053; real life

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"Can't tell whether or not he's pissed at me," Elijah mumbles with a little frown as Thea walks him out to his car. "He's definitely not happy about it."

"Can you blame him? I mean, you did promise you wouldn't listen to the podcast. I get why you did it, trust me, I really wanted to listen to just to...try to know, I guess. But he asked us not to," she tells him with a shrug. "Just talk to him after he has a minute to catch up with it all. He still thinks he's gotta protect you from her so, at least let him get it through his head that he doesn't have to deal with her before you try to explain things a little better."

"Did you really not listen? You were at the place with him, right?" Elijah brings up, not wanting to be the only one who went against what Awsten asked.

"Sat in whole other room on the other side of the building 'cause he didn't want me listening," she informs him, pausing and giving a little sigh. "If it helps, you weren't the only one. His sister listened too. People kept sending it to her, asking how it was even possible that she didn't know. He's dealing with that too. She called crying a couple hours ago. He's dealing with it but it's not easy. Don't take anything from him too much to heart right now. He's stressed and really upset and you not keeping your promise makes him feel like you're against him. Give him a little time and he'll think it through and hopefully forgive you."

"Hopefully?" Elijah doesn't seem to like the sound of that.

"You know this is a big deal. You promised him you wouldn't listen and then you went and did it anyway. I get why you did it but having a reason doesn't make it any less bad, especially to him. He's not gonna stop being your friend over it but things might change a little. You gotta know that," Thea says with a shrug, leaning against her car as she and Elijah stand out in the driveway to finish their conversation.

"I didn't go in planning to listen," he explains in frustration. "It just...I didn't even fucking know what it was at first! Someone sent it and by the time I processed it or whatever I just...how do you stop something like that once it's playing? Like, that shit was my best friend's life for three years. How was I just supposed to stop listening? Felt like cutting him off to stop it."

"I get it," Thea assures him, "I honestly don't know if I'd have been able to turn it off if I were in your position...but in the end, you did promise him you wouldn't listen. I understand why you did but he's gonna need some time to figure out how he feels about it."

"What if he doesn't forgive me?" Elijah asks, trying not to dwell too much on the thought.

"He will," she says with a nod, "things might be a little different but he's not gonna be mad at you forever."

"Different how?" Elijah shoots back, his worry increasing.

"Might trust you a little less," she puts it bluntly, knowing there's no way around it.  "You've gotta understand that it's a pretty huge thing.  Aside from him not being ready for you to know, you did break a promise he trusted you to keep.  That matters a lot to him.  There's no way that won't change what he trusts you with."

"He knows I'd never intentionally do shit to hurt him.  He knows," Elijah insists, glancing back towards the house.  "He does know that, right?"

"I hate saying it but, honestly, I don't know if he ever knows for sure with anyone anymore," Thea sounds pained at the confession.  "It's not because of you or him or whatever but...you gotta remember what he went through.  He trusted her not to hurt him and look how that went.  He's not purposely do trusting anyone but I think having full faith that the people you care about won't intentionally hurt you is really hard after someone you cared about and trusted so much does it.  I think, logically, he's able to separate it but when feelings start coming in, it gets overwhelming and everyone is just another person who might decide to hurt him."

Elijah pauses, thinking it over.  She has a point, he knows she has a point, but the idea that Awsten doesn't fully trust him still stings.  Then again, he's seen it himself before.  He knows what Thea is talking about.

"Y'know, he thanked me once for not hitting him," Elijah tells her, "back when I went and told him you were pregnant.  I was mad and yelling and he looked fucking terrified and he flinched, just barely before, like, forcing himself to stay still.  Like, if I was gonna hit him or whatever, he wasn't trying to get away from it.  Just stood there.  Then I told him I wouldn't hit him and he fucking thanked me.  I was mad at him then but it still hurt, thinking he genuinely believed he has to thank someone for that.  Does he still...is he even passed that at all?  I fucking hate the thought of him always thinking people who love him might flip around and decide to hurt him."

"He's working on it.  You know he is," she reminds him, "he still...he flinches sometimes, y'know?  Like out of nowhere, or at least it seems like it's out of nowhere.  It's not too often but when stress is running high it can get pretty bad.  He usually doesn't let himself rest.  He'll try to stay up, like he doesn't think he can rest.  Someone's gotta tell him it's okay, usually."

"You think that'll ever change?" Elijah asks quietly, frowning at the thought of it not changing.

"He's working on it," Thea answers simply.  "Now, you could probably use some rest too.  Don't stress too much, he'll still be your friend at the end of all of this.  Maybe log off Twitter for a bit.  And take a damn nap."

"Just 'cause you're a mom now doesn't mean you get to tell me to get off my phone and go to sleep," Elijah fires back sarcastically, though he gives a little genuine smile.

"Elijah Daniel, do not make me repeat myself."

"Fine, mom."


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