So, new story. I have this planned out pretty far and I'm excited about writing it. I hope you enjoy it, but I do have quite a few warnings for it.

TW: Drug Abuse, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, suicidal thoughts/actions, adult language, implied mentions of sex, sexual content, etc...

I'll update warnings per chapter if need be. Enjoy!

The last light of the evening drained from the faded green walls around the small apartment. Shadows deepened, spreading across the floor and eventually falling over the still form on the faded denim couch. From the bathroom, the sound of a leaky sink dripping liquid was the only sound in the room. The vents above situated on the ceiling forced cold air into the room, forcing the temperature down even farther than the invading cold outside. The small figure on the couch shivered, but remained sleeping, a few curls appearing over the edge of the thin, blue blanket draped over her shoulders.

The almost peaceful scene was interrupted as the door was flung inwards, and a small, thin man rushed in, quickly shutting the door. He walked over, pausing with a quizzical look on his face as he regarded the young, black female sleeping on his couch. The blonde man dropped the black bag he entered with onto their small coffee table. Gently placing a hand on her shoulder, he shook her until her brown eyes opened.

Casey," he whispered quietly, removing his hand. "I thought you were going in to work today. What are you still doing here? Do you want to get yourself fired?"

She sat up, blanket falling away from her thin form and yawned. "Yeah, I'm going in today." she answered. "I'm not dancing 'til later, though. Where you been the last few days, Andre? I haven't seen you around. I started to think you were dead up some alleyway or something."

His lips stretched into a smile across his pale face. "Nah, I ain't dead just yet." He collapsed onto the sofa beside her. "I was staying with Lucas."

Casey sighed, looking her emaciated friend up and down. "Of course. Still not taking my advice to keep the fuck away from him, I guess?"

"He's my boyfriend. I love him."

"He's bad for you." She stood up and stretched, already fully dressed except for shoes.

Andre watched her with his curious grey eyes. "I don't think so. He's the only one who understands me."

"Meaning," she said with a scalding tone, "he's the one you get your drugs from. God, that stuff is going to kill you someday and I don't want to be around to see it. You come dragging yourself in here, a step closer to death every time. Look at you!" She motioned to him, up and down his body. "You aren't eating. You only live for that shit! Remember when we first moved here, how happy we were?"

"How stupid?" he countered, laughing humorlessly. "I remember losing our first apartment 'cause we were both too stubborn to realize we weren't going to get what we wanted from this city. I remember you finally going to dance, and getting us this hellhole. And I remember how I had to start selling my body to pay for food. Damn it! I hate that word. Happy? No, just foolish." He stood up and grabbed the black bag off the coffee table. "Now, we know what the real world is." He started to walk toward the door, feet pounding angrily against the tile flooring.

"Andre! Stop!" she said, frantic and a little too loud. "Don't march out like this. I might never see you again." He turned back to her, blonde hair falling in front of his eyes. Even so, she could see them glistening with tears. Quickly, Casey stepped forward and embraced him. "I don't want you to die. You're my best friend. I know it's hard right now, but if you get help and get clean, things can get better. I know it. Trust me."

Almost violently, he pulled away. "No. I won't do it. I have nothing left to live for but Lucas and the drugs. It's my only release, don't you understand? I can't deal with this all on my own. I need them."

"You're not on your own. You have me. Your best friend since forever. Don't forget that."

"I'm not! But it's not enough." He looked away, quickly wiping his eyes before the tears could fall onto his sunken in cheeks. "Look, if you can't handle it, I'll move in with Luke permanently. But I ain't quitting for you. I ain't quitting for nobody. Lucas will understand that."

Casey shook her head. Her voice shook with desperation. "No. Anything but that. You need to stay here. Stay safely away from him, at least part of the time. I'm sorry, but no. I won't let you leave."

"Do you really want me to stay?" The words sounded cynical, but his eyes betrayed the true emotion of doubt. They were deep, grey pools of emotion from which whatever he was thinking came through. He could change his voice, but those eyes revealed all.

"Yeah, yeah I do."

Andre stared at her for a minute. "Fine, I'll stay for a little longer. Eventually, I will move in with him, though. He doesn't like us living separately. I don't either, really…"

Casey sighed, obviously not fully satisfied, before glancing up at the small clock hanging on the dingy wall. The hands ticked slowly around the white face, revealing the time to be almost eight o' clock. "I gotta go. I'm going be late."


Andre watched as she threw on a jacket and stuffed her feet into a pair of worn combat boots. She took one of his pale hands into her own darker one, looking up into his eyes. "Look, Andre. I love you. You're like my brother, or weird cousin, I don't know. But we gotta talk about this when I get back. Promise me you'll be here. And sober."

"Yeah, I'll hold off for tonight. I owe you that much."

"Thank you."

She started for the door, walking around him. He spun around, watching her. "Oh, and Casey. Be careful. Avoid the freaks. New York isn't safe at night."

"I can handle myself, Andre. I'm not a little girl anymore." She didn't even bother to turn around as the door closed behind her, effectively cutting off their communication.

Andre looked down at his hands that were beginning to twitch. Carefully, he set the bag on the coffee table again and sat on the couch. It was Casey's bed, but she probably wouldn't mind if he used it for a few hours. His head fell to the small pillows, and his eyes slipped closed. He was unconscious within minutes.

Smoke rose in the large room from the dozens of lit cigarettes held loosely in hands or clenched between lips. The music bounced from wall to wall, reverberating around, covering almost all sounds and making any decent communication fruitless. The front half of the building was dominated by a stage, almost set up like a catwalk, that branched off into three rounded areas with three poles each that stretched up to connect with the ceiling. On each pole, a girl danced, skimpy leather stretching over her skin as she swung from the pole. Men near the front had their dicks in their hands, unashamedly jacking off to the scene.

Farther back, two men sat together at a table, one with his eyes glued to the girls, the other looking anywhere but the stage. The two's demeanors were so different, as were their physical traits, that one would never assume they were together in the seedy joint. However, as the shorter man glanced at the other, his eyes showed a strange kind of bewilderment. He leaned over, catching his friend's attention.

"Will! What's going on?" he yelled, loud enough only to be heard by the man. "You not enjoying yourself?"

"Not really!" William answered, smiling politely. "This isn't my general definition of fun, no. Um, but don't worry. You have fun. I'll be fine…"

Jason, the friend, leaned away for a moment, back straight against his chair again. His small eyes that slanted up on the outside edge regarded his friend for a moment. Quickly running a hand through his already mussed black hair, he leaned back over again. "Why don't you run out and have a cig or something? I'll be out in a couple a minutes anyway."

William smiled at him gratefully before standing and basically running from the building. Jason leaned back in his chair again and turned his attention back to the stage. Another girl was walking out and taking her place on the center pole. Her dark skin contrasted against bright lights in the background. With two hands, she gripped the pole and leaned back, hair cascading down her back like a waterfall of brown tresses.

She swung around, positioning herself on the other side, before wrapping one leg around the metal. She pulled herself up and hung upside down before swinging up farther and gripping the pole again. Her back arched, while the remaining limb wound around the post. Jason watched, entranced by the spectacle. Every eye in the club found itself moving toward her lean body as she moved against the pole erotically. Whistles echoed off the walls, while the dancer continued unfazed.

Jason stared, shameless of his interest. His lips curled up in a smirk as he settled in more comfortably. His friend obviously forgotten for the moment, Jason gained the attention of a passing waitress. She walked over, jean skirt tight around her thighs and breast bouncing under her short white cropped tank. Jason smirked at her, then nodded to the stage. "Tell me babe, you know her?"

The waitress, named Heidi if her name tag was anything to go by, looked over before sighing. "That's Casey. Our most popular dancer. You never seen her before?"

"It's my first time here." the Asian man responded. "Sorry for my ignorance."

"Whatever. You wanna order something, or you just wasting my time?"

"Yeah. Can I order her? For a private show?"

"She doesn't do private shows. Only pole dances."

"Tell her boss I'll pay anything."

The waitress pursed her lips then muttered, "Wait here," before walking off.

Jason turned back to the stage where the girls were changing positions again. Another girl took her place at the center pole. He watched her back as Casey walked back down the stretch and disappeared behind the black curtain.

A few moments later, the waitress walked back over, dangling a key in front of his face. Attached to the ring was a plastic rectangle with a black three painted on it. Jason took it and followed her directions through the door in the right wall and down a hallway lined with doors. He found one with the three painted on it and walked inside.

The room was plain white, almost sterile in appearance. In the middle was a simple chair. A pole rose up in the corner, and there was a variety of toys piled beside it, including handcuffs. He took it all in before walking over and sitting down in the chair, just glad that it was a clean joint unlike some of the places he'd been.

Andre hurried down the street, one hand stuffed in his pocket and the other clenching tightly to the handle of the bag. Glancing to his right, across the busy street, the club that Casey danced at met his eyes. He ducked into the alley beside him and waited. He didn't notice when a tall man walked out of the club across the street and lit a cigarette. He didn't realize the man's green eyes had seen him through the relatively small crowd rushing about.

William watched the young man as he stood in the shadows. His foot stepped forward hesitantly, but he stopped himself before he could walk over. The small man leaned against the bricks behind him and took his hand out of his pocket to swipe the hair out of his eyes.

Another man, walking along the same side of the street as Andre soon stepped into the alley as discreetly as possible. Andre looked up and immediately threw his arms around him happily. "Lucas…" he whispered, glancing up at his boyfriend. "I was worried you weren't gonna show."

"Of course I was gonna show. You've got my next two weeks' worth of coke, you idiot." He pushed him away and ripped the bag out of his hand. "You didn't use any, did you?" He unzipped the bag a tad and looked inside.

"Course not. I ain't that desperate. 'Sides, I know you'll give me my share. Right?"

"I don't know. I need pretty much all this money. Sales have been slipping slightly, and you've been using more and more." He closed the bag and glared at the smaller man. "So, you're just gonna have to wait."

"No…" Andre shook his head. "I've been waiting for a week already. I need something. Please. I'll do whatever. Just…even the little stuff. Please…"

"I said no. Come by my place tomorrow."

Without saying anything else, he turned to leave. Panicking, Andre grabbed his arm and pulled him back. Lucas turned and slapped him, then grabbed the front of his jacket walking him back against the wall. The smaller male's head knocked back against the wall. Lucas gave him no time to recover before smashing his fist against his face. Andre sunk to the ground, covering his face with thin arms. Lucas effortlessly ripped him to his feet.

William, seeing this quickly ran across the street, avoiding the traffic as best as possible and ran into the alley. He hesitated before clearing his throat, gaining Lucas's attention. "Hey! You can't do that to him!" William shouted, trying to look as menacing as possible.

Lucas let go of his previous victim and glared at the intruder. "I can't?"

"No. What is he? Your brother? I… It doesn't matter." He looked down at Andre, eyes lingering on him for a second too long as he wiped the blood from under his nose. Breath hitching in his throat, he finally looked back to the tallest of the three.

"Brother? No, he's my little bitch of a boyfriend." He wrapped his arm around the tiny man, roughly pulling him against him. "Isn't that right, Andre? You're mine, right?"

"Yeah…" he muttered, grey eyes looking up at his supposed savior. He looked up at Lucas for a moment, who was glaring forward at the interloper. William continued to stare at him, green eyes worried. Silently, eyes locked on the man before him, Andre slipped his hand into the pocket of his boyfriend's jacket and pulled out a small bag. William's eyes widened, staring at the powder before it disappeared into Andre's own pocket.

Lucas frowned, looking down at Andre confused. "What are you staring at him for?" He glanced up at him again, then smirked maliciously. "You interested…?"

"What!?" William exclaimed, eyes going back to the imposing man.

"You want him, don't you?" Lucas suddenly let go of him and instead grabbed him by the chin. "I'll sell him to you for a night. He's pretty good, if I say so myself. I'll give you a deal if you keep closed about all this."

William stepped back, face morphing into a mask of disgust. "No, I would never… You're insane. That's disgusting, I'm not even gay."

Lucas let go of him, pushing him backwards. "Then, I guess I'll just have to shut you up the old fashioned way."

"No! I don't know anything. I'll keep my mouth shut. I promise." William backed down. He stepped out of the alley, and turned to walk back across the street.

Lucas turned and grabbed Andre again, pulling him off his feet. "You learn to behave, slut. You were instigating, I know it. Don't try anything. You're mine." Dropping him, he grabbed his bag of drugs and took off the way he came, blending into the small crowd before Andre even had time to compose himself.

Then, the emaciated man started walking back down his initial path. He pushed through the crowd, trying to get home as quickly as possible. He turned down an almost empty side street before he realized he was being followed. Turning, he fixed the familiar man with the most menacing glare he could muster.

William, unfazed by the much smaller man's threats, kept walking toward him. "Andre, right?" he inquired. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to… That is… You… Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Now fuck off." Andre shut him down, turning again.

"I saw the drugs." William said quietly, just as he caught up. He came around in front of him to block his planned escape route. "I don't think you're really alright."

"I don't think it's your place to make those judgments." Andre threatened, slipping his hands into the pockets of his tattered grey jacket, clenching the packet of cocaine tightly in his hand.

"How'd you know the drugs were there in the first place?"

"That's where he always keeps his stash. I'm not an idiot. He's my boyfriend. I know things about him." Suddenly, a smirk appeared on his features, and the younger stepped forward. "I know where he keeps his drugs. And his socks. But I also know things like, how he gets turned on when I nibble on his ear. And he likes it rough, too. He likes to take control. How do you like it, huh?"

William stepped back uncomfortably, gulping. "I… I don't. What are you getting at? I'm not gay! I already said that!" He pulled away completely, looking away and blushing ever so slightly.

"Yet, here we are. You're following me around like some sex starved hound." He laughed, stepping around the taller man. "Whatever, man. Just stay out of my business, alright?"

"W-wait!" William turned around, watching him walk off. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get in your business! I'm only trying to help."

"Well don't!" Andre yelled, not bothering to turn back around. He kept walking, stuffing his hands in his pockets again. A chill went up his spine. He could feel those green eyes still locked on him.

William hesitated for another second before running to catch up with the surprisingly fast figure. He walked beside him, ignoring the harsh look directed at him. Andre allowed him to walk with him, as they entered an even worse section of the borough. Eventually, his apartment building came into view and he walked to the door. William continued to follow him, even entering the building behind him.

"Go away…" Andre hissed.

William stopped, staring down at the smaller man. "I… Sorry." He looked away, obviously realizing he'd overstepped any normal boundaries. "I'll leave now." He stepped back outside into the cold, and started back toward the club.

Andre stepped out, watching him go. "Hey! You! Wait!" he called. He winced at his own stupidity before the other could turn around. He motioned for him to come back. He slowly obliged, watching the other curiously. "You wanna come in and have a cup of coffee or something?"

William smiled, nodding. "That sounds great. He stepped back into the slightly less cool building and followed Andre up the staircase.

On the third floor, Andre opened the door and shepherded Will through. He stepped around him and unlocked the door to the apartment, leaving the door open for Will to enter also. William politely shut the door behind him, looking around the small room. Andre disappeared into the equally small kitchen and started filling the kettle up with water from the sink. Will followed him in and sat down at the kitchen table. He looked down at the old wood, running his fingers over it and leaving trails in the dust.

Lighting the stove under the tea kettle, Andre walked over and sat across from him and crossed his arms. "So why did you decide to follow me? You think you're some kind of Good Samaritan or something?"

"N-no…" William muttered, looking up as a few strands of his thick black hair fell out of the ponytail holder that had previously held it back. "I just… You really shouldn't use those drugs."

"You followed me just to say that?" Andre asked, incredulously. He raised one eyebrow, grey eyes amused. "Well, if I had a dollar for every time someone told me to stop using, I'd have enough to buy a lifetime supply."

"How long is a lifetime for someone like you…?"

They both fell silent for a moment, Andre staring at him in surprise. William looked absolutely mortified that he'd actually asked that. Eventually, they made eye contact and William turned bright red, looking away. Andre felt his lips turn up in a small smirk as the screech of the kettle sounded from behind him. He stood and turned off the stove, then poured the hot water into mugs, stirring them. Then, he sat the mug in front of his guest and sat back down.

William glanced at the chipped, faded yellow mug before slowly picking it up and taking a sip of the hot, bitter liquid. His green eyes rose to meet with Andre's again. "I… I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry."

"Oh, don't worry about it." Andre crooned. "People have said worse to me, I promise."

"But… I basically said that you're going to die."

"I am going to die. That's a pretty obvious fact. I mean, look at me. I'm a fucking wreck. But you know what? That's okay. I did this to myself, so I can't blame anyone. And I don't. But in a way, it's better. I don't have much to live for. So, I might as well go out with style, right? And on my own terms?"

William regarded him with a worried expression for a moment. "Are you saying that you're on the drugs…in order to die?"

"That would be the point, yes."

William stared at him for a moment, then set his mug on the table in front of him. "I just realized that I left my friend back at that club. I should…go back for him."

"Of course you should." Andre took a drink of coffee then smiled at him. "You can see yourself out."

"Will I ever see you again?"

"Maybe. Probably not, though."

William stood up then walked out of the room. Andre watched him with a small smirk on his face, then leaned back with his feet on the table, planning to wait for Casey to get home.