Title: The Ties That Bind Us

Summary: "There is only one man in the world that she trusts anymore, and he is the only one that has never let her down."

Disclaimer: Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. This story is produced without profit.

Characters: Leah/Other

Genre: Hurt/Comfort/Angst

Rating: General

Warnings: Drinking/Misery

Status: Completed.

Archiving: Please PM me.

Inspirations/Dedications: ~

Author's Notes: ~

The Ties That Bind Us

It's cold out but it isn't her wolf ability that keeps her from feeling it. A current of booze insulates her from the inside out. She only has ten minutes before the kick wears off but that's okay. There's another bottle in her bag.

She's stumbling along the dirt path that she is pretty sure leads to her home. The stars are beautiful tonight. What she can see of them anyway. She winces and turns away. Her vision can't take it. They burn too bright.

There's a rustling in the woods and she shouts at the trees. Go away. I'm all grown up now. I can get drunk if I want too. Then she haphazardly pulls the bottle from her bag and downs it in one smooth motion. Or perhaps not that smooth. She'll wake up with red wine stains on her boring white shirt (perfect for phasing) and a curse because now she has to scrape together another $4 to buy a new one. Never stops her, though.

And now she's lying face first in the dirt, leaves sticking to her bare legs. That's always a sign that she's drank too much. In the distance, she hears a soft whine. She knows what happens next. Strong arms, too strong arms, pull her to her feet. And now she's stumbling again. The difference, this time, is that she's not walking alone.

The reach the house. Small, stable, steady. All broken with pieces missing. Just one piece really, but it's so big that nothing is the same anymore. It never will be, and she doesn't know how to make it better. Water bubbles away upstairs and her head is still spinning. Another 11 minutes and 53 seconds before the booze works its way through her system. Sue isn't home. She can't really remember when she started calling her that. Probably around the same time her mother started calling Emily darling.

That dress is perfect, darling. You're going to be the most beautiful woman there.

That memory burns almost as bad as the bourbon she drank four hours ago. Her mother doesn't know about her demotion. Leah has long learned to keep it all inside. She's blacks out for a moment, her body shutting down so it can fight the effects of the alcohol. She comes to on the sofa, her face buried in a cushion. There are hands on her back, ushering her gently up the stairs. They strip her down, awkwardly but with little embarrassment. She hates to say it, but it's nothing he hasn't seen before. Phasing can be a real bitch sometimes.

He helps her into the bathtub, not even caring when she splashes water all over the sides. She lands with an awkward thud and curls her knees to her chest. Her head drops and the room buzzes with sounds that she's not quite sure she's really hearing. Maybe it's her brain, rattling around in her head, her body, screaming for release. Why are you doing this to me? I'm your greatest weapon. Why turn against me?

Tit for tat, she thinks, and then she laughs bitterly.

He eyes her sadly, and she could kill herself for putting him through this, she really could. It's not fair, but then, that's why they're here. Because it's not fair and it never has been. She begins to cry as he gently wipes the dirt from her back. It shouldn't have to be him doing this, but there's no one else. She can't keep anyone else. She's such a fucking failure.

Her head drops again, resting on her knees as the nausea kicks in. His hands start on her hair, picking out dead leaves and twigs, soaping the dirt damp, tangled mess. She is barely awake for the rest. All she remembers is him helping her out, drying her off. There's a whir of a hair-dryer somewhere in all the noise but she can't pick out the moment. Before she knows it, she is in fresh pink pyjamas and her warm bed. He tucks her in, the cover up to her chin as she curls on her side and tries not to vomit. There's a glass of water on her bedside table, a bucket on the floor and a weight on the cover, next to her. He strokes her hair softly, mumbles her favourite childhood song. He whispers promises and his are the only ones she can believe.

You're better than him. She doesn't deserve to have you as a friend. I'll never leave you.

There's only one man in the world that she trusts anymore, and he's the only one that has never let her down. No matter how many times she comes home drunk, or bitched at the others or been plain evil, he has always been there. Growing up, she never really appreciated her brother, even if she did love him. Now she thanks god for the very day he was born. He's the only real thing she has left. The only one who believes in her. He plants a sweet kiss on her forehead, a gesture so paternal it makes her heart ache and makes sure her water glass is within reach. Just before she passes out for the night, she hears him whisper the same words that he always does. The same words he whispered when she first came home rip roaring drunk.

One day, I'll prove to you that it can be broken.