Nikita lay awake on the bed thumbing through the variety of magazines that Jurgen's staff had dropped off for her. The girl that had delivered them seemed friendly enough making small talk about this and that but declining Nikita's offer to stay and chat. "Jurgen has us on a pretty tight schedule and I should really be going," she smiled as she motioned to the door.

"Maybe we can get together later?" Nikita wanted some contact with someone other than Jurgen.

"Yeah, I'd like that," she smiled almost apologetic that she had to go.

When she had left, Nikita had fixed herself a cup of tea and retired to what was now her bedroom. She wondered where Michael was tonight? Was he trying to find her? Was he doing anything and everything to do just that? Her mind returned to all the times that Michael had saved her skin before and when she really thought about it, she realized that somehow or another, he had been covering for her screw-ups from day one. It was a wonder that either of them had survived to this point and she finally knew that Michael must have had feelings for her from the first time that he had seen her. She only hoped that he would find her and she might get the chance to tell him all that she now knew.

Michael was seated at the table inside of the van studying the Intel that Birkoff had forwarded to him. Davenport had slipped away long enough to get them some dinner. "I'm not hungry." Michael had protested after Davenport told him that he needed to keep up his strength. "What are you my mother?" he had snapped realizing after the statement was out that Davenport was only looking out for him. "I'm sorry I know you mean well but," he put his head on his arms and closed his eyes.

Davenport wasn't a fool. He knew how deeply Michael loved Nikita and that he would go to any lengths to get her back. "I'll be back in a few minutes and when I get back you had better plan on eating something." He didn't want to tell Michael that there was another reason he needed to get out of the van. Birkoff had paged him and since he hadn't paged Michael as well, Davenport figured that whatever he had to say was to be kept from his leader.

He walked away from the dark van and scanned the streets for anyone or anything that looked out of place. When he was quite sure he was alone he dialed up the number that Birkoff had left for him. "Birkoff, Davenport what's up?" his eyes continued searching the darkness. He hadn't survived Section this long to screw up now.

"I need your help" he heard the unsteadiness of the voice on the other end. "I screwed up with Operations today," he continued.

"Screwed up how?" he whispered as if anyone might hear him.

"He needed a team up and ready for the Balkan mission and he wanted you to be point man" he started rehashing the entire episode. "I slipped and told him that you were now with Michael," he apologized.

"Relax, obviously you managed to handle the situation?" the older operative knew what kind of pressure Birkoff was usually under and he also knew that he took these kind of slip ups personally.

"I have to explain this to Michael."

Davenport heard the plea for help in that simple statement. "Listen Birkoff, we're basically down for the night while Michael waits for the trace on Nikita, let me deal with this for you okay man?" he knew that he stood a better chance of clearing this up face to face than with another phone call from Birkoff.

"But what if he asks why I called you?" Birkoff was being extra careful now.

"I'll tell him that I checked in while out searching for dinner and that you filled me in." and with that they disconnected and Davenport went to pick up the pizza he had ordered.

When he returned to the Van, Michael had still not received a confirmation of Nikita's location and the agitation level was rising quickly. "What the hell is taking so long?" he slammed his fist into the table. Davenport knew him well enough to know that the question was not meant for him to answer. "I know Jurgen has her, maybe he found the tracking device?" his eyes looked red and irritated and if Davenport didn't know him better it would have appeared that Michael had been crying.

"I checked in while I was out," he started in gauging each word against any reaction from Michael.

"Did they?" he hoped but Davenport shook his head.

"But there was a problem." he sat across from him and folded his hands.

"Nikita?" his look turned to despair.

"No, not exactly" he was choosing his words carefully. "Apparently there was a development with the Balkan mission and Operations wanted me to be point man," he saw the blank stare come across Michael's face.

"And?" the simple monotone voice returned.

"Birkoff slipped and mentioned I was with you," he saw the anger. "Relax, he handled it." he tried to defuse the situation.

"He handled it? How?" his voice gave away his inner feelings.

"He told Operations that we are on Mandatory Refusal because the farmhouse was compromised." Was that a look of slight relief he saw?

"And he bought it?" Davenport nodded. "What about Nikita?" he panicked momentarily. He hated that she caused him to occasionally lose his focus but it couldn't be helped and he also knew that Davenport knew how he felt about her.

"Her as well," he shrugged. Michael was thankful that at the very least, Birkoff had actually inadvertently bought them more time without the interference of Operations.

Operations had left the meeting with George, a threat now hanging over his head. A very real threat at that. George had earlier promised that if he had ever discovered that either Paul or Madeline had anything to do with Adrian's' disappearance he would "Crush them both figuratively and literally," he believed was George's exact words. Now he had to deal with the fact that George wanted the entire Madeline issue dealt with quickly and efficiently.

One thing was clear, George didn't care if Madeline was canceled even if he had to handle it himself but Operations did. He had planned all along to bargain with Michael if need be to spare her life. Oh, she wouldn't get off completely Scott free, he would make her pay for the problems she now caused him with George it was only a matter of how she would have to do so. He didn't like losing ground to Oversight and Madeline had put him in just that position. It didn't sit well with the usually over confident man.



Birkoff was casually draped across his bed reading the latest issue of some computer magazine. Even on his down time electronic gadgets constantly surrounded him. After reading the entire issue from front cover to back, he quickly tired of that and moved on to playing various video games. He had managed to keep a copy of the one that had several of the operatives as action figures in it even after being ordered to destroy any and all copies. Some days he chose to be Operations but on most of the missions, Michael was the operative of his choice. He of course never knew just how admired by Birkoff he really was and he certainly wasn't going to admit that to Michael or anyone else for that matter.

Deep into the game, he almost failed to notice the paging device on his palm panel signaling to him. "Damn!" he shouted before tossing the hand controls down, rolling over and grabbing the buzzing machine. Across the screen he read. Location confirmed... and he quickly smiled to himself. At least this should go a ways to making amends with Michael for his screw up. He raced over to his computer and popping the com unit into his ear he sent a signal to Michael that couldn't be picked up by any of the operatives monitoring his work area. "Michael it's Birkoff, I have that location for you," he typed out than transmitted it.

Michael had finally eaten half of the pizza that Davenport had insisted on. He wasn't hungry and didn't know why he had eaten as much as he had but now it made him drowsy and he fought the urge to close his eyes and get some much needed rest. He felt the vibration as his own panel signaled an incoming message. "Birkoff it's Michael," he hoped that the young operative was still monitoring for his transmission. "I'm here Michael the location has been confirmed."

Davenport saw the spark in his eye and the triumphant grin on his face and knew that whatever message he had received had to be concerning Nikita. "Good news?" he smiled back and Michael nodded to confirm this. Along with the good news, he also passed along the as of yet unconfirmed rumor that Operations was moving up their time parameters on the Madeline mission.

"He had a meeting with George and it lasted all afternoon." Birkoff whispered into his headset. "Whatever George said to him really pissed him off," he couldn't help gloating.

"Who told you this?" Michael knew that rumors around Section almost always carried a bit of truth at the very least.

"Walter overheard him talking to several of the operatives that he is sending out in the next few days. They are all on Close Quarter Standby until further notice." Now Michael knew it had to be true. "Walter said that he overheard Operations ranting about how George thinks he can handle this situation better than Operations can and how dare he tell him to rectify it immediately or he would handle it himself."

Michael swallowed hard. If oversight was getting involved in this he was going to have to move up any action he planned on taking against Madeline yet he still hadn't solidified his plan to retrieve Nikita yet. "Damn it!" he slapped the table.

"What is it Michael?" Davenport looked up from the newspaper he had been reading. He had caught bits and pieces of the conversation but not enough to put it all together.

"Operations was called into Oversight today and was instructed to move up the Madeline Mission." Davenport knew that Michael was being forced to make a choice. Madeline or Nikita. He knew his heart was set on getting Nikita back but the Section Operative part of him was telling him that Madeline should be his priority. "We have confirmation on her location," Michael broke communication with Birkoff "We are moving tonight." Obviously his heart was winning out at the risk of losing Madeline.

"Are you sure Michael?" he saw the conflict going on behind the shimmering emerald green eyes. "I'm sure." It was all he needed to know that he would do whatever Michael instructed. It was obvious that with Birkoff having placed them on Mandatory Refusal, they would have no objections from Operations besides the fact that he was unaware of the parallel mission that Michael had been running. God help them both if he ever found out the truth.

Michael set the coordinates in his panel, downloaded all his information to Davenport's then headed the van toward the location that Nikita was being kept. It would be several hours before they actually reached it and Davenport offered to take over the driving so that Michael could grab some shut eye and be on top of his game. Going up against Jurgen, the operative who had trained Michael was going to take all of his training and then some and Davenport didn't want to be on the losing end of this match.

"Get some sleep Michael, as soon as we get there, I promise I will wake you up," he instructed as he switched places with Michael. After driving for about a half-hour, stopped at a light he turned and noticed that Michael for the most part appeared to have quietly slipped into a deep but somewhat restless slumber.

In his mind he imagined the showdown between himself and the operative that had not only trained him but who now knew that he had betrayed him to Section. Jurgen had been one advisory that Michael would have gladly steered clear of having been given the choice and although Michael knew that Jurgen had to have realized that he had been acting on behalf of Section's orders, betrayal was still betrayal.



They arrived at the warehouse just as darkness had finally settled in and blanketed everything in a blue-black sheet of veiled stillness. Davenport parked the van within a recess of trees well out of the glare of lights that encompassed the compound. "Michael, wake up we're here." Davenport gently nudged the deeply sleeping operative. Michael looked momentarily confused and dazed as he quickly reached for the weapon he had carefully placed only a hand reach away and tucked under the seat where he had finally stretched out. He leveled it at Davenport who was temporarily stunned by this.

"Michael, it's okay, it's me, Davenport," he realized that Michael must have been more soundly asleep than even he realized.

"Ugh, where? Where are we?" he sat up and placed the gun down on the table. "What time is it?" he tried to focus on his watch but his eyes refused to work properly for the moment.

"It's just after midnight." Davenport turned the muzzle of the loaded weapon toward a more neutral area. "Birkoff is scanning the building to get a fix on what we are up against," he informed the still yawning operative.

"How many hostiles?" he wanted to be sure what they were walking into.

"Michael, I'm scanning two on the first floor and possibly 7 on the second. Nikita appears to be somewhere on the third floor." He heard Birkoff read off the Intel he knew. "There appears to be a security surveillance team that scours the perimeter of the building every hour on the hour. They just finished their rounds five minutes ago so you only have a 55 minute window."

He had to give him credit, not only was Birkoff honest but he was thorough as well. "Thanks Birkoff," he signaled Davenport to cut the transmission. "When we go in, Jurgen is mine," he instructed the operative who simply smiled and nodded. Michael was not telling him anything he hadn't already known. "I'm going after Jurgen, your job is to secure Nikita and then our egress is that clear?" he wanted Davenport to know that if he came between Michael and Jurgen, when Michael was finished with one he would deal quickly with the other.

"Not a problem. Shall we move?" he loaded up the black canvas bag with everything that he thought would be required. "You have 50 minutes left Michael," he heard Birkoff's voice break through.

They moved into the darkness like two black leopards hunting for a midnight target. The stealth with which they moved would have been envied by even the most graceful of athletes. The fence posed no problem after Davenport shorted out one of the panels. Thankfully you only needed to disarm one without taking down the entire fence line. That would have surely given them away. Michael signaled Davenport to head to the West end of the building while he headed to the East end where Birkoff was sure Jurgen would be. He quickly took out one of the two members of Jurgen's first floor security team then entered the building and made his way to the second level.

The elevator door opened and closed twice without anyone either entering or exiting it. The two guards nearest the elevator cautiously moved in, weapons drawn and ready as they tried to see what was causing this to happen. Michael took the first one down with a single shot as he hung upside down from the escape hatch in the ceiling. The second moved in and was rewarded for his courage as Michael somehow managed to flip over and while hanging by his arms quickly wrap both legs around the second guard's neck and squeeze. A moment later and Michael heard the tell tale snap of the man's neck and he slumped to the ground, dead before he hit the cold green tiles.

"Birkoff I'm on the second level, where are the others?" he whispered into his com unit as he carefully moved off the elevator, twisting and turning to cover any all possible access points.

"I have two more on your end of the building and Davenport has taken out three on his end." Michael slowly and methodically moved down the corridor towards the direction that Birkoff sent him. "Someone appears to be sitting at the far end of the hallway and off to the left." Birkoff kept up a steady stream of conversation as he continually monitored the building for any changes.

Michael could hear two voices coming his way engaged in a patter of simple conversation. "I picked up this broad last night, was supposed to meet her again but Jurgen called me in for security reasons," he heard one of them complain.

"Yeah, that's what is so strange, I was scheduled to be off and he called me in as well. Didn't sit to well with the little lady I might add," they both rounded the corner one a step ahead of the other.

Michael was able to take them both down with single shots to the chest. He stood over them checking to make sure that both had been disposed of. "Birkoff where is Davenport?" he looked at the door at the end of the corridor while planning his next move. Before he was able to formulate what his next course of action was he felt the cold hard steel muzzle of a gun leveled against the back of his neck.

"Michael, good of you to come, I've been expecting you," he was steaming mad that he had been taken off guard.

"Jurgen" he slowly turned as the older operative stepped back putting a safety zone between them. Both men knew what the other was capable of doing. "Where is Nikita?" he needed to know. It didn't matter that Jurgen knew how important Nikita was to him, after tonight, Michael felt sure that he would never have to worry about Jurgen again.

"She's fine Michael, I would never hurt her," he smiled. It was then that Jurgen heard the click of metal on metal as Davenport chambered a round into his weapon and crept up behind him.

"Drop your weapon Jurgen," he instructed. "Now, or I drop you," he didn't want Jurgen to even consider getting off a shot at Michael.

"I don't think so." Jurgen proudly held up his hand and within his grasp first Michael then Davenport noticed the trigger mechanism firmly held between his fingers. "If you either of you shoot, the room Nikita is in will be detonated," he smiled and turned first to Davenport and then to Michael.

"What do you want?" Michael didn't like how this was playing out.

"All in good time Michael, all in good time," he laughed then motioned Davenport and Michael to lead the way ahead of him and down the hall.