2007-08-23: Fuzzy

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif

Guest Starring:

Micah_icon.gif

With Special Guest Stars:

Smith and Jones

Summary: "What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there."

Date It Happened: August 23rd, 2007

Fuzzy


Sanders-Dawson Residence, Queens

School hasn't quite started yet for the youngest member of this household, and one of the adults doesn't exactly have a normal job that forces her to leave the house, but afternoon at the Sanders-Dawson residence is busy anyway. Monica is on her way out, Niki and Micah are on their way in; the house is small and it seems like a million things are happening at once as the latter pair make their way inside after what looks like grocery shopping. "Micah, go put the stuff we got you in your room, okay? I'm going to make lunch as soon as I put all this down." As if it's labouring her at all to carry all these bags, right? Still, there's a lot, and it's awkward as she makes her way to the kitchen to set them all down on the counter while Micah runs off somewhat reluctantly.

Sunlight filters in from a back window, catching dust. It's warm — too warm, which prompts Niki to wander over to the AC and eye it once her hands are free. She'll have to get that fixed… or get a new one. There are a few new things around the modest home that have been added recently: a bigger and better TV, computers, some nice furniture and little appliances. It's still quaint, but they seem to be doing well for themselves, considering. Curious.

A black, too non-descript to not be law enforcement vehicle pulls into the driveway of the house belonging to Monica Dawson.. or Niki Sanders… or it belongs to someone on file. The doors of the vehicle open up and a pair of textbook federal agents hop out of the car. They're dressed about as good as FBI agents can be dressed without looking like they don't belong. Those standard issue tan trenchcoats are a bit much, though.

Soon enough, though, they're up at the door and knocking with all the dry knuckle rapping that someone here to either break good or bad news would be. Which doesn't amount flair at all, but to someone with a criminal mind, they'd likely recognize the 'police knock' anywhere.

Niki gives a start when she hears the knock — from her spot in front of the back kitchen window and the faulty air conditioner, the sound carries easily through the living room. There aren't a lot of options for who it could be especially with a knock like that (she recognizes that official rap-rap-rap). Still, she stalls going to answer it, pressing her hand to her warm forehead and brushing aside a few strands of blonde, back toward her ponytail. With increasing wariness, she gives in, strolling through the too-hot residence to the door she came through just a minute ago. The first thing she does is look through the peephole. When she sees the two federal-looking agents, she steps back in surprise. Lingering in front of the door, she hesitates for a few moments, in limbo— then steels herself for whatever's coming and opens it.

A lot less formal than her guests, in her jeans and red tanktop, her hair imperfect from the heat and running around in the city, Niki smiles brightly. …in a 'why are you here I didn't do anything officers (?) I swear' kind of way, but brightly and lovely nonetheless. That's what's important. "Caaan I help you…?"

"Ms. Sanders?" Agent Smith inquires, though he already knows the deal. He doesn't even make a move to try and ask if they can come in. He just remains where he belongs on the steps with his colleague, Agent Jones. Smith reaches up to tug slightly on his tie before continuing. "I'm Agent Smith and this is Agent Jones." Both of them hold out their identification to make sure everything is legitimate.

"We're wondering if we could trouble you for a few minutes. Some… information… has brought a couple of interesting things to light and we'd like to share them with you."

"It concerns Daniel Lawerence Hawkins. Your husband."

"… my husband— " Her voice almost catching, Ms. Sanders outright stares at the men, her expression caught between the polite, friendly countenance she plastered on for them, and a guarded sort of confusion. She turns her head away just a touch, eyeing them a bit more suspiciously. "I thought that case was closed," she says with a distinct undertone of 'so why are you here bothering me?'. Regardless, she lets go of the door and makes room to let them in. As she does, she glances behind her, toward the hall where the bedrooms are— knowing Micah, he's at his door.

"Evidence, Ms. Sanders…" Smith explains as he follows Jones into the house. The door is closed behind them and neither agent steps farther in than what would be appropriate for an unwanted house guest. "… has forced our hand. We had to reopen the case."

Jones seems to be in the middle of taking stock of this home. Making a mental note of things that may or may not be out of place, considering the neighborhood and other stereotypical viewpoints. "Take a look at these." Jones utters, reaching into his trench to come out with a small envelope. It's immediately handed over to Niki. Who, well, may not be amused at what's inside.

Niki watches the FBI agents enter her home with an ardently knit brow while she closes the door. Her hand is still pressed against it as they talk to her; she's caught in limbo, listening. "Evidence," she repeats, not understanding (and not liking what she can imagine) even when Jones hands over the envelope. She pushes gently away from the door to take it, looking from the envelope to the men sceptically. As she works on opening it, she looks down the hall again. She calls down, "Stay in your room and close the door, sweetie, okay? I have to talk to the police for a minute." Never a good sign in this household. FBI, police, whatever. 'Police' sounds a bit less scary. At this point, she realizes that the envelope is open; she plucks out what looks to be a photograph.

And then she has to sit down.

Walking blindly into the nearby living room without taking her eyes off of what's in front of her, Niki lowers herself down on the edge of the couch on automatic, the picture poised completely still between thumb and forefinger. "… what is this? Where did you get these?"

"Security." offers Jones as he's the first one to enter the living room area. He's back to pricing the belongings of some of this stuff while Niki has a cow over the fact that she's looking at a photo that could change the rest of her life and then some. Or it might not change a thing, at all. It could keep everything the same, honestly.

"We were wondering if you could maybe tell us what you know about your husband's little trip to Vegas. Maybe help us shed some light on all these questions that don't seem to have any logical answers." Which is clearly code for 'snitch and we'll consider it a personal favor to the FBI'.

"Security when?" Maybe they're security stills from the day of the casino disaster; that would make sense, right? There'd be some reason the FBI would be showing her these—? Niki flips through the pictures slowly, flipping directions every now and then and going back to certain ones, eyes narrowed, distracted from the men in her living room, focused on… the man in the photographs. Eventually, she shakes her head dismissively and tosses them onto the coffee table. The grainy, zoomed-in black-and-white picture on top is that of a face who, if you really squint, looks like her dead husband. "I already told the police in Vegas everything I know," she lies impatiently.

"Ms. Sanders, please. We're not here to cause you any more grief. We're just trying to get to the bottom of this. What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there." There's even a slight glance to some of the more expensive equipment that's in the house that doesn't quite match it. "It's become bigger than a heist. There are more important things at stake, that we aren't at liberty to discuss."

"So what Smith is trying to say is…" And here's where Jones can't deal with this anymore. He's even leaning over to peer into Niki's face. "… where's your husband? If you're hiding him, this whole family's going down." Well. At least we know which one is the 'Bad Cop' now, right?

What? As the men continue to talk, the woman they're addressing becomes more and more astounded. As Jones starts to push the boundaries of personal space, her expression falters. She blinks, gapes. The question is obviously unexpected - that's a check in the good column for her, right? A moment later, as the accusation settles in, her face hardens. She stands her ground on the edge of the couch, staring him down. "My husband is dead." Niki leans around to snatch that top picture from the table and brandishes it toward the agents - like trash, something worthless she's going to throw away. "You can hardly even see a face. It's some mistake. You're wrong," she tells them flippantly, shaking her head. D.L. is dead. And these people being her in her house, hinting otherwise? Threatening her family for it? It's a slap in the face. Her voice lowers considerably and turns steely. "I think you better leave."

Smith rolls his eyes and pulls Jones away from Niki. He can't take this guy anywhere. Sighing, he makes it a point to put himself between the two, while reaching for the pictures. "Thank you for your time, Ms. Sanders." A business card is left on the table, as he turns to shove Jones back towards the door. "Please, if he contacts you… or you think of anything…" Smith's eyes could read: 'i'm letting you slide, but work with me' as they peer at Niki. "… please call us. Nobody else needs to be hurt."

When the pair make to leave, Niki stands up abruptly, hands on her thighs; but she does little else. She just stands, staring. Her distressed gaze catches on Smith's, and for a split second, her mouth moves as if she's about to say something. She says nothing, but shakes her head, tiny, subtle movements of disbelief, denial, and incredulity. Maybe she should have hope. Instead, she just wants these men to go away and leave her alone.

Jones shouts something about getting to the bottom of this, but Smith ushers him out before he can make things even worse. The door is shut behind them and they head back to their vehicle, where they climb into it and pull out of the driveway, cruising off down the street. Bullet? Dodged.

Back inside the house, Niki can't quite drum up the will to go to the door to re-lock it after her unexpected guests have left. She falls back down on the couch, sitting, elbows on her knees and her head collapsing into her hands. Give her a minute. She has to keep it together. As her pretty face contorts, her eyes forced shut, she takes a while to do just that. The unanticipated emotion that she's left with? Anger, without anywhere to direct it. She's in the process of taking a steadying breath when she hears the voice from the hall.

"Mom? What was that about?"

"Just some loose ends. Everything's fine," Niki replies, forced reassurance and cheer in her voice. She gets up off the couch, taking the business card from the coffee table with her and surreptitiously sliding it into her back pocket. "How 'bout you come help me with the groceries, okay?"

"Yeah, like you need help."

"Hey, watch it, mister. You want lunch, right?…"

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