AN: So I binged series 5 last Monday, and then I had an urge to rewatch the whole thing... so I started a rewatch. And then I watched The Key. And that happened.
All rights for Prison Break are Fox's. I own nothing.
"What do you want from me, Michael?"
He took a breath, trying to reorganise his thoughts. The keys. That's the important thing. He needed to get the keys. But with Sara standing so close to him, her breath against his skin and the taste of her lips still lingering on his, he couldn't think. Not the way he needed to.
"Sara…" He looked down at her pocket. He could see her keychain. All he needed was to reach out and grab it. While she was still focused on him.
But he couldn't.
"I need you to do something for me," He finished eventually, his gaze meeting hers once again.
She pulled back slightly, instinctively. "What?" She breathed out.
He could feel his heart breaking at the thought of what he had to do. He had to. He needed to save Linc. Too much was at stake for him to back out. It was just a key. He had no choice but to steal it. That was the only way out.
But stealing that key would hurt her, and he couldn't bring himself to do it, no matter what the consequences were.
"Wait for me," He said quietly, finally giving in to his emotions. Gently stroking her hair back – how long he's waited to do that – he pressed his forehead to hers. "It won't always be like this. This room, this place." And I'll be back for you, he thought, looking at her, wishing he could tell her that. I'll be back, Sara.
She gently took his hand, moving it from where it rested against her neck to her lips. She pressed a kiss to it and then let go, pulling away entirely. "Until then, I can't," She said quietly, and even though he knew that would be her response, he could feel his heart breaking. It was torture, being so close to her and knowing she was just out of reach. "We can't." The door opened, and she took a breath, trying to regain control of herself. "Damn it. I can't. I gotta go."
With that, she was gone, and he was left staring after her, wishing – not for the first time in his life – that he could just shut his emotions out and do what needed to be done. And at the same time, he wanted nothing more but to hold her again, to kiss her and feel her kissing him back.
"Damn," He breathed out to himself, looking back down at the floor.
His eyes opened and he found himself staring up at the bottom of Sucre's bed.
He sat up in his bed, careful not to wake Sucre up. It had only happened that morning, but he'd already replayed that moment in his mind dozens of times. In his mind, he dared kissing her again. He dared trusting her. He dared telling her how much she'd meant to him, how deeply he'd fallen for her. He dared showing her his emotions.
But that was all in his mind. None of that really happened.
It seemed like such a simple idea when he made the plans. Sara Tancredi, daughter of Governor Tancredi, the prison doctor. His way out. All he needed was to gain access to her and the infirmary, and he'd be able to break Linc out. He needed to charm her into letting her guard down.
Even in his wildest dreams he didn't believe he'd fall in love with her.
Or that she would fall in love with him.
He groaned and picked up his pillow. Before he knew what he was doing, his first met the fabric, hard enough to force it out of his grasp. The pillow made it to the edge of the cell, and with another groan, he got up and picked it up. He dropped it back on his bed and then lay back down again, lying on his side staring at the wall. He hated himself.
"You want me to call him off?"
He looked up at Sara, hoping, almost begging her not to do it. She knew he'd gotten her keys, he knew that now. He could see the anger and sense of betrayal when she gave him that frozen look; he could see how much he'd hurt her and hated himself for it.
She looked back at him for a long moment before replying. "No," She said. He looked away, disappointment and desperation building up within. "Send him in."
He didn't dare looking at her as she moved away, bringing his insulin shot. He watched the maintenance guy opening the door and setting his toolbox by it, glancing at Sara every now and then. She didn't look at him; it seemed she wanted to meet his gaze just about as much as he wanted to meet hers. Except she felt betrayed, while he couldn't face the pain in her eyes. The pain he caused her.
"Is it okay if I…?" The guy asked, looking at Sara.
"Yeah." Her voice was frozen, and he knew that was for him. "We're about done here."
It barely registered in his mind as she gave him the shot. All he could think about was how he'd messed everything up. Panic and desperation welled up in his mind, threatening to take control over him. It couldn't end like that. He couldn't lose both her and Linc. What was he supposed to do now?
Noticing his behaviour and undoubtedly still thinking about what he'd done, Sara asked suddenly, "Something wrong?"
"No." He pushed back his thoughts and feelings. There will be time for this later. Right now, he needed to be back in control. He needed to look like nothing happened. And yet he couldn't bring himself to forget. Not that kiss. "Unless you want to talk about what happened this morning," He dared, hoping against hope she wouldn't hate him for stealing the keys.
"I think we have a pretty good idea." Her voice was still cold, and he could feel whatever hope he had in him crashing down. Of course she hated him for it. He betrayed her trust. He'd hurt her. "We're done here."
This time he knew it was a dream, even before he opened his eyes again. Above him, Sucre was still asleep, telling him it was still night. Everyone was still asleep.
As he sat up in his bed, his pain and desperation turned into anger. Deep, roaring rage. One that left him wanting nothing but to punch the wall, over and over again, until he could feel his blood coming out. He was never the violent one – that's always been Linc – but crashing his fist against the wall when he was in solitary was a better feeling than he'd ever thought it would be.
Glancing at his watch, he saw it was past midnight. The guards weren't due back for a while. He had some time to himself.
Anger turned into resolution, only to turn back to anger as he crawled out of his cell and through the hole. He made sure he was alone, far enough that he wouldn't be heard but close enough to be back quickly, and then took his shirt off. He quickly wrapped it around his fist and then punched the wall. Hard.
He didn't know how many times he did it. He punched the wall again and again, until he could hardly breathe, letting out his anger and frustration and despair. He needed to do one thing – just one thing – and he couldn't even do that. He couldn't even get his brother out of the prison his company designed. The only thing he managed to do was to hurt one of the few people he really cared for.
After a while, his anger faded away. Slowly, he walked backwards and leaned against the other wall. He slid down to the floor and then, pain suddenly filling him, wrapped his arms around his folded legs and let the tears out.
He hadn't cried like that in a long time, he knew that much. It was as though everything that's happened over the past several weeks just built up, and now the dam finally cracked under the pressure. Lincoln; the execution; the constant interferences and interruptions to his plans; Sara – everything came out as he cried, his body shaking and his face pressed to his knees.
He needed to find a way out of this mess.
When his tears finally stopped and even his sobs were gone, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He needed to find a way out of this, and he needed to make things right. He needed to do the right thing for Sara. He knew she was angry and hurt, but maybe if she knew how he felt, if she knew he wasn't faking it… maybe someday she'd be able to forgive him. Maybe someday they could start over.
Maybe if they do, he'll be able to live with the knowledge he'd hurt her.
He found his way back to the hole and to the cell. Sucre was still asleep, though he stirred lightly when he screwed the sink back to its place. Michael held his breath, but his cellmate just rolled over and fell back to sleep. Knowing he wouldn't be able to do the same – not without the memories haunting him – he sat down next to their little table, thinking.
If things – somehow, miraculously – go to plan, he'd be out of Fox River in a matter of days. But he couldn't leave like that, not while Sara was in pain because of him. He needed to let her know that he did fall for her. That the kiss they shared, that all these little moments in the infirmary, they were all real. That he only asked Nika to bring him Sara's keys because he couldn't do it himself, couldn't be the one to hurt her. That none of this was supposed to happen.
He tore a page from the notebook on the table, a sudden idea coming to his mind. He folded it quickly, following the familiar steps until a small origami crane sat on the table in front of him. Gently, he undid several of the folds, until he reached an inner area that couldn't be seen without undoing the crane, and picked up his pen.
He paused then, thinking. What could he write to her that wouldn't sound fake or silly or cheesy in any way? What could he write to her that wouldn't put Linc and the escape plans at risk? What could he write that wouldn't put her at risk?
He closed his eyes and took a few deep breathes, trying to focus on the words. He knew what he wanted to tell her – that he cared, that he's doing it to save Linc, that it was all real, that he hopes she'd be able to forgive him and perhaps even give him another chance. But what could he write to her? He wasn't even sure he could say any of it, let alone write shortly on a piece of paper.
In the end, as the prison around him began to slowly wake up, he settled for the only thing he could think about clearly enough to write.
I did what I had to do for Linc. But it was real. I promise you that.
After a moment's thought, he added underneath, I'm sorry.
He looked at it silently for a moment, then refolded the crane and snuck it into his pocket. He didn't know if he'd get the chance to give it to her – or leave it somewhere for her to find it – but he had to try. He had to. He couldn't just leave her like that. He couldn't just live with the fact he'd hurt her like that.
He cared for her too much to be able to.