Rated mature for drug use, language, and adult situations. If "adult situations" means arguing with your on-again, off-again significant other about who's the worse drug user.
Marleybone is my tiny, fictional, New Mexico town that will probably be the center of either a series of short stories and vignettes or a novel (I'm leaning towards the latter at the moment, but we'll see). Shauna's the same that shows up in the flash fiction piece "Fantasies"; you can get the gist of her relationship with Beau from "Love Songs."
I love constructive criticism - so do your worst!
Beau pushed himself up on his elbows and watched, in silent judgment, as Shauna tugged the sheets up around herself and dug a hypodermic needle out of her bedside drawer. She next drew out her stash, hidden in an unused makeup bag, and a length of the rubber they used to tie up your arm to draw blood at the doctor’s office. Either she’d filched it, or Duke had simply given it to her. Druggies and miscreants helped each other out in Marleybone – it was the only way they could all survive, undetected.
His eyes followed the skillful way she looped the rubber around her upper arm, pulling it taught with her teeth as she looped it through two more times to make sure it stayed put. She was an old hand at this. If he weren’t quietly repulsed by it, he’d have told Shauna how he admired her talent. Deft fingers went about seeking a lighter from Beau’s jeans, slung across the lampshade in all the ruckus of their reunion the night before, then unfolding the tinfoil that held the prize. Shauna laid out enough heroin on a real silver spoon (stolen from her parents’ set, that much he was sure of) to kill a horse, then went about warming it and filling the needle. She held the needle in her mouth as she unfolded her arm and made a fist to find a vein that wasn’t completely ruined, her fingers lightly probing her tender skin for something feasible.
Beau couldn’t keep silent anymore. “You’re still doing that,” he said, voice flat, as if simply calling attention to the fact.
Shauna looked over at him and held his eyes, her expression lost somewhere between exasperation and anger. She wouldn’t let him look away and mumbled around the hypodermic, “No shit, Sherlock.” She took the needle out of her mouth. “What the hell did you think I did all day? Dream up a way to make Wagner’s more productive? Fuck that.” She turned back to her arm, the track marks making pretty patterns up and down and under her ruined flesh, then caught her bottom lip between her teeth and dug the needle in under her skin.
“It’s just bad for you, is all.” Beau rolled out of bed and wandered, stark naked, into her bathroom. He felt her eyes on him and tried to ignore the excitement crawling through his spine at the thought of her. He examined his face in the mirror. “The drugs, I mean.”
Shauna tossed aside the needle and lay back in the bed with a waiting sigh, untying the rubber from around her arm and rubbing at the dented skin. “You’re one to talk,” she called in reply, over the rush of water in the bathroom sink. “You and your pills, your pot. You’re killing brain cells, asshole.” Something began to fuzz to life in the back of her mind. She closed her eyes to let the beginning of a high wash over her and hoped he’d just come back to bed and let the subject drop.
“I don’t do that much,” he replied, and shut off the water. “Not anymore.” He met his own eyes in the mirror again and blinked. How did we get here? To avoid answering, he rubbed his face and neck dry with a damp towel, and then crossed back to the bed and tucked himself in. Shauna didn’t bother looking at him, holding her left arm bent and elevated, willing the smack to grab hold of her synapses and never let go. “Don’t the needles make you nervous?” Beau tried, quietly.
Shauna opened her eyes, slow and lazy. “Hell, no. Never have, not even when I was a kid.”
“I mean, AIDS, you know. You could be putting us both at risk, babe,” he replied. He nodded in the direction of her arm. “It’s not just your life you could be ruining with that shit.”
She sat up with a look on her face that spelled trouble, her narrowed eyes and sharp inhale signaling a coming storm. The honeymoon period was over, as abruptly as it had begun. “I’m not an idiot, Beauchamp,” she drawled. “I don’t share needles. Who the fuck do you think I am, a common fucking junkie? Fuck you.”
She pushed herself out of bed, taking the sheet with her, and Beau reached to catch her impromptu toga before she could leave the room. “Shaun, c’mon, I’m just worried about you.”
“No, you know what? Fuck. You. You’re worried because you don’t know a goddamn thing about me anymore. Dipshit.” She shook her head, her thoughts fuzzy from a hangover, a daze of happiness, a coming wave of euphoria. She turned sharply to point an accusing finger at her sometime boyfriend, the love of her life, even as she pushed him away. “I’m easy, so I must be a whore, trailing crabs wherever I go, right? I shoot, so I’m addicted. Fuck you and your fucking holier-than-thou attitude. If you really want to talk about who’s ruining lives around here, step back and take a look at yourself.”
Beau stood and grabbed his boxers from under the bed, then took his jeans from the lampshade and tugged them on. “What is this shit you’re spouting now?” he replied, losing his former reasonability. He was angry, sure, but also shaken – because he’d been taking a look at himself just before, and it was as if Shauna could see his doubt as clearly as she could his athletic form and his bloodshot eyes.
She closed the space between them, jabbing a finger into the muscle of his chest. “You got me hooked, asshole,” she reminded him in a growl. “You never questioned where your extra painkillers were going, did you, even when you knew I was worried sick about you and strung out to keep myself sane? And then you left me. You gave up on me. You grabbed your fucking Oxys and you got the hell out of Dodge. And you left me here to become whatever you imagined I’d be.”
He took her wrist, her fragile skin and bones, in one hand and pushed her accusations aside like leaves kicked out of the way in fall. Easy, so easy, to ignore her, especially when he knew she was right. “Come back to bed,” he said without a trace of tenderness. He could smell defeat on the wind and hoped to still come away feeling like a winner, somehow, at any cost.
She wrenched her hand free of his grasp and brought it back around, hard, against his cheek. “Fuck you,” she spat, pulling the sheets tighter around herself. The plain white fell around her tanned, emaciated frame in folds, a perverse wedding dress for a girl left at the altar, with nothing but a little blow to keep her company. She needed the uppers to get going in the morning, and her old pals, barbiturates, to get to sleep at night. She was an addict; she’d never denied it until this morning, when Beau finally made her feel like one.
Beau poked his cheek, not feeling much but knowing the telltale red outline of Shauna’s fury would pop up there, soon enough. To avoid further trauma, he turned on the charm, oozing sexuality as he smirked easily in reply. “I like it better when you do that, baby.”
“Fuck you,” she repeated, a little less forceful, as he inched closer and she felt herself simultaneously flying high and falling back into his arms, like she belonged there. She added as an afterthought, “You dick.”
“I ruined our lives,” he said softly, his breath like the lightest kiss on her lips.
“Royally,” Shauna agreed. And she knew that was the closest she’d ever get to getting a confession, a truth, an apology, out of Beau Delancey. She liked everything else too much to stay mad for long. She had spoken the truth and, instead of being able to argue back, he’d turned back to their old standby. That was enough of an admission of guilt for her. She lunged for him, pressing her lips to his and working to get those jeans off of him again. Dwelling on the ugly parts wouldn’t do – she’d have to keep on enjoying the present and painting that rosy future for herself.
Beau kissed her for all he was worth and knew he’d gotten off easy. This would end when one (or both) of them was in the ground, six feet under, which could be sooner rather than later. Apologizing was a waste of breath. Running away and kissing her were much better ways to spend his time. He sat heavily on the creaky mattress and pulled the sheet off of her, reveling in her beauty – the parts that were still beautiful, anyway, around her taut skin and rib bones. He winced when she pressed her hand to his cheek. Absently, as she kissed him again, Beau groped for the needle and pushed it back into the drawer. If he couldn’t keep her away from it for good, he could only hope to make her forget about it for a little while. That’s all he ever hoped for when it came to his pills and her smack.