DL never told Niki, but he knew about his powers long before he wound up in prison. He had his reasons for keeping quiet.
One of them was that when his powers kicked in, the first thing he did was steal everything not nailed down. He was young, poor, and it took a few years to realize that just because he could walk through walls and take whatever he wanted it didn't mean he should.
He'd been proud of it at the time, though. It felt good, strutting around like a big man, being able to buy his mom anything she could dream of. He'd take dares from his friends, bragging that he could get in anywhere, grab anything. He never turned down a challenge, and never failed to deliver. He was unstoppable. The best thief in the entire world.
The second reason was that one night he got busted. DL had just walked through the wall of the latest house on his wish list and started the search for cash and jewelry when he heard a voice behind him. "So you phase. Not bad."
That was the first time he'd heard the word "phase" used to describe what he could do, but what had grabbed his attention at the time was that he'd made absolutely sure the room was empty. He turned around and didn't see anyone. "Who's there?" he'd said, trying to put a tough edge to his voice and completely failing. "Where are you?"
"You're just a kid," said the same voice, same accent, still coming from thin air. "Not another kid."
The whole thing was too spooky. "All right, English, I hear you. So where are you?"
Asked and answered; all of a sudden there was a white guy in a suit standing a few feet in front of him, pointing a gun at right at his head. "Unless you're really confident you can phase faster than I can shoot, I suggest staying solid," English said, and DL immediately decided that sounded like a great plan. "You have a name?"
"Hawkins," DL said. He knew the gun should be his top priority, but the only thought running through his mind was I gotta see that again. "Hey, you can turn invisible, right? That's what you just did?"
English tilted his head. "You are aware that I've pulled a gun on you?"
"If you're going to shoot me, you're going to shoot me. I can't do anything about that." DL could hear his heart pounding, there was so much adrenaline pumping through his veins. "You can turn invisible."
"I've noticed." DL saw the corners of the man's mouth quirk up. "You want me to do it again, don't you?"
"Would you?" DL answered, probably a little too fast. "Then you can arrest me or whatever you're here to do."
English let out a little sigh, then he vanished. "The gun hasn't moved, so don't get any ideas," said the disembodied voice.
Until he said that, it hadn't even occurred to DL to try anything. He was too enthralled by what was happening right in front of him. "You're like me," he said, marveling at the suddenly empty space.
"Not just like you."
"Close enough. I didn't think there was anyone else out there like me." He grinned. "Guess I'm not as special as I thought."
There was a long pause. "We're not the only two. There's more like us."
DL tapped the barrel of the invisible gun. "Bet you meet them all the time, huh?"
"All the time." Years later, DL would wish he'd been old enough to pick up on the tone of those words, wished he'd asked some more questions.
At the time, though, all he could think about was that this was the most amazing moment of his life, second only to the day he'd first walked through a door without opening it. "Wish I could turn invisible. Man, I'm a great thief, but I bet you could be better than me if you tried."
There was a second's pause, then DL heard laughter. "Get out of here," English said, reappearing and lowering his gun. "Run right back through the wall. Before my partner catches up with us and I have to shoot you."
DL almost asked what the partner could do, but the look in English's eyes sent a chill through him. "Don't tell anyone what you can do. Stay out of trouble. Keep it a secret or I won't be the last man you meet with a gun." He disappeared again. "Now run along. I wasn't joking about having to shoot you."
DL passed through the nearest wall. Right before he was all the way through he took one last look at the room, but it seemed just as empty as when he'd entered it.
The years went by; DL grew out of being a punk teenager, fell in love, had a son. One summer, before everything went bad, he and Niki managed to scrape together enough money to take Micah on a family vacation. Micah chose New York, and off they went, hitting all of the tourist spots just any normal family.
They'd all just left the Empire State Building when DL heard a laugh that spun him around. "Hawkins," whispered a voice in his ear, a voice forever associated with darkened rooms and pointed guns. "You were right."
It wasn't until he went to pay for the cab and found his wallet missing that DL realized what he'd meant.