Pain Makes It Real

'You're lucky she missed,' Dr. Hanson said, as he began to bandage up Michael's shoulder. He winced as the doctor pressed a little too hard on tender flesh. 'A little lower and I'd be cutting you open instead of sowing you up.'

Michael scoffed slightly at Dr. Hanson's comment. Nikita never missed. Even after 9 years, she still held the record at Division for the distance shot. Okay, maybe not officially-her name had been wiped off the records after her escape-but Michael knew no recruit had ever beaten her score. Hell, not even Michael himself, although to be perfectly honest, he'd stop trying years ago.

So no, he hadn't been lucky. What he had been was stupid. Stupid for not taking the shot, stupid for choosing to let her go. Stupid for falling for her in the first place.

'All done.' Dr. Hanson announced, standing up. 'Here you go...' Michael grunted in pain as the doctor helped him into a sling. 'How does it feel?'

'Feels alright,' Michael grumbled, adjusting the sling over his chest. He felt far from alright; only his shoulder had been hit, but his whole body was on fire.

Dr. Hanson held out a small orange bottle to him. 'You can have these to help with the pain, if you'd like.'

Standing outside her door, Michael rattles the plastic bottle in his hand, stalling for time. Give her the pills. That was all he was gonna do. Give her the pills, and leave. But if she wanted them, she could easily go to the infirmary and get them herself. He doesn't need to be here. He should leave. With a sigh, he puts the plastic bottle in his suit pocket-

And knocks. He does it quickly, before his brain can stop him, and it takes her so long to come to the door that he starts to think he didn't knock after all. But he can't bring himself to do it again, and so he turns to leave.

'Michael?'

She's standing there, slender arm in a cotton sling, a question dancing in her eyes, a smile playing on her lips.

'I thought... You were sleeping.' He lies.

'Sorry,' she laughs. 'Still getting used to moving around with this thing.' She tries to hold out her injured arm, but flinches instead.

Michael's hand shoots out of its own accord, resting gently against her skin, cradling her shoulder. 'You should try not to move it... How does it feel?'

'Feels alright...' She pauses. 'But getting shot sucks... Remind me not to do it again.' Michael laughs as he drops his hand. The heat coming off of her is making it hard to focus. They stare at each other for a long moment before she speaks again. 'So, did you need something?'

Michael suddenly remembers the bottle of pills in his pocket, his little excuse to be here, and hands it to her.

'I thought you might want to have these.' But it was more than that. Much more. He'd never admit it, perhaps not even to himself, but when he saw her go down and his heart skipped a beat at the thought that he had lost her, that she was gone forever, he realized that he was in love with her. Not that he liked her, or that he cared for her.

He loved her.

And now she was hurt, and there was nothing more that he wanted than to be there for her, to hold her in his arms, to take her pain away, to stroke her hair and whisper, 'It will be alright.'

She looks at the small bottle in her hand and shakes her head, handing it back to him.

'I don't want them, Michael.'

'Aren't you in pain?'

'Yes, I am.' She sighs. 'But I want it. Pain makes it... Real.' She whispers. 'It makes me feel alive. And in this place, I need that. Pain is all I got left.'

Michael stares at her, unsure of what to say. No, that's not true. He knows exactly what to say.

You have me.

But he can't say it, because if he does, they'll take her away, and he'll lose her for real. So he stays silent. Her refusal shouldn't have surprised him anyway. She never had anyone to comfort her before, and she didn't expect it now. Not here, and not from him.

'Goodnight Michael,' She smiles sadly at him and closes her door.

'Goodnight, Nikita.' He whispers to no one.

'So do you want them or not, Michael?' Dr. Hanson asked again. Michael stared at the bottle of pills as Nikita's words echoed in his head.

Pain makes it real.

She was right, of course. Pain does make it real. Pain made losing her to another man real. Pain made the loss of Elizabeth and Hayley real. Pain made his whole God dammed, mess of a life feel excruciatingly, fucking real.

Hoping off the table, Michael snatched the bottle from the Doctor's hand and left, swallowing two without water.

If pain made it feel real, then he'd rather feel nothing. Because at the end of the day, not feeling anything was all the only comfort he was gonna get.