AN: This one-shot is set during and after the scene in 4x01 when Michael is getting his tattoos removed. Maybe I'm reading too much into it with this but I had to explore why Michael didn't get a sedative. Because seriously who wouldn't get a sedative? LOL. So, enjoy! : )

Disclaimer: I do not own Prison Break or any of the characters belonging to it!

"It's a good start. But there are some things you can't fake, and some things you can't hide."

Michael sat in the chair with his back straight and his head thrown back against the rest. His arm tensed and he bit down on his lip hard enough that he could feel the first hint of blood on his tongue. Sweat pooled on his brow and dripped into his eyes. Still, his focus was completely on his right arm and the device currently being used on it.

"Are you sure you don't want a sedative?"

Michael gave the slightest shake of his head but otherwise ignored the question, his eyes remained locked in place. He was fully aware that having a sedative would make this experience a hell of a lot easier, not to mention a lot less painful, but he couldn't bring himself to have one. He needed to be awake. Needed to see them removed.

The tattoos were never something Michael particularly wanted to get. In fact, the only reason they existed at all was because of necessity and not of any long kept desire to permanently mark his body with ink.

Despite the fact that Michael never wanted them, he had grown accustom to them, even accepted that he would never be parted from them. After all, it wasn't practical for an escaped convict on the run to be removing tattoos. And now here he was, being handed the opportunity to lose them and he found himself almost wishing he could keep them.

The tattoos had been a part of him for so long. In reality it had only been a few months but for him it seemed like a life time. They represented everything he had spent so long fighting for. Where everything began. Getting into and escaping Fox River, saving Lincoln. But he had done that. He was out, and Linc was safe.

When he first got them they served not only the purpose of ensuring he never forgot the plan but also that he never forgot the purpose. Sitting in his cell back at Fox River, it was easy to become discouraged. Several times he was certain he couldn't pull it off and just felt like giving up. It was times like that when he would look down and be reminded of why he was there. Lincoln. It was all for Lincoln.

Lincoln had been the only constant in Michael's life. When he was young, he could count on Lincoln to be there to take care of him, to protect him. When he was sad, he could count on Lincoln to provide support and comfort. Even when things got hard and Linc was spiraling, Michael could still count on him, only this time it was for Lincoln to need him and not the other way around. Whether for good or bad Linc was always there and Michael wasn't about to abandon his brother to the chair. His guilt or innocence didn't matter, although the fact that he was innocent did make Michael's plan a lot easier.

The tattoos were a constant reminder of why he was there and of how he was going to accomplish his task. They were both his and Lincoln's salvation. However, after escaping Fox River, they became their down fall. The feds got pictures of them and decoded them, used them against him. His plans were no longer his own and his tattoos were rendered useless.

Even after that though, he still hadn't brought himself to consider the possibility of losing them. How could he? They were so much a part of him. But he didn't need them. Everything they represented, he had. And he no longer needed the constant reminder. He had Lincoln. They were out of Fox River, LJ was safe and they were on their way to complete freedom.

He had to see them removed. It was like being...cleansed. Free from the constant reminder of what he nearly lost and what he was fighting to get back, free from his own guilt regarding why Lincoln was imprisoned in the first place. Both he and Lincoln were nearly free but Michael knew that he wouldn't be completely free until they were gone.

And so he refused the sedative. It wasn't because of some misguided attempt at being brave or to try and prove himself or any macho bull shit, it was a cleansing, a need...a catharsis.



Michael gave Lincoln a small grin in place of a greeting. Lincoln smiled back and motioned vaguely to Michael's upper body.

"So no tattoos huh?"

Michael shook his head. "No, no tattoos."

Lincoln nodded and fell into step beside Michael. They lapsed into a comfortable silence as they walked. Silence that was familiar to the two brothers.

"So why now?" Lincoln asked curiously after a few minutes of silence.

Michael took a minute to answer. How did he explain it to Linc? His brother may know and understand him more than anyone else but somehow Michael doubted he'd be able to completely understand this one. Michael glanced at Lincoln and waited until he looked up to meet Michael's gaze.

"I don't need them anymore."

Lincoln didn't answer. Instead, he stopped and turned to face Michael directly. Without a word he placed a hand on his shoulder and gave a gentle yet firm squeeze. Michael recognized the gesture for what it was. Lincoln may not understand everything, but he understood enough.

So I never intended to write that second part with Lincoln but it happened anyway and I think it fit so I kept it. This was my first Prison Break story so I'd really love some feedback so I can improve for future stories in this fandom.

Review and let me know what you thought please! : )