SnowWhite22 (snowwhite22) wrote in prisonbreak_fic,
SnowWhite22
snowwhite22
prisonbreak_fic

Amulet

Amulet

PG
Character:
Sara with appearances by originals and Michael

Summary: Sara is determined to make it on her own post-rehab. A flashback fic

Disclaimer: I don't own PB or the characters. I just move them around like Barbie Dolls. 

Notes: Written from prompts from angelsbitca. They were awesome prompts and I loved writing this. Thanks for the awesome, awesome prompts. It may be a little outdated since it was written last May for the exchange but I wanted it up before the season premiere next week.


Amulet

Three years ago


The first day off the needle, Sara didn't miss it. She had once gone four days without a hit before waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and ransacking her apartment for a spare syringe. So the first day went smoothly. But by sunrise the second day, the vivid nightmares of children's bikes and spiraling panic were turning her blood to ice. The walls were closing in around her and all she could think of were warm needles sliding under her skin and heating her blood. She grabbed her purse, and headed for the in-patient clinic before she could change her mind. She stood in the bleak florescent lights in a pair of worn flannel pajama bottoms, her fingers shaking as she signed the voluntary commitment papers.

Twenty-seven days later and Sara sat drumming her fingers on the faded couch in her counselor's office. He had quotes covering every wall, some in glossy frames, some scrawled on scrap paper with thumb tacks shoved through them, some written right on the wall itself. She was focusing on one next to the wide window when his voice cut in.

"What are you looking at?" Peter had a girly, soft voice, which always cracked Sara up because he looked like a middle-school teacher. He wore things like green sweater vests over plaid shirts and wrinkled khaki pants. He ran group therapy and was a recovered meth addict. He started each group session by saying "My name is Peter and I'm addicted to meth. I've been clean and sober 12 years and 5 months." It felt counter-productive to Sara because the first time the introduction reached her, it had been humiliating to say "I've been clean and sober almost four days." But as the weeks went on, it got easier.

"Sara, what are you looking at?"

"Oh." She snapped back to attention. "I was just looking at..." She gestured to the framed quote she had been staring at listlessly, then back at him.

Peter nodded. "It's by Yeats. Interesting, don't you think?"

"A little bit of a downer." She mumbled.

He smiled. "Well, it's taken out of context. Anyway, so one day left with us. How do you feel about that?"

"Ummm..." She rubbed her palms across her jeans. The first few days in detox she couldn't have even moved her legs. Her legs had been stolen and replaced with stabbing knives and raging tremors that shook her whole body. Detox had just about killed her. But she could move more freely now. She could rub her hands on her legs and feel the bones underneath her thin skin. It felt good to just feel anything real again. "I feel....anxious. Sort of filled with trepidation. But in a good way."

"How so?" Peter removed his glasses and rubbed them on his shirt. When he did that, it made her feel like she hadn't given him the right answer and he would make her sit there, staring at his insipid quotes, until she had.

"Well, I've taken a leave from work. I'm going to move out of my boyfriend's, I mean ex-boyfriend's place, and crash with an old friend for a few days until I can get an apartment for myself." She shrugged. "I guess I'm just anxious I don't know what's coming but that's a good thing, right? It means I can take each day as it comes and make a new path, right?"

He gave her a long leveling look before glancing back down at his glasses. "Right."

"Look, I've had goals my whole life and look where they got me. I think by not planning my next step down to the ground it's going to keep me from falling into old patterns." She hated feeling like she had to explain herself. She hated Peter but that wasn't going to get her out of here any faster.

"Well, not falling into old patterns is important." He mused. "But I just want to make sure you're not setting yourself up for future bad choices. This friend you are moving in with....how do you know them?"

"Just a girl I knew in medical school. Pre-drugging." She smirked. "She knows that I'm out of rehab."

"Good. Good that you are honest with her." He murmured. "But is that really the best option? Why not your father or a relative?"

"No, I don't want to stay with my father." She sat up straighter and folded her arms. She knew she probably looked like a petulant child, but the stance was automatic. "Plus, he hasn't offered." She shook her head and looked out the window again. "It's better like this. On my own. No one to blame."

"Blame for what?" Peter made a note the pad in his lap.

"Just blame in general. If I screw up or if I don't, it'll be my fault. Not his." Sara resented the way Peter was looking at her, like she was signing her own death warrant, but she pushed on anyway. "It's time I take responsibility."

Peter gave her another long look, like he was measuring her up. "I'll agree with you there. The first thing we have to do is take responsibility for ourselves."

We. As if we're anything alike. She had come to learn that Peter made himself feel more like a success by acting like he was the measuring stick all addicts should live up to. She turned her head away to stare at a quote across the room.

She could hear him sigh. "Sara, I know you think you've come a long way, and you have done well with your detox, but it's going to be tough out there. I just want you to be prepared."

"You don't think I'm prepared." She wondered if he spoke to her in those condescending tones because she was a real doctor and he wasn't or if he just had a natural knack for it.

"I think you are taking a lot on really quickly and it's going to be very easy to fall back into your old routine." He leaned his hands on his wrinkled slacks and tilted his head. "A lot of people do."

"A lot of people haven't done the things I've done. A lot of people are only responsible for themselves. I've made a career out of being responsible for others." She pointed out.

"Which is why it's so important you don't lose all the progress you've made here." He sat back and crossed his arms across his chest, as if that had been the point he had been trying to make all along.

"Mm-hmm." Sara nodded and lapsed into silence. She had four more minutes with him and then she could get back to her room for her last night.

They sat in silence for a minute while Sara counted in her head how many quotes he had pinned up. She was up to seventeen before he spoke again.

"I think I have something that will help you." He waited until she had looked at him before continuing. "Just a little technique that has helped me."

He unwound a rubber band from his hairy wrist, stretching it as he leaned out to hand it to her. "I always have one of those with me. I found one my third night in rehab, the last time I went through. It was on the floor near my bed during detox. I was half out of my mind, totally delirious, sure that I was going to die in that room."

Sara raised an eyebrow. She had said something very similar to him just a few weeks ago, but she let it slide.

"I don't know how the rubber band got there, but I started staring at it, playing with it, slipping it on and off my arm. It was something to focus on, something real that didn't involve pain or drags."

"It's a rubber band." Sara responded flatly.

"Physically, yes." He heaved himself out of his chair, crossed to his desk and pulled out another rubber band. Slipping in onto his arm, he held it out to Sara like a shield. "But really, it's more. It's a reminder. It keeps me focused. When I feel myself backsliding, I give it a snap..." He snapped the band hard against his hairy wrists and Sara looked down. "...and I'm taken back to that room where I thought I was going to die. It shows me over and over how far I've come."

"Good." Sara stood up and held the band back out to him. "It's a good idea."

"No, keep it." He smiled a wide, toothy grin at her and Sara choked back a shudder. "I've got a whole box of them. Good luck to you, Sara. And if you ever need anything..."

"Thanks." She gave him a quick handshake and a fleeting smile. "I'll remember that."

On her way back to her room, Sara tossed the rubber band into the trash can. The only way she was going to be able to make it outside the safe walls of the clinic was for her to do it on her own. Home remedy techniques weren't going to change that.

* * * * *

Her new condo reeked of fresh paint. The rooms were still empty except for a few boxes and a suitcase of clothes. Sara lay spread-eagle in the center of her living room, staring up at the blank ceiling. With the stark white walls and sterile-smelling carpets, she felt like she was in her own private room at the psyche ward of Chicago General instead of what was supposed to be her home.

The condo downtown had been on the high end of her price range but she dipped into her trust fund to make the down payment. The neighborhood was filled with corporate lawyers and mainstream yuppies. She watched them from her stretching living room window, scurrying around on the street like worker ants, heading to important places in their custom tailored suits and shiny Mercedes coupes. A year ago, she wouldn't have lived here if the place had been free. But now, trying to tackle a new life, she figured maybe if she surrounded herself with successful, normal people, maybe she could blend in and follow their lead. Maybe she'd want to go back to work faster. As of now, she couldn't bring herself to even call the hospital to consider going back to work.

The overhead light had been blinding so she had switched it off. There was a flickering candle from the top of the cupcake she'd bought for herself, illuminating the stretching dusk shadows on the bare walls. She watched it flicker and dance, the wax melting into the frosting the longer she let it burn. She whispered softly, "Happy Two Month, Sara."

Two months clean. Sixty-one days of reality. Sixty-one days of struggling to wake up in the morning and feeling like she was going through her days underwater. Two months of spilling her guts out to strangers at meetings and the constant, suffocating fear she'd never rebuild the career she had systematically destroyed. She'd been on her own for thirty-one days of that. Peter had called twice to check up on her. The first time she gave him a few one word answers and cut the conversation short. The second time she didn't even bother answering.

He was just doing his job, but Sara didn't need a baby-sitter. She was proud she'd been able to get clean. It'd had been hard the first few days out of rehab, but she'd powered through, staying busy by looking up free health clinics she could volunteer at and catching up with people she hadn't seen since pre-drugging. She hadn't gone down to any of the clinics yet, but she knew where they were. She knew where to find them. She was happy with the fact she had gone two months without picking up a needle. It was good to know that about yourself—to know how far your limits were. Just like she knew if she ever did indulge a little, that she could pull herself out of it. She could indulge in a little reward for starting fresh and trying to reclaim her control. She had control now. Even if she did indulge a little, she'd still have that elusive control over herself. Just a little reward wouldn't change that. She deserved a little reward.

Sara blew out the drooping candle and slammed the front door on the way out, its sound echoing through the empty rooms.

* * *

It had been so long since she had been near Chicago General, she had forgotten about the weekly flea market half a block away. Once a week, vendors from all over the county came out to sell to the urban masses- fresh fruit, home-spun clothes, jewelry. The streets were covered in card tables and balloons. Noisy people wove in and out of the packed sidewalks, skimming tables, eating, laughing. Sara ducked through the crowds, pretending to browse the stands but keeping her eye on the reflecting windows of Chicago General. She felt for the cell phone in her pocket, her mind mentally dialing the number before her fingers could. She knew how it looked on her digital display. KC- 773-555-0101. She had dialed it so many times she could have done it in her sleep. Hell, a few times she had.

KC had been her hook-up, her comrade. The guy who knew how to steal anything at CG under the radar. He had started the nursing program the same time she had started her residency. For four years, they had worked side by side, gone drinking together after work, had shot up together in between shifts. KC had been the one to show her how to tie the tourniquet so it gave her best access to the vein. He had been the one to introduce her to her former boyfriend. If anyone was going to hook her up with a quick snack, it would be him.

She slipped the cell phone out of her pocket and traced a trembling finger over the buttons. She could almost hear his voice if she called.

"Sara-girl!" He'd have that light, sing-song voice he got when he was riding a drug-induced wave. "Sara-girl, where ya been? Come play with me. I've got just the right stuff for you. So sweet."

She closed her eyes and let his imagined voice echo through her brain and block out the swirling noises of the flea market around her. His voice would be inviting and tinged with giddy laughter. The same laughter she used to have once the needle had crawled under her skin and made her blood boil. Just the thought of it was making her shake in anticipation.

The shakes rumbled through her body, leaving her weak and sick. Someone bumped her hard and Sara stumbled back against a table, her eyes flying open. A kid with a sticky face was staring back at her, clutching a dripping sno-cone. He rubbed his mouth and smiled, his dark face cracking open.

"Sorry, lady." He said. "It was an accident."

"Oh, it's okay." She knelt in front of him. He looked so innocent and trusting, staring up at her. Like another child that had been in front of her and she had let die on the street. Sara licked her lips and scrambled for something to distract her to keep the nausea from overtaking her. "What flavor is your sno-cone?"

He stuck out his cherry-colored tongue. "Red. I got it for going to the doctor over there." He pointed to Chicago General.

"You went to the doctor?" She looked over her shoulder at the hospital's gleaming windows. "I was thinking of going there, too."

"To see a doctor? You look kinda sick." He looked her over. "Kinda white and stuff. Are you sick?"

Sara stared at the cell phone in her hand and was suddenly overwhelmingly dizzy. The phone was dauntingly heavy in her palm. What the hell was she doing? "I think I am."

"Here." He pointed to the table next to him. Gleaming silver jewelry lay in neat rows. "If you go to the doctor, you get a present."

She smiled at his simple logic. "You know, I think this time, I think I get a present for not going in there. If I do, I'll only get sicker. But I like your idea. Will you help me pick one out?"

"That one." He pointed to a bracelet. Sara picked it up and turned it over in her hand. Its weight was light and Sara slipped it on to her wrist. She had a brief flash of a rubber band rolling over thick, manly wrists and shook it away, suddenly fascinated with its design.
It was a silver band cut into intricately detailed sections. It moved freely around her wrist and caught the last gleam of daylight on the links.

"It's a good one." She pulled out a few bills and laid them on the table. "And every time I wear it, I'll remember what I was doing when I got it."

The kid looked over his shoulder. "I gotta go! Bye. Feel better." He took off running through the crowd.

Sara watched him go, her left hand twisting the bracelet around her wrist. The design was simple, comforting. She stared at it for a second, waiting for the sick feeling to fade from her stomach. She took out her cell phone again and pulled up KC's number. With one last look at her bracelet, she hit another button. DELETE ENTRY

* * * * *

Almost three years later, his fingers brushed over the top of the bracelet as she took his pulse. She turned his palm over in her hand and his long fingers skimmed over the top of the metal, rubbing gently, then coming to rest at the soft underside of her wrist.

He was staring at their joined hands. She counted off his pulse and felt a small pang in her stomach that his heart rate speeding up. "Heart rate's fine." She murmured.

"I'm a healthy guy." He flashed a quick grin and she could feel her own heart rate picking up. "You know....aside from the diabetes."

"You're lucky, Michael." She tried to keep a serious face but she couldn't help returning his smile. "Your diabetes is surprisingly easy to maintain."

"Yeah?" He dropped his eyes and pulled his hand out of hers. That nagging warning bell sounded in the back of her mind. The one that said he wasn't telling her the whole story. But then he looked up easily and she thought maybe she was imagining things.

"You must be taking good care of me." His voice was light.

She smiled briefly and stepped away. "I'm just doing my job." She held up an empty vial, holding it loosely between her fingers. "Roll your sleeve up, please. Today's your lucky day. Random drug testing."

He raised an eyebrow but rolled his sleeve up obediently. Her hands moved automatically, rubbing his skin with alcohol, tying the tourniquet. Through the delicate inked lines of his arm, the vein popped up quickly.

He spoke softly over her bent head. "You do more than that, you know. More than your job."

"What makes you say that?" She kept her eyes focused on the vial filling with blood but she could feel his eyes grazing over her hair, settling on her neck. Her skin was heating up and she took a long, quiet breath.

His arm was stretched out along hers and he drummed his fingers casually against the inside of her elbow. "Anyone can see how dedicated you are."

"Trying to sweet talk me?" She tossed her head up, her tone joking, but the look in his eye had her heart thumping hard against her ribs. He was watching her, his eyes following the length of her neck, traveling back up to her lips when she spoke. She tilted her head to catch his eye and they held a heavy stare. Sara couldn't look away, couldn't break away from his steady eyes.

"No, I'm not trying to sweet talk you. I was just..." She felt that there was something more he was going to add but he swallowed hard and averted his eyes. He spoke again smoothly. "I'm just saying I admire your passion."

"Mm-hmm. The passionate doctor." She turned her attention back to his arm, willing the flush she could feel on the back of her neck to fade. The surprising feeling of disappointment that he hadn't finished his sentence curled through her stomach, stretching through her until she had to force herself to focus. She mentally geared herself to pay attention to the little details, withdrawing the needle, capping the sample, gauze against the puncture point, tape on his warm skin. She muttered the first thing that came to mind. "The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

"Yeats?" He sounded genuinely surprised. "'The Second Coming', right? I didn't know you were a big poetry fan."

"I'm not." She shrugged, suddenly embarrassed. "It's just a quote I used to see a lot. Sort of stuck with me."

"Where did you see it?" He was rolling down his thermal sleeve.

"Oh, the office of this guy I didn't like. I'm surprised you know that poem." She breezed purposely over the details but from the way he was watching her, she suspected he knew what she was doing. He had probably invented the evasion tactic. But he didn't push her on it. Instead, he took his time carefully pulling the sleeve down, lingering on adjusting the cuff.

"Actually," he waited until she was seated in front of him before speaking again. "I always thought the next two lines were the best ones." He spoke easily. "Surely some revelation is at hand; surely the Second Coming is at hand."

"Really? Why those lines when....?" She trailed off, unsure of how to finish the sentence.

"When I'm not a religious person?" He finished for her. "You're right, I'm not. But I think they mean something else besides just waiting for God or a Savior. They're all about hope. Hope for something to change the chaos, hope for a force to right the wrongs. Haven't you ever felt hope for something like that?"

"I hope to find that ability within myself to change." She countered. "Not some invisible outside force."

"How's that working out for you?" He asked with a smirk.

His tone was sarcastic and it squeezed a little at her heart that he was able to cut through her philosophy so effortlessly. The words came before she could think them. "Not always great. Some days are better than others."

He nodded. "I take it you don't trust in too many other people."

"Do you?" She sounded defensive but it grated that he had the ability to make her question herself.

"There's a few." He looked out the window where muted sunlight was pouring into the room. "My brother, our friend Veronica..." He turned back to her, his expression thoughtful. "...you. I trust you."

Sara felt a small, warm burst in her chest at his simple statement. It shimmered in her lungs for a second before trickling through her limbs and settling in her stomach. She tried to smother it but she couldn't help a soft smile. "Thank you for saying that."

He didn't respond. He just sat there, his hand achingly close to hers, intently watching her as if he was looking through her with a contemplative expression on his face and Sara suddenly felt privy to a piece of Michael he hadn't meant to reveal. It occurred to her that maybe he was sharing with her through a pensive look the man who didn't belong behind bars. As if the prison-issued work clothes and cement walls had faded and they were sitting in another time and place; maybe a secluded café where analyzing poetry would be as natural as holding hands and intimate looks.

But then he looked down at how closely they were sitting and the moment was broken, the air suddenly thick with an awkward silence. The warm glow in her chest cooled and Sara felt a little more lost because of it. She cleared her throat and pushed away from the exam table, turning away from him as she did. She could feel his eyes on her but she didn't want to turn around to meet his gaze. She knew if she did, she'd be inclined to push at the fine boundary separating them. The lines were already blurring the longer he stared at her.

"I think we're all wrapped up here." She was striving for casual but in her head, it sounded forced. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Right." He rose off the table in one even move, his face composed. But he hesitated at the door. "Thanks for the talk."

"You too." She echoed hollowly.

She watched as he crossed the waiting room, as the CO rose to meet him and guided him forcefully through the outer door. He looked over his shoulder at her quickly and the inevitable warm burst in her chest left her unsettled. Then he was gone and she stood staring at the empty room.

She didn't even realize she had been twisting her silver bracelet around her wrist. It had been a reflex when he looked at her with those penetrating eyes. She looked down at the silver against her skin, tracing the design instinctually with her finger. The bracelet had become an amulet for her the last three years, pulling her away more than once from a dangerous edge. But with Michael's charged stare lingering in her mind, why did she have the feeling she was about to fall off the edge again?

The End


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