Title: The Least Mysterious of All Crafts
Fandom: Prison Break
Timeline/Spoilers: Based on ep 4.7 'Five The Hard Way'
Disclaimer: Not mine. We all know that.
Notes/Warnings: Unbetaed -- nitpicks & crit all welcome.
Summary: 'Acting is the least mysterious of all crafts. Whenever we want something from somebody or when we want to hide something or pretend, we're acting. Most people do it all day long.' - Marlon Brando
As soon as he walks out onto the roof, Alex knows something isn't right.
Michael heads straight towards Bellick and the girl, apparently unconcerned. But then, knowing Michael, that's probably because his mind is fully engaged with thinking two steps ahead in two parallel dimensions, about how to talk the girl out of wanting more money and how quickly they can get it out of Self if she won't back down, plus how else they might find T-Bag if the deal goes south or her intel isn't good.
Which means it's Alex's job to worry about the here and now. His instincts, honed by years of both training and people trying to kill him, bring him to a halt as he takes in the awkwardness of Bellick's posture, the tension in his shoulders. The girl stands a little apart from him, looking cowed, and Alex doubts that's due to Bellick's tough negotiating. He's come across various different versions of this tableau in his time, and they all meant one thing: a set-up.
He reaches out for Michael, but he's too late; T-Bag strides out from behind the van, a gun in his hand and a triumphant grin on his face.
'Sorry, guys,' Bellick says, looking pained. 'I walked straight into it, too.'
That doesn't comfort Alex much.
He gives T-Bag a cursory glance, just long enough to register the range and power of the gun, then starts scanning the terrain behind him. The wall is low enough to clear easily, and although it's a potentially bone-shattering drop all the way to the ground, there are a couple of trucks parked close to the building; if he can angle his jump right, he can land on the roof of one of them first and slide down in one piece from there.
T-Bag waves the gun at the girl and she obediently loads Bellick into the back of the van, then comes back and slips zip ties around Michael's and Alex's wrists with shaking, fumbling fingers. T-Bag aims the gun at each of them in turn, like a kid trying to choose who's next in line to be It.
As Michael gets in the van Alex hangs back a little, edging closer to the wall. A swift glance over it confirms his earlier assessment; the tie binding his wrists will hamper his balance and there won't be a great deal of cover when T-Bag starts firing, but it's a feasible strategy. He can make it work.
He tenses, getting ready to make his move, but T-Bag's voice flicks out and stops him. 'Hey! Lawman!' Don't you be thinking about doing something stupid, there. We don't have time for heroics.'
Alex turns back towards the van to see T-Bag lean in, his face close to Michael's. The muzzle of the gun plays up and down Michael's chest. 'I wonder, how many toes does a man have to lose before he can't walk at all?' T-Bag slides the gun lower and looks up at Alex. 'Now, are you going to do as you're told or shall we find out? Because I may need your boy's brain, Mahone, but I surely do not have use for his feet.'
Michael doesn't react. He ignores T-Bag completely and simply stares straight at Alex. Alex can feel the pressure of his thoughts like a physical force, telling him to run -- but one look at T-Bag's eyes tells Alex he's prepared to make good on his threat. Michael might be willing to take that chance, but Alex isn't.
He gets in the van.
After a short drive, they're hustled out of the vehicle and inside a well-kept but impersonal-looking condo. Alex, Bellick and the girl are shoved to the floor with their backs against the wall while Michael is tied to a chair at the small dining table. Alex looks around, but there's nothing within immediate range that could be used as a weapon. He decides to wait and see how this looks like playing out. 'Sit tight,' he whispers to a dejected-looking Bellick, 'but stay sharp.'
T-Bag looks around at them, scratching at his neck with the gun. He's sweating, his shirt collar pulled open. The suit he's wearing is clearly of good quality and well-made, but it still makes him look like a kid playing dress-up. Alex wonders exactly what the game is, here.
'All right, then,' T-Bag says. 'Since I have been so magnanimous as to keep all you fine folks alive, I think I deserve a little reward, don't you?'
Michael answers, his voice and gaze steady. 'What do you want, T-Bag?'
T-Bag swings to face him. 'Oh, now, let me see... how about a basket of kittens and world peace? You got that on you to provide, Scofield? No? What a shame. Then I guess I'll just have to settle for something else.'
He reaches inside the jacket and takes out Whistler's battered bird book, the loose pages held together by an elastic band. He throws it onto the table in front of Michael. 'I'm going to want you to do some translating for me, Pretty, tell me exactly what it is in these here pages that's got everybody so fired up.'
Michael shakes his head, a note of weariness in his tone. 'I don't know.'
T-Bag nods. 'Well, now, I thought you might just say something like that. So I'm thinking we'll put this aside for the moment, and save it for the main course. For an appetizer, how about we start with a little entertainment?'
Michael's eyes narrow and Bellick inhales sharply. The shadow of Sona, where entertainment was considered a synonym for torture, hasn't really dispelled for any of them.
T-Bag walks in a slow circle around Michael's chair. 'Calm down, boys, I'm not going to do any damage. Yet, anyway. I'm just thinking that I'd like to see a bit of a show. A private show for your benevolent patron. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, do you?'
Beside Alex, the girl stirs and lifts her chin. 'All right, you pervert, I know what you want. Let me up, and let's get it over with.'
T-Bag blinks, then gives a little snort of laughter. 'Oh, set yourself back down, sister. Relax. I'm sure you'd put on a mighty fine display, but I had something a little different in mind. Something with a little more personal history, hmm?' He leans forward and presses the gun against the back of Michael's neck. 'Since you're such an expert at everything, Scofield, I'm sure your skills are just dazzling. I think I'd like to see them in action.'
A muscle jumps in Michael's jaw. 'What exactly do you want from me, T-Bag?' His voice sounds hoarse.
T-Bag walks in front of the chair again. 'I'm sorry, did I not make myself clear?' He leans down so that his face is level with Michael's. 'I would like to see you give a blow job, Scofield. I want you to demonstrate just what a cocksucker you really are.'
There's a moment of silence in the room as Michael shifts in the chair. His gaze drops nervously to T-Bag's crotch.
T-Bag throws back his head and laughs. 'Oh, hell no, Pretty. Do you seriously think I'm going to let you anywhere near my pride and joy with your teeth? No, no. I said I want a show.'
He manhandles Michael, chair and all, into the middle of the room. He pulls another chair out and places it opposite Michael's, then waves the gun over Alex's and Bellick's heads. 'So, Pretty, who's the lucky boy going to be, hmm? I'm going to let you choose, because I am just that good to you.'
Michael swallows hard but says nothing.
'What's the matter, can't make up your mind? How about I do it for you, then?' He grabs Bellick's shoulder and starts to haul him up. Michael makes a strangled sort of noise.
T-Bag pauses. 'No? All right. Brad, you can step down. Mahone, looks like you're on point.'
He pulls Alex to his feet and motions for him to sit in the empty chair, then leans against the wall and adopts an interested expression.
Michael looks at the floor, the ceiling, the walls, anywhere but at Alex. Finally, he looks at T-Bag. 'I can't do this.'
T-Bag shakes his head. 'Well, I'm sorry but I don't buy that. Not for one minute. Because if there is one thing I know about Michael Scofield, it's that he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.' He pushes off from the wall. 'So, I guess we just have to find out what it is that he wants, huh?'
He gestures towards Alex with the gun. 'What do you think, Mahone? You useful enough to Scofield here to make him want to keep you alive?' He moves the gun closer until Alex can feel the cold metal grazing the skin of his temple. 'Doesn't look like it, does it?'
Michael leans forward, straining against the rope around his chest. 'Wait. T-Bag, just... wait.'
T-Bag gives him a bright, wide smile and pats the gun lovingly. 'There we go. Isn't it just a wonderful thing, how good a weapon can be for concentrating the mind? Okay then, boys, I guess we're in business.'
Michael glances at Bellick and the girl, still sat, wide-eyed, against the wall. T-Bag's grin becomes knowing. 'Oh, right. Too big a crowd give you a touch of the nerves, huh? A little stage fright? Well, as I think I have proven, I can be a generous man when I have a mind to be. And I do think I like the idea of a private viewing. So--' he raises the gun at Bellick -- 'Brad, take Little Miss Sunshine into the bedroom there and keep her amused until I'm ready for you.'
Bellick gets gracelessly to his feet, his hands still tied behind him. He shoots a look of nervous sympathy at Alex and shepherds the girl through the door that T-Bag indicates. It shuts behind them.
'There we are now,' T-Bag says with a victorious drawl. 'A little privacy.'
He pulls a knife out of his pocket, leans over and cuts the rope binding Michael to the chair. He raises one leg and kicks the back of it, spilling Michael forward onto the floor. 'I believe that's your cue, Mr Scofield. I hope you're ready for your close up.'
Michael's head hangs down for a second, then he looks up at Alex. 'I'm sorry,' he whispers.
Alex bends down towards him. 'It's all right, Michael,' he says urgently. 'It's all right. It's just... bad timing, you know?' He locks his gaze on Michael's, willing his thoughts to carry. 'It's all about the timing. If we could get that right, things could be different. Do you understand what I'm saying, Michael? If we--'
T-Bag walks behind Alex, clucking his tongue. 'All right, boys, that's enough sweet talk. Now get down to business and show me what you can do, Pretty.'
Michael doesn't move. T-Bag huffs impatiently and raises the gun back to Alex's temple. 'I'm getting tired of your dilly dallying, Scofield. Do as I say or I will shoot him in the head and get Brad off the bench.'
'All right, T-Bag,' Michael says, but his eyes stay focused on Alex's and he gives an almost imperceptible nod. 'I get it.'
He gets on his knees and shuffles forward awkwardly until he can rest his forearms on Alex's thighs. His fingers slide along the rough denim in long, rhythmic strokes and Alex's breath hitches a little, catching in his throat. He leans his head down just as Michael raises his up, and their mouths come together as smoothly as if the move had been choreographed.
Michael's lips are surprisingly soft. His breath is sweet, tasting faintly of the apple he'd been eating in the car earlier. Alex pushes with his tongue and Michael opens his mouth, allowing Alex's tongue to slip inside and intertwine with his own. His eyes close.
When the kiss breaks Alex feels breathless, a little dizzy. He blinks hard. Michael's eyes are still closed, his lips parted. He breathes out softly, slowly, and it sounds like Alex's name.
'Very nice,' T-Bag says. 'A little foreplay, how gentlemanly. Very civilized. But you know what? I'm not such a civilized man. So let's switch the sweet talk for the dirty. Talk to me, Pretty. Tell me what you're going to do to this man here. Tell me how much you're going to enjoy it.'
Michael opens his eyes but the lids stay hooded, the pupils dark with heat. The tip of his tongue flicks out over his bottom lip, which looks a little bruised and swollen. 'I'm going to take out his cock,' he says, his voice low and rough, 'and put it in my mouth. I'm going to use my tongue, my lips and my teeth. I'm going to lick, and suck, until there's nothing left to swallow.'
An involuntary shudder runs through Alex's body and he becomes aware of how fiercely, achingly hard he is.
'Well, that's more like it,' T-Bag says. 'I always knew it, Scofield. Always knew you for exactly what you are. Now do it. Do it exactly like you said.'
Michael moves his bound hands closer, reaching for the zipper on Alex's jeans. The sight makes Alex's head spin, and he has to take a gasping breath.
'Oh, yeah,' T-Bag says softly, his voice coming from close behind Alex's shoulder. 'That's it, just like that. You like this, don't you, Pretty? This is exactly what you want.'
'Yes, it is,' Michael says, then looks up so that his eyes meet Alex's. 'I want this,' he says. 'I want it right now.'
And with that, Alex throws his head back violently. The back of his skull connects hard with T-Bag's nose and the air fills with the satisfying crunch of broken bone. Alex feels a splash of hot blood down the back of his neck and knows it isn't his.
T-Bag lets out a croaking cry and staggers backwards, dropping the gun and raising his good hand up to his face. Alex flings himself out of the chair and crashes into T-Bag, the movement toppling them both to the floor. He lands with an elbow in T-Bag's chest and a knee in his groin. Michael is already on his feet and scrambling for the weapon.
With the gun secure, Alex gives T-Bag one final double-handed blow to the jaw and pushes himself away, sliding on his ass along the wooden floor. He sits for a second with his head down, breathing hard, then hauls himself upright. He takes T-Bag's knife and first cuts the tie around Michael's hands, then his own.
T-Bag has pushed himself into a sitting position and is trying to stem the flow of blood from his shattered nose. He looks up at Alex with a wounded expression. 'Well, hell, Mahone. And there I was thinking we were having ourselves some fun, here.'
Alex takes a step towards him but stills when Michael puts a hand on his wrist -- so lightly he should barely be able to feel the contact at all. But he can; his skin tingles as if exposed to a live wire. 'It's enough,' Michael says. Get Bellick and Trishanne, and let's get out of here.'
Alex nods once, and heads for the bedroom.
Back at the warehouse, Michael spreads the pages from the bird book over the table, carefully recreating Whistler's blueprint. Self stands at his side, arms folded, watching him work. 'This is good,' he says, nodding. 'This is real good. This is progress.'
Bellick stands at the other end of the table, eyeing Alex and Michael in turn. 'Yeah,' he says. 'Good job you guys did back there, getting away from Bagwell. 'Cause I got to tell you, it looked like he had the upper hand.' He pauses, and flashes a tiny, rather sheepish grin. 'Uh, no pun intended.'
When neither of them responds, he wanders closer. 'So, how'd you do it? Get the gun away from him, I mean? I was trying to listen in from the other room, in case, you know, there was something I could do to help, but...' he stops again, and shrugs.
Michael looks up from table, a blue-lined page in one hand, and glances briefly at Alex before slotting it into place. 'Theodore is hardly the criminal mastermind he likes to think he is.'
'Yeah, but how'd you --'
Michael turns to stare directly at Bellick. 'We overpowered him. We got his gun. We got the bird book. We saved your ass. Any other questions?'
Bellick holds up his hands. 'Hey, man, no, it was, you know...' he trails off. 'Good work.'
'Thank you, Brad,' Michael says flatly.
He maintains the stare until Bellick backs away and turns his attention to Sucre instead. 'Oh, hey, and you guys, too. You got Scuderi's card, right?'
At the far end of the room, Roland snickers from behind his laptop. 'Yeah. Fernando Gigolo worked real hard for it. Really shook his tailfeathers.'
Sucre looks at him with an expression that alternates between anger and something like wonder. 'You do actually have a death wish, don't you?'
Roland's head ducks back down behind the screen.
At Bellick's enquiring look, Sucre shrugs and gestures towards Michael. 'It's like the man said. We got the goods. That's what matters. That's all that matters.'
He walks away and, after a final furtive glance at Michael, Bellick follows. Self disappears outside to make a phone call, leaving Michael and Alex alone at the table.
'They're right, you know,' Alex says. 'Sucre and Bellick. And Self, come to that. We got the job done, and it was good work. We did what we had to do.'
Michael reaches down for a new page, then gives him a sideways glance. 'Thank you for the reassurance, Alex, but it's not needed.'
He rubs at his wrist, where Alex can see a raised red mark from the zip tie and -- or maybe he's imagining it -- still a tiny, faint blue line. 'Out of all the things I've had to do since this started, having to act out T-Bag's fantasies isn't going to make the top ten -- hell, the top hundred -- of ones that keep me up at night.' He stops, and his eyes seek out Alex's. His lips quirk into a small smile. 'Well, not through worry, anyway.'
Alex reaches out and touches a fingertip to the mark on Michael's wrist. 'I'm glad you knew what I was thinking, back there.'
Michael shivers slightly as Alex's finger moves over his skin. 'Oh, I'm pretty sure we both knew exactly what was going through each other's mind.'
'Michael...' Alex starts, then pauses. Over Michael's shoulder, he sees the warehouse door open and Sara slip inside. She looks cold, her arms wrapped around herself, but when she sees Michael at the table she smiles and lets her hands relax to her sides. Lincoln walks in behind her and follows her gaze, taking in the two of them. He doesn't smile.
Alex takes a step back, shoving his hands in his pockets. Michael frowns, then looks behind him. Seeing Sara, his lifts his hand in a wave. When he turns back to Alex, the amused smile has turned wistful. 'You were right about one thing,' he says. 'It's all about the timing. That can be the hardest part of any plan.'
'Yeah. Sometimes that bit just never comes right.'
Michael runs his hand over his skull as he watches Sara approach. 'I'm not saying this -- any of this -- is going to be easy. But the three of us? We're intelligent, resourceful people. If anyone could put a workable plan together, it's us.'
Alex takes a further step back. 'Sure,' he says, hearing the lack of conviction in his voice and knowing Michael does too. 'But you know, it isn't like we haven't already got half a dozen other impossible things to do before breakfast.'
Michael leans over the table and spreads his hands over the bluepirint, smoothing it out. He lets his head hang down for a second and gives a little half-sigh, half-laugh. 'You're right, of course.' He straightens up. 'I guess we'd better get back to work, then.'
As Sara and Lincoln walk up to the table, Alex nods at them. 'Back to work,' he agrees, and turns away.