Burn Notice and its characters: I don't own them, I just like to play with them.
Fiona sat in the middle of the bed, surrounded by magazines open to pictures and articles. Swatch books intermingled with them, looking like the after-effects of a fashion bomb. She scrunched her eyes closed and pressed the heels of her hands to them, feeling a headache coming on. This was how Michael and Sam found her as they entered the loft. Michael eyed her from across the room, concerned about how much time she was putting into this project. If it were up to him, they would just go to the courthouse to take care of this immediately and get married. That is, if he didn't want to live beyond the 'I do's'. He'd left her hanging and waiting for this for a long time. She deserved her day, and as long as it didn't cost him every penny of what he'd managed to save up over the past few years, he had no problem with it.
"Fi, are you okay?"
"Yes, Michael, I'm fine. I just can't seem to make up my mind on which dress I like, what colors...there are too many choices!"
"I thought my mom was helping you with all that." Michael sat on the edge of the bed and studied the seemingly chaotic mess. "Here, how about this one? I think that would look terrific on you, Fi." He held up the magazine below his chin and smiled at her.
"Oh, I like that one too, but now I can't get it!" She ripped the magazine out of his hand. "You've seen it, and that's bad luck!"
"Uh, Fi, I think you've got that wrong," Sam said as he pulled a beer from the fridge. "It's only bad luck if he sees you in the dress before the wedding."
"And how would you know?" She set the magazine aside and picked up all the others. "Forget it, I'm going over to your mom's house, Michael. I'll get her input." By the time she finished stacking the magazines and swatch books, the pile required two tote bags and a lot of muscle for her to carry them. "You two don't need me for anything, do you?"
"No, Fi. We can handle this on our own." Michael gave her a kiss, and she was out the door.
"Wow." Sam twisted the cap off the bottle and took a swig. "Think she's a little stressed out over this wedding? I don't get that. Why do women make such a big deal out of it? If they only put that much time and energy into what happens after the ceremony, maybe..."
"Maybe, what?" Michael stared at Sam.
He shook his head. "Never mind. Forget I said anything."
Michael gave him a knowing smile. Sam had his own issues with getting married, being burned once and too shy to try again. He'd come so close with Veronica, but with his first marriage never being dissolved, he lost her.
"I know this is probably none of my business," Michael began as he pulled a yogurt from the fridge. "But...did you ever...end things...with Amanda?"
"You mean like a divorce?" He said the word as if it exhausted him just to speak it.
"Yeah, I did. I just didn't think it was worth making a big deal. I mean, you guys didn't even know I was married to begin with until that thing with Veronica. So yeah, it's over. I just don't want to make that mistake again." He looked at Michael with wide eyes, realizing what he'd said. "Not that you and Fi are making a mistake, Mike! I mean, you guys belong together like peanut butter and jelly, beer and nachos, steak and..."
"Are you hungry?"
"How'd you guess?" Sam asked with an innocent smile as he set his half-empty bottle on the bar. "Let's go grab something at Carlito's."
"I should check with Fi, to see if she has anything planned for supper." Michael got out his phone.
"Oh...oh no, it's already started!" Sam wore a horrified look.
"What?" Michael studied him, confused.
He replied in a soft voice, as if revealing a secret. "You're asking her permission to go out with the guys! Well, in this case, just me, but you know what I mean."
His friend's attempt at humor was lost on him. "Sam, it's not like that! I'm just...I'm being considerate, okay? Fi reminded me recently that...oh, never mind!" He dialed her number, and when she picked up, he said, "Fi, Sam and I are going to Carlito's. Is that going to put a crimp in any plans you might have had for tonight?" He listened for a few seconds. "Okay, good. I'll see you later, then."
"So the ball and chain gave you permission, huh?" He chuckled.
"If she were going out with friends, I'd expect her to do the same." Michael shot back. "Maybe if you'd thought of doing that, things might have been different between you and your wife." As soon as he said it, Michael wished he could take the words back. Just by the injured look on Sam's face, he knew he'd struck a nerve. "Sam, I'm sorry. I never should have said that. I don't know what went on with your marriage."
"I know. Otherwise you wouldn't have said what you said. It's okay, no big deal. Are you okay, Mike? You seem...tense."
Michael sighed and ran his hands through his hair. "I don't know, I think with all this stuff going on lately, and the wedding plans. It's just too much."
Michael let out a breath and leaned against the bar. "Baby stuff."
"Ah, you still thinking about Kira?" Sam watched the emotion play across his friend's face as he mentioned the little girl's name. "You miss her?"
"Yeah. I know Fi does." He looked at Sam with a warmth in his eyes. "She wants to start a family as soon as we get married. I kind of want to, but...it's scary, Sam. To have that kind of responsibility, and the uncertainty of what I do for a living, I'm still not sure it's the right thing."
Sam nodded and leaned closer to him. "Mike, you should talk to some of the other agents, the guys who have families. Or even the women who have families. See how they handle things, and then maybe it won't be so intimidating."
"That's a great idea. Thanks." A smile of relief crossed his face. "The only way I'll really know, short of plunging in myself, is to get some intel. It's so simple, but you know, sometimes it's hard to see the most obvious things."
"Oh yeah." Sam got off the stool and turned toward the door, a twinkle in his eye. "Come on, now that you've got that off your shoulders, let's go make some plans for the stag party! As your Best Man, I promise you it'll be one you'll never forget."
"You know, I'm not a party kind of guy."
"Don't worry, it'll be fun. Really!"
They got into Michael's car and he drove them to Carlito's. As he sat at a light, Michael thought about the short guest list for his bachelor party, as well as the wedding. He and Fi had come to rely on Sam and Jesse so completely as a team and as friends, that they really didn't have anyone as close to them in their lives, and now, as their nuptials were on the horizon, their wedding party consisted of Sam and Maddie as Best Man and Matron of Honor. The guest list wasn't much longer, and he thought it was kind of pathetic as far as weddings go. We would have been much better off just going to the courthouse!
A car horn blared behind him and he hit the gas. "Sorry, I was just thinking."
"Must have been pretty deep, brother. I was ready to check if you were still breathing."
"Funny, Sam." Michael found an empty space across the street from their favorite watering hole and parked. "I was just thinking about the wedding stuff. As far as this party, who's all being invited?"
"Well, it'll be a small affair, really. I haven't figured out yet what we're going to do, and that's why I wanted to talk with you about it." They sat at their usual table, ordered a couple of beers and a plate of nachos, and worked on the beers while they waited for their food to arrive. "What I want you to do is think about something that you never do, but you'd like to do."
"Just get the spy stuff out of your head for like five minutes, and think about what you'd want to do to relax and have fun."
Michael stared at his beer bottle, thinking, and a slow smile spread across his face. "Bowling."
"Yes. I haven't been bowling in years. Nate and I, sometimes when we had to get away from Dad, we'd go bowling." He grinned. "I always beat the pants off of him, and it drove him nuts." He looked up at Sam. "I think he's about ready for a rematch."
"Okay, bowling." Sam pulled a small notepad out of his shirt pocket and wrote that down. "Anything else?" Michael remained silent, with a look of deep concentration on his face. "How about skydiving?"
"You've gotta be kidding, Sam! I had enough of that in the Rangers, thanks." It was hard for him to keep a straight face. The things Sam came up with sometimes!
"I was just throwing it out there, trying to inspire your creativity, that's all." He smiled at his friend.
"Thanks, but no. No skydiving."
"I'd suggest paintball, but that's too much like work." Their nachos arrived, and he scooped up a chip laden with toppings. "I suppose we could just go bowling, get some dinner, and if you think of something while we're out, we'll just go for it. Nothing like a little spontaneity. Right?"
Michael looked around casually as he said, "It would be nice to just hang out with friends and watch a sunset. I know, it sounds weird, but you know, it's really low-key. That's what I would like. Nothing wild or crazy. I've got too much of that in my life on a daily basis."
"Okay, I think I have an idea." Sam grinned. "Don't worry, you'll have a night to remember, with no craziness."
"I think it's lovely, Fiona. Simple is good, and then you can pair it up with some fancy hairstyle, a big bouquet, and some elegant shoes." Maddie said with a smile as they finally agreed on a dress after two hours of looking over the books. "And I like this one for my dress. It doesn't overshadow your choice."
"But what color?" She held up a book of fabrics with a rainbow of colors to choose from. "I like this rose, or the aqua, or the peach. They'd all look good on you!" She sighed heavily and dropped the book on the table.
"Have you picked out what Michael and Sam will be wearing?"
"If I left it up to Michael, he'd just wear one of his tan suits." She made a face expressing her disgust. "I'd rather see him wear a light gray, if not white. After all, it is a summer wedding!"
Maddie tried to picture Michael in a white suit, but she couldn't see it. It looked a lot better on Sam. "I'd go with the gray, honey." She gave Fiona a long look. "Is there something bothering you, Fiona? Besides all the wedding planning details?"
Her eyes met Maddie's. There was no hiding the truth from Michael's mother when she looked at her like that. The older woman had been a mother for too long, and her radar so finely honed over the years, it was impossible to make excuses. "I suppose I should just get it off my chest. Maybe it'll make me feel better."
"What is it?" Maddie reached out and touched her hand that lay still over the book of fabric samples.
"I still think about Kira. It's been two months, and we only knew her for what, a week? Yet every day I think about her and wonder how she and her family are doing. Wonder if she'll ever remember us. If I...we...ever made an impact on her life."
"Of course you did! You, Michael and Sam saved her life. That's the biggest impact anyone could make."
"But in the grand scheme of things, it's over and done with." She shook her head. "It shouldn't matter. The other thing is that I miss her. I shouldn't feel this way, but I do. It's like a little piece of me was torn out when we had to give Kira back to her mother."
"Don't worry about it, honey. When you have your own, you'll fall in love all over again. You'll still remember Kira, but you'll have a child who will be yours completely and you'll love forever. Let's just take this one step at a time, though. Get through the wedding, then think about a family." Maddie leaned in closer and grinned. "I don't think Michael could take both at the same time."
"I think you're right about that, Madeline!" Fiona sighed as a weight fell off her shoulders. "I do feel better talking about it. Not that it really resolved anything, but it at least gave me something to think about and look forward to. If I focus on that, maybe it won't hurt so much missing Kira."
"Every day will get better, especially when you concentrate on planning your future." Maddie lit up a cigarette and asked, "Speaking of the future, what are your plans for the girls' night out? And what about a bridal shower?"
"Who would I invite to either of those, Maddie? Other than clients, most of whom are men...that leaves you, and me. Not much of a party." She made a face. "No offense. Not that having a party with you wouldn't be fun!"
"Hey, what about the girls we play poker with? We may be old, but we still know how to have a good time!"
Fiona couldn't imagine having a bachelorette party with a bunch of women old enough to be her grandmother, but then again, knowing how those ladies played cards, it might be interesting. She smiled. "Okay, since you're my Matron of Honor, I'll let you figure it out. Let's decide on your dress color, and then I'll worry about matching your colors with Sam's, and take care of Michael last. It'll just be easier that way."
"I like the aqua. I have a great pair of earrings that would go with it."
"Terrific!" Fiona glanced at her watch. "I think we might still have enough time to go to the bridal shop and get sized and order the dresses!"
Together, they each took a few of the books and hauled them to the car. "This is going to be so much fun! Frank and I didn't do anything like this when we got married." She paused, tossed her load into the back of Fiona's car, and looked up at the younger woman with a twinge of embarrassment. "To tell you the truth, Michael's father and I eloped. My parents didn't like him, and, well, after being with him for awhile, I could see why. I should have listened to them." Then she smiled. "But then I wouldn't have had Michael, or Nate, and I wouldn't be getting such a wonderful daughter-in-law!"
"Madeline, there's no need to butter me up. You're in the wedding no matter what!" Fiona grinned.
"I'm just being honest, Fiona. You're the best thing that's happened to Michael, and I'm glad that he's finally realized that!"
Fiona could have hugged her for that statement, but the car was in between them. "Let's go get something to eat after we're done at the bridal shop."
Maddie nodded. Fiona was the best choice for Michael, and it was about time they made their bond official. Getting the dresses ordered made it all the more real for both of them, and when they left the shop, the women were giddy with excitement. Two months. That's how long before the big day. Maddie wasn't sure which one of them was more eager for that day to come.