by Sandra

Operations entered the debriefing room carrying two cups of coffee. He put one down on the table in front of the sole occupant of the table. She looked up, startled to see that someone had joined her. He was pained, but not surprised to see the tears that had pooled in her blue eyes.

Nikita looked down at the coffee cup as if she had never seen one before. Hesitantly, she reached out to pick it up and hold it. She seemed more interested in the warmth radiating from the cup than anything else.

"Nikita, Michael will be all right. I just spoke with Medical, ..." he broke off as the tears finally overflowed, and she began to weep in gratitude and relief. He handed her his handkerchief, and sat down at the table while she regained her composure. Sooner than he had anticipated, she looked over at him, ready to start her report. He held up his hand to stop her before she could start.

"Nikita, I'm afraid I underestimated you, and I want to apologize," he said, smiling slightly at her look of amazement. "I didn't think you would be able to complete your portion of the mission after Michael was taken, and I had already asked Birkoff to begin assembling another team, when you called in with the data."

"Thank you, sir," Nikita replied huskily. She closed her eyes again as the nightmare of the last few hours replayed itself again in her mind. She had almost lost him this time; Red Cell had given her no choice -- Michael or a building full of innocents. "There was nothing else I could do -- I promised Michael."


"... to love, honor, and obey." Her mouth quirked up in a smile at the startled look that Operations gave her. "My marriage vows."

"I recognize the phrase," he replied drily. "What do your marriage vows have to do with preventing a building from being blown up? Did Michael order you to leave him?"

"He didn't have to," she said contemplatively.

"Then ...?" She looked over at Operations, and he stiffened a little at the assessing look on her face. Something in his face must have reassured her because she relaxed and began sipping her coffee. After a few more moments of surprisingly comfortable silence, she spoke.

"'Love' and 'obey' are pretty straightforward, but have you ever thought about what 'to honor' means?" At his blank look, she continued, looking off into space at something only she could see, "Michael would willingly give his life so that those innocents would live. To honor Michael, I must respect his honor -- I could do no less than he would have done."

Operations looked at the deceptively-fragile woman before him. Once again, she had humbled him. Knowing there was nothing further he could say, he squeezed her shoulder briefly, and left.