“I figured it didn’t matter. You didn’t remember anyone. Do you think you know who you made that promise to?”
There was a hopeful look in Addie’s eyes, like she had someone in mind.
I shook out my hands. “Okay, so when do you want to do this?”
“The memory restoration?”
“Yes. I’ve been practicing on the way over here. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty awesome.” I left out the part that I had been practicing on my phone and that Connor had to be there for me to do it.
Addie laughed. “I guess the sooner the better.” She took a breath and looked around the room, like she was going to sit down somewhere that instant.
“We can wait until tomorrow after the game. Whenever you want.”
“I think now would be good.”
“Okay. Now.” I rubbed my hands together. “I need to go get Connor.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Oh, really?”
I picked up a pillow off her bed and threw it at her.
She laughed and pulled it against her chest. “How do you extend your ability, anyway? I want to try. I told you about the whole slowing-down-time thing, right? But I have absolutely no control over when and where it happens.”
I raised one eyebrow. That girl must’ve had some strong emotions swirling around for her to trigger it without trying. Or did it have nothing to do with advanced ability at all? Had Bobby really unintentionally given her a piece of his ability? “I need to tell you something I found out. Something your mom wanted me to warn you about.” I filled her in on what I’d learned the day I visited her mom.
“So, wait. That flash drive, the one my dad stole—it’s been suppressing my abilities?”
“Attempting to, I guess. If something Bobby did affected you, she was hoping to smother it.”
Addie took a deep breath of relief. “So it’s the program that’s been giving me headaches. My mom was trying to block my ability. No wonder they’ve been tapering off since my dad stole it from me.”
“She wants you to get back on it.”
“Not a chance,” Addie said, her fists clenched. “I am nothing like Bobby.”
“I know that.” I grabbed her hand. “Your mom knows it too. But the stupid DAA and CC don’t know that.”
“This advanced ability is mine. He didn’t give it to me. He did not alter my mind. Let the CC watch me. They’ll see I’m nothing like him.”
Her conviction surprised me a little, but then I smiled. “Go, Addie.”
“I guess my dad stealing my program helped.”
“So maybe you should thank your dad after all.”
She gave a short laugh. “It’ll be awhile before I’m ready to thank him for anything.”
I’d never heard Addie talk that way about her dad. I needed to change the subject. If she wanted to keep extending this extra ability she’d inherited, regardless of where she got it, then I would help her learn how to control it. “The key to advancing your ability is to channel strong emotions. Think of something that will get your pulse racing.”
“Does it have to be a good thing?”
“No. Why? What’s making your pulse race in a bad way?”
“My dad not admitting that my dead grandpa is really alive.”
“That sucks. The lie detector lying seems so wrong.”
It really did suck because unlike me and my father, Addie and her dad actually shared a really good relationship. The kind where finding out he was lying to her might actually be surprising instead of just an everyday occurrence. By the looks of her, though, it didn’t seem that memory was going to make her pulse race, but instead throw her into a deep depression coma.
“That’s not going to work.” I pulled her by one arm off her bed. “No lying dads on the agenda tonight. Something different. What else makes you mad?”
“I don’t know.”
She smiled. “So what exactly will I feel?”
“Almost as if something is physically surrounding you. Then you let it gather and push it.”
There was a knock on the door, and my heart jumped. Addie opened it. Connor pushed his hair off his forehead and met my eyes over Addie’s shoulder. Yes. This would work just fine.
“I heard we needed you,” Addie said with a smile, standing aside so he could come in.
He walked into the room. “Apparently, Laila doesn’t know how to channel anger without me.”
“Oh, is that what you bring out in her?”
I shot Addie a look, and she laughed. I pulled out her desk chair and gestured for her to sit. She did.
Connor went to the window and inspected the string hanging down by the drapes. Addie started to say something, but he grabbed hold of the string and pulled. The curtains parted and light filled the room.
How did he know how to open those? He was a quick study. I positioned myself behind Addie. It had been about ten weeks since the memory wipe. I easily found the path of memories I had closed. Now, to open it. I concentrated hard, but nothing happened. Connor was ten feet away, staring out the window. I thought for a moment that I was going to have to ask him to come closer. He turned, as if sensing I needed him. His fiery eyes triggered an image of the night in the train, and the energy pressed against me. I gathered it and, with one burst of mental force, pushed to open the path. Her entire body went tense.
I dropped my hands from her head, but she sat there, catatonic, like someone had just killed her dog. Like I had just killed her dog. Addie had never had a dog, so maybe that was a bad analogy. That’s when it hit me. I had been so focused on learning how to do this that I’d almost forgotten my main fear: that she’d learn something about me that would make her hate me. The look in her eyes made me realize this was probably true. My hands twitched, dying to shut off the path I had just opened. I needed her in my life. She made it easier to breathe.
She stood but then leaned against her desk as if she might fall. Connor took her by the elbow. “Addie. You need to sit down before you pass out. You’re overwhelmed.”
She lowered herself back into the chair and started laughing. The laugh was creepy. Like someone had just killed her dog and then brought it back to life. The laugh of a person on the verge of insanity.
“I’m going to get her something to drink,” Connor said to me, and left the room.
“Wow,” she finally said.
I had never seen Addie this way, and quite frankly it was terrifying. “You hate me.”
Her glazed eyes met mine, and then she popped back up and grabbed me by the shoulders, crushing me against her. “No. You’re alive.”
“It felt so real.”
“I . . .” My mind reeled. “I died in your other life?”
She nodded, her cheek rubbing against my hair as she did. And then she whispered it so quietly I almost didn’t hear her. “I love Trevor.”
“What?” Then I clarified her statement. “You mean that you loved him in your other future.”
Addie sat back, her eyes so glassy I knew she was seconds from crying. “I can’t separate the two. Don’t you understand? These memories, it’s like they really happened. They feel as real as you sitting in front of me.”
I didn’t understand. At all. It was weird for me to think that a vision essentially could feel as solid as reality, but the look on her face was unmistakable—her feelings were real. “So you love Trevor . . . that has to feel awkward.”
She shook her head almost violently. “It doesn’t. He is . . .” And then the tears came, pooling in her eyes and spilling down her cheeks. “It doesn’t matter. I thought I wanted these memories, but now I realize that he hardly knows me.”
Addie: Not knowing seemed easier.
He hardly knows me. The words broke me. Because I knew him. Everything about him. From his easy smile to the way his hand glided across paper when he drew. The timbre of his voice, the shade of his eyes, the feel of his breath on my face. And the memories were as real as he was. Meeting him at the football game, talking in the classics section of the library, being trapped in the principal’s car together, our first kiss. What had I done? It wasn’t too late. I could have Laila Erase it again, take him away completely, because this was beyond torture.
And Stephanie. She was so awful to me in the other version of my life that I had a hard time reconciling the two sides of her. I had pushed Trevor back to her. She did not deserve Trevor. She was a drama queen. A huge, big, fat, ugly drama queen. I sighed. Only she wasn’t. She was gorgeous and nice. I had seen a different side of her, the one where she didn’t feel threatened by me, and I liked that side. That side was vulnerable and happy and kind. This sucked.
I dropped my forehead to the desk and moaned.
“You want this Norm boy?” Laila still sounded confused over this fact.
If I were selfless, I’d say no. I’d say, Let’s see how this plays out. Let’s see if Stephanie and Trevor can figure this out. But she’d already had chances with Trevor, and when it came to him, I was very selfish. “Yes. I want him back.”
“Then we’re going to get you this Norm boy.”
“Oh.” I sat up, wiping at my eyes with the back of my hand and turning to Laila. “I have Trevor’s phone number now. Should I call him?”
“Absolutely not. You must play coy.”
“I told him in the other version. I told him about the Compound and abilities and nothing happened. Nobody came after me . . . or him.”
“Okay. That’s a good thing. So wait, you want to tell him about the Compound and abilities?”
I had to. He was hurt so badly when I kept it from him last time. And I wanted to. I wanted him to know me. “Yes. He’s practically figured it out on his own anyway.”
“Well, that’s good that no one came after you. . . . Did you have the whole slowing-down-time thing in the other version?”
I bit my lip. I didn’t. My grandmother had never even hinted at having this advancement. Did that mean Bobby really had given it to me? “No. My ability hadn’t advanced that far yet. Will that make a difference?”
“Maybe. If they think that has to do with the whole Bobby thing.”
I thought back to the Tower. “But they don’t know. I didn’t claim that ability.”
She gave me a smile like she was proud of me for not informing the Tower. “That’s awesome, but you’re an awful liar. I’m sure their computers picked up that you were hiding something. And because of Bobby, they’re watching you closer this time.”
She bit her bottom lip. “So you told Trevor when? Like right away?”
“No. I told him a couple days before the Search was over.”
“So in other words, if you had stayed in the Search, it’s possible that the Containment Committee would’ve shown up at Trevor’s door.”
I pushed my fingertips to my closed eyes. “Yes. I guess that’s possible. Why didn’t I think of that?”