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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: 9b*/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
Balance Requires Motion, Chapter 9a


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



*****

Adam was more glad than usual that his dad was unfailingly on time to pick him up after practice. It had been another weird day. He had tried to shrug off the feeling that his skin was too tight and his routines too small as an early case of senior-itis, or missing Erin, or both, but he didn’t believe himself any longer. Or, at least, he didn’t entirely believe himself. He could see that most of his friends were beginning to be restless, talking about colleges and SATs, but they were also excited about stuff happening right now, at school.

But Adam was not interested in school at all these days, except that his friends were there and he had to be there too, to stay on the soccer team. He couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for talking about college with anyone, not even prospective coaches. He had grown up in the shadow of the University of Minnesota, and had no desire to go there, but no place else he had thought about had appealed to him either. Also, though it had taken him a while to notice, his dad and Nikita had abruptly stopped talking about colleges about ten days ago, best he could remember, when it had been a regular topic before that. Then today, Jon and Paul were all about the SAT prep class the three of them were supposed to take soon and Adam realized he had forgotten all about it. But, for all that, he didn’t think the feeling was really about college.

As they pulled out of the parking lot, Adam said, “Dad? Do you ever get the feeling that something’s just not right with somebody, but you don’t know what, exactly?”

“Why do you ask?”

Adam sighed, but plunged on, not wanting to be distracted today by his father’s always-irritating question. “This is going to sound really weird, I know, but it’s about this new girl. Just, things about her feel, off.”

He fell silent.

His dad said, “Tell me more.”

“She’s just, odd.” Adam waved his hand in the air, trying to explain a feeling without words. “Maybe she’s just really awkward, I mean, she makes everyone a little twitchy. She crowds us. She hangs out waiting to be included just that little bit too long. She doesn’t get the hint no one likes her enough to want her hanging with us.”

Adam frowned, now that he’d said it out loud like that, it sounded silly. But he had not really gotten to the worst of it either. He went on, “For a while she’s been trying to get me to go places alone with her. You know, like a coffee shop to do homework. She always makes this big deal, that ‘its not a date or anything’.” Adam rolled his eyes. “Like, she thinks I’m stupid or something.”

“She could just be really awkward about expressing her interest in you.”

“She’s Goth, dad. Usually those girls are pretty straight up.”

His dad didn’t say anything, so after a pause, Adam went on. “And even if she is awkward, it’s getting weird, that no matter how often I shoot her down, she comes bouncing back the next day like it never happened.” Adam shook his head in frustration. “Some of the guys on the team have started calling her my little fan girl, which is just gross, you know?”

“Well, stay with what you’re doing; be polite but distant.”

“I can’t get more distant without ditching school!” He heard his voice rise with frustration and consciously modulated it back down. “I already think about where she might be so I can make sure to be somewhere else. I’ve actually got Jon and Paul and Lily acting as lookouts so I’ll know when she’s coming and I can cut and run before she finds me.”

“Go on.”

“So, I guess, my question is, could I have actually picked up some kind of freaky stalker chick? And, if I have, what do I do now?”

“That is one possibility.”

His dad fell silent and Adam risked a sideways glance. His dad’s face was expressionless as he said, “There is another explanation.”

Adam tried to sound cool, like he hadn’t already thought of this, every time stalker-girl asked him a prying question about his dad, or Nicole, or Robby, or after he had noticed that she watched practices, but never came to the games. “What?”

“We’ve been found.”

Adam’s heart started pounding very fast, and he had to struggle to take a deep breath.

His dad asked, “Do you think you could arrange to have this girl come along with your whole group, someplace public and busy, so that Nicole and I could get a good look at her?”

Adam was silent for a long time. All the sounds of the car, including the fan belt that had started to rattle a bit, the hiss of the tires on the road, the faint rumbling as his dad stepped on the gas as each light turned green, the clicking of the turn signal, the rushing of the cars next to them, filled his head until they were all drowned out by the sound of his own pulse hammering in his ears. Eventually, he said, “Okay. I can do that. And her name is Anne.”

It took another ten days for Adam to arrange it, because soccer playoffs took precedence. The team went to the semi finals again, and lost again, and Adam had to spend several days stomping around in a black mood before he could focus on anything else. It seemed majestically unfair to him that he should have the best season of his life the year after the top scorers had graduated.

Once he was ready, it was scary-easy to set up – Anne was so pathetically eager to be included. Adam even figured out how to maneuver his friend Katie into actually doing the organizing while Anne was, as usual, hanging uninvited around their lunch table. She was part of it simply by being there at the time the plans were made.

******

Once they finally had a chance to observe Adam and his friends plus the new girl, Anne, Nikita was not sure if she and Michael had learned anything concrete at all. Anne really could have been merely a socially awkward girl; new to the school, trying to latch on to a stable group of friends, and with a powerful crush on Adam she didn’t know how to control. Or she could have been a youngish operative trying to fit into a foreign environment and get close to her target.

Afterwards, the four them, Adam, Nikita, and Michael carrying Robby in a backpack, took a long Sunday hike and went over Adam’s whole experience with the new girl, and then everything else since the start of school that had led to him feeling ‘something was off.’ Then Michael and Nikita in turn laid out what they had seen and felt. Individually, all their stories added up to maybe nothing at all. Put together, Nikita saw the outlines of a distressingly familiar pattern.

She said, “They’re trying really hard not to spook us. I think they must have found us toward the end of the summer, and now they’re just gathering intel. Trying to determine the strength and extent of our network.”

“Yes.” Michael agreed. “They could have attempted to bring us in if that’s all they wanted.”

Adam asked, “So, what do we do?”

They told him.

“Just like that? Bam? I lose everything just because some pathetic wanna-be Goth girl gives me a weird vibe?”

“It isn’t the only reason. You’ve just heard all the rest,” Michael said.

“What if it’s all really nothing? What if we’re just imagining it? Why should we run out on my life because you guys say so?”

Michael replied, “That’s why we aren’t running right this minute. We won’t abandon what we have unless we’re certain we must.”

Nikita added, “I’m going to try to find out more about this girl, Anne, and I think I have some better ideas now about where else to look for watchers. Michael is going to finish setting up the details of our exit, and you’re going to keep going to school like nothing has changed.”

Adam glared at her. “You don’t believe that this is nothing. You had already made up your minds even before you spied on us, and I didn’t get a vote, did I? So, why don’t we just head out to go deer hunting week after next, and not come back, and stop pretending?”

Michael said, “I need a little more time to finish making arrangements here, so our friends don’t do anything foolish to look for us. And,” Michael hesitated for the briefest of moments, then continued, “we need to talk about what you should tell Erin so she won’t expect to see you again.”

Adam paled and his eyes went wide and dark with shock as he turned to stare at Michael. “Erin?”

Nikita had been steeling herself for this one for weeks, but it still hurt like hell when she said, “Yes. I’m sorry Adam, but for her safety as well as ours, you have to cut all contact with Erin too.”

Nikita nearly cried herself when Adam’s eyes filmed with sudden tears. She touched his sleeve. “You don’t have to lie to her. Because she already knows about what happened when you were little, you can tell her a story that’s mostly true. She won’t panic when she doesn’t hear from you anymore. She’ll understand why we have to go.”

Once she was alone, Nikita indulged in bouts of angry panic, livid that the Section should be targeting Adam, and not her and Michael. Terrified by the way the setup reeked of recruitment, and furious that it would cost Adam everything he knew for them to snatch him free from the net drawing close around him.

She finished her sprint, blew the hair off her cheeks and snarled, “I hate the way they act like they’re running some sort of feudal kingdom, right down to their obsession with oracles and blood lines and missing heirs.”

Michael, running behind her with Robby in the jogging stroller, caught up with her and shrugged. “They came into existence to maintain and expand the European empires. Of course they are feudal.”

Nikita was in no mood to be dragged into anarchist critique of the Sections today, though she knew it would probably make Michael feel better. She was worried about Adam, and that’s what she wanted to talk about. “Adam already has skills and potential they would exploit to the fullest. But to help him stay free, we increase the chances he would thrive inside. By running, we actually make him even more appealing. Because we will have trained him.”

She knew she was saying it aloud because she was too frustrated to keep silent, not because she thought Michael had not already realized all this himself.

“Yes.”

“God damn it.” She glared at him, willing him to express some of his own anger and fear. Of course he did not. He had gone completely stone-faced again. She reminded herself once more that this was how he had performed best, while at his peak as a field operative. So instead, she offered, “Three falls out of five at the dojo tonight?”

He smiled, briefly and without humor. “Yes.”

Adam kept his eighteenth birthday celebration low key, inviting a group of his closest friends, both boys and girls, over to supper and an overnight party built around their favorite computer games. Nikita gathered Anne had tried to wrangle an invitation, but had been firmly, and possibly rudely, shut down.

The night after his party, over dinner, Nikita and Michael gave Adam their gift, his first handgun. Nikita had refused to wrap it in festive paper, remembering all too painfully her own ‘gift’ of a gun from Michael on her first, terrifying mission. Her heart felt like it was squeezing in half as Adam accepted the case from Michael, but he was not her, and his situation was not the same. Adam looked a little grim and a little sad, but he was not shocked. And, of course, there was no immediate mission where he would risk death on an empty stomach. When she stole a glance at Michael she was even more surprised, for instead of looking sad and guilty, as she had expected, he looked fiercely satisfied.

Adam had not wanted to go deer hunting at all, but was willing to be convinced that they needed to stick with their normal routines. Nikita pointed out that she hadn’t quit her classes either, even though she obviously wasn’t going to be able to finish them, because that would be a giant sign of their impending exit. Which reminded her, he needed to keep his grades up to his previous high standards for the same reason.

*****

The weeks of November sped past and, for Michael, the dominant mood at their house was a curiously heady mix of self-conscious melancholy and barely suppressed excitement. The melancholy Michael understood. They were getting ready to abandon a life more than a decade in the making, and it had been a good one, for Adam, for him, and though for a shorter time, for Nikita and Robby too. It was also in part a result of November in Minnesota, grey skies, leafless trees, faint snow flurries that dusted and melted, carrying no promise of the deep white of full winter. And as the fall ended, so too was their time in St. Paul. Michael knew it was impossible to avoid a certain romantic sadness at the inevitability of change, no matter how clichéd.

At the same time, Michael recognized that they were all energized by the changes that were coming, even and maybe especially himself. They had all of them outgrown the snug haven he had built for Adam’s childhood. He had been looking forward to leaving Minnesota for some time, and while he could wish they were leaving on their own schedule and not in flight, he was ready to go even as he knew intimately the price of what he was leaving behind. Nikita had found a safe harbor to have a baby, but since then had constructed no real place for herself in their life in St. Paul, and she was as eager as Michael was for the freedom to create something new, something that included her and Robby from the beginning.

As for Adam, he had been straining against the boundaries of their lives even before Erin was invited west. In the months since he had started his senior year in high school, he had changed again. Michael thought it was like watching him shed another skin. The last of the adolescent softness faded away from his face, and Michael knew, looking at him, that he was finally seeing Adam as he would be for many years to come. Adam was also reaching new levels of comfort and control in his body. While he certainly still made plenty of noise, especially when he was with his friends, when they were alone Adam had begun to move quietly and fluidly in the world, reaching the point where he could actually startle Michael and Nikita by appearing before they heard him, accustomed as they had been to always knowing where he was merely by the sounds of his progress through space.

Unhappily, Michael discovered he could not dwell for long on the tremendous pride he had in Adam because it rapidly devolved into recognition of just how valuable Adam could be to the Section. That way led to rage and panic, neither of which was useful in their current profile.

After recovering from the initial shock, this new, rapidly maturing Adam was more than willing to throw himself into whatever task they set for him. Unfortunately, as far as Adam was concerned, what they wanted him to do was continue to behave as if his high school and his teammates and his classes and his friends remained the center of his world.

Then Michael and Nikita asked him to make some small gestures toward warming up to Anne, to give her a small taste of success and a reason for the Section to leave the situation as it was.

“How the hell do I do that?”

Nikita smirked at Michael and said, “ask your dad.”

Michael held her gaze until her cheeks flushed and then he said, “You’re as good at it as I am.”

“Hey. Guys.” Adam snapped his fingers at them. “My life. Focus!”

The only time they faced any resistance at all was when Adam flatly refused to attend the first meetings of the ski and snowboard team and the ski club.

Adam glared at Michael as he repeated himself for the third time. “I won’t be here to board, and the hill won’t even be open before Thanksgiving, it’s been too warm this fall. Why should I waste my time?”

“Because it looks like you think you won’t be here to board, which is a giant flag for your watcher.” Michael was getting tired of repeating himself as well.

“Fine.” Adam threw up his hands. “I’ll tell everybody it’s because I don’t want to compete without Erin around.”

“And why would anyone watching believe you? Your non-existent despondence over her leaving?”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You haven’t had any trouble ‘hooking up’,” Michael made sure Adam heard the quotation marks he put around the phrase, “with a several partners since Erin left. Why would anyone believe that her absence makes snowboarding too difficult for you?”

Adam looked both shocked and infuriated. “How the fuck do you know that?”

“I’ve been watching the people who are watching you.”

“Jesus! Dad! I thought the whole point of not being caught by your old organization was so that I could have a life of my own! If you’re going to be spying on my every move, what the fuck difference does it make?”

Nikita intervened before Michael could speak, which was a relief because he did not know what to say. “The difference between being watched by your father and being watched by the Section is the difference between being watched by someone who cares for you and being watched by something that believes it owns you. Our old organization will watch and record every private moment of your life so as to learn how best to manipulate and tear you down so you will carry out every despicable task they give you.”

Adam narrowed his eyes. “You were in charge, right? How bad could it be?”

Nikita’s expression changed. Her usually generous mouth flattened and the warmth in her eyes drained away. She reached out and jerked Adam by his jacket until his face was inches from hers. Her voice dropped even below her normal husky register and in it, Michael could hear the sound of breaking bones and splitting flesh. “If my choice was to strip you down to nothing more than a tool in my hand, or allow a slave ring to continue to operate out of a refugee camp, I would bend you until you broke. And I was the good Operations.”

Michael wasn’t sure what Adam saw in Nikita’s face as she held his stare, but he saw his shoulders slump when he capitulated. She tossed him back and Adam staggered against a park bench to catch his balance. Once he was on his feet again, he shook his collar back into shape and fastened his gaze on the horizon. “Okay. I’ll go to the meetings.”

Nikita sighed, and Michael watched the black shadows of the past settle into her eyes, even as her expression relaxed. She said, “It sucks for you, that we are who we are. We know that, and we can’t change it. All we can do is make the best of what we have.”

That night Michael and Nikita both had trouble sleeping, and so they made love for a long, long time.

Erin got home day before Thanksgiving, and Adam took her out to tell her he was leaving. He did not come back to the house until the next morning, and Michael and Nikita did not ask him where he had been.

They had already packed the truck with their gear, and dropped the now quite elderly dogs off with Geoff and Allison, promising to see them the following weekend, after their extended college visitation trip with Adam. They left as soon as Adam showered and ate breakfast.

They drove out of St. Paul, headed for Chicago. They confirmed their tail, as expected, about thirty miles south of Minneapolis. At the next big gas station, Michael and Nikita got out of the truck, told Adam to keep driving until he heard from them, handed him a new cell phone, advised him to wait to shoot anyone who tried to stop him until they were close enough to hit with certainty, and headed for a car they had stashed there earlier. Adam was pale, but nodded, and drove off with Robby without a word.

Michael and Nikita caught up with Adam just outside Madison, Wisconsin, where they changed cars again. Adam asked, “What happened?”

Nikita answered from the back seat, where she was sitting with her hand on Robby’s leg as he slept in his carseat. Michael knew, as he watched her thumb gently stroking Robby’s overalls, that she could not bear to stop touching him, reassuring herself that for now, they were still together. She answered Adam. “We met up with them. It was Anne, and a partner.”

“Where are they now?” Adam asked.

Michael, who was driving again, said, “They aren’t following us anymore.”

After a time, Adam asked, “Will there be others?”

Michael replied, “Maybe. But for now, we think we’re clear. A bigger operation would have left a stronger footprint.”

“So, what now? You guys wouldn’t tell me, before.”

Michael exchanged a quiet look with Nikita through the rearview mirror. She flashed a bright smile back at him, happy to share their plans at last, and then she said to Adam. “How do you feel about skiing in Chile?”

“What?” He frowned. “It’s the wrong season to ski in Chile.”

“It won’t be, by the time we get there.”

Adam spun around to look at her. “No way.”

Nikita grinned and nodded at him. “Way.”

“Drive? You guys want to drive to Chile?”

“Yeah. Why not? Lots to see along the trip. And we might hike some of it. And sail some of it.”

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.”

“Oh man.” Adam sat back and stared out at the highway for a long time. Then he said, “Wow. Chile.”

And a while later he said, “Cool.”


***** End *****
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