Michael flew into O’Hare Airport flying under the name of Nicholas Calabrise. He had decided not to leave a traceable trail should Madeline have anyone on the inside watching his comings and goings. Michael trusted no one and his dislike and hatred of Madeline deepened every day that passed leaving him unable to help Nikita. Waiting at the United luggage retrieval area, he had time to contemplate his next move.
He had told the team already in place to simply monitor Madeline's routines and keep a log of her daily activities. Who or whom she was working with or for, people she had contact with and their various backgrounds and any and all information that would make his job easier. He had also decided to play a game of cat and mouse with her.
Although he was anxious to capture her and make her restore Nikita's memory, he was also determined to make her realize just how dangerous he had become since she had just about destroyed his only love.
He had traveled rather lightly. Two bags finally made their way around the luggage turnstile and dropped at his feet. Reaching down to grab them, his eyes made contact with a rather beautiful raven-haired girl also reaching for her bag at the same time.
"I believe one of those are mine," she smiled and tried to reach past him but he was certain that both bags were indeed his by the insignia that was embroidered in a corner of the handle. "I am terribly sorry miss, but it is you I believe who are mistaken." He lifted one of the bags and bent for the other.
"Really?" she moved in closer and reached for the bag remaining on the ground. Inside Michael had COM units, panels and copies of everything that the team had forwarded to him.
"Do not touch the bag Miss," he hissed out the last part.
"And if I do?" she tried to toy with him.
"How much do you like your arm?" was the whispered question that left her little doubt that he was not someone to play games with.
"Can't blame a girl for trying can you?" she stood back up, straightened the jacket of the herringbone tweed suit she wore. Slipping on her sunglasses she smiled once more turned on her stiletto heels and walked away. Michael found it a little odd and slightly more disturbing that she would be wearing sunglasses inside an airport terminal so he decided to follow her at a safe distance.
Operations had the driver take both him and Nikita to the private plane that Section had waiting for their use. "Michael is staying at the Drake hotel under the alias Nicholas Calabrise, he hasn't checked in yet from what Birkoff has told me and I have made it abundantly clear he isn't to know about our arrival" he sat checking notes on the way to the airport.
"Why are you doing this?" Nikita turned her face and lowered her sunglasses to get a clear view of Operation's face.
"Because I gave you my word that I would help you" he looked up only momentarily. "You didn't think I believed you did you?" she folded the sunglasses and tucked them into the front pocket of the leather coat she was wearing. "Whether you believed me or not Nikita is not the issue here, only that I gave you my word on my son's life" he flipped through a folder that had been tucked under his thigh.
"I told you that I don't kill innocents" she sat back and rested her head against the smooth upholstery of the luxurious limo.
"Contrary to what you think about me Nikita, I don't either unless I am left with no other options" he placed the paperwork down to finish the conversation. "I am not always proud of the job I have to do but it gets results" he sighed looking suddenly very tired.
"It costs people their lives!" she just about shouted "Section takes us from the streets and takes away our lives, our identities, our freedom and you expect us to just go with the program?" she was losing her patience again.
"What life would you have had Nikita rotting in jail for murder?" he countered. "I didn't kill anybody" she hissed. "You know that" she leaned forward again. "You are as much Section now as I am Nikita, just except that and life would be so much easier" he resumed reading the material he had earlier placed beside himself.
"Why did you take Michael away from me?" she wasn't finished yet.
"Madeline said that your relationship was effecting both of your performances" he looked up once more. "I took her at her word" he put the papers down to rub the bridge of his nose "And for that I am truly sorry" his eyes locked on to hers and he realized not for the first time what an extraordinarily beautiful woman she really was. For a moment he actually envied Michael.
The jet was waiting for them in the hangar and Operations made last minute preparations with the pilot before settling into one of the opulent leather recliners that made the plane look more like someone's living room than an airplane. "Are you hungry Nikita?" he looked across to where she had curled in the corner of a matching sofa.
"A little but I can wait till we get to Chicago" she picked through the stack of magazines that had been placed on the end table next to the sofa for her convenience.
"Tell the cook that we will be dining onboard" he told the operative that stood waiting for his every instruction. "Salad with house dressing, Filet Mignon medium rare." he looked up at Nikita "You would like your Filet how?" he smiled. If Nikita hadn't come to loathe him so much she might have actually fallen for the pleasant smile and the offer of a sumptuous feast.
"Just the salad will be fine for me" she smiled at the operative.
"Suit yourself Nikita but we may not have time to sit down for dinner over the next few days," he gave her a moment to reconsider.
"Medium rare is fine," she returned a half smile to Paul and waited until he dismissed the operative. "Why are you being so nice?" she stared at him trying to read whatever she could on his face.
"We are on the same side Nikita, we both want Madeline back," he locked glances with her.
"I want Madeline to undo whatever she's done to me" she stated as she flipped the magazine pages "Then I want to personally cancel her" was the last thing she said before returning to her reading.
Operations studied both the reports in his hands and cast frequent glances over to where Nikita was deeply engrossed in another magazine article. Both played a cat and mouse game as one would glance and the other would try to pretend that they were otherwise occupied. Finally dinner was served and Operations waited until their trays were securely place in front of each of them. "Would you care for a glass of wine to go with your meal?" he unfolded the crisply starched linen napkin and placed it neatly on his lap.
"Yes, please," she followed suit. They settled in to a rather delicious meal and light conversation followed by another glass of Merlot and more talk. "How did Madeline manage to escape Section when you told me that no one ever has?" she took another sip of the wine. She didn't want to tell him that her head was starting to swim and keeping his face in focus was growing next to impossible.
Operations noticed the length of time between each blink of her eyes growing longer and longer. Finally she placed the empty glass on the table beside her and snuggled farther down on the cushions of the amply stuffed sofa. When it became apparent that she had dosed off, Operations rose from his seat to retrieve a blanket and cover her. "I know why Michael loves you Nikita," he whispered more to himself. She sighed and snuggled into the blanket. "I love you too Michael" she mumbled to no one in particular. Operations smiled to himself, he only hoped that if Madeline was not caught, or if she were unable to help Nikita that maybe over time, Nikita might regain her memory. Something deep inside him knew that keeping Michael and Nikita apart was no longer beneficial to either themselves or Section.
"I only hope for your sake Madeline that you have managed to find a way to undo this," he whispered before dimming the lights and returning to his seat. There was much to learn of the life that Madeline had been living for the last two months and only a short time to piece it all together.
Michael arrived at the Drake hotel in the back of the limo he had rented at the airport. Reaching across the seat he handed the driver a roll of bills and in his best mission mode whispered. "You never saw me!" and with that he exited the vehicle and carrying his bags one in his hand the other over his shoulder made his way to the entrance of the stately hotel. Taking a moment to look around, he was treated to a wonderful view of a tree-lined street where carriages and horses stood waiting for visitors and couples looking for a taste of the old and romantic. Somehow he wished that one day he and Nikita might return and indulge in such frivolities.
Taking a deep breath, he could smell the scent of Lake Michigan in the air and the frosty breath actually felt good. If he finished his mission he promised himself that he would be rewarded with a walk along the beautiful shoreline before returning to his mundane life in Section.
The oak desk that stood majestically across from the entranceway filled the back wall of the foyer with visions of the past. He could imagine couples coming here in the 40's for parties and get-togethers and again he felt pangs of jealously for thing that he would never experience. He made his way across the flowered carpet and placing his bags down between his feet, stood up and smiled for the desk clerk waiting to check him in. Handing her his credit card he silently waited.
"Mr. Calabrise, how wonderful to see you again," she smiled.
"I beg your pardon miss?" Michael hadn't missed the last of her greeting. "Have we met somewhere before?" he tapped his beautifully manicured fingers on the highly polished oak desk.
"No!" she caught herself. "I'm so sorry, I have mistaken you for someone else," she shrugged trying to appear less intelligent that she was.
"That's, that's quite all right," he smiled, suddenly uncomfortable with the interaction going on between them.
"Will you be staying long?" she smiled, hoping to change the subject. "As long as necessary," was his reply. "Are you here on a business trip?" she punched numbers into the computer on the counter below the desk. "More of a fishing trip I think" he baited her. "I'll have our porter show you to your room, it's a very beautiful suite you're staying in... one of our best." she handed him the key and his credit card. "I hope you find who...I mean, what you are fishing for" and with that she walked away. Everything that Michael had been taught told him that something was not on the up and up. He couldn't quite put his finger on it and made a mental note to have the desk clerk checked out as soon as he was settled in. Handing his bags over to the porter, he had no choice but to follow him to the nearest bank of elevators and up to the penthouse suite that he had booked for himself.
Operations and Nikita's plane landed at O'Hare just after midnight and rolled off to a distant hangar away from the general public. Nikita had finally woken up on the plane and realized that someone had covered her with a blanket.
The quizzical look on her face made Operations laugh. "I thought you might be cold." He returned back to reading the material that was stacked on the table in front of him. "Did you have a good rest?" he offered her another glass of wine which she quickly declined.
"Thanks, but whatever Michael had his goons give me didn't mix well with the last wine," she winced as she tried to rub the pain out of her temples.
"What do you mean Michael's goons? What did they give you?" he quickly plopped the report he was reading down on the table.
"I'm not sure what it was but Michael didn't want me involved in all of this and when I wouldn't promise to stay put, he had them take me to the apartment. I tried to get away and they injected me with some blue stuff," she held out her arm to show him the injection site.
"Did it do anything to you?" he seemed genuinely concerned.
"I kept having dreams about Madeline, Michael and you," she shook her head. "What did Madeline do to me?" she sat back up and stared at him.
"Madeline decided to keep you alive, after all, you and Michael are two of our best operatives." he smiled deciding that telling her the truth was not going do anymore harm. "She thought that your relationship with Michael was interfering with your performances," he waited until she absorbed each statement.
"What do you think?" she countered.
"I might have been inclined to agree once, but after seeing the numbers of missions that you and he have worked together based on missions alone or with other partners, I believe that the two of you work best as a unit." he shrugged. "Before I could tell her about my findings, she had taken matters into her own hands. She used some experimental machine to erase any and all your feelings and memories of Michael." he sighed wishing he had been more in control of the situation with Madeline and realized that he had given her way too much freedom. "Part of this is my fault you know?" he got up and paced the floor.
"How? How is this your fault if you didn't give the okay?" she watched him move back and forth like a caged tiger.
"I let Madeline have free rein in Section. Granted I didn't know what she had planned for you, but I certainly didn't try to prevent her from ending your relationship either." he rubbed the back of his neck with both hands. "Nikita, I still believe that Section has its place in the scheme of things." he turned, stopped in front of her.
"But?" she looked up.
"But there has to be another way of doing things" he finally admitted to her.
"You'll have started by canceling Madeline" she stated before standing to stretch making him move away from her.
"We have to take her alive Nikita," he waited for her response.
"Why?" she quickly spun around facing him with such a look of surprise on her face. "Why doe she get to live? Because she means something to you?" she threw out the statement before she thought about what she was saying.
"No, Nikita, because she is the only one who knows exactly what she did to you!" he stated, simply and fairly. He had planned on using the situation to possibly spare Madeline, but he didn't feel that the appropriate time was now. Maybe if she restored Nikita to her former self, Nikita might find it in her heart to give Madeline a second chance but now was not the time to ask.