Can I just thank everyone who read, reviewed, followed, favorited (is that even a word?) this story? I'm so overwhelmed that your responses have been so nice and awesome, especially since this is an AU fic. It's just… wow. Thank you everyone! And Reviewers? You guys (and everyone too!) really are absolutely fantastically amazingly the best! :)
Okay, so here we go with the 1st chapter! And like I wrote in the previous A/N, the majority of the whole story is going to be like one huge flashback leading up to the point you all read in the prologue. So with this chapter, we're going back to the start of where it all began – 2 weeks earlier. The first time Michael and Nikita meet. Oh, but don't expect too much, okay? It's just the beginning.
And… Hope you'll like it!
Chapter 1: Mysterious
… 2 weeks earlier …
Michael never really liked being assigned to a security detail mission.
Mostly because he felt that his skills could have had better use doing missions that involved saving the nation from a domestic or foreign terrorist rather than being a glorified babysitter.
Just like his current assignment.
His mission was to keep an eye on a US Senator named Jack Kerrigan. If it was just a one-night thing, he would have been fine with it. Reluctant, yes, but he'd accept it. But Percy, his boss, told him that he'd stay on the Senator's security personnel until Congress met.
And that would be in 2 ½ weeks.
Michael came up with all the best excuses not to do it. But Percy would hear none of it.
And he wouldn't let him assign it to someone else because the Senator, apparently, was a good friend. Or a good ally in the senate whenever Percy smelled the whiff of an Intelligence Bill that contained an earmarked black budget.
Truthfully, his boss needed someone he could trust to stay with the Senator and make sure he keeps his end of the deal and court the votes of the remaining senators to pass that bill. Michael almost rolled his eyes at Percy's obvious and blatant desire for that money.
"It's a simple mission, Michael," he was told while being patted on the back just before he left Percy's office, "but important."
Important to line your pockets, that is. But Michael knew better than to say that out loud.
So basically, for the next few weeks, wherever Senator Kerrigan went, he was supposed to be there too.
That was the reason why that Sunday evening, Michael was at a private party in an equally private club near Capitol Hill called the Regal House.
The place did live up to its name though, he had to admit that. On the outside and in the inside, everything just bled regal.
Too bad the people who frequented it were far from being called that.
After securing that there weren't any imminent or immediate threats (though if someone did ever try to do something tonight, they were either crazy or stupid because dozens of armed bodyguards also surrounded the perimeter of the house), Michael didn't really have anything else to do.
So it didn't really take long before boredom crept in. Give or take, a couple of minutes.
As he was standing under one of the doorframes, careful to remain inconspicuous, he tried to distract himself by thinking up of some other tasks that can be done at that moment. But with the current setting, his choices were pretty much limited.
So with a heavy sigh, Michael had resigned to people-watch instead.
As always, there were a lot of things he noticed through simple observation. Those little things people do when they think no one was watching. Though it also probably helped that in his line of work, finding out those nuances was a skill needed to survive.
Drinks, mainly scotch and champagne, flowed freely as much as the conversation did that night. The 25 or so men present , all politicians and some other bigwigs, chatted and laughed with their own equals, while the women offered smiles but said nothing. Playing the role of an obedient and silent arm candy.
It still sometimes amazed Michael just how many of the country's supposed leaders would rather take their mistresses or escorts than their real wives to social events.
Shaking his head lightly, he decided to leave to get some fresh air. Kerrigan would be fine without him for a few minutes.
Just as he turned around, he heard it.
He stopped and looked back, searching for the source. He didn't know why as it wasn't even in a loud voice, but it captured his attention. Somehow.
Then he saw her.
Standing by the grand staircase, with Senator Markus and some well-known judge, was this slender woman dressed in a simple black number and carrying a white purse.
She had a striking beauty, he noted immediately. One that would make any man stop for a moment to gaze at her, and it made Michael wonder why he didn't see her until just now. He was sure he'd remember her face.
Finding a spot with a better vantage point, he continued to watch her as she brought her slender fingers over her lips to hide the small smile that appeared when the old senator told her something. For someone who looked to be in her mid-20s, she was statuesque but exuded such a charm that had both of the older men she had been talking to appear to be so taken by her.
She must be an escort, Michael thought. And probably a good one too, if she was allowed to mingle. He wouldn't be too surprised if he was right about that though, it wouldn't be his first time to see one of those.
Shame, but true.
But he couldn't shake off the feeling that there was something about her that seemed different. There was a certain yet familiar way she held herself that Michael couldn't really place. And how she interacted with the men around her was like she knew them. But not liken a mistress to her paramour.
She was mysterious.
Out of the corner of his eye, Michael saw Senator Kerrigan and his blonde-haired companion – who was definitely not Mrs. Kerrigan – make their way to the stairs. They were headed in the direction of Senator Markus and the woman just as the judge left the latter group to talk to another high-ranking government official at the other end of room.
It was an opportunity.
He didn't know why but he wanted to know something about that woman.
Casually walking over, Michael managed to catch up with the group just as the two senators were greeting each other and were making introductions. He stood just behind Senator Kerrigan, close enough to eavesdrop, but far enough to not look so obvious.
"Jack," Senator Markus said. He placed a hand on the woman's elbow and brought her slightly forward, "I'd like you to meet Nikita. She works for the Russian Embassy." Turning to the woman, he told her, "Nikita, I'm sure you must have heard of Jack."
"Senator Kerrigan, of course," the woman, Nikita, recognized with a smile on her lips. She had a pleasant, mellow voice. Tucking her white purse under her arm, she extended her hand as a greeting, "It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise," the senator replied (somewhat stiffly, Michael noticed) while shaking her hand. "Russian Embassy, you say? You work for Pavlenko then?"
"Three years now," Nikita stated.
"Jack, I got to tell you," Senator Markus interrupted them. His gaze rove over the woman in an appreciative way, "this woman's work ethic is phenomenal."
"Senator," she lowered her head modestly, "you flatter me too much."
"It's true." The older senator laughed. He leaned over to the other man and said in a low voice, "I've been trying to pirate this woman to work for me but no… she's too loyal to her Mother Russia."
Nikita let out a soft chuckle as she raised her gaze. She looked at the older men first before glancing elsewhere. But she barely laid eyes on the woman Senator Kerrigan was with (Anna Harcourt was her name, if Michael remembered correctly) when her brown-eyed stare met his.
Michael was a bit surprised at first, having her singling him out. Sizing him up in a quick glance. Almost as if she knew that he wasn't supposed to be there. But he was careful not to let any of his reactions come out.
His effort did pay off though. He managed to catch that guarded expression that flitted through her eyes. Making him all the more curious about her.
After holding his gaze for a few lingering seconds, she blinked and then looked back to Senator Kerrigan. Her lips stretched into a polite smile as she asked, "I'm sorry, what was that?"
"Your boss, Oleg." The senator cleared his throat. "Is he here?"
"Oh, no," Nikita shook her head lightly. "He's been in Russia these past few days. He'll be back tomorrow though. Which is why, my dear gentlemen," she gracefully placed a hand on each senator, "I really do have to go. I have an early run tomorrow morning to pick up the Ambassador. And Mr. Pavlenko is such a stickler when it comes to punctuality."
"Of course, my dear." Senator Markus nodded knowingly. "And remind Oleg of the items to be auctioned this Saturday, okay?"
"I will," she replied. Waving a hand at a wrapped bottle on the counter, she added, "And please, enjoy the wine I brought. Mr. Pavlenko specifically sent that as an apology for not being able to be here. Have a nice night, everyone."
Excusing herself from the group, the woman, Nikita made her way out between Senator Kerrigan and his mistress. What further piqued Michael's interest was that as she did so, her gaze returned back to him.
It was somewhat disconcerting the way she was staring directly at him while walking closely past. But he found himself not being able to look away, somehow mesmerized by the woman in front of him.
And then she winked.
Michael stopped short. Not knowing how to respond, not knowing what she meant.
Sure, he may have been trained how to handle attention like that but it felt like his mind went blank at that moment. Strange.
But before he could even recover a second later, Nikita had already turned on her heel and left. Though Michael was sure he saw a smirk that formed on her red lips.
His gaze fixated on her retreating form, studying her. From the confidence and sureness of her strides as she wove through the crowd, to the gentle sway of her hips, her very presence...
There was something about her.
Nikita from the Russian Embassy.
An interesting name to match her intriguing persona.
So… definitely not a mistress or an escort then.
Just who was that woman?
"Nikita, we have everything from Senator Kerrigan's cellphone. Excellent work. The information we got will help us immensely."
Discreetly removing the comm unit from her ear, she switched it off and placed it inside her purse. Before closing the metal clasps of her white bag, she dug for the small device she used to wirelessly hack into the senator's cellphone via Bluetooth and turned that off as well.
Shutting the door to the Regal House behind her, Nikita leaned against it and breathed deeply. She took a few seconds to relish the fresh and crisp night air, a welcomed change from the stuffiness inside the private club.
Glancing out from the porch, she easily spotted the hired security. There seemed to be more tonight than usual for some reason. Someone inside the club received a recent threat perhaps? Maybe.
She was just hoping it wasn't anyone that was going to be detrimental to the success of her mission.
She did, after all, have a perfect record to keep. Uphold her status in the agency and all that.
Walking quietly out into the night and heading for her car, Nikita was careful not to draw too much attention to herself. Not even from the security personnel. A precaution to make sure that no one would be able to get a clear look at her face. It didn't really matter that much but it was out of habit. It was always about the secrecy in her world. Keeping her head down, she focused on the sound of dried leaves that crunched beneath her feet as she stepped on them. It was soothing and relaxing in a way. For a few seconds, she even allowed her thoughts to drift.
The first thing that came to her mind was that man.
He was attractive, she thought. Dressed in that well-cut suit, he had that roguish, masculine appeal.
She had been watching him for some time that night. Maybe from the moment he entered the building. What intrigued her at first was his presence at that place. He stuck out like a sore thumb. Albeit a good-looking one. He looked a bit older than her though, probably late-20s. But much too young to be running with likes of those people inside the Regal House, and much too wholesome-looking to be a politician.
Initially, she had been careful to remain out of his line of sight as she kept her surveillance on him. Get to know him through his actions.
That was when she realized that he was probably one of the hired protection. The way he kept to the outskirts of the crowd, never talking, scanning the areas, staying in dim-lighted spots to remain unnoticeable but always near to an egress point. A professional. And judging from the way he moved, military-trained. Or raised by incredibly anal parents. But Nikita was betting on the former.
She didn't know why but there was something about him that seemed so fascinating.
That laugh she let out earlier was more for his benefit than of the (well, rather lame) joke Senator Markus told. A ploy to catch the mysterious man's attention. And it worked perfectly. She just knew it.
From that second, she was cautious not to let her gaze wander over to him. Act as if nothing was wrong. Play out her charming self. Even if she was so goddamned curious to see his expression. So it was a bit convenient that at that moment, her target for that night, Senator Kerrigan, was making his way over to her and the senator she had been talking to. Perfect timing more than ever.
With the objective of her mission replacing her thoughts, she barely noticed it when the man had made his way to them. She was a bit surprised when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw him already standing behind Senator Kerrigan and his mistress.
He was fast, she could give him that. Interesting.
He didn't seem to react when her gaze settled on him though. Unaffected. His face didn't betray any expression. A mask.
It was a rare occasion for Nikita to encounter someone whom she cannot read their emotions right away.
He was dangerous, her instincts immediately alerted her. And she had no reason not to listen to her gut feeling.
Though what puzzled Nikita was that she could just feel that the man also had a sort of honest quality to him. Something good. Honorable.
It was conflicting.
She didn't know what to make of him.
He was an enigma.
But having her focus distracted almost cost her forgetting about her objective for that night. If it wasn't for the voice from her comm saying that the transfer had been completed, she probably would have caused an embarrassing incident with Senator Kerrigan by not answering his question. It was a good thing that she had a way with words and people.
That was when she decided it was a good time to wrap things up.
When she finally made her way out of the group, she took the path that would bring her near the man. Simply because she wanted to be up close and personal for one last look.
He had green eyes, she immediately noticed. Piercing. Alluring.
But his face still remained so serious and stoic.
It annoyed Nikita for some reason. She wanted to get something, a reaction from him.
That was why she winked. She couldn't resist it.
She wasn't stupid. She knew a lot of men considered her beautiful and such. She recognized and embraced what she was capable of – she was trained to do that. A simple smile or a not-so-innocent wink can go to great lengths. It was an advantage that she utilized whenever she had to. And it has served her and her agency well countless of times.
He looked taken aback. Probably because he wasn't expecting her to do that. Then he looked somewhat confused and flustered.
It was already enough for her though. She got to know that there really was still some emotion behind that impassive mask he was putting up.
Nikita couldn't help but smirk at that. It felt a bit nice knowing that even he wasn't immune to feminine wiles.
But then, why did she even bother?
It was a question Nikita asked herself as she got to her car. Maybe, she tried to reason, it was just because it felt good to have the attention of that good-looking man. Dangerous too, if her instincts were right about that, but it made the whole thing a little bit more... fun.
Besides, what harm could she ever do?
She'd probably never see that man again anyway.
Oh was she ever wrong.
And, we'll stop there for now! :)
You all know the drill – leave a Review about your thoughts and comments! I absolutely LOVE reading about what you think and what you have to say/write.
As always, thank you for your time.
Oh, and how is everyone recovering from the intensity of that last episode? That was some serious stuff. The next episode will probably be even better though! More epic, more mind-blowing (and probably even a little bit of scary-creepy). So let's show support for our fandom! Watch LIVE, tweet, anything and everything! Our show deserves a FULL Season 4 – it shouldn't even be an issue!
Until the next update then! Though to be honest, I absolutely have no idea when that would be. My schedule has been packed lately and I haven't had much free time to write. But I'll definitely work on the update whenever I can sneak it in.
So please bear with me, okay? All I can ask if for everyone's patience. Thanks again! :]