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[personal profile] nell65
Title: Balance Requires Motion
Fandom: La Femme Nikita
Pairing: Michael Samuelle/Nikita Wirth
Characters: Michael Samuelle, Adam Samuelle, Nikita Wirth, OCs
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Post Series Fic
Length: 40,300 words
Chapter: 9a*/9
Summary: "When Michael first saw Nikita standing on his front porch, his whole world splintered and then, between one step and the next, remade itself."

Part 1, Living the Normal Life, can be found here.

Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 1
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 2
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 3
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 4
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 5
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 6
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 7
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 8


*This chapter was just slightly too long for one lj window, so I broke it into two parts.



*****

The summer ended in a blaze of red and gold leaves that were pounded flat and brown by a series of thunderstorms throughout October. Nikita decided that she had never been so cold in her life as she was sitting on the sidelines, watching high school soccer in the rain that was rain only because it was just barely too warm for it to be snow. Adam’s team did better this year, making it to the semi-finals. Adam himself had a strong enough junior-year that his coach started talking about the possibility of Adam being recruited to play for a college team next autumn, after his senior season. Sometime that fall, watching them standing together on the sidelines, she also realized that Adam was now as tall as Michael, which surprised her a bit, though she didn’t know why it should.

Nikita cautiously proposed joining them at mass some Sundays, but Adam pointed out that he and Michael had virtually quit attending the winter before due to weekend competitions, and he said he didn’t really miss it.

Nikita was taking two more university courses, not so much working toward anything as exploring things she had never had the time to explore before. This semester it was another women’s studies class and, branching out, an introductory course in geology. The Section had provided a thorough education in the things they cared about, but as they had cared about neither the structures of oppression nor about natural science, Nikita had learned little of either, and she was discovering that both fascinated her.

Through the women’s studies department she also started volunteering at a local women’s shelter. If, as she told Michael, she wasn’t saving the world anymore, it filled part of that void to make a difference, one desperate woman at a time.

To make up for blowing off his own birthday the previous year, Adam and his friend Charlie begged to have a large, joint seventeenth birthday celebration. They proposed holding it on Halloween, as a costume party. Nikita and Michael and Charlie’s parents, Dan and Shelia, took a deep breath, metaphorically gripped each other’s hands, and said yes.

The night of the party Nikita felt like she had accidentally fallen into a Hollywood movie about idealized teenaged life, the kind she had watched with both longing and contempt when she was a teen. There was a live band made up of friends from Adam’s high school doing passable covers of current music, and pretty good covers of punk classics. Because Charlie and Adam had always gone to different schools, between them there were dozens of teenaged guests, costumed in a dizzying array of monsters and ghouls and superheroes, flushed and sweaty, dancing to the music and flirting with each other. Though there was no booze beyond the more brazen guests who showed up already buzzed, the guests seemed quite happy with the snacks, soda and the vast birthday cake they did have. Adam wore an Aladdin costume complete with fake sword and gold earrings and Erin chose to dress up as the beer icon, St. Pauli’s Girl, assuming St. Pauli’s Girl wore size eleven Doc Martens. When Nikita raised her eyebrows at them, they laughed and said they had tried it the other way, Adam in lederhosen and Erin as a belly dancer, but they liked this better.

Their ‘charity deer hunt’ of the previous November had lodged in Adam’s imagination, and this year he pulled in Charlie and his brother and sister as well. That week they carried six deer to the processing center. Erin also came along on the trip, though she refused to hunt herself.

Once the snow season began, Nikita felt as though their lives more or less permanently re-located to the local ski lodge. Erin and Adam were both competing with their high school and the local club teams. Erin started stretching out her leads over the regional competition even further, while Adam had improved so much that when he broke his snowboard landing a particularly exciting maneuver, the snowboard factory rep at the competition walked over and offered to supply him with new equipment on the spot. Though Michael would have preferred Adam not draw attention to himself that way, Nikita pointed out that once the offer had been made, turning it down was as problematic as accepting it, so Adam might as well have the pleasure of the earned recognition.

Because they would not be able to have the same kind of vacation with Robby along, Nikita and Michael decided to let Adam go on the winter trip west to train without them. Instead they spent the time playing with Robby, who at eight months old was laughing and burbling baby-syllables and sitting and crawling and wanting to stand up holding onto anyone’s hands. He was also still completely bald, and his eyes had stayed bright blue. At first, Nikita tried not to sit around with a fatuous grin as she watched Michael play with Robby, but then she decided that she had survived unbelievable odds to get here, and if she wanted to curl up in a chair in front of the fire and watch Michael with their baby, that was absolutely her prerogative.

In January, Nikita offered to redesign the website for the women’s resources center, and she started two more courses at the University, this time both in natural sciences. She sometimes toyed with the possibility of actually committing to the program in environmental science, but told herself she had time to do that later if she wanted to.

Spending so much time at the ski lodge, Nikita renewed her casual friendships with the women she had met there the year before. Drifting through their orbits, even with her cover firmly anchored in Robby’s squirming little body, left Nikita feeling splintered and volatile. Working at the shelter, helping frightened women struggling to remake their lives and protect their children was a familiar environment. Between her own childhood and her years at the Section, she felt oddly relaxed among desperate, angry people. It was the easy comfort and security her skiing friends enjoyed that made her feel dizzy and out-of-balance, trapped in the dissonance between what she was before and what she was now. She had never in her life spent much time with people like the women she skied with, people who never worried about having enough food or a safe place to eat it. People whose daily concerns were many safe steps removed from worries about shelter, or security, or simply staying alive another day. Now that she occupied the same place, she found herself struggling with guilt over her own security in the face of the precarious lives endured by so many.

Her nagging disquiet with her apparent uselessness in the world had the bizarre consequence of bringing her and Michael still closer together. When she told him about her uneasiness with her own safety and comfort, Michael responded by talking freely with her, for their first time in their lives, about his own politics. It was a part of himself he had walled off so completely to survive in the Section that she had never had the chance to see how deep or radical his convictions really were. She finally understood now, how having known him, or of him, when he was young, people as diverse as Rene, Satin or Grenet simply could not believe he had really turned his back on his former self. They talked, and argued, and debated radical politics so much that Nikita started reading on the sly so she could hold her own, and Adam started begging them to please, please get through an evening without mentioning the word ‘capitalism.’ Since energetic intellectual engagement seemed to have a strong correlation with energetic, engaged sex, they had trouble respecting his request.

Adam managed to qualify for the national snowboard tournament in his age group – at the bottom of the Midwestern team, but qualify he did – and so he and Erin spent most of March and early April traveling. Because Michael’s schedule was the most flexible, he undertook the bulk of the chaperoning, driving, hauling, and waiting. Erin’s parents flew out to catch her major races and Nikita and Robby tagged along to watch and ring cowbells for Adam at the snowboard junior nationals.

In mid April, Robby turned one and celebrated by walking across the living room, from his father’s hands to his brother’s.

That night, after she rocked Robby to sleep as she always did, she stayed rocking for a long time, unwilling to relinquish his sleep-heavy, sweet-smelling body to his crib. She rocked so long Michael eventually came looking for her, appearing as a shadowed outline in the darkened door. Resting her cheek against Robby’s head, she said quietly, “This has been the best year of my life. Thank you.”

“You did all the hard parts.”

Nikita kissed Robby, then rose and put him to bed. Joining Michael in the hall, she took his hands in her own and leaned in to press a gentle kiss on his lips. Resting her cheek against his, she said, “I never would have had the chance, if you hadn’t made a home for me.” Tugging him back downstairs, she grinned at him and bumped him gently with her shoulder as they went. “Anyway, it hasn’t felt hard. Robby is an easy baby, at least if the other moms at toddler time are to be believed!”

Michael pulled her close and kissed her temple. “You like being a mom. It makes you happy.”

Nikita leaned into his embrace and kissed him back. “I do. And, it does.”

He brushed her eyebrow with his fingers, his gaze never leaving hers. “That’s all that matters.”

Adam and Erin marked prom season by getting matching shoulder tattoos, which was not quite what Nikita had envisioned when they said they were going to the mall to go shopping for something to wear. She didn’t tell them she thought it was more giddily romantic than any organdy dress, even if the tats themselves were pretty fierce. Then they went to a movie, instead of to the dance. They also wanted to go camping again over Memorial Day. Michael and Nikita agreed to let them go completely without supervision as long as the group stayed small. Nikita knew Michael was sorely tempted to go check on them anyway, but she reminded him that Adam was seventeen and a half years old, quite old enough, among other things, to be tried as an adult for certain felonies and to be recruited to the Section for crimes, committed or alleged. Then she kissed him, and pulled him back to bed. Not that Michael protested.

*****

Long afterward, Michael wondered if they all had known somehow that it would be the last one. For all of them, that summer felt nearly magical, as though it were drenched in golden light all the time, even on rainy days.

All the proper elements of a perfect northern summer were present: barbeques, kite flying and picnics; sailboat races, fishing, and outdoor music festivals. They even took a ten-day canoe and camping trip in the wilderness recreation area that sprawled over the border between Canada and Minnesota. Nikita offered to stay behind, and let Michael and Adam go alone, but Adam earnestly assured them that he wanted her and Robby both to come. Michael suspected that Nikita and Robby probably provided sufficient cover for Erin to be invited too, and it turned out he was right. Not that he minded. He liked to camp, and he liked camping with Nikita, and it would have been hard to be away from Robby for so long.

Robby was starting to talk and to run, and had fallen in love with throwing balls for others to retrieve. He would trail through the house and the yard, hard on his brother’s heels, ball in hand, begging Adam to play with him.

And Adam would laugh and scoop him up and toss him, shrieking with delight, high into the air, and play ball with him. And Michael would want desperately to freeze each moment in time, so that he could stay there forever, watching the sons he had never thought he would have roll laughing in the grass in the high clear light of the long northern summer evenings.

Because Adam was still working for Michael, playing soccer and spending time with his friends and with Erin, they saw him only sporadically outside of planned events like the weekly sailing races or their trip to the boundary waters. Most days it was just Michael and Nikita and Robby. They spent many of their evenings pushing baby swings and walking or jogging in the local parks, talking about what they might do after Adam left for college.

Pulling a rock out of Robbie’s hands before he put it in his mouth as he played in the large sand box, Nikita said, “I see all these places where I know, given my experiences,” here she shot Michael a laughing look, “I could make a huge difference just by running things more effectively and efficiently.”

“But?”

“But that isn’t very consistent with keeping a low profile.”

“No.”

“I know why you chose house painting, over, say, computer consulting or something like that.”

“Yes.”

“Of course,” and here her glance was sharp and appraising, “Ten years in and you are bored out of your mind.”

Michael laughed then, because it was true, and something he had started trying to resolve on his own. “Yes.”

“So, what the hell should we do with ourselves for the next twenty years?”

Michael pushed the toy truck back toward Robby with his toe. “I still don’t know.”

“I thought for a while about art, sculpture maybe, but I seem to have lost my interest in that. I thought about organic farming…” she looked at him out of the corner of her eye, then burst out laughing. “Yeah. That’s the look of horror I thought I would see!”

“How do you feel about sailing around the world?” He asked.

She cocked her head. “Are you being serious?”

“I think so.”

“Adam?’

“Is very ready to be more on his own.”

“So,” Nikita slid closer to him. “Your idea is just you and me, the baby, and the deep blue sea?”

Michael smiled, sailing already in the happiness in her eyes. “Yes.”

She leaned in to kiss him, breathing, “nice!” just before her lips met his.

*****

After a summer like that, fall could not help but be a time of change. Erin was invited to join one of the elite ski clubs out west, and finish her final year of high school while training intensively with top coaches. She left for Colorado just before Labor Day. Michael did not ask, but Adam offered that he and Erin had decided to end their relationship and stay friends, rather than try to continue as they had before but at a distance.

Joe Knutsen passed away in early September, after a short battle with prostate cancer. Adam served at the alter as an acolyte for the last time, and Michael cried at the first funeral mass he had attended since the one for his parents. After that, Michael invited Geoff to buy in as a partner and he spent even less time working. Instead he spent time at home with Robby and Nikita, and reading, and thinking. He began to revise and update their plans for how they might leave Minnesota permanently, and without causing distress or dangerous curiosity among their many friends. He started running longer distances and working out more often, with Nikita and alone, trying to find clarity through physical exertion.

Adam had an excellent soccer season personally, but to Adam’s frustration his team was struggling. His coach had proven accurate, though, in his feeling that Adam would have college recruiters from around the state wanting to talk with them about playing at the next level.

In early October, after their third coffee meeting with a college coach in as many days, when Adam had taken off to catch up on his schoolwork, Michael looked at Nikita, who was scowling and absently tapping a pencil against the paper in front of her, and said, “you feel it too?”

She put the pencil down and looked up, faint relief in her eyes. “Yes.”

“Anything other than feeling?”

“No.” She shrugged in frustration. “And I’ve been looking.”

He shared her frustration. He could find nothing out of place, despite discretely rigorous searching, but he felt the crosshairs on them all the same. “Me too.”

She took his hand and squeezed tightly and met his gaze. “It’s time to go.”

He squeezed back. “Yes. I think it is.”

She asked, “When?”

“Sooner is better.”

She offered, “Thanksgiving would be a nice window.”

“That gives us almost seven weeks.”

She frowned. “Too long?”

Michael shook his head. “I think anything much sooner would be too fast, but that’s the outside limit.”

“I agree. When do we tell Adam?”

“As soon as the soccer season ends? On his birthday?”

Nikita shook her head. “That’s a rough way to turn eighteen. Happy Birthday. Say good bye to your life.”

“We could wait to the last minute.”

“I think that’s unfair to him.”

“The end of soccer season then.”

Over the years Michael had stashed a half dozen cars in various locations in a grid surrounding the city, all fully stocked with hidden cash, IDs, passports, and weapons. With Nikita’s help, they began to move them into the most likely locations. They also worked out their cover stories and made arrangements for postcards and email messages from Australia to arrive for their closest friends at suitable intervals until they trickled out.

By himself, Michael prepared the paperwork to shift the boat and the house and everything in it to the company’s ownership, and in turn for the company to go to Geoff in its entirety after the New Year. He also left a letter for Geoff, explaining that because Geoff would have to pay all the legal fees and take a fairly substantial tax hit as a result of all the new titles, he owed Michael nothing further.

Michael and Nikita’s workouts at the dojo picked up steadily in intensity and frequency, and they worked out more at home as well. When friends commented on it, Michael and Nikita laughingly pointed to their looming birthdays. Michael would be fifty and Nikita would be forty soon, and they swore that this was the reason for them both to be focusing on fitness and strength training. Their friends laughed too, and nodded in sympathetic understanding. Fitness was a side benefit it was true, but it was mostly about stress management, and they were honest with each other about that.

Their sex life also changed again. Their first excitement at being back together, and then in Nikita’s pregnant body, slid slowly into the comfort and amazed satisfaction of actually living together every day. They had finally had the time to be playful, and to explore fantasies that their lives in the Section had given them plenty of time to imagine but no opportunity to realize. Over the summer, their lovemaking had been especially languid and slow; teasing and tempting and holding each other at the edge for as long as possible. It was part and parcel of the whole feeling of existing inside a protected golden haze, and they had reveled in time and the belief that they really had years ahead to share together. With the fall, and their growing anxiety over being watched, an old, familiar desperation and intense desire re-entered their sex life. They fucked more often, and it was harder, faster, and more explosive, for both of them.

Being with Robby was one of the few things that could make Michael feel calmer, but Robby picked up on the underlying tension and his next round of teething was grim for everyone, especially because he managed to catch a cold that turned into an ear infection. This resulted in a cranky, feverish, clinging, snot-filled toddler who cried more than he laughed.

*****
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