Rent Continued: Part 3

Tony furiously packed his suitcase. He was standing in his and Collins' one-bedroom apartment, his cheap leather case on the bed. He threw in clothes, toiletries, pillow, anything he would need while he was gone. The trouble was he had no idea where he was going.

It had been three weeks since the night Tony had almost lost his life. Collins had been extremely supportive. After Tony was released a week later, they moved in together as promised. Things were looking up for the couple. Until everything came crashing down.

Tony had gone in for his routine doctor's appointment earlier this morning. They did the routine blood tests, the routine X-rays, and the routine physical. Tony sat in the small room on the examination table. The doctor entered. He sat down in the chair across from him.

The doctor looked pained. "I'm afraid we've got some bad news." Tony looked confused. He had expected him to say everything was normal, and that he should go home now.

"It turns out the stroke you had was the result of an infection. While its effects are long gone, it has left your T-cells extremely low." He took a deep breath and continued. "I'm afraid you don't have long."

Tony froze. This couldn't be happening. Not to him. Not to Collins. He managed to rasp, "How long?"

The doctor scanned the clipboard and looked up. "At the most, six to eight weeks."

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Collins walked in the apartment door. This had been his place for nearly two years. He and Tony had decided to move here, because it was much nicer than Tony's studio.

He entered the living room, professor's briefcase in hand. "Baby," he called, "I'm home." He looked at the coffee table. There was a note written. It read:

Tom,

I don't want to hurt you. I am sorry, but I can't stay here any longer.

Tony

Collins dropped the paper and ran to the bedroom. He threw open the doors to the small closet. All of Tony's clothes were gone.

He stepped back from the closet, and broke down in tears on the bedroom floor.

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Mimi stood on the corner of 11th and Avenue A. This was where she had planned to meet him, where she had always met him in the past.

She looked at her watch. She had called him and said that he should meet her at this time. He was already five minutes late. Mimi didn't think she could wait much longer, she needed it so bad.

She had no idea what she was doing. She had been so good for the past two months, but now all of a sudden, she just couldn't help herself. She'd been having the cravings for the past couple of days. It was time to give in, to let it happen. What will Roger think? She thought, biting her nails.

Just then, a cab pulled up from a nearby street. It stopped in front of Mimi, and a man stepped out onto the curb. He wore winter boots, glasses, a scarf, and a camera bag dangling from his shoulder.

"Mimi," said Mark, pulling her into an embrace.

"Oh, Mark, I've missed you." They kissed passionately on the sidewalk. They broke and looked into each other's eyes.

"Let's go," said Mark. They walked off towards an empty lot.

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Roger was sitting on the couch in the Loft, watching television, strumming his guitar pathetically. He was quite bored. Mark had called earlier and said he was spending the night at some girl's place. Good for him, thought Roger with a smile.

As for Mimi, she was working late tonight at the Cat Scratch. Roger thought that was odd, because it was Friday, and she usually had that night off. But she said they had been short on dancers lately, and they needed her.

He decided to call Collins and Tony and see if they wanted to do something. But as he reached for the phone, it rang. He screened:

"SPEAK!"

It was Collins, and he was sobbing. "Guys—oh, God—g-guys pick up the phone… it's Tony."

Roger yanked the phone up. "Collins? What's going on…? Oh, my God. I'm on my way." He slammed the phone down and headed out.

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Tony hurried down 11th street, his suitcase dragging along, in the direction of Maureen's performance space. Tent City. That's where he needed to be.

He entered the lot, where almost fifty tents had been erected to house homeless people who had nowhere else to go. Many didn't even have tents, just blankets and pillows. He lay down in between two small tents, laying his blanket down on the ground, and then setting his pillow on top of it. He curled up under his second blanket, and slowly fell asleep.

AN: Yep, I'm back, with all the suspense and drama you love so much! REVIEWS!