Persistence of Memory
Written February 2002
Synopsis: Madeline develops amnesia, and Paul releases her until her condition improves. However, a new terrorist organization is determined to make her re-integration into Section as difficult as possible.
Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.
When Madeline awoke in Paul’s arms, she found it impossible to keep the grin off her face. The memory of last night was one she enjoyed reliving. Finally confessing their feelings had fueled their desire for each other, and they made love more times, and in more positions, than she had thought possible. Despite the fact that she hadn’t gotten much sleep, she felt alive and blissfully happy.
She stretched, taking a deep breath, and looked into his face. “Hi.”
Paul kissed her deeply, like he hadn’t kissed her in days. “Sleep well?”
“Yes…when I actually slept.” She wiggled closer to him, bringing her head down for another kiss. Oh, she could get used to this. Three months ago, she never would’ve guessed that she’d fall in love with a spy and wake up in his arms after making love all night. “What’s on the agenda today?”
“I have to contact Oversight, let them know where we are regarding Dark Moon. Then I have to coordinate with Michael, Lydia, and Birkoff. They’re each doing scans of known Dark Moon substations. Hopefully something will come up, and we’ll be able to eliminate them once and for all.”
“Can I do anything to help?”
“No, this is pretty routine. I would suggest studying your profile, remind yourself what you were like and how you should act. I can give you the codes to get into your database. That way, when Oversight asks for a debrief on your activities over the past year, you can give them a convincing report.”
“You make it sound so easy,” she mumbled, laying her cheek on his chest. She had hoped to start remembering Section before she had to write reports, but from the way he was talking, Oversight would be contacting her soon. She had already remembered her college days and was well into her time as a criminal profiler. How much longer would it take? When did she join Section?
“It is easy, Madeline. All it takes is a bit of imagination.” He gave her a quick squeeze. “You’ll do fine.”
“I hope so. What time do you have to leave?”
Paul caught a glimpse of the clock. “I don’t have to be down in Comm until nine, and it’s barely seven-thirty now.”
“Good, that’s plenty of time.”
“Plenty of time for what?”
She flashed him her most irresistible grin. “For a long, hot shower.”
The corners of his mouth turned upward. “You read my mind.”
Madeline kept her eyes on the computer screen while fixing her hair into a bun. After reading through the code of conduct, her personal profile, and the list of top operatives, she began to scan reports that she had filed before her amnesia and watch videos of her interrogations. She hadn’t known what to expect, but already she was surprised. Was that woman on the screen really her? She seemed so cool and in control, frightening and amazingly powerful. The terrorists strapped in the metal chair were all intimidated by her presence.
Paul had been correct in saying that she rarely killed the terrorist herself. Usually she didn’t even physically torture them. It was all interrogation and psychological mind games. Once she had shot someone in the leg, and another time she nearly crushed a woman’s windpipe. A few times she had broken bones with her bare hands. Madeline looked at her long fingers and perfectly manicured nails and saw lethal weapons instead of hands.
Am I insane? I can’t do this!
The knock on the door made her jump, and she quickly rose to open it. On the other side stood a smiling Nikita. “Hi!”
“Hi. What are you doing here?”
“Oh, nothing. Just thought I’d stop by, see how you were doing.”
Madeline stepped aside. “Come in.” She glanced around her room, at the mess she had intended on cleaning up before Paul arrived last night. Her heart fluttered for an instant as she eyed the rumpled bed. Would Nikita be able to tell what she had done? God, Madeline, don’t be absurd! “Sorry about the mess.”
“Looks like you had a party.”
Did she have some sort of radar? “Wh–what gave you that idea?”
Nikita chuckled, running her hand along the desk before propping her hip on it. “I’m just kidding, Madeline. You’re usually so neat and tidy.”
She swallowed her rising confession. If it had been Cam, she would’ve given her every detail about last night. Well, maybe not every detail, but enough to put her imagination into high gear. But Nikita…she couldn’t tell her that! Based on their past relationship and her old self, a sex life would be the last thing on her mind, least of all with her boss! “I didn’t have time to clean up. I was really quite busy.”
Her smile didn’t waver as she regarded her. “I understand. Besides, it’ll be nice when you can move somewhere bigger, right? I’m sure you miss your old place.”
“Yes, but living here has its advantages. I’m closer to my work, and if there’s an emergency, I’m immediately available.”
“Ah. So I suppose you wouldn’t want to go out and have lunch, would you?”
Madeline grinned. “Are you kidding? I’m famished.”
They stepped outside her quarters, nearly bumping into Lydia. The Russian woman gasped. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t see you coming out.”
Nikita smiled. “No problem. How are you, Lydia?”
“Fine.” She turned to Madeline, and her eyes widened, as if she hadn’t noticed her before. “Madeline?” Regaining her composure, she held out her hand. “My name is Lydia. I replaced you after your ‘death.’ You’re a difficult act to follow.”
Politely, Madeline shook her hand. “Nice to meet you.” Although she wanted to look away, she forced herself to hold Lydia’s gaze. The woman regarded her with the same intimidation that the terrorists in the White Room did. Evidently, her reputation preceded her.
“Well, I have things to do.” With a sideways glance at Madeline, she continued down the hall until the clicking of her heels could no longer be heard.
“She seemed almost afraid of you,” Nikita teased lightly.
“Maybe she is. After all, she replaced me, and I’m back. She probably feels threatened. Maybe Michael does, too.”
“Michael?” She seemed surprised but quickly recovered. “Well, I suppose I can see how that would bother someone. What’s going to happen? Are you going to take back your old position?”
Madeline sighed inwardly. I have no idea. “I haven’t decided. But for now, I’m simply looking forward to another day of shopping.”
“You need to go shopping again?”
“I forgot to get a nightgown.” She tried to hide her smile. Not that I’ll be spending much time in it…
Paul tapped the frame of his glasses against his bottom lip, staring at an invisible point on the floor. Michael stood beside him, arms folded in front of him, waiting. Lydia was on her way to the Perch with new intel about Dark Moon. While Birkoff and Michael had both come up empty handed, Lydia had struck gold. As they waited, Paul darkened the Perch windows. Whatever it was, he didn’t want the rest of Section to find out prematurely.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Lydia announced as she walked into the office, staying near the exit. “I wanted to confirm my findings.”
Paul nodded in agreement. “What did you find?”
“There’s a traitor in Section. Someone has been sending intel to Dark Moon. I found a well-hidden series of secret communiqués that have been transmitted over the past three months. One of them leaked your field location, which must be how Dark Moon knew which airport you were at.”
A traitor in Section? It wasn’t unheard of, but it was still a blow to the ego. Had Paul been so obsessed with Madeline that he let one of his operatives turn to the other side? And why hadn’t Michael figured it out? He glanced at his second-in-command, who was as stoic as usual, then back at Lydia. “Do you have any idea who sent the messages?”
She straightened. “Yes. I know exactly who did it.” Swiftly, she pulled a Section-issue gun out of her jacket pocket and pointed it at them. “I did.”
Madeline lazily swung her shopping bag by her side. She had bought the most romantic piece of lingerie after lunch, a black charmeuse gown with a slit up one side. Paul would love it, and she couldn’t wait for him to take it off of her. Smiling to herself, she wondered if he’d have another free night tonight.
Nikita leaned next to Birkoff, eyeing the darkened Perch windows. “What’s going on?”
“Lydia found something about Dark Moon. She went to tell Operations and Michael.” He looked at Madeline. “You should probably go up there, too.”
Her brow furrowed briefly. Of course she should be there; the old Madeline would be there, wouldn’t she? She managed a slight nod. “You’re right.”
“I’ll go with you,” Nikita offered, following her to the stairway that led up to the Perch. They climbed slowly, the voices inside growing louder with each step. Pausing outside the door, they stopped to listen.
“Why?” Paul asked, sounding very close to them.
“Why? Why?” Lydia sounded almost hysterical. “That’s a funny question, coming from you. Why would I help Dark Moon? Because I am Dark Moon.”
Madeline’s eyes widened, and she turned to Nikita. The blonde looked equally shocked.
“I hand-picked every agent,” Lydia was saying, “funded every attack, planned every strategy. All from the comfort of my office at Section One. It wasn’t easy, until a year ago when I was promoted. Encoding the messages took a lot of effort, but it paid off.”
Madeline put a hand on Nikita’s arm. “I have an idea.”
End of part fourteen