Michael was tired of running.
He had been doing it for days, he hadn’t been able to take a minute to think about what he was actually doing.
He was scared of Alexander Mahone.
And not because he was the one chasing him, not because he foresaw nothing good coming from that manhunt that had become a slaughter, but because there was something in the agent that didn’t convince him.
He seemed to be inside his head.
He always knew what he was thinking, he knew what his plans were, he knew where he was going to be and was always there to wait, and Michael told himself if was just a matter of time before he would’ve run out of plans to escape and would’ve had to surrender to the inevitable.
Gila was his last hope to make it.
When he had realized Mahone had found him there too, he would’ve liked to ask how the hell he had done that, how could he comprehend his processes so well, how could he have foreseen his every move up to that point.
But he had listened to his common sense, and he had tried to flee, he had tried not to die like a hunted animal.
It would’ve all been for nothing, if Mahone had managed to catch him.
He would’ve died with a bullet in his back or his neck, died like Abruzzi and Tweener had, died without having the time to realize what was going on.
And he would’ve abandoned all those that he was supposed to help, and he would’ve left them alone wondering what his intentions were, what was his plan to leave the country unseen.
He would’ve left them in Mahone’s hands, who once caught up with them would have...
He sighed, and passed his hands on his face over and over, trying to erase those images from his mind.
He couldn’t afford to waver, not now.
He tried to think quickly, which he had always managed to do under pressure, but it was like the fed’s presence inhibited him, as if anything coming to his mind had to be rejected right away, because by now he was sure that the other man would’ve understood it even when he was completely clueless.
If they hadn’t been under this circumstance, Michael was sure he would’ve been fascinated with Alexander Mahone’s mind, and with the way he could analyse his as if it was something easy and manageable.
When he literally managed to close him up in a cage, he didn’t feel better.
He looked at him without saying a word, he couldn’t think straight, which happened so little often to him that he didn’t know how to face it.
The agent smiled, sarcastic, his hands against the steel, trying to hide a tremor that Michael couldn’t help but notice.
He wasn’t okay, but the younger one couldn’t find solace in it either.
He didn’t want being a fugitive to make him the kind of person rejoicing in other people’s sickness, because it had never been in his nature and it wasn’t going to be now, no matter what that man represented.
“We both know how it’s going to end, Michael.” Mahone told him, looking at him straight in the eyes while the younger one avoided his stare, little interested in what he had to say.
It didn’t matter anymore.
“If you truly believe that killing us one by one will help you get to sleep at night, I’m glad for you. But I figure it’s not that easy, is it?” he shook his head. “I don’t understand it, you try to survive the fear of someone finding out how you’ve killed Shales and then you leave so many bodies behind you... perhaps it’s not an accident, perhaps you hadn’t just convinced yourself you were doing the right thing taking a man like Shales off the streets. What happened? Did you realize how much you enjoy the power of taking someone’s life?”
Alex smiled to him, that smile typical of who knows he’s got the upper hand which, all things considered, Michael found absurd.
“And what do you think? That having saved your brother from the chair makes you some kind of hero?” he asked, sarcastic. “That it makes you a hero having helped Bagwell or Abruzzi run? I don’t think you’re much better than me, Michael.”
He didn’t like how comfortable Mahone seemed to be in calling him by his name, and he didn’t like what he was pointing at.
His mind had already tormented him enough for what he had done, but it was still too late to do anything about it.
“What I’ve done, I’ve done for Lincoln. You’ve killed two men just for other people to ignore the fact that you’re a murderer, just like those you’re supposed to catch. So, yes, forgive me if I think I’m slightly better than you, Alex.” he said, with a determination that he didn’t actually feel, but that he had to pretend. “You’ve treated this manhunt as a family feud, as if it was something concerning you, and not something you should keep your distance from. You’re fighting a war that it’s not yours, and no one will hesitate to leave you behind when they won’t need you anymore.”
The federal agent raised an eyebrow, grimacing, while his breath got faster and the tremor more obvious.
“You don’t know what it means chasing a man like Shales. Did he really deserve to live?”
“For sure it wasn’t your right to choose if he deserved to die. Exactly like it’s not your right to kill us just to save your badge.”
They were both losing it, and Michael knew that.
And once again he got scared, because as much as the other couldn’t shoot him now because of the propane, he knew this wasn’t going to be the last time they met each other, and he knew that next time Mahone wasn’t going to hesitate before pulling the trigger to kill him.
Or worse, to kill Lincoln or anyone else he cared about.
“Kill me, then.” Alexander murmured, raising his hands and opening his arms, as if offering himself up. “Kill me, Michael, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Kill me, and whomever they’re going to choose to replace me is going to have a hard time coming to the same conclusions I have. To read through those tattoos on your body. You’re going to have all the time you need to run and save your brother and the doctor. Come on.” he provoked him.
Michael didn’t even doubt about it, and he knew that this certainty of his was what the agent was counting on.
Because he was right, because Mahone knew him better than he thought, because he had left a trail among his tattoos and his actions that the man hadn’t failed to see.
He knew he wasn’t going to kill because Michael wasn’t a murderer, he knew that in order to save Lincoln he had come to the point of pretending to rob a bank to be locked up in Fox River, but that he would’ve never stooped as low as to take a man’s life.
Michael clenched his teeth, looking neutral at him and despising all he represented, despising those that had sent him to kill them and despising that spiteful look with which Mahone thought he could scare him, when the only thing he was afraid of was to fail in protecting his family, protecting Lincoln and LJ. Protecting Sara.
“You can’t, can you?” the older man went on, leaning his arms again on the grating, his face close to it. “You can’t kill me because you’re just not that kind of guy, because we both know you’re not a criminal. You’re just someone who’s chosen to ruin his own life for a brother who’s always been a jailbird.” he half-smiled, shaking his head. “I will win in the end, Michael. I will win and I will have my freedom back. And I will sleep nice and there won’t be anything else persecuting me, when all of this will be over.”
Michael hated him, and hated himself as well for still being there listening. If there hadn’t been that grate between them he would’ve probably hit him, just that, cause he couldn’t bring himself to do more; for that too, he felt frustrated.
He looked at him again, certain he was doing the right thig, determined not to be scared again of a man in his conditions, a man that should’ve arisen pity in him, not rage.
“Do you think you can?” he asked, finally calm. “Do you think that once the job is done they’ll let you go?” he chuckled, sarcastic, then went closer to him. “You’ll be a witness and you’ll be eliminated, just like everybody else. When you’ll be done killing even the last one of us, you will have signed your sentence, then you’ll spend your days hoping to receive some sort of grace to forgive you for all you’ve done. But you know what? That’s not going to happen, because what you want is not for the world to forget about Oscar Shales. It’s you who want to forget him, and that’s why you’ve accepted to do something like this.”
Even though he wanted to keep accusing him, Alex didn’t let him.
“What could you possibly know about what I want or what I think? Don’t pretend you know me, because the idea you have of me comes just from having gone to talk with my ex-wife pretending to be somebody else. You don’t know me, Scofield.” he inveighed, and Michael couldn’t help but notice how quick he had passed to using his last name now.
“Perhaps I don’t know you personally.” he admitted. “But after all you’re no different from all those people looking for the easiest way out of their mistakes, Alexander.” he finished, then made as to walk away, followed by the fed’s voice.
“When we’ll meet each other again, you’ll regret that you let me live!”
Scofield didn’t bother to answer and joined Sara outside the warehouse, while still thinking about Mahone’s words.
He wasn’t going to regret not having killed him, because it was something he never would’ve done, no matter the circumstances.
He would’ve kept running away from him, he would’ve tried to catch him off guard, to finally do something that the other couldn’t foresee, and he would’ve gone his way.
Yet he felt a sort of melancholy for that man, without understanding why he should feel sorry for someone who was trying to hurt them.
He had seen the desperation in his eyes, and that had taken any fear away from him.
He had seen deep in his eyes a sickness that couldn’t be cured, and he wished he would’ve realized how useless that massacre was, how little relief it would’ve brought to his demons, but it just wasn’t Michael’s place to tell him.
They were one against the other, and he had already given his compassion to too many lost causes for still being able to feel any compassion for him.
He left him there in that warehouse, knowing that someone was coming to free him, knowing that once outside that cage Alex would’ve been right behind him, that he would’ve kept chasing him.
And Michael was tired of running from men more desperate than him.
He just wished he could’ve stopped and scream all his frustration, but it still wasn’t the right time to do so.
As soon as he would’ve been given a moment of peace, he would’ve thought about everything else.
Now he could just keep on running.