Author's Note: Thanks to SilentLaughter (There's just something oddly likeable about him), Aki Hotaru 16 (Hopefully I can keep you interested), Farah, TheTalkingCupcake, LabyFan23, and PoisonLily (I'm hoping to clear things up and slow the action down now that the prelude is out of the way. Let me know if there's anything else that needs addressed!) for reviewing the last chapter. I own nothing but Nikita.


Chapter One: Two Days Later, March 1993

Nikita paced outside M's office, her temper growing sourer by the minute. First her mission had been busted by a double oh agent, Nikita didn't bother keeping track of them since none seemed to last for extensive periods of time, and now she had been shipped back to London two days later, ignored, and then called abruptly at two in the morning. It was now, according to the plain metal watch on her wrist, just past three. Nikita had been kept waiting for a half an hour and with each tick of the second hand she grew more and more irritated. Her steps grew shorter and sharper and her eyes narrowed further as she waited. Her trail as she paced grew shorter with each passing minute.

The click of a door behind her caught her attention and Nikita pivoted smoothly, heels no longer clicking as she stilled. The woman who stepped out into the waiting room was one of M's many secretaries, they came and went, with long blond curls and a babyish face. "M will you see you," the woman said, motioning toward the door. Nikita glowered at the woman and felt almost satisfied as she flinched. Then Nikita stormed past the hapless secretary, heels clicking crisply on the floor, and carefully opened the door, closing it softly behind her.

The room she entered was predominately white. Housed in the sudden blankness Nikita felt her calm return. The room was as sparse as her flat and the feeling of empty space was strangely comforting. M was sitting on one side of her desk watching the figure across from her with a penetrating stare. The man across from her, unmistakably the blond from the Zaccaro disaster, was staring at her. Nikita shot her a dark look and then turned to M. "You wanted to speak to me?" Her voice was crisp, cold, and utterly displeased. Nikita hated being called, told the business was urgent, and then being made to wait.

"Yes," M replied, unbothered as always by Nikita's temper. "I apologize for the wait. Some of the details of the upcoming mission were being most uncooperative." She shot a glare at the blond who gave her a stunning smile in response before turning back to watch Nikita. Something about his stare unnerved her. It was as if he saw far beneath the surface to the sour little girl she had been years ago. She hated that feeling. "Tiago meet your partner for this missing, Nikita Alden."

"Partner?" Tiago hissed incredulously as Nikita ground her teeth together.

"No," she snapped sharply, her voice coming out louder than she intended and making her flinch slightly at the volume. "I'm not working with him. Not after the Zaccaro incident."

"When are you going to get over the Zaccaro incident?" M asked impatiently.

"I gave up five months of my life for it," Nikita retorted. "How long do you think it's going to take?"

"You're both missing the point," Tiago spoke up. "I refuse to work with a partner."

"Good. That's settled," Nikita said briskly, turning for the door.

"Stay Miss Alden, Tiago," M said sharply. "I'm not finished with either of you." Nikita ignored M, annoyed by belief and so tired that her exhaustion served to expand the irritation. She swept out of M's office, her heels clicking briskly on the floor, and headed out of MI6, no pausing to look back.

Still sitting in M's office, Tiago Rodriguez turned back to M, fighting down an amused smile. "Now that the foolish idea of hitching me with a partner is destroyed perhaps you can give me the mission."

"Fine," M said coldly, her eyes narrowing at Tiago. "Convince Nikita to cooperate." M briskly shoved the file folder aside, pulling another one to her. Tiago remained in his seat, staring at her incredulously. After a moment M glanced up from her paperwork to look at him. "Do you need something Mr. Rodriguez?"

"I need my mission," Tiago said impatiently.

"And I've given it to you," M replied, speaking as if she were addressing a small child.

"I'm not going to-"

"Good day Mr. Rodriguez," M interrupted as if they ended the conversation which, in her mind, it probably did. Tiago shot her a chilling glare and then stalked out of the office, slamming the door behind him.

Tiago took a deep breath to calm himself and then left M's office behind, pausing near one of the secretaries. "Excuse me doll," he said. "But could you do me a favor?" The girl looked up and then giggled, blushing a brilliant shade of red. "My partner rushed off in a huff earlier and she's angry enough that I don't think she'll answer the phone if I call her. Would you mind looking up her address for me?" The girl's expression changed as he spoke and Tiago recognized the mixture of jealousy and annoyance on her face. Still she turned to her computer.

"Who is it?" she asked.

"Nikita Alden," Tiago informed her, repeating the name M had used to introduce the young woman. The jealousy faded from the girl's face and Tiago knew instantly why. Nikita Alden was not, by any means, beautiful. Striking perhaps, but not beautiful and not someone this girl would see as competition. Unlike her first appearance, during this meeting Nikita had been without any of her previous disguise. Her cheekbones had been too sharp to be pretty, her face almost sallow. The only thing that truly caught the attention in a good way was her green eyes. Those green eyes were captivating.

The giggling girl scribbled down an address on a piece of paper and gave it to him, beaming at him. "Thanks love," he told her and she smiled.

"It's Brooklyn," she called after him and he blew her a kiss in acknowledgement before walking out of MI6. Outside Tiago flagged down a bored early morning taxi driver and handed over the slip of paper. The driver pulled away from the sidewalk and Tiago watched the streets slide by. Nikita lived on the other edge of London in a shabby set of apartments. Tiago was pretty sure that he could break into them in six seconds flat.

Nikita lived on the second floor, the only room on the second floor listed as occupied. Tiago rapped twice on the flimsy door and then waited for a reply. For a long minute there was no answer and then he heard the sound of a deadbolt being drawn back and the door opened sharply, Nikita standing in the gap. "What do you want?"

"To talk to my new partner," Tiago drawled.

"Forget it," Nikita snarled. "I'm not working with you."

"You don't have a choice sweetheart," Tiago returned cheerfully.

"I bloody well do," Nikita spat. "I can quit." Then she slammed the door in his face. Or tried to.

Tiago stuck his foot in the gap and shoved his way in, Nikita stumbling back a couple steps. "Get out," she snarled but he ignored her, shutting the door behind him.

"Nice place you've got," he said and smirked when she growled at him, turning on her heel and stalking into the tiny kitchen. His smirk widened and he followed her. The kitchen ceiling and walls were the off yellow color that white paint turned when it got dirty. It was barely big enough for one person, let alone both of them. What Tiago had seen of the rest of the apartment it was in the same state of disrepair as the kitchen with its cracked appliances. Nikita ignored him, an impressive feat considering that she couldn't move around him, driving him to the point of annoyance. "Can we talk?"

"We both have the ability to," Nikita said coolly, turning to look at him with icy eyes.

"May we converse like civilized people?" Tiago said through gritted teeth and thought he saw the hint of a smirk on her face. "Well," he snapped after a moment, fighting down a sudden flash of amusement. It seemed that the ice princess was not quite as icy as she appeared.

"Talk," Nikita said harshly. "Since you're obviously not going anywhere."

Tiago paused for a moment, studying her stony face, and then said, "No, I don't think I will." He ignored Nikita's snarl of irritation and sauntered out of the kitchen and into the living room, settling on the dusty couch. He flipped on the television and waited for a moment, curious as to what Nikita would do. A moment later he heard the clink of dishes. Tiago settled in and turned part of his attention to the television. It was going to be a long wait.