This is the companion piece for my Edward and Bella story Out of Oblivion. Yes, that story has been finished for a while, and this has been promised for even longer. I hope some of you are still with me. I'm sorry for the delay, but I had to go look for my mojo. It rudely took a vacation.

I have a few acknowledgements beforehand, in case I forget later:

Places, suburbs, beaches, and cafe's in Los Angeles, are chosen with the help of Nicoconsd and HopeStreet. Thank you, lovelies.

Betaing is done by Dazzled Eyes22, who has to be the most patient woman in the world. Thank you, dear.

Chartwilightmom is one of my besties. She always makes me feel better, though her mind is often located in the gutter. She pre-reads this story. Thank you, Pimpmaster.

AnnaLund does an awesome handholding amongst a bunch of other things and she is featured in this story. Anna is simply Anna, even in Fan Fiction. She's awesome.

Now that's done, I hope you enjoy the story.

Pssst, it's slash… I warned you.

Translation:

Ossignor, è Ben, vero? Chi d'altro! Lo sapevo! - That's Ben right? Who else? I knew it!

Scusami, devo parlare con Ben, va bene. - Hang on. I need to talk to Ben, okay.

oooooOOOOooooo

Heart and Soul

Backwash

Benjamin Vasquez sat with his head in his hands and tears brimming in his eyes. His heart burned, and with every heavy palpation, heat consumed him. This was not how his latest relationship was supposed to end up. Most importantly, it wasn't supposed to end. He had given the beautiful copper-haired man all that he had, tried with every thought and act to slowly propel the relationship forward. It had worked this time until the soft-spoken Isabella Swan inadvertently tore them apart.

Staring at his phone, all Ben wanted was for the suffering to end. He wanted to stop the madness and stop digging holes for himself because he was already in way too deep. His actions the previous forty-eight hours could be summed up with one word - stupid. Never before had he stooped so low.

As he wiped away the drops of moisture off his face with his hands, he re-read the text message he had already punched in. It was the best he could do. He didn't want to see Edward, though his former lover had asked. He was too ashamed of himself, too hurt and too angry to want to be in the same room with him.

He hit send.

Thank you for thinking about me and being considerate. I have to say I'm not surprised you chose her. I knew I was fighting a losing battle. Don't feel bad, Edward. You were more honest with me than most men would have been. What's done is done and some day this will all be water under the bridge and it won't hurt so much. Tell Isabella that I'm sorry for what I did, too, because after you met her, your heart was never mine, it was always hers. I wish you the best of luck. Ben

Ben was in love and he promised himself that it was a good thing. At least, it meant that he was capable of falling in love. How many men even knew how to do that? However, as grand and beautiful as love supposedly was, it could feel as shitty and downright wretched at the same time. Sitting at his desk at work, Ben was stuck in the purgatory of the latter.

The relationship between Edward and Ben had been sound, honest and reasonable. It was the kind of love that made sense on all levels. It had started off slowly, while taking a little time to set root, and grow strong enough to reach for the light of day. Just as that love was about to fully bloom, Edward had chosen to take that fragile little bud, and nip it off.

Edward Cullen had dumped him.

Taking partial responsibility in what happened two nights ago felt good, and more importantly, it let Ben keep a bit of his dignity. As he sat in his office and let his sorrow seep into his chest, Ben realized that he wouldn't mind kicking Edward in the nuts as payback for his broken heart.

"You ready, Benjamin?" His boss, Aro, inquired, while poking his head around the door to his small office.

"Yes. Are they all here?" Ben asked, before dragging his head back to the present. He couldn't afford to be lost in his own head, while nursing his hurt feelings. At work, he needed his sharp and acute ability to read people for what they could possibly do. That was what made him good at his job. The gift to see past the façade, smoke and mirrors that actors so skillfully put up was key to being a successful casting agent.

"Every single one." Aro paused, while skillfully dragging his skinny fingers over his papery and pale skin. "You okay?"

Ben took a deep breath and stood up, while leaving his phone on his desk. "Just some personal stuff, but it's taken care of. How's the crowd looking?" Ben asked.

Aro sent him an indulgent smile. "I know you better than that, Benjamin," he said and lingered at the door for an explanation.

The burn in Ben's chest flared at the elder man's sympathy. Aro was a person that many people considered to be callous, arrogant and above all a predator, but not to Ben. To Ben, Aro was the man who had become the representation of the father figure he had lacked since he was fifteen years old. He wasn't the ruthless businessman around Ben, but a mentor, and a teacher that cared for his protégé. Ben had worked with Aro for four years now, basically ever since he traveled across the continent leaving his past to vanish in the rearview mirror.

Ben nodded tiredly. "Let's just say we all get our hands burned if we stick our fingers into the fire. You don't have to worry, Aro."

"I always worry about you, Benjamin," the elder gentleman answered kindly. To say elder was accurate, Aro was pushing seventy and should have retired years ago, but he wasn't a man to sit still or leave the keys to his life's work behind. "What's bothering you?"

Ben pushed back the wave of emotions and flash-like images of Edward's beautiful face. For as long as they had known each other, Aro had his back. When he needed a place to live, Aro was the man, who magically procured a lease for a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica that was to die for. How he managed it wasn't a question Ben wanted to ask. He just signed on the dotted line. "It's not important," he dismissed. "Now, let's look at the crowd and hire some people."

"Let's," Aro acquiesced. "You know you can always bend my ear, if you want to talk." As they left Ben's office and began walking down to the conference room, they passed several of the actors auditioning for the leads in the Hunger Games. Ben swiftly and discretely assessed the faces crowding the waiting area. There were twenty-one readings today.

"What do you think?" Ben asked under his breath.

"So far, so good, I say. I'm almost confident we're going to find who we are looking for between these hopeful souls," Aro interceded.

"Good to hear," Ben answered as he walked into the conference room. He greeted the newly assigned director and the AD before he pulled out a chair, sat down, and flipped through the script that was in front of him. "Who's first?" Ben asked, while looking up and keeping to business.

Aro handed him a folder. "His name is Connor. Good height and physique. His body of work isn't impressive, just some minor parts in various TV shows, two small parts in movies coming out soon and one getting a fair bit of attention on the web. He's fresh-faced and a good fit for Gale when it comes to appearance. Let's see what he can do."

Ben looked at the headshots and an assortment of references. "Yeah, he could be right, but he will need to dye his hair dark," Ben murmured then quickly scanned through the papers, before he stood and moved to the door.

There had always been a strange power attached to his job, which Ben didn't particularly like. He broke hearts and made dreams come true several times a day. He knew every look of hope from memory because he'd seen them all. On the downside, he could also pinpoint the darkness of a shattered dream from a mile away.

"Connor Hayes, we're ready for you?" Ben said scanning the crowd of people sitting in the waiting room.

A tall blond man with a broad smile came over and held out his hand. "Benjamin Vasquez," Ben introduced himself and then gestured to the elder man with the fragile skin. "This is Aro, the director, and the AD." Connor Hayes politely introduced himself, while shaking hands as he went. "You're reading for Gale," Ben stated, before getting straight to business. "I'll be reading for Katniss today. We just want to get a feel for you."

"That's fine," he answered amiably.

The blond man sat down already having the pages dog-eared. It was nice when they came prepared. As the reading started, Connor hardly needed the script for support, but instead he kept a keen eye on Ben. It was almost unnerving, but that was the kind of person they were looking for in the character - someone who was perceptive and sharp as a blade.

When night came around, Ben was exhausted and absolutely gutted. The workday had been good and productive, but every now and again his thoughts escaped to Edward. Lying face down on his couch with his cheek squashed to the pillow, he knew it was time to call for some backup. Every time that he was stuck in an emotional crisis, there was only one person he wanted to pour his heart out to, but she was thousands of miles away. They had met in college and been friends since first year. Even though they didn't speak everyday, they were as good friends today as they were when they first sat giggling next to each other for lunch way back when.

Lifting his hips, he dug his phone out of his pocket and pushed up Anna's number. Ben didn't exactly take into account that there were several time zones between them. The phone beeped many times before a groggy voice picked up.

"How's your big hunky Italian?" Ben asked, as he lay with his head still smashed to the pillows of his couch.

"Ben? What the fuck! It's 5 AM! You know I love you and all, but shit, it is too early. Hang on, what happened?" Anna's voice sobered as she stopped rambling.

Ben smiled into the pillow. "You didn't answer my question."

Anna snickered. "He's right here, looking at me and shaking his head," she teased. In the background, Ben could just pick up a grumbling male voice. "Ossignor, è Ben, vero? Chi d'altro! Lo sapevo!"

"Tell him that I'm sorry …and how do you know anything happened?" Ben asked in defeat.

"Why would else would you call me at 5 AM? What's up, baby? Really, what happened?" Anna asked, while sounding concerned. Lying on the couch, he ached to have her closer, just to see her smile. He knew that she was about to go into an endless string of encouragements. "Scusami, devo parlare con Ben, va bene." She hushed her husband, before the sound of her moving gave away that she was going into another room. "I'm here."

Ben sighed. "Got any quick fixes for a broken heart? Maybe a stun gun would be better."

"That bad, huh, baby? Now, who do I have to sock on the jaw next time I'm in town?" she added cheerfully.

"You do throw a better punch than me. His name is Edward. He's gorgeous and he's gone. I'm just a sucker for a pretty face."

"They're always gorgeous and gone, honey. The names just change, that's all. God, I'd like to just pull you close and hug you. It's his loss because you're perfect and you're good through and through. Next time, we'll find you a not so fucking pretty face, just someone cute."

Ben propped himself to his elbow. "Looks are so last year, honey. I'll settle for a gay man," he muttered, while mentally adding, 'preferably someone who stays gay'.

"Don't you dare settle! You're too good for that."

"See, Anna, that's my problem. I'm too nice. They bat their lashes and I'm sold. I'm sick of trying."

"You say you're sick of trying like you're giving up or something. You know there's this gorgeous man out there somewhere and you just haven't found him yet. Don't give up." Anna's voice was soft and comforting as she spoke. Listening to her voice, he could almost remember what it felt like to lie next to her when they had needed each other in the past. She was often like one huge Band-Aid for all his heartache. Anna always knew what to say. "Would you like to get away for a bit? Come stay with us?"

"I'll hop on a plane as soon as I can, but I'm pretty jammed with work these days. New movie, new faces. A man has to work. I appreciate the offer though. I'll let you get back to your big hunky Italian," Ben finished, knowing he should let her get some sleep.

"I want you here," Anna almost protested. "Hold up. There are two super sweet boys right down my street. I think they're gay. At least, that's what my neighbors say. Oh wait, they think I'm a lesbian since I supported the Pride and walked in the parade, but the boys are really really cute," Anna teased.

"Sounds intriguing. Dark hair and dark eyes?" Ben asked, while playing along.

"Yes, both of them are Italian and slim and… Shit! I want to be a gay man," she prattled on.

Ben laughed. "Your X-chromosomes are working against you on that point. Besides, if you were a gay man, you would have ended up with me."

"Yes, I would. I would have snatched you off the market so fast your head would still be spinning." She paused for a little bit. "Are you feeling a bit better?"

"Yeah, I think I can get off the couch now," he said, as he sat up and raked a hand through his hair. He really was feeling better. His head felt lighter and the ache in his chest seemed to have eased.
"All right, then," Anna said. "Let me know what goes on in your life, baby. Don't leave me out of the loop like this and then come shocking me at the ass-crack of dawn again, okay?"

Ben giggled. "Yeah, sweet thing. I think I can do that. I just don't want to burden you."

Anna sighed, sounding almost irritated. "You're never a burden. Besides, I can take it. You know I'm on the next flight if you're really shattered, right?"

"Yes, you're scary that way," Ben answered lightly. "Now go back and cuddle your big boy. I'll call you again in a couple of days, okay?"

"Okay, just hang in there," Anna answered. "You better make sure you keep me updated or there will be hell to pay if you don't. Bye now, sweets."

"Bye, gorgeous," Ben replied, "I love you from here to there."

"Me too."

As Ben hung up, there was only the vague hum of the city to entertain him. He didn't feel like turning on the TV or succumbing to any other type of time-consuming gadget. He just wanted to sulk and wallow in his self-pity. So that's exactly what he did, starting with a steaming hot shower. After towel drying his hair, he noticed he really needed a haircut. Perhaps, the trivial and mundane things in everyday life were what he should focus on. Pulling on a pair of sweats and a wife beater, he set about the most ordinary run-of-the-mill thing he could think of - laundry.

Sorting out a bunch of whites, Ben came across a shirt that definitely wasn't his. The plain white tee that was one size bigger than what Ben normally wore and it belonged to Edward. Grumbling under his breath, Ben made a mental note that he needed to hand it back at some point. He wasn't in a hurry and he didn't want to see Edward, especially not after what happened. That was when he realized everywhere seemingly indifferent tokens of Edward Cullen were littered throughout his apartment. Snatching that white shirt off the floor was only the beginning of a pile of stuff that was going into the trash. Maybe all these items were proof of the small hope that kept blooming in his stomach, where Edward would change his mind about them and a certain woman he had met. How stupid of him, Ben realized.

A shirt, some deodorant, a razor, a music magazine and a specific brand of coffee Ben had procured because Edward liked it, all went the same way - straight into the dumpster. God, it felt good when he put the lid back on. It was past midnight when Ben finally dragged himself to bed, knowing perfectly well that all he would dream about was Edward.

The next morning, Ben instinctively knew there was a new pattern developing in his life. He parked opposite of where he normally did, just to stand across the street waiting. He slipped into the small convenient store to pick up a pack of Luckys, though he had quit smoking years ago. Right now, he really needed a cigarette and then he would quit again. Besides that, Anna would have his head if she knew he was smoking. He couldn't help smiling at the thought of the epic fit she would throw.

Dragging in a lungful of smoke, he watched as the Volvo pulled into the parking lot across the street and the tall copper-haired man got out. He was gracious and moved like something out of a dream. It was the first thing Ben had noticed when Edward had made a pass at him. His grace. It was fascinating.

Ben missed him. He missed Edward terribly.

When the woman got out of the car, it was like Ben's stomach tilted, went off kilter and shrunk. Then tendrils of pain wheezed through his body. Like getting dumped wasn't enough, but getting dumped by a gay man in favor of a woman was a new low.

Inhaling another cloud of smoke, he watched as Edward wrapped his arm around Isabella's shoulder and tucked her into his side as they walked towards the office building. The woman just fit there, the curve of her body melting into Edward's seamlessly. He wanted to hate it and possibly hate her for tearing apart the relationship that Ben had worked to build, but he couldn't. Isabella hadn't done this on purpose, but that didn't mean that he wanted to be stuck in that bloody elevator with them again. He didn't want to acknowledge what Edward and Isabella were to each other.

It wasn't because he couldn't face them or that he was cowering in the corner like a wounded dog, but he simply couldn't be bothered with him anymore. Edward and Isabella needed their space now that he had made his choice, and frankly so did Ben. An elevator just didn't offer that. It was unfortunate that they worked in the same building, but so be it. They would inevitably run into each other on occasion, just not yet if Ben had anything to say about it.

Ten minutes later, Ben sat down behind his desk pulling out five files. He quickly went over them, while testing the feeling in his gut that he was making the right choice about the callbacks for the part of Gale. Over the years, he had learned to rely on his instincts when it came to his work.

Clearing his decision with Aro, Ben booked a gym for a physical test Monday morning. He wanted to see how the remaining men moved.

It was a relief to bury himself in his work. Ben loved his job and his ability was an anchor at the moment. He wasn't particular happy that it was the weekend. It frustrated him because he didn't need the time. The only productive thing he did was clean his bathroom, so for the rest of the weekend he slept or read through projects that Aro may or may not be assigned. In any case, that would leave Ben a foot ahead knowing the material already.

On Monday morning, Ben stood across the street from his office. He was smoking and waiting for Isabella and Edward to enter, so he could get to work. At ten, Ben was at the gym for the second part of casting process. He was the first to arrive, but it was mere seconds later that Connor stepped in the door breathing heavily.

"Hey," Connor said and smiled, a huge honest smile like his entire day just brightened. He hauled in a large breath, before exhaling slowly and controlled. He sat down and wiped his face on the black wristband with the trademark swoosh on it. "It's going to be hot one today.

"Hi. Yes, it is," Ben agreed, watching slightly engrossed as a fresh layer of sweat dewed on the blond's forehead. "Did you just run here?"

"Yeah. A little hard work never hurt anyone." Connor reached down, while untying his shoes and kicking them off.

"No, it most certainly didn't," Ben acquiesced and returned Connor's smile. For a moment, Ben couldn't look away. He was captivated by the different shades of iridescent blue nestled in the other man's eyes. Connor's mouth opened, but he didn't say anything. More like he wanted to, but couldn't get the words out. "Well, at least you're already warmed up," Ben filled in, killing the slightly awkward silence. He finally looked away and began eyeing the obstacle course that he had asked to be set up for the test.

Connor smirked, a small wicked twist of his lips. "Yeah, I'm ready to go." He paused. "I better stop looking like I'm trying to get ahead of the game," Connor countered.

Ben inclined his head. "Well, aren't you?"

"Always," Connor answered simply. However, Ben felt like there was some point he was missing by a mile.

As Ben watched in silence, it only took a few minutes before the field on contenders was narrowed down to three. Those would be hard to cut down to one. Liam, Connor and Laurent were all in excellent shape, agile and moved with grace. They wouldn't need too much instruction to fall into the character of Gale. Late in the afternoon, Ben made the cut and time was set for a final reading in the morning.

Repeating his morning ritual, Ben waited impatiently for Edward and Isabella to arrive. They were late today and so was he. He had the first reading in about five minutes. He was feeling antsy, debating with himself whether to stop this inane game and just deal with them. Ben used his foot to squash the cigarette bud.

As he was watching out for his nemesis, the ache in his chest seemed less intense today. Maybe, the road past this heartache wouldn't be as long and winding as he initially feared.

"Who are we stalking?" a deep voice asked.

Ben jumped, while clutching his chest. "Jeez, you scared me."

Connor smiled. "That wasn't even hard. You're a million miles away." The blond man popped a piece of gum in his mouth and chewed. "You okay?"

"Fine. Can I have one of those?" Ben asked, knowing his breath smelled like cigarettes. So far, Connor was forthcoming as a person. Yesterday, he had been chatting up the other actors, instead of having the steely concentrated face of someone fighting for the lead role. He was just casual and comfortable in his own skin.

"Sure." He slipped two pieces of Orbit into Ben's waiting palm. "So who are we stalking?"

Ben looked down, before quickly composing his face. It wasn't anybody's business that his love life was in ruins, because he got dumped for a woman and he was pining for a man that he would never even want to have a relationship with again. He just needed the waters to settle and move on. He's been here before and he knew the routine.

"I just like the fresh air before I start my day," Ben lied.

"Yeah, me too," Connor agreed. "I better get going. I don't want to be late for my final reading." His smile was wide and cheeky. Ben shook his head amused just as he caught sight of the two people he was jumping through hoops to avoid. "I'll see you in a few," Connor said, before heading across the street.

"Sure," Ben added, while taking a handful of seconds to calm his speeding heart. After watching Edward one final time, Ben efficiently closed off his heart to him. Edward didn't exist to him anymore. Ben wouldn't let him control his life. He knew he had the power to stop wallowing and just move on. He had the instinct to survive, he always did, and that was probably the sole reason he was standing on his own two feet today.

ooOoo

"Are you off to see Bree?" Aro asked, when they passed each other in the hall.

"Yes," Ben answered, while pressing the button for the elevator. Every Wednesday, he left early. The day was special in a way that was profound to Ben. Spending Wednesday afternoon with Bree Tanner was his small attempt to stop the world from repeating itself. Helping Bree was how Ben tried to make up for the people who had hurt him. He wanted to break the cycle of bad parenting.

"Hi," Ben said cheerfully when he sat down next to small and frail girl with the long brown hair. She was already waiting for him.

"Good, you're here," she greeted sardonically. Bree narrowed her eyes at Ben, while her nose scrunched up with distaste. She had a temper and she was angry, that was easy to see even through the multiple layers of dark dramatic make-up. Ben checked his watch. It was one minute past four.

"I'm late. I'm sorry."

Bree snorted. "I don't care." Ben knew this face and the sentiment that followed very well. He had endlessly said, 'I don't care,' like it was the theme song of his life. Every time he was disappointed, which was often, he would simply answer 'I don't care', though it was the farthest thing from the truth. 'I don't care' was a mantra for kids like Bree. It was their armor.

"I am very sorry I'm late, Bree. Please, forgive me." Ben knew it was paramount never to bullshit someone like the girl next to him. She barely trusted him, as it was, let alone anyone else. So if he wasn't completely honest, how was she supposed to trust him? He needed her trust and for her to have faith in him if he was supposed to help. He was her Big Brother after all.

Her mother was a bit of a drunk and her father had never been in the picture, so that was the reason why she had been assigned a Big Brother. Someone, who peripherally could watch over her, should the school miss something. The reason for Ben to volunteer was the simple fact he was trying to pay his dues to society. He knew the heart and mind of a troubled teenager and he knew the scars because he wore them on his own body. He wanted to do for someone what no one had ever done for him.

A small smile curled lips and her eyes lit up. "It's okay." She shrugged.

Ben smiled in return. "Shall we get started?"

"Yes, we shall," she mocked him and rolled her eyes. Idly, she picked her math book out of her bag. Bree tilted her head into her hand. Her eyes were already disinterested and dejected. Ben hated that look. A girl, as young as his Little Sister, shouldn't look so worn out already. She should be thirsty to learn and not give up like she had clearly already done.

After spending an hour going over her homework, Ben had explained percentages several times. "Now. Change 3/5 to a percentage," Ben said softly. Bree just stared stubbornly into the empty air, refusing to look at the question. For the past year that Ben had been tutoring her, this was a look that he had sadly gotten to know well. This happened every time she felt pigeonholed or challenged. "Just look at the question. That might help."

"It's not going to help," she sneered. "It's never going to help. I'm too stupid." She threw her pen across the desk, where it clattered to the floor. Patiently, Ben got up, walked over to the other side of the table and picked it up.

"You're not stupid," he said pointedly, as he sat down again and handed her the pen. He meant it. Bree wasn't stupid in any way, but she never had anyone to help her with her homework or someone to even support her, or help her hold her head high when something was difficult. No, she didn't have anyone who taught her how to behave, to be proud or confident, or helped her figure out how to calculate percentages. "Here's how I do it in my head. Now, take the denominator. In this case, it's five, and that makes up the whole hundred percent. If you divide a hundred by five, what do you get then?"

"Twenty," Bree muttered.

"That's right. Good work! Now, as the numerator is three, it is a portion of the five. Imagine you have five apples, they each cost twenty dollars-"

"Those are some fucking expensive apples," Bree interjected.

Ben snickered. "Point taken. Twenty cents, then, but please mind your language." Bree rolled her eyes, and Ben ignored her. "Now, if one apple costs twenty cents, how much will three apples cost?"

"Sixty?" she asked cautiously, but without missing a beat.

"Exactly. So, now that you established that three apples out of five costs sixty cents, and five is the whole, what is three out of five in percent?"

"Sixty percent?" she asked again.

"You don't need to state it as a question, when you already know the answer," Ben said softly. Her small, satisfied smile was all that Ben needed to see. "I think that is it for now." He paused, knowing why she was particularly hostile today. Behind it all, Bree was a sweet girl, but life was rough on her. "How are things at home?"

"Fine," Bree answered and averted her eyes that were cold now. She mainly focused on placing her books back in her bag. Though, Ben had learned to read right through the stone façade. He'd worn it for years himself.

"Do you have food?" He knew the answer by her glacial glare. He knew that the fridge at home was empty or merely stocked with alcohol to quench her mother's thirst and nothing proper to feed her daughter. Bree wasn't starving, but she was mainly just left alone to fend for herself a lot.

"My mom's on a bender at the moment, so what do you think?" Bree muttered.

Ben nodded, knowing her absentee mother had a habit of drinking herself into oblivion. "Come on, I'm starving. How does a burger sound?" Ben asked.

"Fine."

Ben wiped his mouth with a napkin. "Can we have a doggy bag?" he asked when the waiter of the small establishment was about to take his plate away. He finished his food, but Bree had no chance in hell finishing the huge serving she had ordered. He knew the reason. It secured her one more meal bringing the leftovers home. He knew all the tricks to make it look like everything was just peachy.

"I was just thinking. Are you busy Sunday?" Ben asked.

"Probably not," Bree answered, before pulling back when her plate was removed. During their meal, Ben had lured several smiles from her and her sullen mood had improved for the better.

"How about we go to the Melrose Trading Post?" Flea markets weren't usually his thing, but Bree had a knack for vintage bags and a love for just browsing through material goods, when her mind needed somewhere else to escape to. Besides, if her mother wasn't ready to kick the habit, like she always proclaimed after a bender, it would be another chance to make sure the girl was fed.

Bree's mother was complicated. When she was sober, she actually wasn't a bad parent. She made fairly reasonable decisions. She was kind, clean and took care of her daughter. It was when her depression took over and the hard alcohol went down like fizzy pop that she failed her mission in life. That was when Bree was left to fend for herself. She had to make sure that she had clothes to wear and food to eat, and deal with the emotional distress that there was no one to care for her.

Before reluctantly sending Bree on her way home carrying a bag stuffed with groceries, he reminded her to call him if things got to be too much. However, she never did. During the year that he had been her Big Brother, she had not once called him.

Going home, the problems with Edward and his love life seemed miniscule. Spending time with a fourteen-year old teenager always had a way of snapping things into perspective. Ben had survived the turmoil of his teenage years and he had lived to see that sometimes the grass was greener on the other side. More than anything, he wanted to show the fragile, but perseverant Bree that life could get better and could be what she made it. If that was what he was preaching, shouldn't he live by the rule too? So instead of focusing on the man he had been with, Ben decided to focus on the man he wanted to be, as he lay in bed with an ironic smile on his face before he fell asleep

oooooOOOOooooo

First chapter done, what is the verdict? You want more?

Let me hear what you think and thank you for your time.