Fandom: Burn Notice
Characters: Sam, Michael, Fiona (Gen)
Summary: Not your typical celebration, but close enough.
Author's Notes: For usanetwork_las and the prompt of "What X really wanted for Christmas."
Also for writers_choice ("Gift").
It was ten o'clock on Christmas morning. Michael and Fi were arguing in Fi's kitchen, while Sam tried to clean up the living room before Madeline arrived. The whole thing had the feel of one of their operations, and Sam's job was familiar: he was hiding the evidence.
He and Michael and Fi had agreed to meet up early (too early, in Sam's book) and open presents, finishing up well before Madeline came over for dinner. Or lunch. Or pre-dinner dinner. Whatever you wanted to call it.
They'd hoped to avoid awkward explanations about what a group of not-completely-ex-spies considered to be gifts. By hosting the dinner celebration at Fi's, they also sidestepped the issue of Madeline doing any cooking. Come to think of it, that last part might have been the real goal after all. Sam thought the world of Madeline—they all did—but her cooking was a total bust.
Sam finished stuffing the last leftover shred of wrapping paper into a garbage bag, and tossed the bag in Fi's bedrooom closet. Then he got the vacuum cleaner out of the guest room and dragged it into the living room.
Michael and Fi were working on the Christmas feast, which didn't seem to be going particularly well. Fi was the only one of them who cooked on a regular basis, meaning more than once a month, with or without using the microwave. The rumor was that she had actual knowledge of some kind, which beat Michael's devotion to beer and yogurt and outweighed Sam's semi-skills with sandwiches and breakfast.
Regardless, it had to be better than oversalted food with an undertaste of cigarette smoke and ash. Assuming it ever got finished:
"That's probably the most disturbing thing I've ever seen you do, Fi."
"Well perhaps you'd like to give it a try. No? I didn't think so. Just hold the end open while I put the stuffing in, and you can complain about it later."
"Should you really be using that much parsley?"
"If you'd like to be the cook, then just say so, Michael. Is that it? Would you like to be in charge? Because you're really pushing it!"
Sam turned on the vacuum cleaner to block out the noise, suddenly feeling lucky that he'd pulled cleanup instead of kitchen duty. Confrontation wasn't his thing.
Something glinted just under the sofa, and he stopped vacuuming to pick it up. It was a bullet—part of the Russian artillery he'd given Fi. She'd run her fingers over the whole stash, just itching to try it out. Must've dropped this one. Sam pocketed it for the moment. Not that Madeline would even have been surprised by it, but it didn't exactly help cement the Christmas mood.
He'd given Michael a bottle of brandy and a utility knife. It took a huge amount of willpower not to buy Michael a sofa or even a new chair, something that wouldn't threaten to collapse or jab you with springs when you sat on it. But Michael probably wouldn't have taken that too well.
Madeline had been a challenge, too. Sam went with vodka and a box of chocolates, thinking she'd probably be okay with that. Between her earrings and the way she'd gone nutso over those curtains from that sleazebag Strickler, Sam had decided he had no chance of ever figuring out her tastes. So, what the hell then—might as well play it safe.
Fi and Michael's gifts to him were sure bets, but who didn't know he liked good booze and a nice box of Cuban cigars? He planned to break both of those out later tonight, maybe sit on the balcony and watch the stars.
Besides, what he really wanted wasn't the kind of thing someone else could get for him. Hell, if it was easy, he'd have tracked it down himself by now. So he'd keep touring the coffee shops and clothes boutiques and bars, hoping to meet someone special. Fi and Michael thought it was all about the Sugar Mamas, but those women were generous and pretty and they knew how to have fun. Was it so bad, just wanting someone you enjoyed being with and thinking maybe things might continue into a full-blown romance? If it was, Sam was as guilty as the next guy.
The vacuuming was done, and things looked pretty good. Nice, but casual—like he and Michael had just gotten there a few minutes ago.
"Need any help in the kitchen?" he called out.
"Damn it!" Fi said, and Sam heard something break.
"Sorry," he yelled. Hey, at least he'd offered, right?
He moved the chairs back into position and put the vacuum away. Madeline would be there in about twenty minutes, but for now there was nothing left to do but wait.
Good deal, he thought, sitting down on the couch and turning the TV on low. The sounds of clanking, chopping, and occasional bickering escaped the kitchen, and even if it wasn't Norman Rockwell or a honeymoon in the Bahamas, Sam was happy.
This was his family, one way or another, and he was pretty damned lucky to have them.
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