Note: I have no excuse. I only want to say sorry for my long absence. I am so sorry for making those lose faith, and am grateful to those who still believe.

Chapter 8 (unedited)

"I'm sorry. I can't."

The pang of rejection left ripples that weaved on boundlessly, slowing his beating heart to absorb the disparity of it all. He had never fathomed that the end could be so cruel, so cold. But even so, he could not deny that he deserved this. He, who had taken so much from so many others, was finally getting a taste of the karma that had planned and finally executed its Blitzkrieg. Karma was definitely a Bitch.

This was it; Nikita was finally leaving him. I'm sorry? I can't? What the hell does that even mean? He was dam sure going to get more of an explanation than a few words. Putting aside the selfish thoughts, he questioned how he had the devil to have had broken her heart the same way. She had tried fighting with him for his freedom, and he, in return, did nothing but take her's.

"Michael, don't do this," she begged, on the verge of crying.

"Don't do what?" It was more of a statement than a question. He was daring her to beg for more, wanting to hear the pain and desperation in her voice.

"Don't do this to us."

"There is no us," he said coldly as he turned away from her.

He could have changed this then. He could have accepted her love as a token of a new life, but like so many other things, he took advantage of her. He thought she would continue to come back to him, for him. He was going to break.

"Owen, you're ill," Nikita continued softly, "This isn't you at all."

Wait. She had just addressed Owen, meaning that she didn't choose Owen. Michael pinched himself to see if he was still in reality. At the same time, he could see Owen's figure stiffen, as if he had just heard something out of the ordinary, something he couldn't accept. But the cleaner remained speechless.

"Owen," she said again as she started to approach him. But Michael held on to her arm, refusing to allow her to approach an immanent danger and refusing to let her walk out of his life.

She didn't fight Michael's pull, "Why are you so different? You're not the same man I once knew."

"I am no different than who I was!" Owen was becoming increasingly unstable and angry. Was this why she was so distant from him? This is all nonsense; she was simply thinking too much.

"You are. I don't know who you are anymore," she said with a pained expression, "Who are you?"

"Nikita, stop your nonsense. These can't possibly be the only words you have for me."

"You're right. I have no other words for you."

Owen was visibly becoming more feverish. His face was redder than any normal state human, his veins puffed, and his hands were shaking.

"How dare you," he hollered, "After all that we've been through, all that I've done for you, you still choose to leave me for this bastard. How dare you humiliate me for all my efforts?" His voice started to shake.

"Just because you saved my life, it doesn't mean you own my life. I truly am grateful to you for your generosity, but I am not going to be your prisoner."

"I told you already that you're not my prisoner! I love you and I'm going to care for you, to protect you, to give you a life you so deserve…"

She interrupted, "I can't. No, I don't want to. I… I don't love you, at least not that way. There will never be us."

"No! You do love me. You love me. You love me." Owen repeated the phrase like a mantra, trying to convince himself to keep believing.

Being a bit disorientated was an understatement. He could no longer thinking straight. His vision was suddenly not as clear. He couldn't comprehend fully what she was saying. All he could do was try to fight away the pain of her rejection and desertion, with the fact that she will no longer be with him. He panicked. Everything was beyond control. He wanted to calm down, but even his body did not listen. He was losing everything, including himself.

Michael, being aware as usual, couldn't explain what was happening to the fucker. The man was completely out of his mind. Cleaners were normally careful and discrete. They were trained to keep things hidden. Their missions were their lives. But this, this was down right out of character.

Owen repeated punch himself on the head while saying "she loves me, she loves me". Within seconds he was reduced to his knees. Nikita started toward Owen, wanting to console him, to take away all the pain. There will be a reckoning one-day, and she would pay for all her sins. But at this moment, to the best of her ability, she wanted to help in any way she could. She didn't want Owen to suffer. She didn't want Michael to hurt either. Who would want to be stuck with an uncaring bitch?

Michael, seeing Nikita's pain-stricken face, was easily able to predict her next move. Of course she would want to help the poor man; it was second nature to her. Before she could take another step, he immediately pulled her back to him, wrapping an arm around her waist. With their close proximity, he could feel her accelerated heartbeat. He could hear her stilted breathing, daring to wish that her concern were for him rather than the other man. He successfully stopped her, though her eyes remained upon Owen's possessed figure. "I'm sorry, I really am, but I can't let you go to him. You can't fathom how dangerous he is right now," Michael whispered to her, "I'm not going to risk losing you again. I did you wrong, so much that God decided to take you away from me. I intend to repent for all my mistakes with my life. Just at this moment, I need you to trust me one last time, Nikita. Don't go to him. He's driven by drugs."

Nikita had almost forgotten about the charade she was leading. She had wanted them to believe that she remembered everything before her fatal accident, in the attempt to escape Owen and to have the opportunity to explain her connection with this Michael. Was that a confession she just heard him say? Exactly what did he do to her? Was he trying to kill her? That wouldn't fit the puzzle because he could have easily killed her when he first laid eyes on her again. Her guts told her that she could trust this man, despite all the images she saw in her head.

"What do you mean "driven by drugs?" she asked in a voice that was comparably discreet.

"He's a cleaner, meaning that he was put on a specific regiment of drugs," Michael explained, "After he went rogue, he didn't have another supplier. Owen is undergoing withdrawal, which explains his irrational and aggressive behaviour."

Cleaner? Nikita thought to herself. She couldn't ask too much without arousing suspicion. She understood that the main point was that Owen was going through some sort of drug withdrawal. Remembering her own recovery from ketamine, she knew the pain. If death was an option, she would have gladly chose it.

"But we can't just leave him. There has to be something we can do."

"Nikita, there isn't," Michael said more sternly that he intended to. He just wanted to take Nikita away from this whole scenario so they can start to recover.

Nikita stared at Owen, both helpless in their states. Owen wasn't who he seemed to be. He wasn't evil. She wasn't sure if his intentions were pure, but they were by no mean harmful. He was a friend. They were acquaintances that fought by each other.

She can recall the time when he had assured her that they will always be friends.

"Nikita," he called as he walked down the stairs to her loft. She was seated in front of her computer, intently researching for her next mission.

"Nikita, we need to talk."

"Owen, I thought I made myself very clear," she plead. She didn't want things to change between them, but if he continued to pursue her, she didn't know where they would end up. Telling him the truth was better than leading him on. She would be lying to him if she did that.

"Just listen to me one more time."

"I'm all ears."

"I know we can't be together that way, but I just wanted to be sure that we are still friends. I don't want to lose anything that we already have."

Nikita looked up from her screen and turned to him. She felt happy for once in a long time, appreciating the fact that this man still wanted to have anything to do with her.

"I really hadn't intended to make things awkward between us," he continued sincerely, "I'm asking you if it is possible for us to go back to the way we were before. No strings attached to what happened that night."

"Owen, you don't have to do this for me. You don't have to fight Division with me. Revenge is for the weak. The best thing you can do for yourself is building a new life. You won't be Percy's focus. You have the chance to leave, so leave."

"I'm not in this for revenge anymore. I want to fight alongside you because I care for you and I respect you. I admire your strength and perseverance. And you know I don't have a life outside of this. I've been meld into this person and put into this industry for so long that I don't know anything else. We all know what that is like."

Nikita knew he was right. It was almost impossible to have seen all they've seen and pretend to have never seen anything. The person would have to be downright monstrous. But living only to remember all that they've committed would only be a lie. What woman or man out there can accept them wholly and completely? Nikita remained speechless. At the same time, she didn't want to drag him back in her crusade. No one else should have to lose his or her life because of her.

"Nikita, please don't send me away. I don't know how to do anything else but this. Please don't make my life meaningless. This is the only way I know how to atone for a fraction of my sins."

Now there was no way she could deny him any longer. She can't send him off living his life in guilt. She couldn't do that herself. And it was cruel to force him to. Maybe like her, he could remember what it is like to feel happiness by bringing other people joy.

"I'm going to look for Michael."

A moment for silence overcame them. Then Owen smiled and, to her surprise, encouraged her.

"Its about time you did."

"Thank you, Owen, for being friends with me." As corny as it sounded, she needed him to know that she was thankful. She would be indebted to him for life. In her time of need, he was always there, through thick and think. They were partners this way.

"You can't stop me from protecting you, just as I can't stop you from looking after me."

"Oh darling it's a promise," she said with a smile. The mood lightened a bit and Owen was laughing too.

"Going to catch the man you love. Be careful, Nikita. Please do come back in one piece."

"Michael can't handle me."

They both laughed.

"What do you plan to do in the meantime?" she asked.

"I'm going to find a way to fix this regiment problem."

"I'll be back as soon as I can. Remember, we aren't alone anymore."

"I know you will," he said with a grin, "So where is Michael anyways."

She had mentioned where she was going to go. Their conversation had lasted until she had to prep for her next mission. Owen must have encountered a problem looking for the solution to his regiment.

Owen's moan was audible. He was grabbing his head in a futile attempt to stop his migraine. He was sweating and the redness on his face and neck persisted.

Michael raised his gun.

"Michael, no," she said fiercely, her eyes not leaving Owen, "If you do this I promise that I'll hate you."

Michael couldn't help but feel jealous. Without needing a verbal confirmation, he could tell that their relationship was complicated. As much as he would like to take Owen out of the equation, he could not risk losing Nikita again, especially not after all of this.

Out of the blue, Owen yelled, "Don't you dare touch her! Don't worry Nikita, I'll protect you." Then he charged blindly towards Michael.

Michael wasn't sure if Owen saw the weapon in his hand, but there was no time to worry about that. He pushed Nikita out of the way in time for Owen to tackle him. They both fell, both trying to strangle each other. Michael kicked Owen so that he rolled over his head. But just as fast as he fell, Owen was on his feet, charging for him again. Michael punched him, hard. He spit blood out and like a raged bull, prepared to charge again.

Nikita, still weak, fell when Michael pushed her away. She could see that Owen was completely disoriented. When attacking, his eyes were not even focused and when he stood, he swayed. She knew she was the cause of all this. She had been selfish. She had not appreciated Owen enough. After the sacrifices he made for her, she couldn't drop her needs to help him. She could have been there to look for a solution to the regiment. But no, because she had decided to chase Michael without any promises, and with a death wish she though no one cared. No one except Owen. She was prepared to leave him, and she didn't give it a second though. Guilt. It was gnawing away at her. Her heart constricted and her breathing was laboured. Is this why she was alone? Do those close to her meet their untimely demise? What happened to all the oxygen?

Owen's attacks were continuous, but they were careless. Michael easily blocked him, throwing punches from time to time. Owen's energy was quickly burning out, but the man was goddamn persistent. Without notice, Nikita jumped onto Owen's back and wrapped her arms around him firmly. She held him so tight that her knuckles were becoming pale. Her face was plastered at the base of his neck. Michael watched her, knowing Owen needed this. Owen needed her.

Nikita's face was emotionless. At this moment she didn't care about anything except save her friend from self-destruction. He was fidgeting a lot, but was relatively calmer.

"Owen," she said silently, "come back to me."

At her words he stopped completely. He fell to his knees, bringing her with him. She didn't release him, and instead, hugged him even tighter to calm him.

"Nikita, what's happening to me?"

"Owen, let me help you, please. I know I've hurt you, but I never intended on abandoning you. Ever. We're in this fight always and forever."

His breathing returned to normal so she loosened her grip.

"Nikita I'm so tired."

"I know, Owen. Rest. We can figure this out together."

"You mean with Michael too?"

"He won't hurt you."

"He'll hurt you though," he said with a pained voice.

"No, that's all in the past now. We all have each other's backs. We are not alone anymore. We never will be again."

"What if he takes you away?"

"We will always be friends and partners, Owen. No one is leaving anywhere."

"Do you still love Michael?"

"Very much."

"Ok, I want you to be happy."

"I will be even more so when you're well. I don't want you to lose yourself."

Owen could feel her breath on him. Even though he very well understands that there is no them, he will always care for her. He feels calm, and for once in a long time, he doesn't feel the need to possess her. He doesn't feel the need to isolate her, or to take her away from this world. He is freed from those demons, for now.

"I know there is something wrong, and I want to get better," he admits.

"You will. We are all in this together."

Nikita didn't realize the tears that are slowly streaming down her soft cheeks. She didn't blink; her face maintained its blank state.

Michael approached them cautiously. He extended his hand, offering assistance and more importantly, offering a sort of friendship. It was the first step. Owen looked up. His face and eyes exposed him. He was exhausted, almost as if his life source was depleted. The man needed help, and Michael was prepared to do this, for the sake of Nikita. Owen shakily reached his hand out…

Then the peaceful moment was over, ruined by the deadly gunshots and the voices of assassins exchanging commands. Seconds later, an explosion followed. Sand and water flew everywhere, dispersing so high that the sun seemed to have been covered. It was a battlefield again.

As Michael fell, he thought of nothing else but the image of losing Nikita again. He didn't care if he died if he was going to lose the love of his life again.

As Owen fell, he thought of peace that had finally been bestowed upon him. He wished he could have done more to help Nikita find her happy ending, more to make Michael love her. I'm sorry, he thought to himself. He doesn't quite want to die yet. He has yet to finish the course of retribution.

As Nikita fell, memories flooded back. She saw Michael point the gun at her, and the agents that were accompanying him. Then she remembered the whole scenario. She loves him still, but she can't seem to grasp the idea of a future with him. Perhaps its been too long since they had the chance to reconnect. Being chased by death is not fun. She's at her end. Maybe she's the one who needs to let go.