Character: Alexander Mahone (Gen)
Rating: PG-13 (subject matter)
Summary: In that garden, his secret was just waiting to be discovered.
Author's Notes: Written for philosophy_20, where I claimed the General Series. This is for prompt #19, "Caught In The Form Of A Limitation."
His future and his past were bound by the dark decision that lay buried under the bird bath.
The silent earth held his secret, held the mystery of murderers murdered, of justice wrought against the workings of the law.
It still haunted him. He'd spent years hunting down Oscar Shales, following a trail of dead women from coast-to-coast. When he'd finally found the man—just a few leaps of logic in front of the pack— Shales had taunted him. "Can't prove a thing," he'd said. "Nothing but circumstantial evidence—all kinds of room for reasonable doubt."
Mahone had had no doubts whatsoever. He'd known Shales had done it all, he'd seen the evidence with his own eyes.
Shales was not the only one who knew about unconnectable dots and leads that could be made to run cold. A bullet to the brain, and Shales was no longer a threat to anyone. Not in the beginning, anyway… but then, so much could change with time.
Mahone was a detective first and a lawman second. The fact that Shales' case remained unsolved didn't bother him—that was only on paper. The truth had been laid to rest.
What he hadn't counted on was that nobody else was prepared to let it go. It became his "failure," the one he'd let get away. It dogged his reputation in spite of all his successes. There were times he wanted to just scream out, "Shales is dead, the case is closed." But the FBI wasn't lenient about the kind of solution he'd chosen. More than being a disgrace or showing a lack of control, it was the sign of a rogue agent—the kind who'd wind up being forced to take administrative leave under the eyes of bureau psychiatrists
So Mahone kept his mouth shut and threw himself into his job, while the pressure kept growing all around him.
When his wife had said she wanted a divorce, his first thought wasn't about the two of them—it was for whether he could afford to leave that garden, and what he'd been hiding there all those years. Eventually his panic settled out, replaced by thoughts of the other things he was losing—his wife, his son… the parts of himself that were more than the job, more than his mistakes. They all slipped out of his fingers, and there was nothing he could do.
Now, in his isolated existence, he could see how hopeless it really was. His obsession, his guilt, his resentment of the limits of the law—they'd all made it impossible for him to be anywhere but alone.
Now his life was defined by his work. The work was all he had left.
And in that garden, his secret was just waiting to be discovered.
Someone knew about Shales. It was how Mahone had gotten stuck playing detective on the one hand and lone assassin on the other.
It was the leverage that helped him pull the trigger that first time, when it was David Apolskis. All that loud posturing and loose talk covered a rough undercurrent of naivete, like a too-big suit dwarfing the little boy inside it. Mahone couldn't get that thought out of his head once the echo of the gunshot had died. All that blood, all that innocence… some of it was his own, spilling out unchecked as he stood shaking over that kid whose stilled face suddenly looked so terribly young.
Abruzzi hadn't been easy either. No question that the man was guilty of all kinds of crimes, but still— gunning him down with the barest excuses wasn't how Mahone had been trained.
It was a different kind of sin to talk a crazy man into diving into the unforgiving air. Patoshik was dangerous, the type who could only be caged but never cured. How many shades of gray could span a world where a man could betray someone he didn't even know?
There was more to this story he was chasing, of that much he was certain. Too many questions— Scofield's history that didn't match his crime, the pleading in the Burrows kid's eyes, the audacity of the brothers' newscast, the number of people who'd had to be silenced. It added up to something that had to be more than a simple jail break.
Mahone wonders whether "cleaning things up" is the real job, or whether it's a torturous exercise meant to keep him from looking at the puzzle any closer.
Killing Shales was what started all this, but each gesture of obeisance Mahone made afterward dug the hole deeper. There was no backing out anymore—to hell with the job, now they were threatening his family. It hadn't escaped him that he'd helped force that same choice on Franklin, even knowing the things a man would do to save his child.
He'd killed to protect his secret, but he was making more secrets as he went—more things he'd done that he could never walk away from.
The irony here was entirely of his own making—he knew that all too well.
Trapped by what he'd done those years ago, everything since then had only strengthened the bars of his cage.
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