Hope is your survival

A captive path I lead

No matter where you go

I will find you

If it takes a long long time

No matter where you go

I will find you

If it takes a thousand years

No matter where we go

I will find you

In a place with no frontiers

No matter where you go

I will find you

If it takes a thousand years

No matter where you go

I will find you

If it takes a long time

No matter where you go

I will find you

If it takes a thousand years

No matter where you go

I will find you

In a place with no frontiers

No matter where you go

I will find you

If it takes a thousand years

No matter where you go

I will find you – Clannad, I Will Find You – Last of the Mohicans

Heart in my throat, I say goodbye to the one woman that I have been in love with for almost seven years. Hearing her whispered, "I love you" almost makes me break down, but instead I choke out the words I've withheld from her out of some stupid sense of self-preservation. "I love you, too." I cannot see her eyes and selfish though it may be, I'm glad. I think if I looked into her blue eyes filled with pain that I might not be able to go through with this. And I must. There really is no alternative. Adam needs me, his father. No matter how much I want to be with Nikita. I tell her that there will be a time when Adam doesn't need me. We cling to each other, hands grasping and holding as long as we can, trying to keep each other close, even if it is for a few moments longer. Finally, there is no more time left and I forcefully let go. I can feel her fingers trying to hold on and suddenly I am fighting back tears, face turned away from her anguish. I take Adam's hand in mine and we walk down the train station. Not once do I look back. My face blank, back straight as a rod, muscles tense, and eyes bleak, I walk away from the woman who had reawakened my heart and taught me to love again.

God, after everything we have been through, Madeline and Operations' machinations, Red Cell, Glass Curtain, the pain, the betrayal, we don't even get the dream we whispered about in the dead of night. Our hope. Our dream to someday leave Section and start a family. It has been ripped away from us by some cruel twist of fate. I glance down at my son and he gives me a tentative smile, happy to be with his father. At least I have Adam. Nikita has no one to soothe her heart. Adam will help me get through the days and nights before I can be with her again. I love my son and right now being with me is what is best for him. And me. But someday I will return to her. I did not lie to her about that, though I suspect she may not have believed me. Adam has my love, but Nikita will always have my heart, my devotion, my soul. She is everything in me.

To have made that choice between Adam and her father must have been utter hell, but I thank her for it. Even as I held my son in my arms, I heard the rapid fire of gunshots, and the knowledge of what she had truly sacrificed was brought heavily onto my shoulders. For almost her entire life Nikita had been looking for her father, seeking support, acceptance, and love. Just when she'd found it, it was ripped from her. But I think, when she looked into my eyes on the bridge, she realized that although we'd try–I'd try–our love would have withered and died if she had chosen her father, her freedom. And here we are, Adam and I, about to take a train to England, where we would board a plane bound for the States. I was wrenched out of my musings by a porter about to collect our luggage and load it onto the train. iNo./I Making a split second decision, I stop the porter and take the luggage back. I need to see her one last time. I know that doing so will only prolong the agony, but I can't. I need to say goodbye, again, to see her. I need to know she'll be all right. Nikita is strong, but if this is tearing me apart, then it must be killing her.

I rent a Civic at the rental agency and drive myself and Adam around town. I check her apartment, but it is bare. Empty of her touch. Trying to get into Section is suicide and I don't think she'd go there. Not right away anyway. Pulling off the side of the road, I close my eyes and remember. The last five years run through my heard in rapid succession as I try to figure out where she might be. The loft. Our loft. Our home, I think as my eyes snap open and I turn on the car and squeal out. The loft became our refuge, our quiet place. It was the place we went when we wanted to be alone together. There I could turn off the surveillance for hours at a time as was my privilege. Operations didn't like it, but he didn't object either. It was a bit of consolation prize for all the 'hard work' I'd accomplished. There we had laughed, cried, sat in silence, and made love. It was a bit of heaven in the hell we'd found ourselves in.

After twenty minutes of hard, fast driving to reach our loft, I am there. I stop and turn off the car and look up at the home where Nikita and I made so many beautiful memories. "Adam, stay here. Papa will be right back," I tell my son before getting out of the car. Nikita's Porsche greets me and touch the hood briefly. It is cool and tells me that she has been here for a while. I circle the apartment, crouching under the windows and every now and again glancing through, looking for her. Looking in at the house that was once a home brings a wave of fresh pain as memories rush over me. Nights spent cuddling on the sofa watching one of Nikita's sappy movies, 'chick flicks,' as she called them. Cooking dinner for us. Teaching her how to cook some of my favorite foods. Learning each other's habits, quirks. Holding her as she cried the night after she met her mother for the last time, listening to her talk about her memories, the good and the bad.

I reach our bedroom. Before Nikita, my apartment had been just that: a space to sleep, a place to cook and eat. There had been no joy in this house after Simone died. And then this whirlwind of a recruit came in, changed my life, turned everything I had believed in upside down, and made me fall in love with her. I don't know where or when exactly it happened, but it did. I fell in love. Something I had told myself would never happen again. But this time it was different. I had loved Simone. But with Nikita it went deeper than love, deeper than affection. I fell in love. And that changed something in me, irrevocably.

I cautiously glance in the window. I found her crying, sobbing, the tears running unchecked from closed eyelids. My sweatshirt is clutched in her arms, as if she is trying to hold on to me. Words are torn from her throat and I can make out my name as she sobs it. She misses me already. It hasn't been even two hours since the train station. Tears traitorously burn down my cheeks. I had promised myself that I would not cry and here I am. It takes everything in me not to go inside and take her into my arms. Offer whatever comfort I could. Because there is none. Nothing could take this pain away from her. From either of us. Except me coming back. And I can't, not until Adam is an adult. Every cell in my body is crying out for Nikita, but I ruthlessly tamp it down. To go to her would only bring about more pain, more hell than what she is already going through. Non.

After a few hours of tears and pain, Nikita wraps our blanket around herself and falls asleep, still clutching my sweater and slightly rocking. All the tears and anguish have left her exhausted and so she sleeps. Something keeps me rooted to this spot, unable to leave, even with my son waiting in the car. I will have the rest of his life with him. All I want is a few more precious hours with Nikita. She doesn't sleep long, but in that small span of time, a thousand and one memories play in my mind like a never-ending story. Moments of love and laughter, hopes and dreams.

Nikita finished blow-drying my hair and ran her fingers through the short locks. It had always been a secret fascination for her, or so she thought. But I knew, and I indulged it because it felt good. Her touch was like a balm to my soul and the feel of her nails lightly scraping at my scalp never failed to elicit a languid arousal. But tonight was not the night for lovemaking, I thought. There were important things I believe she wanted to discuss.

"Michael, if you could have anything, what would it be?"

"What do you mean?" I knew exactly what she meant, but I gave myself some time to think of a reply.

"What are your dreams? What do you want more than anything in this world?" Nikita asks me as she turned to face me and looped her arms around my neck. We were on the bed and a fire crackled in the background, highlighting her face and making her blue eyes glow.

"You. Adam. Outside of Section. Away from everything we know now," I said simply.

"That's it? No house with a white picket fence and backyard. No poodle?" she teased.

"As long as you're there, I don't care where we live or how. All I need is you and my son."

Nikita said nothing for a long moment; she looked into my eyes tentatively and I saw apprehension in their depths. "And . . . maybe we could have children of our own?" she asked quietly, hesitantly, ducking her head. Something moved in my chest and suddenly I couldn't breathe. To give voice to that sweet, often thought about, but impossible dream was almost unbearable. It was impossible, but to hear her say that she wanted my children made me love her even more, if that was possible. Unable to talk, I pressed a soft kiss into her lips in reply. Yes.

For years now, children had been an topic not often discussed, but always present. The thought of Nikita pregnant with my child has always filled me with equal parts joy and terror. Terror because of the thought of the kind of hell Madeline and Operations would have wreaked on us had we had a child. Undescribable joy because I loved Nikita and any child we created would be brought into this world born of that love. A small part of me and her. The ultimate expression of our devotion.

Movement under the covers makes me come out of that soft memory. Nikita's face turns to me. I hungrily take in the flushed cheeks and tear tracks that mar her beautiful face. She had come here to be near me and to grieve, as I did, for what we had lost. We had come so close to the rainbow, close enough to touch it and feel the radiance. Only to have it rudely and suddenly snatched away from us. Once again I was reminded of my son waiting patiently in the car, waiting for his father. And that thought brought me back to the reason I was here. I had needed to see her, yes, but to also see that she was all right. That she would get through this. She had had her time to grieve and now it was time for her to go back to Section. To start her new life. Nikita. Wake up, Nikita, I thought. As if she heard me, she whispered, "Michael?"

Wake up, baby. You've got a job to do. Section One needs you. Wake up, baby, dry your eyes and go to work. Do what you and I would have done had we been given the reigns. I love you, my heart whispers.

Nikita awakens and as she does, it sinks in all over again. I'm gone. And a sharp flash of pain darkens her face and then it is gone. Her resolve strengthens and she struggles to pull herself together. I watch as she takes a shower and dons a black pin-striped suit. She is going to Section to assume her role as Operations. As it should be. Nikita has a new life now. On a different path than my own and she must embrace it, as I will mine. For the last time, I say goodbye to the woman who has held my heart in her hands for the last seven years. I don't call out. I don't say it aloud, but inside, deep inside, my heart says goodbye.

I briefly touch the glass where not three inches beyond is the love of my life. I slowly walk away and back to the car. Adam is asleep, but awakens when I open the door and start the Civic. My hands start to tremble as I place them on the steering wheel and soon I cannot breathe, taking deep breaths to fill my starved lungs. Up until now my tears had been somewhat contained, but it hits me unbelievably hard just what I am about to do. For the next twenty years or so, I will leave. I will not see, touch, hear, or smell Nikita. I won't see her beautiful face, make love to her heart and body, hear her soft husky laughter, or smell that delicate scent I always associated with her. There have been exactly five moments in my life that I have cried: the death of my parents, Simone's death, Adam's birth, losing him to the mission, and now. Sobs take over my frame and I cannot control the outbreak. My pain has finally found an outlet for what has been building since Nikita made her choice. Adam crawls over the seat and into my arms to try to consol me. After long moments, I regain some semblance of control and place Adam back into the passenger seat in the back. Somehow, he senses not to ask questions and accepts my outburst. My loss.

Nikita will be leaving soon and I cannot be here when she exits our home to go back to Section. Section. She has a job to do now and she will be fine. I have taught her well and she is ready for this position. She will be out of the field. I take some small semblance of comfort from the thought of her being out of danger. Adam reaches over and touches my cheek. At once I am grounded. Reminded.

Adam.

I have my son to think of now. I close my eyes for a brief moment and reopen them. Take a deep breath. Nikita will be fine. Adam needs me now. I love you, always, I think. Someday, when Adam doesn't need me anymore, I will return to you. I promise. Because to do anything otherwise would deny me my soul. Take another deep breathe. In. Out. With one last look at the woman I have lost, I turn back to the son I have gained. I back out of the driveway and turn in the opposite direction of Section. Someday. I will come back. Someday.