Rating - R (possible NC-17 somewhere later in the series)
Warnings (for series) - Whole series (including Final Break) spoilers, violence, (probably) sex, cursing, death, het (canon and not-quite canon pairings), classical literature and mythology references, questionable knowledge by the author of science, medicine, code-breaking and the mechanics of shady multinational conglomerates who secretly rule the world.
Author’s Note - This is the second of four planned stories that don’t directly violate canon, but take place after Final Break in an attempt to make it more palatable (and, to me, more poetic and satisfying). See “Into the Dark” on ffn or my livejournal for the first in the series. Huge thanks to andacus for being my beta and mind-mate (as always) and totuesdaeschild for her encouragement and feedback.
Disclaimer - If it belonged to me I would have established that Christina Scofield had an horrific sociopathic evil twin that took her place after the lovely mother of both Lincoln and Michael died of liver cancer sometime in the 1980s. Since that didn’t happen... you know that nothing Prison Break related belongs to me.
Summary - Finding out that Michael is still alive and has been held by The Company for four years might be life-altering for Sara and Lincoln, but it’s also just the beginning...
( Chapter One )
Author's Note - This is by far the longest chapter... too long for one post so look for another shortly. Updates will continue to be every Wednesday. Thank you for reading and a huge extra thanks to those who take the time to review. I'm working on writing chapter eight right now and it's proving to be by far the most difficult. Your feedback in invaluable and motivating!
Sleep was elusive for Sara that night. Michael’s pacing form seemed imprinted on the insides of her eyelids. Every time her eyes drifted shut, weighed down by stress and exhaustion, she could see him as clearly as she had on that laptop screen.
Guilt sunk low in her belly at the video loop in her mind. How could she have not known he was alive? Shouldn’t she have felt something? Had some inkling? Some sixth sense?
No, that was ridiculous. She was a doctor, a logical person. She knew, knew her guilt was misplaced. Still, she couldn’t quite shake it, the feeling that she’d failed Michael somehow.
Would he have known? If it was the other way around? Would his incredible mind have somehow deduced that she’d survived and needed his help? Instinct told her yes, but experience told her no. After Panama, he’d sought revenge; he hadn’t sought her. He hadn’t known that she was still breathing, still needed him. Maybe that should have been a comforting thought, but it wasn’t. All it did was underscore all the time they’d lost, all the time wasted where they could have been building a life together.
That she was livid with Lincoln for trying to keep Michael’s existence from her was an understatement. Shortly after Jane had left, she’d scrawled a quick note and held it up for him to see. This isn’t the time or the place, but we will have a conversation about this later, Lincoln. You had no right to try to keep this from me. His jaw had set in response, a hard line that she knew well. They were going to butt heads on this, of that much she was sure.
Cognizant of the danger that even a written message presented, she’d shoved the paper down the garbage disposal and faked a cheery goodbye before heading back home to relieve Sofia of her impromptu babysitting duties.
Her son, her beautiful little boy, had been asleep when she’d gotten home. His pale eyes masked by long dark lashes feathering against his face, his sweet little lips parted slightly as he breathed the steady beat of sleep. Her heart clenched at the sight, knowing the coming days would see them parting ways and put her life in danger. The idea of leaving her three-year-old in someone else’s care, knowing she might never be able to return to him, was unthinkably brutal. But she also knew she couldn’t stay behind while others tried to wrench her husband free from The Company’s grasp.
It was an impossible situation.
Hours later with her thoughts still racing and her anxiety level no lower, she’d sleeplessly wandered from her large comfortable bed and made her way back to her little boy’s room. Shoe-horning herself between the sleeping toddler and the wall, she draped her arm around his middle and pulled him close, breathing in his scent and letting her fingers drift through his downy hair.
It ought to have been far from comfortable, a too-tight squeeze, but as Mikey sighed contentedly and cuddled up against her, she felt her tension melt for the first time since LJ had burst into her kitchen the evening before with impossible secrets spilling from his lips. And, in the pale blue room with trucks and cars painted across the walls and legos and tinkertoys spilling out from a toybox, she finally drifted off to sleep.
The dreamscape was instantly recognizable, having been a source of comfort and heartache to her night after night for years on end. The walls were starkly white with neatly hung posters of anatomy. The window, she noticed, had no bars on it. This was a first in her countless dreams of this place and she wondered for a moment what, exactly, that signified.
Then, she heard his voice, so close behind her, and thought of windows and bars faded away.
“Sara,” he said gently, voice ghosting across the back of her neck in a whisper.
She shuddered a little and her eyes clenched shut, but she fought turning around even though every instinct she had told her to grab and hold on and never let go. She would live in this dream, sometimes, if she could. But she could no sooner stay here than live in the dream Michael had sold her all those years ago. That was the dirty little secret about dreams that no one voiced. They were ephemeral, gossamer strands of hope that broke under the strain of reality.
“Look at me, Sara?” he asked, a note of pleading in his voice.
“I can’t,” she exhaled. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” he asked, hands skimming down her arms and God she could feel that like it was real.
“Because you’ll disappear if I do,” she told him, voice catching. “And I can’t handle that. Not again.”
At first, when the dreams had started, it hadn’t been like that. She’d been able to see him and hear him and touch him like he was real. It had been brutal and fantastic all at once, waking night after night to the fading memories of dreamworld trysts and the looming reality of her widowhood. But as time had passed, the dreams had grown more scarce and he had faded in definition over the years. There were so few photos of him and she couldn’t quite remember anymore how his jaw curved or that particular half-smile he’d perfected or how wide the bridge of his nose was. It hurt. It hurt like losing him all over again as he faded in her mind’s eye but never in significance.
“I can’t watch you blur and fade in front of me, Michael. I just can’t,” she choked out, sparing a glance down to his long fingers that encircled her wrist. “Not now.”
“I won’t, Sara,” he promised in earnest. “I won’t. Not this time.”
She couldn’t resist him when he took on that tone. She never could, in life or dreams. Gulping heavily and jaw quivering with hope and apprehension, she turned slowly, never letting go of the hand that had slid down to hers, as if she could physically hold him in place should he start to fade away.
He stared down at her with sad, pale eyes, a rueful smile playing across his well-defined lips and she choked back a sob at how very clear he was, how real he seemed. He wasn’t the Michael of her memory, not exactly. He was the Michael of now, the Michael of the video she’d just seen, hair too long and too gray. But that scarcely mattered. It was Michael, her Michael, and then or now she loved him down to the roots of her soul.
“Oh Michael,” she sobbed, collapsing under the weight of everything, her free hand threading through his too-long curls. “Oh God, I miss you. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I should have known.”
“Shh,” he hushed her gently, pressing a ghost of a kiss against her forehead, her eyelids, her cheekbone. “It’s okay, Sara. It’s going to be okay.”
Her head curved to the side, lips catching his in a light but desperate kiss. She couldn’t not kiss him in that moment, but she was terrified if she pushed too much, pressed her lips too hard against his, that he’d dissolve beneath her touch.
“I miss you, too,” he breathed, the vibration of his words rumbled across the landscape of her lips, their mouths still scarcely touching.
She pulled back to look at him again, hands tracing the sides of his face like she was reading braille, re-memorizing the curve and texture of him. So intent on him was she that she nearly missed as the posters over his shoulder faded away. Hands still on his face, her gaze darted sideways to watch the open window solidify into a part of the white wall. It wasn’t her infirmary anymore. It was fast becoming the room in the video.
“What’s happening, Michael?” she asked, voice panicky as she looked back to his pained expression.
“It’s okay, Sara,” he told her again, his hand threading through her hair as he spoke. “You’ve got a plan to make all this right.”
“I don’t!” she protested heartily, hands tracing the lines of his neck as a sense of urgency settled over her. “I don’t know what to do!”
“You will,” he informed her, certainty evident in his voice. “I know you will. It won’t always be like this.”
He stepped back and she nearly lunged forward trying to keep hold of him, but he already seemed less solid somehow and she knew if she touched him again her hand would find nothing but empty space.
“Don’t do this. Don’t leave me, Michael,” she pleaded, fully aware of how desperate her voice sounded.
“Sara,” he said sympathetically, regretfully. “I was never really here.”
She wanted to close her eyes against the sight of him fading into a fog of nothing, but couldn’t. He and the room both dissolved right in front of her, leaving her alone. Again. As always.
A broken sob wrenched free from her and she wrapped her arms around herself as she stared at her toes, trying so hard to ignore the ill-defined expanse of nothingness around her.
“Mama?” came a little voice and her eyes snapped up to see her little boy standing a few feet away, still clad in his firetruck pajamas and holding onto his beloved, tattered bunny rabbit.
“Mikey?” she asked, furiously scrubbing away the tears staining her cheeks. “What are you doing here?”
“Mama?” repeated a little voice, crossing the bridge from dreams to reality, pulling Sara fully from her battered dreamscape. “Is Bob Builder awake on the TV?”
“Yeah, Mikey,” she replied automatically, voice gravelly and hoarse from tears she hadn’t really cried. “Just give mommy a minute and I’ll get it set up for you.”
The dream had rattled her down to her core and she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear with still-shaking hands. It had been months since she’d dreamt of him and years since it had felt that real. It was jarring and intoxicating and heart-breaking. But mostly, it settled her with a renewed sense of determination. She might not have a plan yet, but she would. And then she would have him back. The alternative, fast-fading bittersweet dreams on repeat in her mind, was a possibility she refused to consider.
It was going to be a long day. She had nine hours until the meeting with Jane - nine hours of faking normalcy when every instinct she had was screaming that she needed to save her husband now, she needed to get rid of the surveillance on them, she needed to have it out with Lincoln about trying to keep her out of the loop. Nine hours to go completely mad.
She swung her legs over the side of the bed and rubbed the sleep from her eyes to find her little boy standing in front of her, bouncing on the balls of his feet with an energy that only very small children seemed able to possess.
“Bob Builder! We can fix it! We can fix it!” he said in a sing-song voice, a grin taking over his whole face.
She reached out and tugged him to her, pulling him into a fierce hug and kissing the crown of his head. He allowed it for a moment, her usually cuddly boy, before wriggling out of her grasp and looking up at her with big blue-green eyes.
“Bob Builder on the TV now mama?” he asked hopefully.
“Yeah, yeah. You’ve got a one-track mind, buddy,” she told him, rising to her feet as he scampered off as fast as he could down the hall toward the television. “...wonder where you get that from.”
Before long, she found herself absorbed in the routines of the day, the morning slipping by with surprising ease. Crisis or not, earth-shattering revelations or not, Mikey needed breakfast and a diaper change. Laundry had to be done. Dishes from last night still sat in her sink. It was tedious, yes, but Sara was grateful for the slew of menial tasks that generally encompassed her mornings regardless.
It wasn’t until just after lunch, when Mikey nodded off for an afternoon nap, that everything caught up with her. She stood in the doorway to his room, watching her little boy’s chest rise and fall under the comfort of a well-loved Thomas the Train Engine blanket. He was so innocent. So at peace. He had no idea how much the world, how much his world had changed in the last 24 hours. And he had no idea how much it was about to change more.
Even in the best case scenario he’d be separated from her for days, left to someone else’s care while she risked her life. Sofia, she felt sure, would be both able and willing to take on the task. But the worst case scenario... she tried not to think about that, but couldn’t help it. She knew full well how dangerous any rescue attempt would be and the very idea of her son growing up an orphan made her nearly retch.
There were still chores to be done, peanut butter handprints to be scoured off the sliding glass door and legos to pick up in the living room, but she couldn’t tear herself away from the sight of her little boy sleeping to do something as silly as clean up a home they’d likely never return to. She etched the scene into her mind, holding onto the sight of her son in the comfort and safety of his own room as long as she could.
“Hi mama,” he said eventually, smiling at her broadly as he yawned.
“Hey buddy,” she replied. “We’re meeting Uncle Linc and Sofia and LJ for a boat ride soon. Won’t that be fun?”
“Yay!” he cheered enthusiastically.
“Go find your life vest while I pack some juice, okay?” she asked him and he barrelled out of bed to set about his task.
They were going to be early, she realized, glancing at the clock as she filled a small cooler with juice and cheese and fresh fruit. But she couldn’t make herself sit around the house any longer. She could only feign interest in household chores and rereading books to Mikey about Sid the Science Kid for just so long.
As it turned out, being early was fine. Linc, Sofia and LJ were all early as well, the trio already hanging out aboard the boat as she and Mikey approached it twenty minutes later.
She raised her hand to her brow to block the sun from her eyes as she glanced seaward. The wind was stagnant, the sea a solid pane of unrippled glass, in stark contrast to the turmoil she knew was roiling underneath the surface for each of them. It felt wrong, somehow. Ill-fitting that nature defied their own sense of unrest.
Something seized in her briefly as she wondered if that damned Company island sat somewhere west of them. Was she looking toward Michael even now? Were the seas calm where he was, too?
Hang on, Michael, she thought to herself, a prayer internalized. We’re coming. I swear it. We’re coming.
“You comin’, Doc?” Lincoln’s voice rumbled and she jolted from her thoughts, head swerving to find him offering her and Mikey a steady hand onto the boat.
“Definitely,” she replied, smile broad and confident as she grasped his hand and took the step on-board.
Next (Chapter Two - Part Two)