Wednesday, November 21, 2012

38 Weeks: The Fifth Week

A/N: Burn Notice romantic fluff. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

By the start of the fifth week, Michael was ready to put his plan, "Romantic Date Night: Number One," into action. And like many of his plans, he hit a snag not too far into it. The thing about no longer being part of a quasi-governmental conspiracy is that he no longer has much of an excuse to head out on his own for hours at a time. And since he works and lives with Fi, he's pretty much lost the ability to just wander off for hours at a time without some sort of cover story.

And what he wants to do is going to take long enough he can't just cover it with a grocery run. Fi will get suspicious if he claims to have spent three hours getting yogurt. 

But a grocery run is more than enough time to cover a call to Sam.

"Hey Sam."

"How's date night prep going?"

"Uh. Fine."

"You've already hit a snag."

He rolls his eyes at the phone. "Yes. Does Elsa's hotel have a spa?"

"Of course. Best in Miami, as you might have known first hand if you had used that gift certificate I got you." Sam can almost feel Michael shrug in response. "You do know what's involved in being a five star hotel, right?"

"I'm vaguely aware of the concept. Usually if I'm in a five star hotel, I'm not partaking of the amenities."

"Fair enough. What do you need?"

"To get Fi out of the house today. Can you get her to the hotel? I can get the spa day and some sort of card or something set up, but I want it to be a surprise."

"Can do, Mike." Sam pauses and seems to be thinking about something. "Elsa's not too busy today, no meetings. Mind if I piggy-back onto this?"

"No.  Both of them together will probably take longer. More time is a good thing."

"Exactly. I'll get Fi over here in an hour. Is that long enough for you to get this part set up?"

"Should be fine. What's the name of the spa manager?"

Sam gave him the details of who to call, and Michael hung up and called The Dearabon. Talking to the spa manager let him know they were pretty well booked up all day. Mentioning that this was for Elsa and Fi took care of the booked up issue. Adding a thirty percent tip resulted in a spa manager who was willing to just about bend over backward to do whatever he wanted. So getting a bottle of good champagne with a card that said, "Thought you both deserved a day off—Michael and Sam" added to the spa day wasn't too tricky either.    

Michael got back to the house forty minutes later. Fi looked like she hadn't been up for long. She was still in her bathrobe, hair wet, and eating some breakfast on the porch.

He began unloading groceries.

"What do you want to do today?" she asked as she came in, cereal bowl empty.

"Not sure. No jobs on the horizon. We could go visit my mom." They had been trying to do that more often. Maddie was healing from the emotional trauma of the last few months, but that wasn't the same thing as healed, or even close to healed. When they got back, when it was all done, she had started hosting Sunday dinner at her house, and all of them made sure to make it each week.

Trying to make a conscious effort to act like a family, and to hold their loves close.

"Sounds like a good idea. How about we hit the beach after? I feel like I've been inside too much lately," Fi said.

"We've both been sleeping a lot."

"Today we can nap in the sun."

Michael smiles. "That sounds really good. How about you get into your bikini, and then I'll put some sunblock on you."

"Might be hours before we get to the beach."

He grins, and she knows how putting sunblock on is going to end. Granted they don't have a ton of furniture, but they do have a bed, and it's awfully sturdy. Which they know, first hand, because they've been testing it, a whole lot. 

"Can't be too careful in the sun. Not with your pretty Irish skin. I'll put more of it on you closer to time."  

She laughs and hands him her cereal bowl. He's washing up when he hears her cell ring. "Sam...Uh huh...I had plans...Okay...Fine...This better not take too long..."

She comes out of their bedroom a minute later in shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt. "Sam called. He's having some sort of 'ladyfriend issue' that needs my immediate help." She rolls her eyes. "He should just find his wife and get that marriage taken care of. I don't know how he's going to get out of this twice. Anyway... I'm off.   Back soon, I hope."

He kisses her. "Have fun."

She smiles and heads off, and Michael begins to unpack the rest of the groceries.

He's never made sushi before, but that doesn't mean he can't. He's got yellowfin tuna, Fi's favorite, edamame, a bottle of excellent sake, and a few other goodies lying in wait. And what he's not going to make, he's going to pick up from Fi's favorite sushi place.

His cell buzzes as he's watching youtube videos on sushi making, letting him know he's got a text.  

A day off?

Thought you'd like it.

You did, or Sam did?

Believe it or not, I did. Sam's using my good idea on this one.

:) See you tonight.

See you.

Half an hour of youtube videos later, he feels pretty well prepared to turn the tuna into sashimi. Mostly it's a matter of knife skills and picking out good fish, both of which he's way better than average at. Sticky-rice, on the other hand, appears to be something that takes years of practice to get just right, so he's thinking that'll be something he gets to-go.

So... if she gets back around seven, that means he's got eight hours from now until he needs to have dinner ready to go.  Okay, more than enough time.

Shopping time.

While it is true that Michael and Fi have enough things that burn to set fire to all of downtown Miami, they don't have a large collection of plain old candles. Half a dozen incendiaries are all hiding in different corners of their home, but white pillars made of paraffin, not so much.

They had had candles, he remembers that from the loft. But, like many things they used to have, getting new ones just hadn't happened yet.

So, he'll be getting candles. And a dress and shoes. Fi likes dresses and loves shoes. And while it is true that he has gone with her when she's shopped for them, and it's certainly true that he's paid for them, he's never actually gone out and purchased them for her by himself.

Which means he has to do some research. Namely, he needs to know what size Fi wears. He knows on an intimate and very detailed level exactly how big Fi is. He can quote you her measurements from memory. What he doesn't know is what size dress or shoes that translates into. Likewise, he knows what sorts of clothing she likes to wear and what shops she usually buys them at, but he doesn't know what brands or designers she particularly enjoys.

He supposes most people would just go to the closet and look, but most people didn't burn their home and almost everything they owned less than three months ago. Lucky for him and Fi, the loft didn't have a lot of closet space, so most of their working clothing lived in a storage unit. So, he'll be taking a detour en route to the mall to do some research.   

And, once he's got the dress, shoes, and candles, there's setting the scene. Which will probably involve some pillows, a nice tablecloth or two, and minor carpentry. He's thinking that it'd be easier to get a few boards and make a low table than it'll be to actually buy a nice one and get it put together before she gets home. 

He looks around their home one last time before heading out and decides chopsticks and nice plates would be a good plan, too.

Fi was annoyed. She had a perfectly good day set with Michael, and then Sam was calling with this stupid not-quite-ex-wife crap. Again. If the last time wasn't enough of a lesson to track the woman down and get a divorce, she didn't know what was.

So there was something of an irritated black cloud hovering over her, as she stalked into the hotel and found Elsa waiting for her.

Both of them looked at each other in confusion.

"Sam told me to meet him here," Fi said.

"Me, too," Elsa answered.

A few seconds later Alma, the spa manager came over with a bottle of champagne, two glasses, and a note.

Elsa took the note and broke into a smile, passing it to Fi. A smile and tears—Fi wasn't sure why that was happening, but suddenly she was so happy she couldn't stand it. Happiness that she couldn't hold in, that just wanted to leak out in tears, burst through her.

Alma opened the champagne and poured for both of them. "Mr. Westen and Mr. Axe have set both of you up with the gold spa day package..." She proceeded to explain what all that entailed. 

Twenty minutes later, lounging about in a robe, waiting for the lomilomi massage and reflexology treatment to kick things off, Fi sent Michael a text.

Shopping was going pretty well. Apparently there are stores that sell nothing but candles. He thinks it's going to take an extra-long shower to get the smell of the place off his skin, but he was able to get a wide selection of unscented candles in various shapes.

He knows all the candles at the loft were one scent. And he also knows there is absolutely no chance of him finding that same scent again. Not in a candle store that smelled so strongly of artificial maple that he couldn't smell anything else. So unscented. No it won't trigger any memories, but he also won't have picked something she doesn't like, or takes away from how the food tastes.

He's found two tablecloths. One in a rich red color, with some sort of gold embroidery around the edges, and two large, flat pillows to match, that will go on the floor, and a smaller, plum-colored one he intends to put over the few boards he's going to turn into a low, Japanese-style table for dinner.

He skipped flowers. They've got tons of them in the house, and Japanese-style table settings usually aren't cluttered up with extra decor.

The dress didn't take all that long. He knew it was right when he saw it, clingy, white, with an asymmetric neck line draping from the left shoulder to right breast and asymmetric hemline draping from right knee to left foot. 

He was hunting for shoes when he got sidetracked.

Michael isn't easy to sidetrack. When he's focused on something, he can range from completely obsessed to just laser-like pin-point accuracy. But either way, when he's on a mission, he's on the mission. And at 12:30 in the afternoon, bags in hand, he was on a mission for shoes.

He was thinking with that dress Fi would like something white, strappy, fabric, not leather, and if there were some sort of sparkly element, preferably on the ankle, not the heel or toe, that would be a good thing.

So, he was actually surprised when something sparkly caught his attention, and it wasn't a shoe.

It was as much not a shoe as something could be. It was a jewelry store.

And the sparkly thing in question was a counter full of rings. Diamond rings. Lots of them. Light gleaming and leaping from the facets of the stones in front of him. Suddenly Sam's comment about this just being a nice night makes sense to him, and he realizes what Sam was asking.

He'd be lying if he said the idea hadn't crossed his mind. From the moment he said he was done with the CIA, it had been hovering in the back of his mind. But from finally finishing Card to now, it hadn't managed to get back to the front of his mind.

Now, staring at a huge collection of rings, it's in the front of his mind.

He wanders into the store, looking at them. A memory of a conversation a bit over a year ago springs to mind, and he knows what he wants.

An eager sales associate sees him, sees the Rock & Republic jeans, the Oliver People's sunglasses, the Chase Durer's Special Forces 1000 UTD, and the labels on the bags he's holding and swoops down on him like very expensive prey.

"Can I help you, sir?"

"Maybe. What do you have in asscher cut diamonds?"

The sales clerk thinks for a moment.  "Asschers are very rare. Most people go for princess cut diamonds when they want a square stone."

"It's got to be an asscher."

"Let me look. Do you want just a stone, or do you want it in a setting?"


"Rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets?"


The clerk smiles, pegging Mike as an engagement ring shopper, who knows what his girlfriend likes, but doesn't know what precisely he wants to get her. "Okay, let's see what I've got."

Six minutes later he returned with three unset stones, and four rings on a black velvet tray. And like with the dress, Michael knew the right one when he saw it. The stone was smallish, probably about a third of a carat, set on point, and tension mounted between what might have been white gold or maybe platinum. Then another metal band wrapped between the tension mounting, this one a dull, almost pewtery gray. The pewter and platinum bands formed an x with the diamond in the middle. It looked nothing like any of the other rings on the tray, and he liked that very much.

"That one."

"It is fine, isn't it? It's platinum and titanium engagement/wedding ring combination." The clerk picked it up, twisted it a little, and the pewtery gray part fell away from the platinum part, and then placed both halves in Michael's hand. "There's a matching men's band as well. Would you like to see it?"


The clerk came back with a catalogue. "I'm sorry, we don't actually have the men's band in stock. But here's what it looks like." There was no stone, which pleased Michael, because he couldn't see himself, as himself, wearing a diamond ring. Like with Fi's ring, and he realizes that's how he thinks of it in his mind, Fi's ring, there is a platinum band, and it comes together in the center forming an x with the titanium. It's elegant, solid looking, and not plain.

He likes it very much. "How long to get them?"

"Do you need the engagement ring sized?"

Michael picks it up, and places it between his pinky and ring finger on his right hand. The hand which holds Fiona's left. It feels awkward there, too big.   

"Yes. Can I see your sizing equipment?"


Mike fiddles around with the selection of ring sizes for a few minutes, trying different ones between his fingers, and then says. "She wears a size four and a half."

"Okay. It'll take four weeks to get this sized. And four to eight to get the other one made." Michael nods, no clue as to if that is very slow, very fast, or just normal. But he's not in a hurry. He's got a lifetime of tomorrows with Fi, so one month, two months, or whenever is just fine.

"Let's do it."

While lounging about, waiting for her highlights to finish processing, Fi found another text on her phone.

Surprise waiting for you up at Sam's. Come home around seven, and there'll be a surprise there, too.

She sent one back. Looking forward to it. Do I need to bring or have anything special?

Everything you'll need will be at Sam's.

Fi and Elsa head up hours later and find Sam, happily grinning away. He kisses Elsa, tells her how beautiful she is, and lays down the patented Axe charm.

Then he turns to Fi. "There are goodies from Mike waiting for you in the guest room."

Fi gives him a look that's clearly curious, and he grins again.

She heads in and before anything else about the guest room hit her, she sees the shoes. They're sitting on top of the shoe box on the bed. White, satin, strappy heels with a sparkly little clasp call out to her. They're beautiful and delicate, and she checks to see, the right size.

She had no idea Michael even knew what shoe size she wore. Let alone that he had noticed that she prefers a four inch heel.

She kicks off her sandals and tries them on. They fit. They fit really well, no pinching, no rubbing against her heel annoyingly.

After she stops cooing over the shoes—And she is cooing, which she finds mildly disturbing. They're great shoes and all, but still, this is like reading the card, she's feeling a bit too emotional for the circumstances.—Anyway, after she finishes cooing over the shoes, she sees a dress bag hanging in the otherwise empty closet, her makeup bag on the dresser in front of a mirror, and a note.

Fancy dinner one of the thousand I owe you. —Michael.

She opens the dress bag and feels a breath escape with a slight whistle. It's gorgeous.

Then she looks around some more. She checks the makeup bag. She checks the shoe box.

Michael apparently has an interesting idea of what "Everything you need" means. For example, there's no underwear, but there are stockings, though she almost never wears them. All of her eye shadows, mascara, and eyeliners are in the bag, but no foundation or lipstick. His favorite of her perfumes is in there, as well as all of her hair stuff.

She'd think it was just a matter of him not knowing what it is she does when she makes herself up, but he's even got her eyelash curler in there, as well as the smoothing serum she uses on her hair.

While she's getting her hair ready, it occurs to her why what's missing is missing. He likes to touch her skin, and doesn't like make-up rubbing off on him, so no foundation or lipstick. Thigh high stockings, which he does like her in, but no panties or bra.

So, dinner and sex. Serious sex looking at this set up. 

She smiles.

Michael may indeed be bad at relationships, but he's good at sex. Ridiculously good at sex. And, as she fixes up her hair and thinks about what ridiculously good at sex means, a warm and happy glow suffuses her skin.

She finishes her abbreviated make-up, puts on the perfume, and slips into the dress. She can't quite reach the clasp at the top of the zipper.

"Elsa?" she calls out.

Elsa shows up a minute later. "Oh. He has good taste."

Fi smiles. "Yes he does. I can't get the clasp. Could you give me a hand?"

"Sure." Elsa steps behind her and slips the hook into the eye.

Fi drops her hair over her shoulder and looks at it. "I don't know where he found this. I usually have to have dresses taken in on top, but this one is perfect." Actually, it was even a bit snug, which was a first. She'd never found a dress off the rack that fit the bottom half of her and was snug on top.

"Sam tells me he's been planning this for more than a week. Maybe he got it taken in?"

"More than a week?"


That stops Fi in her tracks, one earing in, one in her hand. "Really?"

"Really. He asked Sam for help on setting up a romantic night. He wanted to do it up right for you."

"One out of a thousand indeed."

Elsa looks confused, and Fi shakes her head, tears in her eyes.

"Are you all right?" Elsa asks.

"Yeah." Fi blots her eyes carefully, not wanting to smear her makeup. "I've just been really off today. Just happy." She gets herself back under control, and then steps into the shoes.

Elsa looks her up and down. "I'll say this for him, when he puts his mind to it, that man can really shop. I'm impressed. He might be a natural at this romance thing."

"That he might."

She steps out of the room with Elsa and Sam sees them. He whistles at Fi and nods. "Mikey's done good."

"I understand you helped with this."

"Not with this part of it. That was all him. I just gave pointers on what he was supposed to be doing."
Fi kisses Sam's cheek and he almost jerks back he's so surprised. "Thanks Sam."

"You're welcome, Fi."

"I've got to get going if I'm going to be there by seven."

"Then off with you."

Fi headed out, and Elsa looked at Sam. Her expression was expectant and Sam began to feel uncomfortable.


"She's pregnant."

"What? Wait! Did she just tell you that?" Jeeze one day of girliness and Fi's saying things like that to Elsa. They have got to get her some girlfriends.

"No. I don't think she knows. But she was telling me about how her clothing is fitting differently, and how she's feeling extra emotional, and you've mentioned that she and Mike are napping a lot."

Sam relaxes a little when he hears that. Speculation is one thing, a good thing, because he's having a hell of a time wrapping his head around that idea. Then he realizes he's just standing there and thinks about the last thing Elsa said. "Because they're tired. You know, spending five years fighting a quasi-governmental conspiracy will take it out of you."

Elsa nods. "Uh huh. She's pregnant. Take if from someone who's been there; they've got a baby on the way."

"Can't be."

"Does Fi normally cry when Mike does something nice for her?"

"She was crying?"

"Little bit."

"Huh." Sam backs up to the sofa and sits down hard. Elsa gets him a drink.

"You're gonna be Uncle Sam."

"No..." he's shaking his head and takes a sip of the beer.

"Come on, it'll be fun. It's about time one of your buddies had kids."

"Mike and Fi are so not kid people."

"They'll figure it out. Kids aren't that complicated."

"You really think she's pregnant?"

"Yeah. I bet if you ask Maddie, she'll say the same thing. Nothing gets by that woman."

Sam took a very long drink of his beer. Things were about to get very interesting.

Jeans and T-shirt or suit and button down... Michael stands in front of the closet, towel wrapped around his hips, water dripping off his hair and down his chest, and debates what to wear.

When he's off duty, just being himself, he usually wears jeans and a T-shirt. Of course, he's not exactly off tonight, and he does know what Fi is wearing is very much not jeans and a T-shirt.

The problem with a suit is that he's never comfortable in a suit with bare feet. They're eating Japanese-style, on the floor, low table, no shoes. There's just something that seems wrong about that to him. Sure he has done it, and probably will again, but still, he's not in a fancy restaurant, he's home.

Where he could wear jeans, and jeans and no shoes is just fine for him.  
Jeans and a button down?  Maybe... He pulls on his boxers and thinks about that while lighting the candles. All of the prep work for the food is done. Between what he's made and bought they've got enough sushi for three people, if two of those people are Sam and Jesse, who aren't exactly shy about digging in when the food is good. The table is set. One of the good things about a completely empty dining room is that it takes very little effort to set up a romantic dinner.

He's got a playlist set on his computer. He turns it on, and hopes Fi likes it. They don't really have much in the way of songs with some history. He's got what was playing the first time they danced, but for most of their lives the soundtrack has been explosions and gunfire, not ballads. So, with the exception of Can't Help Falling In Love, the rest of the music is soft jazz. Nice to listen to, but easy to ignore as well.

It didn't occur to him how long it would take to light all the candles. He'd gotten thirty of them, which seemed like enough to provide a golden romantic atmosphere when he was shopping, but is looking more and more like a massive fire hazard as he lights them.

For a moment, he ponders Fi showing up early, while he's doing this, and how she would react if he was just in his boxers. She's certainly welcomed him home in nothing but a teddy before. And he's always appreciated that.

But... if they're actually going to eat the food he's spent hours working on (or picking up) dressed is probably a good idea.

Plus, he's somewhat suspicious that him lying on their bed in his underwear in a come-hither pose does not have precisely the same effect on Fi as it does when she does it for him. Michael's fairly certain she'd giggle.

His phone rings, and Sam's on the line. "She left five minutes ago. Should be at your place in ten."

"Thanks, Sam."

"Everything set?"


"Okay. Be real nice to her."

"I intend to."

"Good. I think she's liking this. She actually kissed me on the cheek when she left."

"Huh." That surprises Mike.



"Seriously, be real nice to her. I'd hate to see this much build up to have it go wrong."

"I think I've got this, Sam."


Another pause. Mike feels like Sam's trying to say something to him, but has no idea what it might be. Okay, yes, he's got a bad reputation when it comes to this sort of thing, but it's not like he's never been on a date before. He can probably manage to pull off dinner without messing it up too badly. Still a little last minute advice might not be unwarranted...



"Jeans or suit?"

Sam seems to think about that for a moment. "Mike, this is why I always wear the same thing."



"Thanks, Sam." 

"Mike, go easy on the wine."

"Sam?" Okay, that was completely out of nowhere.

"It's has anesthetic properties. Dulls her sense of touch. One of my tricks is to make sure to go easy on the wine for her, no more than two glasses, that way she's relaxed but can feel what I'm doing better. And I drink a bit more of it, so I last longer."

"That's way, way more information than I ever needed."

"If you want her so happy she's buying you cars..."

"Yeah, gotta go." Mike hangs up thinking that was one of the most surreal conversations he's ever had with Sam.

Fi is beautiful. This is one of the non-negotiable facts of Michael Westen's life. In fact, it might be the only non-negotiable fact of his life. No matter who he or she's pretending to be, Fi's his ideal of beauty. Dark hair, light hair, make-up, hair that took an hour to do, and designer clothing, no make-up and covered in sweat and grime, no matter what, Fi is beautiful.

But sometimes Fi is also pretty. And tonight, she's so pretty, so beautiful, it almost hurts to look at her.

Michael might not be very good at this romance stuff, but he's not stupid either, so there are certain things he will never admit, like that fact that he does always think she's beautiful does not in any way negate the fact that he prefers her hair and eyebrows honey brown, her hair down, and her in dresses.   

When she left this morning, she was his hawk, dark, sharp, dangerous and beautiful. She's returned a butterfly, light and delicate, soft waves of honey colored hair cascading down her naked shoulder and arm.
He's thinking about that, about how the golden candle light caresses her skin, how her hair rests on her neck and shoulder, the fact that the dress is sheer enough he can see the shadow of her nipple, the shape of her mouth and lips as she nibbles on an edamame. She's talking about her day, and he's certainly watching her attentively, and hearing her voice, enjoying the way it sounds, but he's not really paying attention to what she's saying.

"Michael, are you listening to me?"

He puts his glass down, and moves to sit next to her on her pillow. His fingers brush her face, stroke through her hair, and trail down her naked shoulder and arm.

"No. I'm sitting here, looking at you," he touches her face again, thumb tracing over her bottom lip, "thinking about how beautiful you are, and how much I love you. I'm thinking about how happy you make me, and hoping I make you happy, too."

"In that case, you can be forgiven for not listening to me."

"Do I make you happy, Fi?"

She kisses him, soft and slow. "Yes."
A/N: Okay, I know that's not precisely the right ring, but until I get better at 3d modelling, there won't be images of the rings in my head. In the meantime, the one up there is an on point asscher cut stone in a platinum setting. The guys at Bijou Extraordinaire Ltd. designed that ring, and they've got a ton of other beautiful stuff as well.

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