"Great," Michael crossed his arms, "Now we have a dead body on our hands."
"I'll take care of it," Owen said dismissively, "Besides, what's a dead body to you? Just one of many, I'm sure."
Before Michael could retaliate, Nikita touched his arm in a calming gesture. "Listen, I thought you said Division killed Nathalia and her husband?"
"Well, I thought they did."
Owen scoffed, "Um, hello...Nathalia was keeping the black box safe! There's no way in hell Division would get rid of either her or her husband."
"Her husband," Nikita murmured, "The ambassador. They were a team, weren't they? Which means that he would be in this hotel, too…" She knelt down and patted down Nathalia's pockets until she found her room key. "Room 212…think the ambassador would know where Alex is?"
Michael was already running out the door. He leapt down the stairs, ignoring Nikita and Owen who were both chasing after him. As soon as he flung the staircase door open for the second floor, he heard a gunshot. He froze momentarily, coming to life only when Nikita grabbed his arm and continued running towards down the hallway. They both kicked 212's door open at the same time, and Michael looked wildly around the room.
The first thing he saw was a dead body on the ground.
The second thing he noticed was that the body belonged to the ambassador.
Michael immediately looked up to see Alex, holding a gun straight at the ambassador's corpse. Her eyes were wide, her face pale, her arms shaking. But her voice was strong when she spoke flatly, "He's dead."
"Alex," Nikita immediately hurried over to her and took the gun out of her hands. Michael watched as Nikita murmured soothing words as she led Alex to a chair in the corner of the room.
"What the hell happened?" Michael asked, his eyes probing Alex. "Did he come to your room? Why didn't you call for help?"
Alex shook her head slowly. "I went downstairs to get ice and…" she rubbed her neck subconsciously, "I don't know what happened."
Nikita frowned, leaning forward to examine Alex's neck. "A puncture mark," she informed Michael, "The ambassador must have injected you with something to make you unconscious so he could bring you to his room. What did he want? How did you get that gun?"
"It's his gun," Alex said haltingly, "I…we fought—and I gained the upper hand, so I…grabbed his gun. Then I…shot him."
"It's okay," Nikita said softly, "You did good. Gold star."
Michael raised his eyebrows at her choice in words, and knelt before Alex. He took one of her hands within his own and stroked it gently, "You did a good thing, Alex. These people were dangerous, and they needed to be stopped."
"I thought Division stopped them," Alex bit out, her eyes suspicious. "Isn't that what you said?"
"Aha!" Owen grinned as he opened the ambassador's briefcase and pulled out a sleek, black box. "I knew I'd be able to find it eventually."
Michael took half a step towards him, but Nikita beat him to it. She grabbed the box and promptly smashed it on the floor, crushing it with her heel for good measure. Michael stared at her in disbelief, but she only shrugged. "What did you think was going to happen?"
"There you guys are!" Birkhoff wheezed as he ran into the room. His eyes widened when he caught sight of the ambassador's dead body on the floor. "Whoa, what happened here?"
"Alex graduated to field agent," Michael said when no one spoke, and Alex exchanged a quick look with Nikita. "Now, Owen, you said you'd be able to get rid of the bodies?"
Owen nodded, "Yeah, don't worry about it. We'll take care of the bodies and get out of here by tonight—"
"No," Nikita interrupted, "We're staying."
"We have to stay," Nikita repeated firmly, her hands on her hips as she faced Owen. "Just until tomorrow."
Michael caught the glance she sent in his direction and he frowned, "Nikita, I didn't ask for your help."
She smiled slightly in acknowledgement, "That's why I'm staying."
"So," Alex surveyed the grand hall, "This is what a peace conference looks like." Her gaze flicked across the room, "A lot of suits and their pretty wives."
Michael hid a grin as he handed Alex a drink. "Actually, no. The actual conference isn't quite as interesting as this. The dinner party gives us a chance to meet some of the other delegates...and what are most likely their pretty mistresses."
Alex smiled back at him, but he noticed the smile didn't reach her eyes. "I'm fine," she said before he got a chance to ask, "Really."
Michael studied her carefully before lowering his voice, "The ambassador and his wife needed to be dealt with, Alex. I don't know how they got to Russia, or how they knew we were here, but..."
She looked at him incredulously, "You can't be serious...Obviously they're here because Percy sent them here!"
"It doesn't make sense," Michael frowned as he looked across the hall. His gaze landed on Nikita and Owen, who were dancing on the other side of the room. He didn't know whose identities they had stolen for the evening, but he was impressed.
"What about it doesn't make sense?" Alex snapped, "Amanda set me up to fail that last mission, and now she's..."
"It's not like that," Michael said sharply. He looked away, "It can't be like that."
Alex fell silent, examining his expression. "Come on," she held her hand out to him with a small smile, "Dance with me?"
He raised an eyebrow questioningly, but she didn't say anything else. "Sure," he placed a hand on her back as he led her through the crowd of dancing couples. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he moved them in a circle, his eyes open for any appearance of Kasim. "Did I mention you look absolutely exquisite tonight?"
"Thank you," Alex smiled slightly as she looked down at her shimmering, gold dress. They danced in silence for a while before Alex admitted quietly, "I feel different now. After last night..."
"Everyone feels different after their first kill," Michael murmured, "Don't worry, you get used to it."
Alex frowned at his words and bit back her initial response. I don't want to get used to it.
Suddenly, Michael's earpiece crackled and he raised a hand to his ear. "Nikita?" He looked towards the corner he had last seen Owen and Nikita dancing, but they were no longer there. "Dammit," he muttered, "Nikita? Where are you?"
Alex frowned, "What's going on? What happened?"
He looked tense, "I don't know." He switched channels, "Birkhoff? Can you hear me?"
"Michael," Birkhoff's voice sounded strained, "I've lost visual on the hotel. Something's interfering with my firewall..."
"More like someone," Michael snapped, "Work around them! I need to go find Nikita...I lost communication with her—" He began walking back towards the drinks table, dragging Alex with him. "Listen to me. I want you to stay here," he commanded, "You'll be safe."
"Wait, I'll come with you!" Alex protested, but Michael was already backing away. He shook his head at her once and disappeared into the crowd.
Alex scowled as she stared after him; she really wasn't one to wait on the sidelines. She had just made up her mind to follow him anyway, when she felt something cold press against her back. Sucking in a startled gasp, Alex turned her head slightly to the left.
A waiter stood behind her, holding a platter high above her head in one hand. His other hand, no doubt, held the gun against her skin. "Keep smiling," he instructed in a low voice, "And start walking. Make any sudden movements, and you'll get a bullet through your spine. Got it?"
"Who are you?" Alex hissed, but he only jabbed the gun harder. "Alright, alright, I'm going," she muttered. She began walking forward as he pushed her in a straight path across the the hall. No one spared them a second glance, and Alex swallowed nervously when he led them into the kitchens.
Here, it was a different story. All the staff openly leered at her as the waiter made them keep walking towards the door on the other side. Alex stopped, knowing there was no hope if they ended up outside the hotel. "Where are we going?"
"Ask one more question and I'll blow your pretty little head off," he growled, "Keep walking."
One of the other waiters suddenly stepped in their path, and Alex looked up at him hopefully. Unfortunately, he didn't seem interested in saving her. Instead, he grabbed her chin roughly and forced her head to the side. "She's wearing an earpiece, you idiot! How could you have missed that?"
Alex gasped as he wrenched the piece out of her ear and tossed into the sink, while the waiter behind her stammered his apologies. "I'm sorry, sir. I d-didn't expect..."
"Of course you didn't," he sneered, "Just take her through the back door and hope she didn't have time to alert anyone, you fool."
"Yes sir," the waiter responded quickly and gave Alex a shove. She winced as he pushed her out the door into the cool night air. Alex didn't recognize where she was, but assumed he had brought her out to the alley behind the hotel.
It was completely deserted.
"What now?" Alex asked, keeping still. "Are you going to tell me who you are?"
The waiter didn't respond, but suddenly she heard footsteps coming towards them. She looked towards the right and saw a man walking in their direction. She squinted, but his face remained in the shadows. "Good job," he spoke in an accented voice. "Were you followed?"
"No. She was alone."
The man nodded and walked closer. The shadows shifted and Alex's eyes widened. She might not have ever met him before, but she had memorized his picture.
"I see by your expression that you know who I am," Kasim greeted her, keeping his voice pleasant. "Well, you should be happy to know that I know who you are too, Alex."
She took in a shaky breath, "How do you know my name?"
"I was told what to expect when I was sent here," Kasim replied carelessly, "You are here with two others from Division, yes?"
"What do you mean you were sent here?" Alex asked, deflecting his question. "You're here for the Peace Conference?"
"No, I'm here to kill Michael," he corrected, staring unsmilingly at her. "And anyone he cares about, of course."
Alex frowned, "Michael is here to kill you, not the other way around—"
"Shut up," Kasim snapped, suddenly pulling a knife out of his pocket. "He escaped me twice. I will not let him go a third time!"
Alex twisted her arms desperately, but the waiter behind her had a strong grip. She wondered what the chances of her taking down both the waiter and Kasim were, but he was already shaking his head at her. "Don't try anything stupid, Alex. You think your government is going to save you? This Division as you call it?"
She stopped struggling, "What do you know about Division?"
Kasim grinned, fingering the blade against his palm. "Only that they're the ones that sent me here. A certain Percy seems to think that you and Michael have become a liability..."
"No," Alex whispered.
"Why else would I be here?" he laughed, "At a peace conference? Seems a little out of character, don't you think?"
Alex's heart sank as she realized he was telling the truth. After all, he had no reason to lie. At that moment, Kasim's phone rang and he said a few words into it in his own language. He glanced at Alex then and switched back to English, "Go ahead. I'll put it on speakerphone." He held the phone towards Alex and nodded, "Say something."
"Alex!" Nikita sounded frantic, "They got you? And Michael?"
"I don't know where Michael is," Alex answered carefully, noticing Kasim hanging onto her every word. "He said he was trying to find you." She waited for a response, but only static silence met her ears. "Nikita?"
Suddenly there was a gigantic boom and the hotel behind them seemed to explode from the inside. "No!" Alex shouted, "NIKITA!"
"She's dead," Kasim said calmly, raising his eyes to see the flames licking out of the windows on the top floor. "So is anyone who was with her."
Alex could hear screams coming from the ground floor where the dinner party had been held as everyone evacuated the building through the other side. No one was going to come through the back. She felt tears fill her eyes. It was all over.
Faces flashed across her mind's eye. Her parents, Thom, Nikita...Michael. Adrenaline rushed through her veins and her face set. If she was going to die, then she sure as hell was going to go down fighting.
While Kasim was distracted with looking up at his handiwork, Alex gritted her teeth and painstakingly twisted her arm out of the waiter's grip. She screamed as she felt her arm break, but she didn't let it slow her down. She kicked out at the gun, causing the waiter to drop it. As he leapt towards it, she rushed at him and swung his body around to act as a shield.
Just as she had predicted, Kasim fired his own gun at that very moment. The waiter's mouth opened in shock as he fell to the ground, dead.
Alex leapt out of the way and towards the fallen gun, shrieking in pain when she landed on her broken arm. She scrambled with her good hand to grab the gun and finally grasped it. Alex looked up, breathing hard. Kasim towered above her, hatred etched on his face.
His arm was steady as he pointed the gun straight at her heart. "You're just a girl," he spoke quietly, "Maybe in the next life, you won't get mixed up in a bunch of traitors like your Division."
He was so busy staring at her, that he didn't notice the little red dotted light on his chest. Alex let out the breath she'd been holding, "I'll keep that in mind."
Kasim opened his mouth to say something else, but he never got a chance. The first bullet hit his hand, causing him to drop the gun.
The second bullet entered his heart.
Alex watched as he fell at her feet, his eyes still open, a look of disbelief masking his features. Slowly, she raised her eyes to the figure standing on the roof of the still-standing hotel.
He was the last thing she saw before she lost consciousness.
Sometime later, Alex was woken up by feeling of her eardrums popping. She blinked several times, realizing almost immediately that she must be on an airplane. She tried to sit up, but a hand appeared at her shoulder to push her back down. "Not so fast," Michael cautioned her, "Nikita has pumped you full of drugs. You might feel a little out of it..."
"I'm fine," Alex said slowly, looking around the cabin. "Where...what happened?"
"We're on Owen's plane," Michael took a seat on the edge of her bed and faced her with a smirk, "Did you know that guy was a pilot? Nikita is sitting up there with him. I can go get her if you want—"
"Wait," Alex reached out and grabbed his wrist with her good arm, "They're alive?"
"Nine thousand lives," a voice reminded her, and Alex peered around Michael to see Birkhoff sitting in the corner. "She and Owen got out of there before the detonator went off," Birkhoff continued, sounding nothing short of admiring. "They realized what had happened with you and Kasim, and they got to you just as you passed out from the pain." He nodded at her arm, "Niki patched you up. You should be good until we land."
"Land?" Alex asked, her voice rising with panic, "land where?"
Birkhoff coughed, "I'll just...leave you two to talk." He quickly exited the cabin, leaving Michael and Alex alone.
"You didn't hear what Kasim said to me before he died," Alex said hurriedly, "He said Division sent him to get rid of us...th-that we were a liability!"
"I know," Michael met her gaze steadily, "I had the alleyway bugged. I heard the whole thing."
"And you're still going back to Division?" Alex asked furiously, sitting up to glare at Michael. "They'll only try to kill us again!"
"Division has no idea what happened here tonight," Michael replied carefully, "All of Kasim's men are dead, so they have no one to report back to them." He took a deep breath, "With Kasim's death, I have no reason to return to Division...except for the fact that if we're gone, then Nikita has no one to help her from the inside."
Alex blinked again, her mind struggling to process what he was saying. "You want to...help us? Bring down Division?"
"No," he corrected, "Bring down Percy. He's the root of the problem, not Division."
"So, we all go back?" Alex pursed her lips as she considered this, "You as Percy's right hand man, Birkhoff as the tech who knows all, and me as—"
"As a field agent," Michael finished for her, a faint smile at his lips. "You'll get a higher level of clearance; you'll be able to go on more missions...do more to help Nikita and Owen locate the rest of the black boxes."
Alex nodded slowly, the idea beginning to make sense to her. "We go back," she decided. And then she suddenly wrapped her one good arm around Michael's neck and kissed him soundly.
To say that he looked startled would be an understatement.
"That's for saving my life," she informed him, her eyes bright. "You finally killed Kasim."
Michael grinned back at her, his hand resting on her waist. "I finally got him," he agreed, letting their faces linger inches apart. He slowly leaned closer and kissed her lightly on the lips.
She pulled back questioningly, "What was that for?"
He gave her a brief smile, "Because I wanted to."
"Knock, knock," Nikita called, opening the cabin door. She looked relieved when she saw Alex was sitting up. "Birkhoff told me you were awake. How are you feeling?"
"Pretty good," Alex answered, reaching out to hold Michael's hand.
Nikita glanced down at their entwined hands and winked at Michael, "Just so you know, I'll be keeping that knife now."
He frowned, "Why? The mission is over, Nikita."
She grinned as she closed the door behind her, "Because you have a new good luck charm now..."
THE END! :)
*THANK YOU to everyone who read and reviewed this story! Whether you're Malex, Mikita, or Thalex, I appreciated every single one of you!