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Drain Away: Chapter II

Lori’s eyes were as dull and flat as two nickels in a gutter. Her lips were pressed into a thin, tight line, an expression that Lucian was now extremely familiar with. She’d been slouching around the apartment for three whole days, wearing that look on her face while she avoided him, and if Lucian had given up entirely on trying to converse with her, she’d have worn it silently, as well.

Silently, at least, except for when business needed to be discussed.

Without moving or answering, or even averting her gaze away from the cracks in the wall, Lori fumbled her hands along the bare mattress until she found the belt she’d left there earlier. Lucian tsked as she snatched it up, looped it around her bicep, clamped the belt between her jaws, and yanked tight. The buckle jangled quietly. She stared at him expectantly through the messy, greasy hair that had fallen into her eyes, over the leather between her teeth. Her roots were starting to show. Mousy brown strands choked through the bleached ends like garden weeds. He stared at her forearm, where the trackmark had finally begun to scab over.

“Not even a ‘please’?” he said. He could think of nothing else to say, and it was stupid, but nonetheless, those deadfish, dirty nickel eyes rolled up to meet his.

“Please,” she said. Flatly.

He sighed.

Dumped the powder onto the spoon.

Drew the water into the syringe.

Squirted it over the powder.

“I’m not going to stop you,” he said, as he cooked, “but I feel like I should tell you to stop, anyways. You know where this leads, Lori. Nowhere good. Nowhere you want to be. You remember, don’t you?”

No answer. She was still gazing intently at those cracks in the wall, tugging impatiently upon her makeshift tourniquet with her head. The belt was wrapped so tightly that there were indents gouged into the scant, skinnypale flesh of her upper arm.

Lucian swirled the cotton around the spoon with the syinge’s plunger, flipped it, and drew the foul, ambrosial brownish liquid into the chamber.

“I love you,” he told her, as he flicked the syringe, frowning as the bubble slowly, slowly passed up the chamber and settled somewhere safe inside the confines of the plastic. “But if this is what you want, this is what you want.”

Those eyes skittered a bit as he said ‘I love you’. She was finally looking at him now, and he was not going to waste the opportunity.

Oh, but carefully, now. So carefully.

He lowered the needle to her flesh, angled it with clinical, junkie precision into the crook of her elbow. She hissed in her breath. “It’s good if it stings,” he reminded her, softly. One gentle tug, and the chamber of the syringe blossomed red with her blood.

“I know where all your veins are, Lori,” he told her. Firmly. With deft precision, he angled the syringe down, right into that path of flesh he really did know so well. Carefully, skillfully, he pushed the plunger until the now-crimson substance flowed from the needle-tip into the rivercurrent of her veins. Once he finished, he knelt before her, grasping both of her arms in his hands. For the first time in three days, she did not melt away from his touch. A small opening, and another lover in his situation would perhaps not push his luck, but Lucian barrelled through.

Every. Single. Vein,” he repeated, huskily. Each word was enunciated with a gentle squeeze of her arms. His sharp, cerulean blue eyes pierced into hers, relentless and determined. She’d released the bite on the tourniquet, and a smear of drool shimmered on her chin. He wiped it away with his sleeve, and cupped her face in his hands.

“That’s how well I know you, Lori. I’ve had five years to learn. No one else knows you better than I do. I know you from the fucking inside.”

The dope was slogging through her now, and her eyelids fluttered closed. Her head swayed as she began to nod, and when her lips parted open, Lucian seized her mouth with his.

Dazedly, she kissed him back. He responded hungrily, and just like that, once again, she was back in his arms where she belonged. Immediately, his hands slid to the small of her back. He burrowed his face against the crook of her neck and breathed.

“I know everything about you. You don’t think that’s even a little romantic?”

She said nothing, but a soft, pleasurable moan floated past her lips.

“Baby,” she murmured. “I don’t…” her words trailed off to nothingness as she sank into a cloud of oblivion. All was forgiven.

Lucian slid his hand upwards from its seat at the small of her back, and splayed his fingers against the back of her head. Gently, he cradled her head upwards, towards his, and his heart sank into his guts.

“Lori,” he said.

Her face was gray.

She wasn’t breathing.

“No,” Lucian whispered, panicked, as he laid her on the ground. “No, baby. No, no, no.”

With the flats of his hands, he pressed into her chest, again, and again, and again. He could feel a crack each time he did, a sensation that filled him with revulsion, but he persevered anyways, putting his mouth against her mouth and exhaling breath into her lungs. An evil, woody-scented draft of air teased his nostrils, and panicked, he leaned back down and gave her more air. When that didn’t work, he started to pump her chest again, harder and harder. He raised her head, and again, forced air through her parted lips.

The lights flickered.

And finally, she breathed.

It was a harsh, ragged, tortured breath, but it was a breath, one she made herself. Lucian continued to pump her chest.

“come on, baby,” he murmured, noticing now that she had wet herself. He paid it no mind. He lowered his head to give her more air… and her eyes slid open.

“Lori?” he tried.

Another breath, closer to a death rattle. Gurgling, and obscene. She stared with her half-lidded, cloudy eyes, and saw nothing.

“He’s. Coming.”

Each word was an exercise in torture, gasping, rasping, profane.

“He’ll. Be, Here. He’ll. Save–”

Her mouth simultaneously sank and widened, like a hole in a piece of rotten fruit. She let out a shuddering, fretful gasp, which escalated into a thin shriek. The lights flickered again. Her hands scrabbled for purchase against the bare mattress as she flailed, the makeshift tourniquet still flapping around her arm.

Lucian could not think of what to do, so he grabbed her shoulders as firmly as he could, hoping it was enough to get that shaking to stop. Gradually, her tremors lessened under his grasp.

She breathed one breath.

And then, another.

Her eyes slid open, and she stared at him dazedly.

“What happened?” she murmured.

“You went out,” he snapped, harsher than he meant to, but the helpless terror of seeing her gray had already transcended to anger. “You went out, again.”

“How?” The word came out a terrified whimper, and he had no patience for it.

“Get in the shower,” he barked, and when he saw the tears welling up in her eyes, the anger subsided into shame. He bowed his head, and gritted his teeth, brushing her hair back from her face. Her skin was clammy. “You wet yourself, Lori. You need to get in the shower.”

It was too late. She was already crying, braying heavy sobs as she staggered to her feet, stripping from the waist down as she tottered towards the bedroom door. She was wobbling about unsteadily, and Lucian shot to his feet to offer her support.

“Careful,” he murmured, sliding an arm around her bare waist. “Easy.”

“Don’t touch me,” she snapped. Her tears had cut through her eyeliner, and darkened her cheeks. She glared hatefully at him, her lips trembling, her eyes slightly wild with the remnants of confusion. “Don’t you fucking touch me, you bastard.”

“I saved your life!” he shouted, flabbergasted.

“Fuck you.”

Stunned, he let his arm fall away from her, and watched her stagger naked across the living room and into the bathroom. She didn’t shut the door, or even turn on the light. He heard the shower start. He heard her explosive sobs. He heard her mantra of loathing begin.

I hate your fucking guts, Lucian,” she screamed. “I hate myself. I hate you. I hate you.”

As her words pierced through his eardrums and echoed meaninglessly against the back of his skull, Lucian made his way across the dark, clutter-strewn living room to where the linen closet was, and switched on the light. He removed a towel from one of the shelves–the best one they had, the fluffy brown one with the lone bleach stain at the bottom. As Lori ranted and sobbed and shrieked in the shower, his aimless gaze finally fixated on the bottle of Narcan on the third shelf, the bottle that had sat in the closet for almost eight months now, the bottle that he, for some reason, kept forgetting was there. It had sat unopened and unused, through this overdose, and the last one, and the one before that. The overdoses where he’d heard death rattle after death rattle gurgle past her lips, and seen the life drain from her flesh over and over again. Each time, he’d delivered CPR, and inexplicably, each time, it had been enough. He wondered when it wouldn’t be enough. He wondered when he’d have to open the bottle. When the paramedics would have to come. When the filth of their addiction would see the light of day.

“I want out,” Lori sobbed, weakly, defeated. Her voice was nearly swallowed by the sound of the falling water in the bathroom, but they’d done this so many times before. He knew what she was saying without having to actually hear. “I want the fuck out. I want out, now. I’m done with this. I’m done with you.”

Lucian’s hand slid to his hip pocket, and fished inside for the pack of cigarettes he had stuffed there earlier. There were five left, with his lighter stashed right next to them. He took one out of the pack, stuck it between his lips, torched the tip, and dragged deeply. His shoulders drooped as he slunk his way to the bathroom, and slipped the towel off of his arm and onto the rack for her whenever she was going to finish.

“I’m sorry, baby,” he muttered.

“Get out!” she shrieked, immediately. “Get out of here!”

Her screams haunted him all the way to the bedroom, where his works were right on the carpet where he’d left them.

Lucian tuned out the screaming and heated up his shot. 

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