All they could do was wait. They had moved to a different part of Jurgen's compound so that Elena and Adam didn't have to be subjected to the sight of Jurgen's corpse any longer and were now in the area where both he and Elena had lived over the past two years. It was quite comfortable surprisingly and some of the views were simply spectacular as Nikita ventured around. "You have a beautiful home here" she tried to make small talk.
Michael's gaze followed her every movement even though he was sitting with Adam on his lap teaching him how to play checkers. "Adam you can't cheat like that" his voice held a happiness that Nikita knew had been missing for some time.
"I wanna jump like this," his little hands grabbed the black game piece and began dancing around the board in random patterns as he laughed and collected both Michael's and his own pieces.
"But you are taking all the checkers" he laughed.
"I know poppa, but I want them" he giggled like a little boy without a single care in the world. Michael's head came up and caught sight of Nikita studying both father and son and he wrapped a protective arm around his son.
"What will happen to us now Michael?" Elena was standing near the stove heating water for tea for all of them. "Nikita told me about this Section place you work for" she took beautiful China teacups down from the cabinet. "They won't let us stay with you will they?" the sadness that filled Elena's features touched deeply within Nikita.
"No, they won't" he knew that honesty was hard but necessary here.
"Will they kill us?" she swallowed hard knowing that once again Michael would be taken from their lives.
"No, I will never allow that to happen," the determination in his voice made the woman look at each other and smile.
"Nor will I" Nikita added in a tone that made Michael smile as he looked at her. "Elena, I promise you that no one is going to hurt you or Adam," she wanted the dark haired woman to believe her because although she knew what lay ahead was going to be extremely difficult, she had every intention of keeping her word.
Michael had to admire the woman he had come to love with a passion so strong that it often threatened his very existence. She decided to find out the exact layout of Jurgen's place such as weapons rooms and any hidden places. "Elena, do you know if there are blueprints to this place anywhere?" she saw the surprise look cross Michael's face. "Blueprints?" he wondered what she was planning.
"Has Madeline ever been here before?" the questions continued?
"No, no I don't think she has unless it was before I came here and if there are any blueprints, they'd be in his office, come I'll show you the way," she smiled and waved her hand toward the door. "Adam stay here with your Poppa okay?" she tousled his hair and kissed him quickly on the cheek. "Mommy and Aunt Nikita will be right back," she turned back and motioned for Nikita to follow her. "Why are you after Madeline if I may ask?" she waited until they were far enough away from Michael and her son.
"Madeline was supposed to be canceled by Section, she escaped and I believe she was using Jurgen to get to Michael and me," they continued down several corridors, twisting and turning and Nikita found herself surprised at how quickly Elena navigated the seemingly endless maze of hallways. "How long have you been here?" she tried to remember when everything had happened yet found it difficult to recall the exact year.
"It's been four years since my father was killed so I have been here" she paused at a wooden door very much like every other one on that level. "About three and a half give or take a month or so, why?" she unlocked the door with a key she had on a chain around her neck. "In here, he kept everything in that file cabinet," she motioned to a four drawer Steelcase file cabinet tucked behind the desk. "If there are blueprints, that would be where they were," she turned on the desk lamp and took a seat on an overstuffed hunter green leather sofa. "Where does, did Jurgen keep his weapons?" she shuffled through papers and finally found the building's layout. Apparently it went further underground than she would have originally thought.
"Lowest level but you need palm identification to access it," she remembered following him down there once and seeing him press his hand across a screen which scanned it and gave him clearance.
"Did you have access?" she hoped but wasn't surprised when Elena shook her head.
"Very few people did, he didn't trust anyone" she wasn't telling Nikita anything she didn't already know. "I can show you but unless..." she knew what they were going to have to do without asking. Nikita didn't want her anymore involved than necessary but since she knew where most of everything was she sat at the desk and gave her the virtual tour via the blueprints laid out before them. "I can help if you need me" she knew that Madeline must be extremely dangerous for Nikita to be making such detailed plans.
"Only if necessary Elena, I don't want to risk either of your lives." Elena smiled at her and admired the way she had seemingly changed since the last time they had met.
"Nikita can I ask you something?" she decided to see if there was truth to what she had been feeling since seeing them both together again. "Will you answer me honestly?" she paused no knowing why she needed this info but having to ask in any case.
"If I can" she continued to read the blueprint but paused when she realized that Elena was waiting for her full and undivided attention.
"Do you love Michael?" she had to know. "Yes, yes I do but I don't...."
Elena smiled. She would have wanted someone as beautiful and strong as Nikita for him. "You don't what? You don't think he feels the same?" she'd be surprised if Michael hadn't already told Nikita as much.
"Sometimes I know he does but other times" she paused and a pained look came over her "I'm not always sure, Section has a way of doing that to us you know," of course she didn't but Nikita was sure she knew what was implied. "How did you know?" she sat down with her hands splayed before her.
"You only have to look at the two of you together and it just radiates" she smiled to reassure Nikita that it was okay with her. Over the three and a half years she had been with Jurgen, she had managed to get over losing Michael although a part of her would always have loved him it was no longer all consuming desire to be with him. "Nikita, it's okay really, he's not mine and from what you told me, maybe he never was," she sat up and smiled "But we have bigger worries don't we?" she rubbed her hands down the legs of her jeans. "What else can I tell you about this place?"
Birkoff located some of Section's voice files that each trainer narrated concerning the recruits they were in charge of. "Nikita seems to be hiding something. I do not believe that her disappearance from Section was without inside help and I fear that Michael Samuelle might be the accomplice in this matter. I have not informed Section as I hope to change her allegiance over to myself at the risk of alienating Michael." Birkoff had to listen to find enough of his voice to piece together a loop that would convince Madeline that he was still alive. "Michael continues to quietly monitor her progress and I feel that it will be a long and difficult road for myself in trying to obtain her trust and faith in myself. Perhaps it's my ego that needs stroking but Nikita would certainly be a prize and from conversations with both Operations and my sister, it would be quite a feather in my cap to have her turn against Michael,"
When he felt he had enough, he decided to erase whatever damaging information Jurgen had left behind and hope that Operations and Madeline had never gotten around to hearing the tapes. It took him most of the evening but finally he had what was needed.
Walter knew he would come through but couldn't help being amazed at his resolve to do the near impossible. "Birkoff you're the man" he slapped his friend playfully on the shoulder.
"Yeah, maybe next time you can give me a weeks notice?" he laughed but deep inside felt quite proud to have once again gotten away with something.
"Birkoff where are you?" came the booming voice of Operations.
"I'm back here sir" he knew there was no where to hide.
"I was looking for you, where have you been?" he checked his watch and knew that Birkoff had been away from his workstation for over four hours.
"I wasn't feeling very well and went to my quarters to lay down for a while," he lied hoping that Operations didn't notice how hard he had just swallowed.
"I told him to, he was looking kinda pale" Walter stepped in. "We didn't have anything running and I thought it would be okay," he figured that Operations would more than likely believe two of them.
"Fine, have we heard anything from Michael, Nikita or Davenport?" he headed back toward Communications expecting Birkoff to be hot on his heels.
"No, I'm not expecting anything until they return," he knew that he was once again under scrutiny. "Do you want me to see if I can contact them?" he knew that it was against protocol and would certainly not be missed by Oversight but he felt compelled to ask.
"No, it would only raise questions from George that I'm not equipped to answer. Keep me informed Mr. Birkoff," he turned and left the young man standing in the middle of Communications as he turned and headed to the loft.
Michael sat in a deep brooding silence that Nikita at first mistook for the sadness his decisions were going to bring to the two people that had been brought into an impossible situation. Adam had been carefully tucked into bed along side his mother, who after a rather busy and difficult day apologized profusely for being unable to keep her eyes open any longer and made her way up to join her son.
"I'm sorry but I'm so used to turning in early and with everything that has happened..." she needn't finish, both Nikita and Michael had been amazed at the composure she had managed to maintain despite the situation.
"Get some rest Elena, you've been more help then you realized." she had hugged the woman who had become her friend and then silently left to allow her a moment of privacy with Michael.
"I'm sorry I had to take Jurgen away from you," he started in while holding her in his arms. "I know he was important to you," his heart was breaking for hurting her once again.
"It's okay Michael, I would have never been with him had I known what he had planned for you, for all of us," she looked up and smiled. "You know, Nikita is a lucky person to have your love" she wished she could say that she knew if he had ever really loved her but it was not with any jealousy or malice that she said what she did.
"It's I who is lucky, Nikita was as innocent as you when she first came to Section only my ego and twisted ideals wouldn't allow me to see that," his voice was filled with a sadness and longing that Elena wished wasn't there.
"That was then Michael. You can't make up for the past but you can change the future if you learn from your mistakes" he knew she was very wise but it still amazed him that she could stand here not hating him for what he had done and all it had cost her.
"I'm sorry about your father, I never got the chance to tell you that but I truly am" he kissed her forehead and hugged her.
"He was a terrorist, Nikita told me," she looked up with tears filling her eyes. "At least I got to see him if only for a moment," she hugged him quickly reached up to place a peck on his cheek then slowly walked away. "By the way, I don't know how much sleep you've had but there are one or two bedrooms available down the hall and to the left," and with that she was gone.
He smiled to himself realizing that she hadn't just assumed that he and Nikita might be sleeping together and instead of putting him on the spot she had given him the option of one or two room.
Nikita came back in and found him once again deep in thought sitting with his feet propped and leaning back in a heavily carved wooden chair. "What's on your mind Michael? You've been quiet most of the evening," she sat down on the table directly in front of him.
"We're spread thin Nikita, we can't possibly take down Madeline without backup," his eyes betrayed the turmoil that was going on inside his head.
"Michael, if we break Mandatory Refusal won't that alert George to us?" she yawned but tried to hide it from him.
"Yes, Operations is already on the hot seat with him and I need to use Madeline in exchange for Elena and Adam's freedom so I can't tip George's hand."
"I take it that you've decided to bring her in alive?" Nikita didn't know if she felt relief or revulsion for the change in plans.
"We have no choice Nikita, she's all we have right now," he looked into her eyes "I want her to restore your memory to what it was and I also want to insure that they won't hurt Elena or use them against us."
She knew he was having a hard time with all of this. His self-imposed directive had once been so incredibly clear. Do as he was told and live, disobey and die but now everything was no longer black and white but various shades of gray. He hadn't counted on falling in love with Nikita, he had certainly trained his share of beautiful female recruits but Nikita had been different from the start. He had worked hard to break her spirit and squash any beliefs she held that went against what Section preached. In the end it was his own beliefs in Section that had been squashed and changed by the very woman he had set out to make as good an operative as himself.
He had succeeded better than he had ever imagined but at a cost to both of them. It was her humanity and faith in free will that had made him change day by day and come to realize that much of what Section did, although sometimes serving the greater good, often cost many more innocents their lives than were actually necessary. Elena was one such person. He had broken her heart when she had thought he'd died and now he would be forced to do it again to ensure her very survival. Because of his love for Nikita and refusal to discontinue their relationship, he had inadvertently cost her the soul that she had so desperately clung to all these years. Now he would have to go against everything he had been trained to do just to insure that everyone that he loved and cared about would remain safe and free from the clutches of Section One.
"I have no choice Nikita, if we kill her, we, I stand to lose more than I am willing to."
She knew that she had been included in that simple statement. "I understand Michael, but do you really believe that Operations will make that trade?" she hoped to God he was right.
"Do you remember when you once asked me about their relationship?" she nodded. "You were right, they were lovers, they may or may not still be but I do know that Operations still loves her enough to do whatever is necessary to ensure her safety," he pulled her onto his lap and planted a kiss on her full lips. "Just remember, whatever I do, I do because I love you," and he brought her to rest against this shoulder as he hugged her tighter than she ever remembered. "I can't live without you," and his strong exhale told her all she needed to know.
She had taken a shower and decided to turn in for the evening after leaving Michael to his thoughts. It was about an hour later that she heard the familiar rap against the wooden panel of the door and scurrying across the room barefoot, she quickly opened the door and he slipped silently inside. "Sorry, couldn't sleep" he smiled as she noticed that he too had taken a shower and was wearing simple pajama bottoms. "I think they're Jurgens" he snickered as she gave him one of her puzzled looks.
"Michael, come to bed" she turned pulling him by his waistband. "I've missed you" she turned and kissed his face several times before pushing him onto the huge overstuffed mattress.
"We'd better get some rest Nikita, I just needed to hold you tonight if you don't mind" he knew that he would have gladly taken this further but didn't feel right with his son and Elena down the hall. Nikita spooned against him and relished in the warmth and comfort she took being snuggled in his tight embrace. "Nikita?" his soft voice a mere whisper but his accent very apparent.
"Yes, Michael?" she remembered another time like this only it had been her speaking his name.
"I love you," he leaned in and placed a tiny kiss at the nape of her neck.
"I love you too Michael" and soon they both drifted off to sleep.