Over the next couple of months, Michael only sent her pictures of where he was, sometimes postcards if he couldn't find a good picture from a disposable camera. Once in a while she got an actual letter, detailing what he'd done. Those she hid carefully, wanting to hold onto him in anyway she could.
Until he came back for her, she'd hold the letters.
She hadn't been paying attention to much around her, going through her days on autopilot. Thus, when her birthday rolled around, she really hadn't even been aware it was coming.
"I thought you liked to take today off," Katie said when she spotted Sara.
"Why would I do that?" Katie looked at her strangely.
"Have you looked at a calendar recently?" Sara shook her head, continuing with her morning routine of putting on her lab coat and organizing her files. She'd avoided calendars afraid of the reminder of how many days had passed since she'd seen him.
"Does 'Happy Birthday' mean anything to you?" Sara paused, then glanced at the day calendar she'd carefully avoided, just outside the office. Her shoulders sagged. Had it really been almost a year? It felt like longer.
She'd been living off the little contact she had with him for as long as she could remember. Now, her birthday had rolled around and the hopelessness that curled through her chest made her wish she'd taken the day off. She knew he wasn't going to come.
"Do you want the day?" Katie's voice broke through her thoughts. Sara sighed.
"I'll leave at lunch," she decided finally. "I made it this far, I might as well stay for a bit."
Lunch managed to come faster than Sara had wanted. With a heavy sigh she packed up her files and, with a wave to Katie, left the infirmary. Her car almost snuck up on her and she unlocked it without thinking. Instead, her mind was focused on the fact that she was about to spend her birthday afternoon on her own.
The box outside her door made her roll her eyes. She assumed the box was the birthday present from her father and was pretty sure it was just cursory. Still, she brought it into the apartment, setting it on the coffee table and moving to her bedroom. When she stepped out, her eyes once again alighted on the box. With another roll of her eyes she grabbed the box and set it on her lap.
It was then she noticed there wasn't a return address.
Her heart rate picked up and her stomach dropped to her toes. Michael was the only one who sent her things without a return address. She grabbed a knife from her kitchen drawer and sliced through the tape with eager, shaking hands. The lid slipped off easily and the contents made her gasp.
The entire thing was filled with folded roses.
Tears sprang to her eyes as she shuffled through the multi-coloured paper. She was amazed at the sheer devotion. It would have taken hours to fold and perfect the sheer number of flowers in the box.
She was surprised by the ringing of the phone. Absently, she picked it up.
"Happy Birthday." A smile slid across her face.
"How many are there?" she asked, now only allowing the tips of her fingers to graze the edges of the paper.
"500." Sara sighed.
"Plus the 500 you sent me a couple of weeks ago… you've been busy."
"That was for the day—"
"You walked into my infirmary, I know," she said. They were silent for a few minutes.
"I miss you," she said softly.
"Soon," he promised. "We're working out the kinks now."
"You aren't coming here…" She heard him sigh.
"We did it, Sara. All of the hiding… it's going to pay off." It was her turn to sigh, contentment weaving through her veins.
"Next two weeks," he responded. "Keep an eye on the news."
"Bigger." The word made her shiver pleasantly.
"Will I know?"
"Without a doubt. Love you." She smiled. The words flowed from his lips much easier than they used to. To her, it was a testament to how he'd allowed her further into his heart.
"Love you, too."
It really wasn't that long. She saw it on the front page of the newspapers one of the guards was reading and knew.
VICE-PRESIDENT IMPLICATED IN CONSPIRACY
Her heart had jumped into her throat at the tame time she felt the same area contract. The result was an uncomfortable choking feeling. She managed to suppress her gag reflex and forced herself to turn back to her papers.
He'd asked for two weeks and he'd done it in ten days.
The news that night was all about the cover up. Lincoln Burrows, Veronica Donovan and Michael Scofield flashed across the screen more times that she was willing to count. She was surprised at the intricacies, the twists and turns the case had taken.
When the knock sounded, they'd just gone to a commercial.
She groaned as she stood. There went her peaceful night of puzzling and overanalysing the entire situation.
"This had better be damned…" Her voice trailed off as she looked at the man on the other side of her door. They stood silently for a few moments, taking each other in.
"Hiya stranger," he finally said softly. A gentle smile spread across her face.
"Hiya back." She opened the door wider, allowing him to step through. He saw the news still flickering and smiled.
"You guys were busy," she said, still speaking softly. She was subconsciously afraid that talking any louder would ruin the feeling of comfort that had spread through her system. Sure, there was an underlying sexual tension, but it was buried under layers of relief and contentment too think to allow it to come through with any effect. She led him to the couch and sat down. He followed, facing her and ignoring the still blinking television. He knew the story anyway.
"Tell me," she requested softly. He knew what she was asking and sighed heavily.
"Does it matter?" She just waited expectantly for him to start.
"What do you want to hear?" Part of him was happy they hadn't done anything physical. To him, it spoke of a much deeper connection that did not need the physical aspect to make itself known. The way they knew what the other was talking about was testament enough.
"Took us a week to get over the border," he started. "We had a few set backs."
"Who made it?" Her fingers were crawling towards his. He pretended not to notice.
"All but T-bag. We let the authorities find him." She nodded.
"We worked from there. Veronica would send things to us and we combed through it all…"
"All of you?"
"Linc, LJ and I. The others…" he trailed off with a shrug, indicated he wasn't exactly sure what had happened to them all. She smiled in understanding.
"So that's it?"
"I go back to my life," he agreed. She hummed in acknowledgement.
"Where are you going to go?" she asked, too fearful to include herself with him. Still, they way they'd just chatted about his life after the escape had felt remarkably like discussing the day over dinner.
"Where do you want to go?"
"You didn't think I wouldn't want you as part of my life, did you?" The question was rhetorical and earned him a sheepish smile.
"Lincoln?" He shrugged.
"We don't talk about the future."
"Too busy with the present." It was a statement of understanding, but he nodded anyway. He gently picked up her hand, trailing the tips of his fingers over her knuckles. She watched, transfixed by the delicate brush and the idea that he was actually there with her.
"Are you still running?" She felt him tug her closer and moved with it, sitting so his knee was brushing against hers.
"No. Lincoln and Veronica visited your father this morning."
"My father?" He smiled sheepishly, well aware her relationship with the Illinois governor was not the greatest.
"I told them not to…"
"Yeah." It came out confused. Her tone had indicated that she didn't expect her father to let him off. She shook her head in disbelief before twining her fingers with his.
"He interrogated me about you after you escaped," she explained. "It didn't sound like he was overly fond of you and the possibility of a relationship." His eyebrows knit in confusion.
"I guess…" She shrugged helplessly. "Everyone interrogated me. God, even Pope and Bellick!" She was getting agitated, something he was feeling particularly guilty for.
"It wasn't the interrogation as much as the implications," she continued as if she hadn't heard her name. "'Did you have a relationship with any of the escapees?' Or even worse, 'Did you and Scofield go at it?'" He knew the last one would have come from Bellick and felt a protective, possessive anger seep into his control.
"I told you…"
"They belittled it. Everything I did at Fox River came under review." He pulled her closer as tears welled in her eyes. The world of pain he'd so obviously caused her churned his stomach painfully.
"Michael," she said after her sobs had subsided. "I want to get out of Illinois."
"Wherever you want to go," he promised, his hand running through her hair. She was snuggled tightly against his chest, her arms curled into the sweater he wore.
"I have vacation saved up," she continued. "Once we find a place, I'll give in my two weeks and take my vacation."
"But you love what you do," he protested. Sara shook her head.
"I'm not making a difference at Fox River, and don't give me the 'you made a difference in me' speech," she ordered, watching his mouth open to protests, then snap shut again.
"Are you sure?" he asked instead. She nodded.
"I need to get out of here." They sat in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying each other's company.
"Come home with me?" he asked a while later, pressing a kiss to her head.
"Come see Lincoln, meet Veronica and LJ," he clarified. "Come for dinner." How he knew she'd skipped that particular meal was lost on her.
"Okay," she found herself agreeing. "Let me change." She reluctantly pulled herself out of his embrace to change from the sweats she'd thrown on when she'd returned home. She paused at the hallway entrance.
"I love you," he answered with a smile, the words bringing a sense of contentment over him. The words had grown on him since he'd told her just over a year ago. He'd known she was going to have doubts about his return and whether or not it had all been real. He also knew he'd just abolished most of those doubts.
"I love you, too." He heard the bedroom door close and settled back against the couch. He knew he'd just been given the greatest gift.
Even if he felt he wasn't supposed to take it.
Okay... this is kind a meant to be the end, however, I do want to writea futurefic with Michael and Sara and kids and a marriage and the whole thing. Having said that, there could be an epilogue of sorts about dinner OR I can put it into a sequel as the first chapter and go from there into the future.
Please let me know. You guys have been awesome at reviewing so far, don't stop now.
Oh, and I don't like the martyr Michael, so he's much sweeter in this. None of the angsty I have to go back to jail and serve my time to society... Hope you like him anyway and I'm sorry if he's a little OOC.