A.N. Sorry it's taken forever to update. My life's been busy and then when I finally had time to update, FictionPress hasn't been working (at least not for me). Ugh. Anyways, here's another, and I'll try to make sure there's yet another soon.

Review, review! Tell me what you think!

--RLB


Nova

She'd fallen asleep, I was pretty sure. The corners of her mouth were turned up. She was undoubtedly thinking about her mom.

What about her dad? I wanted to meet him. What if he was the key to making her happy? What if he wasn't and I screwed things up worse just trying?

"Massive internal organ failure." Her voice was sharp.

"What?"

She sat up, wide awake. She hadn't been sleeping after all. "I think we really need to paint up here. I'd love to do murals if you don't mind. You could help, if you wanted. I could show you were I wanted areas of one color and you could do it like a color by numbers."

"What?"

"We'll have to do something with all these trunks and chests and boxes and whatnot too. What are they all from anyways? We could make ourselves thrones as King and Queen of Noplace."

"Are you bipolar, by any chance?"

She glared at me, "No. What about adding some light? Do you think we could wire a light up here or would that be way too complicated? It's definitely a bit dreary up here nearing dusk. As it gets dark earlier, it would certainly help to have good lighting."

I stared up at the roof. This girl was insane. Of course, who was I to really judge that? "Okay."

Nika consumed me, I realized. Nothing else mattered, nothing else was relevant, there was nothing else when I was with Nika. It was, to a great extent, what I had had when I still had Devon and Alex and Mattie. This time, however, instead of being spread over three people, my focus was on only one.

Per her directions, we rearranged the attic. She babbled a lot, surprisingly. It was mostly nonsense chatter about the weather, properties of dust, useless facts. Occasionally she'd start singing in a mostly lovely voice. They were all older songs; a lot of heartfelt Beatle's songs and strange warblings from Pink Floyd. She sounded fine, really. I recognized the distance in her eyes and voice as memories. She would forget where she was, I think, taken away by music.

Or maybe I was being fanciful.

"Nika?" A thought struck my brain, a rare arrow of insight managing to hit my head. "May I go to your house sometime?"

She stopped belting Magical Mystery Tour in mid-word and stared at me. I had never seen a deer, and definitely never one in headlights, but I imagined the cliche described something like the look on her face. It was beyond just being stunned. It was like taking her from a dark and peaceful, if unstable, world she knew and suddenly being dropped into a situation she was never designed for. She honestly had no idea what to do or say.

"Sorry. That was way out there, totally out of field or whatever that baseball analogy is. Out of left field? Into left field?"

"Yes." She was still frozen.

"Yes? To which? Is is out or in?"

"Okay."

I was tempted to ask again if she was manic-depressive on super high speed, because her moods changed like a TV channel when nothing's on. I kindly refrained. Probably one of my best moments. In my small silence contemplating this idea, she moved, breathed, and finally explained herself.

"Would you like to come over to my house after school next Friday?"

I realized my entire body had been tensed. At her answer, my muscles released and I let out a deep breath. "I wuould love to, m'lady."

The next two days, Nika didn't come over to the attic after school. It surprised me; normally she simply jumped in my car as if she lived with me. Well, it was pretty much like she did. Her absence worried me. Had I upset her by asking to go to her house? Did she think I didn't want her around mine?

The third day, she hopped back in my car as usual. "May we stop by the hardware store?"

I don't believe I actually was capable of saying no to anything she asked, so to the hardware store we went.

I followed her around as she filled a cart with paint, sandpaper, varnish, hammers, nails, extention cords and some powerful lights. She walked purposefully, going directly to each section of the store as if she'd already mapped out her shopping trip in her mind. Probably she had.

She paid for everything with a debit card. I glanced at it in surprise when she whipped it out at the register. The raised letters read "David Phi". I didn't say anything for fear of upsetting her and simply watched her confidently type in a pin number.

"Thank you, Miss Fee, have a great day!" The cashier smiled cheerfully.

"Phy. You also."

As I trailed after her to the car, I realized today I'd seen something that rarely left the attic: an unfailing sense of self-confidence.