Pairing: Lincoln and Michael (Gen)
Summary: They are brothers, no matter what, from the very beginning.
Author's Notes: Written for 60_minute_fics, for the prompt of "Family," and for my prisonbreak100 Gen pairing of Lincoln and Michael (prompt #43, "Heart"). Also for philosophy_20, this is "Birth.
"This is your brother Michael," his mother said.
The little bundle of blankets and pink lips and tiny, tiny fingers didn't seem like a brother. A brother was someone you could play with, someone to build forts and climb trees and color books with.
This was just a baby, who was too small to really do anything. He didn't know how to talk—he didn't even know Lincoln's name.
"Sit right here, and I'll hand him to you."
Lincoln settled into the corner of the sofa, holding the fragile softness he'd been entrusted with.
The baby opened his eyes and looked at him quietly before yawning off to sleep again.
Lincoln decided right then that he'd be Michael's brother until Michael was ready to be his.
"What are you boys up to out there?"
Mommy was in the bedroom and Lincoln was at the cookie jar. Michael stood by the kitchen door clutching his Batman figure and wishing Lincoln would hurry.
He peeked around the corner, watching how carefully Lincoln removed the top of the jar. Lincoln's touch was sure and slow, as if the lid were dynamite and the kitchen counter some kind of mine field.
Three cookies in one hand, the lid in the other, Lincoln replaced it as gently as a cloud touching the sky.
Until his hand jerked slightly and a telltale clink was heard…
Michael was across the room and on the sofa in front of the television before his mother even managed to clear the hallway.
"That your brother?" Danny Storelli asked Lincoln.
Danny was pointing down the hallway at a boy with too-short pants, a boy who didn't even notice the crowd around him as he struggled to fit his homework into his backpack.
"Yeah, it is. So?" Lincoln challenged him.
"Nothing. Just heard he was smart."
Lincoln smiled and shook his head, because Storelli had no idea.
There was smart, and then there was Michael.
And you'd better respect Lincoln's little brother, or else.
"What'll we do now that Mom is gone?"
Maybe there wasn't an answer to that, but Michael needed to believe that Lincoln could find one.
"Stick together, you and me. No matter what happens." Lincoln's hand held Michael's as tightly as if someone was already pulling them apart.
"What if they split us up?" Michael struggled past the tears that filled his throat and threatened to choke him.
"Then we'll find our way back to each other," Lincoln promised. "I'll always be your brother…"
Michael buried his face in Lincoln's shoulder, wishing he were small enough to hide there and never be taken away.
"Don't give up on me," Lincoln whispered.
"You know I won't."
Michael meant it with all his heart.
He didn't want Michael to see him like this anymore.
How many times could one man screw up and still live to tell about it? More times than he deserved, Lincoln decided. He'd already proved that point himself.
"Michael, you don't have to…"
Because Lincoln knew Michael was tired of his excuses. He'd been tired of them—of Lincoln-- several years back, before the last round landed Lincoln here on Death Row.
He shouldn't say it—he owed it to Michael to just let it go—but it was important that his brother knew:
"I'm innocent. I didn’t do it."
It wouldn't change anything except the look in Michael's eyes.
The wall against his back was cold and unyielding—no place to escape to, no way to disappear.
Outside, there was blood on the floor of the prison. One unlucky moment and it could easily have been his.
There was blood on Michael's shirt, the blood of someone who'd died in Michael's arms.
Michael's brain buzzed with images, sounds and smells. This was temporary, his time here—just a means to get Lincoln out. How could it all have gone to hell so quickly? He didn't even know why the riot had started.
It was the voice of menace, revenge for something Michael hadn't even done.
Why am I here? His body shook inside the circle of his arms around his legs.
Because it's Lincoln, came the answer, and he's your brother.
Even in this beaten-down concrete hell, that reason was still enough.
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