038; real life

70 8 19

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It takes eight days in the hospital before Awsten is finally told he can leave if he really doesn't want to stay, though a few more days would be preferable. Awsten takes the out, beyond ready to go home. He gets warned that the investigation isn't over quite yet and the FBI might pay him a visit at home. He hopes they don't.

What's left to investigate? Do they think he's lying? What more do they have to find before this can be over?

He tries not to think about it too much as he heads out to the car with Gracie and the twins. Awsten nearly stops short when he sees the open trunk waiting for the bag of stuff the twins brought him from home to be put in. He doesn't know why it scares him. It's just a trunk. It's not Emily's car and it's not Emily. Emily is dead. It's just a trunk. It's just a trunk.

"You okay?" Gracie asks, noticing how he's tensed up despite the fact that he's trying to hide his fear.

"Yeah," Awsten lies quietly, his eyes locked on the open trunk.

Gracie doesn't believe it but she doesn't want to push so she just nods. Awsten doesn't get too close to the trunk when they get to the car, standing a distance away from it that makes it obvious that he's intentionally avoiding it. He wishes it wasn't so obvious. He's just glad that Gracie had insisted on carrying g the bag so he doesn't need to get near the trunk to put it in.

He jumps a bit when the trunk is closed, struggling to keep his breathing even.  He's shaking and he only realizes it when Skye and Jade look up at him in confusion from where they're each holding one of his trembling hands.

"Are you cold?" Skye inquires, remembering when she was cold at recess before and shaking because of it until Jade gave her her sweater. She doesn't see how he'd be cold, it's already late in the afternoon and the sun is beating down on them but it's the only explanation she can come up with.

"Hm?  No, I'm good," Awsten tells her with a forced smile.

Skye frowns but decides not to dwell on it.  Jade decides not to ask either, looking in the direction he'd been staring in and trying to figure out what happened without having to ask. She can't figure it out and it's time to get in the car anyway.

They say goodbye to everyone who's staying in Houston, including Geoff because Awsten insisted he should go home to his family.

"Alright, who's taking the back?" Elijah asks, nodding towards the car. "Awsten, you wanna sit wit—"

"I wanna drive," Awsten cuts in, seeming set on it already. "Please," he adds on, not wanting to be too demanding despite knowing he's not going to relax at all unless he gets some bit of control here.

"You should rest," Sam reminds him, "at least for a while."

"Got enough rest," Awsten lies with a shrug, "I wanna drive."

"Okay," Elijah agrees to it, sending a look Sam's way that lets him know he probably shouldn't question Awsten on this one. Elijah saw the way Awsten jumped and started shaking, looking terrified for a split second despite his attempts to hide it, and he assumes that being in the driver's seat will help him feel less nervous.

Awsten gives Elijah a forced but grateful smile and a barely noticeable nod as Elijah gives him the keys.  Elijah and Sam bicker a bit about who gets front seat before settling on Sam having it first and switching off when they stop for food.

The drive seems to go on forever and Awsten refuses all offers to take over driving for a while so he can rest. Elijah and Same switch seats a few times, offering every time to let Awsten take a break from driving. He says no every time but thanks them for the offer. At some point, Skye says she feels left out of all the seat switching so Jade offers to switch seats with her and after that every time Sam and Elijah switch seats, Jade and Skye do too.

Awsten is exhausted for most of the drive, only having slept about half an hour last night in a less than restful sleep burdened with nightmares.  A coffee stop while everyone else is sleeping gives him a bit of a boost but not nearly enough.

When night finally rolls around, Elijah suggests they stop at a hotel and finish off the drive in the morning.  Awsten is hesitant, just wanting to get home, but everyone else seems to want to stop for the night so he agrees to it.  They find a place and make sure there are rooms available and then check in before going back to the car to unload some stuff for the night.

Awsten feels guilty not helping so he forces himself to try, taking a few cautious steps towards the trunk to grab his and the twins' bags.

"What are you doing?" Elijah asks, raising an eyebrow at him as he slowly nears the trunk, looking like he's about to have a full blown breakdown.

"I, uh...helping?" Awsten's comes out sounding more like a question.

"Nope," Sam dismisses, grabbing Awsten's bag while Elijah grabs the twins'.  "None of that.  Doctor's orders.  They said if you didn't wanna stay, you at least had to take it easy."

"You sure? I don't think the bags are gonna be that heavy?" Awsten responds with a frown, eyes darting from Sam to Elijah to the open trunk. It's not scary, he tells himself, it's just a trunk.

"Yeah," Sam assures him with a nod before closing the trunk. Awsten flinches and Sam and Elijah both notice but neither comment on it. Still half asleep, neither Skye nor Jade picks up on it.

They head into the hotel and go to their rooms with a connecting door between them. They close the door between the rooms after a little while when it's time for bed.

"I wan'a sleep in your bed," Skye mumbles, giving a little pout. "Please."

"You don't wanna sleep in the other bed with Jade?" Awsten hopes she'll go with it, wanting to give her what she wants but knowing it still hurts to have her laying halfway on top of him. Jade is already sitting on the bed farthest from the door, doing some coloring in the coloring book they'd brought along.  She glances briefly towards Awsten and Skye with a frown before just returning to her coloring.

"I wan'a go with you," Skye mumbles, tearing up a little. "Please, daddy, just tonight then I'll sleep in my bed when we go home."

"Okay," Awsten caves in easily, "c'mon then, lil' angel, lets go to bed.  You good over there, sweetie?"

"Mhm," Jade hums, "is it bedtime?"

"Yeah," Awsten confirms with a nod, "we gotta wake up early tomorrow and finish off the drive."

"Okay," Jade mumbles, closing the coloring book and putting the colored pencils back in their box, making sure they go in in the right order. "Can I turn off the light please?"

"Of course," he allows, forcing back the fear. He hates this. Is he really afraid of the dark now? And trunks? It feels ridiculous to think about but he can't ignore the wave of fear that engulfs him when the lights go off.

He hopes this fear will go away soon.

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