Family Ties: interlude

“My head hurts,” Tara muttered, burying her face in her knees.

Tamy leaned against the desk, shutting her eyes. “Mine does too.”

The house creaked; probably Quinn creeping down the stairs to get breakfast.

“This whole time Nick was just pretending to spy on himself with powers the spy was trying to discover?”

Tamy tried not to think about it. Or how she’d managed to pretend like everything was normal the rest of yesterday, eating lunch and talking about their favorite rides…she and Tara hadn’t bothered scamming the carnival games much after that. She hadn’t even tried speaking to Nick again. And quite frankly, Nick hadn’t tried speaking to them either. It was like Tamy didn’t exist to him.

“And the spy wasn’t even real,” Tara exclaimed.

“I don’t want to think about it.”

“Can we go back to school now?” Tara asked. “I miss when things were normal.”

Tamy stared at the floor. “Nick’s going to go there in a few years.”

Tara groaned. “I can’t picture us going against him in the Battle Games. I can’t.”

“Who’s going to tell Mother and Quinn?” Tamy asked.

“Not me,” Tara announced, sprawling on the rug. “Nick can tell them himself.”

“I mean, who’s going to tell them that Alex isn’t real? That the person sleeping in their house is just a figment of Nick’s imagination?”

Tara sat up. “Um, actually, I have a question about that. How did Alex move all the stuff in here?”

Tamy shivered when it occurred to her. “Does Nick have telekinesis too?”

Tara ran to the door. “I’m going to ask Quinn.”

“Ask Quinn what?” Tamy asked, but her sister had already disappeared down the hall. “Ask if Nick has telekinesis?” she muttered. “That’ll go well.”

Tamy didn’t bother closing the door. She did crawl to her suitcase though, rummaging around for clothes she wanted to wear. Their mother was gone today, working at her office, which meant lots of “sibling bonding time,” according to the note stuck to the cereal cabinet–now occupied by three boxes, which Tamy suddenly realized they’d probably stolen.

“Whoops,” she muttered, leaning against the window.

Tara appeared back in the doorway, legs un-stretching back to regular size. “Quinn says he moved most of the things in here,” she put her hands on her hips. “And he said again ‘you better not move any of it either!’ so we should put the bed back before he notices.”

“That doesn’t really prove anything,” Tamy replied, ignoring the bed propped against the wall. “Besides, I just realized we probably stole everything from Super-save Mart last night.”

Tara opened her mouth, puzzled, but understanding flickered in her expression. “Oh.” she eased the door shut. “You can’t get arrested for using telepathic-illusion money, right?”

“I hope not.” She tossed a bundle of shirts onto the floor. “I’m more worried about Nick getting caught for something.”

“Yeah…” Tara muttered.

Tamy glanced up at her. “What?”

Tara shook her head and knelt on the rug. “Okay, I know I said he was disconcerting before, and I’d rather not have had the experience of telepathic sirens blaring in my skull–” she shuddered, reminding Tamy of when she’d shaken Nick at the theme park yesterday, “–But we have to protect him, don’t we? What if some kid at school finds out?”

Tamy grimaced thinking about it. “I’m not sure we should be worrying about Nick in that situation.”

“Okay,” Tara amended, “but what if one of his teachers finds out? Or the neighbors?” she pointed out the window.

Tamy bit her lip, slowly nodding. “Even Quinn,” she murmured.

“He can’t come to school with us,” Tara said. “He’s too young.”

“I wish there was a real Alex,” Tamy sighed. “She would probably protect him.”

“Or,” Tara said softly, “we tell mother.”

Tamy gaped. “Uh, no way.”

“Then what do you think we should do?” Tara exclaimed, pacing from the door.

“We…” Tamy trailed off, and shrugged. “I don’t know.”


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