isis_uf (isis_uf) wrote,

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Five Minutes to Midnight: Chapter Four

Five Minutes to Midnight

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
Chapter Two - Part One
Chapter Two - Part Two
Chapter Three

Chapter Notes - Points to anyone who recognizes the names of the two Company agents tailing Sara and Linc. Double points to anyone who recognizes the two unnamed law enforcement professionals who have a cameo here. Seriously, kudos if you suss it out. Enjoy! ;-)

Chapter Four

The next two days simultaneously slowed to a crawl and sped by with horrifying swiftness. There was an endless string of details to plot out. For every conceivable thing that could go wrong - and there were a lot of them - they needed a backup plan. But pantomiming a normal life for the Company goons watching them and escaping on the boat to frantically plan was quickly wearing Sara thin. She wanted Michael back. Now. Three days ago. Four years and several months ago. And sitting around planning was making her feel like she might crawl out of her own skin with frustration and impatience.

She’d gained a whole new level of respect for Michael’s plan to break his brother out of Fox River. She couldn’t imagine doing this for three weeks, let alone three years.

When the day they were leaving finally arrived and they all - minus Jane and her team - arrived at the airport, Sara actually had to check her boarding pass to remember where it was they were supposedly heading. The destination on the ticket didn’t matter; the layover in Dallas did. In Dallas, Kellerman’s men would be waiting to take them into custody. At least, she hoped to God they would be. Otherwise they’d all end up in... well, Nova Scotia, if her boarding pass was to be believed. 

“Woah! Look at that!” Mikey exclaimed, letting go of his mother’s hand to rush up to the glass and press his nose against it as a 747 roared down the runway. “That plane is going up, up and away, mama!”

Half of her wanted to crouch next to her little boy and hold him tightly, grasping onto the moment and her son never to let go. The other half of her wanted to look away, insulate herself from him for the sake of what had to be done. It was Lincoln’s heavy hand squeezing her shoulder and his level gaze that reminded her neither of those wants was an option. Not now. 

“It’s pretty cool, huh buddy?” she asked in what she hoped was a convincingly light tone, bending down to his level. 

Mikey hadn’t seemed to pick up on anything being wrong, but she had no idea if Company agents were still tailing them. It was likely, she thought, fighting the urge to scan the terminal for dark sunglasses and low-dipped caps. 

“We’ll be going on one of those and going up, up and away ourselves pretty soon,” she told him.

“It’s a very long ways to fall,” he told her solemnly, looking a little concerned.

“You won’t fall, Mikey,” she told him, a genuine smile inching its way onto her face. “Planes are built for this.”

“Oh...” he said, his little face screwing into a look of intense concentration that she knew well. “How do they work?”

“Um... they...” she stumbled a little. “Aerodynamics and... physics.”

It was simultaneously the most rudimentary and thorough answer she could provide. How the hell should she know how planes worked? They just did. She wondered, however, ever-so-briefly, how Michael would have fielded that question. How he would field that question.

“You don’t know, do you mommy?” Mikey asked, his hand resting on her shoulder just as Linc’s had moments before.

“I can tell you how your endocrine system works!” she countered. “And exactly what happens when you sneeze.”

Mikey just shook his head at her. 

“Momma, we’ll look it up later together, okay? Then we’ll both know,” he said.

She bit her lips to keep from laughing even as a monotone voice announced their boarding over the loudspeaker.

“Listen, Mikey,” she said seriously, brushing his hair back from his brow and trying to commit his little face to memory. “Sometimes there’s security on planes and at airports. It’s their job to keep us safe. So sometimes they have to search us and even divide us up for a little bit. But you don’t have to be scared, okay? It happens all the time. Everything will be okay.”

“Like before when we had to take our shoes off and walk through the thingy?” he asked warily.

“Sort of,” she agreed. “Sometimes they have to check you out even more carefully. They might even want to talk to mommy alone. But that’ll be okay because it happens all the time and we won’t be apart for long, okay?”

“Okay...” he said sounding uncertain.

She hated keeping him in the dark on this. He was bound to be terrified when they were marched off in handcuffs, but there was little she could do about it. Warning him of what was to come would only scare him more and had the added danger of the potential for him to slip and say something oh-so-innocently to the flight attendant, the person next to them, anyone. It was just too big a risk. 

“Good boy,” she told him, ruffling the hair she’d just smoothed and grasping his small hand in hers as they followed Linc and Sofia and LJ onto the waiting plane, Alex and Felicia close on their heels.

Mikey took the window seat and stared in awe as they took off and the ground shrank away beneath them. Sara made all the appropriate noises in return, smiling and nodding and agreeing at her little boy, but she registered barely anything he was saying. This was really happening. Now. And the anxiety coursing through her veins made her wish like hell she could ask a flight attendant for every miniature-sized bottle of bourbon they had on the damn plane. It had been a long, long time since she’d wanted a drink (or twelve) as badly as she did right now.

“You good, Doc?” Lincoln’s heavy voice rumbled from across the aisle.

She nodded hard, auburn hair masking her face and sweaty palms rubbing against the knees of her jeans. Losing it wasn’t an option right now.

An unopened bottle of water appeared on her tray table and her eyes darted across the thin walkway to catch Linc’s gaze.

“Thanks,” she mumbled, unscrewing the cap and gulping back half the miniature bottle in one go. “Not exactly the drink I was craving, but...”

“Yeah,” Linc replied, unsurprised. “I got that. Not exactly like you can call your sponsor at the moment though, so...”

She almost laughed at that, envisioning such a call. I really want a drink right now because I just found out that my dead husband is really alive and being held captive by the remnants of a shady international organization that secretly rules the world. Yeah... that’d go over real well.

“I’m good, Linc,” she reassured him, taking a deep breath and downing the rest of the water. “I’ll be fine.”

And it was true, she realized all the sudden. She wouldn’t be so terrified if she didn’t have so much to lose and so much to gain. She had to focus, keep it together. Michael needed her. Her son needed her. And - damn it - she deserved to have things turn out in her favor for a change.

“Good,” he replied gruffly, turning his half-hearted attention back to last month’s in-flight magazine.  

“Momma? How much longer?” Mikey asked, tugging on Sara’s sleeve.

“We have to change planes in about an hour and a half,” she told him, checking her watch. “Do you want a coloring book or...”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” a voice over the intercom interrupted, startling her as it cut her off. “This is your captain speaking. We’ve had an indicator light go on for our fuel tank. There is no immediate danger, but policy requires that we stop at the closest major airport to have it check out and ensure all of our passengers’ safety. Unfortunately, folks, that means we’ll be setting down in Albuquerque just as soon as we have clearance from the tower. I know a lot of you have connecting flights and we thank you for your...”

His voice dulled into the background with a low hum of commentary from the plane’s passengers. Sara was silent, though. Hands shaking and moist as she caught Alex’s eye, looking back from the row in front of them.

“Do you think...” Lincoln started.

“Either that or we’ll miss them in Dallas,” Alex acknowledged.

“Plan B?” Sara asked, her voice betraying her anxiety a little.

“Let’s see how this pans out,” Felicia counseled, catching her husband’s eye and engaging in some sort of silent conversation. 

“What’d that man say, momma?” Mikey asked, big eyes staring up at her.

“Um, the plane has to stop for gas,” she simplified. “Like mommy does for the car.”

“Oh...” Mikey replied, unconcerned and returning his attention to the fast approaching ground.

Touchdown was a little jarring and Sara wasn’t the only one aboard gripping her arm rests with whitened knuckles. Later, she’d wonder exactly how she’d managed to go through the motions of disembarking with relative calm. Her heart pounded somewhere in her throat and the din of the passengers sounded like a foreign language to her ears. But she grabbed her carry-on bag and Mikey’s hand and they walked down the aisle with LJ, Felicia and Alex in front of them and Lincoln and Sofia behind. 

“Dad,” LJ said, panic evident in his voice as soon as they stepped off the gangplank. 

Sara’s view was blocked by LJ’s increasingly bulky form, but she knew the tone well enough to know what he’d seen. One way or another, this was happening. Here, not Dallas. And their plan was already being thrown off-course. 

“I love you, Mikey,” she smiled down at her son, leaning down to kiss the crown of his head in a lingering way. “Don’t ever forget that. No matter what.”

“I know, momma. Love you too,” he replied smiling, completely unaware of everything about to happen.

“Doctor Sara Tancredi,” a chillingly familiar voice rang out as several heavily-armed officers surrounded them and the other passengers scattered. “You’re under arrest for … well, just about everything I can think of, actually.”

“Actually, I’m no longer a doctor or a Tancredi, Congressman,” she corrected, pulling Mikey flush behind her in as protected a position as she could possibly muster, given the circumstances. 

“Fair enough, Sara,” he replied, smiling like it hurt his face to do so as he closed the space between them. “Then it’s Mrs. Scofield who’s under arrest. That’s fitting, really. Since Scofield’s the reason you’ve gotten yourself into so much trouble. But, any name you want to go by, you’re still going to jail... along with all of your conspirators. Mr and Mrs. Mahone, both Mr. Burrowses and... who are you, exactly?”

His eyes had settled on Sofia with genuine confusion and it was oddly gratifying to find that after all this time, Kellerman was a bit out of the loop. 

“She’s my nanny,” Sara blurted out, cutting off whatever Sofia had been about to say. “And you’ve got nothing to arrest her on, so I’d like to leave my son in her custody for the time being.”

Mikey seemed to draw Paul’s attention for the first time and the Congressman’s smile twitched a little as he took in the wide, sea-colored eyes and dark hair.

“My, my... you do look like your daddy, don’t you?” he asked rhetorically, eyeing the child with unnerving focus. 

“Leave him out of this,” Linc growled.

“Down boy,” Kellerman smirked, giving Lincoln a sideways glance. 

“Linc...” Sara cautioned as her brother-in-law’s frame tensed up like a coiled spring, her single word garnering his attention and taking some of the edge off of his ire.

“You and your... nanny will both need to sign some papers in order to release the minor to her custody. So, for now, you’ll all need to come with us,” Kellerman informed Sara, turning back to face her fully. 

“Fine,” Sara agreed, ushering Mikey to Sofia’s side and hoping like hell that this was all going to work out according to plan in spite of the venue change.

Kellerman wasn’t the type to tip his hand either way. At this point - even though she arguably knew him the best out of their group - she couldn’t even hazard a guess to what the former Company agent’s agenda was. All she did know was that he was enjoying this entirely too much.

“I’m going to need you to put your hands behind your back,” he ordered.

“Is that really necessary?” Sara asked, brow furrowed as she thought of her three-year-old watching his entire family walk off in handcuffs with guns trained on them.

“You’ve played a part in a breakout from not one but two maximum security prisons... what do you think?” he smirked.

“I’m surprised you came yourself,” she baited, hoping like hell for some clue as to what her sometimes-adversary was really up to as he roughly jerked her arms in place and secured the handcuffs around her wrists. “Surely you have people you could have sent to do this for you, these days.”

“And miss this, Sara?” he asked, leaning in far too closely to her ear for her comfort-level. “Not for the world.”

“New Mexico, Paul?” she questioned.

“I was feeling nostalgic,” he offered up, earning a solid glare back in return.

“Tugging on her pigtails won’t make her like you back, Kellerman,” Lincoln sneered from a couple feet away, hands bound behind his back and a police officer on either side of him. 

“Just doing my duty, Burrows,” Kellerman answered tightly. “Helping people is what I do. I like being the guy people know they can turn to... to get things done.”

The sense of relief at the familiarity of his words - all of them snippets of their conversation just days ago when she’d called him - washed through Sara in a rush, overwhelming her already strained nerves. A few desperate sobs of relief and not even a full minute later, she took a steadying breath and let her auburn tresses drape to hide her face as best she could. 

As they slowly began to make their way through the terminal, progressing past the cordoned off areas the police alone had access to, the bright lights of the media’s cameras flashed with blinding brilliance. She glanced up toward them only briefly, to supply proof-positive of her identity for those that needed to see it, before gluing her gaze back at her own feet, a smile playing at the edges of her mouth. 

Their plan was underway. And so far? It was working.

The media presence had far surpassed Sara’s expectations if the cluster of stylish high heels and sensible business flats barely visible beneath the curtain of her hair was any indication. Some of them were calling her name, trying to earn her attention as flush bulbs washed everything out. Others were narrating the scene - narrating her life, or their version of it - into the steady glare of the television cameras, with her, no doubt, as the backdrop. 

“ one point best known for her charity work and her father’s political career, Dr. Tancredi kept her addictions quiet as she...”

“...a near-fatal overdose in a failed suicide attempt...”

“...engaged in an illicit, sexual relationship with one of her patients, inmate Michael Scofield of the now infamous Fox River Eight...”

“...wanted in connection with the cold-blooded murder of...” 

Their voices trailed after her as she walked, Kellerman’s grip firmly around her upper arm. She would have been lying if she’d said that a part of her didn’t want to turn to those cameras and set the record straight. But the truth and her reputation had been two of the first casualties of this entire thing and she knew that both were too far gone to be resurrected. Besides, there were more important things that demanded her attention now. 

Honestly, she was a little surprised that Kellerman didn’t stop for the cameras, parade her in front of them like a prized catch that was bound to bolster his popularity immensely. But he didn’t, instead leading her toward a heavy-looking metal door labelled “Security.” She’d never been claustrophobic in a crowd, but the sense of relief she felt as the voices of the media dulled with distance was tremendous.

“Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber were three rows behind you,” Kellerman said as soon as the door shut and the flashbulbs of the media disappeared.

He tossed a couple of photos of the company agents down onto the long metal table in the middle of the room and Sara craned her neck to take a look at the men who had been tailing them for years. They seemed vaguely familiar, but were generally unremarkable looking men. That would be useful, she supposed, in their line of work.

“Rosen and Sterns,” Kellerman elaborated. “Not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer, but definitely a threat.”

“You know them?” Sara asked, looking at Kellerman with interest.

“We’ve... crossed paths before,” he explained vaguely. 

“Where are they now?” Lincoln asked, brow furrowed as he stared down the pictures.

“Rosen is trying to pass himself off as part of the press corp to get information while Sterns is trying to impersonate someone from Homeland Security to get access to you,” Kellerman replied, directing his answer to Sara rather than Lincoln as he spoke. “We’ve got eyes on them both. I can keep them barking up the wrong trees and chasing their tails for a while.”

“Thank you,” Sara said genuinely and the tiniest, most authentic smile she’d ever seen inched across Kellerman’s lips.

“Marshals, lets get those handcuffs off, shall we?” he said finally, clearing his throat a bit before moving to unrestrain Sara.

His hands stuttered against the metal around her wrists and she could hear his breath catch a little before he freed her. She mumbled her thanks and rubbed her newly-released wrists as if to reaffirm that they were no longer cuffed behind her. Kellerman’s eyes didn’t once leave her hands as she did so and she knew instantly why.

“You never seemed the tattoo type to me, Sara. Some of your husband’s ink rub off on you?” he asked, barbs in his voice.

She laughed sharply and stared down at the ever-present, simple outline of a paper crane adorning the inside of her left wrist.

“Clearly you don’t know me as well as you think you do, Paul,” she chastised lightly.

“I really do,” he countered, his tone brokering no room for debate.

Man, you just have all the charm of a used car salesman, don’t you?” the female US Marshal that had accompanied them into the room asked, directing her voice toward Kellerman. “Actually, that might be insulting to used car salesmen.”

“Ix-nay on the insults-ay,” her partner suggested, talking out of the side of his mouth while continuing to stare straight ahead at the congressman.

“Pig latin? Seriously?” she asked, shaking her head at him in bewilderment.

“You’d prefer real Latin?” he asked, his gaze shifting toward her. “Quieti iniurias.”

God, you’re a nerd,” she replied, looking a little flabbergasted. “How is it that I’m perpetually astounded by exactly how big a nerd you are? Do you build Star Trek models in your spare time?”

“Pfft, of course not,” he replied, looking a little insulted. “They’re Star Wars.”

“These... lovely US Marshals will be providing your cover,” Kellerman informed the group as Mikey left Sofia’s side to grab his mother’s hand.

“What do you have planned?” Alex asked, speaking up for the first time since the plane ride.

“I presume you need to be in Dallas, so I’ll get you all to Dallas,” Kellerman replied. “While we’re flying out on a private plane, our fine public servants here will be driving two prisoner transport vans that - hopefully - everyone will assume you are in. When they are asked about you by the media, their reply will be ‘The U.S. Marshal Service does not comment about those in their custody or persons in the witness protection program.’”

“Which will send the media into a frenzy assuming we’re all in witness protection and send the Company agents on a wild goose chase,” Sara followed up.

“That’s the plan,” Kellerman confirmed.

“It’s a good plan,” Alex admitted, looking a little surprised.

“No need to be so shocked, Agent Mahone. Once upon a time, I did this sort of thing with pretty great regularity,” Kellerman reminded them.

“Yeah... we remember,” LJ replied darkly, looking like he wanted to tear the congressman’s throat out in spite of the fact that he was currently helping them.

All-in-all, Sara couldn’t blame him all for that. She still remembered, with startling clarity, exactly how satisfying it felt to wrap a cord around his neck and pull. And, for all his sins against her, Kellerman’s wrongs against LJ were decidedly worse. 

She grabbed her nephew’s hand, her grip both restraining and reassuring, and caught his eye. They’d always had an unspoken language all their own. Ever since Panama, where the threat of death and torture lingered in every shadow.

It wasn’t okay, her eyes told him sadly, but there also wasn’t a way to make it okay. Four years ago, Kellerman had killed LJ’s mother in cold blood right in front of him. And today? Today he was a US Congressman. Respected. Admired. Forgiven by the court of public opinion, if not by his victims. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. But there wasn’t a damn thing they could do about that, especially when they needed his help so badly once again.

“When does the plane leave?” Sofia asked and it was only when she spoke that Sara realized the other woman had a steadying hand on LJ’s elbow.

“Whenever we want,” Kellerman replied, his attention drawn to the slight woman. “Nanny? Really?”

“She’s with me,” Lincoln replied for her, stepping between his girlfriend and Kellerman.

“Of course she is,” Kellerman replied dryly, in a way that Sara felt certain was meant to be wholly unflattering to the both of them.

“Let’s get going,” Sara said just as Linc opened his mouth to say something that couldn’t possibly be to their benefit. “Jane’s going to go to Plan B if we’re not there soon.”

“Jane?” Kellerman asked sharply, his eyes unnervingly piercing and wholly focused on Sara.

“An old contact of Aldo’s,” Sara confirmed, regretting her slip-of-the-tongue instantly. “She’s helping us.”

Kellerman laughed a little and shook his head with a rueful smile, but said nothing for a long minute, eyes seemingly searching for answers to some unspoken question in the cheap wallpaper covering the room.

“Of course she is,” he replied finally, a deadened quality taking over his eyes. 

“What does that mea-”

“Let’s go,” he interrupted, his tone all business. “Don’t want to keep Jane waiting, now do we?”

Sara was a little taken aback by the abrupt shift in his demeanor, but followed his clipped pace out the service door and through a deserted hall, the footsteps of her family following close behind her. 

It was nerve-wracking, even with things going so well - or, perhaps, because they were going so well - to follow Paul Kellerman through the maze of the airport’s silent service corridors. How secure was it really? How did he know for absolute certain that no one would be using these halls? She didn’t ask though, either because she was nervous of his answer or unsure if she’d believe it. Instead she hurried along as fast as her long legs would let her, hoisting her son up into her arms to aid in quickening their pace.

“Here,” Kellerman said briskly, pulling something from his pocket and holding it out to Sara as they reached the exit door to the tarmac.

“A hat?” she questioned even as she shifted her son on her hip and pulled it atop her head, tucking her hair up in it as best she could.

“Unlikely we’ll need any kind of a disguise boarding the plane but better to err on the side of caution,” Kellerman told her.

“Where’s mine?” Linc asked.

Kellerman gave a disbelieving look in Lincoln’s direction and cocked his head to the side a little.

“You don’t get one,” he said finally.

“Why not? I’m recognizable too,” Linc protested.

“Everyone in America just saw Sara hauled off in handcuffs on CNN,” Kellerman reminded him. “She’s got pretty distinctive hair, in case you hadn’t noticed. We can hide that with a hat. You, however, have no hair to hide and a neck like a two-by-four so unless you want us to scrounge up a scarf for you, you’re just going to have to hurry along with no disguise and cross your fingers.”

Linc muttered something beneath his breath that Sara couldn’t make out, but did as he’d been instructed without any further complaint. The eight of them breezed through the door, following Kellerman to a private plane not far away. To Sara’s great relief, there was no one in sight other than two men guarding the plane who nodded solidly in Kellerman’s direction as they boarded.

“How many people, exactly, know about this plan of yours?” Alex asked as they each claimed seats.

“The two guards outside, three U.S. Marshals, the Director of Homeland Security and the head of the U.S. Marshal Service,” he answered. “None of whom are going to mess this up. You have my word on that.”

“Yeah, because your word has proven so reliable,” Lincoln countered as they started taxiing down the runway.

“I don’t know,” Kellerman replied, looking a little affronted but not at all surprised. “I think I’ve pulled through pretty well so far.”

“You have, Paul,” Sara replied, holding her son tightly on her lap as she stared out the window.

It was an awkward trip, few of them speaking during the hour and a half long flight. That was probably for the best, Sara decided. Kellerman, Linc and LJ in an enclosed space was a potential recipe for disaster. It wasn’t until the plane had landed and they began to disembark that Kellerman’s voice jarred Sara from her tumultuous thoughts.

“Sara,” he said as she hoisted her sleeping little boy into her arms.

“Hm?” she questioned, turning toward him.

“I hope you find him,” Kellerman said, sincerity etched into every aspect of his face.

“What?” Sara asked, scarcely daring to breathe.

“Give me a little credit, Sara,” he said. “You’re not running from someone; You’re running to someone. I’ve done this long enough to know the difference.”

“Paul...” she said, voice trailing off a little as she recognized simultaneously that they were alone on the plane at this point and she didn’t have any clue how to respond to that.

“You deserve a happy ending, Sara,” he told her, smiling a little sadly.

“I’m not after a happy ending. Endings are never happy,” she responded, shifting so her son’s head rest on her shoulder. “I’m after a happy middle.” 

“Fair enough,” he agreed.

Tags: fic, fmtm, my_fic, prison break

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  • (no subject)

    My running list of books I want to read might currently be upwards of 150. ...Oops? Exchanged where late the sweet birds sang for a copy that…

  • Reading (of the non-fic variety)

    So I've been reading actual books lately. Like, printed on paper and everything. I KNOW. How very archaic of me. Anyhow, I thought I'd give a…

  • Happy Fifth Birthday, Ava!

    My baby girl is five today! How the hell did that happen?? I feel old.