"No more games, Michael, just a drink." Nikita knew she offered these
words with more than a little challenge, but inside the child was pleading,
please don't go, Michael, not yet. Nikita knew she had some issues to clear
up with Michael, and thought she might as well take this opportunity to
do it. Another glass of wine would help. She looked at her
empty glass, and the ever observant, inscrutable Michael noticed.
He signaled to the bartender.
"Am I under orders to please you?" he had actually asked her that! It had been almost impossible for her to keep a straight face. If she knew anything about Michael by now, Nikita knew it would take more than an order from anyone for him to "please her." "How did we ever get to this place," she asked herself and as before when she had asked that question, no easy answers came.
Nikita looked into his green eyes, feeling suddenly shy, as she often did under their unwavering gaze. She felt he could see into her soul, and she had often tried to hide her feelings with words and actions of bravado, never realizing that her emotions were clearly visible for all to see.
"All right, let's have a drink," Michael said with just a touch of irony in his voice and ordered a bottle of Chateau de Lay for them. "We'd better get a table. It's getting quite crowded, and I don't want to sit here at the bar." He made this amazingly long speech in his precise accent, and guided her to a table for two.
Predictable and unpredictable were two words that ran through Michael's mind as they sat down in a corner spot. Nikita obviously had something else on her mind, but he could tell she wasn't quite ready to tell him what it was. Mon Dieu, he thought, I don't know how much soul searching I can stand tonight, but I do know I've got to get out of here before things get out of hand.
Nikita let the music and atmosphere sink in for a moment. It was really a romantic place to drink and listen to music. It wasn't a noisy fern bar scene at all. The music was an incredible song by Sarah MacLachlan, and expressed so many things she felt about Michael and herself. The frustration and the longing were getting to her again, but she didn't want tonight to be about that. Apology was more what she had in mind, and it wasn't going to be easy.
The waiter poured a sample of the wine for Michael to taste. Chauvinistic, but Nikita knew her palate was not as nearly as educated as Michael's. Michael signaled that it was acceptable, and the waiter deftly poured two glasses for them. Nikita raised her glass to Michael's. "No more games," she toasted. The left corner of Michael's mouth twitched, and she knew that was a good sign. She watched as his eyelids dropped for a second, but his eyes regained her gaze, as he responded softly, "No, no more games."
Half of Michael might be immune to her, but Michael knew which half was not, and that half of him wanted to take her by the hand, and take her home with him. He also knew he wouldn't be doing that tonight. He wasn't going to do anything that would so blatantly please that pig Petrosian. He wondered if Nikita realized that Petrosian was using her to "divide and conquer" the Section. Michael had despised Petrosian since his asinine remark about "incompetence" in getting himself shot in the chemical plant mission. "Ops. lies possibly dying, and Nikita is here playing childish games with me," he thought.
"Nikita, you obviously have something on your mind. What is it?" he asked impatiently.
His impatient tone took her by surprise. She leaned closer and almost whispered
"What's the matter, Michael, have somewhere else to go?" Her petulance was returning.
"Nikita, I thought you said no more games," he said quietly as he gazed into her hurt turquoise eyes. Those eyes, he thought, any other place, any other life, and I would gladly swim in them forever. Michael's eyes, too, were more expressive than he ever realized. Nikita could see them soften as he looked at her, but then he looked away.
Nikita was on her third glass of wine by now, and inclined to make allowances for his mood. She knew she was a brat when she didn't get what she wanted, and what she wanted right now was Michael--like she'd had him that one night on the boat. He had been passionate and definitely "glad to see her." Their initial lovemaking had been swift and overpowering for them both, but the rest of that too short night they had taken their time. Their loving had been both gentle and fierce and immensely wonderful......
"Nikita," Michael broke in on her reverie. He could see her face flush as her eyes came back in focus. "Don't go there. This is not the time or place," he said softly.
Nikita looked at Michael, tears beginning to well up in those blue eyes. "I know, Michael, I know. Anyway," she continued quickly to hide her embarrassment at being so transparent, "I owe you an apology, and I have to get it out. While I was on my "vacation" after Jurgen died, I blamed you for manipulating me and causing his death, but after a time I had to come face to face with the truth that if I had not been so needy and gullible, you couldn't have manipulated me. The truth is, I started out to make you jealous, and because of that a good man died. I am as much at fault as you or the Section, and I just wanted you to know that." Tears came quickly to Nikita's eyes, and she tried to stand.
"I've got to go, Michael. I can't stay here like this with you. I want you and need you too much, but I am beginning to understand why we can't be together."
"Nikita," Michael began as Nikita wavered on her feet a little. "How much did you have to drink before I arrived?" She looked up unsteadily at him. Her nose was turning a charming shade of pink, and her cheeks were flushed as well.
"Only one glass, Michael," she sniffed, "and 3 since."
"Merde, Nikita, you never could tolerate wine. I remember the time on Chandler's boat, you could barely stand up when you came home." He had to end this evening before anything happened between them, and he knew he would have to make her mad.
"Leave it to you to remember that!" she retorted.
"How could I forget. I could tell from the way you looked that you had made love with him, and NO, I did not stay around to listen to that."
"Oh, that. Well, it wouldn't be the first or the last time, would it, Michael?"
Michael knew he was out of danger for this night anyway. "I'll drive you home. You are in no condition to drive." he offered.
"I can take a cab, thank you very much." Nikita knew she had been manipulated, but she also knew her apology had been given and accepted. Mission accomplished.
"There is no need for that," he said quietly. His drop in tone made her realize she had been getting louder.
"Great!" she hissed. "Now I'm a loud drunk. You just can't take me out in public, can you, Michael?" She smiled at the thought, and Michael's mouth twitched again.
"Wow, Michael, you've smiled twice in one evening. That must be some kind of a record."
"Nikita, let's go." He put his arm around her to guide her out. Funny, she didn't seem quite as unsteady as she had a moment ago. She was plainly molded to his side with a pleased smile on her face. Damn, he thought, I have been manipulated, too. She's learning too fast. This is not the time, he thought.
They quickly went to his car. Nikita settled into the soft leather seats, and was almost purring as she said, "Michael, do you think Petrosian is using me to divide Section? On one hand, he promises me everything I want, but is that my weakness? Wanting a better life, wanting you." Her voice dropped half an octave as she said, "Wanting you."
"I know I have weaknesses, but you is the one that's most distracting. I don't' want you used against me, any more that I want to be used against you."
"Nikita, this is still not the time." Michael's impatience to deliver her to her door was becoming paramount in his mind. Never had Nikita been so honest or open or so brave with he feelings. Her apology had shaken him, as had the maturity that went with it.
"Damn, your time, Michael. I know it's not the time either, but that doesn't mean I have to like it, or that I'm going to stop wanting you." At this she moaned in frustration.
"Or," she challenged, "that I'm going to stop trying to make it happen."
"Nikita, we're here." Merde, he thought ironically, honesty is all is need from her right now.
"Fine, Michael, thanks for bringing me home. I can make it fine from here." She grabbed at her coat and purse, becoming impatient--both with him and herself.
"No," he said, "I will see you to your door."
"Going to protect me, Michael? I really don't need a bodyguard. Section 1 made sure I was trained well in most methods of self-defense, except against you." She grinned slyly as she said it, and allowed him to walk her to the door.
The numbers 412 loomed on her door. She fitted her key into the lock, and turned to him. "Coffee, Michael? I remember you like coffee." Innocent blue eyes looked into green ones.
"What ever you have will be fine." he said with mischief. How far can I take this and still get out of the door, he wondered.
Nikita spent a few minutes making the coffee, while Michael made himself comfortable on the new sofa.
"Still redecorating, I see. Looks good." he said over his coffee.
"Yes, Michael?" she said with question in her voice.
"I have to go." he said as he slowly stood.
"Yes, I know, Michael. You know the torture twins don't have anything like your technique," she muttered with a half smile, her eyes almost at half mast.
"The torture twins?" he asked quizzically, but the twitch of his mouth gave him away.
"Yeah, they could learn a thing or two from you." Her ironic Aussie accent pleased his ear. He might just make it out of here......
"All right, Michael. You're right, it's time for you to go. We both have an early briefing at Section tomorrow, and we need our sleep. She jumped up, and held out her hand to "shake" his.
"No," he said softly, as he took her outstretched hand and folded her into his arms. He placed his hands on each side of her face and kissed her tenderly on the mouth. They were both close to losing control, when simultaneously they broke apart. Together they said, "Be patient." Then they both laughed. Yes, Michael laughed. One more quick hug and kiss, and Michael was out the door. Safe for now, he thought as he strode purposefully to his car and into the night.
Back in the apartment, Nikita leaned against the door and sighed aloud. "Well, Michael, you just did what you do best. You walked out the door. Well, actually, that's what you do second best."