020; real life

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No one is sure who leaked it but the news of Thea's death gets out within the day.

Some of the same people online who had bashed Awsten and Thea's relationship in the past are trying to take advantage of the tragedy for a chance to get noticed, aligning themselves with how they think Awsten will feel and how horrible this is.  Awsten thinks those ones are somehow worse than the ones that at least stick to what they've spent the last few years saying and show no sympathy. There are good people, of course, who seem kind a genuine and truly sorry for the loss but it's hard to tell those ones from the ones vying for attention.  It's easier to lump them all into the same category of not genuinely giving a shit.  He doesn't mind that.  He doesn't need a bunch of strangers on the internet to care at all.

He doesn't much care for the pouring in of calls and texts from friends and family either.  He knows they're just worried and trying to figure out whether or not it's true.  He knows it's all because they care but it's too much at once and he ends up just turning his phone off.

He puts his focus on the twins, trying to figure out how to make things okay for them at all.  His efforts there feel useless. He doesn't know if he really expected to be able to make things any better. It hasn't even been three hours yet, he couldn't possibly expect the twins to be anywhere near okay right now but it still makes him feel horrible knowing he can't make them feel any better.  He tries his best to hold it together for them, keep his crying as minimum as possible, avoid any breakdowns.

Elijah, Sam, and Kellen try to help but Awsten asks them to leave after a while.

"I know you just wanna help," Awsten mumbles, his bloodshot eyes looking anywhere but at them as they stand out in the hall rather than talking in front of the twins, "but I think...we just need a little while on our own.  The twins need to try to get some sleep.  I gotta start...gotta call everyone back."

"I can do that if you want," Elijah offers hesitantly, "you should get some rest too."

"It's...no, no but thank you.  I can do it," Awsten clearly doesn't want to do it but he also seems to hate the idea of anyone else doing it.  "I'll...just see you guys around."

"Awsten, c'mon, don't try to take this all in on your own," Kellen tells him, giving a worried frown, "you know we're all here for you and the twins."

"Anything you need," Sam adds on, to which Elijah nods in agreement.

"Just n-need some time to process," Awsten mumbles, his voice cracking as he starts tearing up again.  He wipes away the few tears that he's unable to hold back. Once those few get out, it quickly becomes impossible to hold back the rest. His shoulders slump forward and he lets his head hang down to hide his face. "Fuck, I'm sorry—"

"It's fine," Elijah assures him, "don't be sorry. No one expects you to be okay right now."

"I just...I can't—she's gone," Awsten stammers, trying to stop his crying, "she's gone—"

He breaks then, unable to get another word out. Elijah reacts first, quickly moving towards Awsten and hugging him tightly. Awsten returns the gesture, wrapping his arms around Elijah and shaking from crying so hard. He mumbles incoherently and Elijah doesn't interrupt him despite not understanding a word of the sob-broken, stuttered, quiet mess.  Kellen and Sam linger awkwardly, not knowing how to help.

"Lets go outside," Elijah suggests quietly once Awsten has calmed down enough that his words are actually comprehensible again, "talk out there, yeah?"

"D-Don't wanna go too far," Awsten replies, glancing towards the room where Skye and Jade are.  "Don't wanna leave them alone."

"Sam and Kal are still here," Elijah reminds him, "I'm sure they wouldn't mind waiting up here.  C'mon, lets just go outside.  You've been cooped up in this damn place all day."

Awsten hesitates, looking to Sam and Kellen as if to ask if they're really okay with staying to watch keep an eye on the twins.  They both nod in response to the unspoken but painfully obvious question that was never a question to begin with. Awsten mumbles a barely audible thank you before heading off with Elijah to go outside. He hopes it'll be easier to breathe out there.

The walk outside is quiet. Neither of them speak. They get outside and walk a bit before sitting down on a bench under a tree on a grassy area. They still don't talk for a few moments, Elijah waiting for Awsten to speak first and Awsten trying to figure out what to even say.

"They said...the doctor said this has been going on for...basically the whole time since the surgery.  She spent the last week and half dying.  Right fucking there.  Every time I went in there and sat down next to her bed and talked to her, she was just fucking dying.  And when she was there, awake and promising we'd get through this together and that she wasn't going anywhere...she was already gone.  She was already fucking gone while she was promising she wasn't going anywhere," Awsten rambles, already in tears again, "how is that fucking fair?  How am I supposed to do this without her? What the fuck am I gonna do? She's gone...I...I can't do this without her. I don't know how to do any of this without her. And how are the twins gonna deal with this? They...their mom is gone. I was...I had to tell them she wasn't coming back and...fuck, the looks on their faces killed me. They're barely even old enough to understand this shit and they're going through this.  I don't know how to make it better."

"Just be there for them," Elijah advises, knowing it's the obvious thing to say but not knowing what else he could say.

"How? How do I do that when I can barely keep my shit together for more than five fucking minutes at a time?  I need Thea.  I-I can't do this alone," his voice breaks on the last sentence and he wipes at his tears again even though the ones he wipes away are replaced within the same second.

"I wish she was still here too but...don't think for a second that you're alone.  You need anything, call me.  Day or night.  I don't fucking care what time it is, okay?  Whatever you need."


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