Lean on Me
By: Manna


xOx…

She was drinking again. Drinking and getting drunk and there was wine on her shirt and she never did listen to him, did she?

"Oscar."

She took another drink. Why did she do this to herself? To him? Oh, but she didn't know she was doing anything to him, did she? She had no way of knowing.

"Oscar!"

She turned her head slightly. Good. He had her attention. She had always been good at holding her alcohol…well, for a woman, anyway, but he couldn't help but smile when he noticed a little bit of her drink at the corner of her mouth. She must have realized it too, because she clumsily lifted a white sleeve to wipe it away.

He considered stopping her—ah, the shirt would be stained!—but she'd already spilled some down the front of it, so it probably didn't even matter.

"That's enough, Oscar," he said, coaxing her fingers to release their vice-like grip on her wineglass. "You've had enough."

She blinked at him for a long moment. Ah, he hated it when she did that. It was hard to say no to anything she wanted when she looked so… so… Argh! He couldn't think of the word.

"No." Her response was sluggish, but wasn't it always when she'd had so much to drink?

"No?"

"No." If he didn't know better, he would guess that she was pouting. She pulled her glass away from him and downed its contents in one long swig, reaching her hand out for the bottle he held in his other hand. "Give it to me," she told him, probably intending to make it an order, but failing utterly. Her speech wasn't quite clear and he was torn between feeling sorry for her, smacking her in the back of the head, and just giving her what she wanted.

"You've had enough," he repeated, trying again to take the glass from her hand, eventually succeeding, much to Oscar's disappointment.

"I haven't," she insisted, getting to her feet.

"Yes you have! Look, you can hardly stand! I'll bet you can't even walk!"

"Oh? Can't I?" she shot back, but it sounded unconvincing, even to herself. He could tell by the expression on her face that it had sounded better in her head than it did coming out of her mouth.

She really was quite endearing sometimes.

She took a few steps and stumbled, only barely managing to catch herself on the edge of a chair. She resorted to using her charms.

"André… please?"

Charms…hah! He knew better than this! He could resist her pleading eyes and that little pout that only showed itself when she was drunk and couldn't control her emotions like she normally did. He would never tell her that she did it, though. Lord Almighty, if she knew she had charms like most women did, she'd probably hate herself for it!

He could never hate her for it, though. He found it rather appealing, actually…

But he could resist. He could. But…why was he walking up to her and handing her the bottle, and…oh dammit all, she was drinking straight from the bottle!

Quickly, he regained his senses and pulled it out of her mouth. She half-choked, coughing rather forcefully as the wine went down her windpipe. "I'm sorry, Oscar. I'm sorry," he told her, patting her back gently until she got her breath back. "But you shouldn't drink anymore. You'll make yourself sick."

"I am."

"You are?" he asked, eyes wide. "B-but… Well, then you need to get to bed! Why did you stay out working so late if you were sick? Oscar, you should take better care of yourself!"

He turned her away from him and pushed her towards her bedroom, though she tried digging her heels into the floor the entire way. Once inside, he went straight to her dressing table and dug until he found her long nightshirt. He handed it to her and spoke sternly, "Put this on, Oscar, and tell me when you're done. You have to tell me, because the last time I left you, you fell asleep on the floor!"

She threw it on the bed and lifted one of her legs to attempt to pull a boot off. It was a disaster. She fell straight to the floor, and André didn't even make it out of the room.

"Okay, okay," he said, and pushed her to sit on the bed while he took her boots off for her. "Now get dressed for bed."

She nodded in agreement, still eyeing the bottle of wine that was nearly gone. She could see it sitting innocently on a table in the foyer.

He saw her, though. "No, you're not getting it," he told her.

She sighed and untucked her shirt.

André flushed. "W-wait until I leave first, Oscar!" he admonished, fleeing the room. He could hear her chuckling even on the other side of her closed bedroom door. She reverted to the attitude she'd had as a young child when she drank too much unless she was angry or very, very depressed. He was glad she wasn't angry this time. Though he wasn't sure being teased was any more comforting than being yelled at.

"André," she called, and he immediately opened the door. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, squirming slightly. "It's uncomfortable," she informed him, as if he could not tell from her displeased expression.

"That's because you have it on backward, Oscar." He offered her his hand, but she threw him a half-glare and stood on her own.

"I can do fine, myself," she said, trying to pull her arms back into her sleeves. After a minute or so, she gave up, thoroughly frustrated.

"Here." He took her sleeve and pulled it away from her so that she could work to pull her arm out before doing the same with her other sleeve. He turned the shirt around her, and helped her pull her arms back through it again before ruffling her hair playfully. "Is that better?"

"Don't do that," she said. She always had hated it when he messed her hair up. It was good to know things didn't change too much! "But…yeah. Better."

"That's good. Now, it's time for bed for you." He pulled back the sheets and waited for her to crawl under them before pulling them up and over her. "Goodnight, Oscar."

"Goodnight, André." The way she said his name sent a shiver down his spine. Long, slow, and very drawn-out. He wished she wouldn't do that. She had no idea what she was doing to him, did she? Because if she did, she wouldn't do it. Right?

She stared at him, not making a move to actually fall asleep.

"Oscar, you have to close your eyes to sleep."

"I do not."

"Yes you—argh! Why am I even bothering?"

She grinned.

If only she would do that when she was sober…

But the smile faded away quickly. "André…?"

"Yes? You're not getting a bedtime story if that's what you wanted to know. You're 23 years old and—" Suddenly, he looked at her. "What's wrong?"

"I'm sick."

"I know. That's why you're in bed."

"No," she shook her head. "I'm sick…of everything."

"You are?" He scratched his head, unsure of what she could be talking about. Sick of…everything? But what, exactly was everything?

A moment of silence passed between them before she spoke. "Things will get better, won't they?"

He moved to sit beside her on the bed, and he took her hand in his own, pressing it against the side of his face.

"Don't do that," she said, but he ignored her, and she made no move to pull away.

"Of course things will get better," he assured her, though he wasn't quite sure what she was talking about.

"Good." She settled back against the pillows, gently pulling her hand away from him, and turned on her side, facing the wall so that he could not see her face.

He ran his fingers through her hair a little, combing out a few small knots that had formed. Ah, his poor Oscar was hurting for some reason or another, but he didn't know why. If only he knew, perhaps he could help her! He sighed and rubbed her shoulder gently before standing. It was time for him to leave, and take her wine with him. Perhaps he'd drink it himself… But her voice stopped him.

Slurred with the effects of the alcohol and tiredness, she was hard to understand, but he heard every word. "I don't like getting drunk."

He looked at her tenderly, and bent over to kiss her temple lightly. "I know," he whispered. "I know."


xOx…

Author Notes:

I really don't know what came over me. I was just…struck with inspiration to write this. Originally, I was going to write something else, but this just popped up, in its place so… This takes place in 1779, when Oscar is 23 years old, and André is 24.

Thanks for reading! Feedback is appreciated, as always.