022; flashback

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"Do you think we'll be together forever?" Emily asks quietly, lightly tracing her fingertips along Awsten's jawline as they lay in bed together.  Awsten takes a few seconds too long to answer, causing the soft, loving look on Emily's face to fall away, being replaced by one of the of hurt.

"Yeah, of course," Awsten hopes it's not true but doesn't want to face the reaction any other answer would be met with.

"You hesitated," Emily points out, her hand slowly trailing down his side before snaking around to his back, running lightly over the scar on his back from where the pot and seared into his skin two months ago.  She presses into the scar and Awsten knows it shouldn't hurt but there's still pain, it burns in a little echo of the pain from the night it happened.  He assumes it's his body's way of reminding him of what can happen if he makes the wrong move.  "Why did you hesitate?"

"Just got caught up thinkin' about our future," he lies, "where we're going."

"And where's that?" she asks, seeming satisfied with his answer and easing up the pressure on his scar.  She runs her hand back up his side before allowing her palm to rest lightly on his cheek.  "Gonna get married one day?"

"Maybe," Awsten can't bring himself to give a definitive lie on this.  He doesn't like the idea of marrying Emily.  He doesn't like the idea of spending the rest of his life like this but he can't imagine ever leaving.  He loves her, or at least he loves what she used to be.  He'd marry the person he met all that time ago, but he doesn't want to marry the person he's in bed with now.

"Why only maybe?" Emily inquires with a frown, clearly not pleased.

"I don't know," he mumbles, trying to come up with a good lie.  "Just never saw myself getting married, y'know?  Don't need to get married to show who I love.  I can show you in different ways."

"Oh?  What ways are those?" she questions, pushing lightly on his shoulder to put him on his back.  He laughs quietly as she positions herself on him and leans down to press a gentle kiss on his chest, right over a bruise marking the spot where she kicked him yesterday after she pushed him to the ground.  "We gonna have kids?  A nice little family?"

"Hm, I don't think so," he answers, leaning up to kiss her on the lips.  Truth is, he's always wanted to have kids but he doesn't want to have kids with the person Emily is now.  He worries she'd hurt them too and he isn't willing to take that risk.  So, instead, he lies.  "Never really wanted kids.  Rather spend my time showing you how much I love you, spend all my time, every breath of it on you.  Sing all my songs about you, make sure the whole damn world knows where my heart and my head are always gonna be."

"All about me then?" Emily tries to hide how much she likes the idea of that.

"Every second," he whispers as he sits up so his lips graze her ear when he says it.  He trails kisses downward and her hand runs through his hair.  "Every fucking second."

She smiles at him when he pulls back and it's moments like this that stop him from giving up and leaving in the middle of the night while she's asleep.  It's moments like this that stop him from taking his hidden stash of money and leaving with nothing but Jet and whatever clothes he happens to be wearing at the time.  It's moments like this that give him hope of bringing back the Emily he met that morning.  It's moments like this that make him hold on despite the bruises scattered across his body, all well hidden whenever he goes out in public.

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