2010-02-05: FB: Cancellation



Date Set: August 6th, 2009


Niki, acting a little strange, gives Micah and Cam some bad news.

Six Months Ago…


Niagara Falls, New York

An hour or so after something of a weird and mysterious phone call in which she would explain nothing — something she never does anymore, until today — Niki is nowhere to be seen. And no wonder, because she's supposed to be at work until five-thirty and it's only three, yet her car is in the driveway, a sure sign that she's home early for some unexplained reason. D.L., for his part, seems to still be at work himself.

Cam, as they come back towards the house, laughing at something or another that they've been talking about, slows as he spots the car in the driveway. "Wonder what she's doing home this early?" He's only slow for a moment, though, stepping quickly towards the house again.

Eyebrows are furrowed, but Micah shrugs and smiles, "Maybe she's off early?" He glances down at the grocery bag in hand as he steps up to the front door, key in hand. He puts the key into the lock and turns it quickly before opening the door. He steps inside and calls rather loudly, "Mom??"

With a shrug he strolls into the kitchen and places the grocery bag containing peanut butter onto the counter. Like most thirteen year old boys, he neglects to put it in the cupboard; he did his task, he got the peanut butter. "She's gotta be around here somewhere…" he murmurs, still grinning.

The faint creak of stairs gives Niki away. The door to the basement eases open into the kitchen and she steps out, running a hand through her hair, ruffling the ends. It's all pale versus dark blonde, bleached by the summer sun. Her work blouse is folded over one arm, leaving her in a pair of especially fitted grey dress pants and a much more casual wine-coloured V-neck tee.

She's obviously distracted, in a thoughtful and unsettled, unpleasant place in her head, a look the boys are probably quite familiar with by now. These days, though, it's a rare creature. When she sees Micah and Cam, it almost melted away by a huge smile and she practically rushes them. Niki is usually affectionate but— this hug, wrapping each of them in an arm, is a little overzealous! "Mmmh. I missed you." In the roughly five hours she was at work.

Cam, too, makes no move to put the peanut butter away, instead saying, "Maybe she's upstairs?" Of course, then Niki comes from the basement and he grins, "Wrong direction." He blinks in surprise, though, as she rushes them, but hugs back. Still, his first thought at such a big reaction to their arrival is to ask, "Everything ok?"

The hug is returned, but Micah is slightly speechless like his foster brother."Uh… hi mom… we just went and got peanut butter like you asked…" He glances around the kitchen, but nothing seems amiss so instead he asks, "We just saw you…. like… earlier… this morning…" His eyebrows furrow further. "How's the packing?"

Niki ignores the grocery bag for the time being too, the peanut butter left to hang out on the counter for awhile. Its mention draws confusion for a second as if she forgot she even sent them for it— oh, yeah. That. She gives them one more squeeze, hanging on tightly like she hadn't seen them for days before sliding back. "Everything's fine." Evasive as that answer has a tendency to be, there's nothing but warmth and sincerity in the smile that's directed down at the boys. "What, I can't miss you since this morning? I miss both of you every second I'm not here!" She grins, bright. "The packing… is…" With a sigh, Niki reluctantly stops smiling, moving to the kitchen's island where she lays her folded blouse. "I do have some bad news."

Cam smiles a little in relief at first at the answers, though there's still some confusion evident. But then at the mention of bad news, the smile vanishes again and he seemsd to brace himself, asking, "What is it?"

Tilting his head, Micah takes a step back from his mom before sideglancing Cam. He swallows as he stares at his mom's unusual response. Once again, he shoots Cam a look. "Bad news? Mom, what's going on?" His eyes narrow skeptically before he tilts his head slightly. "We need to finish packing so we can get going in a few days…"

It's never easy delivering bad news, and Niki's had to do it far more than once in her particular career as a mom. "Well, that's the thing," she says carefully as she slides onto one of the stools lining the island counter. "We're not going anymore." Knowing the boys well enough to expect an immediate barrage of questions, she hurries to add, "Something came up. Maybe we can go next year."

A far worse bit of news than Cam expected. "What?" He blinks, and asks quickly, "What came up? Why can't it wait until next weekend?" Nevermind that until talk of this trip started, he'd never shown any interest in going somewhere hot like Vegas, he acts now like this is the worst possible news that Niki could have given.

"Wha-t?! M-om! You promised! You both promised! What came up?! Something important?! But the — " Micah begins as he sideglaces Cam only to remember their cover, " — science fair! WE were supposed to see all of the awesome experiments and stuff…" Strange how Micah knows shockingly little about this apparent science fair.

"I know… " Niki is quiet in comparison to Micah and Cam. She looks painfully apologetic, for what it's worth. "I was looking forward to it too, but it's just not a good idea right now." She winces a touch as she tries to explain gingerly. "It's just— it's money. It costs more than we thought and… look, some things fell through— some other stuff came up, it's just not a good time like we thought it was." Flimsy excuses to give these smart boys, she knows. She's lying to them like she promised she wouldn't, and htes herself a little for it, but it's for the best. Really this time! Right? "I'm sorry, guys. Next time."

Cam looks to Micah and then back to Niki at these excuses. "Come on, money? That isn't a problem. We can save money on the flight by Micah getting us tickets, and any extra money we need I can get. Easy!"

"But… but … mom! We can do it cheaper! And you can have the C3PO money we've been earning through mowing lawns! I swear! You can have it all… we really need to go!" Micah nods at Cam emphatically, "Cam's right! I could find good deals…" Or just adjust the price as needed, but he won't suggest that, not to his mother who insists they try to be semi-normal.

"No," Niki tells Cam frankly, brows lifted high as she shakes her head with a wave of blonde. The same look and shaking head is turned on Micah. Her voice has moved from apologetic to firm. "No, I'm sorry, we just can't right now. You're going to have to be patient." Her hand is raked through her hair again and, for a moment, she seems … distraught, more than by a cancelled vacation. She looks away, blinking a few times in the direction of the sunny kitchen window above the sink. "It'll be okay," she says softly, calmly, if … disjointedly.

Full of disappointment, Cam starts and stops a few arguments, never quite able to find the words to try to convince Niki. In the end he just kicks the wood of the kitchen island counter (not strong enough to damage anything, though he leaves a trace of ice behind), and turns to run off upstairs.

"What will be okay? We planned this! All of us planned this! Remember, we were going to show Cam where we used to live and stuff? What about that? And what about how hard we worked all summer? Mom… it's not fair." Now that's a card Micah rarely plays. Ever. Life isn't fair; this is something the teen knows, and he's well aware of the hole in this argument, but there's nothing else to say, instead he follows Cam's lead and turns to run upstairs.

Niki's whole expression tightens at Cam's outburst, but as he runs off, he can't see the all too sad look that follows him. "Cam…" One hand on the counter, she hops off the stool and stands up as if to stop the next teenager from running off, but no such luck, it seems. "It's— Micah— " She flops back down. She doesn't stay still long. She considers following them, but they need time to calm down. Niki, like the boys before her, takes off — downstairs instead of upstairs.

The basement — finally tidied, months and months and many months since moving in — floods with dim light as Niki flicks a switch. Her laptop is sitting on a folded afghan on the couch beside a box with various wires, USB cords and other computer junk along with something red and sparkly. She flops down beside it with a sigh and looks at the computer screen for a long, long moment before shutting it hard. "It's worth it," she tells herself. She's alone and there's no one to argue.


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