It began with one of Percy's black boxes.

"Give me the box, Michael," came the whisper behind him.

After being shot in the alley that time, Michael learned, or at least attempted, to not let his guard down around his former protégé, Nikita. But these were no ordinary circumstances, so Michael did what came naturally to him, and outright ignored her-in such a way that left his back open and vulnerable.

Footsteps, however light, were moving towards them. There were more of them now. Quite possibly more than they could handle.

Although Michael seemed busy calculating the odds, his hand caught hers before she could reach into his jacket. He frowned when Nikita smiled impishly at him, shrugging off her failed maneuver.

"Don't," he hissed at her, trying to impress upon her the seriousness of their current situation.

Another set of footsteps, louder this time. There were also the click-clacks of AK-47s being poised and readied. They weren't even trying for the element of surprise anymore. And on cue, came the voice of the Russian leader.

"It is time to come out, my dear friends, you have no where left to go," came a loud heavily accented mockery of an entreaty, "If you give me the black box, perhaps I will be merciful."

Michael fought the urge to roll his eyes even as he tightened his grip on his SIG-Sauer P220. Backup from Division would be arriving soon, but not soon enough. He and Nikita were all that stood between a brigade of heavily armed Russian mercenaries and the secrets that could bring down the US government. Percy's foolproof self-serving plan was becoming a clusterfuck for all ages.

"Give me the box, Michael!"

"Do you know something I don't?" Because right now, the only way they could get out of this was via body bags. Who was he kidding, they'd simply be cleaned away by Roan.

Nikita evaded his question but replied in all seriousness, her dark eyes gazing straight into his, "You'll think of something."

In that moment he felt elated. Even with all the adrenaline pumping in his system, her words were like a rush of pure energy, shot right into his veins. He tried to school the smile, however small, that was on his face, but that was even more impossible than getting out of this building alive. It was almost enough to make him give her the box and everything it would entail.

"Will I?" It was as if they were back in training, dancing around each other, his arms open, waiting, inviting.

Something in his expression made Nikita draw back, her eyes somehow looking at him and avoiding him at the same time. It brought him clarity, whenever she did that. It was the same feeling as when she fell in love with Daniel and when she left without another word for three whole years.

Nikita was the one that always had a plan.

Before his face could form into a frown, the corridor they'd just exited exploded in flames, taking down half of the men. It was the distraction they needed. Guns blazing, they headed toward the blown makeshift exit, ducking debris, bullets, and the occasional fists.

They were almost in the clear, when he saw the gun sight on her, a stark red dot against her black jacket. It was almost identical to the time she kidnapped Victor Han. Only this time, he wasn't the one holding the gun.

Nikita was already trying to figure out how she could get the box away from Michael when she sensed, not so much as saw, a target on her. In the same way, she knew it was too late for her to move. But just as she was bracing herself, somehow Michael was now in front of her.

The shot was quieter than she thought it would be. His blood was much louder as they splattered across her face.