Why this mission, out of all the ones she was given, was the one line she couldn't cross, Nikita will never know. Perhaps it's the ring from Daniel, the fantasy of starting a family with him. Perhaps there's a set number of murders she can commit—a hundred? a thousand? She used to know the count before explosions and accidents and unforeseen bystanders, before there was no longer any point in counting because one body was much like the other.
Or perhaps it's that one child out of the many, all of them chaff to be swept aside. What does it say about her, that she could have cleanly disposed of them all had it not been for that one?
Michael will be disappointed, she thinks: her unforeseen change of heart means sloppiness and loose ends. Clubbing her partner over the head is risky, but even without her newfound conscience, she never would have wanted to shoot someone she's worked with point blank. There's no plan for the rest of the children, and she doesn't let herself think of what this will mean for her and Daniel. Instead, she simply takes that one child, her small fingers sticky and cold in Nikita's hand, and walks off into the night.
"I'm Nikita," she says, starting them off on their journey together. "What's your name?"
"Jaden," the girl replies.
"They'll see us," Jaden whispers, but Alex ignores her, focusing instead on small bites around the curve of Jaden's ear, more down the arc of her neck. All the lines that make up Jaden's body fit so well against her own, and it doesn't matter if they've kissed hungrily only hours ago, because Alex's hands are empty without her, Alex's mind is filled with the quirk of Jaden's smile, the sharp bite of her laugh.
She loves the way Jaden clutches her arms, and the bruises Jaden will leave are a sweet and bitter pain she anticipates. Everything between them is too much, and she gasps when Jaden shifts her weight, bringing them both down.
"Mine," Jaden says, all worries about surveillance gone as she pulls up Alex's top and uses it to bind her arms above her head. She bucks her hips, trying to gain control of the situation again, but she doesn't have enough leverage, and then Jaden kisses her, so soft, no hint of the power keeping Alex pinned to the floor. Her hand smooths Alex's hair behind her ear, then sweeps down her neck to the dip in her collarbone, duplicating the path of kisses Alex had left. Alex's breath catches as Jaden's hand brushes briefly over the waistband of her pants, then groans as it trails to her inner thigh, just missing her aching cunt. As if in consolation, she feels wet heat on her breast, then Jaden's tongue on her nipple as her hand continues to flutter, passing by where she most wants to be touched, the margin narrowing and narrowing until finally Jaden's hand slips under her waistband, under her panties, and flicks briefly against her clit.
Jaden's fingers continue to stroke, then finally, finally, finally, Jaden starts to finger fuck her. "Oh god," Alex moans, "oh yes, oh please."
Jaden kisses her again, tongue slipping in her mouth as deftly as the girl herself has slipped past Alex's defenses, and then she's saying "Come away with me" as her fingers curve and Alex arches off the floor.
"Yes," she says, "yes, yes, anything" as she comes.
"Come away with me," Jaden asks again as the franticness recedes, and Alex sits up, surprised. "They'll find out. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but they will, and they'll retire us both."
It's fear that has her on the edge, Alex tells herself, fear that has her heart pounding so, but it's not fear that has her saying, "Yes. Yes, anything, yes."
She's so focused on making her way to the computer lab so she can finally report to Nikita that she doesn't notice the recruit just around the corner.
"And where do you think you're going?" the girl asks, and Jaden places her. It's the girl who had been hovering over the older male recruit, her crossed arms and squared-off posture marking him as her territory. Jaden doesn't care about the guy or the girl; her goal is just past the door.
"Trying to work on some stuff," Jaden says as she brushes past.
The girl grabs her arm and twists it, shoving her into the wall. "I don't like you," she says, then yanks harder. Jaden winces as it pulls her shoulder even further back, and she'll have a bruise across her cheekbone from slamming into the concrete.
"I'm not getting the best impression of you, either," she replies.
"Just don't get into my way." With that, the recruit makes a mistake and lets Jaden go.
Jaden moves as though she's walking off, then spins around and sweeps the recruit's legs out from under her. She pins her knee to the girl's chest, then wraps her hand around the girl's throat, just hard enough to make her start to worry.
She smiles. "Why don't you stay out of mine?" she says, then presses a point hard enough to make the girl black out for a bit, just long enough for her to slip into the lab. Nikita's waiting.
The counter-mission is going well: she's stopped Division's assassin and said enough that the ambassador has doubled his personal guards and changed their routines. But Division is on her tail as she tries to leave, and she darts through the crowd, trying and failing to put distance between them.
An opening, there, in the alley. She checks to see if she's clear. She slows down, mentally mapping how far she is from her motorcycle.
A bullet whizzes by her head, missing her by a foot or so. Shit. It's from above, and she moves quickly toward the source, keeping her back as close to the wall as possible.
"Jaden," she hears, and she curses again. Of course. She thought she left behind all her ties to Division, but she can't erase the years of partnership with Alex, the two of them such a good team that Nikita let them keep working together despite all her usual rules. She pulls out her gun, but she can't see Alex.
"Jaden, please," Alex says. "I can radio the rest of the team and have you surrounded in minutes."
"What do you want?" she asks.
"Why?" Alex asks. "How could you?" Her voice is just short of yelling, and Jaden knows just how tightly it's usually controlled.
"Division is wrong," she says. "You know it is. You're just choosing to ignore it, choosing to ignore how Nikita's made us her own personal hit men for anyone with enough money to buy us."
"No. She gave us our lives, did you forget? Did you forget what Division is?" Jaden laughs harshly. There's no way she can forget what Division is; they've made sure of that.
"What about me?" The voice is so soft Jaden thinks she's misheard.
"Join me," she says, turning toward the voice. "Think of what we could do, you and I. They could never stop both of us."
There's only silence. She turns back, begins to move away. "You can shoot me now, Alex," she offers. "Nikita'll make you her second in command when you bring me in." But even though the spot between her shoulder blade itches, she knows no bullet is coming.
"You and me together, Alex," she says, also knowing enough not to expect a reply.
They're at each other's throat when the woman bursts in and takes down the prostitution ring. "You two. With me, now," she says, motioning with her gun, and they've learned well from the pimps to obey when threatened.
They grudgingly go through detox together, resenting every moment spent shaking and vomiting in each other's presence. The woman—Nikita, she says, but they know you can't trust anyone—tells them she's sorry, tells them it's necessary, tells them it's for their own good, but they've heard it all before.
But when Nikita finally gives them leave to fight, they hesitate, Jaden crouching nervously, Alex eying the door. It's the first day they've been able to stand on their own two feet. A small twitch of Alex's eyebrow tips Jaden off, and she kicks a chair at Nikita as Alex dashes to the door. Alex is fumbling with the lock when she hears Jaden's yelp, and even though escape is so close, she turns back.
The next time, Alex brings the keyboard down on Nikita's head, giving Jaden the head start, but Nikita is back on her feet the next second, an arm locked around Alex's neck.
"I chose well," she says as Jaden hesitates.
They're each other's worst enemies, but they'll be everyone else's first.