049; real life

104 8 9

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The next month drags on painfully slow as Awsten works out the details of how to deal with all of Emily's stuff that's, unfortunately, now his.  He's got a flight to Houston booked for the night school lets out for the week off the twins have and then the return trip booked for two days before they go back to school.  His parents already assured him that he and the twins can stay at their house while they're there, and assured is really just a nice way of saying they insisted on it.

The days go by slowly until it's finally time to go. Not knowing the real reason for the trip, the twins are excited. Skye wants to try playing baseball with Otto again, very confident that she's gotten better at it.  She also wants Jawn to make good on his promise to teach her how to take pictures like he does. Jade is excited to spend time with Gracie and hear more of her stories about silly things Awsten did when he was young.

Awsten is less excited.  He's nervous to go back to Emily's house and have to deal with everything.  He still hasn't quite decided what to do with Emily's stuff besides the house.  He wants to throw all of it away but he feels guilty doing that.  Why let things that are in useable condition go to waste just because he hates the thought of them existing anywhere?

He tries not to think too hard in that, focusing on keeping the twins calm at the airport as the head to get on their flight. Luckily, they both fall asleep pretty soon after the plane takes off.  Awsten is tempted to try to get a nap but he doesn't really feel like risking waking up in a panic from nightmares on a plane.  The nightmares don't always wake him up anymore, sometimes he's able to sleep through them, but they still sometimes have him wake up screaming and he doesn't imagine that'd turn out too well on a plane.

He stays awake through the flight, waking the twins up near the end. Gracie and the Knight parents are waiting for Awsten and the twins when they arrive, giving hugs and enthusiastic greetings that the twins are too tired to reciprocate. They both just want Awsten to hold them, which means he tries to hold them both which ends with him struggling a bit to hold one on each side of himself. Jade hides her face in the crook of his neck, holding onto him tightly despite how out of it she is. Skye is a little more awake, turning her head to the side to watch all the people go by and holding onto him loosely.

Awsten makes conversation with his family as he walks but it's painfully obvious that his mind is elsewhere no matter how hard he tries to hide it. He manages to follow the conversation mostly, only zoning out once and giving an awkward apology to make up for it before being reassured that it's no big deal.

He nearly falls asleep on the drive to his parents house but forces himself to stay up and try to participate in conversation as the twins both fall back asleep.

"You should go get some rest," Mrs. Knight suggests to Awsten when they arrive at the house, "we'll wake you up for dinner."

"Huh? Oh, no, that's okay—" Awsten starts to dismiss the suggestion, only to be given the signature mom look that apparently works just as well now as it did when he was young. "Right...let me just...Gracie, you wanna get Jade for me? Don't wanna wake the twins so just gonna carry them in."

"I'm on it," Gracie gives a little grin with her answer before carefully unbuckling the sleeping Jade and taking her out of the car. Awsten does the same with Skye and, despite his reassurance that he can come back for the bags, his parents grab those.

"Do we...me in my old room and them in the guest room or...?" Awsten trails off, feeling a little more at ease in the familiar setting but still somewhat awkward.

"Yeah," his dad confirms with a nod, "unless you wanna do it the other way around."

"No, no, that works, thank you," Awsten mumbles, heading upstairs with Skye sleeping in his arms. Gracie follows close behind with jade and behind her is their parents with Awsten and the twin's bags. Awsten has made a point to make sure the bags ended up in the backseat and not the trunk on the drive just to avoid having to deal with the ever-present fear and anxiety brought about by trunks. "Thanks," Awsten says again once the twins are in bed and the bags are set on the floor.

"No problem," Gracie speaks first, which his parents nod to.

"If...uh, you can just wake me up if they're up before I am," Awsten offers, his eyes darting over to the sleeping twins.

"Nonsense," Mr. Knight dismissed, shaking his head, "I think the three of us are perfectly capable of taking care of them while you rest. Just get some sleep."

"Are you...right, yeah, okay. Thank you. But if they need anything or they—" Awsten starts to ramble, only to be cut off.

"Awsten," his mom cuts in, "they're going to be just fine. Go to bed."

Awsten hesitates before giving a little nod, looking towards the twins once again before following his parents and sister out, taking his and the twins' bags with him to his room. Being back in his old room is more comforting than he'd expected. It's still mostly the same, minus the stuff he took with him when he moved out.

He sets the bags down in the closet, takes his shoes off, and hesitantly sits in his old bed, taking a moment to just breathe before he even attempts to sleep.

After a few moments, he finally stands back up and pulls the blankets down to then gets in bed and pulls them over him.  He takes a while to get comfortable and even longer to actually fall asleep but, by what feels like it must be a miracle or maybe just the buildup of exhaustion, sleep takes ahold of him.

•••

Not long later, Jade is waking up, a bit confused as she sits up and takes in the only semi-familiar surroundings.  The confusion fades away as she recalls where she is, her eyes darting towards Skye sleeping near her.

She sighs, unsure of what to do.  She hears Gracie's voice coming from downstairs and decides to head that way.  She quietly gets out of bed, careful not to wake up Skye as she does so.  She makes it downstairs without making a single noise, only catching the attention of Gracie and Mrs. and Mr. Knight when she makes it into their line of sight.

"Aw, look who's awake," Gracie exclaims with a smile, "c'mere!  You didn't give me a hug at the airport!"

Jade gives a little smile and goes over to give Gracie a hug, not letting go which lets Gracie know she probably wants to be picked up.  Gracie laughs quietly and lifts Jade up and sits down at the kitchen table with Jade on her lap.

"No hugs for grandma and grandpa?" Gracie asks teasingly, playing mindlessly with Jade's hair as Jade rests her forehead on Gracie's shoulder.

"I'm tired," Jade mumbles, snuggling up to Gracie a little more.

"Wanna go back to bed?" Gracie offers, to which Jade shakes her head.

"Where's my daddy?" Jade asks after staying quiet and just listening to the conversation between Gracie and Mrs. and Mr. Knight for a bit. "I wan'a see him please."

"He's sleeping right now, sweetie," Gracie tells Jade quietly, "what'd you wanna see him for?"

"Just don't like not seeing him," Jade admits quietly enough that only Gracie hears her, "gotta see him and make sure he's not gone again."

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