Title: Fists and Bullets
Genre and/or Pairing: Nikita/Michael
Spoilers: General spoilers through 1x12
Warnings: A little bit of violence (see title), non-graphic sexual content, mild language. Character death.
Word Count: About 3,000
Summary: Forgiveness doesn't come easy. (It never has, particularly for someone as incessantly angry as Michael.)
Fists and Bullets
Forgiveness doesn't come easy.
(It never has, particularly for someone as incessantly angry as Michael.)
She saved him. Even though he didn't want to be saved. Perhaps one day that will mean more. Perhaps one day he will know whether he wants to punch her or thank her for her service.
The truth is: when it comes to forgiveness, Michael doesn't even know how to start.
She hides; he finds her.
They fight; she escapes.
It quickly becomes a familiar routine.
She wonders if there will come a day when they will be able to stand in the same room with each other without bullets flying or fists swinging. She wonders if one day he'll stop looking, if one day she'll stop hiding.
It's a day that will likely never come.
But she keeps hoping
He remembers when they brought her in.
She was this delicate little thing, all skin and bones, cuts and bruises. He remembers how she woke up, not scared and shivering, but feisty and fighting.
He remembers the black eye she gave him.
He hadn't expected her to wake up swinging. It's one of the reasons he now waits on the other side of the room for his new recruits to wake up. (Is it an extreme measure? Just maybe. But he has a right to be paranoid.)
Nikita had always been a fighter. She had always been exceptional: strong, smart…
It happens when she least expects it.
Nikita is meeting a contact when Michael finds her. It's a bar this time. Some little place in the middle of nowhere.
In less than one minute they're fighting teeth and nail. It's dirty and unsportsmanlike and rough. She'll have a dozen and a half bruises tomorrow, but it will be worth it if she gets out of this particular scuffle alive.
He flips her onto the pool table, hand at her throat. His teeth are clenched; his jaw is tight. She squirms, searching for the upper hand and not finding it.
They next thing she knows, both of them have stopped moving completely.
He steps back. Releases her.
They breathe for a moment, deep, heavy breaths; each eyes the other carefully, waiting for them to make a wrong move, so they can return to something they understand: fists and bullets.
His fingers stretch out towards her; they brush lightly against her arm.
The contact burns, but she can't move away.
It's the first time he's really touched her without the intent to subdue her since the whole incident with Kasim. It's the touch of a former Michael, a Michael of the past: the Michael who watched out for her, the Michael who protected her, the Michael who had always protected her, and who she had once believed always would.
"Come with me," she whispers.
"I can't." He's resolute.
She wants to argue, wants to tell him that yes, he can. They can take down Division one notch at a time; they can be together. She doesn't say a word.
She spins away from him. Turns back.
It's not the first time she asks him to join her; it won't be the last.
But it is the first time he actually considers it.
He hasn't forgiven her yet.
But he still can't kill her.
It's not as much of a problem as it should be.
They continue to take turns saving each others lives, neither quite willing to completely even the score. He still protects her from Percy, he likely always will. If there is one thing Nikita loves about Michael, it's his protectiveness.
He's doubtlessly saved her life dozens upon dozens of times; times too numerous to count. Times when she was foolish; times when she screwed up; times she doesn't even remember or even know about.
She wonders sometimes if their score will ever truly be even.
They meet again at another formal event.
At first it's all cleverly concealed verbal barbs and heated looks.
And then they dance, for no real reason other than Nikita jokingly asks and Michael shocks her by saying yes. Since she's never been one to back down from a challenge, no matter how it's presented to her, Nikita lets him lead her onto the floor.
Then it's just the two of them (the rest of the world has dimmed down into background noise) and the electricity that crackles between their bodies is so tangible Nikita thinks she could reach out and touch it. They're so close together she can smell his aftershave, so close that if she wanted she could lean forward and feel his lips on hers.
(And at the same time, they're so, so very far away)
"Michael," she whispers, eyes never leaving his. "Come with me."
His eyes say yes. His lips don't breathe a word.
And then when they finally get to the part where the fists swing and the bullets fly, she gives him a black eye; he tears her dress.
And then she runs, leaving him standing with ripped chiffon in his hands as he watches her flee.
He'll never be able to kill her.
Some part of his brain registers this. Oh, he can physically hurt her, sure, but bruises and cuts are something they've been trading for a long time. They exchange blows like currency, while Percy and Amanda trade in lies, deceptions and half-truths. (Michael's never really had the patience for a long, drawn out deception; Nikita's never really had the heart.)
Michael thinks that when it comes to Nikita, no matter how hot his hatred burns, no matter how many times his fist meets her jaw, or his bullet grazes her thigh, he's almost certain he would never truly hurt her. Not like Percy hurt her when he killed Daniel.
But he's reached the point where he knows – knows for absolute certainty – that he'll never be able kill her.
Maybe that's one step towards forgiveness.
He's always in black – her dark, omnipresent shadow. He's her black knight, always watching over her.
She thinks she sees him in her rear view mirror; he haunts her dreams at night. Sometimes he holds a gun to her head (she'll never tell, but she actually prefers those dreams); other nights she tastes his kisses on her lips and drowns in the sensation of his fingers on her skin (she'll never admit it, but these dreams actually scare her more than anything Percy's ever done).
When she wakes, it's always to find that either the cool press of a gun to her temple is gone or the warmth of his arms has vaporized.
When she wakes, it always takes far too long for her heart to stop racing.
It happens when she chooses his life over one of Percy's precious black boxes.
She should, for the success of her mission, rescue the box from certain destruction. She should retrieve the data. Instead, she lets it fall back into Division's hands.
Maybe it's because her humanity hasn't been completely poisoned by revenge or maybe it's because somehow whenever anything relates to a person she loves – in this case, Michael – Nikita finds that she is incapable of selfishness.
She tells herself that she would do the same for Owen, Alex, or Ryan. But the truth is that it's Michael whose life was in danger, and she didn't even take the time to weigh the consequences before she made the instinctive decision to rescue him instead of securing a victory in her plan for vengeance.
(The truth is that she just can't lose him.)
There is a moment when she knows he comprehends the magnitude of what she's just freely given up for him; he looks at her and the disbelief in his eyes is enough to tear straight through her soul.
Thousands of words unspoken pass between them during that one glance.
(They've gotten used to communicating without saying a word. Nikita's never been one for overt sentimentality; Michael's never been one to bend the rules.)
It's a moment weighed down by everything they've never said and everything they'll likely never say.
And in that moment…Michael forgives her.
Three months later, he finally decides the next time she asks him to join her, his answer will be yes.
His motives are many and varied. Ever since Nikita went rogue he's been storing reasons to betray Percy like gunpowder. His anger serves as a short fuse.
The spark that ignites the explosion is the moment Percy flips Alex's kill switch and he watches the tiny red blip on the screen dissolve into nothingness.
Two days later (Michael's never been a patient man) Nikita returns to her hideaway to find him standing in the center of her sanctuary.
"What are you doing here?" she asks. (She knows the answer before her lips even form the question. She just didn't think today would be the day.)
Neither one has drawn a gun yet, but their entire bodies are lethal weapons.
"He killed Alex," is the only answer Michael can give.
Nikita's rage is damn near uncontrollable.
(It's her grief, really, but it's manifesting as rage, so that's what Michael calls it.)
It tells Michael exactly how much she truly cared for the girl.
She practically goes off the deep end, disappearing for days on end to do who knows what, without telling him where she's going or who she's meeting.
(Sometimes she comes back with a black eye or a swollen lip; sometimes she returns with weapons or information; sometimes she's just empty-handed.)
When she is around, she's either slamming her fists into punching bags or loading and cleaning her guns. Most of the time Michael leaves her be, lets her hit and kick until her knuckles bleed, lets her clean and polish her weapons until they're spotless.
One day though, when he finds her on the floor, broken and weeping, mouth open in a silent cry, he discovers that he can't just leave her there in her misery. So he finally intervenes. She beats her fists against his chest weakly and struggles in his arms as he holds her.
(He's been holding her together for a long time; it's never gotten any easier.)
And then he sees that spark of something distinctly Nikita in her eyes, and they fight. Because really, it's all they've ever been good at doing, and it's the only thing that actually makes sense right now.
Except they aren't on opposite sides anymore, and she doesn't run away at the first sign that he's probably going to win. (He's Michael; truth be told, he could always win, always beat her, always find her, always catch her. His heart was just never in it before.)
They fall onto the floor together, him above her, their limbs hopelessly tangled.
When she's finally ceased struggling, she arches her body up against his and kisses him. It's somehow sloppy and needy and agonizingly slow all at the same time.
Then his existence becomes all about quick shuddering breathes caught between Nikita's long, unhurried kisses. It becomes clothes frantically stripped away and tossed carelessly on the floor, it's his lips on her skin and her fingers pressed against his chest.
It's raw and achingly tender, every touch and movement heavily laden with thick emotion.
They don't say a word.
(She can't speak; he doesn't want to.)
He thrills in the sensation of his fingers on her skin and in the way that she clings to him like he's the last thing she has left.
(Maybe he is.)
They're opposite sides of the same coin, two pieces of the same puzzle.
(Still dangerously close to being enemies; still so far from being friends.)
He needs her; she needs him.
They complete each other.
(They'll just never admit it.)
She leaves before he wakes up.
(It's not that she can't face him; it's not that she doesn't want to face him.)
It's just that all her plans are slipping through her fingers like sand, and sleeping with Michael might just be incredible lapse of judgment. (Or the best mistake she's ever made; it's too close to call.) Now she just needs some time to see if she can get her head screwed on straight. She needs to get her focus back on her mission, on the bullets in her gun with Percy's name on them and on finding the one spark that will burn Division to the ground.
When she gets back, he's apparently decided that her absence means she doesn't want to talk about it, so they don't.
(She's Nikita and he's Michael and they've never done anything the easy way.)
Three days later they both decide they've had it with the tension simmering between them, and they end up back between the sheets.
Except this time, she hears her name fall from his lips between kisses and touches.
And when his eyes open in the morning she's sleeping soundly next to him.
Division dies a slow, painful death.
Turns out, even Percy's carefully constructed house of cards can fall.
(Then again, he was up against Nikita, girl of nine thousand lives and the possessor of a fiery vengeance that knows no equal.)
She gives Percy a bullet for Alex and a bullet for Daniel, and a third, Michael suspects, for what her life could have been.
And sure, maybe another covert black-ops program will pop up one of these days. Division wasn't the first of its kind and Michael doubts that it will be the last.
But Nikita's the creation that finally succeeded in killing her creator.
Michael hopes that is enough for now.
He finds her in the aftermath.
(He always finds her. No matter where or for how long she runs.)
She sits on a park bench in the rain, the water dripping down her face, soaking her clothes. She's not defeated, but she isn't exactly defiant either.
She glances up at him, dark eyes lined with exhaustion. Once a fighter, she now has nothing to fight for. She's empty and drained. There's nothing left. No crusade, no war left to win. It's done. Finished.
(So is she.)
Where does she go? What does she do? Does she even care anymore?
Her drive for vengeance kept her alive. If she died, who would take down Percy? Who would stand against Division? Revenge outshone her grief and now that she's seen to the settling of scores, her misery and anguish are all that remain.
Michael sits next to her. They don't look at each other.
"You did it."
She doesn't reply.
"I think I always knew you would."
She reaches in her jacket pocket, and slowly withdraws a knife. It's his knife, and the fact that she's returning it now speaks volumes.
"I don't know where to go," she whispers.
He takes the weapon from her and his fingers linger. It's not a caress, just a simple touch.
"You think you don't have anything left to live for?" he asks, and she hears the echo in his words, remembers a different night in the rain, driving through a storm, praying to whatever power was up there that she wouldn't lose Michael too.
They look at each other, eyes locking together.
They've weathered so much; they've survived so much.
(Together and apart, but always together in the end.)
Michael leans back against the park bench and answers his own question.
"You do," there is a long pause, during which time she feels a lump growing in her throat and tears pricking her eyes despite the fact that she's Nikita, and Nikita sure as hell doesn't cry.
They've lost and found each other so many times she's lost count. She doesn't know why this time should feel so different, so permanent. His voice is the same as always, low, rough. Still as haunted as ever, but the three words he says next – words she once told him, what feels like another lifetime ago – make all the difference in the world.
"You have me."