"Three days," Michael sighed and pinched his temples with his thumb and index finger, closed his eyes, and let the soft morning breeze sweep at his face. The winds off the ocean were kind and a little cool, allowing Sam to drive with the windows open. "It's been three days and she hasn't awakened yet."
"These things take time sometimes. The doctor told you that, remember?"
"Yeah." Michael fell silent for nearly the entire trip. As Sam pulled into the lot, he remarked in a voice so soft, Sam almost didn't hear him. "Compared to Fi, I'm pretty weak."
"What?" Sam parked in a space, turned off the car, and stared at him. "Why do you say that?"
Michael rested his head against the seat back and replied, "I've been reading her diaries, Sam." He opened his eyes and looked at his friend's bewildered face. "It's been a real enlightening experience, let me tell you. I didn't realize exactly what I was putting her through all these years. I was being a... a selfish fool. She deserved better than what I gave her."
"I thought you two have already been over that. She's forgiven you."
"I know. But I was reminded again, and I learned that what I was asking forgiveness for wasn't quite everything I'd done." A disgusted expression marred his features. "Sam, she forgave me all that... it's unbelievable!"
"It just goes to show how much she loves you. And now that you know, do something about it. Don't keep going down the same path."
"I have no intention of making the same mistakes. And Sam, if you see me doing it, I don't know, knock me upside the head or something. Just telling me may not be enough."
The corner of Sam's mouth tipped up. "I'll keep that in mind. You don't know how many times I wanted to say something, but I just knew you'd never listen. You didn't have the perspective you have now." They got out of the car and walked toward the hospital entrance. "I mean, look at that time you wanted to get money from Carla to pay for Jack's medical bills, because you promised his dad you'd get the money and then things fell apart."
Ducking his head, Michael said, "I'm sorry about beating you up, Sam. I should have just listened and stood down. You were the level head, and you were right."
"Well, that's another example where you need to listen to those around you. Sometimes we know what we're talking about." He smiled, patted Michael's back between the shoulder blades, and walked with him up to Fiona's room.
That day, Michael brought along a small bag. Inside, he carried a book she had been reading before the bombing, and her diary from last year. After what he'd already put himself through, he knew that the 2011 book would be the most brutal to read. He scanned a few snippets before Sam picked him up, just to get a preview. It was enough to make him think twice about opening it again, and once he was seated beside Fiona's bed, he chose the novel first and opened it where she stuck the bookmark. It was the middle of a chapter, which he thought was odd. Then, with a private smile, he remembered why she ended so abruptly. He leaned forward, took her hand in his and massaged it gently. She'd been talking about how riveting this book was, but yet she dropped it to spend quality time with him.
"Fi, I'm going to back up a chapter and read this for you. Maybe you'll hear it, maybe you won't. I just..." His voice caught in his throat. "I just want to do this... After all you've done for me, it's the least I can do."
Sam's phone rang. He got out of his seat and said, "I'll be right back. Start without me." He winked and was gone from the room.
As promised, Michael went back to the previous chapter and began to read. It was a sweet romance novel, not his type of thing, but he persevered for her. He made it through two chapters, but Sam still hadn't returned. He read two more, then another. Concerned, he stopped reading.
"Fi, I'm going to go see if I can find Sam, or at least give him a call. I'll be back soon." He leaned over the rail and kissed her forehead. Her eyelashes fluttered slightly, but they'd done that yesterday too when he kissed her goodbye. Maybe it was progress. He added a caress of her cheek, hoping that she would react, but her face showed no acknowledgement of his action. "Okay, I'll be right back."
Michael stepped out into the hall and looked one way, then the other. He didn't see Sam anywhere. He went into the waiting area on the floor and it was empty. On the way back to Fiona's room, he stopped one of the nurses.
"Hey, did you see my friend leave? He's a guy my height, graying hair, normal build... he wears the Hawaiian shirts..."
"Oh yeah." The nurse grinned. "I saw him a little while ago on the phone, and he was heading for the elevators. He looked distressed about something."
"Thanks." The nurse went on her way, and Michael pulled out his phone and dialed. It went to voice mail. "Sam, when you get this, please give me a call. Tell me what happened, why you had to take off so fast without letting me know. I'm worried." It suddenly hit him that the message was unlike anything he'd ever left for Sam before. Becoming more aware of how he treated Fi left him open to explore how he'd treated his family and his best friend, and to change the way he handled things going forward.
Until he heard from Sam, Michael would sit with Fiona and wait, but he couldn't bring himself to read the novel. Fiona would have to do that herself when she was able. When, not if, he told himself. He dropped the book into the bag, pulled out her diary, and opened it to a random page.
There's a new kind of evil in Michael's life. I thought Larry was bad, and when I blew him up, I felt a great sense of relief. It was over, and maybe Michael could learn to relax with all the old monkeys off his back. But we learned that Anson wasn't the poor man in distress as we first thought. He was the one pulling all the strings. He burned Michael in an attempt to recruit him and use him to his own despicable ends. He's proving to be more tenacious than any of the others: Carla, Management, Strickler, Vaughn. They were all child's play compared to Anson. And it's not just Michael who is under his control now.
He used my assassination of Larry to frame me for the bombing of the building in which the British Consulate was housed, killing two innocent guards. Now if Michael doesn't do what Anson wants him to, he's threatened to go to the police with the evidence they need to try and convict me of their deaths. Somehow, I don't think it will matter one way or the other. Anson will orchestrate things so that I am led to my execution, and he will be free to manipulate Michael. It kills me to think that there is nothing any of us can do. My only course of action is to turn myself in and set the record straight before Anson releases his false information. I may go to jail for the rest of my life, but at least Anson will have no leverage against Michael and he can then turn on Anson and destroy him.
I can't believe that Sam actually agreed with me! From the first day, we were at each other's throats. Working with Michael, we were forced into a truce of sorts. As time went by, our frozen stalemate melted. We both thawed even more when he asked me for advice on women. I asked him for advice on Michael, since he knew him long before I did. Little by little, we learned to respect each other and bond over our common love for Michael, to the point where I almost feel like Sam is a brother.
He thought he heard Fiona make a sound, so Michael lifted his head and studied her. She didn't move a muscle, to his disappointment. He tried Sam's number again, got his voice mail, and left another message. Then he flipped to the last pages of the diary and read them.
I tried to convince Michael that my plan was the best course of action, but he wouldn't listen. I have never been so angry at him as I am now! It didn't help that he chained me to the grating on the stairs with a handcuff, and he took off to leave me screaming his name after him. I put every ounce of my ire into trying to pull free, but I only rubbed my wrist raw. Then Sam showed up, and when I saw the pained look on his face, I felt like I was seeing an angel come to save me. I quickly explained what happened as he freed me from the stairs, and he surprised me again by helping to formulate a plan.
We had little time to lose. I quickly penned a note to Michael, and when Sam promised to give it to him, I had no doubt he would do it. Then I had to do something that I'd wanted to do when Sam and I were enemies. As he fastened the handcuff to his wrist, and attached the other to the stairs, he practically begged me to hit him with something that would leave a mark. I don't know what I used, because if I thought about it, I wouldn't have been able to do it. It made me sick to my stomach, but somehow I managed to clock him good enough to knock him out for a short while. I'm writing this down, so that some day, Michael, if you read this, you'll know what we did for you. If there had been any other way, I wouldn't have hesitated. But this was it. We needed to do something to squash Anson's plan. I'm sorry, my love. I hope that my letter was a better explanation. I have to go now. I will always love you.
The last lines were blurred. Michael sniffled, wiped furiously at his eyes with the back of his hand, and reached for some tissues in a small box on the tray table. It was then that he noticed Fiona's arm moved. He laid his on the rail, and her hand brushed it.
"Fi! Come on, Fi, open your eyes. Open your eyes and look at me." His words came out between the tears. The diary lay forgotten on the couch behind him, and he reached for her flailing hand to hold it in his strong hands. He placed kisses on her fingers. They curled at his touch, which only made him tear up more.
Then Fiona's eyes opened, and she slowly smiled at him. "Michael." Her voice was hoarse after so many days of not being used.
"Fi. Thank God you're awake. I've been waiting for three days to see you look at me again." He leaned forward and placed a feather light kiss on her lips. "I'm sorry, my love, for everything I've done to hurt you."
Fiona looked at him, incomprehension in her eyes. "I've already forgiven you."
"But there was so much more. I know that now." He sniffled as he stroked her hair.
"Don't worry about it, Michael." Her eyes slid closed again.
"It's okay. Just need to rest."
"Oh." He looked around, not sure what to do. He saw a shadow in the hall, and then Sam entered the room. "Sam! Where have you been? I've been trying to call you!"
"Sorry, Mike, I just got your voice mails. Perry fell and wrecked his knee. Elsa was all freaked about it, so I went back to the hotel to take care of things." He paused as he glanced at Fiona and saw her eyes open. A slow, wide grin spread across his face. "Hey Fi, you don't know how glad we are to see you awake!"
"How's Perry," she asked.
"Oh, he'll be fine. He's in ortho right now. We could have taken him to a different hospital, but Elsa insisted he go to trauma care. Sheesh!" He shook his head. "Even he was protesting all the way!"
"That's good to hear, that he'll be okay," Michael said. He turned his attention back to Fiona. "Do you need anything?"
She shook her head and nestled her cheek into his hand. "Nothing, except for you by my side. Forever."
He grinned. "You've already got that! You just need to get better and come home!" He kissed her lips, and he felt that old familiar flame shoot through him as she responded. When he broke away, his voice was gruff. "Fi, be careful with that. You're playing with fire!" He glanced back to where Sam had been standing, but some time during that kiss he made himself scarce. Just one of many reasons why you're my best friend, Sam. You've got great timing!
Michael wanted to stay beyond normal visiting hours and insisted on taking a cab home. Sam reluctantly left when general visiting hours were over and went back to the hotel with Elsa. But before he did so, he resolved that he wouldn't let his friend rely on some two-bit hack to get him home. He took out his keys and slapped them into Michael's palm.
"The keys to my new Caddy. Take it home with you tonight, and Elsa and I will swing by the loft tomorrow and pick it up." He paused, and with a wink added, "Just don't blow it up or get into an accident or anything. Elsa will skin me alive."
Michael chuckled and his hand closed around the keys. "Thanks, Sam. I'll treat it like it was my own."
Sam frowned. "That's what I was afraid of." At the sight of Michael's expression falling into a frown, he said, "Hey, just kidding! I know you'll take care of it. See you tomorrow. Night, Fi." He stepped to the other side of the bed, leaned over, and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Thank you, Sam, for helping Michael through this."
Sam nodded. "No problem." He turned and left the room. "Later, Mikey!"
When he arrived home, Michael was too excited to sleep. All he could think about was the fact that Fiona was awake. Tomorrow they would run tests to see how her injury was healing, and maybe she could be moved to a regular room. Or even come home.
He put the old diary in the trunk and pulled out the one under Fi's pillow. He opened it to the first blank page and took it to the bar. On the way, he took a pen from a drawer nearby and sat on the stool, staring at the page for a few moments. It was her diary. He didn't have one of his own, because in his line of work, keeping a journal was about as foolish as tweeting your mission for everyone to see.
The cap fit over the rounded end of the pen. Michael tapped it against his teeth as he sat in thought. Then he began to write.
My dear, adoring wife, Fiona,
I've loved you for a long time now, but I realize how inadequately I expressed my feelings. Please don't try to brush it off or excuse it, because there is no justification for what I've done. Yes, we've discussed this before, and you've forgiven me. But I feel that there is no amount of forgiveness that can wipe away the depth of my transgressions against you. I need to feel the pain you felt as an atonement for my sins. When you're feeling better we can talk about this.
I want you to spill out your heart to me. Lock away these books, because these thoughts and feelings should be given to me to hold, and I will find a way to soothe your frustrations and pain. You have exposed your heart to me in your diaries. I hope you can forgive me for invading your privacy that way, but now that I have, I don't ever want anything to be secret between us again. Give me your heart, the good and the bad, and I promise I will do the same. We'll cry together, laugh together, and heal together.
I pledge this with all my love.
"Fi, if you get tired, let me know."
"Michael," Fiona groaned. His arm circled her waist and he held onto her hand with his free one as he led her up the stairs to the loft a couple days later. "You don't have to baby me!"
"Okay, but I think when we're up there, you should lay down for awhile and rest." His eyes locked on hers.
She saw the fear in his and smiled. "Only if you lay with me."
"I've got to..." He was about to say he had to go to the CIA offices for a meeting with Bailey, but he stopped himself. "Okay, Fi. Just for a little while." Baby steps. He would stay with her until she fell asleep, go to the meeting, and return before she woke up.
The two made it upstairs with no trouble, and he stayed by her side to let her down on the bed. His phone rang, but he ignored it until she looked up at him. "You better get that. It might be important."
"Not nearly as important as you." He smiled.
Fiona tilted her head. "Just get it, please?"
He closed his eyes and dropped his head in defeat. "Fine." He snapped into it, "Who is it?" He listened and winced as Bailey gave him an earful. "Yeah, I'll be right in. I'm just getting Fiona settled at home." He let out a deep sigh as he closed the connection and held her with one arm. "I'm sorry, Fi. Bailey's hot to get me into the office. I've gotta go, but I'll be back real soon. I promise!"
"Don't worry. I'll be waiting." She kissed his lips and sent him on his way.
The loft door squealed and thudded behind him, followed by the rub of metal on metal as the key turned the tumblers and locked the door. She flung her arms wide and fell back onto the bed, her body crosswise on the mattress. She rolled to her side and felt the lump of her journal under the pillow. A knowing smile crossed her face. She heard Michael admit that he looked at her diaries, and she wondered what he thought of whatever he'd read. She opened to the last page and received her answer in his half page confession and plea.
"Oh, Michael!" She read it three times, then closed the book, hugged it to her chest, and whispered to the silence. "I promise, Michael. You and I will never need to pour our hearts out on paper again." A warm tear slid down her cheek. "There will be no need for secrets, not in our home."
She looked forward to when he came home, so she could tell him in person.