Disclaimer: I own nothing but this story plot

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1995

Nikita crouched in the bushes outside of their house for a long time. She waited for them to leave. She waited and waited. Then finally, a golden colored van pulled out of the gravel driveway. The windshield revealed a man and woman; both middle-aged with dark skin. The man was driving while the woman was reaching into the back seat for something.

Nikita waited for them to round the corner and join traffic before she snuck over to the back door. Nikita checked the knob—locked. She adjusted her duffel and then kicked the door in. Nikita stepped into the kitchen quickly and set the broken door against its frame. She looked around the familiar kitchen that was now a neutral brown instead of pastel yellow.

Nikita walked into the living room. Everything was different. It was plain and neutral—it no longer screamed Knowles. Nikita left the living room and went down the hallway. She stepped over the area where her father's dead body had lain. Nikita stopped at the door to the master bedroom. The door was wide open and Nikita almost cried by the change.

Everything was so different. Her parents, her life, had all been thrown away and covered up with by ugly brown paint. Nikita clenched her fist and continued to her own room—stepping over the spot where her mother bled to death. Nikita opened the door and, at first, anger washed over her. The room was blue—baby blue—with stuffed animals all around. However, she realized something; there was a crib and a changing table.

On the wall behind the crib was a mural. A mural that Nikita's mother had painted. It was a frame of flower, leaves, and butterflies. It had bordered her name, but now, a different name had been painted over hers. Jackson Carter Pothitakis. Nikita's heart ached. She lightly touched the painting on the wall. She had hated that mural as a kid. She thought it was ugly. However, it was the only thing she had left. She stared at it for a while; memorizing each flower.

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Michael woke to the sound of his young daughter crying. Elizabeth started to get up from bed.

"No, I'll get her," He said tiredly. Elizabeth buried herself back into the blankets.

Michael dragged himself out of bed and went down the narrow hallway that led to the child's room. Michael bent into her old crib and picked up the wailing kid. He shushed her and comforted her but she continued to cry. Michael carried her to the kitchen and warmed up a bottle of formula. Sarah chugged it. Michael smiled as his daughters eyes began to close.

Michael sat in one of the kitchen chairs. He balanced Sarah with one hand and started sifting through the mail on the table with the other.

Bill, bill, bill . . .

Michaels sighed. The last envelope caught his attention though. It was addressed to him, that wasn't unusual. However it was from the military. Michael ripped it open and read through it quickly. He smashed the letter in his fist.

All through high school Michael had dreamed of joining the military. He wanted to protect his country. His father had, his grandfather had, and his great-grandfather had. It was his turn. But he had never thought he would have a wife, a child . . . a daughter.

Michael would have to leave his family.

How long would he be gone?

Where was he going?

Would he be able to come back to his family?

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Nikita had been a "missing child" for two weeks. She knew Gary wouldn't be after her. However, she was certain she had a social worker on her trail.

She had gone into a super market just to cool off from the heat when she saw a picture of herself. It was an old photo. Possibly from her 12th or 13th birthday. She studied the photo. No reward money was wanted. Go figure. There was only a number and a name: Jennifer Perez.

The name sounded familiar to Nikita. She wasn't sure where she had heard it. Although, she knew it meant something.

Nikita tore the parchment from the corkboard and ran outside. She went to the nearest payphone and deposited fifty cents. She punched in the number from the paper.

"Agent Perez," answered a female voice. Nikita didn't say anything.

"Hello?" said the voice.

"Um, hello," replied Nikita with a lump in her throat. She knew the voice. It had been years since Perez had even checked up on her. She never actually cared for Nikita. So why was she the only one looking for her?

"Who is this?" Perez asked.

"Perez . . ." Nikita blinked against tears.

"Yes?"

"No more."

"No more what? Who is this!"

"Quit looking for me; I'm gone."

"Is this Emily? Or Avalon? Come on kid, I have so many I'm looking for. Just give me a name and I'll come get you."

"Nikita, Perez, Nikita Knowles,"

"Nikita Knowles . . . where are you? I'm on my way."

Nikita slammed the phone into its cradle. No one was coming to get her. Nikita stepped away from the phone. She sat down on the sidewalk and leaned against the gas station wall. She should be upset. She should be almost to the point of suicide. But she didn't feel anything; nothing but the kiss of the summer breeze.

Her birthday was tomorrow. She'd be sixteen. The number had seemed so far and inexistent to her when she was young and kept away from the pain of the world. Now she wanted to go back. Who wouldn't?

"Ronny, come on!"

Nikita looked up from her isolation. Her eyes locked with a boy's. Boy might be the wrong word. He was tall, muscular, and staring at her. He looked to be about eighteen. He was wearing faded jeans and a gray tee. The only thing she couldn't see was his face for it was hidden in the night shadows. Nikita stared back.

Another man jogged up to him. It was then Nikita noticed there was a huge group of people across the street from her. Some of them where looking at her, however, most were looking at the two, solitude men.

Nikita curled her knees into her chest and pulled her duffel closer. The two men were talking but Nikita couldn't hear a word that was said.

"Hey," the man yelled at Nikita. She was already looking at him. Nikita lifted her hand and waved hesitantly.

The man began crossing the street toward her.

Uh oh, Nikita thought. Her body tensed and she readied herself for a fight.

The man stopped many feet in front of her.

"What?" Nikita said hoarsely.

He took a few steps toward her and kneeled.

"I'm, Ronny," he held out his hand to Nikita. She didn't move.

"Hey, uh," he said awkwardly. "You look like you need something to eat . . . maybe even a place to sleep."

Nikita just looked at him.

"We got an extra mattress since Jordan got arrested . . ." Ronny tilted his head and looked at Nikita. He stood and started backing up. "Well," he said, "I guess I'll see you around. . ." He began to slowly walk away.

"Wait!" Nikita shouted without thinking. Ronny stopped and looked at her. "I-I'll go with you . . . please."

Ronny smiled. "You sure 'bout that, kid?"

"Not at all," Nikita stood.

Ronny chuckled. "Come on," he said and Nikita followed him to the group.

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-Kayleigh