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Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a continuation of Two Fugitives and a Hideaway, which you should probably read first, or else the fic won’t make too much sense. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed Two Fugitives, and to those who encouraged me to write the sequel. You all really made me feel special and fuzzy. :) Thank you to thelana, as always, for beta’ing and being generally awesome.

This was written for Fanfic100, Prompt 069: Thunder.
T-Bag steps into the shower and turns the water on, twisting the dial to a scalding temperature. He shuts the door as the water trickles from the faucet onto his hair, and he leans his neck back to catch some on his tongue. He rinses out his mouth, spitting the water onto the slick floor of the shower. Propping his forearms up against the tiled wall, T-Bag rests his head on his thin wrists as he watches the water tumble into the drain.

The water is hot enough that it stings, but he sucks his lower lip into his mouth and bites down, ignoring his raw skin. T-Bag closes his eyes, idly tapping his fingers against the tiles. The rhythm sounds hollow, and he shakes his head vigorously to empty his water-clogged ears.

Sniffing and rubbing underneath his nose with a forefinger, T-Bag tilts his head back again, opening his eyes. The shower spills water onto his still-bruised face, nipping at the exposed abrasions on his jaw, trickling down his bare body to the floor. He turns on his heel so that he’s leaning against the wall, the shower hitting from his belly and downward. His fingers, now beside his hips, continue to tap.

T-Bag’s been with the brothers and LJ since yesterday. Once Burrows and Scofield had found him and LJ, all four had piled into a dark car with tinted windows (Scofield says a friend had lent him the car) and driven out of Chicago. They’re in some small suburb that’s two hours or so away from the city, in an apartment on the first floor. Scofield insists that it’s safe — it’s his wife’s boss’s cousin’s friend’s dead girlfriend’s, or something like that — and that, if necessary, they can move into the woods. T-Bag hopes that the apartment will be safe, at least for the time being, because he’s already spent a week in alleyways. He’s just gotten used to warm food (Burrows is a decent cook) and showers.

But he has to be careful now. He’s found LJ, yes, but he knows that Scofield and Burrows would turn their backs on a promise to keep him out of their lives. He doesn’t even know why the brothers let him sleep last night. Burrows would happily end his life, and T-Bag knows that.

Actually, it’s probably not that safe to shower, T-Bag realizes. Scofield had said that some cleaning team would be coming over to the apartment once they left and scrub every surface clean, to get rid of all trace. But if he’s showering, he’s probably leaving his hair in the drain, and that’ll be tough to get out.

Sighing, T-Bag reaches for the shampoo. He squeezes out a portion onto his palm and scrubs it into his hair, fingernails digging into his skin. It feels damn good to be getting clean. He had taken a shower last night, too, but damn, he loves taking a shower. Every problem disappears along with the water and diluted soap.

Once he’s finished, T-Bag turns off the water and steps onto the bathmat, dripping water onto the hardwood floor. He reaches for the towel and wraps it around his hips, using a hand towel to dry off his hair. He’ll still have to wear the dirty clothes, but at least his body will be clean.

Satisfied, T-Bag tosses the damp towels into the laundry hamper beside the sink. He tugs the jeans over his legs, still moist with warm water, and pulls a white shirt that Scofield had given him last night over his head. It’s a little too big, but it’s still a shirt and it smells like Scofield.

Leaving his feet bare, T-Bag pushes open the bathroom door. The vacant corridor leads off to two bedrooms and a living room, which connects to a kitchen and the vestibule. He can hear Burrows snoring gently, and T-Bag knows that Burrows and Scofield are asleep in the same bed. He had seen them when he left the living room for the bathroom; Scofield’s head had been resting on Burrows’ chest, and both were wrapped inside a thick quilt. (If they weren’t brothers…) LJ has the other bedroom, but the door is closed. Probably locked, too. Burrows doesn’t want T-Bag anywhere near LJ, after all.

Yawning, T-Bag heads into the kitchen. It’s a little past seven this morning, judging by the clock hanging beside the fridge. T-Bag pulls open the pantry door, picking out a plain bagel and a jar of jam. He’s spreading the jam across the bagel when a drowsy LJ stumbles into the kitchen.

“Mornin’,” says T-Bag, waving the knife in greeting. LJ nods, rubbing at his heavy eyes, and opens the fridge. He takes out orange juice and drinks straight from the carton. “What you doin’ up so early?”

“I heard the shower.” LJ wipes at his mouth with his sleeve. “It woke me up.”

“My sincere apologies,” T-Bag mumbles through a mouthful of food. He swallows, dropping the knife into the sink.

LJ shrugs, putting the orange juice back into the refrigerator. “It’s okay. Are Michael and Lincoln awake?”

T-Bag shakes his head, licking jam off his thumb. “Last I saw, they were still asleep. They always sleep in the same bed?”

“Yeah,” says LJ, nodding. “You got…” He points at his face. T-Bag touches his chin, his fingers bumping into a glob of jam. “Right there, yeah.”

T-Bag places the bagel onto the counter. LJ’s eyes flick to the food, then back up to T-Bag, who steps closer and tilts his head to the left. “Lick it off.” A strange, garbled noise leaks from LJ’s throat. He leans backwards, but stops when he bumps into the kitchen table. T-Bag rests his hands on LJ’s abdomen, his fingers pressing gently into the boy’s hips, and whispers, “C’mon, boy. Lick it off. Ain’t gonna hurt you.”

“No thanks,” says LJ, his mouth curving into an uncomfortable smile. T-Bag watches the boy’s throat move in an edgy swallow, then reach behind to produce a napkin. He dangles it in front of T-Bag’s face. “This will probably do better.”

T-Bag’s eyes flick from the paper napkin to LJ’s reddening cheeks. It would be lovely to feel LJ’s tentative tongue on his skin, but T-Bag knows that the boy would tell Burrows, who doesn’t need another reason to kick T-Bag out. Heaving a sigh, T-Bag snatches the napkin and wipes at his face. LJ visibly relaxes, and pushes T-Bag’s hands away.

“If you insist,” says T-Bag in a sing-song voice, crumpling the napkin into a ball and leaving it on the floor. He stands up and rumples LJ’s hair, which is unkempt from sleep and lack of a comb. LJ ducks his head, the uneasy grin still on his lips. “I still got my eye on you, though.”

“But I’m illegal,” LJ points out.

T-Bag snorts. That’s never stopped him.

LJ opens his mouth, but stops to cough. The blush hasn’t faded. “Maybe you should go back to trying to get into Michael’s pants,” LJ suggests timidly.

“When did you get so impertinent?” T-Bag wonders, turning on the faucet to wash his hands. LJ doesn’t reply, but T-Bag can hear him chuckling. “I think I’ll go awake your daddy and your uncle. I wanna know what’s happenin’ today.”

“Wake up Michael first, because Dad will punch you if you’re the first thing he sees in the morning,” LJ warns, scooping the discarded napkin off the floor and dropping it into the trash can.

T-Bag grins. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

He walks into the corridor, his steps careful and slow. If the brothers are already awake, he wants to hear them talking. As he approaches Burrows and Scofield’s bedroom, T-Bag flattens himself against the wall and listens. There’s muffled voices, and he steps closer to the doorway.

“What are we going to do?” Scofield is saying. There’s a faint sound that sounds like a dresser drawer shutting. “He knows where to find us, so we can’t just throw him onto the street again.”

“I know. Really, I have no idea what to do.”

“We’ll have to figure it out sooner or later, because we can’t take him with us.”

“You think I want that pervert to spend more time with us and LJ?”

“You think he was telling the truth about not touching him?”

“LJ swears that he didn’t. He said that all T-Bag did was…flirt a little, and that the pedophile was nice to him most of the time.”

Suppose this would be a good time to enter the conversation. T-Bag pushes himself off the wall steps into the bedroom, announcing, “Actually, it was more than a little.” It’s a warm but bare room, with a large bed, a dresser, and a side table as the only furnishings. Scofield and Burrows are standing on opposite sides of the bed. “Besides, I think he liked it.”

“Shut up,” snaps Burrows. He turns his back on T-Bag, pressing a button on the alarm clock. “And stay quiet.”

“Or what? You goin’ to throw me out?”

“Keep pushing your luck, T-Bag,” Scofield warns, fiddling with his tie. He’s wearing the same outfit from yesterday. “You’re very close to being kicked out.”

T-Bag strides across the room to Burrows, and taps him on the shoulder. Burrows whirls around, his hands curling into fists. “LJ’s tellin’ the truth. I didn’t touch him — his bare skin, at least.”

“What the hell did you do to LJ?”

“You wanna know what I did to your boy?” T-Bag whispers, tilting his head to the side. He and Burrows are uncomfortably close now; he can feel Burrows’ breath on his skin. “I pinned him against a dumpster and held a shank to his throat — look under his chin, there’s a little cut there. I threatened him with death, torture, and rape. See these hands?” He lifts his hands for emphasis, wiggling his fingers. “The tips of my fingers were down LJ’s jeans. In fact, this hand touched his — ”

“You — you pervert!” Burrows snarls, grabbing T-Bag by the neck and shoving him against the wall. The side table pokes into the back of T-Bag’s knees, but he grins and endures the sting of pain just to see the chaotic, livid look on Burrows’ scarlet face. Scofield remains on the other side of the bed, looking half-ready to jump up and yank his brother back. “I should just kill you right — ”

“And what are you gonna tell LJ?” T-Bag cuts in. “Gonna tell him that his daddy’s a murderer? And what would you do with my body? Cops find it, they’ll CSI my lifeless ass until they can find somethin’ to link me to you and your good-lookin’ brother. You ready to go back to the chair, Sink?”

“Maybe I could make sure the body doesn’t show up,” Burrows retorts, his fingers tightening.

T-Bag snorts. As if Burrows knows people who could do that. “How long do you think that’ll last?”

“What’s going on?”

It’s LJ. The pressure on T-Bag’s throat immediately lessens.

“Lincoln, let him go,” says Scofield quietly. Burrows grits his teeth together, although he lets T-Bag go with a shove. T-Bag’s elbow hits the clock, but luckily, it only smarts for a moment. “Morning, LJ.”

“Hi, Mike. Dad, what are we doing today?”

“I don’t know,” Burrows answers. He looks at Scofield. “What are we doing?”

“And what about Panama?” T-Bag adds, rubbing his sore elbow. He takes a seat on the bed, drawing one knee to his chest. Resting his chin on the knee, he continues, “I thought that’s where you and your brother were goin’.”

“That trip’s delayed,” says Scofield tersely. He reaches into his pocket, producing a small, leather-bound book that fits into the palm of his hand, and begins thumbing through it. T-Bag can see what looks like phone numbers and initials, and he sighs inwardly. Stupid, stupid man. Never write anything down. That’ll just give the cops more to work with if they’re discovered. “We have more stuff to do in the U.S. You’re welcome to leave, of course.”

“Gonna figure out that conspiracy?” asks T-Bag, giving a few extra syllables to the last word. He grins when Scofield and Burrows do a double-take.

“Did you tell him?” Burrows questions LJ, who has moved from the doorway to the floor by the dresser.

“Who cares if he told me or not?” says T-Bag, gripping the sides of his head and cracking his neck. The sound makes Scofield flinch. “How you think you can prove somebody else killed him when you’re on the run now, Burrows? And when it’s all finished, you’ll go back to jail, Scofield, for robbin’ that bank.”

Burrows ignores him. “Did you, LJ?”

“Yeah,” LJ answers, crossing his legs. He leans his head against the dresser, glancing up at his father. “He wanted to know.”

“Well, fuck,” Burrows spits, the vein in his forehead beginning to throb. T-Bag drops to his stomach on the bed, watching the family with an almost adolescent bubble in his belly. This’ll be a good show. “Now the pedophile knows more. Perfect.”

“I’m sorry, but — ”

Scofield cuts in, “Lincoln, it wasn’t his fault.”

“ — I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to.” LJ’s voice is frantic and near hysterical with teenaged cracks on arbitrary words. “I was just trying to stay alive and get to you — ”

“I know you were, LJ, but in the future, don’t tell that pervert anything more than he needs to know,” says Burrows sharply, raising his finger to emphasize the point. “The more he knows, the more he can blackmail us with. I don’t want him with us when we leave the country. Do you?”

LJ opens his mouth, but he doesn’t answer. T-Bag grins, running his tongue along the inside of his lower lip.

“That’s an unfair question, Lincoln,” says Scofield gently. He’s still standing on the other side of the bed. “LJ’s been through a lot.”

“It’s not a tough question!” Burrows exclaims. The vein has a steady rhythm now. “Would you want a pervert to go with you, your brother, and your teenaged son to a foreign country to live in hiding for the rest of your life? Because I wouldn’t!” Burrows whirls around to face T-Bag. “What the hell did you infect him with?”

T-Bag props himself up on his elbows. “I’m untainted, actually. My pipes are squeaky clean.”

Burrows retorts, “How is that possible?”

“Maybe that’s because most of the people he’s had sex with were virgins,” LJ offers. He’s uncrossed his legs, and now has his feet planted on the ground and his arms resting on top of his knees. “Or they’re young enough to have been frightened into all condoms, all the time. Not that that condoms are a bad thing, of course,” he adds hastily.

“We are not going to discuss T-Bag’s condom habits,” Scofield states. He rubs at the side of his face, which has the beginnings of stubble. “I have to make a phone call.”

“I’ll start breakfast,” Burrows mutters, and leaves the bedroom without another word. LJ bites his lip, his eyes wide and slightly damp. Scofield fails to notice, as his back is turned and he’s leaving the room. T-Bag hears the front door open and close; Scofield must be going to use a payphone.

“C’mon, boy,” says T-Bag, sliding off the bed and tapping one of LJ’s legs. He offers his hand. “We’ll watch infomercials on gym equipment while the grown-ups do grown-up things.”

LJ exhales heavily through his nose in an exasperated snort, but accepts T-Bag’s hand and is yanked to his feet. He brushes dust off the back of his jeans and leads the way into the living room, which is furnished with an armchair, a sofa that faces a television, and two lamps in opposite corners. LJ collapses onto the sofa, reaches for the remote control, and turns on the TV. It’s such an elegant movement that only a teenager could do it, T-Bag muses, and takes a seat next to LJ.

“News should be on now,” T-Bag remarks. He slouches down in the couch, stretching his legs across the floor. He rests his linked fingers on his lower belly, watching LJ out of the corner of his eyes. “Think they know where we are?”

“Hope not,” LJ answers, pointing the remote control at the television and pressing a few buttons. The screen changes to a blonde woman sitting behind a desk, a visual hanging above her right shoulder and a stack of papers in his hand. LJ leans forward almost involuntarily, his eyes focusing deeply on the woman. “Shh.”

“I ain’t talkin’,” T-Bag mutters, but he chews on his lower lip and watches the TV.

“As we all know, the city of Chicago has been working hard to find the six prisoners that escaped from Fox River last week,” the woman begins, and the image above her shoulder changes to a picture of the prison.

“Guess we picked the right time to turn on the TV, huh?” T-Bag whispers out of the side of his mouth. LJ shushes.

“In case you are new to the area and aren’t aware of this piece of news — ” The screen changes to six pictures of the escapees, two by three, against a black background. As the woman speaks, the pictures zoom out towards the camera. “ — these are the fugitives: Theodore ‘T-Bag’ Bagwell, Lincoln ‘Sink’ Burrows, Benjamin ‘C-Note’ Franklin, Michael Scofield, Fernando Sucre, and Charles Westmoreland. Of the six, Bagwell is considered the most dangerous.”

LJ murmurs, “Well done,” and T-Bag chuckles.

“His extensive history includes the rape and murder of both children and adults, and police suspect him to be armed. Police also expect Burrows, a death-row inmate convicted for the murder of the vice president’s brother, to be traveling with his brother, Scofield.” The screen returns to the blonde woman. “If you know of the whereabouts of these six fugitives, please contact the proper authorities. In unrelated news…”

LJ turns down the volume and turns to T-Bag. “Well, they don’t know where we are. If they did, she would have said something like, ‘police are uncertain of the exact location of these fugitives, but they have several leads to follow.’”

“Guess so,” T-Bag agrees. He tucks his hands behind his neck, tilting his head back towards the ceiling. “Suppose we’re safe for now.”

LJ snorts. “We’re never safe.”

The front door crashes open, and there’s the sound of quick footsteps. T-Bag looks into the kitchen. Scofield is there, his forehead beaded with sweat. “Lincoln, there’s a problem.”

“What is it?”

“Yeah, what’s the dilemma?” T-Bag asks.

LJ jumps to his feet, eyes blinking and fingers flexing absent-mindedly. “Dad, what’s wrong?”

“Hang on.” After the clattering of a pan from inside the kitchen, Burrows and Scofield hurry into the living room. Burrows is wearing an apron and holding a spatula, which triggers a giggle that T-Bag has to stifle into his cupped palm. “Michael, tell us what it is.”

“Veronica isn’t picking up,” explains Scofield, his eyes flicking to the floor as he steps further into the room, pausing at the sofa. “We were supposed to talk today. She knew the time.” His words are frenzied and hasty. “But nobody’s picking up.”

Burrows has no answer, but his grip on the spatula tightens. Scofield inhales deeply, his eyes squeezing shut.

“You need to relax. Let Teddy take care of you,” T-Bag coos, darting off the sofa and stepping behind the Pretty. He slides his hands up Scofield’s back, kneading his knuckles into the tense muscles underneath until Burrows seizes him by the back of the neck, as though T-Bag is a cat, and hisses, “Hands off my brother, freak.”

“What are we going to do?” asks LJ, dropping onto the armchair and pulling his knees to his chest. “Are you sure it was the right number?”

“Yes,” says Scofield swiftly, pressing his fingers into his temples. He closes his eyes, then continues, “I called it five times. She’s not picking up.”

“What about Nick?” Burrows persists. He’s still holding T-Bag’s neck, which is getting to be a little uncomfortable. Scofield shakes his head. “Same number?”

“Yes.” Scofield begins pacing the width of the room, his hands still gripping the sides of his head. “Has somebody gotten to her?”

Burrows curses and lets loose of T-Bag, who stumbles forward onto his knees on top of the couch. “She shouldn’t have gone on the news…She and Nick should have just stayed in hiding…”

“Little hard to fight a big, government plot when you got your tail tucked between your legs,” T-Bag offers, watching Scofield pace. He rests his forearms on top of the couch. “Stop callin’ the number. If somebody’s got her, then there’s somebody watchin’ that phone line. They’ll notice if there’s more than one phone call from one payphone.”

“Shut up,” snaps Burrows, smacking the back of T-Bag’s head. “Michael, are you absolutely sure — ”

Yes!” Scofield stops pacing and drops his hands to his sides, fingers twisting. “I’m sure!”

“Uncle Mike — ” LJ starts, but Scofield glares warningly and holds up his palm. LJ closes his mouth.

“I’m going for a walk,” Scofield announces. He points a finger at Burrows. “Make sure everyone stays quiet, and don’t answer the door unless it’s me.”

“Michael — ”

“I’m going for a walk,” Scofield repeats, cutting his brother off. He marches out of the room, and a few seconds later, the door opens and closes.

“Shit,” Burrows mutters, and trudges into the kitchen.

*

Twenty minutes later, T-Bag and LJ are sitting at the table in an uncomfortably quiet kitchen. Burrows is standing over the stove, a spatula in hand. His posture is rigid and unmoving, and T-Bag can tell that both he and LJ are worried. T-Bag isn’t, though. He knows that Scofield is too smart to do something stupid.

“What is with the Burrows family and blueberries?” T-Bag asks, breaking the silence. He dips a portion of pancake, sans fork, into syrup. “You makin’ us blueberry pancakes, LJ gettin’ all teary-eyed over a blueberry muffin — ”

“Shut up and eat,” Burrows interrupts, dumping two more pancakes onto the center plate. LJ seizes them both, but T-Bag slips one off the boy’s plate when LJ turns to the side to cough. Burrows lobs his apron into T-Bag’s face (LJ snorts), and threatens, “Maybe I should throw you onto the street.”

“You wouldn’t do that to little ol’ me.”

“We don’t need you, after all. You don’t have LJ anymore,” Burrows continues, pulling the free chair out and taking a seat. “You can’t sing without going back to Fox River, where you’ll probably get the death penalty because you kidnapped LJ.”

“I could make an anonymous phone call,” says T-Bag, pushing his plate towards the center of the table. “Or I could make a deal with the Feds.” He stands, scooping up LJ’s glass and downing the rest of the orange juice. LJ expresses a soundless protest. “You see, Burrows, I’ve always got insurance. There ain’t anythin’ you can do that I can’t find a loophole — ”

A siren whizzes by on the street outside, halting all conversation. LJ’s eyes flick from Burrows to T-Bag, his hands flat on the table. Burrows’ hand goes to his hip, and T-Bag spies a dark handgun in a leather holster. How long has that been there? Do Scofield and LJ know about it?

The siren fades into the distance, and everybody visibly relaxes. Burrows’ hand returns to the table, his shirt covering up the gun. “I can still toss you out, T-Bag.”

“Go ahead and try, Sink.”

Burrows stands and drops his plate into the sink. The tips of his ears are scarlet, and the vein’s rhythm has started up again. “LJ, can you do the dishes for me?”

“Yup,” LJ answers, watching his father leave the room. The door to Burrows’ and Scofield’s room shuts.

“You know, I sometimes get the feeling he don’t appreciate me too much,” T-Bag remarks, spinning Burrows’ abandoned chair around and straddles the seat, resting his arms on the back.

LJ chuckles. He reaches for the carton of orange juice and refills his glass. “I wonder where you got that idea.”

T-Bag scratches the back of his neck. “You think he and your uncle’ll throw me out?”

LJ shrugs, taking a sip of orange juice. “They might, if you keep pushing my dad’s buttons like — ”

T-Bag buts in, “His buttons are so corpulent, it’s hard not to push ‘em, diminutive Pretty.”

“ — that, but they could keep you. I know they don’t want to admit it, but you have more connections than they do. I mean, my dad is a criminal, but he isn’t as bad as you are.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” says T-Bag, grinning. LJ finishes his orange juice and arises, stacking the remaining plates and glasses. “You need help, boy?”

LJ shakes his head. He scrapes the leftover pancakes into the trash, then turns on the faucet. He scrubs soap on the dirty plates, continuing, “Anyway, you know more people on the outside. Michael didn’t have many close friends, and most of Dad’s are either in jail or dead.” LJ rinses off the plates and places them back in the cupboard. He dries his hands on a towel, keeping his back to T-Bag. “Even though you did threaten me with death, torture, and possible molestation, you could get us another hiding place. You couldn’t when you were alone, but if you have a phone and people to help you, you could find another place, out of Chicago. They don’t want to see an opportunity like that get away. And then there’s the chance you might rat us out, of course.”

T-Bag grins again. LJ’s such a smart boy. It’s fascinating to watch his mind work. “True, true. You don’t mind if I come along with your little getaway?”

“You’re not that bad,” LJ admits, turning around. “You scare me, yes, but you’re good conversation material.”

“Told you this ain’t too bad…” T-Bag’s voice drifts off. Something’s wrong.

“What?”

T-Bag sniffs the air. Dropping his voice to a whisper, he asks, “Your daddy still smoke?”

“He’s been going on and off, but I think he’s off now,” LJ answers softly. Smart boy. Understanding the need to be quieter. “Why?”

“Smells like cigarettes.” T-Bag rises from his chair, pulling open drawers until he finds the knives. He grips a butcher knife into a hand, and LJ instinctively takes a step back. “This ain’t for you, diminutive Pretty, it’s for whoever’s smokin’.” He sniffs the air again, slipping the knife into a more comfortable position in his palm. There are no cartons of cigarettes in the apartment, and T-Bag remembers Burrows trying to quit smoking when he was in A-Wing, so it’s likely that it isn’t Burrows. It might be Scofield returning from his walk, but does Scofield smoke? No. But maybe… “What about your uncle?”

LJ shrugs. “My dad made sure that Michael stayed away from everything when he was a kid, including cigarettes, but I don’t know if he picked it up as an adult. Did he smoke at Fox River?”

“I can’t remember.” T-Bag tiptoes across the kitchen floor, treading carefully. “Stay here.” He continues walking until he reaches the foyer. The cigarette smell is most perceptible here, and T-Bag extends his arm, pointing the knife towards the closed door.

The person on the other side of the door fumbles with the doorknob. There are no other muffled noises, so T-Bag assumes it’s a single person. He licks his lips and adjusts his weight, bending slightly at the knees. He’s ready.

The door swings open. Scofield steps inside, following by a cloud of smoke. A lit cigarette dangles from the corner of his mouth, and there’s a fresh pack poking out of his front pocket. He stands in the open doorway and stares at the knife in T-Bag’s hand. “What the hell are you doing?”

T-Bag drops his arm to his side, the tip of the knife touching his knee. “Smelled that. Since when do you smoke, Pretty?”

Scofield holds the cigarette between thumb and forefinger and exhales, shutting the door with his foot. “Since Lincoln got the death penalty. Where are LJ and Lincoln?”

“Kitchen and bedroom, respectfully.” T-Bag points over his shoulder with the hand holding the knife. Scofield pushes past him. T-Bag follows the Pretty into the kitchen, where LJ is still standing by the counter.

“Are you okay?” LJ asks, touching his uncle’s shoulder. Scofield nods and tosses the cigarette into the sink. “Sure?”

“I needed some time alone,” says Scofield. He rubs at his eyes. “We have bigger problems, though.”

LJ bites his lip. “What is it now?”

“While I was out, I called Anthony — he was one of Abruzzi’s guys on the outside — and he said that we aren’t getting a plane without Abruzzi’s explicit permission. Said that he couldn’t risk it. His daughter is graduating from high school next year, and he wants her to go to college with her daddy on the outside.”

“Maybe he needs a little persuasion,” T-Bag suggests, fingering the blade of the knife. “I could make a visit to his family, get rid of the daughter.”

“No,” Scofield replies at once. “Too many people have already died. A teenaged girl doesn’t need to be added to the mix.”

T-Bag tucks the knife back into the drawer. “I wouldn’t have a problem with it, Pretty.”

“Who’s Abruzzi?” LJ asks, hoisting himself up onto the counter. “I think Dad mentioned him a few times, but I don’t remember anything about him.”

“Mob boss that was in for life without parole,” Scofield explains. “He was going to make us disappear once we were free, but somebody slit his throat. He’s in intensive care at a hospital in Chicago.”

T-Bag hides a smirk. It’s been tough not to brag that he was the one who cut John, but he knows not to say anything. Not only would the mob be livid, but Scofield would be, too. It’s better to pretend that the mafia had done it.

“Oh.” LJ swings his feet aimlessly, fingers squeezing the edge of the counter. “So, we aren’t getting out of the country without this plane?”

“There are other ways,” T-Bag points out. “I got some boys down south that could put us on a boat, if you and your brother can get me out of the state.”

“I trust Abruzzi far more than you.” Scofield reaches for another cigarette, producing a packet of matches at the same time. “I have to go talk to Lincoln and decide what to do. Don’t make any unnecessary noises, okay?”

LJ and T-Bag nod. Scofield lights the cigarette and hands the match to LJ, who drops it into the sink. Scofield strides away.

“He seems calmer,” T-Bag remarks once Scofield is out of earshot.

LJ slips off the counter. “The nicotine helped.”

*

By noon, Scofield and Burrows are still talking. T-Bag and LJ have been in the living room during the brother’s deliberation, flipping between the news and cartoons. Neither has produced stirring discussion, so the two have been sitting in silence, with LJ in the armchair and T-Bag lying on the couch. There are water bottles and Chex Mix bags scattered across the floor.

Once SpongeBob breaks for commercial, LJ coughs. “You’ve killed people, haven’t you?”

T-Bag stretches out his legs, his ankles crossed. He folds his arms across his chest, rolling his eyes back into his head so he can see LJ. The boy fidgets in his chair, scratching the side of his neck and flicking his gaze from T-Bag to the floor. “You know I have.”

LJ’s mouth warps, and he sucks his upper lip inside. “I pushed a man into a well.”

“He dead?” T-Bag asks, fingertips tapping against the side of his torso. The way LJ’s acting, the poor boy’s probably been wanting to spill this for awhile.

“Probably.”

T-Bag reaches his right arm behind him, grasping blindly in the air. He touches LJ’s wrist and moves to the hand, linking their fingers together in a limp handshake. “Congratulations. You’ve committed murder.”

“It was self-defense, though,” LJ points out, tugging his hand back. T-Bag rolls over onto his side, his right arm still dangling off the side of the couch.

“Murder is murder,” says T-Bag sharply, reaching for a water bottle. He gulps down the rest of the water, and, wiping the excess liquid off his mouth, continues, “Whether you kill a man ‘cause he’s tryin’ to kill you or ‘cause he fucked your girlfriend, it’s murder.”

“You killed someone because he slept with your girlfriend?” says LJ skeptically, resting his elbows on his knees and leaning forward. He grips his hands together, plucking at the dry skin on his lower lip with his thumbnails. T-Bag shakes his head, and LJ says, “I didn’t think you would have a girlfriend, anyway.”

T-Bag drops the water bottle. The noise makes LJ flinch. “What makes you say that?”

“You asked me to lick jam off your chin this morning.” When T-Bag shrugs, LJ makes an exasperated sound and shakes his head. “And you told me that you jerk off to Michael, who is a guy.”

“You tellin’ me I’m gay?” T-Bag asks softly, fixing a hard glance on LJ. The boy looks away.

“Well, all signs point to it, yeah.”

“I ain’t,” says T-Bag, rubbing the side of his nose with a thumb.

“So then why do you…” LJ begins, and pauses. He finishes the rest of his sentence with an ambiguous hand gesture.

“I like boys and girls of all shapes and sizes,” T-Bag drawls, slinking off the couch to his feet. He stretches his arms above his head, cracking his wrists.

“So you’re bi.”

“You keep tellin’ me what I am, I’m goin’ to have to — ” The sound of the bedroom door opening cuts off T-Bag’s voice. He drops his arms, calling out, “You boys all done?”

Scofield and Burrows file into the living room, the former without a cigarette. Burrows clears his throat. “Michael and I have come up with a few ideas.”

“I’m delighted that you’ve decided to share them with the class,” T-Bag retorts, folding his arms across his chest.

“We can keep trying to call Veronica and Nick,” Burrows continues, ignoring T-Bag. “If we can find them, then we could ask one of them to get to Abruzzi, who can hopefully contact Anthony and get the plane ready.”

“It would be Veronica,” Scofield adds. “Abruzzi knows what she looks like.”

“The second option is to keep pushing Anthony to give us the plane. That would get us out of the United States quicker, but I don’t think he’ll do anything unless Abruzzi says so.” Burrows heaves a sigh. “Or, we could travel down south and have T-Bag’s boys get us on a boat. There’s the risk of getting caught at state lines, which are probably being closely guarded.”

“Or we can stay here and wait for Abruzzi to get out of the hospital,” Scofield finishes.

Burrows takes a seat on the arm of the couch. “I think we should keep pushing Anthony. We need to get out now. Veronica and Nick can get protection without us, and the more time we spend here, the more we endanger us and them.”

“But Anthony might not give in,” LJ points out. “Why don’t we keep calling Veronica? Maybe she just couldn’t get to that phone, or she forgot the time. And what about Nick’s office?”

“Those lines are probably tapped,” says T-Bag, rocking back on his heels. “If the Feds know about this Nick’s association with Burrows and Scofield, then they’re watchin’ his house, his office, and his family. I say we travel to my hometown.”

“Where is this ‘we’ coming from, T-Bag?” Burrows asks, although it sounds more like a demand. He drums his fingers along his kneecaps, continuing, “For all you know, you’re being left out of this.”

“And for all you know, I’m ready to make a deal with the Feds,” T-Bag shoots back. “I can tell them where you are, where your brother is, where your son is — ”

LJ buts in, “Let’s not get into this again. Please.”

“Yes. Lincoln, T-Bag’s coming with us, whether we like it or not,” Scofield chimes in. He’s taken a seat on the couch beside his brother. “There’s nothing we could do.”

“I could kill him.” As Burrows speaks, T-Bag can see his hand itching towards his hip. “I’ll do it, Michael. I swear to God, I’ll do it.”

T-Bag can hear LJ murmur, “Christ, Dad.”

“I’ll do it,” Burrows repeats, as though if he says it enough, it’ll come true.

T-Bag extends his arms in a mock invitation for an embrace, beckoning Burrows. “Go on then, Sink. Kill me, in front of your brother and your pretty little son. Shoot me with that manly pistol sittin’ on your hip.”

After T-Bag speaks, several things happen at once. LJ’s eyes nearly widen out of his skull, and he shrieks, “You have a gun?” Scofield watches his brother warily, and T-Bag knows that they’re having a silent conversation with their eyes. Burrows’ hand slides onto his hip, but Scofield grabs his arm and hisses, “Don’t.”

“Dad, don’t,” LJ insists.

“Don’t listen to ‘em, Burrows, just shoot me. You’d like to, wouldn’t you? You’d like to pull the trigger. Let’s see how loud I can sing once you do, huh?”

“T-Bag, you’re not helping,” Scofield barks, his fingers tightening on his brother’s arm. “Lincoln — ”

“Dad, don’t do that, please — ”

“Shoot me! What are you, a pussy? A queer?”

“Dad — ”

“You ain’t got the stones to kill the man that’s fondled your boy — ”

“I knew it!” LJ interrupts. “‘Just watchin’ you sleep, is all.’ I knew that was bullshit.”

“ — do you? Coward.”

Burrows pushes himself off the couch, but Scofield lunges for him. T-Bag leaps to the side, out of the way of the struggling brothers, and stands beside LJ’s chair. Eventually, Scofield is victorious, and the handgun hangs loosely from his fingers by his side. Burrows, his face red and furious, breathes heavily and glares at Scofield.

“You aren’t going to use this,” says Scofield gently, ejecting the clip. He tosses the unloaded gun onto the sofa. “If you kill him — ”

“Nobody is going to take pity on that piece of trash,” Burrows spits, pointing at T-Bag. “And step away from my son!”

T-Bag rests his hand on LJ’s head, splaying his fingers across the boy’s scalp. He can feel the skin underneath quiver, and he brushes the shell of LJ’s ear with his thumb, eyes on Burrows the entire time. “Boy likes me.”

“You’re not helping,” LJ murmurs, ducking his head out of T-Bag’s touch.

“You’re not,” Scofield agrees. “Look. This isn’t going spectacularly well, as was expected. But both of you are not making this any easier. Let’s just work this out until we’re out of the country and safe, okay? Let’s just try and keep this pleasant.”

“Says the man who threw a tantrum and had to suck down some nicotine to make himself feel better,” mutters T-Bag.

Disregarding T-Bag’s comment, Scofield continues, “So. What should we do?”

“I think we should try to find Veronica,” says LJ, leaning back into the armchair. “For the rest of the day, at least. I mean, she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She probably forgot the time.”

“Agreed,” T-Bag concurs. He’s still watching Burrows, who hasn’t moved since Scofield took the gun away. “She can talk to John.” For T-Bag, that’s a bad idea, because John’ll surely rat T-Bag out the moment he’s awake. But T-Bag has enough blackmail to stay in Scofield’s good graces. (He hopes, anyway.) “Maybe pretend to be his attorney.”

Scofield turns to Burrows. “Lincoln?” After a tense moment, Burrows nods. “Okay. That’s what we’ll do. I’ll keep calling Veronica.”

Burrows clears his throat. “LJ, can we talk?”

“Yeah, of course,” says LJ straight away, leaping off the armchair and following Burrows into the corridor. Scofield is heading for the payphone again.

T-Bag settles back onto the sofa and reaches for the Chex Mix. SpongeBob is back on.

*

Dinner is an awkward affair. T-Bag doesn’t quite know what LJ and Burrows had spoken about, but he assumes it had something to do with the birds and the bees and how to never let those Southern gentlemen touch you in your no-no place. LJ keeps his eyes on his food, and Burrows keeps glaring at T-Bag. (Well, the latter isn’t incongruous, now that T-Bag thinks about it.) At least the meal is good. Pasta, salad, rolls, and a beer. Superb.

It turns out that Veronica had remembered the time of the phone call, but the battery in her cell phone had died. Scofield says that the girl has agreed to talk to John once the man wakes up, and the guy named Nick is doing fine. This evidently makes LJ and Burrows happier, but T-Bag is indifferent. He doesn’t really know the people, after all. He just wants to get the hell out of the United States.

According to Burrows, the group may be moving to a different location. Burrows insists that they should keep moving, that every day they spend in this apartment is another day the police can find them. Scofield keeps claiming that the apartment is safe, but since it’s Burrows that’s suggesting change, T-Bag imagines that they’ll all be moving someplace different by tomorrow or the next day.

Once dinner is over, T-Bag returns to the couch. There’s a Saturday Night Live marathon on (old episodes, from the late eighties and early nineties), which he watches until the remote control falls from his hand and he’s snoring.

*

T-Bag wakes up to the grumble of thunder and the split-second crack of lightening. Rain collides with the closed windows, and through the pale curtains, he can see the rivulets of water leaking down the glass. As his eyes adjust to the darkness, T-Bag realizes that his bladder is all but shrieking for relief. Muttering curses underneath his breath, he pushes the blanket off his body and swings his legs over the side of the couch. The floor is cold under his bare feet as he walks into the bathroom, glancing at the clock on the way out. At the toilet, T-Bag unzips and rests his palm against the wall. He shifts his weight as he urinates, listening to the sound of his piss hitting the water in the bowl.

The door opens, and T-Bag jolts in surprise. He tucks himself back into his pants, turning to face the doorway. LJ is standing there with one hand on the doorknob and the other on the wall.

“Hello, diminutive Pretty,” T-Bag greets in a hasty whisper, saluting LJ as he walks to the sink. “What’re you doin’ here?”

“I had to piss.” LJ lingers by the door, but when T-Bag gestures for him to come inside, he does, shutting the door behind him. “What time is it?”

“Dunno,” T-Bag answers, even though he knows it’s half past two, and continues to wash his hands vehemently underneath the warm water. (The soap always gets snared in between his fingers.) He dries his palms on a hand towel, watching LJ over his shoulder. The boy is taking a piss, but T-Bag would have to move to see LJ’s cock. “You been sleepin’ well?”

“Yeah.”

T-Bag strains his ears over LJ’s hushed voice. Burrows is still snoring, and Scofield won’t be up for another three hours or so. T-Bag licks the pad of his thumb idly and sniffs, watching the curve of LJ’s back as the boy leans forward to flush the toilet. This is flawless. It’s night, the boy’s half-asleep, and the brothers won’t even wake up. T-Bag can have some fun, at last, after being with this beautiful and untouched (well, he assumes the boy is a virgin, at least) for these past few days. He’s been wanting this ever since he pinned LJ to a dumpster and whispered threats in his ear. Once T-Bag has that idea in his mind, he can’t stop thinking about it, after all.

Once LJ turns around, T-Bag pounces. He slumps against LJ’s chest, arms draped over the boy’s shoulders. The sudden weight causes LJ to stumble backwards against the wall, the back of one knee pressed into the toilet, and T-Bag giggles when his chin hits LJ’s collarbone. He nuzzles the warm skin of LJ’s neck, his hand dipping inside the boy’s pants, and murmurs, “C’mere, little boy, give us a taste.”

LJ pushes T-Bag’s hand away, cheeks crimsoning. “Whoa, whoa — ”

T-Bag squeezes LJ’s throat with the insides of his elbows. The boy chokes and tries to raise his hands in defense, but T-Bag knees LJ in the groin. LJ groans, his eyes blinking briskly and his hands hanging by his side. T-Bag takes advantage of the moment to pin LJ against the wall more effectively, straightening his posture and forcing LJ down a few inches. He curls one hand around the boy’s white throat and places the other on LJ’s chest. “Don’t make this any harder than it needs to be, boy. Let me have my fun, and you’ll go back to your bed unharmed. You’ll like it, I promise…”

“I’ll scream,” LJ threatens, his voice edgy and soft. His eyes are wet and wide, but he stares at T-Bag defiantly, tonguing the inside of his bottom lip. T-Bag drops his hand back towards LJ’s pants, fingertips touching the clothed skin of the boy’s belly.

“Baby, I like it when they scream,” T-Bag whispers, catching the skin of LJ’s earlobe in his teeth. He bites down delicately, grinning when LJ gasps. “Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna hurt you. And I am clean. The good doctor at Fox River had me tested every month to make sure I didn’t catch anythin’.” He lets go of LJ’s earlobe and kisses the boy’s jaw. “And you will like it. Trust me, diminutive Pretty.”

LJ shudders, shrinking away from T-Bag’s mouth. “Don’t call me that.”

“You don’t like your moniker?” T-Bag unbuttons LJ’s jeans, the brass of the button icy on his fingers. He rests his forehead against LJ’s, so that when either of them speak, their lips graze against one another. LJ’s breath is sticky and warm, and he flicks his eyes to the floor. T-Bag brings his hand up to LJ’s chin and squeezes. “Look at me, boy. Why is that?”

LJ swallows, almost unconsciously. “You call Michael Pretty. It’s…weird if you call me ‘little Michael.’”

“You are my little Michael, diminutive Pretty,” T-Bag breathes, dropping LJ’s chin and cupping his face in both hands. He brushes his thumbs along the boy’s faultless cheekbones. “He ain’t gonna sink to his knees, is he? But you would, wouldn’t you?” LJ’s mouth twists into a reluctant smile that’s half-amused and half-terrified. Cautiously, he lifts his hands and swathes T-Bag’s wrists with his fingers. He tugs down, but T-Bag clasps LJ’s face tighter. “C’mon, little boy. It ain’t tricky.” LJ opens his mouth to speak, and T-Bag cuts in, “That’s right. Just open your mouth and don’t use teeth.”

“No, no, I’m not going to — ”

“Yes.” T-Bag chews on his tongue for a moment, then unfastens his jeans. LJ’s gaze drops to the blatant bulge, and after the swift intake of breath from the boy, T-Bag continues, “Yes, you are.”

“This argument is going nowhere,” LJ points out. He has let go of T-Bag’s wrists, and his hands are now pressed flat against the wall. He carefully avoids looking downward. “Look, just let me go back to bed, and I won’t mention this to my dad in the morning.”

“You wound me,” says T-Bag, stealing a look down below LJ’s waist. It looks like the boy’s getting hard. Grinning, T-Bag forces his thigh in between LJ’s legs. The boy draws in a quick breath, and T-Bag’s grin broadens. He was right. “You would tattle on me?”

“Yeah, if it’ll keep your cock out of my mouth,” LJ snaps, grabbing T-Bag’s thigh in an attempt to push it off. T-Bag smacks his hand away. “What the — ”

“Now, I know it’s a natural human reaction that you, being a hormonal teenaged boy, are already relatively aware of,” T-Bag interjects, skimming his hands down to LJ’s wrists, holding the boy against the wall firmly. He kisses LJ’s forehead, and continues, “But I’m quite sure that if I were to nonchalantly shove my hands inside your drawers, I would find somethin’ to suggest that you do want my cock in your mouth.” LJ sputters unknown words of nonsense off his maladroit tongue, but he isn’t struggling against T-Bag’s restraints. In some bizarre way, the boy’s liking the attention (T-Bag knows he is), even if his speech implies otherwise. “Now, please, get to suckin’ before your daddy wakes up and ruins this whole thing.”

“What will you do if I don’t?”

T-Bag studies LJ meticulously, watching the boy’s eyes flick around anxiously and the steady crimsoning of his cheeks. He wants LJ badly, and he knows that the boy wouldn’t put up much of a fight if T-Bag held him down, but he can’t. It has to be consensual. If it is, then T-Bag can point his finger at LJ when Burrows confronts him.

“You can’t kill me, you can’t torture me,” LJ continues. “And if you were to force me, my dad would know and he would kick you out. You have no leverage.”

The boy has a point, which is dreadfully frustrating. LJ is too smart to give in to cogent suggestions, and he’s too old to keep his mouth shut. T-Bag has spent too much time in prison and not enough time in the real world, where people don’t always yield to violent threats. LJ has to be manipulated and directed towards what T-Bag wants.

“All right.” T-Bag releases LJ, shoving him against the wall vigorously in the process, and takes a step back. He buttons his pants back up. “Fine. You’re right. I got no pull. But — ” Here, he steps closer to LJ, pointing a finger to emphasize his point. “ — you remember this, diminutive Pretty, I’m the one that made you all hot and bothered. And I’ll gladly do it again.”

T-Bag stomps out of the bathroom, but he lingers beside the closed door. If he had given LJ the right motivation, then he should be hearing something…Ah, there it is. T-Bag’s a man, and he’s lived with men his entire life, so he knows that noise. The slap of skin on skin and the panted breath is a sound that’s he all too familiar with, and T-Bag smirks.

LJ has been properly provoked.

*

When T-Bag wakes up, Burrows is already busy in the kitchen. He hears the sizzle through the pillow that’s covering his ears, and, cracking one eye open, he swallows down the fuzz off his tongue. The unpleasant taste is still there, even after he smacks his lips. Sniffing and clearing his throat, T-Bag settles deeper into the sofa, tugging the blanket around his body. He’s way too tired to be awake.

Burrows’ voice interrupts T-Bag’s attempt to get back to sleep: “Wake up the pervert, will you, LJ?”

There’s a pause. It’s tiny, and Burrows probably didn’t catch it, but T-Bag did. “Do I have to?”

“Just go wake him up. Kick him if you have to, I don’t care.”

“Can’t you do it?”

“You’re a good kid, but you can’t cook for shit. You’ll burn the omelets.”

“Fine.”

T-Bag grins, fingers curling around the corner of the blanket. He lets his eyelids drift shut and opens his mouth an inch, arm dangling over the side of the sofa. There’s the sound of footsteps, then a quiet sigh. A bare foot nudges his wrist.

“Get up,” LJ orders, nudging again. “I know you’re not a light sleeper.”

“You know my sleepin’ patterns, diminutive Pretty?” T-Bag mutters, licking the corner of his mouth. He opens his eyes to see LJ’s expression, but there’s not much of a reaction, except for a few extra blinks of the boy’s eyes and another soft sigh.

“Breakfast is going to be ready soon,” says LJ. He reaches down, eyes on the floor, and tugs the blanket away. “C’mon.”

“All right, all right…” T-Bag pushes himself up to a seating position and rubs at his eyes, tilting his neck so that it cracks. He spreads his legs, leaning back into the couch, and skims his inner thigh with his fingertips. LJ’s eyes flick down, and he bites his bottom lip, looking into the kitchen. “Where’s your uncle?”

“Making a phone call,” LJ answers curtly. He folds his arms across his chest. “Come and eat breakfast.”

“Thought you said it was gonna be ready soon.” T-Bag rises to his feet, resting his palm on LJ’s shoulder. The boy recoils back, ducking his head. “I think, before breakfast, I’ll go into the bathroom, complete my mornin’ affairs.” He accompanies his words with a vulgar hand movement. When LJ’s breath catches in his throat, T-Bag pats the boy’s cheek tenderly and whispers in his ear, “You know what I mean?”

“Without a doubt,” says LJ faintly, shoving T-Bag’s hand away. He turns on his heel, hands in his pockets as he walks away. T-Bag grins again, and walks in the opposite direction, towards the bathroom. He still has the smile on his face while he takes a piss, reminding himself of the events of last night.

This manipulation is far more entertaining than holding LJ to the floor and fucking his virgin ass raw. More amusing, for one, and there are several more choices for coercion. This’ll last longer than most of T-Bag’s previous entertainments. He was right — he has spent too much time in prison. Too much time focusing on violence, and not the manipulation he had established as his specialty when he was younger. LJ’s vulnerable, like T-Bag likes them, and he’ll throw in the towel in due course.

When T-Bag returns to the kitchen, Scofield has come back from the payphone and is sitting beside LJ at the table. LJ keeps his eyes on the table and scratches the back of his neck, sucking his lips into his mouth. Burrows slips the omelettes off the pan onto plates and distributes them among the table.

“Everythin’ all safe?” T-Bag asks, grabbing the chair across from Scofield and taking a seat, resting his elbows on the table. “We ain’t gonna get caught by them law enforcement officials?”

“Not now,” answers Scofield, cutting a portion of the omelet with the side of his fork. In between chews, he continues, “Veronica says she hasn’t had any trouble, but just to be safe, we aren’t going to contact her or Nick for a few days. We won’t leave the apartment for those days, either.”

T-Bag slices his omelet into inch-long strips. In a high, singsong voice, he says, “Boring!”

“If you don’t like it, then you can leave,” Burrows retorts, then turns to Scofield. “Michael, should we start keeping a lookout?”

Scofield nods. “That would be good.”

*

T-Bag had been given the honor of first watch, as decided by Burrows, so he’s been sitting by the window for the past hour or two. LJ’s been watching TV with his father, flipping between assorted cartoons, while Scofield chose to take a nap.

“Found anything?”

“Not yet, Sink,” says T-Bag hoarsely, and clears his throat. He wipes at his mouth, and continues, “You gonna tell me when we switch?”

“Nah. I think you can keep watching for the next hour.”

Fifteen minutes later, a silver Volvo slows to a stop in front of the apartment building. T-Bag pulls the curtain back further, watching the vehicle. Two people are in the car, but nobody is coming out.

“Car,” T-Bag announces. He presses his cheek to the wall so that he can still see, but those outside can’t see him. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see LJ reach for Burrows. “It stopped in front of the building.” Their clasped hands rest on top of the sofa. T-Bag yanks his attention back to the car. No tinted windows, so maybe it’s not Feds or cops. Do Feds drive Volvos? “Nobody’s comin’ out yet, though. Wait, wait — door’s openin’…False alarm, boys. It’s a lady and her kid, carryin’ suitcases. Probably comin’ back from vacation.”

The room feels like it’s dropped twenty degrees with relief. T-Bag peeks outside again, curtain held between his index and middle finger, and nods. “Yup. Just lady and her kid. Mom’s got massive tits, they’re practically fallin’ out of her top. Good lookin’ kid, too, looks about eleven, maybe twelve — ”

“You can stop now,” Burrows cuts in. He squeezes LJ’s hand. “It’ll be okay, kid.”

“Maybe we should just get the hell out of here,” says LJ, rubbing the bottom of his palm into the skin under his eye. The subtle way to get rid of tears. “We aren’t getting any safer. Isn’t there somebody else? I could call Mickey, see if he knows anyone.”

“You’re not going anywhere near that scum fuck,” spits Burrows. “Besides, he’d call the cops the second you contacted him. He has Narcotic cops so far up his ass right now he’d suck off a donkey to keep his business safe and sound.”

T-Bag mentions, “I didn’t know sixteen-year-olds were acquainted with drug dealers.”

“I’m still fifteen.”

“Even better.”

Burrows looks like he’s just seen Mama riding Daddy in the bedroom after dark. “LJ, we can’t leave. Feds are watching everything, and the only way we’re getting out of here is with Abruzzi’s plane.”

“And every day we spend together, we’re giving them another day to find us.” LJ lets go of his father’s hand and rises to his feet, folding his arms across his chest. He paces, eyes on the floor. “We’re fucked!”

“What, you want to leave?” Burrows demands. T-Bag shakes his head, clucking his tongue against the roof of his mouth. That’s no way to talk to a teenager. “Fine. Go ahead.”

“Maybe LJ and I could take a little trip of our own,” T-Bag suggests, taking another peek outside. Nothing. “You wouldn’t mind that, would you, boy? We could travel down south. You can meet my family. What’s left of ’em, anyway.”

LJ stops pacing. “Yeah. That sounds swell.”

*

T-Bag ends up watching the window for the rest of the day, until Burrows kicks his ankle and tells him to go to bed. His back and knees are sore from leaning against the wall, eyes tender from staring into sunlight. When he settles into the sofa, blanket tugged up to his chin and eyes closed, he has to crack his neck three times to lessen the tautness.

Scofield is sitting by the window now. T-Bag bets his eyes are rapt and constantly focused on the street outside, and he wants to sit up and watch the Pretty, like he did at Fox River. Watching Scofield was like admiring art (which T-Bag never did on the outside, but had come to appreciate once he was given a cell). But he’s been staring into nothingness all day with steadily drooping eyes, excitement and something that feels like fear twisting in the pit of his belly, and he knows that Burrows will give him the first shift again tomorrow.

But all he can think of is LJ. Once T-Bag gets the idea in his head, he can’t get it out. He supposes it’s a decent skill to have, to be so insistent in his endeavors, but it’ll bite him in the ass more often than not, like with LJ. All he wants to do is slip into LJ’s room and suck the boy off underneath the quilt, so LJ wakes up with sticky heat around his cock and hands on his thighs. It’ll be quick, since he’s barely sixteen, so T-Bag’ll be able to get out of the room before Burrows or Scofield hears anything. He would be happier with flipping LJ over onto his stomach and fucking the kid hard and raw, but nobody can sleep through what T-Bag does.

He could take LJ, too. LJ wants to leave, and T-Bag has to get out before John awakes and spills everything. (Unless John still thinks he’s found God.) But it would be risking a hell of a lot more — if he was caught, he’d be charged with kidnapping and endangering the life of a minor. Add that to what he’s already got on his ticket, and T-Bag’s looking at the needle that the state’s been wanting to push into his arm for years. Unless they didn’t get caught, and managed to get out of Illinois (maybe on a boat to Panama) without too much trouble. It’s a big gamble. He could do it, though.

Maybe he wouldn’t fuck LJ right away, but he could steal Burrows’ gun and gently escort LJ out of the apartment by nudging the barrel of a handgun into the boy’s forehead. If he could steal a gun, he could steal the car keys. It’s been years since T-Bag was behind the wheel of a car, but it was an automatic, so it couldn’t be that difficult.

Just the thought of it is brilliant. He could do it, and he wants to.

Scofield coughs, and T-Bag’s eyes snap open. He bites down on the skin of knuckles, licking his lips. No, he can’t do it. It’s too risky. He’d be risking his life, he could go back to prison, and LJ could go to prison (actually, if they both went to Fox River, it wouldn’t be too bad). He can’t. He has to stay here. If John tattles, T-Bag will find a way to get out of it.

He always does, after all.