She couldn't pinpoint how long it had been since she had laid eyes on him. After that day they had agreed to go their separate ways. She had gone back to college and completed her PhD, finally becoming a lecturer like she had always wanted. She assumed that he had gone back to the bureau, sensing that he always thought that he had the potential to climb high.
It wasn't until she saw him on the news did it bring it all back. Looking to the screen of her laptop, she placed her pen down from the essays she had been marking. Her eyes narrowed into thin slits and she stared as he addressed the press. Leaning back in her chair, she closed her eyes and pictured what they had done.
Opening her eyes abruptly, she took a deep breath and moved to rest her elbows on her desk, burying her head into her hands. She let her breathing calm down before she dared to move, her hand going to the track pad of the laptop, as she looked deeper into the news story. She knew it had been about the missing convicts from Fox River. She had seen that much.
She continued her searching before she found a location and she knew what she had to do. They might have made a pact that day, but there was only him she could talk to. There was only him who might understand what she was going through.
Sitting in the corner of the busy open planned office located in Chicago, she looked around. Everywhere she turned there were agents running around, agents sitting at their desks and tapping away furiously at computers. She had peered into the corner; the sight of the convicts faces on a board enough to make her shudder with worry for a brief moment. She knew the chance of crossing paths with them was unlikely. She had no doubt that they would be miles away by now, doing all they could to hide and lay low.
An Agent Lang had admitted her into the room after she had told her that she had urgent business. No doubt the Agent had just assumed it was related to the Fox River 8. She had told her to sit tight until her boss returned. The woman had been harsh and determined, her voice suggesting that she should not challenge her. She had been happy to do that, but now she was on tenterhooks.
Leaning over herself, her hands found her hair and pushed her fingers through it, feeling herself shaking as she completed the motion. Closing her eyes, she imagined what he would say when he saw her. Would he recognise her? It had been a while since they had laid eyes on each other. It had to have been a year. Had he completely forgotten about what they had done? Would he tell her to leave without a second thought?
She knew that she would soon have her answer. Looking up at the sound of his snapping voice, she saw him enter the office, agents flocking around him to update him on the latest information. It gave her a moment to take in his features, seeing how he had changed. She couldn't deny that he looked a little gaunter, his cheeks hollow. His eyes were still that piercing blue colour. Those eyes that had stared at her until she had agreed that he knew best. He was dressed in an impeccably smart black suit, his hands creasing it slightly as they rested on his hips.
He dismissed each agent one by one until he came to Lang. Listening to her, he bent down to put his ear closer to her mouth. She made gestures with her hands, waving manically before he frowned and his eyes finally settled on her as they turned to the row of seats. She stood up instinctively, her bag falling down from her shoulder to the crook of her arm as she held her jacket over her arm.
She didn't know what he was thinking as he sniffed once, his hand moving under his nose before he marched over to her, his eyes on the floor and she knew that she had made a mistake. She should have stayed away. But it was too late to back out now. She remained stood where she was, her head held high as he stood before her, still not looking her in the eye.
"What are you doing here?" his voice was terse and she tried to hold herself high.
"I need…I…" she stammered, not entirely sure how to answer him.
Finally he looked her in the eye and she did her best not to crumble and flee. She needed to discuss this with him. He sighed and shook his head, clearly agitated as he held an arm out, motioning for her to walk forwards. She moved, him only one step behind her as she came to the end of the row of desks and saw a door with his name on it. He moved in front of her there, pushing the door open wide and letting her in first.
She stepped into the small space as he shut the door and observed the office for a final time, knowing that they were watching him.
"You shouldn't be here," he was back to his terse tone as he sat himself down at his desk, his hands resting on the desk as she sat in the chair opposite him, dropping her bag on the floor. "We agreed not to have contact-"
"-I know what we agreed," she interrupted him. "But it's…what we did-"
"-Do you regret it?" he demanded from her and she shook her head in an instant.
"Never," she said. "After what he did, he deserved it. I have no regrets about that, but we hid it. We covered it up and that…I live every day worrying that someone will find out and that will be it. We should have come clean the day it happened. They would have believed us."
"How?" he demanded from her. "I was tasked with capturing him and I killed him when I had other options…just…everything he had done."
"I know," she whispered, letting her eyes fall to the ground.
"I promised you that no one would find him," he said, this time his tone was slightly softer.
"That doesn't help me sleep," she responded. "I promised you I would never tell anyone-"
"-His blood is better on my hands than on yours," he muttered before she could finish, his head shaking back and forth as he moved to run his hands through his short hair, causing it to stick out at weird angles before he let his eyes meet hers. "I would have done it regardless of you finding him first. He deserved his death."
"I know," she promised him. "But how can you not be worried that someone will find out?"
He chuckled then, a different reaction to the one she had been expecting from him as he leant back in his chair and his eyes rolled to the ceiling. She had no idea and it was best for it to stay that way. He would send her on her way back to the college she taught at. He would tell her there was nothing to worry about. He would make sure she never had to think about this again.
"I have it covered," he said, his voice low and slightly shaky. "You don't need to worry about him. He's dead and buried."
"Christ," she whispered, bending down once more as a feeling of nausea swept over her and he watched her for a moment before standing up, moving around his desk to let the back of his legs rest against it as he stood before her. "He murdered Theresa. The things he did to my sister…"
Gulping, he tried to push the images of that case to the side as he listened to her.
"I should have no guilt at what we did," she continued. "I did it for her…I would have done it for her…"
"That's the problem with guilt," he informed her. "It has a funny way of raising its head."
"Do you not feel anything?" she whispered, tossing her hair behind her shoulders as she sat up and looked to him. "Is it only me who feels like this?"
"No," he answered honestly. "But I won't let him get in the way of my life. I can't let him. Neither can you, Clara."
"But he does," she responded, looking up at him. "I can't help but think that this feeling would go away if we just told the truth…if we just-"
"-Are you crazy?" he demanded from her. "Do you know how long we could face in jail if we told them we covered up a murder, despite the fact the man we murdered was a killer and a rapist?"
She went quiet and he saw her purse her lips together as he shook his head back and forth. Folding his arms over his chest, he let her move to her feet, seemingly shaky as she placed her mac back onto her body, pulling her long black hair from out underneath the collar.
"He's not worth jail time," he promised her. "Just think of Theresa. Think of what he did to her."
"I do," she responded, her voice harsh and short as she looked him dead in the eye. "She is all I think of, every single day. I…my little sister…"
He could see her eyes begin to water and he moved his hand into his suit jacket pocket, pulling out a handkerchief and handing it to her. She took hold of it, balling it into her fist as she dabbed her eyes and he dared to move a hand to her coat clad arm, his hand resting there gently.
"Shales got what was coming to him," he promised her. "And if anyone ever discovers him then it will be my problem."
"But I was there. I should look over my shoulder just like you do."
Shaking his head, he dropped his hand from her arm. "Clara, there would be no point in both of us suffering for his death, if it comes to it. I doubt it will…but we can never be too sure."
Clara took a sharp breath and looked to the handkerchief. "Who carries handkerchiefs round anymore?" she wondered, changing the topic for a breath moment as a small smile took over his face.
"Just call me old fashioned," he said. "And keep it. I have plenty more."
"Thanks," she mumbled, sensing that they were coming to an end of the conversation as she stuffed the cotton material into her pocket. "Anyway, I should go…I…I don't know why I came here after we agreed not to meet ever again. I just saw you on the news and I…well…it hit me harder than before."
"Don't worry about it," he shrugged. "I doubt anyone would recognise you and if they do then I'll make up a story."
"Thanks," she said again. "I'm sorry…again…I guess you have bigger things to worry about than my concerns."
He didn't want to snap at her and tell her that he did. He didn't have it in him to do that. He still remembered the day he had first seen Clara. She had come into the bureau's office, sobbing uncontrollably before flying into a fit of rage. Since then he had kept tabs of her until that fateful night.
"Just try to forget him, Clara," he spoke again.
She scoffed. "Easier said than done."
Walking to the door, he pulled it open, watching as Clara moved towards it. She looked slimmer than the previous time he had seen her, no doubt due to a sudden lack of appetite that he knew all too well. Her hair was longer down her back, more messy as it hung limply. Her face was pale, her green eyes obscured with thanks to the bags under her eye.
He let her exit first and she walked between the desks once more. He led her out of the building, down the steps and into the open car park. She pulled her car keys from her bag, unlocking a small, silver car.
"Just promise me that you won't let this ruin your life," he demanded from her. "What we went through…look…I know we won't forget it, but we can't let it define us."
"I know," she sighed. "And I'll try not to let it. Look, I'm sorry for wasting your time, Alex. I know you have bigger things to deal with."
"Yeah," he chuckled. "I take it you've heard about the escaped convicts then?"
That caused a laugh from her and she threw her head back slightly and nodded, clearing her throat. "Yeah," she said. "I think everyone who owns a TV set has heard of that. You coping okay with them?"
"I've just gotten started, but I don't think it will be long before I have them all rounded up," he assured her and she nodded her head slowly. "Anyway, that's my problem, not yours."
"I guess so," she said. "I should let you get back to it, anyway."
It was as she reached to open the door of the car did he notice. He looked to her finger and he couldn't help himself from speaking out loud, unsure of what he was doing as he watched her lift her hand up to pull her bag from her shoulder and then toss it onto the floor behind the driver's seat.
"You're not wearing your engagement ring."
Clara startled for a moment before feeling the need to hide her hand behind her back as she shrugged and bit down on her lip. "Tom broke it off," she whispered as Alex nodded and she shrugged. "He thought that I had changed…I guess these things happen for a reason. Anyway, he moved away to Florida and I stayed in Chicago."
"I'm sorry," he said, and he genuinely was. He knew how it felt to lose those who you held close. He didn't mention her name because he couldn't.
Clara didn't know what to say. All she could do was nod once at him and then climb into her car. Alex stepped back then, watching as she closed the door to her car and he saw her fasten her belt over her body before slipping the key into the ignition. Moving a hand to his cheek, his fingers ran down his cheek to hold his chin as he shook his head.
Watching her go, he heard his phone begin to ring in his pocket. Pulling it out, he pressed it to his ear as he noted Clara move a hand to rub her eyes and he suspected she had started crying once more.
"Mahone," he answered.
"You didn't tell us you had a partner in crime."
Mahone turned on the spot, looking around for any sign of the person on the other end of the phone. His grip on the device increased, his teeth grinding together.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he denied.
"We bugged your office, Alex," the voice on the other end spoke. "Did you think we wouldn't keep tabs on you?"
"You bastards," Alex snarled. "What gives you a right-"
"-You work for us, Alex," the man reminded him, his voice harsh and threatening. "We can do as we please. Now, is Clara Reynolds going to be an issue? You see, we're offering to protect your secret…not hers."
"She has nothing to do with this," Alex declared. "Just leave her alone. You have me doing your dirty work. You don't need her. She offers no value…just some scared lecturer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The call ended quickly and Alex peered down to the blank screen before shaking his head and pocketing his phone in exchange for his pen. Pulling out the little pill, he swallowed it whole and tossed his head back, wondering when this nightmare would end.
A/N: Do let me know what you think. My first ever Prison Break story but Mahone has to be one of the best characters!