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I threw up twice that night. I had been able to make it into the restroom the first time and, because I didn't want to risk it, I had stayed there in time for the second round of vomit, too. 10AM rolled around and I was still laying on my bathroom floor. I felt like shit -emotionally and physically. I wanted nothing other than lay on the cold bathroom floor for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, I couldn't do this; I had Sebastian's party later tonight. I stood up from my bathroom floor, went to the kitchen, and brewed myself a cup of coffee. I took some aspirin to get rid of my headache and downed a glass of water to help me rehydrate. By mid-afternoon, my hangover was reduced to only a small throb in the back of my head.
I had left my phone to charge all morning and only now just turned it back on. I saw two texts from Sebastian asking if I was OK and what I meant about leaving. I saw that I also had a missed called from Sebastian but I decided to ignored them. It was way too early to be dealing with this and besides, I was going to see him later on today. I could talk to him then.
Sebastian's party for Emma started at 8:00PM and he had asked me to take some extra drinks for the party two days ago. Because I had nothing else to do than wait for the party, I spent the rest of my day cleaning my apartment and listening to Pandora. By 7:20PM, I had cleaned my apartment, showered, and had gotten dressed in what I was planning on wearing for the party. I had gone with a plaid shirt, beige chinos, and my favorite brown Aldo boots. I looked myself in the mirror and was happy with what I saw. I used some foundation I had bought at Walmart and used it to cover up the dark circles around my eyes. I was ready to go.
There was still some time before I was expected at the party so I got my laptop out and looked up the University of Texas at Austin's website. I looked up their testing and other requirements they had for incoming transfer students. I scrolled through the necessary documents I needed, wrote down a list of them, and placed them on my kitchen table.
By 7:50, I put Emma's present in my car- it was a silver, pull-chain feather necklace. Carol had helped me pick it out a few days ago and convinced me she would like it. I drove to the closest Walmart in the direction of Sebastian's house and bought sodas and beer. I also got myself a pack of stride gum and popped a piece in my mouth. I kept driving around, postponing seeing Sebastian and Emma for as long as I could. It was 8:20 when Carol texted me and asked where I was. I replied I was only a few minutes away and headed over to Sebastian's house. By 8:30, I was parked on his driveway. I looked at the one story brick house, opened the gate, and walked to his front door. Before I even knocked on the door, Carol opened it and welcomed me in.
"Hey Carol, thanks." I kissed her cheek, "Where should I put the cokes?" Carol pointed in the direction of the kitchen and I continued my walk there. I felt like a robot or an alien in a different planet- I felt out of place.
"Hey! Alex. About time you showed up."
I turned to see Sebastian walking my way, a beer in his hand. "Hey, man. Yeah, sorry about being late. Something came up."
"It's fine." Sebastian looked at the cokes I had brought. "What, no Dr. Pepper? What the fuck, A? Messing shit up."
I looked at him and couldn't help but smile and laugh. "Hey man, fuck you. You didn't say what drinks you wanted. Besides, who doesn't like coke?"
He laughed, "Fuck, A. Can't do anything right."
I knew he was kidding, but it still hit me. "Well, if you don't want to drink the cokes, Seb, you can always just shove them up your ass."
Sebastian laughed some more and was about to shoot me another retort when a girl with a baby joined her side.
"Hey babe, could you hold her for a minute? She threw up on herself and I need to get her a change of clothes."
She was pretty: long black hair, big brown eyes, white teeth, thin figure, and a beautiful, happy smile.
She turned to me, "You must be, Alex. Hi. I'm Emma, Sebastian's girlfriend."
I took a second too long to process what she was saying and I almost fucked up my sentence. "Hey-hi. Nice to meet you, Emma. Happy Birthday by the way." I gave her the warmest smile I could. It wasn't her fault I had feelings for the guy she was with. "I went ahead and got you this." I offered the bag I had her gift in to her.
"Oh, wow. Thanks." She reached over for me, hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "You really didn't have to, but thanks."
My eyes darted from Sebastian to Emma. "Anything for- my friends."
Emma looked at me and smiled again. "Well, thank you." She looked over at Sebastian and Lily. "This is-"
"Lily," I finished for her while staring at the beautiful baby girl in Sebastian's arms. "Yeah, I know Lily."
Sebastian grabbed Lily's arms and turned her to face me. "Come on baby, say hi to daddy's friend."
I caught my breath. She was beautiful: white dress, pink headband, huge cheeks, stubby little fingers, hazel eyes.
"Wow. She's- she's beautiful." I reached over to grab one of Lily's hands and leaned in closer to her. "Hey Lily, you're a pretty, little baby aren't you?" I smiled as Lily gave me a small giggle.
"Aw," Emma started, "She like's you already, Alex."
"Yeah," Sebastian joined, "She took forever to even look at Carol."
"Yeah, well, can you blame her?" I finished.
"Hey! Fuck you guys!" Carol shot us a glare as we laughed to our stupid joke.
"Well, Alex, if you're interested," Emma pointed in the direction of where the drinks were at, "We have drinks on that table. Feel free to help yourself."
"Alright, thanks, Emma. You're going to regret showing me where you keep the drinks, though." Carol, Sebastian, and Emma laughed at my joke, only I wasn't entirely kidding. Alcohol was really the only thing that was going to get me through this night.
For the next hour, I got to know the rest of the people at the party. Most were Emma's friends and family. I met her brothers, three burly guys in their late twenties; her friends, mostly girls that I had little to nothing in common with; and I met Sebastian's mom, a nice, older lady who seemed tired for some reason. I took little interest in talking to anyone inside so I grabbed two beers and went outside to where Sebastian and Carol's boyfriend were grilling the food. As I got to the grill, Carol's boyfriend walked back into the house. I stared at him as he entered the house and closed the door behind him.
"Don't mind him," Sebastian said, noticing my confusion and taking one of the beers from my hand. "He's weird and no one likes him other than Carol- and no, I'm not kidding."
"Well, that sucks," I said. "I'm used to everyone liking me," I joked.
"Ha-ha. Get your head out of your ass Alex and pass me those jalapenos there." I passed the jalapeno poppers to Sebastian and watched him put them on the grill. The sizzle they produced as they made contact with the grill was oddly satisfying. "So," he continued, "What happened last night, A?"
I looked away from the grill and into Sebastian's eyes. "What do you mean?" What did he mean? Was he asking why I left Roadhouse early? Was he asking why I texted him I was leaving next semester? Why I didn't reply to his call or texts? Why I somehow let a random stranger drive me home when I was hammered? Ok, there was no way he could have known about the last one but the other ones were a definite possibility.
"I mean, why'd you text me you were leaving next semester last night?"
Oh, that's what you're asking.
"I-I don't know why I texted you that, actually." Liar.
Sebastian looked away from the grill, drank from his beer and looked at me. "But you're not even going to tell me that you aren't leaving?"
"Oh," I looked back at the grill. "Well, I'm not entirely sure yet."
"Oh," Sebastian looked back at the grill. "Well, you shouldn't."
I looked back up at Sebastian. "Why is that?"
He paused, and, for a second, I hoped he was going to say something to make me want to stay. Instead, he drank from his beer again and said, "Well, leaving me alone with Carol again would be fucking boring as fuck, A."
My shoulders sagged. It was my fault for hoping, really. "Nah, you'll get over it pretty quick." I know I sure as hell wouldn't. I took a sip from my beer now.
"Hey," he changed the conversation, "Are you still up for that song I wanted to do for Emma?"
"Sure," I said.
"Awesome," he replied.
The warmth of the grill's fire and the cool night's breeze was a nice contrast as we spent some time staring at the grill in silence. He would occasionally ask me to pass him some chicken or ribs and he then placed it on the grill to cook.
"So how are you and Kass, A?"
"Oh," I was uncomfortable. "I think I might have to break up with her, actually."
"Really?" He didn't look away from the grill. "Why?"
"I- I don't think we're working out."
"That sucks." He downed the rest of his beer and opened another one he had inside a cooler next to him. "At least now you'll be able to sleep around, A."
"Nah, I probably wouldn't." I thought I heard him snicker at that.
We spent some time talking about school and work while we waited for the food to be grilled. It was nice standing by the warmth of the grill with Sebastian talking about nothing in particular, just enjoying each other's company. I looked at him as he was distracted by the grill. He was wearing a black V-neck shirt with ripped jeans and my eyes traveled to his visible collar bone. I admired the way his skin glowed from the fire and looked away before he could see me look at him.
"Well, most of the food is ready, you can call everybody out now, A."
"Yeah," I looked back at the house, not happy that strangers were going to interrupt our conversation. "I'll call them up. Want anything else from the inside?"
"Yeah, bring me something stronger than this beer, A."
I went inside, told everyone the food was ready and walked back out with a bottle of whiskey. I handed it to Sebastian and, for the next hour or so, most of the guests were sitting and eating outside; however, Emma had stayed inside with some of her friends because she didn't want Lily to get sick from the night's breeze. Sebastian walked back into the house some time later to keep her company. I stayed outside with Carol, some of her friends, and Oscar, her boyfriend. Oscar didn't turn out to be as weird as Sebastian had said- he was an OK guy- but because Sebastian didn't like him, there was a small part of me that didn't like him either. Go figure. Most of the guests had left already and, looking at my watch, I saw that the time was now 11PM. One of Emma's brothers announced that she was ready to open her presents so everyone still here should head back inside. I debated on whether to stay outside or go inside when I remembered that Sebastian had asked me to play the guitar for Emma as a present from him. I followed Carol and Oscar inside to where Emma was sitting, Sebastian and a stroller by her side. After singing happy birthday and seeing Emma blow out the candles, I stayed put for a few minutes waiting for her to open my present.
After three or four presents, Emma picked up my gift. "This one," she read the name, "Is from Alex." She opened the bag and pulled out a small box I had her necklace in. She opened the box, "Oh my God, Alex. This is beautiful! Look, babe." She showed my present to Sebastian and had him pull her hair back and put it on her. "Thanks so much, Alex."
I smiled at her, "Hey, no problem."
Emma moved on to her other presents while Sebastian gave me a look. I understood and walked outside to get my guitar from my car. With my guitar in hand, I headed back to the house, walked inside, and stayed in the back of the room while Emma went through her last few presents. When finished, she thanked everyone for coming and offered them cake.
"Actually, baby," Sebastian grabbed Emma's shoulder before she stated cutting the cake, "There is one more gift for you." Sebastian looked at me and I stepped forward. I could feel everyone's eyes on me as I walked next to Sebastian, guitar in hand. "First of all, I just wanted to say I wanted to set up a picnic for you like our first date but I couldn't find the fucking cups we used that day."
"Oh, my God, Sebastian! You said you loved those red polka dotted cups." Emma grabbed Sebastian's shoulders and laughed. I looked away.
"Yeah, babe. I couldn't find them and I wanted to make everything perfect but those fucking cups messed everything up. Anyways, I still wanted to give you something to tell you how happy I was to have you and Lily in my life. You guys are the best thing in my life right now and I know that if, for the rest of my life, you guys are the only thing I have, I'll be OK. Everything will be OK." I focused on the floor and tried my hardest to tune this out. "I know we've been through a lot of shit Emma," Sebastian grabbed Emma's hand, "But I also know that as long as you and Lily are by my side, I won't give up on us." I had looked away at this point until I felt Sebastian nudge me with his elbow. I looked up at him, masking any feelings present on my face. "So, I asked Alex to help me out with a song for you. I want you to listen to the words because I really mean everything they say."
I took the silence as my cue. "Ahem," I cleared my throat, placed my fingers in the guitar, and smiled at Emma.
"When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky.
Or a beautiful sunrise-
There's so much they hold."
Sebastian grabbed Emma by the waist, pulled her close, and began to sway with her. Some of the guests "awed" and "oohed." I looked away and kept playing.
"And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating.
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find.
I won't give up on us.
Even if the skies get rough.
I'm giving you all my love.
I'm still looking up, I'm still looking up."
I looked at the two of them swaying in front of me. Emma placed her head on Sebastian's chest. Sebastian rested his head on Emma's, eyes closed with a serene face. I looked at him while I played and saw his eyes open, lock with mine, and hold them for a second- for one of the longest seconds. He broke eye-contact first, looking down and then resting his head back on Emma. He slowly turned away from me as he swayed with her.
"I won't give up on us.
God knows I'm tough enough.
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it."
As they completed another turn I felt Sebastian staring at me before I even looked at him. It was my turn to break eye contact first, though. I looked down and then away as I finished the stupid song, all the time still feeling his hazel eyes on me.
"I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough.
I'm giving you all my love.
I'm still looking up."
What remained of the guests clapped and, after accepting Emma's thanks and wishing her happy birthday again, I excused myself. I placed my guitar down in a corner, grabbed the first bottle of liquor I saw, and walked out to their backyard. By now, the backyard was empty, the guest having already left or gone inside to avoid the night's chilly air. I enjoyed the fresh night's air for a while and looked up at the stars for a few minutes. I was halfway through my second shot of whiskey straight out of the bottle when I heard someone exit the house.
"Hey, A. What are you doing out here?"
"Hey, Seb. I just came out here to think man. It's a nice night." I turned away from him, sat down on the grass and looked up at the stars, my head spinning from all the alcohol I'd been drinking tonight.
"Yeah, A." Sebastian sat down next to me on the grass and looked up at the stars with me. "It's a nice night."
"What are you doing out here, Sebastian?" I kept my looking at the stars as I said this. "Shouldn't you be inside with Emma?" Even drunk, I could hear a slight annoyance in my own voice.
"Well," he reached over for the whiskey bottle I had placed next to me, "You did just steal the bottle of whiskey I was drinking from inside the house." I looked at him as he placed the bottle to his mouth and drank.
I grabbed the bottle of whiskey from him and took another drink from it, annoyed that all he had come outside for was his fucking whiskey. "Well, if that's all you came for, you can just take it back inside, Sebastian."
Sebastian must have heard my tone of voice, "Hey man, don't worry about it. We can share right?" He grabbed the bottle from me and took another shot. "Besides, I came here to get away from Emma for a while."
After so many shots tonight, it took a considerable amount of time for me to register what Sebastian had just said. "What do you mean?"
"Nah, just-" He took another shot of whiskey, "after your song- which was amazing by the way, thanks- she and I went to our room to talk for a bit. We sat down on our bed and it was going good up until I said something that she took the wrong way. That's when she started saying stupid shit and we went at it for a few minutes. I walked out to my car when I saw yours still parked- I had thought you had left already, most people did."
"Nope. Haven't left yet. I'm too stupid to leave, really." Part of me was referring to my ability to physically leave because of my drunken state. The other part of me was referring to my ability to leave Sebastian.
"Are you, though, Alex?"
"Well, yeah. Soon as I'm able to find my keys I'll get out of you guys' hair."
"No, I mean are you really leaving to Austin next semester?"
"Oh," I turned to see Sebastian looking at me. I could smell the alcohol on his breath and I assume he could smell mine, too. "Yeah, I think so."
I looked at his lips as they formed that one word then quickly looked back up at his eyes. "Because I think Austin has a great science program I want to be part in."
"No." He looked at me with furrowed eyebrows. "Really, why are you leaving?"
I blinked, "What do you mean? That's why I'm leaving."
"No, that's not it. Everyone knows our university has just a great a program as Austin's. Why are you leaving, Alex?"
"Yes, but Austin is a great city, too. I want to move there and be part of it."
"Why are you really leaving, Alex?"
"Sebastian I already-"
"You texted me last night and you said you were leaving because `fuck it here.' What did you mean?"
I looked away from him, "Sebastian, I was drunk last night. I don't remember-"
I looked at him and saw him look away quickly from me. "Don't what?"
"Don't leave." He still wasn't looking at me.
"Why? Because you'll be bored with just Carol here?"
"No," He turned to look at me and shrugged as he said, "Because I'll miss you."
I was speechless for what felt like hours. "Because you'll miss me?"
He looked away from me. "Because I'll miss you," he repeated.
"Sebastian," I decided to be honest with him. "I'm- I'm leaving because there's someone in this town that I'm crazy for but I know it's not going to work out. I know that staying here and waiting for him is worse than going off to a brand new town and starting over. It's the only way I'll be OK."
Sebastian looked at me, "Him?"
"Her- I meant her." I looked down, "I don't want to wait for her forever because the worst fucking part is that I know I would. I would be waiting for whenever they wanted me- if they even wanted me."
"And this person is the reason you're breaking up with Kass, right?"
I kept my head down, "Yes, this person is the reason I'm breaking up with Kass, Sebastian."
"Who is it? Do I know them?"
I kept my head down and shook my head. "I can't, Sebastian."
I kept my head down in silence.
Reluctantly, I looked up.
"Don't leave, OK?"
I looked up to see him looking me in the eyes, eyes as hazel as they would be in the middle of the day. I didn't respond to him- what would I even say? I wanted him to tell me that he didn't want me to leave and now that he did, I didn't know where to go from here. We looked at each other and the silence between us grew. Ten seconds, a minute, half an hour- I didn't know how long we sat on the grass just looking at each other. Was it my imagination or was he leaning in closer to me? Was it my drunken dizziness or was I leaning closer to him? Only when our faces where inches apart and I could feel his breath on my lips did I realize just how close to each other we actually were.
I looked from his eyes to his lips, "Sebastian," I smiled and looked back up at his eyes, "You smell like what an alcoholic might smell like."
He gave a small laugh, "Fuck you. I'm pissed drunk, can you blame me?"
"No," I smiled, "I can't."
It was in that moment that Sebastian leaned over and put his lips to mine. Or maybe it was me? At this point, I couldn't remember who kissed who and I was too drunk to care. All I could think about was Sebastian's soft lips pressed to mine. His kiss felt like an explosion inside me. Weeks of longing and torture forgotten in the few moments our lips touched. He pulled back first- that I remember.
"No, it's fine." He stood up from the grass and looked down at me. "Don't leave, Ok Alex?"
I couldn't think of a response. I looked at Sebastian as he hobbled, drunkenly away and into his house. I took another, final shot of whiskey and laid back on the grass. I looked at the stars and, somehow, they seemed different now- brighter. I felt like this night had gone as well as it could have and took my phone out to text a friend for a ride back home. I could come back and pick my car up some other time. I sent my text and put my phone back in my pocket. For now, all I was left with was the nearly empty bottle of whiskey next to me, the grass under me, the stars above me, and the reminder of Sebastian's soft, warm lips on my own.