by Bobbi

Rated PG-13

These characters are not my own, they belong to the creator and crew of the highly underrated television sitcom, NewsRadio. Also, the songs mentioned in this story are accredited to the band Barenaked Ladies, from their album "Stunt."

I am only 15 years of age and I wrote this to meet a deadline for an English assignment so please disregard grammar errors. Also I want to apologize, I have taken many ideas from others on this site especially Beth C. "Call and Answer," sorry Beth. Any feedback, good or bad, is appreciated.

"Alcohol, my permanent accessory
Alcohol, a party-time necessity
Alcohol, alternative to feeling like yourself
O Alcohol, I still drink to your health."

Dave lethargically mumbled the familiar and oddly ironic song lyrics as he stared at the tall clear bottle and multicolored pills that lie on the coffee table before him. He wondered what he had become and how he had gotten here, though he knew he had not changed too much for the bottle set on a coaster and the pills were color coordinated and placed neatly in order of strength. Thoughts of the past year slowly crept through his clouded mind. First, the untimely death of his dear friend Bill McNeal, followed soon after by the death of his own father. Then, Lisa's marriage to a convict, and her decision to completely disassociate herself with Dave by moving far from him. All of Dave's close, meaningful relationships had crumbled.

Dave often thought of the past, and tried to justify his new lifestyle through all his shortcomings, though he objected to everything about it. He worked too hard, drank too much, and popped pills hourly. He found it difficult to understand how he could resort to this. He had always hated taking medications of any kind, and abhorred the bottle, too. The taste and just the mere act of indulging one's self in a mind-altering substance bothered him immensely. But he had grown accustomed to the money associated with overtime, the heaviness that was lifted when consuming the white, blue, and yellow pills. The burn of his lips as he took liberal shots of vodka, which depleted the coldness he felt inside, by the stiff drink's instant heat.

"I love you more than I did the week before
I discovered alcohol."

Dave softly sang as he thought of Lisa, the girl he thought he wanted to marry. She was perfect, had a great personality; an overachiever, intelligent, humorous, and quick witted. She was beautiful too, he loved her long brown hair, strong chin, soft face, petite body and subtle New Jersey accent that was only really apparent when she raised her voice. "Don't call her, don't call her," he repeated to himself. His hand trembling, he picked up the phone but quickly replaced it.

In a drunken haze, he moved the needle across the black spinning disk to the next song.

"I think it's getting to the point where I can be myself again.
It's getting to the point where we have almost made amends.
I think it's getting to the point that is the hardest past."

He laid back in his chair, only to jolt forward seconds later holding his stomach, his muscle cramps had returned. He counted the hours that had passed since he had taken his last cocktail of pills, he hadn't lasted as long this time compared to the last. He peered over at the table to select his "weapon of choice" to decrease the pain. Finally deciding, he quickly scooped up all the pills and forced them in his mouth, then downed them all with a shot.

The effects came quickly and were extremely intense, the continued revolutions of the record player drowned out Dave's inaudible murmurs caused by his drug induced dreams.

"Now I lay me down not to sleep
I just get tangled in the sheets
I swim in sweat three inches deep
I just lay back and claim defeat...

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts in that I won't sleep
I countdown, I look around."

Matthew rapped lightly at Dave's apartment door, but to his dismay there wasn't an answer. "David, David?" Worry was evident in his squeaky voice. He found it extremely odd that David would miss work without calling in advance, especially lately. He slowly let himself into the small, plain, but well-organized apartment, all except the mess on the coffee table and the heap of clothes on the floor. As Matthew cautiously crossed the room, he noticed pictures of David and Lisa, he noted the bright smile on David's face that was forgotten, until now. As Matthew turned from the pictures it was evident the pile of clothing on the floor encased the hollowed body of his confidant. He found his pale, thin hand and stumbled around his childlike wrist for a pulse. Finding what he thought to be a faint one, he backed away, falling over David's black leather couch. Hands shaking uncontrollably, with adrenaline pumping, he fumbled around the numbers on the phone desperately trying to punch out those three, life-saving digits.

"and if you call, I will answer
and if you fall, I'll pick you up
and if you court this disaster
I'll point you home."

Lisa sat on her porch in the early morning hours sipping coffee and looking over a new piece she wrote on social reform, but finding it difficult to concentrate. The wind blew lightly, moving her hair to the side covering one eye. She ran her fingers through her hair trying to replace her usual part, and brushing back the memories of Dave who loved her hair to the side. It had been a while since she thought of him in the regard of an ex-lover, only an old friend, but when the wind blew she swore she could still catch the smell of his crisp cologne. She envisioned him sneaking behind and wrapping his loving arms around her waist. She could see his every move, his body language, even the expressions of happiness on his face. As she would stand to face him, his lips would lightly touch her cheek moving slowly to her mouth with a gentle force which would increase when he realizes she had returned his kiss. He would hold her face in his hands to catch the tears that would be falling from her big brown eyes, and wipe them dry.

She reluctantly waved the thoughts from her mind. She will always love Dave, but an intimate relationship with him now is inconceivable. The time they shared together was over, she made the biggest mistake of her life when leaving Dave for another man who manipulated and used her. Now she was sure Dave would never want her back, even though the divorce from Johnny became finalized the previous week. This brought a sense of sorrow because she was all alone once again, but relief as she ended that terrible chapter of her life, and hope, as she thought of establishing a new chapter.

"You think I only think about you when we're both in the same room
You think I'm only here to witness the remains of love exhumed
You think we're here to play a game of who loves more than whom."

This new chapter would be delayed when seconds later she received a frantic call from the past, Matthew. He explained that Dave was in the ICU due to what was suspected, a suicide attempt... she heard no other words as she sunk to the floor, the phone dropped to her side. She was dazed and in shock for what seemed an eternity, until a sorrowful cry filled the room and pain, her chest. She did her best to dry her tearstained face and picked up the phone...

"and if you call, I will answer
and if you fall, I'll pick you up
and if you court this disaster
I'll point you home."

Light slowly filled Dave's eyes, worsening his headache, and bringing a failed attempt to bring his arm up to shield his eyes. Soon his eyes began to focus, florescent lighting above him, IV bags beside him, and rhythmic beeping all around, it quickly became apparent where he was, and that his attempt to end it all, had failed. He tried to raise his head, he thought he could feel another person's presence, pain filled his neck, he was too weak to move. He could hear movement then he felt a warm hand in his, which he recognized immediately. Soon he saw her face above his, she was stunning, though she looked so sad, her eyes were bloodshot and puffy. He tried desperately to say something to comfort her, he hated when she hurt, he wanted to reassure her, find out who hurt her and make them stop.

Lisa quickly tried to explain that a tube in his throat that aided his breathing, inhibited his speech, but she assured him the tube would be removed soon. A man in a white coat who, Dave assumed was the doctor, stood beside his bed, and checked Dave's vitals. The doctor also explained how he had gotten there, who brought him, and the condition he was in.

Dave tried to take it all in, but his mind was fogged and it was difficult to understand everything. He still felt resentment toward Lisa, and wondered why she was there, won't her husband be upset that she left to see an ex-boyfriend? He didn't want her to see him in this state, to leave himself vulnerable to her scrutiny, to allow her to know how much he hurt when she left him. Thoughts flooded his mind as he drifted off again.

"You think it's only fair to do what's best for you and you alone
You think it's only fair to do the same to me when you're not home
I think it's time to make this something that is more than fair."

Lisa watched his eyes flutter as he slept. He looked so sick, the hospital gown gave the illusion that he was a small child wearing his father's t-shirt. She contemplated leaving, though she wanted to stay forever, she worried he hated her for leaving him. She wanted more than anything for him to love her again, for him to allow her to take care of him. Tears streamed down her face, she couldn't take seeing Dave like this.

Dave awoke for the second time. He didn't have the tube though, which made breathing on his own exhausting, but he was thankful, now he could speak.

Lisa saw that Dave was awake again and raised his bed so his eyes met hers. For a brief moment he smiled, sickness wasn't so apparent, and his boyish face returned.

"Hello, Lisa," his voice was gruff and weak. Lisa walked over and clasped his hand tighter in hers. Despite his lasting anger toward her, tears welled up in his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to just be with her again. Lisa didn't know what to say, so she kissed him on the cheek. She looked up into his eyes. A passion that was dead in both of them for so long flickered. She kissed him lightly on the mouth out of impulse. Dave's lips burned, his hand raised and caressed her cheek, then, IV line and all, he took hold of her waist. She was relieved to finally feel his lips against hers again. Soon, that passion aroused moments earlier burned with intensity. Lisa hesitated, still not sure of Dave's strength, but that worry soon vanished as she felt him pull her close against himself. She was practically on top of Dave now, the side rail on the hospital bed and their clothing was the only thing keeping their bodies from becoming one. The moment, however, ended as quickly as it had started. Dave winced and pulled his body inward as his cramps had returned.

Realization came back to Lisa, Dave was an addict and this wasn't what was best for him. "I'll go get the doctor" she said as she pried herself away from his love. Tears welled up in her eyes as she quickly left the room. Dave needed help; he didn't need this, not now. He didn't need her.

Dave lied in disbelief. Inside, Dave's whole world was crumbling down in front of his eyes. He felt numb to all feeling, except for a pain that washed over him, every time he looked at Lisa and imagined the life they could have had together. It hurt so much, how could he remain mad at her.

What had she been thinking that night when they broke up? Why had she let him go? So many questions, so many answers, it was all so frustrating. Here she had come so close to getting what she wanted, only to deny it. She had seen the look on his face. She knew that he wanted to kiss her, she wanted to kiss him too. But she was still so unsure about her feelings for him and his feelings for her.

As the days passed Dave's strength returned, however, so did the withdrawal symptoms. He would be released from the hospital soon, and detoxification was suggested to him.

Dave awoke to see Lisa packing his things, today was the day he could go home. She peered over at him, both had smiles, but their eyes were saddened, they knew their time together was almost over. Through Dave's stay at the hospital Lisa never left his side, and they caught up on old times and became close friends once again, but avoided speaking about what almost happened days earlier and if they wanted to begin an intimate relationship. She raised his bed and helped him dress and shave because he was still weak and his shakes and cramps were back.

Lisa inquired about NA and AA. Dave shot her a offended look, but knew it would be the best thing for himself right now. Lisa knew this was a very important decision Dave would have to make on his own. Dave was unsure if he wanted to take this step and if it was worth it, when he returned back to his old life would it be the same depressing situation that sent him over the edge to begin with? Would Lisa go back home and call often, then occasionally, then not at all, as she resumed her own life? This frightened him, he rejected the programs in hopes that Lisa would stay and help him through it all.

"So if you call, I will answer
and if you fall, I'll pick you up
and if you court this disaster
I'll point you home."

Lisa knew that if she stayed she would do nothing but hurt him more, he needed to help himself. She helped Dave go home, unpack, and get reacquainted with life again, then she left. She boarded the plane that would take her back home, she cried the entire trip, she felt like she abandoned him, but what else could she do?

"But I'm warning you, don't ever do those crazy, messed-up things that you do
If you ever do,
I promise you
I'll be the first to crucify you
Now it's time to prove that you've come back here to rebuild."

Lisa sat on her front porch overlooking a beautiful field. With pen in hand, she edited her new article on the new laws passed concerning Medicaid. Again, only partly concentrating on the work at hand, thinking about Dave who she had not heard from since she left weeks prior. She would call and leave messages apologizing for leaving, but none were returned, she knew she should have stayed and helped Dave. It was getting colder now and the wind, stronger. Again, she smelled his cologne. About that time, she felt those loving arms embrace her waist from behind. She stood to greet Dave, tears fell freely from her eyes. Dave held her close and smiled with tears in his eyes, he held her beautiful face and wiped it dry and kissed her forehead and whispered, "Thank you" in her ear. He knelt down on one knee and reached deep in his pocket, pulling out a velvet black box. He opened, it revealing a gorgeous diamond ring. Lisa, without hesitation, murmured her answer, "Yes." He once again embraced her. As he held her close, she could feel that his strength was returning, and his eyes were bright blue like the ocean waters. She knew what he did for her, what he did for himself.

Years passed, Dave sat in the small blue room of their home and held the most priceless possession and greatest gift Lisa had ever given him. He sang...

"With life just begun, my sleeping new son..."

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