Sara and Michael first met in the Fox River State Penitentiary. But what if Sara was never there at all? How would their lives have turned out? What would have happened to the Company? And what will happen when they meet at a time when Michael is most in need of a doctor's care? Another entry in the Choices and Consequences series.
, Alternate Universe Characters:
Agent Alexander Mahone, Agent Paul Kellerman, Aldo Burrows, Brad Bellick, Frank Tancredi, Gretchen Morgan, James Whistler, Lincoln Burrows, LJ Burrows, Michael Scofield, Padman aka The General, Sara Tancredi
Michael and SaraWarnings:
Drugs/Drug Use, Extreme Language, Graphic Violence, Sexual Situations
Choices and Consequences
July 29, 2010 Updated:
August 10, 2010
Disclaimer: I own nothing, especially all that dialogue you recognize.
1. Prelude by phantomrhiannon
2. The Meet: Triage by phantomrhiannon
3. The Meet: Chill by phantomrhiannon
4. The Consequences: Governor Tancredi by phantomrhiannon
5. The Meet:Truce by phantomrhiannon
6. Babysitter by phantomrhiannon
7. Investigation by phantomrhiannon
Prelude by phantomrhiannon
I'm not *entirely* sure where this one's going, but I DO promise a MiSa happy ending. I'll add a warning for character death if it comes up, but I'm not specifically planning on it at this point. As always, all concrit is warmly welcome. Enjoy!
In one life, a man sees a pretty woman at an NA meeting. He’s seen her before, of course, and he’s been looking for an opportunity to talk to her. Tonight, Brad Bellick is going to get his chance. He’s got a Red Lobster gift card in his pocket and something to talk about. Sara’s looking for a job where she can do some good, and he happens to know just the place. So he walks up to her and tells her about the opening at Fox River. She’s instantly lit up by the idea, but it isn’t enough to make her want to go out with him. And, go figure, she gets the job, so he has to see the woman who rejected him nearly every day at work. Eventually, he even loses his job over the whole thing when she gets all hot and bothered over a damn con and aids in his escape.
But in this life, Bellick chickens out at that NA meeting and doesn’t tell Sara about the job at Fox River, or even talk to her, at all…
Thanks for reading....the two paragraphs. So go hit next for the real first chapter!
The Meet: Triage by phantomrhiannon
My knowledge of the medical world is limited STRICTLY to second-hand knowledge of cardiac nursing, too many seasons of Grey's Anatomy, and going to the ED once with a friend 10 years ago. This leaves me with many useless acronyms and the false belief that all interns are incredibly sexy and kill all their patients just by looking at them, and not a single fact about emergency department procedure. If you know better than what I put in here, please feel free to school me; if not, please feel free to pretend I never said that.
The Meet: Triage
Sara liked her job some days more than others. It wasn’t exactly her dream of helping people get from where she’d been to where she was, but that had turned out to be a bad plan. Where she was at the time hadn’t turned out to be as stable as she’d thought. But she’d gotten a much better handle on her identity as an addict after her relapse. Emergency department triage, though it seemed beneath most doctors and was staffed mostly by nurses, had a satisfying sense of immediacy to it. People left her exam room en route to get exactly the care they needed, as soon as necessary (more or less). People lived because of her, every day.
Except not today, it would seem. So far, she’d assessed two broken ankles, a bagel-slicing hand injury, a severe but non-life-threatening allergy attack (strawberries), and four cases of varying stomach bugs which were not the avian flu virus feared by the patients (though flu season was either long past, or not yet started – and though the state of Illinois had not seen a single case yet). And those were the more interesting cases so far. What the day lacked in quality, fate seemed to be making up in quantity. The ED was experiencing an overwhelming epidemic of minor injuries and cases that should have been seen at an urgent care facility or by a PCP.
Stepping back into Triage 3 after her first stolen bathroom break of the day (which really should have been her lunch break), she was met with an immediate upswing in her day. The occupants were undoubtedly the two most gorgeous examples of manhood she’s ever seen in the flesh. Pure testosterone practically buzzed in the air, sharply raising the temperature of the small, air conditioned room. The more rugged of the two, arms crossed menacingly across his chest, hovered protectively over the man seated on the chair by the sink. In Sara’s experience, protectiveness like that could be divided into two categories: protecting the patients from themselves, and protecting the patients from the health care system. With this guy’s hostile glare directed at the patient, Sara felt fairly secure that this man fell into the former category. It would have been a comforting thought if the apologetic defiance in the patient's stunning jade eyes weren’t promising that a certain amount of bullying had been necessary to get him here in the first place.
“Sorry, doctor.” Oh, God, his voice is worse than his eyes, Sara thought as the patient spoke. “It’s just a few nosebleeds. No big deal. My brother here is overly concerned.” He jerked his head in the direction of the man looming over him like a statue of a guard.
“It was a big deal when you were thirteen,” the statue argued.
“I’m acclimating to the lower humidity,” the patient shot back.
It would have been a fascinating family dynamic to study if this weren’t the most hectic day of the week in the emergency department.
“As the trained medical professional in the room, I’ll be the judge of that,” Sara put in as she donned a pair of latex gloves pulled from a box on the short counter, and plopped herself down on the backless rolling stool.
“I’m Michael, by the way, and this is my brother, Linc.” The patient pointed a heavily tattooed arm at the older of the two men.
“Scofield and Burrows, I watch the news,” she responded, having pieced together their identities once she’d stopped to notice the tattoo. “I’m Dr. Tancredi. Have you filled out your forms yet?”
Michael passed her the clipboard from his lap and exchanged an enigmatic look with his brother. She wondered if they made the connection to the state’s former governor. When the tattoos – revealed by a rolled-up sleeve – came back into her field of vision alongside the clipboard, Sara remembered a two-page spread in the Tribune dedicated to how the famous tattoos encoded the escape plan. So of course they'd know who her father was, and his role in the conspiracy.
Sara cleared her throat and diverted her eyes from the men whose dynamic presence abruptly made her feel severely self-conscious. She flipped through the papers on the clipboard until finding a pertinent piece of information – or lack thereof. Reaching for a blood pressure cuff, she began the interrogation.
“I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you didn’t list your mother’s cause of death. Is that because you don’t know, or because you’re trying to get big brother here off your back by withholding information from me?” She flicked her eyes up at Lincoln, who was somehow much less disconcerting to look at, though he was the one attempting to appear intimidating.
“Our mom had a brain tumor,” Lincoln answered with surprising softness.
Sara paused while she waited for readings from the cuff. “Is your blood pressure always low, Michael?” Still, she didn’t look at him.
“A little,” he assented quietly.
She ran through a few standard questions about his symptoms and family history, and found nothing else untoward. “Any history of kidney or liver disease in the family?” she concluded with.
“Rumor had it Dad was an alcoholic…” Michael began with an irresistible note of humor that brought her eyes back up to his – a miscalculated move that set her blood boiling from the heat she found there.
“But the fact that he’s spent the last thirty years in hiding as he secretly fought against the biggest conspiracy in our nation’s history has made you doubt the company line?” She hadn’t meant the pun, but Michael’s humor was contagious.
“History does have a way of rewriting itself,” he replied with an enticing quirk of his eyebrows. Sara wondered what other assumptions about their lives these men’d had overturned in the past few months. “I don’t suppose I get to walk out of here, now, do I doctor?” He flashed her a cheesy grin that would totally get him her number if they were out in public, but wasn’t going to get him out of the hospital.
“Not so fast there, Mr. Scofield. If you leave now, it’s AMA…and I’m guessing you’re going to have to get past your brother to do that.” She nearly had to bite her lip against a comment on Michael’s muscles. “My money’s on him. I wouldn’t be alarmed yet, especially if nosebleeds are your only symptom, but I am going to go ahead and have you admitted so that you can get a neuro consult. We have some of the best neurologists in the country at Mercy,” who are going to send you out of here completely healed if they know what’s good for them, she finished silently.
“Doc’s right, Michael. You got no choice here: I’m bigger than you,” Lincoln threatened warmly, with a strong undercurrent of concern that earned her admiration.
“The desk is down the hall to the right. Take this with you,” Sara handed over a partially complete admittance form as she dismissed them. “And Michael?”
“Yes, doctor?” His voice poured over her like liquid sunshine.
“I’ll be watching,” she warned lightly. He returned her threat with a half smile that made her extraordinarily glad that she was still perched on her stool. She made a mental note to make up some excuse to get up to the 2400 wing before heading home. She rose and, true to her word, watched the most famous members of the Fox River Eight retreat towards the desk. The view was nearly as nice from the back as it had been from the front.
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The Meet: Chill by phantomrhiannon
I said before I don't have a very clear idea of where this one's going, but I do now have a very elaborate scheme of where it's been - so expect a lot of flashbacks. There are a few deliberately vague references to past events - they will be explained as I get around to the flashbacks, so don't worry that you're missing something. Enjoy!
The Meet: Chill
Sara spent the rest of the day’s mindless visits (unfortunately, though Scofield’s symptoms were the most innocuous of the day – on paper – they were likely indicative of the day's worst diagnosis) alternating between mental replays of the Scofield/Burrows encounter and brainstorming excuses to get up to the 2400 wing. Rationally, she was aware that such a flash-fire obsession was rather silly and school-girlish of her. However, she’d also had precious few opportunities to be silly and school-girlish in quite some time. By the time her shift was over, she’d given up on all of her clever excuses for “accidentally” bumping into the famous prison escapee. The man who’d engineered a break-out from a federal penitentiary and had managed to stay out long enough to see himself and his brother exonerated (of most of their crimes) wasn’t likely to be fooled by a triage doctor needing to appear outside the ED for a neuro consult.
When she managed to force her arm through her purse strap and her feet towards the exit, two thoughts refused to let her take herself out the door and away from Michael Scofield. The first was a certain degree of real concern for his well-being. Overwhelming attractiveness aside, he’d seemed caring, vulnerable, and too stubbornly stoic for his own good. While she was sure his body guard of a brother wasn’t going to let him add Mercy Chicago to his list of escaped institutions, brotherly devotion had no effect on diagnosis. She might be able to finagle information on his condition out of someone from the 2400 wing, but probably not any substantial information on how he was handling everything. The second thought stopping her from leaving was that she couldn’t let go of an opportunity to get answers about her father from someone with little motivation to lie to her.
Sara was aware that these thoughts might sound like excuses – particularly the first – but it was enough that she understood that they really weren’t. She might have had issues learning not to let caring for her patients compromise her recovery or her safety, but she still did care. And she would always want answers.
And so it was that she found herself at Kisha’s desk, asking for Michael Scofield’s room number.
“Mmm, checking up on our famous patient, are we?” the receptionist teased as she rapped her fingernails over the keyboard. “Or checking him out?”
“Just making sure he isn’t a flight risk,” Sara excused herself out of the list she’d thought of earlier. “Seemed the type in triage.”
“And the fact that he’s the hottest thing to walk through the ER doors this week has nothing to do with it?” Kisha raised her well-groomed eyebrows in pointed, but friendly, disbelief.
“The room number, please, Keesh?” Sara prompted, though she had the grace to be embarrassed, and, if the temperature of her cheeks was any indication, to show it, as well.
“2442-2. But I want gossip, girl!”
Sara flashed the ED’s rumor mill minder a self-deprecating smile in thanks as she stepped away from the desk towards the elevators.
When Sara located Michael’s door, she wondered briefly just what sort of insurance plan unemployed ex-cons (the employer information on his paperwork had been blank) got that paid for a private room. Taking a steadying breath, she tapped lightly on the door.
“Hey, Doc,” Lincoln greeted her, filling the doorway with his bulk. “You got a minute to sit on him while I make a phone call?”
“Sure, no problem.” She hadn’t expected to get Michael alone, but she’d take it.
Lincoln and Sara swapped places, and the door clicked softly shut behind her. Gathering the last of the resolve that had swept her thus far, Sara stepped past the short bathroom hallway and into the room proper, where Michael was sitting up in bed and clearly displeased with his surroundings.
Sara screwed up her face with awkward humor and announced, “Apparently I’m supposed to sit on you. Has Lincoln been pinning you down this whole time?”
“Only figuratively.” Michael matched the light joking in her tone, but his voice still sank straight to her gut. “I was expecting you.”
“You were?” Sara hadn’t exactly played cold fish in triage, but she was hoping that she hadn’t been that transparent.
“Tancredi.” This time, his tone was heavy and grave.
“Ah. Right.” Sara dropped her eyes to the floor where they were safer and she found her way to an armchair only marginally more comfortable than the stools in triage. “I’m sorry. I wish – I don’t agree with my father’s politics. And I hate what he did. I hate what he didn’t do. I can’t believe what he – Well, no. Actually I can believe it, and I wish I didn’t. I just – I’m sorry, I’m not being really coherent here, am I?” Finally, she looked up and found herself under a very disconcertingly intense scrutiny. Michael was coming to some sort of decision about her, and she had no idea what it was.
“You want to know how much I know about your father’s involvement with the Company,” he declared with certainty.
“Yes,” she admitted.
“I’m not sure what I should tell you.” There was something strange and indiscernible in his voice, and his eyes still withheld his decision.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Something in his tone offended her.
“It means I don’t know why you want to know.” Michael was clearly choosing his words carefully, but it wasn’t making Sara want to be particularly forthcoming.
“He’s my father!” Sara’s voice rose, and so did she. “You know what? Forget it. I shouldn’t be here, anyway.” She put her hands up in surrender as she spoke, then nearly sprinted for the door. “I hope everything works out for you here,” Sara added with abrupt sincerity as her hand paused on the handle.
“Sara, wait. I’m so-“ Sara assumed the rest of the word was “rry,” but she escaped before he finished.
She didn’t go very far before stopping to brace herself with palms against the wall behind her – just a few steps outside the door. The dizzying mix of sexual heat and unexpected, suspicious chill in the room with Michael set her heart drumming a frantic beat against her ribs and left her sucking down shallow, staccato breaths. She thought – she hoped – Michael alone couldn’t have set her senses reeling this wildly. Her father, most likely, tipped her balance from this edge. She’d tried speaking with him about the execution, of course, but his answers slithered around the truth in an incriminating fashion. Being so close to someone else with answers, and losing the opportunity –
“Let me guess. My brother decided not to trust you.”
Somewhat surprisingly for a man of his height, Lincoln had managed to approach her without her notice.
“Yeah. No. I’m – You nailed it,” Sara replied shakily.
“We’ve been talking about you since this afternoon,” Lincoln began. Normally, the thought of being a topic of conversation for two such attractive men would be an appealing thought. In this case, it added another layer of nerves to her unsteady mood. “We figured you’d come up, looking for answers. I don’t see why we shouldn’t say anything. But Michael thinks you’re fishing for intel on how much we know.”
Sara considered being insulted, but mostly she just felt herself relaxing under the knowledge that there was an explanation for Michael’s coldness: paranoia. Not an unreasonable state for someone involved in bringing down the Company. Although why he’d still be paranoid after they’d succeeded, she shouldn’t begin to guess. Stepping away from the wall, Sara attempted to say something reassuring about herself. What came out instead was, “How is he?”
“He had a CT scan. Or a CAT scan. I dunno. It’ll be a couple more hours before we get the results.” The concern in Lincoln’s voice melted away the last of Michael’s chill.
“Whatever it is, you two can face it together,” she said quietly, but with conviction.
“Thanks, Doc.” With that, Lincoln pushed into Michael’s room and away from Sara.
Thanks for reading!
The Consequences: Governor Tancredi by phantomrhiannon
And now, for a flashback! Do feel free to imagine Lost-like sound effects when the time frame changes; I know I am. Enjoy.
The Consequences: Governor Tancredi
Usually, when Sara couldn’t grab a seat on the L, she wished she’d driven to work, and she’d firmly remind herself of the ecological soundness of public transportation – something more people needed to do in the wake of the great and good Ecofield’s downfall. Today, she didn’t need anything to comfort her sore feet as she leaned on a pole. Her stomach was churning a stew of mixed emotions over the Michael Scofield encounter. With little hope of getting any more information out of him and no need to concentrate on driving, she was free to replay her most recent conversations with her father to look for truth and lies.
Sara stared at her father seated on the other side of foggy glass, and all of her carefully prepared stinging, supplicating, and sweet opening lines vacated the premises. The jail was the most claustrophobic atmosphere she’d ever experienced, and yet her father had never seemed farther away from her – a truly horrifying accomplishment.
“What is it, Sara? Come to throw self-righteous accusations at me?” her father preempted any thoughts she’d entertained of being unreservedly sympathetic.
“Gee, Dad, I thought I’d let you know I’m here for you. You know, because I’m your daughter?” She paused to shake her head. No member of the Tancredi family ever really expected care and concern from another; why should now be any different? “And I thought maybe you’d want someone to hear you out. Or maybe, yeah, I would like some answers.”
“That’s rich, Sara. I remember what happened the last time you tried to help someone out. You didn’t have a problem with me bending the law back then, or any of those other times with your junkie boyfriends.” He voice was sharp, aggressive. But Sara could hear a slight defensive note under the surface anger. He was scared, and lashing out at the nearest available target. She tried to be understanding, but with her father, that was… difficult.
Sara ignored the obvious retort that he hadn’t simply bent any laws this time. “I’m not here to argue,” she tried, knowing how defeated she must sound – and how her father would interpret it as martyred. Before he could jump in with another attack, Sara moved on to questions. “Why aren’t you out on bail?”
“They say, after what happened with Kellerman, that it isn’t safe, since they think I’m Company. I think their real reason is so that I don’t run for the hills or something.” Apparently, it worked. Temper was gone from his voice.
“Are you? Company?” Sara asked quietly. She’d intended to ease into that one a bit more, but it was quite literally keeping her awake at night.
“I’m not going to dignify that question with an answer. If I could – If I said yes, you’ll hate me. I say no, and you’re not going to believe me. So why bother at all?” Sara flinched. Were the glass any thinner, she suspected it might shake from the volume.
“I’m sorry, Dad. I am,” she said as sincerely as she could. “I’m confused, and I don’t know what to believe. And, Dad, I’m frightened for you. Here, in this place, what could happen next – it scares me.” If she could have whispered and still be heard, she would have. Admitting weakness to her father was never a pleasant task.
“I had no reason to believe Lincoln Burrows was innocent.” Her father was justifying himself and his actions – again – but at least he was explaining. “When his lawyers started making all those ridiculous accusations about the case – well, what I thought were ridiculous accusations – and it looked like they might get their stay of execution, I was approached. Grant no pardon, and be given a shot at the vice presidency. Well, I never had any intention of pardoning the man. He was guilty of murder, and had a rap sheet of other unsavory crimes the length of my arm! So I took the deal. Bruce warned me not to look too closely at it, said the whole thing could steamroll, so I didn’t.” He stopped his lengthy explanation to look her in the eye. “I’m not Company, Sara.”
By the time Sara was done with the mental rewind – which she repeated a few times, looking for nuances of tone and expression – she’d arrived at her stop. The early evening air was pleasantly cool – just warm enough that she didn’t exactly need the light jacket wrapped around her shoulders, but not so much so that wearing it made her uncomfortable. Summer hadn’t yet given up its hold on Chicago, but its full, furious August blast was decidedly gone. There might only be a few weeks left before the crisp bite of fall and the long walk from her stop to her door forced her to retreat to her car for the commute, but for the moment, it was a walk she could still enjoy.
As she headed for her neighborhood, she continued her contemplation of her father’s connections to the Company. After that point in their conversation at the jail, Sara had called it a win and changed the topic before the conversation could get any murkier. She was desperate to believe him, of course, but he’d lied to her too many times throughout her life, about too many different things, for it to be easy.
There was now a man – a knee-wobblingly attractive man – sitting in her hospital, who just might be sitting on the answers she’d been hoping for. Was her father Company? Was he really in danger? How could he be in danger, if Caroline Reynolds and her Company had been discovered and stopped?
Everything about Michael Scofield was unremittingly unfair: his knife-like eyes, his silken voice, his chiseled jaw, his firm…view from behind…and his distrust of her. Thinking about him was distinctly unsettling. The mental picture made her tingle in interesting places, but his distrust soured her stomach, and what he might know made her throat crackle with thirst for answers.
Until she was back in her apartment where she could sink safely into her sofa and not risk losing her balance under jellied knees, she didn’t allow herself to think of the one fact that overwhelmed all her other Michael Scofield-inspired sensations. He had answers, he was clearly a good man who’d all but sacrificed himself to save his brother – and he might be dying.
Thanks for reading. I have this grand list of similarities and differences of this world and canon seasons 1 through 3, but there are a few things I haven't figured out about now/next. I can't make up my mind on one point, so I thought maybe I'd let you guys decide. Where do you think LJ should be: hidden by Aldo Burrows under a fake identity, or with Lincoln in Chicago?
The Meet:Truce by phantomrhiannon
Nothing clever or self-deprecating to say today. So, just ... enjoy! Oh yes, and thanks for deciding LJ's with Lincoln. I kinda didn't want to deal with him, but it gave me something to actually DO with this chapter.
The Meet: Truce
The ED department saw an upswing in serious medical complaints the next day, much to Sara’s relief. Copious amounts of blood, among other traditional, legitimate emergency-level complaints, took up the majority of her mental resources. She had little brain power left over for the debate over whether or not to check up on Michael Scofield’s diagnosis, or whether or not to attempt to find the man himself. The do-I-don’t-I push and pull tugged at the back of her mind throughout the day, but with no reasoned arguments for either side.
When Sara’s shift ended, she deliberately ignored the background ping pong argument and just followed instinct, as she had yesterday in following her feet back to Kisha’s desk. Her feet repeated the performance again today.
“You already know where they’re keeping Scofield, Sara,” her friend teased her lightly. “Or do you want me to do a little more in-depth stalking today?” she pressed with a sly smile.
Sara was about to ask for his condition, realizing that she had enough common decency not to intrude on anything truly serious. Hearing the word “stalker,” however, made her realize something else: whatever she was going through trying to understand her father’s reasoning and role in the Company, Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows had been tortured by the shadowy cabal far too much to deserve a Company daughter sniffing around their lives. Especially now, considering where they were. She could live with her demons. Michael Scofield might not even have that chance.
“Actually, no,” she denied, perhaps just a shade too brightly. She cast about quickly for some other piece of gossip that would make a reasonable excuse to be looking for Kisha. “I was wondering about that drug rep who came through?”
“Male?” Kisha perked up.
“Damn. Missed him. You docs get all the fun around here,” the receptionist whined with mock anger.
“Doctor Tancredi,” a deep voice rang from behind her.
Turning to find out who was speaking, Sara nearly swore at the sight. Just after deciding to take the moral high ground and leave Scofield and Burrows alone, Burrows had come looking for her. No longer stunned by the one-two punch of the overly attractive brothers, Sara could see past Lincoln’s rough gloss to how he was looking, personally. His eyes were oddly faded, shoulders slightly slumped, and his hands shoved almost defensively in his pockets. Sara sincerely hoped that it was the general stress of being cooped up in the hospital that had him looking so worn, and nothing too specific and horrible to do with Michael. But she didn’t really believe it.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Burrows?” Sara asked, acutely aware that every word of the exchange would be around the floor by the time she showed up the next morning, courtesy of Kisha. Loveable, but not trustworthy, that one.
“Vending machine coffee tastes like… Can you show me somewhere to get something better?” he asked.
It was an obvious excuse to talk to her, but what he might want to talk about was worrisome.
“Yeah, Lincoln.” Whatever this was, Sara was sure the time for that cold, distant formality was no longer useful. “Sure. Believe it or not, we’ve got our very own Starbucks. Why don’t you-“ she cocked her head towards the hall “-why don’t I take you there?”
Kisha, ever the professional (in front of the patients), refrained from whistling, but Sara knew she wanted to.
The Starbucks coffee cart (though it more closely resembled a free-standing store) was located in the main lobby, on the other side of the maze-like hallway system. The long walk there, and the longer wait in line taught Sara that Lincoln was decidedly not the talker in the family. They still hadn’t spoken by the time they’d found seats in out-of-the-way armchairs. These were much more comfortable than the variety found in the patients’ rooms – like she’d sat in briefly yesterday – or any of the waiting rooms. The atmosphere in the lobby hardly resembled that of a hospital at all, which Sara always appreciated on the rare occasions she made it out there. She didn’t care for it terribly, personally speaking, but she thought visitors must find it a welcome retreat from the sense of impending disaster that seemed to linger in the waiting rooms. Indeed, it seemed to be working for Lincoln, who already appeared a little less tired.
“I asked about you,” he spoke at last, with the air of someone suddenly attacking a wall: abrupt and straightforward, but to a confusing end.
“What do you mean?”
“I called my father.” Again, straightforward but strange.
“Your father? But I thought – “
“He’s missing? He is, but I know how to contact him. Sometimes,” Lincoln muttered the last word as if it weren’t actually meant for Sara.
“Look, Lincoln… Whatever you’re trying to do, you don’t need to. I was out of line asking for information yesterday. If you guys want to know something about me, you can ask, but I won’t get involved. You both have more than enough to be concerned with. You don’t need the former governor’s daughter sticking her nose in just to ease the family conscience,” Sara rushed to explain. She wanted to help, she always did, but she could see that the best way to help the brothers was to leave them alone.
“He couldn’t say if you’re Company,” Lincoln continued gruffly, as if she hadn’t spoken at all. “But he said there’s no evidence for it. So I’ll tell you what I can.”
“You’ve got a lot going on here, Lincoln,” Sara began, leaning towards him a bit. “I don’t know what’s going on with Michael, but I’ve got some guesses. Do I want to know about my father? Yeah. But I’m more concerned with you right now.” She set her coffee down, untouched. “This is a hospital, I’m a doctor, and your brother was admitted here yesterday. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”
“Like I said, Doc, I asked about you,” Lincoln repreated.
“And I know your mom died when you were young.” Sara waited while Lincoln paused, knowing he’d come around to his point in his own time. “Michael’s in surgery right now, and I haven’t told my son. He doesn’t know anything. Michael didn’t want him to. But Michael and I are the only family he has left. He barely knows his grandfather. His mother was - But I don’t know if I should go get him, or – What do I do here, Doc?” He rubbed both hands over his scalp as if trying to brush his concerns to his back.
“How old is your son?” Sara asked.
“Fifteen.” Older than Sara had been when her mother had died, but not by much.
“Is he in Chicago? Can he get here?”
“Yeah, he’s here.”
Sara thought back briefly to the open family secret of her mother’s illness. She learned young what alcohol smelled like and how to tell when it was the booze talking, and when it was her mother – and when it was her mother talking through the booze with savage honesty. Nobody bothered to tell her anything about alcoholism, but nobody really had to. Then, when her mother’s liver started killing her, nobody still bothered to tell her anything – but this time, they really did have to. She’d sometimes thought that alcoholics could kill with what they said and did, but nobody ever told her they could die from what they drank.
“He’s family. He has a right to worry, even if you don’t want him to. Has he seen any of his uncle’s nosebleeds?”
“Yeah,” Lincoln confirmed.
“Were you there, too?”
“Then he already knows something’s wrong. He should have the chance to be here for his uncle,” she said firmly, but gently.
Lincoln sat without looking at her or speaking to her for several long moments. Eventually, he picked up his coffee and began drinking, still essentially ignoring her. After a few gulps (now that the coffee wasn’t scalding), he finally looked at her and said, “Thanks, Doc. I appreciate the advice. We should still talk about your father –“
“When your brother isn’t under the knife,” Sara finished with a sad lightness.
“When my brother isn’t under the knife, yeah,” Lincoln echoed.
Sensing the end of the conversation, Sara rose to give Lincoln literal and figurative space, retreating from the lobby. When she neared the hallway that would take her to employee parking, she glanced back at the strange man who was letting her into his family’s life, but didn’t trust her at all. He was bent over his knees, head in hand, holding a cell phone up to his ear. She was certain his son was on the other end of that call.
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Babysitter by phantomrhiannon
It took me what...two WHOLE days to update? I should be ashamed of myself! Bad self! Go to the SHU. With Lincoln. I'll go enjoy that while you enjoy this... (personally, I think I'm getting the better deal)
In Sara’s bed that night, waking memories chased away any dreams. Lincoln, bent over in a chair and talking on the phone to his son. Michael, pale and tired in a hospital bed. Her father, staring out a window as he told her that her mother was dead. Megan, friend and patient, nearly blue on a slab in a morgue.
In the few dreams that did manage to catch hold of her consciousness, real memories clashed together to form surreal combinations from pieces of each other. Michael, staring out a window, refusing to look at her. Her mother, whom she’d never been allowed to visit in the hospital, lying in a bed with metal railings. Megan, calling her for help – something she’d of course heard and not seen.
Sara didn’t wake up when her alarm went off that morning. To wake up, you have to have been asleep. From the bruised feeling around her eyes and the vague nausea sinking her stomach, she guessed she’d probably gotten three or four hours of sleep total – and definitely not consecutively. The floor was cold enough and she was sleep-deprived-sensitive enough that her feet stung when they hit the bare wood bedroom floor. Standing, she assessed her body’s reaction to getting up to decide if she was capable of going to work without killing any patients today.
By the time she finished brushing her teeth, she decided that the day would be hell, but if she mainlined enough coffee, she wouldn’t be a danger to her patients. The upside of her sleep deprivation at work was that she sincerely needed to focus so entirely on her patients to the exclusion of all other thoughts. It was a slow day – apparently the city had learned from all of yesterday’s trauma to stay in and rest today – but she managed to avoid contemplating the do I/don’t I of visiting Michael and, presumably, Lincoln and LJ at the end of her shift.
Though today’s metal debate would have been between “I’m getting in the way” and “Lincoln involved me so I’m obligated to offer support,” it turned out that, like yesterday’s mental debate, it was unnecessary. When she left Triage 2 at the end of her shift, Lincoln was sitting in the ED lobby, evidently waiting for her. Guiltily, she thought that going home to sleep was more attractive than the world’s second sexiest exonerated ex-con – who was in need of support.
“Got a minute, Doc?” Lincoln asked as he rose to intercept her.
“Sure, Lincoln. How can I help?” Sara responded, somehow unsurprised to find him waiting for her.
Lincoln began walking towards the elevators; Sara assumed she was supposed to follow.
“I need a favor,” he announced as they walked.
Sara tried and failed to imagine what it could be. She could talk if he needed, but that wasn’t a favor. The neurology unit really was very good; he wouldn’t need help getting information or fair treatment from any of the doctors. It might have something to do with her father, but he really wasn’t in a position to harm or help the brothers anymore. “Just tell me what I can do to help,” she offered.
“I work a security detail nights and weekends, and I just used all the time off I got so far getting Michael in here. I gotta, you know, I need to be around for my kid. He wants to be here a lot while my brother’s recovering…”
Sara’s mood rose abruptly along with the news of Michael’s recovery – and the elevator they’d gotten in.
“But he’s got school and I got work. You helped out with LJ. Do you think you can help out with Michael, too? Maybe check in on him when you get done downstairs?” Lincoln picked his head up from the floor to look her earnestly in the eyes. “Waddaya say, Doc?”
“Of course I’m here to help, Lincoln. That’s my job,” Sara assured him. “Looking after patients outside the ED maybe isn’t really my job? But for you and your brother, I can make an exception.” And feel honored to do it. These men were just a little bit legendary and a lot untrusting. “You two are kind of refreshing,” she said with a smile as they wove through the crowd in the elevator to get off. “Most patients don’t trust me because they looked up their symptoms on WebMD, or because they don’t believe they should have to wait for treatment once I’m done assessing them.” She rolled her eyes at the thought of the sheer number of patients who came in with catastrophic self-diagnoses for minor complaints. “You two? You don’t trust me, but at least it’s a new reason: my father, the Company man.” Her words, at surface value, might have appeared bitter, but she said them with all humor and no malice.
“Well, I’m going to trust you to look in on my brother every day – make sure he’s following orders and all that. That’s about as much as I trust anybody I ain’t related to these days.” Lincoln shrugged and held Michael’s door open for Sara. “Found you a babysitter, bro,” he announced.
“That’s a first. You didn’t even do that when we were kids,” came a voice from around the corner of the short entryway hall/bathroom.
Sara thought muddily that Michael’s voice was an unfair oxymoron – as smooth as silk, but hitting her as forcefully as an anvil. She hung back out of sight, hoping that Lincoln would mention her specifically before Michael saw her, and vice versa.
“Oh yeah? Why do you think Vee spent so much time with you when I wasn’t around?” the older brother snarked. Though she was still out of sight, Sara swore she could feel the weight of Michael’s glare.
“So who’d you get to babysit him, Dad?” a younger voice piped in. Sara assumed it belonged to LJ.
“You coming outta hiding there, Doc?” Lincoln prompted her.
Sara turned the corner and was immediately torn between relief that Michael was clearly recovering well and annoyance with the fact that he was half out of bed when he should be lying down.
“So do I get a babysitter when you’re at work, too?” LJ asked from his perch on the armchair in the corner.
“You’re too old. And your French is just fine,” the father responded.
“I’m kinda behind in history,” the son pointed out with an inexplicable perkiness.
“Find your own tutor.”
Sara sensed that she was missing something behind the somewhat enigmatic exchange that sent inside-joke smiles zinging between father and son. Uncle and brother, however, was not sharing the amusement or the smiles.
“Have you considered her father?” Michael inquired of his brother darkly.
“Yeah. I asked ours. He’s got nothing incriminating on her. And she’s the one who kicked your ass up here.” Lincoln crossed his arms with the same unflappable determination Sara’d observed in the triage exam room.
“Have you considered that if LJ is too old for a babysitter, I should be, too?” the younger brother returned in a slightly lighter tone.
“LJ actually does his homework.”
“I don’t have homework.”
“What else would you call following the doctor’s orders so you can pass the test to get out of here with a clean bill of health?” Sara joined the conversation for the first time, relaxing enough to lean against a wall.
“A metaphor!” LJ exclaimed. Everyone’s eyes turned to him. “I broke up with my English tutor last week,” he shrugged and offered by way of explanation.
“Why do I get the impression that I don’t want to figure this tutor thing?” Sara asked archly.
“Because you don’t,” Michael answered, really turning his eyes to her for the first time. With brother and nephew in the audience to gauge her appreciative reaction, Sara much preferred that he stop soon. Not immediately, just soon.
“LJ, we gotta split. I need to get to work. See ya soon, Mike,” Lincoln dismissed himself and his son. “Thanks again for the help, Doc.”
The three men exchanged brief, cheerful goodbyes as father and son exited the room, leaving Sara and Michael alone.
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Investigation by phantomrhiannon
Apologies for the long wait between updates! I'm moving, and all that packing and apartment-hunting is rudely interrupting my writing time. I'll probably be scaling back to weekly updates indefinitely as the summer ends and real life starts being intrusive again. Enjoy!
“You look tired.” Somehow, Michael managed to sound accusatory, concerned, and like he was making a peace offering all at once.
“You look like you just had brain surgery,” Sara retorted as she dropped her things on the floor and took LJ’s place in the chair.
“Touche,” Michael acknowledged with a small smile and smaller nod.
“I’m not – “ a short laugh punched out of Sara’s lungs “ – actually sure who won that.”
“I guess we’ll just have to go another round, then.”
Sara couldn’t decide if Michael intended the innuendo, or if his voice just sounded that seductive all the time.
“How about you prove to me you’re doing your homework, and I’ll call it a tie?” she challenged, reaching for his chart.
“They watch me take my meds, I’m eating all the well-balanced meals of Jell-O and meatloaf, and I stay in bed.” He ticked off each item on his fingers (which she noticed for the first time were up there with the eyes and the voice in sex appeal).
“Barely,” she muttered, observing how nearly out of bed he was in his current perch, and placing his chart back with a certain degree of resignation. “Look, Michael, I understand that you probably don’t trust me, so I’m not going to ask about anything – like your family, or my father, or the trial and the appeals and the escape and all that – But there’s one thing I have to ask.”
Michael said nothing, but he said it very eloquently with his eyebrow.
“Is hospital food as bad as prison food?”
Sara’s joke earned her the buoyant sound of a full-bellied laugh from the invalid (such as it could be in his state), but it didn’t get her an answer.
“You wouldn’t expect the daughter of Governor Tancredi to be making jokes with one of the men responsible for his fall from grace,” he replied, apparently expecting her to make some sort of explanation.
“Judging by your pallor…I’m going to guess you’ve gotten up more than you were supposed to today – probably when your brother wasn’t here,” Sara bluffed. He probably wasn’t resting as much as he should, but he’d probably look just as awful either way. “Lie down properly, and I’ll explain.” He glared at her, but complied and moved back from the edge of the bed to lean back. As soon as his head touched the pile of pillows behind him, his eyes closed and he expelled a weak breath, confirming Sara’s suspicions. “My father,” she said the two words a little like an expletive, “is responsible for his own actions.” Occasionally, when Sara felt like being fair, she admitted that he had no way of knowing the depth of the conspiracy he was involving himself in at the time, but sitting in front of the man who’d had to give up life as he knew it to break his brother out of prison and save his life – it wasn’t the moment to be fair to her father. “Your brother – he asked me to help out, and that’s in my nature: to want to help. And, I – I confess, I think your family is…very interesting.”
“So why do you look so tired?” The sincerity in his voice – far from his coldness two days ago – stunned her just enough to make him difficult to look at, but wasn’t much of an indication of his reaction to her explanation. “You weren’t up all night thinking about me, were you, Doc?” He opened his eyes to look at her as he spoke. This time, his voice was light, and the arrogance of the remark, a deliberate act.
“No, Michael, believe it or not, I do not lose sleep over men I met two days ago.” It wasn’t often that Sara sat in hospital rooms with nothing to do – no assessments to make, no vitals to take, no paperwork to make notes on, not even gloves to take on or off. The lack of movement made her thoughts and words spring out starkly at her. Uncomfortable with the unfamiliarity of the situation, she rose to move around the room just so she wouldn’t be completely still. “It was Lincoln,” she said.
“Ouch,” Michael mocked.
“Not like that,” Sara dismissed with a shake of her head, leaning her back against the wall and twisting her hands together. “I watched him when – I saw him call LJ about you, before you were out of surgery. Yes, I was worried about you. I worry about everyone who goes through me in the ED. But seeing a father call his kid to say what’s going on made me wish my dad had done that for me when my mom was sick.” The thoughts came off her tongue as soon as they were on her mind, bypassing Sara’s usual caution with personal details around – well, anyone. “She died. And that made me think of a friend who died a few years ago. That’s not a trip down memory lane you can sleep through, right?” Sara pulled herself off the wall and out of her reverie. “But it’s all ancient history, and I’m too tired not to sleep tonight, so I’ll be smiling again tomorrow.”
By the time Sara was finished speaking, Michael was asleep. At first, Sara didn’t budge from her perch against the wall to make sure that he wasn’t acting. By the time she’d taken in his deep, regular breaths, and his slackened jaw, she wasn’t moving because she couldn’t bring herself to leave. Michael was much less…disconcerting when sleeping. His eyes were closed, he wasn’t speaking, and he wasn’t buried under a cloak of mistrust and mystery. He was just a man – strength evident in the outline of his muscled body and the harsh lines of his jaw, yet vulnerable, in need of care and protection. Sara returned to the arm chair to sit and watch over him as he slept. Only when she began to nod off herself was she able to force herself to get back on her feet and walk out the door.
Of course by the time Sara got home, she was no longer tired. Logically, she knew she was utterly weary underneath her thin veil of mental energy, but it wasn’t logic that steered her towards her file cabinet instead of her bedroom. The need to learn about her father’s role in the Company without damaging the little trust the brothers had given her drove her now. She pulled a folder of newspaper clippings about her father, the Company, and the escape and brought it to the living room. Curling up on the couch with the folder and a cup of tea like she had a new novel to savor, she flipped idly through the articles until one headline caught her eye.
New Evidence Sheds Light on Politicians’ Case
A shocking new recording played in court yesterday, but not previously available to the public, has all but sealed former Governor Tancredi’s and former President Caroline Reynold’s fates. Male and female voices on the tape, allegedly Tancredi and Reynolds, discuss trading the vice presidency for the governor’s silence in the Burrows execution. The tape was submitted to the prosecution by an unidentified government official whose credibility is argued to be “beyond reproach.”
This new evidence is predicted to play a key role in the prosecution of Tancredi and Reynolds, who are each charged with conspiracy to commit murder, among other crimes. The whereabouts of the now-famous target of the conspiracy, Lincoln Burrows, has only recently come out of hiding in Panama. He and his brother, Michael Scofield, and his son, LJ Burrows, are expected to testify at the Tancredi/Reynolds trial. Their testimonies are highly anticipated by the public, whose appetite to see the end of government conspiracy known only as “the Company” has become voracious since Agent Paul Kellerman outted them at Special Agent Alex Mahone’s trial. Many will rest easier if Tancredi and Reynolds (alleged Company leader) are convicted, in hopes that the Company’s days controlling our country with despicable methods has ended.
One line in particular kicked Sara’s brain into overdrive: “an unidentified government official whose credibility is argued to be ‘beyond reproach.’” Before she met the paranoid brothers, she’d never really considered the implications of the source’s identity. She’d merely assumed that someone in a relevant office found the tape (which most certainly was her father’s voice) and handed it over as evidence. But Michael and Lincoln behaved as if the Company had not died with Reynold’s and her father’s political careers, as was so often touted by the media. Many Company agents had clearly been brought down with them – Mahone, Kellerman, Steadman (post-mortem) and his bodyguards, among countless, nameless others. Sara put the folder down and wrapped her hands around her knees as she contemplated the implications of Michael and Lincoln’s paranoia.
What if – bone-tinglingly terrifying possibility that it was – their continued fear of the Company was justified? An anonymous altruist in the government volunteering her father’s recording didn’t really ring true. Altruism and government were not often words that played well with one another. But if the Company still existed? If a Company agent handed over the rope with which to hang Reynolds? It made a chilling sort of sense. If the public thought Reynolds was in charge of the Company, then they would assume that the Company had been defeated. And that is exactly what happened. Her father could be something of a victim of the Company, then.
That thought was not as comforting as it should have been.
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