Disclaimer: I don't own any part of this show. If I did, Alex and Nikita's beautiful friendship would get a lot more screen time than it does.

Author's Note: This fic was inspired by the song "Brave" by Gavin Mikhail. It immediately made me think of Alex and Nikita's friendship. Maybe this will help tide some of you over until season 3 starts up again. Consider it an early Christmas present. Enjoy!


Brave

Alex had never been good at being brave. Defiant, yes. Vlad used to smile and say she must be the devil's own daughter because of how hard she fought him. Of course, that was almost always after he had struck her across the face first. But then he started shooting her up with narcotics. A few rounds of horribly agonizing near-withdrawal were all it had taken to get her to stop fighting him. At least on the outside. Alex had continued to defy him with her mind in every way she could. Namely by trying to devise a plan of escape. It really hadn't been that hard to create one. But it had taken years before she worked up enough courage to actually enact it.

Yes, Alex was good at being defiant. And people often mistook that defiance for bravery. But in her heart, Alex knew that they were two very different things. Defiance was mentally calling Rory every dirty Russian name she could think of while she scraped together his money. Bravery would have been forcing herself through the withdrawal and actually getting off the drugs. But she never quite seemed to have enough. In the end it took the intervention of a secret government spy gone rogue who forcibly pushed her through withdrawal. And as horrible as it was, as much as she fought and yelled and defied Nikita during it, Alex knew afterwards that she would be forever grateful to the other agent for forcing on her what she never had the courage to do herself.

For a while it seemed as if nothing had changed. Alex clung to her defiance with everything she had. All Nikita's efforts were met with cold glares and stony silence. She was being too nice. There had to be a catch somewhere. Nobody cared that much about a junky. No one. And then one day it just got to be too much. Alex slipped from defiance to cowardice. She tried to end her life. And then Nikita had appeared and stopped her.

The first all Alex felt was anger. She had nothing left to live for. Nothing. Experience told her that Nikita was just like all the other people who only want to use her and defiance said to stick it to her by dying before she got that chance. But the sudden revelation that she knew Alex's story gave her pause. She knew. She knew about the drugs, about the prostitution, even about what had happened to Alex's parents. And yet she was still there. For the first time Alex allowed herself to really look at this woman. And what she saw shocked her. The woman in front of her wasn't there for anything Alex could give. She was there because she cared.

As Nikita stood up and held out her hand, all traces of defiance suddenly faded away. In its place was a strength that Alex had never known she had. For the first time in years, she felt a hint of bravery. And it was telling her to live.

She reached up and took Nikita's hand.

That sudden surge of bravery crumbled to dust when Nikita took her to the cemetery and told her about Division. It was too much. The shock of it all sent her sliding straight past defiance into cowardice. So she ran. By the time Nikita found her she had managed to claw her way back up to defiance. It had to all be some kind of trick. There had to be something Nikita wanted from her. So she threw up every wall she had and refused to let them down again. But there were two things she hadn't counted one. The first was Nikita's story. Defiance told her to blame Nikita for everything she had gone through: the slavery, the drugs, everything. But something deeper inside her was awed that this woman had not only saved her once but had then intentionally sought her out and saved her again.

And then Nikita had given her the envelope. Alex couldn't believe it. This woman she barely even knew was giving her a clean slate. She was giving her a chance to start over. Alex stayed under that bridge for most of the night just staring at the contents of the envelope. Defiance said that it was time to run, to give the middle finger to her parents' killers by ensuring that she survived. But there was something about Nikita that awed Alex. Something that made her want to be more than just an orphaned former junky.

So when the sun came up Alex stuffed the envelope in her jacket and walked back to Nikita's apartment. When she finally got there the former agent was in the middle of packing, but something in her eyes said she had always known Alex would come back. That look made up Alex's mind. If someone she barely knew could believe in her, then maybe it was time Alex started believing in herself. It was time to stop running and start being brave.

That bravery lasted for two whole years. For the first year Nikita taught Alex everything she knew. She learned how to fight, how to strategize, how to beat an enemy even when the odds were all against her, and far more. And then she got the chance to put it all into practice. With Nikita's help she infiltrated Division, the very heart of the enemy. For an entire year they fought to bring it down from the inside. For a year Alex stood bravely beside her sensei.

And then Percy brought it all crashing down with one simple revelation: that Nikita was the person responsible for the death of Alex's father. In one moment her entire world crumbled to dust. The person who had saved her and trained her and become her family was the same person she was trying to hunt down. Bravery said to give Nikita a chance to explain. And for one flickering moment Alex did. But then defiance kicked in with its feral cry to just screw them all. So Alex broke from both parties, determined to make it on her own.

That idea didn't last long. Oversight stepped in and suddenly she was right back in Division. Only this time instead of having Nikita at her side she was actually hunting her former mentor. Bravery said to bust out of Division and go find Nikita, to face the pain of her betrayal and try to make things right. But the truth was that Alex wasn't brave. Nikita was the one who had always been strong and it was her strength that had made Alex brave. Without her, Alex had nothing left except her drive for revenge. So instead she fell back on defiance. She defied Nikita by working for her worst enemies and she defied Division by never actually bringing Nikita in. She told herself that she didn't need any of them anyway. But sometimes at night when the lights were off and she was completely alone in her cold apartment Alex would silently cry herself to sleep, wishing she was brave enough to go seek out her redemption.

She never did though. Instead she stayed at Division, playing Amanda's messenger. Finally she got sick and tired of the waiting game. She wanted revenge and she wanted it now. So she struck out alone, determined to make Semak pay. And what she found completely shattered what little truth she had held on to. Her mother was alive. Not only that, but she was living with and sleeping with the man who had killed her husband. In the restored house the Udinov family had once live in. And she cared more for that bastard, her husband's killer, than she did for her own daughter. That was when Alex's entire being finally shattered. She was utterly lost and completely broken, far too tired even for familiar defiance. And in that moment, just when she was ready to give up and let herself fall, Nikita appeared to catch her.

It took some time to repair the burned bridges between them and heal the open wounds they had given each other. But in time they did. Before long it was almost as if none of it had ever happened. They were together again and that was all that mattered.

With their returning friendship came Alex's lost bravery. The nightmares that had begun to plague her faded away. The prospect of taking on Division no longer seemed as daunting as it had when she was staring up at the dark ceiling of an empty apartment. Hope was no longer just an empty word. But the thing that truly warmed Alex's frozen heart was that even after everything she had done, Nikita still looked at her the same way she always had. One look at her mentor's face was enough to assure Alex that she was not only wanted but loved. After fighting it for so long, she had finally come back home.

Alex had never been good at being brave. But the knowledge that Nikita had her back now and forever gave her strength. She was determined not to let her mentor down again. As long as they stood together, Alex knew she could find the strength to handle whatever life threw her way. As long as Nikita continued to look at her with pride, Alex would keep on being brave.


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