Written June 2001
Spoilers: “Last Night” (ignoring all subsequent episodes)
Synopsis: Operations attempts to continue the relationship with Madeline that was renewed in “Last Night.”
Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.
Operations stared out the Perch windows at the activities below. There was a small scale food fight in comm. Birkoff and Nikita were tossing gummy bears back and forth. He was about to tell them to stop but changed his mind when he saw Madeline.
She was walking across the common area, toward munitions. She noticed the war and eyed the fighters purposefully. They noticed her glare and halted as she passed. Operations chuckled. As Madeline disappeared from view, he continued to observe the quieted situation in comm.
“You wanted to see me?”
He turned. Michael stood in the doorway, hands clasped in front of him. Operations nodded. “Yes. I have a somewhat…unorthodox request.”
Michael blinked, his face blank as he waited for him to continue.
“Would you take command of Section for a few hours tonight? There are only low-priority missions in play, so I don’t anticipate any problems.”
“Why isn’t Madeline taking over for you?”
“Because I’m hoping she’ll join me.”
“And which mission does this relate to?”
Operations chuckled. There was no point in lying or avoiding the issue; Michael was already aware of the situation. “No mission. This time, it’s for personal reasons.”
Michael stared at him in silent contemplation. Finally, he said, “All right.”
“Thank you.” He smiled sincerely before removing the key around his neck and handing it to him. “You have command.”
“I have command.”
The doors to her office slid open, but Madeline didn’t look up from the monitor. She knew who it was. “I just heard from the team in Zimbabwe. They are ready to move on to phase two of the mission.”
“Excellent.” Operations lightly touched the purple iris that sat on her stand. “This is new.”
She glanced in his direction. “Yes. Nordun grows them; he brought me one.”
He raised an eyebrow curiously but said nothing. “How are the numbers coming?”
“I’ll have them on time.”
“Good.” He turned to face her. “I’ve arranged dinner for us outside of Section.”
She took a breath. “I thought we agreed not to open things up.”
“And the other night in the Tower didn’t open things up?”
She looked into his eyes for a moment, saying nothing. She didn’t have to; he already knew how she felt.
“Okay, then dinner as friends.” He held out his hand. “Please.”
Madeline eyed him, trying to decipher his agenda. Slowly she slid her hand into his.
Nikita glanced up at the Perch and frowned slightly. She expected to see Operations; instead, she saw Michael. Curious, she headed upstairs.
“He and Madeline are on a survey mission for Oversight. They’ll be back in a few hours.”
“Oh.” She nodded. “Well, I’m off duty, so I’m going shopping. I’ll see you later.”
Madeline took a deep breath, stretching gently. It felt good to be out of Section for a while. “So what’s for dinner?”
Operations chuckled and presented a picnic basket. “You’ll see when we get there.”
She raised an eyebrow. “How long have you had this planned?”
He smiled but didn’t reply. She liked surprises, and he could tell that she was beginning to enjoy this one.
When they reached their destination, Madeline shielded her eyes from the sun and looked up at the Eiffel Tower. “A picnic in the Parc du Champs de Mars, an hour before sunset.” She smiled. “You really did plan this.”
“Where would you like to sit?”
She pointed to an empty spot near them. “How about there?”
Operations unfolded the plaid blanket and spread it out, placing the basket in the center of it. Madeline sat down on one side and he on the other.
She flipped open the lid and began to remove their dinner like a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat. She chuckled as she drew out a bottle of wine. She found the glasses next and realized that they did not come from Section’s collection of stemware. Interesting. She glanced at Operations as he tried to wiggle the cork out of the bottle.
Smiling fondly, she handed him the corkscrew. “Here. This might help.”
“Thank you.” He popped the top and filled their glasses halfway.
She took one, clinking it against his, and savored it slowly. “Mm, my favorite.”
They stared at each other for a long time. Finally, Madeline returned her attention to the basket. “Let’s see what else you have in here.” She removed some neatly-wrapped sandwiches. “What kind are these?”
“Cucumber with dill spread.”
She smiled briefly and pulled out a container of fresh strawberries. “Perfect.”
Nikita readjusted her shopping bags as she walked along Quai Branly toward the Eiffel Tower. Nothing made her happier than maxing out her credit cards, particularly since Section footed the bill. She was able to add to her ever-growing collection of sunglasses and big floppy hats without ever paying a cent. It was probably the only good thing about her job.
Spotting an empty park bench, she sat down to rest and watch the people. She liked to come here, to see what she was missing. She was jealous of all the smiling and laughing faces. She barely recalled the times when she was so innocent and carefree. Life in Section provided no such escape from reality. There was no time for smiling and laughing.
Her eyes rested on a couple that sat alone, somewhat isolated from the rest of the world. They were drinking wine and talking quietly. Nikita could tell they were happy as they gazed into each other’s eyes, and she smiled wistfully. Their mannerisms were gentle and familiar. She wished she could be in love like that someday.
The man faced forward, laughing, and Nikita frowned. He almost looked like… She shook her head in disbelief. The distance must be playing tricks on her; Operations was doing something for Oversight, not having a picnic. But the woman did have hair like Madeline’s…
As the sun began to set, the dark shadow of the Eiffel Tower cast over them. The sounds of children playing mingled with the music of a lone violinist. Operations leaned back on one hand, sipping his wine. Madeline hugged her knees to her chest, feeling the breeze tickle her face and gently tousle her hair.
A mime appeared before her, batting his eyes like a lovesick fool. She chuckled as he made motions that indicated his heart was pounding out of his chest. Finally, he produced a single red rose, which he gave to her, and continued on his way.
Madeline inhaled its scent delicately, casting a sideways glance at Operations. “So a mime gives me a flower, but you give me nothing?”
“We’re here as friends, remember?” Then he smiled. “Besides, how do you know I didn’t pay him to do that?”
She tossed the idea around with a raised eyebrow and leaned back on her hands. Her fingers brushed his, and she stroked them lightly. He glanced at the movement almost nervously then looked at her. Her face was turned, but he could see her smiling softly.
The violinist moved nearer to them, playing a somewhat melancholy song. Operations sat up straight and held out his hand. “Would you like to dance?”
She nodded, and he helped her up. They began to move in time to the music, eyes locked onto each other. The space between them became smaller until their cheeks were pressed together. Whether it was the wine or the music or maybe her perfume, he wasn’t sure, but he was feeling lightheaded. His lips grazed her neck softly, and she placed her chin on his shoulder. The violinist had moved on, but the song in their minds continued to play.
Operations’s suggestion to walk along the Seine on their way back to Section was well-received, and they did so hand in hand. Madeline’s affections pleasantly surprised him, and the silly grin on his face was impossible to remove.
As they passed a florist, he chuckled. “Do you want some more flowers?”
Clutching the rose in her other hand, she shook her head. “This one will do just fine.”
“Are you going to put it on the stand with the iris?”
“No, I think I’ll put it in a vase on my desk.”
He stopped walking and sighed. “Madeline?” She turned to him, and he touched her cheek gently. “What’s so bad about opening things up again?”
She hesitated. There were plenty of good reasons, of course, but none of which she could think of at the moment. Suddenly, opening things up again didn’t sound like such a bad idea.
The feel of her lips against his was startling, and he jumped. Madeline pulled back, stunned by his reaction. After a moment, when he realized he hadn’t been dreaming, he smiled. “Can we try that again?”
She met him halfway.
Operations grinned at Michael as they met in the Perch. “Thank you. I’m sorry that I’m an hour late, but we got a little…distracted.”
“Then I trust your evening was satisfactory.”
He opened his mouth, debating on how to answer. He settled on a gleeful, “Oh, yes.” He paused. “Thank you.”
Michael removed the key card from around his neck. “You have command.”
Operations took it. “I have command.”
“Michael!” Nikita smiled. She had just returned from her shopping trip and still had her enormous shopping bag with her. “Where are you going?”
“Oh. I take it you’re done in the Perch.”
“Operations got back safely from his mission?”
She bit her bottom lip. “I know that you’re not going to believe this, but I think he lied to you about his whereabouts. I swear I saw him on a picnic with Madeline.”
He looked at her blankly. “You must be mistaken.”
“He didn’t lie, Nikita.” With that, he turned into the van access port, and the door slid closed behind him.