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27 June 2007 @ 10:50 pm
Prison Break Gen Fiction: Shackled  
Title: Shackled
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Michael, T-Bag (Gen)
Rating: PG-13 (subject matter, language)
Summary: T-Bag remains a burden that Michael finds it all too hard to escape.
Spoilers: Season 1 finale.
Author's Notes: For tuesdaeschild, who wanted Michael in cuffs (and I know she didn't mean this!), and for my prisonbreak100 challenge. This is #92, "Run."

x-x-x-x-x

They'd just barely gotten rid of Haywire—and Michael felt kind of guilty about that, but Haywire was never part of the plan. Then as soon as they started driving, everything changed within the span of seconds. There was a "snap" of metal on Michael's wrists and Abruzzi had a gun… before Michael knew it, he was handcuffed to T-Bag.

T-Bag. The very thought of him turned Michael's stomach.

Michael's tiny little escape team had ballooned up to twice its size, and now they were short Westmoreland and plus two extras (not counting Tweener and Haywire, who'd have to sink or swim on their own). Even if C-Note seemed all right, there was no ignoring the fact that T-Bag definitely wasn't.

The man should never have been part of this—he belonged behind bars for all eternity. So did Abruzzi, when you got right down to it, but that was a necessary evil; no Abruzzi, no airplane. Michael needed that plane.

So here was T-Bag, doing his level best to make sure he couldn't be left behind. He'd done it at Fox River, and he was doing it again right now. Michael couldn't escape with a dead man dragging from his wrist, and Abruzzi needed Michael to find Fibonacci, and everyone else needed Abruzzi for the plane.

Q-E-sick-sonofabitch-D.

That had been the problem from the beginning.

Michael was aware of the darker aspects of the criminal nature, but he'd never been face-to-face with them before, not like this. Everything T-Bag did or felt or said was repugnant, and even when it was couched in more subtle language, the meaning was always clear.

What Michael hadn't been prepared for—and this bothered him more than anything—was that T-Bag was so unpredictably clever.

So Michael was stuck now, shackled to this constant reminder that he hadn't been careful enough. T-Bag was out, thanks to him, and his future crimes would be a burden for Michael to bear—along with all the wrongs Michael had already caused in the name of freeing his brother.

T-Bag was Michael's literal and emotional ball and chain at the moment. The weight of the metal on his wrist bit into him and marked him with every mistake he could not change.

The road to the airstrip wound up being cut off by a police (and that never should have happened, they should have been in the air by then except for the drama and delays that slowed them down). Michael thought he could navigate around the road block, but the van got stuck and they had to go on foot—the worst choice of all when the clock was ticking.

Running through the woods in the dark with a helicopter chasing them was bad enough, but trying to keep up when T-Bag was dragging behind was nearly impossible—the man moved like January molasses.

After a few false starts they had to double back on a different route to the airfield. Up ahead, the rest of the team ducked into a barn while Michael lagged behind, still pulling T-Bag along with him. Too damned slow, all of it—and the two of them in particular. They were all going to get caught, after everyone and everything that had been sacrificed along the way. And that just could not be allowed to happen.

The others were waiting inside when Michael pushed T-Bag into the barn. There was a sudden flurry of movement, and then T-Bag was forced down on a table while Sucre moved in with a set of shears.

It didn't work—the chain between the cuffs was too thick. Michael barely had time for disappointment before Abruzzi surged toward them, an ax lifted overhead. What the fuck? But the barn was full of tools—Abruzzi had simply found the answer first. Michael tensed as the ax came down, careful not to move…

It was like a scene from a horror movie when the ax cut off T-Bag's hand instead of cutting through the chain.

God. Sickening, absolutely sickening. Michael could hardly breathe, the suddenly lighter weight on his wrist like an admonishment for his earlier impatience. He should have known Abruzzi was capable of such a thing— this was the man who'd cut off his toes back at Fox River, for god's sake. And yet he'd somehow forgotten. He'd let himself like the man, get too comfortable with him. He'd even come to think of him as "John."

Abruzzi was saying something, but Michael wasn't listening. He was too preoccupied with realizing that the monster had always been just below the surface, all this time.

Someone jostled him, and he returned back to the urgency of the moment. They had to go now, get to the rendezvous before the plane wound up leaving without them. Michael's head was filled with blood then, so much blood on the table, on T-Bag's arm… in Michael's past.

He was free of his burden finally, free to run to a better future with Lincoln. T-Bag likely wouldn't survive that wound unless he was caught, and the thought rose up in Michael's head that either way that was probably for the best.

T-Bag's eyes were on Michael now, pleading not to be abandoned, but it was too late.

The Michael who would have cared was already long gone, run off by the ruthlessness that had shackled itself to Michael's soul.


----- fin -----




 
 
 
Greta: beautiful friendshipgretazreta on June 28th, 2007 10:34 am (UTC)
Michael wasn't listening. He was too preoccupied with realizing that the monster had always been barely below the surface, all this time. - that was my favourite line in this, because it seemed to work on so many levels, kind of a metaphor for the whole experience of prison for Michael.

And that the monster is inside himself as well. The last line is made my stomach sink something wicked, because, just, YES.

Maybe the crappy end of season 2 is not just Michael giving himself up for Sara, but for all the bad things that he's done. Lincoln's safe, that part's done, and now he has to atone? That last long shot of Michael walking through the Panamanian prison like some sort of fallen angel...he needs redemption, some way or other? To see if he can get that other Michael back?

What I particularly liked about this was that Michael's response was so canon Michael, when he gets that kind of blinded look in his eyes when everything goes wrong? Like he's making deals with himself about how much he can take. Maybe next season may be about him finally paying those dues.

Thanks for this, as always so evocative and nailing the characterisations right on the head.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: MichaelInBarshalfshellvenus on July 6th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
I loved your feedback on this-- all the layers under the surface that were part of Michael's larger downfall.

And that the monster is inside himself as well. The last line is made my stomach sink something wicked, because, just, YES.
Oh heavens, all the things he urged and let happen in the name of saving Lincoln-- all the people hurt, destroyed, killed for the sake of a single person. Lincoln has said it himself-- he was never worth all that. No-one is. :(

That last long shot of Michael walking through the Panamanian prison like some sort of fallen angel...he needs redemption, some way or other? To see if he can get that other Michael back?
This thought was very interesting. I would love to see the writers go that way, first because he gave away other people's sacrifices too casually (it's bothered a lot of hardcore viewers), and also because the dramatic possibilities would be wonderful. Season 2 really lacked actual drama vs. melodrama. There were moments-- Sara vs. Kellerman was a high point, particularly the aftermath of stitching herself up in that filthy bathroom-- but overall we got melodrama at best.

What I particularly liked about this was that Michael's response was so canon Michael, when he gets that kind of blinded look in his eyes when everything goes wrong?
Oh yes-- for planners, the unplanned can be very hard to cope with if you never saw it coming. I mean there was a solution to their problem with that ax, and that wasn't what Abruzzi did with it. He went the psycho route instead. *boggles*

I'm glad you liked this one-- it took much longer to write than I'd thought it would, getting the post-escape details and making it speak Michael's dilemnas the way I felt it needed to. Really, there was too much action in that part of the story arc and that was hard to work with. Rather like the end of S1 as well (*kicks WIP chapter fic*).
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: MichaelInBarshalfshellvenus on July 6th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
Thank you, Claire!

I tell you, working with all the little details in that episode just made writing this take forever. Darn late-S1 and all of S2. :(

This was what was interesting about the episode to me-- the failure of Michael's plans in the face of so many random things going wrong (as they do), and the awfulness of the choices that get made for him and that he can now live with thanks to the negative transformation of who he's become. His innocence is gone, and more than that he's lost so much of the compassion that made him exactly who he was. It's very sad, really.

I wish we were seeing more of this kind of drama in the show now, and less of the running around action-based stuff. The drama was much more interesting, at least to me.
inaudiblechaos on June 29th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Your writing in terms of Michael’s emotions is really powerful. I was completely drawn in by the imagery you used.

I like this line.

The weight of the metal on his wrist bit into him and marked him with every mistake he could not change.

And this.

the suddenly lighter weight on his wrist like an admonishment for his earlier impatience

I love the way you show the changing man that Michael has become and how the different parts of him collide in the fact that it’s too late to go back.

Michael's head was filled with blood then, so much blood on the table, on T-Bag's arm… in Michael's past.

The Michael who would have cared was already long gone, run off by the ruthlessness that had shackled itself to Michael's soul.

I think there’s something so bittersweet about the inevitability of his transformation. Sad, yes. But at the same time it shows how much he was willing to sacrifice, consciously or not.

x
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: MichaelInBarshalfshellvenus on July 6th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
Oh, I loved the lines you picked-- which contrast each other in terms of action but are headed in the same direction of guilt and remorse.

I love the way you show the changing man that Michael has become and how the different parts of him collide in the fact that it’s too late to go back.
What's worse is that, although Michael doesn't seem to realize it, much of what he tries to fix winds up somehow making things worse. It's like a metaphor for the decision to save Lincoln at the cost of everyone the two of them came into contact with. He never realized he was making that exact choice, but that's what it became.

I think there’s something so bittersweet about the inevitability of his transformation. Sad, yes. But at the same time it shows how much he was willing to sacrifice, consciously or not.
Interesting thought-- it does speak of his commitment to his brother. I think Michael had some idea that this experience would change him, but I don't think he realized that it wouldn't be just through what was done to him, it would be in part because of what he was willing to do or let happen to other people. That's much harder to live with.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments! I really appreciate them. :)
shaitanah: glass_guiltyshaitanah on June 29th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
Oh my God... This is so powerful! I can definitely see Michael thinking and feeling this way.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Final Hughalfshellvenus on July 6th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I tell you, when you struggle for days and days to get a story to move forward, you start to wonder if it's lost all its feeling.

I'm please that you think it has not! :)
shaitanahshaitanah on July 6th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean. But this story really feels alive!
Stranger?: Needletaxidryer on June 29th, 2007 11:09 am (UTC)
That was stressful.

I love the parallel you draw between the shackle and Michael’s soul. That’s really a great insight.

God. Sickening, absolutely sickening.
Ew. I’ve seen this scene like everybody else but somehow reading it makes it worse.

Nice job !
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: MichaelInBarshalfshellvenus on July 6th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
I love the parallel you draw between the shackle and Michael’s soul.
That really was the core of this whole story. It's what made it interesting-- that and the notion of being chained to the person that represents all his failures, and yet Michael did bring that on himself and on the world (even if he never meant that to happen).

Ew. I’ve seen this scene like everybody else but somehow reading it makes it worse.
It was a real shock in that episode-- everybody was stunned by it except of course Abruzzi. And I took a pretty light hand with the description of it, but it was such a jolt, and a great moment for inserting a different dramatic viewpoint on what it means.

I'm glad you liked this. Thank you!
Maz (or foxxy!): T-Bagtuesdaeschild on June 30th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
How could I not love this?!! Wave Michael and a pair of cuffs in front of me and I'm jelly!! Even if T-Bag is attached to the other end!!

Seriously, this is a wonderful insight into Michael's thoughts as "John" snapped the cuffs on the two of them. You really have captured his every feeling about what he'd been forced to do; the sacrifices and compromises he'd had to make and the detritus he'd had to pick up along the way; some planned, some definitely not, and you've really painted the perfect picture of T-Bag too...

What Michael hadn't been prepared for—and this bothered him more than anything—was that T-Bag was so unpredictably clever.

...right there in that line! It made me shudder!

And now that you've told us it's kind of obvious that Michael would be expecting the axe to severe the chain that joined them!

That last line is absolutely brilliant! Two meanings, each as grim as the other! Awesome!

So thank you, sweetheart, from the bottom of my heart! Gen cuffed!Michael is every bit as fabulous as any other kind of cuffed!Michael and this is truly wonderul!!
*hugs you tight* ♥
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: MichaelInBarshalfshellvenus on July 6th, 2007 01:38 am (UTC)
Wave Michael and a pair of cuffs in front of me and I'm jelly!! Even if T-Bag is attached to the other end!!
Isn't that just the most dreadful thought ever? Really, T-Bag vs. dead body chained to you-- which is worse? You might have to actually think about it. :\

...right there in that line! It made me shudder!
It's one of the things that makes T-Bag such an interesting character, and which other people underestimate again and again. And it definitely has had longterm repercussions for Michael.

Gen cuffed!Michael is every bit as fabulous as any other kind of cuffed!Michael and this is truly wonderul!!
*hugs you tight* ♥

Oh, I'm so glad you like it! I couldn't get the M/L approach to work at all, but there seemed to be a really great dramatic potential in this particular take on it. Much like your Bellick piece-- a different snapshot that picks up an entirely different viewpoint from one that we usually see.

♥ and hugs. :)
Maz (or foxxy!): Englishtuesdaeschild on July 6th, 2007 10:07 am (UTC)
Isn't that just the most dreadful thought ever? Really, T-Bag vs. dead body chained to you-- which is worse? You might have to actually think about it. :\

Thinking hard! *scratches head and shudders*

It's one of the things that makes T-Bag such an interesting character, and which other people underestimate again and again. And it definitely has had long term repercussions for Michael.

It certainly has! T-Bag without his cleverness and guile would have been bad enough but T-Bag with those attributes (?!!!) is even scarier! So we have to thank both the writers and Robert Knepper for such a turns-the-blood-to-water character! Much as we hate him there's kind of a lot of appreciation for the evilness in the mix too, huh?!!

It's good to approach something from a completely different angle sometimes. And you certainly did with this one and it worked beautifully. To mention my Bellick POV in the same breath...O_O...is a big thrill, so thank you for that!!

♥ and hugs back. :D
Maz (or foxxy!): Englishtuesdaeschild on July 2nd, 2007 09:08 am (UTC)
I think I already thanked you once for this but since I had some trouble with my internet connection on Saturday I'm really not sure!! So if I'm repeating myself forgive me!

Gen Cuffed!Michael works every bit as much for me as anything kind of kinky so this was absolutely wonderful!! Especially that last line! I loved the duality of it and the feeling that Fox River and the plan has changed Michael irrevocably! Awesome!!

So again (I think!) thank you so much, sweetheart! ♥
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Final Hughalfshellvenus on July 6th, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
Twice! Even better!

I had hoped you'd like it, despite it not being your favorite genre.

Many happy belated returns of your special day. Hope this helped at least a little. ♥
Maz (or foxxy!): Lovescopytuesdaeschild on July 6th, 2007 10:10 am (UTC)
Cuffed Michael is Cuffed!Michael, whatever the genre!! I'll take him anyway I can as long as cuffs are involved!! I sound like a real pervert, don't I?!! *blushes*

And thank you for the late but much appreciated birthday wishes sweetheart. Your fabulous fic helped a lot! ♥