7000 words and 2 months later…. WE'RE DONE! And this was by far the hardest chapter to write. Writers block, my own procrastination habit, and perfectionist tendencies were totally getting the better of me. So I'm letting go, here it is, not perfect, not even close, but its finished.
Interchangeable names again… Lena/Claire = same person just depends who she's talking to.
Luke- See chapter 2
Words cannot express how excited I am to have you all reading this story. If you don't make it to my mega long author note at the end of the chapter please take this as my sincere thank you for reading this story, every hit was encouragement to keep writing. THANK YOU!
"No really, I spent 45 minutes yesterday looking for feathers in our neighborhood" A teenage Michael complained his blond girlfriend as they walked side by side down a grocery store aisle.
"How hard is it to find a feather?" Elizabeth asked. She pulled a bottle of vegetable oil off the shelf.
"If you're looking for one you'll never find it." Michael said "I almost started pulling apart road kill just so I could go back inside."
"Eww! Gross Michael!" Elizabeth squealed.
Michael laughed out loud. "Ok, I didn't get that desperate." He teased, then pulled the vegetable oil out of her hands and placed it back on the shelf. "Its not that kind of oil." He said kindly.
"She's going to use actual car oil?" Elizabeth questioned.
"Yea," Michael answered. "She's mimicking an actual oil spill, she's going to soak feathers and fur in oil then use different detergents and soaps to see which clean the best." He explained. "Hence the feathers…"
"And the fur?"
"Now we're back to the road kill…"
"Michael!" She gasped and he laughed again.
"an old fur hat mom found at a thrift store." He said. "Now what else is on her list?"
"oil, two baking tins, two plastic storage containers, and like 5 different kinds of soap." She turned the list over in her hands. "All this for a first grade science project?"
"Second grade, and she's in the gifted program. Most of the other entries are fourth graders." He said "What kind of baking tins?" He asked while staring at the five shelves filled with tins of various sizes and shapes. He glanced down toward the end of the aisle where he had left Claire as she pulled every soap bottle from the shelves and read the ingredient lists. He felt his stomach drop slightly as he looked toward the racks of dish soap. He expected to see her busily inspecting the detergents but there was no one there. He scanned the rest of the aisle quickly but there was no little girl in a red sweatshirt. "Where'd she go?"
He stomped down to the end of the aisle then checked the rows on either side. His heart beat faster and faster as he checked and rechecked the aisles.
"Michael, calm down she's here somewhere." He heard Elizabeth's voice but it didn't calm him. He glanced down the rows of greeting cards, toothpastes, craft supplies, and shoes but she wasn't anywhere to be found.
"Claire!" Without thinking, he shouted her name.
He snapped his head up from the back of the chair straining his neck in the process. His heart was still racing and his breathing was strangely shallow. He massaged the pain in his neck.
"Bad dream?" Nikita asked interrupting his thoughts. He looked around the living room of the strange apartment. Nikita was watching him intently from the other side of the immaculate living room near the entrance to the kitchen. behind her he could hear the gentle hum of the microwave.
"I must have nodded off…" he said. "what time is it?"
"6:30." She answered. "Rose left for work about fifteen minutes ago."
"I didn't hear her." He said as he dragged himself up from the chair.
"You needed the rest."
"How's Claire?" he asked.
"She's sleeping." Nikita glanced toward the doorway to her right. "So is Birkhoff, Rose gave him something to help him sleep, she said it would wear off in a few hours. Would you like some tea?"
He shook his head. "I'll make a pot of coffee." He shuffled stiffly toward the coffee pot.
"So what was the dream?" Nikita asked a few seconds later.
"Just an old memory." He said quietly without elaborating. He finished preparing the coffee then returned to the adjacent living room while it brewed. Nikita watched him but she didn't follow. He'd been very quiet since they'd returned from Division but then again so had she. He didn't say more than a few words during the two hours they spent at the clinic while Rose and Luke worked on Birkhoff. Most of the sparse words he had spoken were not even directed at her. He'd spoken to Rose and he'd tried to calm Claire they waited, but only a few direct questions had been said to her. Nikita was torn, she wanted to talk about their relationship and what had just happened between them, but she knew Michael's mind was occupied with other things. Under other circumstances perhaps she could ignore it, but it was just that everything that had happened last night was exactly what she'd wanted. She needed Michael to stop pretending she was his enemy. Last night he did that. Alex thought Michael was one of the many division enemies, she never bothered to tell her that finding Michael, the one she knew was one of the many steps in her ultimate goal, and it was never a step that she was willing to skip. She knew Michael had never really been all that far away, Michael would probably disagree. And She loved that last night when Michael needed a partner he instinctually thought of her. He didn't call Division, he didn't go it alone, he found her. The walls Michael put up weren't completely gone but they were crumbling.
She watched Michael simply stare at the coffee table still dressed in the suit he'd worn to Division yesterday. The only times she'd ever seen him out of the dark suit were on missions. She silently wondered what outfit he would choose when not confined by a Division dress code.
There was one trait that almost every Division agent shared, they all had the ability to sit as still as a statue for long periods of time. Nikita had the ability, and so did Michael. Michael's entire body sat immobile on the couch, he blinked, and his shoulders rose and fell softly with each breath but outside of those small movements he was as still as a photograph.
He'd tried to piece it all together last night but it still didn't make one bit of sense to him. How could a person he thought had been dead for almost thirteen years return to his life so suddenly? He hated trying to think back to that time in his life, it was almost as painful as remembering Haley and Elizabeth, but having Claire here forced him remember. So much of it was a blur. He remembered the day the car accident happened. The day started out so ordinary, nothing was out of place. His flight from Virginia to O'Hare was easy, he hadn't been detained at security, the flight was on time, they hadn't even hit turbulence but getting off that flight changed his life forever. He was surprised, that day, when his family wasn't waiting for him at the gate. When he'd returned from other assignments his family was always there waiting. He used to think it was childish, after all he was an adult, and they didn't go meet their father at the airport after every business trip. Why did they always have to come to get him? Claire would run up and nearly tackle him, his mother would trail her only by a few footsteps and pull him into a tearful hug. His father was always more reserved, he'd watch from a distance but when Michael came over he'd give him a one armed hug and welcome him home. But that day he made his way to the baggage claim alone. His duffle bag was one of the first to come through but he didn't leave the baggage area. He sat down in a chair and waited for his family to appear. It was snowing so they must have gotten stuck in traffic. That seemed the most likely explanation. After almost an hour and a half he heard his name over the loudspeaker telling him to come to the service center. He wandered around for another half hour trying to find the service center in the vast international airport but he finally found it. It was the woman at the counter that first alerted him that something was very wrong. She looked him up and down taking in his uniform and military baggage then turned suddenly away from him as she stifled what appeared to be tears. A second later a man stepped out from behind a cubical.
"Michael Samuelle?" he asked.
"Yes sir." Michael answered as he'd been taught.
"Come in son, the door just to the right there." He gestured
When Michael pushed open the door he saw three policemen standing in the tiny room. He didn't remember much after that. The next few months had been a haze.
Nikita set a mug of coffee down in the spot on the coffee table where Michael had been staring and sat down on the couch next to him.
"What are you thinking?" She asked.
He hesitated a moment before answering her, he wasn't used to other people invading his brooding "Everything's changed." he said
"A lot has changed." Nikita responded. "but not everything."
"My sister that's been dead for 13 years suddenly shows up alive. I'd say that's a game changer." He spat back a little too harshly.
"Of course it is." Nikita said calmly "But her being here just moved life faster, I think we would have gotten here all along."
Again he hesitated before answering. He was aware that Nikita was trying to change the subject, at first he thought about objecting but then he thought better, there would be time to talk about and with Claire when she woke up. Now was the only private time he would have with Nikita for now, and even though his sister had reappeared, he didn't want her to be neglected. "We're not talking about Claire."
"You and I would be here eventually." She said as she took his hand, he didn't pull away.
"I'm sorry." He said quietly. "I pushed you away all that time because I thought it was best for both of us. It was against the rules and I wasn't ready for that."
"And now?" Nikita asked.
"What rules?" Michael asked exasperatedly. "I just broke into Division, helped a prisoner escape, killed a coworker, and openly declared and alliance with their priority 1 target. I don't think the rules apply anymore."
When Claire woke up she was greeted by the familiar weight of her comforter. She opened her eyes to find it was early in the morning. The light coming from her window illuminated the room slightly, enough for her to see its contents but not quite enough to take in all the colors. She pulled slightly at the black zip up sweatshirt she was wearing, it was uncomfortable. It was pulling across her chest and shoulders. She found the zipper with her good hand and pulled down. When she finally released the pressure across her chest she explored the other side of the bed. Birkhoff was laying next to her fast asleep. She shifted cautiously toward him, then shook his shoulder slightly "B?" she whispered into his ear but he showed no sign of hearing her. She raised her fingers to a small patch of fresh stitches along his hairline. His chest rose and fell with each breath, his breathing was different, she couldn't quite put her finger on how it was different but something didn't seem right. She pushed the blanket off of him to find a small dark stain on the bottom of his gray t-shirt, just above his boxers. When she pulled back the t-shirt she found a large dressing over some kind of wound. "Oh God, what happened to you B?" she asked quietly as she put his shirt back down. On his arm she found an IV lodged in his fore arm. She followed the tubing up to the infusion pump. As she leaned over Birkhoff to read the labels on the bags she heard him groan. "Sorry!" she said automatically. She decided the IV didn't look dangerous, it just looked like fluids.
The rational part of her mind knew that if she was in her own apartment she must be safe but there was anxiety building from deep inside her that was quickly taking over. There were serious holes in her memory, she had bruises and injuries she couldn't account for, and what was Birkhoff doing in the bed next to her? She tried to think back and piece together the last day but that only made her more anxious.
She could remember the woman inside Division threatening her with drugs, maybe, she was hallucinating. Maybe she wasn't actually in her bedroom at all. She crawled out of the bed and crept over to the bedroom door. She could hear quiet whispers coming from the living room but she wasn't sure to whom the voices belonged. Without much thought she crossed over into her closet and dove into the far corner. Behind the rows of shoes she found her spare weapon. She sat crosslegged on the floor of the closet and checked to make sure the gun was properly loaded. She watched as the doorknob turned slowly and a head peaked into the room. A young blond haired man looked first at the bed then carefully around the room. When his eyes reached the closet Claire had the gun pointed in his direction.
"Oh, shit!" She heard him yell as he bolted from the room. "Lena!" She heard him shour a moment later. She put the safety back on the gun and placed it into her lap. "Lena, I'm not gonna hurt you!" she heard Luke's frantic boyish voice on the other side of the door.
"Sorry." She said just loud enough for him to hear.
"Can I open the door?" he asked
"You're cool?" he asked again.
"Yes." Lena said quietly. She watched as the door opened but Luke didn't immediately enter.
"I'm unarmed…" He said again. Then she saw his soft blue eyes peek around the door, when his eyes found the gun settled in her lap he stepped all the way into the room. He approached her slowly then reached toward the gun.
"No!" she said as she turned away from him protecting her weapon "Owww!" she shrieked as she turned. Luke looked on with pity written all over his face.
"Rose says you have a couple cracked ribs." He said quietly, "that's why it hurts to turn." Lena nodded slightly.
"Where's Rose?" she asked him
"She had to work, she left about an hour ago." He sat down on the floor next to her. "I told her I'd keep an eye on you."
"What time is it?"
"7:05" he answered. She nodded slightly then her eyes started to search the room again. "How are you feeling?"
Lena's eyes filled up with tears. "I don't know." She said honestly. Although her mind was filled with holes it didn't feel like she'd fallen asleep and then woken up a moment later, there was blank spaces where she knew there should be memories and hazy recollections that she wasn't sure ever happened. "I… I don't remember…"
"Yea, you were F-ed up last night." He said "Now I don't know how you got to point A to point B, but I can fill in part of the hole. I think he can help you out with that when he wakes up." He said glancing over at the bed.
"Is he gonna be ok?" Lena asked looking over at Birkhoff's still form in the bed.
"Yea. Rose patched him up pretty good." Luke answered. "He'll be awake in a few hours, she gave him something pretty strong to help him sleep."
"Am I hallucinating?" she asked quietly.
Luke smiled then put one arm around her shoulder. "Ah, that's why you pointed a gun in my face. No dear, this is real I promise."
Luke recounted everything that had happened since Michael and Nikita had shown up in New Jersey with Lena and Birkhoff. He told her how they'd gotten there just in time, another minute or two and 'jerkhoff' would be dead.
"don't call him that" she defended.
Luke shot her a knowing look then agreed. He also told her how uncomfortable Michael and Nikita's presence in the living room was making him.
"One of them is always watching me." He complained "They think I'm a threat! That guy especially, I can't even turn my back on him. And they're armed, both of them. So, I am too." He showed Lena a gun tucked under his sweatshirt.
"I tried to throw them out…" he said honestly. "they won't go and they won't tell me anything." Luke glanced over toward the door then whispered to Lena "Do you know them?" he asked.
"Yea…" Lena confirmed
"They're agents." He said under his breath. "Both of them…"
Lena nodded in confirmation. He sighed, "Oh, Lena, What did you get yourself caught up in?"
She pulled herself out of his grasp. "Its safer if you don't know."
Luke leaned back against the closet door. "Will not knowing get me killed anyway?"
"No," Lena answered, she could only assume they were safe here. Nikita had always been good at staying undetected.
"I'm sure I'll find out soon enough." He sighed. "Is that guy out on the couch going to shoot me in my sleep?"
"Michael is still here?" she asked.
"Yea, that's what I just said." Luke grumbled.
"Is he angry?"
"I don't know how to answer that…" he said "He's quiet but I don't think he's angry." Lena listened then became distracted again by the hoodie that was too small for her.
"Who's is this?" She snapped suddenly. "Its choking me." She exclaimed as she tried to get out of it using only one arm.
"Stop. Stop!" Luke said as he reached to help her out of the sweatshirt "Seriously its choking you? Its already unzipped-"
"Choking my arms!"
"Drama queen." He said has he pulled the last sleeve carefully over her broken wrist.
"So yay or nay on the getting shot in my sleep?" Luke asked sarcastically bringing her back to the subject, Lena could tell there was genuine concern behind the question.
"Nay." She said with a slight smile. "But keep your mouth shut just in case."
"Then I suggest you get cleaned up before you come out and meet your friends. From what I gather there's no rush, I think you'll be more comfortable after a shower."
"Do I look that bad?" she asked somewhat jokingly as Luke helped her to her feet.
"You know, I'm not gonna lie, I think you are always beautiful but today is not one of your best hair days."
Now that the sweatshirt was off, Lena surveyed the bruises that seemed to cover the entire extent of her arms. Luke shoved a pair of black leggings into her arms followed by a clean white tank top, next he pulled the oversized cardigan off the front of the door exposing the full length mirror that had previously been obscured.
"Oh," She whispered as she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. She felt her breath leave her chest and felt herself sway slightly before Luke's arm wrapped tightly around her waist. She winced at his touch, he'd grabbed her on top of some other bruise or injury and even though his grip was steadying, it hurt. She let the leggings and tank top fall to the floor as she reached up and gently touched her battered face. Her nose was clearly broken, her lips were both split, both eyes were black and blue and there was a cut along her jaw line that she didn't remember getting.
"Give it a week." Luke tried to comfort her. "I've seen you banged up before. It always heals."
Vanilla and Hazelnut, the first things that penetrate his senses. Where ever he is, it smells like Claire. He opens his eyes and silently surveys the room. His vision is blurry, he instinctually reaches for his glasses on the bedside table but, of course, it is empty. To his right, a window unchecked by blinds or drapes allowing the morning sun to fill the room. An IV cart towers over the tiny bedside table. In front of him he can see a large book case filled with various books, pottery, and frames, all of which contain artwork, there are no photographs adorning this room. He turns his head to the other side of the room and finds woman he is looking for. The woman, he will always be looking for.
Her back is turned to him as she fusses with her hair in the mirror. He can't help but watch her, she is so beautiful. He thinks as he watches her pick at the wild curls. After a few moments she turns slightly and sees the reflection in the mirror of him watching her.
"You're awake!" She gasps and steps toward him. Her movements are taught and awkward. He knows immediately that she's still in pain.
"I don't need much sleep." He says with a smile. He sits up slowly in the bed exhaling through the pain in his abdomen as he moves. She crawls onto the bed next to him and when her eyes meet his he doesn't hesitate. A thousand unspoken words pass between them in a fraction of a second. Their broken bodies draw together until he can feel her heavenly breath on his face. He pulls her toward him then stops, close but not yet touching her sweet lips, he waits. She comes to him.
In an instant… all is forgiven.
"Lets just stay here." Claire said quietly as she laid her head on Birkhoff's shoulder. She couldn't think of anywhere she'd rather be. Birkhoff was back, Michael was safe, and somehow she was still alive. Perhaps the whole thing could have played out smoother but she couldn't argue with the outcome. The anxiety she'd felt after she first woke up this morning was all but gone. When Birkhoff came around, it shrunk to a tiny flutter inside her stomach.
She felt Birkhoff turn his head to rest his chin on her hair. He was quiet, but she knew he wasn't asleep, and neither was she. After a while she could feel him beginning to shift uncomfortably. After a few jossles of the bed she sat up. "Are you in pain?" She asked.
"Only when I move." He said, Claire reached carefully across his body and pulled his shirt up to reveal the bandage that was stained with blood.
"I think we need to change that." She said, Birkhoff winced and shook his head.
"No its ok." He groaned but Claire didn't notice she crawled off the bed and walked around to the other side where she found a small box of medical equipment. "No, babe seriously I'm fine." He argued but Claire pulled out gloves and new dressings. "Let's let Rose do it when she gets back."
"Its not that big of a deal." Claire argued as she began to work. Birkhoff turned away at the first sight of his own mangled flesh.
"Oh, that's gross." He squirmed as he tried to breathe, he felt his head swim and he was glad he was already laying down. He didn't look at the wound he tried to keep his attention focused on Claire. She was methodical as she cleaned the wound and applied the new bandages. She was quick but careful, she knew exactly what she was doing. "You've done this before?" He asked as she finished and found the garbage to dispose of the wrappers.
Her eyes softened as she crawled back onto the bed. "Once or twice."
She started to crawl back under the blankets before he stopped her. "Are Nikita and Michael still here?"
"I think so." She said ignoring his arm and pushing her way back under the comforter.
"We should go out there." He said.
"Why?" she snapped back suddenly.
"Why?" he repeated in surprise. "Uh… Because… Well without them this wouldn't have gone very well." He finally stammered.
"We'll get to them." Claire said as she tried to cuddle against Birkhoff's left arm.
"I really think we should go out now." Birkhoff argued pulling away slightly
"You need your rest."
"No you're not."
"Whats wrong with you?" He questioned sharply.
"I just think you should rest." She said definitively, she was unshaken by his harsh tone.
"Fine then you go out."
"I'm not leaving you."
"Are you…" He started then rephrased as her eyes grew narrow. "Don't you want to talk to Michael?"
Her eyes narrowed and she rolled over onto her back not meeting his gaze. He waited for a response but when none came he started to get up. He stood up quickly on his side of the bed and took one quick step before the pain in his side forced him to grab the nearby wall for support. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to call out in pain but he heard a noise escape his mouth. When he opened his eyes again she was in front of him, with one arm wrapped tightly around his waist the other gripping his arm. She guided him back toward the bed. He sat down on the edge of the bed and tried to catch his breath.
"That was stupid." She spat, as she released him.
As she pulled away Birkhoff caught her wrist. "Don't shut me out." He cautioned, he watched as her deep chestnut eyes softened. She shook her head slightly.
"Its stupid." She prefaced. Birkhoff pulled her in closer and let his other hand rest on her hip. "No, I can't say it." She squirmed.
He tried to give her an encouraging smile. "I won't judge."
"What if." She stopped. "Oh god… its dumb… what if he doesn't like me?"
"What?" He said stifling a laugh.
"I know!" Claire said with embarrassment. "But B. what if he doesn't like me and he just disappears."
"Ok, no-" Birkhoff began.
"-B he's the only family I have left." She said honestly.
Birkhoff turned his head to the side questioningly as he decided how he wanted to respond. He after a moment he went back to the reasons he was trying to tell her before she interrupted him.
"Ok see that's just not gonna happen. He said "First, how could he not like you? You're my favorite person on earth. I can't imagine anyone not liking you." he stopped and kissed her forehead. "And second, I know Michael better than almost anyone else, and I know that Michael is seriously loyal. He's not going anywhere, you're stuck with him, like it or not."
"You really think so?"
"Yea, I do." He smiled softly then carefully got up from the bed. "Come on." He said offering his hand to her. She took it and followed him slowly to the bed room door. Suddenly he stopped, "Wait! there's a third… He's protective."
"Ok…" Claire commented without paying nearly as much attention to Birkhoff's statement as he wanted.
He slid his hand out of her grasp and doubled back deeper into the room looking all over the bed and nearby dresser.
"What are you looking for?" she asked.
"Michael is protective like Gollum to the one ring."
"Oh come on." Claire said as she rolled her eyes slightly.
"He's gonna shoot me." He said.
"I doubt that—"
"I'm sleeping with his little sister." He argued. "He's shot guys for doing a lot less!" He turned and bent down to look under the bed. "Is my Kevlar in here?"
She shot him a stare that stopped him in his tracks. He crept back across the room and took his place at her side. "I'm only half kidding."
When Claire and Birkhoff emerged from the bedroom they found Nikita and Michael sitting calmly on the couch. One of her legs was draped over his and she was caressing his chest lovingly and smiling slightly. Although Michael's face was still serious, there was a light in his eyes that she hadn't seen before. A second later they noticed them. Nikita stood quickly and crossed the room. "I'm so glad you're here." She said as she pulled her into a cautious hug.
"Thank you." Claire said, "for everything you did." Nikita smiled slightly then turned to Birkhoff.
"I didn't know you had it in you, Nerd." She pulled him into a stronger hug. He nodded slightly and stood stiff in Nikita's embrace.
As Nikita stepped aside Michael's weary eyes searched her. She shifted awkwardly knowing his gaze was focused so intensely on her. She didn't know what to say, she didn't know where to go, she wanted to leave but she knew she needed to stay. Finally, after what seemed like a very long time he spoke.
"I could have killed you." He said quite but stern. "Do you know how reckless that was?"
"Yes." Claire managed to say through a jaw that seemed glued shut.
"stupid." He growled as he stood from the couch.
"Mikey…" Birkhoff began
"I will get to you!" He shouted without taking his eyes off Claire. He stepped across the living room toward her. "What were you thinking!"
"Michael." Nikita said appesingly as she moved slightly toward him, she put a cautious hand on his shoulder trying to calm him. For a second it seemed to work as he dropped his gaze and took her hand from his shoulder and held it in his. But when Claire spoke again the anger resurfaced as quickly as it had subsided.
"Don't you dare call me stupid." Claire said sharply "You have no idea what I've lived!"
He stared at her angrily before moving on, "Damit Claire!" He barked "why didn't you tell me!"
"Would you have believed me?" Claire asked, Michael didn't answer her instead his jaw tightened.
"No," Nikita said from somewhere in the background. Claire saw Michael's eyes shift toward Nikita then back to her.
"I knew what I was doing." Claire said
"So, You had a plan!" Michael bellowed
"Well, Your plan sucked!"
"I wouldn't exactly call it a plan… more of a goal."
"A goal?" he questioned sarcastically "Take your Goal back to the soccer field where it belongs because your piss poor planning nearly got us all killed."
"Fine!" Claire conceded angrily "maybe my plan sucked! But it succeeded!"
"It only worked because everyone here bailed you out!"
"I never planned to go it alone."
"you had no right..." michael said getting face to face with her.
"no right to do what?" Claire interrupted him pushing back into his face "no right to the brother I lost? No right to take back what they took from me? The right to a normal life? What exactly did I do that was so extreme?"
"no right to risk your life." he whispered, and up close Claire could tell that what she, and everyone else in the room had perceived as anger was really something else. "not for me."
"I was just trying to find you."
"I wasn't lost!" he said.
"Yes you were!" Claire argued "Maybe you still are!"
"No, I'm just not the person you were hoping to find."
"I think you are." She said quietly. She reached up cautiously and put her good hand on his shoulder. "But they broke you."
"You don't know anything about me." Michael said as he eyed the hand on his arm, he didn't pull away.
Claire nodded, she didn't know much about him and he knew even less about the woman she was today."I know you promised to come back for me."
Although Nikita and Birkhoff might not have understood Claire's last comment, Michael did. What was left of his stoic demeanor shattered. He took as step back and shook his head. "Don't you see…" He said quietly. "That's exactly what I'm talking about. I'm not the brother you remember."
"At first I was angry." She continued not allowing him to back away from her. "but then I realized, there were only two reasons why you didn't find me. Either you didn't know, or you were in trouble yourself and couldn't come."
"I didn't know…" he answered. "I would have…"
"Turns out they were both true." She reached out again and pulled at the buttons on his jacket. "They've been lying to you… and can't you see that they're wrong." She asked, looking up to his face. " What have they offered you that makes you to stand by and do nothing?"
Again he pulled back and took a quick breath in, Claire instantly saw one of Michael's countless walls return. "Kasim." Birkhoff answered from somewhere behind her. Michael continued to look at blank point on the wall but his jaw clenched slightly.
"The offered you justice for Elizabeth and Haley." She stated and Michael nodded a fraction of an inch in confirmation. "Then we'll find him."
"Its not that easy." Michael confessed. "I have changed, in ways you can't imagine, Claire. Knowing me will only lead to disappointment."
"The brother I remember… the only brother I remember is the one who promised to come back, and last night you did."
Two months later…
Birkhoff quietly pecked away at his laptop on the patio of their apartment overlooking the ocean. It was early afternoon and the sun was shining bright on his screen. The sun's glare on the screen made it difficult for him to work but he didn't move in side. In less than an hour he and Claire would begin their journey back to New Jersey. Back to reality, a place Birkhoff wasn't sure he wanted to go.
Nikita, Michael, and Alex wanted him back. Nikita and Alex wanted Claire back, but Michael wanted Claire to stay right where she was, hidden, safe, comfortable, and away from the life that waited for her back in the States. He and Claire had spent the last two months running back and forth to the mainland for surgeries and doctors appointments but in between the many ferry boat rides they'd managed to get their relationship in a better place. A place that wasn't hampered by lies and half truths, it was different than before, it was better
While Claire focused on getting healthy, Birkhoff kept himself busy paging through thousands of pages of documents. Part of his day was always spent managing his money, and keeping his accounts untraceable. He'd been siphoning money from thousands of nameless back accounts since before he entered Division. For years his system required very little maintenance but now that he was getting close to using some of the funds he needed to make sure everything was secure. The other documents that consumed his attention came from a variety of sources. Some of the documents were his own personal Division mission files. He had copies of every Division mission in which he'd ever been involved. He pulled files on every mission Nikita had done, and he had most of Michael's files. He had files that outlined Division security, transmissions, encryption, and tracking. It was all those files that consumed most of Birkhoff's first few weeks in Capri, but lately he'd been working in files that he hadn't looked at in years. They were Shadowalker's files.
Claire didn't asked what he'd been working on. She knew he was looking into things she didn't want to talk about. She didn't want to talk about Division, the Alliance, or what awaited them back in New Jersey.
He glanced up from his work as Claire appeared from the patio door toting her suitcase overnight bag, and another oversized purse. She leaned the suitcase it up against the wall, and let the other two bags rest on the stone floor. Only then did she turn to him and smile. He couldn't help it, her smile always took his breath away. "Its clean" She said as she walked toward him. "I hope you enjoy my new perfume, by channel… its called Bleach" She laughed slightly as Birkhoff wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap. She slid one arm around his shoulder before he cried out.
"Ah!" He winced.
"Sorry!" She said smiling. "Sunburn. I keep forgetting."
"Yea, keep laughing." He grumbled. "When I get skin cancer, I'm gonna blame you."
"Oh come on, we had fun!" she argued.
"Keep the aloe close… that's all that I ask." He answered.
"Its in my purse." She said then she grew quiet as she turned her body toward the ocean. Birkhoff closed his laptop, then followed her gaze. He rested his chin on her shoulder blade as they sat quietly for a few moments. Finally he reached up and turned her face back toward his.
"We don't have to go back." He said sincerely, and in the moment, he meant it. He had more than enough money and skills to provide for them for the rest of their lives. The last two months had been everything he ever wanted, he could make that last forever.
"Yes, we do." She said with tears filling her eyes. Birkhoff reached up and cupped her face in his hand.
"No…" he said, pleading with her, saying anything to stop the tears.
"We have to finish it B." she said quietly.
"Its not going to be easy." He answered.
"no one said it would be."
"Division is powerful, they are highly organized with branches all over the world. If… and I'm saying big if here… If we can take them down, its going to take a long time." he stopped talking as he tightened his grip around her waist. "there will be losses..."
"I'm afraid too," she said as she relaxed into his arms. "but we can't let that fear drive our decisions." Birkhoff held her in silence for what seemed like a long time before speaking again.
"I don't even have a place to start. I have nothing to go on, I mean I don't know what Nikita has up her sleeve but I'm drawing a big old blank in the strategy department."
"Seriously, I've been combing these files for the last two months and nothing! I have access to more data, more encrypted files, more security specs than I can sort through and I can't even get the engine on this truck to turn over. Nothing is going to come easy in this fight..."
"It's not about what's easy B. it's about what's right."
"Sometimes we must choose between what is right and what is easy." Birkhoff quoted rolling his eyes at her.
"And I think we need to choose what's right, Albus." Claire answered and Birkhoff smirked. "And as for the strategy problem, I may have an idea for that." She climbed off his lap and returned to her bags leaning against the wall. She brought her overnight bag to the table and began to dig inside. She pulled out a large make up bag and set it infront of Birkhoff. "I'm guessing you can work some magic with that."
Birkhoff looked back and forth between Claire and the pink make up bag in front of him. "There are so many bad jokes running through my mind right now…." He finally said "Like did you hear the one about the Scottish Dr—"
"—Open it!" Claire interrupted with a laugh.
"Nah…" Birkhoff answered. "I don't open your purse and I'm sure as heck not going through your make-up."
"Fine!" Claire snapped. She unzipped the pink bag and tipped it allowing a black plastic hard drive, the size of a novel, to fall out onto the table.
DISCLAIMER- OK THIS CHAPTER IS KINDA ROUGH! Don't leave sad, disapointed, or mean reviews please! Only nice thoughts till after the weekend... I'm gonna edit a bit over the weekend and repost, but I wanted it up before the finale for the U.S. If you come back and read it again and it still sucks... leave your dissapointed reviews.
Thank You for reading! That is the end. Please review, especially those of you who up until this point have been silent but I know you're out there reading! If you've read the entire thing, PLEASE review! I want to hear from you. To all those who have been faithfully reviewing all along you are my favorites!
I started a Polyvore Account (I know, lets just add that to my pinterest, facebook, and twitter addictions, clearly I have too much time on my hands) its under the same screen name as this account, so if you're interested in some of the outfits I put together for Claire pop over there and use the search function, choose "Search members" from the dropdown menu.
I'll probably continue to post Fanfiction under Nikita. I'm currently playing with a back story for Birkhoff but I'm not sure if it will become post worthy, honestly its sort of depressing and you all know the ending… he ends up in Division. But the ShadowWalker episode gave me a lot of good material, so I think its getting better! If I can figure out a way to write him more on character, and make it less depressing and more interesting, I'll post. Other than that watch for some one shots, probably featuring my favorite Birkhoff!