[A/N: Alright, so technically I shouldn't be starting a third story, considering I have two other incomplete stories. I was home sick for the second day today, and I realized that maybe I should start a story in a somewhat different style that I'm accustomed to writing. Make what you want of it, it'll eventually become an AU, but it will stay true to all of the RENT characters you see in the play. And that, my friends and reviewers, is all I'm saying for now. There will be more chapters to follow this, so it is not a standalone.

You'll probably be able to figure out the character description and then from there, we'll really begin.

Wow, I'm being a little cryptic. I'm bad. Review please, I'll love you forever and a day! Roger will give you a hug. ;)

DISCLAIMER: All credit belongs to Jonathan Larson. 3

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RED LIPGLOSS

01. Prologue

When sky blue gets dark enough

To see the colors of the city lights

A trail of ruby red and diamond white

Hits her like a sunrise

+ +

I love my red lipgloss. 

Okay, so I'm lying. I don't exactly love it, but I like it a whole hell of a lot. It's too light to be crimson lipstick, but too dark to be simple chapstick. It knows its makeup boundaries and doesn't try to be one or the other. It's content with just being simple red lipgloss.

Roger says it brings out my eyes.

I say he's lying.

Why do I think everyone's lying to me lately?

God kid, you are fucked up.

I brush a brunette strand of hair off my forehead and stare at the lipgloss, lying stationary on the soap dish. For lack of better things to do, I put some on before scrawling a brief but to the point message on the bathroom mirror. If you know you're about to die, why not look good, right?

I check my watch, absentmindedly lying next to the sink. 12:12 AM. Now's a better time them never. Mark is probably downstairs with Maureen, and Roger won't be back from bartending for a few hours anyway—if he comes home at all tonight.

She comes and goes and comes and goes

Like no one can

I start running the water in the tub. I want it warm, because it'll be freezing by the time they find me. I won't be able to feel anything by then.

Roger will probably be too strung out to feel much of anything but delirious happiness.

He's so much worse off than I am. He's dependant—an addict. He can't go a few hours without smack—it's physically impossible. I'm not dependant. Yes, I have a dependency on it, but I can go a few days without the drug. I don't need heroin in my life. I don't suppose I ever really did. I could bring myself to quit if I wanted to badly enough, but Roger I'm not so sure about it.

Do we really actually know each other? Roger and I?

We could be classified as two people who are more familiar with each other's bodies than emotions. I know just about every physical thing about him—the way his hair stands up in the morning, his laugh when he's not high, every scar, every track mark, and every tattoo.

We have conversations, sometimes, when we're both awake in the middle of the night. When the cravings haven't set in, and he becomes the guy I fell in love with, once upon a time.

I haven't seen the real Roger for weeks now.

Don't cry, don't you dare cry. You're breaking down; you won't be able to go through with it. Stop crying.

The tub is halfway full now. I reach over and shut it off, the occasional drip drip drip before the faucet closes off the water supply.

Tonight she's out to lose herself

And find a high on Peachtree Street

From mixed drinks to techno beats

She's heavy into everything

So instead of getting in right away, I sit, I reflect, and I wait.

I wish somebody would come through the door and stop myself from doing this.

I wonder what Roger's doing right now. I wonder if he went to his dealer yet tonight. I wonder if he'll bring any smack home for me. He usually does, or I share with him.

My fingers are shaking. I haven't touched heroin in ninety-six hours. That's almost a record for me. Almost. Except for a few months back when I was so sick, I couldn't tolerate anything, let alone heroin for a week. Four days drug free. I haven't felt so normal in a long time.

But tonight I'm leaving normal.

Tonight I'm leaving you, Roger.

Fuck, I'm thinking too much.

I don't even bother to take off my clothes as I lift one jean-clad foot and press it into the lukewarm water. I repeat with the other foot, and I sit down. I bring my knees up to my chest and start swishing my hand through the water with my left hand, watching the patterns it makes.

I'm getting distracted again.

She's always buzzing

Just like neon

Neon

Who knows how long

How long, how long

She can go before she burns away Away, away

We had love, we had trust. I never cheated on him, he never cheated on me. We were just us, we were exclusively together. That's what Mark called us. We were a pair. Just like socks.

Roger would have a missing sock in the morning. He'd start to search for me, except most times, you don't find your lost socks ever again.

I wish I could stick around long enough to get him clean.

Please get clean for me Roger.

Now I was really procrastinating.

I reached over the side of the tub and picked up the razor. Across, or up and down? I couldn't remember, so I went with across, just because it seemed to make the most sense. You cut the veins across, the blood comes out faster. Therefore you die faster.

It stung at first, but I quickly dropped my hand into the water.

Not that bad of a way to go.

Then the other wrist soon matched the right, and the water was changing colors in little pools.

She comes and she goes Like no one can

She comes and she goes

She's slipping through my hands

"April? Are you still up?"

My head shot up and I looked at the door. What the hell was he doing home so early?

"April?"

I was panicking now. The blood wasn't coming out that fast, so I instinctively reached for a towel and pulled it into the tub with me. Goddammit. I pressed it against my wrists and tried to remember how to apply pressure.

Shit April, your mother was a nurse! Think!

Elbow up at a ninety-degree angle and wrap tight.

It only semi worked. It wasn't stopping, and I was getting dizzy.

Roger knocked at the bathroom door. "April? Are you okay? I got off early, so I brought some food home with me. I didn't know if you were hungry or not."

How thoughtful of you Roger.

I was scared now. I didn't want this. I was 21 years old, I didn't want to die. Don't they have medications now for HIV?

"I don't want to die," I called back to him. "Roger, help me."

I was surprised he even heard me at first.

"What?"

He jiggled the doorknob and turned it, opening the door. Fuck, I forgot to lock the door.

It was slow motion from there on out. He came in and his eyes landed on me. For the first time since we'd been together, I knew he was scared. I never saw before what I saw in his eyes tonight. Fear.

"Oh god. Oh god. Oh god," he repeated, over and over. He picked me up and placed me on his lap and he started rocking me back and forth. "Why? Why? Tell me what to do. I'll do anything. Please tell me what to do."

He was crying now. I was bleeding all over him. "Phone. 911," I whispered. He picked me up again and brought me to the living room and rocked me some more.

I was being incredibly calm about this. It seemed surreal. I had wanted to die, and now I wanted nothing more than to be saved.

He had saved me.

He hung up the phone and I closed my eyes. "They said they'd be here. Okay? They'll be here. You'll be okay. You have to be okay," he whispered into my ear. He pressed the soaked towel against my wrists and propped me up some. "You'll be okay. Because I love you. I love you, you'll be okay."

I felt like a rag doll stretched out across his lap. I was drifting in and out of consciousness. In the ten minutes it took for the paramedics to come, there were times when I had convinced myself I was a goner, and there were others where I'd open my eyes and see Roger crying and stroking my hair.

Neon, neon

Neon, neon

Who knows how long

How long, how long

She can go before she burns away

I didn't mean to make you cry, Roger. Please don't cry over me.

I felt a foreign pair of hands lift me up and place me on a stretcher. My wrists were being squeezed tightly, and a light was briefly shone in my eyes.

"Just fucking do something!"

Roger was shouting. My head was starting to hurt.

"We are sir."

Roger crouched over me and took my hand as they started taking me down the stairs. I felt him squeeze it back and forth, and then I heard Mark's voice.

"Roger! What the hell happened!"

"They're taking her to the hospital. Just fucking meet us there Mark and stop asking questions," he said to him.

They roughly placed me in the back of the ambulance and Roger climbed in after me, never letting go of my hand.

"How does it look?" I asked him slowly, trying to focus in on him.

"You—you're gonna be okay," he said, kissing the top of my forehead. I tried to squeeze his hand back, but my wrists were throbbing in pain.

So this is what it felt like to burn out.

"I'm—" I attempted to speak, but they slipped the oxygen mask over my nose and I couldn't say anymore.

"What's her name?"

Roger looked up at the paramedic. "April."

"April, can you hear me?"

I tried my hardest to nod. Considering I was just talking to Roger two seconds before, it was a pretty stupid question.

"We're giving you something right now to ease the pain and clot your blood, okay?"

Yeah. Whatever you say, Mister Paramedic. He needed to work on his people skills.

I tried to nod again. I was starting to get drowsy.

Burn out, April.

Fade to black.

Your red lipgloss never looked prettier.

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Lyrics credited to: John Mayer, "Neon".