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20 February 2009 @ 09:00 pm
Prison Break - Illusions of Safety  
Title: Illusions of Safety
Author: clair_de_lune
Rating: PG-13
Category: Gen
Characters: Caroline Reynolds, Samantha Brinker, Paul Kellerman, Terrence Steadman
Summary: She had always liked car rides, especially nightly ones, no matter the circumstances.
Author's Notes: Written for pbfic_exchange2. jaybee65 wanted Caroline Reynolds, anything except fluff, a limousine with bulletproof windows, nighttime and a cell phone conversation. Many thanks to wrldpossibility for the beta.


It was at a meeting where she was scheduled to speak – some stuff about environmentalism and global warming because President Mills cared, but didn’t care enough to deliver the speech himself. Gun shots were heard. Something sounding like gun shots anyway, even though it was quickly proven that someone had misinterpreted something. She doesn’t remember if she ever knew what it actually was. Not that it matters. She’s pretty sure her Secret Service detail had been properly informed and that the culprits’ heads rolled.

Whatever. In a matter of seconds, her small frame was surrounded by a squad of men in black suits and stern faces, engulfed and dragged down the podium. The medium heels of her comfortable yet elegant and expensive shoes barely brushed the carpet of the hotel where the meeting was taking place while she was marched through the corridors and hallways and all but shoved into her car. Being grabbed and hauled like a bag of potatoes, the whole thing lacked of a certain dignity for sure, and Caroline liked and needed her dignity, but it was not as if anyone had actually seen her, shielded as she’d been behind her escort of agents.

One of the goons urgently slapped his fist twice on the roof of the limo to order the driver to pull away, and the car swiftly sped up with barely the hint of screeching tires. She was still leaning on her elbow, her forearm pressed into the cushion. She waited for the car to move a bit more smoothly before she sat up. She combed her hair with the tips of her fingers, tucking the strands behind her ears, straightened the collar of her jacket and breathed in deeply, her eyes closed. A bit flushed but composed and focused. She’d gone through worse; she would go through a lot worse.

It wasn’t until she looked up that Caroline noticed someone had been waiting for her on the soft leather seats. Kellerman was sitting next to her, his usually unreadable face slightly pale and moist with nervous perspiration. She was almost tempted to touch his hand and assure him that she was just fine. He was a hard and devoted little trooper and every now and then deserved a bit more attention than her everyday bodyguard. She was already reaching out for him, her hand sliding on the seat in the vacant space between them, and it was the presence of the woman in front of her that talked her out of it: Brinker met her gaze and helpfully offered a small bottle of mineral water with a steady hand. Cool and collected, a trademark smirk gracing her lips. Fake solicitude, fake consideration, but real concern about the most famous Company’s puppet. Sure enough, Ms Brinker would rather avoid going through the trouble of another vice-presidential confirmation.

Only then Caroline inwardly lost her calm, rage boiling up in her stomach and threatening to spill out in low and harsh words. She bit them back, took the bottle and swallowed everything with a gulp of fresh water. She wouldn’t snap, wouldn’t give Brinker this kind of satisfaction.

“You shouldn’t,” Brinker told her a first time when she slightly rolled down the tinted window. Just a few inches to let in a breath of cold air. She needed it to cool down because of Brinker sitting in front of her even more than because of the shooting – or not shooting for that matter. Outside, it was a cacophony of engines and flashing lights. The motorcade’s cars surrounding the limo lit up the night with blue and red flashes, the low wail of the lead car's siren covering any other sounds. With a concealed sigh, she pressed the button again to roll up the window, not because of Brinker but because of the noise and aggressive lights out there. The calm and silence came back, surreal, ensured by the reinforced metal of the limo’s bodywork and the thick glass of its windows. It would have been soothing if not for Brinker. It usually was for Caroline, which was precisely why the presence of the Company’s woman pissed her off beyond belief.

She was brought back to reality and the urgency of the situation by the insistent ringing of her personal cell phone, the sound weirdly loud in the quiet car. She slipped her hand in the pocket of her suit jacket and felt the warm plastic under her fingers.

“You shouldn’t,” Brinker told her a second time, and then added, her tone deliberate, “Madam Vice-President.”

Caroline didn’t have to take a look at the tiny screen to check who was calling. It was obvious for the three of them. Eight minutes since she had been shipped off the podium at the hotel, six and a half minutes since her motorcade had left in a hurry. It was news time in Montana. The incident had probably hit TV, radios and the internet a couple of minutes ago.

Holding Brinker’s eye, she flipped open her cell phone and said right away, “I’m okay.”

There were fifty seconds of “Are you sure?” and “What the hell happened?” and “Where was that fucking Kellerman and isn’t he supposed to take care of this kind of thing?” followed with about five minutes of ranting and whining about being a prisoner in his own house. The agents in charge of his protection had tried to dissuade him from calling, and then had assured him that Madam Vice-President wouldn’t answer because it would be a security threat. Truth be told, Caroline had to concede to them on that. Fighting hard not to squeeze her eyes shut and pinch the bridge of her nose before Brinker, she listened to passive aggressive complaints that made her wonder how she could love her brother that much – love him too much. Hell, sometimes she wondered how she could stand him.

Then there was a pause in the recriminations, a background noise, and she figured out that Terrence was watching television, probably seeing her – or not seeing her – as she’d been politely but firmly thrown into her car a few minutes ago.

“I’m sorry. It scared me,” he said. Neediness seeped through the sudden smoothness of his voice as he added, “I miss you.”

She pressed the phone harder against her ear and crossed her legs; the flimsy fabric of her stockings made her skin prickle and she shifted ever so slightly in her seat. Well. Shit. Brinker’s dark eyes stayed trained on her face, inquisitive and unapologetic. She wondered if the other woman knew, if she was hoping for a sign of weakness on her part or if she was merely being her usual obnoxious self.

“You know I miss you too,” she answered hopefully with just the right amount of warmth and casualness. “I’ll be there with you in a few weeks. We’ll talk.” There was a blank on the line, the silence stretching only to be disrupted by a couple of sharp in-takes of breath as Terrence was trying to pull himself together. “Just hang on a bit longer. Okay?”

“Okay.”

She needed a few seconds and the shrinking sound of the dial tone into her ear to realize that her brother had hung up. Job done, baby brother comforted even though there was nothing to feel comfy about.

“He shouldn’t have called,” Kellerman pointed out, speaking for the first time since they’d left the hotel.

She almost retorted with a sarcastic thanks for the free tip. Instead, she closed the cell phone and kept it in her hand. The one time Kellerman and Brinker agreed on something, it had to be on that. She could appreciate the irony of the situation. Finally feeling affected by the events of the night, she leaned the back of her skull against the headrest and let her head roll to the side to glance outside through the window. The lights of the motorcade stole the calming obscurity from her.

“When I need your opinion, I’ll ask for it,” she told the both of them in a slow and detached but final voice.

She had always liked car rides, especially nightly ones, no matter the circumstances. When she was a kid, her parents had a country house and they used to leave for it late at night, hitting their destination at the wee hours of the morning. In the backseat, Terrence had snuggled up to her, even more clingy and needy as usual if possible, to chase away the cold and the dimness. Terrence, contrary to her, had never been fond of darkness of course. He was afraid of whatever might be hiding in it, even after he’d realized that darkness was their ally. Later, during her various campaigns, car rides were pretty much the only moments that she had for herself – for thinking and plotting and scheduling and resting. Up until tonight, the vice-presidential limousine, with its luscious upholstery, protective windows and extensive equipment, had been a paragon of safety and quietness, even when it had been turned into an annex of her office with phone calls, papers and reports all over the place.

And then Samantha Brinker had entered it. And then Terrence had called and reminded her of everything she had to sacrifice. It made her wonder what else she would have to give up. She couldn’t do anything about her brother, but for a split second, Caroline indulged the thought of picking up the car phone, ordering the chauffeur to pull over and personally kicking Brinker out of the vehicle.

It would be useless. It hit her as the limo came to a halt in the airport, at the foot of the steps leading up to Air Force Two. There were agents and security procedures and guns to protect her from unknown crazy fanatics. There was nobody to protect her from Brinker and her Company acolytes. Her presence inside of the black, armored limousine, behind the tinted bulletproof windows, had just destroyed Caroline’s last illusion of safety.

-End-

Comments are always appreciated.
Dec. 6-8, 2008
 
 
Current Mood: sadsad
 
 
 
Tori: pb | bleak | always on the runtorigates on February 21st, 2009 04:49 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this! You've captured the vice president's character so well! It's weird to think I actually miss her and Kellerman! But for the life of me, I can't remember who Brinker is... whoops?
Clair de Lune: origami - canardclair_de_lune on February 21st, 2009 08:50 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot, Tori. Glad you found it to be in character.

I kind of liked Reynolds actually. Not the way I like... likable characters obviously but I had a weird affection for her, and felt sorry for her at the end of S2.

Samantha Brinker was a Company operative. How is it that people remember Jane but not Brinker even though we probably saw Brinker more often than Jane? *g* Because I'm lazy... about Brinker

Thanks again ;-)
Toritorigates on February 21st, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, ok! I remember her now. I actually only really remember who Jane is because of her popularity in fandom... I don't remember much of the episodes she was actually in. Though it's been awhile since I've watched any of those episodes...
tokenblkgirl: Prison Break: Gentokenblkgirl on February 24th, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
Finally, I get a chance to read a Caroline fic. And one as good as this one too? *g* She's such a great character and you captured her complicated nature perfectly in this fic.

Seriously loved this one and saving to mems.
Clair de Luneclair_de_lune on February 24th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks a lot for the kind comment!
She was indeed an interesting character and a great nemesis to Michael - I liked their confrontation at the end of S2.

Um, self-pimp time: I actually wrote another Reynolds centric fic a while ago, Caroline at the White House.

Thanks again. So glad you enjoyed this :)