044; real life

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"You're up late," Awsten comments to Geoff when he comes into the kitchen at a little after two am with a whining Jade.

"Needed some water," Geoff tells him with a shrug, "she okay?"

"Yeah, her and Skye both just are not for a reasonable sleep schedule quite yet," Awsten informs him before smiling down at Jade.  "But we're gettin' there, huh, sweetie?  Just a little bottle then back to bed.  And you didn't even wake up your sister!  My little angel, aren't you?"

Awsten quickly stops rambling to the baby in his arms hen he recalls that he's not actually alone.  He looks a little embarrassed but Geoff only smiles.

"You're a good dad," Geoff compliments quietly, watching as Awsten gets a bottle ready with one hand while cradling Jade carefully with his other arm.  Geoff wants to offer to help but it looks like Awsten has got this down pretty well and interrupting feels awkward.

"Really?" Awsten asks, pausing briefly.  He hadn't felt the need to stop for confirmation earlier when Jawn had said it to him or when Travis commented on it or when Otto teased him over it but this feels a little different.

"What do you mean?  Of course really," Geoff answers, seeming confused by the question.

"Sorry, it's just...kinda insane sometimes.  Y'know, like, a week ago, I couldn't hold her and get a bottle ready at the same time," Awsten tells him settling in with Jade and the now prepared bottle.  "Been learning with Thea and stuff, taking turns waking up and handling things when only one of the twins woke up and...I don't know, half the time when it was my turn to, y'know, do it, I'd end up needing help and she always helps but, a week ago, I couldn't do this on my own.  So, guess I've been doubting my dad abilities."

"Didn't seem to have any doubts earlier when everyone else was complimenting you," Geoff points out, watching as Awsten gently rocks Jade a little to help her relax.

"That's different," Awsten dismisses, shaking his head.  "But thank you."

"Yeah, of course," Geoff responds quietly, pausing for a moment.  "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Awsten allows, trying to sound relaxed despite visibly tensing up.

"Why'd...when you were with Emily, why did you never tell us what was going on?  Like, that year on Warped when you said you fell down the stairs and that time you called me and were in the hospital and then when I got there you said you got jumped while you were out walking but...you didn't fall and you didn't get attacked by some random people.  It was her.  Right?"

"Yeah," Awsten confirms quietly, giving a little nod, "yeah, it was."

"Why didn't you tell us?  We'd have helped you get out, you know we woulda," Geoff says, carrying on without waiting for an answer.  "I don't blame you for it, that's not what this is.  I just...I wanna understand why you stayed so long and why you covered for her every time she hurt you.  I don't get how you stayed in that."

"There's...I don't have a very good answer to that.  There were a lot of times I thought about telling you, or, I guess, anyone who could help, and getting out but...it's not as easy as it sounds.  I get that from the outside it can...it doesn't make sense.  It barely even makes sense to me most of the time but I never sat around just wanting to lie to you.  I was, uh, scared."

"Scared of talking to us or scared of her?" Geoff questions hesitantly, not sure he really wants the answer here.

"Both, I guess.  It wasn't...I can't explain it very well.  It was all twisted up in my head and I just felt like there was nothing I could do.  Every move was the wrong move type of thing, y'know?  It was like...whatever I did, it was gonna end up hurting me.  Doing nothing was less scary 'cause at least then I knew what to expect."

"Yeah but...what was it you knew to expect?  Did you just always go home expecting to be hurt?  How was that less scary than talking to us?" he pauses again before adding on one last thing.  "To me?"

"Geoff, you're one of...you're my best friend and I love you but...it wasn't about you.  I was in my head about it, and she had...a lot to say.  It sucks and, looking back I know I could've gone to you, but, at the time, it didn't feel safe.  Felt like there was no one I could go to most of the time.  It was just...uh, insecurities that were already there before she even came along about feeling like a burden and then she came in and kinda just...expanded on that, I guess.  I was already half-convinced before she came along and...it's not hard to convince someone of something they already believe.  So, when she said no one else, not you or my family or any other friends would wanna deal with me, y'know, it wasn't that hard to believe she was right."

"But she wasn't right," Geoff tries to keep himself calm, not wanting to have an outburst and make it harder for Jade to go back to sleep.  "Did I not do enough to show I cared?  That I was always worrying about you?"

"It really wasn't about you or what you did or didn't do.  My head was in a bad place, for a while and the, uh, situation I was in didn't make that any better.  I don't...I don't want you to feel guilty for anything that happened," Awsten tells him, pausing to gather his thoughts before continuing.  "I didn't want you, or anyone, to know what was going on.  There was nothing you coulda done 'cause you never had the chance.  I've...I've been through it in my head a lot of different ways.  I blamed myself, I blamed her, I blamed the world, then her, and then I blamed myself all over again but, trust me, I never once blamed you."

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