Michael began the catalog again. Organizing the list of his parts that were bleeding, bruised or broken kept his mind off the pain--only every so often there'd be a searing pain here or a shooting pain there, and he'd lose track.

At least at it was dark in SHU. Sure, it was damp and reeked of sweet and blood and piss, but at least it was dark. He could imagine he was dead, or at least hibernating.

Knots three places on his skull. At least one of them was an open wound.

Black eyes, two.

Broken nose. He kept reopening that wound and blood would pool in the back of his throat. He imagined he could taste the iron in the blood. He found it perversely pleasurable. The taste of defeat?

All of his ribs felt broken. So did most of his internal organs. In brief moments of self-pity he imagined his lungs were punctured.

His balls screamed constantly. The guards had gotten in plenty of kicks to the groin, just to make the point.

Everything had gone to hell in Virginia, thanks to T-Bag. Teddy'd gone prowling, Michael tracked him down and was in the process of pulling him off an underage hooker when Winchester P.D.'s Vice Squad had nailed them both. The only good news was T-Bag decided to get all shooty with the cops, and the cops won. The girl had spoken up in Mike's defense at first, but then they got to her.

It didn't matter. Linc was good and gone, thank god. He might die someday, but at least it was not going to be at the hands of the State of Illinois.

And Michael was back at Fox River. The criminal justice system thought it would be entertaining to hand him back to the guards and warden he'd humiliated with the prison break.

He wasn't sure how long he'd been in SHU. They'd given him food once, but he was pretty sure he'd been rotting in here for more than a day. It felt more like three or four. But it was hard to tell, what with the permanent darkness screwing up his sleep patterns and the constant blacking out from the pain.

The quiet was good though. No one buggin' him, nothing to do but pray that Linc stayed in the shadows until Veronica could unravel the mess that was his case and the conspiracy to convict him.

Broken feet. Toes, at least.

"Scofield!"

The door creaked open. It was steel, half-rusted, and the screeching hinges always heralded the arrival of more angry guards.

He cringed against the light and rolled onto his side, away from the door.

"Turn these lights on, immediately."

Sara?

"It's solitary, Doc. It's supposed to be dark and cold."

"Turn. On. The. Lights."

Noooo. No light. It'd hurt too much, his eyes couldn't take it. And he didn't want her to see him like this.

He'd been dreading this. And dreaming of it. He half-thought she'd start off by smacking him across the face. He deserved that and more for lying to her. She probably thought he'd used her completely and guiltlessly.

"Michael."

He heard her footsteps.

"He shouldn't give you much trouble, doc, but just holler if you need us to hold him down for you." The goon assigned to guard him chuckled, long and low. And then the door clanged shut.

Good idea, morons. Locking the beautiful doctor in with the con--oh, yeah, wait, he was so fucked up he could barely move. They were probably pretty sure she'd be able to take him.

"Michael." She touched his arm.

"The light," he croaked. His throat screamed from the strain. He hadn't spoken in days, he couldn't remember when he'd last been able to lift the water pitcher standing in the corner of the hole.

"Michael, you have to turn over. I need to examine you."

He pushed his face closer to the concrete.

"Please, Michael. For me."

For you?

He groaned as he rolled onto his back.

She gasped.

"Oh my god. Who did this to you?"

"You can't--please--don't..."

"Don't make this an issue, or they'll beat you even worse next time? Maybe kill you?"

"Something like that."

He couldn't really see her. His eyes were too swollen, and the light was too bright. There was only the mandala of light around her hair. He tried to smile, to reassure her, but his lips were scabbed over, cracked--

"Michael. Hush."

She leaned over him, feeling his wounds, assessing the damage.

"I have to get you out of here. You need a hospital. The guards are saying this was a car accident that happened when you were being transported. No doctor will believe that for a second, but I'll back the lie--I'll back all the lies. But you need to let me take you to a real hospital. I can't do enough here."

He couldn't say anything. Now his heart hurt. That's what he'd done to her--made her part of his lies.

"I'll heal. Go away."

"Michael, please."

He heard her choke back a sob, and then another. Suddenly she bent forward, her face in her hands. He felt one of her tears drop onto his elbow.

He wondered briefly if she were manipulating him for a change. If she was, he deserved it all and more.

"Dr. Tancredi. I'm fine."

"Please, Michael. I need you to let me do this for you. I want you to not fight me on this, okay? Michael? It's very important. Please."

She took one of his broken hands as gently as she could in hers, and kissed his bruised, blackened knuckles.

"Please."

He gave in to her kiss. The way he'd always wanted to--although he'd always imagined it would be under sexier circumstances.

"Okay, if it's what you really want."

"It is."

She began to get up and then knelt back down. She kissed his knuckles again.

"Welcome back to Fox River, Michael...I missed you."

I missed you too, Sara.

to be continued...perhaps?