Disclaimer: Burn Notice and its characters still don't belong to me unfortunately

Rating: T

Spoilers for the summer finale Dead to Rights. This takes place after the bomb went off but before their unwelcome visitor at the loft.

A/N: As always, thank you to Purdy's pal and DaisyDay for their read through

Always

The Loft was bathed in darkness when they entered, the only sign of light coming from the moon filtering its silver shadows through the blinds. Michael ushered Fiona's trembling form inside before closing the door behind them. He was worried about her; he had never witnessed her this quiet before, not even in Ireland. Fiona was a woman who always had spark in her eyes, but this time she seemed so defeated, and it scared him.

"Sit down Fi," he whispered into her hair as he slowly eased her down onto the end of the bed. He knelt down before her and reached up a hand to move her hair from her eyes so that he could see her face. "Are you okay?"

"Didn't you see Sam's face?" she asked, her voice no more than a whisper. "He hates me."

"What?" Michael shook his head and moved closer. "Sam doesn't hate you, Fi."

Her resolve broke and she squeezed her eyes closed to stop the tears leaking through, but they fell down her face anyway. Getting to his feet, Michael came to sit beside her, sliding a hand over her shoulders to pull her against him as her body shook with wracking sobs. He shifted her closer, wrapping both arms around her as she shuddered against him.

"It's okay," he whispered over and over, placing kisses into her hair as he held her closer.

"It's… not…okay," she cried against him, shaking her head as she grabbed a fistful of his shirt. "I…killed them…"

"Shhh," he soothed as he encased her in his arms. He didn't know the words to say that would make her feel better; he was so not good at all this relationship stuff. Shifting closer he held onto her and whispered that he was there, over and over again until her sobs slowly subsided to hiccups. He kept his arms around her until she started to move, easing herself out of his arms but keeping a hold of his hands.

Taking a deep breath, Fiona lifted one of her hands to her face and rubbed the wetness away from her eyes. She felt raw and exposed and more vulnerable than she had ever felt before. Crying wasn't something she did very often and she hated showing this side of her, but she just couldn't seem to stop it.

Michael lifted a hand to run his fingers through her hair, trying to heal her with his touch. A crying woman had never been his strong point and he still didn't know what to do. He hated seeing her like this, in so much pain. Her sobs had shaken him to the core causing something to snap inside him. It brought a powerful wave of emotion along with it and it was in that moment he realised how it felt to be so completely consumed by another human being.

"I'm going to run you a bath, okay?" he told her as he leaned across to place a soft kiss onto her forehead. "Do you need anything?"

Fiona lifted her eyes to his again and felt herself slipping. She hadn't felt like this since she'd exploded into a streak of violence after Claire died. The guilt was almost unbearable to begin with, and years later she tried to reason with herself that it was justified. But there was no justification for killing two innocent men to save the man she loved.

Shaking her head she closed her eyes when he kissed her again, letting his lips linger over her hair. All she could think of was how she could face the people she cared about now after everything she'd done. Opening her eyes again she watched Michael's retreating form, wondering what he thought of her now that she was tainted with the blood of innocent men.

Turning on the taps over the bath Michael began to fill the tub with hot water, the steam quickly enveloping his body. He could already feel the deep set worry building inside his chest. He had known Fiona for so many years and been in love with her through most of them. She had never been a broken woman even when he met her again after he'd left. She was passionate and fiery, a beautiful spirited woman who had stolen more than his heart on the day he met her.

She took his breath away. Even in her current state withdrawn and pale, he still felt his heart thump wildly inside his chest. Turning away from the bathtub he walked back into the living area and moved towards her.

"Come on Fi," he whispered, holding out his hand for her to take. "You'll feel better."

Fiona's eyes locked with his, the silence speaking volumes as she reached up to link her fingers with his, their touch so intense she had to close her eyes to the consuming love coursing through her body. Despite the fatigue and deep seated regret, her love for him was the one thing she clung to.

Michael felt it too as he gave a gentle tug on her hand to pull her with him towards the warmth of the steaming bath, urging her to follow him into the small room.

"I'll be back in a minute," he told her hoarsely as she stared into the steaming water. "I'll find something for you to wear."

He didn't expect her to reply so when she squeezed his fingers drawing his attention back to her eyes, he couldn't help but reach for her again to hold her tightly against him, even as the steam encircled their bodies. He kissed her forehead before moving away from her to move backwards towards the door.

"I won't be long," he told her softly even though the last thing he wanted to do was leave. He turned to look at her one more time before he turned away to walk out of the door.

His heart was thumping wildly as he closed the door behind him to lean against the back of it to catch his breath. How could he control this rising inferno that was surrounding his body when the object of his desire was no more than a few feet away?

With a heavy sigh, he pulled himself away from the door and made his way towards their makeshift closet as he tried to quieten his raging emotions.

Five minutes later he came to stand beside the closed door listening for any signs of splashing water, but all that greeted him was silence.

"Fi," he called softly, knocking on the door before slowly opening it, "I'm coming in okay?"

Pushing the door open slightly he called again as he tried to find her through the steam filled room, "Fiona?"

The sight that greeted him melted and broke his heart all at the same time. She was sitting fully clothed on the floor beside the bathtub sobbing into her hands uncontrollably, her whole body shaking.

He was beside her in a second, throwing the towel he'd brought with him onto the toilet seat before sinking to his knees beside her.

"Oh Fiona," he soothed as he pulled her into his tight embrace letting her tears wash over his shirt. "It's okay; I promise you it'll be okay…"

Through her sobs he felt her shake her head, and he pulled back to gaze into her pain filled eyes.

"I couldn't let you die," her voice shook as more tears pooled and fell from her eyes. "I don't want to lose you."

Her words cut deeply into him as he moved forward to pull her into his arms again, holding her close as he rocked her sobs away.

"I'm not going to die," he soothed, kissing her as he spoke. "I promise you will never lose me."

"No," she sobbed, pulling back so she could see his face, the tears blurring her vision. "I couldn't let you die," her voice quivered, "not when I could stop it...I only wanted you back and I didn't think…I…"

"Fiona, listen to me," he soothed, placing both of his hands on her face to keep her close. Leaning forward he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and brushed her tears away with his thumb, "No one is blaming you."

"What if I blame myself?" she asked him tearfully, looking up at him with deeply sad eyes. "I killed for Claire too, I did things…terrible things—"

"We've all done things that haunt us," he told her as he cradled her face in his hands. "But we're better people now Fi, you and me…"

His words seemed to placate her and she moved forward to lay her head against his shoulder. She closed her eyes as she tried to block out the images from her mind of fire, exploding buildings and badly burnt innocent men.

"Do you think it was quick?" she asked him then, her voice sounding so foreign to her own ears. "When the blast ripped through the lobby…do you think they died quickly?"

Michael swallowed hard and leaned in to lay his forehead against hers, "It was instant, Fi…they wouldn't have felt anything."

She nodded silently as she moved away from him to look down at the steaming bath water. A resigned sigh escaped her lips as her hands moved to the ends of her white t-shirt, pulling it off over her head to throw the garment onto the floor in a messy heap.

She stood up on shaky legs and moved to unbutton her pants when he stopped her, his hands covering hers. Their eyes locked and held, as he moved her fingers aside to take over what she had started. With a gentleness he didn't know he possessed, he eased her pants down her slender legs, taking her underwear with them before turning her around to unclasp her bra. She turned around to face him, her eyes watching the tenderness in his as he held onto her hand and helped her climb into the steaming water.

Fiona settled into the hot water letting the heat surround her aching body to take some of the coldness from her. Surrendering to the water her eyes fluttered closed. She felt herself drifting off into a silent dream only to register seconds later that he was still with her in the steam filled room. Slowly she turned to watch him, her eyes lingering over his face. She could see the love in his eyes as he watched her and she moved around the tub, sitting up on her knees so she could hold out her hand to him.

Her sudden movements broke him from his haze as he found her eyes on him, watching him with such adoration and honesty that he was incapable of tearing his gaze away.

"Stay with me?" she asked in a whisper, her eyes pleading silently for his presence.

Her words reached out to him, pulling him to her with every ounce of love she possessed and he willingly followed. He answered her wordlessly, a silent smile telling her that he would never leave her side again.

Stepping forward, he knelt down beside the bath so he was directly behind her. Slowly, his hands fumbled with the buttons on his shirt, removing the cloth barrier that stood between his skin and hers. Fiona moved further back in the tub, her back pressed between the tub and his chest. She closed her eyes, relishing the feel of his now wet hands running soap over her shoulders.

"Lay your head back," he whispered against her ear sending shivering waves throughout her whole body, causing a whimper to escape from her lips. She did as he asked, leaning her head backwards so she could rest on his chest. The contact caused her heart to explode with reactions she was finding hard to control. Her mind was foggy, caught between guilt and regret. She knew that the only way she would get through all of this was to have him by her side, whole and hers.

He continued with his gentle ministrations, his soft touch smoothing over her body. He washed away the remnants of the day from every part of her skin, and at the same time gave her more love than he ever thought he was capable of possessing.

His hands came back to her shoulders, gently pushing her forward so he could pour water over her hair before reaching across for her favourite shampoo. He watched her eyes slip closed and something inside him seemed to break. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever known, inside and out. He couldn't even begin to think of a day without her by his side. Lifting his fingers he combed through her hair, pouring water over her wet strands to rinse out the shampoo. Fiona arched her back for him, her whole body surrendering to his gentle touch.

He was lost in her and this moment between them that expressed more of their feelings for each other than any words ever could.

He needed her closeness now just as much as she needed his. The knowledge that they could have lost each other caused him to reach for her to pull her back towards him again so he could wrap his arms around her from behind.

Fiona fell back into his embrace, her own need for him overpowering all conscious thoughts as she turned into his chest, her wet body soaking into him as she buried her head in the crook of his neck.

They clung to each other desperately, as if the events of the day had crumbled down their defensive walls to bring them together stronger than ever.

"I could have lost you," she whispered into his neck, her arms tightening around his shoulders. "Don't let me go," she whimpered against him, pulling him tighter. "Please don't let me go."

Pulling away slowly, Michael's eyes travelled down to hers, trying in some way to convey to her just how much she meant to him. He could drown in her gaze; willingly fall into her welcoming depths if it meant he could stay there forever, and at that moment he didn't care about anything else but this woman before him.

One hand left her shoulder to glide up over her skin, leaving goose bumps over her flesh as he came to rest the palm of his hand over her face. Their eyes spoke volumes, both needing more than mere touches alone as they slowly gravitated together, their lips meeting in one gentle touch.

The kiss lasted only seconds, but it was enough. That one gentle touch conveyed the overflowing burst of devotion that had kept them woven together for so many years. They were bound together in an unspoken love, so strong that no one could ever come between them.

Silently, Michael drew away from her arms to reach for the bath towel then stood to his feet. His eyes locked with hers once more as he unfolded the towel to hold it open for her.

Smiling, she pushed herself upwards to stand before him, linking her eyes with his as they drifted together once more. She wanted to tell him she loved him, and no matter how far apart they were she would always love him. The words bubbled on her tongue, aching to be spoken but they weren't the kind of couple who needed words. She knew he loved her just as much as she loved him, and that was enough for now.

Michael wrapped the towel around her body, holding her close to him as her gently encased his arms around her to lift her from the tub. Their eyes came together, unblinking, only to gaze into the others with a knowing smile.

Placing her feet onto the floor, Michael was reluctant to draw away from her. So much had happened to them over the years, things that could have torn them apart but had only brought them closer. He knew this latest incident, no matter how painful, would soon be chalked up as one of those very things that shaped them.

Their eyes spoke volumes, neither of them needing words as they gazed at each other. Turning her around so her back was towards him, he began to move his hands over her shoulders, drying the droplets of water from every part of her skin as he smoothed the towel down her slender body.

Fiona's eyes closed with the sensations, succumbing to his soft caresses as his fingers danced over her exposed skin. Leaning backwards she fell into his chest, the warmth of his skin burning hers causing a soft sigh to escape from her lips.

His hands slid over her shoulders to her chest, drying her delicately with every ounce of self-control he could muster. He was finding it near impossible to keep his lips from the soft flesh of her inviting skin.

Fiona leaned further into him in total surrender, his touch coursing heated fire throughout her body as he moved his hands skilfully over her. The act of drying was long forgotten as images began to cloud her mind. She knew he could feel the magnetic pulse between them, pulling them together. She ached to kiss him but he was so tender and so very gentle that she didn't want to break this moment.

The call of her lips was becoming near impossible to ignore as Michael tried desperately to keep in control. She needed him to heal her, not seduce her but he was finding it increasingly difficult to pull away. With a sigh he kissed her again, his lips lingering over hers before slowly moving away to reach down to pull the plug out of the tub.

Fiona's body leaned into his automatically when he returned to her, guiding her towel-clad body towards their bed. Her eyes lingered over the comforter for a few seconds before he guided her over to sit onto the soft mattress.

He came to sit next to her, the bed dipping with the extra weight and leaned closer into her body. His arms snaked around her waist, pulling her to him once more as one of his hands came up to comb his fingers through her hair.

She leaned back into his chest, the feel of his body calming her senses. She needed him so much, even more than she would ever dare admit. No matter how much they had been through in the past, despite all of the pain they had caused one another, she had always come back to him.

Leaving her side, he reached over to her dresser beside the bed and pulled a brush from her drawer. He looked down at the brush in his hand thoughtfully before turning her slightly. He ran the brush through her hair, his hands following its path to smooth down the wet strands with loving fingers.

Fiona lost herself in his touch, his intimate caresses lulling her senses into overdrive as he continued to pour his love into her body. She could remember the handful of times he had brushed her hair and nothing had ever seemed more intimate to her.

When he moved away to replace the brush back in the drawer, she found herself missing the loss of his touch. She wanted to feel his arms around her again and to feel protected in his warm embrace. When he turned back towards her, her eyes pleaded with him to return to her.

A smile danced over his lips as he slowly stood before her. Reaching out a hand he traced his fingers over her face before moving to pick up one of his dress shirts that he'd laid on the bed earlier.

Their eyes drifted together again as he held it out to her, conveying without words that he wanted to take care of her. He smiled when she moved to stand before him as she slid the towel from her body. He couldn't tear his eyes away from her. She came to him in total surrender, needing him to make her whole and he found himself stepping towards her with the shirt open in his hands.

He slid the soft material over her skin, covering her naked body with warmth as his fingers roamed over her arms until he reached the buttons over her chest.

She closed her eyes as he touched her skin, her arms hanging limply by her sides as she let him fasten the shirt together. His gentle touch sent tremors throughout her body until she opened her eyes again to see him watching her.

Wordlessly he stepped beside her to pull the covers off of the bed for her. He returned her gaze as he gently manoeuvred her towards the soft mattress.

She followed him with trusting eyes as she slowly sank into the bed, allowing him to cover her body with the soft duvet until she suddenly realised he wasn't lying down with her.

Sitting up, she grabbed his hand, tugging him towards her to sit on the bed beside her before lying back down onto the pillows to watch his reaction.

"I was just going to turn off the light," he chided softly, reaching down to press a soft kiss on her forehead. "I'll be right back, okay?"

She watched him; her eyes trained on his retreating form and immediately felt so incredibly foolish. She wasn't a child afraid of being alone so why was she feeling so scared? She was so consumed in her attempt to hide her emotions that she didn't hear him come back towards the bed.

He moved to his side of the bed as he began to slip his unbuttoned shirt off of his shoulders, letting the material fall from his arms as he tossed it onto the floor. He lifted his eyes to hers as he unfastened his pants and pushed them to the floor, all the while wondering how they had got to be so comfortable with each other.

Fiona closed her eyes when she felt the bed dip as he climbed in. She waited for him to get comfortable before she turned on to her side to move into his arms, burrowing herself into his embrace as he banished all the hurt away with his touch.

"We'll be okay," he whispered into her damp hair as he felt her settle in his arms.

Fiona snuggled closer into his chest, resting her head beneath his chin as a new sense of peace invaded her whole body, casting the demons of the day away.

"As long as we're together," she whispered into his chest, feeling his arms tighten around her as she spoke.

"We will be," he promised, his breath fanning her hair. "Always."

The End