Author: To Be Revealed
Category: Drama, General, Pre-Series
Characters: Michael Scofield, Lincoln Burrows
Requested by: clair_de_lune
Summary: When Michael’s world is shaken, he remembers the importance of family.
Author’s Note: The prompt was for gen or slash including a choice, a pair of gloves, and a snowstorm. The cabin was a request thrown in for taste. I hope this is to your liking.
Michael calls when he’s almost to the cabin.
His hand is loose on the steering wheel even though the snow is slipping under his roommate’s ten-year-old Saturn, dipping the car dangerously to the side of the road and back again. The headlights illuminate the road a few feet ahead where trees and the dim outline of a trail in the dense gloom lead him ahead and further away from the city.
The staticky rings of the phone end when the voicemail cuts on. He’s knows the message by heart and holds his breath, tries to remember what he’d practiced on the way in so that there’s no hesitation when he finally hears a beep.
“I’m leaving for a while. A friend has a place…outside of the city. I need some time alone to deal with this. Don’t be worried. I’m turning off my phone and I’ll call you when I come back. Don’t worry, okay?”
Michael presses end before he goes off script. He tosses the phone into the empty seat next to him and listens to it slide across the beaten leather upholstery and thump to the floor.
The slush of the snow is loud in the silence until he hears buzzing. His phone on vibrate. Rounding a bend in the road, the scenery changes to a battered shadow of a cabin at the end of the trail. His headlights illuminate the dark, aged wood of the door and the gleaming icicles hanging from the roof and windows.
The car comes to a jerking halt in front of a pile of snow covered fire wood and Michael sits at the wheel until the buzzing sound stops echoing through the chassis. Until he can unclench his fingers from the pockmarked leather of the wheel and reach down into the darkness to do what he said, what he meant.
Lincoln arrives 14 hours later and Michael isn’t surprised.
At sunrise, he’d succumbed and turned on his phone to call his roommate and tell him that he was okay. Jason sounded harassed from word one, working himself into a rant about how Lincoln had interrogated him and nearly punched him in the face until he told his brother of Michael’s whereabouts.
By rote, he apologized for Lincoln and promised that the older man wouldn’t ruin the cabin. It’s old, Jason told him, an heirloom from his grandfather’s hunting trips and Hemingway-esque adventures from when the land was largely uncultivated. He wrung a few more promises out of Michael about the state of the moth eaten couch and the height of the flame in the fireplace, then hung up to leave Michael waiting, feeling.
And Michael felt him. Felt Lincoln coming the same way that his mother used to say that she felt whenever one of them was sad or ached when one of them had been hurting. Michael felt his brother approaching like a tidal wave before it crashed to shore and he waited for the suffocating presence, hoped and feared it in the same heartbeat.
A few hours later, he heard him coming. From half a mile away, he heard Lincoln lumbering, in what Michael assumed was a truck of some sort, through the half-melted snow and mud, cracking every fallen branch in the forest.
Listening now, Michael wills his body to stillness and half-glimpses Lincoln’s Ford Explorer skid to a halt outside one of the cabin’s two windows. The engine’s barely off before there’s the loud slam of a car door and snow hushed footsteps. Still, Michael sits on the couch with a worn copy of Deadeye Dick in his lap, flicking the soft corners of the book until his brother barges in. Knocking has never been Lincoln’s style.
The door slams shut and the first words from Lincoln’s mouth are, “I swear, you are the biggest fucking girl I’ve never met.”
“I told you not to worry,” mutters Michael, looking up from his fidgeting fingers to Lincoln.
His brother’s snow covered shoulders are tight, primed to fight and win. He watches Lincoln take in the cabin’s sparse accommodations. The old couch facing a dying fire in the sooty brick fireplace. The dusty kitchenette on the opposite wall, adjacent to the closed bathroom door, and five steps away from an old cot with a dented single mattress. The dark gaze comes around and lands heavily on Michael, questioning but still simmering with anger.
“If you didn’t want me to worry, you wouldn’t have bothered to call.”
Michael frowns, “You would have been even more worried if I hadn’t told you.”
Lincoln drops a small overnight bag to the hardwood floor. “Then you should have saved me the worry and not run away,” he sniffs the close dusty air, “like a little pussy by the way.”
“I’m not leaving,” Michael says after a few seconds of stewing. If Lincoln feels better calling him names there’s no use arguing against it, but he’s set in his plan. “Not until I get my head right.”
Lincoln glares at Michael, undoubtedly calling him every girly name in his limited vocabulary then still in his coat, he stalks over to the tiny kitchenette, opening cupboards and taking stock of what Michael brought. He finds what he looking for, a small can of instant coffee, and leans down to figure out the two burner gas stove.
Michael pretends not to watch his brother re-heat the water sitting in the pot but knows that he’s failed when Lincoln looks right at him with laughing eyes. They sober when Michael tightens his grip on his book.
Lincoln sighs, his face telegraphing the return of his frustration better than his low voice. “So, you run away and read your book and you think you’re all cured?”
Michael opens his mouth to retort but closes it with a snap.
He knows that Lincoln can’t really believe that he thinks that. Lincoln’s trying to get a rise out of him because he thinks that Michael’s transparent only when he’s spitting mad, and maybe deep down Michael knows that he’s right.
The same way Lincoln may have been right about the real reason that he called.
But Michael’s not sure of that, he’s not sure of anything, and that’s why he’s fled here. It has nothing to do with how Lincoln is right or wrong. This has nothing to do with Lincoln at all and Michael stutters once, unstable, as he says just that.
Lincoln crosses his arms over his broad chest in response. He pours the hot water into the same mug that Michael used hours before for his own coffee and tips the dark roast until the water is murky. Michael tries to read his brother’s stillness for some sign that he’s gone too far. His brother’s a quiet man but he’s not subtle and Michael’s used to something giving Lincoln away.
Michael expects more anger. Perhaps some slamming of the mug once Lincoln’s done sipping from it or a final outburst before his brother slams out of the cabin and back to the city. The last thing Michael anticipates is the settling of Lincoln’s damp shoulders, the look of near peace on his brother’s face once he finishes the cup.
His big brother pulls on the leather tips of gloves that Michael didn’t realize he wore for all of his careful staring, tugging them off of his hands and slapping them down on the counter like he’s here to stay.
Then Lincoln says, “So you’re crazy, tell me something I don’t know.”
Michael’s fluttering stomach settles.
It’s nightfall before the brothers speak again.
Michael’s finished his book and is casting glances from the couch at the one in his backpack. The book that he really brought to read and avoided at first light.
Lincoln’s laying face up on the bed. He’s not asleep, Michael can tell, but he’s seriously bored. There’s obviously no television and the transistor radio Lincoln drudged up from the single closet can only pick up static. Michael is half-tempted to offer his book but would rather not be hit in the head with it.
The crackling of the logs in the fireplace is a strange music. Michael’s not used to such all-encompassing silence. There aren’t even birds in the cold winter and the occasional breeze rattles the windows an uncomfortable amount. He’s just waiting for Lincoln to complain about the whole cabin coming down around them.
His brother’s cell phone chirps and Michael watches Lincoln text something short back to the originator. There’s another chirp and Michael imagines that this one sounds more urgent than the first, as if the writer is upset, but again Lincoln types something back that doesn’t take more than a few seconds then drops the device to the mattress. With that, Michael knows that it can’t be LJ.
He can’t help but pry. “Someone expecting you back?”
The slept in sheets rustle as Lincoln moves. “No. They shouldn’t be.”
“You told them where you are?” Michael doesn’t say about me but it’s on the tip of his tongue.
His big brother comes up to his elbows at the question, his voice is flat. “Told them it was an emergency.”
Michael swallows shame bitter in his throat. “But it isn’t.”
Lincoln shrugs and says, “It is to you.” He collapses back to the bed with a thumping of old springs and Michael watches because there’s nothing better to do.
The wind knocks at the windows again, harder this time, and it’s only after Michael suppresses a yawn then Lincoln echoes it loudly that he says ruefully, “You didn’t have to stay. It was your choice. I didn’t make you.”
Michael isn’t whining. He’s not hurt, or at least he understands that he shouldn’t be. But there’s a painful blow to his pride that Lincoln’s here for him and bored, as if he doesn’t care. It’s always infuriated Michael that Lincoln’s so black and white, all or nothing, bored or completely entrenched.
Michael never has been the same way. Lincoln has said that Michael resembles their mother too much. He's feeling everything, all the time.
It explains everything now, why he’s so off-balance. Why he’s so wrong.
Lincoln’s voice snaps him out of his head. His brother’s sitting up again, concerned this time, and Michael hates himself a little for being pleased.
“This is why I stayed,” Lincoln continues. “You and your brain.”
Michael can’t disagree. At the moment, he has a problem with his brain as well.
Lincoln’s lying back down before Michael thinks of something to say other than an apology. There’s a huff of breath that distorts the long line of his brother’s body and Michael catches himself wondering where he’s going to sleep that night when Lincoln speaks up once more.
“That and there’s a storm coming. Heard it on the radio coming up here.”
The snow hits by midnight and sounds more like a hurricane.
Michael’s overwhelmed in minutes with the slamming, wailing, howling of the weather. The small cabin feels like it’s barely fastened to the ground. The couch Michael’s sitting on shakes with the floorboards and before long he has to get up so that he won’t think about the chances of the entire building spinning away like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.
He hides in the bathroom to escape Lincoln’s concern. His brother is not his doctor and Michael’s not going to break, not so soon after last (first) break.
But as he thinks that, he can already feel his back growing tense with stress, the individual sounds outside magnifying and blending into a nearly deafening roar. Michael reaches out to grab something, latches onto the bowl of the ancient porcelain sink and hangs on; squeezes until he can feel the tips of his fingers go cold.
“Are you alright?”
Michael jumps at Lincoln’s appearance at his side. The wind increases for a moment, so much so that Michael’s “fine” is lost to winter’s screaming and then there’s the sound of wood groaning and cracking and crashing -
“Jesus Christ,” Lincoln rushes away but Michael is sightless.
His heart has somehow traveled up his chest and wrapped around his head. It’s pulsing a frantic rhythm into his skull, muffling everything else in a haze.
There’s a seconds warning from his stomach and then he’s emptying its contents and hoping that by some miracle he’s managed to move over the toilet. Even Michael’s skin feels tight and prickly all at once, like a thousand freezing spiders are crawling over him wrapping him up in webs of ice. He imagines this is how a person feels when they’ve been mummified alive.
Then there are hands on his hands, rough calloused fingertips that are as familiar as his own guide him somewhere that his feet instinctively follow. There’s a rough cloth on his mouth then fingers on his lips prying them open for a cold capsule to land on his tongue.
He’s pushed to lie down and he knows Lincoln’s moved him to the cot.
He knows that the same way that he knows the storm is still rampant outside, that the blanket under him is a wool and cotton blend, that the fire’s died down and needs to be stoked, that the mass produced iron cot he’s on was made from heavy-gauge steel tubing, that the pillow under his head is stuffed with real feather and down, that the kerosene lantern they lit hours ago is an old railroad brakeman’s signal lamp with a clear glass globe instead of the red, that Lincoln’s switched the soap he uses to something much more expensive meaning that Veronica must be back in town, and that the radio on the bedside table is not turned off and is still hissing static.
“Turn it off,” Michael says. “Turn it all off.” He tries to tell his brain to move his body into a more comfortable position and it obeys only because of the nudge on his back.
His brother’s still touching him, making room on the bed that dips when Lincoln joins him. There’s soft stroking on his nape, his shoulder, then up across his forehead to add gentle pressure to where Michael hurts the most.
The strokes move in time to the throbbing and soothe them to a dull ache. His rolling stomach settles to a lulling current of occasional nausea.
Michael dares to close his eyes and doesn’t open them again.
“If you knew that Mom had it too would you have told me?”
By morning, the storm’s long over and Lincoln’s making coffee again.
Michael’s empty stomach is rumbling but he hasn’t seen his brother eat a thing since he arrived so he ignores the discomfort.
His brother doesn’t look up from his methodical stirring and says, “Mom didn’t have it.”
“I know but,” Michael rolls over on his side and rests his pillow-warmed face on his arm to better watch Lincoln’s reactions. “If she had, would you have told me?”
“Of course. I told you everything about Mom.”
“And did she say anything about anyone else in the family having…”
“No!” Lincoln exclaims. “I don’t know about anyone else in the family, okay? I don’t know about Dad or even Mom. I just know what she told me, which isn’t much. She lied to us all the time when she was sick.”
Michael’s disarmed by the vitriol Lincoln aims at their mother. For as long as he could remember the woman could do no wrong and though Michael’s frequently blamed her death for the things that went wrong in their lives, Lincoln’s never uttered a mean word until now.
His overtaxed mind is stalled and the silence drags until Lincoln turns away from his brew, his expression already contrite like their mother heard him.
“You’re unique, I guess,” he says with a lopsided grin.
Michael returns it half-heartedly and stretches his limbs under the bed sheets. He’d slept well. Very well, considering the last week of nearly no rest and finals. Then, two weeks ago when he was finally diagnosed there was no sleep at all.
Michael’s snug in the covers and has no intention of moving until he sees Lincoln retrieve his overnight bag. He sits up. “Are you leaving?”
“Only if you don’t need me anymore,” Lincoln responds, chuckling to himself afterwards. “But then, maybe you didn’t need me in the first place.”
“I did,” Michael says quickly, licking his lips nervously. “If you hadn’t been here last night I don’t know what would have happened.”
Lincoln sighs, looking at him. “Probably the same thing that happened last time, Michael. You snapped out of it and went to get some help.”
Michael shrugs. “I didn’t have much of choice. I was afraid.”
“Yeah, this thing, LLI, whatever, it looked pretty serious,” Lincoln says, managing to look both concerned and nonchalant. “I’m glad your doc found some medication to help.”
“I don’t have to be on it all the time,” Michael reassures. “Just when I…,” he trails off.
Lincoln nods, “Yeah.”
He grabs his coat from where he threw it, heads for the door, and Michael has the sudden urge to ask him why he even came. Why Lincoln acted so worried when he obviously didn’t want to be here. But he holds his tongue when he shifts his legs on the bed and catches a whiff of his brother on the sheets, remembers the way that his body and mind settled with Lincoln next to him, and how his anticipation of Lincoln’s arrival drove his depression away.
“Hey Linc,” Michael waits for his brother to turn. “Do you think the LLI is the reason why I am the way I am?” He doesn’t explain more, if there’s anyone who knows what he means, it’s his big brother.
Lincoln shakes his head, laughs in a short burst like it hurts him. “No, I think that’s just you being a dork.” He opens the door to the blinding white outside, slinging his dark coat onto his a shoulder. “Stop being a girl and turn on your phone. Call me when you finish your book or center your Chi or whatever it is you’re doing here.”
Michael makes a face. “I already finished my book.”
“So let’s go,” Lincoln tips his head outside.
Michael hesitates. He thinks of the research he was given by his school psychologist last week and how she suggested he use his winter break to spend some time alone figuring it all out. It’s sat in his book bag since he’s arrived and he’s been too afraid of Lincoln’s ridicule, or worse his honest interest, to take it out.
A gale of cold air blows in through the open door and Michael shivers, looks at Lincoln standing there, waiting for him.
“I have to pack up,” he says, flipping the covers away. “Close the door.”