Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Burn Notice, this is written just for fun.
A/N: This story continues directly after Series 6 Episode 10. I hope you all enjoy. Thank you Jedi Skysinger for the Beta, and also thanks to Amanda Hawthorn, Daisyday and Jedi Skysinger for reading thru parts of this story.
He was a reminder of her past, the whole team's only hope of getting out of Panama alive and maybe if they all survive the experience his name would live on through another life time.
An AU follow on from S6 Ep10.
He had finally managed to get the mother of the present pain in his ass out of his office and into the hallway leading to the elevators. Smiling down at her, with his best "you can trust me" smile pasted on to his face, Tom Card edged Madeline Westen out of his domain.
This was proof Westen was beyond seeing sense. What sort of covert agent keeps his Mother informed on his missions and gives out classified phone numbers?
"For what it's worth, I hope this helped." He was rather pleased with the level of compassion he was managing to put into his tone.
"Nothing helps," she sighed, her bright blue eyes glistening with unshed tears. "But, -er, maybe you opened up my eyes a bit."
"I know some of that wasn't easy to hear, but that's one thing you'll always get from me, Mrs. Westen, is the truth." He paused, but when she didn't move he continued to try to reassure her, to get her to leave.
"I was never easy on Michael; I wasn't. But I did what I thought I needed to do because I cared about him. I do care about him. You see, I never had a whole lot of family. In fact, Michael is the closest thing I ever had to a son." Why didn't she just go? "I know this agency has cost you a lot. So for what it is worth, I am deeply, deeply sorry." Doesn't she realize I have more important things to do than hold the hand of a conniving, blackmailing old lady?
"Thank you. I'm glad Michael has you."
And finally she was gone. Sighing with a mixture of relief and frustration, he pulled out his phone from inside his jacket and stared at it: Had he allowed enough time to pass? To hell with it, he wanted to know now! Without a further thought, he dialed the mission's communication office.
"Please tell me it's done." He closed his eyes, waiting to hear the news that the man he had indeed thought of as a son was dead.
"We have only one confirmed kill, sir, Agent Brady Pressman. I repeat, only one confirmed kill." Card felt an icy chill wash over him; Michael would know of his betrayal.
He swayed gripping the handset tightly. "Find them, find them NOW! Use Gray's Merc group if you have to, but I want this over by tonight." Ending the call, he took three attempts to get the phone back into his pocket. Everything, everything he had done throughout his career was hanging by a thread.
Jeff Reid, the agent in charge of Card's clean up squad, placed his radio back into the holder on his belt, all the while his eyes were skimming over the scattered remains of the minivan that had been decimated by a hit from a Maverick missile. It had taken ten minutes from his teams arrival at the scene to confirm there was not enough body parts for five adults. On the discovery of a single hand with the fingers still gripping part of the steering wheel, they quickly came to the conclusion there had only been one person in the vehicle. The task of cleaning up Tom Card's mess had suddenly become a whole lot more complicated.
By the time the Panamanian police came into sight, Reid and his squad had cleared out with all the incriminating evidence bagged up ready to be shipped back to DC.
Standing under the cover of a nearby stand of trees, Reid watched as what he considered to be rank amateurs trampled over the crime scene. If they had missed any of Pressman's remains, the local law with their undisciplined approach was making sure any last traces would never be discovered. Turning away in disgust, he got straight to business.
"You, you and you." He pointed to his three team leaders. "With me." He took a few steps away from where the bulk of the twenty man squad stood waiting for their orders.
"The targets left here on foot. They can't have got far and they will be looking for the quickest route out of the country." He pulled out a map of the city. "Team One, head out of town, spread out and check the ports. Glenanne has connections with gun runners all the way back to the eastern seaboard, so get on to the Coast Guard. Tell them just enough to get their cooperation. Team Two, the airports, both commercial and passenger, start at the ones closest and work your way out. Team Three, Westen's last communication reported Grey had got away, find him. I'm going to run liaison with the Panamanians and make sure they stay out of our way. This is a full clean up, people, and it has to be completed in the next -" He checked his watch. " Twelve hours, get to it."
Chapter One: Hell in a hand basket.
They had all stood and watched helplessly as the unmarked F-18 fighter plane flew in low behind the minivan being driven by Brady Pressman, they'd listened to the whoosh of the Maverick missile launch over the roar of the jet engines and, with their mouths wide open in shock, they witnessed the total destruction of the minivan and the man who had so quickly become a trusted team mate.
Brady Pressman, the man who had been in charge of the team set to capture Anson Fullerton, the man who had sacrificed his own life so they could escape to take revenge on the man responsible for sending them all to their deaths.
"So what do we do now?" Sam was the first to pull himself together and realize they only had minutes until they were discovered.
Michael was frozen to the spot, unable to look away from the scattered wreckage strewn across the road. Tom Card had betrayed them.
"Mikey, we can't stay here." Sam moved to his best friend's side, catching hold of his arm.
Tom Card had betrayed them, had betrayed him.
"Damn it!" Sam looked about, frantically trying to decide what to do. Michael made these decisions, but right now Michael was shut down. Jesse and Fiona were standing guard over the hired killer, Tyler Grey. Both looked shook up, but were at least alert and were looking back at him for orders.
"Jesse, get that sonuvabitch up. We're getting out of here," Sam called out, accepting that at least for now he was in charge.
Letting out an angry growl of frustration, Michael sprang to life, suddenly spinning around and launching himself towards the man kneeling on the ground. Before anybody had a chance of stopping him, Michael delivered punch after punch until their prisoner fell back down into the dirt.
With his vision tinged with red and his head filled with nothing other than blind fury, Michael leaned down, intending to drag Grey back to his feet to continue the assault. Just before he could land the next blow, Michael found himself spinning away from his target.
"Enough! We are stuck in Panama and we don't have time for this," Sam barked, getting into Michael's face and using his bulk and force of personality to hold the younger man back. "How long do you think we have until the police and army turn up to investigate? How long before Card's own clean-up crew get here to destroy the evidence?"
Michael breathing heavily, gulping in mouthfuls of air as he brought himself under control, stepped back. Slowly the fury faded from his eyes and he dropped his head down. "You're right... We should go."
"I'm glad we all agree." Sam took a hesitant step back, still uncertain that Michael wasn't waiting for the opportunity to renew his attack on their prisoner. "Okay, Jesse, look after our friend. Fiona, take point – Mike, go with her."
For a minute it looked like Michael might argue, but it seemed he hadn't completely lost his ability to think. With a sharp nod, he took off with Fiona leading the way back into the city. As they ran through the narrow back streets, ducking out of sight whenever an army or police patrol came through, Fiona kept an eye on Michael, pleased to see he was concentrating on the job in hand.
As they waited for the others to catch up, they stood flattened against opposite walls of a narrow alleyway. Close up, she could see the tension he was wearing like a cloak.
"Do ya remember this, Michael, running from the patrols, hiding in alleys? If it wasn't so damn hot, this could be Ireland."
He didn't even offer her a smile, his icy expression cutting through her to the bone. She could see he was closing himself off completely, building up a wall around his emotions to protect himself from any more pain. It was the soldier and the spy in him taking over. She had seen the look before when he was preparing himself to do something terrible.
Eventually, they ended up taking refuge in an abandoned derelict house with crumbling walls and part of the roof missing. After pulling several rotten boards off a ground floor window, they climbed inside and settled down for a well earned rest. They all needed time to draw on their reserves and take stock of the situation.
Michael sank down with his back against one of the crumbling walls. With his knees drawn up and his hands over his head, he tried to come to terms with all that had happened. He had led them all into this; it was all his fault. He had blindly trusted the wrong man and now they were all going to die.
He tried to push back the pain, but nothing worked. This was all on him. His mother was right. He had gotten Nate killed and now he was about to do the same to Fiona, Sam and Jesse. The guilt was crushing him down.
He had trusted Card, trusted him completely. He hadn't questioned how quickly his old training officer had found the information he so desperately needed. He had just run with it, dragging everybody he cared about with him.
Looking back, he could see now that he had done exactly what Card wanted him to do; everybody involved in Anson Fullerton's capture and the death of Nate Westen gathered in one place. Everybody who would ask questions all gone in one go and if it hadn't been for Tyler Grey's sense of self preservation the plan would have worked.
How could he have been so stupid, so naïve? What was wrong with him? His father, Larry, Tom, hell, even his own mother had all let him down in the end.
"Mike? Michael, hey Mikey, you okay, brother?"
Hearing the concern in Sam's voice, he stiffened and pulled himself together. He would get them out of this, these last few people left in his life. He could do it. He just had to push everything down and think solely about the job, focus on getting them all back home and then, once he had them all safe, he would leave.
He would go off on his own and make Tom Card pay for his betrayal. He would not allow another friend to get hurt or killed because of his actions. After scrubbing at his face in an effort to disguise the signs of his emotional breakdown, Michael looked up.
"Yeah, I'm fine, Sam." He got to his feet. "We need to get out of this city and get back to the States. It will be hard for them to hit us with another missile if we're on home soil. Back in Miami, we'll have the advantage. They'll have to come at us on the ground and we'll be able to spot them coming."
"That's a great plan, Westen, if you can pull it off," the prisoner scoffed.
Michael turned towards Grey, cold emotionless blue eyes fixing on the captive. "We need a way out and you're going to help."
"You expect me to help you?" Grey laughed. "Maybe – if you cut me loose."
Michael moved so swiftly it took them all unawares. Grey's head was rocked back as blow after blow landed with sickening speed. It took both Jesse and Sam to pull Michael away from their prisoner. Sam threw Michael back against the far wall and held him there with a hand on his chest while Jesse checked on Grey.
As Sam stared at Michael, he knew it was only the pain from the busted ribs which stopped the younger man from flattening him. Michael Westen was gone; this man he had pinned against the wall was far more dangerous. His blue eyes, which usually held the only clue to his real emotions, were flat and cold, his mouth a thin, down-turned line.
Holding his friend in place, Sam waited to for the younger man to show some sign of returning sanity. It was as if he had stepped back in time. Only then, Michael had had a gun in his hand and Sam hadn't been positive he was going to walk away from the encounter.
"Michael, we are stuck in Central America without money, no weapons and no plan to get out. We need you," Fiona said, coming up alongside Sam, her hand gently rubbing up and down Michael's arm looking for a response.
"We need you thinking clearly. Come with me. We'll go out around the local bars. There are smugglers and thieves in every city. They'll know people who can aid us. We just have to find the right one to ask."
They waited in silence, the atmosphere thick with the anger radiating from Michael taunt body, only being kept in check by Fiona's presence and the force of Sam's hand.
Eventually, he nodded and Sam slowly stepped away. Taking a moment to regain his composure, Michael left without speaking a word, following Fiona back through the window and out on to the street.
As they walked side by side, neither looking or speaking to each other, Fiona wondered what had happened to the man who, only a few hours earlier, had promised he would do whatever it took to make her happy. Maybe once they were back home, he would return to her and the shell of a man who stalked along at her side would disappear for good.
"We should try out the bars near the airfields first." Fiona looked up at the sky as a light aircraft flew in low over the tops of the buildings.
"That's the first place they'll look for us, Fi," Michael dismissed her idea, as he scanned the people passing by.
"Well where do you want to look?" Fiona replied, frustration creeping into her tone. She knew he was hurting, but if they were to get out of this predicament, it needed every member of the team working at their best.
"Fine," he huffed. "We'll check out the airfields."
Fiona led the way into one bar after another. In each establishment, she scanned the customers. She had no idea who she was looking for exactly; the chances of there being a Miami or New York gun runner or arms dealer in Panama were slim. But she knew the type she was looking for. After all she had said it many times, they were her people.
It was as they were leaving the sixth bar they had visited, a seedy ramshackle place, that Michael decided he had had enough. There was another easier way to get help escaping the city.
"This is a waste of time, Fi. Grey has all the contacts we need. I just have to get him to give them up," he hissed into her ear.
"Grey will lead us into a trap, just like Card did," She calmly informed him while pushing through the crowd towards the exit. It was just then that a hand reached up and lightly touched her elbow. She would have ignored the touch, but for the words that followed.
"Maeve? Maeve O'Keefe? Is tha you, darlin?"
Fiona turned around in shock at hearing her Mother's maiden name being spoken so far away from home. She stared at the speaker, a vague feeling of recognition sparking in her mind. She just couldn't quite place him. He was an old man who looked to be well into his seventies, grey haired and disheveled, sitting at a table for four but he was all alone. There was something in his eyes...
"Mr. Malloy?" The name came to her in a rush of ancient memories. "Mr. Malloy, it's Fiona – Fiona Glenanne, Maeve's daughter." She smiled at him, if this really was Aiden Malloy, they may have found a way out or at the very least a safe place to stay.
The old man beamed up at her, a big toothless grin on his face. He pulled out the chair next to him and dragged her down. "Fiona? Is tha little Fiona Glenanne? My, yer tha spit o' ya mammy, girl." He turned to eye Michael suspiciously. "Yer a long ways fram home. Does yer Daddy know yer out?"
She sighed softly, accepting the seat, holding one of his gnarled hands in hers. "Me Daddy died, Mr Malloy – back in '79. D'ya remember?" She brought her Irish accent back to life.
His eyes brightened and then he frowned. "Oh. aye, an' ya big brudder, Pat Jr, a few yars later. I heard all about thot too. It war a bad business, girl, a very bad business. An' poor wee Claire. Am so sorry fer ya losses, luv. So, whot are ya doin' so far fram home?"
"Me an' me friends are kinda stuck har. We're looking for a ride to the US. D'ya know anybody who would be able ta help us out?" she asked.
He lifted his gaze back to Michael. "Are ya sure ya can trust this one, lass? He looks fit ta commit a murder, so he does."
"You can trust Michael, Mr Malloy. He's just a bit outta sorts t'day, aren't ya Michael?"
Before Michael could think of a suitable reply, the old man had struggled to his feet and, after a couple of limping steps, straightened up as the stiffness left his limbs. "Come wid me, me son has a little side business. He can see ya right."
Fiona got to her feet but before she could follow, Michael grabbed her wrist shaking his head. But she just smiled at him and said, "Come on, Michael. I've found us a ride back home. It's rude to keep our friend waiting."
"He's an old man," Michael hissed, tightening his grip.
"He's an old family friend. – He once attempted to bomb the Houses of Parliament." Grinning. she jerked her wrist free and strode off in the direction taken by the old man.
Cursing under his breath, Michael stalked after them.
Aiden Malloy tottered along the narrow dusty streets until they reached a wide open space surrounded by a chain link fence. Inside a long tarmac covered road was lined by several large steel hangars and a scattering of aircrafts of all different types and sizes.
Following the fence until they came to an unmanned gate, Aiden Malloy led them over to one of the hangars where a mid-size cargo plane stood out in the open with the ramp at the rear extended as if for loading.
"Kenny! Hey, Kenny boy, come out har an' meet an old friend. D'ya remember tha Glenanne's?" Aiden shouted as they reached the side of the plane.
Kenneth Malloy was a man in his mid-fifties, heavy set and dressed in grease covered overalls. He came out from the cargo plane, wiping his hands on a piece of cloth.
"Da, whot are ya doin' har at this time o' day? Am working now, tha lowering gear on tha ramp keeps jammin'... Glenanne, d'ya say? I haven't heard tha name in wha' near on twenty years."
He stopped in front of them, looking Fiona up and down. "Oh my, tha's no mistakin' it, ya look jus' like ya Mammy. I went ta school wid yar a couple o' yar brudders an' cousins, I'd know who ya were anywhere. Yar more O'Keefe than Glenanne." He turned to Michael, giving him the same attention. "You, I don't know."
"McBride. Michael McBride," Michael answered using his old Irish alias.
"I tink I heard o' ya... So whot tis it I can do fer ya?"
"A ride to the U.S somewhere near Miami would be nice," Fiona replied brightly, trying to make up for Michael's bad tempered scowling.
Kenny Malloy whistled through his teeth and ran his hands through his hair. "No passports or visas I tek it? An' I bet tha law is affer ya both, am I right?""
"She's Patty Glenanne's lass, Kenny. Pat who helped us get outta Ireland," Aiden growled at his son.
"Okay, Da, fer how many? Is it jus' tha pair o you? I got a shipment goin' ter Miami in a coupla days if I can get tha ramp fixed. Maybe if it's jus' tha pair – "
"Five of us," Michael spoke up. "And if you need help, we're all pretty handy with a wrench."
Kenneth gave a resigned sigh. "Five, Okay, I'll take you in with tha shipment. Yar'll have ter lay low til I'm ready te go."
"Can't you leave earlier? We'll pay." Michael had no idea where he would get the money from, but he would worry about that later.
"I can't. This load is legit, or most o it tis. Am scheduled ter fly out in two days. Ter go befer that, I'll rouse suspicions."
Michael sighed and turned away. In two days, Card would know for sure they weren't dead, that is if he didn't know already. They needed out now. There was probably a retrieval team scouring the city for them as they stood idly talking.
"Thank you, Kenneth, Mr Malloy. Thank you, we're very grateful. Fi'll give you a number when you want us to come back," he answered stiffly.
"No need fer that, son. Ya kin stay at my place," Aiden announced happily.
"No," Michael replied bluntly. There was no way on earth he wanted to spend time with anybody he might end up getting killed. You do not become friends with an asset. You do not take favors from assets. You use them and move on.
Unfortunately, Fiona saw the hurt look on the old man's face and smiled at Aiden, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "What Michael meant to say is there are another three in our group. We wouldn't like to intrude."
"Nonsense, girl! Did yer Da ever tell ya abou' tha time he stole a British tank?" He slipped his arm around her waist and was leading the way off the airfield before another word could be said. "Or how about tha way yer Mammy pursued him. I tell ya she war like tha huntsman affer tha fox an' him studying ta be a priest at tha time."
"No, he never told me tha story. We'd love ta hear it, wouldn't we, Michael?" Fiona shot him a look from over her shoulder.
Sighing, Michael followed behind, glowering at the couple in front of him who were chatting happily about old times in Ireland.
Malloy only walked as far as a small parking lot where he climbed into the driver's seat of an ancient Ford pick-up. "Climb on in, me place is jus' on tha otherside o' the airfield."
It turned out Malloy's house was a rundown villa on a private road, nearly a mile away from the airfield and the slums of San Miguelito.
The villa was a squat single storey structure surrounded by overgrown shrubs and parts of old aircrafts and cars. Coming to a stop, Aiden hit the pick up's horn, blaring out "Dixie" and then, as he stepped out, the front door opened and a young woman came running out with a big smile on her face.
"Grandaddy, what are ya doin' home so early?"
"This is Sorcha, Kenny's youngest." He gave the young woman a peck on her cheek. "She got her good looks off her mammy, god rest her soul."
While Fiona continued to smile and enjoy this break from all the stress, Michael bit down hard on his lips and tried to go with the flow. They were getting what they needed, just not as fast as he wanted.
Ten minutes later, as Aiden went into the details of another tale about people Michael didn't know or care about, he'd had all he could take. He didn't want to know the old man's life story, nor did he want Fiona to form an attachment to these people from her past. He had one thought spinning around and around in his head.
Get back to Miami, find Tom Card and Kill Him.
"Aiden, could I borrow yar truck an' go pick up tha rest o' me team?" Michael asked in the most pleasant tone he could manage, hoping the Irish brogue would encourage the man to continue being helpful.
"Sure, son," Aiden waved a hand towards the door. "Tha key is inside."
Fiona went to speak, but Aiden was already trying to drag her into another story.
By the time she turned back, Michael had gone.