Chapter One: Crazy Crash Diets and Weight Obsessed Rock Stars
A/N: Ok guys, this is my first original story, so please be kind! It started out as a Rent fic, but then I realized it had absolutely nothing to do with the actual plot of Rent and thought it would work a lot better this way. What do you think? Should I continue? Scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on the review button, and let me know!
I stare at Rob, sound asleep in his bed and watch the rhythmic rising and falling of his chest. He looks so beautiful when he's asleep, so calm and so peaceful, and just seeing him so relaxed is relaxing me too. Or at least it would be if I wasn't so freaked out about all the other things I've been feeling.
Those feelings are the reason that I find myself, night after night, in Rob's room staring at his chest, his eyes, his lips...
Those feelings are what's driving me to inflict such torture on my own body, and those feelings are what started this whole mess a little less than a month ago.
To this day I honestly can't tell you how it started. I don't know why I suddenly found the way Rob ate cereal so adorable, or how the littlest things - like how he held his pencil when he's writing so passionately that he doesn't notice anyone's watching - suddenly became so appealing to me. I can't tell you how I crossed that thin line between "love" and "in love."
But I did. I crossed the line and though I don't understand how or why it happened, I'm in love with Rob.
It didn't make sense, it still doesn't. Rob had been my best friend for 11 years, We've been through everything together. He was my best friend all throughout middle school, stuck by me in high school when I pushed him and everyone else away, in favor of alcohol and drugs, and was there for me when I got kicked out of college for my uninhibited use of heroin. He helped get me back on my feet, paid for my rehab treatment, took me to the doctor where I was diagnosed as HIV , and has been there for me ever since.
At the time Rob had been a fairly well known actor, and with all his jobs we had had enough money saved to get out of the dilapidated apartment we had been living in ever since high school graduation. But he gave all of that up to pay for my medical treatment and rehab. Since then he's lost the prestige he had gotten years ago as an actor. Now we're lucky if he gets the occasional commercial. He gave everything up for me and my addiction. He's never asked for anything in return, and I never gave him anything. Not even a "thank you."
Everything about my life is such a wreck right now. I'm not sure of anything anymore...my sexuality, my relationship with Rob, my feelings for him, what to do about those feelings... Everything I've always been so sure of my entire life I'm suddenly questioning, and it has me feeling confused beyond belief, and out of control. And I guess that's why I do it. Or why I started. Now I just do it because I can't stop, and in all honestly, I'm not sure I want to.
It started out simple enough. I was depressed, confused, freaked out, I didn't know how to get my life back in order. I didn't know how to get things back under my control. It wasn't exactly a diet. I wasn't trying to lose weight, I just needed to feel that comfort, that security and control that comes only after days and days of fasting. Yeah, I lost weight in the process but it was a small price to pay. It's the only thing that makes sense anymore, and that's why I do it.
Rob noticed. How could he not? Neither of us have steady jobs so we're home, together, in our apartment most of the time. He doesn't know though. He thinks it's a diet, that I'm just trying to lose a little weight and nothing more.
I don't know what it is, but it's not a diet, and I'm not trying to lose weight. All I know is that the hunger headaches, the cramps, how my food-deprived mind can focus on one thing only is taking my mind off Rob and the intimate feelings I have for him.
Suddenly Rob stirs in his sleep, tearing me from my thoughts. I glance at the clock beside his bed. 8:00. He'd wake up soon. I can only imagine what he'd think of me if he knew the thoughts I've been having, if he knew how many nights I spent in his room staring at him, watching him sleep and wishing I was asleep by his side, tucked safely in his warm arms...
He mutters something incoherent and I come out of my daze. As much as I want to stay I know I have to heave now, before he catches me in his room, over his bed, daydreaming about the two of us together.
I take one last look at his warm body and then walk hastily back to my own room where I plop down on my bed and wait until I hear the familiar sound of the coffee maker, filtering in my room from the kitchen.
Sure enough, a few minutes later I hear his door creak open and then the sound of his footsteps resonating through the otherwise silent apartment. My stomach growls loudly and I put a hand to it protectively, mentally telling it to shut up. The emptiness feels good, and I know that the pain that is sure to follow will take my mind off Rob. That's what the hunger does for me - it blocks out everything but the deprivation and pain that have lately become as necessary as air. Two days without food and counting.
My stomach growls again and I sigh and get out of bed, deciding that if I don't do something about this soon, people will start to notice the sounds from my needy stomach. Wouldn't be a good thing.
As I approach the kitchen I see Rob bent over in a kitchen chair, reading the New York Times and sipping a tea. I try to hold back the smile but I can't help it, he looks so fucking adorable when he just wakes up. His glasses are slightly crooked and his strawberry blonde hair is scruffy and sticking out in every direction. Most people think he looks like a dork – and he does. He's never had too many girlfriends, and he's the kind of guy that gets laughed at for even asking a girl out. They're so wrong. He's the most adorable, loving man on the face of this earth, and any girl – or guy for that matter – would be lucky to even have him as a friend. I know I certainly don't deserve him.
He looks up when he hears me approaching and flashes me that adorable lop-sided grin. "'Morning. What are you doing up so early?"
I shrug and try not to stare at his bare chest. Why, oh why did he have to sleep shirtless? "I couldn't sleep."
"Oh. Well, now that you're up, I was just about to make breakfast. Do you want anything?"
"Uh, no thanks," I reply weakly and smile nervously, as I head over to the cabinet and take out a glass. Water should shut my stomach up for a while.
When I turn back around Rob is staring at me with a concerned expression on his face. He runs his eyes over my body before meeting my gaze again with those intense blue eyes of his.
"Don't you think you've lost enough weight, Jon? You've been looking kind of on the thin side lately."
I look at him curiously and then glance down at my own body, trying to see the cause for the concern in his eyes. But I don't see anything. I mean, I know I've lost weight but nothing too drastic and definitely not enough to cause the worry and fear I can see so plainly written across his face.
I glance down at myself once more before replying, "I didn't lose too much weight...I'm not too thin."
"Yes, yes you are Jon. And you don't eat enough..."
I give him an icy look as I turn to the sink and fill up my glass. Excuses are flashing through my mind like bolts of lightning but the only thing my mind can focus on is the aroma of the food all around me...the coffee steaming in a mug right next to me on the counter, the scent of the fresh bag of bagels sitting on the kitchen table...all of it is making my head spin, and I have a hard time trying to form an excuse in my food-deprived mind.
Finally, after I gulp down two large glasses of water I mutter, "I eat enough." I'm about to say more but suddenly my stomach growls defiantly, canceling out the words I just spoke. I turn around quickly, hoping he didn't hear, and silently curse my body for betraying me.
He looks at me skeptically for a few seconds while I down another glass of water, and after a long silence he says, "Jon, you're starving. You know those noises your stomach is making? It's trying to tell you something." He smiles a little and pushes me down onto a chair. "Come on, let me make you some breakfast, okay?"
He flashes me that irresistible grin and I can feel myself breaking down. How can I possible say no to that face? But do I really want to give up that wonderful, empty, in-control feeling? Nothing else compares to the feeling of emptiness that can only be achieved after going days without eating. It's such a high and there's no better feeling in the world. There aren't even words to describe it.
It scares me a little though, because I know it's not right. Hunger isn't supposed to bring comfort and happiness. Most people can't even skip one meal, let alone go days without food like I've been doing. Like I said, it started out small. At first I only needed it to get my mind off Rob, but now I just do it because it feels so fucking amazing. It scares me because, in that sense, it reminds me of heroin. But, I mean, this is different, right? Fasting is not at all the same as narcotics. What I'm doing isn't dangerous, and I can't get addicted...right?
Right. So, ignoring that annoying voice in the back of my mind, I look up at Rob and plaster a smile on my face. "I have rehearsal in a half hour. I'll grab a quick shower and take a bagel with me, okay?"
I can see the sparkle return to his eyes as he smiles again and says, "Great," and starts preparing for his own breakfast.
A half hour later I'm in the kitchen again with a bagel in my left hand and my guitar in my right. Rob is watching me intently so as I walk out the front door I take a big bite of the bagel, then watch out of the corner of my eye as Rob's worried expression turns to one of satisfaction, and he turns his attention back to the script he was studying on the table. And as soon as I'm on the street I spit the chewed up bagel in a napkin and throw the rest in the first garbage can I see.
I'm so relieved to see that Jon's finally starting to eat again. He had me pretty worried for a while. I don't know why all of a sudden he's so concerned about his weight, but this crazy crash diet he's been on has had me worried sick. I didn't think it was possible for a person to lose so much weight in a period of four weeks but he proved me wrong. He was never overweight to begin with and now he's...well, he's pretty damn skinny. And definitely underweight.
Well, I'm just glad that it's over now. And hopefully he'll gain back all the weight he lost because I'm sure none of this is good for his HIV.
Speaking of HIV, I don't think Mr. "Stop reminding me to take my meds!" took his AZT this morning.
I sigh as I stand up and search the counter for the familiar prescription bottle. As soon as I find it I dress quickly and walk to Jon's rehearsal spot. He can't afford to skip a dose, not with something as important as AZT.
I finally reach Adam's apartment, where his band, the New Youths, usually rehearse, and am a little surprised to hear silence from behind the closed door. Usually you can hear the band throughout the entire building, and when they're not playing they're either partying or arguing loudly.
After I knock a few times and receive no answer, I begin to suspect that the band isn't meeting here at all. After a few more tries I sigh and shift my weight, trying to decide where to go from here. I can't go traipsing all over the city looking for him, and by the time I found where the band was meeting he'd probably be home by then anyway. So I sigh again and after waiting a few more seconds I decide to just go home and wait for him to come back there.
After I throw away the bagel Rob forced me to take I walk around the busy streets of Manhattan, trying to kill some time before heading back home.
I don't know what possessed me to tell Rob I had rehearsal this morning. It was just the first thing that popped into my head to get me out of eating. I'll have to be more careful around Rob from now on, I think he's starting to catch on.
At that moment I pass a hotdog vender and the delectable scent of fresh hotdogs sends my stomach into a frenzy. I think I actually have to wipe the drool from my mouth.
Well, I have been feeling sort of sick lately… If I only had one bite, that would be enough to tie me over for the next day or so, and I would still be able to hang onto that amazing feeling that only hunger can bring.
So with that thought in mind I purchase a hotdog and then slowly make my way back to my apartment. True to my word, I eat only one bite. And I make it last. I find that the longer I take to eat tiny amounts of food, the less I can feel it in my stomach afterwards. I've grown to loathe the feeling of satisfaction. I can't stand it when I can feel the food in my stomach, it makes me feel so awful and then all I can focus on is finding a way to get the food out of me so I can feel empty again.
Don't ask me why. I don't know why pain and deprivation is suddenly so comforting to me, but it is. The logic doesn't make sense, so I don't think about it. It will only confuse me more. I just focus on the part that feels so good, the part that make me feel like I'm on top of the world. Because I know that nothing that feels so amazing and right could possible be a bad thing.
Heroin felt amazing and right…
Damn voices in my head. Remind me to get an off switch for my conscience.
What if you can't stop?
I roll my eyes and quicken my pace a little, as if, if I walked faster I could outrun the voices. I can stop any time I want, I just don't want to.
A few people turn to look at me and I feel a blush rising in my cheeks. Oh great, now I'm responding to the nonexistent voice in my head.
As I make my way down the streets of New York, back to my apartment, I drop little pieces of hotdog on the ground, much to the delight of the pigeons and homeless people now fighting for a taste of my leftovers. I save a little bit though, and right before I walk in the front door I pop it in my mouth and make a big production of chewing right in front of Rob.
"Hey Jon. Stopped off for lunch?"
I nod, unable to speak due to the large amount of food in my mouth. I hurry into my room where I drop my guitar and spit the finely chewed hotdog into a tissue, just in time before Rob enters my room again, holding up my AZT.
I smile sheepishly. "Oops." I grab the bottle from him and take the pill dry, not wanting to fill my stomach any more than it is already.
I grimace at the taste of the pill in my mouth and regret not taking it with water. When I'm finally able to feel my tongue again I turn to face Rob and say, "Yeah?"
"Where were you this morning?"
"I told you, I had rehearsal."
He looks at me questioningly and it is then that I realize what must have happened. AZT, rehearsal, Rob…shit. He opens his mouth to say something but I quickly cut him off before he has the chance.
"But Adam was sick so we had it at Mike's this time."
"Oh, okay. Yeah, I was wondering because I went to Adam's and no one was there." He looks at me then, his cool blue eyes running the length of my body and then meeting my gaze, his stare so intent that I feel like his eyes are piercing through me. All of a sudden I feel like a bug under a microscope and I shift uncomfortably as I wrap my arms around myself protectively. I have a feeling I know what he's thinking…
I finally gather the courage to meet his eyes again and feign innocence as I ask, "What?"
He sighs. "Nothing…It's just… You don't really think you're fat, do you?"
I shake my head quickly.
"Good. You're really not, Jon. And you really need to gain some weight, this isn't healthy."
I look at him in confusion. "What isn't healthy?"
"Your weight! Your eating! You're just way too thin and you don't eat enough. It's not attractive."
This last comment stabs at my heart and, trying to conceal the anxiety in my voice, I ask, "Wait, you don't think I'm attractive?"
He laughs, a little too loudly, and I can detect the slightest shade of pink in his cheeks when he responds. "I…I never said that. I just think you looked better the way you were before."
I'm about to ask what he means by that but he's out the door before my mind can even form the words.
I go over to my closet and look in the full-length mirror, trying to see what Rob's talking about. In all honesty, I don't think my appearance has changed at all since I stopped eating. Maybe I lost a little weight but not that much, and from what I can tell it's barely noticeable.
I lift up my shirt and run my hands over my chest and stomach. I guess my stomach does look a little shrunken but, I mean, that's to be expected. And I'm sure that most of that's only because in the past two days all I've eaten is a miniscule piece of hotdog.
Finally satisfied now that Rob is just making a big deal over nothing, I pull my shirt down again and walk across my room, anxious to play my guitar. But as I do Rob's words ring in my ears and I stop and gaze in the mirror again.
Does he really not find me attractive? I mean, I've never been one to have a huge ego or anything but I've always considered myself a fairly good-looking guy. I pout slightly at the knowledge that Rob doesn't find me attractive anymore. I want him to think I'm hot.
I reach into my closet and pull out two bulky sweaters, throwing them both over my tee shirt, despite the relative warmth of the spring day. Well, in two sweaters I am definitely hot. But…if this it what it takes to hide my weight loss and to look good again in Rob's eyes than I'm willing to do it.
Sweating, I pull the shirts off and fling them onto the floor. I don't have to wear them just yet. After all, someone doesn't just gain fifteen pounds overnight.
Suddenly I'm very curious as to just how much I do weigh. I know I can't possibly be as skinny as Rob says. At 6'2 I know that 180 is the low end of my weight range. And I weighed 193 only last month. So there's no way I could have lost over thirteen pounds in less than a month…right? Only one way to find out.
Quietly I open my door and sneak into the bathroom. I don't want Rob to know what I'm doing. He already thinks I'm obsessing over my weight and it he caught me doing this it definitely would not help things.
After I remove my shoes I step quietly onto the scale, watching as the dial balances just below 175. Holy fuck. I gape at the dial, refusing to believe that the number written so plainly in front of my face is actually my weight. There is no way I could have lost 18 pounds in less than a month! The scale must be wrong, it's impossible to lose that much weight in such a short period of time without even trying. I step off and then on again, just to make sure that the number is right, and sure enough, the dial stops right where it did the last time. Yes, the scale is definitely broken.
A little shaken up, I walk back to my room where I remove my shirt and jeans and stand once again in front of the mirror. I run my hand down the side of my chest and can feel the slightest indents between my ribs, and then my flesh sinks in shallowly right under my ribcage, where my stomach is. I stare at my arms, where the muscles used to be, but now in their place is some fine hair that I've never noticed before.
I guess my appearance did change a little, but I still don't see myself as that underweight. Although my legs do look skinnier than I can ever remember…
Great, now I really am obsessing over my weight. I sigh, frustrated, and slip my shirt and jeans back on. I'm just being ridiculous. There's no reason to worry, right? Rob's always been over-dramatic, always worrying over the littlest things. I would be able to tell if I was really as underweight as he said I was…wouldn't I?
I walk out of my room and knock on Rob's door, determined to settle this once and for all. Rob would tell me the truth, he's never lied to me before.
I come out of my daze to find Rob standing right in front of me. I hadn't even realized he'd opened the door. He seems to sense my tension and I can see the concern wash over his face as he asks, "Is something wrong?" and motions for me to come in.
I toy with the words for a few seconds, realizing that what I'm about to say will only make him more suspicious. Finally I decide that there's no right or easy way to say this so I just blurt it out.
"Am I really that skinny, Rob?"
He pauses for a second before responding. "Well, you're not extremely, dangerously thin if that's what you mean, but yeah, you've lost a lot of weight.
I sigh. That did not answer my question. "Like how much weight?" I ask even though, technically, I already know the answer.
He shrugs helplessly. "I don't know, Jon…15, 20 pounds? I have no idea. Why are you asking?"
Avoiding his question, I reply, "Well do I look abnormally thin, or," I hesitate, "like I have a problem?"
He looks at me inquisitively and doesn't say anything for a while. He keeps glancing down at my body and then up at me again, looking me right in the eye, as if, if he looked closely enough he could see into my soul. Finally he responds carefully, "Do you think you have a problem?"
I laugh nervously and avert my gaze to the floor. "No, of course not."
He sighs. "Jon, why are you asking me all these questions about your weight?"
"I just… I don't know, you said I was too skinny and I don't think I am, and if I'm really that ugly and thin I want to know. And I don't see it for myself so just tell the truth, okay?"
To my surprise he actually laughs a little and sits down on his bed. "First of all Jon, I never said you were ugly. All I said was that I thought you looked better before you lost weight. And second, I don't think you're extremely underweight. Maybe a little, but it's not like you're repulsively skinny or in medical danger or anything like that. I think you could stand to gain a few pounds, yeah, but that's just my opinion. I was just concerned because you lost weight so fast and because I hardly ever see you eat anymore. I just don't want to see you hurt yourself, that's all. I didn't know it meant that much to you though, I'm sorry I brought it up. It's honestly not that big of a deal, don't worry about it. I've had to deal with being underweight my whole life."
He gives me a small smile and I grin widely, inwardly laughing at myself for being so ridiculous. Of course I don't have a problem. I just don't eat that much, it's not that big of a deal. Everyone has their own way of avoiding problems, of dealing with the world. Not eating is mine.
Ha! The goddamn voices are wrong! You hear that conscience? Rob said so himself: I don't have a problem. I'm not too thin and I can stop anytime I want to.
Denial, denial, denial…
I watch Jon's retreating figure as he practically skips back to his own room, all the while wondering what the hell that was all about. I don't know if what I said was true. Jon is really skinny, and more than just a few pounds underweight.
But is it a problem? I don't know. I doubt it. Jon's never been the kind of guy who spends hours at the gym trying to build up his muscles, or spends the entire day at the beach trying to perfect his tan. He's never been obsessive about his looks before, so why should this time be any different? I can hardly imagine Jon as the anorexic type, starving himself to emaciation just for the sake of vanity. And just the fact that he was worried about becoming too skinny shows that he isn't weight-obsessed.
And he did eat breakfast and lunch today, which is probably more than he's eaten all week. Yeah, I think he's going to be okay. He just needed someone to set him straight, someone to point out the unhealthy thing's he's doing to his body. I'm so relieved that this was just a stage and that the worst seems to be over. Now hopefully life can go back to normal, without crazy crash diets, and weight-obsessed rock stars.