They say she is very old, they say she has had many lives and may have many more, but all she remembers is this. All she remembers is waking up, small and hungry and alone, until Dyson plucks her out of a bush and brings her to Kenzi and then she is only small.
Dyson has left to find Bo, Dyson will bring her home, and Tamsin is not sure why but she needs this to be true. She can't remember Bo, but she thinks that she should. She thinks she might, if she tries. When Kenzi talks about Bo her eyes get soft and sad, and soft is all right but Tamsin doesn't like sad. Tamsin would rather Kenzi keep smiling and talking, and maybe buying cookies instead of baking them.
Tamsin finds herself missing Dyson very much, and wishing he would come back. Maybe soon she'll remember why.
She knows what Kenzi said, not to touch Bo's things or even look at them, but Tamsin can't stop going into her room. It feels right to be there. She tries not to touch anything, and wonders how long it will be before Kenzi realizes where she is.
It's not long, or she doesn't think it is, and when Kenzi comes in Tamsin's curled up on the bed. She doesn't realize she's crying until Kenzi kneels down and says, “Hey, Lil T,” and swipes a thumb over Tamsin's cheek that comes away wet.
“I'm touching her stuff. And looking at it.”
Kenzi sighs. “Maybe I was a little harsh.”
“I tried,” Tamsin says and sits up.
“I know. Just don't mess anything up, how's that? You wouldn't want someone digging around in your stuff, would you?”
Tamsin sniffles. “I don't have any stuff.”
Kenzi sits down next to her. Tamsin, without thinking, leans into her side. “We'll get you some stuff,” Kenzi says. “Tons of stuff.”
“How long is it gonna take for me to grow up?” Tamsin asks.
“Probably a couple weeks.”
“What do I look like when I'm grown up?”
“Oh, you know. Taller. A little more boob.”
“Will I be pretty?”
“Well yeah, I mean if you're into the whole Nordic thing.”
“You're a smokin' hot Valkyrie babe.”
Tamsin points at the phone in Kenzi's hand. “Again.”
Kenzi stands up and shoves the phone in her back pocket. “How about instead, I introduce you to 90's sci fi.”
She sleeps in Bo's bed that night, where it feels safe, but she still dreams of something awful. She's screaming when she wakes up and it feels wrong, like she's spent years and years swallowing down everything that scares her, so no one will know. She covers her mouth. She hears the thump thump thump of someone running through the house, towards her, and she knows it's Kenzi but she still pulls the covers over her head just in case it's something else.
The light turns on and Tamsin's hands shake.
“Lil Tams?” Kenzi says.
Tamsin peeks out from under the covers but doesn't speak.
Tamsin nods, and clutches fistfuls of blanket so tight that her hands hurt. Kenzi shuffles sleepily towards the bed and Tamsin inches over to make room.
“Do you want to tell me about it?” Kenzi asks as she flops down next to her.
Red in too-large quantities, arms and legs twisted in ways they shouldn't go. Crying and whimpering and fear. “Bodies,” Tamsin says, and shivers, and Kenzi rolls onto her side and reaches to put a hand on Tamsin's shoulder.
“Hey, don't be scared. It was just a dream.”
Tamsin shakes her head. “I think it was a memory.”
She's grown some by the time Bo comes home, though Kenzi says she's not done yet. Bo and Kenzi run at each other and throw their arms around each other and Bo's crying and Kenzi might be crying too, and Tamsin hangs back and feels nervous and jealous and maybe a little bit sad. She wishes Bo would hug her like that but she thinks... she thinks that won't happen.
And Bo is so pretty. Like stupid pretty, and her face is so familiar, Tamsin can't believe she ever forgot it. There's a strange heavy feeling in her chest, something leftover from before, that makes her feel like maybe Bo might be the most important person in the world to her. She's certainly the most important person to Kenzi. Tamsin wonders if Kenzi will like her less now that her best friend is back.
Then Tamsin sees Dyson, and bounces on her feet a little, and squeals and waves and leaps at him, and he freezes for a moment but then his arms encircle her and he says, “You've grown.”
It feels a little funny and she thinks they probably didn't hug, before, when she was old. But this is her friend, Dyson. This is something she knows. “I missed you,” she says, and he just chuckles a little, patting her back.
“Uh, who's the kid?” Bo says, finally noticing her, and Tamsin lets go of Dyson.
“This,” Kenzi says, throwing an arm over Tamsin's shoulders, “is Baby Tam Tam. We're keeping her.”
“You're kidding,” Bo says, and Tamsin feels her heart sink and sink, because there's nothing in Bo's voice, so tender only moments ago when she'd murmured “Kenzi” into her friend's shoulder, to suggest that Bo is as happy to see Tamsin as Tamsin is to see her.
Later, she grows again, grows wings and knows she is done, knows somehow that this means she will not know another life after this one.
She tells Kenzi, who shrugs and says, “Welcome to the club, T. It's my last life too.”
But Tamsin is several weeks old now, and knows that Kenzi is human and finite, and will live less than a hundred years more. Her lip begins to tremble and it's something like anger that makes tears well up in her eyes, that she loves Kenzi, who will leave her. That everyone she loves always leaves her...
But she's not a baby anymore. She blinks a few times and swallows the impulse to cry, but she still launches herself at Kenzi and almost knocks her down, because now Kenzi is smaller than her. Small, human, fragile, beautiful. “I'm glad Dyson brought me to you,” she says, because Kenzi won't say, but Tamsin doesn't think they were friends before.
Kenzi doesn't laugh, just hugs her back and says, “Me too, Lil T.”
And Tamsin remembers... oh, she remembers something Bo told her once, and finally understands. Kenzi is my heart.