Burn Notice: I don't own it, I just like to play with it.
A Heart Exposed
September 6, 2012 - Michael and I were married today, and we're now on our way to Paris. I'm sorry to say I had doubts that this day would ever come. Now that it has, I couldn't be happier. And the fact that Michael surprised me with a trip to Paris that has nothing at all to do with his work, well, I'm ecstatic. As I wrote in earlier passages, we cleared up a lot of things that plagued our relationship for years. Michael has promised that his work will not possess him as it once did, and if he falls into that trap again, he's asked me, and everyone else in his life, to intervene by whatever means are necessary. His dedication to the two of us and our new life is astounding. Tears spring to my eyes when I think of the words he spoke today, promising me that I would be his first and foremost love in his life. I don't know what that means for his future with the CIA. Time will tell.
He's sleeping on the flight, but not me. I'm too excited. I want to be awake when we approach the city and see the sparkling lights. I haven't seen the Eiffel Tower in years, especially at night, and I am so looking forward to it. I'm also eager to see the intimate little hotel suite that Michael booked for us, just a stone's throw away from shopping and museums, and there's the most delicious little coffee shop on the corner that has the best French pastries. This will be the best week of my life. I just know it!
September 13, 2012 - We were supposed to stay longer, but something has come up at home. I suppose I really couldn't have expected Michael to completely divorce himself from the CIA. At least now I'm certain that he loves me, and we spent a good amount of time discussing whether he should answer the call or ignore it. In the end, I was the one who convinced him to take it; this is a test for me, and I just have to learn to share him with his government. We're heading back today, but I'll be glad for the time we had in Paris and cherish it forever. Perhaps Paris can wait for us to return again someday and treat us to perfect weather, perfect scenery, and the perfect little suite where we spent so much time.
Michael took enough time to drop his suitcase in the loft, give Fiona a lingering goodbye kiss that sent a tingle through both of them, and head out again. He arrived at the CIA offices and found Sam waiting, leaning against the Cadillac, giving him a cocked smile as he parked next to him.
"Hey, Mikey, regards comme Paris est bon pour vous." His smile stretched across his face.
"I said, looks like Paris was good to you." Sam scowled. "Jeez, you went there and you didn't even know the language?"
"Guess my French is more than a little rusty, Sam." Michael shrugged. "Besides, we didn't do a lot of... interacting... with the people."
Sam laughed. "Yeah, well, as long as your Russian is good, we're all set."
"We're going to Russia?" Michael let out a breath and glanced up at the sky.
"No, just getting in with some Russian buddies. Come on, our new CIA contact is waiting for us." Sam let out a long breath as he peeled himself off the Cadillac and led the way to the building.
"Somehow I have a feeling that it's not someone I'm going to like."
"Remember Bailey? The bushier half of the two stooges I had a run in with in Columbia?"
Michael's eyes grew wide. The names Bailey and Menaro brought back the unpleasant memory of when his plan to use heroin dealer Carmelo to find a stolen drone went south and Sam's life was in danger. Their inaction almost cost his best friend his life, but Sam was able to talk himself out of it, and with a little help from a pair of bugged specs, the team scored another save. After the lack of concern and inaction from the two agents, Michael hoped he'd never see either of them again. "No!"
"Yeah. I was told it's only temporary. I hope it's true."
Great. This could be a living nightmare! Michael held his sense of dread close to himself and hoped that whatever the CIA wanted him to do wouldn't turn into a fiasco. With Sam by his side, no doubt the two of them could minimize the damage.
"Are there any other landmines you'd like to clue me in on?" The two walked up to the building and entered the heavily air conditioned interior. It felt good against the late summer blast of heat and humidity.
"None that I know of. I just got the call from Bailey only because he was looking for you and your phone was off."
"Yeah, I did that on purpose."
"Thanks, man. I know you wanted to have an uninterrupted honeymoon, but the guy kept hounding me, looking for you. I finally had to call your hotel and have them give you a message! And it's a good thing I know some French, pal, or you never would have gotten the message and you'd really be in the dog house now!"
"Sorry, Sam." The little inn where he and Fiona stayed lacked one thing: English speaking staff. "While we were in Paris, I relied on Fiona's command of the language to get us through."
Sam let out a deep sigh. "It's okay. I should be glad you took off a week and isolated yourself. You, and Fi, needed it." The two stopped at the reception desk.
"I'm Michael Westen, and this is Sam Axe. We're here to see Agent Bailey."
The woman looked up at Michael and gave him a smile. "He's expecting you both, Mr. Westen. Third floor, room 345."
"Thanks." He signed in, and Sam added his signature on the line below Michael's.
Since Sam wasn't affiliated with the CIA, she handed him a visitor's badge, which he clipped onto the pocket of his yellow and green frond printed hawaiian shirt. She shook her head at the sight of the bright colors, and Sam knew without a doubt Bailey would hate it. He didn't care. Irritating Bailey almost made the visit worthwhile.
Michael led the way to the office, and when the two entered, they found Bailey hunched over his desk, studying a folder. Menaro stood to his right, pointing at something on the page. Michael heard Sam exhale, and he looked over at him with an expression that warned his friend to behave. He didn't need to be on the outs again because of a personality clash.
"Westen," Bailey greeted him with a monotone. He blinked at the glaring vision that Sam's shirt and white pants gave him. "Axe. Have a seat, I'll be right with you."
Sam's eyes slid to meet Michael's before he located the chair a few feet away from the desk and sat. Michael took the other and pulled it closer before sitting. The duo behind the desk kept them waiting for several minutes in silence as they read the file.
Finally, Bailey spoke. "I think it's our best course of action."
"That's what I thought. I'll get right on it."
Bailey cleared his throat and closed the file, then gave it to Menaro, who walked away and entered another room. "Sorry, it's another case in the pipeline. For you two, we've got something else."
"Fine. What is it?" Michael glared at him. He really had no patience for posturing and power games, and he perceived Bailey and Manaro's little act before the meeting to be such a thing. He wasn't impressed when he first met them, and he was even less impressed now. He just wanted to get this over with, do the job, and go home to Fi.
"You know there's a real Russian presence in Miami, and that there are ties to the Russian mob within the city. This week, tomorrow, as a matter of fact, Sergei Chernovsky is bringing his family to Miami for a little R & R, and of course, to do business."
"So? That happens a lot. What's the big deal about this guy," Sam asked.
Bailey narrowed his eyes at Sam and slid a picture across the desk. "This is the guy. And his wife and daughter." He paused to let them study the photos. "The difference here is, Chernovsky is actually a CIA operative. He's worked in Russia for years, done a lot of good for us, all the while he conducts his own 'personal' business on the side." He sighed and sat back in his chair. "Someone found out about the connection, and they tried to kill him. Yeah, he's just a Russian mob scumbag, but he's our Russian mob scumbag, and we'd like to keep him alive for awhile yet. So your job will be to keep him safe while he and his family are here."
"Babysitting duty. That's all this is?" Michael tossed the photos onto the desk. "You interrupted my honeymoon for this?" He wanted to launch himself over the desk and squeeze the guy's neck with both hands like it was a giant stress ball, but that would hardly win him points in the CIA.
"I could have handled this alone, Bailey," Sam said with a chill in his voice. He suspected that because of the agent's animosity toward him, Michael took the brunt of Bailey's desire to pay him back. If true, this was a majorly low blow.
"No, you couldn't, Axe. I need both of you, oh yeah, and that girl of yours, Westen. Phoebe."
"My wife, Fiona," Michael responded through gritted teeth. He gripped the arm rests to keep himself from launching himself out of the chair.
"Yeah, her!" Bailey waved his hand casually in the air as he leaned forward again. "She can watch over the wife and daughter, take them shopping or something while they're here."
"And Sam and I will watch Chernovsky."
"One of you take one shift, one takes the other. Simple as that." He smiled slightly. "I know you two boys can handle it. I'm sorry, Westen, you know better than anybody that not all CIA ops are glamorous and involve shooting and blowing up things." He laughed. "Think of it as a little vacation from your usual activities."
"We start this tomorrow?"
"Yes." Bailey pulled a file from the side of his desk, opened it, and slipped out a couple sheets of paper. "This is his itinerary. The wife and daughter will probably be more flexible, so Fiona will have to talk to them and arrange everything. Make sure she stays in contact with you so you can coordinate the pair's coming and goings."
Michael tilted his head and stared at Bailey. Seriously, is he trying to tell me how to do my job? He glossed over his offense with a smile. "Don't worry, Bailey. We'll take care of things."
"Great." Bailey nodded his head. He looked like one of those bobble head basset hounds that people stick in the back of their cars. "Well then, I better let you two go and prepare." His head stopped moving when he set his gaze on Sam. "And Axe, please dress appropriately."
Sam pursed his lips to keep himself from saying something he'd regret later. He straightened, clenched his hands into fists, and relaxed. "Not a problem, Bailey. I always look the part." Then he turned on his heel and strode out of the room with Michael beside him.
"Well, we survived that," Michael spoke softly as the two moved toward the elevator.
"Barely. The nerve of that guy! Who does he think he is, anyway? He started out as a tech geek, and now he thinks he can tell us how to do our jobs!"
Michael pressed the down button and looked at Sam. "Don't let him get to you. It'll make his day, and you know it." A slow smile spread across his face. "You got one up on him, though, with that shirt. Did you see his reaction?"
Sam mirrored the smile. "Yeah. Wouldn't it be something if he had to go undercover some day dressed like this? I think it would kill him!" He stepped into the elevator with Michael, and the picture of both Bailey and Manaro in attire similar to Sam's was too much. Their laughter echoed off the stainless steel walls inside on the journey to the first floor.