Author's note: Hi, hope you'll enjoy this chapter we don't own anything about the show, take care and have a nice week-end.
She could have let it all out, in a rumbled blow, she even wished to. But what good would it do them to have her reproach thrown in their faces… it wouldn't do any good.
Some reasonable, rational voice in the back of her mind kept reminding her that it had all been done for her own good, to keep her safe, to save her future, as well her baby's.
This was the sole reason that kept her words unsaid, although she knew well enough that her face said it all. The blameful look she kept giving Lincoln, her indifference to Sophia's presence who Sara had found out sought the help of Kellerman at Linc's request and finally LJ who kept their big secret, pretending he didn't know anything.
Today they all stood opposite her, as if it was not enough upsetting, Paul Kellerman was among them. The awkwardly intriguing ex-government agent that had tortured her, tried to kill her than surprisingly witnessed in her favor at court and now was moving heaven and earth to put an end to her problems…
She couldn't help but wonder why, she had the right to ask herself that, didn't she? Why? Why go through all this trouble for her? Just to prove he had changed and turned good? She didn't believe it, there had to be something more to it, another reason that he was keeping secret, maybe the company still wanted her alive and his part of the deal was to keep her safe – only if the company knew she was here, she wouldn't be here right now. All the questions kept adding, and the more questions there were, the more she wanted to know. She just knew he had to be gaining something from this, something she, perhaps, hadn't thought of yet. She wished maybe she could just say "thank you" it'd would be a real pain to say it, she'd just have to think of the look on the Juror's face when he'd showed up that day in court to make it easier, but maybe afterwards, she could bar him out of her life. Only she couldn't leave it to that, she knew she couldn't, it was just guttural, she could not trust that man, even if he helped her, even if she wanted to. Which she wasn't sure she did.
And seeing him there, putting on an innocent face she could hardly feel comfortable around, made her oddly uneasy and nervous. Perhaps it was the past, the memories of the person he had pretended to be at the AA meeting… or just simply the piercing blue gaze that had been set on her since the moment he came in. But it was her who was looking at him now, he went on talking, giving damn sensed explanations, that she couldn't even listen, because she couldn't get her eyes off of him, or her mind off the thought that any time he could jump and attack like an animal. She'd like to see that, she was betting no one would manage stopping her from strangling him this time.
Sara kept her arms tightly crossed as Paul continued his explanation of how her case was progressing. She managed forcing herself to listen to him, and her pride crushed at the mention of his success in proving that Michael's mother was an agent at the company which brought some second thoughts to the people pursuing her. Evidence that came forward would help eventually clear her name. She would be free, she would be able to walk down the street to the grocery store without looking for a placard with her face on it, she would be able to raise her child publically – was it so wrong that it made her furious that he had done that? Shouldn't she be thankful, and suddenly forgive him? It made her respect him, it was the best she could do, even if she didn't want to, even if maybe she would have wanted him to remain the heartless cold monster she had decided he was, but now she was used to the idea, and was at least respecting what he was doing now. But her respect for him did not mean she would forgive, and certainly not that she would forget.
"They would not name that self defense yet-" Paul shifted his eyes to Lincoln and finished "it does counts for something now."
Sara nodded blindly, starting to feeling the urge of getting out of here rise within her, she excused herself shortly and rose from the sofa, walking away from the group, turning her back to them. She decided to exit to the kitchen, hide from this embarrassment she felt of having her fate in the hands of the last man she would ever trust. She hated how he talked about all this, she was pretty sure she'd rather live in danger than to have her safety in the hollow of Paul Kellerman's palm.
She wasn't even sure what disturbed her the most about this situation, was it because all the justifications he gave her, in that cheap motel she wouldn't have followed any man into willingly, everything he said, that this wasn't what he wanted, that he would do things differently, did this mean that now, she had to believe him? Did she have to believe that he cared about her? He had said so, and she had hated him for it, he wasn't allowed to care about her, he wasn't allowed to just justify himself, he was the reason why she hadn't returned to Michael on that day, he was the reason why they weren't all getting tanned under the Panama sun right now. Or maybe she was just pissed to think that, if he had let her go, if he hadn't, if he'd killed her – Michael would still be dead right now, nothing would have been able to prevent that, which was the major flaw in every scenario she created, what she was trying to forget – because, she couldn't blame anything on his death anymore, not the company, or Kellerman, or herself, he was just dead, and he would have died anyway, and there was no one to blame for that. Sometimes, it makes it easier, to think it's not fair, to be able to hate someone for it, as stupid as it might seem, it gives you a reason. And then, she thought of the little Scofield, inside of her tummy, and she figured maybe she didn't need hate to be her reason after all.
Remembering that she had to take her pregnancy vitamins, she swallowed them down with a long gulp of water, her heart nearly stopping at the feel of a hand at her shoulder. In a second, in her mind, she'd already turned around, smashed the glass against the man's head and done some ninja inlet to make him fall to the ground.
She whirled around to find Lincoln and exhaled in relief.
"You alright?" He asked.
"Jeez, Linc I could have killed you!"
She ran her hand through her hair nervously, to pass the fear also, but felt a surge of annoyance hit her when she noticed the helpless amusement on Lincoln's face.
"I'm dangerous!" She said loudly.
"Yes, of course, I believe you." He assured.
She just sighed.
"You know what, Linc? Leave the lying to Michael, you're no good at it."
He frowned, and looked at her for a while.
"Oh, you know what, better even, why don't you leave the lying part to Kellerman? He's pretty much unbeatable."
"Don't say my name like that."
"Like you're my dad, like you're the grown up and I'm the child, like you're right and I'm wrong. Like you're about to lecture me."
"You didn't even hear what I have to say."
"Although I'm pretty sure I can guess." She said.
He sighed, she only wet her lips angrily at his ensuing words
"You need to keep your cool Sara." He hung his head in silent apology than added, "I know you're upset about Kellerman ..."
Upset? She thought, that was feeble in balance for the infuriation she felt within her.
"Look, I'm sorry we couldn't tell you sooner, he thought you'd be better off not knowing… till the day of your exoneration."
"Oh, so he told you to lie to me?"
"And you listened? Great, that's just great, because, you know, if one day he ever offers you candy and tell you to get in his car? Don't."
"Not that tone again."
"You want to know what I think?" He ignored her, "I think somewhere inside you, you know he won't betray us again, and that's what makes you so angry."
"That's what makes me angry? I could write a book about everything about him that makes me angry, I have very various choices."
"I am not contending that," He said.
"Stop talking so carefully, I'm not made of glass, I won't break, Linc."
"Fine, you want to know what I really think?"
"You're pregnant, hormonal, exhausted and you just found a scapegoat."
She remained silent a few seconds, probably out of stun.
"A scapegoat?" She finally repeated, "No, no Linc, Kellerman's not my scapegoat, I don't do things like that."
"I didn't mean-"
"No, because, if I remember correctly I didn't say anything when you guys teamed up with Gretchen."
"Hell, I even brought that stupid birthday gift to her daughter, do not tell me I need to blame my misery on someone else, I'm all about second chances Linc, if I didn't believe people could change right now I'd be hiding in some bathroom getting high. I am not hormonal, Lincoln, I am outraged."
He didn't reply this time.
"And I can take it," She just said.
She turned from him, posing her empty glass in the sink, her head facing the window. He didn't say anything, but she knew he hadn't left, she knew he was still there.
"Lincoln, I don't trust him…" She simply said, honestly, because she knew things would be just ten times simpler if she just said the truth, and that nothing would change what was happening anyway.
"I know," Lincoln said, and she bit her lip at his soar reminder, "but Michael did, and so do I."
A minute of silence fell between them before Linc broke it.
"He made me a free man Sara, did the same for you and for the last couple of months he helped with everything," He let out a humorless little laugh and confessed, "I might seem like I'm taking his defense but I'm not… hell, I'm the first to look to when it comes to mistrust in people. And I'm also rational, I observed all he did, and he means no harm."
She remained silence, swallowing painfully before she could contend.
"Michael didn't trust him," She said, "he just had no other choice than to do so."
"You're going to tell me he was wrong to?"
That, she couldn't deny.
"Michael loved me," She just said, her eyes still set on the transparent glass of the window, "don't think I'm doubting that, he did, but what he cared about, more than anything in the world was his plan. It sounds stupid, but it's true, he wanted to bring these people down, more than anything, and he was willing to do so many things to make sure that would happen – I'm not sure if I would ever be able to make that choice. I don't want to disrespect him, Linc, but I don't want to go after them, they'll go after us soon enough, I just want to be left alone."
"The only way you're disrespecting him is by saying that it was what he cared about the most, Sara, he'd be turning in his grave hearing you say that."
"He was willing to do anything in the world so the plan would go correctly, Linc, you can't fight me on this, when he was in prison he even worked with Bagwell-"
"Yes, he did. But in the end, Sara, that's not what he died for."
She could have slapped him, taken it badly and thrown a drink in his face, or mistaken what he meant, but she didn't need to blame it on him right now, she didn't need to hate him, not him. She didn't respond, only helplessly tore her eyes from the window to look at him.
"I'm not saying that to say that I blame you." He said.
"I know." She said.
They both knew.
"Look," He went on, "you don't have to trust him, just trust me…" he smiled, weakly, "Hopefully by next year; you'll be walking a free woman." With a comforting look from her brother in law Sara finally gave in with a sigh.
"Does that mean you're in?"
"I don't really have a choice, do I?"
He said nothing, still waiting for her agreement.
"Fine," She just said, shaking her head, carelessly, "just – fine, you know, I don't have to like him, I just have to bear his presence."
She prepared to walk back when he added.
"What?" She turned to him.
"It's okay to resent him," He just said.
"Kellerman?" She furrowed her brows slightly.
She was unable to say anything while he walked back. She woke herself up and forced herself to follow him, being very careful to tear her glance away from Paul's face, but it didn't matter, as soon as she walked back in it all came back, the magnitude of his stare restoring the previous feeling of unease in her, she knew there was no way she could look in his eyes without thinking, without remembering, without the images of their fleeting moments together coming back to her, she remembered him from the first day they talked at the AA meeting, when he brought take-out Chinese food to her place after she let him into her home – she just couldn't believe how a person could lie this well, right now, looking at him, she recognized no one, and all of him at the same time, she remembered that afternoon in her apartment, nearly fell asleep next to him on the couch, whilst watching the televised version of some bad thriller, she remembered the man he was then, but she couldn't associate him to the man who had interrogated her, to put things decently, and the man he was now – she just had no clue who he was, because if she couldn't unify Lance the addict and the man from the motel bathroom together, it did mean that he was lying at some point, but now she saw him again, and recognized neither of them, or maybe a bit of both, but the question that aroused her curiosity wasn't the who, but the when – if he had been lying, which time was it? Under the warming sun, sitting on the steps of the church, eating pie; putting on his gloves, whilst she felt her heart drum in her chest, urging her to do something, her eyes stingy, wet strands of red plastered to her neck, her pulse quickening as he plugged in the iron; or was it now, that he was lying? Or perhaps, it was the first time he was actually truthful.
How she wished she could be able to make this not personal, she didn't want this to be freaking personal, not this time, not with him, why couldn't she treat him like Gretchen, or Mahone? With them she'd been able to stop her own feelings from getting in the way, why couldn't Paul Kellerman be just any robotic soulless former agent to her? Why couldn't she simply let him do what was best for her?
She didn't want his help, she'd never wanted it, it was too late for him to decide he cared, he had his shot already, if he wanted to help her he should have let her go that afternoon instead of leaving her to drown, he'd had a choice, and he chose, he did not get to change his mind, not now, it was about five months too late.
She suddenly started wishing he was a stranger, so she could look at him shortly and be able to look away, to detach herself from him, to let go of the constant anxiety that he would always bring with him – but his was no stranger, and the idea of it brought a nauseous feeling to her, something she shouldn't be unused to given the fact she'd been throwing up every morning for the past month, but this was a different kind of sensation, the kind that caused a passing pain to her stomach, which, if you really think out of the contest, you could easily mistake for fluttering butterflies. But of course, that didn't cross her mind.
This man was a person she thought was a friend at first, someone whom she had trusted, liked, and talked to, and there was nothing complicated about it really, he'd betrayed her in the pure meaning of the term, betrayed her in every possible way and in so many levels, he'd tortured her, made her beg him to stop, made her beg him to kill her, made her cry, and shake and fear. He was soulless, there was no other way for it to be, how do you hurt someone this much, how can you stand the pain, the screams, the desperation, the blood? A monster, she should have decided, cold blooded, a murderer, a lowlife, a being that had taken so many lives he didn't even deserve to live. But she could take this, to think of him that way, he had chosen his side, he had made it clear which one, so why did he have to turn tables on her? Why did he have to confuse her, and save her? He had caused her to know fear, to tremble and lose sleep over the image of his cold blue gaze, he had made her discover pain – real pain, a word that is way too commonly used, because so few people actually experience it, pure sheer pain; he had terrorized her, haunted her, he had held power over her, and now… he had the guts to care? She hated this, a real hate to, a burning sensation, submerging, crashing, devastating, and if she let it took over right now she'd be throwing herself at his throat like an animal, because that's what he had done to her, that's what he had made her, that was the part of him that he had left with her. She hated his guts, she hated his noble acts that aimed to repair the damage, she hated Linc saying he had changed, that he meant no harm, this man was harm, this man was everything that was wrong, and now he made it so she had to listen to a word he said? He'd made it so she had to give a damn? He'd made it so she needed him? Why, to torment her some more? Hadn't he done enough, couldn't he just give her reasons to loathe him, or at least let her hate him? Why show his better half to her? Did she look like she wanted to care, or forgive him? Did it look like she wanted an apology? Did she look like she wanted to have to owe him? What she felt was overwhelming, crashing her by its intensity, and she wasn't sure she had ever felt anything so strong in her entire life, and it would blow, or implode, destroy one of them, or both. And now, he wanted her to need him? Was that a sick plan of his? And she hated so much that she needed him, she hated so much that what she felt for him burned through her so deep, she hated that he was probably the person who actually knew her most; he knew her fears, he knew her doubts and nightmares; he'd seen her cry, he'd cause her to cry, and now he wanted to make freaking amends? He wanted to help her? Why not make it easier for her to hate him, this way she would feel satisfied, safer somehow. Hate would always be better than this unease, this nervousness, this discomfort and sudden loss of words when he was anywhere near her.
She watched him blindly for a few more seconds, heard his big plan get on, but she couldn't listen.
"Excuse me," She blurted, rising.
Lincoln threw an interrogative glance to her, and she saw he was ready to get up and follow her. She just shook her head, he didn't insist, and she isolated herself in the kitchen again. Would she actually ever be able to last more than fifteen minutes in his presence? Without one of them trying to kill the other that was.
She heard footsteps behind her, a door open then shut. It could have been Lincoln, checking in on her, but she knew it wasn't. She didn't need to turn around – she didn't want to turn around, because turning her back to him was a way of saying that she wasn't scared of him, that she wasn't the frightened, shaking woman he'd traumatized in Gila, that she'd outgrew that fear, that he no longer held any power over her, that she wasn't afraid of him snapping and attacking like a snake, that he wouldn't break her neck or bang her head against the wooden counter, or if he did, this time, she wouldn't beg.
Both of them remained silence, she could feel his presence behind her, not close enough for her to feel threatened, but not very far either.
"Shouldn't you be entertaining your audience?" She was the first one to speak, her tone as cold as it was sarcastic.
Of course, the confidence and perfectly controlled attitude shattered like thin glass the second he opened his mouth and she heard his voice. That voice.
"Well, I'm glad you find my strategies amusing, Sara."
She didn't answer, she'd just felt her rate of assurance lower to zero in a mere second, so she settled for stalling.
"I didn't peg you for a people person, Paul." The sound of his name leaving her mouth didn't exactly feel nervous, but it still wasn't as cold and emotionless she had hoped for.
"You're too modest, give yourself some credit, you'd be great at politics."
Nothing like a guy who knows how to cover up the pile of bodies he's hiding under his rug.
"So, are you and Burrows plotting against me yet?" He asked casually.
"Actually he's telling me to go easy on you," She said in a mirthless scoff.
You would have had to be extremely careful to catch the barely audible ounce of pain in her voice, but he was paying attention.
"I'm here as a friend, Sara," He said, and ignored her sarcastic laugh, "I mean it, I'm trying to help."
He didn't answer, she knew he wouldn't.
"Look, let's be honest here," He changed subject instead, "if you had any other options you would have taken them, you don't."
She didn't reply, and he wondered if he'd gone too hard on her, but she didn't leave him the time to talk back before she turned around, facing him for the first time since he'd entered the room.
"Looks like you're getting lucky," She said, as the poisoned toned words left her before she knew it, "Lincoln wants you here, and like you said we have no other option, so I won't make a scene and tell you to get out of my house."
"House that I found you." He figured he should have kept his mouth shut when he saw the glare she threw him.
"Just so we're clear," She said, her voice and eyes despising him, "I don't want your help Paul."
It was said with so much clarity and intensity it would be very hard not to believe her.
A shadow of a smile moved his lips as his eyes set on her again.
"Maybe not…" He admitted, "but you need it regardless."
He saw her face tense as he finished. She had the same look on her face she had when she threw herself out of a window to escape him. It could not be good.
"You listen to me," She breathed, forcing her voice to be stronger when she added, "I would leave this place right now and starve in the streets before I let you 'help' me."
He nodded, still wearing a slight smile, too small to actually be accurate so he could still act innocently, but present enough for it to annoy her like crazy.
"Duly noted," He said.
"I mean it," She said, "I would be out the door by now if it wasn't for…" she managed to stop herself before she could say it, but he finished for her.
"You mean if you weren't pregnant?" He prompted and she scowled, instantly on her defensive, when he took a few steps towards her, and her heart went banging, suddenly in distress as she gulped as he went on, "but you are – pregnant? So why don't you let me… finish what I started, the way I planned it?" he spoke in almost a whispery voice that sent a shiver down her spine; she did not like the way it sounded. She furrowed her brows, moving back a few inches away from his still slightly smiling face.
"The way you planned it?" She repeated frowning, "What am I, a grieving, lost little girl in need, so you, being so generous and kind, can come to my rescue and make me all grateful and willing so you can boss me around? If that's what you want, Paul, just get yourself a dog and leave me alone."
He was torn between being offended and laughing when she finished her sentence.
"Hum," He just uttered, a line of confusing forming between his brows, "I didn't think you had a thing against men with plans, Sara."
She gritted her teeth, holding back from glaring at him.
"Let's not be childish here," He said, moving a few inches backwards to give her some more space, and calm her, "you know I'm only trying to help you here, all of you, and I'm not asking for anything in return, so just consider it a favor, accept it and don't worry about it."
"Is that why you asked Lincoln to keep this from me? So I wouldn't get 'worried'?"
"For starters, granted, I didn't expect you to be against your own exoneration." There was just a bit of mockery in his tone, not a lot, hardly noticeable, but it was there. And she noticed it.
"Maybe I just want to know why you'd trouble yourself so much over it." She replied.
All trace of amusement left his tone when he spoke this time.
"My reasons are private, and you don't have to concern yourself over them. Just consider I'm trying to make things as easy as possible for you in this difficult moment you're experiencing. Plus you shouldn't have to be feeling nervous or stressed, it's bad for the baby."
She didn't even have the time to tell him to mind his own business before he went on.
"Speaking of which, I've arranged for a doctor to stop by and do an ultra-sound, so we can make sure the baby's okay?"
He had not seriously just used the word "we".
"I-" She started but he interrupted.
"I know you wouldn't take the risk of remaining ignorant, especially as a doctor, it'll just make you feel safer."
Oh, so he was here so she would feel safer? She was pretty sure it was the most insane thing she'd ever heard.
"Aren't you excited?" He interrupted again, "Usually mothers-to-be are thrilled to see their unborn child, plus you better get used to the idea, only eight more months to go."
How did he know she was pregnant was a question she couldn't even begin to formulate, and which was strange enough, but how he knew how advanced she was in her pregnancy reached the peak of the weirdest, most uncomfortable thought she could create. She didn't want him to know this sort of stuff, especially not so precisely, she didn't want to associate him to the night of her reunion with Michael – the mere idea of Paul in that pictured caused her cheeks to flush slightly. She immediately tried to focus on something else, praying he wouldn't notice – of course he had.
She cleared her throat, a little nervously.
"Look, uh – I appreciate you being so thoughtful," She managed, "but I really don't want-"
"Of course you won't, don't say stuff like that." He looked like he was a second away from rolling his eyes.
Say stuff like what? She inwardly replied, lies? No, how awful would that be?
"You don't appreciate me doing this," He simply said, smiling a little more fully, "in fact you hate it, and you sort of wish you could blink and I'd disappear right now, don't you?"
"Okay, I think we sorted everything out." Translation: conversation over.
"What? But you haven't even threatened to strangle me with your shoelace yet, Sara." She shuddered to the way his voice caressed her name, but ignored it as she turned round, heading for the door, her hand frozen on the doorknob when he let out five words she would never forget.
"I'm not going away."
It should have annoyed her, infuriated her even, but she strangely felt it brought her an odd feeling of safety.
She chased it away, hastily running upstairs when she feared she would cry again, and it would be a cold day in hell when she'd cry in front of that man again. It was a stupid thought really, a foolish certainty, an idiotic feeling, but we all have it regardless, we don't even question it, we feel like, if someone loves us hard enough, they will never die. And perhaps, Sara understood, that's what Lincoln meant when he'd said she had the right to resent him – Michael, because he'd died. He planned everything, he saved everyone, but he died, he'd planned to die. Why? Why hadn't he saved himself in the process, how could he have let this happen, how could he have done this to her? How could he have left her like this, how could he have left her alone, pregnant and fugitive? He had no right.
With this thought came a rage that made her want to wreck the room, scream, claw her own eyes out, and rip the life off her own body. Where was he? Where was he now, when she needed him, how could he not be there, if he loved her he'd be there, how could he have left her there to rot?
She cried some more, hysterically, another perks of being pregnant, she thought sarcastically, even though she knew at least it was a way to let it out, she was no shrink, but she still knew the pain is worse when you keep it inside. And during this whole time, she had the strange impression that Michael was there, that he could see her – she hoped he could see her, and for a second she considered living her whole life alone, just her and his presence in this room, she could talk to him, and maybe, after a while, when she'd gone crazy enough he'd start talking back. But he wasn't there, he couldn't see her cry, his sacrifice was the last thing he'd ever do for her, he was gone, it was over, the realization came crashing and submerged her, as violent as a tidal wave.
She let her tears flow again, no wasted time in thinking why couldn't she let go? She just cried, blindly, carelessly, until the sobs calmed, and transformed into silent tears, rolling on her face, pressed against her pillow, her eyes opened, numbly, as she thought perhaps that was what was so comforting about Paul. She hated him, she knew she did, but it just felt as though he wouldn't let her go crazy, and spend her life talking to an empty room, she didn't want to be a crazy mother, and he wouldn't let her become one, he had said so, he wasn't going. And even if she knew so assuredly she would never forgive him, even though she would never feel comfortable in his presence, it felt as though he was there, and he was stronger than her, which was good at the moment, because she wasn't strong, she was torn up, and it felt like he would catch her, like he would be there to sober her up in ten years, when she'd still feel that tremendous whole in her chest when looking at the red faded paper rose she held so dear, like he would be there to wake her up when she'd want to just fall asleep perennially, just sleep, just die and join him. But he wouldn't let her. It felt like he'd be her safety net, someone she hated, but who would catch her when she'd trip, like he would always be there, like he would never fail her.
Like he would never die.