Written March 2001
Synopsis: The past becomes clearer when a young girl is rescued and brought to Section.
Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.
The man looked over the rim of his tinted glasses. “Yes?”
“My name is Sabrina. Can you teach me a game?”
He glanced toward the Perch to see Operations giving him an approving nod. He looked at the girl again. “What kind of game?”
“Well,” she began, climbing onto his lap without hesitation, “I already know how to play chess. What’s your favorite game?”
Nikita peered over their shoulders. “How about Tomb Raider?”
Birkoff shook his head quickly. “She’s six!”
“I’m seven,” Sabrina corrected. “What’s Tomb Raider?”
He put her on the floor and stood up. “I don’t think Operations would want me to teach her that game,” he whispered, as if his statement was classified.
“What’s Tomb Raider?”
“Well, what else can you teach her?” Nikita asked, ignoring Sabrina’s incessant interruptions.
“Nikita, what’s Tomb Raider?”
He grunted. “How do I know? I’m not a babysitter!”
“What’s Tomb Raider, Birkoff? How do we play?”
“Be a good big brother!” Nikita smiled sweetly. “How about something over the LAN?”
“What’s a LAN?”
“She doesn’t have clearance to use the computers,” Birkoff stated.
“What’s a LAN, Nikita?”
“She can use mine. I’ll log her in.” She smiled and looked at Sabrina. “How does a game of chess against Birkoff sound?”
Sabrina wrinkled her nose. “But I already know how to play chess.”
“Consider it practice. Birkoff’s really good…”
Birkoff’s throat went dry. He hadn’t played chess for quite some time. And losing to a seven-year-old was not how he wanted to spend his evening. He smiled wearily.
Operations watched as the computer performed its search. Once again, it came up empty. Sabrina was not in the database. “Ideas?”
Madeline finished the last of her wine and sat the glass on the table. “Section’s database regarding children is underdeveloped. It’s possible she doesn’t have a file yet.”
“What should we do about her?”
“I’m not sure we could send her back to the outside world. Her exposure to our systems has been too great.”
Operations nearly scoffed. “She’s only seven, Madeline. I doubt she poses much of a threat.”
“She’s incredibly intelligent for her age. Besides, she might do well as an operative.”
He lifted his head, almost shocked by her suggestion. “I don’t want her in Section.”
“You have developed an affection for this girl, and you can’t let that get in the way of your objectivity.” Madeline leaned back in her chair. “Sabrina would be an ideal Section operative when she got older. With training, the integration would be flawless.”
“What kind of life would she have in Section?” He sighed. “Look, we could find some other family to care for her, or…” Her authoritative expression was beginning to anger him. Furious, he slammed his fist on the table, causing the silverware to clatter. “Dammit, Madeline, why does everything have to be black and white with you?”
“Because there is no gray.”
He glared at her and stormed off, nearly crashing into Christopher on his way out.
The game against Birkoff had been short, and Sabrina continued to defeat the other comm operatives with ease. Pretty soon, a whole team brought out a strategy guide on chess and tried to beat her. Nikita sat beside her, laughing.
She noticed Operations lurking around, watching silently, a sad smile on his face. Frowning, she walked over to him. “Hey.”
“How is she?” he asked, distant.
“She’s beating the pants off everyone here. I think the only person who stands a chance against her is Madeline.”
“Madeline?” He looked at her curiously.
“Yeah. Madeline is the resident chess master. The Comm staff is too busy playing first person shooters.”
He unfolded his arms as if he’d had some sort of revelation. He glanced at Sabrina, then back at Nikita. When he finally spoke, his voice was detached from his thoughts. “It’s getting late. See if you can find her some quarters where she’ll be comfortable.” He strode off purposefully, leaving Nikita to her thoughts.
Operations slipped into Medical and stood in front of the refrigerator where blood samples were held. Every Section operative had a vial readily available, and larger quantities were in cold storage. He quickly found the two vials he needed and peeled off the names. He approached the nearest doctor.
“The girl who was brought in today, Sabrina. Do you have a sample of her blood?”
The man nodded. “Of course.”
He handed him the vials. “I need you to do a DNA test.”
“Sure. What am I testing for?”
He paused slightly. “Parentage.”
Madeline didn’t look up as the doors to her office slid open. Only one other person knew her code, and he never asked for permission. She finished the last of her work on the computer before turning toward him.
“I found the identities of Sabrina’s biological parents.”
She tilted her head slightly. “Did you?”
“Yes.” Operations circled the desk to stand in front of her, cornering her from leaving the area. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
She eyed him coolly. “What purpose would it have served?”
“Forget purpose–think morals!” He leaned his hand on the desk, further decreasing the space between them. He spoke in low, even, angry tones. “Why didn’t you tell me we had a child?”
She softened ever so slightly. “Because you would have worried about her. You would have followed her progress, like you did with Stephen, and you would have lost your focus.”
“Are you saying I lost my focus with Stephen?”
“I’m saying it would have been a distraction if you had known.”
“But it wasn’t a distraction for you?”
“No. It wasn’t.”
His face clouded over in anger, and he shoved himself into an upright position and began pacing her office. “Eight years ago you went to Center for about seven months. For training, you said. When, in reality…you were hiding your pregnancy from me.” He bobbed his head, the truth finally revealed. “When you got back, you said it would be a good idea if we didn’t see each other anymore.” He stopped walking and flung his arms up in frustration. “Why–why keep the child at all? As leverage? So you could subject her to a life in Section?”
She remained seated, watching him carefully. “Because I was under orders.”
“Oh, orders, was it?” He glared at her. “Were you under orders to sleep with me, too?”
Ignoring his last question, she stood and rounded the desk. “Our potential as operatives was known from the day we entered Section. Center had us both training for the role of Operations. However, when they found out how well we worked together, they began to mold us into a team. They encouraged the chemistry between us with the idea that it would make us unbeatable.” She paused slightly. “When a physical examination revealed I was pregnant and Center was certain you were the father, they told me to have the child. I was taken from Section One and spent the next seven months in relative seclusion. After her birth, I didn’t even get to see her. They assured me that she was healthy and would be cared for until the time was right for her to return to Section. Today was the day.”
He stared, stunned by her confession. The only word he could mutter was “Why?”
“Our talents combined are impressive but burdensome. We must be together to be truly effective. But now, with our intellect, personalities, and skills combined in one body, she is the best of both worlds.” She raised her chin almost proudly. “She will be our legacy.”
The only sound in the corridor was the click of Madeline’s heels on the floor. Most of the lower-level operatives had gone home for the evening, the skeleton crew taking over their work. She had more privacy at night, able to slip through the halls nearly undetected.
She peeked at the monitor before walking in. “You’re still up.”
Sabrina sat up in bed and smiled. “Hello, Madeline.”
She smiled as well and sat on the edge of the bed. “Is the room to your liking?”
“It’s okay. Birkoff brought me a night light so I wouldn’t get scared.”
Madeline almost chuckled. Birkoff had been tentative about his role as a surrogate older brother, but it seemed that he had grown comfortable with it. She touched the head of Sabrina’s stuffed rabbit. “Where did you get this?”
“Paul,” she answered. “He was here a little while ago and tucked me in. He seemed sad. Madeline, why was he sad?”
As it was common with her, she evaded the question. “It’s pretty late, Sabrina. You should get some sleep.”
“I can’t. Mommy used to sing me to sleep, but since she isn’t here anymore, would you?”
“Sing to you?”
“Yes.” Sabrina nestled under the covers and looked up at Madeline expectantly.
She folded her hands in her lap. “Do you have any favorites?”
“I don’t care.”
She switched off the lamp, and Birkoff’s night light shone brightly on the wall. After some hesitation, she softly began to sing.
The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried…
As much as she tried, she couldn’t stop the small tear from rolling down her cheek.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away…
Operations sat in the breakfast room, waiting for Madeline. She was late, which was uncharacteristic of her. He was concerned that she wouldn’t show up at all this morning, in light of their previous conversation.
He had been furious last night and actually stormed out of her office at what she said. Her reasons for not telling him were ridiculous. Of course he would look out for Sabrina! It’s what a father should do, and it’s a chance Madeline never gave him.
Her explanation brought everything into a new light. After all this time, things finally made sense. She had been close to three months along when she left for Center, and she had been ill at the time. He hadn’t put much thought into it then, attributing it to anxiety about training, but now he recognized it as morning sickness. After the birth, Center had probably put her through a rigorous physical fitness routine to get her trimmed down again. She hadn’t been the same when she returned. She was cold, distant, and sad. He had missed her immensely and couldn’t wait to be with her again, but she shunned him, calling off the romance they shared before she left. He was hurt and tried to get her to change her mind, but she had been adamant. She still was, turning down any offers he made. Now he knew why.
Last night, when he gave Sabrina the bunny, he had been giving her something to remember him by. Oversight would take her soon, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. Madeline had been right all along, that her place was in Section. No doubt Sabrina would be trained for his position, or even for head of Oversight. And maybe someday, she would know the truth about her life and their paths would cross, and he could tell her all of the things he wanted to say.
He heard Madeline enter and turned. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” she greeted, taking her seat and turning to her computer monitor. “The intel Michael and Nikita retrieved from the Red Cell operative has put us ahead of the game. We have the location of their next three meetings. Would you like me to write up tentative mission profiles?”
He looked at her. Her gaze was averted, and she stared at the screen, either extremely focused or purposefully ignoring their past discussion. “Madeline, I’m sorry about last night.”
“Last night is not an issue this morning.”
“Do I have to put it on your panel to get you to talk about it?”
She turned to him, slightly agitated. “What is there to talk about?”
He smiled fondly. “I watched you with her last night.”
Her response was a sharp inhale. She continued to look at him, her expression unreadable.
“She’s turned out well, don’t you think?” he mentioned, eyes growing misty.
“Yes. She’s very bright.”
“Like her mother.”
“No, like her father.”
A smile tugged at his lips, but he couldn’t control his emotions. He lowered his head, a hand over his eyes. Tears stung him, and he blinked them away.
“Sir, some people from Oversight are here,” Birkoff announced over the comm unit. “They’re looking for Sabrina.”
“Paul, darling!” The British voice greeted him cheerily as he and Madeline approached.
Operations unwillingly accepted a kiss on both cheeks. “It’s great to see you, Claire,” he said flatly.
The woman from Oversight was accompanied by two men dressed in black. “Don’t worry, dear, you’re not being removed from your position.” Claire smiled politely at Madeline but said nothing to her. She turned her attention back to Operations. “As young Seymour told you, I’ve come for the girl. Where is she?”
Nikita appeared at that moment, carrying Sabrina. Operations looked at them, and his heart skipped a beat. He felt Madeline’s presence beside him and allowed himself to relax.
The blond operative smiled slightly. “Hi.” She put Sabrina on the ground, and the girl didn’t move, tightly clutching the rabbit Operations had given her. “What’s going on?”
“Oversight has come for Sabrina,” Operations answered.
“Where are you taking her?” Nikita asked, suddenly concerned.
Claire raised an eyebrow. “She will live at Center with a surrogate family and complete her education.”
Her eyes darkened. “At which point you’ll recruit her into Section.” She looked at Operations. “She doesn’t deserve that kind of life. How could you do this? She’s just a child!”
“She has excellent potential,” Claire defended. “Don’t worry. She will be treated well.”
“What about her biological parents?” She didn’t notice Operations stiffen at her question.
“Section is her family now,” Madeline responded softly.
Nikita scoffed in disgust. With a final glare at Operations and Claire, she walked away.
“Enter her into the psychological reconditioning program, Paul. She is much too emotional.” Claire looked at the girl. “Well, Sabrina, are you ready to go?”
“Wait.” Operations knelt down. “You’ll be okay, Sabrina,” he said quietly. “They’ll take good care of you.”
She nodded. “Will you come visit me?”
He smiled. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again someday.” He looked into her dark eyes, so reminiscent of Madeline’s, and gave her a hug. “Good-bye, Sabrina.” He stood and backed away.
Claire nodded to her assistants. “We’re ready. Let’s go, Sabrina.” She smiled at Operations. “Good-bye, Paul.”
Sabrina continued to look at Operations until she disappeared from his view. He continued to stand in the middle of the room, watching the doorway, as various operatives walked around him without a second thought. He couldn’t move, afraid that if he did, he would collapse.
Someone appeared in the doorway, holding a stuffed, white rabbit. A young woman, twenty-something, with a smile like his and eyes like Madeline’s. His heart started beating faster, and he lifted his hand toward her, grinning broadly…
Madeline’s voice brought him back to the present. He blinked. The figure in the doorway disappeared. He moved his head in her direction slightly, but his eyes never strayed from their position.
“Michael has arrived with his debrief of last night’s mission.” She touched his arm gently, startling him. He turned to her, his face holding an expression of bewilderment. “Would you like a moment before you meet him in your office?”
“Uh…” He looked around wildly in an effort to regain his composure. When he faced her again, his manner had returned to normal. “No. I’ll meet him now.”
She smiled slightly and released him. “Good. When you’re finished, Birkoff would like you to look at the intel we attained from the Red Cell operative. I will be at the Farm for a short time this afternoon, overviewing the progress of our new recruits.”
“Fine. We’ll work on the Berlin profile when you return.” As she left, he glanced up at the windows of the Perch to see if Michael was already there. Instead, he saw a ghost-like image of Sabrina, observing the deck below, her appearance and mannerisms a mirror of his own. Someday, she would be there, following in the footsteps of her father. He allowed himself a small smile of pride as Madeline’s words echoed in his head.
She will be our legacy.