2008-01-30: Pictures of You

Starring:

Micah_icon.gif Cam_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: After nearly a month of being gone, Niki returns to her former home to reunite with what mattered most to her.

Date It Happened: January 30th, 2008

Pictures of You


Sanders-Dawson Residence

Queens, NYC

Late morning light turns into the light of early afternoon, trying hard to shine its telltale warm glow on the furniture despite the grey skies. The house is completely quiet. By all appearances, it's completely serene, completely empty.

But it's not exactly as Micah and Cam left it: the boys' bedroom door is slightly ajar.

Keys jingle in the door of the house. Obviously someone who lives here. As the pins and tumblers move in sequence, allowing access, the door swings open. And revealed is Micah, backpack slung over his shoulder. As he enters, it's clear that he's become accustomed to fending for himself in the time that his mom has been missing. Looking around, he lets out a small sigh. Another day, no sign of her as he ventures into the kitchen to grab himself a mid-morning snack.

Cam comes in the front door, following Micah and pulling off his coat as soon as he's inside, "Hate wearing this stupid thing." He drops the coat just inside, and then glances back to Micah, "Guess Monica's out." He hasn't noticed the bedroom door being open… or, at least, that it's noteworthy.

The resident dog jumps off of Micah's bed, her patchwork form bounding to nudge the door open so she can greet the boys. The door is left wide open — leaving a view from one end of the house to the other.

It's strange, how slow, slow movements can be, in the same instant, frantic. The very familiar woman in the bedroom room is in the process of unfolding bare legs to stand, when the bedroom door opens; every move an unusual mix of caution and eagerness. She puts down the small, colourful photo album in her hands, leaving it on the bed beside her coat, unsure all the while whether or not she's been spotted.

It's Niki, there's no denying that — but it's been nearly a month since she's been gone and she's not exactly the same as when she disappeared. The clothes — the light grey pencil wrap skirt, the turquoise blouse, the long gold-and-bead necklace — are more expensive than she's ever known, but it's not even a wardrobe change that makes Niki different. It's the look in her eye, difficult to pinpoint; the fact that she's not rushing out to hug them; the way she steps up to the doorframe and stands there, staring.

"Hey girl." Micah grins, as the resident pooch finds her way into the kitchen. He's just about to reach for the cupboard to get bread for a sandwich when he pauses….was that…? Sounded like movement of a bed creaking. Or it could just be paranoia. "Maybe she isn't." he says, glancing at Cam before hollaring out, "Monica? That you?"

Cam pets the dog too, but since he's not making any food himself, he takes a step out of the kitchen as Micah calls out. He stops, blinking, as he looks up to Niki. Then he smiles, excitedly saying, "You're back! Micah, it's your mom!"

Niki is caught up in watching Micah, blue eyes following him with a certain kind of wonder. When Cam finds her, she gives a small, tremulous smile. Her hand, bracing against the doorframe, tightens, gripping the wood like it's supporting her whole weight, but she lets it trail away as she steps out. "H-hi." Her voice cracks.

Micah doesn't get the response he is expecting. In figuring out what to do, Cam's words finally register in his mind and he freezes. She's been gone for a while now. All his search attempts have come up with no concrete location. "M-mom?" he asks, turning his head in Cam's direction to confirm this new development.

Cam grins up to Niki, "Hi." He gets a curious look at her hesitation and cracking voice, but then Micah's hesitating too and he steps to pull the slightly younger boy out where he can get a clearer view of his mother.

Mom. Niki has the distinct look of someone wondering how they got where they are right now, which isn't an entirely uncommon expression for this woman, but finds a different use today. "It's me," she says, and oh God, it's hard to say, because they're looking at her with those eyes and she knows she'll have to explain— "It's me," she says again, confirming it — not just for the boys, but for her. She steps closer.

Tug. Tug. Yes, Micah is pulled - tow courtesy of Cam's Tugboat Service - into a clearer view of Niki. "OMG! Mom!" It finally sets in this isn't an illusion. And as if someone slowed down time, it's a slow-mo leap for his mom.

Cam, of course, lets go of Micah as soon as he realizes his mom is actually there. He grins, and follows his friend over to Niki, though hanging back slightly at first.

The hug jostles Niki physically more than it ought to; momentarily unbalanced on her tall heels, she instinctively wraps an arm around Micah's shoulders. Still, it's not as immediate as it normally would be - not as desperate. But it is tight, both arms coming to hold him close. After watching Cam for a moment with her eyes tearing up, they close for a few seconds. She sinks down into a crouch, both hands coming up to frame Micah's face, which she looks up at — taking in details as if they're new. New and beautiful. "You're taller than the pictures show," she says quietly, smiling — for a bright flash. "You'll have to… you'll have to bear with your mom a little, okay? Something happened and I don't… I don't remember… very much right now."

Micah hugs the woman in his life that has been missing. And for a moment he seems like he's not going to let go. Or at least until Niki sits down on the couch. "Where have you been?" he asks, watching as she examines his features. "W-what pictures? You're n-not making any…." he trails off as she explains. "What happened mom?" he asks, glancing over at Cam with a mixture of joy and worry on his face.

Cam doesn't seem surprised at Niki's words, though perhaps a bit disappointed. He reminds Micah quietly, "Remember, that lady that was here saying she lost her memory? Think it's true." Then he looks up to Niki and says, "But you're back now. So we can help you get it back."

That lady… "Charlotte was here?" Niki closes her eyes, but can't help but smile. Her well-meaning friend in all of this. "There was— an accident," she explains in the simplest terms possible, sneaking back so that she's on the couch cushion behind her. "It's… confusing, and I don't… remember that either…" She hesitates, searching her son's face and gently sweeping some black curls from above his brow. She's done it a million times before and thousands of gestures like it, and though to her, it seems like the first, it comes naturally as breathing. "I'm sorry I left like that."

"I didn't trust her." Micah says, frowning, but nodding at Cam. "It must be." His attention turns back to his mom though. "B-but….someone should have called me." There's concern in his voice, carefully concealing the anger underlying. "I was worried!" And so he spins and sets himself down on the couch after she finishes with his curls.

Cam nods quickly to Niki, "We thought she was lying. Um.. guess tell her sorry for us… or me, anyway." Then he adds, "Even Kory said the same thing, but still wasn't sure."

Micah's show of emotion makes Niki flinch, as if she were physically hurt. Her eyes follow him — and her body does too, as she twists to face him more on the couch. "I didn't mean.." To leave them worrying, to cause any sort of pain. All her hesitation over her old life, any thoughts of turning her back on it, are blasted out of the atmosphere by one look at Micah. "There was … a lot going on, after I woke up. I didn't know— " A choked pause. "I didn't know." Wait. With a furrowed brow, she turns a confused look on Cam. "Who's Kory?"

Micah understands. Besides, it's not as if this is the first major event in his life. Not by far. And probably not the last either. Dark eyes peer across the expanse between him and his mom, trying to read her. Not any easy task likely in her current state. "I understand." he answers, nodding his head lightly. "I'm glad you're home though."

Cam blinks, "Oh, right. Um.. she's a friend of mine, works at the Lair, a comic store. She's a dreamwalker…um… don't tell anybody. But, guess she went into your dreams to try to find you, 'cause she knew you had amnesia."

"…a… dream… what?" Niki gives her head a little shake after speaking. Sounds crazy enough to be true. She reaches out to lay a hand over Micah's — looking over at Cam again, she holds out her hand to him, too. She may not realize who he is, exactly, but he's obviously affected by this too. "This isn't easy for me," she prefaces. "I want to be here for you guys… and I'm gonna try my best."

"I'm just glad you're home." Micah admits, finally letting a smile start to drift across his face. "And we'll do whatever we can to help you get better. Right, Cam?" A glance is given at his friend with a look of hope. Though, it's not like it's going to be repairing computer memory. Nono. Much different.

Cam answers Niki, "Dreamwalker. She can walk in people's dreams." He then nods emphatically in agreement with Micah, as he takes the offered hand, "Yeah! Whatever it takes!"

"You will, will you?" Niki says with a good-natured laugh, drawing Cam closer and holding onto both of their smaller hands. "I have doctors looking out for me. A whole team." It's meant to be reassuring, her optimism on full force — even though she has her doubts, they only touch her voice barely. "I know you're glad that I'm back," she says, seriousness sinking into her voice once again, "And I am, too. I just look at your face and…" A fond, awed smile breaks free as she looks at Micah, then glances down. "But I can't … stay, not right away. I want to, but— "

Micah lets out a giggle at laugh. That's almost the mom he remembers. Almost. "Well…" he grins. "we can help them! Help you remember things you did or said." The offer is genuine, and the voice makes it clear of that. But then…. "But….what? Why can't you?" Ok, so the assuredness in his voice is gone, replaced with concern. The smile falters. The eyes question. "We can help you here."

Cam nods quickly to Niki, but then blinks at that last as well. "Why not?" He nods again in agreement again with Micah, "Yeah, here's better, here you can learn stuff, remember stuff."

Oh no. The blonde looks up at the ceiling after the two boys answer. She takes a moment, both to find words and composure. "It doesn't work like that," she eventually explains — quiet, apologetic. "There's nothing…" she trails off, hesitating; at this rate, she's going to crush that optimism. "…there's nothing left to remember," Niki finishes all the same. "But," she quickly changes tracks, trying to salvage hope, "If there's any way, the doctors at Pinehearst will find it."

Right. Leave it up to these 'doctors' at…..*ding*. "Pinehearst?" Micah asks. That name rings a bell. A very loud bell. "They were partnered with Redwood. The company with the computer summer camps." Lightbulb! But wait…back to the matter at hand. "But they don't /know/ you, mom." he pleads, fighting back tears with every bit of strength he can think of. "They don't know our family. Dad. What's happened. We do."

Cam considers a moment, looking to Micah and back up to Niki. After a moment he says, "Or we could go back with you. Wherever you're staying now. Then we can still help and you'll have the doctors too."

"I know you do," Niki says in a sympathetic tone that, any other time — and maybe even now — would suggest that she knows, too. It's an illusion of words. She considers Cam's suggestion "I wish I could remember… birthdays and… Christmases— but I see the pictures, and I look at you, and I can't— " Unable to take it anymore, her unchanged heart gets the better of her and, with a pained look while she's trying to smile, a few tears fall. She suddenly pulls Micah close around the shoulders, and her hand tightens on Cam's. "I'd remember you," she whispers. "I'll be back."

Micah is pulled close, and when he is, a few matching tears of his own fall. "Pictures only give you a glimpse of the that moment. There's more to things than just a picture." he says, voice trying not to falter. As she mentions coming back, he hugs her even tighter. "I'm going to hold you to that, mom."

Cam nods a little again to Niki, squeezing Niki's hand a little tighter, biting his lip. He starts to say something, then stops and just sits there quietly, unsure what else he can say.

More than just a picture. There's this, right here. It's breaking her heart, looking at Micah, not remembering her own son. If she could remember, she's sure she would have. "I promise." Even if she never remembers. "Are you guys okay on your own?" She looks around the living room, past the dog who's passed out by a chair by now. "Where's— " She obviously recites the name from recent memory — that of a file, in this case, " —Monica?"

"She's at school. In class." Micah replies, as he leans back from the hug. "We were making do. Monica helps out when she's here and not in class." His shoulders shrug, but he does try to smile just a bit. "I think we'll be ok, mom. We managed for the weeks you were missing and had no clue. Cam and I can handle things, right?"

Cam nods again, "Yep, we can look after ourselves ok. No matter what the social workers think," he adds. "Just want you to be ok, is all."

"I bet you can," Niki says, running a few fingertips beneath one eye, then the other, to smear away tears. She looks between the two boys, chances a glance outward — toward the door — and makes a decision. She settles back against the couch. "How about I stay for a little while. And maybe," she tries for another smile, eyes naively curious when they land on Micah. "You can tell me about your father."

Micah grins and settles back against the couch. "You sure you can?" he asks, mood turning up a bit as she mentions staying for a little while. "You don't have a curfew do you?" he adds, grinning and ducking just a bit as an impulse reaction. Of course, it dims just a bit at mention of his father. "Dad's a bit of a long story."

Cam smiles too as Niki says she'll stay (even if it is for a while), and says, "Cool." He quiets again though at the mention of Micah's dad. This is a story for Micah to tell. The one part he knows that he thinks Micah doesn't, he won't say right now.

"No, but I have an important job." And a pager that will go off from the other room if it's called. "This is what's important, right now." Niki smiles gently. "You don't have to talk about him, if you don't want to. You can tell me about you, instead. Both of you."

(FADE)

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