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26 May 2006 @ 01:00 pm
Prison Break Gen Fiction: Flown (Revised)  
Title: Flown
Author: HalfshellVenus
Character: Charles Westmoreland (Gen)
Rating: PG
Summary: What could have been, and what changed it all.
Author’s Notes: I just couldn't do it. The first verion met the 500-word limit, but it didn't say enough of what I wanted to for Westmoreland and for the philosophy_20 challenge. So this second version will be the "real" one, for prompt #4, “Inertia.” It is longer, at 730+ words.

x-x-x-x-x

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 whole mystery to his grave.

He’d quieted down some during his time inside. He never was flashy or loud, but he’d quickly settled into living in the background. Keeping safe, waiting out that sentence… he’d settled into the slow drift of nothingness. His days were books, dull food, and the occasional warmth of sunshine. His briefest joy was a sweet little cat he guarded like treasure; she was an appreciative, restful listener, and she kept him present and connected to the world.

The days ran together, became years of numbing sameness. It was a pattern endlessly repeated with sparks of riots, anger, surprise. People had tried to rile him up along the way, but he’d resisted. He didn’t owe them a thing, neither annoyance nor a modicum of intrigue.

Then this kid had come along, and started digging into the past. Words of insinuation and persuasion were offered— 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, heard one rock-headed idea after another. Why should this kid be the genius that succeeded?

He passed it on by without only the slightest bit of interest. Life wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad either, and he was still here waiting and surviving. Losing Marilyn hadn’t changed things either. Oh, he knew it could happen at some point, though he’d always hoped it wouldn’t. But he could keep on going without her, even as he died a little more inside when she was gone.

It was his daughter that made the difference. Nothing had jolted him like this since the crime that got him caught. The insane cruelty of keeping a man from his only, dying child until it was entirely too late to matter... that injustice finally broke the inertia that had stolen his life. This was worth escaping for. Suddenly this future, this slow fade into death inside prison, was no longer good enough.

His risk-taking streak edged on back. First, he set the trigger for the Break-Room arson. Then he gambled with the only memento of his daughter he had. And he had won that knock-down drag-out with Bellick to save the team’s chance to escape— pretty good for a tired old man.

He’d hung on so damned hard, through every aching, shuffling step down to the last. But now, here in the Infirmary, he knows. His journey ends right here. He’d taken that last chance at freedom, but an accident had finished it too soon. He won’t make it out to see her. He’ll 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. And he extracts a promise for his daughter, a messenger to deliver his love. It’s all right now. Everything is flattening out. His anxiety calms into silence, for he knows he will see her after all. It won’t be here, on this earth, but it will be soon.

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. Inertia calls to him again, and it cradles him in welcoming arms.

By the time the sirens sound and the floodlights roam the grounds, his journey is complete.

Peace remains. But Westmoreland has flown.


-------- fin --------



 
 
 
uponplains on May 26th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
Gah this is so good! I especially loved the part about how his risk-taking streak came back, because Westmoreland definitely kicked ass during that fire scene in the guard's room. Really nice job with this, I always love reading things about Westmoreland. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Casthalfshellvenus on May 27th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
I especially loved the part about how his risk-taking streak came back, because Westmoreland definitely kicked ass during that fire scene in the guard's room.
He definitely did-- he was quick-thinking and quick on his feet, and he tried to keep Bellick out of the way without permanently harming him. Michael would have approved.

So glad you liked this. *Sniff* Awesome character. So sorry he's gone. :(
Genevieve: pbtouch by artemisdawningmsgenevieve on May 27th, 2006 08:47 am (UTC)
This has actually given me goosebumps. Absolutely gorgeous and makes me pine for dear old Charles all over again. Thank you!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Casthalfshellvenus on May 27th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
This has actually given me goosebumps.
Ooooh-- send-me-over-the-moon feedback!

Absolutely gorgeous and makes me pine for dear old Charles all over again.
Then I have done my job-- he so deserves to be missed. What a cool and mysterious character he was. :)
Genevieve: michael in hat by kelz3192msgenevieve on May 28th, 2006 03:15 am (UTC)
Then I have done my job-- he so deserves to be missed. What a cool and mysterious character he was.

You certainly did do your job. I had to go and rewatch #120 last night after reading this, and his last conversation with Michael broke my heart all over again. As tributes go, this story is right up there.
Maz (or foxxy!)tuesdaeschild on May 27th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
It's difficult to see the screen when it's blurred with genuine tears. You've really done a number on me, sweetheart.

Charles is the one character that it's just impossible to dislike so this tender and poignant little piece has everything that I'm sure we all feel about him. And his relationship with Michael.

Losing Marilyn (I love that name for...well, people call me that all the time!) was heart-breaking enough; finding out he wouldn't be able to see his daughter before she died was shattering. But to die like that when it was so close, when he's saved the escape plan for the others...I'm just too done in to find the words.

In it's own way, truly beautiful and a fitting tribute to the character I know I'll miss so much.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Casthalfshellvenus on May 27th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC)
It's difficult to see the screen when it's blurred with genuine tears.
Oooh... Kleenex and heartfelt thanks to you.

finding out he wouldn't be able to see his daughter before she died was shattering.
So awful. I can't really come up with any justification for "You can go to her funeral, but you can't visit her before she dies." That makes NO SENSE-- not from a security standpoint, and certainly not from a human standpoint. And yet it's so awful a policy that it's completely realistic.

In it's own way, truly beautiful and a fitting tribute to the character I know I'll miss so much.
I hope it did him justice. Westmoreland deserved nothing less. R.I.P., Charles.
Maz (or foxxy!)tuesdaeschild on May 29th, 2006 08:56 am (UTC)
Thanks for the Kleenex, sweetheart. My, that was so moving.

"You can go to her funeral, but you can't visit her before she dies."
Utterly ludicrous! Yet you're right; it's such an uncaring policy that it has the ring of truth to it.

I hope it did him justice.
Trust me, you did. Completely.

Westmoreland deserved nothing less. R.I.P., Charles.
Amen to that. He'll be sadly missed.
Mayhem Parvaraincitygirl on May 30th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
So good. I really like how Charles sees the parallels between himself and Michael.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Casthalfshellvenus on May 30th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you. When you look at their "styles" of who they are, there are a lot of similarities. Except that Westmoreland set out to be a gentleman-robber who would liberate himself from that with a perfect single crime, whereas Michael never expected to be a criminal at all.

And yet both were quite good at it. And sympatico, down under the skin.
dragon9maiden on June 7th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
This is simply outstanding. Thank you for introducing me to this piece. It described Westmoreland's life with such astute accuracy.
You were exactly right--Westmoreland was the very symbol of inertia. I picture him as the rock embedded underneath the turbulent prison current. The current might smooth out the edges of the rock, but it could neither move it nor change its core. And yes, he had seen every kind of riot, chaos, and grandiose schemes, but everything died down eventually. For some people, hopes were dashed and lives were lost. Not for Westmoreland, he hoped for nothing and therefore had nothing to gain or lose. He became a true monk inside this hardly peaceful sanctuary.
You were completely right again--his daughter was one connection to the world. He was motivated out of his inertia. Suddenly he had everything to gain and lose. To me, this was a much better reason to escape than if Michael had somehow convinced him to leave. This very reason also made his heroic selflessness more believable.
I was really moved by the fact that he died with his eyes open. It was probably slightly freaky to some viewers, but I was told if a man dies with his eyes open, it means he had unfinished business in this world. In a way, his eyes were looking at the freedom outside the prison wall. They were also watching over Michael as he left.
"Flown" is by far my favorite piece.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Casthalfshellvenus on June 7th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
You were exactly right--Westmoreland was the very symbol of inertia.
I had ideas right away for several of the prompts in the philosophy_20 table, and this was one of the first, for exactly that reason. When I think of who "Inertia" represents on this show, it's Westmoreland. And he is such an interesting character as well.

This very reason also made his heroic selflessness more believable.
Yes-- it wasn't enough to escape for money. I doubt it mattered to him that much anymore. But to see his daughter before he died-- knowing what it would mean to both of them-- that was worth risking everything for.

but I was told if a man dies with his eyes open, it means he had unfinished business in this world. In a way, his eyes were looking at the freedom outside the prison wall. They were also watching over Michael as he left.
Interesting-- I hadn't heard this idea before. But it's true. He hung on until it would no longer matter to anyone-- even Michael-- because he could stay awhile longer, but not forever.

"Flown" is by far my favorite piece.
Wow. Then I definitely did the right thing in pointing you to it. :) Welcome to my Gen world-- there is a lot more like this.

And it's so nice to see how many other readers really liked Westmoreland as well. I think the audience had greater feeling for him than the show's producers probably realized or maybe even intended.