The Time You Had

Participants:

hiro2_icon.gif micah_icon.gif niki2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Time You Had
Synopsis They say third time's the charm. Nobody talks about the fourth.
Date February 16, 2011

Clink.

"Does Tina intentionally want to look like a circus clown?"

Clatter.

"I mean… her eyebrows are like— They're scary!"

Splash.

Micah Sanders shouldn't be saying the things he is about one of his mother's best friends, but truth be told Tina Leonne does indeed wear enough makeup to be a contender for the three ring circus. Standing where he is on a milk crate by the sink, Micah towels off another dish, leaning over to stack them up in the metal rack, a fond smile spread across his lips as he looks over his shoulder to the small kitchenette table where his mother is sitting.

"I'm not really sure I dig the whole brunette thing either, I mean— on you." Wrinkling his nose, the young boy sets the dishcloth down, then reaches inside the sink for another plate, running it under the steaming hot water and scrubbing it down with the abrasive side of the dish sponge, soak lathered over his hands.

"You're really sure it's not a wig?" Laughter bubbles up as Micah pauses the scrubbing, looking back at his mother again with a lopsided smile. He's been so talkative since Niki had come home. Truth be told, she hadn't had much time to talk to him in a long time. Niki herself knows, she can feel, she can tell. Because Niki Sanders remembers where she was on this day in September.

She remembers what lengths she was willing to go through.

To protect her son.

He dies anyway.


Las Vegas, Nevada

September 31st

2006


"What? You don't think it makes me look smarter?" Niki quips, holding a strand of her dark hair out in front of her. She's managed not to cry, except when she shut herself into the bathroom for a few minutes while Micah worked on the dishes. Seeing her son again after all this time - him, as she remembers him, just before he was taken from her - is overwhelming, to say the least.

"And she's from Texas, what do you expect? They do everything big in Texas, and that means make-up application." The mother's smile grows brighter each time her son looks back at her. But in between glances, it's bittersweet. This can't last.

Unless…

"Do you wanna go on a road trip, baby?" There's money hidden in this house. A lot of it. And there's a classic Cadillac in her name. She can do it right this time.

"What?" It comes with a flutter of laughter and a slow shake of Micah's head. "Mom you know we can't afford that." Ever the pragmatist, Micah offers his mother a partonizing smile and roll of his eyes before he sets the dried plate down on the corner of the counter, hopping down from the milk crate afterward with a clap of sneakers on linoleum.

"I know we're having money trouble, you don't— You don't have to keep hiding it from me. I know you're… I know you've got a lot of other work you do," is a delicate way to put internet porn into perspective, "and I know things have been hard since dad— " Micah closes his eyes, shaking his head slowly as he walks up to his mother, hands tucking into the pockets of his jeans.

"I don't need a road trip," he explains with a raise of his brows. "All I need is you, and I've got that."

Niki shakes her head and pushes up from the table, only to duck down to balance out the difference in height. "I just came into some money. Enough for us to go do something fun. Together. Enough for you and I to just… Get away from this place, and never look back." Micah always knew better what was going on than Niki ever gave him credit for. It was easier for her to think that she was hiding the reality from her son. Made her feel like a better mother.

Does it make her a better mother if she steals her child away from herself, because she knows all the mistakes she's about to make?

"We could go to New Orleans. See Nana Dawson and cousin Monica? Or we could go to California, visit Canada…" Niki wraps her arms around Micah tightly. "We can go anywhere you want."

Uncomfortable in the embrace, Micah makes a noise in the back of his throat, then slips his arms from around her to lay a hand on her shoulder, easing himself out of her hug. "I want to see dad," is Micah's childish protest, brows furrowed and lips sagged down into a frown. "But— but I know I can't. I just… " Dark eyes wander to the floor, searching left and right before the boy looks back up to his mother. "I miss him, and…"

And…

And nothing.

"Jessica," comes from the other side of the room, and there in the doorway to the front of the house, a familiar and unwelcomed figure in black stands in expectant stance. Hiro Nakamura doesn't look like he wants to be here, hands tucked into the pockets of his vest, brows furrowed and eyes locked on where Niki stands near her son, his posture locked in a frozen moment in time.

"I gave you longer than I intended…" Hiro apologetically offers, his lips sagged down into a frown. "It's time to go home."

"I'm not Jessica." But she might be shortly. One hand reaches to grab hold firmly to Micah, even if he isn't aware of it. "I'm not leaving him. Not again. Either he comes with us, or you leave me here." As though those are the only two options.

"I've seen what happens when the timelines diverge." Rather than show her teeth like a big cat protecting her cub, she pleads. "He's my son, Hiro. You can't ask me to lose him again." Niki's wide eyes fill with tears. "You can't ask me to abandon him to that fate."

Hiro's brows furrow, head tilts to the side and a challenging expression crosses Hiro's face. He looks down to Micah, and Hiro's expression softens some, his shoulders rising and falling as he takes in a deep breath, then further exhales it, eyes falling shut. Booted feet clomp across the kitchen floor as he walks in, turning his attention to a soap bubble caught in mid-air, frozen in time just like Micah is.

When Hiro looks up to Niki, there is nothing but apology written in his soft features, from the frown he wears to what she can see in his eyes. It makes it even harder for him to say,

"I'm not asking."


The Ruins of Midtown

Deveaux Building Rooftop

February 16, 2011


The world changes around Niki in the blink of an eye. Gone is the warm weather of the southwest at the tail end of summer, replaced by the bitter cold of the northeast in the tail end of winter. Freezing cold wind whips across the demolished rooftop of the Deveaux building, whistling through the ornate stone arch flanked by damaged cherubs, one of them with a bullet scar at his midsection. Broken pieces of wood and chickenwire clutter the rooftop, and beyond its brick railing lies the decimated ruins of Middown spread out in every direction.

When the shock of the cold hits Niki, it's almost as jarring as the brief sensation of falling that comes with Hiro's teleportation and manipulation of time. A lone pigeon on the corner of the roof coos softly to Niki, his head quirking to the side and oil-slick coloration of his head shimmering multifaceted colors under dim afternoon sunlight.

Hiro wasn't asking, he was telling.

Hiro wasn't asking, he was telling.

"No!" Rage does a lot to help Niki force herself to get her barings. She grabs hold of Hiro's coat in her fists, giving him a sound shake. "Bring him back. Bring him back!"

A choked sob, a mournful wail pierces the sound of whipping wind over the Deveaux Building. When she notices her hands glowing, she shoves Hiro away for his own safety, staring down at herself as she backs up until her spine connects with one of the cherub statues. Niki sucks down deep breaths, trying to control her unfamiliar ability. "When are we?" She can only assume the present, whenever that is now as Hiro sees it. "Where's Peter?" For whatever reason, she half expected to find him upon her return. Selfishly.

Tense beneath the assault of Niki's presence, Hiro remains wooden in appearance through her intimidating closeness. It's only in distance that he seems sympathetic again, dark eyes watching her hands without recognition, with apparent confusion. Swallowing tensely, Hiro takes a step back and breathes in deeply, then exhales another sigh, looking around the ruins.

"After we left," is as sure of when they are as Hiro can get. "Peter is elsewheres, fighting his own battles. He asked me not to tell you where he is. He— " Hiro looks out to the ruins of Midtown, then back out to Niki. "Didn't want you to follow him where he was going." Curving his lips down into a frown, Hiro's brows tense, and then relax as he looks away, back out to the blasted cityscape and eviscerated skyline.

"I'm sorry," sounds like a lousy thing to say, but it's the best Hiro can manage.

Glistening grey eyes shut tightly and the red-blue emissions from her hands ebb away finally. Niki turns her gaze back up to Hiro. She should say thank you, for giving her that last time with her son. She doesn't feel thankful, however. She feels like her son's died all over again. The loss is fresh and renewed with each failed attempt to reclaim him.

"You're sorry," she echoes instead. A wet sniffle serves as a secondary response. "Do you even really know what it's like to lose someone? You can keep going back infinitely. Stealing moments with the people you care about." At least, that's how Niki would use Hiro's power. It's selfish.

"I know," is Hiro's rebuke, muted and small. "You are not unique in your suffering, in being at fault for the death of someone you love." Or at the very least, taking the blame for it. Hiro turns away from Niki, walking to the edge of the roof, resting his hands on the railing with his dark eyes narrowed, breathing in through his nose before coughing, lifting a hand up to wipe at his upper lip with a gloved finger, smudging something away before turning back to look at Niki.

"Be thankful for the time you had," Hiro explains in a hushed tone of voice, worry evident in his features. "If nothing else, you will always have him in your heart." Dark eyes turn back out to the ruins of Midtown, and Hiro's throat works up and down into a tight swallow.

He says no farewell, but all the same one moment Hiro Nakamura is there, the next he's gone.

And Niki is alone.


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