A/N: This takes place directly after the end of season one. I've actually had the idea kicking around since last summer, I was just a bum and didn't finish it. Now, with season two out, I find it still fits without too much trouble. Enjoy.


Brushing the sand from his shoes, the tiny granules skittering across the worn linoleum of Michael Westin's kitchen floor, Sam frowns at his surroundings. Using this place as a crash pad seemed like a good idea just a few minutes ago. Now, standing here, barefoot, hearing nothing but the sound of the old refrigerator's wheezy operation and his own breathing, not so much. The place feels like…actually, Sam can't put his finger on what the place feels like, but the closest he can come to an accurate description is the word 'dead'. The apartment lies still, as though in stasis, waiting for its owner to return and, knowing the odds and the stakes involved, Sam very much doubts that will happen.

This realization makes him want to hurl something across the room.

Mike shouldn't be out doing whatever it is he's doing alone. He should have backup. Sam wants to be his backup. At least then, he would feel useful, whereas now, he's frustratingly powerless to help. He hates having his hands tied when a friend is in need…especially a friend like Mike. How many men would have come after him—saved him—when he got himself into trouble with the bad guys? Nobody else would've given the old SEAL a second thought, but Mike…Mike risked his neck to get a friend out of a tight spot.

Sam wishes he could do the same right now and the understanding that he can't is downright wearisome.

With a sigh he drops his shoes, suppresses the urge to kick them like a petulant child and starts for the fridge. His hand lights on the handle for a millisecond before he hears the front door being forced open. His fingers automatically seek out the place on his hip where a sidearm would be if he bothered to carry one anymore, but the movement is pointless as he's unarmed and the intruder turns out to be Fiona.

She freezes in her tracks at the sight of him, obviously not expecting the place to be occupied and she seems to shuffle her feet a little.

"C'mon in, Fi."

"Didn't know you were here, Sam," she says, stating the painfully obvious. "I'll just…go somewhere else."

Sam opens the fridge and reaches for the last beer, which stands next to its solitary companion—a container of vanilla yogurt. He shrugs as he does this and pops the cap off the bottle without too much trouble. "The place is as much yours as it is mine now."

"Until Michael gets back," she prompts as she crosses the room, subtly reminding him that she's just as worried and frustrated as he is—and maybe a little in denial, too.

"Until Mike gets back." They both know the probability of Michael coming back home in one piece, but he doesn't press the issue—mostly because he doesn't want to face those thoughts either. He takes a swig of the beer and jerks his head at the fridge. "There's yogurt if you want it."

Though the expression is fleeting, she gives him a look like a kicked puppy. She covers it almost the instant it crosses her features, but he sees it none-the-less. Feeling…something, he doesn't know what—the need to comfort, he supposes— he's drawn to her side with a handful of steps and his hand rests awkwardly on her slender shoulder. "Hey, it's okay."

Fiona looks like she wants to argue, to swat his hand away with a sharp remark, but she can't seem to bring herself to it. Her shoulders sag and she allows him to put his arms around her, his hands smoothing down her hair. It's the embrace of two people who couldn't stand up alone, nothing more, she knows this, which is why she allows it to happen. She slumps in his arms, forehead resting against his broad chest, and she fights the burning that's started behind her eyelids and forces down the lump in her throat.

She loses the battle, foothold by emotional foothold, until her fingers twist in Sam's hideous Hawaiian shirt and tears burn their way down her cheeks. Sam is warm and his hold on her invites a sense of safety that she honestly isn't used to—at least, enough security to allow her usual paranoia to take a break—and in the circle of his arms she feels like she can let go, just a little.

Fiona doesn't sob—in fact, would never forgive herself for that kind of embarrassingly sentimental display—but she cries, albeit silently and he doesn't seem to mind. He coos soothing nonsense that even he doesn't know the meaning of, his hands rolling down her hair as she trembles in such a way that it's obvious she's trying not to.

Though the hug is noticeably clumsy, inelegant and, Sam suspects, never in a million years to be repeated, some of the frustration drains from him at being of use again. Even a little thing like this makes him feel helpful and important once more. Someone needs something from him and he's giving it his all, despite the fact he's not all that good at it. Sure, he would prefer to be in the heat of battle, doing that which he was trained to be the best at, but that just isn't an option and he is nothing if not adaptable.

Fiona needs him to be a Kleenex? Then by God, he'll be a Kleenex. He'll be the best damn Kleenex there ever was. 'Cause even though he can't be there for Michael, he can be here for Fi; and she needs him just as much, if in a different way.

Sure, it isn't perfect, but for now, it's enough.