Chapter 1~ Live In Living Color
I never run around in the bushes in a ski mask when I'm breaking in someplace. Somebody catches you, what are you gonna say? You want to look like a legitimate visitor until the very last minute. If you can't look legit, confused works almost as well. Maybe you get a soda from the fridge, or a yogurt. If you get caught, you just look confused and apologize like crazy for taking the yogurt - nothing could be more innocent~ Michael Westen
Natalie bumped the beat up refrigerator shut with her hip. She shifted the yogurt she had taken into her other hand. Next Natalie riffled through the utensil drawer and pulled out a spoon. She opened the yogurt. Natalie then leaned over and rested with her elbows on the counter. She opened the yogurt and brought out a scoop. Eating it, Natalie surveyed her father's old loft. This was the first time she had been inside the apartment. Natalie certainly had not seen it in its lived in state as it was now. Her parents had moved out of there long before she was born. Above a nightclub was no place to raise a baby. The city tore the building down more than a year ago. "You know, Dad, even with your stories I never pictured the place quite like this," Natalie mused. She shook her head, "I don't know what I imagined." Another spoonful of yogurt gone and Natalie pushed herself away from the counter.
She made her way over to the bed that was in the middle of the living space. Natalie ran her fingers over the duvet. That was the beginning of her mother's touches on the loft. Of the two bedside tables her father's was decidedly the most utilitarian. On the top set lamp, an alarm clock, a plate to set his watch and cellphone on, a 9mm was strapped to the underside of the top: only the very basic necessities. Natalie went to her mother's bedside table. In addition to the type of things her father had her mother kept vase of flowers and a box tissues. Natalie picked up the framed picture of parents that sat there as well. She studied it carefully. They were out at the beach lounging together. Natalie couldn't help the twinge in her heart when she came to her father's smiling face. She slipped the picture back into its spot. Natalie went back to the kitchen. She deposited the spoon into the half full dishwasher before making a basket tossing the empty yogurt cup into the garbage can. Natalie knew she should hide it a bit under the other trash, but she couldn't resist leaving her father a little clue.
Natalie headed up metal stairs to the loft her father set up as an office. She went straight for the desk. Natalie knew she would find nothing of interest on the desk out in the open. Her father always hid the good stuff. She reached under the desk. Lifting a loose floor board Natalie brought out a lock box of keepsakes of her father's. Even her mother didn't know he had stashed anything of the kind away. She sat cross legged on the floor and brought it into her lap. No one would ever suspect Michael Westen of being the sentimental type. He hid it well Natalie smirked. She took a bobby-pin out of her shoe. With it in her deft fingers it took Natalie no time all to get the box unlocked. She slipped the bobby pin into her back pocket. Natalie opened the box. She found pictures, a knife, a set of costume wedding bands with engagement ring, among other things inside it. Her mother's H&K USP compact was in there too. Her father had lifted the gun one of the times she tried to leave him. Natalie took up it and let it balance out in her hand. She then put it back in the lock box. The box wasn't quite as full as Natalie remembered, but he had a lot more life to live yet. She closed it up and put it back in its place. The floor board returned to its position. Natalie straightened up as she heard footsteps on the stairs. She came face to face with her mother Fiona.
"Natalie Claire," she chided.
"Yeah, mom?" Natalie crossed her arms over her chest.
"Do you have any idea you are doing?" Fiona demanded, "What if your father saw you?" She glanced down at the door.
"He'd know me," Natalie insisted.
"You aren't even a thought in his head and won't be for some time," Fiona countered.
"He'd still feel our connection- I am his daughter," Natalie argued.
"Yes you are, but this Michael doesn't know that," Fiona took a deep breath, "And it's for the best if he doesn't yet."
"It wasn't my idea to come back here," Natalie rejoined, "I was perfectly fine where you found me."
"Trapped in a CIA safehouse?" Fiona said.
"I was there of my own free will something I can't say about now," Natalie remarked.
"Those people are not your friends," Fiona cautioned.
Natalie rolled her eyes, "How many times are you going to give me this lecture?"
"Until it gets through your skull," Fiona replied, "Honestly..."
"I know what I am doing," Natalie insisted, "I am an adult."
"You are still a teenager," Fiona reminded her.
"Barely," Natalie rebuffed.
"I can't let you waste your future by getting mixed up with these snakes," Fiona protested.
"Snakes?" Natalie cackled.
"Be serious, Natalie," Fiona admonished.
"They can't be worse than the user you and dad took into your circle," Natalie asked pointedly, "We both know how that turned out." If she hadn't been her kid Fiona would have slapped Natalie across the room. "Give me some credit," the girl continued, "I don't trust just anyone."
"But you put your life on the line with them," Fiona pointed out.
"These people are doing their job," Natalie shook her head.
"Their job not yours," Fiona replied.
"How can you say that?!" Natalie fingers clenched into fists, "I have every right…"
"To break your mother's heart?"
"Cut the guilt trips- I am not doing this to hurt you," Natalie asserted.
"Then come home and forget the whole thing," Fiona suggested.
"I can't do that," Natalie stood firm.
"Why not?" Fiona asked.
"You know damn well why!" Natalie snapped. She pivoted on her heels. Natalie slammed her fists down on the top of the desk. She hung her head. Fiona stepped forward and placed her hands on the upper part of her daughter's arms. Natalie forcefully rolled her shoulders. This sent Fiona back and made her let go. She flinched at the rejection.
Fiona closed her eyes, "We should go."
"Fine," Natalie grumbled. They turned for the stairs. Natalie ran past her mother. They heard footsteps on the outside stairwell as they came to the front door. Quickly Fiona switched directions and ushered Natalie out onto the balcony. Natalie watched her mother close the doors. They flatten themselves against the wall. Fiona held her breath.
Michael entered the loft followed by his brother Nate. Michael slumped down into a chair while Nate went to get them a couple bottles of water. In the kitchen he opened the refrigerator. Finding only one bottle of water Nate chose it out and grabbed a beer. He opened the beer on his way over to the sitting area and held it out to Michael, "You look like you could use something stronger."
Michael took the beer and mustered a broken, "Thanks." At the sound of his voice Natalie couldn't help herself, but looked through the crack in the door. She just had to see her father. Even if all she could see from this angle was the back of his head it was enough.
Nate put his on hand his brother's shoulder, "It's not the end of the line."
"Anson got away," Michael stated.
"So?" Nate replied, "You'll hunt him down again."
"Meanwhile Fi just sits in prison," Michael emptied the beer in a matter of a few large swigs.
"Fiona turned herself in- she can't expect you to fix it overnight," Nate sighed. Looking at Michael's face Nate's tone softened, "If anyone can get her out it's you." Michael rubbed his hand over his eyes. He was totally drained and needed some energy to think. Michael got up. Nate followed him into the kitchen. He sat on a stool as his brother dug in for a yogurt. Michael noted a yogurt was already missing. He turned and looked cross-eyed at the trash can. Sure enough he saw the empty container on top. As much as Michael loved yogurt he hadn't eaten any that day. He chose one and grabbed a spoon. As Michael ate his scanned over the apartment he knew so well. Everything thing seemed to be in place. Something drew him to the balcony doors. His eyes fell on the shadows coming in at the bottom. If he wasn't mistaken there were two people outside. Nate lifted the water bottle and took another swallow. Seeing his watch he decided to check the time. He groaned.
"Everything all right?" Michael asked.
"I forgot the time," Nate got up, "I better get back home before Ruth kills me."
Michael set his yogurt on the counter. "I'll walk you down," he slipped on his aviator sunglasses and headed out with Nate. They closed the door behind them. "Sh," Michael put up his hand and listened at the door.
"What?" Nate questioned.
Michael whispered, "Someone's been in the loft."
"You think they're still there?" Nate asked. Michael motioned him down the stairs.
Fiona let out a sigh of relief after the front door closed. She found the rope they left anchored there on the corner of the balcony for a quick escape. Fiona tossed it down. "Come on," she motioned to her daughter. Fiona climbed over the rails and to the ground first. Once she was on the ground Natalie scaled down. "Sh," Fiona held a finger to her lips and listened. A car started and drove off. The gate closed. They began to round the building. Michael stood directly in their path. Nate pulled in the Charger behind his brother.
"You have some explaining to do," Michael eyed the older woman. His brow furrowed in recognition, "Fi?" He took off his sunglasses. It couldn't be. The woman was twenty some years older, but a dead ringer for his momentarily incarcerated girlfriend.
"Yes, it's me," Fiona admitted.
Michael motioned to Natalie, "If you're Fiona who is the girl?"
Fiona sighed, "This scamp is our daughter."