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17 October 2007 @ 01:36 am
Atonement (1/1)  
Title: Atonement
Fandom: Prison Break
Characters: Michael Scofield/Sara Tancredi, Lincoln Burrows
Word Count: 1,892
Rating: G
Spoilers: None, though this is meant to take place somewhere after Michael and Sara's reunion in episode 2.22, "Sona." Put all thoughts of that little bastard, Bill Kim, out of your head. He so never showed up.
Summary: A conventional happy ending hasn't been handed to Michael and Sara on a silver platter, but they find hope that they will have it someday soon.
Other: Because of a need for a long overdue happy ending, this story was born. It's not entirely fluffy (read: not without its dash of emo!Michael) but sailing into the sunset is sure a hell of a lot better than anything canon as of late. I accepted the truth and now I'm happily hibernating in denial. I think I'll stay here for a while. It's very comfy and cozy.
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.

"The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity." -Lord Byron


Their tiny vessel is bobbing like a sea-faring buoy somewhere off the coast of Las Tablas before Michael and Sara have what feels like any real time alone. It is their third day on the open water and they have dropped anchor at the onset of evening in the tranquil reaches of the Gulf of Panama, where it is still unstirred by its coalition with the Pacific Ocean.

Whether Lincoln is as tired as he claims to be is a mystery, but he has dutifully retired - with a stretch and a hyperbolic yawn - to the small berth in the recesses of the boat. It is meant to accommodate two in relative comfort with its twin bunks but the three of them have shared it for the last two nights. Lincoln on one bed and Sara on the other, Michael stretched out on a sleeping bag on the floor between them, not once complaining about the unyielding wooden floorboards. Not when falling asleep with Sara's hand in his own had been all the comfort he'd needed.

Michael had been soothed into slumber by the tangle of their joined fingers and the gentle throb of the water against the boat's hull had lulled Sara to sleep soon after. Lincoln had been asleep both nights almost before his slightly sunburnt head had hit the pillow, warm and weighted by cheap and satisfying bottles of Sobrerana beer.

As Sara watches Lincoln disappear below deck by himself now - a half-empty bottle of beer still dangling by the neck from one hand - she decides that the day's heat and the supplemental shots of Cuervo have done him in and surmises that he'll be snoring softly in a matter of time. Nevermind that the sun has just begun to set.

She waits until the soft sounds of Lincoln's steps fade and disappear and then turns her head to find that Michael is still seated beside her, startled to discover his gaze drawn to her face as if by magnetic force.

When she catches him staring, he doesn't look away - doesn't pretend humility - and instead continues to devour her features with his wandering eyes. Eyes that are customarily cool blue but that are blazing now in the spitfire of the fading sun. His irises look almost gold where they're not thrown into shadow and the intensity that Sara has become accustomed to is as present as ever.

Once upon a time, that same intensity had been enough to make her squirm. Now it washes over her as much as the balmy breeze coming off of the water, calming and revitalizing all at once. Looking at him, looking at her. It's enough to make the moments crawl as she hears nothing but the steady thrum of her heartbeat in her ears and allows herself to imagine that she is hearing Michael's heart, too.

As she watches him, Sara notes the tiny furrow in his brow and the subtle tic in his jaw and she smiles at him, hoping that he'll smile back and loosen the lines of tension in his face. And he does smile, but the easy curve of his lips doesn't belie the dismay in his eyes.

She sets her own bottle of beer aside to free up her hands, reaching for one of his, closing it between both of her palms with a gentle squeeze. "You look worried," she comments quietly, stroking the side of his thumb with her own in a quiet entreaty for him to confide in her.

"I'm okay," he assures her, trying harder now to infuse life into the smile still struggling with the corners of his lips. "I think maybe I'm just tired."

"It has been a long day," she agrees, her voice rising to take on an air of exaggerated exhaustion. "Sailing a boat through impossibly calm water. Sitting in the sun, drinking all the cold beer a person could possibly want." She jostles his knee with her own then, a playful gesture in her continued attempt to see to it that his smile is authentic. "I don't know how you haven't passed out already."

When Michael makes a sound under his breath that is much like a chuckle, Sara contains her feelings of triumph and leans closer to him, abandoning the grasp that she has on his hand to instead wind her arm through his. He hooks the bend of his elbow more firmly in hers almost reflexively and it's Sara who is grinning as she rests her cheek against his shoulder.

"Tell me what's wrong, Michael," she prompts, turning her gaze back out to the sun-bathed surface of the ocean as if to afford him the privacy he needs to speak freely. Sara studies the way the fading light sets fire to the glassy surface, buffing it into a shade of liquid gold, pretending that she wouldn't rather be looking into his eyes.

There are several long moments of silence where Sara is able to sense the gravity of the words that he has yet to say, and then she feels his shoulder rise and fall below her chin as he sighs and finally speaks. "Are you happy?"

"What?" She doesn't mean to sound doltish, but he has taken her aback and she lifts her head, turning it sharply to be able to see him in profile.

He slowly turns to meet her gaze again, looking a bit as though he is embarrassed by his inquiry. "I just want to know that you're happy," he tells her, altering the original question in hopes of dispersing the heavy significance of it.

"I don't...I don't really understand, Michael. Of course I'm happy." Sara scoots a bit closer, feeling the comforting pressure of the outside of his thigh against hers.

"You mean you're happy right now. Today."

"No, I mean that I'm happy all the time. I've been happier for the last three days than I can remember being in the last three years," she argues, sitting up straighter and squaring her shoulders. "I'm here with you. Sailing a boat through impossibly calm water. Sitting in the sun, drinking all the cold beer a person could want," she recalls her words of just prior to make her point; wanting it to hit home. "There's nowhere else I'd rather be."

She watches his throat work as he swallows and then he smiles at her, though it is humorless and doesn't quite reach his eyes. "You wouldn't rather be home? In Chicago?"

"No." She needn't think before she speaks, and her swift answer seems to surprise him.

"You could be, you know. You and Lincoln both. You're free."

"And you will be, too. Soon enough," she promises quietly, watching a large white bird resembling an ibis coast down from the sky. It folds its gaudy wings against its back as it settles on the surface and plunges its head below the water. "Bruce always comes through."

"And in the meantime?"

Sara can feel Michael's gaze on her yet again, and she casts her own up to seek it out. "And in the meantime...we'll do what we're doing now."

"Floating around on a boat."

"Sitting in the sun. Drinking beer."

"And what if--"

"Don't waste time with what if, Michael." Sara is alarmed by the current of fear in her voice and she struggles to tone it down as she goes on, reaching up with one hand to cradle his cheek in her palm, "Bruce is good at what he does. We'll be able to go back to the States - all of us - before you know it. If that's what we want. Until then...think of this as a well-deserved vacation."

Michael's eyes slip shut and his face draws itself further into the curve of her hand as she caresses the angle of his jaw and traces the shell of his ear, his breath seeming to be drawn from somewhere other than his chest. "I'm not sure I deserve a vacation." This statement seems to sober him and his lashes lift until he is looking back at Sara, a grim frown taking possession of his lips, "Not after everything I've done."

Sara drops her hand now, clamping it firmly on his shoulder to steady herself as much as to steady him, unblinking even in the flare of crimson light behind him, "After everything you've done? Michael, that's exactly why you deserve this. You did what you set out to do and we're all here now. Alive. Together. You need to stop trying to atone for your mistakes. They're in the past."

"But it doesn't mean I can just forget them," he presses, reaching for the hand on his shoulder so that he can tuck in back into his own, holding the knot of their laced fingers on his knee. "It'd be...wrong. Atonement is the least that I can do."

"No one is asking you to forget them. None of us are going to forget the things we've seen...the things we've had to do to get here but..."


"But..." Sara draws in a long, slow drag of air and allows it to seep back out through her nose as she presents Michael with the most candid expression she can muster, "atonement is not going to change anything. It's not going to make you happy." Her shoulders rise and fall in a helpless shrug and she leans toward him until she can feel his breath falling against her skin, "You deserve to be happy."

"I'm happy," he whispers, reaching up to thread his fingers into the loose hair falling around her face.

"Are you really?"

"I'm content," he amends, twisting a lock of her humidity-made curls into a coil around his index finger, brushing the curve of her throat with the back of another. "I'm working on happy."

"What's it going to take?" She breathes the question, feeling it whisper over the subtle part of his lips, struggling to make out his eyes with any clarity in this close proximity. "For you to be truly happy?"

"Giving you the life you should have. The one I took from you when I involved you in all of this." He rests his forehead against hers then, the tips of their noses and arcs of their chins flirting in this position, "Panama...it isn't the dream anymore, Sara. You are."


"You...and me." Michael smiles now and its sincerity ghosts across her mouth even as he speaks. "I want the chance to make everything up to you...every single day for the rest of my life. That...that will make me happy."

"Then you can start now."

She brings her mouth down against his in a gentle crushing motion to silence whatever else he may have said and he tangles his fingers more deeply into her hair as his jaw slackens under hers. She tastes salt on his upper lip and a trace of lime on his tongue and feels the heat of his body burn right through her as she presses herself hard against his chest.

And for a brief moment of lucidity Sara thinks that if this is Michael's way of atoning for the sins that he is certain he has made against her, she will allow herself to selfishly hope that he never stops.
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