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Five Minutes to Midnight - Chapter Ten (Part One)

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
Chapter Nine

Author's Note: This is the last chapter of "Five Minutes to Midnight." Please keep in mind that this is my "season five," so its ending wraps up more like a tv season than a novel. I'm planning on writing the next story in this series - "Way Back to Daylight" - for NaNoWriMo, so you should expect me to begin posting that in December. I also want to take this opportunity to once again thank tuesdaeschild for her incredible and unwavering support. Also, I'd like to credit some music that's inspired a lot of parts of this series so far - Ron Pope's Daylight. This chapter, I listened a lot to his track "Headlights on the Highway" for Michael/Sara. "Seven English Girls" was pretty much on repeat throughout any scene with Kellerman. "A Drop in the Ocean" was played a ton when I wrote Sara's dream sequence in chapter two. And "Daylight" actually inspired what became a plot development back in the prequel. Some of his songs are painfully canon ("Shoot Out the Lights" and "Fireflies" especially). This fic is my longest finished story and it's meant a lot to me. I want to thank all of you who have stuck around to read it. Thanks! Now... enjoy!

Chapter Ten

Unexpectedly face-to-face with Doctor Middleton for the first time, something primal and angry rose up from the roots of Sara’s soul and the only thing that kept her from pulling the trigger of the gun she had trained on the other woman was Alex’s steadying hand on her elbow. She’d killed before, of course. Both times in self-defense. Or Michael-defense, but that amounted to the same thing. This would be vengence. This would be murder. And Alex, better than most, had to know what such an act might do to her.

The woman looked more like her stunt double than her doppelganger, but the resemblance was strong enough that Sara hated her. Hated her like she’d never hated anyone before. Hated her for what she tried to do and hated her on behalf of all the things done to Michael and her and Lincoln for years. She was a symbol, a personification of The Company and all of its wrongs. She was Gretchen Morgan with a hacksaw and Paul Kellerman with an iron and Christina Scofield with a pistol.

And she was standing unarmed three feet away.

“You’ll be very useful,” Jane’s voice pronounced, breaking through the haze of ire that had clouded Sara’s mind.

And there it was. The best reason there was not to put a bullet through the so-called Doctor’s skull. The Company was a cancer on their lives and on the world. And whatever information Dr. Middleton might have, whatever edge she might give them in evading or destroying the malignant organization, was worth more than the fleeting satisfaction that vengeance offered.

Decision still hardening in her mind, Sara’s hands tremored, grip tight on the firearm that remained trained on the other woman. There were so many people in the small room, but even with Jane speaking in the background and with Michael steps away, it was Sara that Dr. Middleton’s eyes stayed locked on, surveying, appraising, chillingly cold.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Jane reminded them. “Sucre, you know how to pilot this thing?”

“If it’s got an engine, I can drive it,” he grinned confidently.

“Good. Take Morris to watch your back and get us out of here,” Jane ordered before shifting her gaze in Sara’s direction. “Sara, Michael, Linc... take a walk.”

“Excuse me?” Sara asked disbelievingly.

“Alex and I can handle this better without you here,” Jane said bluntly. “Get above deck, keep your weapons on you and keep watch.”

“You’re taller than I thought,” Doctor Middleton said suddenly, as if Jane hadn’t just spoken.

Sara’s whole frame tensed and her brow knit as she stared at the other woman, a demure parody of a smile twisting Doctor Middleton’s lips.

“I should have worn higher heels,” she followed up.

“You son of a-” Sara started, feet stepping forward seemingly of their own accord.

Later, she’d be pretty sure that Doctor Middleton had been baiting her, trying to get her to shoot. And, in fact, she might have succeeded in just that had Alex not swiped the gun out of her hand and had Lincoln not grabbed her by the shoulders to keep her back.

“Above deck,” Jane reiterated sharply, “Now.”

“Come on,” Linc said, squeezing her shoulders lightly before turning her toward the door, one of his hands dropping to grab her gun from Alex’s extended hand, but the other one firmly guiding her.

As soon as she faced away from Doctor Middleton, it was Michael who filled her vision. She couldn’t even begin to hazard a guess at what he was feeling in this moment, didn’t know what he needed or how to be there for him through all of this. But she knew she wanted to. And, she knew that focusing on Doctor Middleton’s barbs meant she wasn’t focusing on helping Michael. Put that way, it was easier than she’d thought it would be to let her ire melt away, soften into insignificance.

Before her, Michael blinked a couple of times at Doctor Middleton and gulped visibly as his gaze flicked toward Sara. Even knowing him as well as she did, she couldn’t interpret the hardened look on his face, the blank stare. And, for not the first time, she worried at how close to the mark Jane had been in her comments about Michael’s probable mental state.

In some ways, the door closing behind her as the three of them made their way above deck felt symbolic. The sea air was crisper, lighter, and she wasn’t the only one breathing it in deeply, letting its cleansing nature wash over her.

Michael’s hands gripped the boat’s railing, white-knuckled against the metal, his long, lean frame hunched forward and his eyes shut in the face of a light sea breeze. Something in Sara’s chest clenched tightly at the sight as a small smile worked its way across his lips and she realized he wasn’t overwhelmed in this moment, he was enjoying it. And, God but that was a beautiful sight.

Lincoln thumped his brother against his back, firm and solid, like he was trying to convince himself that the younger man was actually there before leaning against the rail next to him. Sara understood the impulse. It all still felt more than a little unreal to her, too.

“You owe me twenty bucks,” Linc said after a moment, earning a subdued and somewhat confused glance from his brother.

“Miami Heat won in ‘06,” Linc clarified and Michael laughed sharply in response, the sound ringing in Sara’s ears.

“I’m just supposed to take your word on this?” Michael questioned.

“Would I lie to you?” Linc challenged.

“About a bet?” Michael laughed, an eyebrow raised in disbelief.

“Sara, back me up here,” Linc called over his shoulder in a somewhat transparent attempt to drag her into the conversation.

“Basketball’s not my sport,” she replied, content to give the brothers their space for now and wary of pushing Michael too far too fast.

“Eh,” Linc grumbled, waving a hand in her direction dismissively. “Not her sport... she’s a giant. She should play basketball.”

“A giant, huh? Just what every girl loves to hear,” Sara replied lightly, leaning back against the cabin door, arms crossed casually in front of her, one foot planted against the fiberglass.

“Yeah, I’m a people-pleaser. You didn’t know that about me?” Linc asked sarcastically before turning back to Michael. “So, twenty bucks, dude. Pay up.”

“Must have left my wallet in the other dead guard’s uniform,” Michael replied a minute later, patting down the pockets of his ill-fitting disguise.

“Welcher,” Linc accused.

It was light, easy conversation, but as it drifted along, the weight of everything unsaid still hung in the air, awaiting acknowledgement.

“What else have I missed?” Michael asked finally, eyes fixed on the horizon toward the quickly shrinking island prison.

There was no easy answer to that question. And he did deserve an answer. The truth was, he’d missed life. And neither she nor Linc seemed sure where to start in reply.

“Kellerman’s still a Congressman,” Linc began finally. “Still a jackass, too, but he actually... helped us a little. Getting us here.”

“As long as he isn’t expecting a thank you note,” Michael responded dryly. “What else?”

He’d turned around at the question, leaning back against the rail and facing away from the ocean and the fading island.

“Caroline Reynolds died about two years ago,” Sara offered up. “Car accident.”

“Sure it was,” Michael replied with a knowing air of disbelief.

“We believed it at the time,” Linc shrugged. “We didn’t know any better. Didn’t have any damn idea that the Company had survived.”

“Yeah,” Michael exhaled thinly. “They’re good at that. I’m just glad they mostly left you guys alone.”

“They executed the General,” Linc continued on.

“I know,” Michael said, glancing askance at his brother. “And I don’t care about Kellerman or President Reynolds or the General. I don’t care that the Heat won in ‘06. I want to know the important stuff. I want to know what I missed.”

His voice had grown steadily more emotional as he spoke and Sara shared a silent look with Linc that spoke volumes. Relaying world events to Michael was easy. This was not. Good memories they’d feel guilty about and bad ones he’d feel guilty about not having been there.

“Sara,” Michael said a little brokenly, eyes boring into her with a look that seemed almost desperate. “What’s his name?”

Her heart stuttered in her chest and her eyes stung suddenly. This man - this beautiful, dedicated, selfless man - had been denied even the name of his only child.

“Michael,” she replied a little grittily before realizing she might need to expand a little on that. “His name’s Michael. Mikey, most of the time.”

She could see the breath catch in his throat.

“You named him after me?” he questioned, even though the answer was obvious.

“Of course,” she replied. “Of course I did. I didn’t even consider anything else. God, Michael, you’re his father and you died saving us. Of course I did.”

“What’s... what’s he like?” Michael asked, eager and nervous all at once.

“He’s you,” Lincoln said suddenly, drawing Michael and Sara’s attention. “Well, you know, he’s shorter... for now. But he’s just... he’s you, man.”

“He’s sweet and he’s smart and he’s just full of questions about everything,” Sara elaborated. “He wants to know how everything works and why. Sometimes he comes off as shy, but really it’s just that he’s so focused on what he’s doing that he doesn’t want to acknowledge what’s going on around him. He’s just... he’s perfect.”

Michael blinked quickly and gazed skyward in such a way that Sara knew he was fighting back tears. Linc must have known too because he looked away, uneasy in the face of raw emotion. Michael pushed the heels of his palms against his eyes and sighed away the weight that had been resting on his shoulders.

“And he’s healthy?” Michael asked, eyes refocusing on Sara.

“His pediatrician says so,” she replied, wanting nothing more than to wrap her arms around him and hold him close, but wary of his reaction.

She wrapped her arms tighter around herself instead.

“But he has LLI,” Michael stated.

It definitely wasn’t a question.

“We don’t know that,” Linc said softly.

“Yes,” Sara contradicted. “We do. It might not be in his medical file but... he has it. I’m sorry, but you and I both know that’s true, Linc.”

“I still think you’re jumping the gun,” Linc replied.

“I know you do,” Sara responded. “But I know my son and I know the signs of LLI.”

“He’s... he’s smart though?” Michael asked. “He’s managing it okay?”

“He’s very smart,” Sara reassured him. “And he’s doing fine with it. I’ve been looking into techniques for helping him focus on certain details but, honestly, he’s pretty good at doing that already when he wants to. He’ll sit through an entire episode of Bob the Builder without paying attention to anything else. He’ll just also ask later why I stirred my tea three times in one direction and only twice in the other or tell me that four of his blue blocks have a chip in them but only one red one does.”

Michael nodded solidly, looking a little lost in thought, brow knit and tension working its way back into his shoulders.

“You being there will be a huge help,” Sara told him.

He looked up suddenly at that, hope and longing shining so obviously in his eyes. It almost hurt to look at. He’d had nothing - nothing - for so long, not even hope for a better future, that it must have felt impossible now to have so much of what he wanted within his grasp.

“You know more about dealing with it than I could ever hope to learn,” she continued, knowing it was both the absolute truth and exactly what he needed to hear. “And you’re his father. He needs you. He has needed you. He’s happy and he’s healthy but no amount of me and Linc and Sofia and LJ in his life has made up for not having you.”

He was hesitant to believe her. She could tell. His sense of self-worth had never been good but years of being treated as nothing more than a resource to be exploited had clearly made it worse.  

He smiled at her, but she got the sense that it was mostly just to make her happy. Her answering smile mirrored his, thin and a little sad. Linc, apparently, missed the unspoken exchange entirely.

“Yeah, someone’s gotta tell him how shit works and that isn’t gonna be me or Sara, man,” Linc grinned broadly.

“Why do you always assume that I know everything?” Michael asked, smile broadening a little as he looked toward Linc.

“Cause you usually do,” Linc laughed sharply.

Michael tilted his head a little in reply, a tacit agreement, but said nothing.

The background noise of the engine petered out and the boat slowed to a crawl as Sara spotted their yacht just a few dozen meters away.

“Well thank goodness we didn’t have any more problems because I think we are actually the worst lookouts in history,” Sara pronounced, realizing they’d paid little if any attention to their surroundings during their conversation.

“We blew ‘em all up,” Linc pointed out.

“Then why did Jane tell us to keep watch?” Sara questioned.

“Um, because she’s paranoid?” Linc replied with no small amount of snark in his voice.

“Not paranoid enough,” Michael muttered back in reply, obviously recalling her man’s attempt to kill him.

Sara looked away as she privately worried about what other orders Jane’s people might have. Mikey, after all, was in the care of one of them. How much did she really know about Natalie Stark? Virtually nothing, when it came down to it. She couldn’t voice this though. Not here. Not now. Michael had enough to process at the moment. He didn’t need to worry more about Mikey on top of everything. And besides, even though she might not know Natalie, she did know Felicia and Sofia and LJ. And she knew all three of them would die to save her son, if necessary.

She just wished that was enough to reassure her.

Moments later, Jane came out on deck and the group moved to their boat from the Company one. Sara barely caught a glimpse of Doctor Middleton as Alex escorted her into the smallest room of the yacht, her hands tied behind her back and a gun trained on her the whole time. Fleetingly, Sara wondered if Jane and Alex were guarding the woman so tightly to ensure she wouldn’t escape or to ensure that Sara and Linc wouldn’t kill her. A little of both, most likely, she decided.

As soon as they were clear of the Company boat, Jane detonated explosives she’d placed aboard it. It was less violent than Sara would have expected, Jane having placed the bombs strategically. The ocean’s surface rippled suddenly, a sizeable swell working its way outward from the smaller boat as it slowly capsized.

Jane was thorough, Sara had to give her that, but she had to wonder if the other woman’s penchant for tying up loose ends was a practice left over from her time in The Company.

Free from his piloting duties for the moment, Sucre barrelled toward Michael, enveloping him again in a giant hug. They fell into easy conversation, unabashed joy radiating off of Michael’s former cellmate as he spoke. There were no awkward silences to fill because, honestly, there was never any silence to fill with Fernando around. His jubilance was contagious and soon enough Michael’s smiles were full and genuine.  

It was beautiful to see and Sara was honestly glad for him to have this moment with his brother and his best friend. But she also wanted badly to have some time to talk with him alone. They were private people, always had been, and she was aching to really talk to him, find out how he was, how they stood. Still... she couldn’t get herself to interrupt this. Not when Michael was smiling like that and Lincoln’s laugh was so full and rich.

Curling up on a chair, Sara tucked her legs under herself and enjoyed the conversation. She chimed in occasionally and Michael’s eyes seemed to linger on her well after she spoke, but mostly she just listened as Sucre told stories about his little girl and Linc went on about the dive shop. After a while, she yawned hugely and felt her eyes drooping with exhaustion, the events of the day catching up with her.

“I think I’m gonna try to get some rest guys,” Sara announced suddenly, unfolding her legs from beneath her and stretching as she stood.

“Want some company?” Michael asked, a very good approximation of lightness shading his voice.

She had to fight to keep the smile on her face to a reasonable size.

“Sure,” she replied, her voice sounding a little hoarse even to her own ears.

Linc wagged his eyebrows suggestively at her and she smacked his shoulder - hard - as she passed by him with Michael close behind her and Fernando snickering nearby.

This wasn’t about that. Okay, well, maybe she was hoping it was a little about that. But, really, what she was hoping for right now was finding solid ground, figuring out where they stood and how to move forward. Whatever he needed, however he’d allow her to be a part of his life, she’d be there for him. She already knew that. What she didn’t know yet was where he stood after everything he’d been through in the last four years, how much Doctor Middleton’s attempts to get inside his head had really worked.

Chapter Ten - Part Two

Tags: fic, fmtm, my_fic, pb, prison break

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