Characters: Kellerman/Reynolds (Drama, Mild Het, Romance)
Summary: He used to love her...
Author's Notes: Takes place from pre-series to mid-Season 2. This was my Round 4 Prison Break Fic Exchange story, written for mercurybard. Also for philosophy_20, this is "Both Sides."
He used to love her.
That's what he tells himself now. Used to. As in, the past. As in, far from the reality that is now.
He is no longer that man, the one who walked six steps behind her and guarded her from the shadows. He is no longer the man who helped make her who she is now, only to be forgotten like awkward political baggage as soon as she no longer depended on him.
And she is no longer the woman who was worth all that.
They met when she was a Senator.
He was assigned to the security detail for a bipartisan economic summit. A long weekend in the mountains, pristine pine trees rising up through cold, blinding snow. A full day of monitoring the perimeter and checking team positions, the afternoon droning on in a sea of committee noise that rose and fell under the background chatter of notifications and sit-ops coming through his earbud.
Her voice caught his attention suddenly, ringing out across the floor as she stated her opposition strongly and concisely to the proposal at hand. Her hair gleamed against a backdrop of dark business suits and wood-paneled walls, as bright and arresting as a vision rising through a dream.
The buzz of clear, cold duty fell away as he became caught up in her argument. Her points were so clear, so reasoned, and she presided with a sense of power and grace he'd rarely seen—even after years spent in the company of politicians.
He knew her name, of course. It was his business to know everyone's name.
But he hadn't known her before that moment. And suddenly, he saw what she had to offer—to him, to the country… to the world.
It was a matter of introduction. Rather, of that and a certain amount of persuasion.
"I'd like to coordinate your security team," he'd told her. "You'll need a significant increase in protection over the next few years. It would be an honor to ensure your safety through this journey."
For the path was laid out for her then in his mind, if not her own. He would see to it that she reached her potential.
He was certain that together, it would happen.
It was easier than he'd expected, positioning her to be noticed by all the right people. They worked on strategies, game plans, gender tactics and plausibility.
He was the archer and she the arrow. The sorcerer and the spell.
She accepted his kisses, at first.
Lonely nights on the campaign trail, he'd take up position in the chair in her suite. Later, when the lights were out but for the lamp beside her bed, she'd give him that secret smile and pull the bedcovers back for him.
Their pillow talk afterwards was of politics and intrigue. She wasn't one for sweet whispers or soft words, and he tried to show his feelings in his encouragement of her successes and ambitions.
He thought she'd heard the meaning inside the message, but he couldn't be sure.
He returned to his chair every night, clothed again in his business suit as if nothing had ever happened.
And by daylight, she became a different person. Respectful and distant, she transformed him into advisor instead of friend.
He assumed it was all about appearances. He never wanted to think it was anything else.
She couldn't see her own weaknesses, of course. That was her charm and nearly her failing, but for his smooth maneuvering and care.
Her beauty was a weapon, to be wielded with cold compassion. She masked her analytical cool with carefully planned displays of sincerity and concern. It worked.
He never imagined that she'd use those tricks on him when it suited her purpose.
They got her past the woman-as-commander hurdle, shoring up her Vice-Presidential clout with a superior grasp of finances and methods of funding.
They were both surprised that it was her brother, not an outsider, who came closest to damaging the strength of her image.
Terrance didn't know when to quit—when to shut up, or compromise or fold. But they made that decision for him—miraculously changing him from political liability to political pawn.
It was poetic justice, that the brother she'd allowed too many freedoms came to be jailed in the guise of protection and love.
That had been Kellerman's idea, right from the very beginning.
It didn't hurt that Caroline's cachet rose with the sympathy her brother's killing brought her.
The ring had been beautiful.
Classic and elegant, so much like Caroline herself, it shone in its black velvet case with the brilliance of a captured star.
He'd been nervous for the first time in decades, so at ease with procedure and so unfamiliar with the personal. He'd watched her for hours that day from his silent corner of the office, seeing the bracing blue of her eyes and the long curve of her neck glowing inside his memory like the afterimage of the sun observed too long.
He'd never considered the possibility that she'd tell him No. After all he'd done for her—and been for her—he was certain she knew that it was more than ambition or duty.
She'd accepted his loyalty and fealty, and both of them knew he'd give his life for hers if that sacrifice were needed.
But she didn't want his love.
She'd taken every part of him except the one thing that actually mattered.
They survived his failed proposal. Caroline was already thinking ahead to her next public tour, and Kellerman was nothing if not professional.
They returned to a system of symbiosis in short order.
He suggested and encouraged, and made problems disappear without her even having to ask. She relied on his opinion and support, or so it seemed.
They had reached a delicate balance of détente that would last them several years.
It could have been so much more, if she had let it. Deep down he knows it truly could have been everything.
It's over now. He tells himself that on the hour.
He sees now that she used him, that all he did to position her for this success has been forgotten.
His access to her has been stolen, and she should wonder—she could find him if she wanted to.
But she doesn't, and he knows what that means. He just wonders how long it had been that way before, when he was too close to her to notice that in the end, the pursuit was always his. Now that she's the President, she doesn't need the guidance or the subterfuge to become more.
He was a pawn after all, and he never knew it. He hates her for that now.
But he has to remind himself of it, has to revisit all her crimes and the supporting facts so that he doesn't forget.
She used me. That heartless bitch used me up and threw me away without the slightest second thought.
He's gathered up the pieces of his revenge now. He finagles and schemes an outcome that will make her pay for her lack of caring.
But when the phone goes off, his heart still lifts for a moment before he remembers his resolve.
He won't forgive her. He won't be taken in by her guile all over again.
But he still hopes, for that flicker inside a quarter-second between the start and finish of that first ring.
He hates that she still has that affect on him, after everything.
He's killed to serve, to protect, and sometimes just to smooth the way.
But it's only this—only ever this—that really makes him hate himself.
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