Disclaimer: Burn Notice and all of its characters belong to Matt Nix, and USA Network.

Thank you all for your kind words on my last two fics. I've gotten a few reviews stating that I have a good grasp on Michael's personality and inner voice, and I have to say I think that is because he and I have a lot in common (other than gender, of course). I'm working my way through police training, and I'm going to be applying for the CIA Special Activities Division, specifically the Cladestine Imaging Division. Which, in more simplistic terms, is the same division that Michael is working for. Also, we've both taken more than one metaphorical bullet to the chest, and eventually that catches up with you.

It's like Michael once said: "People tend to think spies are motivated by love of the game, desire for adventure, or patriotic fervor. The truth, though, is that you don't choose a life as a covert operative unless something deeper is going on beneath the surface. Something more personal, something harder to explain, and something a lot more painful.

Also, I secretly love me some angsty Michael/Fiona scenes. The scenes where he has tears in his eyes, and he is emotionally raw, and finally honest with the people he cares about? Gah. Genius.

Guilt is a funny thing. It can activate the need for revenge in the most Ghandi-like person. On the other side of a double-edged sword, it can debilitate even the most hardened men. And the guilt could be made exponentially worse when your mother couldn't even seem to be in the same room with you without her face looking like she'd drank sour milk.

Watching his brother collapse to the ground with a blossoming blood stain was painful, but it wasn't as painful as having to tell him that he was going to be okay when Michael knew that there was no way in hell that was true. The trust in Nate's eyes had stuck a knife in his chest and twisted it painfully. Michael Westen wasn't trustworthy.

Nate should have known that. He had always let his brother down, ever since they were kids. He had spent his childhood protecting his little brother from their drunk ass father, but that didn't stop him from turning tail and joing up in the Army the second he turned eighteen. Telling Nate that he'd joined the military was harder than he had expected. Having to look Nate in the eye and tell him that he was on his own had stuck with him for his entire stint in the military, and was enough to churn stomach into a knot.

That deep seeded twist of guilt in his stomach was what had him standing on the balcony, leaning against the railing with the neck of a beer bottle hanging loosely from his fingers. As a spy, he had learned to compartmentalize. Work and his home life were on completely different hemispheres, and he had always been careful to not let those two cross. Well...other than Fiona, but she had always been the exception not the rule.

His brother had died on his watch. He'd told him to just watch, for God's sake, he should have listened. Michael turned on his heel and hurled the beer bottle through the open door into the darkness of the loft. The shattering of glass echoed back at him loudly. His fist connected with the wall beside the door solidly, blood trickling down his knuckles and the building.

He stepped into the loft, looking around carefully before dropping to his knees. He willed himself to remain composed, and to remain under the solid facade of the spy that he had taken so long to build up, but the tears broke through and heaving sobs wracked his body almost painfully.

He hadn't acutally cried since Nate had died. He didn't cry at the funeral, though it had been damned close when he watched tears stream down his mother's face. He hadn't cried when Sam had driven him home and placed his hand on his shoulder with a muttered "I'm sorry, Mikey". Then there had been the gut wrenching, scream tearing nightmares, but he still. Hadn't. Cried.

The dry, tearless sobs had been clawing at the back of his throat since he'd heard the shots fired, but they refuse to break free. Deep down, he knew it was what he needed. He knew the "grieving process", but he also knew that it was something that beat out of you in basic training and the twelve month training period at the CIA facility.

"Michael?" The soft voice called from across the room in the darkness of the loft. He gasped quietly and his eyes snapped to the sound of the voice. He drew the back of his hand over his eyes, attempting to wipe away the tears that were searing his skin.

"Fi, I..." He paused, unsure of where his sentence was going. What the hell was he supposed to say? He'd let her down more than anyone else. From walking out in the middle of a fog-laden Ireland night, to him lacking the courage to say the three little words that he knew was what she needed to hear. She dropped her bags and crossed the room to his side, dropping to her knees and wrapping her arms around him. She pulled him to her chest, her fingers running through his hair softly as she placed a kiss against his temple.

"It's okay, Michael." She whispered into his hair, running her hands over his back gently. He buried his face into the crook of her neck and he allowed himself to finally grieve. For everything. He cried for all of the years of beatings that he'd endured, the people that he'd killed, and the times that he had hurt the people that he loved the most. But, most of all, he cried because he hadn't fought hard enough to fulfill his job as "big brother", and he'd allowed the man that he was biologically hardwired to protect get killed.

"It's my fault." He murmured into her neck. Fiona's grip tightened around him, holding him tightly to her.

"You couldn't have known, Michael. It's not your fault." She whispered in response.

"I should have tried harder, Fi. I should have..." He trailed off, pulling out of her grasp and standing. Fiona followed his lead and got to her feet as well.

"You should have what, Michael? Jumped in front of the bullet? Known that he was going to get shot before it happened? None of that would have done a damned bit of good." Michael ran his hand over the back of his neck and pulled a half shrug. "Look, why don't you just come to bed, Michael. You need some rest, and I know that I could use some. We'll figure all of this out in the morning, okay?" She walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his torso and placed her chin on his shoulder.

Michael reached up and placed his hand over hers. He nodded slowly and followed her to their bed. They both stripped down and slid under the blanket quickly. Michael instinctively reached across the bed and pulled Fiona to him, fitting her back against his chest and wrapped his arm around her stomach.

He stared into the darkness until he felt her breathing even out. He shut his eyes tightly, willing sleep to over take him. He knew it wouldn't come, though. It hadn't come easily since he was a child. Staring at the ceiling with the woman that he loved, pondering over his own restless thoughts, he realized what he had to do.

He was going to get justice for his brother, and he was going to run at it head on, even if it killed him. But, truth be told, that may have been what he was looking for...It was like his drill sergeant had told them in basic training.

Death before dishonor.

Thoughts? Drop me a review and let me know.

Much love,

J. Rook