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golden age of something good and right and real

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Ted Lasso has been in the country for a month and all of Rebecca's plans to sabotage him have come back to bite her in the ass. Now that he's even won over Trent Crimm and that she’s had to stop his pictures with Keeley from getting out, she's counting on his own inexperience to get him humiliated in the eyes of the public.

She had to put a pause on her plans, though. Tonight's the gala for unprivileged children and she can't afford a thing to go out of plan, especially since it's the first event she's organized since signing her divorce papers. Rupert, thankfully, has RSVP'd no , and she's counting on no curve balls being thrown her way, at least for a night.

Rebecca's walking the carpet, worries immediately eased by Keeley's tips and the way she winks at her as if they're old friends. She still feels a bit nauseous as she gets inside, but the need to mingle and greet her guests is her first priority for now. Higgins is there, offering support when talking to the duller acquaintances, and she's still pissed at him for indulging Rupert's schemes, definitely, but he's a familiar presence, and she knows, deep down, that he's just the provider of a big family who saw an opportunity to make an extra amount of money. She can't really hold him accountable when she's also getting him involved in her own schemes. She never thought of herself as a good person, anyway.

Ted arrives and, damn him, can he wear a suit. Her breath catches in her throat for a moment before she remembers who he is and what he's doing for her, even without knowledge, and it's easy to get back into the conversation, greet him as though she cares. He compliments her dress, smiles at her, and she thinks he really does care.

She bonds with Keeley in the bathroom and there's a thought in the back of her head that tells her to apologize, maybe you could even make a friend, for once . She pushes it away for a greater goal: making her ex-husband's life absolutely miserable, just as her broken heart wishes. Still, she talks to Keeley about accountability and owning up to your mistakes, and the feeling of hypocrisy is drowned out by her martini.

Ted's advice works and she feels more comfortable in front of the crowd, standing up there with a bright smile. It's easy until she notices people start looking at their phones suspiciously at the same time, faces horrified as they look down and forget about her presence on the stage. Rebecca feels lost, even Ted is staring down at his screen, eyes leaving her for what feels like such a long time her body is starting to heat up with embarrassment, thinking there’s something new and scandalous about her in the tabloids. She tries for casual, for lighthearted, and she should've known it wouldn't work, "uh, will someone please tell me what's got you all so entranced?" She chuckles, and the first pair of eyes she sees snap up to hers is Teds. He's on his feet quickly, walking up the stairs to the stage and placing a hand on her back, trying to guide her away from eyes that seem to slowly remember she's there, clueless and awkward.

"Ted, what are you doing?" She hisses to him, face contorted in a frown. He only looks at her with those eyes of his, and she can't help but follow him.

He guides her to a back exit, and they step onto the street. Rebecca shivers, but before she can complain, Ted is holding her arm carefully, face looking too much like he’s holding something in, and her heart starts beating too fast, the feeling of dread pooling in the pit of her stomach, letting her know her issues with anxiety haven’t ended with her marriage.

“Rebecca, I don’t know how to say this.”

She frowns, “just get out with it, Ted, I’m needed inside.”

“Rupert has been taken to a hospital, according to The Independent,” he says slowly, hand tightening on her arm, but not even close to hurting her. “apparently with some kind of heart issue, and they tried to fix it, but he didn’t make it.”

His other hand taps on his phone until he shows her the screen, probably because she’s not saying anything and he’s always had this need to ground her (“ are you doing okay? ”, “ we’ll call it Biscuits with the Boss ”). There's a bold headline, screaming at her in the quiet night.

Rupert Mannion, former AFC Richmond owner, dies at age of 67

Rebecca looks up at Ted with a frown and an incredulous laugh, "I mean, not that I wouldn't be glad it happened but, this is not a good joke to make, Ted. It’s just a fake headline.”

"Rebecca…" He says slowly, and her eyes drop to his phone screen again. She grabs it from his hand quickly, squinting at the brightness.

Recently divorced, Rupert Mannion was reportedly dealing with non-severe heart conditions. Sources say his latest girlfriend, Rebecca (also known as Bex), took him to the A&E after he described an intense discomfort in his chest.

"What– I don't understand… He was fine two days ago when he called me to send over some boxes, I just–" Rebecca looks up at Ted, feeling the corners of her vision darken, spots taking over her otherwise good sight, and it’s all she can do to not drop to her knees on the street. Ted notices as she starts shaking, as it takes her extra strength to keep her eyes open, and she takes a deep breath before gasping out, “I’m gonna be sick–”

He keeps a hand on her back as she heaves, left arm supporting her front, and she grips it, probably leaving red marks as she does so. Ted tries to shield her as best as he can, waving to a rickshaw guy to continue past them instead of stopping, and he is so close that he can feel when she breathes in and sags against him.

"Is the nausea gone for now?" He asks, because asking if she's okay would be stupid and he's not one for insensitive questions.

"I guess," Rebecca breathes out. "I'm sorry."

Ted rubs her arms to warm her body, "don't apologize, Rebecca. Let's get you home, okay?"

 

It's a blur of Ted helping her into her coat; Ted talking to people as she sits outside, getting air; Ted telling her driver to go home after he drops them off at her place. She feels out of her body, as if she's watching everything unfold from a distance, as if the body lying under her heavy bedding isn't her own.

Ted sits on the edge of her bed, and moves to delicately pull pins away from her hair. Rebecca doesn't stop him, only closes her eyes and sighs when he lets her hair free. She feels him get up, feels him come back and wipe her makeup away with what she hopes is a face wipe, and it's weird that he's so quiet, she's not used to his silence, but she knows he's doing it for her.

"I'm gonna leave you to rest now," he says and it prompts her to open her eyes. Ted's staring at her with so much concern that she feels something unfold in her chest. Someone cares . "Call if you need anything?"

"Ted…" She whispers, not knowing exactly what to say next. "Thank you. For, you know, handling everything and bringing me back here, taking- uh," she clears her throat, "taking care of me."

He tilts his head to the side, "no need to thank me, Boss. I'm here for you."

Rebecca's eyes fill with tears and she isn't sure of what's happening, just that she's apologizing again and Ted is shushing her.

"Hey, it's okay. Wanna tell me what you're feelin'?"

His hand, warm and secure on her shoulder, makes her want to tell him everything, to lay all of her fears out and let him catch them and throw them away, let him keep her safe from it all.

She takes a deep breath, "that man, he knew me… more than anyone else. I used to think his blunt honesty was noble rather than what it really was. Which was just... the cruelest way of hiding his own insecurities."

Ted nods, taking it in, and it spurs her own. She needs this weight out of her chest.

"He'd say wear this, eat that. And I listened." Rebecca swallows dry again, "and now he's gone, and I'm alone to clean up his messes, as usual. I'm alone, Ted. Just like he said I'd be if I left." She lets more tears out, "I don't want to be alone."

And Ted, sweet Ted, only leans forward and wraps her in his arms, pulling her up into his chest, letting his arms encircle her shoulders to keep her together. "It's okay. I'm here."

As she sobs, she realizes no one has really held her like this before. Maybe her father, when she was little and fell from her bicycle, but no one who had yet to disappoint her. Perhaps Ted wouldn't, perhaps he was different, and the feel of him around her only increases the guilt in the pit of her stomach. She has to tell him, but not today. Today she's going to let him hug her until she feels human again, and tomorrow she'll tidy up her own mess, together with the ones Rupert left for her to fix.

"I can stay, if you want. I'll be happy to take the couch," he murmurs against her shoulder and she feels like crying some more.

"I'd like that," Rebecca whispers. She pulls back to look at him, "but don't be silly, I've got four guest bedrooms for you to choose from."

Ted chuckles softly, then reaches up and wipes away her tears with both of his thumbs.

She guides him through the hallway so he can find sheets and a comforter, together with some towels and an extra toothbrush, and when everything is settled in one of the rooms, he takes her back to her bed and does everything short of tucking her in. After he finishes, he leans against the doorway and looks back to make sure she's alright. Rebecca smiles at him softly, and he smiles back.

"Thank you for staying."

Ted salutes her and leaves, closing the door behind him.

 

***

 

He doesn’t see her for a week after that.

Higgins takes care of everything around Nelson Road and he has no idea of what she’s up to. She hasn’t called, hasn’t texted, hasn’t talked to anyone but Higgins and he’s worried, but he figures if something was terribly wrong he would’ve known by now.

Ted pictures her at home, in bed. Worries that she’s not eating enough, not sleeping enough, not taking care of herself. He worries that she’s too depressed to move, or too angry to see straight, and he can only indulge those thoughts since he has no confirmation or denial.

Until she knocks on his door.

It’s not too late, around eleven on a Saturday, but he doesn’t expect to see her when he opens the door.

“Your neighbor buzzed me in.”

“Come in, please,” Ted opens the door wider and moves out of the way.

“I’m sorry for bothering you, I just-“ she shakes her head, “I didn’t know where else to go.”

He ushers her to sit on the couch, then sits on the coffee table, right in front of her, “you can always come here. I mean it.”

Rebecca nods, taking a deep breath in, “I’ve got two things I need to tell you.”

“Okay?”

“First of all… I’m a fucking bitch.”

Ted widens his eyes, “oh, wasn’t expecting that.”

“Ted, I lied to you. I hired you because I wanted this team to lose. I wanted you to fail, and I sabotaged you every chance I've had.” She lets it out in one breath, closing her eyes and bracing herself for his reaction. “It was me who hired that photographer to take the photo of you and Keeley. And I set up the interview with Trent Crimm, hoping that he would humiliate you. Of course, you won him over, because you’re just a kind person, trying to make a difference.”

He nods, frowning, but nods nevertheless. She needs to explain, to make him understand, because she is going to need his support for what’s coming next.

“This club is all that Rupert has ever cared about, and I wanted to destroy it. To cause him as much pain and suffering as he has caused me. And I didn't care who I used or who I hurt.” Rebecca shakes her head at herself, “Ted, I’m so sorry. I really am.”

Ted hums, and she hears herself saying things, like if he wants to quit she’ll understand, but he doesn’t let her finish, interrupting with, “I forgive you.”

“You… what? Why?”

“Divorce is hard.” He states, as if it’s that simple. ”It doesn't matter if you're the one leaving or if... you're the one who got left. It makes folks do crazy things.”

“Yes…” She agrees softly, head swimming with messy thoughts.

“Hell, I'm coaching soccer for heaven's sake. In London.” He chuckles. “I mean, that's nuts. But this job you gave me has changed my life. It gave me the distance I needed to see what was really going on.”

Rebecca nods at him, finally beginning to understand.

”But you and me... We're okay.”

He looks at her for what feels like a long time, a small smile on his lips, and she’s just so overcome with shock and gratitude that she throws herself into his arms, wrapping her own around his neck in a strong grip.

Rebecca hears Ted let out a breathy chuckle against her and sighs, enjoying his warmth.

“What was the second thing?” He murmurs, and she suddenly tenses, due the most important reason why she’s here.

She pulls away to look at him, and the look on her face might tell him something because Ted’s brows knit together in concern. “I need your help. I have… no one.” Rebecca sighs, it’s now or never, “I haven’t spoken to my mom in God knows how long, Rupert made me cut off all of my friends and I suddenly found myself sitting in my bathroom, completely alone, with a positive pregnancy test in hand and, Ted, I have no idea what to do.”

“Wow.”

“I left you speechless, oh God.” Rebecca says, exasperated.

“No, no,” he assures, “I’m just surprised, that’s all.”

“I don’t want you to think that I only came clean to you because of my situation, I would’ve, maybe not now, but eventually,” she frowns. “Sorry, I just- I don’t know what to do.”

Ted moves to sit next to her on the couch, “it’s okay, Rebecca. I know you’ll figure it out.”

“I can’t believe he did this to me,” Rebecca mutters under her breath.

“What do you mean?” Ted asks, eyes full of concern.

“I asked if we could try having children for, God, I don’t know how many years. He denied the only thing I ever asked of him, and now that we’re divorced, he leaves me with a baby and dies ? What the fuck is happening?”

He widens his eyes, “I don’t really know how to comfort you right now. But, Rebecca, you’re not alone. You have me, and Keeley, and I’m sure Beard will agree to be your friend as well,” he teases, getting a breathless laugh out of her. “Higgins and the whole club, we’ve all got your back.”

“Thank you, Ted.” She breathes in deeply. “I should go, I’m exhausted.”

“Oh, no, ma’am. You’re staying here tonight. And tomorrow I’m taking you to get this one checked out,” he points in the general direction of her belly.

Rebecca waves her hands nervously, “Ted, that’s very kind of you, but there’s no need for that. I’ll be alright.”

“No, I insist. Did you know this couch turns into a bed?! You just take the bedroom and I’ll be fine and dandy out here.” He ponders for a second, “unless you really want to get home, then I won’t keep you here, but I’d be less worried if you stayed.”

She relents, because, really, Ted Lasso can be persuasive, and her house seems so far away at this moment. Ted lends her a shirt and a pair of sweatpants and, while she changes, he makes his bed on the couch. His bed is small, but comfortable; Rebecca feels warm and the feeling increases when Ted checks in on her. He makes sure that she’s alright before wishing her goodnight and moving to the living room, and she wishes the father of her child could be at least a quarter of how considerate Ted is.