Walter continued sitting across from Madeline refusing to break eye contact even when he noticed a slight glistening to her forehead. "I should think Walter, that after the trouble you got into for helping Michael and Nikita, you would be the last person wanting to get involved in what is going on.... Well, what I mean..." she stammered. "If something were going on." She tried to make it a question but soon realized that once again she had slipped up 'Smart Madeline, real smart, get another one going against you' she squeezed her hands together to hide the conflict that she was fighting deep inside herself.
Walter rubbed his hands down the knees of his jeans. "Just thought I could help Madeline." he stood, took a step closer to her desk. "I might be older Madeline, but I'm a kid at heart and I personally think Michael and Nikita should be together, for what it is worth." he spun on his heels and left her office. Madeline sat back and re-examined the wound on her leg. The blood had dried along with the torn mesh of her pantyhose and she knew if she tried to remove them at that moment, the bleeding would start again.
Operations was pacing the observation deck like a caged tiger waiting for some unsuspecting prey to appear before him. He didn't have long to wait when he looked down and noticed Madeline crossing the Communications room. "Madeline, my office now!" he bellowed into the intercom. She turned, gave that have smile that had begun to irritate even Paul, nodded then turned to make her way up the stairs. As she entered the room, she noticed that once again Operations' eyes were red and very tired, his skin almost a translucent pale against the stark white hair and he obviously hadn't shaved in a few day.
"What can I do for you Paul?" she tried to keep her voice sweet but deep inside she wanted to ask him just what the hell he was doing hanging her out to dry all alone. "Just where the hell is the report on Nikita?" his words carried a sting of venom that made her step back toward the doorway.
"I...er...there, I'm sorry Paul, really I am but I haven't been able to findÖ I mean, there is nothing new to report...." she took another step back.
"What you're telling me Madeline is that you can't undo the adjustment?" He stepped toward her "Is that what you are telling me, cause God help you...that had better NOT be what you are saying" he continued closing the distance. When he was about a foot from her he hissed "That is not what you're telling me is it MADELINE!" The last word made her tremble.
"There has to be a way we...." MISTAKE the alarm went off in her head the moment she saw Operations' face twist into that of a very angry, very dangerous man.
"WE MADELINE?" His voice rose with each word "WE?" he moved closer "NO MADELINE This is ALL your doing and God help you if Michael finds out" Madeline brought her eyes to meet his just as she raised her hand and brought it firmly against the side of his face "IF? IF Michael finds out.... Damn you Paul...you hung me out to dry, all by myself!" She brought her hands to her face quickly regretting the fact that she was losing control "How could you? How could you do that to me after all I have done for you, for Section?" She felt the hot sting of tears welling up in her eyes. "How could you knowing Michael will want me cancelled?" She wiped away the first tears.
Operations turned his back on her, made his way across the room and called for Security. When they arrived he nodded toward Madeline "Take her to the White Room" he brought his hand up to cover the red mark glowing. With that he turned away and brought his attention to the audience standing below.
"Would you all like to get back to your jobs?" He shouted. Quickly everyone dispersed.
The two members of Security had their hands firmly wrapped around Madelines' much smaller wrists. "Just come with us Madeline" they struggled to move her out the doorway of the Observation deck. "NOOOO! I won't go with you, let me go...Do you hear me? I swear I'll have you cancelled for this!" she twisted and turned catching each member off guard. Not letting the chance to escape pass her by, she flew down the stairway and quickly ran through communications. Operations smiled to himself knowing the panic and shear terror that Madeline must be feeling right now, but he didn't really care. He just knew that he had to do something to keep Michael calm and in line.
Security chased her through the halls and tunnels for well over an hour, but having been present at some of the building of Section, Madeline was able to elude them by hiding inside a makeshift tunnel that ran under some of the corridors. After catching her breath and brushing her clothing free of dust and cobwebs, Madeline needed time to figure out what she was going to do next. She knew that it wouldn't take long for someone, maybe even Michael to find her if she remained within Section. She also knew that she would have to find a way to hide herself if she went to the outside world. She was grateful to herself for having had the foresight to have Id's, Bank and Charge cards and various papers drawn up in several aliases just incase she might need them. 'At least I have money and the necessary documents to leave the country' she thought to herself 'but where will I go?' she made her way to the exit of Section that she was sure Operations thought he had sealed long ago. Thank goodness it was still there. After struggling with the door for a few moments, she was once again out of breath but feeling a little better that she had escaped with her life.
The weather outside was colder than when she had come in this morning. 'Too bad I didn't get to grab a coat' she chuckled to herself, more to calm down then actually meaning it. She wanted to grab a taxi but knew that she didn't have a single penny on her and would have to get to the place she had hidden all the needed things that would make it easier for her to survive. About 15 blocks from Section the rain started coming down first in gentle wisps that laid a sheen of damp over her then quickly turning into a torrent of water. Madeline had another 20 or so blocks before she got to her destination. By the time she got there, her feet were sore and swollen from running and walking in high-heeled shoes. Her hair lay plastered against her skull like some melted football helmet, her mascara dripped huge black trails down each of her cheeks and her teeth hurt from chattering in the cold.
"Paul, I swear if I ever get back to Section, I will have your head" she seethed as she carefully checked around her, slipped into the darkened back alleyway and maneuvered a couple garbage cans under the rusting hulk of a fire escape. Using all her strength, she hoisted herself on top of the cans, reached up and pulled the giant structure of metal down to where she could easily climb to the third floor window. One of the panes of glass on the old window had been shattered in the perfect circle of a baseball, but otherwise the dirt and wood showed no signs of anyone having been here in quite a while. Madeline rattled the window frame and was rewarded by the window moving inward allowing her access to the building. Slipping through the opening, she gently lowered herself to the ground, brushed herself off as best she could and silently pushed the window back in place.
The apartment was just as it had been the last time she had been here. To many years ago it had been a 'safe' house for her that Section never knew about. Slipping off the wet clothes stuck to her shivering skin, Madeline looked around the room for anything that might be useful in building herself a fire in the stone fireplace that sat dark and unused across the room. She hoped it was still in working condition as she gathered up newspaper, magazines and any other useless paper she could fine. Kneeling next to the sleeping giant, she was relieved to see several cords of firewood still tucked in the wood box along the side of the big brick fireplace. Reaching on the mantle she found a box of Matches that she hoped time had not dampened and made useless. After arranging the wood and papers, Madeline used two of the seven matches to get the fire started and made a mental note to get more wood and another box of matches when she went out.
As the fire roared to life, the flames illuminated the room that had long ago been devoid of any light. The furniture was a mixture of pieces hastily bought from area junk shops just to have places to sit. The couch was a patchwork of greens, oranges and browns. The loveseat a long ago mixture of grays and dirt and the two matching side chairs each a lovely shade of avocado green. It didn't really matter to Madeline, she knew that she would never be safe anywhere in the vicinity of Section...
Michael made his way back to Medlab to do one of the usual daily check-ups on Nikita. This would be the seventh time today. Nikita had been moved to a private 'suite' if you could call it that. She had been placed on what to the unknowing eye would appear to be a near normal bed, no longer were tubes coming out of various places except for the IV that kept her hydrated and nourished. Someone had taken the time to wash and dry her beautiful blonde mane and it lay feathered out around her head like a golden halo. The cuts and bruises had long ago faded and finally healed and she reminded Michael of Sleeping Beauty.
Michael pulled up the chair that had been left in the room. One of the technicians had seen him trying to nap while sitting on the end of her bed and had made sure each morning to check that the chair had not been removed. He walked to the side of her bed, leaned in close kissing her gently on the lips. Today he was rewarded by a soft moan and a momentary pursing of her lips as if in response to his kiss, so he tried it again and once more the same thing happened. "Nikita?" he whispered "Can you hear me?" She turned her head to him, smiled but did not open her eyes.
"Hmmmmmmm" she smiled again. Michael gently put his hand under her neck and turned her head to him, lifting it ever so gently from the pillow "Can you open your eyes sweetheart?" he didn't care if anyone heard the terms of endearment he had begun using every time he came to visit. She slowly nodded, made the attempt, but she just wasn't strong enough so she tried to shake her head and tell him no. When that didn't work, she tried to verbally tell him but all she could manage was a hoarse and raspy "Noooo, too tired!" "That's okay Nikita, don't try to talk" he reached across the cabinet next to her bed and poured a glass of water, not to much since he didn't want to spill it on her.
"Try taking a drink, your throat is probably sore from the tubes" he leaned the cup to her lips and slowly tilted it until the tiniest droplet of water met with her dry parched lips. "Careful, just a small drink" he removed the cup when Nikita stopped drinking. "Tired, I'm sooo tired" she whispered her voice a little clearer from the water.
"You get some rest Nikita, I will be back" he gently replaced her head on the pillow, careful to straighten her hair so it didn't pull.
"Michael...." she whispered. "What is it Nikita?" he moved his face inches to hers... "What happened?" she finally managed to open her eyes to mere slits..."Where am I?" She tried to look around but the effort was to great and her body slumped back into the mattress.
"You are in Section Medlab, you were hurt on our last mission." He sat beside her. "You almost... died." the last word came out as a mere whisper.
"And Madeline?" She turned her face to Michael and the puzzled look on her face made the anger that Michael had been carrying come to the surface "Madeline wasn't on the mission" he tried to keep his tone of voice devoid of his true feelings. "Yes she was...she was waiting for me... in the upstairs room..." Nikitaísí voice was coming back and Michael could hear the confusion in it. "She said she was going to do something..." she looked sadly into his face "What? What did she do to me Michael?" She reached out and touched his hand as he turned his head. "Michael? Did she do something to you too?" She tried again to lift herself off the bed but he quickly placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Don't try to get up...don't push yourself." he drew soft little circles on her shoulder.
"Please Michael, I need to now? What did she do to us?" She waited, brought her hand up to place it over Michaelís' still moving fingers. Slowly she wrapped her fingers around his hand and removed it from her shoulder, bringing it to her lips. Like a feather, she brushed her lips against the back of his hand, turned it over and laid another feather light kiss in the palm.
"Don't.... Nikita." he looked so pained. "There are things you need to know and I don't have all the answers." But Nikita would not free his hand. "Then tell me." she kissed his hand again. "Madeline did do something to you... she made you forget...." he felt the tears welling in hot pools before cascading freely down his face. "Forget what? Forget.....???" She looked confused again.
"Me... Us...." he stammered between sobs. Michael hadn't cried since telling her how much and for how long he had loved her. Since that time, he had made his visits., always whispering his love to her as he had sworn he would do everyday. But to anyone else it was always Machine Michael that they had seen. "How?" Nikita tried to shift to her side but again, the weeks of lying motionless had taken their toll on once highly trained muscles and she felt like jelly.
"Why?" She still didn't understand. "She didn't want us to be together....." he sniffled and brought a hand to his face to wipe back the tears. "We were together...." it was a statement... not a question but a statement of fact coming from Nikita... suddenly there was a look in her eyes that Michael wasn't sure how to read...
"Did you love me Michael?" She closed her eyes, remembering something... Michael brought her hand up, her palm to his and gently scratched his nails in a path from fingertips to wrist and back again then gently turned his hand over hers caressing it top to bottom over and over then just as suddenly as he had started, he stopped. "Don't stop Michael..." she smiled..."I always liked when you did that..." she waited to see his response. Michael slowly raised his head.... Seafoam green eyes that glistened with tears met ocean blue ones that were filled with such emotion.
"You... you... always? Always liked that?" He whispered, afraid to lose the moment. Nikita nodded. "You remember me caressing your hands?" He waited, silently holding each breath. When Nikita didn't answer at first, Michael felt like his heart would break but he slowly stood up and turned away. "Don't you love me.... anymore?" Nikita slowly asked.
Michael lifted his head, back still turned to her. "Michael?" Nikita reached out and only her fingertips managed to make contact with his back "Michael, please answer me.... Donít you love me anymore?" Michael turned...the tears once again streaming down his face. "Nikita" he sobbed "I never stopped!".
Nikita continued to recover, all without the knowledge of Operations. Dr. Nelson had as promised kept the fact that she had finally regained consciousness between himself, Michael and only a trusted handful of techs that he knew would not want to deal with Michael if the truth leaked out.
Michael was only slightly happy that Nikita seemed to have regained part of her memory. But Nikita was becoming more and more frustrated by the realization that she really didn't know if she remembered being in love with Michael. or had simply fallen for him because she knew he had risked everything to save heO life and was taken by how kind and loving he was to her. The moodiness wasn't lost on Michael, he had noticed little things about her that brought his attention to the fact that she could recall small things but some of her emotions were either guarded from being lost or simply weren't there. Either way, Michael would have to do something soon. He knew that keeping Nikitaís' condition from Operations wasn't going to be possible for very much longer but he had been unable to find Madeline for the last couple days.
Walter promised Michael that he would do his damnedest to find out where Madeline had hidden herself and with the help of Birkoff, it didn't take him long. Whispers of Madelines attempted Cancellation and subsequent escape was swiftly making the rounds of the various security teams. The fact that Operations had not cancelled the two Security guards that had failed them made Walter wonder if her 'escape' hadn't been planned but he kept that info to himself. After making sure that all the weapons were accounted for, Walter pulled the metal gate down behind him, checked to make sure it was securely in place and headed off to Medlab.
Michael was sitting on Nikita's bed when he entered her 'room'. "Hey Sugar, glad to see you up and about" he smiled, patted Michael on the shoulder and came around to give her a kiss on the cheek. Michael hesitated about telling anyone else that Nikita was awake but realized just how much Birkoff and Walter were risking by helping them recover any information about Nikitaís' adjustment. "You look so much better, colors even coming back to those cheeks" he ran his thumb against her cheeks and brought a smile to her face.
"Walter? Why do you call me Sugar?" She looked so innocent but the question only confirmed that Nikita had not fully recovered her memory.
"Long story..." he said, trying to hide the fact he knew. Michael and he exchanged quick glances..."Um, Michael, I needed to speak to you... privately...for only a minute... Sugar." he motioned to the door. Michael touched Nikita's hand, smiled and told her he would be right back, got up and followed Walter out of Medlab.
"What is it Walter?" he leaned in closer to the older man, not wanting any unwanted ears overhearing their conversation. "It's about Madeline" he looked into the younger mans' eyes "She was supposed to be cancelled!" was his simple statement. Michaelís' eyes shot back to Walter's face.
"Supposed to be?" he realized his voice had raised "What do you mean? Supposed to be? And by whose orders?"
"Operations! He called Security to take her to the White Room, but she managed to escape." he knew the young Operative would be interested. "No one knows where she is" "Walter, find out anything else you can, either she had this planned, Operations is in on this... or she had help" He patted Walters should "And thanks!" he smiled, turned and went back to Nikita.