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El Ojo del Diablo

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Meet my friend—El Ojo del Diablo. I met him when I was chasing Noriega around Panama. Now they have a tradition in the villages down there. When there's a fight, both sides lock themselves in a room and they drink this 'till they're bonkers. It helps them move right past their differences.

—Sam, on a bottle of liquor known as "El Ojo del Diablo," from "Reunion"

 

Michael and Fiona never accepted their fate. This time, their fate was consumption from the smoke and flames of a kill switch explosion in the Miami Chronicle building. Death was unacceptable for either of them.

Michael and Fiona ran away from James Kendrick's corpse and the flames from the explosion as fast as they could. The two found a hallway with a window at the end. Michael shot at it; the window shattered. Once they reached the shattered window, the two jumped.

Fiona swam to shore. Despite the smoke stinging her eyes as she stood up, she looked for any sign of Michael in Biscayne Bay.

But there was no sign of him anywhere.

 

Michael should've been able to get out of the water, what with his military training and all. But a projectile from the explosion knocked him unconscious as soon as he jumped in the water, causing him to drown. The coroner who did Michael's autopsy confirmed this.

The CIA arrested Fiona, Sam and Jesse. The CIA took them to a mixed gender private prison in Northern Virginia. Separated from each other, they learned of Michael's death from another man on behalf of the CIA. After learning about Michael's death, Sam threw things in his cell, against the wishes of the guards there. Jesse did nothing after he found out. Fiona cried for a while after she learned of Michael's death. At times she refused to eat. Sometimes she wouldn't sleep, staring at the ceiling instead.

Fiona, Sam and Jesse reunited at the CIA offices, where Andrew Strong told them they were all free to return to Miami. Michael, having died in the line of duty, would get his CIA star on the CIA Memorial Wall. Strong invited them back to see the star.

"And I have good news for Fiona," Strong said to the three of them. "We were going to deport Fiona and place her in the custody of MI6. Arthur Meyers of MI6 still has an interest in her."

"How dare you!"

"Calm down, Fiona."

"Do you know all the things that could've happened to my family if you put me in the hands of Arthur Meyers? And he wanted me dead because I used to be with the IRA. That's it. I never have or will harm innocent people. That's why I left the IRA. And he doesn't care about what I did after I left them."

Strong hushed her. "We decided that because of your role in this mission, we won't seek to deport you. And we've told Meyers to leave you alone on your behalf or he might find himself an English civilian again. Unless you get into some serious trouble, you can remain in the States for as long as you like. And if you need any help, especially since you're a foreign national, the CIA will help you out with whatever you need."

"I never thought you cared," Fiona said to Strong. Despite her pain, her wit was still intact.

"I wouldn't want anything to happen to my family because of my past. You're a good woman, Fiona, despite your Interpol rap sheet. Orange notice, huh?"

"I've already told you. I like blowing things up, not people. Although I might consider blowing some people up." She raised her eyebrows to Strong.

"Don't."

"Since you said the CIA would help me get anything I needed, I do have one small request."

"What's that?"

"Michael's nephew, Charlie. His father's dead. The State of Nevada says his mother's unfit to take care of him. I was close to him when his grandmother had custody of him. But now his grandmother's dead. I feel like I can provide a stable environment for him foster care can't provide."

"Are you saying you'd like us to help you out in adopting Charlie?"

Fiona nodded.

"We'll do all that we can."

 

"This is the second time you've gotten arrested because of your friends, Sam," Elsa said when Sam got back to their penthouse. "I let the first time go because I thought I'd get to see you in Argentina or wherever you and your friends were planning to live. Then I heard you got arrested at some CIA prison camp. I didn't think you'd get arrested again, so I let you come back into the penthouse. And then you the authorities put a bounty over your head. To be honest with you, I'm not surprised that you've gotten yourself arrested. But how are you going to be a good role model to my son if you're going to let your friends get you arrested over and over again?"

"It's the nature of the job, sweetie. Sometimes I get arrested."

"If you worked as a detective or a bounty hunter or something, maybe you wouldn't get arrested so much."

"I had no idea I was going to get arrested!"

"You should stay with your friends just in case you get arrested for a third time. It'll be easier on your friends and me. I want you out in twenty-four hours."

"My best friend and his mother just died. Can't I have a few days?"

"No. Don't you have friends to grieve with? You can plan their funerals together."

"Mike's Aunt Jill already planned his mother's funeral. She allowed my friends and me to plan his funeral."

"It was still a good guess. If you need a set of luggage, I have a three piece set and a four piece set. Tell me which one you need and I'll roll it on out."

 

Elsa did allow Sam to keep his car she bought him, along with the four piece set of luggage he chose when Elsa asked to pack his things. He sat in his car in the parking garage and thought about where he could stay until he could find himself another sugar mama.

Off the bat, Madeline's house and Jesse's apartment were out. There were three other places Sam could go. Options one and two were hotels and motels. Option three was Fiona's house. There was an option four: living in his car. He decided not to think about option four until it happened. That is, if it did happen.

Sam didn't want to spend time in any sort of motel or hotel. The motels were cheap, but they had questionable service. Also, there were no minibars. The hotels were expensive, but they had minibars in them. Sam had enough money for motels, but it would be a matter of time until his money ran out. And the cheapest place in Miami considered a hotel would still be too expensive for him for a night.

The only place he could stay was Fiona's house. It wasn't like he hadn't stayed there before. Fiona's house used to be the house of a notorious smuggler, Colin Schmidt. Sam had spent time there while the team thought they were about to leave the country to escape the CIA. Fiona moved in to Schmidt's house for good after Michael joined the CIA again. She stayed there even after Michael returned in her life. And now Charlie had moved in with her. Maybe there was a slim chance he could find a comfortable spot in Fiona's house.

With no place to live without draining his bank account until he could find himself another sugar mama, Sam headed to Fiona's.

 

With Michael's friends arrested and Madeline dead, Charlie lived in a foster home for a few days. Florida child services discovered Fiona had an interest in adopting Charlie. They almost tried to get Charlie's grandaunt Jill to adopt him. Jill didn't contest Charlie living with Fiona; she didn't see Charlie as much as Fiona had been seeing him. She thought Fiona would be a perfect fit for an adoptive mother.

Fiona was taking a break from jobs while she was helping to plan Michael's funeral. That gave her plenty of time to reconnect with Charlie. The two were playing with Charlie's fire truck when Fiona heard Sam's car pull up in her driveway.

Fiona put her finger to her lips. Charlie saw her signal and stopped playing.

Fiona walked towards the door. When she checked the peephole of the door and saw Sam walking to the door with half of the luggage Elsa gave him, she sighed. Fiona opened the door and stood in the doorway. "Sam, what the hell are you doing here?"

"You never change, Fi."

Fiona crossed her arms. "I need you to be serious with me, Sam. Why are you at my house, unannounced, with two pieces of luggage in your hands?"

"It's four pieces. Elsa let me have four pieces of luggage."

"Sam!"

"Okay, okay! Elsa got fed up with me because I was on TV and the CIA arrested me again. She kicked me out of the penthouse."

"You couldn't live with Jesse?"

"Can you see me sleeping on a couch? And have you seen his bed? There's more room on a prison cot. And you torched Maddie's house, so even if I wanted to sneak in there, that's not an option."

"No. I suggested Madeline burn down her house as a distraction. We burnt it down together." She took a breath. "Michael lived in the loft for several months after we blew it up." She looked down.

"He said it was the best place to stay while he was working on his mission, but to tell you the truth, I think he was too proud to live with any of us. Even if he had to sleep on Jesse's ratty couch. I'm not Mikey. I can't sleep on a broken-down mattress. And besides, it's not my style."

Fiona looked up at Sam.

"I don't want to sleep with you. If you still have one of those guest rooms open, I'll sleep in there. Once I get back on my feet, I'll be out of your hair. I mean, it's long enough as it is."

Fiona sighed. "Okay. Until you get on your feet again. I don’t want to know what you mean by that, by the way."

"The other two pieces of luggage are still in the trunk, if you'd like to grab those for me."

Fiona went to Sam's trunk and grabbed the luggage. It took a while for Fiona to get the two pieces inside her house. Sam's luggage was full, and Charlie hugging Sam stopped her progress a bit. But the luggage made it in without anything in the house getting knocked over.

 

Since Michael was once a Ranger, he was entitled to a military funeral. And, by law, there was a casket team from the Army to perform duties at the burial. Sam wanted to take part in the burial, even though he was a SEAL. The Army allowed Sam to give a volley salute to Michael. He was the only person in the volley, as opposed to the three people that made up a small rifle party. Michael also wished to have bagpipes playing at his funeral. So instead of a bugler, his friends hired a Scottish bagpipe player. And the bagpipe player played "Amazing Grace" before a worker at the cemetery played a recording of "Taps."

Michael's friends were there at his funeral, of course. Charlie was there. Jill was there. And there were some of the people Michael met along the way among the mourners. There was Carlos, Fiona's ex-boyfriend. Barry, the money launderer Michael's team relied on most. Strong was also there.

The seating for the burial was awkward.  Fiona allowed Carlos to sit in the front row. Carlos was still grateful for Michael saving his life. But he was still bitter at Fiona for choosing Michael over him. He would've preferred Fiona standing up to him and breaking up with him earlier. The large picture of Michael from his days with the Rangers added to the tension between Fiona and Carlos. He ended up sitting in the chair furthest to the left of Michael's coffin. He never bothered to look to his right.

Strong refused to sit in the front row, opting to stand during Michael's burial. Barry was unwilling to stand, so he sat next to Carlos. Jill was stuck between Barry and Jesse. Charlie sat between Jesse and Fiona, who was at the far right end. She had to sit there because she was the one that was going to receive Michael's flag after the casket team removed it from his casket.

When Sam shot off rounds from his rifle, Charlie covered his ears.

"It's okay, Charlie," Fiona whispered to Charlie. "It's a tribute to your Uncle Michael. Uncle Sam isn't trying to scare you or anything."

Charlie nodded and took his hands off of his ears when Sam finished with the rifle. The casket team folded up the flag on Michael's casket. Sam slid in the three shell-casings, already shot off in advance, in the folded flag. A member of the casket team took the prepared flag to Fiona, kneeling in front of her. He recited the Army's flag presentation speech to her. After the solider stood up and walked away from Fiona, Sam and Fiona's eyes met.

Graveyard workers lowered Michael into the ground. Most of the burial party, including the casket team and the bagpipe player, disbanded after the funeral. Sam, Charlie and Fiona were the last to leave. They talked to Jesse and said their goodbyes for the afternoon to him.

"Guess it's time for us to go home," Fiona said. "Well, my home that you're freeloading in."

"It's only a short term housing arrangement."

"Until you 'get back on your feet.' I know." She paused. "It's going to be hard living without Michael. I always dreamed of us owning a little cabin in Ireland, away from the cities and towns. Just a little place to call our own while we worked jobs together. And now…now we'll never have that."

"You have me."

"I'm happy to have your friendship, Sam, but you can't replace what Michael and I had overnight."

"Don't you think I know that? I happen to be living in your house right now. We can grieve together."

Sam grabbed Fiona's hand. Fiona grabbed Charlie's hand.

"Is it okay if we walk to your car like this?" Sam asked. "Jokes aside, I'm still a bit shaken over Mikey's death, too."

Fiona shrugged. "There's no one in the cemetery right now. Why not?"

 

Fiona missed Michael and loved taking care of Charlie. But she didn't want her dating life to take a back seat to either one of them. If she had success with Carlos for a little while, why not go back into the dating pool? (But not with Carlos. Her chances with Carlos had passed. Ditto with John Campbell. And she had lost track of her other ex-boyfriends before Campbell a long time ago.)

A couple of months after Michael's death, Fiona met Ernesto at Carlito's. He was single and he didn't mind dating a woman who considered herself a widow and had recently become a single adoptive mother. They set a lunch date for a Friday.

There was one thing: Sam was still living with her. Unlike Fiona, he had hit a dry spell. He couldn't find a sugar mama that didn't hate him and wanted to bring him in her house. He hadn't moved out in three months.

Fiona didn't tell Ernesto about Sam. But she did try to get Sam out of the house with Charlie.

The day of Fiona's date with Ernesto, Fiona gave Sam one hundred dollars. This was an inopportune time for Sam, as he had stripped down to his swim trunks and was about to hop into the Jacuzzi.

"I need you to take Charlie somewhere for the afternoon," Fiona said.

"Huh? Why now?"

"I don't want him to find out I'm living with you."

"What's wrong with me?"

Fiona stammered. "If some guys see a man in a woman's house, they'll assume they're sleeping with the man in the house."

"You know you can tell him the truth, right? You're housing a buddy of yours until he can find his own place?"

"Wait until I tell Ernesto you're more or less a gigolo. Take the money and use it to have fun with Charlie."

Sam sighed. "Alright."

 

Sam arrived with Charlie before Ernesto and Fiona could get to her house.

Sam opened the door to Fiona's house. Charlie was in the back seat. Sam picked up Charlie and laid him down on Fiona's couch. He wet a cloth with cold water and put it on Charlie's head. Next, he turned the temperature down in the house. Sam sat beside Charlie, checking Charlie's body every so often to make sure it was okay.

Ernesto and Fiona were making out when the two entered her house later. Fiona shrieked when she saw Sam and Charlie and the living room.

"Who's he?" Ernesto asked. "You didn't tell me you already had a guy."

Fiona stammered. "He's my roommate. And he's taking care of my son while he's looking for a place."

Ernesto walked out.

"Ernesto? Ernesto?"

Ernesto walked out of Fiona's sight. She never saw him again.

Fiona walked back into her house. "Sam, I told you to take Charlie out for the afternoon. And now I won't be able to get my happy ending with him."

"I did. But the little tyke developed a fever while we were out. Did you want him out in this Miami weather feeling like he's about to explode?"

"Oh…oh."

"You should take the kid to bed and feed him some soup or ice cream."

"Or both. Why can't he have both?"

Sam took the cloth off of Charlie's head. Fiona picked up Charlie and took him to bed. Once he was in his pajamas, Fiona fed him as much soup and ice cream as Charlie was willing to eat. When Charlie fell asleep, Fiona kissed Sam on his cheek. "Thank you for taking care of Charlie while I was out."

"Why wouldn't I? I know how much he means to you."

 

Fiona continued to try and date other men. But it felt like Sam would always come in her way.

Charlie got sick on another occasion while Fiona took a date to Michy's, a restaurant in midtown Miami. Sam annoyed her during her date with several phone calls and texts.

On another occasion, a topless and wet Sam met Fiona and another date in the living room. He had just come from the Jacuzzi and was looking for a beer in her fridge, all without Fiona's knowledge.

There was also the time Sam's car was stuck on Interstate 95 during rush hour. Since Charlie was with Sam, Fiona had to go and pick up the two before calling a tow truck to get the car off the busy interstate. Fiona had to cancel her date.

All this came to a head when Sam once again met Fiona and one of her dates with swim trunks and a towel in her living room.

When the date ran out of Fiona's house, Fiona let out a loud groan. "Sam, I need you to move out."

"This wouldn't happen if you told your dates about me."

"I thought you getting back on your feet wouldn't take months when I let you stay here."

"I'm tired of being your default babysitter whenever you want to get your groove on. And I'm tired of always being your dirty little secret every time you bring a guy over."

"That's not stopping you from getting back on your feet."

"Oh, I think making me your babysitter is part of the problem. I haven't had a chance to meet any ladies since I've been here."

"If you can't meet the ladies here, why don't you move out and stay with Jesse? You two get along better than you and I."

"You're right. I do regret not staying with him and his ratty couch. Let me get my things ready."

"Charlie's sleeping. You can get your things in the morning."

"Now you care about whether Charlie's sleeping or not? You don't give a damn right now about how loud you are."

"Your voice is loud!"

"Charlie doesn't deserve this. I'm still getting my things right now."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

Sam started walking down the hallway leading to Fiona's bedrooms. Fiona ran up to him and slammed him against the walls.

"You're waiting until the morning and that's final."

Instead of anyone doing anything, the two looked into each other's eyes.

"I think I know a way to keep you from doing anything."

She pulled him closer to her and kissed him. Sam broke the kiss.

"I might get desperate sometimes, but I'm not that desperate."

Fiona shook her head. "You were kissing me back. You're just as desperate as I am."

The two kissed again. They managed to grope and kiss their way into Fiona's bedroom. Fiona threw him on the bed.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Sam said as he was removing Fiona's top.

"Anything to get you to stop doing anything."

"Likewise. Anything to get you to shut up."

It took minutes for them to get naked. Fiona spat in her hand, grabbed Sam's cock and stroked him until he was erect. Sam had get up and waddle with his erection to put a condom on. After he lied down on her bed, Fiona lowered herself onto him and rode him as fast and hard as she could. She sighed as she felt the need to finger her clit from all her aggressive riding.

"If fucking your brains out doesn't work…" Fiona said.

"I don't think it's working."

"Shut up."

Fiona's aggressive riding caused her to come, and she came hard. She almost forgot that her goal was trying to get Sam to come. She got off of Sam and stroked him again, going as fast as she could. The condom and her lubrication made it easy for her to jerk him off. Sam came into the condom. Fiona removed the condom and disposed of it.

Sam dozed off after he came. Fiona went back to bed and slept beside him.

To her surprise, she found Sam spooning up against her, his left arm wrapped around her waist, in the morning.

 

Later that morning, Sam walked into Fiona's living room. Fiona was preparing a tote bag. "I've decided to stay here for the moment," Sam said to her.

"Well, of course you have to stay here. I've got a job. You can move out when I get back. And whenever I need a babysitter, I'm taking Charlie to Jesse's place."

"No, you don't understand. I'm not moving in with Jesse. I'm staying here."

Fiona stared at him. "I kept you from trying to move out in the middle of the night. What we did was not an invitation for you to stay."

"I wanted to move out. And now you're going to try and force me out?"

Fiona frowned. "No. You can stay. But we're not doing that again. I had my frustrations, you had your frustrations. It happened. You're going to find your sugar mama. I'm going to date a guy and have casual sex with him in peace. But we're not doing that again."

In reality she did want to do that again. But she kept it a secret.

 

"We gotta take Charlie over to his Uncle Jesse's," Sam said one afternoon. "I got a job."

Fiona's eyes narrowed at Sam. "Why are we dropping off Charlie to his Uncle Jesse's?"

"Chuck Finley's going to a charity ball to find a kidnapper."

"Why can't you do the job with Jesse?"

"I was hoping to do the job with you. I heard the kidnapper was a lady."

"I—I can't do it, Sam."

"Why not? You're not doing anything."

"I have to stay here with Charlie this evening."

Sam sighed. "Okay. I'll call Jesse about the job. We can handle it. But if I introduce him as my date, it could get a little awkward."

"What, it's not the White Party?"

"Of course it's not the White Party. It's some gala for some children's organization I've never heard of."

"Have fun."

A couple of hours later, as Fiona played army men with Charlie, she blurted out "I miss your Uncle Sam."

"He'll be back," Charlie said.

"I want to see him right now…oh, forget I ever said that. Let's tuck you into bed."

 

The next day, around breakfast, Sam was about to leave Fiona's place when Fiona met Sam at the door. "Why are you standing in my way?" Sam said. "I gotta get ready for my date tonight."

"We need to talk."

"No, we don't. I think I finally found the one woman in Miami who doesn't hate my guts."

"Maybe that woman is me."

Sam blinked. "Unless your name is Sandra Johnston, I don't think you're that woman."

Fiona shook her head. "Stop denying it, Sam."

Sam looked at Fiona, a frown on his face.

"I made scrambled eggs, toast, and Virgin Marys. Yes, I know you'd rather have a Bloody Mary, but Charlie lives with me now. And this is the type of thing we need to discuss sober."

 

"When I invited you into my house, I was expecting us to fight like we usually fight." Fiona shoved a forkful of eggs in her mouth. "We get together, we trade barbs and that's it. I wasn't expecting it to spill over into my love life. And I think the same thing happened with your love life as well."

"You're right. We don't fight like this. And we've lived together before."

"And when we lived together, we didn't live together for extended periods of time. It was a few days. And Michael was with us."

Sam sipped his Virgin Mary. "Mikey kept us from chewing our heads off for a while."

"You have your heads," Charlie said.

Fiona laughed. "It's a figure of speech. Your Uncle Michael kept us from getting into a lot of fights when he was alive."

"Oh."

"But I think something else is happening with us," Fiona said to Sam. "I know what you did after we…we did that thing."

Sam nodded. "Yeah."

"And before that, there was the funeral."

"Oh, yeah, the funeral. We held hands there."

"And I should've gone with you on that charity ball job."

"I'm glad you didn't go. The woman who ran the charity ball was the kidnapper. Someone sent a tip to the police so they could crash the ball and arrest the woman. Jesse and I didn't do a thing there."

Fiona snickered.

"But I've got another job lined up, and I think it'll be perfect for us. A client's hired Chuck Finley to catch a pair of wedding crashing thieves. But, according to my client, Chuck Finley needs a date. And all my ex-girlfriends are out."

"I hope Sandra Johnston is out."

"Yeah, she's out."

Fiona ate more of her eggs. "I can't be your sugar mama. Not like I'd want to be your sugar mama. You have to go out there and bust your butt for your own money."

"I'm willing to take some more jobs so I can stay here."

Fiona nodded. "I'm glad we're doing this. I dated a man I didn't love for months because I thought he would be better for me than the man I was pining for. And when the man I did love and I reconciled, it was too late. I lost him again for good. Maybe I'll find my happy ending with you."

"Maybe. Although if this doesn't work out, I don't think Sandra will be around to take me back. I might have to dip into the Fort Lauderdale singles pool. The only thing I don't like about that is the forty minute commute between here and Fort Lauderdale."

"I'd worry less about that and more about Charlie surviving Jesse's apartment."

"Is it scary?"

"No, Charlie," Fiona said. "Or, at least, I hope not."

 

Jesse blinked when he saw Fiona and Sam at his doorstep in a black dress and tuxedo. They had their arms wrapped around each others' backs as if they had loved each other for years. Charlie, already dressed in his dinosaur pajamas, was in front of them.

"Don't you think you two are pretending a bit too much for a job?" Jesse said.

Sam laughed. "Yeah, it's a job, but it's also our date of sorts."

"O…kay."

"We think we're in love with each other," Fiona said. "I don't know how to explain it, but it just happened."

"Yeah." Jesse nodded. "That's a perfect way of describing it. I know if I moved in with you two, I'd keep my distance."

Fiona raised her eyebrows. "Maybe you should move in with us." She gave Jesse a flirtatious look. "I don't believe that three's a crowd. The more, the merrier."

"No thanks. The couch and I are staying together."

"Oh, too bad."

"Don't worry," Sam said. "If this thing's a fluke, we're going to go buy a room in a hotel for a weekend and order every cocktail on the menu."

"I hope you're not planning to make out that weekend."

"Jesse, we're not having sex. We're going to get so drunk we're going to forget we even lived with each other."

Fiona nodded.

Jesse took Charlie's hand. "Let's go in and start watching whatever's on Disney Junior."

 

At the wedding, Fiona and Sam's client sat Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Finley next to the wedding gifts.

"I’m bored," Fiona said, twisting a napkin. "This is our sort of date. We can't keep staring at those presents over there expecting the bastards to show up out of the blue for the money for the bride and groom."

"That's our job for the night, Charlotte. Make sure all the presents are safe."

The DJ at the wedding started spinning a slow smooth jazz song, a cover of an R&B song from the '90s. Fiona got up from her chair.

"I'm going to dance with someone, Charles, even if it isn't you."

Sam followed her. "And break up this marriage? No way."

Sam caught up with Fiona. He outstretched his hand and she took it. They headed towards the dance floor.

Fiona leaned in closer to Sam, her head on her chest. Sam wrapped his arm around her back.

"This feels good," Fiona said. "I like this."

"I do too. I never thought I'd say this, but you're growing on me."

The two only got to dance to one song before they saw something suspicious. A man and a woman, both with champagne flutes, were hanging around the presents. The man took something off the table and slid it in his pocket. The woman did the same thing, except the woman put her stolen item in a small purse.

Fiona sighed as the two stopped dancing in the middle of the floor. "Guess it's time to go back to work. You get the man, I'll get the woman."

 

Fiona and Sam were able to chase and tackle the thieves before they could leave the banquet hall. The police came and apprehended the two thieves, and their client handed Fiona and Sam their pay on the spot.

Fiona and Sam were leaving the banquet hall when Fiona grabbed his right arm. "I have a secret."

"Is it a bad one?"

"No. I hope it's a good one. I liked having sex with you that night."

"Yeah, you're not bad. You're not as good as me—"

Fiona gave Sam a light punch in his ribs.

"Okay, you're just as good as I am."

"We don't have to pick up Charlie right now. I can call Jesse, tell him the job went long, and we can go home and continue this date until the morning."

Sam stopped walking when he saw Fiona licking her top lip. "You do that."

 

Jesse's jaw dropped when he saw Fiona and Sam at his door the next day. "Oh, oh. You're cuddling Sam now, Fi? Your head's on his chest? And your hand is over his heart?"

"I didn't notice."

"And why is your hand wrapped around Fi's back, Sam?"

"We've been friends longer since we've known you."

"You two made me babysit Charlie so you could have sex."

Fiona shook her head. "He's amazing."

"No, you're amazing."

"You're moving into my bedroom tonight."

"Oh-ho-ho-ho!"

"I don't want to hear it," Jesse said.

Charlie ran up to Jesse's door. "Mom!"

Fiona hugged Charlie. "Hello, Charlie."

"Are you dating?"

"Dating your Uncle Sam?"

"Yeah."

Fiona nodded. "We're dating."

"Yay! No fights."

"Oh, so you've heard?"

"Yeah."

"I can't promise anymore fighting. I can promise less fighting. I'm sorry, Charlie."

"It's okay."

Jesse cleared his throat. "I'm going to leave the three of you to go back into your sort of non-marital bliss here. I still need time to get over you two being serious about this dating thing."

Fiona laughed. "Say goodbye to your Uncle Jesse, Charlie."

"Bye, Uncle Jesse."

 

Over time, Fiona and Sam were able to do a lot of things together. They did jobs while Jesse babysat Charlie. The jobs were harder to juggle now. With Madeline and Michael dead and Charlie in need of a guardian, they were down a few hands. And those couple of hands would've been useful whenever someone captured or trapped either Fiona or Sam. But their jobs were still the same. They fought Cuban gangs in Little Havana. They stopped drug lords from terrorizing families in Little Haiti and Overtown. They did security for wealthy clients in Brickell and on the islands between Miami and Miami Beach. They scared off people pulling scams on elderly people in Coconut Grove. Whenever someone needed help, and whenever Jesse was available to babysit, Fiona and Sam were there.

And when the two weren't tired out from their jobs, they went on dates. Sam remembered Fiona lamenting about not being able to go anywhere because of the burn notice and Michael's CIA job. He decided to take her to some of the places she said she wanted to go. It did feel weird at first to treat Fiona to dates. Not only was Fiona his former platonic friend, his girlfriends spent on him while he took it for granted. But he sucked it up. Fiona had seen too many disappointments in her life. Sam wanted to see Fiona happy.

Trips to Paris and Venice would take a bit of time; he needed more money for Paris and Venice. But he had some cash stashed here and there for dates and staycations. Sam took Fiona to the Forge Restaurant and bought her a bottle of Kosta Browne pinot noir from the Sonoma Valley there. He booked a weekend stay in the Biltmore Hotel, complete with dinner at the hotel and spa sessions.

Fiona never noticed Sam struggling to take her on nice dates. All she cared about was his company. (Although the dates were nice.)

One date found the two talking about their future, and it wasn't even an expensive date at a restaurant or a hotel at all. Fiona took Charlie to Lummus Beach so he could play around in the sand and surf. Sam came with her.

The two were watching Charlie make a small sandcastle from lounge chairs.

Fiona gripped Sam's arm. "I've always wondered what it was like to be someone's wife."

Sam blew a raspberry. "I've been there before. You know, being married? It's not the best thing in the world."

"I know. You've told me. Several times, in fact."

"Are you telling me you want to get—"

"No, no. Not if you're not comfortable with it." She looked out into the ocean for a while before speaking again. "Did I ever tell you about that job I did with Michael in Venezuela, that job the CIA wanted him to do with Pearce but he invited me instead?"

"The one that happened before Pearce arrested us all for murder?"

"Yeah, that one."

"If you've had to endure me talking about Andrea every so often, I can listen to this. Go ahead."

"The CIA made us pretend to be Mr. and Mrs. Jenson at the resort we did the extraction at, so the CIA gave Michael and me some wedding rings. The wedding ring wasn't bad, but the engagement ring had a cubic zirconia diamond and a terrible princess cut. I hated the extraction at first, but the trip wasn't bad. I got to spend time with Michael, even if he was a little distracted.

"Anyway, we had just gotten here from Venezuela. Michael was going to put our things back in the loft and I was going to get that dress he made me ruin tailored into a skirt. That never happened, by the way. I had trouble getting the rings off my finger. Michael took the rings off for me. He said he was going to keep the rings for another job if we were going to be fake married for a job. I told him to get an Asscher-cut diamond if we ever did a job like that again. I would've loved to have gotten married to Michael."

"It took his death for the CIA to leave us all alone."

Fiona put her head on Sam's bare chest. "I'm married to him in my dreams. Forever. That'll be enough for me."

Sam stroked Fiona's hair. He looked up at the sky. Maybe it was time for him to get married again after all.

 

"So now you want a divorce from Andrea." Jesse gave Sam a skeptical look. The two were in Jesse's apartment.

"I have a feeling Fiona wants to get married."

"You're not going to tell her you're getting a divorce."

"No. I want it to be a surprise. And then I'm going to propose to her, and we'll elope."

"A surprise divorce. It's what every new bride dreams of."

"I've talked to a few buddies of mine about divorce. Since I live here, if I want a divorce, I can have the divorce granted to me, even if Andrea doesn't want the divorce."

"Okay."

"I have to serve her papers. I'm hoping the lawyer can find her as fast as they can. And I hope she agrees upfront to the divorce and we don't have to go to court. Then I'll be in real trouble. I've got a mediator and a dirt-cheap lawyer that doesn't give a shit about driving around Miami in a Rolls-Royce. I'm hoping she can find a cheap lawyer, too. I'm hoping to pay around five thousand dollars . I don't know what I'll do if the divorce gets to twenty thousand dollars."

Jesse nodded. "Dirt-cheap lawyer. That's good. But why are you here? If you wanted to see a Heat game, we could've bought tickets to the game instead of watching it on Sun Sports."

"I need to find all my financial documents."

"Sam, I thought you had financial consultants."

"Well, it doesn't hurt to have someone else look for the documents we're missing. The faster I can find those documents, the faster I can get engaged to Fiona."

"I have another question. If you only want to spend five thousand dollars on your divorce, how much are you paying for your elopement?"

Sam stared at Jesse for a minute or so. "I think I'll need a cheap pastor."

 

Three months later, Fiona, Charlie and Sam went back to Lummus Beach. Sam had his divorce papers tucked away in a book. He pulled them out. "I've done it."

"Done what?"

Sam gave her the divorce papers. "I got a divorce!"

"Why?"

"Remember that chat we had a few months ago? I did it. I got divorced from Andrea. We separated on good terms. I'm a free man now. And before you get mad at him, Jesse helped."

"Sam, I didn't tell you to get divorced. I said I would've loved to have gotten married to Michael while he was still alive."

"I know that. But I thought you were telling me something else." Sam pulled out a ring case from a bag beside his beach chair.

"Sam, you can't be doing this right now. We're going to Washington for the memorial service for CIA officers soon. Strong invited us back to see Michael's star, remember?"

"That's not stopping me from doing this."

Sam got out of his lounge chair. He got down on his right knee, in front of Fiona. People turned towards the two of them on the beach.

"When are we getting married?" Fiona asked.

"Whenever you want to. We have a small family. I was hoping we could elope with Charlie, Jesse, a photographer and a pastor. We don't need a thousand guests. But you won't let me do two things. One, you're not letting me call Charlie over here."

"Well, do that."

"Charlie?"

"Yes, Uncle Sam?"

"Come here. I got something to show you and your mom."

Charlie stopped making his sandcastle and walked over to where Sam and Fiona were. "What is it?"

Sam opened the ring box. "You never said what type of metal you wanted for your engagement ring. I hope eighteen karat white gold's okay. But I made sure it was Asscher-cut. And it's a diamond. It's not a cubic zirconia."

Fiona's jaw dropped.

"Second time's a charm?"

"Get on with it, Sam."

"Fiona Glenanne, will you marry me?"

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but yes, Sam. I will marry you."

Sam placed the ring on Fiona's right finger. The two kissed. The audience at the beach cheered.

 

Michael's friends and nephew flew back to Washington to attend the memorial service in front of the CIA Memorial Wall. Along with other people in attendance for other fallen CIA officers, some of Michael's CIA allies had also made the event. Strong had been instrumental in getting Dani Pearce flown back from Mumbai to the States for the memorial service. Lucy Chen and Dan Siebels were there as well.

Michael's star was already carved into the wall and painted black. Against the other stars on the wall with older, graying paint, Michael's star stuck out.

The director of the CIA spoke of Michael's sacrifice for his country. He also mentioned how Michael was instrumental in bringing down James Kendrick's terrorist operation. Michael's discovery of Tom Card's corrupt plans was also mentioned. Of course, the speech had to end with Michael discovering and ending the organization that burned him.

After the memorial service was over, Michael's friends went over to see his star. Fiona touched it, tracing the star with her fingers.

"Don't worry about us, Michael," Fiona said. "We're okay."

She grabbed Sam's hand. The two looked at each other. Charlie looked at Sam and Fiona looking at each other.

"Hey, look, man, I had nothing to do with this," Jesse added.

 

Sam and Fiona eloped to the Village of Islamorada, ninety minutes south of Miami. As Sam promised, a wedding photographer, a pastor, Jesse and Charlie went with them. They invited no one else.

Sam and Fiona held the wedding off of a beachside hotel in the Village as the sun was setting. The photographer took pictures of the two in front of the pastor saying their vows as Charlie and Jesse watched.

"I'd never thought we'd ever be friends when we first met," Sam said. "I'd thought we'd be enemies forever. I was a SEAL, loyal to my country, and you were a threat to the United States. And I thought my retirement would be drinking in every Miami bar and living with women who'd take care of me. Then you came to Miami. Somehow, we didn't end up killing each other. Fiona, you've become one of my best friends and one of my few lady friends. I'll be proud to spend the rest of my life with you as your husband."

"I'm still angry about that Libyan arms deal, Sam. But not as much as I once was. We united to help a friend of ours out with same things he needed help for. It took a few years, and it didn't end up the way he wanted it to end. We were enemies at first. But if you never liked me, you wouldn't have helped me out when I needed help. And if I never liked you, I would've let you suffer instead of helping you out. I have faith our partnership will continue with me as your wife."

The pastor blinked. "Okay. You two may exchange rings."

Sam and Fiona placed their wedding rings on their hands.

The pastor paused before speaking. "This is one of the most unusual ceremonies I've ever officiated. Both of you have had such violent pasts, and you both don't seem unnerved by most of it. But the point is this: you two have turned a series of tragedies into something to celebrate for yourselves. I wish you two well in your future endeavors. You may now kiss the bride."

Sam and Fiona kissed. They walked away from the pastor after the ceremony, hand in hand.

"Gentlemen, I present to you the unified couple of Samuel Axe and Fiona Glenanne!"

Jesse and Charlie clapped.

 

The reception was in a hotel room. Before the wedding, Fiona and Sam decided to spend some time with Jesse and Charlie after the wedding. Then Fiona and Sam would fly out from Key West to Miami International Airport and then to Paris. Jesse and Charlie would return to Miami to live together until Fiona and Sam returned.

"I have some surprises for you when we arrive in Paris," Fiona said, whispering in Sam's ear as they danced.

"Yeah? What are those?"

"In my luggage, I have some metal handcuffs, my head bag, some rope and some zip ties."

"Fi, I thought we were going to spend a week not worrying about an overseas job."

"This isn't for an overseas job."

"Oh. But why do you need metal handcuffs and zip ties?"

"I never said I was going to use the zip ties on hands."

"Oh."

Fiona smiled at Sam. "So, are you ready for our next adventure after our honeymoon?"

"What adventure?"

"Married life, Sam. Doing jobs, taking care of Charlie together and all that."

"Oh, of course. Living with you and Charlie hasn't driven me bonkers. It's the best thing that's happened to me since I retired." Sam stroked Fiona's cheek. "I'm ready for more adventure."

"Can't wait, partner."

The two of them kissed and smiled as they waited for time to give them a new adventure.