032; real life/flashback

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"Gracie wants to start a riot or something," Awsten says as he settles into bed with Thea after talking to his parents and Gracie about the events of the day online while Thea got the twins ready for bed. "She's more mad about this than we are. But her and my parents are good to watch the twins tomorrow while we go meet up with the lawyer. You still sure you wanna come?"

"Yeah, of course," she assures him quietly, "no way I'd ask you to do that alone. You're not alone in this."

"Thank you," he mumbles, "thank you so much for being here and for dealing with...everything with me. I know it's been a lot and, at some points, I made it harder on both of us than it really needed to be and I don't think I'll ever be able to really say how sorry I am for hurting you and putting you through what I did 'cause I'm so sorry for that but...thank you for not giving up on me."

"You don't gotta thank me," she assures him gently, "I stick with you 'cause I love you. Don't thank me for that. And you know I forgave you forever ago, you don't have to keep apologizing."

"You forgiving me doesn't make it okay," he reminds her, "it's always gonna be just...this bad point, y'know? I'm always gonna be sorry for hurting you, making you cry. I never wanted to be that person and...I was and you got hurt 'cause I was too scared to admit I was going downhill fast and needed help and I took it out on you. That's never gonna be okay and I'm never gonna understand how you forgave me for that."

"You didn't mean to," Thea mutters, a little shocked at the turn this conversation is taking.

"No," he dismisses, shaking his head, "please, don't do that. Don't make excuses for it, especially not that excuse. She used that so many times in the beginning when she still bothered with excuses. It doesn't matter whether or not I meant to. I did it. I knew what I was doing, I knew it would hurt you and I still did it. There's no excuse for that. Whatever it was I meant to do doesn't matter half as much as what I did do, and what I did do was hurt you and, yeah, you forgave me but I'll never...I'm never gonna feel like I deserve that from you, or that I deserve you at all, or the twins, or this house, or anything I have here with you. I'm trying but there's always just the guilt in the back of my mind and I'll see you there, smiling and happy and all I can think of is when I made you cry and it hurts 'cause I'm never gonna feel like I deserve to see you smile after I made you cry and I definitely don't feel like I deserve you here telling me I'm not alone. And I hate feeling that way but no matter what I do it just doesn't go away and my therapist has been telling me that it's 'cause Emily got it in my head that I didn't deserve anything good but...I don't know, I've been starting to kinda see passed a lot of the things she convinced me of but not this. This won't go away."

"You deserve so much good," she tells him, frowning at the thought of him ever thinking that way. "You're a good person and you work so hard and one mistake doesn't change that, and you're worth making it through all the trouble for. You're so good to the twins, and to me. You deserve the world and I wish I could give you that but...all I can give you is right here. And I hope you know that there's not a single day that goes by that I'm not grateful to have you here with me. I love you, and I need you to believe me when I say that."

"I love you too," he says, his voice quiet and a little shaky. He pauses before carrying on. "And I believe you...and you do give me the world. Everyday. It's all right here."

They go silent after that, simply taking comfort in each other's presence.

Thea falls asleep first and Awsten is left to lay awake, dwelling on the past.

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