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Author's Chapter Notes:
To understand some things mentioned in chapter 1, you may want to read my story 'Again and Again and Again' first.

However, it's not neccessary for the sake of the story.
Chapter 1 - One week

It was even hotter than the day before and the day before and the day before and he couldn't imagine it could get worse, but the news around Sona was often very precisely and cruelly accurate, it WAS going to get worse.

It was visitations time again, the only thing that kept him on his legs these days, the only thing he was willing to do except sitting somewhere in some dirty corner, his back against the wall, occasionally dozing off but never really falling asleep, his hand clutching the golden ring securely hanging on a piece of string he found somewhere in the yard, secretly hidden under his long sleeved shirt.

It's been 10 days since he walked in here and unfortunately, it didn't get better by more time he spent here. He didn't deny it, he was at the end of his strength, never really sleeping, eating, always on watch. But if was only that, he could survive. What killed him most was the little water each prisoner was getting, not a drop more. He wasn't used to such a hot weather. Hell, he was from Chicago for crying out loud! And could swear, though it was not physically possible, he was sweating more than he actually drunk. Not to mention the fact that when there was no water for drinking, there definitely wasn't ANY water for keeping oneself clean. And the thought how disgustingly smelly he had to be right now didn't keep him exactly cheery as well. He was starting to appreciate the distance the fence was creating between his visitors and himself. He sighed deeply.

The only things that ware keeping him over water - ironically, he would die for a swim - was firstly the fact his brother and nephew were safe and free. And then there was Sara. The person he got up in the morning for and the person who was last on his mind before he went to sleep. If he could call the light doze a sleep anyway. 8 days ago, she walked through that gate and gave - Borrowed! He corrected himself immediately and it brought a smile to his lips - him her ring as a promise of a life they hopefully would have together one day. Michael sighed again. Right now, that life seemed unreachably far away.

There were no news as to what would happen to him next, no new evidence, no nothing. And it all seemed so easy at first. They had a body. They had the gun. They had evidence they were followed by a secret organization. But all of a sudden, everything got complicated. There was suddenly no agent Kim, nor an American citizen named William Kim, as well as it suddenly was very difficult to get the papers from US to Panama, as well as there was a problem with the Panamian Government 'believing' such a wicked story, as well it was all of a sudden in the explicit interest of the US administration to proceed cautiously to maintain good international relations with this country, a country it didn't even have an extradition treaty signed with! They were running in circles and nothing was ok and nothing was moving and it drove him crazy. He wouldn't mind, or at least NOT as much, when he was alone in this. But seeing the disappointed faces of his brother and Sara every day was more disturbing than if an uninterested Panamian lawyer would update him once a month. God Sara...He reached the fence now and while waiting, he pressed his forehead against it, closing his eyes.

Sara has been visiting everyday. Ever since the first time, the time she gave-borrowed-him her ring, she's been there, talking, comforting, caring. But no matter how much it meant for him to see and hear her every day, it got harder and harder every time to watch her walk away without as much as a hug, as much as a kiss. Since the first day, they haven't had a chance to sneak a kiss, not merely a caress, through the fence. Partly because of Lincoln's presence, partly because of the bloody guards who always paid too much attention. And Michael grew more and more frustrated with every day that passed in this damned uncertainty.

Now that they were all free, well, all except him that is, and they were relatively safe, the thought of a what-could-be life invaded more and more often his thoughts, every day with a stronger urgency. And it was the uncertainty of if he would one day actually HAVE this life that drove him crazy.

That one perfect moment, that moment on the boat, where there was nothing but them, free and happy and careless...that was a glimpse of the life he could have and as quickly and unexpectedly as it came, the quicker got it snapped from him away again.

No no NO! He was doing the wrong thing, THINKING the wrong thing. He was sinking into depression, he knew, but he also knew he couldn't afford that right now. If he only hadn't been so tired.

"And there is optimism, hope, faith."

God, he was counting every minute of every day until visitation only to see her face and hear her voice for a couple of minutes again.

He squinted into the sun expecting to see the familiar silhouettes of two people only to see just one approach. Judging from the masculine tall form, it had to be Lincoln. And he was alone. Something clenched in Michael's chest and suddenly, Lincoln's figure couldn't be approaching quickly enough.

Michael's eyes scanned the surroundings once more and the second Lincoln came into earshot, he shot his question.

"What's wrong? Where's Sara?"

"Firstly, Hi! Secondly, she is fine. She is sitting in the car waiting." There was a bit annoyed and offended edge to Lincoln's voice but Michael didn't care.

"Why? Waiting for what?"

"Mike..." Lincoln sighed in frustration, taking off his sunglasses.

"Why Lincoln?" He asked suspiciously and there was a light tremble in his voice.

"Well, it was her idea, so stop scowling me. She wants to do a kinda 'separate' visitations today, ok? Apparently, my presence during the visitation isn't exactly her idea of private chat with you." Answered Lincoln a bit more irritated. The answer however, seemed to set Michael at peace. He sighed and relaxed.

"Ok.I am sorry. I know I overreacted. It's just...this place, it gets to you." Michael added quietly.

"I know bro. I am sorry." Lincoln answered in frustration. "Everyday I am leaving you here, I worry not to find you at the other side of the fence tomorrow."

"I am alright." Michael interrupted abruptly.

"Yeah. She keeps saying that too." Lincoln raised his eyes to meet his brothers.

"How is she?" Asked Michael quietly.

Lincoln felt a pang of anger towards his brother, it was all the same with him. Everyday Lincoln came here to visit him, but he was nothing but air to his little brother, he had always eyes only for Sara. It's not like he would mind that much, he was really happy for his brother, it was just that sometimes, it got really annoying. He was there too, after all.

He left his mind wander to into the past. Before, just after their mother's death, when there were just the two of them. And with a pang of jealousy, Lincoln remembered also the times much later, when there still was no Sara Tancredi and it was only him who had his brother's full attention. Then again, who was he to decide who Michael chose to have in his life? By the way, it was only fair. He had a son, he had LJ. And after everything Michael had done for him, it was only fair Michael found somebody. Especially when this somebody was so special like Sara, even Lincoln with his stupid jealousy could see that.

He focused his gaze again on Michael's face and saw a look of uneasiness on his face, damn, he must have noticed.

"Linc, I didn't mean to..." He started with a anxiously choked voice but Lincoln brushed him off with a wave of hand and a cheeky smile.

"Don't beat yourself up Mike, I understand. She is a woman. Trust me, I 'understand'."

They both stared at each other for a moment and then cracked a broad smile. It felt good, it felt like old times.

"You know, it was a good idea. Just the two of us." Michael offered.

"Yeah sure. Just that you can't wait to have me outta here to have a private moment with you girl, huh?" Lincoln winked, offering Michael a toothy smile.

"Hardly private and hardly a moment." Noted Michael bitterly, rubbing his palms absentmindedly.

"But better than nothing, is it not?" Offered Lincoln and Michael smiled half-heartedly.

"Definitely." There was a moment of silence, then Lincoln couldn't hold his enthusiasm any longer.

"One week." He said loudly.

"One week what?" Asked Michael in puzzlement.

"You are outta here. In ONE week." Lincoln explained with a broad smile.