By the way, in response to a review, the Cullens will be a part of this story. I just haven't got there, yet. Let me sort myself out, first. Kay?
L i f e Support
A RENT/Twilight Crossover
By Musings of a Shaken Mind
"Valentine's Day. Pan across the empty lot. Roger's down at Mimi's, where he's been for nearly six months. They're probably making wedding preparations. Either that, or starting the honeymoon early. God knows where Collins and Angel are… could be that new shantytown at the river, or it could be a suite at the plaza. Maureen and Joanne are rehearsing—that is, if they're speaking, this week. Bella's around somewhere. I'm fairly sure she hates Valentine's Day, though none of us have worked out why, so she's on her own. Me? I'm here. Nowhere."
I walk quickly along the street, on the way back to the loft. Despite the fact that it is practically spring, there's a chill in the air. I wrap by somewhat threadbare coat around me as I walk quickly down the street. The clouds gather overhead; it looks like it might rain. Or snow, perhaps. Either way, I don't want to be caught out by the weather. It's Valentine's Day. One of my least favourite days of the year. I think that it was probably designed to mock the singles of the world-- it's a cruel thing.
I'm on my way home from work. Honestly? I never thought I'd find myself here; I work with Meems now, at the Catscratch. I'm a dancer, like her. It's a living, I suppose. I don't enjoy my work, but that's a luxury that none of us expect, so it's fine. I think. It helps pay the rent, anyway.
The first snowflake falls, and it brushes my cheek as it's pulled down by gravity. I halt momentarily, staring up at the sky, and more flakes, as they fall, caress my face. It's going to be heavy. I shiver again, but this time, it's not the weather that bothers me. I feel someone's eyes staring at me, and suddenly, I'm terrified. It seems like I live in constant fear, here.
I look around warily—suddenly, I can't breathe.
There's a packet, there, illuminated by the streetlamp. It's held by a hand, which must be attached to a body hidden in the shadows.
It's a small packet, but it's enough. There's a white powder in it. I feel my heart accelerate violently, even just by looking at it.
I'm at war with myself. But I'm not strong enough, not really.
The figure steps forward now, so that I can sort of see him. His face is cast in shadow by a hood that's pulled up to hide his features. He's tall and underfed—like most here. I can tell he's male, too.
And he has what I want.
"Depends, sweet 'art."
"How much you're willin' to pay."
He grins, and I feel a sudden urge to run away. But that white powder holds me here, powerless. I remain silent.
I gape at him. Fifty? That's a bit steep… there's no way I have that kind of money to spend freely on drugs. But my tips from the nights work seem to begin to burn in my pocket, and I pull out fifty in ten-dollar bills. It's most of my night's work, but I don't care. The need is too great. I'm still under the spell of the heroin. Rent will have to wait.
He tosses the tiny packet at me as soon as the money is in his hand, and disappears into the night. The entire exchange has taken maybe thirty seconds. But it will change my life.
I stare down at the little packet in my hand. Do I really want to do this to myself? The answer is suddenly obvious.
Yes, actually. Yes, I do.
I inhale the drugs right there, in the middle of the street, and instantly, I feel victorious.
Then I begin to remember the day I went clean. Two years ago. To the day, actually—Valentine's Day.
"Miss Swan, I wanted to talk to you about your options… obviously you are not coping well with the death of—"
"I'm coping fine."
The doctor raises an eyebrow. Oh. I'm in a hospital bed. Right. I admit, it must look pretty bad from where he is… "Look, I'm dealing with this, okay?"
"I understand that, Miss Swan, but I'm afraid that this is the wrong way to be dealing with your parents' deaths."
"This is the only way I know how to deal, Doctor Whyte."
"There are other ways, Isabella. I have a friend… she's an excellent psychiatrist… perhaps I could schedule a meeting."
"You think I need to go see a shrink?"
The doctor flinches slightly at the term. "Isabella, please…"
"Right—Bella. Please, I think this could be beneficial for you. I really don't think that the way you're dealing with this is…appropriate. I understand that this is a difficult time for you, but I really think that—"
"I'm not going to see a shrink, Doctor." I stand up. "I just need to get away for a while that's all. I'm not insane, okay? I just need some time to think."
Even though I'd never gone to see the psychiatrist, that visit to the hospital had done me a world of good. It had opened my eyes sufficiently; I could see what I was doing to myself, what I'd already done to myself... and it horrified me. I haven't done drugs, since.
Well, until now.
The familiar feeling washes over me, and I smile, My body relaxes almost immediately, like it has been waiting for this for two long years of abstinence. I'm giddy with relief as I slide the remainder of the powder into the pocket of my coat, fingers staying curled protectively around the packet as I make my way down the street.
I let myself in at the door. I don't know where everyone is, but it doesn't matter. I don't really care. I slide open the old, battered door of the apartment, stumbling slightly as I cross the threshold. Everything, in my drug-induced state, is uproariously funny, and I giggle uncontrollably at my inherited clumsiness. It isn't something I've managed to overcome. I collapse on the sofa, pulling off my coat and kicking off my heels, and close my eyes.
I hear the door open and then close, but I don't bother looking up to see who it is. Probably Roger, or Mark.
Oops, wrong. It's Mimi. She's getting married in two days... I'm the bridesmaid.
"Meems… over here." I'm amazed that the words are coherent. Mimi makes her way over, and then inhales sharply.
"Bella, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
Oops. I forgot that Mimi used to do drugs herself. I suppose she knows what I've done. She can probably tell. And I don't really want to think about what this is doing to her. She's going to hate me, I'm sure of it.
"S'not what you think, Meems… I know what I'm doing…"
"Like hell you do!" She sounds pretty angry now. "Give me the packet, Bells! All of it."
No… no, I can't let her take it away. I tell her so. She doesn't take it well.
"Isabella, would you like me to get Mark? I'm sure he could deal with this. Or Roger?"
My eyes pop open. Roger would be pretty pissed if he found out I was doing drug again. It had nearly killed him when he'd found Mimi that one time I am often told about, shivering in the park after a slight overdose. When they found out that I'm an ex-junkie myself, Roger, playing the older brother role again, hammered it into my brain that I was never to touch drugs again. He takes 'overprotective' to the next level. "Don't, Mimi, please...you know what he's like…"
"Exactly, now give it here, or I swear to god, Bells, I'll—"
"Alright, alright… stop fussing… Here."
It physically hurts me to hand the little packet over. It's only going to hurt more when I come down from this high. I watch as Mimi empties the packet into the sink.
"What happened, Bella?" When she turns, her eyes seem a little red, like she's crying. Oops. I didn't mean to upset her. I hate it when Mimi cries. "I thought you went clean?"
I shrug, not really caring, because of the drug. "I did. S'pretty hard, though, you know? And then, the man came…"
"Man?" Mimi's suddenly alert. "Who? Who gave you this?"
"Dunno… just a man. A dealer, I guess."
"Isabella Swan, I want you to promise me… please, don't do that again. You scared me, when I came in. You were so pale… I thought you'd collapsed! I thought you'd--" She stops suddenly, breathing in quickly, trying to regain her composure.
"Yeah, yeah…" I wave a hand dismissively at her. "Whatever. I promise."
"No, Bella… you have to mean it. I know it's hard—I know better than anyone—but this is for your own good."
My own good? I think about that. I have very little to live for. Next to nothing, in fact. In my hazy state, my mind drifts back to the Cullens. The pain has mostly gone now, there's just bitterness left behind. It strikes me, suddenly, how much Mimi reminds me of Esme, right at this second.
That thought proves too much for me in my fragile state. Quiet, broken sobs echo through the apartment, and I realise with a start that that's me. I pull my knees up to my chest, and wrap my arms around my legs, trying to stop the shaking.
"Oh, Bella…" Mimi's there, now. She sits quickly down, and joins me in my desperate sobbing.
For a long time, we sit there together, and we cry.