Pairing: Lincoln/Michael (Slash, one-sided)
Summary: Lincoln's smile had always meant far too much.
Author's Notes: Pre-series story, a different take on Lincoln/Michael from my other stories. Written for the 60_minute_fics prompt of "unrequited love," and my fanfic100 Lincoln/Michael claim. This is prompt #34, "Not Enough"
Lincoln's smile had always meant far too much to Michael.
He didn't see much of it after their mother died. There was really nothing for either of them to smile about then.
He lost it for awhile—both the smile and Lincoln too. The brothers were sent off to foster care, and then split up when Michael got placed and Lincoln stayed behind. Lincoln was the luckier one then, because it was dark and lonely in that closet, the one Michael was kept in. The memory of his brother, of being together again, kept him going.
Michael was relieved when he got sent back to the main facility, then crushed to find that Lincoln was gone instead. Fortunately, it didn't last. Lincoln was a handful-- too much anger and too little hope. He returned within a month. It wasn't long before both boys realized that the secret to staying together was to keep being sent back.
When Lincoln was old enough, he went to work and got a place of his own. Michael went with him. It wasn't perfect, but they didn't expect that. It was definitely better. Lincoln was busy and he was tired, but they had their family back.
For awhile, that was enough.
Then Lincoln started staying out overnight, or he brought his women back. There were too many of them, too many names, though Michael remembered them all. As soon as Lincoln was finished with one of them, another would spring up in her place. The house was either empty or crowded, with little time in between.
Lincoln's smiles came far too easily then, and they weren't just for Michael anymore. Smiles that lit Michael up from the inside—that reminded him he was here, that he was alive—were being given to just anybody now.
Michael needed more than that. And not just more—he needed everything.
He listened inside words, and tried to discern longed-for messages in the hush of everyday fog. Lincoln's gaze holding his was a secret language with no clear translation. His name on Lincoln's tongue was a love song that no-one else could hear.
Michael outdid himself on chores, homework and thoughtfulness. He kept waiting for that spark of recognition, the one that said I see you and Thank you and the ever-elusive Yes.
He watched his brother with eyes that would have given him away, if only Lincoln had been looking. He dreamed of forbidden closeness, of kisses that woke him from his sleep when their passion made him moan.
"I love you, Lincoln," he said one evening—his voice so whispery that the sound alone embarrassed him.
"I love you too," Lincoln replied, that offhand grin nearly breaking Michael with its ease.
They weren't saying the same thing, and they never would be. But only Michael saw that.
The love Lincoln had for him wasn't shallow—it just wasn't enough.
And the thing that drove Michael to leave then was finally realizing that that part would never change.
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