A/N~Co authored w/ Arifa from Twitter. Michael's mind has alway been his worst enemy. Combine that with separation from family & friends, drinking to fit his cover ID...what would happen? Operating as if anything past 7.2 didn't happen.

Its been about nine months since his Michael's life changed. He hasn't been in the States in nine months. He hasn't seen or talked to his family in nine months. He's been cut off from them and essentially the rest of the outside world for nine long months.

Home is a foreign concept for him. The place he stays, provides him with the basics like a bed, table, chair and bathroom. There are no comfortable blankets, no knickknacks and no mementos of his past life. Instead he has a thin pillow, a rough blanket and a dirty mirror. Home is a luxury he knows can't be his.

Most people welcome sleep. Michael fears it. Yes, it gives him a chance to escape the hole he is forced to now called a home, but it also brings dreams. Some dreams are peaceful and calm, but for the most part, the dreams wake him from his sleep. The dreams cause him to drink more than usual in the middle of the night so he can hopefully return to a dreamless sleep.

When he is alone, he forces himself to focus on his assignment. Sometimes though, thoughts of his former life creep back into his head. Michael tries his best to push them out of his way but on occasion he isn't successful. The thoughts and memories pass, and he moves on with his life, with the help of the cheap whiskey.

Tonight is no different. After a meeting with Burke, Michael stops to buy another bottle of cheap whiskey and heads back to his apartment. He sits down at the table and eats the bland food that he had prepared the day before. Michael lays down on his bed and closes his eyes. The room begins to spin, but he doesn't care.

He is annoyed because he hears loud talking in his room. Opening his eyes, he sits up and squints. He sees a tall man in the shadows of his room.

"Hey man. You really need to decorate. I know I teased you about the potpourri when Fi moved into the loft with you, but this place is just nasty."

Michael smiles a little and responds "Sorry, if I knew you were coming I would have gotten some drapes and a carpet. What are you doing here?"

I just came to have a chat. Haven't seen you much lately. Thought I'd make the first move and tell you that you being here in the the Dominican Republic turns out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me." the tall bald man says.

Michael realizes the man is Jesse. He knows Jesse won't leave him alone, so he asks "Why is my situation the best thing that has ever happened to you?"

Jesse walks around his little flat, picking up books and looking in his fridge. He says "Because when we were released, I ended up getting my old job back and within a month, I was promoted. I have a great job, incredible pay and I even have a beautiful girlfriend."

"That's great Jesse, but you need to leave. I can't be talking to anyone from the past." Michael says flatly, as he lays back down on his bed.

Jesse shakes his head. "Nope. I am staying for a bit." Jesse takes out his phone and motions for Michael to sit up. "Let's talk about this 'deal' you made. Do you really think it was the best way to get freedom for everyone?"

Michael listens to Jesse and leans against the the headboard. Rubbing his beard, Michael explains "It was the best way to get you all out of jail. It wasn't right to ask you guys to pay for my sins. I led the group, I had to accept the punishment for everyone. There was no way out."

Jesse counters his explanation. "No, you took the easy way out. You were alone, they strong armed you and after hours of countless interrogations, you broke. You gave them exactly what they wanted."

Michael laughs at Jesse's idea. "What did I give them?"

Quickly Jesse answers. "Your soul. You gave them your life just so we could be free. That's real noble of you."

"You sound bitter Jesse."

Shaking his head, Jesse says "I am. Ever since my mom died, I wanted so desperately to belong to a family again. I wanted a mom and if I could have a brother or two, that would have been awesome. I met you and right away your mom took me in as one of her own. I became your brother."

"You became my brother too. I was honored that you stayed with me, even when it wasn't your fight anymore." Michael says stiltedly, feeling an a knot form in his stomach.

Jesse snaps at Michael. "Let me talk. Did you know that you actually gave me a sense of purpose? My life didn't revolve around governmental work anymore. My became a fight for the little guy, the guy who had his back up against the wall and no one else could help. I loved doing that.'

Michael listens quietly, feeling empty and hollow. He misses the simple jobs just as much, if not more than Jesse.

Jesse could tell Michael wasn't listening as close. He snaps his fingers, making Michael focus. "I'm not done. I'm working a regular job and don't get me wrong, I love the pay, but I miss fighting side by side with you. Let's not forget that I don't have a man in my life that I've come to regard as my brother, I now have a mother that I have to take care of on my own. She's sad and broken because she lost not only Nate, she lost you. I'm always her first call and when I do anything remotely dangerous she freaks out because she's terrified of me leaving too. Do you know how hard and frustrating that is?"

Michael turns his head, so Jesse wouldn't see the tears forming in his eyes. "I know Jesse. I went through six years of that. At first I hated it, then I came to accept it as her way of asking me to come to the house. Do you know I would give anything to hear her voice, asking me to come fix that damn sink or an appliance?"

"I know you are upset about being cut off, but this is all your own doing. You chose to make the deal. You made your bed. You need to lay in it. I can't help you back."

Michael has no response. He inhales sharply and holds his breath. Letting the breath go, he says "I had to protect everyone."

Jesse laugha. "You did a real good job protecting Fiona. Broke her heart so bad that she didn't sleep or eat for days after we got home. She was a mess and it was all your fault. She was devastated by your decision."

Michael feels overwhelming sadness creep over him. "How is Fiona now?"

Jesse gets up and paces around the room again. "I was wondering when you would ask about her. She's better." Jesse starts to show Michael pictures on his phone, pictures of Fiona. She looks sad and lost, looking off into the distance. "This is after we got back home. She was in a lot of pain. Time heals all wounds they say, right? Well, we've managed to eke out a comfortable life. She's back to bounty hunting."

Michael's heart sinks. "What do you mean by 'we' Jesse?"

Jesse looks at him with an annoyed grimace and says "Don't play dumb Michael. You are the smartest man I have ever known, so I know you understand." He gives the phone back to Michael and says "Look at these pictures." As Michael looks at the pictures Jesse pulled up for him, he felt like he stopped breathing. All Michael sees are pictures of Jesse and Fiona laughing, hugging and a few of them kissing. He stops at a picture that reminded him of the loft. Fiona is in bed, with a sheet wrapped around her, sitting and reading a magazine. She looks calm, peaceful and happy. Its a look he hadn't seen on her face in ages.

Michael closes his eyes tightly, swallowing the lump that was in his throat. When he opens them, he saw Fiona standing on her tip toes, kissing Jesse's neck. Michael feels his heart break into tiny shards. She won't look at him. He hears his voice crack as he says her name "Fiona". She doesn't look at Michael. Instead she continues to pull on Jesse, trying to kiss various areas of his face, neck and chest.

Fiona coos softly "Jesse, let's go. I need you."

"I can't believe you would do this to me.'" Michael says, feeling his heart beat wildly in his chest.

Fiona runs her nails up and down Jesse's chest saying "I don't know why you are so surprised. There was always a spark between us. When we kissed on that job, I told you that it didn't mean anything. It didn't mean anything to me then, but once you were gone, I was all alone. Jesse was there and he took care of me when I was even too depressed to take care of myself. He made sure I ate, slept and got out of the house. He lavished attention and affection on me and made me remember I was a woman. Where were you Michael?"

Michael blinks away the tears that stung his eyes and says in a shaky voice. "'You never let me explain. If I could just have time with you, i could make you understand."

"She doesn't need to Mike. You made your choice. You chose country over family and love. Its not a choice I would have made..." Jesse trails off, realizing Michael was not listening to him.

Scrambling to the edge of the bed, Michael reaches out for Fiona, pleading to her "Fi, stay with me. We can make a life here. It will be just us. You know I love you."

Fiona takes a step back and shivers. "No. I'm Jesse's now."

"This is one time I don't mind being in second place. You have no idea what you lost Mike." Jesse says. Turning to Fiona, he tells her "Lets go."

She takes Jesse's hand and heads to the door. Michael runs after her, trying to grab her and pull her into his arms. She keeps slipping away, but she finally twirls around yelling "No Michael! You had your chance, but you screwed it up. You chose the CIA after everything I did to help you end this blasted obsession. You lose Michael. Enjoy living the rest of your life in hell."

Michael wants to plead with Fiona, but no words came out. As she slammed the door shut, Michael opens his eyes. He looks around and realizes he was dreaming. Sinking back into the bed, he took his pillow and stuffs his face into it, letting out a heart wrenching scream as he curls up into a ball, praying for morning to come quickly.

Morning finally arrives. Dragging himself out of bed, Michael showers and gets dressed for his meeting with Strong that morning. Hating his home more than usual that morning, he leaves early for his meeting, stopping to get some fresh fruit at the market near him. He meets with Strong and receives his next set of directives.

"Michael, I'm not a warm and fuzzy guy, but I have to say you are looking more and more terrible each day. Anything I should know about?" Strong asks.

Not wanting to tip his hand and appear weak, Michael brushes off his dreams and answers "Don't worry about me. I'm fine."

Strong grabs Michael's arm and growls "You're not fine. Tell me what's going on or else I'll make a call and drag your group back to jail."

Michael glares at Strong and jerks his arm away. Through gritted teeth, Michael answers in an equally growling voice "You wouldn't understand. Was your life ripped away from you? Let me do my job and I'll deal with my problems myself."

"I told you this was the only way to keep your friends free and avoid them being charged for the crimes they helped you commit."

Michael kicks a rock that laid on the ground in front of him. "When do the dreams stop?"

Strong laughs. "Michael Westen is having nightmares? Your little tantrum here is because the bogeyman is waking you up at night." He laughed, but then turned serious. "I told you that I wanted the old Michael Westen. I wanted the Michael Westen that got the job done. Sympathy is not part of the deal." Strong hands Michael a bottle. "These are sleeping pills. Not strong enough to knock you out cold, but you won't dream."

Michael digs his hands in his pockets, pushing the pills down deep and plasters a fake smile on his face. "I'll call you after my meeting today and let you know the time its going down." Michael turns around and begins to walk away when he hears Strong calling his name. "I'm fine Strong. I'll be whatever you want me to be for this mission. The other stuff I can handle on my own."