Title: Circular World

Author: Girl Who Writes

Feedback: If you feel moved, it would be lovely.

Pairing: implied Roger/Mimi

Word Count: 1392

Rating: M

Genre: 'film' noir

Summary: Whatever their bohemian world looks like in the sunlight, it looks nothing like in the moonlight.

Notes: The prompt was hard because a lot of the elements cannot be transferred to writing well. I did my best, and I hope it's appropriate I'm pretty proud of this. Written for speed rent at livejournal.

Special Thanks: To my cat, who didn't sit on my keyboard once.

Spoilers: This is either very much AU or post-Rent.

Warnings: Swearing and not appropriate for anyone under 13, I think.

Disclaimer: Jonathon Larson and the movie studios own Rent. I just play with them.

Temptation Tempta"tion, n. OF. temptation, tentation, F.
tentation, L. tentatio.
Tthe desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid

He walks the streets of Alphabet City at night, looking for her. Whatever their bohemian world looks like in the sunlight, it looks nothing like in the moonlight. It seems less like a promise and more like a threat, the dark pavement dancing with darker shadows. He tosses his cigarette to the ground, grinding it into the pavement, and takes a look around. Posters declaring protests against the majority are hanging, half torn, from the walls around him. Cigarettes and discarded syringes lie innocently in the gutter; shiny, green and brown glass from beer bottles blink at him, catching the street light. The shards of broken glass taunt him, and he walks on.

Roger is looking for Mimi. That's why he's out; Mark's asleep back at the loft, spread eagle on his bed, his glasses hanging off his nose and his camera within arm's reach. There's a note stuck underneath his AZT bottle, letting Roger know there's leftovers in the fridge for him and Mimi when they get home. There's a few dollars in change there, too, and Roger pockets that grimly, not knowing what the hell three bucks is going to do or where the hell it's meant to get him if he needs money than urgently. But these days, any money is wealth and he keeps his hand in his pocket, twisting one of the coins over in his hands.

The Cat Scratch Club is bright in the dark night, the gaudy neon lights from the sign glowing like a beacon at the other end of Avenue A. There are a few small groups of people dotted around the front of the club, shooting up, smoking, and in the strange life, their eyes all seem to be black; like one giant pupil. And Roger remembers from one long ago health class that the pupil of the eye is just a hole, and that freaks him out just enough to drag his gaze from theirs.

The club is flashing lights and pounding music and gyrating bodies. Roger blinks and takes it all in for a moment, looking for Mimi. The girls dancing are painted red and gold in the light, and he turns away from stage and moves towards the stage door.

There's one girl in the dressing room, snorting cocaine and swathed in pink and black, and turns her head when he walks in; he recognises her from previous visits.

"Mimi left already." The girl is tiny, her skin almost transparent, revealing a tangle of veins in her arms and legs. She picks up a lipstick and he is dismissed, even thought staring at her and her clear flesh is some sort of perverse pleasure.

Clouds have blotted out the moon and stars when he finds his way back onto the street. He checks the alley in front of the club, where Mimi finds her fix, but it is empty of everything except a mangy old cat who hisses at him, a dead mouse in front of it.

Roger always hated mice.

Mimi hates the bright, artificial lights of the city; she covers her head with a pillow when she tries to sleep; always restlessly, always jerking awake. It sometimes makes him wonder where she came from, but it doesn't really seem to be something he could ask her – it doesn't matter where you came from, it's where you're going that matters. If rehab taught him anything, it's that.

He trips on the gutter and stumbles, falling to his knees and cutting his hand on a piece of broken glass.

"Fuck." He tosses it away, watches blood form on the cut and wipes the palm of his hand on his jeans, and keeps moving. He ignores women offering their services, kids shooting up, men stumbling around drunk, and keeps looking. He's at the edge of Alphabet City now, and it's darker than ever.

He stops at a payphone and slides one of the coins – the one that's warm and sweaty from being held in his hand most of the night – and punches in Mimi's number. It rings out, and he wonders if she's sitting on her bed, flicking at the veins in her thin arm, and blocking everything out, or if the phone is ringing in an empty apartment.

He thinks about calling the loft and waking Mark, but the coins are a reassuring weight in his pocket and Mimi is his problem.

Roger finds Mimi. Of course he does; night is like a never ending game of hide and seek in some sort of bohemian underworld, a thought that makes him snort with laughter because it sounds so dramatic and cliché, when it's just a dirty neighbourhood with a bunch of glorified squatters.

He finds her outside their building, down the alleyway, her hair long and tangled, and layers upon layers of clothing encasing her tiny frame. Her face is pale and her eyes smudged with dark bruises of exhaustion and disease. But she is intoxicating.

The Man leans against a wall, with a smirk on his face, as he counts money (her hard earned cash, along with a dozen other bright young girls with those eyes) and she expertly flicks her vein.

He moves towards her, fuelled with a few years regret and one death already on his mind, and the fist comes flying out of no where. The Man, whose money is expertly tucked into his fancy city-bought boots, and whose goal in life is to fuel the suicide of a hundred so-called bohemians city-wide.

Roger isn't expecting to be hit. The ground hurts as he falls backwards, his head bouncing off of concrete, and as he feels to see if his nose is broken, he can dimly hear Mimi's squawk of protest.

There is the beginning of the rain on his face, and her hands. She looks sick, and he sees the needle held loosely in one of her hands as she helps him sit up, even though she's shaking so badly, she can barely hold herself up.

He's sick of spending nights in dark, wet alleys, but feels mildly contented with the weight of her head on his shoulder. Maybe he's got a concussion, because when he looks around, time has to have passed, because they're both soaked to the skin and Mimi's wrapped something around her arm, trying valiantly to find a vein, even though her hands are shaking just too hard.

They shouldn't be sitting in an alley in the middle of a storm.

He picks her up, and on unsteady feet, somehow gets them into the building. She's shaking too hard, and clutching the syringe like god's gift to the fucking universe. Roger's not going upstairs to Mark, to dump another drug addict in the loft.

It takes hours and much yelling and screaming before he makes Mimi sleep, her AZT untouched, but he doesn't expect to win all the battles. Her wet clothes are in a pile in the bathroom; he had stripped them off her himself – she couldn't manage it.

He knows the drill; Mark taught him well. Hide whatever money is left in her purse, check for any more baggies of white power, make sure she has some water and aspirin and AZT for when she wakes up – even though he'll be there – and clean up. He's pleased there's only one smashed mug and her wet clothes to clean up tonight. It has been a lot worse before.

Morning filters in the windows, but the clouds hang low in the sky, grey and black, rain pouring down the windows. Roger sighs and picks up Mimi's clothes and recoils, starting at the sight of her needle, still full of amber coloured liquid, piercing the flesh of his hand.

It's easy to pull it out and stare at it, and think how much easier this shit would be if this was running through his veins. How much better, brighter this life would be. How dying young would be more like a gift and an adventure than a nightmare.

He tips it down the sink and throws the needle into the garbage and sits at Mimi's table with watery coffee and the previous day's copy of the Village Voice, and waits for her to wake up.