010; real life

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Awsten decides to just delete his social media apps for now, not much wanting to know what any of the strangers online have to say about what's going on.  He gives a little sigh, shaking his head and getting out of the car.  He shoves his phone in his pocket and heads towards the area for parents to wait to pick up their kids from school.

He resists the urge to check the time over and over again as he waits, knowing he arrived a little too early.  After a while, more parents start arriving and, after what feels like forever, the bell rings and students start getting let out, the teachers leading out their lines of kindergarteners.

Awsten's eyes dart around in search of Skye once he finds her teacher's line. He finds her with her friend, Nick, giggling quietly as he tells her something. He smiles a little, glad to see that she seems less upset than she was this morning. He heads towards where the teacher is letting parents pick up their kids, giving a little wave to the teacher and a couple parents that he's semi familiar with.

"Daddy!" Skye exclaims when she catches sight of him.  "Look!  Nick made it for Mommy and Jade!  Ms. Benson helped him spell the words 'cause he didn't know how but he wrote the letters and drew the pictures all himself!"

"I'm sure they'll appreciate it very much," Awsten says, giving Nick a smile after looking at the slanting letters forming the words Feel Better Soon scrawled out across the front, "thanks, I'll make sure they see it when they're up."

"Thank you," Nick responds with a timid smile.

"Daddy, can Nick come over today?" Skye requests, seeming to already have had this conversation with Nick.

"I, uh...you gotta ask Nick's parents if that's okay with them," Awsten answers, masking the surprise he felt at the request. He thought Skye would want to go to the hospital after school. "They're probably already here to pick him up. We'll wait and ask when they come to get him, yeah?"

"That okay?" Skye asks Nick, who gives a nod.

"Okay then," Awsten mumbles, knowing this isn't all that out of the ordinary but feeling like he's in an entirely foreign situation.  Nick comes over after school pretty often, so often that Nick's foster parents have exchanged phone numbers with both Awsten and Thea so they could check in on Nick on the days he comes over after school or sleeps over on the weekend so this isn't overly new at all but, in light of everything else, it feels odd.

Awsten tries to pay close attention as Skye and Nick ramble on to him about a million different things but he can barely focus, trying to figure out what to even do now. He was hoping to go back to the hospital but Skye doesn't seem to overly want to do that, eager to get home instead, so he can't take her with him. He considers asking Sam and Elijah to watch her for a bit after Nick goes home so he can have a little time at the hospital with Jade and Thea but decides against that, knowing Elijah needs his own time to rest.  According to Sam, Elijah is already denying needing rest so Awsten isn't about to do anything to further that.

Soon enough, Nick's parents find the class, already having been at the school searching.  They give the Okay on Nick going over, which is just a tad bit disappointing for Awsten.  He feels guilty for it but he wishes they would've said no so he could either be a little more relaxed and just order in food but now he's probably going to have to put in the effort of cooking and answering the occasional text about how Nick is doing.  Either way, he would've had to check in on Skye pretty often and make sure she was okay but adding another kid in is somehow even more exhausting even if it barely changes things.  All Awsten really wants right now is to either be back at the hospital with Skye to see Jade and Thea or to just sleep.

He forces a smile though, not wanting anyone to see that anything is wrong.  He drives carefully, feeling paranoid the whole time but hiding it well. Despite his paranoia, they arrive home safe and Skye and Nick are running inside as soon as the front door is open.

"No running on the stairs," Awsten reminds them as they dart towards the stairs.

"Okay," Skye and Nick call back in unison, slowing down as they get to the stairs and walking up, each holding onto one side of the railing.

Awsten lingers a moment before letting out a tired sigh, shaking his head. He goes over to the couch, feeling the need to sit down for a bit.

Seeing Skye and Nick heading upstairs hurt in an odd way. Jade would normally be going up to play with them too, Nick being the only kid at school she really made friends with, and Thea would be smiling because those three are inseparable, huh? and Awsten would laugh and make a comment about how pretty soon there'd be another kid to join the trio. Now, Jade and Thea are both unconscious in hospital beds and the baby is gone.

He knows Jade is going to wake up and come home, the doctors and nurses have told him as much countless times, but he can't shake the feeling that the trio lost one in place of adding one.  And Thea is going to come home too, she's going to be fine, but knowing that doesn't make him feel any less lost on how to continue like this without her for the time being.

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