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It had been a week since she had been forced to give up Gray, 3 days since they had started close-quarters standby, waiting for information on an upcoming assault on a chemical weapons plant.

Nikita had refused to speak to Michael unless absolutely necessary; the limits of her interaction had been cold glares. Michael, conversely, had spent the time looking wounded, as he closed himself in further. Madeline had put up with them constantly for the last 3 days, and she was sick of it. Something had to be done.

Michael looked up from his usual reports to see Madeline standing in his doorway. It was a bit of a surprise. Usually, you went to Madeline; she rarely came to you.

Her eyes evaluated him. "Follow me," she instructed quietly.

Michael was unsure what was happening, but he followed his orders. Madeline led him into one of the white rooms, where VR equipment had been set up. She pointed to a chair. "Sit."

Michael watched her cautiously but slowly did as he was told. "What do you want me to do?" he asked quietly, once seated.

"I would think that would be obvious," she responded, setting up the equipment.

"Is this a sim.?" he wondered.

"No." She turned to him, holding the headgear. "You have some issues you need to work through."

He didn't like this, but he was too conditioned to argue. "Won't I need the gloves?"

"No, not this time," she informed him. "Your body won't need to respond. Everything will happen in your mind. . . . It will be very realistic, though," she smiled.

"Will I be alone?" Michael questioned.

"Yes," she continued. "The computer has been programmed to respond in certain ways to your demands; it will anticipate many things, but--in essence--you'll be by yourself."

"Will you be watching?" Michael pressed.

Madeline gave him an enigmatic smile. "No. This is all yours." She started to put the visor on him.

Michael caught her hand gently. "Why?"

Madeline smiled again. "Don't ask questions. Just follow your instructions." Michael, not looking very pleased, withdrew his hand, and Madeline began to lower the visor again, before she stopped suddenly. "One more order. You *cannot* leave until the sequence is complete. Do you understand?"

Michael looked extremely unhappy and suspicious. "Yes." Madeline nodded and lowered the visor.

This wasn't the first VR scenario Madeline had set up that day, however. About 15 minutes earlier, she had ushered Nikita into a white room in another part of Section and told her many of the same things.

"Why?" Nikita had also asked, staring suspiciously at the gear. Madeline had smiled pleasantly at her. "You need some recreation--some way to blow off steam. This should help." She pointed toward the chair, which Nikita reluctantly took. "You'll be alone. No one will know what happens in here but you." She handed her the visor and smiled again. "Enjoy yourself. The system will start up in about 10 minutes. Be sure you have the visor on by then." She turned to leave before looking back. "One last thing. You can't exit until everything's over. Understand?"

Nikita stared at the visor disconsolately and nodded. Madeline had left. She then waited a very long ten minutes before the system started.


For Michael, the sim. started just as Madeline was leaving. He found himself in the living room of an old house, fireplace crackling. It was a very pleasant atmosphere; he never had quite gotten used to just how realistic these things were.

Things didn't seem too bad, until he looked across the room to see Nikita. She was wearing much the same outfit she had around their mission against Bauer: a white Oxford shirt, knee-high boots, and a short, Catholic-school-girl-type skirt. He had always suspected that she only wore it to make him crazy. "Damn Madeline," he thought; she would do this to him.

Nikita had liked the environment, until she saw Michael. "I'm going to kill Madeline for this," she thought. Then, she wondered whether it were Madeline or her own mind that had made the choice of her companion; the realization didn't make her any happier.

It didn't help matters, either, that he looked damn good. His hair was less behaved than usual, his natural curls evident. He was wearing a black shirt which formed a second, beautiful skin, and close-fitting black pants, which left little to the imagination--not that that had ever stopped her's. He eyed her with the same suspicion she knew she was aiming at him.

Nikita advanced toward him cautiously. "So, why are we here?"

Michael watched her body move, trying to repress his desire. "I thought you'd tell me."

Nikita stopped a few feet in front of him, hungrily examining the way his clothes clung to him. She had been furious with him for weeks, for his interference in her relationship with Gray--for his jealousy. She was even more outraged with him--and with herself--for still wanting him; she hated the effect he had on her, after all he had done.

Nikita wondered suddenly just how far she could go here. She knew Section's VR was supposed to be realistic, and so far it was; she could feel the heat from the fireplace, smell the burning wood. The room wasn't at all like Section. She had yet, though, to test its limits further. She walked toward Michael and ran her finger slowly down his chest; she felt every nuance of it, felt the soft texture of the shirt's cloth.

What the hell, Nikita decided. If this was her fantasy . . . "I have an idea," she said, running her fingertips over the outlines of his chest. She was standing close; God, he even smelled like Michael.

The touch of Nikita's hand was making Michael insane. He was trying to figure out Madeline's game. He would have thought that this was really Madeline in Nikita's form, but a Madeline fantasy would require more leather and chains. Besides, he had seen Madeline as the sim. was starting. "Which is?" Michael asked, trying to remain controlled.

"An exorcism," Nikita suggested. Her hand discovered his hardened nipple through the cloth. She teased it.

Michael swallowed. Nikita's touch was breaking down his will. He would have thought this was actually her--she had Nikita's scent, her visceral effect on him, her *presence*, but--if this were really Nikita--she wouldn't be touching him like this. With her mood toward him over the last several weeks, she probably would have just thrown him in the fire and left. "I didn't bring my Bible," he responded, with disarming, quiet humor, his face still immobile.

Nikita smiled at him, as her hand made him ache with desire. "I wasn't thinking of anything quite so religious." She leaned forward and bit the side of his neck, her other arm drawing him close. She looked at him again. "Let's face it, Michael. We've both been angry the last few weeks, but that hasn't stopped our desires, has it?"

Her hand ran down his chest to stroke him through his pants, his body making the truth of her statement obvious.

"`Kita, stop," Michael said, trying to push her away. Nikita ignored him, pressing forward and biting his neck again, her hand stroking him harder.

Michael's will to fight surrendered, as his arm grabbed hers, pulling her closer.

"Let's do it, Michael," she said, looking at him. "Let's have a cleansing by fire. No controls--no limits--just single-minded desire. Let's give in to these emotions and rid ourselves of them, so we can get on with our lives."

With Nikita stroking him like this, Michael probably would have done anything she had asked, up to and including the entire destruction of Section One. His eyes were closed, his head back, his breathing labored.

Nikita stopped stroking him, realizing that she wasn't going to get words even from his VR simulation, if she didn't.

He opened his eyes and looked at her. "No controls?"

Nikita shook her head. "I'm sick of your being a good boy, Michael." She leaned in, bit his jaw, and looked at him--very close to his face. "Give in."

Nikita--or this VR simulation by way of Madeline--was right, Michael decided. He had been angry the past few weeks. He had wanted to kill Wellman himself, except that he knew Nikita would never forgive him for it. Even though, too, he had forced Nikita on the mission with Wellman and--by betraying her trust during the whole situation with Eric--had made her ready to desert him, he was furious with her for her betrayal; the fact that his feelings were illogical and self-centered didn't change them. He was angry with himself, as well, for making her want to stray--for his own, manipulative actions toward her.

Michael watched this Nikita. The VR had her perfectly--the fire in those blue eyes, the light from the fireplace reflecting off her hair--creating a halo. In here, at least, his desire couldn't hurt her. He hated Madeline for creating this, but she was right, in a way. He needed to work through his anger, and--here--Nikita could be out of harm's way, as he did.

Michael leaned over to Nikita's neck, his arms encircling her and bending her slightly backwards. He breathed on and then bit a delicate line down its side. Holding her incredibly close, he whispered in her ear, "This is what you want?"

Nikita's hands clawed at his back. She ran a hand up to the side of his face and pulled him back to face her, her eyes burning. "Yes," she half-growled.

Michael's eyes were fierce; he smiled.


They kissed roughly, passionately. Nikita's hands came up to his chest and traced down his shirt, stroking the skin revealed by its neckline before taking hold of either side of the cloth there and pulling. The shirt ripped. She continued down the tear, pulling the shirt open roughly before pushing it off his shoulders and pulling it off, discarding it on the floor.

Nikita ran her hands over his chest and back, finally able to feel them without the interference of the cloth. Her fingers found the nipple she had teased before and squeezed it. She heard a growl in Michael's throat, as his hands kneaded her back.

Nikita smiled and broke away from the kiss, taking his lower lip away with hers slightly before releasing it. She ran her tongue down his jaw and throat--hard, loving the slight roughness of his stubble on her tongue. She grabbed the back of his head and leaned down to his neck, biting her way down it, her other hand teasing a nipple now.

Michael groaned, holding her close, feeling her own hardened nipples pressing against him through her shirt.

Nikita bit at the flesh near his collar bone before continuing the same treatment on the other side of his neck. She then took his earlobe in her lips and pulled at it before biting a path down his neck again. She ran both of her hands to his back, as she ran her tongue down to one of his nipples. She touched it slightly with the tip of her tongue before she took it in her teeth, grazing them across it, soothing it a second later with her tongue--circling it, then repeating her pattern.

Michael growled softly, grabbing her shoulders. He held her to him, kneading her shoulders and back, his eyes closed, head back.

Nikita tormented his other nipple in the same fashion while moving her hands down to unfasten his pants. She reached into them and revealed him, stroking him. Then, she ran her tongue down his chest and stomach, her hands down his back, till she crouched before him.

She pushed down his pants and underwear to be able to take hold of him from behind. She took him in her mouth before running her lips back to the tip, circling it with her tongue.

Michael groaned, teeth gritted. His conscious mind had given up; he wasn't thinking in terms of VR anymore. Nikita's attentions were making him burn. He couldn't let her continue; if he didn't get to touch her soon, he would go insane.

Michael took hold of Nikita's shoulders and drew her up his body.

She nipped at a nipple as she went by. "Come here," he demanded quietly. He put a hand in her hair and kissed her roughly before moving his hands down to her shirt, ripping it open, his hands finally able to feel her beautiful breasts. Nikita groaned through the kiss, pressing against his hands to ask for more.

Michael removed one of his hands, to her whimper of disappointment and reached for a small pillow on a nearby couch. Grabbing it, he lowered her back onto the Persian rug which covered the floor, placing the pillow behind her head, unable--even here--to stop thinking entirely

about her safety. He pulled back and looked at her, his breathing ragged. He wanted her so badly he ached, but he wasn't letting this chance slip away. He intended to touch and taste her in every way he had dreamed of. Consummation could wait.

Michael leaned over her and kissed her again before running his tongue back to her ear, biting slightly at the lobe. He then bit his way down her neck and ran his tongue back up her throat, nipping at the underside.

Nikita's arms were around him, as she moaned. The slightly rough texture of his bristles just increased her pleasure.

Michael traced small bites down from her other lobe to her collar bone, biting the skin slightly above it. His hands kneaded her breasts sensuously, his thumbs stroking the nipples. Nikita groaned, clawing his back. His mouth ran up to nibble at her neck, as he teased her with his hands. Nikita growled, holding his head to her.

After a minute or so, Michael stroked his tongue down to her breast, his hands running around to her back. He nipped at the nipple slightly with his teeth.

"Michael," Nikita groaned, her hands in his hair, trying to hold him closer, begging for more.

Michael grabbed her nipple in his teeth, with just the right pressure, and teased the end of it with his tongue.

Nikita growled. "More."

Michael suckled, slightly roughly, at first one nipple, then the other.

Nikita groaned, holding him to her, her legs spread, hips thrusting, desperate for him.

Michael was doing everything right, and Nikita was responding as though she hadn't been touched in years. It wasn't that Gray had done anything particularly wrong; he had been a competent lover, but she had had to take the initiative frequently, to tell him what she wanted. Of course, Michael--here, Nikita thought, was just a figment of her subconscious, so it wasn't surprising he was so good, but she didn't care about that now.

If Nikita could have been honest with herself, she would have known why Gray had seemed so appealing, anyway: he wasn't Michael. After being manipulated and hurt by him, she had just wanted his opposite--someone gentle, not in the Section, whose manipulations--at least--weren't as blatant. Gray had managed, therefore, to satisfy her body but not her emotions or her soul. Michael, however, was doing a damn good job with all of them.

Nikita felt like she was losing hold of her sanity in her desire for Michael, and everything he did increased that feeling. His mouth at her breasts was making her ache for him.

Michael finally left her breasts, running his tongue down her stomach. His hands lifted back her skirt and then ripped off her underwear. He pulled back again to see her. She was perfect, and he wanted her. He had fantasized more than once about pushing her down on desks, floors, against walls--or about having her do the same to him; he had been desperate to hear her moans. He was damn well going to enjoy this chance.

Michael spread her legs further apart, put his hands behind her and then, leaning down, pulled her up to his face, entering her with his tongue. Nikita groaned deeply. He explored her for several minutes, to her delighted moans; he seemed to find every recess of joy within her. His nose rubbed the tender skin between her thighs. He then left her to suck at that skin, running one hand up her back. With the other, he ran first one and finally several fingers deep inside her, before he slid his mouth back to her breast, leaving his thumb to continue its neglected work. He suckled while stroking her. Nikita moaned, her head thrashing on the small pillow.

Michael moved his mouth to her other breast, letting his other hand tease the nipple he had abandoned, his right hand stroking her harder.

"Michael!" Nikita screamed, as she lost herself in ectasy, shuddering.


This was it for Michael. He pulled back from her, sucked off the fingers which had stroked her, took her by the hips, and entered her, not allowing her to come down.

Nikita gasped, barely breathing, so overcome by sensation her mind was a multicolor haze. She began groaning, as Michael moved within her. Her body was so overstimulated that he brought her back to orgasm almost without effort. She lay there, half-screaming, as he leaned down to suckle one of her breasts. Her nails tore at his back, as she groaned, panting.

When she had come down somewhat, he leaned back again to look at her. She opened her eyes. "God, you feel fantastic," she said finally.

Michael smiled at her and stroked more deeply, causing her to catch her breath and close her eyes. "So do you," he informed her.

Nikita looked back at him. "Kiss me, Michael. . . . Please."

He leaned back over her and kissed her deeply, a hand on her face.

Nikita ran one hand into his hair, encircling him with the other arm, her hips thrusting back at him. She then pressed her head back into the pillow, away from the kiss. "God, I need you," she whispered.

Michael bit the side of her neck lightly and sat back up, stroking her more deeply. Her hands ran down to his hips to pull him further in.

Michael pushed her legs down and stroked harder, watching her face. She moaned delightedly.

Without wanting it to, however, Michael's anger returned. He thought about Nikita's last month with Gray and stroked harder still.

She smiled. "Mmmmm."

He thought of all the times she must have been with him, and his hands reached around her to hold her from behind, pulling himself yet further into her--sharply.

"Oh . . . yeah," she moaned.

He remembered her denial of her love for him and stroked faster.

"Yes," Nikita moaned. "God, yes. . . . More." She groaned in delight.

Michael's memories made him get rougher, to her joyous moans. She licked her lips.

Nikita's skirt was proving to be a problem, trying to get in their way. Michael removed his hands from behind her long enough to rip it savagely straight up and halfway around, making sure it caused no further problems. His hands went back behind her, sinking back into her flesh to pull her to him, as he rode.

"Yeah," Nikita growled. "*Harder*."

"Could Gray do this to you?" Michael thought, his jealousy eliminating all self-control. He stroked her furiously now, sweat running down his body.

"Ooooo," Nikita sighed, groaning.

Michael leaned down and grazed his teeth over one of her nipples, and Nikita exploded in bliss, screaming, holding him deep inside her with her hands. "Yes . . . oh, yes . . . oh, yes," she murmured, coming down.

Michael gripped her harder, half closing his eyes; she felt so *good* when she came. It drove him half-insane to know she wanted him that badly. He was incredibly tempted to let his control slip, but he refused to; this was catharsis, and they weren't done with each other yet.

Nikita opened her eyes to look at him and sat up to kiss him furiously, pushing him over, his back landing against the side of the sofa. She pulled her shirt the rest of the way off and tossed it roughly away.

She was sitting on his lap; he was still buried firmly inside her.

Michael's anger, his jealousy had dissipated, and he felt ashamed.

Nikita's actions, though, were making it hard to feel anything but desire. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. "`Kita."

Nikita smiled and hooked her heels behind the legs of the couch, pulling Michael more deeply into her. His head was against its overstuffed arm. Nikita leaned down and bit his neck, continuing there, as he groaned.

They continued like that for some time, before Michael became desperate to taste her again. He thrust up at her strongly, causing her to groan, letting go of his neck. He took the opportunity to lean her back against his bent knees. He leaned down to suck at her breast, strokes getting deeper all the time.

Nikita groaned and rode him harder, her nails at his back.

Michael thrust hard within her while biting her nipple.

Nikita's hands ran into his hair, begging him to be rougher, as she screamed, coming again. She was beginning to feel slightly insane with delight.

Nikita was panting, when she came down this time. She found Michael's mouth and kissed him ferociously. She unhooked her legs from the couch, pushed him over on his side, and rolled back over on the floor with him, landing on top of him, growling. She grabbed the pillow near them and shoved it under his head; the last thing she wanted was for him to pass out.

Nikita could feel her old angers resurfacing. Mostly, she was furious that he could give her so much raw delight, when she was so enraged with him. She decided to return the favor.

Nikita rode him deeply, taking him further and further into herself. She leaned down to alternately suckle at and bite one of his nipples.

He groaned. "`Kita." His hands tangled in her hair.

Nikita rode him harder, furiously, as he moaned. He gave himself to her completely--all control relinquished.

She got rougher still, leaning her head back, teeth gritted, till she felt he was close.

"God, yes. . . . Nikita," he moaned.

Then, suddenly, Nikita's anger dissipated. She sat back up, pulling him willingly with her, groaning. Their arms were around each other. They opened their eyes, staring deeply at one another. There was no anger there--desperation, some sadness, but nothing brutal. Overwhelmingly, the emotion they saw was love.

They kissed passionately, tenderly, holding one another close. They looked at each other lovingly and then embraced, their cheeks close together, clinging to each other, still thrusting deeply.

"Ohhhh," Nikita sighed.

Michael rubbed his hands up and down her back, feeling the softness of her skin and hair. One hand ran up to tangle in that hair, holding her head close. "`Kita," he whispered. He never wanted to let her go. Nikita's hand was in his hair, holding him close, as well. She closed her eyes, barely able to stand the joy of this. "Michael," she moaned.

They were taking long, deep strokes and holding them, trying to stretch out the time left between them.

Michael, finally, pressed himself far up into her. "Ohhhh," Nikita moaned, leaning back into his hand.

He watched her face, as she started to lose herself.

Before she lost control entirely, however, Nikita pressed down far onto him and clamped down, knowing he wouldn't be able to withstand it.

She was right. Michael moaned, leaning back into her hand. A few seconds later, he lost himself in her, as she moaned in ectasy, both thrusting and leaning forward to cling to each other again, moaning. Even after they came down, they stayed like that, neither wanting to be let out of that beautiful embrace.

Finally, though, they pulled back enough to look at each other. Both of them made a silent wish that, someday, away from all of the pain and cruelty of Section, they could share this love in reality. They kissed deeply, delicately and looked at each other again. Then, they both decided that they had to go; it was too painful to look in each other's eyes knowing that they couldn't share this in their normal lives.

Each of them, unaware of the other's part in this, took off their visors, and the sequence ended.


Back in the workings of Section One, Madeline walked up to Birkoff's desk. "How's it going?" she asked quietly.

"Well, their heartrates and respiration were up so high a little while ago, I almost brought them out of it," he informed her.

Madeline smiled slightly at him. "Good thing you didn't. You would have been taking your life into your hands."

"It's been almost 2 hours," Birkoff said.

"But the sequence is complete now?" she questioned.

"Mm-hmm," he nodded, munching a candy bar. "A few minutes ago."

"Good," she smiled, then looked up to see Nikita round a corner, obviously deep in thought. The younger operative only looked up a few seconds before she almost ran into Michael, who was also caught offguard at seeing her. They stood there, staring at each other for several minutes.

Both Nikita and Michael, as they had more than once before, wanted to just hold each other fiercely close, promising to never let anyone hurt the other again. They were in the middle of Section, though, and they each thought the only real change was in themselves. They just stared at each other, therefore, until they realized that other people were beginning to watch them. They both stepped out of the other's way and left to go to their quarters, looking back briefly at each other before disappearing.

Birkoff shook his head. "Doesn't look like it worked. They're still not speaking to each other."

Madeline laughed slightly. "It worked." She looked back at the young man. "Thank you, Birkoff." She started to leave but then looked back. "Remember, though, if either of them finds out, you're in abeyance." She smiled and left.

Birkoff shuddered slightly. He didn't know whether she was kidding, but he had no desire to find out.

Madeline punched a few buttons on a keypad, once she was back in her office. Her tape of Nikita and Michael's VR encounter was secure. She would watch it later. She suspected, though, that--much as the tape of them she had gotten from Bauer had--it would be very instructive.

Madeline had known, given a chance to be alone in a way which offered no consequences or threats, that Michael and Nikita would take the opportunity to become lovers. No matter how much they tried to deny or avoid it, the intimacy between them grew daily. She smiled and returned to her reports. She loved being proved right.

Back in their separate quarters, Nikita and Michael each milled around a bit before going to bed. Once they finally got there, though, they found their bodies sated, in a way neither had experienced for years, from the VR. They both went to sleep fairly quickly.

Once they were asleep, they were finally able to do what they couldn't while they were awake. In their dreams, they held each other close, tenderly. It was the best either would sleep for years.