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I Will Always Love You (Mothballed)

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     David, Mia’s fiancé, drove his Volvo V60 through the winding streets of Long Beach, after pulling off the freeway. One thing Mia hadn't missed in her three years away from the city—the traffic. She had, however, missed her Prius. The luxury sedan would never feel like home, just like she often felt in the Hollywood movie industry. It wasn't her, it wasn't who she really wanted to be. The elegant dinners, fancy premiers, elaborate cars and expensive dresses of the upper class didn't appeal to her like they once had. Back in the city that she had once called home, she finally realized that maybe she was the fool who dreamed a dream that wasn't worth obtaining. Mia realized that she belonged, perhaps, a little bit in both worlds. Smooth, elegant, and efficient, like her old Prius, but never too fancy. But she sighed as memories of old dreams flashed before her eyes.

     Somehow finding an empty parking space along the street, David turned off the car, and they both got out. They discussed the new movie he was producing. “Yeah, we found this brilliant new actress. She's almost as good as you! She's not though, I don't think anyone ever will be," he said.

     Blushing, Mia replied, "You don't have to flatter me. I doubt I'm the greatest actress or ever will be."
David took Mia’s hand in his as they continued to walk along the dark side walk. They came across a jazz bar with a logo Mia recognized from days long gone by. A bright blue Seb's sign that she once designed glowed above the entrance, and warm jazz music spilled out onto the street.

     "You want to check it out?" David suggested.

     Mia just looked at him, silently communicating, "Let's do it."

     The couple followed the bright blue arrows down into the club. Mia paused, shocked as she saw the Seb's logo she had designed so many years before. DAvid came up to her and broke her reverie, saying, "This place is pretty cool."

     Mia walked to the seats he had chosen near the front of the stage. She eyed all the posters and memorabilia to a Jazz era that no longer seemed lost, but never really focused on any of them. Sebastian's stool was proudly displayed, and she thought, after all these years he still has it. How typical. Her mind took her back to days gone by, and she contemplated the differences between the old Sebastian and the new Sebastian. At least he seems to have accomplished his dreams, done well for himself, and created a Jazz haven. He doesn't seem to be the rude, impulsive, irresponsible man I once knew. She reached her seat and sat down and handed her a cocktail. It wasn't wine, but wine wasn't appropriate for a club like this.

     The band finished their set and prepared to move off stage as the crowd clapped for them. Sebastian, or Seb, as many of his employees now called him, jumped onto the stage to play piano for a little while and give the musicians a break. As he introduced his band members, making fun of his pianist, his eyes fell upon Mia. For a brief moment he allowed his heart a small glimmer of hope, but it was dashed to pieces the moment he looked to her fiancé sitting close beside her. Allowing himself a moment, he finally settled on a simple, "Welcome to Seb's."

     He took to the piano, debating if he should play the song he played to himself so many times, but had never played for an audience. One filled with so much meaning, pain, and sorrow, that one could feel the emotions as he tried to capture them with his piano. One originally intended for so much joy, now filled with despair. He began the song he had taken to calling Mia & Sebastian's Theme, and Mia's eyes misted over as she recognized the piano piece she had first heard Sebastian play, and memories of what was and could have been filled her mind, not knowing the same anguish and longing filled the pianist's heart. A home, a family, music, and musicals filled both their hearts, but they both thought they knew it could never be. David turned to her as the piece ended and asked, "Do you want to stay for another?"

     "No, we should go."

     As they stood and left the club, Mia looked back and met Sebastian's eyes. They stared, trying to convey with a look what words could not, but failed. Acting completely on impulse, Mia dug a sticky note out of her bag and wrote;

Coffee–8:00 tomorrow–usual place?
Call or text me 917-379-1884
-Mia D

     She turned to the doorman and said, "Could you give this to Sebastian tonight? Tell him it's from an old friend."

     "Sure thing, miss, anything for a friend of Seb."

     As the club closed and his employees cleaned up and left, Sebastian stared mechanically at the posters of Mia's many plays and movies scattered on the wall. He had copies of every one, from her first play So That, to her new movie Eleanor, which also had a large mural outside the club. His doorman came up to him, saying, "Hey, Seb."

     "Yeah?"

     "Some woman gave me this note—she claims to be an old friend."

     His doorman handed him the note, and Sebastian read it, and allowed himself a smile. His doorman, looking on said, "I'm guessing by that smile she was a lot more than a friend."

     "A lot more, a lot more. I thinks that's died now, but a man can hope."

Chapter Text

     Driving his 1982 Buick Rivera, Sebastian felt bad he hadn't called or texted Mia. Frankly, he hadn't had time, between closing down the club for the night and trying to get a decent amount of sleep. He’d arrived at home a little after midnight, then spent some time writing music, and his foggy brain forgot to contact Mia. As he parked near the corner coffee shop on the Warner Brothers Studio lot, he was surprised he hadn't killed anyone. Walking to the doors of the shop, he wondered what was different with Mia. He'd seen her new movie, Eleanor, and liked it, as apparently many other did, as it was nominated for several Oscars and Golden Globe awards.

     Mia was getting nervous. At fifteen past eight, she figured that Sebastian either hadn't gotten her message, or he had stood her up. She had already ordered, her drink. The barista, Lindsey, gave her the usual, “Of course, on the house,” when she gave gave her order.

     Mia responded with the usual, “No, that's ok,” handing Lindsey ten dollars, “keep the change.” When she was about to lose hope, an exhausted Sebastian walked through the door. She watched him walk up to the counter and order a latte, then he was looking around the room, presumably for her. Their eyes locked, and Mia was brought down memory lane. As her mind imagined the future as it could have been married, kids, and a future, she quickly broke eye contact and smothered those thoughts, despite the pain the action brought her.

     Sebastian walked over to her table, and slumped down in the chair opposite her, and mumbled, “Good morning."

     “You’re late, and you forgot to contact me.”

     “I haven’t seen you for three years, and that’s the greeting I get?” He asked jokingly, ‘I fell asleep at one-thirty last night.”

     “I apologize.” Mia's eyes, however, screamed you are a complete moron.

     “All’s forgiven, although I will admit that was rude of me.”

     Mia showed significant surprise at that admission, but followed by saying, “Your club is nice.”

     “Yeah, I like it. I think I broke some kind of copyright law by stealing your logo, but I like it. Thanks for coming up with it.”

     “You're welcome. It’s a nice club.”

     As they sipped on their drinks, Mia spontaneously asked him, “What was the last movie I worked on?”

     “Eleanor.”

     “You’re good.”

     “I try to keep track of my friends. You’re nominated for best actress at both the Oscars and Golden Globes, but I think Brie Larson is going to win those, the movie is nominated for a bunch of other awards that I know nothing about, you co-wrote it, and you are dating the director, possibly engaged, which is speculated to have influenced the movie.”

     “You know your stuff. Between friends, I can confirm that we are engaged, and that that was a factor in the movie. I don’t know if dating him was a good idea, especially as I discover more about him. He doesn’t like jazz, but he puts up with it for my sake. I’m in LA promoting the movie, but I think you are right about the movie. It wasn’t my best performance. You know a lot about me, but I'll be honest, jazz club owners aren't all over the media. What about you?”

     “Right now, I just run the club. I sleep and write music all day long, and run the club in the nights. The jazz band and I are hoping to record some of our music soon–we think we might be able to sell it. We were thinking of recording live, spontaneous jazz sessions, but right now we don’t know if that will work out.”

     They spent most of the morning catching up and talking about their lives and careers. Eventually Mia looked at her watch and started, “It looks like I have to run–I’m meeting up with my old roommates today, and I said I’d meet them in 15 minutes. It was nice talking with you. Could we meet here the same time tomorrow?”

     “Sure.”

     “See you, Seb.”

     “Bye.”

Chapter Text

Mia left the coffee shop and walked the little ways to her black rental sedan. Looking at it reminded her that she both needed to go see her parents, and pick up her Prius, which she had loaned to them while she was in Paris. She got in and began the drive to her old apartment.

She drove to the freeway, and soon was lost in thought about her meeting with Seb. It was nice to reconnect. Even though we're both so different, I wonder what—STOP! her mind screamed. You're better off now! But despite her mind’s screaming, she could help but run through every pleasant memory she'd made with Seb. She quickly stifled any thoughts with reminders of her fiancé and her (hopefully) upcoming wedding.

She pulled up at her old apartment, still inhabited by Alexis, Caitlin and Tracy. She parked her car in her usual spot. No, she thought, my old usual spot. The thought made her heart pang with sadness, but it was soon overwhelmed with the thought of seeing her friends again. She knocked, and the door soon opened.

“Mia!” Tracy screamed, quickly calling over her shoulder, “Mia's here!” then turned and enveloped her in a hug.

“It's good to see you too.” Mia replied, despite having her breath being squeezed out of her.

Running feet and cries of “Mia!” could be heard, and soon Caitlin and Alexis came to the door, also enveloping her in hugs. Caitlin soon spoke,

“Mia! Welcome back home!”
Home. The thought came unbidden to Mia, where is home now? Before she could contemplate it further, Alexis butted in,

“Welcome back!”

They filed in from the doorway into the living area and sat down. Tracy, the ever-polite hostess, remained standing and asked, “Mia, would you like anything to drink?”

“Don't make me seem like a stranger,” Mia said laughingly, “I used to live here!”

"Yes, you did," responded Caitlin, "I assume you are going to be back in L.A. for a while?"

"For the foreseeable future."

"We never had the heart to get another roommate. We'd like to offer you your old room again. It's just the way you left it. You'll have to pitch in for rent, of course, but we thought it might make it easier on you moving back here."

Mia was deeply moved, and said, "You guys! You don't have to."

Alexis countered, "We want to."

"Thanks so much. I'm not sure if I'm ready to move into an apartment with David yet."

"David?" Tracy asked.

"My fiancé."

"Tell us all about him." Caitlin pried.

"You mean you haven't found out all about David Price's engagement to some obscure actress? The tabloids are all over us."

"We know what the tabloids say," replied Alexis, "We don't know what you say."

"He's a nice guy, I guess. I met him on the set of Eleanor in Paris. He's our director. We met before the script was finished, or the screenplay was written. He really helped me get around the city and understand what the locals were saying, or at least their meaning. He speaks French–I don't. Eventually, our friendship grew into more, which influenced some of the makings of the movie, actually."

"How's the sex?" asked Alexis bluntly.

"Just because your sex life is non-existent doesn't mean you need to live vicariously through everyone that has one. It's rude!" admonished Tracy.

"It's ok. To be quite honest, my sex life is about as pathetic as yours. He doesn't seem to want any, at least not yet, and frankly, I don't feel ready or safe to have that with him yet."

"Our little girl's getting cold feet?" asked Alexis.

"We haven't set a date yet. I can't get cold feet; it's not close enough to the wedding. Besides, I'm just waiting for the thing to develop naturally. Things will happen as they will."

"Oh. Dang, it. I wanted juicy details."

"Alex...don't be so nosy!" chastised Tracy.

"Yes Mom," replied Alexis and Caitlin.

Mia just sat back and sighed..."It's good to be home."

They spent the day talking and catching up. For lunch, Caitlin made an amazing stir fry, which brought Mia back to many Disney movie marathons. She suggested they do just that.

"Mulan!" yelled Alexis

"Sleeping Beauty." suggested Tracy.

Caitlin turned to Mia, then they both said, "Beauty and the Beast." Mia continued,

"For old time's sake."

"It is an amazing movie." Alexis supported.

"Beauty and the Beast it is." affirmed Tracy.

After watching the movie and interjecting their own commentary and memories into much of the movie, dinner time came. Tracy suggested they should stay in. Alexis said,

"No, we should go out."

"I agree with Tracy, but we should ask Mia." Caitlin said, ever the peacemaker.

"We'll compromise. We'll make dinner here, then I'll drive you guys to this really nice club I know of."

Just like they used to, everyone prepared some dish. Dinner commenced, and an assorted mix of "dorm" food, Asian cuisine, and French food made their way to the table. After dinner had been eaten over a lively conversation, they left for the club. All except Mia wondered what this "club" was like. Mia just smiled at their questions and turned the car toward Long Beach.

Chapter Text

    As the Mia drove to Long Beach, her roommates soon guessed where she was taking them.

    “Are you taking us to Seb’s ?” Asked Alexis.

    “Am I that obvious?” Responded Mia.

    Caitlin replied, “Yes, yes, you are. It’s probably the only place you would know of still around. Everything’s changed so much.”

    “It’s not just you,” reassured Tracy, “We actually hang out a lot there. We stayed in touch with him after you broke up, and Caitlin’s dating his manager, Keith, so we end up there a lot.”

    “Our little Caitlin? Dating Keith?”

    “Yep. They’re adorable. It’s a good thing you didn't tell her where we were going or to dress up too fancy. He’d probably spend more time staring at her than playing his guitar and making sure everything is still running.” Said Alexis

    “He does not!” Exclaimed Caitlin, blushing.

    “Yes, he does.” Retorted Tracy and Alexis.

    Mia, laughed and smiled. “I bet he still will, even though you’re not all prettied up.” I love these people .

    Mia pulled up to the curb and parked. They all got out, and Mia paid for her spot. They then walked into the club.

    Despite being there the night before, the club seemed different with her friend than with David. Keith soon spotted them and walked over, giving Tracy, Alexis, and Mia hugs, then sweeping Caitlin up into a searing kiss. It eventually ended with them both gasping for air and Caitlin grabbing Keith to steady herself while the girls looked at each other knowingly and smiled. Seb soon followed Keith, and greeted all the girls warmly, “Welcome back to Seb’s . I hope you enjoy the evening.”

    Soon the lights dimmed, and the stage lights brightened. Seb stepped out and addressed the crowd, “Welcome to Seb’s . Tonight we have some unique guest artists with us: Keith Lewis and some other members of the former Messengers band. We also have a guest drummer, Lucas Allen.” The aforementioned drummer, a young, high school-age boy, flashed a peace sign in acknowledgement of the crowd, but seemed to be paying more attention to setting up his kit than anything else, After Seb quit talking, the show started.

     Lucas turned out to be quite talented, and his eccentric jazz drumming style kept the night interesting and fun. Now a jazz lover and critic, Mia admitted he had lots of skill and style. However, that was not the highlight of the evening. Nor was it when Keith, Seb, Lucas, and all the former Messengers got together in a mix of the best talent in the room. No, it was when Seb took to the piano at the end of the last set, and played their theme, bringing tears to Mia’s (and everyone else’s) eyes, making her feel like more than just someone in the crowd.

    Mia dropped off her roommates at their home, and drove back to her hotel. David had moved to one closer to where he would be spending most of his time in the city earlier in the day, so Mia called him up before going to bed.

    David picked up on the third ring, “Hey Mia.”

    “Hello.”

    “How’d meeting up with your roommates go?”

    “It went really well. We had a ton of fun. Actually, they invited me to move back in with them!”

    “What did you say?” Asked David warily.

    “I said yes! Of course I said yes!” Mia answered excitedly.

    “I thought we agreed to talk before making any rash decisions for the future.”

    “I hardly think this qualifies as rash, besides, what else would I say to them? They're my old roommates!”

    “Could you consult me about stuff like this next time?”

    “Fine.”

    “Oh, I almost forgot. I had an unexpected meeting come up for tomorrow. I won’t be able to drive with you to get your car tomorrow.”

    “David.”

    “I know, I’m sorry. I really can’t skip this one. Maybe one of your friends can do it?”

    “I guess. Love you.”

    “Love you too.”

    “Bye.”

    “Bye.”

    Mia opened a group chat to all the people she still knew in L.A., Alexis, Caitlin, Tracy, Seb, and Keith.

 

David had to bail on me. Is there anyone who can drive me to my parents’ house tomorrow to pick up my Prius?

 

    Everyone responded pretty quickly with some variation of no, until Sebastian weighed in right before she was going to bed.

 

I can do it.


     Mia texted him the address of the car rental place she wanted him to meet her at, and said to meet her at eight, then signed off goodnight.

Chapter Text

        Seb pulled up outside the address Mia had texted him the night before, recognizing the apartment she lived in with her roommates the last time she lived in L.A. He parked his car and walked up to her door, knocking briskly. It wasn’t Mia, but Caitlin who opened the door. She stepped aside to let him in, and said, “Mia will be out in a moment. You can have a seat in the kitchen.”

        As Seb waited, he looked around the apartment. Not much had changed since the three years he had last been inside. Mia soon stepped into the room, pulling on her coat. She turned to him and said, “I’m all ready to go.”

        They walked to the car and entered it. Seb pulled away, and drove to the freeway, while Mia entered the address into Seb’s GPS. “I didn’t peg you as a GPS guy,” Mia remarked.

        “Yeah, I use it to get around L.A. better. I get lost traveling to new places, and it helps me get through traffic better. I was going to my sister’s once, and was about an hour late because I got lost, so my sister bought it for me,” replied Seb.

        “I never really drive much, in New York and Paris it’s much easier to take a taxi.”

        A long silence continued after that as they drove to Mia’s parent’s house in Nevada. Eventually Seb spoke up, “Where did we go wrong, Mia?”

        “Our relationship? Seb, we never communicated. Beyond learning about each other, we never shared schedules, never attended each other’s major life events, and did a general crappy job of supporting each other.”

        “Do you think it could have ended differently, if we had done things different?”

        “Seb, I don’t know. I mourn the Seb and Mia that were, and could have been together. I don’t think that Seb and Mia still exist.”

        “I mourn them too. But at least we dared to dream.” Seb fell silent after that, pondering the Mia and Seb that could have been. Eventually conversation resumed, and Seb and Mia talked about lighter things.

        “Are there any projects you are working on now, or are you just back to be back?” Seb asked.

        “I’m not really working on anything at the moment, but there are some people that have contacted me for auditions. I mostly in L.A. to do publicity stuff and possibly plan my wedding with David, and just relax. It’s a different atmosphere than New York and Paris, so I’m hoping to create some new screenplays and discover a fresh perspective while I’m here.”

        “Good for you. I’m hoping the music project I’m doing will take off, but none of us really know how it’s going to work out.”

        Eventually, they arrived at Mia’s parent’s house. Mia invited Seb in for some food, but Seb declined. As he drove away, he had a thought, I hope the Mia and Seb that would have ended up together still exist.

 

        Mia ate with her family, then got into her beloved Prius. After several years driving it, it was like returning to an old friend. As she drove home, she had the stray thought, I wonder if the old Mia and Seb are really as far away as you think, or is there still a chance for you to get back together? She soon banished the thought and chalked it up to stress, telling herself that she was already romantically involved, that such thoughts were inappropriate, and that that ship had already sailed.

        Mia parked her car outside her apartment and walked inside. Caitlin, Tracy, and Alexis were all hanging around, and it made Mia suspicious that they were waiting for her. She hadn’t walked far when Caitlin asked, “So how did your drive go,” in a tone of voice that made it clear she expected juicy gossip. Her other roommates leaned in, eager to hear even a hint of something romantic. Mia just glared at them and said,

“You guys need to stop being so nosy and give up on the idea of Seb and I being a thing. That ship has sailed–I live across the country and am engaged. We’re not going to be a thing.”

But really, in Mia’s heart, she wished that it was.

 

        Little did she know, in an apartment not far from hers, Seb was having a similar conversation with his sister.

        “We’re not a thing! Laura, you have to give up on this idea. She’s engaged now, is a well paying actress–”

        “And is entirely way too good for you. Or so you think. Seb, she was with you when success was barely even a dream. Now you are a successful jazz musician and club owner. You two aren’t so different from each other and the old Mia and Seb. You guys just have to try and make it work!”

        “Laura, that Mia and Seb are gone now. We made too much of a mess of things, and now it’s too late. I think you need to accept that.”

        “I know, Seb, I just want you to be happy.”

        “I know, and I am.”

        But Seb knew that really, he wasn’t as happy as he was when he was with Mia.

Chapter Text

“Caitlin, for the last time, no. I can’t come with you tonight. I’m reviewing the script for a movie based off Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. I have to memorize the script in two weeks. I’m sorry, but find someone else.”
“Really? I thought you were my friend!”
“I’m not your only friend, you know.”
“But you the only one who isn’t going out tonight and has a car!”
“Fine. But you owe me one.”
“I love you! You’re the best! We need to leave in like 5 minutes though.”
“What!”

Seb unlocked the door to his club, and walked inside, followed by Keith and some other members of his band.
“I’ll start turning on the lights while you guys warm up,” Seb said.
“Awesome, thanks man. Our staff are coming in 15 minutes, and we open at nine, so you guys have about an hour and 15 minutes hours warm up and ready to go. And no, Lucas, warm up does not mean burning alcohol again!” replied Keith.
“Dang it, man, no one got hurt!” retorted Lucas.
“But I lost my eyebrows, dude!”
“No, Keith, you didn’t. Though your reaction to the kid burning things was pretty funny.” said Seb, walking in from another area of the club.

Eventually the rest of the staff arrived, while the cacophony of instruments of the warming up band would make most people’s ears bleed. The sound drinks being prepped, food being cooked, and the staff reviewing their assignments for the evening added to the din. Soon, two young women slipped in from the back.
“Keith!” Caitlin all but screamed as she ran and gave him a hug, while Mia looked on in amusement at her friend. The thought of I want that kind of love too, but David’s not like that, hit Mia like a punch to the gut. As she looked around Seb’s, she saw the man himself talking with some kid she’d seen around the club before. Having finished the conversation, Seb

Seb turned, and his eye was instantly caught by an unusual sight for his normally upscale club