2007-09-20: Home for Hope


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Summary: Niki arrives home from her trip to Nevada. The house, for once, is filled with good news. …Okay, and some grave danger and talk of running away to Mexico, but it ends in girly screaming and cookies.

Date It Happened: September 20th, 2007

Home for Hope

Sanders-Dawson Residence

Queens, New York City

Having worked the night before, Monica has the day off today. With nothing back from the Cain Foundation and no inclination to go loitering around NYU, Monica indulges in a rare bout of laziness, wearing her jammies, snacking on microwave popcorn and watching old movies and tv shows airing on basic cable. Who knew 'The Shadow' was such a funny movie? Without meaning to be? Every now and then she eyes the phone. She considers calling Elena, or Ian or Miki. Nana would be so pleased to know she's got friends.

The dark-coloured car that pulls into this particular driveway somewhere in the borough of Queens on this seemingly lazy day belongs to Niki. Finally, she's home — the concept of "home" has been skewed, these past several days, when her family is strewn about the country (…not literally, though; moving on…), Micah here and D.L. back in Nevada. This house is the closest she's got. It's been solid, constant. Presently, Niki comes up the front steps to the door, a heavy-looking burgundy travel bag hitched over her shoulder along with her purse. She's later than she wanted to be getting home, but plane delays being what they are… it's only now that she fishes out her keys. Niki looks travelled in only the way a long trip can make you, her casual clothes and hair less-than-pristine, but there's a palpable air of relief as she steps inside.

Monica sits up as she hears the door open. Micah's in school, unless he came home early for some reason, but then they'd call her to pick it up. Surely it's not Peter. Rising and setting the popcorn down she heads for the door. She should have watched some Bruce Lee movies, dammit. Then, "Niki?" Relief floods her expression and she moves to hug the blonde.

Niki is all brilliant smiles, glowing despite the obvious signs of tiredness. She manages to set her luggage down before squeezing the younger gal into a tight hug. "Hi," she says through a laugh. "The flight took longer than I thought. There were about a million delays before I could even take off from Vegas," she says in casual complaint, not really caring anymore now that she's here now. "Are you— okay? Sounds like you got quite a scare while I was gone."

Monica nods enthusiastically. "Yeah, I - a lot's gone on while you were gone. Someday you have to tell me how you met that Peter guy." She automatically reaches for one of Niki's bags. "You must be beat. Come on, let's get you settled. I'm being lazy today. Micah will be so happy you're home!" There's a pause. "And maybe you can tell me about D.L.?"

The mention of how Niki met Peter earns a twist of a smirk and a good-natured 'that is a WHOLE other story, believe me' roll of her eyes. "I've got it, it's okay," she tries to dismiss Monica politely, thinking nothing of it as she tries to lift the bag first. It comes easier, these days, picking up heavy things like they're made of feathers. "I'm pretty exhausted, but I'll tough it out with some coffee so I can stay awake long enough to surprise Micah at school. "D.L…." she shakes her head in disbelief, still brightened by that smile. "I'll try! I just still can't believe it myself."

Monica nods. "I'll put the drip on." She goes to let Niki go put her suitcases away until they can reunite in the kitchen. Ironically, Niki's coffee is presented in a mug that declares 'World's Best Mom'. Holding it out, she all but begs, "Tell me about D.L."

Niki carries the luggage just far enough to drop it inside her room, rolling crackles out of a shoulder as she turns around. It may not have been heavy, but it's still awkward to tote around. She drops her purse off beside a living room chair with a jingle and thud on her way to the kitchen. "Well," she says as she takes the mug gratefully, locking her fingers around it. How to start? By sitting down. That's a good start. She slides in at the table. Despite the looming questions surrounding D.L.'s reappearance, her husband is alive! It gives her rare cause to smile. Niki's practically like a blushing bride as she tries to oblige Monica with the story. Cheeks pink, she looks down at her coffee. "I'm— still trying to put all the pieces together. You know D.L…" Getting a straight answer out of him when he thinks he's protecting his family is like pulling teeth. "I had— a kind of accident in Vegas. I lost control of the car. I thought I was dead. And," she gives a tiny shrug, "There he was."

Monica just shakes her head. "We have the strangest family." she says, and moves to sit down. "And D.L. can walk through walls and you're super strong and Micah can do things with computers. Right?" Well, that's rather blunt. "I didn't believe this Peter guy until he fell through the wall? Did I mention he fell through a wall? Because he fell through a wall, Niki."

Niki leans an elbow onto the table, pries a hand away from her World's Best Mom mug and presses against her forehead. "Peter…" Holy crap, he likes to talk. She can't help but laugh despite herself, shaking her head as her hand falls away. "…What D.L. can do— it's how he saved me when I crashed. I woulda been completely run through if he hadn't been there. And that's just one example." A softer, affectionate smile appears. "And Micah— Micah's just amazing."

Monica offers with a grin, "I love that kid. He'll be so happy to see you. And his dad." Monica's not weepy, but her expression is pretty telling - miracles like this don't happen every day. What she'd give to have her mom back the way Micah's getting his dad back.

Niki's eyes glimmer, her expression similar to Monica's. In awe of a miracle. However, there's a dark shadow just under the surface; her bright demeanour does a good job of hiding it, but it's there, in glimpses, like now. "Yeah," she says, glancing down and nodding as if to reassure herself. "D.L. might… be in some kinda trouble. I might be too. I don't have any illusions."

Monica lets her hands rest on the table. "What kind of trouble?" she asks. Uncannily, she has the same kind of 'well, let's deal with it' tone that Nana sometimes takes.

"Besides the fact that D.L. named for robbing that casino?" Niki asks — rhetorically, obviously, and with an unhealthy dose of cynicism. "I know we kinda kept things from you and— I'm sorry, Monica— " The blonde shakes her head, her smile gone. "You were around, you gotta know we were breaking the law."

Monica hesitates, then, "You kept the specifics from me - and I'm kind of grateful for that, but yeah." Her admission comes quiet. "Does this mean y'all are moving to Mexico or something? I mean, what are you going to do?"

"I have no idea," Niki admits honestly. Her otherwise smooth brow is marred by furrows of stress. "I mean, I'm starting to wonder if those men who showed up at the door were even police. There were these people following me in Vegas— " She sighs and looks away to the nearest window. It's shaping up to be a grey day here in NYC. "Whatever it is, I don't wanna get you involved."

Monica looks dubious. "I'll try and keep out of it, but this sort of thing tends to get bigger." she says frankly. "But I got a lot on my plate right now, so who knows? Maybe I'll miss all your trouble entirely."

The woman across from Monica transparently mulls something over in her head, troubled, but decides to switch tracks. She takes a sip of her coffee, savouring it for a second with a 'mmmh' before breaking into a smile. "A lot on your plate like… juggling," she says in an ever-so-slightly teasing manner, lifting a shaped brow and fixing Monica with a curious look. "…Peter's not so good at keeping secrets," she adds.

Monica makes a face, but she's not really surprised. "No, he isn't. I guess that whole weird thing extends all the way through the family." she says. "I'm just starting to - I don't know, play with it. Figure out what I can do. But that's not all." she can't help it, the news just bursts from her. "See, I applied for a grant to go to school here in New York. If I get it, I can go to NYU, take classes and still keep working, though I'd have to scale back my hours. But I can do it…if I get it."

Guess so. Niki gets up from the table, taking her cup with her as she wanders through the kitchen to one of the cupboards. "NYU? That's great, Mon! Good luck. Going back to school's a dream of yours, right?" She opens a high shelf to grab a box of cookies, which are meant for Micah's school lunches, but she bought them and has mom rights to everything.

Monica nods. "I just have to wait to hear from this Foundation…you must have heard of it, the Cain Foundation? Jaden Cain is all over the news. I met this gal who works for him and she suggested I apply. We met at this lecture only the speaker didn't show. It was still kind of fun. There are actual people listed on my cell now. Amazing." she adds wryly before chattering on, "So I've been to the Foundation interview, not sure how I did, but - here's hoping." Hey, it's not gangsters in Las Vegas, but Niki could probably use hearing about something a bit more life-normal.

"The Cain Foundation…" Niki squints lightly, trying to pin the familiarity midway through opening the box of cookies. "Oh… yeah. Yeah, I met Mr. Cain once. He, uh. There may've been a wedding proposal. He's kind of eccentric. …Don't worry, I said no," she says with a grin, verging on a wink. Life-normal. A good thing.

Monica grins. "Good, because polygamy's illegal in the state of New York. I may not get it, though. I'm just being hopeful."

Niki laughs, setting her cup down the counter and gesturing at Monica with a tip of the cookie box. Good point. Were D.L. here, he probably wouldn't be so amused at the jokes, but hey. "You know," she begins, drawing a miniature-sized chocolate chip cookie from the box. "I can help you," she offers next, but self-imposed evasiveness sets in immediately sets in afterward. "With … money. I have some tucked away, now. I can do that for you. It's… the least I can do, you've been so good to me and Micah."

Monica considers a few moments, "I could manage for myself," she says tenatively, "If I knew that Nana and Damon were taken care of. I mean, that's why I came, really. If you could help me out with that, it would make cutting back my hours a lot less worrisome, and I could dedicate more time to school. Maybe we could work something out?"

"I could do that, sure." Niki's warm smile makes a comeback. "You know I woulda helped your family out sooner if I could've, right? I love your Nana. She's been lovely, even after… everything surrounding the…" She falters. "…funeral. And, I'm sure D.L. would wanna help them out too now that we can."

Monica falters a bit at that. "Yeah." she says. "We're going to have to be careful when we tell her. She might have a heart attack or something if we let her know the wrong way. I kept from telling Micah, I figured it would be better."

"Thank you for that," Niki says softly. "It's-not something you can just say. I'm gonna be dying to tell him, just to see his face light up." Which implies she won't be breaking the news right away. She pops a cookie into her mouth and then starts to wander out of the kitchen. "I'll call Peter so he doesn't worry."

Monica nods. "Sounds good." She too rises, but to go to the foyer and pluck up the mail. "I made sure to keep all your…" She trails off. A few moments later, "OHMYGOD!!"

Niki almost drops both the phone she just picked up and the box of cookies, but keeps control her grace after a brief fumble. As such, she appears in the foyer in a hurry looking, alarmed and expectant, hugging both to her chest.

Monica has a thick, padded envelope in one hand, slit open at the top. In her other is a single page, pulled out from amongst the other items in the packet with NYU's crest at the top. She waves it vaguely at Niki and jumps up and down like she's four. "I got in! I got in! Full scholarship!!"

The young woman's excitement is contagious — that, and Niki's honestly happy for her. It's a good thing! This family needs good things. Breaking into a wide smile, energized by Monica's jumping around, she even gives a little shriek of enthusiasm as she rushes toward her to wrap her in-law into a hug. "Congratulations. You deserve it." She sets her hands down on Monica's shoulders after she pulls away. "We all deserve some good news."

Monica beams. "Thank you - listen, Niki - you don't mind if I - well, I've got to call everyone I ever met right now and I think my friends will wanna celebrate. Micah will be home soon, and you don't mind, do you?" If Niki minds a night home alone with her son, the world is flat.

"Go, celebrate," Niki commands Monica with a pleasant laugh. "And, um, here— " She shuffles around her awkward holding of things, rescuing the cookies from under one arm and offering the whole box to Monica. "…I'll get you a better gift later, I swear." With that, Niki steals away with the phone — for just a minute, before Monica can use it to call everyone she ever met.

No matter! Monica rushes off to her room to go use her cell. There will indeed be celebration.

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