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Boiling Point

Walking down the darkened halls, everything seemed even quieter than usual tonight. He noticed the perch was darkened. Neither Operations or Madeline's voice was coursing through the Section's speakers like usual. No missions were running. The operatives on this level had gone to their homes.

Yet there was still a dim light in Systems.

At first, Michael assumed it was Birkoff, up late again playing his computer games as was usual. And then it clicked. He remembered. There wasn't a Birkoff anymore. He had died today. He'd never be the crazy insomniac playing games after hours again.

But someone was at his desk. A figure, drenched in shadow, was sitting at his chair. Feet propped up on the desk. He went in to Systems to investigate, having a good idea already who it was.

This guess was right. He knew Nikita wouldn't be sleeping tonight. But he had assumed she'd mourn in the comforts of her home, as far from Section as she could get tonight. Instead, she was at Birkoff's familiar dwelling place. With tears drying on her cheeks. Her hair was frizzy and wild looking.

But her eyes, it sent a ripple of fear down his back. Instead of the grief-stricken look he had assumed he'd find, he saw blue eyes, void of emotion. Like two ocean abysses. Nothing there to be found.

She swallowed hard before meeting his curious gaze. Despite what his eyes told him, he knew her. And he knew, deep down, she was hurting badly.

He quickly took in his surroundings, ensuring there was no one about, then knelt beside her. Taking her hand in both of his, he brushed his lips gently against her knuckles, staring up at her.

She looked away. Closed her eyes. Her pain showed in the hunched position of her body, cradled in the chair. In the weakness of her arm. She was worn out, and not just physically.

"Ni-ki-ta?" He asked her in his softest voice, afraid she might crack too quickly if he was any louder than a whisper.

Her eyes closed tighter, squeezing out another tear or two. "I thought of him like my little brother." Her words were so soft, he had difficulty hearing them. "I cared for him so much. But it seems...it seems all the ones I love keep disappearing. Everyone keeps leaving me sooner or later."

Michael turned his face away, closing his eyes in his own pain. He knew that he too, had caused her to be a victim of the hurt she was feeling. Looking back at her, he took her hand again and kissed her fingertips, hoping to see any sign of hope in those strangely cold eyes.

But when she looked at him, it scared him more. Not a man who knew fear on a daily basis, this welling emotion in his chest took him by surprise just as much as Nikita's gaze did.

Her hand slipped out of his. She seemed to pull back in to herself, distancing and closing herself off to him. To everyone.

"How can you not be furious? How can you take this abuse, day after day?" Her words were as cold as ice, her own fury spitting forth.

Not good, Michael confirmed in his mind. Not good at all.

"You've lived here for so long. A full decade. And you sit there, so calm. You've seen every trick that Section has pulled..."

"Section didn't do this." He whispered carefully, trying to remind her.

She didn't hear. "I haven't been here for half that time, and yet I'm succumbed to this anger. I finally see. I see it for sure."

Her voice trailed off, leaving Michael guessing. "What do you see?"

Though her eyes had roamed the length of the room while previously speaking, she locked gazes with him again. "The future. My future. This place is going to kill us all, Michael. It doesn't just take the terrorists out of this world. It's mission is to kill us as well. The bad guys aren't enough for them. We've been trapped. There's no way out. And it's going to slowly kill each one of us." Her breath was shaky with passion for her words. "We don't stand a chance."

With her thought spoken aloud, she allowed her grief to wash over her, the tears starting to pour down her face again, her thoughts once again returning to Section's most recent death.

He knew that he should counter her words. To comfort her with something soothing. To give her hope. But her words had struck something deep inside him. It struck the truth. and as much as he wanted to give it to her, there was no hope to hand out.

He took her in to his lap and wrapped his arms firmly around her. He sat there, in the dark of a hopeless prison, with his love in his lap, drowning him in the cold hard facts of reality. The anger had finally reached a boiling point in Nikita. She questioned how he couldn't feel it.

He couldn't let her know. He couldn't destroy the last ray of hope that she, being the person he knew her to be,still kept deep inside her.

His anger had welled over long ago. He had come to realize Section for what it would make him become before slaying him. But he had managed to bury it deep, deep down, only to remember it at times like these.

The despairing angel in his arms had found out what he had when his baby he had with Simone had died. He could only hope, yes hope, that it didn't scar her soul so badly as it did him. He didn't know if he could bear having her shattered as wholly as he still was.

As he always would be. And continued to worsen with each day that went by. Closing his eyes, he gently kissed her temple and laid his cheek upon the top of her head. He had left her in the dark many times before. Like it or not, he had helped Section bring her to this current broken-winged form of her. But he'd help to make it up to her, starting now. He'd stay here with her to ride out this wave of sorrow.

-K.S.-