Chapter: Vengeance Is Mine (5/5)
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 Part IV
x-x-x Part V: Vengeance Is Mine x-x-x
Threats were the coin of survival in T-Bag's world, threats and people knowing he'd follow through should they disregard his will.
He had schemes to keep himself on board that escape team, unwanted and unwelcome as he was. Mr. Scofield would leave him high and dry if he had the opportunity; T-Bag made sure he knew that a plan was of no value if the guards knew what you were doing.
Everyone knew there were too many people involved for the escape to work out. It was a matter of numbers, the numbers being one less than those expecting to leave. He'd tried getting Westmoreland to drop out, and darned if the old man wasn't more stubborn than he'd given him credit for. If not Westmoreland, well, that little jive-boy punk then. He'd given insult and had no respect for the hierarchy of doing things—and that kind of attitude did not sit well with T-Bag. If it came down to necessity, T-Bag had his plan, and the boy just might not make it to the last part of the journey.
Now, T-bag had thought for awhile that things were taken care of, once John Abruzzi was gone. But the man didn't stay gone—he came back all scarred and scary, his eyes on T-Bag like payback was coming due. They'd had a kind of tenuous treaty between them before— an unspoken pact wrought by mutual menace and their positions of power. That treaty had ended when Abruzzi came after T-Bag, and the prey had turned hunter in a shocking twist of events that seemed to guarantee Abruzzi's demise.
There was no predicting what happened afterward—that should have been the end of it. But T-Bag's "permanent solution" did not stay permanent.
Now, Abruzzi was back.
T-Bag did his level best to avoid the man then, stretching out that separation as long as he could. But it didn't last, and finally Abruzzi approached him to speak—T-Bag watching carefully all the while for any nuance or sudden move. Abruzzi talked of moving on, of forgiveness and cooperation toward the larger goal they had in common. T-Bag listened, ever-vigilant, to all those reasonable words and ideas. But there was something under the surface that kept him wary, a feeling like revenge was only a few short, secret steps away.
The Pretty's plan moved forward and suddenly they were leaving, despite nothing really feeling quite prepared. They'd moved up the escape date and Burrows was in the SHU now, but still they were leaving and things were magically clicking along. All of them were nervous, half-expecting to be caught, but somehow Scofield kept slipping past risks like suggestive language flying over the heads of little children.
The Infimary. In and out tunnels and above-ground and down again, and now they were here and Burrows was waiting. Scofield had probably planned that too, though T-Bag didn't see how.
His chance arrived unannounced, as it often did. One moment Burrows was handcuffed to a chair, and the next he was free. Dangling behind, unnoticed by the others, was the safeguard T-Bag needed to render himself indispensible.
It went exactly as he'd predicted, and it didn't take long. One minute they were climbing into a van, and then next Abruzzi was pulling out a gun. A quick flick of the wrist, and T-Bag had bought himself an extended ticket on the escape train, wedding himself to Scofield's future. The others could no more kill him than jettison Scofield; he had a place and it was there by Scofield's side.
He should have known it would be Abruzzi that would unravel his hopes. Not Scofield or his hulking brother, though both of them were frustrated at the way he slowed them down.
No, it was John Abruzzi. A man who didn't flinch when dark deeds were on the table, who knew that expediency beat out elegance when the chips were down.
Abruzzi saw his solution in the corner of a dusty old barn, and with one sharp blow he severed the connection T-Bag had to Scofield. The others were free then, running out the door and leaving T-Bag to meet his fate alone.
He was expendable now, the way he'd maneuvered to avoid, but he wasn't beaten. Nothing would beat him while he still drew breath.
T-Bag gathered up his hand, bound his wrist as best he could, and tried to follow on. The others were up there far ahead of him, but he wasn't giving up.
Stealing along behind them, through a forest that none of them knew, he trailed them from the shadows, waiting to see what happened. He would use it, whatever it was.
Leaning against a tree-trunk, he watched the helicopter searchlights sweep across the ground.
He was a little light-headed, the scent of iron in his nose, but he was not defeated. He had the will to keep going, and he would cling to this gritty existence or die in the attempt.
The cloth covering his wrist was sodden and sticky, but he paid no heed. This could be his end or his salvation, this chance at freedom. It was worth this brutal cost.
The elixir left in his veins would be enough to sustain him. Where others might panic, he had faith in himself, in his uncanny ability to endure.
The blood of other people was purely ordinary, watered-down and weak.
But his own was a potent serum of survival.
It would give him the strength he needed to see the next morning come.
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