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Sing Productions Adaptations and Retellings Presents: How About Love; RENT re-imagined.

Chapter Text

Close your eyes.


 

Imagine,

the music.

It's familiar, tinkering bright.

A bouncy bass line, a hopeful lift.

A melody you know, that you can feel, through and through and through and through----

It's, me.

It's you.

It's the life I want and won't have, but always with you.

We are the song.

We are the glory.

We are the love that will be remembered when vengeful, spiteful systems conspire against us.

When bodies wrack and chafe, shaking and craving love that's been denied,

the peace and hope we need to survive---

it's us, here. In this tune.

This chorus.

Our blend of voices lifted and raised together to celebrate

All that we've had, and will have, and again won't have, because we all die.

It's you and me.

A season, a changing tide, of who we are, and how we are, and how we show our hearts.

It's here.

Imagine,

the music.

Close your eyes.

Hear it. Sing it.

Remember.

Open them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvyHuse6buY


 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

how, do you measure,

measure a year.


 

Then.

"You be careful out there tonight, alright?" That's Cynthia Irving, tall, dark, buxom woman with black cascading hair, she saying good night to her man, he got a night shift starting and they've got a kid, lil girl names Macey. Got in an accident and been in a chair since. A sort of permanent souvenir.

Frank, he brings the money. Strapping, serious faced man with cutting humour and wit. Jovial and warm to the women in his life. Solid father and husband. Ace. He keeps the roof over head. Food in stomachs. Holds the place down while she looks after the house and writes. They both joke that one day, one of her scripts will end up on a big screen and hard times will end. They joke and laugh about it but they believe it too.

They got that kind of belief that sees you through rough times. You know, the strong pipe dream sort that hasn't quite figured out the how or when but knows that one day it will? They got that. They make it work best they can.

"Always am baby.I love you"

"I love you, Frank"

A press of lips and then another to cheek as he caresses her face. "Kiss Macey for me." And out the door he goes.

In daylights, in sunsets

In midnights, in cups of coffee

In inches, in miles

In laughter, in strife

In Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

how, do you measure,

measure a year in the life


 

Plucking and strumming along and their voices lift in harmony. A perfectly tuned quartet. Ichabod Crane, singer song writer. His girlfriend Caroline's got a sweet lilting soft soprano that soars over his rumbly sometimes ambitious bari-tenor voice. Ambitious only because him and his best friend Abraham tend to war over who gets the upper harmonies. Caroline's bright eyed exuberance and free spirit, serves as Crane's muse. She's boundless, limitless on her best days----closed off abrupt and solitary on others. She's happiest when she's up there, free, dreaming, than when the fun wears off. She's got too many neat little pinprick scars on her arms.

Abraham Van Brunt is musically inclined more so by accident than want. He happens to have a decent voice, but his passion is in story telling. Film, specifically.

Beside him is his own red head. A spunky fire cracker flirtatious creature that Crane doesn't let on hits on him from time to time when they're all drunk. Or high. So damn high. Sometimes both if they're lucky.

Katrina Van Tassle's got a loud mouth and wild hair and doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. Her current ambition is unknown and has been since their first year at the college. Only she's got a sort of hot headed inclination to rage against the higher powers that be at every opportunity. She hates aspirations to fame and fortune, which is anyone's guess how she tolerates Crane's and Abe's own affinity for artistic careers----by definition success in these fields would equate that which she rails against----but she also believes in the power of art as voice.

She has corralled them plenty over the years, to be her backup when she stages protests. Ichabod and Caroline accompany, Abraham will record.

This is their band of misfits.

They party, of course too. They get the good stuff from Danny Reynolds, level headed business type they made the happenstance acquaintance of once at a bar during coffeehouse. Danny pops in on them and tells them how great their sound is, his dreams of a place where they can all create endlessly, he likes to tinker with recording equipment, bending and twisting sounds but Danny's got a head for figures and appreciates music and dance and all of the other parts. And he can sing, too.

That's a bonus when they need a smooth bass. 

He's just starting out on his own first business venture. Doesn't have a penny to his name and whatever good fortune he comes in to? He splurges for his rag tag friends. He's beloved here.

They'll all try hard to remember that.


 

Abbie Mills, sings. Lori and Ezra Mills worked hard to see her in lessons, help her flourish and grow. She has a raw bare quality to her voice, bubbling up from deep within her that makes you wanna claw out of your own skin and burrow into the haven of her song. Makes you wanna strip the world of it's sugar coated frosting so you can look at the harsh cold cruel beautiful things underneath. She also sews, and dances. Hobbies of hers.

Her parents loved one another. Deeply. Passionately. As far as she could understand watching them, love was all anyone could need, want, to survive.

How about, love

How about, love

How about, love

Love was what would keep you warm at night when they cut the heat. Love was what would feed your soul when your belly was empty.

And love was what would kill you when it left, leaving you half dead while you were still standing.

Love left Abbie, in an accident.

Measure in love

Clean, sure, straight cut swathe through the fabric of her life. Drunk driver. Icy road.  The pair of them staggering home on slippery roads to get dressed for the christmas party she'd proudly invited them to.

Seasons of love

Seasons of love

Abbie worked with Luke Morales and Danny Reynolds. A keen start up development firm. Always looking forward to ways to expand, profit.  She was smart then, had a junior level position in this budding business, small thing just getting off the ground while she got her singing career, her passion, or one of her other impressive hobbies off the ground into something decent. Livable.

They took her for dinner on alternate nights, always polite about it. And bought her things, which she refused. She didn't care for baubles and fine spun sweaters that Luke liked to brandish before her. Although, once, Danny had given her a mix. Claiming something he had cooked up with some talented friends of his.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand,

journeys to plan

The simple, plain nature of it, had touched her. She grew tender towards Danny in one way.

Even though something about Luke's dark eyes, wolf smile and his abrupt nature tugged at her in another.

She was between them, yes. There wasn't quite a polite or decent way to go around it and it was tense some times. The men were business partners after all and tip toeing around their simmering competition for her heart.

But they put that rivalry aside, that night.

She went to the hospital to identify her parents bodies.

Danny on one side, Luke, on the other.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

How do you measure the life

of a woman or a man

Held her, as her knees buckled and she cried and cried and wailed. Her voice straggling and breaking and howling and loosing all of its melody, broken down into a feral mourning song.

She begged them to leave her alone tonight. Let her go home and wrap herself in her mothers blankets and spritz daddy's cologne. But they wouldn't hear of it.

Never.

They couldn't leave her grieving alone like this. The party wouldn't start for some hours. Come over, they said, have coffee, breathe.

She was fine there too, as fine as could be, her heart seeming to find some new way to fracture and splinter every time she drew a breath. She'd calm down crying just long enough to remember she couldn't pay for their funeral and began heaving and panicking all over again. Some guest showed up early. She can't remember their name if she ever knew it.

They brought little bags and shook them with glee as they sauntered in, clapping the men and promising they'd brought just enough for them. "Let's start this party early."

They'd glanced at her. "Wanna try?"

She so direly wanted to feel nothing. To be numb. Floating. Anywhere but trapped in her own head rolling like film all of her best memories and then flashing the bloodied still visage of her parents, "His arms were around her," someone had been kind enough to say at the hospital. "He tried to protect her before they were hit."

"Yes." she had croaked, desperately.

And it was good.

It was light.

Lit up her head and mind and lifted her away. It gave her everything it promised. Everything she needed.

And it was there when her lights went out because she was too knocked or sky high to open her eyes. It  filled her limbs with lightness and her brain with nothing except nonsense, when there wasn't food.

And it gave her courage that first night, when she was scared, afraid, needing now to support herself because she'd spiralled out of the decent company and imagery of working for Luke and Danny----let go, with a stipend that she blazed through--- it gave her the nerve to saunter into the "Cat Scratch Club" and offer that she could dance and sing.

And found herself upstairs in a dressing room sharing with a beautiful dark woman painting her lips red and tousling her hair. "You new here," she'd asked, uninterested as she drew black lines on her eyes. She'd turned when Abbie didn't answer and saw her face. "If it helps I haven't been here that long either."

"Abbie."

Lips bite together and offer a sad half smile, as close as she lets herself get to friendly. "Cynthia."

"What….what's it like, out there?"

Cynthia shrugs, adjusting her bust. "I don't have the luxury of something else. So it can't matter to me." she looked away. "Been here a few months, three? I think. You sing? Mabie's been wanting someone who sings."

"A little," Abbie offers. A gross understatement, given her training. But she hasn't been treating her voice so well for a while either.

Cynthia nods. "Come on, I'll…..let's get you some clothes? Yeah? okay, and then I'll show you how to…..a routine. Some, pointers, I've learned here." She swallows hard and begins rummaging in a rack.

Abbie likes her instantly, and by the end of the night they're chatting together and laughing about how Abbie nearly tripped getting on and how Cynthia won't be getting that long glove back from the besotted man that had been sitting front row. They'd become, close, close, best, friends. Sisters.

Abbie helping her look after Macey.


 

Nicholas Hawley could drum, like no ones business. He also sang. Not beautifully, mind you, but decently enough. He liked spending time with his mother more than his father. He's not sure now, when he looks back on it, what his mother knew----but she'd never deterred him from her heels and dresses. And one time, she did his makeup.

His father was abusive.

In every shade, in every form. He beat them both black and blue one night.

In truths that she learned,

Or in times that he cried

He'd come home and found Hawley laughing with his mother, swatching purples and reds on the others lips.

She ran with him, and everything was fine until she got sick.

Just regular eating you up from within sick. A cancer.

In bridges he burned

Or the way that she died

A month after she was laid in earth he'd gone into her closet, seeking closeness and had pulled out one of her dresses. Her favourite one. His too. He'd kept wearing makeup and dressing as he pleased while she lived. But now he put on his mother's dress and felt close to her and to himself at once. Happy.

Its time now, to sing out

Though the story never ends

He knew his mother would always love him, no matter what who, how, he was. He was going to honour her memory and his own life now, embracing all parts of himself fully.

He put on his favourite red, and lightly dusted blush on his cheeks. He smiled, seeing his mother looking at him with loving eyes over his shoulder in the reflection. He twirled his golden locks hair around a finger and turned this way and that before reaching for a razor, giving himself a nice clean shave.

He walked how he liked. Some days jeans and turtleneck and his drum.

Some nights in patterned tights and a colourful patched together denim jacket and green skirt and blouse.

One day drumming, singing his stories the way he did for money, Two women and a girl in a wheel chair walked by and listened.

Let's celebrate

Remember a year in the life of friends

Though he'd doubted they could afford it, they'd tipped generously into his jar and the girl had beamed at him, asking questions about how long he'd been drumming, how'd he learn to rhyme that way.

Remember the, love

"That's my daughter," One spoke up. She had beautiful cheekbones and a full red pout that he was instantly admiring and envious of. "Macey's curious about everything. I hope she never learns too much about the world to regret it."

Remember the, love

"What's your name sweetie?" He'd asked.

"Cynthia, Cynthia Irving, and this is Abbie,"

Beside her, a shorter beautiful pixie creature with fire in her eyes, a nervous twitching and rubbing of her arms even though her eyes were bright and keen and her smile stretched wide.

Remember the, love

They were both too beautiful to be out here, he'd thought---because there was something of the world on them. Something of the street. Of rough handling by life itself. "Hi." Abbie had waved, and taking in his colourful attire had smiled, "I like your style"

"Thank you," he laughed, pleased.

Measure in love

"You….you done working?" Cynthia asked. "We,we just got some food, if you wanna come up?"

"My names Hawley." he chimed.

"Come with us we got too much anyway," Macey encouraged. Hawley's gotten himself in plenty of trouble for a long time being a little too gungho to trust.

Measure, measure your life in love

He certainly was too eager with his last partner, and boy does he have something to show for it now. It's a matter of time before it rears its ugly head he's sure----but for now, he's got to hope, to believe in something.

Seasons of,

love

He decides to believe in these three women. Macey who takes his bucket in her lap and Cynthia and Abbie who each link one of their arms through his as they continue down the street.

Seasons,

of,

Love

Chapter Text

Two Years Later.

Now


 

A bass. A groove.

Footfalls. Those designer Armani, Forbes 100 type slick shiny toffee fade loafers coming down tile. Adjust cufflinks, straighten the silk knotted diamond pattern tie. Crisp collars. Sleek tailored lines. Smooth the hair. One soft little black waves with the trim sharp turns the corner of jaw goatee. The other dark spikes and the level black brows sitting atop piercing eyes. Predatory. Into step. Finely tuned machine. They could do this dance in their sleep. Out of one meeting into another. Swagger.

Work, work, work, work, work, work.

Deadlines, contracts. Sign off, sign off. Construction plans. 

He said me have to

Work, work, work, work, work, work.

"Good work today Reynolds." Luke turns off in the hallway, calling it an early night.

Danny Reynolds leaves half an hour later. Gathers his files, briefcase,  flings his jacket casually over his arm as he takes the elevator downstairs. They grew fast. They got the right investors, launched the right projects. They've just upgraded to this new office, six months ago and expect to continue building an empire from here. But for what they've done in two years? Hell, he'll take it.

It, and the nice Buick and the condo he's got on the other side of town.

Sleepy Hollow used to be a suburb. Quiet, drowsy, small town, small minded. But for  years it's streets have been darkening as they erect high rises and warehouses and develop and update it to a place that can keep up with the economy and demands of today. There are places where it's still untouched and untroubled, sure. Still carries some of its history and state appeal. But it's only a matter of time before the tried and true things must bow to the future hurtling fast towards them.

Danny is that future, him and Luke Morales, they head Bourgeois. They repurpose land, they see the needs and  fill in gaps and they're good at it. They signed off on the demolition of a dilapidated rec centre just last month, installing a high end gym experience instead. Sure there are still classes for the kids and drop in activities. Sure, some of them are a bit more specified and pricier than they had been before. That's life, that's progress.

The new generation is expected to have upwards of two to three extracurriculars and hold a top average to be considered a decent candidate for post secondary. Those sorts of expectations are more expensive. They put the crush on parents, of course, trying to keep roofs over head, and still fund these actives that might, help secure a future for their children. Everyone has to make a living. Instructors and skill based fields needs more to make a living. It all trickles down.

It's not up to these CEOS to figure out the citizens pockets. They do their job. And they're rather proud to see so much growth and change happening at their hands. For the most part, Sleepy Hollow seems to be flourishing. It's the further parts, still untouched by change, that struggle to get along.

It's not often that Danny has to think of it, only every now and again, it corners him in the company parking lot. It comes to him with curly hair hanging over shoulders and eyes wide and flash bulb smile, there and gone and shuddering beneath an oversized shirt.

He see me do me

dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt.

So me put in

Work, work, work, work, work, work.

He can't help that he fills with dread and excitement at the sight of her. That part of him remembers how once she begged him to crowd her against the wall and keep her warm. All over. How she'd clutched and clung to him, fingers burrowing into his shoulders, sweat beading on her skin and open warm mouths, questing and searching.

When you are gon

learn, learn, learn, learn, learn

Me no care if him

Work, work, work, work, work, work.

But she was gone right after it happened.

Me no care if him

hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurting

He was half undressed. He set her down, turned to tuck himself back in and she had slipped away out the stair well, darting through the parking lot and away. And his back pocket was lighter for it.

Dry

Me ah desert him

She'd lifted his wallet. Credit and bank cards he'd had to have replaced. Sense would make anyone else wary of the distraction she poses but he still aches for her.

No time to have you lurking

He's tried  to tell her that if its money she needs, a home she wants, he would give her one. She's heard it plenty by now from them both.

him ah go act like he don't like it

But she doesn't stay. She never stays.

"Abbie," he calls warily.

She leans up off the car and tucks a strand behind her ear. "Hey Danny. "

"What are you doing here Abs,"

"Here to see you," she entreats.

"Abs."

"You're doing well here, eh? I like this car, it new?"

"You need a ride somewhere?"

She smirks in a way that deliberately hints at something else.

You know I dealt with you the nicest

Abbie's always had an allure to her. But since…..since her turn to drugs, leaving the company, since she left their company----she's developed an ease at wielding it that alarms him. Not for the least of which being he is absolutely powerless against it. She's sultry and playful and she could manipulate him into anything. Hurt him too, if their conversations don't go they way she wants. If she's in a bad mood. He's not sure that good moods ever hold sway over her very long.

"You know what," Danny throws his hands in the air and beeps the car, getting the door. "Just hop in, I'll drop you wherever---"

She watches him and then glances down at her feet.

"Abbie?"

"I, I was wondering if you'd just like to talk, actually."

He knows how just talking ends.

Missing bills or the whole wallet. Or worse are the times when he drops her off at the grocery---because it's cold, it's late to walk by herself---but he watches her from his rear view mirror, as she ducks down the alley nearby instead, and when she emerges, spots his car idling, waiting for her and hustles in the opposite direction. He'd tried stopping her once and she'd gone into a rage trying to hide what she'd bought down the alley.

Nobody touch me, you no righteous.

She'd kindly reminded him, it had been him and Morales who'd asked if she'd like to try the white powder that night when she was freshly grieving and needed escape.

Viciously pointed out that they'd let her go from her job, quickly, quietly--"Company image, Abbie"--with severance money she blew through and otherwise washed their hands of her.

They stopped trying to drop in and check up on her when her new path was clear to them. And she'd moved without telling them. There was that too.

Nobody text me in a crisis.

They'd never forgotten, her though. He wanted to help her, they both did. But Abbie also understood in a way that a condition of their help, was that they'd get her.

She could give of herself to get what she wanted.

She wasn't ready to give herself for what they wanted.

I believed all of your dreams adoration

Once, a flicker between her and Danny had hinted they might want the same things. He had whispered once, that given the chance one day, he'd open a studio, a place him and his friends, and "You too Abbie because that voice" they'd work together. She'd believed in that dream.

Abbie had believed in so many things before her foundation was rocked.

you took my heart and my keys and my patience

you took my heart on my sleeve for decoration

you mistaken my love I brought for you for foundation

"Just talk" he repeats dubiously and shakes his head. "Oh boy. I'm not up to it tonight Abbie I'm really not. So, just, tell me what you need, alright? Here." He digs in his wallet, shuffling bills.

The image of it strikes her wrong, "What, no Danny, that's not what I came for."

"It's what you usually come for," he snaps.

"That's not true, last time---"

"No last time you had me drop you off so could see your dealer and then bolted on me in the wrong part of  town."

"You came up, in that, wrong part of town," She points out, as if mocking him. "We were on the come up Danny, that's all. But I took a fall and you didn't look back."

"How much further can I look!" he roars, flinging his arms up helplessly. His suitcase flies open and the papers flutter down around them. "How much further can I go for you---I tried putting you in rehab, thrice, and every time I turn around, you run you don't show up for appointments I make for you--"

"You think you can be my father, Danny?"

"No---"

"My mother?---you're not equipped." She spits. "You wanna just pick me up off the street, Abbie go here, Abbie go there, and I'm just supposed to go along----well I went along with you the one time I shouldn't have and look where I am!"

There it is. The usual barb. Her weapon of choice. The knife she likes to hack at his heart with.

But he's tired. He's weary of it. "All I want is to see you sober, so shoot me."

"And all I want, all I came here for tonight is to sit with the man who used to share music with me. His little secret hobby, that use to say, I have a great bunch of friends Abbie, one day you'll meet them. I'm not good enough for them now, huh."

"No you all suit each other just fine." He retorts. It takes him a second too late to grasp what he's just said. What he implies. " You're perfect company for each other as you are, right now. You'd belong together."

"All I wanted, Danny Reynolds----was for you to remember tonight that we were friends---and not like I owe you something because you paid for my parents funeral----"

His stomach churns. "Abbie--No!-- is that what you think---"

"Not because you think I should be grateful that you don't call the police on me---" she shrugs. "Do it, Danny. You think I owe you, because you've tried to be kind. Because you helped ruin me and now you try when you can to put me back together."

Danny swallows and looks away, aggravated as he massages his jaw and blinks hard so the tears won't fall.

"You, made plenty of choices, on your own, after that night----"

"And I've been making them since and I'm fine! aren't I? Look at me I'm standing, Daniel Reynolds. Abbie Mills doesn't back down."

She's so fierce in her wrong. So easily hurt and angered in complicated ways. It's a front if he'd let her show him. She's struggling with some news and wants an old friend. 

"You made me feel, before, well all this" she gestures at the empty parking lot around them. "When Luke wasn't trying to whisper in my ear you made me feel like, like I could trust you. Always. No matter what. Guess I proved you wrong. Huh Danny?"

"Abbie----"

"I was wrong to think that you would keep, me. I was wrong to think that I could, keep, you. Foolish, as if I were a child. Believing in realities that aren't mine." she sings and his heart, there's always a piece of his heart left for Abbie to splinter. For her to press a button and feed it to the shredder.

"You wanna talk Abbie we can talk." he says at last, breaking down he leans against the car.

She shakes her head. "No, I….I don't feel like it anymore. Danny." She wasn't planning on an outburst tonight. Sometimes she just gets lonely and yes, she seeks out Danny.

She's gone to Luke a few times but Luke tends to ply her with nice looking clothes and rich food and snuggles in close. Asks her if she's sure she doesn't want to sleep in his guest bedroom.

Abbie's slept with Danny yes, sometimes a means to her end. Sometimes she's cruel with his heart. But there's still a level of care that lingers for him, even though she can't quite reconcile it with the past they share. With the invisible tally of debt she owes him for trying to help her out, hanging over head. Sometimes she just can't think straight. It helps to stay buzzed, if she doesn't have to spend too much time examining her life.

She's an in between creature these days, she knows it. Half girl, half woman and adding up to nothing. She turns to walk away from him but calls over her shoulder. "I really did just want to talk, this time." She says and continues to saunter away, humming sadly as she goes.

I was wrong to think

that you would keep

me

I was wrong to think

that I could keep,

you

Foolish,

as if I were a child

Believing in realities

that could never be mine.

I should have known, better.

You scratched the match and it struck and it burned down my life

You stayed behind watched me spiral and run and catch fire

You wait here hoping

one day I'll return

but this was never my place

why should I run here?

to you?

is it you?

Are you supposed to be home?

To you? is it you?

Are you where I, belong?

 

I was wrong to think

that you would keep

me

I was wrong to think

that I could keep,

you

Foolish,

as if I were a child

Believing in realities

that could never be mine.

I should have known, better.


 

Abbie walks home to her complex, nestled in among the arts district known as The Archives. A  seemingly forgotten part of Sleepy Hollow, a community of musicians, performers, and a few scholars who make their living there, and rent there too. Living above, around or between their unique amenities.

A gallery that sees some traction but could use more in its exhibits. A stage and auditorium where concerts can be held. Poetry readings and coffee houses. A book store. A dance studio. Tucked into a corner down a stairwell, is The Cat Scratch Club. Some nights riskier than others. With patrons that are some nights bolder than others. A bar. A restaurant.  Supply stores for the crafts. Music, paints, easels. Clothing, jewellery, handmade things. It's an oddly colourful and dark place at once. It could be vibrant, if they weren't all working to the bone and living on bare nothing trying to pay rent in the apartments so near by. The dollar just doesn't go as far as it used to anymore. Every year the rent edges and creeps higher and higher and they argue and barter and plead with landlords to buy them a little more time. But it's home. Closest thing she's got. And they're all just glad for a place to lay their heads at night.

Abbie approaches her  building. Ten floors high wrap around thing. Old, creaky. She comes up on the fire escape because she remembers the elevator's on the fritz and she likes to be in the open air as much as possible. As she goes up she can hear the mournful plink and twang of a guitar somewhere over head on the roof. When she reaches her floor she strides across and hears her boots clang and the window opens.

"There you are doll" Hawley greets, helping her swing herself in. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd willed me the place."

"Hey Hawl" she smiles, hugging him affectionately. He's casual today, in a t-shirt and jeans. Bare face.  She plasters a kiss on his cheek and feels scruff tickle her lips. "Someone needs a shave," she teases. He smiles back at her, ruffling his hair and beginning to collect his drum.

"Cynthia and Macey just went for a walk. They left back some food," he nods over to the stove. When she doesn't reply he checks over his shoulder and sees her still standing by the window. "Abbie?"

She purses her lips and shakes her head. "I went to see Danny,"

"Ooh." Hawley sits down on the arm of the couch. "And? he give you some loving?" he wheedles.

"Shut up Hawl," she snickers.

"Then what, you can talk to Nicky, always."

Biting her lip Abbie swipes at her eyes. "I didn't use to be the type of person who would just, hurt people because she could, you know?" she swallows, blinking up at the ceiling. "I don't know how I became her, and that's who I am now and…..sometimes I hurt and I just want someone else to feel it just as bad. But sometimes all I really want is love, too. Like my parents had. They had everything so long as they had each other." she sniffles. "That's not what I have with Danny, Nick. It's not what I had with Luke….they're….I care about them, I just don't seem to know how to show that without….making them think I want more. I don't know how not to use it against them, to get what I want."

"You know what that is talking," he offers sadly, extending a hand to her. She goes over and joins him, letting him curl his arm around her. She admires his nails as they push up the sleeve of her shirt. They're glittery on the index. Dotted on the ring. And all the rest a sort of fluorescent green.

"I keep asking you to do my nails," she murmurs, annoyed as she takes his hand.

"Macey too." he replies. "We'll make a day of it." He points at a scar on her arm. Fresh little dot. "It's this," he says, looking up at her beneath his blond brows. "This is what's making you do these things. This, and that one there, and there. It's making you eat people up while it devours you."

"Well somethings going to get me either way." She chokes. "I've got death and his cousin knocking at my door any minute now, one of these days---"

He wraps his arm tight around her. "Don't say it honey. Okay?" she hugs him back and notices his eyes scrunched tight. Nick has it too. he doesn't need reminding. She only heard last month.

"I'm sorry Nick, I'm sorry."

He keeps shaking his head. "We're here today, now. So let's live. This is all we get, Abbie." he whispers fiercely. When she draws back there are tears in his eyes but a ferocity in them too, an alertness. Determination. To live, survive, have it all. Nick told her once how his father hit him. She can't believe anyone would harm a boy with these pretty kind eyes. It's abominably wrong he endured that. Nick smiles, "We have to make the most of it, really, make the most. In every way we can." He nods to her jacket, the pocket where he's seen her stow her stash. "Don't waste it. Okay?" he pleads. She nods hurriedly, taking his face in her hands leaning her forehead against his. He grips back and they breathe deep before she shifts to hold him tight, gripping his shoulders.

"I…..I'll try, Nick."

He pets her hair. "Love, that's all we can really do." he pulls back and gives her a genuine warm smile. Thumbs a tear on her cheek. "Come on, let's get you food. Cynthia will murder me if you haven't eaten when she gets back"

Laughing softly Abbie bobs her head. She's still a jumble and mess and a ticking bomb lurks within her, waiting to detonate in her veins---but she has today. She has friends.

She's gotta keep fighting for what she has left.

Chapter Text

The rooftop is cold and dark. Chilled air whistles and dances through his hair, carrying on their gusts a half done tune. Aborted melody. Futile, mournful, across the district lights wink on and off. Muffled chatter and clatter clang of keys being dropped in bowls and people greeting roommates or loved ones. There's so much atmosphere here. So much grit and sorrow and still he can't seem to pull---

"Crane,"

A quick, practiced response. "Give me another half hour Abraham."

Chafing his hands together his life long best friend ambles out on the roof. "That's what you said an hour a go,"

"I mean it this time---"

"You always mean it, 'this time'" Abe friend exaggerates. "I'm sure you've brought half the district to tears if not the brink of death by now hearing you pluck those four notes, again and again---"

"---I'm just trying---"

"--To write a song!" Abe flings his arms up in the air wildly. "To write a legacy, your own eulogy set to a tune I get it! We're all dying and you wanna leave something behind, I'd believe it if I thought this song was going forward when all I watch you do is sit back, in that past, in the dark place contemplating all of the what if's you'll never answer."

"Abraham."

"You'll never, answer." His voice rises and falls all at once from a shout into a broken sob. "Living back there when you need to be here, Crane. Here."

"Abraham." he replies stubbornly, tone measured and even. "Give me half an hour."

Chest heaving Abraham dashes away the sudden onslaught of angry hurt tears and turns for the stairs before performing an about face, storming over to where Crane is and sits down determinedly beside him.

Blue eyes pass an assessing, distant, if momentarily scornful gaze on him, he can feel the heat of it, the annoyance. "I'm not going," Abraham bites out. "So make good on the half hour and then I drag you inside. With or without that guitar. Before you freeze to death out here. Cavalier jackass playing tortured artist in a ratty coat." he grumbles irritably.

Beside him, Crane continues to pick his tune, the same worried over four notes. A song that he's been labouring on for two long but refuses to be born, and lets a small smile curl his lips as Abraham continues to mutter.

"You gave me this coat," he says at length, amusement edging his tone.

"Oh I know." Abraham snorts. "And I'm living to regret it."


 

Abbie's just mopping up the soup in the bowl, Nick watching her carefully and offering a soft smile whenever their eyes meet when the lock turns and Cynthia wheels Macey in. Nose and cheeks a cheery pink.

"Temperature's dropped." Cynthia mutters, shucking off coat and kicking off her shoes. Hawley helps Macey remove her own jacket and then wheels her over to Abbie, perched on the arm of the couch like an owl.

"Hey girl," Abbie calls.

Macey grins. "Hey, went out tonight?" she queries. Abbie opens her mouth to give a rehearsed excuse. She always has one for the nights when she goes hunting for her next hit or to chat with Danny or Luke. She's gotten decent at delivering them, but tonight Cynthia seems determined to spare her the lie, ducking her head out the kitchen and raising a menacing brow her way before calling to her daughter, playfully.

"You too damn nosey." she chides and Macey ducks her head. "One day you'll be old enough to go out too, with friends, dancing, and eating. Not the boring places Abbie goes." she clucks. "Quiet, dark, morose," she exaggerates, flinging an arm dramatically across her brow, as if the places Abbie goes entertains the heartbroken, lost poetic struggling artists. "places."

Abbie's mouth quirks. The alleys are indeed that. The abandoned stairwells. The dark corners at the back of the bars, or out back behind the Cat Scratch after or before a shift. They're all of those things.

Places, not destinations. Places you end up, by circumstance, by poor decision, not anywhere you want to go. She doesn't want Macey to ever want to go, where she does. That's no where to be.

Macey wrinkles her nose at her mother, skeptic but let's it drop easily. Ever since her dad died, Cynthia's been the one shielding her, seeing everything that she shouldn't. Keeping her safe.

To tell the truth, Macey thinks that her mother's sole focus on keeping her close cousin to stable and safe is what keeps her sane.

"She's right, Macey," Abbie adds warmly. "Where I been you don't wanna go. Trifling places for someone smart like you. Don't worry about them."

Rolling her eyes Macey leans forward and Abbie leans in to receive a peck on the cheek and gives on to Hawley before turning her chair around and wheeling up to her mother who leans down and folds her arms around her, giving her big, smacking kisses that make Macey squirm. "Mom!" she calls, laughing. "Mom I'm fourteen! come on! Let go!"

"Never!"

"Hawley!" she squeals. Nick throws his hands up.

"Don't look at me honey I'm not standing between a momma bear and her cub." he beams.

At last Cynthia lets her daughter go and with a final cheerful goodnight Macey goes down the hall to her room.

The minute she's gone however the atmosphere changes. No longer the guarded jovial child friendly thing. But the disgruntled messy adults living long hard lives and "I need a drink you want one Abs? Hawl?"

"Yeah pass one 'ere" Abbie calls and Cynthia saunters out with glasses of wine offering one to Nick who politely declines. "I better not sweetie, I'm going out to drum in a bit---"

Cynthia cants her head towards the old creaky wall clock. Small wonder it still ticks. "At this hour Nicky? You can't---"

"I'll be fine. Just gonna go, freshen up a bit. Alright? Just a quick little saunter, won't be gone more than an hour." He gives them each and embrace before he gatherings his things and leaves.

Abbie downs her glass and Cynthia grimaces but then shrugs and does the same, knitting her brow and trying to contemplate exactly how much she's about to regret that decision.

Sliding off the arm of the couch into the seat Abbie nods her head "What's eating you,"

More wine is poured and Abbie takes more care to drink it slowly. Though the darkness of black out drunk calls to her. She's still raw from her encounter with Danny tonight. The look of disappointment in his eyes, the hurt, lingers in her mind. But how dare he hurt for her. How dare he when he helped her get here?

Cynthia takes a slow sip before reaching into her v neck sweater and pulling out a folded sheet, a cordial, prim thing, if not for the emblazoned red 'Eviction Notice' across the top. She chucks it at the coffee table and tousles her hair restlessly. "I'm already doing four nights at the club. You'd think that'd cover it, but by the time,"

"By time Mabie takes out money for our costumes and you pay for food and utilities, taking care of Macey's charter to school,"

Cynthia's lips crease as Abbie lists the expenses that devour her cheque.

Abbie's list isn't as long, but it eats up her money alright. Her nerves and skin too. She scratches absently at her arm.

Cynthia walks around the table to join her on the couch. "You know I been seeing one of these nearly every month for the past year? They did that rent jump and since then I've been in arrears, top of which the late charges for paying late. Last month they take my rent money and got the nerve to tell me they applied it to my arrears so my rent's still late. You believe that?"

Abbie shifts uncomfortably. She''d been late last month too, but that was because the night she lifted Danny's wallet for rent money she'd blown it on something else.

"They don't damn well even deserve it," Cynthia continues, "That heater works when it feels like it. That elevator hasn't been functioning a whole month straight in a year……I'm I'm not paying it."

Abbie snickers. "You're not?"

"No," Cynthia retorts defiantly, a small giggle bringing up the rear. "I'm not paying the creeping high, damn five star rate they want for this roach motel,"

"Hey this is our roach motel," Abbie counters brazenly, rising to her feet, glass held above her head. 

The other woman rises too, clinking their glasses together. "And for that same reason, Abbie, I'm not paying the rent!" she thrills and then remembers Macey sleeping down the hall and covers her mouth, eyes wide as she contains her chuckles. "This our dump. Our haven for misfits. This is our place, we own it. So."

"We're not gonna pay?" Abbie's eyes twinkle.

"We're not gonna pay,"


 

When he finally hauls Crane inside he brandishes the eviction notice before his eyes. Crane's eyes cross over it at such close proximity before snatching it out of Abe's hands and holding it away from him where he can read properly. " Friggin Hell."

Abe gives Crane a knowing look as he rifles through a haunting mounting pile of bills. They've been paying what they can, but not in full. His mouth twists as his eyes land on his camera, wondering if for once and for all he better sell the dream to keep a roof over his head. Or at least a quarter of one.

How do you document real life

when real life is getting more like fiction each day

headlines----bread-lines

blow my mind

and now this deadline

eviction--or pay

Rent

"By the way, Riggs says he's back in town, should be up soon, I think."

Crane's brows are knit, calling up to mind the last figure the bank machine had shown him for balances, if there was anything to be salvaged there. He casts his gaze on the guitar he's just set by the door. The same four notes that he had been labouring over come back to his head like a haunting little music box chiming a sort of death toll. No money to be had in that. He grouses. His last gig had barely covered food.

How do you write a song

when the chords sound wrong

though they once sounded right and rare

when the notes are sour

where is the power

you once had to ignite the air

and we're hungry and frozen

some life that we've chosen

how we gonna pay

how we gonna pay

how we gonna pay

last year's rent

"I don't know, Abraham." He runs a hand through his hair. "I just don't see how." the room blinkers suddenly, growing dim and then bright before sputtering out entirely to dark." he curses fluently. "Damnit!"

Abe produces a lighter and grimaces.

we light candles


 

Downstairs Abbie and Cynthia frown at the sudden darkness, draining their glasses they  fumble for a candles and flashlights.

how do you start a fire

when there's nothing to burn

and it feels like something's stuck in your flue

how can you generate heat

when you can't feel your feet

and they're turning blue!

"Fine night for this to start," Cynthia chatters. "Temperature drops, lights go out. Fan-freaking-tastic."

Abbie eyes the sensible woman and can't help but crack up.

"Shut up Abbie," she returns but she begins to laugh helplessly too. "We're gonna freeze tonight." She groans.

Abbie grimaces and glances around at Cynthia's mountain of notebooks, unfinished ideas for scripts and notes that have long been abandoned in  the past year.

Cynthia catches her eye and heaves a sigh. "Well it's not doing much good there huh. Least it can do is be useful and burn. Bring that trash can."


 

You light up a mean blaze

with posters

and screenplays

"Well, that got rejected five times anyway" Abe huffs as he grasps his last script and holds it over the flame before dropping it in the trash bin.

how we gonna pay

how we gonna pay

how we gonna pay

last year's rent


 

Outside, Hawley drums. He put on his lipstick, his skirt and jacket. He raps and sings as he bangs the beat and flashes a smile at a handsome man with a cap pulled low on his brow as he walks by. The man smiles back, eyes warm and smile genuinely a little crooked but sweet. He doubles back to flip Nick a bill, winking, before he turns the corner out of sight. Nick's face flushes a bit watching him go, already smitten before he hears a commotion down the alley. His stomach falls.

how do you stay on your feet

when on every street

it's trick or treat

and tonight its trick

welcome back to town

oh, i should lie down

everything's brown

and uh-oh

i feel sick

Calvin Riggs hadn't known he'd been followed but the thugs berated him for shilling out money to a street performer and not having enough left to share with them. Shook him down, took his already light wallet and then boxed him and kicked him to the ground, curling up on him self coughing blood. He didn't need that tooth anyway he's sure.


 

Abe glances away from the blaze he's started in their apartment and out the window, to the now darkened Archives district, hearing the rising clamour of disgruntled fed up voices of the tenants. Other little sweeping beams of light and crackle sparks of fire illuminating windows and some crossing to the courtyard below to start a joint bon fire.  He frowns. "Riggs should be here by now…."

Where is he


 

When Nick rounds the corner it's just after the men have left. "Oh my God," he hisses, kneeling at Calvin's side. "Hey, hey, honey, can you hear me? You alright?"

getting dizzy

With some effort Nick staggers to his feet, baring the weight of Riggs. "I've got you okay? Hang on."

how we gonna pay

how we gonna pay

how we gonna pay

last year's rent


 

Crane's shut down. Staring at the fire from his spot on the couch, tearing sheet after sheet from his songbook, all unfinished things, and tearing them swiftly down the middle to add to the blaze. A cheerful chirp sounds. Abe's phone.

"Hello Kat? your equipment won't work? okay, calm down, it's the whole district. I'll be there"

How do you leave the past behind when it keeps finding ways to get to your heart

it reaches way down deep and tears you inside you

till you're torn apart

Rent!


 

"Hey, they're doing a bonfire downstairs." Abbie calls.

Cynthia strolls out to the fire escape to watch. "If we burned the place down they couldn't evict us," she drawls darkly. "But I can't afford better, can barely stay here." she shakes her head, suddenly weary. "Damn them." She takes the notice and let's it rip from her fingers, watching it flutter down down, down, catching embers as it joins the fire below. Across the buildings, more notices rain down. People yelling their frustrations, others cheerfully proclaiming their defiance.

how can you connect in an age

where strangers, landlords, lovers

your own blood cells betray

what binds the fabric together

when the raging shifting winds of change

keep ripping away

"I'm going down," Abbie announces.

"Be careful."


 

Alone in the apartment with nothing but the crackle snap of song sheets and Abe's sacrificed screen plays Crane finds himself craving air, space. He drags himself to the balcony and looks down at the beautiful chaos of it all. The anger that'll be snuffed out come morning.

we're not gonna pay

we're not gonna pay

we're not gonna pay

last year's rent

Somewhere below in the crowd, a dark pixie, with her brown waves and soulful eyes. Where has he seen those before---revels in the bit of destruction, laughing and flinging her arms wide. She looks up at the building and he swears her eyes latch onto his.

She sees him.

this year's rent

next year's rent

The feeling of being watched makes Abbie turn around. It should be impossible to track blue eyes in the darkness, with the red and gold fury and darkened shadows all around.

rent rent rent rent rent!

we're not gonna pay rent.

He sees her.

Cause everything is RENT!!!