by Stephanie


        The sidewalks glistened with crystal ice as pedestrians walked hurriedly to their destinations. There was a vast variety of people on the busy streets but only one that was vital to the mission. Nikita leaned against a cold marble statue and appeared to be waiting for someone. From the position she could easily see Michael across the street, seated on a cherry oak bench, and six other operatives who were scattered around the premisses. Without warning, Joel Casheder emerged behind a child. The boy's mother, sensing nothing amiss as she looked into a outdoor shop, did not notice when Joel covered the boy's mouth and led him quickly to a nearby building. Nikita noticed however as did Michael and the other operatives, and the descended upon the building with hurried casualty. Nikita was the first to reach the ally where the building's entrance lay. She waited for Michael to catch up and they entered together, weapons drawn, with the others trailing behind them.

        Nikita looked around the sparse room. It had a old, deteriorating wooden floor and white plaster walls. In one corner stood the young boy. Not five feet from him stood Joel, gun trained on the child.

        Nikita cursed under her breath. Since when had this become a hostage situation? She felt Michael tense beside her and knew that he would risk injury to the innocent if it there was no other way to get to Joel.

        "Put down your weapons or the child dies." Joel stated calmly with the serene expression Madeline so frequently evoked. Nikita shivered as she saw Michael making no move to lower the weapon. She had her orders and had to decide whether or not to lower the weapon and go against them, or follow through. She never made her decision.

        The door directly to her left, the one that was blended in the wall so well she had not seen it, burst open and three men opened fire upon the operatives. Reacting immediately, Nikita threw herself behind a dip in the wall and took out on of the men. More filed out of the door, spewing bullets in every direction.

        Ten men now stood in the middle of the room as a defense to Joel. They had stopped firing and Nikita stood silently behind her cover. She had estimated casualties in what little she had seen, thinking it probable that four operatives remained living and four lay on the ground before the terrorists. It was had been a bloody massacre and the once white walls were splashed with an ugly crimson color, from both blood and brain tissue.

        Joel made the mistake of turning around, thereby removing himself from the cover of his men. With one shot, Michael shot him directly between the eyes. Nikita, hearing the commotion, flew around the corner of the wall and took out six of the men who had been to preoccupied with their leaders sudden death to register a defense.

        Nikita dove back to her position as the bullets began to fly again, this time not being so lucky. She was hit in her abdomen and the blood ran black as she slumped against the plaster. Pressing her hand to the wound she looked down.

        Tissue and flesh hung around a gaping hole in her lower stomach. Ebony blood flowed around it, threatening her life. Michael ran over to her, the fight over and everyone but three operatives dead.

        "Michael. . .Did we get Joel?" Nikita asked, struggling to stay conscious.

        "No Nikita, he's dead. Don't worry about that. You're going to be fine, just help me here and apply pressure." Michael worked frantically, waiting for the van and trying to pick her up. Nikita smiled at his reassurance.

        "No Michael. See? The blood is black. That means that the bullet is in my liver, I probably have twenty minutes to live at the most. . .I remember my MedLab classes. . ."Her voice trailed off and Michael choked back a quiet sob. She couldn't die here. Not like this.

        Finally, the van pulled up and Michael loaded her into the back. When they reached Section five minutes later, Nikita was unconscious and fading fast.

        Madeline watched as the stretcher approached her from down the hall. She could clearly see Michael's worried expression from her position even from this distance. That was a bad thing. Then again, if it were acceptable for her to wear an expression, her look would have mocked his. She was worried. Very worried.

        Michael did not even notice Madeline's presence. He continued to hold on to Nikita's hand even as they approached the operating room. That is, until Madeline stopped him. She placed a cool, perfectly manicured hand on his arm in the unspoken request to let the doctors do their jobs. He let go of Nikita and they watched together as the stretcher descended into the spotless white room.

        "She is going to be fine, Michael." Madeline stated, knowing that she wasn't being helpful. She wasn't even convincing herself with that statement.

        "Yes, of course." Michael answered, deciding to play along. Maybe if they pretended as though that would be true, fiction would become fact.

~Remember the good times that we had
Let them slip away from us when the day's gone bad
Clearly I first saw you, standing in the sun
When I feel your world upon me, I won't be alone~

        Michael stood in the entrance to Nikita's room. She lay upon the white bed with a calm expression on her pale face. "A drug induced sleep. . ." Michael remembered the doctor's words, but more importantly, he remembered Madeline's expression. This was not good. They didn't know how long she would hold on. But there was one thing that they did know. She wasn't going to be coming back. After the drug wore off it was up to her to come back. They weren't optimistic.

         "Nikita, I know you can't hear me. There is something I have to tell you." Michael stopped, not sure how to go on. He took her pale, fragile hand into his. She remained as passive as ever.

~ I'm so tired, I can't sleep
Standing on the edge of something much too deep
Funny how we feel so much, we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, we can't be heard~

        Michael reached up to her face and ran a finger down the length of it. A tear escaped his usually inscrutable eyes. Quickly, he withdrew the hand and brushed the tear aside.

        "Do you remember last Christmas? We never gave each other presents. I would like to do that this year, I have a great idea." Michael knew he was rambling, avoiding the subject.  "Everyone is worried about you, Nikita. We want you back. I want -need- you back. Please come back to us." Michael asked softly, rubbing his finger against her unresponsive hand. He decided to leave. He was doing no good here. Standing abruptly, Michael headed for the door. On a last thought, he turned back. Nikita lay there, quiet as ever and Michael's heart ached.

        "I love you Nikita." He whispered, voice catching on a sob. As quietly as he had come, Michael left.

~So afraid to love you, more afraid to lose
Clinging to a past that won't let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep in this night
You gave me everything you have, you gave me life~

~Song by Sarah McLachlan, Remember Me~

Part 2