041; real life

83 10 31

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Awsten is painfully aware of the odd looks he gets from other parents at the school when he takes the twins the next morning.  Some look like they have a million questions they want to ask, some give him looks that let him know they don't believe that he had a good enough reason to have killed Emily, others look like they pity him but they all look and he wishes they wouldn't.  What do they even expect to see? Do the morbidly curious ones expect him to invite them to a Q & A on the whole thing? Do the ones who seem to think he's some sort of danger expect him to to lash out violently? Do the ones looking at him like an injured little animal expect him to break down into tears?

He figures those last ones are the most likely to get what they're looking for. Seriously, why do so many people keep their kids' backpacks in the trunk instead of the backseat? Even walking passed the trunks is anxiety inducing but it's a thousand times worse when the trunks are open or being shut.

"You should start wearing bigger sweaters," Skye suggests as they walk, "or maybe two sweaters at once!"

"Why do you say that?" Awsten asks, a confused little frown on his face.

"'Cause you're always shaking now," Skye explains with a shrug, swinging the hand that's holding his back and forth. "If you're warm, you won't shake 'cause you shake when you're cold."

"He's not cold," Jade mumbles, surprising Awsten a bit.

"I'm a little cold," Awsten lies, not wanting the real reason he's shaking so much to be known.  He hates that she seems to already know, wishing he could hide this from her.  "Might wear my big sweater!"

Jade looks at him briefly before looking away and staying quiet, seeming to believe him only partially. Awsten debates saying more on it but decides against it, just letting Skye ramble on about whatever comes to mind next.

They get to the gate and Awsten reluctantly leaves after they head in. He'd been tempted to keep them home today, be with them on his first day back home but he doesn't want to keep them from school any more than he already has between the crash and the trip to Houston.  He forces himself to leave once they're out of sight, ducking his head down to avoid looking at any of the other parents.

He rushes back to his car, trying to breathe in the air that feels too heavy.  When did breathing become such a difficult task?  He takes a few moments in the car to just sit and try to get his breathing even before heading back home. There's a car parked in his driveway when he arrives, which has him immediately on alert.  He considers just driving away and not dealing with this but the person is waiting outside his front door and clearly sees him so it'd be awkward to drive away at this point. He pulls into the empty space beside the other car in the driveway, readying himself to tell whoever it is to fuck off.

When he nears the person and recognizes her, he realizes pretty quickly that telling her to fuck off might not go over too well. He tries to keep himself put together and go over what he should say to her in his head, trying to figure out why she's even here.

"Can I help you with something, Agent Paulson?" Awsten asks as he approaches her, trying to keep his voice steady.

"I just have a few questions for you," Agent Paulson replies with a nod, "could we go inside?"

Awsten hesitates before nodding and letting them both inside, his eyes darting around when he steps in as if to check for anything, or anyone, out of place.  Agent Paulson doesn't fail to notice how paranoid Awsten seems to be even in the safety of his own home. He doesn't settle, looking around constantly as if he's expecting someone to come out of hiding anywhere in the house and attack.

"What did you wanna ask about? I already told you everything," Awsten brings up, still looking around as he speaks and only meeting Agent Paulson's eyes briefly before looking away again to continue his search.

"I want to know more about the house," Agent Paulson tells him, "what condition was it in when you arrived? Was it clean or dusty?"

"What?" Awsten asks with a frown, caught off guard by the question. "I...it was fine, I guess. Why does that even matter?"

"She hadn't been back to Houston in years. Someone had to keep the house in order while she was gone," Agent Paulson explains the reasoning behind the question. "If it was clean, someone had to be there to make it that way, keep it from getting dusty or animals or people breaking in."

"You think...what? You think she had a partner or something?" Awsten questions, looking horrified at the idea alone.

"Someone had to have maintained the house while she was away," Agent Paulson says simply, pausing before continuing.  "Did it look like anyone had been staying there?"

"The, uh...the blankets and pillows all smelled clean.  Like they'd just been washed," he tells Agent Paulson, "it was...I did the cleaning while we were there but it was clean when we first got there anyway, or at least is was when I got let out of the room for the first time. I guess...someone else coulda been there before us. I don't know who it coulda been."

"Any family or friends you think would have helped her?" Agent Paulson inquires, seeming to already have an idea on it.

"No...she didn't really have any family, at least that's what she told me back when we...she was an only child and her parents died before we met," Awsten informs her with a shrug, trying to push down the stress building at the thought of there being someone else out there who assisted Emily.

"According to everything we've been told, you met her three days after her parents died," she sees how the news shocks him.

"She told me they died years before we met," he mumbles with a frown.

"It was three days," Agent Paulson repeats, "and the deaths were under...suspicious circumstances.  Her remaining family includes only her cousin, Ben, who was originally from Houston but lived here in LA right up until a month or so after your daughters were born.  After that, he went back to Houston and, up until you ended up back in Houston with Emily, there's records of Ben paying the bills at Emily's house, implying he lived there up until you were taken there, at which point he relocated to a hotel."

"So...is this something I have to worry about? D'you think he's gonna come after me or my family?" Awsten tries to force himself to stay calm and not imagine a million different horrible scenarios.

"As of right now, we can't be sure. It doesn't seem like he poses a serious threat but it does seem like he knew what Emily was up to and didn't say anything. We could try to get him on accessory charges but there's no guarantee that we'd get a conviction. The evidence is all circumstantial. Even if you recognized him, that doesn't stand too much of a chance of holding up in court," she wishes could give a more reassuring answer but there isn't much that can be done at this point. "Unfortunately, it does look like he's going to be making some trouble over the circumstances of Emily's death."

"Trouble as in...what is he trying to do here?"

"He wants you to be charged for murder."

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