Nikita stalked through Section, barely making eye contact with the many operatives that crossed her path. Some were taken back by seeing her after the many rumors that had circulated through Section about her untimely death. That she was in a coma with irreversible brain damage...Others who did not know her, that were brought in after the failed mission where Nikita had almost been killed walked passed her without a second glance.
"Nikita?" She barely heard the familiar voice but couldn't ignore the hand that reached out and grabbed her shoulder. Quickly she spun around to meet what she assumed was an attack head on. "Nikita? What the hell?" Davenport just about squeezed the air out of her lungs as he clutched her to his rock hard chest. "Oh my, I heard you had died...or were in Medlab in a coma...." He stepped back to bring some distance between them that he might study her face. "I'm glad the rumors were unfounded" he smiled. Something about her wasn't quite... He couldn't put his finger on it but somehow there was something different about her.
"Thanks for the concern Mr.?" She looked quizzically at him. "I don't remember your name?" She stepped further back. "How do you know me?" She looked like a frightened deer. "It's me, Davenport," he replied, waiting for some recognition to show in her features "We worked together" he was becoming increasingly uneasy with the blank stare "You don't remember me?" Nikita slowly shook her head "No, I'm sorry but I don't" she tried to give him a smile "If you will excuse me..." she didn't wait for him to reply, instead she sidestepped around him and continued on her mission.
Birkoff, who had been standing in Munitions with Walter, saw her hurry across the open floor and reach the stairway to the Observation deck before he had the chance to react. "Oh no!" He pushed Walter "What the hell? What is she doing out of Medlab?" He stepped toward the doorway but quickly realized that they were too late to stop her. "Where the hell does she think she is going?" He knew where but the question slipped out. "Michael is going to kill us" was all he could think to add. Birkoff's eyes moved up to where Operations stood, reading the handheld device, scanning the results of the ongoing missions that he had requested completely unaware of Nikita’s approach.
"Just where the hell is Madeline!" She screamed as she closed the distance between them. "Why the hell is she still alive?" She now stood two feet from him. Even from the distance between the deck and Communications Walter could see Operations complete surprise and shock "Nikita?" Operations dropped the unit "I am certainly surprised to see you" he leaned against the com panel, pressing the button that would allow everyone below to hear the conversation in hopes that someone might call Security. "Madeline! Where is she?" Nikita brought the gun that had been carefully concealed in her waistband level with Operations chest. "I won't hesitate to kill you" she stepped closer
"No Nikita, I have no doubt about that" he started to perspire. "I don't have the answers you are looking for" he hoped she didn't know about being adjusted but his hopes were quickly dashed "You allowed her to escape didn't you? DIDN'T YOU????" He was shaking his head in denial. "You let her do this, this to me and you let her go?" She waved the gun between his head and chest "How could you? How could you think you would get away with this?" Her finger began to close around the trigger. "You take away EVERYTHING! Our lives, our homes, families... You play God and expect us to accept it?" she was becoming increasingly angry.
"We do what we have to do to survive." he tried to calm her down. "You don't want to do this Nikita. Think about Michael." He realized right there that his words had been a mistake.
"Michael?" she smiled, an evil, vile smile "Think about Michael?" she laughed. The sound that came from her made Operation's hair stand on end. "I CAN'T" she wailed "You took that from me!" She looked around; the once beautiful sky blue eyes like two burning embers. "You took Michael away from me. You and Madeline were sooo jealous of our love that you did something to me..." she shook her head trying to think about how she knew this. "I won't let you ruin anyone else's life" she brought the gun to his head "How does it feel?" She began circling him like a caged tiger sizing up her prey "What does it feel like to know that all those people down there wish they could be me right now?" She cocked the gun.
Operations swallowed. "Please Nikita?" He whispered as he sunk to the ground on his knees.
Operations sunk to his knees, head bowed waiting for the inevitable. The sound of the semiautomatic in Nikita's hand as she chambered a round reverberated through the intercom system. Slowly, with calculated movements, Nikita brought the barrel of the gun up against the side of Operation's head. "I won't let you ruin anymore innocent lives" she waved the gun, flicking a droplet of perspiration that had begun running in rivulets down Operations ashen face.
"What is it you want Nikita?" his voice trembled, half from fear and half from disgust at being placed in such a precarious position of almost groveling for his very life in front of the mass of operatives gathered below.
"I wanted my freedom. You told me you would make that possible, BUT you lied," she snickered. "You gave me moments with Michael on impossible missions only to snatch them away" she began circling him again. "You have people spy on us, you put cameras in our homes, you hurt people, you use people and you kill them all in the name of what? Justice? Making the world a better place?" She half laughed half-sneered. "Adrian was right."
With that Operation's head shot up. The look he gave Nikita sent a shiver down her spine but the fear quickly disappeared as she realized that if she didn't carry out her plan, she would face being cancelled anyway. "Yes PAUL, Adrian was right!" She repeated, louder still that everyone below might hear what she was saying. "If George knew that both you and Madeline had her... What? Retired? Cancelled?" She laughed. "You would be sitting in the white room IF you were lucky" she shouted, bringing the gun back up to his head and pulling the trigger.
Operations waited for the pain, his face scrunched tightly as if this could stop the bullet that didn't come. "Not yet," she laughed, put the gun down to her side and rested her hip against the COM panel. "I want Madeline too!" She crossed her arms.
"I can't give you Madeline," he looked up, already he looked like a broken man. "I only wish I could, but I honestly."
Nikita spun around, "Honesty?" She laughed "you don't have a clue what that word means." She smiled, an evil sneer spreading itself across her face.
"I swear to you Nikita, on my son's life that I don't know where Madeline is," he started to rise, looked at her and when she didn't forbid the movement, stood before her. "I will do whatever I can to help you find her, to undo whatever she did to you, I give you my word." He turned to face her. "That isn't much, my word that is seeing that you obviously don't trust me, but on my son's life I swear, I will help you find her." He waited.
"Don't screw with me Paul" she nodded. "Am I to believe you're going to let me walk out of here without some retaliation?" she cocked her head so that she was face to face with him. Hmmm?" she bit her upper lip, "Why should I believe that you won't have me cancelled or taken out on the next mission?" She bobbed her head as if to some unheard music.
"Because if I do, you know where and how to get to my son," his once proud shoulders drooped and suddenly Paul felt every bit of twice his age. "And I don't doubt you would kill him." he turned, his steel gray eyes locking on her sky blue ones.
"Unlike you Paul, I don't kill innocents," she whispered, turned her head to hide the tears that threatened to fall and walked out of the Observation Deck. Paul reached up and undid his tie, which had begun to have a suffocating effect on him.
Michael returned to Section after a rather productive meeting with some of his outside connections. The Intel gathering had gone much better than he had hoped and he had managed to finally pinpoint Madeline's location. Humming to himself, a luxury he hadn't allowed since having Nikita awaken from her coma, he closed the distance between Van access and Medlab only to be greeted by grim faced attendants who seemed caught off guard by Michael’s' sudden appearance.
"She's not here." the young nurse Connie informed him before he managed to open the door leading to Nikita's cubicle. The look on his face was a mixture of both confusion and dread that Operations had discovered their secret.
"What do you mean she's not here?" He spun on his heels and moved closer to the girl. "Why?" He brought his face closer to hers.
"She left." she stammered, seeing the emerald green eyes blazing with a mixture of fear and loathing she backed against the wall "She found out about Madeline being gone and went to question Operations" she didn't like the growing agitation she saw developing in the Operatives' demeanor. "I'm sorry, no one could have stopped her" she nearly tripped over her own shoes trying to add distance between herself and the man standing before her drumming his fingers impatiently at his side. "And where is she now?" But all he got was a shoulder shrug. "Dammit...this is not what I needed to hear!" He hissed, turned on his heels and left Medlab.
Walter was the first but not the only person in Communications to notice Michael stalking across the expanse of open floor space. "Birkoff, Walter, Munitions NOW!" He shouted as his blazing green eyes glanced up at the empty observation deck. Impatiently he waited for the two to arrive. "Michael, I was trying to contact you for the last couple days, we have a problem." Birkoff leaned in close trying to keep the conversation between the three of them.
"Where is Nikita?" He looked first at Walter then at Birkoff.
"Her apartment I should think," Walter mumbled knowing that Michael was having a difficult time controlling whatever was left of his sanity
"You would think?" He bowed his head so that he was face to face with the older man. "I asked you to keep an eye on her and you THINK she's at her apartment?" He waited, wishing he could control the anger seething through his very core. "How the hell did this happen?" He turned on Birkoff. "I supposed that Operations knows she's alive? Awake?" He lowered his voice as a team of operatives entered Munitions to return their gear after one of the many missions that occurred daily.
Birkoff pulled him to the farthest spot away from any prying ears "Michael, that's not the worst of it." he whispered in his ear.
"No?" Michael's raised eyebrows were only a clue to what he might be thinking "There's something worse than Operations knowing she's alive and the fact that we kept it from him?" The mocking tone was not uncharacteristic of Michael when he was trying to point out someone’s ineptitude.
"She pulled a gun on him in the observation deck, in front of all of us." Birkoff added while taking a step backward and calculating the distance between his face and Michael's fist.
"Oh my God NO!" Michael brought his hands to his face, dragging them downward, the face was that of something a schoolboy might make to scare his friends "And he hasn't cancelled her?" He waited, mouth agape.
Birkoff shook his head. "He promised, 'on his son's life' that he would neither cancel her nor kill her off on some mission." Michael took a breath but the tightness in his throat and chest persisted "He told her that he would help her find Madeline too" the younger man relaxed just a bit.
Walter returned to the conversation after having cataloged the equipment returned by the last team. "Geeze Michael, I'm sorry that this happened but she didn't tell us what she was planning." the older man reached out and touched Michael's shoulder. "She actually pulled the trigger, she had him on his knees just about begging for his life." he kind of snickered while remembering the sight of the powerful Operations head bowed, sweat pouring down his pale face. Michael didn't like this at all; he was more than sure that Operation's had something up his sleeve. No way was he going to allow one of his Operatives to threaten his life and embarrass him without finding a way to make her pay. "Where is she now?" Michael questioned both men. "I am pretty sure she went back to her place but that was two days ago" both men repeated in tandem. "Thanks" Michael patted the shoulder of the older man, took a deep breath and left Munitions.
Madeline had managed to disappear once and for all from Section. Her 'new' life in Chicago had been a mixture of wonderment of all the things she had been missing in her sheltered existence and the excitement of all the freedoms that she had been denied. She managed to arrange for a job in a brokerage firm at the Chicago Board of Trade with the help of contacts. Graham had arranged them after she finally left Germany. At first alone in the city, she was extremely careful not to stand out from the ordinary people she watched from the loft apartment, also rented by Graham in the name of Celia Bruebaker, the alias he had chosen for her.
The apartment was not luxurious by north side standards, but its' open floor design along with the wonderful view of Lake Michigan more than made up for the extravagance that might be considered missing under normal circumstances. Standing on the balcony, Madeline sipped the Green Tea that she had recently developed a taste for while watching the early morning sky brighten to a pale cascade of rainbow colors as the rising sun rose to warm the day. Wrapped in the silk brocade robe she sat in the wrought iron patio furniture and smiled to herself. Most days she simply went about her business, working the normal hours of 9 to 5 then treating herself to a movie or play. She would stop to eat at one of the many area restaurants or simply take a walk down Michigan Avenue taking in the sights and watching people. This was a habit long honed in Section and one of the few things she still fell back on.
After a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast lightly buttered and orange juice, Madeline had just enough time for a quick shower then it was off to another day at the office. Thanks to Graham, there had been little problem with her fitting in the daily grind of the brokerage firm Althorpe Commodities. And she even liked her boss Alan Greiger, a divorced father of three. Alan was about 48, a hair less than 6 feet tall with salt and pepper hair and a trim build gained through daily morning jogs through Lincoln Park and a rigid schedule of three visits per week at the East Bank Health Club. He had been kind to teach Madeline the ropes and she quickly made him realize that he simply couldn't function without him. Her job was to handle his personal appointments, field problems and keep things running in a smooth and orderly fashion. Madeline of course had no problems there; this had been something she seemed to be born to do. The only problem she seemed to have was avoiding any attachments to the other ladies in the office. Madeline had not had a female friend to confide in for a very long time and she sometimes felt the pangs of jealousy when two of more of the women got together and shared memories of the past. This was an area Madeline could ill afford to be part of and the other women began to wonder if she had something to hide or was simply standoffish. Either way, they managed to exchange pleasantries and coexist for the good of the company.
Life was certainly good, and as time passed Madeline began to relax and enjoy herself for the first time in a long time. Simple things like a day spent walking through Lincoln Park Zoo brought her the greatest pleasures. Sometimes she wished for male companionship but would remind herself of all that she felt she had sacrificed for Paul and George. The desire to have a man would dissipate and she would once again manage to find other things to do that relieved the loneliness. Today she decided that after work, she would grab the 126 bus that would bring her up Michigan Avenue and give her a chance to view the Christmas lights that she had been watching the city workers install on all the trees that lined the Magnificent Mile. Hard to believe that she had been gone for only two months but soon the holidays would come and for the first time Madeline was hoping to enjoy Christmas even if it was going to be spent attending Midnight Mass at Holy Name Cathedral after a quiet dinner alone. Afterwards, she planned on returning to the apartment and opening the small gifts that she had started collecting and wrapping for herself, but for today, she simply had to get to work.