Michael sat across from Jurgen studying the man he has once so highly admired. "Why did you turn from Section?" he knew that the conversation really was a waste of time but he had so many questions of the man who had once seemed to be a friend.

"Why? Come on Michael, given the chance you would do the same thing," he smiled thinking back to the times he had been able to simply tell Operations "Later" to one of his various commands. "Don't you get tired of all the needless killing of innocents Michael?" he wanted the younger man to understand, to see what should have been obviously clear. "Don't you get tired of being lonely? Having no one to confide in or to love you knowing who or what you really are?" he had a million responses to give to the Operative that he had trained and once recommended to succeed himself as a trainer of other operatives.

"I don't know who I am anymore Jurgen" he simply stated "And who could love monsters like us?"

Jurgen realized that Section had managed to destroy any part of Michael that he could possibly be proud of. "You're not a monster Michael just an innocent like myself who Section exploited to do their dirty deeds."

Michael silently stared at him, deep inside he knew that some if not most of what Jurgen said was true but he didn't want to remember life before Section. Then he had been angry and confused fighting for things he no longer believed in... Or was it because Section had managed to make him think he no longer did?

Jurgen smiled at the inner turmoil he knew he was causing in the younger man. "There is life outside of Section, free from Section," he sounded a lot like the campaign ads that Michael often heard about how this place was better than that, this company having more to offer than the next.

"There is no life inside of Section," he admitted to Jurgen "But there is no life if you manage to escape, which no one has," he wanted Jurgen to know that it was because of Section that he was being hunted not because of anything personal.

"Until now Michael, I have no intention of returning to Section ever!" he stressed the last part.

"I have to bring you back Jurgen, alive or dead," he sighed.

Nikita checked the hallways and she and Davenport unsuccessfully tried each and every door that they came upon. Several times that had managed to overpower Jurgen's men but Nikita knew it was only a matter of time before their luck ran out and she wanted to find Michael before that happened. "He has to be in Jurgen's office" she whispered to Davenport as they steadily moved from one place to the next.

"We had better find him soon, if Jurgen set this place up anything at all like Section those guys are on some sort of shifts and they're liable to be missed soon enough," she knew he was right.

Madeline sat at the desk she had designated as her private work area in the vast expanse of her apartment. Alan sat across from her and studied the top of her head as she worked up a plan to not only retrieve Nikita and Michael but also to take down Jurgen. That had been her plan all along. She had realized at the last possible moment that her only chance to bring down Section or at least take over it was to rid herself of Michael, Nikita and Operations. Getting to Operations would have been impossible without going through Michael and she was sure she could severely weaken his resolve by taking out Nikita. If she had out and out canceled her, Michael would have simply killed Madeline and possibly Operations and Madeline was too full of life to want that.

She figured that by hurting Nikita, Michael would be too busy to be concerned about his own safety and that was where Jurgen would come in handy. She knew what a formidable opponent Michael would make and who better than the man who had trained him. There was no love lost between her and Jurgen, he was simply a pawn in her game and after she was done with him would have easily disposed of him herself. She had enjoyed watching the pain etched across his face as the doctors she had hired worked diligently to repair the severe burns he had sustained along with the plethora of broken and mangled bones. How often he had simply asked to be canceled and relieved of his misery but that would have denied Madeline the simple pleasure of watching another human being suffer and anyone who knew her clearly knew that was what made her tick.

Operations was his usual surely self wanting to know when Michael and Davenport might return from Mandatory Refusal. Of course he knew that Birkoff wouldn't have the answer to that question but being that he had of late realized that somehow he always seemed the last to know what was going on he was doing his best to seem like he was in charge. George's' threat had put added pressure on him and it was beginning to show. Walter had gotten chewed out for improperly arming one of the teams that had come back with 90% of its members killed or badly injured. It didn't occur to him that it was a clear case of faulty Intel that led to the failure of this mission and when Walter had tried to tell him as much Operations had reached the last straw.

"Who the hell are you to question the Intel I supplied, it came from a very reliable source" he had screamed in the older man's face.

"It wasn't that damn reliable was it?" he screamed right back. "We got more dead than wounded and don't you dare try to pin this on me" he put a finger in Operation's face. "I armed them for the mission parameters you gave me and if you screwed up," he turned away.

"Me? I screwed up? I should have had you canceled when Madeline suggested it!" he shouted as his face grew fire engine red and the veins on his forehead threatened to pop. "That's where I screwed up" his hands flew as he ranted and raved while circling Munitions.

"Then why didn't you?" Walter was standing his ground this time.

"Because" it was a weak answer and both men knew it.

"Because? Because if you canceled everyone Madeline wanted you to, there would be not Dam Section that's why," he shouted one last time, turned away and yanked the steel gate down between them.

"Good point." It was a statement made then left hanging in the air as Operations turned and walked away.



Alan was growing impatient with the entire situation. He basically had no life. He was simply expected to go to work and pretend that things had never changed then return to Madeline's under her version of "Closed quarters" and wait like a doll on a shelf. It was clearly wearing thin. "I want to go to a movie, out to dinner or something. Hell Madeline (he had long ago quit calling her Celia when they were alone) I can't even go for a run by the lake without you!" he shouted at her. Madeline looked up from the notes she was jotting down and only gave him her usual closed lipped smile. "I don't care what you say" he walked to the closet and pulled out his coat "I'm going out tonight" he turned to face her as he buttoned his coat.

"I don't think that would be wise" was the understated warning.

"I don't give a dam what you think Madeline we both know you need me and we both know that I haven't been out in weeks, deal with it" and with that he turned and stalked out of the apartment.

Madeline shook her head and returned to the work at hand. She was to return to the office tomorrow so that things would outwardly appear as normal as possible. She had done her research as to be able to field any and all questions regarding her supposed surgery.

Alan breathed in the crisp cold evening air as he pulled up his collar to ward off the chill. He knew there would be hell to pay having walked out on Madeline but he also knew that whatever she was working on would keep her occupied for most of the evening. It had for days and he quickly tired of staring at the top of her head and getting simply curt one word answers or simple sound effects for each of his inquiries.

Operations was once again called into George's office at Oversight and both men were again locked in a stalemate. "I ordered you to handle this Paul, apparently you didn't take me seriously?" George sat behind the immense wooden desk sipping Cognac from a crystal snifter.

"I told you George that I needed a bit more time," he stared at the older man trying not to physically lose ground. "I have every intention of bringing Madeline in alive," he wanted George to understand that under no circumstances was he going to give the order to have her canceled.

"And I believe that I told you to handle it anyway possible to bring it to and IMMEDIATE close?" he stood and pounded his fist against the table.

Operations watched the amber liquid shake and ripple in response to the vibrations of George's fist on the desk and it made him think of the ocean. He didn't know why it just did. "All I am asking you for George is a little more time to put my plan into action" it was a statement not a request this time.

"I'm assuming you actually have a plan Paul?" he countered.

"Why wouldn't I. George" Operations stood his ground but having to face off with this man made him inwardly blanche.

"Because we both know from which end you think with where Madeline is concerned, don't' we Paul?" he turned his back on Operations before he could respond.

"I'll handle this George" he quipped then turned and left before the head of Oversight could insult him further. On the way out, he silently wondered if George might not have a point about his feelings interfering with the job at hand. He knew that Madeline often slept with other operatives and that as of late she actually acted repulsed by the mere sight of him. But he was counting on her undying gratitude at not being canceled when she was finally returned to Section and planned to use that to attempt to rebuild a relationship with her.

George sat for some time alone in his office. He remembered how it was when he loved Adrian, in fact he didn't remember ever having stopped loving her and wondered if it would be the same with Paul. He thought it odd that each great operative, himself, Paul and even Michael seemed to have emotional baggage that always wound up involving one certain woman in Section. "Perhaps relationships aren't a bad thing" he mused to himself as his secretary returned to offer him a refill on his drink.

"You were saying sir?" she stopped before pouring the expensive liquor.

"Just thinking out loud Ms. Witherspoon, just mumbling to myself I'm afraid" she had been with him long enough to know that something was bothering him.

"Perhaps if you talk about it George?" she smiled warmly.

"I'm just wondering when or if it's appropriate to have a relationship in Section" he kind of chuckled.

"I didn't think that sort of thing was allowed sir?" she sat on the edge of his desk carefully placing the decanter beside his drink.

"Perhaps it should be?" he looked into her lovely hazel eyes.

"Perhaps" she agreed before leaning in to place a single kiss on his cheek. "Let me know when you decide," she laughed, picked up the decanter and left him to his thoughts...



Operations returned to Section in a rather foul mood. Starting with the operative who met him at van access. "Is there a reason I have someone parked in my space?" he hissed at the innocent who really had no idea what he was talking about.

"Sorry sir, I'll see who it is and have them moved" he apologized "May I have the keys?" he innocently held out his hand but quickly realized it was a mistake.

"Why the hell is everyone in this place so dam incompetent?" he stalked toward the man who slowly took a step back. "Do you really think I would let some stupid peon like you drive a fine vehicle like that?" he was bordering on screaming now.

"Sir, I... I just, I was just saying" the operative stammered.

"I am not deaf. Am I deaf? Have you ever been told that I have a hearing problem?" he ranted and raved.

"No sir, I was just trying to..." his tone was somewhere between confused and apologetic.

"I know what you were doing and I certainly don't need some nobody placating me" he continued on with his tirade. The operative didn't know how to appease him so he simply stood and did nothing. "Go, get out of my sight, you are a disappointment to everything good this organization stands for!" he waved him away with a swipe of his hand. The operative took a deep breath and had to steady himself against the wall after quickly removing himself from the vicinity of Operations.

The next victim was Walter. "What the hell are we running here?" Operations stood just inside Munitions doorway and observed the load of weapons that were in various stages of being cleaned and returned to working condition.

"What did you expect?" Walter stated casually as he put away finished weapons and pulled out still more that needed his attention.

"Is this where old weapons go to die?" his tone told Walter that he was walking a thin line.

"Listen, I have too much to do besides standing here and explaining why all these weapons are out?" Walter had seen him like this before, maybe not as intense but in one of his vile moods.

"What would happen if we needed these for an immediate mission?" he was grasping and they both knew it.

"Luckily the Balkan mission is the only one running right now and you and I both know they are heavily armed," he continued logging the weapons after lovingly tending to their needs.

"Don't take that tone with me Walter" he stood legs slightly apart hands tucked into his pants pockets.

"Tone?" he laughed "Why don't you run along and run this place like you should and leave me handle my department?" he couldn't help it he had handled Operations for far to long.

"I'm warning you Walter" his voice rose in crescendo.

"Listen, maybe you need a few days off?" Walter knew he was playing with fire but the urge to bait the man was too strong for even him to resist.

"What the hell is wrong with you people?" he was hollering now and several of the operatives in Communications turned to see what was going on. "What? Why are you staring?" he now addressed the room full of operatives. "Get back to work!" he hissed as he strode across the open floor toward the perch. When he had gotten up to the Observation deck he took one more look around and blacked out the window. He was losing it and had Madeline to thank for this.

"We have a problem," came the message over the communication link on Jurgen's desk.

"What is it?" he held the button down and rubbed his face with his free hand. He looked very tired. "The girl and that big guy is missing." Jurgen's head shot up as he stared at Michael. "Ah, it would seem that Nikita is going to attempt to rescue you" he smiled. It might play right into his hands.

"Nikita and Davenport will not come for me, they know that the only way is to get out themselves" Michael stated calmly.

His demeanor confused Jurgen. He didn't seem surprised but he also seemed disinterested in any rescue attempt. Perhaps Michael was a better operative than he gave him credit for, he couldn't read anything on Michael's face. "Locate them and close the perimeter around them" he instructed all the while gauging Michael's reaction which remained unreadable.

"Shall we attempt to take them?" the voice sounded over eager.

"No, let them find their way here" he smiled. "Like rats in a maze," he laughed at Michael who simply studied him with his ice-cold emerald eyes. "You and I both know that they will not simply leave you here" he hoped that Michael had underestimated him which wasn't likely.

"Be careful Jurgen, sometimes the rats get out" his facial expression never changed.

"Always have a contingency plan Michael, always have a back up" he stood up and stretched. "Come, it's time for us to go" he motioned to the door. Michael simply did as he was instructed. His time to take action would come and the one thing Michael was sure of was that he would be ready, willing and able to pounce when the opportunity arose.