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Checkmate

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Theodore walked up and down his cell, killing those few minutes from the moment the bars would’ve finally opened.

He felt cold, too much for the season, and he knew it was because for the first time he lacked something warming him up.

He walked, and he pondered.

He pondered, his tongue between his teeth, frowning, his eyes wandering high, unconsciously in direction of cell number forty.

Since he had arrived to Fox River, Scofield had took too many things that belonged to him.

The first one to be torn off of him had been May Tag, and as much as he had sworn Scofield would’ve paid, he justified himself for having let him with his skin on his body.

He needed him, didn’t he?

He needed Scofield, and when that was not going to be the case anymore...

Then there had been Seth, Cherry, and lets Scofield not believe he hadn’t seen them talking in the showers, because there was nothing going down in that prison that Theodore Bagwell wasn’t aware of.

And now it had been too long since his pocket had suffered for the lacking of a hand holding to it, and the fault was just of that fish who believed to have taken away from him all the authority he had built during the years, all the fear that merely looking him in the eyes caused in the scared kids ended up in Fox River for misdemeanours.

Scofield, nevertheless, thought to be smart. And he was, Bagwell recognized that to him, but what he was wrong about was to think he was the only one with a brain, to underestimate all those he surrounded himself with, thinking that having a Ph.D. made him superior to all the others.

T-Bag grimaced, annoyed.

Oh, he would’ve shown him that there was a brain inside his head too. And he would’ve shown him how that alone wasn’t enough inside that prison, when someone got his eyes on you and decided you were his stuff, when they didn’t have any use for your IQ.

He heard the noise of the cells opening, and quickly went to the stairs.

Once arrived in front of the forty he saw the Mexican or whatever stop on the frame, confused.

“Go take a walk, gringo.” Theodore told him, pointing behind himself, and Sucre didn’t move until he had glanced at Michael, still sitting on the cot, to have confirmation.

When he finally got out, Bagwell followed his steps with his gaze, disgusted.

It was weak men like him that convinced arrogant people like Scofield to be all high and mighty, that they could make room for themselves where they shouldn’t have, to satiate that thirst for control that they shouldn’t have had, not in their position.

“What do you want, Bagwell?” Michael asked, and Theodore pretended not to read beneath his tone still that sense of superiority, he pretended not to read the disgust he felt just talking to him.

He had too much to argue with Scofield to allow himself to be bothered to this trivialities as well.

There was who still had to pay for having taken his toys away, and he had never hidden a certain interest in the mission of taking that know-it-all look off the fish’s face.

And do it the best way he knew how.

“What, Pretty? Now can’t a colleague come and have a word with you?” he said, raising an eyebrow and leaning almost nonchalant against the cell’s bars, to send him the clear message that, until he was to decide that, he wasn’t getting out.

“Do you really believe that having accidentally found out about the break out and having threatened us to tell the guards if we hadn’t accepted to let you come along makes us colleagues?” the other man replied, quick.

Theodore licked his lower lip, taking a step forward and leaning on him, brushing his face with his fingertips.

And there it was, that disgust again, but this time he couldn’t help being pleased by it and smile to that loathing, because no matter how much Scofield pretended to be superior to all off them, in the end in situation like that one he became just a scared little kid.

T-Bag pressed on his skin, sure to make him feel his presence until he would’ve washed.

It was a proven experiment.

“You’ll break out of here, I’ll break out of here. You dig, I dig. I don’t see how that don’t make us colleagues, Princess.” he said, shrugging. “Sure, unless you’re still tryin’ to screw me over somehow, because that’s what little geniuses like you do, right? They always try to make things go the right way, but...” the hand went down to Michael’s throat, tightening enough to feel his heartbeat accelerate. “It don’t always work it, you know that? Especially in places like this. Especially when you’re not out yet, when you’re still forced to be here, lookin’ around with that lost stare without knowin’ where danger can come from, from where the next hit will come.” he went on in a hiss, then he paused, looking at him like an hunter his prey. “And you don’t know how many dangers are still in front of you, up to the moment you’ll set foot out of here. Right, Scofield?” he said, letting him go and standing up, resting his back against the wall and crossing his arms.

The younger one raised his eyes on him, doing as to bring his hand where Bagwell’s had been, but then he reconsidered and closed it in a fist, clawing at his palm.

“And you shouldn’t forget that once we’re going to be out of here there aren’t going to be guards anymore, T-Bag. There will be no one to snitch to about a bunch of cons trying to break out. There will be no one between you and whomever won’t be so happy to let General KKK on the loose. But you know that, right?”

Theodore had to call upon all of his self-control to avoid putting his hand on his throat again, this time to hold it tight until that satisfied smirk would’ve disappeared forever.

He knocked on the wall behind, biting his lip and fixating his eyes on Michael’s, frowning.

“You talk too much for someone who’s been here so little, Scofield.” he said, trying to mask his irritation, the rage he felt toward hi right now. “With that nice Ph.D. of yours and your pretty little head, you should know you shouldn’t declare war to people that can make life hell for you in here, right?” he chuckled, shaking his head. “It hasn’t always been like this in Fox River, you know? Don’t you think I’ve had my share of issues with the reputation I came with?” he hadn’t had any intention to expose himself like this, but he felt it was somehow necessary to make him see his point. “And then, one by one... they all fell like flies, all those who had something to say about me.” he tilted his head, watching Michael. “Law of the jungle, Princess. And I’ve got a survival instinct strong enough to tell me that your nice words and what the Mafioso wants to do to me once outside isn’t worth much, in the end, if I’ve come alive to this point.”

Scofield still looked at him with that expression that let through so much innocence that Bagwell felt like tearing it off his face.

A sudden shiver went through him like an electric shock, neck to hand, and that very same hand was like fighting to wrap itself around Michael’s throat again, as if it was begging him to feel once more the blood running under his skin, to hold him harder, until the fish would’ve been able to do nothing, not even beg for his life.

But he breathed in and looked for ease in that shiver itself, screaming silently inside of himself but forcing a smile to the Princess, waiting for an answer that looked like it wasn’t coming.

Scofield, in fact, stood up and went to the bars.

“It doesn’t seem like you had something really important to say, does it?”

Theodore saw him take a step to get out and pulled him from his collar, pressing him against the wall and keeping him still with his body, their faces mere inches apart.

He had never been the imposing guy, he was less than Scofield anyway, but during the years he had built that strength that went beyond the muscles, and he wanted the kid to understand that.

“It’s really important that I tell you” he hissed. “You’ve taken somethin’ away from me. I’ve got to tell you that with that pretty face of yours you’ve got no right to come in this prison and try and rule over what I should or shouldn’t do. I’ve got to tell you...” he pressed his fist against Michael’s sternum, cutting his breath. “That someone is goin’ to pay for May Tag’s and Seth’s deaths, and somehow all those have in common is you, Scofield.”

Michael breathed in deeply, pulling away from his grasp.

“You’ve tried it when I first got here, didn’t you T-Bag? I wasn’t willing to attach myself to your filthy pocket just for the success of the escape, and I won’t be to pay you back for something I didn’t take.” he shrugged, challenging. “You’re the one who caused their deaths, am I wrong?”

Theodore pulled back, his back once again against the wall, finding it incredibly cold, closing his eyes and chuckling, determined not to pick up on Scofield’s challenge.

“Believe me, if you think my tastes are so easy you’re dead wrong, Pretty. I may have found you interesting at first, but I wouldn’t dirty any part of my body mixing it with your arrogance.” he said, simply. “But there are other ways a man can pay for his crimes, you know? Because, you see...” he turned to face him, looking him from head to toes. “You’ve taken something I cared for. But you’ve got some things you care for as well, don’t you?” he asked, rhetorical, then burst out laughing. “Be careful to the skin of that garbage of a brother. The chair is not the only one of your problems, Princess. There are so many accidents that can happen to your brother for which you got no tattoo.” he finished, then left the cell. Michael didn’t react.

He didn’t say a thing, and T-Bag saw in the corner of his eyes his severe expression while he went, and felt clearly his gaze on him until he left his sight.

By now Scofield should’ve known that his threats weren’t empty, and he had to realize that he had no choice but to break him out of that damn place if he didn’t want for all of them to pay.

Bagwell wanted to laugh thinking how easily he had cornered the fish, how well he would’ve looked behind his back from then on.

Checkmate.

While he went toward the yard, the coldness he had felt until then turned into a wave of warmth, and he relished that feeling, almost forgetting what Michael Scofield had torn away from him.

He wondered how warm Lincoln Burrows’ would’ve been when T-Bah would’ve slit his throat in front of his incredulous little brother.