"Because... you don't marry someone when you love someone else," Michael finished, allowing Fi a brief glimpse into just how much he cared for her. Normally this would have been a bridge too far to cross, but Fi was right about Sam... He should have told her about Sam years ago.

Their fingertips touched briefly just before he stepped back into the loft. That churning feeling in his stomach subsided when his eyes met hers. He could tell she understood just how difficult that admission had been for him.

He allowed himself the briefest smile in response.

Of course he wasn't the only one smiling. His mom utterly failed to hide the smile on her face and maintain the illusion she was sleeping. There really wasn't any pointing calling her on it... He rarely gave her much choice. Hopefully she'd understand why he never mentioned Sam before. He'd compartmentalized his life to the point where he hadn't thought about her in years.

After climbing his stairs, he turned to look toward the balcony. Fi had not moved and remained leaning against the door jamb staring out toward the river. He scratched the side of his head and released a deep breath. He shook his head then turned to get ready for bed. Just before doing so, he stashed his Sig under the pillow.

Michael had already removed his shoes and socks when he heard Fi close the balcony doors. She finished up just as he dropped his pants. They joined his shirt on the chair he used as a make shift night stand while his mom stayed.

Surprisingly, Fi climbed the stairs instead of leaving directly. There was a part of him that hoped all this was over and they could put it all behind them, but she wouldn't have started up those stairs if it was. Apparently she had more to say on the matter. He dreaded the approaching footsteps once she appeared at the top of the stairs. Before he had a chance to react, she'd reached the bed and slid her H&K under his second pillow. She'd held his gaze as long as reasonable while straightening back up.

She caught him completely off guard when she kicked off her shoes and slid her skirt down her hips until it dropped to the floor.

"Fi?" he asked when she pulled her top over her head, leaving her facing away from him clad in just a pair of panties. He swallowed hard at the exquisite view. She bent forward to reach for his shirt and slipped inside.

"Michael?" she replied in a teasing voice as she turned toward him but kept her focus on buttoning the shirt. She got about half way up the line of buttons before stopping and moving toward the bed.

After the past three days, he couldn't believe she'd actually want to stay. Honestly, he had no idea how her mind worked sometimes. Michael found no words when she bent down and joined him. He could only look at her with questioning eyes.

"I would never forgive myself if Victor harmed Madeline," Fi whispered after settling down on her right side facing him.

Michael was skeptical that her only reason was to provide tactical support in protecting his mom. He relaxed onto the bed and rested his head on the pillow. Their eyes never parted. She followed his lead. If he didn't know any better, she might have even moved a bit closer.

"Your mother isn't sleeping," she whispered.

"I know," he replied. They each shared a knowing smile.

Michael leaned in for a brief kiss. "Thanks, Fi."

"For what?"

"You know why," he answered with a sly smile. He couldn't believe it'd taken Sam returning after a decade to remind him why he fell in love with Fi so many years ago. To this day, she still had the ability to pleasantly surprise him.

He caught Fi's self satisfied smile just as he closed his eyes. He then felt her move closer. They probably weren't in the most tactically sound position, but he didn't actually expect Victor to come at him in the loft. If Victor was as good as Michael suspected, Victor would not approach Michael's position of strength. He would be patient and wait to make his move when Michael was in a position of weakness. Otherwise, Michael would have ensured Nate and his mom took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale again.


Michael awoke the next morning before the sun began to pour into the loft. Sometime during the night, both he and Fi shifted so they were lying on their left sides with their bodies pressed together. He moved his head just slightly so her hair wasn't in his face but not so much to risk waking her.

He swallowed hard and tried to will his body's reaction to subside. The fact that it was morning contributed only minimally to his predicament. Fi's lithe, warm body pressed up against his, stripped away pretty much any control he could exert. Waking up surrounded by that scent unique to Fi where the citrus in her shampoo mixed with a faint hint of gun oil only made things worse.

Although there was still time before Fi needed to wake up so they could prepare for his morning meeting with Victor, he probably needed to wake her up earlier than planned. He really had no hope of focusing given their current situation. "Fi," he whispered in her ear and gently shook her body.

A few moments later she had not responded, so he tried again. "Fi," he whispered again and moved his body against hers with a little more force than before.

This time was effective and she lifted his right arm from its place, wrapped around her body, so she could read his watch.

"There's time, Michael, but your mother is just down stairs," Fi purred and pressed her body back tighter against his. She obviously felt his body's reaction to hers and made a completely reasonable, but entirely incorrect, assumption. "I doubt I could refrain from waking her." He knew better and there was no way to avoid waking his mom.

Fi had long ago figured out the more vulgar she became, the more it turned him on.

Her reminder triggered an unbidden memory that stripped away what tiny bit of control he still retained over his body. He took pride in tempering his responses and not succumbing to emotions, but there were occasions he utterly failed. One such occasion took place last year as he juggled the twin burdens of trying to rescue Sam while dealing with the people who burned him after they killed Cowen. He and Fi shared a room in Nate's barren condo the night before Sam's planned rescue. They succumbed to temptation and made love until both were exhausted.

Once Nate and his mom were away, Fi confessed to him that his mom thought they were arguing the night before. That too was a reasonable assumption given the steady stream of Irish swear words she directed his way as they made love. As they reached a crescendo, she would be nearly screaming at him. His face turned red from embarrassment when she informed him that she'd corrected his mom's mistake. Fortunately neither said a word to Nate, otherwise he'd never hear the end of it.

After rescuing Sam, the memory of that delightful experience slowly turned bitter with each passing mile on the Interstate. Fi had a habit of testing their relationship and he came to suspect it was as much an attempt on her part to make him stay as a chance to spend one last night together before they parted for good. Michael held absolutely no expectation that two days after saying goodbye he'd be back at home.

"No, I meant, we should probably get up... Give you more time to get ready and head to city hall," he whispered and put a little distance between them.

Fi responded by turning to face him. "Are you sure you still want to do this?"

He moved his eyes down and focused on just the hint of skin exposed by the unbuttoned lapel on his shirt that Fi wore. He swallowed hard and moved his eyes back up to her face. "I don't see any other way... I need to see if Victor's willing to help me."

"How can you be sure he'll show up first?"

"He's working alone... He has to," he wasn't sure he needed to remind her of that.

Fi still didn't look convinced.

"If he had back up, our little operation at the storage facility would've went down differently... He wouldn't have taken the chance he did unless he had no other option."

That seemed to at least temporarily put her mind at ease. She looked off to the side, then responded with an "Alright," before pushing away from him to get out of bed. When she slid out of bed, Michael moved to lay on his back.

Fi then took hold of his attention by slowly unbuttoning her shirt while facing him. She didn't look at him and tried to act nonchalant, but her intent was blatantly obvious after removing his shirt and spending needless time fussing with her own before sliding it down her arms. She decided to face him while putting on her shirt but then turned away to bend over and shimmy the tiny skirt up her legs. She chose each act to maximize her exposure toward him.

Michael was still a bit stunned with Fi's little show when she bent over and gave him a quick kiss. "I'll get us a van... Stuffing Victor into a trunk will probably attract unwanted attention," she said with a smile and gently brushed her hand along his chest. She pulled her pistol from under the pillow, placed it in her bag and started down the stairs.

Thankfully Fi exited as quietly as possible and he hoped his mom was still asleep. He still needed to finish turning the disposable camera into a makeshift stun gun before the meet. If his mom was awake and peppering him with questions, he wasn't sure he could finish the task in time.