"I don't give a damn what the doctor is going to say, take these off of me Birkoff!' he sounded so irate that Seymour hesitated. "Now!" he started struggling against the heavy restraints.

"Shhh, Walter stop it, if he hears you carrying on like this they'll only sedated you again," he was trying his best to speak in hushed tones.

"I want these things off of me now!" Walter was thrashing about trying to kick and pull free when the doctor came over.

"Either you calm down and then we'll see about letting you free or I'm going to instruct the nurse to sedate you once more Walter do you understand me?" he slowly lowered his glasses to the tip of his nose. "I'm not having you kill Operations on my shift," he smiled but Walter missed it.

"I want these off!" he held up his wrist best he could, like the doctor hadn't seen the restraints to begin with. "Walter, if you calm down I will personally remove them" he jotted notes on his clipboard. "I want them off!" his tone was still harsh, loud and demanding.

"Nurse, bring me 10 cc's for this man," he motioned to Walter.

"What? No! I don't want to be sedated!" Walter began thrashing even more so. "Don't let them do this Birkoff, please?" his voice was pleading and Birkoff turned to the Doctor who silently motioned that he had no intention of sedating Walter if he didn't have to.

"Walter you have to calm down" Birkoff went along with it. "Doctor do you have to do this?" he played his part well.

"I'm afraid so Mr. Birkoff, if Walter can't control himself, I certainly can't let him hurt himself or anyone else" he began pulling up Walter's sleeve and cleaning an injection sight.

"Please don't?" the voice was finally calmer and more quiet than it had been. "I promise I'll be, I won't be any trouble" he didn't even pull away as the nurse handed the syringe to the doctor.

"You'll give me your word?" he held the syringe near to Walter's arm. "I promise I won't cause you anymore concern just don't put me under again?" his eyes always gave him away and the doctor acquiesced and left them alone only to return, remove the restraints as promised and then discharged Walter. "Just stay away from Operations?" he asked knowing that Walter wasn't going to respond.

As they left Medlab, Walter leaned against Birkoff still being slightly unsteady from the previous sedation. "Tell me about Belinda?" his eyes pleaded with his friend.

"All I know is that Madeline kept her and nine other Abeyance operatives alive after they were reported lost on missions," he whispered as they continued to Munitions.

"Does Operations know?" he reached in his pocket then realized that he hadn't been the one who locked up.

Birkoff noticed the momentary confusion, then when he realized what Walter was looking for, pulled his own keycard out ran it through the scanner and then entered the darkened room. "No, Michael said that Belinda filled them in on whatever she knew," he smiled "So they've talked to her?" but the smiles suddenly vanished.

"What if Madeline knows she's talking to them? It would put her in grave danger," his mind was racing. "Michael has to get her out, after everything I've done for him he has to get her away from Madeline, away from Section" his voice suddenly filled with despair "Away from me" his heart sunk. Birkoff didn't know if he should tell Birkoff that Belinda wanted to be back in Section just to be with him but decided that his friend needed some hope.

"She's not leaving you Walter, not if she can help it," he helped his friend to a stool then stood beside him. "What?" What are you talking about?" he looked stunned. "Belinda told Michael and Nikita that she'd help them in exchange for being able to return to you" Walter began shaking his head. "No, no, I love her Seymour but I don't want her subjected to the games Section plays anymore." Birkoff saw no sense in arguing the point.



Operations began to stir. Something or someone was holding his wrist and he couldn't quite comprehend why it was almost impossible for him to swallow. His jaws ached from being held open by the esophageal airway tube that had been breathing for him up until now. Even his neck seemed unusually tender. It was with great difficulty that he even managed to get his eyelids to open only to have white blaring lights shining down on him. He blinked and tried to focus on whomever had his hand in theirs.

"Glad to see you're back among us Sir," the nurse, a rather nice looking specimen at that, was standing beside his bed taking his pulse. Operations motioned to the tube that his free hand had finally found connected to his face. "I'll have to ask the doctor if I can remove it," she turned to walk away but he tightened his grasp on her hand. "You won't be able to talk very well even after I remove it." She smiled warmly then started gently peeling the adhesive tape from around his mouth.

"You're going to have a very sore throat," she kept up the conversation as the last remaining pieces were pulled free. "Now take a deep breath then blow out as soon as you feel me pulling this out okay?" he nodded. "You might even have to throw up, a lot of people do," she slowly wrapped her delicate hand on the tube. "Okay, deep breath" she leaned over and he felt a slight tug in the base of his throat. "Blow out hard now," and she quickly pulled up and out on the tube.

Operations could feel the bitterness as the urge to vomit over took him. She simply handed him a tray, waited until he had finished before handing him a glass of liquid to rinse and another tray to spit. "There, now how about a glass of water?" she handed it to him before he could reply but quickly stopped his attempt to swallow the hole glass. "You've had nothing in your stomach for nearly a week, that will only make you sick again," she wrestled the glass from his grip. "A sip at a time" she put the glass and pitcher well out of his reach.

"How long?" he whispered, his voice a mere croaking sound. "How long what?" she moved her ear closer to his lips. "How long have I been out?" she smiled. "About a week, you came in here in pretty bad shape," she began jotting notes in his chart.

"Paul, glad to see you've decided to finally wake up" the doctor smiled in a loud cheerful voice. "How are you?" but the glare he got told him Operations was far from happy.

"You tell me" the slow, deliberate voice gained some but not all of its strength.

"Well, you can always be thankful that Walter isn't a better shot" he teased. Operations slowly remembered just how he'd wound up in Medlab. "Walter, where is he now?" the doctor and nurse exchanged worried glances. "Well, he's um," he didn't know what to say.

"Birkoff took him back to his quarters after you released him," the nursed added.

"Released him? For what?" Operation's interest was peaked.

"He had some sort of breakdown," the nurse added. If she had bothered to look up at the doctor, she'd have probably kept the next statement to herself. "He was in bad shape, he even tried to strangle you." That out, she realized her mistake as soon as the lines creased Operation's forehead.

"He tried to what?" his voice was cracking each time he tried to raise it. "Why?" he looked at the doctor. Both simply stared at one another. "Why?" the doctor repeated stalling for time.

"Because you son-of-a-bitch," came Walter's voice from behind the curtain. "Because Belinda's alive and you knew it didn't you?" he lunged but was stopped by the doctor.

"Belinda?" his face blanked telling Walter that he really hadn't known. "She was killed in a mission Walter, you and I both know it," he was trying to sit upright but the wound in his shoulder prevented him from pulling himself up. "She was an Abeyance operative," the doctor raised the bed for him. "Walter, I've already apologized for that, I know you and she were married...." Walter was confused. He'd just assumed that Madeline was working under orders from Operations but now he knew she'd been working behind his back. "Are you sure she's alive?" he needed to know if she was, how?

Birkoff had left Walter in his quarters just long enough to go grab him something to eat. When he returned with a tray of food and found him missing, it didn't take long to realize that Walter had lied about being hungry and where he had headed the moment Birkoff had left him alone. "Damn you Walter, you're in enough trouble!" he dropped the tray on a table then hurried to Medlab. He found Walter, just as he'd known he would only he was talking to Operations in a controlled manner. "All I know is that I heard her over a two-way, she wouldn't confirm it but I know her voice" he sat beside the bed where Operations was sitting.

"Are you sure Walter? Are you absolutely sure it was Belinda?" he looked as puzzled as the older man.

"I know it was her," he rubbed his hands over a very weary and tired looking face.

"It was her," Birkoff interrupted the conversation.

Operations looked up. "Mr. Birkoff, you have confirmation on this?" Seymour nodded. "Whose?"

Birkoff knew that in order to prove that Walter wasn't simply flipping out, he'd have to come clean with Operations. "Michael and Nikita's" he waited knowing the second shoe was about to drop.

"Excuse me Mr. Birkoff? Michael? Nikita?" he leaned as far forward as his should wound would allow. "How the hell did you happen to get their confirmation on this, they're on Mandatory Refusal!" his voice was nearly back to its full force.

"No sir, they're not!" he crossed his palms behind his back, slowly took a spread legged stance and waited.

"For how long have they been off Mandatory Refusal?" his agitation grew.

"They were never under it sir," he swallowed hard.

Operations glared as the doctor and nurse excused themselves leaving Ops, Walter and Birkoff in a standoff.



Operations struggled to a position that would allow him to sit upright, feet hanging off the edge of the bed as he continued to glare at Walter and Birkoff. "So, all along you've been telling me they're on Mandatory Refusal?" Birkoff nodded and swallowed hard. "Would you care to elaborate on why Mr. Birkoff?" he steadied himself as the room spun and reeled.

"Michael needed time to get his operations up and running," he knew that lying now would only put everyone involved in further danger of being canceled.

"A parallel mission?" Operations was aquatinted with the idea. "Why?" he felt that he had adequately supplied Michael with enough operatives to carry out the mission he had laid out.

"Because he found out that Jurgen was in contact with Madeline and decided to use your team to keep surveillance on her while he used several of the Abeyance operatives to back him, Nikita and," he paused but Operations caught it, "Davenport?" to which Seymour could only nod.

"It figures," there was a chuckle to Operation's voice.

"Sir?" Walter was confused.

"It would figure that whatever those two were up to Davenport would be right in there with them," he recalled several times when Davenport had been issued a direct order from himself only to have it disobeyed because Michael rescinded it. "So what is Michael's game plan?" Ops pulled a sheet around himself then attempted to stand only to realize that a week of being flat on his back left his legs unable to support his weight. "Damn it!" his temper flared as he realized that he had little choice then to let Walter and Birkoff assist him to the nearest chair. "Thank you," the two operatives exchanged glances.

"Jurgen was going to kill Michael but failed," not a surprise to Operations obviously. "They contacted us to make a voice loop and apparently Madeline fell for it," Birkoff was proud of his work. "She's supposed to be setting up a meet with whom she thinks is Jurgen," Ops smiled.

"But it's really just a trap?" Walter sat on the edge of the bed, arms crossed over his chest. "Now Walter, tell me where you think Belinda fits into this" his attention was drawn to the older man. "I overheard her on a two-way calling for someone named Jeffrey but when I asked her to confirm her identity, she must have froze, she never answered me" he sounded very hurt and sad.

"You're sure it was Belinda?" he tried to be understanding after all, it was by his orders that Belinda was placed in Abeyance and by his command that she was ordered on that mission.

"It was Belinda," Birkoff interrupted, "but that's not the only thing." he waited knowing that Operations hadn't been involved in the decisions that Madeline had made behind his back. "I started digging into our data base when Walter heard the name Jeffery," he began his explanation.

"And?" Operations interest was peaked "Who is this Jeffrey character?" he couldn't possibly recall every single person that went through Section.

"He was another Abeyance Operative" Birkoff let it sink in before continuing. "Apparently from what Belinda told Michael and Nikita," he saw confusion on Operation's face. "They captured her while she was on an observation mission," he filled in the blanks before going on. "Madeline had been siphoning operatives from several No Contest missions so I don't think her escape was a spur of the moment thing," he wanted all the cards on the table.

"Do we have names? Numbers?" he wanted to know what they were facing.

"Thanks to Belinda we do," he smiled at Walter. "Speaking of which" Birkoff saw the stunned look that covered Walter's face since he had no idea where Birkoff was going with whatever he was going to say next. "Michael wants your assurance that Belinda will be welcomed back into Section and NOT as an Abeyance Operative!" he waited watching Operations calculate the cost to Section One.

"Why would she want to come back here?" he sounded lost.

"Because she loves Walter" he smiled at his friend.

"How do we know that Belinda can be trusted?" he was covering all his bases.

"Because she has nothing to gain by lying to us." Walter interjected as he leaned against the bed. "But she's taking a hell of a risk working two sides of the fence Paul!" he didn't care that Seymour seemed shocked at the first name being used. "She's saving your ass from George and she's getting your precious Madeline back," he huffed. "That should be worth her freedom from where I am standing," he was openly defiant now.

"Freedom is never an option with Section Walter, you know that!" he wasn't going to promise something he wouldn't, couldn't deliver. "I can promise that I'll allow her to return here and I won't interfere with your relationship," he would deal no further and Walter knew it but had to try.

"No more missions for her either!" he stood arrow straight in front of Operations.

"Birkoff, get him out of here" he smiled. "Walter, you'll never change," he was finding it harder to sit upright much longer.

"I mean it Paul, no more missions for her she can train, she can work with me, with Birkoff but I don't want to lose her again can you understand that?"

Operations hesitated for a moment. "Fine Walter, no more missions," he reached out a hand, a signal Walter knew meant that you had his absolute word on something. It was the only reason that Walter finally left beside Birkoff.

"I can't believe you asked him for that," Birkoff sounded stunned.

"I can't believe he agreed to it!" Walter was right behind him in amazement. "We'd better contact Michael and Nikita and let them know what is going on here," and they both walked to Birkoff's station together.