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Louis scraped the food around on his plate. He thought maybe if he spread it out, it would look like he'd eaten more. He didn't want Silas to suspect he was nervous. He had no appetite at all. He ate a few bites so his mom wouldn't worry... then wondered why she would worry about him when she was in on Silas's scheme. 

Nico hadn't spoken to Louis since they'd fought at school. Neither of them had said anything about it, to Louis's relief. He didn't want to know what would happen if Nico decided to blab about what he'd told him, revealing that he knew about Silas's plans. Well... somewhat. He still wasn't sure what exactly the plan was. But he didn't like it. He couldn't help but notice how his mother avoided looking at him or Nico all evening, like she was guilty. 

The meal seemed to drag on forever, with little conversation. The only person who seemed eager to talk was Silas. Finally, they were allowed to leave the table. Louis determined that he would try to talk to Nico again, though he really didn't believe he could convince him that what he said about Silas was true. 

Sophia quietly told the boys to clean the table, then disappeared into her room. Silas said he was going outside for a smoke and left. The moment he was gone, Louis went to his mother's room and knocked quietly on the door, then entered without waiting for an answer. 

"Mom?" He said quietly, his voice cracking slightly. His heart raced and he suddenly felt... afraid. Afraid of his own mother? He didn't want to be. But he couldn't see any other appropriate response. 

"What do you want, Louis," his mother snapped, "Why aren't you helping your brother?" 

Louis was taken aback by her harsh tone and suddenly didn't know what to say. His eyes brimmed with tears but he quickly swallowed them down. "Uh..." He thought fast, "I– I just wanted to know if you were excited for the trip tomorrow?" Why did I ask that?, he thought to himself, feeling stupid. 

Sophia didn't answer right away. She looked at her eldest son and he saw something in her eyes... guilt? Remorse? Pain? Definitely pain. But she suddenly had a smile on her face, masking it, if only a little. "Of course, Louis, aren't you?"

Louis forced himself to nod, but he couldn't smile. His heart ached more than it had ever ached before. "Yes," he said, almost too quiet to hear, then swallowed hard. 

Her smile was fake, and Louis could see straight through it. That look, that pained look, never left her eyes. 

"Did you need anything else?" Sophia said, turning away from him. 

"No." Louis shook his head as he turned to leave, but stopped suddenly. "Mom?" He looked back. Sophia's back was to him. "I..." He could hardly get the words out because all of a sudden his throat tightened, restricting his speech. He swallowed again. "I love you." He noticed her back stiffen slightly, but she said nothing. 

Louis went back to help Nico, his heart weighing like heavy lead in his chest. 

.o0o.

Louis was the first one up the next morning. He had decided against saying anything more to Nico. He held out hope that maybe his brother was right, maybe he really was only paranoid because of Anthony. But it was a dim hope.

Sophia hadn't packed very much for them, certainly not enough for two weeks, and that concerned him even more. Louis vowed that he wouldn't let Nico out of his sight for even a moment. 

Nico wouldn't talk to Louis. Occasionally he would cast a condescending glare his way, but otherwise he avoided him completely. 

There was no way Louis could avoid going. He didn't want to tell Silas he knew anything, afraid of what he might do. He only hoped that when whatever was going to happen happened, he would be able to defend himself and Nico. 

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