Damian watched her strut away, self-importance practically dripping off her shoulders. Twice he'd spoken to her and he was already tired of the way she would act as though she was the master controller of the universe. Hell, he was surprised that she hadn't deemed herself the second coming of Jesus.

She had no control over him, and for her to think that she did was laughable, if not for how much more annoying he had a feeling it would become. To be quite honest, he sill wasn't sure if he liked her.

Actually, that was a lie, because he was pretty damn sure he didn't, and just hadn't yet determined how much. Coupled with the fact that he sure as all hell didn't trust her, he didn't know why he was even considering the idea of breaking out of jail with her. Then again, it wasn't as if he put up a little flyer and cut the bottom inch into little strips with his cell on it saying that he was willing to escape with the best offer available. But if they ended up trying to get out together and she screwed him over, it would be a lot worse than just waiting his sentence out like everyone else. Plus, he wasn't exactly sure if his sanity (or ego, for that matter) could take being royally fucked over twice in so many years.

About fifteen months ago, Damian pleaded guilty to the charge of two armed robberies. He got a few minutes with his fiancee before he and the lawyer appointed to him talked to the district attorney to work out a deal that included a few years less of prison than if he were to go to trial. Sophie hadn't cried, she didn't hug him, and she certainly didn't mention anything about how everything would be all right. That was okay, though, they were never that type of couple; they loved each other and didn't have to wipe every tear from the other's eye or say many words about it. She ran to the bathroom feeling nauseous once or twice, and he felt bad that his arrest was having such adverse effects on her. But she was alive, which was a lot more than he would have been able to say if he hadn't robbed those two banks. So he'd have to go to jail for 28 years. At least he'd still have her once he was out.

He wrote her a letter on his first day about how badly he was already starting to miss her and how much he hated orange. He spared her the details of the dirty walls, the dirtier men and women, the off-color food, and his bat-shit crazy cellmate, Larry. The last thing he wanted to do was scare her.

On the second day, he wrote another letter. He asked her to come visit him soon. He needed to see her face, to remember that there was life outside the prison. Also, the food tasted like shit.

The third day was worse than the first two, he wrote to her. He hated only seeing the sun for one hour each day. Orange was rapidly becoming his least favorite color. The metal toilet seat froze his ass every goddamn time he had to take a dump. He hoped she was having a much better time at home.

Five months he wrote her letters, every day without fail. Looking back, it was probably more for his state of mind than anything else. He never got a letter back, no acknowledgment that she had ever received his at all. Maybe the security guards were taking his letters on both sides? It was no secret that they checked them all first.

But nothing from Sophie, nothing at all. Not until she waddled in and tore him to pieces.

She was having a baby. Not his, but the loan shark that threatened to kill her. The loan shark that demanded $10,000, and then $15,000 from them because she never returned the money she lost playing poker. She loved him, she said. It kind of just happened. How was she supposed to sit around for twenty-eight years? She'd be almost sixty by that time and would spend half of it waiting for him to be released. It was best if he stopped writing her, because she never read them anyway.

He didn't say anything to her. Just stared at her with an unwavering blank expression that hid the woosh sound of his life collapsing around him. He was numb, only half listening to her ramble on. Half of him wanted to strangle her. Half of him wanted to strangle himself. He was already in jail, so why the hell not?

She asked if he was even listening to her.

He left without a word.

An hour later, he ended up in the infirmary with a bloody nose, a cut lip, a swollen black eye, a ringing in his ears, and four broken ribs. The other guy looked worse.

It took a couple days for his face to heal, a couple weeks for his ribs. He looked fine soon enough but constantly felt like he had a punctured lung. Soon, he realized that that was just the by-product of realizing what absolute betrayal felt like.

Since then, he lived by the adage "Once burned, twice shy." Sophie had made him a fool once, and he wasn't going to give Piper the same satisfaction. He didn't trust her, and he probably wouldn't any time soon. How he was going to break out of jail with someone he didn't have an ounce of faith in, he had no clue. All he knew was that this was going to end up causing him a lot of stress, all thanks to that bitch, Piper Castell.

At least tomorrow was Friday. He was needing a cigarette in the worst way.

The cigarette didn't really help much. It took him off edge for almost ten minutes, until he realized that in the midst of his thoughts about trusting Piper enough to escape with her, he never really thought about how he never asked about how they would actually do it.

In the scheme of things, that was a pretty important thing to know, right along with when it would happen, and what exactly made her think they would get away with it.

All of which, he didn't know.

The rest of his bi-weekly smoke became about as relaxing as sleeping in a pit of rattlesnakes. There was another thing to dislike about Piper. Maybe it would be a good idea to start a list, if not for any other reason than his amusement.

But before he did that, he had to determine whether she was purposely keeping him ignorant, or if she was just stupid and let it slip her mind. She didn't really seem like the type to forget things, especially not important things, so it had to be the first option, which meant that for some reason, she didn't think it was necessary to let him in on her little plan.

Maybe it involved him being her scapegoat. She'd tell him some sort of plan at the last second, leave out the part where he gets caught by the guards, while she tiptoes her way out as he took the fall. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed plausible. Why else would she not tell him her plan of escape?

If that ever turned out to be the case, he'd make a plan to escape just so he could kill her.

He'd give her the benefit of the doubt for now, but the second he saw her next, he'd drill her on everything she left out. But that was just because he had enough of a brain to know that if he were to hold her up against the wall by her neck and demand to know everything, he probably wouldn't get much except a swift kick to the balls. He wouldn't put it past her to do some sort of bitch shit like that.

Plus, at the moment, he had no idea where she was, which was just as well because she had ruined his smoke enough for one day.


After his hour in the prison yard, Damian laid in his bunk and helped his cellmate, Larry, write a letter to his daughter. He was locked up for the majority of her life, but he still tried to be a good father to her, writing her twice every week in addition to every Saturday she'd come in and visit him.

"'Mountain' doesn't have a W in it."

Larry started erasing. "Does now."

"That why you erasin' it?"

"Fuck you, that's why."

Damian just laughed. "What're you writing about goddamn mountains for?"

"Takin Casey to the Alps."

Right, Larry was set to be released in two months. To be honest, he was really going to miss the guy. They'd lived together since Damian first got here, and Larry had become the closest thing to a friend he had.

"You're taking your seven year old daughter hiking?"

"Why not?"

"She's seven. Take her to fucking Chuck E. Cheese and let her hike up the rope ladder to the ball pit."

Larry considered that for a second. "Fuck that, last time I listened to you, I ended up in solitary for two days."

He forgot about that. In his defense, Larry was on the verge of beating the shit out of Hash anyway, so shoving his face into the gross-ass bucket of spinach and holding it there wasn't much of a stretch. It had been well worth it and Hash never said another word about how much he'd like to bang Larry's sister ever again.

To his face, anyway.

"Well, you helped him discover his spinach allergy, so I think you did him a favor more than anything, really."

"It was funny when them girls screamed watchin' him puke," Larry ended up admitting.

"Even better because you know damn well that's the only time he's ever made a girl scream."

Larry roared with laughter and Damian smiled, not being able to keep a straight face against his cellmate's infectious laugh. Once they calmed, Larry continued to write with Damian looking over his shoulder and correcting all of the spelling errors. He finished just in time for dinner.

Damian walked slowly, unlike Larry who was always hungry and always excited for meals. He was ready for food too, but wanted Piper to sit down first. It turned out that he didn't need to take his time at all; Piper was already chowing down when he entered the dining hall.

After retrieving his food (chili, because the pot pie looked like chicken soup with flour on top) he took a seat across her.

She smiled at him, eyes gleaming and teeth showing. Damian hated that he couldn't tell whether or not it was genuine and kept his face expressionless.

"In the midst of all your bullshit, I think you forgot to mention how exactly we're doing this."

"I didn't forget anything."

"I don't know if you're going to understand this concept," Damian said. By the way her eyes narrowing replaced that winning smile, he knew he would be insulting her intelligence more often. "But if I don't know what we're going to do, the chances of this being successful are slim to none."

Piper rolled her eyes. "I never said that you wouldn't know. Maybe you should learn a bit of patience."

"Why should I have to wait for you to tell me when you're the one that asked me to do this in the first place?"

"Because I have no insurance."

"Well I'm not fucking Geico."

"No, but you do have a bank account."

If she thought he would actually pay her, she was definitely giving herself too much credit on being intelligent.

"I also have a dick that needs sucking, so if you wouldn't mind."

Piper closed her eyes and touched her eyebrow, visibly aggravated. He didn't know what her problem was; she was the one putting on some sort of need-to-know basis shit, so if anyone should look like they're on the brink of shouting, it should be him. "Clearly you don't know how to plan a successful heist, so let me break it down for you. The hard part is afterward. Any halfwit can do what we're going to do— even you, believe it or not— but not many can stay on the run for more than a week."

"Your point is?"

"My point is that if you don't want to get caught, you need to plan for what happens from the second you get to the other side of that goddamn fence to the second the authorities can no longer afford to look for you. Roughly, I'd say that'd be about two, three weeks since neither of us are that high profile and this isn't a maximum security prison."

The whole thing about planning for after actually seemed pretty good to focus on.

But he wasn't going to tell her that, of course.

"You're about as good at explaining why you want access to my bank as you are breaking the law."

"Clearly we're going to have to work on this patience thing." She paused and met Damian's glare with one of her own, as if waiting for him to open his mouth again. When he didn't, she continued, "How good do you think it's going to look if no one has touched the money in your account since you got locked up, and suddenly once you're out there's a withdrawal? My brother's good with all this technical stuff; he'll move all of your money around, give you a new identity complete with school records, passport, and social security number. The insurance here, for me, is that if you double cross me, that's fine, but you'll be broke and you'll probably get caught if you try to walk and hitchhike everywhere."

Wow, she really thought everything through—

"That's bullshit! Nowhere in your spiel did you mention anything about you double crossing me."

—for her.

"I have way better things to do with my time than put effort into breaking you out of jail because I want you to stay in."

"Yeah, and I'm going to trust you telling me that you are trustworthy. How goddamn stupid do you think I am?"

"You don't want me to answer that question honestly."

If she wasn't a girl, she probably would not have a proper functioning nose for the next few weeks. But since she was, it seemed as though Damian would be developing carpal tunnel from keeping his fist clenched for so long.

"Look." She leaned forward slightly, her pompous air deflating. "You don't have to like me. But if we're going to have any chance of getting out of here, you're going to have to trust me. I'm not going to sit around and try to convince you to, because I know that whatever I say won't make a difference."

Damian stared at her for a couple of seconds, expecting her to go on. "That's it?"

She shrugged. "Yeah, pretty much."

"You're basically expecting me to jump off a plane with no parachute with just your word that there's a big fluffy mattress at the bottom with a bunch of pillows."

"No, I'm expecting you to give me the bank account you're not using at all, and while my brother is getting everything ready for us. I'm expecting you to have a little faith."

Before Damian could give her a good answer— he took to glowering at her before answering because sometimes she made good points and he needed a decent amount of time to come up with a retort— dinner was declared over and everyone was ordered back to their cells.

She caught his arm before he was able to make an exit, and handed him a piece of paper and a pen. "There's a big fluffy mattress at the bottom with some big fluffy pillows. Don't be a pussy, Maddox; jump."

The thing is, if he really were to jump off a plane with no parachute, he would probably die anyway, pillows or not. Somehow, putting his faith in Piper seemed more dangerous.