Chapter: 7: Hope
Length: 2500 words
Genre: AU, drama, reflective, post-series, sadness.
Rating: pg-15 (language, adult concepts)
Summary: A lot can happen in four years...
A/N: This is the alternative POV chapter to wrldpossibility’s Seven.
This is the end of the written Prison Break grieving process for me, but we can look forward to a wonderful epilogue from linzi20 to finalize our story. Thanks so much for your readership and kind words. I know it hasn’t been an easy read, but we wanted to make it as real to the raw process of grief as possible. The concept of 'hope springs eternal' is taken from work by Alexander Pope.
Ill be there when you call
And whenever I fall at your feet
You let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I touch your slow turning pain
from Fall at your Feet by Crowded House
If hope springs eternal, then Michael might be granted full return of his previously perfect vision. He’s not.
If hope springs internal, then Michael might feel the blossoming of excitement vine through his body when a new lead on Robert Vasling seeds from Dubrovnik. It’s there, but the thrill of the chase is subdued. And if hope springs paternal, Michael would be attending all of his son’s birthdays and be at hand whenever an issue arose requiring him in a fatherly role.
It’s not happening. But still, the sigh of hope lingers long and light at the edge of his darkness, and Michael thinks that one day soon he may be able to whisper back words from a former belief system, tucked away in a memory not nearly as blurred as his eyesight.
Michael I think there’s cynicism and then there’s realism.
And there’s optimism. Hope. Faith.
He’d been sure then, an eight-toed guy tucked away in a penitentiary, intent on saving a brother, unable to stop himself falling in love. Michael wonders how much he believes these words now. If he murmurs them to Sara — speaks them silently across the miles — will she have any faith left? Did she receive the snippets of origami and does she hope? Or is she living within the same shell? A hollow that requires light and hope and faith to return in equal measures in order to feel whole again?
Whatever the case, his quiet introspection is interrupted. His fingers are drawn away from the comforting, rhythmic rotation of his wedding band, and his heart is rechecked from ‘lament speed’ to ‘function speed’ as his cellphone rings.
‘Michael. We need you in the bunker. There’s a firm lead on Vasling. Our Croatian team has followed your plan to the letter. Your tactics appear to have worked, and he might be cornered . . .’
There’s realism and optimism. Michael hopes the Vasling lead will help him to remember what it’s like to have an ample supply of the latter.
For the first time in nearly four years he allows himself the luxury of wondering what if? What if this master extraction plan works and he is responsible for capturing the biggest Company player left in the world? What if his team are victorious in this major play? What if Kellerman’s final words ‘leave it with me, okay?’ mean that if Vasling is snared, Michael’s will be set free of the hook that has him adrift and sinking and without Sara.
He’s not given any time to think of this option once he bunkers down to work as team captain of the European troops. He leads from the leather seat his butt has indented over four years of sitting and watching an enlarged computer screen that’s been designed to cater for his poor vision. Michael listens and directs. He plots strategies for the team on the ground in Dubrovnik, and coordinates patterns of safe egress for them once they’ve tracked Robert Vasling’s party.
He feels his heart stutter, re-start and bundle into his throat when one member of the task force reports that the team have Vasling. After asking for final confirmation of this news — that they have all actually heard right — Michael places his elbows either side of his keyboard, bows his tired head and rests his eye sockets against the padding of his palms. He waits like this for the report to come through, creating an artificial darkness by resting his sight in his hands. For the first time in nearly four years, there is a nuance of hope springing forward from his infernal captivity.
‘That’s right, Base. We have Robert Vasling. Repeat, we have Robert Vasling, and your egress strategy was a total success, Scofield. We are bringing him in. We are bringing him into Dubrovnik HQ. Great job, Base, great job . . . ’
If hope springs infernal, then perhaps — just maybe — the netting of the largest fish in the ocean will be enough to sway the gods to release him from his self-proffered hell. On time! Not five years, plus one to compensate for the months lost on his tumour recovery! But the sum of five.
When it happens, it’s so sudden Michael almost recoils with the same shock that vaulted through his body during his first chapter within the intel bunker. It’s the sum of five years, minus one!
Kellerman deigns to visit, and it takes Michael by such surprise, he thinks that his sight is not only at 60 percent perfect vision but is also creating hallucination. When he is sure it’s Paul, Michael sees the bigger picture rather than the confusing detail — he’s in a suit, it’s official business.
There’s a small sitting area in a sunny alcove off the main working bunker. If Michael wasn’t forced to live separately from Sara and boy Michael, this may well be a perfect job for him — an intellectual and redemption-based environment in which to excel — and the staff are certainly housed comfortably. But the memories burn past his damaged retinas. His grief lives here. His journey through grief is powerful here.
As usual, Kellerman speaks timelines and deals, family and reprieves. He is direct. He gives Michael minimal small pieces of the puzzle, instead presenting the overall package as though he is addressing Congress. ‘Your work leading to the capture of Vasling was so fundamentally important — so impressive — the order has come straight from the top to grant your freedom. It’s early, but it’s irrefutable.’
but this is it. Sign it, and you’re free to go . . .
Four years ago, a suited Paul Kellerman had uttered these words to Sara, to Lincoln and their odd circle of mismatched friends. So long ago. This time, Michael offers a silent prayer of hope that he will never need to approach Kellerman with another proposition like that offered upon Sara’s arrest.
Perhaps part of Paul’s atonement lay in the entreating on his behalf, Michael thinks, as Kellerman offers his hand in farewell. In dismissal. Whatever the case, there is never any weakness in forgiveness.
Michael shakes his hand, and suddenly he sees more hope than he ever figured he deserves.
Michael’s going home. A week out from the date of the fourth anniversary of his death, he makes his goodbyes. He packs the pitiful remnants of his transplanted Fox River sentence in a backpack, signs the papers Paul has left, and glances in the mirror of his living quarters for the final time. He’s immediately sorry. All he sees is a peppering of grey hair and a gaunt version of his former self. He looks older. Old? Not quite, but his eyes have appeared to change physically too. More vibrant in colouring, as though the irises has responded to the flattening of his vision and imbued the orbs with a brighter blue.
He doesn’t like his clothes. They’re ill-fitting, and he needs new shoes and a shirt. Pants, as well — not the heaviness or denim, or the informality of shorts — but casual, loose cargoes, suitable for the heat of Panama, appropriate for the later months of the year. This year. Today.
Michael is going home. Strange, he hasn’t based himself in a place like Cristóbal before, but anywhere Sara lives is where his heart and soul reside. She is home.
I choose to have faith. 'Cause without that I've got nothing. It's the only thing that's keeping me going.
He wanders home in a blur of nomadic displacement, real anxiety and undeniable hope.
Michael is in Panama two days before the anniversary, using the five days in between exit and Sara to readjust to life outside. He yearns for her. His basic instinct is to fly straight back into her life, appear to her like a misplaced hobo and throw all his baggage at her feet. To infuse her with his recent depression. To unload the ravages of bunker war upon her. God, he wants her.
But he also loves her so much, that he needs some hours to reacclimatize and wring out some of the sponge of bitterness that saps at his blood. He shops. He buys clothes with some severance money from the government and he grooms his hair to the length he knows she loves — the neat side of scruffy, not completely shaven. He feels the sun on his face and the sand beneath his feet. He walks into the salt water of another Panamanian beach, as though the wash of sodium waves will offer him full ablution. And he swims. He tans a bit, but by the end of day two, his resolve to heal himself fades. The want for Sara overrides his eternal need to protect her from his emotion.
He sees her initially in a marketplace, a spot quite close to the residential address Kellerman has given him, about half a mile from the grave marker Paul had told him about. For the first time in four years, Michael feels his insides grind together with something other than sorrow and fear. He hears his breath catch. He anticipated seeing her at the house rather than in public, and he cannot control his almost agoraphobic reaction. People seem to speed up and Michael feels like he is being sucked into a vacuum. It’s crowded — so many people — and his hearing buzzes, his vision shatters and she’s moving too fast for him to react without frenzy.
She glows. He can see a swish of beautiful yellow as she walks away with a kick in her stride, and the smaller figure in black is not lost on his poor vision either — but he’s not close enough, and he can’t get closer. It’s too public, it’s too much of a shock. He lets her skip away and is frozen for a moment.
Refocusing, and realizing he is so unused to being in the open with such an emotional reunion pending, Michael’s thoughts gather momentum and he follows his wife and child from a distance. He hopes they are heading for home, that he will be able to reconnect by his plan of knocking on their back door, of watching her slowly approach him . . .
but they head to the beach, and Michael is confronted by a scene he has been privy to via photographs for the last three years. He’s here now, at the reunion of family and friends around his memorial. The tears create a secondary visual veil, and he watches from a distance without touching, for fear of exposing his own need to be seen by her alone.
Michael waits for her solitude, but it doesn’t come easily. Sucre and Mahone linger with beers in hand. In the absence of LJ, Lincoln seems to take a paternal hold on young Michael during the beach play, and then later, back at the house.
Michael sees all. His scarred eyes wax and wan, but the injury has appeared to allow him greater perception about the picture as a whole. The details are there, sure, but he’s not preoccupied and distracted by them. He absorbs their melancholy, but he witnesses an element of happiness blended into the scene of sea, light and sand. He lingers still, willing them to go home, wishing for the delay in darkness so that he can walk to Sara — appear — in the less-threatening hue of daytime. There is a humid fog descending fast. He is not a ghost and never intends to be one in their lives again, so he needs her clarity. Her surety and hers alone, and the misty atmosphere bodes an feeling of uncertainty.
But it doesn’t come. Everyone is in her house, then they're suddenly gone, and she sleeps. Michael stands alone in the darkness, totally shrouded by the line of trees separating the house from the sand. As soon as Lincoln leaves, the interior lights flicker shut and Michael stifles the urge to run at them both, to lie prostrate before them and beg forgiveness.
Instead, he moves towards her door once Linc has driven away. It’s locked, and he’s glad. Michael could break in quicker than the time it takes the next wave to find its way on shore, but his conscience doesn’t let him do that. He staggers away.
An eerie walk along the sand takes Michael back to the tiny sea front cemetery. The waning moon attempts to penetrate the fog and reflect off the water, but it’s ineffectual. The area is blanketed by a weirdness of ‘not quite night’. It’s still. Michael tries to block out the dull noise of the ocean, wanting to focus solely on the paper crane left by Lincoln from earlier in the day, and he finds he can. He picks up the origami, moves away from the tombstone and follows the same track down to the beach, opening the folded paper as he walks.
He makes it to the soft sand before finding the words — Sara’s inscription — tucked against the underside of the wing, as lovingly protected as an albatross would nurture an unborn hatchling. It’s the resonance of the words that makes Michael fall to his knees, tears fast flowing like the highest tide against the imperfect ravines of the beach. He holds the paper bird to his heart and casts his head up to the sky, feeling the wet sheen of his lament washing away the inequities of the past half-decade.
Until he is cried out.
Reaching into his backpack, Michael finds a perfect square. Someday soon, we're gonna drop that lifeboat of yours in the water and disappear forever , and there on the sand, he makes her a paper promise. It takes him an hour of creating the origami boat in the semi-darkness. With unsteady hands, but with a heartbeat as true as his commitment, he pens a single word, an absolute fact.
He waits for the dawn and watches a dream unravel before his eyes. His wife, his son, a family ready to sail away into a sunset with a man who will never run again. Michael’s journey is complete, and the time for grieving is over.
Finally, he is home.
Please watch linzi20's journal for a wonderful epilogue.