RED LIPGLOSS

02. Heroin Run

[A/N: Thanks to my reviewers! Thanks so much. :)]

"Pookie, what's going on?"

Maureen had stepped out into the hall, a sweatshirt jacket draped carefully over her shoulders.

It was a little chilly for May today.

Mark looked over at her. "They—well, the paramedics took April to the hospital."

She pressed her hand over her mouth and dramatically inhaled a breath of air. "Why? What happened?"

Mark shrugged and turned towards her. "Roger just told me to stop asking questions and meet him there. I don't know, there was a lot of blood."

"On Roger or April?"

He shrugged as she linked her hand through his. "On both."

She bit her lip and closed the door to the apartment. "We should go. Should we tell Collins first?"

Mark shook his head as they walked to the end of the street. "We'll call him from the hospital." He hailed a cab and let Maureen slide in before him. He mumbled out their destination to the driver and she rested her head against his shoulder.

"Do you think that this might be what he needs to stop fucking with his life?" she said quietly into his shirt. "To see April hurt?"

Mark sighed and kissed her forehead. "I hope so."

"I don't want April to suffer on account of him. He's been a real dickhead to her over the past few weeks."

"How do you know that?"

Maureen glanced out the window briefly. "She's come to talk to me about it a few times, you know, over coffee?"

"Oh. I didn't know that. What's she been saying?"

"She's mentioned how Roger hasn't been home a lot over the past few weeks—how he's been high more often, how he's started shutting her out." She turned her head back to face him. "Mark, she's been trying to quit. She told me this morning that she hasn't touched smack for four days."

Four days? Roger hadn't been able to go four days without smack in four months. "She must be pretty serious about quitting then."

Maureen glared at him. "She's not a bad person Mark. I'm sorry that she's pulled Roger away from you, but that doesn't give you a reason to hate her. She at least admits that she has a problem. She wants help, but she doesn't have anyone to turn to. How would you feel if your own boyfriend ignored you half of the time? She doesn't know where to start—where to turn."

"Then why'd she come to you?"

"Because Mark! She thinks everyone else hates her! You could at least try being a little decent towards her every once in awhile. Even Collins has been cold towards her, and that's unlike him. She doesn't know Benny that well. She came to me, and I'm sorry if you have a problem with that."

The cab pulled up in front of the hospital, and Maureen reached into her purse and placed the money in the driver's hand.

"Fine. Whatever."

"I know it bothers you that April's not addicted like Roger is. I know you want them to switch places. Let Roger be not as addicted, and let April be the one is his place. But you can't have that Mark. Hopefully now it's not too late to do something."

She turned and pushed through the revolving door of the emergency room, leaving Mark standing alone on the sidewalk.

_______________________________________________________

Roger pressed his hand against the glass of the trauma room door. He saw the people rushing around April. He saw her eyes open and close, doctors shout orders, and hook her up to IVs. She was limp and pale.

Her blood was staining the floor.

He couldn't handle it anymore.

April had tried to kill herself. Was it because of him?

God, he needed a fix.

He turned around and walked away, back down the pristine corridors of the emergency room. He needed to get away; he couldn't deal with his emotions right now. April was suffering, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

He hadn't paid attention to her over the past month. He'd always be out with the band or bartending. He had more conversations with The Man then with his own girlfriend.

No wonder she had wanted to kill herself.

He walked down the hall some more, only to come face to face with Mark and Maureen.

"Roger, where are you going?" Mark asked. Roger blinked and stared at him. He was sweating, shaking. He needed smack, and now.

"I—um, I need—"

Maureen shook her head and took Roger's arm in hers. "Honey, why don't you sit down? We'll try and get you something to drink and wait for the doctors, okay?"

"You can't possibly be making a heroin run now, Roger. Your fucking girlfriend is laying in a hospital bed, clinging to her life, and you're thinking about smack?" Mark said bitterly. "I don't even know you anymore."

Roger glared at him. "Fuck you," he snarled.

"What, you think we're stupid? Don't look at us like that Roger, we knew all along what you and April were doing," Mark continued. Roger looked like he was either going to explode in anger or start sobbing.

"Mark, that's enough," Collins said. He had just walked through the doors and placed his hand gently on Mark's elbow.

Mark took a seat next to Maureen and stared at his hands. "Whatever."

Collins convinced Roger to sit down a little distance away. "Roger man, we're gonna get you some help, okay?"

Roger nodded and shrugged. "April's--?"

"No, we don't think so. It's not your fault Roger."

He nodded furiously as hot tears pricked his eyes. "Yes it is! I fucking abandoned her and she wanted to die because of me!"

"Don't blame yourself. We don't know what's been going on in her head yet," Maureen said.

Roger shrugged again and looked down at his boots.

"Excuse me?"

The four of them looked up at the petite blonde nurse. Collins finally cleared his throat and responded. "Yeah?"

"Are you waiting on an update about April Spataro?"

"Yes we are," Collins replied. Roger looked away and at his feet again, and Collins gave him a reassuring squeeze on his arm.

"Well, the doctors stopped the bleeding and stitched up her wrists. She's a little groggy, but she's awake. They're waiting on a psych consult and want to run a few more tests. She's been asking for a Roger."

Roger's head shot up and he looked at the nurse. He was shaking again.

Fuck you, heroin.

"That's me," he answered.

"You can see her, if you'd like too. And I'm sure her doctor will be able to inform you of the other details." The nurse smiled and politely walked away.

"Aren't you going?" Mark asked.

"Mark," Collins warned.

Roger shot a venomous look in Mark's direction and took off for the trauma room. "I'm going to see her."

"Want any coffee?" Maureen asked. "I can get some from the cafeteria."

"No."

____________________________________________________________________

My mouth was dry.

I tilted my head to the side, dragging my cheek roughly against the material of the pillow. Hospitals were the worst.

"Welcome back. How are you feeling?" A young woman with blonde, curly hair was smiling at me, clipboard in hand. "I'm Christina Harris, April."

I wasn't in the mood for much talking. "Can I have something to drink?"

She nodded and held out a cup of water. "I thought you'd ask for that." I reached for it and tried to grasp it, but my wrists throbbed painfully. Christina lifted the cup to my lips and I took a few sips before pulling away.

"Thanks."

She just nodded. "You seem to have quite a few people out in the hall that care about you," she said simply.

"I didn't try to kill myself because I thought no one loved me," I said, wanting to push the idea out of her head quickly. "So save it, if that's what you're really thinking."

"Then why, April?"

I didn't answer. I hated how she said my name. So professional.  She sounded like my mother. Since I hadn't answered, she flipped through my medical chart.

"We don't have to start there, if you don't want to. Why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself?"

"What do you want to know?"

"Just some basic information. Where you grew up, your family life. Things of that nature."

"Fine. I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood in Boston with my parents and my older brother Harvey. We have a beach house on Nantucket. I moved to the city when I was 18. My brother is a principle dancer with the ballet here."

She nodded and wrote down my scattered information. "What are you parent's professions?"

"My father's a lawyer and my mother's a nurse."

"I see. And how is your relationship with your brother?"

I shrugged. "I haven't seen him in six months. He's busy with the ballet. He doesn't have time to see me. We don't make the time."

"How would he react to seeing you right now?"

I shrugged once again. "I don't know. He'd be upset and ask me questions."

She jotted a few more things down. I didn't understand how these questions could possibly be helping me in any way. "And do you have a job?"

"I wait tables at the Life Café. I would have been an English teacher, but I dropped out of college. I sing sometimes."

"Sing?"

"Like at bars and clubs. Live bands?"

"Okay."

This lady was boring me. "When can I go home?"

"Well that depends. I want you to answer a few questions for me first."

I stared at her. "Then why don't you ask them? I'm sure we both have better things to do then sit here and tell our life stories to each other."

She smiled at this. Goddamn lady, it wasn't fucking funny! "When did you find out you were positive for HIV?"

"Last week. I went to the clinic with a friend from work, Paris."

"And are you on the cocktail?"

"No. It's too expensive."

"Your insurance will cover it. In fact, I have a prescription right here for you already written out."

I looked down at the messy handwriting on the blue paper. "Oh. Thanks."

"So do you want to talk about your boyfriend?"

"I'd like to see him, if that's what you mean."

"Is he on heroin too?"

What the fuck? Where do these people get their information? Just because they run about five hundred expensive tests, they automatically think they have the one up on me—my life. "How'd you guess?"

"I've counseled people with a drug dependency before. I know the signs," she answered plainly.

"I want to get him into rehab. I want to get him clean," I blurted out.

"Well what about yourself?"

"I've been clean for over four days. I know that's not much, but I'm more worried about him then myself."

She looked up at me and smiled. "It seems like you care very much about him."

"I do."

"Then what got you to this point where you felt like you had no other way out?"

"I don't know. I just felt like I wasn't getting a lot of support from anyone. He was ignoring me, he was never home. I was alone a lot."

"Why don't you like being alone?"

I slumped back against the pillows. "Because it's not a good feeling."

She sensed that I didn't want to continue the conversation and placed the clipboard on the table by my bed. "The doctors want to keep you here for a few more hours, but would you be interested in an outpatient rehab program?"

I thought about it for a second. "Yeah. I guess."

"Good. Now your boyfriend will probably be harder to convince, but maybe you could convince him to come to a Life Support meeting tomorrow night around 9? I think you could both use other people to talk to that are around your same ages."

She gave me a business card and stood up, picking up the clipboard again. "I'll talk to your doctor about scheduling your first rehab—"

"Can I see if I can do it on my own first? Please? I really—want to be there for my boyfriend. I want to see if I can help him before I get help myself."

She nodded, although hesitantly. "I'll see you tomorrow at the meeting then, April."

"Yeah. Sure." I tossed the card to the side and closed my eyes some. I was getting really drowsy again.

I heard a knock at the door that caught my attention. I knew it was him before I even opened my eyes. His outline was even etched into my dreams. I saw the familiar spikes of blonde hair, the dejected look on his face, the tattoos, and the scarred arms.

I didn't know what to say to him.

"Hey."

I looked at him. "Hi."

I could tell from the doorway that he was bad. He looked sweaty, and I could see his hands trembling from the door. "How are you?"

"I'm okay." I patted the seat next to me and he followed obediently. He sat down and refused to look at me, so I ran my fingers over the edge of his hand. It was the best I could do, considering my wrists stung like hell. "How long has it been?"

"Four hours."

He looked so lost. I felt so bad for him.

"Roger. Look at me."

He looked up and I could see that he was trying not to cry. "Why April?"

"Because everything hurt so bad. Because of a lot of reasons."

He sat next to me on the bed and pressed my head into his shoulder. I linked my fingers through his—anything to get his hands to stop shaking.

"Because I don't want to have to shoot up on a drug to be happy."

He looked back at me. "You're quitting then? Giving it up?"

I nodded. "I am. I have to. It's either that, or it kills me first, and I won't let it."

"April I'm sorry I haven't been there for you lately. It's just the band—and work—I just don't—" he trailed off and sighed in frustration.

"It's okay."

"No it's not."

"Roger, I want you to stop using. I scared the shit out of you tonight, didn't it? I saw it in your eyes."

He nodded and only hugged me harder. "You did. I really thought I lost you. I don't know what I would do if I lost you."

"You didn't answer my question. I want you to stop."

"I don't know if I can."

"I'll help you."

"It's not that easy."

We were starting to argue over it. "So I'll take your smack and your needles, and I'll hide them."

"I'll buy more."

"Then get out," I told him. "If that's what you plan to do with your life, then get the fuck out."

He pulled away from me them and slid off the bed. "April."

"What's it going to take for you to realize, Roger? Do I really have to succeed in killing myself next time?" I spat bitterly.

"I've gotta go," he blurted out.

He was gone.

_____________________________________________________________________

I out of the hospital by noon the next day—or the same day, depending on how you looked at it.

"Do you have anyone to take you home?" the charge nurse had asked.

I simply shrugged. I wasn't sure. I hadn't seen Roger for eight hours. God knows where he was now. "No. I don't think so."

"Would you like me to call someone for you?"

"No, thank you."

I was surprised when she returned to her paperwork. I thought they weren't supposed to let suicidal people roam the streets by themselves.

Okay, so I wasn't suicidal. I had been deemed emotionally unstable.

But isn't that always the same thing?

I walked away, clutching a bag loosely that held my stained jeans, t-shirt, and red lipgloss in it. I needed a shower, and badly. My whole body felt heavy—even my hair.

"APRIL!"

I whipped around and saw Maureen running past the vending machines, headed in my direction. She approached me breathlessly, clutching her side.

"What?" I asked her. "What's wrong?"

"Mark was supposed to come and get you this morning to take you back to the loft—but Roger—"

My breath caught in my throat. "What about Roger?"

"He—he locked himself in his room. We think he's going through withdrawal, he's been screaming for you and sobbing all night. We don't know what to do. Collins and Mark have been trying to get him to talk. We eventually had to break through the window and they're sitting in there with him now. I didn't want you to think we forgot about you."

"Okay."

"I have a cab waiting at the entrance."

I nodded and followed her out. We didn't say much of anything during the ride, or even when we were climbing the loft stairs. We didn't know what to say to each other.

Let's just say I heard him before I physically even set foot back into the loft.

"APRIL!"

"Roger it's okay—"

"Shut the fuck up! Where's April! I need her!"

Maureen pushed the door open and I ran in, tossing the bag to the side. "What's going on?"

Collins walked over with a blanket. "Good, you're here. He's pretty bad off, he hasn't touched heroin since yesterday morning. He's fucked up off his ass, to put it lightly. How do you feel?"

"I'm alright. I'm more worried about him."

I'm here Roger, I'm here.

I brushed past Collins and took the blanket from him. Roger's bedroom door—our bedroom door, was slightly open, and through the crack I could see Roger crouched at the foot of the bed, his knees huddled to his chest. Mark was sitting next to him and trying to calm him, but it didn't appear to be working.

"Mark?"

He looked up, and so did Roger at my voice.

"April," he croaked. He reached out for me, but then dropped his hand.

"Go get some sleep Mark," I said. Mark nodded and stood up.

"Let me know if you need anything? Or if I can get you anything?"

I pulled the crumpled prescription out of my pocket. "Just get this filled, okay?"

Mark looked at it. His eyes widened for a second, but then he nodded. "Sure." He closed the door behind him, and I turned around.

"Let's get you out of those clothes," I instructed. He nodded, and I started pulling open drawers. I found an old t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants and held them out to him. He shed his sweaty clothes quickly and pulled the others on before sitting on the edge of the bed.

"I think I'm gonna throw up."

I grabbed the trashcan and placed it on his lap. "Aim for it in there."

"This isn't funny."

"I'm not saying it's supposed to be."

God, my wrists stung like hell.

"Did you really want to die?" he asked, between heaves.

"Yes."

"Then what happened?"

"I chickened out. I was too scared."

"Of what?" He started throwing up again.

"Of death."

"Oh."

We spent the rest of the day, and most of the night like that in his room. Me holding the trash can as he threw up in it, bringing him something to drink when he was thirsty, trying to calm him down when he said he couldn't take it.

"I have to go out for a little bit," I said to him around 8:30.

He was stretched out on the bed, the blanket wrapped around him. "Why?"

"I have to do something."

He sat up at this. "April—"

"No Roger."

"Please?"

"No."

"Why fucking not? You wanted it so bad before, please just get me some? It'll only be this one time—"

"I said no, Roger. If you want it so bad, then why don't you go and get it. Nothing's stopping you except for the door, although it'll probably hit you on your ass on the way out," I retorted.

He started sulking at me. I knew that look too well. "You're a bitch, April."

"Tough, isn't it?"

"Fuck you."

I pulled myself to my feet and closed the door behind me. I didn't say a word to Mark or Maureen as I passed, although I felt there eyes burn into the back of my head.

________________________________________________________________

I was about halfway there when I realized I had forgotten my purse. Okay, so I technically didn't need it, but it did have whatever money I hadn't used for smack leftover and my lipgloss.

I hadn't put any on since—

I think I was scared to put any on.

As I jogged back to the loft, I wondered if the bathroom had even been cleaned up. I was so self absorbed in Roger that I hadn't even bothered to check. I hadn't even showered like I had planned.

I pulled the door back open and passed the couch. It was only then did I notice Mark, Maureen, and Collins huddled together.

Roger's bedroom door was wide open.

He wasn't there.

"Where's Roger?" I asked stupidly.

"He—he um," Mark stuttered.

"He went on a heroin run," Maureen finished for him.