A/N: This is my first Prison Break fanfic (I usually hang out in the Crossing Jordan section). I hope I handled this well. It's a one shot, so it is what it is. ;)
Disclaimer: Don't Own 'em, so don't sue.
Feedback is greatly appreciated.
The wind blew in through the open window of the beat up dinosaur of a car I was driving. Even in the dark, mid-night hours the early summer air outside hung hot and dry. The road stretched out, seemingly forever, straight to the skyline in the distance.
The plateaus of the desert cliffs stood silhouetted silently underneath a blanket of endless stars. I'm positive there have always been this many stars in our universe; that the heavenly bodies didn't just replicate themselves in the past few days. Yet I'm also sure that I've never seen this many stars during all of the lonely nights I'd spent on my high-rise balcony in Chicago. And I can guarantee you I didn't see a one during the nights I'd spent at Fox River. No, those nights I'd spent either working on the plan or staring up at the nothingness of the cell ceiling dreaming of soft brown eyes and hair the color of the desert rocks that now surrounded me.
I pull my eyes off the road for a brief second to glance at the glowing hands of my wrist watch; the hands were both nearing the 12:00 hour. I turned up the volume up on the old analog radio, letting the country music of the lone radio station out here again fill the silence.
I returned my eyes to the road, the mile markers flew by outside the open window; the repetitious arid scenery was lackluster to the point of being remarkable. I watched as a Native American chief in a full headdress came into view and just as quickly disappeared as I zoomed past. I'd learned hours ago that these strange things I'd see along the side of the road were mere hallucinations. Perhaps it was the heat rising up off the pavement… or maybe it was my eyes being so tired that they stung… or maybe it was the fact that I hadn't slept more than a few hours a night for the past few weeks. More than likely it was a combination of them all.
The last few twangs of the ancient country ballad played out and the DJ took command of the airwaves once again.
"Don't you just love that song?" he asked in an accent I was pretty sure was not real.
Yeah, real winner you got there. I thought.
"We're lookin' at midnight-straight-up here folks, and that means it's time for your hourly helpin' of the latest news."
"Goody," I muttered to myself.
"And this little tidbit is hot off the presses. It seems the Fox River 8 is down from 6 to 5, with the capture of another escapee." My interest was keenly peaked now.
Please be T-Bag, please be T-Bag, I silently plead.
"The Arizona State Police have now verified that they have taken into custody Lincoln Burrows, along with his son who was found with him."
"Dammit!" I screamed, hitting the steering wheel with the palm of my hand. "Dammit, dammit, dammit!"
I must have hit the break, though I don't recall doing so. I screeched to a halt, tires leaving tracks on the pavement and kicking up rust-colored dirt as the car fish-tailed on the loose shoulder. The car finally came to a rest amid a cloud of dust and I hung my head against the steering wheel, angry, frustrated and downtrodden.
The DJ continued on with his report, unaware of my world crumbling as he spoke. "Arizona Police have turned Burrows over to the FBI. Burrows was on death row at Fox River in Illinois for the murder of the then-Vice-President- now-President's brother. Burrows' son, L.J., was with him at the time of capture and was also arrested. It is believed he will be charged with Aiding and Abiding a fugitive. Burrow's brother, Michael Schofield, who is believed to be the master-mind of the escape, is still at large."
I angrily flicked off the radio and jumped from the confines of the car, slamming the door shut for good measure.
"God dammit, Lincoln," I yelled again as I took a wild kick at the fender. I kicked and pounded my frustrations out on the defenseless car until I noticed smeared marks of red on the roof. I looked down at my hands; my knuckles were slit and bloodied.
I sank down to the gritty earth, my back against the car. I lay my head down on my knees and tried to calm myself, slow my breathing and gather my senses.
Nothing in this entire escape had gone correctly. It seemed like Murphy's Law was happily at play in my universe: Whatever could go wrong, has gone wrong. The plane, the money, the Feds being a mere step behind us the whole way… and now Lincoln getting caught.
This is not how this was supposed to turn out. We were supposed to have been in Panama by now. Lincoln and I should have had our dive shop by now. We should be drinking tequila and lying in hammocks. Right now I should have had my bare arms wrapped tightly around a beautiful doctor as the tropical breezes wafted through the open shutters of our bedroom.
But no, now we were right back to where we started. Lincoln would, no-doubt, be headed back to a maximum security prison, where he would likely spend the rest of his days in the Shoe. There isn't a chance in hell that they'd ever let me near him again, convict or not. Veronica is dead, as is her partner, I'm guessing, so Linc won't even have someone on the outside fighting for him.
So there I sat, alone on a highway somewhere in the New Mexico desert. I have only a few wadded up bills and a battered old car to my name, I helped a psychotic killer escape from prison, I'm wanted in all 50 states, and my guess is Puerto Rico and Guam as well, and the whole reason I'm in this situation is now a completely moot point. Lincoln is right back where he started from and I'm incapable of helping him.
I felt like I was holding my life and the lives of those I love most in my hands, and they were all rapidly slipping through my fingers, just as if it was the desert sand I now sat upon.
I laid my head back against the door of the car and stared up at the infinity of stars glaring brightly up above, boring into my soul. They all seemed to be asking me the same question: So what are you going to do now?
I sighed and rubbed my hands against my tired eyes, trying to massage some of the sting from them before my hands fell back into my lap.
I had to face the facts. At this point there was nothing I could do for Lincoln and L.J., no matter how much it killed me to admit it. If I stood a chance of helping them it would require research and planning, and those require time.
I slowly stood up and brushed the dirt off of my clothing and climbed back into the driver's seat. I started the car up and pulled it slowly back onto the highway again. I would keep driving for I had something that must be done, and it must be done today.
There was one person I could save now, and through saving her I would be saving myself as well; for I could not contemplate the consequences on my heart and soul if anything should happen to her.
As the DJ announced the capture of my brother he also rang in the day I'd been longing for since I crawled across the wires and out of Fox River to my freedom. It was now officially June 3rd, and if Murphy decided to ease up on me for a mere day or two, then I should have Sara in my arms by the end of the day.
That is, if she had decoded my messages and could find it in her heart to forgive me for all that I've put her through.
I can't say I'd blame her if she didn't show.
The last time I'd spoken to her she'd sounded angry… bitter. And I can't put fault on her for that. God, if I'd only have known what asking her to help me would do to her life...
A vision of her lying lifeless with a needle by her side flashes in my vision, which then quickly changes to one of her in a hospital bed, a tube down her throat and monitors beeping away, reminders that she lay on the brink. I shake my head to rid myself of the image.
I should have been there for her. I should have sat by her side holding her hand and praying to a God that I wasn't sure existed that she would be okay, that I would get a chance to make it all right. But instead I ran, ignorant to her plight, not knowing until after the fact what I'd put her through.
She had been a part of the plan from the beginning. She was someone I could play to get what I needed. But there was something about Sara Tancredi that touched me. Perhaps it was that she treated me like a human being, not a convict. That spoke a lot for her character. Maybe it was her smile and the way it made her eyes twinkle that drew me in, or any of the countless other facets of her that would dance in front of my sleepless eyes at night.
Somewhere between the insulin shots and the burns I fell in love with her. Who'd have thought it possible? Of all the places to find love, prison would have been my last guess. I tried to stop the feelings. I knew the endgame, and that that the ramifications wouldn't be fair to either of us. But I simply couldn't stop myself from loving her. My feelings for her were like a raging flood that rushed over me and couldn't be stopped by a thousand men.
While in Fox River I never stopped to think that I may be risking her life for the life of my brother's with this plan. Had I known then what I know now I somehow doubt I'd do it all over again.
I knew from news reports that her father had died. Suicide they'd called it. I knew better. There was no way his death was just a coincidence. What with the VP nomination linking him to President Reynolds and his connection to me through Sara. No, his death was not a suicide.
Chances are that the Governor found out something he shouldn't have known. They had to get rid of him, just like they did Veronica and I'm sure countless others before her. They were willing to do anything – and take out anyone – to keep their secret safe. The Governor's death only reinforced my belief in that.
Which meant that Sara was now in danger as well. They may think that Governor Tancredi passed on his knowledge to his daughter… or they may simply believe in the concept of guilt by association. Either way it didn't bode well for Sara.
I'd been so concerned about her that I'd taken a chance calling her cell again earlier, only to find it went directly to voice mail. She had turned off her phone, or so it seemed. This would make sense if she were on the run, which I forced myself to believe, because the thought of the alternative is just too much to bare.
So I drove. I drove south along this barren highway toward the pin-prick town of Gila. I must make it there, and it must be today. It's dangerous – as my gut is telling me that even if Sara is there waiting for me, Mahone probably will be as well. And my gut is rarely wrong.
He's been only a step behind me- if not a step ahead – since the escape. And when I spoke with him earlier he sounded confident he knew where to find me; which, I must admit, frightened me, not as much for myself but for Sara. Who knows what he is capable of… but I'm not about to let him get his hands on her.
My spirit filled with silent prayers as the mesas flew by my window. I prayed that Sara would be there. I prayed that she would be safe. I prayed that she could somehow forgive me for all the hurt I've caused her. And I prayed that she would let me spend the rest of our lives making it up to her.
A road sign approached in the distance. I strained my tired eyes to read it. Gila 242 miles, Santa Fe 521 miles.
It's only a matter of hours now.
Sara's face clouds my vision. I can picture her smiling at me through sad eyes. I gather her in my arms and hold her. I can feel her heart beating against my own. I smooth her silken hair while I whisper to her that I'll never let her go again. She raises her head off of my chest until her eyes find my own. She smiles again, and this time it reaches to her eyes. I take her face in my hands and wipe away the tear that has found its way to her cheek with the pad of my thumb. I lower my lips to hers, kissing her softly until I hear her sigh with contentment.
"I missed you" I murmur upon her lips.
"Don't leave me again," she whispers. "Promise me.
I'll get there. I have to. I have a date and I'm not about to stand her up – no matter the consequences. I promised her I'd keep her safe and that I'd find a way to make this all right. And I'm not about to disappoint her again.
"I'm coming, Sara," I say softly. "I'll be there. I promise. Wait for me."