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Story Notes:
Its post Sona,post kidnapping and will probably bare no relation to what happens in S4 but it's how I see it. As usual its going to be long because why write 10,000 words when you can write 110,000!
Sara knew Gorilla was agitated, she couldn't see anything, the crude blindfold doing its job but she could hear him pacing the area in front of her. His heavy boots were scuffing on the dusty floor; the slight echo telling her there was nothing else in this room apart from her, LJ and their guard. She could sense LJ was just to her left, probably gagged and blindfolded as she was, and she once more cursed her impotency in being unable to bring all this misery to an end. LJ was a kid and should be with his family, not tied up and facing …what? She avoided contemplating her fears any further. He should be with his father and…Uncle.

Damn she’d been trying so hard not to think about him, yet her mind was now eagerly opening up all the cabinets spilling out the contents of her Michael memories and she would have to fight to stuff them all back in again, it hurt too much not to. Because even if by some miracle she and LJ survived. She knew Michael’s desperate pleas to the police had put him in a place of such danger that surviving the place they referred to as Sona or the escape he was being forced into seemed impossible even for him. She had worked out from half overheard conversations and phone calls that Sona was something to be feared even by these men and her heart broke at the thought of Michael being there.

She dropped her shoulders in an attempt to lessen the pressure on her tied hands and wondered how long they would be held in this place. They had been here for most of the day since their hurried and unplanned exit from the rooms overlooking the statue of Saint Rita. Lincoln had been so close, but it had all come to nought and the brief sparkles of hope she had allowed herself had died as the van had roared out of the town square.

She coughed as she couldn’t avoid breathing in through her nose the dust raised by Gorilla’s footsteps and she flinched when he stormed over to her and slight flecks of spit landed on her face as he shouted.

“No noise!” She trembled, Gorilla was one of five men who had been guarding them since the start of this nightmare and although the nickname LJ had given him was true in some respects, he was indeed built like a gorilla with a thick neck, rounded shoulders and arms that seemed to be too long for his body, he had been the most human of the five. Sara was sure she had seen doubt on his face several times during the kidnapping and imprisonment, some hint of resentment at some of the woman’s more brutal orders.

She wondered if his nervousness was because of Lincoln’s failed rescue attempt or the fact that he was alone with them. Only two of the company men had made it to the white van, Gorilla who had jumped in behind the wheel and Stinky, whose nickname was unfortunately blindingly obvious. After throwing her and LJ in the back, he had squatted down on the filthy metal floor and held a shaky gun on them whilst the van hurtled through the rough jungle tracks.

Stinky was now outside, preferring not to have the difficult conversation with his boss, the woman Sara had only heard a couple of times and never seen, in front of them. No doubt he was passing on the news of the almost escape and getting their next orders, this could only be a temporary refuge. They needed to regroup, reform, and find another place to keep them. Gorilla’s pacing stopped as the door creaked open and Sara was conscious of some light creeping in around the edges of the blindfold and then heard a whispered conversation between the two. Leaning forward in her chair straining to make out the words she caught a murmured “No, she can’t be serious…” followed by more urgent whispers.

Then she felt his large hands on her upper arm, dragging her up from the chair and pulling her quite forcibly towards the light source...the door. She tried to hold back, aware that LJ was still in the room and apparently not being moved. She heard a muffled noise as he tried to speak through his gag.

Gorilla pulled on her arm again and she was now outside, the noises of the jungle suddenly all around her.

She could hear the back doors of the van being opened, and felt herself being pushed in, her hands still tied behind her and she fell forward onto the van floor grimacing as the gritty surface scraped against her skin painfully. She lay there, unable to find the energy to raise herself to a sitting position because her mind was now full of the dark thoughts she had spent a week chasing away.

The kidnapping, the shock of finding LJ had also been a target and the dawning realisation that this was linked to Michael and whatever place he had found himself in had led her to thinking that this time there was no answer. There was no puzzle for him to solve, they were up against much more than a well designed prison and DOC guards. She had thought through option after option and could see nothing but failure for Michael and death for her and LJ. From the moment she had been grabbed off the street and pushed into the van, this van, after leaving the police station she knew it would end like this. She could feel the van pick its way down yet another track, the deep ruts in the road requiring Gorilla to drive slower and slower and she wondered where he was going. Deeper into the jungle; perhaps where she could be shot and left to lie where she fell, never to be found? Or some place they took all their victims, a company cemetery, neatly laid out mounds of earth hiding their previous victims? A wry smile formed on her lips, and she was amazed that she had managed to find a slither of humour at such a time.

She thought of LJ, now alone, and her smile disappeared, she feared he would share her fate, it would just be a matter of time and although she knew she was not ready for her life to end, she had unlike LJ at least had a stab at life, had a chance to make mistakes, and find love, and once again her thoughts sped back to Michael, reliving the thoughts and sensations of their last moments in another shack, moments that were too snatched and fearful for them both. She closed her eyes behind the blindfold and imagined his fingers once more ghosting across her cheek, and she felt tears creep into her eyes at the remembrance of his soft touch.

There were several jolts and then the van lurched to a stop, She opened her eyes again, and once more light seeped into her world despite the blindfold as the doors were opened .

She felt the van dip slightly as Gorilla stepped up into the back and then his hand on her once more, but this time he was more patient as she staggered to her feet and he helped her to the edge and down onto the ground. They were still on a track, she could feel the baked dirt under her bare feet. She had lost one of her shoes through the window of their previous hideout and the other had slipped off in the rush down the steps to the van.

She flexed her shoulders, her hands had now been tied for several hours and her whole upper body was beginning to ache now. She felt hands behind her, large knuckles grazing against her hair and then she could see, blinking in the afternoon sun. Gorilla was standing in front of her, his gun tucked into his waistband, his gaze averted as he now worked on her gag. A few seconds later she was free of that too. Looking around she realised they were just a few hundred yards away from a junction of the track with a larger paved road, the occasional truck and car could be seen sweeping down it ahead of them as they stared at each other silently.

“So this is where it ends?” she asked, sounding much braver than she felt.

He didn’t answer at first, his thoughts were waging some kind of internal battle and he was unable to look at her.

“Yes...and no.” he answered, a mild mid western accent betraying his American roots and causing Sara to wonder yet again what career advice he had followed to end up in a jungle clearing about to end the life of another person.

“See the river?” and he nodded across the track to a patch of dark grey behind the trees she hadn’t noticed before. It was obviously deep and fast flowing and now she looked again there was something menacing about the swirling waters

Gorilla had started talking again.

“I’m supposed to kill you now Sara, they want me to dispose of you in that and bring back something to let the brothers know we don’t mess around, and that the attempt to free you was a very bad mistake. I have to bring back a part of you that would be recognised.” Sara's eyes dropped to the ground, knowing one’s fate was surprisingly liberating.

“So just do it then.” she sighed, already letting go, embracing the freedom of no longer needing to fight.

He walked towards her
“Turn around Sara.” and she smiled, the man was a huge brute but apparently he did not want to look into her eyes at the moment he killed her.

She turned, exhaling consciously, realising she possibly had one, two more breaths left....and seeking a calmness that would allow her to defeat the fear within her.

She jumped a little when she felt his hands on her wrists, fumbling with the ties and then her hands were free and she thought how much better that felt and then smiled at how silly it was to be pleased over such an inconsequential thing, and breathed in one more time....one last time perhaps? She pushed her hands into her pockets, feeling for the paper rose, his rose. But even as her fingers pushed down into the deepest part of the pocket she remembered she had shown it to LJ the day before, and now it was gone……She thought of Michael, welcoming his memories now, his soft smile, his velvet toned voice, his fingers on her arm, his lips on hers. There was no need to fear the heartache they caused; there would be no more time for regrets.

She held her breath, screwing up her eyes, clenching her fists inside her pockets, preparing herself for the shot. But it never came, just silence and after a few seconds she turned slowly around. Gorilla was standing several yards away, gun still clasped feebly in his right hand that was now hanging down by his side.

“I can’t do this….I won’t do this.” and he tucked the gun back in his waistband. He sighed, his hands now coming to rest on his hips and he stared at her, obviously running several options thought his mind.

“You can’t come back; you can’t even contact anyone, not until after the final exchange you hear?” She looked up unable to believe what she was hearing…he was letting her go?

“Head towards Costa Rica, keep away from Panama city, three weeks should be enough time for your boyfriend to get him out and for the exchange with LJ to happen. So hide out, if you try and come back. If you make noises or break the news to anyone they will find out.”

“They?” she asked breathlessly, trying to understand and meanwhile not daring to believe she was going to survive, this was not where she would die, this place, this time.

“The big guys at the top, the ones who are running this show, running everything, She’s shit scared of them, and that’s why she needs us to be shit scared of her ....but I’m not... I know she will come up with something. I’ll tell her you’re in the river. That you tried to escape and I shot you and you fell in and drowned but that it meant I couldn’t get your head.”

“My head?” Gasped Sara

“Yeah that was what we were gonna send to Lincoln, so now we’ll have to find another way, she’ll sort this, cover this up…” and he looked off behind Sara once more lost in his thoughts.

“Won’t she kill you? “ Sara asked amazed at how the situation had now switched around so much that she was now concerned about him, about this man who would have murdered her,

He shrugged,

“I doubt it, she needs me, and she knows I watch her back more than the others. She’ll figure something out and they will never know what happened here today. But…” and he paused again, weighing his words carefully. “This only works if you keep hidden, travel as far away from here as you can, disappear for about three weeks…”

She nodded, rubbing her hands more with nerves than a need to massage the ache from them. He took her by the arm again and started walking her down the track. They reached the paved road and he scrambled about in his pocket pulling out a fifty dollar bill.

“Costa Rica and don’t stop, don’t look back and don’t call anyone, not if you want LJ to survive this, and your boy friend to make it.....”

A small battered truck trundled over the crest of the hill and Gorilla raised his thumb, smiling at the young couple in the front. The truck came to a halt and he pulled open the passenger door to talk to the man who was driving.

My girlfriend needs to get to Capira our van has broken down.” and he nodded back down the track. “Could you drop her off there?”

They nodded, but didn’t respond in English and he repeated his words in Spanish this time. The man nodded this time with a huge grin and before Sara knew what was happening she had been pushed in and the door closed behind her. Her hands still clutching the fifty dollar note. She didn’t look around, she didn’t see Gorilla trudge back down the track. Sara stared ahead instead trying to cope with the huge mix of emotions; she was free, and safe. But LJ, Michael, they were still trapped in this nightmare.

They travelled along the highway in silence, their lack of English and her rudimentary Spanish meant the conversation had died out hours before. Sara stared out at the landscape of acres of deep lush greens and fiery red earth as the truck cruised down the road. They dropped her off as promised in the town square of Capira and after enquiring with several people, who could not hide their curiosity about a barefoot American woman she finally tracked down where the buses travelled from. She checked a faded map, glued to the wall of the bus office, tracking her finger along the blue road winding its way through the foothills before turning at Santiago and heading towards Costa Rica. She didn’t want to leave Panama, she was held here by some unknown force, needing to remain in the same country as Michael. But she knew Gorilla had been right; staying in the City was too dangerous. She checked the map once more and touched the small worn hole marking Panama’s second city. Santiago, far away to be safe but still close enough to return….. and then handed over her note to the cashier in return for a bus ticket.

She stepped back out but remained on the shaded deck area that hugged the bus offices and it was then she noticed the phone box. She found herself drawn towards it, she was free, she needed Michael to know that but....she had no way of contacting him without going through others. She couldn’t risk making contact with Lincoln, in fact she had no way of making contact. There had been no time at the boat to swap mobile numbers. Who else could she call? She had no numbers on her, she couldn’t remember Cooper Greens direct line and she was still worried that the company could have people working on the inside at his and Bruce’s office. She didn’t know where Lincoln was, the one person she could trust with the knowledge of her freedom. She sighed. This was hopeless...

There was a revving of engines and she turned and the hooter on the bus sounded as it rounded the corner and drew up in front of the office. It already seemed full; actually overfull, with various bags, cases and large nondescript bundles strapped haphazardly on top of the bus. The windows were open, peoples arms and heads hanging out trying to capture some cooling breeze. She stared at the long queue of people who had every intention of boarding this bus and realised she was one of them. She pushed her way onto the bus and managed to squeeze onto a seat next to a rather large lady and the bus pulled out into the hastening dusk and along the highway. She would think things through, there would be someone she could contact without putting LJ and Michael at risk, and she just needed to be careful. Perhaps the people who had worked with Michael’s father, the same people the woman who had looked after LJ worked for, surely they could help her? She sighed; she had no idea of how to contact them either….

The bus was speeding along, jolting dangerously on the cracked and broken up road and the movements caused Sara to grip the seat in front of her even tighter. They were climbing now; the road had narrowed as it clung to the hillside and wound its way higher among the sparse jungle and scrub. Sara had travelled like this in the past, when she had worked in India she had spent hours on buses like this and she gradually relaxed into the erratic movements and let her eyes slowly close.

Screams woke her and at the moment she opened her eyes she felt the bus swing madly across the road, brief images of another truck on the wrong side heading for them and then the bus was toppling at a crazy angle before finally relinquishing all contact with the road surface. She felt it hang in the air for a few incredibly slow seconds before everything turned upside down as the bus rolled, once…twice, coming to halt twenty feet down a shallow incline at a wall of trees. Sara was conscious of soft moans from the woman beside her and of screams further down the bus and a warm liquid sensation creeping across her neck. She was aware of nothing after that as her eyes closed despite her desperate attempts to keep them open and she suddenly was catapulted into a world of pain and darkness.


TBC?