A/N: So I watched a movie while I was delirious, and it gave me an idea that I don't think anyone has ever touched on in the history of this site. I don't think. So, here it goes.
Isabella Clifford pushed open the smoke-filled bar, frowning when she spotted the black hair all the way in the back against the wall. If he hadn't called her with such a tearful drip in his tone, she would've told him to fuck off. But he seemed upset, and being the sap she was, she agreed to meet him before he went back on the road.
He was smoking when she got to the table. Smoking. The Straight-edge Superstar was smoking in a seedy bar on the wrong side of town, his matted black hair sticking out from underneath his navy blue beanie.
She stopped, her hand poised on the greasy wooden chair in front of him. "You're smoking."
He looked up, his eyes rimmed red, but not like he was crying. His skin was almost a sallow color, like he hadn't been eating well. He tapped his ash on the floor and looked away.
She found herself lowering into the seat. "Punk, what's wrong?"
He licked his chapped and pale lips, pulling on the cigarette so hard, she actually heard the paper burning away. He inhaled and glanced at her, but look in the other direction again, blowing out a long stream.
"You're certainly good at that, seeing as how you've only been a smoker for the past few months."
He smiled humorlessly, rubbing his thumb against the slick tabletop. "It's been that long?"
"About three, four months." She shrugged. "Not that I've been counting or anything."
"How have you been? Getting any work?"
"I did a commercial the other day. For shower gel."
She could tell he was trying to hide his smile, putting his mouth into the crook of his elbow, against the wool of his jacket.
Isabella grimaced. "Are you feeling okay?"
Phil looked up, blinking slowly. His eyes weren't white – they were yellowish. Like he was a zombie, or something. "Bell, I really – "
"Wanna drink, sweetheart?"
Isabella looked over at the bartender who'd been wiping down the tables a couple of feet from them. She turned back to Phil. "You want something?"
"Scotch on the rocks," he called.
Isabella blinked at him, but slowly craned her neck, looking at the bartender over her shoulder. "Can I just have a bottle of water?"
"Only got tap."
Bella grimaced. "I'm... I'm good, then. Thanks."
He shrugged and lumbered back behind the bar.
Isabella faced Phil, frowning. "Since when do you drink?"
He lifted a shoulder, holding up his black-chipped fingers. "Since I started smoking."
"And why'd you start smoking?"
He swallowed hard, looking at her with the strongest gaze she'd seen from him since the night they first met. "I... Bell, I need to tell you something."
She pushed a tendril back from her face, pouting. "What's wrong?"
"I..." He frowned and looked away, closing his eyes when the bartender thumped an icy glass in front of him. "Thanks."
The guy turned to Bella. "You sure you don't – "
She held up a hand. "Thanks."
He winked and walked off.
Bella curled her fingers against her palm, contemplating if should she slid them through his. It just wasn't right. They weren't together... anymore. She put her hand against the sticky table, tapping her nails.
"Bell, I'm... I'm going to tell you something, and I need you to listen to me."
She nodded. "Okay."
"No. I mean it. I need you to listen to me."
"Okay, Punk, don't worry."
He sighed and tossed his cigarette butt into the untouched drink, listening to it fizzle at the top. His fingernails were yellow underneath the black. "Bell, I'm not at a good place in my life right now."
"You said you'd listen."
She held up her hands. "I'm sorry. Continue."
He groaned, rubbing his palm down his face tiredly. "Things started... changing after we got divorced."
She stayed silent.
"I... I started feeling sick. Really sick. So I went to the doctor's, and..."
Oh, god. Bella covered her mouth.
Phil looked up, his eyes widening. "Wait, no! Please. Stop."
"What? I'm not doing anything!"
"You're judging me. Please, god, don't judge me."
"No, I'm not! I'm just preparing myself."
He shook his head. "Nothing's gonna prepare you for this, Bell."
Bell. He'd always called her that – he liked it. Reminded him of a princess, he'd said. Now all it reminded her of was what they'd went through trying to keep their relationship afloat. Unfortunately, it was not a story-book ending.
But the way he blinked at her then, almost in tears, she couldn't help but reach over and wind her fingers around his palm, shaking it a little.
"Punk, tell me straight." She could feel her own tears brimming her lids, but she pushed them back, sucking her lips in to moisten them. "Do you…" She swallowed the lump at the back of her throat. "Do you have cancer?"
He shook his head. "No."
The constricting hand that had tightened around her heart slowly loosened, and she felt herself begin to breathe again. He didn't have cancer.
"I have AIDS."
A/N: I figured it was worth a shot. I'm sick of the typical love stories on here, so might as well make fucked up ones. Review.