Disclaimer: I don't own Burn Notice or the characters unfortunately

This one shot is centred on the funeral scene from 6x07

A warm hand suddenly closed around his and his eyes sprung open to see the woman he loved beside him, her eyes wet with unshed tears.

A/N: Thank you to everyone for your reviews for my last one shot story. I really do appreciate every one of your comments, PM's and favourite author and story adds.

Thank you to Purdy's Pal for reading through this for me

Between The Darkness and the Light

There was a time when Michael Westen could keep his emotions in check without having to try very hard. He'd stayed away from home for ten years, feeding off of the hatred and anger that he still held for his father, but even the contempt for Frank Westen wasn't enough to stop his tears this time.

The funeral was over long ago and the church had emptied to leave just him sitting alone as he tried to find the courage to lift his head. He'd felt his mother's distance even though he'd been seated right beside her. She'd barely spoken two words to him since Nate had died and he hadn't been prepared for how much that had shattered him. He'd never been a mommy's boy, a protective one yes, but never a doting one. Nate had always been the baby, the one he had to save him from all of the scrapes he'd gotten himself into, but he never thought for one second that his baby brother's final act would be to save him.

Swallowing hard he lifted his eyes to the ceiling, focussing on anything that could keep his eyes away from the casket at the front of the small church. The silence around him was deafening, but he welcomed it all the same. He knew that Sam and Jesse hovered nearby, both of them not really knowing how to deal with his silence. So far only Sam had seen him almost break apart when he'd lost Fiona, but he'd kept himself together. His throat burned and he had a weight over his heart that crushed his chest until he could barely breathe.

Without warning the first tear burned a path down his cheek, terrifying him as he fought to keep in control. He closed his eyes and quickly wiped the evidence of his sorrow away, praying that no one could see him crumbling, but another tear followed in the same path before he could stem the flow. Breaking down like this had always terrified him; he'd always been seen as the man who didn't let emotions get in the way…but he just couldn't stop it this time.

A warm hand suddenly closed around his and his eyes sprung open to see the woman he loved beside him, her eyes wet with unshed tears.

"Fiona…" his voice choked as she moved a little closer and wrapped her arms around him.

"It's okay," she whispered, pulling him closer so that he could bury his face into her shoulder. Her own voice trembled as she held him. "It's okay to let go, Michael…Nate wouldn't want you to be strong for him…"

Her words caused the tears he'd been fighting to suddenly burst free and all she did was hold him. His heart ached and his eyes flooded, bursting through a wall of pain as he finally let go when she slipped a hand into his hair. His whole body shook against her as she pulled him closer, holding him in her protective embrace and shielding him from the outside world.

Every other sound around him died away until he could only hear the thudding of his own heart breaking. He couldn't do anything but cling to her as he cried, feeling so utterly absorbed when she only drew him in tighter to her body.

"It's okay," she whispered over and over, tugging him tighter when he burrowed his face deeper into her shoulder. Shifting even closer she kissed his head, burying her lips into his hair as he shook against her.

Her own eyes watered as she held him, squeezing him tighter in her attempt to help him through this. Since she'd been released from prison she'd wanted nothing more than to be with him, to lose herself in him, but it hadn't happened that way. They had all been moving a thousand miles a minutes since she'd been back and so far they hadn't even had time to be alone.

Michael felt her fingers threading through his hair, taking solace in her touch. He had missed her desperately, her absence piercing through his heart to leave him utterly desolate without her. It was that desolation that tore its way through him now, stripping away the layers of armour that he'd erected around himself.

When her soft lips kissed his temple, her gentle touch opened the floodgates, bringing sobs that were muffled by her protective embrace. He didn't want to ever leave the security of her arms, she allowed him to release his anguish while surrounding him at the same time and he was forever grateful to have her by his side.

He had no idea how long they were seated inside the small church but when he finally felt strong enough to lift his head, he found his eyes focussed only on the woman before him. His throat was sore and his eyes stung but when she lifted one of her hands to cradle his face in her palm, he knew that he couldn't ever get through this nightmare without her.

Fiona's arms loosened around him as she slowly slid her hands up his back and shoulders, before tracing her fingers down his arms to clasp his hands in hers. Her presence gave him the strength to lift his eyes to his brother's motionless body even though he couldn't let go of her hand. Silently she leant against him, tracing her free hand up and down his arm.

After what seemed like hours, Sam came back into the church and hovered in the walkway, his eyes looking on sympathetically at the man who he had always regarded as his kin. Taking a breath he took a step forward and opened his mouth to speak but clamped his mouth closed when Fiona lifted her eyes to his and shook her head.

Nodding silently, Sam took a step backwards and made his way back outside the church, leaving Fiona and Michael alone with Nate once more.

"We have to go soon," she whispered softly, kissing his ear as she spoke. "We can't stay here—"

"I can't leave him," he croaked, his eyes watering again when he returned his gaze to the man in the casket. "He—"

"He's not going to be alone," Fiona told him softly, stopping his words before they could emerge. Reaching her fingers up to his chin she turned his face so that she could see his eyes. Moving forward she kissed his lips softly before pulling back again. "Claire will take care of him."

She could see his eyes cloud over when she mentioned her sister's name and she could almost see the realisations dawning in his eyes. His mouth opened and closed as he fought to tell her just how much he needed her but once against she seemed to read his mind.

Shaking her head, she swallowed the lump in her throat and offered him a watery smile as she shifted her gaze towards the man she had always regarded as her brother in law. Her sister had lain in a similar casket all those years ago but she could still remember the pain that ripped through her family even now.

"It's time to say goodbye," she told him softly as she leant in closer to rest her forehead against his, lowering her voice into a whisper. "Michael…"

Michael closed his eyes only to open them just as quickly when he pulled away and nodded silently. He moved to stand, his eyes avoiding his brother's body as he held onto her hand, drawing strength from her touch. He pulled her up with him, unwilling to let her go even for a second because he knew she was the only one who was keeping him from crumbling completely.

"Come on," she urged softly as she gently guided him towards the church door, leaning against him to offer him as much support as she could. "Everyone's waiting for us."

They began to walk slowly, each step feeling heavier than the last until the sunlight beckoned them to the world outside and to their friends who had gathered there to wait for Nate to take his final journey. He knew his mother wouldn't speak to him, and he guessed that she had every right to hate him…he just couldn't deal with her rejection…not right now…

His thoughts scattered when the sunlight hit his eyes and he blinked rapidly, unsure whether he could face the people who had turned to face him. Beside him, Fiona squeezed his hand in reassurance causing all of those worries disappear, and when he turned to look down at her he knew…he would get through this…because she was by his side…

END