Characters: Michael and Lincoln (Gen)
Summary: Michael and Lincoln never had the luck that other people did…
Author's Notes: Happy belated birthday to badboy_fangirl! I'm sorry this wouldn't finish sooner, but I hope you like it all the same.
Also for my prisonbreak100 challenge, this is "Star," and for philosophy_20, this is "Faith."
Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…
Lincoln’s mother taught him that rhyme when he was little, along with other important secrets about stars and wishes— including the shooting stars people rarely ever saw. Stars were for winter, when they came out early enough that he was awake, and Lincoln thinks he might have used up a lifetime of wishes on asking for puppies and red bicycles, and then later for Dad to come back home.
When Michael got older, he learned that ritual too. Michael wanted many of the same kinds of things as Lincoln, the difference being that this was Michael: he wanted toys, but he also hoped for an ant farm, a chemistry set, and a real solar eclipse. And eventually, just like Lincoln, his thoughts turned to more serious wishes like having their Mom get well again.
Hope never had it easy, growing up in their house.
Nothing, not even the magic of a star, came forward to keep them together as a family after their mother died. No amount of wishing could change the foster care system, or keep Lincoln’s inability to cope with frustration from edging over into fighting and drugs. Soon Lincoln belonged to the juvenile justice system, while Michael hung onto knowledge like a buffer between himself and the real world, using it to survive living in strange houses that never came close to feeling like home.
There finally came a time when their luck overlapped. Lincoln was out of Juvie and Michael was placed with him— a miracle, given Lincoln’s past. Some delayed burst of providence must have found them then, though it didn't last. Lincoln’s girlfriend got pregnant and everything grew complicated, as she and LJ threaded through the brothers’ lives while Lincoln frayed under the added responsibility until their relationship broke. Soon it was just Michael and Lincoln again, then Lincoln alone when Michael went to college. Michael based his dreams on his academic abilities then, where the star was Michael himself— radiant with possibilities.
His fortunes rose while Lincoln's fell.
Maybe what was hopeless was the idea that their family was viable, destined for anything but to fall into pieces and be scattered to the winds. As time went on, Michael's future unfolded toward a career, and Lincoln's failings culminated in a prison sentence—an adult transgression that could never be bartered away.
Michael's aspirations were for himself then, and Lincoln's were for everyone else: his son, his brother and Veronica, all the people he'd let down who were more likely to succeed without him.
When Lincoln went to prison for shooting the Vice President's brother, that was the last straw. Michael gave up on Lincoln entirely, except for his duty at visiting hours. Lincoln had crossed the final line and he'd pay for it with his life, and Michael couldn't imagine how the two of them had ever wound up here—not even after everything Lincoln had done so wrong before.
Lincoln was guilty, and any hope of him escaping punishment would be wasted. The crime was too severe and too high-profile for that.
But somewhere in the middle of having nothing left but to go through the motions, the unexpected happened. Michael got desperate enough that he actually heard what Veronica had been telling him all that time— Veronica, who'd never stopped believing Lincoln was innocent of that final crime.
If Lincoln hadn't done it, that changed everything for Michael. Possibility crept in through the cracks until it became a full-fledged idea, on its way to being architected into a plan.
At a time when no reasonable person would have dared to hope, Michael did. He had no magic or ritual behind him, but he had knowledge and determination. They had served him better than anything else in his life.
Star light shone through the window on those late nights when Michael put up people and places and facts on his apartment wall, trying to force the pieces to fit.
Star bright—Michael would stare trancelike into the midnight sky, where a single, radiant point would gleam and blur as his focus turned inward to where the details of his plan were waiting.
I wish there were an easier way, Michael would think, something like having the evidence to prove Lincoln's innocence instead of needing the drastic measures he was all-too-prepared to take.
But Michael was old enough by then to know that you can make your own luck if you have to.
For Lincoln, he could form a solution out of iron and concrete and timing.
For Lincoln, he would make the impossible come true…
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