Memories of Paradise and Hell
Written March 2001
Synopsis: Operations confronts his memories after the events in “A Girl Who Wasn’t There.”
Spoilers: “Four Light Years Farther” and “A Girl Who Wasn’t There”
Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.
Operations sat in his office, staring sadly at his computer. The same thing had been on his screen for the past hour–the profile and photograph of Madeline, the only remaining piece of her that survived after he erased her files. He clicked off the image and mused over the events of the last twenty-four hours. The holographic likeness that Quinn had created had been so amazing, he had briefly forgotten that the real Madeline was gone.
Madeline. He let out a long, heavy sigh. He missed her terribly, more than he could have imagined. At times, he could still hear her laughter, smell her perfume, taste her kisses. But they were only memories now.
He knew what he had to do, but it was harder than it seemed. He had to move on and forget about Madeline. There was no way he–or anyone else, for that matter–could bring her back. To Section, she was gone, nothing more than a profile accessible on a terminal. Hardly anyone spoke of her anymore, and if her name was brought up, it was in reference to her performance as executive strategist. Only Operations mentioned her as a fallen friend, one he admired, respected, and missed.
In order to move on, he knew he would have to disassociate himself from all things that reminded him of her. He had done much of that after her suicide. Her office was stripped and redecorated, and a level-five operative now claimed the space as his own. Both her quarters at Section and her apartment in the city had been cleaned out, her possessions destroyed. There was just one physical reminder of her left in his life, and it was the only thing holding him back.
Slowly, he slid the gold band over his knuckle, hesitating before removing it completely. He held it between his forefinger and thumb, staring at it. It still retained its luster, even after all these years. Sadly, he glanced at the inscription, and he could almost hear Madeline’s voice as he read the words. To Paul, with all my heart. Madeline. He rolled the ring between his fingers and let his mind return him to the day he received it.
Nikita walked into the Perch cautiously. Operations wanted to meet with her regarding the Collective, but she was tentative. The last time she had come in, he was dancing with Madeline’s hologram.
This time, however, he was seated before his computer, lost in a reverie, an expression of fondness etched on his weary face. He held something shiny between his fingers.
Operations jumped slightly, turning toward her. Immediately, he hid whatever he had been holding inside his fist. He cleared his throat and repositioned himself in his chair. “I’m sorry, what?”
“What’s in your hand?”
“Nothing,” he said, folding his other hand over the clenched fist and resting them on the desk.
She frowned at his secrecy and reached over to pry the object free. He did little to resist, his expression changing to one of vulnerability. Something clattered on the table, and Nikita picked it up. “What is it?” She gazed at it curiously, not really expecting an answer. She noticed the inscription and squinted to read it. Her head snapped up, and her eyes widened. “I…” She put the ring on the table and took a step back, unable to speak.
Operations stared at it, struggling to keep his voice even. Absently, he rubbed the faded line around his finger. “I’ve worn that ring since the day she gave it to me. I’ve never taken it off before.”
“You were married?” she asked in disbelief.
“We never went through a formal ceremony, if that’s what you mean.” He picked up the ring, his voice barely above a whisper. “She gave this to me on the anniversary of the day we met. We had dinner at a restaurant in Paris. Then we went onto the balcony and danced as a jazz musician sang ‘Gentle Rain.’ It was the most perfect night of my life.” He let out a pained sigh, his voice shaking. “God, I miss her. She meant everything to me. And I…I never told her that. I didn’t tell her a lot of things. It makes me wonder if she really knew how I felt. But it’s too late to tell her now. If I had known that she–” Suddenly, he looked at her, his face hardening. Nikita was partly to blame for Madeline’s death, and his heartfelt soliloquy had not been meant for her ears.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly, noticing the hatred in his eyes. “I never meant for that to happen.” She looked away but still felt his glare. She had once speculated on his relationship with Madeline, but she had never known how deep their love for each other was. It almost paralleled her relationship with Michael. She lowered her head in deference. She knew what he was going through.
She looked at him. His face was expressionless.
“In order to maintain my objectivity, I have to make myself forget her.” He stood and approached her, staring into her eyes. “But I will never forget what you have done. You have destroyed the only thing that ever mattered to me.” He took a step, brushing her shoulder, and stopped to mutter into her ear. “Her death is on your conscience.”
“As memory may be a paradise from which we cannot be driven, it may also be a hell from which we cannot escape.”
–John Lancaster Spalding