Chapter 1, Anyone Else.
More than she's confused, more than she's wishing for direct, precise and careful answers with believable reasoning, Gretchen Morgan is starting to fear for her life. The fear that she's starting to feel, isn't the one where her nerves are on end, just waiting for the worst to happen. It's not the sort of fear that makes her feel jittery and paranoid either, no. This fear that is starting to rise up inside of her, is a fear that can only be described as an apprehensive mindset, that somehow has her wishing for a different alternative.
It's funny, she thinks to herself as she closes that door to the apartment that she just entered, it's funny how up until now, she didn't believe that there was any universe beyond working for The Company, and then doing years in jail, that would make her start to feel this kind of fear. After all, she's Gretchen Morgan. She's the one woman who's had all sorts of things done to her, endured all things, and coloured her life with all types of outcomes, the worst of which was never death, so why would she believe that this rising fear inside her, would be even minimally possible? Except, here she is, in rising fear.
Only for a second, she leans her back against the door that she just closed, to compose herself and reel herself back in. It's yet another funny thing, how only after leaving the hospital, after having seen what she saw, and hearing what she heard, does she come to experience fear here, back at the apartment. These fear instincts that are suddenly attacking her now, should've done so when she saw the very familiar face of Michael Scofield in the hospital room. But then again, when she thinks about it, having served in The Company, and then in prison, her mind and body have perfected the art of not panicking on the spot, where the enemy easily has an advantage in her panic. But still...
Right now isn't the time for her to be sprouting fear... What she really should be doing, is trying to get to the bottom of this, and then maybe this fear that is flirting with her, trying to reel her in completely, will disappear. And she knows just the person to call. Quickly, she pulls her phone from her grey jacket pocket, just as quickly dialling one of the only two numbers that she has saved in the phone. After the first two long rings, the phone is picked up, bringing the other end of the line to life, and consequently bringing her somewhat of a little relief.
'Alexander Clifford Mahone,' she verbally shakes into the phone without waiting for him to announce himself, 'what the hell in the world did you get me into?'
If she had the time and patience to greet him with pleasantries, she'd afford him the luxury, except, as it stands, she'd just like to do something about this fear that wants to take her over, and he's the primary available person who can start something about it.
'Gretchen,' Alex answers, sounding thoroughly bored, 'that's not my middle name, wherever you got it from.'
Seriously, she mentally scoffs, does she care about his middle name? She pulled that name out of a tasteless side of her brain, to give tremendous effect to the situation at hand. She doesn't care about his middle name, whatever it is or isn't.
'Whatever,' she dismisses carelessly as she steps away from the door. 'I just need to know what the hell did you get me into!'
For clarity, she's generally not one prone to panicking. Immediate panic, from her, no, not really. The years that she's served in The Company, have taught her to not panic, at least not visibly, because it easily clouds judgment. Heck, even prison taught her a thing or two about panicking, and yet, here she is…
'I didn't get you into anything, Gretchen,' Alex scoffs at her response. 'I received your papers, I brought them to the prison and that's it. I didn't get you into anything. None of that had anything to do with me.'
'Yeah, well say what you want,' she replies, 'but I seriously doubt that Michael Scofield is going to accept that.'
'Michael Scofield?' he asks, sounding lost, but still not interested enough to lose the bored air in his voice.
Right now, she could choose to be irritated with Alex for being as uninterested as he is, but on top of fearing for whatever the hell kind of mess she was brought into, she doesn't want to deal with irritation for Alex either. Fresh out of prison, she only has patience for one thing at a time at this stage. She doesn't want to be overwhelmed by feelings when she's out in the free open, because she might just do something spontaneous, that she'll regret.
'Yes,' she stresses, with closing eyes, 'that Michael.'
'Isn't he dead?' Alex wonders, apparently starting to gain interest in the matter now.
Unfortunately, as much as she wanted him to be interested in hearing her out, and explaining this to her, she finds that his sudden interest, is not a good thing to consider. Actually, she feels like it's the beginning of something deeper. Also, his lack of knowledge on the fact that Michael Scofield is alive, isn't comforting to her. If Alex really doesn't know about Michael, then it means that he really doesn't know anymore than she does. What a waste of time it was to call him!
'Catch up, Alex,' she spits, allowing only a little of impatience to slip into her tone, 'he's not dead. It shouldn't surprise you.'
Fine, she thinks, he can claim to not know about Michael being alive, but it shouldn't surprise him that Michael's alive. She knows that it didn't surprise her that Michael is alive after being thought of as dead. Her mindset at seeing him had been; with Scofield, anything is possible.
She hears Alex take in a measured breath on the other end, right before he asks, 'How isn't he dead?'
'Not important!' she quickly dismisses. 'What's important, is that he's currently in a hospital, at his wife's beside, and he apparently hasn't moved from there in seven days.'
And thus, her rising fear.
When Penny sent her to the with a large bouquet of flowers to deliver to a patient in the hospital, she didn't think that she would find Michael Scofield, sitting in the very room that she was directed to, apparently waiting for his wife to wake up. The fact that she did, had her leaving the bouquet at reception and hurrying back home, only to be assaulted by fear once she closed the door behind her.
'Please tell me you're not talking about Sara, Gretchen,' Alex plainly says, as though to communicate that she shouldn't miss a syllable of what he said.
'Of course,' she involuntarily bursts out. 'I think that idiot woman shot Sara!'
She has no proof at this point, after all, Penny only gave her limited information, but she's pretty sure that Penny had a hand in shooting Sara. It may not have been Penny who pulled the trigger, but the difference will be the same, because the outcome remains the same anyway; that Sara was shot, and has since been unconscious.
'Oh…' Alex sounds out his surprise. 'Oh…' he sounds out his disbelief, and then, 'Oho-ho-ho…'
Now, he just sounds more than interested in what she has to say. If she's interpreting it correctly, he sounds like he's imagining the worst for the idiot woman who decided that it was a good idea to shoot Sara, while also sounding like he's giving a very clear warning to the wrong person.
'She didn't,' he challenges with a nervous laugh in his voice, probably for proper confirmation that Sara was shot.
He's not helping her fear at all, she realises. His somewhat subtle warnings, aren't helping her fear at all. If this was something that she thought she could handle on her own, she wouldn't have called him in the first place, he has to know that.
'I've had too much experience with Scofield to be making this up.'
And hence, her rising fear. She just came from prison for the love of something, she doesn't want to get back into the cycle of feeling locked up. One thing is for sure if Michael decides to make a move, and that is how her life would've been much easier in prison. Like she thought before, her fear isn't the ordinary kind of paralysing fear, it's the kind only inspired by knowledge of what Michael is capable of doing in vengeance for the people that he loves, more specifically Sara.
'Sara better not die,' Alex warns her seriously.
Irritated as much as she is feeling falsely accused, she cries, 'You're telling me, genius! I'm the one who was brought into this blindly. I had nothing to do with it, but do you think Michael's going to let me go? I'm automatically guilty by association.'
'Then get out,' Alex calmly advises. 'Expose her before he finds her.'
That's his big idea? Pfft!
'Expose the woman who magically forged my exoneration papers?' she starts, taking on a sarcastic tone to complete the rest of what she has to say. 'Yeah, sure, Alex, why don't I just donate my heart to you while I'm at it, because that's not a deadly idea either!'
From his end, she hears a small click of the tongue, followed by, 'Then don't call me again. I'm offering you a solution, not trying to destroy you.'
'Ha,' she mocks, 'offer yourself a solution, Alex, because guess what, you're guilty by association too. Think, Alex, this is Sara we're talking about. The woman probably doesn't even know it, but we all know that she's that untouchable nuclear weapon, that causes more than ripples for effects in your life. You should know that. You know as well as I do, that from the officer who opened the cell door for my release, to the very idiot who shot Sara, he's going to come for all of us.'
And that, that is the very reason that she feels this way, damn it!
'Oh,' someone behind her drawls, 'you exaggerate.'
It's not Alex, that she knows, because her phone is still pressed to her ear, and no response came from the other end. That voice, only belongs to one person, and that person, is most likely Sara's shooter. Directly or indirectly, Sara's shooter just entered into their shared apartment, without Gretchen paying enough attention to hear the door open and close.
'Alex,' she says into the phone as she turns around to face Sara's shooter, 'I'll call you back,' and then she cuts the call off.
'You,' Gretchen lets out coldly.
The other woman firstly smiles warmly at her, as if there's nothing wrong in the world, and then only softly says, 'Gretch.'
'You're stupid, Penny,' she spits at the woman.
Okay, she'll admit, that like Penny just announced, she's exaggerating it a little more than she should, but who knows, maybe after seven years, Michael really has gotten to that point in his life, where he'll do something like that. For all she knows, he's gotten to a point where he keeps Sara in his pocket, for the fear that someone will take her away from him, and thus easily pushed passed his limits if he was ever tested. It could be both, she might be reaching with her exaggeration, or she could be onto something. The one thing that she does know, is that Sara is the last person who can be shot in Michael's circle of people.
'I'm stupid how?' Penny asks her.
For a moment before she answers, Gretchen can only look at the woman before her and wonder... Here's this woman, a beautiful black woman with velvety-deeply rich brown of her skin tone, neatly styled dreadlocks, and what seems like a sane head on her shoulders, and yet... She doesn't seem like the stupid type, the reckless type, the careless type and yet...
'What the hell were you thinking shooting Sara?' she screams at Penny. 'That's how stupid you are.'
While it's true that this Penny woman faked her exoneration papers, and offered her a place to stay, one thing needs to be clear between them; that is, that she, Gretchen Morgan, is not afraid of her. Even if Penny was a giant man, black or white, bulky and influential, she still wouldn't be afraid of Penny. What she fears, is Michael, because he has the mental vindictiveness, to mess up her life colossally. Fresh out of prison, that's the last thing that she needs.
'Gretch, look,' Penny starts, 'I told you when I brought you here, that there's a guy who's won all of his fights in his life, and I simply want to play with him.'
Yeah, no, Penny told her that part, and she accepted that, but she hadn't given any names at the time. Had she known that Penny meant to give her a part in her so-called game with none other than Michael Scofield, she wouldn't have accepted the proposal. She suddenly feels infuriated, and because she does, she moves quickly to forcefully shove Penny against the door, pinning her there with her body. What's more infuriating, is how nonchalant she's being about this.
'You play, by throwing yo-yos at him!' she aggressively says. 'You play, by sending him puzzles! You don't freaking play by shooting his wife in the back!'
Just the simple thought of the ramifications of that stupid act, are enough to drive her insane with fear, if she allows it. How could one person be so stupid. Just how is it possible?
As though it means nothing to Penny to be in this position, and much still be talked to like that, she gently pushes Gretchen away from. Clearly, Gretchen thinks to herself as she moves away, Penny doesn't understanding the urgency here.
'You're worried for nothing,' Penny simply says. 'A lot of men lose their wives, it's human nature. They live afterwards, and anyway, listen, I'm busy working on Theodore Bagwell's papers too, so don't worry.'
Freaking T-Bag? She's got to be kidding! She can't seriously be betting her safety on that guy. And what's with that nonsense of other men losing wives all the time and still living? Obviously, this woman has never met the special case that Michael is.
'You think he'll keep Michael off your back?' Gretchen honestly wants to know.
Again, Penny doesn't seem to realise just what this all means, because she gently sighs to say, 'Gretch, the whole point of my game, is to prove to myself that Michael Scofield, is not all that. I don't want to rule the world. I don't want him to help me smuggle in tons of illegal goods. Neither do I want to infest the world with criminals. I simply want to prove to myself that Michael isn't all that, and I just happen to need a team for that. And who better than people who aren't exactly Michael's fans?'
'You're stupid,' Gretchen snaps as a response.
She's tempted to shove the woman against the door again, but she doesn't feel like it's worth it. If this woman isn't going to acknowledge her stupidity and accept that she is the biggest of fools, she's not going to waste her breath. Or energy for that matter.
'I'm bored,' Penny says, somewhat heartily, 'that's what.'
Gretchen wonders, since when is there a separation between boredom and stupidity?
'You'll have it far worse once he finds you,' she tells Penny. 'Because you shot Sara, he'll come looking for you anyway. But you better hope and pray that she's not pregnant or ends up paralysed, because then, honey…'
'Relax, Gretch,' Penny rolls her eyes, 'I shot Sara in an open crowd, behind several people, in a place with no cameras. I even stood and waited for him to look around and see where the shot had come from, but all he did was catch her fall, and say something to her. Even as he called for an ambulance, his eyes were only on her. Plus, I've been told that he hasn't left the hospital since he got there. It's only the doctor who felt pity for him, and brought him a change of clothes from the bloody mess his are. There's no way he'll find me.'
Stunned at the confession and sheer stupidity at thinking that Michael will let that limit him, Gretchen smiles condescendingly. The fool! It's worryingly sad how she believes her own words, when she just admitted to freaking shooting Sara. Penny's a stupid fool, who's going to drag her down a path that she doesn't want to be on. Maybe Alex was onto something, she should expose Penny to Michael; after all, her allegiance is to herself, not this Penny woman, even though she's responsible for her release.
'He will find you, trust me, honey,' Gretchen starts to assure her, 'and when he does-'
'That's if he does,' Penny interrupts her, 'which he won't, because he has no clue to go by.'
That's her security blanket, that he has no clue to go by? The fool.
'He will find you,' Gretchen says again, ignoring Penny's confidence, 'and trust me, honey, and when he does, he will make you combust.'
Actually, if Penny were to literally combust, that would be a better ending for her, compared to the mess Michael could land her in, that will forever scar her life. They are talking about a man who took down The Company here, an organisation with countless operatives all over the world. What's to stop him from taking on a singular woman with no team?
'He won't find me,' Penny calmly assures her, 'not until I want him to find me. And that's when you and this T-Bag come in. It'll be a fun game of Tag, because he'll be it all the time.'
That's it! This is where she'll draw the line. She has got to get herself separated from this Penny woman. What's surprising, is that Penny is a perfectly sane woman, but she apparently just doesn't have common sense. If she's researched Michael, she should've found out that common sense when dealing with Michael, equals to leaving Sara the hell alone.
'You're messing with the wrong guy, Penny, honey,' she warns the other woman while there is still time to back off, 'and just so you know, I'm not getting involved in this. I'd rather go back to prison again.'
Being out of prison, she has plans to start over in a way. She really, really doesn't want to fall back in the line of doing things that could get arrested and sentenced again. She's not claiming to be a girl scout or anything like that, but the bottom line is that she would rather not find herself in prison again.
'Don't be silly, Gretch,' Penny laughs off her prison comment, 'after faking your papers, getting you back into prison will be suspicious. If you don't want to be a part of this, fine. Go.'
Both of Gretchen's eyebrows raise at that. 'Just like that?'
'I obviously have to write you a new part in my play,' Penny sighs theatrically like she's really not looking forward to this, 'but yeah, you can leave.'
'I will,' Gretchen answers clearly.
'Just don't come back, please.'
Oh, she wouldn't dream of it. She loves the idea of being free too much, to stay in a state of Michael Scofield-fear. That life is no longer for her, but before she leaves for good, she'll offer Penny one last piece of advice.
'Just know,' she whispers carefully, 'that your little play, whatever game this is, it's going to end badly for you. Remember those words.'
'I'm the author here,' Penny waves her hand to disregard the warning. 'I write the scripts, and I create the games. Now get out.'
Chapter 2, Bringing Me Down.