Lincoln would have a good laugh over Michael's situation if he could see him now.
That was one of the reasons why Michael hadn't told him about Sara.
The others were more obvious – exactly how could he talk about her without making the whole thing seem trite, or anecdotal?
Silence, at least, would spare him from the all too certain failure of capturing the magic that broke loose each time he looked at her afresh.
Yes, this was definitely one of the things in Michael's life that Lincoln would have way too much fun destroying, the way he usually destroyed things, without apparently seeing the harm.
First, he'd point out how Michael had always hated problems he couldn't solve. How he'd sent the kitchen table flying more than once when his math homework gave him a hard time; how he'd always comment during a movie when the protagonists said something illogical – 'Well, that just doesn't make sense!'
No suspension of disbelief as far as Michael was concerned.
So how to explain her?
At the diner, as he was busy paying for their orders and doing his best to respond to the waitress who, admittedly, was making an attempt to flirt with him, nearly the full of his mental capacities were focused on the image that he would be confronted with, the second he would step out of here.
She'd be gone.
He was almost certain of it.
The bell would clink amusedly on his way out and, there before him, there would be nothing but an empty street, parked cars, the neon of streetlights mocking the sudden deflation of his hopes.
"You have a nice day," the waitress said.
"Right, and you."
"So, is there any chance you –"
But Michael was already shooting out the door. He didn't hear her, didn't hear anything; like one of these characters in a film where the camera zooms in, and all the things around them become blurred.
A cold breath of air met him as he left the diner. The darkness in the sky still looked like night; there was no difference between nights and early mornings in Chicago.
A weight like a stone dropped down Michael's stomach, because she was there, waiting coolly, without seeming angry now, or impatient.
There, under the glow of the streetlamp, she had a slightly surreal air about her, like a fairy who'd strayed from her kingdom.
Michael swallowed, and nodded. For some reason, he didn't trust himself with words right at this moment.
His apartment was a twenty-minute ride away from the diner, but against all odds, the wait was free from embarrassment.
Her lines were sharp again, like a trained performer's, and it was that same witty act that had unexpectedly seduced him the first time he'd seen her, in the elevator.
"Of course," she said, "that's the sort of car you'd drive."
"How do you mean?"
"What?" He had to imitate a tone as close to hers as possible.
He knew, because of how she was all smiles, now, and because she had actually been there, waiting for him, that the time for sharing any honest feeling was over.
Maybe she was only there, sitting in this car, because she was hoping somehow to regain control.
She sighed, while he stole furtive glances at her, and tensed suddenly when he felt her fingers brush his thigh.
"The sort of car that's straight out of a men's magazine or something."
"Well," he was cautious, unsure which facet of himself was under attack here, "it is new. Came with my last promotion –"
"Of course it did."
"Why, do you hate it?"
"That's not the point."
The point was that it went too well along with his own aura of magic, that he appeared out of nowhere and stumbled upon her, often when she was at a disadvantage, that he happened to be sober when she was drunk, that he managed to look barely disheveled when he was fresh out of a car accident.
He felt her fingers on his leg again, this time, firmly.
They were just reaching the right exit and it was a rather steep turn, but he couldn't stop his eyes from trying to follow her fingers, as if it would give him a more proper idea what she was doing.
"By the way," she said, "should you be driving?"
"I do think I heard the doctors recommend nothing reckless."
He could barely feel her touch through the fabric of his jeans, like the ghost of desire merely brushing by, sending his brain into a state of ebullition.
Now, a voice in his head said, she's toying with you, like she probably does all the men she 'takes home'.
Was that the only way she could think of to get on top of this?
Or was it payback because of how he'd robbed her of any chance at peaceful sleep tonight?
Never mind that she'd done the same to him.
He didn't know. Only knew he could do nothing but follow wherever she was leading him.
"All safe to drive," he said.
Her hand crept farther up his jeans.
Michael opened his mouth to stop her, but the thought that this was exactly what she was expecting him to do stopped him short.
Okay. Perfect. Now, you absolutely don't know what you're doing.
In the corner of his eye, he could see that she was smiling. In surprise, probably.
Good boys like him probably started looking embarrassed right about now. They would have cleared their throats awkwardly, spoken her name in an incredulous tone, like the two syllables were a blaze of daring defiance on their tongues.
Michael kept his eyes on the road, kept the flow of emotions waiting to brim out of his restless body.
He wanted her, wanted her more than he remembered ever wanting anything.
Her hand, drawing nearer to his manhood, leaving trails of scorched desire on his skin.
Still, he said nothing, didn't allow himself to fall into that easy pattern, to become only the type which she was desperately trying to put him in.
Out of focus, she was all smiles and flaming hair next to him. What was she thinking? That she'd had dozens like him? That she'd get him out of her system and be gone before daybreak, leave behind only a note on some scrap of paper she'd find on his bedside table, a few scribbled words and a lipstick-wet kiss?
Then her hand squeezed his thigh through his jeans, and he had to look back at her, because this time, she wasn't teasing.
Her cinnamon eyes were serious despite her obvious amusement.
"Whatever you're thinking…" She said. "You're overthinking it."
That was probably right.
A moment later, he was parking in the street opposite his building.
"Is that the place?" She said.
He wanted to answer, but found all air in his lungs was wanting.
She hadn't taken her hand off of him.
"All right. Show me."
Dawn was slowly breaking out of the huge bay window in his living room, casting a red and gold glow on each immaculate piece of furniture, the mahogany coffee table, the vinyl player, the alphabetically sorted books.
"It's, uh –"
"Like, you just murdered your ex and dissolved her corpse clean."
"I like things to be in order."
The same fingers that had been doing such diabolical teasing on his leg were now wandering across his bookshelf.
Michael stood frozen in the doorframe, uncertain how to react.
He hadn't realized until just now just how much he hadn't been planning for this to happen.
That was the paradox, wasn't it?
He was usually so obsessional about things. How was it his brother put it? Oh, yeah. You don't take a piss without planning it first.
Well, what about this?
What about the gorgeous unplanned redhead excruciatingly running her fingers over his book collection?
"Will I find anything unrespectable here?"
"You mean, porn?" He shrugged. "Afraid you'll have to check my bedroom shelf for that."
"Is it sorted, too?"
"Sure. By rating."
"So, from K plus to PG thirteen?"
The look in her eyes was a surprising shade of serious when she met his gaze across the room.
"You really are a sweet guy, aren't you, Michael?"
"You say that like it's some kind of heart disease."
She walked around the coffee table to meet him, and his own feet carried him toward her half-dazedly, so that, soon enough, they were standing face to face, behind the leather sofa where Lincoln sometimes crashed when he needed somewhere to stay the night.
"You do things like this a lot?" He asked.
"More often than you, I'm sure."
Their eyes locked, and he didn't care whether she was expecting him to let her make the first move, didn't care about things he might get right or wrong.
This wasn't wrong.
The feel of her hair was silky and slightly tangled as he slipped his hand around her neck, and kissed her.
His lips were the softest she'd ever kissed, like a girl, almost, but his cheeks rubbed more roughly against her chin, the sand-papery day-old stubble clashing with his sweet kiss.
He tasted of salt and her lip balm, and that magical smell that had been trapped with her on the elevator, which she still inhaled on the nights she got drunk enough to bury her face in his scarf.
Of course, she thought she knew how this was going to go.
She was going to take the lead, because that's what she did with nice guys like him. Make his chaste kisses more ravenous and urging. Run her hands all over him, and grab his – the one she bet wouldn't go higher than her waist – and guide it under her blouse towards her breasts.
But none of that happened.
When she had had the wonderful idea to take him home, tonight – this morning? – she wasn't sure what she had been expecting. Or, really, why she had done it.
When fate keeps pushing one way, and your pushing the other doesn't seem to be working, you have to adapt, right? Try something else.
Their ankles met the back of the couch, and Sara was vaguely aware of their tipping over the edge. The room spun for a second but she didn't see it, wasn't looking. Their lips were still locking and breaking apart, enjoying the fresh wonders of their discovering each other unhurriedly.
Sara realized Michael was now on top of her, and they were uncomfortably settled on the sofa. He was propping himself up with his elbows, and one of his knees was wedged between her legs.
"You didn't hurt yourself?"
She wanted to add something witty, like, she'd let him know if she wanted hurting, but he stopped her lips with hers and she thought that this was better, yes, much better than playful pretense.
There was no need, in the end, for her hand to guide his toward her small firm breasts, or even below the hem of her jeans, which he unbuttoned without needing prompting.
He wasn't a virgin and didn't act like one, just so she could act like the more experienced debauchee.
Really, he didn't humor her at any time, that night – it was morning already, and the light of day made his nudity and hers more genuine and exciting.
Just as she was gripping his hips to thrust herself against him, he tore his face away with a wet plop and looked up at her, serious.
"Will you be gone forever when this is over?"
"I don't know."
"I don't want you to."
"I know. I don't really, either."
His blue-as-ice eyes scrutinized her for a moment, and she almost thought he was going to demand an answer.
Give her an ultimatum.
I don't want to play games, Sara. Either this is for real, or it's not. But I won't be your puppet – your 'good guy'.
And they all were, in the end, she thought. Puppets.
Even those who brutalized her.
Or was that just what she told herself, to make it feel like she was in control?
If she fueled their anger when she spotted that first fire-catching temper in their eyes, if she slapped them when they tried to force themselves between her legs, if she kicked into the hornets' nest instead of trying to save herself, it meant it was still her rules, her game, even when to all watching, the victory was theirs.
But Michael couldn't be manipulated like them.
He wouldn't enter her play of seduction, because he was seduced, had been seduced from the first, and she was starting to suspect she was, too.
He kissed her again.
The softness of his lips melted away the thoughts that had been clawing at her tired mind, and soon, her body was in full charge.
Oh, she thought, when he entered her, and, please, and, I don't want this to end, I really don't want this to end, either.
Sara was never one to give way to any audible displays of pleasure in the throes of lovemaking, even at its finest.
That day, lying naked on the couch of Michael Scofield's living room, it was in the secret recesses of her mind that the private confessions broke loose inside her head.
So, as he responded to her wants with instinctive care, made his touch rougher when her body language demanded it, or his rhythm slower, even as her lungs were screaming for oxygen, she never betrayed her own gratification, never gave her pleasure the undying trace of words.
And, even as her love for him exploded inside of her a dozen times over, no evidence of such outbursts made it past the threshold of speech.
It was hours until sleep finally caught up with them both, until their mutual thirst for each other was pacified enough for their heartbeats to quiet down, and for tiredness to take over.
He fell asleep, first.
Sara watched him, his face a mere whisper from hers, as they each lay on their side, oblivious to the discomfort caused by the narrowness of the couch.
Naked, beautiful, he looked like a modern angel, oddly incompatible with the world as she saw it – with her life, or her idea of love.
Yet, as she contemplated his sleeping figure, she thought this was the right time for final unspoken confessions.
What would she say, in complete honesty, if he stood no chance of hearing her?
That he had given her such genuine joy as she had ever felt before, and still, if he were to ask her again, Will you be there when I wake up? She'd be bound to give him the same answer.
I don't know. I don't know.
That she had never been one to like stories of romance, especially the type in which love changed a person, peeled away all the layers of darkness to reveal a heart of gold.
Oh, how she hated such platitudes.
As if anyone outside your own mind and all its insanities could compete with your own selfish wants.
Love could give you the desire to change, at most.
But that wasn't enough.
Peel away all you want, Michael, layer after layer, you'll find only more darkness, only the shade of abysses staring back into your blue-eyed soul.
What was it she would confess to him, at this moment, if she should think the sight of his sleeping face would haunt her still, years from now?
You had me at hello?
Suddenly, Sara remembered walking away from him in an elevator, and how his eyes had seemed to burn and burn as she disappeared from his life; and she thought that, if anything, he had had her at goodbye.
End Notes: I know I've been a long time in updating. Regardless, I've had a wonderful emotional time with that chapter. Please let me know your thoughts. PS: I don't usually have songs in mind when I write stories, but this time The Witcher's "Her Sweet Kiss" kept flashing back and forth as I wrote Michael's POV. Link below if you want to try it!