A/N: So, I know everyone has written a Hot Spot fic, and now I'm doing it, too. Hopefully not quite what you've read before. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, and please review! =)
When you work in covert ops, you spend a lot of time thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong with a mission. You consider what happens if that strategically placed hot dog stand gets moved ten feet up the block. You think about what happens when there is a traffic accident at the corner where your meet is supposed to take place. You consider what could happen if you screw up. But most of all, you should consider what will happen if your team screws up.
Things in Miami were comfortable. I wouldn't call the situation ideal, but it's better than begging on a street corner somewhere, hoping that all those people you pissed off during "the good 'ole days" of your career don't turn up and end you. My loft is comfortable, Sam and Fi are good backup, and Mom…well, she's my mom, and therefore must be tolerated.
But there are certain things that you will never get used to. For example, getting blown up. It's never fun, it's never convenient, and above all, it is never comfortable. Having some unknown agency that specializes in cover opts on your tail is also highly inconvenient, though after a while you do get used to it. But one thing that you will never get used to is losing an asset. If you do get used to it, you're not doing your job right.
Fi calls and tells me that she's found the guy who tried to blow me up, and I can't completely suppress the thrill that runs through me. The enemy of my enemy could be a friend to me—or at least something I can use to figure out who the hell these people are. I can tell that Fi is excited, too. She's probably thinking that this is yet another opportunity to use copious amounts of C-4 to make something go "boom." But I tell her to wait and head to the address she sent me.
I can hear the sirens from a few blocks away, and I know that something is wrong. In the business of covert ops, there are no such things as coincidences. Dread grows in the pit of my stomach as I see the fire trucks and police cars outside the house that is entirely consumed in flames. Despite being at least a hundred yards away, I can still feel the heat of the flames. It's uncomfortably hot from where I stand. Inside, who knows how hot...
Fi. Fi is inside. I start trying to run inside, to go to her, to help her, but someone holds me back. I know that I'm yelling and babbling about her, but I can't seem to stop. They have to understand that Fi is in there, and I can't just leave her there. Any other asset, maybe, but not Fi. I can't just leave her behind. Not again.
But they won't let me inside. There are arms around me, restraining me, keeping me from going to her. The logical part of my brain seems to be slowly coming back to life, telling me that if she is in that building—which has now become a fiery death trap—there is nothing I can do to help her. But an old Sunday school lesson echoes in my mind. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. I don't remember what verse it is, just that it's in there somewhere.
I stop fighting the men who are holding me back, and pull out my phone. Fi would never not answer her phone—not when I'm the one who's calling. My fingers fly like lightning over the buttons, and before I know it, I'm listening to her voicemail message. It's horribly impersonal—just the way it should be for someone in our business. This is Fi. Leave a message.
I hung up and tried again. Again, I get that terrible voicemail response that doesn't seem to capture everything that is Fi. Her voice is distant, like she isn't really paying attention, and she doesn't really care. I've never heard her sound that way when she's talking to me, and it seems so strange that I'm hearing it now. This time, I leave a message, though I can't really remember what I said. Something about calling me.
When I call for the fifth time and she doesn't answer, I want to throw up. If she were able, she would have answered the phone by now. But I can't accept that she's gone. I can't accept that Fi—my Fi—who would kill me if she heard me calling her that—is gone. We have rendezvous points set up around the city, and I visit every one, hoping to catch a glimpse of her there. The Miami-Dade municipal building. The public library. An Irish pub in the middle of downtown. She isn't there.
I was on the steps of the municipal building when I realize that my hands are shaking. I've been trained to lie, trained to drop my identity at a moment's notice, trained to suppress all feelings and just finish the mission. But right now, I can't. For the first time in years, I can't force myself to go on, because I know that with each step I take, I'm just getting closer to confirmation that I'm not going to see Fi again.
Sitting there on the steps of that God-awful building, I dial her phone again, this time just to hear her voice. It isn't what I'm used to hearing—there's none of that playful teasing that I've gotten so accustomed to in her tone—but it's better than the deafening silence that seems to have settled over Miami. I call her again and again, this time not bothering to leave a message, because there's no point. After the tenth phone call, I'm finally able to stop my hands from shaking.
Clouds are rolling in, and I know that it's about to rain. I should head home, to the comfort—if there is any left in this world—of the familiar. My familiar bed, my familiar green duct-taped chair, my familiar fridge that's filled with familiar beer and yogurt. My familiar loft that will keep me warm and dry. But I can't. Because when I go back there, it's going to really hit me, and I know that I won't be able to keep myself from falling apart.
Instead, I get in the car and drive. I go to the sushi bar where we had our first dinner together in Miami. Memories of her pouring saki into my overflowing glass pass through my mind, and I embrace them. At least in memories, Fi is as she's supposed to be: alive and vibrant. I go by her house, half expecting to see her car in the driveway. It isn't there. I go by the seedy motel where she woke me for the first time in Miami, recalling the swift kick in the ass that woke me up. I can practically hear her familiar lilting accent, and it almost makes me smile. I go by Carlito's and remember all the times that she and Sam and I sat around, discussing a client. I remember listening to her argue with Sam, and wonder what it will be like to tell him that she's gone.
It's while I'm sitting at our table at Carlito's that the bottom falls out, and the rain begins to pour. Despite the fact that it is summer in Miami, the rain is cold, though nowhere near as cold as I am. I should get inside, take shelter from the monsoon, but instead, I continue to sit at our table. Memories of rainy days in Ireland pass through my mind.
"Come inside, Michael. That rain'll be the death of ya," she says, holding open the door to her flat.
It isn't until I'm completely soaked that I finally get up and go to the car. In the back of my mind, I hear her telling me that the water is going to damage the upholstery, and I laugh, but it isn't a funny sound. It's humorless and biting, and painful to my own ears.
I head to the loft, only because there's no where else to go. If I go to Mom's, I'll have to explain where Fi is, and I can't do that yet. The same would happen if I went to Sam's. So I go to the loft, where I can have my moment, where I can get my shit together before I have to handle Mom and Sam.
The door—that newly replaced door—stands in front of me, and I can't bring myself to open it. Too many times I have opened this door and found Fi lounging on my bed, or sitting on my countertops, eating my yogurt. This time, it will be painfully empty and awfully silent. Taking a deep breath, I push the door open and step inside.
"There you are."
The words shatter the silence, and take me completely by surprise. There she is, sitting in my loft, waiting on me like she always is. I can't help but wonder if I've gone insane, if my little walk down memory lane has pushed me over the edge. But if it has, at least Fi is here. I don't speak, because speaking would kill the moment.
"You've got to get a land line in here. Poole rigged his place to burst into flames. No surprise, but I let my curiosity get away with me."
Yes, that's Fiona. She always was one to let curiosity get the better of her. But she always managed to come out on top. She's holding up her old cell phone—fried crispy—and saying something, but I can't keep focus on it. Everything seems so surreal, that she's here, standing in my poorly-stocked kitchen. But there she is. And she has a fried phone, so she must be real. I don't realize that I've stepped closer until she stops and studies me. I realize that I must look a mess—waterlogged and disheveled—but I don't care.
"Michael, you didn't think…"
When I finally touch her, it's like coming home—really, truly coming home. It's the reaffirmation that she's alive and well and alive, and it's almost too good to be true. But she's here, and she's solid, and she's beautiful, and I really have nothing to do but kiss her. My arms wrapped around her, pulling her closer, needing her closer—if only to prove to myself that she was still there, that she hadn't melted away into the shadows of my imagination. But she's pressing back against me, kissing me back, matching my every touch with one of her own.
Fi is here and alive. And yes, the other problems of life are still there—someone is still trying to kill me, someone is still threatening my family and my friends. But Fi dodge a bullet today. She's alive and here with me.
So everything else can wait until morning.