Waking up after a fight with Tegan was like waking up with the largest hangover Sebastian ever had. Unfortunately, he’d gone through it many times in the last few days. His neck and back hurt from sleeping on the couch three nights in a row. Flashes of the night before crossed his mind as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.
He couldn’t believe they’d gone at it again. But he was always so naïve to think that once they talked things through, it would get better again. It would be like when they first started dating. He had met the Australian-born actress on set and they instantly hit it off. Just weeks after they met, they were the hottest item in Hollywood. They were perfect, everyone said so. When did it all change?
Probably after Tegan’s father died and Sebastian didn’t go to the funeral with her. How could he? He was filming at the funeral was in Sydney. But ever since then, Tegan used it in every argument. No matter what he said, she held it against him even after three years.
Their fights only got worse. They never laid a hand on each other; their shared apartment took the brunt of their anger. Several times the neighbors called the cops on them and Sebastian would leave. But he’d always be back the next morning.
Luckily the police hadn’t shown up that night. Even though Sebastian didn’t like sleeping on the couch. Tegan had slammed the bedroom door shut on him once midnight rolled around and wouldn’t let him in. He was still in his jeans and t-shirt from the day before. He sighed and went into the kitchen where most of the mess was. Sebastian had thrown a vase into the table and Tegan had broken a plate and nearly tore one of the cabinet doors off its hinges completely. She was always stronger than Sebastian gave her credit for. She could demolish the place if she very well wanted to. Sometimes it seemed like she did.
Sebastian knelt down and started picking up the shattered pieces of the blue vase off the floor.
Why had this become a routine for him? Why did he resign himself to the fact that he would just clean up their mess? He loved Tegan. But was it worth it anymore? He hated seeing her cry and scream. It didn’t matter how angry she made him, it killed him inside to see her so hurt. She would be so much happier without him.
When was the last time they were truly happy together? Sebastian paused, letting the sharp ceramic shards rest carefully in the palm of his hand. He had taken her to Disney World for her birthday and he had never seen her so happy. That was…three years ago. Four months before her father passed.
Sure they had fun moments together since then but he never saw her smile like she used to. Her eyes scrunched up, her dimples showed clearly, her white teeth shining, and her face literally glowed. Now it seemed like when she smiled at him, she was forcing it. There was always pain behind her eyes now.
He stood up and tossed the vase pieces in the trash. He was so buried in his own thoughts that he didn’t hear the bedroom door open slowly.
It was like the walk of shame for Tegan. After having such an emotional, full force argument, it was hard to look Sebastian in the face. All the names she called him and accusations were so hurtful. But they both knew exactly which buttons to push to make each other livid. She swallowed when she saw her boyfriend already trying to pick up the pieces of their last fight. She hated when her bitchy side came out and tore him down. Maybe it was misdirected anger but he was always the closest and most vulnerable target. It didn’t help that he retaliated. She felt she deserved it.
“Hey.” She said quietly. Her throat was still sore from screaming at him.
He glanced up. “Hey.” He echoed. They could barely meet each other’s eyes.
“I uh…I’ll make you breakfast before you go to the gym.” She tried to suggest a peace treaty. It usually worked. Every time they made up it worked for less than a week. It was artificial between them now. They were both so hurt and even though they loved each other, they just couldn’t get past their pain.
He shook his head. “That’s okay.” He began picking up the pieces of the plate she’d thrown.
She felt tears in her eyes. She just wanted things to be better again. Why couldn’t they go back to the way they were? Why was it so damn hard? “We can go out to dinner tonight after my script reading.”
“Tegan…” He took a deep breath and finally looked at her. Those eyes killed him. The hazel-green eyes that held so much unresolved grief. “I think I’m going to go stay with some friends for a while until I find my own place.”
Her heart sank but she wasn’t surprised. Maybe she’d been expecting it for months now. Something would have to give. Either they would admit to their mistakes and flaws or one of them would move out. It seemed like the easiest route was to just leave. “Okay.” She tried to swallow her tears but was having a hard time.
“I love you.”
“Don’t…please don’t.” She shook her head and wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand. “You’ll just make it harder.”
“I just want you to be happy, Tee.” He wanted to hold her in his arms, tell her everything would be okay, and once they were apart they’d realize how much they’d miss each other. He always thought he could never live without her. But maybe he had to for her sake. His priority was her happiness. Even if they weren’t together in the future.
She wasn’t sure what made her happy anymore. She hadn’t felt happy in years. It didn’t matter how much Sebastian cared for her or doted on her. It wasn’t enough. Nothing was enough. She was numb. “I want you to be happy too.” She replied quietly.
“Then I have to go.”
He walked over to her and kissed her forehead. “Call me if you need to.” He cleared his throat and started to walk to the bedroom. He packed a bag of some things but knew he could come back and get the rest of his stuff. He stood at the foot of the bed for a moment, lost in his thoughts. Once they had some time apart they’d get some clarity. It would be good for the both of them.
About two months later, Sebastian was sitting in his apartment in front of the TV. He was idly flipping through the channels out of boredom. But he paused when he saw Tegan’s face pop up on the screen. It was for a celebrity watch show. A young woman reported in front of the picture of Tegan on the green screen.
“The popular Australian actress has been seen out several times with her new costar, Jake Gyllenhaal.”
Sebastian’s stomach twisted up in knots. He stood up and went to the kitchen for a beer. He didn’t care if it was barely dinnertime. He was going to drink.
“What’s most surprising is speculation that Miss Cross might be expecting.”
He whipped around, nearly dropping the bottle in his hand. He neglected the bottle opener on the kitchen counter and strode back to the couch. His eyes were glued to the screen as he saw pictures flash by of Tegan and a very subtle baby bump.
“Her agent didn’t respond to the rumors but many people have noticed a change in the actress’s appearance. Now we need to wonder if she is pregnant, who’s the father? It’s only been a few months since Tegan split from past costar Sebastian Stan, her boyfriend of five years. We’ll keep you updated as the drama unfolds.”
He didn’t register the next story as it came up on the television. He was frozen in place, the cold glass sticking to his hand and the weight of regret and guilt piling up on his shoulders.
@Tegan_Cross The baby has to be Sebastian’s right?
@Tegan_Cross Are you and Sebastian going to get back together if the baby is his?
@Tegan_Cross There’s no way the baby could be Jake’s. Are you going to tell Sebastian?
@imsebastianstan Are you and Tegan getting back together?
@imsebastianstan The baby might not be yours, you should be careful
@imsebastianstan You’d be the best father
Tegan opened the door and was surprised to see her ex-boyfriend on the other side. She hadn’t seen or heard from him since he moved out his things nearly three months ago. But of course, every so often she checked up on his Instagram page. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for exactly, maybe just to see he was doing okay. Maybe she just wanted to see his face again.
But as he stood in front of her, she felt her anxiety spike. “Sebastian…”
“I don’t want to fight, I just want to talk.” He prefaced. “Can I come in?”
“Uh…” She glanced over her shoulder. “Yeah, okay.” She opened the door wider to let him into the apartment he used to live in.
Walking in, he realized she hadn’t changed much of the interior. He remembered going out to buy all new things for their apartment. Tegan said he needed to get the full picture of what the furniture might look like in their shared space. So she insisted they model the couch and kitchen table. Sebastian still had pictures of Tegan pretending to watch TV on a couch and putting on makeup in front of a mirror. She always had such a free spirit.
Sebastian was stuck in his memories so much that he did a double take when he realized they weren’t alone in the apartment.
“Sebastian, you must know Jake.”
His brain malfunctioned a little when he saw the popular actor washing his hands in the kitchen. “Oh yeah, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too, man.” He smiled and wiped his hands on the dishtowel that Sebastian’s mother had bought the couple when they moved in together. He walked around the counter to shake his hand. “Was just helping the mom-to-be clean out the spare bedroom, are you taking over for me?”
Sebastian’s eyes flicked over to Tegan who looked like she’d ran over a puppy with her car. She refused to look at him. “So it is true?” His voice was unstable as he tried to find the words.
An uncomfortable pause hung in the air. Finally, Jake cleared his throat. “I’ll let you two talk. Tegan, I’ll see you on set later this week.” He grabbed his coat and made a quick exit.
The exes stood silently, the tension between them building with each second that passed.
“Go ahead and yell at me.” She whispered.
“I’m not going to yell at you.” Sebastian’s jaw tightened as he swallowed. “I told you I’m not here to argue with you, I just wanted the truth.”
Tegan didn’t feel any sort of relief. But she sat down and allowed herself to look at him. “I’m thirteen weeks along.” She mumbled. “I didn’t know how to tell you.”
“I wish you had just said something to me instead of me finding out form a tabloid show.” He started to pace. “If I’m the father…”
“If?” Tegan laughed humorlessly. “You think I was sleeping around when we were together?”
“That’s not what I said…”
“Well you’re the only guy I’ve slept with in the last five years so unless God decided I’m the next Mary, then you’re the father.” She retorted sharply. “Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t jump into bed with the next man who looked my way after we broke up.”
Sebastian sighed. Of course, she wouldn’t do that. Once they started dating, they took things slow. Tegan had been burned in the past and she was careful about not to make the same mistake with him. “I just…I had heard rumors that…”
“Jake and I aren’t dating.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “He’s being nice and helping me try to figure out what I’m going to do.”
It was a massive relief on Sebastian’s part. Then he realized how jealous he had been at the idea someone else was dating her. “Do you know what you’re going to do?”
“Well, now that you know I guess I’d like to hear your input on it.” She admitted quietly.
“It’s not my decision to make.”
“But you’re a big deciding factor in this. I mean, if you choose not to be involved or whatever then I might have a hard time.”
“Whoa, wait.” He went to sit down beside her at the table. “Tegan, I’m not going to abandon any child of mine.” He assured her. “It doesn’t matter what we went through or what we might go through.”
Tegan ran a hand over her face and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize for anything.” He reached out to comfort her but hesitated and withdrew his hand. He had to remind himself that they weren’t dating anymore even if they had a child together.
She closed her eyes for a second. “Really? You thought you were free from me and I just roped you back in for eighteen years.”
He just chuckled. “Is that supposed to be my prison sentence or something? Tee, I think we should be happy about this. I mean, we’re going to be parents…”
“I’m worried.” She shook her head and glanced over at him. “What will people say?”
“It doesn’t matter what anyone says. We just need to focus on figuring out how we’re going to do this. We may not be together anymore but we’re teammates now.”
“Teammates?” Tegan just laughed quietly. “When was the last time we actually agreed on something?”
He shrugged. “I’d have to go back into my records.” He tried to keep the mood light so she wouldn’t feel worse about herself. It took two to make a baby and Sebastian was sure he didn’t want their child feeling like they were a mistake.
His quip got her to smile slightly. “I thought you were going to be so angry when you found out.” She admitted relief flowed through her voice.
“Tegan, I don’t know what you think about me. But I don’t hate you. We just didn’t work out. If anything I’m sad that we didn’t make it like I thought we would. But it’s not your fault.” He said softly. “Please believe me.”
She didn’t believe him. After he left, Tegan was sure it had been her fault. She was a bitch who couldn’t let the past go and drove a good man out of her life. She deserved to be miserable. Sebastian was her one shot at happiness and she blew it.
“Tee, are you happier?” He asked quietly. “I mean, before you found out you were pregnant and this all started. When I left, were you happier?”
She swallowed and wanted to tell him the truth. But she didn’t. “Yeah.” She said but her voice wobbled as she said it.
He didn’t seem to want to question her though. He just wanted to believe that his attempt at making her happier had worked. Even if he was deluding himself and knew he wasn’t happy at all. “Good.” He forced a smile. “So I’ll uh…we’ll stay in touch. Anything you need from me just let me know. I can help Jake with the nursery.” He stood up, somewhat satisfied with the conversation. At least he knew the truth.
“Yeah, I’ll let you know.” She nodded. “Thanks.”
“Just a heads up, once my mom finds out she might want to take us out to dinner. She wasn’t thrilled about the breakup so she’ll be excited to know she’ll be a grandmother at least.” He told her.
“That’s okay, I miss her. It’ll be nice to see her again.” At least Tegan could be honest about that. She stood up and her fingers grazed her baby bump. “Thanks for stopping by, Sebastian, I’ll see you later.” And it was good to say that. It was good to know he wasn’t gone for good.
This is my first time really posting a more mature fic. I'm not sure I'll write explicit smut but there will be sexual tension. It's sort of hard to write Sebastian without sexual tension...especially with that new Italian magazine shoot he did and the video behind the scenes. Oh boy...
Sebastian had to go to LA the next week. He crashed at Evans’ house for the few days. After a day of filming, he relaxed in the den. He had picked up a book about pregnancies and baby milestones. He realized how little he actually knew about kids or expecting mothers. At least he wouldn’t be going into fatherhood clueless now. He had a book.
Chris came home with some groceries. “Hey man.” He greeted his friend.
“Hey,” Sebastian’s eyes were glued to the book. It was pretty interesting and a few times he got a spark of excitement. The baby’s first smile, first laugh, first word, and first steps. He suddenly couldn’t wait.
“How was filming?”
“Alright…” He was too preoccupied to really answer him.
“What’re you reading?” Chris walked over behind the couch.
“Nothing.” He closed the book quickly.
“Is that a baby book? Does that mean the rumors are true?”
Sebastian looked over his shoulder. “You can’t tell anyone yet. Tegan hasn’t made an official statement about it. I want her to do it on her own time.”
Chris looked shocked. “I thought you said you were totally over her.”
“I am but I have to be responsible.”
He held his hands up and went to the kitchen. “I’m not disagreeing with you. But do you think you two can get along? The end of your relationship was…pretty brutal.”
“I mean we’ll have to get along.”
“So you’ll force it.”
Sebastian bit the inside of his cheek. “It’s not like we’re going to live together again. We’ll just have to be mature enough to provide a good life for the kid.”
Chris nodded and started putting the groceries away. “More power to you guys.”
“Do you think it’s possible to do that?” He asked. Sebastian trusted Chris more than most people because they were so close after years of working together. He was a good guy and if anyone would be honest, the Bostonian actor would.
“I won’t tell you it’ll be easy.” He grabbed two beers and walked over to offer one to Sebastian. “But if you two set some ground rules then you should be successful. It’s not worth bringing up the past. What you two went through is over, you’ve both moved on but now you’ve got this thing to work through.”
Sebastian took the beer and grimaced. “Eighteen years of it.”
“You’re excited though.” Chris pointed at the book.
“Who wouldn’t be?”
“I think a lot of guys. But you’re not cut like most of them.” He returned to the kitchen.
“I grew up without my dad, I’m not going to do that to my own child.” He replied firmly. “No matter how difficult it might be.”
Tegan was returning from a short run when she saw Sebastian waiting by her door.
She was surprised to see him. “Hey…”
He glanced up from his phone. “Oh, hey. I was just going to text you. I figured you were out.”
“I thought you were in LA.” She stood frozen on her spot in the hallway.
“Yeah, they didn’t need me so I came home an extra day early. I think Evans was glad, he was flirting with this girl from the gym and wanted to bring her back to his place.”
Tegan smiled slightly and went to unlock her door. “What are you doing here?” She let him into the apartment.
“Uh…” Sebastian lost his train of thought as his eyes lingered on her ass clad in leggings.
She glanced over her shoulder and his eyes immediately went back to her eyes to cover up the fact he was checking her out.
He cleared his throat and tried to clear up the fog in his brain. There was no way he could be checking out his ex-girlfriend. Pregnant ex-girlfriend. “I found some of your clothes in my apartment. They were kind of buried in my drawers.” He held out the bag to her.
“Oh, thanks.” She took the bag and went to set it down by the kitchen counter. No doubt it smelled like him and she would want to wash out the scent of his cologne. She didn’t want any painful memories whenever she got dressed.
Despite his earlier scolding to himself, he couldn’t help but notice how good Tegan looked. She seemed to be working out and looked much stronger than before. He could see the slight baby bump from underneath her tank top and she seemed to have a healthy glow to her face.
“You look great, Tee.” He said quietly.
The polite face plastered on her face suddenly disappeared. “Don’t call me that.” She replied coldly and turned to fill up her water bottle.
“C’mon, I’m trying to be friendly.” Sebastian saw she still had walls up. She had for years but when they were dating, she sometimes let him in. She’d shown him her vulnerable side and cried in front of him. But he was sure that changed.
“Friendly? Sebastian, we’re not together and we’re certainly not friends.” She retorted sharply. “This…concern for me or whatever you want to call it isn’t going to fly. You don’t need to be around for my pregnancy.”
“Tegan, that’s ridiculous.”
“It’s not ridiculous, this is my journey, not yours.”
“It’s our child,” Sebastian argued. “I’m pretty sure it’s my right to be around for the whole ‘journey’.”
“Oh I’m sorry, were you concerned about me after we broke up?” She tilted her head to the side in a condescending way.
“I didn’t know you were pregnant, that’s not fair.”
“Whatever, Sebastian, just leave me alone.”
“I can never win with you, Tegan!” He threw his hands up in frustration. “I’m sure if I up and abandoned you, denied the baby, and cut off contact you’d demonize me. And I guess if I’m attentive and willing to work with you, it’s the same way!”
Despite using all her energy during her run, the actress seemed willing to fight. She stormed up to him with hellfire in her eyes. “Why don’t you leave then? Forget about the baby, forget about me, and go back to that whore you were fooling around with right after we broke up.” She spat.
She was much smaller than Sebastian so he had to bend down a little to get in her face, just like old times. “You’d like that wouldn’t you? So down the line, you can tell everyone that I’m a deadbeat who doesn’t care about his child? Buckle up, princess, I’m not going anywhere. You’re going to have to deal with me because I have rights too.”
“So it’s just about the baby? You’re sure you’re not regretting leaving me?” She stood up straight and didn’t back away from him. She was good at upping the ante when they fought. In fact, they didn’t match each other’s energy, they kicked it up a notch with every sentence. “Realize that I’m the best you could get? That stupid blonde wasn’t good enough for you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He rolled his eyes. But he couldn’t argue the fact that he still had feelings for Tegan. He’d be stupid if he didn’t. They had such a long history together. It wasn’t easy giving someone up that quickly.
“You barely waited a week before you moved on!”
“I didn’t date anyone after you, you’re delusional!”
“I fucking hate you.” There were tears in her eyes but she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.
“Good! I hate you too.”
“Keep screaming at me, Tegan, you’re not going to change my mind about this.”
“I hate you…I hate you so much!” Hurt bubbled over and she grabbed Sebastian by the nape of the neck, kissing him roughly.
He wasn’t sure that was the result he was going for but he wasn’t going to fight it. He was a man and he wasn’t immune to his natural instincts. He gripped her hips, returning the kiss fiercely. He nearly forgot how amazing her body felt against his.
“Eat your heart out, Stan.” She growled and tugged his lower lip with her teeth.
Just like she knew how to get him furious, she knew exactly how to get him hot and bothered. “You’re the one who can’t keep away from me.” He retorted just to rile her up.
“Fuck me, now.” She demanded.
She didn’t need to tell him twice. He grabbed the back of her thighs and easily hoisted her into his arms to bring her to their old bedroom.
I usually write really fluffy and ideal relationships so it's a change to write a toxic one. It's a little fun though...
Sebastian had forgotten how comfortable his old bed was. He and Tegan had picked it out after trying ever mattress in the store at least twice. He stretched and yawned, thinking for a moment that he very well could be back in his old life. Maybe he never walked out.
But once look at Tegan’s sleeping body and he was brought back to reality. She had pushed all the covers aside like she usually did. Her baby bump was in full display as she stretched out, barely giving Sebastian any room.
He lingered for half a second before quietly getting up and gathering his clothes. He winced as he pulled his shirt back on. There was no need to look, Sebastian knew Tegan had left her mark with scratches from her nails running down his back. Indents scattered down his forearms too as she gripped his biceps, threatening to draw blood. She’d really torn into him last night, and Sebastian thought he was the sex deprived one. Maybe it was the hormones. He was one hundred percent sure she’d go off on him if he mentioned that.
But he couldn’t stay to talk. They weren’t back in a relationship. It was obvious they just had some leftover pent up aggression towards each other that partly manifested in sex. That was the opposite of a relationship.
But they fell into a toxic routine that lasted for a few weeks. As fans speculated over Tegan’s growing stomach and her potential rekindling with Sebastian, they continued meeting up.
Sometimes they argued beforehand, sometimes they skipped the pleasantries. Sebastian always left before Tegan woke up and the cycle repeated again. Sometimes it’d be a few nights in a row. It seemed like they couldn’t get rid of the frustration they had. Sebastian was sure something had to give and they’d be done but there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. He tried processing their relationship but it was murky and when he was with her, he was in too deep to think clearly.
Tegan had a strange effect on him and it seemed mutual. He could be so angry with her if she kept jabbing at sensitive issues. But when they got to the point of ripping into each other, she was so intoxicating. It was like being blessed by a sinner disguised as an angel.
Sebastian didn’t feel dirty afterward, it was more of a hollow feeling. He thought about what could be if they dropped the resentment towards each other. If anything, he felt guilty that he was focusing more on the torrid rendezvous than the child they were going to welcome in the world.
He was already panning out to be a terrible father. That’s how he scolded himself every time he made the walk back to his apartment. But he wasn’t sure how else to have a respectable and decent relationship with Tegan. Maybe if he could get his head out of the haze, he could figure out a way. But they kept gravitating back towards each other, ready to repeat the cycle for another night.
To atone, Sebastian helped Chris and some of Tegan’s friends throw her a baby shower. He hoped it would get him into the father role and set himself straight.
But like everything else in his life at that moment, it ended up in a disaster. But he didn't notice.
It started off normally though; they’d rented out a restaurant for the event, one of Tegan’s favorites in Manhattan. She was surprised for sure, more surprised to see Sebastian out and not in her bedroom, and even more surprised to see him flirting with one of her friends.
It turned the shower into a storm faster than Tegan could say, “Oh my God! What a surprise!”
Frankie was a pretty model with long legs who was just getting into the acting scene. She was beautiful with silky auburn hair, a seductive smile, and no baby bump. Of course, Sebastian would be attracted to her. But Tegan got the man in her bedroom practically every night.
Even as she thought that, with jealousy in her eyes, she realized it didn’t mean anything. She was just a good fuck to him. Despite their past relationship, he wouldn’t want to be back with her. She ruined his happiness.
“Tee, are you alright?” Her best friend, Victoria, asked.
“Fine.” She replied through gritted teeth. She couldn’t decide if she wanted to go cry in the bathroom or make a scene by throwing the glass in her hand.
She watched Frankie laugh and bat her eyelashes at Sebastian. And he was eating up the attention. He was always thinking with his dick it seemed.
Two could play at that game as far as Tegan was concerned. The envy was completely warping her thoughts that she didn’t even realize how poisonous it was. She’d bring his attention back to her. She’d make him regret ever looking at Frankie. It didn’t matter at the present moment though. That night, she’d have him on his knees then she’d make her move.
“You seem really out of it.” Victoria stood outside with Tegan for a breath of air.
“I really wish I could drink.” She didn’t address the concern.
“You’ve been glaring at Sebastian all night, what’s up with you two? I thought you were trying to work it out for the baby?”
Tegan chewed at the inside of her cheek, her hand shaking by her hip. “Yeah.” She mumbled and checked the time on her phone. She wondered when she could leave her own baby shower and demand Sebastian come over to her place.
“Speak of the devil.” She muttered under her breath as Sebastian walked out with Frankie.
“Hey, uh…it was nice to see you.” He came off as courteous in public. He never even had the decency to leave a note before he left each morning.
“Yeah, thanks for coming.” Tegan did her best to rein in the jealous demeanor she’d been feeling all night.
He smiled. “I’m going to walk Frankie home.” He said as if it were a code for, ‘I’m not coming over to have sex tonight because I’ve found someone else’.
She had to take a slow breath to keep from losing her cool. Every raging pregnancy hormone was telling her to give him a piece of her mind.
“See you later, Tee.” Frankie smiled and waved. The woman who had the nerve to flirt with the father of her child at her baby shower.
Once they were out of earshot, Tegan let loose. “Slut.” She spat.
“I didn’t think she would go after Sebastian…I don’t know if she knows he’s the father…”
“I wasn’t talking about Frankie, I was talking about Sebastian.”
“Uh…okay. Is there a reason?”
“We’ve been sleeping together for about a month.” She told her. There was nothing she kept from Victoria.
“What?” The fellow actress looked bewildered. “You two were practically at each other’s throats when you broke up.”
“That hasn’t changed, we just fuck after we fight.” She explained bluntly.
“Tee, that’s really unhealthy.”
For the first time, a voice of reason interrupted her vicious thoughts. “We can’t have a healthy relationship.” She muttered.
“Then you can’t have a relationship at all,” Victoria said firmly. “You think you can raise a baby like that? You have a toxic relationship and he keeps getting you pregnant? How about you focus on giving this baby a good life. Sebastian can have a relationship with the kid but you two need to stay away from each other.” Never one to beat around the bush, her friend tried to smack her out of the disillusion.
“I can’t…I can’t stay away from him.”
“Then we need to detox you. You block his number; if he needs to talk to you he can go through me. You stay at my place for the weekend, he’s not going to see you.”
“I’m not a child, Vic.”
“You’re acting like a brat.” She replied and crossed her arms over her chest. “Do you want to keep living like someone who doesn’t respect herself?”
Tegan paused. Was that what it was? She was angry with herself for letting the relationship with Sebastian fall apart so she degraded herself by being his fuck buddy minus the buddy part?
“Well?” Victoria pressed.
Tegan’s lower lip quivered. “I didn’t want it to end. I still love him.”
“I know.” She sighed and hugged her friend tightly. “It’s not easy breaking up and finding out you’re pregnant after the fact. Of course, you still have feelings. But what good are you doing if you keep this pattern? You aren’t suddenly going to fall in love again if you keep hating each other.”
“I don’t hate him.” She sniffled.
“You’re acting as if you hate yourself. And I can’t let you do that because you’re a beautiful girl who is going to be a great mother. But you need to leave him behind.”
“I know…” Tegan whispered. “I’ll come to stay with you.” She handed over her phone so Victoria could block Sebastian’s number.
Sebastian didn’t sleep with Frankie. But they kissed at the door before he left. It made him feel like a monster.
The next morning, he walked down to a coffee shop to clear his head. He was so conflicted about everything in his life. He pulled out his phone and tried to call Tegan. He figured he could at least apologize for what he’d done at the shower.
“This number is busy, please call again.” The robotic voice on the other line was strange. Tegan never turned her phone off even in the movie theater she left it on. Thrown off, he contemplated the possibility that she hadn’t made it back home safely. He trusted Victoria, but not enough.
He wasn’t really concerned with the fact that he might look a little overbearing. Or very overbearing. He ditched the idea of coffee and headed to Tegan’s apartment.
“Tegan?” He knocked on the door a few times, and then another few times, and three more times again. If she wasn’t home there was only one place she could be.
“Victoria, it’s Sebastian.” He called as he knocked on the door.
A few minutes later, the tall actress opened the door. “Sebastian, what a nice surprise.” She said with sarcasm dripping off her tongue. “Come to hit on me next?”
He should’ve expected a frosty welcoming. Even when he and Tegan were dating, Victoria didn’t like him. Mostly because she witnessed them fighting before. “Well I’m not here for you, I’m here to apologize to Tegan.” He wasn’t in the mood to deal with her. But if that had to be his punishment, he’d take it.
“She’s not here.” Victoria held an arm out to completely block the view of the apartment.
“Bullshit, she’s not at her apartment so where else would she be?”
“Maybe she’s dead in a ditch somewhere.” She replied deadpan.
“That’s not funny.” He gave her a look. “I know she’s in there.”
“So now you care?” She demanded. “You didn’t seem too interested in her last night. Why don’t you just leave her alone and stop playing games with her.”
“I’m not…” He let out a frustrated sound and took a few steps away from the door to take a deep breath. “I’m trying to apologize to her.”
“Well even if she were, she doesn’t want to speak to you. She’s taking care of herself and her baby.”
“Oh, I wasn’t aware you were pregnant too! Congrats. She’s doing the work you’re just the baby daddy.” She tilted her head to the side and gave him a simpering look. “Beat it, we don’t want you here.”
“So she is here. Thanks, Vic.” Sebastian pushed past her and walked down the hallway to the room Tegan sometimes stayed in.
“Hey, asshole, I could call the police on you.” Victoria snapped. “But instead I think I want to kick your ass.” She put her hands on her hips. The actress was training for an action movie so she had the confidence to take on the man.
“You can do that after I talk to her.” He knocked on the third door of that day. “Tegan, I know you’re here.”
There was a silence for a moment before the pregnant woman opened the door. Her eyes were red from crying and she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her sweater. “Go away, Sebastian, I don’t want to see you.” She tried to shut him out.
He stuck his foot in the way and put a hand on the door. “Will you please just listen for once?” He asked.
Her face was like stone as she stared blankly at him. “There’s nothing you could say that would make me change my mind. Victoria’s right, you’re no good for me.”
“So you’ve been letting Victoria get into your head? What does she know about us?”
“Hey!” The other actress snapped. “I watched you two mentally fuck with each other for five years. Don’t say I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
“I know what we’re doing isn’t working. But if I need to change, I will. I want what’s best for our baby.” There was still frustration laced in his voice though. After the measure he took to find her, he assumed he at least deserved a chance to explain himself. Maybe that was the problem, he felt entitled to something from Tegan.
She looked conflicted and crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t know…”
“C’mon, let’s just go back to your place and we can talk it through.” He softened his voice a little to coax her.
Tegan thought for a moment. “No…no, I can’t get back into that cycle with you.” She whispered. “Go home.” She shut the door, forcing him back.
Regret, guilt, and frustration built up in Sebastian. He faced Victoria. “Seriously?”
“Don’t even step to me, Stan.” She replied sharply.
“I’m trying to work things out with her and you’re sticking your nose into something that has nothing to do with you!” He raised his voice, not willing to see himself as the one to blame. Victoria was an easy target.
“You’re not trying to work on anything with her!” Victoria wasn’t weak. If a strong man came at her, she didn’t back down. “You two only know how to yell at each other and fuck. How in the world do you think that’s going to solve anything? Someone had to break the cycle, and neither of you was going to do it. I stuck my nose in your business to help my friend realize she was falling victim to you manipulating her!”
“I wasn’t manipulating her.” Sebastian rolled his eyes. “You continue to think you’re the only one on this planet who seems to understand relationships. Guess what, relationships aren’t easy and sometimes couples argue.”
“Right, so when you’re not arguing what are you doing?” Victoria demanded.
He paused because he couldn’t give her an answer he wanted to say out loud.
“Exactly.” She glared at him. “You think you can just solve things by having sex but that’s not a relationship, dumbass. She’s not some girl you can keep tied to you. Don’t you want her to be happy?”
Sebastian felt his chest tighten. Happier. He had wanted her to be happier, that’s why he left in the first place. But once he found out about the pregnancy, he wanted things to change again. He wanted a perfect relationship with her, even if he had to force it. But after a month of their encounters, he pushed his desires aside for his selfish needs. Then he had thought it was okay to flirt with another woman because he didn’t think Tegan would feel anything. He thought she didn’t feel because she only showed anger.
He ran a hand over his face. “Victoria, if I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t still be here.” His voice lowered.
“If you loved her, you’d let her be happy.” She retorted but seemed to release some of the anger she had. “I don’t know what the future holds. Maybe you two can work it out but right now you need to leave each other alone. I’m not saying she’s a saint; she’s just as bad as you are. But you’re the one who came knocking.”
Sebastian bit the inside of his cheek and looked at the bedroom door. “Just…” He pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment. “If you take care of her and make sure I know she’s okay, I’ll back off. But you can’t cut me out completely.”
“Fine.” Victoria crossed her arms. “But if you pull this shit again, you’re done.”
He nodded and turned to leave. “Just tell her I’m sorry for everything.” He mumbled as he walked out of the apartment.
Sebastian flew out to LA the next week. He had to film but he went a little early to get out of New York. Being away from Tegan was like withdrawal. He had frequent dreams about her, couldn’t get her out of his mind, kept ruminating over their last argument, and woke up in a cold sweat desperate to be beside her. But with hundreds of miles between them, his head felt a little clearer. Maybe it was just the possessive feeling lingering. He had no right to Tegan. Nothing he did gave him the slightest possibility of deserving her. But he still wanted her.
Sebastian sat on Chris’s balcony, smoking his third cigarette of the day.
“Are you trying to give yourself lung cancer early or…” Chris stepped out onto the balcony.
“Yeah, right.” He grumbled a reply. “You smoke too, jerk.”
“Mhm…” The blond actor let out a sigh as he sat down next to his friend. “What’s on your mind, champ?”
“What do you think?” Sebastian wasn’t in the mood for lightheartedness. He wanted to smoke, get wasted, or sleep for the rest of the day.
“Look, this thing with Tegan will blow over. You two can make it work if you try.” Chris wasn’t fully aware of the nature of their relationship. He’d seen them dating but unlike Victoria, he never saw them in their natural state at each other’s throats. “Have you talked to her at all since you found out about the pregnancy?”
That made Sebastian groan out loud. “Yeah, we talked and then we hate-fucked each other when it was done.”
“Whoa…I didn’t need to know that.” Chris made a face of shock and discomfort. “That sounds…unhealthy.”
“Wow, no one has ever told me that.” He retorted sarcastically. “I got a verbal ass beating from Victoria, but thanks for agreeing with her.”
“Well, is there anything to disagree with? You two aren’t together, you have a child on the way, and you’re in a friends-with-benefits relationship. Sounds unhealthy to me.”
“Not anymore, Victoria convinced her to completely cut me out of her life.” Sebastian took a drag from the cigarette and held the smoke in for a beat before letting it slip past his lips slowly. “Now I feel like the biggest asshole on the planet because of the way I treated her. But I know that if we went back to each other it would just end up doing the same thing over and over again.”
“So you either need to not be together or work it out.” Chris shrugged and reached over to take a cigarette from the pack and grabbed the lighter off the small table between the chairs.
“Yeah, we were trying to work it out when this all started. But that lasted about a day.”
“Maybe instead of yelling at each other about the same things, just try a different approach.” Chris cupped the lighter so the wind wouldn’t blow out the flame. “I mean, what made you two start fighting in the first place?” He asked after the first puff of the cigarette.
“When we were dating?” Sebastian’s voice trailed off as he reached back into the past. “I mean…things fell apart after her dad died.” He said. He always knew that was the root cause but never saw a way around it. People died and everyone coped differently. Tegan lashed out.
“When did that happen?”
“Three years ago, the end of the summer.”
Chris thought for a moment. “That’s when we were filming Civil War.”
“Yeah, that’s why I couldn’t go, the funeral was in Australia.”
His friend looked over at him with a raised eyebrow. “Your serious girlfriend lost her father and you didn’t go to the funeral?” He questioned.
“Oh, for God’s sake don’t give me that look.” Sebastian spat and stubbed out his cigarette fiercely. “That’s the same look she gave me. Look if I wasn’t working I could’ve gone.”
“Sebastian, maybe she’s sick of you making excuses. Hell, if you gave me that excuse for something that big, I’d be angry.”
“It was three years ago, I understand she’s hurt but why am I her only target? I'm pretty sure none of her friends went. She wants to cut me out because of a mistake I made? I used bad judgment, sure, but I don’t know what else I can say!” He gritted his teeth in irritation.
“Did you ever apologize to her or did you just give excuses?” Chris wasn’t quick to argue with him. He was a straight shooter, not someone who got caught up in the drama.
“I…” He paused. Had he ever apologized to her? He recalled many conversations, rather, arguments, about the matter. But Sebastian always got defensive whenever Tegan blamed and accused him. He never once apologized. “Fuck…” He whispered.
“Yeah, maybe that’s why she never let it go because you kept dragging it out instead of owning up and apologizing. I think if you want to make it work, you quit the constant arguing in a circle and just apologize.”
“She won’t forgive me.” Sebastian looked down guiltily. How could he have never apologized? How could he think it was acceptable to make weak excuses for not being there in her time of need? “It’s been too long…I’ve done too much damage.”
“Well even if she doesn’t accept it, at least you get it out.”
Sebastian sighed deeply and put his head in his hands. “Alright, it’s the least I can do for her.”
Sebastian: I need to talk to Tegan.
Victoria: We talked about this.
Sebastian: It’s really important. Please, just give me a chance.
Victoria: Her sanity is important. We agreed I would tell you what’s happening but you would stay away. Don’t go back on that now.
Sebastian: I want to apologize to her.
Victoria: You came to apologize last time and that really went poorly didn’t it? So, no, stay away.
Sebastian: I want to apologize for abandoning her when her father passed away.
Victoria: If you two start fighting you leave immediately.
Sebastian flew back to New York a few days later. He wrote out what he was going to say a few times to make sure he didn’t lose his words and get upset. It was imperative he kept a level head when they spoke.
To his surprise, Tegan was waiting by the baggage claim, in front of the doors of the taxi stand. She wore a hat to keep conspicuous, just like she always did. She liked meeting her fans but also liked her privacy.
She was wearing a form-fitting sweater and her ever-growing baby bump was visible as Sebastian walked over to her. As usual, strong emotions formed when he saw her. But it wasn’t anger or frustration. It was guilt, embarrassment, and shame. This was still the woman he fell in love with, the woman he wanted to marry, the mother of his unborn child, and he used and abused her emotionally. He was a selfish jackass who got so defensive when she tried to call him out on his bullshit. He had no idea how he let it go so far.
Without a word, he enveloped her into his arms. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, inhaling her familiar perfume and the scent of her shampoo.
She hesitantly wrapped her arms around his neck.
He couldn’t remember the last time he held her, trying to comfort her and shield her from the outside world and the hurt. The hurt he caused.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered.
He felt dabs of warm tears making contact with his skin as she began to cry. He pulled back to look in her eyes so she knew he was speaking from the heart. “I let you down. I abandoned you. I put you through hell for no good reason other than my pride. I promised I wouldn’t put my needs before yours but I did. I said I’d be there for you but I wasn’t at your lowest point of your life. I’m sorry I didn’t go to your father’s funeral. I was an idiot and I can’t believe I became this person who would make excuses for doing such an awful thing.” He whispered and used his thumb to wipe some of the tears from her face.
Her lower lip quivered as she looked at him. “I just wanted you to apologize. You never apologized.” She hiccupped.
“I know and that is inexcusable. I know I tried to make it your problem and take the attention off of myself. I was so in denial I didn’t want to face what I’d done to you.”
“I made it worse.” She swallowed. “I just added gas to the fire.”
“You were hurt, that’s understandable. You had every right to be angry with me. I had no right to treat you the way I did. And I can’t believe other people had to make me realize that. I really thought I could be better than that.”
Tegan took a deep breath and touched his cheek. “I just…didn’t think we’d end up like this.” She whispered. “I was so in love with you.”
“I know. I assumed life would be perfect for us. And when it didn’t turn out that way…when I saw you so distraught by your loss, I just wanted it to go away. I thought things would be better if we ignored it.”
“If we had just talked it through earlier maybe things would be better.” She agreed. “But we’re both too stubborn.”
“We need to talk it through. There are years of hurt, I know that and it’s not healthy to keep it all hidden. Victoria was right, we thought fighting would solve our issues but we just kept accusing and yelling in circles. We never sat down and told each other how we felt.”
Tegan closed her eyes for a second and rested against his chest. “I couldn’t stop loving you.”
“I still love you.” He whispered. “I would’ve given up so long ago if I didn’t.”
“Then why did we go through this?”
“It’s my fault. Tegan, everything I did, I did it completely wrong. And I know our relationship is still broken and you’re still hurting. But I promise I’ll do everything I can for you. I know I said that before but if we have to go to counseling or talk every night I would do that for you. I’d do anything for you.” He gently brushed his fingers through her hair. It had been so long that he’d touched her so gently and intimately. Their angry sex wasn’t a sign of love. This was love as her fingertips brushed down the nape of his neck. It made him want to cry from relief.
Years and months of hurt were spilling out in a healthy way for the first time.
He kissed her forehead. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make it up to you. But, the best I can do is try to be a better man and the best father I can possibly be. You tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it.”
“I just need you to be here for me. I’ve felt so lonely after my father died. I’ve had no one.”
A dagger went through Sebastian’s heart when she saw the devastation in her eyes. How could he do this to her? It was like he was sobering up after two years of being drunk on his own ego and anger. “Tee, I’m so sorry.” His voice was shattered as he bowed his head in an act of contrition. “I’ll be there for you. Every day if you need a shoulder to cry on.”
“Why do you deserve this chance?” She questioned even though she felt ready to jump back into his arms. She needed to know their relationship wouldn’t spiral out of control again. She had a child on the way and she couldn’t risk that chance. No child should grow up in a volatile environment.
“I don’t. I don’t deserve anything from you.” Sebastian did his best to hold back the tears. “You have every right to walk away from me. But the only thing I can do to make it up to you is showing you I can change. If you need time, I’ll wait. I’ll wait forever, Tegan.”
She bit her lip and scrunched up her nose as fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. “I need time to think about it. But will you please come home with me tonight? I just need you to hold me.” She pled.
“Of course.” He nodded and wrapped an arm around her to walk out to the car.
They were quiet as they both got ready for bed and got under the covers. Before, it seemed like they were always going to be angry at each other. They turned their backs to each other, never cuddling. Or Sebastian would be on the couch or Tegan would stay with Victoria.
Mending would have to be made. As simple as it seemed, Sebastian knew it was a big step. He needed to show her his commitment.
She turned on her side and he found his old spot behind her, one arm wrapped around her waist, holding her close to his chest. He tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear and kissed her shoulder. Every movement was cautious and gentle as they readjusted to the life they had once lived together. It was unfamiliar territory but it was a relief to walk it again.
Tegan reached for his hand and laced her fingers in with his just like she used to. She pressed his hand to her stomach, letting him rest on the baby bump.
“I have an ultrasound appointment on Monday.” She told him, breaking the silence of the dark bedroom. “Will you come?”
“Yes, of course.” He felt butterflies in his stomach. This was what was important. He would be able to see his child for the first time. He kissed her temple and closed his eyes.
“Thank you.” She replied.
“No, thank you.”
It wasn’t an easy beginning. Tegan still wanted space and time to herself. Victoria watched over them like a hawk, making sure Sebastian didn’t mess up again. But he refused to go back to their past relationship. He found a therapist, one who was willing to work with Tegan or the both of them together.
He still felt guarded around his feelings. He was much more used to his public figure, someone who didn’t need to talk about his feelings. The general population just wanted to hear the fluffy things about his life and his opinions on his movies and characters. Those were much easier questions to answer.
The therapist wasn’t soft on him. She challenged everything about his actions in the past few years. For a moment, Sebastian thought the woman would be a gentle, comforting figure who agreed with what he said. But that was his misconception about the world around him. He thought everyone would understand and agree with his point of view. But he was very wrong about so many things.
However, it wasn’t about tearing him down as a human. It was getting him to understand the effect he had on others and the effect they had on him. It was about opening up and dealing with all the hard things he pushed away for years. None of it was easy and he often went home feeling conflicted. But it was the part of healing. He needed to heal himself before he brought Tegan into the picture and started working on their relationship.
All the while, he joined Tegan on her twenty-week scan. He felt a little more at ease with being around her. But they didn’t discuss difficult subjects, it was too soon and Victoria said if they wanted to, it would be prudent to talk in front of a professional. That way there would be an emotional referee to facilitate the conversation instead of letting it spiral into their usual arguments.
Sebastian tapped his fingers on his knees as he and Tegan waited for the doctor to show up. He held her clothes in his lap, her purse by his feet.
“Do these make you more excited?” He asked.
She nodded, a very faint smile on her face. “Yeah. It’s nice to see the baby instead of just feeling them.” She swung her feet off the examination table, her heels knocking together.
“And the baby’s been healthy in the past scans?” He felt like kicking himself for not asking sooner.
You can’t beat yourself up for the past. You need to acknowledge mistakes you may have made and move forward. The voice of his therapist echoed in his head.
He took a deep breath and tried to adjust his thought pattern. He’d made the mistake of not being concerned enough about the baby. But now he was fully invested in the development of his first child. Part of him thought he didn’t deserve the chance and opportunity to care. But as long as Tegan was allowing him, he wanted to be excited and optimistic.
Tegan nodded. “My doctor said they’re developing normally.” She answered and looked over at him. “I’m really glad you came.”
Sebastian looked surprised. He had briefly thought that she was doing it merely to placate him or pity him. “I’m glad you invited me. I know…” He paused and wondered whether he should delve deeper into the conversation. The doctor’s office was not the place to go into their feelings. But he needed to say at least one thing to her and decided it would probably be harmless. “I know I haven’t been there. And I’m working on all of that. I just wanted to thank you for understanding that.”
Tegan wrung her hands together and looked seconds away from crying. “I just don’t think I can do this without you.”
“Tee…Tegan.” He corrected himself and stood up, setting her clothes down on the chair. “I don’t want you to go through his alone but I also know you’re strong enough to handle things.”
She reached for him, her fingers wrapping around his shirt. “No, I’m not.” She mumbled into his chest.
Sebastian slowly wrapped his arms around her, allowing her to make herself at home in his embrace.
“When you left I was a complete mess. I knew I had fucked up everything and I didn’t think I could get you back.”
“No, you didn’t do anything wrong. We had such a good relationship at the start; I was too stupid to think it would ever change. And when it did…I wanted to ignore it all. I just wanted things to go back to normal but I didn’t want to do any of the work to get to that point. I treated you poorly for years, I’m sorry.”
“I loved you so much. I don’t think I ever stopped but it was so hard. I didn’t want to love you anymore.”
“I didn’t deserve your love. But I’m going to do everything I can to make things right.” He promised and smoothed her hair back.
“But it’s not just you, Sebs.” She looked up at him with tearful eyes. “If we’re going to make it through for this baby then it needs to be both of us. We created this mess together, we created this child together, we work through this together.”
He nodded. “Okay, I agree.”
It’s all about responsibility and accountability.
God, the therapist would probably end up being the little conscious voice in his brain from now on.
“I’ll go to sessions with you.” She said quietly almost like she was intimidated by the idea. But she was facing it head-on.
“I’d really like that. I know it’ll do some good for us both.” He resisted the urge to kiss her forehead or tell her he loved her. Little victories.
The doctor arrived and flicked off the lights after prepping Tegan for the ultrasound. “Okay, let’s see how this baby’s turning out.” She smiled and started to move the wand around on Tegan’s abdomen.
Sebastian leaned forward to look carefully at the screen. It hit him like a semi truck when he made out a small hand held up by a tiny nose.
“And there they are.”
There wasn’t much to stop Sebastian from crying. His negative mind told him to feel guilty and retreat. He didn’t deserve to even look at this child. But the healing positive mind was overjoyed to see his first child for the first time.
He felt Tegan’s hand slip into his. He clasped his other hand around hers. She inhaled shakily, her eyes glued to the screen.
“Can you see if it’s a boy or a girl?” She asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Let’s see if they’re ready to show us.” The doctor shifted the wand a little bit and smiled. “Looks like you’ve got a little boy on the way.” She announced to them.
Sebastian instantly saw his future. Holding his son, watching him walk for the first time, giving him piggyback rides, teaching him how to ride a bike, bringing him everywhere he ever wanted to go, carrying him back to the car as he slept, laughing with him, being the best father he could be. And in every projection into the future, Tegan was right alongside them, happy.
Sebastian helped carry in groceries for Tegan as she unlocked her apartment.
“Thanks for coming along with me.” She said gratefully and walked into the kitchen.
Sebastian let the door shut behind him and he followed her inside to put the food away. “Of course. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping with someone else.” He chuckled. “It was probably you, actually.”
“Probably was.” She agreed and started to pull food out from the bags. “We always went pretty late, after we worked.”
“I guess old habits die hard.” He said as he noted the clock read eight o’clock. “Well, I’ll help with this and head home. I don’t want to keep you awake. I read that pamphlet in the doctor’s office about sleeping when you’re pregnant.”
“Or you could stay for the night,” Tegan replied, her back to him as she placed the eggs in the refrigerator.
Sebastian paused, holding a box of pasta in his hands. “I probably shouldn’t.” He needed to remind himself of the boundaries they had to have as they healed.
“I’m not asking you to sleep with me.” She turned around but her eyes still didn’t meet his. “Maybe I’m just lonely.”
He realized she was ashamed of admitting that. He knew he felt the same way. It was like going to her with his tail between his legs and telling her he hated sleeping alone. How he sometimes woke up thinking he was holding her but it was just a pillow.
“And you think I can help you?” He wasn’t accusing, he just wanted to be honest.
“Don’t flatter yourself, Stan.” She folded up her grocery tote and placed it to the side.
“I’m not saying it like that.” He walked to the pantry. “I-I don’t know what I’m saying to be honest.” He walked over to her.
Tegan finally looked up at him. “I thought we already established that we missed each other.” She reminded him.
“We do…we did. I just don’t want to force things.”
“I’m not forcing anything. I’m lonely and I miss you.” She said with a little more confidence in her voice. “And I think I’ve been lonely for a very long time, even when we were together.” She tapped her hand on the granite counter and looked down again. “After my dad died, I was so lonely. Maybe I’m asking you to show me now that I’m not alone. That you’re here for me like you used to be. I don’t know if we need to wait to talk about our needs to the therapist but I just want to request that one thing right now. And if you want to wait, we can I just…needed to say it out loud.”
Sebastian rested her hand over hers to keep her from fidgeting more. “I’ll stay.” He agreed quietly. “I’ve been lonely for a long time too. I guess I was just too stubborn to admit it. But I’ll stay.”
“Okay. Good.” She swallowed and withdrew to finish putting away the groceries. “I still have some of your clothes.” She told him.
He chuckled. “Yeah, I thought I was missing some things.”
She shrugged. “Sorry, I just couldn’t give them up.” She said simply.
“I think I’m going to take a bath before bed.” She put away her totes in the hallway closet. “Feel free to…do whatever. There’s that tea you like in the drawer. Um…okay, I’ll stop talking.”
He smiled and nodded. “Okay. Thanks.” He wanted to make her feel comfortable but it was a matter of adjusting again. They couldn’t go back to their routine but it didn’t have to be strange finding a new one. It would just be a process.
Sebastian decided to take up Tegan’s offer and started the kettle. He found the herbal tea that always helped him sleep. He tried finding it when he moved out but he couldn’t remember where Tegan had bought it. He was too cowardly to ask.
He found the mug he always used, the powder blue one with the name of a hotel they visited once when everything was perfect. A small boutique hotel in San Francisco. They were so happy.
As he pulled the mug out of the cabinet, his fingers brushed up against Tegan’s favorite mug, a teal round ceramic mug. It had a little cat dozing on the bottom of the cup. She always smiled when she saw it. Sebastian loved seeing that familiar smile. He pulled the mug out and glanced inside to see the cat. He set the mugs down on the counter and decided to ask Tegan if she wanted tea too.
“Yeah?” Tegan’s voice called over the running bath tap after he knocked.
“I’m going to make some tea, can I make you one too?” He asked.
“Sure, just that chamomile blend with a little bit of honey.” She requested. “Thank you.”
Sebastian returned to the kitchen to finish up making the teas. The domesticity of it all made his heart ache. It made him wonder what the future held for them. He still wasn’t sure how they would raise their child. By then would their relationship be stable enough? Or would they come to the conclusion that they were meant to be apart? It was something else he had to wait for the revelation to come in the therapist’s office.
He brought the tea down the hall and knocked on the bathroom door again with his elbow. The tap had been turned off and he heard the movement of water.
“You can come in.”
Sebastian hesitated but nudged the door open. The bathroom was warm, steam coming from the tub. A vanilla scent wafted from the water. He knew Tegan always had a penchant for bath bombs and bubble baths. He set his mug on the bathroom counter and cautiously walked over to her.
“Sebs, it’s not the first time you’ve seen me naked.” She reminded him and held out a hand to take the mug. She was immersed in pastel-colored bubbles. She always said baths were boring if the water wasn’t a weird color.
“I know.” He cleared his throat. Still, he tried to keep his eyes in a respectful area.
“You’re funny sometimes.” She shook her head.
He let out a small huff of laughter. “Well, I’ll let you relax.”
“You can stay.”
He paused. “Um…yeah okay.” He whispered and shut the door to keep the warmth in the room. He held the hot mug in his hand and leaned against the counter, staring at the shower door. The echoing sound of Tegan moving in the water was deafening. He was itching to look over, take in the beautiful body that he knew every inch of. To see her glowing from the pregnancy. And it took a lot of willpower to use the head with a brain in it.
They were quiet for a moment, the only sound from the bubbles foaming on top of the bathwater.
“I miss you,” Tegan whispered again and set her mug down on an alcove near the edge of the tub.
“You have me here.” Sebastian reminded her. “I’m not going anywhere tonight.”
“You’re still not really here.” She mumbled. “Maybe I’m being childish. I just feel like you’re so hesitant around me. You don’t want to touch me or anything because you’re afraid.”
“I don’t want to cross your boundaries. We’re doing this to heal.” He swallowed his desires.
“I know. I’m being selfish.” She leaned back in the tub, sticking her toes out of the surface of the water.
“It’s not being selfish. We’re both lonely.” He repeated their early conversation. “But if we fall back into that routine of…just using each other.”
“I’m not using you out of convenience. I need you now because you’ve been the love of my life for so long. And maybe I lost sight of that. But that hasn’t changed. When I look at you, Sebastian, I feel what I felt when I first met you. And I was blinded by anger I had.”
“Tegan, I wasn’t acting like the man you fell in love with.” He put his mug down and went to sit on the edge of the tub. “You didn’t fall in love with a selfish man who would yell at you.”
“You’re right. But I knew that man was always there. Maybe that was naïve. But I was right. Right? You’re coming back to me. And I’m coming back to you. We need to listen to each other and be honest with what we need.” She rested her hand on the edge of the tub near his knee.
He nodded and picked up her hand, kissing her knuckles. The hot water touching his lips. “What do you need from me now?”
“Be with me.” She whispered desperately. “Be with me like the way we used to. When you couldn’t keep your hands off of me even if I was just brushing my teeth. When you used to carry me to bed if I was tired. When…when we didn’t need to have sex to prove that we loved each other.” Her eyes sparkled with tears.
Sebastian stood up and started to strip away his clothes. He knew what she needed. It was what he needed too.
Tegan leaned forward, giving him room to step in the tub behind her. She settled between his legs and rested back against his chest. They always moved so naturally together. She sighed contently and closed her eyes.
“Exactly what I needed.” She whispered.
Sebastian smiled when he saw how relaxed she was. It was something he hadn’t seen in so long. Her face was free of tension, her shoulders were loose, and she breathed deeper.
As she drifted off into a light doze, Sebastian reacquainted himself with the way she felt in his arms. It was something they had neglected when they were in their toxic routine of using each other. Now he could see what he remembered. The way she fit in his arms like she was meant to be there and nowhere else.
Sebastian’s heart was beating roughly against his chest. He was worried he would wake up and realize it was a dream. It was so thrilling to him just to have her in his arms.
Her eyes still closed, Tegan’s hand slipped through the water and took his. She placed her palm over her baby bump. “Remember before we moved in together, I had that small bathtub?”
Sebastian recalled spending the night in Tegan’s old apartment. He chuckled and nodded. “There was no way I’d fit by myself, let alone with you.”
She smiled and continued breathing calmly. “At least the shower was big enough.”
He laughed and shook his head. “Yeah and I almost fell and cracked my skull open a few times because of those stupid tiles.”
She giggled. “I remember.” She shifted over, pressing her cheek to his chest.
Sebastian swirled his fingers around the bubbles. “Am I going to have sparkles and shit on my skin from this?” He asked.
“Probably. It smells good though doesn’t it? I love this bath bomb.” She curled up in his arms.
“It smells girly.” He huffed but smiled.
“Hm…” Tegan started to drift off again.
When the bath water started to get cold, Sebastian helped Tegan out of the tub and got her dried up.
She was still a little languid from the relaxing tub and let him take care of her.
Sebastian bundled her up in a towel and scooped her up in his arms bridal style. Tegan smiled and wrapped her arms loosely around his neck. She hummed softly and playfully tugged on his earlobe with her teeth.
Sebastian’s knees went weak. Tegan’s happier behavior was so settling to him. It made him excited for the future of mending their relationship.
He carried her into the bedroom and set her down on her feet so they could get dressed. Like she had said, Sebastian found some of his clothes in his old drawers. He pulled on the soft pair of sweatpants that he thought he had left at a hotel or a friend’s house.
Tegan slowly got dressed in a pair of sleep shorts and a tank top. She retreated to the bed, holding a hand out to Sebastian.
He flicked off the lights and made sure the curtains were closed to block out the city light. He took the invitation eagerly and got under the covers with her. They resumed their normal positions, Sebastian holding on to Tegan from behind. His hand rested lightly on her abdomen, grazing his fingertips over her bump, wondering when he would feel his son kick. It was only a matter of time.
Sebastian smiled at the thought and pressed his lips to Tegan’s neck. Her skin was still warm and soft from the bath, the vanilla scent clinging to both of them.
“When’s your next appointment with the therapist?” Tegan interrupted the quiet.
“Next Wednesday.” He answered. “Then I have to travel for two weeks.”
She interlocked her fingers with his. “Can I come to the session?” She asked with a measure of caution in her voice.
“I’m scared.” She admitted.
“I know. But we’ll get through this. It’ll be okay.” He kissed her temple. “I promise.”
“Tegan, it’s very nice to meet you.”
The actress felt she was under a huge amount of pressure. Not even shooting a scene in a movie could compare. She sat a huge bundle of stress on the firm couch by herself. A decorative pillow supported her lower back as she rested a hand on her abdomen for a sense of comfort. The clock on the wall ticked quietly and a white noise machine by the door drowned out the sound from the waiting room outside.
The middle-aged therapist sat across from her. Her legs crossed, a notebook resting on her lap and a kind smile on her face. She wasn’t intimidating, the situation was.
But Tegan knew that in order to heal she had to be a little uncomfortable. At least, that’s what Victoria told her at their coffee date before Sebastian picked her up for the appointment.
Sebastian remained in the waiting room. The therapist, Liz, wanted to talk to Tegan alone first.
“It’s nice to meet you too, Sebastian’s said a lot of good things about you.” Tegan replied politely.
“He’s said some wonderful things about you as well.”
“Really?” Tegan raised an eyebrow.
“That surprises you?”
Oh good, they were already getting into it. Tegan swallowed and wove her fingers together across her growing stomach. “I mean we’ve had our ups and downs. I can’t say I’ve always been pleasant towards him.” She admitted.
“We’ll talk about it with him but I wanted to get your side of everything. It’s my job to be an unbiased onlooker to your relationship. Think of me as the referee.” She explained in a soothing voice. “You two can say whatever you want to each other here but I’m going to make sure that things don’t get out of hand like they have in the past. I’ll call for a break if we need one and I’ll help you both take a step back and think about what you’re saying and what the other is saying too. It’s a two way street.”
“Okay.” Tegan actually liked the sound of that. She couldn’t gain insight when they were alone so maybe this was a good way to get that feedback from someone who wasn’t knee deep in the relationship. Even people like her mother or Victoria were too involved to be fair.
“Tell me what you think the main issue in your relationship with Sebastian has been.”
Tegan took a moment to think. “I guess our relationship has never been conventional. We met on a movie set and sort of became…infatuated with each other. I wanted everything all at once with him. I wanted to move in together, get married, and have kids. I never really stopped to think about setting up a foundation. I love him and I always have. I feel like I know him well but we never formed a steady relationship we just jumped headfirst into it without looking back. So when my father died and we weren’t on the same page…I guess it just fell apart because we hadn’t learned how to support each other.”
“That’s good, you have great awareness of the situation,” Liz replied as she jotted down a few things. “Is there anything else you want to add before we bring Sebastian in?”
She shook her head. “No, I think I’m ready.”
“Alright, and if you need a break at any time don’t be afraid to ask.” Liz stood up to call Sebastian into the office.
He walked in with a nervous smile and sat down beside Tegan on the couch.
“Tegan was just sharing her thoughts on the relationship. I wanted to open up the conversation for you to if you want, express your thoughts on the subject. If you want to talk about how you feel, what your expectations are, and maybe what you hope for moving forward.” Liz suggested as she resumed her position in front of them. “Just want to remind you both that it’s probably better not to point fingers but instead be upfront about how you personally feel.”
There was a moment of silence, Tegan averted her eyes to the floor and looked at her shoe near Sebastian’s. They were in the same boat. Someone had to start steering.
“I was telling Liz that my impression of the relationship is that maybe we moved too fast in the beginning. I feel like we didn’t take the time to really form our relationship on a steady foundation.” Tegan said. Her words not coming out as confident as she would have liked them to.
“Yeah, I felt the same way. I think we didn’t expect something like your father’s death and just assumed everything would be perfect the whole relationship.”
“Right.” She nodded. “I don’t think either of us knew how to handle it and we weren’t sure how to break the cycle of fighting.”
“Tegan, I’m interested to know what you thought about how your relationship was after you found out you were pregnant.” Liz wondered.
“Well…” She shifted in discomfort. She wasn’t sure how much Sebastian had delved into their actions behind closed doors. “It definitely wasn’t great. I think we tried to work things out, but really didn’t know how to do it.”
“So your intentions were good?”
“Yeah…Sebastian really wanted to be a part of the baby’s life and I respected that. I’m assuming we just had a lot of unresolved stuff that got in the way.”
“You think you needed to refocus?” Liz suggested.
Sebastian nodded. “I think so too.”
“His apology really helped. It resolved a lot of hurt that I felt.” Tegan added.
He smiled slightly and touched her hand. “I’m just sorry I didn’t do it sooner.”
Tegan felt more comfortable sitting there and interlaced her fingers with his.
“Tegan, Sebastian mentioned that you two might have used intimacy to try and mend your relationship or express emotions. What do you think about that?”
The actress let out a nervous giggle and her cheeks went red. “Yeah we for sure tried to solve things that way but it obviously didn’t work.”
“Have you been intimate since Sebastian’s apology?”
Sebastian and Tegan looked at each other as they instantly contradicted each other.
“No?” She raised an eyebrow at him. Sebastian just shrugged and shook his head.
“So there’s a different opinion on that.” The therapist tapped the end of her pen on the notebook. “Do you both want to clarify?”
“Well, we…I mean last night…” Tegan’s neck heated up and she had to shrug off her sweater to get more comfortable.
“This is a totally safe space, I won’t judge you,” Liz assured her.
“Last night we took a bath together.” She rushed out the words to get it over with.
“Yeah but we didn’t…” Sebastian cleared his throat. “We didn’t do anything.”
“Wouldn’t you consider it intimate though?” She asked.
“You two do seem to have different definitions of what intimacy is.” Liz agreed. “Tegan, why don’t you let us know what you define it as.”
“Uh…” Her free hand rubbed over her stomach slowly. “I just think intimacy means like…stuff you wouldn’t do with other people. It’s stuff you would just do with your partner.” She struggled to find the words. “Like I wouldn’t take a bath with my friend.”
“I just thought it meant more sexual things but I see your point. Yes, I would consider it intimate.” Sebastian ceded.
It was amazing to have a disagreement like that and not have it explode into an argument. Maybe therapy did work.
“Okay, good, so we’ve solved that. What do you think about being intimate now that you’re working out some issues.”
Tegan relaxed a little the more they discussed it. “Sebastian and I talked about being lonely. I guess that’s what led to it. I’m not sure I would be ready to have sex. I don’t think we’re there yet.”
“Sebastian, what do you think about that?”
“Yeah, whatever she needs.” He nodded and rubbed circles over the top of her hand with his thumb almost to comfort himself.
“What do you need?” Tegan looked over at him. “This isn’t just about me. You’ve done so much work and I want to be accommodating to you too.”
He smiled back at her. “Right now I just need you, to be honest with me and to take care of our son.”
“Okay, yeah I can do that.” Tegan’s eyes stung as they filled up with tears. “I can do that.”
After the hour was up, Sebastian and Tegan walked out of the building still hand in hand. The world seemed different and the atmosphere between them had changed too. Things felt calmer and more stable.
“Hungry?” Sebastian wondered.
“Want to stop by somewhere or order out?”
Tegan remembered a time when they wanted to go to different restaurants and it led to a blow out argument on the sidewalk that ended up in the tabloids the next day. It made Tegan feel so ashamed but things didn’t change.
Things were changed now.
“It’s up to you.” She said.
“You’re the pregnant one, you get to choose.”
“Oh, so being pregnant gives me food choices?” She laughed.
“Well, you’re supposed to have cravings, right?” His face looked noticeably less stressed. It made Tegan remember how gorgeous she thought he was when they first met. She couldn’t keep her eyes off him. Now, like before, she couldn’t look away from his alluring eyes.
“Italian?” She offered.
“Italian it is.”
The holidays were approaching and Sebastian and Tegan had to figure out what stage their relationship was in before planning. Things had generally been going well. They attended therapy separately and together almost every week. They spent time with Jake working on the nursery and shopping for the baby. Before arguments ensued, they made their emotions clear. It was almost like the beginning of their relationship. They never raised their voices at each other and began to have fun again. They enjoyed some holiday activities and talked about plans for the baby. They laughed together for the first time it what seemed like decades. It was refreshing.
As snow fell over New York, they finally came to a conclusion. They would go to Australia to visit Tegan’s mother, Shannon, and other extended family for Christmas and then see Sebastian’s mother and stepfather for New Years. Sebastian was nervous. He could imagine Tegan’s mother knew how upset her daughter was that he didn’t attend the funeral. With help from Liz, he wrote out a few apologies to say to her. But none of them seemed right and he continued writing out more and more on the long plane ride to Australia.
Tegan was sprawled out next to him. Sebastian was glad they could afford first class seats for such a long flight. He wouldn’t want her to be cooped up while pregnant. At least she could stretch out her legs and sleep comfortably.
Sebastian couldn’t sleep. He knew he probably should’ve but he was too nervous about the encounter with her family. They talked about it after Liz suggested writing out an apology to make sure he got out what he wanted to say. Tegan assured him that her mother didn’t really have any ill will towards him. She explained that she told Shannon they were working on the relationship. It didn’t relieve much of his stress.
A bit of Tegan’s dark hair tickled his cheek as she shifted in her sleep, resting her cheek on his shoulder. He smiled to himself and let her lean on him. They’d talked more about intimacy. They were still somewhat cautious but both were starving for physical touch and attention from one another. Every chance she got, Tegan would touch his hand or shoulder. She always hugged him when they parted ways and wanted to be near him when they were alone. One night, she kissed him in such a way it took the breath right out of him.
Sebastian wasn’t completely innocent either. He frequently sought out her touch without crossing any boundaries. He’d touch her stomach, hoping to feel a kick soon from his son. Some nights, he stayed over her place and she fell asleep in his arms.
But they still hadn’t defined their relationship yet. Sebastian wasn’t sure he needed to ask her to be his girlfriend again. He assumed they were at least partially dating if that was such a thing. At least they weren’t fuck-buddies anymore. They were mature about the relationship and being serious about becoming parents in just a few short months. Maybe it didn’t matter what labels they put on themselves.
When the flight touched down, Sebastian grabbed their suitcases and followed Tegan outside to the car. He kept a protective arm around her, shielding her from paparazzi.
Tegan’s family lived in an affluent suburb of Sydney. Of course, they hadn’t always lived there. Her mother and father struggled for years, saving to help their eldest daughter achieve her dreams and go to school for acting. Tegan wanted to repay them and gave them the best life she could, vowing to take care of them the rest of her life even if her career tanked. When her father died, Tegan did everything she could to make her mother comfortable, buying a house for her and her younger sisters in a safe neighborhood, making sure her sisters went to a good school and giving them everything they could need. But money couldn’t buy relief from the grief her mother felt after losing her beloved husband.
The car pulled up to the house and Sebastian brought the luggage to the door with Tegan by his side. His stomach was in knots and he felt like he was going to throw up.
Shannon opened the door and smiled. She looked happy but overly emotional with tears in her eyes. “Tegan, darling.” She hugged her daughter tightly. “You look beautiful and so healthy!” She kissed her cheek over and over again.
When they parted, Shannon turned to Sebastian and he smiled shakily.
“Sebastian, it’s good to see you.” The older woman hugged him too. Sebastian was almost in shock, he had expected a chillier greeting but he didn’t realize that Shannon was more forgiving than anticipated.
“Come in, come in. Sweetheart, I hope you brought a copy of the ultrasound. I want to put it on the fridge.” Shannon welcomed them into the house.
Tegan smiled and pulled the picture out of her purse. Her mother gasped. “Beautiful! Oh, I can’t wait to meet them.”
“We found out the gender too. I wanted to tell you in person.” Tegan said. Her face was full of excitement, so happy to be home.
“Tell me!” Shannon took her hands in hers.
“We’re having a little boy.” She told her softly.
“Oh, a grandson. Your father always wanted a little boy but he was blessed with three girls instead.” Shannon laughed and went to stick the ultrasound to the fridge next to pictures of her daughters. “I know he’s proud of you both.”
Sebastian wasn’t so sure. He was worried that Tegan’s father was damning him as they spoke. But maybe he was just guilty. Tegan always said that her father was nothing but a softie.
“Come out to the patio so we can catch up.” Shannon brought them outside. The backyard was beautiful with a pool and a large garden. “Sweetheart, let me grab you a water and stay in the shade. Sebastian, dear, do you want anything to drink?”
“A water would be great, thank you.” He nodded and Shannon went back inside.
Tegan sat down in the shade and kicked her sore feet up. She was tired but wanted to spend as much time as possible with her mom.
“Do you think we should talk about things now or…wait?” Sebastian asked hesitantly.
“Whatever feels right to you.” Tegan touched his hand. “She already forgives you, Sebs, you know that.”
“I know but I guess it’s a selfish thing. I want to ease my own guilt.” He admitted with a grimace.
“You need to stop beating yourself up all the time. I’m sure Liz has told you that.” She replied and rested back in the deck chair. She closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. “You’re a good man, Sebastian, you just made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.”
Her calming words and soothing touch was enough to make his muscles relax but he was still worried.
Shannon returned and handed them both a glass of cold water. “I’m so glad you two came out for the holidays.” She said. “I’ve missed you so much.”
“Of course.” Tegan smiled at her mom.
“Shannon…” Sebastian wrung his hands together and cleared his throat. “I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself. I wanted to make amends and do everything I could to become the best father for when our son comes. Tegan and I have been working on our relationship and she’s being so caring while I work through things. I just wanted to apologize to you personally for the mistakes I made. I wasn’t there for Tegan and for your family when your husband passed. I was being selfish and that wasn’t fair to you all.”
Shannon lower lip wobbled and she rested a hand on Sebastian’s shoulder. “Darling, I appreciate that very much. Tegan has told me the relationship has been improving and I think you’re both very strong for working through this for the baby. Charlie was a forgiving man and I know he wouldn’t hold anything against you. He loved you like a son because he knew how happy you made our little girl.”
Sebastian swallowed and the amount of relief that washed over him was almost enough to make him break down in tears.
“Relationships aren’t easy. I understand things were bad for a while between you but if you weren’t meant to be together then you wouldn’t be. But you’re both mature enough to realize what you need to do to have a happy family. You can put the past behind you and look to the future. You’ve been blessed with a baby and that’s so perfect.”
Tegan smiled and nodded. “Sebastian will be a good father, I know he will.”
He lifted her hand to kiss it softly. “She’ll make an even better mother.” He replied and felt a huge burden lift from his shoulders.
Later that day, Tegan and Sebastian went upstairs in the spare room to rest after the long trip.
“I was thinking about something,” Sebastian spoke as he lay down next to her.
“Mhm?” Tegan was half asleep as she curled up in his arms.
“Maybe we should name the baby after your father.” He suggested shyly. “Charlie would be a good name, don’t you think?”
Tegan’s eyes perked open and she was speechless for a moment. “Really?” She asked quietly. “You’d do that?”
“Of course. I think it would be a good way of honoring him.” He nodded and brushed a few pieces of hair away from her face.
Tears welled up in Tegan’s eyes as she nodded. “Yeah, yeah I’d really like that.” She whispered and hugged him close. “Thank you.”
Sebastian held her and felt so happy everything was going well. And it went well until Tegan’s sister arrived and all hell broke loose.