Davenport came back a short while later and apparently had found what Jurgen's version of the 'White Room' in Section had been. "He hated Section but I tell you Nikita, he's copied most of Section while building this place," he sat down with a sigh. Already it had been too long of a day for him. He hadn't yet gotten in a one-on-one training session with each of his recruited operatives and that was his normal way of judging where each would be most useful on his team. He understood that some of the process of selection Nikita would come to learn to rely on gut feelings for but also knew that given the seriousness of this mission they were on, he couldn't blame her for being overly cautious.
"I've got two more interviews then I'd like to see Rita in, where did you say this room was?" she rubbed her temples as she attempted to stave off another headache.
"You feeling okay?" he saw the tiredness about her yet hadn't mentioned it until now. "You look kinda tired," he reached over and squeezed her shoulder. "I can handle Rita if you want me to?" she shook her head and he fully understood. This was Nikita's team and she would handle any canceling lest the others think her weak. "If you need anything else just call okay?" she thanked him then asked him to send in Skyler.
Blonde hair and blue eyes, Nikita might have been looking in a mirror their looks were that similar. She studied the woman as she poked her head around the door "You wanted to see me Nikita?" she pointed with the pen in had to the direction of the chair across from the desk.
"I did, please take a seat," she jotted some info on the profile sheets. "I'm taking the time to talk to each of you on my team and from your records I see glowing reports" she smiled to put the woman across from her at ease.
"But something bothers you?" she detected a slight accent.
"Yes, it says here that you are a full time Valentine Operative and..." she saw a smile growing across Skyler's face.
"And you were wondering what I'm doing with Davenport?" she laughed, crossed her fingers under her chin and admired Nikita's looks. "We could be twins you know?" she chuckled and was rewarded with a smile from Nikita "It's eerie isn't it?" she nodded.
"Anyway, you were saying?" Nikita knew that her time with each woman was limited. If she hoped to make sure that their fighting skills were up to par.
"I get easily distracted from my other Section duties so in between missions where my, shall we call it expertise' is required, Operations and Madeline like to keep me on my toes." she shrugged. "Like I would forget how to fight for my life?" she stretched her arms above her head. "I realize you need to get to know us before you decided who will do what on your team but I assure you, I can handle anything you need done." Her answer was not cocky simply a statement she knew she could back up if necessary.
"Then I'll see you around seven for our first training session," both she and Nikita were pleased with the way this interview went. Nikita would still check out her story with Davenport but she felt assured that Skyler was exactly what she claimed to be.
Blythe was the final interview for the team. She was a tall attractive woman that seemed extremely comfortable with herself. She politely knocked then waited to be admitted to the office, quickly closed the door and headed directly to the chair where she stood military like waiting to be allowed to sit. "Please" Nikita motioned to the chair "Thank you" and she sat down. Her coloring was a beautiful bronze hue of unblemished skin that covered sinewy athletic muscles. She sat quietly studying as much as being studied by the woman seated directly across from her. Her hair was a close cropped simply maintained hairdo and although she lacked any make up, the smoothness of her skin set against Burnt Sienna colored eyes made it apparent that she needed nothing extra.
"I read your profile." Nikita waited to gauge her reaction.
"And?" she sat forward hands folded but hanging in front of her long ebony legs.
"I see you had a, shall we call it, misunderstanding with Section." They both kind of chuckled. "Well, it was a bit more serious than that but I wasn't taking the blame for anything I hadn't actually done," she smiled.
"I understand that concept." Nikita laughed. She liked this woman, in fact she reminded her of herself. "Well, I'm hopeful that although you have this apparent weakness for innocents, you won't have any trouble assisting us in retrieving Madeline." Again she waited to see the reaction.
"Madeline innocent?" her eyes shot wide open "Who ya kidding girl?" she laughed. "Madeline wasn't innocent at birth that's why the doctor slapped her twice" they both started laughing and missed the light knock on the door followed by Michael entering the room. His apparent confusion at the girlish giggling made them both exchange a knowing glance.
"Blythe" Michael nodded in her direction. "Nikita may I see you in private?" he motioned to the corridor and turned to leave without waiting for a reply.
"Michael" Blythe returned the pleasantries.
"I'll be right back." Nikita apologized before following him out and closing the door. "What's wrong Michael?" she saw a look about him that made her stomach knot.
"Madeline is on the move again," he leaned against the wall.
"On the move?" she wanted a clearer report.
"She's calling in contacts from people who owe her, how soon before you have your team ready to move?" he knew that she hadn't even had a chance to get in a training session.
"Geeze Michael, I haven't even finished the interviewing yet and..." she stammered "How long?" she knew him, she knew he wouldn't press her like this unless it was absolutely necessary. "A week?" she really hoped to have more time.
"Three days," the voice came out more as a command.
"Six," she knew she was bargaining with him but she wanted to be sure these women were up to the job.
"Four," he turned to walk away. "Go with your gut, if they don't feel right cut them but handholding is out, is that clear?" he wanted her to maintain clarity in this mission.
"Four," she repeated to the back of his head as he walked away.
"You okay?" Blythe saw the look on her face.
"We only have four days to train." She shook her head realizing that they were now possibly unprepared for a full out assault. "It's not enough." she sagged against the hardened wood of the oak desk.
"Nikita" she stood up directly in front of her and placed her hands on both of her shoulders "None of us are new recruits. We've been in the field many times and we know how to handle ourselves." she squeezed her hands to stress her point. "Just tell us where you need us and what you want us to do, the rest we can handle" she smiled. Nikita simply nodded...
Four days to prepare for the impossible. Four days, the clock began ticking the moment Michael had walked away.....
Madeline was packing when Alan finally walked into the apartment well after midnight. "Where the hell have you been?" she continued a trail between the bureau and the suitcases on the bed.
"What's going on?" his eyes never left her as he watched the agitation written on her face.
"I asked you just where the hell you've been?" lifted another pile of clothing that she quickly deposited in yet another empty suitcase.
"Don't take that tone with me, I asked you a question." He turned to empty his pockets onto the dresser as he did every night when he returned to the apartment after work. It was then that he heard the now familiar metallic click of a bullet being chambered in a gun. "Listen Madeline, if you're going to pull the trigger, do it already. Otherwise," he turned to face her with a very tired and highly irritated look on his face, "you can stuff that gun up your....." and with that he shrugged his shoulders and returned to the living room to pour himself a Scotch.
Madeline backed up dropping the pile of clothes she had been holding in her free hand, her jaw dropped open at the apparent insolence of Alan. She plopped the clothing on the bed along side the suitcase then placed her weapon on top of the pile then followed him into the living room. "I'll join you if you don't mind?" her entire demeanor had quickly changed with his challenge.
He handed her the drink he had poured for himself, returned to the bar and poured himself a double. When she was in this kind of mood, he often turned to multiple drinks just to deal with her. "So, why you packing?" he sat back in the overstuffed chair then brought his feet up onto the ottoman.
"We're moving, Section is closer that we realized and I for one am not planning on making any returns to them" she took a healthy slug of the scotch than grimaced as the amber liquid burned her throat.
"Madeline, this isn't the first time you've thought they were right behind us" he had been down this road before and hand no intentions of running off into the middle of the night because of Madeline's intuitions.
"I've called in several of my marks and trust me, Operations has a mission profile already set and we are the targets." She sighed wondering if she really would be able to be free of them forever.
"How can you be so sure, it's not like you have inside information or do you?" he sat back admiring the woman seated across from him. He had to give her credit, she had somehow always managed to remain one step ahead of Section and up until know he often wondered how. "You have someone on the inside of Section?" he leaned forward inviting her to tell him more.
"No, not actually Section but she's been secretly moved to another mission under Michael and Nikita's direction. I'll lay odds that they're running a parallel mission to the one Operations has going," she smiled like the Cheshire cat.
"Well, who are we running from more?" he hated being the rat in the maze. "If I had to pick anyone to cancel me, I'd take Operations
over Michael any day."
She sat back and closed her eyes. "Why? Either way you're dead?" he obviously didn't understand the implications of being on the bad side of Michael's.
"Operations might give me a second chance, we have a history" she sighed "But Michael, he's clearly a different story altogether," the scotch in her glass was quickly consumed and she handed him the empty for a refill.
"Why?" he wanted to know who exactly he was going up against.
"I've done things that would make a lesser man want to kill me" she shuddered at the thought of possibly facing Michael again.
"Such as?" he figured he was entitled to know.
"I'm the one that brought him to Section for starters," another slug of Scotch, "I'm the one that has done everything I could to keep him and Nikita apart."
Alan reached over and lit a cigarette, something that he seldom did in front of her. "But you've been told to by Operations right?" he had fallen for her and was looking for possible ways to defend her.
"No, not always," she rose and began a steady pacing from one side of the room to the other. Alan had been with her enough to know that she was fighting inner demons right now. "I wiped out her memory of him without anyone's consent and when I couldn't reverse it. Then Operations found out I had been going behind his back which is a mistake in itself." the cadence of her strides quickened. "Operations would be more merciful but not Michael and especially if Nikita hasn't returned to her former self," she sat down exhausted from this game.
"Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't be better simply turning myself into
Operations before Michael got his hands on me" the lines on her brow furrowed.
"So why don't you?" he knew that she never would.
"Because once I was back in Section, Michael would find a way to destroy me once and for all," she had no doubts about that.
Nikita made her way toward Jurgen's version of the White Room contemplating what she would say to Rita when she got there. "Hold on Davenport, I can't just go in there and blast her." She paused leaning heavily against the wall.
"Do you want me to do this?" he stood beside her waiting for her to make up her mind.
"No, I have to handle this or the others might think I'm not up to the job." She sighed and ran a hand through the hair that she had earlier released from its ponytail holder. "I need to know when she contacted Madeline last and what she's told her," she closed her eyes trying to draw strength for what lay ahead. "Where's Michael?" She knew she would run this by him. If something happened to her and she didn't tell him about Rita she would never rest. So she decided now was as good a time as ever.
"He's working out with one of the recruits in the Gallery."
She knew that the workout would be intense no holds barred and that both men would come out battered and bruised. "I need to talk to him," she turned and headed off in the direction she knew Michael would be at.
"Nikita," he called but she was already far ahead of him so he simply let her go.
The battle below was intense as she quietly maneuvered to a vantage point on the steel bridge above. "Harder," she heard Michael's voice raised to an unusually high level. "Kick me with all you have," he was in a stance waiting to fend off his opponent's blows. "I'm trying," the other man grunted with the shear exertion of his efforts. She watched as the younger man spun around catching Michael's blind side. His kick and aim were dead on and she grimaced as Michael's head snapped back before dropping him to the ground. "How's that?" the operative was getting into the heat of the battle.
Michael made no movement and Nikita let out an unintentional scream. "MICHAEL" before running to the stairs and sliding down the polished metal rails "Ni-ki-ta," he whispered but made no attempt to rise.
"He's fine," the operative delivered a blow to the prone man's ribcage causing Michael to curl from the pain.
"Don't" she screamed as he prepared to deliver yet another vicious kick. He drew back his leg one more time just as she pulled her weapon and chambered a round, "I will kill you," he turned to take the kick in her direction in an attempt to take the gun from her.
The momentary lapse in his attention gave Michael the needed moment to deliver a kick to the back of his knee snapping the bone like a twig. "Argh.," he screamed as he dropped heavily to the mat beside Michael. "You broke my legs, you broke my damn leg," he was crying now as he cradled the clearly broken leg in his hands.
"You should have stopped when I was down." Michael's voice was in a near inaudible whisper as Nikita holstered her weapon and dropped to the floor beside him
"Are you okay?" she gently cradled his head but inadvertently made contact with the knot now steadily growing where the other man's foot had made contact.
"Ouch, it..." he couldn't finish because the room kept spinning, "I think I have a concussion." He lay back against the warmth of her lap. "You'd better call medical for him," he pointed to where the operative was heaped holding the painfully shattered leg.
"I should've killed you," the operative sneered as he hugged the leg.
"And I would have killed you right after that," came the booming voice of Davenport who now stood where only moments before Nikita had been perched.
Both men were taken to Medical and Michael did indeed have a concussion. "What about Bandyk?" she was referring to the operative who had been fighting with Michael.
"He's been canceled." Davenport answered matter of fact.
"Canceled? Why?" She looked from Michael who was still lapsing in and out of consciousness.
"He was from Abeyance anyway," came the whispered voice.
"We're down two operatives now," she played with a tendril of hair that had fallen from the ponytail she had put her hair back into.
"Two?" Michael might have been groggy but nothing slipped by him. "Who?" He looked at Nikita then to Davenport.
"Rita, she hasn't been canceled yet but," she started to explain. "She's a plant," she felt as if she had let him down. "How do we know?" she had the profile on her. "She was working for Madeline."
Davenport nodded to confirm her story. "How long?" they both shrugged "I wanted to find that out, that's why I came looking for you when I did, to see how you wanted to handle this?" she looked uncertain and Michael sensed that.
"You have to handle this yourself Nikita." he closed his eyes for the longest moment.
"Michael?" she whispered, "I can't do this alone" she longed to kiss him but restrained herself with Davenport in the room. "You have to" he whispered. Davenport sensed the need for them to be alone and quietly left the room. "Michael what do I do?" she leaned gently on his chest and stared into his emerald eyes.
"You need to know what she's told Madeline" he reached out a hand to play with the bare skin of her shoulder. "Then you need to cancel her," he sighed as she moved closer.
"Michael how are we going to do this? How can we possibly pull this off?" she lay her head on his chest as his hand traced gentle circles on her shoulder.
"We have to Nikita, failing is not an option," she knew he was right and that she should be going to handle this situation but she also couldn't break the moment between them.
"No matter what Michael, I'll always love you," she snuggled more tightly to his chest and felt his arms close around her.
"I know," with that she lightly kissed him on the lips, turned to leave, thought better of it and came back to plant a more passionate kiss where her tender butterfly kiss had been placed only a moment before. Only then did she leave the room to handle their problem.