Title: Compadres
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Michael, Sucre (Gen)
Rating: K+
Summary: (Early Season 2) An uncomplicated friendship for a complicated man…
Author's Notes: This was a backup story for Prison Break Fic Exchange Round 3, written for motioncity44, who wanted Michael and Sucre with the themes of Observation, Conflict and Loyalty. Also for my prisonbreak100 claim: this is prompt #21, "Friends."

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It might have been because Sucre didn't call him "Fish."

Everyone else did, especially at first, but never Sucre. Maybe he knew what it felt like to be the new guy. Or maybe he thought it was rude. Ridiculous ideas when it came to a felon, but that's just how Sucre was. The man wouldn't take crap from anybody, but he never got aggressive without being provoked. It wasn't his style.

It might have been that crazy "pashun" Sucre had for Maricruz. It didn't matter that he couldn't spell it, he had it. He loved her more than Michael had ever loved anyone except Lincoln or his Mom, and it was infectious—you had to like him for that alone.

Sucre never judged Michael—not even for being smart, and Michael had been through a lifetime of grief over that already. Sucre wasn't intimidated—he didn't even care. It was like he saw through Michael's intelligence, saw the Michael underneath. And that was rare, because hardly anyone had ever looked beyond that brainy surface. Michael was, well, grateful for it. There was no other word to describe how he felt. He was grateful.

The fact that Sucre also didn't think his whole plan was nuts (at least, not out loud) didn't hurt things either.

They'd been in that cell together maybe a month before the breakout, but they'd had a solid friendship almost from the beginning. Sucre was a surprisingly sympathetic listener, and he seemed to actually understand why Michael would go through all this for his brother. Sucre respected it. He believed in it. His support made all the difference, especially when the pieces weren't falling into place the way Michael so desperately needed.

Michael was slow to trust people, but once he let that wall down it stayed down. Those few weeks in prison were hard—they were horrifying-- and they left their mark on Michael inside and out.

But something good came out of it, something besides saving Lincoln (which was all he'd ever hoped for). In all that misery and panic-ridden planning, Michael had found a true friend. And a friend like Sucre was more rare and precious than gold.

Michael knew many of his own faults. He knew he thought too much, picked things apart with questions and analysis until there was nothing left—no framework to hold the answers. He'd been so tempted to do that with Sucre, to weigh the pros and cons of liking him and whether it was good, bad, or even real. But he'd stopped almost as soon as he'd started, because his emotions told the story better than reason ever could. Sucre was kind. He was a good friend to Michael. And underneath all the mistakes Sucre had made (and realistically, might make all over again), there was a core of goodness and decency to him that outweighed the impulsiveness that formed his flaws. In all those ways, Sucre was very much like Lincoln. And in the end, the choice Michael made with both of them was very much the same.

They're out of prison now, reunited after the escape. They found Westmoreland's money earlier today, stealing it from the others and losing it within hours. Nothing comes easy to them, and never has-- not even simply running away.

Trouble is close again, with Michael and Sucre down in the river. They are hiding from the dogs, and trapped by the log bearing heavily on Sucre's leg. The water rises as the spillway upstream releases more. Now it's high enough for drowning, but it's still not enough to set Sucre free.

"Let me go, Papi," Sucre pleads, cold and weak and too tired to hold his head up away from the current.

"I'm not leaving you," Michael reassures him. Loyalty goes both ways, and it's time he earned his half of it.

Michael ducks down to check the position of the log, tries to shift it but he just can't do it. He's not giving up, though, not until he's out of choices. For better or worse, that's the way he's always been.

The water keeps rising, almost too high already for them to last much longer. Michael holds Sucre's head now, lifting it up to stretch out Sucre's neck and buy them a little more time. Sucre's worn out and ready to quit, but Michael won't let him. There are options, always options, and Sucre would never give up on him.

They are almost at "too late" and "over," Sucre's every other breath filled with water instead of air. But there's nothing to lose by giving it one more shot, and Michael does—he spells out his strategy and then the two of them go under. He shift-shoves, shift-shoves, edging away the log while pushing on Sucre's foot to help get it out of range.

Michael's lungs ache on his last few tries, just more… more… there. He springs upward out of the water, gasping for breath and twining around to help Sucre get out.

They're instantly drunk on the abundance of air and free-flowing relief, giddy with happiness for the moment, for having survived. They hug tightly as they sway with the flow of water—the manhunt forgotten, everything focused on We made it instead of where they're going next.

Sucre claps Michael on the back as they push through the river toward the bank. That touch is all enthusiasm and optimism in spite of their situation, and it's so unexpected that Michael wonders how he could possibly deserve it.

It takes a moment for Michael to realize this is really all about Sucre and not about him.

Sucre is always so quick to forgive—he doesn't demand perfection, doesn't hold grudges where his friends are concerned. In all these moments since the escape (and not all of them were great, Michael freely admits that), Sucre never got caught up on Michael being the whole reason they were in this spot right now. He never blamed Michael for the fact that knowing about the plan was almost as bad as executing it—the only choices he'd had left once he knew were to escape, or to stay and take the heat for being an accomplice. Meeting Michael and trusting in his vision had pretty much sealed Sucre's fate—a fate that never would have found him otherwise.

How many friends would be that forgiving? How many had been, among the few that Michael had known?

Michael had asked Sucre once what his name meant.

"It's basically 'sugar,' Papi. Kind of like sweetness, you know?"

And all Michael had said then was, "Oh."

But what he'd thought was, Of course. I should have known.

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