004; flashback/real life

157 14 26

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"I think I love her," Awsten says, a dreamy, far away look in his eyes and a bright smile on his face.  "I know it's quick but...I've never felt like this before!   She's just...too good to be true, honestly.  Like, yesterday when I told her I had to cancel our date 'cause I wasn't feeling well, the went out and got me medicine and stuff and came over to my apartment to take care of me.  How sweet is that?  She's so sweet and nice and thoughtful, oh my god.  I seriously think I might be in love with her."

"It's really fast," Geoff starts off carefully, "like really fast.  You gotta be careful.  I mean, she seemed really sweet when I met her the other day but...I don't know, never hurts to be careful."

"I feel safe with her," Awsten tells him, "safe and comfortable and...at home.  I don't know how she does it.  I mean, this is fast even for me, trust me, I know but it just feels so right and she seems just as in it as I am."

"Alright, I'm not trying to tell you you're wrong or anything but just...be careful, okay?  Throwing yourself in this quick might not be the best idea.  I like her, she seemed cool and super nice but...I don't know."

"I know what I'm doing.  I'm happy with her—shit, I gotta go, she's going over to my place again tonight."

Not long later, Awsten is back at his apartment, making sure everything is spotless.  He's trying to think of any last minute final touches when there's a knock on his door, alerting him to Emily's arrival.  He hurries over to answer, smiling at her with love in his eyes when he opens the door to let her in.

"Hey," he greets breathlessly, wondering how she always manages to take his breath away so effortlessly.

"Hey," she replies with a little giggle that makes his heart skip a few beats.  She hugs him and kisses him on the cheek, laughing when it makes him blush.  "You're cute," she compliments as he lets her inside.

"That, coming from the actual cutest person on the planet," Awsten retorts playfully, admiring her as she gives him a smile.  "So beautiful," he mumbles, unable to really comprehend it.

"You're too sweet to me," Emily remarks, looping her arms around to the back of his neck and letting her hands rest there as she stands on her toes to kiss him on the cheek again, then on the lips.  "Mhm, way too sweet to me."

"Not possible," he mumbles, leaning his forehead against hers, "gotta be even sweeter to you.  Only the best for you."

"You sure know how to woo a girl, huh, Knight?" Emily jokes, pulling away and holding one of his hands to pull him along to sit on the couch with her.

"I try my best," Awsten responds sheepishly, giving a little shrug.  "Glad I seem to be doing okay.  So, I was thinking tonight for dinner I could cook us up somethin' nice and fancy and we could chill right here and watch some dumb rom-coms while we eat?"

"Wow and he's a chef too," Emily comments playfully, "is there anything you can't do?"

"Guess you'll have to hang around and find out," Awsten is only half joking.  "You wanna come hang out in the kitchen with me while I cook?  Maybe sit on the counter so I can take little breaks to turn around and kiss you?"

"Sounds perfect," Emily agrees before bursting out into laughter when Awsten picks her up off the couch.  "Aws!  Babe, oh my god!"

"Don't worry," he assures her, "I gotcha.  Or maybe you got me, all things considered."

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Awsten doesn't know what to do.

He didn't tell Geoff anywhere near the whole truth when they talked.  He didn't talk about the all-consuming fear that the reality he's settled into is going to shatter and Thea is going to end up just like Emily did.

Emily was good at the beginning, she made him feel so safe in the idea of giving himself over to her.  Now, that same feeling of safety is debilitating.  It weakens him to his core, making him feel like he's about to fall apart from the inside out.  He's terrified of taking the next step forward and letting himself get lost in the feeling of being in love.  He could drown in it if he let himself but he's scared that Thea will do what Emily did.  He's scared she'll use the feelings of safety and trust and love against him and let him get lost entirely.

He can't do that again.  He doesn't want to risk it.  He's tempted because he wants to be with Thea so badly but the fear and all the memories keep him from letting himself.

All the little scars he's kept well hidden over the years until they all got dropped onto the internet seem to be burning, warning him not to take the risk.  Don't do it, she might hurt you, don't do it, she could break you, don't do it, would you even make it out alive this time?  Don't do it.

"Awsten?" Lucas's voice startles Awsten, causing him to jump a bit.  He'd been so lost in thought he didn't even hear Lucas come in.  "Hey, calm down, it's just me.  You guys go on in a few; you gonna be okay for that?  You look a little rattled."

"Huh?  What?  No, I'm fine," Awsten lies, trying to push down his feelings for now, "I'll be right there; I just...need a minute."

Lucas hesitates, a worried little frown on his face before he nods and heads off to give Awsten some privacy.  Awsten hurries off to the bathroom, gripping the edges of the sink and leaning forward over it as he tries to catch his breath.

He squeezes his eyes shut but quickly snaps them back open when he sees Emily hiding behind them, ready to hit him or maybe push him or do some other horrible thing to him.

The sight makes him sick and he turns around and hunches over the toilet, emptying the contents of his stomach right into it.  After he's done, he stays in place for a moment, feeling shaky and overall gross.  He flushes the toilet, ridding the world of the evidence of his momentary sickness, before heading back to the sink and rinsing his mouth out and then splashing his face with some water.

He pauses for a moment, forcing himself to breathe.

As composed as he's going to be able to force himself to be, Awsten heads to stage.

He plasters on a fake smile and he eases his friends' worry with a well-practiced lie.

"Yeah," he starts off with a too-convincing fake smile, "of course I'm okay."

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