Disclaimer: Don't own any of it and this is just for fun. Major spoilers for Season 4 finale and Season 5.

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Michael calculated the risks of his next move, like he calculated everything since his death to the Section. It was only a matter of time, he knew, before Operations had enough time on his hands to discover that he hadn't died that day. He was most likely already poking around, looking for proof, enlisting whomever he could. Operations had many reasons for doing it that Michael understood, Madeline's suicide being the primary one. It would also cast doubt on Nikita's loyalty to Center and to the Section, which would give him more power than he had at present. Anyone who had wielded power to the degree that Operations had couldn't live without it very easily, especially since it had been torn from him by the one person that he had underestimated the most, Nikita.

Not that Operations had been alone in this, clearly he himself had underestimated her as well. When he'd first heard the whispering around section as he walked down to the interrogation room he didn't believe it. Evaluation time. Madeline had committed suicide? Walter sent to the farm? His Nikita, alive, and playing both sides? Impossible, so he'd thought. He'd never seen it coming, never suspected the truth, and it was this that had surprised him the most. All the times he had been lying to her and felt badly about it, she had been lying to him as well...and had it ever been a doozy. He still found it hard to believe. His material, his Nikita, leading two lives. It wasn't hard to figure out her motives but he hadn't realized just how much like him she had become. There weren't words that existed that could explain the emotions it had stirred in him that with all they had been through together, all they had conquered, that it had come to this. Why couldn't she have just told him?

He remembered the thoughts going through his head as she had tried to put a positive twist on his disloyalty to Section, sitting there behind that glass. So unlike the glass they had held their hands against just hours before. Was that his own blank stare he saw on her face? He didn't know this Nikita, didn't recognize her from the woman he'd been driving with just a day ago. Had he ever really known her at all? Would they deny him even this? This small piece of sanity in an insane world. Hadn't he given them everything up to this point? Did they have to take her too? It was then that he had spoken. He could bring up the pained look in her eyes, a brief flash, as he signed his own death warrant. The words echoed in there, sitting in the space between them, reverberating. There was no turning back anymore.

"That's not true. I betrayed Section. I put your well being above everything else."

He was only slightly sorry that he'd left her no choice and even this sorrow stemmed only from the pain he knew she would have to endure once he was gone. He had been there...he knew that particular heartache. He would have spared her it if he could have but, like her, it was out of his reach. His final thought as she decreed his fate was that if this was how it was all to end, it would not end without the truth between them. It would not end without her being unable to deny that what had been between them had been real. She had always wanted the answer to that question back when he had been unable to give it. Unable because their reality was so convoluted and the path twisted back on itself so often that it was hard to distinguish between what was real and what was Section and he knew that mere words wouldn't really have given her what she desired. Well no more, here he was and the only thing that didn't surprise him was that everything was crystal clear when you had nowhere left to go. Of course he couldn't have known at that moment that this was not how it was all going to end.

Michael closed his eyes briefly. It seemed so long ago already. Operations was still alive and everyone thought Michael was dead, except Nikita of course. It put Nikita in a precarious position since all those who knew her, respected her before, would now be wary. Who would she turn to in moments of need? Who would protect her now that he was no longer able? All these new questions haunted him and yet he couldn't allow himself to worry about Nikita at this present moment. He had to trust that he trained her well enough for her to know that she needed to watch her back, well enough to know that Paul was a danger to her and to the Section still. Trust! He ran his hand through his now long unruly locks. When had that become so easy to him? Since your own death, he told himself. Still, he couldn't afford any clink in his emotional armor right now. If trust was what it took he would dig it out from somewhere in himself, deep and buried, where he'd put it away from prying curious eyes that would have taken advantage of it in the past. Nikita had survived this long and through much worse. She would survive a little longer. She had to. Anyone who tried to change that would have to beg him for mercy, only to find that he had none. Had they shown Simone any mercy? Or Elena? No, he had nothing to give them on that count anymore.

He would need her trust in the coming days as well. Would she understand that he had no choice in his methods? Was it possible that she would be able to trust him implicitly? He sighed as he went over the intel one more time that he'd intercepted from the Collective. He couldn't afford even the slightest slip. One slip could mean Adam in the hands of Section or worse. One slip could put Nikita in jeopardy. Of all the missions he had ever profiled this was proving the most difficult. His own death meant nothing to him except for the fact that it would mean that Adam would be left with no one to watch him over. No one to keep the demons away...and Michael knew full well just how real those demons were. Of course there was always Nikita, but armed with the knowledge of her role as center mole, he didn't know if he could trust her with Adam. He thought about this even as he said it inside his own head...no, that was wrong. He could trust her. He just couldn't trust the position she was in.

He thought back to the day only months ago when she had saved his life, the same day she had told him that she didn't love him, that she had never loved him. Until that moment he hadn't realized just how much he had depended on the constancy of Nikita's love for him. As he had pushed his knife into his own skin under his eye he had felt no physical pain, only the sensation that she had ripped his heart out and was squeezing it within her fist that was clenched hard against her hip. He would swear that he had seen drops of blood, his blood, seep from between those strong fingers of hers. He could never be certain though because he had never broken eye contact with her, willing her to break her own lie in two. She had not. He hadn't believed her, even then, but hearing the words pass over her lips had hurt enough. That she had been protecting him, he was certain of. Hadn't he committed similar crimes to protect her? Thinking back he realized that he had lost count of how many times he had lied to her just to keep her alive. They had both lied, would lie again. It was a part of who they were...who Section had made them become. He could not fault her for it. Maybe one day they would be free from the lies but not today.

So he calculated, worked tirelessly to formulate a plan that would reunite him with the two people he could not, would not, live without. Adam and Nikita. It had become his mantra, the first thing from his lips in the morning and the last vision behind his eyes at night. He would find a way. Hadn't he promised Nikita that so long ago? Yes, he would keep that promise. So many things he could never give her but finally maybe this was within his power. It would not be easy. But then he couldn't remember what easy felt like and knew with a certainty that it would not suit either of them anymore anyway. No matter...he had told her not long ago that there would be another day...that day had arrived.