merryghoul: mike and fi 2 (mike and fi 2)
[personal profile] merryghoul
So I wrote most of this on Sunday and editing this ate up most of my week, but it's done. I'll probably have to do an update after season 6 and whenever this show ends, if I'm still around.

I apologize for the superscript, but I had thoughts and feels, okay.

Updated 1/14/13 with the rest of season 6 in a few paragraphs.

Updated 8/24/14 to remove a misreading of the canon on my part.

Title: Michael and Fiona: Saving the World, One Hand Grenade at a Time
Fandom: Burn Notice
Prompt: ostracised from society, loss of job/income, fire, combat, confession in desperate situation
Medium: meta
Wordcount: 2824
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: no standard warnings apply; canon-typical violence and spoilers up until 6.10 of Burn Notice
Summary: (Opinionated) Meta on the relationship of Michael Westen and Fiona Glenanne on Burn Notice. Title comes from a conference call with Gabrielle Anwar.



I'm going to be honest: most everything surrounding the relationship of Michael Westen/Fiona Glenanne on Burn Notice is clichéd. They have their loving stares. There are lots of people in their universe telling them they're meant to be together. They have their near-death moments where one of them almost gets killed or needs help. They have alone time to talk about their past and their future. They have a very convenient wind machine at times. They always have sex every season, most of it the "glad to be alive" variety. (And sometimes when they're having sex, they have their guns by their side in case an enemy dares interrupt their sexy time.)

And yet I find myself drawn to them, even if I write Fiona/everyone else on this show in my fanfic. (Not like there's anything wrong with that.) Their story, to me, is the story of a couple that broke up because of circumstances beyond their control, got back together and became a battle couple.

Michael and Fiona are different. He'd rather wait to take action; she'd rather just shoot/blow up/ get rid of obstacles. At the start of the series, he's fighting to get back in the CIA; she's a former (Provisional, but it's never referred to on screen) IRA terrorist that didn't like being told what to do. She makes her living doing odd jobs: robbery, gun running, unlicensed bounty hunting and helping clients out. Now Michael's back in the CIA, and as of 6.10, he's making plans to get out with Fiona. That's impossible at the moment, since Michael's team (more on that later) is stuck in fake Panama after attempting to find the murderer of Michael's brother, Nate.

On the other hand, Michael and Fiona are similar. They both had rough childhoods. Michael grew up in an abusive household in Miami; he was forced to defend Nate against his father. Fiona grew up in a family of seven; she lost her only sister Claire after she was murdered. Because of their childhoods, they're fond of children. Hurt a child in their presence and they will come after you.

Rough childhoods aside, they're also brilliant strategists. They can read each other's moves and figure out how to get out of situations. They know what household items can explode and can be used as weapons in a pinch. And they're both martial artists. It's part of what draws them to each other.

The other thing that draws them to each other is a danger kink. After a retcon1, it's revealed that Michael first met Fiona at a pub in Belfast. He asked her to dance; she pulled a snub-nosed revolver on him. Michael didn't panic when Fiona pulled the revolver on him. The two decided to dance together.2

I'll also admit that my views on Michael and Fiona are inspired by Burn Notice showrunner Matt Nix's words.

The thing about the relationship with Fiona is…They are two people who really don't have anybody else that they can be with. Anybody else is going to be afraid of what Michael does, and it sort of turns her on, and anybody else for Michael is going to be uninteresting. He is attracted to her, but part of what we explore over the first season is that they really are attracted with each other, and yet there is a reason they broke up. She is an incredibly chaotic person who just thrives on disorder…Violence is foreplay for her.

Matt Nix3


At the start of the series, Michael's griping about the scars Fiona gave him while they were working on assignments together, but he's lying to himself. He likes that Fiona is dangerous. She likes that Michael is dangerous. Any other woman doesn't excite Michael. It's why he broke off his engagement to Samantha, a thief he also met while working in the CIA.4 Any other man doesn't excite Fiona, even if she's trying to convince herself otherwise by lying to and having sex with her paramedic boyfriend (from season 2) Campbell.

Since Michael is the main character of Burn Notice, there's a clear progression on how Michael views Fiona. At first, he views her as part of his team and nothing more. He wants to forget that he has a history with her. Michael begins to realize he would do anything for Fiona. In time, Fiona becomes his girlfriend again. At first, how Fiona views Michael is static: no matter what she says or does, she still loves him. She steps up and starts making sacrifices for him. Overall, their relationship progresses from indifference to doing anything and everything they can to stay together.


Before Michael's cover was blown in Ireland, Fiona was listed as his emergency contact. The Burn Notice canon as well as the expanded media doesn't expand on how that happened.

By the time Michael's burned in Miami, Fiona is already in the US, living in New York and pissing off contacts there. (Later, it's revealed she did favors for an ex-boyfriend, Armand, to get to the US.) A motel worker discovers an unconscious Michael in a room. The motel worker goes through Michael's things and calls Fiona. Fiona flies out to get Michael, despite being bitter about their breakup. She decides to stay in Miami to help Michael out. Michael doesn't protest. She's a useful asset. She's knowledgeable about weapons and explosives, she's a great stunt driver, and her height and weight make her able to do stunts Michael and Sam (and later, Jesse) could dream of doing. She reluctantly becomes part of a team with Sam Axe, a former Navy SEAL that lives off of sugar mamas. (The last time the two met, he had ruined a Liberian gun deal Fiona was setting up.) They're also the only people Michael can talk to; after being burned, he can't make direct contacts with the spy community. Together the three help Michael investigate who burned him and help clients that can't go to the police on the side.

Michael denies he still has feelings for Fiona. Fiona, on the other hand, still has feelings for Michael. Much to Michael's chagrin, Fiona alerts Michael's mother, Madeline, of his whereabouts. She tries pressures him to talk about their relationship. (Michael doesn't want to see his mother because it's a reminder of the life he tried to leave behind joining first the Army and then the CIA.) Fiona even tries to make Michael jealous by dating a man known as Thomas. That relationship, along with Michael's jealousy, doesn't last. A physical (consensual) fight leads to sex between the two, and it seems like Michael and Fiona are on their way to reconciling. Fiona, however, is frustrated with not being Michael's number one priority. She decides to break it off with Michael. In turn, Michael tells Madeline Fiona and he are not a couple.

Fiona attempts to prove to Michael she's moved on from him. She tries to set Michael up with other women at a club, but he's not interested. She also tries to date a paramedic named Campbell, but their relationship is based on lies (e.g. she tells him Michael, Sam and she are "soil specialists") and Michael's specific needs for his jobs. Campbell breaks up with Fiona. In another of the show's "endgame" lines, he tells Fiona he believes Michael is Fiona's boyfriend.

Michael and Fiona have a couple of near-death experiences. Michael survives a car crash and Fiona helps him get away from the wreckage. Fiona gets trapped inside a home booby trapped to set on fire. After the fire, the two have sex. The post-fire sex complicates things between the two of them and Sam for a while.

The fire also marks a noticeable shift in Michael's attitude towards Fiona. In season two, Michael starts not seeing Fiona as a mere part of his team, but he's unable to act upon his feelings for her. After the fire, he begins to adopt a new attitude: Harm Fiona in any way, and he'll harm you. After he hears about the fire, he rushes to the booby trapped home to see if Fiona survived. When Michael comes back to his lost, he discovers she survived without his help.

By the end of the second season and the arrival of Samantha, Michael's ex-fiancée, it's evident Fiona's not over Michael as she thinks. She goes into Heroic BSOD mode, shutting down when she first learns of Samantha. It seems like Michael and Fiona are going to be a couple again, but there are still problems.

The third season finds Fiona frustrated with Michael not making their relationship a priority. She almost leaves Miami, but a former ally of hers, Thomas O'Neill, kidnaps her. Once she can find a way to escape from him, she ends up jumping from a boat with her hands tied. As she escapes O'Neill, she gets shot in the arm. Fiona survives her jump and the gunshot wound. She decides to stay in Miami after her wounds are tended to. This scene frustrates me a bit. I often wonder what could've happened had Fiona been given a chance to move away from Michael without O'Neill and, later, prison. Would she have assisted Michael from afar a la Sophie Deveraux in Leverage? Would she have cut off all contact with him and, later, realized she wanted to be with him? This scene always leaves me wondering.

Just before Fiona's shot, there's a pivotal scene between Michael and Tom Strickler, a CIA "talent agent." Michael believes if he does tasks for Strickler, he can get his CIA job back. In this scene, Strickler doesn't want Michael to save Fiona. He wants Michael to choose between Fiona and his job. Outraged, Michael declares "Fiona is not [his] past" and shoots him. It's the first time Michael's done anything to anyone who suggests Fiona should get harmed. It's also proof that he'll do anything to save her life if needed.
There's another moment where Michael almost loses his cool over Fiona. On one job, Fiona's asked to meet a renegade doctor, Gabriel, who kidnaps her. Michael wants to take down Gabriel, but Sam is against it for Fiona's safety. Michael learns to keep his cool and step in when it's needed, not when he wants to. (Another, later example is seen in the sixth season, when Michael is forced to watch a mark grope Fiona's ass. Despite what some of the commenters on the YouTube video for this scene wanted, Michael doesn't get out of his surveillance van to meet the mark face to face for the sake of the mission.)

Season four finds Michael and Fiona back together, although they don't consider themselves boyfriend/girlfriend at this point. A love triangle of sorts begins between Michael, Fiona and Jesse Porter, another spy. Michael is forced to get information from Jesse's computer for another person involved in burning Michael, Vaughn. In turn, Jesse is burned. Jesse seeks out help from Michael's team and later starts working with them. Jesse starts to fall in love with Fiona. During a scene where Fiona and Jesse pretend to be lovers to distract people curious about their spying, he falls hard for her. Jesse's hopes are dashed when he learns that Michael burned him and the rest of Michael's team covered it up. Jesse later saves Michael's life by shooting a mercenary (and Michael's shoulder, in a very rare, non-fatal manner). He joins the team and doesn't pursue a relationship with Fiona again. There isn't a lot of tension in this love triangle, but I would've loved to have seen more.

The end of season four finds Michael, Fiona and Jesse in a standoff with Vaughn and his men. In the middle of the standoff, Fiona declares that her place in the battle is not tending to Jesse and his injured leg but by Michael's side in the standoff, even if Michael didn't want her there at first. It's the moment, in my opinion, where Michael and Fiona have declared themselves a battle couple. For better or for worse, that attitude has dominated the writing of seasons five and six. Yes, they work together more often, but it's at the cost of those bombastic speeches I dislike.

In season five, Michael and Fiona's relationship takes a mundane step forward for once: after she's been hopping from place to place for a while because of various circumstances (the O'Neill matter/one of her residences was blown up by Jesse), Michael invites her to live with him. They still live together as of the date of this essay. When she moves in, things get tense between the two, but by the time Anson, a psychologist who is later revealed to be the man behind Michael's burn notice, appears, they're more concerned about beating him than their relationship troubles.

Also in season five, Michael's back with the CIA in a limited capacity. The two do missions and activities on the CIA's tab until Anson arrives. Anson organizes a scheme that leaves two people dead in a British embassy. He frames the scheme on Fiona, giving him leverage over Michael and Fiona. Michael's team tries to find Anson so Fiona doesn't have to go to jail. In a reversal, it's Fiona who saves Michael at the end of the season; her arrest destroys the leverage Anson had over Michael. After this point, Anson's movements are erratic, and they prove to be his downfall.

By season five, Michael and Fiona are significant others. The following season's opening narration was changed to reflect this (from "trigger happy ex-girlfriend" to "trigger happy girlfriend").

So far in season six, Michael and Fiona have been working closer than ever, even while she was imprisoned. Fiona thinks Michael died in an explosion while in FBI custody, but she uses her knowledge of explosions to discover this is a lie (and that the explosion was a road block) to get her to confess to murder. Sometimes they're forced to work together while Fiona's in prison—Card makes Fiona call one of her gun running contacts so Michael can bust him (and ensure she's a CIA asset, which doesn't last). Sometimes they work independently—it's Fiona who gets the information on the guard linked with Rebecca Lang (an associate of Anson's) and the information to obtain a box that belongs to Fiona's closest ally in prison, a prisoner named Ayn. This is all so, respectfully, Michael can stop Rebecca and obtain the box so Fiona can survive prison.

After her release, Fiona and Michael end up working missions together for the CIA or for themselves. Meanwhile Jesse and Sam5 work together to discover who killed Nate.6 Michael's desire to overprotect Fiona appears again. Michael wants to protect Fiona because of Nate's death. He wants her out of missions and inside the loft, where he believes she'll be safe. Michael realizes that if he's ever going to get anything accomplished, he needs Fiona by his side, not stuck at the loft.

Card sends the team on a suicide mission to Panama to find Nate's killer. Before the team realizes they've been set up, Michael makes a promise to Fiona that he'll leave the CIA after Nate's killer has been brought to justice.

The team does manage to get back to Miami with Nate's killer, Tyler Gray. (He was told by Card to take out Anson, but also took out Nate in the process.) They have to fake their deaths, but a slew of bad decisions by Michael blows the team's cover and leaves Card dead and the team (and Madeline!) on the run from the CIA. The team plans to leave Miami for (eventually) Argentina, but the team never makes it there.

Michael and Fiona's relationship while on the the run isn't very dramatic. They do disagree on some things: putting a weapon in a replacement gamma ray device, Michael sneaking off into the night to see Jason Bly for help with the team's CIA problem, but it is heavy with dramatic speeches and special looks and whatnot.

This all changes when the person pursuing the team, Olivia Riley, is discovered to have paid off a drug cartel to kill Michael's team. After Olivia's arrested for the drug cartel hit, Michael's team spends three weeks behind bars at some CGI CIA facility. While the rest of the team is in jail of sorts, forced to answer questions to the CIA, Michael joins the CIA again to get the rest of the team out of jail. When Fiona finds out, she feels betrayed; Michael's promise to her in Panama is broken.

I'm bothered by people saying that Fiona shouldn't be upset about the betrayal. Fiona has every right to be upset. Michael made a promise to her that he didn't keep, and especially after he fought to free her from prison. I really can't imagine her response as being "Thank you, Michael. I'm so grateful that you took this CIA job to save us from rotting behind bars forever." If anything, she would've insisted that Michael break out his team without figuratively selling his soul to the devil.

I'll still roll my eyes whenever Michael and Fiona have their big speeches, accompanied by someone in their universe hinting that they are meant to be together and, quite possibly, a wind machine. But I can't help but love the idea of two people fighting side by side for what they believe is right. They're a battle couple. They're my battle couple. And that's why I like Fiona and Michael together.

And yeah, it doesn't hurt that they have all the sex, either.




1 Prior to Season 6, the characters met in Dublin, not Belfast. Fiona was robbing banks for the IRA when Michael met her.
2 It's expanded upon more in the tie-on online/mobile app comic First Contact. Michael spies on Fiona before they meet; he has to try a different approach when he learns Fiona robs money launderers to help others. This leads Michael to go to the pub (as "Michael McBride") to ask her to help take down Keith Hannon, a gun runner of CIA interest. Also, Fiona isn't working for the IRA when they meet.
3 Interview on the Watch with Kristin blog, E! Online, http://web.archive.org/web/20070707091657/http://www.eonline.com/gossip/kristin/detail/index.jsp?uuid=ed975baa-2e5f-42f9-9d9a-25008391b93b
4 Because of the season 6/First Contact retcon, I'm not sure how Samantha would fit into Michael's history now. Maybe she's still engaged to Michael around the time Michael and Fiona meet, but I have a feeling the show is treating her as a relic.
5 Agent Dani Pearce was working with them as well, but a disastrous job in Tampa led her to be transferred to Mumbai.
6 Nate was working with Michael's team in Fiona's absence. He was killed on the mission to take out Anson.

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