So this is my second Nikita fic, set immediately after series 2 episode 9, Fair Trade. Purely a phone conversation between Birkhoff and Michael. Hope you enjoy :)

Birkhoff was in position: seated comfortably in his computer chair, with pillows for extra padding, his essential supply of taurine-packed drinks within reach. His one fully-functioning hand was poised above the keyboard, ready to carry out any necessary command, hack into any intelligence network and cypher any loaded bank account. The other lay in his lap, bandaged and throbbing like hell. Whatever relief the ice pack was supposed to give, he wasn't feeling it.

Screw Amanda. Screw Amanda to hell.

The shrill ring of his cell phone cut through his thoughts and Birkhoff's reaction was immediate, slipping it from his pocket with sharp, well-practised movements and holding it to his ear in a heartbeat.

"Hey, Niki, what's up?" he greeted, ready to receive any number of military instructions and carry them out to the letter. It was fair to say he was surprised to hear a distinctly male voice answer him.

"Hey, Birkhoff. It's Michael."

"Oh, sorry, Michael," apologised Birkhoff, "I was expecting Nikita. What's up? Do you need me to pull some more CCTV?"

"No, uh, actually I don't need anything." Michael paused. "I'm calling… Well, actually I'm just calling to make sure you're all right. Nikita's been a little quiet lately and hasn't told me much."

"Oh." Birkhoff suddenly wasn't sure what to say. Honestly, he couldn't remember the last time someone called him to ask how he was.

"So," said Michael, slightly awkwardly. "How are you?"

Birkhoff swallowed back the lump in his throat. "Er, yeah – on the mend, I guess. Shadow Walker'll be back on the net in no time!" he said, with a confidence that he didn't quite feel.

"What…" Michael began hesitantly. "What exactly did they do to you?"

Birkhoff closed his eyes as a shudder tore through him at the memories. The beatings, being looked at as if he were worthless scum by the people he once knew and worked with, and that long, elegant, sinister-looking cranial needle that had threatened to destroy his mind. His intelligence and his knowledge – all that he had and all that he would ever need.

The feeling as it pierced through his flesh, drawing blood and creeping ever closer to the precious frontal lobe of his brain.

Nikita's whereabouts on the tip of his tongue, ready to be screamed to the enemy.

"Birkhoff?" Michael sounded concerned.

The computer tech cleared his throat. "Yeah, sorry. Spaced out for a second there."

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah. No worries."

"So what happened in there?" Michael really wished that this conversation could've been in person. He felt entirely trapped in the dark being unable to see his friend's face.

"I'd rather not talk about it," Birkhoff deflected.

"Okay. Does Nikita know?" Michael tried another tactic.

"What is this?" Birkhoff suddenly shouted angrily. "An interrogation? Because I sure could do without one of those right now!"

"Whoa, okay. I'm sorry." Michael's voice softened. "They really got to you, huh?"

"I almost gave up Niki." Birkhoff's voice was shaking as he confessed.

"Birkhoff – "

"No, Mikey! I was going to do it! I was literally a second away from telling Amanda everything! Our location, Owen, the black box, you being in London – everything! Don't you understand that?" A tear slipped down Birkhoff's cheek as he realised the enormity of the betrayal he had been about to commit. He would've betrayed his friends – his only, true friends – and cost them all their lives.

"It doesn't matter, Birkhoff." Michael's voice was strong and reassuring. "The point is that you didn't tell Amanda anything. You kept us safe."

"Sure doesn't feel that way," Birkhoff said bitterly, disgusted with himself. "I'm sorry, Mikey," He said brokenly.

"Hey," Michael rebuked gently. "Don't be. I'm just glad you're safe and still part of the team."

A sniff was heard across the phone. "Thanks."

Michael smiled. "So, you've been taking your anti-inflammatories?"

Birkhoff groaned miserably. "As if I have a choice! Nikita's on guard duty taking stock of my every move!"

The former Division agent laughed. "Good. Would hate for your pretty face to be ruined."

"At least I have a pretty face," Birkhoff shot back, easing up at the familiar banter with his friend.

Another laugh. "Well, I guess we'll see about that when I get back."

"You're coming back soon, right?" Birkhoff asked, a touch of childlike hopefulness to his voice.

Michael smiled warmly. "Can't let you guys do all the work."

Birkhoff grinned. "Wouldn't do for you to develop a lazy tendency, either."

"I don't think any sort of relationship with Nikita would be possible if I did," he joked.

"You know she really misses you," said Birkhoff, his voice unexpectedly serious.

"And I her," Michael countered evenly. "But I need this time with my son. I'll be back to help you conquer Division soon, I promise."

"You'd better be," conceded Birkhoff. "Hey, Michael, I know I'm the last person who should be offering relationship advice, but are you sure you know what you're doing?"

Michael sighed wearily. "To be honest, Birkhoff, no. If I were you I'd be asking myself the exact same question."

"Just be careful, Mikey," warned Birkhoff. "Niki's not been herself lately. I'm worried about her."

"I know," said Michael regretfully. "Keep an eye on her for me. Make sure she doesn't do anything stupid before I get back."

"You got it," said Birkhoff. "Just make sure you're back soon so I don't have to deal with Niki alone for much longer. I'm pretty hopeless."

"I'm sure you're coping," Michael reasoned.

"Just like I am as Relationships Advisor?"


"I thought so," said Birkhoff triumphantly, although he wasn't sure he should be triumphant.

"Okay, you win," yielded Michael. "I have to go. Birkhoff, if you need anything – and that includes advice on Nikita dramas – you call me. Got it?"

Birkhoff smiled. "I got it. Look after yourself, Mikey."

"You too, Birkhoff. And remember those anti-inflammatories!"