Standard disclaimer applies.

I'm so glad to see new reviewers and I totally appreciate all your lovely comments.

The second half of this chapter is slightly fluffy but I had to lighten it up a bit and try to figure out how a young Adam might deal with um, situations, and the fact of who he is.

A few weeks later - In the Tower

"What do you mean the communication came from inside Section??" Nikita asked Michael, her surprise evident.

"Exactly what I said, the communication to shoot down Mr. Jones plane came from somewhere inside Section. So far all evidence points to Center. I made them triple check it and backtrack it to the source."

Nikita leaned back in her chair, hands behind her head, and closed her eyes.

It didn't make any sense. If Center had wanted Mr. Jones out of the picture all they had to do was cancel him. It would have been much simpler to just manufacture some damning piece of evidence against him that violated the Charter. There was no reason for them to make such a spectacle out of it. Since when did Center need a reason…because it was never about need, it was all about the end game.

She only wished that she felt more surprised than she was.

"It just doesn't make sense. Why go to all that trouble?"

Michael watched her brain click away at the facts, waiting for her to come to the same conclusions that he had. He picked up his wine glass and took a sip.

Opening her eyes, she looked into his.

"Center wants something…something that Mr. Jones was clearly inhibiting…but they don't want the internal stir up that cancelling him would have caused. And it's much more appealing to heat up the outside world on it and give the Sections a wild goose chase to go after. Then this keeps the Sections busy and looking anywhere but where they should be…never knowing that they should be watching their own backs."

It also offered some slight explanation for why they hadn't replaced Mr. Jones yet – clearly it had something to do with their plan, Nikita thought.

"My thoughts exactly." Michael responded, pleased as usual that they were always so in tune.

Nikita shook her head, disgusted.

"It's not enough to lie to them but they have to lie to us too…" She said quietly, remembering another time, another place, where she'd said the same thing. Alec Chandler…the slaver…some missions, like that one, became permanently tattooed into memory.

"So why did it take us this long to figure this out?" She asked.

"Data encryption worthy of Birkhoff. The techs haven't seen something this sophisticated ever. It would seem that they definitely did not want this being discovered. They seem to forget that they trained us to be better than they are."

"What next Michael? We've now been operating blind on this for months. What else could be going on that we don't know about?"

She had just voiced Michael's most serious concern and the portion of the conversation that he had not been looking forward to.

"We don't know yet…but something is going on. As they were cracking the encryption they came across some extensive current chatter. Something is going to happen and it doesn't seem like we will have to wait too much longer until it does."

Nikita sat up abruptly in her chair, leaning forward, eyes blazing.

"Something as in WHAT Michael? Adam, we have to keep him safe! This should have been the first thing you told me!"

He reached across to take her hand in his, rubbing his fingers over her palm, loving how her protective instincts were so strong and natural. He knew she wasn't angry with him, knew that she was just angry at Center and Section and just tired of the games that never seemed to end. Just as they both knew that they would keep their family safe no matter what Center had planned.

"We don't know what Nikita or it would have been the first thing I told you. For now…we wait."

She held his hand tighter, unable to shake the feeling that slowly but surely they were approaching zero.

"We wait."

In the Weapons Practice area

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

Hope tried not to let her nervousness show but firing a gun wasn't exactly something she'd learned in Home Economics. She glanced over at Adam as she pushed the button to bring her target sheet in.

He smiled at her – that smile of his that made it impossible for her to hate everything about this place.

Adam pulled the large sheet off the clips and regarded it, making a bigger effort than he needed to in order to review it.

He wasn't her trainer after all…he was just helping her get more comfortable, more adapted to life in Section. At least that was his story if anyone asked.

"Good work. 2 shots to the head, 3 in the chest and one in the…umm….groin."

He winced visibly.

"Don't worry Adam – your family jewels are safe from me." She told him and winked.

That hadn't come out exactly how she'd wanted…and she couldn't keep the slight blush out of her cheeks. Damn that light skin of hers!

Adam replaced his wince with a grin noticing the pink rising to the surface. "Umm, thanks, I think."

Truthfully, he wasn't sure that he wanted his "family jewels" as she so put it "safe" from him and he couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed. This was probably her way of telling him that she wasn't interested…which left him feeling well, kind of empty and a bit sad. And even though Operatives weren't supposed to get involved with each other…given his father's situation it clearly happened…he'd begun to hope that maybe something might be building here.

"Anytime golden boy." She remarked as she turned away, slid her goggles back down and loaded another clip into the gun.

Golden boy?? Adam thought. What the heck was that about? Was it because of who he was that she wasn't interested? Hmm…he'd have to figure that out.

Adam turned back to watch her unload the clip again, enjoying the way her short pigtails bounced with each shot. He'd have to thank Walter later for suggesting that he help her out with target practice.

He may be the golden boy but that didn't mean he was off limits…or did it?