Title: don't believe you're all alone.
Type: Original fiction
Word Count: ~1450
Prompt: #7 - Dominos (story_lottery)
Rating: R for language and talk of male/male relationships, drug use/abuse, abusive relationships, and a suicide attempt. Despite all that, there's nothing too explicit.
Author's note: This is an original character that's been rattling around in my head for a year now. The use of dominos is, obviously, pretty metaphorical here.
One: an artist, an actor, sensitive and young and a bit fragile. All he wants is to be loved by the man in his life, to make everyone else happy, and to somehow find his own happiness in return.
Two: the other man, stereotypically tall, dark, and handsome. Something sinister lurks just beneath the surface with him, something our sensitive artist has been blind to for more than a year now. Is he willfully blind to it? Yes, probably, because he swears that he loves this man, seemingly unconditionally.
Three: there is a third party, so to speak, to this relationship, though it is more like the elephant or the three hundred pound gorilla in the room. She is cocaine and heroin, meth and acid and pot and long nights of using to excess. She is persuasive and beautiful and deadly, and these two men can't bring themselves to walk away.
Four: unconditional love? Hardly. When they're not high, our sensitive artist Nathan and his lover Sergei, they're at each other's throats. Life is a constant battle between them, and nothing will make it stop.
Five: Nathan's not blind to the constant cycle, fight-get high-make up-repeat. But he's convinced it's always his fault, that he sets Sergei off. So, in a way, perhaps, he is still blind to this, too. He believes that Sergei isn't as cruel when they're both using, and so he uses, just to keep up with the delicate balance between them.
Six: he uses, and he won't stop, no matter who tries to intervene, no matter who tries to convince him that he's slowly killing himself. It feels good, he reasons, being high. He likes it, he likes feeling powerful and smart and beautiful, and he doubts that he is any of these things while sober.
Seven: except that Sergei is just as cruel when he's using, if not more so. The drugs bring out that sinister part of him, push it all right up to the surface again. The drugs don't make him love Nathan any more than he already does, doesn't make him love Nathan properly.
Eight: sometimes Nathan realizes this, in the rare moments of clarity he gets when he hasn't been using. Sometimes he realizes that Sergei is no good, that Sergei just tries to find new ways to hurt Nathan all the time, and so sometimes, Nathan tries to leave. He packs his things – leaves the stash of drugs, because if he's leaving Sergei, he swears he's leaving behind his addiction, too – and gets ready to go, but Sergei always stops him, always talks him into staying. They won't fight anymore, Sergei promises, they'll do rehab together, they'll get out of the city for a while. Sergei swears he won't hit or punch or cheat or lie anymore, and that things will be like they used to be, and Nathan, god love him, our fragile artist, Nathan believes him, every time.
Nine: and usually, the cycle is manageable, it's okay, Nathan can cope, he can rationalize and make sense out of it all, or, at least, he can pretend to understand, but sometimes, sometimes he just can't cut it.
Ten: he's failing out of school. He's been kicked out of the acting program, he's been fired from every role he's gotten because he doesn't show up on time and when he does show up, he's rarely sober and he never knows his lines. He can't write and he can't concentrate and he doesn't know what he's doing anymore. He's lost his scholarships and has no idea how the fuck he's going to finish college and pay rent and eat and still manage the addiction that he can't or won't give up.
Eleven: his family wants him to come home, his friends won't talk to him anymore, and his sister is one bad day away from completely writing him off, which is a pity, after all she's done to try to help him over the years. “You're scaring me, Nate,” his sister Nicole says, “you're scaring all of us,” and he ignores her, because he knows what that means. He knows that she just wants him to leave: leave drugs, leave Sergei, leave New York, and he can't. He can't do that. This is his life, doesn't she understand?
Twelve: and then there's Sergei, shooting up and making a mess of the apartment and rambling about the hot guy from downstairs who he fucked last night, and who he was probably going to fuck again tonight, and did Nathan want to watch? And Nathan is sober enough to be appalled, because Sergei swore he was going to stop fucking other people so blatantly, swore he was going to stop trashing the place and being a mess and such a goddamn asshole, only now he's fucking other people and not telling Nathan about it until he's high and doesn't know any better. They fight, again, yelling and cursing each other, because Nathan is so tired of this. And then there's Sergei, lurching towards Nathan, and Nathan knows what's coming next, so he just closes his eyes and waits for the impact.
Thirteen: he's a failure, he's fucking sure of it. He's a washed up failure, not good enough to be a writer or an actor or a success of any kind. Not good enough for his family to still care about him. Not good enough for Sergei to love him, despite everything he's sacrificed. He's nothing, and he's convinced of this now, more convinced of this than of anything else in ages.
Fourteen: it's a bad day. It's a bad, awful, dismal day. New York is dark and the snow falls, fast and thick and heavy, and Nathan wants out. He wants out, but this time, he doesn't pack to go. This time, he simply finishes off the last of the stash he'd been hanging on to, waiting to see if he was going to quit or not for the thousandth time. Because, well, why the fuck not? He's not careful this time, he hardly checks to see how much he's taking, and he's not even sure where the syringe came from, to be honest, but he just doesn't fucking care any more. He's tired of this life, so tired, and he's decided to start over.
Fifteen: It's the last straw, the last chink in the armor. Everything's come together and it hurts, this life, and he doesn't want it any more. He stumbles past Sergei, sprawled on the floor now, asleep or passed out or something. It's freezing outside, but he pushes open the balcony door and goes out, no shoes, no jacket, just a bright pink scarf looped around his neck, one end trailing behind him in the snow. The ledge of the balcony is just wide enough for him to stand on, he guesses, and he brushes the snow off of it before he hops up to sit on it.
Sixteen: “Nicole,” he says, almost shouting into the phone, because he doesn't know how loud he's being, “Nicole, I've figured it all out, everything, every fucking thing, I've got it, I know where I went wrong and I'm going to fix it, honey, Nicole, trust me, I'm going to fix it now.” The wind whistles around him as he talks, shouts, at his sister, who knows her brother well enough to know that this phone call isn't a good thing, it's not a two a.m. call to chat about life. He stands up on the balcony, teetering a bit as he tries to keep his balance. “I've got the whole world in front of me, Nic,” he says, one arm stretched out to the side, like he's the king of the world, and he thinks he is. “The whole world, and I just can't do it anymore, I can't do this, so I'm going to fix it.” Nathan looks down to the ground, and lifts one foot from the balcony ledge, toes making little circles in the air. Nicole is screaming frantically into the phone, but he's not listening, he's done listening to her, so Nathan just drops the phone over the edge of the balcony, watching it fall down, down, settling in the thick snow.
Seventeen: just one step to go over the edge. Everything builds up from the very start, our fragile artist and his baggage, his doomed relationship and his addiction and his inability to see himself for who he really is. The pain and the confusion and the torment just grow and grow until he manages to convince himself that there's no way out but down.
Eighteen: he jumps.