Chapter: In The Valley Of The Shadow (4/5)
Characters: T-Bag, others (Gen)
Rating: PG-R (this part PG-13, for violence)
Summary: His future was written at the beginning; it came to him by blood.
Spoilers: Through end of Season 1.
Authors Notes: Written for the philosophy_20 prompt #17, "Lack Of God." This is a somewhat AU history of T-Bag. This was inspired by a long-ago "Stories I Never Wrote You" challenge, the prompt being "Five Ways T-Bag Didn't Almost Die." It took forever to finish all five of them, and these are instead a set of five times T-Bag came close to dying, and who that made him in the process.
Part I Part II Part III
x-x-x Part IV: In The Valley Of The Shadow x-x-x
At Fox River he became T-Bag instead of Teddy. And he was the cock of the walk in that vicious break-and-shank world.
At most prisons, the pedophiles and child-killers were the lowest form of life. A man didn’t live long with those crimes in his past. But T-Bag was no ordinary man. He had taken steps to strengthen his chances at survival.
Divide and conquer, so the notion went. Refocus the hate onto someone else, and you could move that target off your back.
Fox River already had a White Supremacy faction, but its leader was weak. Theodore Bagwell, however, was a very persuasive speaker—smooth when he needed to be, and menacing in the softest of voices. He was tightly-controlled and watchful as hell, and people learned to stay on his good side lest they find themselves leaving their blood on the floor.
Surrounded by lifers looking for violence, T-Bag convinced his men that simply hating wasn’t enough. Ridding the world of their inferiors at every opportunity was a necessary mission.
Soon there was an upswing in killings at the prison, including the leaders of the White Supremacists and of the Black Power gang. Those two murders looked to all the world like a showdown between opposing forces, but that of course was by design. T-Bag was a master at pinning the blame on someone else, or at getting others to do his dirty work for him.
There ought to have been a rebellion against him, a movement in the dark that left him lifeless with a knife in his side.
But instead, T-Bag rose through the inmate hierarchy, gathering influence and power as he went. There might have been those that thought about taking him down, but the people that tried to do it usually ended up dead.
Ibrahim Sahmalid had been the first, so much smarter than T-Bag had given him credit for. Sahmalid had seemed to know who was behind that mutual murder tableau almost from the beginning. But he’d been stupid enough to try a shank convention in the laundry room—as if T-Bag didn’t always have his posse looking out for him. The Black Power gang left T-Bag alone after that. Two leaders dead inside a month was more trouble than it was worth.
Rocky Paxton hadn’t cared for T-Bag’s hand on his knee in the lunchroom, and he’d made the mistake of thinking T-Bag’s size had anything at all to do with his will to survive. The fork through Paxton’s windpipe would have proved him wrong, if he’d still been paying attention. T-Bag’s reputation wasn’t built on fantasy—he was deadlier than anyone in that cesspool of dangerous men.
There’d been others over the years—Landry Smalls, Jimmy Wharton, LuWon Demaris, Sledge McCain. He’d seen the look in each of their eyes, as they realized how badly they’d underestimated what he could do.
But none of them came closer than John Abruzzi, walking in on the beating he'd arranged for T-Bag in that suddenly empty room. It seemed only seconds before Abruzzi was clenching him by the throat and talking about Jesus while he brandished that knife.
T-Bag could taste the fear in his own mouth, could see the future of this encounter like it had already happened. It was a done deal, the blade's point gathering blood along his neck while Abruzzi crooned like a lover and prepared to send him off to Hell himself.
But Abruzzi forgot about T-Bag’s other weapon, that deceptive and beguiling tongue. T-Bag worked a transformation, a “Come to Jesus” moment right there on the brink of death.
Abruzzi reached for the Grace that T-Bag dangled before him, God’s visitations still fresh in his mind. He didn’t notice that the words were spoken by a sociopath, rendered moot before they fell.
He never saw the razor T-Bag had hidden in his mouth, not even when it sliced across his neck.