“Night,” Ethan said coldly. He didn’t even have to look at the boy.
“Ethan, how did you know?” She asked in shock.
“He looks different as a human, but the aura is the same. There’s no doubt that he’s your imaginary friend. I’ve been around him since you were a little girl. I’m just as used to his presence as you are,” Ethan said.
“Then why are you angry?” Her voice was small. SHe was afraid of angering him.
“I’m not angry.” His voice was calm and steady. “But I do want to know how and why this happened.”
“Pandora made potions in your magic room downstairs. I was just going down there to get him to talk to me again. I didn’t know that he was in your private room. When I asked him to forgive me he told me that I could make him real. I didn’t think he’d actually turn into a person, I thought it was a joke,” Scarlett confessed.
Ethan looked over to Night. “Is this true?”
He nodded. “Every word of it. But she isn’t to blame.”
“Here’s rule number one,” Ethan began. “Your brother and sister are not allowed to bring their imaginary friends to life with these potions. Understood?”
“But why?” She looked up at him.
“There’s barely any room for Night. We can’t have seven teenagers and a toddler running around,” Ethan told her. There was of course other reasons, but none he would bother a 13 year old girl with. “Let’s go inside and talk to your father about this.”
“What’s everyone doing here? Uncle Ambrose?” Scarlett asked. “Oh great.” She plopped down on the couch ready for a lecture.
“You don’t seem so happy to see me. I’m here to visit,” Ambrose said. “Who’s your friend?”
“If you say he’s our brother, I’m leaving this house,” Bailey said indignantly. “There’s no way I can accept any more siblings. He doesn’t even look like any of us, and he’s got pointy ears.”
“Hey…” Night held his ears. He looked over at Scarlett. “They’re not bad are they?”
“No…of course not.” She shook her head reassuringly. “It’s ok.”
“I get the feeling that someone is about to drop another bomb on us,” Apollo sighed. “What’s your name?”
“Night,” He said simply. “I don’t really have a last name.” He turned to Scarlett once again. “Do I take your last name?”
She shrugged and looked to Ethan. “I don’t know…does he?”
“For now, yes.” Ethan told them. “You’re Night Gray if anyone asks alright?”
“Yes, I have a last name, this is really cool!” He beamed.
“Night….like your imaginary friend?” Ken asked cautiously. “Night is your nickname, right?”
“No, it’s his name. That’s her imaginary friend,” Ethan said. “But, I don’t want either of you making yours real.”
“What can’t your magic do, Ethan?” Bailey grinned. “So cool, but it isn’t fair that only Night can be real.”
“How can you believe this stuff so readily?” Ken asked her.
“If you haven’t noticed it by now, our family isn’t exactly normal,” She shot back.
“Enough, listen to me.” His eyes fell on Apollo who wore a worried expression. “If it was up to me, there’d be no imaginary friends coming back to life. I wish you would have come to me and your father before you did this, but you didn’t know so it’s fine. But as for you two, we cannot have any more people in this house. It’s hard to keep track of you all as it is.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Ambrose said. “You expect me to believe that he’s an imaginary friend manifested as a human being?”
Apollo let out a sigh and rubbed his temple. “Night, if you even think about hurting my daughter all Hell will break loose. You will wish you never came back to life. Trust me, Ethan doesn’t play.”
“Alright dad!” Bailey cheered. “He’s right you know. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Ethan can be lethal…so stay on his good side!” Apollo sent her a look and she stopped talking.
“As for you Ambrose…there’s a lot of things you don’t know about me. I’m not asking you to believe everything I tell you, and now isn’t the time to do it, but please, this stays within the family, okay? I don’t need any weirdos on my doorstep. Especially not with this many kids in the house.”
Ambrose nodded. “Alright, I’ll just be a listener for this one.”
“What are we going to do with him?” Bailey asked. “And will we ever be able to bring our imaginary friends to life too?”
“We can’t really turn Night away. He can stay here with us, where I can keep an eye on him. You’re staying with Ken in his room. There are a few rules that I need you to follow. You cannot flirt with my daughter, kiss my daughter, be anywhere alone with my daughter, understood?” Apollo asked him.
“I can’t be alone with Scarlett? But…!” Night began to protest.
“I already told you that,” Scarlett said.
“But…that means we’ll never kiss again and I really want to!” All eyes were on the pair.
Scarlett’s eyes widened. “Stop telling people that!” She exclaimed. Seeing Ethan’s demeanor change she quickly tried to diffuse the situation. “It wasn’t like that!”
Ethan shot a look at Apollo who seemed to understand that Night needed to be watched closely. “That stops unless you want to be tossed onto the street. I’ll be paying for your clothes, food and shelter, so you need to follow my rules.”
“Ok.” Night frowned. “At least I get to still be in the same house as her.”
“Speaking of clothes…those aren’t mine are they?” Ken asked.
“Sorry,” Scarlett apologized. “He was wearing this weird suit thing. There’s no way he’s fit in like that. People would think he was weird.”
“I’m going to have to share my clothes with him until he gets a wardrobe, aren’t I?” Ken sighed. Apollo nodded. “Looks like mi casa is su casa.”
“What does that mean?” He asked.
“My house is your house,” Ken answered.
“Pandora is going to hear it from me,” Ethan sighed.
“I’m right here, I’m sorry,” She apologized. “I didn’t know it was such a big deal. Don’t be mad at her. The potions are in your room so you can confiscate them. I won’t go down there anymore. I was just curious and I wanted to see if I could really mix a potion, and then I got good at it. I thought I could help.”
“Because you see them, right?” Ethan asked. She nodded. “No more imaginary friend talk, okay? We take Night and that’s it.”
“Sorry,” Pandora apologized again.
Once the crowd dispersed, Bailey found Ken in the kitchen. “Hey, Ken. Can I ask you something?”
“What is it? If it’s about bringing our imaginary friends to life, no way. You heard Ethan and Dad, they’re pretty serious about it. ”
“Oh no.” She shook her head. “It isn’t like that at all. I just wanted to know if you’d go with me to the party tonight.”
“Kristen’s party? No way.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “And you’re not going either.”
“Oh please!” She begged. “She only invited me because she has a crush on you. I can’t show up without you, I promised!”
“No way,” He repeated. “That’s not happening. That’s more reason for you not to go.”
“Just for an hour or two, we can sneak out tonight. Her parents are away, it’ll be fine.” She tried to coax him but Ken stood firm.
“No. I have to help Night get settled in. You should be sleeping instead of partying.”
“About Scarlett and Night…” Apollo began but Ethan cut him off.
“We will not have a repeat of my past with those two. I won’t let it happen,” He said.
“But what if they go behind our backs? They’re teens after all.”
“No. You don’t have to worry about Night. It’s those other two that you have to keep an eye on. I know that we shouldn’t let out guard down in front of him, but I never got a negative vibe from him. The only thing is that he’s really attached to her. If we socialize him correctly, we can detach him from her and he can live like a normal person. I don’t like the feeling I get when I’m in the same room as Amelia or Ryder though. I’m so glad that they weren’t brought to life.”
“Especially with how fragile Bailey is right now,” Apollo agreed. “I don’t know how school is for her, but I’m worried.”
“It’s up to her siblings to step in for that very reason. She isn’t going to tell us what’s going on in school and she’s lucky enough to have siblings her age there with her,” Ethan said. “I think we can trust Ken. He seems to be taking the older brother role very seriously with the girls. Which is another reason I’m sure Night won’t be too much of a problem.”
Despite Ken’s refusal, Bailey would be going to that party tonight. She had almost made it out of the house without drawing any attention when she heard a loud grunt. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Ken?” She asked in shock. “No way. Just turn around and let me go. I’m not hurting anyone.”
“You’re hurting yourself,” He said. “You need to listen to me. I’m only looking out for you.”
“Don’t you get it?” She demanded. “Kristen is the most popular girl in school. I need to go to that party! Everyone will be there!”
“I won’t. Scarlett and Pandora won’t,” Ken said.
“Because you guys are dweebs!” She shouted.
“It’s okay to be a dweeb.” He stepped closer to her. “I’m sorry that mom left us, but please don’t let that affect your judgement.”
She looked at him angrily, but tears were falling from her eyelids. “That has nothing to do with it! Who cares if she left? I don’t care about her like you and Scarlett. She let that man hit me! She knew he was doing it!” She fell to her knees and began to sob. “She was a monster!”
Ken kneeled down beside her and held her. “I don’t forgive mom for what she did either. It was stupid of her to choose that man over us.”
“Scarlett keeps defending her.” Bailey wiped her eyes. “I’m tired of people talking about her like she’s a saint. If Ethan didn’t step in, what else would Jordan have done? Oh my…” She began to cry even harder.
Ken rubbed her back soothingly. “Listen to me Bailey. Forget about what Scarlett says. She’s holding on to the image of mom that we used to know. I won’t let her come back again. She left and I won’t let her hurt us again.” He squeezed Bailey’s shoulders. “I love you, so stop doing this to yourself. You don’t need some fake friends to accept you. You have us, and that’s all you need. We won’t abandon you when you need us. risten will.”
“Do you promise?” She looked up at him and Ken nodded.
“Of course I do. If anyone hurts my baby sister I’m kicking their ass.” They both laughed.
“Thank you.” She stood up. “I think I should probably go to bed now.”
“I’m keeping watch, so really go to bed,” Ken said.
Bailey nodded. “I look a mess there’s no way I could even go now anyway.”
“Thanks for these clothes,” Night said. “They’re much comfier than the other ones Scarlett gave me.”
“No problem. They’re supposed to be comfortable. They’re pajamas.”
“Ken?” Night asked innocently. “How do I use this bed?”
“It isn’t a bed,” Ken chuckled. “It’s a sleeping bag. You unzip the side, crawl in and then zip it up again.”
“Is it like this?” Night asked. He crawled into the sleeping bag. “This is so warm! Scarlett taught me what that means today.”
“Really? How exciting.” Ken yawned. “Goodnight, I’m exhausted. If you hear Bailey sneaking out let me know. She wanted to go to a party earlier and there’s no way that I’m allowing that.”
“Roger that Captain!” Night said enthusiastically.
“Who did you learn that from?”
“Pandora. Why, is that wrong?” Night asked.
Ken laughed again. “No it isn’t. Goodnight, Night.”
“Night Ken! I can’t wait to try out this sleeping thing.”
“So…you and Night,” Ambrose smirked.
“Eww, shut up Uncle Ambrose. That’s just gross,” Scarlett whined.
“Come on, don’t deny it. You like him.”
She blushed. “Nooo…I don’t! What about you, huh? What about your girlfriend?”
“Soon to be wife actually, how would you like an aunt?” Ambrose asked.
“I would love one, I’ve never had one. Well I mean, there’s dad’s aunts, but that doesn’t make them my aunts and then Tasha, but she gets along better with Bailey.”
“I hope you guys like her, she’s very special to me,” Ambrose smiled. “I like her a lot. But, you’re not old enough for boys yet so stay away from them.”
“Oh trust me, I have no interest, but even if I did, both of my dads would kick the guys ass, and then Ken would jump in and I’m sure you’d take your turn too.”
“Damn right,” He agreed. “I practically raised you guys. I’m not letting anyone try to come in and destroy the balance. I love you twerps.”
“Twerps? Pssh, yeah right. Whatever. Wait until you have your own twerps to deal with.”
Time passed pretty quickly in the Gray household. In no time the teens were seniors in high school. They had grown up so fast. Night had kept his promise and was very respectful towards Scarlett. Apollo was starting to believe that not all Imaginary Friends were terrible influences. It may have something to do with how they were raised and how strong the person they’re dealing with is. Scarlett seemed to have him under control. He did whatever she told him to.
“Family day at the bakery…why?” Bailey groaned. “This is so boring. There’s things I should be doing like buying my prom dress.”
“Oh yeah, those kids at school talk about it all the time. What is prom?” Night asked.
“Some superficial dance where the popular kids get all their friends to vote for them to be Prom King and Queen,” Scarlett said in between bites of cake.
“No, it isn’t anything like that. That’s just in movies. You go with your friends, or a date and you have fun and eat a lot of food and dance the night away,” Bailey said. “Seriously. It’s super fun!”
“It sounds like it!” He said excitedly. “Who are you guys going with?”
“By myself,” Ken said. “There isn’t anyone I really like at school.”
“You’re such a hard ass when it comes to friends that’s why,” Bailey argued. “Nobody is ever good enough for you.”
“Having high standards is good,” Scarlett commented. “Isn’t that why you aren’t going with a date?”
Bailey blushed. She hadn’t been asked by anyone, that’s why she was going alone. “It’s two different things. Anyway, what about you?”
“Oh.” She pushed a stray piece of hair from her face. “I wasn’t planning on going.”
“Are you serious? Prom only happens once,” Bailey said.
“Yeah but it seems like too much for me. I’m happy at home watching television with dad and Ethan.”
“I’ll stay home with you,” Night said.
“Nope. You just said it sounded like fun. You can go without me. It’ll be fun,” Scarlett said reassuringly.
“I don’t really want to go without you,” He confessed.
“Ken…earth to Ken!” Bailey waved her hand in front of his face. “What are you looking at?”
Everyone turned their eyes towards Pandora who was adamantly talking to a boy. “That’s Kristen’s brother.”
“Also Pandora’s best friend,” Scarlett pointed out.
“And then I told her that aliens don’t belong on earth, they should go back to mars!” Pandora delivered the punchline and they both began to laugh hysterically.
“You’re hilarious. I still can’t believe that I ran into you here.” Alen grinned.
“You know, it’s a family outing. I enjoy my time with them.” Pandora smiled. “Even if they do get on my nerves sometimes.”
“It must be great having a huge family. It’s just me, my mom and my sister,” Alen commented.
“Right, Kristen,” Pandora said unenthusiastically.
“I know she’s a snob, but she’s only like that at school. She isn’t a total bitch all the the time. Give her a chance,” Alen said. “This isn’t some teen movie. She’s not a flat character. She has some good to her.”
“Hey, I’m not here to judge. As long as she doesn’t target my family with her drama, I’m fine.”
“She won’t. She promised that she wouldn’t. Oh! I just remembered. She’s renting out a limo for prom. My mom is forcing her to take me with her. Guess who gets to keep an eye on a bunch of alcoholic teenagers? I was wondering if you’d like to come with me? It’d be much more bearable with you around.”
“Did you just ask me to prom?” Pandora asked bluntly. “Or are you trying to get me to help you babysit your sister and her friends?”
“A little bit of both. I’d love to be your date for prom. Ahh, I just said that out loud!” He covered his mouth. “Ignore that. Don’t terminate our friendship.”
Pandora laughed. “You just admitted that you like me! Would it be weird if I said that I like you back?”
“Well…not if we both like eachother, right?” Alen scratched his neck nervously. “So…prom?”
She nodded excitedly. “As long as you take me on a date before then too. Oh, and I’m probably going in a limo with my siblings. There’s enough of us to rent our own, how ironic.”
“See? Another reason why big families are great.”
Night politely asked Scarlett if she’d sit outside with him. He needed some air. “I see you’re getting used to your feelings, huh?”
“Yep, it’s only been three years since I’ve been a human, and your dad is letting me hang out with you unsupervised. It’s exciting.”
“Are you being sarcastic?” She asked him. They were still extremely close.
“No, I really am happy,” He said. “You make me happy.”
She blushed as she looked away. “I didn’t have to come and get air with you, you know. You’re almost 18 in human years. That’s a young adult.”
“I know, but I don’t like to be alone. I hate that emotion the worst of all.”
“Me too,” She sighed, still looking away. “But I feel it all the time.”
“I know, and I don’t like it,” He told her. “You have a wonderful family. You should be happy.”
“I know, but…you know what, forget it.” She stopped herself from saying anything else.
“This is about your mom again…right?” Night asked.
Scarlett looked down. “Mhmm, I hate that she isn’t here, I hate that my siblings gloss over her like she’s some torn page in a history book. I miss her…I…I don’t know. Because of her I feel so many things, but most of all, I’m empty.”
Night sighed loudly. “I wish I could fill that hole for you, but I can’t can I?”
“I don’t know,” She mumbled.
“Would you consider going to prom?” He looked over at the blushing girl. “Just go and have some fun. You really need a night out.”
“I don’t like nights out,” She said simply. “It’s too hectic with all those people around. I rather just be home.”
“Ok, fine. I won’t push it then,” Night said simply. “But at least smile once and awhile….a real one, okay? I miss those the most.”