050; real life

80 9 12

it's really one am i hate that for me

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Awsten wakes up early the next day, feeling a little better after having slept unexpectedly well.  He was woken up to eat dinner, by which time both the twins were up, and then stayed awake a while with everyone before everyone said goodnight and went off.  Awsten has made sure to tell the twins he'd be gone in the morning in case they woke up and tried looking for him.

Now, he's awake and, having been given permission during the planning of this trip, using Gracie's car to head to the old house he really doesn't want to be anywhere near.  He considered asking one or two of his friends in town to come with him but he's certain he'll probably end up in tears and doesn't really want anyone around for that.  He knows they wouldn't judge him for it but he still wants to avoid it.

When he arrives at the house, he hesitates to go inside, waiting a few minutes in the car and just staring at the house as he prepares himself to walk inside. He doesn't know why it's such a terrifying thought. Emily is gone. The house can't hurt him.

He eventually forces himself out of the car and makes his way to the front door. There's another moment of hesitation before he unlocks it with the key that had been mailed to him and lets himself inside, flipping the light switch by the door so the house isn't completely dark. He considers leaving the door open behind himself but decides against it, shutting it but not locking it.

His eyes dart around, taking in what he can see at the entry way. He soon takes a few more small steps in, his breath feeling caught in his throat. He goes to the kitchen first, finding the leftover blood stains that the crime scene clean up crew couldn't quite scrub out of the floor. Somewhat morbidly, he wonders how much of the staining is from his blood and how much is from Emily's. He doesn't want to think about that too much. The chains are still here, much to his dismay. He thought those would be collected as evidence but, in the absence of a trial or need of any real investigation, he supposed there wasn't any reason to take any evidence in.

Everything is clean, albeit a bit dusty but otherwise pristine. The faded blood stains in the kitchen and the chains that are connected to various little hooks around the house are the only sign that anything is out of the ordinary with the house. There are pictures on the walls, Awsten and Emily at various points during the three years they were together. Awsten barely recognizes himself or Emily in the ones from the early months of their relationship, when it still seemed all sweet and innocent before it morphed into the more painful version of what they were. It's easy to tell which pictures are the oldest. He was genuinely happy in the oldest ones, and he got more and more miserable towards the ones taken later in their relationship. He hid it pretty well but he can tell by seeing the photos side by side that his smile stopped being real somewhere along the way. The love in his eyes died out and was replaced with fear and pain masked by a false joy.

The sight nights him feel sick.

He wants to tear all the pictures off the wall and throw them, let the frames break to bits. His hand twitches a bit before he balls it up into a fist, resisting the urge to start throwing the pictures across the room.

He steps away from where he's been standing to look at the pictures, wandering further into the house. Truth be told, he's pretty certain this is the first time he's ever really been free to wander around the house at his own choice.

He quietly makes his way around, taking a little time in each room besides Emily's. He's not quite ready to go in there yet. He hesitates at the sight of the pull-down stairs to the attic. He's never been up there, she never let him. But she's not here to tell him no. There's nothing stopping him from going up there.

Mostly as an act of defiance, he pulls the cord to let the stairs down and carefully make his way up the creaky stairs, using the flashlight on his phone to see until he finds the light switch and the whole attic floods with light.

There are boxes and photo albums and little random things here and there, many of which Awsten recognizes as his own.  There's a pair of shoes he remembers Emily getting angry at him for losing.  He can't help but wonder if she took them and hid them up here just for an excuse to scream at him.  He tries to push that thought from his mind, picking up the photo album closest to him.

It's Emily when she was young with her parents and what appears to be a young Ben.  He flips through the album, wondering how that kid in all the photos grew up to be the person he shot and killed right down in the kitchen.  He sets that photo album aside, going to the next one, which is significantly more unsettling.

Opening the photo album reveals pictures of him.  Geoff and Otto are cut out of many of them.  The pictures date back farther than Awsten would have expected, from before he ever met Emily.  They're all pictures that could easily be found online, or than she could've gotten from his phone and printed out.  In any of the pictures that someone else had been in with Awsten, the person is either cut out or scribbled out.  The next seven photo albums are more of the same thing, eventually getting current enough that he finds pictures of himself that had been with Thea and the twins when Thea had been pregnant with Theo.  There's one from before he left for the tour he had thought he'd be returning from to only a short wait for a new baby.  He's the only one left in the picture since Emily has cut out Thea and the twins.  He looks so happy in the picture, blissfully unaware of the torture to come.

After getting through those photo albums, he moves on to the next one.  This one is made up of photos from the weeks Awsten spent being held captive here.  Most of them are from times he'd been knocked out but there are a few where he's conscious.

He doesn't even know when he started crying but he suddenly becomes painfully aware of the  fact that his face is drenched in tears.  He traces lightly over one of the pictures.  He was out cold in this one, standing only because the chains had been around his wrists and connected to ceiling and had been far too short for him to even really stand properly.  His feet were barely touching the ground.  He remembers the way that made him panic when he woke up.  He'd scrambled to gain some more stable footing but it was impossible.

He doesn't want to believe that the person in the photo is him.  He closes the album and sets it down, taking a shaky breath as he thinks it over.

He wants to burn all the photos of himself.

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