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Five Minutes to Midnight - Chapter Six

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 Four
Chapter Five - Part One
Chapter Five (Part Two) 

Apologies for not replying to last week's reviews yet. It's been a weird week for me. I promise to get to them soon. I've read them all and hugely appreciate them. As a warning, the next chapter is VERY short (but important). The action you all seem to be waiting for starts up the chapter after that. But for now... enjoy chapter six! 

Chapter Six

Pulling up to the marina and seeing the boat for the first time was somehow both a relief and heightened Sara’s anxiety simultaneously. Every step brought them closer to Michael. And every step brought them closer to danger. She was keenly aware of how lucky they’d been thus far, in spite of a handful of minor glitches. And experience had taught Sara that luck could change without warning, that turning left instead of right could put you face-to-face with a hitman instead of your boyfriend’s brother. God but she’d learned that lesson the hard way. Luck was fickle, unreliable, and counting on it was like playing russian roulette. 

That’s the boat?” Linc asked warily, glancing at Jane as they proceeded up the dock toward a compact-looking yacht.

“It is,” she confirmed, not sparing him a look as she maintained her pace.

“How many nights are we going to be on it?” Alex asked, though Sara was sure he hadn’t forgotten this or any other detail of the plan.

“Two or three if things go according to plan,” Jane said succinctly. “Possibly longer if we need to.”

“And... how many beds does it have?” Linc finally asked, dreading the answer.

“A double and two singles,” Jane responded crisply. 

“There’s seven of us,” Linc pointed out unnecessarily. 

“Yes, thank you, I can count,” Jane replied. “Someone’s got to drive and we’ll need someone on watch at all times anyhow. We’ll just have to sleep in shifts. The boat’s fast, it’s quiet and it’s what I could get, so just smile and say ‘thank you’ and we’ll get going.”

Linc did smile, though thinly and with questionable sincerity, but what he said wasn’t exactly ‘thank you.’

“Dibs on a single,” he said and Sara rolled her eyes. 

“Oye, I got through prison without sharing a bed with a man. I’m not about to start now,” Sucre protested hotly.

“I’ll leave the arrangements on that for you boys to bicker over,” Jane said evenly, stepping aboard the boat. “Greg, you’ll drive first. Oliver, Linc, Sucre and Alex get some sleep. Sara and I are on first watch.”

Sara looked at the other woman with surprise. 

“There’s a few things I want to discuss with you,” Jane added a little quieter and Sara’s brow furrowed a little as she nodded sharply in reply. 

“Rock, paper, scissors for the singles?” Alex suggested as the four men made their way below deck and their voices became muffled by distance and walls.

“Take her out Greg,” Jane instructed and the tall, reedy man tilted his head in agreement before heading toward to start the boat’s motor.

Jane’s eyes trained along the docks as they eased out into open water, scanning methodically for observers or dangers or signs of trouble that Sara knew she might not even recognize. The blonde had been at this a long time - at least nine years if her conversation with Kellerman earlier had been any indication - and she clearly knew what she was doing. After all, she was still alive, wasn’t she?

“We’re clear,” Jane said finally, after taking a moment to scan the open sea with binoculars as well. 

“So... you and Kellerman?” Sara asked curiously.

“There’s history,” Jane acknowledged with a shrug.

“Personal or professional?” Sara wondered aloud.

“Yes,” Jane responded succinctly. “In case you hadn’t noticed, he’s got a bit of a thing for women who stand up to him and he’s spectacularly bad at separating his personal life from his professional one.”

Jane was eyeing her with a knowing look that left Sara feeling more than a little ill-at-ease. Paul Kellerman’s attraction to her might sit fairly close to the surface, but she still felt wholly uncomfortable acknowledging it.

“I wrapped a cord around his throat and tried to strangle him once,” Sara said, in a tone that sounded like a counter-argument.

Jane laughed sharply.

“If you think attempting to murder him will in any way dissuade Paul’s interest in you, you’re very wrong,” Jane replied with an honest-to-God smile.

Sara fidgeted with the cuffs of her sleeves uncomfortably as she broke eye-contact and stared back out at the calm, blue-green waters of the Caribbean. 

“How long until we get there?” Sara asked, her hands running along her upper arms more out of anxiety than out of reaction to the slight chill that seeped through her jacket.

“We’ll be in position by early tomorrow afternoon but we can’t move until nightfall,” Jane replied. “The element of surprise is our greatest asset and we need the cover of dark to maintain that as long as possible.”

“So tomorrow night then,” Sara said, voice sounding far away even to her own ears as she stared seaward. 

In a little more than 24-hours, she might see Michael again. She wasn’t honestly sure how to process that and, until now, there’d been planning and running to keep her mind occupied enough that she really hadn’t had the chance to think it over. Now, with empty ocean and empty hours stretching out before her, Sara found she couldn’t not think about it. 

It had been years since she had been this anxious. But then, it had also been years since she’d wanted anything this badly. 

She couldn’t help but recall Lincoln’s haunting words spoken on another boat just days ago. There really was nothing so horrible as hope. And, God, but she had both horror and hope in spades these days.

“Doctor...” Jane began.

“I haven’t been a doctor in a long time,” Sara scoffed a little, glancing sideways, grateful for the momentary distraction. 

“But you were one,” Jane countered. “And because of that and your own experiences, you’re more aware than most that captivity can have a wide range of effects on people.”

Sara’s brow furrowed in worry and she hugged her arms around her midsection as she nodded, half in understanding and half urging Jane to go on.

“We don’t really know what state he’ll be in when we get him back,” Jane said in a matter-of-fact tone. “Physically, it seems he’s been cared for, but beyond that... he’ll be different. Of that you can be sure. This isn’t four years ago. He’s been through a lot and you need to be prepared for that.”

Something seemed hollow in the other woman’s gaze.

“You say that like someone who’s been there,” Sara said, fishing a little.

“I was DEA once,” Jane offered up. “We had a bust in Columbia, outside Cali. It went bad. Looking back, it had all the signs of a setup. But I was young, new to the job, desperate to prove myself. I didn’t know any better, yet. I spent four months being held by the cartel. Watched every other person on my team be executed. The Company rescued me, earned my loyalty instantly. It wasn’t until years later that I figured out they’d set up the whole thing in the first place to have eyes and ears inside the DEA. By then, I was in too deep to get out. Until Aldo came along, of course. But that’s a different story.”

“Sounds like more of the same story to me,” Sara replied.

“Maybe,” Jane acknowledged. “But this isn’t the time for that. I have something I need to show you.”

“What?” Sara asked, certain it couldn’t be good, whatever it was.

“Stay here, watch the horizon for anything,” Jane instructed. “I’ll be right back.”

Sara did as she was told, staring at the vast expanse of empty sea as she thought. She knew Jane was right, knew it in her bones. She’d been held by The Company for just days before escaping them in Panama, but she knew the experience had changed her. Michael had been held for years. She ran her hands through her long auburn hair, stress of the day catching up to her. She just wanted Michael back, just wanted to have him hold her and meet their son and have all of them disappear together. It didn’t seem like that much to ask for. Not really. 

Jane reappeared suddenly with the laptop in hand and Sara eyed the machine warily.

“We’ve only had someone in place in the facility since just after the General died, as you know,” Jane said, opening the laptop and entering in a password. “The person running the facility changed at the same time, just a few weeks ago. We have no idea what things were like for Michael under the previous regime. We, do, however, have some information about the current one.”

“Okay,” Sara said nervously as Jane cued up a video and turned it to face her.

She knew she’d see his image, but the sight of Michael, older with longer hair confined in that room, still jolted Sara. What she wasn’t prepared for, what startled her more than the sight of her supposedly-dead husband, was the sight of a second person in that room with him. 

Michael’s face hardened visibly as a second person walked up to him, infringing on the edges of his personal space. It was a woman, auburn-haired and wearing a white lab coat.

“That’s Dr. Middleton,” Jane informed her. “She’s running the facility. Three months ago she was a blonde.”

“I had that shirt. I wore it all the time when I worked at Fox River,” Sara said numbly as she eyed the woman on the screen. “Those earrings, too.”

“She appears to be doing everything she can to look like you, short of plastic surgery,” Jane said levelly.

Sara’s eyes broke from the screen to catch Jane’s gaze.

Why?” Sara asked gravely.

“Psychological warfare?  An attempt at coercion? Seduction? We don’t really know. But there’s no way that doesn’t effect Michael on some level,” Jane pointed out. “And there’s every possibility that he’ll keep himself distant from you because of her attempt to relate herself to you in his mind.”

Sara’s eyes clenched shut and she fought back a wave of nausea that had nothing to do with seasickness. The Company had wormed their way into every aspect of her life. But the idea of it corrupting her relationship with Michael, the very thought of them twisting it and using it for their benefit to manipulate him for their own means, had her blood boiling and her stomach churning. 

“I thought you should know,” Jane followed-up.

“I, um... I can’t say I’d be sorry if a bullet found its way into her head in the middle of everything?” Sara realized aloud, her voice tinged with a nervous bite of laughter.

She could feel Jane’s eyes studying her, looking for something. She felt raw enough, emotions close to the surface enough, that she was sure there was plenty for someone with Jane’s skillset to read in her countenance. She wondered, momentarily, what exactly the other woman found.

“Just so we’re clear,” Jane began, voice fading off a bit before she picked back up. “You’re not the type to go off after her vigilante style, are you?”

“What? No,” Sara protested jarringly, eyes snapping to Jane’s gaze. “My only priority is getting Michael and getting us back to my son - our son - safely. I’m not about to let anything get in the way of that.”

“Good,” Jane said sharply after a beat, looking satisfied with the answer.

“I’m just saying... I’m just saying that if you had a clean shot, I might not be morally opposed to you taking it,” Sara breathed as a follow up, feeling a little ill at the truth of her admission.

“You used to have a real problem with killing,” Jane pointed out.

“I used to be a doctor,” Sara replied. “Like a lot of other things, they took that from me.”

“Yeah,” Jane echoed, something like sympathy shading her voice. “I know the feeling.”

Tags: fic, fmtm, my_fic, prison break

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