Written September 2001
Rated G
Synopsis: Michael helps Madeline cope after Operations’ death.

Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.

Madeline entered the Perch slowly, pleading with herself to maintain her composure as the memories came rushing back. She looked at Michael, and the sad reality settled in. She took a breath, struggling to keep her voice even and void of emotion. “You wanted to see me?”

“Yes.” He turned to face her. “I would like for you to be my second-in-command.”

“Thank you…but I’ll need some time to consider it.”

“I understand. Why don’t you take a few days off, come back when you’ve made a decision.”

She shook her head. “I just want to get back to work.”

“Are you sure that’s wise? You’ve had a difficult past few days, and you haven’t slept in over thirty-six hours.”

She blinked. How did he know? “I need to keep my mind focused. Anything I do or anywhere I go…it’ll just remind me of him.”

“His death was a terrible loss to everyone.”

A lump formed in her throat. “He will be missed.” She lowered her head to shield the emotions that threatened her. “Is there anything else?”

Michael held out a small box. “They retrieved this from the body. I was instructed to give it to you.” As she took it, he darkened the Perch windows.

Madeline looked at the package curiously and lifted the lid, peering inside. Her heart lurched, and she backed up, running into the wall. A small, pained sound escaped her lips.

Michael was at her side immediately. “Are you all right?”

She whimpered softly, tears pooling in her dark eyes. Gently, she removed a gold band from the box. “His ring,” she said, her voice like that of a frightened child. “He wore this for me. He said he’d never take it off unless one of us–” She released a wrenching sob. “Unless one of us died. I told him it was silly because we weren’t married. So he proposed and I–I told him no. Love has no place in Section, but…” She closed her eyes as the tears fell. “But I loved him more than anything…and that’s something I never told him.”

Michael put his hand on her shoulder, his own emotions becoming difficult to manage. “He knew, Madeline.” She gazed at him, and he moved his hand to the side of her face, wiping the tears away. “He knew.”

The End


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