Chapter 3: June, Very Soon

Nikita knew without doing the test. She just knew. But she did the test anyway, and it was positive.

She stood for a moment looking in the bathroom mirror and wondering what she should do. She had to tell Michael - didn't she? No, of course not. She didn't have to tell him anything. She could take care of this without him ever finding out. No one had to find out, not Michael, not even the Section. She could take care of it discretely, eliminate the problem without anyone ever knowing.

The problem. That was what it was, wasn't it? A problem, not a child, not the baby conceived during an act of love with Michael...

Not their son or daughter.

She had planned to be careful, and most of the time they had been; she was sure of that. But she couldn't be sure that there weren't times when she forgot, when they both didn't care enough about the consequences to use protection. Obviously there had been at least one time.

She would have to take care of it. What else could she do? Just the idea of getting married was crazy, but that was a hell of a lot less crazy than having a child. And this life was too dangerous for a child anyway.

Their child. Her child with Michael.

Nikita put a hand over her belly and tried to imagine it, tried to imagine their child growing inside of her. She looked over at the phone and thought: Call.

And the phone rang.

* * * * * * * * * *

At Nikita's insistence Michael had moved again, uprooting his life and Adam's, changing names, starting over again. Like usual he told her none of the details. He told her nothing at all about his daily life or the new house or the town where he and Adam lived. They spoke about nothing really - other than Section - but mostly even that topic was avoided. They had more or less nontopic conversations, words about nothing that went nowhere, play words, pointless words.

He was tired of it.

Michael was ready to build something, a real life that was going to last for more than a few weeks or months. He wanted some kind of security, but most of all he wanted a future with his son and Nikita, the woman who was going to be his wife. He wanted a real future, not just one where they continued to play games and pretend that was enough.

She told him again and again that there would be a time when she would get out. He wanted it to be now, before something happened and they lost one another. Michael knew how easy it was to lose someone he loved, and he understood how fragile each moment was. If they continued to wait they would wait forever; what they were waiting for would never come. There would never be the perfect day when everything would fall into place for them to be together. They had to take the moment. They had to do it now.

He picked up the phone and punched in the numbers. He didn't know what he would say, but he knew something had to be said. The issue had to be broached; they had to do something.

"Hey," Nikita said.


"What's up?"

"We need to meet. I have something I need to talk to you about."

There was a brief pause. "Sounds serious. Is this about the wedding?"

"There's something else..."

"I don't think we should meet before the wedding," Nikita said. "We shouldn't take any more risks than necessary. There's a mission going out tonight, and I'm not completely sold on the profile. They may..."

"What's going on doing, Nikita?"

"I'm not trying to back out, Michael. We'll get married; I want that."

"You want what?"

"To be your wife, to have you as my husband..."

"And then what?"

Nikita sighed. "What are you really asking, Michael?"

"Don't you want a life, a family - our family?" There was a longer pause this time, and Michael sensed that she wasn't telling him something, some change that affected them. "What do you want, Nikita?" he asked.

"That's what I want. But this isn't easy for me."

"What isn't easy?"

After a pause she said, "I need a little time to think."

"If there's can tell me," he said.

"Just give me a day," Nikita said. "Call me tomorrow night."

"OK," Michael said. He ended the call. What would she need time to think about? He stood up and paced the floor, then went outside and lit a cigarette. Maybe she wasn't going to ever leave the Section, he thought. Maybe she needed to find a way to tell him that this was all they were ever going to have, phone calls and brief meetings, a marriage in which nothing changed for either of them.

A marriage that was a farce.

He inhaled on the cigarette, closed his eyes for a moment, and blew out the smoke. He had begun the arrangement for the wedding: He bought the rings and various items for himself and for her. But what was the point? They didn't need to be married to do what they were doing. And he wasn't sure he wanted to go through with it as just another game. Maybe Nikita needed time to tell him they should wait on the wedding. Maybe she was going to tell him they wouldn't be able to see one another for a while...

This was the first time she had refused to meet with him. Maybe that was only clue he needed, the sign that she was withdrawing from the relationship.

And then what would he do? Go on with his life, raising Adam, without the moments of light with her that were the center of his existence.

He would die inside.

But if that was what she was going to tell him, he would agree it was for the best. He wouldn't push it. He wouldn't try to push her into something she didn't want. He would let go, even if it killed him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Our family, Nikita thought.

She had come so close to telling him, but she still wasn't certain how to handle it. Would he want her to have the child? How could she do that? Would he want to raise the child with her? How could they make it work?

We can't, she thought, as she stood on the perch watching Grace pace Com as she did tactical support for the mission. There is no way; it doesn't make sense. It's the wrong time for a child. We have to wait until the right time...

And what if the right time never comes?

What if this is our only chance?

There was only one thing about this that Nikita knew for certain: She wanted to have the child. She wanted to feel it grow inside her, and she wanted to hold it in her arms.

But what about Michael?

There was a breakdown in the mission; the team was being attacked. "Withdraw the team," Nikita said into the microphone that fed into Grace's earpiece.

"We haven't achieved the objective."


"Of course," Grace said coolly.

Nikita hit the switch that darkened the perch to outside view. She felt exhausted, and she knew that was more than just her worry about what to do about the child. It had been a long time since she had gotten any satisfaction from running the Section. When she had first taken over it had seemed like she would be able to make changes for the better, to improve the lives of the operatives and make things more humane. But then Center had stepped in with its delaying tactics, and her timeline for improvements had been first set aside and then discarded.

Nothing changes in the Section, Michael had said, and she had argued with him. But in the end he was right - nothing had really changed. Instead she had become caught up in leading the same sort of Section Paul had led, one that was dark and hateful, suspicious and cruel.

Her need for Michael had increased so that she was thinking of him every day, constantly playing with engagement ring on her finger and wondering when he would call her about the wedding. Even when she had started to feel strange and her period had been late, she had thought it just had to do with the stress of the Section. But she finally had to admit that something else was the cause.

Someone else.

I have to get out, Nikita thought. She put her hand against her belly. We have to get out.

* * * * * * * * * *

Michael woke with his heart thudding. The nightmare had surprised him; it had been nearly a month since he had one - since he and Nikita had met at The Ambassador. And this was different than the ones he had before that. In this one Nikita did harm him.

Or her absence harmed him.

Michael replayed it in his mind. This one started in Section One. Dressed in the black he was standing in the open section in front of the darkened perch. Nikita was there, and he knew she wasn't coming down. They weren't going to get married; there would be no future between them. "You were always so easily fooled," a familiar voice said. Michael looked to his left as Madeline emerged. But that wasn't possible: Madeline was dead. "Section can work all kinds of wonders these days," she said. "You'll see."

"I'm done with the Section," Michael said.

Madeline laughed. "You know it doesn't work like that, Michael," she said. Michael had looked up at the perch, and he could just make out the figure there, Nikita. "Operations is always Operations," Madeline said. "It's time to debrief." Michael had felt the nudge of a gun against his back.

He had looked back at the perch once more, but the figure was gone. Nikita was gone, his Nikita, dissolved into shadows, lies, deceptions...endless strings of deceptions.

I need the truth, Michael thought. Whatever it is, I need it now. He picked up the phone and punched in the numbers.

"Michael, I told you..."

"I had a nightmare," he said.

"About the Section?" Nikita asked.

"About us," Michael said. "Tell me, Nikita. Whatever it is, tell me."

"I'm pregnant."

It wasn't at all what Michael expected. Pregnant? "Is it mine?"


Michael slid down to the floor and sat with his back against the wall. "Have you made a decision?" he asked.

"I need to get out."

"Of the Section," Michael whispered. It wasn't a question.

"Yes. I need to get out. I need to be with you." Michael closed his eyes and released the breath he had been holding. "Is that what you want?"

"Yes. Will you have the baby?"

Nikita was silent for a long moment. Then she said: "I don't know what to do, Michael."

"Go to Center," Michael said. "Work something out."

"They won't just let me go."

"We have to make a move now. We have to do this for our family. We're out of time."

"Our family."

"Our child is part of this now," Michael said.

"Do you want this child?"

"Yes," he said. "Without a doubt." He licked his lips and waited a moment before saying, "Do you?"

"If I'm with you..."

"You will be."

"Michael, don't do anything, don't make contact..."

"Don't worry about me," he said. "Just go to Center."

"You know how things are, Michael..."

"This isn't about them anymore, Nikita. This is our blood; this you and me."

"Both of us."


"Are you all right? What was the nightmare?"

"That doesn't matter. All that matters now is taking action."

"Michael, you..."

"I'll be careful, I promise."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Go to Center, Nikita thought, Michael's voice clear in her head as she walked through the doors that lead to the waiting area for Mr. Wilson, the newest Head of Center. Before she could sit the door to Wilson's office swung open.

She was dressed in a black suit complete with a short-sleeved jacket, a black silk tank with lace around the collar, and a black skirt with a lace hem that ended inches above her knees. Onyx bracelets encircled her wrists, but the only other piece of jewelry was the engagement ring.

Michael, she thought. Our child, our family. And she walked through the door into Wilson's office.

Wilson's office was large, and Nikita's heels clicked on the hardwood surface. Wilson stood; his hair was gray but he didn't seem old - most likely he was not yet 60. He smiled, but Nikita knew smiles meant nothing here. There was no kindness or happiness in this world; there was only manipulation.

Wilson stood to the right of his large oak desk topped with several neat piles of papers, dossiers, and reports. He held out his hand as Nikita approached. Nikita grasped it firmly; his hand was warm. "Good to see you, Nikita," he said in a smooth, even tone.

"Thank you for taking the time, Mr. Wilson," Nikita said.

He indicated a round glass table and two chairs near the desk. Nikita walked over and sat on one of the black metal chairs. Wilson sat on the other chair, to her right. "How have you been?" Wilson asked.

"Very well, thank you."

"And how is Section One?"

"Operating at optimal proficiency."

Wilson leaned back in his chair. "Well, then - how is Michael Samuelle?"

Nikita froze, but she fought to keep her surprise hidden. "I wouldn't know," she said.

Wilson smiled. "Center knows everything, Nikita. You should know that. Cappuccino?"

"No, thank you." Nikita's heart was thudding. Could Wilson really know about them?

"Michael was a good operative, one of the best. But he always hated it - almost as much as you do." Nikita said nothing. "I would guess that the two of you have always found some solace in your common dislike for this world."

"I came here to speak with you about my agreement with Center," Nikita said. "I made certain sacrifices for the sake of Mr. Jones. I have fulfilled my obligations."

"And now you want a life on the outside."


"Why now?"

"It's time."

"That's a lovely ring," Wilson said, gesturing toward where Nikita's hand rested on the table.

"Thank you."

"There are always people watching, Nikita, wherever you are, whatever you do. And there are people watching Michael."

No, Nikita thought. "Should I care?" she asked.

"Should you? Not if you were to be the ideal Operations for Section One. Do you? Of course. You've always cared too much about Michael. It was always a distraction for you and for him. It still is. If you wish to be with him, that can be done. The Center will withdraw its tendrils. Is that what you wish?"

"I wish for a life outside."

"Nikita," Wilson said. "I cannot give you that life unless you lay all your cards face up on the table." His lips curled slightly. "Let me make it easier for you: If you continue to deny him I will have to assume that he has been compromised, and as such, he will be brought here for debriefing and cancellation."

Nikita held his gaze, her hands steady on the table. She understood that if they truly knew where Michael was they would do what he said. And she knew what debriefing meant in this context; debriefings of hostiles within Center itself were the definition of cruel and inhuman. So the question was, did they know? Wilson's face betrayed nothing. "Michael could never be compromised," she said, buying more time.

"Anyone can be, Nikita," he said. "Especially someone who hates who we are as much as he does. He could easily be contracting with a terrorist outfit. There is plenty of money in that to support oneself and a child, to save for that child's future."

"Michael hates terrorism as much as..."

Wilson stood. "I wish I could have given you some assistance," he said, holding out his hand.

Nikita felt a shiver slide through her. They would hurt Michael - they would hurt him badly before killing him. She had only a second or two to decide. It had been Michael himself who had said she should go to Center, work something out. Nothing had been worked out. At best she had been delivered an empty threat, and Michael would not be harmed. At worst she had lost everything, and Michael would suffer terribly. There was only one light in the darkness...she could admit the truth and pray that Wilson would keep his word. She looked at the ring and thought of the baby, thought of that one chance in a million that she could have a life with Michael and their child. "I want to be with him," she said.

"Michael Samuelle."


Wilson withdrew his hand and resumed his seat. "So we proceed," he said. "You will be released from your obligation from Section One following the completion of one final task."

"Which is?"

"You will cancel Grace."

"Grace? Why?"

"She has taken a terrorist as a lover and protected him. You will cancel her tonight, and you will be released." Nikita was stunned. She had thought Grace was the perfect Section operative. Of course even if she weren't, Nikita didn't want to kill her in cold blood - especially when there no real guarantee that if she did she would go free. But she had already begun her deal with this devil, and she would have to follow through with it. "Do we have an agreement?" Wilson asked, holding out his hand.

"Of course," Nikita said grasping it. "Thank you."

"My pleasure," Wilson said.

* * * * * * * * * *

Michael watched Adam playing in the schoolyard. He knew they were there; he always knew. Sometimes he could see them, but most of the time it was just a feeling. No matter where he took Adam they always showed up, watching.

It was a tiresome sensation.

Michael felt for his gun. He had done enough surveillance and kill/capture scenarios to know how they worked. If they wanted him they would have him. He understood that.

But there was a new life to think of now, one that he and Nikita had created together. Their son or daughter. The product of their love. The proof of its endurance.

Only, always, Michael thought. Us. Our love. Our family.

He smiled and hoped the operatives watching saw it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Nikita was already in the room when they brought Grace in.

Grace wasn't struggling; she let the other operatives lead her to the chair and then strap her in before they left without a word. Nikita stood at the back of the room looking at her. She still wasn't sure that Grace had betrayed the Section. But she knew had to do what was necessary to get out, to be with Michael and have their child.

Even if it meant killing an innocent woman.

But no one in the Section was really innocent were they - even if they came in that way. Nikita had been falsely accused of the crime that put her in prison - but she had committed plenty since being brought into the Section. "We know about William," she said.

"William who?" Grace asked.

Nikita ignored the question. "We know he is a terrorist with Red Cell."

"I don't know who you are talking about. I don't know anyone from Red Cell."

"He's been taken care of," Nikita said. There was no reaction from Grace. What is this? Nikita wondered. Are they really having me execute an innocent? Was that Center's one last stab at her humanity, forcing her to commit a murder, to kill out of the greedy need to have her own and live with that guilt forever?

"I don't know who you're talking about," Grace said, her voice steady, her eyes fixed on Nikita's.

Nikita doubts increased. "It doesn't matter," she said, both to Grace and to herself. "The order has been given."

"Then do it," Grace said.

Nikita brought up the gun and held it steady, aimed at the heart. Her finger pressed against the trigger...but she knew she couldn't do it. She began to release her pressure on the trigger - when she heard the sound of a gun discharging behind her, two quick spits and then a third. She was certain that she had been shot, that her life was over as well as that of her child, Michael's child.

But then she saw the blood blossom on Grace's white shirt and drizzle down from the red eye on her forehead. Nikita turned...and looked at Michael.

He stood there dressed in black like some vision from the past, as though time had somehow doubled back - or collapsed in on itself. "She was lying," he said softly.

"Why are you here?" Nikita asked.

"To finish things," Michael said.

* * * * * * * * * *

Michael leaned against the wall of the perch. "Wilson suspected you wouldn't be able to do it," he said. "That was why he was willing to let you go - because they could never really make you what they wanted."

"And you, Michael? What did they make you?" Nikita asked, pacing.

Michael saw the anger, confusion, and hurt in her. "An offer I couldn't refuse," he said.

At the far end of the perch from him she stopped and turned. "Which means what?"

"I did some consulting for them," he said. "The money was good. I did some surveillance - like tracking Grace with William. This was the end of it, the last thing." He turned away from her and looked out at the Section. "It was something I had to do."

"Live your nightmare," Nikita said.

"No," Michael said. "face this place again on my own terms. To come in and know the door is open to leave."

"Is that really the truth, Michael?" Nikita asked.

Michael smiled. He walked over to her and dropped the bag he had brought with him at her feet. "You'll find everything you'll need in there," he said. "I'll be waiting downstairs."

"What is this?" Nikita asked.

"You'll see." Michael left the perch and walked down the stairs, looking at the operatives moving about. He headed in the direction of his former office, went inside, and closed the door. What he needed was there, waiting for him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Nikita kneeled down, unzipped the bag, and went through its contents. Inside was a short simple dress of ivory silk that tied at the neck, long ivory gloves, a circle of ivory and pink silk flowers with a short veil attached, a bouquet of similar silk flowers, and ivory boots. Nikita sat on the floor for a moment, looking at these items, tears sliding from her eyes one after the other, traveling in silent trails down her cheeks. She didn't know if it was relief or love or hormones or a combination of the three.

She dressed slowly, her hands shaking, finally looking at herself in the glass of the perch. It would do, she thought, and she laughed out loud. She saw that something still remained in the bag, a smaller bag that produced four more items when she opened it: a lovely antique-looking cameo, a glistening diamond bracelet, a cufflink, and a blue garter. Old, new, borrowed, and blue. Michael had thought of everything.

Nikita tossed her old clothes and the small bag into the bigger bag and left it in a corner of the perch. Then she picked up the bouquet and walked out to the staircase. She saw Michael waiting below dressed in a tuxedo, her beautiful Michael, and he smiled when he saw her, a real, honest smile. She walked down the stairs and over to him, handing the bouquet off to an operative before taking his hands. Lost in his eyes she barely heard the words they recited to one another, barely cared what they were.

They were together now, finally, forever. Only, always.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *