Disclaimer: Nikita is so not my property. As a matter of fact, none of these characters are. I just take them out to play once in awhile and put them back where I found them. Lyrics are from Billy Joel's song 'And So It Goes' (beautiful, you should really listen to it fully appreciate the story)

Spoilers: 'Hard Landing' through 'Approaching Zero'

Archiving: Sure, just let me know. Nikitangel@hotmail.com

Feedback: Any and all, even the bad stuff, but keep it constructive, would you? Please review - I always return the favor if you have fic on a series that I know.

Notes: Set shortly after Approaching Zero

In every heart, there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong

To heal the wounds of lovers past, until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones; you answered me with no pretense

And still I feel I said too much, my silence is my self-defense

And every time I've held a rose, it seems I only felt the thorns

And so it goes, and so it goes, and so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave, then that would my worst mistake

So I will share this room with you, and you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed; it's just as well, for all I've seen

And so it goes, and so it goes, and you're the only one who knows.

So I would choose to be with you, that's if the choice were mine to make

But you can make decisions too, and you can have this heart to break.

And so it goes, and so it goes, and you're the only one who knows.

Nikita made her way unhurriedly towards Michael's office, slowing her pace as she crossed the wide expanse of the briefing area, her high-heeled toes tracing the grid-like pattern projected across the floor. Shaking her head, she strolled distractedly through the shadowy pattern of bars that enveloped her. She was dreading the coming conversation.

She had successfully avoided being alone with Michael since Jurgen's death. The events had been far too fresh in her heart - feelings of betrayal, foolishness, impotent anger - and loss. She grieved for the spirit that had been lost that fateful day. No matter how Jurgen had managed his charmed Section existence, Nikita couldn't help but admire him. She didn't know how she would have acted in his place, if she would have gone to such lengths to live as he did. She only knew that the two of them had shared something, something Michael was not a part of, something he would never fully understand.

Somewhere along the line, Michael had given in. There was some quality, an essence of freedom, perhaps, that would never again grace Michael's soul. His capitulation to Section was understandable, perhaps the only choice to make, if he was to survive as long as he had. But it set him apart from people from Nikita and Jurgen, from Walter's little club. Nurturing that small flame of hope didn't make them weak, or naïve - but it helped them do more than survive.

Nikita's apprehension over the pending confrontation grew as these sentiments coursed through her. Michael hadn't even been the one to call her in. She hadn't been busy, exactly, just sitting at home, gazing at her walls without seeing them. She'd been doing a lot of that in the past few days. Not crying, not raging against the injustice of it all, just...sitting. She knew she was probably being observed, but it didn't seem to matter. She couldn't even really think about what had happened, really.

Of course, she had been expected to become this brooding, reflective creature. It was all in the plan - Madeline never failed to anticipate events. Nikita knew she hadn't been given time off, she had been shipped off. There would be too many questions if she stayed, too many people wanting to know the story, and Madeline protected her morale figures zealously.

Still, she wasn't going to refuse the offer, no matter the reasoning behind it. At first she had considered having a little fun with Madeline, going back to visit old neighborhoods and such, but the memories those places evoked were not worth the entertainment of watching Madeline scramble around in her Psych file.

In the end, Nikita found herself in an old English castle, shuffling along from room to room amidst a gaggle of tourists, listening to a little old lady with a carefully lettered nametag. Her enthusiastic guide eagerly related fantastic tales about the castle's history, speaking in exclamation points and grand gestures. It felt nice to be anonymous, just another backpack-laden sightseer, stumbling from exhibit to exhibit, and never having to think. She could concentrate solely on what was presented to her, and was never required to respond or analyze or act. Or remember. Sometimes the heavy thoughts sprang unbidden to her mind, and she pushed them away, moving on to the next castle.

When Nikita was finally called back to Section, she knew much more about English history, and she had succeeded in burying Jurgen, with all his painful associations, deep in her psyche.

Until now. Until her phone had rung. She had let it go for a bit, ringing and ringing, thinking of Michael on the other end, waiting and waiting. She answered it eventually, of course, and had been surprised to hear the unfamiliar voice state her codename.

And now she was here, at his door. Absolutely no idea what was going to happen, which made whatever was going to happen that much worse.

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

His heart was pounding. Michael, the perfect operative, calm, cool, and collected, unruffled under pressure, composed at all times, was sweating. The last few weeks had been torturous, waiting for her return, waiting for her reaction. He had tried to give her time to think things through, hadn't approached her before she left. He wanted to give her space, and he wanted her to be clear-headed when they finally discussed everything.

Before - well, before, it hadn't been right. She would never have believed him, nor wanted to. And he had already cast his lot by then, resumed his familiar role as a target for her hostilities. It seemed a comfort to her, to have someone to blame, a face to absorb the resentment she spewed forth. That was something he had discovered long ago in dealing with the Gray situation. And so, he stepped up. He did what he could to ease her pain, no matter what the price to his relationship with her.

It helped her, too, to idealize Jurgen. It wouldn't have done anyone any good for him to tell her the truth about Jurgen at that point. This way, at least, she could see things more in black and white. There were good guys and there were bad guys. It was the easiest way to heal.

She knocked, and he swallowed. "Yes?" As if he didn't know exactly who was on the other side of that door, and hadn't already disabled his surveillance.

"You wanted to see me?" Her demeanor was strangely reserved, her eyes fastened to his, wondering. She took a few steps into the room and carefully seated herself without losing eye contact with him.

He blinked, remaining in his chair another moment before rising and buttoning his coat. He slowly inhaled, gazing though the blinds of his window. "It's - good to have you back."

She blinked.

He lowered his head a little and turned his gaze on her, his head following the movement of his eyes. "I tried to explain to you, once, why I did what I did." A dense silence permeated the room. She expressed no reaction to his words, unwilling to help him in this explanation. He opened his mouth, then seemed to change his mind. "I wanted ... to do something for you." Her eyebrows rose imperceptibly.

Michael waited a beat, then turned towards his desk, extracting a slim electronic device from one of the drawers. He handed it to her, and she accepted it warily. He almost swallowed again. "Just ... listen. Please." The softly accented word, nearly an afterthought, added a note of intensity to his plea.

They stared at each other for another minute before he finally broke away, once again surveying the activity outside his window. With one final gaze at her, he neatly stepped around her chair and left the room, gently closing the door behind him.

Nikita took a deep breath and inspected the object in her hands. She paused for a moment before depressing the 'play' button. The soft strains of a piano melody gently drifted from the speakers, and Nikita sat back to listen to this song, this song that Michael had chosen for her.

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

The piano part alone stirred something in her. It was played so lovingly, yet there was something restrained about it. As if the musician was pausing just so over every key before he pressed it. And the words ... the words. Fragments of memories swirled up from within her.

"Alright, Michael, so what is this? So I went out for dinner, why do you care? Patented Michael answer, the blank stare."

*****I spoke to you in cautious tones; you answered me with no pretense

And still I feel I said too much, my silence is my self-defense*****

Nikita's breath caught in her throat.

"You're right. I shouldn't have asked."

*****And so will you soon, I suppose*****

"So that's where we stand? You really don't care if I see Jurgen?"

*****So I would choose to be with you, that's if the choice were mine to make

But you can make decisions too, and you can have this heart to break.*****

She bit her lip, her forehead creased as she fought the emotions battling inside her. The music played on.

"This is never an easy job. Sometimes unbearable, for all of us."

*****And this is why my eyes are closed; it's just as well, for all I've seen*****

"How could you do this, Michael?"

*****And so it goes*****

"Not to him, to me."

*****And so it goes.*****

"It was never my intention to hurt you."

*****And you're the only one who knows.*****

Her chest tightened. She took deeper and deeper breaths, but they didn't help.

"When you were at his house, I was listening."

*****And so it goes.*****

"I had to keep my feelings separate. It's how I live my life, Nikita. Split in two."

*****And so it goes.*****

"I never let anyone see the other half, but it's there. Always a part of me."

*****In every heart, there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong.*****

"Well that's just too little, too late."

*****But if my silence made you leave, then that would my worst mistake

So I will share this room with you, and you can have this heart to break*****

The tears came at last.

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

"Michael." He didn't look up from his keyboard. Didn't need to. Yet his fingers stopped.

Her voice was calm and determined. "Michael." He raised his eyes to hers. She returned his look very seriously. "Michael, what you did yesterday - it was very important." He fought the urge to look away. "It - doesn't erase the past. Things can't just even out. But - it was important to me. I wanted you to know that."

He wanted to tell her how he his heart had ached with hers, how he had felt her confusion. He wanted to tell her that he understood the empty nothingness that was a poor substitute for grief, that he understood how difficult it was let go and cry. He wanted to tell her how much he wished things could be different. He wanted to tell her.

But he couldn't get the words out of his heart. He stared at her mutely, helplessly.

She didn't know how to say that she hadn't been crying for Jurgen, that her tears were far older. She didn't know how to say how strongly the gesture had affected her. She didn't know how to say that something had changed, that perhaps that barrier between her and Michael, that spark of hope, wasn't so formidable after all. She didn't know how.

So silence prevailed.

*****In every heart, there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong

To heal the wounds of lovers past, until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones; you answered me with no pretense

And still I feel I said too much, my silence is my self-defense

And every time I've held a rose, it seems I only felt the thorns

And so it goes, and so it goes, and so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave, then that would my worst mistake

So I will share this room with you, and you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed; it's just as well, for all I've seen

And so it goes, and so it goes, and you're the only one who knows.

So I would choose to be with you, that's if the choice were mine to make

But you can make decisions too, and you can have this heart to break.

And so it goes, and so it goes, and you're the only one who knows.*****