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Shackled

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They'd just barely gotten rid of Haywire—and Michael felt kind of guilty about that, but Haywire was never part of the plan. Then as soon as they started driving, everything changed within the span of seconds. There was a "snap" of metal on Michael's wrists and Abruzzi had a gun… before Michael knew it, he was handcuffed to T-Bag.

T-Bag. The very thought of him turned Michael's stomach.

Michael's tiny little escape team had ballooned up to twice its size, and now they were short Westmoreland and plus two extras (not counting Tweener and Haywire, who'd have to sink or swim on their own). Even if C-Note seemed all right, there was no ignoring the fact that T-Bag definitely wasn't.

The man should never have been part of this—he belonged behind bars for all eternity. So did Abruzzi, when you got right down to it, but that was a necessary evil; no Abruzzi, no airplane. Michael needed that plane.

So here was T-Bag, doing his level best to make sure he couldn't be left behind. He'd done it at Fox River, and he was doing it again right now. Michael couldn't escape with a dead man dragging from his wrist, and Abruzzi needed Michael to find Fibonacci, and everyone else needed Abruzzi for the plane.

Q-E-sick-sonofabitch-D.

That had been the problem from the beginning.

Michael was aware of the darker aspects of the criminal nature, but he'd never been face-to-face with them before, not like this. Everything T-Bag did or felt or said was repugnant, and even when it was couched in more subtle language, the meaning was always clear.

What Michael hadn't been prepared for—and this bothered him more than anything—was that T-Bag was so unpredictably clever.

So Michael was stuck now, shackled to this constant reminder that he hadn't been careful enough. T-Bag was out, thanks to him, and his future crimes would be a burden for Michael to bear—along with all the wrongs Michael had already caused in the name of freeing his brother.

T-Bag was Michael's literal and emotional ball and chain at the moment. The weight of the metal on his wrist bit into him and marked him with every mistake he could not change.

The road to the airstrip wound up being cut off by a police (and that never should have happened, they should have been in the air by then except for the drama and delays that slowed them down). Michael thought he could navigate around the road block, but the van got stuck and they had to go on foot—the worst choice of all when the clock was ticking.

Running through the woods in the dark with a helicopter chasing them was bad enough, but trying to keep up when T-Bag was dragging behind was nearly impossible—the man moved like January molasses.

After a few false starts they had to double back on a different route to the airfield. Up ahead, the rest of the team ducked into a barn while Michael lagged behind, still pulling T-Bag along with him. Too damned slow, all of it—and the two of them in particular. They were all going to get caught, after everyone and everything that had been sacrificed along the way. And that just could not be allowed to happen.

The others were waiting inside when Michael pushed T-Bag into the barn. There was a sudden flurry of movement, and then T-Bag was forced down on a table while Sucre moved in with a set of shears.

It didn't work—the chain between the cuffs was too thick. Michael barely had time for disappointment before Abruzzi surged toward them, an ax lifted overhead. What the fuck? But the barn was full of tools—Abruzzi had simply found the answer first. Michael tensed as the ax came down, careful not to move…

It was like a scene from a horror movie when the ax cut off T-Bag's hand instead of cutting through the chain.

God. Sickening, absolutely sickening. Michael could hardly breathe, the suddenly lighter weight on his wrist like an admonishment for his earlier impatience. He should have known Abruzzi was capable of such a thing— this was the man who'd cut off his toes back at Fox River, for god's sake. And yet he'd somehow forgotten. He'd let himself like the man, get too comfortable with him. He'd even come to think of him as "John."

Abruzzi was saying something, but Michael wasn't listening. He was too preoccupied with realizing that the monster had always been just below the surface, all this time.

Someone jostled him, and he returned back to the urgency of the moment. They had to go now, get to the rendezvous before the plane wound up leaving without them. Michael's head was filled with blood then, so much blood on the table, on T-Bag's arm… in Michael's past.

He was free of his burden finally, free to run to a better future with Lincoln. T-Bag likely wouldn't survive that wound unless he was caught, and the thought rose up in Michael's head that either way that was probably for the best.

T-Bag's eyes were on Michael now, pleading not to be abandoned, but it was too late.

The Michael who would have cared was already long gone, run off by the ruthlessness that had shackled itself to Michael's soul.

 

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