Their mother dropped Kai off that evening. She didn’t come up; Kai said she had shopping to do and would pick him up later. He lived with their mother in the half-finished basement of her house, plastic sheeting the only thing between his bachelor area and the laundry room. He didn’t complain, though, and lived rent-free. Their mother did complain from time to time but never threatened to kick him out. He was her baby, after all. Wren suspected that she feared forcing him out of the nest would have disastrous consequences.
“It’s patch day,” Kai announced as he came in, handing her a bag of food from their mother; something she always did even though Wren insisted she didn’t have to.
Patch day meant updating his game files. She pointed to her laptop on the table and carried the groceries to the kitchen. She hadn’t eaten since the day before, having made the decision to wait until she got hungry again. Her energy was good and there wasn’t any discomfort at all despite having gone more than a day without food. She piled mangoes in the fruit bowl, their ripe perfume pleasant but not sparking her hunger at all.
Blocking Kai alone was easy. She was able to keep up a shield against him with hardly any effort. She’d debated before he arrived whether she wanted to know his state of mind at all. A feeling of guilt tinged the idea of it. She reflected that there weren’t any laws against knowing the thoughts of other people but as she’d proven to herself earlier at work there were things she might prefer not to know.
Oddly the experience at her workplace seemed to have strengthened her ability to shield herself from the thoughts of others. Like jumping into the deep end, she surmised.
She poured Kai a Coke and brought it to him at the dining room table, sitting down to watch him as he typed and frowned at the screen. She had earlier combed through the public areas of her apartment and made sure there were no stray splotches of blood left from her various fainting spells and staggering around on Saturday. She planned to hide everything that was happening to her until she understood it herself.
“Have you been playing WoW?” Kai looked consternated.
She laughed. “No.”
“There’s a different email saved in the launcher. It’s not mine or yours, though.”
She shrugged. “I don’t spend my money on that stuff.”
“Have you had anyone over?”
“No.” She felt odd about that answer but didn’t have any real idea. “I haven’t let anyone but you use my computer. Ever.”
He frowned some more but started the download. “You know Macs can get viruses too, right?”
“Yes, I know.”
He spent a few minutes more at the computer, then picked up his drink and headed to the sofa. “Mind if I watch TV?”
He usually timed his arrival so that he could watch one of his shows on SPACE since she didn’t have tv on demand. His visits were always brief and quiet. If they made conversation it was about their mother or current events. Wren sometimes wished for a closer relationship with Kai but there had been a wall between them as far back as she could remember and they were used to it now. She always had the odd sense that she was visiting a distant relative, not spending time with her brother.
She sat on the other end of the sofa from him and pretended to watch television. The temptation to peek into his mind was stronger now that he was here. Just a little; enough to see what his basic emotions were, she told herself. She glanced at him and looked away. He looked so much like their mother: Tall with bright auburn hair and brown eyes. Wren had resented her plain light brown hair, her hair colored hair, and had spent a lot of time in front of mirrors trying to find even a hint of red.
She peeked over at him again and began to slowly reach into his mind.
Tags: Chapter Three