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“We’ve got to get back to my car,” Sara breathed hurriedly, spinning to face the direction they had run from. Her mouth was open as she sucked in desperate breaths and her eyes were wide with fear. Michael followed her gaze to the empty waste ground before them, his back pressed to a cool metallic surface behind him and his mouth twisted with his own deep inhalations.

“It’s too far,” he whispered huskily after a pause, lifting his aching muscles to his face where he pulled his sunglasses free from his eyes. Michael flicked a glance at Sara as he spoke, quickly returning his gaze to the waste ground they had left behind.

“If we go now, before he gets more people?” Sara heaved, her voice higher in pitch than before and her hazel eyes fixated on Michael’s form. Her eyes that searched for the answers.

“He’s not going to call for back-up,” Michael said in a tone that sent a shiver down Sara’s spine as Mahone’s car crunched to a halt in the dry, dusty dirt. She clutched at the foreign harshness of the wall in front of her, seeking comfort in anything she could find. Michael pushed himself off of the wall opposite the doorway and pressed himself to the one opposite, his eyes darting around the corner to where the dust covered car had stopped, its front bumper hanging loosely off from their collision and its entire side void of paint. “He wants his privacy,” Michael panted with distain.

“Why?” She queried Michael soon as the words left his mouth.

“He’s not trying to catch me,” Michael breathed quietly, his gasps ragged as he spoke and his throat burning from the dry, dusty atmosphere. His steely blue gaze never left Mahone as the agent stepped confidently from his car; his dark shades hiding his eyes as he casually pushed the door closed and surveyed his hunting grounds. Michael frowned, desperately trying to interpret Mahone’s intentions. “He’s trying to kill me,” Michael revealed, eyes still fixated on Mahone.

“What the hell?” Sara screeched on a whisper, her own frown invading her brow as she grabbed for Michael’s arm, shaking him to face her. Michael took in her fear, etched across every inch of her face and his eyes darted to where her hand warmed his skin through his shirt. “Michael?” Sara urged, using his name like a question.

Michael shot another quick glance at Mahone behind them before rushing forward, his entire weight pressing against Sara’s and willing her to move. Sara fell into step behind Michael, quickly shooting a glance behind her shoulder as Michael strode off confidently in front of her, taking in his surroundings and formulating a plan. The old factory was dark, musty and very claustrophobic.

“I don’t want to get trapped in here,” Sara confessed, her own husky voice almost cracking with her revelation as she scuffed her feet to keep up with Michael. Michael didn’t look at her, just ahead, to the side, anywhere. He had gotten her into this, and he had to get her out.

“There’s got to be an exit on the other side,” he rationalised, his voice a little more steady than before. They rounded a corner and Michael threw his weight against a wall with a bump, peering around the concrete column hurriedly before turning back to Sara. He stepped forward towards her and caught her frightened eyes with his steady blue stare. “You go on…” he told her firmly.

“Michael…” Sara whispered, her skin flushing hot with fear and her heart pounding in her chest. The escalating numbness of her adrenaline raged body was evident in her voice, a begging plea for Michael not to leave her.

“I’ll be right behind you,” Michael breathed sternly. He reached out and cupped her elbow gently with his hand, sending a different kind of shiver through Sara’s terrified body. “Go!” he mouthed to her with wide eyes, moving Sara’s body with his own and sending her off into one direction of the abandoned establishment. With one last glance behind her, Sara took of into the unknown, her flat soled shoes slapping silently against the debris laden floor and her hair flailing behind her rushing body.

Michael stayed where he was, his attention caught by the unmistakable sound of footsteps twisting in the dust behind him. Mahone’s body shielded the light entering the factory, casting a dark, menacing shadow over the concrete floor. His weapon was drawn, cast at arms length into the dank factory as he moved through the doorway. Mahone’s ears strained to listen for movement and his body spun violently to his left and then froze, the only sound being heard was the cold metal mechanism of his handgun.

Michael blinked around the corner where he stood, taking in the agent’s figure and stance as he aimed into the darkness. There were just two spaces left for him to aim down blindly before he would turn the corner and Michael would see the flash of an ignition and feel the burn of a bullet. Michael’s eyes frantically searched the shadowy ground, analysing every scrap of debris and turning it into a weapon. He froze, his eyes locking onto a length of metallic piping leaning invitingly against the dirty wall. Michael grabbed it and yielded it like a baseball bat as he sidestepped back towards the edge of the wall.

Michael shot another quick glance around the corner and saw Mahone spin on his heels and point his standard issue into another empty space. Mahone’s features softened and his shoulder’s relaxed slightly, a small breath of built up tension escaping his lips. Michael nervously rolled the rough metal bar around in his hands, the crumbly rust chaffing his palms and grazing his fingers. Taking a giant step backwards, Michael’s heartbeat sped up in its ribcage prison and he bobbed up and down on his feet in anticipation. Suddenly, a clink of metal on metal rang out beside his ear and he turned his head to see that his makeshift defence had bashed against an overhead pipe.

Mahone froze, his eagle like icy blue stare pinpointed on the corner where he had heard the noise. His breathe hitched in his throat and he dared not blink as he took a tentative step towards the damaged concrete corner. Michael silently cursed himself, his lips pulling taught across his face into a scowl of discontent as he eyed the rod in his hand. It jumped in his sweating palms, twisting and changing position each time he willed it to before fastening his knuckles around it in an iron grip.

Mahone took another step closer, leaning his body to the right, a movement just slight enough to peer around the corner after he took his next step. His breathing stilled, and all but disappeared while he lowered his gun without a sound and awkwardly listened to the sounds of a panicked man. Michael braced himself for Mahone. Why he thought a man with a pole could outdraw a man with a gun he did not know. All he wanted to do was protect Sara.

Mahone took but a second to rethink his approach and slowly stepped backwards from the weathered corner’s edge. Michael gripped at the pipe until his hands burned from lack of blood flowing to his white digits, but nothing happened. A rush of adrenaline surged Michael’s body and all he could hear was the pounding of his own blood pumping through his body in dull thumps through his ears. His ears pricked to attention when Mahone’s footsteps shuffled through some gritty substance scattered across the stone cold floor but were quieter then before. He was moving.

Michael panted and in a split second was at the opposite edge of the column, his grip already tight around the rusted pole and his back sliding along the eroded wall. It had, at one stage, been painted, a thin coating of off white trade grade paint slapped over the solid pillar. Now, the walls were covered with the grubby marks of inquisitive teenagers and the paint had begun to peel. Michael looked around the corner so fast that the shape of Mahone’s gun emerging around a support at the opposite end of the factory was shortly followed only by the black blur of Mahone’s suit as Michael recoiled and slammed himself back against the concrete.

Like a hawk, Mahone’s stare followed the line sight of his gun as he pointed it towards Michael but sidestepped behind a second massive pillar. He approached a second clearing where three large hollow metal wheels, that had been painted yellow once upon a time, decorated a square system of pipes. The tiniest ray of daylight slithered in through a broken window, illuminating the nearby wall with a ghostly blue haze.

Michael darted across Mahone’s path in the shadows, leaving the agent unaware of his movements while he occupied himself with another prize. Mahone’s ears had picked up the tiniest sound of scuffling, too loud to be mice in the dusty corners of the abandoned building. His eyes darted between where the light spilled into the factory and where the shadows began. Both places intrigued him. He knew at least one of them harboured what he sought out so ruthlessly.

Sara held her breath and pushed herself harder into the wall. Her fingernails frayed on the rough floor as she scrambled to hold herself still, her elbows shaking and threatening to buckle. Michael’s heart fluttered in his chest, panic washing through him and heating his soul. Mahone tread silently towards her hiding place, stalking her like a cat that would pounce and most certainly end her life in cold blood. Michael took one more glance towards Mahone as he closed the gap and his ravenous blue stare searched his hiding place for a distraction.

Michael’s breath caught when he caught sight of another length of pipe balanced precariously against the crumbling wall beside him. He stepped out, analysing the distance he could step and be unseen before reaching out with the metal pipe he clutched in his hand. Using it as an extension of his arm, Michael hooked the edge of his make shift weapon into the cobweb riddled end of the pipe and flipped it onto its side. The pipe hit the ground with a metallic ricocheting echo that bounced off the flea bitten walls and caught Mahone’s attention.

Michael twisted back around the corner and bit his bottom lip between his teeth, hiding his laboured response to Sara’s frailty. Mahone rotated the balls of his feet in the dusty floor with a crunching sound, his body tensed and his finger slid from the safety position on the muzzle of his gun to the trigger. His eyes were wide as they peered down the barrel of his gun toward the sound, his feet moved stealthily forward increasing his pace in the hope of capturing the elusive Michael Scofield.

Michael pounded the pole into his palm and took off running away from where he had caused the distraction. He spun around briefly; making sure Mahone’s footsteps were still following him as he led him away from Sara. Michael inhaled deeply, the scent of the old building invading his nostrils and sickening him to his stomach. Rounding a corner, he did not look back.

Sara waited. The resonance of footsteps faded away as quickly as they had come, heading in steady pace towards the fallen metal pipe. Sara’s brow felt clammy and her fingers itched, covered in the fine grey dust that covered every surface of the factory. Her mouth was full of saliva where she was afraid to swallow, and her eyes had accustomed to the darkened corner, each hazel orbs circulating in its socket with a nervous twitching motion.

Sara leant sideways, peering around the corner into silence. Mahone was gone. Michael was gone. Only the footprints of movement since gone were left on the filthy floor, and minute particles of churned up dust danced in the stream of light spilling in from the broken window. Sara’s feet slid from under her as she pushed herself to stand. She squeezed herself free from her cramped hiding place and took off towards Mahone’s car.

Sara paused briefly; pressing her self flush against the harsh concrete wall before her. A tiny trace of doubt invaded her mind and she had to make sure Mahone was really gone and had not set a trap to capture her. Sara’s hair fell in front of her face as she moved her face to look around the corner. Nothing was there except the disturbance of dust on the floor and more silence. With a breath of relief, Sara cast her gaze over her shoulder and took in the inviting shape of Mahone’s black car. She stopped, her eyes returning to the empty factory and then to the car, and in a split second she decided to hide and wait for Michael.

Michael panted through his nose as he pressed his lips together and dived out of view behind a generator that had been painted green. His eyes scanned his surroundings, searching for a way to stop Mahone. Even though Michael clutched the rusted pipe in his hands, he didn’t want to use it on another human being, even if that human being wanted him dead. Michael’s loosely hanging tie swung over his ruffled white shirt as he turned to inspect the way he had come. Nothing.

The dust on the floor on this side of the building was grittier than before, solidified into small stones under Michael’s feet as he moved to elude Mahone. Blinded by a second of hope, Michael’s arm collided with a shard of metal and a searing hot pain shot through his body. Michael grunted, hiding his obvious discomfort through gritted teeth, and he stumbled sideways, spying the offending splinter as he did. It was large enough to inflict damage but small enough to be easily missed. And it had been.

Michael’s hand gripped over his forearm that pulsated with pain. Michael doubled over, and his lips pressed tightly together to hide his agony. Michael lifted his hand and the glistening crimson sheen of blood oozed from a gash in his skin, readily soaking into his shirt that stuck to his arm. Michael winced and reapplied his hand to the wound, dragging his feet a little as he stumbled onwards.

Mahone stalked his prey, gun at arms length and body turned slightly sideways for a better view of that perfectly aimed kill shot. He passed through a patch of darkness but felt at home, calm and collected as the blackness enveloped his frame. It was burnt away from a section of light that he quickly exited to hide his predatory form once more. Mahone lowered his weapon, relaxing his approach as he tread skilfully through the rubble.

Michael’s chest was on fire, burning with need for more oxygen in his lungs as he came to a stop. There was a cage made of chain link that contained some boxes, musty and slightly green at the edges from abandonment many years ago. Michael’s eyes met a large tap in the room, and a rectangular label hung from it. One an aged red background, in warning white letters were the words “Warning! Flammable” and then “Propane Gas”, each section of text separated by a large white, flickering flame image.

Michael spun on his heels, turning to face behind him as he heard the shuffle of footprints in some of the scattered rubble. Mahone’s eyes lit up at the sound of a disturbance ahead and his arm extended forward, straight and locked into position with his handgun grasped firmly in his palm. A patch of daylight ahead of him was undisturbed and eerily silent. Mahone dropped his weapon to his side and peered through the gap between two walls. Nothing.

Michael’s hand gripped at his arm, halting the flow of blood that had begun to make him feel giddy with his increased heart rate. Michael’s feet skidded to a stop when he was met with a dead end at the back of the cage, the inviting daylight of freedom an illusion from a nearby window. The reinforcing bars of lightweight metal across each panel of the cage were darkened from exposure; unkempt for so long Michael was sure they would crumble under his touch. However, to try and break his way out would make too much noise.

Michael’s mind raced with all possible and impossible escape routes. His face flushed with sweat and he shot a quick look at the gaping slash under his blood stained hand. As if drawn to it, Michael spied the red industrial tag attached to the rusted wheel of the propane tap. His breathing became shallower and his frown disappeared as he turned the wheel with two strong hands, the cable tag snapped free and a mist of gas hissed into the room.

The hissing sound didn’t register to Mahone as he turned a corner into the daylight, immediately securing his weapon at arms length once again. There was a void of everything except the daylight and some algae stained boxes behind a chain fence. Mahone paced towards the fence, eager to investigate the source of daylight as it aroused his intrigue even more. Scofield had to be this way; there was nowhere else left to run.

A metallic twang echoed from behind the boxes, grabbing Mahone’s attention and drawing him closer to it. It was a faint sound but close, possibly the misguided error of a convict in hiding. A space large enough to hide such a person was easily distinguishable behind two large blue barrels stacked on top of each other next to two crates stacked in the same way. Mahone paused in a doorway, a crate with a yellow “Fragile: handle with care” sticker so old it had become part of the wood on it in front of him obstructed his view. He cocked his head, trying to distinguish a new sound before venturing further in and freezing with shock when he hit a dead end.

Mahone’s jaw dropped open with shock and his gun dangled limp in his hand at his side. A dirty chain held two sides of the fencing together; enclosing it in a chain link cage that Mahone saw no escape from. The chain was undisturbed and so was the dust covering the floor. Mahone’s eyes darted back and forth frantically as he contemplated how Michael had escaped. Without warning, a grunt alerted him to the doorway, where Michael’s heavy mass was pressed against the mesh as it locked him in the cage.

Mahone was too late to stop the door from closing and his fingers gripped clumsily at the rusted mesh and his body slumped against it. Michael’s sighed, his shoulders moving up and down on each breath as he stepped back from the door. Mahone tensed again and his jacket flew open as he planted the muzzle of his gun into one of the diamond shaped spaces between the links.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you Alex,” Michael breathed, one hand still clutching the rusted pipe he has fashioned as a weapon earlier and the other, crusted with blood, still pinned to his forearm. He turned his head and inhaled deeply. “You smell that?” he asked Mahone who stood unmoved in his prison, staring at Michael with a deep, dark hatred. “Its propane, It’s filling the room,” Michael smirked, the corner of his mouth twisting upwards in triumph. “And if you pull that trigger, we both die.”

Mahone sucked in a hiss, baring his teeth and showing his frustration and anger. His finger was poised on the trigger of his gun but he dared not pull it. The butt was pressed to tightly into his palm he thought his hand was going numb and his steely azure eyes were tainted with a trace of desperation so great he considered ending his own life in order to catch the man in front of him. So close, yet so far. He withdrew from the door, stepped backwards still aiming his gun at Michael and kicked furiously at the chain binding the cage closed.

Mahone pulled at the fence but it refused to move and he pushed himself off of it with a loud growl of rage. He pointed his weapon at Michael once more and advanced on the door. “I’ll do it,” he spat at Michael as he reached the door. “I’ll do it!” he roared, his deep tone surprising only him as Michael simply brushed off his threat.

“Maybe,” Michael replied calmly, stepping sideways and pacing before him. “But before you do, let me ask you a question Alex,” he puffed on a breath, turning to face the agent he held captive. Mahone licked his lips and swayed backwards, his palm sweaty against the cold metal of his gun that threatened to slip from his grasp. “Do you think you’re still one of the good guys?” Michael asked and Mahone twitched his head sideways with an evil smile. “Fighting the good fight? Because I think we both know, you’ve crossed over.”

Mahone nodded sarcastically at Michael but did not interrupt. “You’re on the wrong side chasing the wrong guys. My brother is innocent,” Michael whispered with a shake of his head. “He never killed anyone.”

“Well thanks for opening my eyes,” Mahone shot back dryly. Michael stared at him before repositioning himself in front of Mahone’s gun.

“Ok Alex, shoot,” Michael commanded, already knowing that the agent wouldn’t. “We both know what’ll happen,” he told him matter of factly.

“The propane will kill me anyway, what difference does it make, I might as well do it now,” Mahone shot back in a husky voice, his hand quivering and his throat dry. Michael dropped his eyes to the floor with thought before returning them a second later.

“That’s a good point,” he quipped before moving to the nearby window and smashing the glass out with his makeshift weapon. The pipe hit the glass and smashed it without effort, glittering shards falling to the ground with a twinkling sound. Mahone followed Michael’s movements with his gun, taken back by his actions. “There you go,” Michael chimed, shaking the pipe in the frame and loosening more glass to the ground.

“There,” Michael shouted as he slammed the pipe into the chain link barrier between him and Mahone. “There!” he repeated louder and gruffer than before, his voice easily audible over the clatter of the pipe as he threw it to the ground. “That’ll give you some time to think about what you’re doing,” he paused, sucking in a large breath to clam his frustration. “But first a word of advice,” Michael whispered, taking a step closer to the twisted metal wall between them. “Stop, because when you get close, I will win every time.”

Michael’s words drizzled through the air and his eyes bore holes straight through Mahone. He loosened his grip on his weapon and sighed, dropping his gaze to the floor. “You think?” he asked, his voice laced with derision. Michael looked him up and down and a smile peaked on his face.

“I’m not the one in the cage,” Michael said and gripped the wound on his arm as he turned to leave.

“No you’re not,” Mahone laughed as Michael paced steadily away. He lifted his head and fidgeted the gun in his hands. “There’s one big difference between you and I Michael,” Mahone called out and Michael stopped and turned only his head to glance halfway over his shoulder. “And you’ve just proved it,” Mahone told him a little calmer. “You can’t kill, and that’s what it is going to take to stop me,” he growled, “Because I don’t have the same reservations,” he paused and looked away slowly. “I can,” he breathed, instantly hating what he had become.

Michael’s heavy feet resumed motion and he slumped from the cage. “So whether it’s today in Gila, or tomorrow in Albuquerque, or two months from now in Panama,” Mahone shouted and Michael froze, his words frightening Michael into submission as he contemplated how his plan had been so compromised. Michael’s eyes shifted sideways towards Mahone but he did not turn towards him as he spoke. “I will get you,” he promised with certainty and Michael moved around a corner and out of his view. “I don’t have a choice,” he whispered to himself.

Sara’s hands stung as she dragged them along the concrete walls and tried to find any indication of Michael. She had not heard gunfire or the screaming of a wounded man so she had to assume that the agent was still looking for them both. Sara was alone and her feet were tired, constantly tripping on the rubble as she persistently glanced over her shoulder, paranoid she would be found.

A faint scuffle up ahead of her sent a shiver down her spine and she froze to the spot. The footsteps grew louder, pounding against the factory floor and bouncing off the walls around Sara. She spun around, disorientated and tried to pinpoint where the footsteps were coming from but as her heart raced in her chest, all she could heard was her blood pounding through her ears. She looked around and in a panic, yanked open a metal door to a cupboard that had been dented severely, and slid herself inside to hide.

It was dark inside the confined space and Sara swore her laboured breathing had already heated the square cupboard by several degrees. Her breath hitched in her throat when she heard someone’s feet shuffle to a stand still in the rubble, the realisation that she was not alone suddenly very evident. Sara clamped a shaking hand over her mouth, desperate to muffle the sounds of her breathing as her body flushed hot with fear and tears stung the back of her throat.

Her eyes went wide and her chest heaved with each shallow breath as she sucked in oxygen through the gaps in her fingers. The footsteps approached nearer and a small stone rebounded off the metallic door making Sara jump and squeal in a high-pitched whirr. The light peaking under the door was disrupted by the shadow of a figure and Sara pinched her eyes closed tightly when the hinges creaked, and the door was opened.

A tear rolled down her cheek as Sara shook uncontrollably in her hiding place. A shadowy figure loomed above her but she dared not open her eyes. When a massive hand reached out and touched her on the shoulder she jumped back with a screech, and she pounded the figure with tiny clenched fists. Two powerful hands wrapped around her wrists and held her flailing arms in front of her. As she sobbed, Sara inhaled a welcoming scent so familiar to her, and so alluring that’s she peeled open an eye to confirm her sensory finding.

“Sara,” Michael breathed, loosening his grip on her arms when he was content she no longer saw him as a threat. He smiled faintly but it did not calm her nerves.

“Oh my god, Michael. I thought you were that agent,” Sara sobbed, emotion washing over her and her voice breaking from her tears. “He was so close, and I thought he was going to find me,” she babbled, her eyes falling to Michael’s chest where they darted across the white material of his shirt fretfully.

“It’s ok…” Michael began, smoothing a hand over her shoulders to calm her, but he was cut off with more of her incoherent ranting.

“He has a gun,” she breathed before a sob hitched in her throat and more tears fell. “He was going to kill me. Us. He would have killed us!”

“Sara, you’re safe now…” Michael tried again, his soothing words lost in her slurry of shaky words.

“I don’t want to die Michael. I have nothing left to live for but I don’t want to die.” Sara’s tears stained her cheeks, making dark lines down her face as she cried. Sara sniffed tears back down her throat, swallowing the burning lump. “I am too young to…” she began, but this time her words were cut short.

Michael’s inhaled deeply, cupped Sara’s delicate face in his hand and tilted her head towards his as he leant towards her. It was fast and unexpected but when their lips met, all the worry and pain left Sara and she felt safe. Michael’s lips were smooth and just moist against hers and Sara let herself lean into his kiss with urgency. Michael broke the kiss slowly, reluctantly pulling his lips from hers and holding her face in his hands. Sara’s eyes fluttered open and he gazed into her warm, hazel eyes with a smile.

There was a silence between them and the soundless factory offered no distraction. Michael’s breathing increased as Sara looked up at him, her dilated eyes flicking between his lips and his own bluey orbs. In a flurry of desolation, Sara’s grabbed Michael’s head and crushed her lips to his. Michael hunched over a little, taken back by her kiss that ravaged his lips and left her sweet, intoxicating taste on his mouth. Sara’s lips parted and invited Michael’s tongue into her mouth to dance with her own pink, fleshy muscle.

Sara’s hands left Michael’s neck, sliding down his skin and electrifying his nerves on the way. Her hands reached for the buttons on Michael’s shirt, fumbling with them blindly with passion. Michael wrenched his lips from Sara’s and stilled her hands with a tender grip. Sara looked up at him confused, the rejection etched across her face.

“I’m sorry,” Sara said, swallowing her embarrassment and averting her gaze. “I just thought…” she trailed off. Michael tucked his bent finger under her chin and lifted her gaze back to his own.

“Sara, believe me, there is nothing more I want right now,” Michael laughed lightly and Sara chuckled through her trembling tears that still plagued her body. “But not here, not like this,” he shook his head gently, offering her a smile. Sara’s mouth twitched into her own quivering smile that was less than convincing.

“I just want to feel safe,” she admitted, her voice breaking a little as her sob caught in her throat.

“You’re safe now,” he repeated sternly, dipping his head and holding her gaze. Sara licked her lips and gulped Michael’s taste down her throat. Michael moved his hand to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear before pulling her into a crushing hug. “We’re safe now,” he promised sincerely and Sara believed him, pressing herself further into the warmness of his chest and relaxing into his embrace.

Chapter Text

“This isn’t going to feel good,” Sara said in a low gruff voice. Her throat still burned from her tears earlier and her words felt like sandpaper as they escaped her mouth. She leant sideways a smidgen, plucking a freshly purchased bandage from the first aid kit and tearing into the package.

“I have a high tolerance for pain, you know that,” Michael sighed, his voice low and steady, almost annoyingly so in the wake of their near death.

“You do,” Sara confirmed quickly. Her voice was almost snippy, cutting through the dark motel room like scissors. Sara’s shoulders relaxed and she slumped a little in the rickety wooden chair opposite Michael. “And you’re not a diabetic are you?” she whispered, almost afraid to raise her voice in the unknown surroundings in case they were found.

Michael was silent before her, perched on the edge of an off white comforter which had definitely seen better days. His white shirt had lost its crispness and was grubby with grey smears all over the fabric. One of his sleeves had been rolled up to expose the fresh wound on his forearm, dried and crusted with his own crimson blood as it rested on a brown hand towel they had found in the bathroom. At her words, Michael lifted his head and nervously twisted his fingers together inches from her body.

Neither spoke with words, just eyes as they stared into each other’s souls. Michael lowered his head confirming Sara’s question with a silent answer and she snorted a laugh through her nose. “Right,” Sara quipped, tearing her gaze from Michael’s. Angry, Sara reached forward and positioned Michael’s arm in her hand, his soft skin tingling hers, reminding her of how much she had wanted to do this for so long. Michael watched her hands intently as she smoothed her fingers over his skin, dancing around the gaping cut as she poured peroxide onto it.

It stung, Michael wasn’t going to deny it, but he gritted his teeth and clenched his eyes closed loosely. He inhaled deeply, losing himself in the shadow of the curtains as they splayed across the wall, grey and barely moving, just like the ones hanging in the window. Michael clenched his fingers into his palm as Sara leant over her own arm to snatch up a piece of gauze. Silently she dabbed at Michael’s arm with the edges of the towel, applying pressure as she did so, before cleaning the blood from Michael’s arm.

“Michael tell me something,” Sara began quickly, never taking her eyes from his arm where she pushed and wiped at the wound frantically, staining the gauze pink in her hands. “You think there’s a part of you that enjoys this?” she added dryly with a sigh of frustration.

“Peroxide in an open wound? No.” Michael said flatly, clearly in a larger amount of pain than he had anticipated. A smile crept across Sara’s face but she did not look up as Michael took a chance and looked up at her. Sara’s smile faded and she spoke again.

“I mean escaping from prison and…” she paused, reached behind her to place her scissors back on the makeshift trauma table and continued. “…being on the run, and then the danger and the fear, and the rush and all that…” Sara’s words were a flurry, tumbling from her mouth, filling the space between them. Sara briefly closed her eyes, inhaling deeply as she remembered her own dangerous rush that came every time she held a needle to her arm. That same dangerous rush that made her hold a needle to her arm. She stopped and peeled her eyes open to meet Michael’s.

“It, uh…” Sara paused again, ashamed by her thoughts that had been so blatantly smudged across her face. Michael bit his lower lip and rolled it between his teeth as he waited for the words he knew were coming. “It feels to me, like chasing a high…”Sara paused again, taking in the unmoved expression of Michael’s face. “And…and I know what that’s like, and…” she paused again, contemplating her words as Michael’s stare intensified into her. “…I should know better by now.”

Michael took in Sara’s wide-eyed revelation, listening to her words as they languidly drizzled monotonously from her mouth and sent a shiver up his spine. On the one hand, Sara was right. There was a line at Fox River, one Michael had crossed the afternoon he kissed her, but here, in this place, there were no lines. It would be so easy to reach across and kiss away Sara’s sorrow and there would be no one to catch them this time. No rushed love that would forever leave them both wanting more. Just the two of them in a dimly lit motel room that charged by the hour and the light cast from the solitary window to guide the way.

One the other hand, Sara was telling him no, sticking to her guns and subliminally apologising for her frantic outburst of need in the factory. Michael turned his head away from her, idly focusing on some random fleck of dust beside him before inhaling deeply. “I never thought about it like that,” he admitted, lifting his head to see Sara has turned hers towards the window and away from him. In all the time Michael had spent preparing for his escape, preparing for his future life, Sara’s future life, he had forgotten to calculate emotions into his equation. Sara had spent most of her life an addict and now, to her, the life Michael had offered was no different.

A silence fell over the room and the only noise that could be heard was the rustling of sterile packaging as Sara opened padded gauze to dress Michael’s wound. Ignoring his attempt to make eye contact, Sara scooted forward on the blue, velvet cushion of the chair that was flat with age, and pressed the fluffy, white gauze to Michael’s wound. Michael lifted his arm off his knee, flexing his muscles so that the bandage wouldn’t end up too tight around his muscle.

After a long breath, Michael broke the silence. “I know you’ve heard this before…” Michael began, his voice deep but soft and caring at the same time. “…but it won’t always be like this,” he waited, eyes fixated on Sara as her face remained solemn and defeated.

“From everything you’ve told me, it’s just getting worse,” Sara sighed with a shake of her head.

“They can’t chase us forever,” Michael began, cutting off her earlier words and halting anymore that may end her faith in his forever. Sara’s hands stilled briefly as they circled Michael’s arm followed by a pristine white bandage. “The guy that caught up with us today, he stops at the border, that’s why we have to get across…” Michael explained in a whirl of words, never letting the slightest pause interrupt him and never taking his eyes off of Sara. She was listening; he just didn’t know how much she was buying. “…and I have the people in place to help us do that, we are meeting them tomorrow…” Michael’s flurry of words became more desperate as Sara seemingly ignored his every word and continued to dress his arm.

Sara’s face was like stone, never flinching or twitching to any of his words. The light outside still spilled through the window and not a soul passed by, leaving the light uninterrupted as it lit the first aid kit near by. The room was a double, a factor Sara had decided on instantly when the chubby man on the desk with slicked, brown hair had asked her what he could do for her whilst he chewed his gum with an open mouth.

“One more day Sara,” Michael begged in a hoarse voice and in a split second decided to engage the one sided conversation further. Michael dropped his gaze to where Sara’s hands were busy taping up his bandage, and with a slow, steady movement, he slid his arm backwards and caught hers in his powerful grip. Sara froze instantly, watching as Michael’s tattoo disappeared under her milky flesh and his supple fingers trailed down her arm. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and her fingers twitched nervously around Michael’s bloodstained cuff that rested by his elbow. “One more day, that’s all I am asking,” he whispered, smoothing his thumb over her delicate skin.

Sara’s chest heaved inside and her heart fluttered in her chest. When Michael touched her it was like magic, a spell cast over her by a higher power that made her body jump, dance and twitch on every contact. Michael yearned to look into her eyes, increasing his grip on Sara’s forearm a little to encourage her to do so. His heart sank when Sara pulled her arm free from his and without looking at him said, “You can go get cleaned up,” Her gaze remaining on his arm but her eyebrows lifting, showing him some sort of emotion. Sara’s voice cracked a little, and she was tired of everything. “Keep this dry,” she told Michael, turning from him and busying herself with cleaning away her rubbish.

Michael’s eyes searched her face for an answer but found none. Sara was hardened by sorrow, still reeling from the loss of her father and everything that had happened in the factory was her fault and nobody else’s. Sara had shrouded herself in a case, an invisible barrier between her heart that wanted Michael to take her to the shower with him and her head that told her everything that had happened was Michael’s fault. She knew it wasn’t. He hadn’t killed her father and made it seem like a suicide, but he was here and blaming him was both convenient and a distraction for her lust.

Michael licked his lips, pressed his hands to the bed on either side of him and pushed himself to his feet. Silence filled the air once more as neither Michael or Sara spoke. Michael’s shadow appeared on the wall behind him, casting a shaded area over a painting of a lake in the morning on the wall behind him. The painting was out of place in the room, its peace and tranquillity everything both Sara and Michael desired, and its chipped brown wooden frame was the metaphor for their neglected relationship. It was battered and beaten but so loved it still remained.

Sara looked up fearfully to the space where Michael had been seconds before, a large peaked dent still evident in the soft mattress and his scent lingering around her. Her eyes scanned around the space and she gulped hard a few times, wondering how she would disappear and be forgotten without Michael’s help. Sara lifted her hand to her temple where he fingers gently massaged at her dry skin, made so by the factory’s atmosphere earlier that day.

“Sara?” Michael’s voice shattered the silence like a foghorn, his deep voice bouncing around the room until it finally filled her ears. Michael waited on baited breath as Sara seemingly ignored his words until her face lifted towards his and her hazel eyes fixated on him with a silent urgency to continue.

Michael paused in the off green painted doorway of the motel room. One way led to the bathroom, the other was a dead end and behind him was a walk in wardrobe, however, the hangers were missing and a chill wafted from the empty space. Michael rested one hand in the other’s palm and fiddled with his fingers before dropping his gaze to them “I’m glad you came,” he said sincerely and lifted his head once more to meet her eyes, shining brilliantly in the shroud of darkness that enveloped the motel room.

Michael kept her gaze, freezing them both in time and space while their eyes danced across the room. With the tiniest smirk of a smile turning his mouth up at one corner, he was gone, disappearing through the doorway to the bathroom as Sara looked on. The silence that followed buzzed in Sara’s ears, and her skin itched beneath her clothes. She wasn’t sure if it was her nerves or the dust from the factory that had somehow managed to find its way onto every part of her skin.

A squeaking sound came from the bathroom followed by the unmistakeable sound of water as it fell from the shower head and pounded against the floor on the cubicle. When Sara heard Michael step into the hot, silvery droplets she reached for her bag and quickly withdrew one of the paper cranes she had been keeping so well hidden from everyone. It was the blue one, made of paper that was just blue enough to be distinguishable from white but would be easily mistaken for off white in a hurry. Sara fumbled with the folds, pulling them free from each other and flattening the square sheet of paper against her thigh, pressing out the wrinkles with one hand while she gripped a pen in the other.

Sara moved across the room, closer still to the bathroom. She paused when her reflection caught her attention in the mirror nearby. It was large and rectangular; each corner bumped and weathered into a submissive curve by previous guests and some kind of beauty product was smeared across the glass in a top corner. Sara inhaled deeply with closed eyes and rested her shaky hands to the table in front of her. She had no idea where she would go, but she knew she couldn’t go there with Michael. If she left now, he could still get away and she could disappear, try and forget that her life had changed forever, and start a new life away from prisoners, jailbreaks and morphine.

Sara tore her eyes from her reflection and hunched over the dark wooden table that was fixed to the wall using bolts. She pulled the cap off of her pen and began to write, starting in the corner of the page and working her way down. She suppressed her doctor’s scrawl and with shaking hands wrote the words that would haunt her for the rest of her life. Sara sighed and stood back from the note. With haste she replaced the pen cap and stuffed it hurriedly into her handbag before heading for the door. The handle opened easily and quietly, something she was thankful for, and Sara slipped through the door frame pulling the door shut behind her.

Outside the motel only a second road running adjacent to the one the motel was on, interrupted the landscape. There was barely any admirable foliage for miles, only a lone willow hanging loosely at the edge of the parking lot. The parking lot, if it could have been called that, was in fact a flat piece of land occupied only by dusty cars that had been sprayed by the yellowy sand on entry. No lines marked spaced and no wardens patrolled, just the silence of nothing and the low hum of the southern sunshine as it radiated from the car rooftops in the blistering sun.

Sara’s feet kicked up at the dirt as she hurried to the car she had parked earlier. She held her head low and had opted to leave Michael’s cap behind in the motel room. He would need that later she figured. A freshly licensed Mack truck passed by, its engine roaring above the hum of electrically cabled running overhead and the huge, thick tread tyres churning up much more dusty debris that irritated Sara’s eyes of the breeze. Sara waited for the truck to disappear out of view before reaching up and brushing a stray strand of her auburn locks, darkened by dirt and neglect, behind her ear. She reached the side of the car and quickly unlocked it, twisted her body into the driver’s seat and plunged the keys into the ignition.

After a choked splutter, the car’s engine began to rumble and vibrations were sent through the steering column and into Sara’s body. Sara’s hands gripped the worn steering wheel and she peered into the rear view mirror, assessing the lack of traffic anywhere near her. For a moment she stopped and the familiar burning of tears caught in her throat, a feeling she had come to hate over the last few days. Sara’s bottom lip quivered as she observed her haunting image in the reflective glass and she turned from it with a sigh.

Sara cast a look back towards the hotel room and where she hoped she would see Michael any second. In her mind he would burst from the doors and stop her from leaving, tell her everything would be ok and that she didn’t have to be alone anymore. What she wanted, and what was happening were two different things. Sara clenched one hand in the other, holding them to her chest and willing herself to find the courage to leave the flea bitten motel in the middle of nowhere and find herself a new life.

With her tears came a ragged breathing cycle that flowed from her lungs before her eyes even became wet with the salty burning sensation of tears falling. Sara inhaled deeply, leant forward and thrust the gearshift into drive, only to find herself unable to accelerate away. She sunk back against the seat and her gaze fell directed at the motel room once more. There was no sound from the parking lot, only the drone of the engine could be heard but even then Sara had fallen deaf to its apparent protests about sitting stationary. Michael’s voice, full of hope and certainty, ran through her head, echoing through her ears and Sara leant forward, pulled the car into park and switched off the engine.

The water had turned cold and rather than soothe Michael’s aching body it had began to pound at his flesh, stinging each and every time it touched his skin. Michael had been standing with his forehead pressed to the mildew covered tiled wall for at least twenty minutes, just listening to the sound of the water beating his body as it gushed from the shower head and over his shoulders. His mouth hung open and water trickled down his neck, along his jaw and pooled on his bottom lip where one large drip plummeted to the white floor below.

Michael reached above his head blindly and twisted the squeaky tap to off. The water ceased and a hiss of air was sucked back into the pipes. Small droplets of icy cold water still escaped the shower head but fell straight into the plughole with a watery echo. Michael pushed the cubicle door open and it creaked a little before colliding with the porcelain sink behind it. A smeared hand print appeared in the condensation where Michael pushed it closed behind him. He reached over to collect a large brown towel from the rail beside the basin and wrapped the fluffy fibres around his waist, securing it with an edge tucked into his hip.

Michael tossed the smaller brown hand towel in his hands before lifting it to his head and digging a towel covered finger into each ear, soaking up the pools of water that had collected there and taken his hearing. Michael gave his head a shake to one side and cool water dribbled from his ear canal, instantly bringing his hearing back to sharp from a dull buzz. From the bathroom, Michael heard the click of a door and his head snapped up to the sound, eyes wide with worry and his skin prickling from an adrenaline surge. Michael’s damp feet stuck to the tiled floor as he padded towards the door and gripped the chrome handle with wrinkled fingertips before wrenching the door free from its frame.

“Sara?” Michael called in a low, husky voice as his eyes searched the room. Finally a flash of black and a blur of deep red aroused his attention and Michael looked sideways just in time to see Sara’s spin to face him from the weathered wall mounted mirror. Sara stared at Michael before her and as she clasped the thin, blue note between her fingers behind her back, she had to visible gulp at his towel clad form.

She felt ridiculous. She had seen Michael shirtless before, she had even at one stage felt pleased he had burned his shoulder so she had an excuse to ask him to remove it more often. But as they stood in quiet, the only noise to be heard being Michael’s quickened breathing, Sara couldn’t help her eyes follow the path of a solitary droplet of moisture as it wound its way down Michael’s neck, along his clavicle and finally, accelerated down between his muscular chest and was lost, forever more, in his intricate tattoo.

Chapter Text

“Sara?” Michael repeated slightly louder when his gentle approach coaxed no response from Sara. Michael dipped his head and hunched his shoulders a little, his eyes meeting Sara’s and drawing her attention back to him. “Sara, are you ok?” Michael quizzed, his voice full of worry and despair.

Sara took a dry gulp and the bubble of air slid painfully down her throat where it sat burning in her lungs. She shook her head quickly, blinking to regain her composure and her hands clenched tighter around the note held tightly to her spine. Sara offered Michael a weak smile and hurriedly pushed a tendril of her auburn mess behind her ear. “I’m fi…” she squeaked before coughing into her clenched fist. “I’m fine,” she assured with a rosy pink array decorating her cheeks.

Michael’s gaze left her and fell upon the front door. Sara watched as he lifted his arm to point at it, his freshly scrubbed muscles rippling beneath his skin and twisting his form invitingly. “Was someone here?” Michael asked, concerned they had been discovered. “I heard the door close,” he said, half a question and half a factual comment. As he turned to face her once more, a bead of the now cold water trickled down from his growing hair, slid down the bridge of his nose and dripped from its tip, hitting the flat, carpeted floor without a sound.

“No,” Sara shook her head and let her eyes linger at the door while the sharp folds of the paper ball in her hand dug into her palm. “It was me,” she told Michael who gave her a confused look. His eyebrows pulled together in a frown and his head titled to one side like a puppy in response to a whistle.

“I don’t understand. Where did you go?” Michael said, his voice remaining low and calm as he pondered the thoughts that ravaged his mind. They stood together for a while in silence and Sara’s leg twitched and wobbled where she stood. Sara lowered her head to avoid Michael’s wide eyed stare and her tongue darted out to moisten her lips before her teeth clamped onto the flesh and her lips disappeared behind her teeth. “What if somebody saw you?” Michael asked when Sara turned silent once again, his flat palm extended towards her with invisible offering.

“They didn’t,” Sara spoke low and into her chest, the words muffled by her pinched windpipe.

“But they could have done,” Michael insisted with panic. His feet fell silent on the floor as he strode to the greying curtains and peered out between the folds of fabric. Michael lifted his hand to flatten a fold of curtain, his fingers lightly tickling the material as it moved. There was nobody in sight and a few cars had left the parking lot since they had arrived. Michael crooked his neck but the willow obscured their car, only the heat radiating from its roof could be seen through the motionless branches.

“Is that all you care about?” Sara sneered and Michael’s head snapped towards her, is face even more confused than before. Michael side stepped from the window, his feet cold from the shower and paused his frame a few feet in front of Sara. His scent invaded her nostrils, twirling around her senses and exciting her body. Combined with the sight of Michael in a towel, Sara was certainly feeling some pressure and her harsh tone towards him was proof.

“Of course not,” Michael offered gently. “I was just saying,” he shrugged and Sara noticed the steam had stopped curling and reaching skywards from Michael’s torso. Sara’s eyes fell and focused on her feet, itchy inside her flat soled slip on shoes that were still splattered with white dust from the factory. Michael watched her in silence and he knew something was wrong. Things had been wrong before he had gone to shower, but now they were a different kind of wrong. “Sara, have I…” Michael pried but his soft words were cut of sharply and his mouth fell agape with disillusion.

“I was going to leave.” Sara blurted on a whisper and pulled the crinkled note from behind her back. She fiddled with it between her shaking fingers a little, constantly folding and refolding the top corner of the medium. Sara lifted her hazel orbs to look into Michael’s riveted face. It was like the face of a child when you tell them a parent has died, pale and plastered with anguish of the future. “I wrote you this note,” Sara’s voice cracked as she spoke, gaining strength on every uninterrupted word.

Michael’s face did not move but his eyes darted between hers and the note she held in her hands. The edges of the folds seemed familiar but had frayed from constant folding over time. Sara waved the note idly in front of Michael, offering it to him. Did he want to know what Sara had said? Of course he did, how could he live the rest of his life knowing Sara had wanted to leave and not know why. Michael reached between them and almost at arms length, plucked the aged paper from Sara’s grasp.

“I went to the car and I waited,” Sara revealed, her eyebrows twitching as she recalled her stint of solitary thinking less than fifteen minutes ago. Michael’s mouth closed and he swallowed a burning bubble down his throat. He blinked but his eyes remained closed for longer than they needed to be for an involuntary reaction as he fought back the emotion that churned up from his lungs. “I wanted you to come and stop me. I wanted you to come and march me back to this room, to tell me that I didn’t have to face the world alone any more…” Sara’s voice rose and she turned from Michael as she spoke, stopping near the window, mimicking Michael’s actions earlier and peering out between the grubby, off white fabrics. Another huge Mack truck whirred past; this time it was black and a small tan and white dog lolled happily out of the passenger side window.

“You don’t have to,” Michael whispered hoarsely, his throat still dry with astonishment. Sara let out a snort of laughter that just reached the windowpane and mist smeared before her, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. Michael held the note over the crumpled, greyish bedspread and lifted his thumb to let it fall to the bed silently. It floated through the air like a leaf falling from a tree and was watched by both of them. Sara folded her arms, crossing them over her chest as she lost her gaze in the scratchy handwriting of her note. “Sara, this doesn’t matter to me. You could have left and never looked back. I understand how much you have lost because of me and I am sorry. I am so very sorry Sara,” Michael lifted his hand and covered his eyes, rubbing a finger and a thumb against the sides of his eye sockets in slow circles.

“I don’t blame you Michael,” Sara stepped forward as she spoke and she nervously rubbed her flat palms over her thighs, trying desperately to erase the hotness that had she had acquired since Michael stepped from the bathroom. Michael’s hand fell from her face and he inhaled deeply as his eyes sparked with white and adjusted to the poorly lit room once more. Blue pools met autumn coloured eyes and Sara stopped so close to Michael he could feel her body heat flowing into the space between them. “All I want to know is what you want from me?”

Sara’s loosely curled locks fell backwards over her shoulder when she titled her head backwards and angled her neck so she was staring straight up at Michael. Michael’s heart skipped a beat in his chest and his mind raced with so many answers he knew would make him sound less than desirable. Since the day he had started researching Dr. Sara Tancredi he had loved her, etching her beautiful features onto his mind and sending her image to the inside of his eyelids every time he closed his eyes.

Michael’s hesitation to reply prompted Sara to let out a sigh of frustration and rolled her eyes. “It’s not a hard question Michael,” Sara laughed weakly, flipping her head sideways and taking in his uncomfortable posture. Sara’s smiled slipped from her lips and her skin flushed hot when her gaze dropped to her hands where she busily picked at a thumbnail. “Is it sex?” Sara almost choked out with a blush.

“No!” Michael exclaimed suddenly wide-eyed and in a tone that made Sara physically spring up from the floor. Sara’s head snapped up towards his and her blush faded away and was replaced by a confused scowl. “I mean…” Michael faltered, clenching his fist and cursing himself to the ends of the earth. “Sara…” Michael offered lovingly after a deep breath that he hoped had halted his words of umbrage tumbling from his mouth. Saying her name soothed him, soothed his nerves and kept him sane.

“Michael,” Sara echoed in the same tone he had used. Michael dragged his gaze back to hers quickly, the hairs that had prickled during his episode of idiocy falling back flat against his skin. “Can I tell you what I want?” Sara spoke clearly and in almost a mothering tone. Like a dumbfounded child, Michael nodded. “I want to feel alive again, at peace with myself and the world,” Sara began and another, smaller truck seized Michael attention making him look over Sara’s shoulder towards the window. “I want to live my life without having to look over my shoulder all the time, without having to hide away in cheap, rented motel rooms that smell like someone died recently,” Sara’s arms waved around the room and she pointed to several flaws in the accommodation.

A water marked ceiling, peeling wallpaper that had gone out in the seventies and balding patches on the carpet that Michael suspected had began its life as a delectable shade of grey were her targets. “I want to be safe but I don’t want to do any of it alone Michael,” Sara’s eyes bore into Michael’s but he remained stalwart before her. “I don’t know how else I can tell you that I want to be with you Michael. Subtle hasn’t worked, not even imminent danger is enough to make you see sense and open your eyes to everything around you!” Sara’s words pounded against Michael’s face, each one like a tiny fist attacking his flesh and lighting the way he had never seen before. “But I guess if you don’t want the same, we shouldn’t keep up this dance any more,” Sara said with a heavy sadness.

The back of Sara’s throat burned with tears that threatened rise like an angry beast and roll down her soft, moisturised cheeks and leave dark lines of sorrow with every tear. Michael’s head was dipped and he was unreadable as he contemplated Sara’s words. Sara felt her chest tighten and she heaved a huge breath to cool the irritation in her lungs. She turned and took a stride towards the door but Michael’s firm but tender grip stopped her, his long, nimble fingers curling around her forearm and freezing her in her tracks.

Sara went rigid at Michael’s touch, she pressed her eyes closed and a single salty tear dropped to the floor where it was lost forever in the flooring. Michael’s grip loosened and he slid his hand down the remained of Sara’s arm, exciting the pale, milky flesh to attention. Each hair stood to attention as his fingers passed it, yearning for more of his caress and loving contact. Michael’s eyes dropped to their hands and he cupped Sara’s in his, entwining his fingers with hers at an awkward sideways angle.

Still Sara did not move, unable to focus or function with Michael’s hands on her. When her eyes were closed they were not here, they were not at Fox River and they were certainly not on the run. Things were different when Sara closed her eyes. Things were better, more intimate and they were everything she had ever wanted. Michael traced his thumb over the bumpy surface of Sara’s knuckles as he broke the silence between them on a husky whisper. “I’m not dancing,” he breathed, his voice low and full of determination as he tugged on Sara’s arm until she turned to face him.

Sara’s eyelids peeled open apprehensively and she was met with a darkened version of Michael’s stare. His bluey pools had turned dark grey but still glistened in the fading light reflecting through the window. Michael pulled Sara closer and her skin tickled when he placed her small, delicate hand to his heart. Michael let out a cough as he cleared his throat; a move that sent a gigantic vibration through Sara’s already energized body. “Sara, I have never, ever felt the way I do right now. Not with anyone,” Michael began and his voice began to waiver when Sara shifted her hand beneath his and her nails scratched lightly at his tattooed skin.

“I don’t think you understand what you do to me Sara, or how hard it was for me to say no to you back in the factory,” a nervous smile edged its way onto Michael face as he remembered the feel of Sara on his lips. Sara felt his heartbeat speed up in his chest, pounding against her own fingertip pulse like a jack hammer. Michael inhaled and held his breath for a second, letting his pulse sound through his ears before reaching up and wiping the watery puddle from Sara’s lower eyelid with his thumb. “I told you once that you and I were real, and I wish we were in better circumstances so that I could show you,” Michael finished on a half angry, half sad tone that made Sara frustrated.

The warmth left Michael’s bare chest when Sara pulled her hand from his skin and dropped her hand to the void between them. Michael followed her movements to the hem of her shirt that had once been black but now appeared a more faded shade of charcoal. Michael felt the familiar rush of adrenaline surge his body when Sara lifted her shirt up her finely toned body and over her head. Fiery red strands of her hair fell back against her bare shoulders after she shook them from her face and dropped the article of clothing to the floor beside her. Michael’s towel suddenly became restricted, his arousal perking to life beneath the downy brown item that was wrapped tightly around his waist.

Michael gulped and he had to blink a few times before his vision became clearer. His fingertips itched but he was unable to move anything but his head as his eyes roamed ravenously up Sara’s belly. His stare burned over her milky skin, across the perfectly rounded dip of her navel and further up where his eyes itched to blink when Sara’s perfect breasts jumped into his view. Nestled in a black lace bra, they jiggled when Sara heaved a breath, expanding in their sheer confines. Finally, Michael’s eyes met Sara’s again, just as she had finished plumping her luscious locks and smoothing it from her face.

Michael’s breath became audible and it caught in his throat when Sara’s tiny hand smoothed along the edge of his towel, tickling at his tattoo and she found the corner that he had tucked in at his side. Michael’s abdominal muscles contracted, tightening under his skin and the muscle under his towel was reacting the same way. Sara’s hand pulled at the material until it gave way and slid from Michael’s body, falling to a crumpled heap between them. Michael closed his eyes and squeezed his hands into fists. He wasn’t sure if he was embarrassed or scared, or a mixture of both, but he couldn’t look while Sara’s eyes took in his naked figure.

Sara’s reached out and trailed a fingertip down Michael’s chest. It bumped down over his nipple, along the dark grey lines of his tattoo and dipped into the hollow of his belly where he had left his mother nearly thirty years ago. “Michael?” Sara breathed softly, shaking him from his distracted state. Michael’s head flopped forward and his eyes searched Sara’s. They were hungry, visibly wanton and heavy lidded through her passionate stare. She offered him a seductive smile of reassurance and whispered, “Show me now.”

Michael’s heart stopped. The room fell into silence and Michael salivated with a dog, the exact opposite reaction to the same situation as earlier. The fact that he was naked, exposed in all his glory to the one woman in the entire world who could make him feel whole, didn’t matter. It was weird, an eerie sense of calm washing over him and controlling him. How Sara did what she did to him Michael was at a loss at knowing. All he knew was that they were together, alone, and Sara had just proposed the most intimate of secrets to him. Michael’s eyes darted shakily between Sara’s and her plump, luscious lips they sat inviting below her nose.

Michael lifted his hand and trailed his middle finger across Sara’s forehead, studying his hand as it turned into a curved crumble of fingers and tucked a stray strand of her wavy locks behind her ear. It was slow, deliberate and Sara’s limbs tingled under Michael’s touch. Sara shifted her gaze to the floor, coaxing a glance at his nakedness as her head dipped low. Michael held her head in his hand, his fingers buried in her soft, ruffled mess of hair and leant his head towards hers until their foreheads met.

Michael’s eyes fell closed and he gulped hard, desperately trying to contain the release that burned within him. “Sara…” Michael began in a low, gruff voice but he had nothing else to say. His breath was warm and damp and it escaped his mouth, penetrating the space between them and reminding Sara that he was really here. Really touching her. Sara’s hand met the searing hot Devil upon Michael’s chest and he sucked in a lungful of air, unneeded but welcomed by his overworked heart.

Michael’s free hand mirrored his other in Sara’s hair and he gently tilted her face to his until their lips met. As if they were virginal teenagers once more, trembling and scared under each other’s touch, they stood together in the darkening room pressed to each other. The one difference that made this kiss something was Michael’s tender professionalism, his lips lingered on Sara’s, teasing them with his electric contact that sent Sara’s mind reeling. Her body instantly became limp, relaxing so much as she leaned into the kiss that a mousy moan tumbled from her throat.

Sara’s other hand met Michael’s chest and she flattened her splayed fingers to his skin, revelling at the feel of him on hers skin. Each tiny hair on Michael’s body sparked to life and stood erect when Sara slid her boiling hands down his harsh tattoo, tickling lightly as the line of hair that would normally protrude playfully from his underwear, before leaving a cool void when they jumped to her own waist. Sara’s fingers twiddled with the button on her jeans, pushing it through the thick, cotton eye and pulling the two sides apart, automatically sliding the feminine zip down with the move.

The glittery sound of the zip caught Michael’s attention and he pulled his lips from Sara’s, let his hands move down and over her shoulders and heaving in excited breathes, he watched her push at her jeans. Black lace underwear matching her bra sprang into his view, his hands tickled lightly at her skin as they slipped further down her dainty body to her waistline to capture her hands in his, and he began to kneel before her. The floor was hard under his rounded kneecap, beaten and weathered from the escape but he did not notice the pain of overworked joints.

Michael titled his head back up to Sara, capturing her gaze with his before it disappeared into the darkness until dawn. He gently pulled her hands away from her jeans and scrunched the loose material up in his palms at her hips. “Let me,” Michael whispered, his breath warm against the skin of Sara’s stomach. Sara nodded but Michael had not waited for a reply. It wasn’t a question he had asked but rather a statement of gentle caring that had led to his tensed biceps contracting under the faux strain of relieving her of her jeans and his tongue and lips tasting the skin of her belly.

Sara’s stomach fell away from her, gobbled up by Michael’s assault as he continually placed his tongue to her skin only to kiss away the moist and move onto a new torturous spot of her skin. Sara’s hands instantly reacted by gripping to Michael’s softened growing hair, stroking it with an eager rouse that kept Michael kissing. Michael kissed sideways, dragging his tongue to Sara’s newly exposed hip, enjoying the feel of her hot flesh on his tongue that seemed freezing by comparison.

When Sara stepped from her jeans, Michael’s hands trailed precariously up the backs of Sara’s smooth calves hitting the tickly area behind her knee that gave her a giddy feeling in her gut. His hands smoothed around her thighs as he stood again, dragging his fingers over her feathery soft body until his dark, erotic gaze met Sara’s once more. If sexual arousal could be measured, this particular motel room would register off the charts, the air heavy with thick lust as Sara’s hands slid down Michael’s neck to cradle his skull in her hands.

Sara licked her lips in anticipation before lunging forward and capturing Michael’s mouth with hers. This kiss was more willing, more unperturbed to their needs and Michael’s hands gripped at Sara’s body, pressing his large flat palm to the small of her back and crushed her body to his. Michael’s erection was pressed to Sara’s belly, scolding her skin and growing even more when they moved loosely in a rhythm of dancing tongues.

Michael had parted his lips and Sara hungrily sought out his tongue, scraping her over every ridge and crevice in his mouth. Michael was like honey, sweet and enjoyable in her mouth but he wasn’t enough. Sara reached up on tiptoes aided by a pull on Michael’s neck and devoured his lips more ferociously than before. The only sound that filled the room was the smacking of lips, the panting of two potential lovers and a soft, sexy growl that escaped Sara every time Michael pressed into her.

Sara wrenched her mouth from Michael’s once again, moving her hands so that she held his face in her hands and their faces were millimetres apart. Not sated with the loss of contact Michael stole another quick kiss, eliciting a smile from Sara whose eyes fluttered closed while she puffed out an erotic sigh. Sara’s placed her two flat palms back to his chest and took a step forward, her eyes peeled open slowly to give Michael a seductive glance as she led him backwards towards the bed. Michael guided her with him, unable to tear his hands from her milky skin before his knees hit the edge of the bed and he fell backwards with breathy grumble.

“Now,” Sara breathed to him, placing a knee to the off white comforter where it disappeared into the fabric, and crawling over the top of him. A grin played onto Michael’s features as he shuffled his self backwards up the bed with Sara’s prowling up over him like a cat. When Sara came to rest she was straddling his naked manhood, her already damp underwear placing a cool patch to his skin. Sara sat back on her heels, shaking her head backwards to relieve her features of her annoying, rusty tresses and smiled. Her pearly white teeth captivated Michael who sucked in another agitated breath when Sara’s nails scratched lightly at his abdomen. “Let’s dance,” she quipped huskily.

Michael half growled, half laughed as he propelled his body forwards and stopped Sara from falling backwards with his almighty arms. His lips locked onto her neck, greedily savouring every inch of her skin while he left his torrent along her racing pulse up to her jaw. Sara’s head lolled backwards and Michael pulled her closer to him, squeezing her to his chest while he barely touched her throat with his kisses, silently touching her skin in a delicate club style meringue dance that set her alight with passion.

Michael’s hands snaked around Sara’s body, inching their way to open her bra with the skilled uniformity of his architectural training. To him, Sara was as elegant as a modern piece of building artwork; finely sculpted in the eyes of a genius and put together by the hands of God. Every curve, every crevice, every inch of her made him want more. With a snap, Sara’s bra went slack around her body and she gripped at Michael’s shoulders to urge him on. Michael grinned wickedly against Sara’s skin when she whispered his name on an imploring sigh that almost sent his already hard member over the edge.

Michael slid his hands back up Sara’s back, capturing the thin strap of her bra under his fingers as he did so, and continuing to pull the fabric from her body. He pulled the thin elastic over her shoulders and down the soft skin of her arm whilst placing butterfly soft kisses down her body as he went. Sara’s breath caught in her throat when he stopped, leant back, taking the offending garment with him and slid it free from her arms. The bra, which had at one stage been considered expensive, was now discarded over the edge of the bed with the relevance of the crumpled note.

Sara groaned on a breath into the minimally furnished room, arching her back and gripping at Michael’s head with delicate hands while he teased her arousal with kisses to her breasts. Michael kissed everywhere except Sara’s nipples, lapping his tongue over her skin and only brushing the rosy pink juts with his lips briefly. Sara’s panties had become almost soaked against his skin and her scent filled the room, intoxicating and stirring Michael’s inner beast.

Michael drew his hands lazily down Sara’s body, tickling her sides with his soft touch and causing her to shudder and tremble exactly how he had planned. Michael released his prize, letting her naked upper torso fall perfectly into his eye line as his hands found her hips and yanked playfully on her underwear. Michael tilted his head backwards and bit his bottom lip between his teeth as he took in Sara’s expression. Her eyes were closed, pressed tightly shut and she whimpered with every touch like she was in blissful pain.

Sara raised herself up and Michael slid her panties down over her knees and threw them to the ground with her bra. When Sara moved to sit astride his lap again, Michael’s erection brushed her silky sodden folds and soft, dark mound of hair. Sara gasped and dug her nails lightly into Michael’s shoulders leaving tiny crescent moons in his tattoo. The contact in such an intimate place and Sara’s reaction to it made Michael smirk devilishly and his hands found her behind, cupped at the creamy, sensitive skin and roughly pulled her against his hardness with a grunt.

Sara’s eyes shot open, almost surprised by the sudden, but not unwelcome aggressiveness of Michael’s intimacy. She gasped and tensed for a second holding in her sudden need to orgasm when her quivering clitoris hit Michael’s erection. When her diluted gaze met Michael’s steely blue orbs her body softened in his hand and she met his breathless grin with a coy smile. “You’re so sexy when you…ah, Sara, stop!” Michael begged, gripping at her hips and gritting his teeth until his jaw hurt.

“It helps if you have the right partner,” Sara leaned forward and whispered sweetly into his ear, immediately grinding back against his member when he released her hips once more. Michael hissed, fighting to keep his composure as he weakly pleaded her to stop her dry-humping assault. Sara felt Michael’s body relax when she stopped and she quickly seized his mouth in a relentless kiss. Michael met her kiss with earnest, tasting and flicking his tongue over every surface of her mouth and then pulled her against him as he fell backwards onto the comforter.

Sara straightened out her body slowly, savouring the feel of Michael’s skin against hers, warm and slightly damp from premature sweat beneath her writhing body. They both chuckled through the kiss, lapping at each other’s tongues with slow, torturous implications of what was to come. Sara let out a gasp when Michael rolled them over, pinning her to the musky blanket. His hands glided down her body, tickling at her pearly skin and then moved back up over her ribcage. Michael’s knee followed suit, sliding against the blanket in between her knees with warming friction and parting her thighs to display her blistering core.

Michael broke the kiss with an audible smacking of lips as he steadied himself with a powerful grip between Sara’s legs. She was so aroused Michael could smell it oozing from her cervix like liquid gold and it just made his already pre ejaculating erection harder. Soft, warm pants were expelled onto faces as they stilled themselves in the dusk of the day, the sun having faded down over the horizon already and the chirping if crickets beginning to fill the Gila air.

Michael opened his mouth, inhaling a breath with the intention of words but Sara pressed a long, slender finger to his slightly swollen lips. “Don’t, Michael,” she whispered, sliding her fingers from his halted mouth, down his neck where it jumped to his purple inked chest and then slid down to his agitated member. “Just love me,” she breathed against his lips, her eyes flickering between his own bluey ocean deep orbs and his sweet, kissable lips.

Michael sucked in a breath of relief and seized Sara’s lips in a slow, passionate kiss as he angled his hip and towered forward above her, entering her gracefully slowly. They had flirted; they had teased and now they were moving against each other, feeling each other’s bodies with recklessness neither could of ever of matched before. When they had kissed in the infirmary, Sara’s heart had pounded, the fear of someone discovering them in a raw lip lock nipping at her heals like Morphine; It was after all, the Jack Russell Terrier that followed her everywhere, hanging over her head like a looming, omnipotent being that could end her with a wag of its inviting hypodermic tail and watery doe eyes.

Sara arches her back and pressed the back of her head into the flat, motel pillow. Her hair spilled out across the greying fabric like a faux sunset, radiating her face as it contorted and twisted with pleasure. Pants accompanied Michael’s thrusts; each one deep and velvety against the skin of Sara’s collarbone where he whimpered her name on shuddering breathes while his hand got lost in Sara’s fiery red locks.

Sara gulped down a lump in her throat, one that had formed on its own free will as a reaction to her sudden impending release. Michael kept his pace slow and steady, teasing her clitoris with his pubic bone, the tension building up inside her stomach each and every time. Michael lifted his face from her skin and slithered his hand from her hair and brushed his genial knuckles down her cheek. He smoothed his fingertips down her neck, revelling in the feel of her skin and the moans he suspected came from deep within her, that raised in pitch each time he gently buried himself within her.

Michael’s hand flattened out over her heart and slid off the side of her breast, leaving her nipple painfully alert and begging for more attention, and finally came to rest against her hip. Michael hid himself in the depths of her warmth once more and then halted his movement and gave the silky hip bone a squeeze, lightly rousing Sara from her faraway contentment and making her look at him with a hazy stare. There were no words to accompany his eyes, nothing but the unmistakeable look of a man in awe of what he held beneath him.

Sara’s muscles twinged inside of her, gripping at Michael and trying to pull him deeper into her soul. Their eyes flickered over each other, taking in the finer details that they could commit to memory just in case anything ever happened to either of them. Inside Michael was both elated and dying of sadness. Somewhere between lovemaking and highly sexed flirting, he had stopped and was now staring down at the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. It was his awakening and if he held his position, maybe for a while longer, they could stay like this forever and never let go.

Sara reached up and placed a warm palm to Michael’s cheek and gave him a comforting smile. Michael closed his eyes and leant into her hand, turning his face and planting a tender kiss to Sara’s palm with a content sigh. Sara cupped his cheeks in both hands, gripping at his stubble littered jaw line with eager hands and willed his eyes open with a gentle caress of her thumbs. When Michael met her warm hazel afterglow, she pulled him to her and left her lips to linger against his once more. Michael withdrew from her slowly, only to deliberately thrust harder but just as slowly as he picked up his rhythm again.

Michael slid his lips from Sara’s and husky, high-pitched grunts escaped his mouth as he buried his face into the soft crevice of her shoulder. It wasn’t long before Michael succumb to his orgasm, letting it rip through him and take his body to ecstasy shortly after Sara exploded in her own hot white flash of furious bliss. They lay still connected and slicked with sweat but neither wanted to move.

Sara threw her arms over Michael’s shoulders and held him to her chest, stroking a soothing hand over his shaven scalp that had become thicker since she last saw him. Michael’s grip on her hip relaxed a little and through gasps of much needed breathe, he planted soft, damp kisses to the curve of her shoulder. They were by no means free and they were both as broken as when they had began, but at least they now knew the extent of their love, and also just how hard it would be to walk back into reality.