Title: A Divided Duty
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Warnings: none
Category: Drama, Crossover
Keywords: The Pretender/Prison Break
Spoilers: For The Pretender, "Bloodlines"; for Prison Break, "The Key".
Summary: If Michael Scofield were a Pretender, what backstory would there be?
Disclaimer: The Pretender property of Mitchell/Van Sickle Productions, NBC Studios, and 20th Century Fox. Prison Break property of Original Film, Adelstein/Parouse Productions and 20th Century Fox. I own the plot.
Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
Notes: This is for Medie, who got me thinking. Resources for canonicity were found at The Centre and Michael Scofield - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. There seems to be a debate about how old Michael actually is. In this case I went with onscreen data.

"I do perceive here a divided duty."
--Desdemona, Othello, Act I, Scene 3 by William Shakespeare

August 1978

Charles shakes his head, dismayed. "You don't know what trouble you're in."

"They provide well for my family."

"So, they've made you promises, have they?"

Burrows stares at him, thrown by the cynicism in his friend's voice.

"Yes. I fully expect them to keep--"

"No, they won't. Burrows, listen to me--they'll demand more from you than you'll expect. They'll take your soul and you'll have to pay dearly to get it back."

"Listen, I owe you for vouching for us at NuGenesis, but whatever past issues you have with the Company, I don't think they would ever-- "

Charles laughs, a short sound that holds nothing of humor.

"It's not them you work for, it's the Centre, and I know what I'm talking about, because I'm still paying for my soul."

January 1979

"Don't hang up. Please."

She shakes her head, tears already starting in her eyes.

"I don't know what makes you think you don't deserve it," she hisses into the phone. There's a short pause and she knows what she said has struck home and unexpectedly, that makes the tears flow faster.

"I know," he says. "I left you and you have the right to never speak to me again, but I have to tell you something. It's important. It's about why I left. About Michael."

At the sound of her youngest son's name, she holds still and her mouth sets in a thin line.

"What about Michael?"

"I know you gave him your last name. That's good."

"'That's good.' That's all you have to say. After all we went through to get pregnant again and then just throwing it away." Her voice chokes on the last words, fading into a ragged whisper.

She almost hangs up on him, but stops when she hears him say, his voice tight, with anger or tears; she can't tell, "I left because I had no choice--if I hadn't, you and Michael and Lincoln--you would have been taken from me. I can't tell you everything I wish I could, because that would put you in even more danger than you are."

"Danger? What are you talking about?"

"There are men after me. If they can't get me they will find you. I need you to take our sons and get out of the state--don't leave a forwarding address. There will be an envelope in the mail tomorrow for you--it will have all the money you need to go. Please trust me and do this, if not for my sake, for our sons' sake."

She stares at the mouthpiece, unable to believe what he's telling her.

"Why?" she finally asks.

"I made a mistake, sweetie. I don't want you or my sons paying for it. Just trust me. I still love you. Please do this and you'll never have to hear from me again."

She finds herself nodding before she comes to a conscious decision.

October 1980

Charles taps Emily's shoulder and says, "Go. Find some books."

Emily smiles at him and starts browsing the junior section of the library's children's department. Charles sits down to wait for his daughter and observe the object of this excursion.

This child of Burrows--he made a promise to Catherine and he's not going to break it. There's every chance he's wrong, that NuGenesis did not meddle with Michael, and every chance they did. He intends to find out. It's not his intention to interfere; he just has to know.

Michael's mother has a routine Charles has spent over a month tracking. Every two weeks she brings her sons to the library. Michael plays with the toys and Lincoln browses for books. Michael's mother keeps one eye on Michael and one on the magazine she glances through.

Michael is a small child, smaller than most, with large long-lashed blue eyes that are almost too beautiful, that make him look a perfect example of a Raphael cherub.

As inconspicuously as possible, Charles watches him, fascinated by the intent look the two-year-old has. Michael is just sitting there, examining the pieces of a puzzle on the kid-sized table. His mother is still listlessly turning the pages of her magazine. She doesn't notice when Michael picks up a puzzle piece--not one of the simply shaped pieces geared to his age, but a jigsaw cut piece of a fifty-count puzzle (Charles knows this because he placed it there)--and starts to put it together. His mother glances up, sees he's occupied and goes back to reading. Michael seems enthralled by the puzzle, steadily putting it together and in a matter of a few minutes has finished it.

Charles stands.

It's a simple test, but an efficient one. He's satisfied the Centre has no knowledge of Michael Scofield. Time will tell if that remains the case.


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