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15 December 2007 @ 10:16 am
Prison Break Gen Fiction: Elementary Engineering For The Holidays (Kid!Fic)  
Title: Elementary Engineering For The Holidays
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Michael and Lincoln (Kid!Fic, Gen, Fluff)
Rating: G
Summary: Michael's projects do not always turn out the way he'd like.
Author's Notes: Trifecta! 60_minute_fics workshop for "Bad New," foxriver_fic December challenge (I picked "a crushed gingerbread house"), and prisonbreak100 for #61, "Winter."

x-x-x-x-x

Lincoln generally knew when Michael was up to something, but a lot of the time he didn't know what.

Michael wasn't especially sneaky (most of the time, anyway) but he was definitely kind of… weird. Which was okay, nothing wrong with that. But Lincoln wondered what was going on in Michael's head a lot of the time, seriously. Not that asking ever cleared that up:

"Find a new book?"

"Arthropods and Sub-Phylla Distinctions."

"Huh. Yeah. Good, good. Okay, then. Have fun."

"Thanks…"

He'd catch Michael looking at the baseboards with a flashlight and a magnifying glass— Don't want to know— or mixing baking soda and vinegar together at the sink and measuring the froth, taking careful notes.

"Why?" he'd ask.

"Why?" Michael would say incredulously, like knowledge ever needed any kind of excuse. "Why?"

"Never mind."

One day he came home to a kitchen that appeared to have come under attack by a tornado. Michael sat at the table looking dejected, surrounded by crumbs and cardboard. The sink was full of baking pans.

Mom was going to be pissed.

"What's going on?"

Michael sighed. "You have to ask?"

"No, I actually do it just for fun. Yes, I'm asking—what's this huge mess all about?"

"Failure," Michael intoned solemnly.

Well just great.

There were times that Lincoln kind of knew he had a circus freak for a brother, but he kept himself from saying it because that wasn't the point. "What are all these slabs of junk on the counter and in the garbage? How much stuff did you use?"

"Not enough. It still doesn't work."

Focus on the thing at hand, which was the mess—and getting it all picked up before Mom got home. "Why don't you tell me about it while we clean this stuff up?"

The first part involved Michael hoping to surprise their mother with a gingerbread house, like the ones he'd seen in a magazine at school. "I copied the recipe and everything."

"I don't see any houses, though."

"Just rub it in, why don't you!"

Jeez, Michael got touchy sometimes. "So what happened next?"

"The article said to make this icing and use it like glue to assemble the house—"

Assemble, for crying out loud, not "put together."

"—and it didn't work! The sides wouldn't stay glued and it kept falling down, and then the roof broke and I had to bake a new one, and the whole thing's been a disaster!"

Well, that part was obvious. "What about all these crumbs?"

"I smashed the roof with my fist after it broke." Michael looked so embarrassed that Lincoln had to turn away to keep from laughing.

"So what are we going to tell Mom?" Michael finally asked.

"About what?"

"About my project and how I suck and why there's no house?"

God, Michael could be such a drama king. "Sit down for a moment and let's think." Lincoln put the sponge on the table and drummed his fingers. "Mom doesn't know you're doing this, and so she's not expecting anything. Right?"

"Yes…"

"So that's not really a problem, as long as the mess is gone. Why're you getting so worked up over it?"

Michael was silent for a moment. "Because I couldn't figure out how to get it to be like in the picture. And they shouldn't write articles about it if it doesn't work!"

"Okay…" Lincoln had definitely been down this road with Michael before. "What do you think went wrong?"

"The icing wasn't sticky enough. And the pieces of the house came out crooked—some of them aren't even totally flat."

"So, then—"

"So, you'd have to cheat to make it work."

Lincoln waited for the light bulb to go off.

"Oh," Michael said. "I could sort of cheat, maybe."

"How?" Lincoln got up quietly and filled the sink with soap and hot water.

"I could use paper clips to fasten the edges of the house together—"

"Um..."

"Or put something down on the inside for the house to lean on. Like a box or something."

"Now you're talking!" And now that it had clicked, Lincoln knew he could finish cleaning up without the distraction of dealing with Michael or having him create another huge mess on the heels of the first one. He scrubbed the dishes at lightning speed while Michael worked, happy at last.

Lincoln was just coming back from emptying the garbage in the dumpster when he saw that Michael was waiting for him.

"I think it's done—come and see."

The house sat on a piece of cardboard near the edge of the kitchen table, covered with probably way too much icing used as snow and sporting a couple of raisins and crushed peppermint pieces for decoration. And—what was it?—a stick of gum folded boxlike for a chimney.

"Nice."

"Think she'll like it?" Michael bounced on the edges of his toes while Lincoln bent down for a closer look at Michael's handiwork. There were a couple of holes visible under the icing.

"What're these?" Lincoln pointed toward the indentations.

"Uh, toothpicks," Michael admitted.

Okay—nice to know Lincoln wasn't the only one who would have thought of toothpicks to fix a problem like a corner that wouldn't stay put.

"I think she'll love it," he said finally.

That house was Michael, start to finish and all the attempts to hide the imperfections along the way.

"We don't have to tell her about the other parts," Lincoln added.

And strangely enough, it was that last news that seemed to make Michael happiest of all.


------- fin -------


Author's Notes: There IS some real experience underlying this story. A few Christmases ago, my daughter went semi-ballistic at a make-your-own-house event involving graham crackers and icing (the icing would not stick, and the house kept collapsing). A few days later, I attempted a gingerbread house using molds and the recipe that came with them. The roof slid off again and again, and the sides would not stay together because the icing was "snow" and not glue. I believe I used a paper-towel holder and *koff* glue-gun to aid that problem. And my little sister had epic!Fail at her attempt on her pfefferneus house, where she rolled the dough too thin and once the icing and candies were added, it collapsed inward. Now she puts Hamburger Helper boxes inside the house for structural reinforcement (Moms and Moms-of-the-future, "structural reinforcement" will become a big deal in crafts projects and homemade Halloween costumes, so keep that phrase in mind). ;)


 
 
 
Deadbeat Nymph: michael coydeadbeat_nymph on December 15th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful! I love the whole of it. It really hits home for me, because I get it, I really do, but the fact that you could infuse it with so much levity without actually mocking Michael's crazies is fantastic. And that Lincoln could accept Michael's weirdness so easily and with such warmth, focussing only on the pragmatic issue at hand, felt right and good.

Of course, I am now picturing adult Michael making a gingerbread cathedral for little LJ years later. :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Gen PB brothershalfshellvenus on December 15th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
but the fact that you could infuse it with so much levity without actually mocking Michael's crazies is fantastic.
He's really just an overly-bright kid with boundless curiosity (and perfectionism), and I think Lincoln knows that he himself is kind of... ordinary.

And that Lincoln could accept Michael's weirdness so easily and with such warmth, focussing only on the pragmatic issue at hand, felt right and good.
At least he's used to it by now-- and his role in never really quite knowing what Michael's all obsessed with at the moment, but 'getting' that this is always how it is. ;)

Of course, I am now picturing adult Michael making a gingerbread cathedral for little LJ years later. :D
Haha! I keep thinking of that "Castles For Kings" Kid!Fic I wrote, where Michael made this incredibly detailed sand-fortress, and Lincoln suddenly realizes that his more um, basic, creation looks like crap in comparison. ;)

Glad you liked this one, and I hope it helps put you in the holiday mood! :)
Maz (or foxxy!): Brothers 02tuesdaeschild on December 15th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
I love this so, so much! It's totally adorable, utterly Michael and you gotta feel sorry for Lincoln having a circus freak for a brother!! *giggles* Michael was just soooo precious!

In fact I loved it so much I was probably sitting here reading it with a goofy grin on my face!

I love kid!fic when it's Michael and Lincoln! And you probably do it better than anyone!

Magical! Thank you! <3
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Gen PB brothershalfshellvenus on December 16th, 2007 12:09 am (UTC)
*giggles* Michael was just soooo precious!
:D It's funny that we're so used to him by now that none of this seems that remotely strange. But when you look at it through the eyes of a regular person, who does not share these traits... Yeah, it does start to seem the tiniest bit weird. :)

I love kid!fic when it's Michael and Lincoln!
It's funny, I never used to see the appeal of Kid!Fic at all, but with both of my main fandoms I find it really fun. Part of it is seeing the precursor to the personality that comes later-- all these little hints and cemented corners of things that become more prominent later. :)
Maz (or foxxy!): Brothers 02tuesdaeschild on December 16th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it does start to seem the tiniest bit weird. :)

It does! But I think it's Michael's strangeness that makes him such an appealing character for me. It's a good strangeness, of course!

Part of it is seeing the precursor to the personality that comes later

That's exactly the attraction. It's like the building blocks that have made a character what he/she is, isn't it? Plus by it's very nature it's usually cute and I love that aspect too.

Keep giving us the kid!fic, won't you?!! As well as the gorgeous slash! :)
Recycledfaery: Michael - Sweet smilerecycledfaery on December 15th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to say much. Just that I really loved it. It was very well written, funny and sweet.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Final Hughalfshellvenus on December 16th, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
:D Thank you so much! I had fun just writing this one-- what a great combination of prompts to lead to this one idea. The Gingerbread House (destroyed) really seemed like a perfect Michael story to me for some reason. :)
tyricaltyrical on December 16th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC)
This was great.
You got the sibling/child voices down pat.
Michael is just super!cute in his perfectionism.
Lincoln sound so much like an older brother with a too smart for his own good younger brother. Yet you can see the love their and it is cuddly! I just want to hug them.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Final Hughalfshellvenus on December 17th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
Michael is just super!cute in his perfectionism.
:D Those traits tend to show up early, it seems.

One of the funny things that perfectionist typically don't get is that they don't have to solve the problem in the "perfect" or "ideal" way. If you can reach the same result by other means (like 'cheating' on making the house stand up), it's still okay.

Yet you can see the love their and it is cuddly! I just want to hug them.
:D Yay! It's sure a nice contrast to where things end up for them later. Nice to think that there were some good moments along the way (since the show is clearly not going to given them to us!). :)
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on December 17th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
Awwww, adorable :) I'm a sucker for children stories that manage to be cute and still foreshadow the future. And why do I get the impression that some, errr, personal experience might have flown into this piece? :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Final Hughalfshellvenus on December 17th, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
And why do I get the impression that some, errr, personal experience might have flown into this piece? :D
Hahahaha! You little mind-reader. I think I'm going to add some Author's Notes at the bottom. ;)
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on December 17th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC)
Well, I think everybody who has seen pictures of your ingenius cakes probably has their suspicion :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 17th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
:D The cakes have gone comparatively well, once I figured out they needed to be cold to keep the crumbs from rolling up in to the frosting. And that volcanoes are best make with waffle ice cream cones and not toothpicked-together cake. Ahhhh, toothpicks. ;)
happy is as happy does: MS and HP (Taj)happywriter06 on December 19th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
So the first house wasn't property propagated? lol

Love it!

"No, I actually do it just for fun. Yes, I'm asking—what's this huge mess all about?"

"Failure," Michael intoned solemnly.

I can just imagine the look on both their faces during this exchange.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: PB Final Hughalfshellvenus on December 20th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
property propagated? lol
Ow, I've been punned! Or something. :D I see you've pulled out your meaningful icon for this one. :)

I can just imagine the look on both their faces during this exchange.
:D It's a little hint of how they know and pester each other regularly-- Lincoln getting sarcastic, and Michael taking things far too seriously. ;)
Jas Massonjasmasson on December 28th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
Ahh. Love the brotherly love!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Gen PB brothershalfshellvenus on June 23rd, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
Hee! Thanks Jas! Now how did I miss this one way back in December? *is appalled at self*
hybridxlovehybridxlove on November 9th, 2013 07:51 pm (UTC)
I love this! I really do love how Linc is always helping Mikey in your fics, and he's so patient with him. That's love.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Gen PB brothershalfshellvenus on December 10th, 2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
I don't think Lincoln is a patient person by nature, but spending so much time "raising" Michael because their mother was a single parent...when we know how devoted Michael is to Lincoln, we also know there's probably a deep bond there that started long before the series opened.