"I'm not afraid....  I'm not afraid."  Nikita's brave voice rang throughout the Section One briefing area.  Those courageous words sounded a death knell in Michael's ears, and a deadening silence replaced the sound his passionate heart once made.  He still had difficulty believing the scene he had witnessed.  Nikita had challenged Operations to defend Section One's policies and strategies.  True, she had been working for Operations all along, but capped the praise Operations had given her with her own form of blackmail.

        Nikita had tried to deceive Michael and had conclusively succeeded. He had been suspicious of her, but the true deception that he could now begin to see was that she had protected him.  His loyalty to Section had been tested, and because she played the part of the ultimate operative that ‘he' had taught her to be, she had succeeded.  Now Michael knew, really knew how, Nikita's heart broke each time in the past that he had manipulated her.  Now he knew how she felt when she realized that he had told her  half-lies.  His Section lies to her had been truths to him, but she had not been able to peer into his divided heart and see the unspoken emotions that rampaged there, for he had hidden them from himself as well.

        A final kiss on her sweet cheek and a shared embrace could not be their  last moment.  It could not be, but why else would he have taken the risk for that moment.  Why risk his own life by showing that there was a bond between them.  All his denials for the last four years had been erased by that last inescapable gesture of sweet agony.  This could not be the end.  Section simply could not take the only light in his life and  extinguish the flame that had burned there since Nikita had first come to him.  He had not told her the words she needed to hear.  No. No.  No.  Not yet.  It's too soon. The words began to rage in his mind.


        Michael sat in his darkened office, for he had closed the blinds and not bothered with any illumination.  My life is dark for now and forever, he thought.  Why try to pretend that a feeble fluorescent light will make my pain go away with the darkness.  Damn it, Nikita!  Why couldn't you have found a way to tell me how Operations was using you.  Do you trust me so little!  I have protected you, and I have risked my life countless times,  always to keep you safe and near me.

        The tortured thoughts roiled like storm-tossed waves through Michael's mind.  I was selfish to bring you back.  Selfish.  I should have been content to know that you were alive after all those months of fear and worry that you were dead.   I was selfish to make love to you when I knew I couldn't have you forever.  I was selfish to take the love you
offered so sweetly and never give you anything in return but delays and evasions.  The truth was and is I didn't want to live without you, and  I could not have existed any longer in that fugue state of anomie.

        Why couldn't you have been patient like I asked you to be.  What are a few months compared to the possibility of our being canceled.  Didn't you understand that I have been under Operations' microscope as much as you have these past years.  Did I ever tell you, that if you fail, I fail.  No, I know I didn't tell you.  That would have made you doubt my motivation even more!

        No one asked you to ‘save the world,' Nikita.  Certainly not I.  I was proud of you, and at the same time I wanted to shout, ‘Have you lost your min d?'  You challenged him in a way I have only dreamed.  But I have challenged him, Nikita.  Every  time I covered for you and every time I lied for you, I challenged him.  My way is more subtle and only a little less dangerous.

        Why can't you just do the job, Nikita?  With this recurrent thought in his mind, Michael heaved the desk lamp across the room, and it crashed along with pieces of his heart.


         Michael knew that if he could convince her to take what time she had left to run, she would have a chance.  He knew that if had followed  Operations orders and tried harder to crush her streak of compassion, she wouldn't be spending these her last remaining hours waiting to know her fate.  He thought about going to Madeline, pleading with her, promising her anything to allow Nikita to live,  even to the point of offering his life for hers.  He also knew that Nikita would not change, nor would Operations.  He had told Operations the she was strong, but Michael had never understood that so clearly until today.  Faced with an unconscionable horror, Nikita had chosen to stand tall and never
waver until her decision was made.

         Michael thought he should pray.  In fact, he had been brought up to pray, but had not dared since his imprisonment.  He felt he did not deserve an answer to his prayer.  He knew that certainly did not deserve Nikita, but Nikita ‘did' deserve to live.  Michael knew, if he had been uncertain before, that Nikita had been a true innocent when had come to
Section One.  She had been as innocent as those she constantly tried to protect every day on every mission.

         Nikita should not have to pay for his misguided leadership, but pay dearly she would, it seemed.  To Michael this was the ultimate punishment for his earlier crime.  His hope, he future and his redemption were totally contained in this one stalwart and uncompromising woman, and without her his life in this place would not be worth living.


        Michael's shoulders began to shake with the tears that until this moment he had never been able to shed.  He cried for his son and for Simone.  He cried for Nikita and for himself, large shaking sobs of gut-wrenching agony--devastating to witness in the man who never showed any emotion.

        He knew he could not live without her.  Every cell in his body vibrated to the same internal rhythm as hers.  He always knew when she entered Section, for the energy around him was changed and charged.  Nikita would have called it intuition, but Michael only knew that his heart was destined  to be hers, that to see her face was to breathe freer, and to hear her voice gave his body an incredible lightness of being.

         To lose those feelings was more than Michael could comprehend, for an enormous part of his life would be missing.  He remembered how he had reeled during the six months he had not known if she were dead or alive.  Not knowing had been horrible, but to truly know that she was gone from him forever,  would be  to know that he could not
continue to exist in that knowledge.  His decision was made.


         Michael pulled the 9mm from its case.  The metallic surface shone with a dull luster as he ran his hand along the barrel.  This weapon had never failed him, nor would it now.  He would wait for the call, the call that would reveal Nikita's fate and would seal his.
        With an automatic movement born from years of practice,  he checked the clip and reinserted it.  Another swift automatic motion, and it was ready.  But he would wait, he could not leave before his Nikita.  His Nikita, he had no right to call her that.  She did not belong to him.  She had always belonged to herself.  Michael closed his eyes to wait in the darkness of his office that was only eclipsed by the darkness in his heart.


        "Michael, we've reached a decision," came Madeline's voice over his intercom to interrupt his last moment of peace.  Michael took the gun into his right hand, and caressed it with his left.  It was his comrade, and it would finally stop the interminable agony he felt now.

         "Put away the gun, Michael.  Nikita will not be canceled, but the rules have changed.  My office now.

         Anything, anything, he promised as he took a deep breath to compose his mind and body.  He could do anything as long as Nikita's unwavering light still burned in the dark heart of Section One.

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