Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I don't own RENT. I wish I did, but I don't.


I've always been the emotional one. The sentimental one. The drama queen. But nothing in my past can possibly relate to how I'm acting now. My mind isn't a whirlwind of revenge and hatred, ideas and plans, spinning around and around, caught up in a terrible wind like it usually is after my fights with Mark. No. This time they don't exist. It's just one word, sitting at the bottom, swelling, filling my whole being. Joanne.

I hate fights with her, at any time. But this was the worst one I'd ever experienced since I first met her. It wasn't just soft punches thrown, joking insults, a little yelling. No. This time, less than forty minutes ago, it was cold, raw rage, emanating from both of us, knocking the other almost senseless with the intensity.

"TAKE ME FOR WHO I AM!" I'd screamed at her. "TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME!"

"FINE!"

The glares. Her eyes, dark like the night, deep and endless, suddenly like black marble. Cold chips of stone, with no emotion or love. My eyes, green like the forests, dappled and glowing, suddenly like acid. Burning. Bubbling with fury.

"I hate you," I spat.

Then she was gone.

In this sort of situation I'd usually be crying, probably accompanied by a tantrum. Kicking and screaming. Breaking things. Smashing things. Jumping on things. The tears would be pouring out, an endless waterfall, streaming down my cheeks and dripping steadily to the floor. My body would be racked with sobs, my stomach would be clenched, and I'd eventually drop to the ground and let myself go. Stay there and cry until I could cry no longer, or until I died. But I can't cry. I don't know why. I don't know what's wrong with me. I feel empty, like something inside me's been broken. Snapped. Shattered.

I grip my arms tightly around myself. I miss her so much. It's like an ache deep inside me. And the worst part? In situations like this, she'd usually be there for me. To hold me tight. Like last time.

Her arms were tight around me, a vice, holding me, making sure I didn't fall. I swayed slightly, and the grip squeezed in a fraction tighter.

"I'm sorry."

"I know."

"I'm making your jacket wet."

"I know."

"I love you."

"I know."

The sob broke in my throat and came out like a cough, as the tears spilled over the edges of my eyes and rested on her shoulder like gems.

"I won't let you go."

I rested my head on her shoulder, and we sank to the floor. I was kneeling, she was kneeling opposite me. My arms curled up around her back, and held her to me.

"Thankyou. I need you."

"I know."

I sit on the stained carpet, and try to think of something else. I just couldn't think of her. My eyes scrunch shut, my shoulders hunch up around my ears, my nose wrinkles slightly, I focus on something, anything that would distract me from the memories. I concentrate hard. Try to pick spots on the blackness on the inside of my eyelids. Spots on the blackness of my mind. Of my heart.

I feel so alone.

The sound of the phone shatters the silence. It splits into a million pieces, as the shrill ringing drills through the air. I can almost see the large pieces cracking off, falling, and landing on the carpet. Joanne?

My fingers are freezing, ten stumps of frozen flesh that tremble as I reach for the phone. It's upside down, so I can't see the Caller ID. Perhaps it's just as well. I hear the joints in my elbow crack as I slowly extend my arm. The stumps snatch at the phone like one of those games with claws that grab the plush toys. You never win on them. My own claw grabs at its prize. Misses. Grabs again. For a moment I think there is triumph, but then it slips from my fingers and bounces to the ground. It flips over, and lands face-up. Mark Cohen calling… Mark Cohen calling…

My heart dies. It actually dies. My eyes flicker shut, and I flop to the floor, banging my head on the nearby table leg. I don't care. My mind is no longer empty. It is a single, enormous black cloud, roiling and twisting, bulging in my mind, ready to break out. Mark is the last person I wanted to talk to at the moment.

The ringing stops.

The silence is broken, almost. It's not the same as before, when I was calm. Ish. Now all the fury from the fight is returning, my anger at Joanne, my anger at Mark, my anger at Angel for dying. What right did he have to die? He caused this whole mess, he caused this fight, he caused me to be sitting here in my and Joanne's old flat, in the middle of the floor, slowly falling to pieces inside.

I can feel my head throbbing, and a single tendril of stickiness working its way down my forehead. I am bleeding? I remember the last time I was bleeding.

"It hurts."

"I know."

She knelt down to my shin, where I'd fallen, clumsy oaf that I was, on the pavement. It was a mess. Raw flesh, blood, a splatter on the ground.

Her head was bowed, It looked like she was praying, almost. I laid a hand on her bushy hair, and curled a lock around my finger.

"Springs," I whispered. "Your hair is like springs."

"I know."

She pressed her lips to my wound, and suddenly the pain flared up, running through my veins. But I stayed silent. I merely gripped her hair, twisting it around my knuckles, tugging, tugging. I could see Joanne wincing, but still her lips stayed against my leg, and I realised why.

"You love me."

"I know."

That was the first time I realised just how much I meant to her. She had felt my pain as well, when she kissed me. And I could feel that she felt it.

The phone rings again. I glance at the Caller ID. If it's Mark again, I'll turn it off. I'm not in the mood. Joanne calling… Joanne calling…

My breath caught in my throat. What?

Joanne?

Oh my god.

I fumble for the phone. God damn the claw. One. Two. Three. Four.

Joanne calling… Joanne calling…

Finally I get a good hold on it. I lift the phone to my ear. I can feel the cold plastic digging into my skin. I can feel the cold fear digging into my heart.

"Hello?"

My voice sounds horrible, whispery and fragile. Not like my usual tones at all.

"Hello?"

My heart is hammering against my rib cage, battering it down, wanting to escape.

"Hello? Joanne? Are you there?"

Beep beep beep… You have been disconnected.

"NO! NO! JOANNE, NO, NO, NO! No…"

I throw the phone to the wall with all my strength, channelling all my confusion and rage into it. It smashes against the wall, the different pieces landing in a small, disorganised pile at the skirting board. I stare at it blankly. Why did she hang up?

Why?

I don't understand.

I don't understand anything anymore.