Disclaimer: I don't own Rent.

A/N: Thank you to anyone who reads and reviews!

Lonely Star

It was careful and sticky and was perfect, life drip, drip, dripping into a tube, into a vein, into blood that was tainted and spoiled and poison. You sit, silent, and I wonder what you're thinking, what's going through your mind. Behind your tired, glazed eyes, I see flashes of sadness tinted with splashed of regret. You say you are happy how things turned out, that it couldn't've been better than this, but I wonder if that refers to your whole life or post the beginning of the slope downhill.

You're nearly incoherent these days, pumped up with pain medications and respirator blocking your vocal cords. Your fingers are looser on mine then when you first came here, and you're slipping away. I know it, you know it, we all know it.

It's hard for me to express in words how I feel, or what I should feel, or the pain and the pit that's been in my stomach. I watched you say goodbye to your mother, your sisters - the people that didn't understand, really get how serious it all was. I watched you tell them goodbye, watched you explain that you didn't want them to see the very end. That you wanted them to remember you with a smile on your face. In fact, right before the respirator tube went in and down your throat, cutting off your ability to talk, you told everyone (or who's left of everyone - Maureen, Joanne, Billy and Greg- who have been playing a gig in your honor every night at Joe's Pub since your entered this place- Benny and Gordon) that you wanted them to remember you with a smile. You said your goodbyes and they were ushered out.

And it was you and I again, alone - like the days of withdrawal, like the days after Mimi's death, like the days after Collins met Angel in heaven. You need, need, need me here with you through the last days, the last moments, the last breaths because you're scared. You're scared, and I know it, and I'm the only one who's allowed to know it.

The gaze, the regret splashed green eyes I've come to know pretty much as my own, look into my own gaze, and they glaze with tears. You're ragged, you're thin, you're worn. You deserve to let go, now.

In your green, your moss, your bottled glass, I see Mimi and April and Angel and Collins, I see you shooting up, and your depression and your loss. I see, I feel, I know the pain you're feeling. I see memories of the good, the bad, the bittersweet. I see sitting on the fire escape for hours, you playing your guitar on the table, you making coffee in the kitchen, Mimi dancing around in one of your oversized teeshirts, laughing and telling me a story.

I see tears and hugs and love, because you're my best friend, and my soul mate, and no one knows me like you do, did, have.

Your grip tightens ever-so slightly and I look at our joined hands, eyes tracing up to touch the tattoo on the inside of your arm, where the archaic emblem, all twists and turns and knotty catches my attention. I can feel my own tattoo, the exact replica of the one there, burning on my other arm, reminding me of the drunk night, pre-April, pre-drugs, pre-heartbreak, where we were drunk and stupid and kids and thought we were manly enough to have "friendship tattoos".

That mark, that permanence on your skin, on my skin - will be there forever. Yours will be buried and mine will burn in remembrance, a symbol of everything gone askew and of a friendship that will last forever.

Here with you, I feel the words slip away, everything I want to say to you escaping through the silent sobs I'm trying to keep from you. I hide myself in the fact that I'll be home soon, hands on the bottle, pills clicking in my palm as I count out one, two, three, four- six, eight, ten.

Your lifeline flattens and you're gone then, eyelids fluttering shut as a final tear runs it's track across the unshaven cheek.

My ink tribute to our friendship burns, and I run a light fingertip over your own mark.

Later, when the pills have slowed me down to a permanent sleep and I re-open my eyes to join you, April, Angel, Mimi, Collins - I will cry then. I won't cry now, I will cry then. Out of joy, maybe. Or possibly sadness. Just not now.

I won't be as lonely as a star then.