Burrows was struggling with his anger, Alex could see that. “Your family? You were hunting us because of your dirty secret and all of a sudden it’s your family?” he spat.
“I... I tried to get out, but then my boy got in a hit and run and ended up at the hospital. A company agent threatened me outside. What do you think that means?” Alex didn’t have to explain and yet he did feel the need to do so.
“You’re a killer,” Burrows still tried his jaw clenching. He clearly didn’t want to believe Alex was anything more than a despicable person.
“If you hate me so much, why ask me for my help? Do you really think it matters?” Alex asked.
Burrows balled his fists and then unclenched them again. “I want to do… my son is in danger and Michael… I have to do something more than just obey this Susan bitch. I would do anything.” Burrows put broken sentences together, his distress evident in the tension in his shoulders and face. He turned his back to Alex, a hand dragging across his head and ending on his neck. “For the record, I still hate your guts, but Michael and I aren’t that stupid that we can’t see...” Burrows added, implying something that he didn’t want to say.
Alex went over his options. Saying no would probably get him killed or at least in a world full of pain. Saying yes would spell the same for Cameron and Pam. There had to be a third possibility he had missed and yet his fevered brain couldn’t see it. “As I said, my family-“
Burrows leaned forward, hands against the wall and his head bowed, interrupting him with a sigh. “Where do they live?”
Alex didn’t want to answer when another bout of fear came creeping in. Would Burrows do anything to them just out of revenge? Rational thought waged war on his baser instincts until Burrows repeated the question and added, “I have some friends; maybe they can help.”
Alex took a deep breath and continued to watch Burrows’ back. The man stood as motionless as an Ancient Roman statue, muscles rippling like a lake. “What can these *friends* do? Can’t they help with your son?”
Burrows finally turned; his face a blank mask. “They could give your family a safe house. Nobody would ever expect me to be involved in their… safekeeping. I already tried to get their help here; they don’t operate outside the US. It’s too high profile, too much of a risk.”
Alex closed his eyes. Take a gamble and trust the lives of Cameron and Pam to this man? He claimed he was innocent and maybe the company was involved, but what guarantee did he have his boy wouldn’t be killed just like that?
“I’m not going to use them against you. I told you before, I didn’t kill Steadman and I sure as hell don’t do kidnappings.”
Alex snorted and looked into Burrows’ eyes. “And what do you call this?”
Burrows leaned forward and growled, “retribution. You murdered my father, hunted us down.”
This time it was Alex who interrupted him. “It was my *job* to hunt escaped convicts. It was what I was, and am, good at. The law, Burrows. You can’t hold that against me.”
Burrows lay one hand on Alex’s right shoulder. It felt intimidating and he was sure it was meant that way. “You didn’t have to kill anyone while enforcing your *law* and I told you not to say… I am trying to give you a chance to make up for all the shit you’ve caused.” Burrows paused and brought his mouth close to Alex’s ear. “Now I would love to leave you here and never come back. You’d slowly die alone. What do you think would get you first? Withdrawal? Hunger and thirst? Or the pain, cramps and lack of circulation from being tied up?” The whisper sounded even more intimidating than Burrows could have managed swinging his fists.
Alex wanted to fight back, let his eyes pierce Burrows’, but his feelings told an entirely different story. Burrows could do just that, leave him here, and it frightened him to the core.
“Get my family to a safe place and I’ll… atone.” Alex spoke deliberately, making every word count. He hoped it was enough even though he hated to show weakness like this.
Burrows stared at him for a few more seconds then let go. He pulled a piece of paper and a pen from his pocket and put it on the table beside Alex. “Write down the address and then put your hands behind the chair.”
Alex did what was asked and wrote the address with a shaky hand. As he obeyed, he tried to quell any emotion as well. When Alex felt the rope going around his wrists again it hurt even through his bandages. He noticed that they weren’t at tight as before, but it still made him anxious. A tremor wracked his body.
“Take it easy will you?” Burrows said, raising his bulk to full height behind him and taking the address. “I’ll be back soon.”
Alex swallowed, deciding if that was good or bad, and looked up at Burrows’ back as he moved towards the door. “If we’re going to work together, you will have to trust me at least a bit,” he said softly.
Burrows stopped; he stood where he was and didn’t move at all until he said in a tone of voice that betrayed his annoyance, “you’ll have to earn it, Mahone, and that will be very, very hard.”
The door closed behind him and Alex was, once more, left alone.
Alex was dreaming, or at least he hoped he was. It was strange. Somehow he realized where he was, but the table in front of him wasn’t empty. It was filled with heads. Apolskis, Patoshik, Burrows senior and even Abruzzi all sneered at him. The blond company agent was in the back, but Alex didn’t care about him. He had crossed a line; the other men hadn’t. Not really, not to him personally.
Suddenly all of the heads changed form. Apolskis morphed into Pam, Patoshik into Cameron and strangely enough, Burrows senior morphed into his son’s face. He had never killed Lincoln Burrows. The ropes around his wrists attested to that.
“Why can’t you acknowledge what you did,” Burrows’ head said. Alex blinked, tried to make them go away but they didn’t.
“I am! Don’t you think those pills attest to that?” He hissed at the heads on the table.
The door opened, the heads disappeared and he stared at Burrows, head attached to his body this time.
“Who were you talking to?” Burrows asked as if it was normal to hear a captive man talking in an empty cabin.
“Nobody,” Alex snapped.
Burrows smiled. “Pills are getting to you, aren’t they?”
Alex was annoyed, he had every reason to be so he answered gruffly, “if I had the proper amount of what I usually take they wouldn’t get to me this way at all.”
Burrows walked to the table, put a bag on it and sat down on his chair. “I told you before, Mahone, I’m not your dealer. You should be happy I got you a anything at all. Besides, you didn’t tell me how much you’re used to.”
Alex ground his teeth and refused to talk. Burrows continued to look at him, probably to see if he would break, but he didn’t. That felt like one little victory.
“I’ve called somebody who might be able to help. She isn’t sure yet, she doesn’t want to do much to jeopardize what they’re doing.” Burrows spoke matter of factly, but there was a hint of anxiety in his voice. Alex wondered why. As if the man would care what happened to Pam and Cameron. It was probably selfish. Burrows wanted it to work so he could use Alex.
“So what do we do now?” Alex asked, hoarse again. He’d only had one bottle of water in what seemed like ages, after all.
“Now we wait and I’ll fill you in.” Burrows seemed confident, almost arrogant. As if Alex would agree to anything. Even though the man was probably right, Alex still resented it. The entire situation wasn’t something he’d chosen, but then again, it was best if he quickly accepted everything as it was.
“I am not really in the mood, Burrows,” he spoke before thinking again. “As you can see I am not that comfortable. Even prisoners at Fox River have a better time in solitary.”
Burrows quirked his lip, looking slightly annoyed himself now. “You’re right; I’ll cut you lose. Just remember that I’ll rip you apart if you try anything.”
Alex believed him. The simmering rage, the resentment was still present inside of Burrows. The only difference with the beginning of this wonderful relationship was Burrow’s realization, or whatever you might call it, that he didn’t want to be like that; a violent man, ready to kill and maim.
Burrows stood, cut the ropes around Alex’s wrists and took the salve out of the first aid kit that was still present. “Here, use it if you need it.” He put it on the table with his own-bandaged hand and moved back to his side of the room.
Alex stared at him, trying to put his point across.
Burrows got it. “Yeah, I’ve got food. You want wine or beer with that, sir?” Sarcasm was dripping.
Alex snorted. “I need food and normal amounts of water if you want more out of me than blood and cracked bones.”
Burrows startled at that. “You’ve got cracked bones?”
It was almost funny, but strangely enough Alex couldn’t find the laughter inside. “No, not yet but if you’re planning to use me as your personal gym again…” He slowly removed the bandages on his arms with Burrows’ eyes following his every move.
“You deserved everything you got, Mahone.”
Alex nodded as he tried to ignore the pain he felt. “Yes, maybe I did or still do, but we’ve had this conversation before. You want me to atone, to help you. I told you I will only help if my family doesn’t pay the price.”
Burrows leaned forward, arms resting on his knees. Alex took the salve and slowly smeared it over his wounds. “It’s that simple to you? You could run the moment you know they’re safe, the moment I give you a little room to move.”
Alex continued with the salve, pretending not to look at his adversary, but taking glances from the corner of his eye anyway. “So far I haven’t gotten much room and I doubt you will give me that much. You’ve just told me to earn atonement and trust. You also know the people who are supposed to protect my son and... ex-wife. What makes you think you could ever be a victim in this arrangement?”
That brought anger back to the other man’s eyes. “Victim? You want to talk about being a victim?!”
Alex interrupted him, putting the salve besides him, focusing solely on Burrows now. “Yes. I may not be the poster child for best behavior or trust, but you hold all the cards here. You’ve said it before, I have nowhere to go. I’m as stuck as Michael is and he’s in Sona as you can probably recall. I know you view me as the devil incarnate or at least some sort of demon, but I can assure you there isn’t much I can do now.” Alex stopped talking. Not really happy with what he had said and yet oddly relieved that he had said it.
Burrows didn’t answer, but continued to stare. Alex left his arms bare out in the open, for Burrows to see. He couldn’t put the gauze back anyway. When he moved his hands towards his face, ready to take care of those problems, Burrows lowered his gaze and said, “You’re a killer, you’ve crossed a line. You may view me as a criminal, but even amongst smalltime crooks there are certain lines you don’t cross.” He wasn’t finished talking; Alex felt that there was more to come, so he waited. Burrows voice was softer now. “I didn’t kill Steadman. He killed himself quite recently, but… there was a dead man in the car in that garage. It wasn’t Steadman. I had a gun and I had people who tried to make me do it.” Burrows swallowed; it was quite clear he was uncomfortable, but he still continued to talk. “I know what it’s like when you’re forced to do something you don’t want to do just to protect your family. We’re not the same, Mahone, but the things that are happening might turn me into you and I am going to try damn hard not to let that happen.”
Alex was stunned. He didn’t really know what to say, but he was saved from saying anything when Burrows spoke.
“You’re here, you’re going to make sure neither Michael nor me has to do anything close to that… shit; ever. You’ve already done it, we haven’t. You protect us the way you know how, you help us and maybe, maybe…”
That was it and Burrows didn’t talk anymore. After what felt like ages, Burrows stood, took the salve and smeared it on Alex’s face. Then, he took the gauze and put fresh bandages on his arms. His chest and neck got the same treatment.
When it was done, Burrows went to pick up his bag and pulled out two more sandwiches, a bottle of water and a small white pill. He put all of it next to Alex on the table. Then he left the shack, leaving Alex unbound. He didn’t drive away, but still, he gave Alex room.
Alex didn’t touch his food, but took the pill and water first, his mind on Burrows. It was then that he realized what had bugged him before. It wasn’t just Burrows who hated him. He hated himself and for one reason only; Burrows thought he might be able to kill in cold blood. He implied that would have pulled the trigger on Steadman, or whoever it was, if he hadn’t been setup.
Alex didn’t really believe the man was capable of killing in cold blood. Even the beating of the past few days had proven that. Nonetheless, it seemed that Burrows was afraid he could be like Alex. Suddenly a lot more made sense to him. In none too subtle words he was asked to be an enforcer if it was needed. He wasn’t just wanted for his mind.
He tried to relax just a little as he figured out Burrows’ character and motives while he was eating one of his sandwiches. He was not going to go from being the Company’s hit man to Burrows’, but he could come up with a way where nobody needed to be what they hated most.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Beta by Foxy.