Author's note: I've been doing a slight rewriting on many of my stories and I thought this one could use it, don't hesitate to leave your opinion. WARNINGS: slurs, sexual situations
'An ordinary man gets arrogant with beauty, conceited with knowledge and ruthless with power.'
When he walked into the warehouse and faced her for the first time since he had saved her life in court, Paul Kellerman suddenly remembered the first glimpse he had caught of Sara Tancredi. It had happened in his car, through tinted windows barely open. She was walking down the street with her head held higher than a bloody statue, and a welcomed gust of wind had tousled her auburn hair. She had not met him until much later, and therefore would not remember this. He had himself been invisible, hidden behind his sunglasses and the window of his Sedan. But he remembered everything. The black shirt that fitted her far too well for her own good, and the scent carried by the wind a mix of strawberry and peach, filling his nostrils, until Sara Tancredi was all he could breathe.
Kellerman was about ninety percent sure that the emotions he felt for her weren't love. He had loved a woman called Caroline Reynolds, once, and if their love had ever been love at all it had died at some point during their time together that he could not recall. To Paul Kellerman, love was a never ending battle for domination. For power. Well. He couldn't see why, in the end, it would be any different with Sara Tancredi.
The look in her eyes was scornful and certainly a struggle for control all of its own, and jeez Louise, if a look could kill. He reckoned that what little he felt for Sara was not much more than want, because he found her attractive and slightly intriguing, because he wanted her and he could never have her. From time to time, when he caught himself thinking about her, he wished he could have had her, at least once. He wished he could maybe get her out of his system once and for all.
She would hate him for as long as he would live. It was written all over her face. She was containing it like the well behaved girl her parents had raised her to be, but if she had a lace in her hands right now she would probably strangle him again.
But his new joining of the team was not in her hands, nor was it in her boyfriend's or in his brother's for that matter.
He saluted the team with a polite but obnoxious smirk, which imperceptibly widened when he reached her. "A pleasure to see you again, Sara."
The young woman looked down at the hand he was extending. It was a peace offering, or so she tried to convince herself, because to her it looked like a big bad wolf's paw that had been dipped in flour, and she did not want to be the stupid lamb that gets eaten at the end of the tale. She knew that Michael was right there, only a few steps behind her, and for this she felt a bit more secure. She slid her hand into Kellerman's without letting the contact linger, and stiffly putting her hand back to her side afterwards. He smiled thinking that she was going to wash them twice the second she had the chance.
Kellerman wondered in a corner of his mind if, despite her hatred, she had come to respect him somehow. Maybe because he was going to help with her boyfriend's exoneration, or maybe because he had saved her ass in court. No, he figured with amusement. No, because of that, she probably hated him more.
"It's only a matter of weeks." Michael whispered to her. He was stroking her hair in a calming motion while she had her head nested against his shoulder, but the romantic gesture and atmosphere of the boat cabin was tainted by the thought of Kellerman being just a staircase away. "Soon all of this will be behind us." Michael went on.
"You truly think that?" Sara shook her head. "That in a matter of weeks, we can get Scylla and use it to bring down the company? We don't even know what it is, it all sounds so –"
"Impossible." Michael interrupted. "I know. But we have a whole team here with us, Sara. I mean, I don't like Kellerman more than any of us but he is a good asset, he worked for the company once."
"I suppose you're right."
Michael sighed understandingly. "But you still don't like this."
"I still don't like this." She confirmed.
"You think that I do?" He said softly. "I hate that I have to look this man in the eye, Sara. I would very much like him to be half the world away or better yet, underground. But we need to be smarter about this." He smiled warmly. "Because if we get through this, in a month top, it'll be just you and me in some sunny paradise, drinking cheap beers on the beach. Maybe we can finally go on that date I owe you."
Sara smiled at the thought, and pointed out amused. "I guess that when you say the two of us, you mean you me and Lincoln, and that when you say cheap beers, you mean soda. The ex-alcoholic thing kind of kills the deal."
Michael smiled back. "I beg to differ. I do want Kellerman dead, Sara, but I want a life with you even more."
"So do I." Sara closed her eyes against his chest, and tried to forget that her boyfriend would not spend the full night in her bed again – that, as much as he hated it, they would not get anything other than stolen moments until this whole thing was behind them.
He pressed a kiss on her cheek and waited for her to be half asleep before he got out of bed and put his clothes on. He was reluctant to leave as always and gave her a look dripping with worship when he stood by the door, and Sara wondered if any other woman on this planet was loved as much as her.
When Michael was gone, a strange feeling overwhelmed Sara Tancredi. Life had been unreal since she had encountered Michael Scofield, but this place, the team – it all seemed to have gone to a new level. She hoped her boyfriend would finish early and would be back before morning.
He had been sharing her bed for a week now, and had never spent a full night with her yet. A cynical part of her wondered if in this future life he promised they would have, it would be the same – if she would often find herself alone in their bed while he was out working. It was wrong to think it and she cursed herself for it right away. But for as long as she had known Michael, he had promised her that things would get better, after. After his brother and he were out of prison, after the company were finally off their backs, and currently, it was after they had found six Scylla cards that would allegedly be the end of their troubles.
For as long as she could recall, things had only seemed to get worse after every step. But that didn't matter and Sara knew it, because if it did, she would have left long ago. She supposed that ever since she had stared into Michael's eyes and he had quoted Gandhi at her, she had known that her love for him would be unconditional. Only unconditional love can push you to cooperate with your former torturer. She knew it had not been Michael's call, but she supposed deep down she had hoped he would get possessive and furious and shout that he would quit the team if Kellerman had to be a part of it. It wasn't Michael's type and she knew it, but maybe secretly, she had hoped for it.
Besides, she didn't trust the man. He was like a snake and every word that came out of his mouth was a lie, every smile was an insult and the way that he looked at her – she didn't know what name to put on it. She couldn't concentrate or think or even breathe with him around. Deep down, she had probably expected that Michael would feel the same. She didn't resent him for it still, because she knew that Michael didn't love her with that kind of love. The love that says hurt her and die. He wasn't that kind of man.
Then a thought crossed Sara's mind, and it was so ridiculous that she opened her eyes at once.
Kellerman was probably the kind of man that would kill for her. It occurred to her despite herself, inexplicably. That didn't make sense at all, and yet it seemed to, in a way. It felt to Sara very much as though Paul Kellerman would not abide someone hurting her, not because he gave a damn, but in a possessive way. He had hurt her himself more than anyone, and yet she was immediately certain that if anyone else ever did, he would put a bullet in them.
And just like that, Sara realized how it was that Paul Kellerman always looked at her. As if she was his.
Sara was awake long before the sun was up. The noise was partly responsible, since she could hear basically everything that was going on in the warehouse. The thought brought a sudden panic as she wondered if accordingly, the rest of the team could hear everything that was going on in her boat cabin. She and Michael were never usually very loud, but still…
Her cheeks flushed red. Really, it was all she needed right now, that a bunch of criminals whom she would have to team with for the next few weeks heard her having sex with their leader.
Before she got up, she waited for the dawn to break in order to give Michael a chance to join her. Around seven, she put on some clothes and got down from the boat, and once she got to the main room, she discovered her boyfriend, alone, buried in files with a fist against his forehead.
"Hi." She whispered behind him, and took advantage of the others' absence to snake her arms around his torso.
"Morning." He responded with a quick look towards her and the shadow of a smile.
"You've been working all night?"
"Have I?" He sounded so genuinely startled that Sara's chest pinched with ache. "I've probably lost track of time."
"Well, I'm going to go and get you some coffee." She suggested, and she supposed she was the fittest to do this much since she was the only free citizen here.
"Thanks, that would be great."
It was a sunny day, Sara noted as she walked out of the warehouse. She supposed that most days were sunny in Los Angeles but she didn't see much of them, being locked up with the team most of the time. She walked down the street and ordered twelve drinks at a café, thinking that she might as well embrace the fact that she was of no true use to the team apart from running errands. She kind of hated that all she was good at was flirting with guards and bringing her boyfriend coffee, it was far too cliché as the only woman of the gang, but desperate times and all…
When she went back to the warehouse, everyone was already up and working on the same files Michael had been studying the same morning. Sara spotted Paul in a corner of the room, a file in his hands. She saw no point in denying that his presence didn't leave her indifferent and probably never would.
He looked up from his paper and met her eyes with a kind of knowingness that immediately chilled her blood. She put the coffees down on the table and excused herself right away, after Michael had briefly brushed her shoulder with his hand. He didn't pay much attention to her when he was working anyway. None of the men actually paid attention to her, if not to not so subtly eye down her blouse when they thought she and Michael couldn't notice.
Before she left the room, she threw Kellerman one last glance, and was surprised to meet his eyes again. What was more surprising was, he didn't lower his gaze.
And for a single minute, there didn't seem to be anything evil or devious in Paul Kellerman's blue eyes, and so it crossed her mind that maybe, maybe, behind the snake or whatever animal the man was made of, there was something human in there too.
A soul. A conscience. Maybe even a heart.
Still dark and rotten as it was.