Disclaimer: I still don't own Burn Notice unfortunately.
This is a one shot based on the 6x04 episode.
She held onto the phone long after the line grew silent, cradling it against her chest as she mentally tried to let go.
A/N: As always a huge thank you to Purdy's Pal and JediSkysinger for reading through this and for their encouragement to continue it. Also thank you to DaisyDay for continuing to brighten my day with laughter
Bring Her Home
Madeline's mind was still trying to process what Michael had told after her visit to the loft that morning. She busied herself with household chores to stop herself from worrying, but how could she not after what he'd told her? Part of her was still a little angry with him for not calling her the second he'd seen Fiona.
Her beloved 'daughter in law' had been gone for over a month now and she'd been more than a little anxious to hear how she was. So she'd sat in her chair watching her cell phone, smoking one cigarette after another. As the time wore on she'd grown steadily worse, becoming more and more annoyed as each second passed. She just wanted to hear from him to tell her that the woman they both loved was okay, but he hadn't called, and that just left her furious.
That was until she'd gone over to the loft to confront him. At first she'd been ready to berate him for not keeping her informed but all of her anger had melted away the second he'd turned to face her. Neither of them had paid much attention to Sam who'd made himself scarce, unwilling to get caught up in their confrontation.
"She's important to me too, Michael," she told him, worry causing her to snap her words.
She was so mad at him and at the same time she was scared for him. He wasn't the same man that he was when Fiona was around. Her presence calmed him and since she'd been gone she hadn't seen him even smile. When he didn't answer right away she prepared herself to do battle for some information, but he surprised her again when he turned around.
His eyes were haunted and he looked like he hadn't slept at all. He had the same look on his face that he'd had as a boy, defeated and totally numb by the things he'd seen. Taking a step closer she was trying to think of something reassuring to say but stopped when he lifted his eyes to hers.
"She's tired," he told her, his voice shaking ever so slightly. "She's scared…and she's not eating enough."
Madeline's heart raced inside her chest and all she could think of was her beautiful Fiona scared and alone in that god awful place. Her mind screamed at her, chanting 'my poor baby' over and over. This whole thing was a nightmare, one whole mess that she wished she could fix, but she couldn't.
"Someone's trying to kill her," his voice brought her attention back to him and her mouth dropped open in shock.
"Probably Anson," he told her, the words coming out on a sigh. "We found a middle man, he's a dirty prison guard living down in the Everglades."
Madeline's eyes filled with worry when she watched him zip up the bag he'd been filling with ammunition and anchored it over his shoulder. Turning to look at her he told her what she already suspected. "That's where we're headed to now."
Moving forward she clutched the strap of her bag tighter and waited for him to turn to look at her before she swallowed down the lump that had lodged itself in her throat.
"Do you think he'll tell you anything?"
Michael's eyes narrowed with determination and emitted a spark that filled her with hope. "I know he will," he told her simply before he turned away and walked out of the door, leaving her to stare after his retreating form.
She had waited for a few seconds before she found her feet and began to move until something stopped her. A glint from one of Fiona's snowglobes caught her attention and she suddenly found herself battling with a sudden onslaught of tears. Turning towards them she reached out to touch one, running her fingertip over the surface to leave a clear mark in the dust that had accumulated over the globe.
Without thinking Madeline slid her bag off of her shoulder and pulled her bag open to rummage around for the pack of tissues she always carried with her. When she located the pack beneath her cigarette pouch and some old receipts, she pulled them out and threw her bag onto the chair before she pulled a tissue out and opened it wide. Stepping closer she blinked at the moisture gathering in her eyes before she carefully ran the tissue over a glass globe, wiping the layer of dust away as tears rolled down her cheeks.
That was over an hour ago and she hadn't heard a thing from Michael or Sam. Looking around the room her eyes fell onto the picture of Michael and Fiona, the same one she'd had copied for Michael to take to the prison. It was the only photograph she had of the two of them together and she hadn't wanted to part with it, just in case.
When she handed two copies to Michael she knew he'd been thrown by her gesture. His eyes had lingered over the photo in his hands before he ran his fingertips over Fiona's face. Her heart had broken for him, and she knew he'd been struggling to remain in control, so when all he did was swallow heavily and nod to her before he moved towards the door, she knew she had done the right thing.
Tearing her eyes away from the photograph she moved back towards the laundry basket and tried to focus on menial tasks, anything to take her thoughts off Fiona but no matter what she did she just couldn't get her out of her mind.
The sudden interruption of the phone ringing brought her to a standstill and she dropped the laundry basket onto the floor before she made her way towards it.
Plucking the receiver from the cradle on the wall she placed it against her ear. "Hello."
She could barely hear the mechanical voice on the other end of the line as her heartbeat thumped wildly inside her chest. Moving quickly she pressed a shaky finger to the number one button and sank down into the chair beneath the phone.
"Fiona, honey…" she breathed as she tried to stop herself from bursting into tears.
"Madeline…it's good to hear your voice."
"You too," Madeline gushed torn between ecstasy and sorrow. "Are you okay? You know Michael…I can barely get two words out of him."
"I'm fine," Fiona told her, but her voice held none of the vibrancy Madeline was accustomed to hearing. "I need to get a message to Michael, it's urgent."
"Honey Michael's in the Everglades, working on…" she looked around her suspiciously. "Well he's working on something we probably shouldn't be talking about on this line…"
"This has to happen fast," Fiona's voice lowered and Madeline strained to hear her over the thudding of her heartbeat in her ear.
"Give me the details," Madeline told her, knowing she would move heaven and earth for the woman on the phone. Reaching forward she pulled a piece of paper from across the table and poised her pen over the blank sheet. "We'll work something out."
Listening intently Madeline wrote down the details and tried to keep quiet and not blurt out how much she missed her for fear of breaking down completely. When she'd got the details she sank back in her chair and held on tightly to the phone, pressing it against her ear.
"Honey, did you get the picture I sent you?" she asked. "I wanted you to have something from home."
Fiona's voice hitched a little before she answered, her words coming out softly. "Yes, I did…thank you Madeline…it's…"
"I know Fi," Madeline told her softly when she could hear the break in her voice. "We miss you too."
"It's okay baby," Madeline's voice shook as much as Fiona's did and she wished with all of her heart that she could crawl through the phone and pull her into her arms. "I know…"
"I have to go…but…" her voice trailed away for a second and Madeline found herself holding her breath. "Madeline…I…"
"I love you too sweetheart," Madeline told her softly, trying desperately not to crumble when she heard Fiona's soft goodbye.
She held onto the phone long after the line grew silent, cradling it against her chest as she mentally tried to let go. Glancing down at the address she'd written on the paper she slowly replaced the phone back into its cradle before she reached down to pluck her keys from the table. If Fiona needed something then she was damn well determined to get it for her.
"You hang tight honey," she whispered under her breath as she grabbed her bag and walked out of the door, knowing that she would do anything for her daughter.
Madeline was surprised that she'd found the address with relative ease, all she needed now was the courage to back up the promise she'd made. Glancing out of the window towards the building where she needed to go, she could already feel her pulse rate rising. There were a group of men in front of the building and the neighbourhood was different to what she was used to but even though inside she was quivering with apprehension, she knew she had to do this for Fiona. Taking out her cell phone she dialled Michael's number, hoping to hear his voice but all she got was his recorded message. Closing the phone again she threw it into the glove box and looked back towards the apartment block, gathering every ounce of bravery she could muster.
Taking a deep breath she opened the door and stepped out of the car, keeping her eyes on the people around the building. When none of them paid her any attention she slowly made her way towards the metal staircase and began to climb them.
Knocking on the door she stood back a little and looked around her, not really knowing what to expect. She knew Michael would berate her for coming out here alone, and if Nate was around today she probably would have brought him with her for support.
The door suddenly opened, bringing her attention back to the task at hand and she was suddenly taken aback by the gruff looking man at the door.
"You lost grandma?" he asked snidely as he looked at her through the chained opening.
Trying to ignore his intimidating stare she shook herself internally and tried to calm her nerves. "Uh, you don't know me, but Ayn sent me…I'm here for—"
"I know what you're here for," he told her with a grin as he closed the door again to take off the chain. When he opened the door wide he gestured to her to enter, watching her intently as she stepped over the threshold.
Once she was inside, she looked around the pokey room before she returned her eyes to him, trying to keep the tremble out of her voice. "Do you have it?"
"Yeah, I have it," he told her gruffly, his eyes still unreadable. "So how do you know Ayn?"
Madeline was suddenly thrown by the question but she forced her body to cooperate when she turned to glance up at him before dropping her eyes away again. "Oh…she's a…friend of a friend," she told him nervously when he took a step closer towards her. Looking towards the table she noticed a pack of cigarettes and gestures towards them. "Can…can I have one of your cigarettes?"
For the first time the man before her smiled, his friendly gesture catching her off guard. "Of course you can have a cigarette." Moving towards them he picked them off of the table and pulled one out of the pack but before he handed it over he changed again. "But you know what you can't have?"
Alarm bells began to ring inside Madeline's head. She'd witnessed enough of this behaviour from the years of abuse she'd suffered at the hands of her husband. Frank had had the same look on his face when he was about to turn. Before she even knew what was happening the man before her surged towards her shoving her face against the wall. "You can't have the package."
His voice rose when she turned slightly to look at him as he loomed closer, his vile breath invading her senses. "What was Ayn thinking huh? Sending an old lady…did she think I'd feel sorry for you?"
Fiona's voice echoed inside her head reminding her how much was at stake so before she could even think she turned towards him, prepared to offer him whatever she could.
"Look I can't leave here without it," and she couldn't, she'd promised Fiona. "If you want money—"
Within seconds he was on her again, his large hand gripping tightly around her throat. His eyes bulged, a memory she already knew so well, as well as the balled fist poised above her face.
"SHUT UP," he yelled, his words causing her to turn her head to the side. "The last guy who came looking for the package left without his teeth…"
His grip on her throat suddenly released and he stood back laughing cruelly at the damage he'd inflicted on the last man who came here. When he saw what he'd done to the old woman pressed against the wall, her eyes wide with terror, he couldn't help but laugh. It had been a long time since he'd seen fear in a woman's eyes; he'd forgotten how much of a rush it gave him. Moving closer towards her again, he leaned in closer, his fowl breath blowing strands of her hair away from her face.
"Don't worry…I'm gonna leave your teeth right where they are, but you can give Ayn a message for me." Moving closer he grabbed her again, squeezing her arm as he spoke. "Tell that BITCH if she wants her stuff, she can come and get it herself."
Madeline's heart was thudding inside her chest when he suddenly released her and allowed her to move towards the door. She didn't look back, not once, because she already knew she would see this scene in her nightmares, only this time it wouldn't just be Frank making an appearance.
"Get out of here," he told her, his words turning into laughter when she rushed out of the door, pleased with himself for instilling fear into the old woman.
The second she was outside she didn't stop until she'd raced down the staircase and climbed into the safety of her car. Once inside she locked all of the doors and started the car, her shaking hands trying to turn the steering wheel to get her away from this awful place. When she got far enough away she stopped the car and pulled a cigarette out of a new pack she'd just brought and lifted it shakily to her lips before she lit it.
Taking a long drag she sat back in her seat and tried to think of what to do. Fiona needed her, and despite her fear she still needed to get that package just like she'd promised, she just couldn't do it on her own.
Reaching forward she reached inside the glove box and pulled her cell phone out, redialling Michael's number, this time hoping it was the recorded message at the other end. Stubbing the cigarette out she sat back in her seat. Closing her eyes she waited until the recording of his voice told her to leave a message before she started speaking.
"Michael," she spoke shakily. "Now honey I don't want you to worry…but I got a call from Fi…she sounds awful Michael…how could you not tell me she sounds so awful?" Her voice broke and she sniffed back the tears that built up in her eyes and began to speak again. "Anyway…she needs a package taking to the prison but the guy who has it is a bastard…he shoved me against a wall. I don't think I can do it alone…I need to get it for her and I promised…" a sob escaped her throat and she placed her free hand over her mouth to muffle the sound. "Just call me…please…when you get this…"
Snapping the phone closed, she threw it onto the seat and started the car again, heading towards the sanctuary of home.
There hadn't been any phone call to announce his arrival, just the screech of car tyres when he pulled up outside her house. There were no questions, just sheer determination when he strode through the door looking completely exhausted.
"What did he do to you?" he asked lowly when he stepped forward to check her for bruising.
"I'm fine Michael," she told him, batting his hands away from her face. "It's only my pride that's hurt."
"And Fiona?" he asked when he stepped away from her to fold his arms across his chest. "How did she sound when she called?"
"Beautiful," she told him, the emotion in her voice causing her voice to break. Taking a breath she controlled her breathing and reached for a fresh cigarette from the pack on the table. "She sounded so beautiful."
The words struck him into silence and he nodded slowly before his eyes caught sight of the paper with the address next to her cigarette box. Moving towards it he snatched it up before he turned to look back at her. "Let's do this."
"Honey you're tired..."
"So is Fi," he snapped as he moved towards the door, nodding when she turned to follow him out towards the charger.
She could see his jaw twitching angrily on the entire drive over and she knew his silence was dangerous. When they eventually pulled up outside the apartment block she knew reasoning with him at this stage was pointless, but she tried anyway.
"Michael you've been driving all night," she told him as she tried to keep up with her son who marched towards the building she'd left a short time ago. "You haven't even changed your clothes, are you sure you want to do this?"
"Knock on the door, let him see you and step to the side," he told her calmly as he strode up the staircase while she tried to keep up.
"Fiona said nine am, even if we left in five minutes we'll—"
"Knock on the door," he repeated in a voice she knew only too well. "Let him see you and step to the side."
Madeline cast him a worried look before she did as he asked and knocked on the door. She could see that he was already exhausted but there was something else there too. He wasn't just angry about her treatment from the man inside this apartment, he was upset that he'd missed a chance to talk to Fiona too, and she knew by the look in his eyes that he was about to lose his temper.
When the door opened the same smarmy man with the vile smile quipped about her not liking her teeth. Everything happened in a blur when he took the chain off and opened the door wider. Stepping back like Michael had told her she watched in a daze when he surged forward and delivered a punch to the vile man's face before he grabbed his arm behind him and marched him towards the fridge where he promptly smashed his face against the metal surface only to pull him back again..
"WHERE'S THE PACKAGE?" he growled, smashing the man's face against the fridge again, much harder this time that the force split his forehead to leave a blood trail.
"What package?" he protested weakly only to have his face slammed back into the hunk of metal for providing the wrong answer.
"WHERE IS IT?" Michael growled again, this time taking a tighter handful of the man's hair to grip it inbetween his fingers.
"IT'S OVER THERE…" the vile man hissed waving his hand in the general direction of a desk. "The left drawer."
Madeline stepped around her son and rushed across towards the desk and pulled the drawer. "It's locked."
Michael grabbed his captives head again before pulling it back, ready to repeat his earlier actions. "Where's the key?"
When Ayn's ex husband didn't respond right away, Michael pulled his head back again to repeat the process until the man's hand waved around in the air. "Wait…it's in the jar…over there."
Madeline rushed towards the glass jaw to tip the contents out onto the kitchen surface as she heard the crack of the vile man's head again when her son propelled his head back against the fridge. Grabbing a key she moved back towards the desk and turned the lock but not before she heard Michael issue another warning followed closely by another meeting of flesh against metal.
The drawer opened and she grabbed the only package that she could see inside and pulled it out. "Is this it?" she asked quickly holding it up to the man who had blood running down his face. "IS THIS IT?"
"YESSSS…" he cried painfully when Michael yanked harder on his arm, still unwilling to let him go.
Madeline raced towards the door only to look back at her son impatiently. "Come on Michael, we have to go."
For a moment he didn't respond and she feared she had lost him to his fury but then he turned, and the eyes that stared back at her were eyes she hadn't seen in a very long time. Without even flinching he yanked the arm he had locked in his grip and pulled hard until he heard a crack, and only then did the light return to his eyes.
"ARGHHHH…What was that for…"
Leaning closer to the man he had pinned against the fridge Michael hissed out the words that would stay with Ayn's ex husband forever. "That's for my mom."
The car ride away from the prison was made in virtual silence, neither of them really knowing what to say. Michael knew he should have gone inside the prison but Madeline insisted she should do it, because she'd promised Fiona that she would help her.
He knew exactly how she was going to feel when she came out of that place because it would no doubt be the same feelings he went through too. All he wanted was to take Fiona with him, and leaving her behind just hurt more than any wound ever could.
"That place is awful," Madeline spoke at last, her voice shaking. "They wouldn't even let me leave a message for her…Michael—"
"I know," he told her softly, his voice breaking through hers. "I…"
"It hurt you too," she nodded as she reached for a cigarette. "I just want her home."
Michael grew silent again and she knew his mind wasn't here with her at this moment; it was with the woman they both missed terribly.
"She sounded so tired," she told him brokenly when a lone tear escaped from her eyes to carve a track down her cheek. "She said she's fine but I know she isn't. She didn't sound like…"
"Like what?" he asked then as he glanced at her before returning his eyes to the road.
"She didn't sound like our Fi…that wasn't her…I…" her voice broke and she turned her head away so he couldn't see the wetness on her face.
"I know mom," he told her brokenly as he reached out to wrap his hand over her arm. "But I'm going to get her out of there…if it's the last thing I ever do…"
Madeline turned towards him and saw the pain etched in his eyes. Nodding her head she wrapped her fingers around his on her arm and held on tight before she nodded knowingly.
"You will honey," she told him. "And when you bring her home don't ever let her go."
Releasing his hand she sat back against the seat and slipped back into the silence that had surrounded them only moments ago. She had every faith in him and he had shown her with his actions just how much he loved the woman who had given up her freedom to protect him.
"I will," he told her, his voice so soft she almost didn't hear him. Turning her head towards him she nodded silently and smiled at the determination in his eyes.
"She's a lucky girl," she told him, unable to hide the affection in her voice. "She has you fighting for her, and she has your devotion."
When he didn't respond she smiled anyway and settled back into her seat, closing her eyes. Fiona would be home, she knew it. Michael wouldn't let her stay in that awful place any longer than she had to and he'd bring her back home where she belonged…and when that day came she would be right there with him to welcome her home…