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Author's Chapter Notes:
I've been wanting to write this since June of '08. It might be too late at this point, but I think I'm going to give it a shot anyway.

The story is told in first person POV (for a few really good reasons), mostly Michael and Sara, but with a bit of input from the other listed canon characters.

More extensive author's notes will follow if I decide that this fic is worth continuing. If so, will probably be about 20 chapters.
TO BE CONTINUED

1. anniversary

The kids are at Michael’s for the weekend, so Gary lets me drink on Friday night. It’s my weekly treat, and he’ll joke about enabling me, but I’m always relieved that he doesn’t take it too seriously. He doesn’t know what kind of agony I was in when I didn’t have my drinking under control, like I’m sometimes stupid enough to think I do now, but there are a lot of things Gary doesn’t know.

We’re at dinner, and I’m drinking a desert as he smiles indulgently at me, and that’s where I stop trying to rationalize every sip I take. This happens once a few glasses of wine get into my system. Denial stops working. When I’m intoxicated, I am aware that ultimately, my drinking will never be under control, it’s just biding its time right now for when it will have its most devastating impact. And the beauty is, I don’t care. Tomorrow I will, and every hour of the week I will both dread and wildly anticipate the next Friday night, but for now…

“You know that tonight is our anniversary, right?”

I put down my drink and allow him to place his hand on mine. It’s a jarring visual, because my hands are actually bigger than his. “Six months,” I breathe, reflecting. Compared to the past years, it hasn’t been a terrible six months, but I suspect that my grudging acknowledgment is nowhere near his apparent rejoicing at the milestone.

“You make me the happiest I’ve ever been, Sara,” he says earnestly, seeking my eyes. “You don’t need to reply to that, I just wanted to say it.”

I contemplate replying anyway, telling him that I appreciate his presence more than I like him, but this is still progress for me since the Divorce, and I am not quite ready to give up on Gary yet.

“I’m glad you’re in my life,” I answer after a moment or two, as I continue to switch between looking at him and at my drink. I would love to finish it, but shouldn’t, because I’m already feeling that euphoria I so frequently crave. “And you’re so great with the kids, I know they think you’re the coolest guy ever.”

“Except for their father, obviously,” he corrects me, and my heart angrily skips a beat. Gary’s most prominent flaw is that even now, he doesn’t seem to understand that Michael is an excruciating subject for me. In fact, even though he’s never met Michael, he always expresses far more interest in him than anyone else I’ve ever met.

“Well you’re—you’re—more athletic than Michael is,” I offer, scrambling to think of something. “I’m sure you keep them out in the yard much longer than he does.”

Gary chuckles and smiles his outrageously charming smile. “I’m not sure I like being compared to Michael Scofield. I would feel inadequate by all standards, regardless of athleticism.”

It is true that Gary has a body that looks as though it were sculpted by a collection of sexually deprived women, but all I can think of when I am given access is that it’s missing an elaborate artistic masterpiece of a tattoo. Every time we go to bed, I experience a few seconds of anguish thinking about who and what Gary isn’t, and why Michael is not next to me instead.

We depart from the restaurant and he drives home. “Did you make sure Veronica took her homework with her?” he asks when we don’t speak for more than two minutes.

“Shit,” I mutter, although the alcohol in my bloodstream means I can’t summon any real concern.

“Hey, don’t worry. She’ll have time to do it Sunday afternoon.”

“We should take it over there tonight,” I suggest, which is a ridiculous idea, because Michael and Gary meeting would be the end of the world and I’ve been drinking.

Luckily, Gary has enough sense to ignore me.

We pull into the house, and I wonder if my proposal about dealing with the homework and driving to Michael’s was really a half-hearted attempt to delay arriving at home, where Gary and I will be far too alone and intimate.

Seven years, and I still feel like I’m cheating on Michael whenever I kiss another man. It is unreasonable that he should have such a hold over me after all this time, especially given the circumstances surrounding our break up. But he does. Gary backs me into the side of the stairs and lifts my skirt and screws me senseless, but by the time we’re in bed breathing normally again I feel an overwhelming desire to step into the shower and stay there until his handprints fade. Which obviously wouldn’t happen, so I would be standing under the shower until I gave up all hope of making myself clean.

I wrap myself up in my sheets and look at the pictures on the bedside table. Veronica and Kyle’s school pictures smile at me, and I smile back at them for just a moment before bundling up even more tightly. There’s a man next to me, and I’m holding his hand, but as far as I’m concerned it’s just me and my children and the ghost of Michael Scofield in this house, even though Michael never lived here. But he’s been a part of me for more than a decade so he is wherever I am, and that’s something I’ve learned no man will ever change.