Madeline woke to the smell of bacon and it took several minutes before she realized that Alan was still there. She stretched and pulled the covers up under her chin and snuggled down for a few more minutes of peaceful bliss. It was a wonderful feeling waking up and having someone there. It was a first for her and she realized that she liked the feeling. If she ever had a chance at a normal life, this would be what she would choose. A man who demanded nothing of her and was eager to please her and this she knew would suit her to a tee. Operations was quite the opposite. Everything she did was directed at his happiness and pleasure leaving her feeling cold and unfulfilled but today was not the case and she knew now that no matter what, returning to Section was not high on her list of priorities.
Alan came into the bedroom wearing his slacks that were pulled up but undone at the waist. He smiled as he placed the breakfast tray over her reclined form and sat down beside her. "Good morning beautiful" he leaned over and gave her a delicate kiss on her lips. "Sleep well?" he smiled.
She scooted up to sit against the pillows he now propped behind her and laughed. "Very well thank you." she liked the attention and promised to return the favor sometime. They ate breakfast together sharing the toast and the fresh ripe strawberries that he had carefully set in a circular pattern around her bacon and eggs. He gently fed her one and she returned the favor in kind. "You know you are spoiling me?" she smiled, leaned back and closed her eyes relishing the taste of the fruit as the juices flowed down her throat.
"I'm trying and I get the feeling this is all new to you?" he laughed as he removed the tray so she could get more comfortable. "Somewhat," she admitted. He leaned over kissed her and snapped off the light on the bedside table. "Where are you going?" she sat upright not wanting this to end. "I have some things to take care of and I promise I will be back" he laughed as he buckled his belt after putting on his shirt and tucking it in. "Wait for me" he kissed her again, gathered his things and let himself out.
As he exited the elevator he stopped long enough to remove his cellphone place the device to secure the line and dialed the number. The phone rang perhaps five times before a familiar voice answered at the other end.
"Yes," came the voice heavily tinged with a German accent. "Everything is going as planned" Alan smiled as an elderly couple passed by him. "Very good, I will inform my boss." the man with the German accent concluded the conversation and clicked the phone before Alan could say more. "Just as it should be." he laughed to himself. A phone rang in Medlab and was quickly handed to Michael
"Yes?" was the one word question.
"My contact tells me all is going as planned." The thick accent whispered over the phone.
"Very well, thank you." he smiled and closed the phone knowing that the man on the other end would have secured the line before calling. He knew that he had to recover quickly if he were going to go forward with his plan.
Michael was grateful to be allowed to get up and move about. He had finally conceded that he couldn't take care of himself fully yet and agreed to move into Nikita's place. "You won't regret it." she assured him as she packed several of his bags and placed them inside the van Section had supplied.
"There are things I will need to get from my apartment" he held a tight arm around his midsection, which was still very tender after the extensive surgery. "Make me a list and I can get it." she smiled as she helped him remove his robe and attempt to dress. "We can stop on the way." he didn't want her at the apartment alone and since she was the only other operative that had ever been there he wasn't about to send a stranger.
"You're still too weak to be doing much traveling Michael." she saw him wince as he lifted his arms to put on a sweater. "So I will take it slow." he didn't want her to worry about him so much but knew that telling her so would surely fall on deaf ears. "We, we will take it slow Michael, you’re in no condition to play super hero yet" she looked up and saw the corners of his eyes crinkle as he smiled. He felt like a baby as she knelt down in front of him and first pulled on his socks and shoes then proceeded to tie them.
"You shouldn't have to wait on me hand and foot" his face looked suddenly sad. "Michael, you would do this for me wouldn't you?" she knew that he was exceedingly independent and wanted to assure him that the need for assistance was a temporary thing. His refusal to answer was all the confirmation she needed.
They had him packed and ready to leave when Operations returned and bid him farewell. "Hurry back Michael there's much to be done around here" he looked at both the operatives and had to admit but only to himself that they did indeed make quite a couple. "Take care of him Nikita and remember, you have a month" he smiled and simply walked away. "A month?" Michael smiled and bracing himself against Nikita for support, they managed to make it to the van without further interruption.
Nikita drove them to his apartment building and chose to park in the underground garage. Michael slowed her progress to the elevator and it took quite a bit of her strength to support him as far as the elevator. "Are you sure you can make it upstairs?" she hoped he would change his mind and allow her to go up alone but he quickly shook his head. "I'm coming with you." he tried to lean less heavily against her knowing that she was doing a valiant job of aiding him. "I'm sorry that this is taking so long." he smiled and hugged her tighter to him.
The hair on the back of his head prickled and he slowly scanned the perimeter for anything out of the ordinary. Seeing nothing they continued to the elevator and it was only after Nikita had pulled the metal gate closed and the elevator began it's ascent that Michael relaxed a little. The huge elevator churned to a halt on his floor and as Nikita lifted the gate, Michael noticed wet footprints leading down the hall to his apartment. He instinctively pushed her back behind him and unholstered the weapon he had insisted on carrying. "Shhh..." he brought his finger to his lips to silence her then motioned to the puddles of water that tracked directly to his door which was slightly ajar. "Wait here." he started forward but knew that she wouldn't listen.
"Not on your life Michael" she pushed past him aware that she would have to take point if she intended on protecting him. "Slowly." he instructed as he took the unfamiliar place behind her. No sense arguing about this now he thought as they silently crept down the empty hallway and positioned themselves on either side of the doorway. "I'm going in low." she crouched and prepared for a low strike. Michael nodded and they both entered at the same time. The two men inside never saw them coming and the surprised look on their face didn't go unnoticed by either of the Operatives.
"Drop it." Michael shouted as the one reached forward with the gun he had been carrying. "Now!" he offered little resistance as he tossed the gun on the floor and kicked it over toward Nikita. "Now you!" she pointed her weapon at the other man who had been busy digging through Michael's belongings.
"Hold on a second." the taller of the two began to move toward her but stopped when he saw Michael and Nikita level their weapons in his direction.
"Sit down." was the direction given by Michael as he waved his gun between the two men. "What is it you were looking for?" he questioned the first man as the other sat quietly by watching what was going on.
"Nothing." the man replies.
"Nothing?" Michael brought the gun up to his temple "You break into my home and say you were looking for nothing?" the man nodded. Michael didn't even blink as he pulled the trigger on his weapon wounding the man in his left knee cap. "You son of a..." he screamed and writhed in pain as blood spilled down his leg and soaked the sofa. "Would you care to back up his story?" Nikita brought her gun to the man's midsection.
"We were sent here to find some disk" he stuttered as his face whitened from nausea. "We didn't find it though" he continued not knowing if answering and dying by Jurgen's hands could be any worse than being tortured by these two.
"Who? Who do you work for?" Michael wanted the wounded man to answer but still he refused. Michael pulled the trigger again this time shooting him in the hand he had been using as he attempted to staunch the flow of blood from his knee.
"Are you insane?" he screamed at Michael who showed no emotions. Nikita was astonished as well.
"Who do you work for?" he continued without hesitation.
"If I tell you I'm as good as dead." he shouted from a combination of fear and pain.
"From the looks of things," Michael motioned to the pools of blood forming around him. "You are as good as dead anyway." he smiled.
"Jurgen and Madeline." the second man shouted trying to spare his partner anymore pain.
"Jurgen and Madeline." he repeated. The wounded man nursed his wounds and cringed in fear.
"They're going to kill us Eddie." he pleaded with his friend. "Jurgen warned us he'd kill us don't you remember?" he didn't want to die by either man's hand but he had seen how ruthless Jurgen had been with another man who had failed him.
"I don't think Jurgen is our problem right now Nick." he pleaded "Please don't kill us" he begged both Nikita and Michael.
"I won't have to" Michael stood up and walked around the room. "The disk, what did he tell you about it?" he waved the gun back and forth and both men realized that Jurgen couldn't hurt them anymore. This man was obviously far more dangerous.
"Something about the Directory." Eddie filled in the missing info. "Madeline said it held the key to some adjustment process. Do you know what she means?" he didn't know why he was asking since he knew that neither Jurgen nor Madeline had supplied that information beforehand.
"Yes," Michael walked out of the room and Nikita heard him rummaging around in the room where he worked out in. "Give this to her." he handed the disk to Nick.
"How am I gonna explain how I got shot?" he looked at Michael.
"Think of something. If you tell them it was me they'll kill you" he motioned for them to leave. The shorter man tried to help his friend the best he could as they exited the building. Both realized that Michael was correct and agreed to say that when they were leaving they were ambushed in the alley.
"Why did you give them the disk?" Nikita was surprised that Michael hadn't simply killed them.
"It's not the disk Madeline wanted," he packed his things as he continued talking. "It has enough information on it for her to think it is. And by the time she realizes it is a plant, it will have installed a bug into her system that will allow us to access her information and location," he smiled as he zipped up the last of his bags. "Ready?" he looked around then slowly walked to the door. The last hour had taxed his strength but he was too proud to admit it.
Nikita, knowing him quite well was able to see that he struggled just to make it back to the van. "Why don't you close your eyes and I'll wake you when we get to my apartment," she put his bags in the van then waited for him to get comfortable.
"Let's not go to your apartment." he looked up at her and smiled at her surprised look.
"Where then?" she sat down across from him.
"My farmhouse." he scrunched down in the seat trying to ease the pain he was feeling from over extending himself.
"Oh Michael, I'm not sure you’re up to being that far from Medlab" she was concerned that he looked paste white. "I don't like your coloring right now" she reached across the table between them and felt his forehead. "You seem to have a fever as well, maybe I should take you back to Section," she got up to return to the driver's seat.
"No, take me to the farmhouse. Please?" he pleaded with her and she knew she couldn't refuse him. "It's the safer of our choices" he informed her as he opened the laptop he had brought with him. "Birkoff?" he placed a com unit into his ear as he called to the young operative he knew would be waiting at Section. "Change in plans" he clicked in his new coordinates. "And Birkoff." he waited. "Yes, Michael?" the younger man knew what was coming. "If I tell anyone you'll kill me right?" he chuckled knowing that Michael meant it but knew it was unnecessary.
Walter was busy inventorying the newest weapons the Oversight had sent them. Birkoff sat across from him watching his obvious delight with all the new gadgets. "This stuff is among some of the best I've ever seen," he fondled the weapon like one might run his hand along his favorite pet.
"Easy big guy, those things take lives." Seymour, always the pessimist hated guns and wished he'd never had to learn to use one. The weapon issued by Section often sat forgotten in a corner drawer farthest from where might actually see it and have to use it.
"They also give us a big advantage over some of our worst enemies," he unpacked carton after carton on new hi tech weaponry. "Any word from Michael and Nikita?" he looked at the younger man who was studying some computer disks that came packaged along with the weapons. "I guess they're catching up on lost time at her apartment huh Birkoff?" he laughed when he saw the hesitation with which Birkoff answered him.
"They're not at the apartment." he whispered after checking to make sure that no one was within hearing range. "They went to Michael's farmhouse." he knew that Michael wouldn't punish him for telling Walter since he knew that Walter had continued to assist both him and Nikita. "There was some trouble at Michael's apartment, I don't know the details except that it had something to do with people working for Madeline and Jurgen." he sat up as Operations approached.
"Birkoff, Walter I take it you received the merchandise from Oversight?" Walter smiled and nodded. "I take it you're pretty impressed huh?" he knew that Walter was like a kid in a candy shop when it came to guns and the latest weapons.
"We expecting a war anytime soon?"
Operations turned away for a moment then looked at Walter "We're always expecting war Walter, I thought you knew that?" his face showed no sign of emotion. "Have we heard from Nikita or Michael?" his attention turned to the younger man.
Birkoff swallowed and hoped he hadn't noticed. "Not since they left Section two days
ago but I didn't expect them to contact us were they supposed to?"
Operations studied the younger man. "I suppose not but I just wanted to make sure they got Michael settled in all right." he turned and walked away.
Nikita was busy making dinner for the two of them under the direction of Michael. She hadn't had much use for cooking since it was usually just her for dinner but since they were going to be together everyday she figured that take out would be out of the question. "I hope my pot roast doesn't burn," she stirred the pot of noodles boiling on the stove then checked the homemade gravy that Michael had instructed her to make. "Fresh is better than bottled." She had to laugh when she pictured Michael reading labels and comparing prices in a grocery store, somehow it just didn't fit.
"But bottled is by far easier." she tried to get him to reconsider afraid that after he tasted her cooking he would never want to eat again.
"Don't worry so much Nikita, it smells wonderful." he sat back on the sofa and stared into the crackling fire.
"I hope it tastes as good as it smells" she drained the noodles then returned them to the pot and came to hand him a glass of wine.
"Aren't you joining me?" he took the glass but looked puzzled.
"I better not, I don't know what effect the wine might have on me... you know with whatever was done to me." she smiled shyly.
"I'm sorry Nikita, I honestly thought by now that Madeline would have run the disk," he apologized then patted the sofa beside himself. "Come sit by me, surely that won't do anything?" he teased knowing that they still felt unsure of themselves whenever they were close together.
"Okay" she slumped down beside him and he pulled her close kissing the top of her head.
"I will check later and see, it's the only way I'll even begin to know what she has on the disk." he played with her hair and inhaled the floral aroma of her shampoo. "Gee your hair smells terrific." he laughed at himself.
She relaxed and placed her head in his lap. "Do you think we will ever be able to restore all my memory?" she turned over on her back so she could look at him. "Honestly Michael do you?" she waited as he weighed his thoughts carefully.
"I wish I could tell you we will but I honestly don't know. Jurgen is a dangerous man and he was my trainer," he wished that he was sure that he now knew more than his former mentor be he couldn't be sure.
Walter thought back over the conversation he had with Birkoff. Something he had said bothered him yet it took a while before he remembered. Thinking about it he headed over to where Birkoff was working and sat down. "You mentioned Jurgen?" he waited for the younger man to give him his attention. "Does Operations know he is helping Madeline?" he saw the younger man look over and up at the Observation deck.
"I'm not sure" he tapped out information on the screen and turned it toward Walter.
"BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY HE HAS PEOPLE ON THE INSIDE!" was typed across the monitor. Walter looked momentarily stunned, stood up shaking his head and walked away. He had been around much longer than Jurgen and knew that he was a formidable enemy. It would take everything Michael had to defeat him and now, knowing that Michael was the reason he was to be canceled, his vendetta was even more so ruthless.
He knew also that Jurgen had started to fall for Nikita so he had to wonder if he believed she had anything to do with his downfall or if in the end he might be the one to save her."