As she's leaning against the aluminum wall of the trailer, cigarette almost completely burnt down between her fingers while Pete is unloading years of pent up anger right in her face, all that Lila can think about is how desperately she wants a drink.
"He's contributing nothing to the business and I'm fucking sick of it, Lila!" Pete's face is unnaturally red and due to his body mass being an unhealthy amount larger than it should be, given his height, the yelling is taking its toll on his lungs. He's panting as he pulls out a purple handkerchief and wipes beads of sweat off his forehead. "For fuck's sake, even with all the shit Jerome pulls, at least he actually gets some work done 'round here!"
It's the same old topic they've been arguing about since the twins were about eight years old and Pete is not the only one who's sick of it. Lila puts the cigarette to her lips, realizing that it's out and letting it drop to the trampled grass with a shaky sigh. Her fingers are itching and her throat is screaming for a drink. "Pete, please, you gotta understand -!", she croaks but Pete is having none of it.
"Understand what? That I'm feeding your deadbeat son? What does he even do all day, Lila? I hardly ever see him leave your fucking trailer!"
"Jeremiah, he...he's not like Jerome, he's fragile and so timid -"
Pete groans at that, heavy, frustrated and downright terrifying. Something tells Lila that a blowjob is not going to be able to get him to drop it this time. "Not this bullshit again! He's sixteen years old! Jerome started helping out with the animals when they were fucking five!"
Lila is about to give a weak protest when she hears heavy, very familiar footsteps approach. She closes her eyes briefly, taking a deep breath through her nose. She needs a fucking drink.
Zack comes to a halt next to her and she can tell that he's puffing out his chest to look intimidating by the way his voice sounds deeper than usual. "The fuck's all the shouting about?"
Zack isn't the most protective big brother but if there's one thing he doesn't approve of in the slightest, it's other men getting too close to Lila when he's around. The reason behind that isn't as chivalrous as it sounds (far from it) but it's comforting enough for Lila to lean against him rather than the trailer, his broad form warm and familiar against her slim one.
When she opens her eyes again, Pete is still fixating her with his gaze, eyes wide and restless, but his words are directed at Zack. "I've just told your sister that I'm done watching her treat Jeremiah like the Queen of fucking England!"
"Pete, I -!"
"I'm giving you two days, Lila." Pete is shaking but his voice is oddly calm. Dangerously so. She's never heard him sound so final before. "You better have found some use for him by then or I swear to God, the runt is out."
With that, Pete turns around, and if he was any heavier, the ground would surely be shaking beneath him as he's stomping off.
Another shaky sigh escapes Lila's lips and she puts her face in her hands. Damn it. This is bad. This is real fucking bad and she still wants a drink.
"He's right, y'know."
All Lila can do is shake her head. She doesn't have the energy to talk about this any longer. She just wants to drink, maybe fuck, then drink some more. She could still go out and look for a potential customer, however she doesn't feel like being around any other people today.
There's always the Valeska approach to that problem, however somehow, Lila doesn't feel up for that right now either. She supposes that's a good thing. Although it doesn't feel like it.
She feels Zack's calloused fingers around her wrists, trying to pry her hands off her face. "Lila."
"Fuck off", she hisses into her palms, trying to jerk out of his grip, but even if she were in her best shape, she wouldn't stand a chance.
He manages to pin her wrists to the trailer, but she still refuses to look at him, head turned away and eyes squeezed shut as Zack shouts in her face. "Get your head out of your fucking ass!"
She can smell his breath, a bitter mix of cheap beer and cigarettes, underlined with something heavy and intoxicating that is distinctly Zack. A shiver runs down her spine and she resists the urge to shove her tongue down his throat. If she could just have a fucking drink -
"Fucking look at me!"
He tightens his grip on her wrists and Lila flinches. She realizes that she's so thirsty that she's close to tears and it's fucking pathetic. "Leave me the fuck alone, I just want a fucking...I need a...just...I want a drink!"
The last word comes out as a sob and the grip on her wrists disappears almost instantly. "Baby sister..."
Lila shakes her head again and it hurts, the pain getting worse with every tear she sheds, like a drill plunged into her temple. She hates this, she hates Pete, she hates Zack, she hates the circus, she hates that she can't focus properly because all she wants is a goddamn drink.
She knows it's better than the alternative.
But the alternative would be less painful.
Rough palms come to rest on her cheeks and she sobs again, reaching up to clutch at the front of Zack's shirt. She still won't look. She can't look because she knows what she is going to see, she knows what Zack is going to say and the thought is tearing her apart.
"He's a pretty thing." Zack's tone of voice is unusually gentle but Lila still feels like he's slapped her across the face. "Soft, quiet. There's lotsa guys out there that -"
Guys. Men. Strangers. Filthy strangers, like the one's she's been entertaining since she was fourteen, filthy hands on her baby boy's pure, smooth skin -
"But he doesn't belong out there!" Lila thinks she's screaming, her throat so dry that every word makes it ache but it doesn't matter because she wants to bite Zack's nose off for suggesting Jeremiah should follow in her footsteps, to become filthy, to have other people touch him and mark him and claim him and -! "He's...he..."
He is mine.
She feels arms around her and sinks into her brother's embrace, despite wanting to claw his face off, to rip his tongue out, to, to...
She needs a drink. She needs a fucking drink right now.
"Pete's not fucking around. He's gonna throw Jeremiah on the streets the next chance he gets and when that happens, there's no fucking telling who's gonna get their hands on the kid."
Zack couldn't care less about what happens to Jeremiah but he knows that Lila does. It's cruel and Lila's mind is still clear enough to recognize that. But really, cruel is all she's known for as long as she can remember. It's why everything she touches gets fucked up. Her relationships, her brother, even her own son.
But not Jeremiah. Not him.
Zack holds her loosely because he already knows that Lila doesn't have the strength to argue anymore. He kisses the top of her head but it isn't caring, it's an obligatory gesture in what they imagine to be a fraternal embrace. They haven't shared many of those. They are related by blood but they aren't siblings, they will never be siblings, just like Lila will never be a mother. "Ya want that? Huh?"
She wants a drink. That's all she wants.
"Please, Uncle Zack, please, please, I don't want to -!"
Lila doesn't want to look so she takes another sip, the wodka burning in her throat but numbing the throbbing pain of her chest and stomach. She feels warm and fuzzy, floating in a cloud of blissful indifference, at least for now. It's not going to last. It never lasts.
"You've been sitting on your ass doing nothing for the past sixteen years, it's time ya earn some money!" Zack sounds angry but that is the default state of his voice when interacting with either of the twins. Although it's usually more prominent with Jerome. But that's just because he doesn't interact with Jeremiah very much. At least that's what Lila chooses to believe.
"Let go of him, you pile of shit!" The default state of Jerome's voice when interacting with Zack is angry too. Lila thinks it should be funny. But for some reason she can't laugh. "I'll slice your fucking throat if you don't get your dirty fucking hands -!"
Lila takes another sip.
"Better not try to follow us or I promise ya, I won't bring him back in once piece!"
Something stings. Lila closes her eyes.
Jeremiah is crying. No. Whimpering.
She grasps the neck of the bottle tighter.
"And you keep your fucking whore mouth shut!"
She doesn't even flinch when a hand rests heavily on top of her head. She isn't even fully certain if she's not imagining it. "Don't wait up."
She won't. She's not even sure if she's conscious right now. Everything is flowing and spinning and warm. Even the hard plastic chair she's sitting on feels like heaven. It's nice like this. Safe.
The tone of voice is desperate, demanding. Are you really allowing this?, it's asking, even though the words are not spoken. Their voices are the most identical thing about the twins, however she recognizes the edge that is distinctive to her firstborn.
But Jerome hasn't called her mom in years. She must be dreaming. None of this happening. Better enjoy it while it lasts then, right? She'll wake up again eventually. She always wakes up and every time, it feels like dying.
This is living. It's easy. It's warm. That's how life is supposed to be.
It's so quiet. Hasn't she heard voices just now? No. That's wrong. There can't be voices here. She's alone here. Where is here? Does it matter?
Lila thinks it should. But why think when you can drink?
So that's what she does. She drinks.
And drinks some more.
Lila isn't sure how much time passes but she becomes aware of the unpleasant burn in her throat (it isn't wodka because wodka burns so good) and the taste of bile in her mouth and she's kneeling on the wet grass, the drill back in her temple and Zack dragging Jeremiah off what seems like seconds ago but was probably hours ago and Jerome pleading her to do something and -
Her baby boy. Filthy hands on her baby boy.
Once again, Lila is dying.
She managed to drag herself inside the trailer and onto the couch that serves as her bed. She's been laying there for the past hour, slick with cold sweat and half catatonic. Her head is pounding and she wishes she could sleep but she knows she's not allowed. Sleep means life and she doesn't deserve to live. She never has and now, she does even less.
The trailer door opens and Lila bolts up, her stomach and head protesting but she blinks rapidly through the pain, clenching her fists, her heart pounding so hard it might break through her ribcage. Her baby is home. Her baby came back home to her and he's going to need her, he needs his mommy to make it better, he needs -
She searches for Jeremiah's gaze but he's staring right through her, his eyes void of life.
It's a knife in her chest. No.
She lets her gaze wander over him, takes in how his shirt is only halfway tucked into his jeans and how his face gives the tiniest flinch with every step. He is as pale as a ghost and his neck is littered with tooth marks.
Lila feels sick and it's not the kind of sickness she's familiar with.
Her vision begins to swim as she's forced to imagine rough hands tugging at Jeremiah's clothes, clumsy fingers exploring Jeremiah's body, chapped lips grazing his flawless skin and staining it with their filth. Filth.
Her blood is boiling and she feels the urge she's been trying to drink away all these years, the urge her sons inherited unbeknownst to her, the urge to destroy, the urge to hurt, the urge to -
She shakes the thoughs off because it's dangerous territory, a space in her mind that is going to consume her if she dwells there for too long. But she's not reaching for the half empty beer can on the couch table as she would.
Instead, she focuses back on Jeremiah who's basically dragging his body forward, wrecked by a tremor she's very familiar with. "Baby -", she rasps, her eyes stinging with tears but all the response she gets is a faint headshake. Not even a look.
She never even gets one look.
He doesn't acknowledge her any more, pulled towards the door to his room by an invisible string she still wishes she could sever. It's a constant pain in her heart and gut that is never going to fade.
Jeremiah disappears into the room, the door falls closed and Lila hears hasty footsteps, too quick to be Jeremiah's.
A second passes. Then another.
And then the dam breaks and Lila hears the muffled sobs and faint shushes, the gaping wound in her heart pulsating. She does grab the can then, chugging down lukewarm beer and that's as much abuse as her stomach can take. She bends over the edge of the couch, retching and crying and hurting and wishing she could just stop dying.
She tried to tell herself that she didn't want Jeremiah to sell his body because she didn't want to share him with anyone.
But in reality, she didn't want to be reminded that Jeremiah was never hers to share to begin with.