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02 February 2007 @ 12:44 am
Ignorance is Bliss (1/1)  
Title: Ignorance is Bliss
Fandom: Prison Break
Character/Pairing: Paul Kellerman, Sara Tancredi
Word Count: 1,993
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Up through and including 2.05, "Map 1213"
Summary: What Sara doesn't know can't hurt her. That is, until it comes down to who she chooses to associate herself with.
Author's Note: Prison Break and its characters have been manipulated here without the knowledge or consent of 20th Century FOX Television. I am not affiliated with the show, its production companies or cast members and no copyright infringement is intended.



Sara can't remember the last time that she allowed herself to indulge in a home-cooked meal. Mostly because up until the recent collapse of the world as she's always known it (heralded by her own imprudent decision to aid and abet the escape of convicted criminals from a maximum security prison) her profession had always been her top priority. Leaving for Fox River early in the morning, returning late in the evening when she could no longer find legitimate reasons to be on the clock.

During that time prior to her most recent relapse into a swill of morphine and self-pity, the closest Sara came to putting her own culinary skills to use was making herself a sandwich or a salad to take to work with her or popping one of many frozen dinners into her microwave. Her idea of grocery shopping was, more often than not, being sure to keep her refrigerator and pantry stocked with bottles of spring water, fresh bread, milk and lunch meat, her freezer filled with the dinner delights provided by Lean Cuisine.

Before that it was even more simplistic. The days prior to being eighteen radical, painful, blissful months clean. It was during that time that Sara was somehow able to convince herself of Grey Goose, take-out and intravenous injections being acceptable sustenance. There was nothing about that lifestyle that had been healthy and as a physician she should have seen as much. She did see as much. But the alcohol and the analgesic drug had been all she'd needed to sate her hunger. The unending arrival of food that she didn't have to cook to her apartment door had merely been subsidiary. Necessary but insubstantial next to the substances she really craved.

Through all of this, the ebbing tides of change in her life, Sara had never actually allowed herself to miss home cooking. It had been the least of her concerns and even now, the origin of her next meal is an only mildly quintessential thought. But as she stands just shy of her stove, looking down into the contents of the sizzling wok, her stomach lurches in hunger and, ever-so-briefly, Sara is inspired to perhaps try cooking for herself sometime. As she recalls, at one point in time she had been quite a hand in the kitchen. But apparently her new companion is as well.

Sara will not have to call Lance's bluff. She can tell already. He had proclaimed himself "the best ex-junkie cook in this town" and now, thirty minutes into their impromptu dinner date at her apartment, he is already proving himself.

He had arrived at her apartment early, armed with an overflowing paper bag of ingredients and, amazingly enough, several of his own cooking utensils. Sara is still slightly in awe of the way that he has gone above and beyond to prepare a meal for them that wipes the idea of blueberry pie completely off of the playing field.

Lance had promised her that their dinner wouldn't be over-the-top and he is staying true to his word in terms of the amount of work that he's putting into it. He is as comfortable in her kitchen as she is and he dices, stirs and slices with the ease of a natural chef and Sara has been watching in quiet pleasure as the meal comes together almost effortlessly. But the lack of energy that Lance seems to be exerting has absolutely no bearing on the fact that Sara is impressed. She has never eaten Asian food that doesn't come out of a little white box from a specialized restaurant.

"I still can't believe you brought a wok."

The amusement in Sara's voice is obvious and Lance smiles, not lacking animation as he shuffles the vegetables below his spatula in a way that makes them dance in a colorful frenzy inside the confines of the cast iron bowl. "I wasn't sure you'd have one."

"You were right," Sara laughs as she allows herself to lean back against the blunt edge of her counter, crossing her arms loosely over her chest, "I don't have one. I don't have a lot of things, apparently, when it comes to what a proper kitchen is supposed to boast."

"That's why you have me."

"I do, huh?"

Lance simply grins again, affording Sara another cursory glance of budding affection. His eyes aren't deep and dark but they remind her of a puppy's with their sparkle and fringe of long, comely eyelashes. When he smiles at her - not only with his mouth but with those friendly eyes - she can't help but smile back. She hardly knows this man but she feels a kinship to him already that she hadn't expected.

Of course he's gay.

Isn't that always how it goes? Sara silently chastises herself for thoughts like the one that just scampered unbidden through her mind. She'd been completely honest when she'd told Lance that she doesn't need to be seeing anyone who isn't her therapist. It's the very fact that he is gay that makes this okay. Sara could use a friend. Not a distraction. Not an annoyance. Not someone who constantly weighs on her mind. Not another man like Michael Scofield.

Lance poses no threat. It's what Sara likes most about him. But she can't help but think that maybe if her life weren't in complete ruins - and if he weren't compulsorily inclined to the same sex - Lance could be the type of man she needs in her life. He is a recovering addict and he knows her vices because they're his own. He is unjudgmental and unpretentious. He's easy to talk to and not wildly secretive. He's open and warm instead of brooding and confusing. He doesn't want something from her. He doesn't have a need to manipulate her or to use her.

Lance has every desirable trait she could ask for in a man - as a friend or otherwise - and she should be grateful that he's come into her life at all. He is the living proof of why Michael is everything that she doesn't need. So why is it that Sara can't go more than a few peaceful minutes without Michael invading her thoughts?

A frown threatens Sara and as the corners of her mouth twitch she pushes Michael and his damned blue eyes to the back of her mind and clears her throat to cut through the silence that isn't actually silent. Lance is humming lowly to himself what sounds to Sara like a rollicking classic rock tune and the food is still hissing loudly from the wok.

Her gaze drawn back to the preparation of their dinner, Sara gestures vaguely to the source of the mouthwatering aroma filling her kitchen. "What is that called, exactly?"

"I thought you liked Asian food?"

"I do! It doesn't make me an authority on it." Sara leans closer to the oven and inhales, her nostrils tickled by the scent and her tastebuds reacting by producing more moisture than she feels is necessary.

"Kai Kraphao." Lance singles out a slice of shiitake mushroom with his spatula, poising it on the edge of it before flipping the morsel into his mouth. He chews for a moment before swallowing and then takes note of Sara's blank expression, which garners a rumbling laugh. "Thai."

"I...love Thai food. I still don't know what Kai...Kai," Sara pauses and then shrugs one shoulder helplessly, "what's it called again?" Sara smiles sheepishly and straightens away from the counter to move a bit closer. "It smells amazing."

"It's just basil chicken stir-fry."

Sara is pleased by Lance's simplification and even more pleased when he extends the spatula to her, a plump, steaming piece of chicken breast adorning it.

"Taste it," Lance offers, waiting until she pins the chunk of chicken between her thumb and forefinger before retracting the spatula and leaning forward enough to turn the active burner of the stove off. "Just be careful. It's hot."

Sara nods her agreement and raises the chicken to her mouth, blowing a steady stream of air between pursed lips over it for a few long moments before popping it into her mouth. At first she gums it experimentally and then sinks her teeth into the tender meat, immediately rewarded with a plethora of flavors extended to the poultry by the other ingredients it was cooked with. She can single out the unique tastes of the basil and the ginger that she'd helped chop up but they are subtle and balanced by the sweetness of the fresh vegetables and brown sugar and the salty tang of teriyaki and soy.

Sara savors the sample and by the time she turns her attention back to Lance, he is plating portions of the stir-fry for the both of them. "It tastes as amazing as it smells. God, I think I'm going to have to keep you around."

"You don't have to twist my arm, Sara," Lance chuckles, handing her a bowl piled high, "I'll cook for you anytime you want. I don't mind being used."

Sara pauses in reaching for the bowl, a sudden chill shaking the length of her spine. There is something about the idea of using someone (even for something as trivial as a good meal) that bothers her these days even more than the idea of being used. Maybe it's because she knows what it feels like.

But Lance is waiting patiently, his interest in her face expectant and she musters a grateful expression and a smile as she finally takes the bowl and also the napkin and chopsticks. "Thanks. This is...really, really great of you."

"It's my pleasure. If you like this...maybe next time we can actually try for that blueberry pie."

"Mm," Sara shakes her head and her sense of humor and good nature is back as she leads the way to her living room, Lance falling in step behind her with his own plate balanced on one palm, "you said the pie of my choice."

"Fair enough." Lance is at her heels, just close enough that she is very aware of his presence and her steps slow just enough so that he is walking beside her instead of behind her as they approach the sitting area. "What do you fancy, Doc?"

Sara's nose crinkles slightly in contemplation as she rounds the wingback chair angled toward her sofa, where Lance has now seated himself. She sits down as well, answering only once she has composed her most challenging expression. "Strawberry rhubarb. Or do you only do really traditional pies? You know...blueberry, cherry, apple..."

"Not at all. I do make a mean apple pie," Lance drapes one leg over the other as he settles against the plushy pillows at his back and levels a smug gaze on Sara, "but if you want strawberry rhubarb, you've got it. Anything for my friends."

"You make pies for all your friends?" Sara does her best to sound indignant but she is sure the effect is diminished by the way that she is almost leering down at her meal with an anxious grin, situating herself with her legs drawn up below her.

"Only the pretty ones that I meet at Narcotics Anonymous meetings. So...that means...yeah, just you." Lance gives her a winning smile and he briefly clicks his chopsticks together in Sara's direction. "Eat before it gets cold."

Sara raises her own chopsticks in retaliation and makes a grand show of digging into the food, "That's fine with me. I'm not going to go spreading it around at meetings that you're a phenomenal cook. Everyone else will want to be your friend. What they don't know won't hurt them."

"Ignorance is bliss, huh?" Lance manages this around a mouthful of food and Sara pauses in chewing her own first bite, her head moving slowly up and down in a nod.

This life lesson brought to you by Michael Scofield.

"It certainly is."
 
 
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