The limo dropped Operations at the loading gate for Section's private Learjet. He didn't bother giving the driver more than a cursory glance backwards as he quickly climbed the stairway and entered the plane. On board were the usual pilot and copilot and one operative that served as a stewardess.

"Welcome aboard sir, may I get you anything?" she smiled until she noticed the foul mood he seemed to be in. "Is something wrong sir?" she took his coat and briefcase and stowed them in one of the many overhead bins.

"Nothing to concern yourself with but I will take a Scotch straight up," he commanded trying to steady his voice. Already full of anger and turmoil, he simply wanted to be back at Section as quickly as possible and didn't hesitate to give the pilot direct orders instructing him that getting there ASAP was top priority.

Settling into one of the rich tan leather recliners, he plugged in the headphone microphone and contacted Birkoff hoping that he might have any amount to info regarding Michael. "Birkoff it's Operations are you there?" he smiled at the girl who had returned from the galley with his drink in hand, Scotch straight up as per his instructions. "Thank you" he smiled throwing her slightly off guard. "Birkoff?" his voice raised an octave.

"I'm here sir" the younger man's voice could be heard clearly. "Any report on Michael's condition Birkoff?" he took a steady slug of the clear amber liquid. "He's barely hanging on sir, they've already lost him twice. Nikita just managed to bring him back the second time." He was busy directing the first planes arrival to coincide with the arrival of the Medlab van.

"Nikita? Where are the technicians?" he loosened his tie and sat back with a heavy sigh. "They apparently gave up on him the second time, he's lost tons of blood and has slipped into unconsciousness as far as their last report."

"Was Nikita hurt?" he just about finished his first drink and motioned the young lady over for a second round.

"Not as far as I know sir, but from what I gathered, both Michael and Nikita got into some sort of battle both wrestled for the gun and apparently it was Michael who was shot." Birkoff still hadn't gotten the entire story and from what he had heard, Nikita was blaming herself for the entire incident.

"Nikita shot Michael?" the older man shouted into the headphones causing the younger man to pull his unit from his ear.

Placing it back gingerly Birkoff resumed his conversation. "I didn't get the entire story but from what she has said they both had their hands on the gun so it's really unclear who shot him sir." Birkoff's statement sounded more like an apology for his lack of information.

"Keep me posted" was the last command before Operations removed his headset and sat back contemplating his next move. A few minutes later he picked up the headset once again and placed it on his head. "Team leader?" he dialed another set of coded numbers "Team leader this is Operations, come in" he tapped his finger on the oak table beside the recliner.

"Operations this is team leader how can I help you?" he recognized Davenport's voice and felt slightly better that a seasoned operative was once again leading his team. He would have preferred Michael but right now, he had to play his cards with Davenport and he would do for the time being.

"Have you maintained surveillance on the subject?" he took another hefty slug of scotch.

"Yes sir, she believes she is in the clear. I'm afraid she spotted the van but it doesn't appear that she is in any hurry to act on it. In fact, she seems to have settled in for the night?" the leader smiled, satisfied that he and his men were doing an adequate job. "Keep her under watch at all times, if she moves, follow her is that understood?"

"Loud and clear sir and sir?" Davenport didn't want to seem to personal but he had worked under Michael and knew from monitoring the airwaves that he had been injured and it appeared life threatening.

"Yes, Davenport?" he knew what was coming and for some reason the idea of his operatives having feelings for each other suddenly didn't seem that important.

"Could you keep us posted on Michael's condition sir?" Operations smiled knowing that sometime in the future, such relationships might benefit Section better than destroying them. "I will inform Birkoff to keep you posted." With that he clicked off the unit, removed it from his head and settled back against the soft leather headrest closing his eyes and deciding what could possibly happen next.



The Medlab van carrying Michael's semiconscious form along with Nikita and the two technicians arrived at Van access at exactly the same moment that Operations arrived in the Section limo. He wanted answers as he saw the multitude of white coats working feverishly on his best operative. As he stalked over to where Nikita stood, leaning for support against the side of the van, he was at first more than willing to demand answers to whatever had transpired over the last 24 hours. But upon seeing the condition she seemed to be in, he was willing for the moment at least to allow her time to compose herself. He knew that she had been through a terrible ordeal from the very look of terror and exhaustion that was clearly written across her tear stained face. Mascara ran in black lines down each cheek and her hair was in such a disheveled state that it took him by surprise.

Looking up, their eyes locked for the briefest of moments and he saw her lips move as if to speak instead she lowered her head shifting her attention back to Michael's still form as the doctors inserted IVs and attached him to various monitors. "We're ready to move him to surgery." One of the technicians came around to her gently placing his hand on her shoulder and nudging her in the direction that would allow her to follow the gurney. She didn't care that Operations was watching. It didn't matter to her any longer, if he wanted to cancel her, so be it.

If they lost Michael, she would be more than willing to pull the trigger herself so Operations be damned, she went to Michael's side and clearly wrapped her hand around one of his, leaned over and kissed him as gently as she could on the lips. "Remember Michael Samuelle, I love you more than anything in the world and always have." With that the gurney began its journey to the surgical ward.

Just outside the door, the gurney stopped while allowing Nikita a moment to say to him whatever she wanted in case this was the last time she saw him alive. Everyone in the room knew that the surgery while being his only hope could very well kill him if the slightest thing went wrong. Operations had followed the surgical procession at a distance never taking his eyes of the two operatives joined at the hands.

"I will be waiting right here for you when you are finished." She started to cry and then noticed her teardrops on his lips. Gently she wiped them away and continued. "You can't leave me Michael. I love you and if you love me you will fight to live. If you don't than I don't want to live without you and I won't is that clear?" she didn't really expect an answer and was surprised to see his lips trying to form a word.

"Believe," was the only thing that came out before the head Doctor nodded for the team to wheel him inside.

"DR." she grabbed at his sleeve as he passed her. He quickly turned, noticed Operations standing alone off to one side "What is it Nikita?" his voice was low and soothing.

"Please, you have to do whatever you can to save him, he's my life do you understand?" she cried openly. "Believe" was his one word answer before the metal doors swished closed behind him and she was left standing outside staring through the small portal windows. She wiped the tears away drying her hands on the legs of her pants before looking up at Operations. The anguish of her features struck a cord in his heart that he believed to have died long ago. It took great reserve not to wrap his arms around her.

Biting his lip, he silently cursed this momentary slip in his persona and after a brief cough to clear his throat he turned to her. "My office five minutes is that clear Nikita?" stunned all she could do was nod and with that he turned and walked away.

As she made her way across the communications area, Birkoff and Walter exchanged glances. "She's not going to make it if Michael dies" Birkoff shook his head. Deep down he really cared for Nikita and although it irked him at times the way that Michael treated her, he also understood that between them there had been a love so deep and true that they willing defied Section, Operations and Madeline just to be together.

"She's heading to the observation deck" Walter rubbed his hands together and then tucked them both into his back pockets. "She's inches from losing the only man she really loves and he's debriefing?" his voice raised slightly causing Birkoff to lift a surprised eyebrow.

"You should have heard him on the COM unit." Birkoff whispered while setting an update channel directly to Medlab "This is Birkoff can anyone hear me?" he tested the line.

"Yes, Birkoff what is it?" he heard a pleasant female voice return his inquiry.

"I need updates on Michael's condition is that clear?" he tried to sound official. If Operations knew that he was doing this, he would be brought before him to explain but due to the circumstances, he didn't want Nikita to have to wait through channels before she was given any information.

"By whose orders?" the same female voice seemed to be feeling out the situation.

"By mine and Operations, is there a problem?" he knew he was taking a calculated risk. "Will do" she replied before cutting the link. Birkoff looked up at Walter but quickly knew an explanation wasn't in order. Both men knew that Nikita would go to any length for Michael and they both knew that they would willingly help her.

Overhead, they could see her leaning against a COM unit, head bowed and from the looks of it, either in tears of very near breaking point. Operations was pacing madly although from the looks of things he seemed to be less demanding of responses from her as during previous meetings. "Can you tell me how it is that you and Michael happened to be together?" his voice was soft while trying not to convey just how upset he was at being out of the loop.

"I thought I saw Madeline on Michigan Avenue, but then I saw she was being followed." She started.

"So you decided to follow her yourself?" he finished for her and she nodded.

"Then I realized that someone was now following me and I ducked into a store to lose whomever it was," she sniffled and wiped at her nose with the back of her hand. She didn't even look up as Operations handed her the linen handkerchief that was usually implemented in his suit pocket. "Thanks," she blew her nose and tried to continue. "When I got inside the store, I saw the operative looking for me but he didn't see where I had gone" she snuffled again.

"So you decided to follow him as well?" again she nodded.

"Did you know it was Michael?" he didn't like sloppy work and would not tolerate it from his best operatives.

She shook her head "Not at first but when I did, I was able to sneak up on him and...." she sobbed "I shot him?" she realized that she couldn't stop the heaving sobs that racked her body.

"You shot him in cold blood?" he shouted in amazement.

"No! No...Not I didn't, we, there was a struggle, not then but later in the van" he was losing track of the story and quickly became aware that she really was in no condition to continue. He leaned against a button "Medlab send someone to my office now" he issued the instructions without taking his eyes off her.

"What will happen now?" she managed to speak between sobs as she brought the hankie up to muffle the crying.

"Let's just work on getting Michael repaired and I think you need some rest yourself" he saw the two technicians that he had seen beside Michael's gurney now standing in the entryway of the observation deck. "See to it that Nikita gets to Medlab and give her something to help her relax" he smiled for the first time that day. "We'll talk more later" she silently nodded and followed the two technicians dutifully.



Nikita was gently led to Medlab and seated on a gurney. She seemed unaware of anyone or anything going on around her and while one of the technicians stayed beside her, the other went to retrieve a sedative that would give her some much-needed rest. Upon seeing the second tech return and noticing the syringe in his hand, she started to shake her head and struggled to stand up but the first technician was too much for her. "No!" she pulled her arms away but quickly realized that she was overpowered. "No, I have to be awake if Michael needs me." she screamed drawing the attention of two doctors comparing notes across the way. "Please, don't" she begged as the first tech extended her arm to receive the injection "Please, I'm begging you don't do this..." she struggled for only a moment or two more before the drug took effect.

Collapsing against the stronger of the two men, he gently shifted her position onto the gurney and brought a blanket up to cover her. "She needs to rest." he informed the doctors around him then leaving her side, he pulled the curtains to give her privacy.

The surgeons worked for hours over Michael's still form. The damage was extensive, necessitating the removal of his spleen, patching a tear to his kidney and removing bone fragments from where the bullet had ricocheted. It was the better part of 12 hours later that they were finally stitching him up. "The next 24 to 48 hours will be the most critical" the doctor informed Birkoff as he brought him up to date on Michael's condition. "We won't know anything until he comes to." he finished jotting notes in the medical chart that was lying on the counter near the phone. "Will someone inform Nikita?" he noticed a tacked on note instructing him to keep her informed.

"When she comes to herself, someone will tell her." Birkoff wrote down the information to tell not only Nikita but also Walter and Operations.

Operations listened patiently as Birkoff ran off the list of things that had been done to Michael during surgery. "How long will he be out of commission?" he ran a thumb under his jaw as if contemplating his next move.

"He is listed as critical right now so I don't really know sir." he finished reading his list and slowly creased the paper it had been written on. "I haven't told Nikita yet I was just heading to Medlab now." he was actually asking permission to leave. "Has she awakened yet Birkoff?" he knew that she had been sedated but didn't tell the younger man that he had been informed of everything so far.

"Not to my knowledge but I was going to check on her I thought she would rather hear about Michael from one of us than some doctor or nurse." he rambled.

"I'll inform her myself Birkoff" he smiled, dismissing the young operative. "Okay" Birkoff seemed taken back but relented his position.

Operations made his way to Medlab and arrived just as Nikita seemed to be waking up. "Where am I?" she looked confused. Operations could see that someone had taken the time to actually clean her up as she slumbered. "You're back in Section Nikita." he leaned against the gurney. "You are in Medlab, you've been asleep," he continued.

"Asleep? How? When?" she tried to sit up but the quick movement made the room spin and she felt queasy.

"Don't get up just yet Nikita, the sedative just began wearing off." He gently pushed her back down on the bed but didn't remove his hand from her shoulder.

"Sedative?" she blinked trying to clear up her vision. "I've been sedated?" she simply couldn't remember things very clearly.

"You were sedated after you brought him Michael" he continued while gently pressing against her shoulder.

"Michael?" she really seemed confused. "What happened to Michael?" Operations began looking quickly about the room for someone who might be able to tell him what exactly was wrong with Nikita. It seemed very odd that she seemed unable to recall the trauma that she had been subjected to earlier in the day.

"Michael was shot, he's been in surgery most of the day and you were so distraught, I had you sedated, don't you remember any of this?" he looked into her eyes for the slightest sign that she might be playing some sort of game.

"Was he on a mission?" she really couldn't recall and Operations wondered why. "He was looking for Madeline in Chicago..." he started and noticed she seemed even more confused.

"Madeline? Madeline is in Chicago? Why? Why is she in Chicago isn't she supposed to be in Section?" she tried to sit up but Operations refused to allow her to.

"She hasn't been here for a while Nikita" he started getting nervous. Something was obviously wrong with her and he wanted answers.

"I don't understand, I talked to her the other day." Nikita brought her hands to her head, she felt terribly confused by all that she was being told.

"Nikita, don't you remember that you and Michael fought over the gun and that's how he was shot?" he tried to jar her memory.

"No, I don't know what you are talking about." Operations was beginning to feel like he was part of one hell of a bad dream.