2010-01-18: FB: Can I Be A Ninja?



Date Set: January 18, 2009


Micah and Niki have a serious chat.

One Year Ago…

"Can I Be a Ninja?"

Micah's Room — Niagara Falls

A figure dressed entirely in black (a black bella clava, black gloves, black pants, and a long sleeved black shirt) climbs inside through Micah's bedroom window. Finally after peering about it removes its bella clava to reveal Micah Sanders himself. He tosses the face mask into the closet and takes off his thin black fabric gloves. He hadn't been doing anything important, just testing things out. A glance is given to the closet while Micah pads over to his laptop, "The material's too thick… If we don't want our faces exposed, we'll need to figure something else out… but I can't sew… maybe something from a costume shop…" he talks to the Incredible Hulk action figure that's perched on his desk behind his laptop.

"Micaaaah!" A familiar voice calls from down the hall. Good news: it's good-natured, not scolding. A quick little knock-knock-knock on the wall just beside the bedroom is all the extra warning that's given before the door itself to admit Micah's mom. She wasn't home even a few minutes ago, but it's clear that she just got off from her new job: she's wearing a white blouse that's a bit less fitted and crisper than she'd wear otherwise and tiny metal nametag that says NIKI. It must have been jeans day, though, because she's in denim instead of dress pants. "Hey, Micah— " An instant smile comes to life on seeing him for the first time since much earlier in the day. " --have you seen-- " Niki suddenly pauses to quirk a weird expression at the teenager. "What're you doing? You look like you just ran a marathon."

And he does look like he just ran a marathon probably because in a way he did. Around the neighbourhood, to test his equipment. "Mom! I … uh…" Micah glances at the hulk as if expecting an answer from his green friend. "… just ran around the house a few times for exercise — stretching my muscles and stuff in between … between… playing levels of Plants vs. Zombies. Too much time at the computer is bad for everyone. Even me." Ironically, his breath isn't ragged even with flushed cheeks. Yet he beams at Niki as he shuts his laptop just a little too quickly, "How was work?"

"…Uh huuuunh." Even geniuses shouldn't lie to their moms. Moms know. "When's there ever been such a thing as too MUCH computer for you?" Although she gives Micah a suspicious look with decidedly prying eyes, she seems more amused and curious more than anything. So far. "Work was alright. I'm just still getting used to working in a book store that sells more than the crazy things Cass sold." It's more challenging that it sounds, but then, working at Enlightenment Books — an era that seems ages ago — was completely out of her knowledge zone too. "Everyone's starting to think the weird new girl knows too much about books on Area 51. But it was fine," she laughs until something catches her eye. The window. The very much open window. "You're gonna catch a cold," she says as she winds this way and that while strolling to the window in question, sliding it down.

Micah shrugs a little at the comment about having too much computer time. What is there to say? "I… just felt like I was getting a sore neck or something," he tries to shrug nonchalantly and gives his mom the brightest most innocent smile he can muster. "I'm glad work's goodish. And I think it's awesome that you know so much about Area 51 books. I mean someday that knowledge is going to come in handy. And it makes you more mysterious to the people you work with." His cheeks flush brighter at the mention of the open window. Sloppy, rookie mistake! He frowns, but only for a second before trying to stay casual, "I. Uh… like the fresh air?" It's a question more than a statement as he swivels in his office chair to face his mom. Smile. "Uh… so you were looking for something…?" He raises his eyebrows.

"I don't need to be any more mysterious," Niki adds, half a mumble under her breath with a laugh that isn't really that amused Mysterious and crazy aren't really the images she wants to project at her new job, all things considered. She moves to fuss with the nearby thermostat for Micah's room while looking over her shoulder. Another watchful and ever-so-slightly leery look appears, but it's tempered by a smile. Still; she can tell something is going on, even though it doesn't add up enough for her to clue in. "Oh. Not something. Someone. Your dad, as a matter've fact. He was supposed to fix the sink." Their new home might be better in comparison than those they've lived at in the past, but that doesn't mean things don't break down. Slowly spinning around to face Micah and his swivelling chair, Niki heads over and leans her hip against the desk beside the boy, blue eyes gently but purposefully searching his face. "Is there something you're not telling me Micah?"

"But mystery is good when you're a hero, Mom. Like all superheroes in every comic I've ever read have at least a little mystery! It just goes with being who we are, I think." Micah hmms about his Dad. "Oh. Haven't seen Dad for awhile. I've been messing around up here mostly," he shrugs before he adds rather abruptly, "— other than during my run around the house. And I didn't see him then either." His gaze shifts to the window, then the closet, then the door. After taking a deep breath, he studies his mom, in turn before swallowing, "I think I need to learn martial arts."

Niki saves the dialogue on how she isn't a superhero and neither is he, although Micah is served an unconvinced look for his insistence on all things mysterious and heroic. Then, she lifts her brows and blinks at her son — confused, if only for a moment. Unexpected, but not exactly out of the realm of a thirteen year old boy's interests. "Martial arts? What, like kung fu?" It's a martial art, right? She's seen movies. Smiling a little, Micah's mom tries to figure out just why he's telling her this now. On the heels of him being all evasive and talking about superheroes, she's sharp enough to decide she doesn't like where this is going. "I'm not sure I follow, Micah…"

"Yes! Like Kung Fu! Or Karate or something! I could be good at it!" Micah nods excitedly. "Mom — it would be amazing! And every hero should know how!" He beams at his mom as he stands to his feet. "Except maybe you. You're like untouchable. I bet you could take down the Boogeyman if you had to." He grins broadly. And is now waving his arms in the air excitedly with every word, "And we could al be superheroes together — you, Dad, Cam, and I! Mom, we would be the most amazing team! Cam like freezes things!! AND Dad walks through things!! And you're so SUPER strong! And I talk to machines! It's awesome! Mom, I even know how to track people now, I think!" By now he's just beaming. Yes, this is Micah's master plan. They will be the real-life Incredibles in his own mind.

"Micah…" Niki can't help but smile at Micah's excitement and optimism and the faultless picture he paints, but the smile is faint. Soon her lips don't form a smile at all, but frown. "Just because we're special … and— can do things that other people can't— that doesn't mean we're supposed to be superheroes. The real world… it isn't a comic book." Except when it is. "Being a hero…" She trails off, her quiet voice almost breaking. She looks away for a second, off to one side — incidentally, her gaze lands on the Hulk figurine. She frowns a little, and when she looks back at Micah, her eyes are intent with emotion. "You know part of the reason we moved up here was to get away from all of that, Micah."

"But Mom aren't we special for a reason?! We've done so much good before!" Micah objects emphatically. He won't accept this. "It's… our abilities… they're part of who we are. They aren't just something we can do… they're ingrained inside us… mom." Now the teen's body language is mimicking his mother's, except his is sheer disappointment. "I don't understand. I…" Crestfallen, he also glances at the Hulk and then back to his mom, "We can't run from who we are. It's ingrained in us. We are special. And unlike you and Dad… I don't want to fight who I am. Who I'm meant to be." His features stiffen considerably. He knows he's on thin ice here.

Niki's expression tightens a little, lips pursing, but her expression turns … sad, not angry. Micah always has a way of cutting straight to the heart of things. "I know— that you mean well, and… I'm not saying you should ignore your ability. I'd never say that. But…" She moistens her lips, their gloss long since gone even though there was surely make-up this morning. That was a long time ago. She pushes gently away from the desk and sits on the edge of the bed instead, leaning overtop her knees to look more closely into Micah's eyes. She tries to talk seriously about this; he deserves that. "What— would you have us do?"

And the change in Niki's expression instills a sense of hope into her son. Micah stares at his mom thoughtfully, considering how to broach the subject of the police scanner. He presses his lips together and narrows his eyes thoughtfully — he's thinking of how to phrase his plans. Tact is half of the battle when chatting with parents. He swallows hard as his hearts thumps against his chest. Finally his lips crack into a grin again before he runs a hand through his curly hair (causing several fly aways to fly away more with the static). "Well. I think I can build a police scanner. The parts aren't hard to come by. I found an old radio in the junkyard that could easily be changed over to receive that particular signal." He looks at her hopefully, determined not to explain that he's already made the scanner. "AND… I don't want to be famous or anything. I just want to help people who are in trouble. They can't help themselves the way we could help… Mom… please…"

A police scanner?! You can almost see Niki's heart skipping a beat, imaging Micah running out to crime scenes. Her expression is conflicted: equal parts shock, worry, anger, heartbreak, and amazement over her young genius's cleverness. Mix, and you get a recipe for discontent. Lines of stress mar her features five ways from Sunday. Eventually, she tips her head to one side and sighs, managing to look thoughtfully away from Micah for a moment. She shakes her head with a tousle of blonde hair. Niki might not want her son to go ahead with his plans of being a hero, but— she can't deny that he has a little heart of gold. "Sometimes I wonder how you turned out so good," she says — and though it's mostly to herself, a tired smile is turned on Micah. Again, it doesn't last.

"What you're talking about… baby, it's real and dangerous and— I just dont want you to get hurt. Wait 'til you're older to decide if you wanna go 'n' be a hero… okay? You want to use the police scanner to catch bad guys— then— be a cop!" Niki suggests, that worried smile appearing. "You might not realize it now, but you deserve a chance at a normal life. To be a kid. We had to work really hard for this. Don't you like it here?"

The words are met with a frown. His lips part into a small oh — poised for objection, but much to Micah's dismay, no words come. How can someone object to such a plea? Instead he presses his lips together again. His mom has made up her mind it seems. Complete with worry and stress. His own eyebrows furrow together creating worry lines on his forehead. Again, he's crestfallen. This isn't a game to him, but he's always felt different, in one way or another. He's always been bright, a whiz kid of sorts. And that set him apart at an early age. His father was incarcerated. His mom was a stripper. All of these things made him different. And now? Now he's different in the most amazing way and he's not allowed to use it for what — he believes — it's intended.

Staring down at the floor rather than Niki, Micah just sits in silence for some time. He likes being a family again. For once. It'd taken so long to have that gift. But then… he misses his life in New York — just like he missed his life in Vegas once-upon-a-time. Emotions and reminisces weigh heavily on the teen's thoughts, but none of these culminate into what he finally says, which could very well be the vaguest answer he could give, "It's fine."

Feeling like the bad guy is part and parcel with being a parent, but that doesn't mean the look on Micah's face doesn't break Niki's heart a little. Unwittingly, her expression softly mimics his — crestfallen. The worst of it is, she understands and still has to say no. "I just— you could get in serious trouble and I don't wanna see you get hurt," she says, firm despite her heart-rendered, sad blue gaze. She stands up, hands on her thighs. "I can't," she admits through a single breath. "I know you wanna help people. To— look out for them. And that makes you an amazing thirteen-year-old, it does," she manages a little laugh before becoming serious again. "It does. But I have to look out for you." She steps in to lay a hand on Micah's face and smiles down at him, fond beyond words. "It's kinda my job."

Niki's speech is given a shrug, and Micah doesn't glance up to meet his Mom's gaze, even with the hand on his face. "I'm fine, Mom. I'll be fine." Swallowing, he shifts in the chair and turns to glance at the Hulk. Like the Hulk, he's a hero; he knows he is. And like all heroes he has obstacles to conquer. He just never thought one of them would be his Mom telling him no. Quietly he shifts in his seat again, his feet have, once again, become the most interesting thing in the room.

He sighs heavily. "But it's not enough to want to help people. It's not enough to sit around and think good thoughts about people. That's useless. It doesn't help anyone. I don't want to be someone who sits on my hands for the rest of my life. I want to be someone who… who stands up to people who hurt others. I want to help. That's who I am."

"I know it is…" Niki says softly, touching Micah's curls for an instant before drawing her hand back. It's hard to be proud and delay a kid's dreams at the same time while trying to make him understand. "I wouldn't have it any other way, you have to believe me. Look… one day— you'll do all of those things! You're already incredible, Micah. You have the rest of your life to be even more incredible. Right now… can't you just settle for not worrying your mom to death?"

"I guess. I don't want you to worry," Micah agrees. He won't worry his mom; he won't tell her anything about what he's planning. Instead he forces a tight lipped smile. "Don't worry Mom." He leaves it at that. He doesn't want to lie, so instead he conceals the truth. And then as a way to avert any further questions about the matter, he goes back to her other question about whether he likes it here, "I miss home." He shrugs. There's not a lot to say beyond that. "I like having everyone around — like you and Dad being home and us being together, but… I miss Monica. And Molly," his cheeks flush a pale pink, "And my school." He forces another tight-lipped smile.

Where's home? That's the question. They've been uprooted so may times. Niki smiles — less tightly than Micah, but with a tinge of sadness all the same, understanding. "Yeah," she agrees. "But your new school is good!" Brows lift into her forehead as she smiles, as if to wile an agreement out of Micah — one she hopes is sincere. "The curriculum is even better… and… you won't have to change schools anymore." How many times has it been now? Three? Four? Too many, in the course of a few years, a fact she finds herself suppressing a slightly guilty frown over. "Speaking of school, did you finish your homework before deciding you wanted to become a ninja?" The answer is usually yes, Micah being Micah, but she has to check. If plans of being a superhero interfere with school then she has even more of a problem.

"Of course I did. Calculus is easy, and they don't make us write short stories anymore so I'm not procrastinating those any longer," Micah actually feels a real smile creeping over his lips. "But the other kids think I'm weird. I can tell. I mean, except Cam." And he is kind of weird. In a way. Not a creepy way, but he's smart. "And I still want to be a ninja." He'll try to teach himself using YouTube if she says no. "I think I'd be good at it. Not good like Monica. But good." He grins.

Weird, huh. Nothing new, but Micah's particular troubles at school never cease to be a worry. "Well. We'll see about that," Niki says with a lighter and brighter smile. She steps away as if to leave the room, but appears a second later behind Micah's office chair to wraps her arms around him from above. A makeshift hug, but just as warm as any other. "You're not weird. You'll tell me if they give you any trouble, like before, right?"

"Mom. I'm thirteen now. I can take care of myself," Micah objects — the tone is rebellious in nature. Yes, he's growing up. And he thinks he can handle himself. Although he accepts the hug as he raises an arm and squeezes hers, relaxing somewhat against his mother's touch. And he certainly feels weird. But then, if only to make his mom feel better, he nods.

"Okay. … mm. I'm gonna go make supper for you boys." All three, one disproportionately larger than the other — D.L., once he reappears. He always does. Niki twiiiirls the chair back to face the desk, but doesn't actually go anywhere just yet. The growing boy will just have to put up with his mom's anxious doting a moment longer. She rests her chin on top of Micah's head, his curls; it seems like not long ago, he would have been too short for her to do so. It's mind-blowing. "You know you're already my hero, right?" she asks, sincere; she sure is asking for a lot of reassurances lately. Barely giving him room to respond, though, Niki plants a quick kiss on Micah's curls and heads out, diseappearing.

From the hallway, she calls back as an addendum, after seeing the shape of the bedroom : "You'll be even more my hero if you do your laundry!"

The touch is met with a smile from the teen, and the comment about doing laundry is met with a smirk. "I'll do it after supper." He grins and opens his laptop before turning back to the Hulk, "I bet you never had to deal with an overprotective Mom. Well, I better get back to finding a solution to the bella clava problem. I know there's always pantyhose… I wonder if Cam would go for that…" And on these thoughts he's left reflecting quietly, leaning back in his chair, not remotely deterred in his quest to become… a hero.

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