I'm breathing heavy. Partly from my recent unraveling, partly from the sound of footsteps on the other side of the door.

"Are you fucking serious?!"

"It's not that much, I can pay it back, I promise…"

"Like hell you can!"

"Dear, please stop yelling at him, he didn't-"

"You shut the fuck up, I'm not talking to you!"

"Please, Dad, it's not really that—"

There is a huge thud! and the door rattles on its hinges. Jaime's hand suppresses a sharp cry that's trying to escape. Oh god, he just threw Hale against the door, oh god please let him be okay.

Muffled shouts penetrate the thick door.

Please, stop, don't hurt him, for the love of god, please st-

I can't stop the choking sob, but Jaime's hand does.

Please, please, please let me help him, god please let me stop this.

Jaime just keeps shaking his head, no no please no.


When Mom comes walking in, she's wearing nothing but a robe with a sash that's about to come undone. One hand clutches a foul-smelling cigarette, the other a tall martini glass. She takes a step that's more like a stumble, her bare foot coming down heavily on the carpeted floor. Oddly enough, her other foot is clad in a threadbare slipper.

"Sebastian," she shrills, her voice rising at the ending syllable of my name, "Sebastian, is that you? Oh, of course it's you. I'd be too lucky to run into your father."

I'm not entirely sure what she means.

"Mom, what's wrong?" I ask. She looks like a mess. Her dark hair, usually set straight and neat, is tangled and greasy. She takes a few steps closer, and I can see the dark circles under her eyes. She's crudely tried to cover them up with dark eyeliner, but all it succeeds in doing is making her look like she's got a black eye.

However, for all I know, she might have one.

"C'mere, schweetie," she slurs, before knocking back a drink from her glass. I remain firmly rooted to my place in the middle of the living room.

"Listen to your mother," she says, coming up behind the couch on the opposite side of the living room and leaning against it.

"Mom, you're drunk. Why are you doing this to yourself?" I ask, shifting uncomfortably, because I'm not used to seeing Mom like this. She's always been so calm and collected, never letting a blow bruise her pride, even if it bruised her flesh.

Mom stands, staring at me, before her lower lip starts trembling.

"You don't understand," she says, her voice cracking. "You don't understand, honey."

"Mom…" She takes another step, and slumps over the side of the couch. A light green liquid sloshes over the side of her martini glass and lands on the coach. If she had been in her right mind, she would have had a heart attack. Those couches were nearly brand new.

"I'm going to leave," she breathes, quietly, eyes fixed on the floor.

"…what?" I say, taking a step towards her.

"I'm going to leave this fucking place!" she screams, looking up and throwing her martini in my direction. I duck, and it shatters against the wall behind me.

"Mom! Calm down, please—" I take another step towards her, reaching out in an effort to console her, but she tears away from me.

"I can't let him get hurt, Sebby, I can't," she cries, tears ebbing down her cheeks now.

"Let who get hurt?" I ask, confused.

"I have to take him away, I can't let your father hurt him!" She looks up at me, her mascara running in pitiful streaks. She is a mess. My carefully calculated mother is a mess.

She wraps her arms around herself and sinks to the floor.

"After prom…we're…going away."


AN: I realize, that after such a long hiatus, a chapter this short must seem cruel. But I love you all so much, you don't even know. Over a year since an update, and I still receive a stream of emails that someone has reviewed, favorited, or added this story to their alerts. And honestly, it makes my heart so happy.

The storm is coming. :)