isis_uf (isis_uf) wrote,

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Five Minutes to Midnight - Chapter Nine

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
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight

Author's Note: I am probably moving very soon. So - while I'm going to try to maintain my posting schedule - I can make no promises at this point about continuing to post weekly... other than that I promise to try. Extra special kudos to andacus on this chapter for making it not sound like Sara misread wikipedia to get all of her medical knowledge and continuing thanks to tuesdaeschild for her amazing cheerleading skills and grammatical error catches.

Chapter Nine

Of the things Michael thought likely to see when the door to his workspace opened, Alex Mahone wouldn’t have even made the list of possible contenders. But there he was, looking relieved and anxious all at once.

“Michael... We’ve gotta go, now,” Alex said urgently as severe looking blonde appeared over his shoulder, talking quietly to herself or - more likely - into a very tiny headset.

He wanted to. God, but he wanted to. There was nothing in the world he wanted more than to be free of this place. Nothing, that is, except his family’s safety.

“I... I can’t,” Michael responded with some effort.

“What are you talking about?” Alex asked, blinking at him in disbelief.

“They’ll kill Sara and Linc,” Michael replied. “And they’ll take my son. I can’t lea-”

“They’re here,” the woman interrupted brusquely. “Lincoln and Sara are here, looking for you. And your son is safe.”

He hadn’t even entertained the notion of escape for so long that the very idea felt foreign to him. And, to be totally honest, he’d never thought about the possibility of a rescue, not after finding out how long had already passed by the time he’d woken up in this place.

“You’d be Jane, I presume?” Michael asked a little warily, recalling Linc’s description of their father’s associate years ago. 

Para-military Barbie wasn’t that far off the mark.

The woman nodded sharply in affirmation before scanning their surroundings again, practiced gaze sweeping the room. And, for the first time since his door opened, Michael dared to allow the tiniest bloom of hope that this might actually be happening.

“Yes, I know,” Jane was saying into her headset with some urgency before turning back to him. “Michael, I know this is a shock, but we have to move. Now. The gunshots set off the alarms and any second every Company agent on this island will be looking for us.”

As she finished speaking, footsteps fast and heavy thundered down the hall. Jane turned swiftly, gun already raised, but lowered it almost immediately. The footfalls didn’t falter in the least. And seconds later, Lincoln’s burly frame filled the doorway.

“Linc?” Michael asked, disbelief and hope choking his voice.

“Mike,” Lincoln breathed in relief, crossing the room in three big strides to hug his brother tightly. “We thought we’d lost you, man.”

Michael nodded hard against Lincoln’s shoulder, the sturdiness of his older brother’s frame a solid reassurance that this was real. This was happening. His brother was here. He couldn’t have let go in that moment if his life had depended on it. 

“You did,” he replied eventually. 

He was pretty sure both he and Lincoln were crying, but someone else was sobbing... speaking very rapidly in Spanish and throwing their arms around both him and Linc.

“Sucre,” Michael smiled in realization before even seeing the other man. 

With only a moment of hesitation, he let go of his brother to give the other man a quick embrace. His attention, though, shifted very quickly once he spotted someone else over his friend’s shoulder, lingering in the doorway. His arms fell away from Sucre and he felt suddenly like he couldn’t breathe. 

“Sara,” he somehow whispered, feet moving toward her of their own accord. 

Her willowy frame shook visibly, hands shuddering under the strain of adrenaline and emotion, and he could practically feel relief pouring off of her in waves. She stared at him like he was a ghost, like she couldn’t quite believe he was actually standing in front of her. 

He knew the feeling. 

Reaching out tentatively, half-afraid of startling her and half-afraid he’d lost his mind and his hands would slide right through a fully realized hallucination, he wrapped his arms gently around Sara. Her solid body leaned heavily against his and he tightened his grip, burying his face in her hair. His eyes clenched shut, blocking out the sound of the klaxxon and Jane’s voice as he breathed in her scent and held her familiar lithe form against him. 

It was almost too much to bear. Too much of what he wanted, given to him all at once. This was what the pictures on his wall could never offer. 

He didn’t want to let her go. He wanted to hold her and kiss her deeply and just be with her, but the steady sound of the alarm and the increasing urgency in Jane’s voice pulled him back to reality. He kissed her temple before stepping back an arm’s length and bringing her hand to his lips to kiss her knuckles. Her breath caught a little at the gesture and their eyes locked, conveying in silence things that words alone could never capture.  

“Reunions later,” Jane interrupted. “Or there won’t be a later.”

“They’ll be in the building by now,” said one of three men Michael had never seen before, all standing beside Jane.

“Yes, but their communications are down, so they’ll be far less coordinated,” said another of the men, a weedy looking man with thick-rimmed glasses  who smiled like he was wincing. “I’ve gummed up the works. They’ll be down for the duration. Video and audio.”

“Good work, Morris,” Jane praised. ‘We need to get to the roof.” 

“It’s too late for that,” Michael responded, mentally calculating about how long the alarm had been sounding. “I tried to escape once, a long time ago. They found me on the roof in under five minutes... then they had someone beat the hell out of LJ and they threatened to kill my son if I ever tried to escape again.”

Lincoln swore colorfully as Sara made a low, choked noise and covered her mouth with her palm. Alex looked away, gaze settled somewhere down the hall as he blinked hard, his mouth set in a grim line. 

“Well, if you’ve got any brilliant plans for getting out of here, now would be a great time to share them,” one of other men said, addressing Michael.

“Me?” Michael asked, pale eyes widening in surprise. “You broke in here - with Sara and Linc - without a plan to get us out if an alarm went off?”

“Well... at least we don’t have to worry about the deadline now, right?” Sucre asked, looking on the bright side. “No worries about facial recognition software kicking in when they already know we’re here.”

Michael really didn’t like the look Jane’s men gave each other.

“The deadline wasn’t for their software,” Jane admitted, her tone low and dangerous. “It’s for the bombs we placed. We have twenty minutes to get off this island or we blow up along with everything here.”

“You... are you fucking kidding me?” Linc spoke lowly, voice seething with barely controlled anger.

“How did you think I got approval for this mission?” Jane asked, casting a derisive look of disbelief at Lincoln. “Our goal has always been to bring down the Company. We weren’t about to miss an opportunity to blow up one of their main centers of operation just because it’s dangerous.”

“You’ve got to know a way to get out of this building,” one of Jane’s men insisted, looking toward Michael again. “Don’t you have a photographic memory or something?”

“I notice everything. I don’t remember everything,” Michael said with annoyance. “If I did, I could have avoided a rather extensive piece of body art.”

In spite of the situation, Lincoln snorted in amusement a few steps behind him.

“But...” Michael said, pausing a moment, eyes tracing Sara’s face. “I might have an idea.”

“Good,” Jane replied sharply.

“Strip one of the dead guards of his uniform,” Michael instructed Jane’s men, moving back to his computer as he spoke.

As Jane’s men worked, Michael grabbed a flash drive from the computer and slipped it subtly into his pocket, giving Lincoln a significant look. Lincoln raised an eyebrow but said nothing in reply. Michael had given years of his life to decoding The Company’s secrets. No way he was letting the nearly-completed puzzle go up in flames now. 

Seconds later, he took the dead guard’s clothes and slipped them on over his own. They were ill-fitting, too short in the leg and too bulky across the chest, but he stood out less and that was the whole point.

“Good,” he nodded, glancing up toward the clock with a wince. “Now we need to head toward the infirmary.”

“If you’re going after Doctor Middleton,” Jane began, “I get it, but there really isn’t-”

“Not exactly,” he interrupted as he moved past Jane into the corridor. “Just her lab coat.”

“I don’t understand,” Jane said, following a few steps behind him along with the rest of their group. “What’s in her lab coat?”

“Nothing,” Michael smirked at the blonde. “...Yet.”

He clearly didn’t intend to explain himself - there really wasn’t time to, anyhow - so Jane just huffed as she followed along. 

“It’s a good idea,” Alex said as his mind puzzled things out, drawing Michael’s attention and earning a grin in reply.

The honest smile felt foreign on his face, almost like his muscles had forgotten how. With so much time passed, so much having happened to him these past few years, discovering that he and Alex still thought alike almost felt like a relief, like proof-positive that - in some small way - he was still the same man he’d been back at Fox River. 

“Are you... How are you?” Sara asked, matching his steps, eyes curious and voice hushed.

It was simultaneously the easiest and most complicated question in the world to answer in that moment.

“Better than I’ve been in years,” he told her honestly, smile dimmed a little but just as sincere as before. 

“Good. That’s... good,” Sara replied at his rudimentary answer. “Are there any health concerns I should know about before-”

“DOWN,” Jane yelled, a fraction of a second before shots rang out.

Unarmed and running on years-old instinct, he dove, pulling Sara to the floor with him and covering her body with his own. Likely due to the same instinct, Linc and Sucre stepped in front of both of them, shooting even as they moved. 

Maybe it had been years since he’d heard the thundering crack of gunfire or the anguished cry that inevitably broke free as a bullet found its mark, but those weren’t the kind of sounds you ever forgot. Michael stayed stock still with Sara’s head pulled against his chest until the noises stopped. 

He dared a peak then, toward the Company agents who’d been shooting at them. Three men lay at the end of the hall, a rapidly growing pool of blood and gore surrounding them. He breathed a sigh of relief at the sight and momentarily felt sick at his own reaction. When was it, exactly, that the death of anyone had started to sit well with him?

“Michael? Sara? You hit?” Linc asked, voice urgent and more than a little panicked sounding.

“No. I listened,” Michael replied, shaking off his earlier thoughts and gripping his brother’s proffered hand to help himself up before turning to help Sara to her feet.

“I’m supposed to be saving you,” Sara pointed out as she stood up and dusted herself off. 

Before he could offer up some incredibly cheesy but truthful and hopefully endearing line about how she’d saved him years ago, Jane’s voice broke in.

“Sara, we need a doctor over here,” Jane barked out.

“Oh, fuck. No, you don’t,” one of Jane’s men said, looking down at the blood seeping out between the fingers of his hand pressed to his own abdomen.

“It’s not a killshot, Oliver,” Jane argued. 

“Maybe, maybe not,” Oliver replied as Sara hurried to his side and pried his hand off of the wound to get a better look. “But the bombs will get me and if you try to stop and help me they’ll get you too. Then this will all be for nothing.”

“He’s losing blood fast,” Sara confirmed. “The bullet probably hit an artery. He’d need extensive surgery right now and even if we had the facilities and the time, I’m not a surgeon.”

“Oliver...” one of Jane’s other men said, obviously warring with what to say.

“It’s fine, Greg,” Oliver told him, trying to shrug and mostly failing. “Think I’m in shock, so that’s good anyhow. I’m just gonna sit back and take a rest here while you guys go on and do the hard work.”

“Anything you want me to tell your sister?” Jane asked, her tone rushed but sympathetic.

“She thinks I’m an accountant in Toledo,” he replied. “So maybe that number crunching turned out to be more hazardous than I thought. Gotta watch for all those papercuts. Quit being sentimental saps and go. I’m just gonna play dead til I am dead. Hopefully pop a few Company goons before I go kaboom.”

Michael had seen a lot of people die. Too many. Some looked at their own death with a sense of disbelief. Some never saw it coming at all. But never had he seen someone who was funny while breathing their last breaths. He wondered, momentarily, what it was that had led Oliver to this life. 

“Thank you, Oliver,” Michael said with sincerity.

“Get outta here,” Oliver replied, gesturing with a bloodied hand.

“Which way?” Jane asked, her two remaining able-bodied men looking grim-faced and ashen at her side.

“It’s not far,” Michael replied, leading the group back down the hallway, stepping over the bodies of the Company agents as they went, blood staining the soles of their shoes.

Moments later they burst through the doors to the empty infirmary. For once, the alarm going off seemed to be working in their favor, medical personnel having cleared out of the facility.

“Michael, why are we here?” Sara asked him as he grabbed Doctor Middleton’s coat off of a hook near the door and stared at it for a moment.

“Sara...” he said, voice hesitating before he pressed onward. “You need to put this on.”

“What?” she asked, looking apprehensively at the lab coat.

“Doctor Middleton’s gone to an awful lot of trouble to look like you. It’s only fair you return the favor,” he replied and she hesitantly took the coat from his hands.

That’s your plan?” Greg asked acerbically. “A lab coat as a disguise? You don’t have like... an escape hatch or something?”

“This isn’t exactly the Chateau D’If,” he countered. “No one is going to question Doctor Middleton. Especially not with the alarms going. 

“Sara,” he said more urgently, turning toward her. “Put that on, walk purposefully and try not to talk to anyone and we’ll all be able to walk right out of this building.”

She looked sick at the very idea of wearing the lab coat, like enshrouding herself in the other woman’s clothing would somehow blur the lines between them. But she did it anyhow, jaw set and face too pale. All-in-all, it helped her impersonation, but Michael wasn’t about to tell her that.

“Good...” he said. “Good.”

“Stairs?” Jane asked.

Michael glanced at the watch on Sara’s wrist as it ticked over to 11:47. His heart pounded too loudly and he gulped heavily as he nodded.

“Better hurry,” he said and he heard Sucre swear softly in Spanish as he looked down at his own watch.

No one ordered for them to form a protective circle around Sara as they walked, but they did it anyhow. It probably helped achieve the effect they were going for. Doctor Middleton, Michael decided, was absolutely the kind of person to have her own emergency security detail.

The first time they rounded a corner and found themselves face-to-face with Company agents - seven of them - Michael tensed and watched out of the corner of his eye as Jane’s hand instinctively fell toward her gun.

For a long moment, Michael questioned himself. Even given Doctor Middleton’s best efforts to look like Sara, the differences between them jumped out at him first. She was cold and calculating and ruthless where Sara was warm and genuine and caring. The idea that the doctor ever thought he might confuse the two confounded him. But then, wasn’t he assuming the same of every guard between here and freedom? 

Two of the Company men looked to each other in silent communication - a lifted eyebrow here, a shrug of a shoulder there - before one of them turned to face Sara directly. It literally took everything he had not to grab her hand as she stood before their scrutiny.

“Why are you on this side of the building?” Sara asked, preempting them with a sharp tone and an impatient look. 

The impatience probably wasn’t faked. Michael glanced at Sara’s watch, the second hand seemingly hurrying by at double speed.

“The comms are down and Pederson said we should-” 

“Pederson was wrong,” Sara interrupted. “Secure the infirmary.”

The Company guards looked to each other with a little hesitancy and Michael could feel his pulse beating loudly in his throat as they collectively came to some kind of decision.

Now,” Sara ordered with a bit more instancy, eyes wide and hands on her hips.

“Yes, ma’am,” replied the one who’d initially answered her.

They didn’t wait for the guards to disappear around the corner, instead continuing their hurried trek to the stairwell. Michael waited until they’d hit the first steps before letting a long sigh of relief breeze through his lips.

“Nice job, doc,” Lincoln muttered from the other side of Sara.

“Remind me to write my high school drama teacher a thank you note after we get out of here,” Sara replied with a short laugh.

“You took drama?” Michael questioned with a little amusement.

“Yeah. Well... it ticked off my father,” she replied, lips quirking into a half-grin before pressing together as she tried to slide back into character.

“Do we know where Doctor Middleton actually is right now?” Michael wondered aloud, eyes fixing on the back of Jane’s ponytail as he spoke.

“No,” the blonde replied succinctly as her combat boots tromped onto the bottom landing.

“She disappeared off my surveillance cams about half an hour before you guys showed up,” Morris chimed in, pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his nose as he spoke. “She’s on the island, but that’s all I got.”

“That could prove... problematic,” Alex pointed out.

“No options,” Jane replied as she swung open the door to the outside. “And no time to worry about it.”

“True enough,” Alex muttered as they all flooded out the door onto the sand-covered ground, shimmering as it reflected the blinding security lights.

Reflexively, Michael took a big gulp of fresh air and shuddered at the feel of a light breeze rolling across his face. After years upon years in captivity, he couldn’t not savor the scant bit of freedom he’d just earned, no matter how dire their situation. If they got out of this - when they got out of this - he suspected he’d spend a great deal of time outdoors, revelling in the feel of the sun on his skin and the smell of pending rainfall. 

“This way,” Jane commanded, nodding her head toward the side and pulling his attention back to the here-and-now. 

Turning around the side of the building, Michael nearly knocked Sucre over as the other man stopped abruptly in the more dimly lit area. To his side, Lincoln groaned and ran his fingers over his smooth scalp as Sara entire frame drooped in a way that screamed of defeat.

“What?” Michael asked, “what’s the...”

“They found our scuba gear,” Jane responded as he followed her gaze to find Company agents  half-visible beneath the dock. “And we have four minutes left.”

“You have a boat?” Michael asked.

“Off-shore,” Jane confirmed.

“Swim for it?” Sara suggested.

“They’d shoot us out of the water,” Greg replied with a grim shake of his head.

“Better to risk that than get blown to hell,” Lincoln replied.

“That’s not a plan. That’s a Hail Mary to the end-zone,” Jane countered.

“Then what do we do?” Sara asked, a sense of urgency coloring her voice.

“What we have to,” Greg replied dully, something bleeding out of his voice as he spoke.

A fraction of a second later, Michael heard the soft click of a gun cocking and turned with surprise to find Greg training a pistol at his head.

“You son of a-” Jane started, taking a step toward Greg before halting as he pressed the weapon more firmly against Michael’s skull.

“You know as well as I do that we can’t let the Company recapture him,” Greg told her solemnly, a tinge of regret shading his voice. 

Sara’s gaze locked with his, terror and desperation flooding her eyes. But it was Linc’s voice that fully brought the weight of the situation into reality.

“I will end you, you son of a bitch,” Lincoln swore lowly, his voice seething as his fingers clenched into tightly formed fists at his side.

“We don’t have time for this,” Michael stated. “If we don’t get out of here in the next three and a  half minutes, that gun is redundant.”

“So what do we do?” Sara’s voice broke in, voice hurried and more desperate than he could remember since that awful shack in Panama. 

“Exactly what we’ve been doing,” Michael answered, ignoring the gun and looking Greg in the eye as he spoke. “Walk aboard that boat at the dock with Sara posing as Dr. Middleton. It’s our only chance.”

“If this fails...” Greg said, hesitance echoing in his voice. 

“If this fails we’re almost certainly all dead anyhow,” Michael reminded him. “But give me a gun and I’ll make sure that one way or the other, they won’t recapture me.’

“Michael!” Lincoln protested sharply, eyes widened in horror at the implications of Michael’s statement.

“I’m not spending the next few decades locked in a room decoding things for the enemy, Linc,” he said, avoiding looking at either his brother or Sara as he spoke. “Three minutes, Greg. What’s it gonna be?”

The other man paused a beat, then two, and it felt like forever even if it was probably scarcely more than a second. But ultimately, he flipped the gun around and handed it to Michael.

“Good,” Michael said briskly, tucking the weapon into his waistband as he gestured to Lincoln and Sucre to stand down. “Let’s go.”

The floodlights actually worked to their advantage, backlighting them and obscuring their features as the group hurried across the sand in a way that wasn’t quite a run but was certainly more than a walk. Company agents were seemingly everywhere - posted near doorways and perched on the rooftops and all over the dock. But none of them looked at their group twice and no one seemed to think anything of their hurried pace, given the circumstances.

“What do we do if there are people on the boat?” Sara’s voice asked in a hushed tone, her eyes flickering to the gun at his waist as she spoke.

Michael’s footsteps stuttered at her question. There wasn’t an escape plan here. He hadn’t researched this. There were no contingency plans branded to his skin. This was coping as they went and eeking out survival by the skin of their teeth. He didn’t have an answer for her. To be honest, he hadn’t even considered the question.

“We have guns,” Lincoln said, as if it was obvious, his glare fixed solidly on Greg as he spoke. ‘We use them.’’

“Occum’s razor?” Michael questioned, realizing that Lincoln’s simple solution might actually be the best in this case.

Lincoln shot him a sideways look that obviously questioned his sanity.

“No, Lincoln’s bullets. Who the fuck is Occum?” he asked bewilderedly.

“Nevermind,” Michael replied, fighting a smirk and Sara tried, mostly successfully, to hide a sharp burst of laughter.

They were cutting it close, he knew. Too close. But it still surprised him when - with one foot aboard the dock and one finally stepping onto the promised safe haven of the boat, a deafening series of booms sounded and his body pitched forward as the air surged against his back. People screamed in the not-so-far-off distance and it didn’t take a genius to realize that even trained assassins would panic and run for the only boat under these circumstances.

“Go, go, go,” Michael said with increasing urgency, pushing Sara onboard ahead of him, most everyone else following shortly after in her wake.

Jane and Greg lingered on the dock a second, surveying the damage to the facilities, looking far less satisfied than Michael would have expected given the carnage they’d wrought.

“It must have gotten wet on the swim over,” Greg said, looking at one small, freestanding building that hadn’t been taken down in the blasts. “Shorted out the timer, maybe.”

Jane just looked at him, regret painting her face, and Michael couldn’t quite suss out what was happening between the two before Greg spoke again.

“Well... it’s my mission,” he nodded, checking his clip before stepping down the dock away from the boat. 

“Godspeed,” Jane said solemnly and Greg just nodded before heading off toward the building.

“Jane, we don’t have time to wait around for-” Michael began.

“That’s the data hub for this entire branch of The Company,” Jane said as she and Michael finally stepped wholly aboard the boat, Jane not looking over her shoulder in Greg’s direction even once. “Greg will get the bomb to go off. He always gets the job done. But he’s going to have to do it manually. He won’t be able to escape the blast radius.”

Michael wasn’t sure what to think about that. Hell, he wasn’t sure how to feel about that given that the man in question had held a gun to his head not even five minutes prior but had paradoxically risked his life to save him. But as it turned out, he didn’t have the opportunity to respond anyhow because the crack of gunfire sounded suddenly, loud and far too close, rattling his feet and jarring his mind.

It took only a fraction of a second to realize that the gunfire was happening below deck.

“Sara? Linc!” Michael yelled, voice unsteady and vision hazy with panic and terror. 

He hurried below deck, gun drawn, with Jane close on his heels. Rationally, he knew there’d be blood, probably bodies, and maybe he’d lost someone he loved, someone he’d only just regained. He simultaneously tried to steel himself against those possibilities and shut them out of his head entirely. But nothing, nothing could have actually prepared him for the sight that greeted him below deck.

There were bodies splayed across the floor - messy and gruesome, but no one he knew - and a woman, tall and slender with auburn hair and cold eyes, stood with three guns trained on her.

Michael froze, eyes wide and throat sandpaper-dry, feeling like all the air had been sucked out of the room.

“Well,” Jane said from his side, a predatory grin slowly taking over her face. “Doctor Middleton. This is a surprise.”

Tags: fic, fmtm, my_fic, prison break

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