Nikita: Dead Sleep

Mehvendra Dansi's defection from Iran causes a firestorm in the Middle East. As the architect of the nuclear proliferation movement in Iran, he is privy to the depth of their deception about plans to obliterate their enemies. Dansi's request for asylum in the U.S. comes as a complete shock to the world; especially the U.S. government.

Nikita studies the news about Dansi. High ranking enemy defections are rare. The last time the U.S. was involved was in 2005. At that time, a North Korean diplomat asked for assistance after it was revealed he was providing intelligence to the CIA. Nikita remembers what Percy did during that defection and she panics.

There's a knock on Sarah's apartment door. She looks up from her book but doesn't move. Then, another knock.

"Sarah," a voice calls through the door. "It's Nikita."

Sarah jumps up and peers through the peek hole. She unlocks the deadbolt and slowly opens the door.

"Hi," Nikita says.

"Hey," Sarah excitedly replies.

"Can I come in?" Nikita asks.

"Of course," Sarah tells her. Nikita walks into the apartment.

"How've you been?" Nikita asks.

"Great actually," Sarah says with a smile.

I'm glad," Nikita says with true sincerity.

"Come sit down," Sarah guides her to the couch. She can see Nikita has something on her mind.

"Is everything all right?" Sarah asks.

"I'm not sure," Nikita says. "I need to ask you some questions about Division."

"I don't know much, Nikita," she says. "You know that."

"You're the only recruit to ever leave Division alive," Nikita reminds her.

"We both know the reason I'm alive," Sarah adds. Nikita gives her a warm smile.

"I need to know everything about the guard routines," Nikita says.

"No way," Sarah says in a panic. "You're thinking of going back in there."

"There's something I have to do," Nikita says.

"Have you lost your mind?" Sarah asks.

"I've got a way in," Nikita says. "I just need to be able to move around undetected."

"It's suicide," Sarah says.

"Trust me," Nikita says. "I wouldn't do this if it wasn't important."

Nikita scales the wall of the warehouse that hides Division's headquarters and climbs onto the roof. Then, she climbs to the top of the towering air exchange and steps onto the ladder descending into the building. The five story drop to the bottom of the tower is intimidating. She steadies her grip and begins her descent to the lower level.

Nikita climbs down one floor. She looks up at the night's sky. She's grateful the moon is bright. She continues down several more rings. Suddenly, she looses her footing on the metal ladder and begins to drop. She falls several feet before she's able to catch her arm around one ring of the ladder. The sudden jolt as she catches the ladder creates a huge welt on her arm.

"Whew," she whispers as she looks up and then down at her path.

The humidity in the air has just increased her chances for failure. She takes it slower and finally reaches the first floor ventilation duct that empties out into the air exchange. She pulls open the grid cover and slips into the duct.

It's 3 am. Sarah said there is one guard walking each of Division's four floors at this time of night. Nikita peers through the slats in the grid that empties into the hallway of the building. No one is there. She waits.

Finally, the guard passes by Nikita. She looks at her watch. She's got twenty minutes before he returns to this floor. She quietly pushes the grid open and slips into the hallway. She tip toes down the corridor and stops in front of a door at the end of the main hallway.

There's a key pad on the wall next to the door. Nikita pops open the panel cover to expose the wiring. She pulls a device from her pocket. The device includes two cables with claw connections. She clips a connector to both the blue and red wires. Within seconds, the device comes alive and pings the sound of keying numbers. She hears the click of the lock disengaging. She removes the device and replaces the panel cover before entering the room.

Division's central computer lab is dark. The only illumination comes from the hundreds of small multicolored computer lights signaling usage. Suddenly, light from the hallway fills the room as Nikita slips in and closes the door behind her. She hurries to the first set of computer towers. She pulls a series of small explosive devices from her jacket. She hides one of the devices at the bottom of the tower and another at the top. She continues this exercise until she places all twenty of the devices she brought. She looks at her watch. She's got four minutes before the guard returns. She slips back into the hallway toward the ventilation duct and her escape.

Unexpectedly, she hears voices. Someone has just exited the elevator and is coming right for her. She looks around for a place to hide but sees nothing. She rushes back by the computer lab door. There's a dead end hallway running alongside the lab. She rounds the corner on the other side of the hallway and runs right into Michael. He's shocked to see Nikita roaming the halls of Division. She puts his finger to her mouth indicting they should be quiet.

The voices are getting louder. Quickly, Michael grabs her arm and pulls her around the corner and down the dead end hallway. Hidden behind a large cement pillar is a utility closest. He quickly and quietly opens the door and they slip in.

The closet is tiny and full of building mechanics. It's dark but there's a small amount of light coming from an air vent that covers the bottom of the door. Michael and Nikita are now face to face pressed up against each other. He can feel her heart beating against his chest and Nikita can hear the quickness of his breathing next to her ear.

The voices are coming closer and Nikita finally recognizes who is they are. Percy and Birkhoff are now in the main hallway heading straight for the computer lab.

"That won't be a problem," Birkhoff says. "I'll intercept any calls from the field commander and patch them through to you."

"This has to be pristine," Percy says. "We can't leave any fingerprints."

"I'll have a couple of bugs ready to cover our tracks," Birkhoff says as he uses his card key to open the computer lab door.

"What about Michael?" Birkhoff asks as he lets the door to the computer lab close behind him.

Nikita and Michael listen for any sound from the computer lab but all they can hear is each other's breathing. Michael feels Nikita as she presses closer as she takes a deep breathe. They look into each other's eyes. Michael slowly bends down and buries his face in her hair. Nikita takes another deep breath as she feels his lips find her check and then the base of her neck. Nikita bends her head back slightly to allow him better access. She can feel the rhythm of Michael's breathing moving along her collarbone and across her cheek to her lips. She opens her mouth slightly and moves her lips to gently brush against his. Her touch triggers his anticipation and he presses his mouth against hers.

Percy and Birkhoff abruptly exit the lab and Nikita and Michael break their kiss.

"If what you're saying is true," Percy says. "That's even more reason to kill Nikita. I can't have Michael distracted. She moves back to priority number one when we're through with Dansi."

"Maybe he likes being distracted," Birkhoff says as he and Percy continue back down the hall toward the elevator. After a few seconds, Nikita and Michael can no longer hear them.

"What in the hell are you doing here?" he finally whispers in her ear.

"Sightseeing," she softly responds. Michael looks angry.

"Not funny," he says. Michael stares at her for another few seconds and then again moves his mouth close to hers.

"This is a good way to get us both killed," he says.

His lips brush past hers but this time he doesn't kiss her. He quietly opens the door onto the hallway and steps out of the closet.

"You want to tell me what Percy's up to?" Nikita asks as she grabs his arm to stop him from moving too far away.

"Does anyone ever really know?" he replies.

"You're hiding something," she says.

"Why do you assume that's a bad thing?" he asks.

You're kidding right?" she says.

Michael breaks eye contact with her. Nikita walks away from him and heads down the hallway toward the air duct grid. He goes after her and grabs her arm to stop her

"You can't go out the way you came in," he says. Michael pulls her in the opposite direction of Percy and Birkhoff.

Nikita gets a couple of hours sleep. At 3 am the next morning, she will detonate the bombs in Division's computer lab. There's a good chance at that time of night, there will be no collateral damage. She logs onto her computer and sends an instant message to Alex.

Something big's going to happen. Be ready

Alex replies back.

No one's here

Nikita studies the message from Alex.

What do you mean?

Alex responds.

Michael and Percy left about a half an hour ago

Nikita immediately becomes concerned. She can't take down Shadow Net if it puts Michael at risk. She grabs the phone off her desk and sends Michael a text.

Meet me

Michael is alone in the back of a Division limo. He's on his way home to pack and then off to the airport. The phone in his pocket vibrates. It's a text from Nikita. He responds.

Can't. I'm sightseeing

She replies.

Where?

Michael sends a response.

I'll see you in a few days

Nikita just stares at the display on her phone. A few days? She dials the number.

"Your paranoia is showing," Michael says as he answers the phone.

"There's no such thing as paranoia where Percy's concerned," Nikita says.

"What's got you more spooked," Michael asks. "That Division is involved or that Iran will retaliate?"

"Iran won't retaliate," she whispers. "But Percy might succeed in getting you killed."

"Perhaps Percy is one of the good guys this time," Michael says.

"Nice spin, Disney" Nikita says.

"I get it," Michael says.

"What do you get?" she asks.

"That you hate the man," he says. "That you hate what he made you do. What you think he's making others do."

"You don't," she tells him. "Or you wouldn't blindly follow him."

"We've been hired for a job," Michael adds. "For which we'll get paid. That's all."

"Don't be so naïve, Michael," she snaps.

"This is my life, Nikita," he says. "It's what I want."

"Is that all you want?" she asks. Michael is silent.

"At this point in my life, yes," he finally says.

They are both silent. After a few seconds, Nikita hangs up. A single tear trails down her cheek and she tosses the phone back on her desk.

Michael and Percy board Division's private jet for Abu Dhabi. Percy sits in one of the large leather chairs positioned around a small conference table and Michael sits across from him.

"I want this to go by the book, Michael," Percy says. "Crisp, clean, and thorough.

"I'm not worried," Michael adds. "Should be an easy extraction. Then, we deliver the package to Lansing and everyone's happy."

The plane taxi's to the runway and takes to the air. A young woman walks up from the back of the plane. She is beautiful. Her long blond hair falls in waves down the back of her neck. She is impeccably dressed in a black, tight fitting suit that compliments her figure. She hands a drink to Percy and then one to Michael.

"I'm glad I could be of some assistance," the woman says.

"I hope you heeded my advice about discretion," Percy says. She takes the seat next to him.

"No one knows I'm partnering with Division if that's what you're asking," she adds. "And anyway, I thought you didn't like the CIA?" Percy gives her a devilish smile.

"Percy loves the CIA," Michael sarcastically adds.

"Mostly their ridiculously large slush fund," Percy shares.

"Freelancing can be lucrative," Michael says.

"Perhaps I'll have to enlist your help with eliminating Nikita when we return," Percy shoots back.

"Seems that's the one thing Michael can't do." Michael just stares at Percy.

"I heard a rumor that SAVAK is more than a bit ticked about Dansi," Kate says changing the subject.

"If Tehran wants to be a dominate figure in global politics, they'd better be prepared for a little embarrassment," Michael says.

"Iran doesn't know how to play nice with others," Kate reminds them. "If they can, they'll kill him before he leaves Abu Dhabi."

"I have complete confidence in Michael's ability to pull this off without a glitch," Percy says.

Birkhoff has fallen asleep in the middle of a HALO battle. Despite efforts by his online advisory to wake him, Birkhoff continues to happily sleep. It's late when he wakes to the sound of his doorbell.

"Yes," he calls out.

"Hello," a voice calls back. "I've locked myself out of my apartment."

Birkhoff opens the door just to the width of the chain lock.

"Oh, hi," the girl says now that she can see Birkhoff's face. "I don't know if you remember me. We met about a month ago in the laundry room."

"Yeah," Birkhoff lies.

"I wonder if I could borrow your phone to call the Super," she says. "He's not home and I can't get in my apartment."

"Sure," Birkhoff says and he closes the door just enough to unlock the chain and then opens it for her.

The girl breezes into Birkhoff's apartment with a smile on her face. She is petite and in her mid twenties. Her blond hair is long and pulled back in a loose ponytail. She has a clean face with big brown eyes.

"I'll call," Birkhoff strolls over to his kitchen counter and grabs the phone.

"Thanks," she says. Birkhoff dials the Super's number. It goes right to voicemail.

"Mr. Waltham," he says. "This is Birkhoff in 520. Can you call me when you get this message? One of my neighbor's is locked out. Thanks."

Birkhoff tosses the phone on the counter and looks at the girl. The moment becomes awkward.

"I'm Cherry," she finally says.

"Oh," he says. "Warren."

His face turns red. It's been a long time since he's said his first name out loud. The moment suddenly feels very awkward.

"I'm afraid I was sleeping," he says.

"Makes perfect sense," she shares.

"Maybe awhile before we hear anything," Birkhoff tells her. "How would you feel about sleeping on my couch?"

"Are you sure?" she asks. "I could be Jeffrey Dahmer like."

"So could I," Birkhoff says with a smile. She gives him a cautious look.

"Just so you know," she semi jokes as she pulls a long chain out of her shirt. "I'm packing."

She holds out a can of pepper spray at the end of the chain.

"That's handy," Birkhoff comments. "Just so you know. I'm not."

Birkhoff turns around leaving her in the living room while he retrieves a blanket and pillow from the hallway closet.

"I tend to be socially inept," he offers as he returns and tosses the blanket and pillow on his couch. "So, if you need anything, just let me know."

"You know why I'm not afraid of you," she says as she lays out the blanket and pillow.

"No," Birkhoff replies. "Enlighten me."

"It's the normal guys you have to watch out for," Cherry says. Birkhoff stares at her for another moment and then goes to bed.

The cab carrying Nikita to LaGuardia weaves in and out of traffic.

"I'm not sure we'll make it," suggests the cab driver as he hurries along the Grand Central Parkway.

"There's time," Nikita says as she leans forward toward the front seat. The driver turns and gives her a concerned look.

After another twenty minutes in traffic, they finally arrive.

"Pull around there," she says as she points to the Champion Air hanger at the very end of the airport complex. The driver stops at the entrance and jumps out to help Nikita with her bags.

She heads through the sliding glass entrance to Champion Air. She is greeted by an agent at the main desk.

"May I help you?" the young man asks.

"Yes, I've chartered a plane," Nikita tells him.

"Oh, yes," he says. "I've got your contract right here."

Nikita hurries out the doorway and up the stairs to the small jet. The engines are running and the ground crew readies the plane for departure. A flight attendance greets Nikita as she enters the plane.

"May I get you a drink?" she asks.

Nikita settles into one of the ten empty seats and reclines the backrest. The flight attendant brings her a glass of wine. Nikita takes a slip just as the plane takes off. Once in the air, she logs onto her computer and triggers the worm virus. The wine is helping her relax and she closes her eyes. Within a minute, she's fast asleep.

Nikita floats from being awake to a dream state. In her dream, she's at the airport in Yemen. She's watching as Michael approaches Kasim. She tries to get closer but she can't move. She can only watch as Michael rushes the stairway. With one swift motion, he cuts Kasim's throat with the broken bottle.

"No," Nikita cries out.

For just a brief moment, her cries draw the attention of the crowd away from Michael. Michael sees her in the shadows. She pulls up an automatic assault pistol and fires into the throng of Kasim's handlers. One by one, the men fall in slow motion. Before the last man hits the ground, he pulls a Luger and shoots Michael in the chest. Michael also falls in slow motion. Nikita rushes to his side.

"Is he dead?" Michael asks her.

She looks at Kasim. His face is pale. His eyes are open. Blood spills from the wound on his neck but he is still breathing.

"He will be," she tells him. She moves to help him to his feet.

"No," Michael says. "You can't help me."

She ignores him and uses all her strength to pull him to his feet. She drags him up the stairs of the plane and lays him in one of the seats. She pulls a gun from her waist band and rushes to the front of the plane.

"What the …" a flight attendant says as she sees Nikita and her Glock 28.

"I don't have time to explain," she says. "This man is Special Ops. It's a matter of national security that you tell the pilot to take us to Al Dhafra."

The flight attendant shakes her head and calls the cockpit. Instantly, the cockpit door bursts open and Percy bounds down the aisle. He's pointing a gun directly at Nikita.

"Percy," she begs. "You've got to let me help Michael."

"I'll help Michael," Percy smugly says. "You'll never help anyone else again.

"Please," she cries. Percy continues toward her.

"You have no idea how good it's going to feel when I put a bullet in your head," he says.

Percy cocks his gun. Nikita runs toward the back of the plane. Just as she reaches the galley, another flight attendant jumps in front of her.

"Are you all right?" she asks Nikita. "Miss, are you all right? Nikita feels as if she's falling. She jerks awake.

"I'm so sorry to wake you," Nikita sees the flight attendant leaning over her. "We're experiencing some turbulence. You might want to fasten your seat belt."

Nikita, in robotic fashion, does as she's told. Then she closes her eyes again. Was it a dream she asks herself. It seemed so real. Michael lay dying and she couldn't save him. The pain was so real. She turns to look out the window of the plane and only then does she realize she's crying.

Birkhoff's cell phone rings. The sound takes a long time to wake him.

"Yea," he finally answers.

"It's Waltham," the Super says.

"Right," Birkhoff says as he sits up in his bed.

Birkhoff looks toward the living room and is surprised to see Cherry standing in the doorway of his bedroom. She's wrapped in his blanket. For an instant, he is keenly aware that he is attracted to her.

"Who's locked out?" Waltham asks.

"Cherry," Birkhoff says still watching the girl standing in his door way.

"525," she whisper shouts.

"525," Birkhoff replies.

"I'll be up in five," Waltham says and then hangs up.

Birkhoff tosses the phone on his nightstand.

"He's on is way up," he says. Cherry suddenly drops the blanket. She's dressed in just her bra and panties.

"I better get dressed," she says and she runs back to the living room.

Birkhoff is surprised by her. He's wondering if this has all been a dream. He leans back in bed and crashes his head on the headboard. It hurts.

"Not a dream," he mumbles.

Cherry dresses in less than a minute and pops back into Birkhoff's room.

"You've been really great," she says as she wobbles putting on her last sock. "Can I buy you dinner some time?

"Did I forget to tell you I'm socially inept?" he says as he runs his fingers through his bed hair.

"You eat don't you?" she asks.

"On special occasions," he responds.

"Me too," she says.

Finally, Nikita's plane arrives in Abu Dhabi and she rushes through the airport. She looks at her watch. She's running out of time. The worm she planted in Division's Shadow Net has a twenty four hour self destruct mechanism. She should have just enough time to decipher Division's plans and hone in on Michael's GPS signal before the virus implodes. She logs on and intercepts Birkhoff's transmissions about Dansi. She taps Shadow Net's tracking software and discovers Michael's location.

Michael and Kate arrive at Al Ain Palace to find it heavily guarded by joint forces from all branches of the U.S. military. They seek out the operations commander.

"It doesn't surprise me there's a last minute change in plans," the commander says to Michael and Kate. "I just need confirmation."

The commander calls HQ. Birkhoff intercepts the call.

"Brigadier General Markham's office," Birkhoff says.

"Is he in?" the commander asks.

"One moment," Birkhoff says. He patches the call through to Percy.

"That's correct, Commander" Percy says into the phone. "There's been a change in plans."

Michael and Kate walk into the main hall of the Palace. On the left, they see a set of double wooden doors protected by two guards. Michael shows his fake CIA credentials and Kate her actual credentials and the guards let them in.

On one wall of the large open room is a stone fireplace. In front of the fireplace there is a couch and two chairs. Sitting in one of the chairs is a man in his early fifties. His build is slight and he is very thin. His dark black hair has not yet turned gray but it is thinning. The man stands when he hears Michael and Kate enter.

"Mehvendra Dansi?" Michael asks. Kate looks intently at the small man.

"Yes," he says in perfect English with only a hint of an Iranian accent.

"My name is Michael. This is Kate," Michael says. Dansi holds out his hand and walks over to Michael.

"We're CIA," Michael lies as he shakes the man's hand.

"I hope you're appearance means it's time for me to leave the Middle East," Dansi says. "I've been waiting many days."

"The wait is over," Kate says cavalierly. Dansi gives her a cautious look.

"Forgive my bluntness," Dansi says. "But in my country, the CIA is thought of as a pack of fools who stumble in daylight. Is this true?"

"For your sake, let's hope not," Michael offers. He gives Kate a smug look.

"It doesn't matter," Dansi says discouraged. "I fear I'm one of the walking dead."

"We're going to make this quick and easy," Kate reassures him.

"Do you have a gun for me?" Dansi abruptly asks.

"I beg your pardon?" Michael questions.

"I need some way to protect myself," Dansi replies.

"That's what we're for," Michael says as he grabs Dansi by the arm and pulls him to the door.

"Is it time to go?" Dansi says. He suddenly seems afraid.

"Yes," Kate says.

Birkhoff is alone in Operations this morning. He's trying to focus on the Dansi mission but his thoughts keep coming back to what happen last night. He's watching Michael's activities on one monitor and surfing the Internet for information about his neighbor on another. Not surprisingly, there isn't much.

Her full name is Cherry Townlain. She was born in upstate New York. She just graduated from NYU with a degree in journalism and she is currently a reporter for the New York Post's dot com division.

For some reason, he's disappointed there isn't more information about her and he's not sure why. Is it because he's a conspiracy theorist or because he likes thinking about her? He wonders if Cherry will follow through on dinner. He decides if he doesn't hear soon, he will knock on her door.

Having shared the new orders with the on-site CIA commander, Michael and Kate take Dansi to an underground passage in the Palace. This passage will take them to an inconspicuous helipad outside the Palace compound. There, they will find a Division Black Hawk unit that will take them to Al Dhafra Air Force base and then a flight to the U.S.

Once in the passage way, Michael takes the lead. Dansi follows close behind and Kate provides support from the rear. Just before they reach the outside door to exit the passage, Michael hears the cocking of a gun. He and Dansi quickly turn to see Kate pointing her weapon at both of them.

"Is this a joke?" Michael asks.

"I'm not laughing," Kate says backing up a step. She's trying to protect herself from any offence Michael might attempt.

"I told you I was dead," Dansi anxiously interjects.

"I don't think so," Michael calmly says. "She's going to kill me and take you."

"No," she coyly says. "You're going to kill him. And then I'm going to kill you in self defense." Dansi panics.

"Wait," Dansi shouts. He desperately looks around for some kind of escape.

"I have valuable information for your country," Dansi cries out.

"Which country?" Michael asks her. Kate gives him a huge grin.

"Very good, Michael," she says.

"What does treason feel like, Kate?" Michael asks.

"You should know, Michael," she jabs. "You work for Division." Michael turns red with anger.

"I told you SAVAK would never let him leave the Middle East alive," she continues. "Well, I'm going to be right."

A creaking sound echoes off the walls behind Kate and she quickly turns. Michael takes advantage and rushes her. Dansi quickly moves against the wall and out of the way. Michael grabs Kate's gun and points to at the ceiling as they tumble to the ground. Michael lands hard on top of Kate knocking the wind out of her. The pain is a distraction for her and Michael easily takes her gun.

Suddenly, Michael hears the sound of footsteps coming from just inside the outer doorway. He turns and without thinking fires in the direction of the sound. In a split second, he sees Nikita come out of the shadows. She makes eye contact with Michael and then falls to the ground.

Kate lunges after Michael. Michael quickly turns and slaps her hard with the back of his hand before she can grab her gun. She falls back and hits her head on the hard floor rendering her unconscious.

Michael rushes to Nikita's side. He checks the pulse point in her neck. She's still alive. The bullet appears to have entered just below her right rib cage. Michael stands and gently pulls Nikita to her feet. Then, he tosses her over his shoulder.

"We're leaving. Now," Michael yells to Dansi.

They rush out onto the Palace compound and into the bright sunlight. It takes Michael a moment for his eyes to adjust but he finally sees the Black Hawk waiting. Michael looks at Dansi.

"Don't stop," he tells him. "And don't wait for me. Just run."

Dansi nods his acknowledgment and runs toward the helicopter. Michael follows behind still carrying Nikita.

When they get to the chopper, members of the Division Strike Force help Dansi onboard. Michael leans over and lays Nikita on the floor of the chopper. The gesture piques the interest of the Strike Force Leader. Michael recognizes him. It's Bill Mathis who's been with Division for almost four years.

"Is that who I think it is?" Bill yells over the sound of the chopper engine.

Michael gives him a desperate look knowing he recognizes Nikita.

"She's wounded," he yells back.

"Percy has a kill order on her," Bill says.

Michael quickly pulls his Glock from his belt and points it at the man. He gently pulls Nikita from the floor of the chopper and lays her on the ground.

"Go," Michael yells. "Take Dansi."

"Are you nuts?" Bill calls out. "You're going to jeopardize a critical mission for Nikita?"

"Mission's over," Michael says. "Dansi's safe. Now, go." Michael cocks his gun.

Bill gives the pilot the hand signal for takeoff and the chopper lifts off the ground. Michael watches Dansi as the Black Hawk rises in the sky.

As the chopper pulls out over Al Ain, Bill calls Percy.

"I've got him," he tells Percy as he looks at Dansi sitting on the floor of the helicopter.

"I was beginning to worry," Percy says. "I haven't been able to reach Michael." Bill hesitates.

"He's not here," he says.

"What?" Percy asks in disbelief.

"He's with Nikita," Bill says.

Michael carries Nikita back into the shelter of the Palace passage way. Kate is gone. He gently lays Nikita down on the cool cement floor. Then, he takes out his cell phone.

"Sludge," he says into the phone. "I need your help."

"Funny you should call," Sludge says into the phone. "I just saw a highly classified CIA transmission. Did you Division boys jack Mehvendra Dansi?"

"Division doesn't exist," Michael responds.

"And we're alone in the universe," Sludge adds with a hint of sarcasm.

"I'd love to talk X Files, but I need a medical facility ASAP," Michael says. "Does the CIA have anything off-the-grid?"

"Give me just a minute," Sludge says. He types away at his keyboard.

"Just hacking into Shadow Net to find your location," he tells Michael. A few seconds go by.

"There's a place about ten miles from you," Sludge says. "It's underground so they'll need to know you're coming."

"Hate to ask but could you …," Michael says.

"On it," Sludge interrupts him. "I'm sending the coordinates to your phone."

"Thanks," Michael says sincerely.

"Sure," Sludge says. "And I know. If anyone asks, I don't know you."

Percy paces as he waits for Dansi to board the plane. He is livid. He can't believe Michael would jeopardize a critical mission to save Nikita. He has obviously underestimated the situation between Michael and her. He will make sure she doesn't leave the Middle East alive.

Percy hears footsteps on the stairs outside the plane. He looks up to see Dansi enter through the forward hatch.

"Mr. Dansi," Percy greets him. Dansi is suspicious of Percy and hesitates before he shakes his hand.

Amanda quietly comes out from the bulkhead and sneaks up behind Dansi.

"We're so glad you made it out alive," Percy offers.

As Percy's shaking his hand, Amanda thrusts a syringe into Dansi's neck and injects a liquid substance into his bloodstream. She pulls the needle out of his neck. Then, steps out of the way just as Dansi falls to the floor.

"Keep him sedated," Percy tells her. "We'll wake him just before show time."

Birkhoff exits the elevator. He walks down the hall toward his apartment. He glances down a few doors at 525. He unlocks his door but doesn't walk in. He walks the few steps to Cherry's apartment and listens. He can hear the low hum of music. For some reason he likes knowing she's home. He enters his apartment and slams the door shut. There's no way she didn't hear the door slam. Now, he waits.

The sun is setting in Al Ain. Michael weaves through winding roads in the car he stole outside the Palace. Nikita floats in and out of consciousness as she lay on the back seat of the car. Michael studies the GPS on his cell phone as he drives toward the edge of the city. He's almost to the CIA facility.

"Michael," Nikita whispers from the backseat. Michael whips his head around to see her awake.

"Finally, you're up," Michael teases as he turns his attention back to the road. "It's your turn to drive."

"I screwed up," she uses all her strength to say.

"You did," he adds. "And so did I."

Michael looks in the rearview mirror to see her smile. Moments later she looses consciousness again just as Michael arrives at his destination.

It's a series of rundown stucco buildings with shops on the main floor and what looks like apartments on the second and third floors. Crowds of people move about the dark street and this makes Michael nervous.

Sludge said to look for a building with a sign saying "Kushka's". Finally, he sees the sign. He parks out front and turns to Nikita.

"Nikita," he says but he gets no response. He gently slaps her cheek and she regains some level of consciousness.

"Take this," he puts his gun in her lap and places her hand on top of it. "I'm getting help. Try to stay awake until I get back." She gives him a half smile.

"I'll try," she says.

He enters the building. It's a storefront for a bakery. There's a man behind the counter placing bread in a basket in a glass display case.

"I need help," Michael cautiously says to the man. The man looks up.

"What kind of help?" he says in perfect English.

"Medical," Michael says sheepishly.

"What's your name?" the man asks.

"Michael," Michael replies. The man rushes from behind the counter to stand before Michael.

"I'm Mohammad," he says as he holds out his hand to shake Michael's. "We were told you were on your way. Who is injured?"

"She's in the car," Michael says as he gestures out front.

"I'll help you," Mohammad says.

Mohammad puts a sign in the window saying "Closed". He and Michael hurry out to the car and gently carry Nikita into the building. Once in the building, Michael picks her up in his arms.

"This way," Mohammad says as he passes through a draped doorway to a backroom.

The small room is virtually empty with the exception of a large credenza on the back wall. Mohammad pulls on one side of the credenza and it moves away from the wall to expose a wooden door.

"Down here," Mohammad says as he opens the door to reveal a staircase leading to a cellar. Once down in the cellar, Mohammad takes Michael and Nikita down a long dark corridor. At the end of the corridor is another curtain. Behind that curtain is a secure door. Mohammad swipes a card key and enters a code into the card reader. The metal door opens onto a high tech medical facility.

"Code Red," Mohammad shouts and doctors and nurses come running. They take Nikita from Michael and lay her on a gurney.

"I must go," Mohammad says to Michael. "Good luck."

"Thanks," Michael says.

A female doctor takes the lead in examining Nikita.

"What happen?" she asks.

"I shot her," Michael says. The doctor looks up from checking Nikita's vitals to read Michael's face. He looks genuinely concerned.

They wheel Nikita down a long hallway and into a state-of-the-art operating room. Michael tries to follow but the doctor stops him.

"At this point," she says. "You'll have to trust us." Michael gives her an anxious look.

"My name is Amy," she says as she holds out her hand to Michael. "Amy Lansing."

"Lansing, as in Richard Lansing, the head of the CIA?" Michael asks.

"Richard is my father," she says with a smile. Michael looks at her cautiously.

"You're not CIA are you?" Amy asks. Michael feels vulnerable.

"No," he tells her. "My name is Michael."

"And the girl?" Amy inquires.

"A friend," Michael vaguely answers. Amy gives him a quizzical look.

"You can watch from over there," Amy points to an observation room. "I'll be back shortly."

Dr. Lansing retreats into the operating room. Michael hurries into the observation area. Dr. Lansing scrubs and then views the preliminary x-rays of Nikita's wound. She speaks into a Bluetooth device which transmits into the observation room.

"She's lucky," Amy says as she holds an x-ray up to the light. "Missed her liver and kidney but it's made a mess of her lung and rib cage. I want to get that bullet out as quick as possible and repair some of the damage." Michael watches as they prep Nikita for surgery.

The plane carrying Percy, Amanda, and Dansi lands in Bermuda. Percy immediately gets on his phone.

"What have you found out?" Percy says into his cell phone.

"I lost his signal in Al Ain," Birkhoff says into his headset.

"What do you mean you lost his signal?" Percy shouts into the phone.

"I mean he's either in a place that's interfering with our frequency or the device has been removed and disabled," Birkhoff says.

"Don't take your eyes off that screen," Percy says. "If Michael moves an inch, I want to know about it."

"Think you should know the CIA is on high alert over Dansi," Birkhoff shares.

"I'm glad to hear that," Percy says. "Increases his market value."

"We'll be at Division in four hours," Percy says. "Be ready." He hangs up his phone. Seconds later the phone rings.

"Yes," Percy says.

"Have you heard from Michael?" a voice says on the other end of the line.

"Kate." Percy says anxiously. "No we haven't. Tell me everything."

"We were ambushed by Nikita," Kate lies. "She's after Dansi."

"What happen to Michael?" Percy asks in a determined voice.

"I don't know," Kate lies. "I blacked out. When I came to, Michael and Dansi were gone."

"Dansi's with me," Percy adds.

Kate was afraid of that. This will make her mission more challenging. Michael must've handed Dansi over to Division and left with Nikita. Now, she'll have to kill Michael.

"I'll try to find Michael, "she offers.

"Kill Nikita," Percy says. "You don't do anything else until she's dead."

Birkhoff again exits the elevator in his building and walks down to his apartment. It's truly bothering him that Cherry hasn't stopped by. He slowly walks past his apartment to just in front of hers. No music tonight. She must not be home. He turns to walk back to his apartment.

"Miss me?" a voice calls out. Birkhoff looks up and she's Cherry carrying a laundry basket. He blushes bright red.

"Do I know you?" he says as he tries to laugh off being busted. He continues walking to his doorway.

"How do you feel about leftover pizza?" she asks. Birkhoff tries to act human.

"Passionately," he says.

"I'm getting worried," Cherry says. "You're becoming more normal every day."

Nikita is asleep in Recovery after her surgery. Michael sits by her side watching her rest. Dr. Lansing comes into the room and begins checking Nikita's vitals.

"On a scale from one to ten, ten being the best," Michael asks. "How's she doing?" Amy checks Nikita's pulse.

"Maybe a low five," Amy says. "When you brought her in she had virtually no blood pressure."

"Do you have any good news?" Michael asks.

"She has beautiful skin," Amy says with a smile.

"Yes she does," Michael says. "How long before her beautiful skin can travel?"

"Difficult to say," Amy replies as she takes her stethoscope from around her neck and listens to Nikita's heart.

"Give me another day or two and I'll have a more definite answer, Amy says." She pulls out a blood pressure monitor and wraps it around Nikita's arm.

"Fine," Michael says with a sigh of frustration.

"So why'd you shoot her?" Amy nonchalantly asks.

"She asked too many questions," Michael says.

Amy looks up from pumping the blood pressure cuff and smiles at Michael. He leans forward and rests his head on his hands.

"She was at the wrong place, at the wrong time," Michael continues, lost in his thoughts about the moment he shot Nikita.

"I know this is none of my business but what's she to you?" Amy asks. Michael looks at her surprised by the question.

"I told you," Michael replies. "We're friends."

"You're friends, traveling the Middle East, lobbing bullets at one another?" Amy sarcastically continues as she finishes reading Nikita's blood pressure. "You can do the same in Vegas for half the price."

"Is the answer to how I know her critical to her survival?" Michael impatiently asks.

"That sounds like avoidance," Amy responds with a smile. "I told you it was none of my business. You just seem very concerned about her. It's nice."

"Nice?" Michael asks. "I've been called a lot of things but never 'nice'."

"Maybe she brings out the 'nice' in you," Amy replies as she grabs Nikita's chart and makes her notations. "Maybe you're really an asshole." Michael laughs.

"Now that's more like it," Michael says. A yawn escapes his lips. The drama of the day is weighing heavy on him.

"There's a room next door," Amy says. "You should stretch out and get some sleep."

Michael shakes his head.

"I'll sleep here," he whispers.

Amanda prepares the studio at Division for a videotaping session. Percy enters the room just as she is lining up the video camera.

"It's been an interesting day," Percy casually says. Amanda looks up from the view finder on the camera.

"Every day is interesting," she replies. "That's why we love Division." Percy walks past her and lightly touches her arm.

"I want your recommendation on how to deal with Michael and Nikita," Percy asks.

"I'm afraid you won't like it," she coyly offers.

"Kill them both?" Percy jumps in.

"It may be the only way," she says. "Michael may never understand your need to eliminate her. Therefore, his loyalty will always be in question." Percy paces behind her.

"You're right," he leans close to her ear. "I don't like it."

He continues pacing behind her.

"But I understand why that's your recommendation," Percy say.

"There are only two true desires that dictate human behavior," Amanda shares. "Love and sex. The only way to change behavior is to eliminate desire."

"Do you think he's in love with her?" Percy asks.

"Yes," she says. "But he doesn't know it"

"So he's never said anything to you?" Percy pushes her.

"Neither one of them would admit they have feelings for the other," Amanda says. "But put them in a position where they would have to harm the other. I just don't think they could ever do it."

"I regret bringing her to Division," Percy adds. "And I regret being put in the position of having to kill Michael." The corners of Amanda's mouth curl up slightly.

Are you ready?" Percy asks.

Amanda bends down and looks through the view finder one more time.

"Yes," she says.

Birkhoff and Cherry are sitting next to each other on her couch with their feet propped up on her coffee table.

"Favorite movie?" Cherry asks as she hands Birkhoff a piece of pizza.

"Lord of the Rings," he says.

"Favorite food?" she asks.

"M&M's," he says.

"Favorite vacation?" she asks.

"What's that?" Birkhoff jokes.

What kind of work do you do?" she innocently asks.

Birkhoff isn't prepared for the question.

"I've got one of those boring government jobs," he says. "Tactical work mostly."

"Sounds mysterious," she adds. "And somehow alluring."

"Right," Birkhoff says as he holds up his hands in a questioning manner. "I'm one hot dude."

Cherry just smiles at him.

"Did you Google me?" Cherry abruptly asks. Birkhoff is caught off guard.

"Ah," he says. "No."

"Did you check out my Facebook?" she continues.

"Of course not," he lies.

"Funny," she says. "There's no information on the Internet about you and you don't have a Facebook page. It's as if you don't exist."

"We don't have Facebook on my planet," he jokes off her revelation.

"Okay E.T., she adds.

"What are you doing with a geek like me?" he nonchalantly asks but he's truly curious.

"I like you," she says.

"I can't imagine why?" he whispers.

"The human female is a complicated creature," she whispers.

She leans in and presses her lips to his. Birkhoff just watches her and doesn't move. She pulls back a few inches and smiles at him. He lunges forward and grabs her face in his hands and kisses her back. At first he's rough and awkward but slowly that slips away and they begin to gently kiss each other. After a few minutes, there's a natural break and they separate.

"Did I ever thank you for the other night?" she asks.

"I think you just did," he says.

Michael is sitting in a chair next to Nikita. He is leaning onto her bed, resting his head on his folded arms. He's facing her and he's fast asleep. Nikita is lying on her back with her head tilted toward Michael. The room is dark and quiet with the exception of the heart monitor beeping quietly in the background.

Nikita lets out a small moan and slowly opens her eyes. She sees Michael sleeping next to her. She watches him without moving. Moments later, Michael opens his eyes but doesn't move. He just watches her watching him.

"I look good, don't I?" he finally whispers knowing he looks like shit.

Nikita chuckles but the laugh hurts her damaged lung and she lets out a small cry. Michael tries not to overreact. He doesn't move. He just continues to watch her.

"Have you ever felt this bad in your life?" he finally asks. She gently moves her head from side to side.

How am I doing?" she whispers.

"I don't know," Michael says as he slowly sits up in his chair. "How are you doing?"

Nikita tears up. He feels a wave of emotion for her. He takes her hand from under the hospital blanket and holds it tight. Then, he brings it to his lips and gently presses a kiss in her palm. Nikita slowly slips her hand from his and runs her fingers through his hair.

"Does Percy know about me?" Nikita questions.

"Yes," Michael says with no other explanation.

He takes her hand again. She looks down away from his eyes.

"When can I travel?" she finally asks.

"Still unknown," Michael says.

"Do you have a place to sleep?" she asks.

"I do," Michael says and he holds tight to her hand.

The next morning Michael leaves Nikita sleeping and seeks out the mess hall. He hasn't eaten in forty eight hours. He's not terribly hungry but he does need coffee. He grabs a mug and a banana and sits down at one of the empty tables in the large medical facility's cafeteria.

Moments later, Dr. Lansing also comes into the mess hall seeking coffee. She grabs a cup and walks over to Michael who has just finished his banana.

"Feel up to a conversation?" she asks. Michael looks up at her with a slight smile on his face.

"Not really but I have a feeling that won't stop you," Michael says.

"You're right," Amy says as she takes a seat at his table.

"My father's in a panic," she asks.

"Over?" Michael asks.

"I know you're not CIA or FBI," she says. "I'm guessing Special Ops." Michael looks at her but says nothing.

"Dansi is missing," she says. Michael is shocked and it shows on his face.

"What do you mean missing?" Michael says frantically.

"The CIA was scammed," she shares. "Do you know anything about that?"

"We were contracted by the CIA to assist in the extraction," Michael shares. "He boarded a Black Hawk in Al Ain. I personally put him onboard myself."

"Well my father doesn't know anything about a contract," she adds. "Do you know where Dansi is?"

"I've got an idea," Michael says now visibly angry.

Amanda strolls into Percy's office at Division.

"Is Dansi ready?" Percy asks.

"He's conscious if that's what you're asking," Amanda says.

"Don't you just love the excitement of an auction?" Percy asks enthusiastically. Amanda just nods her head.

"What's the opening bid?" she asks.

"Fifteen million," Percy says. "If the CIA wants him bad enough, they'll outbid any other interested parties."

"Let's hope you're right," she says cautiously.

Birkhoff is in a panic. He's trying to prep for the Dansi deal. He is distracted by thoughts of Cherry. At Division, no one is allowed emotional attachments. Birkhoff never thought this would become an issue for him. At this point, he's not prepared to let go of his feeling for Cherry.

And, Percy is coming down hard on him about Michael. There is still no sign of him and Birkhoff knows Percy blames him for Michael's disappearance. He's seen what steps Percy will take to get want he wants. He knows no one is indispensible in Percy's eyes.

Suddenly, Percy bounds into Operations.

"Say it, Birkhoff," he barks.

"Still no sign of him," Birkhoff mutters as he fumbles with his keyboard.

"Perhaps I should outsource my IT to Radio Shack," Percy fires back as he gets up in Birkhoff's face.

"I can't be held responsible for Michael's actions," Birkhoff snaps. "If he's had his tracker surgically removed and disabled, there's nothing I can do about it."

"You're deflecting responsibility," Percy jabs.

"I'm stating facts," Birkhoff whines.

Percy takes a deep breath. He's not going to let Birkhoff spoil his fun today.

"Amanda is ready with Dansi," Percy shares. "I want the video sent to the usual suspects."

"I'll send it immediately," Birkhoff says.

"Perfect," Percy responds. "I want regular updates."

"And the final bid?" Birkhoff asks.

"We'll close the bidding in twelve hours." Percy says. "After that, I make the call on what happens to Dansi. If anything goes wrong, we'll kill him and blame it on Nikita."

Amy opens the door to the computer room tucked into the far corner of the medical facility. Michael slips in after her and looks around the room. It's an open bull pin setup with twelve desktop computer stations and twelve geeks all busying monitoring their screens.

"Darkman," Amy calls out. A young man with long blond curly hair and Harry Potter glasses turns his head.

"Darkman?" Michael quietly questions.

"Don't ask," Amy adds as she walks over to The Darkman's desk.

"This is Michael," Amy shares. "He's Special Ops." Darkman just grins at them.

"You up for a little network tapping?" Michael asks him.

"It never gets old" Darkman says.

"You're going to love this one," Michael says. "Ever heard of Shadow Net?"

A black Audi 4000Si travels west along Hwy 22. Kate is driving well above the recommended speed but she's not concerned with being stopped. She's anxious to reach the CIA outpost at Al Rahba.

She finally pulls up to a building. It appears to be a school. Out front, a group of boys kick a ball around the dirt yard while a couple of girls use long sticks to draw pictures in the sand.

Kate parks her car and dashes up the stairs and into the building. The first floor is set up for classrooms. Kate quickly climbs the stairs to the second floor. She passes through a series of entrance ways until she reaches a door requiring a key card. She swipes her CIA credentials. Seconds later, the door opens and she pushes her way through. She walks down a long hallway passing closed office doors on her way. At the end of the hallway is the largest office. She knocks on the door and walks in.

Agent Dellum is the senior site commander.

"Dansi is being ransomed to the highest bidder," Dellum shares with Kate.

"By whom?" she asks.

"Ghost broker," he says. Kate smiles at her revelation.

"What intel do you have on Special Ops in the Middle East?" she asks the commander.

"Minimal," he says. "You're welcome to vet our recent transmissions but I wouldn't be too optimistic. The most activity we've seen is from our own sites."

"What kind of activity?" she asks.

"Medical support for field agents," he tells her.

"What kind of medical support?" Kate probes.

"Gunshot wound," Dellum shares.

It's after 2 am when Amy slips into Michael's room. He is in a deep sleep for the first time in days. She shakes him awake. Michael looks up at her.

"I thought you might want to say goodbye to Nikita," she says.

"What?" he says in a panic. He sits up quickly.

"Nikita's leaving," Amy says.

He throws on his pants and rushes down the hall to Nikita's room. He bursts through the door just as she is slipping on a pair of camouflage slacks.

"What do you think you're doing?" he asks. She jumps when she sees him.

"I'm leaving, Michael," she says regaining her composure.

She slips off the top of the scrubs she's wearing exposing a large bandaged area that covers the right side of her stomach.

"Like Hell you are," he says as he takes a step closer. "It's only been forty eight hours."

Nikita tosses a change of clothing in a duffle bag.

"This is not up for discussion," she continues.

She walks around the room collecting assorted first aid items and tosses them in the bag as well. Michael rushes to her and grabs her arm pulling her close.

"You've got one minute to tell me why you're leaving or I call Lansing to sedate you," Michael says knowing that his grip is hurting her.

"What do you want me to say, Michael?" she asks.

"I want the hidden agenda or you're not going anywhere," he tells her. She can't meet his eyes and instead looks down at the floor.

"There is no hidden agenda," she adds. "You have to get back and so do I."

"So that's what this is all about," he says. "You're saving me." Nikita pulls from his grasp and goes back to packing her duffle bag.

"You can leave now," she finally tells him.

Michael just watches her for a moment. Then, he walks over to her and wraps his arms around her. She tries to fight him off but he just holds her tighter. Finally, she stops resisting and wraps her arms around his neck.

"I'm still leaving," she says, tears streaming down her face.

"I'm coming with," he says.

There's a knock on Birkhoff's door. He looks at the clock. 2 am. He stumbles to the door.

"Yes," he says.

"Lonely?" Cherry calls through the door. Birkhoff immediately pulls off the chain and throw open the door.

"Do you ever sleep?" he asks in a groggy state.

She is dressed in a night shirt that says, 'I Brake for Teddy Bears'. Her hair is down and falling in disarray around her face.

"Don't laugh," she says with a look of anxiety. "But I had a nightmare. I didn't really want to be alone." Birkhoff feels a wave of compassion for her.

"Come in," he says as he holds the door open. "Guess what? I was sleeping again."

"I promise you won't even know I'm here," she offers. He looks at her and knows she's wrong.

"I'll get the blanket," he says still half asleep.

"No," she says. "You go back to bed. I'll get it.'

Birkhoff does as he is told. He falls back on his bed and pulls the covers up tight. Within a few minutes, he is fast asleep.

Birkhoff isn't sure if he's dreaming or if Cherry really does climb into bed with him. He can't seem to wake up and see if it's a dream. All he knows is someone is laying next to him kissing his cheek.

"It's not much," Darkman says. "Looks like Dansi is in New York with your friends. I've picked up a strange video being distributed to a variety of outlets."

Nikita, Amy, and Michael all watch as Darkman plays the video. It's Dansi. He's been beaten badly and his clothes are covered in blood. His eyes are taped shut and his hands are bound behind his back. There are four masked men beside him, each carrying a M9 assault rifle.

"I've been instructed to say I'll be given to the highest bidder," Dansi says shaking. "Bids will open at fifteen million and will be accepted over the next twelve hours. If no reasonable offer is made, I'll be killed."

"That's it," Darkman says as his computer screen goes black.

"You said 'distributed to a variety of outlets'," Michael says. "Like who?"

"Looks like a hodgepodge of agencies or countries that would benefit from Dansi's expertise," Darkman replies. "CIA, Secret Service, Israel, China and the like."

"Amy," Michael calls out. "How bad does your father want Dansi?"

"How much does saving face cost?" she asks.

"I'd say a hell of a lot," Michael replies. "If I were your father."

"Let's complicate the deal," Nikita suddenly says.

Michael gives her a huge smile.

Percy is finishing his celebratory Scotch in his office. The bids for Dansi are rolling in and the CIA continues to present counter offers. Percy is content. He will make a tidy profit on the Dansi deal.

"You've got to come see this," Birkhoff shouts as he burst into Percy's office. "Now."

Percy rushes into Operations. There, on the screen before him, is Michael. His face is full of old cuts and dried blood. His eyes are black and blue and swollen shut. He's duct taped in a sitting position to a wooden box. He's being held in what looks like a storage room for a restaurant or a bakery. He's surrounded by Middle Eastern men concealed in robes. Only their eyes can be seen through their garb. They carry an assortment of weapons mostly black market military. One of the men rips a piece of duct tape from Michael's mouth.

"They want Dansi," Michael finally speaks. He is barely conscious.

"He's dead in forty eight hours if we don't have Dansi returned to us," one captor calls out in Iranian.

Birkhoff's custom program translates in real time at the bottom of the screen. Another captor kicks a victim lying on the floor before he hits Michael with the butt of his gun.

"What else?" the captor says, again in Iranian.

"Al Ain Palace at O eight hundred hours, day after tomorrow," Michael says. Then the screen goes black.

Percy is in shock.

"Play it back," he yells at Birkhoff.

"One sec," Birkhoff shouts. Then he types a few keystrokes and the video begins to replay. Percy walks closer to the front of the room for a clearer view of the large screen.

"Stop it," he yells at Birkhoff. Birkhoff freezes the image.

"Magnify this," Percy shouts and he points to the bottom left corner of the screen.

"What is that?" Birkhoff says as he studies the frozen video.

It's an image of someone lying on the floor of the storage room. The person is on their side with blood pooling just under their chest.

"Run it slowly," Percy barks.

Birkhoff lets the video run frame by frame. They see one of the captors kick the body out of the way. As he does, the body moves just enough to see the face.

"Magnify it again," Percy shouts. Birkhoff complies and the image comes into clear view.

"Nikita," Percy whispers.

"Holy shit," Birkhoff says once he sees the clear image of Nikita lying dead on the floor before him.

Amanda walks into Operations just as Nikita's dead body comes into full view. Percy turns to see her reaction. She says nothing. She just keeps studying the image on the screen.

The light on the camera in the storage room goes red. Mohammad rips off his robes. He turns his attention to the duct tape confining Michael. After he is free, Michael rushes to Nikita's side. She's slow to get up.

"Nervous?" he asks her as he pulls her to her feet.

"I'd never admit it," she says.

"I'll admit it," he jokes. "We're just about to see how important I am to Division."

"Okay," she says with a cautionary look. "I admit it. I am nervous."

Suddenly, her face goes white. Michael catchers her just as she passes out.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," Amanda says as she paces the floor of Percy's office.

"Nikita's dead and Michael knows we didn't do it," Percy says.

"And Dansi?" she asks.

"This won't change our plans," he says. "Just our location. After Lansing wires the money, he just has to snatch Dansi back from the Iranians."

"You make it sound like we're baking fudge," she says sarcastically.

I couldn't be happier," Percy says. "Michael comes home minus Nikita. Yes, he might mope for a few days but that will be the end of it."

"You're willing to do all that for Michael?" Amanda says obviously jealous. "I'll never understand your loyalty to him."

"Then stop trying," Percy snaps.

"I suppose you're planning to go to Al Ain and get him?" Amanda asks.

"No," Percy adds. "I'm sending Jake and I have got someone in country to assist." Amanda gives him a cautious look.

'Kate Gillford," he says. "Do you know her?"

"She's CIA isn't she?" Amanda asks.

"That's just her day job," Percy adds with a sinister smile.

Dr. Lansing closes the door to Nikita's room. As she turns to walk down the hall she runs right into Michael.

"Jesus," she says. "You scared me."

"Tell me," he says. Amy looks at him and then down at the floor.

"Have you ever heard of doctor patient confidentiality?" she asks.

"Yes," he says. "And I always thought it was a great concept until today." Amy looks at him now.

"Ask her," she says. "Then come see me."

Amy slips passed Michael and dashes down the hall. Michael pushes open the door to Nikita's room. She's lying on the bed. Her eyes are closed and the hospital blanket is pulled just under her chin. She doesn't open her eyes when he walks over. Michael places his hand on her forehead. She's on fire. She opens her eyes once she feels his touch.

"I'm under the weather," she whispers. Michael feels sick seeing her like this.

"What did Dr. Lansing say?" he asks trying not to show too much concern.

"Infection of some kind," Nikita offers. "Might be run-of-the-mill bacteria or it might be something from the surgery. Either way, I'm not going to be very entertaining for the next couple of days."

"You planned this so you could get out of going to Al Ain right?" Michael asks. Nikita smiles.

"Who says I'm not going?" she asks. Her smile is somehow sad.

"Is there any point in my saying you can't go?" Michael asks.

"How long have you known me?" she asks back.

"Too long," he jokes.

"Then you know there's no point," she replies. Michael takes a seat next to her bed.

"Do you remember the night when you caught me out of bed after curfew?" she asks.

"You were hungry," he says as he watches her lose the last remaining color from her face.

"And you kissed me," she says.

"I remember," he says.

They both float back six years in time to think about that night. It was 1 am and Michael was leaving at the end of his day. He rounded the corner of the corridor by the mess hall. The sound of breaking glass caused him to stop. He turned toward the sound. Someone was in the kitchen. He pulled his gun and slowly pushed open the door. He looked around the dark room but saw no one. He turned on the light. Suddenly, Nikita popped up from behind a long metal island. Michael pulled his gun on her.

"Nikita," he said. Nikita gave him an innocent smile.

"Don't shoot," she said. "I'm already bleeding."

She held up her finger. Drops of blood pooled at the end of her right index finger. Michael put his gun away and walked over to see a jar of mayonnaise shattered on the floor.

"Serves you right," he told her as he grabbed her hand to look at the cut.

"I was hoping to slip in and out without being notice," she said. "Anyway, that's what my stomach was hoping."

Michael walked over to the first aid kit hanging on the wall. He retrieved what he needed. He then grabbed Nikita's arm and pulled her hand close. He wasn't gentle but still she couldn't stop thinking about his touch.

"Out past curfew is a capital offense," he pointed out as he pulled her to the sink and rinsed her finger. "You know that means corporal punishment." Nikita frowned.

"Guess I didn't remember that," she said. The look on her face made him feel strange.

"You're tough," he offered as he bandaged her finger. "You can take it."

"But what about my snack?" she said as he finished with her finger. Michael couldn't help but smile at her determination.

"I'll scramble eggs," he said. "That way I can make sure you get back in bed."

"Deal," she said with a smile. Michael pulled what he needed from the refrigerator.

"Under there," he said as he motioned toward a cabinet in the island. "Grab a pan."

Nikita pulled out a pan and placed it on the stove. Michael turned up the heat and cracked a half a dozen eggs.

"What kind of a punishment will I get?" she asks her voice just above a whisper.

Michael looked up from beating the eggs to see her face.

"The whip," he matter-of-factly said as he poured the eggs into the hot pan.

"Nice place you've got here," she said discouraged. She grabbed two plates off the counter and laid them out on the island.

"It gets better," he said. "Percy believes punishments should mirror potential field experience." He looked up from stirring the eggs in the pan to see her reaction.

"You mean torture," she said. Michael stayed silent.

"Maybe I'm not as hungry as I thought," she said as she held her tummy and looked down at the eggs Michael just scooped onto her plate.

He smiled at her. He felt something for her even though he knew he shouldn't. He originally thought he would enjoy causing her concern but he was wrong. He didn't like seeing her suffer. He tried to distract her from her own imagination.

"Eat," he said as he handed her a fork. "What's your favorite color?"

"Like I'd tell you," she said. "You'll just use it against me." Michael smiled.

"Does it ever get easier?" she asked. Michael was surprised by how quickly she could change subjects.

"No," he said in a low voice now looking down at his eggs.

"My birthday's coming up," she again changed the subject.

"We don't really celebrate much at Division," he said apologetically.

"Say 'Happy Birthday, Nikita'," she told him. He stared at her for a moment.

"Happy Birthday, Nikita," he whispered.

"Now, it's a celebration," she said with a smile.

He watched her for a few seconds. In that moment, she was genuinely happy. Something suddenly possessed him. He leaned close to her. She didn't move. She just watched him unsure of what he was about to do. He pressed his lips to her cheek and held them there for several seconds. He slowly backed away and looked into her eyes. They were wide with surprise.

"And you got me a gift," she whispered.

Michael didn't smile but rather just watched her. Her bangs fell into her eyes making it hard for her to see. She pushed them away but his continuous stare made her self conscious and she looked down. When she looked back up at Michael, her bangs again covered her eyes. This time, he moved closer and push them way.

"Up for a little covert activity?" he whispered. She nodded yes.

Michael opened the kitchen door and looked out onto the corridor. No one in sight. He slipped out into the darkness. Nikita followed closely behind. They watched for the guards but luckily they were nowhere in sight. They finally reached Nikita's room and Michael opened the door for her. She slipped in and turned to face him. He said nothing and slowly shut the door still watching her standing on the other side.

"I've always wondered why you didn't turn me in," Nikita says. Michael leans forward in his chair still halfway lost in his memories.

"You know why," he says as he finally turns to look into her eyes. Nikita now flushed from her fever gives him a faint smile.

Birkhoff's alarm breaks the silence of the night. His room is still dark.

"I hate winter," he mumbles to himself as he shuts off the alarm.

He rolls over and suddenly remembers last night. He remembers Cherry came over. He thinks she is in his bed. He gently rolls his hand over to the other side but it's vacant. He jumps up and runs out into the living room. No sign of her. He jumps back into his warm bed. It must have been a dream.

In Michael's absence, Percy assigns the exchange of Dansi for Michael to Jake Murrimann. Jake has been an agent for three years. He came to Division shortly after Nikita's departure. This mission is his opportunity to impress both Percy and Michael so he jumps at the chance.

"This is a one shot deal," Percy says to Jake. Amanda paces behind Percy who is sitting at his desk.

"Have you read the scenarios I gave you?" Amanda asks. Jake nods his head.

"I'm ready," he tells them.

"When it comes down to priorities," Percy continues. "Michael walks away from this. Everyone else is expendable. Are we clear?"

"Clear," Jake says. He fully supports Percy's desire to make sure Michael lives.

"I need you to stay in Al Rahba," Percy says into his cell phone. "I'm making a trade."

"What kind of trade?" Kate probes.

"Michael for Dansi," he says.

"What?" Kate asks shocked by Percy's statement.

"O eight hundred tomorrow at the Palace at Al Ain," Percy says. "You're job is to assist my team in bringing Michael home. I don't care what happens to Dansi. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly," Kate says. "And Nikita?"

"She's been neutralized," Percy nonchalantly adds.

Kate hangs up the phone and pulls out her Glock 23. She pulls back on the locking barrel of the gun and loads a bullet into the chamber.

"Martin," she shouts.

An agent opens the door and leans in from the hallway. He's in his mid thirties. He has straight brown hair that falls long across his face. He's very attractive and the other agents tease him about his metro-sexual ways. His arrogance won't allow him to care. He knows that at the end of the evening he'll be the one leaving the bar with the girl.

"Yes," he says.

"Change in plans," she says. "You haven't called Dr. Lansing, have you?"

"Busted," he says.

"Today, I'm grateful you're lazy," she smugly adds. "How about a road trip?" She turns toward him with a smile on her face.

"I'll gas up the car and meet you out front," he says enthusiastically.

The Palace appears deserted. This is in strong contrast to the hundreds of troops stationed there only a few days ago. The early morning sunlight has yet to reach full strength. The town's people are just beginning to leave their homes and visit the merchant shops positioned around the Palace.

A black Audi slowly pulls past the Palace and continues down several streets east of the main gate. Martin is driving. Kate hides from view in the back seat.

"No sign of the kidnappers or Dansi," Martin tells her as he peers through the windshield at the main entrance to the place.

"Then we wait," Kate says.

Mohammad was as kind as he could be when he beat Michael last night. Stage makeup works well for videos but now Michael needs real injuries. Lansing offered pain meds but Michael declined.

Nikita puts up little resistance to staying behind. Michael has never seen her so sick. Dr. Lansing continues to pump her with antibiotics but Michael doesn't see much improvement.

"Don't laugh," Nikita says barely able to sit up in her hospital bed.

"About?" Michael asks.

"I'm going to tell you to be careful," she says with a slight smile.

"You know the most important factor is Dansi's survival," he replies.

"It's that kind of thinking that has me telling you to be careful in the first place," she shares. She's on the verge of tears.

"Maybe you were right about Percy," he says.

"Don't say it," she adds.

"I'll be careful," he concedes. The corners of her mouth curl up slightly.

"I feel guilty seeing you in so much pain," he shares.

"Don't," she whispers. "I'm a big girl."

Michael sits down next to her bed and takes her hand.

"I need you to know something," he says. Tears begin to slip down Nikita's cheeks.

"I used to constantly tell Beth I Ioved her," he says still looking at Nikita's hand in his. "It somehow made me feel she was safe." He turns now to look at Nikita.

"I can't seem to say it anymore," he shares. "Like it's some kind of betrayal if I do."

"Don't," she whispers over her tears.

"I was wrong in New York," he says. "I don't just want Division. I want you."

Mohammad pulls up at the front of the bakery. Michael jumps in the car. Following behind is a carload of CIA agents dressed as Iranian extremists. It would take fifteen minutes to reach Al Ain Palace.

Jake and his team pull up to the Palace with a sedated Dansi in the back of their van. If he lives, he'll wake up in Iran. An odd irony, Jake thought.

"Teams of two," Jake calls out as the van comes to a stop. "In and out. I'll secure Michael. Dump Dansi. And we're gone. Understand?"

The eight men acknowledge the plan. The back panel doors on the van open and the team scrambles out in cover formation. They hold their semi automatic machine guns poised to shoot. The last agent to exit carries Dansi over his shoulder. They hurry up the stairs and into the main hallway of the Palace.

Martin peers though binoculars at the main entrance of the Palace.

"Dansi," he says.

"Tell me what else you see," she says.

"Eight in SWAT deployments," Martin says. "Military grade weaponry." Kate is still missing a key component to her plan. Michael.

"One of the packages is missing," she says. "We wait."

Michael and Mohammad turn into the main gate. As they drive up to the door, they see the van. Dansi's here.

"Don't worry about me," Michael tells Mohammad. "You're priority is Dansi."

"I will miss you my friend," Mohammad says. Michael extends his hand as Mohammad puts the vehicle in park.

"It's been an honor," Michael says as he shakes Mohammad's hand.

The car of CIA agents dressed as Iranians pulls up behind Mohammad and Michael and they begin to play their parts. They hush the vehicle, guns drawn and drag Michael from the car. They pull him up the stairs and into the main hallway.

Jake and his team greet them.

"Easy," Jake says. Dansi is on the ground out cold. Jake's gun pointed down at Dansi's head.

The CIA agents throw Michael on the ground. Michael acts as if he's in more pain than he truly is. Finally he stands.

"Back away from Dansi," one of the CIA agents says in Iranian.

"English," Jake fires back. "Does anyone speak English?"

"I do," says Mohammad. Jake looks at the man.

"Here's how it's going to go," Jake says. "We'll back away from Dansi. You walk Michael over to us and you carry Dansi out."

"Yes," Mohammad agrees. Jake and his team slowly back up leaving Dansi in a heap on the floor. Mohammad guides Michael passed Dansi toward Jake.

Michael and Jake make eye contact. Jake gives Michael a reassuring smile. Mohammad and his team grab Dansi and begin backing up toward the door with him. Michael turns to look at Mohammad one more time before Mohammad disappears out the front door with Dansi.

"You look like shit," Jake tells Michael.

"At least I have an excuse," Michael says. Jake smiles at this friend.

"Percy would never admit it but he'll be excited to see you again," Jake says as he pats Michael on the back.

"Touching," says a voice from behind them. The team quickly turns to see Kate and Martin aiming two Gast sub machine guns at them.

"Male bonding at its finest," she says as she and Martin draw closer. "Drop the weapons."

Jake and his team comply.

"What are you doing?" Jake questions her.

"She's dirty," Michael calls out. Kate doesn't appreciate the reference but says nothing in her defense.

"I'm just doing what Percy asked," Kate adds.

"Don't believe her," Michael says. "She's working for SAVAK."

"What proof do you have?" Martin asks.

"My proof just went out the front door," Michael replies. "But at least she didn't get a chance to kill him."

"Percy wants Michael brought back alive," Jake says. Kate aims her gun at Michael.

"That's not going to happen," she says.

"You told me we were here to steal back Dansi," Martin says. "What you're really trying to do is kill him." He motions at Michael with the barrel of his gun.

"Why?" Martin asks.

"Because I know she cut a deal with Tehran," he says. "Isn't that right, Kate?"

"He's lying," she shouts.

Kate is becoming more paranoid by the moment. She steels herself by looking through the site of her gun and backs away from everyone including Martin.

"I just have to pull the trigger," she mumbles. "No one walks away from here alive."

She gently pulls the trigger and several rounds quickly escape the muzzle and strike one of Jake's team. Pandemonium sets in. Martin drops to the floor and turns to face her. Michael lunges for the ground in front of Kate and the rest of Jake's team scramble in different directions trying to reach their weapons.

Before Kate can pull the trigger again and pepper them with more bullets the sound of a single shot cracks the silence from the second floor landing. The bullet penetrates Kate's blouse. She looks up to see a shadowy figure with a sniper rifle on the second floor balcony. Kate drops her weapon and looks down at her chest. A small drop of blood pops out on her blouse. With every beat of her heart the circle of blood gets bigger. She looks down at Michael. Simultaneously, all the men look up at the second floor landing but there is no one there.

Kate falls backward, her eyes still open.

"If I told you I was sorry," Percy says as he leans back in his leather chair. "You'd know it was bullshit. So I'm not going to lie. I'm thrilled she's dead and not just because of her actions against Division."

Michael leans forward in his chair.

"I get it," Michael says. "Let's drop it." Percy looks at him cautiously.

"These things take time," Percy says.

"And what would you know about 'these things'?" Michael sarcastically asks.

"I haven't always been a heartless bastard," Percy continues. "I've actually been in love too." Michael is uncomfortable with the conversation.

"I don't know who told you I was in love with her," Michael says. "But they're wrong. She was a Division agent. Nothing more."

"Nikita is now just a memory," Percy adds. "We move on from here." Michael stands and opens the door to leave Percy's office.

"And what news of Dansi?" Michael asks.

"None," Percy shares. "I'm sure he's dead by now." Michael hides his smile.

Michael is actually glad to be back at Division. He walks down the main corridor by the training facility. Several groups of recruits battle each other for rewards and recognition and it brings a smile to Michael's face. Just before he reaches his office, Birkhoff stops him.

"I," Birkhoff stumbles over his words. "I was sorry to hear about Nikita." Michael doesn't make eye contact with him.

"I wish things could've been different," he says. "For you and for her." Michael sees something different in Birkhoff. He is genuinely sorry that Nikita is dead.

"Do you believe in Heaven?" Michael asks. Birkhoff is completely unprepared for the question.

"I don't know," he stumbles over his words. "I'm still trying to work that out in my head."

"Me too," Michael says and he turns and walks into his office.

Michael sits down at his desk at Division and types a text.

The cell vibrating on the hardwood floor of Nikita's bedroom wakes her. She retrieves the phone from next to her bed and reads the text.

Meet me

Bullets repeatedly tear small precise holes in the paper target posted at the end of the twenty five yard shooting range. A woman holds a Glock 28 in both hands and shoots in rapid fire. Her short red hair gently blows back with each recoil of her weapon.

After she empties the ammo in her gun, she removes her eye and ear protection and pushes the button to trigger the target's return. The paper has huge wholes in the head and heart of the subject.

"Nice," a voice says from the shooting station next to her. She turns to see Michael standing there.

"My shooting or my hair?" Nikita asks.

"Both," Michael says with a smile. She pulls down her used target and replaces it with a fresh one. She reloads her gun, replaces her eye and ear protection and begins firing again.

Michael times it so he's firing in unison with her. He empties his gun and waits for her to finish. They compare targets.

"You missed a kill shot," Nikita says as she points to a random shot on the target's right side.

Michael pulls a necklace from his pocket and dangles it in front of her.

"I've missed before," he says. Nikita looks at the necklace. It's a slug dangling from a long chain. She looks surprised.

"Lansing is a romantic," Michael says. Nikita's eyes fill with tears.

"She's not the only one," Nikita adds.