Burn Notice: I don't own it, I just like to play with it!

Snow Birds and Sanctuaries

By WritePassion

He found it ironic that the only way he could get away from it all was to go to an out of the way place like Panama. Clem Snow had spent considerable time there in his military career chasing down very bad people and taking them out or sending them to prison for a very long time. At first, he thought it was suicidal to return, but once he'd flown in and set his feet on the ground, it wasn't so bad. His life was actually kind of peaceful, which was something he needed desperately. He hunkered down, blended in, and made a new life for himself. He almost forgot his past and the circumstances that brought him there.

As he worked on his fourth beer on the patio of his favorite cantina, Clem mulled over the voice from his past that came through the phone lines earlier, and it was that voice that drove him to his favorite watering hole. He hadn't heard from Tom Card in years, not since Clem decided he wasn't working for the CIA anymore. Burn them before they burn me: that was what he said at the time. He screwed up in a big way, and he knew it was only a matter of time before they did it. Card wasn't happy, but he had no choice. He let him go. Not long after that was when he found himself at his little table in this little cantina, El Santuario, in Panama.

As he nursed his beer, he mulled over the conversation.

"Clement, I desperately need your help! I have a rogue agent down there who's causing all kinds of trouble! His name is Michael Westen, and I need you to find him and... take care of him."

"Tom, I don't work for the agency or with the SEALs anymore. You know that."

"I understand. However, the safety and security of your country depends upon Westen and his friends being eliminated." There was a pause before Card continued. "Don't think you've got it all nice and cozy down there! Westen's been creating mayhem in Panama! He blew up a building, and a car..."

Word had it that an American F-18 had done the job, but he wasn't about to tell Card what he knew. Clem understood when it was best to keep the facts held close to his vest. "So what do you want me to do?"

"Find them and however you have to do it, take them out. Take them all out."

Clem grinned. "Where should I take them?"

"To hell. I don't care. Just eliminate them. Eliminate them all!"

Card's voice carried across the lines with a maniacal, desperate tone that, if he were a lesser man, would have scared Clem. He'd been around too many crazies in his life to know the only consistent thing about them was that they were inconsistent, brazen, and so focused on their goal that everything else became inconsequential.

"Okay, I'll keep an eye out for them."

"No, no, no, you don't get it, Clement. There is no option but death for Michael Westen, Fiona Glenanne, Jesse Porter, and that guy, that guy with the chin. Oh yeah, Sam Axe."

Thinking back on the conversation, hearing that name again was like a fist to the gut. A very strong, well-placed fist. It left him breathless, and Clem did what he could to end the phone call. He promised he would find them and kill them all. Even Sam Axe. Afterwards, he took a shower to attempt to rinse off the guilt he already felt and he hadn't lifted a finger. It did nothing but remove the sticky perspiration that assaulted him every day in that climate. He thought his days of killing were over. Just thinking of doing it again made him sick.

In search of a cure, Clem retreated down the street to the cantina. After some time in his favorite chair in his favorite spot under the palm trees, with a few cervesas under his belt, Clem could crawl back under his rock and remain anonymous. If Card wanted Westen and his crew dead, they would have to come to him. He wasn't going to do the legwork to find them. However, as he sat there with his fourth beer, he realized the truth. Card wouldn't settle for half-butted work. If he didn't do his mentor's bidding, Card would send someone after him next and he knew the end would not be pretty. Just a few blocks away was a burned out hulk of a building that reminded him of Card's power and the United States' military might. Worse things might happen to him, and as the people in that little country knew, Uncle Sam could be a friend or a ruthless benefactor. They'd learned a long time ago that it was better not to resist, so when the building blew up, the people contained the fire and then went about their business again. No one knew why it had been blown to smithereens by a fighter jet with no markings on it, but it was stupid to ask and pay with one's life.

Unable to ease the demons colliding in his numbed mind, Clem arose and walked down the street. He slipped into the quietness of the cathedral, walked on feet that knew their way to his goal without prompting, and he opened the door, sat down, and enveloped himself in the dark coolness.

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned. Or, will sin."

"My son..."

"I'm about to kill a man. Three of them, really, and a woman. I don't want to, but I... I have to."

After the building blew up and Brady sacrificed himself in the minivan, Michael Westen and his crew stood beneath the blanket of palm trees waiting. When could they get out from under cover and be safe? Would they ever be free to just live? For six years, since the time he was burned, Michael had been running, chasing and being chased. He was tired. Broken. And now, after witnessing the degree of Card's obsession with eliminating him, Michael felt like he did as a child when his father slapped him so hard he flew half way across the living room. He saw stars and couldn't see straight for ten minutes. All he could do was sit and recover. This time he didn't have Nate or his mother there to comfort him. Nate was dead thanks to Card, and his mother disowned him. She was back in Miami with no clue to the extent that his life had spiraled out of control.

"Mike, what the hell are we going to do now," Sam asked as they watched the F-18 punch through a clump of fluffy clouds, the whoosh of its jet wash fading away.

"I have no idea, Sam." His voice sounded so vacant and lost. If he were alone, he might have crouched down and had himself a good breakdown right there. But he didn't have that luxury, because there were three other people besides himself who were now cut off from their home. "I just know that right now, we can't go back. We aren't supposed to be in Panama. There aren't any stamps in our passports, so if we try to leave..." He didn't even bother to finish the sentence. Fi, Jesse, and Sam all knew the consequences.

Fiona spoke. "We should go back to the staging area and see what we can salvage, if anything."

"You people are crazy," Tyler Grey, the subject of their hunt, spat. "My guys are going to be looking for you, and when they do, you're all dead. You should have just laid down and taken it like a man, Westen. You've been burned, and like a good spy, you should have taken your orders and let them neutralize you."

Michael's fists balled up at his sides. He fought the overwhelming urge to flatten this guy. Tyler Grey may have killed Nate and Anson, but without the ability to take him back for justice, he was useless. Michael was tempted to just shoot him now and be done with him, but then he would never be able to truly enjoy the sweet taste of closure for Nate's sake.

After a few minutes, Jesse spoke up. "I think Fi's right. We should go back, pick up what we can, and find a new place to hole up for awhile. Hopefully we can scrounge up enough cash to get us through until we can find other means to survive."

"I second that," Sam agreed.

Fiona looked at Michael, then sighed. "I agree."

Tyler piped up. "Okay, do I get a vote?"

"No. Just be thankful we don't blow your head off right here, right now," Sam growled as he closed in on Tyler. The man was tied up and kneeling on the ground, but Sam didn't care. "If it weren't for you, we wouldn't be here right now."

"It's not my fault that Westen just had to take me down." Tyler's smile was smug.

Sam wiped it off his face with a well-placed slap. It stung the back of his hand, but he created enough force to drop Tyler to his side.

"Sam!" Fiona put her hand on his upraised arm. "Don't let him get into your head. He'll receive his punishment in time, and we'll all be there to see it."

Instead of striking him again, Sam reached down and pulled Tyler to his knees. "Get up. Mike, are we moving or what?"

Michael's eyes locked on Sam's and saw the rage in his friend. He wanted to say he was sorry, but he'd had to do that so much lately, he wasn't sure what he would be sorry for. "Yes, let's get back to the staging area."

Everything was as it had been when they abruptly vacated the crumbling building, except it sported a few hundred more bullet holes. The M110 was gone, as were all the other guns and toys that the CIA let them bring along. That wasn't a surprise. Their clothing was strewn about the rooms they'd settled into, but other than a few personal care products, nothing was missing. Bad guys had to brush their teeth too, apparently.

"What are we going to do with him now, Michael," Fiona asked as she pushed the butt of her pistol into Tyler's back. "I have some ideas."

"Put him in a room and make sure he's secured," Michael replied. His voice sounded so weak, Fiona studied him.

"We'll take care of that, won't we, Jesse," Sam said as he reached for Tyler's arm.

"Sure, Sam. Come on, scumbag." The two dragged him to an empty room with just a stained, moldy mattress on the floor. "Sweet dreams." Jesse closed the door on him, and he and Sam stood outside it.

"Now what?"

"If we had any beer along..." Sam shrugged. "But we've gotta keep an eye on this guy."

Jesse mirrored the shrug. "First watch is just as good, I guess. Go get some rest."

"Yeah. Thanks." Sam gave Jesse the pistol with only a few rounds left in it. All he needed was one if Tyler tried anything. It would be Sam's pleasure to plug the pea brain of the guy who killed Nate, although inside he knew that it was Michael's shot to take, not his. With a low grumble, he walked away before he made a rash decision.

"Michael," Fiona began, but she didn't know where to end.

"Fi. I... oh god, I'm sorry."

"This wasn't your fault." She closed the distance between them, wrapped her arms around him from behind, and held his body against hers. "You couldn't have known that Card was the one who did this to you."

"I know. I'm sorry we wound up here with no prospects of going home."

"We all understand. Sometimes things happen." She squeezed him tighter. "Don't worry. Somehow, we'll come out of this, make it back to Miami, and then we'll hunt down Card and end his sorry existence."

Michael turned in her grip, placed his grimy hands on the sides of her face, and tilted it upward. "No, Fi. I can't let you all get dragged down with me. If I kill Card, I will be on the run for the rest of my life! Do you realize what that means?" His eyes were wild and wide, pools of pain and weariness built up over the years, so close to spilling over.

When she saw the raw emotion in them, Fiona knew they could never do it. At least not now, with the state Michael was in. "You need to take a little time to rest. Come on, Michael, let's go to bed for awhile."

"It's daylight, we can't waste it."

"What are we going to do? For now, we're safe here." She pulled away and took his calloused hand in hers. "Come along, my love. Rest for awhile. Please." Her voice was soft, almost like a whisper on the breeze of a sweet Miami spring day, when the flowers bloomed and the sea air intoxicated him in younger days. Days when he was innocent and life wasn't so complicated.

Fiona chalked it up to a minor miracle when Michael followed her to the iron bed that they took possession of when they first arrived. She closed the door and shut out the world through the windows by closing the thick curtains. They were up high enough that most people on the street below wouldn't notice the change. For now, she was willing to risk it because Michael couldn't function anymore without proper sleep and a chance for release.

He must have agreed with her, at least inside. Michael dropped onto the bed and flung out his limbs in all directions. She moved to him, removed his shoes first, then his socks, and worked up his body until she stripped him down to his shorts and a t-shirt. She would have liked to remove everything, but in the back of her mind she knew that danger could still be lurking out there and require them to move fast. There'd be no time for dressing properly. Her light touch and slow actions were enough to soothe Michael into a delicate sleep. She smiled at him and moved toward the door.

Sam walked down the hall and met Fiona just outside the room. "Is he sleeping?"


"Good. I'm going to take inventory of what we've got left. If we don't have any funds, I think I figured out a way to contact Barry. I know he can do some magic and get us some cash."

A disgusted look crossed Fiona's face. "To think that we have to rely on Barry to help us!"

"Hey, sister, Barry may be all tattooed, pierced and weaselly looking, but he's a smart guy. He's helped us a lot in the past, and you know he'll keep it all hush hush about us being alive. After all, if he doesn't and we make it back to Miami, he knows Michael Westen will be after his sorry butt." Sam grinned. "He doesn't want that."

"You're right." She sighed and pushed her hair back, combing it over the top of her head with one hand. "Okay, go ahead and do the inventory and contact Barry."

"If it doesn't work, I think I know another way to get some support."

Fiona looked up at Sam and saw a spark in his eyes. He had the proverbial ace up his short sleeve. "Do this first. Let's not play every option at once."

"Copy that." He looked down at her and saw the exhaustion in her eyes. It was so deep, it seemed as if she tried to take on Michael's burden with her own. Sam raised his hand and ran it along her jawline to come to rest below her chin and tilt it upward. "Go rest, Fi. Lay down with Mike and just sleep for awhile." He spoke with a voice so full of tenderness, she didn't see it coming and it disarmed her.

She wanted to defy him, but she couldn't because so much had changed between them. When she reunited with Michael, she looked for opportunities to grate on Sam. She was almost always successful, and for a long time that brought her all sorts of pleasure. Somewhere along the line they bonded and became like brother and sister. While Fiona enjoyed teasing her siblings, she loved them dearly. Over the past six years, she'd come to love Sam just as much as her own flesh and blood, so when he appealed to her to take a break from the craziness in which they found themselves, rather than resist, she obliged.

"Wake us if anything happens."

The dimple appeared on the left side of his face as he smiled. "Oh, you'll be the first to know if anything goes down."