Burn Notice: I don't own it, I just like to play with it.
This came from a personal challenge to put Team Westen into a situation that was far removed from what they were used to and see how they handle it. I love fish out of water stories, and this one is just extreme.
The Greener the Pastures
When Michael approached the table at Carlito's Sam was already there with drinks waiting. He looked up, saw Michael, and his wide smile held a hint of something secret. Whether it was good or bad, he had no idea. Michael glanced at Fiona and he knew she'd seen it as well. Maybe Sam was going to announce his engagement to Elsa, making this an even more interesting day.
"You're looking awfully happy about something this morning," Fiona remarked as she sat to Michael's left and picked up her drink. "Anything special we should know about?"
Leave it to Fi to go in for the details right away, never mind the chitchat.
"Not really," Sam answered. "Elsa and I just passed our anniversary. We've been together for two years now."
"Wow, that's gotta be a record for you," Fiona said and sucked on her celery. "But I mean that in the nicest way, of course!"
"Yeah, right." He glared at her sideways. "So, anyway, what's up with you two? Why the meeting?"
"We're getting married next month," Michael announced before Fiona could speak. By the look on Sam's face, he didn't expect it to come from his lips, but Fiona's. "Nothing fancy, just us, my mom, and you and Jesse."
"Congratulations, Mike." He glanced at Fiona. "It's about time, don't you think?" He winked and added, "But I mean that in the nicest way, of course."
The narrowed down eyes look that Fiona gave him made him laugh, but when it didn't abate, he settled down.
"Oh, and somehow, my mom got a piece of mail for you." Michael pushed an overnight envelope across the table to Sam. "It has a Michigan postmark on it."
Puzzled, Sam mentally ran through the number of people he knew from the years living there. Then he saw the return address, and his expression turned morose. Michael and Fiona exchanged glances. Neither of them dared to ask what was wrong. Sam picked up the tab and ripped it open. A letter on notepaper fell out.
"What is it?" Fiona asked after some hesitation. The paper was pink with faint green lines and the handwriting neat in a dark blue ink. "Who's it from?"
"It's from my cousin Elise." He fell silent and scanned the page. His friends watched as he swallowed a few times and blinked, but otherwise his face remained stony. When he was done he folded the letter and stuffed it into his shirt pocket.
"It's nothing, Mike. I can take care of this, I'll just call in some favors with some buddies up north, and it'll be done."
Michael squinted at him. "Sam, is someone in trouble?"
Sam rested his arms on the envelope and replied, "Yeah." He met Michael's stare, and he knew what he wanted. "Okay, here, let me read it to you guys." He pulled out the paper, unfolded it, and read it.
I haven't written in a long time and I'm not sure this will get to you, but I hope it does. The last phone number you gave me doesn't work, or I would have called you. I know that you and your friends have been helping people with their problems, and I'm hoping that you can help us. MiFarm Incorporated, a big corporation in the state, buys up farms and turns them around to make huge profits either by increasing efficiency or turning the land into a field of condos. Either way, good, hard-working farmers are losing their livelihoods in exchange for a quick buck.
They've talked to Daddy about the dairy farm, but he won't sell to them, and they won't leave us alone. Last week someone reported us to the USDA for a sanitary violation and the government sent a team out to investigate. We think that Matthew was bought off and he tried to make it look like we had some sick cows. But the USDA left satisfied that we were in compliance. I'm afraid MiFarm won't stop and their tactics will get worse until something bad happens.
Daddy's health isn't good. Stress doesn't help. Between the cancer and the high blood pressure, and MiFarm's harassment, Lord knows what'll kill him first. Mama's worried for him too, and she's been down with bronchitis again, so it's been really hard. I don't know if you and your friends can get this corporation off our backs or what, but all I know is that I had to try because there's no other choice besides giving up. If I want my parents around for awhile longer, it's the only way if things keep going like they are.
Please let me know what you can do, if anything. I'm overnighting this letter, so if I don't hear from you in a couple of days, I'll know you either didn't get it or you can't help, because I know you, Sammy. If there is any way, I know you'll race up here and come to the rescue. Auntie Jean, your Ma, would have been proud of you. I know we all are.
Sighing heavily, Sam put the paper back into his pocket. "So there it is. I don't know how we can help them. They're going to lose their farm, but it's not because of the economy or whatever. It's been a real money making venture over the years, and some big company is going to bully them into selling."
"I wonder why your cousin Elise sent you a letter to Madeline's address? Why didn't she call you?"
"I've switched numbers more times than you've changed shoes, Fi. You know that. And I don't exactly keep up with the relatives back home. One of the times I lived with Maddie I sent Elise something that I saw and reminded me of her." A slight smile crossed his face. "She must have kept the return address all this time."
"But why write you for help?" Michael asked.
"She knows a little about what I'm doing here. It was just one of those sketchy catching up kind of letters I sent her." He looked around, uncomfortable. "When I lived in Michigan with my mom, Elise and I were like best pals. We're the same age, only she's younger by a few months. We hung out a lot because we had almost the same friends." His voice trailed off as memories took hold of him.
"Sam." Michael spoke and waved a hand in front of his face. "Sam?"
"Oh, yeah. Sorry, Mike, just got distracted there. What?"
"Maybe you should go up there and see what's happening. I'd be happy to go along, and I'm sure Fi wouldn't mind. If they're making threats, it's gotten past the negotiating nicely stage."
Sam nodded. "Yeah, I know."
Fiona prodded him. "You've jumped in to help total strangers. Isn't it time you did something for your family?"
He knew how Fiona felt about her own family. She missed them terribly and couldn't go back to Ireland to see them. Not with people there who wanted her dead. He didn't have that hanging over his head, although there were at least a couple of people he could think of who would have loved for the chance to kick his butt. That wasn't important. Family was, like Fi said.
"Elsa could come along..." Fiona suggested.
"No can do." Sam shook his head. "She's getting ready to go to Europe for two weeks. As much as she and I share, business is not one of those things."
"Well then, you'll be lonely without her." Fiona grinned. "You might as well take a road trip to Michigan and see what's up!"
Sam chuckled. "You won't let it go, will you?"
"This is family, Sam." Michael threw that in, because in the time he'd been in Miami, he learned how valuable and rewarding it could be to have close to you those who shared your genes and their love.
"Okay. If we're driving, I say we take the Caddy. It's less likely to have problems on the road. Plus, it'll make a bigger impression on whomever is trying to take over the farm if Chuck Finley is needed for this job."
"Agreed. Think we should call Jesse on this?" Michael looked for a consensus.
"He seems to be so busy with his job," Fiona responded. "I think after that last one he helped us with, he's got to be careful. His bosses weren't too keen on the way things ended."
"Fi's got a point. We better make it just the three of us," Sam said as he reached for his beer. He drained it and stood. "I'll go home and pack and pick you up in an hour. Oh, and be prepared. Fall in Michigan can get quite chilly."
Fiona stuck her clasped hands between her knees and shivered.
"Yeah, that means no short shorts," Sam said with a laugh. "See you later."
"I don't really have anything for cold weather," Fiona said. "Looks like I'll have to go shopping."
"Fi, you only have an hour," Michael chided her. "Come on, we'll go home and I'm sure you've got enough to at least start with, and you can buy some clothes up there."
"Alright." She grumbled and followed Michael back to the car. "I wonder how people in Michigan dress?"
Michael almost laughed at her. "It's not like we're going to Istanbul. They dress like we do, only warmer."
A little over an hour later, Michael heard Sam's horn sound off in the courtyard. The car door closed and his footsteps tapped up to the landing. The loft door squealed when he opened it. "Hey, you guys ready?"
"Fi's just finishing up." Michael set a medium sized suitcase next to the door and turned back to the bed where Fiona's bags lay on the surface. Two large cases were open and a bag the size of a medium sized dog sat on the floor.
"That's all Fi's stuff? I thought she didn't have any cold weather clothes."
"I'm not packing them to overflowing, Sam. I'm saving room for whatever I buy up there!" Fiona dropped a couple pairs of jeans into one case, reached for the cover, and flipped it closed. "See?" She closed the other one and latched them. "Those are ready, Michael. I just need to get my toiletries and makeup in order."
"Sorry for the holdup, Sam."
"She hasn't even packed her guns yet." Sam shook his head.
"Those are in the duffel near the door," Michael replied. He hefted the two cases and moved toward the door. "Can you help me with these?"
"Sure thing, brother." Sam picked up Michael's case, a suit bag that was draped over it, and the duffel and followed him downstairs. He popped the trunk and they packed everything inside. Sam's suitcase and suit bag were the only things inside until the caravan came along. "Good thing I have a lot of room!"
"As long as Fi doesn't have a lot of opportunity to shop, we should be okay."
"Ah, we could still fit a small body in there if necessary," Sam joked. The loft door closed and Fiona trotted down the stairs. "Is that it, Fi?" He took her bag from her and wedged it into a space between the cases and the trunk wall.
"Yes. Thank you, Sam."
"Okay, does anyone need to make a trip to the bathroom before we go, because I don't wanna have to stop until supper time," Sam said. "Or when we need gas, whichever comes first. I've got a full tank right now and we can get almost to the state line without stopping."
Michael said, "We should grab something that we can eat on the road so we don't have to stop until we absolutely have to."
"If we're in that big of a hurry, why don't we fly?" Fiona asked with hands on her hips.
"Expense, Fi. Just the bag handling fees alone would cost more than the gas to get up there," Sam retorted. He slammed the trunk. "Come on, let's get moving."
Fiona glared at his back, but she didn't say anything. With a spin on her heel, she turned and reached for the back door handle, pulled it open and got inside. Michael took the front seat beside Sam. After a short trip to a market for drinks, sandwiches and snacks, the trio hit the freeway.
"Mike, did you call your Ma and let her know you were leaving?"
"Yes, I did. She wanted to come along, but I didn't think it would be that great an idea. I don't want her in harm's way if this gets dicey."
Sam didn't say a lot during the first leg of the trip. Fiona sat in back perusing a magazine while Michael watched the scenery. Now and then he asked Sam if he wanted to switch drivers, but every time, he said no.
"When we stop for gas, we can switch."
Maybe we should have flown. It would have gotten us there a lot faster. As much as he tried to distance himself from this, it's really tearing Sam up inside. He hid a smile from his friend by staring out the window. It'll be interesting to see his roots. He's never talked much about Michigan, but I know he spent a lot of time there. He glanced at Sam.
"I'm fine, Mike. We'll switch when we get gas."
"I wasn't going to say a thing."
I have a feeling both Fi and I will learn a lot about Sam in the next few days.