Started Sept 19, 1999
The van access doors flew open with a swoosh...Madeline and Operations stood in the hallway watching the surviving members of the team carrying in their wounded comrades... "How did this happen Michael?" Operations hissed in a tone that clearly let everyone within earshot know he was far from happy.
"The Intel was wrong...your Intel". Michael shot back as two of his men, battered and bloody themselves carried Nikita's seemingly lifeless body toward Medlab. Under his breath Michael whispered "If she dies, you all die" ...but quickly turned and followed the team members before Operations and Madeline could clarify what they each thought they had heard.
"He's under a lot of stress lately" Madeline’s attempt to soothe Operations irritation sounded hollow." He hasn't been himself since we adjusted Nikita"
"We Madeline? We did not adjust Nikita Madeline... let's get that perfectly clear... you did that all on your own!" He spun on his heel leaving her standing against the wall of the now empty corridor, mouth agape.
Michael quickly made his way into Medlab, looking for anyone who might be able to fill him in on Nikita's conditions...all he saw was a flurry of white coats racing from one end of the room to the other. Each attending to someone lying prone on gurneys pushed up against the wall. At the far side of the room, he could see Davenport talking in hushed tones to what appeared to be the head of the department... his face as he turned to Michael told him that the situation was grave.
"I'm sorry Michael, the Intel was wrong, I couldn't get back to her before Red Cell sent in their backup... but I have to tell you... they knew we were coming." he shook his head wearily.
Michael simply nodded. He knew that Davenport had used the Intel and followed the profile to the letter. He would have to wait to find out what went wrong. Right now his main concern was Nikita, pale and lifeless under the white sheets of Medlab...IV’s were running into each of her arms and from what he understood, they were already on their second unit of blood and expecting to need more. Slowly he reached out to touch his Nikita.
Careful to avoid the cuts and bruises that was beginning to swell and darken on her face. He wished she would open her eyes. Remembering the love he felt for her... oh, how he wished he had told her each and every time she hinted about his lack of feelings. How it hurt to have to become "machine mode Michael" and block out his true feelings. Each touch, every hurtful word uttered by her in moments of exasperation cut into him yet he never allowed her to see this for herself...always the blank stare. The unspoken words... he only hoped it wasn't too late. He already knew that Madeline had done something to his Nikita. She had sworn she didn't remember, didn't love him anymore.
"Anymore". The word echoed through his head "Anymore... she had to know at sometime that she loved me, that I loved her... she had to if she knew she didn't anymore".
"Birkoff, where the hell is Michael?" Operations voice boomed over the intercom causing poor Birkoff to drop the disk that he was about to download onto the tiled floor where it rolled lazily toward Munitions only to clatter to a halt at the feet of Walter.
"Sir, he's still in Medlab" he never left Birkoff though but then decided to keep it to him. . Nothing had been the same recently. Operations was constantly at someone’s' throat. . Madeline kept herself locked in her office busily attending to the multitude of florals and plants that she lovingly cultivated. Walter looked tired and weary and kept to himself most the time...and Michael, well whenever he unwittingly dropped the blank stare. He appeared to have lost his best friend...a thought that made Birkoff smile..."Best friend? I don't even know if he as a friend...well, besides Nikita" he shook his head.
Michael finally made his appearance in Operations office but refused to make any attempt at conversation other than the monotone "You wished to see me?"
Operations, never a patient man, paced back and forth arms behind his back, hand twisting and squeezing as he chose his words carefully. "I called for you over four hours ago." He turned to face Michael who looked up with not the least bit of fear and replied "I was busy!" Operations turned away. Clearly there was more to this than he understood. Maybe he had underestimated Michael. Just maybe Madeline's adjustment of Nikita had been the final straw. It hadn't been his idea...she had told him she'd found a way to hand the Michael/Nikita situation. No details just that one simple statement... Foolishly, he had let her do just that... handle the situation. In the end, it appeared to have backfired. . Oh, Nikita no longer remembered she was in love with Michael but she also started to forget other things... little things... but it had affected her performance of late... and Michael, he had begun to show a defiant side that Operations was a little more than uncomfortable with.
"I want to know what happened?" he leaned against the wall, arms crossed in front of himself..."I checked the Intel myself... I had Birkoff rerun the SIMMs... nothing appears out of the ordinary."
Michael turned, inches from Operations' face and spat "Then how the hell did Red Cell know we were coming? Why the hell is half of my team dead, the other half useless due to injuries that some might not survive?"...His eyes never left Operations' face. Clearly Michael was a step from being out of control. Paul knew this, but how to solve the situation alluded him. Madeline had assured him that both Nikita and Michael would eventually get over this and their performances would be back up to acceptable levels. But now he wasn't so sure. "I will overlook your outbursts of late, I understand that you're probably in a state of shock right now and that is understandable, but Michael, I will not tolerate insubordination." He turned and faced his operative who was busy lazily tracing a finger over the panel, seemingly more intent on the different readings that flashed over the screens then his leaders words. . Without showing any signs that he had heard Operations' warning he turned.
"Are we finished for now?"
"Yes, for now, but Michael, I want answers" he finally dismissed him.
"Birkoff tell Madeline I want to see her NOW!" he shed his jacket, tossing it into a corner on a heap..."And tell her don't give me that crap that she's busy."
Madeline was busy clipping the leaves off the new begonias that she had just repotted this morning... "Uh, Madeline, Operations wishes to see you" Birkoff stated... not sounding like himself in the least.
"Tell him I am otherwise occupied" She dismissed the summons.
"He said now! And Madeline, he didn't seem to happy"...he muttered the last part, more to himself before turning of the intercom.
Madeline carefully, but rather annoyed put down the scissors and misting bottle, straightened the hem of her wool skirt and headed out the office door. This was not the first time Paul had demanded an appearance and probably wouldn't be the last... but she knew how to handle him... she always had... and always would... He often underestimated just how capable of being equal or above him she really was... "You wanted, no, make that you demanded to see me Paul?" She slowly entered the observation deck...."If this is about Michael's behavior...." but he never let her finish the statement...instead he turned and faced her, catching her off guard.
"NO Madeline...this is about whatever you did to Nikita.... I want it undone. NOW... TODAY!!.." He hissed, inches from her face...Madeline took a step backward, to quickly for her liking, it showed weakness and Operations pounced on it immediately. "I don't know what you did... but you, we seriously underestimated Michael and probably Nikita for that matter. If this mission hasn't taken care of the situation, you had better come up with a way to undo this 'adjustment'. He faced the Communications room... then turned back to her. "Just what did you do Madeline?"
Madeline wasn't sure she liked having this all placed on her shoulders "I simply did what you couldn’t get rid of the relationship between Nikita and Michael" she gave that tight-lipped smile that irritated everyone she subjected to it... including Operations. "Wipe off the smile Madeline, you not only DID NOT remove the relationship... but from what I just witnessed, you only served to strengthen it on Michael's part"...he waited for her comeback...knowing that she was trying to regain the upper hand....
"As long as Nikita doesn't remember how she felt about him. I don't see the problem... she will push him away eventually"... she hoped he would drop the subject. She didn't want to admit that she didn't know quite know how to UNDO the adjustment...it had, after all still been in it's experimental stage...
"That's not good enough Madeline" Operations returned... "I want it reversed... if Nikita survives... and right now I'd give my right arm to see that she does. .I want her returned to her former self"...he reached down, lifted the crumpled jacket, shook it out and laid it over his arm in a dismissive manner... "I mean it Madeline... .You did this... fix it. And Madeline" God she wished he would already forget her name... "I want a full report on what you did... and how you undid it"... he turned and left the room.
Madeline steadied herself against the com panel...she had seen Paul angry before, but never was it directed at her...in the past she had inwardly smiled her approval at whomever was on the receiving end of his wrath...today. . She actually would have felt sorry for them...
Michael returned to Medlab and took up his vigil at his beloved Nikita's side...She still hadn't stirred and the Doctors couldn’t tell him when and if she would regain consciousness...
"We have to wait and see, she is still in very critical condition". He tried to answer Michael. but he knew by looking at him and from what he had been told that nothing short of a miracle would appease him. "You really should go get some rest...it could be hours before we know anything" he patted Michael on the shoulder but withdrew his hand upon feeling him tense. Apparently he didn't appreciate physical contact.
"I will wait...I want to be here if she wakes up...I have to be here"...he sounded so weary that the Doctor brought over a more comfortable chair "At least put your feet up. You can't be comfortable sitting against the gurney like that"...and quietly he slipped away. Not expecting nor getting a thank you.
Birkoff tried very hard not to wake Michael as he entered Medlab and made his way over to where Nikita lay, still unconscious... Never had he seen her looking so pale, her translucent skin etched by numerous cuts and darkened by the many bruises she sustained. . Walter came in behind him... tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the sleeping form of Michael leaning his head at an apparently uncomfortable angle against the metal frame of Nikita's bed. "I wish we could help these two". He whispered in Birkoff’s' ear.
"I know, Madeline did something to Nikita, I just know it... but I can't find any records of It." he leaned over, inches from Nikita’s' ear..."I hope you can hear me. Nikita, I WILL find out what she did, you are not alone. Michael is here, so am I and Walter..."with that he turned, accidentally bumping against Michael’s' knee.
"What? Has something... Birkoff, Walter is..." he jumped from his seat. . Taking Nikita's hand in his..."Has there been any change... I must have dozed off?"...He looked disoriented.
"No, Michael, we were just letting her know, if she can hear us...that we are here for her...and Michael...." Walter let the sentence hang for a minute, unsure if he was listening...
"Yes?"...He turned to face the two men...not bothering to put up his usual blank stare....
"We're here for both of you..." they touched his shoulder then turned and left the room together...Michael was at a loss for words...
Meanwhile back in Madelines' office she sat behind reams of papers, books and reports trying to figure out how she could undo this situation... Secretly she prayed that Nikita wouldn't make it... that would take care of her part... but she wasn't sure that Operations wouldn't still demand a full report of what had been done. The technicians had assured her that the Machine was working as designed. But none were willing to be human lab rats... she would be more than willing to choose an Abeyance Operative, but since she didn't know their "weaknesses". . How would she know if it worked? "Maybe I ought to crawl in myself...erase all of this..." she realized that might be her only option if Nikita did in fact survive... and if she didn't, the machine might be heaven compared to what Michael might have in store for both she and Operations. .
The earlier comment of "If she dies, you all die" had not been missed by her. She was more than sure he had indeed said that and she wasn't too sure he wouldn't back it up.
"Birkoff, I am not to be disturbed"...she instructed through her intercom unit. "Under any circumstances.... Uh...unless there is a change with Nikita, then I am to be notified immediately...." She didn't wait for a reply and she wasn't wasting anymore time until she found a way to reverse the previous process.