It takes all of the energy I have remaining in my body to whisper my brother's name. The nightmare in my mind flashes before my eyes, sucking away the reserves of my will with each breath I take. If I never see my son again, my wife again, then the last memory I want is of my brother. His name conjures a calm in my head, a faint wash of relief flowing over my body. Maybe it's the cold chill in bones, contrasting the arid heat of Crete. Maybe it's the poison, coursing it's way through my veins and stabbing my heart. The irony; That I would go through so much, only to be frozen out of life by something called anti-freeze.
I take a calming breath, sucking in the warm air in the room, and in the distance I hear the creak of a floorboard and the click of a door. Another sigh, this time deeper, and I swear I am hallucinating. I can smell Sara, feel her warmth envelope around me in the darkness of near death. My loosely balled fist on my chest tighten and I hold her to me, gripping her with all I have as my eyes sting with tears. Behind my eyes I am happy. I'm free and with Sara's smile a serenity descends over me.
I see Mike. I haven't seen him in so long, and now he is grown, a full foot taller than last time I could have reached out and touched him. My breath hitches, the well of tears behind my eyelids threatening to burst their seams. A familiarity encases me, a hope and finality of the scene before me. When I die, I will finally be with them. Sara and Mike, my wife and my son, lost to me for so long and yet like they never went away each time I close my eyes. If this is it, I will gladly live in my daydream forever.
I am shaken from my reverie for just a second by a weight on the bed next to me. My body is heavy and numb, but I peel my eyes open slightly and see her. Sara.
Her words rip away my soul and the floodgates open. I cannot hold back my tears any longer. It must be the poison, finally reaching my brain and tricking my eyes into thinking that she is here with me, but then I feel the warmth of her hands on my body. She lays one hand to my shoulder tentatively and I realise how broken I have become. The other touches my face, and I come undone.
“I missed you...”
She's real. Sara is here. My Sara. I have been strong for so long and now, with the smallest of touches and the fewest of words, she breaks through the walls I have kept around me for so long. Emotions hurt, and I have spent so much time keeping them out that I am unable to speak. Only sob, my body racking with each word, and I never want to let her go again. I keep my eyes closed, petrified of the reality that if I open them, my Sara will be gone again. So many of my dreams have started and ended that way, my own mind the cruellest of captors. My hand finds hers against my face and I hold her there, never wanting to feel anything else again.
Finally I open my eyes. The room is silent, even though I see Lincoln and Whip are there too. That is when I know I am no longer dreaming. I cannot say anything to Sara. What do I say? How do I explain this? How can I? Everything I have done I did for family, but this isn't the time to justify myself. When Sara grabs my head, pressing her shaking lips to my temple, I sob more.
I fade out, but I can hear the muffled words of Lincoln and Sara. I feel clammy, my shirt damp against my skin, and I am unsure if it is because of fever or tears. The body reacts the same way to so many things. I feel a pinch and then a cool, freshness flowing into my arm. Fluids. Something so menial and yet, something that can save my life. When you are the most wanted man in the world, medical care is a luxury, and why waste good dollars on saving a nobody?
“I'm right here...I'm right here...”
Maybe it is the union of our blood, or the reposeful sense that has overcome me, but I am stuck with a pang of guilt. I owe Sara so much. I have put her through so much, and given her absolutely nothing but having to raise our son alone. She doesn't have to be here, but I know that she has flown half way across the world for the same reason I have always risked everything for her. Hope.
“He's not going to hurt Mike...”
I believe my words. I know Poseidon, or Jacob as I know him as now. The man who has been raising my son whilst simultaneously torturing my very being. He thinks he holds the power, but by marrying Sara and falling in love with a family that he stole, he has shown me the one thing we have in common. Our weakness is our love for family. I try to keep my words calm. Try to hide the anger behind them, but I suspect that my arm draped around Sara's neck may have flexed and tightened, giving away my rage.
“You know him better than I do...”
Sara's tiny, breathy laugh is laced with sarcasm and for that I am sorry. She is right. I know the man she thought loved her more than she does. I remember seeing this exact reaction from her before when we rendezvoused in Panama. Her own self loathing coming to the surface and helping her build her own walls back up. She'll act differently when she goes home, and I need her to try and pretend.
“I'll get to the states as soon as I can...I'll find you...”
I promise her and she believes me. I have given everything for this woman and I would do it all again. If I didn't believe my own words, I would never have said them. I am done with the lies. Done with the deceit. Sara is strong and now fuelled by the same hatred I am. I am not naïve enough to believe we can pick up where we left off; too much time has passed for that. A sadness falls over her face as she looks away and I know she is thinking about a time, maybe in her own daydreams, where we are all together and happy. Where we are safe.
We embrace but her words in my ears send a chill through my body. Motherhood hasn't changed her one bit. If anything, she is even more willing to display aggression for towards the ones who have wronged her family. Our helpless, damaged family is all we have, so to threaten it would be a mistake. Jacob's mistake is that he underestimated both of us.
That stabbing pain in my chest is back and I feel a chill descend between us as she walks away. I can't follow her and it eats at me. I cannot be the person to make her come back; I never have been. Pieces of my heart crumble in my chest and I wonder how you are expected to follow your hopes and dreams if the shards of your beating centre are scattered in all directions. And then, she turns around and follows her own volition back to me.
I shudder. Her lips on mine after so long render me blind and stupefied. I wonder if she is feeling the same thing but I can tell that she is. Her body leans into mine and the contact I have been so long denied freezes me to the spot. I have never been more determined to find my way, establish a plan and execute it with such ferocity. The hole in my heart that was to be closed the day I found my way home slowly begins to shrink, my heart beat pounding stronger and louder in my ears. Four years I have spent fabricating a scheme to return to her and now I know she wants it too.
“Please come back to us...”
And then, like the whisper of her words, she is gone again. This time she does not look back and all I can do is watch her go. After everything, the one thing that cannot be broken is our love. It is stronger than anything, more secure than any prison I have ever been in. With a heavy hand over my heart, I know I will get back to them and it does not matter what I have done, or how I have done it.
I am forgiven.