Author: To be revealed
Category: Darkfic, Angst
Requested by: poisonshades
Summary: Takes place after “Greatness Achieved” during Season 4. The crew finalizes details on another mission to rescue Scylla, Sara remembers her time and torture in Panama at the hands of the Company and leans on Michael.
Author's Notes: Written for poisonshades. She wanted Michael/Sara, darkfic or angst, and requested three things: the line "Why are you doing this?", rain, and a gunshot.
She had always been drawn to water. Something about the constant rise and fall of waves made things a little more peaceful. She could sit and gaze out at the water for hours with no other person in sight and feel small pieces of herself knitting back together. At home, it had been Lake Michigan and the distant Chicago skyline. In Panama, she and Michael were going to escape into the Atlantic and spend their lives enjoying the water as their own refuge. But in LA, San Pedro’s industrial bay had to do.
When she had imagined LA, she had a comical picture of palm trees framed in orange sunsets and the foamy waves of Santa Monica pier. Instead they had wound up trapped in the warehouse district of San Pedro, surrounded by shipping yards and manufacturing plants. Not a palm tree in sight. Figured.
But still, the water was peaceful here and it made sense this would be the one spot she could sit and breathe alone. The concrete pier wasn’t as romantic as the wooden docks of Santa Monica, but they served the same purpose. She could sit here for hours, staring out over the murky water.
The crew had come back without Bellick. Mahone had killed a man just inches from where she sat now. Sara ground her palms into the cemented bench, feeling it rub her palms raw. When had she become so comfortable with death? She had seen it before but her nature was to prevent it. She had made it her livelihood. Now, she wondered if she could trace back the steps to where that had changed.
Sara could feel him watching her from the warehouse’s dusty windows. Michael worried about her. He worried he had destroyed her life. He worried he wouldn’t be able to put it back together. He would come out to her soon. But for now, he’d give her the space to think. It was one of the things she loved about him.
There had been water there too. Her mind went there involuntarily, but today she was too tired to fight it. Not the soft lapping kind like here or the rushing waves she had imagined building her life with Michael on. No, the water trapped in that metal shack had been the dank, still kind. Large puddles of it in every room leftover from jungle storms and faulty irrigation systems. Stagnant puddles that bred flies and left the room stinking of rot. She almost gagged to remember it. She had been thrown in them, her face shoved against the muddy floor and rancid water filling her nostrils until she choked it back up. Water hadn’t been a comfort in that place.
Sara hugged her knees to her chest and shook her head. She had expected to die there and sometimes, she still couldn’t believe she was alive. Sometimes, it was like she was still waiting for someone to jump out from behind and shove her under the water again.
Sara heard him shuffling towards her and turned her head on her knees to look at him. He had that look again, curiosity and guilt. She had told the abbreviated version of what had happened to her and wondered if she’d ever be able to tell him the whole truth. But talking about it made it so much more real and right now, keeping it in her head meant she could deal when she had the time.
“We’re leaving soon. An hour, maybe two, tops.” He sighed and stopped a few feet away. “They’re just wrapping a few things up.”
She nodded. Her mouth felt thick. She could still taste the coppery water from the floor of the metal shack coating her throat. Usually she was able to snap out of the memory and cling to Michael and what they were doing like a lifeline. But today, the memories wouldn’t let go.
Michael cleared his throat and she struggled to focus on him. He pulled a hand gun out of his waistband and reluctantly held it out to her.
“Look, I think you should take this. Just in case. You’re going to be on your own for a little while this time and I’d…..I’d just feel better if you had some protection.”
She took it slowly and weighed it in her palm. The metal felt foreign and warm in her hand. She looked up at him. “Is this really necessary?”
He was looking out over the water. “Let’s hope not. But I’d feel better knowing…”
“That I could take a few of them out with me if it gets messy?” She had tried to make it sound like a joke but he looked down at her sharply.
He moved closer and put a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t want you anywhere near this. I can’t…..I won’t lose you. This is ridiculous. I’m going back up there and we’re going to re-work this whole scenario.”
“No.” Sara caught his hand before he could turn away. “No. I’m going. I know what I need to do. We’re in this together.” She paused. “I’m just…..thinking.”
Michael pulled her hand into his and sat across from her, his legs stretching out over the concrete bench. “Yeah, how dare you have a moment of reality or remorse over what you’ve had to do the last few months? I should trade you in for a tougher model.”
“Fat chance, buddy. You’re stuck with me, sarcasm, drama, regrets and all.” She smiled and twisted so they were shoulder to shoulder.
“Do you know how to use it?” He nodded to the gun.
“Yeah. “ She checked the clip and put the safety on. The last gun she had held had been larger, heavier. It had an angled nose and when it had gone off, the sound had nearly made her deaf. Sara closed her eyes against the memory and lapsed into silence.
He nodded without question. She knew he could feel the change in her and suddenly she felt unfair. Unfair to keep him in the dark and unfair for always wanting to keep those memories silent. She felt like screaming at him, throwing the gun as far as it could go into the black water and running until her lungs fell out of her chest.
But instead, she sat there, stone silent, waiting for the words to come and dissolve the rage in her gut.
Michael’s hand reached over and calmly covered hers. He laid her palm flat against his so their fingers stretched out against each other. Something fractured in her throat and she gave a small sigh. He covered her fingers with his other hand. “Sara, are you...”
“The last time I shot a gun it was raining.” She spoke automatically. “It was a few weeks after they had taken me and LJ to the new location deep in the jungle. They moved us a lot. Did I tell you that?”
He shook his head slowly.
“Yeah, they moved us a lot. This time, it was close to Sona. I knew that because at night we could hear the inmates screaming and the guard used to say how we were lucky we were being held so courteously as opposed to what the demons at Sona were getting. And I knew you were in there and I would wonder if you had escaped yet.”
Sara turned to look him in the eye. “I knew you were alive. You had to be. Otherwise they would have killed me. So every day I was alive meant you were alive.”
Michael’s expression hadn’t changed but his fingers tightened around hers.
“It kept me going, you know?” The words started to come without pretense. “You were alive a few miles away, Lincoln’s son was in the next room, and every time they came into the room, I wondered if one of those things wasn’t true anymore. But they kept feeding me and the days kept going.”
There were bits she had to leave out even now. Like how the slick slices of fear that either Michael or LJ had been killed carved up her insides far worse than they had ever done to her flesh.
The gun on her lap began to feel like an anchor. With effort, she moved it on to the concrete beside her. Michael’s eyes followed her.
Her hand lingered on the handle. “There was a guard who liked to play games with me. He would fire a round in the room where they held LJ and watch my face from the doorway. The first time he did it, I screamed so hard I couldn’t speak for the next day. The next time he did it, I begged him to shoot me instead. He backhanded me so hard my chair collapsed and I hit the pavement. I could hear LJ screaming from the next room and I was so relieved he was alive, I didn’t even flinch when the guard beat me until I was unconscious.”
She was balanced between two places. The memory was battling with her need to stay in the present. The more she struggled against the pain of it, the more she was sucked under. She held on to Michael’s fingers without feeling them and finally gave up. She couldn’t feel the hard cement under her or the pressure of his stare. Somewhere she registered she was scaring him, but it now seemed pointless to worry. All she could feel was the pain, the sick gnawing of old fear and after that, nothing. Not even relief it was over.
She spoke again automatically and this time it was easy to let the words come. They didn’t even seem to belong to her anymore. “The guard would shoot a few rounds as if pretending to kill LJ was a game or practice. Like he was shooting a target to win a prize and maybe slaughtering another human in the process was part of it. Then he would grin at me, this sick demented grin, and I could hear LJ sobbing and I knew it was only a matter of time before he’d take aim and we’d be dead.”
“Gretchen came in one day. It had been raining and she was soaked and pissed about something. She started arguing with the guard. They were screaming at each other in Spanish, I think. I couldn’t really follow. It was hard to stay conscious for longer than a few hours then. But I remember, it was raining because it was pouring in this cracked window and the floors were covered in water. “
The numbness of that moment set in. All she could feel in the present was the suffering of that day. The unbearable muggy air, the way her body had lost all feeling after hours being strapped to the chair. The water had soaked into her canvas shoes and she hadn’t even noticed. “The guard, he came running in to the room where I was and I knew then, right then, I knew he was going to kill me. He didn’t like what she had told him and he was going to kill me.”
“He pulled me out of my chair and my arm got twisted in the ropes they were using to hold me. He yanked me out but he just ended up spraining my wrist. I cried out and he shoved me to the ground. But the chair, it got caught around his knee and he went down. He hit his head and landed next to me.”
She remembered it then. The gun was lying in between them and the guard wasn’t moving. It had landed there, pointing towards her, and suddenly felt like a sign.
“I picked it up and it had one bullet left. So I aimed at his head. I pulled back the hammer and aimed at his temple.” She caught herself.
Suddenly, the sunlight from the water was hurting her eyes. Michael’s hand was holding hers too tight. She looked at him and repeated. “I pulled back the hammer and aimed at his temple, Michael. I was going to kill him.”
“I would have done the same thing.” He murmured. She started at the sound of his voice and tried to let go of his hand, but he held on, holding her in place.
“When I pulled the trigger, the gun went off but something happened. I don’t know. Maybe my arm was too weak to hold it; maybe I was too dizzy to aim. I don’t know. I missed. The shot, it echoed so loud….” She covered her face with her hands and tried to swallow. But her mouth was too dry. She waited a beat and then looked up.
“Gretchen came running in and without saying anything, she took out a gun and shot him twice, once in the head, once in the chest. I dropped the gun and she tied me back to the chair. Two men later came and dragged him out of the room.” There had been blood in the water, swirling around her feet. Sara closed her eyes and struggled to shove the memory out. But there was nowhere else for it to go. It hung in the air between them and Sara couldn’t take it back. Couldn’t take back the horror of what she had just given him and couldn’t take back the anxiety he would never know what to do with it.
He was silent, looking out over the water. He didn’t reach for her hand again. Sara pulled back and let the space between them grow. The anxiety in her gut fluttered into regret and she violently wished she could go back to the numbness, to the feeling of nothing.
But then there were hands on her arms, forcing her to look at him. She jerked back against him but he wouldn’t let go. She couldn’t look him in the eye.
“Sara, I….” His finger dug into her arms. “Sara, I am so sorry…”
“Don’t!” She pulled away from him again and this time he released her. She shot up and out of his reach. “You don’t get to tell me you’re sorry. You don’t get to apologize to me for this.”
“But it’s because of me.” He stood up to look her in the eye, his face twisted in guilt and sorrow. “I did this to you.”
“No! You don’t get to take fault for this.” She hugged herself around the middle. It was all crashing in on her now. The weeks in the jungle, the scars on her back, the blood around her feet. “Making sure you were alive was the only resolve I had there and if you take that away from me…” She went down to her knees and gasped for air.
He was there, pulling her up. “Sara, listen to me. Please.”
“No.” She shook her head. “You can’t take the blame for this.”
He sounded angry now. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because I can’t blame you and live with myself, Michael.” She spoke to his shoulder before looking up to meet him in the eye. “If you take the guilt on this, then the blame has to fall on you and I can’t do that. You aren’t to blame. I know who is to blame and I know why I’m here, fighting next to you. They hold the fault and I am not going to stop until I know they have paid.”
The struggle went out of her and she suddenly felt lighter, empty. He held on to her arms loosely, afraid to pull her in. She took a deep breath and looked up to the skies. “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, Michael. I watched a man die today and I let it happen. And all I could think was about the life I wanted to take more than I have wanted anything. I saw what Mahone was going to do; I understood it so well. I didn’t even recognize myself. “
“Sara,” He waited until she looked at him. He kissed her softly, his hand tangled in her hair. She felt it, the part of herself that had been sleeping for so long slowly waking and taking hold. She responded and kissed him back. He leaned his forehead against hers.
“No more apologies, Michael.” She spoke evenly when they broke apart. “I don’t need them from you. I’ll find my way back. I just need to know you are in this with me.”
“We’re both here to fight them, Sara.” He stroked her neck, his thumb over her collarbone. “But when we’re done, I’m here for you and only you.”
She nodded but he tipped her chin.
“Sara, only you. You are the only thing I want.” He lifted his other hand to her jaw line. “I’m not going anywhere.”
The words sank in, like a clean flood washing away the bitter dregs of her grief. She nodded again and let him fold her into his body. They stood on the pier, her mind blank and at ease and for the moment, quietly content.