Character: Mahone (Gen)
Rating: PG-13 (subject matter)
Summary: Once, almost too long ago to remember, this was about his family.
Author's Notes: Written for the combined Mahone/cliffhanger challenge at pbficsurvivor.
The world smells like nothing when he's riding the haze—not like sweat, dirt and death, not even like the stink of accusations or broken promises.
It's peaceful then, undemanding. The slipping, tripping, floating into this parallel world is the easiest thing he can ever remember doing.
But then it's over…
Sometimes Mahone wonders exactly when he was hung out to dry.
The ship full of drugs—planted by Scofield, always one step ahead of him—could have disappeared from all official memory for the right price, if The Company had wanted that.
They clearly didn't, because now he's here.
SONA will likely kill him, if the drugs don't do it first. He's going to wind up on the wrong end of a shiv, bleeding out on foreign soil, and all his skill in hand-to-hand fighting will only delay that moment unless he finds a way to board the lifeboat Michael Scofield is somehow forming out of dust and diabolical planning. That's the crux of it all: Mahone's only chance is something too impossible to even name.
It's even worse knowing he's got no leverage over that fate…
Leverage is what changed him, from a man sworn to uphold the laws of his country into an assassin lurking in the shadows of his ostensible occupation. It began with the buried body of Oscar Shales—a secret that could have sent Mahone to jail at the cost of losing his family. Then it became his son getting run over in broad daylight, with the threat of "fatal" instead of "wounded" if Mahone continued to try The Company's patience by showing mercy to the people he was assigned to kill.
Prison. He wound up in prison anyway, having said goodbye to the woman he loved and hoping it would be enough to keep her safe. Now he wishes that were the choice he'd made right from the beginning.
Instead, he was coerced into becoming something he hated, a monster of a man—never heartless, if he were heartless he could have lived with himself instead of desperately seeking escape. The pills calmed the torturous images, quieted the fear of the next horrible task that waited. They silenced the panic and self-loathing that haunted him daily, emotions that pushed him to the edge of doing something stupid enough to get himself killed.
After awhile, the lack of those same pills caused every single problem that he'd taken them to circumvent.
He doesn't think The Company knows about the pills, but if they did what better way to destroy him than by letting SONA finish the job that double-agent failed at back in Alberquerque? The end is inevitable, and they'll be rid of him along with everything he knows.
Once, almost too long ago to remember, this was about his family. When the fog of vigilante justice cleared from Shales' makeshift grave, Mahone realized that the dangerous mistake he'd made couldn't be undone. Everything afterward was a reaction to what that choice had set in motion.
He understands how family— that savage, blind love for those people you call your own—can drive a person to do things they ordinarily wouldn't. That understanding was like a fist around his heart when he was sent to deal with Franklin, the image of the man's ashen little girl hanging in the air between them like a ghost every time they spoke. The fact of what Mahone's profiler training told him about Franklin—that he was no threat to anyone—only made it worse. No justice was being served.
Mahone used to wonder what possessed Scofield to save his worthless brother, but even before the timely and suspect Presidential pardon came about, he'd decided the answer was simple rather than complicated: Burrows was family. Sometimes that was all it took.
In the few days Mahone has been here at SONA (less than a week? Is that really all?), there's been too much time to think about what he's lost—including himself. This shaky shell of a man he's become is no good to anyone, but that doesn't keep him from wanting it all back, wanting Pam, wanting his son.
The drugs whisper down inside his loneliness, calling to him with a promise to dull the pain. He's let himself be tempted by that, half-crazy with withdrawal and waking nightmares where stillness is the most beautiful thing he can imagine even if it's just for awhile. There's so much more now that he needs to forget.
But he needs to stay alert, he reminds himself. He needs to keep an eye on Scofield and figure out how he plans to make that escape, and most of all he needs to find a way to be part of it—no matter what it takes.
The answer isn't a special pen, or a piece of information. Scofield was toying with him then, and that means succeeding with an emotional appeal is utterly useless. He'll have to find another way.
Just one more day passes before Mahone's trip-wire is triggered by a change in Scofield's behavior. The man was intense to begin with, but now it radiates off his every move. The way Scofield dodges in and out of shadows, his face a mask of concentration, just confirms Mahone suspicions: something's up.
In that moment, Mahone suddenly finds the leverage he's been searching for, something so simple it springs out of instinct as he pulls Scofield against him and holds him steady with the knife he made his own.
One of them is trembling, or maybe it's both of them—one trapped against his will and the other dizzy with the rushing hope of freedom. This is it, the last sliver of time before the door closes once and for all on Mahone and all that he loves. The words tumble out of him as fast as he can say them, and Scofield's gasp means he understands them:
"Take me with you, or you won't be leaving at all."
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