After spending a few hours at the masquerade, he was glad to return home, to be able to get out of the monkey suit he’d been wearing all night and put on something more comfortable instead. It was past midnight, yes, maybe it was better to retreat to bed and call it a day. But instead he made the decision to head for the kitchen and come back with a snack and a drink, after which he sauntered over to his couch. He was about to sit down and watch some television, when the only picture sitting on the side table next to the couch caught his attention. The picture frame held a photo that had been taken recently, displaying Sebastian and a cheekily grinning girl in his lap. In front of the two of them was a cake that held four candles, about to be blown out by the birthday girl, the blonde, now four-year-old, girl that’d claimed Sebastian’s lap whenever she’d gotten the chance to. Another picture had been pinned in the left corner of the frame, this one a lot smaller in size. This one held a tired—but nonetheless smiling—woman, cradling a baby wrapped in a bundle of blankets in her arms. His eyes were trained on the sleeping baby.
Sebastian found himself smiling, remembering the last time he’d seen her, a few days ago.
It was eight in the morning, Sebastian had just barely rolled out of bed, trying to hang up on his father, calling from Paris to complain about Sebastian’s mother. It shouldn’t have surprised Sebastian anymore that the man still ignored time zones. Didn’t mean it didn’t leave him cranky as hell, though, ready to throw the phone across the room in hopes of breaking the device in half. At least he could go back to bed, then. He was actually about to yell at his old man to fuck the hell off, when a tiny voice called him from the guest bedroom. “Papa?" Half a second later, a little girl walked into the living room, big green eyes looking sleepily up at Sebastian’s scowling face, dragging a stuffed toy behind her. She frowned, then yawned, and then frowned again. "What’s wrong, daddy?" She walked up to Sebastian, until she was mere inches away from him, hooking a hand around his knee as she craned her neck, looking up at him. The scowl disappeared, mumbling a goodbye to his father, before hanging up. As soon as she’d let go of him to rub at her eyes, he crouched down in front of her, shaking his head quickly. "Nothing’s wrong, chérie." She let him pull her in for a hug, wrapping her arms around his neck as he lifted her up, the stuffed toy dangling from its ear, clenched in her fist. The toy in question, Mister Rabbit, missed one of its eyes—chewed off by the girl herself, and almost swallowed as a whole, too, when her grandmother had turned her back on Jo for just a second—and had been stitched up many times. She hadn’t ever let it out of her sight in the few years since she’d got it just hours after being born, and it showed. It was her most cherished toy, without a doubt. Leaning her chin on his shoulder and tightening her grip on his neck, she let out another loud yawn. "Breakfast?" she informed, knowing Sebastian was headed for the kitchen. "Oui," he answered, sitting her down on the counter and letting go of her. When she shifted, peeking down at the floor, he cleared his throat, watching her from the other side of the kitchen. "Jo, be careful." Johanna didn’t even look up, still staring down in curiosity. "I am…" He watched her for a few minutes, about to close the distance between them to lift her off the counter and set her down on the floor instead, but she beat him to it, dropping the bunny down, and not even hesitating to push herself off the high surface as well. She landed on the floor with a dull thud, eyes wide in shock, filling up with tears after a few silent seconds had passed. Another few moments passed before the first few tears started spilling, but Sebastian had crossed the kitchen before those tears could fully roll down her cheeks. "It’s going to be alright, pumkpin," he mumbled, scooping her off the floor and holding her in his arms, cradling her head. "Where does it hurt?" he asked, carrying her into the living room and placing her onto the couch. He lowered himself onto the carpet in front of her, rolling up her pajama pants as she pointed at her knees. He kissed both of her knees, looking up at her, brows raised. "Better?" She nodded, smiling through her tears.
After wiping her face dry and cupping her cheeks, making her look up at him, he gave her a pointed look. “What did I say about being careful?” She didn’t reply, only pouting slightly. “This is the third time, Jo, the third time this has happened. When are you going to learn it’s too high to climb off by yourself?” Johanna shrugged, momentarily forgotten she’d been crying. “When are you going to learn that…" she took her time to formulate her sentence, wrinkling her nose and frowning deeply as she thought long and hard about it, "That I’m going to fall off every time you put me on there?" Sebastian really did try to keep a straight face, he really did, but he couldn’t stop from snorting either way, grinning shortly after. "This is why a DNA test was never needed," he commented, more to himself than to the girl, trying to keep his laughter from rising to the surface. To no avail, because seconds later he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to his chest, muffling his laughter in her shoulder. Johanna giggled, if only for the fact that Sebastian was laughing, beaming up at him as soon as he’d let go. "You’re too much like your dad for your own good," Sebastian said, shaking his head as he got to his feet. Johanna, confused, cocked her head to the side, drawing her legs up to her chest and wrapping her arms around her hurt knees. "Does that mean it’s a bad thing?" Sebastian nodded. "Why?" She now looked utterly puzzled. "Because," he began, tugging a strand of hair behind her ear that hung in front of her eyes. He then kept quiet for a few seconds, thinking of what to say. "You’ll find out when you’re older, okay?" She pouted again. "But what if I want to know now?" In that very instant, Sebastian’s phone started ringing. He glared at it, willing it to shut the fuck up, but of course it kept ringing stubbornly. "Well, that’s too bad, then," he said, grabbing the phone from the coffee table, "because it’s a secret." He winked, before answering the phone with a sighed, and quite grumpy, yes?, hoping to everything holy he wouldn’t be greeted with his father’s voice once again.
Turned out the Gods had granted him his wish, as it wasn’t his father calling, but rather Jo’s grandma, informing about her granddaughter and wanting to ask a favor of him. Whether Sebastian would possibly want to house sit for a week and look after the blonde angel, while her grandparents went on a short trip to visit some relatives. They were to leave next Friday and come back next week on Sunday. Although the prospect of having to house sit didn’t particularly catch his interest, looking after her did. The house was close to his apartment, anyway, so, if really needed, he could go back and forth between the two places, right? He said yes in a heartbeat.
Looking away from the pictures, he gulped down half of his beer. Tomorrow would be Friday. A hint of smile appeared at the realization.
ooc: So, for anyone interested in Johanna’s backstory, or anyone that’s a bit confused; I already have some written for a next self para, in which everything will actually be explained. I was actually going to post that, but I sort of hit a dead end, and I didn’t want to leave it laying around any longer, so yeah.