Okay so I started this after the first episode of the season but didn't have a lot of time to work on it for a while…anyway I thought Michael was kind of obnoxious to Sam and Fiona during that episode, but then he is all caring again in the second episode. So this sort of fits between those two episodes. It is only my second Burn Notice fic so please forgive me if a I mess up the characterization a little bit.

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or the show.

"Mom," Michael called coming though the front door with his gun drawn.

"In here," Maddie replied from the kitchen, "and put that thing away."

"Mom," Michael said exasperatedly tucking his gun back under his shirt, "You said it was an emergency."

"Well it is," she said slightly evasively, "Just not that kind of emergency."

"I have to go," he told her with a shake of his head turning towards the door.

"No," Maddie told him forcefully, "You are going to sit down right here, right now, and talk to me." She pointed to the chair in front of her.

"I really don't have time for this," he said turning to go again.

"Then make time Michael," she demanded, "because we need to talk."

"You know I can't talk about where I've been the past six months," he reminded her.

"I know," she said waiving her hand dismissively, "I want to talk about Fiona."

Michael froze, and Maddie knew that she had his full attention for the first time. "What is it?" he asked, his tone full of concern.

"You didn't call her once in six months Michael," she reminded him.

"I couldn't," he said with a shrug, "You know what it was like, and what it will be like when I get my old job back."

"Of course I do," Maddie told him, "and so does she, but I'm starting to wonder if you do."

"What are you talking about?" Michael asked starting to get a little annoyed.

"I know that when you were seventeen you wanted nothing more than leave this house and get as far away from it and your father as humanly possible," she said. Michael opened his mouth to speak, but Maddie preempted his protest. "Please don't deny it Michael. I understand why you did it, and I don't blame you for getting out, but I want you to think about what you left behind when you left."

Michael looked at her trying to figure out exactly what his mother was getting at, but he was not quite sure. "Well," he said slowly, "I left a father who enjoyed slapping his family around, a brother who I didn't get along with and," he paused for a minute trying to figure out how best to phrase the last part.

"And me," Maddie finished saving him the trouble, "and we didn't get along too well either. That's my point Michael. When you were seventeen you didn't have much here that was worth staying for."

Michael was shocked. He had never thought he would hear the day when his mother admitted to understanding why he had left. Of course it retrospect it should have been a little less surprising given that he knew she had signed the release papers for him to join the military using both her own signature and his father's.

"It's different now," she pointed out, "You have friends: Sam, Jesse, Barry…"

"I'm not sure I would count Barry as a friend," he said a little half-heartedly. He was starting to get an idea of where Maddie was going with her argument. She did not want him to leave again.

"And we have a closer relationship," she continued ignoring his comment about Barry, "and you and Nate are on good terms now."

"I think good is a bit of an overstatement," Michael muttered under his breath, but Maddie ignored that comment too.

"And you have Fiona," Maddie finished and for once Michael had no response, "If nothing else I thought you would want to stay for her."

"Me getting my old job back isn't going to change anything between the two of us," Michael told her defensively.

"Yes it is Michael," she told him almost sadly, "you might not want to admit it, but it will change almost everything between you."

"It won't change that I love her," Michael protested, not bothering to question why he felt he needed tell his mother how much he loved his girlfriend.

"No," Maddie agreed, "and it won't change the fact that she loves you more than anything else in the world and would do anything for you or that she has spent the last four years of her life working for something she never wanted because you decided that you needed it."

"She never wanted me to get my old job back?" he asked wondering how his mother could possibly know something about Fiona that he did not.

"She did," Maddie corrected him, "but only because she wanted you to be happy even if it meant her being miserable."

"She told you all this?" Michael said starting to wonder if he had not been a little remiss over the pass few years when it came to taking care of the people he cared about most.

"Yea," Maddie replied, "and she won't want me to tell you this, but you need to hear it so I am going to tell you anyway." She paused, and Michael waited hesitantly. "For the past six months, she has come here whenever she has a spare hour or two and would just sit in your old room and look though the photo albums. Some times we would talk, but most of the time she went in there and closed the door." She paused again. "She missed you Michael, and I'm not sure what she'll do if you decide to leave again, but I know it will break her heart."

"I don't have to leave her if I take my old job back," Michael protested, but even he could hear how unconvincing he sounded.

"Yes," she told him with a sad nod, "you do Michael. You can have one or the other. You can't have both, and some part of you has always known that." Michael opened his mouth to speak, but Maddie shook her head. "You don't need to tell me anything. I just want you to think about it. Okay?"

"Okay mom," he replied.

"Good," she said, "Now I have to go to water aerobics, can you lock the door when you leave." Michael nodded and Maddie left the room. As soon as she was gone, he sank down in one of the kitchen chair and buried his face in his hands.

In the spy trade, one of the most important skills you learn is to take care of asset and make sure they are content and comfortable because the happy they are the more likely they are to give you the information you need. However sometimes spies forget the most important people in the world aren't the assets they have groomed for so long. At the end of the day the people who care about them despite the lying, the deception, and the years of unexplained absences are the most important people a spy, or anyone else, could ever hope to know, and it is their ability to accept and their seemingly endless forgiveness that makes them so easy to take for granted.

So what do you think? Please review and help me make my next one better.