Title: Malaise

Author: Girl Who Writes

Rating: M

Fic Variations Prompt/Claim: Work / Mimi Marquez

Spoilers: Movie

Warnings: Drug references. Language.

Words: 890

Count: 3/5

Summary: "In layman's terms, the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are similar to a very bad case of the flu. I'll be blunt, Miss Marquez. It's going to be one of the most unpleasant experiences of your life."

Author's Notes: This may seem totally odd in relation to the prompt, but I was working with the idea of 'working' for or towards something. And you can't write RENT fic without one drug!fic. All medical quotes are from Wikipedia.

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The withdrawal syndrome from heroin can begin within 6 to 8 hours of discontinuation of sustained use of the drug; however this time frame can fluctuate with degree of dependency and tolerance.

She's awake again, and before she can gain her equilibrium, she gags and vomits over the side of the bed. Mimi can't remember what she's eaten as she tries to move to wipe her mouth. Toast, toast and weak tea, Mark telling her it would make her feel better.

It didn't. Her throat feels raw from vomiting, and everything hurts. She can hear people in the next room.

"Mimi?" Roger appears in the doorway, a glass of water in one hand and a grim look on his face, despite his tone.

"It hurts, Roger." Her voice sounds pathetic, even to her ears, and the little voice in the back of her mind keeps repeating a mantra, 'I thought it would be worse than this. I thought it would be worse that this'.

"I know Meems." The water is on the upturned crate next to the bed that they use as a bedside table. He smoothes back her hair and promises he'll be back; he needs a sponge and a bucket of water.

She was sick, she remembers, and somewhere deep inside she's mortified that her boyfriend is mopping up her vomit. She wants Angel, cuddling up to her best friend who'll make the pain go away, who'll help her sleep and hold her hair back when she's sick - her best friend who saw her through the worst of the addiction.

"You're stronger than this, Mimi-chica." Every misgiving, every syringe, every empty threat was met by that response, advice that she brushed off for years and years, and now when she needs that reassuring advice, that unwavering confidence in her character, Angel's left her behind.

Major heroin withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose of heroin and subdue after about one week.

Roger and Mark took her down to the clinic the week before to talk to a doctor about what to expect. Huddled in her winter coat, Roger and Mark accompanying her, half body guards and half wardens to make sure she didn't get away this time.

The doctor looked tired when Mark and Roger explained why they were there, and Mimi felt dirty. How many girls did he see with her problems every week? They must all blur together, same faces, histories, problems, weaknesses.

"In layman's terms, the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are similar to a very bad case of the flu," the doctor had told her, handing her sheets of information. "I'll be blunt, Miss… Marquez. It's going to be one of the most unpleasant experiences of your life. You're going to be sick and miserable and you're going to do everything to get a hit just to stop the pain…"

"It'll be worth it," Roger squeezed her hand.

The doctor had offered a small smile, and sternly told Mark to keep a careful watch on both of them. "Once an addict, always an addict, I'm afraid. Good luck, my dear."

Users seeking to take the "cold turkey" (without any preparation or accompaniments) approach are generally more likely to experience the negative effects of withdrawal in a more pronounced manner.

It's been almost three days, so it has to start getting easier, Mimi promises herself. Maureen came by, solemn and worried with glossy fashion magazines for when she feels up to it. Collins sits with her some nights, with cold water and a damp wash cloth and reassuring words that lull her to more restless sleep. Benny drops by with flowers and concern, especially when he sees her grey, clammy face. Joanne is there with reassuring facts and calming lies – "Three days and you're almost there, Meems; you look better today."

It's the tag-team of Roger and Mark who pull her through. Roger carrying her to the bathroom, so she can take a bath, who takes her nightgowns and blankets to the Laundromat every day, who combs and braids her hair carefully. It's Mark who stands in the doorway so that Roger can't run when she begs him to get her a hit, just a little one, to take the edge off. He remembers how bad it was, doesn't he?

She hates herself for dragging Roger back through his worse nightmares, but is secretly a bit grateful. If he can stand by her during this, he'll stay beside her during all her other shit, even a hospital bed.

Mimi's been lying in this bed for the best part of a week, piecing together her week through a sickly yellow haze of pain and misery and she feels like she hasn't stopped running the whole time. She manages to guide herself from Roger's bedroom on unsteady legs for more water, maybe to stop the aches in her limbs.

"Mimi?" Roger stumbles out of Mark's room, looking tired and worried. She offers a tired, thin smile and he wraps her in his arms, kissing her hair. "You're going to do it."

Mimi hugs him back and wishes Angel was there, so Mimi could've given her just one moment of pride; one moment where Mimi felt maybe she was worthy of being Angel's best friend. Of being friends with any of these people.

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