*HEAD'S UP* Okay folks, this one's Rated NC-17 for extremely graphic descriptions of hard drug use. No sex this time, but a hell of a lot of pining. This is dark, ugly, nasty stuff. No romp in sandbox.
We'd like to state that there is no intention here to glorify, glamorize or encourage hard drug use. The fact that smack is "trendy" again these days horrifies us. That said, we also understand the power and the allure. Every once in a while we feel the need to throw our beloved boys a dose of heavy RL (and this is real life, for lots of people), and see how well they catch. So, be warned please.
Mucho thanks to Moonpuppy for not only being the best beta ever and putting up with us, but for her positive reaction to possibly the darkest thing we've written.
Anxiously awaiting your feedback. Z&n.
Waiting For The Man
I'm sitting in a dirty motel room, picking the laminate off the night stand and waiting for Mickey to show. The gun is under the bedspread, pointed at the door. Even here, in one of the New York city's most arcane shooting galleries, I can't be too careful. I have too much money, and not a lot of time. If I had my choice, I'd be in a luxury suite on Fifth Avenue right now, getting trashed on really good whiskey and awaiting room service. As it is, I'm waiting for room service of an entirely different nature.
It amazed me that I managed to cop with no more than three phone calls in a city I haven't seen in almost two years. Well, I guess it's like they say, it's a buyer's market. I should know, I was indirectly responsible for the last major shipment into the country from Afghanistan, and it came through here first, about a week ago. The powers that be have decided it's convenient to allow the drugs to flow freely through the pipeline right now. For that at least, I guess I can be grateful, no matter how much I hate them.
I find a perverse comfort in the knowledge that unlike any of Mickey's other customers, I know exactly where the stuff I'm about to put in my veins came from, and how, and by whom. I also happen to know that the quality will be very high, and the cut friendly. I wonder what Mickey would think if I told him I know the guy who flew his shit out of the no-fly zone in Bagram? Brave man, Ahmad. I'll be sure to toast him with my first shot.
If the little prick ever shows. I hate this, it's the worst part, waiting for the man. I think that when God made the universe he decreed that your drug dealer must always take twice as long as he says he will, just so that you will have ample time to contemplate your vice before you embrace it. I have very little use for guilt, and doubt is lethal, but somehow I still find myself unable to escape these little moments of paranoia and self doubt. I'm not plagued by the usual junkies concerns, after all. I know exactly where the shit came from, and how much I can shoot comfortably and not get myself into trouble, and I have plenty of money, and at least in druggie terms, plenty of time. Three or four days, I guess, which, after I get my poison, might as well be an eternity.
The last assignment turned out to be a little more exciting, and a great deal more profitable, than either my bosses or I expected. Considering their extremely rude lack of concern for my well being of late, I don't think it's necessary to enlighten them. I did the job they gave me to do. Any moron could have. It wasn't even mercenary work. It was too easy. They could have hired a local thug and saved themselves my plane fare. Even if it was coach, the cheap bastards. The little side turn the "mission", if you can even call it that, took was entirely unexpected, and entirely profitable. I think my favorite law of the universe is the one that says that dead men can't tell tales. I'm safe here, no one of any consequence knows I'm here at all. They think I'm still in Moscow, cleaning up their mess.
As it was, the mess had conveniently taken care of itself by the time I got there, as these things often do, and all I had to do was tie up a few loose ends. One of those loose ends had a very interesting offer for me, and since he was already a dead man, I took him up on it, and made a very quick two grand U.S., the very best kind. No hassles when I landed at JFK, no money exchange. Just a quick cab ride downtown and a discreet double backing bus trip to this ancient, filthy SRO, where I can forget about all of them for as long as the horses want to run...
That's Mickey at the door, I can smell him from here. "Come on in, man." Stashing the gun under the paper thin mattress, I stand up, adrenaline and anticipation making me bounce on the balls of my feet.
He has three grams for me, and although it takes longer than I want it to, I manage to talk him into selling me his works for another fifty bucks. He wants to bicker, claiming that he hasn't even used the syringe yet, but I don't care. I bought a small bottle of laundry bleach at the drugstore, and paying this gene pool error way too much money for a sharp and spoon and a piece of tubing is easier than acquiring them myself.
Finally, he's gone and I'm alone with myself and the three red balloons on my bedspread. For just a second, I contemplate shooting the whole goddamn thing, and calling "time out" on this game called my life before they do. I won't. I know I won't. It's never been that easy. Sometimes I pity the ones that aren't strong enough to control this disease, and sometimes I envy them.
I go back to the closed door, double locking it, and ensuring my privacy with a chair jammed under the door knob. Tonight, I'm not going to put up with any interruptions. No one is going to call me to drag me from my bed to go kill a stranger. No one is going to plot to trip me up, or double cross me. No one is going to listen in. It's just me and my walkman sitting on a rickety bed with nine hundred dollars worth of heroin in front of me.
Now that I have it, I'm totally relaxed, and I can delay the moment when I will put garbage in my veins to escape my life a little longer. Taking the worn zippered case and the drugs into the bathroom, I go back for the plastic bag from the drugstore I left on the table. In it is a Bic lighter, a bottle of bleach, and a jug of orange juice.
The bathroom is even filthier than the room proper, and there is evidence that others have come here to fulfill the same needs as my own. There are ripped balloons on the floor, and a broken spike under the sink.
I've been working very hard at not having this thought, but catching my own eyes in the tar covered mirror, I can't help it. The only thing I can think is, "What would Mulder think?"
I suppose he wouldn't be all that surprised. If anything, I think it would make him happy to know that I have a weakness, especially one so easily used against me. Ah, but Fox my dear, you know nothing about this. Staying on top of your desire is a big part of this game. If you give in just once, you've blown it and you might as well just throw in the towel. You should be able to understand that, Mulder, you play plenty of your own little games with denial and self control.
Yes, you should be able to understand, but you wouldn't. You wouldn't let yourself see the similarities. Why is it that I can see all of the things we have in common, some of them shockingly intimate, but all you can see are the differences? You have morals, and I don't, or at least that's what you'd say. I don't think I even remember how to see life in those terms anymore. You take outrageous risks and put us all in danger for what you would call a higher purpose, your sacred truth. I do it to stay alive. Well, that and a pure instinctive fear of a nine to five job and a normal life. Even if circumstances had allowed it to be, I know I couldn't live that way. Ignorant, lied to, helpless to influence or even understand the real balance of power and the battle ahead.
"I hope they blow us all up, Mulder. I hope they blow us to kingdom come. Turn this whole fucked up planet into dust."
It's time. Turning on the water tap, I let it run a long time, facing my own cold eyes in the mirror. It's a ritual at this point, forcing myself to face it in the mirror before I shoot. I see no emotion in my eyes at all. I wonder if anyone else ever does.
"It's not what you think," I speak out loud to my reflection, not even sure what I mean by that. The anticipation is a kind of high all by itself. Short lived adrenaline is rushing over my nerves and through my brain. Soon now, the drug will wash it all away, and my body won't even remember what adrenaline is, or how to make it. I need that. I live on the stuff, trusting my body to stay awake, to outrun the enemy, to do more with less and less, to survive. Now I need to knock myself out to be able to turn it off, and this is by far the most pleasant and effective way I know.
Holding the case with my teeth, I get it unzipped and back on the edge of the sink without too much trouble. Now I'm contemplating Mickey's works with an entirely new set of problems. I haven't done this since I got out of Russia, where they took my arm. I didn't even think about it, and now it throws me into a panic. How the hell am I going to shoot?
"Okay, Alexi, don't freak out here, we can do this..." I talk to myself out loud again, trying to calm down. A part of my brain is aware of the luxury of being able to do so.
Fuck. I hate them. Every time I think that I can at least feel vengeful and self righteous because I haven't let them slow me down, life throws me a new challenge I don't want. They took my left hand, five fingers I need every day and don't have, an elbow I can't lean on, muscles and strength and leverage and balance that I miss dearly. No matter what else happens, someday I'm going to make them pay for it, and then they'll know just how big a mistake they made, when they let this happen to me.
Just when I think I've conquered it, and I can tie my shoes and count a roll of bills and put on my watch, I get a whole new smack in the face. Or not, as the case may be. Laughing at my own bad joke, and at myself in general, I put the case next to me on the back of the toilet, where it's safer. Removing the syringe, I unscrew the long surgical steel point from the plastic vial, and inspect it carefully. Mickey wasn't lying, it is a brand new spike, no residue is encrusted around the threads of the syringe. Either that or he washed his works with bleach, as I'm about to do. You never know, even the really stupid ones are getting smarter.
Flushing the needle isn't easy, I have to hold the sharp in the capful of bleach and water and pull the plunger up with my teeth. I spill it on the first try, and have to start over again, swearing under my breath at my own ineptitude. Finally, I've got it clean and ready to go, and I set the sterilized syringe carefully on the edge of the sink, not letting the point touch the filthy porcelain.
The spoon is conveniently bent, and I set it on the lip of the sink. Now's the hard part. Transferring the white powder from the tied off balloon to the spoon to be cooked is always a delicate process, I'm trying to do it with one hand and it's not working. I'm aggravated, trying to keep my hand from shaking and afraid that I'm going to spill three hundred bucks of oblivion all over the floor.
A tiny bit at a time, I shake out enough for a healthy shot, only spilling a minuscule amount of powder on the dirty sink lip. Step two is going to be a little bit more of a challenge. For a moment I consider trying to get inventive, and find some sort of makeshift clip to hold the spoon for me, but there's nothing here to help and I don't feel like tearing though my bag right now. I need this shit, and I can't get it in my fucking arm. There's a minute where I'm about to just have a tantrum, fling the shit across the room and have a ball trashing the place. The practical side of my brain won't let me. I took considerable risk to pay for this pleasure, and I'm going to get it, if I have to stand on my fucking head and push the plunger with my tongue.
Going down on my knees I take the spoon in my teeth, holding it very carefully with my jaw clenched to prevent any shaking. Groping beside me for the lighter, I have to watch it cook in the mirror, my face getting hot from the close proximity of the flame. The sharp sweet odor that is released as the dope cooks passes quickly over my nostrils and something inside me jumps in recognition and anticipation.
Now I'm staring at a spoonful of precious liquid, and I'm right back to my original problem. I only have one fucking arm. Well, I guess it's going to have to be behind the knee then, it looks like my safest feasible choice. shucking off my jeans as fast as I can, I have the overwhelming sense of urgency that always comes before I do this. I want to get it into my system and out of sight as fast as I can. I don't want anyone to see me do this, not even myself.
Holding the plunger in my teeth, I place the tip of the sharp in the spoon, holding it steady and drawing up slowly. I can't see the hash marks for cc's on the side of the syringe like this. It's okay, I've done this enough times to be able to measure it with my eye, although I have to go cross-eyed to do it.
I realize what I must look like, sitting on the filthy bathroom floor with my jeans around my ankles, my back up against a cracked wall, which is bubbled out from the vermin that live within its layers of plasterboard. Fucked up, that's what I look like. No matter what else he thinks of me, I never want Mulder to see me like this. I don't want him to feel whatever it is he would feel if he were here right now. Disgust, or amusement, or worst of all, pity.
Transferring the needle back to my mouth to hold, I reach for the yellow rubber tubing. It's annoying that I have to wrap the length around my thigh loosely, and then set the needle down again to pull one end tight with my teeth. It's okay though, I've made it, I'm finally here. All I have to do now is find a vein, and that, I can always do. I flex the muscle in my thigh, slapping hard until the fat vein behind my knee is clearly defined against the reddened skin. Stretching my leg out in front of me, I have to twist around to get a workable angle to get the needle in.
Takes me three tries, and my damn leg is completely numb from the restriction of blood by the time I get it right. It's hard to tell at first whether or not I've hit the vein this time, I'm so numb and so hyper. When I pull the plunger up a little, holding the point under my skin with one finger flat over the point of entry, I know I've got it right. Blood floods the vial quickly, and I draw it up, watching anxiously for bubbles. Almost there, oh God in heaven, I'm almost fucking there. I've been needing this for months, and as the plunger goes back down, I feel myself smile for the first time since I was locked in a gulag with a F.B.I. agent who is far too innocent for his own good.
Pulling out, I mess it up and I know I'll have an ugly bruise there, but I'm not going for finesse. No one is going to see me naked anytime soon, no one that matters, anyway. All I want to do is get the band off my thigh before they have to amputate my leg, too. I get it off, and the heroin rushes straight up my leg to my heart, fast and furious. I feel like someone has shoved me face first into a brick wall, and now I'm falling, so slowly...
My hand gropes for the plastic bag, dragging it over without looking and pulling out the carton of orange juice. Biting the plastic tab off savagely with my teeth, I get the cap off and chug three quarters of the quart, not caring when thin sticky streams dribble out the corners of my mouth and down my neck. The vitamin C hits my bloodstream seconds after the dope, and I imagine I can feel it guiding the drug directly to my nervous system. My stump twitches as muscles that aren't there try to grab for the floor. I hold on tight with my right hand, my back pushed into the corner.
This is the heaven I've been waiting for, the long, long, free fall down into nothing. It's looking mighty black down there, in the middle of my soul. I'm falling into myself, drawn down into a vortex of rushing air and soft, intense sensation. It's dizzying, I'm always surprised to find myself nauseous at this point. I fight it off, forcing myself to concentrate, my eyes fixed on a point on the opposite wall. Someone's phone number. If there was a phone in the room I'd call it, just to ask how many other junkies have called and asked for Sandy, who gives good head.
The orange juice is cold and sticky on my chest, the floor is cold beneath me, and it smells bad in here. These are only vague, subliminal sensations though, far, far away from the place I'm rushing down to. I kick my leg out from under me, readjusting my grip on the floor and strapping myself in for the ride.
Looking at it in the needle, I always think that this shit should look like soda water, not the foggy, milky substance that it is before it swirls and mixes with my blood. I can feel it bubbling in my bloodstream now, though. A vibration I can feel against my bones, like a tattoo artist's needle buzzing against my insides. Not pain, ah no, but close to the sensation of expecting pain, like the shock and the rush after you get shot, before you feel it.
Ah, God, it's good. No strychnine freezing my muscles, no after burn, just a long, fast trip down the side of a mountain. Another wave of nausea rolls through me and I grab for the door handle, lurching to my feet. I grab my pants, hauling them up and bouncing off the doorway and out into the room. It smells a hell of a lot better out here. Crashing into the wall, I follow it to the bed, taking three more lurching steps before falling towards the mattress.
I fall onto the bed, and bounce for all eternity. I want it to stop, the waves of motion flowing through my body, even though I'm lying perfectly still. I'm on my back, gripping the right side of the thin mattress and the metal bed frame for dear life, praying for second gear.
Some people get into this, they mix their poisons and shoot speedballs to prolong the rush, but I get tired of the freefall, the intense sensations that go through me too fast to be felt. I hang on to myself, forcing my jaw to unlock and humming to calm the fear.
"Soon, soon, soon, soon," I sing to myself, curling into a fetal ball on the rickety bed. I watch the old fashioned alarm clock on the night stand, not sure if it's the right time or not. I wonder who wound it up, and why? Humming continuously, I watch five minutes pass. Time is always the thing that confuses me the most when I'm stoned.
Watching the clock takes my mind off the madness of the initial roller coaster ride, and now I realize that I've dropped off. I'm floating in a warm, liquid cocoon. The colors on the faded bedspread beneath my cheek are beautiful, watery, the weave of the fiber intricate and hypnotic. I try to remember the names to the colors to amuse myself and begin to laugh when I'm unable to.
Once I start to laugh, I can't stop, but it doesn't matter, because it feels good. The laughter bubbles out of me until my whole body is shaking with it, all the tension of the long wait expelled with my loud yelps of uncontrollable mirth. Finally it subsides, and I roll over onto my side, fascinated by the way my perception shifts with gravity. Now I'm staring at my jacket on the bed, although it takes me a minute to realize that's what it is.
My walkman... The thought forms slowly, the first intentional one I've had since I shot. Oh yes, music, wonderful. Now all I have to do is remember how to move again. I try a second time, taking my time, slowly directing my hand to move. I drag my gaze slowly across the distance to my jacket pocket. It's no use, nothing happens. My body has disconnected itself from my brain. It doesn't upset me, it's fine. Later...
Stray thoughts float across my mind, but nothing catches. My eyes wander around the room, not seeing it. It looks like a hundred other places I've been, and I've left all that behind me. I should put the balloons away, and clean up in the bathroom, should probably take my gun out from under the mattress, too. I'll get to it, later...
Dope turns anyone into a philosopher, even me. I'm thinking about the circles of power and influence I'm caught in, and how they are constantly shifting, the lines of demarcation murky and confused, when they're drawn at all. I know more about the hierarchy of the Consortium than most people do, but even I don't pretend to know who's really calling the shots, not all the time. Mulder is deluded if he really believes that he's going to figure out who is directly responsible for what happened to Samantha, or for any of it. Even I don't know, and I get much closer to them than he ever will. If I could tell him everything I know, I would. Most of it wouldn't do him any good. The kind of knowledge he's after isn't knowledge at all. It's not facts he wants. It's confirmation of his faith, and that, I can't give him.
Not that he would take it from me, even if I were able to offer it. After the last time, I doubt I'll see him again, and if I do, it'll be behind a gun, pointed at my face. Poor Mulder. Even now, you still want life to be black and white when it's not. It's so very gray... I am your enemy, your saboteur, I'm the only one in the world that really loves you, that would give up anything for you. You call me a traitor. You have no idea...
It doesn't matter who you betray, it doesn't matter how many different people you are inside. As long as in the end, you accomplish what you set out to do. In my case, that's revenge. For him, it's a little more complicated. I supposed what he really wants is to expose the lies, to break the circle of power and secrecy that withholds his precious knowledge. I want that too, for very different reasons. I want to survive. But you see, Mulder, we're not so different, not so different at all.
You would do anything, sacrifice anyone, even Scully, to get your sister back. I know you would. You would kill me if you could, I think. Not because I killed your father. Not because I helped them take Scully away from you. No, you can rationalize, and lie to yourself, and believe that I didn't do those things, because you want to. What you can't forgive me for, what you would kill me for, is withholding information.
Information. It makes the world spin, it makes everybody crazy, it takes up space and controls everything from public opinion to the economy. I wish it didn't control the man I love. I think, to have him look at me the way he used to, back when we were partners, I would give up anything, even my schemes for revenge and retribution.
I'm humming along steadily now, my awareness of my surrounding has expanded, and I can reach my walkman. I've only got two tapes with me, the Velvet Underground's greatest hits and Appetite For Destruction. Fumbling with the headphones, they keep slipping out of my fingers, I press play, and music floods my brain.
I can feel it, I'm absorbing it, each individual note reverberating in my skull, Axl's screech and the hard drive of the bass. I fall back on the bed, closing my eyes to get further inside the music.
Loaded like a freight train
Flying like an aeroplane
Feelin like space brain
One more time tonight.
Oh yeah, that's me, I'm with him, two hundred miles an hour on a single track. So fast. I'd forgotten just how good this is. There is nothing else like it. It's the only thing that's stayed with me, really. I was sixteen years old the first time I shot. I'd just read Crowley's Diary Of A Drug Fiend, and I had to know. He was right, it was a mirror, it still is. Everything else has changed, but this. I can see myself more clearly with my veins full of junk than I can any other way. Horse takes away every single fear, every doubt. It strips away your ego, your expectations, your conscience, and your past. So now I'm left with the bare bones of what I am. A killer, a hedonist, a masochist, a fool.
The tape has ended and the headphones buzz in my ears. I grope for the other tape, fumbling until I can get it into the player. Lou Reed sings about my poison, and everything gets easy. I can let it go, just drift away on his music. If Mulder is lying on his back in a motel room somewhere in the middle of America, chasing aliens, I hope he's as happy as I am right now. This is all I have, I can't fight the future.
I'm waiting for my man
Twenty-six dollars in my hand
Up to Lexington, 125
Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive
I'm waiting for my man
Hey, white boy, what you doin' uptown?
Hey, white boy, you chasin' our women around?
Oh pardon me sir, it's the furthest from my mind
I'm just lookin' for a dear, dear friend of mine
I'm waiting for my man
Here he comes, he's all dressed in black
Beat up shoes and a big straw hat
He's never early, he's always late
First thing you learn is you always gotta wait
I'm waiting for my man
Up to a Brownstone, up three flights of stairs
Everybody's pinned you, but nobody cares
He's got the works, gives you sweet taste
Ah then you gotta split because you got no time to waste
I'm waiting for my man
Baby don't you holler, darlin' don't you bawl and shout
I'm feeling good, you know I'm gonna work it on out
I'm feeling good, I'm feeling oh so fine
Until tomorrow, but that's just some other time
I'm waiting for my man
Lyrics borrowed without permission from The Velvet Underground.