This comes from the 64 Damn Prompts on LiveJournal (by rashaka). I will, most likely, be working through all 64, because I can't bear to leave such a lovely thing unfinished. I will also include the song that helped me write it/find inspiration/that I thought fit the mood.
P.S.~ Here there be giant, mutated drabbles. Enjoy!
P.P.S~ I'm rating this M for drug use, because I'm unclear as to FP's standards for that. Better safe than sorry, in my opinion
Prompt 11: Animal
Music: I Feel You, by Schiller feat. Peter Heppner
She had the eyes of a wounded animal.
Danni paused where she was at the mouth of the alley, watching the pale figure huddled against the filthy wall of the building. Something was churning in her gut, something very like disgust, but it wasn't. There was too much regret for that, too much relief-sadness-fury-horror-howcouldyoudothisAGAIN for it to be simple disgust.
"Gail," she said quietly.
bloodshot hazel eyes jumped to her. The pupils were hugely dilated and there was no recognition in them. Already, Gail looked thinner and washed out, like a rag run through the wash one time to many. No acknowledgement, no embarrassment at being seen this way, no remorse for what she had done—there was nothing but the daze-need-want-musthave-giveme of a junkie in the grip of addiction.
With a soft sigh, Danni slung her backpack full of groceries over one shoulder and approached, crouching down next to Gail. "Hey," she said softly. "Gail. Let's go home, okay? You need to sleep this off. Can you get up?"
There was no response, only a stilted, high-pitched giggle that made the hairs on the back of Danni's neck stand up. She fought down the reaction and pulled Gail's arm over her shoulder, levering them both to their feet. Slowly, so that Gail's dazed brain could process the motion, she stepped out of the alley, guiding them down the deserted street. They were already close to her apartment, and Danni wondered if that was a subconscious urge on Gail's part, returning to the place that had been home for so long.
Not now, though. They'd both had a part in tearing that apart, but Danni knew that most of the blame rested squarely on her own shoulders.
There was no one to cast them odd looks on the stairs, not at one in the morning. Danni got them up the four flights to her apartment and managed to fish her keys out of her pack without dropping her hold on Gail. She kicked open the door and guided the brown-haired woman to the couch, letting her collapse there. Gail just giggled again, though it was softer this time, absent, and closed her eyes. With another soft sigh, Danni pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and tossed it over her, then went to put her groceries away.
It wasn't logical to feel betrayed, she told herself as she wearily shoved the vegetables she had gotten into the crisper. She and Gail weren't together anymore. She had kicked the other woman out a month ago. It wasn't reasonable to think that Gail would change her ways just because of something like that.
But Danni had wanted her to. Had wanted to mean enough to her that she would stop her downward spiral, pull herself out of the hole she had fallen into.
They had been happy together, before. When they had first met, Gail had been working a steady job in the corner store, and Danni had been playing small-time gigs in clubs and cafés around the city. They had clicked, fit together, and Danni had fallen in love more completely than she had thought possible. It hadn't quite been a whirlwind romance, but it had been close. Within six months, they were living together happily, and Danni was having thoughts of forever-together-family-home, something she hadn't had since her family had been killed in an accident when she was a teenager. And, for all appearances, Gail had been thinking the same.
But then Gail had come home high one night, and everything had gone tumbling down around them.
Danni didn't blame herself for everything, but she knew she had to take a large part of it. She had never said anything, even when common sense told her she should. She had allowed Gail to slide back into the world of her rebellious, stupid teenage years without saying a word to stop her until it was already too late.
By the time she challenged Gail about the problem, nothing she said could change the other woman's mind, and the confrontation degenerated into an argument. It wasn't their last one, either, and the quarrels got more and more heated, until they finally came to blows one night. Gail was physically stronger, physically bigger, but Danni was faster and smarter and fought dirty, and the fight had ended with Gail and her belongings out on the street, waiting for one of her friends, and Danni secure in her apartment, seething and hurt and angrier than she could ever remember being.
After all, Gail had chosen the drugs over her. Danni had been abandoned far too much over the course of her life to forgive something like that.
Gail woke slowly, her head throbbing and feeling as though it had been stuffed with cotton. She winced, sitting up. A blanket dropped off her shoulders, ad she frowned. Usually, after a night like the last, she would wake up in an alley somewhere, or on the ground in the park. Not…
She glanced around curiously, and felt her heart crystallize into ice.
Danni sat at the small dinner table, slumped forward on the scarred wood, her head pillowed on her crossed arms. There was a notebook digging in to her forearm, and a pen in the other hand was smearing ink all over the neat lines of notes on the paper. Her eyes were closed, her mouth open slightly, and that ridiculously red hair was falling all over her face. It looked like she hadn't cut it in months, even though Gail knew that she was a successful musician now, with a contract and an agent and many, many fans—knew because Tara was a sadistic bitch who loved to rub it in her face, that Danni had only succeeded after Gail had left her.
But Danni looked tired, too—even beyond the obvious. She was thinner, where there hadn't been much weight for her to lose in the first place, and there were bruise-like shadows under her eyes that caused Gail physical pain just to see. They spoke of too many sleepless nights, and too many long days.
Was she, Gail wondered, the cause for them?
She had always loved Danni, even when she only saw her form a distance, a beautiful customer in the store Gail worked at. They had finally met and talked over Danni's search for something disgustingly healthy that Gail had blocked from her mind. Health nut, she thought fondly, looking down at the woman who had come, in a few short weeks, to mean absolutely everything to her.
And then she had met Tara again, and everything went to hell.
Gail had no excuse for slipping back into drugs. She had gotten out of them when she was younger and dumber, and freed herself before she could become heavily addicted. So if she had been able to walk away from that life before, why couldn't she now? It was partly fear, she knew, fear that Danni would someday see that she really was nothing, and leave her, and then Gail would lose the one thing that had ever mattered. Perhaps, in a way, she was trying to prove to herself that Danni wouldn't leave, no matter what she did, no matter what drugs she took or what she said in the heat of anger.
But it backfired. Danni had kicked her out, or she had left, or both, and she had lost it anyway.
The haze from last night's cocktail of drugs was fading slightly, leaving her with the mother of all hangovers, and she sighed, pushing to her feet. Carefully, she crossed the distance between them and draped the blanket over Danni's shoulders, then dropped to the floor and leaned back against the redhead's chair. She knew that she should leave, go back to the dirty, overcrowded room she had taken in Tara's rundown shack, let Danni get back to her life of accomplishment and achievement, but she couldn't force herself to move. She physically couldn't leave. Danni still held her back, even now, even after all this time.
Behind her, Danni murmured something that sounded like Gail in her sleep and shifted, dropping one hand to curl in Gail's pale hair. Gail closed her eyes and smiled slightly to herself, reveling in the warmth of that gentle touch.
When Danni woke up, they would talk, she decided. Maybe, if Danni were willing, Gail would look around for rehab options, and see if she couldn't fix what had broken between them. A week ago—an hour ago—she wouldn't have had the strength, but she missed Danni, and Danni had taken her back to the apartment when she could have left her shivering in an alley.
Maybe there was hope.