Jonne closed his eyes against the hot tears that streamed down his face, willing the pain to stop squeezing his heart like a vice. No, no, no!!! This is *not* how it's supposed to be! He's supposed to be my best friend!!!

Suddenly it seemed like no matter what he did, he couldn't get warm enough. His arms wrapped around himself and he felt a shudder run through him. And then he was sick, so sick that he had to run to the bathroom and empty his stomach into the toilet, tears continuing to fall as he retched over and over and over again, gasping for air. Finally his spasms calmed and he leaned back against the wall, shutting his eyes.

He can't be using again! He *can't*! Lauri promised me he'd never touch that stuff, no matter *what* Kristian did! Kristian was always the crazy one. I might've expected this from him. But not from Lauri. And now they're *both* using. He said he just got "caught up". Fucking "caught up"!!! I hate that shit!!! I hate it and I want whoever invented it to rot in hell!!! Along with whoever sold it to MY Lauri and MY Kristian. They were supposed to be MINE. MY best friends! Fuck. What am I supposed to do without them? We were *supposed* to be a team! Triple Trouble, almost. So much for that. I feel like I'm living in hell.

Then he heard a sound, a sound that made his skin crawl. The sound of Lauri knocking at his door, the sound of the other man's voice calling to him from outside. He had to lean over the toilet as he felt his stomach lurch again.

Once he had recovered, Jonne went straight to the bed and crawled under the covers, sobbing, pulling the covers over his head. He could hear Lauri still knocking, saying he wanted to apologize. I'll tell him where he can shove his apology. NO. I'm going to ignore him until he goes away. But.. FUCK! I forgot I gave him a room key! No, no, no! This isn't happening!

As Lauri entered, Jonne turned his back to the door, pulling the covers tight around him so that he was nothing more than what looked like large bump in the bed. A shaking bump, because he was sobbing still. And if Lauri touched him, he was going to break down even more. Don't touch me, don't speak to me, don't...



Lauri reached for Jonne, putting a gentle, tentative hand on the curled-up rise in the covers. But Jonne flinched away from him.

"Don't touch me!!!"

He tried again, this time tucking the covers back a little, putting his hand on Jonne's bare back.

The blonde turned and looked at him, tearful eyes flashing with anger - which Lauri knew was only there to cover the hurt and betrayal his friend was feeling - teeth gritted as he tugged the covers back over his head.


Okay, maybe that had been a little harsh. But Lauri knew - even through the cloud of the heroin - that he deserved much worse. He had made a promise to Jonne, and he had broken it. And not only had he broken it, now he was putting Jonne's dream - everything he'd ever wanted, everything he'd ever worked for - on the line. If anything, Jonne had been much too easy on him.

This time, there was no tentativeness in Lauri as he walked around to the other side of the bed and climbed in next to Jonne. And this time, the slightly younger man did not resist or pull away; instead he clung desperately to Lauri, a torrent of tears staining innocent, pale cheeks. He sobbed pitifully as he buried his face in those soft curls of Lauri's that he loved so much, his fingers pulling at them a little. But Lauri didn't mind - he barely felt it, anyway - he was just glad that Jonne wasn't pushing him away.

"I-I... l-love... you... L-Lauri..." Jonne sniffled finally, having to take deep, gasping breaths to get his words out and hardly understandable because of how upset he was.

"I love you too, Jonne," Lauri said quietly, still holding him close, pressing a kiss on his temple.

"Then... why, Lauri?" Jonne asked in such a small voice that Lauri wondered if he had really even spoken, if maybe it was just his guilty conscience making him imagine things.

"What?" the curly-haired guitarist asked softly.

This time, Jonne's voice was a bit firmer and steadier as he repeated the word. "Why?"

Lauri thought to protest - to play innocent - but not with that look in Jonne's eyes, not with those tears rolling down his cheeks, not with him this upset; he couldn't. "I... I don't know," he said finally.

"That's not good enough. I need to know why," came Jonne's whispered reply.

Lauri paused for a long time, thinking, considering how he would answer. Even high, he knew it was a question not to be answered quickly nor taken lightly. "Because it feels good," answered Lauri, his tone honest, open. There was no use in lying to Jonne, coming up with some excuse. He knew the blonde would not believe any lie or excuse he came up with anyway; he knew him so much better than that.

"Because it feels good," Jonne repeated, his tone dead, flat. "It feels good enough to break your promise?"

Lauri fidgeted nervously, looking down at the blanket. "Jonne... I... I just need one more hit, and then I'll stop."

One more hit. Right. A deep, cold, bitter laugh left Jonne, one that sent chills down Lauri's spine. "Get out." The blonde was not stupid; he had easily realized that there would always be 'one more hit' and that 'one more' would never be enough. "Get out of my bed, get out of my room, get out of my LIFE!!!" And with that, he shoved Lauri out of the bed with all his might. The guitarist hit the floor with a sickening thud and a little 'oompf' sound - not that he felt anything - but Jonne didn't even blink an eye. Maybe he was being cruel, but he didn't care if junkie-Lauri was dead. That was half the problem - why he was so miserable; he knew he could never appeal to Lauri as much as junk to the junkie. And that was what made him sickest of all.

Lauri decided to respect Jonne's wishes; he left. But as soon as he was gone, Jonne started to cry even harder, and he wondered if that was what he had really wanted at all. But one thing he did know for certain - he wanted the old Lauri back. Even if Lauri hated him, even if they never spoke... Just to look across the stage and see that familiar guitarist-twinkle in Lauri's eyes would be more than enough. Not these dead, glassy, zombie-like eyes with tiny pupils. He was so sick of looking into those eyes. He felt like Lauri wasn't even looking back at him sometimes - not really. Not the real Lauri. Only this poisoned, dilluted version of the man he loved so much; his best friend.

And it wasn't as if he had been naive to this before; he had known it was going on, he had just chosen to deny it to himself. But to catch Lauri in the act... That had driven him to the breaking point. The thought occured to him that maybe things would be less painful for him if Lauri actually were dead. He toyed with the idea, though he knew in his heart that that would only make things worse, make him more miserable; he couldn't live without his best friend, whom - still, even through it all - he loved more than his own life. Dope or no dope, he knew that he just wanted to love Lauri and take care of him, even though that became exceedingly harder in times like these. Maybe that was what frustrated him.

Jonne also knew, though, that he needed to talk to his brother Tommi - their manager - about things. He knew that Tommi also was not blind to Lauri's behavior and especially not to Kristian's. The two of them were starting to become a liability - as much as Jonne hated himself for even thinking that thought - and at this point he really had no idea what to do. But if anyone would know, it would be Tommi. And he could only hope his older, wiser brother would have some kind of solution to 'save' his two best friends. Tommi always had a solution, no matter what the problem, and was an expert at cleaning up extremely messy situations; more than once he had kept the prying eyes of the press and fans away from things they did not need to see. If Tommi couldn't help, Jonne was sure his two bandmates were a completely lost cause. All he could do was cross his fingers, close his eyes, and hope that sleep would carry him away from this nightmare soon enough - and better sooner than later.

But then, unexplainably, as if his body was acting on its own, Jonne found himself climbing out of bed and padding down the hallway to Lauri's room, eyes on the overdone, floral hotel carpet. He was unable to believe himself, what he was doing, but he guessed somehow he couldn't allow himself to sleep with this on his conscience, without being sure that Lauri was alright. And besides that, he needed him; needed his best friend. He needed to touch him, to hold him, to be in his arms and be held by him, high or not, junkie or not. He was still his Lauri, and Jonne knew that there was still some humanity in him, even if it was buried so deep that he was the only one who could see it.

And suddenly Jonne found himself outside Lauri's door, wearing only his jeans - shirtless and shoeless - and shivering from cold, quickly knocking, and to his own surprise that was no hesitation in his knocking or in his voice when he called out to Lauri, even though he did sound a little sad and small. "Lauri, it's me."

Immediately he heard movement from within, almost as if Lauri were expecting him. It took the other man a moment, but he opened the door, and as soon as Jonne saw him he could tell he'd been crying. This only proved his humanity to the singer even more.

The two of them just stood there for a moment, neither of them saying a word, Lauri just holding his arms out for Jonne and Jonne wasting no time in crawling into them. The guitarist knew exactly what Jonne needed and exactly what to do to save him; even now he was Jonne's hero. Jonne wondered if Lauri knew that? Lauri'd been his hero for quite some time, possibly from the first moment that he'd seen him - before he was 'Larry Love', Mr. Rockstar, back when he was still just Lauri with short, strawberry-blonde curls and the dream of being a superstar. He guessed maybe that was part of the reason it was so devastating, so heartbreaking to catch Lauri with that needle in his arm. Could he forgive him? Jonne didn't know. But could Lauri sincerely be sorry? That was the real question, and one Jonne also didn't have the answer to. He didn't think even Lauri did.

Now more than ever, Jonne found himself praying that if there was a god, he would give him his Lauri back. That if there was any fairness or justice in the world, things could just go back to normal, if only for a second. Just let him get clean. But for now, Jonne guessed those tears in Lauri's eyes were a start, weren't they? A step in the right direction. Not only did it show his humanity, it showed that somewhere inside him, he was sincerely sorry. And that made Jonne wrap his arms around him tighter.

"I love you, Jonne," Lauri whispered, and part of Jonne wanted to crawl out of his skin, while the other part - the majority of him - wanted to squeeze him even tighter. It made Jonne so ill that he could taste the sickness in his throat, but at the same time he couldn't get close enough. 'Hold me,' he wanted to say, to beg him. 'Hold me until the fucking world ends.' Just him and his Lauri and this desperation. Had they really taken it this far? Had they really let it get this bad? Had Lauri really chosen to do this to Jonne? Well, best friends forever is what Jonne had promised, and even if Lauri had broken his promise, Jonne decided that he was keeping his vow.

"You're still my best friend, Lauri. Even if you choose to do this to me," he found himself whispering pitifully into a mass of delicious-smelling curls. Jonne loved the smell of Lauri's hair, and he could never find anything in his cologne or his shampoo that smelled even remotely like it; eventually he had just pinned it down to being Lauri's own unique natural scent one night while lying in bed with him, twirling curls around his finger. The thought made him smile through his tears and suddenly he realized that he had ended up in Lauri's bed cuddled up next to him, though how or when that had happened he could not have told you if you had asked. He had just been so lost in his own thoughts that he hadn't noticed, he guessed. "I hate myself for saying it, but I'll love you no matter what," he told Lauri.

Lauri swallowed hard past the lump in his throat, tears spilling over and down his own cheeks, one by one. He could feel pain even past the numbness of the heroin, an emotional pain that he swore made him physically ache, an ache that hurt worse that anything he'd ever felt. When he spoke finally, his voice was so small and strained he couldn't believe it himself. "W... will you... help me?"

Jonne's heart melted and he started to kiss Lauri's face, neck - anywhere he could reach - finally settling on his lips, kissing him - as they sometimes did when they were in private - needing the the comfort and warmth of that connection. "God yes, I'll help you," he finally gasped out, quickly going back to kissing Lauri, needily, urgently. He swore he could feel the poison draining from Lauri's veins. This was his Lauri. The taste on his tongue was his Lauri and the softness of lips was his Lauri and the tender depth of kisses was his Lauri and the sweet, almost tentative brush of tongues was his Lauri. And then the kissing was over and they just held eachother, both crying, and once tears had finally dried up they just cuddled closer, and it almost seemed neither of them could get close enough to the other.

"You should get some sleep," Jonne whispered finally, keeping his voice lowered, soft, and gentle. He didn't have to explain why - they both knew. Lauri would need his strength. The morning would bring aches and sweating and vomiting and shaking and craving and all the other horrible symptoms of withdrawl from the poison Lauri had injected himself with. But Jonne was determined to stay with him through it all, to hold Lauri's hair for him, to keep him warm... But most of all to keep him away from the junk - to rid him of it and keep him from going to Kristian for it.

Kristian - that was another matter. A possibly even more serious matter; Jonne was quite worried that Kristian might even be beyond help now. But that he would deal with later. Right now it was Lauri who needed him. A gentle kiss was placed in those beloved curls, then pressed to a soft cheek one last time.

"I'll be watching over you. I promise."

The 'real' Lauri deep inside held on to those words; they made him feel stronger and made him feel for once that he could actually beat this, slowly but surely. Those words meant more to Lauri than anything else that Jonne could've said. With newfound grit and determination, Lauri bit his tongue lightly and nodded. As long as he had Jonne by his side, he could do anything. He even fell asleep with a smile on his face.

To Be Continued.