Tommy tries heroin for the first time.
“Nikki,” I say, and he kind of inclines his head as an indication that he’s listening. “Uh… I just wanted to thank you…”
I’m blushing, glad he’s not looking at me. “Putting up with me,” I say quietly. “I know I’m irritating, and you could be with anyone, really…”
His eyes slide over for half a second, then he looks away. “You’re fine, Lee,” he mutters. “If you got on my nerves, I’d let you know.”
I don’t doubt it. I swallow; squeeze his hand. In the moonlight, shadows are created under his eyes; his cheekbones look sharper than usual. He looks tense, angry, but I don’t want to ask what’s wrong, because I don’t feel like getting yelled at.
When we reach his house, we go inside, past the other dealers, up to his room. He unlocks the door and lets me in, and immediately I sit on the bed, letting out a sigh. He smiles a little, dropping his key and walking over to stand next to me. His hand slides on my shoulders, and he says:
“I got some China White earlier today… y’wanna share?”
“China White…” It sounds familiar, but I can’t place it. Nikki nods, then walks over to his dresser and pulls out a Ziploc bag. Inside, there’s a long, thin line of a powdery white substance.
“Yeah.” He lays the substance out on the blanket, and makes me wait for him to get what he calls “the necessities”: aluminum foil, a piece of rolled-up paper, a lighter. He scoops it up, spreads it over the foil, rounds the paper over the line, and clicks the lighter on. I can’t tell what he’s doing, but a moment after he touches the fire to the China White, he breathes in through his paper funnel, and a quiet, satisfied sigh escapes his lips. He looks up at me, and his expression is soft, sleepy.
“Your turn,” he says, handing me the funnel.
“What is it?” I ask, leaning over with my nostril pressed to the opening of the paper.
“S’heroin,” he mumbles, lighting it up. “Now breathe in.”
Automatically, I take a breath, though I’m kind of freaking out; heroin’s different from coke, darker, and I’ve heard stories, floating around school, about the ways heroin can fuck you over. For a second, I’m high, higher than I’ve ever been, and it feels great; then my stomach jerks and I have to fly to the bathroom, vomit spraying between my fingers as I clasp my hand over my mouth. I plunge my head down the toilet, throwing up, not caring if I get it all over myself, and shit, I feel sick, I’m fucking dying…
Nikki’s arms come over my shoulders. He pulls his fingers through my hair, holding it back; presses his other palm against my forehead. “All right, Lee,” he says quietly, as my spine arches back against his stomach. “Get it out… s’gonna be okay…”
Eventually, I stop, though more because there’s nothing left to throw up than anything else. Shaking, I lean back against him. My mouth tastes like a swamp, and my head is throbbing. He leans over slightly to flush the toilet, then comes back and holds me again, soothing me quietly, whispering indistinguishable words in my ear.
And then he helps me up, leads me over to the sink, where I rinse out my mouth while he finds some Listerine and pours it in a plastic cup. I swish around with that, then spit it out and rinse again. Nikki waits until I’m done, leaned against the wall with his hands in his pockets, then helps me back to bed. I lie down, exhausted, and he curls behind me, his lips brushing my neck.
“Sorry, Nikki,” I say. I don’t know why I feel ashamed; technically it’s not my fault, but still…
“Don’t,” he says, sounding tired. “Don’t ever apologize for shit that ain’t your fault.”
I can feel tears forming in my eyes. “I’m not good enough, Sixx. You shouldn’t be with me, I don’t know shit—”
“Listen to me,” he interrupts. “I don’t give a fuck whether you’re a king dealer or a homeless asshole; if I see something in you, I will stay with you. And fucker, I like you. All right? I like how you don’t know shit about drugs, or anything about my world, really; I like teaching you shit. And besides… you’re a musician, and you like London. What more could I want?” I can hear him smiling, and I can’t help but smile back.
“Okay, Sixx,” I say.
“Okay,” he says quietly. He strokes my sides, and we’re quiet after, for a long time, just lying there, just him and me.
I think this just might work out.