2007-10-12: Like Air


Niki_icon.gif DL_icon.gif Micah_icon.gif

Summary: Back at home (after Spat), the so recently reunited family still isn't perfect.

Date It Happened: October 12th, 2007

Like Air

Sanders/Dawson/Hawkins Home

Queens, New York City]]

The house is darker than it ought to be, given all the lights that could be shedding warmth into the home, perfectly capable of being switched on. It's evening, making the rooms all the more prone to shadow, and Monica doesn't appear to be home, meaning it's less full of her bubbly energy.

In the bathroom - closed, naturally; at least there's light in there — Niki, who has been notably quiet since she got home with D.L., is presently closing the mirrored door of the medicine cabinet. She stares blankly, dully, into the reflective surface, her hand wrapped around tall glass of water on the counter. Half full or half empty today?

Just down and across the hallway from the bathroom is Micah's room. Decorated in true boy fashion, it does probably need to be clean up. PErhaps his mom will nudge that point a little more soon? From the cracked doorway of his room a stray beam of light is cast into the dim hallway, and from inside come the soft taps of little fingers dancing across a computer keyboard.

Where's D.L.? Who knows. He's not in the bathroom with Niki. He's not in Micah's room with him either. He's… actually just sitting at the window, peering out. It's a family divided at the moment, since he's too busy paying attention to whatever's outside. People across the street, most likely. He's just sitting there. He's got nothing to say to anyone. His facial expression is pretty empty too. He's just… there.

After several long, lingering moments of staring into the mirror, her expression unintentionally a mimic of D.L.'s - empty - Niki takes a decisive sip of water. The reflection in the mirror mimics every motion she makes obediently, just as blank-faced as she is. That would be because it is her. Eventually, the bathroom light is flicked off with a tired motion, Niki's hand dragging over the switch a second before she urges the door open. Her attention is divided between the dark figure of D.L. by the window and the crack of light at Micah's door. She chooses the latter, her footsteps gently creaking the floorboards as she heads that way. She doesn't say anything; Niki sneaks in the boy's room and comes up behind him to lay her chin on top of head, looking at his computer screen.

Micah's fingers fly over the keyboard in one of the few times he rarely decides to use it. On the screen, diagrams and maps of the current connection flash. Almost as though he's looking for someone. So intent in his search, that he doesn't even notice his mom sneak in until her chin touches his head. "Hi mom." he says, tilting his head and eyes upwards. On the screen, the connection stops searching and sits at a blinking cursor.

D.L. might've took too long to look up and over… he only caught the image of Niki heading into Micah's room. Closing his eyes for a moment, it's almost as if he watched her make a choice between the two. Not that it's actually like that, but he knows that their son is more important than anything that either of them could even be squabbling about. Still, though, he's not about to intrude on Mother/Son time and he gets himself up from his seat and immediately heads for the closet. Where there is a jacket he needs to put on. So what if he has to pass by the Micah's Room to get to his jacket.

Niki sets her glass down on a clean spot on Micah's computer desk (safely away from electronic equipment! … mostly) and wraps her arms around him from behind, criss-crossing them over his chest in a cozy hug. "Whatcha doin'?" As she asks the gentle, casual little question, she misses the fact that D.L.'s preparing to go out.

"I was hoping Molly might be on…" Micah answers, as the screen on the laptop shifts to screensaver mode. Oh look, it's the best of the best pictures of the family he could find in a rotating slide show. "I guess she's not." he adds, lifting his arms up to hug Niki's back.

They were a family while you were gone, D.L. They'll still be one when you leave now. He closes the closet door and ends up sliding into his jacket. No reason to actually have to worry about anything, what with Niki being a Power Ranger and all, he sets about heading back past the room of Micah so that he can get to the front door with some ease. He hasn't remembered to walk softly this time.

Niki tilts her head a bit, her cheek brushing her son's curls as the screensaver captures her attention. "Maybe she's not attached to a computer screen all hours of the day," she teases, before ever-so-slowly starting to stand up. There's the pitter patter of… not so little feet. From a photo on the screen to a glimpse in the dark, she looks to the hall and calls out. "D.L.?"

Micah giggles ever so slightly. "I'm not /that/ attached to it, mom." he grins, shaking his curls lightly. "Only just a little bit." His hands let go of her arms as she moves and calls out towards the hall. He twists a bit in his chair to look towards the door, especially since he still has to let dad win once or twice at Fight Night on the new XBox 360.

D.L. doesn't really feel a response coming on. Instead he just seems to shut down his body, though it tenses up when he hears his name. He spins backwards, shifting his face into one that won't make Micah nervous, though there's some lingering uneasiness in his eyes. Just in case Niki's trying to read him or something. He just looks at her with a question in his eyes. Huh?

Niki doesn't exactly rush into the hallway to stop D.L. - her hands stay comfortably settled on Micah's lil' shoulders. As for reading his face, though? She tries. "Are you going out?" It's poised as a casual question, what with Micah there, but her underlying question of where? is obvious.

Micah's eyes fall upon his father's face as the question is posed. For all he knows, he could be going out to get food. But then again, Micah should know better. "Can I go too?" he asks, preemptively striking with the request before there is even a yes or no answer to the original one.

"Yeah." comes the answer from D.L. as he's trying to keep everything nice and quiet. It's all about the fact that he's, well, trying to get out and about in the city and into trouble. But then Micah has to go and be a wrench in his plans. Not a good thing. So his face ends up softening at the expression on his son's face. "Not this time, Micah. I gotta' take care of some things."

Hey! Is Micah trying to escape her clutches? A smile works its way into Niki's face, flashed toward Micah after he asks to go, but when D.L. answers, it becomes short-lived. "Tidy your room up a little before bed," she tells the eleven-year-old with a kiss to the forehead before heading to the doorframe. She doesn't say anything, yet — she just looks up at D.L. with question in her eyes and slips around him into the hall.

"Awww…." Micah sighs, face dimming just so slightly. Just wait until he becomes a teenager and starts sneaking out of the house! "Just promise you'll be home to take me to school in the morning, dad." A soft smile starts to appear but then fades at mention of cleaning and he sighs. "Ok, mom." It's a resigned tone, but he'll clean. Of course, that doesn't mean he won't continue what he was doing on the computer while he cleans.

"Hey, wouldn't miss it for the world, Micah." D.L. suddenly wants to not have ever been alive again. But now he's looking from Micah and watching as Niki passes him by to end up in the hall. He can't help it, but his hand comes out to try and catch her arm. Stop her or something like that. "Listen. About earlier…" His eyes are trying to apologize for him, but he's not sure if she's going to look at him long enough to understand what he's saying.

Her son, the multi-tasker. Niki looks back into Micah's bedroom, but doesn't reflect for long; she wasn't about to go far, and her arm is easily caught. It doesn't stay that way - she tries to slide out of D.L.'s well-meaning snare to gently close over the door. His eyes catch hers, no problem. In fact, their gazes are locked in. About earlier…?

Micah turns up a smile at his father's words and turns to do as ordered. Clean Mode ON! As he passes his desk, he waves his hand across his laptop and the screen jumps back to life. This time, it's searching for one of the Hulk comics he is missing.

Not that there's anything he can really do to fix things, considering that it's all his fault. "… Nothin'." comes the words, since he's not allowed to really try and explain anything, especially since there's the fact that Micah is cleaning his room and listening quite intently to what's probably about to be happening. He looks back at Micah. "Hey. Look after your Mom while I'm gone, okay?"

What— no, don't listen to your dad, Micah, he's not going anywhere. Niki doesn't voice that outloud, not just yet, but the sentiment should get across to D.L. She makes a grab for his forearm. There's one solution to the predicament of not being able to talk when there's listening ears nearby — move. She tries to urge him into the dark living room to talk - in hushed tones. "C'mon. What're you doing, D.L.? Don't act like you're just going to the store for milk. I know you."

"I always do." Micah pips back, as the requests momentarily pauses his cleaning to give a quick smile to D.L. With each hand holding a fistful of cables, he darts his gaze around the room. Ah! There's the bin he's looking for. Free of the tangled web of cables, he tries to make every effort to try and clean, while trying to overhear what's going on.

"I'm getting out of the way. I shouldn't have come back…" D.L. admits, not really wanting to but the words just manage to come out when the Niki ends up using her NikiDom to trick him into telling the truth. Without so much as a moment of hesitation, D.L. just admits things. "I'm not sure what I'm even doing here." He sounds quite the bit confused.

Niki shuts her eyes, not quite in sync with what she's hearing. It's more like she's struck by a sudden pain or, by the way she sways on her feet momentarily, more likely vertigo. She sits on the arm of a chair and answers without letting another beat go by. "D.L…" And on her feet again, the blonde, wide-eyed and distraught, is moving toward her back-from-the-not-quite-dead husband. "Don't talk like that. You think I don't want you back? That— that your son isn't thrilled to have his father back?" The fact that he might think otherwise… she shakes her head in a frantic sort of disbelief, pale hair swinging.

Good gracious! Where'd Micah get all this stuff that has become the clutter that is his room? You'd think an eleven year old genius would keep his room more organized. Then again, what was Einstein like as a child? Knowing that most of the time it isn't always good when the parental units leave the room and shut the door, Micah edges over towards the door to try and open it a bit.

Sliding back, D.L. puts some space between himself and Niki. He can't really get the heck out of dodge if she's going to be all close and comforting or something like that. It's likely only temporary in the first place. "That's not what I mean." D.L. tries to explain, though he can't really get the elaboration out. Could have something to do with the fact that he's not good at elaboration. "I just…" He looks off towards the front door. Sanctuary. "I just need some air. That's all." See? He just needs air.

It's easy to see why Niki doesn't look convinced. It's not so easy. She still looks on D.L. upset, distraught - and wary of his motives. And his honesty. However, she stays more or less where she is, only drifting a bit closer only to stop again. "Just… come back," she implores quietly. Just incase.

Like a scene from some old horror movie, or maybe even recent ones, the door to Micah's room cracks open and all you see is an eyeball glancing around the darkened expanse outside his room. And then just as quickly it's gone and replaced by an ear! And just soon enough to catch the last couple of hushed words. Great. Dad's leaving again. But for how long this time? Will he be back before morning, or wind up front page of a newspaper? Micah doesn't even attempt to disguise the shutting of his bedroom door, ensuring the click of the latch is loud enough to be heard by both parents. Next target, the laptop. Time to do some digging.

D.L.'s expression is probably something close to 'goodbye', but without the words being attached to it. He's actually not sure if this is the right decision, but dammit, he's just got to get some space between his wife and himself. Before things get worse. "Always do." he says, quietly, before he turns to head off to the front door and get the heck out of dodge. For… an undisclosed length of time.

The question is this: is Niki going to let him walk out the door? She sees that look on his face, and it scares her. D.L. makes it all the way out before she starts to run, the fact that Micah was listening registering somewhere in the back of her mind. The door has barely had time to shut when it's flung open again by Niki's hurried hand. The air her husband apparently needs hits her in the face, a blast. "D.L.!" she shouts into the night, her voice a little more high-pitched and desperate than she intended. "…Tell me something. Tell me— how come I don't believe you."

Micah, of course, can't ignore the shouting voice of his mother. Yeah, he's a momma's boy. The wheels of his desk chair barely squeak as he slides away and opens the door to his room. "Mom?" he asks, tentatively into the dimness of the house. "What's going on?" His socks make a shuffling noise on the carpet down the hallway. Better not touch anything metal!

Air is pretty much all that Niki's going to get. Because D.L. has disappeared. Having gone Swayze, the bad husband and worse father has taken his leave of the street and either took off underground or something like it. Whatever the case may be, he's no longer around and that's the reason why she doesn't believe him. She probably doesn't need much more of an answer.

One hand trailing along the metal rail, Niki is on automatic as one sock-clad foot touches the next step down. As it becomes obvious that D.L.'s disappeared - at least, from sight - she comes to a slow stop, poised askew on the front steps. There's no hope of finding him now, even though she definitely looks — he could be anywhere on the street. Literally. Taking time to compose herself, blinking hard a few times, going through a few moments of sundry emotions, not the least of which is anger, Niki ultimately looks … drained, by the time she opens the door again. "Hey. It's okay, Micah. Did you clean your room?"

Practically almost to the door when it opens, Micah peers around his mom and out into the empty street. "He's not coming back, is he?" he asks, trying his best to conceal the disappointment in his voice. Things were supposed to be getting back to normal. But now…who knows. "Yeah, a bit." It's not entirely a lie, he did put a few things away. Until…this.

As she steps inside the dark house, and starts to head further inside, Niki lays a comforting hand around Micah's shoulders. The door swings shut behind her, closing them off from the street with a creak and dull clang and click. Touch is the only comforting thing she can provide with any honesty, right now. Honesty. Speaking of let's try some. "I don't know."

Micah's eyes dim with the sound of the door shutting and the words spoken. In the corner of his eye, what little bit of light reflects off a tear that is welling up that he is fighting hard to keep back. "He said he'd be back in time to see me off for school." There's holding out for some ray of hope in the face of potential rainshowers.

Oh, God. Niki's heart breaks a little. She can't promise Micah that his dad will be back in the morning. "Hey," she says in a half-whisper, moving around the growing eleven-year-old to crouch in front of him — making him taller, now. Forcing a soft smile, she reaches up and touches the little tear that's welling up in his eye, brushing it away with her thumb before it ever falls. "I'll take you, if he's not back in time. I'll even make a real breakfast."

As quickly as that tear is wiped from Micah's eye, another takes it's place. But only for a moment as the boy manages to get control of his feelings. "Ok. But I want dad to pick me up." Sadness hangs just in the back of his dark eyes, so as to be just be noticed and just as easily missed. Swinging his arms to give his mom a hug, he sighs. "Promise me you won't ever leave like that."

The effort it takes not to match the teary expression on Micah's face is considerable. Niki steels herself for his sake. "I know, baby," she says, drawing him close for a hug. "He wants to come back, he just— he went to get some air." Which is some ridiculous adult saying for who knows what, to a kid, she knows. There's only so much she can say, and so she has to say what she hopes is the truth, even though she can't promise that it is. "Don't worry, okay? Like he could stay away from us on purpose," she smiles as she sits back on her heels.

Micah isn't just any kid though. And as the explanation is given, he hugs her close and let's go as she leans back. "I….I think I understand." Maybe he does. "I would feel weird too if everyone thought I was dead and suddenly I came back." That's the logical side of Micah now, ever thinking things out. At least when he gets in trouble he'll likely always have alternate plans. The corners of his lips tug up just a hair into a small smile.

"It's a big change for all of us." Niki smoothes down Micah's shirt over his shoulders and gives him a fond smile. He's right, of course. As she stands up again, she tries disguise the sniff and blink of her eyes as she does.

"Yeah, it is." Micah nods, turning his head upwards at his mom. "But we've gotten through worse, right?" Not that the question needs as answer, but he just had to point it out. Ruffling his shirt after Niki is done, it wasn't just right, he turns towards the kitchen. "Do we still have some Oreos and milk left?" Bedtime snack, anyone?

Watching Micah, Niki leans heavily with one arm onto a living room chair. "…yeah," she answers with the beginnings of another smile - answering the all-important question about Oreos and milk, that is. The answer to the first question definitely goes without saying. "Cupboard on the left. … Where you can't reach them." But it's mom to the rescue as heads to the kitchen. "Only a few, though. It'll be your bedtime soon."

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