I have no claims to Nikita. No right.
"He's spotted us!" Alex screeches into her communication device, abandoning any hope of stealth. With it, she abandons the plans and starts retreating through the woods. Branches cut at her face and arms. For all she knows, they've blinded her, but there's so much tree cover, it's hard to tell.
She hears the footsteps behind her, heavy, pounding, and foreboding.
What the mission was about, who it was possible to save, all of it almost leaves her mind.
She takes a moment to feel both piteous and hopeful for them, whoever they were, before a bullet enters her brain.
And somewhere between the initial impact and her actual death does she recall who they were actually trying to save, and her pain is magnified.
She didn't save her, she realizes.
This could make it harder for him.
Nikita and Birkhoff are silent. They don't want to be. They want to speak. They want a distraction. They want to leave behind their grief in witty banter.
You know who had a good grasp of witty banter?
Usually, Birkhoff would think of himself. Because he's that cool. But his mind goes straight to Alex.
"Where's Michael been?" Birkhoff asks, not really caring, lounging on his couch.
"Mission of sorts," Nikita replies, setting down her coffee mug. "Don't let his absence fool you. He's grieving."
"Handling grief with violence and aggression? Isn't that some psychological step to becoming a serial killer?" It's banter-y, but not with the usually witty exuberance that Birkhoff usually has.
"Well, we've skipped serial killer and went straight to Division agent," she smirks half-heartedly.
Birkhoff scrunches his eyebrows together.
Nikita sighs. "Look, Birkhoff," she begins, "I know you and Alex were close, but-"
"Okay, let's not do that," Birkhoff pipes up purposefully. "Let's not do that feeling expression, therapeutic thing and punctuate with a big hug. Let's just sit here and let our feelings fester and not admit to anything until they fade away. Deal?"
"You know that probably isn't healthy," Nikita points out, coming closer to him.
"Yeah, well, neither is my diet, but I'm extremely happy with it."
Nikita smiles good-naturedly, and it reaches her eyes, but a sadness still lingers there. She sits down beside Birkhoff slowly, and he stiffens.
"Let's get right to it, shall we? You had feelings for Alex."
"Whoa, whoa!" Birkhoff bolts up from the couch. "Why did I just tell you? Feelings. They fester. Let them fester. I don't care if it's unhealthy. Let's oil those babies up with grease and calories for all I care. I am not up for dealing with them, Niki."
"No, Nikita, I serious." His voice cracks.
"I know. But since when do I listen to you, of all people?"
Birkhoff sighs dejectedly.
"Alex is dead," Nikita says firmly. The words haven't been uttered since it happened and Birkhoff nearly cringes from them. Even when told the news, those weren't used.
"Hey, you're back," Birkhoff had said, seeing Michael and Nikita enter the building, looking beat up and tired. "Wait, where's Alex?"
Even then, their were grievous looks, no words. Especially not the "D" word.
But here Nikita was, using it almost easily.
"She's dead." She says it again. "And that's hard for me, but-"
"Yeah, I can tell," Birkhoff scoffs. "Sipping green tea and counseling me from the comfort of our own home, or whatever you call it. Yeah. I feel your pain."
"Maybe I've dealt with it, Birkhoff," she says calmly. "After all, that's healthy. Just like my green tea, FYI."
"Well, good for you. Look, here's a metaphor. You're a vegetarian. Good for you. And I don't try to impose meat on you, no matter how delicious bacon cheeseburger are."
"Yes you do," she points out. "Just about every day."
"Yeah, well, that doesn't mean it's right."
He plops himself down in front of the computer. He's yet to close out of the information about their last adventure. There's still a picture of the girl they were trying to save. She's pretty and familiar. Just like the girl that tried to save her was.
"I can imagine what you must be feeling," Nikita continues behind him. "I've lost loved ones, too."
"That's a bit of a stretch, sweetheart," Birkhoff grumbles listlessly. "We were . . . we were friends, I guess."
"At the very least, there was attraction. It was obvious. Probably a lot like things you saw with me and Michael, back in the good old days."
Birkhoff sighed heavily, poking at keys absentmindedly. The pretty girl picture is obscured by mission intel.
"So?" Birkhoff snarls, and it's the closest he's ever come to admission of it.
"Do you feel . . . regretful?"
He doesn't answer.
"Are there thing you wish you would've done?"
He hesitates. There's a long pause, and Nikita thinks he might not answer. She about to rephrase the question when he says, "There were reasons I didn't."
"You know what they say about relationships in the workplace. Not that you've heeded the warnings," he glances in her direction pointedly.
"I think you two could've managed."
"There's also a bit of an age difference," he pointed out, jabbing more keys.
"Nothing too drastic. And, she is . . . she was . . . mature for her age. Internally, she was probably twice as mature as you."
Birkhoff rolls his eyes.
"And she liked you two. That's what girl talk lets you know.
"You know what!" Birkhoff shoots up from his chair and turns to face her angrily. "What is this gonna do, huh? What are you going to accomplish by convincing me that this was right all along and that we could've made it work and that we would've lived happily ever after and . . ."
He goes on likes this for a while. He's ranting, flailing his arms wildly. He punches something at one point., and it flies across the room Nikita isn't sure he even notices, even though his knuckles start oozing blood.
". . . and look, if she was so deathly attracted to me, extremely possible, of course, she could've done something about it, too. I mean, admitted it, for starters."
"I'm not saying you've committed a crime, Birkhoff, but . . ." She stopped suddenly. Was . . . was he crying?
She stood from the couch, her face falling into an expression of exaggerated but honest compassion that Birkhoff probably would've called her out for had he been willing to look at her.
"Hey, Seymour," she began, leaning onto the desk right next to him.
Birkhoff frowned up at her.
"Yeah, you're right, that was weird. Hey, Birkhoff," she corrected. "The past is passed. So let's admit to a few things before we move on. First, you liked Alex."
He hesitates, but it comes out quietly, barely a whisper. "I liked Alex."
"Alex is dead."
He sighs sadly. There it was. The "D" word again. "Alex . . . is dead."
"Right. Now, give it time, and give it up to God, which is actually quite helpful. In Alex's condition, He's actually kind of got a lot of say right now."
Birkhoff shifts his gaze up to her. For the first time, he notices how puffy and red her eyes are. She's not a stone queen, he realizes. She's dealt with it, just like she said.
"She's really dead," he reinforces.
"It's the sad truth of it," Nikita confirms.
"I really liked that girl."
Just then, a request for entry flashes onto the screen in front of them.
"Michael," Nikita tells him. "Let him in."
Birkhoff accepts the request and the window disappears. While he's at it, he closes out the information about the failed mission. Before he can also exit the picture of the girl who was the object of the rescue mission, kidnapped by Division for having alleged information about their whereabouts, Michael saunters in.
"Michael," Nikita greets him, running over to make sure he's okay. He's limping and dirty and his hair is a mess.
"Hey, Nikita," he smiles up at her. He looks awfully happy, despite recent events. "Guess what?"
They both look up at him expectantly.
"I got her."
For a moment, Birkhoff is as ridiculous as to think that he means Alex. That her death was planned, faked for safety reasons. Perhaps she was found near death in the woods and she's about to stagger in and track blood onto his carpet.
But that's not who Michael means.
"Hello?" a more timid voice calls from down the hall.
A face peeks in. It's a familiar face. A familiar, pretty face that they'd been trying to rescue.
"Hi," the girl says. She has light reddish hair and pale skin. "I don't . . . I don't know you, but Michael says we've met before. . . and you like kind of familiar."
Birkhoff grins and reminds himself to not stop being friends with Michael no matter how irritating he gets.
Moving on. It might be a difficult process, but sometimes the initiation can be as sudden the initial tragedy.
"Hey, Alicia," Birkhoff smiles warmly.
Thanks for reading!
If Alex ever actually dies in the show, I hope Birkhoff is torn up about it.
Well, actually, I hope neither of them ever die. Yeah, I like that plan better.