Part II

        Michael stared unseeingly into his computer screen. He was supposed to be reviewing the report that had been written by the other qualified operative while he was with Nikita. Nikita. The mere mention of her name brought on feelings of love and sadness. He knew that if he wanted to know why Nikita had been hurt, he had better read over the mission report and psych evaluations.

        "How dare you!" Michael shouted as he entered Madeline's office. She looked up at him, a shocked expression shadowing her elegant features.

         "I'll have to get back to you." Madeline stated as she canceled the video conference, never taking her eyes off of Michael. He was very angry and agitated. His stance, arms hanging at sides-hands balled into fists- and legs spread slightly apart, mimicked typical battle stance. She wondered what had caused this fury. Deciding the quickest way to get an answer would be to ask, Madeline did just that.

         "What can I do for you Michael?" She queried, serene expression in place.

         Michael knew he was treading on fragile ground. Barging into Madeline's office, shouting at her and forcing her to end a conference would have been grounds for either immediate cancellation or deep psychological analysis if he were anyone else. Beneath her calm exterior; he knew she was furious.

         "You can start by explaining why the fact that Joel Casheder's profile was incomplete." Madeline's face grew dark once more.

         "Excuse me?"

        "You failed to include the fact that, on four separate occasions, Mr. Casheder has used children for shields when his life was threatened." Michael told her, fury ebbing it's way into his voice, "Don't you think that might have been helpful to the outcome of the mission? Knowing this, I never would have permitted the team to go any further."

        Madeline barely controlled herself while he was voicing these accusations.

         "First of all Michael, please remember who you are talking to. I do not appreciate it when people come barging into my office, shouting with accusations flying. Next time, remember that. Secondly, I did include that in my profile. Second paragraph." Madeline informed him, intertwining her thin fingers.

         "No, I read the profile that was downloaded from my Mission Pad. There was nothing there." Madeline sighed and turned to her computer. Entering numerous passwords, she pulled up a screen. Madeline turned the computer to Michael, showing him the information.

        "I don't understand. This wasn't in the profile I received." Michael mused aloud, all anger forgotten. Madeline accessed Michael's files for herself.

        "No, it wasn't. Any idea how that could have happened?" Madeline asked, equally intrigued.

        "I have an idea." Michael told her, jaw tightening once again.

        "Michael?" Madeline tried to get his attention but he was oblivious to everything around him. Madeline began to get worried.

        "Michael!" She tried again, her voice taking on a demanding quality. He turned his head back toward her quickly, eyes clearing.

        "Who Michael?" She asked, voice becoming softer as she realized she had his attention.

        "Operations." Madeline's jaw almost dropped. Michael must have been very stressed out to even think of blaming Operations.

         "Michael. . ." She began, about to protest. But he cut her off with a hand that asked her to wait for an explanation. She decided to give him at least that much.

         "Who else would have access to YOUR personal files? Birkoff might, and that is a might. He would never do that anyway. So who else?" His voice was challenging. Madeline thought about it for a moment, expression thoughtful.

         "Operations. . ." She gave reluctantly. Michael's face was one of pure hatred.

         "Exactly." He rose from his chair and proceeded to move to the door.

         "Michael." The spoken word was quiet but he heard it nonetheless. Turning around, he tapped his foot impatiently. Madeline rose from her chair, folding her hands in front of her body.
"Let me talk to him first." She stated, knowing if Michael didn't have time to cool down he would most probably kill Operations. Michael reluctantly sighed.

         "Alright Madeline." He stood aside and watched as her slim figure slowly walked down the hall.

         "But you better make it quick." The unheard was voiced in the softest voice. Unfortunately, no one heard it.

         "May I have a minute?" Madeline asked, standing in the door of Operations' office. He looked up, startled by her presence.

         "Yes, of course." He did not dare offer her a seat, as he would have done to anyone else. He smiled as he remembered the one and only time he had made that mistake.

         Madeline paced back and forth across the carpet, looking out over Section from the large window. Operations, shaken from his reverie, grew worried. She never paced. And most certainly, she never avoided the subject.

         "Madeline?" He asked. She looked over at him and decided to get down to it.

        "Did you erase part of my profile from Team One's hand-outs?" Madeline questioned, standing in front of his desk. Operations returned the look, outwardly calm, but knowing that he was caught. Madeline saw too much for him to lie.

         "Yes, I did." Madeline exhaled on a hiss. This was too much. Way too much.

         "Why did you do that?" Operations smiled. He was proud of the fact.

         "Because she was getting in the way. Nikita was unstable. She was operating on her emotions, taking situations into her own hands. I think it was the right choice."

         Madeline stared at him. Then, fury clouded her eyes.

         "So you decided to make this decision without informing me? This should have been OUR decision. Your decisions on personnel affects MY work. I handle Psych Ops, remember? You should have conferred with me." Madeline kept her voice level, staring at Operations with barely disguised contempt.

         "You would have disagreed. And I believe that your decision would have also been based on emotion. I made a call, and it was right."

         "No, you made a mistake. One that I have to pick up. Do you realize what you have done? I believe YOU were the one operating on emotions. Your interest was not in Section, your interest was in Michael. YOU want him to be the perfect operative. You want him to act without emotion. Section had nothing to do with this. Now you are not going to get anything you were striving for. Michael is an emotional mess. In fact, he barged in my office shouting tonight. If you want to make these kind of decisions, I suggest YOU be prepared to deal with the consequences." Madeline's voice was rising and she had to breath deeply to keep herself from taking out her gun and shooting him on the spot.

         Michael watched from below as the heated argument continued. He could not stand it. He had to do something.

         "You are WAY out of line Madeline!" Operations shouted, jumping up from his desk. Just then, the door burst open.

         Michael stood there, jaw tight with rage and eyes burning with fury.

         "Michael. Come in." Operations invited, sitting back down. Madeline backed away from him and went to stand by the window.

         "Did you delete information out of my team's profiles?" Michael asked, ignoring the chair and making no motion to indicate that he was moving further into the room.

         "Michael. Come in." Operations repeated, stubbornly waiting until his demand was met. Michael complied and moved towards Madeline. The furthest distance from Operations as possible.

         "Now, to answer you question, that is none of your business." Michael stared at the older man, not believing what he was hearing.

         "It is my business. That was MY team out there that you jeopardized. I think I deserve an explanation." Michael stated, controlling his rage.

         "You deserve nothing. But, if it will satisfy you, I will tell you what you want to hear. Yes, I deleted the information." Operations leaned back in his chair, curious to what Michael's reaction would be. If he were a betting man, he would have placed his money on attacking him.   Michael blinked.

         "Why?" Operations thought a minute and decided to give him the same explanation Madeline had gotten.

         "She was acting upon her emotions, causing missions to go a different way than anticipated. Therefore, she was trusting that we would be ready to clean up whatever consequences her actions left. We can't afford that." Michael stood straight and erect. He paused a moment before walking to the door without another word. When he was almost out of the office, Michael turned back around.

         "I'll get back to you on this." Then, he was gone. Madeline maintained her position by the window, observing Michael as he walked toward the punching bag. With one hit, it went flying across the room; hitting numerous people as it sailed towards its destination.

         "Threat or promise?" Operations asked, seeming to forget that they weren't on the best of terms. Madeline turned around slowly, erasing all emotion from her face.

         "If I had been the one to say it, it would have been a threat." Leaving Operations speechless, she left quietly.

************

         Michael stormed through Section, leaving behind an icy chill that made everyone he walked past shiver. He was furious. Beyond furious if that was possible. For the first time in Section he had wanted nothing but to jump across Operations' desk and strangle the man until he was the one in MedLab. This scared him. For it meant that, not only was his feeling for Nikita so strong that he would resort to violence to keep her safe, but it also meant that he was losing control. Control he needed to get back. He decided to visit Nikita.

        "Kita? Can you hear me?" Michael asked what had become a routine conversation opener for the two. Of course, Nikita didn't say a word. Sighing, Michael took her hand.

        "Nikita there is something I have to tell you. Your injury was not an accident. Operations deleted a critical piece of information from Madeline's Psych Profile. He wanted this to happen. I. . ." Michael's voice cracked. Chocking back a sob, he continued.

        "I don't know what to do. You have to come back to me." Michael felt hot tears running down his flushed cheeks. Finally letting all the emotion out. His emerald eyes were shining with tears that had yet to be shed as he climbed on the immaculate bedding, cradling Nikita in his arms. He stroked her golden hair and rocked her carefully. The tears would not stop.

        Michael left Nikita's bedside twenty minutes later in search of her doctor. When he saw her she was leaning over another patient, working hastily. Not wanting to interrupt, Michael stood back and watched her work. Her movements fluid and graceful, the doctor moved around the room with an experienced and self-assured air about her. Michael found this oddly comforting, knowing Nikita was in the hands of a woman who was so confident in her work. Losing himself in these thoughts, he barely realized when the emergency procedure was done. He looked up as the doctor was cleaning off her hands, giving her attention to this one task and nothing else.
Michael cleared his throat softly, causing the doctor to look up. Michael was stunned by the color of her eyes. They were a brilliant shade of azure, bright and shining with a happiness that was uncommon in both her line of work and the environment in which she lived. He realized how much they resembled Nikita's. It was uncanny. Mentally shaking himself, Michael quickly began to talk.

         "I'm Michael." He announced, breaking the silence and offering his hand. The doctor stared at it for a moment before taking the offering into her own light grasp.

        "Marie." "Oh, boy," she thought to herself, "I think I'm in heaven." Marie stared into Michael's lush green eyes as the introductions were made.

        "You are Nikita's doctor." Michael stated as they let go of each other's hands.

        Marie nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

         "Can you update me on her condition?" Michael asked, smiling gently. Marie's heart warmed at the slight grin that seemed to light up his features.

         "Why couldn't it be a yes or no question?" Marie wondered to herself, trying to find words.

         "Yes." Marie finally responded, "I'm on my way to her room now, I will tell you if anything is new when we get there." Michael nodded and followed her out the door, for the first time noticing the lemon colored locks that flowed freely down her back. She certainly resembled Nikita.

         Marie picked up Nikita's chart and flipped through it while Michael stood by Nikita's head, waiting for an update.

         "Well it seems as though nothing new has come up. I can only recommend that she spend her time in MedLab after we remove her from the painkillers. It is only up to her then." Marie placed Nikita's chart back on its appropriate spot and began an IV drip in the young woman's arm. When she was finished, Marie stepped away and began to descend upon the door.

        "If you need anything else, I will be here." Marie added on a last thought, twirling around to meet his gaze.

        "Thank you Marie." Michael's softly spoken voice carried to her, the French pronunciation giving her chills. Quickly she left, admonishing herself to keep a distance from all patients and persons related to them. Sometimes it was not easy. Not easy at all.

        Sneaking in was easy. No one payed attention in MedLab. His plan was almost foolproof. Entering the access code to Nikita's room, he stepped inside. With a practiced precision, he administered the drug into Nikita's IV line. Clear fluid mixed with the nutrients already being fed into her body. When Operations left, she was already turning a light shade of purple.

        "I need ten CC's of Alphropine now!" Marie shouted over the noise of the emergency operating room. Someone handed her a needle and Marie plunged it into Nikita's tender flesh, under her collarbone. Pushing the top down, the reddish colored fluid trailed into Nikita's blood stream. With what was an almost immediate reaction, Nikita began to turn back to her normal shade of pinkish brown. Marie heaved a sigh of relief. Now she had to tell Madeline.

        "We are unsure of what happened. The only thing that is known right now is that Nikita's air supply was cut of by a foreign object, could have been something in the air, and her lungs were tightening. I gave her ten CC's of Alphropine and she began to breathe right away. My hypothesis is that she was reacting to our lessening her painkillers." Marie informed both Madeline and Michael, without taking a breath. Madeline nodded and Michael stared.

        "So, I can visit her?" Michael asked, backing toward the door as he spoke. Madeline held up a hand.

        "Not until you get exactly one hour of sleep, certainly no less." Michael glared but Madeline had spoken. Michael could envision it now, guards posted at Nikita's door, waiting for him. And she would be the one to do it to.

        "Alright. One hour." With that said, Michael left. Sleep was not the foremost thing on his mind.

        Michael kicked off his black boots. Settling into his office chair, he turned on his computer. There was something he needed to do. There were only two people in Section who could access MedLab documents or recorded events whenever they felt like it, with the exception of Operations and Madeline. Birkoff was one and Michael was the other.

        During the estimated time when the incident in Nikita's room had occurred, the camera had conveniently lost its power source. Michael sighed and activated the camera out in the hallway, leading to Nikita's room. That to had failed. Michael slammed his hand on the desk in frustration. Then a thought occurred to him. Accessing Operations personal files, he knew that if he were caught he would be on grounds for cancellation. He then pulled up the erased files and began to go through them. With widening eyes, he found what he was looking for. Downloading the file and saving it to his hard drive, Michael canceled Operations' computer information. When he began to file through what he had downloaded it all began to make sense. And he was furious.

        "Why did you do it?" Operations turned around, facing his door. He could see the faint outline of a body in the dim light but nothing else. Nevertheless, he knew who it was.

        "Ah Michael. What do you want?" Operations asked, sitting back in his chair.

        "I want the truth."

         "I can't give you that."

         "You will." Michael started towards Operations. Operations did not say a word, not believing that Michael would actually do  anything. He was very, very wrong.

         "This is my last warning. Tell me now. It's such a simple question, what would a little information do?" Michael asked, his voice mocking. Operations shook his head "no".

        Michael picked him by his shirt and threw him on the ground. Operations' head hit the floor with a sickening thud. Blood poured down the right side of his face as he lifted his head and tried to sit up. Michael crossed the floor in a fluid motion, pressing Operations back into the carpet.

        "Tell me." He stated in a soft even tone. When Operations didn't answer, Michael pressed his palm at the base of Operations' neck. Soon he was chocking and gasping for breath.

         "Are you going to talk?" Michael asked, and smiled when Operations nodded through coughs.
 
         "Good."

         "I administered the drug to Nikita because there was a probable chance of survival. I have already told you that she was a danger to Section and I believe that she was making you soft."

        Michael's face went under a change as Operations spoke these last words. Pulling back a fist, he sneered at his superior. He didn't get to make the hit.

         A cool hand caught Michael's wrist, not allowing him to go further. Relief shone across Operations' while Michael looked up in anger.

         "Don't." This was the only word spoken by Madeline yet her eyes conveyed a thousand emotions. Michael stared into their ice chocolate depths and dropped his hand. Without a word, he gathered control and left the room.

         Madeline watched Michael go, her serene face portraying little emotion. Behind her, Operations rose and pressed a hand to his temple.

         "What are you going to do about that?" He asked sardonically. Without turning, Madeline replied.

         "Normally? I would do a Psych Evaluation and determine whether or not the operative is fit for his status."

         "And in these circumstances?" Operations prompted, a migraine starting to poud in his head.

         "I will give him another chance. He is out best operative." Madeline stated.

         "You will do what? He just attacked me!" Operations exclaimed.

         "I know. I have been thinking. Do you think it is emotionally healthy for one to carry all of his emotions, of varied kind, around for years without ways to express them?" Madeline asked. Operations scowled, it was obviously a trick question.

         "Do what you have to do." With that said, he left heading for his office. Madeline clasped her hands behind her back and lowered her head.

         "I didn't think so either." She spoke in a quiet, low voice.

Part 3