A/N: Plotbunnies are amazing. I hope this came out good . . . Egh. Disclaimer: If I owned RENT, I would so not be sitting in front of my computer writing fanfics right now. Warning: Mentions of drug usage.


Smoke unfurls from the cigarette in my mouth, rising slowly into the air. The chilly wind gets rid of the wisps of smoke quite quickly, and I shiver a little, drawing my beat-up leather jacket more tightly around myself. I've been sitting out here for the past half-hour, at least, and the breeze hasn't eased one bit. Fuck.

I could go inside, I muse. I glance at the door of the pawn shop; the sign reads OPEN in big red letters. Then, my gaze turns to my dented guitar case, resting on the sidewalk by my feet. I'm leaning against the side of the building, sitting with my legs pulled to my chest. I look stupid. I don't care.

Absently, I take the cigarette out of my mouth and flick it, watching the ash fall onto the sidewalk. With my other hand, I reach over and unclasp my guitar case, opening it. My guitar rests inside, in all of its worn, dented glory.

I run my fingers over the faded, dented wood and the silvery strings. My hands ache to pull it out and hold it, to play, to write a song, the song . . .

I suddenly remember my first guitar. It was big – well, no bigger than an average guitar, of course, but I was ten years old and scrawny as hell, with knobby knees and hands too big for my arms. My mother bought it for me at a pawn shop much like this one. At the time, having a guitar was a novelty; I remember showing off for Mark, pretending like I could really play. I promised him that when I died, he'd get my guitar; he told me I could have his brand-new Polaroid. I guess he won't get my guitar now.

My first guitar lesson was a group one in the basement of the First Methodist Church in Scarsdale, three streets over from my house. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon, and my mother was desperate to get me out of the house. We didn't even go to that church – actually, we didn't go to any church (my mother and I were not very religious individuals, and my father certainly wasn't) – but I still liked it there. Sometimes, we'd hear them having choir practice upstairs. I still remember some of the hymns they sang – my favorite was the one about the chariot, or something like that. Oh, well.

I was the only one there under the age of fifteen, but I loved it more than any of the others combined. They struggled to master chords, got frustrated, and gave up – I had great calluses from playing within weeks. The teacher (some church guy – I think his name was Mr. Waters) was convinced I was a natural. Well, I was, I guess.

I had that guitar until I was fifteen, when my father sold it. He needed money for his beer and his cheap pills – I hated him for it. Still do. He left for the last time a while after that. He'd been living with me and my mom on-and-off for at least three years. I haven't heard from him since I was about sixteen. Fuck him, it isn't like I care.

He was talented, though, my father – my mother told me once that he could play the piano (something I could have probably learned, too, but I wouldn't have dared), and I knew he could sing. Sometimes he did, when I was really young – usually slow, sad songs. Only when he was drunk, though (which was often).

I did my first "show" when I was seventeen (I'd bought a new guitar, with the money I'd been saving for a car). Some guys who were in a band found out that I could play and sing, and asked me if I wanted to join their band. I remember what they said about me, too – that I was damn good, plus I had a nice face. The lead singer's usually the best looking, I've found. We performed at clubs, usually ones out of town. Sometimes at parties, too.

I fell in love with performing. I could see girls looking at me, smiling, winking. Guys were jealous of me. I thrived on it – so much that I let the other guys in the band mold me a little bit. That's when I started wearing nail polish and the like; I figured, why the hell not? It was part rebellion, part sheer idiocy, but it became part of my look. That's also when I really fell into the world of alcohol and drugs.

Before that, I'd been skimming the surface – I drank at parties, and occasionally smoked pot, but other than that, I was pretty clean. But the guys gave me things – things that made me feel amazing. My grades fell (going from straight B's to D's), but I didn't care. My whole world was night – parties and cheap booze and cigarettes and drugs.

My last year of high-school was hell; my mother forced me to quit the band. I suppose she had good reason – I was never home, and when I was, I was being a real hellion. Even Mark was worried about me. I barely scraped by that year, passing with C's. Graduation came and went, and that summer I left. I left behind a note for my mother (Going to New York City – I'll call. Roger) and hitched a ride to New York City, taking nothing with me but my guitar, guitar case, thirty bucks, and a plastic bag with a few clothes and a pack of cigarettes in it.

I lived on the street for about a week before I realized what a mistake I'd made. I remember sitting on street curbs and playing my guitar, the case open in front of me. Sometimes people walking by would throw in money, and sometimes they wouldn't. I was the epitome of clichéd; a not-quite-nineteen-year-old boy, fresh from the suburbs, friendless and alone in the city that never sleeps. It's such a good thing that Collins happened by me while I was playing for money and asked if I needed a place to sleep for the night – God only knows where I'd have ended up if he hadn't. It was only then that I fell in love with New York City; I thought it was a world of opportunity, a world so great that I even convinced Mark to join me up here.

I formed my own band after a while – The Well Hungarians. (I was twenty – that was hilarious back then). We were pretty well-known in the city, I guess, and once more, I thrived off of it. The world I'd left in high-school – that of sex and drugs – suddenly seemed so appetizing again. For about two years, I did nothing but party and play my guitar every night – I lived off of coffee, beer, and pot. Then, I met a pretty girl with red hair and hazel eyes, a girl who brought me further into that world. I didn't even realize that I loved her until it was much too late for both of us.

I like to change what happened after that into music. April – that beautiful girl with red hair and those damned hazel eyes – killed herself. That's one chord in itself, a nameless chord that's so short and yet so magnificently tragic. After that, withdrawal – a discordant cacophony of sour notes and broken strings. Then, silence. Aching, empty silence. I hate silence.

There was no music after she was gone. I thought there'd never be any music ever again.

There was music, though, and the music's name was Mimi. At least, I thought it was. But the music danced away, and now I can't hear it anymore. I have to find that music, I have to write it, please, I love – . . .

No.

I close my eyes, absently trying to take a drag off my cigarette. It's gone out while I've been reminiscing. I toss it in the general direction of a nearby trashcan and look back down at my guitar.

How much would someone pay for this? To me, it's priceless.

To someone else, it isn't worth much. But it's worth enough – enough to buy me a car. To buy me an escape.

I look at the OPEN sign again. If my timing's right (my inner clock is always off by about an hour), they close in a few minutes. That's enough time.

I close the guitar case and stand up, lifting it with me, and go inside to trade away my guitar and buy myself an escape.


A/N: Didja like it? That's my little character-exploration-piece for the day . . . enjoy.