He stayed in Belfast far longer than good sense would dictate. The family's feelings about him had been made perfectly and painfully clear at the wake and even Sean hadn't the heart to intervene on his behalf. The brothers found him a few days later drunk at a pub in Sandy Row. Each sharing a righteous outrage that the man they blamed for their sister's death hadn't vacated the country as they had specifically ordered. They pulled him out of the pub and not a single bystander interfered as they dragged him the short way to the waterfront. After a few kicks to the gut, the brothers tossed him on a ferry to England with an explicit warning to never come back.

After that, he lost track of Westen for a few weeks until the he turned up in Birmingham. His people had been alerted when Westen drained one of his recently unfrozen accounts. As there were much quieter ways of getting money from Swiss accounts and Michael was no fool, Anson smelled a rat. The obviousness of it was disturbing, but then again the obviousness of the obviousness was even more disturbing. It was such a game that spies played when they wanted to do something without their motives being guessed.

To further muddle the puzzle, Westen was observed paying off a seemingly exorbitant gambling debt. Michael wasn't the Westen with a weakness for gambling yet the thug was a legitimate gangster with no ties to the CIA or any other organization that Westen had ever associated with. After the exchange, Anson was mildly surprised that the thug didn't pass the money off to any widows, orphans or old ladies. No, the man kicked the money up the shark chain to his boss who was never known to do the right thing.

Anson was perplexed.

After losing him again in London, Anson widened the search only to discover Westen a few weeks later in Amsterdam where he was held briefly on a medical evaluation after being found passed out in a gutter in the city centre with injuries suggesting a brutal fight. After he was released, he promptly disappeared again. In the mean time, Anson learned that Karl Volchoski had been found dead in his posh Amsterdam apartment. Volchoski, also known as the Russian arms dealer who had offered a very, very generous bounty for Westen's head, had died from strangulation after a vicious fight.

Within a month, three more Westen enemies turned up dead. The one thing all of those had in common was their very vocal hatred and their willingness to pay good money to see him dead. It was clear that Westen was cleaning house but the whys of his action escaped him.

The CIA seemed to not have caught on to Westen's activities. He had been contracted for a simple job in Krakow but Westen did the unexpected and blew the assignment. In fact, his failure had been so spectacular that no one at the CIA would be contracting with him for some time. Anson did not fail to notice that the failure had not resulted in any deaths or injuries. His spidey sense tingled again.

When Westen ventured too close for comfort to his house in Nice, Anson decided it was time for a face to face. On his terms. He sent his two of his best recent recruits to roust Westen out of the cheap hotel he'd been holed up in. Westen didn't put up a fight and sat quietly in the back of the Mercedes taking in the scenery. While it couldn't have escaped his attention the reason for the lack of blindfolds or hoods, he didn't appear to be concerned and seemed content to take in the scenery on the long meandering route to Anson.

"I'm truly sorry about Ms. Glenanne," Anson greeted him, gesturing for Westen to sit on the plush easy chair opposite his own. He really was sorry, too. Sorry to such talent wasted.

Other than a slight clenching of the jaw, Westen didn't react. Anson drummed his fingers on the side table never taking his eyes off him. The impeccable Michael Westen looked a wreck. His normally well-trimmed hair was shaggy and unkempt. The handsome face was pale, drawn and overdue for a shave by at least a week. He just couldn't believe Michael Westen would implode so completely and so quickly. The shrink in him was curious to understand how a broken heart could send a man supreme in the art of self-control on such a rampage. Revenge couldn't be the cause as none of the recently departed foes had been even remotely implicated in the botched bombing that killed Ms. Glenanne. No, the sad truth was that the lovely Fiona had simply used up her reserve of a bomber's luck.

Anson asked him what he wanted, if his intention was to drink his way through Europe until his money ran out.

His men stood silently behind Westen as they all waited for his answer. Westen stared at Anson, either thinking about answering or how he was going to kill him. One of his men shifted, uncomfortable with the silence. Anson smiled; the man could stand the screams of a tortured victim but give him an uncomfortable silence and he fidgets like a boy in Sunday school.

"To be left alone," Westen finally said in a quiet voice.

Anson shook his head. "That brain of yours…your skills…too valuable to just let go to waste."

Westen grinned without the slightest trace of the charm for which he was known, his mind searching for the right words but, as if the act of smiling was too much of an effort, the grin faded. Looking Anson directly in the eye, he said, "I just don't have it in me anymore."

It was more of a sincere answer than Anson expected but he believed it and that worried him. The problem was everything was just so believable. He couldn't figure out what Westen's game was, whether there was a game or had the man really lost it? There was one thing he did know without the slightest trace of doubt: Westen wanted him dead. You could practically smell it in the air. Every twitch, every furtive glance in his direction, every step he'd taken while seemingly roaming about Europe was all about killing him.

"I don't like knowing someone with your skills and motivation wants me dead. It's a thing for me." Anson watched him carefully feeling unexpectedly sad that his association with Westen would end so fruitlessly. "As you know, I prefer to operate in secrecy. Many may hate me and wish me dead but they don't know who I am. You do. That's a problem for me."

"I suppose it is."

Anson sighed. "Michael, I understand you are very angry with me and I deserve that anger but I'm not going to let you kill me."


The word was so meaningless that it caught Anson off guard. He expected rage, confrontation, a scathing remark, but not a simple 'Okay'. Anson shook his head; his interest in this endeavor waning as he realized his long chase of Westen was finally over.

"How about a drink first?"

There it was, the slightest hint of the old Westen sarcasm. Anson nodded to the man behind Westen indicating he should get them a drink.

It was the second to last thing he ever did.

The last thing was to scream.

For anyone caring to look, the trail for Michael Westen went cold in Nigeria. Which was how he wanted it. Anson, the last remnant of the Machine that changed his life, was dead but since it seemed like that organization had more lives than a cat Michael didn't take any chances.

From Nigeria, he doubled back across the continent until he ended up in Cote D'Ivoire. There, he signed on to the first westbound freighter. It was a job that got him on the ship to Brazil. The work was hard but monotonous but it was perfect as his head needed clearing from the extreme paranoia that had dogged him for the previous six months. He arrived in Sao Luis oddly refreshed and eagerly made his way to Argentina as quickly as he dared. There was still a month to go but if he was late he would never forgive himself.

The Argentine town was a good one. Not too small but small enough not to be of interest or to have much in the way of public security cameras. There were enough European and American expatriates and tourists frequenting the area so non-locals didn't stand out.

He found her sitting at a sidewalk café on the plaza reading a book looking like she hadn't a care in the world.

She was not surprised when he sat down on the chair next to her but he heard her sigh of relief. Her hand grasped his tightly and they looked at each other for a minute. "You made it," she said softly, her Irish creeping back. "It's done, then?"

"No one's looking for us now." He scooted his chair closer to hers, bringing her hand to his lips for a soft kiss. "Sorry I'm later than I said."

She tried for a brave smile. "I'm too terrified to be angry."

His eyes took in the brightly colored shawl that was wrapped around her. She smiled again, drawing his hand under the shawl.

"And isn't that the scariest thing you've ever felt?" she whispered in his ear.

"We'll be alright, Fi." He smiled as his hand caressed the hard swell of her belly. "We'll be alright.