Part IV

        Michael sighed in resignation and reached for the ringing cell phone, sure that it was Madeline calling to tell him to stay away for a couple more hours. This time he was going to put up a fight.

 Upon hearing the news, Michael started for Section at a dead run. He had not strayed far, the park was a block from the entrance to Section, and arrived less than five minutes later.

            Madeline greeted him at Entry and, seeing her calm and collected, Michael slowed down. On the phone she had sounded anxious and mildly concerned but she seemed to have "recovered".

        "Is she awake?" Michael asked, his words still hurried. Madeline smiled gently.

         "Not yet." They walked side by side to MedLab, though their steps were noticeably faster. Michael had a thought and decided to voice it before he might forget.

         "Operations. . .is he alright?" Madeline's step faltered for a moment, shoulders sagging. A split second later she was walking at the previously set pace, back straight and jaw set.

         "He's fine." Her words were clipped. Just before going to Entry she had observed Operations walking around the entrance to MedLab. He had only grinned at her and walked in the opposite direction. They rounded the corner and MedLab came into view. Michael headed for Nikita's room while Madeline hung behind, looking for Operations.

         A presence was felt behind her and before she could turn and identify it, a strong arm embraced her waist, pulling her into a dark corner. Pressed against the wall, Madeline did not speak. She recognized who it was.

         "If she does not wake by tonight, kill her. Kill them both."

        Madeline stared at him in disbelief.

         "Was I not clear?" She asked, knowing she was close to being either canceled or perhaps something worse. The look on his face was one she would not soon forget.

         "Excuse me?" He asked menacingly. Madeline sensed his anger and subtlety flattened herself further back against the wall.

         "They are NOT to be canceled. Without them, Section won't function as well without them and you know it. Don't jeopardize the mission success of Section for petty feelings you are having." Operations recoiled as though he had been hit.

         "Madeline, I will give you the opportunity to remember who and where you are. Don't underestimate the lengths I can and will go to in order to make this happen. You have two choices." Madeline's eyes lowered and her face paled as he outlined her alternatives.


        Nikita rolled her head to one side and winced. There was a sharp pain in temple but it faded after a moment. She kept her eyes closed and wondered how long she had been asleep. Feeling something by her arm, she slowly opened her eyes.

        Michael lay by her side, head rested near her elbow. Nikita smiled softly and reached out. Fingering his soft cinnamon hair she let her eyes drift closed again.

        Michael awoke with a start at her touch, eyes immediately flying to her face. It was obvious to him that she was awake, despite her shut eyes, and he let himself absorb the sight of her. Michael reached out, delicately tracing her upper lip. Nikita opened her cornflower blue eyes and stared at him, a smile brightening the room. Michael smiled back, happier than he had ever been. Operations had failed. They would always be together.
        Madeline walked in Nikita's room to see Michael and Nikita locked in an embrace. She felt as though she was trespassing and waited a moment before clearing her throat softly. They parted immediately, yet reluctantly.

        "Nikita. It is good to see you awake." Madeline told the younger woman, smiling at her warmly. Nikita smiled back.

        "Thank you Madeline. What have I missed?" Madeline and Michael exchanged a long look, establishing what she should and should not be told. Bargaining with each other, well as much as Michael could bargain with Madeline, they reached an agreement.

        "There were a few minor incidents. Nothing that you need to be aware of immediately. I'm sure Michael can fill you in later." Madeline gave a satisfies little smile. She had taken Michael by surprise with that comment. He was just lucky that she was not telling Nikita herself.

        Madeline's moment of triumph past quickly, as did her smile, when she remembered what she had to do. Her features went slack and the hint of color on her face left. Nikita was the first to notice, despite that she was talking to Michael.

        "Madeline?" Nikita asked quietly, tilting her head. Madeline looked up, apparently coming back to the scene before her.

        "Is there something wrong?" Nikita questioned, curiosity and solicitude coloring her voice. Madeline stared at her, debating whether or not to give an answer. To warn her.

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