Part 2 of the As Paths Cross series
Johnny and Lily Seward have been two halves of a whole since high school. No one can deny that they seem to have it all, but sometimes things are not as they seem on the surface. Whilst everyone else seems to have found balance in their lives and be sailing on calm waters, Johnny and Lily find themselves cast against the rocks.
Comedy, Drama, Romance Characters:
Johnny Seward - Johnny Christ
As Paths Cross
21 Jan 2020 Updated:
12 May 2020
1. Chapter 1 - The Odd One Out by RamonaFoREVer
2. Chapter 2 - Johnny Is A Loooser by RamonaFoREVer
3. Chapter 3 - A God Amongst Men by RamonaFoREVer
4. Chapter 4 - LH + JS by RamonaFoREVer
5. Chapter 5 - The Waiting Game by RamonaFoREVer
Chapter 1 - The Odd One Out by RamonaFoREVer
“Okay, we’re good for today, Shads. Pack it up, guys.”
“We’re good?” Matt asked, confirming through the window with a thumbs up.
Brian gave him a nod and he slipped his headphones off. He rolled his shoulders and brought a hand up to his throat, massaging it gently as though that would help. Recording was often intense and punishing, and today was no different. He made his way through the swinging door to join the others at the mixing desk.
“Fucking killed it, brother,” Zacky grinned, slapping a hand against his back. Matt gave him an appreciative nod as the guitarist turned to his counterpart, “We’re up tomorrow right? Got your solo down?”
Brian smirked, “Always.”
“Good to know,” Zach replied, snickering at Brian laidback approach. The lead guitarist’s work always appeared to be effortless, but Zach knew, as did the rest of the band, that he put countless hours practice into it.
“I’m sure Heidi will give your precious hands a massage in preparation,” Johnny added, dodging a playful fist.
Brian raised an eyebrow as he failed to land his punch, “Not as much as Lily will need to massage your ego after you watch me smash it, lowly bassist.”
“Hey,” Johnny cut in with a laugh, “I’m an important and fundamental member of this band.”
“Will you lot keep it moving towards the door? Some of us want to go home,” Jimmy teased, shepherding the light-hearted brawl towards the exit.
Zacky snorted, “I’m sure the comforts of Ramen and The Real Housewives of OC are calling your name.”
“At least I’m not going home to my mom,” Jimmy quipped back, shoving him out the door.
“You leave Debz and her broken leg out of this,” Matt laughed, shaking his head at the banter. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and slipped it out, the name pulling the corner of his lips into a smile.
If there was anything in life to be thankful for, it was this. The members of Avenged Sevenfold simply clicked into place with each other, like a lock and key or a jigsaw. There was very little missing from their musical family at this point and very little from their personal lives also, except one needling thing.
Brian and Heidi were sailing through calm waters as usual, Matt seemed to have landed on his feet in the recent months, Zacky was enjoying the attention of many different women, and Jimmy was… well, Jimmy was Jimmy, but the remaining (and shortest) member wasn’t quite having such an easy go of it.
As he dropped himself heavily into the driver’s seat of his prized ‘65 Skylark - which he’d been heavily dedicated to restoring (and definitely not using as an excuse to avoid his wife) - he let out a long sigh. Going home was not something he currently enjoyed. He waved to his bandmates as they passed by in their cars one by one, all thrilled to be heading home.
Once he was alone in the parking lot, his hand wandered over to the glove compartment and hovered, uncertain of his commitment to his plan. He’d never been an impulsive person, and yet lately he found himself saying ‘Fuck it’ more and more often. This moment was precisely one of those.
“Fuck it,” he muttered, tugging at the handle.
The door opened willingly and he shoved his hand into the darkness, fumbling about until his finger closed around the small rectangular box. He slid it out into the fading daylight and turned it over in his hands, contemplating whether this would be worth the hassle.
“She’s gonna kill me for it,” he mumbled to himself as he opened the pack. “Might as well die happy.”
He brought a forbidden cigarette to his lips and, without further hesitation, sparked it. He pulled on it deeply, letting out a sigh of relief as the nicotine gave him a little rush of satisfaction. There would be an argument upon returning home for sure. The same old argument that had been running back and forth for nearly eighteen months now. How much longer could their marriage last with the pair of them armed with an emotion pickaxe each and diligently hacking away at the foundations? He loved Lily, he truly did. They’d been together for as long as Brian and Heidi had, but while Brian and Heidi seemed constantly enamoured with one another, he and Lily hadn’t felt further apart. His cigarette couldn’t outlast his brooding so he lit another, despite the trouble it would cause.
It became evident as soon as he meekly entered his kitchen that Lily could smell what he’d hoped she wouldn’t. She’d always had the nose of a bloodhound when it came to cigarettes – something that had once been comical, but now was an irritating trait.
“You’ve been smoking,” she accused abruptly, not even bothering to turn from the potatoes she was peeling.
Johnny sighed, briefly considering trying to lie his way out of it, but she’d know. She could read him like a book. “I had one,” he shrugged, conveniently omitting the two that had followed it. He watched her stiffen and the peeler she’d been using hit the surface of the counter a little harder than it needed to. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, wincing in anticipation.
“You’re sorry?” she asked coldly, shaking her head. She finally turned, her face contorted with anger. “You’re sorry?”
“Lil, can we not do this?”
She scoffed, “You know, I can’t believe you sometimes, Johnny.”
“Oh, here we fucking go,” he spat back, rolling his eyes. “God forbid I have one tiny cigarette. You’re not even pregnant yet.”
“And I never fucking will be if you carry on,” the brunette yelled, slamming her hand down. “Didn’t I tell you that it lowers your sperm count?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he groaned.
“And how the fuck will we ever get approved for IVF if you’re smoking? You selfish asshole.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t be having IVF anyway because you’re fucking crazy right now,” he retorted.
Lily’s mouth dropped for a second before her whole face scrunched with offence, “Maybe I wouldn’t be ‘crazy’ if you weren’t doing this shit! Maybe I’d be pregnant like we fucking planned.”
Johnny threw his hand up in exasperation, and before he knew it, words that he didn’t intend to say were falling from his lips. “Well maybe I don’t want you to be pregnant when you’re like this.”
“What?” she breathed, taken aback.
Despite having the same old argument on repeat, being tired of coming home to fights and Lily being constantly on edge, he instantly regretted losing his temper. He’d known Lily was dreaming about babies long before he brought it up, and though she’d been dropping hints, she’d waited so patiently for him to broach the subject. At first it had been a fun endeavour; after all, who doesn’t like having sex? But as the months passed with nothing to show for their efforts, enthusiasm became impatience, which became frustration, and then it all boiled down to this point right now. Lily was, for lack of a better word, obsessed. He could understand it to an extent - he was disappointed too – but he also found it harder and harder to remember what a life that didn’t revolve around ovulation and prenatal vitamins was like.
“You don’t want to have a baby with me?” she asked quietly, genuinely heartbroken at the concept. The fiery, raging whirlwind that had been stood before him had instantly diminished into defeated woman.
He hid his face in his hands as he tried to string together the right words. “Of course I want to have a baby with you, Lil,” he reassured her, “but I can’t deal with the way we are at the moment.”
Her dark eyes lowered until her gaze was fixed awkwardly on the floor.
“Trying for a baby is supposed to be fun,” he continued hesitantly, approaching her slowly. “When did we start timing shit and eating pineapple every fucking day? And all it’s doing is making us fight anyway. Why don’t we just… take a break for a bit?”
Lily didn’t answer. She kept her stare trained on the tiles, but he caught the twitch at the corner of her lips. It meant that tears weren’t far off.
“I’m not saying I don’t want kids,” he added hastily, “because you know I do just as much as you do. Fuck, though, I don’t even want to come home anymore, let alone have sex on command the exact second some stupid app on your phone says so.”
She looked up sharply as though his words had thrown themselves against her cheek in a stinging blow. As her brows scrunched downwards defiantly, he got the feeling he’d chosen the wrong words entirely.
“I’m sorry that one of us is taking this seriously,” she snapped sarcastically. “You know what, Johnny? I’m done with this conversation. You can sleep on the couch tonight.”
She stormed out of the kitchen, leaving Johnny standing redundantly in the doorway. He resisted the urge to shout more words of argument after her, even though he desperately wanted to. He wanted to run after her, shake her and ask her if she realised how crazy this all was. He wanted to try and make her see that fighting the second he walked through the door or banishing him to sleep on the couch over another negative pregnancy test was insanity. She’d gone though, leaving only a cloud of red mist in her presence, so he resigned himself to his fate for the night and slouched off towards the sofa.
Johnny cracked his eyes open and instantly squeezed them shut tightly. He’d forgotten to close the curtains the night before and the sunlight was pouring into the room through the naked windows in a blinding fashion, only serving to make his had pound even more than it already was. He’d been up late, tossing and turning as he worked over his and Lily’s latest to-do. It shouldn’t have caught him by surprise, with it being such a common occurrence, but it still hurt, each time more than the last. How many times could two people have the same argument over and over? He’d never contemplate leaving her, he loved her far too much for that and he knew (or hoped) that this was temporary, but some mornings he woke and found himself longing for a simple life.
His senses gradually became aware of the sounds and scents of breakfast sizzling away in the kitchen. He pulled himself upright, despite his head’s protest, and wondered if Lily had forgiven him. He reluctantly padded across the carpet of the hallway to their small kitchen where the delicious smells were originating from and peeked around the doorway. Lily was stood at the cooker, frying up bacon of all things; the very thing she’d banned not so long ago on account of it supposedly decreasing their chances of conceiving. He entered the kitchen gingerly, approaching her from behind and hesitantly slipping his arms around her waist. When she leaned back into him, he relaxed.
“Hey,” he greeted her gently. “What’s with the forbidden food of the gods making a reappearance?”
She set down spatula and turned to face him, reaching her arms up and entwining them around his neck, “I thought you might like some.” There was a hint of sadness in her voice as she turned her attention back to the bacon that was spitting away in the skillet, “I’ve been thinking about what you said last night. Maybe you’re right.”
Johnny frowned, leaning in to rest his head on her shoulder, “Right about what?”
She went quiet for a moment, reluctant to say the words out loud. “We should just take a break from all this baby stuff,” she finally relented, shrinking a little as he recoiled in confusion.
“Lil, I was just angry when I said-”
“No, Johnny,” she cut him off sharply, shaking her head. “That’s exactly it. You got angry, I got angry. We never used to have arguments - not real ones anyway - and now all we ever do is fight. It would be stupid to bring a baby into this mess anyhow, so… you’re right. Let’s just go back to being us, John.”
He swallowed, “Lily, we don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, we do. I do. I need a break from the stress. Let’s eat bacon for breakfast. Let’s have a bottle of wine in the evening and then fall into bed together and have fun, just like we used to. Let’s sneak off to the bathroom at parties or come home early from dinner dates because we just can’t wait.” She turned once more, this time her affection seeming more sincere as she pulled him close with flushed cheeks, “Let’s be those people that can’t keep our hands off each other again.”
“That sounds like a plan. You know… we could start right now,” he grinned, raising an eyebrow.
Her lip twitched, “We could.”
Her playful smile gave him all the confirmation he needed, and he flipped the cooker switch off and threw her over his shoulder with ease, her delighted giggle spurring him on as he made for the bedroom.
Chapter 2 - Johnny Is A Loooser by RamonaFoREVer
“Hey, bestie,” Heidi giggled, her eyes twinkling as she pulled Lily into a hug. “And how are you on this fine day?”
“I’m okay,” Lily shrugged, giving her friend an unconvincing smile and a squeeze in return.
Heidi pulled back, eyeing Lily with suspicion. “I’m sorry, did you just say you were ‘okay’? You never say that. What’s wrong with you?” she asked jokingly, an impish smile still plastered across her face. Noticing Lily’s unusually quiet demeanour, she studied her more closely with concern, “Are you okay, babe?”
Lily sighed, and shook her head, “Can we go inside?”
“Sure,” Heidi nodded, standing aside to let her friend into her home.
The Haners had a beautiful house. They’d bought a wreck shortly after getting married and had slowly worked on transforming it into the kingdom it was today. Heidi, normally so fussy about her hair and nails, had donned boiler suits and taken messy buns in her stride to work beside Brian as they painted, papered and tiled their way to their perfect home.
The two women settled themselves in the sleek kitchen; Lily planting herself at the table as Heidi busied herself with mugs and coffee.
“Here,” Heidi offered, holding out the steaming mug to her friend. As Lily accepted it from her, she raised her eyebrows, “So, are you going to tell me what’s up?”
Lily frowned, staring down at her coffee so she didn’t have to make eye contact with Heidi, who was insistently staring at her. “How come you and Brian never had a baby?” she asked, finally daring to look up.
“Oh,” Heidi uttered, taken aback by her friend’s bluntness. She dipped into the fridge as she fumbled her way through her answer, “Uh, I guess neither of us are really into the idea of being parents right now. After we got married we were busy with the house, then we decided just to wait for a bit. We haven’t spoken about it since. Why?” She looked closely at her friend, a hint of excitement dancing in her eyes as she set a plate of fruit salad between them, “Are you guys thinking about having a baby?!”
Lily gave a short, awkward laugh as she picked up a strawberry and shook her head. “Kind of the opposite,” she sighed, pursing her lips. “We’ve been thinking about it – and trying; my god have we been trying – but it’s not happening, so now we just decided to wait for a bit.”
Heidi’s mouth dropped open, “You never told me!”
“I know,” Lily replied, casting her an apologetic glance. “At first we just wanted to keep it quiet, but then it went on and on. It seemed stupid to tell people when nothing was happening anyway.”
“Well, it can take time,” Heidi answered, trying to reassure her friend. “How long have you been trying? It can take months.”
“We’re going on a year and half now,” Lily revealed, cramming the strawberry in and adding a spoon of sugar to her coffee. “And it was getting stressful. I turned into a monster, Heidi,” she whined through her mouthful.
“No way,” Heidi argued in disbelief, “I refuse to believe that you could be anything close to a monster, Lil.”
“No, I was,” Lily insisted with a grimace. “We were arguing all the time, and I made Johnny sleep on the sofa more than once,” she admitted sheepishly.
Heidi’s eyebrows shot into her fringe, “Oh… yikes.”
Lily nodded, “Yeah…”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Heidi asked, reaching a comforting hand over. “I could have… well, I don’t know what I could have done, but I could have supported you.”
Lily groaned, “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anyway. The bottom line is we’re giving up for a bit and, to be completely honest, even though it’s a relief not to fight about it anymore, I’m devastated.”
“Aww, Lil,” Heidi sighed, squeezing her arm.
“I know a weight has been lifted from us, and I’m actually spending time with Johnny without wanting to punch him in the face, but it was all I wanted, Heidi,” the brunette confessed, her lip wobbling as she began to sniffle. “Is that selfish of me?”
“What?” Heidi scoffed, pulling her friend across the table awkwardly to hug her. “Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous, babe. I can’t pretend to know how you feel, but it’s not like it doesn’t make sense. There’s always later though, right? You guys haven’t called it off forever?”
“No, no,” Lily shook her head, still ensnared in Heidi’s death grip of a hug. “Not forever, just for now. Until we get back to a better place, I guess.”
Brian sauntered in, giving the women a look of amusement as he pulled open the fridge door causing Heidi to scramble out of the embrace as quickly as she could.
“Don’t you dare, Haner,” she warned, wagging her finger at him aggressively. “I have spent way too long slaving my ass off making dinner for you to snack now and ruin your appetite. I asked you earlier if you wanted anything.”
“And I wasn’t hungry then, but now I am,” he retorted, pouting at her for good measure. “Hey, you’ve got food,” he noted accusingly, raising his eyebrows at the plate between the women.
“Because I can refrain from eating the whole lot right before dinner,” Heidi replied smartly.
Brian snorted, giving her the finger before eyeing the tearful brunette sat opposite his wife. “What’s up with you, Lil?” he asked, tilting his head with a hint of concern.
Lily shrugged, “Oh, just bullshit, you know?”
“Bullshit like your spouse starving you, or…?” he trailed off, expertly dodging the flying mango that whizzed his way. “That’s childish,” he grinned as Heidi scowled at him.
“You’re childish,” she retorted playfully, narrowing her eyes. “It’s like being married to a teenager. Get your dramatic ass out of the kitchen.”
“Alright, alright,” he relented, holding up his palms in mock surrender. “I’ll just go back upstairs and starve, and when you call me, I won’t come down because all I’ll be is a pile of bones.”
“Great, maybe I’d get a break from your complaining,” Heidi muttered under her breath.
“I heard that,” Brian called over his shoulder as he departed, “and as punishment, I’m going to pretend I don’t like your cooking later in the most obnoxious manner I’m capable of.”
Heidi raised an eyebrow as he strolled away, laughing to himself, but was relieved to see that Brian’s smartass remarks had put a smile on Lily’s face.
“I don’t know how you put up with him,” the brunette giggled. “He’s a pain in the ass.”
Heidi rolled her eyes, “You should try living with him full time. Honestly, he never matured past seventeen. A week ago, he came in to do his hair while I was in the shower and wrote ‘Heidi’s a loooser’ with three ‘o’s in the condensation on the mirror. I forgot to clean it and now whenever I shower, it appears on the mirror and taunts me. He thinks it’s hilarious.”
Lily picked up her mug, trying to conceal her growing smirk as Heidi ranted on. It had been a while since her and Johnny had done anything like that, but she knew exactly what she’d be doing when she got home.
Lily jammed her key into the lock half-heartedly, finding returning home today as daunting as Johnny had so often found it. Despite the brief respite that visiting Heidi had given her, the cloud of her troubled relationship still hung over her. As she plodded down the corridor despondently, she found Johnny slouching at the table in the dim kitchen, the last rays of light from the sun illuminating his hunched figure.
“Johnny? Everything okay?” she asked, approaching him slowly. Looking over his shoulder, she noted the tattered envelope which he’d opened in his usual devil-may-care manner (which had always irked her – what if he tore the letter inside?) and the official looking letter beside it. “What’s that?” she questioned, leaning in to get a better view.
“It’s an appointment,” he answered, the words lingering on his lips as he made his way through them in a painfully slow manner. “It’s for the fertility clinic.”
“Oh,” she replied, finding little else to say. The letter evoked prickles along her nerves - of excitement or anxiety she wasn’t sure - and she reached over to get a better look at it. It was poorly timed, considering they’d just put the kibosh on having children, and all it served to do was spark a longing in her. It trembled ever so slightly in her hands as she skimmed over it.
LTF Fertility are pleased to offer you an introductory appointment at our clinic in Huntington Beach at 2.45pm on the 23rd June. At this appointment we will arrange for fertility testing for both parties and provide you with the opportunity to discuss and review the range of fertility treatments we have available.
She bit her lip, “What do we do with this?”
“I don’t know,” Johnny shrugged, “I thought we were taking a break for a bit?”
“We were… but if we put it off, we might have to wait ages for another appointment,” Lily mumbled, frowning at the letter as she sat herself on his lap. Why did this have to happen now, of all the times they could have had appointments available? “I don’t really know what to do.”
Johnny wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head against her shoulder, “Well, the appointment’s not for a couple of months, Lil. Why don’t we just wait and see how we go? Maybe by that time, with the pressure off of our shoulders, we’ll be thinking in a different light.”
“Yeah. Okay, yeah. That’s sensible advice,” she nodded, relaxing into him. “You’re so good at keeping calm. I knew I married you for a reason.”
“Not for my dashing good looks?” he quipped, giving her a devilish smile.
She giggled, giving him a playful shove, “Maybe it’s the way you tower over me.”
“Hey, I get enough of that from the guys,” he protested, sliding her off of his lap and standing. Giving her a comforting smile, he planted a soft kiss on her lips. “Come on,” he nudged her, “try and forget about this for now. Let’s watch a film together or something. You want a glass of wine?” He wiggled his eyebrows at her as he made for the cupboard.
Feeling a tingle of anxiety at the offer, Lily bit her lip. They’d been under her strict order for a few months to drink nothing – lest they further hinder their chances of conceiving – and the idea still prickled under her skin a little. Pushing the worry back down where it had risen up from, she tried to relax and nodded at him as he reached for a couple of glasses. “Yeah, sure. Rosé, please.”
“Pussy,” he snickered, rolling his eyes at her choice. “I knew you’d choose the worst one.”
She grinned, knowing exactly how she’d get him back for that remark. She turned away, calling over her shoulder, “Fuck you, Seward!”
“You’re a Seward too,” he reminded her with a devilish cackle. “Hey, you wanna choose something to watch?” he shouted after her as she made her way out of the kitchen.
“Yeah, just give me a sec,” she called back, heading for the stairs. She jogged up the steps with a smirk, making a beeline for the bathroom. She had a date with the mirror first…
Chapter 3 - A God Amongst Men by RamonaFoREVer
“Oh my god,” Johnny groaned, “I can hardly move.”
“I did tell you not to have that dessert,” Lily smirked. “I know you, Jonathan Lewis Seward, and a four course man you are not.”
“We only had three courses,” he argued, rubbing at his stomach pitifully as they strolled down the street hand in hand.
Lily snorted, “Except you ate the entire bread basket as well, so I’m counting that.”
Johnny groaned again, coming to a halt and throwing back his head for dramatic effect, “But the balsamic vinegar and ciabatta combo was so good, I couldn’t help it.”
His wife giggled, pulling his hand gently to coax him back into movement. They’d been to their favourite Italian restaurant, Moretti’s, for the first time in about a year. It had been their Friday night haunt once - before things had become so strained between them that date nights were out of the question - and they were keen to make it so once again. Their fertility clinic appointment was creeping ever closer, but they’d both forcefully pushed it to the back of their minds, determined to enjoy each other’s company in the wait. Salvatore Moretti had been so pleased to see his favourite customers that he’d offered them a bottle of wine and a bread basket on the house – an offer Johnny had taken him up on and then indulged in with a determination to enjoy every last drop and crumb of the gift.
“Tonight was great,” Johnny sighed, pulling his hand from Lily’s to wrap his arm around her shoulders affectionately. He dipped his head down to whisper in her ear, “And you look outstandingly sexy, might I add.” He straightened up and raised his voice, “I’m going to take you home and fuck your brains out.”
“Johnny,” she laughed, blushing furiously as she looked around to make sure the street was empty. “What if someone heard that?”
“I don’t care if the whole world knows,” he declared proudly, grinning at her with mischief.
Lily couldn’t stop the smile that spread across her face as she shook her head, “I’m not sure if that’s romantic or not.”
“Oh, come on, Lil,” he smirked, making no effort to lower his tone, eager to fluster her further. “When have you ever wanted romance? You’re a freak between the sheets, especially when I do that thing where I lick-”
“Shut up,” she laughed, shoving him away. “You’re trying to embarrass me, and it’s not going to work.”
Johnny cackled, “Now that sounds like a challenge, and it’s one I’ll happily rise to. You’ll never stop me-”
She cut him off by grabbing at his collar and pulling him in for a deep kiss that effectively silenced him. As they broke apart, with Johnny’s cheeks now flushed also, Lily gazed up at him with a twinkle in her eye.
“You’re all talk tonight, Seward,” she teased, still holding on to his collar. “Why don’t take me home and make good on your promise?”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” he answered breathlessly, a sly smile pulling at his lips.
They fell apart breathlessly, each wearing a satisfied smile. The sheets were a tangled mess around them, the cool air that breezed in through the open window trailing lazily over their glowing skin. Johnny set his hands behind his head with a contented sigh as Lily curled up under his arm, resting her head on his chest. He wiggled his nose as her dark curls tickled his face.
“You’ve got too much hair,” he complained, teasing a ringlet out and watching it bounce back.
“I could shave it off if you like, go for that Sinead O’Connor look?”
“God, no,” he laughed. “It’s mildly inconvenient at times like this, but it’s beautiful. Imagine our baby having these beautiful curls.”
“Our baby?” she asked, her breath catching in her throat. She rolled onto her front, leaning across his chest as she frowned at him in confusion.
Johnny took a deep breath, “I was thinking that maybe we could start trying again after our appointment.”
Lily took a moment to absorb his proposal, unsure of how to feel. Her heart swelled at the idea of reuniting with her husband on their adventure into parenthood, but she also felt a sense of impending doom at the prospect. The pressure that had borne down on them in the last year had not been sorely missed in the last couple of months, but the desire had lingered in the back of both of their minds quietly, and without the fights and militant routine to stifle it, it had undeniably become more attractive again.
Sensing her hesitation, he quickly brushed off his idea. “You know what? That was a stupid suggestion. Ignore me,” he laughed awkwardly, “I’m just caught up in the moment.”
“No,” Lily cut him off, shaking her head. “It’s just that I’m honestly scared. I know what a horrible person I turned into, and I don’t want to be that again. I don’t know how to go forward from here without getting sucked into that again.”
Johnny grimaced, a deep sigh escaping his lips, “Fuck, I ruined the mood.”
Lily snickered and snuggled back down into him, “No you haven’t, just maybe stop talking. I prefer you a mindless slave with no opinions of your own.”
“Oh right, of course. I mean yes mistress,” he retorted with a jovial laugh. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly until they both fell into a somewhat restless sleep, his suggestion clinging on in the corners of their minds.
“Have we got everything?” Lily asked, frantically stuffing her phone and keys into her purse.
“Did we need anything?” Johnny asked, looking over the letter that was clutched between his fingers. They’d attended their initial appointment a couple of weeks ago. It had been a run of the mill introductory meeting with many boring questions of medical history and lifestyle, followed by a collection of samples for testing – something Johnny had found to be a far more embarrassing experience than Lily had. They now faced the day of the results, and over the past week, Lily’s stress levels had crept up leaving her constantly on edge and difficult to live with. They’d not argued at all, but she’d been a little short with him and the house was sparkling – a sure sign that she was attempting to work her worries out via mop and bucket. “Don’t stress yourself, babe,” he smiled, pulling her into a comforting embrace.
She melted into him, grateful for the reassurance. “Sorry,” she mumbled, “you’re right. I need to try and chill out.”
“It’s a big day,” he acknowledged, kissing the top of her head, “but we’re facing it together.”
They piled themselves into his pristine car for a short but tense ride, both thankful to finally reach the clinic. Johnny made small talk as they sat in the waiting room, and Lily nodded in all the right places while not really listening, until they both froze up as someone approached them.
“Mr and Mrs Seward?” smiled the woman, garnering their attention. “Would you like to follow me?”
They glanced at each other nervously as they stood, each one questioning whether they were the problem and guessing at the solution. Johnny closed his fingers around Lily’s dainty hand in an affectionate display of unity, for nothing mattered to him more than she did. They followed the receptionist down the corridor, where they were shown to a cosy room inhabited by a rounded, raven-haired lady who sat at a desk framed by the large window.
“Hello again, Mr and Mrs Seward,” she smiled. “I’m Dr Singh. We met briefly at your consultation a few weeks ago. How are you both today?”
“Good, thank you,” Lily lied, wringing her hands as she smiled anxiously.
She gestured to the chairs in front of her desk, “Why don’t you both have a seat, and we’ll discuss the results of your fertility testing?”
Johnny and Lily did as they were told, both feeling as though they were weighted down with stones in their pockets, as Dr Singh’s fingers tapped against the computer keys.
She cleared her throat and looked up at the expectant pair of eyes opposite her, “So, I’ve looked over everything and we’ve found the cause for your difficulty with conceiving. Mrs Seward, everything appears to be fine and in working order with yourself which is good news…”
“But?” Lily asked, leaning forward in her seat. Johnny shifted uncomfortably beside her, now aware that it was he that was the problem.
“Mr Seward,” the doctor began delicately, “the sample you provided us with indicated a low sperm count and poor motility. In layman’s terms, there aren’t many sperm cells and they don’t swim well, lowering the chance that they can fertilise the egg cell.”
Johnny swallowed uncomfortably, “So what does that mean?”
“It means that your chances of conceiving naturally are very slim,” Dr Singh replied gently. “I’m sorry., but there are treatments available for couples like yourselves though. Some have success with IVF, but it can be an expensive endeavour.”
“How much?” Lily asked without hesitation.
“A round of IVF treatment at our clinic starts at $13,495. You’ll also require treatments alongside the IVF, to increase the success rate, and those medications can cost up to $2000. Your insurance may cover some costs, but it’s a big commitment for yourselves to make, emotionally and financially. And of course, you have to be aware that the rate of women who become pregnant and go on to have a live birth is around 57% for our clinic,” she added.”
Johnny frowned at her, “That’s not very high.”
“Pregnancy is complicated, Mr Seward,” she explained. “Even in a naturally conceived pregnancy, there is a chance that the mother may not carry the fetus to full term. We can help you with conception, but after that, I’m afraid it’s in nature’s hands.”
“I’m sorry, babe,” Johnny apologised, wrapping his arms around her tightly as she sobbed in the parking lot.
She shook her head fiercely, “Don’t be silly. You can’t help it, John. It’s not like you can control it. I just hate hearing that our best option is something we’ll never afford.”
“Hey,” he interjected, “of course we’ll afford it, Lil. We’ll start saving right away, and the band is starting to gain traction so hopefully we’ll have some more cash coming in soon. I promise you we’ll get there one day.”
She leaned into him, gathering fistfuls of his tee into her fingers and holding on tightly. “Or maybe this is the universe telling us it’s not meant to be,” she replied quietly, her voice wavering.
“What?” Johnny exclaimed, “No way, Lily. You’d be an amazing mother, I know you would. This is just an obstacle to get over to get there. I swear to you right now that I’m going to work my fucking ass off for as long as I need to until there’s a perfect baby in our arms.”
The beautiful brunette wiped at her damp lashes with her sleeve and looked up at him with adoration, “I don’t deserve you.”
“No one deserves me, I’m a god amongst men,” he teased, delicately tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
“More like a clown,” Lily snorted, rolling her eyes, and though she secretly agreed that he was more of the divine being ilk, she'd never let that one go to his head.
“There she is,” he snickered at her quip, giving her a last squeeze before turning the key in the ignition. “Let’s get you home, my queen. I’ll even buy you a pint of buttered pecan on the way back.”
She sniffled, admiring him with gratitude as he shifted the car into reverse. “You always know how to make a girl smile, Mr Seward. Take me home.”
Chapter 4 - LH + JS by RamonaFoREVer
The tension that had slowly come to settle over the Seward household was uncomfortable to say the least. Lily’s sunny attitude had once again been clouded over with a grey sadness, and Johnny had taken shelter in the garage from the impending storm of emotion with his trusty Skylark and a bottle of wax, the car getting shinier with each passing day. The longest fortnight in history had passed since their appointment, and in that time they’d bounced between avoiding the subject and obsessing over it, but nothing they could do or say relieved their grief. Lily had been trying her hardest to brush it off, to make a light acceptance of the fact that no children were coming their way any time soon, but it hovered like a dark cloud on her horizon, tainting her mood.
It was a sunny afternoon when it hit him. He’d just finished polishing the hubcaps for the fourth time and the idea tapped him on the shoulder gingerly as he set down the cloth. He was hesitant to address it at first, but it nudged him gently until he gave in and then it hit him like a meteorite. He would do anything for the beautiful woman he’d married, make any sacrifice he needed to, so this was no different. As he acknowledged his little epiphany, his excitement began to grow. With a smile spreading across his face, he burst out of the garage and raced across the garden to where his wife was sat on the swing chair with a glass of white wine. His sudden appearance startled her, and as she jumped she spilt a large drop of wine.
“Fuck, Johnny, look what I’ve done now. This is a precious commodity! Did something happen? Did you start a fire?”
“A fire? No. What? You think I’m that irresponsible?” he asked, watching her raise an eyebrow in reply. “Actually, don’t answer that. I came out to tell you I’m taking you to dinner tonight!”
“Ooh!” she exclaimed, a delighted smile blooming across her features at his impulsive gesture. “What’s the occasion?”
“No occasion,” he answered coolly, with a shrug. “Just because I love you.”
“You ran out here to tell me we’re going to dinner because you love me?” she asked with suspicion, sliding her sunglasses down her nose so she could look over them at him. “You wouldn’t even run for the bus, Jon. What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” he insisted, with a laugh of disbelief. “Can’t I just treat my beautiful, wonderful, amazing wife?”
“Now I’m really suspicious,” she giggled, “but okay. You can take me to dinner tonight.”
“My favourite couple,” Salvatore Moretti grinned as he approached them. They never even got to the podium to wait for a table because he would always descend on them as soon as they opened the door.
“Do you have a table?” Johnny asked, hopefully.
Salvatore laughed and began ushering them into a quiet corner, “For you, always. I get you drinks. The usual?”
“Thanks, Sal,” Lily beamed, as he slipped her coat from her shoulders before breezing away. She got comfortable at the table before leaning forwards on her elbows towards her husband. “So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” he insisted, though the ensuing nervous laughter made for an unconvincing statement.
Lily giggled at his poor act and sat back, “I can read you like a book, Jonathan Seward, but I’ll play along for now. Now, onto more important things, what are you getting?”
With their stomachs full of pasta and a few glasses of red wine running through their veins, they bid Salvatore Moretti goodbye and pulled the door closed behind them. Johnny wrapped an arm around his wife and pulled her close, planting a kiss on her cheek.
“What do you say to a walk through the park?” he asked, lingering against her skin and breathing in the scent of her perfume.
He felt he cheek twitch as a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “Okay, that’s it. Tell me what’s going on,” she demanded. “Last time you did this you asked me to marry you.”
“And you did marry me, so how about a little of that spousal trust?” he teased, ushering her forwards in the direction of their park.
“I’ve always adored this place in the evening,” Lily sighed as they approached the gates. “The light hits everything perfectly and it looks beautiful.”
“Just like you,” Johnny remarked, taking in the radiance of her features as the sunset painted them with golden hues.
She raised her eyebrows playfully but didn’t say anything, even though her curiosity and impatience were bouncing about in her mind and threatening to crash together in a spectacular collision.
They came to a familiar wooden bench, slightly set back into the greenery. To anyone else, it was simply a bench in the park, but to the couple approaching it, it held a thousand memories. It had seen a first date, a first kiss, a proposal and a handful of wedding photos, not to mention a hundred evenings just like this one. As soon as they sat down, Lily’s fingers wandered along the back of the top plank, expertly finding their way to the untidy, teenage carvings they’d made.
LH + JS <3
“Can you believe we’re still sat here together, all these years later?” she asked dreamily, her fingers tracing the letters.
Johnny took a deep breath, letting the nostalgia flow into his lungs and set his senses tingling. “You always say that, every time we come here,” he grinned, watching her tip her head back and close her eyes, enjoying the sunlight.
“I know,” she smiled, leaning into him.
He let the magic of the moment envelope him for a second before breaking the spell, “I’ve got something to tell you.”
She sprang away from him, her lips curling with delight, “I knew it! I knew you were up to something. Come on, tell me, tell me, tell me!”
He laughed at her boundless excitement, one of the many things that had pulled him into her when they’d first met. Clearing his throat nervously, he looked her in the eye, “I’ve got the money.”
“Huh?” she asked, her excitement replaced with confusion.
“For the IVF treatment,” he clarified, taking her hand up. “We can do it. We’re going to do it.”
“What?” she stuttered, dumbfounded by his big reveal. “What are you on about? Did you rob a bank or something?”
“Not exactly,” he chuckled, turning to face her properly. “I mean, I don’t have the money right now, but I’ll get it. I’m going to sell the Skylark.”
“What?” she repeated, a frown lining her forehead, “but you’ve spent months on it. You love that car.”
“I love you more, and I love the idea of our family more,” he smiled. “And besides, it’s not a practical car for a baby. We’re better off sticking to the Range Rover,” he added teasingly.
“Johnny, I don’t know what to say…” Lily trailed off, her frown deepening. “I can’t ask you to do that.”
“You’re not asking me,” he shrugged, pulling her into an embrace. “I want to do this. I’m doing it. I don’t care what you say, it’s happening.”
“But it must be worth-”
“I can get at least $15k,” Johnny interrupted, grabbing her shoulders impatiently. “Lily, listen to me. We can have IVF… We’re having a baby.”
Her eyes filled with tears as she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed, “I love you, you crazy dwarf.”
“You’re shorter than me,” he whispered into her hair as he gripped her back equally as tightly.
Their lips met as they deepened their embrace, and another memory was created on the bench that always had, and always would, belong to LH + JS <3
Chapter 5 - The Waiting Game by RamonaFoREVer
I don't want to panic you, but this is the last chapter! Someone pass the tissues, I'm emotional!
“Do we look yet?”
“It’s only been thirty seconds, Johnny.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m timing it.”
“I swear we’ve been waiting for five minutes at least.”
“Can we talk about something else?”
“Sorry, just nervous.”
Lily slipped her hand into Johnny’s and squeezed it. They were sat in the kitchen, a heavy atmosphere weighing down on them, while a pregnancy test teased them from the bathroom windowsill. Lily was so anxious she felt sick, and had insisted they wait in the kitchen instead of standing over it, willing it to change. Now, as the seconds ticked by slowly, she’d almost lost her nerve completely and couldn’t seem to sum up the courage she’d need in roughly two minutes to go and check it. Johnny was the total opposite, desperate to get in there and read it before she’d even flushed the toilet. His leg jigged with anticipation as they perched on the stools at the breakfast bar, trying to find anything but the test to talk about.
The Skylark had surpassed itself, netting its owner a hefty sum. It had been enough to start the couple on their fertility medications, as well as to book in their IVF treatment. With the science-y side of things taken care of, Lily had attended the clinic for the embryo transfer, and then there had been nothing to do but play a very impatient waiting game for the test date the nurse had given them to see if it had worked. They’d mainly passed the time with Brian and Heidi, though their friends had no idea why the pair were so on edge as they insisted on distracted dinners and film nights to try and occupy their minds.
“What time is it now?” Johnny asked impatiently, looking over at his wife who was looking paler by the second.
“It’s only been 30 seconds. We still have two minutes to go,” she replied quietly, staring straight ahead out of the window at the white picket fence that bordered their small home.
He nodded, though he could hardly believe how slowly the time was passing. Wringing his hands with impatience, he opened his mouth again, “What if it’s positive?”
“What if it’s not?” Lily retorted, lowering her eyes. The need to nervously fiddle with something overcame her resistance, and she found herself tipping salt out of the shaker and pushing it around with her fingertips – something she would have told Johnny off for doing. “What happens if it doesn’t work?”
Johnny wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her into his chest. “Then we save up again,” he shrugged, like it was nothing. “There’s nothing we can’t achieve together.”
“I don’t know how you can be so positive,” Lily sighed, burying her head in her hands.
“We just have to get through it, Lil, there’s nothing else we can do. And we will get through it. I’ll carry you, no, drag you if I have to,” he teased, taking one of her hands and lacing his fingers into hers.
She abandoned her salt artwork and gave him a grateful smile, “I love you. You know that, right?”
He scoffed, “I’d be worried if you didn’t. I’m a top specimen – the best mankind has to offer. I think we both know I’m the pinnacle of human existence because of that time where I-”
Lily’s phone began chiming and dancing across the table, cutting off Johnny’s vainglorious boast. Lily snatched it up and looked over at him with wide, anxious eyes, “It’s time.”
“What do we do?” he asked, suddenly feeling panic rush through his veins with an icy bite. “Just look at it?”
“Yeah, I guess,” she shrugged, staying glued to her seat.
With neither of them making any move, Johnny nervously rubbed his palms on his jeans. “You want me to get it?” he asked as Lily’s brows knitted together.
“I don’t think I can look. Will you look for me?”
He tilted his head, not wanting her to miss out on the moment, “Are you sure?”
“I don’t think I want to experience the heartbreak first-hand,” she answered jokily, though they both knew there was some truth to what she was saying.
“No, you know what? We’ll look together,” he smiled, giving her hand a quick squeeze in an attempt to reassure her. “I’ll go and get it.”
Johnny stood silently and tiptoed to the bathroom, each step feeling like it was weighing him down. By the time he’d reached the windowsill, he felt as though he were wading through concrete, his previous excitement all but deserting him. The test sat on the windowsill, completely unaware of the power it held over them. This little piece of plastic would set off fireworks in their hearts, or it would sink them to the darkest depths of the ocean. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see the result without his wife by his side, and reached out, his fingers wandering over the surface with trepidation. They closed around the pregnancy test and gripped it tightly, and he stole it up off the sill and staggered back to the kitchen, giddy with anticipation.
“I’ve got it,” he blurted out, hovering next to the breakfast bar. “Are you ready?”
Lily, who was jittering in her seat, swept the salt off the counter hastily and let out a shaky breath. With her heart pounding dizzily in her ears, she looked up at him and gave the tiniest nod. Without taking his eyes off her, he set the test down on the table gently. Their eyes were locked together, both terrified of what the test might hold.
“We look on 3?” suggested Johnny, grabbing up his wife’s hands.
“Okay,” she squeaked, gripping him back tightly.
They both snapped their eyes down to the little window on the test, still holding onto each other for dear life. The words were right there in black and white, staring at them. If Lily’s heart had been thudding before, now it was crashing around in her chest with reckless abandon. A prickly chill ran over her skin like a thousand needles as Johnny ripped his hands away and grabbed her shoulders with a whoop of delight. He began excitedly shaking her as a wide grin blossomed across her face.
“DID YOU FUCKING READ THAT?!” he yelled, dancing on the spot. “ARE YOU SEEING WHAT I’M SEEING? LILY? ARE YOU SEEING THAT?”
“Yes! Yes, I am,” she laughed, throwing her arms around him and squealing as he lifted her from the chair with ease and spun her around until they were both dizzy.
“There’s a baby in here!” he gasped, setting her down and marvelling over her midriff. “You’re pregnant, Lily! You’re with child! Holy fuck, you’re up the fucking duff!”
“Oh my god, you’re so gross,” she giggled, pushing him away and grabbing the test from the counter to inspect it closely. Even though it was there in black and white, she could hardly believe her eyes.
PREGNANT 2-3 WEEKS
Johnny approached her from behind and wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his head on her shoulder. “This is the best day,” he sighed happily, nuzzling into her neck. “We’re having a baby, Lil! A little tiny Seward to run around raising hell for us. We can put our feet up and let the kid do the work.”
“Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” Lily asked breathlessly, feeling the explosive fireworks of excitement corkscrew and whizz in her brain. Her heart was fluttering like a flock of sparrows, beating so wildly that she could hardly hear anything but the thudding beat in her ears.
“Who cares, any baby can rock a deathbat onesie,” he smirked, taking his own turn to inspect the test once again. “Jesus Christ, we’re having a baby, Lil!”
“I know, and on the first try. I can’t believe it,” she sighed, suddenly feeling a jitter of nerves stirring in the pit of her stomach. The anxious flutters multiplied at an uncomfortable rate and her smile faded, “It’s almost too good to be true.”
“Hey, don’t talk like that,” Johnny scolded gently, immediately pulling her into a protective embrace. “I know we can’t know what will happen, but let’s wait on the good, not the bad. Speaking of which, what do we actually do now?”
“We wait for the scan, I guess,” Lily shrugged, unable to help feeling a little deflated by the statistics of misfortune that were currently drilling themselves into her brain. “That’s in…” she paused, glancing over at the calendar on their wall, “about two weeks? Then we’ll know if it’s really worked.”
“It has worked,” Johnny maintained, trying to bolster her excitement up again.“Those words in front of us show us that it worked. We’ll just be extra careful with you now. No climbing on the counter to get shit from the top of the cupboards – why do we even put stuff up there? – and no strenuous exercise, which isn’t something you ever partake in anyway,” he smirked as he felt her eyebrows raising, challenging him to dare to continue. He gave her a quick squeeze, “It’s in there, Lil, it just has to keep sticking.”
Lily snickered softly at his wording, “You make it sound like we glued it up there.”
He gave her a small smile, happy to see her frown disappear for a moment. He loosened his grip on her and planted a kiss on the top of her head – an act that required great effort thanks to his short stature. “I love you, Lilian Joan Seward.”
“Using my middle name is really not the way to put me in a good mood,” she reminded him, wriggling out of his grasp to give him a playful shove as a reluctant grin stretched across her face. “You know I hate it, you shithead.”
“That’s what makes it fun to use,” he teased, ducking away from her glare and yanking open the fridge door. He leaned in in search of something. “Let’s celebrate with wine,” he suggested, reappearing with a carton in his hand.
“That’s apple juice,” Lily replied, arching an eyebrow and fighting to keep her smile from growing again.
“Yeah, but it’s the right colour,” Johnny retorted playfully, waving her off as he slipped two wine glasses from the shelf and filled them up. He pushed one into her hands as she gave him an amused look and raised his own up high, “May our baby grow and grow, just like the tree that provided the apples for our not-wine. To our little family.”
“You’re mad,” Lily giggled, finally giving in to the mirth she’d been struggling to hold back. She reluctantly lifted her glass and let her dark eyes wander up to his. Time and time again Johnny had lifted her spirits, carried her through the hard times, given her every ounce of his love and patience and kindness, and she’d never been more grateful to have such a wonderful goofball of a husband. She smiled as she clinked her glass of apple juice against his and whispered softly, “To our little family.”
N'awwwww, it's the end of JoLily's story! Don't worry, you can still follow their lives through the rest of the As Paths Cross series (SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION THERE!)
I hope you enjoyed :)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.