Character: Charles Westmoreland (Gen)
Summary: What could have been, and what changed it all.
Author’s Notes: Written for pbreak_drabbles Challenge #11 for stories from the finale, “Flight.” I was not satisfied with this for philosophy_20, however, and it has been re-written in the following post.
Hard to believe he used to be ambitious.
He had it all planned out once. The perfect crime. Riches beyond dreaming and a lifetime to enjoy them.
The irony still just about kills him. He did it. He actually pulled the damned thing off. And then, in the middle of his waiting-it-out-and-lying-low-period… he slipped up. On some entirely unrelated piece of foolishness.
Years of cooling his heels in the pen, and that fortune was still hiding-- locked up where even rats couldn’t use it. He’d gotten older, and prison life was dicey. He might even take that secret to his grave.
He’d quieted down some during his time inside. He never was flashy or loud, but escaping people’s notice became a gift. Keeping alive, waiting out that sentence with his treasured feline friend… he’d settled into the slow drift of nothingness.
Then this kid came along, started digging into the past. Insinuation, persuasion-- like he’d just spill all his secrets and hop onboard some pie-in-the-sky notion of a breakout. He’d seen that tried before. Why should this kid be the genius that succeeded?
Losing Marilyn hadn’t pushed him. Oh, he knew that could happen at some point, though he’d always hoped it wouldn’t. But he could keep on going, die a little bit more inside.
His daughter made the difference. The insane cruelty of keeping a man from his only, dying child until it was entirely too late to matter... that had finally broken the inertia that formed his days.
His risk-taking streak edged on back. First, setting the trigger for arson. Then gambling with the only memento of his daughter. And he’d won that knock-down drag-out with Bellick to save the team’s chances—pretty good for a tired old man.
He’d hung on so damned hard, through every aching, shuffling step down to the end. But now he knew. For him, the journey stopped here. He’d taken that last chance, but an accident had finished it. He wouldn’t make it out to see her. He’d never have that last goodbye.
He knows Michael better now, that he’s more than just some kid. Michael never belonged here, and he’s got too many secrets of his own. But knowing why won’t change what is. There’s something special inside Michael that perceives more than money inside of him. Westmoreland sees it shining through now, in murmured encouragements to keep trying… and then sadness when the hopelessness is clear.
He offers the only thing he has—to the only person who’ll survive and deserve it. He extracts a promise for his daughter—a messenger for his love.
The room glows behind Michael’s head, those eyes swimming before his own in the wavering blue darkness. Sounds of motion he can’t process echo in bursts through his confusion. He slips into the carelessness of nothing as the light fades from the room.
By the time the sirens sound and the floodlights roam the grounds, his journey is complete.
Peace remains. But Westmoreland has flown.
-------- FIN --------