Forty miles away, in a crumbling old tenement in one of the bad parts of town, a younger man sits, slumped down on the floor against the wall.
The belt around his bicep cuts deeply, and he can feel the twinge of numbness in his fingers when he tries to flex his hand. He's done this countless times before, but there's always that moment of hesitation, and he can't help but stare at the angry, red welts that decorate the inside of his arm. Sometimes he misses. It's not enough to stop him, however. Nothing ever is.
When the needle slides home, Edward gasps from the razor sharp pleasure-pain that floods his veins. His heart slams against his sternum, as a kaleidoscope of color and sound and so fucking good surges through every part of him. His eyes roll back as he rides the wave of sensation that he'd chase anywhere.
"Hey, baby," Bella whispers beside him, slurring. "My turn, yeah?"
"Hm," is all he can say because his tongue is thick and his eyes don't seem to want to open.
He's not sure how long he's out, maybe minutes, maybe hours, but by the time he finally comes to, it's dark outside. Dim, orange-yellow light from the streetlight by the corner filters past the flimsy curtains, casting everything in shadow.
Cotton-mouthed and instantly jittery, Edward looks around the room. There are people here he doesn't know, a dirty apartment full of nameless faces, different yet the same, all here for one reason only. Some are passed out, white-faced and sweating; others are slack-eyed and swaying. When he looks to the left, a red-haired woman with sticks for arms straddles some guy on the couch. They're fucking, right there in the open room, like no one else can see. No one cares. Edward doesn't. It's not like he hasn't done the same.
Everywhere hurts when he tries to move. There's only one thing that he can do to make it all go away.
"Bella?" he whispers, turning to the girl curled up by his side. She's out cold, her hair tangled and wild, her face wane and too thin. He tries to remember what she looked like before, way back at Forks High, but it's been too long now. He doesn't know where the years have gone.
When she doesn't answer, he reaches inside her pocket. There's a little bit left. Just enough to stave off the fidgets. Just enough to get through the next few hours and help him forget that he now has nowhere else to go.
"Where have you been?"
His father's shoulders sag. "Out where?"
"None of your fucking business."
"It is my business," his father snaps. "You still live here, remember?"
Edward laughs a harsh laugh, full of spite. "Whatever."
Raking his fingers through graying hair, his father sighs and quietly asks, "Were you with Bella?"
"You know I was."
"Charlie said he hasn't seen her in a while. He's so worried." He pauses and shakes his head. "You two aren't healthy. You feed off of each other."
A spike of anger balls Edward's fists. Because Bella is out of bounds, none of anyone's business. "Fuck you."
"What the hell is the matter with you?" His father leans against the doorframe, blocking his entry. "Edward, what's happened to you? To you both? You used to not be like this."
"Look, Dad, I'm just… tired," Edward lies.
"Just tired? Yeah, right. You think I'm stupid? You're high."
Every bone in his body screams in protest when he straightens and shouts, "Shows what you know. No, I'm not high. That's the goddamned problem! I feel like shit, okay? So just leave me alone. It hurts. My whole fucking body hurts." Edward looks over his father's shoulder. The room behind him is bright and warm. Pictures line the walls. "Where's mom?"
"She's not giving you money, Edward. This has got to stop. We can't do this. I won't let your mother watch you kill yourself."
Panic and anger, that's what he feels. "So, what? What does that even mean?"
"You…" His father hesitates, his grip turning white around the edge of the door. His face falls before hardening again. "You need to leave."
"I will," Edward whines, that panic twisting his gut into something truly spectacular. "Just let me talk to Mom first."
"No, I mean leave right now. And don't come back unless you're clean. We're not helping you kill yourself anymore."
Edward's eyes widen. "You're kicking me out?"
"I don't have any other choice." His voice falters. "I love you, son."
"Fuck you," Edward spits, salt stinging his eyes. "I won't be back."