"Take him as far away from here as possible. Help him forget."
"He'll be alright."
Nikita looked down solemnly at Adam who returned her glance and slowly grinned before shifting her attention back to Michael.
"According to my father, I was born for this," she said, a slight smile playing across her lips. There was a pause, her eyes wandered nervously as Michael gazed at her, tracing every contour of her face.
"There will be a time," he began carefully, "when Adam won't need me anymore."
Nikita blinked. "You know where I am," she said, almost definitively. His comment had caught her by surprise.
This isn't over, they both thought, unknowingly, at the same time. Michael moved towards her slowly, taking her hand, and their lips met for the last time. She closed her eyes, holding on so tightly to the moment that she could almost hear the music from years ago they once danced to, when he pulled away. Taking Adam's hand, Michael held them both before releasing Nikita and walking away.
She stood there, watching them walk out the door to the train platform, and disappear forever.
Oh my god, she thought. I'm really alone now.
She inconspicuously sniffed back the tears and slid her sunglasses on over her eyes, hiding the redness from sight. I'm really alone.
Raising a hand to cover her slightly gaping mouth, she rubbed her face, took a breath, and turned around.
"Operations, we need you in comm."
Nikita stared at the monitor in front of her and shook her head imperceptibly. She slid her finger over the cool metal button.
"What's the problem, Jason?"
"We're having an issue with egress."
"The Kolkata mission?"
"Patch me in."
Nikita sighed. Brushing her hand against the counter she felt for her earpiece and turned on her heel to look down from the Perch. Below her, people scrambled. The regular dampness of black leather streaking across the floor bled into the splashes of color in comm as panels were exchanged in light of the small crisis happening in Kolkata that needed her attention. She sighed again, and began issuing her instructions.
Night shift began. Slowly the daytime regulars filtered out, replaced by the evening watch. Nikita covered her mouth as she yawned and pressed enter on her keyboard, shuffling through the next set of hotspots from her seat in Systems. Her feet were swung up onto the desk as her eyelids grew heavy, and pressed enter again.
Nikita looked up at the stoic young man standing before her and then back at the screen. "This had better be important, I'm in the middle of something."
She popped the enter key again as the next batch of hotspots emerged on the screen. "Well?"
He looked about himself conspicuously for a moment, nearby techs risking nervous glances at him with the boss clearly disinterested in his presence.
"Ma'am…..you've been here for the past 20 hours. Perhaps you should go for the evening," he said finally, looking down at her.
Nikita paused and sighed. "Perhaps you're right, Will," she said, looking up at him with a slight smile.
"I can take over here," he replied, his expression the same as before.
Nikita's smile widened slightly as she nodded and rose to her feet. She patted him on the shoulder and walked away.
She fumbled with her keys and pushed the door to her condo open. The lights sprang on at the sign of motion, brightening the area around her. Nikita hadn't moved far when she was promoted to Operations ten years ago. She didn't have the heart. She moved instead to the top floor of her old building. She still had the title to her old place on the ground floor. Dropping her purse and her coat on the wooden chair beside the door, she took off her shoes and wandered into the kitchen. The cabinets were mostly bare, and her fridge contained leftovers already spoiled. She sighed, grabbing a box of wheat crackers from a nearby shelf and shut the door. There was a single bottle of wine left on the rack and she grabbed it by the neck and swung it up onto the counter. As she dug around in the utility drawer for a bottle opener, her mind drifted back to the last conversation she'd ever had with him, the last contact that had been made before he disappeared forever. He had hidden himself well- not that she had been looking very hard. She had decided early on not to try and find them. She knew she probably could if she wanted to, that he would leave clues only she would recognize in order to see them through satellites if she wanted, to know they were safe, but she decided against it from the start. Her finding them meant that they could find them, either through backtracing her search or reminding them that he even existed to begin with. She wanted to provoke neither. The first two years of her operational command over the Section were rough ones, ones she wouldn't want to live over again, where at times she was protected by nothing more than her father's lingering reputation long after he had been gone. Things had recovered, though, as she began to pick up on the nuances of how things worked. A new pool of competent operatives began to emerge, strong like they had been strong when she first arrived. Rivalries sprang up here and there as such things were wont to do, but instead of manipulating them as her predecessors had done, she had used it instead as a point of professional competition, encouraging the best out of her field men and women, and inadvertently turning nemeses into grudging colleagues who got the job done. Section One had never seen higher numbers, and then, last year, Walter had died. It had been peaceful, in his sleep. She and Jason had been there, along with some others, as they watched over him that night, saying he'd pass on their love to Birkoff, and then he passed.
Freeing the cork, she poured herself a glass and gingerly took a sip. Her eyes closed as the flavor blossomed on her tongue. She knocked back the rest of the glass and flipped it over on top of the bottle. Collecting her keys, she took the bottle and stepped barefoot out into the hall outside of her door and locked it, boarding the elevator down to the first floor. She took a right and walked down the narrow hall to the familiar door and turned the key in the lock into a dark room. She felt around for a flat surface to set the bottle down on and flicked on the light. The small studio apartment lit up and she smiled in spite of herself. She had left it mostly untouched from the day she moved out save for a few pieces here and there. Closing the door behind her, she grabbed the bottle and set it on the sitting room table. She took the glass from the top of it and set it upright, pulling the jammed cork back out from the top of the wine and pouring herself another glass. She took a heady drink from it and turned slowly to look around herself. It had been awhile since she'd been down to visit. Things had been busy and there had been little time to herself. She turned around suddenly and made her way to her cd player and crouched down. She flipped through the cd cases stacked beside it. Suddenly her fingers brushed across an unmarked case and flinched. Pausing, she carefully pulled it free from the others and opened it, removing the disk and putting it into the disk tray pressing play. The crackling of the record it had originally came from seeped through the digital speakers as the first few strains of guitar notes played. She rose to her feet. "Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp" - she had remembered the name of it when they had run away to the cabin together, and upon her return secretly made a copy of it from another record.
She turned it up, and stepped slowly through the room. She took to the small stair leading to the balcony and carefully pulled back the sheer curtains and opened the door to the evening air. She could no more leave Paris than she could have let him die. Lie to him, yes, always- lying was how they had protected each other. But there had been no more lies on that day. Only the understanding that their situations would not last forever. It was a hope that she held onto tightly in the very depths of her being when most of her had been transformed from that of Nikita to Operations.
Operations. Every time she thought of herself as being that name, she thought of the one she still thought of as the 'real' Operations, that is to say, Paul. She took another large sip from her glass and refilled it quickly in order to take another. He had died admirably enough, she supposed, even if she had later discovered that his intentions has been less than selfless.
She finished her third and fourth glasses of wine and became increasingly sleepy. She sat down on the steps of the stair leading to the open doors and a breeze blew through the room as the soft french chanson flitted through the air. Slowly, slowly she dropped her head down to her arms and drifted to sleep.
The phone rang. She ignored it, shifting with some difficulty on her spot on the stair. Eventually, on condition, her hand found its way to her phone and slid it open.
"Ma'am, where are you? We've been looking for you," a voice said on the other line.
Nikita groaned. "What time is it?" she replied, shading her eyes from the light spilling in from the open balcony doors. It has been foolish of her to leave them open all night, not just from the draft but because of the security risk it posed. She stepped warily to her feet, very cramped, and pulled the doors and curtains closed.
"It's nine in the morning, Ma'am."
She sighed. "I'll be in in an hour."
"Have all profiles on my desk before I get there."
"Already being sorted."
She nodded even though the person on the other line could never see it and closed the call before dragging herself and her mild hangover to the shower.