2007-11-06: We'll Make It Work


Micah_icon.gif Monica_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Cam_icon.gif

Summary: Micah and Monica find out D.L. is in jail; later, Monica learns the truth of why.

Date It Happened: November 6th, 2007

We'll Make It Work

Sanders-Dawson Residence


It's a quiet evening in Queens tonight. Not much going on outside. Probably a lot less going on inside the Dawson house. Of course, the sound of video games from the living room should be clue enough that Micah is just slacking off. Yes, his homework is done. Got that done shortly after his mom had left to run an errand. It's hard to tell though if he's been left home alone, or maybe someone else is here. Not that it matters, he's content to fly the alien craft on the screen through barrages of missiles. The fact that he'd been quite literally a stop-and-drop early forgotten.

Monica's in the kitchen, studying at the little card table that they're using as a breakfast dinette, because hey, she's a college student and she's cheap. Right now she's struggling with her Bio homework, tapping away at a laptop and looking like her eyes are going to glaze over from flashcards. On the stove, a lidded pot full spicy spaghetti sauce is simmering, the pasta in the strainer in the sink.

Every time Niki has come in or out of the house lately — through any door, anywhere, these past few days — it's been in a rush, a whirlwind. But tonight… tonight, she opens the door quietly, barely jarring the relative silence of the house. Her expression is strangely stoic and weighed down, and every movement is slow — stepping in, locking the door, flattening her hand against the wood panelling.

It would almost be doubtful that Micah could hear the door make it's noise during his video game. But thank the creators that they chose just that moment to put a haunting pause in the alien melody. "Mom?" he asks, pausing the game and peeking his head over the back of the couch. All anyone sees is just the hair full of curls and two little dark eyes peering intently over the back of the couch. At least if it's not here maybe they'll get to Monica first.

Monica looks up from the homework, leaning back in her chair. "Niki, that you?" she calls out. Why yes, she and Micah are related, why do you ask?

Cam, unlike Micah, and a lot more like Monica, hadn't gotten his homework done early. So he's off doing his, just finishing as Niki comes in. Of course, off in Micah's room so he can finish, he doesn't hear her come in, but does hear the call. Closing his book, he steps back out of the room, curiosity driving him.

"…Hey, Micah," The mom says as she heads slowly closer. Her sights catch on Monica over in the kitchen, and she turns a subdued smile on the both of them — and Cam, after the door opening draws a glance. "Yeah, it's me." Niki winds around the couch and sits on the edge, half a cushion away from Micah. There's something wrong. She's building up to something: the gravity of the situation is written all over her features. "Something's happened." Surprise, surprise. "It's D.L."

Monica puts the computer on save, rising up from her chair and moving to turn off the burner. Coming out into the living room, she folds her arms over her chest, frowning. "What happened?" She bites down on the urge to ask if he's in jail again.

Yay! It's his mom! Micah's face lights up and he starts to push himself up off the sofa, only to realize that she's on her way around to him. "Where's da…." he starts to ask, only to catch the look on her face. His face suddenly falls. The once light no longer there. "Is he….." Micah can't quite bring himself to way it. Slowly his little form starts to sink back into the couch. Did the day just go from ok to bad in seconds?

Ah. Cam bites his lip and just nods a bit, looking a bit relieved. He didn't like holding back secrets from his friend. Of course, even he gets this is a family moment, so he doesn't say anything to interrupt, and just tries to go unnoticed as he slips into the kitchen and gets himself a glass of water.

Niki instantly reaches out to lay a hand on Micah's arm, wrapping around his wrist. "He's okay," she's quick to reassure. "Okay" is a loose term, under the circumstances, but at least he's not dead. "But he's… he's not gonna be around, anymore." She shoots an almost wary look at Cam when the boy passes, no doubt remembering their earlier words. "…He was arrested."

"What happened?" At least Monica has the grace to ask that and not 'what did he do'? She shakes her head, moving further into the living room to watch Niki and Micah worriedly.

Deja Vu anyone? Haven't they been through this before? Wait. That was exactly opposite last time. At least he's 'okay' and Micah's face shows the relief at that news. But then…the bombshell. "What?!" Now he's quick to try and pull his hand back. "Why?! Dad didn't do anything wrong." At least not that he knows about. Maybe he did get into some trouble after he split on them and Isis. "Can we bail him out?"

Cam sits down on the floor in the kitchen, close enough to listen but out of line-of-sight of those talking. He's too curious to just go back in Micah's room where he wouldn't be able to hear. He's pretty good at being quiet, though, too, just sitting in near silence listening, occasionally taking drinks of water.

Niki flinches when Micah pulls away, but stays strong in order to explain. The fact that it takes effort for her to keep it perfectly together like this is clear enough. "No, baby. He has to stay in there for a long time." What happened? What happened is, D.L. told Niki to put it all on him and, as it turns out, the lie is harder than the truth. Looking away from everyone's gazes, all she says is, "The… worker from family services…"

Monica blinks a little bit. "Niki, it takes time a sentence to get passed, no matter what the crime. There's got to be a decent lawyer we can get who can work something out for us." She's further baffled. "There was a social worker?" Her head's been in her books, and semi-focused on her school friends. She feels guilty.

Micah's eyes start to glisten in the lighting of the living room. He's mere inches away from crying and it's coming up fast. "He can't! He has to take me to school in the mornings! He promised." Yeah, and now the first of many tears starts to roll down his cheek. At Monica's suggestion, his face wavers slightly between hope and despair as he turns back to glance at his mom. He doesn't mean to ignore Cam, knowing full well he's there…but…this…just has his attention at the moment. "Maybe I can get us enough money to get a lawyer who will get him freed."

Cam, of course, is perfectly happy to be ignored. Hearing your best friend (and that's what Micah's become, to Cam at least) getting such bad news isn't pleasant, but worse would be getting in the middle of something like this.

Niki shakes her head despondently at Monica with a certain insistency. "He was… on the news. He gave a full confession." Looking at Micah in this state flares pangs of hurt in her eyes, and the worry on her face, already high, just becomes etched in deeper. She slides closer, trying to reach an arm around him. It's hard to be comforting and the bearer of bad news all at once. "It's not about the money or the lawyers. We can try, but we can't get our hopes up. He wants to do his time." She looks to Monica. "The state wanted— " Wants, but one social worker at a time, here, " —to take Micah away from us."

Okay, one problem at a time. Monica can't do anything about what's happened to D.L. though she's compelled to ask, "What did he confess to?" Then belatedly she flicks her eyes down to Micah, and makes a hand motion: later. "Can they do that? He's got folks taking care of him and food and his own room and goes to school and he's healthy. Why would they do that?"
Ian has left.

"Because they don’t care!" Micah blurts out. Tears are now streaming down his face as he allows him mom to put her arm around him. His head leans in a bit towards Niki's shoulder. "We have to try. Something. Anything. If we don't they'll put him away for life." And life with Micah without his father is not going to be pretty.

Cam, from his position on the kitchen floor, just stares into space as he listens, holding his glass of water. He almost speaks up, when Monica asks that, but when Micah's blurted response carries his sentiment, he stays quiet, keeping himself from notice (he hopes) still.

"Because they don't understand our family," Niki answers after Micah chimes in, her voice carrying an underlying tone of bitterness not unlike her son's, protectively holding tighter around him. Her expression softens a moment later, thinking of Isis, and she looks to Monica, but— later. She'll explain later. Somehow. Even so, her expression, as it lingers on the younger woman, is grave; it's a serious charge D.L. is dealing with. On Micah's desperate suggestions, all she can do is hold him and kiss the side of his head. "I'm sorry," she whispers, "I'm so sorry."

"They can't take him away if he ain't here." Monica points out quietly. "We could send him to Nanna for a spell."

Holding himself tight to his mom, Micah tries his best to regain his composure. But, he's almost twelve now, and no one likes to see a twelve year old boy cry. Snuffling, he moves to pull himself back a bit. "I don't want to go to Nanna's." he states, the tone making it perfectly clear you can try…but he'll escape. "I want to be here to help my dad." A smile ever so slightly touches his face at the kiss to his head. "Trust me. I can fix this." Ever the confident one.

Cam blinks as Monica mentions sending Micah away. He does get up now, this time a lot closer to saying something when Micah states he doesn't want to go. Since he's up, and since Micah seems to be recovering, he doesn't retreat again, though still stays silent.

"We'll figure something out." Niki can't help but smile at Micah's heartening confidence, but it's short-lived. Looking down with sympathy that goes beyond all the emotion she has invested in this mess; it's her son she feels for the most. "Micah…" He should know that tone. It's the 'stop while you're ahead tone'. The 'this is just something we have to face' tone, not so optimistic. Niki looks to the figure of the other boy standing there now and just says softly, "Hey, Cam."

Monica looks slightly defensive, she was trying to help, and somehow came across as a villain. She notes Cam's presence with the absent frown that generally comes to her face when she sees him, this strange kid that Niki picked up seemingly (to her) at random. "Dinner's ready." she murmurs, and without further word, heads into the kitchen.

"Sorry, Monica." Micah apologizes, hoping she heard it before she disappears into the kitchen. He didn't mean to come across brash like that. It just…came out. And yes, he does know that tone all to well. There's a deep sigh and a nod towards Niki. "I know….stop while I'm ahead." But that's going to be easier said then done. Cam's rise is noticed and he managed a faint smile in his friends direction.

Cam looks up to Monica, then back towards Micah. He gives a slight smile in return, but mostly serious too. "Hey," he says to both Niki and Micah, though saying it softly still. He walks a little farther in, asking Micah, "You ok?"

Niki watches Monica head into the kitchen with a faint frown of her own. She's quiet before trying out a little optimism herself. It's a sad attempt, but it's… an attempt, a smile flickering across her lips. "It's not like you won't see him again," she points out. "I'll take you to visit."

There's soft clatter in the kitchen, Monica setting up bowls and forks and things for people to help themselves. Then she closes her laptop and gathers her paperwork. Returning to the living room, she gives them all a faint smile. "I'mma go upstairs to study." she says. "Though Niki, if you'd put the leftovers away after everyone's eaten, I'd thank you."

"I'll be ok." Micah answers, nodding towards Cam as he wipes the last bit of tears from his eyes. "And yeah, you can come and visit me any time." He'll leave it unsaid as to how Cam might come into possession of such funds for said trips. As Monica passes through, he tries to toss her an apologetic smile. "I'll clean it up. But I should go clean up for dinner first." Starting to stand, he leans to give his mom a hug. "We'll get through this." They always do. Then it's off towards the hallway and bathroom to get ready for dinner.

"Of course," Niki replies with a tired smile that, somehow, still manages to summon up some warmth for Monica. "We don't know if you're going anywhere just yet, Micah," she reminds after they break away from the hug. Sending her son away is not something she wants. After a moment's pause, pressing a hand against her forehead, sliding down over her eye, she gets to her feet. "You've been a trooper," she tells Cam on her way to the kitchen.

Cam nods a little to Micah, though looks a bit surprised at his interpretation of what Niki said. To Niki he says, explaining why he didn't answer, "Thought you meant take him to see his dad." When Micah goes to wash up he follows Niki towards the kitchen, and says, "Micah's my friend. Just… didn't know how to help. Always been scared of getting told that talk," he adds. Niki knows his father's career choice, after all. And he doesn't care if Monica hears on her way upstairs.

Yes, being rude or flippant or dismissive of the person in whose house you're staying is a great idea, kid. But Monica's actually paused at the foot of the stairs, and instead goes to the coatrack by the doorway, digging into one of her jacket pockets with her free hand until she comes up with her cellphone.

"I did," Niki answers, subdued, as she heads into the kitchen to set out the food made by Monica, after which she leans on the counter over of the sink. "But… it could mean what he meant, too," she adds, looking off to the direction Micah disappeared — which brings her gaze to Monica. Didn't she go upstairs? Niki has some explaining to do.

"…yeah, that'd be great, Ian. I'll see ya then." She hangs up and sticks her cell in her pocket, looking back to Niki. "Study date. Minus the date part." Not that it means much in light of their current family situation. After Micah's gone upstairs, and Cam's at least not obviously eavesdropping, she asks, "So what happened?"

Cam almost goes right to eat, but then pauses to wash his hands at the kitchen sink. He rarely remembers, but this time at least he did. He goes back to the table to start eating. He glances up to the two adults as Monica goes to talk to Niki, but focuses on his food when Monica looks to see if he's listening.

Niki moves aside to let Cam at the sink, but stays at the counter, clutching its edge. Monica’s question prompts a lengthy sigh. She doesn't answer, right away. It's a lot to answer. She just … stares down the countertop, until she moves to meet Monica. "I probably owe you a lot of explanation. After everything I brought into your house." And she's not just talking about Cam. She keeps her voice pitched low. "D.L. confessed to murdering that woman." That's not much of an explanation, but… one step at a time.

Monica's expression freezes. D.L. is many things, but he's not a murderer. "Why would he do that?" she asks, coming alongside Niki and looking at her dead on. "Confess to murdering that woman? He didn't, did he?"

*This* Cam's definitely staying out of. He just eats quietly, but quickly. He isn't obviously listening, though he's close enough there's no way he can avoid hearing even with the soft voices.

More silence from the blonde until she shakes her head ever-so-slightly. "D.L.'s not a murderer," she parallels her cousin's thoughts out-loud. She looks over her shoulder at Cam, then toward the hallway, and, in the end, straight at Monica. There's more she could say, but with certain little ears around…

Monica turns to follow Niki's glance and then lifts her brow as she regards the hallway. Beckoning Niki, she heads back to the kitchen - if Cam doesn't move fast, he'll be caught. He might not be able to avoid that, truthfully.

This time, Cam's not trying to hide, he's sitting at the table finishing his dinner where Niki set it out. He looks up as the two come into the kitchen, and says to Monica, "This spaghetti's awesome."

Coming to stand behind Monica, Niki folds her arms once she's at the entrance to the kitchen. She throws another glance to the hallway. If Micah's not out by now, he probably won't be.

"Thanks, Cam. That's cool of ya to say. Though if you're finished, you mind going ahead on up to your room? Or maybe go watch tv in the living room, or hang with Micah." Monica smiles apologetically. "I kinda have to talk to Niki. Grown up stuff."
Cam nods quickly to that and says, "Sure." He finishes a last mouthful, then picks up his drink and stands, making his way out to the living room. He'll watch TV a bit, to give Micah some privacy, before going back to the room they've been sharing.

Monica sits down at the kitchen table, beckons for Niki to join her. "So what happened?" she asks again, her gaze frank.

"Thanks, Cam." Niki gives the boy an appreciative smile, moving out of his way as he goes past. Now it's just the grown-ups in the small kitchen that doesn't feel quite as cozy as it should. The older of the two sinks into the seat that was meant for Micah; she gently slides away his neglected plate to make way for her elbows. She speaks slowly, carefully. "There was…" An accident. That word keeps getting used, but now, she hesitates to say it. "When the woman from family services told us they were going to take Micah… D.L. took off, and things got a little…" Niki glances away and takes a much-needed gulp of air.

Monica frowns. "D.L. took off and it started getting weird after he left?"

"You have to understand that D.L. … feels like this is something he has to do," Niki explains, first of all. "He wants to stay behind bars. He wants to take the blame for…" And her voice catches. When she looks back at Monica, there's a quick flash of fear, wondering when the other woman is going to put the pieces together. "We haven't been totally honest with you."

Monica leans back her head as if to regard Niki from afar - it's a gesture rather uncannily like Nanna Dawson. "Take the blame for who, Niki?" She doesn't raise her voice. "You keeping secrets? In the house we're trying to keep as a family?"

"I know, I'm…" Sorry. She doesn't say it, but the apology and guilt are written painfully over her face. "If you knew," Niki says, "You might not've wanted me here." With good reason. "You know… these things that we can do? Like how D.L. can walk through walls?"

Monica nods. "And you being strong, and my doing physical things, and Micah's computer wiz thing. I think it just runs in the family. I can think of a few super powers Nanna must have."

"Right." A smile appears but, like most of them tonight, it comes and goes. "There's something … wrong with mine," Niki explains slowly. "That's kind of how it was explained to me, anyway. Sometimes I'm not… in control."

Monica is a smart girl. "You killed that woman? And D.L. is taking the fall for you." Something less than a question, not quite a statement.

Niki was banking on that. At least it saves her from painstakingly laying down all the details. "I've been-getting better. But just for a second…" For a moment, blue eyes seek out the ceiling and she blinks rapidly a few times.

Monica casts a puzzled look at Niki. After all, she didn't define exactly how she's sick. "Niki?" she asks, lifting a hand as if to reach out and touch the tall blonde.

"…it's hard to explain," Niki says, once the moment's passed; she just has to take a second to keep it together. "It's like there's different … parts of me. And when they're in control, I'm not myself. You've met her. Jessica." Well, there you have it, Monica, your cousin is certifiable. "When the woman from Family Services came … I lost control. Just for that second."

Monica cocks her head. "Like multiple personality disorder?" she hazards. "There's therapy, Niki. And drugs…lots of things you could do to get better." She puts a hand to her mouth. "D.L. took the fall for you. Oh my god." It really hits, and she takes a step back. "How are we going to keep them from taking Micah?"

"I've tried everything. Hell, I've even tried … telepathy," Niki says the word unsurely. It's not exactly part of her everyday vocab. Quietly — and reflectively, almost to herself, she adds, "But there's … one more option." The blonde shakes her head with a sway of hair. "They might let him stay here if I don't live here, but I don't want to do that to you, Monica, make you look after Micah. It's just until it goes to court, but with my track record…"

Monica considers a moment. "For Micah? I'd make it work. He's almost thirteen and I trust him around the house…and we'd find a way for you to keep seeing him. I'd be terrified I'd screw him up or something, but I'd do it." There's a pause. "For family." There's a gentle emphasis there.

"You're incredible," Niki says with sincerity. "You've already done so much." For family. "Sometimes he seems a lot older than that. He's been through a lot. He … understands a lot."

Monica nods. "Well, I can kind of relate." she says. "I know what it's like to lose a parent, and even though this is bad, the two of you…" she trails off, doesn't finish. At least the two of you are still alive. Then, "What would be done about Cam?"

"A shelter. A foster home. They're trying to find him placement." Niki leans on the table and runs her hands through her hair before sitting up straight again. She looks, in a word, exhausted.

"We'll figure it out, Niki. We'll make it work." Monica promises. Somehow she will. Going to school, making enough money to send home to Nana, taking care of Micah, and saving the world.

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