Guess who's back?

I know I've fallen down with my attempts to write multi-chaptered RENT-fics before, and I'm sorry for that. But I thought it was time to try again. Unfortunately, I have no idea where this one is going, mostly because I typed this up in about an hour and a half whilst listening to a bit of Placebo. But I thought I'd post it anyway, and see what you guys thought of it. Beware, it's rather sad :)


Mark would be lying if he said he didn't see this one coming.

He knows something is wrong as soon as he enters the loft, the wild, animal heat of outside giving way to something cooler, but somehow more stifling. It's dark and still, but not calm. The atmosphere feels tense, pulled tighter than a drumskin, vibrating in the wake of something he cannot identify.

"Roger?" His voice is high, loud, cracking with anxiety already. He's gone out. Relax. Breathe. Everything is all right.

But, of course, nothing's all right. Nothing's been all right since the night April killed herself. This evening feels strangely similar; he recognises the tautness of a tragedy about to unfold behind a barred door, and it sends a chill through him despite the heat.

Blood in the bathtub. Roger screaming. Sirens. Remember? The memory makes him catch his breath, and he has to switch on the lights and look around the room three times to reassure himself that nothing else is happening. Everything is exactly as he left it a few hours ago, except Roger's door is ajar.

He always closes it.

Unless he's out. He's just gone out, that's all. But even as he thinks it, he knows it's not true.

"Roger?" he calls again, this time making no effort to conceal the fear in his tone. He's gone out, he's gone out, he's gone out…

He turns on the bedroom light, the single, bare bulb flickering a moment before steadying, casting dim yellow-white light through the sparsely-furnished yet still cluttered room. Mark's eyes stray first to all of the familiar details, carefully avoiding the one thing that is out of place.

A small pile of discarded clothes.

Roger's guitar, propped up against the nightstand.

A hole in the wall beside the door.

Sheets strewn about the floor.

Look, goddamn you! Look!

He looks, finally, at the bed. At Roger, lying on his side, breathing in shallow, near-silent gasps. Mark doesn't even need to see the needle cradled between his fingers, or the tiny smear of blood at the crook of one extended arm, to know what's happened.

Mark edges closer when what he should be doing is running for the phone, screaming for help.

Roger's lips are blue, his eyes rolled back to display nothing but eerie white beneath the lids.

There's a cup of water on the nightstand, a spoon, a lighter, a tiny plastic bag.

It is not instinct, but fear that drives Mark's hand to his friend's throat, desperately trying to quell the tremor in his hands for long enough to feel for a pulse. It's weak, like something on the verge of dying, but it is there.

He rolls Roger onto his back, shakes him, hard, watching sickly as Roger's head rolls back and forth in time with his shakes, but he doesn't move or speak or respond. He just lies there, so still he might as well be unconscious, he might as well be -

Mark's mouth is dry, fear tasting the same in the back of his throat this time, like copper, like bile. He doesn't want to look away now he's seen. There's no telling how long Roger's been like this. He could be dying right this second.

Dying. Just like April. Another corpse dragged out of this place.

He's out of the room, phone in hand before he's even aware of having moved at all. His name and address trip off of his tongue like songs learnt off by heart, but when he gets to the nature of his emergency his breathing hitches, because this is that other time all over again. The locations and names have all been changed, but he's lived this story before.

A blade in the wrist, a needle in the vein, they're all the same, all the same, all the same…

The voice on the other end of the phone calls his name a third time, and it's only then that he realises he's crying, hard enough to feel an ache in his chest. There's a sound from the bedroom, a choking gasp, an aborted cry, and he's spurred back into action for long enough to explain everything before he collapses again. Sobs becoming gasps, his breathing becoming quicker and hungrier, but only for a moment. It draws away, not completely, but enough to clear his head, enough to let him finish this.

"Sir? Sir? Someone's coming, please hold on." Mark hears the words, and only then does he allow himself to fall to his knees. The phone, locked in his hand like a lifeline, rings off with an atonal-melodic hum. From somewhere within himself, somewhere hidden beneath layers of paralysing terror, he remembers how to unbend his fingers, to let the phone drop.

In the midst of it all, he hears Roger make another sound, more than a gasp, not quite a cry, and somehow he manages to find his feet, to stagger back into the room.

Roger's come round a little; he's nowhere near awake, but his eyes are more open, rolling disjointedly. His fist clenches, loosens around a handful of sheet, again and again.

"Roger," Mark says, like that's all he can manage to say. Roger's frantically-rolling eyes slow, he squints as he tries and fails to focus on Mark's face. His breathing is so shallow it's hardly there at all.

He looks once again at the spent needle between Roger's thin fingers. His nails are bluish-tinted, and Mark has to fight nausea.

A word springs to his mind, and he voices it before he can stop himself.

"Why?" Roger's face contorts in sudden agony, whether at Mark's voice or something else, but Mark cannot feel pity for him. He's too scared for that, still frozen with the sensation of finding him like this.

"Why, Roger?" he husks out again, urgency aggressively dragging the words from his throat.

Roger tries to reply, or maybe to just draw another breath, but instead his eyes roll back and he falls limp, limper somehow than he already was.

His lips are blue, his lips are fucking blue, blue to match the lights reflected onto the far wall through the window, flashing and flashing.

And then there's the grating, metallic sound of the door being shoved open, and there are voices filling the small space like water rising to drown you. Mark manages to hold it together for long enough to watch the EMTs lifting Roger, moving him onto a gurney, not too gently.

Roger makes a small noise in the back of his throat, and no more.

No more.

Mark manages to hold it together for long enough to make it down the stairs, and out into the warm, still, unquiet night. He holds it together until they're both in the ambulance and the door is slammed.

Then, he allows himself to break.


And that's where I'm gonna leave you...

Don't panic, I have actually made a start on the second chapter, and I'll try to publish it as soon as I can. Feedback would be greatly appreciated as always, especially if you have any ideas as to where this story should go. (I sort of want to touch on Roger's withdrawal period, but we'll see...) Thanks for reading!