2007-11-04: Repeat Offenders

Starring:

Micah_icon.gif Cam_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif DL_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Isis

Summary: Family Services revisits to deliver some news that Niki and D.L. do not take well, to put it lightly.

Date It Happened: November 4th, 2007

Repeat Offenders


Sanders-Dawson-Hawkins Residence

Queens, New York City

Isis comes over right after school. Someone at the hospital noticed a social worker contact number and put in a report about the OD. She comes with a file folder under her arm. Her knock is just as authoritative as before, but her smile has a certain finality to it.

Micah hears the knock, from where's he's at in the kitchen searching for the cookies. They're around here somewhere and he's determined to find them. "Mooooom! Where's the cookies?" he shouts, hoping that wherever Niki is she'll hear him. Oh…yeah, the knock! "I got it!" Quest for cookies set aside, he's starts for the front door. Opening it to find…her! "Uh….hello."

Cam survived his day at school today without a scratch, which just this morning was a big worry of his. (Not that he told anybody but Niki.) So after coming in he's been in a pretty good mood, like it's been a really good day. Of course, he joined Micah in the kitchen, chatting a little about some random occurrence at school he finds extremely funny, though when Micah goes to answer the door he stays in the kitchen to continue the cookie search in his friend's absence.

"You and Cam ate them all, Micah!" Niki calls out all the way from the bedroom. She has stellar mom-hearing. Inside the room, she has the house's phone in one hand and is in the process of dialing a number when she hears the knock and subsequent shout from Micah. She's been expecting a visit from Isis. It's inevitable. The woman's image pops up in her mind as one of the possibilities. She opens the door, emerging just as far as the door frame. "Who is it, Micah?" she asks as she places the phone to her ear. It's ringing now, after all. And ringing and ringing… her voice lowers a touch while she leaves a message. "Hi, Dr. Suresh? Um… Mohinder. This is Niki Sanders. I need to talk to you about— what we were talking about before at your lab. It's kind of important. Please call me back."

The Man of the House is not Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Instead, it's Daniel Lawerence Hawkins. And he's been pretty busy the past few days, what with the taking over with the cleaning and such, trying his best to help out more than he probably should have to. Which is why the house looks pretty damn clean, just in case the Isis woman cares to have a glance around. D.L. seems to just emerge from some room or another, coming up behind Micah as there's someone at the door and he must make sure that there's nobody that needs to be punched in the face. He doesn't say anything, just stands there. Looking… black.

Isis, also black, says, "Hi, Micah. How are things going? How's school?" She comes in without asking permission. "You must be…D.L." She got his name from the forms Niki and she filled out. "Hi. I'm Isis Thigpen from Family Services. Is Niki here? I need to talk with the two of you about the in-home services plan we set up."

"It's the lady from Child Protective Services!" Micah shouts back, turning his head back just so that the tail end of the shout goes right past D.L. Eyelids blink over his dark eyes. "Sorry dad." Didn't mean to try to make his father deaf. Nor does he want to stand there in the presence of…her! "Good. And good. Thanks." he responds, scuttling back towards the kitchen. Let D.L. deal with Isis. "Any luck?" he asks Cam, as he round the corner into the kitchen.

Cam blinks at Niki's answering shout, saying softly to himself, "Oh." He shrugs, starting to step out towards the front and the door, curious now, but on hearing Isis' voice, and Micah's shout, he stops, but not in quite the fear he had her first visit. It's just a checkup, he's assuming. He shakes his head to Micah's question, "We ate them all, I guess."

Niki appears — not quite so out-of-nowhere or looming as her husband — with the phone in her hand and makes her way toward the front of the house. "Thanks Micah," she commends her son for his deafening shout. She's looking less tired than during Isis's last visit, and surprisingly well for someone who nearly ODed in recent times, but who really knows what the deal is. She stands near D.L., not quite touching, and offers Isis a smile. "Hi."

No smile. No budging. D.L. doesn't even move as this Isis person just invites herself into his house. She's not getting further than the hallway, that's for damn sure. His arms are even crossed over his chest in a way that makes him seem like a bouncer of some sort. "There's nothin' to set up. We takin' care of business." And that's enough. D.L. doesn't need the government keeping tabs on his family.

Isis replies to D.L., with her voice graceful and serious: "I understand how you feel, but that way is not working right now." Eschewing the contraction, she seems to encapsulate the statement so firmly that trying to make it into an argument would sound lame. "Let's have this discussion in the family room. It's an issue for adults."

"I know we didn't eat them all." Micah replies, shaking his head. At least he doesn't recall eating them all. And….there's still milk left in the fridge. Cookies + Milk = Heaven. Surely if there's milk left…there are sweet delicious goodies to go with it. As the grown ups talk in the hallway, Micah looks over at Cam. "I wonder what she wants this time." he whispers, turning up a grin at his father's small act of defiance.

Cam nods and grins a bit, "Well, hope they're around." He shrugs to the question as he takes a step back towards the kitchen, but on hearing D.L.'s words to Isis he says, "Your dad's awesome." Then he adds, talking softly, "Hope she's just here for a checkup or something."

Niki shoots D.L. a notably tense look and adds in, gently, "She's just here to help." Even so, the glance to Isis tells a different story. 'Help' is relative. Niki shares more of her husband's sentiments than she lets on and, for a flash, it shows, especially given the other woman's answer. Wordlessly, she moves toward the living room, an urging hand on the back of D.L.'s arm. "Hey, boys?" she calls to the adjacent kitchen. "Go hang out in Micah's room for a bit." Without cookies! Gasp.

"Let's talk about it here." D.L. still doesn't budge. No reason to argue, with less big words, D.L. just keeps his eyes planted firmly on the chick that's here to not help. "Ain't nothin' you're gonna' be able to say that's gonna' make me accept your 'services'. So until you come back with a court order…" And this is the dramatic pause that actors use when they're about to say a cool line. "… leave my son alone." Zoom in for the close up. "Both of them."

Isis looks at him a moment, then looks at Niki. "If that's how you want to handle it." she says in the calm tone of the poker player who knows the other side is bluffing. From the file folder she takes several documents. These she places one by one on the table next to her. "These are temporary custody notices from the State of New York, authorizing me to take Micah into protective custody. The reasons for you, Niki, are prescription drug abuse, mental health issues, and potential criminal history. For you, D.L., the reasons are failure to protect and potential criminal history. And the State of New York already has legal custody of Cam, so this is your notice of removal for him." She looks at D.L. and Niki again, closing up her folder. "The State will file a court action within seventy-two hours. You'll be entitled to a court review of the removal within five days. Your rights are listed there on the notice. We can have the discussion about services now or at that hearing."

Micah beckons for Cam to follow at his mom's request. "Come on…we can play on the laptop." he says, though from the fleeting worried look on his face, one might think he's not quite going to do that. But then…..BOMBSHELL. His feet stop dead in their projected path out of the kitchen. "Wh….what?" he stutters, darting his gaze between Isis and his parents. This can't be real. It has to be a dream. Wait. A nightmare. His fists clench, and his jaw clearly sets as he doesn't have the willpower to keep from blurting out…"We're not going anywhere. You can't make us!"

Cam nods, starting to follow Micah, but he too stops as he hears what Isis has to say. Unlike Micah, he doesn't even try to hold back comment, "No! You can't take Micah, he's got, like, the best family in this whole city!" He's upset at the prospect of being taken himself too, of course, but the feeling of unjustness for his friend seems to take priority.

… Jesus. Niki's head falls on D.L.'s obstinate words, eyes closing for a second. "D.L…" she murmurs under her breath. Isis, however, has her full attention not .5 seconds later. Nothing can properly summarize the mom's expression in those moments. For all intents and purposes, to Niki, Isis is trying to rip her world apart from underneath her. Fear, abject horror, sharp, fiery anger. "No." One low, harsh, definitive word underlying the kids'. Her hand tightens on D.L.'s arm and she steps closer to the family services woman. "No!" She barely looks at the documents. "You're not taking them anywhere! Redo your report. Do another investigation, I don't care, fix it." Niki starts to get all the more adamant. "I won't let you take my son away from me!"

Anger. Rising. "First you barge in here like it's your place. Then you throw a bunch of papers around because you got lucky, slept with the right people and got some government backing under you. And now you threaten to break up my family if we don't… how can I put this delicately, bend over and let you control the rest of our lives with your reports and your visits and whatever else you got." D.L.'s anger doesn't have him as adamant as Niki is, so he finds his hand holding her back. Just in case. "Fine." He turns to look at his wife for a second. "Niki. Go get the sell out some kool aid." Eyes are back off to the boys. "Micah? Cam? Bedroom." Tossing orders around like some sort of… father. "Shall we go into the living room now so you can tell me how you're about to ruin the rest of our lives?"

Isis says, "Cam, Micah, I appreciate what you are saying, but this is a time for the adults to talk. You'll have your turn in a minute."

She doesn't even blink at D.L.'s accusations - a little like a cop who has heard it all - she just says: "My supervisor's name is on the form, you can call if you have a complaint." and that's all the time she has for him, she just flat ignores everything else that comes out of his mouth.

The rest of her attention goes to Niki as Isis goes with her. "Niki, take a deep breath. You remember when I was here before, and what I told you needed to happen. Less than a week after my visit you ended up in the hospital with so many different drugs in your system the ER was surprised the interaction hadn't killed you. You collapsed in your home, in front of the kids, because of your drug use. This is not acceptable. Remember I told you the roof wouldn't hold? The problem is not going away, it is not under control, and it is getting worse. I have to ensure that the boys are safe. I cannot do that with you still using in the same place, and you've shown you can't stop on your own. That's not a surprise, that's why I was setting up the services for you in the first place, nobody can ever really quit long-term on their own, but it is clearly a lot worse than either of us could say the first time we met."

Now that's a friend that Micah is glad to have at his side in times like this. Cam is given a smile of approval. But then it's back to the business at hand. "YEAH! I won't let you." he adds, trying to back Niki up. A shade to late though as his father orders them to the bedroom. That works perfectly for him. "Come on, Cam. I've got an idea." As he heads for his bedroom.

Cam opens his mouth to say something to Isis at her words, but D.L.'s order shuts him up. Biting his lip, he nods and turns to hurry after Micah, following his friend to the bedroom. Once out of earshot of the adults, he asks Micah, "What do we do?"

Niki isn't calmed in the slightest. She knows what Isis is saying, she understands it perfectly — but the explanations only serve to make her more upset. She heads further into the living room, but sure doesn't sit. She spins around to face the woman. "You don't understand," she insists; it would have been a shout, if it weren't for her clenched teeth. "I'm not a drug addict," says the… alcoholic. Another side of the same coin? Yeah, she messed up; yeah, the kids shouldn't have seen that; she shouldn't have tried to take her treatment that far into her own hands, but- this is all going to sound like the same old thing to Isis. Damnit. "Just give us more time, we can show you."

"Pointless." That's pretty much summing up what D.L. feels about all this crap. The talking, the paperwork, the everything. There's no reason for him to even be here since there's more pointless words bound to be coming from the mouth of the Isis. Silence. Why? Because D.L.'s gone. Again. Right through the door. Literally.

Isis seats herself too, "You will get more time. This isn't a permanent thing. But Micah will have to stay somewhere else until things get stable." She lets D.L. go. "Do you have any relatives or close friends here that he could stay with temporarily?" she asks.

Entering his bedroom, Micah waits until Cam enters before closing the door to just a crack. "Trust me. I think I can fix all this." he replies, heading for where his laptop sits on the desk. "You remember what I can do, right? Watch this." The young lad hovers his hand over the keyboard and closes his eyes. Almost instantly the screen jumps to life and reads 'Hello Micah'. Just as quickly, it's replaced by a myriad of flashing images that flash almost like a strobe light. Eventually, they stop on a single page. A page that reads 'New York Child Protective Services - Secured Login' across the top.

Cam grins at that and says, "Awesome." He's confident enough in Micah's ability it's like all his fear drops away. He sits on the edge of Micah's bed, watching but staying silent so not to distract Micah.

"D.L.— !" Desperate, Niki's already angry voice builds to a shout at the door. Her fists close tightly at her sides — one around the phone she still holds. She stays on her feet, looming above Isis. "Monica," she answers. "This is her house. She's Micah's cousin, we live with her. What about Cam?"

Isis says, "Cam can't stay. The agency can't approve placement of someone in a home where someone's actively using." She pauses at the mention of Monica, and says: "…well, the problem with Monica as a placement is that she knew about your situation - or should have known - and didn't do anything to protect Micah. She's sort of in the same boat as D.L., although she doesn't have his history…" To say the least. "If the court approves it, maybe Micah can stay here…but in that case you and D.L. would have to move somewhere else. Is there anyone else, anyone you trust, anyone Micah knows who could be a support during this process?"

Social Services computers are pathetically primitive, used more as trackers for cases than controllers. Forms are filled out by hand, although a draft document of the court case is there. Isis hasn't even updated her casefile yet. The last update was the record of the report from the hospital. Essentially it says that the hospital social worker noticed Isis' number on the call sheet and lists Niki as 'OD' ing. The priority indicates that Isis was required to follow up within 48 hours.

Micah's lips curl up just a bit as he hears Cam take a seat. A few short beeps from the laptop and the login screen disappears. However, the next screen that comes up is all garbled. "Awwww man." Micah frowns and pulls his hand back from the laptop. "They've got it encrypted and I can't seem to bypass it. But I can do this…" he grins, shooting his hand back over the computer. A quick flicker of the screen and he's done.

Cam blinks, looking surprised as Micah says he can't do it, "Wow, really? Well, was a good idea anyway." Then he blinks at the last and asks, hopefully, "What'd you do?"

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the potential weight of this situation is sinking in more and more for Niki; her every muscle is tense as the threatened mother stares down at Isis, quietly seething. So much could go wrong. So many questions she can't answer in court. Now they might be forced out of their own home. D.L. took off, the kids are probably listening, and for a split second, she feels the pangs of panic.

Fight or flight.

D.L. obviously chose flight. Niki chooses fight. She has a lot of fight in her, right this second, that's for damn sure, but her moment of human anguish is a fissure in her will. It's a moment of weakness that turns into a moment of strength— for guess who.

The phone in her hand drops to the floor, its faceplate falling off from too much vice-like pressure. "Yeah," the blonde answers with a sudden purr of intimidation in her tone. "There's me." Without any more warning than that, she hauls swings a high velocity fist at the well-meaning family service woman's jaw.

Isis' phone beeps in her purse. She takes it out, looks at it, looks momentarily sour, and is putting it back when she goes flying back against the wall, blood gushing from a split, swollen lip.

"I told the network to send a message to her phone that she was needed back at the office." Micah grins. "You know, to try and get her ou…" The sentence is left unfinished as he hears the sound of something hitting the wall. And given the fact he doesn't hear his father shouting anymore… "Oh no…" Pushing himself out of the chair, he quickly heads for the door. "Mom?"

Cam's eyes widen at that sound too. He hops to his feet as well, following after Micah. Unlike Micah, he doesn't have a clue what might be happening.

Jessica isn't going to stop there. The significant crash that Isis makes and the flurry of activity in Micah's room urges her to move all the faster. Lengthy, decisive strides bring her to Isis, and in seconds, she's crouching beside the woman and holding her lovely face in one hand carelessly by the chin. One sharp twist of her wrist is all it takes. It's so easy, she overdoes it. Even a broken neck shouldn't go quite that far.

As soon as it's done, Jessica stands up swiftly — and Niki is the one to back up and take in the sight, eyes widening and glinting with horror. It happened so fast. She let it happen, didn't she? She gave in for that one second…

She rushes towards the door to Micah's room to meet the kids, pushing, herding them back in. "Go to the car," she orders without explanation. Familiar lack of explanation, no doubt, to Micah. "Go— through the window! I'll meet you in a minute."

Isis has actually gotten punched before, slapped more than once, bitten twice and even pushed down a flight of stairs one time. She came back on crutches and closed that case. But this - no, this is too fast and too powerful. Like anyone would, she dies too fast to notice her passing. Drool and blood mingle beneath her slackened lips when her body drops.

It's a scene Micah has seen all too many times. Clearing his room, he manages to get one look at Isis' lifeless body. Nonono. Pushed back towards the room, he throws a glance at Cam. "Take only what you need." Of course, he follows his own advice, heading to the desk and sliding the laptop into a messenger bag. Power cord. Check. He quickly glances back towards Niki/Jessica, before moving towards his open bedroom window.

Cam blinks, but then nods quickly, reaching to grab his cellphone (the one Kory gave him), and that's about it… it's not like he has many possessions. That and a few comics, which he doesn't bother with given Micah's advice. "What's going on?" He goes towards the window, though.

Niki rushes through the room to haul the window wide open for them. It's a short drop, there's only one level. Then, she's hurrying them — but she grabs hold of Micah's arm before he's out and looks from him to Cam. "There was… an accident," she says slowly to Cam, more than Micah. "We have to go for a bit. We'll be back, and— and we'll all be together. Just, right now, we have to go." There's a tremulous line of Something Dire underneath the strength of her words. Maybe there's no reason to rush. More than likely, no one will be coming to look for Ms. Thigpen today. But Monica might come home. A neighbour might have heard the noise. She just can't leave her there. In plain sight. In the living room. "Wait in the car," Niki reiterates. She tugs Micah gently to place a firm kiss on the top of his head; she reaches out for Cam, squeezes his arm; and she jogs out into the hall and shuts the door.

Micah gets paused in the middle of the window as the entire situation is explained to Cam. At least that frees him up from having to relay it. "I know." is all Micah manages, leaning to allow the kiss. Leaning back towards the outside of the window, he glances down. "It's not that far, Cam." he says, swinging his other leg and holding himself up on the window ledge with his hands. "I'll meet you at the car." And then he drops out of sight in the window.

Cam nods a little to Niki, biting his lip. He is, just a little, scared. "This is reminding me of the 'cops-are-coming' drills my dad used to do," he comments to Micah as he hops out after him, having no problem with the drop as long as he doesn't need to catch himself with his bad arm (which is getting a lot better lately… but burns take ages to heal). Still, he's at least somewhat happy. He gets to stay with Niki and Micah (and D.L.?) at least for a while longer.

To Be Continued...

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