A doughnut, a couple cups of coffee and the Sunday Washington Post were his self-prescribed down time. The café was filled with patrons hunched over their lap-tops, cords from their ear phones dangling down, connecting them to cyberspace and disconnecting them from the people around them. He always felt a little out of place with his newspaper spread out on the small cafe table, he knew the minute the news hit the printing presses it was old news, but this was a weekly ritual he enjoyed. Any other afternoon, he'd be sitting behind his desk at CIA Headquarters in Langley, hard copies of computer docs would be laid out in piles across his desk, and each file would lead him to further question the real motives of a secretive government organization named, Division.
Feeling like a luddite, he donned his coat and left the cafe. With his crumpled newspaper tucked under his arm, Ryan Fletcher sauntered up the sidewalk to the stoop of his brownstone apartment. He thought about the different Washington insiders and who had the most to gain and to loose, by getting in bed with Division. The deeper he delved and the more he uncovered, the trail would always come to a dead end, but he knew, if he stuck with it, he would get his answers. Whoever in the government sanctioned this clandestine organization would be found.
He stopped in front of his building and shuffled the newspaper from one arm to the other, searching for his keys, when a low harsh voice stopped him in his tracks.
"I need to talk to you."
He knew that voice and he knew it meant trouble. He turned around and stood face to face with Division's second in command. The scowl on the man's face caused him to step back involuntarily. "What do you want? You know, there are witnesses everywhere and…"
Michael glared at him and his voice was filled with frustration. "You're an idiot if you think I'm here to kill you, although it wouldn't take much to change my mind. I'm here because of Nikita."
When he said her name, Ryan knew what this was about. "What about Nikita?" She had warned him that Division could be anywhere and his involvement with her meant privacy was a thing of the past.
Michael's tall lean frame took a step forward invading the buffer zone that two people usually keep between them. "Nikita's in enough trouble, and I don't want to see her get hurt, especially if it's because she's trying to save your analytical ass." He pointed a finger at him. "You have no idea what you're doing. Don't make me come after you." The dark menacing look in his eyes was not to be dismissed.
Ryan saw the fire in his eyes and he knew then and there that Nikita had neglected to tell him a few details about him… about them. "What are you saying? Don't work with her, don't see her, or don't sleep with her?" He knew he should have kept his mouth shut when he saw the look of contempt on his face and how he clenched his hands into fists. He totally thanked the gods when the family that lived in the apartment below his, walked up.
Michael took a deep breath and stepped back. "I'm sure you understand my concern." He kept his voice even and controlled but his posture was tight and the hateful look remained in his eyes.
He tried his best not to look intimidated. " I think I'm beginning to." He watched him walk away and get into a dark sedan. The CIA Analyst mentally slapped himself on the side of his head, the barrier he had felt between he and the rogue agent wasn't imaginary, he watched it drive away in a cloud of car exhaust & jealousy.
In his rear view mirror, Fletcher grew smaller as Michael accelerated his car and sped down the street. His anger was tempered with a sprinkle of humiliation; threatening the CIA agent was petty and he knew it. The fact that he couldn't help himself was where the problem lay. He could have told him that Nikita was poison, manipulative and a traitor, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to say the words. Knowing how to compartmentalize the different facets of his life was critical to his success as a Division agent. He was methodical at planning and prepping, always keeping in mind the probabilities of success and working out a contingency plan, but Nikita was the one person in his life that caused him to act recklessly and impulsively. He tried not to think about her, it caused too many conflicted feelings to rise to the surface, but even in his memory she eroded his self-control. The dark lines that were etched into his face softened for a moment as his thoughts brought him back to a time he would not forget.
"South side of the room, target's alone and on his phone. He has the package." Nikita's voice was smooth and confident, she stood at the dimly lit bar, wearing an ivory colored cocktail dress that hugged her curves and left little to the imagination. She practically glowed in the subdued light.
"Copy that. Team Two, he's all yours." Michael replied sounding smug.
Nikita sipped her glass of wine and watched two Division agents pick up the Government turncoat. They checked the pocket of his blazer, found the disc that implicated him, and escorted the shocked looking man out of the lounge. She had been the perfect bait to lure him out, and one of the few Operatives who could keep the delicacy of the mission intact. Michael walked up and joined her at the bar. Instead of his usual serious expression, his eyes were filled amusement.
He motioned to the bartender and ordered a shot of whiskey. "That went by the book, it took all of three and half hours from beginning to end, I even timed it."
Nikita looked at him, dressed in his dark suit and crisp white dress shirt, and smiled suggestively. "Three hours and eleven minutes." She leaned toward him and couldn't stop herself from enjoying the scent of his cologne. "I timed it too."
He found it disturbing but also intoxicating, somehow she had crashed through his professional barricade. He knew she felt the chemistry, it was thick and blanketed them like a cloak. "You seem to be feeling pretty self-assured this evening." He knocked the shot back easily.
"Always. You know me too well." She set her glass down on the bar and shrugged. "I guess it's time to go." There was a hint of disappointment in her voice, she looked away refusing to make eye contact.
Michael heard it and it bolstered his courage. "We can take our time, Tomas has it handled." He looked at her and questioned his sanity.
Nikita eyed him quizzically when he brushed a lock of her hair away from her face and his fingers gently lingered. "Michael? What are you doing?" She whispered.
"No one's watching, just consider this part of our cover." He leaned in and kissed her and felt her lips turn up into a smile. When she returned the kiss, they both knew exactly what they were doing.
Michael slammed on the brakes, his car was half way through the red light and he cursed at himself. This was not good. When she had run from Division, he thought he was done with her. Now that she was back, not as friend but foe, he felt himself breaking into two, and he wasn't sure what side would prevail.