She was sitting in a dark doorway, kind of scrunched into a ball. Arms wrapped tightly around her knees her face buried and covered by the long blonde mane.

Davenport had returned to the White Room and having found Rita's body still strapped in the chair, he had questioned several people about Nikita's whereabouts and still couldn't find her until now. She looked like a little girl as he slowly approached then squatted down next to her. "Nikita are you all right?" he gently reached out a hand but she pulled back not making any other sign to acknowledge him. "I know it's hard Nikita but you knew it had to be done" his voice was lowered to its most soothing.

"I know" she sobbed uncontrollably "I know" she repeated and her shoulders heaved as she bawled her eyes out. "It's just that..." but she didn't finish.

"I'll be right back" he stood up and hurried down the corridor, this was going to have to be handled by Michael. He seemed to be the only one who clearly understood Nikita now.

Michael was asleep, still recovering from the concussion that Bandyk had inflicted when Davenport finally got to Medical. "Hey Michael wake up," he gently tapped his arm and his eyes shot open.

"What? What's up?" he attempted to sit but was still having a fight with clearing his vision. "What's wrong?" he saw a look about Davenport.

"It's Nikita," he waited for Michael to focus.

"Nikita? What's wrong with Nikita?" he quickly looked around him lest he should find her on one of the other gurneys in the room.

"She's okay, well not okay," he sat forward and whispered "She interrogated Rita about working for Madeline" he leaned on the gurney beside Michael's hip.

"And?" he didn't get it.

"She had to cancel her." Michael nodded knowing that they had discussed all of this.

"I know" his curt answer angered Davenport.

"She's having a hard time of it, apparently it was pretty messy in there, she never even called Housekeeping." he wanted Michael to get to her now while everything was new and raw.

"Where is she?" he reached up and pulled on the white tee shirt that had been folded on the table beside his bed.

"She's on level three in a doorway."

"Doorway?" Michael started to finally understand that Davenport didn't want to really go into details. "Fine, I'll handle this myself," he got up a bit unsteady but made his way from Medical under the glaring disapproving look of the Doctor in charge.

"He's needed elsewhere." Davenport made the excuses as they left the room. "I'd better see to the body." he quickly dismissed himself and let Michael go to Nikita.

She was as Davenport had left her, still crouched in a ball, still crying and sniffling. "Nikita" he reached her, squatted beside her and held out his hand "Come with me" he wrapped his hand around her wrist and led her away from the doorway.

"Michael" she sobbed then wrapped her arms around his neck.

"I know, Davenport told me," he didn't want her to have to relive the scenes unless she chose to.

"It was awful, she begged me to finish the job." she started babbling.

"You did what you had to." he kissed her lightly on the neck "We all do." he had tried over the years to tell her this again and again. "Most of what we do, we do for Section, it's not free choice." he tenderly held her tightly against him as they made their way back to his quarters.

"But she was innocent."

He pulled back "She wasn't working for Madeline?"

She nodded "She was but Madeline lied to her," she tried to explain.

"Madeline lies to all of us" he pointed out the obvious.

"She told her she'd get her out of Section," she continued but Michael countered each excuse.

"Nikita, from day one you are told over and over again that no one leaves Section, not alive anyway," he put his hands on both sides of her face to force eye contact "Right?" she nodded again. "She should have known that," he was not trying to soften this, she had to understand that they were all forced to do things they didn't want to do.

"They used her family," she thought she saw him wince "I'm sorry Michael." She quickly apologized when she realized the pain she might have caused him.

"It's typical of Section" was his straightforward statement. "If she was working for Madeline she was a liability to us, you know that" she stared at him and he found himself lost in the ocean blue orbs before him. "I know it hurts Nikita, I know you didn't want to take someone's life for doing their job but we can't take chances right now" she knew he was right but her nerves where raw.

"I know but..."

He shook his head "It's done, you can't change it, this was something you had to handle by yourself and I am sorry I couldn't take it from you but" he knew he didn't need to finish, she had full clarity on the need to do what she had done. "Come with me," he led the way to his quarters, opened the door and pushed her inside. "For a long time you looked at me with disgust whenever I told you that we do what we have to just to survive" he grabbed her head in his hands. "Now you know, it's not what I would choose for either of us" he brought his lips down to hers and she felt him take her breath away. "You know that I never meant to hurt you any of the times I was forced to right?" she nodded and his lips were pressed once again to hers. "I never meant to use you," he continued the onslaught of her mouth. "You understand that Section does this to all of us right?" she was confused as to why he was suddenly telling her everything she already knew.

"Michael, why?" she wanted to know but he didn't understand the question.

"Because Section," he started but she quickly stopped him. "No, I mean, why are you telling me this now?" she pulled back but kept her hands on his.

"Because you have to know, no matter what I do that I love you and that no matter what you have to do I will love you." he kissed her hard once more. "I need to know that you feel the same about me?" the desperation in his voice scared her.

"You know I do" she whispered.

"Then tell me, tell me you love me, tell me you always will no matter what" he was scaring her more with each kiss.

"Michael, you know I love you and I always will but what is this all about," she pulled away giving him a moment to consider his answer.

"I have to know, just in case," but he wouldn't tell her in case of what...



Later in the evening after Nikita had finally fallen asleep in his bed, Michael sat reading the newspaper. It was a foreign feeling to him since Section did their best to keep anything outside from them unless it had to do directly with a mission. Oh, they caught the news now and then but Section usually kept them so busy that the little free time they were allotted was hardly ever spent indoors near a television or reading a paper. Michael heard a gentle tapping on the door and quickly rose to answer it.

"Hi." Elena poked her head inside. "Davenport told me about Nikita and I just came to see if she was okay?" she looked around the living quarters and summed up that Nikita was either back in her own suite or probably in Michael's bed. It took her by surprise that this didn't seem to really bother her now. She knew from watching them together in stolen moments that they truly belonged to each other and she was now just a part of his past.

"I guess she's sleeping," she shrugged but Michael opened the door wider and invited her in.

"You can visit with me if you would like?" he smiled to reassure her that she was more than welcome.

"I'm not keeping you from anything am I?" she didn't mean for it to sound like it did and they both laughed. "I mean the news or the paper" she indicated the folded mass on the sofa.

"No, it all runs together when you realize that they only tell half truths," he turned to close the door behind her then invited her into the kitchen area. "How about a cup of tea or something?" he flipped a light switch over the sink and went about fixing them two cup.

"She took all this kind of hard huh?" she sat down and unwrapped two tea bags.

"She has a soft spot for innocents," his back was turned as he boiled water. "But this had to be done." He turned to finally pour them both cups of the bubbling liquid.

"Did she have to be the one?" Elena still didn't understand fully just why the did what they did.

"Unfortunately yes, she's in charge of the other women and she has to at least appear to be in control at all times," he sat beside her and slowly stirred the tea.

"Is that how it is with you Michael?" she studied the confused look that showed on his face. "Always just appearing to be in control?" she wanted to know from him that losing her and Adam had effected him as Nikita had told her.

"There was a time when I wasn't" he didn't know how much she knew about the time before.

"And now?" she touched his hand but the warmth she once felt wasn't there at least not for her.

"I have no choice, it hurts less," he turned to dump the cup into the sink having never actually touched his. "It's getting kind of late." he stood there and she realized that she had opened up a still tender wound.

"I'm sorry Michael," she stood up and came to stand in front of him. "I just needed to know that it mattered to you when," but she didn't finish, instead she stood on tip toe and gently kissed his cheek "I guess I have my answer," and with that she was gone.

Michael stood in the same spot for a long while thinking about the two woman that now shared his life. His heart belonged to Nikita lock, stock and barrel yet Elena was the mother of his child and he wasn't ready to lose them again. He wondered how he would manage to balance the three most important things in the world to him right now. He also worried about his ability to protect them all. Given any opportunity, he was well aware that Section would gladly use them to destroy him once and for all. He only hoped that he would be able to take Madeline alive and use her in a trade, Elena and Adam in exchange for her life. He hoped Nikita would understand that as much as he would gladly have allowed her or any of the operatives to simply cancel Madeline, the stakes had been raised and she was now their trump card.

Nikita rolled over and her arm came across the empty space where Michael had been before she had fallen asleep. "Michael?" she sat up feeling stuffy and exhausted from the past day. "Michael?" she got up and wrapped a robe around her before going to see if she could find him. He was sleeping on the sofa, apparently having fallen asleep while reading the paper. She quietly sat in the overstuffed chair directly across from him and studied the features of the man she knew she would gladly die for. His hair was a mess but endearingly so and she loved the long lashes that covered the emerald jewels underneath. His chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm and she knew that he was for once sound asleep so she simply sat there watching him.

Once in a while his face would twitch or his hand and she wondered what it was that Michael dreamed about. She had been there the better part of two hours when something must have invaded his dreams and his eyes shot open full of surprise.

"Nikita?" he reached up and wearily rubbed both with balled up fists. "What? I must have dozed off" he looked guilty for having been seen like this. "What are you doing?" he sat there watching a smile play across her lips. "What?" he leaned forward.

"I was watching you sleep," she admitted. "You were dreaming." she stated matter of fact.

"Yes," he nodded.

"About what?" she saw a pained expression that vanished as quickly as it came.

"I don't remember" he lied. She knew it and he immediately realized that she did but he couldn't tell her that it was an unpleasant dream that had invaded his thoughts. "Let's go to bed" he stood up and extended his hand but when she didn't reach out to take his, he reached down, captured her hand in his and yanked her off the chair "Come on, I'm tired" and he led her to the bedroom.



Once again Operations came into Section and found a note telling him that he was being summoned to Oversight. He paced for the better part of an hour before responding to the notice. He was no closer to finding Madeline, he knew this because his team had contacted Birkoff to tell him that somehow one woman had managed to slip by an entire team of highly trained operatives.

The unexplainable incident had left Operations in more than a foul mood. He had in fact demanded that each and every operative on the mission be placed in Abeyance with the serious threat that if they didn't have this resolved and somehow manage to locate her once more, they would find themselves being canceled. "Every last one of them!" had been his final demand before he left a speechless Birkoff to relay the message.

"But..." he had stammered and Operations slowly turned toward him "Do you have a problem with this Mr. Birkoff?" his voice hissed out like a cobra about to strike. "Nnno," he stuttered shaking his head and breaking the eye contact he knew Operations might take for a challenge "Then I suspect you had better pass on my message Now!" and he quickly strode to the perch and made his personal call to George.

George was waiting for the call, he had installed a shadow team that had informed him identically to Operations that they had been eluded by Madeline and that she was no longer alone. They were unable to trace her calls that she had spent the better part of an entire day and George knew that she had prepared well for this. "Can someone tell me how one woman managed to slip through your hands?" he questioned the team leader who had returned with his tail between his legs. "Sir, one minute she was there, the next she was gone," he had no clear-cut explanation and knew that George would probably not go easy on him. "What happened? Did the ENTIRE team go out for pizza?" he played a cat and mouse game with the Operative as he watched the very nervous man shifting from one foot to the next.

"No sir." He couldn't make eye contact. "We were working in shifts, there'd been little activity the entire day and..." he started but knew it sounded hollow. "And you, none of you were paying attention when she what? Drove away?" he wanted answers that he was obviously not going to get. "Perhaps Section One's team knows something?" he knew that it certainly sounded unprofessional that this team which was supposedly more highly trained than Section's had managed to fail Oversight.

"I take full responsibility for this," he stated the obvious "I only ask that you punish me and not the team?" he knew he was treading on thin ice with such a blatant request. "Do you?" George stood up and came around the desk. "And what pray tell makes you think I would honor such a request?" he stood directly in the operative's view.

"I don't know if you will but I'm begging with my own life that you spare the others?" he faced the man that would ultimately be responsible for either his survival or demise.

"An honorable man if not an absolute idiot." George cracked what appeared to be a smile. "I would suggest that you return to your team and make it quite clear that I expect this mess to be cleaned up immediately, is that understood?" he sat back behind the wide oak desk and watched as the man relaxed for the first time since being called in.

"Yes, sir, and thank you," he turned to leave. "Don't be to premature in your gratitude Mr. Westmen," and with that he dismissed the operative with a simple wave of his hand then sat back waiting for his next victim which should be Paul if he chose not to ignore the summons.

Operations chose not to acknowledge the summons with a reply but to simply show up at Oversight without his usual entourage. George's secretary Ms. Witherspoon barely had time to grant him entrance when he stormed through the door leading directly to George's chambers.

"You wanted to see me once again George?" the obvious irritation in his voice couldn't be mistaken by either of them. "I'm sorry sir," she was directly behind Operations. "He just showed up," she looked nervous and highly upset at the sudden intrusion. "No problem, I called him here myself," she nodded then left the two staring at each other. George motioned to a seat directly across from himself yet Operations refused to sit but instead stood defiantly with his arms crossed. "I don't have time for this George, Section is extremely busy right now!" his impatience was evident.

"I would imagine," he chuckled. "Trying to figure out how you've managed to lose Madeline?" he saw Operations blanch. "Did you think I wouldn't know?" he tapped the desktop with his pen and waited for an explanation. "We haven't lost her," he lied hoping to buy time. "Really?" he cocked his head "You can produce her if I request you to do so?" Operations nodded. "I could if I wanted but I believe that there is more to this than meets the eye and we're waiting for the right moment to bring her in." He kept the reasons vague. "The right moment?" he slowly rose from the chair. "And what is there to this that makes you hesitant to bring her in?" he wanted to see Paul dig himself out of this one.

"We believe that Madeline might be in contact with someone from Red Cell and I'd like the opportunity to see if she's turned" he was giving plausible explanations hoping George might just buy it. "How long?" he decided to give Operations a chance to rectify this situation and also knew that if he'd showed his hand and let Operations know that he was aware of the entire situation he'd have to admit to his shadow team and their having also lost Madeline.

Operations left a short while later and still there was no deadline with the exception of George reiterating that he wanted this matter closed as quickly as possible. The fact that George had put up little resistance to his not having a definitive timeline told Operations that there was something the older man was hiding. When he returned to Section, he called Birkoff up to he loft and told him so.

"Sir?" he slowly entered the one room of Section he feared as much as the White Room. "You wanted to see me?" he saw that Operations appeared unsettled but was not in the foul mood he had been in when he had left.

"Birkoff, I just came back from a meeting with George" he smiled which caught Seymour off guard. "I need you to find out what Oversight is up to," he stretched his back and shed his suit jacket. "What do you mean?" he needed more than that to go on. "Up till now, George has been breathing down our necks to get to Madeline but today he was pressing the issue as much" he sounded almost cocky. "He's up to something Birkoff and you need to find out what," he continued to pace the office.

"Where do I start?" Birkoff knew that he alone would be able to break Oversights codes and download whatever they might have loaded on panels. "Find out if he is running any missions," he tapped his chin. "A shadow team sir?" Birkoff felt like he was reading his mind. "Good guess Birkoff, now find out if he is and what they know." and he found himself dismissed.

It would take the better part of the day but after piggy backing onto Oversights message to Operations, Birkoff was able to back track and get into Oversight's mission base. There he found what he was looking for and with a grin returned to Operations. "Not only was there a shadow team but apparently they've dropped the ball," he laughed. Operations looked elated....