ask, whether she answered them or not.

They'd just finished playing a show, Bucky had just become her manager, she had just become big enough to need a manager. Before they went onstage, she'd spent an hour on the phone feeding quarters into a payphone, trying to reach Deacon for the first half hour, and trying to find a replacement for the second. Someone had, thankfully, come through. It was the first—and only—time Bucky had suggested she get rid of Deacon and find a new lead guitarist.

The minute she stepped off stage, she headed to Deacon's apartment, determined to wait for him. On the drive over, her heart struggled between rage and fear. She was angry that he had done this, but she was also scared because she didn't know where he was. She expected to let herself in and wait for him to return, but when her key twisted in the door, she found it was unlocked. As she cracked the door open, the smell of booze and cigarettes hit her all at once, and strange music hit her ears. It was a song she would never forget, but she always found that she couldn't actually recall it.

Stepping inside, she surveyed the room, and immediately felt sick. Shelves were knocked over, books strewn about. In the middle of the floor, she saw Deacon sitting cross legged at the glass coffee table with his back to her. There was a lit cigarette sitting on the glass, an empty bottle of whisky next to it, and several discarded papers that had been torn from a yellow legal pad, some crumpled into little balls, some torn in half. His hair was wild, and he was hunched over the legal pad, pen scribbling furiously. She was amazed she could hear the scratching of his pen over the music, over the sound of her own beating heart.

She closed the door behind her, and Deacon's head whipped around.

His eyes were as wild as his hair—his lips broke into an easy smile when he saw her.

"Hey, baby," His words came out in a hurry, as though his mouth didn't fit properly around them. He stood up, and clutched a few of the legal papers in his hand. He headed straight for her, when he got close enough to touch her, she stepped out of reach. He furrowed his brow, but held the papers out for her—"Look, baby. This is it. This is the song; I think I've finally gotten it." The papers wrinkled in his hands as he thrust them towards her.

She kept her hands at her sides, "Deacon." Her voice was calm, measured, "You missed the show."

His face fell, the papers released themselves from his clutches, he looked at his watch, he looked at the clock on the wall, "No, baby. Baby, no, no, no, no. I still got…" He trailed off, trying to make sense of his watch again. "Time." He finished.

She shook her head, feeling herself growing angry. "No."

He stepped away from her then, placed his hands on the back of his couch to brace himself.

Before she could stop herself, she stepped toward him, "We really needed you, Deacon!" Her voice reverberated around the apartment. "This was important!" He still wasn't looking at her, "I needed you!" She said again, the anger she'd been subconsciously nursing for hours broke through full-force. "And you were here, at your apartment, drunk?"

That did it. He turned to her then, and she barely had time to register that she didn't recognize him, not really. When he moved to where she stood, his face full of rage, she reflexively stepped back, until she could go no further.

"This song is for Vince." He was in her face now, and she wasn't sure where to look, so she just pressed her back into the wall. "You know, my best friend… who died because of me." He finished, and Rayna started to break in, started to raise her hands to calm him, but the look in his eye stopped her. He was yelling now, "Maybe if you weren't so fucking selfish, Rayna, if you didn't think the entire fucking world revolved around you, you could understand that."

Her mouth fell open, and she quickly closed it. Her voice was unrecognizable when she opened it to speak again, "I'm not selfish."

He sneered at her then, and he lowered his head so their faces were even. His eyes were bleary, but they looked at her with something that made her blood run cold, "Yes." He nodded, "You fucking are."

She inhaled sharply, and she felt his words echo in her body—felt them behind her eyes as the tears started to burn. He smirked.

That was the moment. That was the moment she thought about right before she fell asleep, whenever she didn't know where he was, sometimes even if she did. It was the first time she'd ever been afraid of Deacon; he'd looked so strange to her, so foreign in that moment.

She'd put her hands up and pushed him away from her, and he'd stepped back, picked up the yellow papers, and sat down at the coffee table. She could hear her own heartbeat, her ragged breath as she opened the door and walked back out, not trusting her voice to speak, not knowing what it is she should say. He didn't, she noticed, even turn to look at her as she left.

When she got home, she called Bucky, and through her sobs told him that Deacon needed help. It wasn't, she knew, part of his job description. But his voice was soft through the landline, I know a place, he'd said, I'll call.


A/N: There should be 5 parts to this one. Thank you all for the encouragement. Message received. :)