2007-05-19: Beginning of the End


Niki_icon.gif Micah_icon.gif Jessica_icon.gif

Summary: Micah reunites with his mom after Monica brings him to a meeting place; Niki tells him that D.L. won't be coming, and he has something to say to Jessica. (ANGST WARNING.)

Date It Happened: May 19th, 2007

Beginning of the End

Mustang Joe's Diner, somewhere outside of Las Vegas, Nevada

My lullaby, hung out to dry
What's up with that
Its' over
Where are you, dad?
Mom's lookin' sad
What's up with that
It's dark in here

The sun is breaking over the desert somewhere between Las Vegas and the middle of absolutely nowhere. It's been a long day. Days, in point of fact, but hours bleed together and feel impossibly long. It seems like Niki has been driving forever. Every part of her aches. At the same time, part of her is still back in Vegas. Reliving the moments before the explosion.

A dark vehicle turns off of the highway into the parking lot of Mustang Joe's Diner - the parking lot seems to simply be a swathe of sand that looks exactly the same as the surrounding desert, sectioned off by cement blocks and called a parking lot. The diner itself is covered in a fine layer of dust and doesn't look like it's had a fresh paint job since the 1950s. Only one other car inhabits the 'parking lot', and Niki parks as far away from it as possible. Her car should be recognizable, nondescript as it is. It's hers. Hers and D.L.'s. When the woman gets out of the car, she's a mess. A pale blue sweater manages to cover the gash on her arm, but blood seeps through the jeans she changed into on her lower leg, and desert sand sticks to the fabric. She slams the door behind her. It doesn't quite close. She slams it again. Pale and drawn, Niki looks, in a word, exhausted.

Having been brought to the diner by Monica, Micah is staring out the window with an intent look on his face. Why are they here for, instead of the hotel? He liked the arcade there. He lets out a hard breath, poking his fork into the plate of spaghetti in front of him. As Niki rolls up in the car, his eyes widen, and a smile brims upon his face, that is, until he notices the state she's in. "… Momma?" Pushing himself out, he barrels down the aisle, shoving someone to the side as he throws open the door. "Mom!" He looks panic stricken. "Mom, what happened? Why are you bleeding for?" He asks, his voice trembling in a high pitched manner.

Why bleeding is breathing
You're hiding, underneath the smoke in the room
Try, bleeding is believing
I used to

She hears his voice before she sees him. "Micah!" Niki immediately takes off running to meet the boy, an odd mixture of relief, terror and anguish tearing her pale face apart. Overshadowing all the sundry emotions, though, is love. It's the clearest of them all, the truest. Her running is inelegant and slightly limping, and by the time she meets him by the diner, she collapses to one knee. Before she says another word, she wraps him in overwhelming hug, pulling him as closely and as tightly as she possibly can.

Squeaking at the hug, Micah hugs her back tightly, fingers locking behind her neck as he sighs out loudly. Leaning back, he stares at her, his eyes wet as his voice trembles out. "Mom, what is going on? Where's… where is dad at?" He swallows, looking over to the state of the car, then back to her. His face is pained as he watches her eyes, searching them. She can feel him trembling against her as his breath shudders.

Niki keeps holding on. Her hands clutch at the back of the eleven-year-old's shirt, as if she could draw him closer. He's okay. He's okay. She knew Monica was with him, but— there was still that fear, at the back of her mind. Okay, that is, until she tells him the news. As her chin rests heavily on his small shoulder, the woman's eyes clench tightly. She doesn't move back to meet his eyes she's sure there are no tears in hers. Even then, as she kneels there, holding onto Micah's arms, she's silent, save for her quickened, raggedy breaths. She looks to the window of the diner where Monica must be before she looks Micah in the eye searchingly, her expression softening - the way it softens before dealing a blow. "He's not coming."

".. Wh.. why not? Where is he?" Micah asks, his voice soft, and afraid as he draws back a bit, looking her with quick up, and down eyes. "Mom.. what happened? Where is my dad at?" His voice is faltering, strength leaving as his eyes turn softer, and moist at the corners. With a hard swallow in his throat, he wheezes. "You got in trouble? You.. you said we were just coming here to get our stuff. You said…" His bottom lip trembles, his face scrunching up.

Niki seemed to say a lot of things, but the words weren't hers. "Micah…" she says gently - but her voice cracks, gives it away. She slowly gets to her feet, hiding a wince with a tight clench of her jaw. An arm around Micah, she stands close to him, trying to lead him to the dusty cement steps that lead up to an employee door of the diner. "Listen, baby, I…" she says quietly, gripping his shoulder with a warm hand and lowering herself to sit on the steps. "There was… an accident." No good can come of a prologue like that. "Your dad, he…"

Gritting his teeth, Micah's tear falls down along his cocoa colored cheek, dribbling just past his lips. Pushing away from her, his eyes stare at her angrily, sad, confused. ".. N..No…" He whimpers out, clutching at his shirt for a moment with shaky hands. ".. Tell.. tell her to talk to me." He says, his voice evening out, angered. "I want to talk to Jessica, /now/." The young boy, still a kid, holds himself with all the poise of a man now as he asks for his own worst nightmare. To talk to the destroyer of dreams trapped in the broken mirror of his mother.

My mouth is dry
Forgot how to cry
What's up with that
You're hurting me
I'm running fast
Can't hide the past
What's up with that
You're pushing me

Niki instinctively reaches out for Micah when he breaks away, and seconds later, she's pushing off of the steps despite the pain in her leg. His demand has her staring at him in shock, gaping. No. Her breath catches in her throat. "No. No, I won't let you do that. I won't let /her/ do that." She crouches again in front of him, just beneath his level; she swipes a strand of limp blonde hair behind her ear so she can look up, imploring. "Micah, she's gone. Okay? It's just me for now, baby." Niki tries to brush away the boy's tear with some gentle knuckles. "Just you and me."

"Liar!" Micah howls out, shoving Niki back, the tears tumbling out of his eyes. "You said she was gone before, and all you've done is lie to me! I am not stupid, mom. I knew it was her when that lady came to the house. I can always tell for the most part. You and dad have been lying to me, going places, coming back hurt. Now this! Now -this!-" His voice is so high pitched, panicking, on the verge of hyper ventilating. "You tell that coward to talk to me. If she got my dad killed then I want to hear it from /her/."

Every single word from Micah, now, cuts deeper than her gunshots. She blinks hastily, fighting the moisture in her eyes. "I have been /honest/ with you, Micah. I can't tell the future!" Niki doesn't want to shout. She really doesn't. Not at Micah, not /now/. Her voice quiets, but keeps its serious and desperate edge. "He was trying to save me. He was trying to make a better life for us." Niki looks off to the side into the dismal landscape, pulling herself together. A mere second or two later, when she looks back… she's mysteriously composed. "Micah."

WHAM! Micah catches 'Jessica' with a right hook across the jaw, his small hand bundled up into a fist. He can feel the swell rise up on his knuckles as he glares at her openly, his teeth gritted. "Why? What did you do this for? Why did you get my dad killed? We were happy! We were normal!" He blubbers out, giving his hand a shake as it ebbs in pain. "What's next, huh? You gonna get mom locked up, and then I'll have no one left?" Wiping at his face, he says, "That's twice now I lost him, all cuz' of /you/."

"/Uhhn!/" Even Jessica couldn't have predicted that. She's caught off guard enough, and Micah is fierce enough, that her head cracks to the left, blonde hair flying. She nearly loses her balance, but instead shoves herself to her feet. Rage flares in her icy eyes, but it's just that: a flare, there and gone. "One: we'll /never/ be normal." She says it with a smirk and a scoff of a laugh as she places a hand on her jaw, but that too is short-lived. "/That's/ just a fact of life. Two: /I/ got your mom /out/ of jail. She's the one who went and turned herself in and took us away from you." The way she looks at Micah… it's not very unlike the way Niki looks at him. The woman's gaze may be harder, colder, but that all too similar parallel is there: love, like it or not, mister. "And three… what happened to D.L., that wasn't part of my plan." (This time.) It sounds suspiciously close to an apology.

"There shouldn't have been a plan!" Micah says, tears streaking down his face. "You should have left us alone! Mom had a job, and she was /trying/ to do things right. You should have tried to help us, instead. Now -you- got dad killed. Now mom is gonna be miserable, and I.. I will never see him again." He swallows, his voice squeaking out. "I'll never see my..my… my daddy…" The rage has been quelled, leaving only a pitiful, broken boy as he shoves his fists against his eyes, starting to bawl as he slumps down to his knees in the dirt, hunching over.

Micah is right. He's completely right. "You have to understand, I was doing what was /best/ for you," the boy's not-quite-mother says, her voice thick, full of edge. "You don't know how rough she has it. But it /went wrong/." Or did it? There's an awful lot of money sitting in the trunk of that car over there. Nonetheless, Jessica actually /sounds/ genuine. She leans her head down, trying to look up at Micah. As he breaks down. She lashes out to grab his arm. It's forceful, but it's not meant to be violent - just to get his attention, fast. "Take care of Niki, Micah." That's an order.

"You were not doing what was best for me!" Micah wails out as he pounds at her chest once she grabs his arm. "You weren't! I don't want to see you again! I /hate/ you. I -HATE- YOU." Trying to yank his arm away, he tumbles backwards onto the ground, his rump hitting the dusty bottom. He looks as if he is about to have a complete break down as he trembles, his small frame shaking as his breathing comes out faster, and faster. By now, his nose is running, and the diner's lights have gone out with what appears to be the lights popping in a loud sizzle. A car alarm starts to sound off annoyingly loud, and somewhere in the parking lot, a kid starts to gripe about his gameboy suddenly dying.

Micah isn't alone on the ground for long. The blonde makes her way over to him only to collapse at his side in the dirt, covered in blood and dust as it is. Her anguish is completely transparent by now, which should make it pretty obvious that it's Niki. As the car alarms wail and the lights sizzle, she leans into him, holding him, her head coming down to rest on his - only there's nothing restful about this pose. She's trying to comfort and soothe, but they're just sharing their pain. She can be strong later.

Curling his arms around her, Micah's shaky body clings to her as he continues to sob in a breathless manner, trying to focus the dull ache of pain away from the back of his skull. ".. Mommy." He murmurs weakly to her as he buries his face into her neck, holding in for dear life as the pair of them silently say good-bye to the man in their life, who has been more gone than not these days.

Why, bleeding is breathing
You're hiding , underneath the smoke in the room
Try, bleeding is believing
I used to
I used to

Why, bleeding is breathing
You're hiding , underneath the smoke in the room
Try , bleeding is breathing
I saw you crawling on the floor

Why, bleeding is breathing
You're hiding , underneath the smoke in the room
Try, bleeding is breathing
I saw you crawling to the door

Why, bleeding is breathing
You're hiding , underneath the smoke in the room
Try, bleeding is breathing
I saw you falling on the floor

Natalie Imbruglia - "Smoke"

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