Chapter 11

"Michael," Fiona spoke his name as he absently played with a lock of her hair. She lay in the crook of his arm, snuggled close.

"Yes, Fi."

"How did you get me out of jail?"

"The diaries Anson left told about how he planted the bombs in the British Consulate. There were other pieces of evidence, once they bothered to look at what they had, that pointed to him. So there was no longer a reason to hold you. Other than killing Larry." He paused and shifted so he faced her. "But the CIA wasn't interested in prosecuting you for that."

"Of course. The government wouldn't want to publicize a rogue agent attempting to undermine his country."

"Exactly. When I had my debrief, I made sure that the director knew that if the state continued to hold you without cause, there could be... issues." He smiled. "He was only too happy to arrange for your release."

"I was afraid you had to sign your life away to a new devil."

"No. I lost too much being a slave to the agency, then the burn notice, and finally Anson. I'm done with all that."

Her eyes widened and her breath caught. "Done? You're quitting the agency?"

"Not quite." He gave her a small smile. "I'll still do some jobs for them, but on a limited basis. Right now, I want to take some time off, time for us, because I haven't done that. I haven't given you the time you deserve."

"Thank you, Michael." Her hand roved over his chest, but he captured it and held it, his thumb tracing patterns in her palm.

"Fi, you don't have to thank me. I did it for you, and for us." His voice, choked with emotion, came out in a whisper. "I know now how much you love me, and what did I do? I left you no choice but to give yourself up for me, an act I didn't merit. Then, when you were gone, I couldn't stand being without you."

"You were in my heart, from before the time I walked up those steps of the Federal building, to the time I walked out of the prison a free woman." She leaned over him and kissed him slowly. "You never once left my side." She kissed him again. "I love you."

"I love you, Fi." He took her in his arms, and pressed his cheek into her hair. "And I'm sorry that I didn't love you the way I should have. I want to make that up to you, starting now." He kissed her, pressing her close, and showed her the depth of his feelings.

In the morning light, he looked down at her, still entrenched in sleep. His fingers played with her hair, mussed and tangled from the night before. He never thought she looked more beautiful. She'd gone through so much, waited so many years for him to truly love her the way she loved him. When she gave herself up, it was the ultimate sacrifice. No way could he ignore the seriousness and depth of her emotions, and there was no way he could continue to deny that his ran just as strong and deep for her.

"I would do anything, give up anything, for you, Fi," he mumbled. Despite a stab of pain, he twisted and laid a kiss on her cheek as his fingertips played lightly over the side of her face.

Fiona's eyelids fluttered open and she looked up at him. "Michael? Are you okay?"

His smile was bright as he answered, "Never better, Fi." He kissed her deeply, and she molded herself to him. He ignored the unpleasant signals his body was giving him, because he wanted her to know that he meant what he said. He would give anything for her, even personal comfort. When he broke away, they were both breathless, so he spent a few moments just looking deep into her eyes and caressing her. "Fi, we need to talk. I need to talk."

"About what?"

Michael turned away, put his feet on the floor and got into his pajama bottoms. Then he turned and stood, held out a hand for her to get up and get dressed. "I need to talk about what I've done to you for the past six years, seven, eight, whatever. However long it's been since we've known each other."

Fiona smiled with amusement. Leave it to a man to forget how long! "The time doesn't matter." She got up and threw on a robe, then sat down on the bed again.

"But it does, because I wasted so much of it on this burn notice, and my job, and everything but our relationship." He sat beside her. "What matters is that I didn't love you. I mean, I didn't treat you like I loved you, when all this time I did. And I do." He groaned and ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "I don't know how to do this!" His head rose and he looked directly at her. "I was so focused, obsessed really, on finding out who burned me. Through it all you stood beside me, helped me, and loved me even when I didn't show you my love." The word came out in a whisper as a look of agony crossed his face as he asked, "Why?"

"Love is patient, Michael." Fiona answered with a smile, as if it were really that simple. Come to think of it, it was, now that she understood that he truly did love her and that he'd been hiding the depth of his feelings for so long.

"Then you must love me a whole lot, Fi! You should have left a long time ago!" Tears stung his eyes.

"I did, sort of, when I dated Campbell. I tried so hard to get you to be jealous." She shook her head. "But your head was too far buried in your burn notice to see."

"No, I saw. I knew what you were doing, and I was jealous." He shook his head. "There were times I wanted to beat up something, rather than face the reason you did it. Then I tried to tell myself that you were better off with him because I could never give you what you wanted."

"Only you can give me what I want."

"I know that now." He reached out and took her into his arms. Into her hair, he said, "Thank you, Fi, for not giving up. I don't deserve the kind of love you've given me. I shouldn't get a second, or even a third, chance. But you've given that and more, time and time again." He sniffled. "You're too good for me."

"No, I'm not." She pulled back and placed a finger on his lips. "We were meant to be together, and nothing will change that. That is why I stayed and put up with everything. You are mine, and I am yours. Forever." Her voice was a whisper, but to Michael's ears it sounded like an angel song.

"Fi, if I ask you to marry me, will you ever regret saying 'yes'?"

"I don't think so," she replied with a smile. "Are you asking?"

He framed her face with his hands. "Yes."

Her smile widened and turned into a grin. "Yes."

A soft moan came out of Michael, and he captured her lips with his. "I'm sorry..." He kissed her. "I wasted... so much time..."

"I forgive you." Fiona spoke. "Now, let's not waste any more."

The team remained incommunicado for a week. Jesse returned from his vacation, still hurting but rested. As he got off the plane, his phone rang. "Hello?"

"Jesse, are you back in the States?"

"Yeah, I just got off the plane. I need to grab my luggage, and then I'm heading home. What's up?"

Michael answered with a light tone, something Jesse hadn't heard in awhile. "I want to ask you to meet us at my Ma's house. In a couple hours."

"Sure, I'll be there. What's up?"

"I can't tell you over the phone. Please, just show up."

Jesse let out a small chuckle. "Sure, no problem. Everything's okay? You and Fi good?"

There was a hesitation, but when Michael answered, he couldn't detect anything wrong. "We're good. We'll see you in a couple hours."

The conversation ended, and Jesse shook his head. He didn't know what to make of that phone call, but as Michael's friend, he would be there. They'd been through some tough times together with Fi and Sam. So whatever it was that Michael needed help with, he would be there.

Sam's phone rang as he and Perry finished their last round walking the pool perimeter. It was good exercise for Elsa's father, and a little rehab for him to get his leg back in shape. "Mikey! How are ya? Haven't heard from you in a week. Things with you and Fi okay?"

"We're fine, Sam. How's the leg?"

"Getting better every day. It's no big deal, just a flesh wound, remember?" He glanced at Perry and mirrored the grin the older man wore.

"Yeah. Anyway, the reason I called Sam, is I need you."

Sam's expression sobered. "Sure brother, what is it?"

"Come to Ma's house. Can you be here in an hour?"

"Yeah, sure. What's up?" He shrugged at Perry's look of concern.

"Nothing's wrong. Just show up, bring Elsa, and... and dress up a little."

Sam's eyebrows rose. Something serious was happening. "Okay, we'll be there. Talk to you later, brother!"

"Is everything okay," Perry asked.

"I think so." Sam still looked puzzled. "Mike wants me and Elsa to be at his mom's house in an hour. Something is going on, but I've got no idea what it is. He wouldn't say. Usually it has something to do with a mission when he's that secretive." He shook his head. "I don't know."

"You better get a move on, then. You have fifty eight minutes and twenty nine seconds." Perry grinned and slapped his back lightly. "Elsa's over there." He pointed to the outdoor bar, where she stood talking with the bartender.

"Thanks, Perry. I'll see you later." Sam quickened his pace, at least as much as he could, and approached her. "Elsa, honey, we've gotta go to Mike's mom's house. Something is up, I don't know what it is, but he asked that we be there in an hour. Less than an hour now."

"Okay." She turned back to the bartender. "Remember what I said."

"Yes, Ms. Holloway."

Sam grabbed her elbow and gently pulled her away toward the elevators. They rode up to the penthouse and changed, and as they left, Perry got off the elevator. He smiled at them and said, "You two have a good time."

Sam's eyebrow rose. "Do you know something we don't?"

"Nope! You both just look like you're going off to have fun." He smiled. "Make sure you have my daughter home by ten." He winked, turned and laughed as he entered the living area.

"I don't know why he gets such a charge out of that." Elsa muttered as they got into the elevator. "I haven't been home before ten since I was in high school!"

The couple arrived at Maddie's and entered the back door as usual after announcing their arrival. Maddie was in the kitchen, her hands full of plates of food that she carried into the dining room.

"Do you need help with anything?"

Maddie turned to Elsa, a wide smile on her face. "Oh, no thanks, honey! I'm just glad you could make it! Fiona and Michael have kept this under wraps like it was a big op or something, and I've been so happy for them..." She broke off and let out a breath. "They're getting married. Today."

Surprised, to say the least, Sam asked, "Why didn't Mike say something?"

Maddie shrugged. "He wanted to keep it a surprise even to his best friend. Don't ask me why, but he did."

Elsa looked up at Sam, and he mirrored the surprised expression on her face. "Who, um, who will be their witnesses?"

"Well, Sam, of course! And a friend of Fiona's. Her name is Lillian." She set the plates down on the already filled table. In the center, a simple, yet elegant, white frosted tiered cake stood out from everything else. "Lillian made the cake. Isn't it beautiful?"

Sam glanced at Maddie. In her eyes, was certain that a mud pie would have been beautiful, as long as her older son was marrying the woman of his dreams. "It's nice."

"Don't mind him, Maddie. Guys just don't get it."

"Come on in the living room, Elsa, and you can meet Lillian!"

Left alone, Sam looked over the spread and snatched an olive from the relish tray. He popped it into his mouth as the guest room door opened and Michael appeared in a dark suit. Sam gave him a good once over and smiled. "You look good, Mikey!"

"Thanks," Michael smiled thinly.

"Hey," Sam closed the distance between them and spoke softly. "Are you nervous?"

"I haven't been this terrified since... well, a really really long time. What's wrong with me?"

"Come on, let's go out back." On the way, he took a quick detour into the kitchen and pulled out a couple of beers from the fridge. He pushed Michael out the back door with one hand and joined him in the shadows under a tree. "It's a hot one today. Here, take this. You need it."

"Thanks, Sam." He twisted the cap, but it wouldn't budge. Growing quickly frustrated, he gasped when it cut into his hand.

"You okay?" Sam easily popped the top off his bottle and handed it to him. "I'll take that one. You didn't cut yourself, did you?"

Michael held the bottle in the hand he scraped and shook his head. "No, I'm fine. Except for being nervous." He took a large swallow of his beer.

"Don't worry, Mike, everybody goes through this. I'd be more worried about you if you weren't suffering from the jitters!" He took a swig of his beer. "It'll be fine."

"This is for real, Sam. Forever."

"I know. I think you can handle that." He winked at his friend. "So when did you guys decide to tie the knot?"

"The day after we got back and Fi was out of jail. I woke up that morning, and i just watched her sleep." Michael developed a dreamy look in his eyes as he remembered it. "I couldn't make her wait anymore. We would probably have gone that day and gotten married, but you know, we had to get a license and all that."

"There's always Vegas." Sam teased, and he laughed at the face Michael gave him.

"I wanted this to be right. Fi didn't want anything big, just close family." He sighed. "Unfortunately, none of hers could make it. We were hoping if we held off a week it would give them time to arrange it, but things in Ireland right now are... well, it's complicated. Not even Sean could make it."

"That's too bad. So who's this Lillian?"

"An old school friend of Fi's. She jumped at the chance to come. She's never been to America, and this was as good a reason as any!" Michael smiled.

"Feeling a little better?"

"Yeah." He held up the bottle. "I think this is helping a little. Having you here helps a lot. Have I ever told you how glad I am that I took that assignment from Lucy, the one she asked you to help her with? If it hadn't been for that, who knows how long it would have been before you and I got back together."

"Who knows what would have happened if you hadn't had my help on that case, huh?"

"I could have done it alone."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah, here you go with the lone wolf crap again. Remember what we agreed?"

"You agreed, I'm just going along with it." Michael's eyes held a mischievous sparkle. "No, I promise, we're a team and that's the way it'll stay."

"Boys, the minister is here, and Fiona is ready! Come on inside!" Maddie called them from the back door.

"Well, this is it," Sam said as he took the empty bottle from Michael's hand.

"Yeah. This is it." He swallowed and turned toward the house.

"Got any plans for afterwards?"

Michael looked back and replied with a smile, "We're going to Paris for a week... or two."

Sam grinned. "Congratulations, Mike! Now, that's what I'm talkin' about! Get away from Miami for awhile, relax, and have fun." He frowned, put a hand on Michael's shoulder, and stopped him in the laundry room. "Now, wait a minute. You're not going on a mission, are you?"

"No," he replied with a growing smile. "The only mission I'm on is to make Fi happy."

"Well then, you better get your butt into that living room and get started!"