Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me, just the imagination.

Only, Always
By Morganperidot

Nikita laid on her bed with her eyes closed, instrumental music playing low, breathing deeply, evenly, body relaxed, thoughts floating freely to the place they always sought, to the person they always sought out.

Michael.

Michael Samuelle, the one she let slip away, beautiful Michael, glorious Michael. In her mind she saw him, felt him: the smooth curves of his body, the gentle caress of his fingertips, the velvet softness of his lips on hers, the way his body fit against and within her.

Michael.

Only, always, Michael.

Somewhere in the distance the phone was ringing, and Nikita brought herself back to the present, opening her eyes to darkness and solitude. She picked up the cell phone from the nightstand. "Yes."

"Josephine." A word like a memory, a voice like hope.

"Michael?"

"I need to see you."

She knew they shouldn't; it was dangerous for both of them and for his son, Adam. "We can't," she said, hungry for his reaction, the next breath, the next word. She could see his eyes and hear his heartbeat, hear her own in tandem. If she reached out mentally she could touch him, be with him for a moment, a brief wonderful moment.

"Do you remember the Starlight?"

Nikita smiled. "I remember," she said, thinking of how the stars looked beyond the dirty window of the ratty Starlight Motel as he lay beside her, safe and warm. No one will ever harm you again, she had promised his sleeping form. "We can't be seen together."

"No one will see us."

"You don't know that, Michael. If someone finds out...if someone knows that you can be used against me..." She sighed. "We can't."

There was a long silence, and then Michael said simply, quietly, "You don't want to see me."

"I do, but..."

"Tell me the truth."

"We've always been so bad at that."

"Just tell me."

She wanted to, more than anything - anything except wanting to hold him and have him hold her. She knew she should say that it was over, in the past, and he had to put it behind him; they had certainly told each other that lie enough times. But something in that particular moment - that single, fragile, vulnerable moment - made her think twice, and think about the way his lips felt, the way his hands felt... "I love you," she said, without thinking about that at all.

"Tonight."

"Yes."

"I love you too."

* * * * * * * *

Michael slid a lock of his freshly dyed blond hair behind his ear. It was an old habit, one he had long before he was sucked into the vicious whirlpool of Section One, long before he learned what it felt like to live each day waist deep in pain, violence, shame, and fear - and before he knew what it was like to be reclaimed.

He blew out the smoke from his cigarette and watched it float in the stuffy air of the small motel room. He had smoked when was younger too, when he had seen himself as a rebel, smoking, wearing his hair long, dressing in leather, and riding a motorcycle. He smiled darkly, thinking about how he allowed the Section to twist everything he was.

Now he only smoked rarely and never around his son; he wouldn't expose Adam to that poison. But something about it - the very poison of it - made him feel free. And it was his moments of freedom that made life worth living.

He knew Nikita was afraid; he was afraid too. But he was also as tired of being afraid as he was of being alone. It had been the same in the Section - it got to a point where he needed to be loved more than he needed to be safe - maybe even more than he needed to live. And now he needed to see her eyes, see her look at him the way no one in his life ever had. Simone had understood him, and Elena had adored him - but only Nikita combined those two things with forgiveness. Michael didn't believe his soul could be saved; there were too many terrible things he had done for any God to do that. But in Nikita he found the peace he needed in life, and if he could give some measure of that in return, that was the most he would hope for.

He stubbed out the cigarette and sighed, looking out the window, wondering if she would come. He could accept it if she didn't; he would spend the night in this room alone for appearance sake and then in the morning go pick Adam up from the friend's house where he was having a sleepover. Maybe he wouldn't call her again, but he probably would. She was in his blood, an addiction that wouldn't die until he did. He would always need her.

Only, always, Nikita.

She had given him life - breathed life into him - in the darkest time in his life, and they had built together the castle of miracles and lies that had kept him going. He knew that without her he would have died as an operative of the Section; it would have only been a matter of time before he would have allowed that to happen. It would have been easy enough. It was possible Operations - Paul - had suspected as much and that was why he made Nikita Michael's material, to provide him with a fresh challenge. But Paul couldn't have understood what Nikita meant to him, the way the glow in her eyes touched his heart, the way that heart fluttered and flip-flopped when he looked at her.

He had fallen for her so quickly it was ridiculous, and he had fallen so hard that he had been irretrievable.

Michael looked at the door when he heard the footsteps, quiet enough that most people would have dismissed them, but he had learned to listen well, to distinguish every sound that might mean danger. His gun was in his hand, a handgun registered under a false name. No one else knew him as Michael; no one knew who or what he had been. No one suspected that the quiet, polite man with the young son was a professional killer who had tortured and murdered countless people.

There was the sound of a single hard knock on the door. Michael shoved the gun in the waistband of his jeans at his lower back. He didn't think he would be killed in some dingy motel room, but he knew better than to discount anything entirely. He walked to the door, unlocked it, and pulled it open.

And there she was, Nikita, a vision straight out of one of his dominatrix fantasies: black hair that curled in at the chin, impenetrable dark glasses, black leather gloves stretching down from the elbows and matching boots that went up to the knees, and a black dress that laced up on the top and ended dangerously close to her groin. Without looking he saw the gun in her right hand, felt it there. He knew what a gun felt like. He always would.

She pushed against him with her left hand, and he stepped backwards into the room, watching silently as she closed and locked the door. He wanted to smile, but he didn't, not yet. Michael could wait. He liked that there was time to wait.

Nikita brought the gun up as she went to him, her movements slow and sensual. He wondered what the moment was when he knew he loved her, when everything finally fit together between his mind and his heart. She used the gun to gently push back the hair that had fallen forward against his cheek. "I never thought of you as a blond," she said softly, the gun trailing down the back of his neck, then down his back, sending shivers through him.

"I thought of you like this."

"Naughty boy." She slid the gun across his rear - and Michael caught her left hand with his right before she could go for his gun - then spun out of her embrace a fraction of a second after she dropped her gun, plucking his gun by the grip and maneuvering out of the way of the kick she sent at him. He tossed his gun on the bed and went on the offensive; Nikita met his moves with skillful ease. For a while they continued the dance, until Michael had her pinned against the wall. He pulled the glasses from her face and saw the fire in her eyes. "Don't make me hurt something we might want to use later," she said coolly.

Michael smiled and released her - then grabbed her to him, her eyes flashing, the muscular strength of her slim body under his hands, and brought his lips to hers, hers parting beneath his as her nails dug into his rear. He bit her tongue lightly, and she pressed him closer, so close the heat surged up inside him. He pulled the dark wig from her head and released the long flow of her blond hair. Nikita's hands were on the button of his jeans, undoing, pulling down the zipper, and his own hands found their way across her breasts to the laces, undoing them until she pushed him away. Michael steadied himself, steadied his breathing, and then pulled his white shirt up and over his head. Nikita unzipped her boots and kicked them off; Michael discarded his shoes. Then she turned around, and he undid the zipper of the dress and watched it fall to the floor. There was nothing beneath it. As she brought her hands together he said, "Keep the gloves on." He freed himself from his remaining clothes and took one gloved hand in his as he led her to the bed, then on it and beneath the covers, beneath him, until there was nothing in the world but the two of them joined as one.

* * * * * * * *

Nikita trailed a finger down his chest. "You've stayed in shape."

Michael smiled. "Thank you." He lifted her finger and brought it to his lips to gently kiss it. "I've missed you," he said softly, his eyes shining.

"I've missed you."

"Would you bring me back in?"

Nikita studied his face for a moment. Would she? She could, of course - whether he wanted it or not. As Operations she could do pretty much anything she pleased short of abandoning Section One. She knew that even if he wasn't 100% of what he had been he was better than the majority of the operatives she had, and she could definitely use his experience and skills. So, if it were only a matter of what might be best for the Section, then yes, she would bring him in. But she didn't want that for him, and she didn't think he wanted it either - especially since he could have found a way in himself if he did, and he hadn't.

Or had he?

"Is that what this is?" she asked. "You want back in?"

Michael said nothing.

"Do you want back in the Section?" Nikita asked, as if her question hadn't been clear enough the first time. Michael turned away from her and slid off the bed, providing her with the full view of his naked back and rear. He walked over to the small window and stood there silently. "Michael..."

"Do you think that is what this is?" he asked without looking at her.

"I'm not quite sure what this is."

He looked over at her. "You said you loved me."

"We've both said a lot of things, Michael." He looked back at the window. "Just tell me. Do you want back in?"

"No."

"Then why?"

"I told you why. Not everything is about the Section, Nikita. Not even for us." Michael turned toward her. "Not for me. Not anymore."

"You..."

"I don't want the Section. I need to be with Adam. I need to be out." He walked over to where his pants laid on the floor and bent to pick them up. Nikita watched as he walked around the room gathering his clothes.

"I don't want you to go."

"You were right," he said. "This was a mistake."

"I didn't say that." He sat down on the end of the bed and began pulling on his pants. "Besides, we still have some time..."

"No. We're out of time. Get dressed, Nikita. Go home to the Section."

Nikita's anger spiked within her. "You bastard," she said, getting out from beneath the covers. "You goddamn selfish son of a bitch. This has always been about you, what you want. If you want to end it, that's fine, we can do that. But you are going to listen to me first."

Michael got off the bed and pulled up the pants, zipped, and buttoned them. Then he brought his gaze to hers, steady and beautiful. Damn him for still being so beautiful, Nikita thought. "I'm not your operative," he said. "I don't..."

"Right, you're not my operative. You're my lover. How can you be so insecure after all this time?"

"How can you be so cruel?"

The statement shocked her. "Me? You think I'm cruel? I'm not the one threatening to leave. I'm not the one..."

"You're the one who lied." He reached for his shirt, and she grabbed it from him and threw it across the room.

"Lied? What lie?"

"Telling me you loved me."

Nikita slapped his face hard. After a moment of looking at the bright red mark on his cheek she said, "Get out of here. Don't ever contact me again. If you do you will be considered a hostile. I'll have you brought in the White Room and..."

"Bullshit."

"Try it."

"What would you do to me?" Michael asked quietly. "Shock me? Cut me? Beat me?"

Nikita looked at him, his gorgeous chest and his soft, intelligent eyes. No, none of those things, never anything like that, not him. No matter how angry he made her, she would never do those things. That slap was clearly as far as it would go. "Don't push me. I could have those things done. I could have you tortured. I could have you killed."

Michael bent down and picked up her gun, then held it out with the grip toward her. "Get it over with," he said.

She went to him and took the weapon. "I'm not playing this game, Michael."

"No more games. Two in the heart, one in the head."

"Bastard."

"Do it, Nikita."

"Don't push me!" He took a step closer and closed his hand over hers and brought the muzzle of the gun against the skin over his heart. For a moment they just stood there, and she watched his chest rise and fall. Then Nikita slid her finger from the trigger, the idea of the weapon discharging into him terrifying her. She moved the gun away and dropped it back on the floor. "How could you think I don't love you?"

"How could you let me think it?"

"I do."

"I know."

Nikita smiled. "You are really crazy."

"Sometimes," he said.

Nikita went back to the bed and crawled onto it. "Take off your pants."

"Is that an order?"

"Yes."

Michael smiled and obeyed.

* * * * * * * *

"What now?" Nikita asked as Michael zipped up her dress.

"We do what we always do."

She turned around. "Which is?"

"Live each day." He said, leaning in to kiss her cheek.

"You don't want to come in?"

"No." He slid a lock of hair behind her left ear. "Do you want to come out?"

"Someday." She went to the mirror and pinned up her hair, then put on the wig.

Michael pulled the ring out of the pocket of his jeans. "Only, always, you."

"What?"

"Will you marry me?"

Nikita's hand stopped in midair in its movement toward putting the sunglasses on her face. Michael watched her meet his gaze in the mirror. She turned. "What?" she said again. Michael walked over to her...and went down on one knee. He took her left hand in his hands and slid on the ring, a white gold band featuring a huge marquise-cut ruby with small full-cut diamonds on each side.

"Yes or no?"

"Get up," she said, pulling on him until he was on his feet and then grabbing his face in her hands and plowing her tongue between his lips. The kiss was hard, bruising, and Michael couldn't breathe, but it didn't matter; it didn't matter if he died like this. She held him tightly, and he held her. When she broke the kiss she pressed him to her, and he closed his eyes. Her hand slid into his hair.

"Nikita."

"Yes."

"When?"

"Soon. Very soon." She released him and stepped back, then picked up the sunglasses, her hand was shaking ever so slightly as she put them on and then slipped on the gloves, right first, then the left.

"Be careful."

"Be safe."

They looked at each other a moment longer, and then Nikita pulled open the door and left.

* * * * * * * *

To be continued? Please review or send email to: morganperidot@cs.com.