045; real life

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Awsten and Geoff have been talking for a while now, both having lost track of time.  They only realize how long it's been when Thea comes in, Skye held carefully in her arms as the baby cries.

"Her too, huh?" Awsten asks, seeming caught off guard.  His eyes dart towards the little time display on the oven before he looks back to Thea.  "Wow, sorry, we've been gone a while.  Jade's asleep now though."

"You're good," Thea assures him with a tired smile.  "I can take Jade back up to bed after Skye gets calmed down?"

"You don't gotta.  I'll be up with her in a bit...should probably be getting back to bed ourselves too," Awsten mumbles, looking towards Geoff briefly.  "We can talk more about this tomorrow, or, uh, later on today, I guess.  Think we could both do with some sleep."

"Yeah, definitely," Geoff agrees to it, giving a nod.  "Goodnight...see you later."

"Night," Awsten and Thea both tell him.  There's a moment of quiet before Awsten speaks up again.

"Sorry," he says with a small smile, "kinda lost track of time."

"It's fine, honey," she assures him, smiling tiredly back at him.  "I'm sure you two had a lot to catch up on."

"There was...yeah, definitely a lot to talk about.  Been a minute since we actually got to talk like that," Awsten seems a little more at ease now that the conversation happened.  He knew he and Geoff would have things to talk about and he was nervous about how the conversation would go but he thinks he handled it well.  Mostly, at least.  "I think it was good for both of us.  He loses it when he can't dad me twenty-four seven so he had a lot to get out.  Probably gonna talk more tomorrow.  See what we can get sorted out or whatever."

"Okay...and, y'know you can talk to me too, right?  I don't know what you guys are talking about but if anything is bothering you...you can come to me.  You don't have to but..." Thea trails off, shifting Skye a bit in her arms.

"I know," Awsten replies, "and, trust me, you already know my side of it.  Talking to you helps a lot.  Geoff's just got his own stuff he's been keeping in, which is kinda my fault but...yeah."

"I doubt it's your fault, Aws," she tells him, "you put too much on yourself.  Not everything is your fault."

"Used to think it was everything but...it's not everything anymore.  It's...with this it's him feeling guilty for not knowing what was going on with Emily," he explains with a frown, "and he's got it in his head that he shoulda known but I, uh, well I lied to him at every turn, and when I wasn't lying I was letting Emily do it for me.  There was no way for him to know 'cause I wouldn't let him and now he's feeling bad over that.  Feels like it's my fault."

"It's not," she reassures him, pausing to figure out what to say.  "It was a bad situation and it's horrible but, in the end, the only one who's really to blame is Emily.  She messed with your life and the people in your life and that was something she's responsible for.  You were just trying to make it through.  It's not your fault, honey.  I know it's hard but blaming yourself forever is only gonna make it harder."

"I try to not do that but...it's hard, I guess.  Especially when I'm not the only one blaming me and there are people online constantly having things to say about what happened as if they had any part in it and know what it was like," he starts to rant, "and a lot of the, uh, smaller interviewers and news webpages who keep up with bands and music and stuff have been reaching out trying to get an interview, just 'cause they think this'll make them go big like AltPress or something.  I don't wanna just be their ticket to the big leagues or whatever.  It's...this is my life, this stuff happened to me and they just wanna sell it.  I hate that a lot.  And...it's just a lot."

"What was that and gonna be?" Thea asks, knowing he's leaving something out.  "You don't gotta talk about it right now if you don't want but you can."

"I do wanna talk about it.  It just feels weird saying it out loud.  I got...this, uh, this organization reached out and...they said they help, uh, abuse victims get out of the bad relationships and get justice and shit and they want me to tell my story.  They think I could help people but...I hate that word, y'know?  Victim.  I hate applying it to myself 'cause it just...it feels bad.  I don't know, I guess I just don't like thinking of myself as...that.  And, if I can help people...I'd never be against helping people but I don't think I could do anyone much good.  The organization talked about, uh, getting justice and moving forward and stuff like that and...I feel like I let her get away with a lot.  And I'm not exactly the model for stability and moving forward.  I don't think I can help people.  Not with this.  Sometimes it feels like I barely know what I'm doing.  How could I do anyone else any good when I still have bad days where I feel...guilty and like maybe there were some things she was right about.  I'm moving forward, yeah, but there are still bad days and...you've seen the bad days.  You know that they're really, really bad.  They're not as often as they used to be but how can I help anyone when I can't always help myself?"

"Aws, honey, do you not realize how good you've done?  You've made so much progress," Thea tells him gently, "you don't have to be okay every single day.  No one is, and no one expects you to be.  And no one expects you to always be the one doing things for yourself.  That's what this is for, I think.  Show people it's okay to ask for help.  But...don't put anything on yourself that you can't carry, and don't try to hold it all on your own.  You've got so many people who are always gonna be willing to help you.  If you wanna take this organization up and tell your story, you've got everyone who cares about you in your corner.  If you'd rather keep it private, you've still got us all there."

"Do you think I should do it?" he inquires hesitantly, seeming to be going over it in his head.

"I think you should do whatever you're most comfortable with," she answers, "it's up to you.  I don't wanna tell you one way or the other 'cause this is really about what you're okay with and what you're comfortable doing.  Take your time to think about it, okay?  Please, don't push yourself to decide before you're ready."

"You're with me either way?"

"Always."

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