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Only the Young Die Good

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Nikita's head was pillowed on a coil of rope, blond like her hair, something old-fashioned and prickly. She had to move carefully to sit up or it yanked strands out with pings of small pain.

She ignored it and nearly threw herself to her feet, sore thighs and overworked ache between her legs be damned. Michael was up and thinking - building walls she couldn't climb in bare feet. She was cold, but it didn't matter. She would be colder if he got to the end of his ruminations. He had a way of surrendering to their emotions faster and further than she could follow, pulling her along spitting like an angry cat. She melted into his soothing strokes and that was her curse; Michael's touch hypnotized her and made her forget. He wasn't very good at bringing her down to earth gently. When she tried to make sense of these moments - seconds, really - it was mostly his whole weight slamming her bitterly to a dirty floor. Pleasure was ubiquitous, but not immediate.

She was used to him controlling her body and her words, and she had to guard against heedlessness. There were no lost moments in Section. He wanted her back, and she had to have it on her own terms this time. Failing that, it had to be on any terms but Michael's. It was the only way, but some of the time she would blame her captors. Michael had to keep his place as her mentor without taking on the bloody stamp of her executioner.

He acknowledged her as gracefully and subtly as he would have in front of Madeline and Operations, the barest look skimming past her nudity to see the toughness she was trying to put on. She didn't want to be kissed and seduced with doubts running wild between them.

Her palm brushed the front of his shoulder, and he put his hand down next to her hip while she huddled closer. Their conversation was as spare and open-ended as all their conversations were, but he hugged her to his chest when her voice cracked.

Michael had no answers - there were no answers in Section. There were no lovers or loyalties, and there were no blue skies. This time it would be her fault, but it would also be her choice. Running wasn't working, because easily half of what she needed to escape pounded in her chest.