Fandom: Burn Notice
Pairing: Fiona Glenanne/Sam Axe
Spoilers: Seasons 1-5, The Fall of Sam Axe, will continue to be updated at the show continues to spool out
A/N: Image-heavy! Very image-heavy.
Note to the mod: Bolding removed and there should be a cut tag at the foot of the post.
Of all of the relationships on Burn Notice, only two have undergone a total renaissance from the start of the show to its current (as of this writing, fifth) season. One of them's the relationship between Michael and his mother Madeline - the other is the friendship...the rather close friendship...of Sam Axe and Fiona Glennane. I know the destiny anvils for Michael and Fiona are pretty strong (they're willing to blow up in a conflagration together, after all), but if you can ignore them for a second and imagine if Mike wasn't there - or if he was interested in someone else.
It's made clear via Sam's conversation with Michael in "The Fall of Sam Axe" that, as of five years before the pilot, Sam knows about Michael's relationship with Fiona, though it's doubtful he's connected the dots at that point from Mike's "psycho" ladyfriend and the girl he once met while on government duty in Libya.
SAM is an ex-Navy SEAL who, after spending time as a quarterback at Analee High in Michigan, entered the navy and eventually attained the rank of Lt. Commander. He's been around the world a thousand times, has a million contacts, and, after a classified incident in Venezuela he had to employ graymail to get, has come back to Florida to retire, lie on the beach, drink beer and mooch off of rich women. All of that changes when Michael Westen re-enters his life, a catalyst that causes him to form a partnership with Michael and his ex-girlfriend, Fiona. Sam's a skilled sharpshooter and fist-fighter, and tends to show up under the alias 'Chuck Finley'. He's cycled through a number of ladyfriends and, as of this writing, is dating hotelier Elsa.
FIONA is a former IRA bankrobber with a heart of steel, who entered the Cause when her sister Claire was murdered and left it after nearly being manipulated into slaughtering schoolchildren. During the interim she met and fell in love with Michael McBride, who was actually American spy Michael Westen in disguise. After Michael left, she went into small arms dealing after leaving Ireland. Ultimately, she arrived back in Miami and Michael's life when someone called the 'last known contact' number in his wallet - which he had never bothered to change from Fiona's. They have an on and off relationship and are technically currently living together while Fiona serves a jail stint. A skilled markswoman and explosives expert, Fiona thirsts for blood and makes no apologies for who she is.
SAM: Oh Jesus, Mike, you didn't tell me SHE was going to be here!
FIONA You cost me a lot of money, you son of a bitch, I've been waiting to talk to you for a long time!
SAM: Oh, I cost you!? Okay, for starters, what you're talking about never officially happened, all right? But unofficially, even if it had, you deserved a hell of a lot worse than what you got, lady!"
FIONA: *picks up a beer bottle and throws it at his head* "That was a legitimate purchase! The US Government had no business- "
SAM: "Yeah? Legitimate? A Libyan arms dealer?! How do you figure that?" - During their first re-meeting in 01.02 - Identity
From the first moment Sam meets Fiona in episode 2, they're instant enemies. Sam was involved in an incident which is outlined above, and well, she threw a beer bottle at his head on meeting him again. Good times. Naturally, they're quickly thrust into working a con together, trying to outwit a man who's targeted one of Madeline's friends in a financial scheme almost immediately afterwards. While Michael tracks down the guy himself, Fiona and Sam steal a boat 'borrowed' by one of their target's junior officers and bug it - and Fiona wires their car to explode to spook them. Their differing methodologies surface instantly:
SAM: "Are you just about done down there?"
FIONA: "In a second. This is an art."
SAM: "No, wiring crap into a car is not an art. It's about as subtle as hitting someone with a brick."
FIONA: "Hitting someone with a brick takes a lot of skill..." (Seductive tone) "You should try it sometime. It's all in the wrist."
SAM: "Sorry, not my style."
FIONA: "That's right, I forgot - you only do what the suits tell you to."
SAM: "...That was a cheap shot.."
But, when the chips are down and neither gets Michael's warning text to haul butt out of there, they get out of a jam together - by pretending to be a conman who's brought a date to 'his' yacht.
And yes, Fi's pants were unbuttoned.
Everything works out well when they pose as FBI agents to successfully press the in-over-their-heads young lovers into turning against each other, one willing to testifying against Michael's target, the other panicking and trying to flee to Cancun.
SAM: "You know, for all of your anti-government speechifying, you do lady lawman pretty well."
It's the first compliment he ever gives her.
The rest of the season is a clash between Sam's disdain for Fiona's chaotic methodology and Fiona's disdain for Sam's lapdog status to the FBI, which is forcing Sam to spy on Michael to receive his government pension. He calls her scrawny and crazy; she calls him a lazy lush. It's all conducted in the same manner of a boy yanking a girl's pigtails, even though they clearly drive each other up a wall.
In episode seven, "Broken Rules", Sam relies on Fiona's romantic advice for the first time. While this time the results work beautifully, the next time Sam asks Fi for help with a ladyfriend things don't go well. At all.
FIONA: "What did the card say?"
SAM: "It said 'I'm sorry, call me'!"
FIONA: "She doesn't need 'I'm sorry.' She needs to know who you are. Where she stands...I would imagine."
SAM: "Okay, well, let's say I send her a second card. What would it say?"
She also asks him what on earth he could possibly do that's worthy of Veronica's buying him a Cadillac.
SAM: *smirking*: "Wouldn't you like to know?"
Fiona transposes her emotions for Michael onto Sam's dilemma and wins him some make-up nookie, while she and Michael work out their issues with a sparring/lovemaking session
In the season finale, "Loose Ends", Sam hires Fi to help him protect a client, since Michael's too busy taking care of a lead on his burn.
SAM: "Fi, you keep doing whatever it is that you do."
After he's unable to track down his own lead, he's forced to butter up Fi for help. While hugging her.
SAM: "You look great!"
But naturally, Sam called her in for a reason - he needs help.
FIONA: "And you need a wingman."
SAM: "Damn straight, skippy!"
Partnered up (with Sam, of course, paying Fi up front - because he's unwilling to pay her the "other services" Mike uses) Sam and Fiona infiltrate a gay bar to track down info on Sam's client's husband. It's the first time Fiona expresses surprise and even delights at Sam's knowledgeability.
FIONA: "You know, Sam, I have to say - you were captivating over there."
SAM: "Well, hey, a free drink is a free drink, baby. They like the shirt."
Unfortunately, Sam's client turns out to be the bad guy, and he ends up getting kidnapped while they're on a mission together. Listen to the way she says "they took Sam". That quiver. As always in Burn Notice, everyone cares more than they dare let on.
While Michael and Fiona team up to rescue Sam from his kidnappers, Sam and Fiona don't meet up again until Season 2.
Once the gang reconvenes in season 2, a different relationship develops between Sam and Fiona. Dare I suggest that it's a rivalry over Michael's affection? Oh yes, yes I do. Most of the conversations Sam and Fiona have in episode one ("Breaking and Entering") are about Michael's temporary desertion of them in the season 1 finale. But once again, when Sam needs advice to explain away what happened to his car and body, and turns to Fiona for answers.
SAM: "Come on, Fi, you're a girl! What do I say?"
FIONA: "I'm your girl consultant now? When did I sign up for that job?"
SAM: "Okay, fine, forget it. I've got some other friends with ovaries! I've got you, and..." (He trails off as he realizes he doesn't actually have any other friends.)
Two episodes later, in "Trust Me", during an unusual show of generosity, Fiona describes another con man as "smooth, in a cheesy, Sam kinda way."
SAM: "Hey, smooth is smooth, baby."
In episode four, "Comrades", Sam's the one who convinces Michael to use Fi as the extraction muscle to kidnap a man he and Michael wish to interrogate. As she single-handedly tasers the man into submission (eventually electrocuting herself unconscious when the guy grabs her by the leg in the process ), a stunned Sam is forced to admit, "Fi you are one crazy chick."
They also pose as a father and daughter when Fiona goes to snag some data from their target's heavily-secured office in the back room of a restaurant. Sam's a little stunned by Fiona's choice of words:
FIONA: "Bet you never thought you'd hear me call you that."
In episode five, "Scatter Point", Fiona, again, is called on to help Sam with his love life. When asked for help to find an inexpensive gift that says "I love you but I can't marry you", Fiona is incredulous and defensive on Veronica's behalf. After having an argument, Sam spills something to Fiona that not even Michael seems to know: he's currently married. She says he should come clean with Veronica - which costs Sam his home and his relationship.
In episode 12, "Seek and Destroy, Sam and Fi do a little intel work - and look pretty darn adorable while doing it. Sam's not happy that Mike and Fi are back together, as he thinks their relationship is poisonous to Michael.
SAM: "I'd say you have a gift for making men make bad choices."
He's her backup when she has to seduce an asset of theirs - and much to Sam's disappointment, she doesn't need his backup at all.
Episode 13, "Bad Breaks", is probably the best example of the Sam and Fi bicker-for-Michael's-love trope. In a case of one-upsmanship that starts when Michael ends up trapped in a bank during a robbery, Sam and Fiona compete constantly to be the first person to be dialed if Michael needs help - when he finally does, and seems to call Sam first - but in fact he called Fiona.
FIONA: "In case you're wondering, you'd be my nineteenth call. I'd call Madeline before I called you!"
SAM: Mike, back me up. I think it's pretty clear that my tactical maneuverings pretty much saved the day here.
MICHAEL: You feeling underappreciated?
FIONA: Oh no, he appreciates himself plenty. He's been insufferable, ever since you called him first yesterday.
SAM: Fi, look, don't be insulted. You're good with the hands on stuff, the simple mechanical things.
FIONA: Simple?! Like wiring a truck to blow?!
SAM: An important task yes, but one a very intelligent monkey could perform. I'm just saying, they'res a reason why I'm number one on the speed dial.
MICHAEL: Sam, for your information I called Fi first. [to Fi] You didn't pick up, so in the future I'm going to call Sam first.
[Sam smirks smugly while Fi takes a fierce bite from the celery stalk of her Bloody Mary.]
SAM: ""HEY SISTER, DON'T BE THROWING EXPLOSIVES AT ME JUST CAUSE YOU CAN'T TAKE THE COLD, HARD TRUTH!"- 04.01, Friends and Family
In season 3, Sam and Fiona's relationship takes another shift toward the friendly. Though the two of them still fight occasionally, it becomes clearer that a bond has developed between them in spite of themselves.
In the half-season finale, "Long Way Back", Sam finally admits to Michael that Fiona's been growing on him:
MICHAEL: "Sam, if anything happens to me..."
SAM: "Oh, I'm finishing this brother. I'm getting Fi out of there no matter what. " (Pausing) "Just don't ever tell her I said that."
And in episode 10, "A Dark Road":
SAM: "You know, it's funny - when I thought she was leaving town...I actually felt a little bad." (Michael looks at him in shock) "Hard to believe, I know..."
But they're right back to their bantering in the same episode:
Sam's nonchalant reaction to Fiona greeting him and Michael at the door in episode 13 "Enemies Closer" in her underwear in is also hilarious.
SAM: "It's nothing I haven't seen before."
Funny how he manages to take a nice, long look at her nonetheless.
When things go bad, it's Sam who fashions a bugged tube of lipstick to help rescue her and plants it where Fi can get at it, leading to her rescue.
In the season finale, while Michael deals with mad criminal Simon (who originally committed the war crimes Michael was burned for), Sam and Fiona track down a hotel bomber who knows all of Simon's tricks ...by ramming Fi's Hyundai through the wall of his house.
SAM: "Hi honey, I'm Home" - 04., Where There's Smoke, There's Fi
In season four, Sam and Fiona can't really deny that they have an actual partnership going on, even when they fail at keeping a united front and functioning as a unit separate from Michael. Indeed, they have responded to Michael's being taken to a secluded location by Vaughan in the period between the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4 by getting on with their lives - and taking jobs without him. Because their luck on solo jobs together tends to be erratic, they need Michael to help out this time when Sam's client's reliance on the typical methods of conflict avoidance don't work.
In season 4, much of the action concentrates on integrating newly-burned spy Jesse into the group, and the gang's various conflicted emotions in regard to his presence. Nonetheless, Sam and Fi still have their moments (as in episode 3, "Made Man ", when Fiona pitches an origami swan at Sam's face; or where Fi calls Sam a 'washed up old boozehound'.)
It's not until episode 8, "Where There's Smoke", that Sam and Fi not only get to share the majority of the episode's running time together, but spend it as a couple. In it, Fiona becomes Charlotte Finley to Sam's infamous Chuck, and they blend into the crowd to work a detail as security for a corporate bigwig's dinner party.
JESSE: "You're working with Sam, huh?"
FIONA: "Yeah...I thought I'd partner up with someone who values my opinion."
SAM: "Hurry up, will ya?! They said not to be late!"
FIONA: "This coming from a man who spent half an hour shellacking his hair."
SAM: "You should be grateful, most married men let themselves fall apart." (Sotto voice to Mike and Jesse) "Charles Finley had a shotgun wedding for the sake of his cover. That's Charlotte, the old ball and chain..."
FIONA: "Call me that again and we'll have a shotgun divorce."
Things rapidly go screwy as Fi's kidnapped along with the mark's wife.
With the help of Michael, Sam works to extract Fi, while Fi takes care of the kidnappers in her own inimitable way.
SAM: "Hey, she's got a phone! That's the girl I married!"
SAM: "The cavalry's arrived, darlin'....You be careful in there, missy. Chuck Finley's too young to be a widower."
And then Sam PUNCHES A GUY INTO A WALL SO HARD THAT HE CRACKS THE PLASTER to rescue Fiona.
SAM: "Hi honey, I'm home."
FIONA: "Good. You can help me take out the trash."
FIONA: "Oooh, look at that hole, Sam. You must really like me."
SAM: "Well, I wouldn't go that far - but you're growing on me."
In episode 10, "Hard Time", Fi and Sam go digging in graveyards for a cache of money left behind by Simon, Michael's key to finding out how he was burned, while Michael plays a convict to spring Sam's unjustly convicted buddy. Only Fi would ask Sam to come help her dig up a graveyard.
In episode 11, "Blind Spot", Sam and track down a murderous gigolo.
They pose as a rich divorcee (Alexis) and her murderous gigolo (Chuck). When Fiona finds out Charles' target has a dead sister and is lying about having a cancer charity, she goes a little postal, desperate to kill Charles, and Sam has to stop her:
SAM: "Sticking a gun to his head isn't gonna help! He's prepared for that believe me! Now we will get her money back, I promise Fi."
FIONA: *pushing him away*: "If we don't, I will shoot him - and then I'll shoot you."
Sam and Fi 'take a break from each other' (Fiona's words), and Sam goes in alone to get the target drunk so they can drug and then gaslight him.
FIONA: (when Sam brings back the guy's passed-out body): "Good. Do it again and I might forgive you for the other night."
SAM: (laughs, but then obliges her): "Happy now?"
By the time "Dead or Alive" rolls around, Fiona's merrily willing to get the man who had Sam's friend killed shot dead.
FIONA: "You look like hell, Sam."
SAM: "Yeah, didn't sleep."
FIONA: "Well, give me a block of c4 and Pete's address and I guarantee someone gets some shut-eye."
SAM: "Y'know, I thought of that..."
SAM: "Somebody's gotta stop Tinkerbelle from shooting everyone!" - Sam Axe, Season 5
By the time season 5 rolls around, Sam and Fiona are unquestionably close friends - in fact, on occasion they serve as each other's sole support system as Michael struggles with being part of the CIA's infrastructure again. In "Company Man", Sam and Fi end up taking a stand against Michael's hardline support of the CIA way when they travel to Venezuela, teaming up to rescue Mike with their own methods and supporting each other with an easy, seamless chemistry.
They also play husband and wife again as a diversionary move.
Then comes "No Good Deed". When Michael is preoccupied with the mission Pearce has sent him on, Fiona's forced to recruit Sam for her own mission, and he's less-than-happy to do the deed, as he's soaking up the sun at Elsa's hotel. Fi does have her ways, however, and comes upon him while he's lying by the pool getting a manicure.
(Fiona starts sliding her hand up Sam's thigh.)
SAM: "...Fi, whatt're you doing?"
FIONA: "Your choice, Sam...." (she walks her fingers up to his chest) "I can either be cousin Kelly, coming to take you out to lunch, or I can be your new hot new fling."
SAM: (grabbing her hands and laughing): "'Yes, cousin Kelly, I would love to have a pastrami on rye with you!"
He ends up wrestling with a guy twice his size and nearly getting killed by an evil hacker, all because Fi's very good with her hands.
"Enemy of My Enemy" is the best reflection of the evolution of Sam and Fi's friendship. When Sam sends himself into Carmelo's clutches, Fiona's the one who fusses over every detail of his costume and appearance, even burning his forehead with a strip of metal to resemble a bullet graze, which will sell his cover better. When Sam ends up pinned down in his cover, it's Fi who wants to rally to bring him home, even though Michael's his ultimate savior.
"Besieged" puts Sam and Fiona on another surveillance detail, trying to watch the man whom Anson hired to impersonate Michael. They end up breaking down his door, only to discover he's a patsy - and to end up babysitting him and his dog. And Sam puts all of his trust in Fi to keep the guy safe:
SAM: "You need to go out back, there's a tiny little woman in a Hyundai who's gonna protect you."
Sam, Michael, Jesse and Fi end up storming a militia's headquarters to get back a client's asthmatic son, and Sam has a great moment when Michael blows up a tanker truck to give Fiona enough cover to escape. It's Sam who crows his delight.
SAM: "Mike! She's pinned down, she's not gonna make it to the trees!" (Then, laughing after Michael shoots the gas tank): "Now she'll make it!"
For the rest of the season, Sam and Fiona have sparing contact. An incredible highlight occurs in "Depth Perception", where Sam borrows an ex-girlfriend's jewelry store for a cover, and she asssumes he and Fiona are married:
In the final episode of the season, "Fail Safe", Sam and Fi spend a lot of time arguing about methodology again, and end up getting the last witness to Anson's chicanery blown up Sam guards a handcuffed Fiona (whom Michael has chained to a pipe in the loft for 'her protection' while Michael goes to oust Anson once and for all). In a stunner, Fi knocks out Sam and rushes to turn herself into the feds to keep Michael free. This raises a ton of questions: Did Sam intentionally let Fi go at her behest? Does something hide under the surface? The answer's coming this summer.
Did you make it all the way through that? If you did, thank you. If you didn't? Here's why I ship Sam and Fi, in spite of the overwhelming canonical obvious of Mike/Fi (which I also ship - just not as intensely.)
First of all, the chemistry factor for these two is off the charts. Whether they hate each other, simply disagree with one another's methods, grudgingly respect or even like each other, there's an electric zing between Sam and Fiona. It's mild flirtation that seems to carry an undercurrent throughout their conversations.
Secondly, their relationship is the only one to really grow and change from the beginning of canon to the end of it. They've gone from utter hatred to true-blue friendship in five years, which is more than one can say for every other major relationship on the show; there hasn't been any stagnation whatsoever.
There are so many opportunities to wring fic from their relationship, from hatesex in season one to a mature, fully-wrought relationship in season 5; they can guiltily be cheating with each other, unified when Michael is taken away from them - permanently or not. There's so many what-ifs to cover, so much ground to explore.
Everything I outlined above. If you need to watch just one episode that encapsulates everything I love about these two? Watch "Where There's Smoke". You won't be disappointed.
Sam/Fiona fic ranges in type and scope from PWP to long, dramatic serials. Here are some of my favorites:
Off Limits by BiteMeTechie explores Sam's feelings for Fiona, and why affection for his best friend's girl is utterly off-limits for Sam.
Cheaters and Thieves by ChineseBakery is the premier Sam/Fiona fic, taking place in season 1 while Michael is missing. It's hilarious, banter-filled and
Aftermath, also by BiteMeTechie, is another lovely slice of Sam/Fi hurt/comfort fic.
Affirmation by elsandry, is the first Sam/Fi fic ever in existence, and is also set in season 1 during Michael's absence, and Fiona and Sam work out their grief together.
Without a Spark by voodoochild: Flat-out friends-with-benefits Sam/Fiona smut; hot, spicy, and stoned!sex.
Breathe Me by eelee0474: lovely hurt comfort piece in which Fiona loses someone and only Sam can help (NOTE: this includes a Michael/Fiona theme, but was too lovely to ignore).
Whine and Stakeout by wtsmorningglory. Sharp, funny Sam/Fi banter light this one up like a Christmas tree.
Epilogue by Hematitebadger: In which life goes on for Fiona after Michael leaves.
Beer, Public Television, and Sex by jesshelga - delicious, funny, sexy Sam/Fiona
Currently In-Progress. One day this listing will include a full Sam/Fiona fanmix, complete with cover art.
Here's some leftover pictures that didn't make it into the manifesto proper!
The Official USA forum
Burn Notice Coverstories
Sam/Fi @ FF.net
To bluerosefairy for betaing this and Toast for use of her season 5 screencaps!