by TraceCAT98

Nikita walked through the silent hallways of ONE, the only sounds were those of her soft footfalls. She had come to a realization in her short years, that your life is what you make it. That, you can either live in this world, asking all you can of what you are given, or just coast along, waiting till you are called away.

After the kind of year she had just had, she had almost fallen into the latter category. But, by sheer force of will, she had pulled herself up, and decided that if she was going to go down, she was going down as a fighter. She had lived her whole life fighting for what she wanted, so the fight was nothing new to her. She was seasoned, well equipped, and more than up to the challenge. And, with the additional training that being a member of ONE had afforded her, she was pretty sure that she could lick anything.

But, there was one obstacle that had to be overcome. She had to overcome this feeling that there was more to her relationship with Michael than just mentor and trainee. For a while, she had been having the strangest dreams. Dreams of Michael, of the way he looked when he was crying, of how he looked when he was laughing, and most disturbing of all, the way that he looked when he was sleeping.

The way his auburn hair splayed across the pillow nestled below his head. His eyelids closed, the eyelashes touching softly upon his cheekbone, fanning out like the feathered wings of the most heavenly angel. The image was a disturbing, as well as rousing one, but an image that had no rhyme or reason. The fact alone, that she would know that he preferred to sleep in a T-shirt and pajama bottoms made no sense. She had no memory of them ever having been in any situation that would afford her such knowledge.

Now, as she walked up to the door, that opened into Michael's' office, she stopped to compose herself. Standing up straight and taking a most needed deep breath, she rapped her knuckles softly on the solid wood door. Reaching up, she nervously ran her fingertips over her ear, pushing a lock of hair back, only to have it fall irritatingly forward again. As she began to attempt to control the strand once more, she heard a soft voice reply from behind the door.

'Come in,' Michael offered, as Nikita placed her hand on the knob, turning it hesitantly. Stepping through, she closed the door shut behind her, then turned around. Michael was seated at his desk, his hands folded in his lap, watching her. His blank stare, for which she had become accustomed to over the past four long years, was securely in place.

Walking forward, and stopping in front of the desk, Nikita cleared her throat, more as a stalling tactic, rather than the fact that it needed to be done. After a few moments of only looking at one another, she began.

'Michael, were we ever, involved?' She had made up her mind, before even venturing here, that she would be up front and direct. She had to know what the images in her dreams meant, or what the implications would mean. She could no longer live in limbo like this.

Michael slowly stood up, and moved around the corner of the desk. Buttoning his jacket, he stopped to look out the picture window. The view was not a scenic one, not by a long shot. The window overlooked the center hub, the nerve center, of ONE. But, by looking upon this scene, Michael thought that he could tell Nikita what she wanted to hear. He had waited for this day, and knew that it would come. Nikita was remembering. She was breaking through the effects of the conditioning that Madeline had used on her. And, in waiting for this day, Michael had practiced over and over what he would say, and how he would say it. But, now, as he stood here, looking out the window, faced with the moment of truth, he was at a loss for words.

He wanted so to tell her the truth. He wanted to tell her of the unbridled passion that, when given the chance, they had shared. He wanted to tell her of the stolen moments of sheer joy that they had shared. Of how, no matter what, they always found a way to be together, when really needed. He most of all wanted to tell her of the way she made him feel whole. Wholeness that he had never felt before. Not with Simone, not with Elena, and sadly not with Adam. He wanted to take her into his arms, and tell her that there was hope. That above all else, ONE had not taken their hope.

But he could not bring himself to tell her any of this. The woman standing before him was not the Nikita that he had known, and yes, he could admit it now, the Nikita he had loved. But, admitting it now did no go. She no longer loved him, due to the interfering of ONE. Madeline and Operations had seen to the fact that, no matter how hard he tried, he was not able to stir those always so readily available emotions in Nikita anymore. Emotions, that now, he was feeling deep within himself, but all for not. She may, in the coming months, get back snatches of her memory, and images of what may have transpired in the past. But, it would be a slow and painful process. One that, no matter how hard he tried, he did not have the strength to endure.
There was no more time for him. And no more time for Nikita.

'No,' Michael answered a pain of guilt, and loss, coursing through his body like an electrical shock of unknown proportions. A pain unlike any he had ever, or ever would again, feel in his life.

Nikita didn't speak. She only continued to stare at him, nodding her head. Then, as she turned to leave, Michael called to her.


Michael wanted to so tell her not to go. That he had lied that they would find a way to beat this. That, they would find a way to be together. But, he couldn't bring himself to do it. He just wasn't strong enough for them both. And, in the end, he knew that Madeline and Operations would have what they wanted. They would never let Michael and Nikita live the life they wanted, and deserved.

'Yes, Michael?' Nikita answered, glancing back over her shoulder, a slight look of expectation on her face.

'Make sure you pick up your PDA from Walter,' was all he replied, his gaze returning to the large window before him.

Nikita dropped her head, looking downward. Then, looking back to Michael, a sad smile formed on her lips. 'Yes, sir,' was all she said, opening the door, and passing through it.

After she had left, Michael sat back down behind his desk, and took out a pen and paper. Opening the cap on the pen, he began...

Putting the cap back on the pen, and placing it on the desk top, Michael reached over, and picked up the waste paper basket beside his desk. Reaching down, he opened the top drawer of his desk, and took out a picture. It was of Nikita, when she had first entered ONE. A time when she was untouched by death, pain, bloodshed, and...him. Then, standing up, he took out a lighter, and flipped open the cover. Striking the lighter, he placed the picture over the basket, and touched the flame to the edge.

He watched, as the picture drew back from the flame, as if in reaction to the pain that he was feeling in his heart. But, the flame took over, and engulfed the picture. The image faded, and mottled, until is was no more. Dropping the remaining small piece of the picture into the basket, Michael then reached down and picked up the letter he had just written.

Holding it firmly, he once again touched the flame to the paper. The paper did not draw back, in the same way that the picture did, from the flame. It was almost symbolic of the realization and resignation that was now settling into Michael's soul. He was sure that, somewhere, fate was looking down upon him, and weeping. For, as all who came to ONE knew, fate had a simple way of being pushed aside, whether they wanted it that way or not.

Dropping the paper into the basket, and watching as the last remnants of the fragile material disintegrated, Michael took a deep breath. Then, moving to the window, and gazing out, he caught sight of Nikita.

In that one moment, in the blink of an eye, Michael discovered his own affirmation. He loved Nikita, more than life. And, in that love, he knew that he must let her go. That, he must let her become what she was meant to become.

'Good-bye...Nikita,' Michael whispered, watching as she moved across the lobby, and out of sight.

The End

This story ©copyright Trace, 1999/2000

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