I AM SOOO SORRY!
Okay, I know this chapter is WAAAY past its overdue date. So if any of you hate me (even if it's just a tiny bit), I understand. I'd hate myself too. But things have just been crazy for me so I haven't had much time to sit down and write.
But for everyone who's still sticking this out with me, my lovely Reviewers, and to those who PM reminding me to update, oh gosh, you people are just so amazing. Thank you so much for your patience and for your time! If I could send you all gifts, chocolates, and cookies, I would.
So anyway, really hope this chapter makes it up to everyone, even in a small way.
Chapter 14: Deception
"Do you have any idea how I would feel if I lost you?" – 2x07
Nikita didn't know what to feel.
Her head couldn't wrap around what just happened. She still couldn't get over it…
How could she not have known?
How could she not have seen it?
They were just a diversion.
That unsettling feeling that something was not right. Why the Division strike team didn't kill them…
it wasn't their orders in the first place.
They weren't the targets.
Owen, Alex, and Ilya were.
Nikita could still hear her daughter's terrified scream echoing in her ears.
'Targets down' the agent had said.
How many times had she said those words too? Never had that phrase meant so much to her. Never had she imagined the feeling of hearing the other side, the devastating end of it.
They're not… They can't be…
When she felt Michael pull her towards his chest and held her tightly, it was only then Nikita realized how hollow she felt. And that she was shaking and tears were streaming down her face. Everything was so out of sync that she didn't know what to the hell was going on anymore.
Targets down… Ilya, Alex, Owen… Ilya…
"Nikita," Michael said. His voice didn't hide the feelings that he felt. He cupped her face in both his hands and made her look up to him. His emerald green eyes were intense and glassy with unshed tears. He shook his head and begged her, "No, Nikita, don't. Don't go there."
Her response was only a burble of incoherent words and tears.
An almost unfamiliar hand gently pressed against the small of her back. She jerked slightly in surprise. She had already forgotten that Birkhoff was there too. In fact, she had forgotten a lot of things at that moment.
She glanced sideways at him. He looked disheveled as he wiped away the wetness that had formed around his eyes. A part of her disjointed mind became more confused as to why Birkhoff was crying.
Nikita was about to escalate into hysterics if not for the next words out of Birkhoff's mouth were:
"I think they're still alive."
Michael's arms around her tightened.
Her mind and heart reeled.
"What?" Nikita breathed.
"All three of them, they're still alive. I think." Birkhoff repeated, a half-smile of relief appeared on his face as he shakily tapped into his computer tablet. He rambled, "I remembered that I in-installed a camera on the rear v-view mirror in the car awhile b-back and it was capable of real-time feed so I checked it and I-I – here."
He turned the gadget towards them and gave it to Michael.
The crash had done a number on the camera. Almost half of the view had turned black and the remaining part had become somewhat hazy. But from what they could see, Ilya was leaning to one side of her car seat, still unconscious, blood dripping from a small gash on her forehead. Nikita could feel her heart hammer against her chest at that sight. What she wouldn't give to exchange places with her daughter at that moment.
Owen was out of the camera's view so they couldn't see how he was doing. They could only hope for the best.
But Alex had already, though slowly, regained consciousness.
Nikita bit down on the bottom of her lip as her breath got caught in her throat. Another bout of fear and anxiety bubbling just beneath her surface.
Lolling her head to the side, Alex reached up to push away some of the hair that had fallen over her face, wincing a bit as she did so. Feeling that she seemed okay despite that spots on her blue shirt had turned a deep shade of violet, she looked up and stretched her hand out to the driver's side, presumably to check on Owen's pulse or trying to wake him up.
But somehow, the knowledge of her friends' well-being was a secondary concern to Nikita right now. She almost wanted to plead aloud at Alex to hurry up and check on Ilya but she remembered that it was only a recording. And then guilt flooded through her as she realized that she placed her child's welfare above her friends'. And when she realized that Alex was also pregnant, it just made her feel even worse.
But it was Ilya. She was her daughter.
No matter what, Nikita would always put Ilya's life first. Even before her own.
So as Alex reached to the back and checked for the 5-year-old's pulse on her wrist, Nikita instinctively leaned in closer to the computer tablet in anticipation. After making sure that everyone else was alive, a visible sigh of relief escaped Alex's lips.
Nikita also exhaled the breath she had been holding. A small sliver of ease washed over her. They were alive. Birkhoff had a hunch that they were but it was different from actually seeing it. Her daughter, her friends, her family. They were alive. She closed her eyes briefly and let a few tears escape.
But the few moments of respite had made her temporarily forget about the threat.
As she opened her eyes, that terror came back in full force.
The door to Alex's side had been wrenched open and she was now fighting off a pair of Division agents that were trying to restrain her. But her seatbelt limited her movement. She was losing fast, almost getting weaker by the second. After receiving a blow to her jaw, knocking her to the side of her seat, the reason became visible: Alex had been shot with a tranquilizer dart on the neck.
After making sure she was fully passed out, a couple of more hands reached in and dragged the unconscious passengers out of the car and into the rain.
A chilling sensation ran down Nikita's spine when she saw that Ilya had the same red dart stuck on her arm.
But when she caught a glimpse of the person who carried Ilya out, Nikita's stomach gave an almighty lurch. She didn't know if she was going to retch and tremble in fear or to cry out and lash in anger and desperation.
Roan had her daughter.
A few seconds after the car had been cleared, a remote charge that was placed by one of the agents on the backseat was activated – blowing up the vehicle, destroying evidence, and effectively cutting off the video feed in the process.
Staring into the black screen, Nikita couldn't seem to take her eyes away from it. She was breathing heavily, like the air in her lungs had just disappeared. Everything seemed like an out-of-body experience.
"They're still alive." Birkhoff stated again, in a much lower and bleak voice. It was like he couldn't get past that. He shuffled a bit, before sinking into the nearest chair and burying his face into his hands.
Nikita still continued to gaze at the computer tablet, even though there was nothing more to see in it. Her mind was still trying to make sense of it all.
Why… Why Ilya?
Why not her instead?
Setting the tablet on a side table, Michael looked lost just as much as she was. He said, almost in an empty voice, "Division has them."
Division… Division had her family… Her daughter...
Just like that, that thought got the gears in Nikita's head turning. She had to do something. And fast. Division can't win. Not anymore. She had been running for too long. It had to stop once and for all.
And they have just given her the greatest motivation she will ever need.
Anger replaced her despair. Fortitude against hopelessness. A new wave of adrenaline coursed through her veins.
"Not for long." She declared, making Michael and Birkhoff look at her. She stared back at them, determination clear in her brown eyes.
If Division wanted a fight, they were going to get it. The stakes were higher for her than ever but it didn't matter.
She will get her family back.
No matter what it takes.
Her change in attitude had affected Michael. He gave her a small nod. Her resoluteness and willpower was contagious.
"Birkhoff," He said, his voice crisp and clear. The stern tone was familiar. It was the same one he used when he was focused on a mission. And this particular one was just as important to him as it was to Nikita. He ordered, "Get us the location."
Doing as he was told, Birkhoff got up his seat and scrambled to fire up the remaining usable computers.
Seeing that the other two had found something to do, Nikita decided to prepare as well. She strode across the living room, heading for the armory. Time was of the essence. A list of weapons she was going to need was already forming in her mind.
But just as she stepped into the kitchen, she heard Birkhoff's nervous voice say, "I-I can't find them."
She stopped and turned around.
"What?" Michael's voice rose, "What do you mean you can't find them? The car had a GPS – get its last known loca–"
"Check Ilya's trackers," Nikita interrupted, returning into living room. She crossed her arms against her chest, hiding her clenched fists. She was already high-strung as of the moment, and she desperately needed to concentrate for the mission.
And with her patience wearing very thin, adding more to her edginess was seriously not a good idea.
Now was definitely not a good time for things not to go her way.
"You think I didn't try that?" Birkhoff told her. His eyes never left the screen as his fingers typed rapidly over the keyboard. He murmured, "Someone must've jammed the signal."
"Then un-jam it!" Nikita snapped, her tone sounding harsher than she intended. She almost felt sorry and guilty when Birkhoff flinched but his abrupt and curt tone had irked her more than usual. He'll understand. "What's the use of having multiple trackers if we can't use them?"
"Birkhoff –", Michael started to say.
"I'm trying! I'm trying! Chill!" he said, lifting a hand to stop them from saying anything else. Birkhoff's shoulders hunched even more as he concentrated on his task. "It's not as easy as you think!"
Nikita let out a huff and turned on her heel to go.
Entering the armory, she peeled off her ripped, dirty shirt and threw it to the side. Taking out one of the emergency bags they had kept in the cabinet, Nikita changed into a black razor-backed tank top (so as not to irritate her injury further), leggings, and boots. She finished off her on-a-mission sort of uniform by grabbing a bulletproof vest and an ever-functional leather jacket.
But it took her a bit longer than usual to change because of the open wound on her shoulder. Apparently all the events that occurred made her and Michael forget that she still had to be patched and bandaged up. Nikita just winced at the pain and shook it off. There wasn't time for that anymore.
Striding over to the other side of the room, she pulled out a black duffel bag and started to stuff it with different firearms – from pistols to sub-machine guns – and so many clips that she lost count. She also threw in some remote charges and grenades for good measure.
Just as she lifted the strap of the bag, Nikita let out a gasp. The strain she had placed on her arm exacerbated her wound, making it shoot a blinding pain. She dropped to her knees on the floor and clutched her injured arm with her free hand. She could feel blood trickling down her shoulder. Biting her lower lip and squeezing her eyes shut, Nikita endured the waves of pain and silently wished and waited for it to go away.
Opening her eyes, she saw that Michael had entered the room and dashed over to her. He always had a knack for perfect timing, always seeing her at her most vulnerable. His face contorted into that of concern, seeing her condition.
"I'm fine," she muttered. "It's nothing."
"I said I'm fine, Michael." She hissed. It was frustrating to her, not being able to move as quickly as she would've like. She knew she couldn't afford anymore delays. The more time apart, the smaller their window of opportunity of finding Ilya and the others was.
Nikita let out a small grunt as Michael helped her get up. He grabbed the bag, her vest, and her jacket in one hand, and secured the other around her waist for support.
"Maybe you should stay." He told her as they left the armory. "I could –"
"No way." Nikita interrupted, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. "Don't even think about it."
He didn't answer her, except for a slight roll of the eyes at her stubbornness.
They remained silent on their way back to the living room.
In some part of her mind, Nikita made a mental note that she might have to pack some anesthetic before they go.
"I have their location!" Birkhoff announced, when he caught sight of the pair, "They're currently in Diamond Valley heading west."
"Diamond Valley," Nikita repeated as Michael sat her (somewhat forcefully) down on the couch. He also pulled the bulletproof vest and leather jacket away from her when she tried to reach for it, making her glare at him. But he just turned around and placed everything he was holding on a worktable. She frowned as she thought aloud, "That's about sixteen minutes from here."
Michael, who had opened the bag to check on the items that had been packed, stiffened. Facing them, his expression was alarmed as he stated, "They're heading for the airport."
Nikita glanced up to him, her eyes wide.
But the time it'll take for them to even just reach the place…
Her heart sank.
She whispered, "We'll never make it in time."
The image of Ilya, Alex, and Owen flashed through Nikita's mind.
It can't be…
"No, we still can," Michael said, straightening up. He walked over to Birkhoff and pointed to the screen. His voice was firm and commanding as he ordered, "Hack into the airport's system. Flight navigation, cameras, satellites, everything."
"Include all heliports too," Nikita stated, pushing her mind to focus. She tried to recall all the fastest ex-fil points she knew about the place, "There's at least two on the island, excluding the resorts. One in Port St. Charles and in Bridgetown."
"The one in Bridgetown is closed." Birkhoff interrupted, "It's not operational."
"No," Michael shook his head, "It's still an airstrip. It can still be used. Hack into all of them."
It didn't take more than 20 seconds before Birkhoff said, "Done. Now what?"
Michael hesitated, making Nikita glance up to him. He looked unsure of what to say, what to decide on. He glanced at the broken window then back to the computers. Another second passed before she saw the resolve that finally settled in his face. Setting his jaw, he said, "Do your worst. Make sure no flight gets in or out of this island for the longest time possible."
Getting up and walking over to the windows, Nikita peeked behind the Kevlar blinds. It was already dark and still raining hard outside. Turning around, comprehension dawned on her face as she realized Michael's plan. By having the systems in the airport's air traffic control tower malfunction, incoming flights would most likely be redirected while all of the outgoing ones would have a strong chance to be advised to stay aground. They'd all be stuck on the island until the weather got better or when the systems got back up and running.
There was still a possibility that the Division strike team would take a risk and fly out though. It was dangerous and a hell lot of crazy but it was something they would do (it was actually what she would do too in certain situations). But hopefully the weather – the one thing that was on their side – would be enough to delay them even for just a few minutes, or if with any luck, maybe hours.
It wasn't much to bank on. But they didn't have any other options.
Birkhoff looked somewhat stunned. He had removed his fingers from the keyboard so fast it was as if they had caught on fire. He questioned, "Are you serious? We're talking about international air traffic here."
"Just do it!" Nikita spat harshly. When things were over, she really was gonna have to suck up and apologize to her friend for all her short-temperedness. But that was for another occasion. Right now, things were already time-bound and precarious enough without him doubting their decisions. They needed to move fast.
The computer expert glanced at her and let out a small sigh. For a split second, his hands were paused over the keyboard, clenching then unclenching. They all knew that once Birkhoff placed everything in motion, there was no going back.
He started typing.
A second later, Michael clamped a hand on the younger man's shoulder and added, "Check into all flight manifests too. I wanna know who's been in the island in the last week. See if you could run them through facial recognition on all known Division agents."
Ignoring the pain in her shoulder every time she moved her arm, Nikita went over to the duffel bag to get a handgun. She strapped one into her boot, her thigh holster, and one by her back. By the time she had tucked a knife in her other boot, Michael was already by her side. He took her hand just as she reached over to get an extra set of fully-loaded clips.
"You're still bleeding." He said, glancing at her shoulder.
"It doesn't matter," Nikita pulled her hand out of his grasp, wincing a bit at the pain that shot throughout her arm.
"Yes, it does," Michael argued, "You're wounded. You –"
"I can still hold a gun," She cut him off, looking up to him. Though there was fear and anxiety in the surface, there was also determination that flared behind her eyes.
He continued to stare at her with some apprehension and doubt. "Nikita–"
"Oh holy Batman."
"What?" Michael and Nikita said in unison, turning their heads towards Birkhoff.
The younger man leaned in closer to the computer screen and squinted. "The Flight Service Station flagged an incoming plane in Grantley Adams a few minutes ago."
"Who's it registered to?" Michael asked.
Birkhoff swallowed as he faced them. Looking a bit wan, he informed them, "Zetrov."
Silence swept through them as they took in that information. Nikita felt her chest tighten. Her knees went weak, making her lean on the edge of the table for support.
It was bad enough that they had to deal with Division, now Gogol was going to join the foray too? Did the two organizations team up, or was this going to be a three-way fight?
Either one, they were the underdogs. They were already outgunned and outnumbered as it is.
"It can't be a coincidence." Michael said quietly.
"They're here for Alex." Nikita heard herself say. The words just escaped her lips but her mind wasn't really processing it. But it appeared to be the only thought that made sense. Panic rose again as another realization hit her. Turning to the man by her side, she uttered in a voice barely above a whisper, "Michael, we have to go. If they mistake Ilya as Alex's daughter, she could be…"
Her lower lip trembled. She couldn't say it. Much less think about it.
"Whoa, whoa, wait." Birkhoff suddenly said, making them look at him again. He frowned as he typed rapidly. After he noisily jabbed the last key, he turned one computer screen towards Michael and Nikita. "There's a message."
They both went closer to read it.
Nikita. 7:00. Tonight. Come alone.
"Come alone?" Michael repeated. His eyebrows knitted as he stared at the screen, reading the message again as if trying to find a hidden meaning somewhere. "Where?"
"They're banking on us to find them." Nikita was feeling sick. "Or they know that Ilya has a tracker."
"But alone? That's suicide," Birkhoff said, quickly glancing at her. Worry was visible in his eyes. Worry for her.
Turning around, Nikita felt like she was in a daze. She walked over to the couch and sat down, running a hand through her hair. A resigned sigh escaped her lips.
By getting to her, the others had to suffer. Nikita felt disgusted with herself. It was all because of her that everyone, and her own daughter, was in danger. It was all her fault.
Why did every person she cared about somehow always ended up getting hurt?
Looking up, Nikita gazed at Michael and Birkhoff, who were talking in low tones (no doubt planning some sort of alternative plan). Before long, her heart couldn't take it anymore. It was too much. If Ilya, Alex, and Owen weren't enough, she also worried about the two men who she loved with all her heart, and who have known her for the most time too.
She looked at Birkhoff, the brother she never had, the person she had owed her life to so many times that she already lost count. And then to Michael, her partner, the love of her life. She had only gotten him back. They were finally a family…
Her eyes stung with repressed tears. She couldn't bear to let anything bad happen to them.
She knew if they were to defy the order on the message and attack, the chances of all of them escaping with their lives were very slim.
She couldn't have that.
Maybe going alone really is the better choice, Nikita thought. Yes, it may be suicide, but at least, no one else would be placed in harm's way. If Division wanted her so much, she could exchange her life for the others.
She could accept that.
"We don't have a choice," she stated, standing up. Her voice was steady and resolute as she looked at them, "It's the only way."
Michael was in front of her in a couple of strides. He told her, "Nikita, we are facing Division, probably even Gogol–"
"It's the only way, Michael," she pressed. Her brown eyes were pleading for him to understand. Please.
His lips formed a hard line as he stared at her. A muscle in his jaw twitched. His eyes were intense as he said, "I'm still coming with you."
"No, Michael," She gripped his arm with her right hand. Her nails dug into his skin as her throat seemed to close in on her. Why couldn't he see that it was the only way for everything to stop? Her voice was strained and thick as she reasoned, "They only want me. It would only complicate the situation if you were there too."
I can't lose you.
But she found herself not being able to say those 4 words.
"You don't think I'm letting you go in there alone, do you?" His voice rose, the green in his eyes darkening, "You're already wounded–"
"I can handle myself."
"And you're not?" She shot back at him fiercely. Though she instantly regretted it when she saw the flicker of hurt that passed through Michael's expression. Guilt bit her heart again.
She's always caused pain to those she loved.
Turning her back to him, Nikita walked over to the duffel bag to check for some last minute additions. She glanced at the clock. She had less than 40 minutes to get wherever she needed to go. Birkhoff was just going to have to send the location to her. She had to leave now.
Even if Michael and Birkhoff weren't going to listen to her, she was still going to do this.
"Nikita, listen to me," Michael said, approaching her. He gripped her uninjured arm and pulled her to face him. He appeared to have a calm, collected expression but she could see the waves of emotions hidden behind those green eyes. He tried to explain, enunciating every word, "This is Division and Gogol. You know how they operate. They will never let you leave–"
"I don't care!" she finally snapped. Staring back at him, she pulled her arm away from his hold. She shook her head. He didn't understand that she's doing this to protect them. "As long as I get Ilya back – even if I get killed, as long as Ilya and you and the others are safe."
There was a change in the expression of Michael's eyes. She knew her words were harsh but it was the only way. He had to know how far she was willing to go.
And she needed to tell herself that too.
Seeing that she wasn't going to give up no matter what he would say, Michael closed his eyes briefly.
"Fine," he sighed. It was evident on his face that his decision almost physically pained him. Looking at her, he said, calmly, "Turn around."
"Let me bandage you up first."
She opposed, "Michael, we don't have time–"
"I'll be quick." He told her, making her sit on the couch. "You still have about thirty-eight minutes. I'll only need five."
Surprisingly, Nikita agreed to be patched up. Most likely because she thought that she'd be able to move better without the constant feeling of blood trickling down her back. And five minutes was enough for her to formulate some kind of haphazard plan on what she was going to do.
She winced a bit when Michael injected her arm. But she was so caught up in her own thoughts to mind the sting, and the heat that radiated from it.
It was only by the time she was getting around on a possible ex-fil plan (and Michael was finishing on his bandaging – he really was quick) that she realized something was definitely wrong. Her breathing was slowing down. Almost too slow, too relaxed. Her thoughts were getting sluggish, like her mind was shutting off. Everything around her was becoming somewhat blurry. Her eyelids were getting heavier. And the couch looked so, so appealing.
Whipping around, she lost balance and almost collided with Michael's chest. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she forced to center her unfocused gaze on him, "What-what the hell did you do?"
Even her words seemed to slur.
"I'm sorry, Nikki," she heard a voice behind her, Birkhoff, say. He lightly touched her shoulder. Looking at him, she saw that he was holding a small vial in his hands. A sedative-hypnotic. Damn him. "But I can't have you go all kamikaze-crazy on us."
"Nikita," Michael whispered gently as he placed a hand behind her neck and gently guided her down on the couch. Pushing some hair away from her face, he said softly, "You have to check out on this one. You're injured and too volatile to be on this mission... I just love you too much to risk it."
Damn them both.
"But Ilya…" she breathed, fighting against her eyes that were threatening to close.
"I promise you, I will get our daughter back," she felt a light pressure on her forehead as Michael kissed it. "No matter what it takes."
She grasped his shirt with all the remaining strength she could muster. "Michael…"
And then the darkness consumed her, forcing her into unconsciousness.
Not much of a cliffhanger like the previous chapters, but close enough, right? Besides, maybe we need a break from horrible endings for a bit. Haha.
Leave a Review, okay? Let me know if you liked it, hated it, random comments – anything! As always, they will be very much appreciated. Thank you so much in advance – and for reading! :)
Oh, and one thing… Why does the CW keep giving our favorite show stupid breaks in between episodes just when it's beginning to get intense? It seriously kills the momentum and the mood. Not to mention the ratings. Ugh.
And for the love of all things that is Nikita, they should renew the show already!
Okay, I'm done for now. I'm gonna crawl back into a dark corner and mourn for the death of one of the characters on the show that I liked so much (no names, just in case some of you haven't seen that last ep yet. Haha).
Till the next update! Keep safe everyone. ;)