"Gemini, Part 2"

By: Xof

La Femme Nikita Slash Fiction

Pairing: Michael/Birkoff

Rating: NC-17 (deliciously so...)

Status: New

Archive: Please do but only with the author's permission.

Feedback: xof@rose.net

Website: http://thesleepydragon.com/nesting/main.html

Series/Sequels: The second and final part of a series. Please read part one first . . .

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. They just forced me to use them for awhile. Nonprofitable but highly satisfying. This is not for minors.

Notes: Italized words are character thoughts. Feedback is welcomed . . . anticipated, craved and generally begged for - lol. I hope you enjoy my story. Oh, and spoilers for all episodes through mid-third season. I began this series months before the character of Birkoff's twin was introduced on the show. I must be psychic.

Summary: Birkoff must deal with the assigned mission and his growing attachment to Michael. And faces the danger of losing himself in the heat of their passion.

Warnings: First Time - AU - D/s

Gemini (Part Two)



Entering Section proved to be a test of will. Birkoff attempted to maintain his game face. Nothing has changed. I will not act differently just because I've been with Michael. He felt that everyone who looked his way knew he'd been with someone; and not just anyone someone. He'd been with Michael . . . had had the best sex of his young life with Michael and wanted it to happen again. Rationally Birkoff knew their recent intimacy wasn't obvious to everyone. Michael was acting as matter of fact as ever. They didn't speak or stand close to each other as they made their way to Madeline's office. Everything went well until he spotted Walter waving to him from across the room. He felt his entire body flushed with color. Quickly looking at the ground, he silently hoped his lapse wasn't too obvious. Normal . . . just act normal.

Reaching Madeline's office took what seemed an eternity. At the word "Enter," they went into her office and stood awaiting the details of the meet.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As Madeline watched the two men enter her office, she accessed what changes she could detect. With Michael, there were no apparent outwardly signs of the past three days' activities. He wore his mask well. Besides, his cover could be turned on and enacted at will. Birkoff on the other hand was exhibiting all the signs an observant person would need to notice the change in their dynamic . . . which was exactly what Madeline had wanted them to achieve. The awareness of Birkoff's response to Michael's presence would serve the profile well.

"Things have proceeded well, gentlemen. Thus far."

Left unanswered was the 'how' of how she knew this. Was it assumption built upon personal observation or had the surveillance of Section extended far enough to have captured even their most intimate of moments? These thoughts flew through Birkoff's scattered brain as he tried, not too successfully, not to turn magenta with embarrassment.

"The meet is in ten hours. A mutually agreed upon location has been chosen . . . through Ivanoff's intermediary. Review your assigned profiles carefully. Your personas are well detailed. Ivanoff has already made the expected background checks for you both."

Michael spoke. "Do you know if this is a one up interview or should we prepare to leave from the meet?"

"Ivanoff hasn't indicated either. But knowing his tendency for testing people, it would be prudent to expect anything." Madeline smiled. "For Birkoff's benefit . . . you may wish to treat this as a form of mandatory refusal. Meaning that you are in and will remain in deep cover until such time as the mission is completed . . . with the understanding that there will not be a Section blackout. You will not be allowed to contact Section. We will contact you. Extraction will be handled by Nikita' s team."

Birkoff didn't know what was more disconcerting: knowing that he and Michael would have no safety net but each other or that Nikita (Michael's Nikita) was going to be involved in the mission after all.

Michael inquired, "Nikita?"

Madeline tilted her head slightly, before she answered. "Yes. She will be team leader for the extraction." She waited a moment before adding, "Nikita will not be briefed on the full details of this mission. She will only know what is needed to get you both out with Ivanoff."

Birkoff watched his lover. . . no. He watched Michael nod his head - the only indication that the operative understood that his on-again/off-again lover would be helping to extract both himself and his latest sexual partner. The irony was not lost on Birkoff.

Madeline continued, "You've both proved sexually compatible. How would you rate your D/s performance?"

After a moment Michael responded, "David . . ." When Birkoff turned fully to look his way Michael continued, "David, come to me."

For Birkoff, it was like a switch had been flipped in his brain. One minute he was Birkoff and the next he was David. The David that wanted to please his Dom with his quick response to his summons. He moved without thought, quickly standing between Michael's legs before sinking to rest on his knees in full sub position with hands behind his back and head down.

The whispered, "Yes sir," barely left his lips before his head was pulled back and his lips taken fiercely. The kiss was one of possession . . . dominance taken and submission given. Birkoff lost himself in touch of his Dom's mouth, the taste of his tongue. He moaned into Michael's mouth, but retained enough control over his body so as not to break position. One long intense moment later, he was released. Breathlessly, Birkoff resumed position with his head down.

The silence that followed was short in duration, but still agonizing. Madeline said, "Very convincing. Ivanoff should have no trouble believing that Michael and David are a D/s couple." Rising from her desk, Madeline approached them. "Birkoff . . . a word."

Michael indicated that Birkoff should stand. The operative left the room. Birkoff nervously waited for Madeline to speak.

"This mission does required you to become someone else, Birkoff. I can see that you have adapted well. My suggestion would be that you keep perspective. Don't loose yourself in being David. The consequences would be severe . . . for both yourself and Michael." At Birkoff's nod of understanding, she dismissed him.

Watching the young man leave, Madeline sighed. Sometimes she thought she just knew people too well.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hours later, Birkoff found himself fighting to regain the tangle threads of consciousness. His brain was humbled beneath a thick cloud of the ether with which he'd been knocked out. He tried to forced his mind completely awake but found he had to ease through the process until the effects allowed him to revive. His sense of helplessness and concern for Michael only lengthening the time required.

The meet had been successful, with one small glitch. The interview was actually with Ivanoff's confidante, Misha Sevitch. Michael and Birkoff were introduced, questioned and then tested by running sims and by hacking into certain programs without being traced.

Birkoff followed Michael's few commands. He stayed close and did his job well. After the series of tasks Misha requested were completed, they were told a video conference with Ivanoff was next. As they waited for the equipment to be set up, Michael turned to Birkoff. He lifted his hands to Birkoff's waist. Softly murmuring "David," Michael kissed Birkoff on the right side of his neck before drawing back to watch the others at work.

Birkoff knew the closeness was all a display for Misha but he couldn't deny the comfort and pride this contact awarded him. He'd handled everything well to this point but waiting for Ivanoff's perusal was nerve-racking.

Once connected, Michael moved over to Misha to wait for the introduction to be made. Birkoff followed at Michael's back, slightly behind and to the side. Ivanoff's gruff voice flowed into the room. He was as analytic and precise in his questioning as Madeline had told them he would be. Michael handled the responses efficiently . . . not being thrown by abrupt changes of topic or rudeness of address. Several minutes passed before Birkoff's moment of introduction came.

The change in Ivanoff's manner was abrupt and extreme upon seeing Birkoff. The young man quickly spoke his name and qualifications in the hope that Ivanoff's response would be tempered by the realization that he was not actually looking at Armand. His next sentence was cut short as Ivanoff ordered Misha to end the session and to bring both men back with him. Misha's protests were ignored as Ivanoff shutdown the video feed from his end of the connection.

They were hooded and escorted into a waiting van. Michael's attempt to ask where they were going was ignored. They were allowed to stay together. Birkoff was glad because having Michael close helped him to focus on not panicking. Retaining the veil. Trying to fight his own sense of nervous tension proved harder as the time inched by. His active mind swirled around possible outcomes of their mission, of this journey and of the moments they'd shared to reach this point. Birkoff could feel the heat of Michael's body next to his and the weight of his Dom's hand as it occasionally brushed against his side.. He knew he was still with him as the van finally came to a stop. One minute there was silence and then the next, the rush of chaos. The men grabbed him, shoving the ether cloth against his mask. He struggled briefly before the world went from hooded darkness into the oblique nothingness of the unconscious.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When next he opened his eyes, Birkoff faced the warm glow of an evening fire. He was on a bed, one of those huge canopy numbers that take up most of the room. Madeline's description of Ivanoff's stronghold as a castle had been perfect he noticed as he slowly moved his head to take in his surroundings. Large room with high ceiling, made more menacing by the lack of light. The only source of illumination was the fire and a couple of lamps placed in the corners of the room. Tapestries covered the wall opposite the bedside. As his gaze traveled further to his right, he suddenly froze in shock. Seated in an imposingly high-backed carved chair was none other than their host, Sergei Ivanoff.

oh shit...

He laid there desperately trying to think of what to say or do . . . Hell, where was Michael?

Ivanoff never moved. He just remained stationary as a statue while his whole demeanor radiated barely suppressed energy. He was on the brink of exploding, by the looks. Birkoff finally decided waiting for Ivanoff's reaction to his presence would only draw out his own sense of anxiety . . . so he broke the fragility of silence.

Mentally shaking, he braved to say, "I'm not him."

Ivanoff's reaction if seen in slow motion would have resembled the sudden leap of a jungle cat fiercely bent on the kill. As it was, Birkoff found himself rushed . . . his legs yanked down towards the foot of the bed with Ivanoff pressing fully over him. Unable to move, he could only watch in fear as the thunderous expression on Ivanoff's face approached into within a hair's-breath of his own.

When at last the larger man spoke, his tone held the menace of death. "What do you know about him? Who are you?"

Birkoff decided quickly to respond as if the answer was practical and already understood. "What is all this? You know who I am . . . who Michael is as well. You did the background checks on us, of that I am sure. As for the other, you can't expect to hire a hacker without having been researched in advance. What kind of expert would I be if I didn't know about my perspective employer?" The time ticked by at a maddening pace as Ivanoff continued to stare down at him. Finally Birkoff added, "No relation to him that I know of . . .no blood between us. Really, you know that. You knew what I looked like before we came to the meet. This all can't be a surprise. You know my history. We needed to know yours. Simple as that." He felt like he was on the brink of babbling, so finally he stopped talking.

Silence followed his words . . . looming as an echo of Ivanoff's physical presence over his body. Finding the courage to meet the man's gaze, Birkoff asked in a small voice, "Where is Michael?"

No answer was given at first. Ivanoff seemed momentarily satisfied to play the waiting game with the mouse he had cornered. Birkoff tried to remain still as Ivanoff stared at him, those eyes moving over the younger man's every feature as though gauging him against the past memory of another. The appraisal finally fell past the line of Birkoff's face coming to a stop at his throat.

Birkoff knew the importance of this moment…the moment when Ivanoff first saw the mark of Michael's ownership upon his person. Around his neck was a collar, one that had been presented to him by Michael before they had left Section One. The collar had been custom made at great expense for him to wear. It consisted of three lengths of leather on either side, each separated by small filigreed sliver links . . . ending with a light weight silver buckle at the base of his neck. At his throat, the black leather lengths were joined by a silver medallion engraved elegantly with the combined letters "M" and "D" in flowing script. The collar was a beautiful piece that had taken Birkoff's breath away when Michael had clasped it around his throat. Of course the butterfly kisses that followed Michael's words, "Let's go, David," only served to strengthen the memory.

Ivanoff drew back from him at the sight. Birkoff wondered if it was just a subconscious deference to another Dom's mark or if he'd decided to just take a different tack of interrogation.

"David Fiennes, partner and apparent property of Michael DePaul." Pausing to turn towards the fire, Ivanoff continued. "He is in the next room, still unconscious. Required more to knock him out." Moving to the door at a stomp, he left the room with an order. "Revive him quickly. You are expected at dinner in two hours. An escort will be here to bring you both down . . . walking or being dragged." The last words were accompanied by the slamming of the heavy wood door and the sound of an electronic lock being activated.

Once alone, Birkoff managed to get on his feet . . . grabbing the bedpost to fight off the wave of dizziness that followed. Pushing away firmly he slowly walked across the room to the other main door. It was unlocked. Opening it, Birkoff saw that it was adjacent to a large bathroom. A matching door was opened across the way. He entered the bedroom to find that it was brightly lit by several lamps and a fireplace identical to the other. The bed was enclosed in a canopy of curtains left untied on all but one side, revealing Michael held within its cocoon of warmth.

Climbing on, he moved to shake the operative awake. No response but an unconscious groan at being so mishandled. Michael's breathing remained strong as he continued to languish in a drugged haze.


"Michael. Sir...wake up. Please wake up." Birkoff was thankful he remember himself enough to address Michael respectfully even in private. The walls had ears he was sure, and by the look of the red light shining down from the canopy's top corner . . . the bed had eyes as well. Two hours. Enough time to see if Michael would awake in a few minutes before Birkoff might have to try more drastic measures. Seeing the man at rest was intriguingly intimate. The brush of his eyelashes against his cheek, the slow rise and fall of his chest and the utter relaxed sprawl of his position all served to feed Birkoff's hungry eyes. He reached out to take Michael's hand in his. Tracing over the long line of the fingers, he came to the ring that circled Michael's left index finger. Gently tracing over the engraved initials that matched the ones on his collar, Birkoff remembered back to the moment his Dom . . . David's Dom . . . had given him the ring to place upon the hand he now held. The gesture had been a physical way of assuming the roles they were assigned . . . the ring and the collar being clear markers as to which persona was enforce. He didn't know what could have been more simple . . . or more complex. He was 'David.' He was Birkoff. And they both wanted Michael . . . his touch, taste, cock . . . and best/worst of all his love.

I'm in a heaven of hell.

Birkoff knew he was infatuated. He had a tendency to fall too quickly into such a state with the few people that had shown him untold affection. Stupid. Unlike the other times though, he was in such a state with his eyes wide open and his course clear. The man beside him loved Nikita. Michael's touching him, possessing him was all part of the job and when the assignment came to its conclusion, would all cease. No lasting ties to interfere with their future working relationship. He knew as well that his own emotions could and would be suppressed. In the end their continued survival was all that mattered, both here and in the future. Birkoff had always valued the expanse of his mind's capacity for retention of knowledge. He now understood that within its' chambers, there would always be a place where he felt this man . . . and could continue to love him without fear of reprisal. Until the end, he would cherish and stock hold every moment for each may be their last.

Michael moved restlessly in his sleep. Almost ready to awaken. They hadn't much time left. Throwing his doubts aside, Birkoff decided that if they did only have so much time together that he'd better make the most of such a gift. He moved to straddle Michael's hips . . . feeling it as they moved up against him when Michael shifted in unconscious rhythm. Birkoff slid down his body, fully maintaining contact as he came to rest laid out on his stomach between the spread of Michael's thighs. He rested his cheek against the warmth of his lover's groin, feeling the flesh beginning to wake beneath the leather of the pants. Birkoff turned to hide his slight smile as he thought about how he'd now forever associate black leather, silver and Michael together in his heart. The heat of his breath caused the flesh below to harden until the bulge was obvious along the zipper. Never taking his eyes off Michael's still face, the young man reached forward and opened the pants to retrieve his prize.

Each time he held Michael's hardened cock, the luxury seemed more wondrous than the time before. The smooth skin felt like silk over steel and the heat that it generated into his own skin was like the fire of the sun warming his cold spirit. His touch had caused this. Oh . . . Michael. Keeping his eyes open to look for signs that Michael might reach consciousness, Birkoff moved to taste him once more. The sense of power washed over him, through his veins and over the slick fire of his tongue. His lover's drugged sleep lent him the unabashed freedom of mood and motion that allowed Michael's body to rush towards completion under Birkoff's rapid rhythm. Birkoff loved the sense of give and take he earned from this . . . a sub's service in which he reveled. The jerk of the shaft against the roof of his mouth followed by the sound of a harshly drawn breath caused him to raise his gaze back to the face from which they'd fallen.

Michael was awake. Awake and disoriented enough that upon realizing what was happening and with whom, Birkoff had to quickly move up his body to silence the surprised, "Bir..uhmm," that threatened to escape. Kissing him strongly, Birkoff intentionally moaned into his mouth. "Sir. Oh, sir. I'm so glad you're awake. Let me . . . please let me finish, sir."

Hearing the words helped Michael regain his senses quickly. Feeling a warm hand stroke him towards the completion that was impending, he jerked back from their kisses long enough to give command. "David. Finish it . . . now." He arched into his sub's touch as he gently pressed Birkoff's head back to his cock. Michael sensed that this whole display wasn't totally being played out just between them. Birkoff had initiated this for Ivanoff's benefit. Maintaining enough control to find and see the small flash of a camera's red light above them confirmed the thought.

Birkoff took him back into his mouth, quickening the pace as he felt Michael card a hand over the soft brush of his short hair. The hand caressed down his neck, coming to stop at his collar. And then even the sounds of his passion and Michael's couldn't drown out the slight clink of his Dom's ring hitting against the buckle of his collar. That small infinitesimal sound echoed over all the rest until it was broken by the rasp of Michael's climatic cry, "David!"

After a moment Michael tugged Birkoff up to gift him with a kiss. Pulling back, the younger man said, "Hmm. Thank you, sir."

The operative smiled as he said, "We should have taped that one," hinting to Birkoff that he'd noticed the video surveillance.

Birkoff rolled his eyes as he replied, "Maybe next time, sir."

"Tell me what's happened, luv." Michael embraced his sub as he listened to the exchange that had taken place between Ivanoff and his 'David.' Considering that Birkoff had had to face the man alone, he thought it sounded as if things had gone well. So far . . . that is. "We need to prepare for dinner. Dress me." David rose slowly, obviously sporting a hard-on that had yet to be relieved. He fastened his Dom's clothing and helped him rise from the bed. Michael commanded that he stand still, whereby the Dom removed Birkoff's sweater . . . leaving him dressed in the leather pants they'd picked out at Section, alone with a long sleeved black mesh shirt that contrasted perfectly against his pale skin. When his partner moved to replace his glasses, Michael took them away. "Tonight I want to feel your eyes on me."

Birkoff smiled softly. "Yes, sir."

Hearing a the locked entrance door being opened, Michael leaned in to kiss him as he murmured, "Courage." Raising his head, they both turned to see Misha in the room.

"Ivanoff wants you both at dinner. Follow me." At those words, they left to confront the uncertainty of circumstance.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Following at Michael's back, Birkoff kept his mind on mapping out the path they took to dinner. Closed doors. That was the main image he retained as they moved . . . several hallways of identical closed doors with no point of reference to maintain except memorizing the total number with each turn to the left or right. By the time they'd finally arrived, he had gained a head full of numbers and a concentration headache.

At least I managed not to bump into my Dom while walking with eyes down.

They didn't know what to expect for dinner. Was it to be a room full of Ivanoff's people or more of a one-on-one interrogation? Birkoff just hoped he and Michael weren't on the menu . . .

Instead, they found themselves entering into a different atmosphere all together. It was a media room. The entire back wall was covered with video monitors from floor to ceiling . . . dozens and dozens of them all featuring the various rooms of the house. A bank of leather sofas where arranged in a semi-circle as if before a large fire with the stone floor covered in plush rugs. A dinner setting for three had been placed on the large wooden table in front of the center sofa.

Michael and Birkoff walked towards the sofas. There was no sign of Ivanoff. The three place settings were placed two together on one side of the table and one alone on the other side of the table. Moving to stand on their apparent side of the table, Michael indicated with a nod that "David" was to stand down from his back and more towards his side. Placing his arm around Birkoff's waist, Michael caressed his hip as he scanned the room for entrances. Hearing a gasp from his sub, the operative quickly turned to see the monitors each begin to change to the same scene. The switched feed ran from one screen to the next like in a domino effect that followed the outside borders, moving inward until the central and largest monitor held the image as well. The video feed was not live. Instead every square held the image of Birkoff caressing Michael's ring while he slept. The image of deep adoration was not lost on Michael. He felt Birkoff's entire body become infused with tension, so he continued his soothing touch alone the younger man's side.

As quickly as the image had appeared, it was simultaneously replaced on all monitors by the moving image of David's wake up call for his Dom. The camera had moved back to take in the whole image of their passion. Michael watched the devotion that Birkoff had paid to him, feeling his own blood heat behind his mask of neutrality. His listened to the man beside him as his breathing quickened at the view. Inside he had to admit that the situation was incredibly arousing. He'd told Birkoff that seeing one's self during sex only served to heighten the experience. Still, foremost in his mind was the question of when would Ivanoff appear after having presented himself with such an entrance.

At the thought, the room was inundated with sound. Stereo speakers placed around the room flooded their senses with the sound of Michael's climactic cry, "David!" The operative heard his sub whisper a quiet, "Oh shit," as he swayed slightly back against his Dom's body. Michael moved to fully embrace him from behind, keeping on hand on his hip and the other over Birkoff's softened hair. The peak on screen was suddenly paused to capture the kiss that had followed. All sound ceased. Until . . .

"Michael DePaul and David Fiennes." Their fixed gazes were quickly jarred from the screens to find that not only had Ivanoff entered the room, but that he was in fact seated on the sofa opposite their position.

How'd he get there with us . . .

Michael didn't say anything in acknowledgment. Instead, he gave 'David' the command for first position. Birkoff dropped down gracefully beside his Dom's place setting, arms back and head down. Seating himself, Michael continued to wait in silence knowing that it was better to wait for Ivanoff to speak than to volunteer information in advance.

Ivanoff delayed speaking as he studied them both. Michael could see the man's eyes travel the length of Birkoff's body, taking in the obedience and submission that shown forth in the sub's attention to his Dom's presence and word.

"This one seems well trained to heel. And yet earlier, I saw a few sparks of defiance from him. His tone was not as it should have been." Ivanoff's word weighed heavily in the air between them.

Michael responded, "David is his own man to everyone except myself. He's been trained to follow my commands. He submits only to my will, my voice and my touch. In all else, he is equal in the world."

He watched as Ivanoff took in the implied hands-off aspect of his words. The man finally gave a small nod before continuing.

"From what I've seen of your work, it would make sense for him to retain a level of self assurance that such an understanding would allow a sub. Still . . . any level of permitted freedom of will lends itself to planting seeds of dissension. I do not allow dissension here. My word is law."

Michael said in agreement, "That was understood before we decided to contact you. We do our jobs well. You know that or else we'd never have gotten this far. We can both provide you with the skills you require and will strive to accomplish all tasks that you put before us. But understand this . . . David is mine. Mine alone."

Ivanoff gave a small menacing laugh in response. Taking the remote from his side, he clicked a button and the wall display returned to its original surveillance mode with each screen showing live feed of a different room. Some rooms were empty. Some showed individuals doing mundane tasks. One or two showed couples engaged in various sexual activities. Their host seemed completely oblivious to the oddity of watching people in their most intimate moments as he said, "Eat. Tomorrow there will be more to discuss."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For Birkoff, dinner seemed to last an eternity. Once he'd been given permission to eat by Michael, they had both finished their meal in silence. The only break in the tension was Ivanoff's sporadic comments regarding the scenes on the monitors. He'd suddenly point out one room or another, telling them the name of the occupant(s), followed by comments that ranged from job performance critiques to sexual limitations of each couple that may have claimed his momentary interest. Birkoff couldn't get over having this wide an array of visual stimuli at one's beck and call. Sure in Section he was regularly called upon to monitor dangerous or intimate scenes between operatives and their marks, but in such cases it was with a measure of circumspection because each assignment had it's own focus . . . each operative performing under the parameters of the profile. This blatant across-the-board voyeurism was just what Madeline had warned them about.

Besides . . . he still couldn't get the image of Michael and himself blazoned from floor to ceiling, monitor to monitor out of his head. It had obviously been a trick to make them uneasy . . . to test their reaction. Overall, he was pleased with his own performance on this mission. Now if he could just maintain the illusion.

Once the meal was finished, Ivanoff had dismissed them. They were told that they were under restricted access. The house was off limits unless they were being personally escorted by either Ivanoff or Misha. So until tomorrow, they were left to themselves in their rooms.

They stayed silent as they reentered the bedroom. Michael drifted over to the bathroom, leaving a quiet Birkoff standing still next to the locked doorway. The fire had been stoked for the night so the room was nicely warm. The curtains on the bed had been released on every side except one. Hell . . . even the bed had been remade and turned down. Birkoff blushed slightly to think what had caused it to be disheveled to begin with. It wasn't the act that caused his skin to heat in embarrassment, just the memory of seeing it put up for public display. Still, the heat of his skin had only a little to do with that and more to do with Michael. He could still taste the arousal he'd had to fight all evening, having been given no release earlier.

After Michael returned, he made his own escape to the bathroom. Upon reentering the bedroom, he found his Dom lounging back on a leather chaise lounge before the fire.

Spreading his leather-clad legs apart, Michael summoned him. "David, come to me."

Catching his breath, Birkoff moved to his Dom's side. Not knowing exactly what Michael wanted him to do, he knelt in position on the lounge between the man's thighs. Feeling his chin lifted, he met his lover's gaze. The heat that shown from Michael's eyes surprised him in its openness. Until he remembered the cameras . . .

Michael reversed their leg positions, moving Birkoff to straddle his lap. He pulled the young man to his body, feeling the heat of his lover's breath as Birkoff gasped when Michael moved to clasp his ass possessively. Brushing their lips together in a tease, Michael asked, "We've some unfinished business, yes?"

Birkoff moaned as his Dom quickly licked his bottom lip as he was opening his mouth to answer. "If sir wishes . . ." He felt it as his arms were freed from their sub position at his back. Michael brought them around to the fastenings of Birkoff's pants. He could feel the hard outline of his own cock as he moved to open the them. Once he'd freed himself, Michael pushed the leather down to his knees . . . effectively curtailing the movement of Birkoff's legs.

"You may come later . . . but only if you manage not to move now. One thrust and it stops. Understood?"

Physically shivering at the thought of how much concentration it would take to withstand Michael's skill, Birkoff answered breathlessly. "Yes, sir."

His Dom placed his mouth against the cock before him, tracing the length with the brush of his lips. He ghosted across the hot flesh as he moved from tip to base and back again. Looking up, the operative watched as Birkoff bit at his bottom lip in an attempt to fight against the sensation he'd been given. So responsive to even the barest touch. Deciding to make his lover quickly lose the battle so they both could more quickly reach the ultimate tumult of their war, Michael opened his mouth and took Birkoff inside. He hastened the man before him with a harsh rhythm designed to break his control. Listening to the whimpers that escaped as he fucked his own mouth on the staff he cherished within . . . Teasing his lover with the maddening friction of his fingers against his tight entrance . . . All these weapons served him well as Birkoff cried out, caught between the desire to move forward into Michael heat and back onto his hand. The young man jerked violently as he fell forward against his Dom's shoulder, clutching at his shoulders in an attempt not to fall off the chaise . . . caught and suspended at the brink of the abyss and unable to rush on into the wake of chaos.

Feeling the tension mounting throughout the body in his arms and against his chest, Michael knew it was time to finish them both. "David. You've disobeyed me. Your pleasure is subject now to what?"

Trying to think around the fire storm in his head, Birkoff whispered harshly. "My pleasure is subject to your will, your desire and your pleasure, sir. Always."

"Then do it..."

Not knowing exactly what 'it' was, Birkoff decided to improvise. He'd obviously been deliberately made to fail his Dom's command so that must mean that this second part of the scene was his 'grovel-beg-and-plead' part of the game. He needed to win his Dom's favor back by giving him pleasure. At the thought, he reached back to retrieve the necessities. Taking a condom and lube from the pants that were pooled around his knees, he placed them on the slope of Michael's lap . . . making his intentions clear. Moving aside, Birkoff leaned over to remove first his boots and then his pants. Sliding down to kneel at Michael's side, he crossed his hands and removed his shirt. Naked before the his lover's eyes . . . of all things save his collar, he lowered his head to the man's groin. Rubbing his cheek against the trapped ridge of the hardened flesh below, he slowly moved forward. His eyes never leaving Michael's gaze, Birkoff licked the line of the pants' zipper from bottom to waist.

Michael's jaw clenched tightly at the view his sub presented. The kitten licks continued until he commanded, "Enough." The tenor of his words made taunt by the strain of his self control. Reaching down he swiftly unfastened the waist band, indicating with a slight tug at Birkoff's collar that the young man was to proceed.

With the taste of leather still on his tongue, Birkoff returned to his kneeling position between Michael's out-stretched thighs. He placed the condom and lube beside the operative's hip. Slowly bringing down the zipper, he let his fingers run over the length of the cock inside before pulling the material back and down . . . coming to rest only after his lover's cock and balls were completely free. The pants remained at mid-thigh as he moved in to press his body against Michael's own. He laid himself against the full expanse of the chest before him, feeling the sweet and torturous friction of his Dom's clothing against his own skin. Hugging Michael's shoulders for balance, he moved to straddle the man's waist . . . holding himself above the cock he longed to have again. With his face no more than a hair's breath from his lover's, Birkoff reached down and back to prepare himself for Michael's length.

Seeing Birkoff working the lube into his own body, Michael rewarded him with the softest of kisses. The operative was not mildly astonished at the man's wantonness in such a display. It would be hard to hold this image up against the reality of Birkoff's insulated behavior at Section. Now it seemed as if there were two different beings inside the slender frame... The word 'Gemini' echoed through his brain before the tear of a wrapper brought him fully back to the scene.

Birkoff gracefully covered Michael's cock with the condom, meeting his gaze as he proceeded to stroke more of the lube along his length. Once prepared, he asked his Dom, "Sir. May I?" At the man's gruff-voiced accent, he raised his body up and back into position. The feeling of Michael's heat and the leather against his ass was making him dizzy with need. He wanted this so badly. Knowing how his lover had asked him to voice his pleasure in the past, Birkoff moaned loudly as he felt the first moment of penetration. He slowly lowered himself into place . . . reveling at the sensations this new position brought to him.

Michael remained perfectly still, allowing his sub to adjust to the angle of his entrance. He watched the play of pleasure as it swept across Birkoff's face, heard the cry as the younger man finally sheathed the entire length within his body. Fully seated upon him, Birkoff was truly the image of desire. His body was infused with the flush of arousal, his skin shown with the exertion of his accomplished goal and his voice gasped forth in need for Michael to fuck him within an inch of his existence. Taking hold of his lover's hands in his own, Michael thrust upwards into bliss . . . guiding his lover in the rhythm of riding his Dom's cock. Birkoff didn't just moved up and down. His whole body radiated in the joy their contact gave him, head tossing as he circled and rose . . . circled and fell . . . never breaking the stride or the lock of Michael's eyes.

The pressure in his balls grew to a painful ache. He was so close and yet had to fight against the rush of his blood because he wasn't 'allowed' to come until given permission. He was fucking himself on his Dom, presenting his body as the vessel for the other man's pleasure. His own desire was secondary. But he was still so close . . .

"Sir. Aww...." His gasps grew louder, his cries and moans more incensed. Michael suddenly released his hands, grabbing hold of his hips . . . forcing him downward to meet the immutable force of his thrusts. He was stretched so fully, pleasure firing through his mind and body as Michael's cock repeatedly brushed against his prostate . . . and still he had to fight against the maelstrom of it all. Please . . . oh fuck. Please!!!

Feeling the desperate hitch in his lover's rhythm, Birkoff pleaded aloud. "Michael!!! Oh sir. You feel so good. Please. Please, sir. Let me feel it with you . . ." He was babbling like an maniac but finally it seemed to break through his Dom's control.

"David." Michael suddenly surged up and jerked his own shirt over his head, leaving his bare chest fully exposed. Panting with effort, he crushed Birkoff's upper body to his own. Gripping the slender hips above his own, Michael drove himself fiercely into Birkoff . . . while pressing down on the younger man's torso so that the hardened cock trapped between them was caught up in the friction of their movements. Groaning aloud, "Come. Give me everything," he pressed his face against Birkoff's throat. Feeling the collar brush against his cheek, the tightening grip of flesh that surrounded him and the harsh cry of the man in his arms as Birkoff came between them was his undoing. Jerking upwards, he held onto Birkoff as his body spasmed in completion.

In the minutes that followed, Michael continued to hold him tightly. All was silence except for the slowing of harsh breaths. Birkoff remained still . . . clinging to Michael as though to a lifeline. He didn't want to end the embrace. It was as if he feared that by bringing their passion completely to an end . . . he would now shatter like so much glass. No. No. Oh lord . . . no.

Michael wasn't want to let him go either, but knew that he must. Pressing a hand to Birkoff's lower back, he eased from the his body. The loss of their connection caused a surprising reaction in his lover. The quiet of the night was suddenly broken by a sob torn roughly from Birkoff's soul. Feeling the desperation in his lover's trembling body, Michael soothed him with caressing hands along his back and legs. "Shh. David, shh. It's okay." The words failed to ease the pain he heard from his lover. Guiding Birkoff's head to face him, he saw that tears stained the paleness of his cheeks. The young man's eyes were closed tightly against the embarrassment his outburst caused him. In a firmer tone Michael spoke, "David. Open your eyes." After having been obeyed, he continued with two words. "Tell me."

Birkoff opened his mouth and at his confession all time seemed to stop. "I love you." The tears continued to fall as he dared to keep his gaze on Michael's face. The truth said, he knew he could not take it back. Would not have if he could.

Michael drew him close again, brushing kisses over his swollen mouth. Whispering, "Thank you," against the softness of Birkoff's lips, he hugged him close. The young man's admission was not part of the profile he knew. Having Birkoff love him was not mutually conductive for their return to Section, but feeling the warmth of this man's admission now surprisingly made him not care about what the future would hold. For the moment, them being like this was the only truth he wanted to know.

Lifting them both from the lounge, Michael lead Birkoff to the bath. His lover's steps were shaky but steadfast. Taking him into the shower, the operative quickly cleaned them before having his sub follow him back to the bedroom. Drawing Birkoff down to lay with him under the warmth of the bed covers, Michael kissed him with all the gentle passion he could reward to the man who loved him.

Birkoff met Michael's string of kisses, each acting as a temporary balm to his shaken spirit. Taking long moments to gaze into each other's eyes, he accepted this small gift of compassion. Held firmly against his lover's chest, Birkoff drifted asleep to the sound of Michael's beating heart. All thoughts as to their continuing mission left to the coming dawn.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

oh my god...

Birkoff quickly raised his head to gain Michael's attention. The operative was standing across the room discussing strategy with Ivanoff, therefore he missed the I've-got-to-talk-with-you-now stare that was directed his way. Reasoning that telling Michael later would be safer for them both, Birkoff returned his attention to the screen before him.

Seven days . . . It had taken seven days to find this.

Seven days since they'd been given their initial orders. It had been simple at first, just hacking into various subsystems and downloading what had seemed like random data. Birkoff had felt they were just being tested again, but with each successive day the new intel gathered had started to piggy-back upon the old forming a more decisive pattern . . . making Ivanoff's ultimate goal clearer. And now - an epiphany.

Ivanoff wasn't working for Red Cell. He was hacking them. Defection and betrayal from the inside out.

He was stockpiling information sensitive enough that every agency in the world, terrorist or anti-terrorist, would agree to any price he set without argument. Capturing Ivanoff would be the biggest coup Section One had ever achieved. The complication was . . . who was he planning to sellout too?


Snapping his head towards the aggravated tone of his Dom's voice, Birkoff saw that he'd been to lost in thought to notice that he'd been addressed. Uh oh . . . Shit. It was audience time.

They'd gotten their first taste of "audience time" the second night. They'd answered question upon question, been stared at, watched and completely scrutinized all day. Finally Ivanoff's drill sergeant routine had run out of steam. His personality tended to change rapidly. One minute he seemed cold and calculating, then he'd switch to paranoid and dangerous. The emotions flashed across his face in a kaleidoscope of different colors. All Birkoff knew to do was act as if everything was normal and fine . . . that and stay very close to Michael's side. He knew that Ivanoff focused most of his attention on the warped and yet familiar mirror image of Armand that Birkoff represented. The man spoke to Michael, argued with him and still he kept his eyes directed at Birkoff. Abruptly he stopped talking and command them to follow him to "audience."

Audience turned out to be Ivanoff's twisted version of show and tell . . . a personal form of public confession with Ivanoff playing the priest. His people crowded around him like they were starving for his attention and yet all looked reluctant to have his gaze fall upon them. When one was chosen, he or she stood before the room to answer for whatever sin or misdeed that Ivanoff had witnessed them committing on the wall of monitors. They were allowed the answer for their supposed indiscretion . . . most admitting to it and asking for punishment. Birkoff couldn't believe how odd this whole ritual was to watch. The punishments were as varied as the crimes. All he could think of was Madeline's reference to Ivanoff's tendency to test people again and again. Rungs on a ladder . . .

Ivanoff never meeked out the sentences, just watched as they were carried out by others. Punishment involved varying degrees of humiliation, subjugation and even sexual performance displays. The displays tended to turn into orgies, but Michael kept them both off to the side . . . standing as spectators to the play rather than participants. The same as Ivanoff. Watching only . . . until the fifth night when it was announced to the room that they would be standing before the audience soon.

Their sin was not given . . .

Their punishment was to be meeked out and enforced two nights following. Meaning tonight.

Each minute between then and now had been one of dread mixed with confusion. They had to continue performing their hacks by day and playing to their assigned roles as lovers by night. Not that the latter was any kind of a hardship for Birkoff or indeed for Michael. The passion, tenderness, affection and love that Birkoff found in these hours were the most cherished moments in his life.

He continued to find it ironic that he'd found so much of himself while living a lie under the ever present camera's eye.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Michael indicated that Birkoff should follow him. Walking behind Ivanoff, they entered the audience hall. Told to stand before the room, they awaited Ivanoff's word.

His voice held the edge of one not expecting to be crossed. "I find that your association does not hold the sign of permanence that you both profess."

In a tone that held no defensiveness Michael replied, "We hold the signs of our devotion both in our hearts and on our bodies." Peripherally he saw Birkoff lift a hand to his collar.

Ivanoff's answer was thick with contempt. "Trinkets that may be discarded at will. They are but the show of love's perfection."

Michael knew that to lose this debate would be to put Birkoff from his protection, virtually putting him on open market for Ivanoff's choosing. "We bare the signets of our commitment, freely given and accepted. There is no life for either without the other."

There was a tense silence following his words and then Ivanoff spoke once more. "Pretty words indeed. Well felt by the speaker . . . but in such a declared bond the other must also give his answer. David Fiennes, what say you to my judgment?"

"I love him. Both in body and spirit. In all things I am his. Forever." The emotion behind Birkoff's words gripped at Michael's own heart. He closed his eyes briefly against the sweet pain he felt at hearing the truth in his lover's voice. Never had he garnered such a sense of protectiveness for anyone except Simone, Adam and Nikita.

Ivanoff smiled menacingly as he proclaimed their sentence, "Forever it will be. A sign marked in permanence shall be administered." Rising from his seat, the man walked to stand before them. Two men entered the room with a leather covered table, placing it in the center of the circle of Ivanoff's people. "Method . . . body art." At these words, a woman stood up from the group to sit beside the table as the implements were placed at her side. "Now choose and reveal the canvas."

Ivanoff's command brought the still framed image of Armand lying in Ivanoff's arms into Birkoff's head. In that instant he knew what he had to do . . .

With the confidence of one who knows what he wants most in life, Birkoff made the decision. He stepped around to face Michael. Taking his Dom's hand in his, he traced the ring that held 'their' signet initials. Looking into the older man's eyes, he saw that Michael knew that he had made his choice and that he would not be denied his desire. He walked with Michael by his side to the table. Holding his lover's gaze, Birkoff removed his clothing. First the shoes, then the shirt and finally the leather pants . . . until he stood nude but for his collar. He didn't see the people that surrounded them. He didn't feel the lecherous thunder of Ivanoff's gaze. He only saw and felt the affection and pride that shown on Michael's face. Birkoff melted into the brush of his lover's kiss and the glide of his ringed hand over the curve of his hip. That spot . . . The one that Michael had touched so often to comfort, to tease and to possess . . . was the one he chose.

Keeping Michael's hand on his hip, Birkoff turned to the woman. He whispered two words of instruction. "This," indicating the initials on the collar and ring . . . and "here," as he stroked the back of Michael's fingers along his hip. At her nod, he laid down across the table on his side.

Michael knelt down beside the table. He murmured a pleased sound as Birkoff eagerly responded to his kiss. The young man tasted so sweet in that moment. He looked beautiful in the slip of light that flowed from the ceiling above their heads. He extended his hand to his sub so that his ring could be removed for the artist's inspection. Seeing Birkoff hand it over to her, he stroked the freed fingers over the pale firm flesh of his lover's thighs. While he continued the soothing caress, the woman completed the template sketch and returned the ring to Birkoff. His sub placed the ring in his mouth before guiding Michael's hand closer. He slid the symbol back into place as he took his lover's finger into his mouth, a teasing light in his eyes. Michael couldn't help but find it a bit endearing that Birkoff seemed happy at such a moment. Stroking the man's cheek, Michael held his eyes as Birkoff winced with the first taste of the needle's sting.

Each touch of the needle sent fire through his side, but Birkoff tried to block out the sensation by focusing on the tenderness and care with which Michael now touched him. He wanted to please his lover by braving this rite of passage. Birkoff knew that this moment meant far more to him than to Michael, still . . . the man before him had a look of understanding in his eyes. Acceptance shown forth as well. Michael it seemed knew of his desire to be marked by this experience . . . to wear the signet as both a badge of courage and a gift of permanence. The only thing that he would have to hold when this was at an end.

Lost as he was in the moment, Birkoff did not see the other members of the group being dismissed by Ivanoff. Michael kept touching his lover, helping to keep him within the self-induced zone through which he'd chosen to endure the needle's progress. Finally, he saw that they were alone except for Ivanoff and the woman.

The minutes continued to bleed together in the quietness of the room and the hum of the machine. When at last the deed was complete, the woman placed a bandage over the mark and rose from her place. She whispered the necessary instructions for the tattoo's care into Michael's ear. Before the artist could exit, Birkoff placed a hand on her arm. He whispered, "Thank you." With a nod, she was gone.

Helping Birkoff to rise, Michael pulled him close . . . silently rocking his lover as Birkoff's slim frame began to shake slightly. The warmth of their embrace was broken only when Ivanoff spoke, "Your bond is now well served. And well shown."

Michael replied steely, "As was yours." He watched as anger and then sadness crossed Ivanoff's face. The effects of Armand's loss was still quite evident.

Answering with a candor that was rare to his nature, Ivanoff answered. "Put frankly . . . yes. Accepting my mark was the greatest gift Armand ever gave me." Walking towards them both, he stopped at their sides. "A love as I've seen between you both is very rare. It should be cherished . . . for fate is a cruel mistress." Abruptly regaining his gruff manner, Ivanoff turned to leave. "Tomorrow you will await me in your rooms. I've a task for you both that will require my direct supervision."

Once alone, Birkoff physically sagged against Michael's body. His Dom easily bore his weight while Birkoff fought to control his emotions. There was so much that he needed to tell Michael . . . the news about Ivanoff's Red Cell hacks being the most important, but he couldn't even stand under the burden of need and desire he now felt.

"Michael," he breathed against his lover's chest. His next words were cut off by the crush of Michael's kiss. The touch was soft but so insistent that Birkoff submitted to his Dom's desire for silence.

Their kiss was interrupted by Misha's return to the audience room. He stood by as Michael carefully pulled Birkoff's clothes back on before their return to the prison bedroom. Leaving the leather pants open so as to cover but not harm Birkoff, Michael guided him from the room.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Locked up once again for the night, Birkoff followed Michael over to the bed. He stood obediently still as his clothes were once again removed. Birkoff wanted to see the tattoo, but Michael quietly told him to lie down. It would be awhile before the bandage could be removed. "Sir?" Birkoff hesitated and then said, "I'm . . . I'm glad for it no matter what it looks like." Looking up at his lover he whispered quietly, "You've made me glad, Michael."

Michael laid down on the bed with him. Nibbling lightly at his jawline he whispered, "And you've made me proud. Thank you for your courage to stand at my side."

Birkoff was in awe of Michael's kind words. They meant the world to him. Resting his head against his Dom's chest, Birkoff let himself drift . . . never reaching sleep, just remaining half in wakefulness as he welcomed Michael's strokes down his back. After what seemed a long while, Birkoff noticed that his lover's touch became more teasing than soothing. A hand smoothed its way down to his ass, as the fingers played along the curve between the mounds. Birkoff's breathing grew more shallow as the desire from earlier returned to him. Groaning lightly he asked, "Is it time to look?"

As answer to the query, Michael rose and allowed him to follow into the bathroom. At his Dom's command, he turned to the mirror with eyes closed.

Michael gazed at their reflection for a long moment before pulling Birkoff back against his own body. He gently eased the bandage away from the design. Ghosting his fingers over the line of the young man's body down to pass gently over the tattoo caused Birkoff to gasp loudly . . . but Michael knew that it was more from pleasure than pain because his lover pressed gladly back into his touch. Changing the direction of his caress, Michael pressed his hand firmly against the heat of Birkoff's rising cock.

Birkoff moaned, "Please sir. May I see it?"

Nibbling at the ear beneath his lips Michael replied, "It's beautiful . . . as are you." Chuckling at Birkoff's impatient sigh, he accented. "Open your eyes."

When first he saw the mark, Birkoff's mind held a false impression. It's as if through the cloud of high emotions and arousal, the tattoo looked less permanent that it was . . . like someone had drawn on his skin and it could be easily washed away. The thought was only fleeting but helped multiply the impact of full realization. Birkoff gripped Michael's hands tightly as he turned to see the entire design in the mirror. The signet letters intermeshed one above and to the side of the other, with the M curved around and into the D . . . each about two inches high so that the tattoo covered his skin, duplicating the size of Michael's palm. The black ink stood out sharply against the paleness of his skin . . . complete contrasts of light and dark. It was their entire time together made flesh. Everything that they'd done and been resting beautifully in permanence on his body, never to be taken away.

"Michael, it's both of us. Together." The awe in his voice matched the depth of emotions in his bright eyes.

For Michael, seeing the wonder in Birkoff's face was almost painful in its intensity. He wanted to grab hold of time so he could exult in the trust and love he saw before him. It was so close to the sense of having found a home in someone . . . a feeling he'd only ever known with Nikita. No. This . . . they could not last beyond the realm of this shared experience. It was a finality they both accepted which was why he felt so heartened that Birkoff welcomed the symbol that had all but been forced upon his body. Even when they were parted, they would both know and have this to share.

Wanting to encapsulate the desire, Michael took his lover to his body. The kiss he bestowed was one of fierce possession. Birkoff responded with equal fire as the embrace continued til they stood breathless and in each other's arms. Easing back despite the disappointed moan that left Birkoff's lips, Michael moved over to the large tub. He started the water flowing and told his sub to sit upon the side. "We need to take care of you, luv." Lightly bathing Birkoff's hip with a small amount of soap and water, Michael gently cleaned the area before patting it dry. Bending down, he lightly kissed the skin just to the side of the tattoo. Kissing a path to his lover's navel, he smiled as the man's stomach moved in quickly with a gasp as his Dom licked around the small opening. Rising again, Michael ignored the flesh standing proud in response to his closeness. He took a large bottle of lotion from the side table . . . the one that he'd been told by the woman would be there on their return. Heavily coating his fingers, he returned to kneel at Birkoff's side and looked up into his lover's dilated pupils. The need within them was humbling.

"We have to coat the tattoo with lotion." He laughed warmly as Birkoff released a surprised moan when his hand moved not for his hip, but for his cock instead. "Shh . . . David. In a few minutes it'll be time, but mean while I've a mind to give you a reward." Reaching in to take those parted lips for his own, Michael continued to torment the hardness in his stroking hand. It didn't take long to make Birkoff writhe against him. He continued to bring his lover off as their tongues played into each other's mouths, gliding in a rhythm that matched the motion of Michael's hand.

Pulling back to catch a stray breath, Birkoff cried aloud. "Oh shit, sir. Please . . . yeah. Michael, please!"

As Michael quickened his pace, Birkoff raised his arms to clasp his shoulders. With a suddenness that caught him off guard, his sub jerked as Michael felt the rush of warmth over his hand. Hugging him to his chest, Michael rocked Birkoff slowly before he heard the whisper breathed quietly against his ear.

"Turn the water up, now."

The seriousness of Birkoff's tone broached no arguments. Michael first ran a wash rag over Birkoff and then himself before complying. Taking his lover back into his arms, the operative waited for Birkoff to speak.

With a whisper directly into Michael's ear, Birkoff continued. "He's hacking Red Cell. The data all leads to home."

Michael took a moment to digest the news as he drew back to kiss Birkoff. He could see the worry in his sub's face as he drew him back into a clinch. "Any leads to a specific target?"

"No. It's more of a stock pile for the highest bidder. No clue as to who might have won the toss."

Michael moved to nuzzle Birkoff's ear as he said, "This supervised hack for tomorrow might tell us more. Keep an eye out." Leaning back, he pressed a hand down the length of Birkoff's torso until he reached the hip. "Now for the lotion . . . lightly at first and then we'll use more as it heals." Smiling gently he added, "And no scratching, understood?"

Grinning in return Birkoff laughed, "Yes sir."

Covering the area thinly with lotion, Michael gave one final kiss before leading Birkoff back to the bed. Allowing his sub to remove his clothes, Michael pulled him to lay on his good side before curling up long Birkoff's back.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They'd were awakened only a few hours later. It was early morning, no more than five or so. Quickly emerging from the bed, Birkoff gingerly pulled on his pants before acknowledging the loud knock on the locked door. "We're awake, already." He watched Michael stepping into his pants as the door was opened.

Instead of finding Ivanoff as he'd expected, Misha was the man who stepped over the threshold. He placed their breakfast tray on a table before giving his instructions. "He wants you both to be ready to leave in one hour."

Michael asked, "Leave?"

Birkoff watched as Misha turned without reply to removed the lid of their tray. He moved to the table's side as Misha held out the cover. Birkoff was surprised to see the man's gaze deliberately move from his own, down to the cover and then back again. It was a quick signal, one hardly noticeable if he had not been the one looking into the man's eyes. Gesturing to the food Misha said, "Eat. Ivanoff will be with you soon." With a curt nod of his head, Misha left as abruptly as he'd come.

Acting as nonchalant as he could at having discovered the slip of paper the had been placed into his hand under the lid, Birkoff moved to kneel beside the table and await his Dom's desire. The few minutes it took for Michael to be seated and begin eating were nerve wracking. He held up the lid for Michael as his Dom placed food upon it for Birkoff's breakfast. Thanking him softly, the sub was allowed sit at his lover's feet while he ate. Occasionally, Michael would stroke his head or play with the line of his neck as they sat in silence. Keeping his head down, Birkoff was able to conceal his slight of hand as he moved the paper into view. His upper body, the table cloth and Michael's caressing hand gave him ample cover to read the small missive.

Glass Curtain. Final intel transfer. One way trip. Section alerted. Be prepared.

After reading the words, Birkoff quickly found himself at a lost for appetite. As he replaced the lid upon the table, Birkoff waited for Michael to finish his meal. So many questions . . . Misha must be the originator for all of Section's knowledge on Ivanoff, so that explained the intel on Armand. But in such an environment, how would they not second guess the warning? And what did this trip entail? The best case scenario was that Section would step in, grab Ivanoff and everything would return to whatever sense of normality one would hold in Section's world. It also meant the end of Michael and his David.

When Michael bent to give him a brief kiss as had been their custom these pass days after breakfast, Birkoff clasped the hand that had curved around his neck tightly . . . pressing the paper into his partner's palm. Deepening their contact for what may be the last time, Birkoff savored the full taste of the man above him. Finally he drew away, placing his head on Michael's lap. He felt Michael lean over to nuzzle his throat and heard the slight rumple as his lover made to read the message in the crook between their heads.

Michael continued to sooth the nervous shivers he felt course through Birkoff's body. Humming softly into the young man's ear, the operative quickly tore the paper into small pieces. He kissed Birkoff's head before placing the tiny fragments into his own mouth so as to rid them of the danger of it's discovery. Rising up again in the chair, Michael continued to caress the back of Birkoff's head and neck . . . trying to convey a sense of comfort to strengthen him for the coming day.

Finally Michael brought Birkoff to his feet beside him. "Time to get dressed." Once more he stood by as his sub dressed first his Dom and then himself. Gently placing Birkoff's glasses back in place, Michael leaned in to kiss his forehead.

The moment was shattered by the beep of an unlocked and opening door. Ivanoff stomped in and with a gruff "Come," left out into the hall just as quickly as he'd arrived. With one last glance, they followed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is not a test . . . hell, this is the real thing. Stuck under a damn van while bullets whizzed past like a wimp. Oh god. Where was Michael?

They been escorted to first a helicopter, then a van without one word as to their destination. Ivanoff remained aloof and preoccupied. Hours later they arrived at an indistinct facility housing a tech lab that could have rivaled Section One's own tactical resources. The building was heavily guarded inside and out by at least ten armed soldiers. Ivanoff was covering all his bases. Once inside, Birkoff was informed that all the intel he'd gathered had been already uploaded into the system's network. Ivanoff was at standby as Birkoff followed his instructions. What he discovered was the means to hack into a key encrypted database of Red Cell's most sensitive intel. If they made the connection, the data garnered could be enough to collapse the Cell's entire organization.

"Oh shit." Birkoff's whisper sounded loudly in the stillness of the room. He was so focused on the screens before him that he'd failed to notice Ivanoff had left his position.

"Oh shit indeed, Mr. Fiennes."

Birkoff jerked around to find that Ivanoff now held Michael at gunpoint. The operative was being restrained by two larger men on either side while their host trained an automatic weapon at his head.

"Michael. He's . . ."

Ivanoff interrupted, "Enough. There will be no defiance, boy. We've only got a narrow time frame in which to finish the job. The system is designed to shutdown once a hack has been discovered. You'll have a forty-two second window in which to work. Retrieve as much information as possible in that time. If you fail to make the connection, then your Dom will die." To demonstrate his seriousness, Ivanoff had one of his men crash their gun upside Michael's head sending the man to the floor. Once he appeared to be unconscious, the two stepped back as Ivanoff circled Michael's prone figure.

Birkoff made to rush to Michael but was stopped by Ivanoff's shoving him back towards his station. "Now, boy!"

Shaking as he looked back at Michael's still form and seeing the blood matted in his hair, Birkoff questioned him. "What guarantee do I have that you won't kill us both anyway?"

Ivanoff laughed harshly. "You have none. Only the knowledge that if you ask one more question, he'll get a bullet in the knee . . . one more moment of hesitation, a bullet to shatter both elbows." Seeing the horror on Birkoff's face, he laughed again. "I've told you that fate is a cruel mistress. We must all suffer in our turn. Now work!"

The next few minutes were a blur of flying hands and focused intent. Birkoff had never felt more driven by fear. He couldn't think beyond the realm of necessity as to what he'd do once the hack was completed. He just knew that he had to succeed or all was lost. Using the passwords provided by Ivanoff, he managed to link in and start the download. The seconds started winding down as the font of intel continued to flow. At thirty seconds, Birkoff felt his pulse thundering in his head. At twenty seconds, he subconsciously held his breath. At ten seconds, he chanced a desperate look Michael's way. At five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . the world around them exploded. Literally.

One moment Birkoff was securing the intel and cutting off contact with Red Cell's system. The next moment, he saw Michael lunge upwards from the floor to crash into a distracted Ivanoff just as the doorway exploded inwards and Section Ops filled the room. Ivanoff's other men reacted instinctually against the threat, causing Birkoff to dive under the table. He decided that racing for the van would be his best chance to survive in the milieu of the fight. And so he found himself under the vehicle, trembling as he tried desperately to see what had happened to Michael.


Birkoff saw her across the room as she crouched in a corner. She was returning fire with the other mercenaries that had started invading the room at the sound of the explosion. His gladness at seeing her over-road any other emotions her presence represented for him. She loved Michael, would die to see him safe and that was enough.


He jerked in fright as the weight of a downed soldier hit the side of the van. The dead man's body slid to the floor, blocking Birkoff's view of the on-going fight. Taking a chance to grab the man's weapon, Birkoff moved towards the opposite side of the vehicle. He had to know if Michael was still alive.

The sight that greeted him as he rolled out from under the van was enough to almost stop his heart.

Michael, still stumbling from the earlier blow to the head, was fighting Ivanoff. The larger man was winning against the Section Op. He quickly had Michael down with a knife clutched between them, fighting to drive the instrument of death deep within the operative's chest. Seeing the man he loved so close to death, Birkoff reacted without thought. Raising the weapon, he aimed for Ivanoff as the man forced the knife's tip to within a fraction of an inch of its target. Not caring for his own safety, his lack of cover or the consequences of bringing down the man that Section wanted taken alive, Birkoff fired.

Ivanoff jerked backwards at the blow. Roaring in rage, he sung down to drive the knife home in Michael's chest in an attempt to take the man with him into death.

Again Birkoff fired and fired and fired. He watched Ivanoff being thrown sideways by the violence of the bullets' impact. Racing to Michael, he managed to kick away the knife from Ivanoff's dying hand. Michael lay unconscious, having passed out from the fight. As he knelt by his lover's side between the two men, Birkoff heard Ivanoff's strangled call. "Armand." Turning to see the man's face, he realized that in the man's state Ivanoff had confused him for his lost love. With one more whispered, "Armand," the man died.


Hearing his name spoken for the first time in days, he looked up from Michael's still form to see Nikita. Knowing that she only saw the blood on the side of their lover's head and that she feared the worst, he whispered, "He's alive."

Seeing the relief on her face increased the ever growing ache in his heart. The fight was over and the mission at an end.

Now for their return to Section One and his life without Michael. Birkoff awoke from his dream with his head bent and his eyes closed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"His motive wasn't money or power. It was revenge."

Birkoff listened to Madeline's words, hearing them as if through a vacuum.

Michael was still being examined by Section's medical crew, while he was being debriefed. Birkoff relayed all the pertinent facts in his report. Answered every question on cue, when asked. His voice held little to no emotions as he spoke and his face was a blank.

Madeline took in the automatronic responses to her queries that Birkoff presented. By all accounts he had not spoken to anyone upon returning to Section. He seemed to be moving through each minute as if in a state of complete shock. Shock at having a part of himself so suddenly removed.

"Revenge for what?" The question asked only because it seemed expected of him.

"Ivanoff discovered that Red Cell was in part responsible for Armand Devon's death. They apparently felt that he was a distraction for Ivanoff and therefore must be removed." Pausing to look up at Operations who was standing at her side, Madeline continued. "The intel would have been enough to destroy the foundations of Red Cell's terrorist network, but with the loss of both the intel and Ivanoff that won't be possible."

Birkoff felt their stares burning into his head. Strangely he didn't care that Madeline was implying that his over-reaction to Michael's imminent death was the caused of the mission's supposed failure . . . an action that was more than punishable by abeyance.

Operations advanced on him as he spoke with menace, "Birkoff. You're actions are inexcusable. You failed to deliver Ivanoff to us and were moreover the instrument of his death. What do you have to say for yourself?"

The tense silence of the room played on as Birkoff remained mute. Finally he rose slowly from his chair. Walking up to Madeline's desk, he removed a data disk from his coat pocket. Carefully placing it on her desk, he raised his eyes to meet their gazes. "I carded it just as the firing began. Red Cell is now yours."

Lowering his head, Birkoff failed to see the look that past between Operations and Madeline. He probably wouldn't have believed the frank surprise and calculating happiness that touched their faces, if he had been watching.

In a tone that bordered on barely suppressed glee, Operations managed to say, "Birkoff. You are dismissed."

Neither noticed as Birkoff slowly walked out the door.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If he'd been anyone else but himself, Birkoff would never have believed just how little one would enjoy being the golden boy of Section One. He'd saved the day. Working tirelessly at tactical for hours on end as Operations and Madeline utilized the intel gathered to systematically disassemble Red Cell piece by piece, Birkoff blatantly strove to lose himself in the job. He didn't sleep unless ordered down and barely ate at all. He didn't talk off topic and avoided all outside contact with Walter and Nikita. Walter because he didn't feel like being asked about what had happened and Nikita because he didn't want the constant reminder that she represented of all that he'd lost . . .

And Michael . . .

Michael was back to being "Michael," again. The blank faced super agent was riding a wave of good fortune. Every mission seemed to be made to order . . . well planned, few surprises and meeting profile. They were rarely even in the same room together. When they were, each acted as though everything was as it had always been. Nothing passed between them but the air . . .

Until the touch.

The days had merged each into the next under the cloud of Red Cell's demise. Three weeks had passed since he'd killed Ivanoff. Birkoff continued through each day like a zombie and jerked awake each time he managed to find the strength to give into sleep, haunted by the scene of Michael's death . . . because each time he closed his eyes Michael lost his life by Ivanoff's hand. Again and again. He determined to say goodbye to sleep, being unable to face the nightmare one more time. Forty-eight hours later, Birkoff was on the verge of collapse. He hadn't eaten and could barely stand without leaning on the furniture. He was snapping at his people and making irrational comments that lacked foresight. Finally, Operations demanded that he stand down from his station. The sentence was three days down time . . . not negotiable.

"Three days," he whispered. That's how this all began. Three days in Michael's arms and in his bed. At the thought, Birkoff stumbled as he walked in a deserted corridor on the way to his rooms. A wave of dizziness swept through him as he suddenly felt himself pulled around a corner and into a darkened alcove.

"Michael, what . . ."

Not speaking, Michael pressed him back against the wall in an attempt to help Birkoff regain his sense of balance. Seeing the young man's vain struggle to hide the anguish that passed over his pale face, Michael's sense of protectiveness made him reach out in comfort.

But with the brush of Michael's hand over his hip everything darkened and Birkoff's world went black.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When next he opened his eyes, Birkoff found himself in familiar surroundings. He was in Michael's bed. Naked and in his bed . . .

"oh god"

Sitting up in circle of black sheets, Birkoff looked around for Michael. Hearing the man's footsteps, he turned as Michael entered the room. For the longest time they just looked at one another and didn't speak. Then Birkoff asked in a surprisingly angry tone, "Why, Michael? Why bring me here?"

Michael took in the flash of Birkoff's eyes followed by the wretched bending of the younger man's head and shoulders. Moving to stand by the bed, he spoke firmly. "Come to me."

With a harsh sound barely passing as a laugh, Birkoff replied. "David's dead, Michael. The mask has been lifted."

Reaching out to touch the curve of Birkoff's cheek, Michael lifted his head. "This isn't about David. It's about closure for you." Pausing as if to decide how much more he needed to reveal, Michael continued. "And for me . . ." Tracing the smooth line of Birkoff's mouth, Michael leaned in to kiss him.

Jerking back at the last second, Birkoff spoke a name as if in self-defense. "Nikita."

Choosing not to answer, Michael moved onto the bed . . . pressing Birkoff back into the covers with his own body. Speaking softly into his lover's ear, Michael said, "We need our goodbye."

Feeling the weight of this man once more over him, Birkoff's body burned at the touch of Michael's lips against his throat. Carding his hands through Michael's hair, the young man greedily drew their mouths together. Drowning in hunger, Birkoff roughly pulled his lover's black silk robe from his shoulders. He wanted to feel them skin to skin, the friction and impressed warmth almost as much a necessity at that moment as his own life's blood.

Breaking their kiss, Michael moved to removed the robe as he knelt beside Birkoff's legs. Drawing back the sheet that had pooled in Birkoff's lap during their embrace, he revealed every inch of skin in a slow deliberate tease. Finally having uncovered the flush of Birkoff's arousal, Michael reached forward to trace the lines that made up what had been their initials that covered his lover's hip. At hearing Birkoff's gasp, Michael raised his eyes from the beauty of their signet.

Birkoff fought to bite back the quiet tears that had escaped despite his arousal when his former Dom and lover had touched the tattoo. Whispering the words he'd wanted to share with Michael since their return, he said, "They wanted to remove it. Madeline said it would probably be best, but I . . . I refused."

Meeting the spark of determination in Birkoff's eyes, Michael commanded, "Tell me why."

"It was the only part of us that I could hold onto." Hearing the confessed love behind his own words, Birkoff rolled to his other side. His sudden need to block out the intensity of Michael's gaze was forgotten the moment he felt the full press of Michael's hardened body against his back. Birkoff moaned as Michael's tongue traced the line of his neck upwards to his ear. He felt the way the operative teasingly moved his cock against the smooth curves of his ass. Melting into their shared desire, Birkoff gave Michael one final gift. "Michael. Make love to me. Let me feel you once more."

Murmuring his acceptance, Michael set out to drive Birkoff mad with need. His hands covered every inch of his young lover's skin. He traced the smooth and the rough textures, both with his fingers and lips. Playing with Birkoff's nipples for the longest time, he alternated between licks and sweet nips as they pointed expectantly up into his tongue. He took each sigh, moan and cry into his soul . . . seeking to increase their volume by ten fold.

When at last he begged for more, Birkoff felt Michael raise one of his legs with his own. He was opened and completely exposed to the motion of Michael's pleasuring hands. Birkoff not only felt but strove to absorb each sensation into his flesh as those strong fingers moved within him. Having not been active for weeks, he proved a tight fit as Michael worked to prepare the way. Groaning as the burn increased his own fevered pitch, Birkoff cried out as the digits brushed against his prostate. He moved back into the smooth deep motion of Michael's hand, feeling it deeply as the third finger found purchase in his heat.

"Michael. Oh please, now. I want you in me."

Michael held him firmly against his chest as he entered at Birkoff's desperate plea. Groaning fiercely as the flesh encompassed his hardened cock, Michael held firmly to Birkoff as they slowly merged their flesh into one. Letting his lover have a moment to adjust to having him within, Michael moved a hand down to Birkoff's cock. He varied his strokes as he began to move into Birkoff.

Birkoff lost himself in their rhythm. He pressed forward and back, each time not knowing which sensation he wanted more . . . the fevered strokes of pleasure coming from Michael's hand or the fullness and heat of Michael's possession. Crying out as their movements became more frantic, Birkoff urged Michael to take them both over the edge. When at last he felt he could not survive one more moment on the precipice, Birkoff spasmed in joy. He called out to Michael as the warmth spread through his veins and over his lover's fingers. Hearing Michael's answering cry of "Birkoff!" . . . he gasped as his lover jerked both inside him and against his back in response to his own release.

For several minutes to follow, the room's silence was only broken by the quietening sound of deep breaths and the sighs of the truly sated. Birkoff moaned as Michael moved from his body to remove the condom, before returning to take him back into his arms. Their time was ending just as the dawn broke through the loft windows. He didn't know how long he'd been asleep before waking in Michael's bed, but now he felt stronger for having found rest in this most precious domain. He closed his eyes as Michael thoughtfully traced over the mark once more. Birkoff found comfort in knowing that they would always have this moment to look back on and remember.

Rolling over to kiss the man who had shown him so much of his nature, Birkoff pushed back the damp tendrils of Michael's hair. Holding his gaze Birkoff asked, "What color is the veil now?"

His heart was gladdened by the small smile that touched Michael's lips and eyes. But it was the words that followed that sealed his resolve to live in the joy of their shared moments and not to wallow in the despair of no longer having that which he could never have kept.

"The veil slipped between us in the moment that this was created." Michael moved down to kiss the signet in reverence to its' symbolism. Sitting up, he watched as Birkoff smiled in return. The young man traced on hand down the length of Michael's side, from shoulder to waist, before slowly rising from the bed. Meeting Birkoff's eyes, Michael stood as well. He quietly helped dress his former lover in a reversal of their old ritual. Once Birkoff stood before him fully clothed, Michael took his face in hand. He pressed the sweetest of kisses on first both of Birkoff's eyes, followed by the nose . . . before taking his mouth one final time. Slowly drawing back after a few moments, he rested his forehead against Birkoff's own.

He listened as Birkoff confessed quietly, "I love you."

"Thank you."

Birkoff smiled as he remembered that that had been Michael's response the first time he'd said those words. He felt the caress of Michael's hand over the curve of his hip as he raised his eyes to meet those of the man before him. Looking his full . . . Birkoff as last spoke in reply.

"Thank you for our goodbye."

With those words, Michael watched as the brilliant, brave young man he had so come to cherish and admire left his side . . . knowing that Birkoff would always have a place in his heart.


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