"Why don't you do yourself a favor and just forget the past!"

Something snapped inside of me and I looked up, my hand snaking back to grab Fi's handgun.

"Fiona is not my past."

I whipped the handgun out, pulling the trigger without really aiming. Strickler's reflexes were unbelievably fast. He let out a shot of his own right before my two rounds hit him directly in the chest and he collapsed. His round hit me in the side, lodging deep in my flesh. I fell backwards from the momentum, letting out a cry as I felt my cracked ribs scream out in pain. My head hit the floor hard, making my eyes glaze over slightly. I didn't have time to waste, however. Groaning against the pain, I curled over toward Strickler's body and grabbed his phone. I checked through the recent calls before dialing quickly, collapsing back onto my back.

"Mike, where are you?"Sam's voice answered.

"Sam, listen to me," I said, pushing past the haziness. "Strickler arranged for O'Neill to get out of the US on a cargo ship. He's been making regular calls to a charter fishing house on Key Biscayne."

"Well, that must be where O'Neill has Fi. It's perfect. Those places are secluded and they got private docks..."

"Perfect place to load a prisoner onto a transport boat," I finished for him.

"What's the plan, then, Mikey?"

"Strickler got a round out before I killed him--"

"Whoa, what?"

"Sam, listen. I'm fine, though, the priority is Fi. You go get her, plant the bomb we made on O'Neill's ship or something, just get her out of there before they leave."

"You sure, Mike?"

I growled lowly. He was wasting time by arguing with me, valuable time that Fi didn't have. "I'm sure, Sam!"

"Okay, I'll send your mom over there to keep an eye on you, okay?"

"Fine," I bit. The room was swirling in my vision now as I hung up, letting the phone slip from my fingers. I clung to consciousness desperately but to no avail. Darkness consumed me and I soon gave in to it gratefully.

There's a place between life and death....

"Hey, there, sweetie. How are you? Can I get you something? Some water, maybe?"

"Ma." The word slipped past my lips in a moan. She smiled at me, her soft, motherly smile that was rather rare, and reached out to place a cool hand on my forehead.

"Yes, sweetheart."

"Fi... Is she... is she..." I couldn't cough out the question, but Ma understood.

"I don't know yet. I just got here."

I turned away, hoping to let unconsciousness overtake me again even though I knew how dangerous it would be. Ma, however, gently grabbed my chin, making me face her.

"Sam will get her, okay? Don't worry. I promise she'll be all right."

I tried to smile but I'm pretty sure it came out as a grimace. Ma had no idea how dire the situation was. Sam was trying to pull off what was at least a two man job by himself. If he failed, Fi would be taken back to Ireland and auctioned off. Auctioned off. Fi. My Fi. The image of her as one of those terrified and broken girls filled my mind's eye and I had to fight back the flood of emotion: anger, terror, regret, guilt...

It would be my fault if that happened to her. Instead of helping Sam, I was here, wounded and slipped steadily back into unconsciousness.

...Amazing how long a man can linger there....

I was being pulled up to my feet, two arms on either side of me. Blearily, I glanced to one side, shock bolting through me as I realized that one of the people helping me walk out of Strickler's place was Sam.

"Sam!" I coughed.

"Hey, Mikey. Calm down," Sam said, his voice all too relaxed for my liking. "We've got to get you to your mom's house, then we'll get that bullet out of you. You're lucky. It must've missed anything important otherwise you'd be dead by now."

I didn't care. I didn't care about anything Sam had to say to me unless it was about Fiona. I needed to know. I needed to know if she was safe, if she was still here, alive and well in Miami.

"Sam... what about... what about Fi..."

He must not have heard me, though. He opened the door to the Charger and Ma climbed in to the backseat, turning back around to help me get in to sit beside her. Once I was settled, I tried to ask Sam about Fi again, but he shut the door behind me, walking around to get in the driver's seat. By then, I was fighting a losing battle with unconsciousness again. I allowed myself to droop into Ma's embrace, closing my eyes.

If Sam was avoiding the topic, that meant Fi was gone. I didn't care about anything else. I didn't care if I lost the battle of life and death right then and there. Fi was gone.

...Especially when he has hope for something higher than himself.

The next time I woke up, it was of my own accord. An overwhelming sense of grief washed over me, taking me by surprise, and I kept my eyes closed, afraid to face the world that suddenly seemed a lot less bright. It was cliché and I hated myself for it, but I'd never suffered a loss like this. I'd never been so close to someone. I'd never... loved someone so much and then lost them. I felt utterly awful.

With a shuddering sigh, I opened my eyes and began to look around. I was in Ma's living room and could see Sean, bandaged up and resting. I winced to think of what his reaction to losing his sister would be. He'd go looking for revenge and probably end up dead himself. Then another of the Glenanne family would follow suit, and another, because they all were fiery like that, and it would all be my fault. Dammit, what had I done?

I glanced around the room, taking in the familiar homey house. Memories of my childhood flooded my mind as I looked around and suddenly I was glad Ma was selling it. I could start fresh with a lot of things and just bury the past deep away from memory.

A quiet feminine sigh reached my ears and I frowned. That wasn't a sort of sigh that would come from Ma...

I hoisted myself to my elbows, taking another look around the room and saw what I had missed. There, on the couch, fast asleep and peaceful, fully well expect for a bandage on her arm, was Fiona. Relief washed through me, stronger than the grief had, and I sank back down.

Fiona was alive.

Fiona was here.

Fiona was safe.

A/N: This was part ofwinter_deaddrop's AU ficathon. This wasgroovy82's challenge, however, I changed it slightly. Thanks to my sister who helped me figure things out for this.

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