Nikki was in the living room, reading a book. She was waiting for her elder sister Kerri to finish getting ready. They would be spending the weekend with Michael Jackson that weekend, which they were looking forward to doing. They didn't know exactly what the plans for the weekend were besides getting a sneak peek of the Living with Michael Jackson documentary, but they were sure it would be fun, like it always was. He had been in their lives ever since they were 12 and 13, and she could still remember their first meeting as if it were only yesterday. Their parents had died in an earthquake 14 years prior, when they were very little. They had just moved to Japan and had been living there for two weeks. Their parents were the only family they had nearby. Because of that, they had been forced to live in an orphanage. Neither of them particularly liked the idea of staying there for such a long time, but they toughed it out. They really needed each other in order to get over the death of their parents. The orphanage life was indeed hard for both girls to cope with. Most of the other children were friendly and pleasant, but the administrator was a drill sergeant. She forced the cook to serve only bread and water. It was literally like being in prison. They didn't know how they managed to put up with such harsh treatment and deal with their grief at the same time, but they were able to....just barely. Well one day, when they were almost at their wits end, it seemed like they were in luck. Michael was doing his HIStory tour, and he had come to Japan to do a few shows. Both Kerri and Nikki were huge fans of Michael. They both had wanted to meet him so badly, but neither of them saw how that would happen...unless he happened to decide to visit the orphanage. He was known for visiting orphanages and children's hospitals before concerts. In fact, it was a rule he had.
During that particular leg of the tour, there was a big surprise. Michael had come to the orphanage that day, holding a large bag filled with goodies. Even the administrator, who was usually a bit on the stiff, dictatorial side, was pretty nice that day. Kerri wasn't sure if the woman was on her best behavior just because Michael was there, but she wasn't complaining. Nikki remembered the nervousness she felt while watching the singer hand out toys to each child. She had hoped if he came over to talk to her and Kerri, she wouldn't make an idiot of herself or start crying like a lot of fan girls seemed to do. Just the thought of that embarrassed her. Thankfully that hadn't happened. However, her nervousness nearly paralyzed her, and it took everything she had to say hello to him and tell him how much she loved him. She had been so overwhelmed by his friendliness, but she managed to pull herself together. She recalled that Kerri was trying her best to do the opposite...to not get overly excited but keep her fan girl side in check. The younger sister had opened up and told Michael about their parents dying when they were very young. That had made him feel very sorry for them. In fact, he had so much pity on the girls that he decided to adopt them. It was his chance to have children to raise, even though he and Debbie were expecting in a few months. He really wanted children of his own and he thought about having children from each continent. They thought this was so unreal since they expected to be at the orphanage for at least another two years. They couldn't thank him enough back then, and still didn't have enough words to express their gratitude. From that day on, he was known to them as "Daddy." Although the girls were now college students, they still spent as much time at the ranch as they could.
Nikki was so busy reflecting on the past that she didn't hear when her sister came out. She nearly fell off the couch when Kerri asked her if she was ready.
"Hey, don't sneak up on me like that!" she said, half amused, half exasperated.
"I didn't. You just didn't hear me come in," replied Kerri, giving Nikki a look. It never ceased to amaze her how deep in thought her sister could be when her mind wandered...almost as if she were meditating.
Nikki couldn't argue with that because it was true when she was so deep in thought, it was like she was in her own little world.
"Seriously, though, are you ready to go?"
"Are you kidding? I've been ready."
"Well, what are you waiting for? Let's go."
Nikki got her overnight bag and left the off-campus apartment with Kerri. They hoped the Arviso family would not be at Neverland that weekend. Although they seemed to be decent enough people when they were first there, they had become extremely boorish and destructive-especially the children. They hoped Michael would do something about their behavior soon.
It had been a month since Michael did his final interview with the British journalist Martin Bashir, and now he was looking forward to the premier of his documentary. Uri Geller, a friend of his had dropped off a copy of the documentary earlier. This documentary was meant to free him from the allegations that had surfaced nearly a decade ago. It would also show his true aim to make the world a better place...that's what he was hoping, anyway. A part of him had a bad feeling about this documentary. Although Bashir seemed to be on his side while the interviews were being filmed, he knew from past experience that a vast majority of journalists had the tendency to be one-sided, biased and sensationalist. Now that he thought about it, the interviews seemed to have gone a little too smoothly....and from past experiences whenever that happened with an adult, it meant the person was not to be trusted. His assistant had done some research and learned that Martin had been reprimanded for unfair journalistic practices several times. Michael knew his assistant meant well, even though he didn't suspect anything while doing the interviews. He would get to see a sneak preview of the documentary that day, so that meant he would get to watch for any "shady" behavior and try to prevent it from airing the following week if he needed to. People had misrepresented him in the past, and he wasn't going to allow it to happen again. His two oldest children were working on a puzzle with the nanny while he investigated this matter. Blanket was taking a nap. He didn't want them to be exposed to what could possibly be salacious details. He waited for his two adopted daughters to arrive. He always looked forward to spending time with them. Although they were practically teenagers when he had adopted them, they hadn't challenged him the way most teens challenged their parents. In other words, they were easy to deal with. He hoped his own children would be that easy to handle when they became teenagers. He had such a wonderful relationship with them and he didn't ever want to lose that as long as he lived.
Several minutes later, Nikki and Kerri promptly arrived, took their bags to their rooms, and came out and greeted him.
"Hi, girls," answered Michael, smiling. "How are you?"
"We're doing well." They both gave him a hug, and noticed that it was rather quiet. They wondered where their adopted siblings were. However, the Arviso family didn't seem to be nearby. They were happy about that, as their weekend would go much smoother. But they enjoyed being around their younger adopted brothers and sister.
"Dad? Where are Prince, Paris and Blanket?" asked Kerri.
"Paris and Prince are with Grace. Blanket is asleep."
"Oh. All right." She figured it was because they would be watching the documentary soon and she knew he wouldn't want the kids to see it just in case it included something uncalled for. Speaking of which, she and Nikki were worried about how the interview would turn out. They hoped it would be a decent one. If it turned out to be just another money making opportunity for a tabloid journalist, they would be highly upset.
"You two ready?" asked the 44 year old.
"Yeah, let's see it." Nikki had to admit she was a little bit nervous, and she had the feeling she might regret watching it later, but she was prepared for the worst since she'd heard all of the crazy rumors. Not to mention how the media and tabloids were intent on making him look like a detestable person. But she knew that whatever happened, they would get through it together.
Michael and his two adopted daughters were sitting in the movie theatre, and the Living with Michael Jackson interview began. The beginning was rather amusing with Michael's attempt at doing a British accent. Nikki couldn't help laughing, but a part of her felt guilty. She knew it was something that the media would blow out of proportion and then some of the viewers would say he was making fun of the British. She wondered what Bashir was trying to prove. That Michael was an insensitive person? That couldn't be further from the truth.
Kerri wasn't impressed by the introduction of the documentary at all. Something about Martin's tone as he was narrating seemed condescending. He had said he would be asking the singer about his face. ‘Um...what on earth? How sensationalist can he get?' She had thought the interview was going to be about the International Children's holiday that Michael wanted, as well as the goodwill he spread all over the world. That was what she remembered when the interviews actually took place. Something told her this would not be a good biography, just as she suspected. She was almost tempted to leave the theatre at that very moment, but decided not to, and to give it a chance. She was extremely patient to a point. She just hoped she wouldn't regret it. Of course, she knew she could always have Michael fill her in on all of the details, should she be forced to discontinue watching.
Michael was slightly unsettled, too. Pretty quickly he understood his assistant's suspicions and warnings about the British journalist. He was almost afraid to sit through the entire film, but he thought maybe it would improve. After all, it was only the beginning.
The film did improve ever so slightly, with a rather amusing scene that involved Michael and Martin going over to the amusement park. Michael was telling him how much he enjoyed going on rides, and that his favorite rides were the Ferris wheel and the carousel. "I like to play classical music on the carousel...you know, Barbara Streisand and songs like Smile."
Michael then challenged Bashir to a race, and the journalist accepted. Now that wasn't something the girls were not expecting to see. "I'm gonna whip your head!" they heard their adopted father say. He usually won races unless his opponent decided to cheat. He and Martin got into the racing cars.
"On your mark, get set......"
‘Come on, Dad,' thought Nikki, ‘You can do it.'
Martin had started driving before he heard the word go. That gave him an unfair advantage. Michael wasn't expecting this at all.
"Hey, he's cheating...he's cheating!" he was heard protesting.
Nikki and Kerri couldn't believe it either. But they were still confident Michael would win, since playing fair made all the difference.
In spite of Michael's honorable racing, Bashir won. Nikki and Kerri couldn't believe their eyes. From their perspective, that should not have happened because Martin cheated. But Michael had taken it in stride and told him how good he was at it.
‘Oh Dad, you're too kind to him,' Kerri couldn't help thinking. His forgiving attitude never ceased to amaze her, even though it was almost seven years since he'd been in her and Nikki's lives. If she was the one who he was racing against, she would have made him do a rematch. She had a passionate hatred for cheaters. Same with Nikki. Now she just didn't trust Martin. This prompted her to keep her eyes peeled for the remainder of the documentary.
The two men decided to go back inside for a little bit. This was when the interviews would officially begin. The two girls and Michael waited with baited breath to see how they would go, if the biography would continue to improve. Unfortunately, it did not. In fact, they thought the documentary was crap, to put it bluntly. Not to mention cruel. The documentary was riddled with edits, sensationalism and scandals...it totally took away from what it was supposed to be about in the first place. Nikki couldn't help but wonder what possessed Martin to do this film surgery. At the same time, though, it made her realize he was more of a scoundrel than she previously suspected. Bashir's narrating certainly didn't help matters. Often times he sounded very insulting. True, it had its decent moments but the infuriating moments outweighed them. And there were moments that were mediocre at best.
The first quarter of the documentary started off decent. Nikki especially gave Martin credit for mentioning Michael's vitiligo and the fact that it made him allergic to the sun, during his narration, when Michael was outside, showing the journalist how he liked to climb his giving tree and write music up there. Kerri found Martin's fear of climbing rather tickling, and thought it would have been the perfect scene, had it not been for Martin asking if Michael didn't prefer making love to balloon fights and climbing trees. She didn't understand what his point was.
During the first series of interviews, Michael was asked about his love for Peter Pan, about his technique used in writing music and dancing, including an informal lesson on how to do the moonwalk, about all he had to go through during the performances, as well as the strict discipline he and his brothers received, and how he was affected. That part always made his two adopted daughters feel a bit choked up...just seeing his facial expressions while talking about it. It was that way ever since the first time he told them about those days. True, they couldn't help but groan and it was one of several scenes that were heavily edited, but it was nothing compared to the injustices later on.
At one point during the documentary, Michael went to Las Vegas to spend some time, and invited Martin to come along with him. The journalist couldn't understand how the singer would want to leave the ranch for an extended period of time, but he couldn't refuse the invite because he thought it would have been interesting to see what Michael liked to do. Nikki and Kerri were slightly irritated about him questioning Michael. Was he not allowed to take a vacation? And he had brought them along, as well as, Prince, Paris and Blanket, so they didn't see what the problem was.
The two sisters had decided to stay in the hotel room with the three kids while Michael showed Martin his favorite activities in Las Vegas, which involved shopping, playing arcade games, and just riding around on a scooter. It was so nice to see Michael being relaxed and down to earth, though Martin annoyed the girls with some of his comments.
The documentary began to go sour when Michael went to Berlin to receive an award that fall. The two young ladies had not been able to go with him on that trip but they had seen it on the news and they had spoken to Michael about it on the phone, so they knew what was going on. They remembered how much press hype there was that day, and how Michael was afraid his children would be taken away. They really didn't care to relive that moment. They could have sworn that the media purposely manipulated the camera angles in order to make it look like he was trying to kill Blanket by throwing him over the balcony when that was a very long shot from the truth. Also Bashir had questioned him for taking his children to the zoo when there were so much paparazzi there. There was mainly a misunderstanding over whether the zoo would be opened for him later that evening or not. Nikki and Kerri were so angry about seeing all this stuff that they could barely keep from shaking. Not even seeing the scenes where Michael had nice sweet moments with the fans were enough to calm them. Michael was horrified, too, because that was another scene that was terribly butchered.
What made the girls extremely furious was the last segment of the documentary where Bashir had said he was troubled by the fact that Michael was such close friends with children, and that he considered his best friend to be the cancer patient (Gavin Arviso) he helped. He had told about how Gavin's cancer was extremely intense when they first met, so intense that doctors had predicted his death and advised his parents to make preparations for his funeral because there was no chance of survival. But through some miracle, his cancer went in remission. Then Gavin talked about how Michael allowed him and his siblings to spend the night in his bedroom. Martin criticized Michael for that. Now, the two girls had thought Michael was being too kind to the likes of them, but the journalist's critical attitude drove them up a wall. He sounded so bigoted, so narrow-minded, and arrogant. He was just not a nice person.
‘Um...since when does child-like mean criminal?' thought Kerri. Seriously, she was at the point where she felt the urge to pull out her long jet-black hair in frustration. Nikki was so mad she could barely see straight.
And there was another part where Martin asked him again about the changes in his appearance because he hadn't believed what Michael told him during the interview in Las Vegas. As he had written in his autobiography, if it were true, he would have said so. He didn't think it was his fault that Martin didn't believe him.
Finally, Mr. Bashir had decided to "confront" Michael about the way he invited children to Neverland. He grilled the pop crooner with questions about that and mentioned the accusations ten years prior. Though Michael had done a fairly good job defending himself in a calm way, the two girls could see that he was upset. And during the break he really was in tears.
Now that was the breaking point for the two sisters. They were extremely irate about this. They had absolutely no respect for Martin whatsoever. Just because he didn't understand Michael's lifestyle didn't give him the right to question him the way he did. No one made their adopted father cry and got away with it.
"Well, this is stupid. I can't watch any more of this," said Kerri through clenched teeth. She arose from her seat and marched out of the cinema without bothering to look at Michael. Well she needn't do that to realize that he was outraged about this.
"Hey sister, wait for me!" There was no way Nikki was going to watch the rest of that abominable biography. She got up as if someone were chasing her and followed her sister. What that journalist-if he could even be called a journalist--did was beyond sickening.
As for Michael? Well he certainly didn't know how he managed to sit through the remainder of that documentary, but he did, and by then even he was sorely displeased. It was horrifying. He was glad his three kids were not exposed to such an atrocity. Even though his assistant had warned him about Bashir's background, he was hoping through some miracle that he was wrong. Martin had interviewed Princess Di before, and he was shown a letter from her thanking him for the biography. He knew that the princess would not have expressed gratitude if it was tabloid. Now he knew that his assistant knew what he was talking about. He was stunned, but not so much, considering that he knew how biased journalists could be and he was forewarned about Bashir.
It was just like every other time he had been stabbed in the back. He was kind enough to allow a stranger unprecedented access into his private life in the hopes that the rumors would finally be put to rest and he was repaid by being portrayed in a negative light. It didn't even come close to portraying what the film was supposed to be about. This reminded him of why he chose to be private in the first place. And what was worse was what would happen if it aired on television, the public's reaction and the media's coverage of it, especially the last segment. In that particular segment, he had made it clear that he generally showed the children their assigned guest units, but they would want to stay with him and he checked with their parents before telling them it was ok. The parents were allowed to stay as well, and he let them have the bed while he slept on the floor. But knowing how the media liked to selectively edit all of the interviews, they would not reveal that. Instead, they would do everything to imply that he was a bad person who would harm children. Next, the DA at Santa Barbara County would use that as evidence to try to convict the pop star. More people in the public would turn their backs on him after that.
The thought of those things happening was distressing. Michael was NOT going to allow that documentary to air. He would do something to stop it and would not rest until he found a way. He knew there was some footage that was never meant to be shown, and thought about using that to create a new documentary. At least it would be much more decent. There would be a delay in the original air date, but he didn't care. And some legal action was in order for Martin Bashir. He would file a law suit for defamation of character. He usually was not very keen on law suits and stuff since they took a lot of energy, planning and time, but enough was enough. He went outside to compose the brand new song for his number one's album that would be released sometime in the fall. He would sit in his giving tree and write it. Hopefully that would take his mind off of what was going on.
The two girls felt better after drowning their sorrows in some junk food. They felt bad about leaving like that, but they felt they had to. They felt if they watched another minute of the documentary, they would have spewed chunks. But now that they were somewhat calm, they decided to go and check on him. They didn't think he would be in the theatre anymore.
"So, where should we look for him first?" Kerri asked her younger sister.
"Let's see if he is in his recording studio. " She knew that he had been working extensively on his album for several months.
"Good idea." The sisters checked the recording studio, and didn't see any trace of Michael anywhere. Afterwards, they checked his room, the library, and the den. He wasn't in any of those places either. Then something occurred to Nikki that maybe he was writing a song. And she knew what his favorite song writing spot was.
"Hey, let's check outside."
"All right." So they left the library and went outside and sure enough, there he was, sitting up in his tree. It felt so calm and so serene. To this day many people were still amazed by the tranquility at Neverland. Nikki smiled at how nice and peaceful he looked, but she could see from the look in his eyes that he was still slightly troubled about what had happened. She came a bit closer and proceeded to climb the tree and stopped at the branches that were slightly below him. Kerri smiled at this...she could recall a few years before that she was a little bit afraid of climbing trees, though she wasn't extremely frightened.
"Are you going to be going to be ok?"
"That I will."
Kerri hoped that he would...she didn't want him to be scarred for life because of a traitor. "I want you to know that we're in this together. "
"Thank you very much." Michael felt so blessed to have such a supportive family. They were part of what kept him going in times like this. No matter what the media decided to throw at him, he thought the obstacles would make him stronger.