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.
Spoilers: Nothing specific
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: This is a crossover with Highlander, a sequel to 'Kindred Spirits', set sometime in the second season of LFN
"Haven't heard from you in awhile, Sugar."
Nikita finished dumping her equipment on the table and looked up, the corner of her mouth turning up. "Oh, I'm sorry, Walter, I've just been a little busy."
The older man narrowed his eyes. "You been pouring out your troubles in sleazy bars 'stead of older and wiser me?"
"Yeah, older and wiser and - how did that go? 'Really full of crap'?" She grinned. He smiled back, happy to see her happy.
"All right then, fine, just go off and leave me. I know when I've been replaced."
Nikita gave him a peck on the cheek before leaving his workstation behind. She readjusted her bag on her shoulder and headed for Transport, a small smile remaining on her face.
Michael watched her go, her smile lingering in his mind. Nikita's good spirits had been weighing on his mind for the past several weeks. He hadn't been able to ascertain their source and it concerned him. He had waited a number of weeks, refrained from following her or invading her privacy, but things had gone far enough. He had a right to know what was going on.
It wasn't difficult to follow her. The tracking device he had installed in her car a few weeks earlier eased the process considerably. Michael was able to keep a sound distance from her until she reached her destination, a barge on the Seine river across from Notre Dame. He parked and drew a scope from his glove compartment, his line of sight quickly settling on the blonde hair whipping about Nikita's shoulders. She turned off the car and approached the barge.
A tall, well-built man suddenly appeared at the door. Michael's throat tightened slightly as the man smiled warmly and embraced Nikita. Her face reflected his joy as they exchanged words, still in each others' arms. He kissed her lightly on each cheek and led her inside.
Michael remained parked, his jaw slightly tense, staring at the door through which the couple had disappeared. Slowly and methodically, he lowered the scope and replaced it in the glove compartment, then started the engine. He drove off without another glance at the barge.
* * * * * * * * * *
Nikita laughed and accepted the offered wineglass. "Thanks."
Tessa smiled back at her. "I'm so glad you came. I've been working on this piece forever - sometimes it seems as though I'll never finish."
Nikita shrugged. "Of course, as soon as you finish it, you'll miss it."
"I suppose you're right." Tessa tilted her head and regarded her friend thoughtfully. "Still, it's nice to have someone take a look. And I wanted to share it with you."
Nikita looked down, then met her gaze. "Thanks," she repeated.
"And, of course," Duncan's voice cut in, "She tried to invite you over while I was gone so she wouldn't have to share you." Tessa gasped in fake indignation. "Nice try, sweetheart, but I wouldn't miss a visit from the elusive Nikita just for a drink with Fitz." Tessa narrowed her eyes and smacked him in the arm. Duncan cringed in mock pain and gave her a brief kiss before returning his attention to their guest.
Nikita watched the interplay between them with interest. "That's all right, I like it when we're all together like this." And she did. Nikita enjoyed watching the two of them, two people so in love, so comfortable with each other. She felt a twinge of jealousy at their ease, even knowing the troubles they suffered through. The look on Duncan's face when he fixed his eyes on his love - it was incredible. Nikita never got enough of it, never got enough of being around them.
She knew there was something they kept from her, could see it in the looks they exchanged or their avoidance of certain subjects, but she never questioned it. They allowed her comparable leeway, never questioning her last-minute cancellations or entire days of absence. It was a comfortable arrangement, a relief to its participants.
"So, Nikita, what's new with the Mystery Man?" queried Tessa, settling back against Duncan on the couch.
"Ah, well, you know," responded Nikita, holding back her smile at seeing Duncan's hand drift toward the back of Tessa's neck. "The usual. We haven't spoken much." Tessa's eyelids fluttered slightly.
"Mmm-hmm. Why not?" she managed to ask.
"Long story. I was given a ... promotion, at work, and things got complicated," sighed Nikita. She had begun confiding in Tessa (and Mac) several weeks back, and was finding it nice to have someone objective, someone who didn't know Michael at all, had no preconceptions about his past or his character. Both Duncan and Tessa knew that Nikita's accounts of the man were censored, at least as far as the situations went, but the essence of her stories was real.
As it happened, Tessa was not inclined to think much of the Mystery Man. The man sounded entirely too closed off and manipulative. Still, she could see that Nikita cared for him, deeply, however unwillingly.
Duncan held his opinion of the Mystery Man in check. He tried to look deeper into the man's actions, and often found in himself an understanding, almost a comeraderie with this man. He tried to bring this understanding to light every once in awhile but usually found that the women preferred not to hear it. They enjoyed their 'girl talk' and were not inclined to allow Duncan to argue for the man. He acquiesced, if only to ensure his continued presence in the conversations. He could only imagine what they said about him when he wasn't around.
The friendly conversation continued, and Nikita was just finishing her drink when the familiar ring of her cell phone cut through the air. She smiled tightly and flipped it open. Her face kept its closed expression as she listened.
"Yeah," was all she answered before hanging up. Duncan and Tessa shared a look. This was not the first mysterious phone call, and they were not surprised when Nikita rose from her seat.
"I'm sorry, I -- " And for once, no excuse came to Nikita's mind. She stood there gazing sadly at the couple.
Duncan took pity on her. "It was a wonderful evening and we're glad you could join us. We were just on our way to bed anyway," he finished with a leer towards Tessa. She hit him again.
A smile broke though on Nikita's face. "I really had a very good time. Thank you so much for having me over."
Tessa stood and gave her a hug. "Call me anytime."
"I will," agreed Nikita, receiving a hug from Duncan as well.
"I'll walk you to your car," he added. Nikita suppressed a smile. It was a disagreement they had every time she came. In the beginning she had tried to convince him she could take care of herself, but the man seemed intent on protecting her from the dangers between his home and her car. Eventually she accepted that it was in his nature and wasn't worth contesting. She gained her coat and they started outside.
"Thanks - again," she smiled at her determined proctector when they reached her car. She went for the door handle but his touch stopped her.
"Nikita ... you're sure you're all right?"
Her ready answer stuck in her throat as she met his gaze. They stood there for a moment, two warriors, each surviving under the weight of a powerful secret. Their pain, their struggle, their hope - it all reflected in their eyes.
Nikita wondered, sometimes, if he was Section after all, but never really believed it. There was too much freedom in his manner, too much independence. Still, there was something. Something made that connection between them, she could feel it. Unspoken agreement broke their gaze, and they didn't address what had just occurred. Duncan backed away and she opened the car door.
As she drove towards Section Nikita's mind stayed on the companions she had just left. It wasn't often in her life that she found a man to just be her friend. Certainly not before Section, and even after her recruitment it was rare. Every relationship within the Section was complicated and tentative. There were too many factors, too many possibilities to consider.
Even Walter and Birkoff didn't quite fill the role that Duncan had assumed. Nikita had never felt an equal in those two; as much as they were trapped within the same system as she, Walter and Birkoff's situations were vastly different from her own. With Duncan, there was something more on her level, an understanding of sorts. It wasn't as though she felt equal to him - something told her Duncan's experience far outreached her own, and she often felt compelled to ask just how old he was. But there was something there that drew them together and she was grateful for it.
These were the warm thoughts on her mind as she entered Section, so it wasn't until she reached the Briefing area that she noticed the lack of activity around her. She stood there for a moment, thinking, then made her way to Comm.
"There a mission loading, Birkoff?"
The young man answered without looking up from his screen. "Does it look like there's a mission loading?" His own words penetrated his brain seconds later and a flash of panic crossed his face as he looked up at Nikita's expression. "Uhh, I mean, um, no, not until we get the uh - the intel on Jossart's broker."
Nikita's expression grew darker, but was directed towards Michael's office and Birkoff breathed a sigh of relief. He grabbed a stick of licorice and returned to his sim. Nikita stalked towards Michael's office and entered it.
"You called?" Her words were short and carefully enunciated.
Michael didn't look up but his fingers paused on the keys. "Yes," was all he answered. He heard Nikita's breathing quicken at his silence and met her eyes. "I needed to ask you a few questions."
Nikita's words came with measured intensity. "Michael, you can't just call me in every time you feel like talking."
He disabled his security as he spoke. "Where were you?"
She gave a short sigh. "Michael. You're not listening."
"Where were you?"
"Michael, with friends."
He rose from his chair, buttoning his coat as he stood at the window, his back to her. "Who?"
"Just ... friends, what does it matter?"
"How did you meet?"
Nikita set her jaw. "Pottery class."
"I don't know -- last month?" She didn't know why she was even indulging this. "Michael, what's this about?"
"Have you run his backround?"
"What do you mean 'his'?" Comprehension dawned and she narrowed her eyes. "You ... followed me." No answer. Fine. She certainly wasn't going to tell him about Tessa now.
"I can't believe you, Michael. You don't own me. We can't be together, you've made that quite clear. If I want to have a relationship, you have no right to be jealous."
He remained silent, his shoulders tensing at the last word. She sighed, exasperated. "Yes, Michael, I ran a backround. Yes, I saw his history. Yes, I saw the police reports. Of course I checked him out."
Nikita grew tired of talking to his back. "I don't care, Michael. He's a good person. He doesn't know anything about Section - and he doesn't ask." She shook her head and left the room.
Michael watched her through the window. She didn't look back.
* * * * * * * * * *
Duncan spotted the black Mercedes behind the building even as he turned onto his street. His back stiffened, but he felt no Buzz as he passed by. Even so, a feeling a relief washed over him when he recalled that Tess was still at the studio. He parked the T-bird and slowly got out, his hand poised inside his jacket. After standing there for several minutes, he finally called out.
"I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Are you going to come out or not?"
The car door slowly opened and a man in black stepped out, the sunlight glinting off of his dark sunglasses. He took his time as he made his way towards Duncan, saying nothing when he finally stood before him.
Michael's eyes swept over Duncan, noting the bulge in his jacket. Finally he raised his gaze to Duncan's and held it unwaveringly, still silent. The man had a guarded look about him and Michael deliberated his next course of action. Taking into account the discerning quality of his opponent's stare, Michael discarded the idea of subterfuge.
"Where did you meet her?"
Duncan raised his eyebrows. "I'm sorry, who are you?"
"What is your relationship with Nikita?"
Duncan smiled. Ahh, the Mystery Man. Finally come round to check him out. And, apparently, afflicted with a touch of jealousy. Well, jealousy could have its uses.
"What makes you think I have one?"
"She was here last night. You met her at the door."
"Did I?" replied Duncan, still amused. "Well, then, you must be right."
Michael regarded the smile suspiciously. "I need to know your connection to her, " he carefully removed his sunglasses, "and why you forged your passport and birth certificate."
Duncan's smile remained, to Michael's discomfort. "Let me guess - you two work together." Michael met his gaze squarely. "I've heard a lot about you. The Mystery Man." That startled the man. A fleeting look of surprise entered Michael's eyes before he could stop it. "I'm honored to finally meet you."
"You've ... heard a lot about me," he repeated, studying him intently.
Duncan grinned, cheerfully silent. Michael grew uncomfortable as the silence grew. "What ... have you heard?"
"Oh, this and that." he shrugged. "There is one thing I'd like to know, though. Your name. Care to provide it?" Michael merely stared back at him. "Didn't think so. Not the sharing type, are you?"
A long minute passed as the each man measured the other.
" 'So, if you won't answer me, and I won't answer you, we are at an impasse.' " Duncan quoted. "Perhaps we should leave names out of the conversation entirely?"
"So," Duncan clapped his hands together. "The infamous Mystery Man. Quite living up to his name. Been wondering how long it would be before you showed up around here."
"How much has she told you?"
"Didn't we go over this?" Duncan's eyes sparkled. "I suggest you ask her yourself." He paused. "Unless, of course, things aren't going so well between you two, as I've heard." Michael's throat constricted. "That's it, isn't it," he commiserated. "Trouble in paradise."
Duncan leaned in. "I'm gonna give you a little piece of advice: Lighten up!" He clapped the Frenchman on the shoulder and was pleased to see him momentarily disconcerted. "Smile at her for once. And for God's sake, speak up. You can barely be heard when you do decide to answer someone."
Michael blinked, trying to pinpoint when he'd lost control of the conversation. "I don't need your advice."
Duncan frowned, his expression turning serious. "But you do. I care very much for Nikita," he watched as Michael looked away once more. "And I want her to be happy. You need to talk to her."
"I did." said Michael shortly, still facing away.
"Right." Duncan looked disbelieving. "What, did you order her to your office? Grill her about me? Refuse to answer her questions? That's not a talk, Mystery Man -- " Michael bristled at the nickname once again. "It's an interrogation."
"Did she say that?" Michael finally asked.
Duncan sighed and gave Michael a long-suffering look.
"Now," he said lightly, rocking back on his heels. "Who's going to tell Nikita about our little chat? I don't really think she'd appreciate hearing it from me, do you?" Duncan raised his eyebrows questioningly. "I'm sure you'll get to it." He took Michael by the elbow and manuevered him towards the Mercedes, heading back to the barge as Michael opened the door.
"Oh, and Mystery Man?"
Michael paused, then took a deliberate half step back, turning towards the voice.
"Forgot to mention it before," Duncan called, "but you really should work on your sense of humor. You know, jokes? Laughter? La Comedie?" He smiled. "Good luck."
Michael nodded, then turned to stare once again into the Seine before driving away.