"Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground." -Theodore Roosevelt
"Aren't they just gorgeous?"
Michael looked around, frowning at the surrounding trees, trying to figure out what Fiona was talking about. The trees were pretty, he guessed, but gorgeous? He wouldn't use that word to describe them. She punched him lightly in the arm.
"Look up," she whispered with a smile. Michael looked.
Through the reaching branches of the tall green trees shone a large expanse of brilliantly glittering stars. Michael wasn't quite sure he had ever seen so many stars at once. Miami had too many city lights and pollution. The time Michael had spent in areas without lights and pollution, he was usually holed up in some dark cave. Here, in the vast mountains of Ireland, there were clusters of dazzling white here and there, so bright and so numerous that their palate had barely any black spots. The majority of what wasn't covered by stars was a deep, rich blue. Fiona was right. It was gorgeous.
Michael looked over to Fiona. She had spread out beside him on the blanket they had eaten their picnic dinner on, gazing contentedly up at the night sky. It was one of the rare relaxing moments they were able to share. Fiona had decided they deserved a break and had asked her mother make them dinner for them. Then she had practically dragged Michael to these mountains. They had hiked for an hour or two before reaching the summit of one particularly green mountain.. The picnic blanket was laid out and they proceeded to enjoy Mrs. Glenanne's tasty sausage rolls. By the time they were finishing their meal, the sun was low against the mountainous skyline, bright colors bursting out and painting the clouds. Fiona had insisted that they stay to watch the sunset. Like the stars, Michael couldn't deny that it had been unlike anything he had ever seen.
"Do you come here often?" he asked, easily sliding into his Irish drawl. The accent was second nature by now. He barely even thought of it anymore. Just the other day he'd had to contact Dan, his handler, and Dan had found it highly amusing that Michael had forgotten he could use his real voice.
"Used to," Fiona replied. "Not so much after getting involved with the IRA."
Michael watched her closely. There was something in her tone that made him think there was a little more to it than what she was letting on. He didn't trust her. But he knew better by now than to push it. Fiona was smart: she could tell when Michael was trying to wrangle information out of her.
She turned her gaze back to him, flashing him a huge grin. "I take it you've never been down here?"
Michael shook his head. "Growing up in Castlebar with such a poor family, we didn't get much of a chance to travel."
"But you must've hiked those mountains some, right?" Fiona asked. Michael shrugged.
"Didn't really ever hike. We lived on a farm, Fi. We had to take care of chores every day all day," he pointed out, matter-of-factly. Fiona nodded her understanding, turning her attention back to the stars.
Michael glanced at her before gazing at the stars as well. She didn't trust him, either. He didn't blame her. You could hardly blame anyone in Ireland for having trust issues. It made it more difficult to sell a convincing lie, but Michael just took it as a challenge. Though he found he surprised himself every now and again when he realized he felt a small pang of guilt as he lied to Fiona.
Why did he feel guilty? It wasn't like he cared for Fiona that much. They had only just met a month ago. Things had moved quickly, but it was all a farce. As soon as this was over, Michael would go back to Samantha and this would all just be another mission. He would be a married man.
Married. Michael still couldn't quite believe it. It was such a strange and unique situation but, he supposed, so was the rest of his life. His mouth had answered Samantha's proposal before his mind could think it over, but now that he'd had time to, he didn't regret it. The two of them worked. It simply made sense.
A soft sigh broke Michael out of his thoughts. Fiona had moved closer to him and was now maneuvering herself to snuggle into his chest. He wrapped an arm around her, rubbing her arm against the cold night wind.
On the other hand, he was starting to not be able to imagine life without Fiona. Unlike his relationship with Samantha, this idea made no sense. He had only just met Fiona. Neither of them trusted each other in the least. Hell, she didn't even know his real name or who he really was. He winced when she shifted, brushing the new scar on his chest. And they were constantly fighting.
So why did Michael feel guilty?
Michael looked down to see Fiona staring up at him. He found himself caught in her eyes which were reflecting the wonder of the stars above. She was beautiful. It was quite ridiculous, actually, how beautiful she was. How radiant she looked after a fight or an explosion. She was crazy, but he couldn't imagine her any other way. He wouldn't have her any other way. It would just simply be wrong. He wouldn't quite... love her so much.
That was it, he supposed. That was why he felt guilty lying to her. He would never say it out loud, he would never even admit it to anyone but himself. He had enough trouble admitting it right now. But it was true.
"I'm glad I didn't kill you the first time we met," she said sincerely.
Michael stared at her blankly for a moment. Then he chuckled, tussling her hair playfully.
"Believe me, Fi. So am I."
A/N: I love reviewers and live for constructive criticism!