After the phone call, Michael just sat there, trying to process what his security guard had told him of the Arviso children's misbehavior. Whilst he had thought what his friend Chris had warned him about seemed plausible enough as he had the feeling the few atrocities he witnessed was a mere sample, he never imagined the details his staff had kept under wraps about the family would be on this level of deplorable. Now he knew he wasn't crazy or paranoid to have an uneasy feeling about them for certain. The numbness he had felt was replaced by hurt, betrayal and anger...so angry it was all he could do not to start shaking. ‘Oh God, I could just wring their necks.' No child had ever stretched his patience so thin before, so he knew reaching to that point was not a good sign and it was time to cast the entire family aside for good. ‘I should have done that long ago.' He sighed heavily, annoyed with himself for being so passive and only settling for avoiding the family. 'Well, no more. They have had more than enough chances.'
Nikki left Kerri trying to fix Prince's mask on for him properly, and went to see if Michael was done with his phone call so she could help him out of the car. There was something about his expression that concerned her. He looked troubled, almost furious, and like he was out of it. "Dad?" She opened the car door and climbed in the driver's seat so she could be next to him. "What's the matter? You seem upset."
Michael glanced up at his younger adopted daughter and made an effort to give her a weak smile, despite his frustration about the situation. His smile faded as he responded, "I have just received a call from one of the security guards. The Arvisos have returned."
Nikki wore a blank expression on her face. This news didn't surprise her in the least since the Arvisos always found a way onto the premises when all of the Jacksons living there were absent. She got a queasy feeling in her stomach, as if she had a gut feeling they were far worse than normal. "What did they do this time?" she asked, running a hand through her long jet-black hair.
"They demolished the bedroom you and Kerri share and were insolent to several staff members." The singer's face turned bright red as he spoke. Just thinking of their actions made him feel sick to his stomach. And he couldn't help but feel a bit of displeasure toward his employees for allowing them in the girls' room, although relieved they hadn't gotten to the rooms of Prince, Paris and Blanket or his room.
"What?!" the young woman belted out. Her face turned extremely pale and she clenched her fists, shaking with rage. ‘Ugh...those brats are lucky I'm not there...I swear next time I see them, someone will have to keep me from murdering them.' It wasn't so much the disrespect of staff that angered her as she and Kerri witnessed it a few times, but the thought of her precious items being destroyed. ‘Kerri isn't gonna like this.' She growled softly, and then took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm herself before she started hyperventilating.
Michael could tell Nikki was livid, based on her outburst and demeanor. He didn't blame her in the least, but he was trying to keep calm and composed, even under such infuriating circumstances."Yes. Try to calm down a bit. I will handle it."
"Yes Dad. I'll try." Nikki felt reassured hearing that, although she was sure her dark eyes were filled with worry and anxiety, wondering how Michael intended to deal with the situation. ‘Of course the obvious thing to do would be telling the Arviso family they are no longer welcome at our home, and I believe he will go through with it, but the question is, will it hurt him to do so?' She didn't want him to think she doubted his ability to deal with the situation accordingly, so she decided to just trust him to use his best judgment. She waited with baited breath for what he would say next, having a rough idea that it was something she didn't want to hear.
"Unfortunately, the remainder of the trip will have to be cancelled," continued the pop star. "I hate to do it as I know how much we have all looked forward to this vacation, but the problem needs to be resolved as quickly as possible."
Nikki nodded, for she expected to hear such news. After all, action couldn't very well be taken whilst they were overseas. "I understand." Although the reason for the cancellation of the trip displeased her greatly, she had to admit, a few good things would come out of it, like Michael would be given more time to let his leg heal, as there was still a ways to go before the spider bite faded completely. ‘And at least I will get to be there for Becky in person and go to her grandmother's funeral.' A tiny part of her didn't mind the trip ending so early, if it meant she would be there for her best friend. "So when do we leave?"
"First thing tomorrow morning." Michael knew he was taking a huge gamble with this since the Arviso children could be destroying the home at that very moment, but it was the best he could do as arrangements had to be made. He only hoped and prayed one of the staff members would somehow be able to keep them in check until then.
"Oh. Well, I quite agree. The sooner you deal with this, the better. " Nikki massaged her temples upon realizing what leaving the very next day would mean. No trip to Disney World, (although it had been up in the air and not a definite plan), and they would have to cram all the shopping sprees into one day, thus making the entire trip seem rushed. She reminded herself to think of the positives in order to try and pacify her rage towards the Arviso children, but it wasn't easy for her to control her urge of wanting to throttle them the next time she saw them. She let her hair fall around her face a bit, trying to keep calm and remain optimistic that everything would be all right. ‘Goodness...the mood is so somber...I can't stand it.' "I do have some good news," she said, desperate to change the subject.
The corners of the pop star's lips curled up ever so slightly. "Oh, what is it?" With all the madness regarding the Arviso children putting a damper on the vacation, anything remotely positive would make him feel better.
Nikki took out an elastic ponytail holder and pulled her hair back from her face into a lazy ponytail whilst responding, "I got an A- in my Biology class." She said it as if she still had a hard time believing it, trying not to sound like she was bragging.
This piece of news was enough to put a genuine smile on Michael's face for the first time since the phone call. He always encouraged people to work to their full potential so knowing his adopted daughter did that made his heart swell with pride. "Sweetie, that's wonderful! I'm proud of you." He leaned forward and gave Nikki a quick peck on the forehead, hugging her close to him.
Nikki smiled brightly. She was pretty proud of herself, too, considering Biology wasn't always her favorite subject. She decided to wait till later to break the news of Becky's grandmother's death, as she didn't want to ruin the moment. Not when she was able to lighten the mood a bit. She looked outside and saw the others sitting on a bench in front of the jewelry store entrance, patiently waiting. She felt like a fool because she had almost forgotten they were there. "Anyway, I've also come to help you out of here. We don't have much time, so we had better get going now." It took everything inside her to suppress the anger she felt about the vacation being cut so short because of some wild and out of control delinquents. ‘Oh well...might as well make the most of it...no way am I letting those insolent children put a damper on my vacation.' She looked over her shoulder at Michael before opening the door on her side. "Hey Dad? Should I get the wheelchair for you or will you be using your cane?"
Michael scrunched his brow, considering this. The leg was on the mend and he knew sooner or later that he would have to test it. "I think I can manage with the cane now."
Nikki wanted to ask if he was sure but she figured he felt good enough to take a chance. ‘Maybe the Motrin has finally kicked in. I don't know. He would be the better judge of that than I.' "Okay." She retrieved his cane and got out, walking around to his side and opening the door for him. She handed the cane to him and reached out a hand for him to take. "Come on, I'll help you."
The singer hesitated for a second, as if he were beginning to have second thoughts about using this method to get around, but seeing Nikki's reassuring smile made him relax and he took her hand, allowing her to help him out of the car. He positioned the cane on the ground and she held his hand tightly, leading him over to the remainder to the crew. He still walked with a limp, but still better than when he first received the bite. Even with the cane and his adopted daughter's assistance, the pace was rather slow. He hoped it would hold up during the shopping trips.
Kerri was stooped down on her knees, retying Prince's shoelaces for him as they had looked like they were about to come undone any minute and she didn't want him tripping. She finished tying the laces on the left shoe before announcing, "There you go, bud," and standing back up.
Prince looked down at his shoes, examining the work his elder sister had done. "Thank you, Big Sister."
"Anytime, darling." Kerri ruffled the little boy's hair and then she spotted Nikki with Michael coming to join them. She smiled slightly when she saw him using the cane, pleased to see that he was making even the smallest bit of progress. ‘Hopefully he'll be back to normal in another week or two.' "Oh there you are. "
"Dadda!" announced Blanket.
"That's right, Blanket," said Kerri. "It's your daddy." She playfully pinched his cheeks and he giggled.
"Daddy!" Prince and Paris ran to their father with radiant smiles on their faces and threw their arms around his knees, which was so sudden he would have come close to falling over had it not been for Nikki holding his hand.
Michael chuckled as he patted their heads affectionately. "Careful," he warned gently. "You don't want me to fall over, do you?"
Both children released their hold. Prince said, "Sorry," just before Paris answered, "Nooo, we don't want you to fall over. We love you very very much!"
"I love you more."
Wayne got up from the bench, followed by Bill and Grace. "Are you ready to go, Mr. Jackson?" asked Bill.
Michael lightly scratched his head. "Yes. We have a lot to do and our time is limited."
"You're right. Let's go."
Grace pushed Blanket's stroller towards the door. A security officer who happened to be guarding the store immediately opened the door, holding it open when he noticed Grace pushing the stroller and Michael using his cane as a walking aid. Nikki nodded "thank you" to the officer and led Michael into the store, Grace, Wayne, Bill, Kerri following behind with Blanket, Paris and Prince in tow.
Kerri looked around the store to see how busy it appeared to be and noticed there were no other customers. ‘Hmmm...could the store be closed for everyone except for us? If that's the case, then I'm not surprised. It honestly makes things so much easier, especially for Dad.' She twisted her mouth to the side, pondering whether she should go find somewhere to sit with Paris and Prince or not. She was in the mood to take a look around, even if she didn't buy anything. ‘I could use a nice pair of earrings, though...not that I really need them. Should I get permission to take the children with me or leave them with Grace?' She was sure Paris would want to come, although she didn't know if she could say the same for Prince. She began to debate in her mind whether she should take a chance and ask him.
Grace looked up from where she had been pushing Blanket's stroller, and noted Kerri's pensive state. "Kerri, you could leave Prince and Paris with me if you would like to do some shopping."
Kerri raised an eyebrow slightly, wondering how Grace could possibly know what she was trying to figure out, but inwardly she was smiling about the nanny coming to the rescue."Thank you. However, I was going to take Paris with me. I would appreciate it if you did watch Prince for me, though."
Grace opened her mouth to question whether Kerri was sure about this, then closed it and nodded. "All right. That's fine."
"Thank you." Kerri led Prince over to Grace, whispering into his ear, "If you promise to be a good boy for Grace I will give you a treat. "
Prince gave a big grin. "Okay! I promise!"
Smiling, Kerri took Paris by the hand and walked away, to where the earrings were, passing Michael and Nikki on the way. ‘How perfect. As soon as Paris and I are done here, we'll know where to find Dad.'
Meanwhile, Michael and Nikki were by the necklace and finger ring stands. So far, Michael's leg was decently holding up, but he didn't want to jinx it, so he was prepared to sit down and rest it if he had to.
Nikki took a glimpse at all the different type of necklaces, and saw quite a few that caught her eye, like one with a Pegasus shaped pendant. ‘Oh man, there are so many possibilities it's hard to resist temptation. I suppose one won't hurt though. ‘ She reached for the necklace and stood in the mirror, holding it close to her neck. She made a face showing her approval. ‘Hmmm...not too bad. It will match my Pegasus earrings perfectly.' She decided to hold onto it so she could pay for it when Michael found something for Mariann. "Dad? What do you have in mind for Mariann?"
"Well..." Michael stood his cane up and leaned against it a bit, tapping his chin. Mariann had not told him what type of jewelry she preferred, so he would have to go by what he often saw her wearing. However, he wanted to get her a special gift. "Anything appropriate for special occasions, but simple."
Nikki nodded. "I understand. Well how about you sit down and rest your leg and I'll see if I could find something? I'm sure I can." Not that she didn't trust Michael to, she just thought it would look less weird if she was seen picking out jewelry given that she was a woman, after all.
Michael gave a grateful smile, mostly because he would be saved the embarrassment he would feel if he received weird looks from salespeople for shopping for a woman's gift, and he thought giving his leg a rest was a good idea. "All right. I'll be sitting here until you're ready." He limped over to one of the small sofa-like chairs and gingerly sat down, resting the cane in his lap.
Humming softly, Nikki went back to looking at the different necklaces and rings, taking her time so she would choose the right one. She frowned as she looked at most of them...they were either too gaudy, too plain, or too extravagant. She spotted some flashy, stylish jewelry that looked like something she would wear, and they looked really tempting. ‘No Nikki...you've already picked up something. It's time to focus on Mariann now. ‘ She tore her eyes away, knowing her taste in jewelry would not be Mariann's style at all. ‘Okay, in order to make choosing easy for me I obviously have to think of what I would want if I were looking for formal, yet simple accessories.' She did see jewelry she would wear if she wanted to be a bit more elegant, but they didn't seem just right. She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. ‘Shopping for jewelry is proving to be more difficult than I thought and time is not on our side, to say the least.'
Just as the young woman was beginning to panic, she spotted a ring studded with diamonds and sapphires. Formal, but not overly ostentatious. ‘Perfect.' She pulled it off the rack and looked at the price. It was certainly expensive, but within the price range Michael typically spent on jewelry. She breathed a sigh of relief that she was getting somewhere. She remembered spotting a silver necklace with a heart shaped pendant just awhile ago. She held the ring next to it to see how they looked together. ‘Wow, they fit wonderfully together. ‘ She picked up the necklace, and went over to Michael to show him what she found. "Dad, I'm done now. "
Michael looked up at his adopted daughter, smiling slightly. "Hello. Did you find anything?"
"I most certainly did." Nikki handed the ring and pendant necklace to Michael so he could see. She watched as he carefully scrutinized them, eager to know if he approved or disapproved. His silence was making her sweat nervously. ‘Oh no. What if they're all wrong?' Her fears vanished when he looked up, beaming. "What do you think?"
"These are beautiful. Mariann will love them."
Nikki smiled, feeling proud of herself that the lengthy time she spent deciding had proven to not be in vain. "Thank you. I'm glad you think so." She showed Michael the Pegasus necklace. "I picked that one up for myself."
Michael nodded and chuckled softly, not at all surprised, for he knew how much she loved unicorns and other mythical beings. "This is cute. I'll get it for you."
"It's all right, Dad. You don't have to do that. I have-" Nikki started to object, but Michael gave her a look, one of those "just allow me to treat you and say thank you" kind of looks, which silenced her. She gulped, cringing when she saw him frowning at her and looking very hurt. She could just hear his lecture now. "I'm sorry if I have forgotten my place," she said. ‘Darn it! I really need to keep my mouth shut.'
Michael's frown softened a tad. He let out a heavy sigh. "Nikki, I have a question and I want an honest answer. Why must you try to object when I offer to buy things for you?"
Nikki squirmed and lowered her head in shame. She honestly wasn't entirely sure why she did that at times, either, except to say this time around, she wasn't really thinking. She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I guess sometimes I get caught up with wanting to be independent. "
"Sweetheart, I can understand that you want to be independent, but remember that I do things for you because I want to and I love you. This happens to be one of the rewards for your hard work."
A part of Nikki had been prepared to be treated for the A- minus she received in her Biology class, but she felt a bit silly asking for something Michael might or might not consider frivolous, especially considering she bought her own little trinkets whenever she could. Even so, she could tell she had hurt his feelings without meaning to. She sat next to him. "I know. I truly appreciate what you do for me. I'm sorry for not doing a better job at showing it."
Michael gave Nikki a warm, reassuring smile and patted her head. "It's all right. Just remember what I told you."
"I will do my best. I promise. "
"Good. Do you need anything else, or are you ready to go?"
"No, I have pretty much found what I wanted here. Let's go find everyone else." Nikki got up, helped Michael to stand and they started to head towards the cash register together. When they were about half-way there, they heard a couple of voices calling after them. They turned around to see who it was. There stood Kerri and Paris, waving their hands to alert them of their presence.
"Come, Paris, let's go. " Kerri took Paris by the hand, walking briskly to catch up with her sister and Michael.
"Hi Daddy! Nikki!"
"Hi Dad. We're ready if you and Nikki are."
"Hi, you two."
"We were just about to go to the cash register," said Nikki.
Kerri looked relieved. She was worried she and Paris had kept them waiting. "All right. Let's go. "
The Arviso children had slept off their hangovers, and were in the mood to wreak even more havoc. Trashing the young women's room simply wasn't enough for them, yet they couldn't stop laughing at what they had done.
"Could you just imagine the looks on those two loser girls' faces once they see how we messed up their room?" asked Star, pulling himself into a sitting position on the bed.
Gavin burst out laughing. "Yeah. Remind me to put some film in our camcorder so we could have it on tape for Mom to see."
"Now that you mentioned it, where is Mom, anyway?"
"She's getting some kind of wax treatment, remember?"
Star smacked his forehead. "Oh right. I almost forgot." He wondered what his mother would say, considering she typically let him and his siblings do whatever they wanted.
Davelin stretched herself out on the bed as she listened to the two boys gloat about their destruction. "It would be even funnier to see their reactions when their dad grounds them for a very long time. There's no way that old lady of a maid could have cleaned up everything in that room. She's much too lazy and some of the damage would take lots of money to fix-money they don't have."
"Hell yeah! They deserve it anyway!" Gavin got a smug look on his face, and then it turned into a full-fledged evil grin. "Hey guys, let's go outside for awhile. I'm sure there are some things we could do to cause trouble."
"Yeah, you're right." Star smiled to himself, thinking of the one time all three of them terrorized the animals by throwing things at them and used the rides without permission. The security guards had been beyond livid, but that hadn't moved them in the least.
Davelin sat up and ran her hands over her face. "Good idea. I could use some fresh air anyway." She pulled a bag of pot from her knapsack, as well as a couple of smoking pipes, enough for Star, Gavin and herself. She and her brothers slipped on their shoes and snuck outside through a back door so no one would see them.
Feeling giddy with excitement, Gavin spread his arms and spun around as if he were a helicopter. "Yahoo! I can't wait for the fun to begin! "
"Neither can I!" Star did a leap frog type of jump.
Davelin shook her head and laughed at her two younger brothers. "I know you can't, you knuckleheads. I have a surprise for you both."
Gavin gazed at his sister with curious eyes. "Oooo, what is it?"
"Yeah, what is it?"
"It's this!" Davelin pulled out the bag of pot and smoke pipes from her jeans pocket.
"Oh goody!" Both boys eyed the pot as if they hadn't smoked in years.
The teen girl smiled. "I knew you two would like it." She handed them the smoking pipes and passed the bag of pot around. When they were through lighting their pipes, they passed the bag back to her.
"Thank you, sis." Gavin and Star put their pipes into their mouths and smoked them.
Davelin coughed loudly as the smoke was in her face. "Easy, you two, not right in front of me." She coughed some more.
"Sorry." Gavin and Star stepped away from her as they continued to smoke.
Davelin took a few moments to recover from her mini-coughing fit, then pulled out her own smoking pipe and lit it with the pot and started to smoke along with her brothers.
Just then, a group of fangirls surrounded the gates of Neverland, bearing Get Well Soon gifts for the King of Pop, as they had seen his interview where he opened up about the spider bites. They placed their gifts on the pavement and some on the gate as well, such as Get Well cards, poster boards with heartfelt messages on them and bouquets of flowers. The fans started to chant, "MICHAEL! MICHAEL!!MICHAEL!! WE LOVE YOU, MICHAEL!"
The Arviso children instantly dropped their smoking pipes when they heard the chanting and an evil plan formulated in their minds. They smirked as they picked up some rocks and sticks and threw them in the fangirls' direction. "Hey you stupid girls! Shut up!" yelled Gavin.
The fans ducked their heads as they saw the projectiles coming but the sticks and rocks bounced off their backs. They stood up, rubbing their backs as they groaned in pain and glared at the children. "Hey you spoiled rotten little mongrels! What's your problem?"
"You!" Star picked up the smoking pipes and threw it at the fangirls' heads, only they were not prepared for this one and the pipes ended up hitting them.
Screaming, the fangirls ran away, but not before yelling that the children would pay for what they did in one way or another.
Gavin just laughed at the fangirls. "Oh I'm so scared!" He and Star grabbed some of the gifts the girls had left and threw them in their direction as they were running. "That's it, run away and don't come back or else!!"
Davelin took the bouquet of flowers off the gate and was about to throw them on the ground to stomp on when she heard three deep, gruff male voices loudly clearing their throats, causing her to jump a mile and drop the flowers. Once she recovered from her shock, she whirled around sharply and saw three big, tall, muscular men standing there with their hands on their hips and stern expressions on their faces. "What the hell are you three goons doing out here?" she demanded to know. "And how long have you been watching us?"
One of the security guards whose name was John looked at the sixteen year old calmly and answered, "Never mind what we're doing. That's the question we should be asking you. And to answer your last question, we were out here long enough to see you children terrorize Mr. Jackson's fans."
Davelin eyed the three men up and down. "Terrorizing? We didn't do anything like that. We were just having fun with them."
"Yeah, lighten up," chimed Gavin.
"Well from the looks of things, it certainly did not seem like your actions fit your description," said John. "Nor can you children be trusted to have innocent fun."
"We were, though," insisted Davelin. "They just don't have any sense of humor."
"And our idea of fun is none of your business!" spat Star.
The three security guards sighed heavily and looked as if they were trying not to lose their temper to the extent where they would end up doing something drastic. "You have had more than enough fun. Now it's time to go back inside."
Gavin stuck out his jaw defiantly and folded his arms. "Make us. "
"Yeah, make us," agreed Star. "I'll bet you're not as tough as you look."
John, Keith and Darren almost wanted to laugh at the children challenging them. "Try us. See what will happen."
"Gladly!" Gavin, Star and Davelin ran at the guards and brought their knees up to knee them in their groins but before they could make the connection, the men grabbed them, threw them over their shoulders and carried them back inside the house. Of course the children tried to get free by punching and kicking the security guards in their backs but the men were too strong. "Hey! Put me down or you'll be sorry!" each of the children yelled. The men ignored the demands, continuing to carry the children through the house and did not stop until they came to a basement. They carried the children inside and sat each of them down.
"You children will stay here for the rest of the day and until Mr. Jackson returns," Keith declared. He and his colleagues exited the basement and locked the door, leaving the Arviso children to kick, scream and throw hissy fits. He sighed and rubbed his forehead, wondering how high his blood pressure must be at the moment. No child guest had ever tested his patience to such an extent before. As drastic as it was to lock the Arviso children in the basement, the good thing about it was that they would not be able to access anything used to cause more mischief or entertain themselves. ‘I just hope Mr. Jackson returns soon.'