2010-01-26: FB: Pants On The Ground



Date Set: January 25th, 2009


Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin' like a fool!

One Year Ago…

"Pants on the Ground"

Micah's School, Niagara Falls, NYC

After the incident last week, Micah has attempted to lay low at school. His cuts have started to heal thanks to Cass' touch, but his eye is several shades of purple as it's started to heal. It's a sunny January day in Niagara Falls, and school's just been let out for the day. Micah pads towards the lot where his mom is going to pick him up at the end of the day. He limps as he walks to the car while holding an ice pack on his bottom lip. And unlike his usual happy, smiling self, Micah is frowning. He's not impressed.

The second-hand family car has just been parked in the lot wedged between some much shinier parents' vehicles. The white Honda Civic, a few years old, is nondescript other than the fact that it's obviously beat up. A better car isn't exactly a priority; this one works. How her car does or doesn't fit in isn't on Niki's mind at the moment — she's used to not fitting in when it comes to the more illustrious schools that are best for Micah. It's Micah himself that has her attention as she spies him, and just as soon, spies that something is off.

Instead of waiting for him to get all the way to the car, she gets halfway out, one hand on top of the door. The leather jacket Niki threw on to ward off the winter she's been made to get somewhat used to in the past couple of years would be edgier if it weren't for the powder blue hood of her sweater that happens to fall over the collar, down her back along with a ponytail. "Micah," she calls out to get his attention. She had to park some distance away.

The sound of his name snaps the teen to attention as he continues to hold the ice bag to his lip. Turning towards his mom he peeks over his shoulder idly before shaking his head and just marching up to the car. Before his mom can comment, he's tugging on the door handle to get into the vehicle, still frowning. In one fluid motion he opens the door and sits in the passenger seat, doing up his seat belt moments later. "I'm ready to go home now," he says blandly.

Watching Micah with obvious concern all the while, Niki falls back into the driver's seat, but one boot-clad foot stays planted in the parking lot and the door remains open, emitting a consistently annoying beeping chime to announce its openness to everyone. "Something else happened at school today, didn't it," she says evenly, more of an observation than a question. She leans her head to the side as she tries to see if Micah is more hurt than he was when he left the house this morning.

Not meeting his mom's gaze Micah almost shakes his head. Almost. Denial is so much easier. Instead of lying, he opts for vague reassurances, "It's fine, Mom. I'm fine. I didn't fight this time." And look what it got him. A fatter lip than when he left this morning. He stares out the windshield. "I tried to get them to lay off that kid again. It…" he shrugs. She can see how it turned out.

"That's it." Niki can't stand seeing her son get beat up on for trying to be a good person — she can't stand it for another minute. "Get out've the car." That order, right there: it's in the tone of a mother who won't take no for an answer. Simultaneously, Niki tears the keys out of the ignition with a harsh jingle. Fed up, determination has taken over her features as she gets out of the car, slamming her door and, without explanation, waits for Micah to follow suit.

"Mom! Mo-om!! No. It's fine. I —" Micah tries to object, but Niki's already out of the car during his protests. Yes. This is all he needs to make the situation better: his mom to come stand up for him. Shaking his head again, he opens the door and meets her gaze now, "Mom. No. There's… nothing… the teacher dealt… it's fine…"

"Obviously the teacher didn't deal fast enough," Niki says, unsympathetic in regards to what might have been a perfectly well-meaning teacher. She wanted Micah to go through the proper channels, but that was before he got hurt again. She moves around the front of the car to Micah's side, only to take his arm and march. Her hold on his elbow isn't rough, but it is firm. Niki's long strides carry her through the parking lot on a mission, the high heels of her tall, slouchy black boots sharp on the pave toward the school. "Where are they, are they still here?"

"Mom!" Micah would be mortified if it weren't for the firm grip on his elbow. What is he supposed to say? How is he supposed to deal with this? He'll be mortified later. For now, he doesn't object. Much. "It's fine. It's dealt with…" Micah insists as he sees them down the block (two averaged height teens and one ridiculously tall teenager). Turning back to his mother, he shakes his head, "No. They probably went home." The lie is panicked. Contrived. He doesn't even pretend to believe what he's saying. SOmeone that doesn't know him, would be able to see through the lie.

Niki doesn't even seem to be listening at first, definitely not heading her son's words. She's seeing red. (Hopefully, not too red.) She comes to a quick stop, though, right around the time of Micah's lie. She steps in front of him, facing him, hand still on his arm. "I know you don't wanna get in more trouble Micah— " Or have his mom bail him out. "And you're just trying to do the right thing. But this has got to stop, alright? You're getting hurt and you're … lying now?" Her voice turns softer, veering from her motherly warpath. "You know we're supposed to be honest with each other, Micah." Niki's free hand lays on the boy's shoulder, an affectionate thumb at his neck. She seems … sad, for an instant. "Let me deal with this. I will sort this out."

The hand on his shoulder causes Micah to sigh before he nods. He's not happy about this. He's thirteen and can, theoretically, take care of himself. He's not totally incapable. His gaze shifts from his mom to the trio just up the block, silently pointing them out without raising a finger or uttering a sounds.

The shortest of the trio, Martin, wears his pants far too low (lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground!) along with a backwards red ball cap. While Tim, the second tallest (and presumably second in charge?) looks similar to his predecessor except with lower pants (pants on the ground?) and no cap — messy blonde hair is ruffled this way and that. And the third, and tallest teen, Ivan, has his pants sitting on his hips (where they belong!) along with a belt to hold them up. The trio are playing hackey sack, tossing the small bag to and fro between them using various tricks and motions.

The trio of teenagers is eyed, Targets locked. Niki gives Micah a reassuring smile — half-reassuring, anyway. It falls a little flat since she can tell he's not thrilled with her intervention. (Too bad!) She squeezes his shoulder - thank you - before letting go. Entirely, so at least there's that — she won't march him up to the other teenagers. With that, Niki heads straight for the hackey-sack group, picking up those same long strides. "Hey." She doesn't do much else to gain their attention. Tall blonde in high-heeled boots, hands on her hips, staring them down should pretty much do it. That and Micah's presence, unless he's decided to take no part of his mom's interference. "Are you the kids responsible for hurting my son and— God knows how many others?"

There is a quick sigh of relief as Niki doesn't drag Micah up to the other teenagers. That's something to be relieved about, at least for awhile. He lingers back, not convinced that this is the best course of action. And altogether unhappy about the situation. His presence is there, but it's far enough away that he may or may not be with his mom to onlookers.
Niki's greeting is met with a fleeting glance from the tallest teen and a nonchalant shrug before the trio continue with their game. The shortest, Martin, however, at least acknowledges her existence, "Look lady, we already talked to Miss Hammond about it." And have detention for the week as a result.

"And you're still here." As far as Niki is concerned, Ms. Hammond didn't do her job well enough if these kids are still allowed to hang around the school and play games. "I don't care what Ms. Hammond said. You think you're tough, you can go around 'n' pick fights with anyone?" She lets her hands fall away from her hips with a hiss of leather, as if ready to … do what, exactly? Her pose is anything but casual, that's for sure. The mother's gaze bears down on each of the teenagers, but focuses on the one who spoke up, Martin.

"Yeah. We're still here," the short one murmurs as he kicks the hacky-sack over to his friends again. "You have a problem with that, lady?" the tone is annoyed. He glances at her before a smile creeps over his lips as he shrugs. "Dad made a call. Things are fixed now." As in daddy probably gave the school a giant endowment to keep his kid in the school.

Micah takes a step forward at his mother's change in stance while he shoots her a look. A very distinct look. Of course, he doesn't say what's on his mind. He leaves his thoughts unspoken.

The implication that a student's dad paid the school to smooth everything over only — what else can he mean by fixed? — serves to make Niki more aggravated. She gives an unsurprised laugh under her breath and rolls her eyes. "What did he do, pay off the principal?" She knows how this works (all too well, actually). "You think you guys're above everyone else?" The blonde's eyes narrow and she takes a step into the group of teenagers, pointing at Martin. "You try anything like that again, beat up on some kid who can't protect themselves or mess with Micah, you'll regret it," she says boldly, obvious threat in her words.

"Oooo. That sounded like a threat, lady!!" Martin sneers before the snatches the hackey sack from the air. He glances at one of his buddies and then the other before he sneers, "Micah's mommy is threatening me! Oooo. I'm soooo afraid!"

At this, Micah knows Martin has crossed a line. He walks up to his mom and reaches to tug her sleeve, "Mom. We should go." The tone is firm as is the command. "Some things just aren't worth our time…"

"Oooo. Is sad little Micah hiding behind his mommy's apron?" the taller one jibes causing Micah to glance at his mom and shake his head. This is going no where good.

Niki tears her dangerous gaze away from the schoolyard tormenters long enough to look at Micah. "You wanted to stop them, Micah!" she reminds him. Of course, she might be going against her own advice, especially as her head whips back around to the teenagers. A quick glance is given to make sure there aren't too many students (or school staff) milling around the block before, almost lightning fast, she grabs the front of Martin's shirt, hauling him immediately straight off the ground to whirl and press him against the brick wall of the building. She picked one of the smaller of the bunch, but even so, he's dangling a good few feet and pinned by just the forearm of a slender woman.

"Hit anyone at this school again. I dare you." Looking at each of them, she shoves Martin firmer against the wall. She's not really hurting him, but there's no doubt he can feel her strength; that the others can see it. It's just intimidation. A little something she learned from Jessica. A part of her now. Sometimes… it's more obvious than others. Now would be one of those times, even though she is fully her own person. "We— " A glance to Micah. " — won't let you. So if you're good, and don't tell anyone about our little chat," she looks up at Martin with that same threatening stare. "I won't have to go have a talk with your parents."

The short teen objects loudly, "LADY!!" however he quiets to a whimper as she literally pins him with her arm. How is this even possible?! His feet dangle and he tries to kick at Niki, but this is impossible with how incredibly short he is. His friends look around frantically for another adult, if only to have a witness to this encounter, but to no avail. The adults are conveniently inside. Like every day. Wordlessly, Micah watches the encounter in something that borders admiration and horror. He's not really afraid of his mom, but he's also wholly aware of her darker parts.

The larger of Martin's friends is muttering frantically worried for the very life of his friend — even if there is no imminent danger. His lamentations are interrupted however by an apology to Niki, "Look lady, we won't do it again. He won't do it again. I won't let him."

Chances are … Cass wouldn't approve of Niki's methods. Solving problems with violence. D.L. might. She only tenuously agrees with her own tactics, but it feels like the right thing to do here and now. It comes naturally. "Good call." Niki lets go of Martin all of a sudden. It might look careless to the kids' safety, but her strength is controlled. She grabs onto his shoulder once his feet hit the ground —rough on first glance, but she's actually bracing so he doesn't fall before she steps back. She wouldn't hurt them. They're just bullies who need a little sense forced into 'em.
Niki she crouches down to scoop up the inevitably fallen hackey sack, only to hand it to the taller boy. "If I hear even about even one stupid fight…" She gives them all a pointed look with a raise of her brows before turning away to walk with Micah.

Martin silently stumbles (only slightly because of Niki's grip) before the tall teen takes the hackey sack and nods at her, "Yes, ma'am. I'll keep him in line. I swear." The teen's friends nod at this. What they've seen today makes no sense, and like all things that don't make sense, it's easier to fear them and step in line than pull them apart and analyze them.

Micah silently skulks back to the car. He gets in, does up his seat belt and still says nothing. Instead, he continues to hold his ice bag on his bottom lip as he stares out the windshield in silence. Yes, he's still mad. About what exactly? This is left to Niki's imagination. Instead he taps his fingers on his lap, mimicking playing the piano.

Niki is already looking at Micah by the time she falls back in the car. "Bullies aren't used to being bullied," she explains before sighing, starting the car and leaning back. The woman's expression and whole demeanour is much softer now, if a little annoyed — maybe at Micah, maybe at the bullies. It's hard to tell. It's a bit of both. She's hardly the perfect mom, but she tries. "Hey, don't be mad at me Micah, they won't be bothering anyone anymore."

"That's not what I'm mad about," Micah mutters to the passenger window rather than his mom. "They got what they deserved." He blinks before he turns his gaze to her. "You were the one who told us never to use our abilities. You were the one who insisted that we had to be something we're not. You were the one who constantly tells Cam and I not to use them. That we want to fit in here. Blah, blah, blah. And then, when it's convenient for you, you just … you… you use yours." He presses his lips together.

"They won't— " Niki starts to argue — to say that those brats won't tell anyone — but she's well aware that she's created a double standard. "I know," she concedes gently, hands on the wheel as she looks over at Micah. The car hasn't gone anywhere yet. "It's not… that I don't want you to use them. Just… there's a time, and a place… okay, maybe I overreacted," Niki admits, trying for a bright, fond smile in Micah's direction. "No one messes with my boy." Even so, she can just tell this conversation has a high chance of not panning out in favour of Mom Is Right. She buckles her seat belt and pulls out of the tight parking spot. "If anyone asks how I did it, you can just … tell 'em I do pilates. Right now, you have a dentist's appointment you're gonna be late for."

"Fine. Whatever," Micah says blandly with another sigh. It's not fair. But what is there to argue about, he's the thirteen year old and she's his mom? There's little else he can do. He forces a smile, but it's short-lived before he just shrugs. He tucks the time and place quotation away in his memory for later use (should she discover his and Cam's antics), and more genuine smile spreads over his lips. "Mom, I can handle myself. No matter what you think, I can. I know I can. I'm capable."

"I know you can," Niki says with a wider smile as she continues to look over at Micah. Her smile is warm, knowing … but edged with a dose of unease. Motherly unease. It's only natural. As she looks away to focus on getting them out of the school parking lot (alive), she adds more quietly: "That's what worries me."

The quiet words are met with a frown of sorts. A frown that spreads over Micah's entire face, furrowing his eyebrows while knitting them together. He stares incredulously at his mom for several moments before he manages the question that's lingering in his mind. "Why?"

"Because…" Niki starts off, half-focused on driving away from the school and half-focused on Micah — her eyes leave the road several times to glance over at him with an emotion in her eyes she can't rightly express. "One day I'm gonna look and you'll be even more grown up." He's already a teenager. "I should be used to it, you've been growing up too fast since you were born…" She laughs a touch. Boy genius.

"Mom," Micah's tone is now softer. There's no angry edge or teenage angst behind it. "I'm supposed to grow up." He sighs as he considers the craziness that has been there lives these last few years and everything that happened to tear them apart and bring them together. "But I'll always need you guys. You know that. I wouldn't be me without you." At this he offers her a soft smile.

It doesn't hurt to be reminded. How did this conversation start with her reassuring Micah and end with Micah reassuring her? "You'll never cease to amaze me," Niki says warmly under her breath. A bright smile appears and she shakes her head, casually (and narrowly) avoiding a red light on her way to their next stop.

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