Burn Notice: I don't own it, I just like to play with it!
Count the Days
Even after he was burned, Michael Westen kept himself in shape and rarely, if ever, got sick. He'd been under so much stress the past few years, it was a wonder that nothing had ever happened to him outside of being injured. So when he woke up one morning feeling like he hadn't gone to bed for a week, and just raising his head sent a spike of pain through his body, he was concerned. Not worried. He wouldn't overreact. He couldn't let Fiona know, though. She would surely overreact, get on his case, and make him see a doctor.
It was stress. Yes, that's all it was. Once he got himself up, popped a few aspirin and dressed for the outing he and Fi were taking with Sam and Elsa, he'd be feeling a lot better.
"Michael, you should be up," Fiona scolded with a light tone as she walked past the bed toward the kitchen. "Sam and Elsa will be here in less than a half hour."
"Oh." It came out more like a groan than a word as Michael sat upright and dropped his feet off the side of the bed.
Fiona turned from the refrigerator and stared at him. "Are you okay? Are you sick?"
"Me? No! You know me, I never get sick." He rubbed his eyes and massaged his forehead. "Just got a headache, that's all. The weather is changing. Pressure changes. You know how that is."
Fiona nodded. "Uh huh." She didn't believe it any more than he did, but she knew he wouldn't sit still for being cared for. That was just his way. "I'll get you something for that headache if you get yourself ready."
After taking the aspirin and a hot shower in that order, he did feel better. Still sort of dragged out, but he could at least stand and be active. He was tying his shoes when a knock sounded on the door followed by the creak of the hinge.
"Hey, everybody decent in here," Sam asked as he poked his head in through the open doorway.
"We're just about ready to go," Fiona answered with a smile, although she couldn't help but glance at Michael sitting on the edge of the bed.
"Great!" Sam ushered Elsa inside, and she looked around the loft, examining it thoroughly. She had never been there before. Sam tried to describe it to her, but he didn't do it justice.
She smiled at Fiona. "I love it. Really eclectic."
"Thanks. Last year after I lost all my stuff in an explosion, I had to start from scratch. Well, I still had some things left."
"Like the snow globe collection." Sam piped up. "Good thing you hadn't moved those yet."
Elsa's eyes flitted over the shelves brimming with snow globes. "Very nice. It reminds me of a gold and platinum base I saw in Italy once. The globe itself was made from crystal. A stunning piece." Elsa and Fiona conversed about the globes, while Michael prepared to stand. Sam stood nearby studying him. Michael looked up at his friend and the slitted eyes and set mouth clued Michael in that Sam knew something was wrong. He didn't even have to ask, but he did.
"Are you okay, brother?" Sam approached Michael, placed himself between him and the women, and asked in a low tone. They'd known each other for too long. It was impossible to hide much from him, but that didn't stop Michael from trying.
"I'm fine. Just a headache, that's all. Please, don't make a big deal out of it." To prove that he was okay, Michael pushed himself up into a standing position. His eyes widened slightly when a bout of dizziness hit him, but he quickly recovered. Sam's eyes squinted even more. "Hey, it's okay. I think I just had a rough night last night. Once we get out on those bikes, I'll be fine. Really!"
"That'll teach ya to have a late night run for some Indian food," Sam teased.
Michael could still taste the curry in his mouth. "I'll be right back." He retreated to the bathroom to finish getting himself ready.
Meanwhile, Sam joined the ladies at the bar for some orange juice. "Thanks, Fi." He took a sip of his. "What's up with Mikey?"
"He said he just had a headache."
"You don't really believe that, do you? He stood up and I thought he was going to fall over." He took another sip and his head turned at the sound of something banging against the bathroom door. He set his glass down and pushed away from the bar. "You think he's okay in there?" Water ran for a few seconds and stopped. Sam relaxed his shoulders.
"Michael has been under a lot of stress lately," Elsa said as she looked at Fiona and Sam. "You all have. I think this outing is the best thing for him right now, as long as he can get his mind off his work."
Fiona let out a snort. "The only way that will happen is if he's flat on his back, sedated." She leaned forward and gave Elsa a sly smile. "Michael is married to his work. I'm just the mistress."
"Aw, Fi, come on. You don't really mean that!" Sam looked into her eyes, and he could see that she believed it, at least partially. "He's going to do it some day soon, I just know it."
Fiona patted Sam's arm. "Thanks, Sam. You just keep..."
The bathroom door opened and Michael came out looking like he had a little more color. "Are we ready to go?"
"Yeah. Let's do it!" Sam took Elsa's hand and they led the way out of the loft. Michael and Fiona followed, and they all got into Sam's Cadillac. He drove them to the beachfront, where the four rented bicycles.
Elsa and Fiona strapped baskets to the racks on their bikes, and they were ready to roll. Michael and Fiona led the way side by side, and Sam and Elsa followed in the same formation on a path designed for bikers and pedestrian traffic. As they continued south, the sun beat down on them but the breeze off the ocean wicked the perspiration from their skin, making it seem not so hot. The air seemed to make Michael feel better.
"I've been thinking, Fi. After this... stuff... is all over, maybe we should move. Leave Miami. Go someplace where there aren't any mosquitos, at least." He slapped at a bug that landed on his arm. "And these lovebugs. I hate 'em."
"Sorry, I'm not moving to Antarctica," Fiona responded. "I like it here in Miami. Besides, what about your Mum? She's just starting to talk to you. Leaving would strain your relationship all over again."
"Yeah. I don't know if it'll ever be the same." He looked straight ahead and kept riding.
"What about your friends? What about Sam and Jesse?"
"Did you say something, Fi?" Sam asked from his position a few feet behind Michael.
"Nothing, Sam." Fiona glanced back and waited until he and Elsa were engaged in conversation again. Then she turned back to Michael. "See that?"
"Sam is your best friend."
"You're my best friend," Michael said with a grin aimed at her, and he reached out and grabbed her hand and squeezed it on the handlebar.
"Michael, stop that!" She shook him off and gave him a stern look.
"Hey you two, behave yourselves up there!"
Elsa laughed at Sam's exclamation.
"Anyway," Fiona resumed her train of thought. "My point is, you have too much here to just up and leave."
"Maybe it would help to erase some of the bad memories if we went somewhere else and made new ones."
"We can do that just as easily here," Fiona countered.
Michael's smile was as bright as the sun beaming down on them. "Fi, why do I even try to argue with you sometimes? That Irish stubbornness is just too much." He looked at her. "I love you."
"I love you too, Mich... look out!" She put on her brakes.
Michael's head whipped around and he saw the loose dog running into his path. He put on the brakes, held his breath and hoped for the best. The dog slipped past, but Michael's front tire caught the trailing leash. It whipped up, caught in the spokes, and sent him tumbling for the sandy grass to the left of the path.
"I'm sorry, mister!" A young boy ran up and snagged the leash before the dog could get free and continue to run.
He didn't hit his head, but the green blades sticking up through the sand blurred in front of him. He heard the crash of bikes hitting the pavement, followed by pounding feet. Then a strong hand circled his arm just above the elbow.
"Mikey, are you okay? Maybe you better not move."
"I'm fine, Sam. I just took a little tumble." He brushed off Sam's offer of assistance and sat on the grass.
"Sam, he's bleeding!" Elsa exclaimed. "Here, use this." She gave Sam a cloth napkin that she pulled from the basket on her bike.
"I'm bleeding? Where?" He knew he didn't fall and hit anything, at least not hard enough to bleed.
Sam took a corner of the napkin and held it under Michael's nose. Michael pulled back, and Sam grabbed him and held him in place. "Come on, Mike, it's just a little bloody nose. No big deal. Here, pinch it." Sam moved to his side while pinching Michael's nose and tilting his head back. "Did you go nose first to the pavement?"
"I didn't see him hit anything other than maybe his knee," Fiona answered for him. She stood with her hands on hips, watching Michael with her bottom lip clamped between her teeth.
"I didn't. I'm fine." He pulled his head out of Sam's grip and looked around him, fighting a wave of nausea. A small crowd assembled around them. He lowered his head and shook it slowly.
"He's okay, people. There's nothing to see." Sam waved them off. "Mike, are you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah." He dabbed at his nose with a clean area of the napkin. It came away with the tiniest amount of blood. "I'm good now."
"Maybe we should go back," Elsa suggested, her brows drawn together above her sunglasses.
"Yeah, I think we should. Fi?"
She studied Michael before answering. "Yes, we should."
"Hey, don't I get a vote in this?" He scrambled to stand. "Why is everybody treating me like a sick kid or something? I'm fine!"
Michael was in denial. Fiona knew something was wrong. So did Sam, and even Elsa noticed. Last night he'd been jumpy and unsettled, and today he was lethargic until Fiona pressed him to get up because friends were coming. None of them could put their finger on it, but they all knew that he needed some help. When he stood up abruptly, the color drained from his face. Inside, he thought his stomach dropped to his feet.
Everything went dark as if God had turned out all the lights. Michael sensed his body moving downward. The shouting voices faded to the background behind a loud ringing in his ears. He should have landed by now, wherever he was going to land. Something soft but firm circled around his back, and then the prickling of the grass touched his bare legs, through his shorts and t-shirt, and his neck. Oh, that felt better. Much better. He was horizontal now. He could rest.
"Mike! Come on, wake up, Mikey." Sam slapped the side of his face, but Michael didn't respond. He glanced up at Elsa standing to his left. "Call 911."
Elsa nodded, pulled the phone from her pocket, and dialed. She looked up at the street sign to see where they were. As she spoke with the operator, Sam tried to get Michael to regain consciousness.
"What's wrong with him, Sam?" Fiona knelt in the grass on Michael's left, and Sam stayed at his right side.
"Fi, raise his legs up." He wouldn't answer her, because he just didn't know. He saw Michael take the tumble, but Fiona was right. Michael didn't hit his nose, his head, or anything that would cause him to go out like this. "Did he eat anything strange last night that might have made him sick?"
"I don't think so. We always get the curried lamb when we go to The Delhi Cafe. I'm fine."
"You shared?" Sam looked up at her.
"This has gotta be something else, then." He heard sirens in the distance and tried slapping Michael's cheek again. "Come on, Mike. There's an ambulance coming for you." He thought if anything, threatening to send him to the hospital would be enough to get him to come to.
Michael made a soft moaning sound but he didn't open his eyes. His hand came up and pulled his friend's hand away from his face. "Will you stop that?" He slowly opened his eyes. The sirens stopped. Good. Maybe someone called off the rescue personnel. He didn't need any help. Maybe some rest, but wasn't that what he was trying to do today, rest and have some nice simple recreation like normal people?
"Please, let us through."
Sam got to his feet, reached over Michael and helped Fiona stand and get out of the way.
"You don't have to do this. I'm fine."
"No, you're not fine, Michael! Please, let them take care of you!"
Fiona sounded scared. Maybe he had reason to be concerned, and he just didn't see it. He heard Sam's voice trying to soothe Fiona. Sam pulled her farther away. Michael turned his eyes to see her standing between Sam and Elsa, and the couple had their arms around her. The anxious, serious expressions on their faces turned up his own anxiety. But he didn't have time for that, or for being sick.
"Sir, can you tell me your name," one of the paramedics asked him.
"My name is Michael Westen."
"Alright, Mr. Westen. Just relax, we're going to take good care of you."
He tried to keep an eye on everything going on, but his stomach felt too queasy and his head was like a fifty pound weight every time he tried to raise it. The last time, the world around him went dark again.
"Let's get some oxygen on him. Prepare to transport."
He didn't know what was going on, but the soft pressure of the pure oxygen flowing through the mask sure was refreshing. Maybe now he could get some decent rest.